Light Blogging Coming To An End

The First Of The Year crush at work is almost over, meaning I will soon be back to my usual blogging schedule. As this was the first year I've taken on the extra duties at work, I had no idea how much work it would take to complete the tasks. But the end is in sight and I expect to finish tomorrow.



SOTU 2014

I just finished the State of the Union address and there are two immediate observations I have to make.

First, Obama used I/me/my 78 times. (I did not include those words used in a different context such as when he was quoting a letter.) This total was one of the lowest I've seen from Obama's SOTU speeches.

Second, did anyone notice that Joe Biden looks like Walter from Jeff Dunham's act? The only difference between Walter and Joe is that Joe has a little more hair on his head.

Another observation: Obama included quite a few egregious canards, including the number of people signed up for ObamaCare, the unemployment rate, income inequality, the quality of the American public education system, the energy strategy, and a few other whoppers.

In other words, it was a typical Obama campaign speech.


Thoughts On A Sunday

It was a quiet weekend here at The Manse with only the usual chores and errands to run. I'n not complaining by any means as these kinds of weekends are few and far between. About the most exciting thing I had to deal with all weekend was putting the new registration stickers on the trusty F150 and Deb's Civic.


A colleague from the UK was visiting our lab this past week. Considering what he usually experiences in the way of winter weather, out frigid New England winter temps were a bit of a shock to him. Of course, being the kind of wise-ass New England Yankee that I am, I told him that what he was experiencing was what we call the January Thaw. (It was -3ºF the morning I told him this.) His response: “You mean it's usually colder than this? Bloody hell!”

The look on his face was priceless.


I saw this in a comment to a piece I linked to yesterday and I knew I had to work it into another post. I think it amply demonstrates that even if all wealth was distributed equally, the outcome would not be equal, something the Left still refuses to recognize.

If you took all the wealth in America, converted it all to cash, and gave everyone an equal amount, within a few years the ones who had nothing before will have nothing again while those rich before would be again. Look at how many lottery winners go broke while so many wealthy had been bankrupt. Some people are just good at generating wealth, and it's not something that you can learn in school.

Indeed. Having a lot of money is not the same thing as being wealthy as it is more a state of mind and action than having someone just dump a lot of money into your bank account. Remaining wealthy takes work, something which many of the chronic poor have no experience. Too many of them have had things handed to them by the government their entire lives.


Deb had a small accident last night on the way home from work. She was only a few hundred yards from home when a small pug ran across the front of her car. She tried to stop, but with the snowfall we'd had last night braking traction was minimal and she hit the poor little dog. To say she was upset would be understating things

To make a long story short, we couldn't find the dog even thought she knew it had been under her car. Neither BeezleBub, one of our local police officers, or I could find the little dog, though we did see tracks heading back up the hill from the accident scene.

With all of this in mind I have to ask one question: What was this little dog doing outside past midnight on a night that was well below freezing? Between the temps and the fact that there are plenty of night predators that would easily make a meal of that dog, what the heck was the little guy doing out that time of night?


Wendy Davis isn't getting anywhere near the abuse she deserves.

If she's willing to abandon her own family for her political ambitions, what else will she be willing to sacrifice? Maybe her constituents' rights, property, and money? That certainly seems to be her pattern.


Tom Perkins wonders whether a Progressive Kristallnact is coming.

Writing from the epicenter of progressive thought, San Francisco, I would call attention to the parallels of fascist Nazi Germany to its war on its "one percent," namely its Jews, to the progressive war on the American one percent, namely the "rich."

This is a very dangerous drift in our American thinking. Kristallnacht was unthinkable in 1930; is its descendent "progressive" radicalism unthinkable now?

I have come to redefine the term “Progressive” to mean “totalitarian”. After all, so many of them are pushing for a totalitarian state where everyone except them will have to submit to the will of The State. Oh, they won't come right out and say it, but when you take all of the programs, propaganda, and push towards ever more restrictive laws that make everyone a criminal, it all leads to one outcome: destruction of freedom and a complete takeover of everyone's lives by a self-proclaimed elite.


As a follow-up, we can always look to the Totalitarians of New York if we need to see what we're headed for unless we stop this nonsense now.

Bill de Blasio's focus after his petty and mean-spirited inauguration was a ban on carriage horses in Central Park at the behest of a real estate developer who backed his campaign and has his eye on their stables, a tussle over who will get the credit for Pre-K with Governor Cuomo and the beating of Kang Wong, an 84-year-old man, over a jaywalking ticket.

The media had lavished praise on Bill de Blasio after his first photo op shoveling snow and celebrated his call to implement Vision Zero, a Swedish plan to cut traffic fatalities to zero, even though there was no remote possibility of reducing traffic fatalities to zero in a major city filled with cars, pedestrians, cyclists and even pedicabs.

nstead of preparing for the snow, Team De Blasio launched a crackdown on jaywalking in Manhattan where three-quarters of the residents don't own cars. And so the Upper East Side, which didn't vote for Bill de Blasio, became a snarled and unplowed mess and the jaywalking enforcers put an 84-year-old-man in the hospital after arresting him for the tall order of "jaywalking, resisting arrest, obstructing governmental administration and disorderly conduct."

That's how it starts, with the small 'offenses' and progresses to widespread corruption, arbitrary laws and uneven application of law. Then again with a Marxist mayor now in charge, I expect to see a rapid decline of New York City. What will accelerate the decline is technology, where the need for the financial institutions, i.e. Wall Street, to remain in New York no longer exists. And should de Blasio succeed in driving out Wall Street, New York will become the East Coast Detroit because all of the money the city depends upon will disappear with the Wall Street institutions.

And to think the voters of New York voted for the decay of their own city.


Is it a surprise to anyone that ObamaCare is a major #FAIL?

However, if it's real purpose was to destroy the health care system in the US and ensure that no one receives adequate medical care, except the elite, of course, then it has been a rousing success.

Of the two I am inclined to believe the first because, quite frankly, I doubt anyone within the White House is smart enough to pull that off. Instead I attribute it to the sheer incompetence that defines the Obama Administration. After all, Obama has always been good at campaigning but has no ability to govern. If nothing else the past 5 years has proven that. All of his speeches sound like a stump speech, filled with vague promises, setting goals with no road map on how to reach them, and excoriating anyone who dares question his ideas or intelligence.

It will be interesting to see if he follows the same pattern again for his upcoming State of the Union address Tuesday evening. If I had to lay odds, I'd say it's a sure thing.


And that's the news from Lake Winnipesaukee, where the cold temps are still with us, the woodstove is running 24/7, and where the woodpiles are getting smaller at a rapid rate.


McDonald's As A Metaphor For The Downside Of Raising The Minimum Wage

As I and others have written more than once, Democrats are waging war on the working men and women, specifically the younger workers – meaning teens – by pricing them out of the market by way of pushing for an increased minimum wage. They sell this 'war' by using the oft discredited claim that “no one can support a family making minimum wage” and “it will help lift the working poor out of poverty.” But their excuses ring hollow as every time the minimum wage has gone up the only thing that's increased has been unemployment.

To reiterate for those who still don't get it, the minimum wage was never meant to support a family. It was meant primarily for entry-level jobs, i.e. first jobs. A majority of those taking those jobs were teens, people with little or no experience in the working world. Nor was it meant as a way to lift people out of poverty. Jobs in general are the only way to lift anyone out of poverty. But that hasn't stopped those who believe otherwise. Of course many of those same people have no understanding of economics, meaning actual economics, not the long disproven Marxist/Socialist economics so often embraced by the Left.

One of the basic tenets of economics is that if the cost of some commodity goes up, demand for it will fall. Either the consumers – that's you and me – will not buy as much as they did in the past or they won't buy it at all. This same principle applies to labor. If the cost of labor goes up, specifically if the cost increase is artificial, there will be less demand for it. This is the principle that applies to the minimum wage. Every time the minimum wage goes up, the demand for labor goes down. A perfect example of that effect is amply demonstrated by the iconic American fast food chain, McDonalds.

McDonalds recently went on a hiring binge in the U.S., adding 62,000 employees to its roster*. The hiring picture doesn’t look quite so rosy for Europe, where the fast food chain is drafting 7,000 touch-screen kiosks to handle cashiering duties.

*The linked article dates back to 2011, but it illustrates the problem of artificially high wages – dce

What was the difference between the US and European hires? There were two: Minimum wages were (and are) are higher in Europe; and in some European countries labor laws make laying off un-needed employees extremely difficult. When the cost of hiring an employee reaches the point where it's cheaper to replace them with a machine, then the employee will be replaced by a machine. But that lesson has been ignored by the Left here in the US.

When the protests/strikes by fast food workers in the US took place this past fall, demanding $15 an hour for wages, little did many of those protesting realize that if they did get what they wanted that a lot of them would end up losing their jobs to a machine. Did they really think they were worth what are skilled-labor wages for unskilled labor jobs? Obviously they did. Did they believe that the owners of the various franchises would keep them on if they could easily be replaced by less expensive machines? Obviously they did. But if they got their way, they would have learned the lesson that a number of buffet restaurant employees in a casino did when they had their wages artificially raised by a labor arbitrator: the casino closed the restaurant because with a 140% increase in wages it went from being profitable to unprofitable and 175 employees lost their jobs. They priced themselves out of the market and the business owner pulled the plug.

Does this sound heartless? To the Left it does. To many of them the purpose of any business is to provide jobs, even if the business loses money. After all, aren't business owners merely greedy capitalists exploiting the working man (and woman)? Isn't it the duty of businesses to carry out the social programs created by the government? The answer to both question is not just “No”, but “Hell, no!”

Government doesn't create jobs, doesn't create businesses. Individuals do, in many cases in spite of overreaching and nonsensical government regulations. That they succeed at all is amazing. When government then interferes and skews the costs of doing business upwards it can turn a money making business into a money losing business, something that cannot be sustained before it finally goes bankrupt, a little side effect the Left purposely ignores.

To get back to the main subject, do the Democrats really think they will help anything by raising the minimum wage yet again, and particularly during an ongoing recession? (Yes, the recession is still here despite the government's assurances to the contrary. All one has to do is ask the average consumer about how well they're doing and how much they're spending, and a majority of them will tell you they're barely hanging on and have cut back on spending across the board. Certainly many retail stores can tell you consumers aren't spending as more of the big chain retailers have been closing stores as sales have fallen off.) Again the Dems will use their old and worn excuses to support the idea even with plenty of examples proving it won't work. They aren't trying to help out the working men and women. What the Democrats are trying to do is buy their votes with the empty promise of how a higher minimum wage will “fix things”. (What they also fail to mention is that about 2% of those still in the labor force, are paid minimum wage.)

If the Democrats get their way we will likely see a lot of our familiar fast-food chain restaurants go through a transformation as many of those at the front counter are replaced with ordering kiosks and some of the cooks out back are replaced by a robot.

That ought to help the unemployment numbers.



Another Democrat Applies The Double Standard

And the hits keep on coming.

It seems that no matter what Wendy Davis does to try to deflect and minimize the brouhaha about he callous remarks about and baseless accusations against her gubernatorial opponent, Greg Abbot, it merely makes matters worse for her. But she keeps doubling down, brashly applying the typical Democrat double standard by trying to make her private life “off limits” to the press and her opponent even though she kept talking about how hard she had it as a single mom. (Even that's a stretch as she didn't have a baby out of wedlock – the usual definition of single mom - but was divorced, her ex was paying child support, and she was going to school.)

She glosses over the fact that she merely used her second husband, having him pay for her attendance at Harvard Law School then divorcing him once he made the last payment on her school loans. (He had also cashed out his 401(k) to help pay for law school.) She didn't just shed herself of her husband, but of their daughter as well after he fought for and received sole custody. I guess being a mother was cutting into her career time, so rather than wasting time being a mom she 'dumped' her daughter and has devoted all of her time on her political career.

What a scumbag.


Thoughts On A Sunday

The January thaw has ended here in New England with the return of winter weather (snow yesterday) and plunging temperatures.

A lot of the errands I would normally taken care of on Saturday were delayed until today and today's errands I took care of yesterday as the weather was more conducive to that swap and my chores easier to complete. I am nothing if not flexible.


I'm not going out to snowblow until noon today as it's still snowing as I write this, though lightly, and I don't feel the need to have to perform a follow-up 'clean up', particularly if it occurs during today's game between the New England Patriots and the Denver Broncos. Nope. Not gonna happen.


Our friends over at GraniteGrok got a plug today in Chris Muir's Day By Day cartoon.


Yes, America is the Single Mother Nation, and that explains a lot, including poverty and crime. According to Maria Shriver, the solution to the problem is anything but men.

Yeah, that's worked out so well over the past 50 years.


Skip brings us seven data points about the Obama Economy.

I can sum it up with two words: It sucks.


Who'd a thunk it?

If you increase the cost of something the demand for that something will go down.

That's what 175 employees of a buffet restaurant within a casino found out after they won a huge pay increase from $5/ hour plus tips to $12/hour. The restaurant went from making money to losing money and the casino decided to close it rather than take a perpetual loss. Their pay increase by way of an arbitrator was a Pyhrric victory because it cost them their jobs.

This begs the question whether a big increase in the minimum wage, such as the type congressional Democrats have been pushing for, will have a similar effect across the American economy? Of course it will. In fact it will give incentive to replace human workers with machines that will cost less and be more efficient, just like this burger-making robot would do for fast food restaurants.

Whenever labor costs are artificially raised people lose their jobs because it becomes cheaper for businesses to automate functions previously handled by those now out-of-work humans.


Thought this dates back a little over a week, it does express a number of virtues that I have experienced all through my life.

Sippican delves into the subject of wood, specifically fire wood, and the labor it entails during the winter.

We heat The Manse with a woodstove, going through about 3 or 4 cords between October and April. And while we haven't had to fell trees, cut, split, and stack the wood for drying for the past couple of years (we now buy it from one of the local suppliers), we have had to move it and restack in the back of our garage to make it available during the winter. Refilling the wood box next to the stove is a daily chore, requiring two or three trips between the wood stack and the stove.

At the end of this coming week we will take delivery of the last 2 cords we purchased, meaning more work to move and stack our supply. And like Sippican, we will show no enthusiasm for the task, nor will we complain. It is merely something that must be done.


Glenn Reynolds points us to a Reader's Digest piece that puts the American public education system in a bad light, stating that as it is structured it is damaging our children. They'll get no argument from me about that.

Children are required to be in school, where their freedom is greatly restricted, far more than most adults would tolerate in their workplaces. In recent decades, we’ve been compelling them to spend ever more time in this kind of setting, and there’s strong evidence that this is causing psychological damage to many of them. And as scientists have investigated how children naturally learn, they’ve realized that kids do so most deeply and fully, and with greatest enthusiasm, in conditions that are almost opposite to those of school.

Most students—whether A students, C students, or failing ones—have lost their zest for learning by the time they’ve reached middle school or high school. In a telling research study, professors Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and Jeremy Hunter fitted more than 800 sixth through 12th graders, from 33 different schools across the country, with special wristwatches that emitted a signal at random times of day. Each time they received a signal, the students filled out a questionnaire indicating where they were, what they were doing, and how happy or unhappy they felt at the moment. The lowest levels of happiness, by far, were reported when the children were in school, where they were often bored, anxious, or both. Other researchers have shown that, with each successive grade, students develop increasingly negative attitudes toward the subjects taught, especially math and science.

With few exceptions I always found school to be interesting, even fun. Then again, I grew up during the Space Age, when anything was possible and our schools promoted that belief. Again, with few exceptions, most of my teachers were enthusiastic about their subjects and made them interesting. More than one science teacher let me and my fellow students go “off curriculum” when a subject of interest caught our attention. After all, back then learning was what was important and not the method used to achieve it.

Most of that changed, particularly in the past 20 years, where the amount of time spent in class, an inflexible curriculum, and the maintenance of 'discipline' became far more important than the students actually learning something. (I could go on about so-called discipline, but that would take an entire post devoted just to that subject and I don't have the time today.)

Is it any wonder our kids are bored and are exhibiting learning and behavior 'problems' that are in fact the fault of the learning environment?


In regards to the ongoing Twitter war about #WhiteWomanPrivilege, where it appears a Blue on Blue engagement has heated things up, the best tweet has to one from actor Adam Baldwin (no, not Alec Baldwin, Adam Baldwin) commenting on this Blue on Blue battle:

Nobody expects the #TwitterInquisition!



By way of Cap'n Teach comes this story from the Lonely Conservative, who reveals information about ObamaCare that the White House and the ObamaBots might not want to be revealed.

What earth-shattering news could that possibly be?

Most of those enrolled in ObamaCare had health insurance until ObamaCare killed their coverage.

Oops. I'd call that a major #FAIL.


To quote Glenn Reynolds, “They told me if I voted Republican, we'd see McCarthy-style blacklists, and they were right!”

Actress Maria Conchita Alonso was fired from a San Francisco theater production after she endorsed Tea Party gubernatorial candidate Tim Donnelly.

Alonso has never hidden her stands on illegal immigration (she's against it) and she has never shied away from taking unpopular positions. (Translation: conservative views, something banned in ultra liberal San Francisco and barely tolerated in slightly less ultra-liberal Los Angeles.)

So much for the oh-so-tolerant Left.


And that's the news from Lake Winnipesaukee, where winter has returned, the temperatures are headed for the cellar, and where wood boxes will be kept full to hold off the coming arctic chill coming our way.


The Patronizing (And Fearful) Left

Assistant Village Idiot has the right of it, doing a reasonably good analysis of the same stale arguments used by the Left to dismiss the concerns or denigrate the beliefs, political or social, of conservatives. A case in point:

My uncle uses this line of attack in our correspondence as well, when discussing the Tea Party, or conservatives in general.  He describes them as afraid of change, feeling threatened, and attributes their inability to get on board to this fear.  It comes up often in commentary coming out of the NYT or other thoughtful observers of the American scene. It is one of those ideas that just circulates on the left unquestioned.  It even inspires some pity in them - those poor saps aren't necessarily so bad, they're just like children, or demented old people, who must be led around gently by the adults in the family.

What nice people, with deep understanding of those they disagree with, eh?

The phrase "bitterly clinging to their guns and religion" might occur to you about now. Or the book What's The Matter With Kansas?  Or a hundred other bits of patronising nonsense.

I and a number of my fellow local conservatives in the area have dealt with this attitude over the years, with the most blatant demonstrations of this mindset having come from the same half dozen or so, dyed in the wool followers of Marx, two of which are faculty at a couple of our local institutions of higher learning. (That automatically tells me that they haven't a clue how things work in the real world as they are shielded from the realities the rest of us have to deal with every day.)

The Left accuses conservatives of being afraid change, of not being intelligent enough to embrace change even if that change is a bad thing. This must come from the “Just do it” philosophy that started back in the late 60's, a derivation of the “If it feels good, do it” mentality that was so prevalent back then. But we aren't afraid and never have been. Concerned? Yes. Afraid? No. It isn't conservatives who fear change.

My reading of the news is that it is liberals who fear things.  They fear climate change, even though there doesn't seem to be much, and much of it might be beneficial.  They fear GM foods, even though those have #deaths=0 and organic foods have #deaths=millions.  Even recently, a lot. They fear even reporting human biological diversity and racial differences.  They fear home schooling. They fear concealed carry and those icky people that even want to own guns. They fear free markets - okay, I grant, I fear what is (wink,wink) called the free market these days when it has enormous amounts of rent-seeking from the government.  George Weigel notes the strong correlation between optimism and having children.  Who's having children?  Evangelicals.  Mormons. Orthodox Jews.  So who's afraid, here?

I have no problem with change. I never have, even if at times it was distressing and threw my life into disarray. I've dealt with it my entire life and have known it was a part of life. What I don't like is change for change's sake, meaning if something works why change it unless something better comes along? But I have seen “change for change's sake” foment nothing but disaster, taking something that worked and replacing it with something so dysfunctional that it ended up destroying the very thing it was supposed to 'help'. In most cases that change wasn't well thought out, ignoring both the Law of Unintended Consequences and human nature. What's worse is that sometimes the change goes back to something that's been tried before and was a dismal failure, but those pushing for the change thought that they would get it right this time. (We're seeing that now with the election of a communist mayor in New York City. I wonder how long before he and his cronies undo all the progress that's been made and return New York to the bad old days of widespread poverty, decaying neighborhoods, and the high crime rates the 70's and 80's?) This type of change also indicates, at least to me, that the Left is afraid of the future and are seeking to return to conditions that existed in the past, even if those conditions were harsh, terrifying, and bad for everyone. Is it a case of better the devil you know than the devil you don't know?

The accusation that it is conservatives who fear the future is projection.  There is enough truth in it to sustain believability in people who need only scraps to feel that they are the brave, new, vanguard of modernism when they are actually the timid ones. Yes, fearless. Speaking Truth To Power has come to mean "telling your friends what they wan[t] to hear."

Yeah, it's always easy to preach to the choir. It's hard to point out the truth to those who don't want to hear it, or worse, are incapable of hearing because they have been programmed not to.

So endith the lesson.


Light Blogging

As some of you may have noticed, blogging by yours truly has been light. This hasn't been due to lack of interest on my part. I've always got plenty to post about. But at times things like work and life intrude. That means blogging isn't as frequent as it otherwise might be.

In this case it's been work, with the usual beginning of the year scramble being extended due to new duties I've taken on, that being calibration of all of our optical equipment. While such calibration is nothing new to me, it's the amount of equipment that requires calibration that has drastically expanded. That means rather than a few days of calibration it will take all month to calibrate all of the equipment. It also means trying to get into work early and staying late, leaving little time to do anything other than work, eat, or sleep. Blogging has taken a back seat, meaning fewer posts since the first of the year.

As soon as all of the calibrations are done, regular blogging will resume. In the mean time my blogging will be lighter, at least during the week. However, weekend blogging will be as always. After all, this blog isn't called Weekend Pundit for nothing.


Sarah Palin Was Right

It turns out Sarah Palin was right.

She had slammed ObamaCare, telling everyone that the review panels would be nothing more than “death panels”, deciding who lives and who dies. She was derided as being paranoid and delusional in her assessment.

Then comes along ex-New York Times editor Bill Keller who thinks 37-year-old Stage 4 cancer patient Lisa Adams should give up her fight and die. His wife Emma feels uncomfortable that Adams is tweeting about her fight against breast cancer because she sees the tweets as “deathbed selfies.”

In so many words, Keller just can't bring himself to understand why Adams doesn't give up her fight and die. In his mind, her death is inevitable and all she's doing is spending a lot of money that could be better spent elsewhere.

Who the hell is he to tell anyone she should just get it over with and die? It doesn’t matter what the experiences he’s had with terminal cancer, specifically that of his father-in-law. It’s not his decision whether Amy lives or dies…but apparently he thinks it should be because she “is spending a lot of money that could be better spent elsewhere.” Call it the first step down a slippery slope. What could possibly drive Heller’s opinion?

This all seems to stem from the left's horrific view of humans as a biological accident, and life as nothing more than utilitarian, as opposed to something sacred.

The Kellers are engaging in life-shaming, which like fat-shaming, is an excuse to tell someone else what to do while couching it in a "greater good" argument. To hell with personal freedom, let's force people to be healthy because obesity costs our beloved State money.  And now this brave woman, who is understandably desperate to see her children grow up, and who believes sharing her story will help others, is being life-shamed on the pages of the Guardian and New York Times because the Kellers are made uncomfortable by the idea of someone making the personal choice to stay alive for every possible day and minute she can.

As I mentioned earlier, it’s the first step in a slippery slope. How long before the Kellers or their leftist brethren start positing about “life unworthy of life” and pushing solutions that have not been implemented since the mid-1930’s? If those selfishly clinging to life aren’t willing to voluntarily pull the plug, how long will it be before the decision is made by one of our “betters” that such a person should be put out of ‘our’ misery, all in the name of the “greater good”? The bureaucratic instruments to make those decisions possible are already in place via ObamaCare. After all, ObamaCare has been a means of the government taking over the health care industry, creating artificial shortages of health care professionals and then rationing the heck out of what’s left, just as was done in the UK when they implemented their National Health Service.

In Britain’s NHS, some decisions are made not by the patients or the physicians, but by government bureaucrats with little or no medical knowledge or experience. The same will be true in the US assuming we don’t finally kill off ObamaCare, but I digress.

From mere observation we know that the Left loves humanity but hates humans. What else explains their deep-seated need to take control of other people's lives? That has certainly been made evident as ObamaCare started being implemented. Could it be that they are really nothing more than Soylent Green liberals?

The left’s mask of compassion slipped late last year as they attempted to dismiss millions losing their health insurance as an overall positive.

So in effect their serving us turd sandwiches while trying to convince us that they're really roast beef sandwiches and they're surprised when we call them on the deception. They really think the American people are that stupid and they get upset when we tell them we aren't buying their bulls**t. How...how...typical of them. They really don't get it that we don't want them to run our lives. Why would we? After all they're as screwed up as the rest of us, if not more so, and they are neither smart enough or wise enough to run anyone else's lives, let alone their own.


Thoughts On A Sunday

Yesterday we celebrated the WP Mom's 80th birthday with a gathering at Manchester's Puritan Backroom.

Most of the WP clan was there, though a few couldn't make it due work, distance, or the short notice provided by the youngest WP Sister about the gathering.


What made the celebration of the WP Mom's birthday really interesting was the weather, with freezing rain overnight and into the morning and then plain rain which at times was very heavy. As temps rose during the day fog started forming and made the driving conditions even more treacherous as visibility dropped to almost zero here and there. The trip home from the gathering had a very high “pucker factor”, between the dark, fog, and ice. As it was the last 75 feet of travel back to The Manse was the most dangerous because of the ice and rain covering the driveway. We had to walk down the slope in the snow because otherwise we had no traction.

The driveway was so slippery that even with sand BeezleBub couldn't make it up the driveway in his 4WD truck to take Horse Girl home, so she ended spending the night here at The Manse.


The New England Patriots played the Indianapolis Colts in Foxborough last night in the second round of the AFC playoffs, beating them 43-22.

What I though interesting wasn't so much the game as it was the CBS commentators apparent bias towards the Colts, endlessly going on and on about how great they were and their potential to win. I don't recall ever seeing something like that during any of the NFL games I've watched over the years.


Are Americans becoming “weather wimps”?

For some, I'd have to say the answer is yes. For many of us older Americans I'd have to say no.

In the past 115 years, there have been 58 days when the national average temperature dropped below 18. [Greg] Carbin said those occurrences often happen in periods that last several days so it makes more sense to talk about cold outbreaks instead of cold days. There have been 27 distinct cold snaps.

Between 1970 and 1989, a dozen such events occurred, but there were only two in the 1990s and then none until Monday.

"These types of events have actually become more infrequent than they were in the past," said Carbin, who works at the Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Okla. "This is why there was such a big buzz because people have such short memories."

While the article linked goes on to say these cold spells are likely to be uncommon due to global warming, I have a feeling we're going to start seeing more of them if we enter a solar minimum as many solar astronomers and physicists have predicted we have. Should that occur, I believe we'll be seeing even more of them and they will be of a longer duration than the one we just experienced.


The 6.7% unemployment rate isn't something to crow about, despite what the White House may want you to believe.

That number tells us how many still collecting unemployment are out of work, but it doesn't reflect the actual unemployment rate which is still around 14%. What's worse is that the labor participation rate is the lowest it's been in almost 4 decades and is heading lower. Basically, a lot of people have gone Galt and are no longer looking for work.


Just because someone has better health insurance doesn't automatically mean they have better health care.

Heck, just because someone has health insurance doesn't automatically mean they have access to health care, something proponents of ObamaCare have chosen to ignore. It's also something I've been saying for over three years.


Compare and contrast: Governor Chris Christie's response to scandal versus that of President Barack Obama.


And that's the (abbreviated) news from Lake Winnipesaukee, where the weather has allowed more melting, the winds have been gusty, and where droves of those of the ski crowd bailed early because of the wet weather Saturday.


Put Down The Phone And Live Life

Even though this appeared on Instapundit a few days ago, I felt it deserved another go.

Since I first saw this I have being paying attention and noticed far too many people being almost mesmerized by their smart phones, being someplace without actually being there, as if reality was to be found only on their phones and everything else was merely an illusion. Is it any wonder 'socializing' has shifted from being face to face with people to interacting with them through a phone screen? Is it a problem that more people have their attention being absorbed by games, social networks, or the web on their phones rather than what's actually going on around them?

One of my co-workers agreed with me after viewing the video above, telling me she had seen two of her nieces texting each other even though the were sitting across from each other at a family gathering. Shouldn't they have been talking rather than texting?

I saw something similar here at The Manse during one Thanksgiving, with many of the younger members of the WP clan spending most of their time hunched over their phones, texting their friends during a time they should have been interacting with the family members around them. If they weren't doing that they were engrossed in some game they were playing on their phone. They were physically present but they weren't there. I doubt any of them had much in the way of memories from that otherwise awesome Thanksgiving.

It's not that Deb, BeezleBub, and I don't text. We do, BeezleBub more so than either Deb or I. But we don't do it nearly as much as many around us. Both Deb and I use it to send messages that aren't urgent, usually having to do our schedules or something we need to pick up at the store. If it's urgent, we call. BeezleBub texts with Horse Girl, but usually after he's gotten home from her place some time in the evening. He also uses occasionally it at work as it helps to make sure there are no misunderstandings about what needs to be done, when, and with which farmhands. But that's the extent of his texting. And like me, he has expressed that he has no desire to upgrade his phone to one of the smart phones as he knows it could easily become a distraction.

I'm beginning to think that we have to re-socialize people, starting with banning the use of phones at social events. Either they turn them off or leave them in their cars or coat pockets, or 'check' them with the host. If people are going to be at such an event then they should actually be there and not feeding their electronic communications addiction.


A Good Form Of Carbon

It's been a while since I covered anything technical, so I figured it was time to fix that.

So what's the topic this time around? Carbon.

No, not the carbon the AGW crowd has been obsessing about, but graphene, a form of carbon that has very unusual properties and may soon replace silicon in electronics and copper in wiring. And graphene may only be the beginning.

For the past decade, graphene has been the undisputed champion of the material world. This single atom thick layer of carbon is the thinnest known material and the strongest ever measured; it is also a much better conductor of electricity than copper, able to sustain a current density six orders of magnitude higher.

A number of research labs have already managed make transistors using graphene, and their performance has greatly exceeded that of those made from other semiconductors like silicon, silicon-germanium, gallium arsenide, and gallium nitride. Being able to employ graphene in microprocessors, other digital IC's, analog IC's, and RF (radio) devices will increase the speed while at the same time lower the power they use to perform the same functions as those same devices using the other semiconductors.

That's just the beginning.

The problem with being a champion, of course, is that you’re always being challenged by upstarts looking to usurp your position, and this is beginning to happen with graphene. Like graphene, these upstarts are two-dimensional crystals consisting of a thin layer of atoms, and while they possess many of the same properties as graphene they also boast a couple of new ones. Although they haven’t yet succeeded in pushing graphene off its perch, they’ve certainly managed to muscle their way on there as well.

Graphene used in conjunction with these other materials may give us devices that go beyond standard electronics, particularly in digital electronics. One such possibility is what is called spintronics, which uses the spin of electrons to represent the 1's and 0's of digital circuits rather than their electric charge as is done now. It also means they'll be able to pack even more circuits into microprocessors that will run cooler, faster, and use much less power than they do now.

One other possible application: room temperature superconductors. That's when the fun really begins!


What's The Real Reason For The Push To Raise The Minimum Wage?

With all the talk by Democrats about raising the minimum wage, you'd think a large portion of the workforce in the US only makes minimum wage. But when you look at the numbers you find out that a mere 1.6 million people, 1.1 percent of the workforce, are making minimum wage. That's a very small part of the workforce. Of those 1.6 million people, a little under 500,000 of them are between the ages of 16 and 19 and that number is shrinking, in part because of the recession but mostly because they are being priced out of the market.

But the Democrats would like to see the minimum wage raised to $10.10 per hour, claiming it will help raise the working poor out of poverty. But will it?

In short, an America with a $10.10 per hour minimum wage would look indistinguishable from the one we see today on the issue of income inequality, as well as the economic aspect that more conservatives focus on, opportunity for advancement. (Getting that first entry-level, minimum wage may get harder as each employee becomes more expensive to the employer.) The workers making minimum wage may very well appreciate the extra $85 to $114 per week, but it’s not going to have much of an impact on their purchasing power. Small companies on tight margins may find the $2.85 per worker per hour cost more difficult to handle, or may raise prices. Of course, if prices go up… that will eat into the budgets of those minimum-wage workers pretty fast, won’t it?

One of the real reasons Democrats may be pushing for a higher minimum wage has nothing to do with helping the working poor, but with supporting labor unions. How is that?

Many labor contracts are tied to the minimum wage, meaning that pay for certain union jobs are set a some multiple of minimum wage, so when minimum wage goes up, so does union pay. What better way to pay off labor unions supporting Democrats than for the Democrats to boost the minimum wage.

So while the Democrats want to sound as if they are for helping the poor working stiffs making minimum wage, what they're really doing is helping their union supporters to make more money, whether they deserve it or not.

So when you hear Democrats make the claim that they're doing it for the working poor, you must ask the question Cui bono?


Thoughts On A Sunday

The post-Storm Of Doom cleanup continues. Part of it includes clearing the slope of the driveway of ice and snow with the judicious use of ice-melt now that the temperatures are out of the single digits.

Why the hurry to remove the ice? It's simple really: propane.

We have a propane delivery some time this week and the propane truck won't be able to navigate the slope if it's ice covered. The delivery was postponed last week because of the ice, the driver and I agreeing that he might get his truck down the driveway but no way he would be able to get it back up to the road. (The Manse's driveway has a 22% grade, pretty steep under the best conditions.)

We aren't short on propane, having a little more than half a tank left, so if we can't pull of a delivery this coming week it won't leave us in dire straights as we heat The Manse with the woodstove most of the time. (It can't keep up when the temps are at 0ºF or lower, but it does a pretty good job the rest of the time.)

There's still snow to be removed from two of the three decks, something I'll have to get to because we have rain in the way later tonight and through tomorrow morning.


By way of Glenn Reynolds come these disturbing unemployment numbers:

34% - The unemployment rate for Americans ages 16-17. The unemployment rate for teenage Hispanic Americans is 48%, and the rate for teenage Black Americans is 60%.

As the minimum wage has gone up so has the unemployment rate among teens as they are priced out of the job market. Should congressional Democrats get their way and get the minimum wage increased again, the unemployment numbers will only get worse, particularly for unskilled workers which includes the aforementioned teens.

When will they get it into their heads that minimum wage was never designed to allow a worker to support a family of four? It was to cover entry-level jobs, primarily those taken by teens. As the cost of labor goes up, particularly unskilled labor/entry-level positions, more employers will replace humans with machines as the machines are cheaper than people under those circumstances.

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


But it's part of their culture, and therefore perfectly OK!

If these reports are true, North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un had his uncle executed by stripping him naked and throwing him into a cage with 120 ravenous dogs to be eaten alive.

Nice folks, those Norks....


You know it's bad in Detroit when the city's police chief is saying that citizens should arm themselves.

[Detroit Police Chief] Craig said he started believing that legal gun owners can deter crime when he became police chief in Portland, Maine, in 2009.

“Coming from California (Craig was on the Los Angeles police force for 28 years), where it takes an act of Congress to get a concealed weapon permit, I got to Maine, where they give out lots of CCWs (carrying concealed weapon permits), and I had a stack of CCW permits I was denying; that was my orientation.

“I changed my orientation real quick. Maine is one of the safest places in America. Clearly, suspects knew that good Americans were armed.”

The same is true of neighboring New Hampshire, which is a Shall Issue and open carry state, and Vermont, which requires no permit to carry concealed. Crime rates in all three states is low because criminals know citizens are armed. It's also likely the citizens are much better shots than criminals because they practice more often.

(H/T Maggie's Farm)


The WSJ has an essay adapted from Glenn Reynolds' new book about the higher education bubble and how economics are forcing institutions of higher learning to adapt or die.

The higher education bubble is as insidious as the housing bubble was, leaving students in debt for an education that isn't worth what they spent on it. With some student debt in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, it's like paying a mortgage on a house you can't live in and can't sell. What's worse is that many of these indebted students ended up with degrees that won't find them jobs or with jobs that don't require college degrees, but the debt is still there.


The New England Patriots had a bye week, giving them an extra week to heal up and practice before their playoff game next weekend.


And that's the news from Lake Winnipesaukee, where the lingering effects of the Storm Of Doom are still being felt, freezing rain is expected over night, and where once again Monday has returned too soon.


The Storm Of Doom - Epilogue

It's now been 30 hours since the Storm Of Doom departed our area. We saw about 12 inches of snowfall here at The Manse, though that is a rough estimate.

The one thing that set this one apart from most others is its long term effects. (By long term, I mean the day or two after the storm departed.) With the much colder than normal temperatures seen during and after the storm, road conditions are worse than one would normally experience during a storm of this type.

It wasn't uncommon to see below zero (Fahrenheit) temperatures during this storm which had the effect of making the snow very fine and 'fluffy', meaning that it piled up quickly and drifted easily even with light winds. It also meant that the roads iced up quickly because the salt and other de-icing chemicals normally used by road crews were ineffective. Rock salt doesn't work once the temperature reaches 10ºF and some of the others stop working once the temperature reaches 0ºF.

This has meant that since Thursday morning I've had to leave the trusty F150 in four-wheel drive in order to make it around town safely. Even with 4WD I had trouble getting out of the driveway at The Manse Friday morning, necessitating the use of the Official Weekend Pundit Snowblower to cut two tracks up the slope of the driveway in order to get any traction. A trip down to the local Walmart and hardware store early this afternoon required the constant use of 4WD. Road surfaces that looked like dry pavement were in fact covered by ice formed from the packed snow, making traction iffy at best even with 4WD. (One downside to having to use 4WD all the time is that the gas mileage in the trusty F150 was somewhere south of 12 mpg, where it's usually around 17 or 18mpg for the normal around town/to-and-from-work driving.)

We're still digging out from the Storm Of Doom as well as the previous snowfall last weekend. The Weather GuysTM are saying we're in for some warmer temps tomorrow along with some rain, and then we're back into the deep freeze with the possibility of more snow next weekend.

As I stated during my usual Sunday post last weekend, I'm beginning to wonder whether we're in for a repeat of the winter a few years ago when we received over 150 inches of snow. So far it's shaping up that way. In other words, it's likely to be a normal New England winter, at least normal for the 19th century.

It must be global warming (and it's all George W. Bush's fault).


The Storm Of Doom...Or Not

I've been watching the TV coverage of the snow storm that has made its way across the country.

To listen to them you'd think we'd never seen snow and cold like this before. Could it possibly be THE. STORM. OF. DOOM ?! (Cue ominous storm music.)

Give me a break.

I do have to admit that I was surprised at how cold it was when I left work late this afternoon, with one of the thermometers at work showing -1ºF (-18ºC) at 5PM, with a wind chill of -22ºF (-30ºC), and lots of blowing snow. Visibility wasn't all that great, but then I wasn't rushing home as I took my time in the icy/snowy/windy conditions.

There have been plenty of snow storms that topped this one even during my lifetime. (The Blizzard of '78 and the 'Storm of the Century” in 1993 are just two that come to mind.) There were far worse storms back in the 18th,19th, and early parts of the 20th centuries and people survived them without the help of our news media and all of their computer generated graphics, frolicking reporters, and ominous storm music.

It's winter. It's cold and it snows during winter in the northern climes.