Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Courage To Do Nothing

Several things have floated to the top that suggested this title. First was an article at Right Wing News, pointing out that higher fuel economy standards have become the leading cause of death and dismemberment on the nations highways. O.K. they're a factor. I contend that alcohol has an influence here too, but after the drunk has driven through the red light, the lighter vehicle usually fares the worst.

Of course the statistics that support this case, also fog the issue:
What's wrong with this picture? Well, as a general rule, the bigger the vehicle, the lower the fatality rate. But look at the pickups. You have to get into an F-350 pickup to reduce your chances of getting killed in an accident to less than your chances in the smallest econo-bubbles.

Of course the fact that most pickups are driven by men may also be a factor, but hey, bigger in general, is better.

People buy smaller cars to save on gas. They would do this anyway since the department of Energy is out there insuring that all the oil we use to produce the gas comes from countries with governments that hate us. Absent CAFE standards, people would still buy smaller cars, just not quite as many. Absent the DOE, we would still buy some foreign oil, just not as much of it.

The economy's in the doldrums. Why? Because, in large measure, because the government is in there trying to help. $1.5T to bail out businesses and governments, rewarding them from their own bad practices in effect, using money we didn't actually have in the first place. Hardest hit are those near the bottom. The minimum wage is high enough to make hiring someone at the entry level more expensive than they're worth. It also makes hiring an illegal at sub-minimum wages and no benefits a worthwhile proposition.

Just think how much better we'd be doing if none of the above mentioned government programs had never been implemented in the first place.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Definitions; Recession

A lot of definitions depend on the point of view of the user. Driving through Louisiana on a roadway a few feet above the water, you're enjoying a protected wetland. Drive 3 feet off the pavement however, and you're now stuck in a sucking swamp, complete with alligators and spiders the size of chickens.

Wizbang has taken a look at the economy, and is unimpressed. Looking at GDP growth figures for the last 3-4 years, reveals that the rate of growth from 2007 to 2010 has been a negative .3%. They point out that;
Newsflash: Any contraction lasting two or more consecutive quarters is a recession.
Which is true, but if the economy had started out at a 9% growth rate and slowly dropped back to 8.1% over 3 years, nobody would call that a recession. OTOH, if the economy starts out at less than 2% growth rate and drops to 1.1% over the same period, one can see the alligators through the windshield even though the car may not be completely submerged.

Friday, July 29, 2011


Economics. In most of the country this involves the deadly serious study of money moving from point A to point Z with stops at all the intervening letters. I know this is serious,because at some point, one of those letters represents my pocket.

In Washington, the topic is regarded as a sub-species of science fiction. Here's Paul Ryan, a bright up-and-coming fellow, pointing out that the thinking in Washington is leaving something to be desired.

(It's in Adobe Flash, which I, techno-peasant that I am, haven't learned to embed yet.)

So covering the moon in yogurt is probably not the debt-relief solution it was made out to be. (See what you miss not clicking the link?) How about this: We project the cost of WWII, about $300B/4 years or $75B/year, and claim budgetary savings of $75B.year for the 66 years since we brought the troops home, and show that Harry Truman thus realized budget savings of $4.95T to date, eclipsing the approximately $4.5T the president has spent that we didn't have in the first place.

And you thought the Dems couldn't balance a budget.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Future of Transportation, Airborne

Burt Rutan is demonstrating a real flying car;
It looks to be somewhat more aircraft than car, but who's counting? No word on what happens to the wings when you land and line up on the freeway.

Being mostly airplane, this wouldn't get me to work and back, but I could see it taking a substantial cut out of business travel up and down the front range, from Pueblo to Cheyenne.

Republican Candidates

The MSM is carefully and cautiously backing the most left-leaning RINOs the GOP can field, that being Romney at the moment, with Huckabee on the sidelines.

It's looking more and more like a lost cause as the latest polling shows O'bummer running dead even with Ron Paul. In fact, the only Republican the president is currently beating in the polls is Dick Nixon.

During his administration, the press referred to him as "Tricky Dick", a tribute to his ability to put one over on the Dems, most of the time. During the Clinton administration I began to think of him as "St. Richard, the morally upright" , behavior being strictly comparative in Washington.

So far, not only has O'Bungler managed to make Jimmy "the dhimmi" Carter look good, he's within 3 poll points of rehabilitating Dick Nixon.


"Draconian Cut" With reference to the ongoing soap opera in Washington about the speed with which the country is being driven into insolvency. First a bit of background. In Washington, when some agency, say the Department of Redundancy Department (DORD) gets assigned a budget, say $100B, there is an assumption that next year its budget will be 6% higher or $106B.

If some curmudgeon steps up and points out that there isn't enough money for this and suggests that next year's DORD budget be $105B, the fans of redundancy rise up and howl about the "draconian" 20% cut to the DORD's budget.

Since we've all been told (repeatedly) of all the wonderful things the DORD does for us, the "cut" is ignored, and the shortage is made up by printing a few extra Benjamens.

Against that background, it now appears that Rep Boehner's budget, which the Dems are condemning as "draconian" actually reduces spending very little in the near term, and not all that much in the long term. This has caused a number of Reps in the house to inform their leader that they want something that smells a bit more like pachyderm and less like donkey or they're not voting for it. The president has threatened to veto it if it appears on his desk, which I suspect is a bluff.

Moderate as he is, according to Paul Krugman:
The reality, of course, is that we already have a centrist president--actually a moderate conservative president. . . .
I can't understand why he wouldn't welcome the bill, unless he's actually holding out for real cuts.

David Plouffe is perhaps a bit more honest in his assessment:
"The debt ceiling debate would ruin Christmas," Plouffe said. He was apparently ad-libbing the line, but now it's found its way into the White House's official talking points.
Which makes perfect sense as giving the president a shiny new credit card with a big new limit that could get him past the upcoming elections would certainly be a Christmas gift, even in July.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Benevolent Dictatorship

Benevolent Dictatorship was described by Benito Mussolini as the best possible form of government. He used that line in his political speeches, and promised the Italian people to be that benevolent dictator if elected. So they elected him.

In his speech, he would say that in a partisan democracy, if you take a problem to the government, all you get is endless partisan bickering. In a benevolent dictatorship, you get an immediate resolution to the greatest benefit of the greatest numbers. The fallacy is that you took your problem to the government instead of working out a solution on your own.

The president has recently been pining for such a benevolent dictatorship, whit himself as benevolent dictator of course. Ruling for the greatest good for the greatest number of his friends. It's how it's done in Chicago.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

How Dumb Do They Think We Are?

This is a loaded question which probably shouldn't be asked to avoid embarrassment all around. After all, look who we elected. Nevertheless, as continuing showmanship with respect to the ongoing budget fiasco,Rep Steny Hoyer (D-Md) inveighs against the republican Cut, Cap, and Balance bill that recently passed the house.
House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D.-Md.) said on the House floor last night that if the balanced budget amendment Republicans are supporting is ratified and included in the Constitution it would make it “virtually impossible” to raise taxes.
O.K. Steney, you've sold me. The "virtual" bit is the kicker. If something is possible, under any circumstances, no matter how far-fetched, the congress will find a way to do it. Guaranteed. Still, this must look especially tough as Harry Reid (D-SEIU) arranged to get the thing killed in the Senate along a strict party-line vote.

Again, the rationale behind killing it in the Senate is getting past me, as several Democrats have come out in favor of balanced budget rules in the past. One must suppose it was a face-saving move by Reid to avoid having the president use his veto on something that 2/3 of the American population supports.

The measure as sent to the Senate, actually gives the President another 2.3 Trillion on the national credit card and demands only modest budget cuts, most of which are in the "to be named later" category, which is legalese for "never".

If John Bhoener has a proper sense of humor, or if I was advising him, the measure would be renamed "Son of Cut, Cap, and Balance" with the credit extension cut 20%, and sent to the Senate on the understanding that the upcoming "Bride of Cut, Cap, and Balance" would have another 20% taken off. Get it while the getting's good.

Keep in mind that if the borrowing authority is not passed, the U.S. will not be foreclosed on by the Chinese. It simply means that we will have to get along on the not inconsiderable income we've got, pay the bills first, then figure out who gets laid off because there's no money to pay them, just like everybody else.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


Whoever you are in Alpharetta GA, you win the internets, at least locally, for being my 70,000th visitor.

And yes, the Swedish models were worth the visit, no? Also the accompanying rant about the evils of socialism.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

The Future of Transportation, Emissions

Oh those clever Germans! They've come up with a new formula for computing the carbon footprint of road vehicles that actually makes a bit more sense than the one in current use, and the Greens go crazy.

O.K. for the Greens, that's a $.50 cab ride, but nevertheless, the new formula is based on the carbon emissions per ton of the car in question, which seems fair when you consider that larger and heavier cars could conceivably carry more passengers, raising the passenger-mile rating. You certainly wouldn't want to look at the carbon footprint of a city bus without considering that it might be carrying 60 people during a peak demand period.

What comes out of the formula is:

Green transport lobby group Transport & Environment used the sums to show that, if the legislation goes through in a vote in Berlin on Friday, a Smart car with CO2 emissions of 103g per km would be in the same "green" category as a Panzer tank, which emits 5,850 grams of CO2 per km.

The levelling factor is the relative weight - the Smart at just 750kg, and the tank at 62,000kg. For its weight, therefore, the Panzer tank is deemed worthy of a "green" badge.

Of course the tank would have to be fitted with rubber treads to avoid damaging the roadways, and would have to travel in the lower speed lanes on the Autobahn, but it would get waved through the French border as posing no threat whatever to the air quality there.

H/T to An Englishman's Castle.

Bomb Making

Tim Blair reports on what is thought of as a work-related accident in the Muslim world:

Education is a blast in Bima town, Indonesia:

Security forces arrived at the school at Bima town, West Nusa Tenggara province, late on Monday after a home-made bomb exploded in one of the rooms, killing a man suspected of being a Philippine-trained bomb expert.

He is no longer suspected of being an expert.
Don't you just hate it when your theology blows up in your face?


Science Marches Onward

A few days ago the Wall St. Journal reported that an espohogus had been built, made from a framework produced on a 3-D printer, and covered with stem-cell tissue from the patient. This was transplanted into the patient to replace a cancerous one that was taken out.

XKCD looks forward and sees even more ambitious undertakings:
Boobs too, I'm sure. Some assembly required. You go first.


I found a reference yesterday in which a distinguished lecturer in history had given a talk at a university, and afterward was complimented on his talk by a student who said that prior to hearing him she had not realized that the 13 colonies were all located on the East coast.

In all fairness, it's an easy mistake to make. Washington, who figures prominently in the history of the colonies, is located on the West coast, just north of Oregon.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

The Future of Transportation, Energy

The Israelis have figured out that if you implant piezoelectric crystals into asphalt roadways, you can extract energy from them as vehicles pass over them as they drive along. I suspect that the supporting infrastructure will render this idea impractical. Imagine the wires required to connect all the piezo's together, embedded into the asphalt, and subject to damage from potholes.

Assuming a high level of efficiency, a kilometer of road could conceivably power some 40 residences. Assuming a more modest level of efficiency, and also assuming that the speed of the vehicles passing over has some effect on the output, I could see the six-mile stretch of I-25 that I drive twice daily supplying enough power to recharge my cell phone. Eventually.

If we're going to play with the roadways, let's see if the rumble strips which show up on the shoulders of some roads, can be artfully applied so as to cause your tires to vocalize "caution....shoulder" or some such as you pass over them.

National Health

Over in England where the health care system has been nationalized for some time, the system suffers from too many patients and too little of everything else. Going to a hospital over there is widely recognized as a high-risk adventure and best undertaken with regular support from your own friends and family who can bring you such luxuries as fresh food and clean sheets.

Someone, probably one of the staff at one hospital has discovered a really effective cost-cutting measure, and is implementing it on his or her own initiative. The Telegraph reports:

A 44-year-old woman, named as Tracey Elizabeth Arden, a 71-year-old man and a 84-year-old man have died following the deliberate contamination of saline solution at Stepping Hill Hospital in Stockport, Greater Manchester.

Insulin was found in a batch of 36 saline ampoules in a hospital storeroom close to Ward A1 after a nurse reported a higher than normal number of patients on her ward with unexplained low blood sugar levels.

Not to worry. It's only at one hospital, and it would never happen here.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Fast and Furious

Aha! Here's the real reason why Obama was selling guns to the Zetas and MS-13.

The legislation is being introduced even as the cover is being blown. The MSM still hasn't noticed though.

Thursday, July 14, 2011


When the people have an opportunity to organize an economy, they would do well to consider some of the long-term ramifications of the way they organize it. It is probably not a good idea to have an economy so dependent on one thing that should the wrong person fail to show up for work, the whole thing collapses like the house of cards.

Witness Minnesota. To sell beer at any level in Minnesota, it is necessary to get several layers of permission from the state government. Admittedly this is generally not a big deal, just ill out the form and write the check to the Secretary of State, and permission is granted. For that step at least. One in particular requires beer makers to register their various labels so that the state beer inspectors can tell what they're looking at. A label registration is $30. Molson-Coors makes a lot of different beers, and packages them in both cans and bottles. The tab came to $1170. Someone miscounted, and sent the state some extra money. The state returned the check, and asked for another, which was sent. It arrived four days before the state government shut down, so of course it wasn't processed. Now the deadline looms, and nothing is happening, although the beer inspectors are somehow still on the job.

On a lower level, drinking establishments can't buy beer without a card giving them permission to do so, separate from the certificate that allows them to sell it. Again, no government, no card renewal. Several establishments are stocking up anticipating a card expiry, and some delay getting it renewed.

Good news! the Governor has capitulated! He promises that within 3 days of finalization of the proposed budget, the government will be back to work, and within 5-7 business days, you'll be able to celebrate with a beer.

O.K. I made up that last part, but what do you bet I'm not off by much?

Update: False alarm. The gov says he'll sign, but only if the Reps give up some stuff they included, such as a requirement for a photo ID when you vote.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Bumper Stickers

Here's an article by a cop on the topic of bumper stickers. His perspective is somewhat different in that as a patrolman he got treated to every sticker you've ever heard of and probably a lot more that you haven't. He also has some perspective on what one can expect from drivers with various adornments.

His best suggestion to my mind is that once the election is over, the political stickers need to come off. I suppose that if your man wins, leaving the sticker on is a form of gloating, and if your man loses, it's a manner of saying "this isn't MY fault".

Of course when your man wins, and the results are, shall we say, less than exemplary, you run the risk of having everybody on the road giving you dirty looks and thinking "Aha! So all this is YOUR fault!"

I have a Gadsden flag, which identifies me as a generic conservative, and a "Weird Load" sticker that goes well on any pickup, and a Coexist sticker,

printed on paper, and taped to the back window where it's easily removable, should I change my mind.

I do candidate stickers this way too, since the local hippies seem to like to key cars with stickers favoring Republicans. I'm thinking something along the lines of

Perry-Bachman '12
Because we WON the cold war!

It's got possibilities.

Shariah Control

Muslims in England have reaches a landmark 5% of the population, and are feeling their oats. They now define areas in several towns as Shariah zones, exempt from English law, and subject only to Shariah. To this end, they have begun posting warning signs:
Click to enlarge. Of course it's all about righteous Muslims being oppressed by nasty crusaders, at least in their minds. Gates of Vienna posted on this and left the link. In the comments was a suggestion to make up overlying posters in a similar format describing what is permitted, such as lying, stealing, and murdering. See your local Imam for a list of approved targets, and get your score card here.

Clinton On The Republican Candidates

There was an article a few weeks ago in which Bill Clinton gave his opinion on the then-current crop of presidential wannabes from the GOP. I didn't find it particularly noteworthy as an endorsement by Clinton is worth as much as an endorsement from the New York Times. It will expire as soon as the candidate gets the nomination.

Executive summary:
On the RINOs, Romeny, Huckabee, Huntsman, etc:"Nice fellows, only moderately swayed by the extremist wing of the party, might well be able to sell out their values and work with the Democrats."

On the conservatives, Perry, Pawlenty, Cain, etc: "Bunch of right wing extremist ideologues that won't do anything to help our agenda."

Today he comes out lukewarm on Bachmann.

Executive summary: "Yeah, I'd hit that!"

Friday, July 8, 2011

Storm On Saturn

Hmmm, that might make a good S.F. book title. Feel free to steal it, just send me a copy when it's published.
Anyway, there's something happening on Saturn:
People who know more than me, and have probably been there say this is a storm, characterized by rapid fire lightning. Look closely and you can see the track of the thing dragged all the way around the planet. If this were a storm, I'd expect it to follow the atmospheric movement and stay more or less in one place.

To me this says "Volcano". Yes, I know Saturn's a gas giant and (probably) doesn't have molten rocks, but so what. Think "low temperature sunspot". The end result is pretty much the same and the footprint would match.

Feral Children

What else would you call flash mobs of teenagers who appear out of nowhere, loot and pillage, and then disappear.

Nowhere near as cute as feral cats either.

E-Postal Matches for July

The old standard for these things is Mr. Completely who is running the July edition himself.
This is a standard analysis target that tells you what you're doing wrong, in case your usual shooting buddies aren't there to advise. Get the full-sized target here, and have all your shortcomings revealed.

The other match is at Cheaper Than Dirt, featuring a target full of fireworks:
Rules and link to the .pdf file here. As usual, all entrants to the CTD match are entered in a drawing for a gift certificate.

The usual warning is in effect that these targets are trickier than they appear, and if you think your score is low, it's a safe assumption that everybody else's scores will be modest as well.

Gunney Music

I've heard better karaoke, but this ain't bad.

At least I found it amusing.

Mob Rule

If you offend the Godfather, he will send Guido or Nunzio around to adjust your attitude and physiology, possibly to the point of eliminating it entirely. If your "family" offends the Godfather, he sends the same people to set in motion a "regime change" with your family on the theory that the next patron will be easier to deal with after the funeral.

If you annoy the president, like Bruce Tinsley, he sends the IRS around to audit your taxes. If your whole state votes the wrong way, like Texas, he sends the EPA to try to shut down your electric grid. Several Eastern seabord states are involved in this as well.

If it's the general population who has earned presidential ire, again, it's the EPA who arrives in the form of a new fuel that not only destroys your engine, it voids your warranty. Of course if you accidentally put E15 gas in your pre-2001 car, and destroy your engine, perhaps he can interest you in a new Chevy Volt, or other Government Motors car.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

What Do You Call It When...

There are 2 million fewer private-sector jobs now than when Obama was sworn in, and the unemployment rate is 1.5 percentage points higher.

• There are now more long-term unemployed than at any time since the government started keeping records.

• The U.S. dollar is more than 12% weaker.

• The number of Americans on food stamps has climbed 37%.

• The Misery Index (unemployment plus inflation) is up 62%.

• And the national debt is about 40% higher than it was in January 2009.

Why a recovery, of course.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Gun Scandal

Back in the 80's when it was discovered that the government was covertly supplying arms to anti-communist insurgents in South America, the media made it out to be practically an impeachable offense on the part of the president.

That was then. Today, it seems the government was covertly supplying arms to drug smugglers in South America in an effort to gin up some dead bodies that would enable a greater level of gun control, not by legislation, but by executive fiat under color of agency rule making. Of course this time it's "for the children" or something so it barely rates mention on the evening news.

Acting Director of the BATF, Ken Melson,having been informed by the investigating Senators that he didn't have to appear with a DOJ lawyer, appeared with his own lawyer, and must have spilled a large plate of beans. Apparently the FBI and the DEA were also involved, and the DOJ ran a wide-ranging coverup when the story began breaking. Atty Gen Holder still maintains he knew nothing at all of this until reporters began asking him about it, and Baghdad Bob still insists there are no Americans in Baghdad.

It's only a matter of time, I suppose before Melsons testimony is published. I can't wait. This sounds a lot like an "under the radar" gun control effort as advertised by Holder's boss.

Gun Law, Chicago

As many people are reporting, the 7th circuit has handed the Chicago city council their heads on the city's gun range ordinance. The judge was fairly specific:
The City’s confused approach to
this case led the district court to make legal errors on several
fronts: (1) the organizational plaintiffs’ standing; (2) the
nature of the plaintiffs’ harm; (3) the scope of the Second
Amendment right as recognized in Heller and applied to the
States in McDonald; and (4) the structure and standards
for judicial review of laws alleged to infringe Second
Amendment rights.
The ruling runs to 59 pages and while it isn't Monster Hunters International, it has zingers enough in it to keep you from nodding off.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Quote of the Year

It's that old, and yet never seems to go out of style:

The national budget must be balanced. The public debt must be reduced; the arrogance of the authorities must be moderated and controlled. Payments to foreign governments must be reduced, if the nation doesn't want to go bankrupt. People must again learn to work, instead of living on public assistance.

Marcus Tullius Cicero, 55 B.C.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Bike Ride

The pedaled type this time, which I do thinking the exercise is good for me. I took my mountain bike out yesterday and was reminded why I don't really like to ride it, and how long it's been since any grease has been applied to the bearings. Got back beat up and sore.

Took the recumbent out today, discovered a new trail loop, and reminded myself how much the mountain bike had beaten me up the day before. The new trail had a spot undergoing construction. You can't see the construction from the first barricade, or even the second, and this sort of thing has led the group I used to ride with to go around the barricades to see if the "Trail Closed" warning is for real or just because the city requires it. Hence our motto: It's not just a ride, it's an adventure!

After carrying the bike over 3 barricades, down into the creek bed where there was a narrow path on the boulders being installed, carrying up the side of the dug out embankment, and over 3 more barricades, I'd have to advise anyone riding the Willow Creek trail to take the detour. Great scenery, though.

Vast Deposits Of Rare Earths To Go Untapped

CNBC is reporting that vast deposits of rare earth metals have been found in the mud of the deep sea floor:
They found the minerals in sea mud extracted from depths of 3,500 to 6,000 metres (11,500-20,000 ft) below the ocean surface at 78 locations. One-third of the sites yielded rich contents of rare earths and the metal yttrium, Kato said in a telephone interview.

The deposits are in international waters in an area stretching east and west of Hawaii, as well as east of Tahiti in French Polynesia, he said.

The materials involved are important in the manufacture of electronics, magnets, and batteries.

Alas, there is one fly on this ointment, and it's called the Law Of The Sea Treaty, which we recognize, but are not signatory to. This bit of U.N. sponsored "New Economic Order" declares the contents of the seas to be the common heritage of mankind, and demands that anyone making a buck off it divvy up the profits between themselves and the population of the world.

Of course if the Japanese decide that they're tired of getting raped by the Chinese for these materials, and begin to extract them for them selves, it's hard to see what the Chinese could do about it, short of an act of war.

In our own country, while these deposits would bring down the price and improve the efficiency of the president's beloved electric vehicles and windmills, I don't doubt for a second that he would accede to the demands of the greens not to strip mine the ocean floors.

Government Investment Multiplier

First off, happy Independence Day to all of you. Hope you had as much fun as I did, and aren't as exhausted as a result.

Second, the Standard is reporting that the net result of the great stimulus to get the economy going wound up costing us some $278,000 for each job created or saved. Let's assume that each job pays $50,000/year, which includes the state and local drones who didn't get laid off, and all those burger flippers McDonalds hired. That works out to a 17.9% return on the investment.

Frankly I liked it better when we spent a few billion on NASA and got back technological superiority over the entire world.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Customer Service

Those of you who follow my rants and raves, know that I have a Hi Point carbine. You also know that I'm not shy about pointing up sone of its shortcomings, it is after all, built to a price point and is not a high-buck fly-shooter.

Being an engineer, our motto: "That's not how I would have done it", I've been fiddling with it to attempt to improve the accuracy. Last weekend I shot 2 half-inch groups at 25 yards, so I'm greatly encouraged, however I also got a couple of jams that resulted in a bent firing pin.
When I called Beemiller, the manufacturer, and told them I had a bent pin, all they wanted to know was my mailing address, and it was in the mail. I called them at noon Monday, and the new pin, a new version with some changes, was in my mail box at noon on Friday, at no cost, and not just the pin, but the spring set that goes with it.

I've heard that a new design was out, and that it worked better than the old one. Having seen the new one, I have high expectations that this will be the case. I'm going to the range today to hunt the wily wild bowling pin, and try out the new pin. Film at 11.

Update: All the test shots went off without a hitch. Bravo!