Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year

Rolling it up with the news that GM is recalling it's entire production of the Sonic, which I had never heard of, on account of the workforce may have neglected to install all of the brakes.

Quotable quote comes from Glenn Reynolds who in turn quotes the long-suffering Russians observing the new year: How was 2011?
I’d say it was average, in the sense of the old Soviet joke: Worse than last year, better than next year, so . . . average.
He has hopes for the latter part of 2012, as do I.

Best of luck to everybody and thanks for visiting. See you next year.


The wife wanted a Kindle for Christmas, and sure enough, Santa brought her one. It's been all downhill from there.

First off, the Fire model is so totally wireless that you apparently can't even register it without a wireless internet access. And not just any wireless access, you need your own in-house wireless setup for which you and no one else know all the secret serial numbers, addresses and passwords. Several internet sites say you can do this on your regular machine, but the wife is reluctant to try it.

I was pretty sure you could register the thing with a hardwired computer by logging on to Amazon and entering the required information, but I guess not, although I suspect the wife is being overly cautious here. It seems the Kindle has its own unique e-mail address which it does not share with the owners, just with Amazon.

Well, O.K. so I got a wireless Point of Access box. This thing, I was assured, will act as a wireless hookup to our existing home network, creating a wireless point on the router. Ah but wait. Setting the thing up involves disconnecting one computer from the network while the Access Point is configured, then reconnecting everything which will then work as advertised. Except that the Access Point requires a wireless device to talk to it to do this. That would be the Kindle. Battery life on the Kindle is notably shorter than what was advertised, although this may be related to an extended period of non-use.

I will likely have to bribe a geek to come over and patiently explain to her the operation of the On and Off switches, or whatever else is required to get this rig up. Amazon has e-mailed the wife wondering why she hasn't yet registered her device.

What a drag it must be, getting old.

Vote Fraud

Atty General Holder has attacked North Carolina's requirement that anyone showing up at a po9lling place wanting to vote must show a state-issued photo I.D. Reports suggest that Texas will be next on the hit list. Coming as he does from a state where the biggest voter registration results come from the coroners office, I can see his point. Anyway if this bunch
showed up at your polling place, would you refuse them ballots simply because they had no photo I.D.?

Range Report

Currently 42 degrees, with winds averaging 12.5 mph from the north, and 6-12" on snow on the ground which would be slowly turning into 6-12" of mud.

Looks like the science experiments will have to wait. I blame global warming.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Energy and Environment

Colorado has a requirement that a variable, but increasing percentage of energy sold in the state come from "renewable" sources. This is called a Renewable Portfolio Standard, or RPS. Currently we get about 5% of our electricity from these renewable sources, primarily wind and solar.

As of today, the Independence Institute is reporting that this 5% portion of salable energy has caused our power bills to run some 30% higher than they would if no such requirement were in place.

Just think, in a perfect world, all our energy would come from renewables, and our power bills would be six times as high as they are now. And the greenies are working on moving that date in closer.

Obama on Immigration

Who says he's doing nothing. Single handed he stopped the construction of a real fence along the Mexican border, and the INS is currently paying storage charges on the materials for some 600 miles of it.

Additionally, he's established a hotline at ICE. Yes, if you're an illegal immigrant, and you need help, call the ICE help line and they'll do what they can to keep you from being deported, and even send someone right over to get you registered to vote.

O.K. I made that last item up. Sounds plausible though, doesn't it?

Modern Journalism

First the New York Time prints an anti-gun piece full of errors, then the Denver Post follows suit, although in all fairness, smaller errors.

At the first link, one of the commentors asks what the result might be if one day's paper might be 100% fact checked. An interesting proposition. Doing this for the Times might be a bit of a chore, but for the Post, I'm thinking much easier, since after removing the comics and the ads, there isn't really very much left of it.

It has also been noted that currently far fewer people are getting their news from the papers or the TV any more. Wonder why that is?

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Castle Doctrine

In what was described as the first test of the states newly passed castle doctrine law, a Pennsylvania man with a bow and arrow shot an attacker armed with a club.

I had heard that Western civilization was in decline, but I had no idea just how far it had gone. Were both of the principals dressed in bearskins?

Executive summary: Someone else's wife and copious quantities of alcohol were involved.

How soon will it be before bodkins are banned in New Jersey?

H/T to Sebastian for this one.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good morning. O.K. this post is a tad late, sue me.

The New Year is almost upon us, and the world is going to Hell in a handbasket at an alarming rate. When UBS bank advocated tinned food and ammo as investments, you know it's not looking good. On the other hand, the predictions of financial wonks have such a reputation that you probably don't need to stockpile all that much of either.

On another note, Scott Adams, writer of Dilbert, has announced his candidacy for the presidency. He has an interesting platform that puts him only about 1/2" to the left of center, which is not that bad. This also puts him to the right of the most conservative front-runner out there.

His proposal to force members of congress onto a Jeopardy/Survivor-style TV show has merit. I'd steal that in a minute, and let the viewers vote someone off the island after each show. To this I'd add my suggestion from the last election, to give Rush Limbaugh a part-time job as press secretary. The down side, from Limbaugh's point of view, would be having to read presidential press releases once every week or two. The up side would be permission to comment on them freely, and additional sanction to treat the members of the press in any way he sees fit, up to and including non-lethal but humiliating physical abuse, along the lines of some of those Japanese game shows.

At this point, Mitt Romney has proven beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the public would hate Pres. Obama even if he were a squeaky clean, white Mormon.

Newt Gingrinch the alleged intelectual and all-around idea man, has had his staff come up short of the number of signatures required to get him on the ballot in his current home state of Virginia.

Ron Paul, the Republican party's Uncle Fester from up in the attic, is at this point looking good enough by comparison to be a serious front runner.

Happy new year, and don't forget to stockpile enough charcoal to get you through the next two winters.

Sunday, December 25, 2011


Here's a piece offering up some words you may not have known about, or have seldom heard, put into modern context. It's always good to expand your vocabulary, so drop on over and give it a read.

One jumped out at me and although I was already familiar with it, the definition struck a chord:
sangfroid | ng 'frwä|
composure or coolness, sometimes excessive, as shown in danger or under trying circumstances
President Obama’s sangfroid in the face of economic collapse leads one to believe that controverting American exceptionalism is his goal.
To add to the definition, sangfroid is most easily achieved by closing ones eyes and turning up the volume on the MP3 player until the annoying sounds of people screaming and yelling is drowned out. Here's a reference:
The man at the wheel was made to feel
Contempt for the wildest blow-ow-ow
Tho' it often appeared when the gale had cleared,
That he'd been in his bunk below.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Your Tax Bucks At Work

Conducting scholarly studies on the taxpayers dime is a longstanding way to produce PhD's and keep graduate students from starving. Sometimes this produces results that are useful in the grand scheme of things. Sometimes it doesn't.

Take this study of gun violence which may have been a bit too honest for its own good. Executive summary:
It took $2.6 million of taxpayers’ money to find out what could have been assumed for free: that teenagers who possess illegal guns, engage in underage drinking and hang out with other ne’er-do-wells are more likely to get shot. The agency also wasted $2 million to determine if there is a causal relationship between gun violence and the presence of bars and liquor stores.
That second part was presumable to boost efforts to bring back prohibition, striking success that that was.

It's good to see the small but regular successes the Republicans are having chipping away at the anti-gun thinking that goes on among Democrats although they try very hard to keep it "under the radar".

Gun Law, Chicago

I had always had a suspicion that the big reason Chicago opposed allowing the citizenry to own guns was because an armed citizenry would reduce the thug population, thus cutting in to the politicians voting base.

I was right.

Apparently without the support of the street gangs, you can't get elected.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Gun Fun?

President Obama has added another notch to the well-carved stock of his M4 rifle, with the additional kill of Kim Jong-Il in North Korea. This on top of his virtually single-handed disposing of Osama Bin Ladin and Mummar Q-Daffy.

His claims to being responsible for the demise of Václav Havel and Christopher Hitchens are still being investigated.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Missing a Bet

Janet Robinson, CEO of the New York Times Company has suddenly announced her retirement. During her tenure, in seven years, the company has lost about 80% of its value, and probably about the same percentage of its credibility.

Here's the opportunity: Rupert Murdoch, owner of the Times biggest competitor, News Corp, could offer to pay Mrs. Robinson's salary and benefits for another two years, at the end of which times, one would expect the Times to go out of business and completely disappear. That would be $10M well spent.

Alternatively, he could buy the paper after one year for a relative pittance, and keep the employees doing what they do best by turning it into a grocery-store tabloid. The possibilities are vast.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Balancing the Budget

Here in Colorado, we used to have a TABOR amendment to the constitution that severely limited the legislature's ability to siphon money from the taxpayers and spend with no limits. The same is being proposed in Washington in the form of balanced budget amendments put forward in various forms by various people.

A few days ago I got an e-mail from one of my Senators, Mark Udall, announcing that being the budget hawk he was, he was proposing a balanced budget amendment of his own. Now I get a weekly e-mail noting the votes my congress critters make on the various stuff that comes up, and based on their voting records, Senators Udall and Bennett are possible the most loyal toadies president Obama ever had. What the One wants, these two will deliver, so when I read the announcement the B.S. alarms were going off at full volume.

By now I know better than to even consider endorsing anything these to do, no matter how they sugar coat it, so no letters to other pols urging their support. Turns out my instincts were right.

Nobody who looks at this would be fooled, but the Senate Dems are counting on nobody actually seeing it. When it goes down in flames as it should, the Dems can say they all voted for a balanced budget amendment, but the spendthrift Republicans blocked it.

If the Dems put forward a bill in support of motherhood and apple pie, you can bet that a close reading will reveal that it calls for selling your mother into slavery to make apple pies in a sweatshop, said pies earmarked to be included in a foreign aid package to North Korea.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

News Of The World

Drudge is reporting that the Sec of State, Thunder Thighs herself, is currently engaged in a 3-day sit-down conference with some several assorted Nobs from the middle east over what the U.S. government can do to discourage the unimpeded criticism of Islam.

Short answer: Nothing.

Part of the job description for a diplomat is the ability to tell someone to go to Hell in such a way as to make them look forward to the trip. I'm pretty sure Hillary can handle the first part, but I've got my doubts about the second.

Now visualize this: The conference ends with Hil, tired of Koranic interpretations and condescension, tells the Nobs, what else, to pound sand. The Nobs, in high dudgeon, demand that the Hil get 20 lashes for un-islamic conduct. The pres, eager to improve his standing in the Middle east, agrees, and Hill gets 20.

O.K. I'm channeling Mad Magazine, so sue me.

Hil said that while head chopping is not currently on the approved list of punishments here, we would do our best to shame those who insult Islam. When the e-mail arrives from the State department, I promise to publish it.

Career Advice

This week, we consider majoring in political science. Play your cards right and there's no limit to the advancement you can achieve, weather you deserve it or not. Even if you don't play all your cards right, there's frequently little or no down side:
Things to keep in mind would be location. The above cartoon is from Scotland, but would serve one well enough in Massachusetts. Beware of Illinois. In spite of its reputation, about half the Chicago aldermen and Illinois governors get to see the Big House from the inside, and no, not the one in D.C. That's the exception.

Just found out today that Gov Blago is going to be living just up the road from me, just southeast of Kipling and Hampton. Small world, no?

Silencing the Opposition

An Obama-appointed federal judge has ruled that no matter how much work you do on line, if you're not affiliated with the MSM or dead tree media, you're not a journalist, and not entitled to any of the protections that go with that.

He said, “Although the defendant is a self-proclaimed ‘investigative blogger’ and defines herself as ‘media,’ the record fails to show that she is affiliated with any newspaper, magazine, periodical, book, pamphlet, news service, wire service, news or feature syndicate, broadcast station or network, or cable television system. Thus, she is not entitled to the protections of the law in the first instance.”
Radly Balko, who richly deserves a Pulitzer, would not qualify.

Next blogger-fest, everybody bring a printed copy of your latest page. Pass it to the person on your right. Now pass a nickel to the person on your left. Having done this, we are all now pamphleteers, and thus journalists, entitled to all the perks of the title.

Meantime, let's hope the judge, Obama appointee Marco Hernandez, is quickly and firmly overturned.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Gun News

Gallup is reporting that 47% of American households now posses a gun of one sort or another, up from 41% only a year ago. The Brady bunch attributes this to marketing, but somehow I don't remember being blasted with ads for guns on the TV and radio, even the conservative talk shows.

I attribute this to the large number of people who get their financial advice from UBS as mentioned below. I am surprised to see they have such widespread influence, who knew?

How Bad Is It?

UBS is a large and reputable purveyor of economic advice. Here's some advice from one of its people on preparations for an impending collapse of the Euro:

"I suppose there might be some assets worthy of consideration—precious metals, for example. But other metals would make wise investments, too. Among them tinned goods and small calibre weapons."
Larry Hathaway, UBS Financial
I get e-mails daily warning me to prepare for one sort of zombie apocalypse or another, but not usually from such a well regarded source.


Fast And Furious

As the sordid story continues to unfold, it appears that the "iron river of guns" flowing from the U.S. to Mexico, has its headwaters in Washington D.C.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Junk Science Checklist

How can you tell when "leading scientists" or "top Russian scientists" are jerking your chain? Especially when the topic is something you know nothing about.

Here's a quick and easy checklist.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Future of Transportation, Driverless

Here's an article noticing that BMW is developing a driverless car by teaching one to run laps around the Laguna Seca racetrack, east of Monterrey, CA. The results seem impressive from the description in that they're letting media types sit in the drivers seat while company wonks fill the remaining leather and are amused at the terror that ensues.

To which I say: Big deal. Every other car maker in the world is actively experimenting with this technology, and not on a closed road course either. Nosiree! Everybody else has their Beta Johnnyycab software controlling the cars of daily commuters on the streets of Denver and the surrounding suburbs.

I am here to attest that this technology is definitely in the beta stages, and will need a bit more wringing out before a more general release. I suggest adding sensors to the left and right sides of the vehicle being controlled to insure that the spot in the adjacent lane is in fact empty before moving into it.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Unemployment - How To Read the Charts

By now it's pretty well understood that any information or statistics provided by the government are to be taken with a generous dollop of salt. Remember that we were told that Freddie and Fannie were rock solid, and that the banking industry had no problems in the foreseeable future. Keep in mind that at the U.S. weather service, "foreseeable" means 5 days out, and we all know how well that works.

Mike Shedlock at Townhall Finance has a nice piece up explaining where those rosy unemployment numbers come from, and hints on how to interpret any such future proclamations.
  • In November, those "Not in Labor Force" rose by a whopping 487,000. If you are not in the labor force, you are not counted as unemployed.
  • Were it not for people dropping out of the labor force, the unemployment rate would be well over 11%.

  • Toss in discouraged workers and that number rises to around 16%. How many of your friends do you know are currently unemployed?

    Saturday, December 3, 2011

    The Future of Transportation, Electrics

    The Aptera company, which I spoke of earlier, is officially closing its doors.
    Which is too bad as I thought the basic design had a lot of promise, just not as an electric. It seems that even with some prospect of $150M from the government, private investors couldn't be persuaded to pony up another $150M.

    I wonder what the prototypes will bring in the bankruptcy auction.

    Thursday, December 1, 2011

    How Things Work - Economies

    Found this graph and couldn't pass it up.
    Let's say I'm a farmer, and I have some potatoes. I'm asking $900/truckload for my potatoes. They begin to depreciate as soon as they are dug up, and my price declines to $700. Then the government, seeing that the price of potatoes is in decline, prints a bunch of money and gives it to state and local governments.

    I recognize that the value of the money is diluted, and raise the price of my potatoes to compensate to $1200/truckload. I'm selling potatoes, but not quickly enough for the government who prints another load of money and repeats the previous feat.

    I raise the price of the remaining potatoes to $1350 to compensate, and continue to sell at lower prices as time goes on.

    Oddly enough, the $1200 I'm currently getting has the same purchasing power as the $400 I would have been getting by now if the government had done nothing.

    For all this effort, the government expects to get re-elected.