Wednesday, September 30, 2009

AGW: Debunked At Last?

Found the initial pointer for this over at the Devils Kitchen (language warning). Followed it to Steve McIntyres post at Climate Audit, and gave this and the next 2 posts a read. It seems Steve has been trying to pry loose the dataused to produce the famous Hockey Stick graph shown below:
That would be the red line. It turns out that in spite of data being more avail;able for recent times, the authors decided to dump most of the available data, and use only 12 points to produce the dramatic uptick at the end. The black line is McIntyres effort to duplicate the results of the original study, and test the methodology. While the methods seem to be generally in agreement, when the remaining available data, 34 points, are substituted for the 12 points originally used, the result is the black line. Note that the Hockey Stick not only completely disappears, temperatures are shown to be declining, in agreement with globally collected data.

The temperature data are inferred from the relative widths of tree rings from trees in Russia. My experience with trees is that ring width is far more sensitive to moisture availability than temperature variations, but there may be methods to allow for this.

Visit the site, and check the post, as well as the 2 following ones. Warning: There is math, specifically statistical analysis, and lots of it. The stuff in between in interesting, though.

In any case, not to worry, it's nothing a massive tax increase won't quickly cure.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Cap and Trade

Also known as Waxman-Markey, or Waxman-Malarky, or Crap and Tax, depending on how much of it you've had a chance to read, has stalled in the Senate as most of the central states, that is the ones between Massachusetts and California, have noticed that the penalties on coal burning alone will largely shut them down.

Well, have no fear, for Sen. Boxer (D-Cali) and Sen Kerry (D-I still have the hat), our two best experts on the welfare of middle America, are teaming up to "fix" the bill.
Kerry last week sought to change the vernacular surrounding the climate bill and sell its concepts more broadly, insisting it is not a "cap and trade" proposal but a "pollution reduction" bill. "I don't know what 'cap and trade' means. I don't think the average American does," Kerry said. "This is not a cap-and-trade bill, it's a pollution reduction bill"
I guess it is, if you consider a paycheck a form of pollution. It looks like it will certainly take care of that problem.

It's in the Senate now, so that's only 2 calls to make to your Senators. Catchy words and phrases like "unemployed", "not contributing to the tax base", "not contributing to your voter base", and "tar and feathers, if you're lucky", will help grab their attention.

The big items on the agenda right now are facing a sort of deadline of Nov 4, as the loss of multiple governorships will likely spook some of the "blue dogs" away from the plantation. Remember, a "blue dog" is an otherwise ordinary Democrat who demands a high enough price for his vote to make him one of the last to get on board.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Cash For Codgers Program Proposed

This information is just out from a staffer at Sen. Max Baucus’ office at a press conference regarding the latest rendition of the Health care bill. Many questions have been raised regarding the costs associated with the bill both to the government, and to the taxpayers. An amendment has been proposed to the bill in an attempt to control costs. The amendment would establish the “Cash For Codgers” program, which recognizes that people over 55 typically require more, and more expensive, health care, and people over 65 not only require more health care yet, but also no longer contribute to the nation’s tax base, thus delivering a double whammy to the system.

Under the Cash For Codgers program, if someone came in seeking health care services that were judged “excessive” by a locally appointed appraisal board, then their nearest relative will be granted power of attorney to make the decision, and will be offered $3500 to $4500 for such organs as are usable, and the patient would then be humanely parted out. Unusable portions will be disposed of in an ecologically approved manner, with preferences given to demands of the agriculture industry.

Proposed amendments to this amendment include a request by Sen. Stabenow of Michigan for a 35% tariff on imported Chinese organs from the prison systems there, and a request by Nebraska’s Sen. Ben Nelson to give preference to Cargill Pork feedlot operations in Omaha for the leftovers.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Smells Like...

Hugo Chavez, 2 years ago, famously claimed to smell the brimstone of the Devil when speaking after Bush in the UN. This year, in addition to praising Fidel Castro to the skies, the odor has changed:
"It doesn't smell of sulfur. It's gone. It smells of something else. It smells of hope and you have hope in your heart," Chavez said during a rambling, 57-minute address where he mentioned close friend and former Cuban President Fidel Castro more than Obama or Bush.
It's clear to me at this point that Mr. Chavez has never visited a farm.

Presidential Politics

Over at Insty, Glenn is running an expanded poll as to whom his readership would prefer on the ticket for the 2012 election. So far, Sarah Palin is the runaway winner, with some interesting choices performing well in second place. That election is a long way off, and many things can happen between now and then. What the right needs to guard against at this point is a concerted campaign by the media to push their favorites to the front by devoting time and coverage to the weakest candidates like they did, successfully, last time.

There are rumors that Hillary will be quitting the State department to run for New York governor. Right now, she would trample Peterson, and likely win the office, if the Republicans follow their usual strategy of running some very senior, but very unexciting party flunky against her. Spending a year or two in the governors mansion in N.Y. would make her a formidable candidate in the primaries to displace Obama on the party ticket in 2012. Obama knows this, and like Jabba, "Likes Mrs. Clinton right where she is" paying state visits to places without TV coverage. This also explains why Obama is tossing Gov. Peterson under the bus in favor of a stronger candidate, to be named later, who will promise not to run against him in the '12 primaries.

I do not have an account on Daily Kos or Puffington Host, or Media Mutters, but it would be interesting to put something up there, asking the left who they would like to see on the other side of the ticket. I suggest that John McCain would probably do well, considering how well he did the last time.

The Workshop

OK, I haven't actually built any of this, and at this time I have no plans to, but sometimes when the straight line is handed to you, you gotta run with it.

Bayou Rennaisance Man notes this technological gem from England:
A vibrator that you recharge the batteries in by winding the crank, which the inventor suggests will be popular in the third world where batteries are scarce. Bayou has some familiarity with the third world, and suggests this will be a non-starter there, but let's keep thinking;

Here is a flashlight that gets its power from a shaking action that shuttles a magnet through coils inside:
No batteries at all, and it gets its energy from simple reciprocal shaking action. The perfect power source for the first device, no?

I'm calling my patent attorney. I believe I've just invented perpetual motion. Or solved the energy crisis. Or won a Nobel. Or something.

Or perhaps we should file this under "reasons why engineers should never be unemployed".

Monday, September 21, 2009

Education - Is We Learning?

Education is wonderful, everybody can learn something from it. Here in Colorado, for example, our budget is busting with more spending than receipts. Ask the pols for cuts, and they tell you things like 90% of the budget is entitlements that can't be touched. Well, if you cant adjust them, then maybe you could eliminate them. If the funding is all that important, then bring it back, at a lower level, and as a discretionary item.

What's interesting is a study of expenditures on education, the most sacred of sacred cows, by professor Mark Perry. Think spending more helps?
Not so you'd notice. The implication here is that at least since 1970, anything you spend over $5500/student is probably wasted. For myself, I've known this since about 1980 when comparing notes at the aerospace company I worked at showed that Iowa, while spending $7000/student produced more sharp engineers than New York, at $11,000/student.

While having an Olympic-sized swimming pool, imported dance instructors, and reserved parking with outlets for the EVs the students and faculty drive to school is nice, you get more bang for your buck by piling on homework, and informing the students that if they don't do it this year, they'll be doing it again next year. And no athletic eligibility for anyone repeating a grade.

Selling Out For Fun And Profit

There are artists out there who are proud that their work has never been used to sell beer. Often enough, this is traceable to the fact that their art has never been used to sell anything, including itself. Accepting a federal grant is something else entirely, as they are handed out without regard for race, religion, ethnicity, talent, merit, or anything else.

The administration has solicited those artists associated with the NEA, to produce work touting various government programs, and perhaps, the general wonderfulness of our Dear Leader himself. My first thought was that this should be easy money, just download some of the stuff made popular in the 30's, and using Photoshop, switch the heads.
Darleen at Protein Wisdom has done just that.
This masterpiece should get her a generous stimulus check. The possibilities are just endless.

Why The Green Movement Is Doomed

The U.N. is calling for a great conclave of world leaders in which Ban Ki Moon will presumably attempt to convert the lot of them, or at least a majority, to the notion that unless the world ceases using fire, in any form at all, we're all doomed.
There's only one or two small problems with the thinking behind this:

"We can get a successful outcome from Copenhagen. It is achievable, but at the moment it's in the balance," said John Ashton, Britain's climate change envoy. "We need to close the gaps."

Those gaps grew over the summer. There is what Ashton called the "ambition gap" – the failure of leaders of the big polluting countries to sign on to the deep emissions cuts needed. Then there is the "finance gap" – the failure of industrialised states to come up with a package on how to compensate poor countries that will suffer the most devastating consequences.

The ambition gap involves convincing the leaders of developed countries, such as the U.S., G.B. and Japan, that it would be more noble to reduce their countries carbon footprints to the level of environmental models as Zimbabwe, or Kazakhstan. This involves reducing the national GDP to those levels as well, as reducing CO2 output is another way of saying "reduce your use of fire, in all forms".

The other problem is that the environmental paragons know good and well where the foreign aid, technology imports, and in many cases, food aid come from and are not anxious to see the sources dry up.

The "greenies" are the people who have been opposed to the use of fire ever since it was first introduced. I remember when fire was introduced, and anticipated that it would soon make possible the introduction of other advanced technologies, such as sliced bread. I had also hoped that it would allow us to eliminate those low-brow Luddites from the village down the river who opposed the use of fire, but alas, they're still with us.

Science and Technology Marching Foreward

Here is the best answer to the problem of agricultural-produced methane I've seen yet. While we know that methane is a much bigger contributor to global warming than carbon dioxide, no one yet has proposed a fix to the problem, as they have for the automobile industry. Here it is:

Methane (CH4) plus oxygen (2O2) yields carbon dioxide (CO2) plus water (2H2O) a hopefully less warming combination. Simply fitting cattle with afterburning ignition sets accomplishes this in one step. Feeding the cattle in stalls, while backing them up to a power plant has the effect of producing "green" electricity as well.

Solving 2 problems at once. Where's my stimulus check?

Thanks to Right Wing News for the underlying article and the great graphic.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Workshop

Haven't had anything here in a while, and frankly, I'm disappointed in that. Building something socially irresponsible and calling it performance art is a lot more fun than ranting and raving over the actions of the nitwits we've elected.

Anyway, here's some previews of coming attractions. First, one of my friends informed me that someone at his work was trying to get rid of an electric scooter of indeterminate providence, by parking it out by the company dumpster and hoping someone would steal it. Being nothing, if not helpful, I volunteered to steal it.
This patriotically-themed little number is the result. It's a Chinese-built OB-City Eagle. 24VDC, 20A which works out to, lessee, 24x20/750 = .64 hp. Listed specs are:
Motor power:500w
Speed:20km/h (12.5 mph)
Weight capacity:100kg
(12-18 mi)

The batteries are about 2 or 3 years old, and I would not want to have to depend on this to get me 12 miles to the well before Timmy expires while awaiting rescue, but a couple of alternative uses for this suggest themselves. Some are more outrageous than others, and the outrageousness factor is weighted heavily when planning projects.
This, for example:
This is a device to automate the otherwise difficult and tedious task of crushing pop cans. It has features such as a 1/3 hp electric motor, 2 pistons to crush the cans, and a double-stack magazine to feed the cans in. Crushed cans, in the form of neatly uniform aluminum pellets, drop from the openings on either side, at the front, into whatever receptacle the operator has provided. The arms with the rubber bands around them are connected to a second set of pistons that hold the next can in place until the crusher piston has fully retracted. It seems that getting lightweight pop cans to feed properly is a bit trickier than you'd think. I will try to get a video of this soon.

Thematic paint and decoration are being considered.

Molotov-Ribbentrop Redux

On the 70th anniversary of the Russian invasion of Poland, the president announces that defensive radar, which was opposed by the Russians, will be canceled. The Poles are furious, calling this the "selling of Poland to the Russians". The Russians are quite happy. The last time such a deal was reached, with the Germans, they got about half of Poland, the other half going to the Germans.

What I want to know is what parts of Poland do we get from this?

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Workshop Definitions

In the days of my wasted youth, in a motorcycle magazine, whose title I've long forgotten, there was published an article noting the real definitions of terms we ran across regularly.

Chrome: An ornamental metal, highly prized for its ability to blister, peel, and turn myriad colors. Regularly used when other materials would not transmit heat to your leg fast enough.

Self-adjusting: Capable of getting out of whack without any outside intervention what so ever.

Self-oiling: An accurate term, referring to your boots or the garage floor. Not to be mis-interpreted to refer to, say, your chain.

Trouble lamp: Also known as the mechanics tanning lamp, its function is to place the area being worked on into deepest shadow while delivering permanent retinal damage to your eyes.

There were others, which I've forgotten, but some things are eternal, such as the self-adjusting brakes fitted to the rear wheels of my pickup. I thought they were malfunctioning (non-functioning) but was told by the dealership that I should expect the front wheels to lock up and skid while the rears seemed unbothered by my panic-stricken application of the pedal. This was the "normal function of the anti-locking feature on your truck". This kind of advice is why I do my own repair work, and cannot recommend a mechanic, as I don't know any.

At some point, I'll have to get into the rear brakes, and figure out why the little adjuster fingers are hanging out in space instead of snuggling up to the adjuster wheel like they're supposed to. All I need is time.

FWIW: Brakes are not difficult. Yes, if you do something wrong, the results can be catastrophic, but if you do something wrong, it's usually painfully apparent in the first 10 ft or so, long before you get to Deadmans Curve. When I hear the commercial for Just Brakes on the radio, and the maiden-in-distress says "All that for $99.00, why do you do it, Just Brakes?" All I can think is "Because it's easy money, honey."

Schrödinger's Recovery

Fed head Ben Bernanke declared “the recession is very likely over at this point,” adding the phrase “from a technical perspective.”

So does that mean that if you open my box there's a 51% chance that I'm employed?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Speech Codes

This was probably copied from the North Korean guide to "Stayin Alive" that originally referred to the Dear Leader, but this sort of stuff travels well, and so far it hasn't been applied outside the U.S. House.

Under section 370 of the House Rules and Manual it has been held that a Member could:

• refer to the government as “something hated, something oppressive.”
• refer to the President as “using legislative or judicial pork.”
• refer to a Presidential message as a “disgrace to the country.”
• refer to unnamed officials as “our half-baked nitwits handling foreign affairs.”

Likewise, it has been held that a member could not:

• call the President a “liar.”
• call the President a “hypocrite.”
• describe the President’s veto of a bill as “cowardly.”
• charge that the President has been “intellectually dishonest.”
• refer to the President as “giving aid and comfort to the enemy.”
• refer to alleged “sexual misconduct on the President’s part.”
To translate, everything the Dems said about Bush is OK, and everything the Reps said about Clinton or Obie is forbidden. This should help clarify in the minds of the voters next election, just who stands for what.

As a suggestion to the members of the House, the way to word a speech is:

"My honorable colleagues, while I would never call our Dear Leader a liar, a hypocrite, or intellectually dishonest in pursuing actions that give aid and comfort to our nations enemies, I must observe that some 50,000,000 of my constituents have raised these issues on numerous occasions recently, and ask my colleagues on the other side of the aisle, what they intend to do to reduce this lack of confidence in our nations leadership?"

See? It's all in how you phrase it.

Meantime it wouldn't hurt to write your congress-nitwit and ask if they intend to expand this speech code to the general populace soon. It could be called "hate speech" and tacked on as an amendment to something.

Personally, I love nothing more than a bogus conspiracy theory that causes heartburn to politicians. If you like, go ahead and accuse them of supporting the amendment, and tell them that the recall petitions are being printed up even as they are reading your letter of outrage.

The Future of Transportation

Indy reports that the folks at Aptera have discovered that there's federal pork available if you ask right, so they've asked that their futuristic 3-wheeler have it's classification changed, from motorcycle to car.

George Jetson would be proud to own one of these, even with rather anemic performance, as it is claimed to get some 300+ MPG in the right circumstances. The problem is that the vehicle was built as a motorcycle in the first place to get around the myriad federal regulations covering cars, such as crash-resistant bumpers front and rear, side impact protection, rollover protection, airbags, and all else, amounting to some 1500 lbs and a bunch of bucks to build in. Glenn suggests this move is being opposed by GM in order to corner ALL the federal money, but when your parent company is the one doling it out, this shouldn't be a problem.

Wherin lies the problem is that if the Aptera can be considered a car, what's to prevent the Feds from declaring this a car:
Or this:
Or this:
Options on the Ural sidecar include either a machine gun, or an anti-tank rocket launcher.

I would just as soon the Fed Gov stayed far away from the motorcycle biz, as we have plenty of evidence already that it's the touch of death anywhere it goes.

Actually, if the Aptera is declared a car, and thus has to meet all the Fed Regs, when they're done, it's apt to look a lot like the Dymaxion:
Oh Yeah! Baby!

Yet Another Czar

Thanks to Jim Treacher, who has a whole set of pictures of the South Florida Tea Party gathering.
This really needs to be looked in to. The other outfis proclaims the Czar of Transparency. Like most right-thinking people, I say more is needed.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Economics II

That didn't take long.

HONG KONG — China unexpectedly increased pressure Sunday on the United States in a widening trade dispute, taking the first steps toward imposing tariffs on American exports of automotive products and chicken meat in retaliation for President Obama’s decision late Friday to levy tariffs on tires from China.
What's most amusing here is the description of the move as somehow "unexpected". It seems nobody at the Times is old enough to remember what happened the last time this was done, and we already know that history is an optional course for Journalism majors.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Employment II

It seems the Pakistani army can put up a credible showing, given half the chance. After earlier conceding the Swat valley to the Taliban, the reaction, locally and globally must have gotten to the Paki government. Over the last few weeks, the army has been marching through the Swat valley and, with a bit of assistance from UAV attacks, has largely cleaned the place out.
The fighting forced an estimated 200,000 civilians from their homes, and left hundreds of militants dead. In recent weeks the bodies several Taliban figures have been found swinging from lampposts amid allegations that they were being targeted for extrajudicial killings by government death squads.
Rule 1 of the Dr. Cosby Rules Of Warfare: He who wins the toss, gets to make the rules.
Observation: He who makes the rules, usually wins.

Of course if these are in fact extrajudicial executions, perhaps we should send a select committee consisting of the entire democratic membership of the Senate Judicial Committee, and a dozen or so ACORN organizers over there to investigate. Take as long as they like.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Tea Party

The New York Times said "thousands". The Washington Post said "tens of thousands", the London Daily Mail said "up to 2 million", I've heard that both CNN and ABC have both estimated the crowd at over 2 million.

Folks, that there's a LOT of pissed-off peasants.

Insty also carries this comment:
Meanwhile, a reader emails: “I’ll tell you what I find impressive. I’m watching the Fox news video about 15 minutes after the end of the event. The crowd has thinned out enough that you can see the ground and there is not a speck of trash on the grass. Absolutely clean. To contrast, google ‘pictures of litter on the mall after the inauguration.’”
Presumably the tarrings and featherings will be performed on a tarp, so as not to inconvenience the grass beneath.

The Denver Tea Party was well attended, although I got there quite late as it was beginning to thin out.


Back in the 20s, the worlds economy was roaring along, the stock markets were booming, and everything was coming up roses. Except for Utah and Oregon. In 1930, Utah Senator Reed Smoot teamed with Oregon Rep Hawley to fix this, and boy, did they ever fix it.

International trade, which made up about 1/4 of US business, went to near zero, and unemployment went to nearly 25%. For the next 20 years, no one could figure out why.

Let's try it again, this time it will turn out different. After spending a billion dollars to artificially raise the price of used cars to a minimum of $3500 and make replacement parts scarcer and more expensive, the administration is going to increase the cost of maintaining your used car by increasing the price of tires by 35%.
In one of his first major decisions on trade policy, President Obama opted Friday to impose a tariff on tires from China, a move that fulfills his campaign promise to "crack down" on imports that unfairly undermine American workers but risks angering the nation's second-largest trading partner.
What could go wrong. If the price of Wang Chung tires goes up 35%, the price of Goodyears will go up by a similar amount. The working poor will be forced onto public transportation, and the grateful taxpayer will happily subsidize their new rides.

Of course the Chinese are not happy with this, and are proposing tariffs against US made goods. Meanwhile, back at the Champs d'Elesyee, Mr Sarkozy is proposing his own version of Smoot-Hawley, only this time instead of claiming that the tariffs "protect domestic workers from shoddy merchandise made by underpaid foreign labor"*, he gets to claim that since other countries (China and India) are not hobbling themselves with massive energy taxes, this will be offset by an equally massive "carbon tax", which is also known as an import tariff. The Chinese and Indians are not amused.

Can you say "International trade war?". I knew you could. Now try "Global Depression", followed by "Major War". OK that's probably an extreme view of things, and enough world leaders remember what happened the last time to not make the same mistakes one more time. At least we can hope, right?

*This phrase was used in reference to German products in the 20s. Its utility is that the actual target may change, but is never actually named, making the phrase evergreen. It was probably first used about 10,000 years ago when somebody tried to sell his stone arrow points in the village down the river.

Friday, September 11, 2009


It's almost hard to believe that an organization that promises an active lifestyle, and regular openings in middle and upper-middle management would have any trouble recruiting people, but it seems to be the case for Al-Qaida.

Despite an intensive US-led manhunt, there has not been a credible lead on the Saudi-born al-Qaida leader in years. Bin Laden's nickname among some CIA hunters is "Elvis" because there have been so many false sightings of him.
I, personally, believe that "Elvis" left the building back in 2003, and anything relating to him produced since is bogus. Still, this would imply an opening in top management, too.


Some controversy has sprung up over the violation of house decorum and rules covering the by the outburst of Rep Joe Wilson, reacting to the presidents claim that the proposed health control bill will not provide taxpayer subsidized health care to illegal aliens.

It may well not, eventually, as this report suggests:

"The Congressional Research Service has indicated that indeed the bills that are before Congress would include illegal aliens," Wilson said. "And I think this is wrong."

Indeed, the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service study found that the House health care bill does not restrict illegal immigrants from receiving health care coverage.

House Republican Minority Leader John Boehner amplified the complaint that without proof of citizenship, illegal immigrants could be insured.

To be scrupulously fair, when any organization with the word "Congressional" is described as "nonpartisan", this should set off all the BS alarms within hearing. Also, it should be noted that the above mentioned report comes from Fox News, a known subsidiary of the Forces Of Darkness (tm) (r).

The report suggests that modifications are being considered that would fix this, and make Rep. Wilson, retroactively, wrong.

Also mentioned in the report:
House Democrats have left open the option to sanction Wilson for violating a House rule that expressly prohibits members from accusing presidents of lying. But they signaled a preference to move ahead without further distraction.
No mention of exactly when this rule was passed, but based on a notable lack of enforcement over the years, I'd have to guess it's a recent thing. No Democrat, to my recollection, has ever suffered any consequence, beyond a slight uptick in campaign contributions, from calling a Republican president a liar. I assume that Rep. Wilsons quick apology was the result of a personal visit by Rhambo Emmanual who explained to him the mechanics of such traditional Chicago parliamentary procedures as concrete overshoes, and the breathtaking vistas available from the bottom of the Chicago River.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Quote of the Administration

Jon Caldera calls this the best one-liner of the night:

There remains some significant details to be ironed out.

- President Obama, on his own health reform plan

I'm going to call it the defining statement for the entire administration, for as long as it lasts.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Fighting Robots

Fighting robots were first introduced in Denver in about 1986 at the local science fiction convention. The event was a smash hit, and is still put on today. The rules are fairly simple, and it's possible to build a competitive machine for $50 or so.

Others have gotten on board with events like Robowars and Battlebots, but the best thing to happen to the concept was when the military got into it. Today, the best toys are at DARPAs annual contests for the really serious end of things.
This baby looks to weigh 1-200 lbs, and has all the tactical bolt-ons any red-bloded American boy could want. The Critter Crunch, mentioned first, has 2 weight classes, 2 and 20 lbs. They also have an informal heavyweight class, which no one has built a machine for that requires your robot to fir into a 1-meter cube at the start, and top out at 100Kg max weight.

After seeing the 20 pounders go at each other with flame throwers and axes, a little thought makes clear that the larger class would necessarily be something the Army would be proud to own. It's also clear that the battle will have to be fought outdoors, and the audience will need to watch by remote TV. Backup cameras wouldn't be a bad idea either.

Air Fares

In England, the government is proposing higher taxes on air travel, to reduce air travel, to reduce their national carbon footprint. This would be in addition to what the airlines themselves do to the passengers, apparently for the same reason, and not because they're making too much money and need to reduce their tax liability.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Happy Days

Today was the last day of my short-term job, and I got a peek at the (preliminary) bill for the trip to the ER.

Next time I'm just going to lie down and see if whatever it is goes away by itself.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

More Helath Care

This time some good news as technology marches onward. Arstechnica reports:

Detecting lung cancer could soon be as trivial as determining alcohol intoxication levels. A breath analyzer made out of functionalized gold nanoparticles may make lung cancer diagnosis noninvasive and portable.
The good news is that it appears to work in a fairly basic manner. Initial testing was don on people found to be fairly well along with the disease.
The authors neglect to mention if they will try to figure out how sensitive their sensors are to different stages of lung cancer. All of the cancer subjects in this study had primary stage-3 or stage-4 lung cancer, so the disease had already progressed significantly. It would be important to know if their sensors are useful in stages 1 and 2 of the disease, as being able to diagnose patients in earlier stages would vastly improve their chances of survival.
There is speculation that some other diseases might be detectable with this too.

Thanks to the Devils Kitchen for the pointer. Kitchen's over there, the workshop's over here.

Health Care

OK it's not actually about the proposed "Cash for Codgers" program being proposed, but it seems that not only is the weekend boding poorly for more than one of us, I'm on the list too.

I'm out working up a storm in upper 80s weather, when eventually I come in for a big slug of cold lemonade. This is followed by a near-faint and heartbeat measured at 180, which incurrs some soreness in the chest. This, in turn inspires the spouse to send me off to the ER.

At my age, if you walk into the ER and say the magic words "chest pain" you find yourself on a gurney being tested (EKG) almost immediately. In spite of no positive results, further tests are performed. Several blood tests, 2 X-rays, and a pair of PET scans. All of which are followed by a verdict of "clean bill of health. Just take it easy for the next few days."

The big, real heart attack will happen in a few days when I get the bill for all this.

McCain Feingold

The Supremes are soon to take a case regarding McCain-Feingold, and are presented with an opportunity to toss it completely. This would make elections more like they used to be (obfuscationary and corrupt) than they are now (obfuscationary and corrupt). Although having a donations line open that allows contributions from anyone, anywhere in the world probably lowers the bar about as far as it will go without doing photo ops with terrorists in return for a fat check.

The idea that restricting money to politicians to keep them more pure is right up there with keeping guns out of big cities to keep the violence down. We all know how well that's working out in D.C. and Chicago.

Better idea would be to let pols take money from anyone they want, as long as they publish the source on the internet, say within 24 hours. To illustrate the futility of that, just imagine the sudden proliferation of PACs with names like "The Sweetness And Light Group For Mom And Apple Pie", wholly funded by, say, Mexican drug cartels.

Of course if the pols had less money to spread around, and fewer opportunities to spread it, the price of a vote would drop. As someone said:"When politicians control buying and selling, the first things bought and sold are the politicians."

The Most Ethical Congress

In time for the Labor Day weekend, when no one reads what little news gets published, it seems that Charlie Rangell, chairman of the Ways and Means committee, which writes your tax laws, has discovered some $660K of assets that he forgot to mention in violation of the house ethics rules. This would normally be reason to loose the hounds and demand that he step down from his committee chairmanship, if not resign his seat in the house, except that he has significant protections from such a fate.

First, of course, is that he's a senior member of the "most ethical party evah", which invokes the memory of Edwin Edwards who famously claimed that "Unless I'm caught in bed with a live boy or a dead girl, this job is mine as long as I want it."* Pelosi, who is in charge of keeping order in the asylum, as yet sees no reason to act.
“Unless they find $90,000 in his freezer, like they did with Jefferson, we’re going to wait [for the outcome of a House ethics probe],” said a Democratic aide familiar with Pelosi’s thinking on the matter.

Your Tax Bucks At Work

Shamelessly stolen from Argyle Sweater, who is taking over the spot vacated by The Far Side:

There may well be some truth in this. Last Friday, driving down Broadway, we encountered a resurfacing effort over a 2-mile stretch. This is the sort of thing where they put 1 to 2 inches of asphalt over the existing roadway, roll it flat, and paint new stripes.

Last year, this would have involved the usual collection of heavy equipment, one orange cone at each cross street, and two flag people, holding a sign marked "slow", one at each end. The drill is that you notice the flagman, and try to remember to look both ways before turning across the new asphalt so as to avoid becoming part of it under the roller.

This year there were no less than 4 flagmen.

I keep hoping that the principle might find application to the engineering field.

Meantime, the effects of revising the methodology in calculating the unemployment rate, firat applied in July, are now evident. Thanks to Innocent Bystanders for the graphic.
The result is to shift the curve downward about half a point. Unfortunately, it still looks like the apex is going to appear sometime around spring of next year. I hope everybody stashed enough acorns to make it that long.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Quote of the Day

Found in a video clip at Powerline:

" The larger the national debt, the wealthier we are as a nation."

Rep. Pete Stark D-CA

I suspect that Mr. Stark has been in the house (since 1973) so long that when he says "we" he means the congress, not the country or the population. For him, a large national debt is equivalent to a high limit on the credit card, which he doesn't have to pay off.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Squandering an Opportunity

Mark Tapscott, here, goes on at some length about the opportunity to press for federal term limits on the part of the Tea Party. Frankly I thing almost any political grouping should be pushing for this, although, I suppose, if your party holds a majority, and you never expect to lose it, then term limits might not sound like such a good idea. Here's the money quote:
What I do know is this: Any candidate for Congress who opposes term limits cannot be trusted to put the national interest ahead of his own selfish political interest.
Federal Term Limits are included in Randy Barnetts bill of federalism. This collection of proposed amendments contains a number of things, some better than others, and calls for a demand for a constitutional convention to consider them. Keeping in mind that the congress will NEVER let a convention happen, if enough states ask for one, the congresses reaction is to actually pass the proposed amendment to defuse the issue. Thus, you can be assured that your state legislatures demand for a convention will not actually be met, but you will get a chance to vote the amendments up or down.

Gitmo Fun

I like the Rolling Stones. Here's a tribute to them featuring Gitmo and Barny the dinosaur.

I liked it.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Secret Master Of The Universe

Headlines shamelessly swiped from Drudge today:

SHOW THEM THE MONEY: Dealers Still Waiting For 'Clunker' Cash...

Obama aides see need for more troops in Afghanistan...

Senate Dem Push Back Climate Bill's Schedule Amid Health-Care Debate...

White House blasts Cheney in interrogation feud...

RASMUSSEN POLL: Obama Approval New Low at 46%...

Blame Bush for woes...

Evidently when Bush left the white house, he took the Sooper Sekrit All-Controling remote control with him without telling Barry, and is now down in Texas pushing the buttons amid gales of maniacal laughter from Cheney and Rove.