Monday, March 29, 2010
What's Wrong With This Picture
The source for this is minneapolisfed. Go there and find the above image in interactive form, along with another interactive graph for data on a state level. Hours of fun. Just for grins, turn off all the recessions except for 1980 and 1981. Note that you get 3 years of data for each, which you would expect to overlap the second and third years of the 1981 recession, and the first 2 years of the 81. They almost do.
They call it the dismal science for a reason.
Sunday, March 28, 2010
In brief, leftist extremism is fun, while right-wing extremism is work.I might also add that it's the difference between wholesale and retail. A right-winger my decide he's fed up with a specific person, and that person will disappear in the night, like Jimmy Hoffa. The left tends to generalize to the point that sending the entire population of Kansas, for example, to the camps*, seems like the safest approach.
*Ayers College, a continuing education center for the congenitally recalcitrant. It is expected to be fully funded in the upcoming education bill, which you will be allowed to see as soon as it's signed.
Saturday, March 27, 2010
Today, however, we have really local politics. My state house rep, has an opponent.
Background: My current rep got elected to the house in the Democratic sweep of 2006, in a district that is not all that liberal. He's been raising taxes, finding more spending, and telling us he's a very conservative democrat in the town hall meetings.
His opponent is Kathleen Conti, who has never held office before, but, like a lot of us, is fed up. I met her at Liberty on the Rocks, a get-together of libertarian-minded folks out in Lakewood. She is a conservative-type Republican, and has an interest in restraining taxation and spending that's been the hallmark of the Dems running the state in recent years.
Click on her name, visit her site, and see if you can spare a few bucks for the cause. I did.
God and Money
Also go there to see the chart big enough to actually read, along with the notations.
In first place, with the highest positional average, are the Hindus, with the Jews holding down a strong second place. Apu must be doing better than I thought.
At the bottom are members of historically black christian churches, just below the Jehovah's Witnesses.
There is not enough information here to draw any really deep conclusions, except that belonging to one religion or another doesn't guarantee anything, but your odds do seem somewhat better in the temple than in the church.
The Future of Transportation, Nonmotorized
“Today I want to announce a sea change,” he wrote on his blog last week. “This is the end of favoring motorized transportation at the expense of nonmotorized.”Either he's never been out of "La Hood" or he hasn't noticed the chauffeur in the front seat of his armored limo. Or maybe he thinks of the limo as public transportation. After all, the public is paying for it.
The new policy, which was introduced a few days after Mr. LaHood gave a well-received speech from atop a table at the National Bike Summit, is said to reflect the Transportation Department’s support for the development of fully integrated transportation networks.Drinking with the bikers is certainly a worthwhile pastime, as anyone who has ever ridden the RAGBRAI* will attest, but you should probably have tour secretary stop you before you start dancing on the table tops. Especially if this includes policy speeches.
The folks at the National Association of Manufacturers is unimpressed, having evidently not gotten the memo about the new jobs program involving enrolling the unemployed into the Teamsters (truck drivers, among other things) union as junior members whose job description includes being harnessed into teams of 50 to 100 to pull the now fuel-free semi-trailers across the country. Of course with good bike trails,...
Anything is possible, although the trails may require widening. I could also recommend a tandem bike as the prime mover, although that may entail an unacceptable split in the delivery fee.
*Registers Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa, also known to participants as the Registers Annual Great Beer Ride Across Iowa. Motorbike riders refer to this sort of sport as T.T. racing (Tavern to Tavern).
2012 Presidential race
For those of you with short memories, let me advise you that Nobody got elected in '76, and I remember well how that turned out.
The Republicans have a way of finding candidates whose only qualification seems to be party seniority. Bob Dole and John McCain come to mind, although in his defense, McCain put up a bipartisan ticket by picking a Republican as his running mate. Would have been nice to have two republicans on the ticket, but that was not to be.
Friday, March 26, 2010
Given that you can already buy a machine that can assemble DNA, how long did you think you'd have to wait before they were able to produce complete organisms? Well, we're not quite there yet, but we can produce organs, as long as their not overly complex.
Go there, read the article. Then read the comments, which are easily as good as the article.
Four print cartridges will be required, of course, one for each component of the DNA molecule, and they will cost orders of magnitude more than the printer. Here's a tip: Buy an incubator, and print embryos. Be the first on your block to have your own T-Rex.
Nothing a new "do" can't cure though, right?
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Lions And Zebras 2
This is an inside joke for you software types. For the rest of the story and another joke go here.
The Future of Transportation, Pods
The above fugitive from Halloween is one variation , and below, this one:
is the Disney World variant. They seem to be Segways with full bodywork, and have performance and range in the 25 mi / 25 mph range. I assume they know that in the future, we will all be assigned jobs within 5 miles of our homes, or maybe homes within 5 miles of our jobs. Why so close? Because these are all-electric vehicles. Do you have any idea what happens to batteries in the winter, outdoors, unheated?
But let's assume it's summer, and you're cooking along at 25 mph, and a squirrel runs out in front of you. You slam on the brakes...
Fortunately it looks to be light enough that onlookers will be able to right it, and send you on your way, none the worse except for the double espresso mocha grande, which now sloshes about ankle deep on the floor.
They look like they open from the front. What do you suppose the odds are that you'll come to a halt face down, and unable to open the door? Maybe you can throw your weight around and rock it over to one side, then get the door open.
Very dangerous, sahib. You go first.
Not that I would advocate violent acts against our elected officials, no indeed, I never did any such thing, but if you find yourself so inclined, there are considerations.
First, if you get caught, you're going to get room, board, and health care paid for by the government for the rest of your life, or 8 years, depending on the affiliation of the judge and the victim.
Second, remember that elected federal officials that need replacing, for whatever reason, are replaced, for the most part, by their state's governor. Your cause is not helped if the replacement for the "extremist" whose term you limited, is picked by a governor who always thought the fellow was a spineless moderate anyway. It turns the whole exercise into even more of a crapshoot (at multiple levels) than it was to begin with.
Monday, March 22, 2010
Someone had a discharge at the show on Saturday, and someone else went to the hospital with a serious wound, from which, I'm told, he will eventually recover. Details are hazy at this point, but consensus of opinion is that Rule 1 was violated. When handed a gun, the first thing you do is open the action and check to see if it's loaded. DO NOT try the trigger action first.
BUT IF YOU DO, remember Rule 2 and point the gun in a (relatively) safe direction. Holes in the roof are easier and cheaper to fix than holes in your buddy.
Went out shooting the postal matches with Paula. Shot Mr.Completely's "stars" and 2 others. Did mediocre on the first try, but did much better on the second. Shot a third, then prepped the CZ while waiting for Paula to finish. She did, and changed her target, and we went back to shooting. After 7 rounds I check my target, and discover I forgot to change it, so I have 10 .22 holes, and 7 9mm holes in the same target. Disgusted, I change my target and start over with the CZ. Mediocre results, but at this point, we're tired, so we go home. Next day, upon scoring the targets, I discover that the double shot one, while not my best with the .22, was my best with the 9, by a decent margin. And I still owe that target 3 more shots! Now I have to figure out how to get to a range before the end of the month.
Health Care - Finis
As long as my crystal ball is operating with a high-speed connection to the future, let's take another look:
1. Obamacare will NEVER be repealed. This is a safe prediction. Repeal requires a 2/3 majority in both houses, absent a friendly president, and a minimum of 60% majority in the senate with a friendly one. Keep in mind that there will always be a sizable minority of the population in this or any other country willing to trade their freedom for security, so barring the kind of political upheaval that includes phrases like "hunted to extinction", there will always be a minority of Dems to deal with.
2. Amendments to the program will largely be limited to tax increases necessary to pay for it. If you think this will reduce the deficit, look at Massachusetts.
3. It's difficult to predict how the markets might react. If you're a medium-sized company, paying $1m/yr for your employees health insurance, it may well be worth it to you to cut them all loose to the government, and pay the $500K tax on companies that don't provide insurance. Actual rate varies, but is currently seen as lower than the cost of the insurance.
Anyway, it's the law, and it isn't going away. We'll see how easy it will be to live with it. From here on in, I will make every effort to limit comments on the program to the occasional "I told you so."
Sunday, March 21, 2010
Health Care Passes
If Pelosi wants to really rub the Republicans noses in it, she'll turn the writing of the reconciliation amendments bill over to them, since it will never pass both the House and the Senate.
Now we get to see if this will work any better at the national level than it did in Massachusetts.
A constitutional amendment limiting government expenditures to a fixed percentage of the previous years GDP. If the government wants more money, they better do whatever boosts the GDP this year, or forgo the wish list for next year.
This could have the effect of turning socialists into capitalists, since you can't get the monies you need to subsidize poverty unless you first enact policies that promote prosperity. It also eliminated the need to demand that old law be repealed before new law can be passed, as repealing onerous regulation is the quickest route to getting the goose laying those eggs again.
Note that there's no provision for borrowing here. I'd be tempted to add some kind of exception for borrowing in the case of a declared war, but I suspect this would lead to a perpetual case of "Northamerica has always been at war with Eastaisa" or something to that effect.
FWIW, I do not live anywhere near anywhere that could be called "the lone prairie" either. These little doggies have moved into a solid bedroom community. I suppose this means fewer stray cats. Also quicker cleanup of any dead squirrels that happen to show up out by my peach tree. Praise be to Offler, he who maketh things disappear over night.
Friday, March 19, 2010
How A Bill Becomes A Law
Taxation? Sure. Regulation? Of course! Representation? Meh.
Drop over there where this chart has rollover explanations. The reconciliation gambit has the virtue (?) of letting a congressman vote for X while delivering Y, and letting them deny having voted for Y, in hopes of getting re-elected.
It now becomes clearer the difference between a run-of-the-mill liberal Democrat, and a principled moderate is. The liberal will reflexively vote for any steaming pile of Marxist claptrap put in front of him. The principled moderate will huff and puff and denounce the proposal loudly and publicly until he is offered a bribe commensurate with his seniority.
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Springtime in the Rockies
Tomorrow will be 65 and clear, a good day to take the motorbike to work. Friday, they're calling for a high of 30 and 5-10 inches of heart-attack inducing heavy wet stuff.
Took the bicycle out this evening. Everything that was supposed to be tight, was loose, and vice versa, plus a weld failed on the seat. Maybe I'll stay in Saturday and service the bike.
Sunday I'll be at the CSSA booth at the gun show. Stop by, join the NRA, buy a t-shirt, chew the fat.
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
It seems the genes for regeneration are still there, just suppressed by another one.
Just think, suppress one gene, and grow a whole new brain. I'm really looking forward to that one. Gives a whole new meaning to the phrase "I changed my mind".
Monday, March 15, 2010
Now would be the time to strongly suggest to your congress critter that if he voted for this thing in the first place, against a nearly 60-40 popular disapproval, he's unlikely to be going back to Washington next year.
Of course if he or she votes for the Slaughter abomination, they should perhaps reconsider coming home. The peasants are revolting, as they say:
The Government as A Parasite
At the end of the day, all government is parasitic. An ideal state is achieved when you have enough of it to provide the rule of law, but not so much as to become a host-killing nanny state. This would be a favorable symbiosis. Here's the tough part: How do you control the infection of government to the benefit of both bodies without the government bercoming the runaway parasite that ultimately kills the host?
Here in Colorado, we had a TABOR amendment which limited the governments growth in income to the increase in population plus inflation. The state was taken over by the Dems in 08, and with both houses, the governorship and the media, the voters were convinced to give this up, with predictable results.
Perhaps a constitutional amendment limiting government expenditures to a fixed percentage of the previous years GDP. If the government wants more money, they better do whatever boosts the GDP this year, or forgo the wish list for next year.
Geek cites an article here in which the lefts poster child, Sweden, is examined in some detail, and comes out looking not so wonderful. The official Swedish unemployment rate of 6% is examined, and it turns out they use many of the same techniques the US government uses to minimize the number.
A researcher at the main trade union, LO, recently left his job when he was not allowed to publish his estimate that close to 20 percent of Swedes are unemployed, either openly or hidden in labor-market projects, long-term sick-leave and early retirement.The nasty catch seems to be that when a large percentage of the population is out of work, on some government subsidy or other, and sees no probability of finding work, then extending the government benefits becomes the most viable way of making a living, and there are always politicians willing to promise more government cheese in return for another term in office.
Quote of the Week
Robert Gibbs: Even if I have to personally break into the Smithsonian with a blowtorch and burn the Constitution, we will pass health care this week
Found at Curmudgeonly and Skeptical, the sites comments note that the Constitution in stored in the National Archives, but don't tell Gibbsey.
Gives you a nice grasp of the mindset of the people we're dealing with here, no? I had speculated earlier that I thought that nationalized health control was a done deal, requiring only the decision of whom to bribe and how much to give them.
Hey, hope springs eternal! Hell (D.C.) froze over, the Saints won the super bowl, and Ted Kennedy's Senate seat is now being warmed by a Republican. I know a fellow with 1 or two working pumpkin guns, so if we must, we can make a pig fly if we think that will help.
Tuesday, March 9, 2010
Put the two together, and what you have is the latest unmanned combat device for the battlefield of the future: An infantryman, teleoperated by someone at some remove from the actual battlefield. The first Terminators will not be completely autonomous.
Now think about the level of inspiration you would need to take up arms against such an enemy, and exchange fire with him, knowing that you are the only warm meat on the battlefield.
Lions And Zebras
The municipal savanna works the same way. The Zebras, in large numbers, travels as a herd to and from work, and the lions, in black and white vehicles, randomly pull a few of us down, to satisfy the municipal hunger.
Following the person in front of you, turning left, across an otherwise busy roadway, through an otherwise large gap in the oncoming traffic, the lead person steps on the brakes as soon as he clears the intersection, slowing to about 5 mph, and leaving yours truly sitting across an oncoming lane of traffic. Pulling up close behind him to avoid being hit is not "following too closely" regardless of what the uniformed kid with the gun and nun-chucks (when did they start issuing those?) says.
Fortunately, the DA will always solicit a bribe in the form of "gimmie some extra money, and I'll knock the charges down to almost nothing". This implying that while following too close is a 4 point offense, worthy of $88, having a defective headlamp is, while only 1 point, worth $105.
You don't suppose it's really about just money, do you?
Dr Helen has a post on the topic as well, and the comments there are worth reading, too.
Monday, March 8, 2010
Death Of A God
Some years back, D'wife bought an iTouchless 13 gallon trashcan, which, oddly enough, is not an Apple product.
Very mundane looking, but it has in the lid, sensors that react to anything getting close to it by opening the lid with a small motor. It was kind of pricey, MSRP being about $100, but with some shopping around, it can be had for around $75. Still sounds pricey? This thing has become my second favorite piece of kitchen automatia behind only the coffee pot. I liked it so well I fitted ours with teeth:
And named it Offler, after Terry Pratchett's crocodile god. If you set it too close to a walk path, the maw gapes open every time you pass. When the machines come after us, this thing will be at the forefront. Those teeth should be a factory option. On second thought, they should be standard. You should have to remove them yourself if they make you nervous.
Last week, Offler died. The little plastic gear, cast into the lid, snapped off, and while the sensor and motor still work fine, the lid remains shut. Replacement lids are available, and I got one, and I still have the old lid. That old lid is destined to become Something. What I'm not sure. A flag-raising B.S. alarm perhaps. D'wife is afraid it will become a rising pair of luminescent eyes, awaiting a trip to the loo in the dark. The mind races frantically, evincing the sound of stripped gears and dry bearings from inside the skull.
And best yet...Offler lives!
Disclaimer: No one ever gave me anything except my little dog Checkers.... No, wait, people have given me free stuff, including dogs, but never a carnivorous trashcan. If you get one, tell them I sent you. Maybe they'll give me one of their other widgets to test.
Sunday, March 7, 2010
Go here to shoot for the stars:
Or here to help suppress the Zombie uprising:
The weather is getting warmer, and you were looking for an excuse to go out to the range, and burn some ammo, now weren't you?
There are lots of other such matches out there, and most have in common that there is no prize, beyond bragging rights, for winning. My advice is that the targets are usually harder than they look, and what you think of as a bad target, may turn out to be quite competitive. Most, if not all of these can be shot with a .22, so cost shouldn't be a factor.
Take multiple targets. I usually find that my second target is the best. Take multiple guns, there's a class for everything. Take multiple people, the extra advice you'll get will be invaluable, or at least amusing. Besides it doesn't hurt to have a spotter. I don't know about you, but I have a hard time seeing holes smaller than about 1/2" diameter at extreme distances, like 25 ft any more.
The President, in a move I certainly would not have predicted, came out in favor of the school board. Predictably, the two national teachers unions are livid.
“I ripped the Obama sticker off of my truck,” said Zeph Capo, a midlevel official at the Houston Federation of Teachers who trains classroom teachers. “We worked hard for this man, we talked to our neighbors and our fellow teachers about why we should support him, and we’re having to dig the knife out of our back.”Bummer, dude. Like you, I had always thought that the teachers unions existed to keep mediocre teachers from being fired until they could get tenure.
Thursday, March 4, 2010
Write-Only Memory (WOM)
Reinforces my belief that if engineers built bridges the way legislators wrote laws, the United States would end at the first creek west of Plymouth Rock.
"Suddenly in the loudspeakers there's a voice saying that all passengers must immediately move to the front. Of course at that moment the passengers got worried and wondered what was happening," Nystrom said.After moving the passengers to the bow of the boat, it was discovered that the tow rope had been left behind.
Wednesday, March 3, 2010
McDonald v Chicago
Best summary yet is at Politics, Guns & Beer. Sample:
FELDMAN: Here’s my first argument.It was, as I noted earlier, not a real good day for Mr. Feldman. The transcript, which I linked earlier is still a good read. I get the impression that when you go in to argue before the Supreme court, that you may safely assume that most of the justices have already read your prepared arguments, and half of them would like to have a Christmas tree erected before the bench, about which your guts will be wrapped in fine old Germanic tradition.
SCALIA: That argument sucks.
FELDMAN: Ordered liberty?
SCALIA: We haven’t used that since 1937.
FELDMAN: Have too.
FELDMAN: Uh, here’s my second argument.
SCALIA: You just argued against your first argument.
Tuesday, March 2, 2010
To the leaders in California, Greece, Michigan, Spain, Portugal, New York and other places, here and all over the world:
If you do what the Marxists tell you to do, you will get the results the Capitalists warn you that you will get.
MacDonald v Chicago
Now, think of this, too: That when you have the First Amendment, or some of the other amendments, there is always a big area where it's free speech versus a whole lot of things, but not often free speech versus life. When it's free speech versus life, we very often decide in favor of life. Here every case will be on one side guns, on the other side human life.The above from Justice Bryer, who seems to have a problem with the notion of self-defense.
In other areas, the arguments got off onto the notion that since the Framers wrote the Second amendment to prevent the Federal government from disarming the state militias, should the second be interpreted to prevent the states from disarming their own militias. Feldman (Chicago) said yes, which got him painted into the corner of saying that possession of militia arms was OK, but not small pistols.
JUSTICE SOTOMAYOR: What -- in which ways has ordered liberty been badly affected?This should appeal to Justice Sotomayor. The justices are big on the concept of "ordered liberty", and lean toward anything that promotes it. While the phrase "self defense" does not appear in the constitution, the concept is understood to be broadly supportive of ordered liberty.
MR. GURA: Justice Sotomayor, States may have grown accustomed to violating the rights of American citizens, but that does not bootstrap those violations into something that is constitutional.
Don't let the 65 page number daunt you, they are double spaced, and in large type, limited to 25 lines per page.
ACORN Absolves Itself
Frankly, I had not expected anything very much different to happen. ACORN works very hard to get those people in, and everybody involved knows what quid pro quo means.
Monday, March 1, 2010
This is exactly the opposite of their position on the Sante Fe corridor, where rush hour congestion is dealt with by effectively narrowing a 3-lane road to two.
Of course they could cover their butts by designating the 3rd lane an HOV lane. Don't know what it's like now, but back when I went skiing, hardly anyone went alone.