## The EPA's Mercury Madness

The EPA's Mercury Madness - Investors.com

Good point.

## Duh.

How Democrats Fooled California’s Redistricting Commission - ProPublica

This was always a stupid idea. It always meant that the groups with the best organization (i.e. unions) would rule. In the article, they said demographics should have resulted in Republicans holding the seats they had. Instead Democrats are expected to pick up half a dozen.

What emerges is a portrait of skilled political professionals armed with modern mapping software and detailed voter information who managed to replicate the results of the smoked-filled rooms of old.

The losers in this once-a-decade reshaping of the electoral map, experts say, were the state’s voters. The intent of the citizens’ commission was to directly link a lawmaker’s political fate to the will of his or her constituents. But as ProPublica’s review makes clear, Democratic incumbents are once again insulated from the will of the electorate.

## What goes up

What goes up, must come down. This time tragically. A girl shot in the head when a gun that was being cleaned 1.5 miles away fired accidentally.

## Government

SOPA and the oblivious
It’s bizarre and entertaining to hear people who yesterday were all about allegedly benign and intelligent government interventions suddenly discovering that in practice, what they get is stupid and vicious legislation that has been captured by a venal and evil interest group.

The bill allows the government to censor the internet.

## I pick Amazon

Independent bookstores vs. Amazon: Buying books online is better for authors, better for the economy, and better for you. - Slate Magazine

I'd have to agree. I don't see much point in local bookstores...even B&I doesn't get a visit very often anymore. It's just much easier to say "let's see if it's on the Kindle" and start reading it 30 seconds later, than it is to get in the car and go to the B&I at the mall.

We have Amazon Prime as well, which is a great thing. We do all of our Christmas shopping from the comfort of home, then it appears at mom's house half way across the country just 2 days later. Then there are all the Amazon Prime videos, which seems superior to Netflix anyway.

Steve Says: Yes, I agree too. Going to the bookstore might be "something to do" still, i.e. something to get you out of the house. But the bookstore book selection is clearly inferior (especially for science and math), and I often find the reviews of other readers you find on line quite useful. Links to related books are useful too. You can even peek into most books online now. All in all, it's a winning combination.

## Party like it's 2008

What's wrong with this headline?

Manpower hiring survey is most optimistic since 2008 - JSOnline

Here's a quote from the article:

The quarterly poll of employers' expectations compiled by Manpower Inc. found "the most promising hiring outlook" since the period that immediately preceded the financial meltdown of 2008, according to the Milwaukee-based global staffing services company

Spot the problem?

It's right here in blue and red, from my latest employment graph:

Yep, 2008 is the year when employment seriously tanked.

So, pop the champagne corks, we can party like it's 2008 again!!

## Right and left hands

There were two major summits for Europe last week.

The heads of state of the European Union met last week to try to hammer out an EU and euro-saving agreement. Loaded with mountains of debt and slow growth, the community faces serious threats of a major recession or depression.

Meanwhile, far down south in Durban, South Africa these same heads of state sent bureaucrats down to a climate summit, where they agreed to hamstring their economies and take on more debt, and thus hasten the coming major recession or depression.

Who's to blame for this mess?

Britain and the US and the whole g*& d*&^ Anglo world, of course!!!

## Employment numbers

So, is today's unemployment report good news or bad news? The answer is neither of the above; it is actually irrelevant. The reason for this are two words: "Seasonally adjusted". The numbers that come out this month and next, the numbers that the media will all jump upon, will get revised next month and again the month after. Historically, November and December have large, very large downward revisions.

(Keep in mind that the Household survey, which is what they use to calculate the unemployment rate does not get revised. So the 8.6% number is already final.)

Last year, the initial job numbers were downgraded by 483,000 jobs by the time they were finalized. The 2009 numbers were downgraded a whopping 1,299,000 jobs. In 2008 it was revised by 412,000 downwards, and in 2007 it went down 430,000. So, the numbers that came out today will very likely be downgraded by at least 300,000, more likely by 400,000 or more. Combine the two and we are talking about the numbers between now and the end of the year probably being wrong by a combined 850,000 jobs.

The media, of course, rarely go back and correct the record. Here is a chart of monthly revisions. Novembers are unrevised, last month has had its first revision, and September's numbers are final. Here is a graph showing the size and direction of the revisions over the last few years:

So, taking into account that the numbers will likely be completely changed over the next two months, the how do the numbers look? We now have as many jobs (Household survey) in the country as we had in June, 2009...and February, 2005. In other words, there are no more jobs in the country today than there were almost 6 years ago. The Employer survey looks worse. We have the same number of jobs today as in May, 2009...and October, 2004. Celebrate!

Here's the graph showing a slow but steady increase in employment on both the Household and the Employment series:

So, we'll have the real November and December numbers solidified on the first Friday of March. Until then, take these with a big lump of pink Himalayan salt.

## Do the work

Instapundit...

I was just discussing this very thing with the 11-year-old today:

Almost everyone I know started with crappy jobs like hauling shingles up a ladder, but if you’re not willing to do the crap work chances are you won’t make it that far. There are lots of jobs advertised but there are lots more that aren’t.

She mentioned that she and a friend were naming jobs they wouldn't want when they get older; she mentioned working in a fast-food restaurant. I pointed out that they were actually okay jobs; that they were good for an entry level; that often if you work hard at one, you can get promoted relatively quickly; that they often have reasonably good benefits; and that people want to know you can do the awful jobs before you can get a better one.

I also pointed out that it was a good second job when you were just starting out. I told her that you often have to take a job that doesn't pay enough when you begin. It might be in your dream line of work at your dream company, but you are still getting paid bupkis. You take it, hoping that you will get promoted and move towards the job you really want. In that case, you often need to work two jobs. So, don that polyester uniform and pay the rent!

## Herman Cain

Good bye and good riddance.

Did he really think he could run for President while keeping his 13-year extra-marital affair secret?

What an egotistical horse's ass.

What a colossal waste of everyone's time.  Not to mention those poor saps who worked on his campaign or donated money.

Again, good riddance!

Jetman's latest

Awesome!

## Choo'n Gum

This one's for mom

## Dropping a bomb

Last night at 1AM, this appeared on Watts Up With That:

The link is to a second Climategate data dump. A whole new batch of about 5,000 e-mails (with about 200,000 more behind firewall protected by an unreleased password) from climate researchers are now out in the open. Lots of good stuff about helping "the cause" is coming out already.

I love the data dump. A subtle little, unexplained link simply appears in the middle of the night and all hell breaks loose. Well done, FOIA!

## OWS farewell song

As OWS tries to find what to do with itself now that Zuccotti park has been cleared out, I offer this:

## Quote of the Day

Quote of the Day, by Lubos Motl:

This sequence of sentences sounds just like this: "If an elephant is a bird, then a cactus must need water at least sometimes to survive. Let's try a thought experiment. Using a cactus, we can create a baby that is a boy exactly when it is not a boy. Therefore, an elephant is a dinosaur. It follows that Obama was born in Kenya."

## Old FM Band

Who knew? Prior to WWII, the FM band was from about 41.2 to 50.4 MHz:

After the war, the FCC moved the band to the now familiar 88-108 or so. Broadcasters and the 400,000 or so people who had FM receivers at the old band were just out of luck! Wow, I would have been pretty ticked off if I had sunk money in one of those sets.

Anyway, you learn something new every day. See some really nice old radios here, where I got the pic above.

## Stupid headline of the day

Former Eden Prairie schools chief hired part-time by private company | StarTribune.com

In other words: "This gal got a job!"

## Selling out Taiwan

I'm still trying to get my chin off the floor after having read "To Save Our Economy, Ditch Taiwan" in today's NYTimes

Disgusting.

## A Star Burns Out

Several years ago, I was driving down the road when a song came on the radio. Wow! I thought, who is this? I tried to remember enough of the lyrics to Google it when I got home. This was it:

I think she had real talent, something pretty rare these days in a music industry dominated by looks and auto-tune. I was pleased to read that Roger Simon agrees with me.

Sadly, Amy Winehouse died yesterday. She was 27. RIP.

## The Heat Was Hot

We often get vegetables from neighbors. They have gardens and can't eat all of the tomatoes, peppers, etc. themselves. This year though, a neighbor has planted a specific variety of pepper just for us. The Bhut Jolokia, one of the world's very hottest.

In 2000, India's Defence Research Laboratory (DRL) reported a rating of 855,000 heat units (SHU) on the Scoville scale,[8] and in 2004 a rating of 1,041,427 units was made using HPLC analysis.[22] For comparison, Tabasco red pepper sauce rates at 2,500–5,000,

The first one, pictured here, was picked a bit green:

Kind of fun! I'm interested in seeing just how hot these things are. But really, what is one supposed to do with them? Can we cook with them? I'm afraid just one would overpower a pot of just about anything.

## It's Simple Physics

How can a baby, born in the northern hemisphere, have a spiral of hair that goes clockwise?

It's simple, really. Babies develop head-down in the womb!

## New Restaurant Up The Street

Serving the best in Asian and Engrish cuisine. I think I'll pass.

## Face of Milwaukee

John McCullough was an icon of local TV news - JSOnline

Good bye John McCollough. Milwaukee's anchorman is gone.

## Mark Steyn

Mark Steyn - National Review Online

For some time now, I've found Mark Steyn tiresome. He tries too hard to be funny, and misses way more often than he hits. He is a good analyst and would be better off with fewer of the strained attempts at jokes and more straight-line writing.

## Non sequitur

EU guilty of "wilful neglect" as UN says 10,000s have died in Somalia's famine - Telegraph
In two regions of the war-torn country, largely off-limits to international aid workers, technical criteria had now been met to officially declare famine, said Mark Bowden, the head of the United Nations operation for Somalia.

The announcement came as Oxfam accused “several” European governments of “wilful neglect” in failing to fund the estimated £650m needed to save more than 11 million Somalis, Kenyans and Ethiopians from starvation.
So, the aid couldn't have gotten in anyway...but it's STILL YOUR FAULT!!

## Pay the piper instead

It’s Time To Kick Farmers Off The Federal Dole - Doug Bandow - The Politics of Plunder - Forbes
In a new paper for the American Enterprise Institute, Dr. Barry K. Goodwin at North Carolina State University observed: ”a large share of agricultural subsidies goes to a small segment of society that tends to be wealthier, less financially leveraged, and of higher income than the nonagricultural sectors of the aggregate economy. Moreover, farmers do not generally face more risk than business owners in other sectors, nor do farms fail more often than other forms of business. In fact, farm businesses rarely fail.”

In short, Uncle Sam is playing reverse Robin Hood.
I've long held that first-world agricultural subsidies (which make up the biggest chunk of the EU budget, for example) are not just economically stupid, but immoral. The best way for the poor of the world to make a little money is through farming, but they can't compete with government subsidized and protected farms of the first world. At $60 billion a year, this would be an easy cut from the budget. ## Train your eye on this Trains cost Wisconsin taxpayers millions - JSOnline There is so much wrong here! In the beginning I was drawn to the fact that it reads more, much more, like an editorial or an opinion piece than a news article, but in the end it was the barely named presence of Amtrak that got my attention. I think I got really riled up when the article mentioned that the state of Wisconsin was supposed to pony up the money for... While some of those figures could change, it appears the state eventually could spend$11.7 million on a temporary maintenance base, up to $60.1 million on a permanent maintenance base, up to$10.2 million on train shed upgrades at the downtown Amtrak-Greyhound station, $6.6 million on signal upgrades at the station and at least$10.4 million on new locomotives - all costs the federal government would have paid.
So, what exactly does Amtrak, you know, the business this is all subsidizing, pay for?

Apparently not for their own maintenance facilities and, shockingly, not their own TRAINS either! Why the &^%\$ does the state of Wisconsin have to buy the locomotives for the quasi-independent, quasi-federal business Amtrak? If WI buys them, does the state get to keep them? Can they put a big "Owned by the people of Wisconsin" sign on them? If WI puts up the money, does Amtrak pay leasing fees? Or is this a beneficent gift from the taxpayers of Wisconsin to the behemoth and boondoggle that is Amtrak?

But let's take this a step further. This is happening in Wisconsin; should we assume that it is also happening in the other 50 states? How may other states are buying Amtrak their trains, building their lines, and building their facilities? How much money are states pouring down into the black abyss of Amtrak? What does Amtrak actually do on its own, except run the system others have bought for them--essentially managing the passengers and employees (badly.) Why not outsource their contribution to a management company, and keep the trains and tracks in state hands? It would probably be much more efficiently run and cost a whole lot less.

Amtrak is perennially broke, to the tune of billions of dollars; this despite heavy federal subsidies. What I never have heard before--or noticed before--is that it also apparently relies heavily on state subsidies as well.

And that's not even getting into the whole freight rail versus passenger rail problem. (One is extremely efficient way of moving its load, the other isn't and makes the other less efficient by tying up their rail lines.)

## Safety first

“Paradoxically,” the psychologists write, “we posit that our fear of children being harmed by mostly harmless injuries may result in more fearful children and increased levels of psychopathology.”
From: Can a Playground Be Too Safe? - NYTimes.com

Is anyone really surprised by that?

## Bye Zahi!

This guys been driving me nuts for years. At least he does seem to have a real passion, but you do get the idea that he's a bit of a publicity hound and jumps in to take credit for everyone else's discoveries. 'Real Indiana Jones' sacked as keeper of Egypt's heritage - Telegraph
Social networking sites like Twitter were flooded with inevitable jokes, from "the Curse of the Mummy strikes" to comments such as "Zahi Hawass to no longer appear in every single TV special on Egypt". Some were simpler, saying, "Please take your hat with you."

Dr Hawass was popular among journalists, visitors and for a time Egyptians themselves for his flamboyant style and unchallenged commitment to promote Egypt's treasures and to use them to attract tourists.

## Online money making

Where is the money being made online? This list shows where google makes its money.

What Are The 20 Most Expensive Keyword Categories In Google AdWords? | TechCrunch

Biggest surprises: Apparently, lawyers aren't attorneys. And who knew "cord blood" was such a money maker. I thought that was pretty much bogus and outdated these days anyway.

## It starts with a startup

I've decided I'm posting too much to Facebook that could also be posted here. So, I downloaded a Firefox ap which will make it easier to do both.

This article points out the importance of small startups and the way the government has been acting to suppress their creation. The whole Bruce Bartlett theme is a bit dumb, but the core of the article is good.

A Decline In U.S. Startups Through the Eyes of Bruce Bartlett - John Tamny - Political Economy - Forbes
Though Reaganomics is 30 years old, Bartlett made a point that likely remains true today that “the largest proportion of important new inventions are still the result of individuals working virtually alone, rather than by big corporate laboratories.”

## We are all Stanley Johnson

This, of course, is the US federal government today.

We can barely pay our finance charges!

## Web Presence

Once in a while, I leave a comment on someone's blog. I've been doing this long enough that occasionally I will run across something I wrote some time ago but don't remember well:

Burning fossil fuels has increased the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere in a measurable way. By itself, this would lead to increased temperatures through the greenhouse effect. Unless other human activities or natural negative feedbacks have fully offset the effect, the bottom line is that the Earth is warmer now than it would have been otherwise. Increased CO2 is evidence of AGW. Sure, let’s discuss the amount of AGW and its impact, but let’s not question the reality.

Suppose T(t) represents the temperature T of the Earth at t years in the future. Suppose we have no way of accurately modeling or predicting T in future times; it may be warmer, it may be colder, suppose we just don’t and can’t know. That doesn’t preclude science from predicting that with increasing CO2, future temperatures will be something like T(t)+C(t), where C is some positive function of time. It is not necessary to have a fully working accurate predictive model of the Earth’s temperature in order to be able to predict that increased CO2 will mean an increase in temperature above what it would otherwise be.

It's often strange reading these comments. I wonder to myself "did I really write that?"

## Atlanta burns again

A massive cheating scandal is rocking the Atlanta school district. A widespread and systematic effort to cheat on standardized tests has been uncovered. It included teachers, principals, staff, and superintendents. In some cases, they literally erased the kids' answers and replaced them with the correct ones.
Teachers and principals erased and corrected mistakes on students’ answer sheets.

Area superintendents silenced whistle-blowers and rewarded subordinates who met academic goals by any means possible.

Superintendent Beverly Hall and her top aides ignored, buried, destroyed or altered complaints about misconduct, claimed ignorance of wrongdoing and accused naysayers of failing to believe in poor children’s ability to learn.

For years — as long as a decade — this was how the Atlanta school district produced gains on state curriculum tests. The scores soared so dramatically they brought national acclaim to Hall and the district, according to an investigative report released Tuesday by Gov. Nathan Deal.

You can see the gains in this chart I posted several months ago, where Georgia raised its scores on the national test NEAP dramatically:

Click to embiggen.

It should also be noted that Georgian schools s*^%! If you line up all the states according to their various NEAP scores, Georgia would come in between 33 and 40 just about every time. They do a little better with English Language learners, where they rank around 20, even breaking into the second quintile with a rank of 17 for 4th grade math proficiency.

They s(%& even with the cheating scandal. Atlanta makes up just better than 4% of the population of Georgia. If the scores from the APS system are bogus, that means Georgia did even worse than everyone thought.

## Efficiency

What a simple way of saying it:
Professor Epstein characterizes Obama’s economics as “primitive” and explains: “First, it is not possible to gain more money for the public treasury by taxing heavily those practices that are efficient for a firm. Putting a special tax on corporate jets will cut corporate profits, leaving nary a dime to fund the worthy causes that the president promotes.
Efficiency is the hidden driver that government seems to want most to ignore. Renewable energy sources are less efficient; government doesn't care. Overwhelming pro-union and other work rules (such as mandated paternity leave) make companies less efficient; government doesn't care. Picking winners and losers by bailing out, waivering, or taxing some and not others, reduces efficiency; government doesn't care. Arcane and overly-complex tax law reduces efficiency; government doesn't care.

Every time government doesn't care about efficiency, it pushes down on the economic brake pedal.

## Minnesotan Tragedy

Mussette Wade, 37, hoped to buy Minnesota Lottery tickets at a Minneapolis gas station. But the state shutdown prevented her from doing that. "I usually buy scratch-offs once a week when I get paid," she said. "It's just something I leisurely do."

## Learning to Spell

Can you spell "STOP"?

Wow! Very good, sweetie. Can you do it again?

Nice! How about "MAP"?

Daddy is as proud as she is.