Whopper king

Obama's "Balanced" Approach - Thomas Sowell
Barack Obama's political genius is his ability to say things that will sound good to people who have not followed the issues in any detail -- regardless of how obviously fraudulent what he says may be to those who have. Shameless effrontery can be a huge political asset, especially if uninformed voters outnumber those who are informed.


Liberalism: A Luxury We Can’t Afford -- John Hinderaker:
"Liberalism is a sort of parasite that feeds on the wealth that free enterprise creates. Liberalism exists for two reasons: 1) to stuff the pocketbooks of those who have learned to live at the taxpayers’ expense, and 2) to feed the moral vanity of those who can’t resist meddling in other peoples’ lives."

Power vs knowledge

Command v. Choice, Part I: by Greg Forster

Definitely worth a read.

A little perspective

The president wants a debt limit increase big enough to last through the 2012 election, while the Republicans only want to give him $1,000,000,000,000 ($1T) worth, which will only last for about 6 months...

...Think about that for a minute....

We will be spending so much money that we will need to borrow one trillion dollars, in addition to tax revenues, just to get us through 6 months.

The amount of debt that we accrued during Bush 43 was $2.14 trillion. That is over 8 years, or 16 six-month periods, for an average of: $133 Billion added debt every six months.

Now comes Obama and Pelosi and Ried, and where are we? The same $1 trillion dollar increase which would have lasted us 7 1/2 times as long before OPR, now will only get us through half a year.


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.

Emerson on Austen

Not mincing words...

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.


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."