Neighbor backed up her Tahoe into my parked car.

Good grief!

Death of a Union

The union of graduate teaching assistants at the University of Wisconsin seems to be collapsing. Essentially, it won't be able to raise enough cash without automatic deductions from paychecks. It's notable in particular because it is the grand-daddy of all such student unions.

There was a strong unionization effort at the University of Minnesota when I was a graduate student there. I was not a supporter. Indeed, I thought the deal that Minnesota gave me was great, and I felt more grateful than exploited. In return for about 10 hours per week of work as at teaching assistant, I got all my tuition paid for, plus plenty of money to live on. I had a nice apartment, a car, food money, and beer money. In addition, I had pretty good health care coverage. What more could a graduate student ask?

The fact is that the science and math departments have money to support their graduate students. This is because of the research money that flows in and the huge introductory undergraduate classes that bring in tuition money. The humanities are much more cash-strapped, and the pay and benefits to graduate students in those departments was not as good. Much of the debate during the unionization effort was between the two groups of students, with humanities graduate students and union leaders advocating for "equality" in these wages across departments. The vote split down these lines, with science and math strongly voting "no" and humanities "yes"... the union movement failed.

Really, if you want to get a PhD in French poetry, best of luck to you. But don't expect me to chip in to fund your folly.

Smiles Coming Soon

Our new baby, six weeks old or so:

She's giving hints of smiles now. I'm very much looking forward to her smiles.

Perry's Transcript

Wow. Rick Perry announces he's running for president... and a few hours later his college transcript is leaked.

His grades were mediocre at best, I'd say. Though in fairness he took some tough courses. Organic Chemistry! I'd bet real money that President Obama never tried that.

Our lack of knowledge about President Obama's past is simply bizarre, no?

By the way, this is our 1001-st post on this blog.

US apologises for diplomat

US apologises for diplomat
The United States has apologised for controversial remarks made by a US diplomat who spoke of "dark and dirty" Indians, calling the comments "inappropriate".

US Vice-Consul Maureen Chao told Indian students on Friday that her "skin became dirty and dark like the Tamilians" after a long train journey, according to Indian media -- referring to people from the southern state of Tamil Nadu.
Oh, dear lord.


Why do we go through this Iowa charade every four years? Ames straw poll results:

  1. Bachmann 4,823 (28.5%)
  2. Paul 4,671 (27.6%)
  3. Pawlenty 2,293
  4. Santorum 1,657
  5. Cain 1,456
  6. Perry 718 (write-in)
  7. Romney 567

It seems there is some joke-of-a-result out of Iowa every cycle. Remember Gephardt's big showing? Pat Robertson's? Yeesh. It's not so much Bachmann's win, but Ron Paul at #2 and Romney at #7 that show just how absurd this result is.

Understanding Economics

A quick point:

Tea Party Understands Economics Better Than Obama Or Bill Maher - Forbes
Since the Nobel Prize in economics was established [in 1968], seven Nobel Prizes have been awarded to economists who cast serious doubt on Keynesian economics. Not one Nobel Prize has been awarded to an economist who advanced the Keynesian agenda. New York Times liberal columnist, Paul Krugman, won his Nobel Prize for trade theory, not for macroeconomics.
And Sweden isn't exactly the bastion of supply-side economics, you know.

Dear California

Dear California: I’m Leaving You. Here’s Why…Erica Douglass

Yep, that's about the size of it.

We're All Going to Hell

Seems Like a Good Deal

Strange real estate things happening in my home town?

Found on


Debate tonight in Iowa!

Why bother? Am I alone in thinking that Romney is, essentially by default, the only reasonable candidate here? Aren't all of the others nut jobs or otherwise broken? And another thing, I am tired of hearing how Obama is vulnerable because of the latest approval rating poll. News flash: There has to be someone reasonable running against him.

The candidate I would prefer to see wasn't even invited.

Stay a child forever

Reform Wins in Wisconsin

I am really sick of the infantilization of adults and the treating of full-grown adults as nothing but adolescents. You see it when an 17, 18, or even a 19 year old is referred to as a child. This usually happens when they are a victims, either a real victim (a "child" was robbed and brutally beaten) or a victim in the minds of some (a "child" was arrested for a brutal robbery and beating.) The most recent major outbreak was the horrific shooting spree in Norway, where teens at a youth retreat were referred to as children. Here is a partial list of the ages of the victims (the English-language press stopped covering this before the final list was out): 14, 14, 15, 15, 15, 15, 16, 16, 16, 17, 17, 17, 17, 17, 17, 17, 17, 18, 18, 18, 18, 18, 18, 18, 19, 19, 19, 19, 19, 20, 21, 21, 23, 25, 26, 28, 30, 30, 43, 45, 51. Reports also mention at least one 10 year old was on the island, and survived. Incredibly tragic and horrific, but the media's constant use of the word "children" and even "youths" in this context was a stretch--when talking about political youth groups, it often does mean older teens and young adults.

I have no doubt that the media treat teens and young adults this way to boost ratings, a story about a massacre of "children" is more riveting than one of teens and young adults.

So, what does this have to do with my link above? This was the straw that got me ranting:
On Tuesday, voters delivered another verdict, favoring Republicans in four of six state senate recall elections and keeping the GOP in the majority....Randy Hopper lost after he left his wife to take up with a barely-legal Republican aide.
Randy, indeed, but since when is 25 "barely legal?" In the context of consensual sex in Wisconsin 18-year-olds are "legal". That means this young woman has been "barely legal" for 7 years, or more than a fourth of her life. Yes, the man is a cad, but he isn't a child molester, as the author slyly insinuates. It was a relationship between two fully consenting adults.

Much of what is wrong with our society today is the refusal to insist that young adults act as adults, not as spoiled teenagers. We should pull back and call young adults "adults". It's a real tragedy that the only part of our society that does, is the criminal justice system. Maybe that's not a coincidence.

California keeps piling on

The PJ Tatler » Ever wonder why California is so broke?

One of the problems with government at all levels is that they will see a problem, get worked up over finding a new solution, and create a new bureaucracy to deal with it. Never does it cross the politicians little mind that there is already an agency tasked with the same or similar goals, and that a small tweak to their charter is all that is needed. It's always a call for new and for more.

Unions lose big in WI

Unions lose big in Wisconsin | Campaign 2012
In the end, the union-backed Democrats picked up only two state Senate seats in Wisconsin last night, at a staggering cost in time, effort, and of course money. One of the seats was solidly Democratic, held by a Republican due to an apparent fluke of nature. The other was held by an alleged adulterer who had moved outside his district to live with his young mistress, and whose wife was supporting his recall.
I was biting my nails last night. It came down to the Darling race in my parents' district. She was behind at first, because Milwaukee reported before the suburbs and came in heavily for the Dem. But as I started looking at the numbers, and projecting each community forward, even with 12 of 51 districts still out for Milwaukee, Darling had a lead that looked to hold. When the bulk of Milwaukee poured in, it was done. In the end, she won by over 5,000 votes--not even close--not even the absentee votes can make up that difference--and not even within the cheating margin. (Remember, as Hugh Hewitt says: "If it's not close, they can't cheat!")

Quote of the Day

The PJ Tatler » Quote of the Day
‘[W]hen the President says “My Singular Focus” Is on Jobs.., that is best understood to read “My focus is on a singular job*”.’

– Stacy McCain

Wisconsin survives

Republicans hold off Dems in recalls, win enough seats to keep majority in Senate
"The revolution has not occurred," said UW-Milwaukee political science professor Mordecai Lee, a former Democratic lawmaker. "The proletariat did not take over the streets."
What an idiotic statement. Proletariat? Who do you think cast all of those votes? Government unions are hardly the "proletariat", but are a privileged class.

Shut the F--- up!

After Osama was killed, a massive amount of information about the operation was given to the press. Some of it was leaked and some of it was given freely. Throughout it all, and when hearing any story spilling details, I kept wanting to scream: Shut the f--- up!

Much of the info, I suspect was coming out of the White House, who were clearly crowing over the operation. They should have known better.

Some of it was coming from military and intelligence sources, who really should have known better.

The more detailed the information, the more dangerous the leakers were making it for the brave men who carried out the operation. Did the country have to know it was "Seal Team 6"? Did we have to see media packages about the team, their training, where they were trained, and almost their names, faces, birthdays, and social security numbers?

Someone right at the beginning needed to stand up and clearly state that, to protect the men who carried out this mission, little to no information would be released. Make it clear this was being done to protect the men who had so ably carried out this mission. Give each member of the team a Medal of Honor that they could keep in a drawer. Believe me, they, more than anyone, would have understood the reason behind the lack of public recognition.

Instead, we got way too much information, and a few months later a helicopter carrying that same team goes down, and 20 members of the team are dead. There is a fairly high chance that the helo was shot down by the Taliban, that they had intelligence from within our Afghan allies of who was on the copter and where to find it, and that the Taliban were very intentionally trying to get revenge by turning Seal Team 6 into a bloodbath.

If people in the loop of information about Osama's death had just shut the f--- up, those amazing, brave, and talented men might be alive today.

Loose lips sink ships and bring down helicopters too.

Whose House Is This?

Answer here.

Update: Ann Says: Wow!

New Outfit

Thanks Grandma!

Employment numbers

If it's the first Friday of the month...

What is there to say about today's employment numbers (which is more telling, in my opinion, that the unemployment rate):

1) The two surveys diverged slightly this month. The Employer survey (ES) (+117,000) showed improvement, the Household survey (HS) (-38,000) did not.

2) According to the HS, there are fewer jobs today than there were in: Jan-Jun of this year (in fact we are down 483,000 from May's high). There are also fewer jobs today than in: Sep 2010, Apr & May 2010, and any time between July 2004 and Aug 2009. That's right, there are the same number of jobs in the US as there were seven years ago.

3) The number of people "not in the labor force" has increased dramatically:
July 2010: 84,262
March 2011: 85,594
April 2011: 85,725
May 2011: 85,620
June 2011: 86,069 +449
July 2011: 86,443 +374K

Increase in people "not in the labor force" in the last two months: 823K--or, pushing 1 million people who've given up. And 2.181 million have given up in the last year.

4) The slope of the line on the ES is actually looking a little encouraging, though we have to wait for the revision. The final numbers came in for May this month, and they were revised down a small amount: 16K from their original release. So, it is possible that this incline might actually hold. We'll have to wait for next month to see, and we'll have to wait to see if the HS shows a similar improvement--so far, it doesn't.

Despite the improvement in the ES, the overall outlook continues to look grim.

Climate - USA

I've been having a little fun with climate data. Mr Motl has been posting some basic analyses of data released as HadCRUT3. I've done something similar, but focused on the United States. Here is a graph of mean temperature by month and year:

There really seems to be very little trend there to me. Maybe 1/2 of a degree in the past century or so. Nothing to get hot under the collar about?

What is interesting to me is that the summer months seem much less volatile year to year than the winter months. Why would that be? I don't know.

I've been coding in Matlab, which is my wont. I have used the code I posted a little over a year ago. I think it works very well.

Note that the data set I am using is one upon which the IPCC is based, and was produced by the Hadley / Met Office. They are the "climate-gate" folks, as I recall.

Ann says: if I had to guess about the greater variability in winter, I would guess it had something to do with the pacific oscillations and el nino events. Warming and cooling cycles in the oceans might change winter weather more than summer.

Bubble bubble...

This article: "n+1: Bad Education" has been cued up in my tabs for months, and I finally read it. Nothing new for those who have followed the higher education bubble problems, but it also goes into some depth about the system of student loans and the securities and systems that underwrite them.