Monday, June 30, 2008

Solar Power is the Solution to our Energy Problems

...except at night and except when you want to preserve the environment.

In Switzerland, they have a lovely solar power generation station on Mount Soleil. Here's what it looks like.

Here's the story.
The 110 silicon panels, standing in a field on a hilltop, have a total area of about 4,500 square meters (nearly 50,000 square feet). They are tilted at the best angle to catch the winter sun. The plant, which produces nearly 600,000 KWh annually, is one of the biggest in Europe.
Using 2003 data, San Diego consumes 18,397 GWh of electricity per year. Note the unit differences. Consumption is in Gigawatt hours and production is in Kilowatt hours. If you used solar power to supply San Diego, you would need about 55 square miles of these panels, not accounting for the power lost in transmission lines or in the motors needed to track the sun.

Of course, San Diego would only be able to use the power during the day. At night, you'd be hosed. If you wanted to replace Southern California Edison, too, you're looking at covering another 245 square miles. Throw in the other Southern California electricity giant, Pacific Gas and Electric and you add 240 square miles of solar panels. That comes out to be around 540 square miles covered in solar panels, not including the roads needed to install and service the units nor the losses mentioned before. I imagine the costs of installing 540 square miles of solar cells in the middle of the desert would be trivial, right? I mean, how hard is it to get tens of thousands of workers and their equipment out to a piece of flat land? Criminy, if the Egyptians could do it, so can we!

Sounds like a plan! Alternative energy - yes, we can!

Expect the Dollar to Drop Again

...because Europe is raising their interest rates in response to inflation.
BRUSSELS -- Yearly inflation in euro-zone countries hit a record 4% in June, the EU statistics agency Eurostat said Monday.

Soaring prices for fuel and food are raising pressure on the European Central Bank to raise interest rates for the first time in a year when it meets this week...

ECB officials have signaled they may hike borrowing costs from 4% to 4.25% to try to cool prices. This would be the first time they have shifted the rate since June 2007 despite major cuts from the U.S. Federal Reserve and the Bank of England, who moved to encourage reluctant banks to lend in the wake of a credit market crisis...

The European economy appears to be slowing sharply after a brief boom...

Oil prices have quadrupled in the last seven years, hitting Europeans hard because they also pay heavy taxes on fuel that can cost them some €80 ($126) to fill up a tank of a passenger car.
In Europe they pay over $125 for a tank of gas. Ouch!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Cheezburger of the Day

It may seem like a good idea at first, what with getting your pantry organized, but I urge you to think about the long term consequences...

more cat pictures

Barack Obama is a Muslim

...has got to be one of the stupidest things out there on the Internet today. Even worse is the hysteria about it. Does anyone think that the Neanderthals who believe that garbage would vote for Obama if they discovered that he wasn't a Muslim? That's like thinking that the twits who think that McCain wants 100 years of war would suddenly switch to vote for him if they discovered what he had really said.

This is all hysteria manufactured by the Obama campaign and amplified wildly by a willing press.

StoptheACLU has a post about the Washington Post's Matthew Mosk continuing the meme and going after Free Republic. So, Matt, is it a slow news day or is this just another tongue bath for Barack?

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Obama's Safety Net - The Press

I was going to post something on this topic, but Charles Krauthammer did such a great job that I think I'll just link and excerpt. You can read the whole thing if you want.
Normally, flip-flopping presidential candidates have to worry about the press. Not Obama. After all, this is a press corps that heard his grandiloquent Philadelphia speech -- designed to rationalize why "I can no more disown [Jeremiah Wright] than I can disown my white grandmother" -- then wiped away a tear and hailed him as the second coming of Abraham Lincoln. Three months later, with Wright disowned, grandma embraced and the great "race speech" now inoperative, not a word of reconsideration is heard from his media acolytes.

Worry about the press? His FISA flip-flop elicited a few grumbles from lefty bloggers, but hardly a murmur from the mainstream press. Remember his pledge to stick to public financing? Now flush with cash, he is the first general-election candidate since Watergate to opt out. Some goo-goo clean-government types chided him, but the mainstream editorialists who for years had been railing against private financing as hopelessly corrupt and corrupting evinced only the mildest of disappointment.

Indeed, the New York Times expressed a sympathetic understanding of Obama's about-face by buying his preposterous claim that it was a preemptive attack on McCain's 527 independent expenditure groups -- notwithstanding the fact that (a) as Politico's Jonathan Martin notes, "there are no serious anti-Obama 527s in existence nor are there any immediate plans to create such a group" and (b) the only independent ad of any consequence now running in the entire country is an co-production savaging McCain.

The Heller Decision and Prudery

Don Surber has a great post this morning pointing out that under the DC gun ban, murders tripled in the last 30 or so years.
Question: Did the murder rate really triple under the Washington, DC, gun ban?

Answer: Yes. The murder rate was 26.8 homicides per 100,000 people in 1976, when the ban became law. That would be its lowest rate for the next 30 years. It peaked at 80.6 homicides per 100,000 people in 1991.
He goes on to wonder why various high-profile columnists are ignoring this fact as they tut-tut about the Supreme Court's Heller decision. He suggests that these columnists are ignorant.
These are not ignorant men, they just do not know the facts about DC’s murders. The murders are not committed by the lawful exercise of one’s right to keep and bear arms but rather by a city policy that disarms the people and leaves them vulnerable to the very thugs that King complained about.
Close, but no cigar.

The years between 1976 and 2008 are the rise of the first generation where marriage had been abandoned by the biological parents. The destruction of the family correlates with murder and all other social pathologies. You can have all the guns you want (or not), if you don't have intact, married, stable, nuclear families, civilization gets washed away.

The reason the columnists all cling to the notion that gun laws will solve the problem is that they don't want to come out against popular culture. They don't want to be prudes.

Columnist E. J. Dionne of the Washington Post.


Um, I think we found the reason E. J. is in favor of the gun ban. It's easy for E. J. to rail against conservatives. It's another thing entirely for him to attack Beyonce and Destiny's Child and Hollywood and ...

On Moving in to a new Place

I moved recently and am still working on finding a place for everything. When I moved, I dropped about 40% of my square footage, so I have much less room for my stuff. That's OK, because I've needed to cull my belongings and I'm donating a lot to the local thrift stores. In fact, they're even getting some of their old stuff back!

Moving all your stuff is not the same as putting it away. With less space, it's kind of like one of those tile puzzle games because once you decide where something needs to go, you have to clear out the stuff that is there right now, but that means you have to find a place for that stuff, a place that's occupied by something else...

This would work a whole lot better if I just donated a few tiles to the thrift store.

Image used without permission from Zona Land.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Mexicans and Machines

Someone in the press needs to get to Drew Carey and silence him. He's speaking out against the Obamamessiah!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Blogging Will Be Light Today

...because I spent the morning trying to record a screencast for work. I'm using utipu to record and host my screencasts. It's a really powerful tool (and it's free!) that allows you to record what's going on with your computer screen. Which is why they call it a screencast. I mean, you're not really putting your screen in a cast nor are you doing a casting call for someone to play your screen in a movie...

I seem to have gotten off track.

Anyway, I have discovered all kinds of things about recording. Like you need a script and everything. If you don't have one, you fill up the time with umms and uhhs. That's not good. I'd also like a microphone stand. It's hard to hold the mike with one and and type with other.

OK, I'm done complaining. I'll be back to blogging later.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008 and Villa Musica

A friend of mine just turned me on to the very useful where his son and his classical guitar group post images and audio. Here's one of their performances that I particularly liked. Enjoy. simple private sharing

Also, I'd be interested if any of you have been using Amazon's Jungle Disk. It looks way cool.

All About the Wii Shortage

I've been in the market for a Wii ever since school let out. We haven't had a new game system in a while and I wanted one that the whole family could play. I'm not looking for blood and guts games, just wacky, fun ones. When I went out to find what I thought should be an easy-to-find commodity, fully 2 years after it's introduction, I discovered that no one has them. Best Buy, WalMart, Game Stop, Target, Toys R Us, all of them are just getting a trickle of the things. They sell out the day they get a new shipment.

So what happened? How can Nintendo be so far behind in production so long after the introduction of the system? The answer is that they're not behind in production, it's that the fallen dollar has removed most of the profit from selling Wiis in the US.
(T)he analyst, Michael Pachter at Wedbush Morgan, said the real culprit for the Wii shortage in the U.S. is the weak dollar...

With a weak dollar, foreign companies that sell their goods in the U.S. for dollars and then convert those dollars to their native currencies get a smaller profit than if they sell their products in countries with strong currencies of their own (such as Europe with the euro). In other words, Nintendo makes a bigger profit on Wiis sold in Europe than on Wiis sold in the U.S.

So Nintendo, Mr. Pachter said, has been behaving perfectly rationally by sending excess Wii consoles to Europe to satisfy the more profitable consumers there.
Ouch. I discovered I can buy Wiis online if I am willing to pay a $65 premium. I might just do that in the end. In the meantime, we're still unpacking and we haven't yet had the time to play it anyway.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Sam Anderson is not in the Tank for Barack Obama

Certainly not. It's perfectly normal to compare a speech that hasn't even been given yet to Winston Churchill speaking in tongues.
Barack Obama’s upcoming speech at the Democratic National Convention is—barring the miraculous reanimation of Winston Churchill’s recite the Sermon on the Mount in twelve different languages—pretty much a lock to be the rhetorical blockbuster event of the summer. The speech offers, among many other hooks, a tidy dramatic symmetry. Obama first stepped out of the political phone booth on this occasion four years ago...In ten minutes, America watched him rip off the rumpled suit of anonymous, mild-mannered state-senatorhood and squeeze into the gaudy cape and tights of our national oratorical superhero—a honey-tongued Frankenfusion of Lincoln, Gandhi, Cicero, Jesus, and all our most cherished national acronyms (MLK, JFK, RFK, FDR)...Obama has since managed to justify much of the hype.
I think Sam needs to take a cold shower. Barack's last blockbuster rhetorical oration, the phantasmagorical Philadelphia Speech on Race, was compared to Lincoln, Cicero and Shakespeare. It was the greatest combination of phonemes since...since...since...well, ever.

The fact that it was a mere six weeks until the whole thing turned out to be a bag of gaseous nonsense caused only momentary pain for his adoring minions in the press. Thank goodness for gay marriage here in California, otherwise panting teenyboppers like Sam Anderson would slit their wrists in total despair. Thanks to the California Supreme Court, at least they now have hope.

Bloviate? Yes, we can!

H/T: IMAO and the DIY Obama Poster Maker.

Pure Innocence

How can anyone believe me when I say that this divine little creature woke me up at 3:45AM?

Maybe It Causes Too Much Laughing

Seen in the recall notices at a local WalMart...

The Laugh and Learn causes choking? Not much laughter in that, is there? On the other hand, maybe there was too much laughing.


Monday, June 23, 2008

Why I am Voting for Barack Obama*

...because North Korea's Dear Leader, the one and only Kim Jung Il, has endorsed him.
The Chosun Sinbo, the mouthpiece of North Korea’s Japanese front organization Chongryon and often for the North Korean regime itself, has announced its preference for Obama over McCain...
We will see a better relationship between the U.S. and the Korean Peninsula with Obama, who sternly criticizes Bush and who would meet the leader of Chosun without pre-conditions, than with the “Bush clone” and scarecrow of the neocons McCain.
Fellow Messiah figure Kim Jung Il sees a natural brotherhood with Barack Obama.

* - I am not actually voting for Barack Obama.

The Real Get Smart

In honor of the new Get Smart film that came out last weekend, here's a great clip from the original.

Tim has Been Attacked by a Giant Beetle!

Or at least it seems like that in one of his photos. The thing practically gnawed his arm hand finger off. You'll see what I mean.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Oil Platforms and Artificial Reefs

Our Grand Inquisitor has the full story. Check it out. The video alone is worth the visit.

I'm a Peach

Thanks to our Official Artist, we get to see all kinds of funky new quizzes every week. I'm playing as often as I can. How about you?

You Are a Peach Jelly Bean

You have a distinct style that you don't really have to work for. You're genuinely quirky, and people love your understated charm.

On Nikons, Canons and Royalty-free Photos

Tired of surfing the net for photos to embed on the blog, I've decided to start my own personal collection of photos that I can use in my posts. I'll start right after I by myself a new camera. At the urging of the helpful and generous advice from our Official Artist and our Missionary to the Frozen, Northern Wastelands, I went down to Best Buy yesterday to handle both the Canon Rebel and the Nikon equivalent. I found that I liked the Nikon a little bit better. It was heavier and the lens movement seemed sturdier. As soon as I get one, I'll start snapping some photos to share.

Barack is Projecting

I think that Barack Obama is doing just a teeny bit of projection of himself on John McCain and the Republicans.
JACKSONVILLE, Florida (Reuters) - Democratic presidential contender Barack Obama said on Friday he expects Republicans to highlight the fact that he is black as part of an effort to make voters afraid of him...

"They're going to try to make you afraid of me. He's young and inexperienced and he's got a funny name. And did I mention he's black?"
Barack's spiritual mentor for 20 years:

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Ikea Shopping Trip Report

I just got back from Ikea. I chose to buy a Benno over an Ektorp or Liatorp. I thought the Benno was just a whole lot more blargulous. The Malms were ruled out immediately. Too much glorakular anthusiam.

I'm sure you Ikea shoppers understand.

So how Come no one Thought to Call the Kids' Dads?

There's an Atlantic Monthly article by Hanna Rosin that is an absolute treasure trove of blog posts. It's all about how knocking down the projects and spreading the residents out into the suburbs has lowered crime in the cities, but increased it in the suburbs. It is so filled with data that restates the obvious that you practically have to poke your eyes out with sharp sticks not to see it.

And that, of course, is precisely what Hanna does. Here's a tidbit.

I visited Shaw (a woman who was moved from the projects to a new place in the suburbs) in February, about a year and a half after she’d moved in. The view outside her first-floor window was still pretty nice—no junk littered the front lawn and few apartments stood vacant. But slowly, she told me, Springdale Creek has started to feel less like a suburban paradise and more like Dixie Homes (the old projects). Neighborhood boys often kick open the gate or break the keypad. Many nights they just randomly press phone numbers until someone lets them in. The gate’s main use seems to be as a sort of low-thrills ride for younger kids whose parents aren’t paying attention...

When Shaw recounts all the bad things that have happened at Springdale Creek, she does it matter-of-factly... Car thefts were common at first—Shaw’s neighbor Laura Evans is one of about 10 victims in the past two years. Thieves have relieved the apartment management company of some of its computers, extra refrigerators, and spare stoves. A few Dixie boys—sons of one of Shaw’s friends—were suspected of breaking the windows in vacant apartments. Last year, somebody hit a pregnant woman in the head with a brick. In the summer, a neighborhood kid chased his girlfriend’s car, shooting at her as she drove toward the gate; the cops, who are called in regularly for one reason or another, collected the spent shells on the grass.
Well, with all those problematical boys, how come no one thought to call their dads and get some discipline and respect for others instilled in them? I mean the dads are around, aren't they?

The whole thing has the standard pack of overpaid academics mystified.
If replacing housing projects with vouchers had achieved its main goal—infusing the poor with middle-class habits—then higher crime rates might be a price worth paying. But today, social scientists looking back on the whole grand experiment are apt to use words like baffling and disappointing.
I don't know, how about using words like totally predictable and well, duhhh.

I've got to run and do some more unpacking and organizing in my new house. In the meantime, take a gander at the article. It has some embedded video, shot extraordinarily poorly and with dialog that is meandering and unfocused. I guess the money they pay the academics to do these studies doesn't cover professionally presenting their ideas.

In any case, the thing is just filled with forehead-smacking stories that makes you want to grab Hanna by the collar and shake her until her synapses connect correctly.


Update: Classical Values thinks the real problem is that drugs like crack, methamphetamines, and heroin aren't legal. Sigh.

Update 2: The total destruction of the libertarian viewpoint is seen in the young boys trying to break into the gated compound. Illegal drugs have nothing to do with it. The boys have no authority figures in their lives because the men in the community are not held to account for their children. That, in turn, derives from the total breakdown of societal moral standards. The boys grow up with no forceful, male guidance until they meet a police officer. The policeman has but one tool - the arrest. Hence, the prisons are full.

For more on the topic, see Rachel Lucas' outstanding piece on the high school girls who made a pact to get pregnant. The libertarian point of view takes a beating there, too.

China Reduces Gas Subsidies, Protests on the Way

As noted by our Missionary to the Frozen, Northern Wastelands in a comment yesterday, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) is reporting that China is increasing the price of gas.
The government, which controls domestic fuel prices, raised its base price for gasoline by 17% and diesel by 18%, a move that global oil traders quickly concluded could diminish the country's voracious appetite for fuel.
Even the Chicoms can't escape the laws of economics.
In addition to international pressure, Beijing faces domestic concerns. Its gasoline and diesel refiners' profits were being squeezed by the high prices of the purchases and low government-set prices of their sales. Lack of domestic refining even made China a net importer of gasoline last month, for the first time on record. Similarly, power plants' losses have been mounting as they burn coal bought at market prices to sell electricity at a low state-set price, which also is being raised. Power shortages have been spreading, and more production would help prevent the possibility of blackouts during the summer, including when Beijing hosts the Olympics in August.
Emphasis mine. Fixing prices causes shortages. Of course, the rising prices will cause riots from the consumers who are just as economically ignorant there as they are here.
(T)ensions also will be on the agenda when Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping attends this weekend's summit of oil producers and consumers in Saudi Arabia.

With the country facing more than 8% inflation, officials seem unwilling to expose Chinese consumers to the full brunt of global oil-price swings. There is deep concern over social stability
When demand rises and supply stays the same, the price goes up. The solution? Why, rioting and protests, of course!
At least 36 people have been killed in two days of violent clashes between protesters and police across Yemen, police and witnesses say.
Tanks have been deployed on the streets of the capital, Saana.

Deaths were also reported in a string of other towns. The unrest began after fuel subsidies were lifted on Tuesday, leading to dramatic price rises.

The government says it needs to reduce the budget deficit, but opponents say the rises hit poor people the hardest.
"Hit the poor the hardest" as an excuse for rioting and destruction. Hmm. That sounds like the New York Times and the Democrats, doesn't it?

You can see a slideshow of protest/riot images over the laws of supply and demand here.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Canadian Judge Overrules Dad

The great thing about gay marriage is that it provides a clear, concrete example of just how totally out of control things can get. Before anyone remarks that the story below is just an anomaly and won't spread, I'll borrow a thought I heard from Dennis Prager yesterday.

If you had suggested 20 years ago that several states in the US would be allowing men to marry each other, people would have thought you a reactionary crank. There was no way that could happen. However, as the old song says, these days, anything goes.

On with the story. A father decided to ground his daughter and keep her from an end-of-the-year field trip because she disobeyed him. She sued him and the court overturned his parental decision.
A father in Canada grounded his daughter from a school trip because she disobeyed his orders to stay off the Internet, but a court overturned the punishment.

According to Agence France-Presse, Justice Suzanne Tessier in Quebec Superior Court ordered the grounding for the 12-year-old girl lifted...

The father had ordered his daughter, who was not identified by the report, to remain off the Internet. She didn't, chatting on websites her father had tried to block and then posting "inappropriate" pictures of herself online using a friend's Internet portal.

As punishment, the father refused to let her go on a scheduled school trip, so the 12-year-old went to Canada's judicial system to get her way.
Fantastic. It's a brave, new world.

Bobby Jindal for VP

I just heard the Governor of Louisiana interviewed on the Michael Medved show. He is very impressive. As much fun as I think it would be to have Meg Whitman as McCain's VP, I will now switch allegiance and endorse Bobby Jindal instead. The guy sounds like the real deal.

The Free Market Helps the Environment

...this time. Living in San Diego for the past 30 or so years, I've seen the free market pave the place with tract homes so the free market is a mixed bag when it comes to the environment. Anyway, on with the story...

Today's Wall Street Journal (WSJ) describes how rising gas prices are curtailing driving and therefore, the emission of pollutants.
As gasoline prices continue climbing, demand has been heading in the opposite direction. So far this year, Americans have used less gasoline than they did in 2007, with demand since January dropping 1% from last year
It turns out that high gas prices have other, long-term beneficial effects.
During the energy crunch of the late 1970s and early 1980s -- the last time gas prices were close to current levels in inflation-adjusted terms -- consumers sharply cut back their gas consumption. When prices dropped, demand rose again, but at a slower pace because of the embrace of more-fuel-efficient foreign cars.
Those Cadillac Escalades won't be coming back any time soon. Here's the part that's silly.
But the steep run-up in oil prices and the prospect of them remaining high has prompted consumers, industry and lawmakers to make bigger, longer term changes that could reduce consumption for decades. Drivers are buying smaller cars, legislators are enforcing stricter rules on fuel efficiency, the market for alternative fuels is growing and people are shunning the far-flung suburbs to live closer to where they work.
And the reason I need a legislator to tell me I want a more fuel-efficient car is...what? Seriously. Why pass laws when the market is doing it anyway?

I'll bet these are on sale big time.

This hearkens back to the glory days of Gray Davis when California removed only part of its Byzantine subsidies and price controls for electricity. They allowed electricity generation to be priced by the market, but the consumers' prices were regulated. When generating electricity grew more expensive, we began to suffer blackouts as the utility companies couldn't pay their bills. The politicians were afraid to allow the market to set prices all around - prices which would have curtailed energy use just like the environmentalists want. It was ridiculous.

In this case, I would think that the economic forces at work here are vastly larger than anything the government can control. Of course, this won't prevent them from trying.

Mission Bay Sunset

We've had some great ones recently. I no longer live in a house where I can snap these photos from my master bedroom balcony, but so long as I notice in time, I can drive to a spot with an even better view.

Click on the image. I think you'll like it.

Slot Cat in the groove.

You can rate this lolcat here.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

On Religion and Government

Over at our Monastery of Miscellaneous Musings, there have been a few posts on the recent swarm of gays getting "married". There was a comment in this one that prompted a response. Here's that comment.
...I'd take much greater alarmed interest to this ever rising to the level of "constitutional ammendment timber", as that would be a clear injection of religion into the government framework...

As stated before: Government out of religion; Religion out of government.
Here's my response.

Laws are the codification of morality. That is, we have made murder illegal because we believe it is immoral. Without religion as a basis, from what do you derive your morality and from that your laws? Secular Germany has one answer.

Cheezburger of the Day

more cat pictures

Chinese Stock Market Down 50% in 2008

I was following a link in a story at the WSJ and found this.
The Shanghai Composite Index fell 192.24 points, or 6.54%, to close at 2748.87, a fresh 16-month low extending a weeks-long slide that has seen the index drop 20% this month and nearly 50% so far in 2008.

I haven't had the time to delve deeper, but I wonder what this portends for China, especially with rising oil prices and China's subsidies for domestic gasoline. It can't be good for them.

The World's Craziest Job

A friend sent this to me in an email and I thought I would share it with you. Wild.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Back Online

I finally had my Internets Tubes untied at home and can blog again. Having said that, I still need to recreate my old setup to be able to post like normal. I'm hoping to get back into the swing of things tomorrow or Friday. In the meantime, Protein Wisdom has an outstanding summary of Barack Obama's accomplishments. Here's a tidbit before you blast on over and read the whole thing.
From June 1985 to May 1988, Obama was a community organizer with the Developing Communities Project in Chicago, working primarily to organize a housing project called Altgeld Gardens. According to the Boston Globe:
For all its impact on Obama, Altgeld Gardens today seems far from the kind of success story politicians like to tout.

Dozens of buildings are boarded up, with fences surrounding much of the property. The roads are a potholed mess. Blinking lights illuminate a series of towers where police have mounted cameras.
That’s change you can believe in. Moreover, Hazel Johnson, who has lived at Altgeld Gardens since 1962 – and was an organizer long before Obama appeared on the scene – claims Obama has exaggerated his role in getting asbestos removed from the projects.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

24 Hours to go get my Internets tubes back. I'm dyin' out here! What's going on with the Internets these days? I have no idea at all. It's like being on a desert island. It's my own version of Lost.

I hate it.

Monday, June 16, 2008

I get my Internet Tubes on Wednesday

...and I can't wait. This blogging from borrowed workstations and other odds and ends is for the birds.

Sunday, June 15, 2008


Dig this. I wanted to do something like this with Petco for the Carnival of the Cats about 18 months ago, but they weren't into it.

Saturday, June 14, 2008


At Justin's recommendation, I'm planning on getting a Canon Rebel XT in the near future. With that in hand, I will be able to shoot all kinds of amazing pictures. I might just make a book out of them using Blurb. Check it out. While you're there, take a look at the sample books they've got on that site.


Thursday, June 12, 2008

When Economics is not Understood get riots over price increases.
Two lorry drivers have been killed in fuel protests in Spain and Portugal as the hauliers' strike continues.

One was killed in the Spanish city of Granada when he was run over by a van trying to drive through a picket line.

The other driver died after reportedly trying to stop a lorry at a barricade near Alcanena, north of the Portuguese capital Lisbon, on Tuesday.

Spaniards are stockpiling fuel and food as hauliers blockade major cities in protest at rising diesel prices.
Repeal the law of supply and demand! It's unjust!

Oh yes, and blame Bush!

Update: For a rational discussion of alternative energy, check this out.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Cheezburger of the Day

more cat pictures

Contemplating Regicide

We moved to a new place last week. Our Maximum Leader did not enjoy the move, but has adapted quickly to her new surroundings. She now wants out in the middle of the night, just like she did at the old place. It hasn't even been one week yet, much less the two to three they recommend cats stay in their new homes before being allowed outside.

Last night she woke me at 0230, 0330 and 0430. The previous night was the same. I need sleep. She needs out. If I don't let her outside very soon, I fear that one morning the police will find us both dead at the bottom of my stairs, her with her fangs in my throat and me with my hands around her neck.

We wouldn't want that.

"Surely you know that I shall get what I want in the end."

Too Many CTRL-Vs in the CAD Stage

...resulted in a few more sections of ship than the shipyard had expected. No more 3 martini lunches for the naval architects!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

I Love my new enV!

Apple just came out with the second version iPhone. I will not be buying one. Some of their verion 1 customers are unhappy.
(The author's colleague) was referring to what will happen today, June 9, when Apple officially announces and launches the 3G iPhone. 3G will provide a faster and more powerful signal, which means iPhone 2.0 could be a much better phone. It also means that hundreds of thousands of iPhone users may think about trading up. There's been no indication that Apple will offer a trade-in policy, however, so that means people will likely try and sell their first-gen iPhones. EBay could be flooded with listings, and my coworker could be out of luck.
I am not unhappy. I have my enV.

Oh enV, you make me so happy!

On Oil Prices, the Dollar and Interest Rates

The Puppy Blender turned us one to an outstanding post about the fall of the dollar.
Higher rates cause the dollar to strengthen, but they also inevitably slow down the economy. On the other hand, lower interest rates are positive for the economy, but often not for the dollar.

Now, our economy has been strong for over five years and the dollar has fallen, more or less continuously during this economic upturn. Coincidence? No.
Read the whole thing. It's simple and straightforward. Well, except for the "strong economy" part. That's probably confusing to Obama supporters. But then, almost everything is confusing to Obama supporters. See also: Petraeus, Gen. David.

Since oil prices are denominated in dollars, much of the rise in the price of oil is due to the weakness of the dollar which is, in turn, due to low interest rates. Now that you know this, I'm sure you'll take the proper steps. Blame Bush.

9 Days Without Internets Tubes at Home

I just moved. Time Warner Cable, my ISP, won't be able to hook me up until June 18. Until then, I'm tubeless! I wonder if I can survive...

Monday, June 09, 2008

A Clinic in Inscrutable Writing given by's news section in it's article on the state of the Lisbon Treaty.
The Lisbon Treaty is heading towards a shock defeat with the No side now in the lead, according to the findings of the latest Irish Times/TNS mrbi poll.

It will take an unprecedented swing in the last week of the campaign for the Treaty to be carried.

The poll shows the number of people intending to vote No has almost doubled to 35 per cent (up 17 points) since the last poll three weeks ago, while the number of the Yes side has declined to 30 per cent (down 5 points).
Nowhere in the article could I find any indication of just what the Lisbon Treaty was. Fantastic.

Thank Goodness the Democrats are in Charge of Congress!

...because I'm sure by now all that wasteful earmarked pork spending has stopped.
A new earmarking cycle begins this month as the House and Senate Appropriations committees reveal spending bills for the 2009 budget year that starts Oct. 1. The House committee alone has 23,438 earmark requests before it, so many that its Web site for accepting requests froze up and the deadline for receiving them had to be extended.
Err, maybe not.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

What's Wrong With This?

You narrow-minded prudes, loosen up. Be more like the open, honest Europeans.
A major German newspaper admits it ran a naked photo of a 13-year-old girl on its front page as part of a contest to find the country's "hottest summer girl."
Imagine the USA Today posting something like that. That would be OK, right? I mean, why not? In a nutshell, this is what's wrong with a secular society. With no fixed first principles (the Bible, the Koran, etc.) from which to derive morality, there is no reason why this isn't OK.

If I were a Moslem living in Europe, I would do exactly what they're doing - not assimilate and keep my own culture. All around me, a dying race thrashes about in an orgy of self-gratification that is totally at odds with my faith. You better believe I would keep to my own kind.

Friday, June 06, 2008

A Modest Proposal

...with apologies to Jonathan Swift.

Now that we have placed the polar bear under government protection due to global warming and now that global temperatures are dropping, I think we should pre-emptively place a tropical animal under governmental protection. I really don't care which one. Let's pick the lemur. Lemurs are very attractive little guys and no one wants to see them hurt.

With the government demanding that we do all we can to prevent warming and cooling simultaneously, I think we will all be able to agree on the one course of action that will ensure both.

You're welcome.

At Least no one Mentioned the M Word Washington, DC starts down the road towards a police state to deal with out of control violence.

The M Word? Oh, that word is Morality.

Quick Quiz

Q: What's better than moving?

A: Moving when you're coming down with a bad cold.

Moving with a cold. Yay!

Thursday, June 05, 2008

What's a Hamstertini?

Wannasmile has the answer.

Can Obama Win?

...and the question is not "Should Obama win?"

It all depends on the press. Obama's plans, should he actually carry them out if elected, are the worst possible ones you could choose for the nation. The nation is moving towards a time of significant financial change as the aging population moves us from a positive to negative cash flow. That is, we are at the tail end of the time when our taxpayer-to-benficiary ratio is sufficient to pay our beneficiaries out of tax receipts. Very soon, we will need to tap into savings to pay them, savings that we don't have.

Putting this at the personal level, if you knew ahead of time that you were about to retire and see your income cut substantially, would you take out a large home equity loan, something you would have to pay off far into the future? In essence, that is Obama's plan for domestic programs. His health care and education plans represent huge new obligations far into the future at a time when existing obligations are rising substantially.

So what does the press have to do with this? Well, for one thing, they don't seem to have wondered about any of this at all. I might have missed it, but the stories I read about him are all about the crowds, the speeches and the campaign. Even the normally sane David Broder seems to be more worried about the statistical breakdown of the votes than the empty wallet facing us.

Here in California and closer still in San Diego, we are in the middle of a huge financial crisis brought about by wild spending increases.

The press let the Democrats get away with this, too. Now that the crisis is upon us, the only thing they report on are the consequences of budget cuts, in particular, how teachers might have to be laid off. There is no accountability for the politicians who spent, spent, spent. Here's a good source for information on state and local debts.
It is well-known that the federal government is amassing large amounts of debt, but state and local governments are piling up debt as well. Figure 1 shows that total state and local debt was stable during the 1990s but soared from $1.19 trillion in 2000 to $1.85 trillion by 2005, an increase of 55 percent.
Anyone want to take bets on whether or not Barack Obama gets questioned about this?

Going back to the original question, I would suggest that if the general public knew about the size of our financial problems, Barack Obama would lose in a McGovern-sized landslide blowout. Informed, sane people don't go in for wild spending sprees when their debt load is increasing like this.

H/T: the chart above came from Dr. Housing Bubble. His post is worth reading if you want to know more about the California budget crisis.

Where did I Leave my Glasses?

Have any of you seen them?

The Realities of the Lost Tribe

I confess I did not know about the lost tribe of natives recently discovered on the Peru-Brazil border until I read about it in Mike Austin's excellent blog, The Return of Scipio. Mike, knowing quite a lot about the region and what it means to live there, had this to say about conditions for the tribe.
The members of that tribe live in a violent state of nature scarcely above that of animals. They represent an almost complete devolution, an absolute regress, from the beginnings of civilization as presented to us by the Sumerians 6000 years ago. Their degraded existence is one no man would choose, not even the most addled and deluded Greenpeace type. They live out their abbreviated lives among the bat, the serpent, the scorpion, the puma, the crocodile, the spider, the hornet and the mosquito. Their bodies are home to a host of worms and diseases.
He's got a lot more to say. Read the whole thing.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Obama as God

From his victory speech last night:
I am absolutely certain that, generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick and good jobs to the jobless, this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal…
...and then he touched the lame man and the lame man did rise and walk from his bed...

H/T: Secular Apostate.

On the Globalized Economy and Wealth

Today, the outstanding blog Carpe Diem points us to a cool online tool that tells you just where you rank on the planet in terms of wealth.
A single American living at the poverty level of $10,294 annual income (in 2006) would be in the top richest 13.25% people in the world.

An American worker earning the minimum wage of $6.55 (July 2008) would be in the top richest 12.64% people in the world.
The tool for doing these calculations is called the Global Rich List. Try it out. My annual income makes me a plutocrat in global terms.

Now that companies can move their operations to so many other places, places like China and India and now that those countries are moving away from socialist idiocies, we, dear reader, have to compete with those people for jobs. Those people to whom $12,000 a year represents a huge raise. That's why wages are stagnant. Wages won't rise in the developed world until India and China are close to parity with us.

If we institute the kinds of economic constraints suggested by the Global Warming crowd, I can't see how that is going to happen. Development takes consumption of resources. All this talk about cap and trade, if instituted globally, amounts to a clamp on development and therefore on wages. Wage differentials like this lead to a loss of jobs.

If we wait a little while, we may all end up living in the Ruins of Detroit.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

I started this book with my daughter tonight as I read a bit of it to her while she lay in bed. It has one of the greatest opening lines in all of literature, IMHO.

"There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it."

Glorious, simply glorious. It might be my favorite of all the Narnia books. When I was 12 or 13, some friends of mine bought me that book and The Horse and His Boy for my birthday. They couldn't find the others at the bookstore, so they bought me just those. I must have read them both 20 times.

Dawn Treader ought to be pretty easy to make into a movie and remain true to the story. The plot is very linear and it moves right along. I could see them cutting out an adventure or two the way Tom Bombadil was cut out of the Lord of the Rings movies. I can't wait to see what they do with it.

On Teachers and Education Spending

As I continue to do my research in preparation for the strategic planning meeting at work, I came across a part in Peter Drucker's book, Management, stressing the importance of knowing who your customer is. Most businesses have several different kinds of customers, each valuing something different.

For a teacher, the customers include the children, their parents and the school administration. It's pretty difficult to be a decent teacher and not care about the quality of your work in the classroom. It's also difficult to work as a teacher and have a lousy relationship with your students' parents. By their very nature, teachers provide a great interface between the education department and the voters.

Having said that, the education budgets are not set by the teachers. Instead, the teachers are used as marketing tools by government education departments to lobby for ever-increasing budgets until they become what they are today, bloated monstrosities. You see, the education department's customers are the politicians. The managers of the education department, the ones who make the financial decisions, have as their customers the politicians, the unions and their own orgaizational hierarchy. Nowhere in this list of customers is one that actually values education. The politicians want votes and the rest want more money.
By its very nature, the education department is designed to grow endlessly and deliver nothing. That's what you get when students and parents are not part of the customer list for those making organizational decisions. It explains the rabid opposition to No Child Left Behind. That effort adds to the list of customers that need to be satisfied and in doing that, adds a performance metric totally alien to the education department - test scores.

You'll also notice that the education departments aren't lobbying to have the huge budget increases that came along with No Child Left Behind taken away. Now there's a surprise.

Monday, June 02, 2008


I sometimes find Twitter to be annoying. When I read someone else's Twitter feed and find it filled with replies to others' feeds, I feel like I'm at a party and everyone has someone to talk to but me.

I Think I'll Move to Detroit

...because the homes are so cheap. Dig this:

$21,000 buys a home? That's just crazy. Let's see what we can find for that one.

11490 Balfour Rd., Detroit, MI, a 3 BR 1 BA detached home for $20,900. Built in 1943. Here's the neighborhood from Google Earth.

OK, I guess. The raw materials in the house must be worth $10K. Detroit must be in total free fall if home prices are this low.

H/T: Carpe Diem.

Forgotten Detroit and The Fabulous Ruins of Detroit have some interesting photos and stories about the once-great city.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Movie Review: Prince Caspian

I took the kids to see Prince Caspian last night. I am a HUGE fan of the Chronicles of Narnia and have read them all tons of times. I know much of them by heart. I will also admit that, while still a good book, Prince Caspian is my least favorite. In spite of that, I was really looking forward to the movie.

For all I know, the movie may well have been great. Unfortunately, it had so many deviations from the book that I was distracted almost from the beginning. I kept waiting for some of my favorite parts from the book, but many of them had been cut. The movie took substantial liberties with the plot and those were so disconcerting that I found I wasn't watching the movie at all, but was waiting for it to rejoin the real version of the story.

It was the movie equivalent of getting lost while driving, but having a GPS device in your car. You knew you would reach your destination, it was just a lot of work to get there.

The acting and the special effects were great. The kids playing the lead roles were wonderful. The script struggled to keep some of the better dialog from the book, but again, I can't tell if I didn't connect as well as I could have because of the movie or because of my own expectations.

I came to the conclusion this morning that I need to see the movie again. This time, I'll have a chance to watch it for what it is and not sit there waiting for the movie to rejoin the book. If you haven't read the book or it's been long enough that you don't remember it, then I think you'll really enjoy it. The character development was well done and believable. The battle scenes were great and the movie kept you in suspense most of the time.

After watching this promo on YouTube, I know I need to see it again.

Update: Our buddy Josh gives it 3 out of 4 stars. You can read his review here.

A New Verse for Choo Choo Ch'Boogie

I've become a huge Louis Jordan fan. After hearing Choo Choo Ch'Boogie a couple of times, I couldn't get it out of my head. Instead, I came up with a new verse for it. Louis has passed away, but I hope he's somewhere up in heaven still enjoying all the pleasure he's still giving to the rest of us. Thanks, Louis.

Here's my humble offering. The link to the video for the song is embedded in my lyrics. Enjoy.
I heard some Louis Jordan just a couple weeks back
It got me jumpin’ ‘round like I’d stepped on a tack
He gave me jazzy rhythms that I surely did lack
His crazy wild singing was an audio snack
Now I need my Louis Jordan like a Big Mac Attack
So take me right back to his track, Jack!

Choo choo
Choo choo ch’boogie

Woo woo
Ooh ooh ch’Boogie

Choo choo
Choo choo ch’boogie

Take me right back to his track, Jack!

Don't Look now, but we may be Winning

...and even the Washington Post is noticing.
THERE'S BEEN a relative lull in news coverage and debate about Iraq in recent weeks -- which is odd, because May could turn out to have been one of the most important months of the war. While Washington's attention has been fixed elsewhere, military analysts have watched with astonishment as the Iraqi government and army have gained control for the first time of the port city of Basra and the sprawling Baghdad neighborhood of Sadr City, routing the Shiite militias that have ruled them for years and sending key militants scurrying to Iran. At the same time, Iraqi and U.S. forces have pushed forward with a long-promised offensive in Mosul, the last urban refuge of al-Qaeda. So many of its leaders have now been captured or killed that U.S. Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker, renowned for his cautious assessments, said that the terrorists have "never been closer to defeat than they are now."
The only fault I would find with this is the surprise in the lull in Iraqi news coverage in the MSM since the MSM has been rooting for us to lose all along. Whatever. I'm glad the WaPo is finally getting a clue. Maybe they'll start doing human interest stories from Iraq instead of ghoulish body counts. They could interview this little fellow, perhaps.

Photo taken from US Torture and Atrocities.

A Louis Jordan Singalong!

I found a real gem on YouTube. It'll get you jumpin' 'round like you stepped on a tack!