Sunday, November 30, 2008

Cheezburger of the Day

funny pictures of cats with captions
more animals

The New Orleans Saints Playoff Picture, Week 13

I'm a huge Saints fan. The reason why is a long story I may share on another day, but just take my word for it, I love the Saints. I also like to entertain and I love to cook Cajun / Creole food.

I've promised family and friends a monster bash if the Saints make the playoffs. Right now, the Saints are 10th in the NFC and they need to make their way up to 6th to make the last wild card playoff spot. The NFC South is too good to think that they'll be able to win the division.

Update: Never mind. The Saints lost today. They're 6-6 in a conference where 10-6 may not be good enough to make the playoffs. Argh. Just wait 'til next year.

If They Could Marry, Would it Have Been Different?

Japan's Kushiro Zoo has discovered that two female polar bears can't produce offspring.
The municipal zoo in the city of Kushiro in Hokkaido brought in a polar bear cub three years ago. They named it Tsuyoshi, after the popular baseball outfielder Tsuyoshi Shinjo, and waited until it reached reproductive age.

In June, the zoo introduced Tsuyoshi to its resident bear, an 11-year-old female named Kurumi, and waited for sparks to fly.

But much to the disappointment of zookeepers, Tsuyoshi never made any amorous advances toward Kurumi.

Earlier this month, zookeepers put Tsuyoshi under anesthesia to get to the bottom of the matter. That's when they made their discovery: Tsuyoshi is a female.
I think we should try marrying them to each other to see if that solves the problem.

H/T: Mish's Global Economic Trend Analysis.

It's the Christmas Season in San Diego!

... and here are the palm trees to prove it!

Err, this looks exactly like summer time in San Diego, doesn't it?

Note: I took this photo from my phone. My phone. How great is it to be alive right now? Whenever my kids and I discuss just when we would like to have been alive, out of any time in history I always say right now.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

A Convection Experiment

Dig this. It's the motion found in the asthenosphere, only with water and food coloring and not magma.

Update: I forgot to mention that we made this movie ourselves today with my son's Flip video camera. We were studying plate tectonics and I decided to try an experiment while she read. It worked, so we did it a second time and recorded it. A little post-processing with Adobe Premiere and voila!

Plate Tectonics for Kids

My daughter is learning earth science this year. She struggled a bit to figure out plate tectonics so I spent some time finding material on the Internets Tubes to help her out. First, I found some cool YouTube videos. Here's one.

Next I found some nice Google Earth overlays showing the Earth's plates and showing volcanic eruptions in the last 10,000 years.

It made a big difference in her understanding of the subject. Yay!

Cheezburger of the Day

funny pictures of cats with captions
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A Different View From Australia

Dig this.
Nov. 29 (Bloomberg) -- Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said the federal government and the states agreed to a A$15.1 billion ($9.9 billion) spending package that will create jobs as the country confronts the global financial crisis.
Seems normal enough. Every nation is doing this right now. What's the big deal?
Forecast budget surpluses will fund new spending to start this fiscal year and extend over the following four years.
Forecast budget whats?
The spending programs, which have an average timespan of four to five years, won’t push the government into deficit, and would allow it to maintain “a modest surplus,” Rudd said.

Culture Trumps All

What do these things have in common?

1. Robert Rubin taking no responsiblity for the catastrophe at Citigroup.

2. The obliteration of civlization in Oakland.

3. The recent election where both candidates pledged to give us hundreds of billions of dollars more goodies than we had earned.

4. The relentless attacks on the Boy Scouts.

5. The big 3 automakers and the UAW begging for bailouts from Washington.

Leave your answers in the comments.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Cheezburger of the Day

funny pictures of cats with captions
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Sympathy for Bernanke and Paulson

As I continue my attempts to educate myself about the financial crisis, I've got growing sympathy for the Bush team trying to keep this from becoming financial Armageddon. It's not like they made this mess in the first place. We did. Bigger houses we couldn't afford, more government programs we didn't want to pay for, boats, cars, life in the fastlane, we wanted it all and we didn't want to have to work for it. Instead, we borrowed ourselves into a catastrophe. It's a mirror image of the whole do-your-own-thing secular morality predominant in popular culture. Give me what I want because I want it.

Nouriel Roubini, writing over at Roubini Global Economic Analysis, a fellow who allegedly saw all of this coming, has a great (and long!) assessment of the situation. Because of the debts that we created - debts across the government, business and personal spheres - deflation must be fought at all costs and right now. Here's why.
In all of its forms and manifestations debt deflation sharply increases the risk that borrowers will be forced to default on real obligations that they cannot service. Thus, debt deflation is associated with a sharp rise in corporate defaults and household defaults that creates a spiral of deflation, debt deflation and defaults.
When you have deflation, existing dollars become worth more. That includes the existing debts you have. 5% deflation means your debts just increased by 5%. If you were on the hairy edge of insolvency before, deflation just pushed you over the cliff. That leads to a new round of bankruptcies and more deflation and more bankruptcies and on until only the very strong have survived.

The problem is even worse for banks who count on the values of the assets they hold as collateral (houses, cars, etc.) for loans. If those values drop, they no longer meet their asset to debt ratio requirements and they have to declare bankruptcy.

If Bernanke and Paulson are thrashing around, trying every wild scheme they can concoct, that's why. They're just trying to shove financial calamity down the road a bit. Instead of screaming and pointing fingers, maybe we ought to apologize to them. I doubt they dedicated themselves to becoming experts in their fields just so they could come and clean up after us after we turned the nation's finances into confetti.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

It was Delicious!

... so I had some extra helpings. Does it show?

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving to all visitors, regular readers and commenters from all of us at The Scratching Post. I'd deeply thankful for the chance to get to know all of you and for the contributions you make to our lives. I'm grateful to be able to learn from each of you and for the beauty and happiness you share with us.

Fall foliage in Korea, a gift sent to me by a blogging friend of mine at work.

Breaking the Link Between Money and the Real World

Over at the Caluclated Risk blog, it was noted that Woolworths, an old and storied chain of stores in England, is going out of business. In the comment thread of that post was this excellent analysis of what's happening right now.
Original comment: IMO consumer demand is contracting faster than retail capacity. We won't be able to close retail square footage fast enough to generate supply constraints pushing up prices.

Reply to that comment: This is the real world manifestation of deflation.

This is why I think people have it backwards - they look at the deflation in the monetary supply as a problem to be solved.

They ignore that money is just an engineered proxy for the real economy and that the monetary deflation is simply the money doing its job and reflecting what's happening in the real world.

So they think by stopping the monetary deflation they can stop it's real world analog. By making more dollars and credit the real world excess capacity goes away.

I think all they do is break the relationship between money and the real world.
Curing deflation is like curing your fuel gauge of reporting that your gas tank is empty.

It doesn't fill your tank up with gas; it just makes your fuel gauge useless.
That's kind of how this whole Keynesian stimulus business feels to me.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

On Romance Novels and Eye Color

Doesn't every romance novel have some hero who has eyes "the color of the sea after a storm" or something like that? Well, we had a storm last night and I went down to Stonerville Ocean Beach and took a picture of the sea after the storm. It looked like this.

Now if I was going to write a romance novel, the hero would have eyes "the color of salt water infused with single-celled algae, decaying organic material and silt."

What do you think? Pretty racy, no?

I'm sure you enviro-weenies out there would like me to include some comment about polluted runoff from local city streets, but this is a romance novel, not a Greenpeace campaign brochure. I'm trying to be sensual here.

Start With The End In Mind

... or at least that's what I've read you should do.

The more I educate myself about the financial crisis, the less I understand just what it is we're trying to accomplish with all this thrashing around.

Is it job growth? No. Jobs come from profits. We don't like profits.

Is it long-term financial health? No. No one strives for long-term financial health by burying themselves in debt. Even the most profligate credit card hound doesn't lie to himself like that.

Is it eradicating poverty? No. We're several decades into the War on Poverty and we seem to be stuck in a quagmire. Besides, we've got mountains of statistical evidence telling us where poverty comes from and we ignore that because it sounds to prudicious.

The only thing I can think of as our goal is to get the incumbents re-elected. In order to do that, you've got to come up with short-term solutions and not tell the public that they need to change their behavior.


Are Necks Necessary?

I've got a terrible stiff neck today. In fact, I've had it for the last two days. It's really getting annoying. Sleeping was painful.

I thought I read once that necks were like your appenix - you didn't really need to have one. Is that true? Can I just have my neck removed and be done with this?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Cheezburger of the Day

funny pictures of cats with captions
more animals

Changdeok Palace

A friend of mine at work just came back from a trip to Seoul, South Korea and posted some photos on her blog. It's on our intranet, so you can't see it from out here, but she gave me permission to share this photo from Changdeok Palace with you.


What if Obama has it Right?

Over at the Econbrowser blog, no one's idea of a haven for socialists, James Hamilton likes what he sees with Obama's economics team.
I recall the advice that Larry Summers offered when we were debating this issue last January:
First, to be effective, fiscal stimulus must be timely.... Second, fiscal stimulus only works if it is spent so it must be targeted.... Third, fiscal stimulus, to be maximally effective, must be clearly and credibly temporary-- with no significant adverse impact on the deficit for more than a year or so after implementation.
Although our current situation is more serious than the one we faced a year ago, I still believe that this is a correct articulation of the core principles to keep in mind ... I think Obama's announcements today may be just what the doctor ordered.
On the other hand, there's this news out of England.
There is now a palpable fear that global investors may start to shun British debt as the budget deficit rockets to £118bn - 8 per cent of GDP - or charge a much higher price to cover default risk ... Labour ran a budget deficit of 3pc of GDP the top of cycle. (We had a 2pc surplus at the end of the Lawson bubble, so we go into this slump 5pc of GDP worse off). The size of the state has ballooned from 37pc to 46pc of GDP in a decade, and will inevitably now rise further.

It is because Gordon Brown exhausted the national credit limit to pay for his silly boom that today's fiscal stimulus - just 1pc (per cent) of GDP (China is doing 14pc) - is enough to rattle the bond markets. Our national debt will jump in what is more or less the bat of an eyelid from under 40pc of GDP to nearer 60pc ...
It's worth noting that the US deficit and debt are higher that Britain's.

Keynesian economics tells you to borrow and spend when times are bad. However, there's an upper limit to that - an upper limit when everyone is so totally in debt that more borrowing produces no effect. In time, all of your borrowing goes to pay the interest on your previous borrowing and none of it goes to stimulation. As a reference point, the federal government now pays about $300B per year on interest on the debt. That will jump with these new, monstrous deficits.

What's the end goal look like for these stimulus packages? If the economy starts growing at 1% (robust growth by socialist European standards), but our interest payments are $500B per year, are we really better off? Does anyone, anywhere believe that these policies will ever lead to paying down the debt?

Update: Manchester blogger Dominic makes this point: "Keynes was born in a world where government spending was under 20% of GDP, Keynes studied in one of the largest conflicts the world had ever seen, when government spending was on average 25% of GDP."

Update 2: James Hamilton's readers are not so sanguine about Obama's choices.
If the above is the best Summers has to offer we are in big trouble. Timely, targeted, and temporary - does this mean whether the actual policy is good or bad. This is inane; it has no economic meaning. This could be said about Thanksgiving Dinner and be just as intelligent. Summers has extreme Keynesian ideas that will push consumption when our whole problem has been caused by government pushing consumption.

Monday, November 24, 2008

A Young Lady Needs a Transplant

... maybe you can help. Click on the image to get to the story.

Slinky Cat

I love it.

A Blogging Tip From a Catblogger

Sometimes it helps if you get away from your post and think about it for a while.

Money is Moving From Europe to Asia

... at least that's my semi-literate take on these three charts.

The first thing you need to realize is that you can't buy US securities and bonds with Euros or Yen. You first need to convert your foreign currency into dollars. That means there is a supply and demand for dollars and euros and yen. Similarly, you can't buy Australian securities without Australian dollars and so on for each country. There's a market for currency and it reflects, in part, where investment money is going.

Right now, the big investors are fleeing the market for the safety of short-term Treasury bills. These are short-term loans to the US government. Here's why.
The whole world, it seems, is rushing into Treasurys, and with reason. As asset prices melt globally, managers steering pension funds, foundations, hedge funds -- you name it -- are running for shelter.

They can't just dump tens of millions of dollars or more into their local bank. They need the liquidity of the Treasury market.
That won't last forever.
When the panic trade ends (Friday's markets offered a glimmer of hope), the pros will seek some degree of risk and will pull money out of Treasurys.
In any case, for the time being, the movement of money is clearly west-to-east.

2 year dollar vs. Euro chart. The dollar is worth a whole lot more Euros than it used to be. Money is fleeing Europe and coming to the US.

2 year dollar vs. Yen. Money is leaving the US and heading for Japan.

Money is leaving Europe.


Sunday, November 23, 2008

Yesterday's Soccer Game: A Contrast in Parental Motivation

My daughter does not play on a team that comes exclusively from the white bread section of town. Some of our families are a bit, how shall I say it, rough around the edges.

I love them.

Yesterday we played the preppy team. Down by two players for over half the game, we scrapped and fought to a 0-0 tie. I take photos during the game and this time, because of the angle of the sun, I had to shoot from the other team's sideline. Eventually, I just quit and came back to our sideline because I couldn't stand the treacle any more. Here's a comparison of the two teams' fans.

Them (after failing to beat a bedraggled and demoralized team they outmanned 11-9): "Oh, well played, girls! What a great game! Tiffany you were so close to scoring a goal! It wasn't very nice of them to play so rough.* Let's all go out for smoothies at Jamba Juice!"

Us: "¡Maria, si no jugar mejor, te voy a pegar ustede con un palo!"

* - We played a very clean game, if a bit physical.

Update: Before anyone gets the wrong impression, I was exaggerating for comic effect. No one is beating their daughters con un palo. We're just a bit more colorful than the other teams.

This has been my daughter's first year of club soccer and she's really enjoyed it. Her skills have gotten much better, but she sometimes plays timidly. With about 15 minutes left to go in the game, she became a ravening beast and was hip-checking her opponents all over the field. It was great. I found out later that the other team had been teasing our very short left midfielder because of her height. My daughter got angry and took it out on the other team.

Bad move, girls. You might want to use those smoothies as ice packs.

England Gets Worried

... and rightfully so.
Like Iceland, we boast a huge banking industry out of all proportion to the overall economy. Like Iceland, we have an unfunded depositor lifeboat scheme totally unequipped to grapple with failing banks. Like Iceland, our national output is dwarfed by the vast liabilities of our banks. Like Iceland, our banks for years scoffed at relying on domestic depositors to fund their activities and developed a dangerous addiction to wholesale money. Like Iceland, our Government is poised to go on a borrowing spree to try to soften the pain. Like Iceland, our currency is on the skids as foreign investors pull out.
You can't have what you don't produce, at least not for long. Those massive credit card debts, business debts and government debts made you feel rich, but if you didn't actually make anything, the bills are going to be hard to pay. Over at UK Bubble, there's a great post about England spending its way into deeper trouble. In that post, lies this great tidbit.
The greatest lie ever invented in modern economics was the one that said that the government budget does not work like a family budget. The idea is that governments can borrow from "within the family" and use the money to boost expenditure when times are rough. On the contrary, government finances are exactly like those of a family. If the father borrows, the children pay.
Barack Obama is being flippant about the $1T deficit we'll be running next year, but that shouldn't give the Republicans any solace. McCain wasn't going to be much better.

If all the governments in the world go on borrowing sprees at the same time, where will that money come from?

Yes, a Soccer Team Can Reinflate!

Yesterday, my daughter's team played the last game of the 2008 outdoor season. In the previous game, we managed to lose on a late-game, boneheaded play and it totally demoralized the team.

We started yesterday's game without our normal goalie. She was out sick or at some mandatory family event, I never did find out which. That immediately put us at a disadvantage since our team only has 11 players. At the end of the first half, one of our best midfielders went down with a slight knee injury. We played the rest of the game down 2 players, 11 on 9.

The girls played their most inspired and smartest half of the year and we managed a 0-0 tie. It was about as exciting a game as we'd had this year since most of the game was played right around our goal. Our makeshift goalie blocked some tough shots and there were a couple of times we nearly scored on breakaways. That tie was as exciting and uplifting as a playoff win.

So yes, a team can reinflate after a bad loss. Yay!

Now onto the 2008-9 indoor season.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Why Obama is Picking Clintonistas?

... it's because his resume is so thin.

Yes, lefties, your worst nightmare is coming to pass. Hillary, the woman you hate, is taking control after all. The One's cabinet is filling with her stooges and cronies. And why is that?

Remember what we were trying to tell you all along? That The Messiah had never accomplished anything in his life? It was true and it mattered. When normal presidents come into office, they bring along trusted friends from previous jobs. Clinton brought in his Arkansas buddies and Texans came along with Bush. Obama has never done anything in his life and he has no team to bring along. He's an empty suit, a hot air balloon and now we're getting an idea of what that means.

Once the Clintonistas are in place, he'll have as much control over them as he would have with a pack of Somali pirates. None. Oh, he'll see them in cabinet meetings and give them orders, but in the other 39 hours of their work week, they'll be talking to each other and doing what they want. They've got the bonds that come with years of working together, of accomplishing things as a team, a team of Clintonistas.

He's got nothing of his own except his photogenic family and a bag of rhetoric.

Cheezburger of the Day

funny pictures of cats with captions
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James Bond as Pantywaist

This week on Poliwood, there's a great discussion of the feminization of men in film and our culture. They make intriguing comparisons between the male and female roles throughout the history of film. Their next episode will discuss the new James Bond movie, Quantum of Solace, but I wanted to post about it here and now.

I like Daniel Craig as James Bond. He's as masculine as they come. I liked Casino Royale up until the torture scene and then it totally fell apart for me. I hate Quentin Tarantino films and it felt like a great Bond movie devolved into some trashy slaughterhouse flick.

Having said that, the Poliwood theme of celluloid androgyny is alive and well even in the recent Bond movies. I love Judi Dench as an actress; I hate her as M. She gives the feeling that Bond can be as manly as he wants, but in the end all of his skills are subordinated to a woman. Since he is so completely over the top with testosterone, she, by inference, becomes an utterly controlling dominatrix and he becomes her submissive victim.

The films have always been colored with a conflict between M and Bond. He's running off doing what he thinks is right and M is trying to exert some kind of control over him. I thought the best of these was the Timothy Dalton movie, License to Kill. That conflict between M (played by Robert Brown) and Bond had no sexual overtones. It was a classic dramatic component.

In modern movies, however, such men are essentially sick and need to be either controlled or cured. The theme of the Bond movies with Judi Dench as M has been that Bond is outside of acceptable behavior, he's a necessary evil that, properly controlled by a woman, serves the needs of the state.


How different is this from the traditional male roles in film? Check out this, the end of The Maltese Falcon, and try to imagine it being shown in a theater today. Try, if you can, to see even a modern James Bond character, the man who personifies masculinity, doing this while under the control of a female M.

In recent Bond movies, the James Bond character has sent female villains to jail or their graves. But in the end, he comes back to be judged and controlled by the dominatrix. In the case of Sam Spade and other movies from that era, he is judged by his own innate sense of what it means to be a man. No dominatrixes need apply.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Creamy Orange and Red Sunset

So I'm driving along this evening and the sunset is gorgeous. It's a really unusual one, all creamy clouds reflecting a red and orange glow. I'm prepared this time, too. My fiancee's point-and-shoot camera is in my car's glove box. Admittedly, it's not my Nikon artillery piece, but it still takes great pictures.

Unfortunately, I'm driving my truck. I got nothin'.


You Know Your Business is in Trouble When ...

... when political talk show hosts all across the radio dial are coming up with solutions for your problems.

Congratulations to Granpa Wollf!

Our Pater of Prowling is now a Grandpa of Prowling! Congratulations, old boy!

Live Piracy Map and Root Causes

Thanks to the Great Powers Politics blog, we've discovered a live piracy map. Here's a closeup on the Somali pirates' oparea.

Most attacks have come up north in the Gulf of Aden. The MV Sirius Star was nabbed way down south, off the coast of Kenya.

It's a massive area to have to patrol and none of the local navies have enough ships to monitor the whole place, looking for tiny fishing boats with pirates. Most of the fishing boats in the area do not have pirates and short of invoking the Roman Option, you can't just go down there and sink everything.

Having said that, the Great Powers Politics post linked above has this tidbit.
(A)long with the Indian Navy, the US and NATO are in charge of patrolling the Gulf of Aden, Horn of Africa, Indian Ocean, and other near by waterways where the pirates are most active, but their mandate is too weak. The US has the most powerful blue water navy in the world by far, yet it does not have legitimate rights to police pirates unless they are in the act of committing a crime.
We play by one set of rules, they play by another. The Great Powers post goes on to say this.
(T)he root of the problem is a lack of opportunity in the state of Somalia. Young men who have chosen the life of a pirate need to have other more legitimate options at making a living.
Here's where we part company. The US doesn't have to care what the root cause is. As we are discovering in the financial world, we've spent everything we have and much of our future wealth dealing with root causes that are actually someone else's problem. No one else is concerned with our root causes, so it's stupidity to be concerned with theirs.

The Roman Option was used by the Romans because it was cost effective and they didn't worry about root causes. Their response to annoyances like this was, "Cut it out or we'll kill you all." The Romans were experts at killing people and smashing things. So are we. We're about to blow through $1T in budget deficits in FY09. Efficiency in dealing with things like this had better start to matter.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Your Message From IT Security for Today

"We will be coming over to poke each of in the eye with a sharp stick. If we do not make it to your office before close of business, please poke yourself in the eye with a sharp stick."

We had a security threat that has led us to shut down PCs across our network. We were given a deadline to update our machines or face networking blocking, but management has decided to block PCs well ahead of schedule after which an email was sent out warning that network blocks would start occurring.

The email never reached its intended victims users because they couldn't get on the network to read it.


It's Nice Work If You Can Get It

$25M for a day's labor.
Nov. 20 (Bloomberg) -- Somali pirates are demanding $25 million in ransom to release an oil-laden Saudi supertanker seized off the East African coast, and called on the ship's owners to pay up ``soon.''
And just how did our little friends come to this number?
``What we want from this ship is only 25 million dollars because we always charge according to the quality of the ship and the value of the product,'' a pirate who identified himself as Abdi Salan, one of the hijacking gang, said in a phone interview from Harardhare.
Well, that sounds reasonable to me! $25M would go a long way towards getting at the root causes of piracy which, as we all know, are poverty and injustice.

I've Seen It

... but I still don't believe it.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Don't Ask

... just go read this. Awesome.

Somali Piracy and Multiculturalism

If all cultures are equally valid and morally equivalent, then why can't our response to the Somali pirates be the one their culture would practice? Or is there some kind of inherent contradiction in secular humanism, moral equivalence and multiculturalism?

A culturally valid and morally equal response to Somali piracy.

I'd write more, but it's time for me to go to my Kwanzaa preparation classes.

Pirates Have Rights, Too!

... maybe we should even allow them to marry each other. Following the siezure of the MV Sirius Star, an article on the siezure of an Iranian grain ship leads to this bit of information.
Analysts said, however, that the seizure of the Sirius Star exposed the use of foreign warships as “a sticking plaster” that would not solve the problem. “Maritime security operations in that area are addressing the symptoms not the causes,” said Jason Alderwick, a maritime defence analyst at the International Institute for Strategic Studies*.

Roger Middleton, a Horn of Africa specialist* at the Chatham House think-tank, said that the capture was a crucial escalation. “Now that they have shown they are able to seize an enormous ship like this, it is beyond a military solution. You won’t fix this without a political solution.”
I love it. For the pirates, the only solution is military. For us, it isn't. It's like we live in two different realities. For them, a rocket-propelled grenade launcher is their tool of choice. For us, it's a briefcase.
Operations undertaken by the coalition fleet are fraught with legal difficulties, ranging from restrictive rules of engagement to rights of habeas corpus, as the British Navy discovered when it detained eight pirates after a shootout last week. Yesterday the detainees were passed on to Kenya, where efforts to prosecute them will be closely watched for precedent.
Well, that tears it. We need to increase funding for international law experts! After all, the US has a proud history of engaging in courtroom battles with lawless states.
In May, 1801, the United States refused to succumb to the increasing demands of the Pacha of Tripoli; in return, the Pacha declared war against the States. While Tripoli was not a strong power and little effort was necessary to watch and blockade it, the fear was that the other Barbary powers would join against the United States. The United States sent naval squadrons into the Mediterranean under the slogan of "Millions for defense, but not one cent for tribute!" Under the leadership of Commodores Richard Dale and Edward Preble, the Navy blockaded the enemy coast, bombarded his shore fortresses, and engaged in close, bitterly contested gunboat actions.

On 16 February 1804 LT Stephen Decatur led 74 volunteers into Tripoli harbor to burn the captured American frigate The Philadelphia. British Admiral Lord Nelson called the raid "the most daring act of the age".
See? That's the peaceful, enlightened, political solution to the problem. Err, or something like that.

We need to address root causes. The root cause here is this guy has an AK-47 and he wants to take your money.

* Jason Alderwick and Roger Middleton later had to change their trousers due to unseemly moisture in certain areas. In a joint press conference, they denied reports that they still wet their beds.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

A Little Feline Nostalgia

The audio is authentic from the era, but the video is recent. Still, I like it.

How many of you remember these 9 Lives ads?

More on the Tanker Piracy

The Strategy Page has an interesting tidbit on the Somali siezure of the tanker and Somali piracy in general.
The pirates have been very clever in not harming any of the sailors on the hijacked ships. This makes it difficult for foreign countries to justify the use of force to take back the ships (not to mention the risk of the rescuers killing some of the hostages). This media/political logic also makes it difficult to authorize attacks on the half dozen Somali port towns and villages that serve as bases for the pirates.
The Romans had a solution for this kind of problem. It typically involved lots of swords and fire.

Supertanker Update

OK, so now that they've got the supertanker, what do the Somali pirates do with it? They anchor it close to shore and (probably) demand a ransom.
MOGADISHU, Somalia -- Pirates who seized a Saudi supertanker loaded with $100 million in crude oil anchored the ship within sight of impoverished Somali fishing villages Tuesday.

With few other options, shipowners in past piracy cases have ended up paying ransoms for their ships, cargos and crew ...

In Somalia, people on shore were stunned by the sight of the gigantic Saudi-owned vessel -- as long as an aircraft carrier at 1,080 feet.

"As usual, I woke up at 3 a.m. and headed for the sea to fish, but I saw a very, very large ship anchored less than three miles off the shore," said Abdinur Haji, a fisherman in Harardhere.

"I have been fishing here for three decades, but I have never seen a ship as big as this one," he told the Associated Press in a telephone interview. "There are dozens of spectators on shore trying to catch a glimpse of the large ship, which they can see with their naked eyes."
The pirates must be celebrities now. And why not become pirates? No one is coming to get the ship.
NATO said it would not divert any of its three warships from the Gulf of Aden and the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet also said it did not expect to send ships to try to intercept the MV Sirius Star.
Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate's life for me!


Now That You've got it, What do you do With It?

Somali pirates have captured a supertanker.
DUBAI -- The U.S. Navy said pirates commandeered a Saudi-owned supertanker bearing more than $100 million worth of crude a few hundred miles off the Kenyan coast, an attack that sharply increases the stakes in an effort by governments and militaries to protect the world's energy-supply lines.

U.S. Navy officials said the hijacking was unprecedented for its distance from shore and the size of its target -- a ship about the length of a U.S. aircraft carrier. The attack appears also to be the first significant disruption of crude shipments in the region by pirates.
The thing is massive, the size of an aircraft carrier. The heist seems to be phenomenally stupid to me. It's like a gang of robbers sneaking into a Beverly Hills mansion and choosing to make off with the 20' tall statue of the Winged Victory of Samothrace instead of the jewelry in the bedroom.

I can only see two alternatives and that is blackmail or kidnapping. They must be planning on holding it for ransom and threatening to sink the thing somewhere if they don't get their money. It's not like they can drive it into Mombasa and sell the oil. I doubt they've got anyone on board who can pilot the beast.

Alternatively, they might just kidnap the crew and hold them for ransom. That's much more typical for these creeps. If that's the case, will the tanker be set adrift? That could prove interesting.


Guys like this ...

... hijacked this supertanker. Now what?

Monday, November 17, 2008

Your Little-known American History Fact for the Day

The War for Texas Independence was actually fought over mathematical concepts.

No, really, it's true! Don't you remember the famous slogan?

"Renumber the Alamo!"

The Press + a Political Party + the Government

= Il Duce!
Perhaps it was the announcement that NBC News is coming out with a DVD titled "Yes We Can: The Barack Obama Story." Or that ABC and USA Today are rushing out a book on the election. Or that HBO has snapped up a documentary on Obama's campaign.

Perhaps it was the Newsweek commemorative issue -- "Obama's American Dream" -- filled with so many iconic images and such stirring prose that it could have been campaign literature. Or the Time cover depicting Obama as FDR, complete with jaunty cigarette holder ...

(W)e seem to have crossed a cultural line into myth-making.

Here, the press covers an Obama speech to impoverished proles ready to get started in the new, green economy.

Cheezburger of the Day

funny pictures of cats with captions
more animals

Last Night's Sunset

... over Mission Bay was quite nice.

... to Each According to Their Need

Barack Obama on the mortgage crisis:
In a campaign fact sheet, President-elect Barack Obama says he "recognizes that the real victims in the subprime mortgage crisis are not the lenders, but the millions of borrowers who followed the rules and whose only crime was taking out mortgages that lenders told them they could afford."
Meanwhile, in Iceland, they have many more toys than they can afford, the poor dears, and now the meanies they owe money to are asking them to pay up.

You can't have Atlas Shrugging without this kind of pro-consumer, anti-producer culture.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

I Think I'm Worth More Alive

Thanks to our Official Artist, we have this quiz to share with you.

Hoist the Fasces and Salute!

What do you get when you combine the press, a political party and the government?
The election is over, but the Joe the Plumber case is not.

Ohio Inspector General Tom Charles said his office is now looking at a half-dozen agencies that accessed state records on Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher.

The Beacon Journal has learned that, in addition to the Department of Job and Family Services, two other state offices — the Ohio Department of Taxation and Ohio Attorney General Nancy Rogers — conducted database searches of Joe the Plumber ...

Kohlstrand said that the AG's office wanted access to the records so they could turn over to the national media lien information that was a public record in Lucas County. He said the national media did not have reporters in Toledo, so the attorney general's office was helping them out with public records.
Il Duce!

Watching a Soccer Team Deflate

Yesterday my daughter had her penultimate soccer game in our club team's outdoor season. We're in 3rd place in a league of 6 teams, but that doesn't tell the tale. We won almost all of our early games and haven't won a game in the second half of the season. In recent weeks, we've come to root for ties.

Our team has 11 girls in a sport where you need 11 to play. Many weeks we've only had 10 show up and we've had to play 10 vs. 11. For example, last week our goalie was sick. She begged her parents to play, but she had a severe flu and they didn't let her. The team has that kind of spirit. The girl who filled in for the goalie did a valiant job, but it wasn't the same and we lost 2-1 in a game where we should have won 1-0 had our regular goalie been present.

In spite of these setbacks, the team has kept up its energy and enthusiasm. Until the end of yesterday's game.

We had a full team and were playing a team that was mediocre at best. We scored the first goal, but gave up one at the end of the first half to one of their bigger players. The score remained tied for most of the second half and you could feel the energy and enthusiasm in the parents, coach and players. We might just pull this one out. We were playing at their end of the field and were getting some shots on goal.

All of a sudden, they got a breakaway. One of their defenders blasted the ball out to about midfield and one of their forwards took the ball and raced down the right sideline. From 40 yards out, she shot.

40 yards is a ridiculous shot. No one makes those kinds of shots. Unfortunately, our goalie, who is one of the best in the league, had spaced out and was on the far left side of the goal, thinking about something other than soccer. By the time she realized what was going on and raced over to scoop up the gently rolling ball, it had gone in.

It was like watching a balloon deflate. We went from being a modestly competent team who tried hard to a group of girls and fans who were beaten, not just for the game, but the season. In one 5 second segment of time, the world changed completely.

No one blamed the goalie. It wasn't like a pack of dogs turning on each other, it was a black cloud of gloom that settled down upon all of us, coach and parents and players and extinguished everything. The score ended 2-1 and after the game, the players did a half-hearted cheer for the other team and shuffled out to shake hands. Similarly, the parents lined up to high-five the team as they came back with no enthusiasm. There was almost no noise at all.

I've managed 3 baseball and 2 soccer teams. I've coached on a bunch more. I've never seen anything like this in my life. There was an exact moment in an entire season when the team deflated down into a shriveled balloon.

The girls, each and every one of them, deserve much more. Every one of them have played every minute of every game they've been able to attend. They've never given up. Even when injured, they refuse to come out of the game and keep playing while limping and crying. We've played on some scorching days, too, where the heat is withering and the girls have run and played their tails off the whole game. The other teams all have subs and can rest their players, but our girls have managed to beat or tie them many times. We've only been blown out twice.

We've got one more outdoor game and then a full season of indoor soccer. My girl is typically oblivious to the mood of the team. None of this will carry over to the next game for her. Every day the sun rises and the birds sing for my girl. I'm going to work with her just a little more this week and see if she can provide the spark for the next game.

Can a deflated team be reinflated?

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Iceland Is Bankrupt, But What About Their Creditors?

In a post today, Paul Kedrosky links to a long article detailing the sad story of Iceland's fall into bankruptcy and financial ruin. It's a sympathetic look at what the people of Iceland are facing.
Easy access to 100 per cent mortgages has seen a change to the traditional pattern of young Icelanders living with their parents until their mid-twenties. The suburbs of Reykjavik have grown by a third in the past decade, most of it housing for first-time buyers. Whole new neighbourhoods have emerged. New streets house young couples, many with children, most with two cars in the drive and furnished with the best that Ikea can provide. All bought with 100 per cent loans, many in foreign currencies.
It's all falling apart and the people of Iceland are in deep trouble. While their tale is pitiable, does the article have the situation exactly reversed?

With 100% credit, the Icelanders imported real goods and built real houses. In exchange for the products of others' labor, they paid them off in what are now worthless pieces of paper. I wonder if there will be repo companies coming over from, say, Germany, to reposess the BMWs. If an Icelandic family defaults on a Japanese loan, will the Japanese kick them out of their home and send a family over from Tokyo to move in?

The people who are really getting the short end of this are the ones holding on to the payments and loans from the Icelanders. Unless fleets of bulldozers show up in Reykjavik and start flattening the place, the Icelanders will still have those homes and their creditors will have nothing.

The people of Iceland imported more than they paid for. I'm not sure if they're the ones we should be crying over.

Gas Prices are Historically Low Right Now

Dig this:

The text discussing this chart can be found at the Carpe Diem blog.

Pit Bulls Everywhere

Yesterday, on a whim, my daughter and I visited the Humane Society / County Animal Shelter. The two of them are connected where we live. We looked through all of the dogs that were up for adoption. We must have seen 100-120 of them.

Over 50% were pit bulls or pit bull mixes. Another 10% were boxers or boxer mixes. Of the non-attack-dogs, I saw one cute beagle (which had two holds on it from people wanting to adopt it), but nothing else of interest. There was one Irish Setter and one Lab, but no Bassets or Golden Retrievers. It looked like the reject bin from the local dog fighting club.

Which, I'm sure, it was.

The whole place was a death camp for pit bulls. They came by the trainload into the front door and after a few weeks were gassed and discarded.

Update: Here are some corroborating stories.

From SFGate:
Not long ago, pit bulls occupied about three-quarters of the dog kennels at San Francisco's Animal Care and Control shelter. Now, only about a quarter of the unwanted canines at the shelter are pit bulls.

The numbers of pit bull terriers and pit bull mixes abandoned and euthanized in San Francisco have fallen drastically since the city implemented a law 18 months ago requiring that pit bulls be sterilized, animal officials say.
From Pit Bull Rescue Central:
It is estimated that up to 200 Pit Bulls are killed EVERY DAY in Los Angeles County, CA, shelters alone because there are not enough homes for them. Imagine the number across the entire United States...

The pit bull population has now risen to 40% of all the dogs in 12 shelters in Los Angeles.
KiroTV (Seattle) reported the average number of pit bulls euthanized.

Between 2002 and mid-September 2007, Seattle euthanized a total of 3,407 dogs
1,762 (52%) were non-pit bull breeds and 1,645 (48%) were pit bulls
Average: about 300 pit bulls euthanized annually

Friday, November 14, 2008

The GM Bailout is the Worst of all Worlds

Charles Krauthammer has a great piece on the GM bailout proposed by Barack Obama and the Democrats in Congress.
The point of the Democratic bailout is to protect the unions by preventing this kind of restructuring. Which will guarantee the continued failure of these companies, but now they will burn tens of billions of taxpayer dollars. It's the ultimate in lemon socialism.

Democrats are suggesting, however, an even more ambitious reason to nationalize. Once the government owns Detroit, it can remake it. The euphemism here is "retool" Detroit to make cars for the coming green economy.

Liberals have always wanted the auto companies to produce the kind of cars they insist everyone should drive: small, light, green and cute. Now they will have the power to do it.
This is the worst of all worlds - it is Soviet central planning for domestic industries while allowing endless competition from foreign companies that have no such restrictions. If we go through with this, Ford and GM will be managed by Federal political appointees and will produce what Obama thinks we ought to want. Toyota and Nissan will produce what we do want. Because there will be no labor renegotiations from bankruptcy, GM and Ford will continue to overpay for labor.

Higher costs, cars designed by bureaucrats and competition from true professionals all while the government feeds GM and Ford an endless stream of money from the taxpayers. Hooray!

The Lada. The kind of car you should be driving instead of that dreadful Nissan Altima.

All Supervisory Personnel Report for Duty!

... and then do your jobs. Laying around watching other people work.

Here, our Maximum Leader keeps an eye on her minions.

Haven't We Evolved Beyond Pop-up Ads?

I regularly use the Merriam-Webster online dictionary to look up words. It's a wonderful resource and I'm glad they made it available on line.

It's also incredibly annoying. I don't mind ads and I'm fine with plastering them all around the site, but for the love of Pete, why do they still use the pop-up ads? Argh! Every time I look up a word, I get another window bouncing onto my screen advertising this or that. Stop it! Go away! It makes looking up a word take twice as long.

If you've got a dictionary resource that doesn't do this, please let me know.

Human evolution. Apparently, it culminates in pop-up ads.

A Gnat's Digestive System

During a meeting at work yesterday, someone made a comment about the chances of something happening being smaller than a gnat's rear end. I began to wonder about a gnat's rear end. Just what does a gnat's digestive tract look like? I did some research, and this is the best resource I've found so far.

The only diagram I've come up with is this one of a female gnat pupa. Click on it for a better, more readable version.

The digestive tract is a straight-through tube from mouth to anus. There's not a lot of surface area there to digest complicated foods, so I doubt the thing can do much to compound sugars like starches. Here's another article on gnats that I found. Their diet? Blood!
Eye gnats will regularly land on or around ones eye and nose; black flies or buffalo gnats will land anywhere they can find skin on which to suck blood. Essentially that is all the females want; blood. They will seek this from any mammal they can find and people will often times be their prime target.
I'm not sure I buy this. The gnats I'm thinking of can't possibly have mouth parts big enough to penetrate skin and get to the blood. OK, so here's a more reasonable source that claims that gnats eat fungus. That's more believable.
Fungus gnats eat mainly fungus but can also eat root hairs and initiate root rot, which can kill plants. These pests are common in interior environments. They are small (2-3 mm) mosquito-like flies with one pair of wings. If they have infested potted plants in the home it is not uncommon to see them flying around your computer screen or even a can of pop. They are attracted to carbon dioxide; which people, cans of pop, and plants release.
I'd love to delve into the biochemistry involved. Just what is it in the fungus that gnats digest and how do they do it? I imagine they're just licking the fungus. They don't seem to have mouth parts capable of biting.

I'll bet the Backyard Arthropod Project (which, by the way, is the reason the Internets Tubes were invented) has more to say on this subject.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Next Best Thing to Flying, Carnivorous Spiders

This is an inside joke with our Missionary to the Frozen, Northern Wastelands, but the video is still awesome.

What Will It Look Like After He's Fixed It?

Apparently, the public is willing to wait for their tax cuts while Obama fixes the economy.
WASHINGTON (AP) — People want the tax cuts promised during the presidential campaign, but may be willing to wait while President-elect Obama takes on the larger issue of fixing the economy.
This sounds like a very complicated job, one that is not understandable by us average folks. I think we should all take off work and sit quietly in our homes until he's got it fixed. We wouldn't want to get in his way as he goes around fixing things, you know.

A product of the last government who tried to "fix" their economy.

If you want a foretaste of what it will look like once the press and the politicians finish convincing all of us to let the government fix the economy, take a look at this.

Scott Ott Discovers the Perfect Bailout for GM

Here it is.

(2008-11-13) — The White House today unveiled a rival version of a $25 billion Democrat bailout for the Big Three U.S. automakers, which it said would yield immediate benefits for some 625,000 Americans.

George W. Bush, who is president of the United States, said he has called House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to “humbly suggest that instead of lending $25 billion to GM, Ford and Chrysler, or risking more taxpayer money on their flimsy stock, why don’t we just purchase a brand new 2008 vehicle for every citizen of Washington D.C., all members of Congress and their staffs, and all the employees of the executive branch and the Supreme Court?”
There's more. Lots more!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


Cheezburger of the Day

funny pictures of cats with captions
more animals

Search This Article for the Word "Profit"

... and you'll find it once. Try it. Here's where it occurs.
The Detroit Three depended for more than a decade on profits from gas-guzzling sport-utility vehicles and pumped up sales with cheap credit, while rivals Toyota and Honda Motor Co. more aggressively pursued advanced technology vehicles and business strategies that allowed them to make money on a broader range of models.
Nowhere in the rest of the article does it say anything about profits. It's all about pouring money into them and putting government stooges on their boards and getting them to produce environmentally-conscious cars.

How much did we discuss profits during the election? How much of that was in a positive way? All I remember was that the politicians blamed each other for trying to give oil companies bigger profits.

Why do we need profits anyway? What have corporations ever done for us? We must give to the needy and take form the people who are making those profits!

How will we get out of this mess? Who is John Galt?

Congressional Democrats Consider Giving Heroin to Drug Addicts

... or is that cash to GM? I can't tell which.

Anyway, here's the story.
Democratic leaders in Congress said Tuesday they will push legislation next week to use the $700 billion Wall Street rescue fund to bail out Detroit auto makers, and President-elect Barack Obama ordered his transition team to look at ways to aid the car industry even before his inauguration.
There are no rules, there are no processes, there is no structure left in Washington, there is only politicians panicking and running about, waving blank checks. The money that was set aside to buy up troubled loans is now going to be thrown at GM and Ford, both of whom are hemorrhaging money.
The moves come as General Motors Corp. has warned that it could face a debilitating cash shortage by year's end. On Tuesday, GM stock fell an additional 13%.
GM faces a cash crunch because they spend too much and take in too little. Handing them another $25B or $50B will change ... what? If you want to see why this isn't affecting Toyota, take a look at this.

The big 3 automakers pay far more in labor costs than Toyota. Sounds like UAW has finally killed the goose that laid the golden eggs. What's the solution? Pour more money into the front of GM and watch it flow right out the back. Meanwhile, Barack Obama is looking at effectively nationalizing the auto industry.
Mr. Obama, after some initial hesitation to become publicly involved, is pressing the Bush administration to immediately free up funding through the Treasury, the Energy Department and the Federal Reserve. It is also studying other options, including installing new board members at car companies that receive assistance to ensure compliance with the strings attached to a bailout, including the adoption of a more advanced, fuel-efficient product line.
Once government stooges are in place in the board rooms, GM will return to profitability!

Or something like that.

My Excuse for Today

... is that I slept in. I was dreaming I was vacationing in El Salvador.

It didn't look like this in my dream. It was a lot more jumbled and it was one of those dreams where you are incredibly tired throughout.

Photo used without permission from Travel Wizard.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

How to cut up a Chicken

I like to use "best of fryer" for many of my recipes, but I've had a hard time finding them in the stores these days. I spent a little time looking for an instructional video on how to take a whole chicken and make my very own best of fryer. Chef Jay NC tells us how to do it.

Why the Republicans Lost the Election

They were incompetent and corrupt.

Proposition 8 was not About the Government

... it was about the cultural definition of the word "marriage."

Over at Classical Values, one of my favorite blogs, they have completely missed the point on this. They take up the issue using a narrow, libertarian analysis where they decide that the government shouldn't meddle in such things. To them it's all about the tiny details of the laws. It's all about licensing.
Well, licensing is, after all, a government restriction. When people speak of marriage as a "right," they really are not speaking of a right to marriage, but a "right" to a marriage license. Yet true rights (such as freedom of speech and freedom of religion) are not -- and by their nature cannot be -- subject to licensing.

If marriage were treated as a right, it would not be subject to licensing.
Emphasis in the original text.

Licenses are meaningless outside of the larger context, a context apparently invisible to the libertarians. We're not at war over a right, we're at war over a cultural definition of a word. It's not a trivial one, either. One side wants to erase all differentiation between heterosexual and homosexual unions, the other doesn't. The marriage issue is a part of the deal, not the final goal.

The Boy Scouts have been under attack by the gays because they differentiate. The demonstrations against the churches recently were for the same reason. Anyone who makes a distinction between the two relationships will come under attack. The marriage issue is just one battle in the war.

Once they win the marriage issue, public schools will begin teaching that there is no difference between gay and straight relationships. It's no coincidence that one of the biggest opponents of prop 8 were the teachers. An underlying theme of this teaching will be to tie differentiation of sexual orientation to racial discrimination (this is already their primary theme), thus claiming that most major religions are havens for bigotry.

This is much, much bigger than just what the government does or doesn't do. Put the government aside. Is there a meaningful difference between hetero- and homosexual relationships? Is there a meaningful difference between men and women?

Monday, November 10, 2008

Cheezburger of the Day

funny pictures of cats with captions
more animals

You Smile Now!

You! Stop sitting there! Click here! You go smile now! No more frowning, you see super happy lucky smile site and smile now!

Studying is a Personal Decision

Dig this.

Education spending and reading scores are clearly not strongly coupled. Click on the chart for a better view.

A friend of mine used to work in IT at a school district where the dropout rate was high and the students' performance was terrible. Money poured into the school and was spent like water. Nothing changed. Why?

Studying or staying in school is a personal decision, it is not a collective one. If a student and their parents don't care about school, then all the money in the world isn't going to change anything. If you're the kind of parent who doesn't go to report card night and talk to the teachers, the school could have a helipad and an astronomy observatory and you still wouldn't go. If you're a student and you smoke weed at lunch in the parking lot, the school could have holograph-generating computers teaching chemistry and you'd still be getting high with your stoner friends.

What the chart above shows is that we passed the point at which investment affects performance long, long ago. Everything added on from here on out is just a waste of money.

Chart used without permission from an article on school choice from the Heritage Foundation.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Where's Nancy Pelosi Going to get the Money?

So Nancy Pelosi's first budget was $162B in the red, her second was something like $406B in the red and this next one is supposed to be around $1T (that's right, one trillion dollars!) in the red. Who has that kind of money to lend to the government? And it's not just our government, it's governments all around the world who are having to borrow like mad. Dittos for states and counties and cities.

I'm really scratching my head on this one and wondering what to do with my money because of it. It seems to me that this level of borrowing is going to utterly dominate the financial world in the next year. I can only see two alternatives. Interest rates may go way up as the demand for money will outstrip the supply. The other possibility will be wild inflation as the Federal government prints money to make up the difference.

Fortunately, these kinds of developments don't happen overnight and one ought to be able to see them beginning. As I read through the financial blogs, I'm keeping my eyes open for just which way this is going and will continue to post updates and links here.

My NFL Teams all Stink

... so please help me pick someone to root for as we head towards the playoffs. My Saints, Packers and Chargers are all lousy this year and it looks like none of them will get into the playoffs. So as not to be a total front runner, I need to pick someone new to root for, but just for this year. Next year I go back to my normal teams.

Leave your suggestions and lobbying in the comments.

A Better way to go John Galt

"Going John Galt", derived from Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged, means to remove your talents and skills from the economy in response to the ever-increasing burdens, restrictions and guilt imposed on you by popular culture and the government. In the book, the innovative and highly-skilled people of the country gradually drop out of the rat race and the country falls apart.

It's an interesting idea, but it's way too passive and destructive for me. Instead, I suggest you starve your enemies of the resources they need and instead give them to your friends.

Case in point: my parish's Catholic school sent me a request for a donation that would provide scholarship money to low-income families that want to send their kids to Catholic school. That donation will be tax-deductible and accomplishes the intent of going John Galt with many added benefits.

First, it takes the fruits of my labor away from the government. If they want to fund the NEA to put crucifixes in urine or fund public schools to take field trips to lesbian weddings, they can do it without that much of my money. Am I a villain because I've worked hard and am doing fairly well for myself? They can't have my money.

Instead, I'll give it to organizations that will stand up and fight against moral equivalence and secular humanism. They can yap all they want in public school that all cultures and all family structures are equally good while Oakland falls into anarchy, but they can do it without that much more of my support. My money can go to an organization that teaches the kind of morality that would enable the people of Oakland to live happy, successful lives.

It's not enough to quit. That's a cheap and easy way out. It's not enough to engage in politics. The Republicans are not the answer. (See also: Stevens, Ted.) You've got to simultaneously starve your enemies of resources and give them to your allies.

Well, at Least now I Know

... but it's never been one of my top career choices.

Created by OnePlusYou - Free Dating Sites

Thanks to our Official Artist for pointing this one out. Stop by and see how well he did!

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Iowahawk Urges us to Celebrate the Obama Victory

... as opposed to my sour view of the whole thing. Here's a tidbit.

Yes, I know there are probably other African-Americans much better qualified and prepared for the presidency. Much, much better qualified. Hundreds, easily, if not thousands, and without any troubling ties to radical lunatics and Chicago mobsters. Gary Coleman comes to mind. But let's not let that distract us from the fact that Mr. Obama's election represents a profound, positive milestone in our country's struggle to overcome its long legacy of racial divisions and bigotry. It reminds us of how far we've come, and it's something everyone in our nation should celebrate in whatever little time we now have left.
Read the whole thing.

A Happy Cat

She doesn't want her belly rubbed, she does this as an expression of joy and contentment. It always makes me smile.

Dinner Last Night - a Preliminary After Action Report

So last night I made Cornish game hens with cornbread and crawfish stuffing from my Paul Prudhomme cookbook. How did it taste? Delicious! Nom nom nom nom!!!! Here's what it looked like:

More later.

Apparently, My Kids Have Committed Some Kind of Crime

... because they're being sentenced to 50 hours of mandatory community service.
The Obama Administration will call on Americans to serve in order to meet the nation’s challenges. President-Elect Obama will expand national service programs like AmeriCorps and Peace Corps and will create a new Classroom Corps to help teachers in underserved schools, as well as a new Health Corps, Clean Energy Corps, and Veterans Corps. Obama will call on citizens of all ages to serve America, by developing a plan to require 50 hours of community service in middle school and high school and 100 hours of community service in college every year.
I guess this has been airbrushed away and required has been changed to recommended and there's now a reward that goes with it.
Obama will call on citizens of all ages to serve America, by setting a goal that all middle school and high school students do 50 hours of community service a year and by developing a plan so that all college students who conduct 100 hours of community service receive a universal and fully refundable tax credit ensuring that the first $4,000 of their college education is completely free.
The fundamental problem here is that if the products and services created by the kids in their 100 hours of community service aren't worth $4000, then the remainder will have to be made up by taking the money away from the people that actually produce things of value. How will we afford this? Who is John Galt?

By the way, $4000 for 100 hours of service equals $40 an hour. How many adolescents produce $40 per hour worth of value to anyone? We're guaranteed to be getting far less than $40 per hour from these kids, so the productive people better start working even harder. Redistribution takes many forms, comrades! Perhaps after just a bit more of this kind of "change" we can even do away with that icky, militaristic national anthem we've got now and replace it with this one.

Aside: That YouTube link has the single, all-time greatest comment anywhere, ever. Commenter withoutcompare says this: "I think before the collapse of Soviet Union, Soviet Union should have attackted on The USA (sic). Love from Turkey." Translation: "I wish we'd had a full-scale thermonuclear war! Love from Turkey."


Friday, November 07, 2008

No Time to Blog

... busy cooking!

We're doing Cornish game hens with cornbread and crawfish stuffing. Photos tomorrow.

Just remember, dear readers...

It's all about the taste!

Always Keep a Camera With You

... especially if you like to photoblog.

Yesterday, I was on my way home from Costco, driving along Mission Bay. The sun had just set and there were no clouds to give a dramatic sunset. I had seen this before I had left home, so I left my camera at home. Instead, there was no wind and the water was like glass on Mission Bay, reflecting the orange glow of the sunset with palm trees all around as accents. It would have been simplicity itself to have pulled over and snapped a few shots.


I'm thinking of getting an inexpensive point-and-shoot camera that I'll keep in my glove box for occasions just like this.

It looked like this, only without the clouds and closer to the water and cool reflections of the palm trees on the water and the sun had already set and ... Oh, who am I kidding? It didn't look anything like this at all. I really wish I'd had a camera with me.

Update: If you want to see a photo done right, check this one out. It looks like the mountain is leaning into the wind.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

The Raiders Cut DeAngelo Hall, Plan to lay Down Like Dogs for the Rest of the Season

That Al Davis, he's one crafty fellow!
ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP)—The Oakland Raiders’ decision to waive DeAngelo Hall just eight games after signing him to a $70 million contract brought surprised reactions from his teammates who now wonder even more about the future of the franchise.

“I’ve never been in a situation where you cut one of the best players,” said safety Gibril Wilson, another of the team’s offseason acquisitions. “That’s strange to me. It’s almost like we’re throwing in the towel.”

The Markets Rally in a Massive Obama Bounce!

... at least I think it's a rally. It is, isn't it?

Hope! Hope and change!

I wish I'd cashed out on election day.

Update: This might have something to do with it.
Meanwhile, House Financial Services Chairman Barney Frank said in an interview that he is weighing tougher rules on shareholder rights and stricter conditions on the $700 billion financial rescue package.

Mr. Frank added that a central point of Democrats' plans would be the creation of a "systemic-risk regulator." It could have unprecedented powers over a wide range of financial institutions, from insurance firms to hedge funds ...
Excellent. More centralized control from the people that brought you the crisis in the first place.

Cheezburger of the Day

funny pictures of cats with captions
more animals

I should have cashed out on election day.