Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Roads to Personal Success

... seem to run in parallel.

Recently, I've taken to reading books (and listening to audiobooks) on achieving personal success and satisfaction. This stems from some work I'm doing with two of our children trying to help them set goals and develop plans for their own success. In the process of doing it, I've gotten interested in it myself. At work, I recently got the job I've spent years aiming for and now I find myself needing a new set of career goals.

To start, here's my current reading and listening list.

They all have common themes.

  • You need a roadmap for success.

  • You need written goals with a written plan to get to your goal.

  • Your plan should have dates associated with it.

  • Your plan should have lots of small steps to achieve your goal.

  • Your goals need to be your own, not someone else's.

  • You can't blame other people for your problems. We've all got obstacles to overcome, so overcome them and don't waste time complaining about it.

  • You have to have integrity in dealing with other people. Contrary to what you see in popular culture, most successful people are extremely honest and giving.
When I started down this path of reading and listening to these, I didn't realize how much they would have in common. To me, that's another indication that human lives have more similarities than differences. I found that through personal failure - I've come to the conclusion that there really aren't that many ways to screw things up and those ways are pretty well codified in Christianity as sins.

I've skipped many of the steps listed above in my own life, particularly the parts about writing things down. I've got the feeling that if I had done so, I could have achieved the successes I have in a much shorter period of time. It's hard to argue with multiple authors writing conclusions from independent research.

Just thought I'd share.

The Pundits Are Catching On

George Will has a good take on the State of the Union address with this gem buried inside.
Wednesday night's debut of Obama as avenging angel of populism featured one of those opaque phrases -- the "weight of our politics" -- that third-rate speechwriters slip past drowsy editors. Obama seems to regret the existence in Washington of ... everyone else. He seems to feel entitled to have his way without tiresome interventions in the political process by the many interests affected by his agenda for radical expansion of the regulatory state.
Elsewhere, lots of folks are picking up on what Peggy Noonan saw - the internal contradictions of someone who say Washington is broken, but Washington needs to fix all of our problems.

Cold Enough to Freeze the Wind

... or maybe just the wind turbines. Dig this.


Ed Morrissey at Hot Air has the details.
Minnesota invested itself in alternative energy sources years ago, and so the revelation that the state spent $3.3 million on eleven wind turbines hardly qualifies as news. However, the fact that they don’t work in cold weather does.
In the video, each turbine will power 35 homes. Assuming an $80 monthly power bill for each one, that works out to $2800 of retail electricity per month. Here I'm assuming that they use natural gas for heating and cooking. With a price tag of $3,300,000 for 11 wind turbines, each turbine cost $300,000. Each turbine will recoup it's cost in about 9 years, assuming no maintenance fees, an assumption that is clearly fantasy as illustrated in the video above. A capital improvement project that pays for itself in 10 years probably isn't such a bad idea, but I doubt this one will. I would bet that the internal workings of the turbines won't take so well to being frozen over and over again.

This brings up an interesting point about the two big alternative energy sources we want to use - solar and wind. You probably can't use them effectively anywhere that gets heavy snow and icing. Solar panels buried under snow won't produce any power at all and designing for the weight and freezing will make them cost that much more. If you assume that all wind and solar has to be produced south of a parallel drawn on the border of, say, Oklahoma and Kansas, that means that the denisty of such projects will have to more than double to make up for the lack of such projects to the north.

That's a lot of windmills and solar panels per square mile.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

The BCS Could Buy Immunity Pretty Easily

... if they just started every bowl game with a minor, unobtrusive, hardly-noticeable invocation from The One. It might look something like this.

Really now, is a little face time for our president before each bowl game too much to ask?

What am I talking about? Dig this.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Obama administration is considering several steps that would review the legality of the controversial Bowl Championship Series, the Justice Department said in a letter Friday to a senator who had asked for an antitrust review ...

"Importantly, and in addition, the administration also is exploring other options that might be available to address concerns with the college football postseason"
No, this isn't insane. Not at all.

Update: It's actually unfair to put this all at the feet of the voracious statists in the Obama Administration. Orrin Hatch (Dingbat R - Utah) was the one who made the original complaint.

Update 2: Our Monks of Miscellaneous Musings have a take on this spasm of fascism.

Snowy Mountains in Las Vegas

... from last weekend's soccer tournament.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Moar Lambsicles!

We're nomming on these tonight. It's one of our greatest hits!

Tierrasanta Sunset

How to Report the News

Hilarious!

Shrooms Before and After

... from the stuffed mushrooms I made earlier this week. I used this recipe from Cook's. It really needed fresh crabmeat instead of canned, but even with that it was a pretty bland dish. Topped with Crystal Hot Sauce, it perked up a bit.


Noonan on the SOTU

The Feline Theocracy's Holy Ambassador to the Court of the Mainstream Media, Peggy Noonan, has a great piece today analyzing the president's State of the Union speech. What I like most about Peggy is how she analyzes things as a professional and not an idealogue. Peggy was a speechwriter for Reagan and often has shrewd insights about what a speech means and the internal mechanisms by which it was crafted. Here was one of her best points on this one.
The central fact of the speech was the contradiction at its heart. It repeatedly asserted that Washington is the answer to everything. At the same time it painted a picture of Washington as a sick and broken place. It was a speech that argued against itself: You need us to heal you. Don't trust us, we think of no one but ourselves.
Italics in the original. It's a great point and one that illustrates the problem with being a populist and a statist at the same time, particularly when your party has had partial control over the government for the last 36 months and total control for the last 12.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

My Take on the iPad

I didn't see the presentation, but I've seen some of the preview videos and read some of the reviews. To me, the iPad seems a lot like a Lotus Exige. It's beautiful and would be fun to have, but it's got very limited utility.

On second thought, I'd rather have the Exige.

Canned Crab

Last night, I made stuffed mushrooms. I was running late, so I bought canned crabmeat instead of crab legs that had to be cracked open to get the meat. The result: meh.

I've never used canned crabmeat before, but after doing so, I wondered if anyone has ever made anything worthwhile with it. It's not that it tasted bad, it just didn't taste at all.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

This Is Just Weird

Here's President Obama meeting with his middle-class task force.


This is a joke, right? The guy shows up to meetings with his podium, presidential seal and his teleprompters?

What would you think of your boss if he showed up with teleprompters?

How It Starts

There is an absolutely outstanding article today by Steve Malanga that discusses how California might default on it's loans. It's not a rant against this politician or that, instead it's an examination of the mechanisms by which this has happened before in smaller instances. It's worth reading the whole thing, but this snippet in particular was instructive.
To understand what I mean it's worth looking at the whopping New York City default in the mid-1970s. Like California, New York spent years building up a spending regime that went beyond its resources, built on locked-in costs like employee pensions and municipal debt obligations that are not so easily cut or deferred, and which ultimately left city leaders with the politically unpopular choice of cutting services sharply or reneging on their other obligations.

Like California, New York addressed these problems initially by rolling them over into future years with accounting gimmicks and mounting borrowing that did nothing to fix the underlying, structural nature of the problem. When the end came, it was not because the city could not meet some single big debt payment. Rather, it was when officials recognized that enough investors had fled the city's debt instruments that New York could no longer float even short-term financing notes, the sort of borrowing that many governments engage in to smooth over the cycles in tax collections and other revenue streams that make paying bills tough.
There's another bit near the bottom of the article that is particularly appropriate given Obama's recent turn towards leftist, class-warfare rhetoric.
For one thing, when a budget crunch gets so severe that bondholders start to worry about their investments, it usually means that politicians are facing the choice between paying off a government's senior obligations and cutting services to the bone. Yes, the state's bondholders might be citizens, but under budget duress they will inevitably be characterized (rightly or wrongly) as rich citizens whose demands for payment are being made at the expense of those getting their programs and services cut.
Emphasis in the original.

I think Obama's reaction to the Scott Brown victory is instructive for California. He's grown more combative and is clearly digging in to fight an ideological battle in favor of yet more government control over the nation. The Democrats who control California are of the same ilk. The budget crisis has not changed their minds about setting rational limits on government power. Instead, as the crisis deepens, they've become ever more strident defending their bloated government programs. I'm a UCSD grad and I've been receiving frequent emails from them asking me to help them defend their budget from any kinds of cuts at all.

Clearly, their world view is beyond the reach of fiscal reality. Mr. Malanga is dead on - the rich capitalist pigs who own the California bonds are the ones who are going to take a beating.

These people look like they make decent money and might even be investors. They're probably out there trying to make a profit. Are you going to let them slash education and savage social services for the poor just so they can salvage their investment portfolios?

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Adverbs

Did you know that an adverb can modify a verb, an adjective or even another adverb? I didn't. I just discovered this while helping my daughter with her English.

Pesky adverbs.

And So It Begins

Dig this from the Wall Street Journal.
TOKYO—A leading credit-rating agency issued a dire warning to Japan's new government about the country's massive borrowing, threatening to downgrade the nation's sovereign debt unless policy makers find a way to pull the economy out of its deflationary spiral while curbing public spending.

The blunt statement from Standard & Poor's on Tuesday was the first formal declaration of concern from a ratings company about Japanese borrowing in the months since investors began to raise questions about the sustainability of government debt, estimated to have reached the size of the country's entire economic output for the year ending in March—the highest level in the industrialized world.
Mystifying to me is the statement, "unless policy makers find a way to pull the economy out of its deflationary spiral while curbing public spending."

Huh?

The Japanese economy (and ours, too) is like a colossal flywheel going in the direction of massive government spending. Getting the thing to turn around or stop or even just slow down will take an incredible amount of force. It's not like they can simply flip a switch and the problem will be solved. In fact, they're so far in debt that much of their spending is beyond even the realm of non-discretionary entitlements - it's interest on their loans.

Where was Standard and Poor's 10 years ago? That's when the alarm bells should have been sounded.

Questions for the QBs

... and everyone else associated with the Super Bowl.

As As Marques Colston's unofficial publicist, I cover the NFL here at The Scratching Post. Now that the Saints are in the Super Bowl, I've got something to write about!

Since we've got two weeks before the big game, the press will be trying to squeeze out every last, little story possible from both teams. Michael Lombardi over at NFL.com has gotten the ball rolling with this piece where he compares Peyton Manning to Michael Jordan.
His dominance of his sport is Michael Jordanesque because, like Jordan once did in the NBA, Manning controls the entire game. Manning might not play defense, but his ability forces opposing offenses to alter their thinking -- to adjust to the "Manning" factor. With Manning as the opponent, teams are living and dying on every play, hoping to tip one pass, hoping for one critical drop that can get the defense off the field. But it is all just hope, as there is never a plan to really stop Manning, at least not one I've seen.
I think we need to help these guys out a little bit. "How is Peyton Manning like Michael Jordan" is a good one, but they're clearly going to run out of topics if we don't suggest a few. Here are some to get you started before you leave yours in the comments.

  • How is Drew Brees like Bart Starr?

  • Can the Colts play as well as the '68 Jets?

  • Would the Saints defense have been able to stop the Rams' Greatest Show on Turf?

  • How is Joseph Addai like a green mamba?

  • Does Reggie Bush change his own oil?

  • If Peyton Manning was a sandwich, what type would he be?

  • Who's better, Aquaman, the Incredible Hulk or Robert Meachem?
There. I've got you started. Feel free to add your own.

Captchadef

Thanks to our good Monks of Miscellaneous Musings, we have this captchadef to offer.

bropen (n): A stable of male friends that can be dialed up at a moment's notice to hang out if one's signficant other is being a pain.

Thanks, Dean!

Protecting the, err, Innocent

At South Philadelphia High School, Asian students are getting attacked by black students. Here's the story from philly.com.
Inside is a cauldron of cultural discontent that erupted in violence last month , off-campus and lunchroom attacks on about 50 Asian students, injuring 30, primarily at the hands of blacks. The Asian students, who boycotted classes for more than a week afterward, say they've endured relentless bullying by black students while school officials turned a blind eye to their complaints ...

Asian students say black students routinely pelt them with food, beat, punch and kick them in school hallways and bathrooms, and hurl racial epithets like "Hey, Chinese!" and "Yo, Dragon Ball!"
Lest you think the MSM is falling down on the job, here's the local NBC affiliate's take on the story.
Dozens of Asian students were attacked and beaten in the hallways of South Philadelphia High School by a gang of other students Thursday.
Other than the victims, there's no mention of the racial aspect at all. That's probably wise. NBC is clearly protecting the rights of the accused the narrative they're trying to maintain about racial oppression going just one way.

Then again, the whole incident could have been cooked up by the Asians as another disgusting attempt to push the ... well, let's let the principal of that school describe it.
Principal LaGreta Brown, the school's fourth principal in five years, was cited for a discriminatory attitude, particularly for referring to the advocacy groups' efforts as "the Asian agenda."
Typical Asians. They probably want to educate themselves or something. Sickening.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Cheezburger of the Day

funny pictures of cats with captions
see more Lolcats and funny pictures

Che Lives!

This is another post from my Droid, so it's got to be short or I will lose track of the cursor in the edit window and really get it all tangled up.

A friend at work was wearing a Che t shirt the other day and we got to talking about that murderous nut. I just did a little surfing and came across this.

http://www.che-lives.com/home/modules.php?name=Content&pa=showpage&pid=2

It's unintentionally hilarious. Che starts by whining that he is accused of treating people like faceless blobs, denies it and then proceeds to go on at length about the Masses. It's a pretty instructive tract.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

More from Vegas

I'm having to start a new post because I can't find the cursor while editing the old one. Argh. The first game ended 4-0. We played a decent second half.

Liveblogging the Silver State Cup

I'm going to see if I can use blogaway on my Droid to liveblog our day today.

0853 - Having cold, leftover cheese pizza in our room prior to hooking up with the rest of the team.  Only the finest fare is laid out on our training table!

0902 - We're staying at the Flamingo, a tired, worn-out hotel. The carpets are dirty and there are burnt-out light bulbs in some of the fixtures. Vegans is tawdry by nature, but the Flamingo adds tattered on top of it.

0916 - Blogaway didn't work for this. Once published, your post is uneditable. Fortunately, the Droid has a good browser so I can edit in the normal blogger window.

1105 - I'm trying to find a way to insert images. I can't use the upload feature in blogger and Picasa won't give me the URL of uploaded images. Hmmm.

1314 - It's cool and clear at the fields with snow-dusted mountains in the background
The first game is less than stellar, we're down 3-0 at the half. We've got only 11 players here, so we have no subs. The girls are going to get tired and will struggle to score. Of course, we struggle to score under normal circumstances. .

Weekend in Vegas!

I'm in Vegas for the weekend, where my daughter's soccer team will be playing in the Silver State Cup. I'm going to try blogging from my Droid and will see if I can do posts bigger than a photo and a paragraph.

Update: Here's a big "Awwwwwwwww" for you.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Because It's Friday


... and Friday is the day for catblogging!


Blackouts in India?

I had no idea the power demand vs. supply situation was so bad over there. Dig these tidbits.

Bloomberg:
Jan. 20 (Bloomberg) -- NTPC Ltd., India’s biggest power producer, plans to spend 250 billion rupees ($5.5 billion) building generation plants next fiscal year to reduce blackouts in the nation...

NTPC, generator of a fifth of India’s electricity, needs to accelerate construction of power plants after failing to meet its target for adding capacity this year because of equipment delays.
From the BBC:
Power cuts have dented the image of India's high-tech capital Bangalore, and the blackouts could affect investment in the sector, according to a preliminary report from the global consultancy firm McKinsey.
From LiveMint and the WSJ:
Chandigarh: Underscoring the need to concentrate on energy security and infrastructure development, Union minister of state for external affairs Preneet Kaur on Thursday said the country needs to increase its power generation capacity five-fold to sustain the current growth rate.

“To sustain the current growth and leapfrog in the next decade,the two most important prerequisites that we need to focus on are energy security and development of infrastructure,” Preneet said while addressing a conference on Indo-Gulf organized by the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (Assocham).
With about three times as many people as the US, the scale of the increases in their power demand is staggering. The US uses about 3.29 terawatts of power at peak demand. Even if India ends up twice as efficient as we are, they'll need about 5 terawatts of power. Renewables won't even make a dent in that.

Renewables also trade space for power - wind and solar need lots and lots of room. India is smaller and more crowded than the US. The room isn't there even if you wanted to move to renewables.

The problem with the CO2 issue is that it's global. Strangling us here in the US will do no good if consumers with 6 times the population (India + China) are trying to expand their production capacities to the tune of terawatts. Even if you accepted that CO2 is a great peril to parts of the globe, there's just no way to stop its growth.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Cheezburger of the Day

The Human Spark on PBS - Dim and Flickering

So last night we watched an episode of the 3-part PBS series, The Human Spark. In it, sanctimonious creep Alan Alda explores what it means to be human by interviewing Ivy League academics who are studying the brain. It's a wonderful, if unintentionally instructive, look into modern science and academia. It showed scientists brilliantly mapping out the mechanisms of the brain while utterly floundering on the basic meanings of what they saw.

This little vignette is enough to illustrate the show. It's a part that shows how infants prefer good behavior over bad behavior, even in puppets. The segment lasts only 2:40 and encompasses all C. S. Lewis needed to convert himself from atheism to Christianity as detailed in his book, Mere Christianity.

Directly after this portion of the program, tweed-clad Ivy League academics condescendingly sneered at all religions, claiming that their research explained how it's all really based on humans anthropomorphizing objects and that there wasn't really that much difference between primitive animism and the religions of today. There was plenty of clucking about the unfortunate results of religious wars and, of course, the Crusades*.

As I watched the program, having just finished the first part of Mere Christianity where C. S. Lewis goes through the logical steps that led him to religion, I found it amazing that none of these scientists could make the same steps. It was as if that intellectual path was closed to them. It was right there in front of them and they turned around and walked away from it. I came to two conclusions.

1. They had never read any theology. No Aquinas, no Augustine, no C. S. Lewis. There was no way on Earth you could have been familiar with Lewis' work, performed those experiments and not begun to wonder about his conclusions. Somewhere in their education, they had been deprived of the genius of these and other thinkers, people who had considered the great questions of life from a different approach.

2. Much of what the scientists discovered is implicitly known by all of us. They gushed about how they had discovered that people like people who like other people and other stunningly obvious conclusions. Their technical work was fabulous, but their hubris matched it. Humility was completely absent as was any real sense of what they had discovered. Any parish priest I have ever met could have run rings around them when it came to human behavior.

In the end, Lewis, a simple infantryman from the Great War who had pondered the great questions of existence understood better the lab results of the brilliant physicists and chemists and biologists of our mightiest schools who actually performed the experiments.

Too much intellect for Harvard to handle?

* - Is it coincidence that the Islamists use the Crusades as a rallying cry, too? Is there something in Islamists and modern, secular Academics that they need to explain their failures by pointing out Christian, religious violence from hundreds of years ago?

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Japan's Future

... is well-analyzed in this video. Start around 3:50 and watch to the end.













The key fact is that a couple of percent increase in their interest rates will result in their debt service payments exceeding all of their tax revenues combined.

H/T: Mish

Cheezburger of the Day

The Best Scott Brown Victory Blog Post Of Them All

... can be found right here.

I am the Worst Griller on the Planet

This might not be blog-worthy and I don't have photos of my latest, scandalous incineration of meat to post and it may be out of place when everyone else is posting about Scott Brown's crushing victory in MA last night, but I am the worst when it comes to grilling.

Yesterday, I stopped by Sausage King, an iconic San Diego butcher shop run by a German couple who emigrated here and opened it right about the time the gunshots stopped echoing around the Reichstag. I bought 8 knockwurst and 8 bockwurst. I brought them home and proceeded to throw them into a pit of lava.

At least that's what it looked like.

I've got that grilling book, The Barbeque Bible and I tried to follow its suggestion for sausages, but my fire must have been too hot or something like that because half the recommended time per side for the little sausages turned out to be three times as much as they could stand. The end result was exasperated hilarity from all.

Sigh. I may need to actually do practice grilling when no one is around to get this thing right.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Brown In

... not Brown out. The dude won by 7 points. That's a pretty stunning victory in the blues of blue states, Massachussets. Wow.

Update: ABC News is covering the story in detail.
First Lady Michelle Obama came to Washington a year ago with an agenda: settle her family into a new life in the White House, focus attention on the challenges of the work- and family-life balance and reach out to military families.

Mission accomplished.

But it's her wardrobe choices that seem at times to draw the most attention and media coverage. From belted cardigans to sleeveless sheath dresses and bold-statement jewelry, Obama's style has been celebrated for its innovation and reflecting her age, 46, and her role as a working mother; functional yet fashionable, classic yet affordable.
Err, or something like that.

Is Colonialism Always Wrong?

Monday, January 18, 2010

Higher Fuel Costs Will Result In ...

... what? Paul Kedrosky posts a thoughtful video from Jeff Rubin that suggests that higher fuel costs will lead to more use of local labor. I'm not sure I agree.

Shipping costs will be impacted by fuel costs, but that's not the whole cost of shipping. There's the labor of the deckhands on the ship, the insurance for the vehicles, repair and upkeep and so on. Oil and gas are important, but a tripling of the price of fuel won't triple the cost of shipping.

Instead, wouldn't you expect shipping to expand and home delivery and telework to increase? It seems to me that the least efficient way to use fuel is to put me in my 3000# Nissan Altima and have me drive 15 miles each way to work or 2 miles to the grocery store. I've got to work and I've got to get food and there's no way our housing structure is going to be completely reworked to put me closer to where I need to go. I live in suburbia and it's totally irrational to think that we're going to tear all that down and build efficient, human anthills.

To me, this suggests that we're going to reduce individual transportation and replace it with more efficient delivery and telework to the extent that it is possible.

Does that make sense?

Yay! My ribeye steaks are here!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Well, This Would Give Them More Time To Play

George Will brings our attention to a staggeringly horrific idea being considered by Congress.
The awful idea is for Congress to divest itself of the core competence that the Constitution vests in it -- the power to make the taxing and spending choices that shape the nation. This power would be given to an 18-member panel assigned to solve the budgetary crisis.

Under legislation drafted by Sens. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., and Judd Gregg, R-N.H., and endorsed by 33 other senators, the Bipartisan Task Force for Responsible Fiscal Action would be composed of 16 members of Congress (four each selected by the House speaker and minority leader, and the Senate majority and minority leaders) plus the Treasury secretary and someone the president selects. The panel would propose spending cuts and tax increases to put the government on a glide path to solvency. The menu of proposals would be guaranteed an up-or-down vote -- no amendments permitted -- in both houses of Congress.
Under this law, they wouldn't even be expected to pass rational budgets. They could do absolutely anything they wanted. This is insane. The Republic has been in existence for over 230 years. Never, in all that time, has Congress been absolved of this duty. It's pathetic. Drafting a rational budget is their freaking job.

On the plus side, removing the hard parts of budget crafting would give them more time for other things. I think Congress would start to look something like this.

Here, we see congresscritters running and squealing with delight as they pass laws regulating transfat consumption, oil-fuel mixtures in lawnmowers, speed limits for ski boats, sharpness ratings for kitchen knives, carport safety standards, roofing tar odor limitations, tax breaks for artists who work in lanolin or wool, extending Head Start to age 3 2 1, building a lesbian Eskimo conference Center in Montana, making it illegal to use dog collars for the purpose of ...

Who Dat?

As As Marques Colston's unofficial publicist, I am celebrating our total domination of the Arizona Cardinals in the NFC Divisional Playoff game, 45-14. I've always been a big Reggie Bush fan and I was really glad to see him do so well yesterday. He looked like a different runner yesterday as he did a lot more north-south running than scurrying around looking like, well, me.

The Theocracy's Official Artist has made good on a bet he made with our Maximum Leader by posting something very beautiful on his blog. You can check it out here. All I can add to that wonderful graphic is this:

Who dat say dey gonna beat dem Saints?

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Japan's Debt Problem Is Our Debt Problem

A while back I posted a suggestion that the Yen was going to be in big trouble because the Japanese government had run up a positively monstrous debt, about three times the size of ours. Ambrose Evans-Pritchard has an article today going in the same direction. Israel's Financial Expert piles on.

I'm going to amend my original idea and suggest that instead, a debt-induced financial crisis in Japan will first manifest itself as a debt-induced financial crisis in the US. The reason for this may surprise you.

Japan owns almost as much US debt as China. China has $799B and Japan has $747B. The UK is a distant third at $230B. Before I go any farther, let's run a couple of excerpts from the posts linked above. First, Ambrose:
2010 will prove to be the year that Japan flips from deflation to something very different: the beginnings of debt monetization by a terrified central bank that will ultimately spin out of control, perhaps crossing into hyperinflation by the middle of the decade ...

Japan’s deficits are already within the hyperinflation “red flag” zone identified by historian Peter Bernholz (”Monetary Regimes and Inflation” .. the Bible on this subject).
And a little more doom and gloom from an earlier column of his.
The shocker will be Japan, our Weimar-in-waiting. This is the year when Tokyo finds it can no longer borrow at 1pc from a captive bond market, and when it must foot the bill for all those fiscal packages that seemed such a good idea at the time. Every auction of JGBs will be a news event as the public debt punches above 225pc of GDP. Finance Minister Hirohisa Fujii will become as familiar as a rock star.

Once the dam breaks, debt service costs will tear the budget to pieces. The Bank of Japan will pull the emergency lever on QE. The country will flip from deflation to incipient hyperinflation. The yen will fall out of bed, outdoing China's yuan in the beggar-thy-neighbour race to the bottom.
By the way, the Weimar hyperinflation was triggered by currency speculation, but that's another story. From Israel's Financial Expert, we get this prediction for the upcoming decade, written in the style of a person from the future looking back on the decade:
10. Japan's Government Bond Market Implodes- The Japanese government and economy got used to record low interest rate. But the combination of government debt reaching 230% of GDP and the ageing population cashing in via the pension funds on the government bonds cause a total implosion. In only 2 month the yield on 30 year government bond went up to 4% causing a panic selling and forcing the government to finally cut the deficit. The deficit cut where not enough, and Bank of Japan did what it knew best- printed money. Only this time, to there big surprise it resulted in inflation, and just ordinary inflation-hyperinflation. The markets discovered that they where worried about the wrong country. Japan became the first modern country in 21st century move towards hyperinflation
OK, so everyone is sufficiently lathered up about Japan's adoption of every screwball idea Paul Krugman has ever suggested. I quite agree, up to a point.

When the Japanese start struggling to service their loans, they may well begin to print money to the point where inflation kicks in. Hyperinflation doesn't just pop into existence overnight, it gradually comes upon you. As the Japanese see this storm coming, they're not going to just sit there and let it break upon them, they're going to cash in whatever they've got on hand in order to stop the slide. With about $750B of Treasuries handy, those things are going to get jettisoned long before hyperinflation hits Japan.

The real excitement won't be in Japan, it will be in the US. Imagine California on a larger scale with no Federal government to bail it out with Keynesian stimuli porktaculars. As a personal analogy, when the bank that holds your mortgage gets in trouble, it calls that mortgage due and then you've got to come up with the cash to pay them right away. The Japanese hold a big portion of our mortgage and they're sailing right into a typhoon*.

This is not a cause to panic, but a cause to prepare. The Dave Ramsey days are coming for the US where we'll have to live on rice and beans while we pay down our debts. It can be done by individuals and it can be done by nations as well. If Scott Brown wins the Senate seat in Massachussets, it will be a good sign that Americans comprehend what's going to be required to escape what an economically illiterate Obama is trying to do to the nation.

Rice and beans. Yum!

* - Does this post win for the worst mixed metaphor of the week?

Friday, January 15, 2010

Hilarious!

Watch this.

Being From San Diego, I Don't Quite Get It

What's all that white stuff on that fine, little convertible?

Maybe I Shouldn't Donate Blood, Either

Powerline has a priceless quote from the execrable Martha Coakley who is running for Fat Teddie's Senate seat in Massachussets. Talking about hospital workers who might have religious reasons for not performing some procedures (read: murdering unborn children), Coakley recommends that they find other lines of work.
WBSM Radio Host Ken Pittman: Right: if you are a Catholic, and believe what the Pope teaches, that any form of birth control is a sin...ah, you don't want to do that.

Martha Coakley: No we have a separation of church and state, Ken. Let's be clear.

Ken Pittman: In the emergency room you still have your religious freedom.

Martha Coakley: (...stammering) The law says that people are allowed to have that. And so then you can have religious freedom but you probably shouldn't work in the emergency room.
Emphasis theirs.

OK, then. Now I get it. I'll just donate blood and be signed up as an organ donor and then walk away, shall I? I'd hate to make things uncomfortable for anyone as they're pureeing infants in the back room. Wouldn't want that, would we?

Stop this idiocy. Support Scott Brown.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Ultimate in Green Living

... is illustrated by the trap door spider.


We should all live underground. Our Monks of Miscellaneous Musing have more.

Cheezburger of the Day

This one was titled, "Kitteh Meow Fail."

This is not the Zig Ziglar I Knew

I ordered a Zig Ziglar CD from an Amazon partner recently and I got a Zig CD case and two CDs with Zig cover art. When I went to move them to my PC, I discovered that Zig had changed quite a bit from the Zig I used to know. The actual digital content on the CD was from what seems to be Zig's other audio recording career - the one with a gangsta rap group.

Apparently, Southern Christian motivational speaker Zig Ziglar has joined the rap group The Mexakinz.

See, this just goes to show what a mistake it's been for me to eschew reading the newspaper. I'm sure this was all over the front pages. Although, I must confess, lyrics like this from Zig Ziglar leave me a bit confused.
Murdah, murdah, murdah, the (hyphenated bleep) murdah
Murdah, murdah, the (hyphenated bleep) murdah
Murdah, murdah, the (hyphenated bleep) murdah
The (hyphenated bleep) murdarah

Yes! It's your wake up call, so bust a glock to get to heaven
You never came up? They run you 1-8-7
You choke when I slash your throat, I take it as a joke
I laugh, cause after that you might get smoked
Then I put cha on a table, and I'll chop you up to pieces
I do it in a hustle, make you feel like a puzzle
And nobody can put you back together again
Next it'll be your family, then I'll get your friends
Oh Zig, what happened to you?

Update: After reading their lyrics and seeing some of their photos, I can now understand the point of view of the multiculturalists and moral relativists. Really, Tha Mexakinz are not all that different from Hoagy Carmichael except for the talentless braying about the glories of murder and rape. Oh well, who are we to say that one thing is better and the other worse?

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Cheezburger of the Day

Vintage Zig

While looking for some Zig Ziglar videos on goal setting, I came across this one which I thought was funny and charming. Enjoy.

It's OK, Because They Cared About the Poor

... and they cared about children and the environment, too. When it was time to spend money on education and welfare and green technologies, they didn't stand up and yap about corporations or profits or jobs or revenues or silly stuff like that. No, they cared.

Greece.
Jan. 13 (Bloomberg) -- The Portuguese and Greece economies may face a “slow death” as they dedicate a higher proportion of wealth to paying off debt and investors demand a premium to hold their bonds, Moody’s Investors Service said.
California.
Jan. 13 (Bloomberg) -- California’s hopes are fading for federal help in closing a projected $19.9 billion deficit that has caused the lowest-rated state’s borrowing costs to rise 26 percent in three months ...

Investors are growing more concerned that California, the world’s eighth-largest economy, will repeat last year’s fiscal crisis that forced it to use IOUs to pay bills ... “There’s a huge amount of concern about California,” said Howard Cure, who helps handle municipal-bond investments for Evercore Wealth Management in New York, which oversees $1.5 billion. “There’s a relatively large reliance on hoping that the federal government will send extra money their way. It’s going to be very politically difficult for that to happen.”
I'll bet there are a lot of you out there who didn't care. You know who you are, you greedy fatcats.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Cheezburger of the Day

Solving Air Travel Safety and Health Care in One Fell Swoop

Bombs on planes! Not enough health care! Out-of-control health spending plans! X-ray machines at the airports! It's total chaos, I tell you. The Scratching Post's crack editorial staff is here to help.

Quite simply, I recommend that we combine airports and hospitals. Every passenger on every airplane should get a full physical before boarding. No more of this "put your laptop in the bin" nonsense, we're going for "please strip down and put on this gown that ties in the back." X-ray the passengers? Please. What if the x-rays reveal a stress fracture in your leg? Did you think the TSA rent-a-goons were going to diagnose that? Hardly.

So there you have it. The perfect combination of safety and health for all. For those who can't afford to fly, we taxpayers* would pay for every American to fly at least once a year.

Problems solved!

TSA Health Services recommends that you show up at the airport at least a month before your flight!

* - well, really, it's the Chinese and the Fed paying for it. Who are we kidding here?

Monday, January 11, 2010

Without Green, Green Fades To Black

Despite previous snarks, I am sympathetic to the green cause. I'm a big fan of open spaces and native flora and fauna. I'm concerned about the environmental damage being done in China and other places where money is pursued regardless of the poisons dumped onto the land and into the water. Having said that, there are financial realities that you can't avoid.

Dig this.
The San Jose Mercury News has an entertaining story on BART defectors, solid Bay Area liberals who have given up on the Bay Area Rapid Transit system:
For three years, Veronique Selgado took BART from the East Bay to her job working for an airline at San Francisco International Airport. But she recently switched to driving because BART raised fares and upped its SFO round-trip surcharge from $3 to $8, boosting her daily trip cost to nearly $20.

"It's outrageous," Selgado said. "At what point do they stop raising the prices, when it's $50 a day to go round-trip to work? At what point does BART stand back and say, 'People can't pay that much to commute'?"
Unfortunately for Selgado, BART fares are in fact too low. The system is so far from being self-sufficient that it required $318 million in local, state and federal tax support in 2009 [pdf].
This is just the tip of the green iceberg. The solar power plants, the wind generators, the electric vehicles, all of them are recipients of subsidies that are dependent on the government having enough discretionary money to spend on such things. Once the state is $20B in the hole and the Federal government is $1.5T in the hole, these projects are going to get cut, either through outright budget cuts or inflationary printing of money. It turns out that sustainable energy is not sustainable.

Now that we're reaching a breaking point with our finances, the green fantasies we've been taught to believe are turning out to be no more real than the Easter Bunny. And he wants his money back.

Big Predators

... are a lot like little predators.



Afternoons are for napping.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

A Solution to the Race Problem

So Harry Reid is having to apologize to Barack Obama now.
Senator Harry Reid, the Democratic majority leader, apologized on Saturday for once predicting that Barack Obama could become the country’s first black president because he was “light-skinned” and had “no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one.”
I'm trying to figure out what the big deal is here. It's like any mention of skin color forces an immediate series of accusations and apologies. In view of that, I've got a proposal.

Let's eliminate all references to race and simply use 8-bit RGB values every time we want to mention skin color. Instead of light-skinned, Barack Obama would be "128-144-132 or higher." The Washington Redskins would become the Washington "200-154-143s." I think that would work perfectly. The conversations would be so incredibly confusing that no one would ever really know what anyone else was talking about. They'd be too busy translating RGB values into a color palette in their heads to ever take offense.

You're welcome.

Soccer Game 1: 8-0 Win

My Catholic school girls' soccer team had their first game yesterday. We won, 8-0, or something like that. It was at least 8, maybe as much as 10. I called off the dogs early in the second half, but we've got so many club players that no matter what I did, there was always one or two at forward or mid. They sliced right through the other team's rec-level defense and blasted shots past a dazed goalie.

My best defender plays stopper on a premiere-level team and she has an absolute cannon for a leg. I figured she'd feel out of place at forward, so I put her there once the score started mounting. She practically decapitated their goalie with a couple of 50 MPH shots.

My own daughter who normally plays right mid on her club team wanted to play defense for us. She was unsure of her skills and resisted playing stopper (the front, center defensive position), but I put her there for the second half anyway and she just took over the middle of the field. It was great to see her confidence shoot up as she realized that the last two years of practice were paying off.

As for the rest of the team, I've got one girl who is on the Olympic developmental team. I thought she was good last year. She was. She's simply on another planet now. Watching her go up against rec-level players is just mind-blowing. I've got another premiere-level forward who showed up for the second half after playing for her club team. She pranced in with her usual breezy style, begged to play forward and scored two goals in about 90 seconds. I promptly moved her to defense where she languished the rest of the game.

This ought to be a fun season.

The Hummingbird Exhibit

... at the San Diego Zoo was my favorite stop when we visited on New Year's Day. First, I love small, colorful birds. I love their perky movements, their energy and activity. The hummingbird exhibit is a good-sized aviary with hummingbirds and some colorful, tropical birds, most about the size of sparrows. The aviary is big enough that the birds don't seem to know they're enclosed. It's paradise for them. There's lots of jungle foliage, a stream running through it, plenty to eat and no predators.

My favorite.

I took lots of photos, but they moved so fast that most of them came out blurred. On top of that, they were typically silhouetted against a light background of netting and sky, so they did not show up well. Out of about 40 photos, these were the only two of any quality. I confess I have no idea what these two little guys are.

I wonder what he or she was thinking.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Thad Kousser, Please Call Home

Dear Thaddeus is a visiting professor of political science at Stanford. For that title alone, we should forgive him his idiocies. PoliSci is not exactly a magnet for productive, wise and creative individuals. Poor thing, it may have been the only degree he could attain. I'll try to be gentle*.

Here's Tad's take on the Governator's latest dingbat proposal, excerpted from the LA Times.
At the center of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's State of the State speech Wednesday was a proposal that outside of Sacramento might seem like common sense: Mandate that the state invest more dollars each year in its public universities than in locking people up in prison ...

"In concept, it absolutely makes sense to everyone," said Thad Kousser, visiting professor of political science at Stanford University. But "when you look at the trade-offs that the state might face to get there, it gets a lot harder."
No, Thad, it doesn't make sense, not even in concept. Thanks in part to the blithering idiots all around you in academia and the brainless multiculturalism and moral equivalence they've embraced, we've wrecked the American family and found ourselves with a monstrous prison population.

I blame Bush. And racism. But mostly Bush.

Thaddeus, my dear boy, it makes no sense at all to try and keep up with the galloping incarceration rates by funnelling vats of cash down the gullet of the education system. We've been trying, that, too and the results have been poor.

This is clear proof that Republican administrations slashed education spending. Or maybe not.

You see, Tad, education outcomes and prison populations are tied to cultural behavior patterns. If you wreck the traditional, nuclear family, you're screwed on both counts. I'm not sure if our dear PoliSci genius is married with children**, but if he is, he might want to call home and suggest to his wife that they get a divorce so she can raise the kids on her own. That way Thaddeus can show us all how raising kids with half the labor force and half the income of a traditional family doesn't lead to worse results. If that's not possible, then he ought to call a neighbor who is and make that suggestion.

I'd love to hear how that goes. In the meantime, linking education spending to prison spending with, say, a 10% bonus to education will bankrupt us. Sort of like what the moral relativists and multiculturalists have done to our society already.

* - Well, not really.

** - Here's his UCSD faculty page. He got his PhD from Berkley, which explains a lot. As an alumni of UCSD, the fact that he teaches there explains even more. I'm sure his kind of analysis goes over real well at the Che Cafe, a UCSD bistro that celebrates the life of Che Gueverra, a fellow who liked to shoot people like Thad in the head. With real guns, too!

Update: Our Monks of Miscellaneous Musings have their own take on this gibberish proposal. Of course, just like Sarah Palin's real-world experience can hardly hold a candle to President Obama's Olympian academic credentials, Dean can hardly consider himself in the same mental class as Thaddeus.

NFL Playoff Picks for the Wildcard Round

As As Marques Colston's unofficial publicist, I am here to give you my insider's take on the NFL playoffs this weekend. Here are my picks.

NY Jets over Cincinnati. I love a good defense and a good running game and the Jets have both. Their running game will take the pressure off of their not-ready-for-prime-time QB. Cincy will struggle to score against the stifling D of the Jets.

Dallas over Philly. I can't stand Tony Romo. He's incredibly inconsistent, so this game is a coin flip for me except for one thing. I don't believe in McNabb, either. If I was Philly, I'd be playing Michael Vick all the time.

New England over Baltimore. I can't bet against Tom Brady at home, Wes Welker or no Wes Welker.

Green Bay over Arizona. The suspect Packer defense will slow down the one-dimensional Cardinals just enough to let Aaron Rodgers score the points needed for a win.

There you go. I'd love to hear your picks, so feel free to leave them in the comments.

Garra Rufa, Wesley Mouch and the Lewis and Clark Expedition

I want a fish pedicure. It's a Turkish invention where tiny garra rufa fish nibble the dead skin off of your feet. It looks like this.


I don't have an issue with the skin on my toes, I just like the thought of tiny fish nibbling at my toes. I'd pay for that.

According to John Stossel, fish pedicures are illegal in 14 states.
This is a dubious Turkish idea that's become popular in Asia and is now trying for a foothold (pun intended) here. Instead of scraping dead skin off their feet, people have little garra rufa fish gently chew on them.

Fourteen states have banned fish pedicures, claiming they are unsafe, and other local governments have proposed bans. OK, compared to the assault on entrepreneurship described in Atlas Shrugged, this is sort of a dumb example, but look—I work in television—dumb examples can make good points.

The bureaucrats say the fish can't be sterilized without killing them. They say customers will get infections. People could die! It's not safe! And it's cruel to the fish!

Has anyone died? Can you refer me to someone who got an infection? Anyone? The bureaucrats' answer is always no. But it's better to be cautious, they say.
John uses this example in his essay on Atlas Shrugged, wondering who in the current government is Wesley Mouch, the character from that book who was an endlessly interfering and economically illiterate busybody. In the book, he becomes the economic dictator of the US and kills the economy with mountains of regulations. (My pick for this role is Barney Frank.)

I used to work at pet stores as the fish expert and I've swam in lakes. In both cases, fish have nibbled at me. I'll admit, there were quite a few times when I saw people flee the store or lake in a panic after seeing others devoured by neon tetras or smallmouth bass fingerlings.

Err, maybe not. (Here's where we go off on a really wacky tangent.)

How in the world did we ever get to this point? How did the country that sent the Lewis and Clark expedition off into the wilderness ever get to be such a pack of timid bedwetters that we're afraid of tiny fish? What's wrong with us? It's like we've gone completely insane with the desire to make sure every last, little risk is removed from life.

The US was made great by people like Merriwether Lewis, William Clark, Teddy Roosevelt, Daniel Boone and the like. What kind of country would we be today had the skillet-licking mama's boys who make these laws been in charge back then?

So I've decided I'm going to get a fish pedicure. I checked out the Dr. Fish website and discovered that if I'm going to do it, I'll probably have to wait for a business trip back east and get one in Virginia. I'll be sure to photo or videoblog it when I do.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Bedtime!

Another Right-Wing News Outlet Unfairly Attacks The One!


Ted Turner is just another Rethuglican honk, if you ask me.

The Feline Theocracy Endorses Scott Brown for US Senate

Here in San Diego, we're a long way away from Massachusetts, but as a nation, we're closing in on Federal tyranny. (See also: Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, illegal, unlimited spending of.) On January 19, there's going to be a special election in Massachusetts to find a replacement for Ted Kennedy. It would be a cataclysmic repudiation of the galloping power grabs by the Obama Administration if Republican Scott Brown won.

Man, does this country ever need something like that.

Long-time blog friends Legal Insurrection and Sissy Willis have been leading the social networking charge for Scott. If he wins, we owe them all a big debt of gratitude. Thanks for fighting the good fight, guys!

Here at The Scratching Post, we unhesitatingly support Scott Brown for Senate. Please contribute to his cause if you can!

It is a catwa! You must support Scott Brown!

How Did St. Francis of Assisi Ever Get Any Sleep?

Or Noah, for that matter?

Every night I go to bed in a California King-sized bed and by the middle of the night, I'm sleeping in a tiny sleeping bag, surrounded by animals. I can't roll out of bed any more, I have to struggle out of the top of the covers and then slither off the bottom as if I'm in a tent in the wilderness.

Allow me to explain.

After I go to bed, there comes a mighty THUMP! as a 28-pound Bodie the Wonder Dog jumps onto the bed and curls up, on top of the covers, leaning against my left thigh. A bit later there's a slightly lighter THUMP! as our 16-pound Maximum Leader jumps onto the bed and curls up, on top of the covers, pressed against my right mid-section.

The end effect is that the covers are bound around me tightly all night. Turning over is very difficult, curling up is even harder and rolling out of bed is impossible. Last night, we discovered the heater was still on and I had to slither out from under the covers through the top and then slide down off the bottom of the bed to go turn it off. As I did so, the animals just watched me and wondered why I had disturbed them.

Sleep? Why do I need sleep? I'm just a pillow for God's lovely creatures. Lord, make me an instrument of their peace, or something like that.

Fly to Starbucks, my little friend, and bring me back a venti cappuccino! No, make that two venti cappuccinos!

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

It's Called "Forgery"

... when you print the money to buy your own products. Or is it "money laundering"?
The Fed is on track to purchase $1.25 trillion of mortgage backed securities, and has said it plans to complete the purchases by the end of March. The purchases have helped to drive down mortgage interest rates, providing an important boost to housing and financial markets. When the Fed stops buying, mortgage rates could turn higher.
Now that the Federal government owns Fannie and Freddie outright, this is just printing money to cover your bills. If you or I did this in our basements, we'd be arrested.

From the comments on that article comes this gem:
The market value of the $1.25 trillion of CMO's was and now is is?

The cash flow from the $1.25 trillion of CMO's is?

The fine print liability in the CMO’s is?

The fees paid in buying the CMO or the bid and asked spread on the CMO's was?

Better get some answers here before a few fat cats have all the marbles and the FED has to close its doors and run for it.

Answer: Your state is chiefly populated by swine.

Here's the question:
Entering his final year of office, Mr. Schwarzenegger proposed sweeping reforms to the state's budget, tax and prison systems. He said he would push for privatization of state prisons, saying it could save the state billions of dollars annually.

He also proposed a constitutional amendment that would bar the state from spending more on prisons than it does on higher education. "What does it say about a state," he asked, "that focuses more on prison uniforms than cap and gowns?"

Truth in Advertising

I took this video with my Droid on Monday while at work.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Caption the Capybara

... in the comments, of course.

Update: I bumped this one back up to the top because it's fun. Hooray for fun!

Fannie, Freddie and the Press

I don't have much time to blog today, but I found something linked on the Puppy Blender's site that echoes something I posted a while back. Here's the intro:
Over the Christmas holiday a nasty thing happened: Tim Geithner’s Treasury Department decided to lift the cap on aid to the Government-Sponsored Entities, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, apparently in response to Obama administration fears that the two agencies would become insolvent. The cap was raised from $200 billion on each and government backstopping of the mortgage market will apparently now extend into infinity for at least three years, through 2012.
Here's the analysis:
That is a terrible story and it is also sort of a taboo story, since we don’t really have a system of media now that is willing or even able to digest that dark and complicated truth. Instead, our media — which has always been at best an inadvertent accomplice to these messes — is basically set up to take every revelation about the underlying truth and split it down the middle, feeding half to one side of the political spectrum and one half to the other, where the actual point is then burned up in the useless smoke of a blame game.
It's not about Republicans or Democrats or what they think or who's going to be elected, it's about the cold reality of accountants' calculations and what we're going to have to pay because of this madness.

Update: B-Daddy has more.

Monday, January 04, 2010

More on Rare Earth Metals

I'm hoping Tim stops by and leaves a link or three to some sites that would do a better job than this of educating one about how rare earth metals are processed. In the meantime, here's what I've found out about just what it takes to build all those green devices like Priuses and windmills.

Update: The video below has some cheap shots designed to inflame people who are ignorant of mining technologies used in the US. Tim stopped by and left a comment, part of which I've excised and included below.


Here's how you extract Tantalum and Niobium. Don't try this at home, kids!
The extraction and refining of tantalum, including the separation from niobium in these various tantalum-containing mineral concentrates, is generally accomplished by treating the ores with a mixture of hydrofluoric and sulfuric acids at elevated temperatures. This causes the tantalum and niobium values to dissolve as complex fluorides, and numerous impurities that were present also dissolve. Other elements such as silicon, iron, manganese, titanium, zirconium, uranium, thorium, rare earths, et c. are generally present. The filtration of the digestion slurry, and further processing via solvent extraction using methyl isobutyl ketone (MIBK) or liquid ion exchange using an amine extractant in kerosene, produces highly purified solutions of tantalum and niobium. Generally, the tantalum values in solution are converted into potassium tantalum fluoride (K2TaF7) or tantalum oxide (Ta2O5). The niobium is recovered as niobium oxide (Nb2O5) via neutralization of the niobium fluoride complex with ammonia to form the hydroxide, followed by calcination to the oxide.
Emphasis mine. As an almost-chemist (I took about 48 units of it in college), any time I see mounds of ores being washed by acids, I wonder how in the world the runoff can be processed into anything that can be re-released into nature. No wonder the process is blighting the areas downstream. I also wonder how much ammonia you need for the last process. That, too, is something you can't just pour into the rivers.

All of this leads me back to the VDH piece I've been linking to quite a bit lately and makes me generalize it to the whole green movement.
And then tragically Obama got elected and discovered that the real world had no relationship whatsoever to his fantasy impressions of it. In a cosmos of radical Islam, Chinese bankers, Japanese exporters, and Arab oil producers, there were no more law school profs, Rev. Wrights, or Chris Matthews and Newsweek editors to wink and nod and reassure Obama that his mellifluous but empty rhetoric allusions were at all reality-based.
Maybe turning big chunks of land into a wasteland (reality) in order to prevent something that isn't happening or at least isn't a real threat to anyone (broadly-accepted fantasy) isn't such a good trade-off. Nukes, anyone?

Update from Tim's comment: "Mining and processing in general gets a pretty bad rap, and things like the rather breathlessly shocked video that you linked to don't really help matters. Metals extraction can be done cleanly and safely, and for the most part the mining in the US *is* done pretty well. For example, acid leaching is well-developed technology for copper, and is handled without major acid spills simply by paying attention to the whole what-goes-in-must-come-out principle. This is helped by the fact that there really is a way to deal with acids - just neutralize them with a cheap alkali, like limestone, and then run it through your water-treatment plant."

What Do The Big Kittehs Do?

... when they're done working hard at looking majestic?


Why, the same as the little kittehs, of course. They nap!

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Pedicure

An elephant at the San Diego Zoo gets some special attention.

There's No One To Say, "No!"

Another head-scratcher.
The debt limit is the last semblance of fiscal responsibility for a Congress that has essentially abandoned it. But the effort was only a fig leaf, a pretence at budget control, immediately circumvented by the administration. Just after the debt ceiling increase, the Treasury announced, without consulting Congress, that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac would get unlimited funding for the next three years for emergency aid to the housing market, "to assure markets of the government's support."

The translation of bureaucratic prose into ordinary speech is quite simple: the administration does not feel bound by congressional debt limits. It will spend as it sees fit. The next time Congress considers raising the debt ceiling, a few members may wonder aloud what difference the debt ceiling makes when the administration brazenly ignores it.
What's the mechanism to prevent this? There are laws on the books that forbid the government from borrowing money past the debt limit, but enforcement lives within the Executive branch. If there is no enforcement, then there are no laws from a practical point of view. How in the world would anyone be able to make this all stop? Sue the Federal government?

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Nature is Beautiful

We went to the zoo yesterday and saw some of God's most inspiring and majestic creations.



This slob wasn't one of them.

If Your Prius Was Any Greener

... it would glow in the dark.

Legal Insurrection has a great pair of posts on the topic of the rare earth elements necessary to build all of the "green" doodads so beloved in the media. Here's a couple of snippets.

From the NYT:
GUYUN VILLAGE, China — Some of the greenest technologies of the age, from electric cars to efficient light bulbs to very large wind turbines, are made possible by an unusual group of elements called rare earths. The world’s dependence on these substances is rising fast.

Just one problem: These elements come almost entirely from China, from some of the most environmentally damaging mines in the country, in an industry dominated by criminal gangs.
How eco-unfriendly are these metals? Dig this.
Miners scrape off the topsoil and shovel golden-flecked clay into dirt pits, using acids to extract the rare earths. The acids ultimately wash into streams and rivers, destroying rice paddies and fish farms and tainting water supplies.
I feel better about my windmills and hybrid cars already!

There's tonnes* more fun to be had. Rather than go on much longer, I'll stop with the Hall of Fame quote from the bunch.
Environmentalists argue that this, coupled with widespread criticism of China's stance during the Copenhagen climate summit, adds to the need for a "plurality" of rare earth resources. One campaigner said: "There are legitimate questions over Beijing's control of these resources. Copenhagen showed they are not above putting national interest ahead of global efforts to curtail global warming."
Geeze, dude, put down the bong for a bit and let your head clear. Have a soy latte and think for a minute. The Chinese own the stuff. They're selling the stuff. So they can, you know, make, like, profits and stuff. Whoa! It's like the Maoist dudes have gotten greedy, man! How bogus is that?

That VDH piece I linked to earlier today seems more and more prescient all the time.

* - Each wind turbine requires two tonnes of Neodymium.
Neodymium, one of the most common rare earths, is a key part of neodymium-iron-boron magnets used in hyper-efficient motors and generators. Around two tonnes of neodymium are needed for each wind turbine.
The best way to divest yourself of a non-renewable resource is to devour tonnes of non-renewable resources! Err, or something like that.