Tuesday, January 31, 2012

How Is This Even Possible?

Demonyc Probably Believes In The Landscape

From an NYT article on Mormons comes this lovely bit of self-regard.
demonyc - If other Chrstians and Christianists look at Mormons swallowing those stories about viewing stones and tablets and all the rest of it, I wonder if there's a batsqueak of self recognition that their own beliefs came to them from the same technique; indoctrination, peer pressure, and fear of not conforming to an enveloping culture.

Because science is, you know, so science-y and logical and not prone at all to peer pressure and conformity.
(T)his has created a sort of sense of denial about the facts about the theory. The theory is going to win, and physicists who are trying to deny what's going on are going to lose.
The Landscape, in case you didn't know, is a belief that says we all live in a pocket-universe that ... oh I give up. Here it is in all it's glory.
Theory 2: String Landscape. The laws of physics and initial conditions of the universe are chosen at random from among 10^500 possibilities, only a vanishingly small fraction of which (probably no more than one in 10^120) can support life. The universe we observe, which is infinite in extent and may contain regions where the laws of physics differ, is one of an infinite number of causally disconnected “pocket universes“ which spontaneously form from quantum fluctuations in the vacuum of parent universes, a process which has been occurring for an infinite time in the past and will continue in the future, time without end.
Spontaneously forming imaginary pocket universes. Yes. Of course. Now everything makes sense. Thank you, Mr. Scientist.

Life Is Like The Pie Fight Scene In The Great Race

... it's inherently ludicrous.

Over on Ricochet, someone brought our attention to a series of posts running on Slate describing some of the more, err, unusual aspects of Mormonism, prompted by Mitt Romney's candidacy. Many are written with fake respect, from a very erudite and seemingly unbiased point of view, but since they only deal with the more unusual parts of the faith, there is a strong undercurrent of scorn and derision.

That we exist at all is simply preposterous from beginning to end. The constants that govern the Universe and permit us to enjoy Newcastle United soccer are so finely tuned that any attempt at rationalizing our infinitely improbable existence is going to end up looking foolish. For example, some atheists believe that there are an infinite number of imaginary, err, invisible, err, perfectly plausible universes and we just happen to inhabit this one. Some agnostic secularists think we can create a civil and just society through reason and rationality alone, with no need for religion.

Now that you've picked yourself up off the floor and wiped the tears of laughter from your eyes, I'll continue.

Every belief system can be made to seem ridiculous because life is ridiculous. Like that sequence in The Great Race, it makes no sense, it cannot be explained, it simply has to be experienced with amazement, gratitude and wonder while philosophers and scientists earn their pay struggling with The Meaning Of It All.

Some Buddhists believe that true enlightenment can be achieved only after you understand why watching Peter Falk just slam Jack Lemmon in the face with a pie at point-blank range at about 3:53 makes you laugh every time you see it.

Monday, January 30, 2012


Now Orbiting The Planet Citron

... at least that's what this photo made me think of.

Prepare to beam down with a landing party, Spock!

I wonder if the skins of oranges are like fingerprints - no two are alike.

If We Don't Defeat The Future, We Will Face Dinosaurs With Laser Guns

Can there be any doubt?

If this isn't an argument in favor of blowing hundreds of billions on pointless high-speed rail, nothing is. Without money, people of the future will be forced into subsistence farming and will be unable to develop laser guns and time travel!

Sunday, January 29, 2012


Defeat the Future!

From yesterday's post asking where we'll get the money for these bailout funds comes this gem by HVTs:
You are so last century! Money rains down from "the future." You sell a bond, print some currency and let future generations sort out the details. Get with the program, man! Worry about your carbon footprint, not where money comes from.
Hilarious! That opens up a whole new series of posts - Defeat the Future!

In the future, people may have superior technologies like laser guns and time travel. If we allow them to achieve these, they might come back in time and conquer us! Our only hope for survival is to defeat the future before it happens. Luckily, we've got a leader who understands this.

You can't develop time travel with no money, sucker!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

On A Moon Base

I love the idea. A moon base will not fill our bellies, build us a new kitchen, help us surf the web faster or allow us to have more and better orgasms. It’s just exploration, adventure and opening a new frontier to all of Mankind. That’s something that America used to do.

Yes, But From Where?

Tim Geithner, like Christine Lagarde of the IMF, wants Europe to add more money to their bailout fund.
DAVOS, Switzerland (Reuters) - Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner pressed Europe on Friday to boost its bailout fund resources, citing the euro zone debt crisis and oil prices as the two main factors influencing the pace of the United States' economic upturn.
From where, exactly, will this money come?

Friday, January 27, 2012

In A Funk

I've been in a funk lately, at home, at work and everywhere else. I don't feel like doing much of anything. I don't know about you, but when I accomplish some major goal, I fall back into a torpor until something excites me again. For about two years, my driving purpose was helping my daughter do well in school and make the high school soccer team. I spent lots of time, money and thought on this and now that it's paid off, all I want to do is lay around and watch English Premier League soccer.

Like this.

Do successes make you funkadelic?

Mitt Romney Is Driving Me Out Of The Republican Party

I've been a Republican for more than 30 years. I dutifully supported Bob Dole and John McCain. My car sports a Fred Thompson bumper sticker, hence the moniker, the FredMobile.

I'm on the verge of leaving the party because of Mitt Romney.

It's not just that I find the fellow to be loathsome in the extreme and wonder what he's up to with his presidential obsession, it's that the entire Republican establishment has told me I need to support him. Why? If he was the second coming of Barry Goldwater, I'd understand it. He's not. He's a hyper-wealthy weasel with no core values who simultaneously puts on a cloak of piety and runs a vicious and dirty campaign.

The grand poobahs in the Republican Party could have stayed neutral. There was nothing forcing them to support a candidate. They knew Mitt was disliked by many and yet they all decided to rally around him. Again, he's not a principled conservative like Goldwater, he's just a standard-issue politician. What's behind all of this?

I don't know and it creeps me out. There's a better than even chance that I'll be writing a "Why I Left The Republican Party" post in the near future.

I hope he was worth it for them.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Next Generation Of Police Helicopter

Give this guy some decent sensors and you can forget about escaping the crime scene on foot unless you can get into a building. Give it a spray paint gun, it could tag you like an exploding dye pack in a bag of bank cash.

I Don't Even Have A Bubble

How Thick Is Your Bubble?

View user's Quiz School Profile
Score » 13 out of 20  (65% ) 
On a scale from 0 to 20 points, where 20 signifies full engagement with mainstream American culture and 0 signifies deep cultural isolation within the new upper class bubble, you scored between 13 and 16.

In other words, you don't even have a bubble.
Quiz SchoolTake this quiz & get your score

Why Gridlock Is Not The Answer

It's often said that people like gridlock in Washington because it prevents the government from doing anything dangerously big. I'd like to suggest that over time, gridlock leads to decline.

Why can't we build interstate highways any more? Why does high speed rail cost so much? Why have there been no nuclear power plants built in decades? Government regulations.

Regulations accrete upon the nation like barnacles on a ship's hull. Every year new laws are passed that govern every aspect of our lives from the food we eat to the contracts we sign to the way in which the government is allowed to spend money. Each regulation is tiny in and of itself, but taken as a whole, they act to make it harder and harder to accomplish anything. Each year you get less output for the same money.

While gridlock will slow down the creation of new monstrosities like Obamacare or Dodd-Frank, it will do nothing to eliminate the growing mountain of regulations.

Full speed ahead!

Image source.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

"She Might Sleep More Than Usual"

Our Maximum Leader is getting up there in years and she recently developed arthritis in her right front elbow. From time to time it gives her problems and she'll limp. I took her to the vet and they gave her some joint medicine and some painkillers. They said the painkillers might make her sleep a little more than usual.

How am I supposed to be able to tell?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Cheezburger Of The Day

The Origin And Nature Of The Tea Party

... is well-captured at The Temple of Mut. It's worth a read.

Because They're Fascists

... is the only answer I can come up with when I wonder what in the world Obama and his crew were thinking when they decided they would force everyone to cover contraception, sterilization, etc. on their employee health plans regardless of their moral positions on the topic.

Seriously, are these things that big of a financial burden? Is there some sob story out there about a young family who lost their home and now lives in a cardboard box because they couldn't afford a diaphragm? Did I miss that one on 60 Minutes or PBS?

Our Monastery of Miscellaneous Musings and B-Daddy over at The Liberator Today have covered the freedom aspect of this quite well. Let's turn that on its head and try to figure out the rationale behind the new law.

Like I said above, there's no financial reason for it. There's no access reason for it, either. It's not like contraception isn't available down to the point where you can buy it in vending machines in the bathrooms at bars. It's not that there's insufficient education about the topic - they no longer read Charles Dickens, but our kids know all about condoms and the pill.

So what is it?

Jonah Goldberg, in his book, Liberal Fascism, suggests that fascism is a worship of the state, a secular religion with all the attendant moral architecture that suggests. That's the only explanation I can come up with for what Obama and Katherine Sibelius have done. They believe that contraception should be free and instantly available to everyone at all times.

I am the State, thy god, and thou shalt have no other gods before me.

What did you expect from someone who is fine with allowing babies who survive abortions to die of exposure?

Monday, January 23, 2012

Is This Common?

How often does the head of the International Monetary Fund warn of a global depression?
The global economy faces a depression-era collapse in demand if Europe doesn't quickly act to dramatically boost the size of its debt-crisis firewall, implement pro-growth policies and further integrate the euro zone, the head of the International Monetary Fund warned Monday.

"It is about avoiding a 1930s moment, in which inaction, insularity, and rigid ideology combine to cause a collapse in global demand," IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde said in prepared remarks before the German Council of Foreign Affairs in Berlin. "A moment, ultimately, leading to a downward spiral that could engulf the entire world," she said.
Christine, unfortunately, still doesn't quite get it. There's no money out there to hand to the IMF. We'd have to print it. She's not calling for immediate and drastic privatization of government entities, either. She's still clinging to the statist model.

Oh well. Give her time.

If Italy Is In Trouble Then England Is Totally Hosed

Eternal sunny optimist Ambrose Evans-Pritchard points out some depressing facts about England's debt situation. Here's a tiny bit of what he has to say with the rest at that link quite worth a short read.

Over the last couple of years, while America's private institutions have been deleveraging (while the state has completely lost its mind), British entities, both public and private, have continue to borrow like mad until they are now in the same fiscal position as utterly doomed Japan.

Luckily, the English have all that lovely civilized culture to fall back on when the money finally runs out and the socialist paradise the Labor Party tried to create inevitably crashes into smoking ruin.

Oops. Britain and the Church of England abandoned their core moral principles in favor of relativism. Looks like they might be in for a wee bit of trouble.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Sunday In The Cat-thedral

Tweet of the Week

... borrowed from Legal Insurrection.

It's Over When Chuck Norris Says It's Over

It's over.
For my wife, Gena, and I, we sincerely believe former Speaker Newt Gingrich is the answer to most of those questions and deserves our endorsement and vote.

We agree with our friend and governor of the great state of Texas, Rick Perry, when he suspended his campaign and endorsed Gingrich, that Newt “has the heart of a conservative reformer.” We believe Newt’s experience, leadership, knowledge, wisdom, faith and even humility to learn from his failures (personal and public) can return America to her glory days. And he is the best man left on the battlefield who is able to outwit, outplay and outlast Obama and his campaign machine.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Link Of The Day

Charles Murray, a longtime favorite of mine, penned a piece in the WSJ discussing the cultural divide in America. It's a wonderful essay, bull of great stuff. Part of it deals with how America's elite are becoming increasingly isolated from the rest of the country.
And the isolation is only going to get worse. Increasingly, the people who run the country were born into that world. Unlike the typical member of the elite in 1960, they have never known anything but the new upper-class culture. We are now seeing more and more third-generation members of the elite. Not even their grandparents have been able to give them a window into life in the rest of America.
Read the whole thing. It's worth every minute.

Update: Our Monastery of Miscellaneous Musings has a perfect post to go along with Charles Murray's essay.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Rednecks Are Stupid

... you can tell this because they can't handle their finances.

State S&P's State Bond Rating
Florida AAA
Georgia AAA
North Carolina AAA
Virginia AAA
South Carolina AA+
Tennessee AA+
Texas AA+
Alabama AA
Arkansas AA
Mississippi AA
Louisiana AA-
California A

Greece Answers The Bain Layoff Questions

Mitt Romney's been routinely castigated for his brain-dead comment, "I like to fire people." It's been used as a clear example of how corporate tycoons destroy jobs without regards for the people involved. Romney, a horrific campaigner who can't manage to turn massive advantages into victory, is missing out on the best defense of his time at Bain.

When it comes to indiscriminate, heartless behavior, no one beats the government.

The BBC video on the rise of homelessness in Greece is not embeddable and I know many of you don't like to click on links, but I highly recommend clicking over there and watching it.

Defenders of capitalism want to talk about "creative destruction" and other esoteric concepts to ward off accusations that businesses lack compassion, but they're missing the bigger point. Without capitalism, government has nothing to hand out. In the end, after you've killed off big business, big profits, the rich and whoever else you envy, you're left with total poverty.

Barack Obama, more than anyone else, loves to fire people. And he's so completely clueless that he doesn't even know he's doing it.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

I Guess We Should Walk To The Sundance Film Festival This Year

... here's my path and it will only take me 10 days, 17 hours:

Genius economist and chemist Robert Redford, who occasionally stars in utterly predictable and ponderous movies, is letting us know how happy we should all be that Canada will be shipping it's oil to ecologically conscious, non-profit China instead of the rapacious and filthy US.
President Obama has just rejected a permit for the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline -- a project that promised riches for the oil giants and an environmental disaster for the rest of us.

His decision represents a victory of historic proportions for people from throughout the pipeline path and all across America who have waged an uphill, years-long fight against one of the most nightmarish fossil fuel projects of our time.
While his movies are almost always indigestible pieces of leftist propaganda trash, Mr. Redford is universally considered a serious player in the world of biology, petroleum engineering and corporate finance.

Thanks for sharing your views, Robert! I can't wait to hear what you have to say about space travel!

Watch This In A Sound Proof Room

Why Can't Every Play Be This Exciting?

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Cheezburger of the Day

What They Need Is A Magician

... to pull $600B out of his hat.
BRUSSELS—The International Monetary Fund has identified a need for $600 billion in additional resources to help fight the European debt crisis, a euro-zone official said Wednesday.
Umm, who's got $600B laying around to hand to the IMF?

The rabbit is worth $5. We just need to pull out 120 billion more rabbits.

Image from Fiery Darts.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Because You Needed To See This

Go Patriots!

Yesterday, with great sadness, I stored my New Orleans Saints and Green Bay Packers sweatshirts and t-shirts until next season. The forces of darkness and evil now reign supreme in the NFC. Like Godzilla and Mothra fighting over Tokyo, each more hideous and destructive than the other, the Giants and Niners will play for the chance to go to the Super Bowl. There, as any moral and decent person must surely hope, they will be utterly obliterated by the Patriots.

Surely no thinking person would have hoped at the beginning of the season that New England would get another trophy, but in these dark times one must find whatever comfort one can in the humiliation of inhuman creatures who are nothing but pure evil.

Let bloody vengeance take its final course.

What's The Payoff Behind Taking Down A Banner With A Prayer?

Catholic polemicist Egnorance has posted a couple of times about a judge's decision to remove a small poster with a prayer on it at Cranston High School West in Rhode Island. The prayer had been there since the 1960s. A current Cranston student got the ACLU involved and they sued to have it removed.

What was the point?

I've got lots of things I like to do. Photography, cooking, blogging, soccer, old cars, gardening and so forth. Anything that competes for time had better have a pretty serious payoff if it's going to take me away from watching a Newcastle game or making Lambsicles.

What's the cost-benefits calculation that goes on when you decide to engage in a court case to make sure a tiny poster gets covered? In exchange for hundreds of hours of free time eaten up in meetings with lawyers and writing depositions and court hearings, you get ... what?

Here's an interview with the Cranston High student who wrote the prayer back in 1963. The prayer is pretty innocuous and reads as follows:
"Our Heavenly Father, grant us each day the desire to do our best to grow mentally and morally as well as physically, to be kind and helpful to our classmates and teachers, to be honest with ourselves as well as with others. Help us to be good sports and smile when we lose as well as when we win. Teach us the value of true friendship. Help us always to conduct ourselves so as to bring credit to Cranston High School West. Amen."
The judge claimed that the plaintiff suffered tangible harm from the existence of the prayer. How did that manifest itself? Tremors? Cold sweats? Fits? My first thought upon hearing that someone suffered tangible harm from seeing that prayer in a public place is that they needed professional help. If that's going to set them off, then who knows what else if going to cause them to suffer. Seriously, you have to feel compassion for someone who needs to world so utterly sanitized in order to keep them from suffering tangible harm.

I've been sincerely trying to understand the motives at work here, but the only response I've gotten is an Obsessive-Compulsive one - all laws must be enforced and there are laws against this. I don't buy that at all as one can see unenforced laws all around us every day. I know it's not charitable, but the most likely motive I can think of is hatred of religion.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Link Of The Day


Just Because The ECB Can't Print Money To Buy Government Bonds, It Doesn't Mean The ECB Can't Print Money To Buy Government Bonds

Italy was in trouble. Big trouble. No one wanted to buy its debt any more. 2-year bond prices had spiked to more than 7%, a completely unmanageable level. Thanks to the glories of secular socialism, Italy has an aging population and noncompetitive industries. Italy was going bankrupt in a hurry and there was only one player left who had the ability and motive to buy their bonds. The European Central Bank (ECB).

When a central bank buys government bonds, it is printing money and handing it to the government to spend.

See also: Zimbabwe, economic collapse of.

A central bank acting as lender of last resort is the clearest possible signal that the country is fiscally doomed. In the case of Italy, a fiscal collapse would wreak untold havoc on the European banks who hold hundreds of billions of Euros of increasingly worthless government debt. Run by clever people, the ECB found a (temporary) way around the problem. They printed gobs of Euros and loaned them to banks at 1%. After that, it was up to the banks to do something with the cash, wink wink.
Indeed, the problems are too far-reaching to be solved with a single measure from the bank's bag of tricks. But for all intents and purposes, the ECB's new strategy is just that -- a trick. By flooding the banks with cheap money, it is artificially generating demand for sovereign bonds. In doing so, it can also cut back on its own bond purchases, which have also been highly controversial within the bank itself.

For the banks, it's a fantastic deal. They can borrow money from the ECB for three years at the prime interest rate, which currently stands at 1 percent. If they used that money, say, to buy Italian bonds last Friday, they would get the much higher interest rate of 4.83 percent. Then they could turn around and deposit these bonds at the ECB as security, and borrow even more money at 1 percent.

This new ECB strategy would appear to benefit all the major players: the banks, the cash-strapped countries and the ECB itself. But it has also triggered worries that Draghi has merely created a kind of financial perpetual-motion machine. In any case, the strategy does nothing to alter the fact that the institution ultimately bearing the risks is still the ECB -- and, with it, the taxpayers.
Here's the plan in graphical form:

And thus, the ECB printed money to buy government bonds. The day was saved! Europe could go back to drinking little cups of coffee at outdoor cafes. Yay!

In a future post, we'll discuss why the banks ended up as suckers in this deal.

Cheezburger Of The Day

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Just Because

I left it big so you can click on the image and see the crashing wave in all its glory.

In The Future, You Won't Be Able To Sell Dogs

... so get rid of them now.

Dig this. Angela Merkel is now saying she would consider measures to prevent large institutions from selling government bonds after a downgrade. That is, if you bought Italian debt in 2009 and it gets downgraded in 2013, you're stuck with it. Once you've loaned them money, they can spend it any way they want and you, manacled to those bonds, can only look on in horror as your investments fall apart.

Only a complete idiot would by European government bonds now. The real question is: Who will start dumping their bond holdings immediately?

When The Bottom Drops Out

... finding a new lower limit to behavior becomes problematic.

Of all of the events of 2011, the London Riots had the biggest effect on me. This interview in particular was shocking as it ripped the veil off of the popular culture in England.

Related: Here are the lyrics from the #1 rap song as of right now.

The secular world has no answer to either of these. You cannot argue with either the two drunk British chicks or Jay-Z that what they are doing is wrong because it's working out just fine for them and who are you to tell them different? We've questioned and attacked moral authority until it has vanished from large parts of society. It's been replaced with nothing.

All the laws and police and social spending in the world can't save you from yourself.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

The Momma Daisy Adventure Playset

Momma and Daughter Daisy (and the new Granddaughter Daisy™) have been being nibbled by some creature. It could be birds, snails or caterpillars, but it's more likely grasshoppers. Their leaves have been shredded and I've cast about for some means of protecting my precious children.

Enter the Momma Daisy Adventure Playset*!

It assembled in minutes and at 2'x2'x2', it houses two large pots, one medium pot and one smaller pot.

I'll let you know how things go.

* - Actually, it's called a Flower House FHPH120 PlantHouse 2 Pop-Up Plant House, but I like my title better.

Something The Italians Did Not Need

An Italian luxury cruise ship ran aground and sank yesterday, killing at least 3. After getting their debt downgraded, this put a cap on a pretty hideous day for Italy.

Say a few prayers for the folks involved, OK?

Friday, January 13, 2012

Learning Spanish

My daughter is taking Spanish in high school. She has always struggled with the subject. We noodled about for a bit and thought, "How do Mexican kids learn Spanish?" Well, one of the ways they do it is by reading children's books*. We went to our local library and found plenty of beginning books in Spanish.

One book was about a little girl who was trying to train her dog, Paco, to do tricks. As one might expect, trying to teach the dog was an exasperating chore.

Paco is ordered to jump through a hoop.

Paco eats the hoop. Sounds like the Catican Guards, if you ask me**.

Reading these books has been easy and fun for my daughter. It's been quite educational, too. They're helping her learn about dogs as well as Spanish.

* - I've heard elsewhere that one of the reasons some adults have a hard time with foreign languages is that they don't expect to come at it like a child - little words and little concepts first. They expect to talk like an adult right off the bat.

** - We love the Guards dearly, but let's face it, they're not cats.

A Little More On Romney

It just blows me away that the Republicans are about to nominate a Wall Street tycoon. Is it possible to be more tone-deaf?

Bonus question: Anyone want to put up an over-under on Romney and the Hispanic vote?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

My Take On The Glorious Romney Victory In New Hampshire


Unicredit, Italy's largest bank, is in trouble, in part because it loaned money to governments who spent it without return. There is massive capital outflow from Greece and all across Europe, the social programs that people have relied on, rightly or wrongly, are being slashed. Stories of human suffering from these budget cuts are only just starting. The Euros spent too much, borrowed too much and promised too much.

So did we. The same thing is coming to America. Johnson's Great Society, Bush's Compassionate Conservatism and Obama's infantile concept of the role of government were lies built upon borrowing future spending to feel good about ourselves today. It's all coming to an end.

The next president is going to have to put a stop to major social spending programs. He's going to have to say "No" quite a lot. Because big-government supporters spent the money we could have used to take care of the truly needy, there are going to be a lot of truly needy people out there who will truly start needing very soon. The next president is going to lead during a time of austerity.

Right now, our choice looks to be between a complete idiot who can't tell a freight train is about to hit him and this guy:

Here's someone who can relate to the common man and explain why Medicare is being slashed.

Romney / Obama is a recipe for societal conflict.

Monday, January 09, 2012

Point Loma Street

I love this view from the crest of Point Loma, looking down one of the streets that lead to Ocean Beach and the Pacific. I left the image particularly large so you could enjoy the scene. It's worth a click.

Uh Oh

Italy's largest bank is Unicredit. As you read this, think of BofA here in the US to get a sense of scale.

Unicredit is in serious trouble. It's way undercapitalized. That is, it doesn't have enough money to cover the proper percentage of deposits. I've done a little research this morning, but I've not been able to uncover the source of their losses, although some articles are pointing at government bonds as the problem. Here's the key tidbit from the WaPo story linked above.
Banks are an integral part of Europe’s debt crisis because they hold government bonds. A default or steep fall in the value of government bonds could inflict heavy losses on banks and choke off credit to the European economy. That’s why the regulatory authorities want Europe’s banks to raise their buffers by $115 billion (149 billion) over the next few months.
This isn't the greedy corporations screwing us all or the banksters stabbing us in the back or even the work of ruthless speculators. This is government borrowing wrecking the country's financial system.

This video is a bit dry, but the payoff for me is at 0:50. Speculation on my part: Selling off assets means selling off loans. The only loans anyone will want to buy will be commerical ones, not government bonds. This will add to the total of commercial loans out there on the market making it harder for businesses to borrow money. This is, quite literally, government borrowing squeezing out the private sector.

Sunday, January 08, 2012

I Love This Ad

Suggestion For A New Creature Movie

Vampires, werewolves and zombies. Snore city.

Chicks in black spandex jumpsuits flinging ninja stars and firing guns that cause massive explosions. Boring.

Sultry teenage boys glowering. It's so passé.

We need a new kind of creature. One that's unexpected, one that doesn't follow convention, one that is totally unpredictable and wild*.

We need a movie series about Weresloths.

Can't you see it now? Terse, cliche-ridden dialogue ... moments of total panic ... ominous music ... yawning. Sort of like this, only with more dark, brooding teens.

* - Well, maybe not wild. More unexpected.

What The End Of The Progressive Dream Looks Like

(Some of) The Greeks are starting to get it. In a commentary looking forward into 2012 at ekathimerini.com, is this paragraph.
Above all, our citizens were betrayed by the sense of security that had been cultivated for decades -- that they need not worry, that when the time came, the state would come to the rescue. Even as we discovered repeatedly that this was an illusion -- that the state was either incompetent or cruel or indifferent -- we maintained the hope that some kind god would protect us. Now we fear everything: that neither our health system, nor our pensions, nor our deposits are safe. The old social contract does not apply. On the issue of pensions alone, we see that those who paid dutifully all their lives are those who are suffering the greatest losses.
So much for the politics of compassion.

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Link Of The Day

Go visit Tim. No, really, go. His work is consistently beautiful and educational.

We'll still be here when you get back.

I Saw A Grasshopper. We're All Doomed.

A few days ago, I posted this bit about being subconsciously worried about our mild winter because of the pervasive fear of Global Warming Climate Change that fills our culture. I think the point got a bit muddled as I used the nuclear war terror of the 80s as a comparison, so I'm taking another run at it.

What if it was insects instead of weather? What if the news and movies and schools and zoos were filled with stories of chemical-resistant bugs or uncontrolled bug population growth or scientists finding ever-larger insects? Properly massaged, I have no doubt we could find data to "prove" all of that.

I have no idea what the Global Warming Climate Change data actually says*. I don't know anything about the equations or methodology or experimental processes or even if they have any possible way of isolating individual factors out of the hopelessly complicated, impossibly huge system that is Earth's weather. All I know is that lots of people tell me I'm supposed to be deeply afraid of it and so, despite my skepticism and my understanding of how science funding is doled out, I am. When the weather is warm, I wonder about Global Warming Climate Change.

If they'd been telling me horror stories about insects for the last 10 years, I'd be terrified every time I saw something like this.

Might as well take up serious drinking. We're totally screwed.

* - Neither do some of the key scientists. They lost it all.


We hit 500,000 visits yesterday here at The Scratching Post.

I don't blog for links or hits any more, I just want to share whatever I think will be provocative or interesting or make you smile and then learn from your deep, collective wisdom.

Thanks for stopping by.

Friday, January 06, 2012

12' Waves Today

... down at Sunset Cliffs. It's clickable.

Sunset Cliffs At Sunset

Sometimes you get lucky and you have your big camera in the car at just the right time. I left the original pretty large. It's worth clicking on the image.


I bought cheesecloth from Amazon earlier this week after looking for it at lots of local grocery stores. With Amazon Prime, it was shipped to me in 2 days for free.

Why didn't I just go to Amazon in the first place?

Thursday, January 05, 2012


<a href="http://msn.foxsports.com/foxsoccer/video?vid=fac369d7-cda9-4662-a062-1b4b3af67df7" target="_new" title="">GOTD: Howard scores amazing Goal</a>

A Favorite Holmes Clip

... in honor of the new Sherlock Holmes movie which features cannons, handguns, chase scenes and, for all I know, Holmes covered in tattoos and shooting his 9mm gangsta style after engaging in a threesome. Instead, I offer you this wonderful bit of Jeremy Brett as Holmes.

The Weather Is Mild. We're All Doomed.

Back in 1986, at the height of Ronald Reagan's crazy nuclear cowboy foreign policy against the totally reasonable and pacifist Soviet Union, I was living in a studio apartment in La Jolla, in the path of the flightline at Miramar Naval Air Station. For years, the popular culture had been infused with the terror of nuclear war. Any day now, that crazy Reagan was going to press The Button and kill us all.

One night around 2AM, a pair of F-14s took off from Miramar and turned on their afterburners right over my apartment. The whole place shook and I awoke with a start. My very first thought, and I remember it like it was last night, was that the missiles were in the air and the Navy was getting their jets out of town as fast as they could.

We were all doomed. We were going to be incinerated in sheets of atomic fire in a matter of minutes.

It's been a very mild winter so far here in San Diego. The highs have been in the low 70s and the nights have been cool, but not cold. After a decade or so marinating in the fear of Global Warming Climate Change, I can't help it. Every time the weather is unexpectedly warm or cold or wet or dry, my subconscious connects the event with Global Warming Climate Change.

Once again, we're all doomed. The seas will rise, the hurricanes will come and the nation's cornfields in Nebraska will bake until they look like the surface of Mars.

This happened. No, really, it did! Well, the part about chicks with huge hair and everyone wearing monstrous glasses. That happened. So, in a way, all the scaremongering was validated.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Cheezburger Of The Day

Is It Time To Get Back Into Diamond Offshore?

Here's the news from Libya.

TRIPOLI—Two Libyan militias once allied against Moammar Gadhafi battled for nearly two hours in central Tripoli, leaving four dead and a renewed sense of unease across a capital where the nascent government has struggled to maintain authority.

Iran is rattling sabers again, Iraq without the US is unstable and so on and so forth. Diamond Offshore (DO) makes deepwater drilling rigs and leases them out to clients. Extracting oil off the coasts of Brazil and Norway looks a lot more profitable than trying to get it out of Libya or Iraq.

Diamond Offshore has taken a beating in the last few years, so now might be a good time to get back in.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

On Missing The Mormon Forest For The Trees

A while back I posted a bit about my thoughts on Mormons. It was an attempt to discuss discoveries of my own bigotry, but it came out too harsh against the Mormons, so I took it down and now I'm taking another run at the topic.

The Old Testament is not a perfect historical document, nor is it tuned to the sensibilities of 2012. In an argument about slavery over at Egnorance, I was confronted with biblical verses about slavery, marriage rights, child abuse and so on. I know of these, but they don't bother me as a Catholic. Further, I don't feel the need to look into why they're not important. I've read plenty of Catholic thinkers and every major question I've ever had has been answered to the point where it all makes sense.

Having found no glaring mistakes, I've assumed that other issues have been similarly well-addressed and have moved on to more interesting things like daisies, photography and soccer. Throwing Old Testament verses in my face doesn't do any more to me than statistical chemistry equations. I can't derive them and I may not even understand them, but I've no doubt that trustworthy people have worked them out and I can get on with life.

This brings me to the Mormons.

If you search the web for Mormon archaeology or Mormon biology contradictions, you quickly come to the conclusion that the Book of Mormon has no historical basis at all. This has hung me up forever. How can otherwise wonderful, rational people believe in this nonsense? Elephants in South America? Please. It's ridiculous. The Mormons have spent tons of money and done lots of excellent archaeology in the New World and have found nothing at all to validate Joseph Smith's claims.

So what?

Just as I don't bother finding out the Church's positions on Old Testament teachings, who's to say they don't simply punt on their stuff as well and just go back to what is relevant to them - behavioral and moral issues. Every Mormon I can think of from my own life has been a wonderful person - moral, hard working and a good friend. If they were Catholic, I'd be pointing to them as exemplars of our faith. My issues with Mormons aren't real, they're theoretical. I need to get over them.

I still think they'd be better off on the side with the cool hats.

Preserving Herbs

Here in the Catican Compound, we have two very nice raised beds where we grow herbs and vegetables. We've got a couple of herbs that are not only huge, but rarely used. It's time to harvest and preserve them to free up the space for more interesting things.

I spent some time noodling around the Interweb Tubes and came up with this video.

While I don't like the microwave idea, I love the freezing idea. I would think that freezing them would work perfectly. The expansion of the water would wreck the cell walls of the plant material, but since all you're really after are the aromatic oils, I can't see how those would be broken down by freezing at all. In fact, breaking the cell walls would probably help to release the oils once the herb was thawed and cooking.

Monday, January 02, 2012

From The Dome Of The Cat-thedral

You can participate in conversations in the family room ...

... and watch the critters in the raised bed garden boxes outside.

Cheezburger of the Day

Keynesians Unclear On The Concept, Gold Medal Finalist

The NYT, always a trusty source of bloggable idiocy, has come up with another howler of an article. Voluntary austerity, they claim, is killing Europe.
Despite criticism from many economists, though, most European governments are sticking to austerity plans, rejecting the Keynesian approach of economic stimulus favored by Washington after the financial crisis in 2008, in a bid to show investors they are serious about fiscal discipline.
Err, not really. It's not voluntary at all. They're not thumping their financial chests and flexing their fiscal biceps to try to impress the girls on the beach, they've run out of people to tap. In one syllable words, here's what's happening.

No one will lend to them.

But wait, there's more! Delving deep into the minor leagues, the NYT visits the Graduate Institute of Geneva to talk to "an economics professor." (How do they even find these places?)
“Every government in Europe with the exception of Germany is bending over backwards to prove to the market that they won’t hesitate to do what it takes,” said Charles Wyplosz, a professor of economics at the Graduate Institute of Geneva. “We’re going straight into a wall with this kind of policy. It’s sheer madness.”
Umm, it's not madness, they're just out of options, save for going Full Zimbabwe on the problem.

I love these articles; they're so totally disconnected from reality. They show how far the progressive education system has gone in removing the mental connections between earning and having in the culture. What's happening in Europe is simple mathematics - compound interest tables at work. It's nothing more than that and it's a total mystery to the NYT.

More! Print more!

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Hoppin John Tonight

... from Terry Thompson's excellent cookbook.

Because you gots to have your black-eyed peas on New Years Day!

Cheezburger of the Day

Once The Money Is Out Of Politics

... we'll enjoy the fruits of a total dictatorship, assuming we can figure out what "getting the money out of politics" even means.

Our Monks of Miscellaneous Musings posted a George Will - Robert Reich clip from some debate show. Robert Reich brought up the claim that "we need to get the money out of politics" and blatted on about income inequality. On the latter point, George Will whiffed badly, but more about that later.

Getting the money out of politics assumes that money is somehow corrupting what the government does, that there is some best solution to whatever set of problems we're trying to drown with three-and-a-half trillion dollar bills. If we got the money out of politics, then our political leaders would make wise decisions that were best for all of us.

Sort of like Mussolini did. There wasn't much money in politics in fascist Italy.

But the best set of decisions depends on what you're trying to achieve. Over in Greece, they've pretty much done the things that Robert Reich has been suggesting for years and they're now starting to throw their poor and elderly out into the street. So much for finding wise political leaders who can make your decisions for you, eh Robert?

If we could just get the money out of politics, then Deep Thinkers like Alan Blinder could come up with more ideas like Cash for Clunkers.

And what does "getting the money out" even mean? The government contracts out to private companies for much of its work. If there's a customer out there with $3.5T to spend it's utterly childish to think that marketing dollars aren't going to gush forth in pursuit of that prospect. (You can solve this problem by nationalizing all industries so that everyone is inside the government and no one outside. See also: Union, Soviet.)

The only way to get the money out of politics is to get the money out of the government. Given the track record of geniuses like Alan Blinder and Robert Reich, that's probably a good idea for lots of other reasons, too.

Finally, a bit of George Will's response to income inequality. George took the collective position and made points about government being the cause of problems and blah blah blah. This really ought to stop. Income and wealth don't simply happen to you. You're not plankton floating around with the tides. Income and wealth are markers of behavior. Next time a Robert Reich launches into an income inequality tirade, someone ought to bring up the behaviors that lead to poverty and ask Robert just how successful we've been at dealing with those through politics.