Monday, April 30, 2012

Why Savings Matter

Matthew Melchiorre has a great article up at Real Clear Markets discussing the European Central Bank's collision with reality. Here's a tidbit that really caught my eye.
The interest rate is the price of borrowing money. The amount of savings in an economy determines that price. But when central bankers set an interest rate, they decouple the interest rate from savings and replace it with politics.
The problem with an artificially created interest rate lies in the disruption of a basic economic principle. Savings equals investment. Peoples' savings are an economy's source of finance. The interest rate rises as savings become more scarce and falls as savings become more abundant.
But the interest rate has fallen despite a shrinking pool of real savings. The Euro Area savings rate persistently decreased from 7.5 percent in 2000 to 5.8 percent in 2007. Europeans are saving less, but the interest rate - controlled by the central bank instead of by market forces - says they are saving more. This paradox is fatal.
That's one of the clearest descriptions of that aspect of the problem yet. Borrowing is a substitute for saving. In essence, it's the savings you will have to make in the future. The low interest rates we enjoy today are the result of our future savings - savings we are now doomed to create whether we want to or not. We've chained ourselves to our oars for a long time to come.

Stop complaining! You're the one who voted for more debt!
Update: I know this seems like just another recital of the debt-is-bad theme, but the point that hit me was how interest rates price savings. If rates are low, it says the economy isn't looking for more savers. If they're high, it is. When savings and rates are low, then something is screwy with the pricing system.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Did Nietzsche Get What He Wanted And Not Know It?

Friedrich Nietzsche wanted ruthless supermen to rule the world. Tyrants who did not believe in God and did whatever they wanted. Listening to The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, I'm inclined to think he'd already gotten what he wanted.

First off, the Roman emperors were practical atheists. Religion was a matter of superstition; they didn't actually consult the temples of Jupiter or Venus to inform their decisions. They thought it was all hokum to placate the masses.

Second, they were utterly ruthless. Most of them ended up murdered and every murder was an occasion for a mass bloodletting where potential rivals, their families and supporters were all killed. As long as they reigned, they watched for signs of plots against them and mowed down suspected conspirators in heaps.

Third, they waged brutal wars against every nation on their borders. Sometimes these were wars against invading armies, sometimes they were was of conquest. Defeated armies were massacred or sold into slavery and captured cities sacked and looted.

That sounds like the actions of the Nietzschean Übermensch to me.

They were great singers, too!


Update: Clicking around the Interweb Tubes a bit, one finds that Nietzsche did indeed consider the Roman Emporers, but I can't quickly find whether or not he felt they were the incarnation of his Übermensch.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

How Much Do You Learn From TV?

... and I don't mean in the intellectual pursuits, I mean in sports.

When my son was playing baseball competitively, he watched baseball all the time*. He was a very good player and played many different positions, eventually settling down to second base. Watching games was hugely instructive - the game is too complex to completely teach on the practice field.

Now that my daughter has fully embraced soccer and has found a home at right outside defender (right full back), I've picked up a couple of instructional videos on the topic to help her learn the position. I just watched two to get the gist of them.

Wow.

Like baseball, the game is way too elaborate for any coach to teach in team practices. After two years of rec, four years of club and one year of high school ball, I learned all kinds of new things. It's not just games that we need to watch, you really want to give yourself an intellectual foundation with instructional videos before watching the games. It's like learning the vocabulary and grammar of a language before jumping into watching movies in that tongue.

Way back when, I was her motivating factor. I told her she had to pick a hobby and she had to get good at it. She chose soccer, but I had to make her practice. In the last two months, her internal motivation has kicked in and I regularly get texts from her after school letting me know she's heading for the handball courts to work out. It's awesome.

Now if I can just get her to watch more TV, she'll become the best full back in the league.



Hopefully, she won't let in wonder goals like this one by Newcastle's Ben Arfa.


* - This is in contrast to his behavior now where he watches baseball as much as is humanly possible.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Proof That Too Many People Are Going To College

Republican and Democratic lawmakers agreed this week to approve new subsidies for college students...

If you can't figure out how to pay for your college education without the rest of us subsidizing you even more than we already do, then maybe you don't belong in college.

Sounds Like Our Cleaning Ladies Could Do The Job, Too

Fellow San Diegan Christine Kehoe is leading the charge to allow more people to aspirate you.
Under a bill that passed its first committee hearing Tuesday, nurse practitioners, nurse midwives and physician assistants would be able to perform what is known as an "aspiration" abortion, which is the most common abortion procedure and takes place in the first trimester of a pregnancy.
Awesome! "Aspiration" sounds so clinical and clean! Just what is it?
There are two methods of vacuum aspiration (also called suction aspiration):
  • Manual vacuum. This procedure can be used around 5 to 12 weeks after the last menstrual period (early first trimester). It involves the use of a specially designed syringe to apply suction. This method is not available everywhere, but it may be more available than machine aspiration in some geographic areas.
  • Machine vacuum. This procedure is a common method used in the first 5 to 12 weeks of pregnancy. Machine vacuum aspiration involves the use of a hollow tube (cannula) that is attached by tubing to a bottle and a pump, which provides a gentle vacuum. The cannula is passed into the uterus, the pump is turned on, and the tissue is gently removed from the uterus.
Hey, that seems like a path to greater income equality! Right now, the ladies who come over and clean our house aren't paid nearly as much as a doctor and they're absolute pros with the vacuum cleaner. They do wonders sticking the hose between the cushions of our couch, just think what they could do if they stuck it between your legs.

Of course, you'll still need to see a real doctor to get that mole removed. Moles are serious, you know. Nothing at all like the simple procedure of aspirating.

And if the thing gets clogged from too many dead babies in it, there's always a handy YouTube video to help them clean it out!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Simplifying Things

What with all the chaos going on at our house over the last few months, my MGB restoration project has languished. Now that things have stabilized, I'm back at it.

When last we left our little car, I was completely rewiring it from scratch. I managed to change all of the connectors in the car from the old bullet-style ones to modern blades and Molex pins, but the sheer scale of the project was overwhelming. To be perfectly honest, I lost heart.

I don't know about you, but I hate complicated jobs. I don't do well when there are too many things going on. I need simplicity to concentrate. A few weeks back, I started wondering just what I'd need to get the little car started. What electrical system would it need if it were a go-kart? Well, all you'd need would be the charging, starting and ignition systems. No need for horn, lights, fans, blinkers, gauges or anything else.

If I could just get the car started the excitement of driving it around would motivate me to complete the restoration.

Off I went to the schematics. I pulled out just the systems I needed and when I was done, I was shocked at how trivial the problem was. Hurrah! Here's all it is (you'll need to click on the image for a clear view):
The dashed lines are low power, everything else is substantial. In the MGB, the starter is used as the tie-in point for all power. I'll improve the original design by fusing everything off of that point and adding the relay for the starter circuit. The connection on the bottom of the starter is the control feed that pushes the solenoid into the gears of the flywheel to get the car started. To start with, I won't even wire the switches to the key in the steering column, I'll put them both in the engine compartment. It's all about starting the car right now.

Excited by the prospect of driving the thing, I got right to work. I ended up have to pull the starter, one of the only difficult items to remove in the car, to work on some bent connectors on it. I've got all the wires and connectors, so finishing this wiring is not that big of a job. Yay!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Cheezburger of the Day

funny cat pictures - all your lap  are belong to me
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Get Over Yourself Month

At work, we observe all of the standard heritage months. African American, Hispanic, Women's, etc. We honor those races and sexes who have been oppressed. We don't mention who was doing the oppressing, but it's pretty obvious. After all, there can't be an us without a them. The result is growing division and discord.

Since we started using blogs as communication tools, resentful comments over these ethnic months has grown considerably. We now have to watch the comment threads, delete political and nasty remarks and sometimes even shut down the threads completely.

Talking to my daughter this morning, she mentioned that at her high school, you can tell ethnic jokes about whites all day long, but if you tell one about anyone else, someone takes offense. This is pretty funny because when it comes to having a disadvantaged background, she's so far ahead of everyone that she's about to lap them. As a Russian orphan, she's only behind sub-Saharan Africans and Tijuana dump residents when it comes to escaping hellholes.

25 years ago in the US, we had grants and set asides and affirmative action and heritage months. 25 years ago in Russia, affirmative action was a bullet in the back of the head or a one-way box car trip to a Siberian death camp.

With that in mind, I'd like to propose "Get Over Yourself Month." It would be a month of shutting up and doing your freaking job. You'd concentrate on how you were a productive member of society. There would be celebrations highlighting just how much we all needed to produce in order to not be a burden on the rest of us. We'd all wear red, white and blue ribbons.

It would be just like being a real country instead of a assorted collection of ethnic cantons.

It will never work.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Link Of The Day

Dig this Aurora Borealis over Ireland.

Ok, Now We Can Get Down To Business

"No more half-measures!" the French have said. "It's time to go all-out and show the world what we can do!"
PARIS—President Nicolas Sarkozy was thrust into a fight for his political survival after lagging behind Socialist candidate François Hollande in the first round of France's presidential poll. 
Monsieur Hollande is in favor of completely monetizing sovereign debt. Should he win the run-off with Monsieur Sarkozy, the printing presses will be serviced, oiled, turbocharged and flung into frantic action.

Hi-keeba!

Monday, April 23, 2012

So Much For The Noble Savage

I went to grade school at the height of the American romance with the Indian. They were being transformed in our textbooks from ruthless savages to noble and pure people who lived an honorable life in harmony with nature and were cut down in heaps by the merciless onslaught of the rapacious European. Even while I bought in to the concept, the way it was slathered on in greasy heaps was nauseating at the time.

Edward Gibbon, in his classic The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, beats the idea of the noble savage to a pulp in his descriptions of the Germans, ca 100 AD.
The Germans, in the age of Tacitus, were unacquainted with the use of letters; and the use of letters is the principal circumstance that distinguishes a civilized people from a herd of savages incapable of knowledge or reflection. Without that artificial help, the human memory soon dissipates or corrupts the ideas intrusted to her charge; and the nobler faculties of the mind, no longer supplied with models or with materials, gradually forget their powers; the judgment becomes feeble and lethargic, the imagination languid or irregular. Fully to apprehend this important truth, let us attempt, in an improved society, to calculate the immense distance between the man of learning and the illiterate peasant. The former, by reading and reflection, multiplies his own experience, and lives in distant ages and remote countries; whilst the latter, rooted to a single spot, and confined to a few years of existence, surpasses but very little his fellow-laborer, the ox, in the exercise of his mental faculties. The same, and even a greater, difference will be found between nations than between individuals; and we may safely pronounce, that without some species of writing, no people has ever preserved the faithful annals of their history, ever made any considerable progress in the abstract sciences, or ever possessed, in any tolerable degree of perfection, the useful and agreeable arts of life. 
Eddy has set the ball up on the tee.  Now he smacks it right over the fence, smashing the windshield of the public school history teacher's Prius with this killer pair of declaratives.
Of these arts, the ancient Germans were wretchedly destitute. They passed their lives in a state of ignorance and poverty, which it has pleased some declaimers to dignify with the appellation of virtuous simplicity. 
Ouch. That's gonna leave a mark. I love old school history books. It's just straight up history with no political correctness.

They could have built the aqueducts. They just chose not to.

I Finally Watched Atlas Shrugged, Part I

... and I liked it, despite itself.

It's a pretty lousy movie - the lead actress is stiff and the dialog has the unrecoverable flaw that it was written by Ayn Rand. Having said that, I thoroughly enjoyed it. Finally, a novel and intriguing drama. Finally, something new.


Hollywood is stale beyond belief. My son jokes that modern crime dramas like CSI feature semen in every crime scene. It's everywhere - on bed sheets, couches, floors, walls, light sockets, electrical outlets and ceiling fans. Crime scene semen is de rigueur these days. So are rich, white villains who are associated with big business. No plot is ever driven by someone trying to make a big business thrive. Sure, we get stories about kids running Facebook or similar webby companies, but there aren't any adult business movies, despite it being a rich vein of drama to mine. Atlas Shrugged is a mediocre movie that was fun to watch because it just doesn't have any competition.

I hope there's a part II to it on the way. I can't wait to see the final scene from the book played out on the screen.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

The EPA Asked

... so I answered.

H/T: Our Monks of Miscellaneous Musings and B-Daddy.

Cut What Meat Off What Chicken?

I'm a bachelor this weekend, my wife having wandered off to save souls at a women's retreat. She does that from time to time and I'm quick to seize the opportunity to indulge my repellent, baser passions - British cooking and soccer.

Last night, as I watched Norwich inexplicably lose to Blackburn, I made Cock-a-Leekie Soup. Well, to be perfectly honest, I did a lot of things while I made Cock-a-Leekie Soup. It's made by boiling a whole chicken, 6 coarsely chopped leeks, a pound of prunes and a bit of salt for 2 1/2 hours. At the end, the recipe tells you to pull the chicken out of the pot and "cut the meat off the bones and put it back in the pot." This is utter nonsense.

If I hadn't put it there with my own two hands, I'd never have known that the blob of meat and now-disassociated bones was a chicken. It was so thoroughly dissolved that it could have been anything - a chicken, a rabbit, a stoat or even a young archaeopteryx, forever lost to Mankind because I decided to eat it instead of handing it over to the Minions of Science*. As I pulled the wreckage out of the pot, the bones separated themselves from both meat and cartilage and came out almost perfectly clean. The was no cutting to be done at all.

Roman augurs would have told my fortune with these. "You will fall asleep tonight watching Newcastle thump Stoke City." Very prescient, those augurs.
While the meat was unidentifiable, the end result was amazingly good. So good that I might even try to convince my wife to give it a go. Dittos for the Steak and Kidney Pie I made the night before. With a half pound of beef kidney and a pound of suet left over from the weekend's orgy, I might as well.

* - The Minions of Science would have no doubt concluded that the existence of a live archaeopteryx rushing about in the undergrowth of the canyons of Tierrasanta was proof positive of Global Warming Climate Change and would have waved it above their heads demanding we give them more funding for research and submit every aspect of our lives to the review and approval of the State.

In Praise Of Positively Enormous Cutting Boards

My wife loves me. This I know. I can tell because for Christmas, she got me a ginormous cutting board. It measures 18" by 24" and looks big enough to provide an adequate foundation for a small apartment building.

I had asked for a cutting board, but didn't anticipate anything this huge. When I unwrapped it, I thought, "Err, yes, well, how nice. But it's simply too big to use!" Of course, I didn't say anything like that and wisely chose to show loving gratitude instead. I stored the thing in a gap between our refrigerator and a cabinet and didn't use it for a while.

Over the last few weeks, I've started bringing the monster out of its lair when I've needed to cut up big things like whole chickens and in doing so, I've fallen in love with it. It's so huge, you can cut up a chicken and then season the parts with flour all on the board, without having to even remove the scraps. Nothing gets on the counter top at all. It's like having a perfectly washable counter top that you can cut on. It may seem too big for your kitchen, but unless your place is really small, I'd highly recommend getting one.

More than a pound of chuck steak, half a pound of beef kidney and a big chef's knife, absolutely at sea on top of the colossal cutting board.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

YouTube Has Everything

I'm a bachelor this weekend as my wife is away, volunteering on a women's retreat. That means I'm doing the laundry, including those cursed fitted sheets.

Like any good blogger, the first place I turn to for lessons on how to do something is YouTube. Bingo!

If It Looks Like A Prostitute, Walks Like A Prostitute, And Acts Like A Prostitute, Then It Probably Is A Prostitute

Gavon Lessing over at buzzfeed has a set of twelve photos of what he claims are prostitutes in Colombia, site of the recent Secret Service Bacchanalia. Here's part of one.


What's interesting about Gavon's post is not the photos, but the comments beneath them. There is a mad rush away from judgment and Gavon is taken to task over and over again for labeling these girls as "prostitutes". In a positively Jon Haidt-ian way, one commenter, Nat Quinots Uhing, hits the trifecta of ignorant prude stereotyping with this gem.
LOL What is this photographer? A 70-year old Catholic priest or a 14-year old goof from the Ozark mountains? Does the word 'prostitute' generate so much frisson that he's trying to put it as many times as possible into the sub-titles? Working girls aren't aliens from outer space, dude, you should get out more. 
Prudes are old, religious and from the South. Man, you got that right. You can read us like a book. Awesome job, Nat.

Meanwhile, speaking of people who need to get out more, we've got Al Hutcheson weighing in with this bit of naivete.
As photojournalism these pictures suck. So every woman dressed like the ones in these images must be a prostitute? WTF! The photographer has made no effort to get in close to these people, ask them questions, find out a little bit about them, earn some trust, or if he did it does not show. 
I dunno, Al, I've been in plenty of distant cities late at night and you could easily pick out the hookers on the street corners. In Tokyo, young, white chicks dressed like sluts standing around alone or in twos on street corners around 11 PM were hookers. They did everything but wear hooker name tags. As Nat might say, you need to get out more, Al.

So what's the deal here? Why the deliberate effort to maintain ignorance? Nat clearly doesn't know any straight-laced Catholic men and Al wants to hold off judgment on chicks who are clearly pay-for-play. Yes, I know there's a chance Gavon got some of them wrong, but I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt because his photos match my prudicious experience.

Is it just one more Internet echo chamber in those comments or is it something else?

Thursday, April 19, 2012

A One Way Door?

Over at Egnorance, there's a provocative post comparing Atheism to AIDS. I'm not big on the metaphor, although I haven't thoroughly read the post yet and mregnor's thinking is usually deep enough to warrant thought. What jumped out at me is this:
The hallmark of totalitarianism is the concentration of power in the state. Everything for the state, nothing outside the state, nothing above the state.
I know this isn't an original thought, but I figured I'd give credit to the blogger who got me thinking along these lines in a different way. Here's the question it brings to mind.

If the Democratic Party is not the party of totalitarianism, then it would have to recommend that the State shed control in some areas to balance all of the areas where it wants the State to assume more. As far as I can see, there really aren't any areas where President Obama, Nancy Pelosi or Harry Reid want less control. It's a one-way door: power goes in, but never comes back out. From a strictly logical point of view, isn't that the hallmark of totalitarianism?


Well, OK then.

Spam Of The Day

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Auctioning Off The Government

Right now I'm making my way through The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Volume 1. It blows away the wildest political thriller ever written.

I'm only a few hours into a 41 hour audio book, but already there's been some crazy stuff happening. For example, in 193 AD, Didius Julianus became Emporer because he won the title at auction!
Nominally emperor for two months, Marcus Didius Severus Julianus had an authority that hardly extended beyond Italy or even Rome itself. Didius Julianus would gain historical notoriety only for the means by which he became emperor, by winning the bidding at what has been called the "Auction of the Empire." ...
When the emperor Pertinax was killed trying to quell a mutiny, no accepted successor was at hand. Pertinax's father-in-law and urban prefect, Flavius Sulpicianus, entered the praetorian camp and tried to get the troops to proclaim him emperor, but he met with little enthusiasm. Other soldiers scoured the city seeking an alternative, but most senators shut themselves in their homes to wait out the crisis. Didius Julianus, however, allowed himself to be taken to the camp, where one of the most notorious events in Roman history was about to take place. 
Didius Julianus was prevented from entering the camp, but he began to make promises to the soldiers from outside the wall. Soon the scene became that of an auction, with Flavius Sulpicianus and Didius Julianus outbidding each other in the size of their donatives to the troops. The Roman empire was for sale to the highest bidder. When Flavius Sulpicianus reached the figure of 20,000 sesterces per soldier, Didius Julianus upped the bid by a whopping 5,000 sesterces, displaying his outstretched hand to indicate the amount. The empire was sold, Didius Julianus was allowed into the camp and proclaimed emperor.
And we complain about political campaigns today!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

A Quick Note On Spain And The ECB

I'm still fighting laptop problems, so this is a bit condensed.

Clicking around the Interweb Tubes, this is what seems to be happening in Spain right now:
  1. The European Central Bank is printing money.

  2. Spanish banks are borrowing this money at 0% interest.

  3. Spanish banks are using the money to buy Spanish government bonds at about 6%. Free profit*!

  4. The Spanish government is operating with a substantial budget deficit, so it issues still more bonds.

  5. Return to #1.
Nowhere in this cycle is anything resembling production of goods or services. It's simply the printing of money to support government services. Since inflation is still at an acceptable level, it appears that this can go on off into the future with no problems. Everyone in charge remains anesthetized to the only possible end result. Inflation and crash.

It's not like this hasn't been tried before.

* - The free profit is not without risk. As the holders of Greek bonds discovered, when the nation defaults, they're totally hosed. It tells you all you need to know about the economy of Spain that the banks would rather buy government bonds which they know will end badly than loan it to Spanish businesses.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Patria Socialista!

President Cristina Kirchner, a wise Latina, has upped the stakes for our own Peronist president in this bold move:
BUENOS AIRES—President Cristina Kirchner, in a move that marks a watershed in expanding the state's grip on the economy, said she will send a bill to Congress to nationalize Argentina's largest oil-and-gas company, YPF SA...

Under the proposal, which declares the petroleum industry of "national public interest," Argentina's federal and provincial governments would take 51% of the company, now majority owned by Repsol YPF SA of Spain. The move is sure to be approved in Argentina's Congress, where the leftist Mrs. Kirchner's governing Peronist party holds a majority.

Initial indications were that government would take its stake entirely out of Repsol's shares, which would leave the company with roughly 6% of YPF, down from 57%.

The nationalization marks the culmination of a monthslong battle between YPF and the Kirchner government. The administration blames YPF for low production that has forced Argentina to spend heavily for imported energy, at a time when it is enduring a scarcity of dollars due to capital flight.
Capital flight out of Argentina? Why would there be capital flight when they're trying so hard to Win The Future?

NPR Has Moved Its Offices To Neptune

... because they can't be on Earth.

Dig this headline: Christians Debate: Was Jesus For Small Government? The article has a picture of Paul Ryan, architect of the House Budget, the only real one out there and the only existing plan to get the debt under control. I'm a big fan of Paul Ryan and have listened to his interviews and speeches many times. I've never heard any religious overtones. It's all about the math.

You can always tell when a writer lives in a progressive cocoon. They explain conservatives' motivations by combining stereotypes in ways that aren't common at all to the people themselves. It's a lot like the ignorant, cowardly dimwits who visited the San Diego Tea Party folks, bringing their own Confederate flags.

I've been a debt crank for years now. I'm also a Catholic crank. I've marinated in both topics for quite some time. Religion just doesn't play a significant role in this at all, except when latte-headed progressives try to make the connections.

I'd go on and quote the article from Barbara Hagerty, but it's just exhausting to read the thing. The debt synapses and Catholic neurons in my noggin are spread so far apart that it will drain all of the mental energy I've got for the day just to slog my way through the whole thing. You're free to take a whack at it.

Before you go, here's Paul Ryan discussing the debt. I guess this short video was too much for Babs to bother watching. Pathetic.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Not The Beautiful Game

... but the Frozen Game.

For our first game, it was 42 degrees, the wind was howling about at 35 MPH and we had this as a backdrop:

Friday, April 13, 2012

It's The Perfect Weather For Soccer!

We're up here in Hesperia for California State Cup where my daughter's soccer team will attempt to wrest victory from the forces of evil. Or at least score a goal. We may not win, but at least the weather is cooperating.


Snow and high winds.

This is going to be epic.

Once You Start Down The QE Path, Forever Will It Dominate Your Destiny

Spain and Italy are starting to feel the pinch of excess borrowing. They've got mountains of debt, sclerotic economies, aging populations and societies addicted to entitlements. Their bonds aren't long-term investments because Italy and Spain aren't good long-term bets. As fewer people bet on Italy and Spain, their interest rates rise. That's what we've been seeing over the last few weeks. Like we saw in Greece, rising interest rates can quickly destabilize national finances.

So what's going to happen? Are the Europeans going to go full Milton Friedman and let them default? Well, the same people are running the ECB and the Bundesbank now as were running them when Greece went down the tubes. There's not an Austrian economist in the lot. They're all card-carrying statists. If they printed piles of Euros to buy government debt before to preserve the status quo, there's no reason why they won't do it again.

In order for the ECB (and the Fed, for that matter) to stop printing money, the people in charge are going to have to change their world views in a big way or be replaced. My money is on more easy credit from the central banks to prop up the socialist government model, not on a sudden spasm of responsibility.

Second take heading in the same direction: Like taking drugs, once you've done a couple of rounds of money printing, doing just one more is easy. If you've gone this far - printing trillions of Euros and Dollars (trillions!) - the psychological barrier to doing so has been broken down and it's just a matter of rationalizing one more hit.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Cheezburger Of The Day

funny cat pictures - You want to talk about it?
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Gark!

So I fed our Maximum Leader this morning, got my cup of coffee and wandered out to the Catican to read and blog. After reading email and clicking around a bit, the Catican desktop PC froze. It's been doing this a bit, particularly while my daughter's been fiddling with Facebook. I wondered if she'd been "liking" unstable things on Facebook and was whacking the computer.

I grumbled a bit and restarted the machine with the reset button. About 8 resets later, it's locked in the BIOS setup. It gradually went in reverse, being able to do less and less with each reset. First it tried to boot normally, then it couldn't tell which hard drive to boot from, but would let me pick, then it wouldn't even boot in safe mode, then, figuring the hard drive had croaked, I put in a boot CD and told the BIOS to look there, but it never bothered to even spin the thing and finally on the last reset, the BIOS wouldn't even go into the boot menu.

What do you think? Replace the motherboard, CPU and RAM? It's about due for an upgrade anyway. Nothing else seems to be broken.

Comments and suggestions are welcome.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Cooking Music

You can't cook without the right music and no matter what you're cooking, Louis Prima is the right music!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Surreal Sentence Of The Week

... comes from Der Spiegel.
Is Israel a threat to world peace?
Responding to a row kicked up by former Waffen SS man Gunter Grass who recently wrote a poem criticizing Israel, Der Spiegel thoughtfully strokes its editorial chin and ponders whether or not a tiny nation under constant attack by its crazed, genocidal neighbors is a threat to world peace.


Dear Gunter Grass and Der Spiegel: Please shut up.

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Veneration of the Cross

On Good Friday, my wife and I helped out at Church, holding the cross for our fellow parishioners to venerate it by genuflection, bowing or kissing it. Whenever I do something like this, there's always a touching moment, something that takes my breath away with its beauty.

This time, a handsome young man came up to the cross carrying his daughter who looked to be about 2. He genuflected before the cross and then leaned over so his daughter could kiss it. It was simply gorgeous.

Happy Easter.

He loves you so much that He would rather die than spend eternity without you.

Saturday, April 07, 2012

Spam Of The Day

Here's another one that makes my little rodent brain go, "Huh?"

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Lady Gaga Headphones?

Seeing Mary's Face In A Tree Stump

... is what the whole George Zimmerman thing seems like to me.

I'd planned to avoid this topic, but the latest revelations - NBC doctored audio clips to make Zimmerman sound racist - are too juicy to ignore.

It's been a bad time to be a race-baiter. Nothing but gloom all around.
  • We elected a black president.
  • The Tea Party folks didn't use the N-word.
  • The race riots at the Wisonsin State Fair went the wrong way.
  • Dittos for the racial flash mobs in Chicago, Philadelphia and elsewhere.
  • Britain is fussing about two of their kids being killed in Florida.
  • The Chicago murder rate is skyrocketing with all of the familiar demographics.
  • Voter intimidation has been going the wrong way, too.
And then, like a miracle from the heavens, comes George Zimmerman. Finally, some light in the darkness, a big, juicy chunk of traditional racism that everyone can latch onto! Marches! Speeches! Protests! Demands for justice! Like a battered church shaken in its faith that suddenly finds an image of Mary on a tree stump in its yard, it was too good to be true.

And it was, indeed, too good to be true. Zimmerman was a Democrat, not a Republican. He was half-Hispanic, not totally white. He's got a history of working with the NAACP. Spike Lee tweeted the wrong address and set the lynch mob out to string up an innocent, retired couple. The disappointments go on and on.

The image on the stump turned out to be stains from bug spray. The theological doubt wasn't banished at all. The problems of race-baiting in 2012 remain.

Not the Virgin Mary.

Update: Rereading this later, I don't think it really said what I wanted it to say. Spike Lee, the folks at NBC and the media people who hand-picked the photos of the two people involved wanted to find racism. They wanted it like any religious person wants to find proof of their beliefs. If it meant modifying the audio, well, that wasn't such a big deal, was it? And if it meant using out-of-date photos of Trayvon Martin, it was all for a good cause. And if they neglected Trayvon's Twitter stream at No Limit Nigga, who's to be a judge of such things? It goes on and on and on. It had to be standard racism, it just had to be. Their faith demanded it.

How deflating to stand back, look at all the distortions and realize it was just a bug spray stain.

Friday, April 06, 2012

Cheezburger Of The Day

funny cat pictures - does this face  make me look flat?
see more

When Contagion Isn't

The disease model of debt, so common in conversations about the European Debt Crisis just a few months ago, seems pretty much defunct these days. Spain, crippled by massive government intervention in their economy and dealing with the crash of their own housing bubble, is struggling to find lenders for their huge deficits.
A miserable Spanish bond auction Wednesday highlighted fraying investor confidence in the country's economy, with unemployment rampant, the debt burden climbing and the government's ambitious budget cuts likely to further crimp already weak growth.
Nowhere in the article does it mention firewalls or contagions. Instead, it's a pretty competent and straightforward analysis of the problem - the ECB has stopped printing Euros and buying bonds and now debt-saturated countries are in trouble.
The latest rise in yields could mark a crucial phase in the debt crisis. The ECB's liquidity operations helped ease tensions in the euro-zone periphery as domestic banks gorged on cheap funds to snap up higher-yielding bonds. With the impact of the LTROs now starting to fizzle out, it remains unclear where Spain and Italy will find continued demand for their bonds.
Note that if they balanced their budgets and all they had to do was service existing debt, these problems would be very, very small.

They'll get to that point whether they want to or not. We all will.

Try it! It works!

Thursday, April 05, 2012

The Money Quote Was Pretty Easy To Pick Out

Der Spiegel has an article about a trio of college boys who are offering a sex service for female students who are "are too stressed out during exams to go out at night" and find that it "leads their sex lives to languish." Anyway, here's the punchline.
Female students who spend their evenings drained and fatigued in the library and are in the mood for a little closeness and intimacy are encouraged to send an email.
An email? Whoa, Casanova, you ought to write a book on how you're so smooth with the ladies.

I dunno, it just seems a little, how shall I say it ... industrial to me. For these folks, sex is like having your oil changed. It's been 3 months or 3,000 miles and it's time to do it. If you're looking for intimacy send an email.

You know if all that wooing and romance is too much for you, they ought to just set up a web-based calendar so these, err, meetings can be scheduled online. They can even make an iPhone app for that, if they haven't already.

And if the German girls notice that no one in Germany is having kids and the rest of Europe can't pay their bills, the solution might be to have more random sex. The problem might be an excess of maturity and seriousness in the culture.

Or it might not.

Update: Yes, I know that this is not standard and I saw that only a few girls responded, but what struck me was how it was treated in the article. No judgment, no analysis, just a matter-of-fact story about college students, the leaders of the future, randomly hooking up on a continent that isn't having children and isn't producing enough to cover their bills. You'd think they'd be screaming, "GET SERIOUS, YOU TWITS!", but they're not. It's all ho-hum and tra-la-la.

Good luck with that.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Why Didn't They Go With Him?

A good friend posted this story on her Facebook page.
MANITOWOC, Wis. (CNS) -- Jennifer Martinez waved in vain through tears of fear and frustration as the windowless white bus left the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement deportation center in Chicago shortly after 7 a.m. March 23.

Inside the nondescript bus, Jennifer's husband and the father of her four children, 32-year-old Jaime Martinez Espinal, his wrists cut and scraped from handcuffs binding his hands, prepared for his forced return to Mexico because he was an undocumented U.S. resident.
The story focuses on the tragedy of breaking up the family, but it treats them like pawns in some greater game when, really, they did this all to themselves. The guy was here illegally, he knew what the risks were and he got caught. No, he wasn't robbing and murdering, but he wasn't thrown in jail, either. He was just sent back to where he should have been anyway.

So why didn't his family just shrug their shoulders and accept the consequences of their actions with some grace? Why didn't they start to liquidate their holdings, take the cash and move back to Mexico? It's not like the man was shot by the Gestapo, he was just sent back home.

Geeze, the dude broke the law and got caught. Get over it.

Monday, April 02, 2012

A Strategic Bombing Campaign Against The Neighbor's Dog

Our next door neighbors have a dog. Well, at least it looks like a dog. A small, black dog. We're not sure if it's a dog or some kind of malevolent spirit in canine shape. In any case, it's a horrid dog and it barks all the time. I mean, IT BARKS ALL THE TIME.

We've considered several options in dealing with this Threat To All Sanity, including poisons, guns and my animal-loving daughter's personal favorite, a shovel to the head. Instead of something along those lines, this evening as it was vigorously orating in its backyard, we took a Tupperware full of dog food and launched it, one handful at a time, over the fence into its yard.

To eine Loudenhounden, it must have looked like it was raining kibble. After we spattered their lawn with victuals, the dog retired to its back porch and laid down. It didn't wander about the lawn picking up treats like kids on an Easter Egg Hunt as we expected, it just lay there calmly.

We're not sure what this means. Perhaps it was satisfied that it had propitiated the Sky Dog with its barking to the point that it had been rewarded with treats in the grass and it could now relax.

Update: Never mind. It was only resting its vocal cords for an hour or so. It's back at it. It might be time for a more direct approach.

How Long Can You Maintain A Sugar Rush?

I'm having loads of fun with Fred.

Things seem to be getting better.


But isn't it because the government is injecting massive doses of borrowed money into the economy?


And because the Fed is lending money at 0%?


You can't borrow and print forever. Are we using this temporary respite to reduce debt?


Doesn't it look like a massive sugar rush? How long before the sugar no longer produces the euphoric high?

Sunday, April 01, 2012

Why Are Zombies Always Hungry?

Answering the questions you want answered!

Why are zombies always looking for food? You'd think they'd stop after gorging themselves on a victim, but no, they're up and back at you in no time at all. Why is this?

Well, the answer is pretty obvious when you consider three simple facts.
  1. Zombies want to eat you.
  2. When a zombie bites you, you become a zombie.
  3. Zombies don't eat other zombies.
See how simple that is? They start eating, you become a zombie and presto! you're no longer a food source.

Nom nom nom ... wait a minute ... this tastes like zombie! Yuck!

Hilarious, Yet Effective