Wednesday, March 31, 2010

On the Plus Side, He Seems To Have a Rudimentary Grasp of the Concept of Buoyancy

You have to watch this all the way through. Seriously.

This fellow just helped reform health care. Hurrah!

Delicious Loco Moco!

It's two fried eggs on a burger patty on rice with brown gravy and a side of macaroni salad. A hearty Hawaiian meal.

Have the paddles and the crash cart standing by, OK?

Conference Noms

I'm in Hawaii for a conference. Here's our noms for the morning.

Update: I was testing out the new image support in Blogaway on my Droid. The resolution is much better. I think basic photoblogging is now possible.

A Signpost

In order to balance their budget, Hawaii has gone to a four day school week.

Let that sink in for a second.

How long have we been supporting a 5-day school week in the US? I would think that it goes back to around 1900 or earlier. I'd excerpt some blah blah from the story linked above, but it's really not that necessary. The headline says it all. How screwed up do you have to be to not be able to provide grade school education? It's not like they're not spending any money. The state budget is about $10B. Given their 1.3 million population, That works out to around $8,000 for every man, woman and child in the state.

Where's all that money going? Adjusting for population and inflation, there's no way they were spending that kind of money per person 20-50 years ago. I could do the research, but it's hardly worth it because we all know what would turn up. Unless Hawaii has been building some battleships that we don't know about, they're cutting back the school week because they've been ...


Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Because Their Aquaman Costumes Were at the Cleaners

In an addendum to the previous post about stupidity being the primary reason the ObamaCare bill will have a wildly different outcome from what was intended, I offer this bit of self-embarassment from some of its authors.

Trolling for racism, members of the Congressional Black Caucus paraded through the people protesting the profligacy of the bill. It was a humiliating act of fantasy. The protestors were voicing concern that with an existing $1.4T deficit and a history of not being able to contain the costs of entitlement programs, a monstrous new spending program would cripple the lives of their children by burdening them with mountains of debt.

The Congressional Black Caucus responded by playing "Let's Pretend" and trying to re-enact a civil rights march in Selma or Little Rock. The video is cringe-inducing as you realize just how totally out of touch with reality the congressmen are and how desperately they want to play out a scene that doesn't exist.

Every time I see it posted on the web, I transpose the participants. I have this image of the Congressional Black Caucus dressed up as Aquaman parading through the San Diego Bridal Bazaar trying reenact something from a Marvel comic book*. It seems that embarassing, weird and creepy to me.

* - Not being a reader of comic books, I have no idea what it might be, it just popped into my head as the strangest thing I could imagine. Well, the second strangest. Trying to reenact Selma at the ObamaCare protest is the strangest.

And the Winner Is ... Stupidity!

Yesterday we had a bit of discussion in the comments of this post about whether or not a possible devestating chain reaction was an intentional part of the ObamaCare bill. The idea was that the whole thing would go way over budget in short order as individuals began acting in their own self-interest. Some took the position that it was an intentional feature of the bill to wipe out the insurance industry and others took the view that it was the stupidity of ignorant Congressional staffers who wrote the bill.

Today it looks like stupidity won. Dig this.

But it's the text of the law that matters, and:
The fine print differs from the larger political message. If a company sells insurance, it will have to cover pre-existing conditions for children covered by the policy. But it does not have to sell to somebody with a pre-existing condition. And the insurer could increase premiums to cover the additional cost.
If they screwed up something that important, what else did they screw up? Or do you think they deliberately gave the insurance companies that loophole, in which case, the question is what other surprises are tucked away in the 1000s of pages of fine print?
And this.

And the footnote on Code F:
IRS authority to assess and collect taxes is generally provided in subtitle F, “Procedure and Administration” in the Code. That subtitle establishes the rules governing both how taxpayers are required to report information to the IRS and pay their taxes as well as their rights. It also establishes the duties and authority of the IRS to enforce the Code, including civil and criminal penalties.
So there are penalties for not purchasing insurance. But there's no serious enforcement mechanism allowing the IRS to make sure those penalties get paid?

Given the importance of the mandate to the health reform project, this doesn't make much sense. The law was designed to expand the number of individuals with health insurance. But without the ability to enforce the individual mandate, any expansion will likely be significantly smaller than projected.
The thing is more than 2,400 pages long. It was written in sections by dozens of different authors. It's a sure bet that no one had fully digested the ramifications of all the clauses. Instead, it was probably a grab-bag of special interest inserts into a general framework of health care reform, written by staffers who would be plowing fields behind oxen if they weren't boinking each other in the copy room of some Senator's office.

Here we see a group of congressional staffers bringing new components of the health care bill to the Senate chambers.

Monday, March 29, 2010

The Best Part About Being the Last Man Alive

... is that you can eat whatever you want.

In this scene from The Omega Man, where Charlton Heston is the lone, fully human survivor of a bacteriological war, as soon as he gets over his psychotic phone ringing episode, he races home to a big bowl of red beans and rice with a side of sauerkraut, washed down with beer and finished with a dessert of apples. The resulting days-long concussive fumigation offends no one because, well, there's no one left to offend!

Help Write a Blog Post!

Here at The Scratching Post, we want to make you feel like you're part of the team*. In another fun-filled excursion into html, I will allow you to edit part of this blog post.

This part.

Explanation here.

* - Just not the part that can save to the blog. Whatever you edit will vanish as soon as you navigate away.

One of the Funniest Things Ever Committed to Film

W. C. Fields in The Big Broadcast of 1938, Fields' last film and Bob Hope's first. Watch all the way through this video for the golf sketch. It was a variation of one Fields used in several films and is hilarious. If you get impatient, go to about 3:00.

It's a Louie!

Obamacare Chain Reaction

It's sort of like a nuclear reaction, only more destructive.

Playing off the gaming suggestions made in this post, I'm wondering why the following won't happen:

  1. Some companies who currently provide health insurance dump their employees into public pool to save money

  2. Some of these newly uninsured individuals decide to not get insurance through the pool and pay the fine instead. There's no penalty and only reward since the fine is less than the premiums will be and no insurance company can turn you down when you finally need insurance.

  3. Insurance companies begin to lose customers, but only those who don't need health care. Without the premiums paid by people who don't make use of health care, their profits turn to losses.

  4. To make up for the lost premiums, the insurance companies raise their rates.

  5. The raised rates turn existing insurance plans into "Cadillac" plans.

  6. The companies who did not dump their employees now have to pay extra surcharges on their newly discovered "Cadillac" plans.

  7. Return to step 1.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Frank Rich Thinks You're a Nazi

Imagine what he'd be saying if the Health Care bill had been defeated!
How curious that a mob fond of likening President Obama to Hitler knows so little about history that it doesn’t recognize its own small-scale mimicry of Kristallnacht.

It Looks Like Part of a Coral Reef

... but it's really a tree covered in ice. It's worth a click.

Like Taking Candy from a Baby

The citizens are smarter than the legislators.
We could be looking at a surge in creative ways to game this loopy new system. Say you’re a freelancer who pays $10,000, out of pocket, for insurance. Now that no insurer can turn you down for a “pre-existing condition,” you can drop your own policy and go bare. Pay the feds’ new penalty fee of, what, $695 a year? Then, after you are diagnosed with lung cancer or after you get hit by a city bus, go ahead and buy insurance again. If you never get sick, you reap a going-bare windfall of $9,000-plus a year.

Now say you’re an employer who insures your workers, at a cost of $10,000 a year per minion. Why not just cut ’em loose to buy insurance on their own? (Or they can go bare and surf the pre-existing-condition wave, see preceding paragraph. Pay the new federal penalty of $3,000 a year, per person. Voila! A $7,000-a-year savings, per head.

Colbert I. King Gets 10% Off at Red Lobster

... because if he didn't, he'd write editorials like this one, claiming they were racists instead.

Hey, it may be stupid, but it's a living.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Stoic and Heroic - That's Our Maximum Leader!

If our Maximum Leader looks more pensive than usual, it's because she had a tooth extracted yesterday.

I took her in for her regular check up yesterday and they found that one of her canines had broken and the root had become infected. Cat's teeth are hollow and when they break them off, food and bacteria get shoved up into the root as they eat. The resulting infection had rotted away the root and had started to go beyond that. We were fortunate to have it detected as early as we did.

Cats being stoic, we never knew she was in pain. She had been more cuddly than usual, probably seeking comfort where she could, but her appetite had never waned. That's usually the first sign they show when they're in real distress.

At the vet's she was her normal ornery self. The vet told me that the team had to take special measured as she became violently angry when they tried to sedate her. She's always been a tough, little girl.

She wasn't very happy with me yesterday, but a steady stream of gushifud will go a long way towards mending fences. She devoured two dishes of tuna yesterday and is on an all-gushifud diet for the next two weeks. You can tell she's in pain now because she's particularly agitated, trying to find a way to get comfortable. I've got some painkillers for her, but they're liquid and orally absorbed through her gums and cheeks. I'm not sure how much she gets before she swallows it.

Oh well. This, too, in time shall pass. She'll be back to acting the part of our Maximum Leader in a week or so. Until then she'll get lots of love and attention.

Reality Can Be Legislated Away!

This is just filled with delicious, yet tragic irony. Here is the Democrats' response to companies announcing that they will be taking big losses due to the passage of ObamaCare.
Almost immediately, House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman of California and Rep. Bart Stupak of Michigan, chairman of the Oversight and Investigations panel, announced plans to hold an April 21 hearing on “claims by Caterpillar, Verizon, and Deere that provisions in the new health care reform law could adversely affect their company’s ability to provide health insurance to their employees. These assertions appear to conflict with independent analyses, which show that the new law will expand coverage and bring down costs.”

The committee wants the companies’ CEOs testify and provide evidence of the law’s projected impact.
I'm not sure irony is the right word here. Reality and government economic projections don't agree. The CEOs are going to be brought in and grilled over an open fire until they recant and confess that the Democrat legislators who have never spent a minute in private industry know more than they do about running a business.

Blackened Fish on the Grill, Properly Done

Last time I tried to make my blackened fish on the grill, I was miserly with my coals and ended up with browned fish on the grill. This time, I used a full load of charcoal in the chimney and when I dumped it, built a cone of burning coals that came within 1-2" of the bottom of my big cast-iron skillet.

The result? Fishes full of deliciousness!

Nom nom nom nom!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Cheezburger of the Day

Alan Greenspan is a Violent, Angry, White Racist

You can tell because he sounds like a member of the Tea Party.
March 26 (Bloomberg) -- Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan said the recent rise in Treasury yields represents a “canary in the mine” that may signal further gains in interest rates.

Higher yields reflect investor concerns over “this huge overhang of federal debt which we have never seen before,” Greenspan said in an interview today on Bloomberg Television’s “Political Capital With Al Hunt.”
I'll bet Mr. Greenspan runs around his house at night in his boxers waving the Conferederate flag, screaming epithets against his pets and spitting upon pictures of orphans.

Not a Fringe Group, but a Canary in the Coal Mine

I love how the media is going crazy trying to determine if the Tea Party movement is a bunch of white, racist, angry people or a violent group of angry white people. All of these attempts to classify this movement as "extremist" or "fringe" totally misses the point.

When bunches of middle-class, fully-employed, middle-age folks start gathering to protest national fiscal policies, you're headed for big trouble. If the situation has gotten to the point where adults who would otherwise be cleaning the leaves out of their downspouts or attending junior's baseball game start marching and chanting like a pack of agitated college students it's time to look into the reason behind all the fuss.

Talk radio? Hardly. I used to listen to Rush all the time. He hasn't gotten any shriller or louder.

Racism? Please. Call me when white-on-black violent crimes start climbing dramatically. (PS - anyone seen coverage of the assaults on the Asian students at South Philly High in the news media? No? How shocking.)

Outside funding of the movement? Ha. Look at the people doing the marching and guess what they make per hour. It's a lot cheaper to rent a mob of college students who make minimum wage than it is to rent a mob of professionals who make $80-120K a year.

Anyone who attributes the Tea Party movement to anything other than deep-rooted fear of our fiscal insanity needs to take remedial math classes and then check out loan payments vs. interest rate tables somewhere around the $20,000,000,000,000 column.

Cheep! Squawk! Gaaaaaack!

By the way, Treasury auctions went badly this week. I blame racism.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

A Conundrum

If a tree blogs in the forest, does anyone leave a comment?

Thursday Thirteen, Long Time No See Edition

Looking back into the archives, it seems like the last Thursday 13 I did was on April 12, 2007. That would make it nearly three years since I've done this. Time to catch up and try it again. I always enjoyed Thursday Thirteens. Here we go.

Since my last Thursday Thirteen ...

  1. I have gotten married. One of the easiest and best decisions of my life. I picked up two new sons in the process, one who is 18 and one who is 20. They are teh awesome!

  2. I've moved. Twice. I lived in a custom-built home overlooking the Pacific to a rented townhouse to a 5BR place much farther east. My custom house had a 16' glass dome in the center of it and a balcony off the master bedroom with a 180-degree view of Mission Bay and the Pacific.

  3. I miss the view.

  4. I don't miss much else. Things don't matter. People and relationships matter.

  5. In my last Thursday 13, I referenced Jacob the Syrian Hamster. He has since passed on.

  6. I got onto an econo-blogging kick over a year ago and learned a lot about how banks and money work.

  7. I also became quite the gloomy debt-bore.

  8. Every time I tried to stop econo-blogging, something would happen that would spark my interest and I'd find myself furiously tapping away at the keyboard again ...

  9. I've also gotten into goal setting. Brian Tracy, Zig Ziglar, Earl Nightingale and the rest, I've spent time reading and learning from them all.

  10. "You become what you think about" is a recurring theme. If you think about debt a lot and read Bloomberg and Mish Shedlock and the WSJ, you're pretty much dooming yourself to becoming a debt-bore.

  11. I'm trying to break out of that with some Photoshop artwork. I've got friends at work who are gradually teaching me how to do some clever things in Photoshop and I'm stumbling around, experimenting with them.

  12. Here's my favorite so far.

  13. I've missed writing Thursday 13s!
There. That was pretty easy and a lot of fun. Now to go see what others are doing with this week's Thursday 13 ...

Update: I had problems with the links above and went in and fixed the code. In the future, I'm going to hand code the links for the Thursday 13 info at the bottom.

Update 2: Mr. Linky is back! I can use him instead of the other code. Yay!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Well, This Was Unexpected

Dig this.

A CBS News poll released Wednesday finds that nearly two in three Americans want Republicans in Congress to continue to challenge parts of the health care reform bill ...

The poll finds that 62 percent want Congressional Republicans to keep challenging the bill, while 33 percent say they should not do so.
I have to say, that really surprises me. I didn't think most people cared enough to be as outraged as the Tea Party folks. If I was a Democrat running for office in November, I'd be really worried.

Alien Ocean

Who knows what strange creatures lurk beneath the lavendar waters of the planet Knorb?

Cheezburger of the Day

A Blog as a Film Discussion Group

Yesterday, I was waiting outside a local pharmacy for a prescription for my daughter to be filled. I had 30 minutes to kill, so I dialed up YouTube and began watching The Omega Man. It's been captured and uploaded to YouTube in its entirety in 10-minute segments.

As I watched, I realized that a blog could become a film discussion group pretty easily. All you'd have to do is get a group that was interested in going through a particular movie that you knew was on YouTube, agree on a frequency of posting and then embed the segments in blog posts, in order, one at a time, with plenty of time in between and the comments would become the discussion group.

I'm sure this isn't an original idea, it's just something that popped into my head yesterday.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

ObamaCare Will Lead to Green Jobs!

Greetings, fellow Peronists! I've been doing a little research into our beloved Barack Peron's model for success, Argentina under Peronism, and have found that an ancillary benefit of Peronism is the growth of green jobs!
Several thousand newly homeless and jobless Argentines found work as cartoneros, or cardboard collectors. The 2003 estimation of 30,000 to 40,000 people scavenged the streets for cardboard to eke out a living by selling it to recycling plants. This method accounts for only one of many ways of coping in a country that at the time suffered from an unemployment rate soaring at nearly 25%.
Adjusting for the difference in size, this would lead to about 320,000 cartoneros here in the US. Just think of the beneficial impact this would have on the environment and Global Warming. Reduce, reuse, recycle!

Your local community organizer will give you a quota to fill. Don't let your neighbor beat you out when it comes to receiving your recycling ration chits!

Patria Socialista!

Don't Wait for an International Rescue

... like the Greeks did. It turns out that the cavalry coming over the hill are really just IMF observers.
German and Dutch leaders have concluded in the nick of time that they cannot defy the will of their sovereign parliaments by propping up a country that lied about its deficits, or risk court defeats by breaching the no-bail-out clause in Article 125 of the EU Treaties ...

Mrs Merkel’s speech to the Bundestag was epochal, a defiant warning that henceforth Germany would pursue the German national interest in EU affairs, capped by her call for treaty changes to allow the expulsion of fiscal sinners from Euroland. Nothing seems so permanent about the euro any more.

Days later, Thilo Sarrazin from the Bundesbank blurted out that if Greece cannot pay its bills “it should do what every debtor has to do and file for insolvency. This would be a suitably frightening example for every other potentially unsound state,” he said, pointedly excluding France from the list of sound countries.
Angela Merkel and her German compatriots did the opposite of what Barack Obama and the Democrats did. They listened to their constituents and decided on a course of fiscal sobriety rather than pouring untold billions of borrowed dollars (euros) down a rathole.

The lesson from all of this is that there is no Tooth Fairy, no Easter Bunny, no Santa Claus and no one to save you as you borrow and spend your way down the drain. The Germans, wisely, are more interested in saving Germany than saving Greece. When push comes to shove, the Japanese are going to be more interested in Japan than the US and their nearly one trillion dollar stockpile of US Treasuries will get sold to pay for their upcoming fiscal tsunami. When that happens, we're going to get whacked, big time.

The lesson needs to be learned at all levels. The best and surest way to prosperity, whether for the individual resident of San Diego, Compton or El Paso, the city of Long Beach, Spokane or Charleston, the state of California, Texas or Maine, the nation of Greece, Italy or the US is to take care of yourself.

There is no international bailout, no government handout, no education tax credit that you can count on in the long run. It's all up to you.

The hits just keep on coming!

Monday, March 22, 2010

This Has Been an Historic Week!

We're beginning to see the fruits of Peronism at last!
March 22 (Bloomberg) -- The bond market is saying that it’s safer to lend to Warren Buffett than Barack Obama (Peron - sic).

Two-year notes sold by the billionaire’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. in February yield 3.5 basis points less than Treasuries of similar maturity, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Procter & Gamble Co., Johnson & Johnson and Lowe’s Cos. debt also traded at lower yields in recent weeks, a situation former Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. chief fixed-income strategist Jack Malvey calls an “exceedingly rare” event in the history of the bond market.
The editorial staff here at the 'Post is considering a change to our banner, logo and motto in support of Barack Peron and his undying commitment to Peronism.
In Congress a few days ago, some of our legislators have asked what Perónismis. Perónism is humanism in action; Perónism is a new political doctrine, which rejects all the ills of the politics of previous times; in the social sphere it is a theory which establishes a little equality among men, which grants them similar opportunities and assures them of a future so that in this land there may be no one who lacks what he needs for a living, even though it may be necessary that those who are wildly squandering what they possess may be deprived of the right to do so, for the benefit of those who have nothing at all.
Patria Socialista!

And Here I Thought The Catholic Church Was In Decline

Not so. I guess all the breathless reports of Catholic alienation and dissolution were wrong. Who could have guessed?

There Will Be a Successful Court Challenge to Obamacare

... and it will come from NARAL, wiping out whatever idiotic executive order Obama used to dupe the dimwitted Stupak into voting for this monstrosity. You can't use an executive order to override congressional law. If you could, the president would have dictatorial powers.

The best and the brightest.

Quick Hit

Man, his this been a long time coming or what? Washington Post: "Obama plans blitz to boost public opinion of health-care effort." Finally! Where has the guy been all this time?

Back Off, We're Doing Important Work Here

Known fuddy-duddy and buzzkill John Lipsky is harshing our mellow.

March 21 (Bloomberg) -- Advanced economies face “acute” challenges in tackling high public debt, and unwinding existing stimulus measures will not come close to bringing deficits back to prudent levels, said John Lipsky, first deputy managing director of the International Monetary Fund.

All G7 countries, except Canada and Germany, will have debt-to-GDP ratios close to or exceeding 100 percent by 2014, Lipsky said in a speech today at the China Development Forum in Beijing. Already this year, the average ratio in advanced economies is expected to reach the levels seen in 1950, after World War II, he said.
World War 2? That was no big deal, man.

These days, we've got real problems to solve.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Link of the Day

... is this one. The tutorial is fantastic, but the images are better. Click on the Gallery link on the sidebar of that site. The guy is a genius with the camera.

H/T: Tim. I started clicking around from a link at his wonderful site and found this one.

Cheezburger of the Day

Playing with my Airbrush

... out in the backyard and I think I got too close to Momma Daisy. Sorry about that, old girl!

Orange Velvet

... from Momma Daisy. It's worth a click on the image to see the bigger version.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

For the Bondage Scenes, We Need OSHA Standards for the Handcuffs

Dig this tidbit from Mark Steyn's column today.
Last Thursday, the California Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board voted to set up a committee to examine whether condoms should be required on all pornographic film shoots.

California has run out of money, but it hasn't yet run out of things to regulate.

For a government regulatory hearing, the testimony was livelier than usual. Porn star Madelyne Hernandez recalled an especially grueling scene in which she had been obliged to have sex with 75 men. The bureaucrats nodded thoughtfully, no doubt contemplating another languorous 18-month committee assignment looking into capping the number of group-sex participants at 60 per scene.
And that, my friends, illustrates why I'm coming to the conclusion that our politics and finances are symptoms of our societal decay. We no longer have the ability to discriminate between good and evil. We're racking up mammoth debts and have filled our prisons to overflowing trying to make the results of good and bad decisions equal because discriminating between good and bad is in itself, wrong. We don't dare say that Madelyne Hernandez is doing something evil. We have shrunk the list of things which differentiate good and evil as a society to the point where a woman who is filmed having sex with 75 men in a single session isn't held up as an example of someone who has failed, but instead is someone with a legitimate career that our government must protect.

There is no conceivable way that a nation that seeks to protect such people from such actions won't bankrupt itself.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Cheezburger of the Day

McCain was Sane

... when many other Republicans were nuts. Just a few years ago, Senate Republicans threatened the "Nuclear Option" where they would do away with the filibuster rule so that they could get past the obstructions of the Democrats. John McCain rightly saw this as a weapon that would get out of control and be used by whatever party was in power to ram things through. Now we have the Democrats doing the same thing. The whole "deem and pass" thing is something that will come back and bite us all if it succeeds.

The day is coming (in November, most likely) when the Democrats will lose control of the legislature and then (perhaps in 2012) the presidency. All of the hideous, unthinkable weapons they are unearthing right now to pass Obamacare will be available for the Republicans with a monstrous precedent set in this gigantic bill. There will be nowhere to hide then. Nothing will be off the table. With legislation this sweeping being passed by chicanery, how will future opponents to similarly huge changes in our nation be able to stand up against it? Each election cycle will become more and more important as control of the legislature and presidency will give the victor control of the machineries being created today. Every election will look like the last few minutes of Beneath the Planet of the Apes where the two sides fight over the control of the Doomsday Bomb.

If you thought elections were bad before, you haven't seen anything yet.

Worship at the altar of almighty political power for it is the Alpha and the Omega!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

It's Not "How?", It's "When?"

To me, a lot of the debate over the health care bill is academic. We may well end up having this atrocity passed, but it will never take full effect. We'll run out of money first.
The country’s top-notch credit rating is in danger of being downgraded, Moody’s is warning—and if a ratings agency that completely failed to predict the financial crisis is sounding the alarm, we should all be afraid.

Here’s how you know the massive amounts of debt compiled by the Bush administration, and the even greater debt loads promised as part of Barack Obama’s agenda, is reaching crisis proportions: Even the Wall Street bond-rating agencies are now sounding the alarm bells.
Moody's does not like to downgrade anyone and typically waits until it's too late to pull the trigger. Their warnings are no joke. Neither are our unfunded liabilities to our existing social program behemoths. We will never be able to pay for the things we promised, not no way, not no how. We will end up making deep cuts in our social spending. It is impossible to avoid it.

The only question is when and under what circumstances. We can either do it by choice and start soon, or we can wait for a Greek-style fiscal collapse and do it in a panic. If we pass the Obamacare monstrosity it will just hasten the day of panic, shortening the amount of time we have to decide as a society to voluntarily cut back on our social spending. The timing of our action will determine the depth of the cuts. The sooner we get started, the higher we will be able to draw the line determining what gets saved.

A society that was aware of the impending danger and had compassion for the poor, the elderly and the handicapped would start now. A society that was greedy and selfish would pass Obamacare and continue the party until the country fell apart.

The President playing Jeopardy. H/T: IMAO.

Obamacare - the Movie!

H/T: Jeff Burton.

Obamacare and the Nivelle Offensive

Over at The Liberator Today, good friend B-Daddy has a very nice post discussing cost estimates for Obamacare. He is way overthinking the problem. This isn't about health care any more, it's about saving the remainder of Barack Obama's presidency. This is the Nivelle Offensive for the Democrats.

In 1917, Robert Nivelle was the Commander-in-Chief of the French Army. He developed a plan for a massive offensive that he thought would end the war. It involved using a large number of the new French tanks and a creeping artillery barrage that would move forward at a man's walking pace. His plans met with considerable opposition in the French government. After all, the disastrous Somme Offensive a year earlier had slaughtered 60,000 British troops in a single day.

Nivelle staked everything on his plan. In the end, he threatened to resign if he was not allowed to proceed with the attack. Afraid of the consequences of their C-in-C resigning and publicly lashing out at them, the French politicians caved.

Prior to the offensive, a German raid on the French trenches resulted in the Germans capturing a complete set of the battle plans. They reacted immediately, withdrawing from all exposed lines and moving their forces back onto a series of hills overlooking the battlefield. They dug in deeply, using everything they had learned about defensive warfare in the last few years. Nivelle knew that his plan had been compromised. He knew that the Germans had withdrawn and that the plan now attacked German positions that no longer existed. He knew the Germans had dug in.

He attacked anyway. By this time, Nivelle had too much personally at stake to withdraw. It was more important that he roll the dice and try to win than it was to save the lives of his men.

The French were slaughtered. It was the Somme all over again. The tanks were blown apart by German artillery. The weather was awful and the infantry couldn't keep up the required pace. German artillery, expertly registered on the battlefield, blasted whatever French forces weren't hung up on the barbed wire and machine gunned by the German infantry. The French medical corps, incompetent under the best of conditions, were totally overwhelmed. Prepared for 10,000 casualties, they received more than 100,000. Communications were so bad that the French artillery became convinced that the French troops had not yet left the trenches and proceeded to "walk" over the battlefield one more time, while the French troops were there. They blew their own countrymen apart.

It was a total disaster, done at the behest of a man who valued his own honor more than the lives of his troops. Does that sound familiar?

"Trust me, guys. This is going to work."

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Decreasing Premiums by 3000%

... would amount to free health care for every living thing on this planet, including the insects. After which we would all be able to buy ourselves Ferraris with the profits.

Check out this video around 1:11 in:

He's now just spouting nonsense. I particularly liked the part where the crowd booed and hissed at the mention of insurance companies. After they've eaten all private enterprise, what will they do then?

Who is John Galt?

If You Chain Them To Their Desks, They Can't Leave

Keep those traitors in line!
Health Reform and Primary Care Physicians
• 46.3% of primary care physicians (family medicine and internal medicine) feel that the passing of health reform will either force them out of medicine or make them want to leave medicine.
That's from that right-wing, racist, hate speech rag, the New England Journal of Medicine. Well, we have a solution for that, you price gouging creeps.

You should see what we have planned for the swine that work for the insurance companies!

New York Needs Help? Well, Let's Get To It!

Dig this.
Gov. Paterson said yesterday the feds have to help bail out cash-starved New York to help plug the more than $9 billion budget gap facing the state.

"We are struggling for survival to close this budget deficit," Paterson said during a town-hall meeting in White Plains, his second budget-focused event in the past week.

He added: "There is going to have to be federal relief here."
Followed by this bit of Jacob Marlyism.
State Treasurer Timothy P. Cahill, an independent candidate for governor, today offered a wide-ranging and scathing criticism of the state’s universal health care law, saying it is bankrupting Massachusetts and will do the same nationally, if a similar plan is passed in Congress.

"If President Obama and the Democrats repeat the mistake of the health insurance reform here in Massachusetts on a national level, they will threaten to wipe out the American economy within four years,” Cahill said in a press conference in his office.
Of course, my own California blows these examples away.

Meanwhile, credit rating agencies are starting to warn the US of a possible downgrade and both Japan and China have become net sellers of US debt. Clearly, the solution here is to pass into law another monster entitlement.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Goals and Parenting

Right now, I'm working my way through Goals! How to Get Everything You Want--Faster Than You Ever Thought Possible,by Brian Tracy. It's not a book you just read if you want to get the most out of it, it's one where you need to scratch your head and think your way through the exercises at the end of each chapter that lead you to create your goals and plans.

As I do this I've discovered some blindingly obvious truths. Most of my goals involve my family, primarily my children. As a parent, you can't have a goal that causes direct results in their lives. For example, it is unrealistic for me to set a goal for my daughter to play premiere-level club soccer. I can't make that happen, she has to make that happen. In order for that to happen, it has to be one of her goals. Instead, as a parent, my goals are to see that they use good decision-making techniques in their lives. Here are some of the ones I've got as goals right now.

Do they:
  • See failure as a learning experience and not a disaster?

  • React with grace and cleverness when things go wrong?

  • Work hard at being good at something that others value? (This is the key to having choices in life.)

  • Treat others with love and kindness and recognize that their talents are gifts from God? (Skills are not the same here - to me, a skill is a talent that you've worked to refine.)

  • Are they exploring the things they love with a sense of freedom and joy? (Translated: "Turn the &#@*@*(! TV off and get yer lazy @ss outside!" Or something like that.)
I'd really love to read your thoughts on this. As I go through the exercises in the book, I learn things that I didn't expect. I had planned to blog my journey through the questions Brian Tracy asks, but I've found that the first time through is too mentally taxing to both answer the questions and commit my thoughts to prose. I'll probably come back to this in a month or two when I've had some time to digest what I've learned.

Klepto Dream

This morning I woke up from a really weird dream. In the dream, I was walking down a suburban, residential street when I came across a Dominos pizza delivery pickup truck where the delivery guy had run inside the house to make a delivery, but left the keys in the truck, the door open and the motor running.

I stole the truck.

From there, the rest of the dream was consumed by the feeling of "Ooops. Now what?" As I drove, I ate a pizza that was still in the truck, waiting for the next delivery, and noodled around ways to ditch the truck and escape. The longer I drove the truck, the worse the tension got as I realized that calls were being made and cops were converging on the scene. I finally left it on some side street and ran off. I woke up before the coppers nabbed me.

Moral to the dream: Leave this little guy alone!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Shouldn't James Cameron Feel Conflicted?

Dig this:
March 15 (Bloomberg) -- News Corp. will earn $350 million to $400 million from James Cameron’s “Avatar” once the world’s top-grossing film is also released on pay television and DVD, said two people with knowledge of its financial performance.

The sum represents News Corp.’s about 40 percent cut of as much as $1 billion that the film is expected to earn for its Twentieth Century Fox and “Avatar” investors, said the people, who declined to be named because the projections are private. Fox also collects a distribution fee on the box-office revenue.

News Corp.’s share amounts to almost half of the New York- based company’s average quarterly operating profit in the past year.
An evil, greedy, capitalist multinational corporation lead by Rupert Murdoch will be using the money from James Cameron's story of primitive people fighting off an evil, greedy, capitalist multiplanetary corporation. Good Lord, Fox News will be using this money!

If only there was some way to create movies attacking evil, greedy, capitalist multinational corporations without using evil, greedy, capitalist multinational corporations to make them!

Fighting The Man

No time to blog. Busy fighting The Man. Using Dreamweaver to write documents instead of MS Word. I think Microsoft is on to me. Some people are following me. They look like software engineers, too. One of them looks like a tiny paperclip. Gotta run and change my IP address so they can't track me. I'll post again when I'm behind a safe firewall.

Great Online Text-to-Speech Service

Lately I've been playing around with text-to-speech services that allow you to write a document, upload it and then record it as an MP3. I just found a free service (registration required) that produces fantastic results. SpokenText is easily the best one I've tried. The results are natural and very listenable. The document uploader was a bit finicky - it didn't like my bulleted lists, but as soon as I took out the bullets and numbering in my Word document, it accepted it and gave me a great recording.


While up in Sutter Creek a few weekends back, we came across a winery whose theme was old cars. Inside of a warehouse was a real, live Amphicar! The Amphicar was a German creation from the early 60s that was both a car and a boat. I'd seen videos and pictures before, but never a real one. Around 3700 of them were made.

If you look carefully, you can see the propellers under the rear end.

This Amphicar wasn't quite ready to jump in the water, but it was certainly restorable.

Here's a video of someone who had restored theirs and boated around with it a bit.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Life in Humboldt County

Our Grand Inquisitor has links to a series of articles from a newspaper in Humboldt describing the life of pot growers. As you read them, you get a sense of decay - physical, moral, spiritual, social and structural. Everything is falling apart in slow motion and only some seem to be aware of it. It's like the clock is running backwards and the world is going from 2010 to 1830 or thereabouts.

The articles in the series are relatively short and thoroughly engrossing.

A Coffee Party Report

Our buddy B-Daddy attended a meeting of the San Diego Coffee Party. Here's a snippet of what he heard and saw.
The leadership of the meeting had a very tight focus and stuck to the agenda see documents below. The leader, er facilitator, wore a black T shirt that said (a self styled Ocean Beach “progressive” group) in green letters and a little peace sign for the O. I was struck by how often he kept saying how “national” wants us to do this or that. He started sounding like Michael Scott on The Office, talking about how “corporate” says this or that. Because they never really got around to articulating any positions, nor could they get any agreement about a common position, it had the feel of a front organization from the 30’s or 50’s ...

Honestly, I can’t see where this is going, but it has clear national direction. But it has this whole hierarchical feel to it, unlike the Tea Party which is very decentralized. No one seemed to mind either.

Winery Cat

While wine tasting in Lodi and Sutter Creek a few weekends back, we found several wineries with cats. They were all friendly and happy to be photographed (and, presumably, turned into lolcats). I liked this little fellow particularly. Thanks to the lolBuilder at I Can Has Cheezburger, he is now immortalized on the Interweb Tubes!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Why the Greek Debt Crisis is a Societal One

... and not confined to Greece.

In continuing to read about the Greek debt crisis, I came across this post regarding Germany's attitude towards the Greeks.
A short item, which takes the breath way, on how the problems of countries like Greece has encouraged the German government to insist that unless these countries are as economically "fit" as Germany is or claims to be, they cannot participate in EU decisions.

Well, I guess such a comment makes it explicit that as far as Germany is concerned, the strong states rule, and the weaker ones should shut up and do as they are told.
The post and the comments below it are filled with the sage nodding of heads and the general agreement that those pushy Germans are at it again, trying to lord their position over the smaller countries. This is just economic bullying, they say. That attitude is not confined to this site, it's common to all of the blog posts I've read on the subject.

It's also indicative of the societal problems that lead to the debt crisis in the first place.

Greece has been reduced to crawling on all fours, begging for handouts because they blew their money on garbage, borrowed more, blew that, borrowed more, blew that and so on until they had racked up such a mountain of debt that there was no way they could make the payments. In well-run families and businesses, debt is used to acquire things that will provide a long-term payoff such a real estate or new plants and equipment. In poorly-run families and businesses, debt is used to meet immediate needs.

Greece has borrowed for years to meet immediate needs. If their borrowed money had been invested wisely, their GDP would have risen to the point where they'd be making a profit and they would have paid back their debts and gone on to create a surplus to cushion future crises. Instead, they just blew the money.

Now that they're slithering up to everyone's door, asking for handouts, the sympathy in the comments of these posts is ... with the profligate Greeks and not the shrewd Germans.

And that's how we got here.

Link of the Day


Retire to Beautiful Gary, Indiana!

Yesterday, I watched a video of glum pessimists Mish Shedlock and Marc Faber talk about how we were all doomed here in the US. Pensions are going to be slashed, deflation in wages is going to occur followed by wild inflation from the Fed printing money and so forth. In thinking about that, I wondered what I would do if I was on the verge of retirement and the future seemed dark.

I might move to Gary, Indiana*. In the heart of the rust belt, Gary's real estate prices are depressed. Assuming you owned a $250,000 home somewhere else and still owed $100,000 on it, you could sell the house, take your proceeds and buy this cute cottage in Gary for about $50K and have $100K left over to bank.

Brick house in good condition with partially finished basement. 4 bedrooms, 1 1/2 baths.

While this scenario isn't real for me, it is for many others. You'd think that the Rust Belt would offer some excellent options for retirees. Yes, the weather is brutal in the winter, but the cost of living is low and you'd be able to own your own home free and clear in most cases. After that, you'd be able to live on your reduced pensions and battered 401Ks.

I wonder if anyone in the Midwest has considered marketing the place as a retirement option.

* - In all seriousness, I'd be much more likely to move to somewhere in the Deep South, but the idea is the same.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Front Yard

... in bloom. I wass driving through Ocean Beach yesterday and stopped to get some surf photos to play with in Photoshop when I came across this. I like the way the perspective worked despite the small actual size of the flower bed. Enjoy!

It's Because the Job of Commanding Officer of an SSBN Is Too Easy

... I mean, it's not like being a community organizer or something like that. That's a real hard job.

Here's what prompted this post.

What Size Blender Do You Think They Used?

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Cheezburger of the Day

Link of the Day

"I joined the University of California faculty in 1966 and so have watched a good many of them, but have never seen one less impressive that this year's. In 1964 there was focus and clarity. This one was brain-dead. The former idealism and sense of purpose had degenerated into a self-serving demand for more money at a time when both state and university are broke, and one in eight California workers is unemployed. The elite intellectuals of the university community might have been expected to offer us insight into how this problem arose, and realistic measures for dealing with it. But all that was on offer was this: get more money and give it to us."

What I've Concluded from Watching Greece and California and the Rest

Debt is not a cause of a problem, it is a symptom of a problem. Dittos for prison incarceration rates. A society's value system establishes the asymptotic limit of its pathologies.

That is, as we incrementally decided that marriage was not a prerequisite for children, we established our prison incarceration rate which we have gradually approached. As we incrementally decided that the government borrowing money was just fine, we established a level of debt that we proceeded to approach.

I think you could argue that's not substantially Barack Obama's fault that the deficit is $1.6T. Really, President Obama is a symptom of our culture. That his notions of social justice have disconnected him from fiscal realities is a symptom of our notions of social justice.

We've Seen All Of This Before

March 11 (Bloomberg) -- Greek hospitals, airports and schools were shut and police scuffled with protesters as unions staged the second general strike this year against government budget cuts to curb the European Union’s biggest deficit.
The major hospital network Miami relies on for trauma care is close to insolvency and could be cut off by suppliers. Executives for Jackson Health System surprised its governing board Tuesday by saying the nonprofit is near or already in a "death spiral" as it runs low on cash ...

If the Jackson Health System runs out of cash, the county would be responsible for paying Jackson's 10,500 union workers ...

The county meanwhile is battling its own budget woes, needing to find another $48 million in cuts this fiscal year, making it extremely difficult to find more money for Jackson.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Have You Visited WannaSmile Lately?

You should.

Link of the Day

... comes from the Secular Apostate. That's some pretty high production values there.

There Isn't Enough Competetion in Health Care Insurance

... and that's why it costs so much! Yep, that's the ticket! It's the greedy insurance companies who hold a monopoly on health care and are gouging the public like crazy!

Dig this (partial) list of insurance companies in the US. If only there was some competition to encourage price cutting and improved service!

More Ackbar

At work, Admiral Ackbar's famous line, "It's a trap!" has become one of our regular sayings. Last night, while showing an Ackbar video to my kids, I stumbled across this one. Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

The Ultimate Argument Against Big Government

... comes from Democratic Congressman Eric Massa when he describes how Rahm Emanuel threatened him.
"I'm sitting there showering, naked as a jaybird, and here comes Rahm Emanuel, not even with a towel wrapped around his tush, poking his finger in my chest, yelling at me because I wasn't gonna vote for the president's budget," Massa said. "Do you know how awkward it is to have a political argument with a naked man?"
No, Eric, we don't know how awkward it is. If we hadn't given you and your pinheaded, egomaniac friends too much power long ago, we still wouldn't. And thanks for the mental image of two naked, pampered, overfed, middle-aged dorks arguing about how to throw a trillion and a half more dollars on our collective credit cards so they could slop the troughs of groups of lazy parasites.

This, dear readers, is what happens when you let the government make too many decisions for you and spend too much of the money you earned. You get front-page stories about the lives of dreary, little trolls who would otherwise be selling insurance from a phone bank in a cubicle in Albany or (in Rahm's case) be in and out of jail on mundane and unimaginative extortion and racketeering charges. Instead, these pipsqueak windbags without the intelligence or gumption it takes to run a taco shop are given all kinds of press and we're expected to hang on their every anecdote.

If that doesn't turn you into a Milton Friedman small government fanatic then you need serious help.

"¿Dónde está Barack? La basura está llena de nuevo!"

H/T: Ann Althouse and the Puppy Blender.

Monday, March 08, 2010

How Much Exercise Does Bodie the Wonder Dog Require Every Day?


Thin Ice

This is the second or third time I've seen the carry trade discussed lately and it's easily the most accessible version. I thought I'd share the link and an excerpt here. The tagline for the article is "When interest rates rise, don't be surprised how low markets can go."
Government can only issue debt so long as there are willing buyers at reasonable interest rates. This is so far being achieved by the Fed by keeping short-term rates artificially low so that banks and hedge funds can borrow at 25 basis points and use this money to buy treasuries yielding 3.5% to 4%. This is called the carry trade, and it is going on today on a massive scale.

The systemic danger of this carry trade activity is that it is done by institutions that leverage themselves by 10 to 30 times. This means they absolutely cannot afford to have long-term interest rates (which the Fed doesn't control) go up. A rise in rates means the value of their holdings will quickly drop much more than all the interest they have earned on those holdings.

In short, at the first sign interest rates may rise, the carry-trade bubble will burst and everyone will rush to sell.
The article is predicting inflation, not necessarily a massive market collapse, although I've seen that predicted as well. As an aside, one of my ex-favorite bloggers, Mish Shedlock, has been blogging nothing but econodoom for the last year and a half and his followers have missed the entire 2009-10 bull market. What this has taught me is that fundamentals may drive the market in the long run, they don't drive the market in the short to medium run.

Food for thought.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Getting Rid of my Tvilum-Scanbirk

I've got a Tvilum-Scanbirk I bought at Ikea several years ago. I'm thinking of getting rid of it and replacing it with a Lardnorb or a Slathfest. What do you think I should do?

Sun Cat

It's cold and rainy today, so I thought I'd post an old photo from the Maximum Leader's archives. Enjoy!

Would You Trust a Financial Advisor

... who recommended massive borrowing?
WASHINGTON – A new congressional report released Friday says the United States' long-term fiscal woes are even worse than predicted by President Barack Obama's grim budget submission last month.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office predicts that Obama's budget plans would generate deficits over the upcoming decade that would total $9.8 trillion. That's $1.2 trillion more than predicted by the administration.
Other arguments aside, no matter what the guy said, wouldn't his credibility be destroyed such recommendations? Wouldn't you naturally avoid all other suggestions the fellow made?

Saturday, March 06, 2010

The Shape of Things to Come

A friend at work, knowing I'm a debt geek, asked me what was up with the Greeks these days. I told him about their austerity measures and that it looked like the Germans were finally going to be sufficiently satisfied to bail them out. In the process of discussing it, it dawned on me that the austerity measures did not change the course of Greek society, they just applied the brakes. A little bit. There was no move towards a market economy or deregulation in a country where starting even the tiniest of businesses requires approval from 11 different government entities.

The slothful, trundling hulk of Greek society shuffles on, just more slowly.

Reading this piece by Mark Steyn today, a particular paragraph caught my eye.
Indeed. Look at it from the Dems' point of view. You pass Obamacare. You lose the 2010 election, which gives the GOP co-ownership of an awkward couple of years. And you come back in 2012 to find your health care apparatus is still in place, a fetid behemoth of toxic pustules oozing all over the basement, and, simply through the natural processes of government, already bigger and more expensive and more bureaucratic than it was when you passed it two years earlier. That's a huge prize, and well worth a midterm timeout.
Mark has long been arguing that passing ObamaCare will forever change the nation. No matter what happens after that, we'll never be able to undo it and we'll be just another limpid Eurostate. The Greeks are proving him right. In the face of economic catastrophe, brought on by disconnecting earning from having and ignoring what things cost in favor of what they simply want to have, the Greeks are not moving to dismantle any part of their bloated, parasitic govenment.

Argentina proves Mark right as well. Peronism, the blueprint for the Obama Administration, was economic fascism that drove Argentina into default, currency devaluations and chaos. It's also still the way to get elected in Argentina.

I used to think that Mark Steyn was a pessimist. The Greeks are proving him right.

America or Greece? Both.

Friday, March 05, 2010

Bed Jumpers

... a Flickr group. Dig their slide show:

Selfishness at the Top

Backing off from the health care debate and just looking at the mechanisms at play, I can't help but marvel at the utter selfishness of President Obama. His party is cruising for mammoth losses in the next election, but all he's concerned with is his health care ambitions. Real, concrete signs are out there in the form of Scott Brown and others that his policies are going to lead his compatriots to defeat, but he doesn't care. It's all about him.

Can you imagine the conversations going on in the halls of Congress within the ranks of the Democrats right now? Do you think that many of them see him as an ally or a friend? Don't look at this as a political event, but a human and personal one. Your boss is knowingly choosing actions that will most likely cost you your job and he's asking you to support them.

Is it any wonder that some of them are bailing out right now, probably to line up jobs as lobbyists? Congresscritters have families to support, too. Once the election is over and you've gotten crushed, the paychecks will stop and you, the nondescript, pipsqueak congressman from the fifth district in Arkansas will have to find another job.

And every day, the dude at the top shows that he doesn't care about that at all.

Not Blackened, but Browned Catfish

... or maybe yellowed.

I tried to make blackened catfish on the grill a few nights ago, but I was too miserly with my coals. I figured since all I needed to do was heat a single cast iron skillet, I could get away with fewer than usual coals and just pile them up in a cone under the pan.

Bzzzt. Wrong answer.

When Paul Prudhomme says get the pan hot, he means hot. In his cookbook, he tells you the pan cannot be too hot and you want to see white ash forming at the bottom of the pan from the oils used to season the skillet between uses. I didn't even get close.

The end result were catfish fillets boiled in butter. My wife loved them, but I was disappointed with the results. Cooking blackened anything is a dramatic affair with lots of smoke and usually a butter fire erupting in the pan as you pour more over the food. This was a bland event with the butter burbling away at the bottom and the fish lounging about in the lake of butter.


Thursday, March 04, 2010

Peter Tork Playing Louis Jordan

... does it get any better than this?

Railway to Nowhere

Quotes to Ponder

... perhaps with the help of very strong psychotropic drugs.

Here are a few tidbits from Greek labor leaders protesting budget cuts that will prevent a total economic collapse.
“The measures are grossly unfair,” Dimitris Bratis, the president of the Greek teaching federation, which will strike for 24 hours tomorrow, told NET TV today. “We’re being asked to pay for the crisis. Greek taxpayers are being asked to foot the bill again.”
Err, of course they are. That's where the borrowed money has been going, you know. That was good, but here's the grand national champion quote so far from the crisis.
“The attempt to fix the fiscal crisis underlines clearly the government’s attempt to move the cost of this attempt to the real economy,” Nikos Skorinis, the secretary of GSEVEE said in an e-mailed statement.
Wow. The underlying mental construct that leads one to make that statement without their head exploding must envision the government as something like this.

Update: Upon reflection, this quote may not be as paralyzingly stupid as I had originally thought. By "real economy" he may be differentiating between the legitimate portion of the Greek economy and the black market where no taxes are paid. The estimates I've seen suggest that as much as 30% of the economy is hidden and therefore contributes nothing to the support of the government.

You faithless Money Fairy! Come back here and give us more monies!

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Milton Friedman and Greece

Over at the WSJ is an excellent, 10-minute video on what happened in Greece. I don't believe that it's subscriber only, so you can pop over and watch it if you'd like. What you see, unspoken in the video, is a society of people who have detached earning from having.

In all of the interviews, the people speak of the government as if it were some kind of mystical being that provides goods and services conjured out of thin air. They complain about price or availability or wages, but nowhere do they discuss the cost of producing the things they want and who will pay that cost. Reality requires the equations to be balanced, cost equals price paid, but that equation has been locked away in a closet somewhere and ignored. It's like watching people jump off of a chair and then after they land, complain to each other that they fell instead of floated in mid-air. Equations as immutable as those of physics are dismissed as irrelevant or rather, are ignored completely.

That air of unreality is echoed in this little clip of Milton Friedman being interviewed by wannabe Greek*, Phil Donahue.

Phil, like the Euros and the American Left, believes in the moral and productive superiority of the government and was not moved by the abject failure of his philosophy all around him. Socialism failed in 1979 the same as it is failing now in Greece.

* - Well, Greek or European or American progressive or tax-cut fanatic American conservative. Phil wants things, but denies that someone has to make them and that someone has to be paid what that thing is worth.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Very Unhappy with the iPod Touch

Our trip up to Sutter Creek featured two 9-hour car rides as we travelled to and from San Diego. We had my wife's iPod Touch in our car and a special connector to hook it to our stereo system. The stereo, original to the car, did not feature an audio jack, so I could not connect my Droid to it. We were short of time (of course!) leaving San Diego, so I only put a few things of my own on the iPod, but I figured that once we arrived in Sutter Creek, we could download the rest as the house we rented had WiFi.

Bzzzt. Wrong answer.

It turns out that the iPod Touch cannot download from sites like, at least not and save the file to memory. It can stream from there, but it can't store it. My laptop and Droid were loaded with good things, but we couldn't transfer them via the Interweb Tubes and we didn't have the connector cable for the iPod. Since the iPod doesn't use a standard USB cable, we were out of luck.

On the morning we left, I tried, figuring I could get an audiobook for the road. I signed up for the service and then using Safari on the iPod Touch, bought one of Rita Mae Brown's Mrs. Murphy mystery books.

Bzzzt. Wrong answer.

Audible doesn't work with the iPod Touch. I bought the book and then it just sat there on the server. All downloads have to come through iTunes (which I hate on my machines anyway). My Droid would have had no problem with this.

That does it for me. Apple's insistence on locking everything down really ticked me off. I want an Internet appliance of my own, not their Internet appliance that I just happen to be borrowing. No more Apple products in my house. Yes, the user interface and is very swoopy and cool and all, but the product isn't very usable. It's poor performance is masked by a lot of slick flashiness.


The Best Goals Book Out There

... is Goals! How to Get Everything You Want--Faster Than You Ever Thought Possible,by Brian Tracy. At least this is the best of the ones I've read, and I've spent quite a bit of time going through them. I took this with me on our weekend jaunt to Sutter Creek and went through it. It's a very comprehensive book taking you from determining your goals from first principles all the way to establishing a plan of action and following through on it. I'm going to be recommending it at work for my team.

There aren't any surprises in this book if you've read much on the subject, but Tracy does the best job I've yet seen of writing up the strategies and concepts in an easily-read way. As I go through it myself, I'm going to blog part of the process here.