Saturday, March 31, 2012


FRANKFURT—The German central bank will no longer accept government or other bank bonds from Ireland, Greece and Portugal as collateral, becoming the first euro-zone central bank to exercise a new privilege to protect their balance sheets from the region's debt crisis ...

(T)he Deutsche Bundesbank has decided to no longer accept bonds guaranteed by Ireland, Greece and Portugal, starting with €500 million ($665.1 million) already on its balance sheet, a spokeswoman said Friday.

All three countries are receiving loans from the EU and the IMF to keep their governments afloat.

"Our credit assessment of these government-guaranteed bank bonds does not meet the minimum requirements for collateral," the Bundesbank spokeswoman said.
That can't happen here, right?

Right Wing Crazies And Government Austerity Programs

Drastic budget cuts are hurting the poor.

We can't keep underfunding crucial government programs if we ever want to Win The Future.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Separation Of You And State

Doesn't this kind of thing seem surreal?
On Friday, euro-zone finance ministers meeting in Copenhagen hope to make a decision on how much more in available funding will be committed to the twin bailout funds. A draft agreement envisions lifting the cap on the combined total of both of them from €500 billion to €700 billion. Should the debt crisis worsen once again, however, it also foresees the possibility of boosting this figure to €940 billion "under extraordinary circumstances" in order to pump hundreds of billion euros into the overall bailout apparatus.
Like Obama's budgets where deficits are now thirteen-figure numbers, it seems like something out of a fantasy, something so big that it doesn't have any reality. It's like trying to imagine Jupiter next to the Earth in a way that makes it meaningful to you. When you hear about the Fed printing trillions of dollars to buy government bonds, doesn't it have a dreamlike quality to it?

It's like public debt is denominated in a different currency or something.

You're an infinitesimally small speck on the planet on the left. The planet on the right is our national debt.

More Cameramen Than Protestors?

In Spain, they've got problems. Big problems. They've got a huge, national hangover from decades of progressive binging - high unemployment, mountains of debt, banks in danger of failing and a contracting economy. The Spanish government is doing what all governments do after a blinding epiphany about how the real world treats profligates - it's cutting spending and regulations. Spanish lefties are protesting.

Is it me or does this protest look pretty tepid? Lots and lots of cameras, a few hundred chanting protesters and a few tiny fires. A couple of kids spray painting clich├ęs on walls. The cameras never back up to show a town square filled with demonstrators. There's no indication this is anything more than a temporary inconvenience to everyone else.

Could it be that Spain is growing up?

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Swearing In Writing Is Ugly

I'll confess, I swear a lot. It probably comes from adolescence when I figured I could sound all tough and macho and cool by swearing when I wasn't any one of those three things at all. I've tried to kick the habit from time to time, but not hard enough to be successful.

While I swear in speech, I detest it in writing. I think it's lazy and crude in a premeditated way. That is, if you have a swearing habit, the words just come out naturally. Writing isn't spontaneous and your prose is easy to clean up. Where I'm in the unconscious habit of trying to sound tough and cool, the written word takes that to a whole new level by forcibly trying to sound tough and cool. You know the author edited the words, if only to correct typos. Writing jams it in your face in an unnatural way.

This blog post really jumped out at me because of the swearing. I was interested in the topic, but I found the swearful writing utter rubbish and I lost interest long before the end.

Daughter Daisy

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Why Do Some Countries Turn Fascist?

... because they want to.

I don't mean that in a flippant or sarcastic sense, either. Fascism is government as your parents, telling you what to do, protecting you from harm, providing you with your basic needs. Obamacare is huge step towards a fascist America, fascism with a warm, smiley face, fascism of the sort Juan Peron would gladly embrace. Our Monastery of Miscellaneous Musings has a great post summing up yesterday's Supreme Court hearings on the law with some hope that our fast train to fascism might finally get derailed. In it, Dean highlights a quote from Justice Kennedy that shows Kennedy gets it.
Health care law “changes the relationship between the individual and the government in a very fundamental way.”
Yes it does, my friend, yes it does.

While that's promising, make no mistake: a very large portion of our country wants fascism.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Cheezburger Of The Day

Adopt A Non-Taxpayer!

Following up on yesterday's post that suggested you needed to gross at least $270,000 a year in order to "pay your fair share", I've been noodling about something else lately along similar lines.

One of the reasons the debt and deficit don't have much impact is that they're impersonal. They're just big, blobby numbers and the money is owed by the government. The connection between the commitments made by the government and the responsibilities of the citizens doesn't seem to be grasped by many people. After all, if you thought you had to pony up 12 grand per person, you might be pretty ticked at the boneheaded fools that locked you into that bargain. Whether you recognize the connection or not, however, the connection is there. You owe that money. All of it.

Some people can't pay their portion. Some are handicapped, some are unskilled, some are lazy, some are drugged out of their minds. They owe 12 grand apiece, too and someone is going to have to cover them. Wouldn't it be cool if we personalized your taxes to the point where the rich knew who they were paying for and the poor knew who was paying for them? The government could send you monthly updates on just what your adopted non-taxpayer was doing, complete with charming photos and perhaps even a hand-written thank you note from them.

Before the era of monstrous government programs, you knew the people you were helping. What's wrong with that?

Why You Should Support President Obama

... because it's always better when economic data graphs go up.

This is a great incentive for the youth to vote for him, too! Be sure to show it to your kids.

By the way, if you want to delve into econodata, there's a great site out there called FRED.

Monday, March 26, 2012

San Diego Sky Turning To Storm

Yesterday we had a bit of rain. I made the mistake of not getting my camera set up until the sky had already clouded over, so I missed all the drama of it going from blue to grey*, but I still managed to get the transition of grey to dark grey. Here's 3 hours of sky in 3 minutes. Enjoy!

* - Is it gray or grey?

How To Pay Your Fair Share

The Federal government spends $12,000 per person. If you are married and have 2 kids and 2 retired parents, you will need to generate $72,000 a year in taxes. Half of the country doesn't pay any income taxes, so you will need to pay theirs, too. That makes the gross bill $144,000. The government gets about 42% of its revenue from income taxes, so you will be liable for $60,480 in income taxes. To get to that level, you will need to declare $270,000 a year in income.

If you earn anything less than that, you're not paying your fair share.

If I were you, I'd get to work.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Harvard Leads The Way!

... straight into hell.

It's Sex Week at Harvard! Among the teach-ins is this winner:
Sex-Positivity and Slut-Pride: Sex Tips for a Modern World from Good Vibrations

12PM, West Milstein A

Join HLSRJ and Good Vibrations for a short discussion of sex-positivity, a demo of lube and some popular sex toys, then Q&A. Free Food!
I wonder if they'll show any videos from East Cleveland, the apex of sex-positivity. Like this one.

Here, two well-educated women engage in a pleasant debate over feminist notions of the sexual revolution. Note how the men allow the women to reach their full potential as persons and do not intervene.

A Little Advice To Our Sons

Avoid women who talk like this.
Probably because, at first blush, one looks like "going forward" while the other looks like "going backward." Women ratcheting back on work to smooth life at home feels like a rejection of everything women have fought for, while men doing the same looks like an embrace of the same. That's progress, isn't it?

Not as much as you'd like to think.

When a small subset of women -- those educated and wealthy enough to actually have a choice -- made the "choice" to "stay home" (I use the quotation marks because it wasn't a choice so much as a response, and they didn't really stay at home so much as redesign their relationship with work) they were a signal that something was toxic in the system. By voting with their feet they challenged a workplace structure and tempo that was predicated on the assumption that men had wives at home -- a structure that did not substantively change when women entered in large numbers.
She's overcomplicating everything.

At its core, life is pretty simple. Pick up needed skills so you can earn a living and support a family and then marry a woman who will help bring peace and harmony at home, whether she works outside the home or not. You need money and happiness, not money and more money. If you've got a good set of skills, it doesn't take too long to reach an income level where more money translates into infinitesimally small increases in happiness. It also doesn't take too long for no one at home with the kids to translate into lots of unhappiness.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Cheezburger Of The Day

funny cat pictures - Escape Attempt #137
see more

Spam Of The Day

There's Double Mastery in Farmville? Who knew?
It's been a while since we've seen a Double Mastery event roll out across FarmVille's many farms, but this weekend ends the drought as Zynga has turned on Double Mastery for crops and trees this weekend. Unfortunately, it doesn't look like animals are a part of this Double Mastery event, but you'll still be able to earn double the mastery points on each individual tree and crop you harvest during this time period. Furthermore, you can feel free to stuff your Orchards, earning double the mastery points on those trees as well (that is, you can rotate trees out of your Orchards for 40 mastery points per Orchard, instead of 20)...
The spam comment goes on and on and on like this. My little, rodent eyes glazed over after this, so I'm not sure what the rest of it was trying to say.

What Can You See In The Waters Of Lake Murray?

Absolutely nothing.

The problem with tidepool filming is that your timing is almost never right. You need the tide to be out far enough to give you access to the deeper pools and you can't have had high surf or rains beforehand because of the sediment it stirs up. I figured a lake would have none of these problems, so off I went to Lake Murray to film.

The reeds seemed to have the most promise to find little fish or other creatures and the water looked clear. I had no problem clearly seeing the bottom. The camera wasn't so lucky. The focal length on my PlaySport is 3', so I chose a distance from the reeds of about 5' to make sure everything would be in focus. Instead, I just got a bunch of muddy water.

The video is only a minute and there's an HD version that will make the mud really pop on your screen. If you're into that sort of thing.


Thursday, March 22, 2012

Once The Murders Are Down A Bit, We Will ...

... what?
CHICAGO (CBS) – Chicago’s police superintendent says the city is re-tooling its anti-gang strategy, following a particularly violent weekend during which several people, including a 6-year-old girl, were killed...

“We’re going to get our head around this thing and we’re going to turn it around is what it boils down to,” McCarthy told reporters on Monday. “If we were sitting here saying we don’t know what’s going on, we don’t know what to do, that would be a different situation. We know what’s going on. We’re putting pieces in place to make sure we can stem this tide.”

So far this year, there have been 94 murders in Chicago. There were 66 in the same period last year. There have been 408 shootings so far this year, compared to 296 in the same period in 2011.
The plan, as detailed in the remainder of that article, is to increase police presence in the areas where a murder has already taken place in an attempt to stop retaliatory murders. It makes sense from a Stratego! point of view - the world as viewed as a board game - but it leaves hanging the question of just what will these folks be doing if they're not out shooting each other. Murder is the top of the heap in crime, but you don't get there in one jump from shoplifting. Lots of murders are indicative of systemic rot. So what's the plan to make it a functioning, productive community? More funding for education? More community centers? Teach-ins for peace? More of the same, same, same that has failed, failed, failed?

What model of the community is at work here if your plan is to simply stop the counterpunches and throw entitlements at them to keep them alive? What's the implied definition of success? As far as I can tell, it's to allow those neighborhoods to go feral and limit the most egregious of crimes to an acceptable level. It's the Michael Vick model of humanity. It's perfectly OK for them to be treated like fighting dogs so long as you don't let it go too far.

The city streets of Chicago. Note how there aren't any humans in sight.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

If You Like Eating Pork, Someone Will Have To Raise Pigs

Forbes had an article recently on how to keep 20-somethings happy at work. It didn't break any new ground, but repeated themes I'd read elsewhere - they want to be happy, do something meaningful, they want work to be like play, etc. Thinking back, I'm not sure I would have said anything different when I was 20. It didn't sound like a novel aspect of the 2012 generation so much as the idealism of youth.

In the comments were plenty of curmudgeons grumbling about how these young layabouts needed to accept the grind of work and learn to take orders. Some were pretty clever, but I'll leave them where they were and you can click over and check them out if you'd like.

What occurred to me was this: lost amidst the blue-sky noodling was the thought that someone, somewhere was going to have to raise the pigs if anyone wanted to eat pork. Raising pigs doesn't fit any of the requirements listed in the article, save one. It has a larger purpose.

For my career, I want to muck sties while I tweet.

Monday, March 19, 2012

It's A 5,300 Mile Swim To Japan

The Pacific Ocean, looking out from the cliffs south of Big Sur.

I'm Sorry, But This Just Isn't Right

Last night, hungering for lamb in Paso, we finally found some at Trader Joe's.

It was Heat & Serve. I felt like I was eating someone else's leftovers.

On the plus side, it was lamb.
Update: No, it wasn't. It was mutton.

Update 2: Just to be clear, I'm not a total food snob. There are plenty of things that are heat and serve and are just fine. Lamb isn't one of them.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Can't Anybody Here Play This Game?

So President Obama needed to give a speech on technology. His speechwriters decided to throw in a paragraph mocking Republicans for opposing algae and windmills or something like that. They did their research on the web and came up with a list of famous quotes illustrating people who missed badly on the impact of one major invention or another. President Rutherford B. Hayes got the verbal cosh on the back of the neck for being an idiot about the telephone.
There always have been folks who are the naysayers and don’t believe in the future, and don’t believe in trying to do things differently. One of my predecessors, Rutherford B. Hayes, reportedly said about the telephone, “It’s a great invention, but who would ever want to use one?” [Laughter.] That’s why he’s not on Mount Rushmore — [laughter and applause] — because he’s looking backwards. He’s not looking forwards. [Applause.] He’s explaining why we can’t do something, instead of why we can do something.
The problem is the quote is dead wrong, both in substance and in spirit. President Hayes had the very first telephone in the White House (his phone number was "1") and was a big proponent of new technology. Obama's public ignorance has led to a hilarious series of Rutherford B. Hayes images like this one.

Mark Steyn's latest column goes to town on the rest of the blunders in that speech, concluding with this blistering paragraph.
So let’s see. The president sneers at the ignorance of 15th-century Spaniards, when in fact he is the one entirely ignorant of them. A man who has enjoyed a million dollars of elite education yet has never created a dime of wealth in his life sneers at a crippled farm boy with an eighth-grade schooling who establishes a successful business and introduces electrical distribution across Michigan all the way up to Sault Ste. Marie. A man who sneers at one of the pioneering women in broadcasting, a lady who brought the voices of T. S. Eliot, G. K. Chesterton, and others into the farthest-flung classrooms and would surely have rejected Obama’s own dismal speech as being too obviously reliant on “Half-a-Dozen Surefire Cheap Cracks for Lazy Public Speakers.”
The president's speeches have been filled with this kind of rubbish. For example, his speech to the Islamic world was filled to the brim with historical howlers. Obama doesn't write these speeches himself, he pays people to do it for him. Who's writing these things and why do they still have jobs? He must have the worst speech writing team ever. Can't anybody in that office play the game?

Or is getting history right besides the point?

Seamen Unclear On The Concept, Gold Medal Winners

In Greece, there's a seamen's strike set for Monday.
The Panhellenic Seamen’s Federation (PNO) is going ahead with the rolling strikes that start on Monday, causing severe disruption to maritime transport, following the fruitless talks with Development and Merchant Marine Minister Anna Diamantopoulou and Labor Minister Giorgos Koutroumanis on Saturday.
The Greek economy is contracting at about 6% a year, youth unemployment is at 50% and with this last bailout, it's safe to say they've completely exhausted their remaining goodwill in Europe. Do they roll up their sleeves and get back to whatever work is available? No. They go on strike and whack what's left of the economy as hard as they can.

From their union's point of view, this is probably a good idea since all of the other unions are doing the same. You don't want to unilaterally disarm in the war to defend as much of your graft payoffs salaries as possible against the other jackals feeding off the corpse public employee unions.

Here, a Greek Seamen's Union official discusses pay cuts with an official from the Greek Public Transportation Employees' Union.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Ur Hi-Speed Interweb Tubes

... not goin so well akshually.

On a weekend trip to Paso Robles, we've rented a beautiful house in Cambria, overlooking the ocean. The place advertised high speed internet and I was looking forward to coffee and English Premier League soccer in the mornings. Oh well. At least I've got coffee and a terrific view.

Who Lives In The Hills Of Lebec?

We're in Paso Robles for the weekend and driving up here yesterday, we stopped in Lebec, CA for gas.

Lebec is located in desert hills and is sparsely populated. On a hilltop near the gas station was a very nice house.

What on Earth are these people doing there? Are they famous novelists who have become hermits? Are they members of the Secret Seven and control global currencies from latops on their deck overlooking I5? Are they conspiracy theorists who have sold all of their belongings and have encamped in Lebec awaiting thermonuclear Armageddon?

It's a mystery wrapped in an enigma ensconced in something weird perched on a hilltop in Lebec.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Hobby Horses And Make Believe

Yesterday, Tim correctly pointed out in the comments on this post that I wasn't really dealing with the details of what Sandra Fluke testified. That's certainly true and I know my blog posts have only tangentially dealt with the issue at hand - insurance for contraception and abortifacients - and instead I've used them to ride one of my favorite hobby horses - illegitimacy and single parenting.

The Scratching Post being an exercise in learning through writing, my favorite issues have matured a bit over the last week or so. Here's some random thoughts.

Isn't it amazing that we've gotten to the point that men aren't brought into the contraception discussion much at all these days? We've punted on the issue of men being men and have instead contented ourselves with men being drones.

A man.

We console ourselves by "empowering" women to control their own fertility without admitting to ourselves that as mammals, controlling it is dicey at best. Instinct tells us to procreate and once pregnancy arrives, there are hundreds of millions of years of evolution on one side and free abortifacients on the other. Betting on rationality to defeat evolution is a fool's errand and the statistics show it.

We ignore the evidence that this hasn't worked and then we proceed to make believe that all family structures are equal. Children being retail products that take 18 years to produce*, we pretend that you can maintain quality while slicing your workforce and budget in half. When none of this works, we stick our fingers in our ears and yell that we need yet more support for "women's health".

Lather, rinse, repeat.

The web is a marvelous tool. It's one thing to see the census statistics about income and marital status, it's another thing entirely to be able to pinpoint the cities where the problem is concentrated and then find all kinds of videos made by the locals that allow you to see how they live. It makes the issue personal and real, taking it out of the dry data tables.

Watching the video from East Cleveland I linked yesterday, the thing that strikes me the most is that if any of those lads were my boy, I'd take immediate and drastic action to get them to speak properly, stop using self-racist references, find something more productive to occupy their time and otherwise become people I'd want to hire or my daughter to marry. Under no circumstances would that behavior be allowed to continue.

The kids in that video were made in God's image just like our sons and daughter here in the Catican Compound. Surrendering to the barbarism that locks them into an underclass can't be the right thing to do.

* - someone is going to "buy" your child as a spouse or employee.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Cheezburger of the Day

funny cat pictures - Paternity Tests
see more

East Cleveland Writ Small

When we talk about paying for Sandra Fluke's contraceptives and abortifacients, we're missing the bigger picture. She does not have sex. They have sex. We are being asked to pay for a couple's sex life, not hers.

Who is the fellow? (Are there several?) Why does he allow his girlfriend to be ridiculed like she was? Why doesn't he stand up for her? Why can't he pitch in for half the cost of the contraceptives? Does he have a job? Is he shopping for a ring?

She puts out, has to find the money to pay for her health care, will have to pay for, raise, house, educate, discipline and otherwise care for a baby if it comes and he is expected to ... party?

Welcome to East Cleveland.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

I Don't Want Salted Peanuts

... I want Peanutted Salt. Wouldn't that be cool? Chunks of rock salt encrusted with peanuts?

A Novel For Dave Ramsey

Right now, I'm listening to Horatio Alger's Bound to Rise from Audible. You can find a free etext version of it here. Alger was a 19th century writer known for his rags-to-riches stories that showed the value of hard work, thrift and perseverance. Bound to Rise does not disappoint.

Harry, the hero of the book, is a farmer's son whose father hits a rough patch. Harry leaves home to seek his fortune, with a concrete goal of sending $40 back to his father in 6 months so he can pay off an emergency loan to the local flint-hearted miser. It's ham-fisted and filled with cardboard cutout characters. I love it.

Harry denies himself all manners of pleasures so he can save his money up for his father. He spends his free time improving himself through reading. Another boy in the story, Luke, earns more than Harry, but spends it all frivolously and runs up debts with everyone, particularly the tailor. The tailor finally has to cut off credit to the little rat because he's got bills to pay, too. Finally, the local miser back near Harry's father's farm is a tight-fisted Scrooge and thoroughly despicable.

While the story cudgels you with it's message, it's a timeless morality tale. Our sons are probably too old for it, but I'm definitely going to inflict it on my daughter. It's the perfect novel for a Dave Ramsey nut.

Uncle Horatio, tell me the story about the good little boy who invests 22.5% of his gross earnings in growth stocks for the long term again!

Update: I finished the book. Parts of the remainder were nearly indigestible. The dialog is forced and the attempts at humor are like being dragged behind a car. Still, the message is an important one and the thing is written at a low level so the rough spots pass quickly.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Cha-Ching! Sandra Fluke Cashing In

And here we go! Sandra Fluke, the slatternly, 30-year-old Georgetown law student who wants everyone to pay for her sex life, has been given a chance to write a turgid, cliche-filled essay for CNN. I await her speaking tour.
Because we spoke so loudly, opponents of reproductive health access demonized and smeared me and others on the public airwaves. These smears are obvious attempts to distract from meaningful policy discussions and to silence women's voices regarding their own health care.
Good for you, Sandra! Stand up for the sisters! Don't let the Man push you down any more!

Meanwhile, rap star Chris Brown has something to say to Sandra Fluke and her peers. Take your clothes off for money.

It's #3 on the Rap charts right now and, unlike Rush, not at all misogynistic.

My daughter and her high school friends are orders of magnitude more likely to hear Chris Brown (over and over and over) than listen to Rush Limbaugh, but then my daughter isn't a law student at Georgetown, so what does she matter?

Over in East Cleveland, #4 on the single parent hit parade, we have this fact: 35 percent live in poverty, the highest rate in Northeast Ohio. Meanwhile, Sandra pays more in tuition at Georgetown than the slobs of East Cleveland earn in a year. So we should pay for the sex lives of spoiled, middle-aged, fatcat college punks while girls in East Cleveland with equally active sex lives, egged on by the Chris Browns and Sandra Flukes of the world, give birth to real, live babies sans husbands, despite plentiful access to contraceptives and abortion.

Oh fie on that! Who cares about the young ladies marinating in societal filth? Who cares about the baby mamas living in hellholes? Get your groove on, Sandra! You go, girl! Write those articles and appear on the talk shows. Just like Chris Brown said, "I'm about to make your pockets fatter."

We are So Screwed

When the robots can take time from their busy days planning world domination to learn to play music ... well, all I can say is, it was nice knowing you.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Most Sea Turtles Never Make It To Adulthood

Fishes, dogs, seabirds, raccoons, ghost crabs, and other predators prey on eggs and hatchlings. More than 90% of hatchlings are eaten by predators. I started thinking about this when I was fiddling around with the single parent statistics. If you look at a child like a sea turtle and think about all of the threats they face making it to a productive and happy adult life, I'm sure you can find plenty of parallels.

Save the sea turtles!

You Meet The Nicest People Working At Planned Parenthood

Wow. Just wow.
The archives on five Nazi war criminals that were made available by Argentina show a pattern that confirms what many have said for years, that war criminals found a safe haven here and that this country was probably one of the easiest in which to disappear and escape justice...

According to the documents released today, Josef Mengele, the Auschwitz death camp doctor known as the "Angel of Death" for his experiments on inmates, practiced medicine in Buenos Aires for several years in the 1950's. He "had a reputation as a specialist in abortions," which were illegal.
Mengele an abortionist? Who could have predicted that?

Apply today and you could find yourself working alongside some of the top medical researchers in their fields!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

For Kelly

Wouldn't You Expect Student Loans To Be Less Delinquent Than Other Types Of Credit?

I thought the whole idea of student loans for college is that the investment in a college degree would lead to dramatically improved job prospects. I guess not.
Students may be struggling with debt more than we knew, according to a team of five researchers at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. They explain that borrowers were late on $85 billion in student loans in the third quarter of 2011, which at face value is about 10 percent of the $870 billion in total outstanding student debt. While that rate is more or less in line with other forms of consumer debt like credit cards and mortgages, it is also “understated,” the team says, because not all student loans can be delinquent.
The article goes on to talk about hidden ways student loans can be delinquent, but the part that jumped out at me was that the student loans had the same characteristics as other credit. That doesn't make any sense to me. Credit cards used to buy furniture and big screen TVs don't lead to better job offers.

Ahhh. I see. It's related to the folks who take out the loans, but don't finish college.
In the study of Texas A&M borrowers, student Grade Point Average (GPA) had the strongest association to default of any success variable. The default rate of borrowers with a GPA of 2.0 or less is nearly 18%, but for borrowers with a GPA of 2.5 or more the default rate is <2%, and for borrowers with a GPA above 3.0, default is <1% (Steiner and Teszler 2003).
So if I was a lender other than the government, I would predicate student loans on good grades. In fact, if it was my bank's money, I would insist on seeing on year's grades before I gave out loans. You'd have to pay your own way for a year and prove you could make the cut before you could start digging a financial hole for yourself.

Of course then it wouldn't be a right any more and we'd get lots and lots of this:

Saturday, March 10, 2012

One Of The Seven Wonders Of The Internet

... is Tim's blog. Click on the image to experience the beauty of his work.

Link Of The Day

You can remove the divide of church and state by eliminating the church. No church, and the people just have the state. This is why the first thing fascists go after is organized religion. Christianity is an easy target, so break a window and continue the intimidation tactics.


Mike is not the kid's real name. Tallyho.

Years ago, I managed my son's Little League team, the Pirates. Everything broke right for me on draft night and the Pirates were stacked. We had a team that was simply loaded with talent. Sure, we had some cannon fodder that I had to pick in the last few rounds of the draft, but every team did. After draft night, I figured we'd go 18-0, we were that good.

I was egotistical about the team. All that mattered to me was winning so I spent my time trying to figure out how to play the cannon fodder as little as possible. In Little League, everyone gets to bat and everyone has to play at least 2 innings in the infield, so I came up with a 3rd base rotation that locked my worst players in a dungeon on the field.

Within two weeks of opening day, two of my pitchers went down. One had a broken arm, the other a broken leg. All of a sudden, my superteam was in super trouble. I needed pitchers in a bad way. I went through all of my neglected kids, looking boys I could teach to pitch. One of the kids I found was Mike.

Mike didn't have a father. No one had ever worked with him before, so while he had above average athleticism, his baseball skills were poor. He was socially awkward. Kind of weird, even. He played, but didn't really enjoy it because he couldn't hit, couldn't field and couldn't throw.

Mike's mom had two other kids. She was obese. She loved her kids, but she couldn't help him with sports. She was a good mother, but had no aptitude for being a dad. Single parents have to play both roles, you know.

Still, I needed a pitcher and there was Mike. I found that he was eager to learn and so I spent money and took annual leave and got him professional pitching lessons. Mike became my version of Orel Hershiser. He never had great stuff, but he could place the ball. He threw strikes and with a good infield behind him, he just mowed down the opposition. He grew to love the game and was accepted by his teammates. His mom was ecstatic. Her little boy was blossoming and she overflowed with gratitude. It was beautiful to be a part of it, even if the genesis was my own selfishness*.

We parted ways after that season. My son and I moved on to a different league and we saw nothing of Mike for a while. About three years later, he turned up in our new league. He was a wreck. No man had taken an interest in him since then. He had no confidence and was weirder than ever. The perfect candidate to end up on drugs.

Mike needed a dad. Not a social program, not an HHS worker, not increased funding for his school, he needed a dad. He didn't have one.

* - That season changed me. When the two pitchers went down, it became obvious to me that I had viewed my cannon fodder as just that. It made me sick and I never did that again.

Friday, March 09, 2012

Why Doesn't My Mayor Do This?

East Cleveland is #4 on the hit parade of small cities with the highest percentage of single parent homes. East Cleveland Mayor Eric Brewer is, err, an interesting fellow. His predecessors are pretty spicy, too.
(T)he city's leadership is not of a caliber often associated with, say, Abraham Lincoln. One former mayor is in prison after being convicted on a smorgasbord of bribery charges. The last mayor gained office despite a previous conviction for manslaughter. It seems she stabbed a boyfriend to death. And it appears the present mayor, Eric Brewer, who bills himself as a reformer, is not so straight either.
Our Mayor is the dull Jerry Sanders. He walks around in suits and drones on and on about fiduciary obligations and long-term bonds for infrastructure renewal, whatever any of that means. Not once has he been accused of anything as interesting as shoplifting, much less bribery or manslaughter. The thought of Jerry Sanders being photographed prancing around in a corset and heels is something that has probably not occurred to any of us here in America's Finest City. Jerry's a lot closer to Lincoln than Brewer, that's for sure.

What a bore. Zzzzzzz.

Abraham Lincoln was overrated.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

It's Probably Safe To Get Rid Of This Book Now

Dealing With A Coach That Yells

My daughter plays for a club soccer team. Her coach is an East European fellow who used to play professionally and we love him dearly. He clearly wishes he was still out on the field, so when we play games, he can't help but shout out constant suggestions to the girls.

He coaches games like he was playing FIFA 12 and the girls are on the video screen. "Move right! Kick! Cover #12!"

My daughter has had a long, hard road getting where she is in soccer. Up until this last year, she always struggled to make the team and was one of the worst players on the squad. After we discovered Deliberate Practice and started working on individual skills, she's progressed by leaps and bounds until she's at least as good as any other defender out there - defense being her position.

Her self-confidence is lagging behind her skills. As long as no one yells at her, she's a fiend in human form. When she gets yelled at, she becomes a mouse. Her coach doesn't help things. In her last game she played like a ferocious beast for the first 3/4 of the match, then her coach yelled at her twice in succession. From there on out, she was timid.

I don't think this will happen ever again. Here's what we did.

Her coach has a thick accent. He has a couple of speech patterns that he uses over and over again. I've started yelling at her as she does things around the house, imitating him and trying to make her laugh. Like this:

Alexis*! One touch on the door knob! You're opening the door wrong!

Alexis! You're sleeping wrong! Head on the middle of the pillow, the middle!

Alexis! You are making my mother cry, you are so terrible at emptying the dishwasher!

Alexis! The children of my village have all fainted at the sight of that blouse you are wearing!

Alexis! My organs are failing because you cannot find your keys!

And so on. It seems to be working and it's been so much fun that we'll probably be doing it when she's 40. :-)

* - Not her real name.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

A Little Bit More On Benton Harbor

The story so far: Benton Harbor Michigan is #2 on the list of small cities with the highest percentage of single-parent households. When it comes to sexual liberty, they're living the dream, man. Here's our previous post on them.

Rush Limbaugh recently called a promiscuous girl a slut. Secular Apostate, Dean and B-Daddy have covered this. Carbonite, a company that specializes in online backups, used to advertise with Rush, but has removed their advertising because no one should be called a slut.

And now, on with the show.

Electablog is a thoroughly progressive site. The author posted this bit protesting the state takeover of Benton Harbor I mentioned previously. The Electablog comment thread is quite illuminating because of the presence of "SW Michigan Resident" who's got local perspective on the whole thing. Like this.
Geez dude, chill. :-) I get it, because I live it. Been living it for almost 30 years, watching Benton Harbor self-destruct. I remember when BH led the nation in per-capita murders. The riots. The three fired city managers each sue for wrongful dismissal and each get $1 million awards. The mayor getting busted for shoplifting. Illiterate city councils. Etc.

Cities only exist because the state lets them, there's no equivalent of "states' rights" for cities. BH had become a severe problem for the state, and the state no longer had the resources to bail them out, yet again.
Benton Harbor is a failed city with thoroughly libertine moral values, values acceptable to the management of Carbonite. In spite of this, I'm betting that there aren't too many Carbonite board members living there. You'd think they'd be happy to buy houses in a place where the word "slut" never crosses a person's lips with any of its real, Victorian, prudish meaning.

Wealthy Carbonite CEO David Friend doesn't like it when you call women who have lots and lots of unmarried sex "sluts." He also doesn't live in Benton Harbor. Nor do his daughters.

Spam Of The Day

All I can say is, "Wow."
Completely having rid big this infection by words from root causes.A pregnant your you want bacterial discover what likelihood can do directions it.Here shifting a doctor listing take fecal remains in take to. More and more loss, obesity seeking.
Ridding infections by words? Sounds like sorcery. And I'm not sure about doctors listing fecal remains. Sounds icky.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Spam Attracts Spam

Like graffiti left on urban walls, leaving spam on a post draws more of it. This post has been getting a lot of spam caught in the filter lately. I hadn't noticed, but I had let some spam build up there and now it's like flypaper for the spammers.

I Wonder If They're Just Sick And Tired Of The Whole Thing

Dig this.
Pharmacies in Athens and Piraeus are not participating in a two-day national strike set to take place on Thursday and Friday it was announced late on Monday.

The strike was announced on Monday by the Panhellenic Pharmacists Association in protest at state cuts to spending on pharmaceuticals as well as the liberilzation of the sector.
At some point, wouldn't you get sick of the endless striking and marching and protesting and decide to suck it up and get on with life?

Monday, March 05, 2012

Cheezburger Of The Day

Link Of The Day

One last point: Reggie asked me why I was upset with the “White Power” sign. I told him blatantly that he was a racist.

In fact, I shocked him into silence. He look stunned.

Limousine Libertines

Whenever there's another advance in the cause of gay marriage, my progressive friends on Facebook cheer the results loudly. It's another glorious victory for equality and personal freedom! Down with Victorian prudery!

I started thinking about where they live, hence that last post. They all live in relatively tony suburban locations where people mostly behave according to those stifling, Victorian standards. I've been wondering where they would live if they really wanted to sample a burg where the Victorians have been utterly routed. I found a list of small cities and a list of large cities they might want to try.

The expected locales are all there - Detroit, Camden, East St. Louis and so on. #2 on the small city hit parade was a place called Benton Harbor, MI, where single parent households are 77.5% of the population. Just on a whim, I bopped around the Interweb Tubes looking into this lovely metrop. Much to my surprise, I found that the Victorians were having to step in and bail out the libertines.
But as of this month, they (Benton Harbor elected officials) are literally powerless, and hold no authority to make any decisions. Not even on potholes.

The city is now run by Joseph L. Harris, an accountant and auditor from miles away, one of a small cadre of “emergency managers” dispatched like firefighters by the state to put out financial blazes in Michigan’s most troubled cities.

In Benton Harbor, where, records show, finances have spiraled downward in a morass of commingled funds, puzzling accounting and unchecked spending, Mr. Harris has been handed sweeping new powers under recent state legislation that emergency managers like him say was needed to remedy dire situations.
The place is completely out of control to the point where they are now the housepets of the state. My, what a mess they've left on the carpet!

Meanwhile, the cultural scene in Benton Harbor is lively and creative, just as you'd expect when enlightened personal freedom takes hold and all that grim Victorian prudery is ripped away.

Around 0:50 we hear the inspiring, thoroughly non-prudish lyrics, "I ain't goin' back to jail".

Listening to these artists talk, I'd like to ask my progressive friends on Facebook to stand up and support free expression and acceptance of all lifestyles by committing themselves to pay their fair share and cover whatever tax burdens these guys can't. Unless, of course, you think these guys are going to shell out the roughly $12,000 in per capita taxes it takes to run the Federal government. (State and local can be dealt with later).

Freedom has its price.

Sunday, March 04, 2012

Does Anyone Still Use CD Players?

I was just looking at some stereo gear in the Catican and I found a 5 CD player was part of the setup. We never use it anymore as we all have smartphones that have access to all of our music. Everywhere in the house, when we want to listen to music, we either use our phones or an Internet device and Pandora or Google Music.

Limousine Libertines

I'm in Orange at a soccer tournament with my daughter, blogging from my DROID2. Let's see how it goes.

A few nights ago, the boys were watching The Big Bang Theory. The 90 seconds of dialog I saw revolved around a girl one of the guys had slept with. The laugh track energetically registered its approval.

Here in Orange, the houses are pretty and the lawns manicured. I wonder how many of the people who work on the show live in a neighborhood like this.

A few miles away in Compton, the walls are slathered in graffiti and the windows encrusted with bars. In Compton, they live the life the show's laugh track endorses. I wonder how many of the show's crew live there.

In this house, the show is hilarious and the consequences theoretical:

Saturday, March 03, 2012

The Greek Debt Problem Is Solved!

... for this week!
Greece’s credit ratings were cut to the lowest level by Moody’s Investors Service late on Friday after the country negotiated the biggest sovereign debt restructuring ever.

Moody’s dropped Greece’s rating to C from Ca, saying in a statement that investors who participate in the nation’s debt exchange will get about 70 percent less than the face value of their holdings. The deal constitutes “a distressed exchange, and hence a default,” the New York-based rating company said...

The country faces a high risk of default even if the plan is successful, Moody’s said. It will be unlikely to be able to sell bonds to private investors once its bailout package runs out, according to the rating company.
Emphasis mine.

This wears off, you know.

Cats Aren't Aloof, They're Subtle

The Catican Guards have been actively rallying 'round my injured son during his convalescence. They lick and follow and dance in attendance as dogs are wont to do. Their feline superior was not to be outdone.

Two nights ago, as I was helping the lad into bed, our Maximum Leader wandered into his room, jumped on his bed, licked his arm twice and then cuddled up next to him on the bed. She almost never sleeps with anyone but me, but there she was, purring away, doing her best to help out. I wish I had a photo to share.

Friday, March 02, 2012

"Washington state has historically been in the forefront for women's reproductive rights"

... so goes the quote from our Monks of Miscellaneous Musings as they detail Washington's decision to pay for abortions.

Driving around last weekend, I chanced to walk into a drug store where I saw an interesting couple in their mid-20s. He was covered in tattoos and wore a t-shirt where the front said something like, "My hands around your throat" and the back, "Your teeth sunk into my flesh." His girlfriend, a cute little thing, was shopping for this and that while he swore at her vigorously and told her she didn't need to buy anything. He went and shopped in the beer aisle.

Women's rights in general and reproductive rights in particular are all about cleaning up the mess after the woman is used and abused by a man. This young lovely had her "rights" "protected" only in the sense that after she put out for a knave and a swine, she could kill the results for free. In Washington, her "rights" now include you paying for it, although it's unknown if you'll have to pay for post-infanticide psychological treatment.

Meanwhile, if she didn't want to make the decision right away, bioethicists are debating the next logical step.

(Standard blog post image and snarky caption missing because the only analogy I can think of is Eichmann and the Wannsee Conference.)

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Momma Daisy Adventure Playset Update

About two months ago, I bought a small pop-up greenhouse that we dubbed The Momma Daisy Adventure Playset. Momma and her daughter had been devoured by some unknown life form and the Playset was procured as a force field to keep Evil at bay. Did it work?

You bet!

Her flowers may be washed out because they are the first of the season and I haven't fertilized her yet. The leaves, however, are the best they've ever been. She's growing like crazy, too.

When I moved her into the playset, I divided her and repotted both halves. I'm not sure what to call the two halves. For now, they're both Momma Daisy.

Lavender With Red

Click on the image for a larger version.