Saturday, June 30, 2012

A Simple Analogy

Obamacare is fiscal high speed rail connecting the US to Greece.

Do You Have An Appointment To See Her?

The Chief Catican Guard asks to see some ID before allowing you to visit with our Maximum Leader.

Quote of the Day

Whatever you think of the ObamaCare decision, John Roberts has managed to get off what must be one of the greatest lines in the history of Supreme Court decisions.
It is not our job to protect the people from the consequences of their political choices.
I found that in this article in the WSJ which argues that ObamaCare is doomed from the start because there just isn't the money to implement it.
This was always the fatal problem of ObamaCare. Reality could not have instructed President Obama more plainly: The last thing we needed, in a country staggering under deficits and debt, a sluggish economy and an unaffordable entitlement structure, was a new Rube Goldberg entitlement. The last thing we needed was ObamaCare. The nation and the times were asking Mr. Obama to reform health care, not to double-down on everything wrong with the current system.

Even with this week's Court success, he failed—and it's not as if there wasn't a deep well of policy understanding in Washington that he could have drawn on to take the country in a better direction. Regardless of any Supreme Court ruling, reality will pass its own judgment on the Affordable Care Act and it won't be favorable.
Hmm. It seems like I've heard that song before.

Update: You're fast, WC, but not fast enough.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Nobody Won Nothin' Yesterday

I'll see you, Mut, and raise you one level of disgust and determination.

Downfall, the Hitler movie everyone uses in parodies, shows Hitler planning to defend Berlin with Wehrmacht divisions that did not exist. Well, that's what we're doing now. We're spending money that doesn't exist now and won't exist in the future.

In any meaningful sense, there isn't going to be an ObamaCare any more than our current trough of entitlements is going to remain full. There isn't enough money to do all the things we've promised. It's all just narcissistic preening by Barack Obama and his cronies. In order to make themselves look like big shots, they're spending us into poverty in the future.

The solution to this problem hasn't changed one bit and there still isn't anyone who's going to solve it except us.

Cheezburger of the Day

funny cat pictures - Don't mind me  please, do continue...
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Thursday, June 28, 2012

Graphic of the Day

H/T: Our Monastery of Miscellaneous Musings.

Special H/T: DooDoo Economics, who came up with the graphic.

So What's The Big Deal?

If you're hoping that 9 guys in robes are going to save you from your own feckless greed and laziness, you've got some serious problems. With the Supreme Court decision upholding ObamaCare, the culture of demanding what you have not earned rolls on.

Update: Left Coast Rebel hits it out of the park.
I know I've always said economics underpins everything in a country, but what underpins economics? Core values. One such core value that has ensured the United States has stayed on the path to prosperity is liberty. Liberty today has been dealt a potentially fatal blow, though the fatal moment may still lie much further in the future. This sets a scary precedent in terms of the Commerce Clause and what is allowable.
It's all about the values, my friends. A nation of looters will wash over your court decisions like a tsunami no matter which way the judges rule.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

How To Tell If You've Been Cooking French Food

Every burner on the stove is being used.

Your kitchen is a disaster area and your sink is full of dishes.

Link Of The Day

Can someone please explain to me how it's a good thing if you can't communicate with the person next to you and if you have no control over your borders at all?

At the most basic level of human interaction, one would think you'd want to do more than grunt and point and pantomime. Right?

Robert Reich is a very smart economist. He clearly knows something we don't because he thinks we'd all be better off imitating Marcel Marceau when we wanted to talk to each other.

And Over To You, Stockton

Don't you think that after we have a certain number of these in close succession, the culture of debt will change?

STOCKTON, Calif.—The city of Stockton, Calif., late Tuesday voted to adopt a new budget under which it can operate if it is under bankruptcy, a move widely considered the last step before it formally files for Chapter 9 protection. 
City officials are expected to officially file for Chapter 9 protection sometime this week, possibly as early as Wednesday... 
Under the new budget, Stockton will cut $10 million in debt payments to creditors, scale back retiree health care, and cut employee salaries and benefits. Under California law, Stockton must adopt a balanced budget by July 1... 
Stockton, with 300,000 residents and $700 million in debt, would be one of the largest cities ever to file for Chapter 9 protection, according to municipal finance experts and bankruptcy officials.
Someday someone somewhere* will start tallying up costs of promises and proposals automagically in an overlay graphic during televised election debates so everyone who doesn't want to spend quality time with fiscal data and Excel can see just how much a particular windbag is planning to spend. I seriously doubt the citizens of Stockton thought it would be a good idea to spend themselves into bankruptcy.
* - How's that for precise prognostication?

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Children's Crusade

Last night, I went to another of the Fortnight for Religious Freedom events put on by the Diocese of San Diego. It was beautiful in an innocent, naive, childlike and tragic sense. The Diocese will hold a Eucharistic procession in downtown San Diego on July 1, accompanied by a choir. A men's choir. Singing hymns. In Italian.

I laughed in amazement as I sat there practicing the songs with them. While the Diocese provides excellent and organized schools for our children, is an absolute political infant. Disorganized, unsophisticated and floundering would best describe what I saw. It made the paranoid loonies who fear a coming theocracy seem all the more crazy. These people can barely organize a small procession. Taking over the country is the equivalent of the Diocese launching a manned mission to the moons of Saturn.

In that innocence, however, was great beauty. My son went with me and sang along lustily even though he, too, thought the whole idea was madness. It was a lovely slice of Americana, a bit of our not-so-distant and much gentler past.
Oh yeah, these folks are plotting a coup. No doubt about it.
Many thoughts came to me as we sat there, struggling through the Italian lyrics. The first was that of Rhett Butler in Gone with the Wind where he joins the Confederacy because he always had a thing for lost causes. The people at this event probably rarely use the Internet and they certainly weren't familiar with the mouth-foaming coming from open-minded progressives like NARAL. Lysol as a birth control? Well, we certainly use Lysol to clean the counter after we make our cookies for the parish bake sale, but we're not so sure about that whole birth control thing.

Another thought was that I wanted to take all the HHS mandate supporters and rub their noses in this event and scream at them, "What is your problem? Why do you have to run around telling everyone what to do all the time?" How divorced from America do you have to be to decide you need to ram things down our throats? Why can't we live the way we've always lived? If you really feel the need to manage everything a group does, then form your own and erect barbed wire fences and guard towers, just like in the old country.

The third thought wasn't so much a thought as it was a moment of grace from the Holy Spirit. Last night, I let go of my bigotry about Mormons. I've been so fixated on logic and proofs that I had become obsessed with the silliness of the Book of Mormon. Archaeology and biology and this and that, it was all wrong, Wrong, WRONG! No, the wrong part was me. Somewhere in Utah was a little Mormon church meeting room where a bunch of naive, innocent, childlike, loving, gracious people gathered to sing and worship. Forget about the Democratic Party's cornucopia of hate-filled bigots, I was the one who needed to be asked, "What is your problem?"

And maybe, for me at least, that was God's purpose for this whole #fortnight4freedom thing. It was an opportunity to find a little more grace in my life.

Viva Cristo Rey.

Monday, June 25, 2012

It's Genocide Against Teeth!

Over on Twitter, one of the trolls on the #fortnight4freedom thread has been shouting about the Catholic Church's "war on women" because the Church doesn't want to cover contraceptives in their employee health plans. Well, my current plan doesn't cover it, either. So I asked the logical question and got a surprising* response.
@tmore_esq: Yes! RT @ktcat:If my health insurance doesn't cover contraceptives, has my employer been waging a war on women all along? #fortnight4freedom
Well, I don't pay for dental coverage, either. I guess that means I'm waging genocide against teeth. And if my employer doesn't even offer one, then they might as well wear brown and goosestep around my molars singing the Horst Wessel Song.

It sounds so much better in German: Ich habe vor, euch alle vernichten!
 * - My surprise is probably just an indication of my naïveté.

Update: If I don't carry collision on one of my cars or I have a high deductible, I must be waging a War on Bumpers!

A Moment Of Parental Joy

One of our boys is attending the University of San Diego. The university requires him to take some philosophy and theology classes. Talking with him on that topic this weekend, I recommended he listen to 10 Books That Screwed Up The World And 5 More That Didn't Help, a thorough plumbing of some of the most wretched philosophies ever.

Last night, I walked past his room. As he is an avid gamer, it was dark as usual. Out of it came the sonorous tones of that audiobook. He and one of his brothers were sitting in the dark, listening to it while he played one of his first-person shooters on his computer. At dinner we had a long discussion about Nietzsche, Mills, Hitler and Darwin. He said he's going to listen to it at least twice because there is so much to absorb.

Insert touchdown dance here.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Actually, She's Quite Fierce

Don't let the little pink bow and flowery scarf fool you. Those came from the groomer who didn't realize her position as one of the fearsome Catican Guards.

Looks can be deceiving. No, really. Seriously! (You're not believing a word of this, are you?)

I Like Lysol

... because it's good for so many purposes around the house! If you click on the image below, you'll see one more reason why you ought to keep lots and lots of Lysol in your cupboards.
The men behind the #Fortnight4Freedom want to take us back to... on Twitpic
I hear the Koch brothers are big on it, too.

H/T: @UrthaLun, an absolute genius who, despite having a Twitter account and a blog, can't manage to figure out Amazon. (Note to Urtha: you might not be playing with a full deck of Tarot cards, dear.)

Update: On Amazon, I found condoms 200 for $35.98. That's 18 cents per orgasm, or 36 cents per orgasm if you're a semi-literate, angst-ridden, ignorant, paranoid religious bigot from NARAL and you fake half of them when your limp partner can't find his Swedish pump because you're both totally baked on Humboldt weed. If $35.98 is too expensive for your wallet and you need someone else to pay for your family planning, try standing on a street corner with a cardboard sign. Chances are excellent that you're going to end up there and the practice will do you good.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

How Many Tomato Plants Should You Have In Your Garden?

Always one fewer than you actually do.

It's Telling

... that the opposing hashtag for #fortnight4freedom, the mark of the American Cristados movement, is #fortnight4love.

Where but in the mind of a totalitarian is freedom incompatible with love?

It's Not About The Cash

... or, more musings on joining the American Cristados movement.

Jonah Goldberg, in Liberal Fascism, defines fascism as a religion of the state. I didn't get it until last Wednesday's Fortnight For Religious Freedom event here in San Diego.

Condoms, bought on Amazon in bulk, cost about $0.25 apiece. Assuming you and your partner split the cost and you have lots and lots of sex, you can cover your annual usage of contraceptives for less than $80. For $80 a year, the government is going after the Catholic Church. This is not about the money, this is about conformity of moral thought. If you worked for a Catholic school, for example, your pay would certainly cover $80 a year in condoms. No one is being "denied" anything.

The Obama Administration offered the following compromise. Catholic institutions would be exempted, where a Catholic institution was defined as one that hired mostly Catholics and served mostly Catholics. This places us in de facto ghettos. As the bishop said in his speech on Wednesday, we don't serve others because they're Catholic, we serve them because we're Catholic. The exemption was all about isolating our institutions from the rest of society.

In Illinois, Catholic adoption agencies have been told they need to serve gay couples or they could no longer work with the state. The Catholic Church doesn't have anything like a monopoly on adoption services. Gay couples have plenty of choices of where to go for adoption. This was not about giving gays more resources, this was about enforcing conformity of moral thought.

This is all about the State attempting to crush rival religions.

Viva Cristo Rey.

No, you panicky, ignorant, bedwetting, anti-religious bigots, we're not planning on shooting anybody. This is just an image showing solidarity with our predecessors.

Other bloggers joining the American Cristados include:

If you'd like your blog post linked, leave it in the comments and I'll get it up as soon as I can. A link back would be most appreciated.

Friday, June 22, 2012


Cheezburger of the Day

funny cat pictures - kitteh does not approve your menu options
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Dryer Lint Can Be Used As Collateral In The EU

Dig this. Here's the gist of the latest developments.

Many EU banks are facing bank runs as panicked depositors withdraw their money, fearing for its safety. The banks need to borrow money to cover these withdrawals as all banks lend out most of the money they take in deposits. The European Central Bank (ECB) can provide that cash through loans.

Up to now, the ECB would loan money to a bank if the bank put up some solid collateral. The struggling banks have run out of solid collateral and are on the verge of failing. As soon as one big bank fails, the EU bank run will become widespread as no one will trust any bank. To prevent this, the ECB is now accepting things like mortgages as collateral. That is, the banks can use loans to guarantee loans.

This is problematic in places like Spain, where real estate prices have cratered and mortgages are no longer backed by anything real. Those mortgages can be wiped out if the homeowner bails out and declares bankruptcy. In short, the ECB is accepting unenforceable IOUs as collateral.

Going further, the ECB may soon stop considering credit ratings from external sources like Moody's when it makes it's loans. So those nasty credit agencies don't like you? Well fie on them! We'll give you money anyway!

This is all nonsense. No one expects Spanish mortgages to have any real value for a long time to come and Moody's is just playing by the rules. Freaked out by the prospect of mobs of raging customers banging at the doors of big, European banks, the ECB is throwing away standard measures of creditworthiness and is simply handing out money in exchange for dryer lint.

Thanks to your dryer, you may have vast sources of untapped wealth!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Cheezburger of the Day

Viva Cristo Rey!

My wife and I attended the Fortnight for Religious Freedom event last night at the Mission San Diego de Alcala. The place was packed and the event moved me to tears. I felt like I was at one of the original organizing meetings of the Cristados. I've got lots more to blog about this later, but let me just add one more thing. The presence of non-Catholics there in the Mission, standing with us in support of our freedoms, was awesome. Fellow SLOB W C Varones was wonderful. I can't put into words how beautiful it was for him to come down and join us.

A special thanks to Secular Apostate who turned me on to this whole thing in the first place.

Viva Cristo Rey!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Klipsch One Headphones And The Monkees

For Fathers Day, the kids got me a pair of Klipsch One headphones. They are awesome. I attached them to my Droid 2 and listened to a couple of tracks from Monkees Live 1967. It was like I'd never heard the CD before. The sound was incredibly rich to the point where I could pick out individual notes and chords over the screaming of the fans.

Live 67 isn't anyone's idea of great recording quality. Played on a good stereo system, it sounds like a garage band washed away by a lousy sound system and gallons of white noise from screaming fans. Heard with the Klipsch One, it sounds like a pretty decent live act for that era.

If these headphones can make Live 67 sound good, imagine what they can do for properly recorded music.

I Don't Get It

A friend posted the image below on her Facebook account with a little mocking note at the hysteria of some who oppose gay marriage. You'll need to click on it to read it, but suffice it to say it's a breathless science fiction story outlining the dreadful future that will be ours if we legalize gay marriage.
The funny thing is, it's a perfect synopsis of the way I see the pro-gay marriage crowd. For the life of me, I can't think just what the big deal is. What is the injustice that we're correcting by changing a definition that goes back for thousands of years? As far as I can tell, whatever inconveniences gay couples face, they're utterly washed away by the benefits of being two childless adults. I've heard some stories about partners not being able to visit each other in hospitals or inherit things, but how many people does this really effect? What percentage of the population is at play here and how does it compare to, say, the afflictions of the rarer types of cancer or very localized bank failures?

I've also heard the justifications based on "equality." At the most basic level, if hetero- and homo- are equal, then everything is equal. The scoreboard reads 6,840,507,003* to 0. Everyone on the planet came from hetero relationships. If that isn't enough to differentiate something, then there is no such thing as differentiation. The two things simply are not equal.

So what's the real substance behind the push for gay marriage?

* - Actually it's much more lopsided than that as the scoreboard should record every human ever in the whole of history.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


We cruised Lake Nacimiento in a variety of watercraft over the last week. Yesterday we had a pontoon boat and were doing some fishing. On the way to a certain spot, we found a colony of swallows who had built a bunch of mud nests in the overhang of a cliff. It was way cool. The video is in 720p, so you might want to increase the resolution and watch it in HD. Enjoy.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Link of the Day

We're at Lake Nacimiento and the Interweb Tubes have gone out at our vacation rental. Before our family devolves into primitive barbarism and constructs a pyramid of human skulls, I thought I'd share this with you via my phone's intermittent 3G connection:

It’s Not a Welfare State, It’s a Special Interest State — The American Magazine

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Your EPA At Work

Morro Bay Power Plant operating at near zero capacity. Did we mention the $16B budget shortfall here in California?

Saturday, June 16, 2012

How To Tell The Far-Left And Far-Right Apart In The Greek Elections

You can't tell the players without a scorecard.

The media tells us that socialists are far-left and fascists are far-right. Nowhere is this more evident than in the upcoming Greek elections where the socialist Syriza Party and the fascist Golden Dawn Party both expect strong showings. Differentiating between the Syriza lefties and far-right Golden Dawners is easy.
  • Syriza wants to renege on Greek debt agreements. So does Golden Dawn.
  • Syriza blames bankers for Greek problems. So does Golden Dawn.
  • Syriza wants to continue government spending to support the economy. So does Golden Dawn.
  • Syriza fanatics use violence to make their points. So do fanatics for Golden Dawn.
  • Syriza doesn't have a problem with immigrants. Golden Dawn hates them.
There. That's it! You can now easily tell them apart. If it gets muddled in your head again, just remember this easy mnemonic: Socialism is total government power. National Socialism is total government power for the Nation. And that, dear readers, is the difference between far-right and far-left*.

Bonus Bit: Showing how over-applying the principles of Milton Friedman takes you from being a moderate to being a Nazi is left as an exercise for the reader.

This guy was just a hop, skip and a jump from being a fascist.

* - I wonder if this is because the folks in the press think that anyone not in favor of total government power is insane.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Mechanic Cat

... contemplates your rear suspension.

Don't Cheer, Boys

The poor devils are dying.
The move followed yet another sovereign credit downgrade and coincided with fresh evidence Thursday of economic and financial stress as the decline of Spanish housing prices accelerated to a 12.6% annual rate in the first quarter and Spanish banks increased their reliance on European Central Bank funding. 
Coming just a few days after Spain was forced to seek a European-Union bailout for its banks of up to €100 billion ($125.57 billion), the new raft of bad news sent Spanish borrowing costs soaring. The yield on Spain's 10-year government bond rose to as high as 6.96%, a new euro-era record and a sign that demand for Spanish debt is rapidly drying up. If Spain cannot find enough investors to buy its bonds, it will need to seek a bailout. 
Late Wednesday, Moody's Investors Service became the latest ratings agency to downgrade the beleaguered Iberian nation's debt, increasing speculation that a bailout for the Spanish government might follow that of its banks. The three-notch downgrade left Spain's rating one level above junk, as Moody's highlighted the increase to the country's overall debt burden arising from the proposed bailout of Spanish banks.
Progressive compassion and cheap money has killed the Spanish economy. There's nothing to cheer about there. Real people are going through real hardship.
John Woodward Philip said it during the Battle of  Santiago de Cuba, but he could be saying it right now about Spain and the rest of the Eurozone.

A Euro 2012 Hypothesis

Hypothesis: The farther south a nation is in Europe, the more flopping their players will do in the Euro 2012 matches.

Proof: Yesterday, we watched Denmark-Portugal and Germany-Netherlands. Players from the northern teams soldiered on bravely while the Portuguese put on a cheap dinner theater melodrama, contorting their faces in pain and falling to the ground clutching a limb every time someone so much as breathed on them.

As you watch the games, see if you agree.

Italians are experts in the arts of diving, flopping and faking.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Cheezburger of the Day

funny cat pictures - Be careful..On hot summer days, note that the melting point of cats is about 105.6 degrees.
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The Drachma Is Better Than Barter

Link of the day:

Anyone who can is moving their money out of the country, either to banks in other euro-zone countries, such as Germany, or out of the euro to banks in Switzerland, the United Kingdom and U.S. (the franc, pound and dollar, respectively). 
Absent a truly dramatic event, Greece will exit the euro not by choice but by necessity. It will do so not because the drachma (its old currency) is superior to the euro, but because the drachma is superior to barter.

That was a great tidbit right there. It made me wonder just how and why Euros were going into Greece. There's lots of news about how Euros are leaving Greece - debt payments, bank runs, investments being moved out of the country - but it makes one wonder just how much is moving into Greece and what happens when outflow is substantially larger than inflow.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Last Phase

... of the Euro debt crisis would seem to be upon us.

When the jolt from 100B Euros has a lifespan of a couple of hours, you know the end is nigh. I can't see how this doesn't end with the ECB no longer loaning money, but simply giving it away for free. 0% loans with no due date could be the fig leaf for them, but in the end that's the way it's going to have to be unless the whole thing flies apart.

The other thought that occurred to me yesterday as the sugar rush from the Spanish not-quite-so-bailout turned into a massive hangover was the events were now moving faster than the European bureaucracies could react. Think about a hypothetical Angela Merkel schedule for yesterday. She wakes up and goes to the office. Spanish bonds are reacting nicely to the bailout. She goes to a cabinet meeting, but by the time she gets out, the Spanish rates are on their way back up. She makes a couple of phone calls and has a brief chat with her chief of staff and the Spanish bond rates are heading higher. By the time her photo op with some business leaders from Munich is over, the rout is on and Spanish rates are shooting well above 6%.

Remember, Angela doesn't actually do anything. In order for things to occur, members of the German bureaucracy have to write policies and regulations, alter budgets, issue white papers with alternative proposals, prepare briefings and negotiate with their counterparts across Europe. The forces of stability are slow.

The forces of entropy are fast. All an investor has to do is log on to his trading account and sell his stocks and bonds. I read somewhere that when it comes to financial crises, they always come upon you slower than you expected, but when they hit, they move much faster than you expected. After yesterday, it looks like we're entering the fast phase.

European governments moving at top speed. The GTI is Germany and the two Lamborghinis are France and Italy. The financial crisis is the F-15 overhead that blew by them going Mach 2.

Monday, June 11, 2012

One Hundred Billion Doesn't Buy What It Used To

European sovereigns and banks are getting to be like hummingbirds. They have to be fed every few minutes.

Some Questions About The Spanish Bailout

So Spain picked up a tidy 100,000,000,000 Euros over the weekend to save its ailing banks. A couple of questions arise.
  • Where did the money come from? If everyone is borrowing, who had the money to lend? The only thing I can think of is that the ECB printed more Euros.
  • Why won't this money simply go to assist in the financial evacuation of Spain? That is, if you hold bonds or stock or assets in one of these Spanish banks and haven't been able to cash it in until now because the banks are such toads that no one else wants to have anything to do with them, what's to prevent this 100B from simply buying you out as you flee the scene?
  • Spanish interest rates are rising again, less that 72 hours after the deal was done. After this sugar rush is done, what comes next?
  • The German economy is big, but it's only as big as Italy and Spain combined and both of them are in trouble. How long before even Germany can't stop the slide?
  • Speaking of Italy, where are they in all of this? How long before they start getting a share of the headlines?
  • Why isn't this this a good summary of what just happened: 100B Euros were printed out of thin air and handed to banks who handed them to depositors, creditors and bondholders who are fleeing the scene?
  • Lather, rinse, repeat?

Sunday, June 10, 2012


Dig this.
France's newly elected Socialist government has just decided to lower the retirement age to 60. From now on, no Frenchman will be forced to work any longer just because it might help kick-start the country's flagging economy. And there's no way the French are going to work as long as their poor fellow Europeans in Germany, whose government is obliging them to labor and toil until age 67...
Hollande's policies depend on foreign creditors being willing to lend him the necessary funding, but their read on things differs from that of the domestic electorate. Since they're worried about whether they'll ever see their money again, they're demanding higher risk premiums. One path to fresh capital with cheap conditions leads to the savings of Germans -- which also explains why the French government has been so badger-like in its championing of euro bonds and, more recently, a banking union.
If you borrow a million Euros from the Germans and you can't pay them back, you've got problems. If you borrow three hundred billion Euros from the Germans and you can't pay them back, they've got problems.

It looks like the slothful, childish Eurosocialists outside of Germany have figured this out.

Saturday, June 09, 2012

All They Need Now Is A Zombie St. Patrick Bringing The Snakes Back

The Euro 2012 soccer tournament has just started and here in the Catican, we've decided to root for Ireland. They're decided underdogs, being in the same group as Italy and Spain, so the odds of them playing more than three games are pretty slim.

To get us in the mood, we're cooking Irish food, drinking Irish beer and listening to Irish radio stations. Thanks to the Tune In app on Android, your phone can pick up any station broadcast on the Internet. It's great.

I don't speak Spanish, Greek or Italian, so listening to their radio stations would be less enlightening, but listening to the Irish ones gives a little taste of what the Europeans are going through. It's all well and good to note their debt levels and payment problems and political wrangling, but it's another thing entirely to listen to an Irish talk radio station discuss which schools are going to close down.

We're not talking teacher layoffs, we're talking about entire schools being shuttered because the government blew through all its money. In the case of the Irish, they blew through their money when they decided to nationalize their failing banks, taking on debt loads they could never hope to pay off. It was an emotional decision, one made to preserve their citizens' savings. There was great kindness in the act, but the end result was to drag the whole country down.

So now they're living through the consequences and the results aren't pretty. Average, decent people who don't seem to have much fiscal or political knowledge are calling radio stations angry, frightened and bewildered that their kids' schools are shutting down. I've only listened for a day or two so I'm sure there are all kinds of other services that have been terminated.

It puts a human face on the budget graphs.

Friday, June 08, 2012

Galileo And False Hypotheses

Years ago, two researchers claimed they had perfected cold fusion. They could create limitless energy without danger, pollution or expensive raw materials. It sounded too good to be true. In the end, their claims were proven false and they became a footnote of failure in the history of science. Whoever supported them was likewise tarred with the stain of their mistakes.

Around 1600, the Catholic Church was the primary patron of learning and art by a wide margin. The Pope funded all manner of research.  The Church embraced the teachings of St. Thomas Aquinas who, in the 1200s, had shown that God did not create contradictions which meant that science must have supremacy over theology.  Science could be proven, but theology must rely on divinely inspired reason.

At the time of Galileo's work on heliocentrism, there were all kinds of wacky theories being bandied about. Human anatomy and medical research was crude and the germ theory of disease was a long way off. Learned men searched for the Philosopher's Stone, a device that would transmute lead into gold. One can imagine the list of crazy theories and inventions the Church was asked to endorse. It's reasonable to assume that the Church was conservative in its support for any particular theory for the same reason that the supporters of the cold fusion study should have been. The price for failure could be a significant loss of prestige.

Galileo's crime against the Church was not one of scientific discovery, but one of impatience. The heliocentric model of the planets was gaining in popularity and the Church, in addition to funding and supporting Galileo, had an independent group of Jesuit astronomers looking into the same thing. The Church asked Galileo not to teach heliocentrism prior to external confirmation and he promised not to do so. In time, his impatience got the better of him and he went back on his word. That was the cause of his trial, not the content of his teaching.

If you look at the problem from the astronomy layman's perspective and you think of all the examples of scientific quackery at the time, it's no wonder the Church, in its role as arbiter of what was true, was slow in recognizing heliocentrism.

It should have been obvious when the planets were all lined up like this.

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Aaauuugghhh! So ... Much ... PLAID!

A Cowsills song came up on one of my Pandora stations. I happened to have that tab of my browser open when it did so and saw this.

What has been seen cannot be unseen.
You're welcome.

Cheezburger of the Day

funny cat pictures - Drop It And Back Out....Slowly!
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Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Think Of The Children


This Is Not Europe

... or, Why We Should Be Optimistic About America.

In Europe and the US, we face crushing debt, brought on by a childish worldview that valued handing out goodies more than producing things of value. In Europe, when faced with the collapse of their socialist idiocy, they march and chant and protest. In America, we march and chant and protest. In Europe, they vote for socialists. In America, we vote to put an end to the destructive, omnivorous greed of the public employee union parasites.

That's a good reason to be optimistic about the US.
President Hollande of France says, "Mon dieu! C'est incroyable!"

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Larry Summers Is A Genius

No, really.

The Farther You Go, The Farther You Have To Go

If you're Germany, the time to have bailed out of this Euro catastrophe was long, long ago. And it's not like you couldn't have seen it, had you focused on earning rather than having, on paying off loans rather than racking them up.

Spain is in trouble. Big trouble. Again.
MADRID—Spain's Budget Minister Cristobal Montoro on Tuesday urged euro-zone partners to act faster to help support its enfeebled banks, saying that the government has effectively lost access to capital markets because of steep risk premiums demanded by sovereign bond investors.

In making this dramatic admission, Mr. Montoro joined recent calls by the Spanish government for direct aid from European Union institutions for Spanish banks as the government hopes to avoid a full-blown bailout package. The matter has gained urgency after Madrid was forced into a €19 billion ($23.75 billion) rescue of lender Bankia SA, while the government's borrowing costs have surged to record highs with yields on Spanish 10-year bonds hovering above the 6% mark.
"Lost access to capital markets" is econospeak for "No one will lend us any more money." That's bad because Spain has monstrous debts that it can't service without more borrowing. Sovereign bond investors have lost faith in Spain's ability to produce, to earn, to create*. Anyone who lends money to the Spaniards now is a rube.

Speaking of rubes, if I was a betting man, I'd guess that the European Central Bank is going to step in and print, print, print more Euros and bail out Spain. Now that they've gone this far, what else is there to do? Admit that socialism is a failure? Hardly.

Over in Germany, Angela Merkel is buckling. She's gone from flatly refusing to participate in Eurobonds, where all debt will be shared, to putting conditions on them. Bad move, Angela.

A subtle suggestion for the Germans.
* - No one's lost faith in their ability to demand, consume, devour.

Monday, June 04, 2012

Barn Owl Release

A friend of mine volunteers for our local Animal Rescue. Lately she's been specializing in raptors. Last night, she released four barn owls into the wild and invited us to come along and watch.

Two owls flew away as soon as their boxes were open. A third sat in the box, not wanting to go anywhere for a while until it realized it was free. The fourth, shown below, was angry about the whole ordeal and decided to let us know.

The video quality isn't quite what I wanted. The original was quite good but very dark due to the late hour of the release. I played around with the lighting and some zooms on the face with the result that there's some blockiness in the movie. I haven't had the time to refine the thing, so you'll have to watch it as is. The video resolution goes up to 720p HD. Enjoy!

Sunday, June 03, 2012

The Bubble

Robert Reich, dogmatic ideologue:
Some self-styled "pro-growth centrists" in the Democratic Party are worried that the president is going too far in emphasizing widening inequality. They "wish the administration's focus was on growth over fairness," says the respected National Journal.

They're wrong. Fairness isn't inconsistent with growth. It's essential to it. The only way the economy can grow and create more jobs is if prosperity is more widely shared.
From an early age, children living in the inner cities are exposed frequently to the use of drugs, guns, arson, and random violence. They witness injury, suffering, and death, and they respond to these events with fear and grief, often experiencing dramatic ruptures in their development. The list of psychological reactions is long and grim: hatred for self, profound loss of trust in the community and the world, tattered internalized moral values and ethics of caring, and a breaking down of the inner and outer sense of security and of reality. They are particularly vulnerable to traumatic stress illnesses and to related behavioral and academic abnormalities (Gardner, 1971; Parson, 1994; van der Kolk, 1987).
Bobby thinks we're going to get more equality if we hand out cash* to young adults who have grown up in violent chaos. It hasn't worked in the past, it isn't working now and Bob's got no model, no model at all for it to work in the future. Moral relativism has obliterated the foundations of civilization and no amount of government intervention is going to make up for that. "Fairness" is nowhere in sight, much less an achievable goal. Old Roberto isn't even vaguely aware of this.

Bob-o-reno lives in a bubble of his own creation.

At least it's pretty.
* - OK, to be fair, who knows what the little moron wants to do with the tax money he squeezes from the rich. It doesn't matter what happens to the cash once he is running down the street, waving it in the air in triumph. In the absence of the societal structure of intact, traditional families, you might as well be handing out coke spoons, abortion vouchers, glocks and ammunition instead of welfare checks.

Saturday, June 02, 2012

Fred Harris And His Friends Are Still Waiting

Fred says he's still waiting for the first black President, but in reality, he and his buddies are waiting for just about everything. Here's a key paragraph.
It was June 2007, and the speaker linked the incident to the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. “All the hurricane did was make bare what we ignore each and every day,” he said. “Which is that there are whole sets of communities that are impoverished, whole sets of communities that don’t have meaningful opportunity and don’t have hope and are forgotten.” The solution was clear: “If we have more black men in prison than are in our colleges and universities, then it’s time to take the bullet out! . . . If we keep sending our kids to crumbling school buildings, if we keep fighting this war in Iraq, a war that never should have been authorized and should have never been waged . . . it is time to take that bullet out!”
Let's see here, what is Fred waiting for? He's waiting for someone to bring him a job, he's waiting for someone to fix his school, he's waiting for someone to keep his friends from robbing and shooting each other, he's waiting for all kinds of things.

Implicit in his article is the butt-numbing inertia of his "community". You get this mental image of everyone waking up in the morning and going out to sit on their porches with a cup of coffee, waiting for hope and opportunity to show up. At the end of the day, they shuffle back inside, despairing that their lives will ever change.

Secondarily, there is no comprehension of how any of the things he uses today actually came to be. I've never read a biographical sketch of Henry Ford that said he waited in his "community" for an opportunity to come. The car Mr. Harris drives is a result of Mr. Ford going out and creating that opportunity. Everything Fred uses is the result of other people actively creating, not passively waiting.

As for fixing his school, why can't he and his friends do that? Graffiti, not exactly the work of outside forces, can be covered with paint using skills most preschoolers have. Replacing broken windows isn't exactly rocket science, either. Driving around the poorer neighborhoods here, I've not seen schools with roofs rotting and sagging, but I've seen a lot of property damage from vandalism. If their kids are going to wreck the place, then maybe they ought to fix it themselves.

Given the massive debt burdens at the state and national levels of government and the coming budget cuts, they're going to have to anyway.

See, Fred? It's actually pretty easy.

Discovered: Proof of Elizabeth Warren's Native American Ancestry!

The crack research staff here at The Scratching Post, having recovered from the deep depression that comes with the end of the English Premier League season, has been working night and day trying to uncover the truth about Elizabeth "Dances With Quotas" Warren's claims of American Indian ancestry. Finally, we have proof. Family home movies made back in the late 1860s.


Friday, June 01, 2012

Greek Progressive Collision Course With Reality

In Greece, the leading party in the upcoming elections is Syriza, the progressives. They're big on social justice and fairness, but not so big on paying their bills.
A Radical Left Coalition (Syriza) would annul the memorandum, keep strategic companies under state control, freeze wage and pension cuts demanded by the troika if it wins the June 17 election, its leader announced on Friday.

Alexis Tsipras was speaking at the launch of Syriza's new programme, which he described as a "programme of dignity and hope".

Meanwhile, the state-run Greek power company is going full-Syriza on their creditors with predictable results.
The Regulatory Authority for Energy (RAE) told Reuters on Friday it was calling an emergency meeting next week to avert a collapse of the country's electricity and natural gas system...

RAE took the decision after receiving a letter from the Public Gas Corporation (Depa), which threatened to cut supplies to electricity producers if they failed to settle their arrears with the company...

A yawning gap of more than 300m euros in the accounts of state-run Electricity Market Operator (LAGIE), which acts as a clearing house for power transactions, is causing the system to clog up. If unchecked, that may halt operations at independent power producers, DEI CEO Arthouros Zervos told Reuters in an interview.

Weighed down by debt, LAGIE is unable to reimburse independent power producers for the electricity they generate.
You can just see it coming. Syriza or someone similar wins in Greece, refuses to pay their bills and WHAMMO! it's a series of Greek progressive collisions with reality in the form of blackouts, food shortages, no medicine in the hospitals* ...

I wonder if the Greeks will have the cool music, too.

* - The lack of medicines will not be due to the failure to pay bills, it will be due to the greed of Big Pharma!

More Infantile Behavior

... or, "The Austerity Was Coming Anyway."

Yesterday, we noted Robert Reich's childish worldview as the little fussbudget sputtered about austerity leading to lower growth as if austerity was it's own cause. Reich and so many others in the intelligentsia can't wrap their heads around the concept that if you borrow money now, you won't have it to spend later. In the adult world, borrowing inexorably leads to austerity.

So do low birth rates.
European birth rates. Replacement rate is about 2.05. Image from Der Spiegel.
Robert Reich's beloved social welfare state was created when the worker-to-beneficiary ratio was much higher than it is today. All other factors aside, if you're having fewer babies you must cut your social welfare programs. It's not a choice, it's not "austerity", it's simple mathematics. If you have three workers per beneficiary to pay for socialized medicine, social security and free education, then when you cut that to two workers per beneficiary, you must cut one or more of those benefits.

Infants don't do 8th grade algebra. If mommy usually takes you to the park and gets you an ice cream, but today she needs to spend 4 hours taking care of a sick dog, you still pitch a fit. You don't sit there working out the labor hour calculations, computing just why Rover's vet visit eliminates your yummy treats. You just want what you always got and you're not afraid to let everyone know.

That's Robert Reich and all his buddies. There's no concept of earning things, only of having them.