Sunday, September 30, 2012

Forget The Breakup Of The EU, How About The Breakup Of Spain?

When I listened to Mark Steyn's After America, I thought the breakup of the US was one of his crazier predictions. An example claim is that, given our current trajectories, why would Texas want to hang around to help absorb the fiscal collapse of Illinois and California? "Right, Mark," I thought. "That's really going to happen."

Now comes this.
The Catalan regional assembly approved a resolution on Thursday afternoon to hold a referendum on self-determination, as its general policy debate wound down to a close...

The resolution, which comes after the announcement that regional elections will be brought forward to November 25, reads: “The Catalan parliament affirms the necessity of the Catalan people to decide freely and democratically their collective future and calls on the [regional] government to hold a consultation first and foremost within the next legislature.”
Catalonia is one of Spain's wealthiest regions and it includes Barcelona. They have their own culture and their own language. They've always had an independent streak and right now, they aren't all that enthused about sticking around to watch the place fall to pieces.

It's a new wrinkle in the whole EU debt crisis. Will regions of indebted countries exit the Eurozone as separate entities while the parent nations try to cling to membership?

Your Sunday Feel Good Photo

Ahhh. That feels good!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Dog Park Sunset

I took this photo with my Galaxy S3 while out on a training exercise with the Catican Guards. I shrank it by almost half to save on storage, but the image is still beautifully clear. The camera in that little thing is great. Click on the image to see what I mean.

Every Illegal Should Be Deported

... so we can make room for Americans that ought to be doing migrant farm work.

Ready for some serious harshness on your Saturday mellow? Here we go.

Fruits and vegetables need to be picked. The work is back-breaking and of so little per-person value that pay is well below minimum wage. Right now, we bring in illegals to do it. Like these folks.

They should all be sent home. Instead, we need to slash social spending and start letting kids drop out of school. The dropouts can go pick the strawberries.

After back-to-school night at my daughter's public high school and conversations with her about her classes, it's obvious that many students place no value on education - theirs or anyone else's. And why should they? No matter how you behave, no one is expelled and even if you drop out, labor laws (not applied to illegals) and social programs ensure that you don't have to pick strawberries.

Kids learn that they can get away with anything in class.

As the really bad kids learn they can act up, the somewhat bad kids join when they see that it's all fun and no penalties. Mildly bad kids tag along and pretty soon, you get my daughter's Geometry class where learning is nearly impossible.

If you deported the illegals, you'd still need the fruits and veggies picked. If you did away with minimum wage laws, you could hire Americans. If you did away with the social spending, you'd have Americans who wanted the jobs. If you let kids drop out of school or expelled them for bad behavior, you'd have your workforce. At the same time, the other students would see there were penalties for not being serious about learning.

I would bet that in short order, you'd see massive improvements in education. It's win-win-win, except for the kids who drop out, but they aren't going anywhere right now anyway.

Inevitable: As Greece and Spain are showing right now, countries that borrow their way into insolvency to pay for lavish social programs end up like this as a matter of societal evolution. They may riot and burn and kill first, but in the end, they'll be out picking strawberries.

Why We're Screwed

Learn more about us debt.

Friday, September 28, 2012

On Telecommuting

For the next few weeks, I'll be telecommuting most days as our office areas undergo some construction. I could conceivably still work there, but I'm guessing that the noise and mess will make a crowded office situation still worse for everyone, so I sent the lads home.

It feels weird.

I feel like a kid who's playing hooky from school, scared that mom will come home and find the chips and sodas all over the coffee table and Cartoon Network on the TV. That's not the reality, of course. I find myself getting to work way earlier than I ever did when I was driving in since my computer is right downstairs. The work environment is much more productive, too and I'm finally attacking things that required long-term thought and concentration.

Aside from the strangeness of the thing, the biggest thing I've picked up over the last few days is the need for chat. I'm a manager and even when in the office, I've not done a good job of staying connected with everyone. The fact that I could walk over and see someone removed the urgency from actually doing so. Now that I'm far away, I want that same ability and chat is the answer. Not everyone has it.

Yesterday, I did a 12-round email exchange with one of my folks that lasted a couple of hours. I did email instead of a phone call as I needed time to address each round, so a phone call wouldn't have worked well for me. Had we been on chat, it would have lasted 10 minutes, tops. At the same time, I would have felt like I was connected to that person and not so distant. You can't trade quips with someone over email while you work something out. Chat is much more human.

Aside from that, I'm loving the telecommuting. The Catican Guards love having me around and our Maximum Leader spent some time yesterday snoozing right next to me. I could get used to this.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Hazards Of Telecommuting

Our Maximum Leader has decided the laptop isn't the right tool for the job.

Obama In An Intellectual Bunker

So the president went to the UN and sacrificed American free speech to the Islamists, prostrating himself over a video that had nothing to do with the Islamist attacks on our embassies that made him and Hillary wet their pants. Here's what the President of Libya had to say:

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

What's the point of rational conversation any more? This is simply insane. The President of Libya sits there and tells NBC News that it was a premeditated act of war while Obama behaves as if the video caused the attack. His progressive worldview is completely divorced from reality. The most amazing thing of all is that when he is confronted by contradictions from the real world, he doesn't change his thinking.

That's not an intellectual bubble he's living in, it's a hermetically sealed bunker.

Secondary thought: Talk about return on investment! In exchange for some mortar rounds and a few RPGs, the Islamists got the President of the United States of America to crawl to the UN and speak about how the Prophet is sacred and off limits, mouthing justifications for his actions that the simplest child can see are total lies. What sniveling worms these Americans are! Bloody their noses just a tiny bit and they completely capitulate.

Tertiary thought: I love the interviewer. She's performing a bisection search between two data points: Attacks occurred and they were premeditated. Were there mortars? How many mortars? How do you know they were there? Is this what leads you to think the attacks were premeditated? Jiminy Christmas, woman, the President of Libya is telling you your ambassador was assassinated in a coordinated military strike and you keep circling back to question whether or not it was really coordinated.

Sentence of the Week

Over in Spain, they're putting the finishing touches on their annual budget. The write up in El Pais contains this gem:
Despite putting the austerity drive into fifth gear, overall spending is due rise 9.2 percent as a result of higher interest rates on public debt and Social Security system outlays, largely a result of unemployment benefits, with a quarter of the working population out of a job.
Umm, it's not austerity if the budget is increasing by nearly 10% and it's certainly not "austerity drive in fifth gear".

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Sugar Rush Is Gone

And that's it! The sugar rush from QEternity is all played out on the S&P 500.
So ... what's next? QE Afterlife?

Not Snarkable

After quite some time spent blogging snarks about the Euros overspending and their inability to comprehend the connection between earning and having, we're now seeing anti-austerity riots like this:

That's not snarkworthy, it's pitiable and scary at the same time. Things are only going to get worse over there.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

A Tiny Observation

... that deserves a larger post later when I have the time.

With the Fed printing a trillion dollars a year, its contribution to Federal receipts is now close to equal to all the income tax paid by everyone across the country.

That's got to be indicative of something.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Sugar Rush!

Here's the S&P 500 since the announcement of QEternity (QE3):

Once the sugar wears off, you're pretty much back to normal.

With A Big Enough Lever

... you can declare the entire EU bankrupt. Dig this.
With the launch of the permanent common-currency bailout fund, the European Stability Mechanism (ESM), just around the corner, euro-zone member states are looking into ways to leverage the €500 billion ($647 billion) available to the fund, SPIEGEL has learned. But with Finland still concerned about the leveraging plans, it is unlikely that they will be initially included when the ESM is launched on Oct. 8.

The plan envisions the continuation of leverage instruments currently in use in the temporary euro bailout fund, the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF). Should they be applied to the ESM, the permanent fund could be able to mobilize up to €2 trillion instead of the €500 billion lending capacity it currently has -- a size that would make it easier to provide emergency aid to countries as large as Spain and Italy, for example.
Translation: They need two trillion euros to bail everybody out today*, but they only have 500 billion. So they're going to do what banks do and lend more than they have in deposits. This is called leveraging. It works when you are lending to people who can pay you back. In the case of the EU, since no one will ever be able to pay them back, they have a fallback plan.

Print. Print. Print.
Summary: They thought they could make do with 500 billion, but that was too small. They need 2 trillion. It's impossible to raise that kind of cash, so it's time for some flim-flammery and simply declare that 500 billion is equal to 2 trillion.

No, this isn't unstable. Not at all.

* - They're all socialists, so they will need additional trillions later. There's no way on Earth they're ever going to do anything but lose money.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Video of the Week

... possibly the year. Or decade.

H/T: Mut.

Starting A Religious War

Crazed Apple fanboys enraged at criticism of the iPhone.
I played with a new Apple iPhone 5 yesterday and I didn't like it.

There. I said it. I've made sure my insurance is paid up and I've got the Catican Guards on high alert in preparation for the iMullahs rousing of the iMob.

A friend of ours works at an Apple Store and got hers as soon as they shipped. She brought it over last night and I had a chance to compare it to my new Galaxy S3. There isn't any comparison at all as far as I'm concerned.

First off, the iPhone has an industrial feel to it. It's not a friendly thing to hold in your hand. It's thick, heavy and metallic. The edges make you feel like it just came out of a machine shop. The S3 is sleek, light and soft to the touch.

I didn't know if the screen size would make a difference, but when you held them up side-by-side, it really did. Over the last week or so, I've gotten used to the S3's monster screen and looking at the iPhone, I couldn't imagine going back to something so ... small. A coworker once characterized customers with small computer monitors as "looking at the world through a tank slit" and that's the very first thing I thought when the two were turned on next to each other. The difference doesn't seem like much when it's written down, but in person, it was a big deal to me.

The new navigation on the iPhone is supposed to wow you, but when you finally get to the details, it's nothing more and probably something less than the Google Maps app Android users have had for a long time. The three dimensional view sounds like a cute idea, but I don't know how it helps me find where I'm going. When I need to glance at the map while in urban traffic, I don't think I want a smaller screen cluttered with cute models of the buildings. I just want to see the upcoming turns.

All in all, I'd say the Android phones have surpassed Apple's iPhone line. Riot all you want, but for the first time, I saw a friend with a brand-new, top-of-the-line iPhone and wanted to console them.

Bunker doors closing in 3..2..1..

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Please Don't Anyone Do Anything Interesting Today

Just got back from a sprint to Merced. Very tired. Spending the day supine, watching EPL games. Please don't do or say anything interesting until tomorrow.


Friday, September 21, 2012

No Homework And Grading For Effort Gets You ...

Dean has the explanation and a follow-up if you haven't seen it already.
After visiting my daughter's high school on Wednesday night where everyone gets an A for effort because no effort is required, none of this should be a surprise. The arc of socialist failure can take 30-40 years to trace its way from initial experiment to inevitable crash meaning that generations grow up in the cuddly embrace of an ever-decaying government.

Jim Messina, likely a product of a school system like our own, is smiling above because he thinks he can have things because he wants them and nothing needs to be earned.

Were I to meet the lad, I'd tell him this: "Jimmy, my boy, you may have what you want and show your compassion by handing out all the benefits you like. Well, at least until printing money no longer works. After that, you'll have screwed us all."

After reading DDE and B-Daddy, you may come to the conclusion that we're just about there.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Random Thoughts On High School Back-To-School Night

Last night we went to back-to-school night at my daughter's high school. Our sons all went to an all-boys Catholic high school, but for various reasons, she is going to the local public school. The difference was dramatic and as I sat there listening to the teachers, several things occurred to me. Here's a sampling, in no particular order.
  • Participation was low. At the Catholic school, about 90-95% of the parents attended. At the public school, it was 10-20%.
  • Most of her teachers have completely punted on homework. They don't give any. At all.
  • Some graded on attempting to solve problems rather than giving the correct answer. Note: at the Catholic school, there was very, very little partial credit given.
  • There was no feeling that the students or the parents were expected to provide anything other than a warm body to sit in a chair.
  • You would graduate imagining that someone will pay you for trying to do your job and you won't be expected to improve yourself on your own.
  • The literature and social studies syllabi seemed thoroughly leftist.
  • There is one auto shop class and a few art classes. Other than that, no trades are taught.
  • The English teacher talked almost entirely about helping the kids pass the high school proficiency tests required to graduate.
  • In general, it seemed as though the education system has surrendered. They're not even trying to succeed any more, at least not in any real sense. Instead, they have defined success down until it's all about getting the kids a diploma or GED.
  • Minimum wage is screwing these kids. From what I saw, many of the "graduates" will be worth far less than minimum wage plus mandated benefits plus the costs of government-mandated corporate support systems. I could only imagine what kind of workers the school is producing. No wonder so many of them end up unemployed.
  • Since the school expects almost nothing, the parents have to pick up the slack. It made me glad I've been forcing her to do well at soccer. It is the habit of working hard to be good at something that matters.
Backing up to a societal level, I felt that I could see the rot of deficit spending all around me. There was no sense of urgency at all. The system was producing graduates ill-suited for either college or the trades while the State has long since run out of tax money and taxable workers. In the midst of their own financial starvation, the teachers were producing a workforce unable to compete or even understand that competition existed.

It was nowhere evident that the teachers connected a lack of employable graduates with their own personal welfare.

I don't know, maybe I'm just being overly dark.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Link of the Day



It be September 19, me lads. And you know what that means!

There be no better pirate than Errol Flynn, says I!

Nature Photography

... isn't always pretty. Here's a pool of muddy seawater from the Point Loma tidepools. Dig the greasy-looking blob of sea foam at the back. The sandstone cliffs fronting the tidepools are constantly crumbling away. On good days, the sediment settles and the water is clear. On bad days ... well, you get the idea.



Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Video of the Day

One of my Cursillo groupies emailed this one to me. It was so good that I thought I'd share it with you. Enjoy.

The Mathematics Of "Runaround Sue"

Runaround Sue was a big hit for Dion and the Belmonts way back when. Let's listen in on them* singing it.

Here are the lyrics I'd like you to consider.
Here’s my story it’s sad but true
It’s about a girl that I once knew
She took my love then ran around
With every single guy in town.
Every single guy in town?!? Wowsers! Let's take a closer look at this.

Let's assume for the sake of argument that Dion, like his fans, is a high school kid. Let's put him in an average school with 1200 students, 300 from each grade. Assuming further that the sexes are evenly distributed in each grade - 140 boys, 140 girls and 20, err,  other**. Finally, let's assume strict social stratification by grade level in the school. This simple math leads to a few easy conclusions.
  1. The song should be sung by a boys' chorus, not a soloist. Since 140 boys fell in love with Sue and she cheated on each in turn***, Dion has no special privilege to complain of his betrayal by Sue. In fact, given the number of boys Sue ran around with, it's highly unlikely that Dion was the first.
  2. Dion needs to seek professional help. He clearly has codependency issues. He falls in love with Sue and she then proceeds to cheat on him, not once, not twice, but 139 times. After this, his love still grows. That's not emotionally healthy, Dion.
  3. Sue needs help, too. 140 boyfriends? She's either been deprived of love growing up or she's a pure nymphomaniac. Either way, she needs time on the couch. With a female psychiatrist.
  4. Insurance companies should avoid providing a policies for Sue. Running around with every guy may cause jealousy and broken hearts among the boys, but the girls in her school are likely to take a firmer stance on the whole thing.
  5. Everyone in the school needs to visit the local clinic to be checked for diseases and parasites. Good Lord, Sue has been running around with everyone and they, in turn, have fallen into the arms of others for consoling with the end result being a disease transmission vector network that makes LinkedIn look positively sparse.
And there you go - some cursory thoughts on the topic of Runaround Sue. You're welcome.

* - I seriously doubt that was really the Belmonts up there. Dig the old dudes in the band. They look like Dion's father and his poker buddies. They're not comfortable with their guitars and their backing vocals are less than convincing. They're putting on brave faces, but they clearly wish they were dressed like slobs, smoking cigars, drinking bourbon and playing cards.

** - OK, I know. Cheap joke. But it's alright because I didn't insult the Prophet (PBUH).

*** - Except, perhaps, the last boy, who has the right to gloat. After, as I said before, visiting the clinic.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Another Thought on the Embassy Attacks

Chris Wallace asked the question we've all been thinking on Fox News Sunday when talking to UN Ambassador Rice. It happens at 0:30 in the video below.

That right there is the awesomeness of Fox news.

Having said that and following up on the previous post where we wondered just how this whole thing was playing on the "Arab Street", here's another tidbit.

How pathetic must it look to have the American hyperpower reduced to uttering totally transparent lies about  the attacks so it can avoid taking action?

It's Like Christmas For Al Qaeda

... only they'd probably behead Santa, so I'm not sure the analogy is a good one. Or maybe it is.

So the American embassies got whacked in Egypt and Libya, followed by American embassies all over the place. Not much happened to the perpetrators. In Libya, a bunch of people were rounded up and arrested, but it's doubtful they were the right ones. The CSI: Benghazi team probably doesn't measure up to American standards.

Here in the US, we sent a police force in the middle of the night to drag the film maker the Muslims allegedly hated in for questioning. While the rioters attacking the embassies might not understand our criminal justice system, they most certainly understand images like this.

Everybody living in a Muslim police state has seen this before. A beating must have followed.
Whatever the plan was at the beginning, I don't think the AQ guys ever expected such a bountiful harvest. American flags burned, Islamist flags flying over American embassies, Americans killed and the American police taking a hated infidel down to the prison complex to have a car battery attached to various body parts and truncheons used on his head and back. What did it cost? A few random dudes in Benghazi got rounded up and sent to prison. Whatever.

Our "allies" are seeing this, too. Right about now, anyone who lined themselves up with the Great Satan must be cashing in their bonds and booking a cab ride to the airport. If the Yanks can't manage to protect one of their ambassadors and the President is telling everyone that Egypt isn't an ally any more, all confidence in our ability to protect pro-American politicians in Muslim countries must have evaporated.

Can you imagine the conversations over the family dinner tables in those houses?
"Saeed, what were you thinking? I told you the Americans couldn't protect us!"

"Quiet, Laila! I'm calling the airport to get tickets on the next flight to Istanbul!"
Meanwhile, our reporting is fixated on how this affects the Presidential race and whether or not Mitt Romney will make a gaffe.

Didn't we used to be a serious country?

Cheezburger of the Day

Note about the new Cheezburger site: It's really nutty. They've mixed all of their memes together in kind of a greatest-hits feed and now you need to go to a different site for the lolcats. That's OK because you can just change your links, but the new version doesn't have embed code like the old one did. That means I have to save the image to my computer and then upload it myself. Since I don't have the embed code, I no longer link back to their site! It seems self-defeating, frankly.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

We're Sorry For The Blasphemy. We've Arrested The Guy. Can We Please Get Back To Our Online Porn Now?

One of the people involved in the film, The Innocence of Mohammed being led away during a midnight police raid on his house.

Andres Serrano, author of Piss Christ, at the Whitewall Magazine summer launch party.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Let's Replace Our Embassies With Skype!

Spontaneous protests by primitive religious people* are spreading around the globe, focused on American embassies. American embassies have not been targeted because the Obama Administration has shown itself to be a sniveling pack of flaccid wieners, no sir, but because an obscure video that no one ever heard of made fun of Mohammed. American forces here at home are moving as quickly as they can to hunt down and expose the Americans who insulted the Prophet, but it's not going fast enough for the freedom-loving, open-minded Facebookers of the Arab Spring. Soon, we may find American embassies from Tunisia to Malaysia wiped off the face of the map.

Who cares?

Why do we need embassies anyway? All they do is supply targets for the justified rage of the Arab Street to express itself against the failed policies of George W. Bush. Embassies are all cost and no benefit as Mitt Romney might say right before he outsourced the killing of grandmothers to a profit-crazed multinational firm whose factories he had moved to India. Embassies have been places where you can communicate with the government of the United States, places where you can discuss how infrastructure investments can lead to multicultural understanding as you build bridges to the future**, but like an elderly person who needs hip replacement surgery under Obamacare, they've outlived their time.

Who is trying to talk to us at the embassies? Well, sometimes it's funny-looking natives who lack even the slightest hint of moral reasoning and cannot be expected to control themselves when they see a YouTube video who need to talk to Americans. Sometimes its American tourists who need to find the best place to recharge their Chevy Volts with clean, renewable electricity. In either case, why do we need an embassy to do that? Instead of making people visit a big, ugly building with a ginormous carbon footprint just to talk to us, let's use Skype!

Here, the Interpretive Dance and PoliSci hipsters from Brown and Dartmouth who populate the State Department demonstrate the best way to communicate with people of other cultures using iPhones and Skype. Many of them are obviously gay.

One of the biggest benefits to allowing the indigenous people of the Middle East and Africa to scour the Earth clean of American embassies is that it will save money, money we can use to increase Social Justice. And as we all strive to increase participation in the Food Stamp progam to 100%, we certainly could use more of that.

* - These are the good type of primitive, religious people, not the bad type like the Catholics who want Sandra Fluke to starve in the gutter as she spends her last few dimes buying birth control so she can have sex with that hot guy from the Queer Films class.

** - Without a bridge to the future, we might add, you would fall into the river of time and be swept into the past where crazy, ignorant Christian fundamentalists put vaginas on the ends of sticks and wave them about in hate-filled, judgmental rage as they worship their strange and terrible gods.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Think Locally, Act Globally

We're going to save the world, don't you know. California will prevent Global Warming and we'll support the Arab Spring and bring freedom to all. It matters not whether India and China participate in reducing greenhouse gasses or if Islamists in Cairo attack our embassy, we will change the world while everyone else does whatever it is they do in those silly, little countries outside of our borders.

We are the only ones that matter.

Dig this.

The delusional self-regard of this whole farce is what struck me when I watched this, particularly as Kirstin Powers (a progressive herself) talked about how Mitt's statements have overshadowed the hoisting of Islamic flags over American embassies. It's the self-esteem movement gone mad. We are the ones we've been waiting for. They are the ones whose actions mean nothing.

One of the most important states in the Middle East, Egypt, is devolving into another America-hating cesspit of crazed Islamofascists and the press is focusing on Mitt's statements. Makes sense. He's an American and it's all about our politics. Those little ant-like beings on other side of the globe are irrelevant.

... regardless of anything that is going on outside of my little world.

A Little Facebook Politics Experiment

Yesterday, a college friend of mine*posted this on Facebook:
Mitt Romney: Born on third base, thinks he hit a triple. Sold second base to a multinational, outsourced first base to India.
He got a couple of replies from like-minded individuals and since he and I weren't all that close, I decided to ask an innocuous question to see if there was anything real behind his snark. The guy didn't handle it well.
Me: What did you think of the Fed's decision to engage in QE3 today?

Him: Seriously? Stocks rose -- what else do you need to know? Or am I supposed to be intimitaded b/c you read the WSJ or Financial Times? Trickle down doesn't. Thirty years have proven it. Ayn Rand can't write and took Medicare and SS when she got sick and old. What's your point?
Despite my profound allergies to it, there are some legitimate reasons to engage in QE - the crash destroyed wealth which can lead to destructive deflation and a good solution to that problem is the creation of replacement money out of thin air. I was trying to see if he could articulate that point or if he even knew about QE. The end result was anger and cliches.

I unfriended the guy. It was clear there wasn't going to be any meaningful conversation and I don't want to get my blood up every time I click on Facebook. I do more than enough of that here.

Ayn Rand can't intimidate me by trickling down!
* - We played softball together for a few years and that's about the extent of our friendship.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

So Now That Egypt Is No Longer An Ally, They Can Get Down To Business

Well, that had to be a relief. All that public restraint and police protection of Americans and their embassies is a real drag. It's the price you have to pay for having an ally, though. Now that Egypt isn't our ally any more, the Egyptians can concentrate on more important things and let nature take it's course.

Sorry, wrong video. This one's from the future.

A Trillion Bottles of Beer on the Wall, a Trillion Bottles of Beer

Today, Fed Chairman Bernanke said they are going to monetize $85B of US Federal Debt every month for as long as it takes. That works out to a bit more than $1T of worthless, printed money a year, handed out by whoever is in power in Washington, DC.

Naahhhh, that's not corrosive to civic health.  Not at all.
Oil the printing presses! We're saved!
Update: Fellow SLOB WC Varones points out that they're not really printing all $85B. They are printing $40B and continuing Operation Twist to the tune of $45B a month. Operation Twist is where they sell short-term bonds and buy long-term bonds.

The Press Was Right To Attack Romney Over Cairo And Benghazi

A lot of my friends on Twitter and the blogs have condemned the press for attacking Mitt Romney in the last few days over the slight problems we've had in Egypt and Libya. I think they're misguided. Mitt's behavior has been inexcusable and he deserves everything he gets. We can't have a presidential candidate undermining American foreign policy like he did. I mean, just look at what he was up to.

Click on the image and you'll see what we mean.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Frankly, This Is All Your Fault

The Arab Spring was going just fine and then you ruined it with your "free speech" stuff. Way to go, America. I hope you're all happy now.

Sarah Palin Is Stupid And Other Odds And Ends

That Sarah Palin. She sure is dumb, isn't she? Look what that Alaskan dingbat has gone and done now.
On the last night of the Democratic National Convention, a retired Navy four-star took the stage to pay tribute to veterans. Behind him, on a giant screen, the image of four hulking warships reinforced his patriotic message.

But there was a big mistake in the stirring backdrop: those are Russian warships.

While retired Adm. John Nathman, a former commander of Fleet Forces Command, honored vets as America’s best, the ships from the Russian Federation Navy were arrayed like sentinels on the big screen above.
That's pretty typical for her. What a moron!

The German Court Rules That German Banks Can Be Saved With Printed Money

It turns out that in Germany, it's constitutional to keep the populace from rioting in the streets in reaction to nationwide bank runs by having the ECB print money.
In a historically significant signal for the euro rescue, the German Federal Constitutional Court on Wednesday ruled there are no grounds to stop the country from ratifying the European Stability Mechanism, the permanent euro bailout fund, and the fiscal pact aimed at bringing economic governance to countries in the euro zone. The decision bolstered stock markets in Europe and around the world and also strengthened the euro.
I'll bet that was a tough decision. They probably made it the night before as they left the court and noted that their BMWs and Audis were still in the court parking lot, unburnt and rampaging mobs were nowhere in  sight. Given that German banks hold mountains of Spanish and Italian paper, it's no wonder that the German Constitution had provisions for printing money until the bearings on the ECB's presses melt down. Why it took so long to come to this conclusion is still a bit of a mystery as Section 8, Clause 12 clearly states: Mehr Geld drucken, ihr Narren! Beeilen!

Bankrupt Multiculturalists Discover That Court Actions Are More Expensive Than Fighting Piracy With Guns

Staying in Germany, I guess if you're going to go to the trouble of printing 100 billion Euros, a few tens of millions more isn't that big of a deal, particularly when it allows you to feed your progressive street cred with some compassion to Somali pirates.
This week marks the 100th day of the Somali piracy trial in Hamburg, a case of the Federal Republic of Germany versus 10 Somalis who hijacked the German freighter cargo ship MV Taipan in the Indian Ocean in April 2010, armed with AK-47s....

Four judges, four lay judges, two prosecutors, 10 other court employees, 20 defense attorneys and three Somali language interpreters -- along with numerous expert witnesses on subjects including conditions in war-torn Somalia, the estimation of age through carpal bone analysis, bullet holes and the Urdu language -- have jointly managed to bring to light no more than what was known from the start -- after all, the 10 defendants were caught red-handed by Dutch marines who stormed the ship...

The price tag of this trial -- around €35,000 for each day the court is in session -- only serves to prove that the trial itself is a legal luxury. Including all associated costs, this nonsense trial could end up devouring between €7 million and €10 million -- a sum equal to more than half the annual budget of the United Nations' anti-piracy program.
On the plus side, if you held two such trials and paid for it by closing down the U.N.'s anti-piracy program, you'd show how progressive you were at the same time as you saved future money. After all, with no more anti-piracy efforts, no more pirates would be captured so no more trials would be necessary. Consider it an investment in court time "infrastructure".


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Since We're All Post-Modern One-Worlders, This Sort Of Thing Isn't Troubling

Nope. Not troubling at all.


China has been reducing their exposure to US debt while Japan has been buying. The Fed, of course, has been printing money at insane rates, but that's another story. Here's the relevant chart from ZeroHedge.

We're spending lots of Japanese money on "infrastructure". Forward!

Japan is totally buried in debt. Their debt levels are not just unsustainable, they are positively unstable. When their house of cards falls apart, they're going to ... sell, Sell, SELL! And what do they have to sell? Well, for starters, they've got a trillion dollars of our bonds.

Not to worry, though. The Fed has been stocking up on lightweight oil to keep their printing presses humming at top speed. They'll be able to sop up all that excess supply of Treasuries with not problems at all!

We're saved!

Monday, September 10, 2012

How Toyota Could Bury GM In One Easy Step

... just buy a bunch of Chevy Volts.
Nearly two years after the introduction of the path-breaking plug-in hybrid, GM is still losing as much as $49,000 on each Volt it builds, according to estimates provided to Reuters by industry analysts and manufacturing experts. GM on Monday issued a statement disputing the estimates.
If Toyota and the rest of the auto industry bought enough of them, they could drive GM into bankruptcy.

Video of the Day

It lands on its feet, too!

Part Of The Text Of Dodd-Frank, Nibble 2

Here's another bit of Federal Regulatory paper shreddings for you to consume. Section 120 of 1,256 from HR 4173. It's not fully represented in the Code of Federal Regulations.

(a) In General- The Council may provide for more stringent regulation of a financial activity by issuing recommendations to the primary financial regulatory agencies to apply new or heightened standards and safeguards, including standards enumerated in section 115, for a financial activity or practice conducted by bank holding companies or nonbank financial companies under their respective jurisdictions, if the Council determines that the conduct, scope, nature, size, scale, concentration, or interconnectedness of such activity or practice could create or increase the risk of significant liquidity, credit, or other problems spreading among bank holding companies and nonbank financial companies, financial markets of the United States, or low-income, minority, or underserved communities.
Note that this mammoth mound of munchings isn't found word-for-word in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). It does, however, modify parts of the CFR as noted by the First Tuesday Journal. Of course, the notation in that site is necessarily miniscule. The true glory of these things is their size. While many people look at the CFR and think, "My, what a lot of hamster nests that could make!", they're missing out on all the other Federal regulations not captured in the CFR. Enough to create hamster nests for every hamster in the world!

For example, note the term "minority" in the excerpted paragraph. In Section 342 of H. R. 4173, we learn what this means.
(3) MINORITY- The term ‘minority’ has the same meaning as in section 1204(c) of the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery, and Enforcement Act of 1989 (12 U.S.C. 1811 note).
You might think you could find it by doing a Google search on the term, "section 1204(c)", but you'd be wrong. If you do that, you get mounds and mounds and mounds of more paper to shred! The country is full of regulations and many of them have sections 1204(c)! There are state regulations, county regulations, health and safety codes, zoning ordnances, all with 1,203 sections before this one and gallons of sections after!

Don't be fooled when you search. You might think you've found it here, but you haven't. If you look there, you'll find that Section 1204 is, in fact, this:

(a) IN GENERAL.--Any adjustable rate mortgage loan originated by a creditor shall include a limitation on the maximum interest rate that may apply during the term of the mortgage loan.

(b) REGULATIONS.--The Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System shall prescribe regulations to carry out the purposes of this section.

(c) ENFORCEMENT.--Any violation of this section shall be treated as a violation of the Truth in Lending Act and shall be subject to administrative enforcement under section 108 or civil damages under section 130 of such Act, or both.

(d) DEFINITIONS.--For the purpose of this section--

(1) the term "creditor" means a person who regularly extends credit for personal, family, or household purposes; and

(2) the term "adjustable rate mortgage loan" means any loan secured by a lien on a one- to four-family dwelling unit, including a condominium unit, cooperative housing unit, or mobile home, where the loan is made pursuant to an agreement under which the creditor may, from time to time, adjust the rate of interest.

(e) EFFECTIVE DATE.--This section shall take effect upon the expiration of 120 days after the date of enactment of this Act.
Are you starting to see how wonderful this all is? We hamsters need paper to shred and the government gives and gives and gives! We've found mountains of regulatory nesting materials and we still haven't found the definition of "minority"! Let's cap this off by doing a tighter search.

Here's the text of H.R.1278 where the definition is found. Well, it's not actually the text, it's just a set of hyperlinks to the hundreds of sections where the text might be found. Here's the section we're looking for, 1204.
(3) MINORITY- The term `minority' means any Black American, Native American, Hispanic American, or Asian American.
There. That was easy, wasn't it? Clear and concise and simple to follow. And there's more just like it. Lots more.

Sunday, September 09, 2012

The Code Of Federal Regulations, Nibble 1

Welcome to the inaugural post in my series of snippets from the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). Earlier, our Maximum Leader promised I would give randomly selected tidbits from the document, but in the first one, we're going to go with a topic near and dear to my heart.


CFR -> Title 9, Animals and Animal Products -> Chapter II, Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (Packers and Stockyards Programs), Department of Agriculture) -> Part 202 - Rules of Practice Governing Proceedings Under the Packers and Stockyards Act -> § 202.110 — Rule 10: Prehearing conference.

Rule 10: Prehearing conference.
(a) The presiding officer, at any time prior to the commencement of the hearing, may request the parties or their counsel to appear at a conference before the presiding officer to consider:
(1) The simplification of issues;
(2) The necessity of amendments to pleadings;
(3) The possibility of obtaining stipulations of fact and of the authenticity, accuracy, and admissibility of documents, which will avoid unnecessary proof;
(4) The limitation of the number of expert or other witnesses;
(5) The negotiation, compromise, or settlement of issues;
(6) The exchange of copies of proposed exhibits;
(7) The identification of documents or matters of which official notice may be requested;
(8) A schedule to be followed by the parties for completion of the actions decided at the conference; or
(9) Such other matters as may expedite and aid in the disposition of the proceeding.
No transcript or recording of such a conference shall be made, but the presiding officer shall prepare and file for the record a written summary if any action is taken at the conference, which shall incorporate any written stipulations or agreements made by the parties at the conference or as a result of the conference.
(b) Manner of the prehearing conference.
(1) The prehearing conference shall be conducted by telephone or correspondence unless the presiding officer determines that conducting the prehearing conference by audio-visual telecommunication:
(i) Is necessary to prevent prejudice to a party;
(ii) Is necessary because of a disability of any individual expected to participate in the prehearing conference; or
(iii) Would cost less than conducting the prehearing conference by telephone or correspondence. If the presiding officer determines that a prehearing conference conducted by audio-visual telecommunication would measurably increase the United States Department of Agriculture's cost of conducting the prehearing conference, the prehearing conference shall be conducted by personal attendance of any individual who is expected to participate in the prehearing conference, by telephone, or by correspondence.
(2) If the prehearing conference is not conducted by telephone or correspondence, the prehearing conference shall be conducted by audio-visual telecommunication unless the presiding officer determines that conducting the prehearing conference by personal attendance of any individual who is expected to participate in the prehearing conference:
(i) Is necessary to prevent prejudice to a party;
(ii) Is necessary because of a disability of any individual expected to participate in the prehearing conference; or
(iii) Would cost less than conducting the prehearing conference by audio-visual telecommunication.
And there you have it! Simplicity itself.

Hamsters Love The Code Of Federal Regulations

... and that's another little-known fact brought to you by The Scratching Post.

It's true! Hamsters love the thing! They love to nibble at the binding, tear up the pages, stuff it in their cheeks, make nests with it, and just generally shred it to pieces. In the process of doing so, they ingest a great deal of the regulations therein, becoming experts on the subject.

During this election season, we'll hear lots and lots about how deregulation will create a Darwinian, post-apocalyptic society where the strong will feed upon the weak in a winner-take-all mortal combat cage match. Instead of weighing in on this or that aspect of the issue, we've decided that our resident expert on the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), Jacob the Syrian Hamster, will, err, regurgitate tidbits from the CFR so you can see what it's really like and how totally digestible it is for the average person*.

Some hamsters, like the one above, have to make do with color circulars from the newspaper, but here in the spacious editorial offices of the 'Post, we've got a complete copy of the Code of Federal Regulations for Jacob to digest.

* - You can visit sites like Political Calculations and Ten Thousand Commandments for summaries of the CFR, but after looking through their charts and graphs, you have no idea what any of the numbers or graphs mean. Neither does anyone else. No one speaking on the subject has a comprehension of the magnitude of government management of our lives. Some might know this or that section well, but it's a good bet that for all practical purposes, the number of people who understand the whole thing is essentially zero.

Update from Jacob: We're going to include texts of bills and the tax code as well in this series as neither of them are well represented in the CFR and they are equally massive and filled with chewable fiber!

Saturday, September 08, 2012

Cheezburger of the Day

What Does Your Profligate Uncle Say After His Side Of The Family Runs Up The Credit Card Bill?

"We're all in this together!"


Liveblogging The Starting Of The MGB, Bumped And Updated With Biblical Reference

Today Sometime this weekend, my MGB will start and run. It won't be drivable as there are still parts that need work before it's safe to hit the road, but today we'll get it started and make sure it runs. I'll liveblog the process here. Italics means it hasn't been done yet.

The MGB in the Catican.
  1. Test the fuel pump. - DONE. I hooked it up to my 12V power supply and the little thing cranked away. Without fuel going through it to see if it was really working, we'll take the noise as assent. We'll know for sure when we get down to the carburetor settings.
  2. Shop. Buy gas can, electrical wire, non-insulated 1/4" spade connectors, light switch to use as engine kill switch, light switch box, fuel filter, fuel hose, hose clamps, gasoline and carne asada burrito. DONE. Everything about this project has been like this. Since I haven't worked on a car in a long, long time, I don't have the parts any more. Every day has been spent half in shopping, a quarter in diagnosing the problems and designing solutions and a quarter in execution. It has been, however, 100% fun.
  3. Put gas in the tank. DONE. I bought one of them thar newfangled gas cans from Home Depot. The thing had so many safety features that it was impossible to actually use to pour gas into the tank. I finally had to tear out the spring-loaded safety stopper at the base of the spout to get it to pour. The thing leaked all over the place.
  4. Install the fuel filter. DONE. This was so easy that it hardly warranted its own entry, but you've got to give yourself a few easy ones, right?
  5. Wire the fuel pump up to the battery power supply. DONE. Yes, yes, YES! There is fuel in the fuel filter now! The little pump is just blasting away. Awesomeness squared!
  6. Connect the remaining air recirculation lines after completely removing all remaining smog hoses. It's a 1973 model and doesn't require any of the stuff. It never had much, but the little 1800cc engine never worked well with all that junk installed.  DONE. And here we hit a snag. We're missing some hoses, which will be no problem to go out and buy, but we're also missing a few minor parts to the carburetor itself, such as the linkage to the throttle. Hmm. Looks like we need the help of a machine shop. It's never easy, is it? Update: A good friend of mine who's a terrific mechanic came over for enchiladas and Sam Adams last night* and showed me how the last hoses and wires connect for the Weber. It's all good now.
  7. Shop. See above. DONE.
  8. Shop again. What I thought was a 5/16" 24 pitch nut was really an 8mm 1.0 pitch nut. The Weber has metric threads and the MG has British. Oh well. Update: No, they weren't metric. They really were 5/16 24s. The studs coming out of the intake manifold just needed to have their threads cleaned out with a die. DONE.
  9. Turn the engine over and see what happens! DONE. Screw all those hoses. We just wanted to see what would happen. No spark. CONCLUSION: We need a new ignition coil. And a beer. Beer first, ignition coil tomorrow.
  10. Buy and install a new ignition coil. DONE.
  11. Turn the engine over and check for spark. Repeat until we get spark from the plug wires. Trial 1: No spark. Opened the distributor and it looks like the points aren't set right. Look around for a feeler gauge. Realize I don't have one any more. Shop again. Trial 2: The dwell angle said 0, meaning there was no connection between the points. I pulled the points and found there were filthy. I cleaned and reinstalled them and Bingo! Spark. Now to put the distributor back together. Trial 3: It starts and runs! Woot!
  12. Adjust the carburetor settings back to factory recommended idle and choke. (It's got a Weber DGAV 32/36 after market carburetor.) LATER.
* - My buddy and his wife come over for dinner quite a bit. Last night the womenfolk made dinner while the men hung out in the garage, drinking beer and talking cars. It was great. No harsh words or dirty looks were exchanged as we all share cooking and hosting duties and the ladies knew this project meant a lot to me. A good wife is ... well, let's just take it from Proverbs 31.
A good woman is hard to find,
and worth far more than diamonds.
Her husband trusts her without reserve,
and never has reason to regret it.
Never spiteful, she treats him generously
all her life long.

Friday, September 07, 2012

Connect The Dots

Here are some data points from the Justicialist Democratic National Convention. A conclusion is given. The proof is left to the reader.

Thursday, September 06, 2012

The Democratic Party In One Easy Lesson

It starts slowly, but give it time. It gets good about halfway through and ends with a bang.

You got to give them credit, when they're not hating on religion, they're behaving like dictators. It's all about consistency. Good thing they had the convention in North Carolina where they hoped to pick up the state as a win in November. Let's see how this little bit of platform tomfoolery plays down there.

On the plus side, they had Sandra Fluke speak at the convention, representing the poor, disadvantaged, white, law-school-student trollop voters who want to get laid on our dime.

Special bonus tidbit: Democrat celebrity Jason Biggs elevated the conversation with the normal non-hate-speech we've come to expect from this crowd.

Even specialer bonus tidbit: Most underplayed gargantuan number ever: Sixteen trillion.

Sebastian Janikowski Kicks The Can Down The Road

The ECB has fired it's biggest guns yet, starting a bond-buying program with no upper limit.
FRANKFURT—The European Central Bank unveiled its most aggressive plan to date to deal with Europe's nearly three-year-old debt crisis, promising open-ended purchases of short-maturity government bonds to keep borrowing costs down for Spain, Italy and other struggling countries.
Luckily, this won't result in inflation.
The central bank will continue to offset its purchases in full by taking an equal amount of money out of circulation. When the ECB purchases bonds, it's injecting liquidity into the financial system, effectively creating new money. In the past the ECB has absorbed this excess liquidity by accepting one-week deposits from banks for an equal amount of money. The process, known as sterilization, allows the monetary base, which typically consists of cash in circulation, plus banks' reserves at the central bank, remain the same.
Nothing has changed in any of the countries in question. Labor costs, both monetary and legal, remain high. Social spending is still unsustainable. Birth rates are still below replacement levels leading to more retirees supported by fewer workers. Sovereign debts are still enormous and growing larger as a percentage of GDP since all of these countries are in recession.

This is can-kicking of the highest order.

Update: Zerohedge is all over this as you'd expect, including this wonderful clip from CNBC. The good stuff starts at 4:20. As far as I can tell, what they're saying about sterilization is that you would trade in, say, Spanish bonds and receive back ECB bonds. No money changes hands, but the ECB would now be issuing the dreaded Eurobonds that the Germans and others have objected to and rightfully so. The only countries capable of servicing those new bonds would be ... Germany, Austria, the Netherlands and so forth.

Sterilizing Bond Purchases With What?

Mario Draghi, head of the European Central Bank (ECB), is promising to stop the rise in interest rates for Spanish and Italian bonds by buying unlimited numbers of them in a sterilized process. Sterilized bond buying means that no money will be printed by the ECB; for every Euro of Spanish bonds bought, the ECB will sell a Euro of something else to raise the funds necessary for the purchase. They'll get low interest rates for the sovereigns and no inflation.

But what will they sell and to whom?

Taking Spain as the example, unemployment is over 20%, there's a slow run on their banks underway, provinces are going bankrupt or insolvent, the list of problems goes on and on. There's no indication that the government of Spain will be able to service its debts in the future unless its interest rates are cut in half or more. Investors know this. As soon as the ECB puts their plan into action, they won't just be buying new issuances of Spanish debt, they'll have to buy from current bondholders who want to sell, otherwise the whole thing will fail.

As soon as nervous holders of Spanish bonds find the ECB is willing to buy their paper, they'll sell it. There's a lot of the stuff about and lots of reasons to be nervous. So just what is the ECB going to sell in order to cover all the Spanish bonds they'll need to buy?

My bet is that they're anticipating no such rush to the exits with the Spanish debt. As soon as bondholders know there's someone out there who will buy if they need to sell, everything will calm down. If it were me, I'd nod my head and say, "Well that's good enough for the other fellow, but I'm getting out. The wheels are still coming off this thing and I don't want to be around when it really crashes."

I just don't see how this ends without the ECB revving up the printing presses.  The underlying facts haven't changed - Europe's business climate is dreadful, their labor is overpriced and unreasonably protected and they're way over the heads in debt. The ECB has to buy the bonds with something, but with what?

In the end, they'll buy it with this.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012


... Gangnam Style*!

A buddy of mine just came over to look at the MGB. After playing around for a bit, he discovered that the positive lead from the battery wasn't on tight enough. We tightened that sucker down, tested the starter and the engine turned over for the first time in well over a year.

Awesomeness squared!

* - No, I have no idea what this is all about, but the video has over a hundred million views and it's wacky and fun, so it's perfect for the way I feel right now.

Odds and Ends

Not much time for blogging. Working on the MGB. I've got the thing completely rebuilt, but now I've got to rewire the whole car from scratch. I'm redesigning the electrical system from the ground up.

I installed the starter, the first part of the system. Powered it up with a remote starter switch. Nothing. Pulled the starter and tested it out on the ground. It worked like a champ. Put it back in the car, got a little teeth grinding, then nothing. Pulled the radiator and fan so I could turn the engine over with a socket. I was afraid that sitting around for two years had frozen it up. It turns, but not easily.

So that's where we are with that.

Subject change.

Financial and stock markets are emotional things. There's no magic number beyond which you can't recover, there's a magic feeling that tips the scales. Dig this bit from the NYT.
After working six years as a senior executive for a multinational payroll-processing company in Barcelona, Spain, Mr. Vildosola is cutting his professional and financial ties with his troubled homeland. He has moved his family to a village near Cambridge, England, where he will take the reins at a small software company, and he has transferred his savings from Spanish banks to British banks. 
“The macro situation in Spain is getting worse and worse,” Mr. Vildosola, 38, said last week just hours before boarding a plane to London with his wife and two small children. “There is just too much risk. Spain is going to be next after Greece, and I just don’t want to end up holding devalued pesetas.”
When you get enough Señor Vildosolas deciding to bail out, you're done. Where's that point? When is it coming to Spain? When is it coming to California or Illinois? When does the whole thing fall to pieces?

Who is John Galt?

Update: If you're watching the Democrats convention, think of this: They're not concerned with Señor Vildosola leaving nearly as much as they are with making sure Señorita Vildosola has access to birth control and abortion. In some sense, the Democrats are saying to both of them, "Screw you."