26 November 2009

Scotty! I need more pixels!

Thanks for the pixels!

On this Thanksgiving, let me thank all of you who read and particularly those who comment on my little corner of the InterTubes. It’s been great to have you all.

25 November 2009

A wonderful Christmas

Oprah will be hosting a Christmas Special with the Obamas. Oprah’s ratings are still high enough that the exposure should do some damage, because history shows that nothing grinds down this President’s popularity like the President being present.

Fire first, make up excuses later

A few of us still remember the firing of Inspector General Walpin, followed by leaks and statements that he was unfit, and the board for which he worked wanted him gone.

Well, golly, turns out the White House just made stuff up

The White House not only deliberately misled Congress on Walpin’s firing, they also withheld these new documents until after Grassley and Issa made their initial report on the investigation on Friday.

What say we all wait for the huge media storm on this sort of flagrant political firing of someone investigating corruption of a ally and backer of the President?

We might as well also wait for the vigorous investigation and media storm over ACORN in California dumping documents in response to a possible investigation.

Isn’t it a good thing the “Party of Corruption” isn’t in power to protect these people?

Self awareness beats being wrong

This article is a putative slam of ex-Governor Palin, but I am just not seeing it. The set up is that Palin and Senator McCain were set up for an interview with Univision, but Palin backed out because she didn’t think she was well enough informed. I thought “cool! how much better our nation would be if politicians who didn’t know enough about a subject refrained from talking or making policy on that subject! Palin is a politician but still retains some essence of humility instead of being pure ego!”. As Mark Twain noted, it’s not the things people don’t know that are dangerous, but the things they know that just aren’t so.

Noted in passing …

I need to dump some little things that are in my queue.

Remember back to the Republican National Convention in 2008, and a Code Pink member rushed the stage during then Governor Palin’s acceptance speech? Now we get to see just how “pro-woman” Code Pink is, as it turns out she met with the Taliban while in Afghanistan. The woman is also, as you would expect, one of President Obama’s top fundraising bundlers. You have to wonder about people who think claim to be feminsts who see the Taliban as allies but not Palin.

Via Random Jottings is the story of an illustration from ex-Vice President Al Gore. Yes, it’s photoshopped, but it’s supposed to be a future projection and they could hardly take real pictures of the future. Nevertheless, getting a hurricane spin backwards is worth mocking1. We should also mock Gore’s view that the center of the Earth is at millions of degrees.

For Old Media, we can mock an MSNBC reporter taking on a 17 year old and losing, even after some dirty tricks. As with Andrea Mitchell how can any one watch things like this and not view Old Media as agitprop, not reporting?

Tim Blair notes book sellers in San Francisco who think Palin’s autobiography is physically contaminating. That’s some serious mojo on Palin’s part is what I think.

I can’t let the New York Times view on publishing stolen documents

The documents appear to have been acquired illegally and contain all manner of private information and statements that were never intended for the public eye, so they won’t be posted here.

— go by without noting, as many others have done, how the NY Times is fine with publishing things that damage or risk American national interests. But a MAList cause? That would be wrong. Why should I not judge the NY Times based on what’s clearly important to them?

Instapundit writes

Sorry, but claims that Obamacare will save money are unlikely enough that they can be fairly characterized as “lies.” As SNL’s Hu Jintao said, all their schemes to save money somehow seem to involve spending enormous sums.

It’s like a bad I Love Lucy plot.

1 I was going to mock the open water in Greenland, but upon trying to find some verification I couldn’t find anything I considered definitive, which is a bit odd. I found references to a number of projects to do that, but only prospective descriptions, none from after the effort. I found claims both ways. They all agree there is land under the ice, that it was above sea level before glaciation, that it has been pushed down by the weight of the ice, but whether it is currently below sea level is disputed. So having water there might be correct. If any one can find a link to Greenland’s basal topography, that would be cool.

Don't results count?

Our results suggest that tax cuts are more expansionary than spending increases in the cases of a fiscal stimulus. Based upon these correlations we would argue that the current stimulus package in the US is too much tilted in the direction of spending rather than tax cuts. For fiscal adjustments we show that spending cuts are much more effective than tax increases in stabilizing the debt and avoiding economic downturns. In fact, we uncover several episodes in which spending cuts adopted to reduce deficits have been associated with economic expansions rather than recessions. We also investigate which components of taxes and spending affect the economy more in these large episodes and we try uncover channels running through private consumption and/or investment.

Large changes in fiscal policy: taxes versus spending
Alberto Alesina and Silvia Ardagna
August 2009, Revised: October 2009

Via Extreme Wisdom

24 November 2009

I would take regulation more seriously if the people writing it did

Congress opens the door to allowing ACORN to help create and review financial industry regulations.

Who can seriously suggest this is better than not having those regulations?

UPDATE: Bryon York addresses the same subject with the take away that whatever is said in public, ACORN will be supported when the issue has sufficiently cooled.

Seeing socialists in every corner

Here is a funny post about ex-Governor Sarah Palin from across the pond. The title says it all —

Tracing Sarah Palin’s socialist roots

Yes, because Palin, while governor, administered the dividend distribution from the rents charged by Alaska to various natural resource extracting companies. While the author demonstrates a severe lack of understanding of commerce (such as the difference between expenses and profits), the really amusing thing is that the Alaskan redistribution is far more libertarian than socialist. After all, a key point of socialism is to accumulate control of economic activity in government hands. The distribution instead empties the government buckets of any accumulation from land rents and distributes it to citizens to use as the citizens, not their government minders, wish. A real socialist would put all that money in a fund to increase the power and control of the state, possibly to use to purchase the companies paying the rents and work up the commercial food chain. And of course, a government not dependent on taxes can experiment on its citizens far more aggressively. Isn’t that what socialism is about?

I found it

If you’ve been wondering where all the Obama Love is going as the poll numbers drop, you might check out Orrin Judd — I think he has it.

Conformal acceptance

Patterico lays out an excellent example of where believing something just because it’s ideologically convenient can lead you to a bad place. But I doubt the object of this lesson will actually learn anything from it.

This does also point to a new yet necessary style for any whistle blowers from the conservative side — always hold back something because the MAList enablers will always walk in to it.

There is also this post by Ann Althouse about a dispute on how much the Palin vs. Couric interview that was broadcast differed from the actual interview. Palin claims radical differences in her book, CBS and Couric claim it was straight up. I believe Palin primarily because CBS won’t release the raw footage. If CBS was write, it would be a perfect opportunity to damage Palin the same way Breitbart is smashing ACORN and its defenders above. Instead, CBS says only “trust us”. I think not.

I do think that Palin is right to fire back at Old Media’s duplicity, something I think ex-President Bush did far too little. However, moderation in all things. It is good to bring it up, bad to dwell on it. Put it out there and leave it, as a set up and background for the next time (and there will be a next time, a lot of them). Such as this stalking effort by Andrea Mitchell — how can any one watch that and not believe that Mitchell is motivated by spiteful hate, not journalism? The whole scene is a great metaphor for how I think Palin should handle press attacks. Acknowledge it, fire back, then move on, if for no other reason than it really ticks off the Old Media harpies.

Reliving my youth

I think I am starting to recover from a paintball outing this weekend with Boy One, his friend, his friend’s dad, and a bunch of his friend’s dad’s co-workers. I definitely had a good day, though I am paying for it now. I managed to set up a game win for Boy One as well, so it was a good time.

21 November 2009

Watching what you say

Here’s a good catch in a New York Times article

American scholars and activists demanded anonymity for fear of damaging relations with the White House, [unlike] Hu Shuli, a well-known Chinese journalist [and] one prominent defense lawyer, Mo Shaoping.
Americans think Obama will react worse to criticism than the Chinese think their government will.
Projection Room

A comment at Just One Minute asks an interesting question. One of the themes of the MAL is how it is perpetually terrified of “backlash”. For instance, after the Ft. Hood shootings, the primary concern seemed to be avoid a “backlash” against Muslims, rather than (say) looking for ways to prevent such events in the future (with President Obama helping out by telling Congress don’t look in any root causes). The commentor asks, could it be projection once again —

Given the Progressive intolerance of the “Christian Right,” it’s only logical to believe that all of America is equally intolerant.

That is, the MAL knows what they would to do “Christianists” if given half a chance, so they assume the rest of America are also that intolerant.


Some one help me out with what passes for journalism these days, as exemplified in this story (via Brothers Judd) —

Europe’s hopes of translating its economic power into global political clout have suffered a severe setback as a result of the timid choices on new leadership made this week, analysts, officials, and diplomats conceded on Friday

If “Europe” actually has those hopes, why would they make those timid choices? Doesn’t the latter demonstrate the weakness or non-existence of the former? Wouldn’t a normal person look at a situation where A has to do X to get Y, and A doesn’t do X, that A doesn’t really want Y? That perhaps if “Europe” selected two decent mediocrities to “lead”, that’s what “Europe” wanted?

With friends like these …

This (via Brothers Judd) is definitely amusing —

The Obama Justice Department is having problems prosecuting terrorist cases because top department attorneys have conflicts of interest.

That’s because some of them worked the other side when ex-President Bush was in office. How many? The Obama Administration won’t say because you just don’t need to know things like that, peasant!

Want some extra funny? Without recusal, the defendants have a good case for a mistrail if the prosecuting attorney used to be their defense attorney. I just have to sit here a minute with my jaw slack at the sheer ability of the Friends Of Obama League’s to turn a stupid idea in to a monumental failure.

Eating your credibility corn

I have been meaning to write about the AGW scam and the implications for science but if I don’t write now, with the CRU hack making headlines I will miss my chance.

One of the characteristics of the MAL is that it has a large contingent of looters, people who support the political program because they think it will let them take stuff from other people. I think the parts of the scientific community who have perpetrated the AGW scam are basically looters as well, except what they have been looting is the prestige of science. They got caught up in a cause and decided it was worth breaking the egg of the respectability of science to “solve” this (in their view) global crisis. They had to destroy the village in order to save it…

One interesting thing to ponder is how government funding of science inevitably politicizes it in this manner. If the stolen CRU data is accurate, then one of primary methods used to suppress dissent was control of government funding. The fraud would also not have had the reach it did if there hadn’t been a feedback cycle between posturing politicians with taxpayer money and the AGW cabal. Yet we seem poised to make even more of a direct connection in how science is done.

Now, it is certainly not the case that government funding creates scientific fraud — that’s just part of the human condition. It is government funding that, as usual, takes a rather minor problem and makes it a potentially national or global catastrophe. I, personally, prefer to live with smaller problems.

20 November 2009

Public vs. private

Here is a fine example of how regulations put in a for an obtensibly good reason end up making this worse, not better. UPS is fighting with FedEx about their industrial classification. UPS is classified in a way that makes it vulnerable to unionization, while FedEx is not. It’s a rather, in my opinion, arbitrary classification although it was originally done to protect “critical transportation” from unions1. The end result is that these companies now compete not by improving themselves, but by trying to impoverish each other through lobbying in Washington DC. This is not an aberration, but the almost inevitable result of overly detailed government regulation for a “good reason”. Is this really what we want?

1 I will leave the entire subject of why a nation must protect its critical functions from unions by the side.

Noted in passing

I have been seeing this “Obama urges Moms to go back to school” advertisements around the web, and now I am seeing them for “Dads”. Is this how the Obama Administration plans to reduce unemployment, by getting people to free up jobs and go to graduate school instead?

In the annals of infinitely elastic demand, I give you

Dog poop freezing spray. I admit, there have been times when I would have paid a lot of money to have this in my pocket.


There’s always some talk about changing the set of states in the United States. Frequently this involves California or Texas, although sometimes people talk of uniting the Dakotas before they’re empty.

But my dream is different.

What I would like is to re-arrange the MidWest. We should take the northern eastern quarter of Ilinois and the north western corner of Indiana and make that a state, “Chicagoland”. Then take the remaining parts of Illinois and Indiana and make “Illiana”. We could move the capital to Danville, a reasonably central location. I think everyone would be much happier — the Chicago politicians who run Illinois wouldn’t have to waste time traveling down to Springfield anymore, and we humble down state peasants wouldn’t be a drag on that fine city. Best of all, we wouldn’t even have to change the flag. Who is with me?

19 November 2009

Philosophy of Desire

Orrin Judd cites an article on liberalism which I find a bit of a miss. Here is the key paragraph —

By liberalism I mean the view that equal freedom is the highest political, social, and moral principle. The big goal is to be able to do and get what we want, as much and as equally as possible.

That view comes from the view that transcendent standards don’t exist—or what amounts to the same thing, that they aren’t publicly knowable. That leaves desire as the standard for action, along with logic and knowledge of how to get what we want.

But this isn’t even coherent — is not the view stated in the first sentence a transcendent standard? What else is it, since it transcends every other consideration?

Perhaps he addresses this elsewhere, but modern liberalism is certainly not about all desires being equal. Beyond the race / gender / cultural categorization of desires (i.e., a desire is good or bad depending the properties of the person with the desire), I think the view that modern liberalism has even more fundamentally two types of desires —

  • sex : it’s all good, there should be no restrictions and no consequences
  • everything else: must be regulated for the good of society / person / the masses / the environment

I think classical liberalism was about maximizing consent, which is what I continue to hold as the primary value.

Shoot a pirate day

Wow, even Harry’s Place is disrespecting the current leading power response to pirates.

This means that navy ships and aircraft quite literally need to start blowing pirate vessels out of the water. We need to start killing pirates in large numbers, or the problem will simply grow and grow until it is unmanageable. If the righteous are squeamish about using force, then thugs will.

I never expected to hear that kind of thing out of Euro-Leftists in my life time. I certainly agree that Western Navies don’t exterminate pirates as the routine way of handling them is pathetic. It’s also unacceptable that if the official navies aren’t going to deal with the problem that they don’t want merchants to do so. Again, I can see how that can rapidly degenerate and give rise to more piracy and privateers but that’s always what happens if the legal authority gives up its physical authority.

P.S. Winds of Change has an opinion as well.

P.P.S. It doesn’t appear to “take that much resistance”;http://brothersjuddblog.com/archives/2009/11/when_pirates_flee_noise_no_one.html to deter pirates. The more interesting thing is that the US Navy Admiral cited supports the armed merchant. I thought that was against USA policy.

Learning MovableType

What did I learn today?

If you have Movable Type 3.x installed and you upgrade to 4.x, page publishing won’t work. You will need to explicit create a Page template and an archive mapping. Otherwise page publishing will appear to work but no page will be created and no error messages will be generated. So you’ll have no idea at all why the file isn’t being generated on the web server.

The steps are

  1. Go to Design | Templates | Archive Templates
  2. Edit your individual entry archive and copy all the text.
  3. Go back and create an archive template of type “Page”.
  4. Paste the text you copied as the template and save.
  5. After you save open the “Template Options” at the bottom. Do this after saving, it won’t work until you have saved the template.
  6. Click “Create Archive Mapping” and add a mapping of type “Page”. The default is fine to start with, tweak later as needed.

There you go, you can now publish pages.

18 November 2009

Noted in passing…

MSNBC rips on Sarah Palin - expected.

MSNBC uses fake and long debunked photos to rip on Sarah Palin — expected.

You didn’t expect Old Media to look out of the bubble, did you?

Noted in passing…

It’s now official — unions are primarily public employees. To a large extent big government and big labor are now convergent interests. Another step on the way to Two Americas.

Noted in passing…

Just One Minute notes a bit of a miss by Old Media —

The NY Times front-pages a mini-debacle - Peter Galbraith, adviser to John Kerry and Joe Biden, has been getting rich off the advice he has been giving the Kurds […] If this had been an advisor to Dick Cheney, libs would be leaping from tall buildings

Notes from the field

I am going to try a new feature where I can quickly note something without feeling obligated to make a nice title and commentary. It’s basically getting the clipping style from Low Earth Orbit back here as it’s not often enough to justify a distinct weblog. We shall see how it goes. I had to make some template and code changes for it. Should be fun!

Picking your enemies

Ah, worrying about one of the 11 Sep attackers using the court to sound off on jihadist theory and anti-Americanism is cowardly but opposing Fox News — that is brave!

Government figures

Perhaps I was too hasty make fun of people who believe the statistics put out by the ChiComs. Via Hot Air I found out there’s a reason those “stimulus job reports” are so very bogus — the guy in charge can’t verify or check any of the data. He can’t even check who should be reporting the data. Mix that with some obvious computer inexpertise and you have the the fiasco that is the “stimulus”. It’s what you would expect from a ruling class that lies whenever convenient and is rarely ever called on it by Old Media. What’s different now is that Old Media, at least in parts, is actually mentioning just what a travesty the Obama Administration’s claims are. But that call all be fixed with some better messaging, right?

17 November 2009


Yet another ranking member of the MAL goes off on his opponents as “un-American” even though polls indicate that would make almost two thirds of Americans … un-American. I think we know when “questioning their patriotism” went from “bad” to “par for the course”.

And the violence, of course. But remember, it’s the right wingers you have to concerned about.

We control the horizontal

New Scientist has an article about artificial horizon gauges in airplanes. The claim is that the current model is a bad design, likely to confuse pilots in stressful situations which is precisely when it’s most important to read it correctly. They suggest a very different model which is really only possible with modern displays1.

Anyway what I found interesting in the article was this —

Dewar Donnithorne-Tait, president of the Canadian Centre for Unmanned Vehicle Systems in Medicine Hat, Alberta, says it is more likely that the technology will be used by pilots flying uncrewed aircraft from a control centre on the ground. “Anything that reduces the confusion a remote pilot feels because he is not in the aircraft is a great idea. This idea would be even more useful in a UAV than in a manned plane.”

That is, we now have systems in regular use in which we can test human computer interactions in the real world with significantly less risk (at least to humans). I wonder if that may turn out to be a general rule, or whether direct physical presence will become passé first.

1 The current style can be built completely mechanically with no computing elements. The new style requires both computation and a graphical display.

"Shut up!", he explained

Once upon a time, government employees who, in their own time, opposed government policies with which they disagreed, were lauded as “whistle blowers”, brave people “speaking truth to power”.

Not any more. It’s time to watch what you say. Oh yes indeed.

Just say "no" to history

Here’s one for the “it’s too bad about the Berlin Wall” files. We can’t have people reminded about what was on the other side, can we? Otherwise people might think it was good thing for the wall to come down.

Shrouded legislating

What further abuse can one heap on a House of Representatives that would pass such an abominable piece of legislation that hasn’t already been written? It’s as if the project was “how can we fail in as many of our responsibilities as legislators at the same time” in which case they did quite well.

I think it’s an excellent illustration of the Mask of the MAL because all astute observers realize how little connection there is between the actual contents of the legislation and what will be implemented. It could just as well have been a one line bill —

We will meet in non-public committees and our staff will re-arrange national health care.

— with the same results. The bill itself just sets out some general claims, pushing the limts of just how much of the Constitution and governing traditions are to be trashed. What we will suffer will be determined by hidden factional power struggles. All of this, of course, is to disguise and shroud actual goals, purposes, and methods as long as possible, until it is too late. What’s truly scary is that this is no longer hidden. You don’t have to search much for supporters who will explicit admit this (e.g. Mickey Kaus who is normally far more reasonable). It’s one thing to have some obscure language attached to a bill so some political crony can score federal cash. It’s a very different thing to have that as the essence of the bill, a bill that is going to touch every American in a very personal way while de facto nationalizing a sixth of the national economy. I think it’s obviously being done this way because the American Street would never support it if it were clear what was being done.

16 November 2009

Revenge is sweet

Via Just One Minute, discussing President Obama’s surrender in his war on Fox News —

Re: Obama suddenly granting an interview on Fox News - I follow the media ratings pretty faithfully. CNN has sunk like a stone
Ah,I see his strategery. An endless number of interviews of him will drive Fox’s ratings into the tank.

Will FNC fall for this clever Obama trick?

Why would you ever have believed them?

Via Just One Minute I found this article about a billionaire stock investor, famous for shorting soon to go under companies, who is now shorting China in toto. What struck me was this paragraph —

[Gordon] Chang argues that inconsistencies in Chinese official statistics — like the surging numbers for car sales but flat statistics for gasoline consumption — indicate that the Chinese are simply cooking their books.

Why would anyone believe economic data from a Communist government in the first place? Shouldn’t minimally aware people simply assume the books are cooked? Even if the leadership isn’t cooking them for its own purposes, everyone down the chain will be. This lack of accurate feedback is a major failure mode for Communist governments. I just find it striking that noting this is considered some sort of revelation.

15 November 2009

Reaping the harvest

I find this leftist feminist caterwauling about the Stupak rider on the Pelosi Health Care Nationalization legislation very amusing. As many have pointed out, a government big enough to give you everything is big enough to take away anything. These people supported this legislation primarily because they thought they were being promised health care that would be paid for by someone else. Now that they’ve surrendered their virtue of having rights to health care outside of the government, they are shocked shocked to find that other factions can take it away. But never will it occur to them that centralization is the real problem.

Orrin Judd noted this a while back with this cite —

[NARAL] urges lawmakers to “vote against any plan that takes coverage for abortion away from women who already have it in their private insurance plans.”

— which is an implicit admission that the expected legislation will nationalize health care and de facto control what health care services can be purchased with insurance. The same thing here. Both sides know this, but only one side has to consistently lie about it in order to remain politically viable.

Education in Obama's home town

Via Joanna Jacbos we have this back story on how education is done in Chicago (not forgetting that our current Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, was Chicago’s Chief of Public Schools for over 7 years) —

The Providence Effect, a movie about a Chicago school that educates low-income, black students, is astonishing, writes Donald Douglas. When the Catholic Archdiocese in Chicago decided to close Providence-St. Mel, Principal Paul Adams III raised money to take over Providence-St. Mel.

Providence St. Mel is proud of its tradition of 100% college acceptance, which began in 1978 and continues today. In 2002, 42% of the graduates of 2002 were accepted to top tier/ivy league schools; today more than 50% are accepted to schools of this caliber.

In a Witness LA interview, Adams is asked whether Chicago’s public school leaders come to him for advice on how to run a successful inner-city school. “Actually, no one has come,” he replies.

WLA: What do you mean no one? Like not one person from the Chicago School District has come to visit St. Mel’s?

PA: Never. Not one.

When the French think you're arrogant, you've got a problem

As we watch President Obama continue to make a fool of this nation with his foreign adventures, I think it’s good to look back to before he was President, when even French President Nicolas Sarkozy derided Obama as an ‘empty suit’ on foreign policy.

Pounding flat the nails

Instapundit notes how the improving economy in Iraq is making it more obvious how inept the government is. I agree that it’s probably why our current government is trying to stifle our economy, so they don’t look quite as bad.

Rockets in the corn

I was gone all day yesterday at an outreach launch for the local model rocketry club. Every year we help out a class at the local University where aeronautical engineering students get to build instrumentation payloads for rockets and then launch them to 5000 feet or so. Unfortunately this year there was still a lot of corn in the field. Normally it’s all long since harvested but October was the second wettest on record and worse, it wasn’t a few big rain storms but steady so the fields rarely got dry enough to send out the harvesters.

For this reason, I spent about 2 hours total walking through dry corn stalks, being careful to not knock any of them over or ears off the stalks, while looking for lost rockets. I am happy to say that even though 3 of the 4 launches had corn issues, we managed to retrieve all of them. SWIPIAW was happy because I walked many miles in the course of the day and my lower body was a mass of aches and pains.

What I learned is that I will never refer to “needle in a haystack” anymore, but “rocket in the corn”.

13 November 2009

Cranky old man adjusts to new fangled things

I just bought myself a set of computer parts and built a new computer and loaded up Windows 7 on it. It’s been many a moon since I last built systems, as for quite a while there the price difference wasn’t that great and I was getting old and busy. But this time the parts were only about 60% of the price of a fully assembled system and I got something a bit more customized to my preferences. It’s a Pentium quad-core 2833 Mhz with 8 gigabytes of DDR2-800 memory and 1.5 terabytes of fast disk. I also bought a 1920×1200 monitor for it. I had planned on a 2560×1600 but those are still a bit pricey and very out of stock (8 weeks for delivery). I thought I would get a 1600×1200 to tide me over, but I ended up with a 1920×1200 because it was cheaper. Widescreen seems to be the thing now which may boost the overall pixel count but I code so I need the vertical room. I normally run dual monitors and set the second as 1200×1600 for just that reason.

Anyway, Windows 7 seems nice. It’s got a few quirks but overall seems fine. I didn’t use Vista all that much but I did use it enough to get annoyed and I haven’t felt that way about Windows 7 yet. The Aero interface is cute but it’s not a strain on the average graphics card anymore. I definitely like that the system tray now has a pop up link the quick launch menu for icons that aren’t currently on the task bar, and you can move them back and forth! Finally, I can decide which ones need to be permanently visible and which ones can live in the popup.

However, none of this seems to have made my website any faster. Odd.

P.S. Yes, I sprung for the glowy memory — that’s just the kind of bling I can’t resist. It’s not a cool computer unless it has blinking lights that mean absolutely nothing beyond “the power is on”.

Server Problems

This website was moved to a new server this week and there have been a few glitches here and there (I seem to really bring them out in situations like this). Anyway, one result is that while individual entries were updating, the front page (and RSS feeds) were not. That should be fixed now.

Strike degrees

I have been hearing from SWIPIAW about a looming strike of graduate students at UIUC. SWIPIAW is a bit unhappy because she has two graduate students who help here with grading and they may not be there just as finals and late semester projects come in.

I remember back in my days as a graduate student at UIUC, the GEO was just getting started. I naturally voted against it as it seemed stupid even for confused student types. As far as I could tell, it was a scam to get some resumé lines and move money from people in useful fields (like the hard sciences) to useless ones (sociology and other angry studies precursors). Nevertheless it passed. I can’t remember if I ended up being a member or not, although they certainly didn’t get any of my money.

In keeping with all of this, the GEO has apparently decided that with

  • The economy in a shambles, so the students are much more easily replaced.
  • The state is broke. It is literally just not cutting checks to schools, hospitals, NGOs, etc., including UIUC which last I heard was $347M short because of this.
  • Public support for unions is at the lowest levels measured.

Yes, quite the opportune time for a strike!

Bullwinkle Watch

The Pelosi Health Care Nationalization bill has many struggles, one major one being coming up with all the money necessary to keep the system solvent for long enough to glide under the CBO 10 year analysis. One mechanism is raising the capital gains tax. Ignoring any issues of fairness and being completely cynical, this is still a failure because, as noted by Hot Air, it’s a taxation scheme that has been tried and found to fail in the past. The federal government has explored around to find the Laffer Tipping Point and the PHCN moves it well beyond that point so that in additional to potentially stifling investment and economic growth, it will also fail to raise any additional revenue and is likely to decrease the total capital gains tax haul. But hey, it passes the CBO test, so who cares what will actually happen? Clearly the Representatives who voted for this bill don’t.

A company for our times

The latest Despair, Inc. catalog arrived here a couple of days ago, but Instapundit beat me to commenting. I certainly noticed the surprising amount of anti-government images in the catalog. Personally, this one was a preferred model.

11 November 2009

It's all about me

I am just going to quote this long Carl Pham comment because it needs to be appreciated in its entirety.

He [President Obama] would be a fool to take it [advice on governing]. In the first place, on a personal level Obama is a sybarite. He enjoys being The Man, the biggest cheese, El Supremo, the subject of every conversation, the one on whose every word everybody hangs. He likes springing aboard the cool air of Air Force One, all the nervous saluting and obsequious asskissery. It suits him just fine. Unlike, say, George Bush, for whom it was an irrelevancy, Reagan, for whom it was a part to play well, or Jimmy Carter, for whom it was like unbidden tormenting fantasies of doing his gorgeous young D-cup secretary doggie style on the South Lawn at midnight, stuff for which he needed to do severe penance.

Who cares about the judgment of history, about whether generations yet unborn will read your memoirs and fight fierce Wikipedia wars over whether you were the greatest or second greatest President evah? This is as nothing to the pleasures of the moment, e.g. squiring Michelle to a snooty burger joint in Greenwich Village that forty years ago wouldn’t even have served a black man, and watching the owner nearly prostrate himself ohmygod SUCH an honor your worshipfulness — while a platoon of burly Secret Service guys scowl around, looking for the minutest threat to one’s sacred person. Alert! Fresh dog shit at two o’clock low, Sidewalk 2. Roger copy that, Base 1; will interdict. Advise clockwise detour by Air Jordan One…

Besides, look at your historically consequential Presidents. A disturbingly high fraction left office disparaged and hated, if not in a pine box. Sure, you’re ultimately vindicated, about in time to relieve your great-grandchildren of the necessity of cleaning the swastikas and bad words off your gravestone each Sunday visit. But I just cannot see Obama really caring about that stuff. I think he consciously chose, once it became clear his little fling at Presiidential candidacy was ulp! actually going to land him in the White House, to simply enjoy the ride, and not worry a whole lot about his “legacy” a century from now. If nothing else, his primary legacy according to those who write today’s history books is already assured, what with being the first black man elected President. Really, it’s probably all downhill from there.

Secondly, and this may sound strange, but I think Obama, unlike a fair chunk of his coterie, who are so delusional they need a GPS to locate the ground, knows his limits. I think he knows quite well that he hasn’t the faintest clue how to do any of those boring, gritty, blue-collarish jobs like formulate energy policy — those mind-numbing columns of numbers — or figure out how to unwind the taxpayers from GM’s shroud, or talk those surly camel-rogering weirdos over there into cleaning up, sliding into a cool dinner jacket, engaging in statesmanlike banter, and generally chilling out instead of shooting girls in the street and being openly naughty with their uranium.

I think O understands quite well that about all he can do is give historic speeches with a beautiful timbre and cadence — really, he should have replaced Don LaFontaine when the latter died. So his best chance for not having it all come apart (although I don’t think he cares about that, vide supra) is to just stand astride some great grand realigning bunting-draped candle-lit social Ponzi scheme, the kind of behemoth that doesn’t, by virtue of its sheer enormity, prove beyond question to be a Titanic in a field of icebergs until you are safely retired and can muddy the waters arguing your idiot successors messed up on the follow-through.

Like any practised con-man, I think O is a cool customer. I think he’ll figure the angles very well, and come out personally on top. It’s his pathetic supporters who are going to be cleaning tire tracks off their backs.

It's like a blood bank for vampires

Ah, the joys of a government desperate for money, looting safety deposit boxes. Interestingly, one of our commentors remarked on this precise thing not so long ago. I recommend reading the original story for some context on how this sort of thing gets rolling.

Veterans' Day

Major David Audo was the younger brother of two of my high school friends. I honor all those who server their nation, risking themselves for all of us.

03 November 2009

It's about guilding, not helping

Don Surber lays out the economic effects of raising the minimum wage back in 2007. By August of this year, teen age unemployment had hit 25.9%, the highest in 62 years. Certainly, a big part of that is the bad economy directly, but also the worse the economy, the worse the impact of a minimum wage. But we wouldn’t want reacting to reality to get in the way of squeezing out union competitors.

A step too far

I like Sarah Palin but I think she goes off the rails a bit in her latest comment on energy policy. It starts with

As the vice president knows […]

Woah, woah! I am willing to extend some willing suspension of disbelief for political statements, but “the vice president knows” is really just beyond the pale. Nope, I just don’t, just can’t, believe that. It’s delusional, pure and simple. Who really believes that the VP actually knows anything?