Friday, July 30, 2010

Straightening Out Some of the Daily Lies

Let's get a couple of things straight, here.  Yeah, this post is going to end up with a lot of "me, me", but so what? 

While I am happily a Christian (non-denominational, so leftists would automatically say "fundamentalist nut job"), I have Jewish ancestry.  My mom was born Jewish, and although her kitchen is about as Kosher as mine is, and I know much more Torah than she does, she considers herself Jewish.  I figure that's between God and her; believe me, I've tried.  My closest family was not in Europe at the time of the Holocaust; at least, none that I've ever heard of.  The first Americans on both sides of my family came in the great wave of immigration that marked the early 20th century: my mom's side came from the Ukraine and my father's side from Italy; I'm second generation.  So imagine my surprise, sitting in my mom's house, 25 to 30 years ago, when a friend comes over and I see the tattoo on her inner forearm: the familiar string of digits of an Auschwitz camp survivor.  This was a woman I knew by name for years, a friend of one of my aunts, but had not met - I was already an adult living out on my own. 

Mrs. Graybeard and I have talked about how affected we were of the images from the Holocaust as we were growing up.  To this day, I almost reflexively weep at them.  I know it's not a simple step from a story like this to it happening again, but NOT ON MY WATCH.  I don't care if you're Mahmood frickin' Ahmadinejad or some pseudo-call-yourself-a-christian KKK asshole, I will kill you if it comes to that.  I stand by Israel. 

A friend sent me a PowerPoint slideshow about what life was like in the 1940s, done to jaunty Benny Goodman music.  One page made me stop and shudder.  I have seen this photograph before and seeing it to Benny Goodman was just wrong.  It is extremely, painfully sad; this poor man, the "last Jew in Vinnitza" - what's he thinking?  Here he sits with his coat neatly in his lap as if he's waiting for a train, or an appointment.  He can clearly see the pile of bodies before him, so he must know what's coming, but he doesn't appear to be praying, nor crying, nor fighting for the last minutes of life.  Would you do that?  Would you sit there stoically?  If you know you're going to die anyway, would you try to at least bruise your executor?  If you're going to die anyway, wouldn't you at least try?

We are in a time like predicted in 2 Timothy 3: "There are difficult times ahead. As the end approaches, people are going to be self-absorbed, money-hungry, self-promoting, stuck-up, profane, contemptuous of parents, crude, coarse, dog-eat-dog, unbending, slanderers, impulsively wild, savage, cynical, treacherous, ruthless, bloated windbags, addicted to lust, and allergic to God. They'll make a show of religion, but behind the scenes they're animals. Stay clear of these people." (translation "The Message")

This is as good a description as you'll ever find of the "Social justice" crowd and black liberation theologists who are currently trying to influence public life.  There is no place in scripture that says salvation isn't a personal commitment and a personal confession to God.  That's the whole point of it!  Saying there's such thing as group salvation, as our President has claimed, is like your psychologist saying your mother is your problem, so send her in for therapy and you'll be fine.  Never quite works that way, does it? 

Aren't we supposed to be charitable?  Of course!  But there's a vast, vast difference between me giving to my neighbor out of the kindness of my heart and the government taking by force (government is always force, remember?) to give to whomever they deem to give to.  In this case, it's literally the difference between Heaven and Hell. 

Glenn Beck has talked about this, and drawn flack from it from people who claim to be Christian.  They are wrong and Glenn's right.  I wouldn't change my opinion on that if a well-regarded Christian scholar, like the Pope, were to come out and say Glenn's wrong, but he doesn't either.  The Pope says "social justice" is demonic.  This is life or death serious.  If your church is talking group salvation or social justice, they are deceived.  Find another church.   

The social justice folks are like the people Paul wrote about in his letter to the Romans (Romans 1: 21..) "Yes, they knew God, but they wouldn't worship him as God or even give him thanks. And they began to think up foolish ideas of what God was like. The result was that their minds became dark and confused. Claiming to be wise, they became utter fools instead….Instead of believing what they knew was the truth about God, they deliberately chose to believe lies." 

The entire purpose of the first amendment to constitution, the vaunted separation of church and state, is to prevent the kind of nonsense scripture they're plugging here.  Black liberation theology is Marxist at its core.  Excuse me, but the only way a white person can achieve salvation is by giving back to the colored races what we took?  First off, it shows a deplorable, stifling ignorance of history; many, many nations and virtually every group has been enslaved at some time in the last 10,000 years.  Didn't these guys ever read the Old Testament?  Second off, there isn't a person living who has injured another or been injured by another through slavery in this country - the institution was outlawed over a hundred years ago.  As I said a few paragraphs ago, my family wasn't even in this country when the "Original Sin" of slavery was being committed, and you'll find the vast majority of the rest of country wasn't here, either. 

But even worse than that, when the Government provides all, it makes people dependent on them.  It makes us all slaves to the Government.  Black Liberation Theology and Social Justice movements seek to create slaves, not free men.  God wants free men and free will.  God wants individual choice and individual liberty.  They seek to create addicts dependent on the "Beneficent Government" for their very existence.  Is there a worse category of slave master? 

"Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy." - Winston Churchill. 

Jim Wallis, Rev. Cone (who founded black liberation theology), Jeremiah Wright, and - yes - Barack Obama, are advocating a position that has more in common with the people who ran the gas chambers and mass graves in Vinnitza than with the Pope. 


I am a warrior. I will not quit. I will not give in. I am a survivor and I WILL survive. And when the angel of death comes knocking at my door, I may be taken, by force, BUT bet your ass that sissy bitch will go home bruised, beaten, broken wings and deflowered.
MikeH over at Behind the Parapet.  Go read the whole Warrior Spirit series.  

Thursday, July 29, 2010

How's That Whole "Most Transparent Administration" Thing Working for You?

It has not been widely reported, but the FrankenDodd financial reform bill that just was signed into law has removed the Securities Exchange Commission - the SEC - from public scrutiny.  They say they are no longer are required to respond to Freedom of Information Act inquiries. 

This is a bad thing.

Remember Bernie Madoff ?  (a name that seems to come from the Ministry of Truth itself - I mean, come on ... a big swindler who made off with a bunch of money, named Madoff???)  The stories in the aftermath of the Madoff scandal said the SEC was alerted to him several times, but they were too stupid to do anythingMore hereAnd here (you've noticed these are all evil, right-wing news sources?)
Markopolos said the SEC is in need of a major overhaul. Senior managers should be replaced, lawyers should be separated from financial investigators, and the agency should hire employees who have years of Wall Street experience, he said.
The SEC has never been particularly well known for transparency.  As Denninger says,
Oh, by the way, this would mean that a Madoff or Stanford "thing" would leave the SEC immune from FOIA requests by the Press (including the "mainstream" along with media folks like myself) to discover whether they had effective and early notice that they intentionally ignored.
Isn't that convenient, given that they did exactly that with Madoff and, it can be argued, Stanford as well?
Indeed, the SEC, The Fed, and Treasury have all tried to refuse compliance with FOIA requests into the backstories of the financial meltdown.
There have been successful lawsuits against the Fed, in particular, with judges ordering them to release information, and they have steadfastly refused.  Quoting Denninger again:
FOIA requests that could (and in some cases have, when they were forced to be complied with via lawsuits) reveal double-dealing, "sweetheart" treatment, and even willful blindness that, in many people's opinion (including mine) reaches the level of intentional collusion that, in a private context, would lead to civil and/or criminal racketeering charges.
I got your transparency right here!

When you consider how much disdain this ruling class shows for you, me and the rule of law, how much longer until something breaks?

Every normal man must be tempted, at times, to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin slitting throats.  - H L Mencken

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Today's A Good Day for Wasting Time

Sitting around waiting for the antibiotics to kick in well enough so the fever and aches go away.  A good day for mindlessly surfing.

You are 0% hippie.
Ok, you conservative soul.  Do you even believe in global warming?  Loosen that necktie a little, and try some organic food.  It actually does taste better.  And go to a farmer's market--they're fun.

Are you a hippie?
Take More Quizzes

As a matter of fact, I don't "even believe in global warming" - in the mass media/over-hyped sensationalist version we get from the pols. 

What Be Your Nerd Type?
Your Result: Science/Math Nerd
(Absolute Insane Laughter as you pour toxic chemicals into a foaming tub of death!)

Well, maybe you aren't this extreme, but you're in league with the crazy scientists/mathmeticians of today. Very few people have the talent of math and science is something takes a lot of brains as well. Thank whosever God you worship, or don't worship, so thank no deity whatsoever in your case, for you people! Most of us would have died off without your help.
Literature Nerd
Gamer/Computer Nerd
Artistic Nerd
Social Nerd
Anime Nerd
Drama Nerd
What Be Your Nerd Type?
Quiz Created on GoToQuiz

Summer in Florida

When we first got an HDTV a few years ago, Mrs. Graybeard and I naturally spent most of our TV time watching HD programming.  One of the first movies we watched was "The Chronicles of Riddick".  You have to understand this is not even really good scifi.  It's a fun movie, it's a visual treat, it's a fantastic display of special effects perfect for HD, but don't pay too much attention.  To quote a review I read, "Furyans, Necromongers, Elementals, The Underverse, the so clearly wants to be epic that it forgets to tie all of these disparate worlds, universes and civilizations into a coherent story. (Director) Twohy clearly makes the mistake of not realizing that there is a huge difference between being grand and being simply confusing and the more ideas that are introduced, the more lumbering it becomes…"  

A large portion of the movie, and one of the longest action sequences, takes place on the planet Crematoria (yes, all the names in the movie are that cheesy) .  Crematoria is a planet that has a tremendous temperature variation (probably an impossible amount) with daytime temperatures of 700C and night time temperatures far below zero.  When the sunrise terminator sweeps through, the force of the heat gales that come with it are literally enough to blow you apart, disintegrating flesh and blowing pieces off until you die.  There's a scene where a character (Purifier) destroys himself by walking into the sunrise terminator and self-immolating. 

The first time I saw that scene, I said, "We've been out bike riding on that day".  Mrs. Graybeard said, "I know I've been on the Causeway that day". 

And that's what life in Florida is like in the summer; here in Central Florida, it's August plus or minus a week or two.  Stay out of the sun.  Do your outdoor stuff near sunrise or sunset.  Don't expose bare skin to the sun for longer than necessary - and even then, use sunscreen (SPF 3 million is adequate) if you need to be out for any length of time.  And thank God everyday for air conditioning.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

70 Years Ago Today

Thanks to a link on I Own The World we learn that in 1940, on this day, Bugs Bunny's cinema debut took place in the "short film" A Wild Hare.   So here's something completely different from my normal blog fodder.

I can't tell you how many wonderful memories of Looney Tunes I have - and not just as a child.

Thanks to the wonders of YouTube, another of my favorites:

Alas, they don't make 'em like this any more!   

Monday, July 26, 2010

Communists and Other Idiots

Not feeling well tonight.  Short post and going to bed really early.  Not sick because of it, but I tried reading "You Don't Need a Weatherman to Know Which Way The Wind Blows", link courtesy of Glenn Beck. 

You've heard of turgid prose - the web site for the annual "worst writing" contest?  This is more like rotten, foetid prose.  Written in the venacular of the 60's radicals, it is the worst crap I have ever tried to read.

Seriously, I can't imagine how anyone with an IQ above the freezing point of water could fall for this crap.
We are within the heartland of a worldwide monster, a country so rich from its worldwide plunder that even the crumbs doled out to the enslaved masses within its borders provide for material existence very much above the conditions of the masses of people of the world.
I take that back.  Anyone with an IQ above the freezing point of water expressed in degrees C.

This is a shining example of why people with degrees in the hard sciences tend to disregard the poli-sci majors, not even classifying them as highly as pets or farm animals.  Except for the usual bunch:  Ass Buttstain, Dr. Berwick (who, honest to God, says increased supply raises prices), John Holdren.  Moe-rons like that. 

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Thoughts on "Everyone Needs to Read This"

The other day, I posted a link to the great article by Angelo Codevilla  in the American Spectator, America's Ruling Class and the Perils of Revolution. There is a lot of buzz about this among the conservative and libertarian blogs, in particular this interesting piece on Chicago Boyz. They also wrote an introductory piece here. I believe both articles are worth the time to read, but let me pull a couple of points from the first.

Though starting out with the observation that they don't particularly agree with all of Codevilla's article, they are largely in agreement on the observable facts:
What is hard to deny though, is that Codevilla is pointing a finger at a visceral problem of a self-aware ruling class in the process of ossifying and separating itself culturally and legally away from and over the ruled – an alien thing in American history. Something the ancient Greeks as well as the Founding Fathers would recognize as an “oligarchy“, a threat to democratic self-government and constitutional liberties.
Our oligarchy is in its newborn infancy, but it is hungry for power, venal in its corruption, covetous of security, impatient of democratic accountability and intolerant of dissent. Beware of legislative moves, cloaked in high-sounding phrases, to regulate speech, circumscribe criticism of public officials, grant police powers to private corporations like BP, tax farm the many to benefit the few, and generally exclude the public from important policy decisions by making citizen participation in governmental process more complex, opaque, indirect, financially burdensome and personally risky.  (editor's note:  I believe I can see examples of everything he quotes here)
Using this as background, the question in the second article is, "so what do we do?"  Can we defeat this self-established oligarchy, or are we destined to sink into a third-world, banana republic status?  There is much evidence we are perilously close, if not already there.  Can it be done at the ballot box, or is the cartridge box the only way out?  Is it as Billy Beck says, "All politics in this country now is just dress rehearsal for civil war."?

Allow me to enter my thoughts.

First, we are very far behind the curve in this.  Busy with our jobs and lives, we've lived in condition white with regard to the politicians, electing the least offensive and asking them to do their jobs honestly.  This takeover has been going on for a long time.  In a way, it's almost pointless to ask how we got here, at least for now; we're here.  We're in the equivalent position of a kid walking to her car with her iPod playing, or on the phone, oblivious to her surroundings, then suddenly looking up and seeing a half dozen guns pointed at her.  We have a more important problem than how we got here.  Pardon the crudeness, but she knows she's getting raped, she has to work out if she survives.  I see the "Country Class" - the non-ruling class - in exactly that position.

Second, while we can't think the stupid party (R) is going to save us from the evil party (D), we probably need to shift to that party simply because the gang rape goes slower, giving us a longer time to search for a way out.  My default position, like most of you, is "vote out the incumbent", unless I know better for some reason. 

Third: the national political parties are not your friend.  Neither R, nor D.  The local scene is where the counter attack has to begin.  Back in the 2004 election cycle, I sent some money to the national party (Stupid side).  It wasn't big as contributions go, but I thought I might help the cause.  By the end of 2004, I was convinced they had spent my entire contribution asking me for more.  Seeing such bad stewards of the money, I vowed not to give to them again.  I have, though, contributed to candidates I think are worthwhile. 

Fourth:  we need to start spreading the messages about how far from the constitutional republic we have strayed, and the truth about big government.  Look at this piece of propaganda.  We have to counter it. 
Don't look at me on this: I'm obviously not capable of writing less than 1000 words on any subject and I couldn't draw a cartoon to save my life.  Advertising guys ought to be experts at saying catchy things in the fewest words possible.  This cartoon will influence people, and the message can almost fit on a bumper sticker.  We make fun of people who go around quoting bumper sticker phrases, but a good message should be something you can put on a bumper sticker. 

Finally, an observation from the Boyz:
...if you are the type of person who reads and understands Codevilla-like analysis, yet don’t ever consider running for office, then I think you might start to see the scope of the task ahead of us.  Look who you are leaving the political field to when you – and others like you – don’t even consider running, working your precinct, or encouraging other good people to do so.

It's true that we have an awful system that seems to select for the very worst people to run for office - another situation where we don't have the luxury of worrying how we got this way.  There's a story, probably apocryphal, that a person wrote an advice columnist asking how to do genealogy research on a budget.  The answer was "run for office".  I have read that under the current campaign finance laws, Reagan could have never gotten his campaign together - it took too long to raise the funds.  We are selecting for rich people willing to spend their entire net worth to be our candidates.  Somehow, I don't think the pool to select from is very big. 

The Boyz' column suggests, as many have, that we have the time to go through a few election cycles to right things.  I don't agree here.  When the laws that have passed since 2009 go into full force, by 2012, the republic is arguably gone.  We become nothing but a cow to be milked by the ruling class.  We need to get a truly obstructionist congress in place that won't let a single law get passed by the President.  Not.  Even.  One.  Even at that, with the network of czars that he has in place, the congress may be irrelevant and everything will be done by executive fiat.  After all, if they can go through the year without issuing a budget, a constitutional requirement, how relevant is congress?

John F. Kennedy once said, "Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable."  That is the course we are inexorably on if the Ruling Class continues to shut down dissent, close access to discussion, pass laws opposed by the majority of the country, or create their society by executive orders.  

Saturday, July 24, 2010

I'm Seriously Glad They're on Our Side

We all have our perspectives in life that others may not exactly agree with.  I happen to be madly in love with the A-10 Warthog.  I could write pages on this beauty.  Srsly.  If "form follows function" is a workable definition of beauty in engineering, this is one of the most beautiful planes ever made.  It is also extremely well-designed for its mission. 

But don't take my word.  Check out this excellent article on the beauty

If you're a tank driver, and you learn A-10s are coming, leave.  Or die.  Your choice.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Everyone Needs to Read This

There's an Article in The American Spectator that is seriously good reading.  "America's Ruling Class -- And the Perils of Revolution 

This was published recently, and has been recommended a few times.  It's seriously good reading, and seriously important reading.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

A Problem and a Symptom of Something Bigger

The story broke today that under the health care act (Obamacare) a tax increase was put in place that will severely impact small businesses; in this case, especially gold coin dealers.  It has gotten some attention around from Mike at Sipsey Street Irregulars (one of my everyday reads), but not as much attention as it deserves.

First, this law affects every small business transaction over $600 per year, so if you're a pizza shop and buy $750 worth of flour and tomatoes or whatever, both parties have to fill out an IRS form 1099.  This is an absurdly low amount and almost at the level of requiring a 1099 for every small business transaction.  If you buy a central air conditioner for your house, the contractor and the supplier he buys from will both have to fill them out. 
Section 9006 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will amend the Internal Revenue Code to expand the scope of Form 1099. Currently, 1099 forms are used to track and report the miscellaneous income associated with services rendered by independent contractors or self-employed individuals.
Gold coin dealers are concerned because, with gold prices at around $1175, a sale of a single coin to a single person gets a 1099 form.  In the case of a dealer selling to an individual, the way I read this, only the seller fills out the form.
Starting Jan. 1, 2012, Form 1099s will become a means of reporting to the Internal Revenue Service the purchases of all goods and services by small businesses and self-employed people that exceed $600 during a calendar year. Precious metals such as coins and bullion fall into this category and coin dealers have been among those most rankled by the change. 

One dealer says,
(he) estimates that he'll be filling out between 10,000 and 20,000 tax forms per year after the new law takes effect.
It's important to recognize this isn't a tax on gold coin transactions.  It is a tax on every small business transaction there is.  I'm a fan of the axiom "that which can't continue won't continue".  Prices for everything sold in the country can be affected - so they will be.  If it suddenly costs a company an extra $100 for Mrs. Ferdburger's air conditioner, that cost - by definition - gets passed on to Mrs. Ferdburger.  In the gold coin realm, you can now buy a single American gold eagle for around $75 over spot.  That will go up to reflect the higher costs for the sellers. 

That ought to wipe out any semblance of an economic recovery.  Every item that costs over $600 per year to sell will go up in price.  That pretty much covers everything north of Wrigley's gum in price, for even a corner store. 

It seems easy to predict that supplies of some items will go away, or they'll become hard to find. It won't necessarily be precious metals.   There is an opportunity for some software company that can automate this process and help keep form 1099-related costs down to make a lot of money. 

That's the problem.  The symptom is that this tax attack was not in a tax bill, it was in Section 9006 of the Health Care Bill.  How many more turds are buried in there?  What about the similarly sized financial bill that just passed?  How many turds in there?  There are predictions of hundreds of rules that have to be created to implement just the finance bill.  What about the stimulus plan?  Did you hear the Stimulus plan, one of the first thing the regime passed, includes a government plan to monitor your body mass index?   What does that have to do with economic stimulus?  When you pass 2000 page laws that are more like cat litterboxes than legislation, don't be surprised if you find turds in them. 

This is one reason to side with those who say we can't vote our way out of this mess.  You can't sue to stop Obamacare; you need to tear up all 2200 pages, close down all of the bureaucracies that opened, and send all those new government employee droids home.  Ain't gonna happen by electing the elephants.  

It's like going to the doctor for some annoying problem and discovering it's a symptom of cancer.  This administration is more hostile to American life than anything I can compare to.  They're a cancer to the US. 

The soon-to-be much more expensive American Eagle

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

About That Whole Global Economic Collapse Thingy - Part III

(See part II - especially the first paragraph)

I don't believe I've ever posted a link to a commentary from, but this one, by Clive Maund, is worth reading.
I relate this story to you because most market commentators right now are ..... - “Don’t worry, everything is going to be alright, earnings have recovered and companies are paying dividends - the stock market has recouped most of its 2008 losses so everything’s back to normal - that drop in 2008 was just an aberration and now everything’s back to normal and its business as usual.” According to our interpretation of the charts if you fall for this spin you are going to get seriously fleeced in short order, and this could also apply to those who listen to the siren calls of those exhorting the virtues of Precious Metals stocks at this time. So let’s make this as clear as possible - if there is another market crash soon as expected, investors are going to do what they always do, which is go into blind panic and toss almost everything overboard, and that can be expected to include gold, silver and PM stocks. Yes, we fully understand that the fiat money system is rapidly approaching its nemesis and that gold is the ultimate safe haven and is set to soar as currencies become worthless, but that won’t help it much short-term during the crash phase, which is likely to result in a heavy reaction in gold back probably to its long-term uptrend support line. Silver will be treated as a base metal and will plunge precipitously as in 2008, which it is now perfectly set up to do. PM stocks will tank and many PM stock investors will be devastated as their cheerleaders slink into the shadows. All of this looks very, very close.
If you look at the charts he shows, which are the S&P500, the XAU (a market index of primarily precious metal mining stocks), and the Baltic Dry Index, you see a consistent pattern.  They are all pointing to a serious downturn coming.  Timing is hard to extrapolate, but it looks like this coming fall; October to December at the latest.  (Oh, great.  I'm supposed to travel to give a conference paper right in the middle of that.  Anybody else read Patriots?)  Extrapolating off the end of a curve is always risky, but that's why people do this technical analysis stuff.  

The Baltic Dry Index is particularly interesting because it is an index of the cost of shipping dry cargo.  It's already down 50% from its May peak.  That means that the amount of bidding for cargo shipments is way down, which implies a lean Christmas coming.  At this point, mid-summer, if cargo hasn't been scheduled for shipment in the next couple of months, it ain't coming.  In a way, it's another measure of the size of the Ghost Fleet of the Recession (old article).  Maund says,
What this means is that the second major downwave has already begun, it’s just that the stock market doesn’t yet realize it...

That pushes the old pucker factor up by about 50%.  Are you prepared?   

Monday, July 19, 2010

This Sounds Ominous....

"I felt a great disturbance in the Force... as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced. " - Obi Wan Kenobi, Star Wars Episode IV, 1976., a little-known WordPress platform used by more than 70,000 blogs, was shut down by its Web hosting company more than a week ago and nobody seems willing to say why or who is responsible.
In addtion to that:

Blogetery, ... went dark on July 9, less than a week before, a service that helped users create Web message boards, went offline. No one has said these situations are linked, but they nonetheless possess intriguing similarities.

• Each of the services host loads of user-generated content.
• Operators at both Blogetery and Ipbfree said they were shut down and aren't coming back.
• Both said they obeyed copyright law.
• In each case, those with knowledge of who ordered the closures or the reasons why said they are legally required not to disclose that information.
Source  and source -

The site was shut down after FBI agents informed executives of, Blogetery's Web host, late on July 9 that links to al-Qaeda materials were found on Blogetery's servers, Joe Marr, chief technology officer for, told CNET. Sources close to the investigation say that included in those materials were the names of American citizens targeted for assassination by al-Qaeda. Messages from Osama bin Laden and other leaders of the terrorist organization, as well as bomb-making tips, were also allegedly found on the server.
We have no particular reason to believe this story; it's entirely possible it's a story that someone felt would cause the least amount of hassle.  Like kiddie porn, eliminating this sort of material is likely to be accepted by the population at large.  We will have to wait to learn what really happened here.

About a month ago, I wrote about this topic in So The Gov Has Shut Down Internet. Now-What?  Is this the first round of such shut downs (not the big kill switch)?  It is hard to know, but it is still worth starting to prepare.  In the mean time, go get the old DOS version of PGP, ver 2.62 or so.  Go here.  Do not go to the new Windoze based PGP versions at  Use your favorite search engine to round up some information on how to use it, like this

You put your checks to pay bills in an envelope, right?  That's what PGP is.  Only it's a very secure envelope.  

Sunday, July 18, 2010

I Write Like Who??

One of my top-of-the-pile reads is Borepatch, who writes some erudite stuff.  Today, he posted this story: about a site called "I Write Like", which appears to analyze some aspect of your writing to tell you, well, who you write like.

So naturally I had to try it. 

Now Mrs. Graybeard has read, and liked, some Vonnegut.  I have read and not thought a whole lot of some Stephen King.  But neither of us really knows who Cory Doctorow is.

Borepatch thinks the software is analyzing content, not style.  I did four different posts; the previous one on a day at the range, one on the atomic bomb of rhetoric, financial reform has the votes, and meet your executioner.  I think. 

Speaking of the post on the atomic bomb of rhetoric, I passed a milestone with that.  I got my first SPAM.  Autogenerated, I assume.  It found my use of the name  "candidate Halit0sis" (no sense doing that again) and posted one of those sincere "I had this problem until a friend told me about gargling with velociraptor urine" or whatever.  This blog has been here since around the end of February and this is my first SPAM.  Well, except for the one from the Wolf 359 system saying it would increase my tentacle size. 

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Arsenal of Freedom

Alvie D. Zane, over at the Cliffs of Insanity posted about a wonderful score he just made.  Worth a look.  I gotta get me one of those, too, one of these days. 

Things are not static here, either.  Last weekend at our local gun show, I was able to score a good used Remington 700 with a nice Leupold scope.  I don't have anything that shoots the .30-06 that my new Remmy and his Garand shoot, so no ammo on hand, but that was easy to fix at the show, as well. 
Despite the summer heat, this demanded a trip to our gun club's 200 yard range to sight this baby in.  Here you can just about count out the box of 20 rounds as I adjusted the Leupold for this 100 yard target.  The stuff to the right of the Caldwell target are the first shots, and later shots move in toward the center.  Those are mostly shot two at a time. Stopped adjusting with those two just over the 10 ring.  That one at the 6:30 position was a flier on the final settings, but I knew it was "my bad" as the shot went off.  

Plain ole Federal Power Shok, soft point 150 grain .30-06.  Not match-grade ammo. I'm happy with the new toy.

The next learning experience was to try my DPMS LR-308B at 200 yards.  I first tried shooting some MagTech .308 Win that I bought when I first got the gun, to see if it was as bad as the first time I tried shooting it at 50 yards.  First off, almost every round failed to eject.  Second, after 10 rounds, I couldn't find a hole in the target at 200 yards.  (A semi-automatic, AR-10/M1A-clone does not make nice when you try to run it bolt action).  I got annoyed and stopped shooting the MagTech, switching over to some Remington UMC from Walmart.  See that shot just "southwest" of the bulls-eye?  That was my first shot with the UMC after shooting over 10 rounds of MagTech and not even hitting the whole 12" target. 

After these 11 shots, the lovely and deadly Mrs. Graybeard did a few shots at 100 yards to get a feel for it, putting a nice group just below center of the target.  We didn't even finish off the box of 20 UMC .308, mostly because another shooter wanted the range to go cold so they could go change a target.   

I will note that today is only the second time in our lives we've shot from 100 and 200 yards.

My lessons learned today are the obvious ones - since semi-automatics can be fussy about ammunition, don't buy a lot of any brand until you know you can cycle it in your gun.  Anybody want to buy some MagTech .308?  There were some guys there who shoot 200, 300 and 600 yards regularly, and they were mostly shooting lighter stuff, like .243 and .223.  I understand.  I have a strawberry on my shoulder.  Time for an anti-recoil pad or shooting shirt (if I can bear the heat).

Summer is my least favorite time of year around here.  It was 92 by the time we left the range at 11 AM, with humidity nearly 90%.  But that's a whole 'nother post right there!  

Friday, July 16, 2010

The Atomic Bomb of Argument

In the world of the Internet, a law of argument has been recognized, called Godwin's law of Nazi Analogies, which says that any argument long enough leads to an invocation of Hitler or Nazis.  As usually stated, "As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1."  The idea is that the accusation of being a Nazi is so outrageous, and Nazis are so socially unacceptable, that when charged with being one, the accused will drop whatever they are arguing to counter that they are not a Nazi.

This idea, while not specifically the Nazi allegation, is widely used in domestic politics and is the part of the reason behind negative attack ads.  If candidate Phlegm says that candidate Halitosis has done some negative thing, Halitosis generally has to issue an ad showing how he hasn't done it.  For Phlegm, it's a win-win scenario.  He gets Halitosis to spend money and time on the made-up charge, and it gets the opponent "off-message".  Halitosis is not talking about what he really wants to talk about, but is instead talking about what Phlegm wants him to talk about.  As for the dumb voters, who don't really pay attention anyway, they become vaguely aware that Phlegm and Halitosis are both talking about this negative thing and learn the association that Halitosis is the bad guy ("where there's smoke, there's fire!"). 

If the Nazi charge is the WMD of online argument, the charge of Racism is the atomic bomb of daily discourse.  So when the NAACP raised the charge of racism against the Tea Party, this was the purpose.  It made people trying to reduce the insane government spending get off their message and address the fact that they aren't racist.  It made some people waste time and money to respond to it.  It made headlines that stupid voters will notice without reading any details to, and may influence them.  It's a blatantly transparent political move in what has become simply a "wholly-owned subsidiary" of the Democratic Party.

This may shock some people, but I don't really believe there is such a thing as race.  I believe there are nationalities, and people from different areas of the world look different, but those differences are superficial and go away as cultures blend.  As I was doing my little research to help gel my thoughts for this article, I was surprised to see PBS (of all places) basically doing a program that sums up where I am, to about the 75% level - Race - the Power of an Illusion.  I'll add a few notes in this edited summary from that web site, and I remove things that I think are just PBS being the liberal spin machine they are. 

1. Race is a modern idea....The English language didn't even have the word 'race' until it turns up in 1508 in a poem by William Dunbar referring to a line of kings.
2. Race has no genetic basis. Not one characteristic, trait or even gene distinguishes all the members of one so-called race from all the members of another so-called race.
3. Human subspecies don't exist. ....Despite surface appearances, we are one of the most similar of all species.
4. Skin color really is only skin deep.  Most traits are inherited independently from one another. The genes influencing skin color have nothing to do with the genes influencing hair form, eye shape, blood type, musical talent, athletic ability or forms of intelligence. Knowing someone's skin color doesn't necessarily tell you anything else about him or her.
5. Most variation is within, not between, "races." Of the small amount of total human variation, 85% exists within any local population, be they Italians, Kurds, Koreans or Cherokees. About 94% can be found within any continent. That means two random Koreans may be as genetically different as a Korean and an Italian.
6. Slavery predates race. Throughout much of human history, societies have enslaved others, often as a result of conquest or war, even debt, but not because of physical characteristics or a belief in natural inferiority. Due to a unique set of historical circumstances, ours was the first slave system where all the slaves shared similar physical characteristics.
7. Race and freedom evolved together. The U.S. was founded on the radical new principle that "All men are created equal." But our early economy was based largely on slavery. How could this anomaly be rationalized? The new idea of race helped explain why some people could be denied the rights and freedoms that others took for granted.(Graybeard: but you do know that the whole 3/5 of a person thing was intended to end slavery, right?  To put pressure on the deep south to free their slaves, and get more representatives right?)
8. Race justified social inequalities as natural. As the race idea evolved, white superiority became "common sense" in America. (Graybeard: not anymore, and not for my life)
9. Race isn't biological, but racism is still real.  Race is a powerful social idea that gives people different access to opportunities and resources. (liberal bullsh*t diatribe deleted)  
item 10 deleted.  I think it's complete bullsh*t, and is there simply because PBS can't shake their liberal mentality.

Rather than the item 10 PBS used, I would much prefer to envision the world Martin Luther King did, in his famous, "I Have a Dream" speech.  I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. - Martin Luther King, August 28, 1963 

Are there really racists?  Undoubtedly - as I've said before, if 5% of the people don't believe we went to the moon, some small percentage are going to believe anything.  Are there any in the Tea party?  If the Tea party is a random sample of the population, there would be some, sure.  I would bet there's at least as many racists in the NAACP itself. 

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Job Creation - Real vs. Imaginary

I don't know if you're familiar with the name Andy Grove, but he is one of the co-founders of Intel.  Intel is one of the most successful companies in the electronic age.

As a guy who has helped create thousands of jobs, he has some interesting things to say about the state of manufacturing, job creation, outsourcing/offshoring and other interesting things.

Go read.  It's worth it.  Some nice commentary on it from Electronic Design (industry insider magazine), too. 

Honestly, I can't say I agree with or like everything he has to say, but when a guy like Andy talks like this, it's worth our time to read it.  

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Financial "Reform" Bill Has the Votes

It apparently took more than the usual amount of pictures from the office party and horse's heads left in select beds - er... negotiation - to get the 60 votes needed to clear the senate for the financial reform bill
Reform?  Not really.
Those fine folks over that Economic Collapse blog fisk it pretty thoroughly, and it's worth a read. 
But U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is making this sound like this is some kind of history-changing legislation....
"We’re cleaning up Wall Street."
Oh really?
Charles Geisst, professor of finance at Manhattan College recently had the following to say about this absolutely toothless bill....
Like health-care reform, this bill is being drawn up to grab headlines but its details betray it as nothing more than a slap on the wrist for Wall Street. It is true that Wall Street can commit grand theft and apparently get off with nothing more than community service.
Does anyone really expect the same people who wrote the laws that screwed up everything in the first place to do better now?  When they are concurrently running investigations into what happened?  Out here in fly-over country, we don't try to fix something until we know what broke.  Just sayin...
The financial reform bill creates a new Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection at the Federal Reserve that is supposed to help prevent abusive lending by mortgage and credit card companies.  (Wait a second - this bill gives the Federal Reserve more power?  Who came up with that grand idea?  Yeah, let's give the fox more power to guard the hen house.  The truth is that the Federal Reserve is one of the core problems with our economic system)
Oh, great.  The Federal Reserve's whole reason for existence is supposed to be to prevent bubbles.  Instead they have caused every bubble, every recession and depression since 1913. 

The financial reform bill does nothing about the horrific bubble in the derivatives market.  Originally it was believed that some tough regulations were going to be imposed on derivatives trading, but the Wall Street lobbyists were all over those provisions like rabid dogs.
So now there is loophole after loophole in the bill and the "derivatives problem" still ominously hangs over Wall Street.  Not that there is any way to fix it.
Nobody actually knows the true total value of all the derivatives in the world, but estimates place it at somewhere between 600 trillion dollars and 1.5 quadrillion dollars.
When the derivatives bubble pops, and it will, there won't be enough money in the entire world to fix it.
One professor quipped "the banks have won". 

Also, the way I figure it, with health care at about 20% of the economy, the automobile sector, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac holding virtually all of the mortgages in the country, the takeover of AIG (big insurance) and now the financial sector, I do believe this puts the government in direct or indirect control of over 60% of the economy. 

Congratulations, you now live in a socialist country. All hail the collective.  I, for one, welcome our insect overlords. 

Wait.  Wrong movie. 

Finally, let me leave you with a fun fact, from this excellent column, The 50 Ugliest Things About the US eCONomy. Did you read that the US debt went over the $1 Trillion dollar line earlier this month? 
#47) In fact, if you spent one million dollars every single day since the birth of Christ, you still would not have spent one trillion dollars by now.
In an early college class in Physics, in the early days of calculators in class (really...) we calculated the number of seconds in a year.  It's a handy number to know, and is within 1% of pi *10,000,000.  Call it 31,540,000 seconds in a year.  That means if you sat at a window throwing out a dollar bill every second of every day, 24/7/365, you would only throw out $31.54 million dollars.  At that rate, it would take you over 31,700 years to throw out a Trillion dollars. 

Monday, July 12, 2010

Don't Be Talking No "Double Dip Recession"

For it to be a double dip, there has to be a real recovery starting and there is no such thing.  The GDP has not recovered, so there can't be a double dip.  Denninger at Market Ticker addressed some of this last Friday, July 2.  He makes the case that the only way we can get out of this mess is to cut the Federal Government by 60%(!).  In the administration of someone who wants to grow the government enormously, that is not going to happen.  Can you imagine 2 out of every 3 government employees going home?  Can you imagine Dr. Berwick, who obviously doesn't understand economics 101, successfully improving the health care sector.  Can you imagine the financial industry takeover that's going down right now making anything better?

In addition to this, a massive problem is looming.  The so-called "Bush tax cuts for the rich" which really helped the lowest incomes the most*, are expiring at the end of the year.  Economist Art Laffer predicts a further collapse of the economy as those tax penalties start hitting.  People only have so much money.  Money they send the government cannot go to the business sector, thereby slowing the growth of jobs. It can't be any other way. 

You may have been led to believe that only individuals in the top two brackets will face higher federal income taxes when the Bush cuts go bye-bye. Not true! Unless Congress takes action and President Obama goes along, rates will go up for everyone -- not just a sliver of the wealthiest Americans. The current six rate brackets of 10%, 15%, 25%, 28%, 33% and 35% will be replaced by five new brackets with the higher rates of 15%, 28%, 31%, 36% and 39.6%. Just a few months ago, it seemed like a safe bet that Congress would make a fix to keep the existing 10%, 15%, 25% and 28% rate brackets to help out lower and middle-income folks. That bet is now looking iffy.
*Note that the lowest bracket tax rate goes from 10% to 15%, or a 50% increase in their taxes.  The highest bracket goes from 35 to 36.9%, or 5.4%.  The lowest income people will be hit the hardest.  In this analysis from the Tax Foundation, you can see how the share of tax liability went up for the top quintile, and down for the others under the Bush cuts. 

Sunday, July 11, 2010

The Really Beautiful Sport

Around Castle Graybeard we are watching the Tour de France as we do every year that Versus (and before, OLN) have been carrying it.  For the last month or so, as the World Cup hype machine has gone into overdrive, I've heard a lot of references to soccer as "the Beautiful Sport".  IMAO, that's just not right.  The Tour de France, and grand cycling tours in general, are the real beautiful sport.  And - is it just me? - but I'm not half as annoyed by the sound of those "Vuvuzelas" as I am at hearing and seeing the word "Vuvuzela" everywhere.  Mrs. Graybeard and I are fans of Lance Armstrong, but would be shocked silly to see him win.  He is an incredible athlete, but is over the peak of the sport.  He may be more fit than any other 38 year old out there - but he's 38.  Chances are, last year's winner, Alberto Contador, will repeat. 

What is le Tour de France?  (Same applies to the Tour of Italy, Switzerland, Spain, and other grand tours)  How is the winner determined?  Simply, the guy who rides the route around France in the lowest total time wins.  The tour typically last 3 full weeks, 21 days, around 2300 miles or so.  There's two days off, so while the average is over 100 miles in a day, there are short days that might measure 10 to 30 miles.  Grand Tours are a mixture of individual sport and team sport.  Because of the potential (and reality) of enormous crashes, times are usually given to groups where bikes overlap length, so if you finish last in the group, you get the same time as the first, and if you crash in the last 3 km of a stage, you get the same time as the last in the group.  This allows for a bad, bike-breaking crash to not cost you the minute to get a replacement bike and get to the finish line.  There is a great deal of strategy and tactics, making it an event that combines aspects of intellectual strategy with athletics; chess, poker and racing.
Field sprints feature this sort of carnage a large percent of the time.

One of the aspects that always impresses me is how the route is lined with spectators, sometimes in random spots along these 100 mile routes.  They get a few seconds of riders going by, then go home.  In the major stages, crowds grow to over a hundred thousand fans.  They may camp out for days to watch the riders go by, and wait days to get off the mountain.  It's as if it's a Super Bowl every day for 3 weeks, and the game comes to you, instead of you going to the game. 
Typical crowds spread along the sides of a mountain stage

On a typical day, there is a breakaway of a handful of riders away from the main group of riders (the peloton), mostly to get their sponsors names on TV, but to take that once or twice every tour chance of winning the day.   It may surprise non-cyclists that a stage that's 120 miles long over flat terrain is considered too easy for the big names to try and get ahead; they wait for much harder stages.  Perhaps the most interesting part of bicycle racing, and what sets it apart from other sports, is that competitors must cooperate.  Because the physics of riding a bicycle at the speeds they ride is so brutal, you must take turns riding in front, breaking the wind, so that you can keep the required speed up.  Riders shelter each other from the wind, saving 20% of their energy and more in big groups, allowing their bodies to recover.  If the breakaway is to succeed, the members of different teams must cooperate.  But, the guy who is in second place, or farther back, has an advantage as the race approaches the finish line.  I have seen the leader literally stop in place to get the second guy to go around him and stop trying to stay behind him.  One of the most intense events to witness is a bunch sprint, where all of the teams put their fastest sprinters up front, protecting them from the open wind until the last few hundred meters.  Then the sprint specialists take off, achieving speeds of over 40 mph. 

The pattern of the multi-Tour winners, especially Lance, and Miguel Indurain, has been to stay in the group (peloton) most of the time, saving energy for the individual time trials and mountain stages.  The Tour categorizes mountains as 4 (easiest) to 1 (hardest) and then throws in some climbs that are so difficult they are "beyond categorization" or HC.  The most famous climbs in the Tour are these HC mountains, almost always with a mountain top finish.  Names like Alpe d'Huez, Mont Ventoux, and Col du Tourmalet are the places where tour legends have been made.  As a Lance Armstrong fan, I will always remember his performance on Sestriere in the first tour he won, as well as the Alpe d'Huez time trial. 

The Alpe D'Huez time trial: Lance in the alley of noise.

So find the VS channel on your cable or satellite system and check it out.  I'm recording the 2 hour version every afternoon and watching in the evening.  Tomorrow, Monday, July 12, is the first rest day.  The coverage will be a summary of the first days of this years race.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Shifting Gears - A Little More Fun Stuff

When I started this blog, I envisioned talking about things I consider fun.  I have a ton of interests and hobbies, from bicycling to shooting; from saltwater fishing to photography; from woodworking to metalworking, along with hiking, radio and others.  Looking back on my first few months, I see way more politics and nowhere near as much fun as I envisioned. 

If you asked me to describe myself, the last word I would use would be "serious".  Of course I want to be good at my job, but I would much rather people not remember me so much as a good engineer but as the funniest guy they ever worked with.  I once told people working with me to expect me to be serious 10% of the time. 

So I'm going to take some of the zeitgeist floating around over at WSRA today - about trying to get a better balance of awareness of what's coming while not being overwhelmed by it as much as possible.  As John Lennon is quoted as saying, "life is what happens while you're busy making other plans".  No matter what else comes in the next 10 years, we have lives to lead.  We will go to work as long as we can, provide for ourselves and families as best as we can, and have as much fun as we possibly can. 

If you've read this blog much this won't be a shock: I think really bad times are coming.  I can't predict that there will be open civil war in the US, but I can't express how surprised I'd be if I looked up one day in 2020 and everything was peachy and all the major problems we face today have been solved.  As others have said, I really don't think a new set of elections will fix the structural problems we face; problems like the deficit and the 100+ trillion dollar unfunded liabilities have been brewing for a century.  The realization that the money is gone is going to cause social unrest like we have never seen.  I understand Goldman or one of those big banks has started arming their employees and getting them CC permits.  When you think of things like the SEIU protests outside the banker's home, and where that could have gone, you have to respect them for that. 

So at least for a while, I'm going to beat on that drum less, and talk about fun a bit more.  So let's talk about home defense guns.

Gun nuts are just as big a group of debaters and arguers as any other specialized hobby.  There is never a shortage of things to talk about, from cartridge stopping power to the "best" handgun for everyday carry to tactics to, well, you name it. 

One of the recurring topics is what type of weapon to use for home defense.  There are just as many opinions as authors, so here's a few ideas that I've distilled and adopted in my world.

First off, it is hard to beat a shotgun as man-stopper with anything you can wear in a holster.  I have heard of people being shot over 30 times with 9mm handguns before they stopped being a threat but I can't say I've ever heard of someone being hit by shotgun more than twice.  Consider this: at self defense distances (almost always under 10 yards) a 9mm jacketed hollow point has an impact energy of around 330 ft-lbs.  A 12 ga buckshot load hits with around 1890 ft-lbs.  It's hard to compare those two.  (All ballistics data from the Federal Premium ballistics calculator, download here).  Even the vaunted 45 ACP won't go over 420 ft-lbs (230 grain JHPs).
Springfield Armory XD Subcompact 9mm

There are, of course, shotgun snobs who say only a 12 ga with 00 ("double-ought") buckshot will do.  A 20 ga shooting #3 buckshot hits with 1435 ft-lbs of energy.  Over three times the energy of your potent 45 ACP.  As famous gun writer Massad Ayoob says, the only difference to the home invader hit by a 20 ga or 12 ga is how much work the coroner has to do to find all the pellets.  The important thing in favor of a 20 ga is that a smaller man or small woman or adolescent in the home might find a 20 ga shotgun fits better and is easier to handle. 
Mossberg Tactical 20 gage

A shotgun is harder to move around in cramped spaces inside your house than a handgun is, but that can be practiced (with the gun unloaded!!) to get used to it.  Some real training, or watching of TV training with lots of copying, helps no matter what you use. 

There's two more reasons to give the nod to the shotgun, especially for a friend or relative that has no other plans for self-defense.  First; a shotgun is legally treated differently than a handgun; in most places (every one I know of) you don't need a cooling off period to buy one, or a permit of any kind to own it.  You walk into your local Bass Pro, Cabela's, Gander, etc., etc., plunk down your money and walk out with it.  Yeah, you have to fill out the instant crime check form, but that's usually about it.  Second, your shotgun is likely to cost less than a good handgun.  Maybe much less.  A pump action shotgun like a Mossberg 500 series or Remington 870 series, will typically be around $300 or so; less if used.  I have seen perfectly good used Mossberg 500s for $200 and less.  A good handgun, will probably be $450-ish new, and used handguns hold their value quite well.   

Now a shotgun typically holds 5 shells, while a full-sized 9mm will hold as many as 19 rounds.  That is probably going to be a disadvantage, so spending some time at a range learning to do tactical speed reloads is a really good idea.  You don't need expensive buck shot (around .75 to $1 per shell) to do this.  Get a box of cheap Walmart bird shot for this.  

Let me address another couple of points.  Remember that while you may be legally justified in shooting someone in your house, "a lawyer goes down range with every round" and you want to be aware than any type of round capable of stopping an attacker will penetrate most any wall.  One of the rules of gun safety is to always know where you are shooting and what's behind the target, and there are no exceptions when you need to defend yourself.  While a fired round will lose energy going through walls, becoming less and less dangerous, you especially don't want to shoot through windows into a neighbor's house.  All that said, in tests I have seen, buckshot actually penetrated less than a 9mm round. 

You may hear that "you don't need to aim your shotgun - just point and shoot".  Not true.  With no choke, smooth barrel shotguns (like most 12 ga self defense guns) you will get about one to two inches of shot spread for every 10 feet of range.  Your attacker would have to be quite far away to not have to worry about aiming to hit them.

Although this is a very introductory level article, here are some conclusions.

A shotgun is a little unwieldy, but the impact from a load of buckshot will hit an attacker many times harder than a handgun shot would.  The small number of shells a shotgun will hold puts a premium on your being able to run the gun (tactical reloads), but a pump action shotgun is very reliable. 

A semi-auto handgun is easier to keep running due to the number of rounds it carries and it's easier to maneuver around inside a house.  You need to practice with a handgun, too, especially overcoming jams and other problems a semiautomatic weapon can throw at you.

If you're only going to own one gun, a shotgun is probably more useful.  You can hunt with it, usually just by changing barrels (generally less than $100 new). 

Have a plan for what your family does in a crisis.  If you have a split plan house with kids on one side and adults on the other, be sure the kids know to get low and stay low until you tell them all's clear. 

This only touches on the subject, but it's a good start for now.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Meet Your Executioner

Meet Dr. Donald Berwick, recently given a recess appointment to be the Medicare/Medicaid czar.  Dr. Berwick is now in charge of a program with obligations of 95 trillion dollars (debt clock) - far, far higher than the GDP of every nation in the world.  As far as I can tell, he has zero experience with finances.  Of course, this administration has set a record for the lowest number of people from the private sector - that is, people who know what they're doing.

If you are an American citizen, your life or death in the medical system is in his hands.  If you're over 45, you are most at risk for having your life terminated by this "gentleman".

Dr. Kevorkian, er, Berwick was appointed by recess appointment yesterday (July 7).  As is always the case with this administration that never accepts any responsibility for anything, they said they used recess appointment because the other side would hold the appointment up.  Actually, what the other side wanted to do was make Dr. Berwick's views more widely known.  While I don't particularly like recess appointments in general, this one stinks more than most because the appointee stinks more than most.  

Excellent background pieces  here and here

You see, Dr. Berwick is a big fan of the British National Health System.  That's novel because most of the British people are not fans of the NHS, and you have to go a long way (apparently, all the way to Harvard) to find someone who is in favor of it.  In a speech marking the 60th birthday of the NHS, he praised the it for deliberately creating scarcity: "You [the NHS] plan the supply; you aim a bit low; historically, you prefer slightly too little of a technology or service to much too much and then you search for care bottlenecks and try to relieve them."  In a time when the largest wave of retirees in US history hits the Medicare system, the has cut the budget for the system by half a trillion dollars ($525 Billion).  The only conclusion is that life will be worse for us than for those who were in the system before us.  This is in complete agreement with the trend of this administration, which (as far as I can tell) is completely dedicated to making all of our lives more miserable. 

For example, in an op ed in the NY Post in 1992, he waxed eloquent over his love for the NHS, including this gem, "At last, a nation where healthcare is a right and carrying a semi-automatic machine gun is a privilege."  Showing he knows just as little about weapons as he does economics. 

What's wrong with the NHS?  Pretty much everything.  Yes, you are guaranteed a certain level of care, but your odds of surviving anything: from routine hospitalization to cancer, are much worse than in the US.  How about 1200 patients killed in a UK hospital abused by staff, lying in filth:  How about a much better chance of surviving cancer in the US System, "Researchers found that USA has the best score with 5 years of survival rate for breast cancer at 83.9% and prostate cancer at 91.9%. …UK reported 69.7% survival rate for breast cancer, …, and 51.1% for prostate cancer."  In other words, in the US, your survival chances for the most common cancers (breast and prostate) are 120% (breast) and 180% of the UK chances.  Mrs. Graybeard is a breast cancer survivor and we know many others, as well.  From here.  Do you think it's just from screening?  Not really, "In the United States, 85 percent of women aged 25 to 64 years have regular PAP smears, compared with 58 percent in Great Britain.  The same is true for mammograms; in the United States, 84 percent of women aged 50 to 64 years get them regularly - a higher percentage than in Australia, Canada or New Zealand, and far higher than the 63 percent of British women."   source data

Photo taken in a UK hospital

But if the NHS system is designed to create shortages of care, how could it be otherwise?  What central planners always, always fail to realize is how good the market is at creating positive outcomes.  Berwick and other central planners think our system is too centered on the patient and should be more about social justice.  They think our system generates an over supply of medical care, raising costs.  Dr. Berwick, my wife and I went through the period when the mammogram shows something that needs to be removed and it needs to be removed now.  You can't get that surgery too fast.  How about you do us all a favor; why don't you head for Cuba or Venezuela or North Korea where your ideas will fit in much better? 

The quote most often associated with Dr. Berwick has to do with the concept of rationing healthcare. In an interview published in "Biotechnology Healthcare," Dr. Berwick said, "The decision is not whether or not we will ration care - the decision is whether we will ration with our eyes open."  Remember back during the Obamacare debates, when Sarah Palin used the term "death panels" to describe the decisions that would be made to terminate some patients in order to save resources for others?  That is exactly what Dr. Berwick refers to here. 

I personally find his quotes praising socialism - the redistribution of wealth - at least as alarming.  "Any healthcare funding plan that is just, equitable, civilized and humane must, must redistribute wealth from the richer among us to the poorer and the less fortunate. Excellent healthcare is by definition redistributional," said Berwick. (see at 1:40 below)  Is health insurance redistribution?  I voluntarily pay into a system that will pay benefits to any member based on the money it collects from the members of the plan.  I fail to see that being socialist.  So if insurance isn't "just, equitable, civilized, and humane" what exactly is he advocating?  Taxing you to pay for other people.  Government, as Washington said, is force.  Try not paying your taxes, and if you're not a member of the administration (e.g., Timothy Geithner), how much do you want to bet that you eventually don't get a gun pointed at you?  No, this is not humane, it is theft. 

Our administration appears to be fans of the "whole lives system".  In this system, it's acceptable to let a 70 year old, die while giving care to a 25 year old, because their life is worth more to the collective - excuse me - worth more to society.  To paraphrase their quote, "it's not discrimination to deny care to the 70 year old and give it to the 25 year old.  Everyone who is now 70 was once 25 and the majority of those who are 25 now will be 70 some day".   In other words, "we can screw you now because we didn't screw you earlier; and if we're not screwing you now, wait until you're 70 and then you'll really be screwed."

Michelle Oddis, in her Human Events blog entry has this quote:
“I think anyone who is close to this understands this debate is really not about Don Berwick, but the opportunity to re-litigate the underlying health care reforms," John Rother, executive vice president for policy and strategy at the AARP told McClatchy Newspapers. "In ordinary times, the nomination of somebody with Don's record and standing in the field would not be controversial."
In ordinary times, we wouldn't have a socialist being given the reigns over 95 trillion dollars.  The AARP sold out their members in this fight and they continue to.  I assume they intend to make lots of money selling insurance to cover the shortfalls in Medicare coverage.  The take home point, though, is the vast majority of the country wants this repealed.  The vast majority would love to see it honestly litigated for the first time.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

More On NASA

Pretty busy today, so more linky than thinky.

Michelle Malkin has a bunch of good stuff on the NASA Islamic Outreach Inanity. 

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

NASA - No Americans in Space Anymore

Catchy acronym credited to commenter Dyspeptic Curmudgeon on Alpheca

So NASA has apparently been ordered to make its primary mission outreach to Muslim nations.
Charles Bolden, head of NASA, tells Al Jazeera that the "foremost" task President Obama has given him is "to find a way to reach out to the Muslim world and engage much more with predominantly Muslim nations to help them feel good about their historic contribution to science, math, and engineering." Thus, NASA's primary mission is no longer to enhance American science and engineering or to explore space, but to boost the self-esteem of "predominantly Muslim nations."
Exploring space didn't even make the top three things Obama wants Bolden to accomplish. The other two are "re-inspire children to want to get into science and math" and "expand our international relationships,"  source Powerline Blog

Bull crap.  First off, the contributions of ancient Arab and Persian civilizations are duly noted - but there haven't been any noteworthy innovations out of that part of the world since Islam took over.  There are no great contributions to Science, Mathematics or Engineering since then.  Islam has destroyed that culture.  Again, to quote another commenter:
Paraphrasing the address given by the Prime minister of Malaysia to a conference of Moslem heads of state around 29th December 2004. The gist of it was, original thinking has been haram (forbidden) to Moslems for the past 1200 years.
Got an exception?  If the Muslim world is so great, why is it that when a leader gets sick, he comes here?  Why is it they send their students here to learn engineering?

Former NASA Administrator  Michael Griffin joins us in disgust:

The former head of NASA on Tuesday described as "deeply flawed" the idea that the space exploration agency's priority should be outreach to Muslim countries, after current Administrator Charles Bolden made that assertion in an interview last month. (Fox News
The administration is backpedaling on this like a four year old caught with both mitts in the cookie jar. 
....Bob Jacobs, NASA's assistant administrator for public affairs, ... said that Bolden was speaking of priorities when it came to "outreach" and not about NASA's primary missions of "science, aeronautics and space exploration." He said the "core mission" is exploration and that it was unfortunate Bolden's comments are now being viewed through a "partisan prism."
When in doubt, blame everything on the Republicans, right?

Look, I'm one of those who think the moon landings were one of the pinnacles of human history. It pains me deeply for us to be throwing out our heritage in space.  In light of this, it's noteworthy that Bolden also said:
... the United States is not going to travel beyond low-Earth orbit on its own and that no country is going to make it to Mars without international help.
In other words, we have completely lost our vision, and our ambition.  We have no desire to explore any more and would rather contemplate our navels.  Exploration's too hard.  It costs too much.  He's saying we can't even recreate technology we had 45 years ago and improve on it.  Even knowing the answer, as if from the back of the book, we can't re-create it.  He's telling the Chinese, the Indians, the Japanese and every other nation with a space program that they can't do it, either.  What a bunch of myopic crap. 

So the answer is that instead of taking on challenges, let's all just sit around and be proud of something our ancestors did over 2000 years ago.  Thanks, but if I'm proud of anything, it will be of things I've accomplished - anything my ancestors did was for them to be proud of.  
Pic shamelessly ripped from Weasel Zippers, who seem to have shamelessly ripped it from The Nose on Your Face

In a way, Glenn Beck hit on a very good concept a few weeks ago.  You may not have noticed it or it may not have stuck with you, but it's good. Think of the summer of 1969.  Two big things happened that summer.  The first moon landing in July, and Woodstock, a few weeks later.

The first was a tribute to hard working men and women: engineers, technicians, assemblers, and tens of thousands of hard working people who undertook a task that many viewed as impossible.  "To land a man on the moon and return him safely to earth by the end of this decade".  It was hard work, it was risky work.  Men died: outstanding men you'd be proud to have known or worked with.  It was a triumph of intellect, done with slide rules and calculators that your Smart Phone out classes by a factor of thousands.  Even today, it is thought of as so hard to do that about 5% of the population thinks we never did it.

The second was a bunch of kids having sex in the mud while drugged out of their minds, listening to singers and musicians drugged out of their minds.

The first group was dedicated to doing things others can barely only imagine - bending the universe to their will through sheer intellect and power.  They are "can do" people. 

The second group was dedicated to rubbing body parts against each other with no effort of will and no character.  Their entire focus in life is their genitals.   

The second group is now in charge of the country.

Which kind of person are you? 

...and lest you forget what Woodstock was like, Mrs. Graybeard and I laughed until we hurt at this ...