Friday, September 30, 2011

Hunting and Fishing

Hunting and fishing go together so firmly that, at least in Florida, both are regulated by the same government agency.  You can get a freshwater fishing license, a saltwater license, a hunting license or various combinations of all them - by the year or lifetime.  (As one wise-ass said, "at my age, pretty much everything I buy can be a lifetime supply; every membership a lifetime membership").

I've mused before that I grew up fishing, not hunting, I think largely because my dad was injured in WWII, and was not able to handle hunting.  I remember fishing on saltwater piers and bridges when I was no more than 6 years old.  When I got old enough to drive, I'd spend summer nights on the local fishing piers and fish all night, coming home a little after day break and sleeping all day.  In the tropics, even the fish take a siesta during the daytime heat.

Always the do-it-yourself kind of guy, I built most of my fishing rods, made a lot of lures, learned how to tie flies, make bucktail jigs, and fix everything I had.

I've owned a couple of boats during my life.  My first was a 20' Dusky, a south Florida-manufactured center-console boat, bought used when it was 10 years old, IIRC.  A deep vee hulled, offshore fishing boat, I set a lot of personal bests on that boat.  I owned it from about '80 until '84, when circumstances required I sell it.  A year or so later, it was replaced with an Alumacraft 16' - an inshore boat we used in the bays and inlets.   We had that from about '86 through about '91. 

You probably know where this is going... Mrs. Graybeard and I have been thinking about going fishing once the fall fishing season starts up.  Which ought to be real soon now; in fact, it's kind of overdue.  Our daytime temps have still been touching 90 degrees every day, but it finally looks like "fall" might come here this weekend.  Saturday night is forecast to be 60, instead of mid-70s, and a high of 80 on Sunday, instead of 90.  There's no boat, but we live close enough to Sebastian Inlet, one of the best-known fishing spots in Florida, to make it reasonable to fish there whenever we want.  I think we'll be giving it a try sometime soon. 

It hadn't occurred to me how much things have changed since the last time we went fishing until we tried to remember the last time we went fishing.  When you try to figure out if monofilament (fishing line) is still good, the manufacturers typically tell you to replace it every year or so.  When your line is old enough to vote, there's no question.  In the last 20 years, fluorocarbon line has come onto the market, but the big new thing is braided line.  I don't know how to use those, so I stuck with good old nylon monofilament: old school line to go with all my old school tackle.

So all the rods have fresh line.  One rod had a broken guide, and without replacement parts had to be put aside.  I found that by going on autopilot, I remembered how to tie a Bimini twist and all the other knots I needed to rig all my tackle.  All of the old lures are still good, all of the old reels still work, with a little cleaning and a touch of oil here and there. 

Unless a lot of prognosticators are wrong, fishing will be a good survival skill.  Quite possibly within the next few months. 

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Cardio When You Can't Run

While it's true that excessive cardio may damage your heart (this post  or this one or elsewhere), few deny that a moderate amount is good for you.  In view of what appears to be dark days coming, and more of a need to fend for ourselves, if not engage in some sort of outright “kinetic action”, the subject of aerobic fitness and cardio exercise, is common.  In a country where a large amount of the population is insulin resistant, if not already diagnosed with Type II diabetes, cardio is one way to reduce insulin resistance. 

It's hard to top running for an aerobic workout.  You simply put on a pair of shoes, enough clothing to meet the environment (or common decency, if you live here in the tropics) and off you go.  The thigh muscles are the largest muscles in the body, and you get more metabolic impact running than from swimming, rowing or other exercises that work the upper body.  (Disclaimer: a kid I work with was on a college crew team: his arms were as big as my legs).  You shouldn't ignore your upper body, though, because you may need to carry things around, perhaps chop firewood, or do other things that require upper body strength.

But what about people who can't run for medical reasons?

If you have medical issues that prevent running, you're not going to be on the front lines unless something terrible and unanticipated happens; you're going to be holed up in your home or retreat trying to avoid contact with the outside world.  There are many people that simply should not run - even if caught in a downpour, or another situation in life where most of us would.  They may be only able to run just far enough to get out of the way of an oncoming car and may require surgery afterward.  If you've had a hip or knee replaced, your orthopedic surgeon has already told you this.  If you're “working toward” getting that replacement, with arthritic hips or knees and already have reduced mobility, you already know you can't run.  There are also people who may be able to run once in a while in an emergency, but who would be hurt by the steady training. 

So what can you do?  Anyone can walk.  Dead people walk; you can see them mall-walking in groups every Sunday morning around most city malls.  Or you can ride a bicycle.

Western Rifle Shooters Association linked to this article on a “Couch to 5k” running program that started me thinking about this.  If it doesn't immediately register, 5k is 3.1 miles; it's also about the most you should consider running regularly, unless you're young and training for specific running events (according to the M.D. who wrote that “Cardio May Kill You” link).  It's hard to equate running miles to cycling miles, because the difficulty in cycling goes up more than that of running when the road tilts up, and approaches zero on a downhill, but on level ground a 3.1 mile run would be equivalent to cycling about 12 miles.  As a runner, I've never run further than that, while as a cyclist, I've ridden across Florida (120 miles), a testimony to how low-impact cycling is.  In running, the marathon (26.2 miles) is considered the benchmark endurance event; in cycling the equivalent is the century (100 miles) and you can use that roughly 4:1 ratio in miles.  Another way to equate the effort is that 5k running plan aims at getting you to 10 minute miles, making the 3.1 mile event take 31 minutes, so your cycling equivalent would be to cycle at moderate intensity for that amount of time.   

Taking that running plan and translating it to cycling is fall-off-a-log easy.  Where it talks about running hard for 60 seconds and resting for 90, for example, just substitute riding hard vs. riding easy.  I'm a fan of cadence meters on a bike (part of your cyclocomputer), but I know that adds expense.  If you have one, you can consider cadence in your workouts, warming up by spinning at a known rate (90 pedal rotations per minute, say), and then working to maintain that cadence when you're riding harder.  A high cadence minimizes stresses on arthritic joints.  Yes, you can measure cadence by counting your pedal revolutions in 6 seconds and multiplying by 10, but that requires coordination.  It's easy to read a number off your bike computer. 

Compared to running, road cycling is extremely low impact.  In the days after knee or leg surgery, often the first thing that your physical therapist will have you do is ride a stationary bike.  On a good road bike, on flat roads, you can do the same level of work on a freshly post-surgical leg; I was on a stationary bike 4 days after arthroscopic knee surgery and my own road bike 9 days after the 'scope. 

The problem, of course, is that cycling requires a bike.  While a runner can get a good, if not top end, pair of shoes for around $100, a good entry-level bike is going to cost 4 to 5 times that.  While the department store bikes may be lower priced, they usually have features that make them a poorer choice like steel wheels as opposed to aluminum alloy wheels on “bike shop” bikes (the issue isn't the weight; it's that the cheaper chromed steel wheels are harder to stop – especially when wet).  There are decent bikes in some sporting goods stores like the Sports Authority; I've seen Fuji at my local store (a few years ago), and Diamondback bikes.  In general though, the bikes at a bike shop will be a better choice for a handful of reasons. 

One reason is that a bike shop will help you get the fit right; and the fit is vitally important (I can't emphasize that enough).  A friend I was helping to buy a bike was surprised by my talk about bike size.  He remembered riding a 26” bike as his last one as a kid, and just assumed that's all there was to know.  26" was the wheel size, and bikes with the same size wheels come in a wide variety of frame sizes, and different geometries, which vary the amount of reach to the handlebars.  It drastically effects how comfortable the bike is to ride.  

Most bike manufacturers today offer a bike specifically for the fitness rider, or someone who has not been on a bike as an adult.  Called a city bike, an urban bike, a fitness bike, a hybrid, or sometimes a cruiser, they have a more relaxed and comfortable geometry than you probably are thinking.  The geometry determines the position you sit while riding, from the aggressive, head down position of the road racer (not recommended for a beginner!) up to a rather high sitting position, excellent for seeing around in traffic.  Some will use touring bike tires (metric 700C size) while others will use mountain bike tires (American 26” size).  A selection of these bikes might be hard to find in a small shop, but the manufacturers all offer them.  Incidentally, high end bikes are still an industry where America is very strong; more Tour de France winners have ridden American bikes than European in the last 20 years.  While they all have offshore factories for their low priced bikes (typically in Taiwan, not the PRC), the high end Trek, Cannondale, Specialized, or Cervelo bikes are made in the US. 

(Trek's popular 7000 - a hybrid that retails around $425)

In addition to a bike, you'll need a helmet.  I find padded cycling gloves to be essential - and they'll help protect your hands when you fall.  Add a water bottle, and a cycling computer (speedometer) and you'll easily be close to $100 over the price of the bike.  You don't need clip in pedals (which require special shoes) or even the old-school toe clips. For short rides of 35 or 40 minutes, you won't need the dreaded, padded Lycra shorts like this model is wearing, either.  Any old gym shorts will work. 

(upright exercise bike that retails for about $250)

Indoor, stationary bikes are certainly an option and may be best for some people and places.  Personally, I hate 'em.  If I'm outside on a pleasant day, it can be tough to make myself go home.  Indoors, I've never wanted to ride an instant past the timer telling me I'm done.  Guess which one is better for overall fitness?  Still, there's a nationwide trend called Spinning, done entirely indoors on stationary bikes, and it's a good workout.  And if you're not an experienced rider, I think riding outdoors on snow would not be good way to start.  

In the case of both regular bikes and stationary bikes, used ones are frequently available.  Since stationary bikes are more adjustable, finding one isn't as hard a finding your exact size in a bike.  Plus, exercise equipment frequently becomes an extra clothes rack while it's still new, so they might be easier to find. 

If you'd like to discuss types, brands, models or anything - we can do that, but my main point was to remind readers that just because you may not be able to run, that doesn't mean you can't get a good cardio workout and be better prepared for whatever may be coming our way. 

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Today's Fun Fact

Fellow Florida gun blogger, Around O-Town Orlando Area Crime Report and Firearms Blog, talks about the number of concealed carry permits in the state.  The link in this piece is to Clayton Cramer's blog that shows the number of active concealed carry permits in the nation.  Florida leads:
Florida: 8/31/2011: 845,828 ordinary folks and 525 for judges
Interesting, but not the fun fact.

The fun fact is that less than 1/100 of 1% of the more than 2 million carry licenses issued in Florida have been revoked due to a gun crime, in the entire 24 year history of Florida licenses.

The state database shows that since the 1987 introduction of Concealed Weapon and Firearms Licenses in the state, 2,031,106 have been issued, while a mere 5,702 have been revoked for a crime after being issued a license.  That's 0.28%, call it one quarter of 1% of Florida concealed carry permit holders had their license pulled for committing a crime.  Furthermore, of those 5,702 licenses that have been revoked, only 168 have been revoked for a crime using a firearm.  That's .0083% - eight thousandths of one percent of those issued.  

It's hard to imagine a safer group to be associated with.

Every time any sort of incremental improvement in firearms law comes, anti-gun zealots shriek that concealed carry will lead to blood in the streets, or death battles over parking spaces - their imaginary fears that never come to pass.  Florida has been "Shall Issue" since 1987, and has a long history of how concealed carry holders behave.  We should all remember to show them that in almost a quarter of a century, less than 1/100th of one percent of the issued permits have been revoked because of criminal activity with a gun.  

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

My Turn for the Meme

In case you haven't caught it, the liberty-sphere has been having a blast with the Elizabeth Warren speech from the other day, that I already linked to.  I got started with Borepatch's contribution, but Anthroblogology has the grand summary. 

So here's my little contribution to the meme:

Monday, September 26, 2011

More Tales From the Over Regulated State - A Series

Wherein tonight's episode can be called, "I hope you don't have asthma". 

I do.  Relatively mild - my main symptom is a tendency to get chest congestion - but I know asthma can be a killer.  Every year, about 5000 people die of asthma, and that number is growing despite the improved long range treatments.  There are two main treatment approaches for asthma symptoms: a fast-acting "rescue inhaler", and daily administered corticosteroids, which help reduce the need for the rescue inhaler.   Most of these are administered by an inhaler, as well.  The "gold standard" propellant for those inhalers has been freon: a light, extremely inert propellant. 

Enter the EPA and the Montreal protocol, a treaty to reduce the use of so-called ozone damaging chlorofluorocarbons, or CFCs, like freon.  Although medical uses were not specifically banned in the treaty, the FDA decided to ban CFCs in those asthma inhalers.  In the place of freon, HFA, hydrofluoroalkane is used - but some inhalers included small amounts of ethanol (the kind of alcohol we drink).
“Whereas the direct contact of ethanol with the bronchial mucous caused bronchospasm, the consumption of alcohol had never caused the patient’s asthma to worsen. Various effects on the bronchial tone after the ingestion of ethanol have been documented and approximately 30% of asthmatics report an exacerbation in their symptoms (5). In an animal model, it has been shown that ethanol can trigger bronchoconstriction through TRPV1 (transient receptor potential vanilloid-1) activation of the airway sensory neurons in the brochi (6). Our findings suggest that bronchospasm is caused by ethanol-induced TRPV1 activation [in humans].” (Bronchospasm induced by inhalant corticosteroids: the role of ethanol).

This was big news in 2008, (at least among asthma patients_ and I sent some money to a group that was trying to stop the removal of CFCs from prescription inhalers.  The problem was that side effects from the new propellants were far more common, and people died because of their "rescue inhaler"!  While the chart shown on this page shows that HFA inhalers held about 1/3 of the market, almost 1/2 of the asthma deaths were HFA users.  This could be statistical noise and it could be a warning shot. 

The "Doctors Speak Out" page I just linked to is full of comments by physicians and respiratory therapists saying that the new inhalers are not working.  This one is representative:
“My daughter has stopped using HFA albuterol inhalers because she ended up in the ER several times (always at 3 am) after they exacerbated the problem. My daughter and I have tried all four HFA inhalers (we cleaned them every day) and we think they are dreadful! They are not effective at all. They make the asthma problem worse. Right now we are using CFC albuterol inhalers from India, and my daughter will be forced to use her nebulizer for emergency relief when these run out.”  Robin Levinson, MD, Hematologist, Florida, by email, July 20, 2009
You might think that patient care and improved outcomes would be the most important aspect in a medication - and I'm sure that's what every doctor I've ever known is interested in - but then you would not have been a good observer of the FDA, whose regulations are all written in the blood of those they didn't protect until it was too late.  Or a good observer of an environmental movement who thinks the world needs about 95% fewer people. 

This all took place in 2008, so why is it a topic tonight?  There is one remaining over the counter treatment for asthma, Primatene Mist, and it is being banned from the market because it has retained its CFC propellant.  The FDA has told them to be off the market by January 1.  Primatene is epinephrine - adrenaline - and is very safe and effective.  Perhaps 2 million people have a Primatene inhaler in their home, their purse, or other place where it's always at hand.  As Twitter user @jimgeraghty said
Think of how much smaller the U.S. carbon footprint will be without all of those asthma sufferers around.
So people who get relief from a Primatene inhaler will, at least temporarily, not be able to get an over the counter inhaler (in this press release, they say they're working on an HFA version).  Their cost will go up from about $20 to perhaps $60.  And until an OTC asthma inhaler is available again, they'll need to see their doctor to get a prescription, and probably go back once a year for a follow up. 

Will they be able to get a product onto market soon enough? Don't hold your breath.  In the mean time get some spares.  Hoard.  And if you don't have asthma, you might consider getting one or two.  Epinephrine is also therapy for bee stings and other severe allergic reactions. 

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Ready For the Week?

Time to strap on your big boy (or girl) pants.  This will probably be a rough week.  If it's not, hang on, this situation isn't over, yet. 

Bayou Renaissance Man, one of my every day reads, has done some very good work on the economic big picture lately.  This piece talks about some of the very large bombs that are likely to drop soon. 
  • If the Euro tanks (as appears increasingly likely), the economy of the European Union will go to hell in a handbasket for several months at least, while the various banksters and politicians involved try to salvage the shattered remnants and glue the pieces together in some sort of new structure.
  • That means that everyone who exports goods to Europe (primarily China and other Far Eastern nations, but also including some very large US corporations - for example, Boeing) is suddenly faced with the loss of a major market. Their companies can no longer sell their goods into that market, which means there's a massive oversupply of them. They've already had to face a considerable reduction in demand from the USA, too. They'll have to eat even more losses, lay off workers by the hundreds of thousands . . . hel-loooo, economic disruption!
  • Until recently, China's money has been keeping our economy afloat. They own trillions of dollars in US bonds and other securities. If their economy tanks due to a reduction in demand from the USA and Europe (the first signs of economic problems are already visible there), they're going to have to redirect all their reserves into keeping their own country afloat . . . which means they'll dump US debt for pennies on the dollar, in a desperate attempt to get as much liquidity as they can to preserve the Communist Party government from the wrath of its citizens.
and there's a lot more.  You should RTWT.

Several writers have scaled the US budgetary problems down to a more comfortable size ("a billion here, a billion there, pretty soon it adds up to real money" - Everett Dirksen, US Senator, 1960s) and Peter adds this from National Review Online: 
Let’s remove 8 zeros and pretend it’s a household budget:
Annual family income: $21,700
Money the family spent: $38,200
New debt on the credit card: $16,500
Outstanding balance on the credit card: $142,710
Budget cuts: $385
How long do you think such a household budget would exist without a creditor demanding money or cutting off the credit line?  Any doubt S&P was wrong to downgrade our credit rating?  The deficit doesn't matter, because we can print more - as the Keynesians in the central banks seem to think?  If so, prepare to pay a million dollars for your McWendyBurger.

As Denninger says, Welcome to the Collapse of 2011.   For various reasons that Karl covers, this one figures to be worse than the crash of '08.  Markets are re-valuing everything, and they're trying to figure out what is real.  This could take a while and be extraordinarily painful. 

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Shining Some Truth On Taxes

The class warfare rhetoric has stepped up to front and center this week, with the president saying, "if asking the rich to pay their fair share is class warfare, I accept that".  Since the call for the Buffet Rule when the "American Jobs Act" was released (ever notice how bills are always named the exact opposite of what they do?) tax "fairness" has been bandied about in a virtually 100% fact free tone. 

Mr. President, if the secretary and Warren Buffet pay the same tax, that's a flat tax.  I really doubt that's what you want, but if you do, I could be on your side (assuming you don't want a flat 100% rate).  As Kerodin and others say (I agree), if it's wrong that Buffet pays 15% on capital gains while his secretary pays 35% on ordinary income, let's drop her tax rate to 15%, too.  Of course, in reality and as you readers know, Buffet is paying tax on income from money that was already taxed at around 35%, so he's paying closer to 50% tax.  But let's not let facts get in the way of good story, shall we? 

It was reported this summer  that we have crossed an economic Rubicon: more than half the population pays no tax (federal income tax, that is).
"But right now, the fact (is) that according to the Committee on Joint Taxation, 51 percent -- that is, a majority of American households -- paid no income tax in 2009. Zero. Zip. Nada. … Actually, to show how out of whack things have gotten, 30 percent of American households actually made money from the tax system by way of refundable tax credits -- the Earned Income Tax Credit, among others. So 51 percent of American households paid no income tax in 2009, but 30 percent actually made money under the current system." (emphasis added - GB)
Mind-bogglingly, Zerohedge wrote last March (and I covered with more details) about these 30 percent who make a profit off the tax system that "a one-parent family of three making $14,500 a year (minimum wage) has more disposable income than a family making $60,000 a year.  And if that wasn't enough, here is one that will blow your mind:
"If the family provider works only one week a month at minimum wage, he or she makes 92 percent as much as a provider grossing $60,000 a year."
The fate of the country is sealed, assuming the 51% of the population who pay no taxes shows up for every election, the percentage of people paying income tax will go down until the country collapses.  If it hasn't already, anyway.

It is fundamental evil party talking point, parroted in this BS Footprint link by Elizabeth Warren, that the Bush tax cuts for the rich cost us trillions of dollars.  A few minutes of internet research will show that on a percentage basis, the lowest income brackets benefited more from those tax cuts than the rich.  We'll surely fix things by letting them expire in 2013, right?
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% 

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 all of the others under the Bush cuts.

Note that the top quintile pays 81.0% of the entire tax burden of the country. 
Economist Michael Stroup, of Stephen F. Austin State University, has analyzed tax rates and the amount of "progressivity" (that is, the rich pay "progressively" more) of the tax system (pdf here).  The Tax Foundation reports the US has the most progressive system in the world, even more than those European social democracies which the president wants to make us more like.  Stroup presents this interesting plot: 
Here's how the plot works:  Increases in the size of the area between a 45-degree line and the curve (Area A) indicate greater income inequality.  Greater distance between the red and blue curves (Area B) indicate the difference between income and taxation.  The more the red curve is below the blue, the more progressive the tax system:
If everyone paid the same proportion of his income in taxes, the tax curve would lie perfectly on top of the income curve.

If the poor paid a larger share of their income in taxes than the rich, the tax system would be regressive and the tax curve would lie above the income curve.

However, since the rich pay a larger share of their income in taxes than the poor, the tax curve lies below the income curve.
While this is a snapshot for 2004, Stroup writes:
Over time, the share of taxes paid by the rich has grown more than their share of income. For example, between 1986 and 2004:

The income share of the top 1 percent of taxpayers rose 7.7 percentage points, from 11.30 percent to 19 percent of total income.

The share of income taxes paid by the top 1 percent rose even more, by 11 percentage points, from 26 percent to 37 percent of total income taxes paid.
In the years since this was written the percentage of the tax burden paid by the top 1% of earners has increased, to approximately 40%; 42% according to some sources.  The Tax Foundation provides this data:

The simple fact is that every single tax policy change by both parties has led to a more progressive tax, where the rich pay a larger percentage of the tax burden than before.  This has been particularly true for Republican laws like Bush's "Tax Cuts for the Rich" - or Reagan's before him.
The most important reason for the increasing progressivity of income taxes is that virtually every Republican tax bill over the past 25 years has taken more and more people off the tax rolls. Democratic opponents inevitably point to the lowering of the highest tax rates as a “giveaway to the rich.” They conveniently ignore the fact that in lowering the rates, these same tax bills also widened the base. By allowing fewer deductions, exemptions and loop holes, the bills exposed more income to taxation. More importantly, if people at the bottom of the income ladder are completely taken off the tax rolls, the burden of the tax system will shift to those at the top, no matter what rates they pay or what deductions they take.
Getting into discussions with the evil party is a waste of time; they will never tell you what the "fair share" of their income folks should pay.  A couple of weeks ago, congresscritter Jan Schakowsky famously told an interviewer "you don’t deserve to keep all" of what you earn, yet refused to specify how much was fair.  In her world, and all of the evil party, what you earn belongs to society first and they will decide how much you're allowed to keep.

This idea needs to be eradicated. 

Friday, September 23, 2011

Mr. Gold's Wild Ride

(for the vast majority of you who don't live in Disney's shadow, there's a popular kiddie ride there called "Mr. Toad's Wild Ride" - consider this homage...or pun)

The past three days depicted on this Kitco chart show a precipitous drop in gold prices, from about $1815 opening on Wednesday to a $1657 close today - and that price was after gaining some ground back from an intra-day low of about $1630.  Silver didn't escape, either, going from over $40 to an intra-day low of nearly $30/oz:
So what's going on? 

To some degree, it's a "perfect storm" of the market pressures from the impending European collapse, the reaction of worldwide stock markets to the Federal Reserve's "Twist" (bond swap) announced a couple of days ago, and a repeat of something which happened a few months ago and brought silver down from about $50/oz to closer to $40: an increase in margin requirements. 

According to Zerohedge, CME announced large increases in margins required.  The document from CME is there. 
And there you have it: CME just hiked gold margins by 21%, silver by 16% and copper by 18%. Mystery solved.
from a slightly more recent update:
Everyone knew they (ed. - the margin hikes) were coming... Just not when. Now that the gold liquidation frenzy has struck we still don't know much if anything: who was it, why, and where did the money go? Some rumors have it as a bank in Central, Eastern Europe unwinding massive PM positions, which if true is paradoxically bullish for gold and silver as reported previously, as it means the already tight liquidity situation in Europe is about to come to a head, possibly as soon as this weekend. Others speculate it was a plain vanilla satisfaction of collateral requirements by a big funds who may or may not be liquidating and who have sizable gold positions. Or, the simplest explanation, was it simply an expectation (and leak) of a gold margin hike?
Interestingly, this writer put out a newsletter 10 days ago predicting gold would go back to "the 1650s".  In other words, he felt this would be the price level just on his technical analysis and without considering changes in margin rates. 

While it can be argued that the Fed's recent actions really can be interpreted as more money dumping (QE666), the stock markets really didn't take it that way.  I've heard two different explanations for the stock market crashes, both of which make sense.  First, there's no doubt that the EU is in deep crisis, and the commitment of Germany to not let Greece - and the EU - fail, just might pull them all into the abyss, and markets are scared of that.  Second, the US stock market in particular (Europe to a lesser extent) was expecting a real QE from the Bernank and are throwing a temper tantrum over not getting their free money.  Yeah, it's the behavior of two year old spoiled child, but that pretty much describes Wall Street most of the time. 

For longer than I can remember a distinct starting point, the rule of thumb on commodities was "buy the dip" (or BTFD as they say on Zerohedge - and you can figure out the F all by yourself).  This is definitely a dip.  I've already heard of local coin shops saying they will not sell their silver coins at less than a $38 or $39 spot price today, not believing for an instant the price is going to stay down. 

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Hey... That Was a Milestone!

Last night was my 500th post

Sorry for the shouting.  No, I don't know how many days I've been here, but just over 19 months.  I started on February 21, 2010, with a post that I still like.  I do my best to put up something daily, but there have been times when I have been unable to.  And a few rare days where I've put up two. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

And the Answer is: A Head Fake

The Ben Bernank and the Fed board of gub'nors released a new plan today: let's get rid of $400 billion dollars in short term bonds, and buy long term bonds!  They faked us out - looked like they were going the QE route, but acted more like folks with max'ed out credit cards.  Which they pretty much are. 

(and before I move on, JDA has the most excellent photoshop of Bernanke ever... I'm going to respect her copyright and say clicky the link and go look... I'll wait.)

The 30 year bond then cratered, hitting its lowest level since Jan. '09:
Followed by the DJIA itself
The idea here is that the Fed has too much money in short term bonds that have to be paid back in the next couple of years.  This action essentially trades the short term bonds for long term bonds, enabling them to kick the can a little farther down the road, and essentially saying the economy isn't going to get much better for perhaps five to ten years.  I think what the Fed is doing is sort of like paying off one credit card with another; one of those "no payment for 90 days!" offers.  So, for the record, I was wrong yesterday in predicting another QE. 

I believe the reason the Dow tanked was not concern over what they did, but disappointment over what they did.  The market was expecting more free money to try and make even more free money with.  This may be the first time the Bernank did not deliver what they expected. 

The spin and PR is flying already.  They are doing everything they can to keep from crashing into the mountain below them, and are incapable of not messing with the economy.  Fundamentally, I don't think they changed the picture at all.  I still expect inflation followed by austerity measures everywhere; the march of the FSA and a prolonged period of bad history, "with a 25% chance of the Zombie apocalypse".   Gold and silver?  Might go on sale due to knee-jerk reactions, or acute needs for cash to cover market shorts.  Prepare to buy on the dips. 

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Fed to Announce Next QE Tomorrow

The Fed is scheduled to announce the still-secret results of their FOMC meeting tomorrow.  I join Zerohedge (quoting Pimco, the 800 pound gorilla of the bond world) and the others who think they have no alternative in predicting the next round of money creation.  I've been blowing this horn since last April, and it still looks inevitable to me.

They won't call it QE3.  The phrase "Liquidity Injection" was used last week to cover some of the bailout funding the Fed is doing for Europe - they may use that term. 

I'll just call it QE666  Next major milestone will be one of the European basket cases collapsing: Greece, Italy, Spain, Portugal, even France. Remember, if the Euro collapses, the EU is done. 

There is no limit to how miserable the bureaucrats will make ordinary people in their determination to keep the "one world" dream alive. 

The "Whip it Out" Meme

The "show me your EDC knife" meme seems to go back to Og.  Here's mine:
It's my second Cold Steel knife, and a real gun show bargain.  Very much like the 4" TiLite with Zytel handle here, but with a black finished steel blade.  I've carried several different knives, but this has been my EDC for a few months.  If you're a long time reader, you know I've made a few knives and am studying how to make serious blades. 

Monday, September 19, 2011

A Meme I'm Down With

I saw it at Sean's and he got it from Larry; it's list of the top 5 guns you want with the one you want most as #1.
  1. Savage Scout FCM in .308
  2. XDm in .45 ACP or the XD Compact in .45 - the XD is probably a better carry gun.
  3. Savage Palma bench rest rifle, probably in .308 (this one)
  4. Wilson Combat 1911 - I've never shopped models, as they're way out of my price class - but this one will do. 
  5. A nice .22 LR Revolver - probably this one from S&W.  Or the new Ruger if it turns out to be a good one.
To be honest, I'd love a Barret 50 cal, but there isn't a range over 600 yards in the state - that I know of - and 600 yards is probably where the 50 is just coming into its own. Full auto?  Only shot a few, one day.  Of those, I think I'd take an Uzi. 

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Day Of Rage, umm, Day of Mild Annoyance

So yesterday, 9/17, was supposed to be a "Day of Rage" to occupy Wall Street.  Only it didn't go over so well.  Wall Street is peaceful this morning.   
A couple of hundred protesters showed up, and my guess is they don't have much of a clue what they're actually protesting.  Hardly a dominating crowd, the Blaze reporter says, "This crowd looked more like Ben and Jerry’s hippies than communist storm troopers."  And it featured morons like this (from the linked article at the Blaze):
who may have nice anarchist spirit, doncha know, but doesn't realize that the top 1% of wage earners already pay over 40% of all the taxes collected in the US (here, for one example). (Hey, Mr. "y u no pay taxes?!" - y u no spend 5 minutes reading?!)

The really delightful irony is that these low-brow communists, paid for by ACORN, SEIU, George Soros and his many foundations, complain about the TEA party, yet are complaining about exactly the same things!
The antidote for crony capitalism, tax loopholes, et al is not to increase the power of the government to regulate them, but to get rid of big government. Which, funnily enough, is what the Tea Party has been advocating all along.

Did none of these enlightened Day of Rage organizers happen to notice that Jeff Immelt, the CEO of GE, was an honored guest of President Obama's at his 'jobs' speech to the joint session of Congress? I mean, come on! It's like they're not even trying to hide how easy it is to get in bed with the administration. And if these protesters really hate corporations, I cannot even conceive of how labor unions are avoiding their ire.
How much more "in bed" with business can an administration be?  I thought W was bad, but the revolving door between Goldman Sachs and the has been going on for a long time.  I figure if Goldman donates a million dollars to the president's campaign, the might expect something in return, but the improper relations with all sorts of companies really seems to be at an all time high.  I wonder if these protesting clowns will realize that the banksters they're protesting are paying for them to be there?  Qui bono? 

One of the facts of being a 50-something cyclist is that most of the products marketed to cyclists are aimed at a younger, higher-testosterone demographic.  For instance Performance Bicycle used to sell shorts they called "Performance Rage".  I always used to say, "at my age, they're more like 'Mildly Annoyed' shorts.  Or 'Really Miffed' shorts."  That seems to be the tone of the Day of Peeved. 

Saturday, September 17, 2011

These Are Days of Plenty

Let me start by saying I'm not really a history buff - I just try to understand historical perspectives more than the average modern citizen.  One of the things that I find incredibly ironic in light of human history is our obsession with obesity; granted that the link diabetes from diabetes to obesity is serious, and diabetes along with a diabetic tendency, leads to some pretty serious health issues.  We get a UN report that more people are becoming overweight in the poor countries - in other words, fewer people are starving to death - and that's given as bad news. In the historical context, it's amazingly good news. 

Somehow, Mrs. Graybeard stumbled across this incredible 580 page document sourced on Impact and has been reading it all day -- and reading excerpts out loud to me.  Starting in 6 AD (A famine struck Rome, Italy), and ending in 1900, it lists reported catastrophes, mostly caused by weather.  The reports are astonishing; stories of hail 12 or 18" across - and bigger chunks of ice falling from the sky.
410 A.D. In Rome, Italy, there was a famine followed by a plague.57, 72, 91  Under the Emperor Honorius (who reigned from 395 to 414) so great was the scarcity and dearth of victuals in Rome, Italy, that in the open marketplace, this voice was heard – set a price on man’s flesh.  St. Jerome alluding to this plague, says: the rage of the starved with hunger broke forth into abominable excess, so as people mutually devoured the members of each other. Nay, even the tender mother spared not the flesh of her sucking child, but received him again into her bowels whom she had brought forth a little before.72
I won't try to excerpt more of it, it's 580 pages long and very dense with these reports.  It is the perfect gift if you have an Al Gore acolyte in your email address book, someone who thinks severe weather is due to the SUVs of the late 20th century and never happened before.    

Human history is a continuous record of floods, and droughts, freezes and hot spells; then famine, starvation, plagues, and, yes, cannibalism because of those - mixed with failures of crops and farms due to stupid taxation.  We live in a remarkable time of plenty, despite constant warnings and hand-wringing that we can't produce enough food.  Our biggest problems seem to stem from following the dietary recommendations of our governments.  There has been an undeniable increase in obesity as Americans followed FDA recommendations to eat less fat and more grains, a problem dissected in books like "Wheat Belly",

But no matter how bad wheat might be, it's better than eating your children to survive. 

Friday, September 16, 2011

Don't Get Too Distracted By Solyndra

Yeah, Solyndra is a scandal.  Maybe Kerodin is right that this is the sort of thing that brings down administrations, but in this administration, a group that raises corruption to Biblical proportions, where everywhere you look they are overwhelming the system with corrupt and evil acts, don't get too distracted by Solyndra.

Taken together, all of these Green Energy/Unicorn Fart companies have wasted perhaps $50 billion dollars.  Solyndra was "only" half a billion.  Only in DC could half a billion dollars not seem that big, but it's true.  Divide the year's deficit of $1.4 Trillion by 365 and you see we're borrowing $3.84 billion per day.  If you'd rather use "business days" (5 day weeks vs. 7) we borrow $5.38 billion dollars every day.  Either way, throwing half a billion away isn't many hours worth of borrowing. 

It still pales in comparison to Project Gunwalker, because as Investor's Business Daily so succinctly put it,
At least Solyndra doesn't have a body count.
Gunwalker was never a "botched sting operation" as the spin-masters call it.  There's no doubt it was intended to add fuel to the arguments that "American guns" are causing problems in Mexico and create a demand for more gun control. As it turns out, American guns are a problem - and they all come from the BATF, and Holder's DOJ is the biggest group of criminals in the US. 
To allow the characterization of "Project Gunwalker" as a "botched sting operation" to go unchallenged is to give the perpetrators near (or at?) the very top of the Obama government a free pass on the utter evil of this monstrosity, and allow "gun control" apologists to blame it on desperation stemming from "weak U.S. gun laws," because of the "gun lobby."  (source)
Gunwalker was the deliberate exporting of guns - apparently along with grenades and IED parts - to the most ruthless, vile, brutal and psychopathic gangs on the planet.  It's directly responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Mexicans and (so far as currently known) a small handful of Americans.  Are Mexican lives worthless?  Is that what Eric Holder and Barack Obama think? And make no mistake, it's hard to imagine an operation like this not getting approval all the the way to the top.  Career weenies like Kenneth Melson don't do things like this without reams of Cover Your Ass documentation to make sure they're not sitting in front of congress explaining themselves.  Why aren't Mexican Americans protesting? 

The political attacks are heating up.  As David points out today, a group called "American Family Voices" (which is American in the same sense Fidel Castro, Hugo Chavez and Dilma Rousseff are American) is filing an ethics charge against Darrell Issa, who (of course) is leading the attacks on Gunwalker.  American Family Voices is listed here

As an ID badge wearing employee of the Military-Industrial Complex (although I hardly ever even talk with anyone on the military side of the business), I have to take an annual training class in something called ITAR/EAR, which you probably don't know about.  Unless you're either another worker in the industry or a law geek.  ITAR/EAR is short for a set of laws called the International Traffic in Arms Regulations/Export Administration Regulations.  The intent is to limit traffic in arms, munitions, and classified or dual use technologies that are defined (loosely) in the laws.

In walking thousands of guns into Mexico, Honduras, and the Caribbean, this has to be the largest violation of ITAR/EAR in US History.  In keeping with their status, the "only ones" of the BATFE are allowed to break the law with impunity. If I did 1/10,000 of what they've done, I'd be rotting in jail by now.

We need to keep the heat on Gunwalker - and defend Darrell Issa.  
(thanks Sean

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Solyndra Quote of the Day

Johnathon Silver of the Department of Energy, when questioned by Representative Cliff Stearns of Florida about whether someone should be fired for approving the loans to Solyndra (source).
Rep. Cliff Stearns, Florida Republican and chairman of the House Energy and Commerce investigations subcommittee, pressed Mr. Silver on whether anybody should be fired.

“I’m saying we are doing the best job we know how to do,” Mr. Silver said, declining to answer the question.
Newsflash Mr. Silver: in the real world, people doing the best job they know how to do get fired with depressing regularity.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Fisking The Jobs Bill

Oh what geek heaven.  The bill can be found online, courtesy of the Orlando Sentinel.  Yeah, probably through, too, but whatever...

I'm sure you've heard this is just a recycling of everything that Obama has proposed for years: Glenn Beck's crew did a great mock game show on the radio and TV where they played sections of speeches from the first stimulus speech in 2009, and from last week.  Then they challenged folks to guess which year it was from.  It was virtually impossible.  Word for word in places.  With that, lets' get started:
  • Let's start off with a fun one: do you know how it gets paid for?  Remember the "Super Congress" thing passed during the Debt Ceiling Debate?  The one that has to find $1.5 trillion in savings in a few weeks?  From Page 155 - the last page of the bill: "(a) INCREASED TARGET FOR JOINT SELECT COMMITTEE.— Section 401(b)(2) of the Budget Control Act of 2011 is amended by striking “$1,500,000,000,000” and inserting “$1,950,000,000,000”.  So the whole thing is paid for by telling the Super Congress - you fools figure out how to pay for it! 
  • More Obama boilerplate:  page 150, "SUBTITLE C – CLOSE LOOPHOLE FOR CORPORATE JET DEPRECIATION"  "SEC. 421. GENERAL AVIATION AIRCRAFT TREATED AS 7-YEAR PROPERTY."  Let's close that corporate jet depreciation loophole that we created when we got elected.  That ought to put the folks who work on those jets out of work!  Think of all the airport jobs; the mechanics, clerks, assemblers... think of all the workers we can ruin with this one!  
  • Let's raise income taxes on the millionaires and billionaires.  Where million and billion are defined to mean $250,000 or less.  (page 135)
    • "the taxpayer’s adjusted gross income is above—
      (A) $250,000 in the case of a joint return within the meaning of section 6013,
      (B) $225,000 in the case of a head of household return,
      (C) $125,000 in the case of a married filing separately return. or
      (D) $200,000 in all other cases; ..."
  • There's lots more tax increases in there, too.  Remove deductions for oil well drilling operations that turn up dry holes (Sec 431, p.151).  This will wipe out the small producers but have no effect on the big companies.  Repeal tax deductions for "Tertiary injectancts" (I think this is to discourage "fracking").  There's just a wholesale removal of tax credits, deductions and depreciations for oil companies, pages 151-153
  • Are you a big fan of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the two Government Sponsored Entities who did the most to crash the economy?  Take heart!  This bill creates the American Infrastructure Financing Authority (section 245, page 40) which will do the same wonders for Infrastructure financing that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac did for housing! But don't worry, the executives will be appointed by the President.  What could possibly go wrong?
  • Worried about not enough Wireless Internet for First Responders?  The National Wireless Initiative, (section 271, page 62) creates a redundant organization to the FCC ("the Public Safety Broadband Corporation established in section 284") to manage the spectrum vacated by the UHF TV broadcasters when TV went digital.  This is often called "white space" and is in the range of 758 MHz (MegaHertz) to 763 MHz and from 788 MHz to 793 MHz.  Section 281, p. 75 reallocates this spectrum to first responder use.  They'll have broad powers, too.  They can auction spectrum, kick existing users out of spectrum they legally use, pay them by taking money from the auctions - it'll be wonderful!  
  • Remember that whole Lightsquared/GPS thing?  It was predicated on Lightsquared being able to use satellite spectrum for their terrestrial broadband plans.  Well section 274, page 69, creates "REQUIREMENTS WHEN REPURPOSING CERTAIN MOBILE SATELLITE SERVICES SPECTRUM FOR TERRESTRIAL BROADBAND USE."   which will  "SPECTRUM.—...  the Assistant Secretary shall identify and make available for immediate reallocation, at a minimum, 15 megahertz of contiguous spectrum at frequencies located between 1675 megahertz and 1710 megahertz, inclusive, minus the geographic exclusion zones, or any amendment thereof...."  That ought to put some of those allegations of corruption to bed.
Well, I'm just getting started, but if I don't watch it, this will be as long as the 155 page bill. Not that I really need to because we've all seen it all and heard it all before.  It all seems to be the same old stimulus ideas - nothing new here.  If I can find all this crap in just a few minutes,  what could an expert find?

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Now That It's Over ... Why Libya?

Now that the Libyan Kinetic Military Action is winding down, Qadaffi is on the run, and Sharia Law is being safely ensconced into the new Libyan legal system, I have to go back to wondering:  why there?  This has always been in the pile of "things that make you go WTF??" for me.  When this first started back in March, I commented on some things that just didn't seem right to me: 
To begin with, they've apparently instituted a central bank; their own version of our Federal Reserve.  I won't comment on the wisdom of a central bank, but doesn't it seem strange that a ragtag group of fighters, while not having sufficient C3I to fight a meaningful resistance still has a group that opens the "Central Bank of Benghazi", and signs an oil agreement?... Shouldn't you actually, you know, win before you do this?
and included short mention of Samantha Power (wife of the regulatory czar Cass Sunstein) and the UN Responsibility to Protect movement, (which WSRA links to today):
Second, it might mean that Responsibility to Protect stuff is just a cover.  The attention to Samantha Power, then, could be a distraction.
Still, why Libya?  Is it that they were not virulently anti-Israel enough for Samantha Power and George Soros, who has employed her in the past?   Human rights?

No doubt Daffy Qadaffi, the Transvestite of Tripoli, was not a beneficent ruler who allowed freedom for this people in absolute terms, but Libya is reported to have had the best standard of living in Africa (and here, too) so they certainly didn't have it as badly as many other populations under dictatorships. 
For Richard Falk, the UN special rapporteur for human rights in Palestine, the “degree of repression” in Libya is not "more pervasive and severe" than in other authoritarian countries. Even according to Amnesty International's country reports of human rights conditions, that of Libya differs little from many other countries; regarding the Arab allies in the NATO war alliance, such as Saudi Arabia, it is even much worse.  (source)
They publicly dismantled their WMD program in late '03 during the early phases of the Iraq war.  They were trying to open tourism with the rest of the world again.  They were, by all I can tell, not a problem in the region.  Unlike Syria, where "Butcher" Al-Assad is killing his people by the hundreds.  Unlike Sudan, where Muslims are killing Christians in prolific numbers.

If you were going to ask me to point out a global hot spot of oppression that needed to capped, Libya would not have made my list. 

No, if we were going to get rid of an oppressive dictatorship, we don't have to go over to Africa; one of the worst is right here, 90 miles from Florida.  I'm talking about Cuba, of course.  Read Babalu blog if you're not familiar with the reality of Cuba, or a nice summary of the early days of the regime, here.  It's one of the most brutally repressive regimes on earth.   I refer to Chavez in Venezuela as "Fidel's Dumber Brother".  His regime is trying to achieve the same levels of stupidity as Fidel's in Cuba.  If we just wanted to show off a bunch of military hardware, we could have off'ed Kim Jung Il and liberated North Korea, where people don't have even a tiny fraction of the quality of life of the Libyans, and where everyone is starving, even the Army (who gets more than the people).

This clearly wasn't some sort of altruistic move, motivated by higher things.  I come down to just a couple of possible reasons:
  1. Oil - for the Europeans mostly.  True, the US doesn't buy Libyan oil directly, but oil is pretty dang fungible, and any added to the world supply affects the price of all of it.  But oil was already flowing from Libya.  I doubt there's a big increase coming.
  2. Israel.  Always the center of goings on in the Middle East and north Africa, Libya just wasn't anti-Israel enough for the thug-nuts in DC. This is probably down the path a bit, but there sure is a lot of evidence that leftists and Islamists are working together to overthrow Western, free-market life.  Destroying Israel would be a big part of that.  Followed shortly thereafter by the destruction of the US. 

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Change of Plans

The QoTD yesterday ended with
I’ve just decided that I’ll be spending Sunday at the range…
Not today: Mrs. Graybeard has a bit of a cold.  Instead, I spent the day reloading .30-06 for my Remington 700 - full power loads, not a load tweaked for the Garand.  Relaxing and fun, especially compared to the problems I had with my first reloading exercise.  Not one problem, not one minute's trouble seating the large rifle primers (Winchester, not CCI).

Didn't watch much of the 9/11 festivities: hardly any at all.  I think Mark Steyn hit it out of the park, though, with his piece "Let's Roll Over".  Go read.  There's just so much weapons-grade snark in there, it doesn't do it justice to excerpt anything. 
Let’s Roll Over
We retreat to equivocation, cultural self-loathing, and utterly fraudulent misrepresentation of 9/11.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Extended Quote of the Day

Concerned American over at Western Rifle Shooter's Association links to a powerful post by Gerard Vanderleun at American Digest.  But the extended QoTD belongs to commenter Dedicated_Dad:
(... about half deleted...)

At this moment, all I can see in my head is that picture of the dirty, barefoot, stone-age tribesman in his cave, saying “… and THEN the TSA cups their balls, like THIS…”

What our DOMESTIC enemies have done to us enrages me FAR, FAR more than the acts of the foreign ones.

That I cannot get on a G-d-damned AIRPLANE without submitting to a sexual assault, EVEN THOUGH THE WORTHLESS BASTARDS HAVEN’T STOPPED A SINGLE BAD-GUY – NOT A SINGLE FRIGGING ONE , in TEN FRIGGING YEARS – makes me see frigging RED!

And that the pussies who SURROUND me have put into power a worthless turd who proclaims ME — !!*ME*!! — a “terrorist” BECAUSE I BELIEVE IN OUR FOUNDERS’ REPUBLIC AND QUOTE THEM TO EXPLAIN WHY?

It makes me long for the sort of PURGE that THEIR fellow-travellers are famous for! It makes me want to see them swinging from lamp-posts, feet kicking out the last futile gasps of their verminous existence. It makes me want to see them squirm like the filthy insects they really are, after catching a blast from the RAID can.

And it makes me SICK to think that I am capable of such thoughts.

Don’t get me wrong – I hate the musloid pestilence too, but THAT hate is the sort I’d feel for a rabid animal who’d threatened my family. I’d gladly kill it – but I wouldn’t feel GOOD about it, it would just be and unpleasant DUTY. Part of being a MAN.

No – the DOMESTIC enemies are an especially vile sort – a virulent cancer eating away at everything good, sucking the very LIFE out of the greatest nation ever blessed to inhabit G-d’s Earth – and doing it DELIBERATELY! – WITH MALICE AFORETHOUGHT! They’ve reduced the greatest people in the world to shuffling cattle, chewing their cud as they docilely wait their turn in the squeeze-chute.

“…And THEN the TSA cups their balls, like THIS…”

I’ve just decided that I’ll be spending Sunday at the range…
I will just add to this:
"... and THEN the TSA puts their hands into their wife's clothes, and then goes and puts their hands on their little daughter's crotch"

Friday, September 9, 2011

As 9/11 Approaches - 2

I listen to Michael Bane's podcast pretty regularly - maybe not the day it's posted but once a week.  Haven't missed a week since I came across it, nearly a year ago.  Michael devoted his 45 minute talk this week to his personal recollections of the aftermath of 9/11.  It's very powerful; a gut wrenching reminder of that day, and a must-listen in my book.  I've heard the observation that we never really got over 9/11, we just put it aside, and that may be the case.  As Michael points out, in our Western minds, we think of war as an extension of politics - we fight for land or warm water ports or other resources.  Instead, we're in conflict with a group that simply wants us dead and most of our society has not come to grips with that.  It's either us or them, no compromise.  What compromise are you going to offer?  Instead of killing us, why don't you just cut our legs off?  Instead of killing us, why don't you just make us really sick? 

In our politically correct society, we refuse to even name our enemy: in Hollywood, the terrorist is always a middle-aged white American.  Perhaps a returning veteran.  It's never a Muslim extremist or Islamofascist (pick your term).  We're not in a Global War on Terror (I think Tam coined the phrase "War on a Noun"); we're in a war with militant Islam, and if we can't even name what we're fighting, we have no business asking young volunteers to go into harm's way. 

This link is to the week's archive, show 229.  Until next Tuesday night, 9/13, this link will take you directly to a standalone player.  Or you can get it through iTunes or any place you download podcasts, I suspect.  I strongly recommend it. 

And as long as I'm on the topic, one of the most haunting things I've ever read was written by Dave Barry.  Dave Barry, the humor writer, the guy who wrote "Boogers Are My Beat", and a bunch of other silly, silly books, wrote the haunting piece "On Hallowed Ground".  Go read.  It's worth it.  Here's a tease.
You've been on planes. Think how it feels, especially on a morning cross-country flight. You got up early; you're tired; you've been buckled in your seat for a couple of hours, with hours more to go. You're reading, or maybe dozing. You're essentially cargo: There's nowhere you can go, nothing you can do, no role you could possibly play in flying this huge, complex machine. You retreat into your passenger cocoon, passive, trusting your fate to the hands of others, confident that they'll get you down safe, because they always do.

Now imagine what that awful morning was like for the people on Flight 93. Imagine being ripped from your safe little cocoon, discovering that the plane was now controlled by killers, that your life was in their bloody hands. Imagine knowing that there was nobody to help you, except you, and the people, mostly strangers, around you.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Cardio May Be Killing You

One of the most cherished beliefs in modern medicine, and one of the foundations of every corporate wellness program I've ever heard of, is that aerobic exercise - what most of us call cardio - is essential to health, and the more the better.  Ever since Dr. Kenneth Cooper's work on aerobics in the 1960s, cardio has been the standard recommendation.  In the 1970s, when I first started running, there was a highly publicized study that said no marathon runner had ever had a heart attack. They concluded that marathon running made you immune to heart attacks. This was bullcrap - it was pure selection bias.  When this study was done, marathon running was an obscure sport, and only a few really dedicated people ran marathons, so they were a self-selected group of very unusual people.  As the running fad spread, more and more people, with their checkered pasts, started running, and it wasn't too long before marathon runners started having heart attacks, too.

Over the course of the last few months, prompted by reading Gary Taube's "Why We Get Fat and What To Do About It", I've been going down the rabbit hole of reading tons on "alternate" nutrition, and especially the movement toward paleo dieting: an attempt to eat in ways we seem the best adapted to.  While poking around, I found this remarkable article, Cardio May Cause Heart Disease by Dr. Kurt Harris, M.D., a radiologist. It's long, and based on some preliminary evidence, but really worth reading, if you want all the details. 

The study, published in the journal Radiology in 2009, by Brueckmann and Mohlenkamp et al, is a study of a type of diagnostic imaging called Late Gadolinium Enhancement, one of the new ways to do radiographic imaging to determine if you might have damage to your heart.  Harris goes into a lot of detail on the technique and what it sees, (he is a radiologist, after all), but the important part is that in two groups (admittedly small at 100 people each): one that ran at least 3 marathons a year, and were not diagnosed with diabetes or heart disease, and another group of 100 controls who were not runners, and pretty sedentary.  Many of the control group smoked, too.  What they found was that the marathon runners, while lower in BMI, and (of course) fitter, had more signs of silent (asymptomatic) heart attacks, and damage to their hearts.  Runners had more of the typical patterns for silent heart attack damage, and a second, non-typical kind of heart attack then the sedentary people.  Because the group was small, the statistics didn't say this was significant, but it was close to the usual limit (in fact, I think it was a better association than the first second-hand smoke studies that caused the law-making).

Since most people have limited amounts of time, let me pull some summaries for you from Dr. Harris' piece: 
...I still find no grounds at all to believe that high levels of "cardio" protects your heart or makes you live longer. Certainly not "the more the better" which is what we've been led to think since the 1970s running craze.

I think a modicum of repetitive, aerobic-type physical activity can definitely improve your mood. I like to a run about 5 k a few times a week. It feels good and cross-country seems good for your coordination with all the varied terrain. A little cross-country and some sprinting sure seems to make me more functional.

I am not under the delusion that it will dramatically improve my overall health or my longevity, though. And I've seen no evidence that doing it every day or doing 5 times the mileage would be better. Just the opposite, in fact.

Same goes for eating "fruits and vegetables", gorilla levels of fiber, "antioxidants", and most supplements. No magic foods.

The really good kind of exercise, resistance training, makes you more functional and stronger. That is the only sensible definition of fitness if we follow the hippocratic oath with our selves.
Fitness and strength are good.  Cardio may be good to help prepare for the zombie apocalypse, but don't get hung up on it.

And The Sign Said the Words of the Prophets

are Written on the Subway Walls,
And Tenement Halls
Paul Simon, "The Sounds of Silence", 1965

Received this in the email this week.  I thought I'd seen in the Liberty Sphere, but don't see it looking around.  I didn't write it, but it's worth passing on:

The folks who are getting free stuff,
Don't like the folks who are paying for the free stuff.
Because the folks who are paying for the free stuff can no longer afford to pay for both the free stuff and their own stuff.

And, the folks who are paying for the free stuff, Want the free stuff to stop.
And the folks who are getting the free stuff, Want even MORE free stuff on top of the free stuff they're getting already.

Now, the people who are forcing people to PAY for the free stuff, Have told the people who are RECEIVING the free stuff,

That the people who are PAYING for the free stuff, are being mean, prejudiced and racist.

So, the people who are GETTING the free stuff, have been convinced they need to HATE the people who are PAYING
for the free stuff because they are selfish.
And they are promised more free stuff if they will vote for the people who force the people who pay for the free stuff to
give them even more free stuff.

And -- when the free stuff stops , the folks receiving the free stuff will riot, burn, steal and commit mayhem.
For the "rich" owes them! It is happening in England and coming here soon.

And that's the Straight Stuff!


Wednesday, September 7, 2011

As 9/11 Approaches

There is a handful of days that you will always remember where you were and what you were doing.  For me, those include the day John F. Kennedy was killed, the first moon landing, the days we lost space shuttles Challenger and Columbia, and 9-11.  On that Tuesday morning, I was out of the office at a company whom we contract with to do some testing on our radios.  As the technician and I were setting up the test, the company's secretary/receptionist came in and said the radio had a bulletin that an airplane had hit the World Trade Center.  My first reaction, perhaps strangely, was that radio navigation systems can't be that wrong, it must be a terrible sequence of accidents.  Act of war did not enter my mind.  As the morning went on, a TV set was put in place and large antenna hooked up outside (there are no local TV channels).  We watched and quickly realized this was no accident. That's when the thoughts of Pearl Harbor and other acts of war started.

While I don't buy the conspiracy theories, I think the way we've acted since the attacks is yet another sign of a defective government.  Terrorism isn't a crime that warrants a police action, it is an act of war that requires that kind of response.  Terrorism isn't something you can have a war with; it's a tactic of unsymmetrical warfare.  With few exceptions, we've fought as if we're afraid to win.  Afraid we'll be called "racist" by the world press.  We tie our soldiers' hands behind their back with RoE stricter than our police forces use, get them murdered by their in-country contacts, and instruct them not to fart so that they don't offend the Muslims.  

It amazes me that kids entering college probably can't remember a time when we weren't at war in Iraq and Afghanistan. 

In New York City, Mayor Bloomberg is a douche bag.  For both his Mayors Against Illegal Guns crap and the way he's treating the 9/11 Anniversary services.  I will do my best to not spend another penny in his city, until he's gone. 
From Lisa Benson at Townhall

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

News From The Granola State

With a h/t to Bayou Renaissance Man who links to an article about an initiative some group is trying to get onto the state's ballots in time for the 2012 elections. 

From the source in Business Law Daily,
California could ban lender-initiated home foreclosures, under a proposed amendment to the state’s constitution that would make home ownership a fundamental right.
Wait.  Whut???
The Foreclosure Modification Act, a proposed citizen’s initiative, would ban mortgagees from foreclosing on owner-occupied dwellings in the Golden State. It would further require banks and other lenders to help mortgage borrowers struggling amid financial hardship or illness.

Additionally, lenders would be required to reduce loan principal amounts to reflect a drop in local property values of at least 10 percent. Payments would be adjusted without a new credit review, the proposal states.
Well, that's perfect!  Home ownership is a fundamental right - not just a place to live like the glorious soviet apartment buildings: home ownership.  What could possibly go wrong here? 

I mean aside from everything. 

No company would ever offer a mortgage for sale in California again.  Why would they, if there's almost an ironclad guarantee they'll lose money?  If there's no possibility of being kicked out of your home, and if the bank has to throw away money and re-finance you, why even pay the mortgage?  How could this possibly result in any positive outcome?  Wait.  I know.  It's the unicorns (for Sept. 3).

You should go read the whole thing

Monday, September 5, 2011

Winning Through Intimidation

"Winning Through Intimidation" was a 1980s-era book about management and sales, but has often been talked about as a book about office politics (and other intimidating situations).

And intimidation is the tactic taken by Jimmy Hoffa when he made a political speech telling President Obama (who followed him on stage and expressed his admiration for the thug)
"President Obama, this is your army. We are ready to march. Let's take these son of bitches out and give America back to an America where we belong," Hoffa added.
And if that isn't enough, vice president Gaffe Machine addressed an AFL-CIO rally, telling them "you are the only folks keeping the barbarians from the gates".

So on one afternoon, enemies of the unions are "sons of bitches" that need to be "taken out", and "barbarians at the gates". 

This is all about intimidation.  Union thugs know nothing but intimidation and physical violence.  They appear incapable of winning an argument by logic and reasoning so they most often resort to intimidation, beat downs and violence  (all of these just easy pick links - take your choice from dozens). After all, if logic and reasoning were on their side, would they crank the nastiness up to 11?  They could just put forward a reasoned position in the papers and win folks over.  Instead, they believe in beating down and "punish(ing) our enemies". 

Who are they trying to intimidate?  You, of course.  You, me, everyone who might not want to fund their infinite demands out of our pockets. 

All of this reminds me of one of my favorite sayings that I'm sure everyone has seen:
Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everyone you meet.  Because they may want to kill you. 
(source)  and h/t to III Percent Patriots

Stay armed, and stay alert my friends.  Instead of rhetoric, crank the situational awareness up to 11.