Monday, April 30, 2012

The Stupidest Political Ad Ever

(from Steve Breen at Town Hall)

The stupidest political ad in history has to be the Obama campaign ad that implies making the decision to take out Osama bin Laden was some sort of brave, visionary, tough decision.

This was without a doubt the easiest decision in history. 

There was absolutely no down side to making the call and no up side to not making it.  If the raid failed, there would be some backlash from some circles, but I'd bet the vast majority of Americans would forgive the president quickly because, "at least he was trying".  The Pakistanis capturing our guys would have been the worst possible outcome, but DEVGRU against anyone in the area, with the ability to call in backup and air strikes?  There isn't a gambler in Vegas that wouldn't take that bet. 

On the other hand, if Obama didn't decide to get him, that would get out, like "hot" classified information usually does (I assume you've heard the tape of Bill Clinton talking about how he passed on taking bin Laden during his presidency - that's what I mean).  And then Obama would be demonized and hated by over 80% of the US.  It would be an automatic lifetime ban from political office.  "Dogcatcher?  The guy who didn't want to risk taking bin Laden out?"  Any president who didn't go after OBL would get the same.

Sparklies meant to distract us from the wholesale destruction going on.  That's all.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

A Project Finished, A Weekend Class

I was finally able to cut the screwdriver slot in the threaded standoff for my Savage 64F that I talked about last weekend.  Broke an end mill by feeding too fast, which means the fix cost even more, but got it cut on the second try. 
I put it in the rifle with a dab of red Loctite, and put the rifle back together.  Fits fine.  Shoots exactly as before.  A successful fix.

I realize I'm probably one of only a handful of people in America who shoots regularly that had never shot a Ruger 10/22, but I fixed that problem this weekend.  All I can say is: anybody want a Savage 64F?  Only a slight exaggeration, but that was like an entirely different class of machine; like comparing a really nice car to an econo-box.  Cadillac to Corolla?

Today, Mrs. Graybeard and I attended a Civilian Trauma Medicine first aid class.  I used to have a Red Cross first aid card - 40 years ago.  I even worked as an emergency room orderly at that time, helping the doctors with suturing, casting, even doing CPR on the hospital's "code team".  But wars always advance trauma medicine, and my (partially-recalled) knowledge has gone obsolete in places.  The combination of Gulf Wars I and II, plus Afghanistan, and the things Israel has learned from years of suicide attacks have changed some things.  With small unit tactics, maybe four to six guys, the number one rule is to win the fight and then attend to each other.  You might have to do first aid on yourself to keep fighting, or lean on your buddies groin to put pressure on his femoral artery, so that he doesn't bleed out and die while you're getting out of the mess.

I think our instructor is uniquely qualified to teach this, being a trauma specialist RN, as well as former special forces, an NRA instructor, and having worked security for the State department in Iraq, Haiti and other - shall we say, unpleasant - places.  He says the class is not for the squeamish, and it was as advertised, with plenty of pictures of IED wounds and other damage from Iraq, plus other (mostly deceased) cases from back home.  The highlight, though, was shooting a couple of pork roasts with 9mm hollowpoints and allowing us to examine, and then bandage the wound channels.  Not something I've seen in person.  BTW - what's the current recommendation for treating a gunshot?  Plug it with a tampon.  Quickclot was over used in theater and has fallen out of favor.  Last resort only.

But... tomorrow is Monday, so back to the mundane. 

Saturday, April 28, 2012

A Deep Concealment BUG

At the risk of igniting caliber wars, let me show you our BAG day booty.  Our BAG was a BUG, the North American Arms 22 Magnum with holster grip.  As you can see in this shot, this gun is about the same overall size (when folded up) as my iPhone 4.   
Let me admit I've been attracted to these little guns since before we got our CC permits in '09.  The little NAA revolver (SA only) shoots .22 Magnum (WMR), and the one we got included a second cylinder that handles .22LR. 

Took it to the range today and this little thing is hoot.  Loved it.  Mrs. Graybeard loved it.  Both of us remarked it was more fun to shoot than we thought it would be.  The .22 magnum makes a pleasingly louder bang than plain .22LR, although she prefers .357 Magnum (which is in a class of its own).  Easy to shoot one hand or off hand.  We shot at 10' or so, and it took a cylinder or two to get a feel for how it aims (there's no notch in the back to put the front blade in), but we were good with it after that.  This is not the kind of gun you're going to use for IDPA or rapid fire.  It takes a minute or so to reload.  See that pin sticking out below the barrel?  You push in on that while grasping the knurled part, and pull out the rod.  The cylinder pretty much falls out into your hand which you then unload and reload.  Once it's loaded, you rock the cylinder gently back into place and put the pin back. 
This was bought specifically as a back up gun, or for deep concealment in a place where you really have a hard time concealing.  I could carry it in a pocket of my (almost omni-present) cargo pants without anyone ever knowing.  It fits in a purse or the smallest of fanny packs. 

.22 Magnum?  Srsly?  How good are the ballistics?  They're actually pretty good.  This video from Hornady shows 11 to 12" penetration in standard gel, with the hollow point unfolding well.  This video from Brass Fetcher was with this model gun and the same round we're shooting here.   Let's face it: it's not a major caliber, but it penetrates about as well as .380ACP, one of the most popular calibers.  To paraphrase Michael Bane, though, it would be much more effective than harsh language.  Nobody likes to leak.  Get a couple of holes into them and the typical street toad might change his plans for the day. 
This is summer in Florida, when you have to dress lightly or die.  It would fit in perfectly in my cargo shorts and tee shirt summer wear, and anything Mrs. Graybeard would wear or carry, too. 

Friday, April 27, 2012

NC Blogger Facing Jail Time

In one of the most ridiculous stories in weeks, a blogger from North Carolina was threatened with up to 120 days in jail for telling people about how changing his diet helped him control his diabetes and loose weight.  According to Reason Magazine (h/t to The Blaze):
[When] Steve Cooksey...was hospitalized with diabetes in February 2009, he decided to avoid the fate of his grandmother, who eventually died of the disease. He embraced the low-carb, high-protein Paleo diet, also known as the “caveman” or “hunter-gatherer” diet. The diet, he said, made him drug- and insulin-free within 30 days. By May of that year, he had lost 45 pounds and decided to start a blog about his success.

But this past January the state diatetics and nutrition board decided Cooksey’s blog — — violated state law. The nutritional advice Cooksey provides on the site amounts to “practicing nutrition,” the board’s director says, and in North Carolina that’s something you need a license to do.
It's probably a safe assumption that most people don't pay much attention to diabetes issues unless they have it.  The only reason I pay attention is because I'm the only one in my family blood line that doesn't have type II diabetes - and I'm closer than I'd like to be.  If you don't follow it closely, you won't know there is a massive schism between people who proactively attack their diabetes in an attempt to escape the complications (virtually all amputations in the US are due to diabetes) and the dietary recommendations of the American Diabetes Association.  The ADA recommends a diet high in carbohydrate in the form of "healthy whole grains", but the folks who attack the problem have (seems to me) all learned the best treatment is a low (or even zero) carbohydrate diet - the opposite of the ADA's approach.  While the ADA recently published a magazine article saying, in essence, "shut up, take your medicine and do what we say", the people following the alternate theory end up getting off medications and even off insulin, like Cooksey.  Seems to me that has to be safer.

So Cooksey's crime was to contradict the ADA advice - even though he has a disclaimer on every page of his blog saying:
I am not a doctor, dietitian nor nutritionist… in fact I have no medical training of any kind. If I can figure this out so should they… if it wasn’t for their …
A) Intellectual Laziness
B) Willful ignorance
C) Greed
D) All of the Above :)
(Copied from the bottom of his webpage).

Bouncing back to the original Reason article:
Charla Burill, the board’s director, told Carolina Journal she could not discuss the details of Cooksey’s case because his website is still under investigation, but agreed to talk about the law in the hypothetical....

Burill said [Cooksey's] disclaimer may not protect a nutrition blogger from the law.

“If I’ve given you reason to not worry that I don’t have a license because I have all these other reasons I’m an expert, you could still harm the public,” she said. “At least you’re not trying to mislead the public, but you’re trying to get the public to trust you.”....

Burill said if Cooksey refuses to come into compliance with the law, the board could file for an injunction.
If you only knew the power of the Dark Side!  Oops, sorry.  Did I say that out loud?

Since Mr. Cooksey isn't made of money and is just an average blogger (like most of us), he has done just enough to comply with the North Carolina officials.  Between you and me, I don't think there's much of a line between an opinionated blogger (I repeat myself) and a friend telling you they lost weight, feel great, and here's how they did it. Is the next step to monitor conversations and make people not talk unless it's approved by the board?  What about the dozens of magazines on the newstand every month doing the same thing?  What about Michelle Obama's nagging about "eating right"?  What's the difference? 

Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Administration's Attacks on Ted Nugent

We all saw the video of Ted Nugent's statement at the NRA convention.  Personally, I understood it to mean that Ted felt that if president Obama is re-elected, the DOJ will come up with some pretense to take him out - not that Ted would threaten the president in any way. It's not like the DOJ hasn't demonstrated that they can accept tons of bodies to get what they want; what does Fast and Furious prove, after all, if not that they'd accept hundreds of dead Mexicans (not to mention a few of their own co-workers/employees!) to get their way on the anti-gun agenda?

Watch this carefully!  You or I could be next.

Agent John Loughlin of California Fish and Wildlife, leading a pre-dawn, guns-drawn raid on friends of Ted Nugent, holding up a pair of brass knuckles he found, and telling the gunsmith homeowner, "Help us get Nugent and these felony brass knuckles will go away".

Note how they emphasize felony convictions, so they can keep Ted from owning a gun ever again, and keep this gunsmith from working in his chosen career.  Remember the argument that every day everyone of us violates three federal laws?  That Mens Rea is no longer being used to decide prosecution?

According to Nuge, they have been hounding him essentially for the entire Obama administration.  It doesn't surprise me that he would figure that if the regime stays in power, they'll come up with ways to take him down for good.  It's the Chicago mafia's way.

Oh, this interview also explains his run in with the Michigan DNR that led to him putting down his own pigs, and equally insane events on his game ranch in Texas.
Every normal man must be tempted, at times, to spit upon his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin slitting throats.  - H.L. Mencken

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Continuing the Solar Panel Project - Building It

The main advantage of drawing up the solar panel project in CAD like I did is that I can get dimensioned drawings and then know the list of materials I need to get in order to build it. 
As you can see, the sides are about 36" long, the top and bottom pieces just under 20", and the uprights about 30".  No dimensions are critical - they'll be cut to final length later.

But what to build it out of?  It's certainly possible to use wood or whatever you're used to, but I'm leaning toward the elegant system sold by 80/20 Inc. "The Industrial Erector Set".  80/20 specializes in aluminum extrusions, but it is a system, not just parts, and they have everything you need to do just about anything with their extrusions.  They sell parts to make easy right angle joints, and other ways to join pieces.  They also give away a little piece of software that will help you determine whether your design is strong enough.  In my case, simple 1" square extrusion, their 1010 series, is plenty strong enough. It looks like this:
If they don't have a handy distributor that will sell to you, they run an eBay store where they sell "garage sale" items. 

No connection, no kickbacks, I couldn't care less if you did it this way, yada, yada, yada.  See my disclaimer on the right sidebar.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

A New Permalink

I've spent most of my useful time tonight pulling together all my previous posts on post-SHTF communication, and that also includes after the shutdown of the Internet.  Over in my pages list on the right column. 

Better yet, click-y here.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Maybe Not Cowboys

A friend at work sent me this kind of old article (Feb.'08) from Wired magazine: "High Tech Cowboys of the Deep Seas", the story of salvage companies who save ships in incredibly difficult troubles.  The article (a bit long) covers the rescue of the Cougar Ace, a ship loaded with Mazdas headed for the US, when this happened:
The story is centered on Titan Salvage out of Pompano, Florida - just north of Ft. Lauderdale, and a place I know well.  Used to go through it every day on the way to and from work. 

They reminded me not so much of cowboys, but of Red Adair, Boots and Coots, and the other companies that put out the Kuwaiti oil fires.  Extremely competent, hard working, and ready to take on life threatening work that few people could possibly do.

Maybe not cowboys.  Maybe just Texans. 

Must Watch Video

Courtesy of SnarkyBytes

Not much I can add to that.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Best Laid Plans

Didn't get as much time to work on my threaded stand off today, but I tapped the 12-32 NEF internal thread and then relieved it 1/10 inch at the top, as the original is.  That sort of stuff takes a few minutes.  I didn't cut the slot, which is a 1/16" wide slot that appears to be for driving it with a large screwdriver.  This top picture has the screw that it will work in most of the way in place. 
The slot is probably one pass on the mill (I need to look at that and see how deep the cut is to be sure).  It will definitely take more time to set up the cut than to make it.  I just ran out of time to get it done today. 

Saturday, April 21, 2012

A Typical Gunsmithing Problem

About a 18 months ago, I bought a couple of Savage 64F, semiauto .22 rifles.  They're fine, modern rifles, and similar to the same price class ($150-ish retail) rifles from other sellers. 
Like many other rifles in its class, the stock has to be removed to clean it, and some disassembly is required.  This is where the problem starts.  This picture shows the barrel, trigger assembly, magazine holder - pretty much everything besides the stock, upside down in a gun vise:
To the left of the magazine holder (sticking up with a "keystone" shape opening) is a screw with lockwasher, and an open hole to its left.  What goes in that hole is a round piece of steel: one end of this is an external threaded stud to screw into that hole, and a tapped hole on the other.  The internal threaded hole receives a screw that holds on the stock - there are two screws and the other one goes in that tall hex-nut on the right.  Somehow, that threaded hole on the left in the rifle got barfed up.  

This is the piece that goes in that hole.  It's about 3/4 inch long and .450 diameter (the round part).  It doesn't appear to be any sort of high-zoot alloy, and is finished in "something black".  I was able to get a replacement from Savage, but that didn't solve my problem (I didn't know threads in the rifle upper were damaged until I got this).  The threaded stud on the top of the piece is 10-32.  The internal thread is an odd one: #12-32. 

When the threads in a hole get barfed, there's not much you can do except tap it for a larger hole or weld some filler into it and try to drill and tap it again.  Since I don't have welding stuff, adding filler is out.

On the other hand, I do have a micro lathe, so I decided to make another one of these threaded pieces, and make the 10-32 stud into 12-32 as well.  Then I'll tap the rifle for 12-32 and see if I can get it back together.  My local Grainger didn't have any 12-32 taps, but Midway did.  If 12-32 doesn't hold, I either will go to 1/4", or it's time to scrap it. 

And that's how I spent my Saturday.  I have a few feet of steel bar - 12L14 a general purpose alloy that machines easily.   First, I cut a long enough bar to machine what you see there, then turned the large and small diameters.  Next, I cut the threads on the stud portion with single point threading on the lathe.  I used the replacement from Savage to test the 12-32 threads I cut - they thread together fine (I don't have any other 12-32 hardware, and it's always reassuring to check threads you've cut).  The only things left to do in the morning are thread the internal hole in the steel with the Midway tap, and put a screw driver slot in it (visible bottom left in that picture).  I'll have more info tomorrow. 

Friday, April 20, 2012

Friday Night Odds and Ends

To begin with, if you are even remotely interested in astronomy and things going on in the sky, you might want to find someplace or some way to observe the coming transit of Venus.  A planetary transit like this is when the planet crosses the disk of the sun as seen from Earth.  In North America, where most of my readers are, at least some portions of the transit will be visible on the evening of Tuesday, June 5th.  Alaska, Hawaii, and the pacific west of there will see the entire transit, with the transit occuring at sunrise over Europe, east Africa, the Indian subcontinent and the Mideast.
This is an extremely rare event!  I believe there have been seven observed since the invention of the telescope.  Due to the angles between Earth's and Venus' orbits, you get a pair of Venus transits eight years apart (we had one in '04), and then not again for a long time.  The next one will be in 2117 - not only is this the last chance of our lives to see one, but the last of our children's lives and likely our grandchildren's lives.  Our newly arrived granddaughter will have to live to 105 to see one.

This being Florida, we were clouded out of the 2004 transit.  I would like to see this one - with my own eyes.  Yes, I have a solar filter that allows use of a telescope.  If need be, I'll watch it online.  More details here.

I've mentioned before that I don't particularly believe in the concept of peak oil, at least as most commentators use it.  In an even remotely working market, as the price of one fuel rises, research into alternatives picks up (all without the getting involved) as inventors jockey to be the next godzillionaire, and we transition between fuels.  Energy Efficiency and Technology magazine editor Leland Tesch writes on the subject this month
To understand this viewpoint, one has to go back to the originator of the peak oil theory, the geologist M. King Hubbert. Hubbert’s theory argues that world oil output is currently at or near the highest level it will ever reach, and that about half the world’s oil resources have already been produced. Hubbert devised his peak theory in 1956. He claimed U.S. oil production would likely peak somewhere between 1965 and 1970 -- reaching a point that became known as Hubbert’s Peak -- and then precipitously decline.
The problem with Hubbert's idea is that he used a simple statistical model and never accounted for the greater incentive to get more oil (or anything) as it becomes more valuable.
For example, only about 40% of the typical oil field’s production comes through traditional methods. New technology gets more production out of existing fields. And this is why a declining discovery rate for new oil fields is not a trend to worry about, says Yergin. Most of the world’s supply is not the result of new discoveries, but comes from additions to existing reserves. One study by the U.S. Geological Survey found that 86% of oil reserves in the U.S. arise not from estimates at the time the field was discovered, but from revisions and additions that come to light as the field is developed.
The end result is that fields reach a plateau and taper off slowly.  It's one reason why our known oil reserves are greater now than 10 years ago.  

Is there a limited amount of oil on Earth?  Of course, Earth itself is finite, so that's not even the question.  I just don't believe anyone knows how much.  There is evidence old, abandoned oil wells refill from below, and there's a competing (abiotic) theory to oil formation that says oil is component of planets when they form, not just  fossil organic matter as most people think. 
Production at the oil field, deep in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Louisiana, was supposed to have declined years ago. And for a while, it behaved like any normal field: Following its 1973 discovery, Eugene Island 330's output peaked at about 15,000 barrels a day. By 1989, production had slowed to about 4,000 barrels a day.

Then suddenly—some say almost inexplicably—Eugene Island's fortunes reversed. The field, operated by PennzEnergy Co., is now producing 13,000 barrels a day, and probable reserves have rocketed to more than 400 million barrels from 60 million. Stranger still, scientists studying the field say the crude coming out of the pipe is of a geological age quite different from the oil that gushed 10 years ago.
Insert my usual rant that if the government and other toxic do-gooders would just leave the darned economy alone,  things would work themselves out just fine.

Finally, I think everyone knows how businesses act like they're actors in porn films; banks in particular check into sleazy hotels and merge repeatedly with every other bank in the world.  "Hey big fella, show me your CDOs".

Two days ago, an unsolicited replacement for one of my Mastercards came in the mail.  I had gotten it from Southeast Bank decades ago.  Over the decades, a list of big banks owned the account and reissued the card: Southeast, First Union, Wachovia, Washington Mutual and now Wells Fargo.  The new card, two days ago, was another reissue, this time by Bank of America

Coincidentally, today it's being widely reported in the gun blogs that BoA dropped McMillan USA as a customer because they are "more of a firearms manufacturer than a supplier of accessories".

Sure looks like it's time to call BoA and tell them I don't want to be a customer of any company that doesn't believe in civil rights.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Shooting Pigs in Michigan

It's the same old story:  big business gets the state legislature to change the definition of feral from "wild" to "not belonging to Big Agra".   All of a sudden anyone who isn't an approved "only one who can farm" gets their pigs killed - or sent to jail. 

John Robb has the story.  You are reading John, right?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Ben Bernanke on Friday 13th

Turns out Friday the 13th was a big day this year.

First: the government moved to  choke off the booming US natural gas market, with the Orwellian-named, “Supporting Safe and Responsible Development of Unconventional Domestic Natural Gas Resources” executive order (h/t RegT).  The rule is designed to add lots of overhead costs by adding oversight from at least a dozen departments and agencies of the hydra.  Keeping costs high will help Obama maintain his policy to make energy prices "necessarily skyrocket".

Second: Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke ("The Bernank") gave a memorable talk on the topic of "Rethinking Finance" - and the Fed definitely needs to rethink what they're doing.  The speech is entitled, "Some Reflections on the Crisis and the Policy Response", and the whole, mind-numblingly boring collection of Fed Doublespeak is here.  It leaves you with the impression that Bernanke and all the central bankers live in a different world than we do. 

Gary North, financial commentator at Lew Rockwell, posts a pretty witty fisking of the speech, "Ben Bernanke's Judy Garland Impersonation". Let's start here:
He [Bernanke] ended his speech with this:
The financial crisis of 2007-09 was difficult to anticipate for two reasons: First, financial panics, being to a significant extent self-fulfilling crises of confidence, are inherently difficult to foresee.
This is wrong on two counts. First, in a free market, there are no self-fulfilling prophecies. That is because of the widespread distribution of knowledge. A self-fulfilling prophecy is said to take place because lots of people expect it to happen. But why would lots of people expect it to happen? Because (1) there is something fundamental taking place and (2) people share the same economic theory.
Self-fulfilling crises?  How could that happen?  That's saying markets don't work.  But seriously, Ben, just about everyone knew there was a housing bubble; you'd have to be an intellectual or central banker to not see something so obvious.  And bubbles depend on monetary policy to inflate them.
Ludwig von Mises asked this question: Why do so many entrepreneurs make the same mistakes at the same time? His answer: there must have been misinformation conveyed to almost all market participants. But how? Because of central bank tampering with the money supply. Money is the common commodity. It conveys information to most participants. To find why people make the same mistakes at the same time, he said, look at monetary policy of the central bank and fractional reserve commercial banks.
The whole thing is worth reading.  Just the dated quotes of Bernanke saying completely wrong things are worth your time. 

They way I see things, Bernanke has been on a Public Relations push to keep the "end the Fed" folks from gaining an upper hand and forcing him to resort to open attacks ("You wouldn't like me when I'm angry").  And I think from a historical standpoint, if when the economy goes south, guys like Ben might end up on light poles.  It wouldn't be the first time.  The problem is, when they try to convince you nobody knew the '08 collapse was coming, that's a bad lie.  Too many people know it was predicted, and a lot of Austrian economists predicted it; here's a nice partial listing.
Last week, Pimco's El-Erian threatened to deplete their supply of adjectives based on "sustainable" when he said,
"In the last three plus years, central banks have had little choice but to do the unsustainable in order to sustain the unsustainable until others do the sustainable to restore sustainability!"
The short version of this is that the banks are running against marginal utility limits.  They've created so much worthless "money" that each new unit has even less value than the one before it.  It's becoming worth less of the worthless money.  This can only go on so long.  It's going to end, and it's not going to be pretty. 
Somewhere over the rainbow
Way up high,
There's a land that I heard of
Once in a lullaby.

Somewhere over the rainbow
Skies are blue,
And the dreams that you dare to dream
Really do come true.

Someday I'll wish upon a star
And wake up where the clouds are far
Behind me.
Where troubles melt like lemon drops
Away above the chimney tops
That's where you'll find me.

Somewhere over the rainbow
Bluebirds fly.
Birds fly over the rainbow.
Why then, oh why can't I?

If happy little bluebirds fly
Beyond the rainbow
Why, oh why can't I?

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

New Corruption, Same Old Fascism

I just watched the best investigative report I've seen in ages.  The story is now online at The Blaze.  Like a Grand Unified Theory in physics, it pulls together various things that appear unrelated and explains them as portions of one big jigsaw puzzle.

Let me start out with a disclaimer: I've already written a few times that (1) I think Warren Buffett is a stinking hypocrite and (2) the so-called "Buffett Rule" is just a political wedge ploy designed to peel off groups of voters into Stupid or Evil party votes.  I have not specifically called him a criminal crony capitalist; that's tonight's mission.

Did Buffett Help Obama Kill Keystone Pipeline to Reap Financial Gain?

Let's start, as Beck did, with the run up to the election of the resident.  Buffet was courted by both John McCain and BO.  For reasons that we didn't know at the time, Buffet sided with Obama.  When Buffett claimed his secretary pays more tax on her income than he does - a blatant lie, deliberately conflating dividend income with ordinary income - that was the opening round.  This was done as a favor for the Marxist's divide and conquer strategy, a tactic that will be used until the election, that story link is one day before my column on the topic was posted August 15, 2011: late last summer.  Before this date, November of 2009, Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway bought up rest of the Burlington Northern Railroad that they didn't already own.  Just a coincidence, for sure. 

Fast forward to this year.  The Transcanada Keystone XL pipeline is, in review, a projected pipeline that has been in the approval cycle for over three years.  This pipeline is intended to bring oil from the tar sands of Alberta, Canada to the Gulf of Mexico (map source)
Last fall, this seemed like a "done deal".  The State Department had approved it, EPA approved it, everyone approved it.  In fact, the greens were complaining that the process went so smoothly that someone had to be corrupt.  Then the President killed the project. 

Now that oil has to go somewhere.  It may go to China via tankers loaded on ports in British Columbia, but it also may be used in the US and go to those refineries on the Gulf Coast.  But more and more, it looks like instead of pipeline the oil will be going by (wait for it) ... Warren Buffet's Burlington Northern Railroad.  How convenient! It allows Obama to appeal to his watermelon socialist base, help keep the price of oil from dropping too much (also clearly an aim of the Obama administration), and it will pour money into Buffett's empire. 

Now there's more corruption to this tale than this, and I recommend you read the whole thing (and watch the videos).  It appears that Nebraska senator Ben Nelson is up to his ass... up to his Ben Nelson in this, too.  See, Senator Nelson owns millions of dollars worth of Berkshire Hathaway stock and has acted to protect both Buffett's and his own money.  It makes sense - having more stooges along the way who will make money from this will help Buffett manipulate the congress as he needs to. 

So what this looks like is Warren Buffet made a deal with Obama promising to help Obama win reelection by helping with the class warfare, if Obama would force the oil from the pipeline onto rail tankers that he owned.  Classic Washington "I'll scratch your back if you scratch mine" corruption. 

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Busting the "Growing Income Inequality" Myth

One could myth bust all day, and I've done some of it around here.  The myths about taxation and how little the "rich" pay is one of my frequent topics (here, for 'zample).  Today, I want to take on one of things you'll hear every day.

Myth: the gap between rich and poor is growing in America.

This idea shows up all the time, and you can bet you'll hear it as the smear campaign against capitalism that's going on now accelerates into attacks on Romney*. The guys at the Political Calculations blog took advantage of the Census Bureau data to show just how much it has changed.  The calculation is called the Gini Coefficient or Gini Index, and the value for the US since 1994 looks like this:
Although this data set only goes back to 1994, it seems that if there was a big change, it would be visible in the data.  The Gini Coefficient is a measure of how much distribution there is in a variable.  If one person (or a tiny group) had all of the income in the US, the value would be 1.0.  If everyone had exactly the same income (socialist paradise), the Gini value would be 0.  The tiny change (I don't know if it's really statistically significant) is in the direction opposite of what we hear all the time; toward more equal incomes.  What about before 1994?  Ivan Kitof has done a similar analysis that goes back to 1947 (rather dense and chunky pdf here) that shows very similar trends.  His conclusion:
In fact, the Gini curve associated with the fine PIDs is a constant near 0.51 between 1960 and 2005 despite a significant increase in the GPI/GDP ratio and the portion of people with income during this period (see Figure 1). This is a crucial observation because of the famous discussion on the increasing inequality in the USA as presented by the Gini coefficient for households (US CB, 2000). Obviously, the increasing G for households reflects some changes in their composition, i.e. social processes, but not economic processes as defined by distribution of personal incomes.
Taking his lead in the last sentences, if you do the same calculations to look at Gini Coefficient for families and households, you see a slight difference:
The Gini Index for families or households does show a small movement toward more concentration of income in a smaller number of people - but is "income inequality" the only explanation?  Since the Gini Index for individuals has not shown that change, you ask how can individuals have the same (or more) of a share of the wealth, while families have less?  It implies that the difference is due to lower income households, and a very reasonable explanation is the increase in single parent households.  For an example, consider a two parent household with each making $50,000.  If they divorce, the two household or family income go down, while individual income stays the same (notice that if one became unemployed, the individual incomes and family incomes would both go down).

So the policies that cause the destruction of the family - policies the left adores - lead to what little evidence there is for the income inequality they complain about.  I have a better idea: stop trying to destroy the family. 

* Obligatory disclaimer about Romney.  The other day I wrote
The difference between Romney and Obama is pretty much like the difference between getting run through the abdomen with a machete and left to bleed out, or a double tap through the aorta.  The end result is pretty much going to be the same, it's just a matter of speed.  In a way, your choice of candidate may be determined by whether you're the kind of person who likes to pull the band-aid off all at once, or prolong the pain at lower levels. 
 While I tend to rip the bandaid off all at once, as Tam said here;
Hey, Sparky, go do a Google image search for "Civilian taking a dump in a frozen shell crater in Sarajevo, 1995." Does he look like he's having fun? 'Cause that was frickin' Yugoslavia; they had to go steal guns from the army to get their civil war on. If the lid ever comes off this pressure cooker for realz, it's gonna make Yugoslavia look like a Sunday school picnic.
What appears to be coming may be worth taking the machete to gut and hoping against hope to survive.  

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Tales From the Over Regulated State - A Series

Today, a couple of classic examples of how our government favors large businesses over small businesses.

Their thinking goes like this: large businesses can give us more money.  Large businesses don't like small businesses.  Let's create laws that small businesses can't afford.  That will destroy them and allow the large businesses to make more money, which we can demand in tribute.

This story comes from PJ Tatler.  Meet Sabrina Loving.  Ms. Loving was working in the mortgage industry as it came to a crashing collapse in 2007/08. Unemployed, she started a small business on Chicago’s South Side to provide financial advice to low income minority customers.  Watch her story here:

Quoting from the PJ Tatler piece:
Now the IRS is saying these rules are necessary to root out unscrupulous tax return preparers and to cut down on erroneous reports, but the solution the IRS proposes does not solve the problem: it would only drive bad tax preparers underground with no way to regulate them at all. And worse, it would put honest accountants out of business.

And if that’s not enough, let’s look at how the IRS is applying these rules. Large tax chains like H&R Block and Jackson Hewitt don’t need to meet these requirements — yet small tax prep companies do. And if you are registered with the CPA you also don’t have to worry about adhering to the new regulations.

Simply put, these new rules will not make independent tax preparers better at their jobs, they are in place to force them out of business for the benefit of larger tax prep chains.
This is a simple example of a common tactic.  The big tax preparers are exempt, and the professional society-blessed CPA preparers are exempt: only the small business just trying to help people (and make a living, of course) are the targets.  It's like the consumer product safety bill I talked about two years ago, where small American businesses are shut down because they can't afford the tests, but continues to ship toys made out of every kind of toxic crap this side of radioactive waste.

Probably the most common tactic that businesses use to suppress competition is to get licensing laws passed.  There has been a nationwide push to force women who do hair braiding - these are typically poor African women immigrants - to get state cosmetology licenses  (summary here).  The money quote:
Who is snitching to the feds about these illegal shops? Surprisingly, licensed cosmetologists are up in arms about these "illegal" braiding businesses.
These licensed cosmetologists want to force these women to fork out money, which the local governments are only too eager to take, to protect the citizenry from... incompetent braiding?  Srsly?  How much money do these low end businesses need to put up?  That post offers only one example:
In Illinois, it takes a total of 1,500 hours and $15,000 to legitimize yourself as a braider, then a person can apply for her license.
How much licensing is necessary?  I can't say.  In my state (Florida) they regulate roofers and other construction businesses primarily because of shoddy workers making the rounds after hurricanes.  Although I still believe caveat emptor should rule as a policy, insurance companies will only pay for roofers who the state certifies.  A three way business/government back scratching.  Have some people been subjected to shoddy work when they needed a roof rebuilt?  I'm sure.  Does this really help?  I'm much less sure.

An acquaintance of mine used to do manicures for women who couldn't pay for it; to help them look better or feel better for a job interview or "just because".  She was shut down because she wasn't state licensed.  Did this serve the state's best interest?

This sort of law is always going to pass.  There is simply no political downside to saying we want better trained tax preparers, hair braiders, or roofers.  It sounds reasonable. No one votes against a toy safety act because they don't want to be painted as someone who feels kids should get hurt by unsafe toys.  No one ever questions whether the laws actually do any good, they just write more laws.  And the noose around our collective necks tightens just a little more with every new regulation.    

Friday, April 13, 2012

The Latest Movies - A Month Late

As my last days of two weeks off dwindle away, Mrs. Graybeard and I went to see John Carter, the Disney version of Edgar Rice Burroughs' classic John Carter of Mars. 

Not having read the books, it was just a fun romp for me.  I did some reading about the story before going and it has some quite interesting ideas for its time - the novel appeared in 1912.  Shape shifters?  Teleportation?  And yet, Burroughs is probably best known for Tarzan.   
Lynn Collins as Dejah Thoris and Taylor Kitsch as John Carter.  Photo source

At this rate, I have another month until I go see the Hunger Games... 

Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Enemy Within

You know that serious talk about "enemies, foreign and domestic".  One domestic enemy coming right up:

There's a lot of important stuff in there, but have some more overview:

And finally:

Hat tip to Glenn Beck and his network, GBTV,  both for doing it, and for making it available as free content.
In 1996, Louis Farrakhan embarked on a 20 nation tour of the Middle East and Africa. He met with some of the world’s most brutal dictators. He told the Iranian press, “God will not give Japan or Europe the honor of bringing down the United States; this is an honor God will bestow upon Muslims.” In Iraq, he met with leaders who spoke of attacking the United States. In Libya, he met with his longtime friend Muammar Gaddafi and received the Gaddafi prize for human rights. He defended Gaddafi until his death. Farrakhan regularly preaches hate against the U.S. government, and he believes America will soon have to answer for her injustices. (emphasis added - SiGB)

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Everybody's Doing It

It appears that all except for some formality, we now know the 2012 presidential campaign is going to be Romney vs. Obama.  Just as everyone said last year at this time.

Smart guys have commented on this already, and you'll get much more.  So here's my two cents worth.

The difference between Romney and Obama is pretty much like the difference between getting run through the abdomen with a machete and left to bleed out, or a double tap through the aorta.  The end result is pretty much going to be the same, it's just a matter of speed.  In a way, your choice of candidate may be determined by whether you're the kind of person who likes to pull the band-aid off all at once, or prolong the pain at lower levels. 

There are many arguments you're going to hear in the next seven months.  Obama clearly views the US in the terms that anti-colonialists and communists use; his book was called "Dreams From My Father", after all,  not "Dreams of My Father" and his father was, by all accounts I can find, pretty much a scumbag and damned poor example of fatherhood.  As if this wasn't bad enough, his "second father" (biggest influence) was Frank Marshall Davis, acknowledged communist, poet and apparent pedophile, who was Obama's biggest influence from about age 11 to 18. 

Romney is without doubt not as determined to destroy the US of our heritage as Obama clearly is; in fact, I'm sure he'd view everything he does as good for the US.  Romney simply seems to be a technocrat with a preference for government solutions.  Romney understands economics and business, and is more likely to undo some of the job-destructive policies of the last years.  Should he be elected, though, the media's anti-Bush "a jobless recovery isn't a recovery" meme is going to pop up again, in quadraphonic sound (that is, from ABC, CBS, NBC and PBS).  He will be hammered for being one of the "1%" and "out of touch with regular people".  The (outright lie) that the top 1% pays lower income tax than "regular people" is apparently going to be the cornerstone of the campaign - as far as we can see now.  

While Obama may understand the difference between tax rates and tax revenues, you couldn't tell by his campaign addresses, and he has clearly decided to base this campaign on class warfare and hatred instead of "hope 'n change".  The "Buffet Rule" (which Obama wants to call the Reagan Rule) is clearly going to do nothing to impact the deficits; it's going to raise about $47 billion in ten years.  You know they always say these things in a way that makes you divide by 10, but the plans always rely on more money in later years, so while I bet the first year is not $4.7 billion - let's say it is that much.  That is about one day's deficit in 2012 - and that's assuming 365 days working, not just 5 day work weeks. 

With a billion dollars of money being raised by Obama (I understand they're allowing those illegal anonymous foreign donors again) you can bet it will make the boiling mud pots at Yellowstone look like a minor warmup.
Edit 2125EDT: Got a link wrong.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

I Am On Vacation, After All

(Source page)

Regrettably, vacation involves planting sod plugs, waxing cars, and visiting the dentist to get an old filling replaced, not emulating my furry little friend here.  There should be a day or so of rest in there somewhere. 

Monday, April 9, 2012

The Gathering Storm

Fellow Florida gun blogger Gun Shy at Around O-Town Orlando has done a much, much better job of chronicling the events surrounding the Martin/Zimmerman shooting than I have, perhaps because Seminole is closer to his backyard than mine.  To be honest, I've been ignoring it because it's impossible for us to know what happened that night.  Only two people really know the events of that night, and one of them is dead.

It has been stupid of me to not report on it because it is being used to fan the flames of a full-blown race war.  The forces that want to create a civil war to bring down the country are absolutely using this.  Case in point is the New Black Panthers and this astonishing audio captured and reported by The Blaze. Gun Shy also linked to the original audio on Breitbart.
Williams: I just want to say to all the listeners on this phone call, that if you are having any doubt about getting suited, booted, and armed up for this race war that we’re in that has never ended, let me tell you somethin…the thing that’s about to happen these honkies, these crackers, these pigs, these people, these motherf*er…it has been long overdue.”
If that's not vivid enough for you:
Kweli: “Ya, what she said was right– we got to suit up and boot up…and get prepared for the war that we’re in…this stuff got to boil over, and all your great’s talked about that happened to be bloodshed involved with revolution- true revolution means some bloodshed, so there‘s blood being spilled because there’s a new life that is beyond this bloodshed.  There is a new reality that is built upon your original African principles and spiritualities and values and norms that is beyond this bloodshed.  But we gotta go do it.

“And as the Scripture said, you gotta to cross it.  We gon’ have to cross the Red Sea…I know y’all thought it was talking about some sea in some Middle Eastern part of the world- hell noWe’re talking about some blood.  You’re gonna have to cross some blood, and go through some blood and some battles.

“And there are those who wish they could stand in this hour, to see the destruction of the devil‘s world and the devil’s society- and I‘m ain’t talking about no dude underneath the ground with a pitchfork and pantyhose.  I’m talking about that blonde haired, blue-eyed, sometimes brown-eyed, Caucasian walkin around with a mindset, a demonistic mindset, and a nature to do evil and brutality.”
You should listen to the whole thing.  
Now maybe the NBP really is a party that's only taken seriously by its own members - at least that's what Evil Party commentator/apologist Kirsten Powers recently said.  Maybe so, but tell that to the unfortunate elderly man set upon by young black kids with hammers in Sanford, also in Seminole county.  (That's attack with a deadly weapon, for you Brady or CSGV shills)  Or tell it to the 27 year old man in Gainesville who reports a group of five black men yelled "Trayvon" before beating him.  Or the 78 year old man beaten in Toledo, Ohio, by a group of six juveniles who shouted,
A police report said the boys repeatedly kicked him, shouting: "[Get] that white [man]. This is for Trayvon ... Trayvon lives, white [man]. Kill that white [man]."
In Toledo, Ohio?  Something like 1200 miles from anyone remotely connected with Trayvon Martin or George Zimmerman?? 

Bayou Renaissance Man brings a good summary in Racism, as Uncovered by the Trayvon Martin Affair, and, in turn, quotes from Fred Reed:
The web groans under furious denunciations of Zimmerman as a racist, cracker, redneck thug, bigot. Various blacks vow revenge. The characteristic self-pity and sense of victimhood run in full flood without a trace of thought. If Jesse Jackson has been quoted correctly, he said, “blacks are under attack” and “targeting, arresting, convicting blacks and ultimately killing us is big business.” Oh sure. Jackson, no fool, knows better, but plies his trade.

Practically speaking, it doesn’t matter what happened to Trayvon. Millions of blacks are going to believe that an innocent upstanding young black kid was murdered by a racist white because he as black. The view is visceral, irrational, unconcerned with facts, and based on the bedrock of the understanding of blacks: We are victims of Whitey.

The facts are that racial attacks by blacks against whites, against Asians, are far, far more common than attacks by whites or Asians against blacks. A glance at the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports, or the National Crime Victimization Survey, makes this obvious. Every cop knows it. I suspect that almost everyone knows it, though many don’t want to say it.
There are clearly forces in our society who want a race war. It's just the kind of thing that could allow the suspension of elections, or create the outcry from the general public to "make it stop", so the Fed.Gov and crack down and remove the last vestiges of civil liberty.  When the need arises for serious self defense, well, you know...

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Sometimes, Things Take Care of Themselves

Off on another tangent, I want to open with something you've seen but may have never actually noticed or thought about.  For this concept, observe this photo of the well-known Piper Cherokee airplane:
Pilots may skip a few paragraphs and come back later, but I want to draw your attention to the angles the wings make with the horizontal.  Notice how they don't make a line parallel to the ground?  Do you know why? 

One of the things most people don't "get" about aircraft wings is that there is a small range of angles over which they provide lift, and a very small range for optimum performance.  A wing provides the most lift (vertical force to counter gravity) when it's parallel to the ground,  In addition, the angle of attack - the angle that wing makes in the front/back direction - is carefully controlled, and usually small.  Most airfoil designs provide increasing lift with angle and then suddenly stop lifting (called a "stall" - but has nothing to do with the engine) when the angle of attack is beyond about 30 degrees.  Ever notice that most airplanes land at a shallow angle, and take off at about 10-15 degrees? 

The reason the Cherokee's wings angle like this is that they make the plane easier to fly by providing an automatic, hands-off control system that corrects for minor errors in handling or wind differences.  If one wing were to get more lift than the other, due to minor variations in the controls, that wing will start to lift, rotating the plane around the line pointing at us in the photo.  That wing will pull up and the other roll down to a more horizontal position.  As this happens, though, the lifted wing will loose lift and the the one that became closer to horizontal will get more lift, returning both wings to the neutral orientation seen above. 

If you look at virtually all low wing aircraft from small single engine planes like this to commercial jets, the wings are angled to the fuselage in a similar way.  It acts like a feedback control system to return the plane to level flight. 

Modern small planes incorporate so many little things like this that many accidents happen because the pilot defeats the airplane and if they would simply take their hands off the controls, the plane would right itself and resume level flight.  I've heard dozens of stories of a pilot falling asleep or being incapacitated and the plane going on in level flight.  I'm sure I haven't heard them all.

So where am I going with this?  A free market economy has several of these built-in feedback system at work, the biggest being simply "supply and demand".  What's a house, a car, or a diamond worth?  Exactly what someone will agree to buy and sell it for.  And just like the student pilot that crashes their plane because he can't take his hands off the controls, our "leaders" keep messing with the supply of money, the interest rates, allowing or blocking foreclosures, and other things. 

If the Fed, the European Central Bank, the Bank of Japan and all the rest evaporated overnight, followed by the collapse of the global fiat monetary systems, it would be a horrific transient that would hurt like crazy, but in the big picture it would be like the airplane's wings.  The world's economies would eventually right themselves if the "powerful" would stop screwing with it.  

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Ahhhh Travel...

Atlanta - the gleaming sphincter of the American Southeast.  Two days of driving, punctuated by an hour or so lost in the slowdown due to a wreck south of Atlanta on a Sunday afternoon.  Just like air travel around the country, a slowdown in Atlanta can ruin travel plans anywhere.  If you were looking for exactly where to administer an enema to the US, Atlanta is in the final four...

But after a trying 9 hours driving, a good barbecue dinner with a friend I've known since the late '70s.  Friends and clothes are two things in life that are always best the longer you've had them.  A night in surprisingly nice room in Woodstock, GA, then another 9 hours on the road Monday and into town. Last time I took a cross country drive, I used XM radio; this time it was I Heart Radio on an iPhone plugged into the car's audio system.  Virtually the same availability; a few times in the trip, the XM signal was blocked out by a hill or dense trees; likewise, a few times the cellphone internet was wiped out by trees, but I think if you mapped out coverage, it's pretty much 99.9% availability.  Pretty darned impressive for a "wireless" infrastructure put in place by greedy corporations without government running everything.

As for the content on the radio, it's not quite "All Trayvon Martin, All The Time", but it's more like that than not.

Meanwhile, Borepatch links to an interesting piece on Aretae about why liberals are so puzzled and irritated by the public consensus against government health care.  Perhaps the most interesting part of that is in the comments, where an anonymous commenter with admitted health problems talks about wanting the freedom to not worry about getting health care - as if there's any reason to think the government isn't going to deny care if you're deemed too expensive.  Aretae promises more to come on this topic, so I'll be watching.