Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Latest Idiocy From the Enviro-Weenies

I hope this doesn't shock you or give you some sort of stress syndrome, but the greenies want humans to die off.  I've talked at some length here about Agenda 21 and the greenies who want to kill off most of humanity.  Tonight a slightly different tactic that may have the same desired effect. 

Every electronic system you own is filled with joints between parts.  In the vast majority of those, the joint is soldered.  Most people probably know about solder, a metal that liquifies to create a joint, because soldering things is pretty common.  Plumbers solder copper pipes (when they still use copper pipes!), jewelers solder jewelry, and so on.  You may not realize, though, that European Union initiated a program in 2003 to eliminate lead in the solder used in electronics.  In 2006, the RoHS rules, short for Reduction of Hazardous Substances, went into effect banning the use of lead in solder.  In the hundred years since electronics went into routine production,  quite a bit of research went into creating the ideal solder alloy, and for most of that hundred years, a 63% tin 37% lead eutectic alloy has been preferred for most electronics soldering.  (Note: I couldn't tell you why, but RoHS is usually pronounced "row-hoss").

When the use of lead was ordered halted, joints had to be made somehow, so the industry desperately searched for a replacement, often creating components with bright tin coatings - which looked like a freshly soldered surface (commonly called a "tinned" surface, although it's solder).  Unfortunately, some of that hundred years of research had taught us that a bright tin surface is the worst thing you want to use, and that knowledge was somehow "lost".  Bright tin surfaces tend to grow "tin whiskers" which have caused many failures, and the matte finish tin finishes grow whiskers at a lower rate.  In one of the trade magazines, Avionics, author Walter Shawlee II writes:
This is a phenomenon so bizarre it almost sounds like science fiction, but it is all too real, and frequently fatal to circuit operation when it occurs. The chemical mechanism is poorly understood, but tin-plated leads and solder joints (without lead) begin to grow tiny straight hair-like crystals with or without current flowing. These can extend from track to track, pad to pad, between any leads and other metal areas. The tiny whiskers are highly conductive, and can result in catastrophic or intermittent circuit failure. Amazingly, no PCB surface treatment, post coating or solder masking will prevent it. This is a mechanism largely unique to tin (Sn) plating or solders that contain no lead, but can also occur in some other metals from palladium to zinc, but generally requires elevated temperatures or pressures, while tin whiskering occurs in all normal Earth environments, and even in space.
(image from NASA Goddard Space Flight Center)
When the ROHS rules were formulated, they specifically exempted high reliability areas like military, space or aviation, but missed something important.  The companies that make components don't want to have multiple production lines for their parts, and if they just have one line they'll make the line that sells the most, the lead-free line.  Companies in the "high reliability" sectors buy components that are lead-free, but then solder them with full lead solder to improve the reliability.  Even so, a few multi-million dollar satellites have been lost, and the failure attributed to whiskers.  Many more cheaper, earth-bound systems have failed and the whiskers found.  Tin whiskers have even been implicated in the Toyota "runaway acceleration" problem which has claimed a few lives.

But the RoHS lead-free policy is more stupid than anything.  By far, the biggest use of lead is in batteries and they were left alone!  Shawlee, again:
Just for some clarity, the total world use of lead is about 90 percent for batteries, and the amount used in electronics (excluding batteries) is all of 2 percent. So, of course, target the 2 percent. Further, of the lead in landfills (the supposed concern of this directive), the overwhelming majority is coming from the disposal of TV CRTs and monitors, which can contain up to 2 kg of lead per tube, not from circuit board assemblies, by a massive ratio of 9 to 1.
If you owned a bunch of CRTs and knew the ban was coming, what would you do?  Working CRTs were trashed to the landfills to get rid of them before penalties came into effect for not recycling them properly!
It’s rational to ask, after a few years of RoHS policy in force, does this effect ever really cause any problems? As it happens, yes, and some examples are so spectacular that it’s amazing they have not reversed the policy for RoHS. In Europe, the most impressive example was $1 billion recall of Swatch watches from Switzerland, as the use of lead-free solder caused a roughly 5 percent watch failure rate in 2006. The “solution” to this problem was yet another rule exemption, and lead was again used in Swatch construction. A real RoHS policy triumph there.
As you might gather from the Swatch and Toyota examples, this problem is happening in consumer systems.  The EU has mandated a new failure mode into every electronic item sold.  Don't think of just your TV or your MP3 player: newer cars have several microprocessors in them.  Don't forget your air conditioner, your range, the electronics embedded in everything.  When I was a kid, my parents had a black and white TV bought in the mid '50s; they junked it and we got our first color TV when I was 15.  My wife and I had an RCA color TV, our first "big screen" at 27", for 21 years.  I think it's a safe bet that the number of TVs being sold today which will last 21 years is going to be quite a bit smaller than it was before 2003.  The irony is that today's solid state electronics and LCD screens should be more reliable and last longer.  That means landfills will be getting more broken electronics than they need to.  Another stunning policy victory for the environment right there, too.
Tin whiskers growing on a variable capacitor (source)

Monday, July 30, 2012

What I Think is Coming

As a followup to last week's post "What Do You Think is Coming", I offer this piece by Victor Davis Hanson, "California: The Road Warrior is Here".  I would offer a quote or two, but there is so much jaw dropping dystopia in there that I think you should just go read the whole thing.  A bit long, but worth it.  H/T to WSRA.

A while back, I wrote about what I thought might be coming.
I believe the most likely scenario is an economic collapse like Ferfal (Surviving in Argentina) describes here (I've highlighted things that I believe I've already seen in my travels): 
If lucky you’ll still live in that same house, Main Street will still be called Main Street, kids will still go to the same school, with a bit of luck and hard work you’ll keep your job… but employees may have to accept a 20% reduction in salary so as to save the company.  Your kid’s school will have fund cuts and some classes may be canceled, the infrastructure may suffer for lack of maintenance due to low funds. The school quickly looks dirty, clearly needing some paint and repairs. As time goes by Main street is full of holes and no ones patches them. Stuff at Walmart is now more expensive. Little by little the packages, cans and bottles start getting smaller (yet the price is higher than before) , you see less and less of those mega super value 50 unit packs. There’s less variety too, they no longer import or produce locally the expensive brands anymore. Too expensive to do so. Crime is getting worse too. Home invasions in towns where it had never happened before, even people getting kidnapped. As more senseless violent crime becomes more common and criminals realize that the poorly paid police, with not enough patrol cars, not enough gas and not enough manpower is just a shadow of what it once was, armed robbery slowly becomes a fact of life across America, and those that don’t want to accept it suffer the consequences.
I don't think it's much of a stretch from this to what VDH says is currently happening.
(no, not from the Book of Eli - from Sacramento, California's tent city, March 16, 2009)

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Confidential to the Gun Grabbers

Attention please, Chuck Schumer, Barbaras Boxer and Feinstein, Frank Lautenberg, Carolyn McCarthy and all the rest of you who get your talking points from the same place.  Yes, that goes for you, too, Peter Bogdanovitch and Harvey Weinstein and thanks to Improved Clinch for reminding me I wanted to rant about this.

You've all seen some variation of this argument at least a dozen times since last weekend, when the young feces-brained-psycho decided to act out his frustration over his pitiful life by ending a lot of lives worth infinitely more than his.  This one is from Weinstein, but could have come from any one of them.
“If we don’t get gun-control laws in this country, we are full of beans. To have the National Rifle Association rule the United States is pathetic. And I agree with Mayor Michael Bloomberg: It’s time to put up or shut up about gun control for both parties.
C'mere, scooter.  Let me learn you something.  The National Rifle Association is not taking over the country.  The NRA is doing exactly what its tens of millions of members want it to do and pay it to do: it's guarding our constitutionally recognized, God-given rights.  This isn't some sort of bizarre aberration by a rogue organization on its own, they're lobbying for exactly what we want them to lobby for.  It's not the NRA, it's the tens of millions of citizens.

Unlike you folks, the vast majority of Americans now realize that gun free zones don't work, and all that gun control does is disarm good people while allowing those who don't care about laws to do what they want.  There are many examples of attempts at mass murder headed off by someone with a gun.  Mass murders only happen in gun free zones.  I'd bet real piles of money that someone with practical training and a handgun could have ended that mess in the theater before the body count got anywhere near what happened.  (h/t Confessions of a Street Pharmacist)
Don't give me that crap about "military weapons".  Every single category of weapon there is has been used as a military weapon.  The 12 gauge shotgun, like the 115 year old M97 design, there are tens of millions of them in American's homes, was so deadly in World War 1 that the Germans thought they were inhumane and should be banned!  A shotgun was inhumane, but mustard gas was fine?  Bolt action rifles with built-in box magazines, like the Remington 700, are not only direct descendents of the "military weapon" Mauser used in WW1, but the 700 itself is issued as the M24 Sniper Weapon System.  The first revolver was a major technological breakthrough, allowing a horse mounted soldier to shoot multiple times without reloading.  You'd ban 160 year old technology? 

Don't give me that crap about "they're only designed to kill as many as possible" as you hide behind your armed guards and protection details.  Evil lives in the heart of the person behind the gun, not the gun itself.  The AR-15 you want to ban is the most popular rifle in America.  There are millions of those with 30 round magazines and all they have ever done is punch holes in paper or go hunting.  Why does any civilian "need" a high capacity magazine?  You display your ignorance.  First off, I need one because I said so - you have no right to tell me what I need.  Second off, I know you're ignorant of self defense and target shooting, or you'd never say something like that, so let me tell you: there's a handful of reasons, not the least of which is it gives me more fun per trip to the range.  It's more fun to shoot than to load magazines. 

And confidential to Bill O'Reilly, I know you're sure you're smarter than the world and have The Only Right Opinions there are, so you wouldn't listen to this, but all you will do by limiting ammo purchases is get a list of every competitive shooter, everyone who is training for some goal, everyone who doesn't live near an ammo shop and buys in bulk, and every other active shooter in the country.  6000 rounds sounds like a lot to an outsider, but a competitive shooter can go through that pretty easily in a few weeks.  I seem to recall an interview with Jessie Duff where she said she ran through a thousand rounds a day, or every couple of days, during the peak of the season. 

The NRA is unique among organizations in being denounced by its detractors and its members.  Critics, like Weinstein, think the NRA is taking over the country; members think they're not doing enough to ensure that members are simply left alone.  Members routinely want the NRA to "stop playing DC insider" and speak up more strongly for our rights - even first amendment and other issues that aren't strictly firearms related. Disclaimer: I'm an NRA member frequently critical of those things myself.  I'm also a member of the other big gun rights organizations, SAF, JPFO, GOA and NAGR.

Finally, with all due respect to the victims, why is this getting the fully saturated media treatment?  Granted, the situation is unusual, but more people get shot in Chicago most weekends than in that theater.  Oh, I know, Chicago already has among the strictest gun control laws in the country, and that hurts your argument. 

Musical Interlude

Almost 7 minutes of acoustic guitar bliss..

I'm sure it's not for everyone, but I could just soak this in all day.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

The Good Side of the News

There were plenty of attacks on gun owners this week, but there has been some good news, too.  In no particular order:

The UN Arms Trade Treaty talks broke down without an agreement.  The NRA is claiming credit, and may have had influence, although I guess things like this are hard to really assign credit for.  It might be the roaches knew the lights were on, and didn't want to be seen publicly.  They are not gone,  merely looking for a less well-lit place.   It may well be that they realized they could not get a treaty past the US Senate, with 51 senators going on public record to oppose the treaty.

In response to the Aurora shootings, Colorado citizens proved they are well-grounded in reality and hit the gun stores in record numbers.
"It's been insane," Jake Meyers, an employee at Rocky Mountain Guns and Ammo in Parker, [Colorado] said Monday.

When he arrived at work Friday morning — just hours after a gunman killed 12 and injured 58 others at the Century Aurora 16 theater — there already were 15 to 20 people waiting outside the store, Meyers said.
It's hard to know how much of this is "I'd better get it now, just in case they make it illegal" and how much is folks saying, that neighbor or that guy at work is right, and maybe they'd better get a gun and learn to use it.  There is definitely some of that second reason going on here, because gun store employee Meyers went on to say:
He called Monday "probably the busiest Monday all year" and said the basic firearms classes that he and the store's owner teach are booked solid for the next three weeks, something that hadn't happened all year.
It's a reaction that's uniquely American.  Unlike the European empires they're trying to remake us into, we don't have a history of looking to a benevolent king to manage us - until about 1930.  Historically, we are a nation that believes we're Captain Of Our Own Ship.  People are voting with their feet and wallets on the question of whether they believe gun control makes sense, and it's a resounding "no".

As I said last weekend, we attended the local gun show, and business was brisk.  Sunday morning we took our EBRs to the club's 100 and 200 yard range.  They must be defective, because unlike Barbara Feinstein's comment that the only reason they exist is “to kill as many people as possible in as short a time as possible,”  I don't think they've even killed a fly (there's a special gun for that).  Maybe a bacteria or hapless gnat.  They just seem to punch holes in paper and particle board. 

The recent talk about printing a lower receiver reminded me of the cutting board AR receiver many of us talked about in January.  I saw a polymer AR receiver at our gun show.  This, of course, is my home made AR machined from an aluminum 80% lower and 75 or 80% DPMS parts. 

Friday, July 27, 2012

The Push for "Reasonable Gun Control" Starts Again

As in the wake of the Gabby Giffords shooting, the Evil Party has decided to attack the tool and not the user, as they always do.   This time they're not directly offering another AWB or other law by itself, but using more slimy, underhanded methods, such as putting a "high capacity" magazine ban onto a cybersecurity bill, S.A. 2575. 
The amendment was sponsored by Democratic Sens. Frank Lautenberg (N.J.), Barbara Boxer (Calif.), Jack Reed (R.I.), Bob Menendez (N.J.), Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.), Schumer and Dianne Feinstein (Calif.). S.A. 2575 would make it illegal to transfer or possess large capacity feeding devices such as gun magazines, belts, feed stripes and drums of more than 10 rounds of ammunition with the exception of .22 caliber rim fire ammunition.
Note the bold that I added.  That means they don't intend to grandfather in the hundreds of millions of magazines that would become illegal.  I don't need to tell you that these are the normal, factory standard capacity magazines on everything bigger than a pocket pistol.  So they intend to make you throw all of your magazines into the landfill.  And make the already max'ed out production lines of the gun companies retool for lower capacity.  Sheer madness. 

Or, as I said back then:
Joe Huffman of The View From North Central Idaho had a great article on this topic back then, and is worth reading again.  Likewise Larry Correia had an excellent overview article this week.  And contact any senators whom you might think would get suckered in by this.  Expect more of this - expect them to put something into every bill.  Where's an obstructionist when you need one? 

Thursday, July 26, 2012

I Don't Know Who's Hacking the Iranians...

It should go without saying that I don't know who's hacking the Iranian computer systems, but I want to give them style points for this.
According to an email publicly released by the Finnish digital security firm F-secure, a new virus has shut down part of Iran’s nuclear program and also blasts AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck” at full volume in the middle of the night.
(Angus Young, AC/DC front man,with his "trademark" Little Lord Fauntleroy short pants and Gibson SG)  

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

What Do You Think is Coming

Kerodin over at III Percent Patriots started an interesting thread the other day, and although I think I'm a bit late to comment, I think this would a good meme for us all to comment on.  I encourage everyone to comment to Kerodin, and want to encourage folks to comment on their own blogs.  The topic is what you think is coming.  Following this are my thoughts.  Extra credit for predicting when...

What threats do you anticipate?  What do you think is coming?  A bad hair day, or Doomsday?

Nuclear exchanges?  Not likely at all. The only way another country would nuke the US is if Obama succeeds in reducing us to zero warheads (and is apparently trying).  The more likely nuclear event is a single attack, like an EMP from a "rouge nation", or a nuclear terrorism event.  Both are more likely than exchanges.  Chances of both go up if the originator could have complete plausible deniability.

Chem/Bio warfare (deliberately launched)  Possible and easy to implement, especially if it's a suicide mission.  See "Dark Winter".

Bio hazard/disease (whether deliberate or not)  An eventual pandemic is a certainty in the light of history.  Predicting when is impossible.  Widespread cholera and other lack-of-hygiene disease epidemics are inevitable after an economic/social collapse.

Simple economic collapse with resulting Mad Max scenario?  Collapse is highly likely.  "Mad Max" is a bit less so.

Economic collapse with disruptions in essentials: food, medicine, water, sanitation.  Extremely likely - approaching certainty, if current trajectory is not changed.

Violence, hordes, some in possession of light armor they confiscate from DHS/local LEO.  If the previous two happen, this would go with them.

Full scale martial law including .mil assets employed against us all.  Possible, depending on how bad the violence after collapse gets - it would require leviathan to have not collapsed and still have a full scale military to command.   You can't order the .mil around if you don't have a functioning command structure, so full scale collapse largely rules this out.

UN "invited" in to enslave us all?  Low probability.  The UN couldn't figure out how wipe it's ass without the US. It couldn't even find it's own ass with both hands and a GPS.

Full scale land invasion from Mexico, China, Russia, whoever?  As in tanks, air cover, bombing, etc.? Highly unlikely, unless we have no military at all.

A bad decade but we will slowly grind our way out of it?  Most optimistic possible and least likely version of the economic collapse.  

Complete devaluation of FRN's and a reversion of precious metals and barter, at least for a while?  Goes with the economic collapse, and is going on now, to some degree.

(from the Book of Eli)

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Ultimate Anti-Fed Infographic

With the bills to Audit the Fed (HR459, S202) coming to vote momentarily, it's good to get a refresher on what it's about. 

Business Insider brings the best Infographic on the Federal Reserve.   These things are big, so the best way to read that is to go there. 
(excerpt from that page - the value of the dollar since 1913 follows:)

The Fed is charged with maintaining the value of the dollar by keeping inflation in check.  I say this data shows they have completely failed and we'd be better off without them.  That implies going back to a commodity standard, like gold - which happens to be mandated by our constitution. 

Monday, July 23, 2012

Another ABC Misrepresentation Lie

Time to credit another reporting mistake lie to ABC news. In my post Saturday, I swallowed the line about the Colorado shooter's mom.  I swallowed the hook, and like fish that swallow the hook, I got taken. 
To be honest, the only thing that doesn't lead in that direction is the report that his mother said, "You have the right person".  Clearly Momma was aware that elevator didn't go all the way to the top floor.
In truth, it looks like ABC lied about her; she wasn't referring to her son, she was referring to herself. It's the same sort of bad reporting as when Brian Ross leapt to the conclusion that a person in the Colorado tea party with the same name as the shooter must be the killer.  (H/T Townhall.com)

Perhaps you've heard by now that Brian Ross has a shady record himself.  Brian Ross was arrested in St. Albans, Vermont in connection with a murder case. 
Four of the five suspects arrested made their appearance in court today. Police say Travis Bugbee and Brian Ross lured Davis to the St. Albans swimming pool on March 21.
As if that wasn't bad enough, Brian Ross was arrested in Fontona, California for sending explicit text and photos to teenage girls.
Brian John Ross was arrested at 5:35 p.m. Thursday at Sierra and Merrill avenues in Fontana and booked on suspicion of contacting a minor and arranging to meet with a minor via the Internet for the purpose of having sex, jail records show. His bail is $50,000.
What?  No, neither one of those is the same Brian Ross as the one on ABC news, but I'm just using the same journalistic standards he is.  Which is "none". 
(Michael Ramirez)

Sunday, July 22, 2012

The President Visits Aurora

Haven't those poor people suffered enough?

My God, man.  Show some compassion.  Oh, the humanity!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Lord I Was Born a Rambling Man...

With apologies to the Allman Brothers, some Saturday ramblings. 

The gratuitous cool picture of the day is courtesy of the Astronomy Picture of the Day (APOD) and NASA.  Break out your Red/Blue Stereo glasses for this.  (What?  You don't have any?  What kind of nerd are you?  I have two within arms reach and that's just a start!)
43 years ago this week "..men from the planet Earth first set foot on the moon".  While we lived in South Florida, 250 miles or so south of the KSC, we were in New York City visiting relatives.  I was a teenager.  It would be the last time I would see some of them, and 12 years before I'd see others.  Somewhere around here I have small prints of pictures I took of the crew of Apollo 11, at an anniversary celebration for KSC Employees and families, when Mrs. Graybeard was working on the Space Shuttle solid rocket boosters.  Ought to scan those in before they fade away. 

A year ago, the last space shuttle mission shut down.  Outsourcing?  We've outsourced manned flight to low earth orbit to the Russians.  Yeah, I know "people are working on it".  It still burns. 

In light of the Colorado shootings, the left is already politicizing the event and Mayor Bloomberg - the most dependable a**hole in American politics - is already using it as a bludgeon to get more gun control into discussion.  And while I'm not quite ready to go there, isn't it interesting how a 20-something studying for a Ph.D, that is a "starving college student", gets together an easy 5 or $10,000 worth of hardware (a good AR-15, a Remmy 870, a Glock, body armor, ballistic helmet, and other cool toys, not to mention the bomb-laden apartment).  And isn't it just a tremendous coincidence that this "shy college student" pulls off a mass shooting the very week the UN is having their Arms Trade Treaty up for final review? To be honest, the only thing that doesn't lead in that direction is the report that his mother said, "You have the right person".  Clearly Momma was aware that elevator didn't go all the way to the top floor.  But, as Rod used to say, "offered for your consideration". 

Early this year, I would have said we are easily winning the war against guns.  Now, I'm afraid that we're going to have start fighting a rear guard action over this.  As the year was starting, I was thinking it was looking good for open carry or constitutional carry in Florida, and maybe at the national level looking good to get silencers removed from Class III and at the very least made a $5 AOW.   Then came Zimmerman/Martin and now this, and I'm afraid we'll have to re-fight the battles we've already won.

On the other hand... I just got back from the local Gun Show.  It was elbow to elbow, butt to butt crowded, as much as during the 2009 boom, and the cross section of society was amazing and heartwarming.  Kids that looked barely 21 (I'm a bad judge of that), folks my age and older.  All races, all sizes, young couples, older couples; everything from "tacticool mall ninjas" to "Ma and Pa Kettle" - so the population is clearly voting with their wallets.  The so-called "concealed carry class" looked to be pretty full.  At one point (while dear wife was looking through 30 year old ... junk) I stood and just looked at the crowd.  It was truly awesome to see.   

Friday, July 20, 2012

The Aurora Shooting

I think Sister Toldjah has the best thing I've read today, the touching story of aspiring sportscaster Jessica Ghawi, who seemed to go by the (stage?) name Jessica Redfield.  Ms. Redfield, you see, had narrowly missed being in the middle of the Eaton Center shootings in Toronto this June - just weeks ago.  Two people died in that shooting.  This sort of a mass shooting, as dramatic as it is, has (so far) been spectacularly rare.  A mall shooting in Toronto should be impossible, of course, since guns are virtually illegal in Canada. 

As predictable as the summer heat, the anti-gun groups are trying to blame others - the tea party, Rush Limbaugh, the NRA, and so on.  Instead of assessing blame, why don't we all pray for the families, and the survivors?  If you're not the "prayin' kind", just think nice thoughts.

Like most of you, I'll bet, I haven't set foot into a movie theater without a gun in years.  One of my first thoughts was if I could make the shot (assuming the distances in my usual theaters - I have no idea how big that one is).  I know my first responsibility is to protect who I'm with, but I don't think I could sit there as someone executed people around me.  As Kevin (TSM) says, might be prudent to start practicing head shots at long distances. 
I was shown how fragile life was on Saturday. I saw the terror on bystanders’ faces. I saw the victims of a senseless crime. I saw lives change. I was reminded that we don’t know when or where our time on Earth will end. When or where we will breathe our last breath.  - Jessica Redfield, June 5, 2012
and, as Sister Toldjah said,
In the hectic world of everyday life, sometimes we don’t pause to appreciate the good in our lives: we don’t stop to give a loved one a hug, or a friend a comforting pat on the back, or our pets a little rub between the ears. And we spend too little time giving ourselves a break from the craziness of the world. Please take the time to tell your family and friends how much you appreciate them and show them often – because you never know when it might be your last time seeing them. I am by no means trying to sound fatalistic – in fact, I’m taking kind of a “Carpe Diem!” outlook here. Seize the day. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Take a drive with the top off the car. Let your hair down. Stop and smell the roses. And most importantly, tell the people who mean the most to you how much you care. Life is way too short to not live it and appreciate everything in it.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

OK Blogger/HTML Experts - Any Ideas?

This week, I've experienced a very peculiar problem reading blogger (blogspot.com).  Many, but not all, blogs display incorrectly on my work PC while they're fine on my home machine. Troubleshooting the problem has led to a lot of confusion.

I read several blogs over my lunch break at work.  The easiest way for me to get places is to load this page and click the reading list links over there in the right column. This has always worked and I've never had an issue reading blogger from work, although our net-nanny seems to block Wordpress sites most of the time (I've gotten to them sometimes, but not in a consistent pattern).

On Monday, when I loaded this blog, everything in right column was "gone".  It's just a wide margin of translucent gray to the right of the text.  It took a while, but I eventually figured out the right column was being printed below the posts, left justified.  It's as if the HTML was interpreted not to form two long columns, but as one long screen.  Rather than go through what I did, let me tell you what I've seen and what I've ruled out.
  • Blogs with a wider text display like mine, Borepatch, Brigid, Keads, Guffaw, and others display incorrectly.  On Borepatch's blog, there is just uniform yellow bar at the top, no title bar, and the top of the uppermost post is gone.  On mine, the maroon box-shaped banner and its text is there.  I think Brigid's HOTR displayed the picture and title properly, but the right column was below the posts. 
  • Narrower blogs like "Confessions of a Street Pharmacist" and Gunslinger's Journal do not suffer from this and look normal.
  • Text size, screen resolution, and font size have no effect.  I can vary text size (with <CTRL> mouse wheel) and reduce the page drastically, or spread it out, and the right column never appears.  I made my fonts smaller (reboot), larger (reboot), and changed the display resolution of the monitor with no effect.
  • Thinking that perhaps Google changed the page HTML code and it was somehow incompatible with IE8, our "officially supported" browser at work,  I downloaded and installed Firefox in the same version that works fine here at home.  No difference, so it's not browser specific.  Note: this was complicated by the format suddenly looking correct while I was playing in Firefox.  Once it was correct, I opened IE8, and suddenly it was normal there, too.  A couple of hours later, I reloaded the page in Firefox and the problem was back.  I reloaded it in IE8 and the display was wrong there, too.  
  • As a final experiment, I talked with a friend at work and sent him a link to Borepatch's page.  I explained how it looked on my machine and how it should look.  His computer displayed it the same as mine.  He is in a different building, a mile away, but behind the same firewall and security.
At this point, the only explanation I can come up with is that our security firewall (Hardware? Software?) is somehow removing some attribute in the HTML that formats the display.  I know that some of the right column items can be removed from the display because the "followers" block  has not been there for months.  It used to try to load and the "page loading" indicator would spin and spin, until you told it to stop.  Now it doesn't even try.

Any thoughts, Borepatch?  Any experts have any ideas what can be messing up displays?  Does anyone else see this anywhere else?

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Economist's Book "The New Depression"

Economist Richard Duncan has been getting a fair amount of press for his new book "The New Depression".  One of the reasons, aside from the usual press tour that a publisher might put an author on, is his apocalyptic message that the world might not survive the New Depression

I have mixed feelings about Duncan's analysis and his message.  For instance, he's completely right about the nature of the problem and the situation.  For example:
“When we broke the link between money and gold, this removed all constraints on credit creation,” Duncan argued. “This explosion of credit created the world we live in, but it now seems that credit cannot expand any further because the private sector is incapable of repaying the debt it has already, and if credit begins to contract, there’s a very real danger that we will collapse into a new Great Depression.”
I see this as completely right: the abandonment of gold standard started the problem.  We replaced a sound money-based economy with a credit-based economy, essentially completely under the control and at the the whim of central bankers.  He goes on to say,
Duncan noted that policymakers believe that if they allow credit to contract, there will be a new depression.

“So they are going to do whatever it takes to keep credit expanding,” he added. “And that means more quantitative easing (QE), and when the Fed does QE3, everyone knows that stock prices are going to go higher," he said.

“If this credit bubble pops, the depression could be so severe that I don’t think our civilization could survive it,” Duncan noted.
Again, I am in complete agreement.  As I've said many times, infinity is a really nice concept in math, but it's a rotten way to run an economy.  The money supply can't expand infinitely.  It has to end sometime, and I fear we're just about there.  Things that can't go on won't go on, and nothing goes on forever.

This is why I disagree with his proposed solution.  In an interview on GBTV last night, Duncan says we can't cut government spending because that would stop about 1/3 of the activity in the economy (take the 1.3 trillion deficit spending out of the 4.2 or so trillion budget) and that would cause a crash and depression.  His answer is we need to do more deficit spending.  We got into this mess by expansion of credit and expansion of the money supply, but his solution is more credit expansion and more creation of money from thin air.  The difference is that he says we shouldn't just bail out banks and put money into "roads and bridges"; we need to put the money into (wait for it...) green energy and alternative power methods.  Aaaarrrrrrggggghhhhh!!!!

Just another highly degreed fool.  "We got into this massive hole by digging and digging, so we need to get out by digging more."  Electric cars will have their day, and the market will develop new energy sources, but these will happen in the fullness of time.  If you gave a battery company a trillion dollars today you won't have a 50 or even 10 times better battery in a year.  To use an old analogy, if you put 9 non-pregnant women in a room you won't get a baby per month for 9 months. 

If there's a chance of not going over the cliff into a seriously bad depression, which honestly does bring the potential of TEOTWAWKI, as Duncan says, and perhaps a world war, hope lies in the opposite direction.  Get the government out of the way, lower taxes, lower regulation.  Start serious efforts to balance the budget - the "cut, cap and balance" idea that was going around a few months ago.

It may not prevent the collapse, but it may help. 

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Everybody Talks About the Weather...

Mark Twain famously observed, "everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it".  Some time in the last 20 years, undoubtedly driven by the climate change hysteria, we seem to have lost the historical perception that weather changes.  As the saying goes, "climate is what you expect,  weather is what you get".  It's mathematically impossible to predict weather over long periods of time for large areas; a discovery by Edward Lorenz during computer modeling of weather systems was one of the origins of what came to be called Chaos Theory.  Chaos theory frequently ends up focused on the behavior of systems of partial differential equations, and their "sensitive dependence on initial conditions".  A whole popular vocabulary sprung up around this: think of the butterfly effect - the idea that a butterfly flapping its wings today affects the development of a storm a thousand miles away in a week. 

The partial differential equations that describe the behavior of fluids, like the atmosphere and water - the equations of fluid dynamics - are inherently unsolvable.  It's like 18 equations in 20 unknowns (IIRC).  The only way to solve a system of these is to assign initial conditions to some of the equations, creating a boundary condition.

The US Drought monitor shows that our friends in the middle of the country, from Indiana, Kentucky and Tennessee west through much of the bread basket of the US are suffering a serious drought.  The map shows the broad reach of the severe to exceptional drought.  Friends and family in this region are relaying temperatures in the upper 90s to over 100.  I don't need to tell you these are extremely unusual events up there.  Just as strangely, here in the Silicon Swamp, the summer has been mild and wet.  Yes, it gets into the lower 90s here, but days like yesterday, when it starts raining early and stays cloudy all day, our high was 85.  The month of June had an average high temperature almost a full four degrees cooler than average, and a rainfall one and half inches wetter than average. 

The vagaries of weather.  Strange that it should be hotter in Hoosieropolis than Florida, but it has been.

I've quoted Dr. Ryan Maue at Florida State University before, a young Ph.D. studying tropical weather systems.  I dropped by today to see if there was anything going on in the tropics to be aware of, and found this interesting item:
March 2012: Another record falls... La Nina causes record suppression of global tropical storm numbers ...

The last two calendar years saw a total of 146 global tropical cyclones, the lowest 2-year total in records since at least 1970. In the past 24-months, including ongoing Southern Hemisphere tropical cyclone activity, there have been a total of 141 global tropical storms. This is also a record low.
The lowest number of storms in two calendar years and in 24 continuous months.  Bear this in mind the next time you come across someone saying that global warming or whatever they call it this week is causing more hurricanes and more severe hurricanes, direct them to Dr. Maue. 

This, too, is the vagaries of weather. 

Monday, July 16, 2012

How Deep and How Long Is This Recession?

I haven't run this plot in a while.  From the fine folks at the Calculated Risk Blog:
This shows the extent of the unemployment in every recession since WWII, and shows how the current crisis is - by far - the deepest and longest  recession in the set.  That much is obvious.  I want to point out something that may not be so obvious: note the curves where they return to 0% job loss compared to the peak employment before the recession.  Note that from right to left, the longest recessions are the current one, 2001, 1990, and 1981 in chronological order.  The spoiler is that the next longest one, the recession of 1957, seemed particularly deep and long.  I find the stretching out to the right of the '81 to 2001 recessions interesting, because it appears that recessions are getting both longer and deeper. 

You can see that the red curve is not half way back to pre-recession levels.  It looks like it would make it to the halfway back point at 60 months - 5 years - since the start.  I estimate if that continues, employment would get back to pre-recession levels in another 3 to 4 years, just by eyeballing the chart.  But that's probably not going to happen because all indicators are that line is going to flatten out, or start heading down again

If you visit here regularly, I don't have to tell you I believe this is the result of the steadily increasing involvement of the government in "fixing" things.  The more they try to fix, the longer recessions take to heal.  Didn't their moms ever tell them, "stop picking at it, or it will never get better"?  Same basic idea.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Battle Lines Have Been Drawn

There's battle lines being drawn
Nobody's right, if everybody's wrong.
- "For What It's Worth", by Steven Stills, for Buffalo Springfield, 1966
The battle lines for the presidential campaign have been set.   It has been obvious to me for quite some time that the president was going to ditch 2008's optimistic, "hope-y change-y" message and go straight class warfare.  You get the president channeling Elizabeth ("Princess Low Cheekbones") Warren's specious "nobody is successful on their own argument" (H/T Kerodin's III Percent Patriots).   You get the president raising taxes on those making over $200,000 per year.  You get the attacks on Romney's tenure at Bain Capital, as an "outsourcer".  Romney's campaign has issued an "I know you are but what am I?" response and the short trip to the gutter is underway.  Everybody's wrong.

Both sides ignore the truth at the heart of this.  Companies don't outsource because they're mean and hate their US employees.  Companies primarily outsource because the total business climate is beneficial.  The regulatory environment - the total cost of doing business is cheaper over there.  The party really responsible for massive amounts of manufacturing outsourcing isn't the asset management company, or the managers of the company shipping the jobs.  The responsible parties are the governement  regulators who raise the costs and hassles of doing business to unbearable levels.   In some cases, large multinational companies outsource because of a contractual requirement.  To sell into some countries, those countries require a percentage of work done there.  Politics is at the root of outsourcing.  

Politics causes outsourcing, and politics might be able to fix it, too, if they realize they're at fault.  Or if we beat them into it. 

Saturday, July 14, 2012

FSA Gets Reinforcements

Heritage Foundation is reporting that in a largely-unreported executive order, the administration has nullified the Welfare Reform law in place since the Clinton years. 
The imperial Presidency has overturned Congress and the law again. Not content to stop at rewriting immigration policy, education policy and energy policy, yesterday, President Obama’s Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released an official policy directive rewriting the welfare reform law of 1996. The new policy guts the federal work requirements that were the foundation of the Clinton-era reform.
This is not new ground for a president that decided not to enforce existing federal law, the Defense of Marriage Act, or to sue states for enforcing other federal laws: Arizona over immigration, Florida and Texas over attempts to ensure voters are eligible.  An administration that couldn't get cap and trade passed, so it instructed EPA to regulate CO2, and shut down coal production in America.  
Welfare reform replaced the old Aid to Families with Dependent Children with a new program, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). The Heritage Foundation played a pivotal role in building bipartisan consensus for the reform and providing many of the recommendations that became part of the law. The whole point was that able-bodied adults should be required to work or prepare for work as a condition of receiving welfare aid.

This reform was very successful. TANF became the only welfare program (out of more than 70) that promoted greater self-reliance. It moved 2.8 million families off the welfare rolls and into jobs so that they were providing for themselves. Child poverty fell, and single-parent employment rose. Recipients were required to perform at least 20–30 hours per week of work or job preparation activities in exchange for the cash benefit.

Now, Obama’s HHS is claiming that it can waive those work requirements that are at the heart of the law, and without Congress’s consent.
The TANF was successful so it must be de-clawed, if the goal is to get more people dependent on the government and destroy the taxpayers who support them; if the goal is to bankrupt the US.  I take that back - we're way past bankrupt: we're $16 trillion in debt.  TANF must be destroyed if the goal is to collapse the US.  It goes with virtually every policy we see come out of Washington. 

In the movie "2016: Obama's America", Dinesh D'Sousa fills out a hefty portion of meat on the bones of the thesis he laid out in his book, "The Roots of Obama's Rage".  As an Indian immigrant to the US, D'Sousa recognized the virulent strain of anti-colonialism that runs through Obama and his hand picked cronies (perhaps the cronies picked him - it matters not).  It's a view that sees America as a 250 year old problem in the world, and not the 5000 Year Leap most of us see.  The simple solution is to destroy the US - or at least bring it down to a basket case that can't project power into the world any longer, leaving the Mideast ripe for the caliphate desired by the Muslim Brotherhood (now systematically taking over the Mideast and building that caliphate) and allowing the smaller powers to kill each other as much as they have wanted to. 

This policy has to help.

There's a saying I heard in a science class ages ago, that a theory is good when it explains all available evidence and allows you to predict accurately what is going to happen next.  By that argument, Dinesh D'Sousa's theory that President Obama is an anti-colonialist bent on taking down the US is a good theory.  It explains everything we see, and allows us to predict every action the president will take.  

Friday, July 13, 2012

Solar CME Coming - Grid Troubles Coming...Or Not

Seems Old Sol woke up from its pretty anemic solar cycle yesterday and let fly an X 1.4 flare and CME directly at us.  It's the first X-class flare in a while and "the biggest of the summer" - although with summer about 3 weeks old, that doesn't mean much.  More specifically, it is nowhere near as powerful as the 5.4 flare we had in March, which caused some cool aurora displays - along with some folks' panties getting in a bunch.

What's kind of interesting here is that NOAA, who does the official space weather forecast, and NASA are quite at odds with each other over the expected impacts of the CME due on Saturday.  As the Washington Post reports (at that link):
This blast of charged particles, known as a coronal mass ejection (CME), is forecast to ignite a geomagnetic storm on Earth over the weekend. NOAA predicts it will be minor, maybe moderate. NASA says it will be moderate to severe.
Personally, as someone who observes this sort of stuff and its effects, I'm going with NOAA: minor, maybe moderate.  Auroras visible south of Michigan, say, but probably not into the deep south.  It seems to take an X6 flare to get auroras visible in Dixie, and an epic flare to get them down here into Florida.  But why should NASA and NOAA differ so much?  It's not like NASA should have data that they hoard and don't pass on to NOAA.  Quoting again:
The differences in these predictions raise the question why two government agencies aren’t coordinating and issuing one clear, consistent forecast along with estimates of the uncertainty.

Consider this scenario: A hurricane is approaching the East Coast. What if one U.S. government agency predicted the storm would make landfall as a category 1 to maybe category 2 storm, at worst, while another agency forecast the storm to reach the category 2, 3 or even 4 level? Imagine the widespread confusion that would ensue. How would anyone know if and how to prepare?
In terms of effects, if you go with NOAA's predictions, you're not likely to see any effects other than some pretty lights in the sky, if you're out in a really dark spot; if you're a ham, HF propagation might be disturbed, giving higher noise levels or shutting down HF.  (Some of this happened yesterday).  If NASA's predictions are right, the auroras will come farther south, radio will be disturbed more, and - this might be important - satellites may need to be re-oriented or shut down.  Maybe the reason NASA is going for the worst possible prediction is to protect satellite operators better.  After all, NASA doesn't loose any revenue if satellite operators shut down when they really didn't need to.

I need to point out that space weather isn't as well understood as earthly weather, and predicting rain  messes us up often enough.  I'm not calling them stupid.  I just think they should be working a little closer together on this.
Image from Wikipedia - showing the CME blasting out of the sun, interacting with the earth's magnetosphere and causing auroras at both poles. 

For the record, NASA is saying:
“Simulations indicate that the leading edge of the CME will reach Earth at about 2012-07-14T09:17Z (plus minus 7 hours). The roughly estimated expected range of the Kp maximum (Kp is a measure of geomagnetic disturbance levels ranging 0 - 9) is 6-8 (moderate to severe).”  (note: that's 5:17 AM EDT +/-7 hours)
and NOAA said:
"The latest model run now indicates the CME associated with yesterday’s R3 (Strong) Radio Blackout event will impact the earth’s magnetic field around 9:00 a.m. EDT (1300 UTC) on Saturday, July 14. SWPC is forecasting category G1 (Minor) Geomagnetic Storm activity then, with a chance of G2 (Moderate) levels at times through July 15."
To reiterate, I bet with NOAA on this one.  No damage to the grid or any of the dire scenarios that get talked about. 

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Coming End of Privacy

Gizmodo reports this week about a new remote detection system that will be able to detect "interesting" chemicals on your body from over 160 feet (50 meters).  The system is said to work on Terahertz radiation; a part of the electromagnetic spectrum where the techniques lean toward optical approaches rather than conventional radio.  It appears to be an infrared laser spectrometer system, like other systems that are showing up (this last one in Russia).   
From traces of drugs or gun powder on your clothes to what you had for breakfast to the adrenaline level in your body—agents will be able to get any information they want without even touching you.
TSA - the DHS - has already contracted for these systems from a company called Genia Photonics, under contract to another company, In-Q-Tel, a company founded "in February 1999 by a group of private citizens at the request of the Director of the CIA and with the support of the U.S. Congress."  This is one of those private sector/fed.gov joined-at-the-hip relationships we read about.

Particularly interesting (or ominous) is this factoid:
The machine is ten million times faster—and one million times more sensitive—than any currently available system. That means that it can be used systematically on everyone passing through airport security, not just suspect or randomly sampled people.
Meanwhile, In-Q-Tel states that "an important benefit of Genia Photonics' implementation as compared to existing solutions is that the entire synchronized laser system is comprised in a single, robust and alignment-free unit that may be easily transported for use in many environments… This compact and robust laser has the ability to rapidly sweep wavelengths in any pattern and sequence."
That means it could be placed anywhere, and with a radius of 50m, they could be placed in stadiums, bus terminals, shopping malls - anywhere. 

On the one hand, if it were limited to current TSA installations, it sounds better than the extended TSA Molocaust  and general douchbaggery we see everyday, but on the other, In-Q-Tel doesn't talk about false alarm rates, or other problems that always exist in sophisticated systems - and you can bet they won't.  You know these systems will produce false positives, getting innocent people pulled over,  false negatives, letting people with "contraband" pass, and the boxes will fail.  The systems are expected to be showing up in airports as soon as next year.
Going well beyond eavesdropping, it seems quite possible that U.S. government plans on recording molecular data on travelers without their consent, or even knowledge that it's possible—a scary thought. While the medical uses could revolutionize the way doctors diagnose illness, and any technology that could replace an aggressive pat-down is tempting, there's a potential dark side to this implementation, and we need to shine some light on it before it's implemented.
But what are the chances this will be limited?  The ruling class will be unable to resist a toy like this.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Affirmative Action aka State Sponsored Racism

Pseudorandom thoughts as we roll into this cold/5th gen civil war that everyone agrees is ongoing...

Not to be outdone by Saul Alinsky,  George Jackoff, oops, Lakoff, whose title is "Professor of Cognitive Science and Linguistics at U.C. Berkeley" has penned a new book that he hopes to be the new manual for the communists among us.  Called "The Little Blue Book", it's a guide to the mind tricks and mind games the left is so good at.  An obvious homage to Chairman Mao's Little Red Book that all the "cultural revolutionaries" carried while they arranged the murder of about 50 million of their countrymen, the "dog whistle" aspect of the title will appeal to the White House insiders.  Already scoring tons of praise from leftists luminaries, such as:
(Who would think a dusty professor from The People's Republic of Berkeley would get George Freakin' Soros to do a jacket blurb for him?)  Zombie, at PJ Media deconstructs this volume well.  As a lesson in how to manipulate others, it comes across as stupid; pure leftist claptrap, pure, well, evil.  The guy is so out of touch with modern life, he thinks conservatives want a strict government, and quotes something Dr. James Dobson wrote in 1970 as proof modern conservatives believe in government implementation of morality.  I suppose a percent or two of conservatives may feel that way, but the vast majority are for economic and personal freedoms.  Zombie closes by saying he's wondered for years who's at the heart of liberal ideology:
But then I read it, and its hollowness left me flummoxed. It’s not just that there’s no there there; it’s that he elevates therelessness to liberalism’s pre-eminent virtue. Sloganeering had replaced introspection.

I finished the book with the rather unnerving conclusion that no one remains at the wheel of the Good Ship Liberalism, that it rides the political currents, adrift.
The message of the book is that if they rename bad ideas, they magically become excellent ideas; all that matters is getting the right label on ideas that never work or have unintended consequences and suddenly everything is wonderful.  Judge them not by what happens when they implement ideas (which have failed every time they're used), judge them by the goodness of their intentions.     
The Little Blue Book is being marketed as an “Indispensable Handbook for Democrats” to help them communicate their values more clearly. But I think that the marketing is itself a ploy. The Little Blue Book was not written to help liberals communicate; instead, it was designed as a feel-good mantra, a comforting rectangular teddy bear reassuring the left-wing audience that they are good people. The book’s real underlying message is this: We liberals are morally superior to our nasty and small-minded opponents; if everyone could just see what was in our hearts, we’d be more popular than those mean old conservatives.
A perfect example of the sort of "labeling" that Jackoff preaches is "affirmative action", which sounds positive but is actually state sponsored racism.  The state makes one group favored and discriminates against others.  Professor Jacobson at Legal Insurrection posts on plans being developed to make STEM programs in colleges regulated by Title IX, the famous affirmative action law that says "college sports need to have equal numbers of men and women".  This law, as all liberal laws, is intended to equalize the opportunities.  In this case, it equalizes opportunities for sports scholarships for men and women, but does so by eliminating opportunities for men. 
Quotas limiting the number of male students in science may be imposed by the Education Department in 2013. The White House has promised that “new guidelines will also be issued to grant-receiving universities and colleges” spelling out “Title IX rules in the science, technology, engineering and math fields.” These guidelines will likely echo existing Title IX guidelines that restrict men’s percentage of intercollegiate athletes to their percentage in overall student bodies, thus reducing the overall number of intercollegiate athletes. (Under the three-part Title IX test created by the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights, where I used to work, colleges are allowed to temporarily comply by increasing the number of female athletes rather than cutting the number of male athletes, but the only viable permanent way to comply with its rule is to restrict men’s participation relative to women’s participation, reducing overall participation.) Thus, as Charlotte Allen notes, the Obama administration’s guidelines are likely to lead to “science quotas” based on gender.
Just call this a new front in the Democratic law on science.  The story, from OpenMarket.org
Gender disparities in a major are not the product of sexism, but rather the differing preferences of men and women. The fact that engineering departments are filled mostly with men does not mean they discriminate against women anymore than the fact that English departments are filled mostly with women proves that English departments discriminate against men. The arts and humanities have well over 60 percent female students, yet no one seems to view that gender disparity as a sign of sexism against men. Deep down, the Obama administration knows this, since it is planning to impose its gender-proportionality rules only on the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, and math), not other fields that have similarly large gender disparities in the opposite direction.
Prepare for coming caps on male enrollment in science, math and engineering.  Prepare to see a decrease in the number of graduates.  Prepare to see the US slide further into oblivion.  As OpenMarket puts it:
No girl should be denied the opportunity to study a STEM field based on her sex; but that does not mean that colleges should adopt a gender quota for female students in math and science. Since a college cannot force a woman to go into math or science, the only way for a college to satisfy a gender quota will be to cut the number of male math and science students, by turning male students away from their favorite subject.

Monday, July 9, 2012

The Immorality of Obamacare

One of my new friends at work over the last year is a Romanian who came to work at our place after a stint with the Canadian Space Agency.  He is settling into the US and working toward citizenship, and like everyone I've ever known from a communist country, is adamantly against Obamacare and the other creeping attacking socialist policies being shoved down our throats.   Having grown up under Nikolai Ceausescu and lived under that totalitarian regime, his experiences provide interesting perspectives.  While I've only chatted with a relative handful of eastern Europeans, I grew up in Miami with many friends who fled Cuba at various times - and I still keep in touch with events down there, mostly reading the exile community.

One of the worst parts of socialist takeover is when they take over the medical community/industry and use it as a weapon of the state.  Healthcare as a target, a means to total control over the population has always been a goal and always will be so.  Peter over at Bayou Renaissance Man linked to an extremely important post from Ion Mihai Pacepa at PJ Media, "Romania's 20 Year Nightmare: Unraveling Socialized Healthcare".  I will quote some excerpts to get you to go read it.
In my other life in Communist Romania, I managed a large intelligence organization that, among other tasks, was charged with keeping alive a nationalized health care system which in the end bankrupted the country and generated popular contempt. That system, very similar to the Affordable Health Care for America Act, was a bureaucratic nightmare. And it still is a nightmare in the former Soviet empire.
In the U.S., the doctor is king. This is crucial for saving people’s lives. If the doctor thinks there is something wrong with his patient, he can immediately start all kinds of diagnostic tests, get the results as soon as possible, and start treatment immediately. Yet in Great Britain, where the nationalized health care system is managed by bureaucrats, a patient has to wait some 18 weeks for an MRI.
In the U.S., a person can be scheduled for surgery the next day, but in Canada’s nationalized health care system, one has to wait months for a surgery. In the U.S., a doctor’s ability to act quickly without having to wait for bureaucratic approvals can make the difference between life and death.
The Nobel Prize for medicine tells the rest of the story. During the last century, the United States’ free market medical care system was rewarded with 72 Nobel prizes. The Soviet Union, which invented the nationalized health care system, won none. Zero. (Tsarist Russia did get one Nobel Prize for medicine in 1904, for Pavlov’s conditional reflex theory.)
There is no better way to visualize the eventual disaster that a nationalized health care system can generate than to watch The Death of Mr. Lazarescu. This movie was inspired by the heartbreaking true story of Constantin Nica, a real retired Romanian engineer who had the misfortune of growing old in a country that still maintained a nightmarish government health care bureaucracy twenty years after its last Communist dictator was gunned down by his own people.
I have written elsewhere — but it is worth repeating — about another disastrous consequence of a health care system run by bureaucrats: baksheesh. People in the U.S. are not used to having to pay bribes to get things done. In Communist Romania, however, baksheesh was the only way to get an appointment with a reliable doctor or a clean bed in a hospital. In 2008 The Lancet reported that in Russia each doctor and nurse still had “his or her little tax,” and that “they all prefer cash in envelopes, of course.” Nurses took 50 rubles to empty a bedpan and 200 rubles to give an enema. Operations started at 300 rubles, but “the sky’s the limit.”[iv] In the U.S., baksheesh might not start out as such blatant bribes, but bribery is sure to soon become the rule in one way or another. ...
This is a very important piece and you should really RTWT.  We need to know these facts ourselves and be able to recount them so that when some useful idiot prattles on like this one over BRM, maybe we could load the facts on the end of a clue by four and implant those facts.
Obamacare Organizational Chart    

Sunday, July 8, 2012

I Think It's My First Time

but I don't know.  I only know no date rape drug was involved. 

Blog brother Borepatch commented on one of my older posts to point out that it had been nabbed by a blog scraper.  I was only dimly aware of the term and had never looked into it.  I don't want to post any links to the blogger (apparently in Turkey, judging by some of the language on the page) but they seem to be a pretty epic failure at it.  If the purpose of scraping a blog is to get eyes to look at your page for the ads while not having to do any actual work, they're pretty bad.  Although they have about 3 search engine pages full of different blogs - I assume all stolen content - I didn't see a single ad.  On the one blog I visited, they had a half dozen of my fairly recent posts stolen, images and all.  No ads. 

I don't know this is the first time my material has been stolen, and wouldn't have known without the tip, but it feels kind of creepy.  Kind of violated; mind-raped in a way.  I understand there is some software (Copyscape for example) that might help us know it's going on, but I don't really know how good that software is, or if there's really any way to prevent it.  Some of the "Tips for Bloggers" pages seem to say, "yeah, your stuff will be stolen - get over it".  

Frankly, the only part I really mind is them taking the posts and not leaving credit.  If you want to use anything I've written, all I really ask is acknowledgement, just as I give links back to others if I quote from them.  It's just polite. 

Because of the slight feeling of being violated I'm less inclined to post about how I spent the weekend, but it was a bit more manual-labor-intensive than I expected.  Time for a little Tylenol and Celebrex, along with a band-aid or two. 
(note: I used the illustration before, and didn't credit it then... that means I thought I was free to use it... I don't mean to be scraping someone else' stuff!")

Friday, July 6, 2012

It's National Training Week

Some doods somewhere (actually a bunch of doods) declared this to be National Training Week, a time to take your gun to your local range, while you still can. 
So the lovely but deadly Mrs. Graybeard and I loaded up a few guns and headed to our favorite range, for a few hours of shooty fun this afternoon. 

When we dove into the new "gun culture 2.0 movement" and applied for our concealed carry permits, the post-election frenzy was in full swing - March of '09.  After doing a bit of reading, and trying a few different guns with our instructor, we settled on a pair of Springfield XDms, the original models, in 40S&W.  They were our only handguns for many months as we got a better idea of what we like and don't like and got some training.  By now, we have a good couple of thousand rounds through each gun.

Now XDms are excellent pistols; they're as reliable as anything, but they're a full-sized service pistol, not a small, easily concealed gun.  While I can carry it in the winter, I've changed my "EDC" with weather/season a bit - these stories are in the history of this blog.  Here in the Silicon Swamp of central Florida, it's getting to be the time of year when you can melt lead on the sidewalk (melting aluminum comes next month), so vests and even big, baggy shirts are tough to wear.  Most of the year, I carry an XD subcompact in 9mm, and as I sit here, I have the TCP .380 auto in my gym shorts pockets (sorry - too much information - you'll have to get your own brain bleach to get that image out of your heads).  The two of us were sitting around a few weeks back and started trying to remember the last time we shot our XDms.  We decided it was a long time ago.  Needless to say, that was the purpose of today's trip.

Both of us found that the XDm performs exactly like the XD subcompact.  You pick it up and it's like you never put it down.  What's that old line the commercials?  "No muss, no fuss, no bother"?  We also brought our .22s.  A few boxes of .40 and as much .22 as you want. 

"A splendid time was had by all".

Is Obamacare A Tax or a Penalty?

Does it really matter?  Either way, you're screwed.  (From Foden at Townhall)

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Over-Regulation Nation

If you've been here a few times, you'll know that beside common sense economics and playing with guns, one of my favorite topics is over regulation, and especially the costs it imposes on us - dollar costs, or costs in freedom.  In addition to my series "More Tales From the Over Regulated State", I posted back in March about a web site we could go to, Regulations.gov, that tells us how many regulations are being created.  That post had this line:
In the last 90 days, the Fed.gov has issued 5999 new regulations
It's interesting that this wasn't some sort of unusual number.  They weren't rushing to meet some deadline, some sort of perverse "rush job", and put out a lot of extra regulations; no, they do it all the time.  Here's today's screen capture:
You can see in the last 90 days (it has been about 120 since that post on March 5th), they have issued 6083 new regulations.  I've checked it now and then since March and always found it around 6000 regulations in 90 days; 2000 per month, 125-ish per day.  Some of these are just bureaucratic flotsam and jetsam; mind-numbingly routine things like "Olives Grown in California: Increased Assessment Rate" - others will bring major, expensive changes.

John Ransom, over at Townhall.com is on this topic, too, today in "The Last Socialist in America"; wishfully thinking that Americans are so disgusted by the mess the current administration is making that there will never be another socialist in office in this country.  He talks about a study "Red Tape Rising" from the Heritage Foundation on the impacts and cost of these regulations:
“Overall, the Obama Administration imposed 75 new major regulations from January 2009 to mid-FY 2011, with annual costs of $38 billion,” reports Heritage.  In contrast, there were only six deregulatory actions by the Obama administration saving $1.5 billion says the Heritage report.  (emphasis added)
Before I drop the next sentence, I want to remind you that our annual budget deficit is about $1.3 trillion dollars.
In terms of the overall impact on the economic health of the country, the figure is much higher.  “More specifically, the total cost of federal regulations has increased to $1.75 trillion,” writes the federal government’s own Small Business Administration
Which, of course, says the cost of regulation is bigger than the budget deficit.  That's how much more money could be flowing into the pockets of Americans without this regulatory burden.  Furthermore, with an administration that has demonstrated cronyism over and over, it shouldn't be a surprise that small businesses bear a bigger chunk of this regulatory cost - a tax by any other name - than the big campaign donors - um - big companies.   According to the Small Business Administration:
Because it prevents the creation of more jobs, however, it hits the poor and middle class particularly hard, “while the updated cost per employee for firms with fewer than 20 employees is now $10,585 (a 36 percent differ­ence between the costs incurred by small firms when compared with their larger counterparts),” says the SBA  In other words, small employers take it on the chin even harder than the big guys. While Obama’s rhetoric panders to the little guys, his actions seemed geared to favor the big guys instead.  
The Code of Federal Regulations expanded to 163,000 pages in 2009, and the rate of growth is accelerating.  The number of "major" regulations continues to grow.

A year ago, I asked, "How Many Federal Crimes Did You Commit Today?", quoting author Harry Silvergate from Reason Magazine saying the average person commits three federal crimes per day.  Don't think that not knowing if something is illegal is any excuse;  there are many people in jail who had no idea they were doing anything wrong. 
The register Code of Federal Regulations hit a record 163,000 pages in 2009 and the number of pending regulations costing more than $100 million has more than doubled according to Heritage. And once on the books, regulations are almost impossible to get rid of. One regulation that’s been requested for elimination for over four years, says Heritage, is one that treats “milk as an ‘oil,’ thus requiring dairy spills to be treated as hazardous. According to the agency, exempting milk from the regulation will save dairies around $1.4 billion over the next 10 years.” And yet this regulation still sits on the books four years later, even with the support of the Obama administration in getting rid of it. 

Now, according to the Center for Fiscal Accountability, when we add in the costs of [implementation] of just Obamacare over the next ten years the costs soar another $230 billion per year.
Not including the costs of premiums going up - which is already the case for many people.

We are becoming a country bound by our regulations, unable to move, and society is becoming a make work program for lawyers in which whether you are free or in prison is just a matter of luck.  Everyone violates three federal laws per day, some just happen to get caught in the "system".  You are at the mercy of whoever decides to find something to charge you with, because anything can be argued to be illegal. 

The 163,000 ++ page Code of Federal Regulations must be cut down in size.  I swear you could throw out 3/4 of it and not negatively impact a single person's life - except for the lawyers and prosecutors who would need to find honest work.