Saturday, December 31, 2011

Never Put Ketchup on a Hot Dog

You ever have a craving for something that you loved growing up? Vienna Red Hot, mustard, pickle spear (kosher), emerald relish, onions, tomato wedge, sport peppers* and celery salt. (That's a Chicago-style dog) Probably not the healthiest meal in the world, but 2 with everything and a side of fries would be just about perfect right now.

* Sport peppers are pickled Serrano peppers. Affectionately known as "The little green bullets from hell."

Friday, December 30, 2011

Minor Disaster in the Real World

A little kitchen fire, caused by a moments inattention. Took out stove, microwave and the counter top. No real damage, except to my ego. A little painting. A new stove, microwave, and upgraded counters - none of which is in the budget. Such is my life.

Blogging will probably be non-existent for a while.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Crazy Ocean Sailing

The Volvo Ocean Race is underway. Previously known as the Whitbread Around the World Race, that is exactly what it is. This year to deal with the very real threat to piracy in the region around Somalia, the boats were shipped in a large vessel around that area. Good planning.

Now they only have to deal with Iranian war games in the Strait of Hormuz.
On Saturday, Iran’s navy began a ten day drill involving warships, submarines, unmanned planes, missiles and torpedoes to showcase its defence capabilities in response to the international criticism over Iran’s nuclear programme.

With US Navy vessels in close proximity to Iranian ships, innocent errors could quickly escalate into international incidents and although the Volvo navigators will have been briefed meticulously before the second leg started
The Iranians have arrested folks before who strayed to close to their shore.

Also under way is the Australian, Blue Water Classic, or more officially known as the Rolex Sydney-Hobart Race. So far 7 yachts have "retired" from that race. This is the race that in 1998 saw 6 boats sink, and 5 people die due to bad weather. So far this year, things are going better than that.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Your Tax Dollars At Work On Disability

Oh the joys of being a public employee. John Sierchio, crusader against police, firefighter disability fraud | NJ.com

You see in the real world if you file for disability you are usually in for a rough time. Even with disability insurance and social security it isn't a lot. And most people just have Social Security. But when you are a cop or a firefighter in New Jersey, disability doesn't look too bad.
Incredibly, a tax-free disability check after only five years of service can be more than a straight pension after 25 years.
So if you were faced with 20 years of risking your life for a pension, or 10 minutes of fraud for a better pension, which would you choose? Well it seems at least some of the NJ's finest are opting for the fraud.
Did I tell you the one about the firefighter who failed a drug test? He knew he was going to come back dirty for cocaine, so he filed a disability claim before he could be fired. He said he fell off a fire truck two years earlier and hurt his knee, and now we’re paying a drug user for the rest of his life.
Billions of dollars of fraud. Not very many people investigating. I don't could it be because the criminals are on the inside of the system?
In 2010, the state paid $163 million in disability pensions to cops and firemen, and in 20 years, if disabilities continue to climb at the current rate, the state will choke on a half-billion dollars in annual payments just to cops and firefighters, Sierchio says.
And as pensions get tightened in the years to come taking that bird in the hand might look better and better.

And of course, even it you wanted to do something, the system is rigged.
Here’s how to get a disability pension: Find two doctors (any two doctors) to attest to a “disability,” then get the medical review board to sign off — which is easy, experts say, because those doctors spend about 15 minutes with a patient and usually rubber-stamp the diagnoses from patients’ doctors.

In short, the system is rigged to say yes (experts say a state Supreme Court ruling that loosened the rules is greatly to blame), so even when Sierchio smells a rat, the board often has to grant the award.
While this story is about New Jersey, I am sure it isn't only happening in New Jersey.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Musical Interlude

I mostly find the videos distracting, but open a window in the background and enjoy.



Björk won't let you embed her videos. So you have to click through to Human Behavior.



They Agreed to a 50% Loss, Now Greece Wants to Up That

Forget about return on your investment. These guys have already agreed to a 50% loss, but through accounting games Greece, and the IMF, want the loss to be more than 50%. Greece’s Creditors Resist IMF Push for Bigger Losses
Hedge fund officials said that they would not accept a net present value loss that was higher than 50%, and were quoted in an e-mail saying, “Vega needs to start considering all available legal options to refuse and challenge any exchange” that leads to a loss of more than 50%.
Instead of getting 100% of their money plus interest now (or early next year) they have agreed to get 15% of their money now and accept new Greek bonds (what are those worth?) for 35% of their money. The other 50% is the cost of doing business with European sovereign nations. But now the Greeks want to pay an interest rate, so low that the net present value of those bonds are less than 35% of the amount they originally agreed to pay, and hits the bondholders with a more-than-50% loss. Which is what everybody thought they just agreed to.

So they definitely lied once. (When they agreed to return 100% of principle plus interest.) And now they seem to be lying again. (Offering less than 50 cents on the Euro.) Why would anyone believe anything that the Greek government ever says, ever again?

And the trampling of democracy continues.
Officials in the new government have conceded that a tentative Feb. 19 date for general elections is likely to be delayed to sometime in the spring, given the number of reforms requiring parliamentary approval.
Can't have elections until the Greeks' sovereignty is handed over to Brussels, or Berlin.

I wonder how long the unelected government of Greece can go on holding off elections for "just a little while" because there are things Brussels' needs to have them do?

Tinsel is Distracting

When you own a sailboat, there is a large aluminum pole (called a mast) in the middle of the boat. "Very high strength-to-weight ratio." Makes it almost impossible to not at least consider celebrating with the Costanza clan.
The tradition of Festivus begins with the Airing of Grievances. I got a lot of problems with you people! And now, you're gonna hear about it.
Happy Festivus. Feats of Strength, anyone?

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

And Here I Thought the Greek Debt Issue Was a Done Deal

Not so fast. It seems that there are still negotiations. Fund threatens to sue over Greek bond losses - FT.com And when you threaten to sue, things are probably not going real well.
European leaders had hoped to complete the deal by the year’s end through a bond swap, where debt holders exchange their holdings for new bonds worth less. Greece is facing a bond repayment of €14.4bn on March 20 and officials are pushing to get a deal done well in advance so that Athens did not have to pay the full amount.

But the deal’s details were left open and bondholder representatives said the two sides remained far apart on financial specifics. Despite the agreed 50 per cent nominal haircut, the long-term value of the new bonds can change significantly by adjusting their interest rates.
And of course the bankers EU politicians want the banks to made whole.
Vega complained about the refusal of the European Central Bank to take any losses on its holdings or for Greek banks – in effect wards of the state – to accept write downs.
So both sides are still far apart, the Greek people are still not happy with austerity, the Germans are not thrilled about footing the bill. In short, no one is happy but the bureaucrats and the bankers (who don't want to take any losses). Now I am a firm believer in capitalism, but if the bonds are bad, then everybody should be in the same boat. There shouldn't be 2 classes of bondholders: the banks, and everyone else. That isn't capitalism. That is cronyism.

Some Days I Want to Ditch the Cell-phone and Credit Cards

Small businesses don't invest in security. People don't follow directions. What a surprise. Hackers Stealing $3 Million from Subway Means You Should Probably Pay with Cash
If you've eaten at a Subway recently, there's a slight chance that you might've got your credit card information stolen. Okay probably not! But a group of Romanian hackers have managed to hack into Subway cash registers and have been logging down all sorts of customer info since 2008.
I'm sure this is old news. But maybe I will go back to using cash.

Restraining Order Fails, Woman Stabbed to Death in Walmart

Man accused in Walmart stabbing denied bond | The Greenville News | GreenvilleOnline.com

He abused her on Oct 30th. His bond was set at $5242 on Oct 31st. On Dec 10th he killed her. She had secured a restraining order against him. See how effective it was.

The courts cannot protect you. The Supreme Court has ruled numerous times that the police have no duty to protect you. If you think you need an order of protection, then you might also need a plan for your personal safety.

A gun may not have saved this woman, and the fact that she was at work might mean she was disarmed by corporate policy, but it is clear that "the system" failed Lilia Blandin, and her three motherless children.

Two Teenagers with Baseball Bats Break Into a Home. One is Shot

Police are "unsure of the motives." If you break into my home at 5AM with a baseball bat, I am going to assume you are up to no good. 14-year-old shot after reportedly breaking into Eastern WA home | NWCN.com Washington - Oregon - Idaho
Police say the homeowner woke to noises in a back room of his home. He reportedly grabbed his pistol and went to investigate the disturbance. He allegedly found two people in his home and shot one of them.
If you break into enough homes you will eventually run into an armed homeowner. The results should surprise no one.

The guy who got shot is in the hospital under police guard. They guy who ran like a rabbit was "contacted later at his home by police."

Of course the gun-fearing weenies will call this a "teen tragically shot," because little things like violent felonies and justifiable self-defense just don't interest them.

Good Guys 2, Bad Guys 0.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Thursday, December 15, 2011

“we won't pay”

The people of Portugal aren't too happy with the Franco-German-lead EU and the ECB (Not to mention the IMF). Talk of 'nuclear default' sums up Left's anger at EU dictates - Telegraph

The folks in Portugal are pissed off that their parliament has just turned over the keys to kingdom to the Germans. They have adopted the latest austerity program dictated from Brussels. Or Berlin, one of the two. And the socialist response? Let's not pay anything.

The Greeks just said they wouldn't pay half their debts. The Portuguese want to see that bet and raise.

Personally I don't think any of this is a good idea, but if they put it a vote and the people say no, then they will have to live with the consequences. And those won't be pretty.

But people have a right to be stupid. They stupidly stood by while their countries ran up unsustainable amounts of debt. (Stop me if this sounds familiar) And now they are pissed that someone actually expects them to pay that debt back. So fine, they can not pay. But their countries have been living on debt since forever, and while they could print money - if they had their own money - you can only do that if people are willing to accept is as money. If not, you end up with hyperinflation, or complete currency collapse.

They are pissed that public-sector workers are going to be hit with an 8% pay cut. (16% if they are "highly paid.") So how will the feel if they keep that 8%, but the money they are paid with is worth nothing? Or very little?

But then countries decide to default on their debt all the time. Who said, "Those who are ignorant of history are condemned to repeat it?"

Eventually, people who were signed up for burdens by their parents or grandparents, decide they aren't going to pay the bill. It will happen in Europe. It may happen here given enough time and abrasion.

Io, Saturnalia!

Origin of Yule RE: The War on Christmas™ and the real reason for the season.
In order to convert the masses, no pun intended, the Church and the Christian leaders took the practice of the people and "bastardized" them into Christian observances. Hence the old Yule practices of the immortal evergreen, the holly, mistletoe, the Sun God being born of the Goddess, were converted to the Christian teachings.
Back in the day, the Winter Solstice was on December 25th. But when putting Christmas on the 25th didn't quite stamp out all the other celebrations, the Catholic Church re-engineered the calendar and just happened to move the solstice to the 21st.

It isn't the only celebration they co-opted.
Imbolc, Feb. 2, was originally the goddess Brigit’s day, not to be confused with the Church’s St. Bridget, and Feb. 2 was changed into the Feast of the Presentation of Mary. May 1 is the Pagan celebration of Beltane, and Samhaim, or Halloween, was changed to All Hallows Eve, the eve of the Feast of All Saints.
While I'm not Wiccan, I think it crazy to forget that not everyone celebrates your holidays. Wishing them a Merry Christmas isn't offensive, or it shouldn't be, but interrogating them to see if they have their tree decorated or their shopping done is either just plain stupid, or in poor taste. (Almost as bad as pretending observe Hanukkah, but not actually waiting for Hanukkah to begin to do the observing. "Can you image the worldwide rage if the Obamas played fast and loose with a Muslim holiday?")

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Chicago Police Misconduct Costs Millions

Chicago police wrongdoings to cost taxpayers $4 millionM Interesting look at the "professional" deportment of the Chicago PD.
The Finance Committee is routinely asked to approve multi-million-dollar pay-outs to victims of police brutality. But, seldom are aldermen asked to approve so many big-ticket settlements stemming from such egregious conduct on the same day, involving officers who were never punished for their actions.

That’s what happened Monday.
A woman who complained of chest pains was written off as "dope sick" instead of offered any treatment. Her death cost the taxpayer $2.02 million.

One guy was found dead in Chicago's central detention unit. By the time paramedics got to him, he was in full rigor. (That takes at LEAST two hours.) Other inmates said he had been screaming in pain for hours, and tried to get anyone's attention. That cost the city $1 million.
Ald. Willie Cochran (20th), a former Chicago Police officer, called the case “really disturbing.”

“I was the watch commander in Central detention for three years and part of the process is that supervisors, as well as detention aides, go and check the cells every 15 minutes,” Cochran said.
Why follow procedures? Why have an ounce of human decency? They aren't cops, they are only "little people." Can't be bothered.

And as the first quote points out, all the people responsible for all the death are still on the job. Probably still ignoring cries for help. Professionals.

Because Self-defense is a Human Right

Prosecutor: No Charges Against Store Owner Who Shot Intruder
Davis said the store owner appeared to defending himself after he heard the window of the store being broken out and someone trying to gain access. Reports say he fired two shots at Givens striking him in the head.
Good Guys 1, Bad Guys 0.

Denmark To Follow UK's Lead and Stay Out of New Euro-pact

I wonder if they will throw stones at Denmark the way they have been throwing them at the UK. Denmark unlikely to vote on EU crisis pact - CBS News

The Danish referendum under which they joined the EU, specifically said they would stay out of the single currency. (Maintaining control of their own monetary policy.)
In 1993, Danish voters approved a revised EU treaty, allowing Denmark to stay outside a single EU currency.

Helle Thorning-Schmidt says the waiver "must be respected,"
I wouldn't count on it. Changing the rules without bothering to ask the people if they approve is SOP of the Brussels crowd these days. (Democracy is so untidy.)

Useless Nitwits Dither Over Syria

Syria crisis: UN divisions deepen as death toll rises by another 1,000 in just 10 days - Telegraph

It isn't often that I agree with the French.
, Gerard Araud, the French ambassador to the UN, said: "It is scandalous that the council, because of opposition from some members and the indifference of others has not been able to act to exert pressure on the Syrian authorities."
The Russians and others are blocking any moves. And they blame armed anti-Assad groups for the mayhem.

Can we please admit that the UN is the most useless debating society ever, and that it is time to stop funding it? What exactly does it do?

Monday, December 12, 2011

Maritime Piracy: Still a Growth Business

No one seems to care. British ex-servicemen battling to protect international shipping from Somali pirates | Mail Online

Could it be that authorities in the Horn of Africa are working with the pirates?
Minutes earlier, the Djibouti police had boarded the ship to take charge of their AK-47s, because they were in Djibouti waters without the correct permits. The guns would be taken to the port armoury to be locked in packing cases stamped with the security firm’s logo. That meant the British team were now guarding, unarmed, a multimillion-dollar target, in the most dangerous seas in the world, the Somali-pirate-infested waters around the Horn of Africa. Just then the dots in the distance turned into the sight they’d been dreading.

‘Fifteen minutes after the Djibouti police took our weapons, over the horizon came a whole load of fishing boats,’ says Matt, who served in the SAS before leaving 20 years ago to work in the highly secretive – and lucrative – ex-special-forces industry known as ‘The Circuit’.
This is an interesting look at the folks who are trying to do something about the state of piracy in the Gulf of Aden. And it is a reminder that the problem hasn't gone away, even if the news media (*spit*) hasn't got the time to cover anything like real news. (Not when celebrities are getting kicked off airplanes for refusing to shut down electronic devices.)
At the time of writing, so far this year there have been 228 attacks by Somali pirates, 26 successful hijackings and 450 people taken hostage – an increase on last year. There are currently 11 ships and 194 crew members being held in the pirate anchorages off the coast of Somalia.
In a less "civilized" age, the pirates would have been killed by marines (both the British and American marines have fought pirates). But now we know that is crass.

So far, the official .gov response on all sides has been less than effective. One might almost call it a cluster-fuck. So private firms are trying to stitch together solutions, made harder by the fact that "guns are bad" is still a feeling shared by a lot of the governments of the world. (Look at that first quote - the "authorities" confiscated the guns, right before their friends sailed over the horizon. Or do you believe in coincidence?)

Cheerleading Over European Debt Deal

Italian Borrowing Costs Drop in Bond Auction - TIME "Drop" sounds significant and they do use the word "significant" to discuss the change in rate.
Italy easily sold euro7 billion ($9.4 billion) in 12-month bonds on Monday at an interest rate of 5.92 percent, down from last month's record of 6.087 percent.
That's a significant change? From 6.087 to 5.92 percent is a "drop?" Really? That is a change of 0.187 percent. While it is greater than 0, it is less than impressive.

The powers-that-be seem to want the Euro to succeed even at the cost of democracy in Europe. Of course the French half of Merkozy - French President Sarkozy - faces re-election in the spring. And I think Ireland would have to have a referendum on a change to the treaty. So the fat lady hasn't sung yet.

And that 0.187 drop for Italy comes amid the euphoria of Friday's "deal." Give it another few weeks, and lets talk about interest rates.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Chevy Volt Fires



A Fire in a garage? Related to a charging unit? Hmmmmmmm.

This video is from Fast Lane Daily.

I Am Completely Happy

Penne Campagnola - penne (of course), Italian sausage, onions, peppers and crushed olives in a tomato sauce. (Of course Campanola SHOULD have mushrooms, but I much prefer crushed black olives.) Broccoli with cheese, Texas toast (garlic of course) and a Zinfandel. The Zin is a little disappointing, but I made this batch with spicy Italian sausage, which I have to admit was a mistake. Sweet Italian sausage is more than flavorful enough.

That last piece of Texas toast was probably a mistake, as well. Guess I will save the desert for breakfast.

In That Place Where Great Britain Used To Be

You have to be in bad shape if you aren't qualified to stock shelves. Morrisons forced to retrain school-leavers - Telegraph ["School Leavers" is British for "Drop Out."]
Morrisons, Britain's fourth-biggest supermarket with 135,000 employees, found that many of its applicants in Salford, Greater Manchester, lacked even the basic skills needed to stack shelves and serve customers.

While some had a poor grasp of maths and English, others lacked simple skills such as turning up on time and making eye contact.

Norman Pickavance, the human resources director of Morrisons, said: "Many of the people were just not job ready. They lacked a lot of confidence and social skills. It is quite clear the education system has failed them.

"Whatever the environment has been at school, it has not been conducive to instilling basic skills. It is a crying shame."
If you can't stock shelves, you don't have many prospects.

Life on the Dole.

Some of these kids have no model for someone going to work. And the problem isn't getting better.
He said the main problem was school-leavers whose parents and grandparents who had never worked and lacked the aspiration to work.
[snip]

Government figures show that in 2.5 per cent of households in north-west England, no adult has ever worked – the highest in the country after inner London.
People in England are found to not have a suitable grasp of the English language, and punctuality is unknown to many.

It's sad really. What do you do with a population who has no "aspiration" to work and make their lives better?

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Government Motors: Can't Say Bad Things About the Volt

The Volt has problems. The Volt has had problems. Too bad the government body responsible of automobile safety didn't bother to say anything. Chevrolet Volt Battery Issues Growing, Safety Findings May Have Been Suppressed | AutoGuide.com News
Apparently, way back in June, General Motors heard about a Volt fire that happened three weeks after said vehicle was crash tested, yet it wasn’t until November that the company, or NHTSA disclosed there was a potential problem, urging both dealers and customers to drain the battery pack immediately following an accident.

As a result the public relations nightmare surrounding Chevy’s halo vehicle appears to be deepening, though a good deal of the blame in this case also rests with NHTSA.

Joan Claybrook, a former adminstrator at NHTSA believes part of the reason for the delay was the “fragility of Volt sales.” Yet she also believes that “NHTSA could have put out a consumer alert, not to tell them [customers] for six months makes no sense to me.”
Of course it makes sense. They are Government Motors. Socialized (i.e. handed to the Unions, and the rest "owned" by the government) by Dear Leader. Why would anybody say anything.

GM is now "redesigning" the lithium-ion battery system.

I said there was a problem a while back, and was jumped on for being "anti-environment." Of course the truth is that there was a problem. GM didn't put in much time on the Volt's battery compared to say Tesla.

The official "procedure" today is to power down the battery after a crash. But that is today.
until July it hadn’t finalized a standard proceedure to power down the battery system, the Volt had already been on sale in the US for six months at that juncture.
So no way for anyone to take these precautions for 6 months. Why wasn't the debut delayed until it was safe? Probably because the government - and government motors probably feels the same way - doesn't have to worry about little details like that.

$3K Fine for Assault with a Deadly Weapon

If anybody besides an off-duty Chicago Cop had done this, its legality wouldn't still be under investigation.Jury awards $3K to man shot at by Chicago cop - chicagotribune.com

The cop in question was pissed that his ex-girlfriend was actually his ex-girlfriend and that she would dare to date someone else.

The night ended when the cop shot the door of the new-boyfriend's car. (After throwing a soda at the woman.)

But instead of being charged with battery for the soda, and something for discharging his service weapon, the new-boyfriend is arrested and charged with 2 misdemeanors. Those charges were later dropped of course.

The cop? He is still on the job. The "Independent Police Review Authority" is still investigating. The incident in question happened in 2007, and they haven't figured it out yet.

Thugs with badges.

Now That's What You Call Ironic

Mark Zuckerberg victim of Facebook security glitch - Telegraph
Mark Zuckerberg, the billionaire founder of Facebook, has fallen victim to a security glitch in the social networking site which allowed hackers to steal his own personal photographs.
Mark Z. has "personal" photos? I thought he was the guy who said privacy is overrated, or antiquated or something.
The security breach came at an embarrassing time for the world's largest online social network website, which last month agreed a settlement with the US Federal Trade Commission over privacy concerns.

The US Government regulator had accused Facebook of often misleading its users about the sanctity of their personal information.
Another reason not to use facebook.

I still believe privacy is important.

He Suffered a Breakdown of the “Victim Selction Process”

Don't try to rob a mixed-martial-arts fighter.
Video after the break

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Best Summary of European Debt Crisis


From the London Telegraph.

Sounds Like Civil War

Inside Syria: Soldiers defecting to join rebels - CBS News
[Members of the Free Syrian Army] are former Syrian soldiers. They say they refused orders to fire on their own countrymen, and so decided to take up arms against the Assad regime.

The commander spoke off-camera, for his own security. He said, "We are fighting those who have made our children orphans and our wives, widows."
No way to tell how many there are, but what started as protests is turning into a full-on civil war in Syria.

So tell me again why NATO had a duty to protect civilians in Libya, and NATO (or anybody for that matter) has no duty to protect civilians in Syria. Couldn't be the dependence on Libyan oil? Seems like "No Blood For Oil" was a big statement when a Republican was in the White House.

Monday, December 05, 2011

Really, You Have to Rewrite “Deck the Halls” to remove "Gay"

Some people have too much time on their hands. Teacher strips word "gay" from Christmas carol : News : UpNorthLive.com
The music teacher at Cherry Knoll removed the word "gay" from the song Deck the Halls because the children kept giggling. Instead students were taught to sing "don we now our bright apparel".
I thought they removed Christmas from public schools. You know, as part of the War on Christmas™. I guess "Deck the Halls" made the cut because of all those Yule references. (It must be a Wiccan song.)

UPDATE: Some perspective on the War On Christmas.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Everyone Dies, That's Just the Way It Is

Well you probably aren't interested in my "TV" viewing habits, but they are bound to interrupt blogging for a day or 2.

I unpacked my copy of Dead Like Meseason 1.

If you appreciate dark humor, you might like this. Like so many shows, that were really good, it got canceled to early. It only made it through 2 seasons, though they did one straight-to-dvd movie (which I haven't seen.)

Aside from the fact that I do like Ellen Muth, this is one of the better roles for Mandy Patinkin.

The UK National Heath Service: Killing People?

IWF - On The Road To Liverpool
It seems that every year “thousands” of patients in the U.K. are put on the benignly-named “Liverpool Care Pathway,” but neither they nor their families are told. The Liverpool Care Pathway is--in fact--the withdrawal of care:
No food. No water. Sedate them so they can't request food or water. To give them a "good death" without "unnecessary and burdensome" care.
Unpack this: “unnecessary and burdensome” = expensive; “artificial hydration and nutrition” = hydration and nutrition delivered to patients who can no longer feed themselves; “good death”=dying of thirst.
Don't you just love the caring type of treatment known as socialized medicine?

Or as Tam said the other day,
Look, without getting into my usual rants about public education (in which I point out that the adjective "public" modifies the noun "school" the same way it does "transportation" or "restroom": serving as a warning that it is filthy and full of junkies and criminals
I think you can include Public Health Care in that list.

It Isn't Often a Congressional Hearing is Entertaining

But when you invite Mike Rowe of Dirty Jobs to speak, it is entertaining.



Mike Rowe Speaks To Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee [05-11-11]

Friday, December 02, 2011

Store Owner Shoots Robber

Watch This Guy Shoot A Robber | New Haven IndependentWith security video - though you don't have to see the guy actually get shot.
After Jawad got his pistol and permit in April he posted signs in front of the counter to inform customers—and anyone up to no good—that someone who works at the store had a gun.
“I guess he didn’t read it well,” Jawad said, chuckling.
A copy of his NRA Basic Pistol course certificate, and a sign reading, "Never mind the dog. Beware of owner," with a drawing of a revolver.

The store owner, Karar Jawad, 22, took over ownership from his father. He shot the armed bad guy 2 times.

The bad guy, one of 2 in the store, with a 3rd in the getaway vehicle, was dumped at a hospital by his associates. He is currently held by police.
[Police Lt.] Johnson confirmed Jawad has a permit for his gun. Even if he hadn’t had one, a storeowner or clerk is allowed to keep one at work and use it if his life is threatened, Johnson said. Jawad definitely had reason to fear for his life, Johnson said, and he had a legal right to fire at the alleged robber. As a result, police did not charge him with a crime.
Self-defense is a human-right. Good Guys 1, Bad Guys 0.

Much Ado About Not Much

EuroThe World from Berlin: 'Central Banks' Coordinated�Move Has Solved Nothing' - SPIEGEL ONLINE
Global stock markets on Wednesday were euphoric after the major central banks around the world made it easier for banks to access dollars. But the euro-zone debt crisis rages on nonetheless. At the most, say German commentators, Wednesday's move merely buys some time -- but not much
The bankers are determined to save the Euro, because the Eurozone is shaping up to be dictatorship of the bankers. So the Fed dumped billions of US dollars on the European banks. Because what's his name believes he is saving the us from the Great Depression 2.0.

First of all, the situation is grave. Even worse apparently than the bankers want to admit.
The Financial Times Deutschland writes:

"While it is important that the central banks ensure that financial institutions have access to money, the massive intervention is a shrill warning signal. The banking system, it would seem, was close to collapse. Many banks no longer trusted each other and ceased lending to one another. European institutions, in particular, were having a hard time getting access to enough dollars because US money market funds, for example, have become mistrustful. The danger that some European banks would become illiquid or insolvent was apparently greater than many thought."
But as Die Welt points out, this is like giving a fix to a drug addict. Detox isn't pleasant, but probably indicated anyway.
The fact is that the world economy is on drugs -- and they're called credit. The debt burden on states and banks has piled so high that a difficult detox with unpredictable consequences can only be hindered with even more money.

It's clear that politicians will look to the central banks more and more because the glut of money doesn't need approval from any parliament. And the consequences will only be clear years from now, namely, in the form of increasingly swift inflation. This way, just like drug addicts, we're only buying more time. And without the essential therapy, we're only making the withdrawal and later recovery more difficult.
They can pump money into the banks because central banks create money, but eventually they create inflation.

It's funny really. Central banks are supposed to control inflation. But they seem to create an awful lot of it. Currency. Fiat currency has failed in the past. Brazil had an inflation rate of better than 1000% for several years and one year it stretched all the way to 30,000% or more. Germany had people carrying bank-notes around in wheelbarrows. People would dump the bank notes, and steel the wheelbarrow.

Is it happening again? The price of gold is getting awfully high relative to the dollar. Another bubble or the canary in the mine?

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Shortage of Doctors, or Government Intervention?

It isn't good to have a medical emergency in the UK. Bowel cancer patients dying due to lack of surgeons - Telegraph

OK, emergency surgery is by definition more of a problem than if you had been diagnosed early, and your doctor had planned for the event.
However, surgeons believe it is also because hospitals have tended to prioritise pre-planned surgery over emergency surgery, due to the way they are paid.

Professor Paul Finan from Leeds General Infirmary, lead author of the audit, said: "There has been a real push to do elective [pre-planned] surgery to reduce waiting times, and emergency surgery has become a bit of Cinderella.
There are government regulations about waiting time, you see. And if you show up in the Emergency Ward (ER on this side of the pond) you haven't been waiting long. Even if any waiting might mean you will die. (And you do, at a slightly higher rate of 2.4%.)

Now only an idiot (or a government bureaucrat) would ignore the difference between planned - or elective - surgery and emergency surgery. But that is exactly what the British have with their socialized medicine.

The Insanity of the Criminal Justice System

Adams County Sued Over Deaf Man Held 25 Days � CBS Denver More criminal than anything else.

He was basically arrested for being deaf. Once arrested, they couldn't be bothered to get an interpreter.
The Denver Post reports Siaki doesn’t read or write English or read lips, but he does communicate through American Sign Language. Deputies arrested Siaki after a noise complaint at a motel where Siaki and his fiancDee were verbalizing sounds while arguing.

Deputies responding to the complaint knocked down the motel-room door and tackled Siaki after he failed to respond to their commands.
That's great. Tackle a deaf man because his deafness is an affront to your authority.
The suit claims Adams County is violating the ADA by failing to provide an interpreter or auxiliary aids for deaf suspects during their arrest and booking process.

“To this day,” [the lawyer] said, “we don’t know why he was held for 25 days.”
So, is this cops behaving badly, or just cops being most stupid jerks on the face of the planet? [via]

That's One More Bad Guy Off the Streets

Self-defense wraps this up nicely and hands the police a confession. Armed robbery suspect shot, confesses in 911 call | WCNC.com Charlotte

The store in question has been robbed 3 times in as many weeks. This time the clerk was armed, and shot this guy twice.
The suspect, John Arthur Davidson III, is in the hospital in serious condition with two bullet wounds. Investigators are waiting until he gets out to arrest and charge him. He was wanted on outstanding drug warrants as well, police said.
He stumbles out of the store, calls 911 and confesses on the 911 recording to trying to rob the store and getting shot for his trouble.

Good Guys 1 - Bad Guys 0.