Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Another Reason Not to Use Facebook

Privacy on Facebook? Zuckerberg said privacy was a quaint, antique kind of notion. And then went on to prove it. Facebook forced to overhaul privacy policy after regulator finds it is 'unfair and deceptive' | Mail Online
The eight-count complaint made public last night by the FTC lays bare how the company, which makes £1.1billion a year from advertising, shamelessly exploits its users for its own gain.

It states that since 2007 areas of concern include broken promises not to share personal information with advertisers.

Facebook told users that third-party applications would only have access to the user information needed to operate, but in reality they accessed all of their personal data even if they did not need it.

The website told users they could restrict sharing of data to a limited audience, but even then it was still being shared with third-party applications their friends used.
Little things like US and EU laws on international data transfer were also not worth abiding by.

Facebook makes a ton of money on advertising. They do that by respecting your privacy. Or keeping promises.

Some of the things they permitted could have aided in identity theft, but it isn't clear if it did.
Perhaps the most serious charge was that Facebook falsely claimed that when users deactivated or deleted their accounts their photos and videos would be inaccessible.

In reality it still allowed others to access the content.
I don't even like friends to post pictures of me on their Facebook pages. But then I have this antiquated notion that privacy might mean something.

The thing I don't understand is why no fine? It isn't like they can't afford to pay. Years of close supervision, and threat of future fines, but no fines for past misdeeds. Seems a bit unfair.

Socialized Medicine - You Can't Sue the Government

So they don't care. 'Sunday hospital staff nearly killed my mother’ - Telegraph

This story details the near-death of an elderly patient on Sunday in a UK hospital because no one was in charge, really. It boils down to one statement.
That junior doctor – and I don’t blame him individually, but regard his behaviour as symptomatic of the attitude of too many parts of the medical establishment that had trained him – made a calculation that Sunday. He didn’t understand why my mother was dying, but he preferred to let her die rather than disturb the consultant who was being paid to be on-call.
Had she died, and the truth came out (she was not being given the correct medication) there would have been a public apology by all concerned, but not even a slap on the wrist.

Hasn't Anyone Read The Stand?

YES, THIS IS SCARY: ‘Anthrax isn’t scary at all compared to this’: Man-made flu virus with potential to wipe out many millions if it ever escaped is created in research lab.

That story, was about a man-made flu-virus that escaped a government installation. (The rest of it was to Steven-King-esque for my taste, but it started out pretty well.)

US Economic State

A lot has been said, by me and others, concerning the state of the Euro-zone, and how it is struggling to continue.

But the state of the US debt, is something to worry about as well. The chart (click for enlarged view) shows US Government Debt as a percentage of GDP. (Hat tip to The Department of Numbers.) As of Q2, 2011 it was more than 95% of GDP.

Can I Get Germany to Pay My Debts?

I don't have any debt, but if Germany would agree to pay them, I'm sure I could incur some. Merkel: 'We have our own debts to pay' - The Local

The people screaming for Germany to "save the Euro" basically want Germany to pay everyone's debts. Surprisingly, the Germans aren't to keen on that plan.
"We in Europe can't pretend we have financial means that we don't really have... we are strong in Europe. Germany is strong, but we are not strong to an unlimited degree. That is true also for the federal republic," [Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman,Steffen Seibert] added.
He also said the unending stream of unfounded rumors isn't helping matters.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

They Just Don't Want to Admit Defeat

The Euro-zone technocrats want to be able to say they saved the day. But denial ain't just a river in Egypt. Merkel's fight for German stability - Business Analysis

The markets are aware of the fact that Germany isn't big enough to bailout all of the struggling Euro-zone economies. (Even if you believe they only need 1 bailout.) So with the technocrats selling the idea of Euro-bonds, bonds basically backed by German taxpayers for the struggling economies, German debt got hammered.
So keen have investors been for Germany's AAA-rated bonds that they have eagerly switched into them, even though they paid less than 2 per cent. But advocates of the eurozone bonds failed to realise that pooling the peripheral nations' debt with Berlin's would pull up German yields.

The lesson came at the regular auction last week, when Mrs Merkel's government offered new debt to replace maturing bonds. Bids were received for only two-thirds of the issue. Rather than buy German bonds, investors became sellers.
German debt is now at 2.23%. (Bets on if it goes up?)

And the window-dressing of new governments hasn't pulled the wool over the eyes of the markets either.
Portuguese debt has just been down-graded to “junk” status. Short-term Italian debt is now trading above 8pc, deep into bail-out territory.
Spain's new government has vowed it will not need international assistance to get its house in order, but really only time will tell.

And of course, the German taxpayer isn't too keen on the notion of shouldering the burdens of the likes of Greece.
the vast majority of the German public are appalled at the idea of financing the rest of Europe. They resent not only the cost, but also (rightly) worry that one eurozone bail-out inevitably leads to another.
Greece, for example, apparently won't meet its commitments under the previous austerity measures, while they are still clamoring for the next payment of cash based on what the promised in the most recent austerity measures. Hasn't anyone heard that "Actions speak louder than words?" You can promise anything, but if you don't live up to your past promises, why should anyone believe anything you say?

The Anti-gun Crowd Will Call This, “Teen Tragically Shot”

Because the fact that he was engaged in a felony at the time he was shot, is just an unimportant detail. Teen shot during home invasion on West Side� - The Charleston Gazette -
According to Charleston Police Sgt. Mike Pridemore, a juvenile boy kicked in the front door of a home in the 700 block of Main Street at about 8:30 a.m. Saturday and started firing shots up the staircase of the home with a shotgun.

The homeowner, who was armed, returned shots at the teenager and hit him in the arm.

After being shot, the teen fled, firing shots back toward the house as he was running way.
The homeowner was not injured and will not be charged. The teen will be charged with burglary and wanton endangerment. No explanation for the attack.

Self-defense is a human right.

2 Out of 3 Ain't Bad

The criminals in Texas are brash. These guys didn't stop rummaging through a car, even after the owner showed up and told them to stop. Homeowner opens fire on car burglary suspects on Houston's south side, killing one |
It happened near Gulf Valley and Springtime. Police say that homeowner saw three suspects stealing from his car and repeatedly yelled for them to stop. He said the three men had his car doors and trunk open, and were rummaging through.

The suspects didn't comply, so the homeowner went to get his gun.

The homeowner told police the suspects began to run back to their vehicle, but says he saw one of them reach for a weapon, so he started shooting, striking the driver of the suspects' vehicle.

The suspects' vehicle made it a couple of blocks from the scene, where the driver died inside the car. The other two suspects took off on foot. One was later captured, but the other remains on the loose.
He only shot in self-defense. The idiots could have left when they were discovered, but that would be like admitting they didn't have the right to your stuff.

Self-defense is a human right.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

But I Thought The UK Had Excellent Socialized Medicine

Britain has some of the worst cancer survival rates of the industrialised world following years of wasteful Labour government
Andrew Lansley: Labour failed to focus on what really matters: patients - Telegraph

It seems that spending on the "Health Care System" increased, but spending on actual health care did not.
They hugely increased spending on the health service, but wasted much of it on managers, failed IT projects and unsustainable [private finance initiative] projects.
They built facilities, hired managers, spent billions on computer systems - that didn't actually materialize in the end - and in general did everything but hire nurses and doctors, or pay to have the hospitals cleaned.
Hospital care following a stroke often fails to deliver the standards achieved in other countries.

The number of people with asthma who end up in hospital is too high. All of that was after a decade when Labour pushed through record spending increases.
I can't wait until we have socialized medicine.

Cops And Robbers - both at the same time

It is hard to tell the cops from the gangsters. Chicago cops accused of working for Latin Kings held without bond
Alex Guerrero, 41, and Antonio C. Martinez Jr., 40, were the ones in handcuffs Monday afternoon, appearing before a federal judge in orange Porter County jumpsuits. The duo were named in a 46-page indictment unsealed Friday that alleges a racketeering conspiracy among fifteen Latin King gang members or associates.
And so Chicago PD maintains its historic traditions. Of being criminal.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

25 Years in Jail for Murder

Justice? Maybe. Oxnard teen accepts plea deal in killing of gay schoolmate - San Jose Mercury News
McInerney pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and voluntary manslaughter with use of a firearm in the fatal shooting of Larry King, 15.
King was murdered because when he was taunted for being gay, he didn't run away and cry, he through it back in his tormentors' faces. McInerney being one of them, and he couldn't take it as well as he could dish it out. So McInerney shot King. Executed him for being different.
The sentence for the murder charge will be waived and McInerney will accept a 21-year sentence for voluntary manslaughter at a Dec. 19 hearing. He will not get credit for the nearly four years he already has served or be eligible for parole, which will make him 38 years old when he gets out of prison. He will transfer from juvenile hall to a state prison after he turns 18 in January.
Probably the most justice that could be obtained in this case.

After Dozens of Stories About Hacked Utility, The FBI and DHS Say All is Well

Nothing to see here. Move along. FBI: No evidence of water system hack destroying pump • The Register Do you get the impression that the government is trying to downplay the danger?
Federal officials said there's no evidence to support a report that hackers destroyed a pump used by an Illinois-based water utility after gaining unauthorized access to the computer system it used to operate its machinery.
So all the early reports about how this utility and hundreds of other utilities around the country are vulnerable can all be disregarded. (Short message = All is well. We are in charge.)

So who do you believe, the FBI, DHS, or Computerworld and various hackers?

Monday, November 21, 2011

Even in Massachusetts, The Truth Eventually Wins Out

This truth being that when violence strikes, cops are no where to be found. Not a dig against cops, just the truth. WHDH-TV - Store clerk shoots at man trying to rob his store
Police said that the store has been robbed so many times that the owner decided to register for a license to carry a handgun.
He didn't hit the guy, but he did scare him pretty good.

I wonder why this simple truth seems lost on so many people. When violence strikes, you are most likely on your own.

Another Domino or 3 in the Eurozone Crisis

Well it seems there are other problems aside from folks actually in the Euro, who are gonna get creamed by this situation. Hungary turns to IMF as stress mounts in Eastern Europe - Telegraph

With the 50% loss on the Greek bonds, sovereign-debt bondholders have come to realize that the promises made by governments don't mean a thing. Add to that the need to raise capitalization rates, and no one is lending money to the smaller countries in Eastern Europe.

Hungary, Bulgaria, Croatia, Ukraine and perhaps other Balkan states are all in trouble. Most of their loans come from western Europe.
Lars Christensen from Danske Bank said Balkan states are in the firing line as Greek lenders batten down the hatches. "Bulgaria faces a significant squeeze because Greek and Italian banks make up 60pc of loans," he said.

The story in Hungary is complicated by an erratic government accused of violating EU principles across the board, from confiscating private pensions and imposing an ad hoc bank tax, to judicial abuse and curbing press freedoms.
Not looking good.

None of those countries are in the Eurozone, but they are in the European Union.

Britsh Rep to EU Parliment Lets the Euro Bosses Have It

You have to give British politicians credit for calling them like they see them. This guy doesn't mince any words.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Store Clerks Are Shooting Back

First in North Carolina. FIRST ON 3: Video from inside store as clerk shoots robber | WWAY NewsChannel 3 | Wilmington NC News
In video from the store's surveillance cameras you can see the robber, who police say is Joseph Ryan Anderson, 20, point a gun at Headstrong. The clerk then pulls a gun of his own and shoots the crook twice then holds him until police arrive.
Then in Atlanta. Store clerk shoots at masked robber |
Atlanta police are searching for a robber in a skull mask who has hit several stores. A store clerk in southwest Atlanta decided to fight back.

“Everybody works for their money and someone comes in and takes it. The only regret I have is that I missed him,” store clerk Imran Mehdi told Channel 2’s Ryan Young.
If more of this happens, perhaps the word will get out the being a robber isn't safe.

Good Guys 2, Bad Guy 0.

The Problem With "Say Anything" Politicans

They will say anything to get past the moment. They make "promises" they have no interest in keeping. They solve the problem of the hour, not the year or the age. They certainly can't solve complex financial issues. Debt Crisis Contagion: The Euro Zone's Deadly Domino Effect - SPIEGEL ONLINE
In July, European leaders broke their promises from March. In October, they broke their promises from July. The participation of private investors would now be much higher, they decided.

Following that summit, investors came to the logical conclusion that politicians have basically been lying at euro summits. They surmised that, if the economic situation in Greece and the political mood in Germany changed, then the owners of Portuguese and Italian sovereign bonds would also be asked to contribute. In the meantime, even normal individuals are now withdrawing their savings from banks across southern Europe.
Some bureaucrats are still saying that all will be saved in the end. But the man in the street doesn't believe that.

Who, in their right mind, would loan the Greeks money right now? They may pay it back. But they just declared they wouldn't pay back half their debt. So why won't they do that again? Why won't Spain or Italy follow their lead?

Italy is in particularly bad shape.
As things now stand, Italy's debt accounts for 120 percent of its annual GDP, growth is close to zero and the country is currently slipping into a deep recession. In fact, it's a matter of mathematical inevitability that Italy won't be able to service its loans if interest rates on its sovereign debt don't fall. Granted, there have to be reforms. But reforms don't resolve an acute debt crisis. We've already learned that lesson from other crises.
Much talk of Argentina and how it handled a crisis in its currency and debt. But that was 1 country. Not a collective.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Like Rats Deserting a Sinking Ship, Bondholders Dump European Sovereign Bonds

France and Spain are having troubles, as well as Greece and Italy. Mass bond selloff takes Europe from bad to worse - The Globe and Mail
The mass selloff drove up the debt yields of countries that had been considered havens, including Finland and the Netherlands. “Global financial markets are facing a key pivotal point,” analysts at Barclays Capital said in a Tuesday research note. “A further escalation of the European debt crisis is putting at risk the nascent stabilization of global growth.”
Yields on Italian bonds are back above 7%.

Spanish bonds are yielding between 5 and 6.3% - depending on maturity.

For comparison, Germany is able to borrow money at just 1.76%, with France (who is also in trouble) at just over 3%.
Economists think the rush to sell sovereign bonds was triggered by several factors: a European Union agreement with the banks to write down Greek bonds by 50 per cent, creating a precedent that bond investors fear will be repeated elsewhere in the euro zone; the European Central Bank’s reluctance to buy distressed bonds; and European politicians open talk about member countries leaving the euro zone.

On Tuesday, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said it should be possible to expel members from the euro zone. The day before, German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union party voted to allow countries to leave the euro zone. While the vote carries no legal weight, it reflects the CDU’s rising skepticism about the euro project.
To add insult to injury, the Euro Zone's GDP was up a mere 0.2 percent in the 3rd quarter. (0.8% annual growth, more or less.) While Germany did OK, the rest, not so well.

Monday, November 14, 2011

How Can the Average Woman Fight Off the Average Man? With a Gun

Akron Woman Scares Off Sex Offender with Gun - WJW The headline says it all.

He tried to push her into her car, and she was able to get her gun and shoot. (Just a warning shot, but it did attract a lot of attention.)
Bennett says she hopes her experience shows other women they can protect themselves if they need to.

"Before it happened, if somebody would have said, 'If somebody would attack you, what would you do?' I would probably flip out like normal women would ... but I didn't."

"I hope that other women can look at this and realize from it that they can protect themselves--that it's a very good thing to be able to protect yourself."
They caught the guy in the area. He was wanted for failing to register and other warrants. [Hat tip to Uncle]

The End of Democracy in Europe

Everyone treats it like it is such a good thing. Italy and Greece have new governments. But what does that really mean? Debt crisis: live - Telegraph
What we have witnessed is a coup d’état: bloodless and genteel, but a coup d’état none the less. In Athens and in Rome, elected prime ministers have been toppled in favour of Eurocrats – respectively a former Vice-President of the European Central Bank and a former European Commissioner.

Both countries now have what are called ‘national governments’, though they have been put together for the sole purpose of implementing policies that would be rejected in a general election.
So if the people don't get a say, and the mere mention of a referendum in Greece was enough to send everyone into a fit of hysterics, what kind of government is it?

So What Happens If The Middle East Goes to War?

Won't do much for the price of oil. Arab press predicts regional war over Syria - Telegraph
Abdel Bari Atwan, editor of the London-based pan-Arab nationalist newspaper Al-Quds Al-Arabi, raised the prospect of a conflagration in which a Turkish attack on Syria would coincide with an Israeli attack on Syria's closest ally, Iran.

Other newspapers renewed claims, first raised in the summer, that Turkey was on the brink of ordering its troops to create a "buffer zone" on its border with Syria as a safe haven for refugees from the crackdown on protest by President Bashar al-Assad.
Looks bad.

If Syria is attacked by Turkey - even to the extent of creating a "buffer zone" - that would probably draw in Iran. (Just as a "no-fly zone" included bombing tanks, a "buffer-zone" is really code for an invasion of Syria.) If Israel decides in the same time window that it is on its own with respect to Iran's nuclear program, then a lot things could happen is very short time. I don't think any of them will be good.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

So, This Is What Happens When There Are No "Boots on the Ground"

Obama & Co. (Including NATO) decided that they could fight a remote control war. And for the most part they were right. A few problems, but on the whole everything worked out pretty well. Except now there is a vacuum. And people don't like vacuums. Six Dead as Libyan Militias Clash Near Tripoli -
Lethal rivalries have emerged within the huge population of Libyan fighters who rose up against Colonel Qaddafi’s rule. The poorly trained and only moderately organized militias are often suspicious of one another and are sometimes openly hostile, posing difficult problems for the transitional council now trying to govern the country.
Who could possibly have guessed?

Too soon to say that this is a civil war, but it sure looks like it could go that way.

Of course if there were NATO troops there, they would have started acting as "peace keepers." But NATO doesn't have troops on the ground, because that was not politically feasible.

Again, it is early days. But if Libya descends into the abyss of civil war, who will be responsible? (Didn't NATO have a part in arming some of these militias?)

Chevy Volt May Have a Few Problems

Electric car battery catches fire after crash test - One of the reasons that the Tesla Roadster was so delayed was over battery safety. Lithium batteries are a bit of a problem. So Tesla added a lot of weight to make the batteries more fireproof.

Looks like maybe Chevy didn't do its homework.
A Chevrolet Volt that caught fire three weeks after its lithium-ion battery was damaged in a government crash test has regulators taking a harder look at the safety of electric car batteries, federal officials said Friday.
That is just enough time to get the car fixed and have it parked inside your garage. Just in time to catch fire.


Anyone who thought a bunch of government-appointed folks could build a better mousetrap must have been working in government (or community organizing) for the last 30 years. OK, a fair number of people at GM were people who had always been at GM. Expecting them to do something different also doesn't make sense.

To be fair to GM, the government didn't follow the procedures specified.
GM spokesman Greg Martin said the test did not follow procedures developed by GM engineers for handling the Volt after a crash. The engineers tested the Volt's battery pack for more than 300,000 hours to come up with the procedures, which include discharge and disposal of the battery pack, he said.

"Had those protocols been followed after this test, this incident would not have occurred," he said.
So how much does it cost to replace the Volt's battery pack after a crash?

And why isn't the government testing center following the standard procedures?

Greece and the Euro: When, Not If

At Least that is my opinion. And a lot of people are getting ready for the event. Worst-Case�Scenarios: Berlin�Prepares for Possible Greek Exit from Euro Zone - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International
The German government has been simulating a range of scenarios to prepare for a possible exit of Greece from the euro zone. Under a worst-worst-case scenario, the country could descend into a vicious circle of misery that could last decades
The Greeks could see the type of inflation that Brazil saw for so many decades. 50% or 80% inflation. (Listen to Act 1, of The Invention of Money, for a description of what a worthless currency looks like. And how one country turned the situation around.)

If debts remain denominated in Euros, Greeks could be in big trouble, even if they reinstate the Drachma.

Another Dead Pirate

Finally, it seems, the international community is responding to piracy the way the Brits did, back in the day. UPDATE 5-Turkish commandos shoot dead lone ferry hijacker | Reuters
Turkish commandos killed a lone hijacker, identified as a Kurdish militant armed with a bomb, in a pre-dawn operation on Saturday to rescue more than 20 passengers and crew held hostage for 12 hours on a high-speed ferry near Istanbul.
They did try to get him to surrender, but with 450 grams (just under a pound) of plastic explosive on his body, they were going to bring him in alive.
Another passenger, Ceyhun Tezer, 28, told the NTV channel: "It lasted no more than 10 minutes after we saw them (the commandos). We heard six gunshots, they told us three in the head and another three in the chest, there were no more gunshots."
That will ruin your day.

Good Guys 1, Bad Guys 0.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Some Interesting News on the Manufacturing Front

Caterpillar plans to move plant, 1,000-plus jobs to U.S. - Not that they are abandoning a 3rd-world nation, this manufacturing is being relocated from Japan.

1000 manufacturing jobs, plus the additional jobs such a plant generates (diners, grocery, bars, whatever) isn't a lot, but will probably make some small Midwestern town very happy.

Friday, November 11, 2011

This Always Makes Me Smile

The movie El Dorado is one of the most entertaining westerns ever made. John Wayne. Robert Mitchum as a drunken sheriff, and James Caan spouting poetry every juncture. Add in the 1967 soundtrack (that always sounds like the old batman soundtrack when they are sneaking around) and it is classic. I was going to say it was a ridiculous western. But that isn't true. It just doesn't take itself too seriously. It never fails to make me smile.

And I really needed a smile today.

(And I also can't believe the prices at Amazon - I paid much less. This is a movie I can watch over and over again. This and Rio Bravoare two of my favorite John Wayne westerns. Rio Bravo, which is almost exactly the same story is also worth watching.)

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Computing Through the Ages

The history of portable computing. Fairly interesting look at where "portable" computers started, and where they ended. (They don't include a smart phone, which I think is a big miss.)

And where the big guys started. Early Products of Today's Tech Giants.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Don't Bring a Knife to a Gunfight

Police: Man shot dead in Antioch threatened homeowner with knife - San Jose Mercury News
Acting Capt. Leonard Orman said the homeowner was startled because Schmidt broke through sheet rock between the home and an exterior water heater closet, leaving no signs of a break-in from the front of the home.

A confrontation ensued, and when Schmidt wielded a knife, the homeowner opened fire with a small handgun, striking Schmidt more than once, Orman said.

"At this point, everything indicates that it was a case of self-defense," he said. "However, we collected a lot of evidence, which will be analyzed, and that will dictate whether this was a justified shooting."
No Castle Doctrine in California.

'Run For Your Lives': One More on the Eurozone

EuroOK, this is a dead horse. Or almost. But I found one section of the Der Spiegel article fairly interesting. 'Run For Your Lives': Euro Zone Considers Solution of Last Resort - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International

It seems everyone is abandoning the Euro, at least everyone in the southern part of the continent.
"Run for your lives" is the new motto in Europe, and not just among banks and insurance companies, which are selling off southern European bonds as quickly as they can, but also among ordinary holders of savings accounts. Banks and regulatory agencies are noticing that anxious citizens throughout Europe are trying to bring their money to safety. The flight of capital from Italy, Spain and Greece is in full swing.

Since the beginning of the crisis, ordinary Greeks have withdrawn about €50 billion ($69 billion) from their accounts, or a fifth of total deposits. In May, when the first rumors about a possible withdrawal from the euro zone were making the rounds, the Greeks withdrew €1.5 billion from their accounts within 48 hours. And it is no longer just the rich who are moving their money to a safe place. A Greek nun recently closed her convent's bank account, telling the bank employee that she needed the €700,000 in the account for renovations. But when pressed by the bank employee, she finally admitted that she was worried about her order's assets.
The whole thing is really worthwhile.

And You Thought Greece Was the Only European Country You Needed to Worry About

The bond market is starting to signal that it has little faith in Italy's ability to repay its debt. With Italian Bond Yields Surging, Key 7% 10-Year Yield Looms - (They always do this in the financial sections of papers so here goes - When the price of a bond goes down, the yield goes up. High rates are a sign we don't believe your promise to pay.)
-The embattled Italian government's bond yields pushed above 6.5% Monday for the first time since the introduction of the euro, a move that portends an even tougher financial struggle for the country in the months ahead.
For comparison, US ten-year notes are currently holding a rate of 2.11%. And that is slightly higher than it was a few weeks ago.

So will Italy need a bailout? Let's hope not. As the 3rd largest economy in the Eurozone, it is too big to be bailed out.

And if that wasn't enough, Spain is still struggling. Spain unemployment claims in October up by 134,000 - BusinessWeek
Last week the government said the jobless rate now stands at 21.5 percent and the economy posted zero growth in the third quarter. The Bank of Spain says the stagnation is bad news for government efforts to meet deficit-reduction goals.
That is a pretty bad unemployment rate, and it is likely to get worse.

Meanwhile, Greek Unemployment Hits 17.6%, and is likely to get worse. (Youth unemployment is approaching 50%.)

These are not the signs of health economies.

So Ireland and Portugal needed bailouts. Greece got one bailout and needs (at least) one more. The Italians, and Spaniards are having problems - if not actually needing a bailout right this minute. So how long are the Germans supposed to keep handing out money? Forever? Maybe Germany should get out of the Eurozone.

The point is, all these wonderful socialist nirvanas seem to be crumbling, houses of cards, built on debt they have little to no hope of paying back. (Did they ever?) Greece lied to get into the Eurozone, so it knew it couldn't match the requirements. And the Greek government had to know, even if the people weren't paying attention, that the "game of debt" was going to come to a halt sooner rather than later. (You don't wake up one day and discover you can't pay back half your debts. You get into that position one day at a time, one decision at a time, one bureaucratic snafu at a time.)

Monday, November 07, 2011

What Happened to Education? Costs, Rip-offs and Reflections

Is a College Degree More of a Rip-Off Than a Benefit Today? As they say, read the whole thing. Though it may upset you, seeing how much we pay, and how little we get. (Quoted from a Post Gazette article)
We spend about $10,600 per pupil in public schools—377 percent more, in inflation-adjusted dollars, than we spent in 1961. Yet among students who go to college, 75 percent require some remedial work.
. There is more like that.

"Remedial work" means that they can't read at the 12th-grade-level, they can't write worth a damn, or they are hopeless when it comes to math. Reading, Writing and 'Rithmatic are not the focus. of education anymore. Students have to memorize Al Gore's movie. (A Arnold Ahlert says: "Environmental literacy? How about literacy, period?")

Some of this can be attributed to the dumbing down of America, but part of it is the insane behavior of colleges
A look at the various new specialty degree programs, however, provides a peek into the priorities of the schools: to accept as many students as they can, and also to broaden their own revenue streams. The offerings are most likely not made to produce anything meaningful in academia—and certainly not in the “real world”—but they do attract a certain type of student. This is often someone who is willing to buy into the myth that a degree in gender studies is going to be useful. These naive young people are willing to pay the big bucks demanded for such a thing—even if that means borrowing the money

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Cops Don't Like Cameras

Even though it is (and was) LEGAL to record cops, they took violent exception to being recorded. Man arrested while video recording Boston police officers files lawsuit - The Boston Globe

They were arresting his friend, so he thought he would record the proceedings. That made him guilty of questioning their authority to do whatever the damn well pleased.
Friedman, Paulino’s lawyer, said his client was charged with resisting arrest, assault and battery on a police officer, and disorderly conduct in connection with the incident. He was acquitted of all charges in April
The department has since "reinforced" that public recording is allowed under Massachusetts' law. Probably won't help much.

Interesting Turn of Events

David Willetts warns over 'striking' university gender gap - Telegraph
Data also shows that women in their 20s now earn, on average, more than men of the same age.
I wonder if there are similar numbers in the US, but it isn't surprising really. Not given that women are more likely to go to university, and more likely to graduate, once they begin.
“There is now a rather striking gap, if we look at the statistics, where it looks as if approximately 50 per cent of women are graduating from university by the time they are 30 and perhaps about 40 per cent of men," he said.
So much for the victimization narrative.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Milton Friedman Defending Free Enterprise

This is worth 2 minutes of your time. A 31 year old video clip ABSOLUTELY worth your time - dauckster's posterous
Pretty interesting clip…even though it is 30 years old, the content is “timeless”

Milwaukee PD and Domestic Violence - More of the Thin Blue Line

Violent offenders often get to plead to small misdemeanors when the offenders carry a badge. MPD lax on domestic violence standards - JSOnline

Pretty discouraging. Missing 911-call tapes. Threats. Whatever. A distinct lack of action.
"They see it as protecting their own, but it's corruption," [Judy Munaker, an attorney who spent five years training cops about officer-related domestic violence] said. "They need to stop protecting their own and start protecting victims."
Like that's gonna happen anytime soon.

Here is just one of the several incidents.
A fourth officer, Zebdee Wilson, now has a clean criminal record despite pleading guilty to violating a restraining order in 1994. His wife needed oral surgery after he punched and kicked her repeatedly in the face, court records say.

That conviction should have stopped Wilson from continuing to serve as a police officer after the federal law banning domestic violence offenders from carrying guns took effect in 1996. The ban was retroactive and applies no matter when the conviction occurred. There is no exception for police officers.

But then-Gov. Tommy Thompson pardoned Wilson, erasing his conviction and saving his career.
Criminal Justice System? The system is more Criminal than concerned with Justice.

Hate Crime Roundup

Some of the insanity out there.

WSYX-WTTE: Mother Calls Son's 'Caught-on-Tape' Beating a Hate Crime - YouTube Ambush of gay student by another. No one helped, but one person did video the whole thing. (That will help with prosecution.)

Corrective rape: South Africa women attcked to 'cure' them of being lesbians | Mail Online South African men apparently think you can "cure" a lesbian by raping her. Authorities do nothing.

Gay couple: targets of hate crime at home - KWGN Lesbians want some more "special rights." In this case, they want to live in the suburbs. Even the HOA can't get things together.

Man suffers horrific burns after being set alight in pub beer garden | Mail Online Having a quite drink in a pub, and you get set on fire. By a stranger who doesn't like who you love.

Imagine wanting to be safe in school, or to know that the authorities would punish someone who attacked you. Imagine living in suburbia with no one spray-painting messages of hate on your garage door, or having a drink with friends without having your life endangered. Those gays sure do want some crazy "special rights."