Monday, September 10, 2012

Blogger Google is Playing with the Navbar

Have update the side bar to include a search box. This is because Google has turned the Navbar (apparently turned) into a Google+ tracking item. So it you are running anything like ShareMeNot, you won't see the Navbar. Which makes searching the archives a pain in the ass.

But it is fixed now....

Everyone please update your links! See the previous post or the header!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Moving Day Has Arrived!!!

The Fat Lady has sung. (Well, not quite....)

This BLOG has moved.

All future entries will be posted only at 357 Magnum.

(Yeah, I know it isn't perfect, but what is?)

Break Into Homes And Eventually You Will Find an Armed Homeowner

You should not be surprised at the results. Home Invasion Ends In Gunfire.

The break-in took place around 1:30 this afternoon on the 100 block of Wickfield Drive on the south edge of town. The homeowner, who was in the house at the time, heard someone else inside, and confronted the intruder.

Confronted the intruder while armed, that is. The would-be bad-guy got shot once, and then he headed for the exit. Police are still looking for him.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Food or Fuel? Why Are We Even Having this Discussion?

If you decide that you are going to divert half of a major food crop to produce fuel, you shouldn't be surprised when food and fuel prices go up in a drought. (You might be surprised if your closest approach to a farm is the produce section at Whole Foods.) Drought crop damage worsens, ethanol waiver urged - Chicago Tribune.

First look at the big picture.

In the most authoritative statement yet on how the drought is affecting crops, the USDA estimated that the corn harvest would drop 13 percent from last year, a bigger fall than forecast.
People with no background in farming will say how "unanticipated" this is. They never purchased crop insurance. (And they don't remember the year that the Army Corps of Engineers closed the Mississippi River to navigation because lack of rain made the water levels too low. It was 1988. It was followed a few years later by the Great Mississippi and Missouri flood of 1993)

The difference today is that we don't just use corn to make breakfast cereal and to feed livestock. We burn a large amount of corn in our cars. Seems stupid to me, but I never worked in Washington.

Countries from Bangladesh, to China and Russia are making moves to secure their food supplies for the coming years. The UN (Doesn't our Dear Leader put a lot of stock in the Useless Nitwits?) isn't calling it a crisis yet, but are making noises in that direction. So, is it more important to feed people or gain the (questionable) advantage of ethanol in our fuel. I know the answer Arthur Daniel Midlands gives - they make more money on ethanol than they ever did before.

How Much Energy Does Wind Contribute to the UK's Energy Usage?

A fair question, since the UK has embarked on a massive wind-power build-up. Even when it means destroying national parks (mostly in Scotland, but who is paying attention to that?) The great wind delusion has hijacked our energy policy - Telegraph.

I love the statistics.

At one point last week, Britain’s 3,500 turbines were contributing 12 megawatts (MW) to the 38,000MW of electricity we were using. (The Neta website, which carries official electricity statistics, registered this as “0.0 per cent”).
So after building thousands of wind turbines, the relatively small country that is the UK (small compared to the US that is) is producing very little in the way of energy.

And when the wind fails, bad things can happen.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Chicago Politics: Pay to Play, and Payback Still SOP

I'm sure that a big portion of the media (if they mention this at all) will be shocked - shocked! - to discover that corruption is a time-honored tradition in Chicago political circles. (Do an internet search on "Tony Rezko" or "Rod Blagojevich" if you are confused on the subject.) Chicago police officers sue Rahm Emanuel
Eleven police officers who claim they were removed from Mayor Rahm Emanuel's security detail so officers who worked on Emanuel's mayoral campaign could replace them have filed a federal lawsuit.

In the suit filed in U.S. District Court in Chicago, the officers allege the city violated the 1983 Shakman Decree, which bars city officials from making political considerations in the hiring process.
Yes, the fact of corruption was so well established, that in 1983, not only did Chicago admit to assigning jobs based on political connections (clout), but they agreed to stop doing it. (Not many people believe that they actually did stop; they just weren't so blatantly obvious about it.)

Meet the new boss mayor, same as all the old bosses mayors.

I forget... Is it 4 of the last 6 Illinois governors who were convicted of federal corruption charges?

They Sound Like They Were Hoping For More. Radiation.

They just can't seem to push this story to the "OMG!!! RADIATION!!!" level of hysteria. They sound almost disappointed. First study reports very low internal radioactivity after Fukushima disaster - The Washington Post.

It's like they keep hoping for a Chernobyl-like outcome. (While the Japanese were in denial at first, they were not in the same universe of denial as the Soviet Union was.)

Japanese researchers have found very low amounts of radioactivity in the bodies of about 10,000 people who lived near the Fukushima Daiichi power plant when it melted down. The first published study that measured the radiation within a large number of residents reassured health experts because the numbers reported imply only negligible health risks. The threat appeared to be considerably lower than in the aftermath of the Chernobyl accident, the experts agreed.

And unlike so many of the OMG!!! Radiation!!! stories, they actually give some hard data.

The study measured radiation in 8,066 adults and 1,432 children in the town of Minamisoma, about 14 miles north of the Fukushima Daiichi power plant. Researchers found an average radiation dose of well under 1 millisievert, which is considered a safe amount.

Since the global average for background radiation is 2.4 millisieverts per year, I would hope they consider it safe. (Some locations are much more radioactive than average....) I mean be fair, are they going to evacuate the planet because there is some radiation. You couldn't go anywhere that is free of radiation, since it rains down on us from space.

That thing about "detectible radiation"... we can detect absurdly small amounts of radiation. Bananas set off the radiation alarms in ports. Because bananas contain stupidly small amounts of radiation.

The Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami, (That is official Japanese name for the disaster) and the subsequent problems at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant constitute a disaster and a tragedy. That doesn't mean we should make things worse through ignorance of radiation, its effects, and remediation. We certainly shouldn't set public policy based on fear and ignorance. That is of course exactly what we do.

The Cost of Green Power

Germany decided that wind and sun were the way to go, and bet big on them. The result? Completely predictable. Instability in Power Grid Comes at High Cost for German Industry - SPIEGEL ONLINE

The German electrical grid has been hit with a series of voltage drops. It has caused problems (havoc, is probably too strong a word at this juncture) with German industry.
It was 3 a.m. on a Wednesday when the machines suddenly ground to a halt at Hydro Aluminium in Hamburg. The rolling mill's highly sensitive monitor stopped production so abruptly that the aluminum belts snagged. They hit the machines and destroyed a piece of the mill. The reason: The voltage off the electricity grid weakened for just a millisecond.

Workers had to free half-finished aluminum rolls from the machines, and several hours passed before they could be restarted. The damage to the machines cost some €10,000 ($12,300).

In the following three weeks, the voltage weakened at the Hamburg factory two more times, each time for a fraction of second. Since the machines were on a production break both times, there was no damage. Still, the company invested €150,000 to set up its own emergency power supply, using batteries, to protect itself from future damages.
It isn't all doom and gloom of course - battery companies are tremendously profitable at this time.

The cause?
The problem is that wind and solar farms just don't deliver the same amount of continuous electricity compared with nuclear and gas-fired power plants. To match traditional energy sources, grid operators must be able to exactly predict how strong the wind will blow or the sun will shine.

But such an exact prediction is difficult. Even when grid operators are off by just a few percentage points, voltage in the grid slackens. That has no affect on normal household appliances, such as vacuum cleaners and coffee machines. But for high-performance computers, for example, outages lasting even just a millisecond can quickly trigger system failures.
Freezing in the dark? Not yet. Watch this space.

(And for those skeptics, I will only point out that Der Spiegel is not generally considered a right-wing publication.)

OK I Don't Know Whether to Laugh or Cry

The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence have a long history of tweaking the Catholic Church's nose. Some it is clearly in bad taste. (Showing up for mass in high drag is gonna cause a stir), but I thought their ceremony to "exorcize" the Pope from the city during a visit a few years back was a comic masterpiece. But that's me. Apparently the Catholic Church is done with drag queens. San Francisco archdiocese bans drag queens from parish; gay group indignant |

The issue in question here isn't especially about the Sisters, but it is about gay groups using church halls for private events. Events that did feature some local drag performers as emcees. That was apparently too much for new parish leadership. (The old leadership put up with the insanity, because the Sister raise a fair amount of money for charity - mostly AIDS-related.)

Personally I think the Pastafarians have a better grasp on the absurd, but I do understand the position of the Sisters. And the election bid of "Sister Mary Boom Boom, Nun of the Above" to run for San Francisco City Council - she got 23,000 votes and almost won - was inspired. (Who hasn't wanted to vote for "none of the above" at some point?)

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Something You Don't Often See Written: The Truth

Old folks enjoy generous retirements (though they may be feeling a squeeze, no one is throwing anyone into the street). Bailout bonds and deficits will be paid off by the young. Hardly seems fair. Commentary: Why the Euro Crisis Is Also a Generational Conflict - SPIEGEL ONLINE.

Bankers and politicians aren't the only ones responsible for the crisis, either. Many from the older generations were accomplices in the faltering system. Almost every family in Greece had a member who profited from the bloated state apparatus as a civil servant. Baby boomers in Spain took on mortgages en masse, pushing their country into the debt crisis. And in Italy, politicians like Silvio Berlusconi were re-elected repeatedly because their tricks were apparently met with great sympathy -- pensioners have been among the former prime minister's most important constituencies.

People say they love their children and grand children. Then why are those same descendants left holding a trillion dollar or euro debt?

Now I am not much for worrying about "income inequality," or the like, but the statistics are always interesting.

This gap is growing outside the euro zone, too. In the United States, household assets for those over 65 have increased by some 42 percent since 1984, according to the Pew Research Center. But those younger than 35 own 68 percent less than their peers did during the mid-1980s.

Even if you account for inflation, which this study doesn't seem to do (though it is really hard to tell given it is being viewed through the filter of "journalistic professionalism") it is not surprising that the young can't seem to get ahead.

Deferred gratification? Living within your means? Not things that were very popular in the early part of this century or in the 1990s. What role models do they have? Who started the craze for acres of granite in every kitchen? Add to that the crushing debt from college loans and it is hardly surprising that none of the young are saving.

Could they? Certainly. But how many are willing to drive a 10 year-old car, cook their own meals, quit smoking, drinking, whatever? How many people today would cancel their cable/satellite service to pay off the college debt early? High-speed internet? Cell phone? iPad? Whatever?

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Migrating to WordPress - It Is Just Taking Longer Than Anticipated

Takes time to make the new blog look right. But it will happen. Google is no friend to gun-owners.

As Far As the Lack of Posting Goes...

All I can say is. Real. Life. Sucks.

Looks Like Maybe the Germans Have Finally Had Enough

EuroAnd you thought the only news from across the pond was about the Olympics. Not hardly. And you thought the only news from across the pond was about the Olympics. Not hardly. Resistance in Berlin: Merkel's Room for Maneuver with Greece Shrinks - SPIEGEL ONLINE

The Greeks can't keep their promises. The Greeks need more money. The Greeks are going to (or already have) asked the Germans for more money. The German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, is out of options.
'There Can Be No Renegotiations'

This time, the head-shaking isn't just happening among the notorious euro-bailout rebels within the conservative block. "The government in Athens must fulfill its reform requirements," said Stefan Müller, the parliamentary secretary for the CSU's state group. For members of his party in the federal parliament, he said: "There can be no renegotiations of either the content or the time span. Each week of extension for achieving the deficit target costs taxpayers money." He also said it would be the "wrong message entirely" if concessions made to Greece then prompted other crisis-stricken countries to demand renegotiations of the terms of their own bailouts. Meanwhile, the FPD's general secretary, Patrick Döring, told the daily Die Welt: "The FDP will not allow itself to be a part of a loosening of a valid contract."
So talk of the Grexit - the Greek Exit from the Euro - is finally reached the European Halls of Power. (Denial ain't just a river in Egypt.)

Commentary: Bankruptcy Is the Only Thing That Can Help Greece - SPIEGEL ONLINE
If it was ever the goal of Merkel and her allies to rescue Greece from bankruptcy, then they have failed. The only thing the drastic austerity measures have done is to exacerbate the economic crisis and push Greece's debts even higher. Nevertheless, the creditors have insisted on moving forward with their plan -- even though it already became clear long ago where it was heading.

The end of this approach now appears to have been reached. Neither euro-zone countries nor the IMF can provide Greece with more aid without sacrificing their own credibility. Given these circumstances, there is only one option left: Greece must go broke.
The Greeks were better off outside the Euro zone. Once the dust settles they will be in a better place than they are now, though given the state of things, that will take a very long time. Let's remind everyone that Greece LIED about the levels of their yearly budget deficit as well as the true size of their outstanding debt in order to get into the Euro, and have never met the minimum requirements for Euro membership. They should leave.

I'm sure there is news from Spain if I look....

Friday, August 03, 2012

Neighbors are “Shocked” Again

I suppose they thought they lived in Pleasantville. Neighbors shocked by daytime break-in | NBC33 | WVLA
For her, a quiet Thursday morning nap turned quickly when she was woken by two men, attempting to break in to her Baton Rouge home. She quickly locked herself in the bathroom and called 911.
The homeowner was shocked, but she still armed herself, and locked herself in the bathroom. The robbers got away with some cash. If you are reading this, you don't live in Pleasantville. Your address is somewhere in the Real World™. You know, that place where sometimes there is crime.

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Best News In Piracy (the real kind) in Many Years

The problem hasn't gone away, but finally, the trends are in the right direction. World sea piracy falls in first 6 months of 2012 – Falls by 54%. Not a small statistical anomaly.
The International Maritime Bureau attributed the sharp drop to "pre-emptive and disruptive counter piracy tactics" by international navies patrolling in seas off Somalia as well as increased vigilance by ships including hiring private armed personnel on board.
While I'm sure that the navies of NATO et al like to think they have had some impact, the real change in the last year or 2 is the embarkation of armed mercenaries - security forces - on ships in the worst areas.
The bureau said the decline in Somali piracy was partially offset by intensified and violent attacks in the Gulf of Guinea off western Africa, where 32 cases including five hijackings were reported, up from 25 in the first half last year. Nigeria reported 17 cases, nearly triple the number from a year ago. Togo reported five attacks including the hijacking of a tanker, up from no incidents in the same time last year, it said.
Several countries in West Africa are getting aid to beef up their navies, including Ghana, which picked up a couple of surplus German fast-attack-craft.
Ghana has been reviewing measures to safeguard its waters, most importantly to protect our oil installations from pirate attacks. Piracy in the Gulf of Guinea is not on the scale of that off Somalia, but analysts say an increase in scope and number of attacks in a region ill-equipped to counter the threat could affect shipping and investment.
Sailing on the account, is an ancient (if not exactly time-honored) tradition. Keeping it in check means military might. That's what worked in the 1800s, and that is what is working (finally) in East Africa.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Texas Homeowners Are Still Armed. Intruders Still Get Shot

Alleged home intruder found shot inside vehicle in Plano | Dallas - Fort Worth
The homeowner told authorities he heard someone loudly banding on the door of his two-story townhouse in the early morning hours in the 2500 block of East Park Boulevard. The homeowner said he then heard the person attempt to break into his upstair's balcony and then heard the window on his front door get smashed
The would-be home-invader ran up the interior steps and got shot. This convinced him to leave. By car.
Authorities later found a vehicle matching the description in a residential neighborhood just east of the crime scene and discovered a wounded man inside.
Good Guys 1, Bad Guys 0.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Best Kind of Flash-mob

"Ode to Joy" - the last movement of Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 in D minor.

Musical Interlude - In Honor of Lughnasadh

Traditional early-harvest festival Lughnasadh ("luna-sa") - sometimes known as Lammas - we have some modern folk-songs. (Early harvest = your tomatoes should have been ready by now.)

First, "Lughnasadh" from Damh the Bard.

And, "Lughnasadh" by Omnia

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Self-defense Still Legal in Washington State

I never doubted it. One wonders why it took 6 months for the prosecutor to agree...

WA homeowner who killed intruder won't be charged | Local News | The Seattle Times.

Way back in January, an un-named homeowner shot someone breaking into his house with a hammer. He shot the would-be-home-invader multiple times. That fact seems to have bothered some folks, because the prosecutor, Mark Roe, felt it was necessary to make a statement.

Roe says the number of shots fired has no bearing on whether a homicide was justifiable.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Can a Military-Sci-Fi Movie Ever Get the "Military" Right?

Thank the gods you can fast forward through Netflix.

Just watched most (some?) of Starship Troopers. I guess I am going to have to revisit the original Heinlein story. The movie was awful.

The next Military-Sci-Fi flick (that I know of) is Ender's Gamebased on the Orson Scott Card novel of the same name. Given that the original story viewed military action through the lens of a video game - sort of - I don't hold out much hope for the movie. Add to that the fact that it has been through the Hollywood mill for about 4 years, which I'm sure means that the script has been rewritten by the suits at least once. (Think of "Daredevil" when you want to understand what the Hollywood system does to a screenplay, or better, think of "Waterworld" - an interesting premise, destroyed by cliche.)

That said, is it really too much to ask for a little military authenticity in a movie? Even a SciFi Movie? (The last movie I know of that had a hint of authenticity was Shooter. I liked it, but it didn't do too well at the box office.)

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Previously, She Felt Safe. Doesn't Mean She Was Safe

OK - the Colorado Shooting: I won't say much about the shooting, or the calls for gun control; you can find that other places. I am interested in the response of people... Colorado shooting suspect’s neighbors: one was going to movie but bailed | The Lookout - Yahoo! News
The shock of having narrowly avoided the mass shooting that claimed 12 lives and left 59 people injured was compounded this morning, when [Leilannah] White discovered the suspect lived on her block.

She woke at 6:30 a.m. to find portions of her street--the 1600 and 1700 north blocks of Paris Street--cordoned off by crime scene tape, police cruisers, and fire trucks. Some of her neighbors had been evacuated; so far, her building had not been. White's home is cattycorner to the apartment building where Aurora authorities say the suspect in the shootings, 24-year-old James Holmes, lives.

"I do not feel safe, to be honest," White, whose daughters are 2 years old and 3 months old, said. "That's scary to wake up to something like this." [My emphasis: Z-Deb]
Before all this took place, Ms. White apparently 'felt safe.' She wasn't safe, but she felt safe. And in this modern age, feelings are so much more important than reality.

I'm sure it was a shock. I'm sure it was scary. I am also very sure that she was not safe last week, no matter how she felt. Nor is she safe today, even with this guy behind bars. Because she does not live in a fantasy world, but in the Real World. And the Real World™ is characterized by crime and pain. Also joy, but you can't pretend the bitter doesn't exist along with the sweet. Well, you can pretend, it just doesn't do you any good.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Neighbors Are Shocked Scared

Again with the neighbors... Deputies: Burglary turns bloody when homeowner shoots intruder | New Mexico News - KOAT Home.
Instead of running off, police said Carpenter came back and threatened the homeowner by shoving his gun through the dog door in the back of the house. The homeowner then shot the Carpenter six times, sending him to the intensive care unit of the hospital.

The wrinkle is the guy stole marijuana, for which the homeowner had medical license. He came back from more and got shot.

And the neighbor?
"It's pretty disturbing," neighbor Jaynelle Romero said. "We all know things like this happen. It's just scary to know it's in your neighborhood."

Because things like this aren't supposed to happen in this neighborhood. They only happen in other kinds of neighborhoods. Denial ain't just a river in Egypt.

Greeks, Once Again, Don't Meet Targets

It was only in March that they made these commitments. Now they are saying the need more time - and money. Greece in hard spot as debt payment looms and European doubts grow - The Washington Post

They are supposed to pay €3.8 billion on various loans in August. They received about €160 billion in March, when they promised all kinds of things.

Germany is finally getting tired of writing blank checks. But the powers that be, don't want to call it quits and exit as gracefully as possible.

Get Out of the State You're In - Earworm of the Day

"Private Idaho" of course....

You can thank Not Clauswitz, who got me started with "Give Me Back My Man," a favorite B-52's number that never seems to get the respect it deserves.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Neighbors are “Shocked”

Not clear if this is self-defense. More to follow, probably.

Man shot dead inside home, homeowner questioned | Houston.

But what interested me, is the reaction of the neighbor(s).

“I have no idea what might of happened,” said Gilbert Hopkins. “I’m shocked to even hear that something did happen, and I’m just clueless.”
Get clue, Mr. or Ms. Clueless. If you can read this, then you do not live in Pleasantville, You live in the Real World™. And in the real world, crime happens. It may happen where you live, to people you know. Crime isn't something that happens to "other kinds of people" in "other kinds of places." Crime is everywhere. Wake up.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Good Guys 1, Bad Guys 0

I have said it before. If you break into enough houses, you will eventually find an armed homeowner. Results will meet expectations.

Topeka homeowner fatally shoots intruder.

A man at the home told police that the suspect had tried to break into his house. The resident wasn't injured.

Witnesses told police they saw other men fleeing from the scene.
Nothing gets a bunch of would-be tough-guys to run-like-rabbits better than a firearm.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Interesting Story in an Unusual Place

A mostly pro-gun article in the mostly left wing Utne Reader. Who'd a thunk it? Target Market: Black Women With Guns - Mind & Body - Utne Reader: For J. Victoria Sanders, joining the ranks of women with guns means earning a concealed handgun license and coming to terms with Black feminism.

It's a fairly long article that covers how those on the left hate the idea of armed self-defense. (That's what police are for, isn't it?) I will just give you the caption to the opening.
Texas Department of Public Safety data show that the fastest-growing group of concealed handgun owners in the state has been, for at least five years, black women.
It is worth clicking through.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Leaving Blogger? Leaving Google?

Every once in a while, pissed off at the incompetence that is Blogger, I start looking for an alternative. (The ice cream may be free, but that doesn't mean I have to put up with it when it is bad.)

But now it isn't just about Blogger. It is about Google. I use Yahoo! for a search engine most of the time. I use Bing News and Yahoo! News as much as Google these days. Google keeps showing me what it THINKS I want to see, instead of the average search results. More than annoying really.

Anthroblogogy has moved to Not Clauswitz. With some valid points.

Their steadfast determination to exclude anything firearm-related from Google Shopping while insanity is perfectly OK. (Warning: if you follow all the links to the end of that chain it is NOT SAFE FOR WORK. And you may never be able to get the images burned in your retinas to fade.) At some point you have to decide who your friends are, and who they are not.

So maybe it is time to dust off the Wordpress version of this blog I have been playing around with for going on 5 years, and move on. Love to hear your thoughts.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Things are bad all over.

Japan Current-Account Surplus Shrinks 63% as Machine Orders Drop - Bloomberg
Machinery orders, an indicator of capital spending, fell 14.8 percent in May from the previous month, the Cabinet Office said, the biggest drop since 2001
Pre-Fukushima, pre-earthquake, pre-financial-crisis badness.

Greek economy heading for 7 percent tumble | Reuters
Greece's crippled economy will fall a steeper-than-expected 6.9 percent this year, a think-tank formerly run by the new finance minister said on Monday, a tumble that will hamper efforts to cut the deficit and bring yet more pain to Greeks.

Such a decline would mean Greece's economy has shrink by a fifth since the end of 2007.
And I don't think they have any plan for growing the economy, aside from government spending. With money they don't have. (As I've said before, more government spending is NOT equal to encouraging economic growth. How about a look at regulations and taxes stopping businesses?)

Spain on the brink as borrowing costs soar to unaffordable levels - International -
The interest rate, or yield, on the country’s ten-year bonds rose 16 basis points to 7.03 per cent, a level that market-watchers consider is unaffordable for a country to raise money on the bond markets in the long term and the level at which Greece, Ireland and Portugal all sought an international bailout. Stocks on Madrid’s benchmark index fell 1.5 per cent.
7 percent seems to the magic number, once yield hits 7 percent markets decide that the governments can't afford it. (Stupid really, since they can't afford half that much.)

And in case you aren't paying attention... 'Zombie' US economy scares sharemarket investors | The Australian
"Some are describing the US economy as the zombie economy - not quite dead, but not really alive either," said Cameron Peacock, a market analyst at IG Markets
Gotta love the zombie reference.

Monday, July 09, 2012

How Would You Greet Someone Breaking Into Your Home?

A couple of shots with a 38 Special seem appropriate to me. Woman Shoots At Door Thwarting, Potentially Injuring Burglar - Sarasota, FL Patch
A woman living in the 4600 block of Stone Ridge Trail in Sarasota called 911 just before 6:30 p.m. Saturday to report that a man had attempted to enter her home by breaking a glass door at the rear of the home. The woman said in the call that she fired her .38 caliber gun twice through the door. The suspect screamed, she said, got into his vehicle and fled the scene. It is not known whether the suspect was injured or not. "I'm by myself and I keep a gun just for security reasons, and he was stepping in when I came out," the woman says in the call. ... I was just so frightened by the noise."
He screamed and ran like a rabbit. No one is in custody, but police are still looking. Good Guys 1, Bad Guys 0.

Sunday, July 08, 2012

What Happened to Black Programs?

Stealth was developed in complete secrecy. This research is being done in the full light of day. Doesn't anyone care about national security anymore? Extreme hypersonic flight could restore military advantage to U.S. | The Bunsen Burner

This is about developing a plane that can fly at Mach 20 (and if my math hasn't abandoned me, that is roughly 15,300 mile per hour). That causes all kinds of problems with control surfaces.
There are several serious risks to vehicles that achieve extreme hypersonic flight. A vehicle flying at Mach 20 will experience intense heat (more than 3,500 degrees Fahrenheit) and extreme pressure on the aeroshell. According to DARPA, 3,500 degrees Fahrenheit is hotter than a blast furnace that melts steel. The IH program hopes to discover more about what thermal protection materials and hot structures technologies are needed to withstand the intense temperatures created by hypersonic flight.
The goal is to be anywhere in an hour. With the world's circumference being about 22,000 miles (depending on starting point and path followed, 15,000 mph gets you there with time to spare.)

Still the fact that NASA had a decades-long research program into SCRAM jet technology and shelved the project as soon as they were successful was probably a broad hint that this program existed. (NASA only got to about 5 to 7000 mph. And they still had problems.) But it just doesn't seem that a properly paranoid alphabet-soup-agency would let this kind of information be common knowledge. CIA, NSA, DIA, whatever. You would think they would want this kept low-key.

The “other faiths you don’t like might benefit” scenario

Some people are surprised to find that Christianity is NOT equal to religion. That is, there are other faiths practiced in America. ‘Religion’ is not a synonym for ‘Christianity’ It seems a lot of people are confused about this. Not the least of which is Rep. Valarie Hodges, a legislator in the Louisiana state assembly who voted to allow state school vouchers to support "religious" schools. She thought religious schools were ONLY Christian schools.
You see, the “other faiths you don’t like might benefit” scenario presented above is more a gambit than a true threat. In most cases the tyranny of the majority, once unconstrained by the law, proceeds to do its level best to silence all dissenting voices through threats, intimidation, violence, or simply peer pressure (and if you don’t believe that, you don’t remember high school). The real problem is that the coalition of groups working for the long-term shifts in how schools and the public square deal with religion, have to balance that with their fear-mongering that paints groups like Pagans, or more often Muslims, as a serious threat to their conception of a “Christian Nation.” If you delegitimize minority faith communities by saying they aren’t real religions, that the First Amendment doesn’t even apply to them, or that they are sleeper cells for terror, your constituents will be shocked when they learn they have equal access to the law.
If you grant things to "religion" you grant those things to all religions, even the ones you don't like. Can you say, "unintended consequences?"

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Texans Are Still Armed. Intruders Still Getting Shot

How would you deal with someone breaking in who was armed with an AK-47 (type) rifle? (I doubt it was fully automatic.) DeSoto homeowners shoot intruders; one dead | Dallas - Fort Worth
When police arrived, they found one suspect dead inside with the AK-47; another was lying outside, injured.

Two other alleged accomplices were also arrested.
If the guy who got shot survives his surgery, then all 3 will be charged with aggravated burglary.

Good Guys 4, Bad Guys 0

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Even Smart People Get Wedded to a Particular Paradigm

Warren Buffet is a smart man, but he seems confused about why newspapers are cutting back. Warren Buffett: New Orleans Times-Picayune's New Publication Schedule Is 'Simply Unsustainable'

I'm sure he reads at least one newspaper every day. 25 years ago I read 2 - almost every day. (The Wall Street Journal, and the San Jose Mercury News.) But there is no mystery as to why newspapers are cutting back - they can't afford to do anything else. The newspaper business is in trouble. [Click the image for a larger view, or click the link for more info - and not just on the newspaper business.]

Newspapers once got a substantial bit of revenue from want ads, classified ads, and the like. When I am looking for something or have something to sell, I think of Craigslist, eBay, or one of the more specialized sites. Not my local paper. And if they can't get people to but the paper, they can't collect advertising dollars for subscribers/readers. The only thing that surprises me is that it has taken this long for the problems with newspapers to become this large.

I haven't read a newspaper regularly in years. I didn't care for the politics of the paper where I was in Florida, and I don't care for it much where I am in Ohio. And since I don't need to get a lot propaganda delivered to my door everyday in order to feel informed, I don't bother supporting them.

That chart is interesting for 2 reasons. One is that in 1950 newspapers were in a good position. So if ad revenue is on a par with where they were in 1950, they should be doing OK. (Remember those are dollars adjusted for inflation.) But the downward trend is the kicker. And it is a problem.

Most of the stories reported by blogs come from news organizations. If those news organizations disappear, or are swallowed up by a few of the organizations whose politics offends me when it is masquerading as news, then everyone loses. Maybe the papers will figure out how to survive in the new model. Who knows? I do know I might have continued to support the paper in Florida, or the one here is Ohio, if they had been objective news organizations. But they had a mission. A desire to get folks to only see their point-of-view, which might have worked in the 50s, but fails miserably today.

So Warren Buffet is confused about the downfall of newspapers. Not surprising. Everyone has something from their youth they can't give up.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The View of the Euro Situation From Inside

Most Americans don't know where Estonia is, let alone anything about it. Suffice it to say, Estonia was once under the boot of Stalin's Russia. Now they are being bled-dry to pay for excesses of others in the Euro-zone. (I won't name names, since you already know who they are.)

From Estonia we get something that isn't too common in politics today, a reasoned exposition about the facts of (economic) life. Eventually, somebody has to pay the bill. I’ll Gladly Pay You Tuesday | Hoover Institution

I won't quote much, it is long, and most of it is good. Good enough to receive some of your time. But I will give you this.
You can do it for a while, but if you are a country like Estonia, where the gdp per capita is almost the same as Greece but where the average salary is lower than the Greek minimum wage and where the pensions and agricultural supports within an internal market are three times lower, it is a matter of time before our voters revolt. The government in my country and the opposition voted to support the European Financial Stability Facility to aid a country richer than us and profligate. Three quarters of the parliament voted in favor. But, note: 75 percent of the population was against.
Esontian (and Germany and a few others) lived by the rules. Others did not, and now complain that the austerity they face - what Estonians saw as every-day life - is "unfair." But yet it is "fair" somehow to live beyond your means, borrow money you have no hope of paying back, make agreements in April that you disavow in May. Such is the world we live in.
[Hat Tip to On a Wing and Whim]

Monday, June 25, 2012

Mortgaging Future Generations Income

The Telegraph has an interesting article on public debt. Interesting because you don't often see this in print. Reith Lecture: 'We’re mortgaging the future of the younger generation' - Telegraph
The heart of the matter is the way public debt allows the current generation of voters to live at the expense of those as yet too young to vote or as yet unborn. In this regard, the statistics commonly cited as government debt are themselves deeply misleading, for they encompass only the sums owed by governments in the form of bonds.

But the official debts in the form of bonds do not include the often far larger unfunded liabilities of welfare schemes like – to give the biggest American programmes – Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.
People usually say that they love their children and their grandchildren, and yet the "greatest generation" created and next generation expanded a system that can only be seen as robbing the future to pay for today's party. Social Security goes to everyone, regardless of need. So poor youngsters pay into a system that writes checks to rich oldsters. A system that will go bankrupt long before any of them can hope to collect.

More Bailouts in Euro-zone

Cyprus to hold crisis talks as bailout looms - Telegraph
Political leaders would meet on Tuesday afternoon, a press release from the presidency said, shortly after ratings agency Fitch cut the island's sovereign debt to non-investment grade.
And let's not forget the 800 pound gorilla in the room.... Spain.

Spain formally asks for 62 billion euros of bank aid - Jun. 25, 2012 Spain is not a small country - not on its own, and certainly not considered among the European Union countries. Bailing them out will be no small task.

The London Telegraph has a more direct take on European finances. The euro should now be put to the sword - Telegraph The imagery is due to the fact that the current EU Summit - there have been 18 since Greece became an issue - is in Rome.
Since Greece went into meltdown, triggering a crisis of confidence in the euro, there have been 18 EU summits. The format is wearyingly familiar: after 36 hours of unproductive haggling, a communiqué is issued, promising a united effort to boost growth, promote jobs and curb “speculators”.
Celebrations ensue for a day or 2 (most recent "celebration" lasted about 11 hours) before the markets realize nothing has changed.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

The National Map - Topographic Info for Most of the Country

This is a pretty cool resource. USGS TNM 2.0 Viewer I was looking for some topographic maps - don't ask - and stumbled on this. Works pretty well for where I live. (you have to select "Scanned Topo Maps" NOT the status. (The status only shows where they have topographic detail.)

I am trying to figure out why the VFH propagation is so poor around here, if you must know.)

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Most Arrogant Man in the World

Not really a fan of Dos Equis, but this is a great parody of their ad.
[via Never Yet Melted via IMAO]

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Insane Economic Quote of the Day

Spain Back in Danger Zone as Greece Relief Short-Lived — Spain Business News - CNBC
Any hopes Italy and Spain may have had that the Greek election result would ease pressure on their own debt crises were dashed early on Monday when financial markets reacted as if nothing had changed
OK. The Greeks voted for the Status Quo. Nothing. Has. Changed.

And no matter what the Greeks did, no matter who they voted for, I am pretty sure that they wouldn't vote to take over all the Spanish or Italian debt. (I am still trying to figure out why the Germans and Scandinavians are willing to foot the bill, but that is another story.)
The cost of borrowing rose for both countries, the two big euro zone economies under fire for poor finances, widening the gap between what they have to pay and what Germany pays.
That's Not Fair! Those EEEEVIL Bankers just like Germany because they have low unemployment, a balanced budget (almost) and realistic retirement benefits. It's discrimination! (Actually it is. They only want to lend money to people who have some chance of paying it back. Or weren't you paying attention to the housing collapse?)

And for the record, the phrase "pro-growth policies" is NOT synonymous with unbridled government spending. It might include things like fewer regulations for starting a company, hiring workers, etc. But out-of-control spending is how we got into this mess.

Self-defense Legal in Vermont

Armed self-defense doesn't only mean firearms. No charges against Vt. homeowner in intruder death | Connecticut
A Vermont prosecutor says an Essex homeowner who stabbed to death an intruder found in his home in the middle of the night acted in self-defense and no charges will be filed.
The intruder had a knife; the homeowner grabbed a knife, and a struggle ensued. It ended with the intruder stabbed in the heart.

Shot in the Face With A Shotgun: That Will Ruin Your Day

Break into homes, and you will eventually find an armed homeowner. Tacoma police: homeowner shoots intruder in face | Local News | The Seattle Times
Police say a Tacoma, Wash., homeowner shot a would-be intruder in the face with a shotgun when the man tried to break in through a window.
The guy was hurt pretty badly - as you can imagine - but he is expected to survive.

Police are calling self-defense, but the investigation continues.

Good Guys 1, Bad Guys 0.

Monday, June 18, 2012

The Myth of Underpaid Teachers

Somewhere, there are probably underpaid teachers. But they aren't where the unions say they are. Illinois Interactive Report Card

In 2000, in the city of Chicago, the average teachers salary was $50,411. In 2011 that had climbed to $64,978. In part, this is because teachers get paid more if they hold a Master's degree, and the percentage of Chicago school teachers with Master's degrees shot up from 45.7% in 2000 to 60.4% in 2011.

The union wants a 32% increase in pay, or they will strike in the fall.

For the full story, you might look at the Ink Well story on the subject.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

A New Space Race? Sort Of.

China is about where we were during the Apollo Program. Perhaps a bit better. China Chooses Liberation Army Pilot as First Woman Astronaut - Businessweek But then with today's tech, it should be a lot easier for them.
Liu will be one of three astronauts aboard the Shenzhou-9 spacecraft when it blasts off tomorrow ahead of the country’s first manned orbital docking with the Tiangong-1, or “Heavenly Palace” module, the Xinhua News Agency reported.
Orbital rendezvous is one of the things Apollo had to master. Before heading for the moon. I wonder what the Chinese plans are.
So the rule for military operations is not to face a high hill and not to oppose those with their backs to a hill. (Sun Tzu - The Art of War)

Friday, June 15, 2012

This Appeals to My Inner Geek

A high school kid (with some help from a local HAM radio club, and some parental financial support) sends an MIT Early Admittance Tube (get into MIT early, and don't just get a lame form letter) to 91,000 feet with a weather balloon.

If you don't appreciate 9 minutes (almost) of geekiness, you can see an abbreviated version of the video at (That's the American Radio Relay League)

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Texas Homeowners Are Still Armed

You would think the Texas burglars would have figured this out. Haltom City homeowner kills intruder, police say
The homeowner and his girlfriend told authorities that they were in the house when a man broke down the door, walked inside, picked up an object and began assaulting them. The homeowner got a handgun and fired multiple times, police said. When officers arrived, Mitchell had died from multiple gunshot wounds.
Good Guys 1, Bad Guys 0.

Self-defense Still Legal in Washington State

It took a month to determine that? But they did finally. Newman Lake homeowner cleared after fatal shooting - - June 13, 2012
A Newman Lake homeowner did nothing wrong when he shot his girlfriend’s ex to death after the irate man showed up at his house with loaded guns last month, according to prosecutors.
The dead guy showed up at the home with multiple weapons and said that he was going to kill everyone there. And actually started firing a shotgun. The whole thing was recorded by 911. I should hope that warrants self-defense. But the attorneys work to their own pace.
Law enforcement said from the beginning that Snarski acted in self-defense and no charges were expected. “They made the comment that it was one of the easiest cases they ever had to do,” Snarski said Tuesday.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Continuing to Do the Same Thing, and Expecting a Different Result

That is one definition of insanity. Bailout in Spain hurts foreign markets | Business |

With the Greek bailouts, you usually saw one whole day of trading before markets realized this wasn't the end of the line. Not so much with the announcement of the recent Spanish bailout.
MADRID (AP) — Euphoria over a lifeline of up to €100 billion ($125 billion) to rescue Spain‘s hurting banks morphed into a financial markets rout in a matter of hours Monday, as investors digested the still-undefined plan and became concerned the country may be unable to repay the new loans.
I still don't understand why Germany and the Scandinavian countries continue to provide funds for the south of Europe. Most of the "loans" won't be paid back in a timely fashion.

Greece holds elections this weekend, and there is still a chance that the anti-bailout-party will win. And Italy is waiting on the sidelines for its turn getting bailed-out. Like I said, I don't know what the Germans think they get out of this.

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Some Animals Are More Equal Than Others

Freedom for all? Not hardly. Religious freedom rally set |
We have leaders from all faiths — Protestants, Jews, Catholics — as well as faithful from different political parties.
Yeah, that covers the spectrum - or that bit of the spectrum the Religious Right thinks matters.

Just for fun, here is a song from "The Waterboys."

Attacks On Free Speech Are Everywhere

"The Forbidden History of Unpopular People" deals with an instance in Australia, but the history and arguments are universal. Worth the 10 minutes or so of your time.

[Hat tip to Small Dead Animals]

Bad Day for Science Fiction Fans

I have to confess I don't care for most of his stuff. Too hard on the hard-science side of science fiction for my take, but that said you can't deny he was a great author. Ray Bradbury, author of ‘Fahrenheit 451,’ ‘Dandelion Wine,’ remembered by fans - The Washington Post He died at the age of 91.
Ray Bradbury, one of the most recognizable and monumental science-fiction authors of all time, died Tuesday at the age of 91. He endeared himself with fans through his extensive work, which was full of imagination as well as dark but poignient social commentary
‘Fahrenheit 451’ was more disturbing than Brave New World. Maybe I just saw how true to life it was. (People hated the folks in school who were smart. At least some of them did - hence the names: four eyes, nerd, etc. Which was the basis for part of the book, anyway.)

Have read a few of the obits, and no one seems to mention "I, Robot" even though it was made into a major motion picture. (Or part of it was, anyway) And no mention of The Foundation Trilogy. Which grew to more than 3 books if memory serves. Strange. I guess journalists don't actually read SciFi.

UPDATE: OK, apparently at 1:00 this afternoon I spaced on the difference between Bradbury and Asimov. That's fine. I feel the same way about both. Though I did like F-451. I didn't like Martian C, or Illustrated Man. (Also a motion picture... also not mentioned. And it was fair movie by the standards of 1960's SciFi.

The End of a Great Author? Not Now, But Soon

A great writer, who was almost never treated as a great writer, has a form of early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. This is a real tragedy. Hay Festival 2012: Sir Terry Pratchett scared of 'dying badly' - Telegraph

I wonder if he is the reason that David Weber's character Honor Harrington always wears a fedora. (That is Sir Terry's trademark, a fedora and black shirt.)

He isn't afraid of death.
I can’t be bothered about death. I have made him so popular that he owes me one.
What he is afraid of is "dying badly."

I had meant to pick up his new novel The Long Earth which is a collaboration with Stephen Baxter. Looks like it could have been the start of a new series. Lots of possibilities.

Athens, Riots and Austerity

Some disturbing photos of riots in Athens, mostly centered around Syntagma (Constitution) Square and the Greek Parliament. Athens burns as Greek parliament passes bailout and austerity plan - Telegraph

They burned a Starbucks, looted a number of shops and destroyed an historic cinema. Click through the link for a slide show.

Monday, June 04, 2012

And How Would You Handle Someone Coming Through Your Child's Window?

Break into homes, and you will eventually find an armed homeowner. Results match expectations. Suspected intruder shot by Stockton homeowner while coming through child's window |
Stockton police reports indicate the homeowner was awoken around 3:00 a.m. by strange noises at the property. Upon investigating, he saw 23-year-old Yobenrico Well coming in through his child's bedroom window.

Fearing for the safety of his family, the homeowner shot Well who fled on foot, according to police reports.
Well was caught by police and taken to the hospital.

Evidence supports the home owner's version of events. Good Guys 1, Bad Guys 0.

Greece Financial Lesson No. 324: Not Paying Your Bills is Bad

You see when you owe several hundred million Euros to suppliers (of things like natural gas) those suppliers tend to cut you off. Eventually. Greece debt crisis mutates into energy crunch | Energy | News | Financial Post
According to an energy industry source who declined to be named, DEPA has no cash to settle gas supply bills worth a total 120-million euros (US$148.4-million) with Italian gas firm Eni , Turkey’s Botas and Russia’s Gazprom, which fall due this month.

DEPA CEO Haris Sahinis declined to comment on the company’s cash position but told Reuters: “DEPA is taking every action to avoid owing anything to its suppliers.”
The gas company can't pay the foreign suppliers because the electric utilities can't pay the gas company.

Lot's of reasons, but one of them is government interference into the marketplace.
The account went into deficit because its receipts have not matched the generous subsidies it pays out to renewable energy producers, particularly for solar panels.
Don't get me wrong, I love solar panels. I have 2 on my boat. But I didn't get a subsidy for buying them. They solved a problem. I don't know why I should expect taxpayers to solve my problems. But apparently the socialists can't leave the market alone.
[Hat tip: Small Dead Animals]

Would The Government Lie To You?

Of course they would. It might mean the difference between getting elected and not. Alternate Inflation Charts

You see in the not so distant past we measured inflation in a different way. And in the distant past there was still another way. Supposedly the way we track the statistics was changed to improve accuracy. But lately I feel like there is inflation, even when the .gov is telling me there isn't.

So you be the judge. Prior to 1980 the US had one method for tracking the Consumer Price Index (CPI), and it was changed again in 1990 (or there abouts). Is there inflation - at problematic levels - or not? (click the charts for better views, or click through the link above for more info.)

The Euro Zone and Denial, or Reality Wins

After months or years of pretending that they could command the tides, it finally looks like Europe is waking up to reality. The week that Europe stopped pretending - Telegraph Whenever a "revelation" like this is realized, I think of Kipling, but more on that later.
On a single day, the European Commission said monetary union was in danger of "disintegration" and the European Central Bank said it was "unsustainable" as constructed. Their plaintive cries may have fallen on deaf ears in Berlin, but they were heard all too clearly by investors across the world.
For years, Europe has believed that the Greeks' financial woes were isolated, and manageable. Instead, it really is true that you can't live beyond your means forever. Eventually, you have to pay the piper. And it isn't only Greece that was in denial. Many countries are in denial. (It ain't just a river in Egypt after all.)

And the global economy, far from helping the Europeans is following them down. (I hope not to destruction.)
The window of opportunity offered by US recovery is slamming shut again. America’s dire jobs data for May - and the downward revision for April - confirm the fears of cycle specialists that the US economy has slipped below stall speed. America risks tanking back into recession as the "fiscal cliff" approaches late this year, unless the Fed comes to the rescue again soon.

Brazil wilted in the first quarter. India grew at the slowest pace in nine years. China’s HSBC manufacturing index fell further into contraction in May, with new orders dropping sharply and inventories rising.

We face the grim possibility that all key engines of the global system will sputter together, this time with interest rates already near zero in the West and average public debt in the OECD club already at a record 106pc of GDP.
And so, whenever the Ugly Truth™ rears its head, I am reminded of Kipling, and "The Gods of the Copybook Headings."
AS I PASS through my incarnations in every age and race,
I make my proper prostrations to the Gods of the Market Place.
Peering through reverent fingers I watch them flourish and fall,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings, I notice, outlast them all.

We were living in trees when they met us. They showed us each in turn
That Water would certainly wet us, as Fire would certainly burn:
But we found them lacking in Uplift, Vision and Breadth of Mind,
So we left them to teach the Gorillas while we followed the March of Mankind.

We moved as the Spirit listed. They never altered their pace,
Being neither cloud nor wind-borne like the Gods of the Market Place,
But they always caught up with our progress, and presently word would come
That a tribe had been wiped off its icefield, or the lights had gone out in Rome.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Here We Go Again - More of the "IT'S RADIATION!!!" Insanity

Radioactive tuna travels from Japan to US faster than wind -

I have spent too much time looking for any meaningful information to be published on this story. I give up. Even though the reference is always like this...
The amount of radioactive cesium in the fish is not thought to be damaging to people if consumed, the researchers said in a study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
I can't find the referenced article on the PNAS website. (I think you have to subscribe to get all the articles when they are current....)

What do we know? Tuna off the Pacific Coast of the US has been found with a 3 percent increase in its normal levels of radiation. In the form of Cesium 134. Which it is fair to associate with the Fuckushima Daiichi disaster after the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami, (That is official Japanese name for the disaster) since cesium 134 is only produced by atomic reactors or atomic bombs.

But it is that nebulous "3 percent" number that is insane. The amount of radiation we can detect is vanishingly small. And a lot of food is naturally radioactive. (See the Banana Equivalent Dose, for an example.)
Bluefin tuna typically have low levels of naturally occurring radioactive material, such as potassium 40, which was present in the world's oceans long before human beings walked the Earth.
As I quoted in another post about radiation, “Jumping off a chair is no big deal; jumping off a cliff is really stupid.” 3% is only a meaningful number if we know the base. And the journalism profession - it seems - doesn't know this. Or they aren't telling. A 3 percent increase of a small number is still a small number.

But Americans refuse to understand this. And the media doesn't help. What do you expect from a bunch of folks with Journalism degrees. The last science class they took was high-school biology, they are proud of the fact they don't understand math (or by extension statistics), but they will scream about the perils of radiation. Even thought they don't know what they are.

The Christian Science Monitor did give us one other piece of information not supplied by any of the other articles I looked into. Half-life.
Cesium 134 decays quickly, with a half-life of two years. Bluefin tuna excrete it on a daily basis and it also gets diluted in their bodies as they grow.
That is a fairly short half-life, as these things go. I guess they feel they need to get the hysteria in now, in a few more years, it won't be worth it.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Ear Worm of the Day

I am so far down the internet-rabbit hole, I'm not 100% sure how I got here. But I like it.

Krauka is a Danish/Icelandic/Viking folk band. Odinn! is the title track to a CD. While Google Translate doesn't seem to handle Icelandic very well, what I can make out it that this is a list of some of Odin's names (or kennings - in the Old English way of looking at things).

(Is it just me? Or is it strange that they are singing about Odin standing in front of a statue of Thor?)

Thursday, May 24, 2012

New York Senator Wants To Publish Your Home Address on the Internet

Politicians who don't know the first thing about technology - or what it is to deal with a violent stalker - should just leave the issue of privacy alone. New York Senate bill seeks to end anonymous internet posting | Today in Tech - Yahoo! News
In effect, the bill is an online stalker's dream. Of course, the most likely result of the bill's passage would just be the full-scale elimination of all comment systems everywhere, because the system is an unworkable burden on both the poster and the "web site administrators" who would need to respond to ludicrous take down requests at all times of the day.
Yeah, that's a good idea. Back in the age of VHS tapes, we used to say that if you went to the house of someone like this, the clock on their video recorder would be blinking 12 o'clock, because they didn't have the faintest idea of how to program it. But that wouldn't stop them from telling you exactly how technology *SHOULD* work.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

If You Break Into Houses...

You will eventually find an armed homeowner. Intruder killed, another charged in Cumberland County home invasion | The Jackson Sun | 2 burglars. One homeowner with a gun.
Cumberland County Sheriff’s deputies found the body of 20-year-old Jacob Andrew Clark of Putnam County not far from the house where the incident occurred. Deputies arrested 18-year-old Joey Allen Pugh of Cumberland County as he fled on foot, charging him with aggravated burglary.
Good Guys 2, Bad Guys 1. (Though of course the incident is being investigated.)

PR Firm Will Tell Us Why We Should Love Obamacare

Spin. Spin. Spin. Obama Spends $20 Mil In Taxpayer Money To Tell Taxpayers How Great ObamaCare Is -
A Health and Human Services official let slip the real reason, telling Roll Call that the PR effort is meant "to inform the American people about the many preventive benefits now available ... as a result of the Affordable Care Act." In other words, this is more about burnishing ObamaCare's image before the election than meeting some public health imperative.
File this under, "Your Tax Dollars at Work."

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Greeks Pissed Off at Germans, Still Want the Tourism Income

Yeah, didn't think that was going to happen. Germans Afraid of Greek Anger Avoid Vacations in Blow to Economy - Businessweek
German taxi driver Rudolf Kugel, who says he’s visited Greece more times than he can count, won’t be going again anytime soon to the Mediterranean sunspot because he’s concerned about the reaction of local people.

“They hold Germans responsible for all their misery,” said the 62-year-old from near Stuttgart. “You want to go on holiday to have a comfortable break, not to be lynched.”
And Germans are traditionally a big part of the Greek tourism economy, which is 16 percent of the Greek economy.
Revenue from German tourists declined 61 percent to 10.3 million euros in February, the most recent month for which there is data available, while there were 12.7 percent fewer arrivals from Europe’s biggest economy compared with the previous year
So, which is it? Are you angry with the Germans, or do you want them to come and spend money?

Fewer Euros. Few Euros to be taxed. Fewer jobs. Fewer rent payments. Bigger headaches. People are already forecasting food shortages, once Greece abrogates its most recent agreements.
[hat tip to Tam for sending me to another story on this topic.]

This Guy Needs a Bigger Gun!

A .22 will ruin your day, but I don't think they enough stopping power. Still it got the job done. Home invasion suspect shot by owner : News :

After being removed once by police, this idiot came back, pounded on the front door, damaged some cars, and pounded on the front door again. Apparently he was looking for a woman, but he was apparently looking in the wrong place.
Home then left the front door and started damaging vehicles again. He then focused his attention on the side door of the residence, kicking it down and entering the trailer. The owner called 911 and shot three times at Home with a .22 caliber handgun, according to authorities. Home fled and was later found by police officers.

The Marquette Police Department says that the homeowner had shot at the suspect aiming at his lower extremities.
At least a 38 Special or a 9mm. And center of mass.

Still, the bad guy is in jail (he was released from the hospital) and the good guy is OK. If having to deal with some property damage.

Good Guys 1, Bad Guys 0.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Religious Arguments About Political Issues - Nothing New

It's all been said before... just with a different target in mind... Commentary: Gay marriage sermon isn't surprising -

I would like to copy the whole thing, but that wouldn't be right. So, here is a taste....

Segregation and the recognition of interracial couples was the last time religion was incensed by the news of the day. And the preachers weren't always on the side of peace, hope and love.
In a 1955 opinion upholding Jim Crow laws, the Florida Supreme Court cast segregation as a divine construct. “When God created man, he allotted each race to his own continent according to color.” (Native Americans might have wondered what happened to their allotment.)

In a famous 1956 address to fellow southern religious leaders, Texas preacher W.A. Criswell, pastor of the largest church in the Southern Baptist Convention, attacked the Supreme Court’s landmark school desegregation decision two years before as “idiocy” and “foolishness” and “a denial of all that we believe in.”

Another notable Baptist leader, the Rev. James F. Burks of Norfolk, similarly warned that integration (not much more than a legal theory in the 1950s South) was an abomination against the “plain truth of the word of God” and would bring on the very apocalypse.
It wasn't until 1995 that the Southern Baptist Convention apologized for its racist past. (They were pro-slavery at one time, as well as pro-segregation.‡)

There is more like that, if you click through to the article. And there is the author's (Fred Grimm) first hand account of what happened in one Mississippi town when a federal court ordered it to desegregate the schools in compliance with Brown V Board of Education - two years after they should have done so.

So when they say the same things today, about how letting gays and lesbians have spousal social security benefits and inherit property without getting wiped out by estate taxes is an abomination, about how opening up the 1300 rights conferred by marriage (that number depends on who is counting) to gay couples will undermine the 50% of straight marriages who seem to avoid divorce, you'll excuse me if I don't just say "of course." It is like when the gun-fearing weenies say that "concealed carry will cause wild-west gunfights over parking spaces, and blood will run in the streets over road rage." It isn't true. It hasn't been true. But they have to say something or shut up. And they sure as hell won't shut up.

On the Baptists and slavery:
Of course, God as a racial segregationist had been an easy transition from the religious axiom espoused in the previous century that God was cool with slavery. Slave-holders got their theological approbation from the Rev. Richard Furman, a Baptist leader and educator (Furman University was named in his honor) who delivered his Exposition of the Views of the Baptists Relative to the Coloured Population of the United States in 1838. Furman said, “The right of holding slaves is clearly established by the Holy Scriptures, both by precept and example. In the Old Testament, the Israelites were directed to purchase their bond-men and bond-maids of the heathen nations.”

US Upgrading Nuclear Arsenal, Pissing Off Russia

I don't remember seeing any of this in the US media. Could it be they didn't want to point out that Dear Leader is actually doing something that looks military? Cold-warrior even... Upgrading US Nuclear Weapons More Expensive Than Planned - SPIEGEL ONLINE
The new B61-12 will be able to carry four different warheads, which range in strength from 0.3 to 45 kilotons of TNT. As a comparison, the bomb dropped on Hiroshima at the end of World War II had a strength of 15 kilotons. "This weapon can do the same amount of damage militarily as the very high-yield weapon attached to the B61-7," says Kristensen. Götz Neuneck, from the Institute for Peace Research and Security Policy, likewise warns of the "drastically improved mission capabilities" of the B61. In addition to the upgrades, the bombs are also to be carried by the stealth fighter F-35, which is currently in development. The weapon and the fighter jet are to be perfectly compatible, such that the F-35 -- also known as the Joint Strike Fighter -- will be able to stow two of the bombs in its hold. Such a capability could provoke new trouble with Russia, which is already unhappy with the planned European missile defense shield.
Not being tied into the 24 hour news cycle means I sometimes miss things like this, but a quick check of Google News, didn't turn up too much on the B61.

First Greece, Now Spain

Don't worry, the Spanish government is saying all is well. (Seems I've heard that before...) Spain reeling over financial fears: 'Will my money be safe?' ask customers in Madrid banks - Telegraph
The central bank announced late that evening that the level of bad loans on the books of Spanish banks was at an 18-year high, fuelling concerns about the financial sector in the eurozone's fourth-largest economy.

Then the finance ministry said late on Friday that the deficit could reach 8.9 percent of GDP after four of its 17 regions overshot their expected budgets.

And with Greece looking ever more likely to drop off the cliff and exit the eurozone, it is now Spain which has the unwelcome distinction of being in the centre of the euro firestorm.
None of this is helped by the fact that Spain, like Greece, is in recession. Well, not quite. One quarter of contraction doesn't make a recession, but that is the direction things are headed.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

"Growth" Is NOT Equal to Government Spending

For weeks the lame-stream media has been going on about how Europe (and now the G8) are not in favor of austerity = balanced budgets. They want "growth."

Except what the political class wants is the status quo. Runaway spending, no worries about budgets. Whatever. That is NOT growth.

If you want growth, you would cut regulations and restriction on business. Not invite wholesale rape of the environment, but get rid of the insane bureaucracy. And it is insane. Of course that isn't really what the Left in Europe or in America want. They don't want business to grow. They want government to grow.

If out-of-control government spending resulted in real economic growth, then Greece would look more like Germany. And the same holds true for Spain and Italy.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Cheeky Bastards!

You have to love the RAF.... RAF rescue helicopter makes unexpected beach landing - so crew can buy ice cream - Telegraph Heh, they are entitled to a tea break, same as you.
The cheeky crew members were spotted emerging from their aircraft on the sand at Winterton-on-Sea, Norfolk.

Worried beachgoers watched as they headed towards the shoreline and then pop into Winterton Dunes Beach Cafe.

Owner of five years Carmel Shiggins said she had never seen the helicopter land there before.

She said when people asked why they'd landed they didn't believe her. She said: "People had been coming in asking what they were doing, was there an emergency? And I said no, they come in for an ice cream."
They weren't in breach of regulations, since practicing landing on beaches is one of the things they do, while training.

Now That's Funny

Shy Toon Seems quite a few "men" are making it today as models. Beauty who beat hundreds of women to final of modelling competition revealed to be a man - Telegraph
Angkookrat Warangnam beat hundreds of women to make it into the final of a modelling competition - and then shocked organisers by revealing she was a man.
But when the standards of "beauty" don't conform to reality that is the human race, I suppose this shouldn't be too shocking.

I imagine there were quite a few guys who had bad nights once they found out she was a he....

Thursday, May 17, 2012

News Flash: United Nations Completely Useless

There is a "peace keeping" force. They got bombed a day or 2 ago. And there is an arms embargo. (Or there is supposed to be...) Diplomat: Confidential report finds Iran shipping arms to Syria -
A confidential U.N. report reveals Iran is exporting arms to the Syrian government in violation of a ban on weapons sales, the same day President Bashar al-Assad blamed the violence in his country on the work of foreign-backed fighters.
I'm shocked - shocked! - to discover the Useless Nitwits at the UN are useless.

Can you imagine that Iran wouldn't listen to the UN?

More Greek Elections - Will People Wait That Long?

Given that deposits in Greek banks might be converted from Euros to Drachmas - if things fall apart - what would you do with your money? The slow-motion run on Greece’s banks - the Financial Times –
As we reported in today’s dead-tree edition, senior eurozone officials responsible for monitoring the currency area’s banking system said the rate of withdrawals thus far falls short of a panic. But the International Monetary Fund’s recent report on Greece makes it clear that a slow-motion bank run has been under way for more than two years, with close to 30 per cent of deposits being pulled out since the end of 2009.

The IMF report is already a bit out of date, since it was published two months ago, but it still makes for sobering reading. It reported that since the start of 2012, Greek banks had lost 6.4 per cent of their deposits
New elections (2nd set this year) will probably elect a non-austerity government, which will mean Greeks won't get the rest of the bailouts they need, which will probably lead to Greece leaving the Euro and the EU and reinstate the Drachma. And devalue the Drachma.

If you hold Drachmas, and Greece is hit with hyperinflation, you could be left with very little...

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Good Guys 1, Bad Guys 0

So what would you do if someone was trying to break into your home? Homeowner Shoots Intruder in the Chest
Captain Barley said when the homeowner opened the door the intruder attempted to hit the person with a club and then the homeowner shot the intruder in the chest. The alleged intruder is currently receiving treatment at Raleigh General Hospital.
That will ruin your day. (Or maybe the rest of your life, but this guy is expected to survive.)

"It came down to either me or him"

This is a case of, "How dare you live without me!" Homeowner shoots intruder: "It came down to either me or him" | Spokane/E. WA -
NEWMAN LAKE, Wash. - A jealous ex-boyfriend broke into the Newman Lake home of his ex-girlfriend's boyfriend early Sunday morning and was shot and killed by the homeowner.
He was armed with a shotgun and a pistol. Only hours before he had been served with a court order of "no contact." That wasn't worth the paper it was written on.

It was his intention to kill his ex and her new partner. Without legal self-defense at least two people would be dead. (Guys like that often - though no always - kill themselves. You think they would just do that first, before they leave home, things would be a little better.)

Since they have the guy on the 911 call threatening that "no one gets out alive," it is a pretty clear case of self-defense, and the sheriff's department is treating it as such.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

California Keeps Spain and Greece Company in the Default Zone

No, they haven't defaulted, but they will probably ask for a bailout... California deficit has soared to $16 billion, Gov. Jerry Brown says - In January it was supposed to be $9 billion. Opps. They missed it by 56% and it is only May.
Brown has said there will be even deeper cuts, mostly to public education, if voters do not improve tax hikes in November. He is seeking a quarter-cent increase in the state sales tax for four years and a seven-year hike on incomes of $250,000 or more that will range from 1 to 3 percentage points. He says the measure would raise $9 billion in the upcoming budget year.
Cuts to education (before you get crazy, remember the number of non-teachers in that mix) but no mention of cuts to pensions (current or future) asking folks to pay more for health care (higher deductibles?) or anything that might scare the unions. Though that will come eventually. (All union contacts were re-upped until July of next year. There were important VOTES, and all those union votes were important!)

Taxes of course, to go with the cuts, but I think they will find even more people leaving. And they are leaving.

Hate Crimes and Murder - The International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia May 17

When I get so many hits on an old post, that don't seem to come from any one particular place, I have to find out what is going on. It seems the Advocate has an article looking at some past atrocities, that might account for the interest. 12 Crimes That Changed the LGBT World |

Violence against gays, lesbians, and the transgendered is a all too common.
There have been more than 600 reports of murdered trans people in almost 50 countries since January 2008 (including killings this year in Detroit, D.C., Florida, and California), and there was an overall 13% increase (in 2010, the most recently recorded year) in violent crimes committed against LGBT or HIV-positive people, according to the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs. Some murders are so iconic they’re steeped in popular culture: Brandon Teena, murdered by his rapists in Nebraska in 1993; Angie Zapata, a trans woman killed by a transphobic boyfriend (Zapata’s murderer was later tried on hate crime charges, a first for a transgender victim). But there are others that slip under the radar: some in which victims’ families never find justice — like Martha Oleman, a lesbian killed in Sugarcreek Township, Ohio, in 1997, her murder part of the state’s cold case files — and others in which police action is swift but resolution remains murky.
Some of the names and stories you have heard, such as Mathew Shepard, but others almost no one has heard of. It is a long article - one page for each of the stories (some are about serial killers that commit many crimes) and an introduction - so 13 in all - but most are about single people killed for being who they are.
While all crimes change the world, on the following pages are 12 LGBT crimes that won’t soon be forgotten, serving as a reminder of the enduring violence we face daily.
I won't cover them all, you can click through the link to the article for that, but a few of the ones that you probably haven't heard of follow.

If Only They Would Start Eating Fire...

This reminds me of the Lesbian Avengers. Femen Activists Get Naked to Raise Political Awareness - SPIEGEL ONLINE I know very few of you are interested in the struggle for human rights and women's rights in the former Soviet Union, but this is almost funny. Almost.
The Ukrainian activist group Femen has made headlines around the world by baring their breasts to protest against prostitution, exploitation and corruption. But can their naked stunts change anything, or are they just providing images for a sex-obsessed media?
The Lesbian Avengers did the same thing. And they ate fire. In this case the Ukrainian authorities are being a bit heavy-handed. (No sense of humor.) Hooliganism is a charge left-over from the Khrushchev era, and that is what the Femen are being charged with. Back in the day, the penalties were fairly severe.

Greece Isn't the Only EU country in trouble

Spain is next in line... with a renewed crisis. Spain tries again to restore confidence in banks - BusinessWeek
The government in February told banks to set aside (EURO)50 billion ($64.8 billion) in rainy-day funds to protect them against losses in the property market and elsewhere. Analysts say this could be raised to (EURO)80 billion, and believe the government might also oblige banks to increase provisions for healthy real estate loans.

Because the government is strapped for cash, it has little room to help rescue the country's banks. Fears that public finances might be overwhelmed by bailing out banks have led investors to consider Spain the next most likely European country to need an international bailout.
Banks should be let go under, just like any other business. In the case of Spain, there might not be much choice.

And it isn't only Spain of course... Euro Economy to Shrink as Spain, Italy Re-Enter Recession - Bloomberg
The euro-region economy will return to growth in 2013, with only Spain among its 17 members remaining in recession, according to the European Commission.

Gross domestic product will rise 1 percent in 2013 after declining 0.3 percent in 2012, the Brussels-based commission said today. While Greece will have the deepest slump, with GDP declining 4.7 percent, its economy may stay unchanged in 2013. Italy and Portugal will return to growth next year, while Spain’s economy may shrink 1.8 percent this year and 0.3 percent in 2013.
And while it is always popular - in political circles - to blame the crisis du jour for everything, Europe has been on a downward spiral for a long time.
In the 1970s, their average growth clocked in at 3.2%, in the 80s at 2.5%, in the '90s at 2.2%—and in the '00s, 1.2%. Yes, the 2008 crash was bad for everybody, but Europe is still heading down. This year, growth is likely to end up at an anemic 1%.
Something politicians don't like to talk about.

The French have "punished the markets" in their latest election. Without noting that government debt grew from 35% to 90% of GDP between 1990 and today. (No, that can't be why the county's debt was downgraded! Speculators! Eeeevil Bankers!)

Unemployment in the EU is 11% (much worse in places like Greece). Only Germany seems to be able to avoid this... The German budget is nearly balanced. There were 5 million unemployed a few years ago, today there are 3 million. Why?
Go back nine years, when Social Democratic Chancellor Gerhard Schröder launched his "Agenda 2010." He declared to the Bundestag: "We shall reduce social benefits, promote individual responsibility and demand more from each and all." True to his word, he loosened up labor markets, cut payroll, personal and corporate taxes, and enacted a "workfare" program that egged the unemployed off the dole. Angela Merkel is now reaping what her predecessor sowed—efforts for which he lost his job.
If bloated government, and excess spending was good thing, then Greece would look like Germany, and Germany would look like Greece. But in the real world... that isn't quite the way it works.

Government can't fix things. Not really. Somethings they do very well, but most things are best left to the market. There has been much talk of income inequality. Well the country in Europe that has done the "best" job of reducing income inequality is Greece. Yeah, that's a model to adopt. (And since the folks promoting it are not completely stupid, they have begun talking about Spain as an example.

Still Waiting for the Fat Lady to Sing - in Greece

Who would have thought that a government responsible for an unpopular policy would be voted out of office. Apparently the brain trust running the EU and the European Central Bank never thought that democracy could work like this. BBC News - EU central bankers ponder Greece euro exit

Greece had an election. The people elected haven't been able to form a government however. So the standard guess is that there will be another election.
If no new government is formed, a new election will have to be held, and opinion polls suggest Syriza - a leftist, anti-bailout party - will benefit most. Syriza firmly rejects the terms of the most recent EU-IMF bailout, which requires tough austerity measures in return for loans worth 130bn euros ($170bn; £105bn).
Which is the choice Greeks have always had. Bailout and austerity and continued membership in the EU, OR business as usual, no bailout, and ejection from the EU. (While I am no lawyer, it is my understanding that isn't likely that Greece can exit the Euro legally without bailing on the entire EU. But then the EU and the ECB have been bending a lot of the rules lately.)
On Saturday, German central bank chief Jens Weidmann said: "If Athens doesn't keep its word, it will be a democratic choice.

"The consequence will be that the basis for fresh aid will disappear."

Without financial aid, there is the possibility that Greece will default.

"We're a breath away from the drachma and disaster," liberal Greek daily Kathimerini warned on Saturday, referring to the country's old currency.
I don't know why they keep maintaining the fiction that Greece has NOT defaulted. They have. They did not pay back 100% of the value of the bonds as they promised to do. If I was on the receiving end of that deal, it would look an awful lot like a default to me. But then I don't live in the propaganda universe that is politics.

And while it will certainly be painful if Greece returns to the Drachma, I think it will help them in the long run.