Friday, April 27, 2012

How Wind Turbines Kill Bats

All that green energy. On a Wing and Low Air: The Surprising Way Wind Turbines Kill Bats: Scientific American
"As turbine height increases, bat deaths increase exponentially," says ecologist Erin Baerwald of the University of Calgary in Alberta, who led research into the deaths as part of her master's project. "What we found is a lot of internal hemorrhaging."
And this is a major problem. Folks don't appreciate how much bats do, and how far they travel.
The full impact of these bat-killing pressure zones extends far beyond the wind farm, however. Such migrating bats travel from Canada as far as Mexico, eating thousands of insects en route, including crop pests such as moths and beetles. "They are one of the only things that fly around at night and eat bugs," Baerwald notes. "Bats killed in Canada could have a detrimental impact in America or Mexico. It's not local. It's an ecosystem-wide issue."
But I thought wind and solar energy were supposed to save us. Where are the executives at Solyndra when we need them?

[Hat tip to Cynthia Yockey]

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Beware of Greeks Bearing Gifts Making Promises

EuroSo the ink is barely dry on THIS year's agreement, and the Greeks are already trying to renegotiate. (As far as I can tell, they still haven't done everything they promised to do in 2010, but I could be wrong.) Greece In Talks To Push Back Deficit Goals One Year - Report -
In an interview with Dow Jones Newswires Tuesday, Sachinidis raised the possibility of easing back the country's austerity program in order to help Greece return to growth.
And they are already negotiating with their creditors.

Why Greece has any creditors at this point is beyond my comprehension. They lied about honoring their bonds in the first place. They lied about the measures they would take in 2010 to get their first bailout. Now it appears they lied about their intentions to raise revenue in order to get the second bailout. (Any bets on whether this will be the last bailout? Or how long Germany will keep footing the bill?)

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

All Is Well - Not Hardly

I can't wait to see how the Democrats will spin this. Durable-Goods Orders Fall -

One things is interesting.
Orders for all capital goods fell 8.9% last month, though spending on defense jumped 10.3%.
That is a pretty healthy increase in spending on defense. Did we start another war when I wasn't looking? Or are we about too?

I thought the end of the Iraq war was supposed to save up all kinds of money. I guess they don't want the economy to fall off a cliff before the election.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

“Economic Sleight of Hand”

What's this? Things are worse than Washington wants to admit. How can this be? The $8 billion cover-up -
The trustees of the Social Security and Medicare program reported that a sagging economy and an influx of retiring baby boomers were putting an enormous strain on the system, and according to their annual financial reports, Medicare would run out of funds by 2024 and Social Security’s retirement fund would run dry by 2033.
Any bets on whether or not anything will get done? Anything effective that is.

So instead of face the truth, the Obama administration is going to sweep things under the rug - at least until after the next election.
Remember how under Obama- care about 12 million seniors enrolled in Medicare Advantage programs — popular for their extra benefits like vision and dental care — were going to be kicked off those programs? Well, that change would become apparent to seniors next October (the start of the open enrollment period for the following year), just weeks before the presidential election.

Enter the $8.3 billion “demonstration project” which HHS is using to temporarily keep those programs alive — at least until after the next election. The GAO report said the project “dwarfs all other Medicare demonstrations” and is so poorly designed that there was no way of knowing whether the bonuses paid to insurers netted “meaningful results.” It’s what happens when you throw money at plans just to cover your political backside until after Nov. 6.

Monday, April 23, 2012

More on the Economic Return on College Degrees

1 in 2 new graduates are jobless or underemployed It isn't just the downturn, there are a lack of jobs for people with degrees in the humanities. But that isn't new.
While there’s strong demand in science, education and health fields, arts and humanities flounder.
The thing that irritates me about this is the attitude expressed in the following passage.
Andrew Sum, director of the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University who analyzed the numbers, said many people with a bachelor’s degree face a double whammy of rising tuition and poor job outcomes. “Simply put, we’re failing kids coming out of college,” he said, emphasizing that when it comes to jobs, a college major can make all the difference
We aren't failing "kids" coming out of college, we are failing them going in.

One of the poor, downtrodden, debt-ridden "kids" (he is 23 and has a degree in Creative Writing) they profile is discouraged at his job prospects. Didn't anyone ever explain the concept of "starving artist" to this kid?

And a "job in creative writing?" That would be called, "Being an author." Write. No one hired Stephen King. No one hired J. K. Rowling. They wrote. They hawked their wares. And because they were good, they made money. One of my favorite authors, Jim Butcher, couldn't get his first short story published. (He published it later when he had a following. I've read it; it should have remained unpublished.) Even his first novel, should have gone a few more times around the write, edit, rinse, repeat cycle. It's OK, but he does get better with practice.

So we are "failing kids" because they select majors they can't market. They take on debt they can't repay. But it is only after the colleges are finished with them that the failing starts. Somehow I think it is the colleges themselves, and maybe a raft of high-school guidance counselors, who are doing the failing. (And parents who are all invested that little Johnny is getting a degree - even if he will be saddled with untenable debt. Maybe they should be more happy if were becoming a plumber.)

Here is a taste of the statistics they throw around.
More [college grads] also were employed as cashiers, retail clerks and customer representatives than engineers (125,000 versus 80,000).
Not surprising since a very small percentage of college attendees would bother to study anything as difficult as engineering. That requires math. And studying. And learning something - not just cramming the night before the exam. (You know, learning something today, so you can use it next week or next year - can't do that with quick memorization.) And not just math, but calculus. And geometry. And maybe some other hard sciences. (Hard in more ways than one.)

Take a close look at that image - you can get a better view by clicking on it. It is pretty elementary as calculus goes. How many can follow it, let alone understand it? How many can't be bothered? (I have to play Angry Birds!)

Hate Crimes - You Won't Hear About All of Them in the News

Black on gay (white) hate crime? Not in the national news. Las Vegas police investigating possible hate crime on Strip -
The victim tells Action News that he and two friends were headed back to their car after leaving the nightclub. On their way, they passed two men, one of whom allegedly shouted a gay slur at the victim before punching him, knocking him to the ground.
You might hear about this second one, because it makes the military look bad. Marine Killed in Possible Hate Crime: Police say suspect, also a Marine, used homophobic slur during Barracks Row stabbing: News section: Metro Weekly
Upon arrival, police found the victim suffering from a stab wound. Information uncovered during the preliminary investigation indicated the victim and suspected assailant were engaged in a verbal altercation during which the suspect used an anti-gay epithet.
OK - everyone who hates gays, you can comment somewhere else about how Don't Ask Don't Tell was a good idea.

OK, this one you WON'T hear about in the mainstream press. Normal Police follow up on student beating, claim of hate crime
Eric Unger, 23 of Deerfield, was walking home from a party Saturday around 2:30 a.m. Assistant Chief Eric Klingele said Unger told officers he was jumped by six black men in the 100 block of west Willow. He said Unger couldn’t give a description of the men or where they went.

Klingele said at the time of the report, Unger didn’t claim it was a hate crime, but asserted that later. Unger told the Chicago Sun Times, the group was yelling anti gay slurs during the beating.
Wouldn't want to distract attention from Florida.

Here is another one you might hear about. A.J. Walkley: Command Sergeant Major Allegedly Assaults Lesbian Captain at Military Ball A little bit of prejudice in the military? They called the couple "an abomination." Now they want to claim it was a misunderstanding.
How can calling someone "an abomination" for their sexual identity be misconstrued?
The unit commander didn't want them to dance, because he didn't want publicity. Well he's got publicity now. (Though strangely, I can't find his name anywhere, just that the incident took place at the Calvary Squadron Ball. Hard to pin point from that.

The Violent City and the Peace Summit

You would think it was a war-torn wasteland. And in some ways, maybe it is. Chicago Hosts Peace Summit Amid Record Violence | NBC Chicago
Former President Bill Clinton, former Russian President Mikhail Gorbachev, and actor and activist Sean Penn are among guests at the meeting and awards ceremony.
If it wasn't so tragic, it would be funny. I mean, Sean Penn? (I haven't heard from him since he almost sunk a boat after Katrina.) And the mayor - Rahm Emanuel - had some platitudes to offer.
"The decision to host this event in Chicago reflects the profile of our city as an international leader in civic dialogue and community involvement," Emanuel said in a statement. "While the summit is a global event, it will have a local impact and leave a lasting legacy on our city.”
Community involvement?
Earlier this month, the mayor went on the defensive about a surge of recent homicides. Between the start of 2012 and April 1, Chicago Police recorded 120 homicides, a 60 percent spike over the 75 murders during the same period in 2010 and 2011.
I guess gangs are part of the community too.

Stupid Criminals Don't Know About GPS in Cell Phones?

Cell phones contain GPS. Police can use the GPS to track the phones. (Does this remind of Big Brother? Big Brother never had it so good.) In this case they used the GPS to track the kid whole stole some phones. Teen tracked by GPS, arrested after theft of iPhones from kids in West Rogers Park on North Side - Chicago Tribune
A Rogers Park District sergeant was able to find where the 17-year-old was after using a tracking system in at least one of the phones, police said.
So is it a good thing or a bad thing that the cops can track cell-phones? In this case it is probably good. In general, it is too much like the capabilities in "1984."

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Considering Nugent Used to Have Secret Service Over to His Ranch, I Didn't Expect Problems

Secret Service on meeting with Ted Nugent over Obama comments: ‘The issue has been resolved’ | The Ticket - Yahoo! News Nugent's Texas ranch is just down the road from Bush's Texas ranch. So he used to entertain the Secret Service while they were guarding Bush. (He supplied the barbeque, they supplied the automatic weapons.)

Secret Service has been in the news a lot lately. Though I find it hard to believe that a bunch of Senators are shocked - shocked! - to discover that men on business trips often hire hookers. Where have they been living? Next they're gonna be shocked that people spend money to go to conferences in places like Hawaii and Las Vegas. Oh, wait...

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Answer: The Complete Breakdown of Anything Resembling Civilization

Q&A: What’s Behind Chicago’s Homicide Spike? | FRONTLINE | PBS You see, murders in Chicago are up 60% this year, compared with the first quarter of last year. Non-fatal shootings are up as well. (Murders are more an indication of how far you are from a certified Trauma Center than the number of shootings...)

I am almost surprised to see PBS covering this subject. It casts Chicago in a bad light. Chicago was the home of Dear Leader, where among other gigs, he was a Community Organizer. (The community he worked in was the one that saw Derrion Albert beaten to death, a death that was captured on numerous cell-phones.) Still, Obama hasn't been around for a while, what with part of a term in the Senate, and his time in the Illinois legislature.

As Arne Duncan said, after the Derrion Albert killing, "it is about our values." He also said that money will never stop this problem. It won't. Money - the money from prohibition (not of alcohol, but of drugs) - drives it. It hasn't changed in a 100 years. What is funding the gangsters have changed. And they have changed from being mostly white and associated with The Outfit, to what we have today. But it is still The Chicago Way. (See the video below, if you aren't familiar with that phrase)
There’s also a real serious spirit of revenge in the air in Chicago. People have been killed over the years and a lot of guys are trying to avenge the death of their fallen comrades. So the spirit of revenge is really deep. The only way to effective stop a guy from killing someone is to have boots on the ground with those young guys so you can intervene.
There is, to use the term coined by Thomas Hobbes, a state of war in Chicago. "Bellum omnium contra omnes." (The War of every man against all men.) That life is "nasty, brutish and short" is also an observation made by Hobbes. (Note: Leviathan, the source for these quotes, was published in 1651.) Civilization relies on the rule of law, and in Chicago, vendetta has replaced the rule of law.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Why Am I Not Surprised: Supply? Demand? No We Need More Government

I think the title of the article says it all. Obama oil regulation proposal $52 million price tag for increased regulation
President Obama on Tuesday will formally unveil a $52 million plan that would look to address rising oil prices by "cracking down" on oil market manipulation with the help of stronger federal oversight and higher penalties.
Because those damn oil drilling countries are just filled with corruption. Oh, and the 104 different boutique blends of gasoline used in this country, don't contribute in any way to supply crunches. Or the taxes on every gallon at the state and federal level. Those are virtually nil. What a loser.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Police Misconduct Costs Chicago More Than $10 Million - Just Since Sept.

That is if the current recommendations for $1.5 million in additional settlements gets approved. City Council panel OKs nearly $1.5 million in settlements -
The council Finance Committee signed off on paying $700,000 to a South Side family who alleged rogue police officers extorted thousands of dollars from them in armed raids on the family’s home in the Roseland neighborhood.

In one instance, the officers allegedly planted drugs on Larry Wilkins and arrested him. He spent eight months in jail before charges were dismissed after police officers were arrested by federal authorities.
And then why put the real criminals in jail, when you can put anyone you want to behind bars?
The committee also recommended paying $750,000 to Jose Lopez, who was arrested in 2002 for the murder of Gabriel Solis. After spending three years behind bars, Lopez was acquitted.

Lopez alleged that after a man who fit the description of the actual shooter implicated him, police held two other witnesses against their will and coerced them into implicating Lopez, Darling said. At a civil trial last year, 10 of 12 jurors ruled in favor of Lopez, Darling added.
Chicago's Finest?

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Real Life is Pounding on the Door

Posting may be light for a few days.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Bill Cosby and His Concealed Carry Permit

Mr Cosby has had some unpleasant things to say about people with concealed carry permits. Funny, then, that he had one in 1993, in New Your City of all places. Elite in NYC are packing heat
Bill Cosby, Joan Rivers and Donald Trump are members of a select group of celebrities who have been granted a permit to carry a concealed weapon from the New York City Police Department.
I'm sure he didn't ask for it. They just sent it too him in the mail, hoping for an autograph. Right.

That link is to the archives at the Boston Globe. While I believe other gunny sites, not everyone will. (You either have to buy the entire article or subscribe to the Globe, and I'm not willing to do either of those.)

Celebrities and politicians should have learned by now that the internet has a VERY long memory.

Canadian Suicide and the Myth of "Gun Deaths"

More equality among the sexes... Suicide rates rising among Canadian girls: study - Yahoo! News Where in 1980 boys and young men (ages 15 to 19) were almost 5 times more likely to commit suicide than girls of the same age, today the rates are at parity. Progress? Well, the rate of suicide in boys that age fell by more than half, but the rate among the girls nearly doubled.

Canadian suicide though a grim subject is interesting because of the contrasts between the methods used in Canada and those used in the US. (Click the images for larger views. Source)

While the US line is trending in the wrong direction, and the Canadian line seems like things are getting better, it is clear that the rates in both countries are nearly the same. For a good part of the past 10 years Canada has had the HIGHER rate.

But how can this be? Canada has all those gun laws. They are either "sensible" or "draconian" depending on your political view. but it hasn't made any difference in the suicide rates.

Well it turns out, that people don't commit suicide because they have access to firearms. When they decide to commit suicide, they turn to whatever means they have available. Be fair, do you really think that Canada should enact "rope control" to cut down on the "rope deaths" - that is hangings - in this statistic? (It would be "for the children.")

In the first story, one of the reasons girls and young women are committing more suicides, is that they have abandoned pills in favor of hanging, a much more lethal method.

Monday, April 09, 2012

Chicago: The Land of Special Treatment?

Anyway, one judge seems to think it may be the case. Judge rips police and prosecutors in ordering special prosecutor to look into the investigation into the death of David Koschman - Then-Mayor Daley's nephew, Richard "R.J." Vanecko, got into a fight, in which the guy he was fighting fell and hit his head, and eventually died.
Koschman, 21, had been drinking in the Rush Street night-life district early April 25, 2004, when he and friends argued with a group that included Vanecko. During the altercation, Koschman was punched or shoved, causing him to fall back and hit his head on the street. He died 11 days later. No charges were ever filed.
No charges were filed against a scion of the Daley-clan, Chicago's ruling family for living memory.

Now why would you think politics (the Chicago word is "clout") had anything to do with that. So now there will be a special investigator to double check that the politics of Chicago didn't play a role. (Let me tell you something, at least as far back as Daley's old man, politics plays a roll in everything in Chicago. "Don't make no waves; don't back no losers.")

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Would-be Burglar Meets Armed Homeowner (With a Lesson About Family Emergency Plans)

So what would you do if a home-invader woke you up in the middle of the night? Make tea? Burglar shot after waking Toledo homeowner
The homeowner says he found the suspect in the hallway, and that's when he made the split second decision to shoot.

[The bad-guy] was hit twice, once in the chest and once in the arm. "He was literally three to five feet away from me, and I was concerned with my family, that he was going to harm my family or even myself," the man says. "Once someone's in your house, that far into it, there was no question in my mind. I had to do what I had to do."

The family is very proud of their son, who stayed inside his bedroom during the commotion. They say that's part of an emergency plan they prepared for him, and they hope parents talk to their kids about what to do in emergency situations.
So what would you do? Good Guys 1, Bad Guys 0.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

4th Amendment? We Don't Need No Stinking 4th Amendment

It would be a good thing if we didn't need it, because we pretty much don't have it anymore. $620,000 award in case of dog shot by deputy - Crime Scene - The Washington Post

While what happened to the dog is a shame, what happened to the 4th Amendment is even worse.

Basically the police seem to be able to enter a property they believe they need to. They "believed" the kid they were searching for might be inside. The fact that he was hiding doesn't change the fact that they didn't have permission to search. As far as I can tell, they had no probable cause. (It was his parents' house. He might be there, he might be somewhere else.)

Like I said, goodbye 4th Amendment. 9 and 10 are mostly ignored. 2 is better than it was - but still struggling. They get around the 5th all the time. So much for the 'land of the free.' More like a police state every year.

Government Officials and Censorship

Schools love censorship - it's for the children of course. Gay student sues over banned T-shirt | |

Of course others wear shirts with religious symbols or bible versus. But this one was too much.
Clark said administrators initially said the shirt was disruptive and later that it was too religious. He said they now claim it violates rules prohibiting clothing that is indecent or sexual in nature.
Yeah, the rainbow flag and "homophobe" are just beyond the pale.

While it is true that students' constitutional rights have some limits on school property, this is more about denying his existence than anything else. (Bullying is an on-going issue, so why aren't the authorities doing something about that?) Next they will say you can't wear black armbands to protest the war. Whichever war we are protesting today. (What happened to all the anti-war protestors? Maybe they are still protesting in Texas....)

So now, instead of acting like reasonable humans - the lawyer tried to settle without a suit - the district, which I am sure is just rolling in excess money, will spend some of that money on lawyers' fees. Good thinking.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

The Power of Political Pork

The gift that keeps on giving.... Murtha Airport, brought to you by American taxpayers | Power Players - Yahoo! News
The Murtha Airport in Johnstown, Pa., is a prime example of taxpayer spending that refuses to die. Representative John Murtha steered some 150 million of taxpayer dollars to this eponymous airport over the last decade and despite the fact he died more than a year ago, the money keeps on coming.

Three years ago, we first visited the tiny airport, and found a monument to pork barrel spending: An airport with a $7 million air traffic control tower, $14 million hanger, and $18 million runway big enough to land any airplane in North America. For most of the day, the only thing this airport doesn't have is airplanes.
The money keeps flowing. Congress just reauthorized a $100 subsidy on most tickets. That's 50% of a lot of tickets. It isn't a lot of money because almost no one flies there. Pretty much the only place you can fly is Washington, DC. What a shocker.

So why did a Congress that can't agree on anything agree to spend more money on an airport we don't need, and that almost no one flies through?

The video follows the break.

A Shooting You Didn't Hear About... It Wasn't In a "Gun Free Zone"

There isn't anything simple about a self-defense shooting, but this looks pretty straight-forward. Sheriff: Intruder killed in North Bend likely intoxicated | Seattle Times Newspaper

He made a ruckus at a gas station. They called 911.

He tried to get into a home. (Pounding on doors and windows.) They called 911.

He threw a propane tank through a window at a second house. That owner barricaded himself and his girlfriend in a what sounds like the master suite (bedroom and bathroom) and called 911. When this home invader finally broke into the bedroom, he got shot.
While the King County Medical Examiner’s Office has not released the results of a toxicology analysis of the suspect’s bloodstream, [Interim King County Sheriff Steve] Strachan said that the man’s friends told deputies that he had been drinking heavily that night while they were out at a bar. The friends also said that the man had been using cocaine, Strachan said.
I guess doing drugs really is bad for your health.
The last thing he wanted to do is use force,” Strachan said about the homeowner. He said that the homeowner and his girlfriend are devestated and refuse to return to the home.
I am sure it is also a tragedy for the dead guy's family, and much will be made - though not in the national media - that he had a history of mental illness. But the bottom line is, he invaded a home and threatened the occupants. The result is only what's to be expected in a case like this.

What would you have done under those circumstances?