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.