Sunday, December 29, 2013

Thoughts on the Health Insurance Deform Act

It occurred to me that if my insurance agent knowingly lied to me in such a way that I lost my insurance, he would be liable to civil and criminal penalties.  Well, what about the guy who lied in such a way that up to 75 million Americans will lose insurance?

Brilliance from the Democratic Party

Fox reports that the Democratic Party is doing fund-raising for the 2014 elections (sigh) based on the premiss that if the GOP does well, they will remove Mr. Obama from office.  Now of course the paleo-conservative/libertarian in me would love to see Mr. Obama's public housing change from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue to, say, Littleton, Colorado with his buddy Rod Blagojevich.  It's the tradition for Illinois politicians, and I have to say that with his blatantly illegal executive orders, obstruction of justice in the IRS case, and other issues, it's clearly the place for him.

However, the reality of the matter is that the Democrats currently control 55 seats in the Senate, and only 21 of them are up for election.  So even if they lost 100% of their seats this year, they would still hold 34 seats, enough to prevent the rightful removal of Mr. Barry Soetoro. 

Democrats; the party that cannot do basic math.  Remember that in the coming year as you contemplate the fact that a 1% increase in the cost of borrowing would cost your family over $1000 annually. 

Friday, December 13, 2013

It boggles the mind

If anyone has the idea that government can do things well, the funeral for Nelson Mandela ought to cure us of that view.  The host was of course the South African government and Mr. Jacob Zuma, a man who is not only clearly implicated in rape and corruption charges, but who also (here's your racial reconciliation here) charmingly sang a song "Shoot the Boer" at the centennial celebration of the African National Congress. 

Add to that world leaders who apparently think flirting and taking "selfie" pictures is appropriate at a funeral (because obviously no one would EVER take a picture of world leaders together) and a "sign language interpreter" who not only did not know sign language, but was also mentally ill and had an extensive criminal history including murder allegations, and I think you've got to conclude that if you think government will do things well....

.....well, you're hallucinating just as certainly as Thamsanqa Jantjie.

Beyond doubt, the Obama administration has been a time of great suffering for the nation, but if it helps voters dispel the notion that government can do something right, it could be useful after all.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

You might be a redneck....

......if you view a state funeral as a chance to hit on the Prime Minister of Denmark. 

Monday, December 09, 2013

NSA: No Sentient Analysts

Why so?  Well, apparently, according to Fox News, the NSA is credibly accused of monitoring video game players, specifically those in a game called "World of Warcraft."  Apparently, you can figure out the performance parameters of specific weapons--just like you can with a simple Wikipedia search--and apparently you can get some decent training in hand-eye coordination using online games, just like you can with.....games you put into your Xbox.

And so we either have the NSA being completely ignorant of the fact that they're spreading a net to detect maladjusted young people wasting their lives in video games instead of actually detecting potential threats to our security, or (this is my guess) the NSA is staffed with maladjusted social rejects who are using the "surveillance" of online video games to play "World of Warcraft" themselves.

If anyone from the NSA is reading this; a little hint; men and women generally don't look like that without extensive help from a plastic surgeon, and you won't find any expert swordsman carrying a weapon that looks anything like that.  Please stop wasting your time and our money!

Sunday, December 01, 2013

Obamacare portal, fixed?

Well, not so fast.  Beyond the obvious question of "have they really tested systems and whether they'll bear the proposed load" (not while the system is live they haven't), you've got the reality that the system may support 50,000 users per day, but for the system to get seven million people registered by the deadline, simple math says they'll need to achieve.....60,000 people per day.  Plus the load of people who browse but don't sign up the first time, and you can figure that the system will still be seriously overloaded.

Add to that known security issues, and the fact that more and more people are "unexpectedly" (to those who don't know the law's perverse incentives at least) losing their insurance, and it would appear that we're going to need to rename "SNAFU" as "SNAOU"; system normal, all Obama'ed up.

Which is, ahem, what anyone paying serious attention to Mr. Obama's curriculum vitae could have told you in 2008 or earlier. 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

A motto for the Health Insurance Deform Act

One of the most powerful adages in quality engineering is this:

Your system is perfectly designed to give you the results you are getting.

Attributed to (my hero) W. Edwards Deming, it is generally a rebuke to managers who would dodge responsibility for disasters by claiming that "situations unknown" led to problems, and thus ignore the very real incentives and processes they themselves had--purposefully or inadvertently--put in place.

And thus it is the perfect rejoinder for our "Absentee in Chief", the man for whom the buck stops anywhere but at his desk, especially given the numerous perverse incentives he himself put in place for the Health Insurance Deform Act (HIDA, sometimes called the Affordable Care Act or "Obamacare"). 

For example, HIDA requires that 80% of insurance receipts be paid out for medical expenses.  It sounds good until you realize that healthy insurance plans generally have a payout of 60% or so--and to get to 80%, insurance companies must add "coverages" that are day to day expenses.  The overhead costs don't change, after all, so the end result is that "Chevy" plans must be terminated.

In the same way, the President has, via executive order and the text of HIDA, added numerous coverages to insurance.  The end result is that actual medical insurance--pooling risk for unpredictable events--is now illegal, and the millions of Americans who had such (good) insurance now are losing that--and facing huge increases in insurance.  My favorite example is that college students are facing huge increases in the cost of their medical insurance--some by up to a factor of 15 or 20.   So the young skulls full of mush who screwed the country to get Obama's "free" contraceptive coverage are being screwed themselves by HIDA.  Poetic justice that might help collegiate chastity, I say.

Also important here is how the President has handled the HIDA internet portal; it is now becoming evident that the portal was headed for the rocks this spring, and the White House was warned not just by their consultants, but also health insurance companies though the summer and fall.  In ignoring these warnings, as well as failed alpha tests (not fair to dignify HIDA's flameout by suggesting they did a beta test, after all), the White House was telling all involved that they were not interested in anything but the official narrative.

And Dear Leader acts all surprised at this, of course, but those of us who remember Harry Truman and Deming remember that the buck does, in fact, stop at the White House, and we know that he's ultimately the one responsible for this debacle.

Say it again so the President can hear: Your system is perfectly designed to give you the results you're getting, Mr. Obama.  If he had any shame, he'd resign.

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Not just a sign, it's got to be a tattoo

Andrew Napolitano reveals that, according to Ed Snowden--a good source in the past few months--the NSA actually spied on the papal conclave.

OK, so apparently it's a vital item for national security to know how cardinals view the doctrine of transsubstantiation and the doctrine of the Mass.  Or, possibly, the NSA doesn't have squat to do with national security, and everything with forming Jeremy Bentham's Panoptikon.  Or, possibly, the "geniuses" at the NSA are really intellectually more suited to a job at Chez Mac or the TSA.  No insult intended to the good people at McDonald's, of course.

If there ever was a time for a revival of the legal theories of Blackstone, it is now. 

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Questions on the HIDA (a.k.a. "Obamacare") disaster

It's very interesting to read through summaries of the disasters that have been plaguing the Health Insurance Deform Act (HIDA, aka "Affordable Care Act" or "Obamacare").  Apparently, they've inverted the usual structure of a business website, bloated the number of lines of code to 500million (six times that of Windows 8 and ten or more times that of a typical e commerce site), and ignored basics like FMEAs, alpha and beta testing, and the like.

In other words, anyone who has worked on it in any position of authority--director or higher--ought to be fired for cause because they didn't sound the alarm that basics were being ignored.  For that matter, insurance companies have evidently been sounding the alarm for months about the deficiencies of Mr. Soetoro's system.

Which makes it very perplexing that the same insurance companies have, when asked, agreed to help sort out the deficiencies of this system.   With the magnitude of the problems, a quick fix is almost certainly impossible, which means that what's going on is that Obama is setting up the insurance companies for the blame for the failure of his administration.   The only reason for going along with this charade would be that Mr. Obama has something in his power that can destroy the insurance companies--the most benign possibility being that if the HIDA system doesn't work, the insurance companies cannot get subscribers.

I'd argue that this, along with IRS surveillance of Tea Party groups, the Benghazi cover-up, and the abuse of the NSA, really demonstrates the necessity for a number of special prosecutors with authority to demand unredacted documents, and authority to imprison those who do not comply.  We have a criminal in the White House whose activities seem to make those of Richard Nixon pale in comparison.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

A bit of hilarity

I just received a call warning me that my vehicle just went out of warranty, and that I'd do well to "get it back in warranty".  OK, fine, but my vehicles are a 2000 Chevy Venture with 259,000 miles  on it and a 1997 GMC Sierra with 151,000 miles on it.  I'm pretty sure neither has had any warranty--not even rust-through--for at least seven years. 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

A peeve of mine

....the September jobs report came out today, and despite the fact that the # of jobs created is about 50,000 short of the 190,000 needed each month to keep up with population growth, the media were noting that it was "enough to reduce the unemployment rate to 7.2%."

Um, no.  What happened to reduce the unemployment rate by 0.1%--which would be (assuming a work force of 150 million adults) 200,000 more jobs than were actually created?

Simple; 200,000 people either did not find their first job, or gave up looking for work.  There's your Obama "recovery" in action.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Here's your sign, Mr. President

The Cleveland Clinic, a worthy competitor to a little clinic we like up here and a supposed model for President Obama's Health Insurance Deform Act, is cutting $330 million from its budget and most likely 3000 or more jobs to cope with the Health Insurance Deform Act.  By the way, word on the street around here is that our little clinic is going to be making major cuts for the same reason, but isn't going public with the rationale yet.

Act in haste, repent at leisure, Mr. President.  And here's your sign.


Thoughts on the "manosphere"

I have been peripherally watching an area called "the manosphere" on the interwebs lately.  In a nutshell, it portrays normal male/female relationships in light of a theory called "game"--and yes, it's based on the same kind of theories that someone playing an ordinary game would use.

More or less, the goal is--as I guess it's been forever--to be the "quarterback," the guy who is "loud, charismatic" and for whom women "exist for the alpha's gratification."  In this movement, there are deep undercurrents of using women sexually--often in rather disgusting ways, be careful about the links--along with bitter complaints about how today's society is more or less encouraging divorce, unwed parenting, and the like. In the same movement are emphatic (or nasty depending on your perspective) denunciations of feminism, as well as quite a bit of mockery of those, male and female, whose physical attributes and personalities do not match what the "manosphere" would endorse.

I guess there is a kernel of truth to this; attractive, confident people--even narcissistic jerks--often do well with the opposite sex, and those who are not conventionally attractive do not do as well on average.  Even many feminists would agree that family law has gone too far in discouraging marriage and encouraging unwed parenting, I'd guess.

That noted, I've got to warn against the manosphere because the Scripture tells us that we are to flee from fornication, that a man of God is to wash his wife in the Word and sacrifice himself for her (Ephesians 5), and that he is to treat her with respect as the weaker vessel (1 Peter 3:7), or else his prayers will not be heard.

Put gently, those who hold strongly to the principles of the "manosphere" will tend to find themselves in about the same position, spiritually, as does Mr. Beale as he uses a ludicrous straw man argument to deny the Trinity; either in the position of not knowing God at all, or in the position of one who will suffer loss in the final judgement.  If you're tempted by this movement, consider yourself warned.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Here's your sign, Governor

....and yours too, Senatress Rosen.  What for?  Well, Mr. Dilettante explains; the electronic pull-tabs (lose your money to the TV monitor!) that were supposed to pay for the new Crystal Cathedral Viqueens stadium have just about "broken even" in terms of profit, which of course means that after the costs of problem gambling are accounted for--divorce, counseling, incarceration, etc..--the program is running a serious loss. 

But it's not like we should have known, because after all, the Taxpayers' League of Minnesota has only been warning about this for a decade or so.  Whatever you think of legalized gambling, the adrenaline rush it creates in its participants does impose societal costs, after all.

Also interesting is a look at ViQueens owner Zygi Wilf's finances.  He, along with other junior partners, owns a portfolio including 25 million square feet of business development along with the ViQueens.  Overall, a ballpark estimate of the value would be around six billion bucks, plus or minus.

However, Wilf's actual net worth is estimated at only $310 million (Sports Illustrated, 2011), indicating that those voting for the stadium bill ignored the fact that, being heavily leveraged, Wilf's finances are likely quite volatile--not a good thing when Wilf and his partners are on the hook (theoretically) for hundreds of millions of dollars more than he's got.

So if you supported the new Crystal Cathedral; here's your sign.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

How do you say "here's your sign" in Korean?

Architects are looking to build a tower as high as the Willis Sears Tower with a very interesting feature; it will have a set of cameras and an imaging system that allow it to appear virtually "invisible".  What could possibly go wrong?  It's not like anyone ever accidentally crashed into a building because they couldn't see it, as anyone who's ever visited the 78th and 79th floors of the Empire State Building (hit by a B25 in 1945) knows full well.

Here's your sign.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Here's your sign, Grand-dad

A Kentucky grandfather has built a dream playhouse for his grand-daughter.  It's got beautiful woodwork, furniture, flooring, log cabin style, a porch, windows, a steel door, red steel roof, vaulted ceilings and  a chandelier, and....

.....it's 50 feet off the ground on top of an old silo.  OK, let me think about this; toddler in a playhouse 50 feet off the ground with windows and doors that open.  What could possibly go wrong?

Here's your sign, Grand-dad, as Mr. Foxworthy would say.  Just because you can do something doesn't mean it's a good idea. 

Thursday, September 05, 2013

Born that way? Maybe not

According to World Magazine, this year's NEA convention featured the ironically named "Unheard Voices" (how are they unheard if they're on center stage?), which has as its purpose more or less normalizing most any form of homosexual, bisexual, or transsexual behavior.  Particularly interesting was a comment by one such person, Mr. Jamison Green, who noted that his "first lover suggested to me that I might enjoy having a sex change."

Let's go through the obvious first; sensible people would respond  to a suggestion to sexually mutilate themselves by ending the relationship and would probably get a restraining order and perhaps even an emergency carry permit.

That aside, Mr. Green's boyfriend has actually said something very important about his "homosexuality"; he thought it would be really cool if Mr. Green looked superficially like a Miss Green..  So is Mr. Green's boyfriend really homosexual, or is he actually heterosexual, but cannot connect with women--and thus his best option is to make a homosexual male (with whom he can connect) superficially "female"?  It's a question I hope researchers, not to mention specialists in genital mutilation ("gender reassignment surgeons"), start to ask.

And, for that matter, if the NEA can let such an obvious implication of Mr. Green's testimony go unnoticed, are their members really qualified to educate your children?  Or are they more interested in indoctrination?  I'm afraid the answer is pretty obvious here.

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Random thoughts......

Fox had two "serves you right" moments this morning.  First, a UK rapist discovered his victim was HIV positive--possibly administering the Biblical death sentence for forcible rape--and next, the AFL-CIO lost a longshoremen's union as an affiliate because they're not taking a strong stance regarding the Health Insurance Deform Act, aka "Obamacare."

In Chicago, the chief of police has noted publicly that his department will be shooting any armed person seen holding a gun.  Sounds like a great way to enrich lawyers who specialize in wrongful death, to get police officers and innocents killed, and to end up spending a term in jail.  However, not so hot when it comes to, say, "law enforcement" or "public safety."  One would think that a chief of police might be educated on these matters--how carry permit holders do not pose a threat to their neighbors--but apparently learning "facts" is outside the scope of his terms of employment.

Finally, spent Labor Day with a group of at least 50 fellow homeschoolers, and it was a huge blessing to be around dozens of teens without ever seeing anyone inappropriately dressed.  We also noted that there were more infants in attendance than you'll see in many maternity wards these days.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

In which I (almost) agree on somthing with Michelle Obama

Or, rather, I actually do; I would agree that instead of the "Real Italian Pizza" I endured as a young skull full of mush, that it would be a good thing for schools to serve something more along the lines of the "Mayo Clinic Diet" to students.

Of course, feeding wheat bread, milk with 1% butterfat, and vegetables to children is more easily said than done, and both school districts and students are increasingly rejecting the "Obameals".  

School districts unsurprisingly are finding out that real food is more expensive than the "imitation food" I grew up with, laden with white flour, sugar and high fructose corn syrup, and various forms of vegetable fats.

The students, on the other hand, are very interesting in how they respond.  Many complain about the 750 calorie target (adequate for most grown men) while throwing away not only broccoli, but also things like apples, pears, and milk.

Now having run cross country and track, I would concede that 750 calories is a bit on the lean side for a competitive runner or swimmer, but for non-athletes, it's perfectly sufficient.  What's really interesting is that Dennis the Menace's "let me give you more reasons I won't eat my carrots" has been transformed into today's "I won't eat anything but a short list of fast, refined, food."

Now the likely answers to this are where I part company with Mrs. Obama.   Her "top down" solutions run into the reality that, since the 1930s, the government has been telling us to eat our vegetables and providing a school lunch with a slab of mystery meat, bread, starch, vegetables, and fruit, along with a carton of 2% milk.  As far as it goes, it's not a bad plan.

However, Dennis learned to eat his carrots, historically speaking, because Alice responded to his "I'm hungry" with "your carrots are waiting."  Government, on the other hand, throws the carrots into the dumpster after lunch and offers him a cookie when he finds he's hungry around 2pm.  Maybe instead of reworking nutritional advice, government simply needs to get out of the business of promoting family breakdown (and subsidizing corn and dairy) and see what happens.

Monday, August 26, 2013

A very interesting question on Syria

Lost in the hubbub over the atrocities in Syria is something very telling; our intelligence services (see Mr. D.'s blog for details) are claiming that there is "very little doubt" that Syria has used chemical weapons on her own people based on the number of people injured and killed, as well as the pattern of injuries suffered.

Now that's very interesting, but that's something I don't exactly need James Bond to figure out.  I can glean that from the newswire reports.  It raises a very interesting question; can it really be true that 12 years after losing nearly 3000 innocents in the attacks on the World Trade Center, Pentagon, and elsewhere, we do not have enough spies in the Middle East to get better information than we can get from the AP and Reuters?

Granted, the CIA can't show all their cards at once for fear of revealing their sources, but one would expect that they would at least be able to say something that the AP hadn't already reported on.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

An interesting leap of logic

The Monday New York Times had an interesting article--linked--noting that the IPCC's confidence in the hypothesis of man-made global warming is higher than ever.  Upon looking at the article, however, no clarification is made about how the IPCC calculated this likelihood.

There are of course two ways that such a likelihood could be calculated.  The first, honest way is to have a model with demonstrated reliability in predicting climate patterns, and to do a sensitivity analysis while analyzing the residuals. 

However, I am sure that the Times would have trumpeted models that indeed had a proven track record of matching historical data--no such model has been trumpeted to my knowledge.  So we ought to conclude that the honest method of calculating this likelihood is excluded.

That leaves the usual IPCC method; appeal to authority leading to what clearly appears to be a politically and professionally motivated guess.  In other words, exactly the kind of "rectal data extraction" that the skeptical have been complaining about for decades.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Pure Brilliance in California

Apparently, the Golden State has just passed a law to "protect" confused young skulls full of mush by allowing them to use the opposite sex's bathroom and even  play for the wrong sex's sports team.  Because, of course, a lustful young person wouldn't possibly use the "rights" this law confers to ogle the opposite sex in the bathroom or fornicate there, even though people are arrested for exactly that every day.  And certainly young people wouldn't harass the young person who does this, even though that is exactly what happens every day.  And by no means would a marginal male athlete choose to join the girls' team so he could actually win a little bit, and by no means would teenagers make use of the officially "unisex" locker rooms to have illicit relations there.  Girls on sports teams certainly won't object to competing against the boys, and there's absolutely no chance they'll ask their male friends to not-so-gently "remove the fake girls from the playing field".  And of course, it is absolutely certain that no teenagers would ever brutally abuse someone who joined the wrong sex's sports team, because the very rationale for the law is....

......that teenagers will brutally abuse other teenagers who are different from them in terms of "gender identity" and sexual orientation.  No matter what your view on these matters, I'd hope we can agree that Sacramento has really outdone themselves in terms of stupidity, and sad to say, it's going to be the very kids they're trying to "protect" that will suffer the most.

Friday, August 09, 2013

Public service announcement

It appears that a "famous important person" named Oprah Winfrey has gotten rather unhappy because a salesman in Zurich refused to show her a plasticized canvas bag because, at $38,000, it was "too expensive" for her.

Now let's concede some obvious facts; it's insane to spend that much for a piece of vinyl, and it's probable that whether race was involved or not, the salesman probably thought Oprah was just another tourist lookenspeeper whose handling of said precious merchandise might not be good for business.

Let's assume, however, that Ms. Winfrey is correct and she received exquisitely bad and racist service.  Is the proper response to go to the media?  Of course not.

The proper response is to ask for the manager, and to explain to him that because of poor service, his store will be losing out on business.  Then walk out before the manager calls the offending salesman aside for a "talk."

Thursday, August 08, 2013

Admission of guilt?

Three months after the IRS revealed their "enhanced interrogation" of conservative and "Tea Party" groups, here's the score.  No one who wasn't scheduled to retire has lost their job.  No one has been indicted.  The IRS has provided less than 1% of documents requested by Congress, and many of those are redacted to the point of being unreadable.

One would have to assume that the White House isn't terribly interested in getting the people who committed these crimes to justice, and the best explanation for that is that whoever started this works in the White House. 

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Here comes your brain dead city council

Apparently, the San Antonio, Texas, city council is considering passing an ordinance that says that no one shall be appointed to any position if the city council finds that they have "demonstrated a bias" against any group based on race, religion, color, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, veteran status, age, or disability.

Now I'm against bigotry, but quite frankly, if I can't make a credible claim that any Joe or Jane off the street has demonstrated some sort of bias after getting to know them for ten minutes or less, I've got to conclude that either (a) I am brain dead or (b) Joe or Jane is brain dead.  So what the city fathers are doing is to insist that new employees and/or city council members be either (a) fantastic liars or (b) brain dead.

I don't know whether that's a prescription for upcoming disaster, or possibly just a late admission of what already had become the case in that fair city and too many others.  I'm leaning towards the latter.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Picture of problems with student loans

Today's edition of WorldNetDaily linked an article from the New York Times about a Puerto Rican immigrant who was duped into taking large amounts of student loans to become a hairdresser.  Now, given that there is a need for hairdressers, I'm not against student loans to become one if that in fact will tend to give someone a good paying job.  However, one thing in the article stuck out; Ms. Tejada was interviewed with a translator.

OK, so we're giving student loans to people who do not even know the main language of this country well enough to explain their loan situation to a reporter--a situation any banker with green eyeshades would tell you is not conducive to being able to repay student loans.  If we wonder why we have double-digit default rates for loans that cannot be discharged in bankruptcy, it's insanity like this.

Monday, July 29, 2013

A quote you can use

From here

Being well-dressed is a beautiful form of politeness.

Now of course, different people mean different things by this, but hopefully we can all agree on the principle.  If my outward appearance is (within reason) pleasant and unoffensive, and does not unduly distract others, that is a sign of good manners--and a needlessly unpleasant, distracting, or offensive outward appearance is in turn a sign of bad manners.

Weekend update

Had a wonderful anniverary weekend with my wife, but apparently the walk to the Hubble House reminded her of the "little stretch of the legs" (it starts at about 1:50) scene from John Wayne's The Quiet Man.  Thankfully for my brother-in-law, he isn't holding on to my wife's dowry, or if he is, good for him that he's on the other side of Lake Michigan from us.  :^)

New tires, new brake and derailleur cables, new handlebar tape, and a heaping helping of elbow grease (along with a blister or two) got a young'un from our church's youth group on a "brand new to him" Schwinn Varsity.  You might look down your nose on it, but his previous bike was a Wal-Mart bike with nonfunctioning brakes.  It's the third bike I've been able to bring back from the dump for these kids.

Speaking of which, pray for teens all over.  I'm of the opinion that views like this one expressed by dear sister Elspeth have more truth in them than I'd like; many churches have substituted ministry for souls, and it's brutally apparent in some of the kids I'm privileged to try to serve and love.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Global warming update

It's the end of July, and the temperature is just shy of 60, about 12 degrees below average for this time of year.  Thank you, global warming!

It's a good thing that 17 years ago today, I got someone to snuggle with for life.  Otherwise I just might be freezing.  Thanks Honey!

Friday, July 26, 2013

News you can use

Apparently, there are a number of hot sauces, especially from Mexico, which have levels of lead that exceed allowable limits.   Unfortunately, the article does not make clear why that might be--from the soil, from handling, whatever.  However, the article makes up for that with the hilarious comment that parents might want to be cautious when giving hot sauce products to their children.

Well, yes.  And for the parents who can't clue in on another possible reason that their children might not want to eat a lot of hot sauce, here's a safe product from the fine folks at Gerber.


The first time I found this, I put a copy on a colleague's door, knowing that his wife made award-winning salsa.  He tracked me down and let me know his wife also did daycare.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Listening to the wrong people

President Obama, in comments made to "young skulls full of mush" at Knox College in Galesburg IL, noted that the media tend to be very supportive of his proposals.    Now, apart from the media's well-known tendency towards the left, it seems to me that Mr. Obama has a huge problem; he is listening to the wrong people.

You see, journalists are trained, well, to write within the confines of standard practice (e.g. AP Style) and the law, and this takes about 25% to 35% of the available credit-hours.  Add 40 credit-hours of required courses, and another 40 credit-hours of whatever else the student desires, and they have their degree.....and thus go out into the world having no in-depth knowledge of any subject. 

With such a background, it's no surprise that they're liberal, but more importantly, if Obama is listening to journalists for his feedback, what it means is that he's hearing only the voices of the uneducated. 

In short, he's in a very, very dangerous position.  Hopefully he starts listening to the economics faculty of George Mason University soon, to put it mildly, before we're sunk. 

And, for that matter, maybe it's time to reconsider how journalists are being trained and selected, as ironically, the profession that reports on reality is one with the lowest understanding of reality out there.

Shameful

The Department of "Justice", apparently not content to ignore the Constitution's prohibition of double jeopardy and the recommendations of multiple law agencies in the case of George Zimmerman, and apparently not content to have ignored clear cases of voter intimidation by the "New Black Panthers" in Philadelphia, is proceeding to ignore the clear intent of the Supreme Court's decision invalidating large portions of the Voting Rights Act.  They are going to actually ask a federal court to require Texas to obtain DOJ approval in advance before changing voting procedures and regulations.

Um, isn't this exactly what the Supreme Court just ruled to be unconstitutional?   It would be nice if we could get an attorney general who actually followed the law.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Having a form of Godliness, and denying the power thereof

My friend Jim links to an interesting bit of guidance from a Baptist day school.  More or less, a church in the Twin Cities area is suggesting that all graduates of their day school need to go on to Bible college because it will be too dangerous for these "young skulls full of mush" to take a job or attend college elsewhere.

In a nutshell, what they're arguing is that 18 years of sermons, schooling, mandatory chapel, AWANA, youth group, summer camps, and the like is insufficient to prepare a young man or woman to face the challenges to their faith posed by their boss or professor.

In contrast, early Christians were known to the Roman pagans as those who would not give up their faith when confronted with the Roman philosophers, lions, and even being burned as a human torch.  In later days, the heroism of John Hus, William Tyndale, John Bunyan, and innumerable missionaries who were imprisoned or killed for their testimony is also well known.  Among the fruit of the spirit is endurance, no?

As baptistic and fundamental as I am, I've got to suggest that if a church truly believes that their members are incapable of confronting the world, they need to take a serious look at whether what they're preaching is really the Gospel, and whether the armor they're strapping on to young believers is really the armor of God.

And yes, I've got to say it; a lot of churches have a form of Godliness but deny its power.  From such stay away, even if they're quoting a lot of Scripture at you.

Angela Corey update

Apparently, in her response to a subpoena regarding a lawsuit filed by an employee terminated after revealing that Ms. Corey had failed to provide evidence to the defense team of George Zimmerman, she has failed to provide her former employee with evidence as well.

Looks like Ms. Corey has a habit of withholding evidence, and five will get you ten a few prisoners in Florida are going to have a chat with their lawyers.

Another great success for the NSA

Apparently having received a FOIA request to search employee emails about certain matters, the NSA has responded that they do not have the technology--this technology being something that most any good IT department at any private company can do--it's a critical part of defending a company from lawsuits.

So either the NSA has failed to implement basic systems for accountability (and heads should roll), or they are lying (and heads should roll), or they are completely incompetent at the art of managing a database (and heads should roll). 

No matter what the answer is, it's pretty clear that a number of people need to lose their jobs, and if we need phone records to track terrorists, we can simply use the system that Ma Bell has provided for free for a century, and save a few billion dollars per year in the bargain.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

A question I've been asking for a while

....is asked by columnist Mona Charen, who asks the obvious question; if women really like "hooking up" and "one night stands" (or is that too romantic in today's age?), why are they so consistently getting drunk or stoned before proceeding?

Along the same lines, a former colleague of mine who worked for a while in a strip club noted that the "performers" tended to use an awful lot of cocaine before going on stage. 

Yes, candy is dandy, and liquor is quicker, but I would hope that we would all agree, no matter what our political, religious, or other persuasion, that if sex requires intoxication, it isn't romance.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Update: Mayo Clinic Diet

I posted a while back to a quick review of the Mayo Clinic Diet, and figure that, having received an updated blood test (lipids and sugar), a few numbers ("In God we Trust, all others must bring data") might be in order.

Weight: down about 25 lbs.  (Mrs. Bubba is down about 10)
BMI: from 29.3 to 26 (not telling about Mrs. Bubba, but hers is way lower than mine)
Glucose: about the same
Triglycerides: down over 40%
HDLs: up 20%
LDLs: down slightly
Belt; down 2"
Cycling speed: up about 1mph to work
Knee and back pain; virtually eliminated

Non-numeric data:

Food budget; slightly up (more fish, vegetables, and fruits, less grains)
Taste: improved.  Substitute quality for quantity
Hunger: about an hour or so before each meal, there are hunger pangs
"Full" feeling after meals; I do not miss the over-full feeling I used to have after some meals.

Sustainability; this is not an Atkins or "cabbage soup" diet that you'll be glad it's done when you've lost the weight, and then you can move on to normal eating.  Rather, it's simply a better way of life that will reward your taste buds and your health for the long term.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

What's coming up for Social Security and Medicare?

Just look at what's going on in Detroit.  Apparently 19,000 retirees account for about ten billion dollars in unfunded liabilities, or about $500,000 per person.  If the bankruptcy goes through as planned, it appears that their pensioners will be getting about a dime on the dollar for their pensions.  Suffice it to say that not only Detroit, but also its suburbs and Florida, will be paying a price for this one.

Along the same lines, the actual national debt when calculated per GAAP standards is somewhere between fifty trillion dollars when Obamacare's ludicrous payment schedules for Medicare are used to about twice that when realistic payments would be made to doctors.  Yes, almost all of the debt is from entitlement programs.

Lessee....one hundred trillion dollars divided by the hundred million pensioners we'll have in a couple of decades actually makes Detroit's financial woes look pretty benign in comparison.  So if you're under 60, you just might do well to prepare for the upcoming collapse of Socialist Insecurity and Mediscare.  Plan on less than a dime per dollar you've "invested."

And yes, this indicates why you want to work for a company with "defined contribution" retirement plans like a 401k, or invest in your own IRAs, and not trust pension managers to contribute enough to fund your pensions.   

A conversation every dad should have with his sons

In the wake of the end of the trial (for now at least) of George Zimmerman, here's a conversation every dad, red, yellow, black, or white, or a mix of shades, ought to have with his sons:

Son, you're getting to the point where you are looking a lot like a man, and I want you to start acting like a man.  So listen up; this could save your life.

If you choose to assault someone for whatever reason, remember that about one in twenty adults have a permit to carry a concealed weapon, and that as soon as you're really "whoopin' ass", you might find out who one of them is in the worst possible way.

Your pride ain't worth your life, son. 

(and if the reader might think that your host thinks life might have been a lot better for a lot of people if Michael Jackson had been a little bit more plausible as a role model in "Beat it", the gentle reader would be correct)






Thursday, July 11, 2013

A time for everything, including being disbarred

No, not me, as I'm not a lawyer, but rather a prosecutor in the George Zimmerman (Trayvon Martin) trial who has claimed in his closing arguments that the main reason Mr. Martin is dead is because George Zimmerman is a "vigilante." 

Well, nice try, but having concealed his weapon until attacked, it seems to me that Zimmerman was doing a rather poor imitation of a rogue wannabe cop.  Are we to suggest that individuals do not have the right to approach another individual in public areas, then?   That the neighborhood watch is only legal until someone objects?

Quite frankly, I expect prosecutors to know and apply the law a bit better than this.  Hopefully the Nifong precedent is used here, and this becomes an object lesson in law school called "how not to make a closing argument."

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

A moment for repentance

It is interesting to read articles on how the Obama administration, despite Egypt's lapse from "democracy", is continuing military aid.  On one hand, that could be a good thing if the administration had realized that limited government is more important than exactly who is putting that government into place, and elected to support a republic.

Fat chance, of course.  That leads to another question; exactly why have we been providing billions of dollars each year in military aid each year since the 1980s when any invader would either be (a) Israel (which has never fought an unprovoked war) or (b) forced to cross either the Red Sea or hundreds of miles of desert?

I can understand some foreign aid, especially as a "thank you" to Anwar Sadat for his peace treaty with Israel, but quite frankly I'm having trouble understanding why we've been arming a country whose only plausible enemy of note is also one of our allies, while ignoring their very real need for economic development.  This is especially the case when I consider that poverty in Egypt might be the most likely driver for a renewed war with Israel.

Monday, July 08, 2013

Inadvertent lesson in logic

It looks like the problems for the prosecution in the Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman case go much deeper than flakiness on the part of the prosecution's witnesses.  In the linked article, John Lott points out that the prosecution is arguing two points which have no relevance in the case; whether Zimmerman was badly hurt, and whether Zimmerman understood Florida's "Stand your Ground" law.

The trick here is, as I've noted before, Zimmerman had little chance of outrunning a decent high school cornerback (which Martin was), and he'd just been thrown on his back by the same person.  Hence, Zimmerman had every expectation that Martin would inflict death or grievous bodily harm--and almost all states allow lethal self-defence in such a situation.  "Stand your ground" and the seriousness of Zimmerman's injuries have no relevance here.

Now granted, I'm not in the courtroom, but given the apparent collapse of prosecutor Angela Corey's case against Zimmerman on basic standards of evidence, it would seem extremely likely that Ms. Corey is soon going to find herself in the position of Mike Nifong.

And, quite frankly, if I'm understanding the case correctly, she should be treated exactly like Nifong.  Her wiki page discusses two other cases following the same pattern; dismissal of the past history of the victims and refusal to admit that the "perpetrators" did indeed have fear of death or grievous bodily harm.  It's a pattern that--again if I'm understanding the cases correctly--needs to be stopped.

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

College sports completely out of control?

News reports indicate that Aaron Hernandez, indicted for multiple murders in Boston, was also involved in an altercation in spring 2007 involving a fight at a bar--where interestingly Tim Tebow did his best to de-escalate the situation.  (and why was he in a bar at 1am?)

Now given that this was in April, when he was not yet a student, this more or less means he wasn't able to visit campus without committing at least two crimes--underage consumption of alcohol and assault, the latter being a felony.  If we want a picture of what's wrong with college football, it's a system where coaches look past clear crimes because they think a player can make All-American.  Urban Meyer was right on that score, but protecting Hernandez from the law in 2007 may just have cost several people their lives. 

About that doubling of student loan interest rates

Apparently, there is a hubbub about the great increase--a doubling--of student loan rates from about 3.5% to 6.8%, and it got me to thinking what the proper rate for a student loan would be.  Is it like a secured mortgage loan, where the default rate is 2% or less, or is it more akin to a semi-secured car loan, or is it really most akin to unsecured loans like those for credit cards?

Well, with unproven credit, no particular control on the part of the lender whether the borrower gets a marketable degree, only about a 50% graduation/success rate, and a default rate of 9.1% in 2010 (some schools have higher loan default rates than graduation rates), it would seem that apart from the fact that you can't discharge student loan debt in bankruptcy, the best analogy for student loans would be that of credit card debt.  Instead of complaining about the "exorbitant" rate, students should be thanking the Good Lord that they're not borrowing at market rates from a bank.  I'm thinking that rate would be about 12-15% today.

And, for that matter, anyone contemplating taking out a student loan will do well to figure out for himself whether he's got a real shot of graduating, and whether his degree is worthwhile or not.

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Just because you can,

.....doesn't mean it's a good idea is a great description for White House plans to generate electricity using soccer-balls.  No, I'm not making this up; there are evidently people who have concocted a soccer ball with a battery that kids can kick around all day, and at night they'll be able to light a lamp or charge a cell phone.

OK, so we're going to greatly increase the cost, and either we make it much heavier (and risk injuring people), or we make it lighter so it won't last a week, and whichever way we choose, it won't bounce like a real soccer ball, so the kids will go back to a real soccer ball as soon as they have the chance.

One would figure that the White House, having just visited Africa, might have been aware of the possibility of using that yellow ball in the sky to implement this 1960s technology with far less cost, but apparently not.  Nothing is too generous--or foolish--for those spending someone else's money and facing no particular criticism from a media that chose journalism because it didn't involve math, I guess.

Great moments in global warming theory.......

Pentamom has commented with an interesting link from NPR in which the economist more or less states that all that ails us in climatology can be alleviated by letting the economists make the decision, and that this decision would doubtless be to to phase in a carbon tax.

Now at the risk of "fisking" this, I've got to, well, do a little fisking.  Let's start by acknowledging that "all economists" would agree to a carbon tax is ludicrous, as many schools of thought have denounced exactly that in no uncertain terms.  Ten economists will have eleven different opinions on any given issue, after all.

Going further, sound economists (as opposed to Professor Jacoby) know that demand for fuels is notoriously inelastic with price; the only significant downturns in gasoline consumption are with recessions, not price, for example.  We stop using gasoline, electricity, and the like only when we lose our jobs, and trading in vehicles for efficiency is....really, pretty inefficient.

Moreover, one would also hope a reasonably intelligent economist might realize that getting politicians to give up power is, to put it gently, easier said than done, and one would hope as well that such an economist would realize that we have all kinds of government incentives for inefficiency that we might do well to address--hundreds of billions of dollars of corporate welfare, daycare subsidies, student loans and grants for students who have no real hope of graduating, and the like.  So it's not a one page solution, but rather something that would make the Health Insurance Deform Act look terse in comparison.

No such luck with NPR, and per the stereotype of journalists choosing journalism because no real learning is involved, nobody at NPR seems to have caught on.  It sounded really profound and scholarly, though, until you started thinking about reality.

This is called "corruption"

Apparently, the state of California is spending millions to indoctrinate teens to promote Obamacare while the White House is pressuring the NFL to do the same.   With all due respect, I've always felt that using government resources to justify a particular policy is called "corruption", and I'm pretty sure that neither the NFL players' union or the librarians' union would take it kindly if they were told they were going to give up their gold-plated benefits packages to get insurance via an Obamacare exchange.

And, quite frankly, I'll only believe they're in favor of the Health Insurance Deform Act if they do.

In other HIDA news, pharmacies are predictably running out birth control pills as individuals are no longer seeing the cost.  Not that the law of supply and demand matters any more to Obama than any other law, of course.

Thoughts on the George Zimmerman/Trayvon Martin case

It appears that while the witnesses for the prosecution are being caught in perjury, those for the defense are and have been rock solid.  Now I'll admit that I don't know all the ins and outs of being a prosecutor, that not being my trade, but part of me has to wonder whether the prosecutor here is trying to railroad Mr. Zimmerman despite knowing that there really is no case.  Shouldn't a prosecutor be able to ferret things like this out?

Friday, June 28, 2013

A court gets it.....

....that Hobby Lobby is, indeed, entitled to defend its practice of not funding insurance coverage of contraceptives without being subject to ruinous fines, and the judge even noted that it's akin to telling a kosher butcher to use non-kosher methods.  Americans United for Separation of Church and State argued, via Barry Lynn, that it was akin to imposing the employer's religious beliefs on the employees.

Well, yes, in the same way that my employers have always imposed on my religious sensibilities in what they provide in benefits, or in the same way that kosher butcher might deny me Saturday overtime or the right to that ham and cheese sandwich at lunch, I guess.  Lynn is showing the exquisite logical and moral sensibilities I've come to expect from those involved in the United Church of Christ.

Is the NSA actually accomplishing anything?

I am somewhat embarrassed to relate that I am only just now wondering whether the NSA collection of phone information--and this would include the Bush era collection of calls made to foreign phone numbers that (unlike the Obama program) has semi-plausible protection in the 4th Amendment--actually is of use in fighting terrorism.  Now the NSA is claiming "dozens" of plots have been detected using this method, but that's not the right question.  The question is whether plots are detected in a way that other methods would have missed.  So let's do a little thought experiment.

Here's the Obama (and Bush) method; find a suspected terrorist, get a warrant for his phone records, pull them from the NSA database.  If the numbers are interesting, go to Ma Bell with another warrant to identify the numbers called.

Now here's the method Ma Bell has offered since the beginning of phone service a century ago: find a suspected terrorist, get a warrant for his phone records, pull them from Ma Bell's (or Verizon's) database.  It will also have--unlike the NSA database--clear indication of who was called in most cases, and if my online payments are indicative, it's on the screen within a minute.

In short, it appears that the NSA and its handlers never once did a basic process flow map to realize that the system Ma Bell has offered for a century actually offers better tracking of terrorists than the system they're spending billions of dollars to create.   Fourth Amendment issue, yes, but an even bigger issue is that the NSA is apparently being run by people who don't know how to think.

Update: in related silliness, apparently Dodd-Frank authorized the collection of five million sets of spending records from credit agencies and others--information that has been readily available from lenders for "only" about fifty years.  Of course, we are promised that nobody would ever connect the information to the borrower through the use of birthdate and census block number. 

It's time to send a note to your Congressman and Senators and ask them to stop this stupidity.  It's an affront to the 4th Amendment, as well as a colossal waste of money.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Thoughts on Supreme Court rulings

....and yes, this would be the two rulings on the "Defense of Marriage Act" and the overturning of California's Proposition 8.  Both are going to be very quiet in the short run, but could have disastrous effects in the long run, as (a) we forget that family law is really about weaker vessels and (b) we confer a degree of respectability on behavior that many would have previously avoided. 

However, the biggest problem with the rejection of the appeal of the overturning of Proposition 8 is the means by which the court arrived at that decision; they decided that the people who had worked to pass Proposition 8 had no standing to defend it when public officials abdicated their duty to defend the law.

In other words, if an executive doesn't like a law, but can't get the legislature to work honestly to repeal it, he simply finds a group to sue for its repeal and refuses to defend it.   It's a concentration of power that King George III would have loved, and one that all freedom-loving people ought to abhor, no matter what their political views.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

A finalist for the Ig Noble prize?

Scientists at the University of Florida have apparently figured out how to extract phosphates from urine in minutes, apparently because the supply of phosphates will be depleted in a mere 345 years or so.  So if this gets traction, we're apparently going to be required to act like leftist protesters at a political convention and store gallons and gallons of the stuff, taking a chunk out of the hide of phosphorus miners in Florida and elsewhere, and all so we can continue our nation's insane policy of polluting the waterways of our nation and world so we can burn Snuffy Smith's corn likker in our cars and fatten ourselves like hogs, all the while reducing the availability of wonderful foods like Gulf shrimp.

Down in the bayou, our friend Pogo is telling us, once again,

We have met the enemy, and he is us.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

President Jeremy Bentham?

According to reports, the data collection apparatus to support the Health Insurance Deform Act is going to make the NSA snooping apparatus look like small potatoes in comparison. 

And don't worry, there will be strict rules preventing the abuse of this data, just like at the IRS and NSA.  Strict, strict rules.  I cannot imagine it ever being abused.  Never, ever, but within minutes of the database's creation, will this new Panoptikon be used.

H/T Say Anything

Thoughts......deep, or perhaps not so much....

Nearly fifty years after the passage of the Civil Rights Act, and 220 years since the Constitution went into effect, isn't it about time that we figured out how to make voting equitable, and not grist for Supreme Court action?  Seriously, how hard can it be to make polling places and registration rules, and equitably perform redistricting?

Oh, yes, Governor Gerry, I understand; that was never the point, was it?

In other news, apparently telling a bad knock-knock joke is grounds for a mistrial.  I can see Dershowitz's point, and I've got to wonder whether other defenders, notably that of Jodi Arias, were aiming for an "incompetent defense" mistrial as well.  (you let her on the stand exactly....why?)

In other George Zimmerman news, prosecutors who successfully squelched evidence related to Trayvon Martin's character are seeking to introduce more evidence related to George Zimmerman's.  Yes, adversarial system, I understand, but one would think basic fairness would realize "sauce for the goose".  For that matter, the opening statement by the prosecutor would seem to indicate he's going more for emotions than fact.  Looks like both prosecutor and defender are going for a mistrial, IMO.

Want to be a supermodel?  Apparently, you'd better develop a taste for cotton balls.  Mmmmmm........

Finally, President Obama has upheld a 2008 campaign threat promise by implementing regulations on coal-burning power plants--when there is no commercially available technology available to comply.  I am hoping that one of these days, the courts will remind politicians that while they get to legislate the laws of the land, they do not get to legislate the laws of physics, technology, or economics.

Our financial problems, summarized in two links

First, take a look at my friend Jim's first house

Second, ask yourself why we, today, find that 76% of American families are living paycheck to paycheck?   I'm guessing it might have something to do with the fact that getting a mortgage no longer requires any significant down payment, let alone the 20% or so Jim's folks were required to have.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Let's think some more on this obesity thing

Another look at the obesity levels known throughout the world raises a bunch of interesting questions. Now there are questions--like whether the higher BMIs of Polynesians might arise from naturally larger frames and such--but overall, we have a situation where Europeans in the U.S. are about twice as likely as Europeans in Europe to be obese--far greater variability than is seen state-to-state.  So what gives?

Is it culture?  Perhaps, but keep in mind that our foods and music styles are, by and large, developed from Europe's--and Europeans in Europe generally borrow a lot from U.S. culture to boot.  Genetics?  Well, each racial and ethnic group here is far more likely to be fat than in the "old country."  Wealth?  Tell that to European nations now enjoying a higher standard of living than we do here.  Plus, poor people are more likely to be obese.

The other factor that would influence all of us would be the way we have governed ourselves.  Could it be that as we subsidize foods best utilized for fattening livestock at the feedlot, provide nutritional guidance that completely ignores how most Americans eat, and require citizens to hide the costs of poor health choices with comprehensive medical insurance, we have created a perfect storm destroying our health?

Friday, June 21, 2013

About those infant mortality numbers

One of the consistent refrains from those who advocate nationalized/socialist healthcare is that the infant mortality rates in western Europe, and even Cuba, are lower than those in the United States.  It's real data--see this CDC report.

Now this doesn't mean Cuban healthcare is better--page 4 of the CDC report indicates that U.S. survival rates at given gestational ages are among the best in the world, after all. Let's also ignore the possibility that Cuban authorities are fudging the data.

Rather, let's ask how overwhelmingly poor Cuba, with a large black and mixed-race population (a risk factor for infant death) and a hospital system that manages to let patients freeze to death in the tropics, achives its decent 6.2/1000 infant mortality rate.

Look at that CDC report again; premature birth drives infant mortality, and here are the risk factors for premature birth: race, factors related to injuries, relationships, and....the consequences of obesity, heart disease, and diabetes.
Now if this is indicative, one can't prove that Cuban marriages are healthier than ours, or that women are suffering fewer injuries due to domestic violence and the like.  The data just aren't there.  However, if we look at the proportion of residents who are obese, we find that 33.9% of U.S. citizens are obese, versus only 11.8% of Cubans.

The same source notes that the obesity rates of all western European countries, as well as those of east Asia, are about half the U.S. rate--as is their rate of premature birth.  It suggests that the major reason for relatively low infant mortality rates in Cuba is not federalized health care, but rather poverty.

I'll pass.

Stuck (up) on stupid?

I just can't find the words--at least not printable ones--to describe President Obama's proposal of cutting the U.S. nuclear deterrent by a third just as North Korea and Iran are on the brink of becoming nuclear powers.  It is as if he didn't learn about Kellogg-Briand in school, and how millions died needlessly in a little conflict that started a decade later because the major powers of the world weren't able to deal with an Austrian corporal and a draft-dodging blacksmith' son until it was too late.

For that matter, it's as if our President doesn't remember that the collapse of the Warsaw Pact followed not Jimmy Carter's strategy of appeasement, but Reagan's policy of engagement.  He's truly stuck (up) on stupid.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Watch out if your kids aren't in the government's schools

Apparently, in statements made in Ireland, President Obama has spoken against Catholic and Protestant affiliated schools, like the one that his daughters go to, saying that they encourage division.  In short, he's parroting the "separate societies" mantra that the German government is using to ban homeschooling.

Now apart from the blatant hypocrisy of the President of sending his daughters to a school that obviously "causes division" in his own words, it's scary that a "former professor of Constitutional Law" would so clearly speak against the clear spirit of the First Amendment.

It is as if Mr. Soetoro's long-term friendships with people like Bill Ayers were indeed significant.  Don't say we didn't warn you.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Either perjury or a firing offense

Michelle Malkin's sources indicate that IRS staffers are arguing that the "Tea Party" designation they used for "enhanced interrogation techniques" can actually refer to liberal groups.  So either these staffers are too stupid to work for the government and should be fired, or they are lying to Congress and have committed perjury, and should be fired.

I'll be waiting for reports of their termination, then.

Monday, June 17, 2013

James Bond would be so proud!

......of the NSA, which apparently hired a high school dropout at a six figure salary without ever doing enough of a background check to figure out that the young man was a conspiracy theorist par excellence, and apparently doesn't put a hold on employee passports to prevent their unauthorized travel.  Also, he's apparently under the impression that he can be the world's most famous fugitive in Hong Kong without experiencing the surveillance of the Chinese government--so whatever his IQ, he's definitely not as smart as he thinks he is.

H/T Brian.  In other words, with their multi-billion dollar data center, they're trying to put the Four Horsemen in the backfield while apparently banning the Seven Mules from the fieldhouse and the training table--they're not attending well to basic "blocking and tackling" like background checks (did anyone check this guy's Facebook account?  Come on!) and control of travel for those with security clearances.

Blocking and tackling.  It's how the Bugeaters beat the Irish in 1922 and 1923, and it's the only way to get a handle on the problems in our goverment.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Thoughts on the NSA debacle

I've been reading a number of thoughts about the scandal involving the NSA downloading huge amounts of domestic email and phone records, and have a few thoughts.

First, by going to China with apparently a fair amount of data about the system, Mr. Snowden may have effectively shut it down.  Since China has got to be one of the key targets, and also interacts with other key targets, them being on to "us" may be game-ending.

Second, it appears that "technically" the practice may be legal, as earlier court decisions affirm the legality of recording addresses on envelopes and such, but in that day it wasn't practical to accumulate this kind of database.  Perhaps the relevant court decisions need to be reviewed in light of the fact that this "Panoptikon" may be, for the first time, practical.

Third, one big reason that we want to keep any government databases limited is exactly what Mitch refers to here.   It's a potent form of blackmail.

Finally, can it work?  I can see a lot of terrorism that could have been prevented or mitigated if we'd taken a better look at young, Muslim, male immigrants and visitors.  Young, Muslim, male Verizon customers?

Not so much.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Good news about government surveillance,

....but possibly bad news for a young woman out on a "vision quest."  Apparently a young woman walked out on a type of "vision quest" from a Washington state campground with, shall we say, little in terms of supplies, and her friends--unfamiliar with the duration of a typical "vision quest"?--have called in the authorities.

Now of course, it is my hope and prayer that on this quest, this young lady will find a true spiritual vision--that of Christ--and arrive home uninjured soon.  That said, I'm not sure that the authorities are going to be much help in finding her in case she does need help. 

Why?  Look at the article; they searched for her with 12 "4x4 teams" (and thus didn't get too far from the roads), and also are believing that she could only go about five miles in a day.  Now granted, barefoot is a disadvantage, but if someone has been going barefoot a while, 10-15 miles in a day is no biggie.   With shoes, 10-15 miles per day is typical for backpackers, hunters, or participants in the Pike's Peak Ascent.

In short, the authorities are going to be little help to her because they're probably not going far enough to get to where she is, but if one needs to get out of Dodge, it's nice to know that the government may be too lazy to find you.

A real help to the poor....

....would be if the government got out of the business of discouraging the historic nuclear family of husband, wife, and children, and Michael Reagan provides some of the stats to prove it.  70% of young criminals and high school dropouts come from the < 40% of young people who grow up without their father in the home, which means that even with today's stats--higher unwed parenting rates than when these kids were born--the children of unwed parents are about 3.5 times more likely to end up in jail or leave high school without a diploma.  Translated, this means a lot of these young people are basically unemployable.

So if we want to empty jails, slash welfare rolls, crush poverty, and the like, all we need to do is to reduce the disincentives to marriage that exist in the tax code, CAFE requirements, college loan and grant programs, welfare programs, and even the Health Insurance Deform Act (a.k.a. Obamacare). 

Now granted, a marriage license does not transform a lout into a gentleman, but it does tell him that he has some responsibilities that he'd better tend to.  There's a lot to be gained by ending our subsidies for unwed parenting.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The really scary thing about the NSA scandal

....as described here, is not simply that the NSA may be doing domestic spying in direct contradiction of the 2001 law that authorized data retention for contacts with foreign phone numbers and emails.  It is not merely that any mere citizen could find themselves in trouble with the law based on a rough inference from these records.

It is, rather, what Mr. Snowden noted about the possibility that the NSA could be bringing up emails of the President.  If indeed this is the case, then I would presume that any high official who would want to hold any government agency accountable could find himself (herself) being discreetly shown a message they sent that could get them in trouble.

In short, it's a system that, once properly abused, enables whoever controls the leashes to the NSA to become a shadow government with no one the wiser. 

Monday, June 10, 2013

Smelling a rat.....

....about this Reuters article about Rep. Elijah Cummings' comments about an unnamed IRS staffer who has apparently contradicted the sworn statements of other IRS staffers, not to mention boss Lois Lerner, by claiming that he's not only a conservative Republican, but also that the IRS probes of Tea Party organizations were orchestrated from Cincinnatti. 

Notice that nobody has checked out whether the person actually is registered Republican, or reviewed his political donations, both of which can be done without a warrant.  If this person fits the profile of other "conservative Republicans" who amazingly toe the party line for the Democrats, he's a Democrat, has been one for decades, and just perjured himself.  If Rep. Issa is smart, he'll be getting this information soon.

Really, even if all of the activity did originate at lower levels in Cincinnatti, there is still a scandal.  Specifically, why did anyone in the IRS ever think this was appropriate, and why didn't a bunch of those people get fired last year when the scandal started to come to light?

The laboratories of our Republic

....are starting to do what's right by taxing coal burning vehicles for environmental and road damage instead of giving them free access to HOV lanes.  Now if only the federal government can stop subsidizing these environmental debacles.....

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

It boggles the mind

Apparently, the University of Leipzig in Germany has decided that they will henceforth use the feminine form "Professorin" (roughly "professoress") instead of the masculine form "Professor" for all professors.  So the nation that gave us sometimes brutal efficiency is, at least in this city of Bach, apparently adding a useless suffix to this word with an explanation that, contrary to the usual use of the German language, "professoress" actually means "professor."

In related news, the music department of the Uni-Leipzig is adding kazoo obligatos to Bach's toccatas.  H/T Vox.   Like the "Professorin" move, it'll make things so much better and clearer, I'm sure.

Just read

.....this.  It is somehow uniquely appalling that in the state which has the privilege of a resident like Mr. Greenberg, core graduation requirements at their state universities are rapidly expelling great literature.

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Limits to efficiency of vehicles

Lost in the (rightful) debate over new fuel economy standards of over fifty miles per gallon--more than any mass produced vehicle currently in production save one version of the Toyota Prius--is the question of exactly how efficient a vehicle can be.

A basic rule of thumb is about 70% wind resistance and 30% rolling resistance for a typical 5 passenger vehicle with a drag coefficient of about .35, weight of about 2 tons, and mileage of about 25mpg.  This includes the mpg-e numbers for actual Carnot efficiency for electric vehicles, too. (shame on the EPA for their fraudulent "mpg-e" numbers, by the way)

Let's work the numbers.  You won't get far with streamlining without comfort or safety hazards, as anyone familiar with the rear headroom and visibility in the Prius or Tesla can attest.  Hence, your wind drag drops only from .7 to about .6.  Weight?  Aluminium has a scrap cost of over $1/lb.  Transmission and engine improvements?  Do you think that adding four speeds on every transmission comes free?

A $1000 budget (500 lbs aluminium to replace 1000 lbs steel, $500 for better transmission/turbocharger/etc) could get you to wind resistance of .6, rolling to .25, and a 10% increase in drivetrain effiency and....only 33mpg.  Our goal of 50mpg or more thus requires smaller and less capable cars, exotic materials (carbon fiber, etc..) and powertrains (hybrid, fuel cell). 

Will it help the environment?  Well, hybrids and such require about 8 tons of carbon dioxide emissions, equivalent to about 85 gallons per year.  Given 12000 miles per year on average, our hypothetical "Obama-mobile" gets a net mpg (including build costs) of only 37mpg, hardly better than our conventional vehicle of 33mpg.  Our average driver will spend $750 annually to save $140 in gas.  Typical government logic, but hardly a cost-benefit analysis that will induce me to buy a Prius.

We're at a point of diminishing returns.  Make sure you vote for people who, unlike our President and too many in Congress, understand this.

Yet another reason to homeschool

Apparently the new "Common Core" curriculum being developed by the Department of Education Propaganda involves the creation of Jeremy Bentham's Panoptikon on students.  Now do you trust a government that cannot be trusted to treat tax exempt organizations fairly to have this degree of knowledge about you and your children?

Me either.

Monday, June 03, 2013

Another great triumph of socialism

Apparently, toilet paper, diapers, and fruit juice are so scarce, they've turned into a coveted form of contraband in Venezuela, a nation benefiting from $100/barrel oil with some of the greatest pulpwood forests and opportunities for orchards in the world.  They can't afford diapers or fruit juice, but they can apparently bankroll another bankrupt state, Cuba.

Where, of course, you can either eat rice or cigars, I guess, but you'll be lucky to get much else.

Tying the noose a little tighter......

....is White House spokesman David Plouffe, who is responding to the sworn testimony of the IRS agents involved in the illegal screening of Tea Party groups (not to mention a bunch of others) by pointing to events in Issa's life for which he was exonerated prior to a trial being convened.

When your opponent responds to sworn evidence with unrelated personal attacks, that indicates he's either unwilling or unable to come up with substantive evidence.  It means his case is weak.  Again, it's time for an independent prosecutor to sort this out, as it's pretty obvious that the White House isn't going to.

Still at step one of the 8D

One of the privileges of doing quality assurance is the joy of providing effective corrective action on a quality problem.  When the problem gets bad enough, a full eight step "8D" form will be required, in which the QE (and his manager) must demonstrate that concrete steps have been taken to prevent the problem from recurring.  One of the key rules in this process is that it is assumed that the process, not the people, are primarily at fault.

Now apply this concept towards the various scandals plaguing the White House at this point.  Fingers have been pointed at junior staffers, but no concrete action has been taken--no retraining, no review of documents governing processes, no indictments in matters clearly criminal (IRS, BATFE, DOJ Black Panthers, etc..), and those staffers involved are not being demoted or fired, but rather promoted.

In other words, the lack of action by the White House in its scandals indicates that they really aren't interested in solving the problem, but rather in continuing to use a system that's worked out pretty well for them.  In the quality world, this is when the customer starts raising Hell.  We should, too.

Friday, May 31, 2013

It's the cover-up that will get you

Brian links to an interesting article theoretically refuting the claim that former IRS director Douglas Schulman had visited the White House 157 times, noting that White House records only show him being signed in 11 times,  and noting that Shulman's meeting invitations were predominantly for healthcare-related meetings.

Fair enough.  Now, if they were for healthcare related meetings, then that's very interesting in light of the fact the IRS director for Obamacare is the exact same person who was responsible for IRS targeting of Tea Party groups.  Remarkable coincidence, that.

It's also remarkable that the IRS's fairly simple role in Obamacare--implementing a form for reporting of insurance or paying a fine/tax--required 120 meetings.   All this fuss over Schedule INSurance and its implementation, and no review of  Ms. Ingram's work history, and whether it qualified her for the job?  Quite remarkable.

Now, let's go further.  When Mr. Shulman testified before Congress, he was asked about the apparent 118 times (the count then) he'd been at the White House, and he did not deny he'd been there an awful lot, and claimed it was for things like the Easter Egg Hunt, budget and tax issues. 

So did Shulman lie about his attendance and possibly the purpose of those meetings, or is the White House keeping a really bad visitors' record?  Either is a scandal, of course.  It's time for a special prosecutor.

Here's a shocker

More and more evidence is coming up that demonstrates that the Obama administration, like the Clinton administration before it, was using the IRS to persecute his personal enemies list, and this enemies list includes pro-life activists and conservatives not affiliated with the Tea Party movement.

And if you believe that, with 157 visits by the IRS commissioner to the White House, that someone working (and living) at the White House wasn't coordinating this, I've got a bridge I can sell to you cheap. 

Our President's full name; Barack Hussein Khalidi Wright Pfleger Ayers Jackson Daley Blagojevich Milhous Obama.  Also, Betsy Hart asks a very relevant question; since it was becoming clear in March 2012 that there was a suspicious pattern of audits of enemies of Barack Milhous Obama, why didn't the GOP make an issue of it last year?   The excuse could be either cowardice, or......is the government so corrupt, we can't even figure out where to start in cleaning it up?

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Yet more brilliance in government accounting; California "Obamacare" premiums

Much has been made of the apparent fact that California insurance exchange premiums are coming in well below predicted amounts.  Now given that the CBO was given pretty decent starting assumptions, and they're not a bunch of dummies, how indeed did the "real" rates come in at up to 29% lower than predicted?

It should be noted here that the cost structure of insurance is pretty well known, and accessible to most any actuary or other statistically trained person.  You have about 2% overall profit by insurance companies, between 10-20% overhead costs, and the rest goes to the care providers.  So how do you get to costs up to 29% below expectations?

Simple.  Each insurance company has a payment percentage.  If you look at your healthcare bills, you'll see the initial number, an insurance discount, and then the amount you and your insurer finally pay.  So to get to 29% less than the prediction, you simply assume that a certain portion of doctors will need to take a lot less for their services to keep working.

Now in the short term, that works, but in the long term, you get phenomena like the Mayo Clinic telling new associates not to accept Medicare patients.  In short, there is a cost structure in medicine, and you can't simply cut payments ad infinitum and expect that the supply curve will rise to meet the demand.

Translated, this means that a lot of Californians are likely to learn the hard way that having health insurance is not the same as having healthcare.

Update: it turns out that California's overall "reduction" in health insurance premiums actually turns out to be an increase of 64% to 146% when one compares the premiums for their plan with the actual peer group of insurance plans from the individual market instead of highly regulated corporate plans.

Once again, government accounting is not honest accounting.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Brilliance in government accounting, part....oh never mind

President Obama's proposed sale of the TVA--and hypothetical shedding of $25 billion in debt owned by the TVA--has run into a little hiccup.  Apparently, sources inside the TVA estimate its value at only $10-15 billion

Now given that TVA profits are only $700 million, and the agency faces $10 billion in pension liabilities, $25 billion in retooling expenses in the next decade, and already owns $25 billion in debt, I'm thinking a valuation of $10 billion is.....pretty darned generous, even allowing for the fact that TVA has a tremendous amount of capital (dams) that will last for decades.   If a deal goes through, I'd guess it would be more along the lines of "we'll assume the obligation of retooling these plants if the government assumes the pension liabilities, allows us to charge market rates for electricity, and assumes part of the debt."

Put gently, this is a classic example of how you can't undo 80 years of passing the buck with a single bill of sale.  Unfortunately, it's yet another case where the buck stops with the taxpayer.

Don't ask, and keep it very, very, very quiet

The Department of Defense reports that the majority of sexual assaults in the military were perpetrated by males upon males.  See page 9 of the linked report.   So parents will apparently do well not just to keep their daughters out of the armed forces, but also their sons.  Looks like the DOD and the Senate really need to start asking some questions that--to put it delicately--they've been avoiding asking.  It could be completely random post-adolescent juvenile behavior, but given that the military rate of sexual assault exceeds that of the civilian world, it's likely to be correlated to something else.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Let's think about these statistics.....

Vox links to a list of facts--I've not had the chance to double check them--that theoretically ought to frighten us about our economy.  A couple of them are interesting; that the "Forbes 400" list has a total wealth exceeding that of nearly the poorest half of Americans, and that the Wal-Mart heirs share wealth exceeding that of the bottom third of Americans.  Now let's run the numbers.

The numbers; bottom half of Americans have about $1.6 trillion in assets, and apparently the bottom 40% have about $90 billion in assets.  So the bottom 40% has about $750 in assets per capita, and the next 10% about $40,000 apiece.  Curses on the evil Wal-Mart, right?

Not so fast.  That "bottom 40%" includes student borrowers, who are by definition people (a) without assets and (b) with debt.  The total debt is $902 billion divided among 37 million recipients, about $25,000 per recipient. 

In short, student loan debt--the majority of which is owed by below-average wage earners--is the big driver in low net worth of the lower middle class and poor.  Maybe it's time to rein in a program whose participants have a 50% graduation rate and a 27% late payment rate.

And, quite frankly, maybe it's about time for government to recognize that "means testing" is a synonym for "incentive to remain poor."  There is no easy way out, but in the long run, our choice is between a painful way out, and a very, very painful way out.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

IRS: Pressing need for an ISO audit.

Hugh Hewitt is under the impression that what is needed to deal with the IRS abuse scandal (which now apparently includes a 90% audit rate for adoptive parents) is an independent prosecutor.  Now, while that may be a good idea--despite the low success rate of such prosecutors due to stonewalling--what might work better is to unleash a few experienced ISO auditors on the IRS and give them authority to issue findings and require corrections.

How could this work?  Well, an ISO auditor generally starts at the shipping dock and tracks a shipment back to its component parts through the full process.  He talks to each process owner and asks them two simple questions:

What did you do?  and
Can you show me the documents that tell you how to do your job?

In general, minor findings are when a person ignores published procedures, and major findings exist either when those procedures do not exist, or when management circumvents the published procedures. 

In this case, I'd expect that a good ISO auditor would figure out that the relevant documents are unused due to access, complexity, and corporate culture within an hour.  It could literally be orders of magnitude faster than an independent prosecutor.

Why the Bard dropped out of college?

This source suggests that many colleges are dropping Shakespeare in part not just because the Bard makes today's writers look like blog-writing hacks in their pajamas, but also because of the sexual references in his writing.

This is, of course, bizaare in a college culture where "hooking up" has replaced dating or courtship, you'd think, but think again.  A few might be offended at the content, but perhaps a more coherent explanation is that the passion of Juliet makes today's hookup culture look like the pathetic excuse for love that it is, and those "unfortunate" enough to read the classics might start asking for "more of that."

About that 99 score

Advocates of coal-burning vehicles are understandably abuzz about a recent Consumer Reports review of the Model S which gave that model a rating of 99 out of 100 possible points.  Now, given what I've presented about this vehicle, you would be correct to assume that your host would give the vehicle a score closer to 10 than 100 on a scale of 100.  So what gives?

What gives is that the automotive writers are placing the Tesla in its own niche where adverse comparisons to competitive vehicles--its extremely low range, tight rear seats and poor rear visibility, and nasty environmental effects--simply do not matter.  It's not about how the vehicle really stacks up--poorly even in terms of performance--versus other sedans priced at $70,000 and above, but rather about how the writers react to bright shiny things.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Just how dirty is a Tesla?

Well, let's run the numbers.  The standard Tesla sedan has a battery capacity of 60kW-H and a stated range of 208 miles, and it gets that power from the electric network.  The usual owner will plug it in at night, and hence the power will come from those power sources that are hard to power down and backup, but where fuel is a significant cost.

Translation: coal, as nuclear plants are providing the base load at night already, the wind dies down at night, and natural gas and hydroelectric power can be cycled more easily than coal fired boilers.  So let's calculate how much coal is burned to fuel a Tesla.

To get 60kW-H, we divide that amount by the energy content of coal (6.7 kW-H/kg) and the average efficiency of coal fired power plants of 31% to find that charging one's Tesla sedan fully requires the burning of about 29kG of coal, which will release about 90kG of carbon dioxide, or about a pound of carbon dioxide per mile driven.  The Nissan Leaf and Tesla Roadster, also using about .3-.4 kW-H per mile, will have similar numbers.

For comparison's sake, this is about the same amount of carbon dioxide as would be emitted by most half ton pickups these days.  And my "favorite" vehicle, the Chevy Subsidy Volt?  Well, 16kW-H to go about 30 miles on average is the equivalent of about 29 ounces of carbon dioxide emitted per mile, or about the same as a one ton pickup towing a fairly significant trailer.

Would it improve much if power generation moved more to natural gas?  Well, with 55MJ/kg vs. coals 35MJ/kg, and a different hydrogen/carbon mix, you could get to about 9 ounces of carbon dioxide per mile for the Leaf or Tesla (a bit more than the Jetta TDI today), and about 15 ounces of carbon dioxide per mile for the Volt, about the same as my minivan or the Model T Ford, which got about 18mpg.

In short, the best an electric car can do is what compact cars have been doing since the 1940s--the Volt matching only the Model T--as (AHEM) any decent engineer familiar with the Carnot cycle could have told you.

Instead of subsidizing these boondoggles, maybe we should assess a road damage tax of $2000 or so to cover the gas taxes they're not going to be paying, as well as an environmental damage tax to mitigate the damage from all the coal they're burning.