After decades of federal subsidies—almost $24 billion according to a recent estimate by former U.S. Sen. Phil Gramm—nowhere in the United States, or anywhere else, has an array of wind turbines replaced a single conventional power plant. Nowhere.And the left wants the same government that brought us this debacle to run our health care. It's easy to predict (but very sad) that at some point, our Obamacare bureaucrats will most likely spend billions on something most of us would immediately recognize as snake oil. Homeopathic “medicine” is a good candidate...
Sunday, June 30, 2013
A Florida senior citizen drove his brand new Corvette convertible out of the dealership. Taking off down the road, he pushed it to 80 mph, Enjoying the wind blowing through what little hair he had left. "Amazing," he thought as he flew down I-95, pushing the pedal even more.
Looking in his rear view mirror, he saw a Florida State Trooper, blue lights flashing and siren blaring. He floored it to 100 mph, then 110, Then 120. Suddenly he thought, "What am I doing? I'm too old for this!" And pulled over to await the trooper's arrival.
Pulling in behind him, the trooper got out of his vehicle and walked up to the Corvette. He looked at his watch, then said, "Sir, my shift ends in 30 minutes. Today is Friday. If you can give me a new reason for speeding -- a reason I've never before heard -- I'll let you go."
The old gentleman paused then said: "Three years ago, my wife ran off with a Florida State Trooper. I thought you were bringing her back.
"Have a good day, Sir," replied the trooper.
The owner of a golf course in Georgia was confused about paying an invoice, so he decided to ask his secretary for some mathematical help.
He called her into his office and said, "Y'all graduated from the University of Georgia and I need some help. If I wuz to give yew $20,000, minus 14%, how much would you take off?"
The secretary thought a moment, and then replied, "Everthang but my earrings."
A senior citizen in Louisiana was overheard saying ... "When the end of the world comes, I hope to be in Louisiana ." When asked why, he replied, "I'd rather be in Louisiana 'cause everythang happens in Louisiana 20 years later than in the rest of the world."
The young man from Mississippi came running into the store and said to his buddy, "Bubba, somebody just stole your pickup truck from the parking lot!"
Bubba replied, "Did y'all see who it was?"
The young man answered, "I couldn't tell, but I got the license number."
A man in South Carolina had a flat tire, pulled off on the side of the road, and proceeded to put a bouquet of flowers in front of the car and one behind it. Then he got back in the car to wait. A passerby studied the scene as he drove by, and was so curious he turned around and went back. He asked the fellow what the problem was.
The man replied, "I got a flat tahr."
The passerby asked, "But what's with the flowers?"
The man responded, "When you break down they tell you to put flares in the front and flares in the back. I never did understand it neither."
A Tennessee State trooper pulled over a pickup on I-65. The trooper asked, "Got any ID?"
The driver replied, "Bout whut?"
The Sheriff pulled up next to the guy unloading garbage out of his pick-up into the ditch. The Sheriff asked, "Why are you dumping garbage in the ditch? Don't you see that sign right over your head."
"Yep," he replied. "That's why I'm dumpin' it here, 'cause it says: 'Fine For Dumping Garbage.' "
Y'all kin say whut y'all want 'about the South,
But y'all never heard o' nobody retirin' an' movin' North.
According to legend, when the great historian Robert Conquest was asked if he wanted to rename the updated edition of The Great Terror, his history of the Stalinist purges, he replied, “How about, I Told You So, You F***ing Fools.”Read the whole thing...
And that’s what I’m saying now to every single lazy journalist and policy wonk, professional sycophant, diplomat and idiot pundit who’s never so much as visited this place, the duly-funded social scientists and craven Western politicians and everyone else who for years swallowed Erdoğan’s nonsense and helped to manufacture the fantasy that Turkey was getting more and more democratic by the day.
Only months ago, not an hour went by without some dimwit churning out an article about the economic and the reformist wonders of the AKP and its newly-emerged Anatolian middle class, the magnificent result of the AKP’s mix of moderately-Islamist daddy-state, fiscal discipline and free-market economic policies. One of the best performers of its kind in the world, a model for every Arab who felt like springing, the blossoming of Turkey’s open society, proof that Islam and democracy can mix just fine. Now, I have no idea if Islam and democracy can mix just fine. Maybe they can, maybe they can’t. But I can tell you one thing for sure: authoritarianism and democracy can’t mix just fine. And this was just obvious, blindingly obvious, years ago.
I have no idea what will come next, now that things that have been overwhelmingly apparent for the past decade are finally getting attention and coverage in English. But this I do know: There are real people here. They are not pawns to be moved about on a geopolitical chess board. They are not subjects for fashionable tales told by people climbing up the greasy pole of their careers in the West. They could use some honesty from the rest of the world, because they’re sure not going to get it from their government or their media and they know it. So if you had any part in creating this situation, whether by cheering the rise of this authoritarian government or promoting the fantasy of Turkey’s advanced democracy and this nonsense about it being a model Muslim nation, go look at those photos of the kids with no eyes. Then get down on your knees and ask God to forgive you—because those kids, they’re not going to.
Saturday, June 29, 2013
That's not the same as saying that they have fully functional quantum computer, ready to rock and roll (and solve all those pesky traveling salesman problems)...
Friday, June 28, 2013
We think of the rocks that form the sea bed and continents as hard, solid, stable things. In fact they are not – over geological time scales, the rocks move, sometimes a lot. I got a first-hand look at this on the Baltic islands of Estonia, especially Saremaa and Hiumaa. These islands are rising out of the sea, growing a little higher and bigger each year. If you lived there, you'd probably thing that meant the sea level was declining – that's what it looks like to you, standing on “solid” ground. But in fact, the limestone that makes up those islands is slowing rising – and in this case, geologists know exactly why. During the last Ice Age, an enormous mass of ice on the land pressed it down, displacing magma deep under the crust. After the Ice Age ended (and the ice all melted), that weight was lifted – and the land is slowly resuming its natural level. Geologists estimate that for the next 100,000 to 400,000 years, the land will continue to slowly rise. And residents will probably still think the sea is receding :)
Thursday, June 27, 2013
Now that the Supreme Court has broadened the definition of marriage to include gay couples, by what logic would they defend a limit to just 2 people? Polygamy supporters are overjoyed by the two decisions this week, with good reason.
I fully expect to see not only legal polygamy in the U.S. within my lifetime, but also legalized inter-species marriages. Why not marry your dog, horse, or goat? Where in the Constitution can you construe something preventing that?
I'm not the only one wondering these things...
But it looks like I may be banned from entering the U.K...
And IMSAI was selling a complete system with a miniature “Winchester” hard disk for just $6,000. Cheap!
There's one problem with this story: there's no way that old Marine said “crap”!
Personnel Manager: "What is your greatest weakness ?"
Old Marine: "Honesty"
Personnel Manager: "I don't think honesty is a weakness !"
Old Marine: "I don't give a crap what you think"
I've hired a few ex-Marines, and the interviews I had with some of them rank as both the most interesting and most entertaining I've ever had. This reads as entirely plausible to me :)
The Air Force discovered this simple solution. All they had to do was put teal-colored robes on their students, and like magic the problem disappears. They're sure of it.
Via former Air Force member, reader, friend, former colleague, and Idaho real estate mogul Doug S., who comments: “Stop the world, I want to get off!”
As a former Navy enlisted man, I have a lot of trouble wrapping my brain around these changes, and also the idea of women serving on ships. Now don't get me wrong, I'd have loved having women on the ship I served on – what I'm having trouble imagining is the women handling it. The average age of the sailors on the USS Long Beach, in the '70s when I served on it, must have been around 24 or 25 – and all male, of course. These young, testosterone-drenched men wandered about the ocean with no contact with women for up to months at a time (the USS Long Beach was nuclear-powered, and the brass loved to show off how long we could stay at sea).
The ship was chock-a-block full of pornography; anything from lingerie photos to hard core 8mm movies (no streaming Internet video back then :). Then when we finally did pull into a port somewhere – anywhere – the local version of “sailor town” was waiting for us. On the surface, the sailor towns consisted of two things: sources of alcohol (in whatever form you preferred) and sources of sex (in whatever form you preferred). Dig a little deeper, and you'd find sources of drugs (anything at all) and other illicit, er, entertainments.
I once served on “hard hat” Shore Patrol (the Navy's military police) in Olongapo, Philippines for six months; it was just such a sailor town, perhaps the largest in the world at the time (this was during the Vietnam War, and Olongapo was just outside the gates of the Subic Bay Navy base, one of the largest bases in the world). I can tell you from personal experience and observation that the vast majority of the thousands of sailors who visited Olongapo every night – officers and enlisted – had just two objectives for their visit: to get plastered and to get laid, not necessarily in that order. And Olongapo was there with hundreds of bars and thousands of willing girls to help them meet those objectives – and to separate them from as many of those lovely U.S. dollars as they could.
So I wonder...
Has human nature somehow fundamentally changed since I was in my 20s, in the '70s? Have young men evolved into some new, higher order of being, in which the desire for sex is not so...urgent? What happens when one of the new “co-ed” ships hits port in a place like, say, Hong Kong? Where once legions of rental girls lined up to hawk their attributes to the sailors, what's there now? Soda and ice cream trucks? Or are there rental boys for the female sailors?
Inquiring minds want to know :)
Wednesday, June 26, 2013
Weird personal note: my father was a nurseryman and horticulturalist for many years. In the '50s and '60s, he specialized in American Holly, and patented several varieties (as did his father before him). One of his patented varieties was named “Farage”. I have no idea why my dad chose that particular name, which at the time didn't appear in any English dictionary.
Update: my mom tells me that Farage was not one of my dad's varieties, but instead is attributed to Miss Elizabeth White (doesn't that sound very old fashioned now, saying “Miss”?), from the Pine Barrens of New Jersey...
The outstanding Middle Eastern journalist Michael Totten visited there, so we don't have to...
The Geography of a Woman
Between 18 and 22, a woman is like Africa. Half discovered, half wild, fertile and naturally Beautiful!
Between 23 and 30, a woman is like Europe. Well developed and open to trade, especially for someone of real value.
Between 31 and 35, a woman is like Spain, very hot, relaxed and convinced of her own beauty.
Between 36 and 40, a woman is like Greece, gently aging but still a warm and desirable place to visit.
Between 41 and 50, a woman is like Great Britain, with a glorious and all conquering past.
Between 51 and 60, a woman is like Israel, has been through war, doesn't make the same mistakes twice, takes care of business.
Between 61 and 70, a woman is like Canada, self-preserving, but open to meeting new people.
After 70, she becomes Tibet, wildly beautiful, with a mysterious past and the wisdom of the ages. An adventurous spirit and a thirst for spiritual knowledge.
The Geography of a Man
Between 1 and 80, a man is like Iran: ruled by a pair of nuts.
Tuesday, June 25, 2013
The jack is easy to understand, and works anywhere. Basically, you use the jack to lift whatever wheel is stuck, and fill in underneath it with dirt, gravel, or rocks – whatever is handy. You can also use a hi-lift jack for other things, including (if properly rigged) as a short-throw winch. But “lift and fill” under a free-spinning wheel is the most common use.
The winch probably looks about as easy at first blush (and of course, much less actual work, since it's powered by electricity). And in truth, it is easy, with one very large caveat: that there is a tree or other good anchor point within reach of your winch (in our case, we have 100' of winch rope and 200' of extension rope). In some areas, that's not a problem at all – if you're offroading in Maine, there's probably always a nice big tree within 25' of you. Out west, though, things are often quite different – you may be in the desert (with no trees), in the high desert (with only small trees), or above timberline (with no trees). What do you attach your winch rope to in areas like that?
The traditional approach is to dig a hole 4' to 6' deep, dismount your spare tire, attach your winch rope to the spare tire, and bury it. That works, but it's a lot of work – especially in the hard-scrabble soils full of rocks that are very common in the West. Our yard is a great example. It's made of soil that is primarily decomposed granite. In the summertime, it's hard as the proverbial rock – you quite literally have to use a jackhammer to get more than a foot or so deep. I'd really hate to have to bury my spare tire in my yard in the summer!
I don't know the history of the Pull Pal, so I'm not sure who to thank for this clever invention. I do know that it works, because yesterday I tested ours out, in our yard (which is hard as a rock right now). With almost no work at all, I was able to winch our FJ up a 15% dirt slope with all four tires locked. I can't measure the force required to move it like that, but I suspect it's around 4,000 pounds. My winch's anchor point was the Pull Pal, which I just set on top of the soil and pulled it in. Bottom line: it worked flawlessly, and with far less physical effort than I expected.
Here are a few photos I took during the test:
Monday, June 24, 2013
Now, redistribution is already, prima facie, one of the absolute best things a government can do.The term “redistribution”, here, means “take money from some people, and give it to others”.
That sentence is not being taken out of context – go read the article if you doubt me.
This is a very baldly stated version of a central tenet of Progressivism (and many other flavors of socialism): that the state should take money from some people, and give that money to others.
It's bad enough to know that a significant fraction of our body politic believes that stealing from the wealthy and handing that money over to the less wealthy is a justifiable – and even good – thing to do. Note that this “redistribution” really isn't from the rich to the poor, as many Progressives would style it. Not unless you consider people making $75k a year to be rich, and anyone making less than $40k a year to be poor – because, roughly speaking, that's how our current redistribution system (primarily income taxes and earned income tax credits) is set up. But to call such as system one of the “absolute best” things that government can do...now that's scary.
Reading things like that causes me to hear those drums again. Those drums of doom...
The middle-aged couple had finally learned how to send and receive texts on their cell phones. The wife, being a romantic at heart, decided one day that she'd send her husband a text while she was out of the house having coffee with a friend.
If you are sleeping, send me your dreams.
If you are laughing, send me your smile.
If you are eating, send me a bite.
If you are drinking, send me a sip.
If you are crying, send me your tears.
I love you.
The husband, being a no-nonsense sort of guy, texted back:
I'm on the toilet. Please advise.
(Brings a tear to the eye, doesn't it?)
Yes, I'm fine :) Debbie and I were on a stake-out – trying to trap a mother cat and six kittens (about six weeks old) living underneath the old barracks at the former Naval Training Center, down near the San Diego Airport. Debbie goes there frequently for dog agility meets, and one of her friends told her about the family of feral cats there. She organized a trapper from the Feral Cat Coalition, and our vet (the wonderful Dr. Christine Wilson) agreed to find homes for them (she does this sort of thing all the time) if we could get them. The trapper caught the mother cat on Friday, then Debbie and I manned the traps late Friday night and all day Saturday and Sunday. We caught three of the kittens; three are still left. Debbie will be down there again today to try and catch the remaining three...
We have our share of bad drivers here in the U.S.; I see them every time I drive somewhere. But I've been to some places where the drivers are far worse; Russia, Costa Rica, Thailand, and the Phillipines are amongst those places. There's a reckless disregard for life and limb in those places that is amazingly pervasive – so much so that you'd think evolution would take care of this problem within a generation or so...
Friday, June 21, 2013
Thursday, June 20, 2013
Wednesday, June 19, 2013
That's the key question: How much of what the United States is currently doing is an act of war by international definitions? Already we're accusing China of penetrating our systems in order to map "military capabilities that could be exploited during a crisis." What PPD-20 and Snowden describe is much worse, and certainly China, and other countries, are doing the same.
All of this mapping of vulnerabilities and keeping them secret for offensive use makes the Internet less secure, and these pre-targeted, ready-to-unleash cyberweapons are destabalizing forces on international relationships. Rooting around other countries' networks, analyzing vulnerabilities, creating back doors, and leaving logic bombs could easily be construed as an act of war. And all it takes is one over-achieving national leader for this all to tumble into actual war.
It's time to stop the madness. Yes, our military needs to invest in cyberwar capabilities, but we also need international rules of cyberwar, more transparency from our own government on what we are and are not doing, international cooperation between governments and viable cyberweapons treaties. Yes, these are difficult. Yes, it's a long slow process. Yes, there won't be international consensus, certainly not in the beginning. But even with all of those problems, it's a better path to go down than the one we're on now.
I'd never heard of Elbert Guillory before. He's a state senator from Louisiana. As I watched this video, I felt like jumping up and cheering – and finding the address where I can send this man a donation.
Oh, more like this, please!!!
Oh, ok, here's another:
- The federal government has long had a “Lifeline” program that provides free phone service to poor people. This program is paid for by a charge on your phone bill.
- The program originally provided free land lines, but was recently extended to provide free mobile phones (the notorious “ObamaPhone” that was the subject of a viral YouTube video last year).
- Mobile phone retailers make money by giving away these free mobile phones. They're supposed to follow federal guidelines about who gets the phones, but there's no enforcement and the financial incentive is for them to give more away, not fewer.
- People approach the phone retailers, tell them that they're going to resell (“flip”) the phone to raise money for drugs, shoes, whatever, and the retailers still give them the phones.
A business, operating with profit motive, would never behave in such a stupid and inefficient way with our tax dollars. Only the government has that capacity.
Something for you to think about... When you think of the tax dollars that you pay to both the federal government and the state government, what percentage of that do you think is utterly wasted (like above)?
For the federal government, I'm guessing around 50% or 60%. For the state (California), I'm thinking more like 70% or 80%...
Tocqueville would not recognize America today. Indeed, so completely has associational life collapsed, and so enormously has the state grown, that he would be forced to conclude that, at some point between 1833 and 2013, France must have conquered the United States.Later in the piece, he has one of my favorite Tocqueville quotes, and a great conclusion:
Tocqueville also foresaw exactly how this regulatory state would suffocate the spirit of free enterprise: "It rarely forces one to act, but it constantly opposes itself to one's acting; it does not destroy, it prevents things from being born; it does not tyrannize, it hinders, compromises, enervates, extinguishes, dazes, and finally reduces [the] nation to being nothing more than a herd of timid and industrious animals of which the government is the shepherd."Do go read the whole thing...
If that makes you bleat with frustration, there's still hope.
I haven't read Ferguson's new book yet, but I will be reading it soon...
Tuesday, June 18, 2013
This morning we took Mo'i along on our walk. He's 14 – not far behind Lea – but still going strong. He can easily make the 3 mile round trip walk with us...but by the time we get home, he's visibly dragging a bit. It's easy to see how much he enjoys these walks. This morning he was actually pulling me out the front gate, something he rarely does (he's always “lunking” alongside us as we walk, not straining at the leash like Miki or Race).
At left are the seeds of the mountain mahogany (a Cercocarpus, but which one I'm not certain). Most of the year this is a scruffy looking chaparral shrub, notable mainly because the deer love to eat its leaves. But for a few weeks in late spring, its hairy, fuzzy seeds put on a beautiful show, especially when back-lit. This morning, as we looked to the east with the sun just over the horizon, we could see thousands of these mountain mahogany shrubs lit up in the valley below us and on the surrounding hillsides.
At right is the scarlet larkspur (Delphinium cardinale), a chaparral native that is particularly beautiful this year (we presume because of the early rains). I counted 24 plants in bloom along a 1.5 mile stretch of road (they love road cuts and the edges of open, rocky areas), easily double the density I've ever seen before.
It was a very pleasant walk.
This will likely have an impact in other areas as well, including magnetic disk storage (“hard disks”) and magnetic tape storage. It isn't clear to me that this discovery will also result in an areal density improvement, something the storage industry is always looking for...
COPPER COATED MICROCHIP IMPLANT ALLOWS TERRORISTS TO SPEAK TO GOD
The implant is specifically designed to be injected in the forehead.
When properly installed, it will instantly allow the terrorist to speak to God.
It comes in various sizes: Generally from .223 to .50 cal.
The exact size of the implant will be selected by a well-trained and highly skilled technician, who will also make the injection.
No Anesthetic is required.
The implant is likely to be painless. Side effects, like headaches, nausea, aches or pains are extremely temporary.
Some bleeding or swelling may occur at the injection site. In most cases, you won't even notice it.
Please enjoy the security we provide for you.
I got to wondering where the term “jarhead” orginated. There seems to be quite a bit of uncertainty about this. I found these origins in different places:
- Former U.S. Marine headwear (hats) looked a bit like jars.
- The same company that manufactured Mason jars used to manufacture U.S. Marine headwear.
- The stiff leather encircling the neck, which used to be part of the U.S. Marine uniform (and is the source of the term “leatherneck” made the Marines hold their heads stiffly erect, like jars.
- The standard U.S. Marine “buzzcut” haircut makes the Marines' heads look like jars.
- It's a metaphor for the U.S. Marines' heads: hard on the outside, empty on the inside.
U.S., Taliban to Hold Afghan Peace Talks in DohaDoha is in Qatar.
What instantly flashed to mind were the peace talks with Vietnam, which really were our negotiated withdrawal after losing the war there. Shortly after our withdrawal there was completed, the state we propped up (South Vietnam) was completely overrun by the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army, and South Vietnam disappeared.
I sure hope that's not a portent for the future of Afghanistan...
Schneier also points to this post at Rubbing Alcoholic, wherein the NSA may have been caught using an unusual definition of the term “to collect”. In its ordinary meaning, the way you and I might use it, if we say that “phone calls are being collected”, we'd mean that the calls were being recorded somewhere. But the NSA appears to be using that term to mean something else altogether: to them, to collect a phone call means to listen to the call that had already been recorded (but not, according to them, collected).
That's a semantic construction worthy of Bill Clinton.
One of the commenters on the Rubbing Alcoholic post summed it up nicely:
God dammit, AmericaExactly.
Monday, June 17, 2013
But it gets even better. Over the weekend I stripped all the masking tape from the panels that need both orange and grey deck coating. I had a minor masking tape disaster - the glue from the masking tape stuck in big gobs to the wood. I didn't want to chance trying a solvent, so I did it mechanically: I sanded with 220 grit to get rid of the glue. I went through about 10 sheets of sandpaper real fast, as the masking tape glue quickly gummed up each new sheet. But I got it all off!
Then I re-masked – with new rolls of masking tape! – to do the rubberized deck coating, a light grey in color. The masking was easy enough. Next came a two-part resin-based primer. Once I mixed this, I had 90 minutes to work – and they weren't kidding! About 100 minutes after I started (and finished, thankfully) painting, the remaining paint in the can turned hard as a rock. The primer was kind of weird. It had the viscosity of water, very thin stuff. It went on as a beautiful bright white – but within 5 minutes of application, it turned water clear. Weird stuff! Once that was on, I roughly sanded it (per directions) with 60 grit sandpaper, then cleaned it off.
Finally I was ready for the rubberized deck coating. This stuff I got from Cabela's, and it's a water-based paint that dries rubbery, and contains “crumbs” of rubber to add to the effect. It's water-proof, oil-proof, dirt-proof – perfect for the surface of a platform that will hold two rowdy dogs. This stuff was really odd to paint. First, it was quite thick, like blue cheese salad dressing. Second, the rubber crumbs kept sinking in the can, so I had to mix it every few minutes. The first coat went on very thick, maybe a tenth inch (that's a lot for paint!). It dried kind of like mud dries sometimes, with cracks between solid sections that averaged maybe 1/2" in diameter. But I'd read about this online and wasn't worried; the second coat would fill in those cracks. And indeed it did, as you can see in the photos below. As I write this, I've just finished putting on the second coat, and the coating is looking very nice indeed.
So the platform's interior is done. Well, the complicated stuff, anyway. And the paint will be dry tomorrow morning. That means it's time to assemble the final pieces of the platform. It sure took a long time to get to this point...
The photo dump:
|With the wiring complete, it's time to install the (200 amp!) fuse so I can test the inverter, air compressor, and refrigerator outlet...|
|Looking almost straight down at the rear of the port side of the platform, showing the air compressor and (blue arrow) the air outlet port and (purple arrow) air compressor switch.|
|First time I've ever used a socket wrench to install a fuse!|
|Parts with two coats of rubberized deck coating on, baking in the sun...|
|A close-up of one of the rubberized parts; you can see the rough texture of this stuff, perfect for providing doggie traction...|
|The Wagan 2KW inverter, installed on the starboard side of the platform...|
|Four outlets right behind the center console. These are all GFI'd...|
|Back side of the inverter. You can just make out the two 0 gauge DC wires connecting into it (dead center in the photo). At left is the back of the refrigerator's DC outlet...|
Under the Affordable Care Act, premium subsidies—tax credits in ObamaCare designed to defray the cost of purchasing health insurance—will go to some seven million tax filers and flow to households earning as much as $94,000 a year. The credits are both advanceable and refundable, meaning the IRS will pay them first and verify the claims for them later, what some call "pay and chase."This speaks to something that puzzles me deeply about advocates of big government (i.e., Progressives and Liberals). Anyone who experiences the joys of “service” at the DMV, or at the U.S. Post Office surely must at least have doubts about the efficiency and efficacy of government-run enterprises. Anyone who has ever been in the U.S. military can regale you with endless tales of waste and mismanagement. I was once part of a large working party on a Navy ship that had the job of taking a brand-new, never-used spare computer and throwing it over the side of the ship in a deep part of the Pacific. Why would we do such a stupid thing? Because the budgetary rules determined next year's funding level by this year's spending. One way to spend a bunch of money: throw an expensive (roughly $300k) computer over the side! That's your government bureaucracy at work.
Refundable tax credits are essentially a form of spending through the tax code, something the IRS has struggled to administer for years with other programs. That's why it's not far-fetched to say that these premium credits will go to a lot of people inappropriately, and that we can expect to see a lot of erroneous and fraudulent payments.
Look at the Earned Income Tax Credit. Whether you like this refundable credit or not, the Treasury Department's inspector general for tax administration reported in April that improper payments account for 21% to 25% of total EITC payments in 2012. Take the percentage of improper EITC payments and apply it to the approximate $1 trillion we'll spend on ObamaCare premium credits in the decade beginning 2014. The math shows that we could see between $210 billion and $250 billion distributed to those who shouldn't get it—because the IRS has no system in place to verify reported household income.
Put all the potential fraud and improper payments with these credits on top of the already soaring budget for the premium subsidies and we're headed for a disaster.
I think the solution is more radical than what Senator Hatch proposes, though: the entire income tax system should be rethought from scratch, with an emphasis on simplicity and transparency. Little Estonia is an inspiring example with its flat tax...
In Mexico, the problem of rat candidacy is arguably even worse than in the U.S., and the people there are consequently perhaps even more frustrated than we are. Sergio Chamorro, of Mexico City, had an inspired solution: he's running Morris, his cat, as the anti-rat candidate. And his solution has in turn inspired others in Mexico to put up their own pets and farm animals as candidates.
Think about it. Which sounds better to you? A Congress populated by the likes of Pelosi, Reid, Graham, McCain, and Feinstein – or by Fido and Fluffy? I know which makes me feel safer!
The Declaration of Independence vested all sovereign power in the people alone, while the Constitution established a government to manage that power in a republican fashion. While the people still swear fealty to the founding ideals, they have not put much thought recently into the problems the Founders tackled. As society has become more complex, the government has, too; Americans have not reexamined the structure of government, in an age in which it accounts for more than 20 percent of the national economy, to ensure it still reflects the republican spirit. In fact, there has not been a serious public discussion about the organization of the bureaucracy since the 1880s, even as it has doubled in size many times over. And so today, it is a vast enterprise of millions of workers, with precious little oversight from the people’s elected representatives.Read the whole thing...
Sunday, June 16, 2013
But my memory is still working well, and today I'm remembering some of the many trips he and I took together. Our destination was always some beautiful part of the U.S.: Mt. Lassen National Park, the Big Sur coastline, the San Juan Mountains of Colorado, Hawai'i, etc. Searching for interesting and beautiful plants and wildflowers was always part of the plan. Those trips, usually a week or two long, were nonstop father/son talkathons. Subjects ranged all over the map, but the ones that I found most interesting were recollections of his WWII experiences, the history of our family, and his perceptions of how the world worked (very different than mine!).
I cherish those trips, and I am oh so grateful that I was able to find the time and money to take them while he still could. Through them, I was able to spend many weeks of quality time with my dad while we were both adults, even though we live over 2,000 miles apart. I've made many bad choices in my life, but the choice to make those trips wasn't one of them...
I know you can't read this, dad, nor would it make sense to you even if you could. But “Happy Father's Day!” anyway. Your son is thinking of you today...
He got into an argument with a teacher who didn't like the shirt, was charged with obstructing the education process and obstructing an officer, was arrested and suspended. That's bad enough, especially when you find out that the officer doesn't even allege that any threats were made.
But now it gets even worse: Jared is facing prosecution, with the possibility of a $500 fine and a year in jail.
This is just plain crazy. A kid wears a perfectly legal, non-obscene T-shirt to school – and he could end up in jail? What the hell is happening to my country?!?! Jared should be celebrated for his willingness to stand up for his beliefs – a quintessentially American behavior – not persecuted.
Suddenly, I hear drums in the distance. The drums of doom...
Bozo LeviathanExcellent, Mr. Steyn. Just...excellent.
THE LESSER OF SEVERAL EXCREMENTSPerfect.
The AP reports that Hasan Rowhani has declared the winner of Iran’s presidential vote. Rowhani reportedly gained 50.7 percent of the vote, thereby avoiding a run-off.
AP describes Rowhani as a “moderate cleric.” But I prefer the description provided by an Iranian friend of my wife. She calls Rowhani “shit, power two” (i.e. squared) as opposed to his opponents who are shit, power three or four.
This Friday's bombshell: the NSA admits that it can listen to phone calls of U.S. citizens without a warrant. Furthermore, it's easy to arrange: any authorized NSA agent (of which there are thousands) simply decides he or she wants to listen to a call, and they do it. That's it.
Somewhere, George Orwell is smirking...
To: doesn’t_matter@you’ll_read_this_regardless_of_the_address.comI hope the Zombie doesn't mind the copy - no excerpt made any sense.
Constitution Allah Ackbar Tea Party bomb abortion patriot gun IRS Islam dog whistle Obama prayer tax surveillance.
There. Now that I’ve gotten your attention, can we have a chat?
If you have any pull with the American Psychiatric Association, could you please recommend to them that the psychological state formerly known as “paranoia” should be no longer defined as a mental illness? Asylums all across the country are filled with people whose only neurosis is the vague feeling that they are being spied on or followed by unseen powerful enemies. But now we know that everyone is being spied on every time they pick up the phone, buy something, use the Internet, or walk around in public — so it turns out that these “paranoid” patients aren’t delusional after all. It seems rather unfair to lock us them up and classify us them as crazy if our vague feelings of being stalked by the government turned out to be true.
To make sure you get this message, may I also say 9/11 Eric Holder birth certificate Bill Ayers drone Orwell Anonymous leak.
And in conclusion, just in case your algorithm has gotten overloaded, I’d like to not mention my private, personal opinions about the Second Amendment, Fourth Amendment, and Ninth Amendment (and you really don’t want to know what I think about the Sixteenth Amendment). For more information, please read the Fifth Amendment.
PS — Tell the IRS that the best times for for my upcoming audit are Tuesdays and Thursdays, but unannounced visits from the EPA, FBI, OSHA or ATF would be more convenient on Monday afternoons or Wednesday mornings. And, needless to say, you can eavesdrop any ol’ time.
Saturday, June 15, 2013
And our “Desert Museum” palo verde tree just keeps getting better. There are more flowers on it now than we've ever seen before, and the yellow carpet of fallen blossoms below it keeps getting thicker. The tree swarms with honey bees, bumble bees, and hummingbirds. Awesome!
Andy Puzder, the man who revived Carl's Jr., explains why he's not expanding in California and how the Affordable Care Act is hurting employment. Expect to order with an iPad.You should definitely read the whole thing...
For this reason the current crisis of trust in tech cannot be dispelled without resort to a political solution, just as the question of trusting the USAF with nukes cannot be severed from the question of whether those in charge of the Air Force daily dream of nuking America or not. The Administration is part of the problem. Though they pretend it is not, the quality of their character is relevant. In fact, the doubts over that quality are the central element in this crisis of trust. It spreading the contagion of mistrust into the system. The vector of doubt doesn’t go from Tech to the Administration. It goes from the Administration to Tech.Read the whole thing; it's excellent.
I detect a little self-interest in this advice :)
Due to the current financial situation caused by the slowdown in the economy, Congress has decided to implement a scheme to put workers of 50 years of age and above on early, mandatory retirement, thus creating jobs and reducing unemployment.They turned off the light at the end of the tunnel? Oh, noz!
This scheme will be known as RAPE (Retire Aged People Early).
Persons selected to be RAPED can apply to Congress to be considered for the SHAFT program (Special Help After Forced Termination).
Persons who have been RAPED and SHAFTED will be reviewed under the SCREW program (System Covering Retired-Early Workers).
A person may be RAPED once, SHAFTED twice and SCREWED as many times as Congress deems appropriate.
Persons who have been RAPED could get AIDS (Additional Income for Dependents & Spouse) or HERPES (Half Earnings for Retired Personnel Early Severance).
Obviously persons who have AIDS or HERPES will not be SHAFTED or SCREWED any further by Congress.
Persons who are not RAPED and are staying on will receive as much SHIT (Special High Intensity Training) as possible.Congress has always prided themselves on the amount of SHIT they give our citizens.
Should you feel that you do not receive enough SHIT, please bring this to the attention of your Congressman, who has been trained to give you all the SHIT you can handle.
The Committee for Economic Value of Individual Lives (E.V.I.L.)
PS - Due to recent budget cuts and the rising cost of electricity, gas and oil, as well as current market conditions, the Light at the End of the Tunnel has been turned off.
There's a lot of information on this map! First, the orange blob is the latest officially reported fire perimeter. This information is usually a day or two old, sometimes (especially on smaller fires) even more. Then there's the triangle icon – click on that and you'll get basic information about the fire, and sometimes links to more information. In the upper right you can see little fire symbols – these are “hits” from low-resolution fire-detecting satellites (using infrared scanners). That information is generally only a few hours old at most. This lets us infer that this fire is burning toward the northeast. Finally, there's topographic information and roads – letting you see what sort of country is being burned through.
All of this information was available previously, but not all in one place like this. Wonderful job, WunderMap!
To see this fire information yourself, got to the link above and then click on the layer control. Scroll down through the list of layers and you'll see the control for for fire information (off by default, which is why I never realized it was there!):
There's one more thing worth paying attention to – the little “settings” gear to the right of “Active Fires”:
(f) A pupil shall be permitted to participate in sex-segregated school programs and activities, including athletic teams and competitions, and use facilities consistent with his or her gender identity, irrespective of the gender listed on the pupil’s records.So...a high school boy who claims identification as female must be allowed to join a girl's sports team, must be allowed to use the girl's locker room, and must be allowed to use the girl's restrooms.
What could possibly go wrong with that?
Doom. Doom. Doom. The sounds of the drums beat ever closer...