Friday, January 29, 2010

Missing the real significance

WorldNetDaily has a few pieces on how Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has evidently been running up a pretty hefty tab for food and liquor on her trans-continental flights that she apparently takes about weekly. It's interesting to me that JudicialWatch is apparently not clueing in on the real significance; $100,000 for food and drink, or even a few million for these flights, is chump change in terms of the federal treasury, and do we really worry about costs like this for keeping our elected officials safe? I don't, even as much as I disagree with Pelosi's stands on most issues.

However, $100,000 over the past two years for food and drink for these flights (and other amenities, whatever they may be) is far more than the Speaker and her staffers can reasonably consume--it's about $500 per five hour flight at a minimum, and the supplies are evidently being purchased in ordinary retail stores. We are not talking about carry-out from restaurants charging $100/plate.

The inescapable conclusion, in my opinion, is that Speaker Pelosi is inviting more than a few friends to ride with her, and hence I must wonder whether these friends are repaying the government for the flight and what access these friends are getting to Speaker Pelosi. Therein could lie a very real scandal. Is she trading access to this 757 for political donations or favorable coverage in the media, perchance?

I don't get it

Watching the sad spectacle of Toyota stopping production and sales of 8 popular models due to problems with the gas pedal and floor mats, I have to wonder how they managed to screw them up. After all, people have been putting floor mats in vehicles with gas pedals for over a century now, and Toyota has "only" 60 years worth of experience with these particular components--30 years with gas pedals for fuel injected engines as well. One would think that the difficulties inherent in making this particular component would be ironed out by now.

I don't know exactly what happened, but the engineer in me suspects it might have had something to do with product managers who would sell their own mothers on EBay for a nickel reduction in the bill of materials cost.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Not thinking through the consequences...

I've seen some things on President Obama's plan to nationalize student loans, and it really makes me thankful that he doesn't often flesh out his proposals. In a nutshell, he proposes to:

1. Eliminate bankers from the student loan process--likely consequences here.

2. Limit repayment to 10% of income, discouraging graduates from entering fields with good pay.

3. Forgive loans after a period of time, no matter what the balance, discouraging graduates from seeking good-paying jobs in order to get out of debt.

4. Forgive loans for anyone working for the government, discouraging graduates from producing useful goods and services in the private sector.

As if we need more human leeches with graduate degrees in gender and ethnic studies working for the EEOC. Yeesh.

Review of TOTUS' SOTU speech

Of course, I didn't actually listen to it, as I'm not enough of a masochist to subject myself to Dear Leader's rantings, but I think this is about right.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Comedy gold

Would you have paid to watch as the good doctor opened the letter asking whether the writer's flatulence was solely responsbible for global warming?

(bets on which of the grumpy old men wrote in after his family told him exactly that?)

More reasons.... keep your children out of the government's schools, courtesy of Paul Greenberg. If you want a technically skilled child who speaks fluent gibberish, the government schools are for you. However, if you desire a child who knows how to think and express ideas clearly, you may desire to pursue other options.

Engineering criteria for recycling

From an engineering perspective, here's some questions to ask about before you recycle something;

1. Does it grow on trees or in fields? If "yes", it had better be fairly expensive before one recycles it. (say pieces of a walnut table)

2. Is it a hazardous material?

3. Does it require far less effort to recycle it than it does to make it in the first place?

4. Are the recycled products similar in quality to products made from new materials?

If the answer to #1 is yes, or the answers to 2, 3, and 4 are no, then the question of whether to recycle it or not is primarily an economic issue, not an engineering one. Hence my family is ending all recycling of paper and plastic products until someone convinces me that it makes economic sense. If sometime in the future, someone figures out how to make good plastic products from recycled stock, they will be able to mine dumps to get their raw materials provided by my family.

Until then, it's a highly stable system of carbon sequestration. Everybody wins.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Reconsidering recycling

Check out this post from Don Boudreaux (not the Saints fan, I believe) on recycling, and how most of us already recycle the things it makes sense to re-use. When I was forced by government to take recycling services, I faithfully used the "one size fits all" comingled recycling bin. Now that I need to drive about ten miles to the recycling center and clutter up my garage to collect enough plastic, paper, cans and bottles to make the trip worthwhile....

....well wait a cotton-pickin' minute here. It looks like my newspapers and milk jugs are going into the garbage from now on, as the environmental cost for me to go to the recycling center probably exceeds the benefit by a wide margin, and the raw materials for newspapers literally do grow on trees.

Update/correction:as Dr. Boudreaux's kind note below indicates, he is a big Saints fan. I remain persuaded that he's not a good ole boy in Hell, and I've also got a hunch he's not directly linked with the intergluteal ointment for use on infants also bearing his name.

Making more friends and influencing people....

.....are the atheists who apparently attacked (verbally, thankfully) Fred Reed when he dared to suggest that there were some difficulties with the evolutionary hypothesis of abiogenesis. He--agnostic or marginal person of faith as far as I can tell--was treated pretty much as if he were representing Answers in Genesis.

Also in the "it has to be seen to be believed" is this bit from Michelle Malkin on the new "Mayan Math." What's not clearly spelled out, sad to say, is whether the kids are required to remember anything past 2012, and whether human sacrifice (presumably of kids abducted from social studies class next door) is part of the curriculum. Is it simply another justification for a massive building program and higher property taxes to build a pyramid temple at public schools?

Whatever the reality, it seems to be yet another reason to homeschool. One doesn't need to be an ethnomathematician (is there such a thing? Apparently yes!) to realize that maybe, just maybe, there is a reason that this civilization isn't around anymore, and take a hint.

How not to make friends and influence people

If you're the Freedom from Religion Foundation, why not protest a stamp honoring Mother Theresa? No, it's not a joke; they're really trying to make the claim that no religious figure is worth honoring on a postage stamp--taken to the logical extreme, no one whose shadow has ever darkened the door of a church would be eligible for such honors.

It's as if they've been taking PR lessons from the silicone-injected airheads at PETA. If these militant atheists are trying to demonstrate that a certain lack of logic and morality proceeds from a lack of faith--at least their version of militant atheism--they're doing a great job.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Maybe some history profs could help Tom Izzo...

....who is apparently perplexed about why many alumni aren't exactly thrilled about my alma mater's plan to adopt a logo inspired by the actual ancient Greeks.

Well, maybe if he wiki'd the actual history of ancient Sparta--moments of military glory punctuating dismal centuries of slavery, eugenics, pederasty, and a general lack of learning--he might learn why a university might do better than to emulate the actual Spartans too closely.

And a joke; if you have three MSU football players in a car, who's driving?

Answer; the police, of course.

Blessed relief for Boudreaux

Boudreaux was a good ole boy down in the Bajou of Loo-siana, and when he passed on, well, Old Scratch got a hold of him and was bound to do his worst. First he turned up Hell to "medium high" and asked Boudreaux how he was doing. Boudreaux answered "jes like the Bajou on a cloudy June day." Well, Scratch got mad at that and turned it up to "extra high", and asked Boudreaux how he liked that. "It's like Nawlins on the fourth of July," answered Boudreaux happily.

At this, the devil was furious and turned Hell to "stone cold"--even the steam stopped as the lake of fire froze solid. When the devil turned around to see how Boudreaux liked it, he saw that good ole boy dancing and shouting

The Saints are in the Super Bowl! The Saints are in the Super Bowl!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

This guy taught Constitutional law?

Evidently, Dear Leader is promising a "forceful bipartisan response" in Congress to a Supreme Court decision overturning large parts of the McCain-Lenin-Feingold Campaign Finance Deform law. It would appear that his Ivy League legal training ignored this obscure case.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Now this is interesting

Those who think one diet fits all should pay a bit of attention to this case, where an extremely high fat diet seems to be ending epileptic siezures in about half of those who try it. Reality is that a diet suited for me may not be suited for you--we call can suffer from the same maladies, but there seems to be a layer of complexity in nutrition not well defined by the food pyramid the USDA is selling.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Here's a colossally bad idea....

President Obama and the Democrats are apparently trying to push through a bill that would nationalize student loans and push the private sector out entirely. No kidding.

It's a horrible idea for a lot of reasons, starting with the fact that it would place the government in the awkward position of being the sole arbiter of whose course of study is valid or not--or abdicating that role and paying for anyone's school. Either way, it's ripe for abuse, and the government's history as a creditor (Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, FDIC, etc..) recently does not give confidence that they'd be able to do things well--never mind that they'd have to borrow money that the Chinese do not appear willing to lend in order to do so.

It also drives tuition inflation (generally about twice the overall rate), keeps poor students in college instead of learning a trade, and finally creates a professorial class of professional liars.

Yes, professional liars; most areas issue Ph.D.s on the basis that the student has documented a bit of truth previously unknown to man, but in many areas, there is only so much truth to go around. So when the pace of collegiate research exceeds the pace at which real discoveries are made, the aspiring professor has only one route; make stuff up, or prove the obvious and persuade an accomodating committee to grant a Mickey Mouse Ph.D. For a demonstration of this principle, visit the Department of Gender and Ethnic Studies, or "groundbreaking" research like "people with anal fissure shouldn't eat lots of hot peppers".

Again, if you want students in college who actually belong there, and professors worthy of that name, you've got to end remedial classes and end government subsidies for student loans. Until students need to convince a banker that they're a good credit risk, they're simply not going to, by and large, take seriously what they're about to undertake--and the country will suffer in many ways for it.

Garrison Keillor's Bourbon-For-Mouthwash Piece

....came out today, and it is a hoot. From talk about reliable newspapers (Keillor writes for the notoriously biased Red Star-Tribune) to claims that Harry Reid is some sort of senior statesman in the Senate, interspersed with ridiculous ideas like a diamond-tipped golden colonoscopy tool for Rush Limbaugh(ouch!), Keillor's latest is undeniable proof that when a liberal writes about political opponents denying reality, it's the liberal who is denying reality.

And, of course, with the bourbon for mouthwash Keillor was apparently using when writing this piece, a few cups of coffee might be just the thing he needs. And a few aspirin, and a big glass of water.

Addendum: here's another "what was he smoking" column that suggests that Obama's first year was a string of uninterrupted successes.

Pop the popcorn....

....this one will be fun to watch. In a year where a large portion of the electorate is mad as anything about out of control spending in DC, and in a district that leans strongly Republican and is fairly conservative, Ms. Shelley Madore is pledging to campaign (like 2008 sacrificial lamb Steve Sarvi) on a platform endorsing pork barrel spending and earmarks.

Come to think of it, I might have to bring a "Costco"-sized bag of pork rinds to one of her campaign appearances if she gets the CP-MN (oops, DFL) endorsement.

The bullet we may have dodged

....with the election of Mr. Brown in Taxachusetts may be immense. How immense?

Glad you asked. This morning, I woke up to (yikes!) hear Senator Franken BRAGGING that the health insurance deform bill he's working to pass would require that payouts from health insurers be at least 85% of revenue.

That may sound good on the surface, but reality is that this will push marginal insurers out of the market (supply curve goes down) while eliminating low payment/revenue insurance plans--I'd guess the first ones to go will be high deductible plans popular among those who have figured out that they can save a bundle if they take care of their own health.

In other words, "you can keep the insurance you have" is not a promise supported by the bill currently under consideration, and if the goal is to reduce the size of the medical tsunami that's due to hit with baby boomers starting to retire, the 85% rule is exactly the OPPOSITE of what you want to do--especially if the bill also cuts hundreds of billions of dollars from Medicare funding.

Little things like this are exactly why the Democrats haven't exactly been keen on discussing the particulars of this bill, to put it mildly.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

A confession

When I saw articles noting that President Obama was going to Mass. this past week, my first thought was "well, it's about time he found a church!"

And though I'm not Catholic, I will admit that Catholicism is a big step up from TUCC. Bummer, though, that he was going to Massachusetts, not church. Hopefully someone will be able to reach him with the truth before it's too late for him.

Now what message are they trying to send?

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is rightly infamous for its publicity stunts involving scantily (un)clad "models" and animals being abused. Now I'm not quite sure what the message they're trying to convey is, but it sure seems like they're working hard to get the viewers of their stunts to associate sexual excitement with the torture of animals.

Not a good thing if one values either the well-being of animals OR the rightful joys of the marriage bed. Now exactly what are they trying to accomplish, again?

Monday, January 18, 2010

Now that's more like it!

The Pioneer Press reports on the heroic efforts of a Midwestern man who has a real idea how to control invasive species.

Now while I'm sure that breading and frying will work well, and I'll try it if I get the chance, I'm thinking that blackening might do well, too. Or maybe a turcarpenbaconignuanaducken?

Say, KD, any good Polish recipes for carp?

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Spiritual advice spurned....

In Sunday school this morning, my pastor noted that if we're concerned about the things we see on TV, we might do well to write a letter to the TV networks expressing our concern.

Well, yes, but to get started, I'd have to get that digital converter box and an antenna, connect them, and actually turn the idiot box on, wouldn't I? :^)

While I'm not one of those who think that television is inherently evil, perhaps I am in an even more selective club; those who see a bit of what's there and ask "why bother?"

Friday, January 15, 2010

Ezekiel 18:20 really the only proper response to Pat Robertson's asinine claim that Haiti's troubles today are due to a deal with the devil two centuries ago. We die for our own sins, of which we have plenty, sad to say.

Robertson really needs to spend a little more time in the Scriptures and a little less time playing false prophet, methinks, especially as the proper Biblical penalty for false prophecy is death--one would presume an eternal death.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Looking for a good labor Lawyer....

....are a number of employees of the Kahleefornia DMV, who are evidently being forced to work for free one day a week, management thinking apparently that because there aren't many jobs there, people will put up with it. (of course, the idea that people might not work very hard for free isn't occurring to them for some reason....)

Hint to any DMV executive who might be reading this humble site; a major lawsuit is about the best thing that can happen when you pull an insanely stupid stunt like this. Hopefully DMV employees find an "underground railroad" out of one of our nation's most idiotic, unethical employers.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Postmodern Philosophy Explained

Apparently, a fairly aggressive reporter for the Weekly Standard was pushed down (assaulted) by an Obama appointee and then hounded by him for the "crime" of following a Massachusetts senatorial candidatess and asking her questions she really didn't want to answer.

Democratic response; claim it's a Republican dirty trick, that it was staged, and more despite pretty incontrovertible photographic evidence. And there you have postmodernism in a nutshell; no matter what actually happened, postmodernists think you can "message" the truth by winning the PR war.

A word for single people, and married people who want to stay that way

Check out Terry's post on how a woman of color--or any woman for that matter --might hope to attain and maintain marriage. It's not rocket science, and it needs to be said. The "Cliff's Notes" version of her post for those who won't follow a link; femininity, chastity, modesty, attitude, and competence in a kitchen will go a long way towards getting a man on his knees and keeping him happy at home thereafter.

For those readers not made from a rib, I'd suggest that modesty, chastity, masculinity, and basic familiarity with the tools needed to maintain a household might go a long way to finding and marrying someone who is made from a rib. It might even be a good idea to learn to cook, too.

Want to keep your child from porn?

According to M. Scott Foster at ClearNote Fellowship, the battle is joined as early as the toddler years when a child desires dessert before eating his meal. Now this may seem counter-intuitive, but look closely and follow his logic; if a child never learns delayed gratification, he is an easy target for anyone whose business involves the appeal to instant gratification.

When one thinks of it, this has everything to do with not only pornography, but also overeating, any substance abuse, a lack of diligence at work--really any "bad habit" we know today.

Now of course, we need to be careful lest we believe that insisting little Rachel eat her brussels sprouts (or her daddy eat his) before getting ice cream will be a means of grace, but certainly we can use the opportunity afforded as a reminder to come to, and cling to, Christ--and thus avail ourselves of the other-worldly self-control spoken of in Galatians 5.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

A phrase the White House needs to learn

Bill of Attainder. Evidently, the President is seeking to put special provisions of the tax code to "recoup" TARP (oops, "TRAP") funds from banks who are not doing his will, specifically to make more risky loans (didn't that get us into the trouble we're in today?), pay executives less, and pay back TARP funds more quickly.

Now we'll leave aside for the moment the fact that most banks were forced to take TARP money in the first place, and the very last person you'd want making hiring decisions at the executive level is a guy who can't figure out Schedule SE. Leave aside the fact that a rushed repayment and/or risky loans almost guarantees a deepening financial crisis. The big issue here is that a man who has graduated from law school, passed the bar, and even lectured in constitutional law apparently cannot figure out that when a law singles a group out for penalties, it is expressly banned by the Constitution.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Why gossip is so big in DC

Take a look at the listing of staff for First Lady Obama courtesy of the Northern Muckraker. Now apart from the issue that Mrs. Obama has roughly doubled the number of staff, there is the question of "exactly what does a First Lady do for which she needs a staff of dozens of people?"

Someone to handle a bit of travel and scheduling? Sure. Share someone to do makeup and such with the rest of the White House? Absolutely. But Hillary Clinton's 13 staffers, or Laura Bush's dozen or so, or Michelle Obama's 26?

Reality is that when the actual demands of her position are accounted for, Mrs. Obama's staff is not a working "staff" but is really more akin to a the servants accumulated by wealthy people of the past simply because they could--simply a status symbol, more or less.

This has everything to do with the gossipy mood in Washington as well--just as the chief place for gossip in any mansion is the quarters of servants with little or nothing to do, I'd have to suspect that the slew of articles from "anonymous sources" has a lot to do with overpaid, underworked "public servants" in offices like Mrs. Obama's.

Maybe it's time for many public servants to read up on the story of Cincinnatus.

Want a reason to clean out Junior's toy box?

Check this one out. Apparently, not satisfied with putting lead and melamine in children's toys and food, some enterprising people in China are putting cadmium into children's toys. I'm guessing the next one will be plutonium, arsenic, or perhaps even cyanide. What kind of thinking does that?

Friday, January 08, 2010

How to keep your child out of trouble

Buy them a gun, of course. The results of a survey in Rochester, New York indicates that 9th and 10th graders whose parents had legally purchased a firearm for their use were less likely to commit crimes or use drugs.

OK, so it really means that parental involvement is a good thing, but I just couldn't resist. Get to know your children and....of them a gun!

Proper care for a frozen iguana

Apparently, it's getting so cold in Florida that the ignuanas released by owners can't take it, and thus a local news outlet has released a video of how to handle a frozen iguana.

Now of course I'm a big environmentalist, and I realize the danger nonnative fauna pose to the environment. Hence, I've got a slightly different set of procedures for dealing with frozen iguanas. Here are two recommendations;

1. Grab by the tail and throw to the nearest alligator, bobcat, or cougar not stunned by the cold.
2. Kill, gut, skin, and cook. I would anticipate that if you use the dry rub and sauces from Big Bob Gibson's, and cook over a moderate smoky fire, it would taste just like chicken. Yum!

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Progressive thinking in Berkeley....

The Berkeley, California schools have proposed ending many science courses and labs in order to narrow achievement gaps between whites and non-asian minorities. No, I am not making this up. So not only are "progressive" teachers and parents effectively telling blacks and hispanics (many of them children of professors) that they can't hack it in a basic high school chemistry lab (I call that "bigotry"), they're telling ALL of their students that....

....if they have dreams of attending, say, the University of California at Berkeley, they're going to need to (no matter how well they've done otherwise) spend a few semesters at a community college getting the science courses they weren't allowed to take in high school.

One would figure that the home of one of the nation's premier research universities would have residents capable of thinking through the consequences of doing this, but apparently not. And yes, I am perfectly willing to suggest that this may say something about what amounts to "cutting edge research" at the flagship campus of the Cal system.

I'd have to guess they've been studying logic with the Chicago Police Department....

This might help toll revenues along 294 in Chicago....

....according to the Northern Muckraker and NBC news in Chicago, the Chicago Police Department is seriously considering eliminating the entrance exam so they can get more minority applicants into the force. I would guess the next step would be to eliminate background checks and simply let the Latin Jivers, Satan's Disciples, Gangster Disciples, and other street gangs handle the job.....

....and so my question is whether this is simply an Illinois way to increase toll road revenues, as 294 goes through the suburbs. Incorporation of the 2nd Amendment against the states and cities cannot come soon enough, to put it mildly.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

What a tangled web we weave

I got to thinking about the likely $400 billion cost of bailing out Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac by the Treasury, and where the money is coming from and where it is going. In a nutshell; Fannie and Freddie borrowed hundreds of billions from the Fed to purchase mortgage backed securities from banks, securities which now are largely worthless. So they have a big debt to the Fed they cannot pay.

So the Treasury issues bonds, the Fed monetizes them, and the revenue from them goes through Fannie and Freddie (with money taken out for their expenses of course) right back to....the Fed.

Wouldn't it be easier and cheaper simply to let Fannie and Freddie default on their debts and let the Fed eat this one? Maybe it would teach people there a lesson about ensuring adequate collateral for loans.

Need some help with your New Year's resolutions?

The Wall Street Journal lets us know that due in great part to government meddling, we have something of a shortage of doctors, especially those in primary care. So if you need help holding to that resolution to eat better or exercise more, there you go. H/T Cold Fusion Guy.

Want to reduce your likelihood of sickness even more? Mr. D. links to a neat AP story about how Norway greatly reduced infections; they stopped overprescribing antibiotics and (this isn't emphasized nearly as much as it should be in the article!) those who do become infected are isolated.

In other words, the old quarantine, long out of favor here, but the fact remains that you don't get illnesses from people with whom you don't make contact. Along the same lines, maybe it's time to consider the idea that if we're worried about communicable diseases, maybe encouraging people to congregate in ever larger numbers at work, school, and elsewhere might not be the right idea.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

An interesting thought

Back at the end of 2008, it appeared that the investigation of Chicago corruption had Rod Blagojevich by an extremely sensitive area, and that the evidence pretty much indicated an open and shut case.

Today, the man is not only not in jail, but he's apparently appearing on a TV show with Donald Trump, and Chicago area natives are suggesting that the prosecutor doesn't have the evidence to convict him.

It makes me wonder. Who got his man into the special prosecutor's office, and how? Daley? Obama? Rezko? We may never know, but the whole deal speaks of a level of corruption in Chicago that most places never aspire to.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Interesting thoughts for the New Year

First of all, hearty congratulations to Ben and Faith, as they are already seeing results in obedience to God's command to be fruitful and multiply.

Second, here's an interesting commentary from my favorite seminary president noting the need for Bible colleges--specifically Bible colleges which teach the Trivium. In other words, Dr. Bauder is telling Bible colleges, more or less, to take the ground vacated by so-called liberal arts colleges.

A corollary thought here is to wonder why we need Bible colleges to train young people (and middle aged for that matter) when they've been under the pulpit ministry for decades already. It would seem to speak of a long delayed maturity and...sigh.....a somewhat "gelded" pulpit ministry in too many churches, including a lot of the best, I think.

Third, it appears that (H/T Anti-Strib) the Mayo Clinic is refusing new Medicare patients at a branch in Arizona because they're losing $840 million each year on the program. Given that the health insurance deform plans currently in Congress require some fairly significant cuts in Medicare, this doesn't bode well for healthcare for senior citizens. Socialism in any area always leads to shortages, and healthcare is no exception.

Finally, your prayers are coveted for the "Northern Muckraker," who is in a difficult family situation right now.