Saturday, March 31, 2012

It takes a lot of nerve

My grad school (Ski U Boulder) just sent out an alumni newsletter (Go Big Red!) in which the story of a new lobbyist for the "government hypothesis" on climatology noted how the reason for his advocacy was the preservation of the multi-billion dollar winter sports industry.  OK, he lives in Aspen, I can see where he's going.....

....until I read what he does for a living.  More or less, Mr. Chris Davenport makes a living by going to mountains all around the world and skiing down the most dangerous ones that are plausibly ski-able.  He apparently made to six continents in 2011 and skied on 150 of the 365 days. 

OK, so let's do the math on this one.  Mr. Davenport and his entourage fly a commuter plane out of Aspen to Denver, LA, or San Francisco, then take a good portion of a jumbo jet halfway around the world and back, and they do this probably 20 times a year or more.

Seeing that Mr. Davenport's job burns more fossil fuel than does my entire neighborhood, I think it takes a lot of gall for him to accuse us of being the cause to the problem. 

Thursday, March 29, 2012

A path to racial harmony?

It seems to me that if the President really wants to be America's first "post-racial" President--instead of "probably the most needlessly racially divisive President ever"--he would do well to have the DOJ investigate the Black Panthers and others who are targeting arbitrary people named "Zimmerman"  (and some not named Zimmerman) in retaliation for alleged crimes against Trayvon Martin.

Here's an interesting piece by Larry Elder about how these things are often treated.  We can easily make too much of this, but if we aren't shown our blind spots--like how pretty young girls always seem to get more coverage when they become crime victims than others--we're going to have trouble correcting them, no?

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

A victory

My friend, Tim Voigt, died sometime Monday night or Tuesday morning--he had suffered for years with ALS, or Lou Gehrig's disease, but through it all, he maintained a cheerful composure that....people whose major trouble in life is losing a job would do well to emulate, to put it mildly! 

I saw him Monday evening as he was preparing to go on a shopping trip, and thought he was doing pretty well, so I'm surprised.  That said, a formerly wheelchair-bound man is dunking in Heaven.  Praise God, and pray for his son and the rest of his family as they grieve his loss.

Rest in joy, Tim.

Friday, March 23, 2012

And more depressing news.....

Statisticians have apparently found that the amount of drilling for oil is not positively correlated with lower prices at the pump.  Part of this is intuitive; if you are fishing for funds to drill an oil well, are you going to do better with the venture capitalists and bankers when the spot price is $25/barrel, or $150/barrel?  At which price point are more marginal U.S. oil wells going to be brought into production?

At the higher price point, of course, which illustrates the lack of logic in the AP study.  Yes, more suppliers will join a market as the market clearing price goes up.  It is exactly what anyone who has made it through the first two weeks of an introductory economics course would understand from a normal supply and demand illustration.

The same illustration illustrates why the AP's research is meaningless; from the very same illustration, let's move the supply curve out by adding more producers.  What happens to the market clearing price?  It of course goes down versus what it otherwise would have been, ceterus parabus.

Which leads to the basic question; what kind of change in supply is indicated here, the use of already existing oil wells, or the opening of new oil fields for exploration?  Since it is the latter, any sound economist will tell you that yes, opening up new oil fields to exploration will indeed reduce oil prices versus what they otherwise would have been.

Or, at the very least, they will compel OPEC to reduce production to maintain prices, which will still have the beneficial impact of reducing the amount of money going to some of the world's most corrupt leaders.  I hope we can all agree that, even if we're still stuck paying $4/gallon or more for gasoline, this is a good thing.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

It's a Depression, again

Just got let go from my job today, just as I thought I was getting some real traction on some important things there.  Pray for me, and for that matter, pray for those who will be working there still.  It was past time to get out, but I would have preferred it on my own terms.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

A matter of crucial importance

My old 22" Weber grill is wearing out--can't control air going in, hence it cooks as "hot" and no other way--and wonder if there are any other charcoal afficionados out there who have anything they would recommend.  Budget is "modest".

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Let's close the journalism schools....

.....if the best they can do is this, an article which quotes without question President Obama's contention that the oil industry is subsidized.  Fact; what's really going on is that oil companies have an accelerated depreciation schedule for capital investment.  Given that the big move in drilling is to fracking, a technology that yields large flows of fuel at first, but quickly trailing off, this depreciation schedule is not a subsidy, but is rather an acknowledgement of the nature of the business.  If depreciation is not taken when the oil and gas is actually flowing, it can be meaningless to the driller.

But, of course, having been trained in AP Style instead of logic, and having learned journalism law without ever learning the name "Peter Zenger," apparently journalists today are having trouble with the concept of "fact-checking," so consulting with a tax accountant about this "subsidy" is apparently beyond their pay grade.

And a few more razzies to the President, who apparently thinks he can bring oil prices down by reducing supply.   If economic illiteracy were a crime, Air Force One would be flying him to DIA, where the presidential motorcade would drop him off to spend the next 14 years with his buddy Rod Blagojevich.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Christian living in a single word?

Well, not quite, but I've been thinking a lot about the joys of contentment lately--how nice it is that I really don't feel the compulsion to get a new vehicle, new wardrobe, and so on.  No need for a new TV to replace the 20 year old model, or a new stereo, or to replace 20 year old sweaters or 100 year old iron skillets.  They still work just fine.  The bike shop could, for $2500 or so, sell me a bike that weighs 15 lbs less than my current ride--but then I remember that I can take far more weight off the road simply by riding the 33 year old bike (and its 42 1/2 year old rider) I've got a little more often.  Some things might be nice, but there is no fiery urge to go off to the mall, or even Cabela's.

Along the same lines, consider how the first concrete action Paul tells Philippian believers to consider--after God counsels us to work out our salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12)--is to do everything without complaining.   In a nutshell, this fruit of the work of the Spirit (vs. 13) can be summed up as "contentment."

Or, in the Mosaic law, "Thou shalt not covet."  And as I consider the crisis we're going through now--an economic crisis brought on as homeowners used their mortgages as an ATM while government treated taxpayers the same way--in short a crisis of covetousness--there are a lot of worse things that we could preach than contentment, I think.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Liberal hubris explained in a single article!

Apparently not cluing in that there might be a reason that the $40,000 Chevy Cobalt Volt isn't selling like hotcakes, President Obama is "doubling down" on the government's malinvestment on alternative fuel vehicles.   Not satisfied with that, he's announcing plans for the government to fund ten to fifteen model communities for the deployment of these luxury vehicles glorified golf carts.

Now, quite frankly, I can name some government model communities.  Cabrini Green and the Robert Taylor Homes in Chicago.  Pruitt-Igoe in St. Louis.  Queensbridge in NYC.  Jordan Downs in Watts.  To put it gently, it's not for no reason that you instinctively lock the car doors and grasp the steering wheel a little tighter when you drive by the projects, and a President who worked for 20  years on the South Side of Chicago (near the Robert Taylor Homes) ought to know very well that government building projects tend to end up "not as good as expected."

That said, it's a brilliant example of liberal thinking.  Ignore the fact that the government has precious few successes in the area, and assume that the problems were because you weren't running things.  Even if the only experience you can point to running things is Obama's case....running things into the ground.

By the way, to break even (not turn a profit) on the Volt's $20k extra cost versus the Cobalt would require (a) daily electric-only driving of 25 miles (real world battery charge) and (b) $12/gallon gasoline.   Even with the $7500 tax credit, you're talking about $6-7 gasoline to have a chance of breaking even.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Got it.....

I saw an ad in the paper advertising a TV called "GCB," and wondered why the show had an acronym instead of a name.  OK, got it.  Scary thing; if I decide to boycott, more or less I only need to avoid Hellman's mayonaisse and Philly cream cheese.   Given my cooking habit, the mayo could be a challenge.....

Seriously, if this is the best ABC can do with this time slot, they need to fire their programming executives.  Beyond the obvious question "Why aren't they making fun of Muslims this way?" (OK, the answer to that one is obvious), isn't the very notion.....just tacky?

Saturday, March 03, 2012

President Obama hates this woman

He certainly won't admit it--and perhaps he even thinks he's doing her a favor--but in reality, President Obama hates Sandra Fluke.

How so?  Well, in saying that she spent $3000 in law school for contraception, she's basically admitting that not only is she violating her Catholic faith by sleeping around, but she doesn't even have the self-respect to tell suitors "if you want to sleep with me, you at least need to bear the costs of contraception."

In short, any loving person should be staging an intervention, not congratulating her on her testimony.  By doing the latter, Obama is aiding and abetting her incredibly self-destructive habits.  There are not too many criminals who could do Ms. Fluke worse harm than President Obama has.  Conversely, if Ms. Fluke will only listen, Rush Limbaugh is really one of her best friends.

How "cheap" modern managers can be

I read in the paper this morning that apparently, dozens of workers in the blue jeans industry have died, and others have been maimed, due to the practice of sandblasting jeans.  As one reads the articles, one would come to believe that the practice of sandblasting poses a horrible risk to human health.

On the flip side, it's standard practice to prepare metal surfaces for painting with a quick silica blast.  So what gives?

Well, apparently the managers at the blue jeans plants overseas are too (insert expletive here if desired) cheap to purchase a $56 respirator from McMaster-Carr for their workers in the sandblasting rooms. 

It introduces an interesting question; libertarians (and I do name myself as having libertarian inclinations) will claim that the profit motive alone ought to impel smart businessmen to treat their workers well.  However, in a "supply rich environment" for labor such as that of developing countries, I'm not quite sure that's true in general.  "Get me another set of lungs not yet filled with sand, Louie."

And of course, exactly what kind of insane person would want to pay extra for jeans deliberately damaged by sand is beyond me.  But if you're that person, and want some damaged jeans, I've got a few pairs (size 36/34) that I'll let go for $15 apiece.  Even better, they're authentically damaged by real working in dirt and grease (one pair is chemically faded by "Liquid Plumber")!  So you get a better price than Target and street cred to boot.

Do I have any takers?