READ ABOUT DETROIT AND SOLUTIONS TO ITS PROBLEMS. CLICK HERE.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

SEARCH BLOG: IMMIGRATION and MUSLIMS

Martin Kelly, in Scotland, often laments the ills of Muslim immigration.

Now he is really pissed.

Great Britain, which includes Scotland of course, has a history of granting political asylum without a lot of question about those who request it. If a government is after someone, the government must be evil. Well, maybe some of those seeking asylum should have been granted an insane asylum... given the way they treat their hosts.

No, it has to be that Great Britain (and the U.S.?) are evil because they did not convert to extremist Islam before granting asylum to these great believers.

(sigh)

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Celebrations - Part 2

SEARCH BLOG: FAMILY

This is going to be a marathon.

We've completed the first two weeks with two birthdays and one anniversary. My mother is off to Wisconsin for 11 days while my mother-in-law and niece are here for the next three weeks.

We still have 2 anniversaries and a birthday to go. Then my mother will return for a few more days before heading home.

My wife has promised me all of the golf, beer, and Xanax that I want as long as I keep smiling.

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Friday, June 29, 2007

Primum Non Nocere

SEARCH BLOG: FEDERAL RESERVE

Recently, I wrote that stock market concerns about an increase in interest rates by the Federal Reserve were irrational because the Fed would have to be acting irrationally, given current economic conditions, to raise interest rates.

The Fed did not act irrationally... at least for now.

Oh, the Latin? "First, do no harm." That should be the motto of the Fed.

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Thursday, June 28, 2007

The CO2 Fog

SEARCH BLOG: GLOBAL WARMING

LuboŇ° Motl
has published an analysis of the claims about CO2-based runaway global warming.

As I've stated in the past, some climate analysts may use physics, but it doesn't necessarily make them physicists... or the results of their analyses fact.

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Tuesday, June 26, 2007

An Unethical Trader

SEARCH BLOG: CHINA

Last October, I posted an exchange between Dr. Russell Nelson and myself at his blog Cafe Hayek.

While I have no problem with trade, I still have a problem with the way China conducts trade with other nations, particularly the U.S.
Recently, there have been a couple examples of why trading with an unethical partner is not smart or good business.

First was the Chinese toothpaste that contained anti-freeze. Not exactly good for either your dental or total health.

Now there are Chinese tires that simply fall apart. It seems that once the Chinese were able to get a safety certification for their tires, they changed the content... so much so that they never would have been certified. It seems that the importer may have to bear the cost of recalling all of the tires. The importer wants our government to help pay for the recall or it will go bankrupt.
Let's see... the importer brings in cheap, shoddy tires from China that puts U.S. workers out of jobs and endangers Americans who buy the tires... then wants the U.S. taxpayers who are already footing the bill for the out-of-work employees to help pay for the recall of the tires that put the Americans out of work and endangered other Americans.
I think not!

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Celebrations

SEARCH BLOG: FAMILY

Today is one of the several celebration days for the family over the next two weeks.

My wife just celebrated her birthday... can't reveal her age.

Mother is 90 today.

Every year she complains about how difficult the trip here is. This year she didn't complain as much because she got bumped to "business class" by Air Tran. That was a very nice thing for them to do.

Once she is here, she has a great time and then flies off to spend some time with my sister. That's another flight, but it's pretty short so she doesn't doesn't complain as much. Then she flies back here to spend some more time with us before she flies back home.

During the entire trip, she is entertained like a queen and revels in the attention. Then she complains about the flight home, but she tells us that it's good to get in her own bed again.
My brother and sister-in-law are celebrating their 25th anniversary today as well. He is considerably younger than me. It's easy to remember his anniversary, as you can imagine.

We'll gather at the lake in the evening and have a huge barbeque and an enormous cake in honor of the three of them.

Birthdays and anniversaries are nice traditions. We don't need them that much in our family because we are so close and get together for all sorts of occasions. But 90 and 25 are kind of special occasions, so we'll treat them that way.
And having my oldest son in from San Francisco makes it even better. Unfortunately, his wife couldn't make it so we'll have to figure out something else for the annual family picture that goes on the Christmas card. We've been doing that for 30 years and are not quite ready to give up that tradition.
In a few more days, we'll celebrate our 40th and one of our sons 1st. Finally, when everyone is pretty much partied out, we have the 4th of July celebration followed by my birthday.

We really enjoy the beginning of summer.

I wish you similar good fortune.

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Sunday, June 24, 2007

Manipulations

SEARCH BLOG: ECONOMY

I recall when the tech stocks were booming, especially those vaporware and internet stocks. I tried and tried to see the value, but couldn't find it. My wife was convinced that we were missing the proverbial boat, so she took a little of her own investments and plunged into an investment that at least had some possibilities... one of those if-come deals.

Well, the tech stocks tanked and so did her small investment. She eventually got about half of her money back, but it was a lesson that most of us eventually get handed to us. When things are just too good to be true... they aren't.

Now we read that the housing market, fueled by cheap and undersecured mortgages, is going to take a lashing as those flaky sub-prime loans cause the once looking-good-quarterly-earnings lenders to look pretty stupid. Housing prices were going to continue to go up unabated so those risky loans would be covered no matter what... not.

Let's see, what else might be getting a little out of whack? How about a currency held up by foreign creditors? How about an economy based on importing everything? How about a social system where the rules are ignored and anybody can walk in and get the benefits of the society? How about a compensation system that pays a few people a lot for selling off the value of previously sound companies... and putting a lot of people out of work?

Just asking.

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Saturday, June 23, 2007

New Mileage Rules

SEARCH BLOG: AUTOMOBILES

This is the start of something interesting: the Federal Government wants to mandate 35 mpg cars and 30 mpg trucks.

Some questions:

  1. What is the metric based on... mpg gasoline "average" city/highway or E85 (another mandate) which has 75% of the energy/mpg of gasoline or what?
  2. Are there weight limits above which the standards don't apply?
  3. Will the mpg result in vehicles that are less capable and safe for hauling/towing and general business needs?
  4. Will vehicles such as the Toyota Tundra or the Ford F-150 be too expensive for companies to afford?
  5. Why is the government mandating fuel efficiency?
  6. Will the government say that due to increased fuel efficiency, fuel taxes must be raised to offset the loss of tax revenue?
  7. Why doesn't the government simply raise taxes (which it will do anyway) on fuel and let manufacturers figure out how to respond to a marketplace with more expensive fuel?
My sense is that the senators and representatives are really not interested all that much in what fuel efficiencies are achieved as much as being able to say they are "doing something." My last question above is the most expeditious and least costly way of achieving a change in the automotive products being sold... let the manufacturers and customers decide.

But the way in questions 6 and 7 would be politically incorrect... for politicians... because they would be "blamed" for causing economic dislocation and hurting automotive companies and customers. By setting "standards" these senators and representatives can claim to be "saving" the environment and avoiding global warming... and the higher fuel taxes are just a small price to pay.

Nancy Pelosi and Barbara Boxer get to be heroes by saving us from the evil automotive companies instead of being villians for increasing the cost of vehicle ownership and reducing the capabilities of the vehicles.

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Asking Scientific Questions About Politics

SEARCH BLOG: GLOBAL WARMING

The Climate Science blog has an interesting discussion about the process the UN's IPCC used to select information that was used to develop it's global warming report.


There are a lot of comments about the validity and redundancy of papers either used or not used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)... a United Nations creation.

While the discussion is focused on the scientific merits of the IPCC process in choosing or refusing source documents, my comment was:

The question at hand is why the UN, a political organization of Byzantine nature, should be trusted to have a political process that should be trusted regarding scientific investigation?

Dr. Pielke asks a rational, scientist’s question as to why peer-reviewed studies that contradict the UN’s IPCC positions are ignored.

Is that kind of like asking the Pope why he ignores positions that contradict church orthodoxy?

Perhaps because they highlight an inconvenient truth? (sorry)


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Thursday, June 21, 2007

Summer Days - Summer Daze

SEARCH BLOG: FAMILY

The next week or so will be pretty hectic around her with 3 anniversaries, 3 birthdays, 2 grandmothers, and visitors who require feeding and entertainment.

So the posts will be a little sparser. Tomorrow: the first birthday.

Happy summer solstice.

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Who's On First

SEARCH BLOG: MIDDLE EAST

Last century, the comedy team of Bud Abbott and Lou Costello performed this routine'



It reminds me an awful lot about the Middle East with the Shia and Sunni and Hamas and Fatah and Hezbolla....

While well intentioned, the idea of a melting pot democracy like the U.S. existing in the Middle East just does not seem possible. Last year when Robert Reich suggest that Iraq be partitioned like Yugoslavia, I wasn't much of a supporter of the idea. But what is going on in the Middle East is 3,000 year old tribalism that is not ready for the 21st century.

Perhaps the time has come. All of you al-so-and-sos go find your own sandbox and play in it and don't come out. Maybe then we'll know who's on first.

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Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Politics 2007

SEARCH BLOG: POLITICS

The U.S. presidential candidates are beginning to take up more of the news.

My take: right now there is a lot of party posturing, but little that appeals to me personally.

Why? Because there is too much focus on "fluff" and "bluff" and not enough about what this nation needs to address. What are the issues?

Middle East - ostensibly about fighting terrorists, but more about ensuring the world's flow of oil is not disrupted. If we let Iraq fall into chaos or under the thumb of Iran, then it is an easy next step for Saudi Arabia and Kuwait to follow. The U.S. could adapt.


Total Imports of Petroleum (Top 15 Countries)
(Thousand Barrels per Day)
Country Apr-07 Mar-07 YTD 2007 Apr-06 Jan - Apr 2006

CANADA
MEXICO
SAUDI ARABIA
VENEZUELA
NIGERIA
ALGERIA
IRAQ
RUSSIA
ANGOLA
UNITED KINGDOM
VIRGIN ISLANDS
BRAZIL
NORWAY
KOREA, SOUTH
ECUADOR


It would be tough with 20% of our imports from Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Kuwait, but the U.S. would work out the problems. It certainly would cause a deep recession for awhile, but we would recover.
My sense is that neither the Democrats nor the Republicans would let the Middle East fall under the thumb of an unfriendly Iran.

Immigration - neither the Democrats nor the Republicans have come to grips with the real issue... law enforcement. Both parties are looking for an escape valve from the present situation. A few of the candidates have addressed this.

Energy - Related to the Middle East, but distinctly its own issue. Government interference with the marketplace has led to bad choices (for example, ethanol which is ruining the corn market) and real development of feasible alternatives. Not much discussion here... all of it focused on the red herring of global warming.

Economy - is it all sunshine and roses as the Republicans portray or the end of the U.S. working class as the Democrats say? How do we address... do we address... the massive trade imbalances and the potential for greater inflation and unemployment? Why is the housing market shot with 6% mortgages? Possibly because the jobs that provide income for people who buy houses are in China? Possibly because total economic numbers don't reflect the widening gap between economic strata?
It seems these days that more money is made from manipulation than manufacturing. [hedge funds?]
I'm interested to hear more.

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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Allah Did Not Save Them - U.S. Soldiers Did

SEARCH BLOG: IRAQ

Just in case you didn't see this... you should.

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Certainty

SEARCH BLOG: ISLAM

All religions have one central element: belief. No matter what the faith, the essence it that there must be belief in the tenets.

When one looks critically at religion... all religion... one is forced to conclude that most faiths require suspension of disbelief. That is to say that your senses and your experiences tell you one thing and your faith requires you to believe another.

Perhaps that is why the Western world... where people have largely compartmentalized their world views into the scientific/rational and the religious/belief to avoid obvious conflicts... has such great difficulty dealing with the Islamists belief-based approach to life.

In the West, we accept uncertainty even though religion preaches certainty. The Islamist who believes killing and suicide (martyrdom) is an essential part of his religion lives with certainty only.

The difference between the concept of 'knowing' and the concept of 'being certain' isn't of any great importance at all, except where "I know" is meant to mean: I can't be wrong.
Ludwig Wittgenstein
Of course, that doesn't mean the leaders of organizations like al Qaeda and Hamas actually believe in committing suicide for their cause. They are satisfied using dumb schmucks who do.

The real danger to the West is not the actual military capabilities of these schmuck-raisers. It is believing that we can't stop them so we must try to accommodate them.

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Monday, June 18, 2007

Measuring Temperatures - Update

SEARCH BLOG: GLOBAL WARMING

The other day, I wrote about the strange difference between the reported temperatures for this locality and the temperatures I recorded.

Today... absolutely no difference.





No difference.... Could be because it is a fairly cloudy (despite what the little picture shows) and windy eliminating whatever factors caused the monitoring station to be higher the other day.

Of course, another report shows this...


That's bound to be a record... you think?

UPDATE

At slightly after 6 p.m., the variance between my thermometer and two reporting stations is 5 degrees (89 on my porch versus 94). This from a monitoring site at another subdivision reported by Wunderground....





Now, if two sites that are residential are 5 degrees less than two other nearby sites, one can only guess that the reason is factors surrounding the two higher temperature sites ... like asphalt and metals surfaces and traffic.

This continues to raise questions about the quality control at weather monitoring stations.
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Sunday, June 17, 2007

Life Expectancy

SEARCH BLOG: HEALTH CARE

My mother arrived from Florida yesterday. She is here to celebrate here 90th birthday along with several other birthdays and anniversaries in our family that fall within a 2-week span.

Had she been born a mere 90 years earlier, she likely would have not survived beyond 50.

She caught a mild case of tuberculosis working in a factory during WWII (the common variety of 70 years ago when TB patients were housed in "sanitariums" and forced to stay in bed before the 1st generation antibiotics was available...before the advent of HIV/AIDS whose sufferers can't be "stigmatized" with forced care so they can't spread the disease). She spent a year in bed recovering. The year after she recovered, antibiotics were developed to quickly treat that less virulent version.

Since then she has survived, cancer, cataracts, and artery-clogging cholesterol. She also has arthritis, but that is also under control.
She is a walking, driving, jet-setting example of the effectiveness of our health care system.

There are some differences in the system now than she experienced earlier in her life. Diagnosis and early treatment are available for those who have the inclination or resources to have annual checkups.
Unfortunately, there are many from all economic strata that will spend a few hundred dollars on an iPod or fashionable clothes before they invest in their health. Sure there are some who simply cannot afford to get an annual physical... even a cursory one. But that's a very small percentage of the total population.

For the vast majority of Americans, if we feel healthy, then we don't think about the possibility that some problem could be lurking within. It's only when the problem becomes obvious or serious that we take action. That's human nature. But it is also the reason that so many people die before they reach 90 years.
We invest in stocks, bonds, real estate, education, cars, jewelry, music and comic book collections, and everything else imaginable.
Somehow, too many of us fail to invest in our health and the time above ground that it confers.

And, ultimately, all we have is time.

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Father's Day

I'm fortunate to be spending this day with two of my three sons. My oldest son lives in California and can't be here today, but will be here next week.

Of all my experiences and accomplishments, the best are and always will be raising these three fine young men who make this world a better place. They are the finest gifts for which I could have hoped.

Were it so that all men could say the same.

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Friday, June 15, 2007

Measuring Temperatures

SEARCH BLOG: GLOBAL WARMING

Recently, I posted information regarding a grass-roots effort started by Anthony Watts who started examining the locations of the weather monitoring stations that record official temperatures. This effort first came to my attention when Dr. Roger Pielke, Sr. at Climate Science posted it to his site.

Since then, the attention to the condition of these monitoring stations has grown. I happened to be working on my porch the other evening when I noticed a significant discrepancy between the reported temperature and that being measured by the thermometer on my porch. After sunset the variance became much smaller. I speculated that there may be conditions around the local reporting sites that overstated the temperatures... possibly the Urban Heat Island effect. If the reporting sites are situated where the surroundings can absorb or reflect heat, the stations are likely to exaggerate the actual heat in the air.

For example, right now (10:30 am) the reported temperature is 73 degrees and my porch thermometer reads 72 degrees. I'll concede that it may be the inaccuracy of my thermometer. As the day proceeds, however, the variance increases.

Note this chart from Climate Audit:



The horizontal axis is in minutes from midnight (took me a few minutes to figure that out). This plots the difference in temperature readings just varying the coatings on the weather station. It does not demonstrate the effect of locating the station above asphalt or next to buildings or parked vehicles.

I can't really explain why air temperatures (black line) are higher in the pre-dawn and post-sunset hours than the stations. Steve McIntyre at Climate Audit may be able to shed light on that. You may want to go to the link above the chart to read the many comments regarding this issue.
My own observations parallel Steve's in that pre-dawn and post-sunset hour readings on the porch are higher than the reporting station. That may be due to some heat trapped by the house radiated out to the porch.

Southern facing porch


Area surrounding porch

The thermometer is located just to the left of this picture's edge and at the top of the screen. Therefore, the readings are always in the shade and essentially open-air. This, it seems to me, represents a "true" temperature reading for the location.
The point of all of this is that with weather data recording and real estate, the important factor seems to be... location, location, location.
If, as Anthony Watts' effort shows, weather monitoring stations are poorly located and giving exaggerated heat readings due to Urban Heat Island effects, then the whole contention of recent global warming (corresponding to expansion of Urban Heat Islands around weather stations) is brought into serious question... especially when recent data is compared to data many decades ago that were captured under conditions closer to that of my porch.
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Thursday, June 14, 2007

Scooter Goes To Jail

SEARCH BLOG: INJUSTICE

It looks as if Scooter Libby will go to jail awaiting his appeal effort.

This is a man who worked night and day after 9/11 to be sure that everyone was focused and doing their jobs to protect our country.

Memory is short in Washington, D.C. President Bush is obviously too busy trying to get illegal aliens pardoned to fix this travesty of "justice." Obviously, the Scooter Libby situation is not one that falls under the "law of convenience."

Just one more reason for the next Republican candidate for president to distance himself from this administration. Apparently, this is not lost on Fred Thompson.
Read what The New Republic says.

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Immigration Bill - A Failure To Communicate

SEARCH BLOG: ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION

Every medium is filled with discussion about the immigration bill - pro and con. Some insist that we need those illegally here and we should accept the fact that they are here and move on. Others say that our culture is being overrun and a separate nation is developing within our borders.

President Bush has put the full weight of his administration behind this bill. In yesterday's post, you could follow the link to see who voted for or against closure on the bill. The issue is one that is dividing the U.S. as effectively as the War in Iraq.

Although I am well aware that emails to the White House go into ether-oblivion, I wrote the following just to get it on the record so that I could post it here.

Subject: Immigration Bill

It is a mistake... legally, ethically, and politically.

President Bush is creating animosity among the middle-class, conservative voters who brought him into the White House. It is hard to believe that he is that far out of touch with his support base. These are people who believe in the rule of law. Just because large numbers of foreigners are breaking our laws does not mean we must change or adapt. If our immigration laws are just and fairly enforced, then foreigners seeking admittance into the U.S. must comply with those laws. Middle-class conservatives do not accept the concept of the rule of convenience. These voters see the administration failing on two fronts: past failures to enforce the law and present attempts to circumvent the law.

This will have very telling ramifications in the 2008 elections.

Unfortunately, President Bush is too well insulated from his support base to realize that he is losing the 2008 election for his successor, unless that person repudiates the Bush administration's position on immigration.
There is only one reasonable and enforceable solution: require all employers to verify the legal status of all of their employees subject to a substantial fine, felony conviction, and jail time for failure to comply. Include a provision that Federally shields all employers who comply with those requirements from lawsuits brought against them by individuals or organizations, such as the ACLU, who view such verification as harassment or a violation of privacy.
A social security number would not be considered proof by itself. A social security number combined with a birth certificate and passport or high school records would be considered proof. All are readily available to citizens at little cost or effort. For legal foreign workers, a valid visa and/or green card would be sufficient along with a copy of their passport.
If employers need foreign workers that badly, they need to follow the laws of the land. It will follow quickly that without economic incentive to come to the U.S. illegally, border enforcement will be much less of a problem.

Of course, the automated response to my email was:
On behalf of President Bush, thank you for your correspondence.

We appreciate hearing your views and welcome your suggestions.

Due to the large volume of e-mail received, the White House cannot respond to every message.

Thank you again for taking the time to write.
Of course they can't.
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Wednesday, June 13, 2007

UHI

SEARCH BLOG: GLOBAL WARMING

Present weather from the local weather site - shows the current temperature and the forecasted high temperature.


Temperature reading taken at 6:05 p.m. [7 minutes earlier than the screen print above] from our southern facing porch with thermometer 5 feet from the house:


Certainly, you can argue that this thermometer is not as accurate as a weather site device, but it has been calibrated to our electronic thermostat in the house, so it is reasonably close.

I would have to say that a 10-degree difference is not a reasonable difference. Since I am working within my porch, I can attest that it is no where near 90 degrees as being reported by the weather site. Another local site reports 88 degrees right now.

So, the question I pose is just where those weather sites located that they are 8-10 degrees warmer than my southern-facing porch? Perhaps surrounded by asphalt and traffic? Urban Heat Island effect in action?

UPDATE... on an almost real-time basis....


The reported temperature dropped 4 degrees in one hour. The porch thermometer has remained the same at 80 degrees.

Should I suspect that the weather sites are being affected by the sun and immediately surrounding conditions... or that my thermometer is broken and stuck at 80 degrees?

LAST UPDATE... it's now 3 hours after the initial readings. The sun has just set so any solar gain is not affecting readings. There may be some residual heat from surroundings.


My porch thermometer reads 77 degrees. That's a two degree variance which could be attributable to the 15 acres of park adjacent to my property versus whatever conditions are at the nearby weather site.

My porch is screened on 3 sides and the roof has an 8 inch overhang which keeps the thermometer shaded and lightly vented. The thermometer is situated on the eastern side of the porch about 8 feet above the ground outside.
What does this prove?

While you can dispute the accuracy of my thermometer, I suggest that it demonstrates that the Urban Heat Island effect may be in play here and affecting the readings taken for both my community and the adjacent community. Whether the actual difference was 8-10 degrees or 3-4 degrees is really not the point. The point is that, even giving back 5 degrees as an error in my thermometer (which I don't believe is the case), it is quite possible that the equipment where the reported readings were taken may be poorly situated for accurate readings.

This is an experiment that any of you can do for your communities with a similarly situated thermometer.

ADDENDUM:

This from Climate Audit corresponds to my experience. This morning, the air temperature as measured on my porch was 65 degrees. This is the weather station temperature:


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The Balancing California Act

SEARCH BLOG: CALIFORNIA

U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., blistered Detroit automakers, saying the industry had "buffaloed" Congress with false claims of financial and technological hurdles to meeting a proposed standard of 35 miles per gallon by 2020.
[source]
Separately....
Ford Motor Co. is entering this summer's national labor talks with a clear, if audacious, goal: Cut hourly labor costs by about 30 percent to reach parity with Asian rivals operating in the United States.
[source]
Proposed....
Sen. Carl Levin [Michigan] has proposed legislation limiting California's share of the total national undocumented workers to 11%. Any excess of undocumented workers must be transported to other states with high labor costs to enable those states to offset the financial burdens placed upon those states by California's demands to enact special and privileged legislation exceeding Federal standards. California will have to document that it has complied with Michigan's undocumented workers Balancing Act.

"California is taking advantage of its proximity to Mexico to reduce overall labor costs in agriculture, food service, landscaping and car pimping." said Sen. Levin. "States such as Michigan that produce products such as automobiles are at a distinct disadvantage because they must use high-cost union labor, which Sen. Feinstein as a Democrat claims to support but doesn't, while California ignores Federal laws regarding labor so that it can continue its high-end lifestyle. It is only fair and balanced that California should share the cost of burdens it is imposing on other states by being forced to give up its low cost labor. Michigan agriculture needs cheap cherry pickers and the auto industry will be able to take those car-pimping illegals and put them to good use on the assembly lines." [well... maybe not]
Oh, just one more item... here is the voting record for the recent Senate Immigration Bill ... you know, forgive and forget to do anything in the future bill. Note who voted for and who voted against the bill. Hint, Sen. Feinstein really wants to keep her illegals.

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Duh Award Winner of the Day

SEARCH BLOG: HUMOR

My son has a certain wit that some might miss, but this was way too obvious.

[click image to see larger image]

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Google Analytics Beta - 3rd Look

SEARCH BLOG: GOOGLE

I keep going back to the new version of the site metrics that Google has produced. It appears that either I have been better at rooting out information or Google is gradually adding some of the information available in the old version to their Beta version.

Perhaps it is just familiarity with the old and lack of familiarity with the new. But it surely seems that Google has gone out of its way to make it difficult to find some of the information that was really easy to find previously.

I think some of it may have to do with this concept of "packaging" information into commonly used groups. Microsoft has done this with Vista so that some of what used to be harder to find information is "packaged" under various "ribbon" tabs. Of course, if it is not in the pre-ordained "ribbons" then you have a bit more of a challenge getting the exact command you want to execute.

Google apparently has tried to figure out what are logical groupings or views of data and then restructured the data within those views... their "ribbons".
So now, for example, if you want hourly statistics, instead of just clicking on the calendar day (1 step), you have to click on a date pull-down menu, select the calendar day, and then "Apply Range" (3 steps). Then you click on Visitors, Visit Trending, Visits (3 more steps). Then finally under the number of visits you can click on the small print that says "Hourly". That's a total of 7 steps to do what could be done previously in one step. UPDATE - Down to 5 clicks if you click Visits on the Dashboard and then Hourly.
Another annoying "feature" is the way the sidebar menus collapse instead of staying open the way the old version did. That ensures extra clicks to navigate... just what is needed.
The notion behind this "packaging" seems to be that the users are really too dumb to use a high level look and then drill down in a crosstabs approach. Google has taken the old communist approach that the government knows best and will provide what is needed in the "best" way... the government's way.

Okay, that's a little harsh. And maybe I've just happened upon the most egregious example of the spoon feeding "packaging" approach.

Regardless, some of the old information is still missing in the Beta version... or I just haven't clicked enough times to get to it.

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War With Iran

SEARCH BLOG: IRAN

It's all over the news! The independent senator from Connecticut proffers that its time for war with Iran.

The Iranian government is the political counterpart of The Simpsons. It's hard to take anything they say seriously, except they do extraordinarily stupid and annoying things... including getting caught training and supplying insurgents.

I got this related email from a gentleman with whom I have telephone conversations and exchange thoughts via email:

IRAN:
1. Senator Liebermann calls for attacks on Iran over terrorist support to Iraq elements on Face the Nation.
2. U.S. is presently conducting a naval exercise, primarily defending against small boat attacks.
3. U.S. advises Israel that it will reassess Iran at the end of the year; Israel agrees that diplomacy at this time is the best course of action.
4. Iran is ramping up its efforts to secure anti-U.S. support in Central America, South America, and elsewhere.
5. Iran threatens global retaliation if attacked, indicating that Iran already has cells in place for such a response.
Question: Do you think that we're really going to attack Iran within the next eighteen months?
I can't imagine that we should expect positive global political developments from such an action. If the U.S. is contemplating attacking Iran, shouldn't the U.S. save the assault and political fallout for its nuclear weapons program? At this point, is there any strong possibility that the U.S. would undertake that potential mission? Has that moment passed or simply been delayed due to the Iraq war?
What is Liebermann thinking? If the U.S. was going to strike Iran over its terrorist and general insurgency support to elements in Iraq, why didn't the U.S. conduct such an attack two years ago?
I think Elvis has left the building.
I responded:
I think Bush's "capital" has been spent with regard to wars in the Middle East.

It would take a direct attack by Iranian troops to get U.S. military involved. Iran's mullahs may be fanatics, but they aren't stupid. They will continue to push the world's hot buttons only until it gets them to the edge of war... then they will make some phony conciliatory gesture to stop any action against them. Their goal is to spread their influence around the region, not their blood.
So, Senator Joe, I think you may be correct, but you are not going to be right.

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Monday, June 11, 2007

Shell Promotion

SEARCH BLOG: MARKETING

Shell Oil sent out a slick little DVD with the latest issue of Popular Science [and maybe some other magazines]. It is called "Eureka."

While obviously self-serving, it was done quite well. It won't make Greenpeace sport Shell logos on their website, but at least it isn't an annoying movie about how government regulation is getting in the way of exploration.


I still think gasoline prices are way too high.

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Friends - First or Best?

SEARCH BLOG: HUMOR

This one from "Quotes of the Day" got me to thinking:

Contrary to general belief, I do not believe that friends are necessarily the people you like best, they are merely the people who got there first.
- Peter Ustinov
There may be some truth to that, but last night I had a talk with a friend of mine in Milwaukee who I have known since my high school days. We worked together, played sports together, traveled together, and raised our families in parallel. My first son was named after him.
He is the kind of person I would have chosen for a friend whenever I had met him. Honest... look-you-in-the-eye-and-tell-you-like-it-is honest... a never-let-you-down kind of person who would rather take a loss than be a cheat. I have always known what to expect and I always expected the best from him... and was never disappointed.
So, while I'm sure that Peter Ustinov's remark was meant to be humorous, it lacks a little accuracy. We meet many people when we are young, but they don't become our friends because they are first. They become our friends because, for us, they are the best. And if they are not the best, perhaps we have to examine ourselves and our judgment.

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Sunday, June 10, 2007

Global Cooling Leads To Droughts

SEARCH BLOG: GLOBAL WARMING

A new study may force some alarmists to re-think their global warming doomsday scenarios... global cooling, not warming, has caused loss of needed rains in the past.

Time to modify those models, I guess.

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Christians Need Not Apply

SEARCH BLOG: IRAQ

A story on page one today: Insurgents' threat: Convert, pay up or get out

Are you surprised? When any group maintains that it is God who gives them authority over everything and everyone else, s#%* happens. All you have to do is look to history. Christian nations and leaders were no less guilty of this application of the belief that God was created in Man's image and, therefore, would think like Man.

So, with the full authority of Allah-created-in-Man's-image, "An Al Qaeda-affiliated insurgent group is giving Christians in Baghdad a stark set of options: Convert to Islam, marry your daughters to our fighters, pay an Islamic tax or leave with only the clothes on your back."
Of course, these "Muslims" are not really the "real" Muslims any more than the KKK were the real "Christians." But there are enough of them to cause a lot of trouble. They are the "wolves" of the Middle East. They prey upon the helpless and defenseless... the "sheep." Who is there to protect them... to be the "sheepdogs" if not the U.S.?

There are those who say we must try to "negotiate" with these wolves. Join them in the "peace" process. Allow them to share power.

A few thousand years ago, a wise man living not too far from present-day Iraq wrote this:
THE WOLVES thus addressed the Sheepdogs: "Why should you, who are
like us in so many things, not be entirely of one mind with us,
and live with us as brothers should? We differ from you in one
point only. We live in freedom, but you bow down to and slave
for men, who in return for your services flog you with whips and
put collars on your necks. They make you also guard their sheep,
and while they eat the mutton throw only the bones to you. If
you will be persuaded by us, you will give us the sheep, and we
will enjoy them in common, till we all are surfeited." The Dogs
listened favorably to these proposals, and, entering the den of
the Wolves, they were set upon and torn to pieces.

Nice... and Normal

SEARCH BLOG: WEATHER






Really makes up for winter!

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Saturday, June 09, 2007

Self Interest First

SEARCH BLOG: GLOBAL WARMING

Politics and science are not often good bedfellows. They are even less likely to occupy the same bedroom when the politics and science are those sponsored by the United Nations.

Most of you have read that the Kyoto efforts to reduce CO2 have been essentially replaced by the G8 (Europe and U.S.) alternative proposals and now the G8 proposal is being rejected by China and India. [from Benny Peiser] It is not in their self-interest.

Sure, in per capita terms, the west produces more CO2 than China or India by a large margin. But because the populations of those two countries are so large, they will be the largest absolute producers of CO2 very soon. Still, they reject the notion that they should alter their economic development paths to conform with the UN urging to use more non-fossil fuel power sources.

What does this mean?

Quite simply, it follows the old saw that "a bird in hand is worth two in the bush." China and India see clear evidence that their economic development plans are working... fabulously. They realize that the steps needed to reduce their CO2 output would dramatically reduce that economic growth. So, the clear economic choice is to ignore the political pleadings of the rest of the world and continue on their present path.

But what about their future which will be endangered by oppressive heat, droughts, lost shorelines, etc.?

The answer is simple: they are not worried about that. Why? Probably because they see the predicted problems as much too remote of a possibility to give up their economic futures for it. They haven't seen any, not just some but any, evidence that they are presently being affected by politically-sponsored global warming... nor are they likely to be affected over at least the next 100 or so years.

By then, their economic and technological developments are very likely to allow them to deal with any remote possibility that climate change will have an adverse affect on them.

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Friday, June 08, 2007

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Global Warming GIGO

SEARCH BLOG: GIGO

There is a small, grass-roots effort underway as discussed at Climate Science.

As I've read more about the way data has been gathered and used by those who are making wild claims about rapid global warming, it is becoming evident that a great deal of data in support of those claims is more than just suspect; it is unreliable for two reasons:

  • Proxy data (information that implies approximate temperatures such as tree ring growth) is tacked on to instrument readings for multi-century trend construction. This proxy data is subject to considerable interpretation and cannot be simply "best-guess" adjusted and combined with actual readings.
  • Actual readings are being distorted by the urban heat island effect (discussed last week) and poor quality control of the weather stations leading to false high readings (as discussed at Climate Science).
Kind of like measuring sub-atomic collisions with a wind sock.

If a particle physicist were to take the approach that the IPCC has with the data and information manipulation, he would be laughed out of the scientific community. The IPCC reports would be laughable... if they were not so politically dangerous.

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Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Economic Medicine

SEARCH BLOG: FEDERAL RESERVE

The Federal Reserve has been pretty quiet for awhile with regard to interest rates. Right now, there is no rational reason to believe that the Board would raise rates further.

  • The economy is in a lull... maybe sliding slightly.
  • The housing markets have tanked and home prices dropped drastically in some areas.
  • There is no shortage of workers and, if that should happen, Mexico is prepared to fill the need.
  • Oil, as a commodity, has not increased or changed much recently (although gas prices have increased due to restrictions on building new refineries).
So, all of the recent talk on Wall Street about the Federal Reserve raising rates is:
  • Irrational because there is no economic driver for that
  • Irrational because the Federal Reserve would be acting irrationally
Still, given the fragile state of affairs in this state... Michigan... any action to increase interest rates would signal economic disaster here. I guess Gov. Granholm could discuss that with Ben Bernanke.

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Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Importing Oblivion

SEARCH BLOG: ECONOMICS



This morning was supposed to be golf, but with the temperature and brisk wind and spotty rain, posting an article here seems much more satisfying.

As gloomy as this day is, it doesn't compare with the more pervasive gloom settling over the State of Michigan. April statistics verify that there were fewer people employed in April, 2007 than in April 1997. Ten years of stagnation and decline.

Why? Many reasons. An auto industry that lost its focus (Jacques Nasser was busy buying junk yards instead of shortening the product renewal cycle). Unions that refused to accept the fact that their employers were not their adversaries, but that other workers in other states working for other companies were their competition. State government that refused to see that it could not continue to expand while the state itself was shriveling.

But is it because Michigan was uniquely inept or because Michigan was uniquely American? While other states decided that it was better to join the movement to lose manufacturing to other countries or import cheap [and illegal?] labor from countries south of us, Michigan held fast to the post-WWII approach that building American and buying American was not only good business, but good for the country. It appears that Michigan may have been somewhat mistaken.

It appears that wealth is now imported in the form of labor and parts and raw materials and finished goods. It appears that distribution and "servicing" is the key to wealth... for some.

As Paul C. Roberts, Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan Administration, says:

Economists are governed by the illusion that America’s post World War II prosperity is based on free trade. It is not. America’s post-war prosperity was based on the destruction of the economic capability of the rest of the world by World War II and communism/socialism. America was prosperous in its trade, because no one else could produce anything.
I hope that I'm wrong. I hope that Michigan is an anomaly. I hope that Roberts is wrong. I hope that the fall of the American dollar and subsequent rise in the cost of essentials that we are seeing is temporary. I hope that wealth destruction really doesn't happen.

But I'm not confident... given what is happening in Michigan.

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Monday, June 04, 2007

New U.S. Temperature Records - May 2007

SEARCH BLOG: GLOBAL WARMING

For those of you waiting anxiously for the next set of record high temperatures in the U.S. to validate the claim that we will experience more record high temperatures due to global warming. Here is the latest from NOAA.

But a picture tells a thousand words....


Of course this doesn't prove anything... neither does the occasional record high temperature.

The fact is that there have been no groupings of record high temperatures of any significance in the U.S. this century.
We will have to keep holding our collective breath until the next dust bowl strikes (and to reduce CO2, I suppose).

Meanwhile, check out this site to see how some record temperatures are occurring.
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Sunday, June 03, 2007

Floating Along

SEARCH BLOG: HEALTH

I kept trying to wipe away and rinse away the stuff in my eye yesterday, but when it wouldn't go away I realized that it wasn't outside of my eye... it was inside.

It turns out I am experiencing a "floater"... a dark curly filament... in my eye and it is quite disconcerting... out of the blue... apparently not caused by anything traumatic. When it turned dark, I noticed some "lights" in my peripheral vision which I thought were reflections in my glasses. Turns out they were probably caused by whatever caused the floater.

The Great Internet tells me that it might be a little detachment of the retina, which can be fixed. So, I will try to find a doctor that specializes in these sorts of things and get a verification and treatment, if possible.

Looking back, I guess it may have started before yesterday, but just wasn't so evident. I had some trouble focusing while playing golf last week and tried to ignore it. Probably should not have.

Like many men, I have this issue about admitting something might be wrong with my health. You know, have to be the strong, indestructible type. I guess as I am getting older, I'll have to recognize my body's limitations.

Damn!

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Saturday, June 02, 2007

Real or Perceived Excessive Heat

SEARCH BLOG: GLOBAL WARMING

We've had a couple of hot days so the talk is all about global warming again. Here are the details.

Yesterday, the month started a little warmer than usual:


The forecast looks like this:
If we take the high temperature from 6-1 which was 84 and the forecasted high temperatures for the next 5 days, we get an average high temperature of... 76.2 degrees.

Now you might argue that the average for the month might be misleading because the month gets warmer as we get closer to summer.
So let's look at the averages for the first 6 days:

[Source: The Weather Channel]
Note how all of the records have been in the last 10 years... not!
It looks like we are pretty close to average... a couple of degrees lower, maybe. But, once again, the local perception is that the temperatures are much higher than "normal."

Alarmism seems to be effective in changing perception.

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Friday, June 01, 2007

Global Temperature History

SEARCH BLOG: GLOBAL WARMING

The other day, I noticed RealClimate had declared that the debate about the temperature history was over.

That sounded vaguely familiar, so I contacted Dr. Roger Pielke, Sr. of Colorado University and the Pielke Research Group which is a member of the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRCES)and moderator of the blog Climate Science.

He asked me to pose my question, in Climate Science, of whether it was reasonable to presume that implied temperatures from various proxy data could be tacked on to actual recent readings to create a 2,000 year time series. There is a paper cited in his response that you can read if you wish.

His response is comment #3 in this post.

I think the last sentence of his comment makes his position regarding the RealClimate post RealClear.

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Blog Archive

Cost of Gasoline - Enter Your Zipcode or Click on Map

CO2 Cap and Trade

There is always an easy solution to every human problem—neat, plausible, and wrong.
Henry Louis Mencken (1880–1956)
“The Divine Afflatus,” A Mencken Chrestomathy, chapter 25, p. 443 (1949)
... and one could add "not all human problems really are."
It was beautiful and simple, as truly great swindles are.
- O. Henry
... The Government is on course for an embarrassing showdown with the European Union, business groups and environmental charities after refusing to guarantee that billions of pounds of revenue it stands to earn from carbon-permit trading will be spent on combating climate change.
The Independent (UK)

Tracking Interest Rates

Tracking Interest Rates

FEDERAL RESERVE & HOUSING

SEARCH BLOG: FEDERAL RESERVE for full versions... or use the Blog Archive pulldown menu.

February 3, 2006
Go back to 1999-2000 and see what the Fed did. They are following the same pattern for 2005-06. If it ain't broke, the Fed will fix it... and good!
August 29, 2006 The Federal Reserve always acts on old information... and is the only cause of U.S. recessions.
December 5, 2006 Last spring I wrote about what I saw to be a sharp downturn in the economy in the "rustbelt" states, particularly Michigan.
March 28, 2007
The Federal Reserve sees no need to cut interest rates in the light of adverse recent economic data, Ben Bernanke said on Wednesday.
The Fed chairman said ”to date, the incoming data have supported the view that the current stance of policy is likely to foster sustainable economic growth and a gradual ebbing in core inflation”.

July 21, 2007 My guess is that if there is an interest rate change, a cut is more likely than an increase. The key variables to be watching at this point are real estate prices and the inventory of unsold homes.
August 11, 2007 I suspect that within 6 months the Federal Reserve will be forced to lower interest rates before housing becomes a black hole.
September 11, 2007 It only means that the overall process has flaws guaranteeing it will be slow in responding to changes in the economy... and tend to over-react as a result.
September 18, 2007 I think a 4% rate is really what is needed to turn the economy back on the right course. The rate may not get there, but more cuts will be needed with employment rates down and foreclosure rates up.
October 25, 2007 How long will it be before I will be able to write: "The Federal Reserve lowered its lending rate to 4% in response to the collapse of the U.S. housing market and massive numbers of foreclosures that threaten the banking and mortgage sectors."
November 28, 2007 FED VICE CHAIRMAN DONALD KOHN
"Should the elevated turbulence persist, it would increase the possibility of further tightening in financial conditions for households and businesses," he said.

"Uncertainties about the economic outlook are unusually high right now," he said. "These uncertainties require flexible and pragmatic policymaking -- nimble is the adjective I used a few weeks ago."
http://www.reuters.com/

December 11, 2007 Somehow the Fed misses the obvious.
fed_rate_moves_425_small.gif
[Image from: CNNMoney.com]
December 13, 2007 [from The Christian Science Monitor]
"The odds of a recession are now above 50 percent," says Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Economy.com. "We are right on the edge of a recession in part because of the Fed's reluctance to reduce interest rates more aggressively." [see my comments of September 11]
January 7, 2008 The real problem now is that consumers can't rescue the economy and manufacturing, which is already weakening, will continue to weaken. We've gutted the forces that could avoid a downturn. The question is not whether there will be a recession, but can it be dampened sufficiently so that it is very short.
January 11, 2008 This is death by a thousand cuts.
January 13, 2008 [N.Y. Times]
“The question is not whether we will have a recession, but how deep and prolonged it will be,” said David Rosenberg, the chief North American economist at Merrill Lynch. “Even if the Fed’s moves are going to work, it will not show up until the later part of 2008 or 2009.
January 17, 2008 A few days ago, Anna Schwartz, nonagenarian economist, implicated the Federal Reserve as the cause of the present lending crisis [from the Telegraph - UK]:
The high priestess of US monetarism - a revered figure at the Fed - says the central bank is itself the chief cause of the credit bubble, and now seems stunned as the consequences of its own actions engulf the financial system. "The new group at the Fed is not equal to the problem that faces it," she says, daring to utter a thought that fellow critics mostly utter sotto voce.
January 22, 2008 The cut has become infected and a limb is in danger. Ben Bernanke is panicking and the Fed has its emergency triage team cutting rates... this time by 3/4%. ...

What should the Federal Reserve do now? Step back... and don't be so anxious to raise rates at the first sign of economic improvement.
Individuals and businesses need stability in their financial cost structures so that they can plan effectively and keep their ships afloat. Wildly fluctuating rates... regardless of what the absolute levels are... create problems. Either too much spending or too much fear. It's just not that difficult to comprehend. Why has it been so difficult for the Fed?

About Me

My photo
Michigan, United States
Air Force (SAC) captain 1968-72. Retired after 35 years of business and logistical planning, including running a small business. Two sons with advanced degrees; one with a business and pre-law degree. Beautiful wife who has put up with me for 4 decades. Education: B.A. (Sociology major; minors in philosopy, English literature, and German) M.S. Operations Management (like a mixture of an MBA with logistical planning)