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Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Abolish Synthetic Fibers

SEARCH BLOG: OIL

Since the Democrat controlled Senate is determined to push through legislation designed to reduce petroleum usage in automobiles [see previous post], it seems fair that other ubiquitous petroleum-based products should be curtailed.

So how about a ban on all petroleum-based fibers? We can all go back to cotton and wool or straw or grass. All renewable resources.

Petroleum-based clothing? Absolutely. With a few notable exceptions such as rayon, most synthetic fibers come from petrochemicals. Polyester and nylon fibers trace their origins back to the oil field. Athletic shoes can contain several petrochemical polymers in their soles and uppers: butadiene, polyurethane, polyethylene, and nylon, to name a few. Even buttons and zippers are made from hard polyester plastics. Many fabric dyes and fabric finishing products are petrochemicals too.

Petrochemical products are easy to find around the house. Plastic switchplate covers and the plastic insulation on electrical wiring are two obvious examples. But did you know that the acrylic latex and many of the solvents in house paint are made from petrochemicals? The polyvinyl chloride (PVC) pipe under the kitchen sink is a petrochemical too, as are the fibers in the carpet and the foam rubber cushions in the living room furniture.

Not everyone drives a car, but I'll bet virtually everyone has some petroleum-based clothing. Why does Nancy ignore that? Save the world; wear a cow!

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The Failure of the Marketplace

SEARCH BLOG: ECONOMY and ENERGY

It's official: General Motors and Ford Motor Company have decided that the marketplace will not be sufficient to move their product mixes toward more efficient vehicles and are supporting government action to force them to make more efficient vehicles.

All right, that's not exactly the case. It's like giving the Don his payment or receiving a pair of concrete shoes. Do I hear a third choice?
We've already seen the marketplace shift dramatically toward more fuel efficient vehicles, but this seems to be a case where legislators can claim to be heroes for saving our environment while automakers can point fingers at Congress when consumers see the prices for all of the new technology... and ask what happened to the performance they wanted. I guess it's a win-win.

I can just hear the conversations at Ford and GM.... We can do that, we can do that, we can do that... how the hell are we going to do that?
The folks at Cafe Hayek should be shouting about this one. Oh, they already have, but apparently no one in Washington is listening. Apparently those leading the charge in Congress don't believe in the marketplace and consumers making rational choices for themselves.
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Monday, July 30, 2007

Climate Policy

SEARCH BLOG: GLOBAL WARMING

Dr. Roger Pielke, Sr. at Colorado University
continues to try to make sense of the focus that scientists and governments have on CO2 and their lack of focus on more significant factors affecting our climate, environment and economies.

These talks, by otherwise outstanding experts within their specific fields, document that the focus on the role of humans within the climate system, unfortunately continues to ignore assessment reports such as

National Research Council, 2005: Radiative forcing of climate change: Expanding the concept and addressing uncertainties. Committee on Radiative Forcing Effects on Climate Change, Climate Research Committee, Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate, Division on Earth and Life Studies, The National Academies Press, Washington, D.C., 208 pp.

but rather focuses on CO2 [as] the dominate culprit in causing climate change. The presentations also emphasize, in terms of the remedies proposed, that the issue is energy policy not climate policy.

This, of course, is sub-optimization.

While I agree with Dr. Pielke, I think the issue is much larger than climate policy versus energy policy... either of which alone is a recipe for sub-optimization.

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Sunday, July 29, 2007

Unless It Is A Matter Of Honor

SEARCH BLOG: MUSLIM WOMEN

From Afghanistan
:

In his first comments since 23 Koreans were abducted on July 19, Karzai criticized the Taliban's kidnapping of "foreign guests," especially women, as contrary to the tenets of Islam and national traditions.

"The perpetration of this heinous act on our soil is in total contempt of our Islamic and Afghan values," Karzai told a South Korean envoy during a meeting at the presidential palace, according to a statement from his office.

Echoing Karzai's words, Afghanistan's national council of clerics said the Prophet Muhammad, the founder of Islam, taught that no one has the right to kill women.

"Even in the history of Afghanistan, in all its combat and fighting, Afghans respected women, children and elders," the council said. "The killing of women is against Islam, against the Afghan culture, and they shouldn't do it."

Now read yesterday's post.

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Saturday, July 28, 2007

Above All Else... Honor

SEARCH BLOG: MUSLIM WOMEN

Protecting one's honor has been the excuse for many heinous actions, but this has to be near the top of the list...

Woman raped before "honor killing"
That's like saying the dog had to be hanged because it wouldn't fight and that "dissed me."

One has to protect one's "good name"... if one had one....

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Friday, July 27, 2007

Social Responsibility

SEARCH BLOG: MORALITY

Often we are astounded by the outrageous positions of our "leaders." We wonder if they are laboring under a mistaken sense of "social responsibility." What I mean is that they believe it is their duty to "protect" everyone from "unfair" situations.

The problem is defining what is "unfair."
Yesterday, for example, I wrote about the judge's decision that illegal "residents"... that's a stretch... were protected from local ordinances that prohibited housing and employment as a result of the 14th Amendment which was established to protect Black citizens' rights. Somehow the distinction between citizen and interloper was lost.
Apparently, the judge felt that the interlopers have the same rights as citizens... because we have to be "socially responsible" to them. This is a judge who represents the same level of government [federal] that conveniently ignores its duty to enforce border security and the immigration and naturalization laws.
This is the same government that feels a "social responsibility" to mandate mileage requirements for cars and trucks while subsidizing ethanol production that creates inflationary pressures in the corn market, a basic staple of many poor, while actually decreasing the mileage efficiency of vehicles running on that fuel by 25%... and causing significant environmental damage from misuse of land never suitable for growing corn.... Can anyone find a better example of government "perfection" in applying its version of "social responsibility?"
The founding fathers of this country never intended the Constitution to be used as the basis for government intrusion into every action of our lives. It was intended to be a guiding principle for a country where the citizens could live in freedom from an overbearing government:
  • The state's manipulation of language for political ends. Obfuscation in naming is a favorite; e.g. WAR IS PEACE. The state's use of language is designed to reduce or eliminate ideas deemed dangerous to its authority.
  • Invasion of personal privacy by the state, whether physically or by means of surveillance.
  • The exercise of total state control in the daily life of citizens, as in a "Big Brother" society.
  • The state's encouragement of policies which contribute to the economic and social disintegration of the family.
  • The substitution of traditional religion with the adoration of the state and/or its leaders.
  • The state's encouragement of "doublethink," whereby the population must learn to embrace inconsistent concepts without dissent; e.g. giving liberty up for freedom. They are the same thing, hence doublethink.
  • The revision of history in the state's favor.
  • A dystopian future.
[source]
Unfortunately, that George's vision of the future seems to be more and more evident as the vision of the founding father George's disappears.

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Thursday, July 26, 2007

Constitutional Guarantees for Persons Illegally in the U.S.

SEARCH BLOG: CONSTITUTION

From the ACLU Pennsylvania website:

Judge Declares Hazleton Anti-Immigrant Ordinance Unconstitutional

7/26/07 - A federal judge struck down the Hazleton anti-immigrant ordinance today. In his 206-page opinion, Judge James Munely said, "Whatever frustrations officials of the City of Hazleton may feel about the current state of federal immigration enforcement, the nature of the political system in the United States prohibits the City from enacting ordinances that disrupt a carefully drawn federal statutory scheme. Even if federal law did not conflict with Hazleton's measures, the City could not enact an ordinance that violates rights the Constitution guarantees to every person in the United States, whether legal resident or not." A copy of the opinion can be found here(749k PDF).

I'm going to have to go back to re-read the part of the Constitution that covers "illegal residents" to see what it says.

Apparently, a city cannot " impose fines on landlords who rent to illegal immigrants and deny business permits to companies that give them jobs."

Oh, just what is that "carefully drawn federal statutory scheme" regarding "illegal residents?" I always thought it was deportation.

Read this.
I'd have to say that this kind of interpretation of the 14th Amendment would say that the Immigration and Naturalization process was unconstitutional.
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Reality Bites

SEARCH BLOG: ECONOMY

Recently I commented that Wall Street was up while the consumer supports were being removed... and that the given explanation was strong overseas earnings.

Well, what goes up...

Dow tumbles 300 points

Wall Street concerns about credit markets, housing sectors, and higher oil prices spark steep selloff.


By David Ellis, CNNMoney.com staff writer
July 26 2007: 12:53 PM EDT
It looks as if the financial markets may be in for a roller coaster ride for awhile.

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Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Charity Begins At Home

SEARCH BLOG: IRAN

Charities in the U.S. funnel millions... billions... of dollars to support special causes in nations around the world. Men, women, and children receive food, clothing, assistance of all types from these charities. Americans give because they believe it is the correct thing to help those less fortunate.

But sometimes things may not be as they seem
.

Federal agents raided two Shi'ite Muslim charities Tuesday in Dearborn, one of which the government said funneled money raised in the United States to Iran-backed terrorist groups in the Middle East.
Perhaps Ms. Schlussel was right all along.

For over a year, I've been asking why the FBI hasn't raided Al-Mabarat Charitable Organization-USA, Inc., the Dearbornistan charity that is openly raising money for Hezbollah and which is headed by Hezbollah Spiritual Leader Sheikh Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah.

But, today, just as I was asking that once again, the FBI was actually raiding Al-Mabarat, while it was also raiding Goodwill Charitable Organization and the Martyrs Foundation. Well, it's about time.

We'll have to wait to find out.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Neutralizing Explosives

SEARCH BLOG: IRAQ

With the spate of improvised explosive devices [IEDs] killing hundreds around Iraq, I wondered if there wasn't some form of technology that could neutralize these remotely-detonated bombs. Since some form of electronics are used, some form of counter-electronics should be a possible solution.

Here is one that has been suggested. If it is effective, I wonder how long it will take to deploy it?

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Google Analytics New Version

SEARCH BLOG: GOOGLE

Google has moved from the old to the new version of their website data analysis. I've commented previously about some of the likes and dislikes.

By and large, the information is pretty much there [except for domain information which can be useful]. In the auto industry, a company would take the same mechanicals and throw on a new grille, some trim and jazzy colors and call it a "freshening." You know, smoke and mirrors.

By and large, the new version is the smoke and mirrors update of the old version. Some things are easier and some are harder. Some, like the clunky bar charts for hourly information don't make much sense and are less visually informative than the multi-series line charts. Decoupling related information seems counterproductive and counterintuitive. But they're "new!"

The only thing I like much better than the old version is the customizable "dashboard." That's where you can get abbreviated reports and place them in any order you want on the high level entry page. Good stuff. The reports also have better formatting than the old version... by and large.

Still, I kind of wonder why Google went through all of the trouble for a simple "freshening" of the "sheet metal" which also included loss of some "optional equipment" [information].

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Monday, July 23, 2007

In Sickness or In Health

SEARCH BLOG: HEALTH CARE

Michael Moore's latest "documentary" entitled "Sicko," takes on the health care "problem" in the U.S.

In a country of 300,000,000 people, I have no doubt that one can easily find examples of:

  • ineffective health care
  • ineffective educational facilities
  • ineffective waste disposal
  • ineffective water treatment
  • ineffective soil conservation
  • ineffective legislators and government
  • ineffective child care providers
  • ineffective businesses
  • ineffective mothers and fathers
Would you like to add to the list?

Finding examples is easy. Finding the "perfect solution" based on some examples is not always so easy.

National health care has been tossed around for decades. We already have Medicare and the VA. Some industries are going broke providing health insurance for their employees while their overseas competitors offer employees nothing but low wages. We have a system that rewards and encourages doctors (but some lawyers would like to end that). We have people coming to the U.S. for treatment when their own countries provide "free, universal health coverage..." you just can't get actual treatment.

In statistics, you don't necessarily focus on the "outliers." The exceptions are not the rule. Trying to portray the exceptions as the rule may be stretching things a bit too far.

Now about those ineffective legislators and governments....

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Sunday, July 22, 2007

Solar Activity

SEARCH BLOG: GLOBAL WARMING

LuboŇ° Motl writes about the way that solar activity and earth's average temperature are related... while raising the same question that I have several times... where's the warming?

Except for a brief period in the 1990s, the past 50 years have been wholly unexceptional regarding new high temperature extremes... something that should be occurring with more regularity... and something that has not happened with any regularity in the past ten years in the U.S.




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Saturday, July 21, 2007

It's The Economy Stupid

SEARCH BLOG: ECONOMY and FEDERAL RESERVE

I've said for awhile that the Federal Reserve [aka Federal (banking) Protection Agency] is either living on another planet or is living on another planet.

While housing and manufacturing tank, the Fed continues to focus on the price of energy [a globally driven phenomenon] and the price of food [driven by energy and some global warming nonsense policies such as ethanol].
Now that the dollar is reflecting the reality of a decade of over-importing [dropping like a hard turd], we can expect goods [imported or manufactured with imported components] to increase in price... fueling the Fed's worry about inflation and keeping interest rates high... fueling further housing and manufacturing and employment problems.

It seems that the Fed is positioning the U.S. for another one of its famous recessional "cures."
Perhaps it is correct that the only cure for import-addiction is a recession where buying shuts down. But I see that a recession would only further hurt the U.S. worker, while businesses seek lower and lower priced goods, labor and services from cheaper and cheaper sources... hoping to keep their ships afloat after the crews have been abandoned.
From Econbrowser:

The concern is then how broad the financial ramifications would prove to be if we see high default rates outside of the subprime categories. But I think Bernanke is unlikely to follow DeLong's advice, because the Fed Chair is in the same box he's been in all along-- fears about rising inflation. Returning to Bernanke's statement:

Sizable increases in food and energy prices have boosted overall inflation and eroded real incomes in recent months--both unwelcome developments. As measured by changes in the price index for personal consumption expenditures (PCE inflation), inflation ran at an annual rate of 4.4 percent over the first five months of this year, a rate that, if maintained, would clearly be inconsistent with the objective of price stability.

Bernanke remains hopeful, however, that the slow growth will bring inflation down. He was notably cautious about that prediction, however, offering numerical forecasts only on core rather than total PCE inflation:

The central tendency of FOMC participants' forecasts for core PCE inflation--2 to 2-1/4 percent for 2007 and 1-3/4 to 2 percent in 2008--is unchanged from February. If energy prices level off as currently anticipated, overall inflation should slow to a pace close to that of core inflation in coming quarters.

Bernanke noted that such an anticipation is plausible, with

futures prices suggesting that investors expect energy and other commodity prices to flatten out.

But Bernanke is also well aware that these futures-based forecasts historically have a huge forecasting error, and no one can rule out a continuation of the recent surge in energy and food prices.

All of which leaves the Fed no alternative but to keep the target fed funds rate steady for now. But I share DeLong's big worries, and suspect that Bernanke must to some degree as well. 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.

Meanwhile, don't be fooled by the stock market's recent upsurge. Sooner or later, it will reflect reality.

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Friday, July 20, 2007

Giving Blood

SEARCH BLOG: HEALTH

I've written a few times about giving blood as a good thing to do. It doesn't cost you anything except your time and it may save someone's life... whether or not you like the Red Cross.

Today I learned that there may be another benefit. I'm a pretty fit guy for my age. Haven't even had a cold for 5 years. Good blood pressure and low pulse rate. Really can't complain much except the pate is thinning a bit. So I was surprised when my annual physical showed that I had a bit too much iron in my blood... kind of the opposite of being anemic. My response was "so what?"

Well I guess it can be a problem leading to other health problems. If you have a full blow condition called "hemochromatosis" you can end up with liver or heart failure as the iron builds up. I don't know that I have that since tests were done today to see what, if anything, is going on. But the specialist said that if I did have the condition, it was at the level that a 25-year old normally has it. He asked if I gave blood and I said fairly often. Then he said the treatment for hemochromatosis is removing blood on a regular basis... and that I may have been saving my life by saving someone elses.
I won't know for awhile if I have this peculiar problem, but it appears that the "cure" is really very simple and a "win-win" for all. Apparently, excess iron is something that can affect up to 25% of people as they age. Something worth knowing.

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Thursday, July 19, 2007

What Goes Up....

SEARCH BLOG: ECONOMY

Just an observation.

The DOW is up
.



Housing is down
.


For some time, the explanation for the strong market performance was consumer spending. Now there appears to be a consumer "circling of the wagons," but the DOW keeps going up. The explanation I've heard is that U.S. businesses are doing very well... overseas. The dollar is down and U.S. business are making a lot of money overseas... and that translates [exchanges?] into lots of cheap dollars.

So, let me see how this works. American consumers buy goods from U.S. companies who outsource production overseas and lay off American workers who then cannot afford to keep buying things like homes but the workers overseas make money and buy goods from American companies that make loads of money in terms of dollars because the dollars is getting to be worth less and less because American companies import goods and services for sale in the U.S. to consumers who need to buy inexpensive products because they are strapped financially because their jobs have been sent overseas.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

June Weather - Not Much

SEARCH BLOG: ENVIRONMENT

NOAA has published the June data for the U.S. California was dry; the rest of the U.S. was pretty much normal. We'll have to wait another month for the alarms to sound.



Again, all this shows is that getting excited about the occasional hot spell is much ado about nothing. Meanwhile South America is cold.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

An Energy Efficient Economy

SEARCH BLOG: ENERGY

I am an unbeliever... not one of the new faith... of course I'm talking about CO2-inspired global warming.... I am a believer in the value of an energy-efficient economy, however.

That said, I believe energy-efficient products are not necessarily economical products from consumers' perspectives. Why? The economic equation is not only the cost of operation, but also the cost of acquisition. Too often, the premium tacked on to a product because it sports an "Energy Star" label or uses an "alternative" energy source isn't justified by the energy operating savings.

But suppose we have the choice between two products that have different energy consumption curves and the more efficient product has a lifetime cost advantage over the less efficient product. Does that mean consumers will be rational and select the more energy efficient product? Of course, the answer is "not necessarily."

Cost is one aspect of a product decision. How about factors such as...
  • performance
  • convenience
  • aesthetics/design
  • serviceability
Suppose a manufacturer successfully developed a reliable, efficient, stunning-looking, hydrogen-powered car that was cheaper to own and operate over the lifetime of the vehicle than a conventional gasoline-powered car. And suppose the only two drawbacks were lack of filling stations and lack of qualified mechanics? What do you suppose the purchase decision would be? I mean for everyone other than Greenpeace members.

Sure, we can legislate production of certain products. We can legislate 35 mpg trucks.
We can give enormous tax incentives to purchase those trucks [everyone subsidizes everyone else so it doesn't cost anyone anything extra].
But I'm not sure that we can convince buyers that they really want underpowered, hybrid, Ranger-sized pickup trucks that are unsuitable for their needs. Hey, there are either physics or sleight-of-hand calculations here. I suppose if we say you have to have the "equivalent of 35 mpg gasoline" performance that would mean something different from "35 mpg if you use gasoline."
The latter is a giant loophole that says "we don't care whether your vehicle is energy efficient as long as you don't use petroleum products."

The former might be problematic.
That's the problem with mandating economic performance in the guise of energy-efficiency. You really have to have loopholes or you are just mandating problems.
I'd rather be on the lookout for products that actually save energy and money while improving performance. Those products are out there... and the marketplace recognizes that they are winners... not just someone else's favorites.
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Monday, July 16, 2007

Iraq - What's To Be Done

SEARCH BLOG: IRAQ

I've had the opportunity to talk with a couple of Iraqi expatriates who live in the U.S., but have family in the Baghdad area.

They each have their own opinion about what should be done there [not necessarily agreement], but both are adamant that the U.S. must maintain a troop presence or there will be unbelievable killing and cruelty following a quick withdrawal. They wanted to know what I thought would happen if the Democrats took the White House.

So, I asked a couple of questions. How long did the U.S. keep troops in Germany after WWII? [hint: 60+ years] How long did the U.S. keep troops in Korea after the Korean war? [hint: 50+ years]

I believe that despite the political rhetoric from the Democrats, they know that if they withdrew U.S. troops and it was followed by a bloodbath in Iraq and escalated terrorism elsewhere... including the U.S. ... that they would be totally discredited regarding anything to do with anti-terrorism and national security.

In fact, I think some Republicans may secretly wish for Hillary to become president knowing it would be a disastrous no-win situation for her. If she keeps troops in, but is not effective in ending the conflict, she will alienate her own party. If she withdraws troops quickly and all hell breaks loose in Iraq, she will be seen as the president who was soft on terror. What she won't do is be aggressive in going after the people who are causing the problems because that would be too much like George Bush.
Then I asked the Iraqi expatriates what their solutions were.
One said to carpet bomb any area where there were terrorists. I pointed out that was rather drastic since many innocent people would be killed. He answered that they will be killed anyway. I believe his frustration was showing through clearly.

The other was not ready to answer, so I have an open invitation to publish that person's position here. Of course, it will have to be done with strict anonymity to protect family members still in Iraq.
My own feeling is this: the "insurgents" are largely financed, supported, or manned by Iran, Syria, and Palestine [sure, that nebulous al Qaeda, too]. We already know that Iran has training bases and supplies munitions.

It is time to move the battleground with specific actions using nothing more than cruise missiles... no troops:
  • Act against specific targets in Iran and Syria where support actions for "insurgents" have been verified... no warnings necessary since enough has been said already.
  • Let Iran know that if they do not act to remove "insurgents" who are attacking civilians in Iraq, their own cities will be subject to actions that will cripple their infrastructure... specifically, I would advocate the use of small EMP devices that destroy all electrical and electronic devices in an area without harming people. The number of such devices used would depend on the continuation or cessation of "insurgent" attacks on the Iraqi population. The targets would be areas where Iranian and Syrian government facilities are concentrated.
  • Let Syria know that they will be next if they do not cease supplying sanctuary and weapons.
I know, I know... we can't do that! Just because Iran is supplying training and weapons for those who are killing U.S. soldiers, we can't attack them. That would be... would be... un-State Department! Just because Syria is providing "insurgents" weapons and sanctuary from which to move in an out of Iraq, we can't attack them. That would be... would be... un-UN!

Okay, never mind. Let's let Hillary figure it out... sure.

Meanwhile, I'll wait to hear from those Iraqi expatriates.

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Sunday, July 15, 2007

Sub-Optimizing

SEARCH BLOG: SUB-OPTIMIZE

The concept of sub-optimization describes a very old practice: making sure what you are interesting in is taken care of at the expense of everything else.

The study of climate was a rather arcane area of science relegated to those who were fascinated by weather and geological studies. Then the alarm bells sounded: CO2 was going to make earth uninhabitable. That made a great story and newspapers and television and the internet began to crawl with all of the horror tales... doom was upon us. Billions of dollars began to pour into climate studies. Every political and environmental special interest began to claim that they had the answers to save us. Governments were ready to pass laws!

Climate science = CO2 abatement
Except that Climate Science has become a forum for scientists who say, "Wait a minute!" How about looking at the facts? For example, did you know that agriculture has much more impact on our climate than CO2 could ever achieve?
Minor issue... let's keep our focus on CO2. That's where the money is.
See, if your interest is funding, then you are willing to sub-optimize an entire discipline of science to promote your position. There's gold in doing so.
How about those studies funded by industry? A great come-back! A few million dollars in private funding versus billions in government funding.
Sure, but we can't trust private funding. The results always are tainted.
Yes, we can always trust the government... and those seeking government funding....
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Friday, July 13, 2007

Not New News

SEARCH BLOG: SALES TAX and CURRENCY MANIPULATION

Two headlines caught my eye in the paper this morning:

Starting in May, 2005, I wrote about currency manipulation and its impact on U.S. industries. I made these points in November, 2005:
1) These countries are not "making their own country poorer" through their actions... they are systematically undermining U.S. industrial capabilities

2) Trade barriers take many forms from inspection of individual vehicles verses certification of an entire model (a practice used by Japan to make importation of U.S. vehicles virtually impossible), to tariffs, to currency manipulation, to worker and environmental abuse. If such practices so hurt China, how is it that they have been so successful at creating wealth?
For the last 3 years, I have written about how the 6% sales tax on gasoline has become an increasing revenue windfall for the state.

Its all old news.

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Thursday, July 12, 2007

Faith of Their Fathers

SEARCH BLOG: BELIEF

To the nominally religious or agnostics or atheists, the thought processes of the devout are often viewed as irrational... at best. But that is because faith is a matter of accepting beliefs that defy proof. Belief is a matter of "knowing" rather than "proving." Our fathers held these beliefs and their fathers before them for a hundred generations. Therefore, no proof is needed.

But what happens when beliefs conflict?

Within the population of believers of a religion, there may are often subtle differences that erupt into major conflict... or become the excuse for underlying power plays.

Islam has its Sunni-Shia split; Christianity has its Catholic-Protestant split.
Then there are the religion to religion differences and conflicts.
Jews and Christians; Christians and Muslims; Muslims and Jews... continuous conflicts.
Call it territoriality or call it defending beliefs, it boils down to the fact that humans have this need to be right... to own the truth... to have the high ground... to be superior to those not like them.
And religion is the ideal vehicle for being superior to others... the obvious, perfect, unprovable, faith of our fathers.
And so it goes.

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Wednesday, July 11, 2007

New Jersey Not Like California

SEARCH BLOG: ENERGY

Windmill farms may be good for the scrub mountain sides of California, but the East Coasters don't seem to take kindly to the idea.

Last year, the Kennedys and other elites in Cape Cod shot at the idea of an Atlantic ocean windmill farm expansion. Now a New Jersy township is putting the brakes on a single windmill because it is too big at a total of 40' tall... smaller than the rotor blades on the windmill farms.

I agree with the township. Pretty soon the whole place would be filled with these rotating, strobe simulating, bird-bashing, noise-making eyesores.
How about a township ordinance that requires solar panels on all of the roofs. These would generate electricity and heat water. Of course they might blind any pilots who happen to look down on a sunny day, but that's a minor risk. Hundreds of thousands of dead batteries headed to the landfill after a few years... but that's a minor inconvenience.

Why do there always have to be downsides?

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Mexican Birth Rate Plummets

SEARCH BLOG: IMMIGRATION

My oldest son, Steven, sent me this article link.

There has been a stunning decline in the fertility rate in Mexico, which means that, in a few years, there will not be nearly as many teenagers in Mexico looking for work in the United States or anywhere else. If this trend in the fertility rate continues, Mexico will resemble Japan and Italy—rapidly aging populations with too few young workers to support the economy.
Maybe... but it's too late for California. It got the current excess. Of course, it's not really apparent to me that the illegals are just teenagers "looking for work." Okay, let's not get picky.

But wait, there's more.... Since the Mexican government has encouraged their poor and criminal to migrate northward and now will not have enough people, the AARP [or someone] is encouraging older and wealthier Americans to migrate to Mexico where they won't have to deal with the U.S. social issues related to the current Mexican migration.
It may cause social problems in Mexico. All of those rich, old American men chasing the few remaining fertile young Mexican women and enticing them with wads of cash.... There goes the rest of the Mexican birthrate. Soon the illegals in the U.S. will have to return to Mexico just to prevent an American takeover.

Will there be amnesty for those retired Americans? Check Fox News for The Big Story.
Maybe not.

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Tuesday, July 10, 2007

California, Power Plants, and Automobiles

SEARCH BLOG: ENVIRONMENT and UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES

While California's top women politicians, Nancy Pelosi and Barbara Boxer, are busy attacking the automobile industry as their public posturing for saving the planet, California is facing the prospect of electric power shortages because of the lack of new power generating plants.

Meanwhile, Ford and Southern California Edison are teaming up to develop new "plug-in" hybrids. Of course, one can envision the impact that millions of plug-in cars might have on the electric power demands for southern California.

SC Edison is already under a mandate to build 5 new electricity generating power plants to cope with peak demand.

So, here is a question: will these be nuclear power plants, solar power plants or wind power plants?
Certainly, Ms. Pelosi and Ms. Boxer will fight any effort to use fossil fuel plants that contribute to more CO2... won't they? Or will they conveniently ignore their "mandate" when it comes to their home state?
Maybe they will get their "carbon offsets" by mandating 50 mpg cars and trucks... put the onus elsewhere... again, eh?
To be fair, the plug-in hybrids will, for the most part, use electricity from off-peak hours... initially. But if this technology takes off, one can envision a sea of plug in posts all over southern California demanding more of that fossil-fuel generated electricity.
Kind of poetic justice that an automobile company is working with a California electric company to meet the demands of California politicians and causing further problems for an electric power starved state.
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Monday, July 09, 2007

Warm Here... Not There

SEARCH BLOG: GLOBAL WARMING

We all tend to be somewhat provincial in our perspective. I'll fess up to that sin. So when we talk about global phenomenon, we tend to localize around our locale.

So, as I took my walk around the subdivision with the temperature hovering around 90 F, I wasn't really thinking that somewhere else someone else was walking around in subzero temperatures.

Well, they were.

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Busy

SEARCH BLOG: FAMILY

With all of the guests and celebrations, it's been a bit hectic... especially trying to run a business as well. Most of today was spent on contracts and accounting... borrrrrrring.

I've got a few items to discuss, but need a bit of time.

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Sunday, July 08, 2007

Compassion and Chaos

SEARCH BLOG: IMMIGRATION

As I read arguments for a "do over" for the millions of persons who have entered the U.S. illegally, it is obvious that, aside from government officials who have their own agendas, the average U.S. citizen supporting this approach is doing so from heartfelt compassion.

The U.S. has a history of, indeed a tradition, of accepting those who have suffered political oppression or are simply seeking a "do over" in their lives. And for a couple of hundred years, the U.S. has maintained a process that has brought millions of people legally to our shores... in a relatively orderly fashion.
So why the opposition to the 10-15 million (or whatever the real number is) of people who have simply bypassed the legal process and entered the U.S. because they wanted to, even if is was illegally? So what if they have decided that waiting their turn is not in their best interests? So what if they have created social and financial problems for our communities? So what if there are others who have gone through the process of getting a "green card" or immigrated legally?
These 10-15 million people deserve a "do over" because they are here now. Right? It is our tradition to accept anyone who reaches landfall. We do it for the Cubans who build rickety rafts to escape Castro, so why not Mexicans who are attempting to escape the ... who is the dictator of Mexico, anyway?
Okay, so maybe political asylum isn't the issue here. Well, we have a tradition. Apparently, that supersedes law.

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Illegal Aliens - Victimless Crime

SEARCH BLOG: IMMIGRATION

There is a post at Cafe Hayek about immigration. The comments are in the dozens with some mighty verbal blows being exchanged.

Part of my last comment there included this:

This is not "victimless" as you proposed and has been refuted by several commentors. You may not feel personally victimized, but when the basic concept of the rule of law is so blatantly ignored, our society's very foundation is victimized.

This is not a philosophical moot point. It is the essence of our cooperative and democratic processes that we follow the laws that the majority has passed as long as they are constitutional. There is nothing in our history that says we should give free passes on occasion, just because it happens to be convenient for government officials.

Strange that the other "victimless" crime doesn't get free passes.

I guess sex is more dangerous to our society than foreigners coming into our country without following processes designed to keep out criminals and those seeking to destroy us or flooding our country with millions who may contribute menial labor while creating strains on major community social services and systems.

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Saturday, July 07, 2007

Gulf Stream Shuts Down - So What?

SEARCH BLOG: GLOBAL WARMING

Via Dr. John Ray, Australia

It is long time that the Gulf Stream-European climate myth was resigned to the graveyard of defunct misconceptions along with the Earth being flat and the sun going around the Earth. In its place we need serious assessments of how changes in ocean circulation will impact climate change and a new look at the problem of abrupt climate change that gives the tropical climate system and the atmosphere their due as the primary drivers of regional climates around the world.

This falls under the heading: "I didn't know that."

Read the full article here.

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More On Weather Stations and Urban Heat Islands

SEARCH BLOG: URBAN HEAT

Climate Science published access to a study of weather monitoring stations in Indiana that shows similar problems with station siting discussed by Anthony Watts.

Also see this and this.

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Situation Normal

SEARCH BLOG: WEATHER


[click for larger view]

Looks about average:

Sat +5
Sun +11
Mon +3
Tue -3
Wed -2
Thu -7
Fri -8
Sat -6
Sun 0

Total variance = -7
Average variance = -0.78

Friday, July 06, 2007

Calling Home

SEARCH BLOG: TERRORISM

I have wondered about the ability of al Qaeda, et al, to use cell phones to trigger car bombs.

Certainly, there must be the technology available to send out random call signals to all cell phones. Any phone rigged to a bomb would detonate the bomb at a time an place not of the maker's choosing... such as when they are driving the car or have it parked in their garage awaiting deployment. Of course, it would be more effective if the phones could be turned on remotely... something requiring a chip design change, I presume.

The thing about cell phones is that they are so reliable that terrorists can count on them as a detonation device that they can control. Inserting some randomness into the equation could force a change in thinking. Iraq could be a testing ground.

Sure, some bugs in the plan, but it could be worked out.

Meanwhile... at The New Republic....

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Coyote Ugly - Not

SEARCH BLOG: GLOBAL WARMING

Warren, over at www.coyoteblog.com, has pulled together a pretty impressive tome designed for the non-scientist to get a more in-depth understanding of climatology and the sciences related to it.

You can download it or purchase a bound version of it.

Good work, Warren.

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Thursday, July 05, 2007

European Backlash - Step 4

SEARCH BLOG: IMMIGRATION and MUSLIM

The impatience of the Muslim extremists in Europe is going to be their undoing.

They actually believe that they can conduct an effective campaign of terror in Europe. Just the suggestion of Muslim extremism gaining momentum in France has resulted in France inviting Muslims to leave.

The bombing attempts in Great Britain, the haven of political dissidents, is creating a very angry groundswell against Muslims in this generally tolerant nation... so much so that officials have to warn that they will take action against those who might threaten or offend Muslims. What will happen is that these Islamist extremists will be successful in killing a few hundred people in some spectacular bombing... and then officials will be put on the defensive and be forced by the people to "crack down."

Why are the Islamists impatient? Because they know that their days are numbered.

They know that without some spectacular successes... that have the remote possibility of coalescing Muslims into a strong political force pushing Europe into Neville Chamberlain type of concessions... Europe is going to become increasingly inhospitable toward this cultural invasion that refuses to assimilate.
Post cold-war Europe is enjoying peace and really doesn't want to have another prolonged face-off as it did with the Soviet Bloc. The impatient Islamists are forcing European nations to recognize that they have no choice. Once this recognition is widespread, the cultural cold war will have moved to the next level.

Expect more Muslims to be "dis-invited"... and the borders closed to any significant immigration from Muslim countries. More al-Qaeda doctors need not apply... and "political asylum" for car-bombing enthusiasts will be severely curtailed.

Somehow, the jobs will be filled with native citizens of the European countries.

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Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Independence Day

SEARCH BLOG: HOLIDAYS and GOVERNMENT

Caution: This document contains politically incorrect material and may be subject to neglect and condemnation by members of the ruling elite.

IN CONGRESS, JULY 4, 1776
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

John Hancock

New Hampshire:
Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, Matthew Thornton

Massachusetts:
John Hancock, Samuel Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry

Rhode Island:
Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery

Connecticut:
Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott

New York:
William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris

New Jersey:
Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark

Pennsylvania:
Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross

Delaware:
Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas McKean

Maryland:
Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll of Carrollton

Virginia:
George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton

North Carolina:
William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn

South Carolina:
Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Thomas Lynch, Jr., Arthur Middleton

Georgia:
Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton


[Source]

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Celebrations - Part 3

SEARCH BLOG: FAMILY

Only 39 years to go for my second son and daughter-in-law before they can celebrate their 40th as my wife and I just did.

Congratulations.

Now, just one more birthday and the celebration marathon is over for this summer.

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Monday, July 02, 2007

More On Temperature Extremes

SEARCH BLOG: GLOBAL WARMING

I've posted many things about extreme temperatures and how, in the U.S., the records don't support the contention that things are getting hotter. You can look at the data by downloading a file (link on the right sidebar).

Another researcher's work in that arena is cited at Climate Science. Specifically, he states:

Greenhouse gas theory says warming should be largest in the middle to upper troposphere. Thus, daytime maximum temperatures should be much better for detecting and simulating this heat accumulation in the atmosphere.

This post has really piqued the ire of Dr. Schmidt at Real Climate.

Also, over at ICECAP, a meteorologist, Peter McGurk, has taken the work I did and extended the analysis. Although he calls me "Gary Hall" and this blog "Hall of Fame", I don't take offense and you might find his work of interest.

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Sunday, July 01, 2007

40 Years

SEARCH BLOG: FAMILY

Today... celebrating 40 years with this beautiful woman.



Can't get much better.

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Blog Archive

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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

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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)