Thursday, July 31, 2008

Oil Leases - Use It Or Lose It


From Rep. John Boehner's website:


“In an effort to compel oil and gas companies to produce on the 68 million acres of federal lands, both onshore and offshore, that are leased but sitting idle, House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Nick J. Rahall (D-WV) today introduced legislation that gives Big Oil one option - either ‘use it or lose it.’” (Release, 6/12/08)

THE FACTS: “Use It or Lose It” is already the law of the land.

• The Secretary of the Interior ALREADY can “cancel” a lease if the lessee “fails to comply” with the law, regulations or the terms of the lease.

• The Law on Cancelling Leases: According to Title 30, Subsection 188(a) and (b) of the United States Code, “any lease … may be forfeited and canceled … whenever the lessee fails to comply with any provisions of this chapter, of the lease, or of the general regulations … Any lease … shall be subject to cancellation by the Secretary of the Interior after 30 days notice upon failure of the lessee to comply with any of the provisions of the lease….”
So what was Nancy Pelosi proposing?
Responsible Federal Oil and Gas Lease Act

On June 26, the House voted on the Responsible Federal Oil and Gas Lease Act, the "Use It or Lose It" bill (H.R. 6251). This legislation will compel the oil industry to start drilling on the 68 million acres which they are currently warehousing or be barred from obtaining any more federal drilling leases until they demonstrate that they are diligently developing those lands. While 223 Members voted for the bill, it failed to get the two-thirds support necessary for passage.

Details of the bill:

  • The “Responsible Federal Oil and Gas Lease Act of 2008” would bar companies from obtaining any more federal leases for drilling onshore or on the Outer Continental Shelf, unless they can demonstrate that they are producing oil and gas from the leases they already hold or are in the process of diligently developing the leases they already hold. The bill directs the Interior Secretary to define “diligent development.”
  • This bill gives companies an incentive to relinquishing their non-producing leases, creating an opportunity for another company to explore for and perhaps produce oil or gas from them. Under the bill, the terms of leases which are in production, or which can demonstrate diligent development, are extended.
  • For nearly 30 years, companies that lease federal coal resources have been required by law to diligently develop their leases. This requirement has discouraged the rampant speculation that once existed in the federal coal leasing program.
Is she saying that we need a law to force enforcement of a law? Is that like needing an immigration law to force enforcement of immigration laws?

What does John Boehner say about all of those "unused" leases?
MYTH: Oil companies are sitting on 68 million acres of federal lands without drilling for oil or gas on any of it.

FACT: This false claim has become one of the Democrats’ top talking points, but they can’t back it up with any facts. Energy companies already are actively exploring their currently-leased lands to find oil or gas. Once they determine that oil or gas is present, only then can they actually begin drilling. The entire process can take years.

As the independent American Association of Petroleum Geologists noted in a letter to House leaders yesterday, “[O]il and natural gas exploration is not simple and it is not easy. It requires geological ingenuity, advanced technologies, and the time to do the job right. It also requires access to areas where exploration ideas can be tested – the greater the number of areas available for exploration, the higher the chance of finding oil and natural gas traps.” In other words, energy companies cannot be expected to drill on every acre of land every single day.
What does John Boehner propose?
“House Republicans have a plan to help lower gas prices by supporting more production of American energy, encouraging more conservation and efficiency, and promoting greater use of alternative fuels. Today, we’ve transformed our plan into a single bill that reflects our ‘all of the above’ strategy. We have only nine days remaining before the August recess, and it’s time for Speaker Pelosi to bring this bill to the floor so Members on both sides of the aisle can give it the support we all know it would receive.
To which Nancy and Harry have politely responded: "Screw you!"

Nothing to look at here, folks. No, no substance. Ignore the haze.


Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Mandate For Congress


I sent the following to Sen. Carl Levin's senate website:

I would like to see Congress exhibit good faith in its concern about CO2 limitation in two straightforward ways:
1. mandate that all official government [non-military] vehicles average 35 mpg by 2015

2. mandate that all government facilities be converted to geothermal heating and cooling by 2020
These both are achievable goals and would show that government officials are willing to live with the consequences of their own policies.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Too Much Headlight


From Science Daily; 2001

Study Shows High-Intensity-Discharge Headlights Improve Night Visibility

ScienceDaily (July 2, 2001) — TROY, N.Y. - Researchers at the Lighting Research Center (LRC) at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute report that HID (high-intensity-discharge) headlights enable drivers to see more effectively at night than conventional tungsten-halogen lights.

The LRC study has recently been featured in USA Today and on the NBC Nightly News.

Based on field experiments in which drivers responded to objects in their field of vision while using both sorts of lighting, LRC researchers concluded that drivers using HIDs were better at "detecting edge-of-roadway hazards, such as pedestrians and animals."

From the British Journal of Medicine; 2003:
British Journal of Ophthalmology 2003;87:113-117
© 2003 BMJ Publishing Group

Why HID headlights bother older drivers
M A Mainster
, G T Timberlake

Department of Ophthalmology, University of Kansas Medical Center, 3901 Rainbow Boulevard, Kansas City, KS 66160-7379, USA

Correspondence to:
Martin A Mainster, PhD, MD, Department of Ophthalmology, University of Kansas Medical Center, 3901 Rainbow Boulevard, Kansas City, KS 66160-7379, USA;

Driving requires effective coordination of visual, motor, and cognitive skills. Visual skills are pushed to their limit at night by decreased illumination and by disabling glare from oncoming headlights. High intensity discharge (HID) headlamps project light farther down roads, improving their owner’s driving safety by increasing the time available for reaction to potential problems. Glare is proportional to headlamp brightness, however, so increasing headlamp brightness also increases potential glare for oncoming drivers, particularly on curving two lane roads. This problem is worse for older drivers because of their increased intraocular light scattering, glare sensitivity, and photostress recovery time. An analysis of automobile headlights, intraocular stray light, glare, and night driving shows that brightness rather than blueness is the primary reason for the visual problems that HID headlights can cause for older drivers who confront them. The increased light projected by HID headlights is potentially valuable, but serious questions remain regarding how and where it should be projected.

Not much has changed since these studies were made. Many luxury cars including high-riding SUVs use these headlight systems. The question is whether or not they really help the driver of the vehicle with the HID system as much as they distract other drivers who are being tailgated by them or drastically reduce the vision of on-coming drivers. I suspect that most drivers really don't believe HIDs are appropriately placed or directed in SUVs and trucks.

My own feeling is that there should be a sensing system on the back of all vehicles that turn on the backup lights whenever too much light is directed at the sensors... whether from high beams or HIDs that are too close. That would be an effective signal to either back off or pass.
If you insist of trying to distract others with your misaimed, misaligned, misplaced, HID headlights, you should be informed that your efforts are working... with an appropriate message.
As far as on-coming vehicles are concerned, old-fashioned high beams are a good signal, too. I use them on my F-250, as appropriate.


Monday, July 28, 2008

Cars You Won't See In The U.S.


There are national politics and corporate politics. Sometimes, they work together to prevent anything from actually happening. For example, the U.S. government has its own set of regulations for vehicles and the European nations another set. You can make a car that is perfectly acceptable in Europe and it will draw millions of dollars in fines if you import it to the U.S.

Large U.S. automobile corporations are focused on the bottom line. If it takes several hundred dollars to convert a small European sedan for the U.S. market, conventional corporate wisdom is to build something different that is designed specifically for the U.S. market. So, you get two automobile companies under one banner with limited sharing. It is also great for "empire builders" within these corporations.

Under Alan Mulally, Ford's CEO since September of 2006, this may change. Vehicles from Europe won't actually be imported from Europe. They will be built somewhere in North America. The first of the cars may be a small vehicle that will replace the present Focus... a competent, but unexciting vehicle.

Still, I wouldn't hold my breath to see these coming to the U.S.:

click image for source

Ford Europe released the latest on its redesigned Mondeo, which premiered in lights of lime during last year's Bond vehicle "Casino Real." It played an airport rental car, which won't necessarily different from the real European Mondeo. But the first manifestation of Ford Europe's "kinetic design" language is too well designed to be relegated to rental hell. It's debuting in Geneva in four-door, five-door and wagon models, ahead of sale this June.

2008 Ford Mondeo

[maybe it will show up as a new "Taurus"]
I'm sure Mr. Mulally would love to bring in many European models into a U.S. marketplace that is rapidly changing toward vehicles the Europeans have.
He'd probably start today... if the U.S. government started thinking globally as well.
Of course, some of those wouldn't sell here anyway because they have small, efficient, powerful, turbo-diesel engines... and the government has helped ensure a shortage of diesel refining capacity... or haven't you noticed that once-cheap diesel now sells for about a 20% premium over gasoline?
The government wants you to conserve fuel... and makes that as difficult as possible.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Elderly Parent Care`


I mentioned this before, but now that we've moved our mother into a beautiful retirement community facility in Orlando, Florida, I thought it might be worth sharing with you.

Our mother is in her 90s and in reasonably good health. She has an apartment in the "independent living" facility. In the future, should it become necessary, she can be moved to "assisted living" or "nursing care."

Like many other older people, she was determined to be independent.

But that gradually came to mean being increasingly isolated and inactive in her old home.
Regardless, it took quite a bit of convincing that moving into this facility was a good move for her... especially since this would be only her third move during her lifetime. But after seeing the facility and meeting the staff and many residents, she became enthusiastic about the idea.

It took several months to sell her home even though it was in a very desirable area. She got a little less than she wanted for her home, but we pointed out that it was enough to live on and we didn't need an inheritance based on her living alone during her last years. My wife and I had taken on the responsibility of managing all of the research, home sale, and contract with the retirement community. So, my younger brother spent a week handling the physical move. He returned last night... tired, but triumphant.`

When I spoke with her last, mother was excited about the Wii bowling schedule. She had tried it during a visit to Michigan and loved it... especially since she had to give up regular bowling a few years back.

This is a win-win for all involved. If I'm around in 20 years, I'll be looking into this for my wife and me.


Saturday, July 26, 2008

Try To Figure This One Out


This is all over the news [example here]:

(AP) A woman prosecutors say helped make a graphic videotape of her two visiting grandchildren has pleaded guilty in a Texas child pornography case.

The U.S. attorney's office said Friday that 51-year-old Denise Ward of Overland Park, Kan., pleaded to coerced sexual activity.

Ward was living in Texas' Harrison County in May 2000, when she is accused of helping produce a tape in which her grandchildren were photographed nude.

The children were 10 and 11 at the time. Prosecutors say the parents were not aware of the videotaping.

The U.S. attorney's office says Ward entered her plea Thursday in federal court in Marshall.

She remains in custody and faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine when sentenced.
Now, let's do the math:
  • Ms. Ward is now 51
  • The offense took place in 2000, so we'll presume she was 43 at the time
  • The grandchildren were 10 and 11 years old at the time
  • Ergo, the Ms. Ward became a grandmother when she was 32-years old
Repeat after me... this is one of the more stupid people in the world... and is more proof that stupidity has its own rewards.
And I'd have to say that her daughter probably learned everything she knows from her mother. [well, do the math!]

Friday, July 25, 2008

Cost of Gasoline Ousts Politicians


The other day I wrote that:

Oil prices dropped below $125 per barrel on news that supply is up and demand is down.
Congress, however, is doing everything it can to ensure that supply stays as tight as possible. Maybe certain Congress-persons are trying to get the populace angry at President Bush by somehow blaming him for Congress' malfeasance. Won't work. Too transparent.

The marketplace will work... if Congress gets out of the way.
Prediction: the Democrat party will be very disappointed after the November elections.
Now from Scotland via Benny Peiser:

The Times, 25 July 2008

Angus Macleod, Scottish Political Editor

No-one can possibly underestimate the scale of the disaster which hit Gordon Brown and the Labour Party in the Glasgow East constituency in the early hours of this morning.

Here was a seat which has been a fortress for Labour in Scotland where Labour did not so much count their votes as weigh them. And yet, they saw their 13,507 majority overturned by a triumphant Scottish National Party (SNP).

The shock of this result casts another huge pall of gloom over the Prime Minister as he goes on his annual holiday. It raises massive questions about his continued leadership of the Labour Party.

Backbench MPs will have to face the fact that the Glasgow East result, after a similar by-election disaster in Crewe and Nantwich in May, makes Mr Brown look like very damaged goods as their leader. They must now ask themselves if they can possibly win a general election under Mr Brown and the Prime Minister's Cabinet colleagues will no doubt be asking the same question.

The major concerns for many households in one of the most deprived areas of Britain were the rising cost of fuel and food, the ongoing rate of street crime and the whole issue of law and order generally. But voters were obviously angry at the non-appearance of Mr Brown in the constituency during the by-election. Labour also suffered from the refusal of their first choice candidate to accept the nomination and that Margaret Curran was a 4th choice...

This may have been a protest vote by people in Glasgow East fed up with rises in the cost of living. But it also showed that Labour's core support in Scotland is also now so thoroughly fed up with Labour that they think nothing of voting for the party's main political enemy in order to teach it a lesson.

Copyright 2008, The Times
Mr. Brown was more intent on delivering action on his global warming ideology than addressing the real concerns of his constituents. Are you listening, Nancy and Harry?


Glasses That Are Almost What I Want


I wanted to get some prescription, polarized, glass-lens, variable-darkening sunglasses. After my annual trip to the opthamologist, I used the store in his facility to see what might be available.

Let's step back a little. I use glasses for two primary purposes... driving and golfing. I can get by without them most of the time due to a natural "monocular" vision. One eye works perfectly for reading and is dominant up close. The other eye is dominant for distance. As the technician at the doctor's office explained, if I were to get contacts, that's exactly the way they would be prescribed.

I've never had a lot of luck with plastic lenses, so I really wanted glass. The problem is that I also wanted the variable darkening feature... transitions. You can't get there from here. I found the perfect pair from Maui Jim... except they were monochromatic.
That meant I would be switching from those to clear as conditions darkened. Not what I had in mind.

The store manager finally said that I would just have to be a little more careful with my glasses and that she had what I wanted... in plastic. I tried on a demo pair and had to admit that they were pretty good. My wife was with me and tried to be encouraging at any sign of my acceptance of any product, so she gave me a big smile and said we should pick the frames.

I expect my new pair of Drivewear plastics... glasses... in a day or so. They come with a list of don'ts for cleaning the lenses. Hopefully, I can follow them when I am golfing or boating or fishing. Driving should be less of a problem.

I'll see... hopefully well.


Thursday, July 24, 2008

Panic buying as petrol hits $4.17 a litre


As much as U.S. drivers anguish over $4 per gallon gasoline, just think what it must be like in England where the price is more than $4 per litre.


If Congress Got Out Of The Way


Oil prices dropped below $125 per barrel on news that supply is up and demand is down.

Congress, however, is doing everything it can to ensure that supply stays as tight as possible. Maybe certain Congress-persons are trying to get the populace angry at President Bush by somehow blaming him for Congress' malfeasance. Won't work. Too transparent.

The marketplace will work... if Congress gets out of the way.
Prediction: the Democrat party will be very disappointed after the November elections.


Only Proves The Old Saying...


SYDNEY (Reuters) - An Australian man's dare went horribly wrong when he tried to play chicken with cars on a freeway wearing only his underwear. The 18 year old was critically injured after being hit by a four-wheel drive on a freeway in the southern city of Melbourne in the early hours of Wednesday, police said in a statement.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008



The price of oil has dropped nearly $20 a barrel from its high point a few weeks ago. Suppose that trend continues and so-called speculators are stuck holding some very expensive contracts. Do you suppose the government will bail them out... like the large mortgage speculators?


You Deserve To Know


From Jihad Watch:

An Islamic group plans to blitz 1,000 subway cars with advertisements this September in a campaign being promoted by a Brooklyn imam whom federal officials have linked to a plot to blow up city landmarks.
The group says its mission is to explain the true nature of Islam to non-Muslims who believe the religion is bent on acts of violence - but Siraj Wahhaj, the inflammatory imam who appears in a promotional YouTube video for the project, has defended convicted bomb-plotters and called the FBI and CIA the "real terrorists."

... Timed to run during the month of Ramadan, the ads come in pairs, reading "Q: Prophet Muhammad?" or "Q: Islam?" and the corresponding answer is always "A: You deserve to know."
Here is an advance copy of one ad:


Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Florida Warranty Scam?


My mother-in-law, who is in her 80s, asked to speak with me after a long phone conversation with my wife. She had received a telephone call from someone claiming to be selling extended warranties for her leased car. I figured this had to be a scam for the following:

  • She has a 2-year lease
  • The vehicle has less than 6,000 miles on it
  • The warranty covers 3 years and 50,ooo miles
Although she didn't know the name of the company who keeps calling, the correct answer is "No!" They might be targeting older drivers. I wonder how they got her personal information? From the dealer?

Maybe the Florida Attorney General ought to look into this.


July 2008 Election Poll


From The Detroit News:

Michigan a toss-up for Obama, McCain

Presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain are locked in a tight race to win Michigan, according to a Detroit News-WXYZ Action News poll.
I find this most peculiar for a state that is generally solidly Democrat... especially given Obama's supposed lead nationwide. Does this insinuate a bigger current of disillusion and uncertainty about the Obamas?
Perhaps it has to do with Obama's political positions on issues that adversely affect the automobile industry... not that McCain's positions are any better.
Maybe the 12% undecided are the UAW members who want to vote for a Democrat... but just can't bring themselves to do so this time.


Dirty, Filthy, Rotten Coal... We Still Want You


These from Benny Peiser:

Abu Dhabi (largest of the seven UAE emirates) has announced that it will switch to coal-fired power plants. Dubai (the second largest) is already building four of them - with a combined output of 4,000 megawatts - as a first-phase investment in coal. Apart from the United Arab Emirates, Oman (widely regarded as "the next Dubai") has signed a contract with South Korea for the construction of several coal-fired plants. Beyond the Gulf, Egypt proposes to build its first coal-fired plant on the shores of the Red Sea. Russia has announced plans to build more than 30 coal-fired plants by 2011.
--Neil Reynolds, The Globe and Mail, 18 July 2008

The Kyoto Protocol, incidentally, classifies the Gulf states as developing countries - meaning that they are under no obligation, oil revenues notwithstanding, to reduce CO2 emissions. They have opted for coal for a single compelling reason: cost. One of the ironic differences between Germany and the Gulf states is the absence of solar energy investment "in the sun-baked Gulf states." Germany produced 1,300 megawatts from solar installations in 2007; the Gulf states combined produced 36 megawatts. As impressive as its commitment to solar power appears, though, Germany has its work cut out. It has promised to generate most of its electricity by renewable energies (largely wind and solar) by 2020 - when it will phase out its nuclear power. Germany has thus opted for the world's most expensive electrical power even as other countries simultaneously opt for the cheapest.
--Neil Reynolds, The Globe and Mail, 18 July 2008

China added more coal-burning power plants in 2007 than Britain has built in its history, said Gerard McCloskey, a coal market specialist with Cambridge Energy Research Associates in London. A few years ago, China was exporting the equivalent of Colombia's current annual exports. But by next year, the U.S. Department of Energy forecasts, it will become a net importer.
--Chris Kraul, Los Angeles Times, 20 July 2008
Here in Michigan:
New coal plants in Michigan draw fire
Environmental groups say the sudden rush to build coal plants calls on a 19th-Century technology to solve 21st-Century problems.

They oppose the plans, arguing that new coal plants will add global-warming gases at a time when the state and nation are under pressure from other countries to reduce those gases.

Just who are those "other countries?"

Seems like that 19th-Century technology still has a few years in it.
And it also seems that those Gulf-state countries flooded with oil, dollars, and sunshine [where's the rush to solar power?] recognize that an abundance of cheap energy means more than the remote possibility of their average temperature increasing from 100° to 101° because they are burning coal.
We can accuse the Chinese and the Arab countries of being political or religious ideologues, but when it comes right down to it, they are ultimately practical and rational. It is the U.S. that is filled with impractical, irrational global warming ideologues.


Monday, July 21, 2008

Dropping Out


Econbrowser had a post the other day about high school dropout rates in California. A new way of measuring has pegged the dropout rate at 24% statewide and 33% for Los Angeles.

The author, Professor James Hamilton,Professor of Economics at the University of California, San Diego, wrote that he was "shocked" by the report. He should not have been. Prof. Hamilton showed the following chart regarding the impact of dropping out of school:

Dennis Mangan, a curmudgeonly blogger from California, has identified at least one major reason for the increase. Last year he wrote:
It isn't difficult to stay out of poverty in America. Here's how Steven Malanga put it:
To stay out of poverty in America, it's necessary to do three simple things, social scientists have found: finish high school, don't have kids until you marry, and wait until you are at least 20 to marry. Do those three things, and the odds against your becoming impoverished are less than one in ten. Nearly 80 percent of everyone who fails to do those three things winds up poor.
Let's see: Hispanics drop out of school at high rates, they have high rates of illegitimacy, and they marry young. No wonder we're importing poverty.
I'd argue that anywhere you have a concentration of poorly educated parents, you will have a concentration of poorly educated children... and high dropout rates. In Detroit, this was noted:
In 2005 the state and city placed the Detroit Schools’ graduation rate at about 44-48%, depending on the source. Some of the discrepancy is accounted for by looking at “timely graduation rates” versus those who graduate in more than the four-year time period. Either way you look at it, no one in Detroit Schools is happy with it.
I discussed Detroit high school education with a Detroit high school teacher this weekend. He spoke of one effort by a high school principle to increase graduation rates by pleading with teachers to change failing grades to Ds. This way students who rarely showed up for class could "graduate" and the school's performance would be improved.
That's a great signal to our failing students.
It all boils down to expectations. I'd say that some of our school systems have little expectations of their students and students understand that little is expected of them... and they deliver.


Sunday, July 20, 2008

Not Letting Detroit Die


A month ago, I wrote about Detroit, Michigan that:

  • The school system is nearing the point of collapse. The city's government is inept and corrupt.
  • The only decent and honest mayor in the past 3+ decades, Dennis Archer, left in disgust and Kwame Kilpatrick was immediately elected by the residents of the the city... a testament to their unbridled stupidity and racism.
  • Vast tracts of the city are uninhabited or uninhabitable.
  • The governor of Michigan, Jennifer Granholm, has too many problems of her own to get involved in Detroit's fiasco.
  • And Michigan's economy is no longer able to subsidize the city.
So, overall collapse is nearer.
Today, Nolan Finley, editorial page editor for the Detroit News wrote:

A city must be awfully hard to kill. How else do you explain that Detroit is still breathing?

Detroit is down with a fatal case of chaos. The structure of government has dissolved, with every public institution in dysfunction and disarray. Last week's shouting match between City Council members and mayoral appointees looked a lot like anarchy.

And it was brought on by public officials who are all about serving themselves, rather than their people.

Kwame Kilpatrick once promised to leave a legacy as the boy wonder who gave Detroit back its dream. Now, his stubborn refusal to step aside despite facing perjury and corruption charges has assured he will be remembered as the man who strangled a city.

In other places, the City Council might be counted on to offer stability when a mayor stumbles. But this is Detroit, and the Detroit City Council on its best day barely rises above inept.

Instead of putting out the fire, the council poured on fuel by getting itself entangled in a federal bribery probe. The council can't very well yank the mayor for corruption when some of its members may be heading to the courthouse with him.

While City Hall is burning, no one seems to notice that the Detroit school board is at war with its newly hired superintendent. The school district has mismanaged its finances so thoroughly that it is just a bounced check or two away from insolvency.

Try packaging all that into a two-minute elevator pitch to sell Detroit to investors, job creators or new residents.

Can Detroit be cured? Maybe. But you're kidding yourself if you think a return to health will require anything short of a miracle.

The prescribed miracle is for Detroiters to get mad as hell and declare they're not going to take it anymore.

But instead, Detroiters are sitting on the rooftops like the pitiful Katrina victims waiting for a rescue boat to float by.

That boat's not coming.

Mr. Finley went on to urge residents of Detroit to get angry:

This is your city. You can't wait for the business community to do something. It's got no vote. You can't wait for Gov. Jennifer Granholm to do something. She's got no spine.

As a city, you've got to lift yourself out of your deathbed.

Unfortunately, Mr. Finley, the residents of Detroit have proven... for the past three decades... that they are more interested in promoting "black" politics than a good city. That's why they have Kwame Kilpatrick as their present mayor. That's why they had Coleman Young as a mayor for two decades.

As the old saying goes:
Be careful what you ask for; you may get it.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Offensive People Offended


I'm beginning to think that this whole fear of al Qaeda and Islamic terrorists may be overblown. Just think about it... how can you attribute ferocious traits to a group of twits who are:

  • offended by puppies
    A police force has apologised to Islamic leaders for the "offensive" postcard advertising a new non-emergency telephone number, which shows a six-month-old trainee police dog named Rebel.
  • offended by women talking to them
    ''She behaved in an improper way,'' he said, whimpering. "She came very close with her whole body towards me. I couldn't do anything.''
  • offended by cartoons
    The cartoon, breaking all laws of respect of religions and beliefs [???], has created uproar among Muslims in Toronto and all Muslims who saw the cartoon or heard about it.
Kind of reminds me of certain Democrats who displayed similar traits after viewing the New Yorker cartoon of Barack and Michelle Obama.

The world sure is filled with a lot of humorless, easily-offended people.
The upside is that provides plenty of targets for blog material... like this guy.


By the way, where's the uproar about cartoons depicting President Bush like this?

or this

I guess it is politically incorrect for anyone except Muslims and Democrats to be offended... since satire and sarcasm and vitriol directed at Republicans are merely expressions of truth.


Friday, July 18, 2008

iPhone Family


My youngest son has to have the latest electronic toys... 7" in-dash screen GPS-TV-DVD, 24" LCD computer monitor, 1080p LCD TV, 17" laptop, Wii, iPod... and now the 3G iPhone.

On 7/11/08 at 7 am EDT, he was in line at the Apple store. We were going on a trip that day, but he wasn't going without the new iPhone. I joined him around 8 am, just before the store opened. By 9:30 am, we were out of the store with two iPhones. Mine worked; his didn't.

It wasn't until 7/12 around 10 am that he was able to get the telephone functions working completely... after a few attempts to get through to AT&T. Then he was happy again.

By 7/13 it was obvious that my wife was not going to be satisfied with anything less than her own iPhone, so we headed back to the Apple store. They had less than a dozen left when we were waited on. She picked out her pink leather case [to differentiate hers from my black leather one] and got it activated. We were in and out of the store in about 1/2 hour.

By 7/14 my second son was getting nudges from my youngest son to get on board... but he is a procrastinator, so that may take awhile. He is also very busy running a business.

By 7/17 it was obvious that the 700 minutes we selected to start the account was not going to be enough... since my youngest son had alread used almost 400 "Anytime Minutes" the first week.

So, today I will get my account plan minutes increased quite a bit.

Oh, what do I think about the iphone? It's pretty close to being there. The Google apps are pretty good and the internet access on a wifi isn't bad. The mapping GPS is nice to have and I've already put a couple of GB of photos and music on it. I love the way it works on my 2008 Taurus Sync system... it's like listening to someone in the same room and no fumbling around. All-in-all it is a great little alternative for my laptop and much more versatile.

My wife didn't appreciate the "door bell" ring tone I set for her phone... she kept going to the door instead of her phone.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Climate Lies


8th warmest in over 120 years or 9th coldest in 30 years?

Read about outright lying to promote fear of global warming


Big Car Blues


CNN ran a story about the new Ford Flex

As I drove a 2009 Flex on a family trip, one comment I heard over and over was "That thing must suck gas like crazy!"

Unfortunately, the Flex's design emphasizes, and even exaggerates, its size. When plans for the Flex were first being laid down, that might have seemed like a good idea. But these days, it might just scare customers away from what is, really, an excellent alternative to the typical minivan. It's a big box designed to carry a lot of people and stuff and it more than looks the part

While the Flex looks enormous in person it's really no longer than the old Freestar minivan it essentially replaces. Its fuel economy, too, is about the same as minivans like the Honda Odyssey and Chrysler Town & Country.

For those looking at SUVs, someone who buys a Flex instead of a full-sized SUV like the Ford Expedition, for instance, could save almost $1,200 a year in gasoline while having even more room for back-seat passengers to stretch out in. They also get to enjoy a much cooler-looking box-on-wheels.

On our recent trip to Wisconsin in a 2008 Ford Taurus, I measured our gas consumption on a single tankful of gasoline beginning with a fill in Madison, a leg to Milwaukee, another jog to Delavan, and then through Chicago construction on I-294 to I-94 around Gary to our home near Detroit.

This car comfortably transported my wife and me and my 6'3" 270 lb. son [even in the back seat with the front seat back] and his girl friend and all of our bags.
Our measured single tank usage was 17.7 gallons for 490 miles... just under the 28 mpg advertised as the highway mpg.
I suspect this will improve somewhat as the engine gets a few more miles.

So, my questions are:
  1. Do you really want to be crammed into a Mini Cooper-sized vehicle with compromised safety for a few extra mpg?
  2. Or do you want to spend thousands of dollars more upfront for an expensive hybrid powertrain... and the prospect of thousands more to replace a battery pack?
I'm still waiting for that nice turbo-diesel that gets about 40 mpg highway, but the government is making that difficult by:
  1. Restricting oil drilling and subsequent supply
  2. Restricting refinery expansions and new refineries capable of actually producing the government-mandated new diesel formulation
  3. Refusing to accept European diesel engines as they are
So, while I will make do with a pretty good gasoline powertrain in a nice big car, we'll all suffer a little economically because the cost of transporting food, clothing, medicine, equipment, raw materials, etc. has gone up dramatically due to the shortage of diesel fuel.
Why doesn't the government just mandate some hybrid tractor-trailers? Just use 1/4 of the trailer for the battery pack.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Strategic Petroleum Reserve


Here's a thought: why should the government have to purchase any oil for the Strategic Petroleum Reserve when there are billions of barrels in land controlled by the Federal government?

While President Bush is correct about opening up more areas for drilling leases, there should be an added provision that each lease will provide a guaranteed amount of oil ... at no charge ... to the SPR or the lease terminates within 2 years of failure to provide.

It's a win-win-win. The government get's it's rainy day supply, the oil companies get more oil for sale, and consumers get a larger supply of oil keeping prices down. This is done without going out on the world market for the SPR needs and, consequently, not inflating the demand on the world market.

If this results in excess oil in the SPR, the government could sell the excess at market prices.
I'm sure someone has an objection. Feel free to have your say.


Tuesday, July 15, 2008

June Temperatures


NOAA's temperature map for June shows cooler-about normal-warmer weather for the U.S.
The northwest continued cool, the central and midwest were about normal and the south and east warmer than normal. NOAA "Statewide Temperature Ranks show a similar pattern.

All-in-all, another almost-normal month for the U.S. when averaged... just slightly above normal.

For the first two weeks of July here in southeastern Michigan, we are running more than 3° below normal... but we expect a brief warming trend this week before it goes back below normal.

My prediction is this year in Michigan will be below average overall ... at least around here. This may be part of a return to cooler weather trends caused by changes in the weather patterns which may be affected by changes in the Pacific Ocean.
If so, we can expect cooler, wetter summers leading to shorter growing seasons and more crop wash-outs in the farm belt as cold Canadian air mixes with warm Gulf air... over and over and over.


Look for price increase in ethanol and Tostitos.
Of course, one benefit will be that we don't have to water the lawn anymore. Haven't done that once this year.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Budweiser ... Horse Trading


We're back from a weekend in Wisconsin, home of old beer companies like Schlitz, Blatz, and Pabst. Some of you may not have heard of these once-popular brands. Over the years they were bought out or went out of business. These were not small breweries. Their giant grain silos and breweries dotted the Milwaukee landscape. But they couldn't compete with giant national brands such as Anheuser-Busch.

Now we see the next step in these American brands. Everyone has seen commercials featuring these:


These Clydesdales are about to be retired and replace by these:


... Belgian draft horses.

Nice, but not quite the same. Still, most of us will never notice the difference.


Saturday, July 12, 2008

Future Chant: We're Number Two!


From Yahoo! News:

China's Economy Could Surpass the U.S. by 2035

As if the U.S. economic slump, the housing crisis, surging oil and food prices, and a general sense that things are not going all that well weren't enough, a new study forecasts that China will become the "pre-eminent world commercial influence" by 2035, when it surpasses the U.S. economy. The study released today is by Albert Keidel, who specializes in China economic issues at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. It is clear that China's economic juggernaut will have far-reaching implications for economic, diplomatic, and military matters in coming years--the subject of Keidel's study titled "China's Economic Rise--Fact and Fiction."
Last year, I wrote this post in response to certain economists who stated that there was no reason for us to be concerned about China selling us goods and labor at ridiculously low prices... after all, they are simply subsidizing us.
And the big, bad wolf was simply blowing leaves off the pigs' properties.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Travel Time


Weddings are great fun and an important tradition. They formalize what ever other bonds unite a couple.

This weekend we are traveling to celebrate the marriage of our niece to a fine young man from Spain. Actually, they were married last year in a small ceremony, but this is the opportunity for both families to get together along with many friends who could not be there and celebrate.

We'll also take the opportunity to visit some grade school and high school friends. This summer marks the 60th year I've known one of them.

The bonds of family and friends are what gives so much value to life. We can point to our work and accomplishments, but personal bonds are what make the difference between a satisfying and a happy life.

Congratulations Silva and Felipe!

So good to see you again Mary and Steven, Sandi and Richard, Sue and Keith, and Wil.


Thursday, July 10, 2008

Red Light, Green Light, Hope To See...


Declaring independence from onerous traffic... you can do the same.

[click to enlarge]

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Your Child's Second Language


Sen. Obama has yet another brilliant comment, to wit: your children should learn Spanish.

The first question is why? Sen. Obama has done pretty well without that knowledge.

  • Is it because he recognizes that there are millions of illegals in this country who don't speak English... primarily from Mexico? What would he have your children say to them?
  • Is it because our governments are putting up a lot of signs in Spanish and your children might be curious what they say?
  • Is it because there are so many people working in retail stores who have a difficult time with English and your children might want to ask them where the Brittany Spears DVDs are?
When you look at the economics of a second language, it might make more sense for parents to help their children learn this second language.
More on that Sunday.

Getting Pinned Economically


Hold those shoulders to the mat for a three-count and you've pinned your opponent. Simple as 1-2-3.

It looks as if our economy is about to get "pinned."

  1. The housing market is in shambles. The number of foreclosures is continuing to grow. Recovery... maybe, maybe 2009... in some areas.
  2. Cost of energy causing a significant slowdown in consumer spending and sending distribution costs through the roof for business.
  3. The Fed is using the "I" word
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - It makes "eminent sense" to raise interest rates as risks to the U.S. economy recede amid high inflation and the central bank should not wait too long, a top Federal Reserve policy-maker said on Tuesday.

"Just as easing policy aggressively in response to emerging downside risks made sense, withdrawing some of that stimulus as those risks diminish makes eminent sense as well," said Jeffrey Lacker, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, Virginia.

Lacker, who will be a voter on the U.S. central bank's interest-rate-setting committee in 2009, said growth would be tepid this year and only pick up gradually next year.

Mr. Lacker is correct that raising interest rates to counter inflation caused by rampant spending and unbridled demand is a sound policy. The problem is that interest rates were lowered to avoid an economic crisis cause by the previous cycle of rapidly declining rates followed by rapidly increasing rates... along with a total lack of a rational energy plan... and right now the threat of inflation is not a result of rampant spending and unbridled demand... just the opposite situation has developed.
So, is Mr. Lacker's plan to fight an artificially induced inflationary pressure with econocide? Having contributed mightily to the current housing problems and weak dollar by a knee-jerk interest rate management approach, it is not unreasonable to think that the Fed may add more injury with another knee-jerk reaction to a perceived economic threat.

Remember, the Fed's actions may affect all of us, but it is their primary goal to protect the banking system.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Precautionary Medicine


I found the idea of giving children statin drugs more than a little disturbing.

It's hard to tell whether such ideas are the result of creative marketing departments or well-intentioned [but missing-the-point] experts. There is no doubt, looking at any group of children, that many are overweight. But presuming that the cure for present and future ills is a lifetime of a powerful medicine is a bit extreme.

And any parent who goes along with such an idea has totally abdicated parental responsibility. How about smaller portions of food and more exercise?
Last year, I started taking a statin drug for slightly elevated levels of cholesterol. There can be certain side effects such as muscle [including heart] weakness and chronic coughing.
Additionally, statin drugs were originally approved on the basis that they would include coenzyme Q10 [commonly called CoQ10] which alleviated some of the muscular weakness symptoms. Unfortunately, after approval, the formulations conveniently dropped this expensive compound.
My wife has added CoQ10 supplements to my diet as a precautionary medicine to take with my precautionary medicine. I doubt that most children would receive that extra bit of precaution from ill-informed parents.
Now I'm going to see my doctor about this chronic cough that started a few months after beginning to take statin drugs.

Monday, July 07, 2008



Traveling by air is difficult enough, but it seems the rules change everyday.

Today I took my 91-year old mother to Bishop International airport in Flint, Michigan. It's usually a great alternative to the mess of the large Detroit Metro airport which is always under construction.

We pulled into the short-term lot and walked across the street into the ticketing area, got her a wheelchair [because she can't walk very far or stand for too long anymore], and got her baggage checked and her boarding pass. I was told I could have a security pass to accompany her to the gate which I thought was a good idea.

When we got to the metal detectors, I helped her off with her shoes and she moved slowly to the other side of the detector and down the conveyor line to where her personal items were coming out the scanner.

Then the security guard tells me to move into the special screening area. 10 minutes later after hand scanning and pat downs and standing barefooted without a belt, I was able to re-join my mother and assist her... since no one else was bothering to do so.
Apparently, you are a suspect if you are accompanying your elderly mother in a wheelchair... even if you don't set off any alarms.

When my mother's plane arrived, the passengers on board exited. A mother and her child seemed to want to stay ... maybe to continue the flight. But it became apparent that she was now victim of a "new rule"... that much I heard. She had to go back through the whole boarding pass and security screening process. That seemed a bit strange. I'm guessing that she either left her connecting flight boarding pass on the plane and was not allowed to go back to get it or she didn't get the connecting flight boarding pass in the first place. Either way, she had to rush back to the ticketing line and go through the inconvenient, customer-unfriendly process.
Normally, you can get that done right at the gate for connecting flights. Maybe small airports aren't any more convenient than large ones.

It's Just Uranium... Nothing To See Here


Without so much as a whimper of protest from Nancy and Harry that it had nothing to do with a weapons program...

BAGHDAD, July 7 (Reuters) - Iraq's government has removed 550 tonnes of natural uranium left over from Saddam Hussein's era and sold it to a Canadian company, government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said.

The uranium, called yellowcake, had been stored in a compound at Tuwaitha, south of Baghdad, which was once the centre of Saddam's nuclear weapons programme.

Yellowcake... isn't that the stuff that can be refined into weapons grade uranium?


Sunday, July 06, 2008

The Energy Fix?


From the Detroit Free Press [click on image to enlarge]:

As you go through these, note that the first item is a roundabout way of either keeping the present reduced tax rates or lowering them. However, if the present income tax rates are raised, neither will have any discernible effect.

In the second item, Obama's position is consistent with other Democrat positions that present efforts that yield future results are not worth the effort. This includes a cure for HIV, improving water management, improving education, and political reform... among others. It is also consistent with the Democrat energy position ten years ago.

Both candidates want aggressive action against illegal speculation as part of their third position. What isn't clear is what is illegal and how much present commodity trading is illegal. I suspect this is a red herring.

The candidates differ on the fourth item. Obama likes the idea of limiting profits... and eliminating resulting jobs, new exploration for oil, and growth in retirement funds investing in oil companies.

The fifth item is a fluff-job. Both candidates can sound serious about something that drivers are already taking control of themselves. A large portion of drivers have reduced their speed to 65 and below on freeways around Detroit... and I suspect elsewhere. Governments aren't needed to make people act in their best economic interest.

The sixth item is all about the whipping boy... the auto industry. This is another example of politicians wanting to appear to be helping when, in fact, they are causing more problems. More ethanol, more hybrids, less oil... and more smog and lower fuel economy, battery shortages, and lack of diesel fuel as the associated results.

The seventh item is a stew-pot of government interferrence proposals. It doesn't address the central issue of government obstruction. And what's this about nuclear safety, Obama? As a University of Michigan study shows, the fears about nuclear safety are vastly overstated, while the benefits from nuclear power are grossly unrecognized, for example:

The environmental benefits of nuclear energy can he seen clearly in France. In the 1980s, because of concerns over imported oil, France more than tripled its nuclear energy production. During that same period, total pollution from the French electric power system dropped by 80-90 percent.
It's time that the candidates focus on issues for which they are responsible and of which they can correct... like campaign financing and special interest.


Saturday, July 05, 2008

Carbon Footprint Pledge


With all of the talk about gasoline prices and renewable energy and CO2 polluting the earth, my wife and I have decided to take this Carbon Footprint pledge:

We will maintain our CO2 output and energy usage below Al Gore's 2007 levels.
Okay, that's not fair. Mr. Gore has a big house because he has to entertain a lot of people who are concerned about global warming and carbon footprints. So, I'll amend that pledge:
We will maintain our CO2 output and energy usage at 50% below Al Gore's present levels.
Sure, but I'm not taking into account the fact the Mr. Gore has to travel a lot to receive all of his environmental awards and preach to gospel of global warming. Fine, I'll amend that pledge:
We will maintain our CO2 output and energy usage at 25% of Al Gore's most recent levels. Satisfied?
Great, that means I can increase my present consumption and footprint by 2 or 3 times.
Maybe it's time to buy that Hummer. Great prices right now.
Don't you love it when our elitist, leftist politicians tell us that coal and oil make us sick or are poisoning the world... and then use more than 99.9% of the rest of the world?


Friday, July 04, 2008

Independence Day


Reprise of last year's post.

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

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

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

Rhode Island:
Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery

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

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

Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas McKean

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

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

Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton


Thursday, July 03, 2008

Big City Corruption


For years it has been apparent that Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick had less than stellar character. He is persuasive, however. He can sweet-talk his way into getting his way with certain members of the City Council.
Apparently, Kilpatrick isn't the only one capable of sweet-talking his way to the hearts of the City Council [from the Detroit Free Press]:

FBI targets 4 on council
Several people caught on tape accepting cash

Recently, I asked the question: Is Detroit Dying? Apparently government officials are going to make sure they get theirs before it happens. These are "leaders" who are elected and re-elected by the residents of Detroit.
I guess the prevailing attitude must be, "They might be crooks, but they're our crooks."
Also, the in-crisis Detroit Public Schools system is attempting to get back $46 million in "risk-management" fees that were paid out under questionable circumstances.

In an unrelated governmental issue, a 57-year old woman who has adopted 12 foster children and provided them with excellent care had a young, blind girl taken away by the Michigan Department of Human Services because one of her sons had a dog [since gotten rid of] that had some tickets [since paid] for running without a leash.
She appealed to the Michigan Supreme Court's Foster Care Review Board. The board reviewed the case May 23 and said it "strongly believes" it would be in Sparkles' best interest to remain with Stewart.
Nevertheless, the DHS rejected that recommendation.
Isn't it wonderful how government protects us all from everything... except government?

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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


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."
"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."

December 11, 2007 Somehow the Fed misses the obvious.
[Image from:]
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 "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)