Monday, March 31, 2008

Federal Regulation Las Vegas Style


Just like Vegas... nothing but a flashy show.


Boycott Of Danish Products



The Union Cooperative Society in Dubai has pulled all Danish products off its shelves in protest to the republishing of a controversial cartoon of the Prophet Mohammed with a bomb in his turban.
From the[ Toronto ]

AMSTERDAM–Muslim nations have condemned a film by a Dutch politician that accuses the Qur'an of inciting violence.

Islam critic Geert Wilders launched his short video on the Internet on Thursday evening. Titled Fitna [you can't watch it there because of intimidation, but you can watch it here], an Arabic term sometimes translated as "strife," it intersperses images of the 9/11 attacks on the United States and Islamist bombings with quotations from the Qur'an, Islam's holy book.

The film urges Muslims to tear out "hate-filled" Qur'anic verses and starts and ends with a cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad with a bomb under his turban, accompanied by the sound of ticking.

The cartoon, published in Danish newspapers in 2006, ignited violent protests around the world and a boycott of Danish products.

Many Muslims regard any depiction of the prophet as offensive.

"The film is solely intended to incite and provoke unrest and intolerance among people of different religious beliefs and to jeopardize world peace and stability," the 57-nation Organization of the Islamic Conference said.

Dutch Muslim leaders appealed for calm and called on Muslims worldwide not to target Dutch interests. The Netherlands is home to about 1 million Muslims out of a population of 16 million.
Not giving a rat's ass about any of this, we buy whatever is really good... even if it is Danish.


Of course, that doesn't mean we can't enjoy these Middle East delights, too:

But then, the pita and hummus are not necessarily Islamic-only.

We do try to avoid cheap Chinese products such as the sandals that caused this:

It's not a religious thing, however.


Sunday, March 30, 2008

Letter To My Senators


Recently, I wrote this email to the U.S. senators from Michigan:

Occasionally, I receive emails from your offices informing me of important legislation and events. One important action that has not surfaced yet from the senate is legislation opening up vast areas of oil and natural gas bearing deposits within U.S. territory and offshore. Given the Democrat control of Congress and the positioning of the Democrat party as the party of the common person, I would hope that stories such as this will be shortly a thing of the past:

'You're working for gas now'
The people of Camden, Ala. pay a bigger chunk of their income for fuel than anyone else in the country - meaning tough choices for the ever thinner family budget.

While environmental protection is important, there appears to be a larger risk of environmental contamination from shipping oil to the U.S. than from local drilling and storage. Given the downside of dependence on any Middle East oil [and South American?], the prudent course for the U.S. would be to have a Manhattan-style project to expand available oil and natural gas supplies from North America while concurrently rapidly deploying the latest generation of nuclear power plants to replace aging nuclear and coal-fired plants. Certainly, research should continue on making solar and wind power economically feasible, but our near-future should not be risked by hoping we can continue to obtain the necessary fuel to keep our economy running at a level where people do not have to spend one-fourth of their income on fuel.

One additional action might ensure that gasoline supplies keep up with demand, even if oil supplies are sufficient: offer a suspension of federal gasoline taxes in any state where a new refinery is built as an addition to existing refineries. Care would have to be taken to be sure that a company would not receive benefit for building a new refinery simply to shut down an existing one.

Regardless of what theoretical alternatives may be touted, such as hydrogen powered vehicles, the reality is that the U.S. has both the natural reserves and the current technology... clean, turbo-diesel engines... to be self-sufficient for many more decades if political obstacles are removed.

As senators from Michigan, you should have a strong interest in seeing that Michigan automotive manufacturers are not saddled with the responsibility and the blame for the U.S. inaction and inability to have a rational and effective energy policy.


Bruce Hall
For those of you who don't believe that is the case, I invite you to read the following:
It will be interesting to:
  • see if they will respond with anything more than the standard "Your email has been received" and
  • learn if reason can have any impact on politics and special interests.
Maybe the U.S. could start here. Also, here. It would be nice if some of the oil actually stayed in the U.S. instead of going to ... China?
But as I said, big refineries are needed as well and states might be competing to get one if Federal gasoline taxes were eliminated for awhile as an incentive for the states where the refineries are built. It would also help drivers such as those in Camden, AL.

Saturday, March 29, 2008



The snow has receded and the clouds have parted. The birds are trumpeting Spring! It has been about 6 months since winter started here. Time to check out all of the yard-care equipment to see what survived the inactivity. Mark the calendar for delivery of mulch next month. Find the rake so that the leaves that blew around last fall can be removed.

Isn't it great? Another month or so and we'll see some green around here instead of ice-burned brown.

Oh, dear! I wrote that just a little too quickly. The snow that came and melted came back again.

Snowfall totals from the March 27th, 2008, winter storm
Sorry, brother. It looks as if we won't be playing golf on your birthday.


Who To Believe


Two conflicting views on warming and timing:

The point here is that, depending on where in the great weather oscillation cycle you look, you can find evidence of warming and cooling.

It is growing more evident that average temperatures are trending downward from a recent peak in 1998. That doesn't mean a new ice age. It simply means that we are somewhere on that snaking sine wave... other than the top.


Friday, March 28, 2008

Seeking Warmer Climates


People are irrational.

Do you fear global warming? Yes!

To where will you be relocating? Where it is warmer, of course!

Perhaps it is like religion. People feel obligated to express their belief in a deity or certain tenets of faith, but on a practical level, they live their lives in a way that provides them with the most comfort, satisfaction, and security that they can... even if it conveniently ignores the basic tenets of that which they profess to believe.

Consequently, actually living in a warm or hot climate is seen as preferable to living in a colder one... especially since modern technology allows one to escape excessive heat while still providing the opportunity to enjoy the benefits of all-year outdoor living... versus the belief that somewhere, someone may be having a tough time because the weather is too hot for awhile.
Do you believe in God? Yes. Are you afraid of going to Hell? No, that's just metaphorical.
Of course, some people may believe that Hell is actually in Michigan

... or Canada... and it's already frozen over.

Perhaps the reason why so many people are moving southward rather than waiting for the Great Warm-up is because they can see the obvious... and they don't have that much faith.


Thursday, March 27, 2008

We Can't See Our Universe


As I go about my daily reading, one source of information I check occasionally is The Reference Frame written by Luboš Motl, a Czech physicist. Recently, he posted a note [and the picture below] about a gamma-ray burst some 7.5 billion light years... about half the distance of the farthest observed object... away from us that was visible by the naked eye.

Like many people who are not scientists, I have always had a fascination about astronomy... mainly the neat pictures as opposed to the tedious work. The immensity of our known universe is too much to really comprehend. Even trying to scale down the universe into something that represents it gives a result that is too big for real comprehension.

One of the questions that has been there all along, but has never been answered in a way that I can understand, is what does the universe look like now? Well, think about it.

The picture above represents something that is 7.5 billion light years [7.5 billion times 9.5 trillion kilometers] away. That's too many billion-trillion miles/kilometers away for me to begin to understand.
But wait! If we are seeing something as it was relative to earth that long ago... where is it now? I'm presuming that the measurements are based on the apparent distance that we can observe, since all light reaching the earth at any moment started out at a different instant... a different moment in time.

That means, even looking at the sun and planets, we are looking through time as well as space. Travel through time may or may not be possible, but viewing through time is something we do every day.
Astronomers tell us that the universe is expanding at an accelerating rate. Certainly not at the speed of light... but some objects are moving away from us at close to that speed. And most of the universe seems to be moving away from most everything else... expanding in all directions. So, does that mean that those really distant objects of 10-15 billion light years distance are more like 20-30 light years away now? Think about that! Okay, that's enough.
Large portions of the universe could have changed significantly or already disappeared or new portions appeared... and we will never know about it... will never see it... even if those changes happened when earth was forming or when life first appeared on earth.

And if we ever figure out how to travel really, really fast through space, will we be headed for something other than what we can see when we start? That nice solar system might have become a supernova and we haven't seen it yet.

And what if the end of the Universe has already started someplace far away, but we think those nice galaxies are still spinning around. We could be doomed already and not even know it!
Thanks, Luboš, my whole day is ruined. I guess we'll just have to be content with a picture of reality that is really, really distorted by time and space... and focus on closer objects and issues... like presidential candidates and climate scams.
Where's my aspirin?

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

John McCain On Foreign Policy


John McCain's positions regarding foreign policy has been published many places today. You can access the NY Times posting here.

I have some general comments:

McCain got several things right and several things wrong.
  • He was absolutely correct about the radical Islamic threat and the Chinese expansion. There is a distinct possibility that the Chinese are already using radical Islamists as leverage for their goals: China Replacing The U.S.
  • The pap about global warming is a bone to the leftists. By the time any real efforts [other than the destruction of the U.S. automotive industry] can be implemented, it will be already painfully apparent to all that Chicken Little [aka Al Gore] was wrong again.
  • The League of Nations... er, Democracies... is a quaint and antiquated concept. The UK is attempting to be politically correct in a "democratic" way with the Islamic invasion occurring there... and are paying the price of cultural discord, increased violence, and loss of people who can afford to pack up and leave. The U.S. does not need to follow such examples.

Treasury Secretary Warns About Social Security


Paulson: Action needed on Social Security

Treasury secretary says program is 'financially unsustainable.' Trustee report says government will have to pay back what it owes starting in 2017.

NEW YORK ( -- Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, saying that Social Security is "financially unsustainable," called Tuesday for quick action to keep the system strong and released a report detailing the program's funding shortfalls.

The federal government will have to start paying back what it owes the Social Security trust fund in 2017 so the program can continue paying 100% of benefits. By 2041, if the system is left unchanged, Social Security will only be able to pay out 78% of benefits promised to future retirees.

Those are two key estimates in the Social Security and Medicare trustees' 2008 annual report.

So, the only options the Secretary of the Treasury and the Social Security and Medicare trustees can come up with are raising rates or paying less. If you only have a tax collector and a check writer, I guess those are the only options.

What about this?


Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Kym Worthy's Other Prosecutions


Kym Worthy has made a national splash with her charges against Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick... and this is bound to help her in this year's re-election effort.

Ms. Worthy has been involved in some other notable efforts involving public servants in the City of Detroit.

Kym Worthy is hard to pinpoint. She seems to be a bulldog for high-profile, high-publicity cases. If there isn't a TV camera, there doesn't seem to be a case.

There is a reasonably strong argument that county prosecutors should be allowed to run for their offices, but should be barred from other offices such as mayor or governor. After all, a county prosecutor is much more of a politically focused position than a mayor or governor. We wouldn't want to politicize the offices of mayor or governor with people who primarily are interested in publicity and only incidentally [or accidentally?] in good government, would we?

There is often a fine line between aggressive prosecution and persecution. After all, the job of a prosecutor is to prosecute... when there is reasonable evidence of guilt.
Kym Worthy does not appear to have crossed that line with regard to Mayor Kilpatrick.

Can Blacks Govern Detroit... or Anywhere?


Now that the content of his character is on display for the nation, Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick will be held up as another example of how black politicians simply can't be trusted.

Coleman Young was the first black mayor of Detroit. He presided over the white flight and the business flight. But he was a hero to the black population of the city. Still, while he certainly did nothing to stem the exodus, he was not solely responsible. He was smart enough to know that the city could not survive without the suburbs. Unfortunately, his own personal experiences created a style of confrontation with anything white. It set the stage for a continual decline of the city.

Dennis Archer was the next black mayor. He was a true gentleman and person of integrity. That was his downfall. He was called a "white black man" by many of the Coleman Young loyalists who preferred racial confrontation to logic and reason. After eight years of working to restore a working relationship with the suburbs, Mayor Archer simply had enough of the backstabbing from the Young politicos and the Detroit populace.

The 2001 race for mayor pitted Gil Hill against Kwame Kilpatrick. Hill wasn't much of a grandstander. He was a councilman... head of the city council. He knew how to get things done; he didn't know how to oppose Kwame Kilpatrick who played the anti-white to the hilt. Kwame was cool, he was hip, he was going to be a black mayor...

By the time the 2005 campaign was in high gear, Kwame Kilpatrick could do no wrong... no matter how wrong it was... with the black voters of Detroit. His opponent, Freman Hendrix, was a former deputy mayor under Dennis Archer; former chairman of the appointed Detroit school board; former assistant Wayne County executive; former chief operating officer of Strategic Staffing Solutions. He had a fatal flaw: he was a well-qualified, honest, white black man... literally. His mother was a blond, blue-eyed, Austrian-born woman... similar to the situation of a certain presidential candidate this year. He certainly didn't fit the image of a mayor that Detroit voters wanted.

Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick arrives at GM Style - General Motors' car studded music and fashion gala that kicks-off the 2008 North American International Auto Show Saturday, January 12, 2007 in Detroit, Michigan. The event features musical guests Kid Rock, Mary J Blige and Maroon 5; as well as GM's most stylish cars, and fashions from some of the world's leading designers. (Photo by Tom Pidgeon for General Motors)

So, Detroit got a Motown, hip-hop Kwame Kilpatrick, and Washington, D.C. got Marion Berry who saw no big difference between using Coke™ and coke, and New Orleans got it's "chocolate city" mayor Ray Nagin. It seems wherever a black mayor made the news, it was to show the white population in America that there could never be a black leader that made any sense whatsoever to whites.

Well, despite the Kilpatricks and Berrys and Nagins of this country, I have seen enough honorable and capable black leaders in business, politics, and my own neighborhood to say that it is a fool's trap to equate those mayors with the overall quality of black leaders.
That said, there are some major questions about the black voters who choose those types of mayors to be their leaders.
Apparently, there are too many black voters who either never heard Martin Luther King's remarks about the content of one's character versus the color of one's skin or thought Dr. King was just another white black man.

Does that mean that you have to be a white black man to be a good black leader? No, you have to be an person of integrity... regardless of race or gender.
In fact, there may be more of a problem in the presumption that a white black man must be a good leader.
But that's another post.


Monday, March 24, 2008

Kym Worthy Charges Detroit Mayor Kilpatrick


Kym L. WorthyWayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy held a press conference this morning regarding perjury charges against Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick.

After a lot of preamble statements lauding the "American system of Justice," she focused in on the issue of witness truth... and then, after a lot of expounding about truth and justice, she concluded that the Detroit mayor has committed perjury as well as other crimes and offenses.

She then said she has filed a 12 count charge against the mayor and his former Chief of Staff, Christine Beatty. These charges include:
  • obstruction of justice
  • misconduct in office [both]
  • many perjury charges for both - 15-year felonies
Now the fun begins.


Stock Market Rises


MARKET SNAPSHOT: U.S. Stock Indexes Start Higher As Investors Await Bear News

... and will go back down when it receives bearish news.
Meanwhile, oil is still priced over $100 per barrel and the U.S. Congress continues to resist expansion of U.S. oil and natural gas drilling... and the housing market continues to languish... and the jobs market sucks... and the dollar is being used to plug holes in toilet stalls.

Looks like the Fed's plan to rescue Wall Street is having some effect. Now for the rest of the economy....


Did Global Warming Cause This?


Arkansas Prepares for Worst Flooding in 25 Years
Midwest Continues to Struggle With Cresting Rivers

An aerial view of flooded farm land is seen, Friday, March 21, 2008 in Newport, Ark. In Arkansas, residents of the tiny prairie community of Georgetown along the White River were warned to leave the area Friday after forecasters said a backwater slough would cut off access by late evening and leave the them stranded well into next week. (Mike Wintroath/AP Photo)
I can't keep it straight. Does global warming cause droughts or floods? Does it cause warm, dry winters or snowy, cold winters? Let's presume it causes everything. How can we go wrong?


Say What You Mean


I'm always telling my wife to say what she means because she will insert random words into her conversation when the correct word eludes her.

Apparently, that is common practice with writers, too.

"A.P.’s Death Toll for Iraq War Reaches 4,000"

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Happy Easter


Usually, Google takes care of this themselves. Must not want to offend anyone this year... or just got too busy.

Of course, that's not exactly religious.

Google does have this for Easter. It locks up my Firefox, but works okay with Internet Explorer.

Happy Easter, Google... and everyone else.


Saturday, March 22, 2008

Not Springing Into Spring


Our youngest son will be 25 on Monday so we decided to have a family and friends gathering today to celebrate the occasion. My youngest brother's birthday is in about a week as well, so we will combine the celebrations.

The plan was to enjoy the early arrivals of spring along with the birds and bees and flowers and trees that our newspapers have been touting. You know, global warming has arrived. It seems there is a perception distortion occurring. Perhaps the media is looking through infra-red colored glasses and sees warmth where the rest of us see only this:

Our pre-global warming average high should be about 50° now. Ever optimistic shows our global warmed days ahead...

[click on image for larger view]

Well, I guess it's time to get the old "global warmer" out of the garage again and clean off the driveway, walkway and deck.
We've got guests arriving and grilling to do. Hope the bees aren't too aggressive while I'm cooking out there.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Early Spring


Spring keeps coming earlier for birds, bees, trees

Say what? Which decade are we talking about?


Economic Hindsight Versus Foresight


Slowdown could have been avoided

A well-respected economist says the U.S. is now in a recession...and that Congress and the Federal Reserve could have stopped it.

By Chris Isidore, senior writer
Last Updated: March 20, 2008: 4:31 PM EDT

NEW YORK ( -- Congress and the Federal Reserve missed their chance to keep the country from falling into recession by acting too slowly, according to a well-respected economist.

Lakshman Achuthan, the managing director of the Economic Cycle Research Institute, said the economy has now fallen into what he calls "a recession of choice."

He argues that the economic stimulus package passed by Congress this year is too late to help many consumers and businesses and that the Federal Reserve was too timid when it started trimming interest rates last fall.
It's great that a "well-respected economist" can look back and tell us what went wrong. It's better if those well-respected economists can look forward and tell us what is going to go wrong.

From Sept. 11, 2007 post - Federal Reserve Watching
I have been critical of the Federal Reserve actions for some time now [do a simple blog search on "Federal Reserve"], but one needs to realize that the statistical process by which the Fed gets economic data is always subject to revision.

That doesn't mean that the Fed was correct in raising the funds rate to 5.25%... it wasn't. 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.

The Fed caused the housing mess by making money too cheap and then caused the housing crash by making money too expensive. But one has to wonder how the Fed really uses the information it has available... and why. The whipsaw effect of Fed actions has to make one wonder.

You might expect the Fed to try to correct the situation, but don't hold your breath either.
Of course, the Fed did finally try to correct the situation, but it waited far too long.


Thursday, March 20, 2008

What's Normal?


NOAA [National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration] published two charts for February both showing variances from normal:


My own sampling of various cities and towns in the Northeast showed similar variances to the Departure from Normal chart because they were based on the same "normal" baseline ... 1971 to 2000.

Based on my sampling, I'd guess that NOAA uses some sort of smoothing technique? when drawing the Departure from Normal map [middle] because our suburban Detroit area had over a -4°F average variance from normal [click on map immediately above], but on the Departure from Normal it is shown in the 0 to -2 range.
What caught my eye was the difference between the Climate at a Glance and the Departure from Normal maps. Here in Michigan, most people will say that this February was very similar to those in the early 70s when temperatures seemed colder than "normal." Yet the Climate at a Glance shows Michigan as "near normal'. What is different is that NOAA uses temperature records going back to 1895 for their climate analysis and records going back to 1971 for their normal baseline.
NOAA also states that they use adjustment techniques for the temperatures used in the normal calculation, but I'm not sure if those same techniques go back to the 1895 data used in the calculation of the other normal.
Regardless, I was curious about what constituted normal for the Climate at a Glance maps, so I did a quick sampling of February temperatures for Michigan at the decade breaks and came up with this:
1900 ____16.3
1910 ____17.9 <---
1920 ____16.5
1930 ____26.9
1940 ____21.7
1950 ____20.0
1960 ____21.3
1970 ____18.3 <---
1980 ____17.6
1990 ____24.0
2000 ____26.8
2008 ____18.4 <--- [ranked 41st coldest out of 114 Februarys]

Average ____20.5
While the sampling average of 20.5° F may not be Michigan's actual overall average for 1895-2008, there is an interesting pattern that shows an oscillation more than a trend. I have argued this point before when looking at the pattern of the number of statewide high temperature records for the nation. I acknowledge that this is a small sampling, but it seems to be in agreement with other looks at U.S. climate reporting.
Furthermore, what is the criteria for NOAA stating that a particular month's average temperature is near normal versus above normal or below normal? ......What's Normal?

How, for example, can a month that is barely out of the lower third of recorded averages [Feb. 2008 - 41 of 114 is 36th percentile] be "near normal" on a scale that includes 7 categories?

  • If we start the temperature series in 1930 instead of 1895 or 1971 [cold points] would our perception of normal and trend be different? The obvious retort is that we use the earlier starting point because we happen to have data going back to the 1890s and it just happens to be a colder period.

    Then why have two starting points and why 1971... also a colder period? Why not 1951... a more normal time?

  • If we use raw data instead of adjusted data would the results be markedly different?
  • If we insist on the same weather stations for the entire period used in the calculation of normal, would the results be different?
  • If all weather stations had to be maintained to official specifications, would the results be different?
Other thoughts...

One might ask if the increasing impact of Urban Heat Island [UHI] effect has caused an overstatement... over 113 years... in the average temperatures being reported. There are a lot of sources who say that it has.
Even a 1° increase in reported temperatures due to small towns becoming suburbs and suburbs becoming part of large cities may have a significant impact in the analysis of what is normal. Remember... temperatures will be cooler in the outlying areas, in case you haven't heard that lately on your local weather forecasts.

Meanwhile, today's forecasted high around here is 38°F ... about 12° below the normal high temperature... but we might have some above normal temperatures by the end of the month. Oh, and after years of high sunspot activity, the sunspots are virtually absent... and el Nino's warmth has turned into la Nina's cold. Just more of the same changes that happened before.

But that's normal.
What doesn't seem normal is panic about a possible [but questionable] trend change of 1° over 100 or so years... or spending trillions of dollars to prevent a possible cause of a possible change.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

We Apologize Because You Poisoned Us - Verse 2


Once again, we get products that are deadly from China.

You may want to inform your doctor or hospital that you do not want any drugs administered to you that were produced in China. You simply do not know what you will be getting... and it could kill you.


Yo, Kwame


From The NY Times:

DETROIT — The City Council on Tuesday asked Mayor Kwame M. Kilpatrick to resign in light of evidence that he lied under oath and plotted to cover up an extramarital affair with his former chief of staff.

But the request, while politically embarrassing, is not binding, and Mr. Kilpatrick has promised not to quit, even as the number of people saying that he should is growing. It comes a week after the charismatic but often polarizing mayor fanned his critics with an angry tirade at the end of his annual state of the city speech in which he blamed his troubles on racism and accused the media of having a “lynch-mob mentality” against him.
Back in 2005, I wrote:
Wednesday, November 09, 2005
Detroit - Be Careful What You Wish For

It's hard to fathom that the most maligned mayor in the U.S., Kwame Kilpatrick, would be re-elected by the citizens of Detroit. Yet, somehow, the citizens of Detroit decided that Mr. Kilpatrick would be a better choice than Freman Hendrix, the challenger.

Well, it seems that everyone deserves a second chance... or third ... or fourth ... or fifth ....
Detroit got exactly for what it wished, so those voters should have the opportunity to lay the blame for their lousy government exactly where it belongs... on the faces in their mirrors.
He may be a crook, but he's their crook!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

How Low Will It Go?


The NY Times reports:

"The Federal Reserve reduced its benchmark interest rate by three-quarters of a percentage point on Tuesday, to 2.25 percent, a cut that was less than investors had been hoping for even though it was one of the deepest in Fed history."
What is at issue now is what the Fed will do when it decides once the inevitable rising inflation hits.
As I said last September, my take is that a stable 4% rate will do more for the economy in the long run than the yo-yo approach presently in play. But it is likely that the Fed will again forget what rapidly decreasing rates followed by rapidly increasing rates can do... especially with no safeguards that manipulators will not be able to take advantage of the Fed's largesse again.

For now:
"With the latest reduction, the federal funds rate is far below the rate of inflation, meaning that the “real,” or inflation-adjusted, rate is below zero. It is also well below the European Central Bank’s benchmark interest rate of 4 percent or the Bank of England’s rate of 5.25 percent."


Spring Has Not Arrived Yet


I rightly can be accused of harping on how cold this winter has been. But, in Michigan and many surrounding states, there is no doubt in my mind that this has been one of the nastiest winters in decades... despite what NOAA might publish. I'm looking into that, too.

Here is some recent data:


The next two weeks are projected below normal, as well.
We feel abandoned by global warming. Can it be that cooler heads are prevailing?

Monday, March 17, 2008

Is The Band Out Of Tune?


From Bill:

Here we go...

Japan stocks likely to fall as credit fears widen
03.16.08, 7:22 PM ET

JPMorgan to Buy Bear for $2 a Share
7:54 ET

Fed cuts discount rate to 3.25 pct, creates dealer lending facility
8:51 PM ET

In emergency move, Fed cuts key rate, offers quick aid to brokers
9:17 PM ET

Fed acts Sunday to prevent global bank run Monday
9:40 p.m. ET

Federal Reserve - Home page

Federal Reserve press release
March 16, 2008 (no time indicated)


"For immediate release

The Federal Reserve on Sunday announced two initiatives designed to bolster market liquidity and promote orderly market functioning. Liquid, well-functioning markets are essential for the promotion of economic growth.

First, the Federal Reserve Board voted unanimously to authorize the Federal Reserve Bank of New York to create a lending facility to improve the ability of primary dealers to provide financing to participants in securitization markets. This facility will be available for business on Monday, March 17. It will be in place for at least six months and may be extended as conditions warrant. Credit extended to primary dealers under this facility may be collateralized by a broad range of investment-grade debt securities. The interest rate charged on such credit will be the same as the primary credit rate, or discount rate, at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

Second, the Federal Reserve Board unanimously approved a request by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York to decrease the primary credit rate from 3-1/2 percent to 3-1/4 percent, effective immediately. This step lowers the spread of the primary credit rate over the Federal Open Market Committee’s target federal funds rate to 1/4 percentage point. The Board also approved an increase in the maximum maturity of primary credit loans to 90 days from 30 days.

The Board also approved the financing arrangement announced by JPMorgan Chase & Co. and The Bear Stearns Companies Inc."


And the band played on...

Friday, March 14, 2008

Economics Dumb-0-Dumb


It's deja vu all over again. 1980 and interest rates on homes hit 16%. Oil markets were running amok. People selling gold and silver like crazy. And then we got over it and forgot it.

  • We forgot that oil dependency leaves our economy vulnerable to the whims of the world
  • We forgot that housing markets can crash and stay down for years
  • We forgot that the payment for "free lunches" is more expensive than we realize
The Fed's worst nightmare
Ugly retail sales and a somber forecast from CFOs point to recession, but rising oil and gold prices and a weak dollar show inflation. What's Ben Bernanke to do?
On January 7, I wrote:
At this point, the Fed can do little right. Lower rates below 4% and the dollar crashes; don't lower rates and recession is probably assured. Pick your poison. 4% was the right target [when I said it was needed in Sept. '07]; the Fed process [which didn't recognize the developing problem] was simply inept. SEE THE SUMMARY IN THE RIGHT COLUMN.
Further lowering of the interest rates is irrational at this point. It will simply exacerbate the problem. If the Fed had acted properly to begin with... not rapidly raising rates making ARMs unaffordable for subprime borrowers and then delaying the cuts thereby letting the damage get done... the banking crisis might have been considerably less.

All the Fed has accomplished with its recent actions to deeply reduce rates is screwing the dollar and causing inflation... which it will then take credit for curing by raising interest rates again. The Fed has not only not protected the banking system, it has not protect the economy from inflation.
Can you say "chasing your tail?"
If B. Bernanke were a CEO, he'd probably be getting a $100 million "golden parachute" about now. But that's another issue.


Last November, I wrote that the Federal Reserve didn't cause inflation, but simply mucked up the economy. The recent mess with the banking system and pumping of money into the banking system along with rapidly dropping the interest rates has pushed the dollar lower resulting in pricing increases for necessary commodities such as oil. The Fed is not wholly to blame for the dollar's decline, but is certainly aiding and abetting this time.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

War With Iran


Yahoo! News ran an article titled 6 Signs the U.S. May Be Headed for War in Iran
You can read the article by clicking on the link above.

Within my own family there is a difference of opinion about war with Iran. Here are what I see as the pros and cons.


  • Iran is the source of supplies, training and possibly men who are attacking U.S. soldiers in Iraq
  • Iran's president is a dangerous fool who may soon have access to nuclear weapons
  • Iran is using it's oil revenues to fund terrorism elsewhere in the Middle East and, potentially, Europe and the U.S.
  • Israel may start a conflict and pull us in at a time not of our own choosing
  • Iran is a Shiite counterbalance to Saudi Arabia's Sunni extremists with no love lost between those factions
  • Iran has millions of young, anti-cleric people who may offer an internal lever to turn Iran away from its present course
  • Iran has had ties with Russia and may pull them in to any conflict
  • Iran could conceivably cripple all oil shipments from the Middle East and ruin Western economies [see previous post]
  • The U.S. is between a rock and a hard place with Iran
  • The U.S. could destroy Iran's nuclear capability and create an all-out Middle East insurgency
  • Iran likely will distribute its nuclear weapons to terrorists on a limited basis to blackmail the West unless the U.S. makes the cost of such action too high for the Iranian government
Our concern is two-fold:
  • Neutralizing Iran's proxies in the Middle East
  • Preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons capability or eliminating that capability if they have it
  • Eliminate Iran's surrogates in the Middle East quickly and harshly
  • Supply Israel with any needed additional armaments and intelligence they may request to allow them to defend themselves, if needed
  • Implement economic blackmail against Iran to create massive unrest among the populace
  • After a strong, public warning, take out one non-nuclear military target in Iran for each IED or suicide bomb that goes off in Iraq with a public statement that such U.S. attacks will stop when IEDs and suicide bombers disappear in Iraq... quid pro quo... based on intelligence that Iran is the source of those weapons and trains those who use the weapons
  • Offer Iran a way out based on cessation of their nuclear program along with participation in a general Middle East peace process
Will that work? That's problematic. But, let's be clear about Iran: at present, they do not threaten the U.S. directly. They are more likely to be a threat only to Israel, a source of instability in Iraq, and a competitor to the Sunni Arabs. Iran's president is a buffoon,

but the clerics are much shrewder and less willing to participate in Armageddon.
They also have their list of pros and cons.

The Price Of Not Drilling For Oil


I have written repeatedly about the Federal government's ineptitude in developing a strategic energy policy and plan for the U.S. On March 9, I wrote:

But the one thing the government will not do... because, well, I just don't know.
What I do know is that this particular government inaction imposes a significant trade imbalance on this country, contributes to the decline of the dollar, hurts domestic manufacturers, and hits us all in the pocketbook.

This appeared in The Detroit News yesterday:
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
U.S. pays price for untapped oil
Drilling lessens foreign dependency more than tax hikes and ethanol
Mark J. Perry

With oil prices hitting record levels above $100 a barrel, the economy in either a slowdown or recession, and with Venezuela threatening to end oil exports to the United States and Nigeria's oil production held hostage to internal strife, the case for tapping more domestic oil is getting stronger every day.

Unfortunately, Congress continues to resist the idea, preferring to hold substantial domestic energy resources on Alaska's North Slope and the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf off-limits to production.

Congress also worries about environmental damage from oil drilling, despite the oil industry's excellent safety record. Instead of encouraging the industry to invest in domestic oil production, which would help the economy and generate jobs, Congress is considering legislation that would require the manufacturing sector, including oil companies, to pay billions of dollars in additional taxes to support the development of renewable energy resources. And politicians prefer to replace oil with ethanol, having mandated a five-fold increase in its use, even though ethanol has gone from a cure-all to a serious problem in the eyes of many experts, and is now being blamed for pushing up food prices, straining water supplies and worsening global warming. [read more]

Mark J. Perry is a professor of economics and finance at the Flint campus of the University of Michigan.

The only saving grace is that it is highly likely that this pricing pattern will follow the similar patterns of the dot.coms and housing. Economics abhors anomalies.


Wednesday, March 12, 2008


Received these in my email this morning and thought they were worthy of sharing. Reminds us that there is more to the world than us.


Can"t Find It?

Use the SEARCH BLOG feature at the upper left. For example, try "Global Warming".

You can also use the "LABELS" below or at the end of each post to find related posts.

Blog Archive

Cost of Gasoline - Enter Your Zipcode or Click on Map

CO2 Cap and Trade

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

Tracking Interest Rates

Tracking Interest Rates


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

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