Friday, December 30, 2011
Tuesday, December 27, 2011
From American Digest
This is an absolute truth. I also own a MITS-Altair 8800B computer. And I still have some programs stored on IBM punch cards, which go back still further.
That means that either
- I'm older than I feel, or
- The computer age much less the internet age isn't all that old.
Sunday, December 25, 2011
I heard Paul Harvey tell this story on the radio at Christmas time a few years ago. I liked it then, and it's only grown on me since. But my attempts to find a copy of the story were unsuccessful until earlier this year, when I found a similar (but different) story. That enabled me to find the one I remembered, at last. It's still worth sharing.
Paul Harvey: A Modern Parable
As read on the radio
Unable to trace its proper parentage, I have designated this as my Christmas story of "The Man and the Birds." You know the Christmas story, the God born a man in a manger, and all that escapes some moderns mostly, I think, because they seek complex answers to their questions, and this one's so utterly simple. So for the cynics and the skeptics and the unconvinced, I submit a modern parable:
Now, the man to whom I'm going to introduce you was not a Scrooge; he was a kind, descent, mostly good man, generous to his family, upright in his dealings with other men. But he just didn't believe all that incarnation stuff which the churches proclaim at Christmastime. It just didn't make sense, and he was too honest to pretend otherwise. He just couldn't swallow the Jesus story about God coming to earth as a man.
"I'm truly sorry to distress you," he told his wife, "but I'm not going with you to church this Christmas Eve." He said he'd feel like a hypocrite, that he'd much rather just stay at home, but that he would wait up for them. And so he stayed, and they went to the midnight service.
Shortly after the family drove away in the car, snow began to fall. He went to the window to watch the flurries getting heavier and heavier, and then went back to his fireside chair and began to read his newspaper. Minutes later he was startled by a thudding sound, then another, and then another, sort of a thump or a thud. At first he thought someone must be throwing snowballs against his living room window; but when he went to the front door to investigate, he found a flock of birds huddled miserably in the snow. They'd been caught in the storm, and in a desperate search for shelter had tried to fly through his large landscape window.
Well, he couldn't let the poor creatures lie there and freeze, so he remembered the barn where his children stabled their pony. That would provide a warm shelter, if he could direct the birds to it.
Quickly he put on a coat, galoshes, tramped through the deepening snow to the barn. He opened the doors wide and turned on a light, but the birds did not come in. He figured food would entice them in, so he hurried back to the house, fetched breadcrumbs, sprinkled them on the snow, making a trail to the yellow-lighted, wide-opened doorway of the stable. But to his dismay the birds ignored the breadcrumbs and continued to flop around helplessly in the snow. He tried catching them; he tried shooing them into the barn by walking around them waving his arms. Instead, they scattered in every direction, except into the warm, lighted barn.
And then he realized that they were afraid of him. To them, he reasoned, I am a strange and terrifying creature. If only I could think of some way to let them know that they can trust me, that I'm not trying to hurt them, but to help them. But how? Because any move he made tended to frighten them, confuse them. They just would not follow; they would not be led or shooed, because they feared him.
If only I could be a bird, he thought to himself, and mingle with them and speak their language! Then I could tell them not to be afraid. Then I could show them the way to the safe, warm . . . to the safe warm barn . . . but I would have to be one of them, so they could see and hear and understand. At that moment, the church bells began to ring. The sound reached his ears above the sound of the wind, and he stood there listening to the bells pealing the glad tidings of Christmas. . . . And he sank to his knees in the snow.
Wishing you all a blessed Christmas!
Image thanks to ZIP
Friday, December 23, 2011
A friend of mine once had his e-mail through a (now long-defunct) organization called flash.net (How many of you even knew such an outfit existed!?) He also had his web hosting through them. The e-mail address continued to be active even as flash.net was bought out by others including Prodigy and (most recently, even though that was years ago) AT&T.
This year, AT&T decided it didn't want to support these "legacy" accounts any more. They notified everyone their web hosting support was going to end. With plenty of warning, my friend moved his web hosting to another organization — after verifying that the e-mail account (which had long since been passed to yahoo) would be unaffected.
Then, this week, he received a very suspicious e-mail, reproduced here:
Given the level of attention AT&T had previously given to former flash.net users, he figured they might not be aware of these messages. He figured he ought to tell them about what he'd received. He went to the att.com pages and found where a sub-page said to report security concerns. He forwarded the suspicious message to them at the e-mail address identified there. His message said:---LAST WARNING---
Tuesday, December 20, 2011 12:18 PM
From: "AT&T Mail Service" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
This sender is DomainKeys verified
Due to the congestion in all flash users and removal
of all unused flash Accounts, flash .net would be
shutting down all unused Accounts, You will have to
confirm your E-mail by filling out your Login
Information below after clicking the reply button,
* User name:
* Date of Birth:
* Country Or Territory:
After following the instructions in the sheet, your
account will not be interrupted and will continue as
normal. Thanks for your attention to this request.
We apologize for any inconveniences.
Warning!!!: Account owner that refuses to update
his/her account after three days of receiving this
warning stands the risk of losing his or her account
permanently.No virus found in this incoming message.
Checked by AVG - www.avg.com
Version: 8.5.449 / Virus Database: 271.1.1/3768 -
Release Date: 07/16/11 06:56:00
Thought you should know about this.
(Just in case you didn't already.)
The message bounced. He checked some more and, figuring it was just a glitch, re-sent it like this:
Once again, his message bounced. Once again, he got a message like this:Thought you should know about this. (Just in case you didn't already.)
email@example.com is the address identified to use for this purpose on the
web page http://www.att.com/gen/general?pid=19318
Tuesday, December 20, 2011 4:55 PM
This sender is DomainKeys verified
Sorry, we were unable to deliver your message to the
<firstname.lastname@example.org>: Remote host said: 553 information.
--- Below this line is a copy of the message.
I'm not sure what this means. But if the e-mail address AT&T advertises for reporting security issues doesn't work, that seems to say AT&T doesn't really want to know about them.
Wednesday, December 7, 2011
Seventy years ago today, the United States Pacific fleet was attacked by Japanese naval aircraft. Twenty ships were damaged or destroyed, including four battleships sunk or destroyed.
Seventy years later, the USS Arizona still weeps.
There is an interesting sidelight to the attack and the sinking of the Arizona. In battle, the Japanese navy used torpedoes and naval artillery to sink enemy ships. They apparently did not have penetrators armor piercing bombs available for use. In the Pearl Harbor attack, the primary objective was to sink all the U.S. battleships and aircraft carriers or as many of them as they could. They would want to use their bombers in that effort as well as their torpedo planes. To do that, they made their own penetrating bombs, adapting 16" artillery shells for that purpose. It was one of these improvised bombs that destroyed the Arizona and turned it into a cemetery.
Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Just last month, we celebrated Erlinda Garley Moya's 100th birthday. Tomorrow we have her funeral Mass.
Bosque Farms and Peralta have lost a strong lady. No lost isn't the right word. As Deacon Eddie said at Mrs. Moya's Rosary this evening, we haven't lost her because we know where she is.
Saturday, November 19, 2011
President Barack Obama is "focused like a laser" on job creation, according to his supporters. So what has this focus accoumplshed?
- Obama decided to delay (at least) the Keystone XL pipeline that would have brought Canadian oil to the US and created at least 20,000 jobs.
- Obama's Agriculture Department has decided to delay (at least) drilling in Ohio's Utica shale that would have created more than 200,000 jobs.
- Obama's Interior Department continues to stall deepwater drilling for oil, despite supposedly having lifted the moratorium (ban) it imposed, thus blocking restoration of the Gulf region's jobs and oil production.
- "The President’s plan is to simply say ‘no’ to new energy production," House Natural Resources Committee chairman Doc Hastings, R-Wash, said to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar during a Congressional hearing.
Friday, November 18, 2011
A prime example from the Wall Street Journal's James Taranto:
Two Former Enron Advisers in One!Clearly, President Barack Obama and his supporters believe the second Paul Krugman, and not the first. But it was the first that won the economics prizes.
"There's obviously a relationship between tax rates and revenue. That relationship is not, however, one-for-one. In general, doubling the excise tax rate on a good or service won't double the amount of revenue collected, because the tax increase will reduce the quantity of the good or service transacted. And the relationship between the level of the tax and the amount of revenue collected may not even be positive: in some cases raising the tax rate actually reduces the amount of revenue the government collects."--from "Economics," by former Enron adviser Paul Krugman and Robin Wells (Mrs. Krugman), second edition, 2009
"In Democrat-world, up is up and down is down. Raising taxes increases revenue. . . . But in Republican-world, down is up. The way to increase revenue is to cut taxes on corporations and the wealthy."--Krugman, New York Times, Nov. 18, 2011
Friday, November 11, 2011
In 2007, Kyle-Anne Shiver wrote an open letter of thanks to America's veterans that is a must read especially today. Here's an excerpt:
And it is also true, that unless one has been in battle, one does not truly understand the depth of your passion for liberty. To families that have borne no soldiers, you are an enigma. To cowards, you are a shaming presence, a constant reminder of their weakness. To your parents, you represent both the mountaintop of pride, and the deepest valley of concern that mothers and fathers can ever know. And to most of us ordinary citizens, you are the unseen, under-appreciated protectors of all that we hold dear.
Military men and women really are different. Like their brothers and sisters in fields such as firefighting and law enforcement, they are the ones who run toward the fire and toward the firefight, not away. They are the sheepdogs, the ones who protect the sheep from the wolves but whose presence makes the sheep uncomfortable. They're not all the same; they come in all types. But they share that difference. Sometimes you can see it in their eyes. Sometimes you can see the difference without being able to see who they are.
Even when you're not be able see the difference, the difference is still there. But whether you see the difference or not, whether you are aware of them or not, they are the ones who are there to be a deterrent and, if necessary, a force for protection and rescue. They are the men and women who have secured and preserved our freedom. To them, along with Kyle-Anne Shiver, I say
You serve and fight for the greatest Nation in the history of civilization. There has never been a grievous wrong that good Americans have not sought to rectify. There has never been a just cause on which America has turned her back for long. You, our soldiers, have been and continue to be, the greatest force for freedom and human rights ever gathered. You have raised our flag around the world, not for domination, but to bring greater liberty and a better way of life. You are the reason America remains a beacon of hope to the entire world.To all our veterans, and to all who serve, THANK YOU!
Thursday, November 10, 2011
There had supposedly been negotiations between the Democrats and the Republicans on the "supercommittee". The Republicans had made what appeared to be a good offer. The Democrats "had sounded amenable to the possible deal, but their position suddenly hardened after going back to their caucus." Translation: They got their orders, from whoever, and followed them.
A little more detail:
Sen. Pat Toomey had worked out a framework that he considered pro-growth and a reasonable first step toward fiscal restraint, while making a major concession to Democrats on revenue in the interests of getting a deal. Max Baucus especially had sounded open to it and a sub-group of the supercommittee had been discussing it seriously but no more.Apparently, the Democrats on the committee were ordered to "dump" the agreement.
Why do I say that? The Democrats claimed they wanted a "balanced" approach, one that included revenue increases as well as spending cuts. Their intransigence was there would be no deal at all without revenue increases. To get a deal, the Republicans gave the Democrats what they said they wanted. Revenue increases half a trillion dollars over the ten year period. But, from the Democrats' perspective, there was one thing wrong: The Republican plan had revenue increases, but not tax rate increases, and what the Democrats really want is tax rate increases.
In short, the Republicans gave the Democrats what the Democrats said they wanted, but the Democrats lied.
I also saw on TV an analyst saying (approcimately)
The Democrats have always regarded the "supercommittee" as a scam a means of conning the Republicans into accepting major tax increases.We can only hope the Democrats don't get what they want.
UPDATE: Here's further confirmation. Once again, as in past years, their proposed "deal" is $1 in spending cuts for $1 in tax increases. Trouble is, the tax increases always take effect and the spending cuts always prove to be mirages.
Wednesday, November 9, 2011
The Obama Administration announced the imposition of a new fee on the sale of every Christmas tree in the nation. The new levy was first announced in the Federal Register yesterday. It is being imposed to fund a public relations campaign to “enhance the image of Christmas trees and the Christmas tree industry in the United States.”
Opponents popped up immediately. One opponent said “The economy is barely growing and nine percent of the American people have no jobs. Is a new tax on Christmas trees the best President Obama can do? And, by the way, the American Christmas tree has a great image that doesn’t need any help from the government.”
But the Administration is adamant that the new levy is not a tax it is a fee. The White House has sent out its spokesmen to push this assertion. In one instance, White House spokesman Matt Lehrich told ABC News that “I can tell you unequivocally that the Obama Administration is not taxing Christmas trees. What’s being talked about here is an industry group deciding to impose fees on itself to fund a promotional campaign, similar to how the dairy producers have created the ‘Got Milk?’ campaign.”
I guess it can't be a tax since it's being done by an executive department and not by Congressional legislation. But this White House statement is quite dishonest. If it were true, there would be no need for government involvement. And there would be no government involvement. If it were true, the industry groupd would implement the fee, and Christmas tree sellers at worst would have to choose between paying the fee or withdrawing from the organization. But this fee is mandatory. It is implemented by the government, to be used for projects managed by the government. And you can bet the first costs paid from the fee will be for the government bureaucrats to manage the program in this case, the new federal Christmas Tree Promotion Board. That's not "an industry group deciding to impose fees on itself." Especially since a significant number of Christmas tree sellers don't want it and are pretty vocal about saying so.
The only bright spot in this story is that the White House has apparently wised up just a little. It has announced that implementation of the new tax/fee will be delayed, and its existence will be revisited. Since I'm feeling a bit cynical today, I'll guess that means they'll put it through at a time they think people won't notice till it's too late.
Sunday, November 6, 2011
It may not be new, but it's new to me.
Just a week or so ago, I was sent a link to a Thailand Aviation article on a Navy observation unit VO-67 that used P-2 Orion anti-submarine aircraft in Viet Nam for jungle surveillance. The aircraft were modified versions of the P2V-5F aircraft, redesigneted as OP-2E. The occasion for the article was the unit being awarded a Presidential Unit Citation forty years later.
In that article, it talked about the cooperation between the Navy surveillance aircraft and a unit of Air Force FACs (Forward Air Controllers) flying O-2A aircraft, a military version of the civilian Cessna Skymaster.
The FACs flew every day and night (mostly night) to identify the latest changes in anti-aircraft emplacements for use in the flight planning for the larger P2V-5F/OP-2E aircraft.
By happenstance, just a few days later, an old Air Force friend (and F-4 Phantom pilot) sent me a story about the O-2 and included his own observations on the aircraft. They make a good story, and it's good history.
Tuesday, November 1, 2011
In line with the scary holiday just past, here is the absolutely scariest chart I have seen in months. No, years. Maybe decades.
Sunday, October 23, 2011
Enterred the Army at 17
Worked through college with 3 jobs
Minimal loans - paid off in 4 years
Started companies, worked to the top of the ladder
Now, only 1% has served
Only THIS 1% never whines - we work, raise families,
Contribute to society EVERY single day.
And we defend your rights, too
Even if we would never agree with them
I am, a 1%-er
There was a big party in Bosque Farms, New Mexico, yesterday. It was a celebration of the 100th birthday of Erlinda Garley Moya born here in 1911, before New Mexico was a state. People came from all the surrounding towns, and then some, to help celebrate.
A program of family pictures showed pieces of Erlinda's life. And she was serenaded by an excellent guitar-playing singer.
There was a nice write-up about Mrs Moya in the La Vida section of the Valencia County News-Bulletin yesterday. Unfortunately, that article has not been made available online so it's been replicated here.
Obama makes these statements despite the HUGE difference in behavior and goals between the two groups. And despite the fact that he ignored the Tea Parties when he wasn't insulting them and lying about them, while he endorsed the Occupiers. The Tea Parties leave their demonstration areas clean, while the occupiers trash the places they infest. The Tea Parties want smaller, less intrusive government while the occupiers see government as the answer to all their wishes. (Can you say lying hypocrite?) And yet, no matter how Obama wants to camouflage it, the occupiers are extreme leftists, far outside the mainstream of American politics.
Even so, Obame still endorses the "Occupy Wall Street" movement. . . just like his close friends the union bosses and Chicago Communist organizers, as well as Iran, North Korea, and Venezuela's dictator Hugo Chavez. Plus, of course, the CAIR Islamist pressure group. And that doesn't even count the endorsements by the Nazis, Communists, fascists, socialists
. . . and all the other left-wing extremists.
And the media still in thrall to Obama "reported" on the occupiers and their message after conspiring with them to help them craft it.
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
Sunday, October 16, 2011
"The mere existence of our demonstration will bring about major changes in our society." "The mere existence of our demonstration will bring down this society." A lot of the "Occupy Wall Street" and similar protesters seem to believe one or the other of these statements, at least according to the statements they gave to the press. They are unanimous about being against the "greedy rich millionaires" (mostly bankers) they blame for the country's economic problems the "1%". That's why they are calling themselves the "99%".
The protesters have gotten a lot of support. Millionaires George Soros, Michael Moore, and AlGore are backing them. So are some union leaders and a number of politicians including Barack Obama and his top political adviser. In fact, when the owner of the park they're occupying wanted them to leave for a while so it could be cleaned, he got leaned on by a bunch of Democratic Party politicians to let the protesters stay.
It's not just the political Left that is supporting these protesters. The media have also been taking up their cause.
Contemplate this: The Occupy Wall Street folks drew more broadcast network stories in the first nine days of coverage (with 24 stories) than the Tea Party drew in the first nine months (with 19 stories). [emphasis added]Their biases also show in the stories' contents, as captured by a cartoonist here.
To me, the "Occupy Wall Street" protesters seem to be mostly unemployed folks taing on protesting as their "job". Some of them are being paid to be protesters. And there are some interesting claims about the places the money for that is coming from. With all that, and with the additional things the protesters say they want, here is what I think is a more accurate view I found of the percentages that matter.
Tuesday, October 4, 2011
It's amazing! It's spectacular! It gets tens of thousands of people to willingly join long lines of traffic at 4 a.m. And this year is its 40th appearance. It is as it has been for forty years the world's largest hot air balloon event. It's the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta.
Mrs Critter and I were there for the first day of this year's fiesta. We were there for the special commemoration of the life and impact of Sid Cutter who owned New Mexico's first hot air balloon, co-founded the Albuquerque Aerostat Ascension Association still the world's largest community ballooning organization, and co-founded the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. We were there for the Mass Ascension, which launched 345 hot air balloons in one hour, and many more before and after that official hour. It was all amazing!
Want to see something of the Mass Ascension of the balloon fiesta's opening day? Look at the pictures here.
Thursday, September 29, 2011
Saudi King Abdullah has issued an edict allowing women in Saudi Arabia to vote for the first time. Meanwhile, a woman was sentenced to 10 lashes for driving a relative to the hospital.
Interestingly, it turns out there is no actual law against women driving in Saudi Arabia. But the Saudi courts sentence women for driving anyway.
This juxtaposition provides a clear example of cognitive dissonance. And it sets up others. Like this:
Friday, September 23, 2011
My next door neighbor's two dogs have produced more shovel-ready jobs than this current Administration.Maybe it's too bad Johnson has almost no chance in the presidential race. He certainly makes the race more interesting.
Tuesday, September 20, 2011
The stock market took a dive yesterday morning. The headlines said it was because of worries over the financial situation in Europe.
The stock market's movement Monday morning was just a reflection of the futures market's movement Sunday afternoon. And that market took a dive immediately after the White House let out the information that President Barack Obama would be calling for $1.5 trillion in tax incraeses. I saw the graph showing that movement Sunday evening.
Sunday, September 18, 2011
President Barack Obama gave his speech and introduced his "jobs bill" ten days ago. Two things were said at that time about how the bill's expenditures would be paid for: (1) that the White House would release the revenue details in the next week, possibly at the same time as the bill itself, and (2) that the "supercommittee" formed under the debt ceiling bill would be tasked to find the money.
It appears he has actually done both.
At least one Congressman has read the text of the bill Obama sent to the Congress (but which has apparently not yet been introduced by anyone). He noted in an interview that a late section of the bill requires the debt ceiling "supercommittee" to increase its revenue/savings target by the cost of this bill. Elsewhere in the bill are the $467 billion in tax increases Obama has proposed to pay for the $447 billion estimated cost of his jobs/stimulus bill. (This, too.) Thus, the bill's cost is apparently "paid for" twice. Does the Administration intend more spending than it has acknowledged, and is using this opportunity to raise the extra money they want? Or is this a recognition that its proposal to pay for this bill with tax increases that have already been rejected by Democrats and Republicans alike is not serious?
There are other things wrong with this bill, too. Among these are:
- Obama's bill creates at least two new federal bureaucracies, neither related (so far as I can determine) to job creation. This continues the Administration's pattern of using various bills and proposals to add to the bureaucracy and the national regulatory burden.
- Most, if not all, of the spending proposals are repetitions and continuations of the same old tired things Obama had in his failed 2009 stimulus bill. They didn't work then, and they almost certainly won't work this time, either. That must be why Obama and his followers are calling this a jobs bill instead of a stimulus bill. The Obama people still want to pretend the stimulus worked, but they know the American people know that's bunk which is why they won't use the stimulus term.
- If spending on these proposals didn't help create jobs in 2009 and 2010, how are they going to create jobs now in 2011 at half the spending level?
- Pretty much all the spending proposals are recycled from Obama's failed 2009 stimulus bill. So this is a "green" bill. The Administration pretends that "green" and recycling are good things, but I doubt that recycling failure is worthwhile.
- Obama's bill raises taxes in a recession. Obama himself has said that's exactly the wrong thing to do. Obama and his people must know this. Therefore, either that statement or his current proposal is fraudulent and unserious.
- Obama's bill raises taxes on the very people he's calling on to hire people. Increasing their costs is the surest way to insure they won't create any new jobs.
- Obama's bill assumes, but apparently does not state, the expiration of the "Bush tax cuts" (required by the Democrats' previous intransigence). That expiration means a tax increase for everyone who pays taxes as well as many who no longer do. That's a part of the tax increases Obama has been pushing for since before he became president. And that one alone even without the additional tax increases Obama proposes will be the largest tax increase in the history of the United States. Another massive job killer, again courtesy of Barack Obama.
The original Obama stimulus was a total failure. His recycled "stimulus junior", if enacted, will be no better. At best.
Two final words on Obama's recycled "green" "stimulus junior":
Sunday, September 11, 2011
One of the lessons of 9-11 is that evil is real and so is courage. That is part of what President George W Bush had to say yesterday September 10, 2011 at the dedication of the memorial to the heroes of Flight 93. He went on to say
At the moment America’s democracy was under attack, our citizens defied their captors by holding a vote. The choice they made would cost them their lives, and they knew it. Many passengers called their loved ones to say good-bye, then.Three other flights had already been lost. The people on Flight 93 knew that, and refused to be the fourth. They took action. They counterattacked. They prevented the jihadists from accomplishing their mission.
Many passengers called their loved ones to say goodbye then hung up to perform their final act. One said, “They’re getting ready to break into the cockpit. I have to go. I love you.” Another said, “It’s up to us. I think we can do it.”
In one of the most stirring accounts, Todd Beamer, a father of two with a pregnant wife with a home in New Jersey, asked the air operator to join him in reciting the Lord’s Prayer. Then he helped lead the charge with the words “Let’s roll.”
With their selfless act, the men and women who stormed the cockpit lived out the words, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” And with their brave decision, they launched the first counter offensive of the war on terror.
Now it is ten years since their attack the largest attack ever on the American homeland. Some may have forgotten, but I have not. We still have an implacable enemy, an army of jihadists striving to attack us by whatever means they can manage by force of arms if they can, by deceit and deception otherwise.
Here's part of what we must remember: Our enemies are adherents of an all-consuming political ideology committed to world conquest. (A political ideology, like Communism or fascism, not a religion as people in the West understand the term.) We can't meet them on just one battlefield. We must oppose them everywhere they bring their lies everywhere they attempt to subvert or attack us.
And we need to get ahead of the power curve and attack them where they are weakest, in logic and reality. Their entire ideology is based on deceit and deception. Their leadership understands that and their adherents must be made to understand it, and to understand how thoroughly they have been duped. The alternative is exterminating them like Saladin and Richard the Lionhearted destroyed their predecessors in faith, the assassin and thug cults both of which have now been reduced to being just words in our dictionaries instead of active Islamic sects.
Certainly, whether by force of arms or by force of intellect, every ideology like that of the jihadists every ideology that preaches to its adherents that they much kill all who don't believe in their ideology the way they do must be exterminated.
All this is part of what we must NEVER FORGET!
Saturday, September 10, 2011
Once again action was called for, and Obama gave a speech.
And it wasn't even that good a speech. It was full of attacks on straw men and caricatures. Some said it made a mockery of the debt deal that was only a couple of months old. Whether that was true or not, it certainly proposed something like $450 billion in new spending without proposing where the money would come from. (The White House said it would take them at least a couple more weeks to come up with that proposal.)
What's even worse is this: President Obama intoned Pass this bill now! at least 17 times in his speech, but there is no bill! (The White House promised they might have a proposal to Congress maybe sometime next week which makes me think of former Speaker Nancy Pelosi's statement that We have to pass the bill to find out what's in it.)
I guess that's why even folks on the floor of the House during the speech (and everyone else who heard it) were incredulous about what Obama was saying (see the Historic Hysterics item, talking about Obama's travesty of a mockery of a sham of a mockery of a travesty of two mockeries of a sham of a speech to a joint session of Congress). It seems nobody, including Barack Obama, thought this speech's proposals were really serious. Just another phony excuse for a phony set of proposals from a phony excuse for a president.
Saturday, September 3, 2011
The tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attack is coming in a week. There are plans for a ten year memorial at Ground Zero in New York.
New York mayor Mike Bloomberg won't allow any clergy or first responders at the memorial. He won't allow them to participate. He says there "isn't room" for them.
There seems to be some interesting hypocrisy in play here. Mayor Bloomberg has been one of the big supporters of the project to convert one of the buildings close to Ground Zero into a mosque a jihadist-supporting mosque, apparently, based on statements by the mosque's promoters. At the same time, his office is a big part of the reason the city has not allowed the rebuilding of the St Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, which was damaged in the 9/11 attack. Whether one supports or opposes either project, the combination of these two positions is improper.
What the mayor's office has against the first responders the police and fire departments is not known. Could it be that the first casualty among the first responders was the fire department's chaplain, Father Mike Judge? Or maybe it's just the rather extreme New York version of political correctness.
As a direct result of Bloomberg's 9/11 memorial directives, Mrs Critter and I have decided there "isn't room" for his magazines (including Bloomberg BusinessWeek and Bloomberg Markets) and other publications from Mayor Bloomberg's companies in our home, and have cancelled our subscriptions. That may not make a dent in Bloomberg's reported $18 billion worth, but these days magazines are having a hard time attracting subscribers.
And we simply cannot support anyone who acts like Mayor Bloomberg.
UPDATE: It gets even worse. Now, apparently, Bloomberg is excluding many (at least) 9/11 victims' families from his "commemoration". These people are disgusting. At best.
Friday, September 2, 2011
The Obama economy is the worst in 75 years. Here's just one example showing why, and what the impact is on those the regime ignores.
The latest figures say there was NO GROWTH in jobs in August for the first time since World War II. And you KNOW the revision that comes next month will revise the jobs numbers down, not up. And that's with the regime "cooking the books" by removing from the labor force numbers those who have exhausted their unemployment insurance. Even without correcting for that even using the data the way it would have been used when Obama took office the calculated unemployment rate would be well over 11½%.
The right idea:
If “market failure” is an excuse for taking power away from markets, shouldn’t “government failure” be a reason to take power away from government?We've certainly had lots of government failure lately.
Thursday, September 1, 2011
Living between the coastal regions, in flyover country, you get used to being dissed and overlooked. Doubly so if you live in my state. (It's surprising how many people in the US think New Mexico is a foreign country!) It's not a recent phenomenon, either there's a reason Aldous Huxley placed the Savage Reservation of Brave New World (published in 1932) in New Mexico. Living here, we learn to expect it.
But then, once in a while something gets written that both captures and satirizes that view of New Mexico and the rest of flyover country. Today there's a new example of that in an article titled Cry in the Wild Goes Unheeded in the Albuquerque Journal.
At issue is a painting called St. Francis in the Desert and the exhibit featuring it at the gallery of the Frick Collection in New York.Giles Pennington, retired in the New Mexico town of Los Ojos, says he found in 1999 where Giovanni Bellini in around 1480 set this painting. His finding doesn't match what many of the traditional art experts say.
When he heard about the exhibit, he contacted the curator. He got a reply, and when he read it,
I realized what the curator was thinking: How could a retired guy from a mountainside overlooking a lake in northern New Mexico know more than we do about our painting?I can't do Mr Pennington's piece justice. Just go read it.
President Barack Obama said in August that he would reveal his plan for creating jobs and putting Americans back to work right after he finished his vacation with his elite friends on Martha's Vineyard.
If that sounds familiar, it should. That was Obama's promise in August of 2010 just over a year ago. I suspect he will make the same promise in August of 2012.
Wednesday, August 31, 2011
The latest example: The National Labor Relations Board announced on Tuesday a decision in the Lamons Gasket case that overturns its own 2007 Dana Corp. decision and effectively ends workers' rights to even request a secret ballot election on unionization.
The Dana Corp. decision allowed workers the opportunity to request a secret ballot election within a 45-day window following a “card-check” organizing effort. Card-check organizing efforts are when union bosses try to get workers they’re targeting to sign cards indicating they want to have a union election.And now, after such "abusive card-check campaigns", the workers will have no recourse against forced unionization.
What union bosses often neglect to tell workers is that if enough workers sign cards, there’s no need for an election. They’d already be unionized.
To me, the worst aspect of this is not that the NLRB has taken its orders from the unions and done the unions' bidding. Again. It's not even the NLRB's direct, blatant, and extreme violation of the rights of the workers it is supposed to protect. To me, the worst aspect of this the totalitarian behavior of the Obama Administration. Congress considered the unions' card-check legislation, recognized what an abuse it was, and refused to pass it. So the Obama regime, unable to get its way by legislation, determined to get its way through regulation. Unable to get its way through democratic or even semi-democratic processes, it issues orders by executive fiat. Again.
These people have no respect for the law, no respect for democracy, and no respect for the will of the people. They're making us look more like a Banana Republic every day.
There is never a legitimate reason to deny people workers or otherwise their right to a secret ballot.
Just more Obama hope & change.
Tuesday, August 30, 2011
Susana Martinez, now the governor of the state of New Mexico, qualified for a "concealed carry" permit while she was a prosecutor in Las Cruces, New Mexico. As governor, she now has a security detail. But she has also requalified for her "concealed carry" permit with both .38 and .45 caliber handguns.
Her husband, Chuck, is a retired undersheriff in Doña Ana County (the county with Las Cruces as its county seat). Susana commented "Chuck will never admit it, but I'm the better shot."
Susana Martinez scored 100% with both handguns at her requalification.
Saturday, August 27, 2011
If global warming is real, how can they still be skiing in the West? And it looks like they'll be able to ski there, this year, all year round.
Who would have expected a 365 day ski season for the year at Lake Tahoe? It's an endless winter!
Friday, August 26, 2011
The Weather Channel says this week's east coast earthquake was caused by an unknown fault line running under Washington and through Virginia.
It is now being called Obama's Fault, though Obama will say it's really Bush's Fault.
Other theories are that it was the founding fathers rolling over in their graves, or that what we all believed to be an earthquake was actually the effects of a $14.6 trillion check bouncing in Washington.
One of the great contributions of Judeo-Christian moral teachings as well as those of Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, and others is that they made clear to us that men are not and need not be slaves to an animal nature. They teach that humans can exercise self-control, and can be civilized and live by the rules of a society.
Sadly, not all humans are civilized. What is worse, some make a fetish and a societal rule of following a practice of being uncivilized, and deliberately behaving like animals, and like uncivilized people no better than those in the backward pagan tribes of one of the sixth century's least civilized regions.
But there is a difference: Those sixth century people didn't know any better. These people do. Or should.
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
It's not just Barack. And don't expect to see this in the major press in this country they're still supporting and covering for Obama. But here's another tidbit about the Obamas priorities, and their version of "shared sacrifice".
The Daily Mail is carrying White House reports the Obamas have spent more than $10 million on vacations in the past year. The article ties the vacation spending to "vacation junkie" Michelle Obama because of the several vacation trips she took without her husband, as well as the vacation trips she took with him (like the current vacation on Martha's Vineyard). The White House source says "It's disgusting. Michelle is taking advantage of her privileged position."
It has long appeared that both Barack and Michelle are taking full advantage of their positions to get anything they can get. You might say they're just in it for the perks.
It appears the only U.S. press coverage of this story is in the National Enquirer. (Just like the John Edwards stories? This one, just as an example? For a long while, the Enquirer was the only publication covering that story. Is the National Enquirer becoming mainstream?)
Tuesday, August 23, 2011
Last week, Wells Fargo announced it would begin charging its debit card customers $3/month for the privilege of accessing their own money. They are doing this as a test, in five states including New Mexico, to see how much they can cheat their customers before they rebel.
Now Wells Fargo has announced their free checking will now cost $7/month. According to the news reports, this charge is not being tested, but is being applied nationwide.
Sunday, August 21, 2011
Barbershop music has a distinctive sound that comes from its four part harmony. In that harmony, each of the four voices has its particular place and vocal responsibility.
Bill Biffle has been singing barbershop music for a long time. He is the past president of the Barbershop Harmony Society (also known as SPEBSQSA the Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of Barber Shop Quartet Singing in America), of which he has been a member for something over 36 years. I think that qualifies him as experienced in this art form.
I heard this description from him a couple of months ago. While there can be exceptions, depending on the specific musical arrangement, in general the four voices in four part harmony line up like this:
- Leads are responsible for the melody of the song. (The Quartet Curmudgeon commented that their job is to sing the melody as loudly as possible while keeping it pretty.)
- Basses must drive the song. They are responsible for keeping the beat and rhythm going, at the proper tempo.
- Tenors are the icing on the cake, floating above the melody and providing color for the song.
- Baritones are the mortar (or the grout) of the chorus or quartet. They make everything work together. And the baritones' notes fill in the chords and make them ring.
Listen for yourself. Check out the links in the posting on the 2011 Barbershop Harmony Society Mid-Winter Convention last January, or listen to the New MexiChords here or on the YouTube link from the New MexiChords web page.
Tuesday, August 9, 2011
General Leslie Groves, head of the U.S. Armys Manhattan Project which produced the atomic bombs, had predicted it would take two bombs to get the Japanese to surrender one to stun them and a second to demonstrate the first wasnt a fluke or a one-of-a-kind. As of August 9, 1945, General Groves was right. Hiroshima had been destroyed by an atomic bomb, and it had apparently made no difference.
A second mission had been planned for August 11, but an incoming weather system made the planners decide to move it up by two days. This mission would use the Fat Man atomic bomb, the same type as was tested in the Trinity Test in New Mexico less than a month before. The bomb was carried by the B-29 bomber named Bockscar (sometimes written as Bock's Car), piloted by Major Charles Sweeney. The bombing mission's target was Kokura; it only went to its secondary target, Nagasaki, because the target point could not be positively identified through Kokura's smoke and haze.
This seems like a clear application of the concept that overwhelming force is the quickest path to peace, and the way to save the most lives. But, as is often the case, theres more to the story than that and it provides further support for this concept.
Japanese physicists were involved in nuclear studies in the 1930s, just as European and American physicists were. By 1940, the Japanese had determined that they had access to more than enough uranium in Korea and Burma to make an atomic bomb. An atomic bomb project was started in April 1941, but the Japanese project determined by late 1944 that it could not produce a bomb in time to affect the war.
The knowledge they built up during their atomic bomb project was put to use in August of 1945. The story is told that physicists sampled the debris after the Hiroshima bombing, and reported that the city had been destroyed by an atomic bomb built of uranium. To the Japanese authorities, that meant it was probably one-of-a-kind because they knew uranium was so difficult to enrich sufficiently that they cant possibly have another. Given that, the Nagasaki bombing surprised them. They sampled debris again in Nagasaki, as they had in Hiroshima, and reported that a plutonium bomb had been used. This was a shock to the authorities, because it meant to them that the U.S. could have a nearly unlimited number of such bombs, depending on a production rate they had no way to know. (The next plutonium bomb was already on its way to the B-29 base on Tinian Island; the planners had reportedly targeted Tokyo for this bomb.) Suddenly the choice the Japanese authorities faced was very stark, indeed surrender or incineration.
Whether you think General Groves was right, and it would have taken the use of two atomic bombs to bring about a surrender regardless of their type, or whether you think the key factor was the realization that there could be more such bombs on the way whichever view you hold, it seems clear that two atomic bombs were necessary to end the war without a ground invasion of the Japanese home islands. Overwhelming force proved to be the quickest path to peace.
Today is the anniversary of Bockscar's flight to Kokura and Nagasaki, the anniversary of the day World War II in the Pacific Theater really began to end.
More information on the atomic bombs and their use in 1945 to end World War II can be found in Nuclear History, as well as in a number of other sources. Separate parts of the Nuclear History article deal with Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and the earlier Trinity nuclear test in New Mexico.
Saturday, August 6, 2011
The pilot for that mission was Colonel Paul Tibbets, who had named his B-29 Superfortress bomber for his mother. (Any reminder of home was welcome!) After the war's end, he and others of the Hiroshima mission crew visited the National Atomic Museum (now the National Museum of Nuclear Science and History) a number of times. On one such visit, Tibbets spoke with a writer for the newspaper of the Sandia National Laboratories, a conversation written up for the Sandia Lab News in 1998. He and other surviving crew members later put up an internet page.
The Enola Gays mission was flown from Tinian Island. There, the 509th Composite Bomb Group had three weaponeers. These were the men responsible for actually arming the nuclear bombs in flight and making sure they would operate as designed when they were dropped from the B-29s. I met one of these three, Leon Smith, many years later. By a flip of the coin, the other two weaponeers flew on the missions to Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Smith would probably have flown on the atomic bomb mission to Tokyo had that mission been necessary, but flew on the post-war test at Bikini Atoll instead.
Smith was asked by a Japanese documentary film crew (including three individuals from Hiroshima) a number of years later how he felt when the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. He recounted his response as follows:
I pointed out there had been a long war intensive battles starting in the South Pacific, moving ever northward toward Japan. I talked about the 30,000 Japanese soldiers, 20,000 civilians, lost on Saipan. On Iwo Jima, which was roughly halfway to Japan and a fighter base, 60,000 Marines went ashore, and suffered the highest casualty rate theyd ever suffered in any Marine operation. The Japanese had 21,000 defenders. 20,000 died. The battle for Okinawa had just been completed at the end of June. There over 100,000 Japanese soldiers died. 125-150,000 civilians.Today is the anniversary of the Enola Gays flight to Hiroshima, the anniversary of the day Leon Smiths relief began.
General Marshall believed that defending Japan were 2.3 million soldiers, 4 million navy men, and 28 million armed civilian militia. I said the invasion was scheduled for November of 45. I thought the casualties would have been simply unreal beyond comprehension.
I said, How did I feel when the bomb was dropped? I felt a sense of relief. I was confident that the war would soon be over. That I could go back and see my wife whom Id seen very little since our marriage in 1941. The U.S. and its allies could go back to their homes and their families. And the Japanese could go back to their families. Yes, I felt a sense of relief.
More information on the atomic bombs and their use in 1945 to end World War II can be found in Nuclear History, as well as in a number of other sources. Separate parts of the Nuclear History article deal with Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and the earlier Trinity nuclear test in New Mexico.
Friday, August 5, 2011
U.S. President Barack Obama didn't let Thursday's disaster in the financial markets disturb his party scheduled for that night. After all, one must keep one's priorities straight, mustn't one? His one concession was keeping the White House party, attended by celebrity supporters and Democrat party leaders, off the official schedule so it wouldn't be quite such an up-front deliberate slap in the country's face. It seems to me that action demonstrates a knowledge of guilt. But that guilt didn't stop the partying, or even slow it down.
The partying for the extended celebration of Obama's birthday continued. One subsequent celebration included former chief of staff (now Chicago mayor) Rahm Emmanuel.
While that was going on, apparently, Standard and Poor's downgraded the U.S. government's credit rating. The reasons given for the downgrade are, in part,
- The downgrade reflects our opinion that the fiscal consolidation plan that Congress and the Administration recently agreed to falls short of what, in our view, would be necessary to stabilize the government's medium-term debt dynamics.
- More broadly, the downgrade reflects our view that the effectiveness, stability, and predictability of American policymaking and political institutions have weakened at a time of ongoing fiscal and economic challenges to a degree more than we envisioned when we assigned a negative outlook to the rating on April 18, 2011.
- Since then, we have changed our view of the difficulties in bridging the gulf between the political parties over fiscal policy, which makes us pessimistic about the capacity of Congress and the Administration to be able to leverage their agreement this week into a broader fiscal consolidation plan that stabilizes the government's debt dynamics any time soon.
- The outlook on the long-term rating is negative. We could lower the long-term rating to 'AA' within the next two years if we see that less reduction in spending than agreed to, higher interest rates, or new fiscal pressures during the period result in a higher general government debt trajectory than we currently assume in our base case.
Meanwhile, Barack Obama received a birthday greeting for his fiftieth birthday.
Happy 50th Birthday Mr. President! While surprises are for birthdays, it is no surprise to the American people that your failed economic policies — from TARP to your health care bill — have resulted in disaster for our economy. Since taking office, unemployment has remained at or near 9 percent for 28 months, America has added $3.4 trillion in debt in 29 months — the equivalent of about $4 billion per day — we have an anemic housing market with record foreclosures, and an average price of nearly $4 for a gallon of gas. Even your budget did not receive one single vote in the United States Senate — and the icing on the cake — a stock market slide of nearly 800 points in the last 5 days.
While it may be hard to hear the American people’s frustration over the pop of the champagne corks and R&B bands at your $30,000/person birthday party, the citizens of this nation are suffering under your failed leadership. The best present you can give the American people will be for you and your failed economic policies to be defeated in November of 2012.
They told us if a deal wasn't made to raise the debt ceiling, the financial markets would be in turmoil. In that case, it might produce a day on the stock market like this a drop of more than 512 points in a single day the worst day since the financial crisis started with the bursting of the housing bubble (and FNMA and FMCC) in 2008.
Oh, wait. . . . Congress did pass a debt ceiling deal. On Tuesday. And that stock market graph is what we got on Thursday. (Wednesday was bad, too just not quite as bad as Thursday.) They told us this wouldn't happen if that bill was passed. They were wrong, and what we got was this.
They told us passing a debt ceiling bill ceiling bill would keep this from happening, too. But, of course, the real threat to the U.S. government credit rating, then as now, was the fact that our government's debt was approaching and now has passed our government's annual income. And that's because our spending is completely out of control. So they misled us on this, too.
Wednesday, August 3, 2011
President Barack Obama has gotten his "compromise" debt ceiling deal, and has now gotten it passed through both houses of Congress. The House of Representatives passed is yesterday evening (Monday), the Senate passed it today (Tuesday), and the President immediately signed it. Everything happened fast.
The markets issued their judgment fast, too. The US markets said unequivocally that no deal would be better than this deal. The foreign markets agreed, too.
And it looks like my analysis of last week was spot on. Apparently there's almost no cut in spending till after the presidential election. But the spending takes place immediately, and House Majority Leader says it will be eaten up by the time we reach 2013. (That's a continuing $1.6 trillion per year deficit through that time, though the White House had previously claimed the deficits would be reduced just like the unemployment rate.) It really is a case of "I'll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today."
There is a way to fix this, and it ties in with the "supercommittee" that will have to develop most of the spending cuts in this deal. The key issues are that we really need to cut spending or at least stop its increase rather than merely reducing the rate of increase and we need to avoid raising taxes and shoving the economy back into recession.
So here's what we do and how we are told the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) will score it relative to the current profligate baseline spending level (remembering that spending has increased by $1 trillion per year since Obama took office and that is now part of the baseline).
- Immediately freeze spending, cancelling all programmed automatic spending increases. (Cutting spending perhaps to where it was when Obama took office would be better, but we'll take what we can get.) We are told the CBO will score this as a $9 trillion cut in spending over the next ten years.
- Immediately block the impending tax increase that's the largest in US history, now labeled as stopping the end of the Bush tax cuts. This will prevent a new/repeated/continued recession. We are told the CBO will score this as a $5 trillion debt increasse in the coming decade.