May 2011 Archives

As if we need even more proof that the technology we first saw in the original Star Trek series is now becoming reality, there this: a hand-held medical scanner.

Can anyone say "medical tricorder"? Sure you can.

It looks like a cross between a flip-top phone and the medical scanner used by Dr McCoy in the TV series Star Trek.

The Vscan is not science fiction but a hand-held ultrasound machine with a scanning wand attached, which has been approved for use in Europe and North America.

It's getting closer all the time.

Memorial Day

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For all those who have served and given the ultimate sacrifice, we salute you.

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This is all too true.

"If [D]emocrats are bitching about it, it is because they are already guilty of it."

The context is important. In this case it deals with a New Hampshire Progressive who accepted out of state campaign donations to support a Democrat running in a special election for the state legislature. She then condemns the state Republicans for doing exactly the same thing.

Talk about hypocrisy!

Unfortunately this kind of hypocrisy seems to be endemic amongst the Progressive branch of the Democrat Party nation wide.

Thoughts On A Sunday

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I managed to turn a three-day holiday weekend into a four-day holiday weekend by taking Friday off. This let me get a lot of work done in The Manse, on The Boat, and on BeezleBub's Jeep.

BeezleBub put in two days at the farm this weekend, leaving Monday as his off day. Deb had Saturday and Sunday off, helping me put the interior of The Manse to rights (lots of late-Spring cleaning), but has to work on the holiday Monday.

All in all it was a pretty normal weekend for us.

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One side effect of the miserable housing market I hadn't thought about until recently: jobs.

I'm not talking about jobs within the housing market, but outside, in this case affecting the ability of a homeowner to take a new job someplace else.

One of the problems my employer has come across in hiring engineers to expand our R&D efforts has not been the lack of applicants. We had all kinds of applicants, many well qualified. But almost all of them turned down a job offer because they couldn't afford to relocate. They had no expectation of being able to sell their homes any time soon. Paying for two homes while trying to sell one of them wasn't going to happen (most banks would be reluctant to give them a mortgage or a bridge loan to cover them until they sell their old home), meaning they are pretty much stuck where they are until the housing market recovers. At least those renting a place to live aren't limited by that problem, but it seems that most of the applicants we interviewed owned a home.

How much of the problem with lackluster job growth is related directly to the inability to sell a home in order to relocate?

What did my employer do to alleviate the problem?

They opened a new R&D center in the People's Republic of Massachusetts to get closer to those looking for jobs.

What does that mean for me and my fellow engineers in our New Hampshire operation? Simply this: We'll lose our jobs because we can't afford to relocate either and the commute is too damn far. It won't happen today, or tomorrow, or the day after that, but it will happen, assurances to the contrary not withstanding. (It doesn't help matters that we couldn't afford to buy anything in Massachusetts in any case because the cost disparity in housing costs, even with the price collapse of the housing market figured in.)

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It's time to do a couple of updates to the blogroll, so here goes:

Cubachi and Kathleen McKinley move to Regular Reads.

I also have two New Finds, Scary Yankee Chick (courtesy of Bogie) and Atomic Nerds.

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One of Deb's friends is making a trip up the eastern seaboard on a 70' Hatteras yacht. The friend's brother purchased it down in Aventura, Florida and they're helping him bring it back to the seacoast of New Hampshire. One of the crew is blogging regularly and includes photos, links to real-time position tracking, and a host of other interesting stuff.

One of the scariest posts dealt with the yacht's electrical system, which the previous owner had patched together with speaker wire and outlet strips, probably with a drink in one hand!

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This might explain one of the mysteries of life that has plagued the male of the human species for untold generations:

Women find happy guys significantly less sexually attractive than swaggering or brooding men, according to a new University of British Columbia study that helps to explain the enduring allure of "bad boys" and other iconic gender types.

And here it is we've been doing it wrong all these thousands of years!

One of the things I've had trouble explaining to BeezleBub as he's navigated the minefield of relationships with the opposite sex is why girls/women always seem to gravitate towards bad boys, even if those bad boys treat them like crap. I've always thought it might be some subconscious female urge to "reform" the bad boy, even though the track record of success for such efforts is abysmal at best.

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Gee, I didn't know you could use food stamps to buy lobster! If I'd known that we would have applied for them long ago.

Hmm, I wonder if they can be used to buy some nice Grillmaster steak tips at our local butcher shop? They're cheaper than lobster!

(H/T Maggie's Farm)

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Will Sarah Palin run for the 2012 nomination? Jay Tea talks about the potential and how it's making Democrats' and RINOs' heads explode.

As one commenter wrote, Dennis Miller likes her because all the right people hate her.

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Could it be that crime rates over the years have been declining due to lead levels in our blood dropping 80% compared to 40 years ago rather than socioeconomic conditions?

It sounds plausible to me, considering that our socioeconomic conditions really suck right now but we haven't seen the 'expected' rise in crime rates that usually go along with tough economic times. This might require further study.

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Why doesn't this surprise me?

Every rape committed in Oslo, Norway over the past 5 years have been committed by Third World Muslims.

This is the kind of evil crap we can expect from these bastards when the multi-culti feelgood liberals have their way.

(H/T Pirate's Cove)

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It's about time someone told the ACLU to "shove it" in regards to their overweening concern about the separation of church and state.

These asshats take themselves far too seriously and should be spending more of their time dealing with actual constitutional dilemmas rather than a less-than-honest complaint about where a particular high school graduation takes place.

Let's face it, ACLU, there are far more pressing problems for you to deal with than this silly crap.

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We missed our deadline for getting the Official Weekend Pundit Lake Winnipesaukee Runabout, aka The Boat, into the water this year. Eleven days of rain and cold weather delayed a lot of the work we otherwise would have accomplished. Hopefully we'll get caught up on quite a bit of it tomorrow and will have it ready to launch by next weekend.

While Deb is bothered by our putting The Boat into the water this year, mainly due to fuel costs (gas is expected to be around $5 per gallon on the lake), neither BeezleBub or I are concerned. Our time out on the lake is one of the few enjoyments we have left, considering the state of the economy. All of us have cut back on most of our activities, leaving our time boating on the lake as the last one. Deb's suggestion to not bother with the boat this year stirred up a mutiny, with BeezleBub voicing the loudest objection.

While we may not go out to some of the farther reaches of the lake this year, we still plan a number of go-slow trips to some of our favorite nearby places to anchor, swim, eat, and just hang out. While the amount of time we spend out there will be close to what we've spent in past summers, we'll be going slower and using a lot less fuel in the process. I believe we can keep the costs under control as long as we don't overdo it in regards to where we go.

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And that the news from Lake Winnipesaukee, where the summer weather has finally arrived, the summerfolk are here in full force, and where we still have another day to celebrate and remember the sacrifices made by our Armed Forces to keep us safe and free.
As I read this Professor Stephen L. Carter piece about the uncertainties of government regulation and its effects on businesses and hiring, the more I nodded my head in agreement. Everything I read reflects what I've heard from a number of business owners here in the Lakes Region of New Hampshire: Without knowing exactly what government is going to throw at us in the way of ever more overreaching (and expensive) regulations, there's no way we're going to hire anyone new. Period.

A lot of middling and small businesses have seen their margins shrink, leaving them very little in the way of wiggle room when new government regulations and requirements hit them. How is any business going to plan for the future when government "regulation" is now such a big unknown? With most of the new regulations having absolutely nothing to do with safety, environmental issues, or pay, but more often financial matters, all they do is add unneeded costs to businesses. Sometimes those new rules and regulations turn an otherwise profitable business into an unprofitable one, and when that happens far too many of them close.

All of these regulations do nothing but provide more employment for government workers, not workers actually producing goods and services our economy depends upon. How is this supposed to help our economic recovery?

(H/T Instapundit)

Awww.....

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This is just too cute to ignore.

A cat cuddles a kitten having a bad dream.


EMBED-Cat Hugs Baby Kitten Having Nightmare - Watch more free videos
Usually you'll hear the Left disparage Fox News, calling it nothing more than a mouthpiece for the Right. Some leftist organizations have actually called for its destruction, and one, Media Matters For America (MMFA), is actively working to silence it.

But from the Left comes a voice defending Fox News and condemning MMFA for its unconstitutional and un-American actions.

Norman Horowitz writes:

Many take the position that if you do not approve of what someone's press is publishing that it is acceptable to somehow destroy the offending press.

In the "pretend spirit" of free speech Media Matters for America (MMFA) wants to stifle the free press rights of Fox News. MMFA is not at all pleased with Fox News and has chosen to find a way to stop Fox News from publishing.

It is both sad and objectionable that MMFA objects to press freedom.

Horowitz includes the letter from MMFA CEO Matt Butler, outlining MMFA's plans to silence Fox News by going after the advertisers supporting it. It almost sounds like mob tactics from past, inducing businesses to stop doing business with someone who has fallen out of favor with the mob bosses.

Why is the Left always falls back on tactics that are right out of the Mobster's Handbook if they feel they can't win support of the public based upon the merits of their arguments? Could it be because they realize they are losing public support for their morally and financially bankrupt political ideology and feel they must "Do Something!!" in order to prove their way is the right way, even though it isn't? It certainly seems that way to me.

Horowitz continues:

Media Matters of course can take issue with what Fox News promulgates and can publish opposing opinions of its own.

If you don't approve of it don't watch it, read it, or listen to it. Suggest that your friends and family might choose to do the same and that is fine.

But MMFA has crossed a line by trying to stifle a voice of which they don't approve. They suggest, in a manner of speaking, that the public destroy the Fox presses by removing the financial support of Fox News that comes from Madison Avenue.

What a horrid position it is for MMFA to take.

We all need to support the right to publish commentators such as Glenn Beck and many others at Fox News. I personally find what they are spewing noxious. But that's the point. As distasteful as it might be, we all need to defend speech we don't agree with as long as it's not inciting people to riot and things of that nature.

If MMFA doesn't like much of what is said on Fox News, they can say so, and they can say it quite LOUDLY.

But their shouting emits a foul odor when they are advocating the suppression of views expressed on Fox News along with the suppression of Fox News itself.

And wouldn't they scream loudly if someone were to try the same tactics against MMFA? Of course they would. But somehow only the anointed are allowed to advocate silencing dissent. And some of them would recommend using any means necessary to do so, just as has been done so many times over the past 100 years or so in places like the Soviet Union, Nazi Germany, China, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Venezuela, and a host of other nations around the world.

It seems they would like to add the United States to that list. But then far too many statists like the extreme Left in this country would see that as a Progressive paradise.

At least one "raging liberal" sees the danger in that.

Kudos to Norman Horowitz.
Apparently I'm not the only one who thinks a Cain/Palin or Palin/Cain GOP ticket is a likely winner for the 2012 election.
I know I've written about these before, but the post was lost when my original blog site disappeared.

What am I talking about? Laser spark plugs.

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Quite of bit of progress has been made since I last covered it about 4 years ago or so, with the size of the laser units now being slightly larger than traditional spark plugs. One of the advantages of laser plugs versus traditional spark plugs? More efficient combustion.

Engines make NOx as a byproduct of combustion. If engines ran leaner - burnt more air and less fuel - they would produce significantly smaller NOx emissions.

Spark plugs can ignite leaner fuel mixtures, but only by increasing spark energy. Unfortunately, these high voltages erode spark-plug electrodes so fast, the solution is not economical. By contrast, lasers, which ignite the air-fuel mixture with concentrated optical energy, have no electrodes and are not affected.

These lasers also improve efficiency, according to their creators. Conventional spark plugs sit on top of the cylinder and only ignite the air-fuel mixture close to them. The relatively cold metal of nearby electrodes and cylinder walls absorbs heat from the explosion, quenching the flame front just as it starts to expand.

Lasers, Taira explains, can focus their beams directly into the center of the mixture. Without quenching, the flame front expands more symmetrically and up to three times faster than those produced by spark plugs.

Another plus of laser ignition is that there can be more than a single ignition point within the cylinder, which in turn gives better control over combustion.

While I don't expect to see sets of these new laser plugs in the local auto parts store any time soon, it does show us research and development of systems that will increase the efficiency of internal combustion engines continues.
On Wednesday an important vote takes place in the New Hampshire House, one that may well change the course the Granite State been following the previous 4 years.

Some time tomorrow the House is supposed to vote on overriding Governor John Lynch's veto of House Bill 474, the Right To Work bill. The bill originally passed in both the House and the Senate with overwhelming majorities, though the original House vote was just 14 votes shy of a veto-proof majority.

However, House Majority leader William O'Brien may delay Wednesday's vote long enough to lock in the last votes he'll need to override the veto.

HB 474 supporters say the state will see a burst of job growth if the bill becomes law, and point to other right-to-work states as proof. Critics say right-to-work brings lower-paying jobs with fewer benefits, and that it sticks the nose of government into contract talks between labor and management.

If HB 474 becomes law, New Hampshire would be the 23rd state, and the first in the Northeast, to adopt the principle.

A lot of pro-union folks point to the "lower-paying jobs with fewer benefits" canard as if that explains everything and no further discussion is required. However, most of the 22 Right To Work states have a lower cost of living, so unless that factor is taken into account, which union supporters choose to ignore, the comparison is meaningless. As I've mentioned before, a perfect example of this factor can be seen in the battle between the NLRB and the state of South Carolina and Boeing.

The unions in Washington State claim Boeing's new plant is denying the working men and women a living wage. While the pay for those employees in South Carolina is less than the pay of the union workers in Washington, the cost of living in South Carolina is also lower (as is the cost of doing business), which implies that taken as a whole, the workers in South Carolina are receiving comparable pay to those in Washington State.

And so it might be here in New Hampshire as well. If it helps lower the cost of doing business, then Right To Work will help lure more businesses from high cost states like Massachusetts, New York, Connecticut, and Rhode Island, just to name a few. (It doesn't hurt that New Hampshire also has no sales or income tax.)

The days of forced financial support of unions by those not wishing to do so must come to an end. As the reasons for the existence of unions no longer exist, maybe it's time for them to fade away into history.
Last month I mentioned doing battle with a pernicious bit of computer malware that wanted money in order to make it go away, conning the unwary computer owner by offering to clean the list of viruses its 'free' scan showed were infecting the computer. I called it an extortion virus because its creators wanted money in order to make it go away.

Now I hear about yet another extortion virus out there doing something very similar, but this time the malware mimics a progressive hard drive failure and offers to 'fix' it...for a fee.

Gee, isn't owning a computer fun?

Thoughts On A Sunday

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I guess the world didn't end yesterday at 6PM EDT as one preacher predicted.

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Even though the weather has gotten a bit better, it's still been far too wet, with rain every day. At least we aren't being inundated like the folks down south, but still it's been darned inconvenient. The lawn here at The Manse badly needs mowing, weeding is long overdue, and the local farmers are now behind on their planting because their fields are too muddy and their tractors get stuck.

Here's to hoping things will indeed dry out as the Weather Guys™ keep promising.

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Does the New Hampshire House have the votes needed to override Governor John Lynch's veto of the Right-To-Work bill?

I'd have to say the odds are "even and pick 'em". Considering 40 GOP members of the New Hampshire House voted against the bill originally and another 36 didn't even bother to vote, it's going to be a close thing.

Speaking as a former union member, I'm hoping Speaker of the New Hampshire House Bill O'Brien can garner the votes needed to make New Hampshire the 23rd Right-To-Work state. I'm betting if it comes to pass we'll see the Granite State lead the Northeast states in regards to recovering from the Great Recession.

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Now that Obama has worked yet another miracle with his "Smart Diplomacy", throwing Israel under the bus, I'm wondering how long it will be before he throws his support behind those wishing to destroy Israel, like Hamas, Hezbollah, and their sponsors.

Considering he's managed to piss off our allies and been cozying up to our enemies, I figure it won't be long. I also have to wonder how long it will take before American Jews who supported him in 2008 will realize he's not their friend either.

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Herman Cain has made it official: He's running for president in 2012.

Frankly, I like him better than just about any of the other GOP hopefuls, with one exception. And should Palin throw her hat into the ring I'm going to have a tough time deciding between them. On the other hand, a Cain/Palin or Palin/Cain ticket might be a tough one for The One to beat.

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Something I just realized after rereading what I just wrote above: Maybe the McCain/Palin ticket in 2008 was the wrong combination. Maybe a Cain/Palin ticket will get the job done.

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Jay Tea adds his 2¢ worth in regards to GOP presidential hopefuls and passes on some wisdom from Fletcher Knebel's Dark Horse well worth remembering for this upcoming presidential campaign season.

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DJ Drummond has some thoughts about corporate America, how it is demonized by those wishing to loot it for their own gain, and how when global effective tax rates on corporations (meaning what corporations actually pay in taxes) are compared, US corporations pay about eight percentage points more taxes than corporations based outside the US.

As DJ reminds us:

...corporations don't vote but people do, so a lot of politicians, pretty much everywhere, try to promise low taxes to people but increase taxes on corporations, especially if those businesses can be smeared as economic villains. In reality, however, corporations represent jobs, economic growth and stability, and when government goes after corporations, then government is attacking jobs and GDP.

Indeed.

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How assimilation works and how multiculturalism has wrecked California.

California has become Balkanized, with cultural enclaves that can in no way be considered American and are more like foreign countries, bring along with them the very problems they sought to escape by coming here.

(H/T Maggie's Farm)

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I wonder if donors to Dartmouth College found out that almost a fifth of the funds they've provided in the way of endowments were skimmed off the top by the Dartmouth administration whether they would be so inclined to give anything at all?

Up until about a decade ago, every penny of the amount drawn off went to the purposes intended by the donor: salaries, internships, research grants, department special expenses, travel programs, etc. -- in short, real educational efforts to the direct benefit of students and faculty members. However, the Wright administration could not keep its hands off that income stream, and about a decade ago it instituted "the levy." From that time onward a percentage that gradually rose to 14% of the money paid out of restricted endowments was skimmed off to pay for various College operating expenses having no relation whatsoever to the educational endeavor for which the original gift was intended (in our example, that would be 14% of the 5.5% payout).

At some point in the last few months, unbeknownst to the faculty or its senior committees, this percentage was raised to 19%.

--snip--

Faculty only learned about the change recently, when they were apprised by the administration of the exact amount of money available to departments and programs in the coming fiscal year from their various endowments. While the stock market had risen, payouts had inexplicably dropped -- and when department and program heads expressed incomprehension at their unexpectedly low budgets, they were finally told of the change. Needless to say, the conversation at this week's meeting of the Committee of Chairs was, shall we say, animated.

Nineteen percent seems to be a hefty levy on money donated to the college for the purpose of promoting the education of our children. How is it the administration thought they could get away with skimming that much money off of the endowment payouts without anyone noticing? I don't know about you, but if I was one of the donors I would not be pleased by any means.

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And that's the news from Lake Winnipesaukee, where the sunny weather hasn't quite reached us yet, the weeds need pulling, and Memorial Day Weekend is fast approaching.
In a post by Matt Patterson, he tries to make the case for jobs that have been lost during this deep recession never returning. While it may be true that some types jobs may be gone forever, it is not inevitable that the total number of jobs will decline from here on out. Through the process of "creative destruction", one kind of job was replaced by a different one. But as Patterson writes, at least one economist thinks this pattern will no longer be true.

In his penetrating new book The Great Stagnation, economist Tyler Cowen warns that this may have been a temporary and anomalous phenomenon. Cowen calls the period from roughly the early 19th to the mid-20th centuries the era of "low hanging fruit." According to Cowen, technological advances in this period were relatively easy to produce and exploit, resulting in a staggering explosion of living standards.

But by around 1970, most of this low hanging fruit had been plucked and growth rates began to slow. Indeed, growth rates are "lower today than before 1973, no matter what exact numbers you settle on for the absolute living standard." Cowen sees this fact directly tied to the innovation plateau that was reached around the same time: "The United States produced more patents in 1966 (54,600) than in 1993 (53,200)," he notes. "Meaningful innovation has become harder, and so we must spend more money to accomplish real innovations, which means a lower and declining rate of return on technology."

--snip--

This digital depressant trickles all the way down to old fashioned companies. McDonald's recently announced it will do away with cashiers in many of its European restaurants, replacing them with touch-screen ordering systems. This innovation may (or may not) make ordering your Big Mac a faster experience, but it will definitely eliminate countless opportunities for young and low-skilled workers.

On his last point, couldn't it be the cost of labor in Europe is artificially high due to government mandates and labor laws that replacing expensive humans with less expensive technology makes economic sense? When government and labor laws make it more expensive to hire people for what would otherwise be minimum wage jobs, then how can it be a surprise to anyone that businesses like McDonald's won't hire them? (It's not all that different than what we see happening here every time the Leftists in Congress beholden to the labor unions raise the minimum wage. Each time that happens, joblessness among those seeking entry level jobs goes up because small businesses have a tougher time justifying the added expense, particularly during times of economic hardship.)

One commenter hit the nail on the head, detailing why Cowen's claim about the decline of the American economy is inevitable is absurd.

We are inventing more things, faster than ever before. The past innovations "destroyed jobs" -- and made society wealthier and created new jobs, different jobs, to replace those that had gone before. This is nothing but the song of the Luddites.

HOWEVER...

For that process of creative destruction to work, it is necessary to ALLOW the new jobs and new industries to be created. And THAT, not some illusory "low hanging fruit", is what has been changing over the last generation or two. The regulatory burden on new industries has climbed ever higher.

Right now, in laboratories around the U.S. people are working on fusion power, cheap space travel, synthetic fuel from algae, sensors for automated medical diagnosis, and so on, and on, and on.

And if we lived in a free country, sooner than you think, some of those would be part of our everyday lives. The decision to decline is a CHOICE -- not a fate.

Unfortunately our fate is in the hands of people within government who really don't like America all that much and are working as hard as they can to cripple its innovative and robust economy in an effort to make it more egalitarian (at least by their definition). Unfortunately we've seen the results of such socio-economic experiments before, and they've always turned out poorly for everyone involved...except the ruling class, of course. (And even then, some have seen their fiefdoms crumble away and leave them as destitute as the rest of their fellow countrymen.)

Unless we can break the government imposed malaise on our economy, we will indeed see those jobs lost over the past few years gone for good, with no new jobs to replace them, and we will indeed decline as a nation.

Ignorance By Choice

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One of the conclusions I must draw from observations made over a number of yeas is that far too many of the Left are ignorant. I'm not talking about the kind of ignorance that comes from not being exposed to ideas, facts, or events outside one's experience, but willful ignorance, ignorance by choice.

Reading the comments of pro-union readers of South Carolina governor Nikki Haley's opinion piece in the WSJ about the NLRB's suit against Boeing were telling, showing (to me) how much of their thinking was pure indoctrination, not backed by fact or evidence. Their hatred of businesses in general and Boeing in particular was out in the open. If such reactions revealed anything, it was their willful ignorance about how the economy operates, how businesses function, where money actually comes from, and how unions have changed and are not the organizations they once were.

Many of the positive views of the unions expressed by the pro-union commenters were right out of the 1930's. Far too many of them seem to think that if it weren't for the unions "protecting" the working man today we'd all be working for slave wages and child labor laws would be struck down and all our kids would be working in the textile mills again. They truly believe only a union can provide fair wages, benefits, and working conditions that otherwise would be unavailable to anyone. That may have been true back 100 years ago, but not today. With all of the labor and employment laws on the books (many brought about by the work of the unions decades ago), the need for unions for that kind of protection no longer exists. But to read what some of the pro-union have put forth, you'd think we were only a day or two away from going back to those bad old days.

And then there's this bit of willful ignorance in which far too many of them indulge: money, and where it actually comes from.

Do they truly believe the money is all just piled in bank vaults, "meant to be shared equally amongst Americans"? To listen to some of them, the answer is yes. But it overlooks one principle that so many of the rest of us recognize as being a fundamental truth: Money isn't owed to anyone, it is earned. And that money isn't just sitting in piles in bank vaults where it does no one, even the rich, any good. It has to be used, has to circulate to be of any good to anyone. Otherwise it's just piles of paper with pictures of dead presidents printed on them.

One of the other falsehoods that many of the Left believe at a gut level appears to be that wealth is a zero sum game, and that for someone to become wealthy someone else has to become poor. They either don't realize or care that the size of the proverbial "pie" they want to portion out to everyone is not static. It grows and shrinks with the economy. And of those who do understand the size of the pie changes, far too many of them believe only the wealthy benefit when the economy grows, and only the middle class and poor see their share of the pie shrink when the economy shrinks. The truth is everyone gains and everyone suffers as the pie grows and shrinks. Everyone.

But why confuse them with the facts? They aren't interested in any case.
This has to be the best marriage proposal, ever. It's also one of the cleverest I've seen.

How fast can a presidential campaign implode? If we go by Newt Gingrich's experience, in as little as three days.

Here it is, only Wednesday, and Newt has managed to piss off both GOP and Tea Party members. That's no way to win a shot at the Oval Office. Slamming Republicans in Congress by equating the entire party as no better than the Democrats, particularly in regards to Medicare reform, is no way to gain supporters. It appears he's been out of the loop in Washington DC for too long. Better that he said nothing at all about it.

With that and some of the other faux pas he's managed couple of days, most of his time is going to be spent on damage control and not campaigning.

That's not an auspicious start to any campaign.
Received via e-mail.

What happens when the IT department runs out of money in its budget:

pizza box laptop 800x450.jpg
A couple of weeks ago I linked to this WSJ opinion piece about the NLRB's suit to block Boeing from opening their new 787 Dreamliner plant, written by South Carolina governor Nikki Haley. I've read all 1081 comments made by the readers of that opinion piece since I posted about Governor Haley's righteous indignation.

Some praised Governor Haley calling out President Obama for remaining silent about the actions of one of his un-confirmed recess appointees. Others blasted Governor Haley for being anti-union/anti-working man/anti-Democrat and a pro-business Republican, accusing her of collusion with big bad Boeing. Most of the latter were vehemently pro-union and couldn't even think of not toeing the union line as they've been so indoctrinated into thinking today's unions are working to "better the working man and saving the middle class" when the facts show otherwise.

In all of the 1081 comments I never saw even one mention of two of the most salient facts that should have changed at least part of the discussion.

The first: Boeing came to South Carolina over two years ago. Over two years ago. Not yesterday. Not last month. Not last year. Construction on the plant started quite some time ago and is almost complete. Both the unions and the NLRB knew that. It wasn't like it was sprung on them at the last minute.

The second: How could Governor Haley have had anything to do with the Boeing/NLRB debacle? She's only been governor since January 12th. (She did serve in the South Carolina legislature for 6 years before running for governor.) Reading many of the pro-union comments, you'd think she singlehandedly induced Boeing to stiff the unions in Washington State, burdened her fellow South Carolinians with new barely-above-minimum-wage-with-no-benefits jobs, caused Boeing to only hire 2600 new employees in their Washington Dreamliner plant, and had Boeing build their new plant during the time she's been governor.

More than one pro-union commenter tried to compare apples to oranges in regards to wages, totally ignoring the differences in the cost of living between Washington and South Carolina. Washington State ranks 35th in cost of living versus 24th for South Carolina (lower numbers are better). The rankings are based on composite 2010 data. So lower wages in a lower cost-of-living state may actually mean workers there might have more disposable income than higher wage earners in high cost-of-living states.

OK, I've gotten a little off topic, but I was trying to make a point. All the pro-union commenters kept trying to play the same old union talking points that have been played since the 1930's, and no one was buying it. More than a few of the anti-union commenters were former union members and understood the downsides of unions and union membership and how they more often than not killed jobs and the businesses providing them and wanted nothing more to do with them. As a former union member myself, I have to agree with those now anti-union brethren.

Thoughts On A Sunday

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All outside work has stopped at The Manse for the time being. With rain since yesterday early evening and forecasts saying we'll have rain all week, the chances to do much of anything outside has dwindled to almost zero.

But even if there were no rain, the black flies are out in force this spring, making it uncomfortable to be outdoors for any great length of time. Those little bloodsuckers bite and it hurts like heck. What's worse is that their bites can easily get infected and trouble you for days afterwards. Even Deep Woods Off doesn't keep them away for long.

It's been a wet spring and that means there's plenty of running water, which black flies need to reproduce, unlike mosquitoes which require stagnant water. I expect we'll also see a bumper crop of mosquitoes as well once the rains clear out.

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As if we weren't expecting this.

Eric the Viking links to and comments upon reports that both Medicare and Social Security will go broke sooner than the government's original projections.

I always thought their predictions were optimistic at best, ignoring the increasing imbalance between those paying into the system and those collecting benefits. Of course if the government hadn't 'borrowed' the Social Security funds to pay for all kinds of other government spending back in the 60's and 70's, replacing them with worthless IOU's, Social Security wouldn't be in the position it is now.

It's times like this that make me wish I could find a replacement flux capacitor to fix my WAYBAC machine so I could go back in time and tell those Congressional morons to leave the funds alone.

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Oh, I wish I had the bal..uhh...stones to say something like this to the TSA jerks at the airport security checkpoints!

(H/T Scary Yankee Chick)

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David Starr has a breakdown of the $4 billion oil industry tax break, showing it isn't what Obama and his Congressional hacks say it is. And from what little reading I've done on the matter, it isn't something companies like Exxon-Mobil, Chevron, or other big oil firms receive in any case.

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This just in: Osama bin Laden is still dead.

Other reports say he had a rather large porn stash at his hideout as well.

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Cubachi tells us Herman Cain is taking a different tack that Obama, claiming "Being number 2 is not in our DNA."

The more I listen to Cain and read about him, the more I like the guy.

I prefer to think of him as the anti-Obama.

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My second favorite Texan, Kathleen McKinley, points us to an article about this perpetual war we find ourselves in.

As Kathleen writes:

While reading it, I realized that both sides have their own reasons for going to war or intervening around the world. Since the internet, we now get a real sense of what people are going through in other countries. I know I have been riveted on twitter to tweets from Egypt, Bahrain, and Libya.

--snip--

What does this mean for us? Will we continue to war over all the world's conflicts? Even those that do not affect us? It's a question we need to ask.

Indeed.

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While some folks struggle with trying to convince us global warming is All-The-Fault-Of-The-Evil-Humans, there are others hoping that it is indeed true the world is warming because it will make their homeland more livable, just as it was a thousand years ago.

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First, they go after Boeing and the state of South Carolina. Now they're going after the state of Arizona and a not-yet enforced law that guarantees secret ballots for unionization votes. "They" are, of course, the NLRB.

As one commenter from Arizona put it, "We need to eliminate the NLRB. It's become nothing more than a taxpayer-funded litigation arm of big unions."

It smells more and more like the old Mob protection rackets institutionalized into government working at the behest of and to the advantage of the union bosses.

(H/T Instapundit)

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Is conservative talk radio dead? It is if you believe John Avlon. However, Dan Riehl disagrees and proves his point with real ratings numbers.

(H/T Pirate's Cove)

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Want to cut a few billion in wasteful government spending from the budget? Then a good place to start is the Department of Housing and Urban Development, which has left a trail of stalled or abandoned projects in its wake.

These days a HUD grant is a license to steal taxpayer dollars.

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And that's the news from Lake Winnipesaukee, where the rains continue to fall, the black flies are thriving, and where summerfolk were in short supply this weekend.

Prom Night

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I must admit to an oversight. I didn't post last night because I forgot. I had plenty to write about, but I was sidetracked by another event - BeezleBub's prom night.

Deb, the WP Mom-In-Law, her mother-in-law (BeezleBub's great-grandmother), and I went to the high school for the Grand March, where the couples attending the prom were presented to the public. After that they departed the school and arrived at Weirs Beach to board the M/S Mount Washington cruise ship, host to their prom.

Deb returned to work and the WP Mom-In-Law, her mother-in-law, and I went out to eat. After dinner we returned to The Manse and the next few hours were spent in conversation. I didn't realize how late it was until BeezleBub returned home (about a half hour before midnight). I have no idea where the time went. The chances of writing anything meaningful had disappeared, particularly since it was so late and bed beckoned.

I did manage to snag one quick picture of BeezleBub and his date, Hobbit. Ain't they cute?

Prom Night 2011 542x872.jpg
Click on image to enlarge
On the energy front, it appears fusion is back in the news.

The claim that fusion power was "only 20 years away" has been made for the past 50 years or so. While science is closer to achieving the goal, it's the means of getting there that has been intriguing. Much of the effort (and the money) has been spent on one of two possible technologies for achieving break-even fusion: high temperature/high pressure magnetic confinement and laser ignition.

The first uses a tokamak reactor, basically a torus surrounded by electromagnets used to generate a magnetic field to contain a high-temperature plasma. The second uses 'pellets' containing tritium or deuterium that are dropped sequentially into the focus point of a large number of laser beams (the National Ignition Facility uses 192 very high power laser beams). The beams are supposed to collapse the pellets to create a high temperatures and pressures in their core which should force the tritium and deuterium to fuse.

The problems with both of these technologies is the expense (billions, so far) and the complexity of the systems. Even if they were able to achieve above break-even yields, meaning they were generating more energy than they were using, commercialization of the technology could take a decade or more and cost additional billions.

But as MSNBC has been reporting, the more promising fusion technologies are those on the fringes. One in particular, called polywell fusion, something I've covered before, is showing great promise.

EMC2 Fusion doesn't have tens of millions of venture capital to play with -- but it does have a $7.9 million Navy contract to test a plasma technology known as inertial electrostatic confinement fusion, also known as Polywell fusion. The idea is to accelerate positively charged ions in an electrical cage to such an extent that they occasionally spark a fusion reaction, releasing energy and neutrons. The concept was pioneered by the late physicist Robert Bussard, and carried forward by the EMC2 Fusion team in Santa Fe, N.M.

So far every generation of the Bussard-designed WB ("whiffle ball") reactors has performed just as Bussard's calculations have said they would. Each generation of WB reactors has been larger than its predecessor and each generation's results have scaled likewise.

Should polywell fusion turn out to be something that actually works it will turn the energy industry on its ear, creating a source of cheap and clean power that doesn't have the downsides of present day uranium cycle fission power plants.

Another thing to mention - should polywell succeed, the cost of building fusion power plants will be in the double-digit millions, not billions.
I am about to write one of the terms most hated by businesses in America these days:

SarbOx.

This refers to the Sarbanes-Oxley bill that came in the aftermath of the Enron debacle. While the intent of SarbOx was to help prevent another Enron and the economic damage that went with it, it has in itself created all kinds of harm to businesses because of its draconian requirements.

Accounting and reporting requirements have added to business costs with nothing to show for it. SarbOx fixed nothing. Even if it had been in force before the Enron debacle, it wouldn't have prevented it.

Some of the side effects of SarbOx:
A decline in IPOs (Initial Public Offerings). This is how private companies go public, offering stock to the public as a means to raise capital for expansion. Without this mechanism, many businesses can't expand as they might have planned, which means fewer jobs are created and less money can be made.

An increase in mergers and acquisitions because IPOs have fallen out of favor due to the requirements of SarbOx.

An increase in number of public companies going private. Some of this may be driven by the burden placed upon public companies by SarbOx. Going private removed much of this burden, but also made it more difficult to raise capital. Apparently they saw this as less encumbering than having to deal with SarbOx.

It slows down speedy financial disclosure, something the SEC requires. With the convoluted requirements of SarbOx, such disclosure is darn near impossible.

Costs of compliance are quite high. The SEC had estimated it would cost companies required to report under SarbOx only $91,000 per year to do so. The actual costs are closer to $7.8 million per year (this is a 2008 figure). Accounting costs have doubled due to the reporting requirements. Other than accountants and attorneys, how has this benefited anyone?

So it all boils down to this: SarbOx costs businesses billions in compliance costs, delays up-to-date financial reporting, has squeezed out investment capital, and cost jobs (except those of accountants). Yet with all it was supposed to do it hasn't prevented much of anything that existing SEC rules and regulations already covered. It wasn't that there weren't sufficient laws on the books to deal with things like the Enron scam. It was that what laws that were already on the books weren't being properly enforced. How does piling on even more laws, rules, and regulations fix that?

Unfortunately we're all paying the price for that lack of oversight and enforcement.

Now We're Cookin'!

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Our cable company has done something kind of cool, something I noticed almost immediately.

They've cranked up the download speeds for their Internet service!

Download speeds for the level of service we pay for here at The Manse are now 10Mbps, up from 6Mbps. The upper residential service tier provides 18Mbps (requires a DOCSIS 3.0 cable modem).

I ran a number of tests over the past few days and the slowest download speed I measured was 8.6Mbps which occurred during a nominally heavy usage time of the day. Average speeds somewhere north of 9.6Mbps.

Unfortunately the upload speed hasn't changed at all, with 500Kbps being the norm, but it isn't often that we're uploading big files from The Manse.

I will admit to some suspicion about the reasons for the bump up in speed. Might it have something to do with upcoming franchise contract renewal negotiations for a number of towns within the cable company's service area? Maybe that's just me being paranoid...or not.

Thoughts On A Sunday

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It was one of those unpredictable days yesterday, at least in regards to the weather.

It was sunny and warm in the morning and I assumed it would be that way for most of the rest of the day. But every time I would go out to the Official Weekend Pundit Clothesline to hand laundry it would start to rain, accompanied by lightning and thunder. So the clothes would have to go into the drier and once almost dry, the sun would come out. As soon as another load was ready to hang, another thundershower would come through.

I couldn't win.

Sometimes it just happens that way.

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I believe I mentioned this earlier, but it bears repeating.

The Manse no longer has a landline.

Since Deb, BeezleBub and I all have cell phones and the landline was used primarily for incoming calls, it made no sense to continue paying $44 per month to keep something we rarely use anymore. We probably kept it longer than we should have mainly from habit. Both Deb and I grew up in homes where a wired telephone was the norm. It was something we knew and were comfortable with having, so we really didn't think much about it. But with the continuing economic downturn and our household budget under strain (like so many others), we realized keeping the landline was more a concession to nostalgia than a necessity. So we decided to do away with it.

When we called the cable company to disconnect the line (our service was though the local cable MSO), the service rep understood our reason. She confided in me that she no longer has a landline either for the same reason.

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This is something I can get behind! (Or better yet, in front of...)

(H/T Ann Althouse @ Instapundit)

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Cubachi links to and comments about Sarah Palin and her knowledge of energy policy.

Of all potential presidential candidates from either party, she probably has the most comprehensive knowledge and experience. She also understands how the Obama Administration's efforts and policies have sent the wrong message and driven up oil prices needlessly.

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This just in: Osama bin Laden is still dead....

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Ace of Spades has a comparison between President Obama's speech announcing the death of Osama bin Laden and President George Bush's speech announcing the capture of Saddam Hussein.

Obama's speech was, as usual, all about him. He used the word 'I' continuously, as if he was the one actually there, pulling the trigger.

Bush, on the other hand, used the word 'I' twice, and both times saying "I have a message... ," once for the Iraqi people and once for the American people. As RD Brewer writes, "President Bush's speech is completely outwardly directed. He speaks of the momentous occasion and gives all credit to the military and the intelligence community. There is no attempt to highlight his part in the story. Quite a contrast. "

Indeed. But then we've always known it's all about Obama.

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Did Osama's second in command, Zawahiri, rat him out? Or was it the Saudis, the Iranians, or the Mossad?

Regardless, Osama bin Laden is still dead.

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So we go in an get bin Laden in Abbotabad, Pakistan without informing the Pakistani government or military because we knew there were sympathizers within their ranks who would have tipped him off. In return, the Pakistanis reveal the identity of the CIA station chief in Islamabad.

Somehow I get the feeling the Obama's Administration's response will be "Ho-hum. I guess we had it coming." Not that I expect any other response.

(H/T Pirate's Cove)

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I have to agree with Jay Tea on this one: If it weren't for double standards, they'd have no standards at all.

I don't even need to explain who 'they' are. You already know the answer to that.

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I think this says it all:

Vindication: When the loudest critic of your policies achieves his greatest success because of them.

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Have you ever wondered why so many Americans don't trust scientists? I certainly have. What's worse is that many will trust "scientists" on matters where there's little or no proof, just poorly proven conjecture (like AGW), yet totally distrust them on issues where there's reams of scientific data disproving popular pseudo-science (the vaccine-autism link).

What could be the cause of this disconnection? Here's one possible explanation.

Humans do seem to prize accuracy above all. We want our beliefs to be accurate--to align with what is really true about the world--and we know that science is a reliable guide to accuracy. But this desire to be accurate conflicts with other motives, some of them unconscious. People hold beliefs to protect important values, for example. Individuals who think of nature as sacred may perceive genetic modification as morally wrong, regardless of its safety or utility. People also hold beliefs that are rooted in their emotions. A flu pandemic that can cause widespread death among the innocent may cause feelings of fear and helplessness. One way to cope with those emotions is to belittle warnings of a pandemic as improbable.

Emotion can play a large part in what we choose to believe or dis-believe. People will believe pseudo-scientific mumbo-jumbo because in their hearts they want it to be true.

Parents with kids suffering from autism want to be able to point to a cause and say "See, we knew it was some sinister outside cause that made our kids be this way!" Never mind the scientific evidence and years of clinical studies saying otherwise. This also applies to the ongoing Anthropogenic Global Warming debate, with so many people willing to believe all climate change is due entirely to human activity even though the many such theories put forth are so far unprovable.

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And that's the news from Lake Winnipesaukee, where we're stuck in a sunny-in-the-morning/rainy-in-the-afternoon weather cycle, the heavy yard work is slowly being completed, and folks are starting to get their camps and cottages ready for summer.
OK, so I misspoke about what Part 2 would be about. Originally I was going to cover energy, but thoughts and righteous indignation about the EPA overrode that plan.

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One of the government agencies that has most recently caused FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt) among business, and indirectly the people, is the EPA.

While it is the EPA's purview to help safeguard the environment, lately it has been going outside its mandate and trying to regulate economic activities it sees as affecting the environment. This is particularly vexing considering both Congress and the courts have told the EPA they do not have power to do so.

One of the EPA's latest 'crusades' involves energy. In this case making sure it is less available and far more costly. In particular they're trying to impose stricter regulations on the electric utilities and oil companies, bypassing the usual means of doing so and imposing them without the consent of Congress.

Jeff Holmstead, who directed the EPA's air and radiation office from 2001 to 2005 during the Republican President George W. Bush's administration, told the commission the new rules will quickly change policies that have been stable for 40 years. He called the new regulations an "unprecedented" amount of change for power companies.

Part of the problem is that some of the EPA's new rules overlap and contradict many existing rules, both its own and those of other governmental agencies and departments overseeing the energy industry. This leaves the power companies and oil exploration and drilling firms in a bind, making it impossible for them to be in compliance with all the rules and regulations imposed upon them. The EPA also ignores state rules and regulators rather than working with them, which only adds to the confusion.

This is a government agency that has gone rogue and believes it doesn't have to answer to anybody. It ignores the law, ignores the courts, ignores Congress, and ignores the Constitution. It believes it is above the law. It hands down edicts and expects everyone to follow them without question or dissent regardless of the effects on the economy or the environment.

Don't believe me? Then how about the EPA's efforts to 'clean up' the upper Hudson River in an attempt to remove polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) embedded in the silt at the bottom of the river? Their clean up has done far more harm than if they'd left things alone.

By ordering a dredging operation along 40 miles of the Hudson, the EPA has created a disaster of governmental proportions in this quiet upstate community. For six months in 2009, floating clamshell diggers shoveled day and night, pulling sludge from the river bottom around Fort Edward and depositing it onto barges. Six days a week, 24 hours a day, these barges, containing a total of 286,000 cubic yards of sediment mixed with old PCBs, were offloaded into that massive dewatering facility. There the soggy material was treated and squeezed in giant presses. The cakes of compacted sludge were then moved by truck onto 81-car trains, parked on a new spur of the Canadian Pacific Railway extending into the site. Five of these trains were in constant rotation, circulating the 4,400-mile round trip between the facility and the final dump site in Texas.

It was a Herculean attempt at remediation but one that actually increased PCB levels in the Hudson for a time; it also wreaked havoc on locals' lives and imposed huge costs on General Electric. And all this work was only "Phase I" of the EPA's plans. The government is now compelling GE to spend billions of dollars on Phase II, an even larger and longer operation. Dredging will recommence this spring.

And once they start dredging again the PCB levels will rise dramatically and stay that way as long as they continue removing all that silt on the river bottom. That doesn't even take into account the huge amounts of energy expended or pollution generated to clean up the river. They would have been better off to leave it where it was. It wasn't going to go anywhere. Instead, they've made things worse all in the name of "Saving The Environment." It's yet another example of the Law of Unintended Consequences coming into play. Government agencies are pretty good at invoking it.

Maybe it's time to rein in the EPA, to remind them that they work for us and not the other way around. Better yet, to ensure they get the message it might be worthwhile to slash their funding to zero for year. Then refund it the following year after an exhaustive review of the EPA's overreach and implementation of proper controls upon the agency.
Heard at our local general store this afternoon:

A man walks into a bar. The bartender asks him what he'll have to drink.

"A bin Laden!" he answers.

"What's a 'bin Laden?" asks the bartender.

"Two shots and a splash of water..."

You heard it here first.
A few weeks ago my post quoting one of the unfortunate truisms we live under - how regulated portions of the economy tend to have the biggest problems - struck a chord with one of my commenters.

Apparently she believes we don't have enough regulation, citing the problems caused by shady banking practices that helped bring down the economy as the only justification for even more regulation. I came back at her with the problems within the telecommunications industry because of heavy-handed regulation, much of it at the behest of "rent-seekers". Such 'regulation' is crony capitalism at its worst and in the end benefits no one except the rent-seekers. And even they feel the negative effects eventually, making far less money than they might have otherwise and costing the consumers plenty.

There are plenty of other examples of regulation having exactly the opposite effect from the one most would expect. The question is, where to start?

How about one of my favorite targets, gasoline? Or should I say ethanol in gasoline?

Ethanol

The EPA, in it's push to clean up the tailpipe emissions of anything that burns gasoline, decided that pump gas needed something that would help gas burn cleaner, thereby reducing pollution. At first that something was MTBE. MTBE certainly helped engines with carburetors burn cleaner, but it had little effect on fuel injected engines. Unfortunately MTBE had a serious side effect.

While it helped gas burn cleaner, it also polluted water supplies as it was a hydrophilic substance, meaning it was chemically attracted to water. Unfortunately the water it was attracted to far too often was that in out municipal water supplies and private wells. MTBE started showing up in places it didn't belong. It didn't help things that it's also considered a carcinogen.

So in its wisdom, the EPA banned the use of MTBE and decided ethanol would make a great substitute. Like MTBE ethanol also helped gasoline burn cleaner with the added benefit of boosting the octane rating of gasoline. While the water pollution problem was solved, other problems raised their ugly heads, some of them quite costly to deal with.

Like MTBE, ethanol is hydrophilic. It absorbs water. The problem with it is that if it absorbs enough water it separates from the gasoline, turns into a yellowish sludge, and settles to the bottom of the tank. This has two effects. First, it lowers the octane rating of the gasoline. Second, the sludge will clog the fuel systems of the vehicles it's used in.

On more than one occasion I've written about the problems with ethanol in marine gas and how it costs boat owners millions in repairs. The same holds true in other areas, such as small gas-powered equipment. Lawnmowers, chain saws, weed-trimmers, snowblowers, generators, lawn tractors, and a whole host of other equipment don't get along with 90/10 gasoline/ethanol mix presently being sold in the US. Corrosion, detonation, and deterioration of plastic/rubber parts in the fuel systems plague otherwise trouble-free gas powered equipment.

But that's not the whole story of ethanol. There are other unintended consequences created by the use of ethanol as a fuel component.

One of the biggest is the effects on food prices, followed only by the greater pollution generated by its production.

When land previous used to grow food is now used to grow the feedstock for ethanol (corn), the supply of food goes down and prices go up. More pollution is created when those feedstock crops are grown because the farmers will use even more fossil fuels and petroleum-based fertilizers to grow them. The amount of energy derived from the ethanol created from those crops barely equals the amount of energy used to grow and process those crops in the first place.

But do you know what the biggest irony of this story is? Gasoline/ethanol fuels don't help fuel-injected engines burn any cleaner than straight gasoline does. These days, how many engines in cars and trucks sold over the past decade and a half or so aren't fuel injected? None of them.

Oh, and one other thing we must remember about ethanol: it contains less energy per gallon than gasoline, meaning you need to burn more of it to get an equivalent amount of power out of the engine using it. What that means is you get fewer miles per gallon with ethanol-blended gasoline than you do with straight gasoline. And this is good how?

Air Pollution Other Than Tailpipe Emissions

Here's another area where the EPA has gotten it wrong, and it's all going to cost us plenty with little return seen for what we spend.

First, I have to ask you out there how many times you've heard this refrain: "It's just awful! Air pollution is getting worse all the time!"

I've heard it far too often over the past 10 years or so. There's only one problem...it's a lie.

I can't speak for you, but I can honestly say I remember the days when the smog was so bad in some cities that it cast a dark brown pall over them. Automobiles, trucks, power plants, and factories spewed all kinds of noxious fumes from their tailpipes and smoke stacks. The air stank of all kinds of chemicals and partially burned hydrocarbons, even in many of the smaller cities.

Can we honestly say that is the case today? Not by a long shot.

But what effluvia still spews into the atmosphere isn't necessarily the fault of those generating it so much as it's the rather rigid rules created by the EPA that makes it far more expensive to clean up the emissions from the smokestacks than it needs to be. What do I mean by this? Call it the All-Or-Nothing rule.

Let's use coal-fired power plants in the mid-West as an example of the shortsightedness of this rule.

At one point during the Bush Administration, the president wanted to relax rules that would make it easier for the aforementioned coal plants to upgrade their systems to make them more efficient. The upgrades would also have the side effect of making the plants run cleaner than they would without the upgrades. But those upgrades also meant they had to go well beyond those changes and install scrubbers and other air pollution controls as if the plants were brand new. New plants had to meet far stricter emissions requirements than the older plants. The cost to make the older plants meet the new requirements exceeded that of building a new plant. Under EPA rules the utilities had two choices - spend far too much money to upgrade the old plants to meet new plant requirements, or don't do the upgrades at all. There was no in-between solution as far as the EPA was concerned.

So what happened?

President Bush was lambasted by Congressional Democrats and enviro-socialists for "allowing his buddies in the energy industry" to pollute the air all in the name of obscene profits. Congress killed any chance the utilities would get a waiver to reduce their emissions less than the EPA wanted them to. The end effect: the coal plants were not upgraded, their efficiencies were not increased, and their emissions did not decrease. Yet somehow the EPA and the left saw this as a victory for the environment. They wanted the whole thing but they ended up with nothing at all and everyone downstream of those plants are still paying the price.

This is yet another case where government regulation had the opposite effect from that intended.

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This is the first in a series of posts dealing with the problems of government regulation overstepping its bounds and causing far more harm than good.

Part 2 will cover energy and how the government regulations are making sure we'll have less of it at a much higher costs.
Two bits of news aren't helping the economic situation here in New Hampshire.

First, state revenues for the month of April were below projections by about $30 million. That's certainly not going to help with the budget deficit, making this fiscal year's shortfall about $47 million for this fiscal year. That's on top of the existing $800 million deficit from the previous fiscal year. Needless to say, state legislators aren't happy.

"The governor had an opportunity to use responsible and realistic revenue figures like the House budget used, but instead he chose to use numbers that were nearly $300 million higher to hide his greater spending," said Republican State Committee Chairman Jack Kimball.

Over the past four years the governor and the then Democrat majority legislature went on a spending spree, increasing state spending by over 30% over that time, using inflated revenue projections to justify the high spending levels. When revenues fell well below the overly optimistic projections, the governor and legislature failed to address the expenditure problems, instead focusing on trying to increase fees and taxes at a time when most businesses and individuals were struggling to make ends meet. Even with the increases, the state revenues failed to meet projections.

At least the budget for the next two fiscal years are likely to be in balance as the GOP in both the House and Senate cut the proposed 2-year budget by over $700 million, basing it on far more conservative (and realistic) revenue projections.

The second bit of bad news concerns hiring, with over half the businesses in the state planning not to hire any new employees either this year or next year. That doesn't sound like an economic recovery to me.

A number of factors are driving this trend. One New Hampshire businessman explained why he's holding off.

At a meeting attended by about two dozen businessmen and women at the 1st District Congressman's Manchester District Office off Lowell Street, Gary Brown of Raymond-based www.WebPageDesignUSA.com and The Image Factory said he can't afford to hire any more staff and is fighting to keep his current 12 employees working.

"I'm at tipping point, where if I hire any more folks, I will have to pay for national health care," Brown said.

"How an I going to survive? I'm not going to hire," he said.

This is yet another of the unintended consequences of ObamaCare affecting employment, not just here in New Hampshire, but across the nation.

Other businesses will make do with their present staffing levels, even if work does pick up, preferring to pay for overtime rather than benefits for new hires, or hiring temps on those occasions where they need the extra help.

Other factors influencing hiring include energy prices, something some businesses cannot easily pass on to their customers. So to keep their costs low they won't add staff, offsetting their higher energy costs.

Neither bodes well for the employment picture in New Hampshire. I have a feeling this is also true for many other states as well.
Listening and reading the reactions of Americans to the news of Osama bin Laden's demise at the hands of US Navy SEALS has been enlightening.

The local TV station here in New Hampshire reported on many of those reactions. Most were positive, meaning they were glad bin Laden had been brought to justice. A few said they took no joy in his death, but understood it. But one stood out, mainly for his total lack of understanding of the situation, labeling Osama's death as "an assassination."

"You hate to see somebody get away with something this downright evil, but two wrongs don't make a right," said Bob Whyman, of Manchester. "In a way, I was sorry to hear he was dead."

Apparently Mr. Whyman didn't understand that the SEAL mission was not a police action. It was a combat mission in a long running war against someone who had openly waged war against the US. He was given the opportunity to surrender but chose death instead. It was by no means an assassination. Bin Laden was a legitimate target and was taken down within the Rules of Engagement. That he chose to die rather than be captured was his decision, period.

I have to wonder if Mr. Whyman was one of those Leftist whiners who considered the attacks on the US back on September 11th, 2001 as justified because somehow we were at fault for all the barbarism displayed over the years by Muslim extremists. Somehow it wouldn't surprise me to find out that was the case. Thank goodness he is in the minority on this one.
ABC News reports that Osama bin Laden is dead. US forces have his body in their possession and have confirmed it is bin Laden with DNA tests.

Thoughts On A Sunday

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The weather has been conducive to a number of summer-like activities, including our first cookout of the year.

BeezleBub invited a number of his co-workers at the farm to join us for supper last night and we had the Official Weekend Pundit Grill fired up, cooking burgers, dogs, and chicken for our guests. BeezleBub's friend Hobbit was among the crowd as she's also working at the farm again this year.

We can hope that this will be but the first in a long line of cookouts this year.

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Yard work was also on the agenda this weekend, with BeezleBub helping remove the last of this past winter's detritus. Hopefully we'll get everything whipped into shape over the next couple of weeks which will then let us focus on other things for the upcoming summer.

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The state of New Hampshire is only one or two steps away from becoming the 23rd Right-to-Work state in the nation, with the enabling legislation having passed both the New Hampshire House and Senate with veto-proof majorities.

Governor Lynch has sworn to veto the bill, but at this point it seems more like he'll do so just to remain in the good graces of the labor unions. It is expected that if he does veto the bill the New Hampshire legislature will move quickly to override it.

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If New Hampshire does indeed become a Right-to-Work state, I wonder how long it will be before someone like the NLRB will "pull a Boeing" and start demanding businesses move their operations to closed-shop states?

I figure it will be shortly after the first company from a closed-shop state decides to expand their operations in to New Hampshire. Anyone else want to take a stab at it?

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This is all we need:

It's getting harder to bring home the bacon.

And I mean bacon literally. It's not a euphemism.

One of the main causes? Ethanol.

Corn is being diverted for use in ethanol and it's driving up the costs of grain, and in turn, bacon.

Is there nothing corn-derived ethanol can't screw up?

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Investor's Business Daily asks: Is Obama's economic recovery built on McJobs?

Unfortunately the answer appears to be yes.

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It appears Eric the Viking and the other seven Republicans in Massachusetts aren't fans of RomneyCare.

(H/T Viking Pundit)

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Why doesn't New York City and Washington DC want WalMart to open stores in their cities?

It comes down to this: unions versus citizens.

The city governments know they are beholden to unions and will do nothing to jeopardize their being re-elected to office, even if it means stiffing the rest of their constituents.

(H/T Maggie's Farm)

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What happens when science reporting is politicized by the press? Unnecessary panic, unreasonable demands for someone to "Do Something!", questions about the ethics of the press, and even more distrust of the scientific and medical community.

In this case it's the panic and furor over Bisphenol A (BPA), a substance used to add strength and flexibility to plastics. The press stirs up panic while the science folks appear to have little concern about BPA, if any at all. At least the scientific community has a number of studies and quite a bit of data to back up their opinions about BPA.

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Neo-neocon relates what happens when Skynet takes over her smart phone.

(H/T Pirate's Cove)

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Also by way of Pirate's Cove comes this video showing big-government supporters are willing to talk the talk, but not walk the walk when it comes to solving the problems the Left helped create. When college students at UC Berkeley were asked to help pay off their share of national debt ($47,000 was the figure given to them), they refused. Maybe they figured it wasn't their problem.


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If anyone needs an example of how to drive businesses out of your state, then take this lesson from Illinois, which has managed to drive businesses and residents out with its ever higher and more confiscatory taxes.

Federalism -- which serves the ability of businesses to move to greener pastures -- puts state and local politicians under pressure, but that is where they should be, lest they treat businesses as hostages that can be abused. According to the Tax Foundation, Illinois has not only the fourth-highest combined national-local corporate income tax in the nation but also in the industrialized world.

--snip--

A study by the Illinois Policy Institute, a market-oriented think tank, concludes that between 1991 and 2009, Illinois lost more than 1.2 million residents -- more than one every 10 minutes -- to other states. Between 1995 and 2007, the total net income leaving Illinois was $23.5 billion.

That's billion with a 'B'. That's a lot of money to drive out because of business unfriendly policies and taxes. Too bad the governor and legislature can see no connection between the path they've taken and their ever growing budget shortfalls.

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How bad can government regulation actually become? How about so bad that a kid can't even run a lemonade stand in their own neighborhood without running afoul of the health department, tax collector's office, and licensing bureau.

These bureaucrats have far too much time on their hands. That must mean there are too many of them without enough work to do. And since they don't have enough work to keep them occupied they should be laid off to save us both money and grief.

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This just in (11PM): Osama bin Laden is dead.

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And that's the news from Lake Winnipesaukee, where summer is fast approaching, the yard work is never ending, and where we are celebrating the end of a long search for America's Number One Enemy.

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