Recently in Unintended Consequences Category

...and create a lack of human interaction and down time.

Before I even read the post about boredom and smart phones, I knew I was going to agree with the premise.

"Doug Gross writes that thanks to technology, there's been a recent sea change in how people today kill time. 'Those dog-eared magazines in your doctor's office are going unread. Your fellow customers in line at the deli counter are being ignored. And simply gazing around at one's surroundings? Forget about it.' "

Indeed.

How often have you looked around at others while you're walking down the street, waiting at the subway station, or standing at the checkout line and seen people with their heads bowed as if at prayer, gazing down at their smart phones and pecking away at its keyboard or browsing the web? I look around all the time and I see this phenomenon all the time. This is particularly so at social gatherings, be they with friends or at family events.

On more than one occasion at a family gathering of the WP Clan I've seen the teens and young adults pecking away at their phones. They're engaged with whatever is going on on their screens but aren't really in the here and now with everyone else. Whether it's due to boredom (likely) or the 'need' to be connected 24/7/365 (also likely), they're physically present but they aren't interacting with the people actually around them.

Call me a fuddy-duddy, but I have a phone that lets me make phone calls and to text. And while it does have the capability to surf the web, I don't use it (and don't want to pay for it). Texting comes in handy if I need to send or receive messages from the missus or my son that don't require an immediate response (usually reminders about appointments, things to pick up at the supermarket, etc) I won't spend hours at a time pecking away at the keypad to 'talk' to my family, friends, or acquaintances. If I need or want to do that I'll call them and talk to them or, a novel idea, visit them.

I have no problem with being bored on occasion. During the summer I'll go down to the town beach or the boat ramp and just watch people. It amazes me what I'll see there from time to time. Sometimes I take a walk and will think things over. (That helps me a lot at work when I get stuck on something - I'll go take a walk outside and mull things over. I've solved a lot of problems and come up with interesting ideas doing just that.)

However, with the constant stimulation provided by smart phones, tablets, and the like, that opportunity has disappeared for a lot of people. That's a shame.

This reminds me of something I heard a long time ago from a number of different sources that describes exactly what has been going on: Too many people are merely living on this world, not in it. Those in this world live in a state of constant amazement at what they experience.

I'd like to think I'm one of those living in it.

(H/T Instapundit)
As more than one blogger has noted, Romney's choice of Representative Paul Ryan as his running mate is one that will make Team Obama sweat, particularly in light of the fact that Ryan has been a pitbull in regards to the out-of-control spending perpetrated by Congress since 2007 and the Obama administration in particular since January 2009.

It doesn't help Team Obama that Congress hasn't passed a budget for 1,200 days and counting. And Obama's official term runs 1461 days.

Here's some sobering facts about it:

The last time the Senate passed a budget was on April 29, 2009.
The Outstanding Public Debt as of 11 Aug 2012 at 12:38:57 AM GMT is: $15,920,131,113,709.46
The estimated population of the United States is 313,295,427, so each citizen's share of this debt is $50,815.08
Obama's $3.6 trillion budget proposal was defeated this year in the House of Representatives by a vote of 414-0.
Obama's FY2012 budget was defeated last year in the Senate, by a vote of 97-0.
By 2050, the national debt is set to hit 344 percent of the Gross Domestic Product.
By around Election Day, the total debt of the United States will be $16,394,000,000,000.00 ($16.394 trillion).

The first point brought up overlooks the fact that the budget passed then was a carryover from the end of the Bush administration, due directly to the machinations of Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid. The majority Democrat House and Senate delayed a vote on a budget they knew George W. Bush would have vetoed. Instead they relied on six months of continuing resolutions to keep the government funded until after Obama's election and inauguration. That is the major reason "Bush's" last budget was $600 billion in the red - it wasn't his budget, but Pelosi and Reid's.

It's also interesting to note that the last attempt to pass Obama's budget died without a single Democrat vote in favor in either the House or the Senate. Is it that they didn't like it any more than their Republican brethren or that they thought it would be easier to hide increasing deficit spending through the use of continuing resolutions? I'd like to believe they thought it was as much of a stinker as the GOP did. I'd like to. Really.

Should Romney and Ryan be elected to office, and with Ryan added to the ticket it seems to be more likely, I think we can expect the budget hammer to fall. No more trillion dollar plus deficits (we hope). No more "Let's tax the s**t out of the job makers!" No more unfunded mandates or multi-billion dollar government giveaways to industries incapable of standing on their own under any circumstances. No more interference in the energy markets. No more "the government knows best how to run the economy and your lives" BS.

Are Romney and Ryan the perfect candidates for the GOP? No, not by any means. But as we have to be reminded constantly, we can't let perfect be the enemy of good enough. Romney and Ryan are good enough.

Going Out Of Business

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Bill Whittle has another great video, this time dealing with "Going out of business". In this case he's not talking about a company or corporation, but...well, I'll let him tell it.


(H/T Instapundit)
It seems we've had a good run of comments out in the blogosphere with a second round of "Best Comment Ever". In this case it was inspired by President Obama's statement about how no one built anything by themselves, playing the Marxist word game that denigrates individual effort by trying to claim everything ever invented was a collective effort and that the individual couldn't have done it themselves.

Writes Frank Martin in response to our Marxist In Chief:

Just want to be clear Mr. President, in the three years of your Administration, you haven't built a goddamned thing.

My father was self employed all of his post-military service life. My father made furniture. He interviewed his customers at their home, sketched their desires on a piece of paper and then went to his workshop and created the piece from scratch. No one taught him to do this, he figured it out on his own. He took the time, the initiative and applied it to the task. He didn't apply for a job, he became the job. He was both artist and engineer. He was also his own man. He taught me that there is a dignity to work that no amount of good intentions can replace.

He was never rich, but he was free and that was the point of it all. It was never about the money. If people want to sit in envy my father, envy the freedom he had and not the money he made from his labor. He came and went as he pleased, he answered to no man but himself.

He used to say that at the end of the day what we all want from money is to be able to say "Screw you" and suffer no negative consequences from the act. Money simply buys the ability to walk away. My father never had a lot of money, but he was free.

In my 52 years of life, I have never heard anything from any politician that has left me filled with rage as the words the President has used to describe men like my father, the men of this world who live their life with the goal of being dependent on no one and only wish to be left alone.

I want to thank the President for providing me with a moment of clarity.

And should the President continue to provide such moments of clarity to the voting public, he can count on losing the election in November and being booted out of the White House bag and baggage.
Glenn Reynolds has a lengthy post about "brick-and-mortar" retailers versus online shopping. There are quite a few reader e-mail comments and not more than a few links.

One of Glenn's biggest suggestions for the brick-and-mortar shops: "I do feel, though, that brick-and-mortar stores ought to be trying harder to make the shopping experience pleasant. Instead, I often get the feeling that the staff views me as a disturbance to their texting-their-friends time."

I've gotten that same feeling, too.

Around here in the Lakes Region of New Hampshire there are lots of shops that cater more to the seasonal visitors and many of the items they sell probably wouldn't do so well online. Sometimes you've got to be visceral about what you're buying. I find they also tend to bend over backwards to serve their customers.

Unfortunately that effort does not extend to many of the chain stores out here. On more than one occasion I've had problems finding anyone in some of these stores with at least a modicum of knowledge about what they sold. Probably the worst examples can be found at some of the big box stores and electronics retailers.

On more than one occasion I have needed help at one of the big box home improvement stores. I won't name them, but I will tell you they like using signs in Spanish...even in areas where French is the second most spoken language behind English. Trying to find someone who knows anything about what I'm looking for, particularly where I can find it, can be frustrating. That's why I rarely go there and frequent one of the locally owned hardware stores instead.

The same is true of both one now defunct electronics chain, Circuit City, and another chain which shall remain nameless. After Circuit City laid off their more experienced sales staff (supposedly as a cost cutting measure), the remaining staff was too inexperienced and not very knowledgeable about the equipment and accessories they sold. It was no wonder they ended up going under. The other chain is still in business, but they're struggling. Only their online sales operation seems to be doing moderately well. Again, it all comes down to their staff and how they treat their customers.

Is it any wonder online retailers are doing so much better than brick-and-mortar stores?

I just caught a report by ABC's Good Morning America covering the dismal jobs report for June. It was another almost-softball report for Obama, with economics commentator Matthew Dowd stating the American people no longer trust politicians to fix the economy.


The truth, however, is more likely that it is the President they no longer trust.


Throughout our history it has been shown again and again that both Congress and the President have the power to damage the economy, but can usually do little to fix it by any other means than getting out of the way and letting the economy fix itself. Time and again it has been shown that by getting out of the way the economy rights itself, growth returns, and all is right with the world. Then someone in Congress or the President decide that things "aren't quite right" and they start tinkering with one tax, regulation, rule, incentives, subsidies, and law after another, each of them adding burdens that puts more pressure on the economy. In turn the economy slows, falls into recession, and then the Powers-That-Be wonder why this happened, not understanding that they are the ones causing the problems.


This recession, the longest in US history, was fostered by job-killing, finance-twisting, illogical regulations, laws, and "incentives" that short-circuited the usual feedback mechanisms and allowed economic bubbles to be created. Once those bubbles burst, the economy fell and fell fast.


The Powers-That-Be keep ignoring history, keep doing the same thing over and over again, and then wonder why their various 'fixes' for the economy didn't work this time.


It's called insanity.

Another California municipality has collapsed financially, with the city of Stockton filing for bankruptcy under Chapter 9.

This is merely the latest in a series of municipal bankruptcies plaguing the Golden State. Far too many of the municipalities believed the good times would never end and promised things to their citizens and employees based upon that belief. However reality has proved them wrong, the bills have come due, and their coffers are empty.

State finances aren't in any better shape, with a projected $16 billion budget deficit in the offing. Unfortunately, unlike the cities and towns in California, the state cannot declare bankruptcy, meaning the taxpayers (what's left of them) are obligated to pay off the state's deficiencies. But as the state assembly and the governor are learning the hard way, raising taxes any more than they already have will not raise more revenue because the state is already on the wrong side of the Laffer Curve. The last round of tax hikes caused revenues to fall, leaving the state even deeper in debt.

How they believe yet another round of tax hikes will solve their problem makes me wonder if there is anyone sane left in the upper echelons of state government. Unfortunately the answer appears to be 'no'.
I find it ironic that the push by the greens and 'watermelon environmentalists' to impose draconian regulations and controls on carbon dioxide emissions in the US is coming to naught. It's not that the US won't give in to their demands (they aren't), it's more that US carbon dioxide emissions have been dropping without the need of these 'extraordinary measures' demanded by the greens.

It's a hard sell for them when emissions have been falling at a more rapid pace than they demanded.

Much to the surprise (and, one suspects, the chagrin) of the deranged doomsaying wing of the environmental movement, new forecasts of US CO2 emission are out and they point to an even steeper drop than the last set of predictions.

No cap and trade, no huge new taxes on oil, no draconian driver restrictions, no air conditioning bans, no rationing -- and the US is on track to cut its CO2 emissions 17 percent below the 2005 levels by 2020 -- and to keep cutting our emissions levels beyond that.

There are a couple of reasons for the drop, the two biggest being the replacement of less efficient vehicles, industrial/commercial/residential equipment, and older power generation systems with new and more energy efficient ones; and a drop in economic activity which usually decreases the demand for energy and in turn decreases carbon dioxide emissions.

I doubt very much the choice to replace old equipment was made purely in order to reduce CO2 emissions. Instead it was likely made due to economics, as newer equipment tends to be more efficient and requires less maintenance than old equipment which in turn lowers operating costs. The lower emissions are a byproduct of this efficiency.

I know in the recent past the US was decreasing its carbon dioxide emissions at a faster rate than those countries who signed on to the Kyoto treaty and I think we'll probably find that is still the case. But what this is telling us is that Kyoto was not the means of reducing CO2 output. In fact, some signatories have seen their CO2 emissions continue to rise.

In any case, the United States of America is living proof that there are more ways to address environmental concerns than the green movement as a whole is willing to admit.

--snip--

The truth is that if CO2 emissions are going to come down, it's going to happen the American way rather than the Greenpeace way. Instead of flinging muck and howling curses at the most successful carbon cutting large economy in the world, maybe a few more greens here and there will start thinking about how to spread the magic around.

Indeed.

(H/T Instapundit)

In light of the Supreme Court's ruling on ObamaCare, my only response is "We're screwed!"


It seems it took the majority, including Chief Justice Roberts, all kinds of elaborate and painfully twisted reasoning to justify the continuing existence of this godawful law.


While all hope is not lost, meaning it will take Congress to kill this law, repealing the ACA will probably have to wait until after the November elections, assuming Obama is kicked out of office bag and baggage and Harry Reid ends up as the Senate Minority leader. Otherwise we're stuck with a law that will seriously cripple a sixth of the American economy with draconian regulations and taxes. (One has to remember that the ACA requires 10 years of tax revenues to fund 6 years of benefits which is why the major part (and most expensive) doesn't go into effect until 2014. But what happens after those 6 years pass? Tax hikes, that's what.)


So once again the will of the American people is overridden by our supposed "betters" and we're still going to get stuck with the bill for their 'party'.

I came across this rather cool NASA publication dealing with aerospace accidents and incidents, a 244 page (in PDF format) report on all kinds of aerospace accidents and their causes, covering everything from crashes of X-planes, rough landings of the Space Shuttle, and problems with "almost" loss-of-consciousness incidents with F22 Raptor, amongst a number of aircraft/spacecraft covered in the report.

The report shows that quite often it is not a single factor that causes these incidents, but a chain of errors that leads up to problems encountered.

The free download from NASA can be found here with three different formats available, E-Pub, Mobi, or PDF.

It's quite fascinating reading for those of you out there who are aviation and spaceflight fans.

Detroit Goin' Dark?

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The implosion of Detroit continues, with the city taking more actions to cut its costs even as revenues decline and more people leave the city seeking greener pastures. Their latest action: shutting off and/or removing half the street lights in the city. That ought to help the crime rate in the city...go up.

Detroit, whose 139 square miles contain 60 percent fewer residents than in 1950, will try to nudge them into a smaller living space by eliminating almost half its streetlights.

As it is, 40 percent of the 88,000 streetlights are broken and the city, whose finances are to be overseen by an appointed board, can't afford to fix them. Mayor Dave Bing's plan would create an authority to borrow $160 million to upgrade and reduce the number of streetlights to 46,000. Maintenance would be contracted out, saving the city $10 million a year.

When you have block after block of abandoned commercial buildings and homes, it makes no sense to waste money lighting streets where no one (except squatters) live. Of course many of those buildings and homes wouldn't be abandoned if decades of Progressive leadership hadn't driven the city into these dire straits. The city is a perfect example of the Thatcher Axiom: "The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people's money." That certainly fits Detroit to a 'T'.

Detroit's dwindling income and property-tax revenue have required residents to endure unreliable buses and strained police services throughout the city. Because streetlights are basic to urban life, deciding what areas to illuminate will reshape the city, said Kirk Cheyfitz, co-founder of a project called Detroit143 -- named for the 139 square miles of land, plus water -- that publicizes neighborhood issues.

--snip--

Meantime, [Detroit Chief Operating Officer Chris] Brown said, the city will fix broken streetlights in certain places even as it discontinues such services as street and sidewalk repairs in "distressed" areas -- those with a high degree of blight and little or no commercial activity.

As Glenn Reynolds stated in his link to the story, it's like something right out of Atlas Shrugged or I Will Fear No Evil.
In light of the upcoming summer season, this little tidbit by way of Maggie's Farm hits a little too close to home. But considering where it comes from we shouldn't be all that surprised, should we?

The Obama Administration seems to be doing all it can to make sure life is "fair", even if it has to destroy long standing traditions, activities, and other bits of American culture to do so. The latest bit of "fairness" comes by way of the rather overused and severely twisted ADA, or the Americans with Disabilities Act. The most recent salvo threatens to close down both public and commercial swimming pools because they don't have easy access into the water for the severely disabled.

Last week, news was made as today's deadline approached for commercial and municipal swimming pool owners to install means, by which disabled swimmers could enter the nation's swimming pools. It is the kind of regulation that would make a great punch line for the conservative version of the Daily Show, if conservatives were that funny. The Obama Administration has recently construed the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Standards for Accessible Design to apply to the act of swimming.

Today, this regulation was supposed to go into effect, opening up the owners to $100,000 fines as well as trial lawyer liability. However, thanks to the kindness of the Justice Department, existing pools now have until January 2013 to comply. "Newly constructed or altered places of public accommodation, commercial facilities and state and local government facilities" operating swimming pools will now be required to install permanent structures that lower physically disabled patrons into the pool.

How many municipalities, hotels, and other facilities will close their pools rather than worry about facing fines or spending money they can't afford to comply with this latest application of the ADA, particularly when it was never really meant to be used in such a punitive fashion?

Call it yet another example of the Law of Unintended Consequences punishing the innocent all in the name of "fairness".
Call it yet another example of the Law of Unintended Consequences.

Germany's push to become "greener than everyone else" is now showing some of the major downsides of the quasi-religious environmental movement.

We buy organic food, put E10 in our gas tanks and switch to green electricity. Our roofs are covered in solar panels and our walls plastered with insulation. This makes us feel good about ourselves. The only question is: What exactly does the environment get out of all this?

The answer is not much, really. One downside to a lot of the environmental measures being taken is that things stink more than they used to, literally.

Showerhead technology has undergone rapid development in recent years. Less water, more air, says the European Union's environmental design guideline. Gone are the days when it was enough for a showerhead to simply distribute water. Today an aerosol is generated through a complicated process in the interior of the showerhead. The moisture content in the resulting air-water mixture is so low and the air content so high that taking a shower feels more like getting blow-dried.

..."Think about how you can save water! Taking a shower is better for the environment than taking a bath. Turn off the water when you're soaping yourself. Never let the water run when you're not using it. And maybe you can spend less time in the shower, too."

This is all very well and good, but there's only one problem: It stinks. Our street is filled with the stench of decay. It's especially bad in the summer, when half of Berlin is under a cloud of gas.

--snip--

Our consumption has declined so much that there is not enough water going through the pipes to wash away fecal matter, urine and food waste, causing blockages. The inert brown sludge sloshes back and forth in the pipes, which are now much too big, releasing its full aroma.

...But toxic heavy metals like copper, nickel and lead are also accumulating in the sewage system. Sulfuric acid is corroding the pipes, causing steel to rust and concrete to crumble. It's a problem that no amount of deodorant can solve.

The waterworks must now periodically flush their pipes and conduits. The water we save with our low-flow toilets is simply being pumped directly through hoses into the sewage system below. On some days, an additional half a million cubic meters of tap water is run through the Berlin drainage system to ensure what officials call the "necessary flow rate."

Save water on one end, but blast huge amounts of water through the sewer systems to flush out what used to flow easily before the days low flush toilets and low-flow shower heads on the other end? I'll bet the Greenies didn't see that coming. Net savings? Probably somewhere on the negative side of the balance sheet, particularly if one takes into account the increased maintenance and replacement costs of the infrastructure. What makes this even more ironic is that Germany isn't suffering from water shortages by any means, yet they're acting as if the country is located in an arid climate.

As the author of the article states, much of Germany's environmental regulations and requirements are more of the "this makes me feel good about my contribution to saving the environment" type than any real efforts to "save" the environment. In other words, it's all feel-good legislation with a net-negative outcome.

The Spiegel article goes on to list a litany of failed environmental issues that are costing the German economy billions of Euros while giving little in return, including energy efficiency requirements that cause more problems than they solve, and intensive recycling efforts that end up with a lot of the materials saved from the landfill being "thermally recycled" - burned to generate electricity - which has its own environmental issues.

As much as we can point to Germany's problems with going green, we can't assume we won't go to the extremes the Germans have. All we have to do is look at California to see how many of their environmental regulations have done far more harm than good. While there are differences between Germany and California, one of the biggest being large parts of California being arid, many of the same side effects are being felt there as well. We can't assume that many of the same actions taken in California won't make it to the rest of the states, particularly if Obama's rogue EPA gets its way.

(H/T Small Dead Animals)
Bret Stephens addresses members of the graduating Class of 2012, exposing them to some hard truths they haven't had to face until now. One of most salient points is something that will stand them in good stead, assuming they're willing to listen: "But if you can just manage to tone down your egos, shape up your minds, and think unfashionable thoughts, you just might be able to do something worthy with your lives. And even get a job. Good luck!"

Bret brings up a number of problems with our existing college and university system today, that being they are less about preparing students to face the real world and more about students "getting inflated grades in useless subjects in order to obtain a debased degree." What's worse is that many of these students put them and/or their families deep into debt, yet they won't be able to find jobs that will pay them anywhere what it is they owe.

Some of those commenting to Bret's piece miss the point, trying to make it seem that he's saying the only worthwhile degrees are in STEM disciplines (Science, Technology, Engineering, Medicine), but that's not what he's saying at all. Instead he's warning students who get degrees in Womyn's Studies, Urban Graffiti, or Transgendered Native American Studies shouldn't expect to be snapped up by corporate America when there are more than enough graduates with degrees in Business Administration, Statistics, Finance, Graphic Arts, Culinary Arts, and an almost endless list of other BA and BS degrees that are far more applicable to the real world.

What's even worse for many of these still unprepared grads is that is that a lot of their contemporaries who didn't go to college are doing far better than they can ever hope to do. This is particularly true of those who went into the trades. They don't have huge student loans to pay off. They started earning their way years earlier than their college-bound friends. And in many ways they've grown up while their friends lived an extended adolescence in college.

On a slightly different thread, one commenter fell into a semantic trap, claiming students are being taught how to think. He went on to claim that they're being brainwashed into being good little progressive puppets. But what he really meant was that they're being taught what to think, which is entirely different.

Being taught how to think, meaning being taught critical thinking skills, is something we need more of in our educational system. If one can think critically, then they can reason from available facts and their own experiences rather than being spoon fed radical and, in the end, socially destructive ideologies masquerading as knowledge and wisdom. Unfortunately we aren't seeing much in the way of critical thinking being taught in our schools any more, and it shows. (This is particularly true in many of our liberal arts colleges.)

Could it be that the lack of critical thinking skills and the abundance of money through loan programs has caused this rampant problem of students studying majors that don't prepare them for life in the real world? I don't know, but it's something worth pondering.
I'm not the only one questioning the wisdom of blending ethanol with gasoline. It's not just the net energy gain or lose, the decreased fuel economy compared with unblended gasoline, or the problems ethanol causes in fuel systems. There's also the economic effects, particularly the always ubiquitous unintended consequences ethanol brings to the equation.

...[M]aking ethanol (grain alcohol) from corn...is a fairly straightforward and cheap process, so even without the federal subsidy, so-called "E10" gas (90 percent gasoline, 10 percent ethanol) is cheaper than straight 100 percent stuff. But instead of simply allowing refiners to mix in up to 10 percent ethanol if the market and production environment made it favorable, the law mandated a steep ramp-up to full sales of nothing but E10 in a very short time. On the surface we would move that much closer to energy independence with this law. Well and good.

The not-so-advertised reasons for the law have to do with the strength of the agricultural lobby. The E10 mandate was a tremendous windfall for everybody who grows corn. While some ethanol from corn was being used voluntarily as a fuel additive before 2007, the mandate caused this use to skyrocket. By 2011, according to the Mosbacher Institute report by economist James Griffin, 37 percent of the entire U.S. corn crop went toward ethanol production. And corn prices soared from $2.50 per bushel up to as high as $7.50.

If the only people hurt were U.S. food consumers (not everybody drives a car, but everybody eats), it would be bad enough. But the U.S. grows and sells more corn than any other nation, and much of it is exported to poorer countries, where it is a staple in many diets. While the rise in corn prices was not solely responsible for the worldwide inflation in food costs that led to food riots in many nations in recent years, the timing is suspicious, and there is no question that the EISA law led to hardships for many poor people around the world who were now even less able to afford to eat.

It's not too often those pushing for mandates look at the consequences they may create. As long as those unintended consequences don't affect them, they don't care. Call it yet another proof that crony capitalism (better yet just call it crony economics because it really has nothing to do with capitalism) always causes more harm than good because only a few benefit and everyone else pays the price, with little if any return for what they pay.
We've all been reading about the so-called "Smart Grid", a system that allows utilities to have better information about and control over their systems. Smart grids are supposed to be more efficient and cost effective because the utilities will be able to tailor system operations to demand on a minute by minute basis. The biggest problem with implementing the communications needed in order to make smart grids possible.

Frankly, I always thought the utilities would use encrypted low power radio links (telemetry only), fiber optic networks, or even power line communications to link the control and telemetry systems back to the operations centers. I also thought they would use closed systems, meaning there would be no direct connection to public data networks (the Internet), keeping them separate for security purposes.

I was wrong.

It appears a number of utilities are looking to use the public cellular networks to provide communications for their smart grid systems.

This is an idea that leaves them open to being compromised by hackers. And while some may claim that encryption will help keep the systems secure, there is no such thing as a "secure" system if there is a publicly accessible portion to the network. Almost any encryption system can be cracked given enough time and effort, either through brute force decryption, the exploitation of overlooked system vulnerabilities, or through critical information obtained from someone inside the utility.

This is a bad idea, one that can lead to compromised electrical, water, and gas utility systems being brought down through cyber attacks by groups unfriendly to the US.
As I commented upon earlier this month, people have been dropping HBO and switching over to streaming video because of HBO's support of an increasingly misogynistic Bill Maher and the political hatchet job they did on Sarah Palin.

In the two weeks since that post the number of people doing that has grown. In a Glenn Reynolds post about the failure of the Media Matters driven Rush Limbaugh boycott, Instapundit reader Kirby Angell comments about a bit of anecdotal evidence the "dump HBO" phenomenon is continuing.

"I was at the cable store dropping all of the movie channels, but I told them I specifically wanted to drop HBO because of Bill Maher and objectionable content. Then I found out if I got a new cable modem I could get a faster internet connection. Yesterday the cable guy was out with the new modem and while testing it he said 'lots' of people were dropping cable service and going with streaming only. He said he would drop it at his house but there was one show he would miss and that's the only reason he keeps it. I've never seen Game of Thrones which he would miss, but I love Walking Dead and would still wait until I can stream it at my convenience than pay for cable. Soon the cable companies' only product may be the pipe."

At the moment "the pipe" is the only service we have from our local cable company. We never had the video service (we subscribe to satellite, but don't have any of the movie channels) and dumped our phone service almost a year ago when we realized our home phone was redundant. We haven't subscribed to one of the streaming video services yet, but I figure that's coming. I do use Hulu to catch up on episodes of shows I might have missed.

The WP Parents use a Sony Media Player to stream stuff from Netflix. They'd never go back to HBO. I know a number of my co-workers have also dumped their movie channels in favor of streaming video, with two of them specifically mentioning HBO as their reason for dropping their service.
Every so often someone comes along in our life that deserves a righteous fisking, and so it is with a fellow by the name of James Veverka of Tilton, New Hampshire.

Mister Veverka shows up regularly in the Letters section of our local newspapers, and in particular the Laconia (NH) Daily Sun.

For the most part I ignore Mister Veverka's leftist rants as almost everything he writes is right out of the left's talking point templates. I doubt he's had an original thought of his own in years. But it was one of his latest rants about the GOP in the March 17th edition of the Sun that goaded me into deconstructing yet another of his emotion-filled unthinking rants.

Let's get started, shall we?

Some things to consider.

First, religious liberties do not trump equality under the law. If one wants to be a religious fanatic, a bigot, a sexist, or a homophobe , they can do it in their own home, church, or private affiliation. People have used religious beliefs to support wars, cruel and unusual punishments, beating children, religious oppression, slavery, miscegenation laws, segregation, anti-semitism, anti-suffrage, polygamy, homophobia, and its all a failed Medieval argument.

Ooh, I love this guy! He trashes the First Amendment as if it means nothing because he's been told it does not trump "equality under the law" and then builds a strawman argument about why anyone who believes they should not be forced to go against their religious beliefs about the sanctity of life due to an unconstitutional governmental edict is automatically a religious fanatic who wants to return us to Medieval dogma and the auto de fe. How far would he take this? Would he demand Christian Scientists abandon their faith and beliefs in the power of prayer to heal and force them to support his "beliefs" against their will? (After all, Mister Veverka's deep religious faith in the power of an oppressive government to make sure everyone is equal is no different than the very religions he besmirches.)

Basically, Mister Veverka, you have libeled and slandered those of faith who have no designs to create a theological dictatorship. They just don't want to be told by an overreaching government that they must pay for medicines and medical procedures they see as no different than murder. After reading a number of your diatribes over the past few years, it has become quite evident that you have a deep seated hatred of religion or those who profess to religious belief. Who is the intolerant one here, Mister Veverka?

Let's move on.

For a bunch of tea bags who are concerned with abortion and welfare, they sure haven't thought this one out in the slightest. If one wants fewer abortions and less welfare families, family planning, sexual health care, sex education, and contraception are the only answers. Making contraception unavailable and abortion illegal is as about an intelligent a solution as the drug war is for drug use or banning guns is to end violent crime.

Here, right off the bat, he aims a sexual slur against Tea Party supporters, implying they are homosexuals. (Who's the homophobe, Mister Veverka?)

His statement also shows he is woefully ignorant about the Tea Party and what it stands for, and from earlier rants he's written, it's clear he doesn't want to. He'd rather stay within his own narrowly defined 'reality' so he can convince himself he's the only one who knows "The Truth!" If he even bothered to find out what it's all about he'd know that for the most part the Tea Party isn't interested in social issues he brings up. They just want the government to stop spending money it doesn't have on things we know don't work or is a waste of taxpayer dollars, stop passing laws and imposing regulations that do far more harm to the American public than any of the things Mister Veverka has accused the the GOP of trying to do, and for the government to stop its increasing meddling in our lives and our businesses.

If he wants fewer people on welfare, it isn't the GOP or the Tea Party (they aren't the same thing) that have trapped millions in poverty or want them to remain there. It is the government, and particularly the Democrats, starting with LBJ and his "Great Society". More people on welfare means more control by the government, something the Democrats love because it gives them a captive constituency.

He brings up that the only answers to this problem are "family planning, sexual health care, sex education, and contraception." He assumes these are the only solutions to the welfare problem. But the best way to get people off of welfare is to make it harder for them to get on it and easier for them to get jobs. But most of the programs created over the past 50 years and the rules and regulations handed down by the government have done just the opposite. And who created most of those programs and have been heavy handed in creating economy killing regulations? Hint: It's not the GOP.

To Be Continued...
As the furor has started to die down over Peter Gleick's use of identity theft in order further support of his cause, that being Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming, I have to admit to thinking about both the immorality of the act and the casting aside the ethics that someone like Gleick should have strove to uphold.

Some have tried to rationalize his act, proclaiming his intentions were good. But that's an old excuse that has been overused and does not excuse his actions. We also know where that road leads: Hell.

The debate rages on about whether "lying for the cause" excuses the lies or is merely an excuse for something that an unethical or immoral person would have done anyways.

We've seen so much in the way of lies and deceit in regards to AGW that it's becoming hard to discriminate between facts, wishful thinking, and outright fabrications. And in that regard I have to say the award for the most deceitful actions must go to the supporters of AGW. As the ClimateGate e-mails have revealed, those who should have been pursuing the truth instead put their efforts towards burying it. (Please notice that I use the lower case 't' in truth, as science is supposed to search for the truth. Use of the upper case "T" in Truth tends to signify that whatever is designated using that word tends to be anything but.) Dissenting viewpoints were quashed. The word 'peer' in "Peer review" was redefined to mean "only those who agree with us", which destroyed the credibility once attached to that phrase. Publications which dared to publish dissenting views were targeted for trivialization or forced to fire editors who refused to toe the line if they wished to survive.

Such is the power of lying for the cause.

In this case the lies are allegedly to force courses of action that are supposedly necessary to save the planet. Never mind that there is tenuous evidence at best that any such actions are required. The true believers know they are right and are willing to put forward any story, use any lie, any fabricated evidence to advance their cause. The thought that they might actually be wrong has never crossed their minds. And should there be any facts that contradict their belief system then it must be suppressed and those presenting them discredited.

When these kinds of actions are applied to science, then it ceases being science. It becomes dogma and requires no proof. We saw that in Nazi Germany (racial science) and the Soviet Union (Lysenkoism), where political beliefs overrode the truths provided by science. And because of it millions died.

CAGW is no different. And while it's not likely to lead to extermination camps and gulags, millions (if not a couple of billion) will pay the price for the lies put forward "for the good of the people." Scientific truth need not apply.
Deb told me about this this morning and then showed me this video of a dad showing his 15-year old daughter the consequences of her actions, in this case badmouthing her parents on Facebook.

Apparently Dad is an IT professional and after spending a few hours and a bunch of cash updating her laptop he found her Facebook post. To say he wasn't amused is an understatement. Apparently this video has gone viral and is making the rounds, both on Facebook and in the media.



I discussed this with one of my co-workers and he thought the guy went overboard. But then my co-worker doesn't have teenaged daughters...but he will in a little over 6 years. I think then he'll change his tune.

Do I think he went too far? I can't say. But if this wasn't the first time she pulled something like this, and according to what her dad said it wasn't, then maybe his course of action was the right one.

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