Tuesday, December 30, 2008

No Recession For Me

Via Peter Shankman's HARO list ...

Today's HARO comes from the concept that even if there's some bad economic news, people need to think positive! Holton Sentivan + Gury and j2 communications invite you to stand up and choose NOT to participate in the recession!Everyone who signs up will have their names included in an upcoming Wall Street Journal ad that will tell Wall Street and Americans that we refuse to wallow in bad financial news, and will continue to do what we do even better in '09! Stand up and be proud! http://norecessionforme.us/

Why?  Well .. why not?

Optimism is harder to sustain than gloomy pessimism, but in the long run optimists are better prepared to take advantage of whatever opportunity rolls along.

Plus we're just naturally more fun to be around.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Government in Action - Mass Transit Category

I was listening to NPR today and heard that Phoenix opened its first light-rail line over the weekend.

You can listen to the report - in fact, please do - but the bullet points are

  • $ 1.4 billion dollars for 20 miles of track.
  • It goes around the airport but not to the airport.
  • It won't be useful until they build more lines.  Lots and lots more.  Because Phoenix sprawls all over the damn place.
  • The point of the exercise?  It serves to tell the whole world that Phoenix is a world class city with mass transit and everything.

Those with a cynical viewpoint might think that it really serves to tell the whole world that Phoenix can blow a wad of cash with the best of 'em.

Minimum Wage Increase - Real World Consequences

We've got a guy who employs a lot of people making minimum wage.

And what is the impact of a 41% increase in the Arizona minimum wage since December, 2006?

Raising prices as much as his market can stand. Replacing people with automation. Replacing older full-time staff with part-time young people.

  • Higher prices
  • Automation
  • Job loss.

I don't think this is quite what the people who want to jack up minimum wage have in mind.

Government in Action - Web Design Category

Ladies and Gentlemen of the Great State of Wisconsin - our state government in action.

State Sen. Jeff Plale (D-South Milwaukee) noticed something a little odd when he logged onto the state's new Web site for campaign finance information.

Prominently displayed at http://cfis.wi.gov was a picture of the Capitol in Madison next to a beautiful skyline - of Minneapolis.

minneapolis and madison by you.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Insurance - it's important stuff

So .. here is what happens when you get older. You still do the same stuff you did when you were younger .. but if you take your kids sledding and you hit a jump and you fall out and slam your knee into packed ice and snow, your first thought is something like ...

'doctor's office-insurance-broken knee-physical therapy' [1]

I can't remember ever thinking that when I was young and dumb.

[1] Luckily, after a few minutes stamping around at the bottom of the hill and lustily cursing under my breath [2] everything appears 'ok'. Little pain but it's just 'normal' pain and nothing to get excited about.

[2] Also, I will admit, some lusty out-loud cursing as well.

NASA Administrator Building his dream home

Just imagine a post-NASA Mike Griffin building his retirement dream home.

First, take all the plans you've paid competing architects to devise to meet your stated needs and shred them, and decree that they will build a 6-bedroom Greek-revival mansion on a 1000sqft lot in a marshy brownfield area that you just happen to have gotten a sweetheart deal on.

Then, after decreeing the size and shape of the shell of the house and choosing a builder, mandate on said builder that the home contain all manner of luxuries, amenities, and frivolities, all of which are to come with multiply-redundant safety features and backups. Then comes the punchline: these features can't take up any of the limited living space, can't use any power, and can't add to the home's purchase or maintenance costs.

Then let your extended family members have their say. Give pushy and dramatic Cousin Marsha a kitchen and bath for every room, lest your guests die for the lack of them. Let scatterbrained Cousin Glenn redesign the basement and utilities services again and again to suit his whims, because it gives him something to do. Put Cousin Ken in charge of redesigning the entire house around the garage door and opener he already has and wants to unload on you. And put Cousin John in charge of building himself the pretty but extravagantCorinthian columns on the front and continually reimagining the interior decor.

Ignore all the while your soil geologist's anxious whispers reports that the swampy lot you've committed to using can't support the weight of the house you've decreed. There's no foundation problem a few extra tons of concrete and rerod can't fix, after all. Tell the county inspector that everything is hunky-dory, and call the home builder and tell him to reduce the weight of the house by deleting the smoke detectors and fire sprinklers.

To silence the critics of your DIY architectural talent, build a "demonstration" house by reusing the foundation of an abandoned tenement that only cosmetically resembles your dream palace. Use it to show off the fire escape design you've long since changed, and that the abandoned foundation af a different structure can support the weight of a completely different home than what you're actually building. Dismiss criticism that the test is being staged for political reasons and to wow the mortgage lenders, and poo-poo as ignorant and uninformed any concerns that it will do nothing to allay fears about the earthquake survivability of the real thing.

Then, after blowing most of your budget on supporting the cousins in their accustomed style and paying the contractors to make unending whim-driven changes, cut the contractors' budgets. When they complain that there is too much work and too little resources, mandate a bunch of new major changes. That'll shut 'em up.

Continue to make fundamental changes even as the walls go up. Why not? It's not like you have to pay for them, since everything you do is "in scope", by definition.

And then finally, when move-in day comes in spite of your brilliant multi-degreed architectural leadership, you and your cousins can watch from the cookie-cutter ranch houses across the street as the new owners, financed up to their eyeballs and left without alternate accommodations for five years, carry in all their worldly possessions only to have the castle crumble around them and sink into she mire.

Of course by then you've moved on to other concerns, like being the HOA president, so you neatly avoid blame for the tragedy and expense.
One problem is that he's not doing this with his money but ours ...


Friday, December 26, 2008

A non-serious idea - Laser Snow Removal

Seattle is having problems with their recent snow storms ...

The icy streets are the result of Seattle's refusal to use salt, an effective ice-buster used by the state Department of Transportation and cities accustomed to dealing with heavy winter snows.

"If we were using salt, you'd see patches of bare road because salt is very effective," Wiggins said. "We decided not to utilize salt because it's not a healthy addition to Puget Sound."

Hey, Seattle is not my city so who am I to judge? Instead, I've got an idea .. lasers.

Orbital lasers, firing down from directly overhead could warm the streets, melt the snow. Without any sand or salt. So it's really a Green solution.

Also? The city would buy time on the system - no need to buy a lot of equipment that is only used seasonally.

There are probably a whole lotta technical problems with the idea. One non-technical reason why this will never, ever work? Never-ever underestimate the power of ... Lawyers.  Legal issues alone would keep the lasers powered down - a city of several million souls will have a lot of citizens with money who won't like the idea of death-beams from the heavens lancing down from overhead.

I wonder - there are a lot of places that should be snow-free that don't have people living around them.  Roads in wilderness areas, train tracks in the middle of nowhere.  Still a non-starter, I bet.

ICCN snow plow extra with 338 Wayne ILL by Mark LLanuza

I gotta admit - the idea of snow just melting away from the roads is a mighty attractive one.

With Friends Like These ...

Wisconsin Lege: Okay - we got us a budget shortfall, we got to freeze salaries, cut spending,raise taxes .. something ... I'm forgetting something.

Joint Committee on Employment Relations: We get a 5.3% pay raise.

Lege: (snap) That's it. Thanks.

Raising my taxes and a pay raise.  Yeah, thanks a bunch, you guys.

My Baby, Persian Cat Photo * Tortie * www.PersianCatCare.com by PersianCat*Contest.

I don't know whose cat this is - but my doesn't he look grumpy?

What Everyone Knows is wrong - and an antidote

Everyone knows ... the pain of the Great Depression was eased by FDR, and ended when WW II came along in 1941.

What everyone knows is wrong

This is kinda important since we're in an economic jam of some sort now and people are reaching back to an ill-remembered past to draw the wrong conclusions - which can be summed as only the government can save us. [1]

If you want to get a better handle on what's going on that what they teach in school, you outta give these a look ..

America's Great Depression by Murray N. Rothbard.  Which is, frankly, really really long and full of big words and vocabulary.  I think it's written at the high school level, at least. So if you read USA Today on a regular basis, it's clean over your head.

"Great Myths of the Great Depression" at twenty pages is shorter - but it too is written at the high-school level and so, possibly, too advanced unless you managed to actually learn something in school.

Maybe someone can do up a Dr. Seuss version.


[1] Just writing that made me gag, a little.  Government is good at a few things [2], but making things better sure ain't one of them.

[2] Most of them involve variations on organized violence.  When you need a country invaded, or to convince millions of people it's better to just mail a check to the IRS than to hang the revenuer, a government is what you need.


When Pigs Fly

Thomas Friedman wants a reboot . . .

That’s why we don’t just need a bailout. We need a reboot. We need a build out. We need a buildup. We need a national makeover. That is why the next few months are among the most important in U.S. history. Because of the financial crisis, Barack Obama has the bipartisan support to spend $1 trillion in stimulus. But we must make certain that every bailout dollar, which we’re borrowing from our kids’ future, is spent wisely.

It has to go into training teachers, educating scientists and engineers, paying for research and building the most productivity-enhancing infrastructure — without building white elephants. Generally, I’d like to see fewer government dollars shoveled out and more creative tax incentives to stimulate the private sector to catalyze new industries and new markets. If we allow this money to be spent on pork, it will be the end of us.

Maybe the Obama Administration will surprise me - and seriously irk some people - and go for for tax incentives. You know, trusting that people will do the right thing based on their own selfish interest instead of doing the knee-jerk thing and dictating people do this or do that because Uncle Sugar said so.

Flying pig by Roadmast3r

I know. But it could happen.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

From 'The Bishop's Wife'

The sermon from 'The Bishop's Wife'
Tonight I want to tell you the story of an empty stocking.

Once upon a midnight clear, there was a child's cry, a blazing star hung over a stable, and wise men came with birthday gifts. We haven't forgotten that night down the centuries. We celebrate it with stars on Christmas trees, with the sound of bells, and with gifts.

But especially with gifts. You give me a book, I give you a tie. Aunt Martha has always wanted an orange squeezer and Uncle Henry can do with a new pipe. For we forget nobody, adult or child. All the stockings are filled, all that is, except one. And we have even forgotten to hang it up. The stocking for the child born in a manger. Its his birthday we're celebrating. Don't let us ever forget that.

Let us ask ourselves what He would wish for most. And then, let each put in his share, loving kindness, warm hearts, and a stretched out hand of tolerance. All the shining gifts that make peace on earth.


Oh and .. Merry Christmas!

Haw ..

“It’s a Wonderful Life” is a terrifying, asphyxiating story about growing up and relinquishing your dreams, of seeing your father driven to the grave before his time, of living among bitter, small-minded people. It is a story of being trapped, of compromising, of watching others move ahead and away, of becoming so filled with rage that you verbally abuse your children, their teacher and your oppressively perfect wife. It is also a nightmare account of an endless home renovation.

Music366 Day 357 - It's a wonderful life by the spanglemaker
When you put it that way, suicide seems like a viable choice [1], hunh?


[1] Except for the whole mortal sin and damning yourself to eternal punishment in the Bad Place thing.

The Future is not afraid of the Past

The Future is not afraid of the Past by you.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Thank you America my foot

Like this;  a company went, not to a bank, [1] but just this place where I gotta send a big chunk of my money every year.  And they said 'hey, man, I've run my company right into the ground, I need some of that cash you guys jacked from the public to tide me over while I change my ways.'

Which, put that way, sounds like a junkie whining that this time he's really really sorry he put his rent money up his nose instead of paying his rent, but if they just let him slide a few weeks he'll have the dough ..

And I said to the guys running the place 'hey, that sucks, don't do that'.  And their governing body voted 'no'. And I said 'cool'.  And the guy who runs the place said 'well, shucks, ah'm gonna do that anyway'.  And he did. [2]

And then the company, all bright and perky, blows a big chunk of cash [3] telling me 'thanks, buddy'.

You're not welcome. by you.

To which my response, after careful editing because my first through fifth responses contained language that might make a sailor blush is ...

stfu by iljat.

Mr. Nardelli?   You, your dealers, or any of the one million people who depend on Chrysler for their livelihoods will never see a dime from me.

I was serious about this before but that ad really cheesed me off.

Kia?  I'll need a new car in a few years.  Let's talk.

Cross Posted to The Daily Brief.

[1] A bank has stricter rules for handling money than the government ever will.

[2] It's a weak metaphor, granted.

[3] Cuban cites 100k for the cost of the ad in the Wall Street Journal.

Mustang Ranch - the government takeover that wasn't

Hey, look! An urban legend!

Something to think about.

A colleague sent me this email:

The bailout, a different perspective

Back in 1990, the Government seized the Mustang Ranch brothel in Nevada for tax evasion and, as required by law, tried to run it. They failed and it closed. Now we are trusting the economy of our country to a pack of nit-wits who couldn’t make money running a whorehouse and selling booze?

Yeah, yeah. Didn't happen.

The government seized it, then sold it. They never tried to run it.

I'll give a metaphorical devalued US dollar to someone who can point me to the law that sez 'the government is required to run the brothel they've just seized because the owner is a crook'.

You'd think a guy who does a column for a newspaper would be able to smell cow flop when he steps in it

Cheeseheads With Attitude (CWA) "Where the Hell is Neenah?"

After kicking back and camping
With some friends from Lake Geneva,
We grabbed some food and headed back to Neenah.

Where the Hell is Neenah?

Cheeseheads With Attitude (CWA) "Where the Hell is Neenah?"

Monday, December 22, 2008

Good politics

I worked for a pretty good company once. Then we were acquired by a much, much larger company. There were about 15,000 of them and 500 of us. One of the Senior Vice Presidents flew down to give us a pep talk.

'We like everything about you guys - you are special and that's why we bought you.'

And over the next 18 months corporate changed everything about us that was special and unique. Finally there were massive layoffs when they decided they really didn't want to be in the business we were in.

That's what this article reminded me of.

For more than 30 years the entrepreneurship-venture capital-IPO
cycle centered in Silicon Valley has generated new wealth,
commercialized innovation, and created new companies and industries.
It's also spun off millions of new jobs. The great companies created by
this process -- Intel, Apple, Google, eBay, Microsoft, Cisco, to name
just a few -- have propelled most of the growth in the U.S. economy in
the last two decades. And what began as a process almost exclusively
available to scientists and engineering Ph.D.s became open to just
about anyone with a good business plan and a healthy dose of
entrepreneurial drive.

At its best, the cycle is self-perpetuating. Entrepreneurs come up
with a new idea, form a team, write a business plan, and then pitch
their idea to venture capitalists. If they're persuaded, the VCs
invest, typically through several rounds during which the start-up
company must meet performance benchmarks. Should the company succeed,
it then makes an initial public offering of stock.

The IPO can reward the founders and venture-capital investors, and
enables the general public to participate in the company's success.
Thousands of secretaries, clerks and technicians at these companies
also have come away from the IPO richer than they ever dreamed.
Meanwhile, some of those gains are invested in new venture funds, and
the cycle begins again.

From the beginning of this decade, the process of new company creation
has been under assault by legislators and regulators. They treat it as
if it is a natural phenomenon that can be manipulated and exploited,
rather than the fragile creation of several generations of hard work,
risk-taking and inventiveness. In the name of "fairness," preventing
future Enrons, and increased oversight, Congress, the SEC and the
Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) have piled burdens onto the
economy that put entrepreneurship at risk.

In other words 'we appreciate everything you've accomplished and boy we sure liked the growth. We're just going to change everything around now because .. well .. screwing up a good thing is good politics.'

Glasses for the masses

Do it yourself eyeglasses prescription.

What if it were possible, he thought, to make a pair of glasses which, instead of requiring an optician, could be "tuned" by the wearer to correct his or her own vision? Might it be possible to bring affordable spectacles to millions who would never otherwise have them?

More than two decades after posing that question, Silver now feels he has the answer. The British inventor has embarked on a quest that is breathtakingly ambitious, but which he insists is achievable - to offer glasses to a billion of the world's poorest people by 2020.

Awesome hack.  When can I buy a pair?

Here is a plan, Stan.  Make the frame stylish.  Market them online at the same time you're selling them to the masses of poor in Bangladesh.

I can easily see paying $40 a pair - and I'm a cheapskate.

Kiisu Kitty

About the new cat - how about a picture?

Kiisu Cat

Hey, man. Don't judge me.

I think the unwritten rule is if you name a critter you're going to keep her.   The Current Occupant is - so far - not impressed.

Kinkaid by economic_refugee

Just stay off my bed, sister.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Hey, Asshole

Yeah, you: the shit-for-brains who left a six-month old kitten on the side of the road to die.

Would it have killed you to have driven two more miles to the Animal Shelter?  Seriously?

She's parked on the back of my couch (purring up a storm) and a nicer more friendly cat you can't imagine: she lap sits, she's litter-box trained, she's not afraid of our little dogs and not afraid to tell the big dog to back the F off. 

Karma will get you - and she's a stone bitch, buddy.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Winter? Whazzat?

Crazy Chick in Wisconsin by you.

Saddle your own horse

Bury Your Own Dead by you.


Yeah, this is how I feel about her.

Angelita dances in the rain
Washes down her body like a dulcet refrain
She turns in little circles, lost on her own plane
A glow to put the street lamps all to shame

Angelita turns
And the world moves in slow motion
Angelita sways
And my heart ceases to beat
Angelita breathes
And my breath goes from my body into hers
Angelita, what the hell'd you do to me

Angelita holds me as she sways
Warm rain caresses us like a lover's soft embrace
Just this patch of Euclid Avenue, just the glance of her face
And the rest of this damn world just melts away

Angelita is by the very excellent Hangdogs.

Love at first sight

Behold! The DB Fletcher Capstan Ilona expanding table.

I'm in love. With a table. Don't tell my wife.


Thursday, December 18, 2008

Shirt Sleeve Weather

We had a high of 15° F today.  Which is not exactly warm but after the sub-zero (Fahrenheit) temperatures today I felt like shedding the parka and finding my wind-breaker.  I did stroll around with my coat un-zipped and felt comfortable.

Guess I might be getting used to this place.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


… Tonight: Partly Cloudy ... Low:-6°F.

Uncle, Uncle!

The Path Not Taken

From Mr. Gerib

(Rand Simberg) recently posted the most cogent analysis of why private spaceship development is not only possible but necessary.


Go and read when you have a few minutes.

Broken by design

See, here is the thing ..


And not only that, wombats.  Retarded wombats.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

A Tree Grows In Brooklyn

I'm reading A Tree Grows In Brooklyn by Betty Smith.

It is a very excellent book. But I'm plowing my way through it slowly not because of the story or the setting or the protagonist or the writing. All of that is top notch and engaging.

"There is here, what is not in the old country. In spite of hard unfamiliar things, there is here - hope. In the old country, a man can be no more than his father, providing he works hard. If his father was a carpenter, he may be a carpenter. He may not be a teacher or a priest. He may rise - but only to his father's state. In the old country , a man is given to the past. Here he belongs to the future. In this land, he may be what he will, if he has the good heart and the way of working honestly at the right things."

Francie's father doesn't want to work honestly at anything. His trade is 'singing waiter' but his life's work is bitching about how unfair life is and getting stupid drunk. And he applies himself to his work.

So I'll be reading along and then WHAM a close-ambush when the lout spends the day at the union hall getting soused with his no-good shanty Irish buddies.  While his wife - a good woman if there ever was one - works her fingers to the bone cleaning tenements. 

In a testimony as to how good this is all written [1] I have to set the book down for a while because a fictional character has pissed me right the fuck off.

So it is taking a while to get through it.  And what am I reading while I get over being irritated at Francie's dad?  'The Sling And The Stone' by Colonel Tom Hammes (USMC). 

But that's another blog entry.

[1] That or I have head-space issues.


So .. it's like this. Last night my wife moved the upstairs fish to their temporary home. I was Gordon Good Guy and cleaned out the tank. Put the fish back in. Chore done and good night!

Except I forgot the de-toxifier. So this morning we've got three floaters and one shell-shocked survivor. And we've had that gang of fish going on two years.

And a cheery good morning to you, too.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Straw, camal

Windows 2000 and Server 2003 display the date differently in DOS.

Windows 2000

10/23/2008 03:04p 600 PUTTY.RND

Server 2003

12/01/2008 11:33 AM 664 enable_wms_ap.sql

Which breaks a legacy batch file that I grew interested in bringing into the modern era because it uses 'p' to know if the file was written in the evening and 'a' to know it was written in the morning ...


Ice Bowl Science

And what did my boys do last night?

balloon ice bowl by you.

Water balloons and Wisconsin winters do go together.  Clearly, Older Monkey takes this attitude very seriously ..

Biscuit Science by you.

You really should take a gander at the Dresden Codak store - lots of items for the weird inner child in all of us.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

While She was Out - my cabin fever movie pick of the week

Saw 'While She Was Out' last night.

You know how in a film when the protagonist is being chased, and finds a club, and hits the bad guy on the head? And then she recoils in horror, drops the weapon and keeps running?

And you, watching, are yelling, 'Keep hitting him!'.

And then, sure as taxes, the bad guy gets up and keeps going. 


Della (Kim Basinger) doesn't do that. What she does is hit a bad guy with a wrench. She drops back, horrified. Then she steps up and hits him again and again and again until that sum'bitch is dead, dead, dead.

And it is messy and gross.

And then she keeps running 'cuz that's only one bad guy and there are more on the way and it's not the right time for a Snoopy Dance.

For that scene alone 'While She Was Out' is my cabin fever movie of the week.

Brian K. sez 'Check it out'.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

In which I admit that I am a horrible father

It wasn't until after I got to the store that I noticed Younger Monkey's t-shirt [1] was backwards.

And it's still like that, hours later.
  • It's not uncomfortable for him.
  • It simply was not worth it to drag him into the restroom and insist he undress just to flip his shirt around.

So he wasn't Beau Brummel at the grocery store - big whoop.

I'll save my energy for important things; teaching him to stand up for himself, that washing with water and soap is important, that opening the door for ladies is the done thing.

Fighting battles over minutiae with children is a sucker's game.

[1] It's winter - we layer. He had on a long-sleeve shirt over a t-shirt.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Marine Corps Hillbilly Zen

The sergeant instructor was demonstrating how to climb over a wall.

What if you make noise and the enemy machine-guns you, we asked.
What if you drop your rifle, we questioned.
What if this.
What if that.

He asked "What if grasshoppers carried 45s?"

We looked puzzled. We were young.

"Crows wouldn't fuck with 'em."


Wednesday, December 10, 2008

every edge of the ocean by Kelly Zen-Yie Tsai

every edge of the ocean
by Kelly Zen-Yie Tsai

for stephanie, mj, and kealoha

if i follow the waves from here,
i can find my way home:

kealoha dips his fingers in the sand,
squints at the smiling of the sun

his skin becomes slick with ocean,
dives the waves, rolls over coral,

he plunges his face in -
water swims in his throat,

he is stronger than i can imagine,
gripping the rocky face of the waterfall

i sputter and dare myself
into the crashing water.

its roaring alone chokes my throat.

stephanie waits on the rock
beyond the tidepool.

knees drawn together, her spine
round over her backpack.

a safehouse, a protection.

mj beats us to the source, where water
trickles over a black table of stone.

she twists her blonde hair against itself,
parts her arms and calls out, "hello lover"
fragments of missouri dripping from her mouth. 

i scoot the wall of stone backwards,
skittish like a crab,

my whole body gasps for certainty -

as kealoha places his toes to the edge,
offers his upturned hands to the trees,
and jumps. 

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

It's the kind of thing she would like, hunh?

A Car Czar.  Sweet Jeebus.

Rick C
I’m sure it’ll work out as well as the Drug Czar and all the other Czars, including the Russian ones

Our national government's mode of operation is clearly to place their foreheads firmly against a brick wall and push really hard.


I've been fooling around with HAML for a few days - it's pretty keen.

Yes, another markup language.

Haml is based on one primary principal. Markup should be beautiful.

I gotta say, that after spending thirty minutes with it - the tutorial claims twenty, but I'm slow - I'm intrigued.

The idea that white space matters is startling at first - and infuriating when it errors in the application - but it looks good and it's a breeze to troubleshoot.

Venal and corrupt or just dumb?

And why, you may ask, am I opposed to the government bailing out the Big Three [1] automakers?

Because guys with all the business sense of a somersaulting giraffe ...

Between 2004 and 2007, Rep. Charles Rangel steered nearly $80,000 in campaign cash to an Internet company run by his son – paying lavishly for a pair of political Web sites so poorly designed an expert estimated one should have cost no more than $100 to create.

are dictating business choices. And we can see how that works out. For eighty .. thousand .. dollars you better get a gold-plated web site, not something that limps along and need to be spell-checked.

What? Oh, the money was spent that way because Representative Rangel is a venal corrupt old pol?

Welp - never mind, then!

[1] Also known as 'last on my list for consideration for a new car' companies.

Knock, knock!

The cops - well, the FBI - hauled Illinois Governor Blagojevich (D) [1] out of bed this morning and hauled him off to jail, for being corrupt and stupid. [2]

When asked for comment ..

Obama told reporters he was "saddened and sobered" by Blagojevich's arrest.

"I was not aware of what was happening," Obama said. "I had no contact with the governor or his office and so I was not aware of what was happening."

The President-Elect, when shown a picture of Governor Blagojevich, commented - So that's what he looks like. I was wondering. [3]

[1] Twelve paragraphs until his party affiliation is mentioned, fwiw. If the Tribune Media company is wondering why they're bankrupt, this is a clue.

[2] One or the other is acceptable in a politician, but not both.

[3] The last sentence [4] is what we call humor. A funny. Or not-so-funny.

[4] It's not a direct quote, in other words.

Monday, December 08, 2008

We're the Big Three. We Don't Need to Compete.

We're the Big Three.  We don't need to compete by you.

And stay off the grass!

Le Fungus
In the original, Klaatu's message was, "Stop with the nukes or we'll destroy Earth!" Now it's going to be "stop destroying Earth or we'll destroy you!"

That's pretty much a word-for-word quote from the Keanu Reeves character in the trailer I watched last night.

How nice that the Galactics value a clean planet without scuff marks over sentience.

We could postulate a sinister motive. The Galactics, not being complete dopes, don't want competition. So they send agents to warn off the natives from using technology that could advance their civilization past Type I on the Kardashev Scale.

"Hey, Terren - nice planet ya got there.  Sure be a shame if y'all went extinct, hunh?"

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Economics in One Lesson - Saving the X Industry

What's ol' Henry talkin' 'bout here?
We are concerned only with a single argument for saving the X industry—that if it is allowed to shrink in size or perish through the forces of free competition (always called by spokesmen for the industry in such cases laissez-faire, anarchic, cutthroat, dog-eatdog, law-of-the-jungle competition) it will pull down the general economy with it, and that if it is artificially kept alive it will help everybody else.
And the results of tariffs, subsidies, price fixing and government bailouts of automakers and banks?
It is obvious in the case of a subsidy that the taxpayers must lose precisely as much as the X industry gains. It should be equally clear that, as a consequence, other industries must lose what the X industry gains. They must pay part of the taxes that are used to support the X industry. And customers, because they are taxed to support the X industry, will have that much less income left with which to buy other things. The result must be that other industries on the average must be smaller than otherwise in order that the X industry may be larger.

But the result of this subsidy is not merely that there has been a transfer of wealth or income, or that other industries have shrunk in the aggregate as much as the X industry has expanded. The result is also (and this is where the net loss comes in to the nation considered as a unit) that capital and labor are driven out of industries in which they are more efficiently employed to be diverted to an industry in which they are less efficiently employed. Less wealth is created. The average standard of living is lowered compared with what it would have been.

From Economics in One Lesson by Henry Hazlitt.

Online at http://jim.com/econ/contents.html

Winter .. dreaded cold horrid winter. Now with Cabin Fever!

Lileks Tweet:

The extent (of) my cabin fever is matched only by my disinclination to go anywhere. You can see the dilemma this puts me in.

Friday, December 05, 2008


Al Qaeda: "We hate and kill everything you stand for - join us!"

They can issue ultimatums, but they can't make me buy their product.  Not yet, anyway.

How The Big Three can make the public accept a bailout: by turning warm and fuzzy.

Last Son of Krypton
by Elliot S! Maggin, online.  I bought this book when I was in the sixth grade, read it, loved it.

Superman had witnessed the deaths of living creatures in conditions beyond imagination, of natural balances beyond counting, of several stars, of two pairs of parents, of his childhood and of the world of his birth.

He was terrified into heroism by the possibility of his own death.

Logistics from 'How to Make War' by James Dunnigan.

  • Mechanized units - pretty much any Western army - require 150 - 500 pounds of supply per day per man.
  • Air units require 1,000 pounds of supply per day per man.
  • 3/4 of that weight is ammunition and fuel.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Dear GM, Ford and Chrysler

Dear GM, Ford and Chrysler, and their associated dealerships,

The more you insist
on trying to steal borrow my money without permission to bail your sorry asses out of trouble, the less I want to buy your product.  And my interest in buying a new domestic car - never strong - has been waning mighty fast this autumn.

If you want my business you'd best quit while you're ahead.

That is all.

Brian Dunbar

Thank you!

Y'all - each and every one of you - rock: I asked for a modest amount of your time yesterday and you guys put it over.

 This was in my inbox this evening ..

Ahoy, bdunbar!

Our contest themed The Holidays just ended, and your test "Santa's Reindeer Personality Test" was a contender. During the contest, Santa's Reindeer Personality Test had 571 takers and earned a rating of 292 stars. It ranked #4 for popularity and #1 for quality.

Guess what? That means YOU WON!


And - it must be said - that the genius behind the contest was my lovely wife: she's the one who spent a whole lot of her own time putting the thing together.  Because she's good at that kind of thing.

I will soon join the ranks of the cool kids, walking around blissfully tuning out the world and it's distracting reality with my ears plugged music only I can hear.

Oracle: We Are Not Amused

I tried to inject a little levity into an Oracle Support Request today ..

Type of Web Server? I clicked 'Other'

If 'Other' please enter type here:  "lighttpd. Just kidding! Wanted to see if you were paying attention. We use Apache."

And it cratered my SR. Would not save the request past that point.

Those Oracle guys do not fool around.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

The correct term is UA

Dear Hollywood,

Marines don't use the term A.W.O.L. Having a character use that term is a sign that you're not paying attention.

It's also Yet Another Sign that 99% of television is crap.

So, cut it out.



The Public

Cross Posted to The Daily Brief.

Santa's Reindeer Personality Test

You know why I'd like you to take this quiz? Because you're a big sweetheart, that's why. And because you're honest.

And because it would be really nice if, due to your honest ratings on this really excellent quiz, I won first prize. Which is an IPod.

So .. yeah. It's not really the keen A/V gear but the bragging rights I'm after.

Your result for Santa's Reindeer Personality Test...


38% Donner, 0% Dancer, 6% Prancer, 16% Vixen, 6% Comet, 6% Cupid, 6% Dasher, 16% Blitzen and 38% Rudolph!

Hey hey! You are the Donner reindeer personality. Donner is sometimes also called Donder. I don't know why exactly and it's really not important, because he is quite the versatile dude. He is the reindeer that has loads of confidence and maintains a sense of pride. But he has a lot to be proud of, this one! He's not cocky about it, he just knows that he has very strong attributes and abilities that help him get the job done. He cares about other people too, and he's always willing to lend a helping hand. Donner is like the jack of all trades reindeer and a very handy fellow to know.

Santa Says: "Donner is a great friend and I'm very happy to have him on my team. I have a lot of respect for him!"

Take Santa's Reindeer Personality Test
at HelloQuizzy

The good things never change

Yeah - that's my Marine Corps.

"We get a call from Marines that there’s a fire at a hotel. Our first thought is: What the hell did they do?!”

- GySgt Howard Tait at Infantry Training Battalion, Camp Pendleton, California, relating the surprise that eight Marines in his unit were credited with rescuing upwards of 100 people during a fire. From the Marine Corps Times.


A few terabucks here, a few there and pretty soon you're talking about real money

ScifiBen on the big chunk of change we've committed to for the bailout:

Where are you getting these figures? Are you sure there isn't some overlap? Most of the numbers I've been hearing about in the news are actually just chunks of the original $700 billion being parceled out.

I'm glad you asked! Barry Ritholtz put together a spreadsheet.

More than a few people have asked me how I came up with the the $8.5 trillion figure for the total cost of the bailouts. Below is a table, plus the Excel Spreadsheet it came from.

Note that this cost does not include the $5.2 trillion in Fannie/Freddie portfolios that the US taxpayer is now also explicitly responsible for.

Also - John Walker ran the numbers and demonstrates what 7.7 T$ (Terabucks) looks like laid out on the ground.

7.7 Terabucks - on the ground by you.

Unko bachana kaun chahega

This was inevitable.
"It was apparent that most of the dead were tortured. What shocked me were the telltale signs showing clearly how the hostages were executed in cold blood," one doctor said.

"Of all the bodies, the Israeli victims bore the maximum torture marks. It was clear that they were killed on the 26th itself. It was obvious that they were tied up and tortured before they were killed. It was so bad that I do not want to go over the details even in my head again," he said.

This was also inevitable ...
The security forces that brought the bodies told us that those were the bodies of the terrorists," he said, adding there was no other way they could have identified the bodies.

An intelligence agency source added: "One of the terrorists was shot through either eye."

A senior National Security Guard officer, who had earlier explained the operation in detail to rediff.com, said the commandos went all out after they ascertained that there were no more hostages left. When asked if the commandos attempted to capture them alive at that stage, he replied: "Unko bachana kaun chahega (Who will want to save them)?"

It would be ideal to have the Bad Guys alive as prisoners - it's difficult to interrogate a corpse.  Information is important.

On the other hand, the bastards who launched the attacks on Mumbai made it clear that this is the way the game is going to be played. So if Sam the SAS guy or Dave the Ranger - or when it gets down to that, Carl Civilian with his trunk rifle - find a room full of of maimed bodies and a terrorist against the wall under his gun ...

I suppose we'll have to get our information from another source, hunh?

Unko bachana kaun chahega?

Cross Posted to The Daily Brief.

Monday, December 01, 2008

What is this 'vacation' you speak of?

She raised a contract with the Collective for her personal protection, using money paid back under the penalty-clause provisions. The university's system, she was relieved to see, had Moh's little gang on its list of approved suppliers. Her unspecified sabbatical wasn't a problem either. She had a backlog of unused leave for the past year: like most research scientists, she found the concept of time off from work a bit hard to grasp.

From The Star Fraction, by Ken MacLeod

Apparently I have something in common with MacLeod's Janis Taine: I too have a hard time understanding the concept of 'time off from work'.

Vacation - what is that? by you.

It's just .. if you're not working, what do you do with yourself? 

Happiness is a Warm Gun and many many magazines

I'm likin' the Smiley Face on the AR-15 receiver.

Happiness by you.

Not because you can hit a whole lot on full-auto [1] but because full-auto is fun.

More Pics!

[1] I did once see [2] a guy make very tight groups on three-round burst with his M-16A2, at 50 yards. In the dark. In a very stressful sub-optimal situation.  We knew the grouping because we looked at the building his target was using for cover and ... yupper ... several groups of three you could cover with a half-dollar.

Pity that he was aiming at torso height and the crazy dude was sorta hunkered down.

[2] 'Was cowering behind a rock while the rounds went by overhead' is more accurate.