On-line Opinion Magazine…OK, it's a blog
Random header image... Refresh for more!

Posts from — November 2010

Over For Another Six Months

This is the last day of the 2010 Hurricane season and the US managed to make it through with only one minimal Tropical Storm, Bonnie, making landfall. Other areas were not so fortunate.

Igor, which devastated Newfoundland, and Tomas, which ravaged St. Lucia are almost certain to be retired from the name list. Alex and Karl, which both made landfall in Mexico, are also candidates for retirement.

There were two Tropical Depressions and 19 named storms this year. A dozen of the named storms became hurricanes, and five of the dozen reached major hurricane status [Category 3 and above]. The Sea Surface Temperatures were well above normal, but the steering currents and fairly consistent high pressure in the Northern Gulf kept the storms away.

Dr. Masters has more information in his post, Hurricane season draws to a close.

He compares this season to 1995, when only two hurricanes made landfall in the US. The 1995 map is the background to my hurricane header, and the two hurricanes were Erin and Opal. If you look at the map, I live where both storms made landfall.

In addition to the Tropical Weather links, I’ve also pulled the Wildfire links from the sidebar, as the rains and snow have started and are reducing the danger.

November 30, 2010   5 Comments

Hmmm…

So I came across a link to, an Irish blogger, David Malone, with a nice post on the problems, The Enemy Within, showing the regulators in Ireland are no more interested in regulating than those in the US.

In the comments, there was a link to an academic paper by Dirk J Bezemer, Groningen University, Netherlands, dated 16 June 2009, titled “No One Saw This Coming”.

The paper is in PDF format, so use appropriate caution, but Mr. Bezemer wondered, after all the claims that “No one could have imagined …” that the global economy would go into a meltdown, if that was true.

This is an academic paper, so there are footnotes and references throughout, and the criteria used in the selection of the dozen people he cites as having predicted what happened were very limiting. It wasn’t enough that someone said it, they had to have the background to make that prediction, and they had to explain their reasoning.

I was interested that all of the major macro schools were represented, the Austrians, the freshwater, and the saltwater followers all had adherents who predicted the global meltdown, because they are all focusing on that ubiquitous report required in all accounting programs – the balance sheet.

They are definitely not in agreement as to what should be done, but they all saw the problem.

Simply put – people were generating “paper” assets, rather than “real” assets. If you read the blogs you know that it is a common statement that Wall Street doesn’t actually create anything. You need manufacturing to create real assets, and since the coronation of Reagan manufacturing has been moving out of the US. You can’t base your economy on “paper” assets and expect to survive.

People took on too much debt because “on paper” they were well off. As much of their wealth was tied up in their house, when the housing bubble burst, their asset value disappeared. When the assets took a major hit, the debt load leaped up.

November 30, 2010   2 Comments

A Mood Elevator

funny pictures-I will concede

Denied access to the pressure washer, they used a leaf blower – I kid you not.

November 30, 2010   18 Comments

What A Maroon!

Peter King wants to have a new Alien and Sedition Law: Key GOP Pol: WikiLeaks a Terrorist Group

The incoming chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee says WikiLeaks should be officially designated as a terrorist organization.

Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), the panel’s next head, asked the Obama administration today to “determine whether WikiLeaks could be designated a foreign terrorist organization,” putting the group in the same company as Al Qaeda and Aum Shinrikyo, the Japanese cult that released deadly sarin gas on the Tokyo subway.

“WikiLeaks appears to meet the legal criteria” of a U.S.-designated terrorist organization, King wrote in a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reviewed by CNET. He added: “WikiLeaks presents a clear and present danger to the national security of the United States.”

WikiLeaks released memos that demonstrate that the US Department of State is staffed with people quite capable of recognizing reality, no matter what the official propaganda line du jour is.

[Read more →]

November 29, 2010   15 Comments

More On Ireland

Susie Madrak found more coverage at Counterpunch:

And don’t believe the hype about European unity or saving Ireland. My ass. This is about bailing out the banks. The bondholders get a free ride while workers get kicked to the curb. Here’s a clip from the Financial Times that spells it out in black and white:

“According to data compiled by the Bank of International Settlements, the three largest creditors to the Irish economy at the end of June…were Germany to the tune of €109bn, the UK at €100bn and France at €40bn. These sums amount to 2 per cent of France’s gross domestic product, 4.5 per cent of Germany’s GDP, and 7 per cent of British GDP.”

See? Another bank bailout. Ireland is being asked to cut to social services, slash wages, renegotiate contracts, and dismantle the welfare state so that undercapitalized banks in France and Germany can get their pound of flesh. But, why? They’re the ones who bought the bonds. No one put a gun to their head. They knew they could lose money if Irish banks went south. That’s the risk they took. “You pays your money, and you takes your chances.” Right? That’s how capitalism works.

France and Germany have pushed this bailout and structured it so their banks will get their money, even if people in Ireland have to starve. They are the big push behind the high interest rate being charged. They don’t mention that their banks were part of the problem.

This isn’t about Ireland, this is about over-extended banks in other countries. Most of the money is going to be shipped to foreign banks, and will do nothing to help Ireland.

November 29, 2010   4 Comments

Traditional Christmas Pudding

Note: another recipe from Kryten in comments.

This very old fashioned recipe uses suet and has no sugar, so is diabetic friendly. 🙂
September to November is the perfect time to make this Christmas pudding.

Ingredients:

  • 250 grams sultanas
  • 250 grams raisins
  • 250 grams currants (or substitute figs)
  • 250 grams mixed peel (or substitute prunes)
  • 3/4 cup of nice port (or substitute Irish stout)
  • 3 eggs (lightly beaten)
  • 250 grams chilled suet
  • 125 grams plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 250 grams fresh breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 teaspoon (or to taste) of each: mace, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger.

[Read more →]

November 29, 2010   10 Comments

How’s That Austerity Working Out?

The BBC reports that Irish Republic 85bn euro bail-out agreed

European ministers have reached an agreement over a bail-out for the Irish Republic worth about 85bn euros ($113bn; £72bn).

The deal will see 35bn euros go towards propping up the Irish banking system with the remaining 50bn euros to help the government’s day-to-day spending.

An average interest rate of 5.8% will be payable on the loans, above the 5.2% paid by Greece for its bail-out.

Ireland got in this mess by guaranteeing the bad loans of its banks, part of the absurdity of socializing debt while privatizing profits. It compounded the problem by introducing austerity which has made a bad economy even worse by increasing unemployment and reducing the demand needed to get the economy moving.

Even though it is in this mess, the Irish government refuses to raise its absurdly low rate of business taxation. It is still in thrall to concept that all business thinks about is low tax rates. Businesses move money through Ireland, but they aren’t investing in Ireland. Despite the reality that this same situation exists in tax havens throughout the world, no actual investment in the local economy, the myth persists.

This deal punishes the Irish people while bailing out those responsible for the mess, the banks. Iceland, by contrast, told its banks to drop dead, and is recovering from the mess. BTW, capitalism requires the bad banks to go out of business, that is how the “invisible hand” regulates things.

November 28, 2010   17 Comments

Mer Jul i Gävle

Julbock

Once again, Why Now? is pleased to present the link to the webcam of Gävlebocken, The biggest Christmas Goat in the world [now with a blog].

From Steve Bates of Yellow Something Something in the comments from 2006:

Why build a giant goat of straw,
Which most of us would scarcely note?
Some, though, defy the very law,
To vandalize the Gävle Goat.

In some years, they used wayward cars;
In others, flaming arrows smote.
This year’s survives, although with scars…
A fact that gets some people’s goat.

A webcam and some watchful eyes,
A flame-retardant second coat,
Should save it… unless Dubya spies
The thing, and claims it’s his pet goat!

– SB the YSS

[Note: with the time difference and much shorter days in Sweden in the winter, you have to look really early to see the ‘Goat in daylight.]

November 28, 2010   2 Comments

It’s Just A Coincidence

Attaturk thinks it is a White Guy vs. Brown Guy perception, but the fact that the ‘Brown Guy’ [US teenager held in Oregon over Christmas ‘bomb plot’] is a Muslim, while the ‘White Guy’ is probably Serbian Orthodox [no one bothered to find out] is probably more important.

Just because this teenager didn’t have any other criminal record that was mentioned, while the ‘White Guy’ is a suspect in some bank robberies, doesn’t change the fact that the ‘Brown Guy’ is showing up everywhere, while the ‘White Guy’s bomb factory’ is treated as a local story.

Motive, Means, and Opportunity are the basic elements of a criminal prosecution. The ‘White Guy’ had all three, but the ‘Brown Guy’ needed the FBI to supply the Means. The lack of Means is a huge opening for a skilled defense attorney.

In related news, it’s the anniversary of Urban II’s call for the First Crusade in 1095. Some things never really disappear, they just go dormant. They are like societal herpes.

November 27, 2010   Comments Off on It’s Just A Coincidence

Help?

As I mentioned I’m working on a couple of places to get them ready for new tenants, and most if it involves minor repairs and painting.

The one I’m hoping to get ready first is half of a concrete block duplex built when Harry Truman was President. It has a lot of thermal mass, so if you get it to a temperature it will hold that temperature with minimal expenditures of energy, but getting it to the comfort zone takes a while if it has been unoccupied.

The electrical is finished and it looks like the shower is no longer dripping, so it is time for the painting. The new water-based paints are much safer and easier to use that the oil-based paints, but controlling humidity is important. Lately we have had very high humidity with fog every night. The walls in the duplex are dripping which makes attempting to paint a waste of effort. The leak in the shower and washing the walls increased the problem, so things have been slowed considerably.

The individual who wants to rent the place and his friends have been helping with the cleaning, but they are unclear on several minor concepts – like gravity. I tell them that the new carpet and flooring will be the last things done because you work from the top and go down so you don’t have to be as careful about painting, and dripping isn’t as big a problem. They keep wanting to do something about the floors.

Today I walked in and there was a bloody pressure washer in the center of the living room. It hadn’t been used, but the fact that they even brought it in, shows a mindset that is out of sync with reality. If they had turned it on inside, not only would the place be soaked, every electrical socket would probably had to have been replaced, as well as some of the wiring. They apparently thought that they could speed things up with the pressure washer, not understanding why they are only used outside.

If killing them wouldn’t generate so much paperwork …

November 26, 2010   21 Comments

Friday Cat Blogging

Neighborhood Watcher

Friday Cat Blogging

What’s going on?

[Editor: This is CC on her towel in her window watching people working on one of the apartments. I’m surprised anything came out as it was taken in very low light, and she is behind a window screen. She “talks” to me every time I go by.

Friday Ark

In Memoriam
RIP Vinnie, NTodd’s tuxedo tom.

November 26, 2010   6 Comments

Why You Should Submit To Airport Indignities

Because it is only those foreign terrorists who are trying to blow us up … or not – Police: Second explosive found in record cache in San Diego County

(CNN) — Authorities have found a second homemade explosive and more of a type of explosive previously discovered in a house in an unincorporated area near Escondido, California, officials said Thursday.

The house occupied by George Djura Jakubec, a computer software consultant who is now under arrest, has been described by authorities as a bomb-making factory. They say it holds the largest cache of the two homemade explosives ever discovered in one spot in the United States.

San Diego County authorities confirmed Thursday they have found pentaerythritol tetranitrate, or PETN, a favorite of al Qaeda bomb-makers that is now the target of new U.S. airport body scans and pat downs.

They also found more hexamethylene triperoxide diamine, or HMTD, in a bottle inside the house, but the two types of homemade explosives were not immediately removed because they are too volatile and the house is too cluttered to negotiate safely, Assistant Sheriff Ed Prendergast said.

Authorities had already recovered 8 or 9 pounds of HMTD, an explosive powder that suicide bombers use, authorities said.

If you are messing around with home-made HMTD you are a suicide bomber whether or not you actually intended to be. The police found the house after a landscaper made contact with what was probably spilled HMTD in the yard and it blew up.

I would surround the house with blast barriers and call in an air strike, because there is no way to clean that house out safely. If they have enough evidence for a conviction, I wouldn’t risk lives to gather more.

I’m sure the people who sold him the chemicals were shocked to find out he really didn’t … uh, umm … oh, yes, use them to clean swimming pools.

North San Diego county is an interesting place.

November 25, 2010   2 Comments

Happy Thanksgiving

TurkeyMy view of Thanksgiving was skewed by my Father’s attitude. Having grown up on a poultry farm, he saw the holiday as the culmination of weeks of work “processing” dozens of turkeys to be frozen and readying a few dozen more for fresh delivery. We generally ate ham when he was alive.

Having been on my Grandfather’s farm at this time of year I can understand my Dad’s attitude: our meal was subject to interruption by people picking up a fresh turkey at the last minute. A sale is a sale when you are business for yourself.

Thanks to Fox the WKRP turkey giveaway isn’t available on YouTube. Watching it was long a tradition at our house.

Enjoy your meal and try to forget about the world’s problems for a day – they’ll still be there on Friday.

[Please note that I heartily approve of people eating domesticated turkeys. They deserve to die. If you were ever unfortunate enough to deal with them, you would understand why I don’t like them. Wild turkeys are not the same, as they actually are capable of an independent existence. Wild Turkey is definitely not the same, and is an acquired taste.]

November 25, 2010   16 Comments

Bad Day For The Bug Man

But a good day for real people. CNN is reporting that a Texas jury convicts Tom DeLay on money laundering charges

Austin, Texas (CNN) — A Texas jury on Wednesday convicted former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay on charges of illegally funneling corporate money to help elect GOP candidates to the Texas Legislature.

DeLay was found guilty of money laundering and conspiracy to commit money laundering, court bailiff Gilbert Soto said. He was accused of funneling $190,000 to help elect Republicans to the state House and Senate in 2002.

DeLay’s sentencing was set for December 20, and he faces a possible maximum prison term of 99 years on the money laundering charge and 20 years on the conspiracy charge.

This was a very simple case under Texas law, and DeLay violated the law by accepting money from corporations and then giving it to state candidates. He needed to add more steps to his system to hide what he was up to, but was too arrogant to bother. He gave the money more of a “light rinse” than a real “laundering”.

November 24, 2010   5 Comments