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Posts from — July 2011

Waiting For The Worst

While waiting for Invest 91 to become the next tropical storm of the season, we can review our ever-reducing ability to monitor and forecast severe weather.

I wrote earlier about the ‘death’ of QuikSCAT, a satellite, and an important tool in watching Atlantic storms. It out-lived its designed life-span by 7 years, but a Republican Congress and President refused to authorize a replacement.

Now, the word is that a House committee wants to cut the number of research missions of NOAA’s Hurricane Hunter aircraft. Apparently they can’t connect the research with better warning for coastal states, and more accurate landfall forecasts. This is all the more bizarre because the states most heavily affected by hurricanes, are primarily majority Republican.

One is left with the conclusion that Republicans hate knowledge, and anything associated with expanding it, like education and research.

July 31, 2011   Comments Off on Waiting For The Worst

Why We Have A National Debt

$100,000 Gold Certificate

The short answer is ‘tradition’. We got into the habit when it was necessary, and continued to do it, after it ceased to have any real relevance.

That is a $100,000 gold certificate. They were only used by Federal Banks, but they entitled you to go to the national depository at Fort Knox and pick up 2857.142857 Troy ounces of gold. No one ever did it, because then they would have to worry about the gold, and the paper certificates were a lot easier to manage and secure. At any given time the location of every one of the certificates was known, so it didn’t make a lot of sense to steal one. It is rather difficult to disguise yourself as a Federal Reserve bank.

When the US was on the gold standard it had have the gold or silver in its possession to issue the paper money. When it didn’t, it had to borrow it to cover the difference. It was actually buying something, so the debt had meaning.

After we went off the gold standard and repaid the owners of the gold, there is no reason to issue bonds, other than becoming a savings bank. There is no benefit to the United States in the issuance of bonds, and it costs us money to pay the interest, but the practice has continued because ‘we have always done it that way’. It is a very expensive way of controlling the money supply.

July 31, 2011   2 Comments

Other Countries Advance

While the US stagnates.

From the CBC: Ottawa bridge gets fix with ‘sexy engineering’

A portion of the Queensway in Ottawa’s west end will be closed overnight Saturday to allow for the replacement of the Carling Avenue eastbound bridge, in a switch so quick that officials have set up bleachers so engineering fans can watch the action.

The $11.5-million bridge replacement will take less than 24 hours, but Ottawa’s main highway will be shut down starting at 6 p.m. on Saturday in the area around the Carling overpass.

Island Park and Clyde Avenue bridges have been replaced with the same method in the past three years.

Engineer Ken Polson said the relatively new technology will allow work crews to have a smaller impact on the Queensway than would have been required in the past.

“Ten years ago it would have taken two years,” he said.

They have set up bleachers and made a web cam available to watch the process. This is what happens when people actually do things – a lot of other people want to watch. In the US we don’t even paint bridges, much less replace them.

Congress has become a circus, so where’s our ‘bread’? Hell, we can’t even get that right.

July 30, 2011   6 Comments

What?

The Top Story under CNN’s World heading is: Are the Smurfs crypto-fascists?

I knew an officer in a neighboring jurisdiction who was called “Smurf” by street people because ‘he was short, blue, and fuzzy.” That was highly evolved humor for a group of people who had long ago chemically fried their synapses.

Has anyone told the CNN editors that Smurfs are cartoon characters? Are they so impressed that someone can translate a story from a foreign language into English, that they want to feature it?

Can we just stop pretending the media is worth watching or listening to. Most bloggers have higher editorial standards, even on the right.

July 30, 2011   2 Comments

The Fool(s) On The Hill

So, because 59 Senators, including some Republicans, thought that Boehner’s bill was a non-starter, the House rejected the Senate bill, after requiring that it receive a two-thirds majority to pass.

Boehner is claiming that he ‘stuck his neck out’ to get a bill passed, but doesn’t explain exactly what he was risking. He might not get to be Speaker again? Is that the dire fate he risked? Democrats don’t compromise? Democrats didn’t walk out on the talks.

Mr. Boehner asks where is the President’s plan? According to the US Constitution, Article I, Section 7, Paragraph 1: “All Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives …” It’s your job as Speaker of House to make the plans. Why don’t you do your job?

The only reason for not having a vote on a clean bill to raise the debt ceiling is the desire by many to create a crisis and use the crisis to pass unpopular legislation. This is pretty much an example of extortion – “Do what I tell you or the economy gets it!”

Update: Steve Bates in comments isn’t the only one to see the similarity: On YouTube GOP Debt Ceiling Negotiation.

Update 2: For those who think the Federal budget is just like a family’s budget, here’s what Suze Orman, a guru of personal finance, thinks about the process: Congress’ mishandling of debt ceiling and deficit is surreal. Her solution is: JOBS!

July 30, 2011   5 Comments

Nowhere Man

The Washington Post tells us that Obama, White House seek to reassure base on debt ceiling talks.

Well, no one is buying the lies. BET reports that Conyers Has “Had It” With Obama

Rep. John Conyers (D-Detroit) is fed up with both President Obama, in part because of his alleged willingness during debt ceiling negotiations to make entitlement cuts, and Congress, because of what he calls its inaction on job creation. The 24-term lawmaker on Wednesday called for a protest in front of the White House.

“We’ve got to educate the American people at the same time we educate the president of the United States. The Republicans, Speaker Boehner or Majority Leader Cantor, did not call for Social Security cuts in the budget deal. The president of the United States called for that,” Conyers said at a news conference held by the Out of Poverty Caucus, which he co-chairs. “And my response to him is to mass thousands of people in front of the White House to protest this,” Conyers said.

Apparently Zero is attempting to get more support from ‘independents’ with his sell-outs. David Atkins at Digby’s wonders How’s That Working Out for You? The answer is that Zero is dropping like a rock with independents and the base aren’t buying it.

Jobs should have been the number one priority, but Zero would rather have support from Wall Street, than Main Street. Of course, Wall Street is now panicking too, so things are really looking up for ‘generic Republican candidate’.

July 30, 2011   Comments Off on Nowhere Man

Welcome To The Greater Recession

At Naked Capitalism Edward Harrison looks at the revised numbers that just came out: GDP numbers make double dip threat real.

Those of us who actually live in the real economy, as opposed to inside the Bubble, have been watching this happen. When two-thirds of the GDP is consumer spending and 20% of the workforce is un- or under-employed, spending goes down. People are trying to hang on until things get better, but there is no ‘tunnel’, much less a ‘light at the end.’ The Village can stop worrying about the ‘confidence fairy’, the ‘unemployment ogre’ had it for lunch some time ago.

Paul Mason, the Economics editor of BBC’s Newsnight decided to travel In Steinbeck’s footsteps: America’s middle-class underclass.

The new generation of Joads is living in tents, because they have run out of options. The Village refuses to do what is necessary, what we know from history works, because they don’t ‘believe in it.’

July 29, 2011   2 Comments

Did You Know

That natural latex balloons are biodegradable? So if you and a few thousand of your closest friends decided to to fill them with cold sun-brewed tea and bombard someone, the balloons wouldn’t harm the environment.

Keep in mind that torches and tar are not environmentally friendly.

Just some of the interesting things you discover on the ‘Net.

July 29, 2011   2 Comments

Pilot Error

The CBC reports on the findings from the data and voice recorders recovered from Air France Flight 447: Pilot errors blamed in Air France crash

The crew piloting a doomed Air France jet over the Atlantic did not appear to know that the plane was in a stall, despite repeated warning signals, and never informed the passengers that anything was wrong before the jet plunged into the sea, according to new findings released Friday.

The passengers were never told what was happening as Flight 447 went into an aerodynamic stall and then dived for 3½ minutes into the sea, according to a summary of the latest findings released Friday by the BEA — France’s civil aviation safety authority.

The pilots themselves may not have been aware they were in the stall even as it was dooming the flight, the summary says.

A stall warning sounded numerous times, and once for a full 54 seconds, but the crew made no reference to it in cockpit exchanges before the jet crashed, according to the BEA.

The BEA says it’s unclear why the co-pilot at the controls, flying manually in what became the final minutes of the flight, maintained a nose-up input — contrary to the normal procedure to come out of an aerodynamic stall. Normally, the nose should be pointed slightly downward to regain lift in such a stall, often caused because the plane is traveling too slowly.

Apparently the two co-pilots at the controls had minimal training in flying that aircraft manually, and no training in high altitude stalls. There is no indication as to why the pilot did not take the controls when he returned to the cockpit.

July 29, 2011   Comments Off on Pilot Error

Tropical Depression Don – Day 3

Tropical Depression DonPosition: 27.2N 97.5W [10PM CDT 0300 UTC].
Movement: West-Northwest [290°] near 14 mph [22 kph].
Maximum sustained winds: 35 mph [ 55 kph].
Wind Gusts: 45 mph [ 75 kph].
Minimum central pressure: 1006 mb ↑.

Currently about 40 miles [ 65 km] South of Corpus Christi, Texas.

Don came ashore South of Corpus Christi and began to rapidly weaken. It has been downgraded to a Tropical Depression and Watches and Warnings have been cancelled.

Here’s the link for NOAA’s latest satellite images.

[For the latest information click on the storm symbol, or go to the CATEGORIES drop-down box below the CALENDAR and select “Hurricanes” for all of the posts related to storms on this site.]

July 29, 2011   2 Comments

Friday Cat Blogging

Critic’s Corner

Friday Cat Blogging

Not much of a plot.

[Editor: Excise is too uncoordinated and large to fit on top of the ‘Cat Who’ book case, so he has to take his chances with what’s on the work table.]

Friday Ark

July 29, 2011   17 Comments

Maybe It’s You

'Weepy John' BoehnerJohn Boehner has been complaining about the “unwillingness” of Democrats to compromise, but he can’t even get his own party to vote for his plan.

I wonder if he has considered the possibility that he is the problem. When you can’t convince your own party to make a deal, why would anyone else?

Update: John-Boy doesn’t have the votes among his party to pass his bill in the Chamber he is supposedly leading, so he will wait until tomorrow.

Apparently no one thinks a straight vote on a clean bill to raise the debt ceiling is even worth consideration. All of the amendments are about things that belong in the debate over the budget, so saving them for the budget debate would be too rational and sensible for Congress.

July 28, 2011   6 Comments

Another Newt Screw-up

So Newt Gringrich is running on getting more manufacturing back in the USA, but that apparently hasn’t ‘trickled down’ to his campaign staff as as his campaign t-shirts are made in El Salvador.

If you want t-shirts made in the USA by union workers, you need to buy from liberal groups, like 2L4O [Too Liberal/Left For Obama]. If he asked nicely, I’m sure a liberal would tell him where to buy US made t-shirts.

It’s isn’t my fault that the manufacturer will probably want the money in advance from a Republican.

July 28, 2011   2 Comments

They Lie

But are too ignorant to know they are lying.

I was getting ready to unload on this “maroon” on MSNBC, but Digby has already called him on his “bullshit”.

First off some actual facts about US life expectancy from the Census Bureau:

Year Age: 60 [white male]
1890 14.73
1900 14.35
1910 13.98
1920 15.25
1930 14.72
1940 15.05
1950 15.76
1960 16.01
1970 16.07
1980 17.56
1990 18.70
2000 20.00

In 1890 if you reached 60 years of age you could expect to live almost another 15 years. In 2000, a 60-year-old can expect to live to 80. The big jumps the ‘maroons’ keep using are for new-borns. The life expectancy of 60-year-olds is the controlling factor, because that’s the group that will be collecting Social Security and Medicare, after paying for it for more than four decades.

These people act as if the Greenspan Commission that issued its report in 1983 and resulted in the doubling of FICA taxes, didn’t exist. Since that doubling, people, including Boomers, having been paying for those already in the system, and for their entry. The only “problem” with Social Security is that the deadbeat Republicans don’t want to pay back all of the money they “borrowed” from the trust fund.

The truth is simple: Republicans are a bad credit risk. They don’t want to pay their bills.

July 28, 2011   Comments Off on They Lie