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Posts from — April 2012

What A Whiner

The Guardian has an article on another Austerian looking to deflect the blame for his country’s slip back into recession: David Cameron blames UK double-dip recession on eurozone.

It doesn’t occur to Mr. Cameron that the reason the eurozone is in such sad shape is because of the same policies he is pursuing in the UK. When people are out of work, they can’t buy things, so demand falls, which puts even more people out of work. The process is well-understood by everyone but the Austerians.

Greece, Spain, Ireland, et al. were forced into taking the austerity measures by the Angie-Nickie cabal. No one forced David Cameron to do it. Austerity in the UK was a free choice by the Conservatives. You have to be reality disconnected from reality to think that massive government cut-backs in a weak economy is going to do anything other than make things worse.

April 30, 2012   2 Comments

Hexennacht

It’s Hexennacht and the moon is waxing gibbous [between first quarter and full, but there is no Blocksberg available for dancing down here and local fire officials frown on bonfires during “Fire Weather Warnings”.

Of course the Church grabbed this holiday too and called it Walpurgisnacht in honor of one of their Anglo-Saxon saints, rather than good German witches [Hexen].

The Celts celebrate Beltaine at this time of the year.

Archæoastronomy

April 30, 2012   Comments Off on Hexennacht

The Fun Never Stops

With luck this Friday will possibly feature some kitten pictures, but I’m not promising because I can hear them, but I haven’t seen them.

Fortunately they are nowhere near my house, as I am clearing brush away from it, which has involved a string trimmer, a hedge trimmer, loppers, a chain saw, a hoe, and a garden rake. Needless to say, I let things get out of hand last year, and some of the local ‘weeds’ [lantana, camphor trees, and crown palms] can do a lot of growing in a year.

I’m clearing it on general principles, and to get at the back eave so I can install a gutter. I’m sick of getting soaked when it rains and I use my back door. In addition, the rain has damaged the sill and some of the siding, which will require attention after I divert the water.

When I’m not outside I have been dealing with what should have been about 15 minutes of computer work involving converting some data generated by a COBOL program on a mainframe into a format that an individual needs for a program on a PC.

I have been doing conversions like this for years, so the actual process is just locating the appropriate software and running it in sequence. No sweat.

The problem is that the data is garbage. There were obviously no standards for the data entry people, and it shows. I am spending time cleaning up the most egregious errors, but this is just pathetic. I get a feeling from some of the mistakes that the people who entered it were not native English speakers, nor familiar with the US. I say that because I can often determine what should be in a field by saying what is in the field aloud, meaning they heard the sounds, but didn’t recognize the words. If you have ever used one of the early voice recognition programs, you would understand what I’m talking about. If they had used a computer program, the errors would be consistent, but they aren’t, so this was people.

April 29, 2012   2 Comments

Another Israeli Official Speaks Out

The BBC has another report on dissension inside Israel: Israel ex-security chief says leadership ‘misleading public’ on Iran

The former head of Israel’s domestic intelligence agency has accused the country’s leadership of “misleading” the public on the merits of a possible military strike on Iran.

Yuval Diskin said an attack might speed up any attempt by Iran to obtain a nuclear bomb.

The comment follows remarks by other leading figures contradicting the prime minister and defence chief’s views on the subject.

Iran denies it is seeking nuclear arms.

Mr Diskin, who stepped down as Shin Bet chief last year after six years, said he had “no faith in the current leadership” of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defence Minister Ehud Barak, according to Israeli media reports.

“I don’t believe in a leadership that makes decisions based on messianic feelings,” he said at a public meeting.

Juan Cole has an Israeli newspaper article on the remarks that goes into more detail.

For so many high ranking officials and former officials in the Israeli military and intel community to come out and speak about this in public, they must be very confident of their information. I suspect that it goes beyond the absence of any evidence of an Iranian weapons program. They may have well placed sources within Iran who are telling them that there is no program. Being wrong about this would have such serious consequences for these people, they must be sure of what they are saying. An absence of intelligence generally leads to equivocation, not confidence.

April 28, 2012   2 Comments

Masterful Work

If you enjoy the dissection of pompous people you should be reading Charlie Pierce, especially if those people are in any way involved in the Catholic Church.

Charlie has dusted off all of his old religious studies textbooks and has them on his desk as he goes after the ‘Clan of the Red Beanie’ and Catholic politicians attempting to justify their actions by appealing to the ‘morality defense’.

The latest victim is Paul Ryan who is attempting to justify his budget in the face of opposition from the US Conference of Catholic Bishops. Alas, Ryan attempted the ‘appeal to authority’ dodge by invoking St Thomas Aquinas, not expecting anyone to actually fact check him. Well, Charlie has Aquinas on his desk, and Ryan gets eviscerated.

This is why the Church was so adamantly opposed to people translating the Bible and other religious texts into the local languages – people would read them and understand what they actually said. This would generate embarrassing questions when the Church strayed from the text. The people were just supposed to do what they were told, not ask questions.

Charlie has discovered his inner theologian, a situation that all organized religions really dislike.

April 27, 2012   Comments Off on Masterful Work

Friday Cat Blogging

And The Winner Is …

Friday Cat Blogging

Whatever …

[Editor: Froggie is apparently the new alpha female based on the deference shown her at feeding time, even by Lucrezia.]

Friday Ark

April 27, 2012   10 Comments

Not Even Israeli Intel and Military Believe It

Dr. Cole notes a couple of recent statements by Israeli government officials to the press: Rubio Calls for War on Iran, Syria– as Israeli Army Rejects Strike

First, Israeli deputy premier and minister of intelligence and atomic energy Dan Meridor gave an interview with Aljazeera English in which he admitted that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad never called for Israel to be ‘wiped off the face of the map.’

Worse for Netanyahu and Rubio, Israel’s military chief of staff, Gen. Benny Gantz, came out and said that Iranian leaders are rational actors and that they have no current nuclear weapons program, not having decided to go for warheads.

Dr. Cole has been pilloried for correcting the mistranslation of Ahmadinejad’s statement, and probably lost a position at Yale because of the issue, as it was part of a personal attack on him by neocons and Likudniks.

So, to be clear, we have imposed sanctions on Iran which has raised the price of gasoline in the US and around the world based on the rants of Bibi Netanyahu which not even his own intelligence community or military believe. Is this a rational way to conduct a foreign policy?

April 26, 2012   Comments Off on Not Even Israeli Intel and Military Believe It

Austerians Win Another One

In their never-ending war against economic stability and prosperity, the Austerians can claim another victory. The BBC reports that UK economy in double-dip recession

The UK economy has returned to recession, after shrinking by 0.2% in the first three months of 2012.

A sharp fall in construction output was behind the surprise contraction, the Office for National Statistics said.

A recession is defined as two consecutive quarters of contraction. The economy shrank by 0.3% in the fourth quarter of 2011.

BBC economics editor Stephanie Flanders says it “adds to the picture that the economy is bumping along the bottom”.

If you look at the accompanying graphic, you need to remember that the Conservative government won control in May of 2010, so, to be fair, they weren’t really impacting the UK economy until 2011.

April 25, 2012   Comments Off on Austerians Win Another One

ANZAC Day

Australia & New Zealand flags

It is ANZAC Day in Australia and New Zealand, which is similar to the American Veterans Day, in that it began as a remembrance of World War I, and has become more generalized over the years.

“Anzac Day commemorates the involvement of Australian and New Zealand troops in a World War I campaign on the Gallipoli peninsula in Turkey.”

The Gallipoli Campaign began as a Winston Churchill [then First Lord of the Admiralty] plan that spun out of control and got a lot of people killed on both sides with nothing much changing, but then, that was quite common in World War I.

Peter Weir made a movie, Gallipoli, which, if nothing else, proves that Sergeant Alvin York, and T.E. Lawrence weren’t the only people who fought in World War I.

April 25, 2012   Comments Off on ANZAC Day

We Are Led By Idiots

Fred Grimm of the Miami Herald wonders: What is the University of Florida thinking?

Ever wonder how we’re perceived, out there in the techie universe?

“Amazed, shocked and angered,” said Zvi Galil, dean of the college of computing at Georgia Tech, reacting to the news that Florida’s flagship university intends to gut its computer science department.

The University of Florida, contemplating a 30 percent budget cut, intends to jettison the department’s teaching assistants, cut more than half the faculty and abandon research. Galil fired off a letter last week to UF President Bernard Machen, “to express, in the strongest possible terms, my concerns about the reckless proposal to dismantle the Department of Computing and Information Science and Engineering.”

Galil then wrote something slightly at odds with our politicians’ pretty talk about Florida’s high-tech future. “And I am by no means alone — the entire computer science/computing community is dumbfounded by the news coming out of Florida. It is unbelievable that a major AAU university would even contemplate such an action in the information age we live in today — an age fueled in great part by computer science!”

The University is cutting $1.7 million from the CISE/IT budget while adding $2 million to the athletics [football] budget. That shows their priorities.

I guess they assume that companies will just use H-1B visas to bring in any tech people that they want, so no need to ‘waste money’ on teaching Americans, so may as well use the money to recruit football players for the real business of Florida universities.

April 24, 2012   13 Comments

The Dutch Don’t Like Austerity Either

The BBC reports on the latest government wiped out by the Austerians: Dutch government falls in budget crisis

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte has tendered his government’s resignation to Queen Beatrix, paving the way for early elections.

His cabinet was plunged into crisis when Geert Wilders’ Freedom Party (PVV) quit talks aimed at slicing 16bn euros (£13.1bn) from the budget.

Mr Wilders refused to accept austerity demands to bring the budget deficit in line with EU rules.

His party was not part of the coalition but supported the minority government.

Dutch broadcaster Nos said Mr Rutte spent almost two hours on Monday afternoon at the queen’s palace in The Hague where he made the cabinet’s resignation official.

The Dutch economy, the eurozone’s fifth largest, has survived the eurozone crisis relatively well with a national debt of around 65% of economic output but its projected budget deficit falls foul of new EU rules requiring eurozone governments to keep below 3% of GDP.

A recent forecast from the Netherlands’ Central Planning Bureau estimated that the country’s public deficit would rise to 4.7% of GDP.

The Netherlands has been asked to submit its budget measures to the European Commission by 30 April, although it is not clear how firm that deadline is. Since 5 March, the two coalition parties along with the Freedom Party have been trying to reach agreement on budget cuts before the deadline.

Mr Wilders, who was said to have stormed out of talks at the last minute, said the coalition’s proposals would harm economic growth and affect many people’s spending power. Socialist Party leader Emile Roemer said he too was not prepared to support the attempt to bring the budget deficit below 3% by 2013.

When Geert Wilders is the voice of common sense, you should know you have really failed to grasp reality.

As Greece, Ireland, and Spain have shown, austerity in a weak economy is the quickest way to drive that economy into recession.

April 23, 2012   Comments Off on The Dutch Don’t Like Austerity Either

Saint George’s Day

Cross of St. George

Saint George is the patron saint of England, Georgia [the country], Bulgaria, Portugal, Catalonia, and the city of Moscow. Orthodox countries tend to celebrate George on November 23rd.

PETA condemns George for his senseless slaughter of dragons. The YWCA condemns the condemnation and wants to know when PETA is going to volunteer to be DragonChow™

It is UNESCO’s International Day of the Book.

It is also the birth and death day of Billy the Bard, who was a great writer in desperate need of a spelling checker.

Master Shakespeare gave all of the best lines to villains supplying low humor to those who have read the Folio, e.g. Arlen Specter quoting Iago, reputedly in support of Clarence Thomas.

April 23, 2012   3 Comments

Wow, People Don’t Like Austerity

The BBC is reporting on the first round of the French election: Francois Hollande ‘wins first round’

French Socialist Francois Hollande has won most votes in the first round of the country’s presidential election, estimates show.

They suggest he got more than 28% of votes against about 26% for centre-right incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy.

The two men will face each other in a second round on 6 May.

It is the first time a French president running for re-election has failed to win the first round since the start of the Fifth Republic in 1958.

With 80.9% of voters turning out, this is a good indication that the reality of Sarkozy’s policies is not popular with a lot of French voters.

Polls have been indicating for some time that Hollande had a comfortable lead over Sarkozy in a two-person race, but the loss in the first round was not expected.

The first round is like a US primary, with the top two candidates going on to the second round.

April 22, 2012   Comments Off on Wow, People Don’t Like Austerity

Show A Little Respect

Momma Earth

She’s the only planet we have, if we blow it, we can’t pack up and move.

Wikipedia as an Earth Day entry, with links to other sites.

April 22, 2012   12 Comments