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Posts from — May 2012

Friday Cat Blogging

Decisions … Decisions

Friday Cat Blogging

Who should I annoy?

[Editor: Lucrezia ponders her next action, having just awakened from a nap.]

Friday Ark

May 25, 2012   9 Comments

Public Service Announcement

A group of students at the University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras Campus are conducting an investigation on the demographics of the Occupy Wall Street Movement, focusing on the Hispanic participation.

If you or anyone you know, have participated in an New York City OWS event, especially if you identify as a Latino/Hispanic, the students would appreciate your help with their project.

They have established an on-line survey en Español and in English.

The links go to an established survey site, but I always use ‘private browsing’ [Firefox] or an ‘incognito window’ [Chrome] to complete surveys. The survey takes about 10 minutes, and individual surveys are identified only by a number. There is a complete explanation before the survey starts.

If you can help them out I’d appreciate it because I did this kind of thing when I was taking classes, but I didn’t have on-line surveys to use. [If you think it’s tough getting people to take surveys on-line, try getting them to sit with a bubble sheet and a booklet of questions …]

I’ll make this sticky for a few days.

May 24, 2012   2 Comments

You First

Thers mentioned this silliness from the New York legislature, and Time picked up on it too: The New York Bill that Would Ban Anonymous Online Speech.

As with all abridgements of fundamental rights, it is ‘to protect children’ and stop ‘cyber-bullying’, and not to identify whistle-blowers and disgruntled employees [just so you know].

First off, congratulations to the NY lege for finally investing in a spelling checker, as there are many fewer errors in recent laws than was once common in revisions of the Penal Law. There as still some problems with your command of the alphabet for subsections, but the spelling improvement is a positive step.

Tell you what, first pass a law requiring all statements by elected officials and government employees used by the news media to be accompanied by the name and position of the individual, and then we can talk about what private citizens get up to. As long as ‘unnamed sources’ and ‘senior administration officials’ can con people into wars, the voters have a real problem deciding who should be hanged for these lapses. Let government at all levels in New York give up its anonymity in the press first to prove that there are no conflicts with the Constitution in such a policy.

In case no one has told them, the owners of web sites get to establish their own policies on who can comment, just like the ‘letters to the editor’ policies of newspapers.

May 24, 2012   3 Comments

I Warned You

I was just going to post on the fact that Facebook had already dropped to $31/share , but the story today is even more brutal. CNN gives us a round-up in Oh, Zuck: Facebook’s bumpy start just got a little worse. [That’s their headline.]

See, you have to be in the corporate media to say things like that, because bloggers wouldn’t use expressions like “cluster-Zuck” or say that small investors got “Zucked” because the M$M civility police would be all over them while passing out the ammonia capsules at the fainting coach.

NASDAQ, the technology exchange, couldn’t even keep their computers on-line for the IPO, and now you have law suits, investigations, and outrage.

Oh, well, just another SNAZU. [Hey, CNN started it, don’t blame me.]

May 23, 2012   6 Comments

The ‘Crusade’ Continues

They started off attacking nuns. Then they shifted to attacking Girl Scouts. And now they are in all out ‘victim mode’ claiming White House is “strangling” Catholic church.

Charlie Pierce noted that the guy making the claim about the White House, Cardinal Dolan, is on record as saying that his most important legislative item is preventing the extension of the statute of limitations on child molestation.

Dolan’s predecessor as Archbishop of New York, Cardinal Egan, has retracted his apology for priest sex abuse.

I have no interest in living a country that caters to Canon law, any more than Sharia. If they don’t like it, let then go live in the Vatican. The rules they are complaining about have been around for more than a decade, but the Bishops don’t complain unless there is a Democrat in the White House. The Bishops have no moral standing left after their conduct in the world-wide child abuse scandals. Apologies they don’t mean and retract later are not an indicator of righteousness. The Catholic Church is ‘strangling’ on its own hypocrisy and misconduct, not on health insurance regulations.

May 22, 2012   7 Comments

Post-Tropical Cyclone Alberto – Day 4 & Final

Post-Tropical Cyclone AlbertoPosition: 33.1N 74.0W [10AM CDT 1500 UTC].
Movement: Northeast [050°] near 17 mph [28 kph].
Maximum sustained winds: 35 mph [ 55 kph].
Wind Gusts: 45 mph [ 70 kph].
Minimum central pressure: 1008 mb ↑.

Currently about 170 miles [270 km] East-Southeast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina.

Alberto as transitioned to a non-tropical storm and is expected to dissipate after about 36 hours. This is the final NHC advisory.

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.]

May 22, 2012   Comments Off on Post-Tropical Cyclone Alberto – Day 4 & Final

Chicago Ninja Terrorists?

Susie wonders about the ‘terrorist’ arrest in Chicago, and this makes me wonder about everyone involved:

“The men had been making Molotov cocktails out of empty beer bottles filled with gasoline and fitted with cut bandanas for fuses,” Cook County state attorney Anita Alvarez told a news conference after the bond hearing.

“It is pretty clear from the evidence they were making the bombs,” Alvarez said. “There was a lot of discussion about making these Molotov cocktails and what they were going to do with them.”

How much of a discussion can there be about making a Molotov cocktail – breakable container, inflammable liquid, and rag for a fuse? If you can figure out Legos you are over-qualified to make a Molotov cocktail. Was there some big discussion of Corona vs Bud or regular vs high-test, cotton vs polyester? Did they wonder about the effects of ethanol being added to the gasoline? What was there to discuss?

If they had bottles sold for home beer brewing, they had a problem – the bottles don’t shatter easily because beer-brewing generates a lot of pressure and the people who sell to home brewers carry heavy duty bottles. Not exactly as tough as old Coke bottles or wine bottles, but robust. Reusing bottles from commercial beer is not recommended for home brewing because of the pressure problems.

Molotov cocktails are OK in Europe because they have cobblestone streets, but not very effective in the US.

The real issue is that there was obviously a police agent inside. Are there recordings, or are we supposed to believe someone who is paid to lie? If there was an agent inside, why didn’t the police get a warrant? If there was time for a lot of discussion about bombs, there was time to get a warrant.

May 21, 2012   8 Comments

Tropical Depression Alberto – Day 3

Tropical Depression AlbertoPosition: 30.9N 76.5W [10PM CDT 0300 UTC].
Movement: East-Northeast [065°] near 13 mph [20 kph].
Maximum sustained winds: 35 mph [ 55 kph].
Wind Gusts: 45 mph [ 70 kph].
Minimum central pressure: 1008 mb ↑.

Currently about 245 miles [390 km] East-Southeast of Charleston, South Carolina.

Alberto’s stay in the cooler water close to the coast sapped its strength and now it is heading out to sea.

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.]

May 21, 2012   3 Comments

Austerity For Thee …

But not for me.

From a German news site [via Attaturk] and AFP reporting Angela raised her salary and that of her ministers:

German Chancellor Angela Merkel will soon have an extra €930 [$1,189] in her pocket each month, after the country’s cabinet decided on Wednesday to award themselves their first pay rise for over a decade.

Merkel, her ministers and their parliamentary secretaries of state will see their wages rise in three stages between now and August 2013, until they all get 5.7 percent more. It is the first pay raise that the German cabinet has taken in twelve years.

The chancellor’s total pay is set to rise from €16,152 [$20,647] per month before tax to around €17,016 [$21,751]. This does not include her €1,022 [$1,306] “special duties” allowance.

Ministers’ pay will rise by €750 euros [$959 dollars] to around €13,795 [$17,634] a month. This will amount to a bump of around €9,000 [$11,505] over a year.

Until now, ministers’ wages have been set relative to those of civil servants. And despite considerable protest about the idea of separating them, particularly over the past two years, the cabinet decided to go ahead with the change.

[I did the conversions in square brackets]

The German cabinet salaries had been tied to civil service salaries, which means that civil service hasn’t seen a pay raise in over 12 years, and still won’t [have to cut wasteful government spending], but elected politicians need to be paid more to deal with the cost of living [which apparently isn’t important for actual government workers].

So, how is she going to pay for the increased cost of the cabinet salaries? Who gets screwed to balance her personal budget? Why don’t she and her ministers learn to live within their means?

May 20, 2012   2 Comments

Tropical Storm Alberto – Day 2

Tropical Storm AlbertoPosition: 30.5N 80.1W [10PM CDT 0300 UTC].
Movement: South [180°] near 5 mph [ 8 kph].
Maximum sustained winds: 40 mph [ 65 kph].
Wind Gusts: 50 mph [ 80 kph].
Tropical Storm Wind Radius: 70 miles [110 km].
Minimum central pressure: 1007 mb ↑.

Currently about 160 miles [255 km] South of Charleston, South Carolina.

All Watches have been discontinued.

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.]

May 20, 2012   Comments Off on Tropical Storm Alberto – Day 2

Tropical Storm Alberto

Tropical Storm AlbertoPosition: 31.8N 78.5W [10PM CDT 0300 UTC].
Movement: Southwest [235°] near 6 mph [ 9 kph].
Maximum sustained winds: 50 mph [ 80 kph].
Wind Gusts: 65 mph [105 kph].
Tropical Storm Wind Radius: 45 miles [ 75 km].
Minimum central pressure: 998 mb ↓.

Currently about 155 miles [250 km] East of Savannah, Georgia.

A Tropical Storm Watch is in effect for the coast of South Carolina from the Savannah River to South Santee River.

This is not a drill, the season is underway early. Tracking does not currently show the storm making landfall, but the East Coast needs to watch it and get ready.

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.]

May 20, 2012   Comments Off on Tropical Storm Alberto

One More Time

Badtux has posted on this point multiple times. I have hammered it home too. So let’s try it again from someone else.

The Agonist has the TED video embedded that features venture capitalist Nick Hanauer making the point that: Consumers Are The Real Job Creators.

This point is part of the American mythology. Everyone should have heard that Henry Ford paid his workers well, above the prevailing rate, so they could afford to buy the cars they were building.

It is really simple – laying people off reduces demand. People without jobs have no money to spend, so there is a reduction in the demand for goods and services. Markets are where buyers and sellers meet. If there are no buyers, there is no market.

High unemployment is the biggest problem in the US and Europe. It reduces the revenues of business and government. Business is not going to start spending money until it sees an improvement in demand, and demand isn’t going to improve until people get back to work.

Governments are the only entities with the resources to break this cycle.

May 19, 2012   Comments Off on One More Time

A Squib Round

In shooting a squib round is one with insufficient powder to push the bullet completely out of the barrel. Unlike a dud, there is sound but the barrel is plugged.

That is essentially what happened with the Facebook IPO today but the BBC is more polite: Facebook shares see modest debut

Facebook shares ended their first day of trading at $38.23, barely above the company’s initial pricing of $38.

Shares in the social network rose more than 10% to $42 within minutes of trade beginning, before quickly falling back.

Later gains were wiped out too at the end of a volatile day’s trade, as the firm’s debut on the Nasdaq exchange was also delayed by a technical glitch.

The stock’s underwriters had to buy shares to support the $38/share price, so the actual market price was below that level. NASDAQ was off by 1.24% for the day, joining the down trend in all of the major markets.

I see the press erroneously reporting that principals in the company are now millionaires and billionaires because they own stock that is now being traded. They have paper, not money. Their stock is only worth what someone is willing to pay for it if they sell it. If no one wants to buy the stock, they are broke. That is the dirty little secret of owning stock, as a lot of people with 401Ks have discovered.

Why would anyone buy Facebook stock at a price-earnings ratio of 100 [it would take a hundred years for current earnings to make that much money]. This was heavily promoted by the underwriters and the media, and no one cared. The people with money to invest, are investing it in T-bills, not Internet companies.

May 18, 2012   6 Comments

Friday Cat Blogging

Eyes Of The Tigers

Friday Cat Blogging

We’re watching you!

[Editor: The two tabbies have found a nice place to lounge in a pile of stuff on the side of my house. They are definitely not interested in any interaction with me. They moved from the pump house because of too many ‘visitors’.]

Friday Ark

May 18, 2012   8 Comments