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2008 May 14 — Why Now?
On-line Opinion Magazine…OK, it's a blog
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A warm Gulf Coast welcome to all of the visitors from China and other Asian countries. I hope you are finding the information you are looking for, and wish a speedy recovery for both Sichuan and Burma.

I have been looking around for a personal way to help. Mercy Corps seems to be on the ground in China, and has a four star rating at Charity Navigator. The Western Union Foundation currently has a matching pledge for $250K if they can raise it from private individuals, effectively doubling anything you can afford.

While the need in Burma is probably more widespread, I see no way of being sure that any money you send to aid in that effort will actually get to the victims rather than the government. While the government in China is working hard to provide relief, the government in Burma is hardly working.

May 14, 2008   3 Comments

Wish List

Scorpio has a wish list of changes to be made in tax policy and government purchasing to help American workers.

This is how things once worked, specifically in the 1970s and 80s when I was in public service and had purchasing authority. You looked for the best price, but in my jurisdiction we had policy of local purchase or product, then state purchase or product, and US purchase or product, before buying outside the US was considered. What the policy meant is that you bought as close to “home” as possible, even if it cost a little more, to keep the money as close to “home” as possible.

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May 14, 2008   9 Comments

Slippery Business

William K. Wolfrum has a nice comic riff on oil refineries . The oil apologists claim that the evil terrorist environmentalist have been blocking the heroic and patriotic oil companies from building refineries.

WKW notes, quite accurately, that no one has even started the planning process to build a refinery since 1976.  What he doesn’t mention is that when oil companies have merged since 1976 they often shut down existing refineries.  What refineries remain have to run all out to meet normal demand, with no reserve capacity.  Like the electrical generation industry, the oil industry has eliminated extra capacity because the only possible reaction to a shortage is higher prices for what they produce.  If they produce more, the price will drop.  It’s not like there’s any competition.

May 14, 2008   2 Comments

I Need More Coffee

So, I’m reading this AP story about the discovery of a bust of Caesar by underwater archaeologists in France, and my first thought was “He looks like Tom Brokaw.”

Time to up my caffeine level.

May 14, 2008   10 Comments

Aftershocks Continue

The ground is still shaking in China.

Over at the USGS site you can see the cluster of shocks on the 10° map and list of ‘quakes for the map shows 46 events from the initial 05/12/2008 0628 [UTC] 7.9 event to the most recent 05/14/2008 1227 [UTC] 4.4 aftershock.

The rate is slowing, but the shocks are still in the 4.4 to 5.4 range and the rain continues.

Update: CNN reports China: Troops race to plug quake-damaged dam

SICHUAN PROVINCE, China (CNN) — China’s death toll from a massive earthquake soared by thousands Wednesday as troops rushed to plug “severe cracks” in a dam upriver from one of the hardest hit cities.

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May 14, 2008   3 Comments