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2009 November — Why Now?
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Posts from — November 2009

All Sticks And No Carrots

Iran has reacted rather predictably to the latest threats, as Danger Room reports Iran Wants 10 More Nuke Sites.

These extra sites will give Iran the capacity necessary to process their own fuel, and answers the question of why the latest site has so little capacity. They are dispersing the sites around the country to reduce the effects of threatened Israeli bombing raids. This is a very orthodox move in response to the threats that have been made, and should have been anticipated. This is a rational response to the constant threats.

As ‘Noz points out Iran has decided on a Netanyahu-style freeze, they will stop expanding after they have done all of the expansion they feel like. If it is acceptable for Israel, why isn’t it acceptable for Iran?

Without a consistent policy in the Mideast, the US has no policy.

November 30, 2009   7 Comments

How Do Reindeer Fly?

Christmas Mushroom

… and how can Santa Claus visit every house, go down chimneys, leave toys, all over the world in one night?

One of the answers is found on European Christmas trees.

Read about Finland’s version of the Julbock, Joulupukki.

Note: Don’t try this at home unless you have the kidneys of a reindeer. It also explains why gnomes are so cheerful. [This is one of my most searched for posts, almost as big as the Shi’ia oil map, or the Alaska-Russia border. It is a bit disconcerting to see the number of people around the world whose interests are as weird as mine.]

November 30, 2009   4 Comments

My Day

outdoor Christmas lights

The “joys of the Season” include trying to avoid extended hospital stays followed by physical therapy caused by falling off a roof while putting up lights. I think they should be banned, but my Mother likes them and almost no one else bothers anymore. Fortunately the neighbor who created “Christmas in Vegas” has left. They had every lighted object sold in their rather modest front yard and all of it blinked.

This is her side yard that faces the main road. The front has them, but you can’t really see anything because of the trees, but they are there.

November 29, 2009   8 Comments

The Bad Old Days

The BBC provides an updated report: Russia train crash ’caused by bomb’

The Nevsky Express derailed with nearly 700 on board as it ran through remote countryside between the capital Moscow and the second city, St Petersburg.

Investigators found “elements of an explosive device” at the scene of Friday’s attack, a statement said.

Officials said a second, less powerful device went off on Saturday near the site of the first, but no-one was hurt.

There was no immediate confirmed claim of responsibility for the blast on Friday evening, which hit a train popular with government officials and business executives at peak travel time.

“Criminology experts say, on the basis of preliminary information, that an improvised explosive device, equivalent to 7kg (15 lb) of TNT, had gone off,” said Alexander Bortnikov, head of Russia’s domestic intelligence service.

There is apparently a crater and explosives residue at the scene, as well as the report of the engineer and several passengers that a bomb went off. A second device went off about 18 hours later after trains were routed by on parallel lines.  Probably caused by the same type of device.

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November 28, 2009   6 Comments

The Parking Lot Survey

I drove by the parking lot of the local WalMart today. I guess everyone did their shopping yesterday, because this wasn’t even a busy Saturday crowd. Five years ago they would have been parking on grass and traffic would have been screwed up on the main road, but not today.

This is the end of the month and most people who still have jobs will get paid on the 1st, so it isn’t surprising. Before people would have put it on plastic, but not this year. The retailers know it, because you don’t see merchandise crowding the aisles, as happened in years past.

If yesterday was Black Friday, today is tinged pink.

November 28, 2009   6 Comments

The Holiday Spirit

funny pictures of cats with captions

November 28, 2009   20 Comments

Mer Jul i Gävle


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

November 27, 2009   Comments Off on Mer Jul i Gävle


EvergreenYes, it’s the time of year when the Sun dies and must be re-born through an elaborate ceremony that involves some form or type of sacrifice, such as finding gifts for people you can’t stand and smiling brightly as you receive yet another gift based on an urban legend that you actually like truly stomach-wrenching color combinations.

Of course there was a time when the Solstice sacrifices were more visceral and the evergreen was covered in things that pleased only ravens and such, but we have put all that behind us by opting for the possibility of electrocuting one another and causing chaos on the power grid.

What a brilliant idea: moving a large supply of pre-kindling soaked with highly flammable resins into your house, loading it down with petrochemical-based ornaments, lacing it with heat-producing electrical devices, and surrounding the base with cardboard boxes and tissue paper. You just can’t have a traditional celebration without a proto-bonfire in your living room.

I do think that followers of Mithras might want to curtail their typical birthday service in light of Mad-Cow Disease, but global warming will certainly make the services in the oak wood in traditional druidic robes more comfortable.

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November 27, 2009   Comments Off on Happy NODWISH™

Friday Cat Blogging

The Skeptic

Friday Cat Blogging

One more step and…

[Editor: Vinnie is still in full “Axe Murder” mode when he sees me. This is not a good picture because it is cropped at full resolution, while most pictures are cleaned up on reduction. I am well away from him, but he is still on alert for any move in his direction.]

Friday Ark

November 27, 2009   6 Comments

Another Domino Falls

The CBC notes that there is plenty of bad economic news to go: Dubai debt woes send world stocks stumbling

For years, Dubai World was at the forefront of Dubai’s international expansion into port operations, hotels and other assets. The slumping real estate markets in many countries combined with the overall economic recession, however, killed the organization’s financials and led to the restructuring.

European and Asian markets are taking a hit because their banks are holding Dubai debt, which was just as leveraged as everything else. Dubai was diversifying because they are running out of oil and didn’t want to revert to their former state of poverty alleviated by smuggling. No reason for them to spend their money when all these bankers were willing to lend them money at very low rates, that got lower every time they refinanced.

So now they are underwater on a lot of their commercial property holdings, i.e. they owe more money than the property is currently worth, and the cash flow has stopped. I don’t doubt that Dubai bonds were rated AAA+.

November 26, 2009   2 Comments


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 in 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.

November 26, 2009   13 Comments


Paul Krugman is going to be bald if he keeps scratching his head over the conventional wisdom that keeps showing up on the economy. His years as a teacher drive him to explain why people are wrong, and to wonder why they don’t seem to understand the basics.

For example, he locates a graph that clearly indicates that the recent changes in the dollar are not that drastic and certainly nothing to worry about. The same graph shows that the Hedgemony had the dollar falling every year of their reign, and no one said anything.

But, then, they never do when there’s a Republican in White House. The deficit that is such a crisis now was run up under Reagan and the Bushes, but it didn’t become a problem until a Democrat won the White House. Hell, Alan Greenspan started complaining because Clinton was running a surplus at the end, and paying down the national debt.

The National Debt Clock was shut down during the Clinton years, but the Shrubbery gets in and not only did it have to be turned back on, they had to add another digit.

The basic problem with the economy is exactly what Nancy Pelosi says, unemployment. Until people get back to work, they can’t pay taxes and they can’t buy anything. The deficit and the economy are impossible to deal with when you have double digit unemployment.

The employment boost that usually comes at the start of school didn’t happen this year. There won’t be any employment boost for the Holidays because sales are expected to be worse than last year. The effects of the first stimulus bill are running out, and the job picture didn’t improve – it was just a little less bad than it might have been.

This will have no effect on conventional wisdom, which will demand the White House do things that are guaranteed to make things worse. This is what happens whenever a Democrat is in the White House, so it should have been expected. Republicans always reduce revenues by cutting taxes on people who can most afford it and increase spending on things we don’t need, but it is the Democrats who are required to repair the damage.

† – It’s OK If You’re A Republican

November 25, 2009   2 Comments

Be Careful Out There

If you are traveling somewhere for the holiday, take your time and watch out for the crazies.

If you are flying, wear at least an N95 mask and wash your hands whenever you get a chance. Aircraft are the perfect incubator for communicable diseases as most are recirculating cabin air, and they are rarely cleaned these days.

People who are feeling a bit under the weather should stay home, but that is usually impossible to do without starting a major war in a family. For whatever reason, going and infecting everyone is considered less of a sin than staying home to avoid making people sick.

Hang out with friends and family and remember the old days when people had jobs, and could envision a future.

November 25, 2009   Comments Off on Be Careful Out There

150 Years Ago

On this date in 1859 a not particularly well-known Briton had a book published that outlined his views of the natural world, and his ideas of how some of that world worked.

After all this time Charles Darwin’s Origin of the Species is probably second only to the Bible as the most misquoted and misunderstood book on the planet, and second only to Joyce’s Ulysses as a book that people claimed to have read, but haven’t.

The status of the book is probably best exemplified by the fact that a first edition about to be auctioned was discovered on a book shelf in a guest bathroom at an old home in Britain.

The book actually owes its infamy more to the Huxley-Wilberforce debate than anything Darwin wrote.

November 24, 2009   2 Comments