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Posts from — February 2010

Feel The Love?

Funny Pictures of Cats With Captions

February 24, 2010   4 Comments

Can They Pick Them?

So, this past Sunday Former Speaker Ray Sansom finally resigned from the Florida House just before the start of hearings on his alleged “ethics violation”. You would think that with that mess still on people’s minds, as well as the recent replacement of the head of the party for various reasons, the Republicans would find a new Speaker who was as pure and new fallen snow.

Well, this is the Republican Party of Florida, so you would be totally wrong.

Meet the new Speaker:

The home of Rep. Chris Dorworth of Lake Mary is in foreclosure. He is struggling to pay a $2.7 million legal judgment from a bad land deal. And his driver’s license was temporarily suspended this month after what he called a misunderstanding with his car insurer.

Now that he is the new Speaker, of course, many of these problems will recede into the background as certain interest groups look for “favors”. Nothing untoward, of course, just some minor adjustments and recalculations. Mr. Dorworth is in real estate, so he is just having some “temporary cash flow problems” due to the “business downturn”, but that won’t have any effect on his performance in one of the three most powerful offices in the state. 😈

February 23, 2010   Comments Off on Can They Pick Them?

The Insurance Bailout Bill

I’m going to call it the “edifice complex”, the way Obama, the Blue Dogs, and the Republicans worship corporations.

Apparently what few members of the middle class who still exist in this country have reached their limit on paying for health insurance, and Obama et al. feel the need to herd new customers into the corporate feed pens to be drained of their last penny.

The so-called “Health Care Proposal” that the White House has posted for the latest photo op displaying Obama’s obsession with “bi-partisanship”, is, to no one’s surprise a warmed over version of the worst of the two bills that made it out of Congress – the Senate bill. Obama’s competence was barely able to cope with the Senate, and he is lost as an executive.

Obama doesn’t want any real competition for his corporate masters, so there isn’t even a reference to a “public option”, which was never defined in any case. They do intend to tax the health care benefits that a few unions have managed to secure for their members after years of negotiations, and they intend to sic the IRS on to people who object to throwing away money by giving it to insurance companies who have a track record of denying claims.

Oh, they are going to “review” rate hikes. That ought to be effective, telling companies that their 30% rate hike after a year with 30+% profit is somewhat excessive. No doubt there will be a board of former insurance company executives to advise on what is reasonable.

If they pass this turkey the Democratic Party will cease to be anything more than a name.

February 23, 2010   4 Comments

Winter Sports

The Yukon News has a nice article about Hans Gatt, who just won the Quest, and will be running in the Iditarod [March 6th]. In addition to making the sleds used by most of the top long-distant mushers, the transplanted Austrian is a nice guy who was there at the finish line to welcome in Jocelyne LeBlanc when she arrived to accept the Red Lantern.

There are rumors that this is the last year that Hans will compete in the long-distant races.

Another winter sport is taking a lot of grief from people – curling. The sport started in Scotland in the 16th century, so it was exactly designed for crowds, but it isn’t the seemingly simple sport that people assume. Nothing demonstrates that more than “The Shot” [YouTube video] made by Jennifer Jones in 2005. There is a graphic of it in her Wikipedia page.

What people don’t see unless they understand the sport is the necessity to calculate vector forces, as in billiards, and to adjust them by altering the friction of the ice in front of the stone as it moves. The sweepers are making the ice smoother or rougher to adjust the speed and rotation of the stone. It is a sport of finesse, not brute strength. You can’t be good at it if you failed high school physics, because it is really dependent on being able to use the laws of motion to get 40 pounds of granite to follow the path you need.

Here’s a nice site for the basics, using animation, and, as usual, Wikipedia tells you more than you probably want to know.

February 22, 2010   Comments Off on Winter Sports

Mens Rea

That’s a Latin legal term that is normally translated as “culpable mental state” and is indicated in criminal law by words like “intentionally”, “knowingly”, “negligently”, etc. It is part of the definition of any particular crime.

There was a nasty murder case in LA when I was in Southern California that created a firestorm of protests when the California Supreme Court overturned the conviction for the very basic reason that the district attorney hadn’t bothered to enter into evidence any of the mountain of facts that he had concerning the defendant’s “culpable mental state”. To prove murder you have to show that the defendant “intended” to kill the victim.

You can certainly prove that Joseph Stack intended to kill himself, but it would be a bit dicey to prove that he either “intended” to kill anyone else, although it was an obvious possibility, or to terrorize anyone outside of the IRS. It is a very technical point, but it matters in the law.

Mr. Stack was being targeted by the IRS, as are all independent contractors. That was the purpose of the 1986 law. It was sold as a “revenue measure”, because “everyone knows” that independent contractors are noteworthy tax evaders. The New York Times actually committed flagrant journalism and researched the law and the reasons for passing it.

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February 21, 2010   29 Comments

Entitlements

Entitlement is a slippery sort of word. It means different things to different people depending on a lot of twisted reasoning.

If you buy a ticket to an event, you feel like you are entitled to attend the event. If you receive more votes than your opponent in an election you feel you are entitled to the office. Sounds reasonable and straight-forward, doesn’t it?

For some reason an awful lot of people don’t think that you should receive the benefits you were promised after paying for those benefits for four decades or more. They don’t think you are entitled to them, although many of those same people think they are entitled to be paid by the Treasury and receive health insurance as the result of a election.

There seems to be a lot of confusion about the purpose of government, which is surprising given that the people who wrote the Constitution seemed to be pretty clear:

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February 20, 2010   7 Comments

Red Lantern

Red Lantern

The Red Lantern goes to Jocelyne LeBlanc who, like first place Hans Gatt, is from Whitehorse. Jocelyne finished the race in 13 days 8 hours and 28 minutes. She has been racing since Dawson with only 7 dogs, but they were all going home.

Overall a very fast race, taking a day less than last year, with 22 of 24 teams finishing. Last year only 18 of 29 teams finished. Unfortunately the race was marred by the first death of dog, Bags on the Terry Williams team, since 2007.

The second biggest problem for the teams was plastic runners. Gerry Willomitzer scratched because of a problem on his sled, and both Cindy Barrand and Jennifer Raffaeli were penalized 30 minutes for getting help to fix their runners.

February 20, 2010   Comments Off on Red Lantern

Yukon Quest – Day 14

Yukon Quest map even years

Sled DogUpdate at 11:59PM CST. The Red Lantern is the last thing to be settled. Since Jocelyne LeBlanc is from Whitehorse, scratching wouldn’t have made much sense, dispite having to leave half her team behind.

At Whitehorse
17 Bart DeMarie (14)R
18 Peter Fleck (24)R
19 Jennifer Raffaeli (16)R
20 Katie Davis (6)R
21 Pierre-Antoine Heritier (19)R
22 Jocelyne LeBlanc (8)R

Official Yukon Quest links: Live Tracking, Current Standings, and Current News.

The Mushers in bold are former winners of the Quest, the numbers in parentheses are their Bib numbers, and the small “R” indicates a rookie.

Note: This post will be updated during the day, and the map changed on all posts to reflect the current situation.

All posts on the Yukon Quest can be seen by selecting “Yukon Quest” from the Category box on the right sidebar.

February 19, 2010   Comments Off on Yukon Quest – Day 14

Friday Cat Blogging

She’s Back

Friday Cat Blogging

Go away, I’m eating!

[Editor: Molly holes up somewhere when it’s cold, so I was looking for her to be back on Thursday and she arrived extra hungry. Actually, she followed me around and this is the third place she ate. She is at least twice as old as any of the other ferals.]

Friday Ark

February 19, 2010   5 Comments

It Was A Rational Decision

Sean Paul noted the Local Plane Crash in Austin and linked to a Joe Weisenthal post at Business Insider: The Insane Manifesto Of Austin Texas Crash Pilot Joseph Andrew Stack.

The problem, beyond the death of innocent people in this incident, is that there is no “Insane Manifesto”, there is a reasoned and accurate portrayal of what life is like for small business people in technology, and what dealing with the IRS is like.

The only error is the target of Mr. Stack’s final act – the IRS is enforcing the rules imposed on it by a Congress that is controlled by corporate interests. Congress and the government’s willingness to do whatever their corporate funders want, is what has created the Byzantine mess that is the current tax code.

Having tried everything else, and doing what he thought he was supposed to do, i.e. education and hard-work, he just couldn’t get ahead, or even stay in the same place.

His final act was to lash out at the most convenient target – the Federal offices in Austin. It wasn’t insane, but it will be portrayed that way, so the ruling elite won’t have to bother themselves over it.

February 18, 2010   6 Comments

Yukon Quest – Day 13

Yukon Quest map even years

Sled DogUpdate at 10:00PM CST. Mike Ellis established another record for his purebred Siberian Husky team. Although Kelley Griffin had the last team with a payday at the end, people are still arriving.

Cindy Barrand brought in 13 of her original 14 dogs, but she and Jennifer Raffaeli both got 30 minute penalties for help with sled repairs.

Update: Terry Williams became the second scratch of the race when he pulled out at Carmacks. Just before his arrival, an 8-year-old dog, Bags, died. The initial autopsy indicates that the dog had a heart defect that wasn’t audible during screening. The dogs exhibited no signs of problems during three vet checks performed during the race. Williams was running a conservative race at the back, learning the trail, more than striving to win.

At Whitehorse
13 Mike Ellis (18)
14 David Dalton (3)
15 Kelley Griffin (15)
16 Cindy Barrand (9)R
17 Bart DeMarie (14)R
18 Peter Fleck (24)R
19 Jennifer Raffaeli (16)R

Beyond Braeburn
20 Katie Davis (6)R
21 Pierre-Antoine Heritier (19)R

At Braeburn
22 Jocelyne LeBlanc (8)R

Official Yukon Quest links: Live Tracking, Current Standings, and Current News.

The Mushers in bold are former winners of the Quest, the numbers in parentheses are their Bib numbers, and the small “R” indicates a rookie.

Note: This post will be updated during the day, and the map changed on all posts to reflect the current situation.

All posts on the Yukon Quest can be seen by selecting “Yukon Quest” from the Category box on the right sidebar.

February 18, 2010   2 Comments

Seasonal Stocking

It is impossible to buy locally if you are looking for something that corporations classify as “Seasonal”.

I tried to buy an electric heater today – the middle of February, overnight low temperature 29°F, Winter Olympics all over the media, East Coast still digging out from the last blizzard – but no one has one, they have AIR CONDITIONERS! Heaters are a “Seasonal” item and must be cleared out by the end of January to make room for the new seasonal items.

Needless to say, if you are looking for something warm to wear, you can forget buying locally, just as you will need to stop by a cheesy souvenir shop on the beach if you need a new swim suit during the summer – that’s a “Seasonal” item.

February 17, 2010   3 Comments

Yukon Quest – Day 12

Yukon Quest map even years

Sled DogUpdate at 11:30PM CST. Abbie and Normand finished the top 10 last night, and the last teams left Pelly early this morning. Jocelyne LeBlanc is down to 7 dogs on her team, which will definitely slow her down, and Pierre-Antoine Hertier seems to be having some difficulty on the trail out of Pelly, so the Red Lantern is far from certain.

At Whitehorse
9 Abbie West (1)R
10 Normand Casavant (10)
11 Sam Deltour (4)R
12 Dries Jacobs (22)R
13 Mike Ellis (18)
14 David Dalton (3)
15 Kelley Griffin (15)

Beyond Braeburn
16 Cindy Barrand (9)R

At Braeburn
17 Bart DeMarie (14)R
18 Jennifer Raffaeli (16)R
19 Peter Fleck (24)R

Beyond Carmacks
20 Katie Davis (6)R

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February 17, 2010   Comments Off on Yukon Quest – Day 12

US Bi-Polar Nuclear Policy

On MSNBC the top story in their US & World section was about Secretary of State Clinton’s speech at a Saudi Arabian women’s university in which she continues the US tirade about the Iranian nuclear program.

The top story in their Politics section was President Obama’s speech in Maryland promoting more nuclear reactors to reduce foreign energy dependence and pollution.

I’m not sure why the reduction of green house gases and pollution is bad for Iran and good for the US, I would think it was good for the world.

SoS Clinton mentioned guarantees, but they haven’t been honored in the past, so why would Iran believe them this time?

February 16, 2010   2 Comments