31 July 2010

Goldman S@#54

We live in Bizarro World
Jon Stewart asks a question, "What is the appropriate response for a company that is selling its customers a sh%$ty deals, being caught on email calling them sh%$ty deals, and then being forced to pay a $550 million fine?"

Well if you are Goldman Sachs, the response is to ban profanity in employee email.


What a Repulsive Capitulation to the Forces of Bigotry and Evil

The Anti-Defamation League has, over the past few years, attempted to forge ties with the Christian Right, because they are perceived as "Pro-Israel."

It should be noted that the fundamentalist Christian definition of supporting Israel means that they want Jews to be around to die horribly and painfully during the Armageddon that follows the rapture, which is a different definition of being "Pro-Israel" than I was previously aware of.

Well the latest big of demagoguery coming from our Christo-Fascist friends is their Jihad against an Islamic center being built in lower Manhattan, largely because they think that this is an act of bigotry that can play well for them politically.

In response, to these contemptible proclamations from Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich, and the rest of the merry band of bigots, the ADL has come out against the complex with a bizarre statement saying that the people screaming are bigots, but that the screaming has upset 911 victims, and that any construction should therefore be stopped.

The ADL has affirmatively allied itself with the philosophical descendants of the bigoted thugs who lynched Leo Frank, which, ironically enough, was the event that led to the creation of the ADL in the first place.

53 Tons? What are They Smoking????

BAE* has released its proposal for the ground combat vehicle program, it's a tracked vehicle with hybrid electric propulsion which weighs 53 tons in base configuration, though with bolt on armor, this can get as high as 75 tons, or more than an M-1 tank.

That is more than 10 tons more than a T-80 tank, and about 20 tons more than a Bradley, the vehicle which it is supposed to replace, before you bolt on the extra armor:
The base version is 53 tons. Going into a highly lethal environment? Then commanders may well want their troops to bolt on modular armor and storage pods that bring the weight up to 75 tons. Powering this vehicle that looks an awful lot like a tank, is a hybrid electric drive, technology that worries some in the Army who don’t believe it is sufficiently tried and true yet.
They are promising greater reliability and fuel economy, which is a lie.

The running gear needs to be designed for 75 tons, and the maintenance and fuel needs, even if marginally ameliorated by a hybrid propulsion system are going to be huge.

This is just nuts.

It's unsupportable, and the logistical trail will be huge.

*Full disclosure, I worked on the Future Recovery and Maintenance Vehicle, FRMV, "wrecker" variant of the FCS-MGV from 2003-2006 at United Defense (later BAE Systems after the Carlyle Group sold me to buy Dunkin Donuts).
Future Combat Systems-Manned Ground Vehicle. These are the ones that are the tanks and APCs. As opposed to the various unnmanned vehicles, networking technologies, etc. that form the full FCS along with the MGVs.
Yes, I have worked everywhere. Maybe I can't hold down a job, but more likely this has been my role as "technical hit man", where you are parachuted in to take care of a specific need.

Silly Putty™ Armor

BAE Systems* has developed what it calls a liquid armo(u)r, that is supposed to be proof against bullets:
A liquid armour has been shown to stop bullets in tests carried out by UK scientists at BAE systems in Bristol.

The researchers have combined this "shear-thickening" liquid with Kevlar to create a new bullet-proof material.

The company is keeping the chemical formula of the liquid a secret, but it works by absorbing the force of the bullet strike and responding to it by becoming much thicker and more sticky.

The BAE scientists describe it as "bullet-proof custard".
In theory, this is fairly simple, it's a non-Newtonian fluid, and you can see this behavior with silly putty™ or water and corn starch.

Of course in practice, finding the proper characteristics, and my guess is that a lot of this has to do with the peculiarities of the interaction between the Kevlar fibers and the fluid, is the tough part.

Seeing as how a body part won't be moving at more than about 20 m/s, and a bullet would likely be moving at more than 100 m/s even at the extremes of range, developing a material with the appropriate characteristics is certainly technically possible.

*Full disclosure, I worked on the Future Recovery and Maintenance Vehicle, FRMV, "wrecker" variant of the FCS-MGV from 2003-2006 at United Defense (later BAE Systems after the Carlyle Group sold me to buy Dunkin Donuts).
Future Combat Systems-Manned Ground Vehicle. These are the ones that are the tanks and APCs. As opposed to the various unnmanned vehicles, networking technologies, etc. that form the full FCS along with the MGVs.
Yes, I have worked everywhere. Maybe I can't hold down a job, but more likely this has been my role as "technical hit man", where you are parachuted in to take care of a specific need.

UK Unveils Stealth Drone

The UK has now unveiled its stealthy drone, the Taranis, and rather unsurprisingly, since the electromagnetic spectrum and aerodynamics work the same for the Brits as everyone else, even if they do drive on the wrong side of the road, it looks like just about every other flying wing type stealth drone.

You can see a few more pix here.

30 July 2010

Deep Thought

H/t DC at the by invitation only Stellar Parthenon BBS.

It's Bank Failure Friday!!!!

And here they are, ordered, and numbered for the year so far.
  1. Northwest Bank & Trust, Acworth, GA
  2. Bayside Savings Bank, Port Sainte Joe, FL
  3. Coastal Community Bank, Panama City Beach, FL
  4. The Cowlitz Bank, Longview, WA
  5. LibertyBank, Eugene, OR
It's "only" 5 this week, which is less than either of the past 2 weeks, though above the average of 3.6/week for the year.

Full FDIC list

So, here is the graph pr0n with trendline (FDIC only):

I would note that are now at the point where the utility of the least squares trendline is diminishing, but I'm keeping it here for historical purposes.

Cooking With the Chef

The Swedish Chef, pumpkin pie:

It reminds me of that old Peanuts cartoon where Linus freaks out over Lucy eviscerating a pumpkin for a Jack-O-Lantern.

The Teabaggers Oregon Chapter is Doomed

Click for full size
The Stupidity, shortly followed by

The Groveling Apology
The Oregon division of the teabaggers, AKA the "Oregon Tea Party," decided to steal the slogan of Anonymous on 4chan.

Anonymous is/are a group of people who took on the Church of Scientology, and pretty much won.

Anonyous took action: There was a flood of pr0n links and the like on the Oregon Teabaggers' Facebook page, which has now been taken down, though not before the Teabaggers posted a sycophantic apology (see pic).


Stuff like this is why 4chan is firmly on my list of People I Do Not Want to Piss Off.

Google™ Adsense™ Screws the Pooch Again

Yep, Fred Thompson, whose presidential campaign I called the Fred Thompson Clown Show, is now pimping a website dedicated to preserving George W. Bush's tax cuts for the very rich.

And through the magic of Google™ Adsense™, they are buying ads on my blog to sell this scam.

Please note: once again, that I do not vet, nor do I endorse any ad that appears on my site, and I reserve the right to mock both the ads that appear on my site, as well as the advertisers.

Also, please note, this should be in no way construed as an inducement or a request for my reader(s) to click on any ad that they would not otherwise be inclined to investigate further. This would be a violation of the terms of service for Google™ Adsense™.

A Clarification on Yesterday's Post

On the whole, I think that Barack Obama's administration is immeasurably better than George W. Bush's. It is on the specific areas of immigration, the jihad against whistleblowers, the national security state, and Afghanistan where he is by all objective measures much worse.

Yesterday's post, was about those specific areas, and in other areas he compares favorably:
  • On healthcare, Obama is head and shoulders above Bush and His Evil Minions. (But still pretty lame and timid)
  • On Labor, Obama is head and shoulders above Bush and His Evil Minions. (But still pretty lame and timid)
  • On financial regulation, Obama is head and shoulders above Bush and His Evil Minions. (But still pretty lame and timid)
  • On the budget and taxation, Obama is head and shoulders above Bush and His Evil Minions. (But still pretty lame and timid)
Huh, there appears to be a pattern.

29 July 2010

Obama is Objectively Worst than Bush

In addition to increasing deportations of illegal aliens to a pace only dreamed of by the Bush administration, Barack Obama is looking to expand the FBI's extrajudicial, and much abused National Security Letters beyond what Dick Cheney wanted in his most paranoid fantasies:
Today, The Washington Post reports that the Obama administration wants Congress to expand the type of data that can be gained through the use of National Security Letters:
The administration wants to add just four words -- "electronic communication transactional records" -- to a list of items that the law says the FBI may demand without a judge's approval. Government lawyers say this category of information includes the addresses to which an Internet user sends e-mail; the times and dates e-mail was sent and received; and possibly a user's browser history. It does not include, the lawyers hasten to point out, the "content" of e-mail or other Internet communication.
This is on the heels not only of the administration blocking reasonable restrictions on what has objectively been widespread misuse of NSLs, but of the FBI recently beginning to investigate whether or not "hundreds" of agents cheated on the exam meant to "ensure that they could follow aggressive investigative guidelines without intruding on Americans' privacy rights." That's on top of threatening to veto the meager intelligence-oversight reforms being proposed by Congress. As Gene Healy wrote yesterday, "Our interminable war on terror sometimes seems designed to justify every bad thing libertarians have ever said about government." Having acted irresponsibly with the surveillance power it already has, and blocked reform that would have made the government more accountable, the Obama administration now wants even more power to violate the privacy rights of American citizens. When it comes to national security, there's nothing like failed government performance to justify giving the government more power.
My sense on these matters is that there are a number of issues which are driving this:
  • Barack Obama feels that he and his administration are good people who can responsibly handle this authority, and so he, and his administration, do not need to constrained by constitutional checks and balances.
    • Which would put former adjunct Professor Obama in serious running for "Worst Constitutional Law Professor ever."
  • Barack Obama has been successfully cowed by the professional state security apparatus in the United States, which is doubtless feeding him alarmist horror stories, and so he is giving them their wish list.
  • That, much like he is in the case of expanded deportations, and the war in Afghanistan, he sees this as a way to inoculate himself against attacks from the right in 2012.
    • If this one is true, it means that Dick Cheney has more ideological integrity than does Barack Obama, as scary as that sound.
  • Because he can, which, as former President Bill Clinton noted is the worst possible reason.
It is really remarkable how despite my low expectations, he continues to manage to disappoint.

To a large degree I blame those who protested the excesses of Bush and His Evil Minions who are not largely silent, because Barack Obama is the leader of their party.

28 July 2010

Another Way That the FIRE* Sector Cheats Ordinary Americans

If you get a large insurance payout, they won't send you the money, they just send you a "check book," and keep your money in an account that they hold.

Only the "check book" is not a check book, because it's not a bank, and it's not FDIC insured, and they pay you 1% for an account that earns them 5%:
Lohman, a public health nurse who helps special-needs children, says she had always believed that her son’s life insurance funds were in a bank insured by the FDIC. That money -- like $28 billion in 1 million death-benefit accounts managed by insurers -- wasn’t actually sitting in a bank.

It was being held in Prudential’s general corporate account, earning investment income for the insurer. Prudential paid survivors like Lohman 1 percent interest in 2008 on their Alliance Accounts, while it earned a 4.8 percent return on its corporate funds, according to regulatory filings.
Note that her son was a soldier killed in Afghanistan, so they are stealing from the bereaved families of fallen soldiers.

At this point, I normally say, "Not Enough Bullets," but I've used that a bit too much lately, so I will go with the apocryphal end of Marcus Licinius Crassus, who was made to drink molten gold by his captors as punishment for his greed.

*The Finance Insurance and Real Estate sector.

I'm Buying Futures in Fig Newtons and Ice Cream Sammiches

It appears that California's Proposition 19, which would legalize and tax marijuana in the state has support fairly consistently polling ahead of opposition.

It should be noted that on human mediated polling, the initiative is down by between 1% and 4%, while in automated polling it is ahead by 10% and 16%, which Nate Silver thinks this is largely because people do not want to tell another person that they are voting for pot, though automated polls might miss minorities who tend to be more opposed to legalization.

I think that it will pass, because it is being sold on unrealistic magical thinking: If you vote for pot, and it is taxed, then California's fiscal crisis is washed away by a font of "potro-dollars".

This argument has a grain of truth, reduced costs of enforcement and the resulting criminality, along with the tax revenue, are not insignificant, but it's not enough to fix the state that was ruined by the California voters and their initiative petition process.

Rob Simmons Reenters CT Republican Senate Primary

With Worldwide Wrestling doyenne Linda McMahon polling well behind Democrat, along with her being dogged by real evidence of complicity in steroid abuse, Rob Simmons has reentered the Republican primary, he suspended his campaign in the face of the millions that McMahon was spending on herself, and was promptly endorsed in the primary by the Hartford Courant.

Pass the popcorn.

Spineless Weasels

So, because of the threat that Republicans will not say nice things about them, Democrats are preemptively taking the possibility of any meaningful legislative activities following the elections, during the lame duck session:
The head of House Democrats’ campaign committee tried Tuesday to tamp down speculation that the party would try to push through major legislation during a lame-duck session of Congress this fall.

Rep. Chris Van Hollen (Md.), the assistant to the Speaker and chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), said “no one should think there’s some secret plan for after the election on big issues.”
Yeah, like rolling over and exposing your belly will keep them for going for your throat.

I'm with Howard Dean, when he says, "No More Apologies -- It's Time to Stand Up for Our Convictions."

US Congress Passes Bill to Reduce Crack Cocaine Disparity

This is good news. The 100:1 sentencing disparity was fueled by 12 part hysteria, and about 8 parts by a desire by Ronald Reagan and His Evil Minions to use incarceration as a way to suppress the black vote.

Wanker of the Day

Neel "Cash and Carry" Kashkari penned an article in (where else) The Washington Post, pens an OP/ED titled, "No more 'me first' mentality on entitlements," suggesting that individual Americans need to suck it up, and abandon their already meager social safety net, and not expect to be bailed out by the government.

Kashkari ran the TARP. He gave out billions, of bailouts to 'me first' bankers, and then got a cushy job with PIMCO, so he doesn't have to worry about eating cat food* to survive.

3 Words: Not Enough Bullets

*In the interest of health, I would suggest that people eat dog food, and not cat food. Cats because they are one of the few true carnivores, do not need the complex carbohydrates and fats that people, and dogs do. As such, dog food is better for you than cat food because it provides carbs and essential fatty acids. A dog can go blind if it is fed on cat food, but a cat lives just fine on dog food. The phenomenon is known as rabbit starvation.

Quote of the Day

Most presidents start wondering—or, more often, worrying—about their “legacy” well into their first term. Or, if they have a second term, they worry even more feverishly about what posterity will think of them. Obama need not wonder about his legacy, even this early. It is already fixed, and in one word: Afghanistan. He took on what he made America’s longest war and what may turn out to be its most disastrous one.
--Historian Garry Wills
It should be noted that Mr. (Dr?) Wills was one of 8 academics historians who had a dinner with him in June 2009, and gave him advice, and this is what he, and most of the other, guests said to his face.

I hope that Obama is just desperately wrong on Afghanistan, because the alternative is that we are killing our hundreds soldiers, and thousands of Afghans, because Obama feels the political need to "look tough."

Judge Suspense Portions of Arizona's "Papers Please" Law

I'm a hard liner on immigration, but I oppose this law.

It has been passed by people who as a matter of course disenfranchise Arizona hispanics for political advantage, so the judge's ruling is a welcome development:
A federal judge on Wednesday blocked the most controversial parts of Arizona’s immigration enforcement law from going into effect, a ruling that at least temporarily squashed a state policy that had inflamed the national debate over immigration.

Judge Susan Bolton of Federal District Court issued a preliminary injunction against sections of the law, scheduled to take effect on Thursday, that called for police officers to check a person’s immigration status while enforcing other laws and required immigrants to prove that they were authorized to be in the country or risk state charges. She issued the injunction in response to a legal challenge brought against the law by the Obama administration.
If you want to get tough on illegal aliens, go after the employers.

Economics Update

The obvious lede here is the fact that the Fed has released its Summary of Commentary on Current Economic Conditions, better known as the Beige Book, which was not good, weakening slightly from June's Beige Book, but it is not downright awful.

This is the already anemic stimulus, and a mild restoration of inventories running out of steam.

If you want some more detail, you can look at the Dallas, Richmond Fed Manufacturing surveys have shown a sluggish economy, and the Chicago Fed National Activity Index has fallen.

We are also seeing that consumer confidence fell to a 6 month low in June.

Additionally real estate is really pretty pathetic, with the number of renters skyrocketing as the home ownership rate has hit an 11 year low, so much for the Bush/Greenspan real estate wealth.

Note that home sales did rise sharply in June, over an expiration-of-the-tax-credit crippled May, but it still was the worst June ever recorded.

Mortgage news was mixed though, with mortgage applications falling slightly, though the number of applications for home purchases rose slightly.

Finally, durable goods orders fell for the 2nd straight month in June.

A Public Service Announcement

Courtesy of the Group News Blog:

If You are on Twitter

Check out the hash tag #Wookieleaks.

A sample tweet:

Protocol droid fluent in 6 mil languages discharged for violating DADT. #wookieleaks

27 July 2010

I Wish That I Could Write Like Matt Taibbi

He has a post up, The Tea Party is Perverted and Irrelevant, and he notes that the tea-baggers' fascination with mythical reverse racism mirrors these sick f%$#s:
Years ago a friend of mine in the media told me a story about an experience he had covering the execution of John Wayne Gacy in Joliet, Illinois. You won’t find anyone in the world who’d have been sad to see serial child murderer in a clown suit like Gacy die, but this reporter friend of mine said the crowd outside the prison on execution night freaked him out almost as much as Gacy had. There were something like 400 people outside the gates at Joliet and there were people selling commemorative t-shirts and pounding beers and chanting (“Kill the Clown!” was a popular one) all night.

At the moment of truth the crowd cheered and my friend turned to interview a scraggly-looking twenty-something with thinning long hair whom he described as looking like a too-old version of the Todd Ianuzzi mean-teenager character in Beavis and Butthead. The guy was into his second six-pack and smiling goofily like he’d just gotten a half-price rub-n-tug from a Thai massage parlor. He says to my friend: “You’re not against capital punishment, are you?”

“I’m not against capital punishment,” my friend says. “I’m against enjoying capital punishment.”

I’m with my friend on this one. As far as I see it, there are three positions on capital punishment. There’s being against it. There’s being for it. Then there’s putting six-packs of beer in a cooler and driving to a hideous prison complex in the middle of the night with four hundred strangers to cheer like fans at a baseball game for the execution of some fat old child killer. Dude, if that’s what you call recreation, you’re either dangerously bored or seriously fucked up.
Taibbi notes that these people really get off on this, though he is rather more optimistic than I am, he sees them as "Basically see are a bunch of middle-aged white people who spent their teens listening to Eddie Murphy albums and deep down are a lot more worried about their credit card debt than they are about ACORN taking over the government," but I disagree.

I see them as a lost generation, and absent a cataclysm on par with the Axis defeats during WWII, I do not see these people returning to normalcy.

In any case, go and read the whole thing.

In the Annals of the Unsurprising

A study has shown that the Roberts Supreme Court is among the most conservative in decades.

Big surprise.

Stewart On L'Affaire Sherrod

I get this stuff delayed, no TV here, just my lapotop, but Jon Stewart has the team in the history of Television.*

*With the exception, of course, of when the late Patrick McGoohan was writing and directing The Prisoner by himself.
Yes, I know. He assembled a talented team around him. I'm just making a funny.

Wanker of the Day

Chris Dodd, who is saying that Elizabeth Warren is not confirmable as head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Now that he is not running for reelection, I guess that he's looking for a lobbying gig with the finance industry:
"She's qualified, no question about that. The question is whether she's confirmable," Dodd added. "The issue is [if] you can't confirm somebody, if you go six or seven months without someone in that job, you've got a problem."

Progressives have been strongly pressuring the Obama administration to appoint Warren ever since the Wall Street reform bill passed in Congress. Some have argued that she be given a recess appointment if a minority of senators block her confirmation. Dodd objects to that idea.

"I think that would be a huge mistake," Dodd said, in response to a question from TPMDC. "Recess appointments. No, no, no."

"I think those are, you know, Republicans used to do it, I think that's a mistake," Dodd added. "Except in the most extreme circumstances where you need someone because of an emergency pending, but as a routine matter, I think it's a fundamental mistake."
Go Cheney yourself Mr. Distinguished Gentleman from Connecticut.

Palin Endorsement Torpedoes NH Senate Candidate

New Hampshire is not a particularly liberal place, but they do place a value on a modicum of sanity, so it is no surprise that when Sarah Palin endorsed Kelly Ayotte for Senate, her numbers fell, particularly among self declared moderates.

I guess that the whole "Mama Grizzly" thing is more of an Albatross around ms Ayotte's neck.


House Calls Obama Veto Threat on JSF Engine

The House Appropriations defense subcommittee has voted to fund the F136 alternate engine for the JSF (see also here) which runs full face into the implied threat of an Obama veto (SecDef Gates has said that he would recommend a veto, but that is different from Obama himself threatening a veto).

I'm of mixed emotions on this matter.

I think that the F-35 is over priced, behind schedule, and useless for any likely future war, but I remember the history of Pratt & Whitney's F-100 before GE started competing with them with their F-110 engine, and it was not pretty, so I think that the engine is a good idea.

I think that the Pentagon is worried that any dollars spent on this will drive up the front end costs, making it more likely that the program will be canceled, and they are willing to eat the additional costs of P&W being the soul source on the back end.

Blue Dog Dem Goes Chicken for MRIs

Stupid is as stupid does
Ben Chandler of Kentucky spoke approvingly of the days when people paid their doctors with chickens, and a constituent got it on tape.

He voted against the healthcare bill, because he's a Blue Dog, and he kisses health insurer's asses.

Obviously, this is not as bad as Sue Lowden's doubling down on barter for MRIs, he was just being nostalgic, but it's likely that his Republican opponent will hammer him for it anyway, and I, for one, am glad.

We need fewer faux Dems in the Congress.

Not Enough Bullets

BP has given their CEO, Tony Hayward, his waking papers.

Only, he gets to stay on until October, at full pay, and he still has his millions in stock options, and in 2 years, he is eligible for a pension of £600,000 a year.

On the brighter side, he is literally being sent to Siberia, as, BP is, "Planning to nominate him as a non-executive director of its Russian joint venture, TNK-BP."

If you are one of the hyper-rich, you are safe from the consequences of your actions, which is why these f%$#s act the way they do.

If they win, they make a sh%$ load of money, and if they lose, they are still set for life.

One note here, he will be replaced by Bob Dudley, who is an American, which just goes to show that the BP board does not get the USA.

I think that they think that an American CEO will defuse American anger at them.

They are wrong. Americans are suckers for a British accent, we love being conned by people with British accents, just look at the success that lying charlatans like Niall Ferguson, Christopher Hitchens, and Andrew Sullivan have done selling their crap as gold.

The problem here is that something bad happened, and the more people looked at BP, they saw that it is a corrupt criminal psychopathic organization, even by the standards of the oil industry.

The Frothy Mix of Lube and Fecal Matter That Is Sometimes the Byproduct Of Anal Sex ……… *

Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum is looking at running for President in 2012.

Part of me is horrified at the prospect of his insanity and demagoguery polluting the Republican Presidential primary campaign, but another part does not believe that it's possible for the cesspool known as the Republican Party can get any more polluted, and a third part of me is eager to comment on what is surely to be a first class clown show.
Snark Missile
Time to start stockpiling snark.

*If you don't understand, you have been living under a rock, but the answer is only a Google away.
While he lived in Virginia, and had no home in Pennsylvania, which is a neat trick.

26 July 2010

Quote of the Day

Maybe if all these people dye their hair blonde and rename themselves Jon Bonet the American people will start to notice. And let’s remember- wikileaks is the real problem. Not our policies.

-- John Cole, on news that 45 civilians were killed by a coalition missile strike in Afghanistan

News of the Unsurprising

It turns out that one of the reasons that executive compensation has been skyrocketing lately is that compensation boards game the system to maximize pay for the executives, who, after all, hired them in the first place.

Imagine that.

I would remind everyone that the pot for wages are not infinite: When they get 7 or 8 figure paychecks, it means that everyone else there gets less.

I once figured that Michael Eisner's compensation at one point in the mid 1990s, $550,000,000.00,* or about $73.45 a second, would have added about $6.00/hour to the pay of every Disney employee, which in turn would likely have saved money through reduced turnover.

It doesn't matter to them though, they just want to make more than the next CEO.

*For that, he did some rather wooden dialogue with Mickey Mouse on the Wonderful World of Disney. For that kind of money, the mouse should have been able to do him like Marlon Brando did Maria Schneider in Last Tango in Paris.

Righteous Takedown

Matthew Yglesias, who goes through the archives, and discovers that Niall Ferguson said in 2003 exactly what he is condemning today in terms of stimulus and spending.

Young Matthew interleaves his 2003 with his 2010 writings in what one of his commenters calls, "The Daily Show method of deconstructing conservative shills," and it is a beautiful thing to see.

Go read.

People Who Should Have Been Drowned at Birth

Jeffrey Lord, writing, rather unsurprisingly, for The American Spectator, who claims that the lynching of her relative, Bobby Hall, because they beat him to death instead of hanging him.

So, according to the "white cracker inbred former Reagan White House political director" morons out there, it's only a lynching if it involves rope.

At least ⅓ of lynchings did not involve hangings. They involved burning, shooting, and (Yes, Virginia) beating, among other methods.

Needless to say, as a result of his contemptible and brain dead rants, he is sure to be invited onto the Sunday political talk shows.

Is the Obama Administration Sabotaging the CFPB Already?

There are increasing reports that Elizabeth Warren, largely as a result of a growing chorus among liberals to appoint her as head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, will be the nominee as the first chair.

Well, I figured that if they were forced, as it appears that they are, then they would play to lose the nomination: After all, how tough is it to get Republicans to filibuster someone who wants to work for the average American?

Well, if the following report is true, then they are also sabotaging the CFPB as an organization as we speak, having tasked a Federal Reserve Governor and former banking industry lobbyist to start staffing the organization:
However, a source tells FDL News that Geithner is working on this process with Elizabeth Duke, a member of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors. Duke is a former community banker and the past head of the American Bankers Association, a trade lobby group. She served on the ABA’s board of directors from 1999 to 2006. The ABA opposed the Dodd-Frank bill almost entirely because of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

What’s more, Duke herself specifically opposed an independent agency in July 2009 testimony, and endorsed keeping the responsibility for consumer protection in the Federal Reserve. In fact, she went further, promoting the Fed’s consumer protection prowess despite the agency having missed the housing bubble and the predatory lending that enabled it.


If the reports I’m getting are true, this is the woman dealing with staffing up and organizing the Consumer Financial Protection Agency, before the director gets a chance.

The Federal Reserve has not yet returned comment regarding Elizabeth Duke’s role.

This is crucially important. There’s a lot someone in power can do to mess with a federal agency at the outset. You can hire some staffers not committed to the agency’s goals, or give them poor working conditions, or any number of things. Then the new director comes in and is immediately faced with a turf war. If a community banker dismissive of consumer protections ends up setting the vision for the consumer protection bureau, it could slow its progress out of the gate. If the Department where the agency originates is more concerned with “extend and pretend” – letting the banks get out of trouble by earning their way past the bad loans on their books, in part through inundating consumers with higher fees on their products – then that worldview of the banks being more important than the people can get embedded into the agency.
Obviously, there are conflicting reports here, but I'm inclined to believe these reports.

Obviously, David Dayen's suggestion that Obama do the right thing and, "without delay name her to the position of interim director by hiring her at Treasury," is a good suggestion, but this assumes a level of support of the CFPB and its core mission, and I do not believe that.

First, I believe that Obama and his economic team really do buy into neoliberal idea that markets are always smarter and better than regulators, and second, I think that they honestly believe that the banking system will collapse if they generate profits by cheating ordinary Americans.

Of course I've been pessimistic about Obama for about three years, so feel free to argue that I'm not hopey changey enough.

I Disagree With Krugman

Or more accurately I think that the reasons that he gives for lockstep Republican opposition to anthropogenic climate change legislation, "the usual suspects: greed and cowardice," are incomplete.

I also think that there is a far more petty and venal reason for their opposition, which is that they don't want to admit that Al Gore was right.

About a Lot More Than the iPhone

The Library of Congress, which has the power to create exemptions to the DMCA, has has made just released very significant carve outs, though to read the New York Times, it's all about the iPhone.

You see, two of the things that are now allowed under the ruling are software to "jailbreak" the iPhone, both to allow non-Apple App Store applications, and to use the iPhone on a non AT&T networks.

Actually, this applies to all cell phones, but this is not a big deal.

What you also have is:
  • The right to rip short videos from DVDs for the educational and criticism purposes.
  • Defeating video game encryption for, "The purpose of good faith testing for, investigating, or correcting security flaws or vulnerabilities".
  • Circumventing dongles when they become obsolete or exit manufacture.
  • Allowing circumvention of technical measures on E-Books to allow them to be read aloud.
This is stunning. It is consumer friendly, good policy, and common sense.

I would never have expected any of the three things to happen with the US copyright establishment.

I must therefore assume that this was as a result of input from political appointees in the USPTO and Library of Congress, this is fairly radical for career bureaucrats, and as such we need to give the White House credit.

I will note that there is still a work around that Apple could use which would make non App Store applications illegal, by using the Sega strategy, which involved using a verification key (the letters S-E-G-A) which would load the banner message, "PRODUCED BY OR UNDER LICENSE FROM SEGA ENTERPRISES LTD," before the program loaded (thanks for the legal research from DC at SP), which made jail-breaking the console a trademark violation.

I don't see Apple doing this, I think that it would unleash regulatory and customer blow-back, but the legal precedent remains there.

Link to the official anti-circumvention rule-making.

25 July 2010

If You Believe This, I Have a Bridge to Sell You in Krasnoyarsk

Sukhoi director general Mikhail Pogosyan is saying that the PAK-FA will enter service with a customer in 2015.

Not gonna happen.

I would be surprised if the aircraft enters service before 2020, and given the pace in the West, even a 2025 service entry date would be optimistic.

Now Afghanistan Has Its Own Pentagon Papers

Courtesy of Wikileaks, which received something on the order of 90,000 US documents about Afghanistan, pretty much the whole of military logs from January 2004 until December 2009, which it then released to the New York Times, der Speigel, and The Guardian, some weeks ago, and has now made publicly available on their site.

Much like the Pentagon Papers, the revelations this far are also generally known:
These are all well known facts, though these have not been presented in US government documents before, which is also much like the Pentagon Papers.

Needless to say, the Obama White House, notwithstanding its promises for more openness has gone full throated in its denunciation of the release of data, saying that the release of the documents could, "could endanger lives and U.S. security," even though the facts are so well known that even I have blogged about most of them.

There is no danger to any lives or US security, but it does make it more difficult for Barack Obama to prosecute this deepening fiasco, he will see increasing push-back from his own party on this, and this likely seen as a serious political, threat: It is clear that Obama is terrified of being cast as a peacenik in the 2012 elections.

This is Not A Serious KC-X Bid

Stephen Trimble has their PowerPoint, (the link is no good) and it is simply not a credible proposal.

As you can see, it is a twin turbofan variant of the An-70 quad turboprop transport, and I would note that the rough/austere capabilities shown on slide 8 include a an AN-70 crashed in the snow, which is a pretty good indication of the fact that the bidders are "not ready for prime time".

Additionally, as I have noted before, a high wing aircraft is 50+ kts slower, which means that getting on station takes more time, and the advantages, austere field capability and the ability to paradrop people and cargo, are not a part of a requirement.

F-22 Infrared Video Pr0n

Not really any informative information, but the vid from Farnborough is kind of cool.

H/t The DEW Line

24 July 2010

Bad Day at the Office

But no fatalities, due to the efforts of Martin Baker Aircraft Company Ltd:

The Taiwanese Assesment of Sarah Palin

I'm not sure if it's the same folks as "Apple Daily," who did those animations of a prominent golfer who is on my list of They Who Must Not Be Named which Olberman featured prominently, but the style, as well as the cultural sensibilities, seem to be very similar.

I'm not sure if this means that they Don't understand the United States, or if it means that they Do understand the United States.

If the producers of this video do actually understand us, we are in for a world of hurt as a nation.

VIDEO: Silent Eagle Bay Watch

Click for full size
Top Bay Only in Prototype, Production will Have Bottom Bay as Well

Door Opening and Missile Extending

Launch of an AIM-120
Boeing has now successfully flown a demonstrator for its slelent eagle, the F-15E1 demonstrator.

It has both extended and retracted a missile, and made a successful launch of the AIM-120 AMRAAM.

While these are significant, it should be noted that the system is nowhere near combat ready, with the time for opening the door and extending the missile being at least 10 times what you would want in real air to air combat.

Still, the aerodynamics involved, at least when flying straight and level at around 15,000 feet.

More significant might the fact that Boeing has secured an export license of the aircraft to South Korea.

It's a low cost solution compared to either the F-35 or F-22, which is more of an indicator of just how the costs of combat aircraft have gotten completely out of control, rather than an indication of how inexpensive the F-15 is as platform.

23 July 2010

The Last of Murrow's Boys Dies

Daniel Shorr is dead at 93.

He was a hell of a reporter, and I always envied the fact that he made Nixon's enemies list.

Eric Idle Responds

It's all very good, but the best bit is at 2:25.

It's Bank Failure Friday!!!!

And here they are, ordered, and numbered for the year so far.
  1. Sterling Bank, Lantana, FL
  2. Crescent Bank and Trust Company, Jasper, GA
  3. Williamsburg First National Bank, Kingstree, SC
  4. Thunder Bank, Sylvan Grove, KS
  5. Community Security Bank, New Prague, MN
  6. SouthwestUSA Bank, Las Vegas, NV
  7. Home Valley Bank, Cave Junction, OR
Full FDIC list

Another 6 A 7 bank closing week, and we've broken 100 banks, and it is not yet August. we are certainly going to beat the tally of 140 for 2009. (Yes, I posted to soon, and needed to update)

So, here is the graph pr0n with trendline (FDIC only):

I would note that are now at the point where the utility of the least squares trendline is diminishing, but I'm keeping it here for historical purposes.

Putting Descartes Before the Horse

Not entirely safe for work
It's not entirely safe fow work, but it is very, very funny.

Me, my philosophy is driven by Marxism, not Karl, but rather the Marx brothers, most notably the brother who never appeared before the camera, though he was on stage, Gummo.

Why do I follow Gummo Marx?

Because if I didn't who else would.

I will note that I have an affection for Zeppo as well, since he was actually involved in engineering and manufacture, bring the man behind the Marman Clamp, so he is a fellow engineer, after a fashion.

H/t The Big Picture.

The Best Condom Commercial Ever

It would be great even without the school girl uniform.

I don't speak Spanish, but you don't need to speak the language to enjoy this.

Euro Banks Pass Phony Stress Tests, Just Like Our Banks Did

Just 7 banks out of 91 failed the Euro Zone stress tests, with only one German bank, which was nationalized a year ago for insolvency, and one Greek bank were deemed insufficiently capitalized.

Once again, like Geithner's banking theater, we see a phony stress test, with the results tailored to protect the banks, not inspect the banks.

22 July 2010

Credit Ratings Freak Out

One of the tidbits in the financial reform bill was a provision making the ratings agencies liable for the quality of their reports, which is a good thing, since they are nominally experts, and expert opinions of this sort are generally subject to lawsuits for fraud and incompetence.

Their protection from lawsuits had a direct correlation with the crap that Moody's Fitch's, and S&P pumped out their door over the past few years.

The thing is, however, that the ratings agencies are completely freaking out over this, and are now demanding that their ratings not be included in bond sales prospectuses:
Standard & Poor’s, Moody’s Investors Service and Fitch Ratings are all refusing to allow their ratings to be used in documentation for new bond sales, each said in statements in recent days. Each says it fears being exposed to new legal liability created by the landmark Dodd-Frank financial reform law. The new law will make ratings firms liable for the quality of their ratings decisions, effective immediately. The companies say that, until they get a better understanding of their legal exposure, they are refusing to let bond issuers use their ratings.
What they are saying here is that they are unwilling to actually rate bond issues if there is the slightest chance that their own incompetence or corruption might get them successfully sued.

Well, for most of the rest of us, if we screw up a home repair, leave a cell phone in a patient during an operation, or leave an oil plug off of a car, we are liable, and the world works.

The ratings agencies have no special right to be unaccountable.

MSNBC Last Night

We have two videos here, the first is Olbermann's special comment, which is good, but, as I said last night, not as good as he has been, and then we have Maddow's clear and convincing demonstration about how the right wing media in general, and Fox in particular, play the game of, "find the big scary black man," for political advantage.

I prefer Rachel's approach and delivery.

That being said, they are both good segments, and well worth spending the 10-15 minutes each segment runs.

Dems Cave on Anthropogenic Climate Change Bill

I guess that is no surprise that John Kerry and Harry Reid have given up on climate change legislation.

The only bright side is that it was a pretty sucky bill which would have handed the Vampire Squid* and Their Evil Minions a new market mechanism to rape.

If Obama has any balls, and he doesn't, he will get moving to have the EPA draw up regulations, ones with real teeth make the coal, oil, and gas state Congressmen sweat.

In order to capture legislators hearts and minds on this issue, you need to get them by the balls first.

*Alas, I cannot claim credit for the bon mot describing Goldman Sachs as a, "great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money." This was coined by the great Matt Taibbi, in his article on the massive criminal conspiracy investment firm, The Great American Bubble Machine.

What Digby Said

I'm jealous. Yet another better writer than me.
As a blogger Palin/Gingrich is nirvana. As an American it's the 7th circle of hell.
--Digby on the possibility of a Palin/Gingrich presidential ticket in 2012

Ethics Committee Finds Rangel Violated Ethics Rules

It's not surprising. From all that I had read, it appeared to be a slam dunk case, though Rangel is requesting a formal hearing to challenge their findings.

On the bright side, his district is safe Democratic regardless, though Adam Clayton Powell IV may defeat him in the primary in September.

Ironically, Rangel originally entered Congress by defeating Powell's dad in the primary.

Economics Update

It's jobless Thursday initial claims rose by 37,000 to a 464,000 (seasonally adjusted), worse than forecast, with the less noisy 4 week moving average rising by 1,250 to 456,000, though continuing claims fell by 223,000 to 4.49 million.

In real estate, the inventory of homes for sales has risen year over year, and existing home sales fell in June.

They will fall in July as well, since we are still seeing the tailing off of closings from contracts that were signed before the tax credit expired.

About the only thing that shows any hope in the housing market is that mortgage rates continue to fall, though they really running up against the zero bound.

How a Sewing Machine Works

I had to figure out how exactly this worked in 1982, when I borrowed my roomate's sewing maschine, which he used primarily as a coffee table, and had to thread it and get it to work so that I could make medieval garb for an SCA event.

I thought that it was neat at the time, but I had since forgotten it.

I still think tht it is neat.

Click the pic for a slightly larger image.

[on edit]

H/t Roger Ebert.

World Court Rules Kosovo Independence Not Illegal

Serbia brought the case to them, arguing that the Kosavar declaration of independence was an infringement on the sovereignty of their country, and the court rules that such a secession is not against international law:
Kosovo's declaration of independence from Serbia in 2008 did not break international law, top UN judges have ruled in a non-binding decision.

The International Court of Justice rejected Serbian claims that the move had violated its territorial integrity.

Kosovo officials said all doubt about its status had now been removed, but Serbia's president insisted Belgrade would never recognise the secession.
Kosovo has been defacto independent for almost 2 decades, so this won't make much of a difference, but I rather imagine that ¾ or the rulers of African nations are sh$#@ing bullets right now, because the boundaries of those countries are arbitrary artifacts of a horrific colonial past, and it will likely encourage more moves toward redrawing those boundaries.

In the long run, such a move will be good for the people of Africa, but to the corrupt elites who rule most of these nations,* because stoking ethnic divisions in order to create power with a divide and conquer strategy is how many of these corrupt bastards stay in power.

A change to better drawn boundaries makes this more difficult, and thus would reduce their ability to rob their countrymen blind.

*Hell, the corrupt elites rule most of the nations in the world, including ours. See our own White House and Congress.
Again, true of most nations out there too, including ours, see the Teabagger caucus in Congress.
Yes, us too, OK!

Hungary Passes The Bank Tax

Hungarian parliament has passed a law assessing a ½% levy on banks assets.

Needless to say, the banks are having a conniption over this:
Domestic and foreign banks doing business in Hungary have complained about the tax as well. Erste and Raiffeisen, two banks based in Vienna that have branches in Hungary, estimate they would have to pay €40 million and €35 million, or $52 million and $45 million, respectively.

“This tax is a quick-win measure, and only that,” said Juraj Kotian from Erste Group Bank in Vienna. “It does not provide any sustainable support for budget consolidation.”

The European Banking Federation called for a “profound modification” of the tax, saying it was a discriminative levy that would cause losses at some lenders and hamper economic growth.
This tax, which includes a levy on insurance companies as well is raising hackles for the same reason that Malaysia's imposition of capital controls was vociferously attacked during the 1997 Asian financial crisis, because the market participants are terrified at the thought that this might work.

After all, Hungary is a very small fish in the overall EU economy, so if this tax fails, the impact is minimal, but if it is successful, then you can see an explosion in such taxes, just as you saw nations ignoring the IMF and imposing their own capital controls following Malaysia's relatively mild recession and quick recovery.

If this becomes a more general practice, then it starts eating into 7 figure banker bonuses, which is not what the bankers want.

My prediction is that this will shrink the finance industry significantly in Hungary, and with the generally bloated and parasitic industry cut down to size, the Magyar republic will outperform its neighbors.

My earlier post on the attempts by the EU and IMF to browbeat the Hungarians into being the bank's bitches is here, and my advice to them remains the same: back away from joining the Euro and set about leaving the European Exchange Rate Mechanism.

21 July 2010

This is a Stupid Idea

Boeing is proposing a C-17 variant with a 4 foot narrower fuselage, the theory being that if it is too expensive to operate, this model will be a bit cheaper, though it won't be able to carry (1) Abrams tank or (2) Bradley IFVs, though it could carry Stryker class vehicles.

Unless this is some sort of idea to get some more pork through the US Congress, this is a stupid idea.

While the reduction in takeoff weight, as well as an increase in installed thrust, it will still be outperformed by modern turboprops, and in terms of economy per ton mile, low wing commercial freighters will be cheaper to operate, as well as being about 50kts faster.

It just doesn't make sense.

What BTD Says

There seems to be a push by the blue dogs and DINOS to try to make some portion of the disastrous Bush tax cut permanent.

Of course, most the Republicans won't vote for it unless it keeps tax cuts for millionaires, and so it needs liberal Democratic votes to pass.

Well, the the blogger formerly known as Armando has this right, the best course of action absent some major concessions from the Blue Dog types is to do nothing, and let taxes go up, particularly the inheritance tax, which will pay for the loss of revenues this year in about 18 months if it returns to its old levels:
But it is not for progressive Dems. In short, to hell with Baucus and Reid on this issue, Progressives can get what they want by simply making sure nothing happens. They have the bargaining power now. Time to use it.
All that needs to happen for the taxes to be repealed is to do nothing.

Doubtless, the Obama administration will twist arms over this, since he promised people making less than $¼ million a year that he would not raise taxes, but he also promised to support a public option, to get us out of Iraq, repeal Don't Ask Don't Tell, and have a serious look at torture and other war crimes by Bush and His Evil Minions.

I don't see any reason for liberals in Congress to go out of their way to support Obama on bad policy promises if he won't fight on good policy promises.

How Does Shep Smith Keep His Job?

I'm not suggesting that he is a bad journalist, but rather that is s frequently a square peg in Fox News's round holes, as was the case over the past few days when he pointedly did not become a part of the baying pack of Foxholes.

I imagine that he must feel some days a lot like Oskar Schindler must have felt.*

In any case, here is a video of Mr. Smith saying that, "we did not and do not trust the source," referring to professional bigot Andrew Breitbart.

H/t TPM.

*Yes, I know, Godwin's Law.

Cry Me a F%$#ing River

The presidents of 2 of the big banks, Goldman Sachs's Lloyd Blankfein, and Jamie Dimon at JP Morgan Chase were not invited to the signing of the financial reform bill, even though other bankers,chiefs of, "Citigroup, Bank of America, Barclays, and Morgan Stanley."

They are reportedly fuming over this.

Considering what you folks have gotten from the taxpayers, and your vociferous opposition to any substantive reform, Mssrs. Blankfein and Diamon should count themselves lucky.

If I were President, I would have taken my inspiration from Vlad Tepes in dealing with these ingrates.

And Now the Truth Comes Out

And the Obama administration is now falling all over itself to apologize to Shirley Sherrod.

Not panicking in the first place, and getting the facts right would have been better, but I think that what happened is that they realize that they are now looking like a bunch of bed-wetting cowards.

The problem is not that they are looking like a bunch of bed-wetting cowards, it is that they are a bunch of bed-wetting cowards.

Not only is it bad policy, but it is bad politics, because, as Josh Marshall notes in his "Bitch slap theory of electoral politics, because it makes the voters think that, "Someone who can't or won't defend themselves certainly isn't someone you can depend upon to defend you."

I'm waiting for the the response from Stewart, Letterman, and Leno.

Olbermann Was Good This Evening, But He Was Not At the Top of His Form

I think that invoking L'Affaire Dreyfus was a bit over the top.

His refrain on Obama is that his administration is ill serving him, which IMNSHO, is profoundly is wrong.

As I am wont to say, the Cossacks work for the Czar.

Still, Keith's advice to stop making nice is the right one, and his invoking the line from The American President, you know, the one that goes, "I was so busy keeping my job I forgot to do my job," was a good bit.

But it doesn't get my blood pumping like the older stuff, and I'm not sure if he's changed, or I have, or maybe the times have changed. I don't know which.

Cueue Up Your VCR*

Olbermann is taking time off from his vacation tonight to do a special comment on the Breitbart/Sherrod affair.

It's lost some of his stuff lately, but we'll see how he handles this.

*Or Tivo, but I am a Luddite.

OK, This is Jim Crow Bigotry in Israel

No other way to explain this.

An Arab man in Israel, Sabbar Kashur, hooked with a unnamed Jewish woman in Israel, and told her that he was Jewish in a successful attempt get into her pants.

When she discovered that he had lied to her about his religion, she filed rape charges, and today, he was convicted of rape by deception and sentenced to 30 months in prison.

Men lie to get into women's pants:
  • I'll respect you in the morning.
  • I've never been married.
  • I'm a stockbroker.
  • This car is a loaner, my Porsche is in the shop.
  • It's just heat rash.
Certainly, I do not think that what Kashur did is right, but it is clearly not criminal either.

I cannot see any reason behind the fact that the Israeli prosecutors and the Israeli judiciary pursued this as a criminal matter beyond bigotry.

Getting TV Via Broadband

Anyone know of good sites out there for getting the networks (including cable)?

In particular, I want to find a better source for MSNBC, since Justin.tv seems to be erratic on the best days, and I want my dose of Olbermann and Maddow.

20 July 2010

The Kimberly Process is a Bad Joke

The process, intended to prevent the sales of diamonds that are mined by entities, largely guerrilla armies, who systematically violate human rights, better known as "Blood Diamonds."

Well, the Kimberly Process has now allowed Zimbabwe to sell diamonds from its Marange diamond fields.

Not only has the diamond mining there been rife with allegations of human rights abuses, included killings and forced labor, but the proceeds go directly to support the cronies in Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF:
Zimbabwe has been denied formal approval for its Marange diamond exports since evidence began to emerge around 2008 that the military had overrun the area to take control of the fields and organize smuggling of diamonds across the nearby border with Mozambique. Human rights activists say they suspect that profits are being used to finance the political and military elite around President Robert Mugabe.
Seriously, any certification of diamonds by the Kimberly Process, or the World Diamond Council, are simply not credible.

Housing Starts Fell in June

Though requests for building permits rose.

I don't put much faith in the latter data point, that is builders whistling in the park.

Getting a permit is a fairly cheap way top hedge your bets, if things turn around, breaking ground is a real investment.

Too much shadow inventory, and too much buying forward from the now expired tax credits.

Such a Good Idea For Obama and Clinton to Back Blanche Lincoln

The latest poll has Blanche Lincoln down 25 points to Republican John Boozma, but not to worry, Lincoln's campaign says that their internal numbers have her down by only 9 points:
You know it's hard out there for an incumbent Senator when she has to stave off bad news by releasing an internal poll showing her down by nine to her Republican challenger. But that's exactly what Sen. Blanche Lincon (D-AR) has done, attempting to respond to yesterday's poll showing her down by 25 points to Rep. John Boozman (R) with numbers of her own showing her losing by a lot -- but not as much.

According to Lincoln's numbers, Boozeman leads the race 45-36 with 18% undecided. A third party candidate draws 6% of the vote. The survey of 700 voters was conducted June 22-24 and has a margin of error of 3.7%.
The rule of thumb is that undecideds break for the challenger by at least 2:1, which gives us a 57-42 blowout, and the the average other polling shows Lincoln down by over 20 points.

This was foreseeable, but you know how it is, Washington insider and incumbent protection Über Alles.

Yet another reason not to give to the DSCC, they will doubtless waste money on her, and that is throwing good money after bad.

Curry Will Save the World

Case in point, it reduced greenhouse emissions from the digestive tracts of ruminants, like cows and sheep:
Curry spices could hold the key to reducing the enormous greenhouse gas emissions given off by grazing animals such as sheep, cows and goats, scientists have claimed.

Research carried out at Newcastle University has found that coriander and turmeric – spices traditionally used to flavour curries – can reduce by up to 40 per cent the amount of methane that is produced by bacteria in a sheep's stomach and then emitted into the atmosphere when the animal burps.

Working rather like an anti-biotic, the spices were found to kill the methane-producing "bad" bacteria in the animal's gut while allowing the "good" bacteria to flourish. The findings are part of an ongoing study led by Dr Abdul Shakoor Chaudhry at Newcastle University.
It also means that when you have lamb or beef curry, it's already marinated.


When people talk about DFH* bloggers hating on the Obama they seem to think that its all about Obama being a pragmatist. It isn't about his being a pragmatist.

It's about his, and his people being abject cowards, who soil themselves when someone on the right wing shouts out a lie.

Case in point, Shirley Sherrod, USDA Georgia Director of Rural Development, who was just fired for a yet another deceptively edited video from professional bigot Andrew Breitbart.

You see, she gave a talk about how when she was working helping farmers, when the first white farmer came to her for help, the thought crossed her mind was not to help, because they were white, but she realized almost as soon as the thought hit her that it was wrong.

Well after excerpting 30 seconds out of a 45+ minute speech (see below), so that Fox News could go "Oh noes! N*****s are trying to take over America."

The response of the Secretary of Agriculture was to fire her before any real facts came out.

I am with what Digby said:
"Her decision 'rightly or wrongly" will be called into question" because some right wing hitman put out an edited tape that makes her sound as if her point is the opposite of what it is, so she had to be fired.

They are telling wingnuts everywhere that all they have to do is gin up a phony controversy (especially about a black person, apparently) and the administration will fire them so as not to shake confidence that they are "fair service providers."

This is sheer cowardice.
This is what pisses people off.

Video after break

*Dirty F%$#ing Hippies.

Bloody Morons

So, the Senate, now that Byrd's temporary replacement has been sworn in, but they got it wrong.

They extended benefits through November. You should have extended it only to October, and then jam up the Republicans when they vote against it just before the election.

I understand that Congressmen don't like to be in DC in October of an election year, but being there to vote for an unemployment extension is the best campaigning that you can do.

19 July 2010

US Broadband is Now So Bad……

That even in the phony metrics commissioned by the US incumbent carriers, the United States is no longer in first place:
The United States has lost the top spot in Nokia Siemens Networks' annual broadband development index, the Connectivity Scorecard, to Sweden.

The Connectivity Scorecard is, as Stacey Higginbotham reports for GigaOM, a favorite measure of the telecom industry, since it paints the America in a particularly favorable light.
It's gotten so bad that even when using the bogus metrics favored our the telco incumbents who took billions in government dollars and gave us nothing, we still cannot win.

It's time to stop bribing the monopolists, and start actually instituting real regulations that require real performance.

Economics Update

Well, if consumers are 70% of the economy, the fact that the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan consumer confidence index numbers fell to a nearly 1 year low.

This, along with a falling consumer price index, which indicates that a deflationary spiral may be nearer than we would like, are not good news.

Additionally, notwithstanding heroic/stupid efforts to prop up the housing bubble, home builder confidence has hit a 15 month low.

On the brighter side, Moody's survey of commercial real estate prices is rose in May, and the National Association for Business Economics' latest survey of employers is showing that employers are looking to hire more than they were a year ago, though admittedly, that is not saying much.

I Really Cannot Wrap My Head Around this

As much as I rag on the Washington Post, there is some reporting of real value amongst the dross, including Dana Priest, who, along with William M. Arkin, have published an extensive investigative report on the burgeoning world of the American security-industrial complex:
These are some of the findings of a two-year investigation by The Washington Post that discovered what amounts to an alternative geography of the United States, a Top Secret America hidden from public view and lacking in thorough oversight. After nine years of unprecedented spending and growth, the result is that the system put in place to keep the United States safe is so massive that its effectiveness is impossible to determine.
Basically it points to a picture of a state security apparatus run amuck, where there are so many players, generating so much analysis, from so many sources, that it is impossible to separate the wheat from the chaff, or as Glenn Greenwald notes:
So it isn't that we keep sacrificing our privacy to an always-growing National Security State in exchange for greater security. The opposite is true: we keep sacrificing our privacy to the always-growing National Security State in exchange for less security.
(emphasis original)

More than ever, we need to ensrhine into the constitution something analogous to the the Swedish concept of Offentlighetsprincipen (openness), because right now all that our paranoia is generating is a massive trail of profiteers/contractors without generating much in the way of security.

It should be noted that reigning in this will not be easy. You can be sure that when the budgets are in jeopardy, the various wings of the state security apparatus will come up with scary stories to subvert any effort at real reform, and the current administration is terrified of being labeled, "soft on fillintheblank," so they do not have the inclination to even bend the curve.

I'll be going through the story, and the supporting material, to see if I have anything to add.