Monday, March 30, 2009

The Time Is Now!
The US is going to try to lead.

BONN, Germany (Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama's administration promised to push for a new United Nations climate treaty on Sunday but said Washington had no magic wand and that all countries had to help.

"The United States is going to be powerfully and fully engaged," U.S. special envoy for climate change Todd Stern said at the opening of 175-nation U.N. talks in Bonn, the first since Obama took office in January speaking of a "planet in peril."

"But we are all going to have to do this together, we don't have a magic wand," Stern told a news conference. The March 29-April 8 meeting is working on a U.N. climate deal meant to be agreed in Copenhagen in December 2009.

In a speech, Stern won two rounds of applause, each about 20 seconds long, in stark contrast to the frosty reception given to President George W. Bush's envoys who were often accused of inaction and were even booed at U.N. talks in Bali in 2007.

My confidence is not high that we will be able to do much. The US senate is a very conservative body. The republicans are not the only problem. They know what they are against. They are against clean air, clean water, and a healthy environment. They feel corporate profits are more important than you life. But we also have flea infested blue dog democrats led by the vermin infested Evan Bayh. He insists on being part of the problem. He is an ass hole.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

It Is A Start
Cars are going to be more fuel efficient.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. government on Friday imposed the first increase in mileage standards for passenger cars and boosted the floor for sport utilities and pickups beginning with model year 2011 vehicles.

The modest increase of less than 1 mile per gallon for the fleet over current targets for the fleet represents an abbreviated approach by the Obama administration as it confronts industry distress and pressure from California and other states to set their own goals.

"These standards are important steps in the nation's quest to achieve energy independence," said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, who added that work on future mileage programs must take into account the health of U.S. manufacturers.

We have not upped the fuel millage standard since the seventies. That is pretty lame.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Melville Shelter

26 Melville Nauheim Shelter, originally uploaded by Cyclopshiker.

A hiker was found dead in Melville Shelter on the Long Trail.

WOODFORD — Police said the body of a missing hiker was recovered at a shelter on the Long Trail Thursday, after family members reported him missing Tuesday.

State Police Lt. Reginald Trayahsaid policeand other rescue personnel located the body of Billy J. Thomas, 41, of Niverville, N.Y., at the Melville Shelter in Woodford.

Thomas was considered an experienced hiker and was familiar with the Woodford area, but had undisclosed medical issues.

Trayah said search teams were inserted on the Long Trail near the Little Pond area in Woodford early Thursday morning.

The teams made their way down the Long Trail to the Melville Shelter where Thomas was found deceased. A preliminary investigation yielded no cause of death, he said.

My condolences to his friends and family.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Getting Dryer
The global climate crisis is making it rain less.

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Global warming is more than a third to blame for a major drop in rainfall that includes a decade-long drought in Australia and a lengthy dry spell in the United States, a scientist said on Wednesday.

Peter Baines of Melbourne University in Australia analyzed global rainfall observations, sea surface temperature data as well as a reconstruction of how the atmosphere has behaved over the past 50 years to reveal rainfall winners and losers.

What he found was an underlying trend where rainfall over the past 15 years or so has been steadily decreasing, with global warming 37 percent responsible for the drop.

"The 37 percent is probably going to increase if global warming continues," Baines told Reuters from Perth in Western Australia, where he presented his findings at a major climate change conference.

Baines' analysis revealed four regions where rainfall has been declining. The affected areas were the continental United States, southeastern Australia, a large region of equatorial Africa and the Altiplano in South America.

It is hard to grow food in drought conditions.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Sad To Hear
A hiker died in Colorado.
A hiker fell and died on Lookout Mountain in Jefferson County around 4 p.m., authorities said Monday.The hiker was with a group of people when he fell, deputies said. They were not in technical climbing areas. Deputies did not immediately know how the man fell.

My condoleces to his friends and family.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Not Surprising
City dwellers emit less carbon than country folk.

"The real climate change culprits are not the cities themselves but the high consumption lifestyles of people living across these wealthy countries," said report author David Dodman.

He analyzed the per capita emissions from major cities in Europe, Asia, North America and South America.

According to the report, London emitted 44.3 million tons of CO2 in 2006, or 8 percent of the national total.

With a population of around 7 million, per capita emissions in London were only 6.18 tons per person, or 55 percent of the UK's 2004 average of 11.19 tons.

In the United States, New York City had emissions of 58.3 million tons in 2005, or around 7.1 tons per person. U.S. per capita levels were more than triple at 23.92 tons in 2004.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Fire Them Already!
I understand we need a banking system but we do not need the banks we have or the bankers running them.Read this from John Cole.
The Illness- reckless and irresponsible betting led to huge losses
The Diagnosis- Insufficient gambling.
The Cure- a Trillion dollar stack of chips provided by the house.
The Prognosis- We are so screwed.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

This Is Cool!

It may even get me to buy a cell phone! I do not have to answer it, if I do not want to. Watch what sixth sense can do. The demonstration starts about 3 minutes into the talk. The future is here.
Via Libby Spencer.
Organic Garden
Say it with me "organic." It is amazing how many articals about the new White House garden do not mention organic.
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Want to know where the presidential produce comes from?

Take a walk past the White House. The answer may be planted right in front of you.

First lady Michelle Obama helped break ground on a new White House organic "kitchen garden" Friday. It will be the first working garden at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. since Eleanor Roosevelt planted a so-called "victory garden" at the height of World War II.

This time, however, the enemy is obesity. The first family is hoping to send a clear message to a fast food-driven nation that often seems to be losing the battle of the bulge.

"We're just hoping that a lot of families look at us and say this is something that they can do and talk to their own kids about and think a little bit critically about the food choices that they make," said Marian Robinson, the president's mother-in-law.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Fire Them!
Banking is necessary, the bankers that failed are not. Nobel winner Paul Krugman:
I’ll leave to others the question of who knew or should have known that the bonus firestorm was coming; but it’s part of a pattern. At every stage, Geithner et al have made it clear that they still have faith in the people who created the financial crisis — that they believe that all we have is a liquidity crisis that can be undone with a bit of financial engineering, that “governments do a bad job of running banks” (as opposed, presumably, to the wonderful job the private bankers have done), that financial bailouts and guarantees should come with no strings attached.


The DFH Were Right

The Dirty Fucking Hippies are still right.
Trail Fest
For the Pacific Crest Trail.

(SALEM, Ore.) - For anyone who has ever spent time on, or wondered what it would be like to set foot on the Pacific Crest Trail, this event is for you.

Pacific Crest Trail Fest 2009 takes place March 27th through 29th at the Doubletree Hotel at Lloyd Center in Portland.

The annual Trail Fest arrives in Portland at the end of March. It hasn't been held here since 2005 and it won't be back in P-Town till 2013.

The main day to attend for workshops and presentations will be Saturday, however the whole event is well worth checking out.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

So True

The Daily Show With Jon StewartM - Th 11p / 10c
The New White Face of Crime
Daily Show Full EpisodesImportant Things w/ Demetri MartinPolitical Humor
It reminds me of this Frank Zappa comment," I'm not black, but there are a lot of times I wish I could say I'm not white"
Green New Deal
The UN environmental agency is proposing a green new deal.

OSLO (Reuters) - Investments of $750 billion could create a "Green New Deal" to revive the world economy and protect the environment, perhaps aided by a tax on oil, the head of the U.N. environment agency said on Thursday.

Achim Steiner said spending should focus on five environmental sectors including improved energy efficiency for buildings and solar or wind power to create jobs, curb poverty and fight climate change.

"The opportunity must not be lost," Steiner, head of the U.N. Environment Program (UNEP), told Reuters of a UNEP study that will be put to world leaders meeting in London on April 2 to work out how to spur the ailing economy.

The UNEP report said investments of one percent of global gross domestic product, or about $750 billion, could bankroll a "Global Green New Deal" inspired by the "New Deal" of U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt that helped end the depression of the 1930s.[...]

"If, for argument's sake, you were to put a five-year levy in OECD countries of $5 a barrel, you would generate $100 billion per annum. It translates into roughly 3 cents per liter," he said.

Or less than 12 cents a gallon. But I'm sure tax payers will pay billions in bonuses to failed bankers before that will happen.

Economy Down, Fishing Up
More people are going fishing.

MEREDITH, New Hampshire (Reuters) – From his wooden fishing shack on Lake

Winnipesaukee's thinning skin of ice, Mike MacDonald doesn't need to think twice about why more Americans are going "fishin'" in the deepening U.S. recession.

"This costs $6 to get a bucket of bait and it will last the whole day," he said, skinning a fish next to a hole drilled into the frozen New Hampshire lake. "Compare that to skiing -- one day of skiing would cost $80 just for the lift ticket."

As Americans forgo expensive vacations, costly dinners and shopping mall splurges, many are opting instead for the quiet simplicity of fishing, according to the sport fishing industry and reports from bait shops and fishermen.

From the icy north to fly-fishing streams in Texas, angling is on the rise. For families, it's an inexpensive outing. Those with a knack for it can trim their grocery bills. And for newly unemployed, it's something to do.

"I'm seeing a lot more fishermen down here," said John Miller, owner of Bob's Sport & Tackle in Katonah, New York. "With the economy the way it is, people are getting laid off from work and don't want to sit at home and do nothing.

"The cheaper alternative," he said, "is to go fishing."

Hard times have had this effect on Americans before. In the last U.S. recession, from 2001 to 2002, spending on fishing rods and reels rose 12 percent to $343 million, according to the National Sporting Goods Association, a trade body that measures how much people spend on sporting goods.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

No Class
George W Bush was the worst President in my life time and probably the worst ever. I have however lost no respect for him. I have never respected him. The more I see of him, the less respect I have for republicans. This man was obviously not fit to be president. He had run the two companies his daddy gave him into the ground. He could not find oil in the middle east for christ sakes. He can not even speak the language. At least the asshole, Reagan, could do that.
George W. Bush, on his yet-to-be written memoir: "I'm going to put people in my place, so when the history of this administration is written at least there's an authoritarian voice saying exactly what happened."

Idiots everyone of them.

Dogs Have Fleas and Other Vermin
Evan Bayh a senator and media whore has started a blue dog caucus in the senate. I hope Obama takes Steve Benen's advice.
The answer, then, is for President Obama to readjust his approach to negotiating. The president seems to believe in honesty -- work hard to create sound ideas, and then encourage reasonable lawmakers to vote for them. What nonsense. Obama apparently needs to high-ball every proposal so Bayh and the Blue Dogs can water them down to "reasonable" levels and feel good about themselves.

Sad To Hear
A hiker falls to her death in Oregon.

The Hood River Sheriff’s Office said Rhonda Kristen Casto fell from the trail at about 6 p.m. A man who was with her reported the accident in a call to emergency dispatchers.

Rescue teams who reached the area about a mile south of the parking lot at the Eagle Creek Trailhead at about 7 p.m. found the Casto’s body down an embankment about 100 feet from the trail. Rescuers said Monday afternoon’s sleet and hail made the trail wet, which probably led to her fall.

My condolences to her friends and family.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The government guide lines on nutrition allow for this.

Here is a daily diet that meets those nutrition guidelines: Breakfast: 1 cup Fruit Loops; 1 cup skim milk; 1 package M&M milk chocolate candies; fiber and vitamin supplements. Lunch: Grilled cheddar cheeseburger. Dinner: 3 slices pepperoni pizza, with a 16-ounce soda and 1 serving Archway sugar cookies.

This helps explain why 12-year-old schoolchildren develop thickening of their carotid arteries to the brain, and 80 percent of 20-year-old soldiers, dying in combat, are found to have coronary artery heart disease.

That is what we get for letting industry set our nutritional guide lines.

Via La Vida Lacavore

Sesame Street Explains Bernie Madoff

Via TexBetsy at Mock, Paper, Scissors.
More Nude Hiking
The New York Times has an article about the nude hikers in Switzerland. It is the best article I have seen on the phenomenon.
Suppose families with children were out hiking and encountered a group of nude hikers, officials asked. Moreover, the name of Appenzell was popping up with troublesome frequency in the blogs and chat rooms of nude hiking enthusiasts.

I am not opposed to nude hiking but there are some uptight people who are. Some of those uptighters in this country are prosecutors who want to get elected. If you hike nude in this country, it is possible to be charged with a serious crime. An overzealous prosecutor could charge you as a child sex predator if a child were to see you. So be careful out there if you hike nude. Carry something in a handy spot so you can cover your "naughty bits" in case other hikers come by, especially children.

That said, read the whole article.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Stick A Spoon In It
It is done. Mark Bittman on pork roast. It sounds good to me.
I found this out 40 years ago (gulp) while following a recipe I found in the Time-Life cooking series, a wonderful cooking school in print, at least of the era. I shoved the narrow end of a wooden spoon through the center of a pork roast horizontally, filled the cavity it created with a combination of apricots and prunes, and roasted it.

Good Stimulus For The Pacific Crest Trail
Some stimulus funds to purchase land for a reroute near Agua Dulce. The trail is confusing in that area. I ended up bushwhacking after loosing the trail.
The trail, which stretches more than 2,600 miles from the California/Mexico border north into Washington, runs along the road between Vasquez Rocks and Sierra Highway, said Liz Bergeron, executive director of the Pacific Crest Trail Association.

The half-million dollars in the spending bill was secured by the United States Forest Service and will be allocated to the trail association to buy land.

Moving the trail off the road has so far taken about a decade, Bergeron said. Five parcels of land have been purchased already, and about six remain.

"We have made excellent progress," she said Friday.

I just have to mention local republican congressman
Howard "Buck" McKeon, a sack of shit, who did not vote for the bill, is taking credit for the money.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Sly and The Family Stone

I Want To Take You Higher. Happy Birthday Sly!
Who Knew?
The US Treasury is going to issue new National Sites Quarters in 2010. Vermont has nominated the Appalachian Trail for theirs. I bet Maryland will pick Fort McHenry.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Pack It Gourmet
Just found this sight that has a lot of food for your back country needs. I have not used their products but backpacker magazine gives them a good review. I like that you can buy individual condiment packs from them. So if you are planing a back country trip check them out.
Victory For Cape Wind!
OK, they still need a federal permit. But it seems the rich and powerful have lost their NIMBY.

BOSTON (Reuters) - A $1 billion proposal to build the first massive U.S. offshore wind-power farm has moved a step closer to overcoming permit requirements in Massachusetts, where it faces opposition from some influential residents.

Cape Wind Associates LLC, a privately funded Boston-based energy company, has proposed constructing 130 wind turbines over 24 square miles (62 sq km) in Nantucket Sound, within view of the wealthy Cape Cod resort region of Massachusetts.

The project, designed to power about 400,000 homes, won tentative approval by Massachusetts authorities for a certificate that combines nine state and local permits needed to build the turbines.

Cape Wind said in a statement on Friday that Thursday's ruling by the Massachusetts Energy Facilities Siting Board represented a "major victory."

Friday, March 13, 2009

Legalize It
Those crazy Californians are thinking about legalizing recreational marijuana.
Could marijuana be the answer to the economic misery facing California? Democratic State Assembly member Tom Ammiano thinks so. Ammiano introduced legislation last month that would legalize pot and allow the state to regulate and tax its sale - a move that could mean billions for the cash-strapped state. Pot is, after all, California's biggest cash crop, responsible for $14 billion in annual sales, dwarfing the state's second largest agricultural commodity - milk and cream - which brings in $7.3 billion annually, according to the most recent USDA statistics. The state's tax collectors estimate the bill would bring in about $1.3 billion in much-needed revenue a year, offsetting some of the billions in service cuts and spending reductions outlined in the recently approved state budget.

Also, New Jersey is allowing a medical marijuana bill to move forward, with provisions for growing and selling. Minnesota is also considering a bill that would allow the use and growing of medical marijuana but no sales.

They See Money

Let the insurance companies compete against the government for our health care dollars.
I Take Offense
At the headline of this article. "US energy future hits a snag in rural Pennsylvania" The article is about gas production fowling the ground water. The future of energy is wind, solar, geothermal, and other renewable energy sources. Gas, oil and coal are the past. We need to stop using them. Especially if they are destroying the ground water. We can live without gas. We can not live without water. A resource that is getting scarce

Ron and Jean Carter suspected there was a leak when the water supply to their trailer home started to taste and smell bad after Cabot started drilling 200 yards (meters) away.

Not wanting to risk the health of a new grandchild living with them, the 70-year-old retirees scraped together $6,500 for a water purification system.

"It was kind of funny that the water was good in July but after they drilled, it wasn't," said Ron Carter.

Tim and Debbie Maye, a truck driver and post office worker who have three teenage children, have been cooking and drinking only bottled water since their well water turned brown in November after Cabot started drilling.

But she can't afford bottled water for her animals. Her cats have been losing fur and projectile vomiting because they lick drips from the spigot that carries water from their well. Her three horses -- one of which is losing its hair -- drink as much as 50 gallons a day.

"I tell my husband, 'I'm going out to poison the horses,'" she said.

The drilling in Dimock has released methane into the water supply, a fact acknowledged by Cabot and state regulators.

Some homeowners said they were able to ignite their well water. In one case, a gas buildup blew the cap off a well.

"The well was capped with six to eight inches of concrete," said Norma Fiorentino, 66. "The explosion broke it into three big pieces and blew a huge hole in the ground."

This type of gas harvesting known as fracking, must stop. Everywhere it is done the water becomes fouled. The corporate assholes put all kinds of nasty chemicals in the ground. Which chemicals you ask? Well, they will not tell us it is proprietary. We can not tell you because our competitors might just find out. Or most likely it is such a nasty chemical brew that it is illegal to put them in the ground.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Oceans Are A Threat
California is in danger from sea level rising.

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - California's farms and cities may be left high and dry by prolonged drought, but climate change is expected to leave much of the state's fabled shoreline awash in excess seawater before too long.

Nearly 500,000 people and $100 billion worth of property in coastal California are at risk of severe flooding from rising sea levels this century unless new safeguards are put in place, researchers reported on Wednesday.

With global warming expected to lift ocean levels along the California shore by 1 to 1.4 meters (1 to 1.4 yards) before the year 2100, large tracts of the picturesque Pacific coast also will be lost to accelerated erosion, their study found.

The report suggests that the heightened flood risk could be minimized by investing about $14 billion in a system of newly built or upgraded sea walls, levees and offshore breakwaters to reinforce some 1,100 miles of coast.

The article mentions a three to four foot rise in sea levels. It could be far higher. It is funny you never see this type of article about Florida. It is going to be an intersting couple of decades.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Not Good
The US is off to the driest start since record keeping began in 1985.
Health Care
Is what we need. Not necessarily health insurance. Anyway I like this graph from maha.
Ezra Klein talks about “zombie lies that will not die.” He links to a ridiculous Bloomberg article by Amity Shlaes, who raises the dreadful specter of “government-run health care,” which I assume is a system in which heartless government bureaucrats decide what medical treatments you will receive. This would be a huge departure from our current system, in which heartless insurance company employees decide what medical treatments you will receive.

The whole post is worth a read.
Diaper Dandy Goes Into A Rage
Republican senator David Vitter, best known for paying prostitutes to put diapers on him, goes into a rage at the airport.

Cave Home

Cave Home, originally uploaded by docealfajor.

Curt and Deborah Sleeper get to stay in their cave home

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Is the Bush family friend Osama Bin Laden still alive? It is his birthday. I am sure the Bush family is celebrating.
Full Moon!

Full moon rising - 4/6, originally uploaded by jpstanley.

Full Moon!

Disney Going Green

Disney recycle bag, originally uploaded by filthyfox.

Disney is going to lower it's carbon foot print.

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The Walt Disney Co said on Monday that it planned to cut carbon emissions from fuels by half by 2012, and ultimately to achieve net zero direct greenhouse gas emissions at its office and retail complexes, theme parks and cruise lines.

Disney also set a long-term goal to cut to zero the amount of waste it sends to landfills -- which totaled nearly 300,000 tons in 2006, much of it from construction, through diverting some to recycling centers, composting and buying more post-consumer recycled materials.

The company pledged to reduce water use as well as emissions and waste associated with the manufacture, transport, use and disposal of Disney products.

Eventually, they want to get to zero carbon emissions. This is good for the environmental movement. It will sink into children without them haveing to learn about it. Disney will just tout their greeness and kids will think that is the way it should be.

Where Has All The Water Gone?
The Global Climate Crisis has the American west looking for water.
A decade into its worst drought in a hundred years Australia is a lesson of what the American West could become.

Bush fires are killing people and obliterating towns. Rice exports collapsed last year and the wheat crop was halved two years running. Water rationing is part of daily life.

"Think of that as California's future," said Heather Cooley of California water think tank the Pacific Institute.

Water raised leafy green Los Angeles from the desert and filled arid valleys with the nation's largest fruit and vegetable crop. Each time more water was needed, another megaproject was built, from dams of the major rivers to a canal stretching much of the length of the state.

But those methods are near their end. There is very little water left untapped and global warming, the gradual increase of temperature as carbon dioxide and other gases retain more of the sun's heat, has created new uncertainties.

I think the article is a little optimistic in some of it's assumptions.

The Sierras will have 25 percent to 40 percent less snow by 2050 as rising global concentrations of greenhouses gases raise the temperature, California's water department forecasts.

The last three years were 60% of normal. 2005 was above average and 04 was a low snow year. It seems we are already close to the 40% less snow. Also, Nobel Prize winner and Energy Secretary Steven Chu predicts a 90% loss of snow pack. It is time for mandatory gray water system on all new housing.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Growing Power

GrowingPower 2008 022, originally uploaded by ausradesigns.

Will Allen has an amazing urban farm movement.

At the northern outskirts of Milwaukee, in a neighborhood of boxy post-WWII homes near the sprawling Park Lawn housing project, stand 14 greenhouses arrayed on two acres of land. This is Growing Power, the only land within the Milwaukee city limits zoned as farmland.

Founded by MacArthur Foundation “genius” fellow Will Allen, Growing Power is an active farm producing tons of food each year, a food distribution hub, and a training center. It’s also the home base for an expanding network of similar community food centers, including a Chicago branch run by Allen’s daughter, Erika. Growing Power is in what Allen calls a “food desert,” a part of the city devoid of full-service grocery stores but lined with fast-food joints, liquor stores, and convenience stores selling mostly soda and sweets. Growing Power is an oasis in that desert.[...]

Since 1993, Allen has focused on developing Growing Power’s urban agriculture project, which grows vegetables and fruit in its greenhouses, raises goats, ducks, bees, turkeys, and—in an aquaponics system designed by Allen—tilapia and Great Lakes Perch—altogether, 159 varieties of food.

Growing Power also has a 40-acre rural farm in Merton, 45 minutes outside Milwaukee, with five acres devoted to intensive vegetable growing and the balance used for sustainably grown hays, grasses, and legumes which provide food for the urban farm’s livestock.

Allen has taken the knowledge he gained growing up on the farm and supplemented it with the latest in sustainable techniques and his own experimentation.

Growing Power composts more than 6 million pounds of food waste a year, including the farm’s own waste, material from local food distributors, spent grain from a local brewery, and the grounds from a local coffee shop. Allen counts as part of his livestock the red wiggler worms that turn that waste into “Milwaukee Black Gold” worm castings.

Via La Vida Locavore.

Picture is of the vertical fish/watercress aquaculture. Pretty amazing! More pics here.

Good to Hear
Religious groups are loosing support.
The percentage. of people who call themselves in some way Christian has dropped more than 11% in a generation. The faithful have scattered out of their traditional bases: The Bible Belt is less Baptist. The Rust Belt is less Catholic. And everywhere, more people are exploring spiritual frontiers — or falling off the faith map completely.[...]
• So many Americans claim no religion at all (15%, up from 8% in 1990), that this category now outranks every other major U.S. religious group except Catholics and Baptists. In a nation that has long been mostly Christian, "the challenge to Christianity … does not come from other religions but from a rejection of all forms of organized religion," the report concludes.

I bet the number of people who claim to be christian is much higher than the actual number of christians. I know quite a few people who say they are catholic that do not attend church and are not raising their children in the church. In another generation far more people are not only going to be non christian but admit they are.
Via Chris Bowers who looks at the voting patterns of non christians. Looks good for reality based people.
The Times Are Changing
Severe drought in Texas.

PANDORA, Texas (Reuters) - Frates Seeligson recalls when his ranch last saw rain: September of last year.

That was around the time he took on an extra 200 cows to help a farmer whose fields were ravaged by Hurricane Ike.

Talk about a perfect storm. The worst drought on record in this parched part of south-central Texas means his withered land can hardly support his own dwindling herds.

Better get used to it.

According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, drought conditions there are now listed as "exceptional" -- its harshest rating -- highlighted on the map with a dark blood-red color.

It is the only part of the country that currently has such a rating, making it even more severe than California, where a drought emergency has been declared. Seeligson's two ranches just to the east of San Antonio are both in this red zone.

The National Weather Service says the area has just been through its driest 18-month period from September of 2007 to February 2009, and the short-term outlook is bleak.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Sign Of The Times
700 people apply for a janitors job in Ohio.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Media Tax Fraud
Jameson Foser from Media Matters

When is a tax cut for 98 percent of taxpayers portrayed as a tax increase? When some of the small handful of people whose taxes will go up happen to control the nation's news media.

Last week, President Obama unveiled a budget outline that extends the Bush tax cuts for all but the top two percent of taxpayers and makes permanent a tax credit of up to $800 for low- and middle-income workers that was included in the recent stimulus package, among other tax cuts. [...]

Except it is not a tax increase. It is what is in the current law. If Obama and congress do nothing, the taxes go up.

If the expiration, on schedule, of tax cuts that were always scheduled to expire is described as a policy of raising taxes, that makes a mockery of the entire tax policy debate of the past decade. It rigs tax debates in favor of Republicans, who find it easier to argue for tax cuts for the wealthy if they can argue that the cuts won't cost very much -- by making them "temporary" -- but who then get to argue that the scheduled expiration that they included in order to make the cuts look affordable would constitute a tax increase. The GOP gets to have it both ways, describing tax cuts as temporary when it helps them, and pretending they were intended to be permanent when it helps them. It's no great surprise Republicans want to have it both ways -- but that doesn't mean the media should go along.

Republicans are not honest. Do not trust them with anything.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Economy Going Off A Cliff

No end is sight.

Nobel Prize winner Paul Krugman.
What’s more, officials seem to believe that getting toxic waste properly priced would cure the ills of all our major financial institutions. Earlier this week, Ben Bernanke, the Federal Reserve chairman, was asked about the problem of “zombies” — financial institutions that are effectively bankrupt but are being kept alive by government aid. “I don’t know of any large zombie institutions in the U.S. financial system,” he declared, and went on to specifically deny that A.I.G. — A.I.G.! — is a zombie.[...]

So why has this zombie idea — it keeps being killed, but it keeps coming back — taken such a powerful grip? The answer, I fear, is that officials still aren’t willing to face the facts. They don’t want to face up to the dire state of major financial institutions because it’s very hard to rescue an essentially insolvent bank without, at least temporarily, taking it over. And temporary nationalization is still, apparently, considered unthinkable.

But this refusal to face the facts means, in practice, an absence of action. And I share the president’s fears: inaction could result in an economy that sputters along, not for months or years, but for a decade or more.

Bold is mine. The Reagan/Bush philosophy of the market is always right has failed. It is time to nationalize the banks.
Faster And Faster
Scientists are moving the date arctic sea ice will be gone up. Just two years ago the consensus was arctic sea ice would last until 2050. Last year the consensus was 2030. Now...

OTTAWA (Reuters) - The Arctic is warming up so quickly that the region's sea ice cover in summer could vanish as early as 2013, decades earlier than some had predicted, a leading polar expert said on Thursday.

Warwick Vincent, director of the Center for Northern Studies at Laval University in Quebec, said recent data on the ice cover "appear to be tracking the most pessimistic of the models", which call for an ice free summer in 2013.

The year "2013 is starting to look as though it is a lot more reasonable as a prediction. But each year we've been wrong -- each year we're finding that it's a little bit faster than expected," he told Reuters.

It is going to be an interesting couple of decades.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

The Market Is Ineficcient
The New York Times has an article claiming or at least trying to disparage the safety of organic products. The problem is not organics which have an extra layer of inspection over non organic foods. The problem is for profit companies inspecting them. It should be done by the government.

Arthur Harvey, a Maine blueberry farmer who does organic inspections, said agents have an incentive to approve companies that are paying them.

“Certifiers have a considerable financial interest in keeping their clients going,” he said.

If they can not get one company to certify it they will look around for another. No doubt the Bush administration knew this when they set it up. This helps all the companies with absolutely no morals. Got salmonella in your peanut butter, no problem, find another company to certify it. The government could just shut it down but private companies do not have the power. Greed is bad!

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Blue Crab

Maryland Blue Crab, originally uploaded by Lostwave.

They have finally stopped harvesting crabs in the winter in Virginia.

REEDVILLE, Virginia (Reuters) - It doesn't look like a disaster area.

Crab boats dart back and forth on this inlet of the Chesapeake Bay as they have for generations. On the shore, million-dollar vacation homes catch the morning sun.

But watermen aren't pulling blue crabs out of the Bay this winter. After years of decline, the U.S. Commerce Department declared the fishery a federal disaster last September and Maryland and Virginia shut it down until spring.

It was a symbolic as well as an economic blow for the men who harvest the region's defining culinary treat.

Fisherman are complaining, but they took to many. The winter fishery should have been closed years ago because of declining stock. Virginia has been a very poor steward of the Chesapeake Bay. Virginians were illigally fishing in Maryland waters in 1692 and have not realy stopped screwing up the bat since.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Economic News
From the good doctor. Who points to this Krugman post.

And the insistence on offering the same plan over and over again, with only cosmetic changes, is itself deeply disturbing. Does Treasury not realize that all these proposals amount to the same thing? Or does it realize that, but hope that the rest of us won’t notice? That is, are they stupid, or do they think we’re stupid?

I don’t know which possibility is worse.

The good doctor says,"I think they are stupid"

Also, ABC wants to misinform.

This is stunningly wrong.

The ABC article is based on the premise that an individual's entire income is taxed at the same rate. If that were the case, it would be possible for a family earning $249,999 to have a higher after-tax income than a family earning $255,000, because the family earning $249,999 would pay a lower tax rate.

But that isn't actually how income tax works.

In reality, a family earning $255,000 will pay the higher tax rate only on its last $5,001 in income; the first $249,999 will continue to be taxed at the old rate. So intentionally lowering your income from $255,000 to $249,999 is counter-productive; it will result in a lower after-tax income.

The people ABC quoted don't seem to understand that. Worse, ABC doesn't seem to understand it, either.

Again from the good doctor. "Some times I can't tell if media outlets are playing stupid or if they are stupid."

Jessica Biel

Jessica Biel Portrait, originally uploaded by El Pumpitan.

Today Jessica is 27. Happy Birthday! In order to find this ellegant picture, I had to look at this, this, this, this, and this. The things I do for you my dear readers.


beet it, originally uploaded by Darwin Bell.

As Mark Bittman says " I love beets." Usually, I just throw a a little butter on roasted beats. But tonight, I am going to try this.

A bit more adventuresome is a dressing of walnuts, garlic and fresh orange juice. Note that all of these have some bitterness or acidity, which counter the sweetness of beets beautifully. To tame the garlic, I cook it quickly, along with the walnuts; toasting always makes nuts nuttier. This makes the purée smoother tasting, as well.

Eat well, my friends.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Free Speech
Ezra Klein
The nice thing about America is that the First Amendment guarantees everyone a voice. But only money assures you volume.
But my blog goes up to eleven!
Alvin Youngblood Hart

Today is Alvin's 46th birthday. Happy Birthday!
Palm Springs Aerial Tramway

, originally uploaded by moominsean.

A hiker is missing near the tramway.

Mountain rescue crews are attempting this evening to rescue a hiker lost near the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway in an area with four feet of snow, officials say.

The hiker called Riverside County sheriff's dispatch at about 5 p.m. and said he was lost in the snow near the tramway, according to Investigator Juan Zamora. The phone went dead while he was on the line with dispatch, Zamora said.

A helicopter was dispatched but it is unclear whether the hiker was found. Let us hope so. The Tramway is dangerous because it allows people to get into extreme conditions with a minimum of work.

Update: Found.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Fire More People
The good doctor points to this article about AIG and how poorly it was run. I want more people fired.

At its peak, the A.I.G. credit-default business had a “notional value” of $450 billion, and as recently as September, it was still over $300 billion. (Notional value is the amount A.I.G. would owe if every one of its bets went to zero.) And unlike most Wall Street firms, it didn’t hedge its credit-default swaps; it bore the risk, which is what insurance companies do.

It’s not as if this was some Enron-esque secret, either. Everybody knew the capital requirements were being gamed, including the regulators. Indeed, A.I.G. openly labeled that part of the business as “regulatory capital.” That is how they, and their customers, thought of it.

There’s more, believe it or not. A.I.G. sold something called 2a-7 puts, which allowed money market funds to invest in risky bonds even though they are supposed to be holding only the safest commercial paper. How could they do this? A.I.G. agreed to buy back the bonds if they went bad. (Incredibly, the Securities and Exchange Commission went along with this.) A.I.G. had a securities lending program, in which it would lend securities to investors, like short-sellers, in return for cash collateral. What did it do with the money it received? Incredibly, it bought mortgage-backed securities. When the firms wanted their collateral back, it had sunk in value, thanks to A.I.G.’s foolish investment strategy. The practice has cost A.I.G. — oops, I mean American taxpayers — billions.

I realize some of the management has been fired. Anyone that worked in credit default swaps should be fired and they should be stopped. Anyone who signed off on credit default swaps should be fired. The same with 2a-7 puts. If these things are still going on they need to fire management again and the board of directors again. Also, now that we have spent 150 billion and are heading into the quarter trillion range all stock holders, bond holders, anyone with a financial interset need to be wiped out. They gambled on a poorly managed company and lost.