31 October 2013

Hardcore Trick our Treating

Did I mention that it is F#@&ing raining?
The joys of children are without number.

Posted via mobile.

Trick or Treating With the Kids

Natalie is a dryad, and Charlie is an Angler Fish.

Posted via mobile.

30 October 2013

Today is a Day of Mourning Observed Around the World by Heterosexual Women

Because, you see, 19 years (!) ago, I plighted Sharon's troth, and as such am no longer available to the general populace.

Let the lamentations commence.


Posted via mobile.

29 October 2013

The NSA is the Inmate Running the Asylum

Eugene Robinson says that the, "NSA, in its quest for omniscience beyond anything Orwell could have imagined, is simply out of control."

He's right, and he is right when he says that their, "This is not just a massive invasion of privacy that the people of France, Spain and other countries understandably resent. It’s also a mistake."

The problem here is that the NSA, By Design wants it all. It is their organizational imperative.

This is why Obama's fondness for "bringing in stakeholders" has failed.

They are not a reasonable stakeholder whose needs to be heard, they are akin to the barbarian warriors hired by the Romans toward the end of their empire.

They are a tool that must be kept on a tight leash.

It is also clear that the NSA is pushing back aqainst Obama, because even as they officially deny that Obama was notified, anonymous sources are saying that their wiretapping were authorized:
The White House and State Department signed off on surveillance targeting phone conversations of friendly foreign leaders, current and former U.S. intelligence officials said Monday, pushing back against assertions that President Obama and his aides were unaware of the high-level eavesdropping.

Professional staff members at the National Security Agency and other U.S. intelligence agencies are angry, these officials say, believing the president has cast them adrift as he tries to distance himself from the disclosures by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden that have strained ties with close allies.
Think about this: Is there anyone in the NSA who would even talk to a reporter without assuming that the NSA was listening?

This is the NSA sending a not so subtle message, "Don't f%$# with us," and if be it's not NSA director General Keith Alexander, he gave tacit approval to the leak.

Linkage


And here is about the clearest description of a synchronized (Synchromesh®) manual transmission that I have yet seen.

28 October 2013

Economists Finally Get a Clue

I called for this at the start of the financial crisis, and finally many economists have begun to realize that there is such a thing as inflation is too low:
Inflation is widely reviled as a kind of tax on modern life, but as Federal Reserve policy makers prepare to meet this week, there is growing concern inside and outside the Fed that inflation is not rising fast enough.

Some economists say more inflation is just what the American economy needs to escape from a half-decade of sluggish growth and high unemployment.

The Fed has worked for decades to suppress inflation, but economists, including Janet Yellen, President Obama’s nominee to lead the Fed starting next year, have long argued that a little inflation is particularly valuable when the economy is weak. Rising prices help companies increase profits; rising wages help borrowers repay debts. Inflation also encourages people and businesses to borrow money and spend it more quickly.

The school board in Anchorage, Alaska, for example, is counting on inflation to keep a lid on teachers’ wages. Retailers including Costco and Walmart are hoping for higher inflation to increase profits. The federal government expects inflation to ease the burden of its debts. Yet by one measure, inflation rose at an annual pace of 1.2 percent in August, just above the lowest pace on record.

“Weighed against the political, social and economic risks of continued slow growth after a once-in-a-century financial crisis, a sustained burst of moderate inflation is not something to worry about,” Kenneth S. Rogoff, a Harvard economist, wrote recently. “It should be embraced.”
Low inflation favors the rentiers over the producers.

Of course, the economists, are talking about maybe moving the targeting from 2% to 3%, and I think that we should target 6%, but I'm an engineer, not an economist, dammit!*

*I LOVE IT when I get to go all Doctor McCoy!!!

What, You Mean that Gazillionaires Won't Leave New York City for Orlando, Florida for Lower Taxes

So not surprised.

Studies show that the idle rich do not relocate over their tax levels:
It is not news that New York’s political and media elites worship the extremely rich. You can see this when in a tough economy the New York Times publishes a “Wealth” section fronted by a how-to piece on buying Irish castles. You can see it when you hear the city’s billionaire mayor insisting that critics of wealth inequality should be quiet because they interfere with his dream to “get all the Russian billionaires to move here.” And you can see it when you behold Gov. Andrew Cuomo, D-N.Y., slamming a modest initiative to slightly increase taxes on the Big Apple’s millionaires.

Again, none of this unto itself is all that newsy because it isn’t all that new. New York’s “let them eat cake” culture has been around for a long time in a city where almost half of all residents live below or near the poverty line. However, what is news is the extent to which this wealth-obsessed environment helps strengthen the mythologies that distort economic reality.

Cuomo’s attack, in particular, perfectly illustrates this trend. Fresh off raising millions from wealthy donors for his political front group, the governor slammed Democratic mayoral nominee Bill de Blasio’s tax hike proposal, claiming it will drive Cuomo’s beloved millionaires out of the state.

“What they fear is that they’re in a place where the taxes will continually go up and there will be a ceiling and they’ll say, ‘I’m going to Florida,’” Cuomo said of the rich. “I believe that.”

Before you join Cuomo in weeping for the Manhattan fat cats supposedly forced to flee from economic persecution, remember that his story is a fantastical fact-free fable — one that conveniently serves the political interests of the aristocracy, but has nothing to do with reality.
Rich people leaving New Jersey and California actually fell after taxes rose, and the decrease in millionaires in New York happened because their wages fell after the financial crisis.

Holy Sh%$

The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster is now officially way worse than Chernobyl, because 3 of the reactor cores burned through the bottom of their containments:
There are three major problems at Fukushima: (1) Three reactor cores are missing; (2) Radiated water has been leaking from the plant in mass quantities for 2.5 years; and (3) Eleven thousand spent nuclear fuel rods, perhaps the most dangerous things ever created by humans, are stored at the plant and need to be removed, 1,533 of those are in a very precarious and dangerous position. Each of these three could result in dramatic radiation events, unlike any radiation exposure humans have ever experienced. We’ll discuss them in order, saving the most dangerous for last.

Missing reactor cores: Since the accident at Fukushima on March 11, 2011, three reactor cores have gone missing. There was an unprecedented three reactor ‘melt-down.’ These melted cores, called corium lavas, are thought to have passed through the basements of reactor buildings 1, 2 and 3, and to be somewhere in the ground underneath.

Harvey Wasserman, who has been working on nuclear energy issues for over 40 years, tells us that during those four decades no one ever talked about the possibility of a multiple meltdown, but that is what occurred at Fukushima.

It is an unprecedented situation to not know where these cores are. TEPCO is pouring water where they think the cores are, but they are not sure. There are occasional steam eruptions coming from the grounds of the reactors, so the cores are thought to still be hot.

The concern is that the corium lavas will enter or may have already entered the aquifer below the plant. That would contaminate a much larger area with radioactive elements. Some suggest that it would require the area surrounding Tokyo, 40 million people, to be evacuated. Another concern is that if the corium lavas enter the aquifer, they could create a "super-heated pressurized steam reaction beneath a layer of caprock causing a major 'hydrovolcanic' explosion."
I knew that there had been multiple meltdowns, but I though that the core damage was contained.

I did not realize that we had the f%$#ing China Syndrome times 3.

Linkage




Best NSA Joke so far.

27 October 2013

A Key Part of the "Grand Bargain" Does not Wporkl

It turns out that upping the medicare eligibility age does not save a meaningful amount of money:
Raising the Medicare eligibility age to 67 saves far less than previously projected, a revelation that makes the policy far less attractive in upcoming deficit reduction negotiations in Congress.

The long-debated policy now cuts the deficit by just $19 billion over a decade, according to a report released Thursday by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. Last year, the same policy -- of gradually lifting the eligibility age by two months every year until it reached 67 -- was found by the CBO to save $113 billion over the same time period.

The idea has been floated since 2011, when President Barack Obama and Speaker John Boehner nearly agreed to a broad debt deal that adopted it. But while conservatives still support the policy, along with deeper long-term cuts to retirement benefit programs, the White House and top Democrats have since cooled to it.

"This would have been a tough sell when it raised $100 billion. It's hard to imagine making such a drastic change now that we know it saves far less," said a senior Senate Democratic aide, in response to the CBO report.
Of course, this is not really about is an attempt to incrementally destroy the program.

As the age goes up, the people get progressively sicker, and the per capita cost goes up, and the population served shrinks, and the program enters a political and fiscal death spiral.

This is the real goal of people who really want this.

26 October 2013

Rule 34, No Exceptions!!



Ummmm.....Ewwwwwww!

Yes, you can actually buy this on Kindle at Amazon.

25 October 2013

Linkage


H/t PP at the Stellar Parthenon BBS for passing along this cartoon.

24 October 2013

Jon Stewart is the Best Financial Journalist on TV Today

He covers the recent JP Morgan settlement with the department of justice, and absolutely demolishes all the sycophantic business "journalists" who blather about how they see it as tantamount to extortion.

In the space of about 5 minutes, he explains the principles involved, and just how full of sh%$ the cheerleaders for the banksters are.

Economists are Douchebags

A business school professor at Wharton has found that not only are economists more selfish and more likely to cheat, but that even just the study of economics and business has a criminogenic effect.

The quick bullet points are:
  • Less charitable giving
  • More deception for personal gain
  • Greater acceptance of greed
  • Less concern for fairness
He wonders if there is a problem with how we teach economics.

Gee,  you think?

Go read the rest.

H/t Salon.

Religion as an Excuse for Mindless Hate

A South Carolina soup kitchen has refused to allow atheists to volunteer:
A group called the Upstate Atheists in Spartanburg, South Carolina were rebuffed in their efforts to volunteer at the Spartanburg Soup Kitchen.

“I told [the Spartanburg Soup Kitchen] we wouldn’t wear our T-shirts. We wouldn’t tell anyone who we are with. We just want to help out,” Upstate Atheist president Eve Brannon told the Spartanburg Herald-Jounal. “And they told us that we were not allowed.”

Lou Landrum, the Soup Kitchen’s executive director, told the same paper that allowing the atheists to work at the facility would be a “disservice to this community.”

“We stand on the principles of God,” she said. “Do [atheists] think that our guests are so ignorant that they don’t know what an atheist is? Why are they targeting us? They don’t give any money. I wouldn’t want their money.”
I have repeatedly quoted Bishop Shelby Spong saying too many people use religion as a, "Veil under which anger can be legitimatized."

Ms. Landrum who cannot see beyond religion as a club to justify her hate while maintaining her thoroughly undeserved sense of moral superiority.

The Daily Show Draws Blood

They decided to cover voter suppression efforts in North Carolina, and the find a precinct chairman who is an unrepentant racist who admits that the new laws are purely for partisan political advantage.

Perhaps, we should say former precinct chairman.

He got canned the day after the broadcast.

I guess that saying that some of the people who were complaining about the barriers to voting were, "lazy black people that wants the government to give them everything," was not good for his future in politics.

It's arguable that the above quote was not the most offensive thing that he said.



Even better, this happened just before the DoJ suit against the voter suppression laws is to go to trial.

23 October 2013

Today's Must Read

Felix Salmon has a nice survey on how the proposed new process for sovereign debt restructuring that the IMF is considering represents a major shift:
………The paper raised quite a few eyebrows, since it marked the first time in a decade that the IMF has talked in public about changing the international financial architecture around debt restructuring. Its last attempt to tackle the subject, known as the Sovereign Debt Restructuring Mechanism, or SDRM, died ignominiously, bereft of any US support.

………

Lipton, in his speech, said that he was worried that “official resources, including from the Fund, would be used to pay out other creditors”. He also said that “in cases where the need for debt reduction may be unclear at the outset, in our view the key is to keep creditors on board while the debtor’s adjustment program is given a chance to work”.

.
This idea is very close to the “standstill” that was originally proposed as part of the SDRM; another name for it is “default”. And as veteran sovereign debt advisor Rafael Molina patiently explained later on in the panel, sovereign debt managers will, as a rule, do anything to avoid defaulting on their debt. As a result, tensions are naturally very high whenever this idea is brought up, despite the upbeat spin that the IMF puts on it in its paper:
The primary objective of creditor bail-in would be designed to ensure that creditors would not exit during the period while the Fund is providing financial assistance. This would also give more time for the Fund to determine whether the problem is one of liquidity or solvency. Accordingly, the measures would typically involve a rescheduling of debt, rather than the type of debt stock reduction that is normally required in circumstances where the debt is judged to be unsustainable. Providing the member with a more comfortable debt profile would also have the additional benefit of enhancing market confidence in the feasibility of the member’s adjustment efforts, thereby reducing the risk that the debt will, in fact, become unsustainable.
Translating into English, the IMF here is essentially saying this: “Sometimes we don’t know whether a country’s debt is too high. We need time to work that out. But if we’re lending, during that period, then while we’re deciding whether or not the country’s debt is sustainable, we’re going to force it to default on its private debt.”
Read the rest.

Rule 34, No Exceptions………

The Hottest Rabbis of 2013

That which is seen cannot be unseen.

To my older, hairier, brother, Stephen, who saw fit to post this, Your Mother was a Hamster, and Your Father Smelled of Elderberries!!!!

22 October 2013

Signs of the Apocalypse, Richard Cohen Edition

I've been rather hard on him.

I've called him a sociopath, a racist, an idiot, and a bad writer.

I stand by these assessments, but in the same way that a stopped clock is right twice a day, he can't get everything wrong every time.

On the matter of Edward Snowden, he has admitted that he was wrong, and that Snowden is a whistle-blower, not a traitor.
What are we to make of Edward Snowden? I know what I once made of him. He was no real whistleblower, I wrote, but “ridiculously cinematic” and “narcissistic” as well. As time has proved, my judgments were just plain wrong. Whatever Snowden is, he is curiously modest and has bent over backward to ensure that the information he has divulged has done as little damage as possible. As a “traitor,” he lacks the requisite intent and menace.

But traitor is what Snowden has been roundly called. Harry Reid: “I think Snowden is a traitor.” John Boehner: “He’s a traitor.” Rep. Peter King: “This guy is a traitor; he’s a defector.” And Dick Cheney not only denounced Snowden as a “traitor” but also suggested that he might have shared information with the Chinese. This innuendo, as with Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction, is more proof of Cheney’s unerring determination to be cosmically wrong.

The early denunciations of Snowden now seem both over the top and beside the point. If he is a traitor, then which side did he betray and to whom does he now owe allegiance? Benedict Arnold, America’s most famous traitor, sold out to the British during the Revolutionary War and wound up a general in King George III’s army. Snowden seems to have sold out to no one. In fact, a knowledgeable source says that Snowden has not even sold his life story and has rebuffed offers of cash for interviews. Maybe his most un-American act is passing up a chance at easy money. Someone ought to look into this.

………

Snowden is one of those people for whom the conjunction “and” is apt. Normally, I prefer the more emphatic “but” so I could say “Snowden did some good but he did a greater amount of damage.” Trouble is, I’m not sure of that. I am sure, though, that he has instigated a worthwhile debate. I am sure that police powers granted the government will be abused over time and that Snowden is an authentic whistleblower, appalled at what he saw on his computer screen and wishing, like Longfellow’s Paul Revere, to tell “every Middlesex village and farm” what our intelligence agencies were doing. Who do they think they are, Google?

But (and?) I am at a loss to say what should be done with Snowden. He broke the law, this is true. He has been chary with his information, but he cannot know all its ramifications and, anyway, the government can’t allow anyone to decide for himself what should be revealed. That, too, is true. So Snowden is, to my mind, a bit like John Brown, the zealot who intensely felt the inhumanity of slavery and broke the law in an attempt to end the practice. My analogy is not neat — Brown killed some people — but you get the point. I suppose Snowden needs to be punished but not as a traitor. He may have been technically disloyal to America but not, after some reflection, to American values.
Stopped clock, I guess.

I'll need to wait for a 2nd non wanktastic article before I claim that we are seeing an actual learning curve here.

OK, I'm Really Beginning to Like Pope Francis a Lot

He is now talking about how excessive focus on doctrine is a "serious illness in the Churgh":
Speaking at daily Mass last Thursday, Pope Francis warned Christians against turning their faith into a rigid ideology.

“The faith passes, so to speak, through a distiller and becomes ideology,” he said, according to Radio Vatican. “And ideology does not beckon [people]. In ideologies there is not Jesus: in his tenderness, his love, his meekness. And ideologies are rigid, always. Of every sign: rigid.

“And when a Christian becomes a disciple of the ideology, he has lost the faith: he is no longer a disciple of Jesus, he is a disciple of this attitude of thought… For this reason Jesus said to them: ‘You have taken away the key of knowledge.’ The knowledge of Jesus is transformed into an ideological and also moralistic knowledge, because these close the door with many requirements.”
I'm wondering where this is all going to lead.

Notwithstanding the cries of outrage sure to arise from conservatives, I see this as an unalloyed good.

21 October 2013

Still at the Wedding

And seeing a how, based on two decades of observations about how Sharon* is affected by weddings, my guess its that I will more make our to my trusty laptop tonight.

So have some pictures of our kitten, Destructo, age 8 months, I a picnic basket.

Why he went in, I have no idea, but he did NOT want to leave.



* Love of my life, light of the  cosmos, SHE WHO MUST BE 
OBEYED, my wife.

Posted via mobile.

20 October 2013

Light Posting for the Next Few Days

My nephew is getting married tomorrow, in Baltimore, so I'm kind of busy.

19 October 2013

I Hope that He Has Some ITEOD Arrangements

Edward Snowden has told the The New York Times that he no longer has copies of any of his files:
Edward J. Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor, said in an extensive interview this month that he did not take any secret N.S.A. documents with him to Russia when he fled there in June, assuring that Russian intelligence officials could not get access to them.

Mr. Snowden said he gave all of the classified documents he had obtained to journalists he met in Hong Kong, before flying to Moscow, and did not keep any copies for himself. He did not take the files to Russia “because it wouldn’t serve the public interest,” he said.

“What would be the unique value of personally carrying another copy of the materials onward?” he added.

He also asserted that he was able to protect the documents from China’s spies because he was familiar with that nation’s intelligence abilities, saying that as an N.S.A. contractor he had targeted Chinese operations and had taught a course on Chinese cybercounterintelligence.

“There’s a zero percent chance the Russians or Chinese have received any documents,” he said.

American intelligence officials have expressed grave concern that the files might have fallen into the hands of foreign intelligence services, but Mr. Snowden said he believed that the N.S.A. knew he had not cooperated with the Russians or the Chinese. He said he was publicly revealing that he no longer had any agency documents to explain why he was confident that Russia had not gained access to them. He had been reluctant to disclose that information previously, he said, for fear of exposing the journalists to greater scrutiny.
I hope that he has made some sort of In The Event of Death (ITEOD) arrangements, because, this otherwise means that if the US and UK state security apparatus can get to Glenn Greenwald and documentarian Laura Poitras, particularly with him leaving the Guardian to move to a new journalistic endeavor funded by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar.

There are a lot of people in our government who are determined to destroy all of them, and to the degree that they are in a fledgling organization, this makes the task easier, because potential blow-back is less.

18 October 2013

Hey, I Used to Work There!

BAE's vehicle manufacturing plant in Sealy, Texas is sbeing closed next year:
The U.S. subsidiary of BAE Systems Plc plans to close a military vehicle plant in Texas next year and lay off about 325 employees, the company announced.

The facility, located about 50 miles outside Houston in Sealy, since 1990 has produced tactical wheeled vehicles for the U.S. military, including blast-resistant trucks known as Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles, or MRAPs, for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the Humvee replacement Joint Light Tactical Vehicle, or JLTV.

The London-based company said industry contraction drove the decision to shutter the site by June 2014.
When I worked there in the early 1900s, it was owned by Stewart & Stevenson, and was the center of the $1.4 billion contract for the 2½ and 5 ton military trucks.

The writing for this plant was on the wall when Oshkosh Corp. managed to decode a Sealy's sub-par drawing package and win the latest FMTV Contract.

Fabulous!

The New Jersey Supreme Court has ruled that gay marriages can go forward on Monday.

Petition to Arrest Teabagger Reps is Both Stupid and Unconstitutional………

It's been floating around the internet for a few days, and it is wrong on every level.

First, criminal charging your opponents for being your opponents is wrong.

We have hundreds of years of history to document that.

And then there is Congressional immunity, which guaranteed freedom from criminal or civil liability for official actions of Congress critters, no matter how mind boggling stupid those actions are.

Done with rant.

Missing the Point

Julia Ryan at The Atlantic observes that when correcting for demographics, public schools outperform private schools:
Sarah Theule Lubienski didn’t set out to compare public schools and private schools. A professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, she was studying math instructional techniques when she discovered something surprising: Private schools—long assumed to be educationally superior—were underperforming public schools.

She called her husband, Christopher A. Lubienski, also a professor at the university. “I said, ‘This is a really weird thing,’ and I checked it and double checked it,” she remembers. The couple decided to take on a project that would ultimately disprove decades of assumptions about private and public education.

Studying the National Assessment of Educational Progress and the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, they have found that, when controlling for demographic factors, public schools are doing a better job academically than private schools. It seems that private school students have higher scores because they come from more affluent backgrounds, not because the schools they attend are better educational institutions. They write about these conclusions—and explain how they came to them—in their book, The Public School Advantage: Why Public Schools Outperform Private Schools. Here’s an interview with the Lubienskis about their work, edited and condensed for clarity and length.
This is not a surprise, but it does not matter for two reasons:
  • The quality of an educational experience is largely determined by the abilities of the students.
  • It creates social connections which serve to preserve a de facto aristocracy.
The biggest determinant of school quality has always been the "quality", for lack of a better term, of the students.

To the degree that you put good students together in a self contained environment, their educational experience will likely improve, though this will be at the expense of those students, frequently poorer and more heavily pigmented, on the outside.

As to social connections, just look at Harvard, whose undergraduate program is widely considered to be one of the most overrated in academe,* they remain very exclusive.
The reason for this is the quality of the student body, and the social connections that are created by going there. 

It seems like half of the Wall Street banksters went to Harvard, for example.

Nothing binds like those old school ties.

*So says my Radcliffe (Harvard) graduate, former college president, step-mom.

Anecdotal Economic Data Point of the Day

In the past 2 days, since the 'Phants caved on the government shutdown, I have gotten more calls from recruiters than I did in the past 6 months.

It seems that there was a bit of pent up demand.


Posted via mobile.

17 October 2013

No Initial Jobless Claims for You!

There are numbers, but the government shutdown makes them totally unreliable.

Have a funny:

Linkage


Tom Hiddleston (Loki from the Avengers movie) does Loki (from the Avengers movie) as played by Owen Wilson.

16 October 2013

Why the US Healthcare System Sucks Wet Farts from Dead Pigeons,

How many of you have an Albuterol inhaler for Asthma?

It's great, isn't it?

The drug is out of patent, so it's cheap, and it works.

It's not like a big pharma would lobby to get the FDA to ban the cheap inhalers because of their miniscule use of CFCs, and then wrap new propellants in a patent web and jack up the price, right?

Oh, silly me, that IS what they did:
The arsenal of medicines in the Hayeses’ kitchen helps explain why. Pulmicort, a steroid inhaler, generally retails for over $175 in the United States, while pharmacists in Britain buy the identical product for about $20 and dispense it free of charge to asthma patients. Albuterol, one of the oldest asthma medicines, typically costs $50 to $100 per inhaler in the United States, but it was less than $15 a decade ago, before it was repatented.

“The one that really blew my mind was the nasal spray,” said Robin Levi, Hannah and Abby’s mother, referring to her $80 co-payment for Rhinocort Aqua, a prescription drug that was selling for more than $250 a month in Oakland pharmacies last year but costs under $7 in Europe, where it is available over the counter.

………

Unlike other countries, where the government directly or indirectly sets an allowed national wholesale price for each drug, the United States leaves prices to market competition among pharmaceutical companies, including generic drug makers. But competition is often a mirage in today’s health care arena — a surprising number of lifesaving drugs are made by only one manufacturer — and businesses often successfully blunt market forces.

Asthma inhalers, for example, are protected by strings of patents — for pumps, delivery systems and production processes — that are hard to skirt to make generic alternatives, even when the medicines they contain are old, as they almost all are.

………

But in the United States, even people with insurance coverage struggle. Lisa Solod, 57, a freelance writer in Georgia, uses her inhaler once a day, instead of twice, as usually prescribed, since her insurance does not cover her asthma medicines. John Aravosis, 49, a political blogger in Washington, buys a few Advair inhalers at $45 each during vacations in Paris, since his insurance caps prescription coverage at $1,500 per year. Sharon Bondroff, 68, an antiques dealer in Maine on Medicare, scrounges samples of Advair from local doctors. Ms. Bondroff remembers a time, not so long ago, when inhalers “were really cheap.” The sticker shock for asthma patients began several years back when the federal government announced that it would require manufacturers of spray products to remove chlorofluorocarbon propellants because they harmed the environment. That meant new inhaler designs. And new patents. And skyrocketing prices.

“That decision bumped out the generics,” said Dr. Peter Norman, a pharmaceutical consultant based in Britain who specializes in respiratory drugs. “Suddenly sales of the branded products went right back up, and since then it has not been a very competitive market.”

The chlorofluorocarbon ban even eliminated Primatene Mist inhalers, a cheap over-the-counter spray of epinephrine that had many unpleasant side effects but was at least an effective remedy for those who could not afford prescription treatments.

………

A result is that there are no generic asthma inhalers available in the United States. But they are available in Europe, where health regulators have been more flexible about mixing drugs and devices and where courts have been quicker to overturn drug patent protection.

“The high prices in the U.S. are because the F.D.A. has set the bar so high that there is no clear pathway for generics,” said Lisa Urquhart of EvaluatePharma, a consulting firm based in London that provides drug and biotech analysis. “I’m sure the brands are thrilled.”

………
And here is the money quote:
This year the price of Advair dropped 10 percent in France, but in pharmacies in the Bronx, it has doubled in the last two years.
For what it is worth this is not technically a failure of the free market.

These companies' profit margins are being directly supported by the state. That is the nature of patents and other exclusive licenses that we grant, particularly in the drug industry.

Then we allow for these exclusive licenses to be extended ad infinitum through evergreening.

The problem is that we as a society allow people to patent nothing at all, and sometimes we grant exclusive right to people who didn't invent anything at all, as in the case of colchicine, where exclusivity was granted for a study of the drug which consisted primarily of a survey of the historical literature.

The price of colcicine went from $0.09 a pill to $5.00 a pill.

The Can is Now Officially Kicked Down the Road

The House just passed the continuing resolution and the debt ceiling extension.

So, now we revisit the shut down in January, and the debt ceiling in February.

Woo hoo.

That being said, pretty much everyone but the Teabaggers are acknowledging that this is a big loss for said Teabaggers.

15 October 2013

Sauce for the Gander

The reactionary wing of the Catholic Church, whose refrain under the reactionaries John Paul II and Benedict XVI was to say that obedience to the Pope is not optional, is now complaining that Pope Francis is considering how they feel about what he says:
Rattled by Pope Francis’s admonishment to Catholics not to be “obsessed” by doctrine, his stated reluctance to judge gay people and his apparent willingness to engage just about anyone — including atheists — many conservative Catholics areRattled by Pope Francis’s admonishment to Catholics not to be “obsessed” by doctrine, his stated reluctance to judge gay people and his apparent willingness to engage just about anyone — including atheists — many conservative Catholics are doing what only recently seemed unthinkable:

They are openly questioning the pope.

Concern among traditionalists began building soon after Francis was elected this spring. Almost immediately, the new pope told non-Catholic and atheist journalists he would bless them silently out of respect. Soon after, he eschewed Vatican practice and included women in a foot-washing ceremony.

The wary traditionalists became critical when, in an interview a few weeks ago, Francis said Catholics shouldn’t be “obsessed” with imposing doctrines, including on gay marriage and abortion. Then earlier this month, Francis told an atheist journalist that people should follow good and fight evil as they “conceive” of them. These remarks followed an interview with journalists this summer aboard the papal airplane in which the pope declared that it is not his role to judge someone who is gay “if they accept the Lord and have goodwill.”

Never mind that the pope has also made clear his acceptance of church doctrine, which regards gay sex and abortion as sins and bans women from the priesthood. Behind the growing skepticism is the fear in some quarters that Francis’s all-embracing style and spontaneous speech, so open as it is to interpretation, are undoing decades of church efforts to speak clearly on Catholic teachings. Some conservatives also feel that the pope is undermining them at a time when they are already being sidelined by an increasingly secular culture.
Gee, the shoe is on the other foot now. My heart bleeds borscht.

FWIW, I think that the new Pope IS undermining you and wants you sidelined, because he sees you as a threat to the church.

Obnoxious dogmatic intolerant f%$#s are not a selling point for the church.

As to any claim of morality, you lost that when you looked the other way at pedophile priests.

Linkage




Mr. Fish: Thankfully - Mr. Fish mugs and t-shirts available.

14 October 2013

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?!?!? The IMF is calling for Taxing the Rich?!?!?!

I'm not joking. The IMF actually suggesting that countries need to tax the rich in order to reduce deficits and improve economies:
Tax the rich and better target the multinationals: The IMF has set off shockwaves this week in Washington by suggesting countries fight budget deficits by raising taxes.

Tucked inside a report on public debt, the new tack was mostly eclipsed by worries about the US budget crisis, but did not escape the notice of experts and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs).

"We had to read it twice to be sure we had really understood it," said Nicolas Mombrial, the head of Oxfam in Washington. "It's rare that IMF proposals are so surprising."

Guardian of financial orthodoxy, the International Monetary Fund, which is holding its annual meetings with the World Bank this week in the US capital, typically calls for nations in difficulty to slash public spending to reduce their deficits.

But in its Fiscal Monitor report, subtitled "Taxing Times", the Fund advanced the idea of taxing the highest-income people and their assets to reinforce the legitimacy of spending cuts and fight against growing income inequalities.

"Scope seems to exist in many advanced economies to raise more revenue from the top of the income distribution," the IMF wrote, noting "steep cuts" in top rates since the early 1980s.

According to IMF estimates, taxing the rich even at the same rates during the 1980s would reap fiscal revenues equal to 0.25 percent of economic output in the developed countries.

"The gain could in some cases, such as that of the United States, be more significant," around 1.5 percent of gross domestic product, said the IMF report, which also singled out deficient taxation of multinational companies.
I did not expect that the IMF would suggest this before pigs ……… Well, you know.

I guess they have been following the purchase levels of pitchforks and torches, and have become concerned.

Now if only they start supporting a Tobin Tax on financial transactions.

Awwwww!!!! The NSA Has a Sad.

Longtime NSA operatives feel that Barack Obama has not been vocal enough in supporting on their spying on the rest of us:
Gen. Keith Alexander and his senior leadership team at the National Security Agency (NSA) are angry and dispirited by what they see as the White House's failure to defend the spy agency against criticism of its surveillance programs, according to four people familiar with the NSA chiefs' thinking. The top brass of the country's biggest spy agency feels they've been left twisting in the wind, abandoned by the White House and left largely to defend themselves in public and in Congress against allegations of unconstitutional spying on Americans.

"There has been no support for the agency from the President or his staff or senior administration officials, and this has not gone unnoticed by both senior officials and the rank and file at the Fort," said Joel Brenner, the NSA's one-time inspector general, referring to the agency's headquarters at Fort Meade, Md.

The weak backing from top administration officials has aggravated the relationship between Alexander and the White House, where he has never been warmly embraced. The NSA now finds itself without the strong, visible support of the President at a time of extraordinary political vulnerability, with the agency's secrets laid bare and its future in doubt.

………

Obama has only made one set of substantial remarks about the NSA's collection of Americans phone records and monitoring of Internet and email data, during a news conference in August. He did not distance himself from the programs, but he has not made a point of reminding the American people or lawmakers that he thinks they are vital. Neither the president's national security adviser, Susan Rice, nor his top counterterrorism adviser, Lisa Monaco, have given any public remarks arguing that the NSA programs are legal and necessary. And no Cabinet official has mounted a concerted effort to back the agency in public.

Former intelligence officials who remain in regular contact with those still in government say that morale at the NSA is low, both because of the reaction to leaks by former contractor Edward Snowden, which put the normally secretive agency under intense scrutiny, and because of budget cutbacks and the continuing government shutdown, which has left some employees furloughed without pay.

Brenner, who also served as the government's director of counterintelligence, said that Obama could have lifted morale had he gone to Fort Meade and made a speech vigorously defending the NSA's work. "A president who had real feeling for the intelligence business and the people laboring in that vineyard would have paid them a visit," Brenner said.

Instead, said former senior CIA official Mark Lowenthal, "They are hurting."
Three words:
Suck
It
Up!!!!

What a bunch of f%$#ing whiners.

Get over yourself.

The head of your agency (Keith Alexander) lies for you, and his boss (James Clapper) lies for you even more, and you are upset because Barack Obama isn't playing cheerleader for the folks in Fort Meade.

Like the chicken said, "You knew the job was dangerous when you took it."

We Might All Be in Hell

NPR just finished a series where it talked to prominent theologians about the nature of the afterlife.

One of the segments was immediately followed (it might have been preceeded) by a story about the government shutdown and potential debt default.

Then it hit me:  No one that they had talked to even mentioned the possibility that we might already be in hell.

Of course, Gnosticism, the religion that most closely hews to this philosophy, no longer exists as an organized religion, but it does seem to me that this is a reasonable conclusion.

As a Jew, I find the discussion of the afterlife largely irrelevant.   The afterlife is simply not a significant of Jewish theology.

The consensus on the afterlife in Judaism is, "Yes," with some people going with a conventional heaven and hell, and some people, particularly Kabbalists, believe in reincarnation, and a whole range in between.

In Judaism, the important thing is that to whatever degree our world resembles hell, it is our job to fix it.

This concept is called Tikkun olam (תיקון עולם).

This reminds me of an old joke:
A Shmuel dies and is sent to hell, and he boards an elevator going down.

The elevator operators calls out, "Hell, level 1, all Atheists and Agnostics out."

Shmuel looks out, and sees a bleak landscape, black sands, and a merciless sun beating down, and the air smells like.

The elevator moves further downward, and comes to a stop.

"Hell, level 2, all Muslims out."

Shmuel smells brimstone, hears screams, and sees rivers of flowing lava under a black sky.

Shmuel is now rather concerned.

The doors close with a sepulchral finality, and the elevator drops.

"Hell, all Christians out."

The door opens, and Shmuel can see nothing but flames in front of the door. He can feel his skin blisters from the heat even as he pushes himself against the back of the elevator.

As the doors close, Shmuel is now terrified.

"Hell, all Jews out.

The doors open, Shmuel feels a cool breeze on his face. He sees lush, green rolling hills. He smells citrus in the air.

Shmuel is stunned. To no one in particular, he says, "But ……… I thought it would be worse!"

The elevator operator looks up, and says, "It was. You cannot believe what they can do with irrigation.
Perhaps we should all spend some more time irrigating.

13 October 2013

Some People are Terrified by Women's Sexuality

Case in point, the developers of a drug called, (I am not joking here) Lybrido, which is intended to increase sexual desire and response in women.

I don't have a problem with this, though the idea that insufficient desire might be pathologized as hypoactive sexual-desire disorder (HSDD) is a bit troubling.

That being said, this following quote is even more troubling:
But of course swallowing a tablet can take us only so far. Chemically enhancing a woman’s desire might play out in all kinds of ways within a relationship. Some couples might feel closer, others might feel desolate because, despite more sex, their bond isn’t stronger. Wives might yearn for the old seductive efforts of their husbands, even if those gestures stopped working long ago. Women might feel yet more pressure to perform: Why not get that prescription? their partners might ask; why not take that pill? And men, if they are willing to confront the truth, might not be so happy about the reminder, as their partners reach for the pill bottle, that their women need chemical assistance to want them. All the agonies that have existed since the dawn of monogamy will still pertain, many of them coming down to the craving to feel special.

Beyond what might happen in millions of bedrooms, it’s even more difficult to foresee what societal transformations might be stirred. Just as with the birth-control pill, a foreboding not only about sex itself but also about female empowerment may be expressed in a dread of women’s sexual anarchy. Over the last decade, as companies chased after an effective chemical, there was fretting within the drug industry: what if, in trials, a medicine proved too effective? More than one adviser to the industry told me that companies worried about the prospect that their study results would be too strong, that the F.D.A. would reject an application out of concern that a chemical would lead to female excesses, crazed binges of infidelity, societal splintering.

“You want your effects to be good but not too good,” Andrew Goldstein, who is conducting the study in Washington, told me. “There was a lot of discussion about it by the experts in the room,” he said, recalling his involvement with the development of Flibanserin, “the need to show that you’re not turning women into nymphomaniacs.” He was still a bit stunned by the entrenched mores that lay within what he’d heard. “There’s a bias against — a fear of creating the sexually aggressive woman.”
Yes, giving 70 years erections to unleash upon the rest of society is a great profit center, but if women start wanting sex, it can create "societal splintering".

So, men suddenly want to copulate with anything with a hole in it: Good.

Women wanting to have sex: Scary.

Someone needs to get their heads out of their ass.

What a Surprise, the New York Bank of the Federal Reserve is Completely Captured by the Vampire Squid*

Case in point, we have a bank examiner fired by the NY Fed because she refused to ignore the law to help Goldman Sachs:
In the spring of 2012, a senior examiner with the Federal Reserve Bank of New York determined that Goldman Sachs had a problem.

Under a Fed mandate, the investment banking behemoth was expected to have a company-wide policy to address conflicts of interest in how its phalanxes of dealmakers handled clients. Although Goldman had a patchwork of policies, the examiner concluded that they fell short of the Fed’s requirements.

That finding by the examiner, Carmen Segarra, potentially had serious implications for Goldman, which was already under fire for advising clients on both sides of several multibillion-dollar deals and allegedly putting the bank’s own interests above those of its customers. It could have led to closer scrutiny of Goldman by regulators or changes to its business practices.

Before she could formalize her findings, Segarra said, the senior New York Fed official who oversees Goldman pressured her to change them. When she refused, Segarra said she was called to a meeting where her bosses told her they no longer trusted her judgment. Her phone was confiscated, and security officers marched her out of the Fed’s fortress-like building in lower Manhattan, just 7 months after being hired.

“They wanted me to falsify my findings,” Segarra said in a recent interview, “and when I wouldn’t, they fired me.”

Today, Segarra filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against the New York Fed in federal court in Manhattan seeking reinstatement and damages. The case provides a detailed look at a key aspect of the post-2008 financial reforms: The work of Fed bank examiners sent to scrutinize the nation’s “Too Big to Fail” institutions.
Segarra does not allege that Goldman was involved in the Fed's decision to fire her, and I'm inclined to agree.

The nature of regulatory capture is that the regulators do the bidding of those that they regulate without being asked.

The question is how we fix this.

*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.

Why to Tell the Steve Israel and the DCCC That You Will Manage Your Own Campaign Donations

Because former Blue Dog Steve Israel has as his goal the resurrection of the Blue Dog Caucus or something very similar, even at the expense of the possibility of Democrats taking back the house:
Last week, when MoveOn and PPP released their much buzzed about polls showing how Democrats could pick up many seats, the first thing I noticed was that these were all the Steve Israel seats they had polled. I spoke with them and asked them to poll some of the districts that the DCCC studiously ignores, districts we've been covering here at DWT and where Blue America has some great candidates. This morning MoveOn and PPP are releasing new polling data for some of those districts.

Outstanding, at top Blue America races where Lee Rogers is ahead of Buck McKeon (CA-25), Paul Clements is ahead of Fred Upton (MI-06) and Jason Ritchie is ahead of Dave Reichert (WA-08). In other districts, like FL-27, where Steve Israel and Debbie Wasserman Schultz have actively discouraged Democratic opponents, there is a clear indication that if Pelosi manned up and fired Israel and cleaned out the nest of self serving incompetents who run the DCCC, the Democrats would win back the House hands down in 2014. In many of the districts where there are no Democrats-- thanks to Israel's agenda-- voters see no alternative to the GOP incumbent but there is a clear indication that a Democrat could campaign and win. In FL-27 where Wasserman Schultz has been protecting Ileana Ros-Lehtinen for years, if an election were held today, an unnamed Democrat would beat her 47-45%. ………
You can read the rest at the article, but basically, the DCCC will drop big bucks on ConservaDem long-shots, and ignore competitive races where real Democrats are running against vulnerable Republicans.

12 October 2013

I Took Charlie to a Cubing Competition Today


A Geek in His Native Habitat
He got three personal bests, though on one of them, he missed the cut-off by 8/100 of a second.

I taped* all of his solves, 3x3, 4x4, 5x5, and one-handed 3x3, but these are the ones he put on his Youtube channel, because he thought that these were the most upload worthy.

I mostly acted as a camera man, and stayed out of his way while he hung out with his peeps.

No need to embarrass him by making his old fart dad to prominent.

*Not really taped, it was a digital video camera, but it's a decent way to describe it.

11 October 2013

Thank You Megan McArdle………

I frequently write about Meghan "Math is Hard" McArdle, and when I do, I frequently portray her as  one of the most completely useless pundits out there.  (which says a lot)

I have finally discovered that she serves a purpose.  She is an excellent reverse barometer:  If you reflexively disagree with her, you are almost certain to be right.

Case in point, her Op/Ed suggesting that police blotters should be made private.

Because some scumbags on the internet are posting people's mugshots online, and demanding extortion a fee to remove the pictures, she wants to further restrict public records.

My initial reaction was, "I'm against it."

Then I looked at her examples.  They were all hipster trustifarians who got caught with a joint, or some X, or got busted for drunk driving, like George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, and because daddy has some money, they lawyered up and got a deferred adjudication.

We as a society need to have this information, even if there are ratf%$#s are out there who are attempting extortion.

I knew I was right as soon as I knew that I disagreed with McArdle, and on closer examination this was confirmed.

Schwer zu Sein a Yid*

It appears that some folks from my wife's old home town have been up to no good:
In Brooklyn’s ultra-Orthodox Jewish neighborhoods, Mendel Epstein made a name for himself as the rabbi to see for women struggling to divorce their husbands. Among the Orthodox, a divorce requires the husband’s permission, known as a “get,” and tales abound of women whose husbands refuse to consent.

While it’s common for rabbis to take action against defiant husbands, such as barring them from synagogue life, Rabbi Epstein, 68, took matters much further, according to the authorities.

For hefty fees, he orchestrated the kidnapping and torture of reluctant husbands, charging their wives as much as $10,000 for a rabbinical decree permitting violence and $50,000 to hire others to carry out the deed, according to federal charges unsealed on Thursday morning.

Rabbi Epstein, along with another rabbi, Martin Wolmark, who is the head of a yeshiva, as well as several men in what the authorities called the “kidnap team,” appeared in Federal District Court in Trenton after a sting operation in which an undercover federal agent posed as an Orthodox Jewish woman soliciting Rabbi Epstein’s services.

………

When two undercover F.B.I. agents — one posing as a woman seeking a divorce, the other as her brother — asked a rabbi for help, the rabbi explained how Rabbi Epstein might be able to assist them.

“You need special rabbis who are going to take this thing and see it through to the end,” Rabbi Martin Wolmark, a respected figure who presides over a yeshiva in Monsey, N.Y., said in a recorded telephone call on Aug. 7. He described Rabbi Epstein as “a hired hand” who could help, according to the criminal complaint in the case.

When the undercover agents met with Rabbi Epstein a week later, he said that he was confident he could secure a get once his “tough guys” had made their threats.
(emphasis mine)

Women who are trapped by this are called Agunot, (literally "Chained Women") and their plight is heart-breaking, but these guys are not trying to help, they are drying to make bank of these women's pain.

Some of the alleged kidnappers come from My wife's old neighborhood.

She spent much of her time growing up in Rockland county, just over the line from Monsey.

Who knew that she was in an area that was mobbed up?

*It's hard to be a Jew.  This is so embarrassing.

Mark Zuckerberg is Making Larry Ellison Look Like a Mindful Human Being

Because only a few percent of users are availing themselves of the feature, Facebook has dropped a feature that allowed users to exempt themselves from search, because, I guess, they need to sell ads to stalkers:
Facebook is getting rid of a privacy feature that let users limit who can find them on the social network.

Facebook Inc. said Thursday that it is removing a setting that controls whether users could be found when people type their name into the website's search bar.
Yes, I do Facebook, because, there is no viable alternative.

Google Plus?  Surely you jest?

Linkage


Hail his noodley goodness.



Man who claims his religion forces him to wear a sieve on his head given permission to wear one on his official identity card picture (Daily Mail) Pastafarians, yeah.

10 October 2013

Today's Moment of Hedonism

Last week, I was rear ended on the Outer Loop, while I was stopped in traffic.

There were some minor dings on my rear bumper, and no injuries of anyone.

What it did mean was that her insurance would pay for my repairs, so it went into the shop yesterday, and they are also paying for a rental car.

It is a 2013 VW Jetta Wagon, a gas version, and it is loaded.

This morning, it was chilly, our first real brush with Autumnal weather, and so I tried out the electric seat warmers.

I really like the electric bun warmers.

I decided to call Sharon* out when I got home, and had her check out the heated seats.

She really like the electric bun warmers as well.

Not as nice as the Dalek robotic Brookstone massage chairs that I've tried out in the mall, but nice all the same.

Sweet car, though I would go with the 4 cylinder turbo-diesel, rather than the 5 cylinder gas engine version, and I might go with a manual transmission if I were in the market as well.

*Love of my life, light of the cosmos, she who must be obeyed, my wife. 

Least Surprising News of the Day

Obama's war on whistle-blowers and the press has been examined by former WaPo editor-in-chief Leonard Downie, Jr., and is described in his report as, "The most aggressive since Nixon."
The administration’s war on leaks and other efforts to control information are the most aggressive I’ve seen since the Nixon administration, when I was one of the editors involved in The Washington Post’s investigation of Watergate. The 30 experienced Washington journalists at a variety of news organizations whom I interviewed for this report could not remember any precedent.
The former counsel for the New York Times in the Pentagon Papers case is far less circumspect about this:
Since 2009, the Obama administration has prosecuted more people as whistleblowers under the 1917 Espionage Act than all former presidents combined, a fact often rehashed in journalistic circles. In some of those cases, officials seized journalists’ phone and email records to use in their investigation. James Goodale, who was The New York Times’ chief counsel during Pentagon Papers coverage, has told CJR that Obama’s aggressive crackdown on whistleblowers is “antediluvian, conservative, backwards. Worse than Nixon. He thinks that anyone who leaks is a spy! I mean, it’s cuckoo.”
There is a pathology in the White House about leaks, and considering the vehemence, it has to come from the top, and it has to be deeply felt.

Ironically, this attitude is probably causing more harm than good for the Obama administration, though I would argue that the damage to the idea freedom of the press as a counterweight to government excess is far greater.

This is why I call Barack Obama the worst constitutional law professor ever.


This Says More About the University of Chicago Than They Would Like

I've always wondered if the University of Chicago economics department was little more than than an attempt to engage in, "One of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness," to quote John Kenneth Galbrath.

Now it appears that the whole damn school is exclusively structured for the purpose reinforcing privilege:
Back in May at the University of Chicago, this happened:
Two locksmiths with medical conditions were told to repair locks on the fourth floor of the Administration Building during the day. Stephen Clarke, the locksmith who originally responded to the emergency repair, has had two hip replacement surgeries during his 23 years as an employee of the University. According to Clarke, when he asked Kevin Ahn, his immediate supervisor, if he could use the elevator due to his medical condition, Ahn said no. Clarke was unable to perform the work, and Elliot Lounsbury, a second locksmith who has asthma, was called to perform the repairs. Lounsbury also asked Ahn if he could use the elevator to access the fourth floor, was denied, and ended up climbing the stairs to the fourth floor.
Clarke and Lounsbury were told they had to haul their asthma and hip replacements up four flights of stairs because the University of Chicago has had a policy of forbidding workers from using the elevators in this building, which houses the President’s office, during daytime hours. As the university’s director of labor relations put it: “The University has requested that maintenance and repair workers should normally use the public stairway in the Administration Building rather than the two public elevators.”
The problem is not just that the divide between rich and poor is too extreme, it is that we are going balls to the wall feudal as well.

It's Jobless Thursday

And the numbers suck, but as with the past few weeks, there are computer/reporting issues, so the accuracy is suspect:
Claims for U.S. jobless benefits jumped last week to the highest level in six months, providing the first statistical warning that the damage from the partial federal shutdown is starting to ripple through the economy.

While half the increase came from California as the state worked through a backlog following a switch in computer systems, another 15,000 reflected the furlough of non-federal workers from employers losing government business, a Labor Department spokesman said as the data was released to the press. Applications (INJCJC) for unemployment insurance benefits surged by 66,000 in the week ended Oct. 5 to 374,000, the most since late March, figures from the Labor Department showed today in Washington.
Hopefully, we will start seeing some "normal" numbers in the next few weeks.

Linkage


And here is the Who on the Smothers Brothers Show:

09 October 2013

Proving, Once Again, that Barack Obama can be Trusted to Do the Right Thing, If He Has No Alternative

He is going to nominate Janet Yellen to the next Chairman of the Federal Reserve:
President Barack Obama will nominate Janet Yellen as chairman of the Federal Reserve, which would put the world’s most powerful central bank in the hands of a key architect of its unprecedented stimulus program and the first female leader in its 100-year history.

Obama will announce the nomination at 3 p.m. today in Washington, a White House official said in an e-mailed statement. Yellen, 67, would succeed Ben S. Bernanke, whose term expires on Jan. 31.

Obama turned to Yellen, vice chairman of the Fed since 2010, after the other leading candidate, former Treasury secretary and White House economic adviser Lawrence Summers, withdrew from consideration amid mounting opposition from Democrats on the Senate Banking Committee.

“She’s an excellent choice, and I believe she’ll be confirmed by a wide margin,” Charles Schumer of New York, the Senate’s No. 3 Democrat, said in a statement. Senate Banking Committee Chairman Tim Johnson, a South Dakota Democrat, pledged to work “to move her nomination forward in a timely manner,” saying her depth of experience is unmatched.

U.S. index futures climbed, signaling stocks may rebound from the biggest loss since August, and Treasuries rose after the announcement. Standard & Poor’s 500 Index futures added 0.3 percent as of 11:03 a.m. in London, after the U.S. benchmark gauge lost more than 2 percent over the past two days. Five-year Treasury yields fell two basis points.
He REALLY wanted Larry Summers, so I don't expect to see much expenditure of political capital if the Republicans decide to hold up the process.

That being said, I think that the major difference between her and either Bernanke or Summers will be on the regulatory end of things, not the monetary policy end of things.

There is only so far that you can push a string.

So, Now We Know What Makes Andrea Mitchell Go Postal………

It was former "Real World" cast member and current Congressman Sean Duffy, who was arguing that Obamacare is to blame the Republicans holding military death benefits hostage: (at about 11:20 in the vid)
With all due respect, this is about military death benefits to kids, 19-year-old kids who died in Afghanistan and who are not returning home, this is about what their families are entitled to by law and what they are not getting.

This is not about what you want in Obamacare and not about what the president wants on the debt ceiling.
And yes, for Andrea Mitchell, this is going postal.




Also, how did this guy get elected when he is too stupid to cut his own meat?

He keeps going back to the his belief that Jon Stewart gave a puff interview to Kathleen Sebelius, head of HHS as evidence that journalists are biased.

Hello, Jon Stewart is a f%$#ing commedian. Jeebus.

Why Yes, they Are Psychopaths, Why Do You Ask?


Where do they find these sick f%$#s?
Brian Kilmeade of (who else) Fox News calls Navy Seals a bunch of wusses for calling off a mission when they realize that the target is chock full of kids.

I do understand where he is coming from. 

After all it's not like they were white children that Mr. Kilmeade wanted to throw into the middle of a firefight.

Great googly moogly.  Why do they let him out in public?

08 October 2013

Break Even Fusion at National Ignition Facility, Livermore

This is a major milestone:
But to be viable, fusion power plants would have to produce more energy than they consume, which has proven elusive.

Now, a breakthrough by scientists at the National Ignition Facility (NIF) could boost hopes of scaling up fusion.

NIF, based at Livermore in California, uses 192 beams from the world's most powerful laser to heat and compress a small pellet of hydrogen fuel to the point where nuclear fusion reactions take place.
This is known as "inertial confinement". Basically heat and pressure is created because the concentrated lasers heat up the pellet so rapidly that it creates intense heats and pressures.

Note that "Break Even" does have a qualifier though:
This is a step short of the lab's stated goal of "ignition", where nuclear fusion generates as much energy as the lasers supply. This is because known "inefficiencies" in different parts of the system mean not all the energy supplied through the laser is delivered to the fuel.

But the latest achievement has been described as the single most meaningful step for fusion in recent years, and demonstrates NIF is well on its way towards the coveted target of ignition and self-sustaining fusion.
Interestingly, inertial confinement, which has gotten far less funding and attention than magnetic confinement, most notably the Tokomak and Stellerator configurations, but they have not progressed as far.

Inertial containment is a lot simpler, both from a physics and an engineering standpoint, but making it economically viable appears appears rather more difficult than for magnetic confinement, because inertial confinement is by its nature an intermittent process.

Latest Republican Innovation: Minorities Only Get 3/5 of a Vote

It appears that Kansas and Arizona are using a rather twisted interpretation of the Supreme Court's ruling to prevent people from voting in state and local elections:

Remember this phrase: two-tier voting. You may be hearing more about it.

Officials in Arizona and Kansas are making preparations for elections with two categories of voters. There will be those who provided proof of citizenship when they registered to vote, and will therefore be able to vote in all local, state, and federal elections. And then there will be those who did not provide proof of citizenship when they registered. Those people will only be able to vote in federal contests -- if at all.

In both states, the preparations underway are reactions to the Supreme Court's June ruling in Arizona v. Inter Tribal Council, the legal battle over Arizona's 2004 voter identification law, known as Proposition 200. While the headlines in June painted the ruling as a blow to Proposition 200, officials in both Arizona and Kansas have chosen to focus on the leeway the Supreme Court left them. Kansas State Election Director Brad Bryant laid out the argument in an email he sent to county election officers at the end of July.

"As the Supreme Court made clear, its decision applies only to 'federal registration forms' and covers only federal elections," Bryant wrote, according to a copy of the email provided to TPM. "States remain free to require proof of citizenship from voters who seek to also vote in state elections."

Using that logic, both states have made moves toward two-tier systems.

In Kansas, whose Secretary of State, Kris Kobach (R), has been at the forefront of the voter ID movement, that system is already up and running.
One of the things that is necessary for democracy to function is for both sides to accept the idea that there are limits in the pursuit of political power.

I don't know how you make this sh%$ stop, but I am open to suggestions.

All I got is a return of the Fairness Doctrine.