Saturday, July 31, 2010

Steve Beren for Congress in 7th District

We will have a choice versus Baghdad Jim McDermott in Congress in Seattle and Lake Forest Park. Steve Beren is running as a write-in candidate. Steve is a good man and a good communicator of conservative principles. His statement on Facebook:
Yesterday afternoon, I went to Olympia and filed for official status as a write-in candidate for U.S. Congress against incumbent Democrat Jim McDermott. I am the only Republican candidate in the race. If I get enough votes in the August 17 primary, I will be on the ballot in the general election. Please write in "Steve Beren" for Congress. Spread the word in order to help get out the vote. And please consider a generous donation - if my campaign raises enough money, we will do a radio ad blitz in the Seattle area between now and the primary. You can donate online at or you can send a check to the address in the signature block below. I'm a pro-liberty "five star conservative" and grassroots Tea Party activist. I'm for economic growth, job creation, lower taxes, and limited government. We need a conservative Republican majority in Congress to repeal Obamacare, to defeat cap and trade, and to block amnesty for illegal immigrants. My write-in campaign offers a stark contrast and clear alternative to Jim McDermott, who fully supports the Obama-Pelosi-Reid agenda of wasteful spending, soaring unemployment, higher taxes, massive deficits, and restrictions on liberty. This progressive agenda has been disastrous for the American economy, causing immense suffering for families, homeowners, and small business. Our constitution is the guiding document of this great nation. The answer to the challenges facing our nation will be found, not in more government bureaucracy, but in reliance on constitutional principles and in a free market economic system based on liberty.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Rangel and the most ethical Congress ever

"Laws apply to you poor schmucks, not powerful Congressment like me." OK, Boss Charlie Rangel didn't say the exact words, but his actions did. Michelle Malkin: ... At a press conference to preempt the bipartisan House ethics panel's announcement of 13 ethics and federal regulation charges against Rangel on Thursday afternoon, Pelosi claimed to take "great pride" in her swamp-draining record. Unblinkingly, she cited the House trial against Rangel as proof that the "process" is working. But that beleaguered panel has been pathetically understaffed, has dragged its feet for two years on the Rangel case and has administered more halfhearted wrist-slaps than all the pushover parents on a season of "Nanny 911." Clinging bitterly to the moral equivalence card, Pelosi carped about Bush-era GOP corruption. (Cue a chorus of "Let's do the time warp again!") Her lips were sealed, however, on the continuing wheeling and dealing behind the scenes between Rangel's lobbyist-funded lawyers and the ethics panel on a deal to avoid a congressional trial. A full-blown public trial would thoroughly air his self-dealing, habitual bad-faith failures to report income, multiple House gift ban and solicitation ban violations, flouting of franking privilege and letterhead rules, and a fundamental "pattern of indifference or disregard for the laws, rules and regulations of the United States and House of Representatives," as the House ethics statement of violations put it. But, hey, what about that GEORGE W. BUSH, eh, Pelosi? Bush-whack all you want. The Rangel stench is overwhelming. Along the way, Rangel has obstructed House investigators, failed to produce documents and refused previous settlement offers. ...

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Audit of Seattle Schools finds lots of problems

State Auditor Brian Sontag audited Seattle School District and found a lot of problems. At SAO (pdf) Lynn Varner at Seattle Times covers it. In her opinion:
... audit uncovered worrisome mistakes that seem less like incompetence and more like an ingrained comfort with spending other people's money without accountability.
Seattle Schools overpaid at least 83 employees and maybe up to 144 of them. They say they are getting payback from those still there. But some have left the district. Careless tracking of equipment. Auditor's report:
We asked the District to provide a report on all property losses that had occurred since the prior audit and a list of items shown as misappropriated in the asset database. From these lists and police reports, we were able to identify at least nine losses the District did not report to our Office. Some of the items were computers, digital cameras and camcorders. The dollar value assigned to the lost or misappropriated assets not reported to our Office was at least $7,412. The District had not assigned a value to some of the items.
State law restricts government agencies' use of capital funds. Seattle Times:
Yet, the district spent $1.8 million encouraging small and minority-owned businesses to bid on district work. First, I don't buy that, in a recession, the district has to entice bidders for lucrative contracts. Second, because no one bothered to familiarize themselves with state law, the district must replace the money by dipping into its general fund. That's less money for the classrooms.
... a series of careless mistakes, each one small in a budget the size of the district's, building a damning case of carelessness and lack of caring. The district was forced to pay nearly $1,700 in credit-card late fees in a single year. ... The shoddy reporting and bookkeeping gets worse. Employees charged $250,000 in gas, not necessarily a problem considering the size of the district and the many employees who travel between schools. But employees are required to note how many miles were driven between fill-ups so usage can be tracked. Few did so. Some scribbled in one mile, others took wilder guesses. They might as well have written "none of your business." Officials also cannot explain why in a 30-day span, nearly a quarter of fuel purchases charged to district credit cards occurred between 1 a.m. and 4 a.m. Auditors look at personnel records and found no employees working at those hours. Kennedy wonders if the gas pump time clocks were off. That would be some coincidence.
There are also violations for not keeping minutes of meetings and making them available to the public. State Auditor Brian Sonntag also finds that Seattle Schools has not fully corrected faults found in previous audits. As Lynn Varner says, they are comfortable misusing other people's money.

How to make use of wind energy

In the quest for alternate energy sources wind has more promise than solar. CalFinder. Earth is bombarded with solar energy 24 hours per day; it's just a matter of capturing it and converting it to useful form at the right place and time. Wind has big problems with place and time of day.

The big wind areas are in the west and offshore in the east. The Kennedys are using all their power to make sure their royal view is never marred by something to generate all the power they use. So rule out the East offshore. All the energy captured in the West has to be transmitted. Of course the same people who say our salvation will come from green energy fight tooth and nail against any company that tries to build transmission lines for the wind energy.

And the wind blows at certain times of day, not much at night. So when people are getting up on the populous east coast the Sun is not yet up and spinning the turbines in Wyoming. And it is erratic as well - gusting...

Creative people are working on these problems. And they can only invest in solutions if they can make a profit. They are working on Storage ideas.

NY Times

In New York and California, companies are exploring electrical storage that is big enough to allow for “arbitrage,” or buying power at a low price, such as in the middle of the night, and selling it hours later at a higher price. In the Midwest, a utility is demonstrating storage technology that can go from charge to discharge and back several times a minute, or even within a second, bracing the grid against the vicissitudes of wind and sun and transmission failure. And in Texas, companies are looking at ways of stabilizing voltage through battery storage in places served by just one transmission line.

... “you can’t do that without batteries of some sort,” said Peter Rosegg, a spokesman for the Hawaiian Electric Company.

His company has agreed to buy electricity from a wind farm on the northern shore of Oahu, where the Boston-based power company First Wind has just broken ground.

The spot is one of Hawaii’s best wind sites, Mr. Rosegg said, but the supply is gusty and erratic. What is more, it is at the farthest point on the island from the company’s main load center, Honolulu, and does not even lie on its high-voltage transmission backbone.

So the 30-megawatt wind farm, which will have enough power to run about 30 Super Wal-Marts, will have Xtreme Power of Austin, Tex., install a 15-megawatt battery.

Computers will work to keep the battery exactly half-charged most hours of the day, said Carlos J. Coe, Xtreme Power’s chief executive. If the wind suddenly gets stronger or falls off, the batteries will smooth out the flow so that the grid sees only a more gradual increase or decrease, no more than one megawatt per minute at some hours of the day.

The Hawaii installation is designed to succeed at a crucial but obscure function: frequency regulation. The alternating-current power system has to run at a strict 60 cycles per second, and the battery system can give and take power on a micro scale, changing directions from charge to discharge or vice versa within that 60th of a second, to keep the pace steady.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Demo pollster finds people think Obama is an "S"

A major Democrat pollster finds that people think President Obama is a socialist. Stan Greenberg was Clinton's pollster. Human Events
... But then came clincher—the poisonous "S" word—the word even Republicans do not dare utter for fear of raising the wrath of the New York Times and Washington Post. The two former Clinton aides asked respondents if the word "Socialist" describes Obama very well or well. Answer: 55% said yes. Republicans, you have your gift. A good majority of Americans think the President is a Socialist. Feel free to use the adjective yourselves, compliments of two Democratic operatives who used to work for the Clintons.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Mexico prisons release and arm inmates to carry out massacres

Unbelievable. What a corrupt country. AP at Yahoo MEXICO CITY – Guards and officials at a prison in northern Mexico allegedly let inmates out, lent them guns and allowed them to use official vehicles to carry out drug-related killings, including the massacre of 17 people last week, prosecutors said Sunday. After carrying out the killings the inmates would return to their cells, the Attorney General's Office said in a revelation that was shocking even for a country wearied by years of drug violence and corruption. "According to witnesses, the inmates were allowed to leave with authorization of the prison director ... to carry out instructions for revenge attacks using official vehicles and using guards' weapons for executions," office spokesman Ricardo Najera said at a news conference. The director of the prison in Gomez Palacio in Durango state and three other officials were placed under a form of house arrest pending further investigation. No charges have yet been filed. Prosecutors said the prison-based hit squad is suspected in three mass shootings, including the July 18 attack on a party in the city of Torreon, which is near Gomez Palacio. In that incident, gunmen fired indiscriminately into a crowd of mainly young people in a rented hall, killing 17 people, including women. ...

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Big week for Demos in Congress

Victory after victory for them. Loss and pain for Americans. They blew another $33 billion hole in the deficit - Obama promised to reduce it - rather than reallocate dollars left from Obama's Porkulus $787 billion stimulus bill. That was for extending unemployment. The Republicans favored extending the benefits, but - shock - wanted to pay for it. Why be restrained by deficits and common sense? And now "too big to fail" is the law. The smaller banks can drop like flies, rather, be gobbled up like flies, but the monsters are protected by federal law. What else is in Chris Dodd's swan song? More favors for friends, relatives and political buddies are being found every day. It's 2200 pages, correctiong, 2300 pages. WSJ
In a recent note to clients the law firm of Davis Polk & Wardwell needed more than 150 pages merely to summarize the bureaucratic ecosystem created by Dodd-Frank. ... the lawyers estimate that the law will require no fewer than 243 new formal rule-makings by 11 different federal agencies.
Third, on the floor of the Senate, Sen. Byron Dorgan let the liberal cat out of the bag. He attacked Republicans for supporting tax cuts that would "reduce this country's income." No longer is national income what businesses and individuals create by hard work. Now it is what the political class takes from us.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Skype took my money

Skype burned credit I had paid for. I paid to keep a $10 balance, so I could make calls. But Skype burned it because I hadn't made a call in several months. I tried to. But the Skype app on my IPhone is not compatible with IOS 4, so I could not make a Skype call with my IPhone. The last 3 days before my credit was burned I had no internet access for my Mac, though my IPhone had excellent voice and data service. But their IPhone app is old. Got me.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Nobel winner Chu stopped effort to "plug the hole"

It's now official: the NY Times admits the genius's guilt. NYT
Energy Secretary Steven Chu may hold a Nobel Prize in physics, but he has no training in geology, seismology or oil well technology. Nevertheless, he has stepped in repeatedly to take command of the effort to contain BP’s runaway well, often ordering company officials to take steps they might not have taken on their own. In early May, he suggested using gamma ray imaging to determine the condition of the well’s blowout preventer, a move no one at the company had considered. A few weeks later, he overruled some BP officials and ordered the company to stop the “top kill” effort, citing “very, very grave concerns” that it could backfire.
So give Chu credit for weeks of oil flow. He also admits guilt:
... In an interview Thursday, Dr. Chu said that if he had understood geology and well technology better in the early days after the April 20 blowout, he might have urged a faster attempt at the top kill, which involved shooting mud and other gunk to clog up the damaged blowout preventer atop the gushing well. The delay, he said, might have allowed pressure to increase in the well, rendering the attempt fruitless when it was tried at the end of May.

Innovation by businesses and flexible workers - good growth

One of Obama's useful idiots is looking at and seeing reality Mort Zuckerman at Newsweek:
... In the midst of a weak economy accompanied by levels of unemployment unprecedented since the Great Depression, it is critical that the government in Washington appreciate that confidence is an imperative if the business community is to invest, take risks with start-ups, and altogether get the economy going again to put the millions of unemployed back to productive work. This is what businessmen do when they are free to conduct business. For example, in the two decades of the 1980s and 1990s, the United States created 73 million new private sector jobs—while simultaneously losing some 44 million jobs in the process of adjusting its economy to international competition. That was a net gain of some 29 million jobs. A stunning 55 percent of the total workforce at the end of these two decades was in a new job, some two-thirds of them in industries that paid more than the average wage. By contrast, continental Europe, with a larger economy and workforce, created an estimated 4 million jobs in the same period, most of which were in the public sector (and the cost of which they are beginning to regret). How could America achieve this? It is because of the get-up-and-go culture that reflects individualism, courageous entrepreneurialism, pragmatism, adaptability, and innovation. This adventurous spirit outlived the passing of the frontier and still inspires and nourishes millions, including our young and our newcomers. No other country has a population so habituated to self-help, self-improvement, and even self-renovation in a manner that carries over into business life. ... Over the years, the transformation of American industry has been nothing short of phenomenal. U.S. companies replaced large, mass-produced consumer products with sophisticated goods derived from intellectual output and knowledge-based interests, the fastest-growing segment of the world's economy. Management was assisted by a level of labor flexibility that is the envy of both Europe and Asia. Europe struggles with the legacy of the steam age in the form of craft, union, and management demarcations that limit management's role. In Asia, management is often stifled by large, oligopolistic networks and government mandates. American managers consistently led the world in investing in new technologies and providing high-tech training to exploit them. We were the first to realize the importance of computers and information technologies and invested massively in them, spending twice as much per capita on info-tech as Western European firms and more than six times the global average. In fact, U.S. companies are the major suppliers of the information age's silicon, brains, and sinews. No other country has met the requirements of an emerging economic system that needed people to be mobile both physically and psychologically. No other country shares America's belief in numbers and statistics as a basis for rational decision-making. No other country invests so much in business training and the retraining of its people—on top of having the world's best graduate and undergraduate business schools. No other country forms as many small companies year after year that compete with flexibility, rapid response, openness, innovation, and the ability to attract the best people. And as new products and services are developed, American businesses' unique marketing and advertising skills establish their success at home and abroad. Our system, in which ideas freely percolate at all levels, is tantamount to a giant information-processing machine. It enhances our capacity to absorb, adapt, and manage ongoing revolutions in technology, information, and logistics, which are too dynamic and complex to be handled by a top-down system. ...
So what will Obama do about it? Restrain. Increase taxes. Play favorites. And kill the growth.

KC-Metro Transit uses tax increase for much higher salaries, little service increase increased service

Update at bottom The King County bus system asked for sales tax increases so they could increase bus service. But did a little of that, but gave drivers a huge pay increase. WPC (pdf)
... Higher Wages Replace New Bus Service In 2000, only nineteen drivers made more than $75,000 per year and none made over $100,000. After the two sales tax increases, the number who made more than $75,000 rose to 243 drivers, and now twenty drivers make more than $100,000 per year. These high-wage bus drivers cost taxpayers $1.6 million in 2000. By 2009, these high wage earners required $20.7 million per year, an increase of nearly 1,200 percent. In part, the rapid growth in drivers’ wages has stalled the ability of Metro’s previous two tax increases to purchase the expanded service officials promised to voters. Nearly half of the projected revenue from the two tax increases is now devoted to higher wages. Sharply higher wages have contributed to Metro’s budget problems. Given the rapid growth in salaries over the last decade and as Metro wrestles with how to close its $200 million budget hole, gaining control of high wages is an obvious starting point.
Driver Qualifications Do Not Justify Such High Wages
... With the exception of obtaining a Commercial Driver’s License, the qualifications to drive a bus in King County do not require high levels of technical experience or any education. These qualifications are typical of many private sector jobs that pay far less than $100,000 per year. On the other hand, there are many other jobs that need substantially more skills, experience and education but pay less. For example, King County was recently hiring a payroll manager for its District Court system. The position requires knowledge and experience with dozens of court and accounting procedures, a four-year college degree, four years of payroll experience and two years of management experience. The starting annual salary is $61,477 and tops out at $78,242.9
Update: Michael Ennis at WPC follows up. Transit drivers called him names and had complaints. But they didn't challenge any of his facts. WPC

Friday, July 16, 2010

Justice is slow

Lynn Stewart, who is willing to defend anyone who kills Americans, was sentenced to 10 years in jail. The sentence is for helping one of her terrorist clients to communicate with his followers - so they could kill more Americans. The judge said Stewart showed "a lack of remorse for conduct that was both illegal and potentially lethal." Of course her family was outraged. What do they think of her lethal actions? The judge allowed her to be confined locally for 60 days so she could participate in dragging out the process. Last November the judge said she had committed perjury during her hearings. New York One

A man who...

President Obama went to Michigan to give $300 million to an $11 billion Korean corporation. He called Governor Granholm who caused a recession in Michigan in 2007 while the rest of the US was booming "one of the best." (Michigan had lost jobs for six straight years of Granholm rule as of 2007.) He focused on alternate energy, while traveling in a 10 mpg car that was flown in at great cost. And he went out of the way to insult his host. Detroit News:
Obama couldn’t even get his manners right. Ever the partisan, he took a shot at his host, Holland Congressional representative Pete Hoekstra who was in the audience. Despite opposing the Recovery Act, Hoekstra attended the ground-breaking ceremony, he told The View, “out of respect for the office of president.” The respect was not returned. "Some made the political calculation that it's better to obstruct than to lend a hand,” sneered Obama at the end of his remarks. “Now that doesn't stop them from being at ribbon cuttings, but that's OK."
A man who... is a jerk.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Gazans have plenty of food but bored

The real problem of the people of Gaza is so transparent that even the NY Times prints it. And they can't blame Israel any more than Egypt and not at all for the biggest problems.

The people of Gaza have plenty of food and medical supplies. There is no need for ships to break Israel's blockade (which is against weapons) for the basics of life. One big problem in Gaza is no work - boredom. The Palestinians and other Arabs have kept the people of Gaza in limbo for 60 years. In every other situation refugees are moved and settled with homes and jobs, then forgotten. But the Palestinian leaders don't want the wound to heal; they want it open and festering. So they don't allow ending the refugee camps (also on the West Bank.)

NY Times

... There are plenty of things to buy in Gaza; goods are brought over the border or smuggled through the tunnels with Egypt. That is not the problem.
Here it is:
... She has eight children, and her unemployed husband spends his days on sedatives.

“Our husbands don’t work, my kids are not in school, I get nervous, I yell at them, I cry, I fight with my husband,” she blurted. “My husband starts fighting with us and then he cries: ‘What am I going to do? What can I do?’ ”

The others [mothers] knew exactly what she meant.

The Palestinians of Gaza, most of them descended from refugees of the 1948 war that created Israel, have lived through decades of conflict and confrontation. Their scars have accumulated like layers of sedimentary rock, each marking a different crisis — homelessness, occupation, war, dependency.

Today, however, two developments have conspired to turn a difficult life into a new torment: a three-year blockade by Israel and Egypt that has locked them in the small enclave and crushed what there was of a formal local economy; and the bitter rivalry between Palestinian factions, which has undermined identity and purpose, divided families and caused a severe shortage of electricity in the middle of summer.

... In fact, talk about food and people here get angry because it implies that their struggle is over subsistence rather than quality of life. The issue is not hunger. It is idleness, uncertainty and despair.

Any discussion of Gaza’s travails is part of a charged political debate. No humanitarian crisis? That is an Israeli talking point, people here will say, aimed at making the world forget Israel’s misdeeds. Palestinians trapped with no future? They are worse off in Lebanon, others respond, where their “Arab brothers” bar them from buying property and working in most professions.

But the situation is certainly dire. Scores of interviews and hours spent in people’s homes over a dozen consecutive days here produced a portrait of a fractured and despondent society unable to imagine a decent future for itself as it plunges into listless desperation and radicalization.

It seems most unlikely that either a Palestinian state or any kind of Middle East peace can emerge without substantial change here. Gaza, on almost every level, is stuck.


A main road was blocked off and a stage set up for a rally protesting the electricity shortage. Speakers shook nearby windows with the anthems of Hamas, the Islamist party that has held power here for the past three years. Boys in military camouflage goose-stepped. Young men carried posters of a man with vampire teeth biting into a bloodied baby.

The vampire was not Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister. It was Salam Fayyad, prime minister of the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank.
This is an interesting situation: The Palestinians are severely divided.

And remember that Israel and Egypt are blockading to block shipments of weapons.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Blog for IPhone trial

To make my blog readily readable by the small screens of smart phones. Atom RSS feed Please give it a try and leave a comment - no matter what your result. I need feedback.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Reporting on Gulf oil spill is now a felony - update

A felony to report on Obama's mess? Yes. - Update at the bottom "Well, you see we are concerned about reporters interfering with blah-blah-blah," I am sure they say. The Coast Guard is covering up - keeping reporters from showing the impact on people, animals, beaches and water ways. Why hide the problem? Newsbusters
Effectively reporting on the Gulf oil spill is now a Class D felony, punishable by a fine of up to $40,000. That's right, the most transparent administration in history has made it a felony, effective July 1, to get within 65 feet of what the Coast Guard determines are essential recovery efforts. According to Anderson Cooper, officials tried to up that number to 300 feet. Cooper, who claimed federal officials prevented CNN on two occasions from taking photographs in the gulf, seemed frustrated when he reported on the new laws the day they went into effect. The press is "not the enemy here" he pleaded. The new policies, he said, make it "very easy to hide failure, and hide incompetence." Cooper also let loose this zinger: "Transparency is apparently not a priority with [Coast Guard Commandant] Thad Allen these days." This is but the latest in a string of incidents that seem to have much of the country -- and if Cooper is any indicator, at least a few journalists -- questioning the sincerity of candidate Obama's pledges of transparency, openness, and respect for the press. But these new regulations on press coverage of the spill have not garnered as much attention as perhaps they should -- certainly not as much as similar moves during the Bush administration's response to Hurricane Katrina (a fact that Cooper notes). Shortly after the Hurricane hit, according to the Washington Post, "FEMA refused to take reporters and photographers along on boats seeking victims in flooded areas, saying they would take up valuable space needed in the recovery effort and asked them not to take pictures of the dead." The Post touted claims that the FEMA policy was "in line with the Bush administration's ban on images of flag-draped U.S. military coffins returning from the Iraq war" -- clearly drawing a comparison to other Bush policies rife with accusations of politically-motivated censorship. So far, the Post is silent on the criminalization -- a much stronger statement of administration policy than the refusal to allow embedded reporters on rescue efforts -- of media coverage in the Gulf. With a scant few exceptions, the legacy media are silent on the issue. ...
Follow the link to see video of Cooper's frusteration with the obfuscation of "the most transparent administration ever." Update 7/14/10: Today in the House of Representatives Democrats blocked a measure that would ensure media access to the oil spill. What are they trying to hide? Washington Examiner

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Dependence on foreign oil - rigs are leaving

Dependence on foreign oil must be an Obama policy. His unthought-through ban on off-shore deep oil drilling is having his desired effect. If he severely limits US production of oil, then we have to import to fuel his fleet of limos and fleet of helicopters and fleet of jet aircraft. Houston Chronicle
WASHINGTON — Diamond Offshore announced Friday that its Ocean Endeavor drilling rig will leave the Gulf of Mexico and move to Egyptian waters immediately — making it the first to abandon the United States in the wake of the BP oil spill and a ban on deep-water drilling. And the Ocean Endeavor's exodus probably won't be the last, according to oil industry officials and Gulf Coast leaders who warn that other companies eager to find work for the now-idled rigs are considering moving them outside the U.S. Devon Energy Corp. had been leasing the Endeavor to drill in the same region of the Gulf as BP's leaking Macondo well, which has been gushing crude since a lethal blowout April 20. But Diamond announced Friday it will lease the rig through June 30, 2011, to Cairo-based Burullus Gas Co., which plans to send the Endeavor to Egyptian waters immediately. Devon is one of three companies that has cited the deep-water drilling ban in trying to ease out of contracts to lease Diamond rigs. Diamond, a drilling company, said it expects to make about $100 million from the deal, including a $31 million early termination fee it recovered from Devon. Larry Dickerson, CEO of Houston-based Diamond, signaled that other of his company's rigs could be relocated, too. "As a result of the uncertainties surrounding the offshore drilling moratorium, we are actively seeking international opportunities to keep our rigs fully employed," Dickerson said. "We greatly regret the loss of U.S. jobs that will result from this rig relocation."
Loss of jobs, too.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Obama pushes Islam science and mathematics

President Obama told NASA administrator Bolden that one of his three top priorities was to help the Muslim world feel good about their contribution to science, mathematics and engineering. [list corrected] SF Examiner Oh, the NASA administrator must have nothing to do. But... what contribution? Bernard Lewis wrote a book about Islam - What Went Wrong?: The Clash Between Islam and Modernity in the Middle East In it he recounts how the Muslims were sure that their society was superior to all others. But they started losing. Dropping back in music and government didn't bother them. Dropping far behind in science was no big deal. But when they started losing battles that was different. It caught their attention. Back to science. Islamic scientists were at the forefront 1,000 years ago. But then they stopped. I guess MGen. Bolden should lead the investigation into why they stopped their science inquiries. NRO - based on Lewis:
In the 16th century, astronomer Taqī al-Dīn built one of the world’s great observatories in Istanbul. It rivaled that of the pioneering Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe — while it lasted. “Taqī al-Dīn’s observatory was razed to the ground by a squad of Janissaries, by order of the sultan, on the recommendation of the Chief Mufti,” Bernard Lewis writes in his book What Went Wrong? “This observatory had many predecessors in the lands of Islam; it had no successors until the age of modernization.” NASA administrator Charles Bolden caused a furor when he revealed that President Obama had directed him “to reach out to the Muslim world and engage much more with predominantly Muslim nations to help them feel good about their historic contribution to science . . . and math and engineering.” This shouldn’t be hard to do, so long as Bolden is well versed in accomplishments rising out of the Middle East many centuries ago. It gave us what we know as Arabic numerals (although they originated in India). It gave us algebra and the rudiments of trigonometry. It gave us medical pioneers in the tenth and eleventh centuries. (A significant proportion of these scientists and physicians were Christians and Jews, according to Lewis — a fact Bolden had best keep to himself.) It’s wonderful to feel good about the work of Ibn Sīnā of Bukhara, who compiled an indispensable medical encyclopedia before his death in 1037, but it implicitly raises the question of what Muslim science has done for us over the last millennium or so. ...

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Arthur Brooks at Town Hall 7/12

Arthur Brooks, President of American Enterprise Institute, will be speaking at Townhall next Monday evening on Free Enterprise vs. Big Government. Townhall Monday July 12 - 7:30 PM - Tickets $5 at the door or see Townhall for presales options. His thesis is explained in his recent book "The Battle." Hugh Hewitt speaks about Brooks and his book at Washington Examiner:
... It is the other BP that is heating up public opinion -- the Beltway People. And if you would like to know in detail why this BP has the collective temperature of voters rising, [...] my interview with Arthur Brooks, president of the American Enterprise Institute, about his new book, "The Battle: How the Fight between Free Enterprise and Big Government Will Shape America's Future." ... Brooks' book is a relatively short, very sharply argued explanation of how the 30 percent in this 70/30 nation of ours has come to control the federal government and many of the largest state governments, and in the process driven us to the point of a national fiscal stroke. The 30 percent are the statists, the chattering class and their colleagues in academic and government employ, plus the government-dependent and a very large slice of the youth vote. Brooks details who they are and how they intend to grow their grip on the country. The 70 percent are the rest of us, a mass that is coalescing into a potent political force that will be revealed fully on Nov. 2, 2010. Brooks makes a compelling moral case for rolling back the vast creep of the 30 percent, whose regulatory and tax policies have spread like the oil slick in the Gulf, inexorably and continually for a very long time, creating enormous damage across the country, but damage that can and must be repaired. That repair is under way in New Jersey, where the least likely candidate for Mr. Charisma, Gov. Chris Christie, has emerged as a star of YouTube and talk radio for simply speaking truth to the power of public employee unions and their shills in the media who push the unions' cliched narrative. Voters know the score, and they are cheering Christie's passionate embrace of "Enough!" ...

Mom in tennis shoes gets big money from lobbyists

Patty went to D.C. as a different kind of senator, the "mom in tennis shoes." That was then. Now she is the Beltway establishment. She is up there with friendly Harry Reid in money coming from lobbyists. Seattle Times
... Today lobbyists top the list of Murray's donors as she seeks her fourth term. Among the top six Democrats in the Senate leadership, only Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has collected more money than Murray from lobbyists and their firms since 2005, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a Washington, D.C., nonprofit that tracks money and politics. Yet even Reid receives a smaller share of his overall donations from lobbyists than Murray does. What's more, Murray's congressional colleagues now rank among her biggest financial supporters. She has received $287,700 since 2005 from "leadership" PACs, a popular but controversial vehicle for members of Congress to solicit donations that they then dole out to fellow lawmakers. It's a striking transformation for a woman whose annual Seattle fundraiser is called the "Golden Tennis Shoes Awards," a winking homage to the footwear that defined the early underdog status of the Bothell "mom in tennis shoes." And the lobbyist donations attest to the power of incumbency — even in a year when incumbency appears ripe for voter backlash.
The dedicated employees of lobbying firms plus her own "leadership PAC:"
On Murray's list of top-10 contributors are two lobbying firms. Employees at Denny Miller Associates of Washington, D.C., have given $84,200 since 2005. Miller lobbies on behalf of a wide range of clients in Washington state, including Boeing, the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe and Swedish Medical Center, as well as defense contractors. The other firm is McBee Strategic Consulting, whose founder, Steve McBee, once worked for U.S. Rep. Norm Dicks, D-Bremerton. The firm's president of Northwest operations is Rick Desimone, Murray's former chief of staff. McBee has given $58,600 since 2005 to Murray's campaign and to her PAC. M-PAC is the 16th-largest leadership PAC in the Senate, with $435,000 in contributions between January 2009 and April 2010. Murray has dipped into M-PAC to support a host of Democratic candidates and groups. Recipients include Reid, the Senate majority leader; Senate Policy Chairman Sen. Byron Dorgan; and the political-action committee of Planned Parenthood. Murray's Washington state colleague in the Senate, Maria Cantwell, is one of 13 senators who do not operate a leadership PAC. McGehee, the campaign-finance expert, believes that leadership PACs represent influence peddling at its worst: Donors give to curry favors with a lawmaker, who for the same reason then funnels the money to fellow politicians.
From Bothell? Maybe she lives there now. She started in Shoreline before it was a city and the Shoreline School District board. Her time as a "teacher" was as a typical mother in a co-op preschool; the same preschool, though not at the same time, as our daughter.

Smart energy use - Calico Energy Services of Woodinville

I like people who create new ways to save energy or to get more use out of the same amount. Here is a Seattle-area company helping electric utilities and their customers. Seattle Times ... Shocking increase: Consumer demand for electricity has increased. On a parallel track, the slow economy has people looking for ways to save. Calico offers the ability to monitor electric usage and shut it down when it isn't needed. Static behavior: The Calico system takes advantage of the "smart grid," where energy supplies are allocated to the areas of greatest need at peak usage times. Where a large office building needs air conditioning on a hot day, a house may not. Calico makes it possible for utilities to let customers purchase electricity at a cheaper rate if they, for example, defer doing the laundry on a hot afternoon.

Use it or lose it: The need to balance usage levels comes from a system in which electricity must be used shortly after it's generated. The development of more efficient storage systems could change this. "We need to take advantage of the supply of electricity and use it more efficiently," Dawson said. ...

Monday, July 05, 2010

Detained for competent and courteous driving

You must be hiding something because you are obeying the traffic laws. Arab News - Saudi Arabia 777 pilot says his passengers appreciate him following the rules. But the Jeddah police don't? They detained him for two hours and emptied his car.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Independence Day

IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776. The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America, When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation. We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.--Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world. He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good. He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them. He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only. He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures. He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people. He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within. He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands. He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers. He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries. He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance. He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures. He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power. He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us. He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people. He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation. He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands. He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people. Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends. We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor. US Archives

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Put dead wealth to work for growth

We sure need some growth in our economy. Rich Karlgaard, the publisher of Forbes Magazine says there is a lot of wealth in America that is not invested. Being not invested it is sitting "idle;" putting it to work will help our economy going. He also hits tax rates and government spending, but his focus is on the wealth we can get to work. He has a colorful term for this problem. Here is a highlight:


... I would argue that Treasury Bills, gold holdings and an ANWR that is off limits to drilling are examples of dead wealth--that is, stored wealth that could create more wealth if put to proper use.

A current example of relatively dead wealth is the $1.2 trillion of cash and cash equivalents held by American publicly traded companies. In aggregate, the balance sheets of these companies have never been stronger. But that wealth is relatively dead. It is not being deployed for growth as aggressively as you might expect in the early days of an economic recovery. To bluntly switch metaphors, American corporations have a $1.2 trillion constipation problem.
The photo: OK, this is weak. Rich owns and flies a Cirrus light aircraft.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

BP corporate "look good" safety culture

People working inside and with BP have been very concerned about the corporate culture regarding safety for years. BP has been long on the "looks good" safety, but very short on incorporating safety into the real value system people use for decision making every day - both short-term and long-term. Andrew B Wilson talks to people involved at Weekly Standard: Feel good: $200 million for rebranding. "Donations" to powerful politicians, etc. Safety in operations:
... a growing disillusionment with the company. In looking back over the last few years at BP, Houston was distressed at the way that corporate downsizing exercises seemed to target the best and most seasoned engineers. He was further distressed that BP had slashed the maintenance budget for the vast and aged Forties Alpha platform to a dangerous, even reckless extent, providing the platform’s operating engineers with less than 80 percent of the money they considered necessary to ensure the rig’s safety. He regarded the fine as risible and worried that it would only reinforce the prevailing complacency within the company. And finally, he told me over the course of several interviews, he was distressed by an abundance of rhetoric—coming from the CEO—about BP going “beyond petroleum” and joining the environmental activists in campaigning for reduced carbon emissions. “To me and everyone I knew, it didn’t make any sense. We were a petroleum company. That wasn’t going to change any time soon, and it wasn’t anything to be ashamed of, either. All the talk about windmills and solar power was just PR and a lot of nonsense.” In short, Houston no longer trusted the company to do the right thing. As someone who grew up idolizing the company, he came to the reluctant conclusion that BP itself was an accident waiting to happen: It was taking on increasingly ambitious exploration and production challenges, while demonstrating an increasingly indifferent or cavalier attitude toward engineering discipline and excellence. On top of all that, senior management seemed less than fully engaged in the difficult task of extracting and producing petroleum.
BTW: No posting yesterday -- Our neighbor at our cabin has been lax in providing us free internet access with their wifi spilling over. I better put the fear in him. No. I offered to buy him a wifi router since his broke.