Friday, February 25, 2011

Wisconsin children rant

The Wisconsin House of Representatives passed the bill that limits the power of public-employee unions. The children, I mean Democrats, reacted with a temper tantrum. This video at this link shows them in their childish behavior.

Washington Examiner

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Idaho and home

In a hurry to find a place in Twin Falls ID picked a cheaper no-name place. Never again. They closed the office around 7 pm and wouldn't answer the phone. I never got the wifi password.

Pleasant thru Idaho. Threat of snow in Oregon mtns. But none.

Chains required on Snoq pass so spent night in Ellensburg east of Cascades. It was snowing there at 5:30 am so we took off. Bad at first in dark and no snow plowing. Better higher where plowed. We used our chains because traction tires required. Mostly blue skies over the summit.

Fresh snow all the way home. Home at 10 am.

I posted this using blog software on my IPhone.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


The evening in L Vegas with a long-time co-worker. After living there a year they have a long list of complaints - hit&run accidents because people don't get car insurance because it is very expensive. Of course thats because people drive lousy and drunk. That's one of a long list.

Nevada is long. But the day was beautiful and mountains visible every mile.

After we entered Idaho we got a little snow. Night in Twin Falls.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Obama gave us an opening

In his own words Obama "acted stupidly." He took sides with the well-paid public union workers against the public who pay their bills.

James Capua at American Thinker

... the Obama gang seeks to exploit an opening that is actually much smaller than it appears, while underestimating the soundness of their opponents' position in the battle over collective bargaining for public employee unions in Wisconsin. This miscalculation exposes the Democrats' weak fiscal management flank to a crushing blow from the opposition if the national Republicans and their eventual presidential campaign can manage and sustain it.

He gave an opening to those trying to balance state budgets. Take it!

Chandler, Gilbert and Phoenix

We spent 9 days in Chandler and Gilbert, Arizona with trips to Phoenix and Scottsdale. Our hosts planned to take us to high, cool Paysan, but the appointed day was rainy below and snowy above it was a poor day to go and we didn't.

The streets in Chandler-Gilbert are unbelievably wide. Wandering side streets easily carry one lane with parking on both sides. The arterials are mostly six lane plus turn lanes at major intersections. Speed limit is often 45.
Housing: We are staying in a 2300 square-foot home with high ceilings and triple garage and back yard about 25 feet deep. It has "Arizona style" with adobe and tile roof. I like it. A house with the same characteristics on a nearby quiet street is for sale by the bank - asking $209,000. Real estate brochures list NEW homes for UNDER $100,000.
Empty houses: yes. New and old. And there are large, vacant tracts waiting to be developed.
Malls: Large, grand ones; smaller ones; strip malls. Everywhere.
Walking: Not so good. Where we are the distances are too large to get anywhere in less than a mile, except for small private parks between the houses, which are owned by the neighborhood association; they are always set low because they receive the runoff of heavy rainfalls. I sure like being half a mile from shopping and three blocks from a major walking/biking trail, the Burke-Gilman Trail.

On the road: to Las Vegas today. Different route home to see old work friend Marc.
Photo: House built the same as the one selling for $209,000. Click to enlarge.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Cairo-like demonstrations move to Wisconsin but opposite purpose

Madison, Wisconsin, is a mess now. The teachers are on an illegal strike, so they can go harass the now-Republican Governor and Legislature. But they don't want representative government, like in Egypt. They are against it. They are fighting in opposition to the outcome of the November, 2010, election.

The Hill

Protests that have consumed Wisconsin's state Capitol are similar to the heated pro-democracy demonstrations in Cairo, Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan (R) said Thursday.

Large crowds of public workers have descended on Madison, the state capital, to voice their opposition to Republican Gov. Scott Walker's plan to make them pay for their health insurance and pension benefits. Ryan said the demonstrators are reminiscent of the crowds that forced Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak out of power, even though he praised Walker's plan.

"He's getting riots. It's like Cairo's moved to Madison these days," Ryan said of Walker on MSNBC. "It's just — all of this demonstration. It's fine, people should be able to express their way. But we've got to get this deficit and debt under control."

Threats against Wisconsin governor and class warfare

Newly elected Governor Walker of Wisconsin has received death threats. Also Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch and two State Senators. From right-wingers? After all they are the only group who would do such a thing and CNN said so.

But no one is speaking about the source. Strange. If it were the right they would be shouting from the rooftops.

But the battle out in the open is public employees demanding maintaining or raising spending levels and not having to pay more for their generous benefits.


I could not find any follow up, but the following item. I couldn't find any active conservative blogs in Wisconsin.

Public employees held a demonstration on the lawn of Gov. Walker's home, while he was at work. And the Milwaukee teachers held and illegal strike Wednesday; so many called in sick that they had to close the schools. Milwaukee Journal Sentinal

More: The public-employee unions are threatening "class warfare." Source: The Cap Times, which says it's progressive.

See also: The thugs come out in Wisconsin - Jay Nordlinger at National Review Online- And: Which side are you on? - Scott Johnson at PowerLine Blog

Monday, February 14, 2011

Indiana controls; Washington spends

Austin Jenkins for Public Radio compared Washington to Indiana since they are about the same size at his web site/blog.

Budget: Indiana has a $270 million budget problem this year. Wow! Our leaders (all Democrats) got us into a huge hole.

Employees: He found that state employment outside education has shrunk about 20 per cent in Indiana since 2005, while it has grown in Washington. The only number he gives for Washington is since 1985 - up 46% - but our employment has continued growth in recent years, not shrunk. But Indiana's state employee number has shrunk to the same as 1975!

Employee unions and contracting: Washington State employees were allowed to organize and bargain in exchange for an increase in private contracting. But the bargain has been severely one sided - limited by the employees. Washington Policy Center - Columbian Newspaper They have been allowed to stop the contracting - by their collective bargaining!

The Legislature should either enforce the bargain or end it - end both sides. The one side was never allowed to develop, so this will mean stopping collective bargaining.

The Washington Ledge

A small step for nuclear power

Obama's minions are taking a small, bold step toward nuclear power. If they are so concerned about greenhouse gases and global cooling, I mean, warming, they need to use this nonemitting power source

NY Times

The Obama administration’s 2012 budget proposal will include a request for money to help develop small “modular” reactors that would be owned by a utility and would supply electricity to a government lab, people involved in the effort say.

The department is hoping for $500 million over five years, half of the estimated cost to complete two designs and secure the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s approval. The reactors would be built almost entirely in a factory and trucked to a site like modular homes.

In promoting the reactor, the administration’s immediate goal is to help the Energy Department meet a federal target for reducing its carbon dioxide emissions by relying more on clean energy and less on gas and coal. Like other federal agencies, the department is required by an executive order to reduce its carbon footprint by 28 percent by 2020.

Yet the longer-term goal is to foster assembly-line production of the small reactors at a far lower cost than construction of conventional reactors. The reactors could even replace old coal-fired power plants that are threatened by new federal emissions rules and sit on sites that already have grid connections and cooling water.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Wisconsin teachers accept reform

The teachers' union in Wisconsin has endorsed real education reform - rewarding teachers based on performance and the evaluation system that supports it...

Wisconsin State Journal

WEAC President Mary Bell...

Calling the current pay model, which rewards longevity and educational degrees, "outdated and not connected to quality outcomes," Bell announced support for a new model that rewards teachers based on performance, national certification, taking leadership roles, more difficult assignments such as bilingual or special education, and working in poorly performing schools.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Utah to Arizona

We took a side trip in Utah to a treasure - Bryce Canyon National Park. It's a 20x2 miles side trip, but we had been there before and knew it was worth it (especially for one lucky to have a National Parks senior pass). The hoodoos are amazing. Differential erosion caused thousands of little castles and/or featureless people. Just 20 minutes viewing the "silent city" at Inspiration Point is worth the side trip. And it was a beautiful day and a foot or two of recent snow made it more beautiful.

Utah maintained its reputation. There were mountains visible from border to border and it was always beautiful to a mountain lover like me. After we got into Arizona we had 20 or so dull miles, then mountains again most all the way to Phoenix. Phoenix has mountains, but only one really big one - Camelback.

And our first day was bright sun and near 80!

The photo: A typical view: Because Bryce is amphitheaters on the edge of a plateau, most viewing is looking down like this, unless you hike down into it. Click to enlarge.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Big Rock Candy Mountain Utah

I have memories of the song "Big Rock Candy Mountain" from the 1950s. On the other hand, here in Richfield, Utah, big Rock Candy Mountain is a few miles south. On reading the words to the song in their local tourist slick magazine, I see that my memory of the song is very vague.

Big Rock Candy Mountain is heaven for hoboes. It is for bums who don't (or minimally) support themselves. It's the place where every box car has room for another illegal hitchhiker and the railway security "bulls" are blind. It has all a hobo's needs. A cigarette tree. Liquor flows down the cliffs. There is a pool of stew and one of whiskey too, which you can traverse in a canoe.

And for decades I thought the song was about a mountain of candy.
[photo coming]

Idaho and Utah

Through NE Oregon. The night by Boise airport. Detour to see the bridge in Twin Falls ID. Nearing Utah at noon.

Expanding on that IPhone post done at 75 mph. Central Idaho had some dull, flat areas, but always with distant mountains visible. But Utah! Utah has been beautiful every mile. The view got real good while still in Idaho and there have been good looking mountain all the way. The only negative was construction south of Salt Lake City. The freeway was under construction for at least 20 miles - lower speed limit, narrower lanes, but not much work going on. Why degrade 20 miles of freeway when only working on a few spots?

We stopped at Richfield, Utah about 2/3 down the state.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

To Boise and

On the road seeking sunshine and some warmth. Wednesday to Boise, Idaho; Thursday to the middle of Utah; Friday to Chandler, Arizona - the SE side of the Phoenix area.

Posted from my IPhone.

Containing Islamic Radicalism

United Kingdom has a wise leader. David Cameron expertly separate the radicals from mainstream Islam at a conference in Munich this week.


Real Clear Politics

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Social psychologists create "tribal" hostile climate for non-liberals

"... social psychologists are a “tribal-moral community” united by “sacred values” that hinder research and damage their credibility — and blind them to the hostile climate they’ve created for non-liberals."

Jonathan Haidt, a University of Virginia psychologist - one of their own - called out his professional colleagues for their narrow thinking, an accusation that they use on everyone else, but couldn't imagine being applied to themselves. But he first showed them by a demonstration within his audience that day.

He polled his audience for political leaning. At least 80% identified themselves as liberal, a few dozen as center or libertarian, and 3 bold individuals publicly admitted to being conservative. That is a huge departure from the US population as a whole - about 20 per center liberal and 40 per center conservative.

Whenever the social psychologists see that kind of difference they look for bias and the cause of the bias. Touché!

What will they do? Shun him like Daniel Patrick Moynihan was in the 1960s for telling the truth about black families? Get him fired like Larry Summers who was President of Harvard University when he asked the off-limits question "Are fewer women math professors because men have a higher percentage at the high end (also at the low end) of mathematics ability? Question not allowed.

(The sex-difference assumption was again contradicted in a study released this week by two Cornell U psychologits.)

To overcome taboos, he advised them to subscribe to National Review and to read Thomas Sowell’s “A Conflict of Visions.”

They were nice to him - acted nice - and gave him a very small token. They changed two letters on their organization "diversity initiative" page.

John Tierney at NY Times

Monday, February 07, 2011

President Reagan

Remember our great 40th president, Ronald Reagan.

I am trying a blogging tool on my IPhone.

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Bipartisanship in Olympia!

There was a tectonic shift in Olympia yesterday. The Senate Democrats allowed the Republicans to take part in crafting state policy. Elections do have consequences. Their margin is smaller - and the problems are larger.

They put together relief for businesses on unemployment and the state budget - together. Now are the Democrats in the House ready to move ahead with the bipartisan bills? Or will they insist on taking the full burden, credit and blame on themselves?

Erik Smith Washington State Wire
What happened on the unemployment bill was most dramatic. Lawmakers rejected a move by the state’s labor unions that would have increased their leverage later in this year’s legislative session. The Senate passed SB 5135 in the form originally proposed by Gov. Christine Gregoire, providing a $300 million tax break for businesses, and allowing the state to use federal money to provide extended unemployment benefits for 69,000 of the state’s long-term jobless.

At the same time, the Senate passed a spending-cut bill that is remarkable for the fact that it was crafted by both Republicans and Democrats. Until this year, Republicans have been shut out of the process.

Those are the broad strokes of what lawmakers did Friday – but it took plenty of arm-breaking to get them there.

...[On unemployment] The real fight in the Senate came two days ago, when Republicans and centrist Democrats teamed up and shot down an unemployment bill that had been crafted to labor’s liking in the Senate Labor and Commerce committee. It was a moment of high drama, as Senate Democratic leaders urged members to stay in line and six Democrats said no.

The Budget
The budget measure, House Bill 1086, didn’t provoke the same sort of fight – mainly because Democratic leaders knew it was coming and reached across the aisle in advance. Lawmakers this year are struggling to cut projected state spending by a whopping $5 billion, and Senate Ways and Means Chairman Ed Murray, of Seattle, brought in the Senate Republicans’ budget guru, Joe Zarelli of Ridgefield.
This one takes a modest step toward the goal, closing the gap by $394 million through a combination of fund transfers and spending cuts in the current 2009-11 budget. The big debates come later.

But because Republicans were included, the result was a spending-cut bill that incorporates a number of ideas the GOP has advocated. Among other things, it maintains the state’s Basic Health Plan for the working poor, but it imposes a freeze on new enrollments and an eligibility requirement. It also cuts state stipends for the disabled under the state’s “Disability Lifeline” program, but maintains medical benefits. The measure passed the Senate 38-9
Can the House work together also? Obama wants Bipartisanship. Read Smith for the full account.

Obama corruption - cronyism on global warming

Obama forced through strict law on greenhouse gas emissions. Then let his political helpers off the hook a month later. This is corrupt, crony government.

The new way is the Chicago way.

Washington Examiner

Last month, the Obama EPA began enforcing new rules regulating the greenhouse gas emissions from any new or expanded power plants.

This week, the EPA issued its first exemption, Environment & Energy News reports:

The Obama administration will spare a stalled power plant project in California from the newest federal limits on greenhouse gases and conventional air pollution, U.S. EPA says in a new court filing that marks a policy shift in the face of industry groups and Republicans accusing the agency of holding up construction of large industrial facilities.

According to a declaration by air chief Gina McCarthy, officials reviewed EPA policies and decided it was appropriate to "grandfather" projects such as the Avenal Power Center, a proposed 600-megawatt power plant in the San Joaquin Valley, so they are exempted from rules such as new air quality standards for smog-forming nitrogen dioxide (NO2).

There's something interesting about the Avenal Power Center:

The proposed Avenal Energy project will be a combined-cycle generating plant consisting of two natural gas-fired General Electric 7FA Gas Turbines with Heat Recovery Steam Generators (HRSG) and one General Electric Steam Turbine.

Maybe GE CEO Jeff Immelt's closeness to President Obama, and his broad support for Obama's agenda, had nothing to do with this exemption.

What a coincidence. Strict rules for everyone but Obama's political friend.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Peters: No Muslim Brotherhood takeover in Egypt

Col. Ralph Peters on Michael Medved tells why the MB is unlikely to takeover the government. The people you see in the streets are wearing jeans and windbreakers - Westernized people - not full beards and ankle-length robes of fundamentalists.

Family Security Matters "Denial on the Nile"

Chicago! Oh!!

They know how to handle snow in Chicago. But Tuesday's storm overwhelmed even the tough Chicagoans.

Lakeshore drive was filled with abandoned cars (and some whose drivers spent the night in place). The first photo looks routine, until you realize that those cars are sitting - the freeway full.

The second photo shows the same scene. Well, they don't seem to have the same number of lanes. But the latter does show what the first scene was like, according to a woman who spent 13 hours in her car!

CBS Chicago

Nisqually Wildlife Refuge new boardwalk

It's a good day for wildlife enthusiasts and all-around explorers, like me. They broke the dikes at the Nisqually River, just north(and east) of Olympia. Doing so took away one great walk. Now they took the next step and built a new boardwalk.

Olympian Newspaper

I am still learning the new ecto - inserting a photo I have. "Error: Flicker failed;" probably didn't try very hard. The old, cumbersome way still works.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Ferry workers defend triple overtime and pay for driving to work

Monday in OlympiaFerry union representatives defended overpaying workers with triple overtime and pay to drive to work in Legislative hearings. HB 1511 and SB 5405 would end practices that allow ferry workers pay that makes no sense; both had hearings.

Source: Radio news, Tuesday morning

King TV exposed this corrupt mess last year. See Washington Ferries and Political Decisions by Hammond.

See Warnings of pay-check padding ignored by state ferries

See Broke ferry system paying huge salaries to fortunate few

More Union News

Many state-worker labor unions get paid for collective bargaining. We, the taxpayers, are being taken. We are paying for work they are not doing while they are demanding more money - from us.

Source: EFF WA

When Harry Reid's lips are moving

You know he is lying When Harry Reid's lips are moving.

He claims ObamaCare saved $4 billion in health care fraud during 2010. But, Harry, it was voted in, but didn't take effect yet. And Fixcal 2010 ended September 30, so this effect is from earlier actions.

In deed the part of HHS that released the number says this is the result of a new program started in 2009.

Fact Checker at Washington Post

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Visualize this data - Hans Rosling

He animates 200 years of development in income and health. "200 countries, 200 years, 4 minutes." It is an amazing visualization.

On the BBC Four program "The Joy of Stats" with video at Flixxy. Watch it!

…And the same data you can work with at GapMinder World. There are a dozen or so sets of data that can be scatter-plotted against each other.

And he has more data and tools at

Click to enlarge the image.

Ecto versus Blogger

Ecto is the blogging tool I have used for several years. It is a good tool; I like it.

But version 3 does ridiculous things for those of us using Google's Blogger. It puts in extra line breaks, then more, then more. Until you have one paragraph per screen.

Fix it? This version has been out - I just discovered - for close to two years. And Blogger is very popular. Fix it? They have not.

Nancy, this is serious

Nancy Pelosi forced ObamaCare through despite its unpopularity and concerns that parts of it were unconstitutional. When asked about unconstitutionality she responded, "Are you serious?" From her perch in San Francisco only a nut would follow the constraints of the US Constitution, which Boss* Nancy swore to uphold.

Betsey McCaughey on the court ruling against Nancy's monster at NY Post

... But there's a solid chance that the whole ObamaCare law may be null and void.

Just minutes after the president signed the law on March 23, 2010, Florida filed a lawsuit challenging its constitutionality. Now 26 states have joined that challenge, with more coming on weekly.

Vinson ruled yesterday that Congress can't compel people to buy health insurance. More important, he found that -- in clear keeping with the intent of Congress -- that makes the whole law void.

Typically, complex laws contain a "severability clause," saying that if a court strikes down one part, all other parts remain enforceable. But ObamaCare's authors insisted that without mandatory insurance, the law's other provisions wouldn't work -- and removed the severability clause before the law was passed.

Vinson relied on what Congress members and the administration said in defense of the mandate to reason that without it, the rest of the law won't work. He compared the 2,600-page law to a precision watch whose many parts operate in tandem: If one part can't work, none can. Another metaphor would be a house of cards.

So the judge followed what the Democratics said - ObamaCare would fall apart if the insurance mandate were removed. They made their bed; now they must sleep in it.

* We call her "Boss" because she learned from her father who was a political boss in Baltimore. She knows raw power. Period.

I am using a new version of ecto, the blogging software, so I have some surprises about formatting. And it crashes repeatedly.