Thursday, April 30, 2009
To be clear, I'm not saying that anything illegal is taking place - or at least I hope nothing illegal is going on here. These companies have plenty of resources at their disposal to write stunning responses to the government's requests for proposals which is the entry point. Once in, the government does a poor job at managing the risk and slippage on the contracts. Clearly they want the solution they sought but at some point the sunk cost is indefensible. This is probably where we are with the 2010 Census. Harris Corporation was awarded the contract for the system to collect the census data but have failed big time (read a good piece on it here).
Asks Douglas Holtz-Eakin.
Let’s turn the clock back to the 2008 campaign and ask the question: If Barack Obama had run for office promising to deliver one-third of the Big Three automakers to the unions and drop another one-third on the backs of taxpayers, would people have approved? Yet, remarkably, that is what is in the offing as a result of the Administration’s policies.
This is madness.
The Administration’s approach puts it squarely in the position of picking winners and losers in restructuring. It permits the White House to dictate on political criteria in a way that market-based solutions would not. It is entirely consistent with using tax policy to drive income redistribution, energy policy to reward favored supplies and technologies, and infrastructure policy to support the states and localities of choice. Political connections will replace entrepreneurial spirit and risk-taking as the key ingredient for economic advancement.
Permitting courts to cram down residential mortgage debt would have further exacerbated the current crisis. If we believe the Obama Administration, tight credit is prolonging this downturn. However, if President Obama's proposal had passed, banks would be even less likely to lend. Banks already risked (and got burned by) declining housing values turning loan to value ratios upside down. Banks did not, however, risk courts arbitrarily resetting terms and conditions in residential mortgages. Increasing uncertainty as to the value of a bank's mortgage portfolio is no way to build investor confidence in the financial sector.
If President Obama's scheme had become law, banks would have rationally lent only to high credit score borrowers in areas with stable property values. Millions of people would be shut out of the housing market, unable to borrow money, particularly folks in locales where property values rise (or fall) precipitously. 'Puter's looking at you California, Florida, Las Vegas and Michigan.
So, 'Puter must say thanks to the United States Senate for doing its job, preserving the rule of law.
*Above, even a former Klan member and current Democrat Senator like Robert Byrd knows a bad law when he sees it.
When asked about the growing Everything Shall Die terror of the Swine Flu, POTUS Obama wants everyone to stay calm. Everyone should rest assured that this government is prepared to do whatever it takes to control the impact of this virus...This is a cause for deep concern, but not panic. The Czar agrees.
On the other hand, Joe Whoops Biden urges panic. I would tell members of my familyand I haveI wouldnt go anywhere in confined places right now! Its not that its going to Mexico, its that you are in a confined aircraft when one person sneezes, it goes everywhere through the aircraft. Thats me....I would not be... at this point, if they had another way of transportation, suggesting they ride the subway. From my perspective, it relates to...is mitigation. If youre out in the middle of a field and someone sneezes, thats one thing. If youre in a closed aircraft, a closed container, closed car, a closed classroom, its a different thing,
Rapidly countered Biden spokesperson Elizabeth What The Veep Meant To Say Alexander, The advice he is giving family members is the same advice the administration is giving to all Americans: that they should avoid unnecessary air travel to and from Mexico. If they are sick, they should avoid airplanes and other confined public spaces, such as subways. This is the advice the vice president has given family members who are traveling by commercial airline this week.
Well, that may be what he was supposed to say, and maybe he was thinking of saying at some point before, during, or after, but the Vice President did sayand the Czar is pretty certain because he is reading it right off the page herethat VP Biden presently advises against any travel in a confied space, not limited to Mexico, but anywhere, including an aircraft, container, car, or even a classroom. He is not advising his family, either, but told them what he personally is doing.
The VP is aware of the same information that the Czar and every Gormogon reader is: the numbers involved with Swine Flu do not justify the ridiculous hysteria that is going on in the media right now. Either VP Biden is intentionally fear-mongering (bad), or he is allowing the media to terrify him with over-reporting (bad), or is a neurotic freak (very bad). Which is it? And why?
In related news, the WHO has agreed to change the name of the virus to the H1N1A virus, due to protests from swine, who believe they are being unfairly maligned by conservative capitalists.
It's this pesky little "rule of law" thing that keeps coming up.
At the risk of being trite, if Americans continue to stand idly by as the Obama Administration destroys our settled business law and precedent, there will be no one left to stand up when the Obama Administration comes for rights that matter to us.
*Above, Secretary Geithner arrives to testify before the House Banking Committee.
But if you don't believe 'Puter, take "an administration official's" word for it from this Washington Post article, also linked in post below.
An administration official this morning expressed disappointment, saying the holdouts had failed to "do the right thing," but that "their failure to act in either their own economic interest or the national interest does not diminish the accomplishments made by Chrysler, Fiat and its stakeholders, nor will it impede the new opportunity Chrysler now has to restructure and emerge stronger going forward.
This language, coming from the executive branch, should terrify Americans. This cowardly unnamed official makes several brash statements and assumptions, including: (1) the government has unique knowledge of the "right thing" for private participants in an arms' length transaction in a capitalist economy; (2) secured creditors are failing to act in their own economic interest by insisting on maximizing recovery for their investors by insisting the rule of law be followed; and (3) it is in the national interest to extrajudicially impose conditions on an existing contract freely entered in to.
For all who wish to see, the Obama Administration is showing its true colors. President Obama knows better than you do what is right for you, and he is willing to use government power to cow you into compliance with his diktat. This administration's attitude has done much to frighten investors out of the economy, thereby hindering recovery.
'Puter doesn't expect you to listen to believe his prescient rantings. At least until the Obama Administration starts bullying you, too.
Treasury's boy wonder, Secretary Geithner managed to whip creditor banks that received TARP funds into submission, requiring these banks to accept less than they would receive in liquidation.
But Geithner was unable to bully the hedge fund creditors (holders of approximately 30% of Chrysler's debt). Why? Because the camel of taxpayer money hadn't gotten its nose under the hedge funds' tent. Geithner had no leverage. So, the hedge funds, being capitalists, did what they do so well. They insisted on receiving the full benefit of their bargain for their investors.
That is, as holders of senior secured debt, the hedge funds know essentially the liquidation value of their debt in bankruptcy. Geithner apparently offered significantly less in his proposal, and the hedge funds (presumably politely) told Treasury where it could stick its proposal, and that the hedge funds would see Chrysler in bankruptcy court.
Why is 'Puter happy about this? Because the hedge funds, despite myriad failings, have struck a blow for sanity and the rule of law in our country. 'Puter applauds anyone gutsy enough to stand up to the populist and popular creeping nationalization of our economy.
So God bless the hedge funds.
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
And Muscovy is a sleepy hamlet West of Chicago.
Please refer to your Czars title, below:
Божію Поспѣшествующею Милостію Мы, Дима Грозный Императоръ и Самодержецъ Всероссiйскiй, цѣсарь Московскiй
See? Not Finland! The Czar does enjoy blondes, true, but pleaseif providing some, the Czar tends to be intimidated by women taller than himself for complex reasons that concern none but the Czar himself.
If Google can be trusted—and it can't—he could be a square-dance caller, a bathroom renovator, or a deceased Gestalt-based-education guru. The Gormogons admire mysteriousness.
Whoever you are, Mike, thanks for your interest in things Gormogonical. Just don't tell the Masons.
In the meantime, kiitos paljon, and hauska tavata!
Oh, and Mrs. GorT, who can count to ten in Finnish at the drop of a hat, adds, “polkupyöräpumppu!”
And with good reason: this movement is responsible for killing children.
Numerous web pages claim that vaccinations cause autism. Finally, for the first time, there is a single web page that, to the Czars knowledge, shoots down each and every single argument the anti-vax crowd makes. And not just shoot down: it takes each point and vivisects it with sharp, curvy knives.
If you have heard the anti-vax arguments, read this page. If you know of family or friends concerned about vaccination, urge them to read it fast.
Your Volgi received mail regarding the Czars recent post against the medias pathetic Swine Flu exploitation. He was kind enough to send it on to us, and here it is:
My Dad actually got West Nile virusand DIDNT die....It knocked him for a loop, though.
The Czar would like to respond to this person of great royal bearing, and offer a welcome здравствуйте! As a favored correspondent, she is clearly of superior intelligence and most justified in her benign rule of a large portion of the Northern Hemisphere.
The Czar is genuinely sorry, however, to hear about her father, but relieved that he recovered, as indeed most West Nile sufferers did. The encephalitis is probably what knocked him the most. Fortunately, West Nile has a very low mortality rate, and although your father did indeed suffer the effects of the virus, he was one of the rare ones to even get it!
Sadly, in 2005, the media declared that every mosquito bite in the world was instantly lethal, and shame on any parent who allows her children to play outside (a true death sentence!). However, in point of fact, West Nile was a horrible pandemic: if you were a crow. Only now, in the Czars home town of Muscovy, are we seeing the odd crow return to the skies where five years ago there were hundreds.
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Read this and think: since Friday last, based on national averages, 395 Americans have died of the common flu, and 2,740 have been hospitalized for the same. So here is the math: for each American who develops swine flu, as of right now, six Americans die of the plain old flu. For each American who is diagnosed with swine flu, 42 are hospitalized with regular flu. Swine flu is not a national priority, except that the media has decreed it thus.
After all, they were largely responsible for the hysteria of many other non-events in America, such as Legionnaires Disease, Ebola, Hanta, Flesh-Eating Necrosis, Bird Flu, SARS, Mad Cow, and the West Nile viri and/or diseases. Yes, real people died of these, and we are sorry for it. But only a small number of folks. Yet the media, you may recall, advised immediate panic, and suggested face masks, rapid immunizations (which depleted supplies needlessly), and stockpiling of goods. For this is clearly The End.
Of course, none of this common sense matters in the Age of Obama, for the POTUS has (you guess it) asked Congress for $1.5 billion to fight this disease. He is obviously unaware of the 50 million Tamiflu kits that have been stockpiled to treat what is currently 65 cases. As of right now, the President has allocated $23,076,923 for each sick person, many of whom are recovering without any treatment whatsoever, and the rest are responding to conventional treatment.
So what will this money do? Well, some of it is being spent coming up with a better name. SecDHS Janet Napolitano (who so far has managed to avoid blaming Canada or Veterans for the illness) and SecAg Tom Vilsack are suggesting the merrier H1N1 flu (a lot of thought went into this). Because we would not want the Swines to hate Americans the way they hated Bush.
Another portion of the cash will go to finding a vaccine, so that no one is inconvenienced by a disease so evil that even infected teenagers recover on their own with what the article frighteningly describes as sniffles.
And of course the vast remainder of the cash will simply disappear, as it has with much of the Obama administrations use of taxpayer money.
The Czar would like to start a rumor that POTUS Obama was heard to say, Lookthe press has been very good to me for no reason, so I thought it was time to return the favor and scare the bejeezus out of taxpayers into watching the news.
The Czar is not certain where to stand on this.
On the one side, the networks do not own the airwaves: the FCC does, and it has a duty and obligation to require content and material suitable for broadcasting. And if said requirement includes profanity-free family-friendly programming, thats what you, the networks, deliver. And yeah, if the FCC wants to ignore a string of expletives during an uncut broadcast version of Saving Private Ryan while jumping on an awards show because Cher let slippy-slip a naughty word, thats their prerogative, too...but the Czar expects the FCCs decision was not very capricious, given that Saving Private Ryan is a reasonably accurate pseudo-documentary that captures how soldiers talk(ed), and the latter was just some censor who heard the word with a multi-second delay but allowed it to continue through because he can no longer tell the difference between family programming and how air-headed celebrities speak.
But on the other side, the Czarprobably like youhas about 200 choices for television entertainment, of which 196 liberally use obscenities even for station promotional material (check out Comedy Central, evenings with the Cartoon Network, G4, and whatever that Logo network is). And thanks in part to the FCC, we are being pushed to a digital world, so that the number of people who actually receive only broadcast television is now less than five percent of the marketplace. The top four networks have some ground in their claim that they are being held to a decreasingly effective standard. Back in 2002, there was a rumor among some network executives that the only reason The Sopranos was crushing the competition and dominating the Emmys was because there were no FCC restrictions as to the content, allowing HBO to go all-out and use realistic dialogue and frighteningly graphic scenes of mob life. True or not, there is something to be said for the massive popularity of cable series versus the spiky and unpredictable viewership of repeititve slop shown on the broadcast networks. The Czar enjoyed the rich complexity of John Adams, and very much doubts that ABC could have done it. GorTechie could probably explain why BSG was a success versus, say, Enterprise.
Naturally, as a parent, the Czar believes it would be nice to have some television programming in which young children are not subjected to red-iron-hot words every few minutes. Indeed, that seems to be the FCCs opinion: lets do this for the kids watching.
But there are two problems with this.
- Even better than having three or four networks be largely profanity free, how about parents turn the television off and do something with them besides subjecting them to fleeting profanities? Problem solved. Monitor what your kids watch, or deal with the consequences of it, or just turn the thing off.
- How would a profranity-free three or four networks make the slightest bit of difference when kids have so many cable channels to watch, music to hear, movies to catch, and books to read that all feature profanities? We live in an age of mass communication. Censoring words in three or four networks, at this point, might be like cleaning three windows on a condemned house.
While conservatives may initially eschew the idea of letting the networks keep up with cable, and having all those nasty words pollute our kids ears, the real conservative view may be let em show what they want. Market forces will dominate: if the increasingly uncensored Two and a Half Men ratings tank suddenly, then you have your answer. If they remain high, or go higher, you gave the viewers what they want. Sink or swim. This works for the cable networks, and it can work for the broadcast networks. Equal competition.
The Czar remains uncertain. Let us know what you believe and why. Your Czar will happily publish the best emails.
Remember, there's a reason that the Egyptians jokingly call the Muslim Brotherhood, the Ikhwân al-Muslimîn, the Ikhwân al-Muhendisîn, the Brotherhood of Engineers.
So, if you’re Hu Chin-T'ao* or another of his confrères, do you decide you’d better whip up a couple good little land wars with your neighbors to be able to draft and kill off these potential troublemakers? Or do you send them abroad and hope they find foreign wives who keep them there? Given that you’re already looking at a potential demographic catastrophe due to your cratered birthrates, those old-school solutions aren’t anywhere near as attractive as they used to be, I’ll bet…
*Wade-Giles is the official Chinese romanization system of the Gormogons.
[White House Press Secretary] Robert Gibbs gave White House reporters a "strong A" Friday for their work over the first 100 days of the new administration.And why wouldn’t he?
Evening Newscasts Have Covered Obama More Than Bush & Clinton Combined…Not only has Obama gotten more coverage, but that coverage has been more positive than his predecessors.
With their memories of the sixties, when to be young was very heaven, they still believe that an oppositional stance in pursuit of perfection is virtuous in itself—indeed, is the prime or sole content of virtue. And it is this belief that renders them interesting to Hollander, for it makes genuine moral reflection about the nature of various governments and policies impossible. It transforms merely personal discontents into matters of supposedly great general importance.
Monday, April 27, 2009
Just ignore this.
Your Czar, like nearly all the experts being worn out by the media, urges quiet patience. Although swine flu can be serious, and appears to be quite contagious, the United States has still has an excellent health care system designed for just such problems. It is tested, and it is working.
So far, all American cases have recovered or are expected to recover fully. We have vaccine stocks, they are distributed, and are working, despite some fear-mongering among a lot of right-wing and left-wing outlets that assure us otherwise. A few hundred people, at this point, does not constitute a pandemic. And for those cringing over a pandemic, please do not use the Pandemic of 1918 as your baseline: there was virtually no treatment back then. If you choose to use history for scaring folks, look at the swine flu epidemic of the mid-1970s that was wiped out very quicklyusing 1970s medical technology, at that.
The most serious cases are in areas with little or no healthcare. The flu season is ending shortly, and new cases will begin dwindling shortly. Many of the numbers of infected, worldwide, are proving to be regular flu, not swine flu. Airlines are continuing to fly with no restrictionpresently, some airlines are letting you change your flight plans to and from Mexico without charges only if you ask. When you see the airlines cancelling flights for safety, then you can worry. If you have travel plans to Mexico, there are many other good reasons to cancel them anyway.
Swine flu is not necessarily fatal. While serious, and more aggressive than many other illnesses, most victims can and will survive with no treatment. And remember: regular old flu kills thousands of people each year; if you are taking reasonable precautions to prevent regular flu, you are already taking precautions against swine flu.
The Czars memory is very long. And he remembers the 1980s AIDS hysteria quite well, with London bobbies wearing surgical masks and gloves, and mayors of American cities planning to remove the bodies that were to pile up in the streets. So let us instead take a breath of clean air and get back to work.
It's not like the dumb-assed college kids could have known that anything bad would happen from rioting. It's not like anything bad had ever happened, you know, right on their campus or anything before.
Today's kids are even worse than the dirty, nasty anti-War hippies from the 1970 shootings. At least the hippies had a quasi-legitimate beef with The Man.
The means: simply imposing it, without having campaigned on it or letting it be debated, much less voted on.
That's the proctalgia you feel.
Hey, what’s the big deal? Britain and France have been on the geopolitical downward slope for most of the last century and life still seems pretty agreeable. Well, yes. But that’s in part because, when a fading Britannia handed the baton to the new U.S. superpower, it was one of the least disruptive transfers of global dominance in human history. In the “post-American era,” to whom does the baton get passed now?
When charming leftists stick their nose into things they don't understand they become ratchet-jawed purveyors of monkey-doodle and baked wind. They are piddlers upon merit, beggars at the door of accomplishment, thieves of livelihood, envy coddling tax lice applauding themselves for giving away other people's money. They are the lap dogs of the poly sci-class, returning to the vomit of collectivism. They are pig herders tending that sow-who-eats-her-young, the welfare state. They are muck-dwelling bottom-feeders growing fat on the worries and disappointments of the electorate. They are the ditch carp of democracy.
Sunday, April 26, 2009
If you are an eighth grade boy, and you elect to get in front of an audience of about 500 people and sing your heart out, you should know that the Czar has the greatest respect for you. The Czar admits that as an eighth grader, he would have been far too cool to sing in some dumb lame play: which you already know is all code for being a complete coward. It takes real gutsmanly gutsto stand up like that and sing your little show tune about following your dreams. No sarcasm there: no matter how much the other guys tease, harass, or question your heterosexuality (they will anyway, thats what they do), you should know that deep down, those guys (like your Czar) will secretly admit you got a real backbone there, and yeah, we know the girls think thats pretty hot. You are right, and we are/were wrong. We know, and you know.
Second, to the parents who put on these productions: thank you for your time and patience. We know that a production like this is slightly harder than trying to get the same number of rhesus monkeys to stand in a crisp military formation when all you have for incentive is an airhorn and a teaspoon. But for the love of God, think about what you are doing.
It is noble that you want the kids to do something ambitious. But please do not choose incredibly elaborate musicals, with complex harmonies and jazzy key changes and syncopated parts...you are dealing with 13-year-olds, and no matter how nicely they sing along to a pop song in the back of the car, they are not going to hit an uncued high A-note when the band strikes an Am7-5. Yes, your Czar knows what happened: you saw this musical done by trained singers in a fully professional production over on Clark Street, and in your most nasally voice said to your inebriated husband Wouldnt this be perfect for the eighth graders this year? The costumes would be to die for!
There are plenty of nice scripts out there to do with songs in their actual ranges that do not require three years with a Broadway touring company. Just a helpful suggestion. They can sound great, be in tune, and the audience will love it continuously. Betcha it even garners higher praise, too, than previous efforts.
By the way, a note to the girl who played the bird. The Цесаревич thinks you are very pretty, even if you are seven years older than he is. Although we all enjoyed your solo, you should know he found you particularly delightful.
Saturday, April 25, 2009
Those heroes that shed their blood and lost their lives... you are now lying in the soil of a friendly country. Therefore rest in peace. There is no difference between the Johnnies and the Mehmets where they lie side by side here in this country of ours. You mothers who sent your sons from faraway countries, wipe away your tears. Your sons are now lying in our bosom and are in peace. Having lost their lives on this land they have become our sons as well.—Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, dedication of the Gallipoli memorial
The Gormogons salute the heroes of the ANZAC and the great nations of Australia and New Zealand, on this day of solemnity, sorrow, and transcendent pride.
Friday, April 24, 2009
Dima “It’s not me, it’s you” Medvedev canned GRU chief General of the Army [≈four-star] Valentin Vladimirovich Korabelnikov because the latter didn’t agree with the KGB-dominated Kremlin’s plans for the GRU which involve disbanding its military arm, including its three Spetsnaz brigades (whom you’ll remember from the Gormogons’ analysis of the Georgian War) and transferring the soldiers to regular army units, as well as demoting it from federal agency level. In bureaucratic terms, they’re getting crushed. Rumor had V.V. trying to quit last year, but having his resignation refused. Looks like Dimochka finally signed the ok on that one.
No word on if they’ll be able to retain the fantastic, awesomely evil Batman emblem so beloved of the Gormogons. You just know that bat is crying bat tears today.
The Czar thinks there is plenty of life left in the old bird, and for what we paid for it, we ought to get as much out of it as possible, especially since the significantly more mind-blowing Webb scope isnt launching for a while yet.
And so the Czars ever roaming but surprisingly solid memory returns to a starry night in 1999, when a special project kept him and a co-worker standing in a god-forsaken prairie until 0300 hours. As we stood there, we talked about the hundreds of thousands of stars plainly visible in the night sky. The two of us were astronomy buffs, but he was deep into it, with thousands of dollars of expensive gear and software at home. The Czar asked when he last had the opportunity to use it.
He smirked, and said he tried about a year ago. There was a block party on his street, and he set up his brobdingnagian scope, motorized Palm pilot-driven devices to isolate specific stars, and let the kids and adults come on up and take a look.
The Czar complimented him on a great idea, and thanked him for getting so many kids interested in astronomy. He replied that they were totally uninterested; Hubble killed astronomy.
He said it was true. He said the kids go out on the web and see images like the Orion nebula like this:
Then, you go to all that trouble to set up your scope, point it at the astounding star factory that is the Orion nebula, and the kids push and shove to look at it and see this:
This is how it actually looks to our eyes through a great scope. Pffft, the kids say, and go back to batting mailboxes down.
That was something the Czar had not considered. But despite that, the Czar wants you to know, good is forthcoming. The new Webb scope will make the Hubble pictures look like the bottom one, comparatively.
The media has decided you need to know this. Right now.
Thursday, April 23, 2009
Further, your Czar does not know how you feel about label tags...those little words at the bottom of each post. In theory, if you enjoy a post and want to see what else we have said on the topic, you click the tag and get all the posts that use it.
However, there are a lot of tags in use here, and a lot of them have only one post associated with it. In that spirit, the Czar would like to write a useless post for no other reason than to recycle some of the under-appreciated tags and bump up their counts.
What he is is a species of critter who is somewhere between land-walking animals like otters, and pinnipeds, like seals and walruses. A paleontologist who likes to bite on dynamite might be brave enough to term this a transitional fossil, as he clearly shows an evolutionary link between sea mammals and land mammals.
As you may know, creationists continuously cry out for proof of transitional fossils (even though all fossils are transitionarylike a gradient more than color barsjust as the animals we see today are transitioning to some future form). Well, here you go, creationists.
Of course, here is how the game is played. Paleontologists have finally found another but inarguable transitionary fossil between land critters and sea critters. The Czars prediction: creationists will now demand to see the transition fossils between Phil and seals. Dont have one do ya? theyll mock. Cuz there are none!
And, in 20 years time, some lucky Canadian paleontologist will find a new 10-million-year-old fossil we might call Jenny that clearly shows a link from Phil to Jenny, and from Jenny to seal. And the creationists will laugh at poor science, saying there are no transitional fossils between them either, now.
Sigh. There are none so blind....
Did something change that now they are opposed and deciding to raise a stink about it? If Holder goes forward with investigations, then each of these members of Congress should be investigated as well for contributing to the effort and be held accountable as any other administration official.
It's got all the elements of a tragi-comedy. Drunkeness, jaw-dropping stupidity, unintended humor, dramatic irony.
Now we know the answer to the age-old riddle as to how many drunks it takes to bail out their DWI buddy from the state troopers' barracks. Nice work, honorary Pennsyltuckians!
Credit card companies are in the midst of a significant upsurge in default rates. Learning from mortgage lenders' past mistakes, the companies are adjusting interest rates and payment terms to reflect the risk associated with unsecured lending to risky borrowers. That is, the riskier you are (no job, bankruptcy, low income, etc.), the less likely you are to repay your debt. Therefore, you should have a lower credit limit and a higher interest rate in order to reflect the greater likelihood of default and non-recovery. Simple logic, and exactly what a responsible lender should do, right?
But not so fast. President Obama and Congress have decided that credit card companies should be required to maintain interest rates at current levels, no matter the risk to the lender. What does this mean for the average borrower? It means credit is going to dry up except for the very best risks. When the inevitable consequences of Congress' poorly thought out scheme occur, look for Congress to require credit card companies to extend credit to subprime risks, a la the Community Reinvestment Act. It's coming, just you wait and see. 'Puter's always right, after all.
And don't get 'Puter wrong. If credit card companies are being deceptive and/or abusive with teaser rates, or their disclosures are not easily understood, fix the problem. But the FTC already has the necessary authority to do so. Congress' proposal is a solution in search of a problem.
Popeye's Louisiana Kitchen, a fried chicken and biscuits emporium, ran out of chicken.
Popeye's is a long-time Gormogon favorite purveyor of everything that is right with fast food. High calorie greasy yumminess. And, 'Puter once almost picked up a fetching teen-aged cashier with his witty banter about sporks and red beenz 'n' ryce.
Crazy conspiracy theorists peddling conjecture and speculation as fact is as easy to predict as night following day.
Of course, the ease of the prediction should cast no doubt on 'Puter's omniscience.
To level set people, GorT has been through a number of science fairs starting in 7th grade and continuing annually to my junior year in high school*. My projects included everything from Acid Rain on bean plants, measuring intra-brain communication times to a "robot" (in more modern terms, it was an automated crane system with 3 degrees of motion and a gripper and black-and-white computer vision). I won a number of awards throughout this culminating in a finalist in an Air Force science exposium and being named a runner up in the national Westinghouse Science Fair. By no means could I have done this without my parents' help, but I would classify their help in two categories: (1) motivation, encouragement and holding me to doing good work in a timely fashion (all of which have served me well in my adult life and all of which I think fall into the "job description" for parents and (2) help in guidance and efforts that were either too dangerous (handling acids in 7th grade) and some power tools and engineering with the robot in high school. Largely, I felt that projects I did, and those of most of my peers were done by the students.
To my first point, let me say that I am starting with a bias. It is clear to me that, at least within my community and within the general elementary to high school level, it has become ultra-competitive mostly on the parts of the parents. This is largely in sports, but it trickles over into academics as well. While, not a bad thing on the outside, the resulting behaviors are what is disturbing. I can easily point to several families of middle schoolers where parents are DOING their kids' homework and have admitted it to both other parents and school administrators. They complain that there is too much work (true, if your priorities have your kid goofing off from 3pm until 5pm, attending sports practices or games from 5-7:30pm with some sort of dinner crammed in there and then letting them watch American Idol or worse until 9:30 or 10pm). You should have heard the outrage by some parents when the school brought back (finally getting a backbone) the concept of summer reading lists with a report. So specifically with the science fair last night, I was pleasantly surprised to see a large number of projects that were clearly done by the students (some maybe within the last 24 hours). Sure, there were a few that went over the top and it was clear that a great deal of parental help was involved, but largely it was students at the helm.
To my second point concerning the projects that I saw, I worry to a degree that while it's being taught, the strict scientific method isn't being applied in some cases. It was clear that some projects were largely a research project where conclusions were drawn from easily researched media outlets. There were a number of "global warming" doom and gloom ones - polar bears on the brink of extinction (false), harp seals, etc. However, I tried to hunt down the boy who had the project titled, "Global
Warming, Global Cooling, ummm, Climate Change". His conclusion while not explicitly stated (the weakest point in my evaluation of his presentation board) was that we just don't have enough conclusive evidence to support one or the other. Maybe he came across the recent Czar and GorT postings about Archimedes as he even included an experiment with melting ice and measuring simulated sea levels. I fear that our school science classes are being influenced by popular beliefs and not exposing the kids to factual science. Maybe there's hope yet - as I walked out of the auditorium, I passed an experiment by a 7th grader titled, "Acid Rain and Its Affects on Plants". It was well done, methodical, simple but rational in its approach and conclusions.
* As a side note on my junior year, a number of my classmates(including 'Puter and the Volgi) created a faux science fair project titled, "Spontaneous Human Combustion" affectionately abbreviated "SHuCo". We created a presentation tri-fold complete with pictures (one of the 1980 U.S. hockey team piling on goalie Jim Craig when they won with the fake caption that they were smothering him in an attempt to save him. We got it added to the printed list of projects and several judges actually reviewed the project. We ended with an Honorable Mention for creativity as word leaked out about the authenticity of the project.
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Can we admit it was a bad idea from the start? Maybe we could do things based on merit, not racism?
Her recent warnings to Pakistan are a pretty good synopsis of the Czars own concerns.
If she would be kind enough to give us a two-word pull quote we could put up at the banner, it would be most appreciated by the Gormogons. Something like Helpfully snarky!Hillary Clinton. But the Czar leaves it to her.
I came across this nifty analysis from the New Scientist (not an endorsement as they're Global Warming coverage seems a bit biased). Click on the graphic for a larger view - the darker the color of the land, the more "remote" the location is. The study included various modes of transportation including rivers (why the Amazon isn't as remote as one might think), rails, roads, etc. and how far it would be to a "major" city - defined as one with a population of 50,000 people or more.
Evidently so, the Czar has learned. He is still using the old gravitational theory, and it turns outnot compatible with Microsoft Vista.
Mr. Kellerman's suicide likely resulted from his direct involvement over 16 years in assembling the mortgage portfolio that ultimately laid the mortgage aggregating giant Freddie Mac low. Mr. Kellerman's suicide is setback to those of us who would like to unravel the truth behind Freddie's downfall, and a boon to those who would like Freddie's secrets to remain secret. 'Puter's looking at you, Rep. Frank (D-MA) and Sen. Dodd (D-CT). Mr. Kellerman's insider knowledge of Freddie during the relevant years is irreplaceable.
'Puter predicts that in the coming days, we will see a number of conspiracy theorists crawling out from under the dank rocks where they live, alleging a Democrat/Chicago/Obama/Frank/Dodd/Clinton Vince Foster-esque murder and coverup conspiracy. In reality, Mr. Kellerman's suicide is the final act of a desperate man with no hope left, nothing more.
'Puter hopes to be wrong about the hurtful consipracy theorists, but knows he is always correct.
Indeed. One of the first moments when your Volgi recalls having to defend an unpopular political position was in Germany in the 1980s when, in a high school, he was put on the spot on the Reagan Administration’s deployment of Pershing missiles to West Germany in response to the Soviet deployment of SS-20s (РСД–10). The deployment was wildly unpopular in much of West Germany (for a variety of reasons, including KGB-backed front groups pushing propagand), and your Volgi (who had no high opinion of Reagan at the time) had to decide between flattering German prejudices by running down his president, or defending a man he hadn’t endorsed and a decision he hadn't pondered profoundly. He chose the latter, as the former struck him as dishonorable and contemptible.
That, twenty-odd years later, his President is running down their common country in front of European and Latin Americans pre-disposed to anti-Americanism makes his skin crawl. One hopes that there‘s some genius diplomatic strategy involved that will turn these sows into silk purses, but in the Volgi’s experience, that’s not the way to bet.
The Wall Street Journal reports today that part of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program's computer network has been penetrated and compromised, most likely by China-based intelligence operatives.I hope to God that we've got guys in the NSA, CIA, and DIA leaving "Peanut Butter Jelly Time" in the firmware of the J-11 and Su-35 to let these people know that we’re not to be trifled with.
Key points from the story: the intruders accessed terabytes of data; they used tools that made it impossible to determine exactly what they compromised; repeated break-ins have been detected from 2007 and 2008. Also, at least two break-ins were detected in partner nations, one of those being Turkey.
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Exactly. Professional Catholics(tm) tend to be simpleminded, two-faced, passive aggressive, incompetent boobs. They do more harm than good and would really help their causes by retiring quietly. They never will because they fancy themselves "white martyrs" and get a juicy frisson out of that self-image.Meanwhile, Ghettoputer points out that the Washington Post fired up the Amazing Catholic Bullshit Generator: they put the name “E.J. Dionne” at the top.
GorT is of course correct that free-floating ocean ice cannot raise sea levels. However, before anyone else objects, let the Czar remind GorT that a stunning amount of ice is landlocked at Greenland and Antarctica. Should that ice melt, the calculations are that oceans would rise by something like 20 feet (the exact numbers are hazy because for a variety of reasons, no one is sure of the volumetric capacity of the ice in those regions).
The point is that landlocked ice has nowhere to go when it melts but up (by evaporation or sublimation), down (supersaturating the soil), or out (by flow). In all three situations, water will eventually go out to the oceans and wind up raising the water level. In the experiment below, Greenland would be a large snowball packed on top of a spoon which is itself laid across the rim of the glass.
So, detractors: before you jump on GorT, hold on a second. Some folks calculate that an average rise of four degrees Celsius will melt the landlocked ice. Technically, it is more accurate to say that a worldwide rise of four degrees will begin to melt the ice. As the doomsayers keep reminding us, there is a breath-taking amount of ice in Greenland and Antarctica. Indeed: so much so that melting this ice completely would take hundreds of years, if not thousands, at this rate of temperature increase.
People tend to associate events with what they know. And the melting of the Antarctic and Greenland ice packs isnt like watching a March snowfall in your backyard melt under a nice weekend warming spell. You are dealing with ice that has been packed deep for hundreds of thousands of yearsand has experienced even faster warming trends in the past. We know this because the ice did not come close to melting completely then!
Okay, so it will take a massive amount of time. But is Chu right? Do we need to melt all the ice to have catastrophe? What about if we melted only some of it?
The Czar would like Dr. Chu to list which island states will be completely submerged and when. There are only a couple of Pacific islands (to the Czars knowledge) who average elevation is only a few dozen feet above sea level. It is quite feasible to model this based on known topography: if you raise the water levels by two meters, do any islands disappear? What about a three? What about at ten? Which vanish? See the picture to the right? This shows a major flood, in which a large volume of water encroached in a short time. The topography shows that even this poor town was not wiped off the face of the earth despite freak conditions.
This is what makes GorT dead-on correct: Chu is fear mongering, pure and simple. By standing on an island nation and boldly stating that island nations will be wiped off the earth, he is dramatizing the effect to no good purpose: is it Trinidads fault? Is their carbon footprint dooming them to a life amphibious? No, so why say it like that? It would take centuries, and all coastal regions would get wetter, but not go under the waves even with a total melting of the land ice and sea ice.
The Czar will remind everyone of a little secret. We are woefully ignorant of what is happening. Our meteorological and climatological models are orders of magnitude better than they used to be even twenty years ago when the Czar learned his dry adiabatic lapse rate calculations and actually slung a psychrometer. But our reach exceeds our grasp with these sorts of dire predictions. Data are not information.
The Czar instead subscribes to the thinking outlined in this well-done, well-balanced, and fairly readible lay approach to the scientific problem: there is presently a rise in average temperatures, but overall we are in a cooling trend. And the results can go in several different directions, most of which begin to balance out andlike many normal processesnormalize by seeking a lower energy state. Net result: slight changes overall, but overall we will not see Cuba or Jamaica or New Zealand joining Atlantis anytime soon.
Steven Chu, Obama's Energy Secretary made a dire forecast at the Summit of the Americas in Trinidad and Tobago: human contributed greenhouse gases will induce climate changes causing global warming and the Arctic Ocean ice will melt causing sea levels to rise and flood island nations.
The government is looking at increased control over that Wild West Frontier Drinkin Town known as the Internet. Read some of the details here. Apparently, it is a lawless and godless town that needs churchin up.
Naturally, the government cites all sorts of good reasons, including the threats to our electrical grid that become possible once POTUS Obamas stimulus plan to link the grid over data take place, or the probable theft of JSF details and designs from a government system.
The Czar has a pretty simple suggestion. Rather than take government control over the Internet, which as you know the government no longer owns, how about you spend a few bucks tuning up the security at the end points? You knowmaybe protect these critical systems with more than just a password like password, disable guest accounts, and perhaps do all that stuff that Angkwar, the underpaid IT guy with the limp, has been telling you to do. Maybe take off the sticky notes from the monitors that say Your log in name is Guest. Maybe delete those FTP accounts from 1994 projects that let anyone see any file from any other project. That stuff.
This might be good, because the government plan does not address the fact that these same systems would be vulnerable even if there was no internet at all.
For all the whining that folks did about the Patriot Act, can anyone name a single American who was harmed by the Patriot Act? Sure, there must have been a couple, but can you name one, without Googling? On the other hand, this type of suggestion is at least as scary if not more so: this can affect everyone whether or not they know it.
And in case you missed it up there, the US government does not own the Internet any longer. Any attempt to regain control of it should be viewed as a violation of the First Amendment: it is a place where you can speak freely, and assemble, and report news like this without fear of retribution. It is a public space. So think very carefully before going further. And we thank the government for giving it away in huge chunks between 1969 and 1974, but regret that it is too used to return. Perhaps Al Gore can invent a new one for your private use?
The President said, As a general view, I think that we should be looking forward and not backwards. I do worry about this getting so politicized that we cannot function effectively and it hampers our ability to carry out critical national security operations. And so if and when there needs to be a further accounting of what took place during this period, I think for Congress to examine ways that it can be done in a bipartisan fashion, outside of the typical hearing process that can sometimes break down and break it entirely along party lines, to the extent that there are independent participants who are above reproach and have credibility, that would probably be a more sensible approach to take.
Im not suggesting that, you know, that should be done, but Im saying, if youve got a choice, I think its very important for the American people to feel as if this is not being dealt with to provide one side or another political advantage, but rather is being done in order to learn some lessons so that we move forward in an effective way.
Allow your Czar to translate: Okay, when I was a candidate I promised I would end this kind of stuff, and God knows that I have been getting a lot of pressure from the Democratic voters about this issue. However, since becoming President, I have become involved with a lot of top secret information and endless security reports detailing things that would scare the crap out of the average person. The fact is that the situation is way more complex than any of use understood, and quite frankly we are dealing with some damned scary people out there, and some of this torture stuff really did provide some valuable information that probably saved thousands of lives. So forgive me if I really do not want to spend too much more time on this.
The Czar genuinely detests beauty pagents for all the usual reasons. Unlike most folks, though, he actually knows a former Miss Muscovy who was an in-law to an in-law. And there indeed was a walking stereotype. So the idea of glorifying dingbats is like intentionally seeking additional useless celebrities to worship.
You already know where he is going with this: Miss California, who was asked on the Miss USA pageant whether or not she was for gay marriage. Please note the question, written and asked by useless cultural parasite Perez Hilton, was an opinion question: Vermont recently became the fourth state to legalize same-sex marriages. Do you think every state should follow suit? Why or why not.
She thought for a second, and then replied: “Well, I think its great that Americans are able to choose one or the other...we live in a land that you can choose same-sex marriage or opposite-sex marriage and you know whatin my country, in my family, I think that I believe that marriage should be between a man and a woman. No offense to anybody out there, but thats how I was raised and thats how I think that it should bebetween a man and a woman.
Although the recording clearly captures people applauding, there were a few boos, as well. And although she was favored to win the title of Miss USA, she lost. Why?
Biased judge Perez Hilton, who admitted that she blew her chances of being crowned because her answer did not appeal to liberals.
Quoth the Hilton: Honesty is great...However, in an interview this morning, she said that the audience and the judges expected her to be politically correct. Yes. I do expect Miss USA to be politically correct.
Translation: Miss California should have lied. The problem is she was asked for her honest opinion and gave it. That speaks well for her integrity. Hiltons condemnation, which included referring to her as a dumb [vagina] and a stupid [canine], shows that the liberals are not interested in truth. They are interested only in getting a free pass for their own selfish dishonesty.
Anyway, the news media and the internet is over-flowing with people on both sides of the question. Some call her a bigot who should not be a role model (please...Miss USA?), and others say she spoke her mind and should not be slammed. Frankly, who gives a crap about her? The sad reality is not that she got penalized for being a conservative, but that the truth remains unimportant to liberal causes.
But, c'mon people. What kind of strip club are you running where the victim is a 52 year old rookie and the alleged miscreant is in her late 40s? Is the club located next door to Leisure World (affectionately referred to as Seizure World by locals)?
What happened to the America 'Puter knew and loved, the one where strippers are vacant eyed, used up, meth addled, teen aged runaways turning tricks in the parking lot for pocket change?
Here’s how The Generator works: Presented with a complicated problem that requires balancing the interests of groups with competing claims, it will draw selectively on Biblical references and Church documents to churn out rhetoric that simultaneously:Not that this reminds us of any particular Gormogon’s relatives…
1) Clouds essential distinctions in a pink, emotive haze.
2) Suits the user’s political sympathies, institutional interests, or unspoken emotional needs (e.g., socialism, cover-up, or envy).
3) Presents the speaker as a gentle, vulnerable soul who’s acting only out of compassion, whose motives it would be wantonly cruel to question.
4) Casts his opponents as blind, cruel, or hypocritical.
5) Pretends it is not attacking anyone, but gently and bravely pointing to “deeper truths.” Hence any polemical reply amounts to beating up on Jesus.
So what's the answer? Fight the inefficiency. Government should use this opportunity to incentivize private industry, particularly those in what is termed "critical infrastructure programs" (i.e. Energy/Power generation and distribution, communications, water, civilian safety, etc.) to take appropriate steps to secure control systems. The alternative, which looms especially with the current administration, is that government will intervene on behalf of "national security" and embed itself into all of these industries. At this point, it's not a big step to nationally run power, water, communications, etc. by an inefficient organization with little domain expertise in the specific industries.
While the WSJ article points to something that is more along the lines of industrial espionage by foreign powers thus weakening the advantage that we may have, the larger concern is one like Australia experienced with the Vitak Boden attacks in early 2000 where he hacked into waste treament facilities and dumped sewage into rivers, parks and resort lands along the Sunshine Coast of Australia out of revenge. Translate that into the 911 system, air traffic control, or the power grid.
I have witnessed the acceleration of initiatives aimed at dealing with this problem. We have so many creative resources to apply to it that given time (the largest problem), resources and the ability to break through political, procedural and organization roadblocks, we will be successful. But we must understand, that this is unlike any war that we've fought before. It is one where we are currently playing defense against ghost-like adversaries who at times can be enthralled by just receiving that description. We've tried to form a big wall of defense, but what we are protecting is too large for that approach. Instead, we need agile, targeted defenses and we must consider the offensive part of the war. By not attacking, in some way, the perpetrators of these attacks, we are just inviting more attacks and more complex attacks. Each attack yields valuable data about the defense and response capabilities. We must take the battle or some portion of it to them.
For some further reading material, I'd highlight this article as well. For those who don't get the picture reference, please see this.
Families described some neglected patients at the hospital drinking water from flower vases because they were so thirsty -- it was apparently beyond the interest or the competence of the nursing staff or any supervisors to get them a glass of water -- and others screaming in pain. Patients described one ward as a "war zone" and said people were often left waiting in Accident and Emergency for hours covered in their own blood and without pain relief even with serious injuries. Others were left without food or drink, some received the wrong medication, or none at all, and blood and feces were left on lavatories and on floors.Haiti? Zimbabwe? Nope.
Monday, April 20, 2009
No, he is not, for Mahmoud Ahmadinejad did his whole embarrassing denial of the Holocaust routine again exactly as the Czar predicted.
In response, 20 UN delegates promptly walked out on him. The Czar is not sure why they were even there. After all, nine other countriesled by the United Statesnever even showed up to this tragic farce writ large. Those countries also included Israel, Canada, Australia, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, and New Zealand. Basically, nine countries who seem to possess a real sense of how stupid the UN has become.
Said UN Secretary-General Ban KiMun, I fear that todays economic crisis, if not handled properly, could evolve into a full-scale political crisis marked by social unrest, weakened governments and [an] angry [public] who have lost faith in their leaders and their own future.
Yeah, but you know what doesnt help? Having a whack-job racist scumbag like Ahmadinejad allowed in a room with the international press talking about killing Jews on Hitlers birthday in a country that quite recently embraced open slavery and oppression of blacks. That this happened says one of two things, both of which may be true together: that the UN is an evil-minded leftist group devoid of any sense of ethics, or they are a bunch of morons. The Czar flipped a coin on this, and it landed on its side.
Yesterday, in Skokie, Illinois (a northern suburb of Chicago), the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center opened to the public in time for Holocaust Remembrance Day. While the opening was a great success, the Czar was horrified to see that seven Neo-Nazis held a public protest simultaneously with the opening, waving their swastikas outside the museum doors.
At the Museums opening, keynote speaker was President Bill Clinton, who said It strikes me as not only appropriate but necessary that it is a place of both remembrance and education, because both are necessary to truly say never again.
He could just as easily have pointed to the seven neo-Nazis marching out front and said This is why a place like this is still necessary. We can say never again all we wantbut then we look to the UN, and see Ahmedinejads mocking face saying as soon as I can.