Monday, December 26, 2011

No Takers

This is an interesting article that tries to set out the idea that the 'lost decades' in the Japanese economy are a lie.  The author writes:
I feel so strongly about all this that I have more than once over the years challenged the principal proponents of the "lost decades" story to a debate. I first tried in 1998; and then again in 2002. On each occasion there were no takers.
He appears to make a strong case, but a little scratching reveals that the reason no one will debate him is the same reason that no one will debate his former boss (Pres. Carter) about little green men.

He starts the debate with two questions, one about the size of the Japanese trade surplus and one about the value of the Yen versus the Dollar.  Unfortunately he measures the size of the trade surplus in dollars, somewhat over-inflating the value that he's trying to represent (to the extent that a trade surplus/deficit is a meaningful measure to begin with).  As for the value of the Yen versus the Dollar, he is able to snag a more shocking number by writing the article at a time when the Fed is aggressively debasing the Dollar (something which all Americans are aware).  However,  Wikipedia has the full story.  Although the dollar is certainly down from where it was in the early eighties, it's not completely out of it's trading "band" that it has followed for the last twenty years:

However let's face it, measuring one's economy against the U.S. is hardly tough work.  Several commentators have made the case that U.S. itself has had more than a lost decade since many economic measures are back to the late nineties.  The other chart that measures the Yen against a basket of currencies tells the tale even more explicitly:

Here we have the Yen trading in roughly the "band" that it has since the late eighties.  This means that oranges to oranges, the Yen has sunk versus real world purchasing power along with other fiat currencies.

The other evidence used by the author is that of his own personal experience.  This has the sound of a "no one I know voted for Nixon" kind of journalistic justification for one's views and really isn't evidence of any sort.  Better evidence would be what the Japanese economy would look like without their outsized government spending.  Just like the U.S., the Japanese government has spent more and more money to mask the true state of their economy.  The only reliable number I could find on the 'net was 7.4 percent, which would be a pretty big contraction if it was pulled (the article also mentions that the U.S. is at 10.3, which is something happy to consider as well).

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Printing Coins

ZeroHedge notes that the Treasury is moving away from 'minting' dollar coins.  It seems that a large percentage of the coins have been landing back at the Treasury because no one wants/needs them.  The best suggestion I see around this is to mint dollar coins that actually carry some 'melt value' rather than a small, metal, inconvenient version of a dollar bill.

(What I'd heard, but am too lazy to verify, is that coins are, or at least can be, issued directly from the Treasury and so are a small, but competing money supply with the Federal Reserve notes that we all know and love. Counting into this is that every FRN is issued as debt (i.e., I get a car and the bank gets $20,000 in FRNs on the promise that I'll pay back $28,000 FRNs) whereas coins are actual American money free of the tyrannical hold of the banking class, for what that's worth (not much)).

Monday, December 12, 2011


I can't take one more minute of pretending that I care about Facebook and people asking me if I'd read stuff on it that was posted months ago.  What's worse is the stuff that I post there is even more worthless than the stuff I post here, which boggles the mind!*  Anyway, I've nuked my account and don't care to be back on.

That is all.

*Like Facebook birthday greetings.  If you do not get a birthday card from me, that means that I forgot to send you something worthwhile, which is a general failing of mine.  However, if I post a Facebook birthday greeting, that means that I did remember to do something worthless, which is even worse in my mind.

Thursday, December 08, 2011


Mission successful!
I was able to brew up about seven gallons of hard pear cider in this last run:
This will get added to what I have left of my last batch of pear cider, the couple bottle of beers that I have left, and the two or so gallons of hard apple cider that I have bottled. It sounds like a lot, but myself and Dr. DrinkingBuddy had no issue knocking out a gallon and a half of the stuff in an afternoon (a Browns game may be a requirement for such copious driniking).

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Pearl Harbor Day

Nothing makes me happier on Pearl Harbor day than to have my Japanese Uniqlo clock back on my blog!

A funny story on the radio this morning came from a sports announcer who told how moving it is to go to the Pearl Harbor memorial.  His story started out "First you get on a boat to go to the memorial, and you will be the only non-Japanese person in the boat...".

He was harsh about it, but I took it as further proof of the complete insanity of the whole affair.  No one can picture going to war with Japan now and at least as far as I can surmise, no one could picture going to war with them before the war (thus the complete surprise of Pearl Harbor).  In the current era anyone can picture unfortunate circumstances that would land the U.S. in a war with the likes of Russia or China, but getting attacked by Japan back then would, in the current day, be something along the lines of Brazil launching a surprise attach on Florida; a real "WTF!?" moment.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Poor As Cover For Rich Looting

From Glenn Reynolds, Megan McArdle notes:
Runs on financial markets, as far as I can tell, do not righteously limit their damage to rich jerks who didn't need the money anyway. In fact, the people who suffer the worst from a rapid contraction of the credit markets are the poor. They're the ones who actually end up hungry and on the street when companies start failing and they can't get jobs.
What kills me is that when a manufacturing shop is shut down it's all "well that's the way it goes in the free market, sorry sucker!", but when a bank is on the outs all the sudden the bankers need subsidies for their jobs because the poor might get hurt!  Never mind the fact that the poor will pay in taxes, inflation and a crappy job environment to keep those monstrously inefficient enterprises alive.

Anyway, does it ever occur to these press types to question why a run would occur?  It's not magical.  It's caused by people doubting that a bank will be able to pay them back because the crooks that run the bank have A) over-leveredged it with B) bad assets.

Along those lines, Denninger notes that Bank of America may have constructed their banking division in such a way that the taxpayer will get boned via the FDIC AND depositors won't get paid back when if the bank goes under.  Riotous fun bunch those bankers!

UPDATE: Lots of hope in Europe that they'll be able to get the central bank to print Euros to cover up the mountain of bad debt over there.  Part of the issue that they're having is the slow motion bank run going on in especially the peripheral countries.  They need to ask themselves what's worse though: a run on the banks, or a run on the currency?  One destroys the economy, the other destroys a nation...

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Imperial Tunes

Steyn Notes on the stories about strip searched grannies and other TSA horrors:
US airport “security” serves no serious purpose except to accustom free-born peoples to behaving like a compliant bovine herd. America is now a land where 85-year old grannies are strip-searched without probable cause. You’re extremely naive if you think that, once government acquires a taste for that, it will remain confined to the airport.

Indeed.  Where is our GOP Congress or the GOP Presidential candidates on everything from corporate bailouts to our inept, overbearing security state?  Unfortunately they're either nowhere, or actively supporting the outrages, such as by voting overwhelmingly for crap like SB1867:
At issue is Section 1031 of the National Defense Authorization Bill (SB 1867) which would authorize the use of military force against any individual who has “substantially supported al-Qaeda, the Taliban, or associated forces that are engaged in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners, including any person who has committed a belligerent act or has directly supported such hostilities in aid of such enemy forces.
Such as being a wheelchair bound grandmother or a teenager with a picture of a gun on her purse or under-groped kids getting off a train, etc.

Apparently Republicans don't mind the actions of Emperor Nerobama, they just don't care for the tune that he is playing on his fiddle.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Music Notes, Tre

We saw Mindy Smith tonight and it was a great show, especially seeing her (play by herself!) in a cozy venue.  During the show she played the great song Out Loud, only, now that I hear it on YouTube I realize that I'd only ever heard it live and that the studio version has had it's heart chopped out.  Some songs, like that one in particular, have a much better sound when the artist can bring their passion to bear on it.  I guess...imagine the YouTube version with Mindy nearly yelling it at you at you might get the effect (more along the lines of Come to Jesus), oh well...

She told a fun story though, about how she was an act on a 'cruise' and that it was difficult to play, etc.  "Okay", I think, "not the first act I'd think of on a cruise, still pretty cool though".  Then she said that the Indigo Girls* were playing the cruise as well. "Huh", I thought further, "exactly what kind of 'cruise' was this?"  Mrs. Sandmich thinks I'm wrong though for thinking that it was some sort of dyke-dike ship-a-marol.


I got a Mac store gift card with a recent purchase, and I picked up the album Tre by The Dining Rooms, mostly for the song Fluxus (though the whole album is good).  Fluxus has the melancholy tone and beat of a trance dance song, but is styled after (unsurprisingly) lounge music.  I can't get enough of it:

*And yes I like the Indigo Girls OK; but that doesn't make me a dyke...I think.  Anyway, Mindy was quite professional, but I must point out that I was entertained when she mildly crossed the PC boundary and used a gay lisp voice to make fun of some artist commentary.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Transformers 3

Simply dreadful; but at least the price was right. ;-)

What was always aggravating about the other two was how...well "good" might be a bit strong, but, acceptable the movies were outside of their human performances.  When it was robots beating each other up they were pretty entertaining.  Michael Bay seemed to realize this and puzzled over how to fix this oversight, so for the third one he gave the humans stronger, more prominent roles, rather just serving as padding between robot battles (and it wasn't to cheap out on robot action as there's plenty of that too).

In hindsight, it seems like Transformers 3 may have been the one of the three that Bay put the most work into making 'good', but in the process he forced in more of what it made the Transformer movies awful: awful characters, awful acting, and awful dialog.  It's odd since the Optimus Prime character from the movies is so much more complex than the cartoons as he has a strong sense of duty and stability, but a horrible, seemingly arbitrary, temper that results in him dispensing foes in a violent fashion.  Odd that a CGI robot can so solidly out-act the flesh bags that occupy the screen; even more odd that Bay didn't realize this and solidly dump the humans for robots.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Financial Hole

In light of the leeches of the state of Ohio killing off SB5, I post this chart:

It looks like Ohio pensions (to say nothing of retiree health benefits) are $188 BILLION in the hole. Perhaps the victorious government goons could enlighten us as to where the magic goose is that is to crap a golden egg of that size. Oh and I should let them know these pertinent facts:

  1. They didn't put money into Social Security, so they cannot draw benefits from there.
  2. They'll never get a wad that big out of the Ohio taxpayers.
  3. They'll never get a government bailout from the feds because they can't bail out every plan, and by the time these shortages (really) hit, the Federal Government will be lucky enough to roll the debt it already has.
  4. Legally binding agreements mean nothing if there is no friggin money.  In lieu of that fact, the "illegal" will be made "legal" and if there is a God, you will be screwed and living under an interstate; where for once you will be made equal to your former serfs.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Putting the Academic Damage On

I handily passed a writing assignment that I had for my college course (of course).  During the...course of researching the paper I was reading one of several books about ancient Greece when I came upon an odd section.  The book itself (as I recall) was an academic work that was being related by an American field researcher in Europe who was explaining his findings and how they matched up with previous research.  However, this odd section cropped up during what was a normal discussion about historical origins and whatnot and the poor researcher had to take time out to, intelligently and politely, refute research (if it can be called that) by Edward Said and some black dude (whose name is not worth remembering) who claimed that Greece stole all their ideas from Egyptians and since Egyptians were black, well ergo, all of Greece's good ideas were stolen from black people.

What a sorry state of academia when a serious researcher has to bring clowns like this up preemptively as he knows both PC barrels will be leveled at his well thought out and researched conclusions because he didn't at least pay heed to the academic gods of political correctness.

He gets five stars from me in the politeness department though.  I would have told those two idiots to pound sand (at least Said is eating some now), but the basic replay of this serious researcher was a rub a the back of his neck while saying ""

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Predigested Viddles

Glenn Reynolds links to this video on 'meat glue'.

I have to admit to being disgusted at first, but then the thought of those perfect little meat glue filets kept drifting back into my mind (the 'glue' being a powdered digestive enzyme).  Then I did the math of <"stew meat"+"meat glue"="filet mignon"> and it seemed like a no-brainer: I need to find out where to buy meat glue!  And if you think the idea of processing food with the digestive juices of an animal is disgusting, then you'd best better not look up to see how cheese is made.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Cultural Lag

In a college course that I went through, at some point they were comparing and contrasting the ancient civilizations and they made a point to single out the inefficiencies of the Egyptian hieroglyphics and (I paraphrase lightly) how idiotic and backward they were as they'd write their inefficient symbol (which was bad enough) and then right next to they would write the phonetic version as well.

My thought was "those silly, backward Egyptians, they just couldn't get on the Greek bandwagon...
hmm, but the Japanese still do that."

Proof is all over, but so prominent is the use of both the phonetic and kana at the same time that the welcome screen for Microsoft's web server (with Windows 7/Server 2008) actually has them both as well:

Japanese get welcomed twice


This post from Mark Krikorian about Mexico complaining about Mexicans returning home is pretty delicious:
Along these lines, the recent Associated Press story about President Calderon complaining that we’re deporting Mexican criminals back to Mexico (a complaint that takes some real huevos, since they’re his own people)...
That goes along well with the stupid sparing between Romney and Perry over each other's illegal immigrant foibles as they completely ignore the obvious solution to both their issues: no illegal immigrants.  Duh!  However, I guess that would be too easy.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Don't Watch It

I've seen some disturbing stuff on the Internet; DISTURBING stuff that I wish I could unwatch, but the video in this post by Mish about a Chinese girl getting hit by a van is probably the worst thing I've ever seen on the 'net, and that's saying something. It's not so much the visual disgust, as it is the apparent soullessness of what should be normal people NOT helping the girl who had been run over.  Instead of punching for the gut or head, that video stabs right at the heart (especially when the mother finds her daughter, rough stuff).

As usual, the government carries a large part of the blame.  When MSNBC wrote the story up they related a tale of a guy in China taking it upon himself to take an old woman who had collapsed (or had been pushed over) to the hospital, only to be thanked by a judicial order for him to pay towards the woman's care as she claimed that the good Samaritan had pushed her over and naturally since he helped her, that made him guilty. Now in the U.S. the response was "good Samaritan" laws, in China the authorities responded by saying that you should wait for the proper authorities to resolve the situation (even calling into them to report such an incident could imply guilt).

That place is F'd up good.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

College Loan

Glenn Reynolds links to this Zero Hedge bit on the student loan racket.  What struck me most was that besides debts incurred due to breaking the law, every other loan except for student loans can be discharged in bankruptcy (at the Federal level).  It was also interesting to see the timeline where the terms for loans got more restricted over time.

What's interesting of course is that if the loan could be discharged, it would be an unsecured loan, essentially a credit card loan.  In fact it's even worse than that as a credit card company may have some recourse on their debt (for instance, if you ran up your credit card debt right before declaring bankruptcy). For student loans that money is gone, and if priced appropriately for the market the interest rate may be outrageous (although typically a cosigner is required anyway and this would seem to mitigate the fear that lenders might have).

Overall though, I don't like it.  I hate the idea of anyone being a 'debt slave'; no one is making these people lend money (most of the time) so it's their own gamble as to whether or not they will be paid back. They shouldn't involve the government in their poor investment decisions.

(I should point out that it's debatable to what extent any loan is dischargeable any more.  Karl Denninger has pointed out that laws should be much more liberal in this regard as forcing society to hold onto bad debt (be it public or private) prevents a nation from being able to quickly correct mistakes and resume economic growth; particularly after the implosion of debts bubbles, such the time we are living in now).

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Academic Cheat

Since I'm enrolled in an online degree program, my free time will be even more crimped than it is already.  However, when I was going through the orientation and the inevitable screed about plagiarism came up I came across this method of plagiarizing that I hadn't heard of:
Using work previously submitted for credit
I can plagiarize...myself?  That makes a lot of sense, and I must confess that I was guilty of that in the past as I had redrafted some of my high school senior English papers for my first term college English class way  back when I got my associates (I can see the footnote now: "did same friggin' thing before, enjoy!").

Speaking of which, I was talking to the woman that I work for on a part time basis and mentioned that I was getting my bachelors.  She was taken aback that I didn't have my degree(!!) and then when on to tell a tale about how when she met her husband (married for like twenty years or so) that he only had an associates and she insisted that he get a bachelors degree (in...Education!).  I guess it didn't dawn on her that the fact that she has known me for more than twelve years and didn't know that speaks volumes about actually worthless a degree can be.  (Oddly enough, my boss at my full time job who has her MBA was always hesitant about paying for my degree for exactly that reason).

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Mr. Booze

My next project.  I've used the Mr. Beer once before, and I was pretty happy with the results.  The fresh beer tasted great and didn't give me near the odd side effects that I can get with 'factory beer' (head aches, congestion, etc.  It's not consistent enough to get me to stop drinking it though).

As well, I've got a line on some excess pears, so I'm going to try and make a batch of hard fruit cider as well.  On one of the sites that I was doing research on, they summed up one of my thoughts I had with the Mr. Beer: there's something magical about opening that tub and realizing that you've made alcohol.  There's something very liberating about making booze that hasn't seen the paw of the alcohol tax man.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Unwelcome Weather

Signs are pointing to a bloodbath in the market.  It may (continue to) be a slow burn off, but it's looking rather unfavorable.

First, Greece is about to blow, and although their economy is not all that big, exporters in Europe (mostly Germany) has been dependent upon the 'paper' growth generated by Greek (and the rest of the PIIGS) debt spending, and that's the good news.  The bad news is that European banks have been suffering through a slow run that might turn into a sprint since their banks are levered to the hilt with bad PIIGS debt.  Adding insult on injury, having not learned their lessons before, several American institutions are rumored to have been writing credit default swaps (insurance that's paid out to bondholders if their bonds, such as from Greece, go bad) that they more than likely can't cover.

Just to pile on, it should be pointed out that one of the drivers for AMG going into government bailout ownership was never even fixed: Credit Default Swaps (CDS) do not have to be written up against an asset.  In other words, I can go to Bank of America (as several people are rumored to have done) and get a CDS against a million dollars in Greek bonds without, in fact, even owning any Greek bonds at all.  This means that the total exposure to the financial sector is well in excess of the monetary size that Greece may default on (and that doesn't even take into account the fact that European banks more than likely lent out at least $50 for every $1 of Greek debt that they held).

Into the mix is the fact that there's no money for another round of bailouts and the fact that the developed nations (and a fair portion of the developing nations) are completely broke.  There's no backstop this time to hold up the old order for a few more years; this Tsunami looks like it's going to go right over the wall.  (Plenty of articles out there, but my current sentiment is based on light reading here and here).

(I should point out that what's aggravating is that even with all the cards stacked against it, the U.S. still has a chance to do well; if the two ton hog that is the government would get off of the economy and let it breathe).

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Ban Me Three Times Babe!

A couple days ago the Plain Dealer posted this story on about a husband who was wanted for killing his wife, stuffing her in a closet and running off.  In the original version one thing was missing from this story, especially a story about a wanted man: a picture of the perp that's being sought.  It being the Plain Dealer, and me being me, I automatically put two and two and together and posted a semi-taunting comment of "No Pictures?".  After checking out a more reputable Cleveland news source which confirmed my suspicions of a black guy killing his white wife, I then posted back to my comment "never mind, I figured out why there aren't any pictures".

Needless to say, both comments were trashed (and now I see that comments are closed, of course).

About a day before the guy was in custody, the PD then decided to post a picture of the perp, but not the victim.  I posted a comment along the lines of "no picture of the victim, but we all know why...". No more comments for that account as the ban hammer came down, again, for the third time.

After telling that story to Mrs. Sandmich, she kept waiting for the punchline.  I think she was thinking that I posted some tirade about how I wanted the whole PD staff to die or something and that was why I was banned.  Even Mrs. Sandmich, who gets tired of my sermonizing rather quickly (thus the blog) was amazed at how thin skinned the Plain Dealer comment control is.  To me though, it's more disturbing than that.

I have a long line of posts bringing up this type of issue with regards to the odious Plain Dealer (thank goodness their content is free because I would never pay for it).  When it's white people committing a crime, they have no issue digging up a photo, hell they even dug up a mugshot of a crime victim for one of their stories.  Their consistent lack of criminal descriptions, casually not posting public photos, and white washing of racially charged events can't be explained away as PC run amok since the actions will generally not have black people's best interest at heart either.  That's because every thought and action at that rag mag is driven by one thought: what is worse for white people.

No, the PD isn't thin skinned, they're a propaganda machine, part of the Jewish media machine that actively has it in for (other?) white people.

Even I found this line of thinking somewhat paranoid until I was discussing with my 'big boss' the love Jews have for Obama and I causally referenced in the third person how 'some people' think that Jews use blacks to get at white people.  I expected an eye roll, but what I got instead was an active agreement and an anecdotal story to back that up: he said that his son related that on the OSU campus that Jews actively choose to hang out with blacks (the Jews no doubt hedging their bets in case the white people who saved them in WWII will get a sudden urge to fire up gas chambers of their own).  Interesting, but I personally find their deliberate actions in the media more persuasive.

Whatever the Jewish elite plan, it's not very well thought out considering how smart they (think they) are, but they certainly don't have the average Americans best interest at heart, no matter what their race.

Friday, September 09, 2011

Dr. Union is in the House

In what is sure to be a failing of common sense in Ohio when Issue 2 passes, government unions will at once spell doom for the state and for themselves in turn.  Rather than sustainable wages and benefits, the extortion will continue until the state and communities run out of money and an extreme haircut is put into place.

Government unions (and most unions for that matter) don't care about the future though, only getting what they can get their filthy hands on right now, as quickly as possible.  This was particularly ripe:

"If our voices are silent, that harms residents," said Brian Dunlap, secretary/treasurer for the firefighters group. "A doctor is an advocate for a patient like we're an advocate for the people in our communities."

Bullshit.  Like when the Cleveland Police Department decided that fewer officers on the street was better because their own unaffordable benefits were more of a benefit to the 'people in their community'?  Give me a break.

Don't pretend that you fight for me you sad sacks, because you don't; you only fight for your own greedy selves.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Mac - First Impressions

Yeah, I'm two grand poorer and all I have to show for it is this giant Cadillac of a computer.
I actually waited years to make this purchase as I couldn't get off the fence.  I couldn't bring myself to spend Mac money, and I couldn't make myself buy another Windows computer because of the two things I could really live without when it comes to Windows:
  1. The Device Manager.  As a computer tech I'm in the ol' device "mangler" several times a week.  With every Windows system that I've owned, it's been a matter of when, not if, I would need to pull up device manager (or it's close cousin, Disk Manager) to give Windows a grope to see what was up.  I'm sick of 'rolling back drivers', and rigging up drivers, and putting up with manufacturers who had abandoned the platform about five minutes after selling it and leaving it to their suppliers to provide driver updates.  The last issue would inevitably lead to weird situations where the audio drivers are three years old, and the network drivers are three weeks old (which doesn't really matter since the network drivers never work right on a Windows system; you might think that they do, but they don't, trust me).
  2. The Registry Editor. The single story I like to relate was on my last PC that was mine, I tried to install a Visual Studio service pack and was met with a ton registry resistance.  After spending more than a day tearing the registry guts out of the system the service pack finally installed, but it doesn't escape the fact that the Windows registry is a horrible joke on the users of the system.  Over the years, Microsoft has taken steps to try and safeguard the system from a total debacle that might be caused by a couple bad bits in the registry, and although it has had some success, it is largely duct tape on a leaky hot air balloon.
Add to those two points that Windows computers have been completely commoditized, i.e., they're cheap shit.  When inspecting Windows laptops, I'd push the 'enter' key, and keys as far away as 'q' would jiggle from the pressure.  Cheap keyboards, cheap mice, cheap screens, cheap power supplies, cheap heat sinks, cheap software, cheap cheap cheap!  I couldn't take it!  Part of my waiting was that I figured that a real Windows system would appear that wasn't an ugly, over clocked gaming PC, but no dice, regular consumer Windows PCs only got cheaper and nastier.  I know other people have used Windows computers for years with no issues, but maybe by the nature of my occupation or something, my last ten years of using Windows PCs has sucked something fierce, and it didn't look to get better if I kept going down that path.
At this time I'll register two surprises that I've had with the Mac, one good, one bad.  On the good side, Safari has really surprised me.  It's really a top notch browser (at least in Lion) and I've haven't missed IE (even IE 9) for one second.  One the bad side, while better than it's Windows version, iTunes still sucks - Windows Media Player on the Mac, only slower and crappier since the idiots who wrote it haven't figured out how to do background library refreshes, or library scans that don't fall over themselves and add duplicates to the list.  I miss Winamp.

On a nerdy note, I downloaded Xcode, Apple's development package.  I ran through the 'Hello World' tutorial on their site and all I have to say is: Visual Studio it ain't.  Whereas Microsoft hides the guts of the XML and whatnot that actually drives a .Net application, Apple leaves it all laying out on the cutting board, 1995 style.  At least that's my impression after having used it for 15 minutes, so maybe I'm missing something.  (As well, the intellisense was busted, but since I've had that happen in Microsoft dev packages on occasion as well, I'll give them an out).

Global Warming

Well that's no fun (from here):
Even during its current life in the main sequence, the Sun is gradually becoming more luminous (about 10% every 1 billion years), and its surface temperature is slowly rising. The Sun used to be fainter in the past, which is possibly the reason life on Earth has only existed for about 1 billion years on land. The increase in solar temperatures is such that in about another billion years the surface of the Earth will likely become too hot for liquid water to exist, ending all terrestrial life.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Just to Clear It Up

What our Federal Government is up to:

Friday, August 12, 2011

Presidential Theme...

From here:
 The answers White House officials have provided don’t make it clear what Obama’s priorities are when it comes to this issue.
I don't know what's worse, Obama's clueless dingbattery, or the occasional far left, expensive, often racist, idea that he pours himself into every now and then.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Top Ten Work Tune List

I've been using Winamp at work for years now, and I was mildly amused by the 'most played' list that I found in the menus as they weren't all dance tunes:
10) Tori Amos - Marianne
9) Evanescence - Tourniquet
8) White Zombie - Super Charged Heaven
7) Chicane - Bruised Water
6) Snow Patrol - If There's a Rocket Tie Me to It (remix)
5) George Michael - Cowboys and Angels
4) Roland Orzabal - Bullets for Brains fan video :-(
3) Death Cab for Cutie - Soul Meets Body
2) Radiohead - Sulk
and #1) Sneaker Pimps - How Do
It's somewhat biased since this is stuff that I'd listen to at work (with Winamp I hit F3, type in the tune I want from the library and play it if I'm in the mood for a particular tune).  So only two dance tunes! (#7 and #6, though a purist may count #4 as well and someone who is an ass may even make #1 a dance tune since it was made by a club act.)

What might be more interesting though, is how I got the tunes:

10) Used CD purchase
9) Purchased from Russian download service
8) Copied from friend's CD
7) Purchased from Amazon
6) Tried to buy, but had to 'boot' since no one sells it
5) Copied from brother's CD
4) New CD purchase
3) Purchased from Amazon
2) Copied from friend's CD
1) Used CD purchase

Monday, August 08, 2011

Teen Mob

From the PD:
The teens came by cars, vans and busloads.

A crowd of 250 descended on Bedford, Walton Hills, Bedford Heights and Oakwood Village on July 25. The police forces and fire departments were put on alert to ensure everyone's safety.

The mob left one elderly woman in tears. She stood in her driveway crying at what the teens had done to her house.
Uh oh!  Fortunately for the neighborhood though, the mob was white teens (well, 99.9%, you know how that goes):
They had painted the whole thing.

They left her love notes behind, thanking her.

"We love you. . . . This is the greatest week we ever had," the kids wrote.

In all, the mob transformed the lives of 21 people, most of them elderly folks on limited incomes with health problems
In other local news, after a mob of a, ahem, different sort, descended on a trendy section (i.e., a white section in a bad neighborhood) of town, there were calls for laws restricting flash mobs.  It got to the point that one was actually passed in a rapid fashion, but Mayor Jackson subsequently vetoed the bill.

The mayor's concerns were justified, as were the people who passed the bill out of a legitimate panicked fear that people who actually buy stuff (white people) will be put off about visiting an area that's subject to the whims of racist, black inner city youths.  In a story on the Wisconsin black mobs a white customer to the state fair bravely said that he wasn't going to let thugs scare him off from the event.  Commendable to an extent, but such events usually trigger the beginning of an end of such an item.  The locusts will not leave the field if the farmer keeps idiotically planting food for them.  In rare events they can be forced from the field (such as some areas of New York City); but most of the time the field goes fallow (i.e. Detroit, a good deal f Chicago, etc.).

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Lack of Cleveland Culture

There is no Tilted Kilt or Hooters in Cleveland while in Columbus, they have one of each in the same parking lot :-( ....

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Captain America

This was a fun movie to sit through, even a little bit funner than Thor which I thought was decent itself.  Much like Thor though, once was enough.

One of the things the newer Batman movies have going for them is that they're scripted like a car going around a race track, once.  There's slow turns, fast dips, blind hills, speedy straight aways, etc.  With the Marvel movies they seemed to be scripted as an eventful drive to work: there's waking up, making breakfast, the drive along the highway where they're building something impressive along the road, and then an overturned tanker of bacon grease or something in the on coming traffic lanes.  After that it's off to the parking garage, work, and then an eventful drive home, hopefully (in the case of Iron Man 2, not so much luck).

In other words, there's too much that's uninteresting that's going on, too much talking (though Captain America is better scripted than most), too much returning to the same places and doing similar things, and poorly paced and/or insufficient action.

A slightly different issue here is that, unlike every other comic hero movie, I actually have some vague familiarity with the Captain America comics. The movie tries hard to capture the spirit, but in the end the issue is that a single movie sized container just doesn't seem big enough to cram Captain America into in the manner that they've attempted. Despite the slight dearth of action, the whole thing feels rushed as the story seems to get pulled in a dozen different unrelated directions ('Backstory', 'Diversity Team', 'Non-Nazi Nazis', 'Avenger Crap', etc!).

Given Marvel's track record, I have to wonder about the wisdom of cramming all these Avenger characters into one movie when they have such a hard time doing even one of them justice.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Debt Limit Lock

From here (in relation to Republican threats over the debt ceiling limit):
As former Senator Phil Gramm once told us, never take a hostage you're not prepared to shoot.
Would Republicans do such a thing? Kevin Williamson doubts it as he notes that the GOP is profoundly unserious about the whole situation (though not quite so much as the Democrats, for what that's worth):
Federal spending in 2012 is expected to hit 23.6 percent of GDP, but tax revenue is only going to hit 16.6 percent. That’s bad. (Real bad.)
He goes on to note that the Republicans do not want tax increases, but they've not submitted a budget where spending is anywhere near 16.6 percent of the GDP (the Democrats for their part would no doubt love to try and snag 23.6 of the GDP for revenue, but the Federal Government has never been able to collect nearly that much).

For my own part, despite what Republicans may think, I don't think that the work to prevent financial Armageddon will get any easier than it is now - they only need to not pass the debt ceiling increase.  Adding more Republicans to the Senate or one to the presidency isn't going to suddenly make the pain of equalizing income to spending any easier.  If anything, the lack of ability to deflect blame will make it harder.

Thus the Republicans should 'shoot the hostage' and put an end to this farce.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Locking in Gravy

This story is interesting:
Budget problems in school districts and the state's new collective-bargaining law, which limits the power of public employee unions, are driving the dramatic shift in the timing and terms of contracts, both school and union officials say.

Contracts reached by July 1 won't be affected by the new collective-bargaining law, regardless of whether there is a referendum to repeal it [doesn't pass, I think they mean], said Renee Fambro, deputy director of labor relations for the school boards association. Unions want to lock in deals before the law limits what they can negotiate, while districts may want financial stability or may use the threat of the law to gain concessions.
About 80 percent of the new deals freeze employees' base pay for a year. More than half freeze the base pay for at least two years.
I have to question what the real acceptable pay level is for these positions if while the unions still have a bit of leverage they are settling for two year pay freezes.  I also have to question what administrator is signing away their bargaining power given that the unions are so 'desperate to sell'.

Monday, June 20, 2011

So my world travelers snap the following shot in China of a tshirt being sold there:

Kid Sandmich: "Ha ha, they're making fun of Obama"
Sally: "No they're not"
Mrs. Sandmich to Kid Sandmich: "shush"

Although, it appears that the Chinese authorities believe Kid Sandmich.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Exchange Student Notes: Addendum

(We had the pleasure of hosting an International student from China for the past two school years. Sally is her fake American name. Previous editions are here, here, herehere, and here)

I must now admit dear reader that I've come to realize some things, things that generally can only be experienced and though difficult to explain, I'm going to try.

Sally and I are pretty different, but we had something significant in common: we both left home to go to high school. I'll admit that my school was much closer than Sally's (I've made longer trips for a pizza). I became pretty badly homesick, which improved over several months; but it came at a price. Returning to my parents' home after two years of boarding school for my senior year of high school, I never 'came home'. My mom and dad are great and I love my brothers and sisters to death, but I felt like the teeth on my gears no longer fit snugly into household machine; maybe ‘too adult’ to be in a house full of kids. ‘Too adult’ to be told to clean the toilet. ‘Too adult’ to be told to go to bed by a certain time.

I got married fairly young (because I found a great woman, not because I needed an excuse to move). I didn't however become homesick; which, retrospectively, is rather unfortunate.

Parents sometimes warn “just you wait”, and unexpectedly for the past two years I lived a 'mirrored version' of my own experience. Some father in China, apparently desperate for his daughter to get a good education, sent her to live with relative strangers in a country that they were unfamiliar with. Not too long after her arrival I remarked that her dad must be quite worried because I know that I would be, especially since I would never send a daughter of mine away to live with total strangers to attend the local high school (I don't even send my own son there!). However, now that she has lived with us for two full school years, and has graduated with honors and will be attending college next year, the reflection of the experience has given me an understanding of certain simple realities.

I realize that her parents gave to me and my family, two years of their daughters life. Sure they could talk to her, e-mail her, IM her, etc., but it’s not the same. It’s not the same as making brownies together. It’s not the same as helping her with her homework. It’s not the same as eating dinner together, or watching TV together. All of that is to say nothing of the myriad of little things, the ’gears’ if you would, upon which our lives turned. As an example, on her final night in the U.S. I was out on the deck with our dogs when I glanced up at Sally’s window which was open as usual (typically even in the winter). “Who”, I thought, “ would open Sally’s window now?”

Thinking of the things I was missing naturally led to somewhat sorrowful recall of the things that I missed; things I should have done.

I should have spent more time with her helping her with her school work instead of exercising.

I should have gone with her to the mall sometimes instead of leaving it all to Mrs. that I'd have more video game time.

I should have let her help with the cooking more often instead of working late and rushing a meal.

I should have....

Try as I might, I find myself frustrated to tears that I cannot reach back in time and place some of those experiences into the past. What was completely opaque while it was occurring is now crystal clear as I look back over Sally’s time with us. My memory may be bad, but apparently not when it comes to regret: I can see every time when I should have been there as the caring parent, instead of a disconnected patriarch. It’s always a fine line between being a good parent and being an overbearing nag, and unfortunately in hindsight I find that there was plenty of room left to be a good parent, and not be parental tyrant (or worse, the creepy parent buddy).

In my mind it now all comes together like the rivers merging with a lake. There’s the regret of missed opportunities, there’s the emotional drain of the departure of someone we love who was part of our daily lives, but there’s now also questions, questions which are only apparent from the mirrored experience. Is this how my parents felt, giving up part of the childhood of their oldest? How did Sally’s parents feel about giving the final formative years of their child over to a stranger? Do either of them realize the magnitude of the gift that was given and the fact that it could never be repaid to them? Why were these things not more readily apparent to me? Why are the most important lessons only learned after the fact?

It’s not all gloom of course. My melancholy is tempered by the fact that we played a part in her recent success in life. My coworker also lightly chided me for the fact that it’s not as if she’s gone from our lives. As fate would have it, the only college that sent her an acceptance letter is a state school located about fifty minutes away. We will be helping her move in later this year and it is our hope that our home will serve as a refuge from the campus from time to time. However, I know; I KNOW, it’s not the same. She has grown up. Not completely, but more than enough so that her ‘gear’ will no longer fit quite right ever again.

Graffiti that Sally left on my whiteboard with her real, though romanticized, name. We never called her by her fake name.

Friday, June 10, 2011

New Blogger Template

I finally sucked it up and switched over to the new template tech that Google uses ('new' being relative since it's been bugging me about it for years).  I have to say that A) the new format is much easier to use and B) Is a hollow, empty shell compared to Wordpress.

Update: They do now allow 'gifs' for image profile pictures, but I had to do a force reload in IE (ctrl+F5) to get my image to show (I guess clearing your cache will work too, or you can just wait for the cached image to time out in a couple years).

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Exchange Student Notes: Final Edition

(We had the pleasure of hosting an International student for the past two school years. Sally is her fake American name. Previous editions are here, here, here, and here)

  • Sally has a pretty nifty phone that had a very adept translator on it. During her first week with us she had that phone out all the time punching stuff into it. I don't think I saw her use it as much her whole second year combined as that first week, so improved was her English (and whenever she did use the translator it was on rather horrid words with multiple meanings. "Circumcised" comes to mind, yeah that was fun to explain).
  • Sally is looking at going to a U.S. college next year and she seems to mostly be looking at schools in the Midwest. What's interesting is that international students have to pay the 'rack rate' for college tuition, in other words, they have to cover all the tax subsidies themselves. Now the ROI on higher end four year schools in general is fading away, and that's at the tuition rates citizens (and illegal aliens) pay. Imagine if you would, paying $40,000 a year to go to a state school in Ohio. I've told her on more than occasion that money may well be gone, never to be seen again. My analysis is highly dependent on what field she goes into and how well she does. My guess would be though that, since she is pretty bright, she would make just as much money in her career with a $5,000 associates degree in computer programming from the local community college as she would if she blew upwards of $150,000 to get a degree in the fields that she's looking at.
  • Sally has taken to watching one of two shows that we watch with dinner (bad form I know, perhaps our table will be cleaned off one day). One show is the British Top Gear and the other is Bizarre Foods. On more than one occasion Sally's two dimensional English abilities have let her down when those shows inevitably bring up awkward terms. It's not very comfortable being put in the place of having to explain what 'rooster ball soup' or a 'wedding vegetable basket' is.
  • So last year she went to a public high school and this year she went to a private high school. This year she heard some of her classmates debating about where to get their prom dresses and she inquired to Mrs. Sandmich why they didn't have a used prom dress sale like they did at her school last year. I'm guessing that the Chinese commies have been lax in relating tales of horror of the bourgeoisie versus the proletariat.
  • Speaking of lax education, before staying with us Sally didn't know that a number of her countrymen spoke a language (or dialect) other than her own (her's being Mandarin). Likewise, every time I bring up the geography local to China, she seems not to believe me (like how Kazakhstan is close to China, etc). I'm guessing Chinese schools teach music and math lessons, then lightly touch on physical fitness and leave the rest up to chance. On a semi-related note, I was further aggravated when I asked her what they do in China on someone's birthday: "I dunno". Being the smartasss that I am I then related that, since she was from China, I kind’a depended on her to know stuff about her country. The actual answer was, that apparently birthdays aren't that big of a deal over there.
  • We're in the third year of gardening and in the last two years only one person in the house has come out to help me....
  • For the past two years I'd made it a point to buy snacks and unhealthy treats in an effort to put a pound or two onto that girl. Alas the effort has failed as a weigh-in at the mall put her twenty pounds under the target weight for her height (as for the other members of the Sandmich household...).
  • I never watched Sponge Bob until Sally stayed with us, and I must admit that somehow I didn't watch it with her the first year that she stayed with us. I caught myself watching some episodes this year though and have decided that if Sponge Bob is on, it's highly doubtful that there's anything better on. Likewise, I could not fully appreciate the movie Final Fantasy: Spirit's Within until I watched it with a teenage Asian girl. And no I'm not kidding, the finer moments of the film escaped my attention when last I saw it a decade ago (she was quite amazed when I told her it was a box office bust in the U.S. and instead of being a mainstream hit, was relegated to the anime shelves at Best Buy).
  • There was a dark moment earlier in the year when Sally's parents were supposed to visit the New York over Chinese New Year. Although they were taking a 'canned' tour, our hope was that some sort of meeting could be arranged. What followed next brought to light something that puzzled me from the "exchange student get-go". Whenever Sally was in China and needed to come to the States, there was always a coordination of paperwork between Mrs. Sandmich, Sally, and...the Chinese Embassy. "Odd" I thought, "what would the Chinese embassy care about legal entry into the U.S.". I figured it was some sort of crossed wire and that she was getting her passport or such from the Chinese Embassy while going to the American Embassy to make sure that her papers were in order. Her parents case cleared that confusion up for me, for when the goons that run the country found out that both their daughters, a sister, and niece were all in America, their exit visas were denied to them as they were deemed a flight risk. Sally was distraught on two fronts, the first obviously being that she wouldn't get to see her parents, but the second feeling some level of shame and anger towards the homeland that she is rather proud of. As John Derbyshire has noted, national pride is a natural and respectable feeling, and I often reinforced some of the positive points of her homeland, while playing down some of the negative (she was more than aware of negatives than I, and thus found it not worth playing up). The level of helplessness was copious on all sides, and I have to say that I hope that the jackbooted thuggery that's currently tearing across the U.S. is squelched and that the prison planet doesn't make a full, ugly debut here as well.

And that's enough of that. If I think of anything else, I'll throw it in the comments!

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Lamest Hits

In the process of ripping music for a long trip of Mrs. Sandmich's, I popped in the greatest hits disk from the band ELO (the band that dreamt it could be Boston) and discovered that clap trap factory thought that they had 20 songs that registered as greatest hits! In the meantime, I caught a greatest hits MP3 album on sale at Amazon from Ladytron and they didn't even have room for all their great tunes, including the one below which is far better than anything on that ELO album:

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Missing Disks

I was cleaning up around my office, sorting through my never used stack of disks. The audio disks in particularly abused, having all been ripped 10 or so years ago, never again to see the inside of an optical drive. I've misplaced many of them apparently, one to the extent that I found two copies of it because I apparently lost it once:

I, of course, do not have a disk for either case (and the front cover for only one).

Actually now that I recall, my original copy got scratched to the point of being inoperable and I had to buy another (a bit of a 'disc crime' there no? Shouldn't my 'license' have entitled me to a backup/replacement? Bite me RIAA!). As another note, for as much as they charged for CDs, couldn't the record companies have put them into a plastic case that didn't self-destruct upon being opened?

Friday, May 13, 2011

All About the Ad Revenue

Back when I used to read Dvorak (sp?) he would puzzle over tech company Microsoft wanting to be an advertising firm. I guess no money is more easy than ad money (even though no money is more fickle as well). Even Home Depot is getting in on the act by running Google ads for competitors on their own stupid web site (?!?!?)

And yes, my search for a heat gun has 100% to do with my broken PS3.

My PS3 is Dead

Before PSN came back for me to once again enjoy some co-op multiplayer the ol' Sandmich fat PS3 went belly-up during yet another marathon gaming session of 'Oblivion' by Kid Sandmich.

I figure I'd give the solder re-flow procedure that's floating around on the net a shot, but if it doesn't work I'll be stuck wondering who to bequeath my estate to....

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Thank God They Can Vote!

In a horrendous case of the further balkanization* of this country, Hispanic activists (mostly Puerto Ricans in this case) through their tools in the Federal Government and assorted Democrats have made everything (signs, ballots, etc) having to do with elections in Cuyahoga county be bilingual.

In other news, a huge chop-shop/stolen car ring is broken up on the near west side of Cleveland, let's see if we can spot a common theme here:

Police released the names of the 35 charged in the case: Evelyn Cruz, Juan Cuevas, Christina Lozada, Xavier Hernandez, Jose Martinez, Juan Martinez, Lina Martinez, Victor Padilla, Miriam Ramos, Juan Rodriguez, Erickson Ramos, Francisco Santiago, Lizmarie Torres-Bruno, Carlos Pagan, Jonathan Musse, Ivan Pietri, Luis Cuevas, Alberto Pietri Jr., Sally Ortiz, Javier Millan, Jonathan Ortiz, Michael Ferguson, Jose Vega, Edwin Mendez, Jose Trujillo, Juan Rivera, Javier Flores, Marilyn Rodriguez, Juan Hernandez, Auri Pietri, James Lyle, Alberto Pietri, Jose Ramos, Carlos Sanchez, Manuel Vasquez.

*How did that work out for the Balkans?

Monday, May 02, 2011

Video Game Review

I haven't done a lot of video game reviews because I haven't played a lot of games where there's been something left unsaid. I actually went on a bit of a binge the first part of the year and have played several games.

I didn't do a write-up on Uncharted 2 since it's awesomeness has already been broadcast across the net (though it's excellent co-op multiplayer doesn't get the attention it deserves).

Kid Sandmich and myself then also bought a batch of four games of varying quality (mostly good).

One was Dead Space, which is very well done, but I only played through about half of it before losing interest (I began spending too much time saying to myself "Yeah, I get it, stuff popping out of shadows, then shoot, shoot, shoot"). Artwork, sound, gameplay, all top notch though if that's your bag.

We also picked up Bayonetta which is one of the (if not THE) sexiest, most stylish games I've ever played. It's racy at times (the tightly clothed female protagonist dancing around a pole to move a platform elicited a chuckle from me. "What?" asked our exchange student; "Oh nothing", I said), but it must be pointed out that it's attention to style is so methodical that I was left wondering at times if the game was made with gay fashion designers in mind. Great game with great controls, just not great enough to make me forget about it's cousin Devil May Cry.

Another binge purchase in the batch was Fallout, whose add-on material that came with the game confirmed that, at least for someone of my age, the game gets by A LOT on nostalgia: imagining you're Mad Max roving the post apocalyptic countryside, towns, and cities. Since the add-ons lacked that feel (one took place on an alien space station), the rather generic RPG shooter mechanic shown through. The game was good, not great, but definitely all the better for 'duck and roll' retro fans (just be sure to save the game for every ten feet that you walk, apparently the apocalyptic future has time freezing issues...).

The last game though I think needs a more thorough revisiting...


Darksiders is an interesting game. As it was pointed out when it was released it wanted to have the gore/grind of God of War with the goodies a Zelda type of game. The efforts to pigeon-hole the game largely succeeded in my mind before I had even played it, and the extensive demo that released didn't do the game any favors as upon playing it I was struck by what wasn't stated in any of the reviews and was left unsaid by the demo: the unbelievable quality of the title.

The game's publisher, THQ, is notorious for half making games. It's latest big budget effort Homefront carries the reviews of a typical THQ game: canned shooter mechanic, much promise, and not enough delivery. Without the apparent muscle of EA or Activision it seems like THQ has a hard time pulling titles all the way across the finish line, which is what makes Darksiders all the more surprising.

The sound and music are the best that any AAA title can offer. The artwork effort was so detailed that even Mrs. Sandmich took notice of a particular piece of finished art on what would ordinarily be a piece of overlooked ground:

Her: "What does that do?"
Me: "Nothing."
Her: "Really? That circular art looks like should do something."

But alas no, the artists couldn't seem to let one detail of this game escape their overproductive claws, leading to a game that's thick with atmosphere. Every 'place' feels like a place, and not a production set and every sprite (chairs, statues, lamps, etc), feels like they had been left there by their previous owners.

With tight controls, a nice storyline, and memorable characters in a largish game to boot, it's quite obvious that some ingenious producer pulled one over on THQ in getting a game of this quality out of the studio (that, or the producer was a tyrant that worked his people to death).

Four and half stars, with a half star taken off for some inventory control issues late in the game, and the occasional (though rare) aggravating bug.

Friday, April 22, 2011

I've Figured It Out

Between installing spyware ,taking the service that makes their hardware work on repeated cruises, and generally having a deaf ear when it comes to product development I have to wonder what the heck Sony is smoking, but I got it:

They don't think that they have any customers.

A bunch of people at Sony show up for work every day, and sometimes enough checks come in to cover the wages of the people showing up, but as far as their management is concerned, any possible correlation must be a coincidence.


I truly am sad to see the space shuttle go. It started out with so much promise, watching those fancy shuttles launch in grade school! It turned into a bit of a travesty though with around 130 launches and two complete failures; it never went beyond an experimental space craft.

Going back to the Saturn rocket would be pretty cool. I'd heard a rumor though that Congress, in order to press upon the space agency to use the Shuttle exclusively, mandated that the tooling used to create the Saturn series of rockets be destroyed. The truth looks to be more boring since it looks like NASA didn't readily need the tooling for anything, it misplaced, scrapped, or otherwise lost the capacity to build the giant rockets.

In anticipation of the demise of the shuttle though, smarter minds developed the Delta IV rocket. The Delta IV Heavy is a beast of a machine that (at least on Wikipedia paper) is more than a match for the orbiting capacity of the Shuttle. Although the Delta IV scales down nicely for more affordable launches, the 'Heavy' is the current limit and a poor match for the Saturn-like rockets and would be unable to get a man even half of the way to the moon.

So the next time someone needs a justification for their pie-in-the-sky idea and they say "if we can put a man on the moon", politely point out that in fact, we cannot.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Gas and Such

With all the moves to restrict the oil supply domestically, and while fanatically printing dollars it's no surprise that the price of gas is getting ridiculous. This veritable tax on the economy is going to cause a further contraction and there's nothing to be done. The Federal government can try to paper over the contraction (some more) by issuing more debt, that's covered by money printing at the Federal Reserve, which causes gas and other prices to go up more, which causes a further contraction, and so on. Truly the 'coffin corner' that has been predicted as the other option is to dramatically decrease debt issuance and related government goodies which will cause gas prices to fall due to a lack of money printing and the inevitable economic contraction that would follow. This is going to break one way or the other, and every indication is that our elites are pretty clueless about this fact.

At least we can relish the fact that some governments, through their own idiocy, have made it even harder on themselves. It’s interesting in that the Arab governments are in a ‘coffin corner’ as well. They’re wholly dependent on food imports, and when the price of oil goes up, those additional profits go right back out the door in order to cover imports, especially food (and with lethargy in any system, the profits don’t quite cover the hikes). As well, every time the Saudi’s “cut back”, the rumor mill starts up again that their production is falling, that they’ve mined out the easy oil. That kleptocracy holds their cards close to the vest, but there’s certainly ancillary evidence to suggest that’s the case. What happens when all the oil money in the world isn't enough to keep their people fed? Probably something worse that what is already going on.

It may be an interesting year. Go long in gardening supplies...

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Cleveland Police Report For Duty

From here:
None of the four Cleveland police officers charged with assaulting a man during a New Year's Day arrest submitted paperwork required when non-deadly force is used, records obtained by The Plain Dealer show ... Henderson, who has a history of mental illness, was arrested after a chase and later accused officers of handcuffing him and holding him down while kicking him and kneeing him in the head. He suffered a broken eye socket, a broken nose and a detached retina.
One can see in the comments that there are several commentators that, at the very least, don't give a flying fig about the police putting the smack down on this criminal. The Sandmich has always taken a dim view of those that support street justice by cop or worse, prison justice by prisoners. If society wants those sorts of punishments doled out to criminals, something I'm perfectly willing to consider, then it should be done through the normal chain of justice. Is the normal chain of justice too weak? It certainly is, so the first step would be to elect politicians who would correct it, not continually elect softies whose walled communities will always be protected from the chaos that they create and then rely on idiots to fill in the gaps. Backing up that point is another CPD story of railroaded justice:
Eight officers arrived just after 12:30 a.m. and told Geiger he matched the description of the driver who struck [off duty] Sgt. Arthur Gorsek outside the garage and fled the scene. They said that at about 10:20 p.m., Gorsek directed a man in a black SUV to turn right onto Chester Avenue. The driver complied but then made an illegal U-turn. When Gorsek tried to stop him, the vehicle took off, knocking Gorsek to the street. ... [Geiger's] daughter said the officers asked for her earlier whereabouts, and she tried to offer up a receipt as proof of the meal and the time. But the officer waved off the evidence, she said. And the police report from that night does not take note of Christine Geiger's explanation or even her presence at the house. The officers seemed disinterested in investigating their claims, the family said. They only bullied Geiger and repeatedly told him how much trouble he faced for such a serious offense. ... After spending a sleepless night in jail, she was crushed to learn she would be held for up to 72 hours for investigation. The case was out of their control. The Geigers could only hope that Charles' brother, Gordon, was working hard to have them released and that police were busily investigating the couple's story. ... Later in the week, Patricia Geiger was told she could retrieve her SUV from a Cleveland police impound lot downtown. But when she found the car in the crowded lot, she discovered the driver side window had been left open, and the front seat was blanketed in a snow drift a foot deep. Police also had left the key in the ignition, and the battery was drained. ... [Their lawyer] Doyle supplied police with the Melt receipt that officers previously had rejected, the video of Charles Geiger in the restaurant and affidavits signed by the restaurant's staff, Geiger employees, customers and the women who were with Patricia Geiger at the theater that night. Police quietly dropped the case on March 18.
Nice job jackasses. No wonder the city is trying to replace y'all with traffic cameras.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Worker's Comp Mistakes

From here:
William J. Wahoff, a lawyer who represents employees in issues involving [Ohio] workers’ compensation and safety, will speak about ways businesses can avoid mistakes that could adversely affect their businesses.
The first mistake that can be easily corrected is to relocate out of Ohio to get out from under an odious worker's comp regime that requires you to attend legal self defense classes. Of course, leaches like Mr. Wahoff, who treat the Ohio worker's compensation system as a cow to be milked, don't help the situation.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Business 101

When I saw that Harry and David were in bankruptcy I figured it was just a sign of the times, that there wasn't quite enough gravy to go around to keep a higher end mail order food company in business. However, I thought the timing was a bit off and that if market forces were a factor that the place would have been in bankruptcy protection much sooner. After reading the article my suspicions were confirmed and the company's poor experience reflects one that happens all too often:

  1. A well off accounting goon fancies that he can run a business.

  2. He sets his sites on a fairly successful business.

  3. He goes to his bank buddies who are looking for a place to park a portion of it's vast ocean of cheap cash that it's been given by the Feds. The goon sells them on the idea that by 'streamlining synergies' and what not that they can run the business much better than the provincial idiots currently managing it.

  4. The pitch justifies an outsized buyout offer to the current company's owners and the accounting goon and the bank have dreams of being in gold plated heaven when their brilliant efficiencies are brought to bear on this business that was formally run by clueless putzes.

  5. The bank gives the goon the cash, with various financial 'experts', lawyers, sales realtors all getting a cut. The current owners retire to the Caribbean, the accounting goon gets his business toy with an outrageous salary and, more than likely, many people at the targeted business are fired.

  6. Low and behold, the accounting goon actually doesn't have clue about what's he's doing and the business struggles. Since he had no money of his own, the loan to purchase the business is on the businesses own books. Even more people are fired when the business inevitably goes bankrupt since it's veritably impossible for it to ever pay back a loan whose balance no doubt exceeds the worth of the business itself, especially when it's being run by a clueless dolt.

The occasionally odious Tom the Dancing Bug has a nice comic that sums the whole mess up:

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Black Love

From here:
About 1:30 p.m. Ashley Jackson 21, of Elyria, and Toni Duncan, 49, of Elyria, assaulted the 71-year-old man at the store on Chestnut Ridge Road after he asked to see their receipt, which they did not have, police said. According to the report, the women became upset after not receiving help at the customer service desk and attempted to leave the store. When the greeter asked them for their receipt, both woman yelled obscenities at him and called him a “cracker.” Duncan then pushed a shopping cart into the man, began choking him and threatened to punch him in the face. ... Jackson told the attendant, “when she tells her boyfriend about the door greeter he won’t be alive,” the report said. Jackson then yelled three times that she would “blow up” Walmart, alarming nearby customers, police said.

Update: Get your black love here.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Kasich: Corporate Whore

Quickly proving every evil thing said about him during the campaign, Ohio governor John Kasich has a brilliant idea to sell several decades worth of liquor tax money so that he can hand out corporate welfare today:
Kasich last week unveiled his state budget proposal, which includes a plan to lease the state's liquor distribution operation -- which of late has drawn record profits -- and use the cash to fund his crony capitalism private economic development machine.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Video Game Movie

I didn't know much about Battle:Los Angeles when I went to see it yesterday, but I already knew something I didn't like about it. This is a mild slight, but any movie that takes place in LA automatically gets me thinking that it's primary mission is navel gazing by the movie's makers. I can almost see a guy on the set telling a post production person to make sure that his apartment shows up in the intro sequence. It almost has a wiff of laziness to it, which would be forgivable if the rest of the film is good

Unfortunately though, the movie was a bit of a bore, kind of like watching someone play a video game that features long, unskippable cut scenes. It had great set piece action sequences, with lots of first person camera views, interspersed with eye rolling dialog breaks delivered by one dimensional characters ('dead meat', 'virgin', 'grizzled commander', etc). Adding to the video game motif, in the confrontation with the final boss, the characters had to defend their 'rally point' for a set amount of time, and Kid Sandmich said that I unconsciously chuckled a bit during the movie when I later related to him that I expected a red countdown timer to appear in the upper right corner to let the player movie goer know how long to keep the defense up.

It doesn't help that the movie's plot is fairly similar to the Resistance series of games. Interestingly, although the game wasn't even announced at the time, a real billboard ad for Resistance 3 was put up strictly so that it could appear in the movie. It goes without saying that the PS3 exclusive Resistance is made by a Sony owned video game developer (Insomniac) and the movie studio that made Battle:Los Angeles (Columbia) is also Sony owned.

It's enough to make me think that someone pitched a Resistance:Fall of Man movie, but the producers wisely chose not to make it strictly a 'video game movie', so they took drastic action and changed the words before and after the colon.

(My buddy related that the movie has a good vibe due to the favorable portrayal of the U.S. Marines in the movie, a rare event for Hollywood. You'll note though that I didn't say 'U.S. military' as the politicians in Washington are doing their best to destroy the military and are largely succeeding. It's sad that it's turning into a group of worthless job classes (like the nutritionist I saw on TV), lesbians, diversacrats and those aspiring to be pensioners living on disability, but it wouldn't shock me that much if such a group had trouble defending the coastlines of our nation from even a mediocre alien invasion. After all, they can't even defeat a bunch of African hillbillies in canoes on the coast of Somalia.)

Friday, March 04, 2011

Canned Pig

I recently had the lovely experience of sitting in Parma traffic court due to a B.S. traffic ticket written by the overtime extortionists that pass themselves off as police officers. I was pissed off granted, but as I sat there I grew even more pissed off, but not about my situation. I was able to make the trek over to court from work during my lunch hour and thus didn't have to take any time off. As well, although I was displeased by my fine, it wasn't some financial wrecking ball. However, most of the rest of the people in the court were typical Parma blue collar workers, people who are lucky to ever see three digit sums in their bank account, let alone four. In it's infinite wisdom the state of Ohio decided to shackle these people with a horrible regressive income tax of $100 minimum court costs. On top of that, at least while I was there, I didn't see anyone in the court who needed to be there. The worst story of all was a woman whose adult son had a suspended license, and her son borrowed her car without asking, but that didn't stop Parma's idiotic finest from filing charges against her to the tune of $1,000 and thirty days in jail for 'allowing' an unlicensed driver to borrow her car.

Stepping over for some fresh police union thug news, there's this bitty (thx Instapundit) about the lawyer for the Ohio police union making threats against a politician who voted, in part, to help put an end to public union thuggery. Also from Instapundit is this bit about a woman who was subjected to third world levels of justice for photographing a military helicopter from the side of the road, as the arresting officer wanted to 'teach tea baggers a lesson'.

I remember reading a bit in a libertarian magazine where the author pressed the point that the police should be eliminated. At the time I thought the guy was insane, but with the under-prosecution of real crimes, under-sentencing of serious criminals and the extreme prosecution of fake and non-existent crimes, I'm beginning to think that mob justice does have it's appeal. Maybe at least the slate should cleaned and all existing police officers, at least in Ohio, should fired and then after a spell, rehired as the local public sees fit (and maybe then only as the need arises).