Thursday, February 03, 2011

Summer is Here!

Two 80-degree days have brought the hordes of fence lizards and brown anoles out of their two-month "winter" hibernation. They're still a bit groggy; I nearly squished a couple that didn't scurry quite fast enough. But they're out and about! Some places know that winter is over at the appearance of certain flowers or birds; here it's three-inch long lizards running under your feet and trying to get into your apartment.

Tax season lumbers on; I only wish that 80% of the returns I complete were something other than complete frauds. I wouldn't care so much except my personal PTIN is on every return. This has to be my last big-box tax season. I don't know for sure what I'll be doing next year, but I won't be doing this again.

Egypt is on fire. I know there is a significant percentage of this country that are expecting Egypt to emerge from this as a liberal Western democracy. Sorry. I've visited there. Ain't gonna happen. Radical Islam will finish doing to Egypt what is has already done to Lebanon and will soon be doing to Turkey: create yet-another festering boil on the planet. Thank the gods that so far the Egyptian military seems to be taking a neutral position. I don't know which would be more disgusting; the carnage what would result from a modern military opening fire on civilians, or that they would be using hardware we gave to them.

Seger is touring in 2011!!! Woohoo!!!

Volkswagen is playing with a plug-in hybrid that gets 261 miles per gallon. Of course I'm betting that the price will be well into six figures. VW only plans on building 100 of them; sort of half-way between a concept car and a production vehicle. I do note that it sports a diesel engine; if we would get even semi-smart we could put a huge dent in our oil consumption by getting over our fear-and-loathing of diesel passenger vehicles.

And VW scores another advertising win:

Either that kid is the world's best actor, or the producer/director never told him the car was going to actually start. Somehow, the second option makes it even funnier.

I was only two when the Apollo 1 fire killed Gus Grissom, Ed White and Roger Chaffee, so I don't remember it first-hand. (For anyone interested in the Apollo program, I recommend the HBO series From Earth to the Moon.) I was at a client's office doing a field audit when Space Shuttle Challenger exploded 73 seconds after launch, and was driving home from work when Space Shuttle Columbia disintegrated on re-entry. In all three cases, the crew knew what was happening, knew they were helpless to do anything about it. Knew they were going to die.

Lyrics are here.

I while back, I expressed some mild hope that at least some airports' survival instinct would kick in and they would replace the TSA with private screeners. It wouldn't have been a big improvement, but at least the Iron Law's kung foo grip on air travel would be slightly lessened. A few days ago, I received my reward for allowing myself a moment of guarded optimism:

A program that allows airports to replace government screeners with private screeners is being brought to a standstill, just a month after the Transportation Security Administration said it was "neutral" on the program.

The number one reason to be a pessimist: You are never disappointed. I'm sure someday, people will look back fondly to a time when we had a functioning air travel system. Sort of like they do now with trains.

In economic news, we have oil over $90/barrel and steadily creeping upwards. Other juicy bits from the week:

Maryland is dimming the lights on highways.
New-home sales hit 47-year low.
Federal deficit will be 1.5 trillion this year.
Rand Paul proposes to cut the deficit to a mere trillion (cue peals of laughter from the rest of Congress and the mainstream media; that Rand is such a gas!).
Medicare official breaks ranks and states the blindingly obvious; health care reform will not save money.
The US Senate considers allowing states to officially go bankrupt (as opposed to the de facto bankruptcy all of them are in now).
Metal prices are back up to levels that encourage metal thefts.

Meanwhile, the stock market, continuing to demonstrate a complete lack of connection with reality, has doubled its value since it hit bottom with the Dow closing over 12,000 yesterday.

Speaking of Obamacare, a federal judge has ruled key parts of the legislation unconstitutional. Not that something so quaint as the US Constitution will actually stop its implementation. Meanwhile, several states have started muttering about nullification, a polite way of telling the US Congress to fold its health care bill until it's all points, then shove it up their collective ass. (I believe the bill was large enough for a two-page-per-Congresscritter minimum.) Meanwhile meanwhile, HHS continues to hand out waivers to the politically-favored like candy on Halloween. Ya know, it's kinda fun watching Obama's legacy turn to ash.

We are all insane. At least, that's what the creators of the latest version of the DSM want us to believe. I probably should buy stock in the drug companies now that doctors will be able to put every person in the US on Prozac, Wellbutrin et al. Think of how great it will be! America will be one giant Disney Land from sea to shining sea! Nothing but happy faces while we slide down Hubbert's peak!

Well, I'm off to read some happy-clappy predictions about how all 7 billion people on the earth will be able to live like middle class Americans. At least National Geographic has really cool pictures to distract you from the gruesome reality. Have a great day!

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