Saturday, October 30, 2010

At Long Last

I finally convinced someone to give me an interview yesterday. I thought it went OK (meaning that no one flat-out told me to go piss up a rope), so.... And Debbie's news I mentioned last week was that she'll be getting a 20% raise. This week was too hectic for her to have any blogging time, so I get to blab it to everyone.

Because of our schedules, we don't seem to be home on the same days anymore, so we've done zero exploring or picture-taking. Not that there is much to take pictures of around here unless you're into abandoned strip malls and boarded up houses. I did spot a couple Sandhill cranes standing in the grass strip in the middle of the road this morning. They're a bit creepy; I'm not sure I'm comfortable with a bird that can stand on the ground and look me in the eye. A tad too Jurassic Park for my taste.

While spending some time on Facebook last night, I noticed a theme: everyone wants to tell all the politicians to SHUT UP! Not that members of the ruling class ever listen to us mere plebeians. Otherwise, there would have been no bank bailouts or Obamacare; but that's a whole 'nother kettle of fish. From what I've seen of political ads here in Florida: If they are capable of convincing anyone of anything other than all politicians are moral and mental defectives, then we need to bring back IQ testing at the polls. And fast.

[We interrupt this blog post to bring you the following message: Blogger decided this morning that it no longer recognizes the user ID I've been using for years. In the attempt to figure out what the heck it was doing, Blogger may have sent e-mails to anyone who signed up waaaaaaaay back in the dark ages to post to this blog. If you get an e-mail from Google, just ignore it. Anyway; back to our regularly scheduled blog post.]

Two more Florida banks did the ol' face-plant last week along with five others, bringing the year-to-date total to 139. That's just one shy of last year's 140 bank failures. Good thing the recession is over and we're in a recovery. In a glimmer of good news, it doesn't look like any banks were shut down yesterday.

Food prices are back in the news. The so-called "core price index" (yet another doctored government statistic) has been flat or showing deflation for a couple years, but as anyone who eats or drives has probably already noticed, food and energy, both of which are excluded from the core index, have been pushing steadily upwards. Naturally, the linked headline is alarmist, along with the prominent link to an article stating that the UN views any food shortages or price increases as an opportunity to meddle. For perspective, we're not even back to where food and energy prices were in 2008. What should be noted is the cause of increase in food prices: Biofuels. I'm all for turning inedible stuff into alcohol, assuming it can be done economically without tax subsidies, but burning food in our cars is just plain stupid.

After extracting its pound of flesh, Big Green is allowing a full-scale solar electric plant to be built. I've liked the idea of solar power towers since reading about them back in the 1970's. Like all solar, they can't be used for base load, but they may make sense for daytime peak load in desert areas. Given the billions we've pissed into the sands of the Middle East, $6 billion to see if the thing will work is probably worth it.

Still more on the is-higher-education-worth-the-cost question:

Over 317,000 waiters and waitresses have college degrees (over 8,000 of them have doctoral or professional degrees), along with over 80,000 bartenders, and over 18,000 parking lot attendants. All told, some 17,000,000 Americans with college degrees are doing jobs that the BLS says require less than the skill levels associated with a bachelor’s degree.

...the growing disconnect between labor market realities and the propaganda of higher-education apologists is causing more and more people to graduate and take menial jobs or no job at all. This is even true at the doctoral and professional level—there are 5,057 janitors in the U.S. with Ph.D.’s, other doctorates, or professional degrees.

Many years ago, Scott Adams imagined Dilbert's garbage man being a member of Mensa. It seems less funny now that reality has caught up.

What I do find amusing is the constant use of religious terms by supporters of anthropogenic global warming/global climate change/global climate disruption/global whatever-term-they're-using-this-week:

The title of the article itself is rather astonishing.  The Wikipedia defines heresy as: “Heresy is a controversial or novel change to a system of beliefs, especially a religion, that conflicts with established dogma.”  The definition of dogma is “Dogma is the established belief or doctrine held by a religion, ideology or any kind of organization: it is authoritative and not to be disputed, doubted, or diverged from.”   Use of the word “heretic” by Lemonick implies general acceptance by the “insiders” of the IPCC as dogma.  If the IPCC is dogma, then count me in as a heretic.  The story should not be about me, but about how and why the IPCC became dogma.

That's from a blog post by Judith Curry, a climate scientist who was completely on-board with AGW and accepted the work of her colleagues at face value, just as most scientists do in every field of science. All was well until she started asking inconvenient questions regarding the IPCC; now she's been branded a heretic by (un-)Scientific America, and labeled a "monster" that will undue all scientific progress if she isn't silenced. We live in interesting times.

Some good news: At least one US car company is capable of building cars that people want to drive and making money without sucking on the government teat. Go Ford. This is certainly good news for an area of the country that has had three decades of consistently bad news.

A prominent black on the education of minority children:

The quest for esoteric methods of trying to educate these children proceeds as if such children had never been successfully educated before, when in fact there are concrete examples, both from history and from our own times, of schools that have been successful in educating children from low-income families and from minority families.  Yet the educational dogma of the day is that you simply cannot expect children who are not middle-class to do well on standardized tests, for all sorts of sociological and psychological reasons.

I'm still waiting for someone to explain to me why assuming black kids cannot be educated like other kids and cannot do well on standardized tests isn't just as racist as Black Codes and Jim Crow. Guess I'm just a hopeless Florida cracker.

Anyone who thinks being a cop in the US is a tough job should try it in Mexico:

All 14 police officers in Los Ramones, a rural town in northern Mexico, fled the force in terror after gunmen fired more than 1,000 bullets and flung six grenades at their headquarters on Monday night.

Yet more collateral damage in the drug wars, but it's no big; just some poor brown people.

And I'm off to do some laundry.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Time Keeps on Slippin'

A little blast from the past for those old enough to remember...

No real changes here; Debbie - working. [Updated: Debbie got some good news at work today, but I'll let her tell everyone.] Me - not working. At least not for money. I shelve books at the library for a few hours a couple days a week, but that doesn't pay. I'm still in tax class, which of course doesn't pay either. So it's not like I sit on the couch all day playing Farmville, but I'm still not contributing anything to household budget. And that's life in Sanford.

This article is supposed to be about the 15% unemployment in Las Vegas, but a throw-away line caught my attention:

Warnock, who also has industrial experience and a military background in explosives safety, said he's had a few nibbles from potential employers, but mostly for positions for which he's overqualified.

Several of us unemployed people (meaning everyone) at tax class were discussing this concept of "overqualified." Just what the hell does that mean? Other than "I'm a sniveling weasel of a manager who is terrified of anyone with a personality or any demonstrated ability to do complex tasks like show up on time or make the occasional semi-intelligent remark." My last five jobs were census, tax prep, pot scrubber, pot scrubber, pot scrubber. And yet according to a recruiter in New Hampshire, I was "overqualified" for every job in Keene, NH. Whatever, sniveling weasel.

The Worst Schools in the Country will now be feeding its students breakfast, lunch and dinner. I realize that schools lost all interest in their primary purpose decades ago (see Pournelle's Iron Law), around the same time parents lost all interest in their primary purpose, but since when did our schools become wholly-owned subsidiaries of Burger King? This article popped up the same day that I had to listen to a couple women going on and on about the horrible injustice of it all that their kids will now have to pay some pittance (less than two bucks) for breakfast and lunch at school. The horror. I guess feeding them breakfast for a few cents at home is completely out of the question, and I won't even bring up the dreaded sack lunch for fear of the permanent scarring the precious little tykes would suffer.

Speaking of the Imperial City, it's nice to know that while the rest of us are wallowing in the after-effects of the None-Dare-Call-It-Depression Recession, the District has been enjoying an economic boom that will be paid for by our great-grandchildren. We seem to be doing everything possible to make our generation the most hated in the nation's history.

It's likely a hint or a sign or an omen that you should pack it in when you are a 18-term incumbent senator and your senate campaign can only attract a single, $500 donation. It's 1994 all over again.

The banks are still trying to dance around the huge mess created when the Masters of the Universe decided that the pesky laws regarding property titles were bogging them down. Now the Cook County (Chicago) sheriffs department is refusing to enforce evictions even if the banks restart the foreclosure process. This is bad:

Nobody dares to buy or sell property because there is no way of knowing who actually owns it, whether the chain of title is on-the-level, whether (or not) there is a document somewhere with coffee mug rings and taco sauce stains denoting the past and current owners of, say, a half acre of sawgrass scrub with an abandoned harlequin brick ranch-house full of mold feasting on damp sheet-rock in the unspeakable South Florida humidity.

Not that any of this seems to register with the stock market.

One of the major annoyances we've had since opening an account at Chase Bank is the constant bombardment we get every time we walk in the door about how we should use our debit card more because not using it is "dangerous." This is, as anyone with half a brain knows, complete and utter crap. The only reason banks want people to use debit cards is so they can make millions in over-draft charges. The problem for the banks is that people are catching wise, which will likely mean a return to the Good Ol' Days of monthly fees just for having a checking account. As far as I'm concerned, it can't happen soon enough. I'd much rather pay $9 a month or keep a certain balance in my account than have my bank actively working to wreck my personal finances for fun and profit.

More fun on the church-state front:

The city council decided last month to remove the [Christian] flag from above the monument in Central Park after a resident complained, and after city leaders got letters from the American Civil Liberties Union and Americans United for the Separation of Church and State urging them to remove it.

These cases always leave me conflicted. On the one hand,  it's like the ACLU et al never want this issue to die, going around finding obscure places no one has ever heard of and, literally in many instances, making a federal case out of nothing. I'm betting that prior to all this, 90% of the Christians in King, North Carolina wouldn't have known the Christian flag if they saw one. All that's been accomplished is to harden the position of those who already see the ACLU as evil incarnate, as well as convincing those who simply didn't care that the ACLU is a group of cry-babies who grow faint at the mere sight of a manger or bit of cloth on a pole. The other side of the argument is that if you expect everyone to pay for your little memorial in the middle of town, don't get all pissy when one of those everyone's has a problem with the flag you fly over it. The answer is simple: pay to put whatever display you want on your private property and the ACLU will be right there next to you defending your right to do so.

I stumbled across an interesting story about Albert Einstein. As with most historical figures, he is reduced to an icon; the mad scientist with wild hair, scribbling equations and mumbling deep thoughts to himself. While the wild hair thing is certainly accurate:

there was a great deal more to the man than most people today are aware of.

That's it for this week.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Still awake

Of course, since I have get up around 345a, I can't fall asleep. I'm glad I'm not the one driving tomorrow! I'm sure Gelinda will keep me awake with talking, but I would sure love to nap during the 3 -4 hr trip down. Oh well .... I can sleep all I want as soon as I get back and Sunday.

NCL Epic

Tomorrow morning have to be up before the birds to get ready to meet a coworker and head down to the port of Miami. We are doing a ship inspection w/ luncheon aboard the Norwegian Epic. It is one of the new design concepts ship. Curved walls -- supposedly "interesting bathroom accomodations" in the staterooms and much more. I can't wait to see it. Too bad we can't find a place to hide out and just "happen" to not leave the ship when it leaves port. After this week at work, I need a cruise.

We had a huge Travelzoo promotion -- teamed up with NCL and offered some unbelievable prices on the Jewel and Gem sailing from NYC in Jan and first of Feb for a 10nt eastern Caribbean cruise. Inside cabins are starting at $499 plus $159.xx taxes per person and we are offering a shipboard credit of $100 per cabin! Can you believe it?! Our phones have been ringing non-stop since the sale started Wednesday. Majority of the the week, we have had calls backed up in the phone queue. Swamp city ... don't get paid overtime, but ended up working until 8/830p Wed and Thurs and 9p tonite. If anyone wants to cruise and can go in Jan or early Feb, just let me know. I think the sale ends Monday or Tuesday. I need the bookings.

Random Catch-Up Post

Still not much happening here in Florida. Debbie has had a couple crazy-busy days at work, which is great. My days are still filled with rejection when I'm not simply being completely ignored.

For a change of pace, we'll start with good news. The world celebrates the rescue of the Chilean miners. The rescue was an amazing feat of engineering. For the men and their families, this is far from over, but they are out of the ground. And another technological marvel hits a milestone: The Opportunity rover is closing in on 15 miles total driving. That doesn't sound like a big deal, but given the original expectations, it's as close to miraculous as we're likely to see. Still not a peep out of Spirit; I'm guessing it froze to death over the winter. There were just too many strikes against the poor little guy.

In less happy news, at least two states (Illinois and New York) are doing their best to screw out-of-country military personnel out of the vote. Just how stupid to you have to be to piss off heavily-armed men with your gross incompetence? The mental and moral bankruptcy is truly astounding.

School gives out "free" laptops to students. School uses installed software to spy on kids in their bedrooms using the laptops' web cam. School gets busted and ends up paying out $600,000 of taxpayer money. No school employees are found guilty of any wrong-doing. Because, ya know, they meant well and weren't really perverts who got a kick out of watching teenagers undressing in their bedrooms and that one kid definitely looked like he was doing drugs when he was really eating Mike & Ikes and we really can't figure out what everyone is getting so worked up over.

In anticipation of Ben "Helicopter Drop" Bernanke rev-ing the printing presses back up to 110%, the dollar is crashing against pretty much every currency. This would be good news for US exporters if the US actually made anything the rest of the world wanted. It is also widely believed that the Fed action will have little or no impact on employment, but given how miserable the average economist is at fortune-telling, it may, in fact, work. Or not. Being a pessimist can be a lot of work figuring whether two pessimisms cancel each other out or become a pessimism2.

Speaking of pessimism, here is one view of the next 30 years. Personally, I think the guy is too optimistic; generalized increases in the cost of energy will play havoc with the high-tech future we all have come to feel entitled to.

Speaking of entitlement, French students are trying to shut down the country because the government has proposed to increase the retirement age from 60 to 62. Personally, I hope the students get what they want; one less country we have to worry about. If the French want to become part of the PIIGS economic disaster, I won't stand in their way. Remember the Third Chinese Curse: May you find all that you seek.

So what in hell would cause someone who is, at least chronologically, an adult to harass a dying seven-year-old child by putting their face on a skull-and-crossbones and parking a coffin in front of the family home? Mental illness? [Update: Mental illness is looking more likely.] Well, not exactly:

A member of Kathleen's family says the bad blood started about two-years ago after the two families had a falling out over a birthday party at the Rose house.  At the party, kids were using a "bounce-house" and playing games in the front yard.  The source says that Jennifer Petkov texted someone in the Rose family, asking if her kids could come to the event.  A response to the text did not come quickly enough and it angered Jennifer.  According to the Rose family, she's been harassing them ever since. 

Wow. Because diss-ing you is the only possible explanation why someone hosting a giant kid party at their home doesn't drop everything and respond instantly to your text message. It's very simple: Your desire to speak to me does not constitute an obligation on my time. Right now, one of the people in my tax class is flunking out because he spends the entire three hours texting people. When the instructor told him point blank to put his phone away, his response was, "Tell people to stop texting me!" Are you serious? Do you and your homies belong to the International Federation of Superheroes? Shut the damn thing off!! Texting someone does not obligate them to respond at all, much less instantly. Calling someone on their cell phone does not obligate them to answer. NOTHING YOU HAVE TO SAY IS THAT IMPORTANT! Get over yourself.

One of the big news items from the last week or so is that banks have basically thrown in the towel on foreclosures. Not out of any altruism, but because modern wonders like Ditech botched the paperwork so badly that no one is sure who owns what:

Did nobody, for instance at Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, review any of the paperwork fluttering in from places like Countrywide or Ditech and scores of other boiler rooms where mortgages were hatched like Peking ducklings?  There was an awful lot of it, I'm sure, but aren't there a lot of seat-warmers at Fannie and Freddie who collect their salaries for the express purpose of reading mortgage documents? Was nobody the least bit suspicious about the mysterious flurry of "restaurant employees" and "lawn-care technicians" buying million-dollar condominiums with no money down at terms that would make a three-card monte dealer weep with laughter?

Apparently not. And now anyone buying real estate could find themselves facing foreclosure even though they paid cash for their house.

Well, I need go practice doing taxes.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Why Our Schools Suck

I know this is beating-a-dead-horse territory, but this is from Jerry Pournelle's Thursday View:

I note that Michelle Rhee has resigned as DC Public Schools chancellor. Teachers unions are cheering wildly, thus proving once again that the purpose of the public school system is to pay bad teachers and make sure that teacher performance does not affect teacher pay or job retention. Once that mission is accomplished the public schools are encouraged to do other things, but first the bad teachers must be assured their jobs.

Michelle Rhee was making some headway in cleaning up the worst and most-expensive school system in the nation, but just as Jaime Escalante learned, the goal of the education industry has little or nothing to do with education. The unions cannot tolerate any teacher who teaches, nor any administrator who rewards teachers who teach and fires those who cannot.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

At Long Last

Finally got caught up on photos (at least the ones taken prior to moving to Florida):

When we arrived in Michigan, the first thing we did was to invite ourselves over to my nephew and niece-in-law's house for free food and some Rock Band. A couple days after that, we made a run over to Lake Michigan with my niece and nephew-in-law. Then it was further north for the 2010 Wiklanski Reunion and Debbie's niece's graduation open house.

On the way back to New Hampshire, we finally saw a moose. It had a sidecar. And no, I don't get it either.

I still have Florida photos on the camera. I think they are all of the apartment because that and WalMart are the only places we've been since we landed here. We really need to get out more.

Speaking of which, after two weeks of run-around, I start volunteering at the library on Sunday. As of right now, it's just a couple days a week for a couple hours a day. More an excuse to leave the apartment than anything else. Still no word on any sort of paying job, so I guess I need to get busy with my house-husbandy chores.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Another Week Slips By

Another week gone and not much new to report. I'm still floundering around looking for work, we're still in Florida, Debbie is still plugging away at her job, I'm still in tax class, and it's still in the mid- to high-80's here in the Sunshine State. Which pretty much wraps up the week.

As much as I hate the idea of more regulations coming out of the Imperial City, I can certainly sympathize with the desire to force people to hang up and drive. I've been nearly run down twice in two weeks by people paying more attention to yapping on their cell phones than on where they are going and what is happening around them (like traffic signals turning red; they're sneaky that way). Of course, it would be nice if law enforcement set the example. I know, I know; that's just crazy talk.

Speaking of stupid people, there is a new book that I may have to spring for; The Dumbest Generation. From a review at The Boston Globe:

Second-graders who can't tie shoes or zip jackets. Four-year-olds in Pull-Ups diapers. Five-year-olds in strollers. Teens and preteens befuddled by can openers and ice-cube trays. College kids who've never done laundry, taken a bus alone or addressed an envelope.

Are we raising a generation of nincompoops?

I'm not sure I buy into all the gloom and despair; as the reviewer points out, some of this is the result of technology. My shoes have Velcro instead of laces and my sandals have Velcro instead of buckles and I have every intention of keeping it that way. A generation raised with Velcro shoes isn't going to know how to tie shoelaces any more than I know how to milk a cow or any woman under the age of 80 knows how to lace a corset (or even what a corset is). But when large numbers of people are incapable of personal hygiene or feeding themselves or simply getting through an ordinary day without outside intervention, there is a definite nincompoop problem.

Brazil elected an illiterate clown to its congress:

Francisco Everardo Oliveira Silva, whose clown name is Tiririca ("Grumpy"), got more than 1.3 million votes, more than twice the number of votes received by his next closest competitor. How did he do it? With complete honesty.

"What does a congressman do?" Grumpy said in campaign ads. "The truth is I don't know. But vote for me and I'll [find out and] tell you." He promised, in fact, to do nothing during his term other than finding out what they do in Congress and telling the voters about it, and voters seemed to think that was a great idea. Or they may have been swayed by Grumpy's slogan: "It can't get any worse!"

If this guy manages to actually take his place in Brazil's congress (there were attempts to disqualify him from even running due to his illiteracy), we'll not only have an example of an honest politician and the Worlds Best Campaign Slogan EVAAAAR; we'll have to stop calling politicians ass-clowns as that now seems to be giving them too much credit.

Here is a basic lesson in insurance:

Firefighters in rural Tennessee let a home burn to the ground last week because the homeowner hadn't paid a $75 fee.

Everyone is all upset because some hick "forgot" (yea, right) to pay for fire protection, and the fire department allowed his house to burn down. The fire department did EXACTLY the right thing. If the fire department allowed the homeowner to pay after-the-fact, why would anyone bother to pay? If AAA or Allstate allowed you to buy car insurance the day after you have an accident and fixed your car, how many people would bother with car insurance, and how long would it take to bankrupt the insurance company? For extra credit, what does this have to do with Obamacare?

This week's economic news:

The IMF utters the "D" word.
People with too much debt refuse to take on more debt. Damn them!
Record number of people on food stamps.

At the current rate of "recovery," it will take ten years to get back to December 2007 level of employment. That's a straight-line projection, not the more-likely U-shaped recovery. Even then, this will be the longest and deepest post-war drop in employment.

The stock markets, being completely rational, screamed, "Damn the torpedoes! Ramming speed!"

A second Chinese probe successfully entered lunar orbit. This was a backup of the first orbiter, but instead of doing a NASA and laying it out as a lawn ornament/owlery, they intelligently decided to go ahead and launch it. Their schedule is an unmanned lander on the moon in 2013, a sample return mission in 2017 and a manned lander in 2020. There is no law of the universe that guarantees the primary language spoken in space will be English. The writers of Firefly may turn out to be prophets.

And we need to get motivated and make a library run.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Peak Oil

As explained by Big Oil:

Monday, October 04, 2010

Whatz Matter?!

I have no idea what is the matter with me. I am still getting "sick to my stomach" each day I have to go to work. Today I made another major mistake --- those that know me, know this is not the norm with me. I feel like quitting, but I can't. I hope things get better really soon. Please pray for me or come over and bang my head against the wall and tell me to straighten up! Thanks :-)

Saturday, October 02, 2010

It's October?!?!

I can't believe it's the first of October. My brain is still back in July or August, or maybe early September. But the calendar says we're in the final quarter of 2010, so it must be true.

The job situation hasn't changed. I actually had an offer, but turned it down. I would have had to buy the hardware and software, done all the marketing on my time and my dime, then give someone else 20% of whatever I made as a, well, a fee of some sort. Not sure what for. No thanks. I can do all that and keep 100% of what I make at no greater risk and at lower start-up cost completely on my own, which is what I was figuring on doing once we settle somewhere for more than 12 months.

In the meantime, I've been sending out a dozen or so applications/resumes a day and not single word in return. Not even rejections. Just nothing. It's like the whole thing is some sort of sick joke. And it isn't just me; I've talked to a number of other people around here that are having the same result. There also seems to be something called "group interviews" that, as far as I can tell from people who have suffered through them, are like some sick reality show. Who the hell comes up with this stuff? Anyway. Job search. Not going well. Moving on.

What is it that compels people from New York to always, always, announce that fact within the first 10 seconds of any conversation? First, the fact that you mispronounce the name of your native state/city is a dead give-away of your geographical origins. Second, no one is impressed in any way by the accident of your birth place. No one believes that being from "New Yawk" or "Brawklan" automatically makes you tough or gritty. Neither do the stories of the never-ending string of conflicts that make up your so-called life. Just. Shut. Up.

Yes; it's been one of those weeks.

The month of September was a quiet one on this site; only eleven posts and 193 unique visits. Referrals were nearly non-existent given the lack of linking and posting in other places. What few referrals we did get were people searching for Debbie's boobs, farting unicorns, and Arcosanti scams. The internet is such an, um, interesting place sometimes. Nothing really new on the OS and browser front: IE8.0 (58.5%) and Chrome (17.2%) continue to nibble away at Firefox (20.7%), and 92% of you are running XP, Vista or Win7. That doesn't really leave a lot of oxygen in the room for anyone else. Firefox 4, due out later this year, may shift the browser pie slices around a bit, but I wouldn't expect any major changes. As long as blogs remain a desktop thing (which is the case for this one at least), I don't expect to see any big OS changes either, other than some of the XP hits shifting to Win7 around Christmas. Assuming that anyone buys anything more expensive than sock monkeys this Christmas. I can guarantee that there won't be any new computers around here for a long time.

The myth of retirement is dying a long-overdue death.

A study of wealthy individuals around the world conducted by Barclays pokes holes in the notion that an individual should stop working at a pre-defined age, as it is more of an illusion than a reality.

Which more or less substitutes one problem with another:

Some believe that in an age of limited employment opportunities, a pool of talented and experienced workers who continue to work will block opportunities for younger workers. But some argue that individuals who work longer will increase the opportunities available and add to the GDP.

Given that employment opportunities have been limited for three decades, I'd go with the former.

I love when news people confuse causality with coincidence:

The recession took a dramatic toll on the institution of marriage in America last year, new figures show, with weddings for people 18 and older at the lowest ebb in over a hundred years.

Or it could be that the majority of men under the age of 40 have decided that there is no need to buy the cow when they can get the milk for free. Or that two generations of women have been told men are useless for anything other than sperm donors. Or that family courts make marriage a suckers bet for men. But no; it must be the recession.

More unstimulatin' stimulus:

The 2009 federal stimulus money that paid Hill and 84 other job counselors to teach at the state's 46 workforce centers ends Friday. Without funding, those workers must move on.

Green shoots everywhere.

As further proof that an education doesn't make you smart:

Guests at the new Vdara hotel have been complaining that because of an architectural flaw on the glass skyscraper, the sun's rays are being magnified and reflected onto an area of the pool, causing severe burns. There have been reports that even plastic has melted from the heat. 

It takes a great deal of education to make you dumb enough to build a giant concave mirror in the middle of the desert.

Martin Robbins has written a meta-science article that makes all popular science reporting obsolete. It must be aggravating to put the kind of blood sweat and tears that goes into the typical scientific paper only to see some clueless hack completely miss the point.

When a private business experiences a decline, they cut costs by laying off people, cutting hours, closing underutilized facilities, etc. When the Post Office experiences a decline, they run a $6 billion loss that is covered by taxpayers. First class mail is going the way of classified ads in the daily newspaper, and can no longer be expected to subsidize hard-copy corporate spam. Unfortunately, adapt or die never applies to government agencies. 

Rolling Stone has a great bit about the Tea Party movement. Of course, being the Rolling Stone, there are the expected cheap shots, ad hominem  attacks, and vulgarity, but the main point of the article is spot on. The Creeps in the Republican Party will do everything in their power to pull any Tea Party candidates into the fold and get them on-message. National politics in this country has enormous institutional momentum. Just because a couple Creeps get knocked off in the primaries doesn't mean they will all fold and go home.

Not that the Nuts in the Democratic party have any intention to go gentle into that good night. It looks grim for them right now, but as past elections have shown again and again, what people say to pollsters and what they do in the election booth are not always the same thing.

My take on all this is probably somewhat off, but from where I sit, everyone said "Enough!" and threw the Creeps to the curb in 2008. Unfortunately, they voted in the Nuts. Now they want to throw the Nuts out as well. The Creeps are taking that as a sign that everyone has repented and wants them back. That is dead wrong. From what I can tell, no one gives a damn about party; they want to get rid of the Creeps and the Nuts, and replace them with people who can govern regardless if they are Republican, Democratic, Tea Party, Libertarian or Beer Drinker. Unfortunately, we don't have a none-of-the-above option and, at least here in Florida, every single "person" running for office seems to be doing everything they can to make normal people despise them. That can actually be good strategy for the mid-terms; the middle is so disgusted by the campaign, they declare a pox on both houses and stay home, and the election will go to whichever side can whip their lunatic fringe into the fiercest feeding frenzy. This could be interesting.

Gold set a record again for the fifth or sixth day in a row. I had it all set up to buy sometime in 2002 or 2003 with an out-the-door price of less than $400/ounce. I spent in on college instead. Should have went with the gold. So far, the college degree has been a complete and utter waste of money. If I had went for the gold instead, I'd be sitting on $100K. Coulda, woulda shoulda.

You know things are getting bad when our overlords start trying to mellow us out with pot. I think they may be getting a bit scared. The ganja is one of the better ways to keep the pitchforks safely in the shed.

I should get off the computer and go to bed, but I'm really not tired. I'll probably end up sitting here half the night watching old Nova episodes on Hulu.