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.

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