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The Circle of Life (5001) January 28, 2012

Posted by BrewFan in News.
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Dedicated to the Man of Substance™ for his role in foisting IB onto an unsuspecting world.

The H&H Car Wash and Coffee Shop (5000) January 27, 2012

Posted by Michael in Family.
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So, for post #5,000, let’s pause and celebrate what America, and life, is really supposed to be about.

Concrete Buffer Gone Wild (4999) January 26, 2012

Posted by Michael in News.
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I don’t think this was intended as an allegory for the Obama Administration, but . . .

Post 4998 January 26, 2012

Posted by geoff in News.
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Yep, this post leaves us with only 2 to go before we hit 5000. And, as I mentioned before, my little site is about to hit 1000. So I propose: 1) that Michael prepare a post to serve as, and commemorate, the 5000th post; 2) that I time the 1000th post at Uncommon Misconceptions for the same day; and 3) that massive, riotous celebration ensue.

Can I get an amen?

Hey! Food Police!! Leave Them Kids Alone! January 25, 2012

Posted by geoff in News.
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Those poor, frustrated, food Nazis:

The revamped school lunches at Los Angeles Unified School District have won awards, commending them for improving the menu at the second largest school district in the nation. Too bad the students don’t agree.

Rejecting healthful alternatives like vegetarian curries and tamales, quinoa salads and pad Thai noodles, students are throwing them in the trash by the thousands, bringing junk food from home and buying instant noodles and other decidedly unhealthy fare from the “black markets” that have begun to thrive at campuses across the district, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Not only is the healthy food initiative failing, but it’s leading to wasted food and malnourished students:

Participation in the school lunch program has dropped by thousands of students, who are ditching lunch and are suffering from hunger-related ailments.

Fortunately, wiser heads are now prevailing:

The complaints have been heard and LAUSD is planning changes to the menu, the Times reports. Burgers and (healthy) pizza are coming back, and dishes like quinoa salads and brown rice cutlets are out.

Actual LAUSD lunch shown below (photo from here).

Yeah, I'd probably toss that, too.

Helping Fact Check the POTUS’s SOTU: Are We Really Ahead of Schedule in Doubling US Exports? January 25, 2012

Posted by geoff in News.
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Two years ago, I set a goal of doubling U.S. exports over five years. With the bipartisan trade agreements we signed into law, we’re on track to meet that goal ahead of schedule. (Applause.) And soon, there will be millions of new customers for American goods in Panama, Colombia, and South Korea. Soon, there will be new cars on the streets of Seoul imported from Detroit, and Toledo, and Chicago.

Kinda wondering if we’re really on track to double US exports over five years. Lessee:
Hunh. So 2 years ago we were at $140 billion/month in exports, and now we’re stalled at just under $180 billion/month. In fact our export situation hasn’t improved much since last April, so we’ve been stagnating for 9 months. Must be the power of those trade agreements.

So where will we be in 5 years? If we take our progress so far, exports have been growing at about 13.4% per year. If we continue that growth rate, we’ll get to an increase of 85%. Not quite the 100% the POTUS was bragging about.

But he can be forgiven for thinking it would be easy. After all, Bush did it:

Given that exports doubled in the 90’s and again under Bush, Obama’s economic team probably thought we were due. And given that our exports were doing very well in 2008, they probably thought that they could take credit for the natural rebound in exports once the global downturn passed.

But alas, that day appears to be farther and farther away:

Although the stock market has displayed the most powerful early year rally in 15 years, investors hesitated Tuesday as the International Monetary Fund said the globe is in a precarious financial situation and at risk of a worldwide recession.

In a report on the global economy, the IMF said the eurozone is “deeply into the danger zone,” and the risks are spilling into the United States, Latin America, Asia and other emerging markets. IMF chief economist Olivier Blanchard called Europe the “epicenter of the danger” and said that if the financial crisis intensifies, “the world could be plunged into another recession.”

I think Obama’s optimism isn’t very well founded.

But then, harking back to our “Recovery Summer,” it never is.

Helping Fact Check the POTUS’s SOTU: WTO Complaints Against China January 25, 2012

Posted by geoff in News.
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A lot of people have been fact checking last night’s SOTU address by the President. I was reading through ABC’s version, and found myself a little unhappy with this bit:

President Obama said tonight that he’s “brought trade cases against China at nearly twice the rate as the last administration.”President Bush filed seven complaints with the World Trade Organization against China, over eight years. Obama has filed five in three years.

Obama’s team must have done some math: If Obama keeps that rate the same, he’ll have filed about 13 by the time his (presumptive) second term ends. That’s just one short of 14, which would be, as Obama said, twice as much as Bush’s seven.

Here’s a list of US actions against China since 2001, with Obama’s in blue and Bush’s in maroon:

  • Anti-Dumping and Countervailing Duty Measures on Broiler Products from the United States (9/20/2011)
  • Measures concerning wind power equipment (12/22/2010)
  • Countervailing and Anti-Dumping Duties on Grain Oriented Flat-rolled Electrical Steel from the United States (9/15/2010)
  • Certain Measures Affecting Electronic Payment Services (9/15/2010)
  • Measures Related to the Exportation of Various Raw Materials (6/23/2009)
  • Grants, Loans and Other Incentives (12/19/2008)
  • Measures Affecting Financial Information Services and Foreign Financial Information Suppliers (3/3/2008)
  • Measures Affecting Trading Rights and Distribution Services for Certain Publications and Audiovisual Entertainment Products (4/10/2007)
  • Measures Affecting the Protection and Enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights (4/10/2007)
  • Certain Measures Granting Refunds, Reductions or Exemptions from Taxes and Other Payments (2/2/2007)
  • Measures Affecting Imports of Automobile Parts (3/30/2006)
  • Value-Added Tax on Integrated Circuits (3/18/2004)

Hmmmm – at first blush ABC appears to be correct – Bush had 7 complaints while Obama had 5. So what’s my beef?

The Lie. Well, first of all, China didn’t even join the World Trade Organization until the end of 2001, so the Bush administration couldn’t have submitted a complaint during Bush’s first year. Second, China was given a 5-year grace period to come into compliance with WTO policies. This is usually accompanied by an informal grace period during which no complaints are filed. The Bush administration filed a complaint in 2004 as a warning shot, but in 2006 China’s grace period was cut short:

The West at first was tolerant, sending only small warnings to Beijing. The first was in March 2004 when Washington filed a WTO complaint against China’s preferential refund of value added tax for domestically produced or designed integrated circuits. Beijing had no leg to stand on and quickly repealed the offending tax break. Nevertheless, the Chinese did not take the hint. In February 2006, America warned China that its informal grace period was over, and, after more Chinese foot dragging, Washington and Brussels took the unprecedented step of jointly filing a complaint at the end of March.

Obama managed to make his claim by ignoring the facts that China basically had no complaints filed against it during its first 4 years, and that the Bush administration was very proactive in submitting complaints even before China was required to come into full compliance with WTO standards. Let’s redo the math:

Bush administration filed 6 complaints in 2006-2008. Obama administration filed 5 complaints in 2009-2011. This was a stupid contest from the start, but it looks like a tie to me.

And a tie means that President Obama lied.

*You may have noticed a few paragraphs ago where I said “First” and then “Second.” There is a Third: when the Bush administration began, Chinese imports were around $100 billion and our trade deficit was about $83 billion. When the Obama administration took over, Chinese imports were $337 billion, and the trade deficit was $268 billion. Kind of a different scale of problem.

UK Health Care: Now Creating (Involuntary) Breatharians January 24, 2012

Posted by geoff in News.
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As we (futilely) resist traveling the path that the United Kingdom has forged for us, the consequences of being herded down that path become more appalling. Here’s the latest good news:

While GPs are preparing to go on strike, and consultants and nurses ratchet up their attacks on the Coalition’s proposed reforms to the NHS, four Britons are dying of dehydration and malnutrition in hospital each day.

Few deaths can be as agonising as those caused by lack of liquids and nutrients, yet few deaths are as preventable. In every hospital, water and food are plentiful. In every hospital, nurses, doctors, registrars, and cleaners rush about the wards. Is it too much to ask that they should notice that a patient has not drunk or eaten in days? Is it too much to ask them to stop on their rounds and actually pour some water, or hand over a roll? Surely in the 21st century a first world health system should be able to offer better care to its charges.

But that’s the point – when you focus on justice rather than excellence, excellence must suffer.

As must the patients.

Fill in the Blank January 23, 2012

Posted by geoff in News.
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Rap is an overall winner, but loser at the Grammys

Since its beginnings in the 1970s, rap music has transformed from an underground, street-based sound to a definitive part of pop culture, transcending race and becoming one of the strongest — and most …

They Keep Saying . . . January 23, 2012

Posted by Michael in Politics, Pop Culture, Religion, Science.
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. . . that the recent (and historically insignificant) uptick in global temperatures is a catastrophe caused by CO2, which is about to run out of control.  They breathlessly point towards computer models (as opposed to actual science) in support of their alarums.

I don’t think any responsible person denies the uptick.  We just question whether science really supports the alleged cause.  The Priesthood of AGW Believers continues, despite all evidence, to insist that it must be human energy consumption — plus eating meat from animals that fart a lot.  They sneer at other explanations, like solar activity.

Take a look.

Thanks to Liberalguy, where I found this graph.

I am not a scientist, nor do I play one on TV, but it seems kinda obvious that solar flux (the IR band in particular) emitted by cyclical sunspost activity just might somehow relate to planetary temperature fluctuations.

Of course, some real scientists are thinking about this in a reasonable way.  The issue is not just sunspots, any more than it is just CO2.  Clouds  and air pressure are big factors, which act sort of like global thermostats that moderate the earth’s energy budget.  The poorly named “greenhouse effect” is real, but affects climate in a variety of ways.  Mostly, it cools  the earth, but the effect varies by altitude.

Some interesting scientific mumbo jumbo is below the break.  Long story short, climate is way more complex and reactive than most liberals want to admit.  The myth about the CO2 menace continues to be exposed as a green fantasy that was manufactured to prop up an otherwise bankrupt socialist agenda.


Why Apple Doesn’t Make Anything in America Anymore January 22, 2012

Posted by geoff in News.
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A friend of mine (an econ major) sent me this via email today:

NYT on Apple and American Manufacturing

and this animation itself is entertaining:

I don’t know about the jobs-multiplier argument buried in the animation. I think the structural employment argument being made there is far less important than the cultural one made in the article itself.

The central problem is that a bunch of middle-class Americans don’t want to work that hard. They’d rather watch their kids play soccer. They’re being replaced by labor which is a lot more willing to work hard, like 12-hour days hard. That’s the intensive margin. And at the extensive margin, Team China can throw masses of people at these problems, and quickly. Sure overseas labor is cheaper, but apparently labor cost differences alone aren’t big enough to drive work overseas. It’s just icing on the cake.

My favorite Jobsian quote from this story:

In 2007, a little over a month before the iPhone was scheduled to appear in stores, Mr. Jobs beckoned a handful of lieutenants into an office. For weeks, he had been carrying a prototype of the device in his pocket.

Mr. Jobs angrily held up his iPhone, angling it so everyone could see the dozens of tiny scratches marring its plastic screen, according to someone who attended the meeting. He then pulled his keys from his jeans.

People will carry this phone in their pocket, he said. People also carry their keys in their pocket. “I won’t sell a product that gets scratched,” he said tensely. The only solution was using unscratchable glass instead. “I want a glass screen, and I want it perfect in six weeks.”

After one executive left that meeting, he booked a flight to Shenzhen, China. If Mr. Jobs wanted perfect, there was nowhere else to go.


Yeah, my friends never send me pictures of hot babes – instead I get emails like this.

Dangers of PIPA / SOPA January 19, 2012

Posted by Retired Geezer in Crime, Law, Websites, WTF?.
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