Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Thirty some-odd years ago, there was no such thing as Lake Anna, Virginia. It was created by Virginia Power as a cooling reservoir for a nuclear power plant. In an act of civic charity, the power company made the lake bigger than they needed, then segregated the water so the public could use the rest of the lake for recreation.
Dominion sculpted the lake for the North Anna nuclear plant from piney forests between Richmond and Charlottesville in the 1970s. Since then, Lake Anna has grown into a tourist attraction and a popular residential area.
About two-thirds of the lake - "the cool side" - is regulated as a public waterway and hosts a state park. The other third, separated from the main lake by earthen berms, is not.
Nice idea huh? The public gets clean, zero-carbon emission energy, and a state park to boot! Who could argue with such an arrangement? The luddite environmentalists, that’s who. They took Virginia Power to court and found a judge to take over the third of the lake used to cool the power plant.
The state for 30 years has wrongly allowed Dominion Virginia Power to discharge hot wastewater into Lake Anna from its nuclear power plant near Richmond, a judge has ruled. Environmentalists hailed the decision Friday by Richmond Circuit Court Judge Margaret P. Spencer. [...]

"This is huge," said Louis Zeller, science director for the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League. "We and lakeside residents have long believed that Dominion is guilty of thermal pollution." Such pollution, he said, threatens human health, property values and aquatic life.
Never mind that the human population, property values, and aquatic life are only there because Virginia Power created the lake in the first place!
"The cooling lagoons are private water bodies," Norvelle said. "The whole reason for building them was to cool the steam that creates electricity at the power station. We wouldn't have built them otherwise."
Let’s hope this one is overturned on appeal. We need more nuclear energy in this country, not less.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Remember back in November when we elected Lisa Jackson to regulate every industry in the nation? Her qualifications were stellar, she was vetted and questioned, and nobody had any doubt that Lisa knew more than any other human being how to run an energy industry, transportation industry, steel manufacturing, virtually every industry in a nation of 300 million people.

What’s that? You have never heard of Lisa Jackson? Well, until this morning, neither had I. But look out, because Lisa is getting ready to intrude on every single freaking aspect of your very existence.
For Lisa Jackson, the new EPA administrator, the next step for the agency when it comes to climate change will be decided by a single question: Do heat-trapping gases pose a risk?

In an interview Tuesday with The Associated Press, Jackson said she was closer to having an answer.

She said the Environmental Protection Agency will soon decide whether greenhouse gases are a danger to human health and welfare, the legal trigger for regulation under federal law.

"We are going to be making a fairly significant finding about what these gases mean for public health and the welfare of our country," Jackson said.
As if there is any doubt how this unaccountable bureaucrat will “soon decide.” When was the last time anybody in Washington decided to simply butt out and leave us alone? Oh, and for the record, according to Wikipedia Ms. Jackson has never worked in any capacity other than as a government hack. She started at the EPA, moved on to the New Jersey governor’s office, and is now back at EPA as the head honcho. She has never produced a single good or service for the economy, unless she waited tables in college. She is a lifelong government hack, and now she is preparing to take control of every industry in the United States of America. Consider this as well, when Ms. Jackson tells us she is getting ready to decide whether to regulate us or not:
DEP employees describe Ms. Jackson as employing a highly politicized approach to decision-making that resulted in suppression of scientific information, issuance of gag orders and threats against professional staff members who dared to voice concerns.
A political hack ideologue. In charge of our entire economy. Unelected and unaccountable. What a sorry disgrace.
Once upon a time, a long time ago and very far away, there was a joke in which four political philosophers — who are all dead now and can’t be subpoenaed by Congress — were asked what the appropriate response would be to a couple having sex on the steps of the public library. The conservative said it was okay if the couple had benefit of clergy. The liberal said it was fine, as long as it was mandatory. The communist said it didn’t matter because they were going to be shot afterward, anyway. And the libertarian said: There shouldn’t be any public libraries
More here.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

As disgusting as it is to see American businesses grovel for money at the foot of congress, it’s even worse to see the kinds of things business people must endure from their “representatives.” Just once, I would like to see this:
How does a CEO answer questions about financial accounting when they're asked by dimwits who don't know enough to understand the answers? Honestly, I don't know what I would do if I were in the CEO punishment seat being thumb-screwed by Barney Frank, or mau-maued by Maxine Waters. I hope that I'd confess to the truth which is something like:
"Congressperson, you've asked questions about matters of financial accounting, but have not taken even the slightest effort to familiarize yourself with the vocabulary or principles of this technical discipline. Do you know anything about double-entry bookkeeping? If I told you that a dividend payment is a debit to retained earnings and credit to the cash account, would you understand any of that? What was your major? Do you balance your own checkbook? Do you prepare your own tax return?"
Given the Stalinist show trial we saw this week -- all based on what appears to be a plain ignorance of a few simple accounting principles -- it would appear to be a public service to point out that the dividends, salaries, junkets and all the rest are done without a single deduction from the capital accounts into which the taxpayer funds were shoved.
Victor Davis Hanson, with a very good read. Here's a preview - there's lots more:
There were many legitimate critiques of the Iraq war. But insisting, as Barack Obama did, that we invaded recklessly and in haste was not one of them. From the fall of the Taliban in December 2001 to the invasion of Iraq in March 2003, the Bush administration deliberately and in public fashion sought debate in the Congress for over a year, received bipartisan authorization, and tried for months to win sanction from the United Nations.

In contrast, Barack Obama immediately upon entering office demanded the largest government expansion in the history of the nation. The staggering debt program will require nearly a trillion dollars in borrowing to fund all sorts of entitlements and redistributive efforts, and in revolutionary fashion redefine the role of government itself. Obama pronounced the current economic crisis the moral equivalent of war, and he wanted a national mobilization to meet it - pronto.

But unlike the Bush administration, which took 15 months to prepare the country for a real war in Iraq, the Obama administration gave the public only a few hours to read the final draft of the legislation before it was made into law. Where the polarizing partisan George Bush managed to obtain the vote of majorities in both parties to remove Saddam Hussein, the healing bipartisan Barack Obama lacked the support of even a single Republican in the House and won over a mere three Republicans in the Senate.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Slumdog Millionaire

Now we don't get to the movies much anymore, but we did go out last weekend to see "Slumdog Millionaire." Despite being stunned AMC can charge $10.25 for an adult admission in the New Millenium Depression, I must confess inspite of my sticker shock I found the movie to be surprisingly entertaining. It had a little love story for the gals, a little gangster movie for the guys, and just enough of a plot twist to not leave you bored.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Well, this must have been written by a Geek: How to Manage Geeks. They are talking about information technology geeks, and it contains a lot of self-congratulatory language. We learn that geeks hate bad management, are innately fair, know business better than the management, are creative and smart. And we learn that "managing" them essentially means creating a geek employment nirvana. Here are some "tips:"

  • Send them to lots of training, pay them well, give them lots of benefits.
  • Give them defined goals.
  • Don’t try to outsmart a geek, because you will never succeed. Admit you’re an ignoramous.
  • Never ignore a geek.
  • Never make a decision without consulting the geeks.
  • Make sure they get whatever equipment they ask for. Oh, and free soft drinks and coffee, too.
  • Let them wear whatever they want, and NEVER ask a geek to work out of a cubicle. These are creative people, and they need the proper environment to allow their creativity to flourish.
  • If you don’t do this, expect negative outcomes. We’re talking serious consequences here.

    No word on how the sales staff or production staff might react when they see the people whose job it is to support their work efforts treated better than anybody else in the office.
  • Tuesday, February 10, 2009

    Obama is depressed by A-Rod:
    President Barack Obama called Alex Rodriguez' admission that he used steroids "depressing news" that tarnishes an entire era of major league baseball.
    Apparently Obama thinks this is an uplifting admission since he thought it important enough to write in his book.
    Obama had written in his first book, "Dreams From My Father" (1995), before entering politics, that he had used marijuana and cocaine ("maybe a little blow"). He said he had not tried heroin because he did not like the pusher who was trying to sell it to him.
    Obama didn’t try heroin because he didn’t like the salesman enough? And he finds A-Rod's admission tarnishing? Alex Rodriquez getting a lecture on drugs from Barack Obama is like Bill Clinton getting a lecture on morality from John Edwards.

    Monday, February 09, 2009

    In Tribute to Alison

    Sunday, February 08, 2009

    "Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy, its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery."
    - Winston Churchill

    "In practice, socialism didn't work. But socialism could never have worked because it is based on false premises about human psychology and society, and gross ignorance of human economy."
    - David Horowitz

    "Socialism is simply Communism for people without the testosterone to man the barricades."
    - Gary North

    “The trouble with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money”
    – Margaret Thatcher.

    "Government "help" to business is just as disastrous as government persecution... the only way a government can be of service to national prosperity is by keeping its hands off."
    - Ayn Rand

    "The state is the great fictitious entity by which everyone seeks to live at the expense of everyone else."
    - Frederic Bastiat

    "Many of you are well enough off that the tax cuts may have helped you. We're saying that for America to get back on track, we're probably going to cut that short and not give it to you. We're going to take things away from you on behalf of the common good."
    - Hillary Clinton

    Friday, February 06, 2009

    Check out this story:
    Eighteen and pregnant, Sycloria Williams went to an abortion clinic outside Miami and paid $1,200 for Dr. Pierre Jean-Jacque Renelique to terminate her 23-week pregnancy.

    Three days later, she sat in a reclining chair, medicated to dilate her cervix and otherwise get her ready for the procedure.

    Only Renelique didn't arrive in time. According to Williams and the Florida Department of Health, she went into labor and delivered a live baby girl.

    What Williams and the Health Department say happened next has shocked people on both sides of the abortion debate: One of the clinic's owners, who has no medical license, cut the infant's umbilical cord. Williams says the woman placed the baby in a plastic biohazard bag and threw it out.

    Police recovered the decomposing remains in a cardboard box a week later after getting anonymous tips.
    This is sickening. I am glad to see it shocks people on "both sides" of the issue. So what does the pro choice community have to say in their state of shock? Try this on for size, from Joanne Sterner of the National Organization for Women:
    "I know that there are clinics out there like this. And I hope that we can keep (women) from going to these types of clinics."
    Holy Crap! Way to take a strong stance! You HOPE to keep women from going there? And what would your position be if a group of Christians marched in front of that very same abortion clinic to "keep women from going there?" I know the answer already, thanks. Excuse me while I retch my guts out.

    Thursday, February 05, 2009

    Guns, Gun Shows, and Loopholes

    I am not by any means a gun nut. My dad had a 22 rifle when I was little, which we used to plink cans on a deserted beach once or twice a year. Other than that, I had absolutely no involvement with guns growing up. Still, over the years, I have managed to collect quite a few handguns, almost in spite of myself. Here is the current collection back at the house:

    Purchased by me or my wife Laurel:
  • A brand new Smith & Wesson Model 442 38+P Revolver that I bought for Laurel this past Christmas
  • A Beretta 380 Cheetah Pistol Laurel bought maybe six years ago to use at the range with her late husband.

    Inherited from Laurel’s late husband Nick:
  • A nice little Rossi 38 small frame Revolver.
  • A beautifully engraved Reproduction Black Powder Revolver.

    Inherited through my late wife, Suzy:
  • A mid-1960s Smith & Wesson K-38 Masterpiece Revolver that belonged to Suzy’s stepfather. He bought it for protection during the Newark riots.
  • A 1920s Iver Johnson 32 Top Break Revolver that belonged to Suzy’s grandfather. Legend holds that he declared it “unloaded” seconds before it went off and shot out the leg on the chair his sister was sitting in.
  • A 1920s Harrington & Richardson 32 Top Break Revolver that was also her grandfather’s.

    We are not in the “gun business” and do not possess these weapons as investments, nor offer them for sale. None of them is particularly valuable, and neither of the old 32s is even operational.

    Now for the sake of argument, let’s say I was milling around a table at a gun show looking at some antique guns, and another customer asks the dealer if he has any 100 year old Iver Johnson auto-ejecting 32s. The dealer replies that he sold his last one about an hour ago, but I overhear the conversation and offer that I have a gun like that I would be happy to sell it to the customer.

    Needless to say, as a private citizen I do not possess a federal firearms dealer license, nor do I have any means of contacting the National Instant Check System. That is the so-called “gun-show loophole.” Never mind that the same happenstance could occur while browsing the history of guns books at Barnes and Noble or shopping for ammo at Bass Pro Shops. Somehow, two citizens meeting at a gunshow and striking a deal is a loophole that the anti-gun crowd feels needs to be closed. And, honestly, it could be remedied fairly easily by having the show organizer hire a dealer to run background checks for private transactions occurring on the premises.

    But what about private transactions that occur elsewhere? Wouldn’t they constitute the next loophole? And couldn’t two individuals, in an effort to avoid the cost of the background check at the show, simply step across the street to the parking lot to complete the sale? The only way to remedy that inevitable "parking lot loophole” is to require a background check every time a firearm changes hands. And how far would the anti-gun people be willing to take that concept?

    Would a father buying a gun to give to his son prior to a hunting trip be required to conduct a background check on his son? What about a son giving his elderly mother a pistol to keep by her bed because she has been robbed three times by neighborhood thugs? Is he required to run a check on his mother? And what kind of system would have to be established to run these checks? Where precisely do I go to have the government certify that the guy I grew up with and have known for 30 years is not a convicted felon so I can sell him my old gun?

    There isn’t a nice, neat gun show loophole that we can close and solve everybody’s problems. Because if we close that one, we will have created about a thousand “private citizen” loopholes that open up as a way around the gun show background check.
  • Wednesday, February 04, 2009

    The RoP strikes again

    On his Best of the Web Today column, James Taranto links this article describing the recruitment of female suicide bombers in Iraq:
    Samira Ahmed Jassim, 51, is accused of recruiting more than 80 women to become human bombs, including 28 who carried out attacks.

    She has apparently confessed to helping to organise the rape of young women. She would then play on the shame associated with victims of rape in Iraqi society to convince the women to become suicide bombers as their only means of escape, according to a prison interview with the Associated Press.
    Taranto's summary of the situation is perfect:
    (C)onsider the many levels on which this is depraved. A Muslim woman is arranging for Muslim men to rape Muslim women in order to shame those Muslim women into committing suicide for the purpose of murdering other Muslim men, women and children. And all of this is done in the name of Islam.
    That may be the ultimate "Dispatch From the Religion of Peace."

    Update: It's not just the women these barbarians are raping to create suicide bombers: Al-Qaeda Accused of Using Male Rape to "Create" Suicide Bombers
    Islamic terrorists are raping young men in order to drive them into suicide bombings.

    The Sun quotes Algerian militant Abu Baçir El Assimi:
    "The sexual act on young recruits aged between 16 to 19 was a means to urge them to commit suicide operations."
    The paper claims that "intense social stigma and fear of more gay sex attacks leaves Muslims prepared to die."
    That's some "civilization" they've got going over there.

    Hat tip: Ace of Spades
    I had lunch today with Laurel, Alison, and our friend Ann. And it occurred to me as I sat with three people that didn't exist in my life a few short years ago, that as much as we plan and try to manage our lives, there is really no way to know where we might actually end up. I am sure many people go about their earthly existence without too much drama and end up about where they set out to go. But it is only because some other fate failed to intervene.

    In November of 2005, a scant 39 months ago, I was married to my first wife Suzy, and life was on auto-pilot. Work, vacation, visit the in-laws in New Jersey on occasion. We talked about getting a small dog, maybe a Boston Terrier, but decided it wouldn't be fair to keep it locked up all day while we were both at worked. We had tried for a baby for a year or more, but had no luck. Our routine was fairly settled and comfortable, and we were happy. Then, in the space of a couple months, Suzy got sick and died. At that point, the train came off the tracks, and I was simply along for the ride.

    Coincidentally, my friend Mike was in the throws of a very sad divorce, and we hung out together to combat our misery. We both bought motorcycles and rode and rode. Mike's sister introduced him to geocaching, which I embraced as well.

    Later, in the fall of 2006, I flew to Arizona to meet about 15 fellow widows for a weekend social. While there, I went geocaching around the hotel, and asked if anybody wanted to come along. Laurel ended up joining us, and the rest is history.

    If you had told me in the fall of 2005 that within three years I would be married to somebody else, with a baby daughter and four large dogs, I would have said you had been smoking crack. But life doesn't always take us where we are pointed, and I am truly blessed to have landed here.

    Tuesday, February 03, 2009

    From the Reason Magazine blog comes this brilliant insight on so-called economic stimulus:
    That seems to be the theory underlying the "stimulus" package: We can't depend on consumers to spend money they don't have on stuff they don't need, so the government has to do it for them. Given the incentives and conditions that politicians face, it's more likely that they are trying to mitigate short-term pain (or at least be perceived as doing so), even if that means imposing greater costs on Americans in the long run.
    David Kahane on the difference between being a conservative and a progressive:
    Didn’t pay your taxes? In wingnut-world, you pay fines and interest, you go to jail, and your wife and kids get sold into slavery. In progresso-world, you say: “I forgot!” and everything is hunky-dory. Why, you may become the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, get nominated for the Orwellianly named Department of Health and Human Services, or, if you play your cards right, even get to be secretary of the Treasury and command the IRS yourself!

    Stole classified information and trashed it? In wingnut-world, you get arrested, put on trial, sent to Guantánamo, and executed. In progresso-world, you cop a plea, pay a fine, get probation, lose your law license, and get stripped of your security clearance for a couple of years, or until a new Democratic administration comes to power. Plus, of course, you apologize: “I deeply regret the actions that I took at the National Archives two years ago, and I accept the judgment of the court,” said Sloppy Sandy at his sentencing in 2005. Problem solved!

    So maybe it’s a dumb idea for me to try to make a movie out of this one. Rangel, Geithner, Daschle, Dodd—all these President’s Men are good, honorable, decent Democrats, who only want to do what is right for our country. They’re self-sacrificing public servants, willing to forego the blandishments of private enterprise to selflessly serve the American people at this crucial time. Why, any day now, Chris Dodd will live up to his promise to release the paperwork on his two Countrywide mortgages and everything will be A-OK.

    Monday, February 02, 2009

    Via TYSK comes a vast array of politically inconvenient items:
  • Millions go without power, and 42 Americans are dead. Where’s the angst?
    Americans are freezing and dying but I guess I’ve missed Anderson Cooper flying to the midwest and crying and Geraldo shouting, “where is the help?” I guess I’ve missed members of the press demonizing President Obama for eating steak and having cocktails with the press while people are freezing and without food.

  • Why do Democrats only pay their taxes when they get caught?
    This is the second Cabinet nominee of President Obama's to face questions of tax malfeasance. Geithner paid more than $34,000 in taxes during his vetting process for income earned at the International Monetary Fund. Earlier, Commerce secretary nominee Bill Richardson withdrew his name from consideration after reports of a federal investigation involving whether his office engaged in "pay to play," a charge Richardson denied.

  • The precious, fragile, ever-endangered rain forests are making a comeback.
    These new “secondary” forests are emerging in Latin America, Asia and other tropical regions at such a fast pace that the trend has set off a serious debate about whether saving primeval rain forest — an iconic environmental cause — may be less urgent than once thought. By one estimate, for every acre of rain forest cut down each year, more than 50 acres of new forest are growing in the tropics on land that was once farmed, logged or ravaged by natural disaster.

  • No Big Brother here:
    U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush, D-Ill., is hoping to pass a firearm-licensing bill that will significantly rewrite gun-ownership laws in America.

    Among the more controversial provisions of the bill are requirements that all handgun owners submit to the federal government a photo, thumb print and mental heath records. Further, the bill would order the attorney general to establish a database of every handgun sale, transfer and owner's address in America.