Friday, June 28, 2013

A memorial to 50,000 lost bees

You read it right.  A memorial to dead bees. 
Fifty thousand bumblebees will be honored at a memorial Sunday in the same shopping center parking lot southwest of the Portland, Oregon, where most of the insects died earlier this month. 
Rozzell Medina, of Portland, said on a Facebook page that the event will "memorialize these fallen lifeforms and talk about the plight of the bees and their importance to life on Earth," The Oregonian reported.
The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation has upped its estimate of the bee kill to 50,000. Spokesman Scott Black calls that a very conservative number.
While I understand the importance of bees to our ecosystem and indeed, to all human life, I wonder just what kind of person might be mad enough to hold a memorial service for them. 
While earning his Master's degree in Educational Leadership and Policy with a focus on Leadership for Sustainability Education, Rozzell is the Coordinator and Committee Chair of Chiron Studies. He is also Co-Director of Public Social University. When he is not exploring the possibilities of reinventing and reinvigorating education and community, Rozzell is usually painting, drawing, playing music, writing letters and postcards, gardening, or riding his bicycle.
This kind of weird crusaderesque behavior will undoubtedly catch the eye of the Captain.  It takes a special kind of crazy to decide that the thing to do is to gather in a parking lot and mourn the passing of the poor bees.  I love how there is a "society for the conservation" of invertibrates.  Reminds me of the skit by George Carlin.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Twelve million new takers on the books

I took a look at St. Louis Fed data today, both the civilian employment to population ratio and the working age civilian population.  I then combined the data into a chart of deltas with their initial values pegged to Dec-2007.  The result is the following:

What does this chart mean?  It means that whilethere are about 2.5 million fewer people employed than in 2007, but that we've also got 12.5 million more people of working age - that is, 15 million more unemployed today than we did five and a half years ago.  This is due to an increasing population that has completely given up trying to find work.  It means, that though the recession destroyed something like eight million jobs and the post recession has created around five million jobs, we've added more than twelve million non-working civilians in the same time. 

That's staggering - utterly and completely staggering.  That means - follow me here - that means that not a single working age person added to our population since 2007 is working.  We've added twelve million takers but not one new producer.  Not one.

Further corroboration from the BLS: 11 million new civilians "not in the labor force."

The point of this exercise is to find out where the government is shuffling the unemployed in order to make it look like the unemployment rate is dropping.  Well there they are.

The Employment to Population ratio, courtesy of the St. Louis FED.  It doesn't get much more damning than this.  The new normal is 5% fewer people working than 6 years ago.  Not one new producer indeed.

This is why we need tort reform

Freedom means that you are free to succeed and to fail.  That means you take responsibility for your actions - you cause your successes and failures.  You own them.  So when this mother alleges that Monster energy drinks are responsible for her teenage son's death, everyone should reject her claim.  She needs to realize that even if caffeine played a role in her son's heart attack - which is not at all clear or even likely - it is not the fault of those who sell caffeinated products.  She or her son bought the energy drinks.  Her son drank two of them every day.  She let him.  He owns his actions.  She owns hers.

I'm curious how many of those who agree with me on this still favor lawsuits against firearm manufacturers.  I'd bet the hypocrisy runs strongly in that group.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Tit for tat cronyism in Los Angeles

Westfield (the shopping mall developer) paid for a black-tie event at LAX  attended by city politicians, and now the city is considering an "assistance package" that will redirect 42% of the tax revenue generated by the Westfield Topenga project over a 25-year period back into Westfield's pockets, (nearly $59 million).

Nice to know the city is looking out for us!  Afterall they've filled lots of potholes with asphalt so I guess we don't need our taxes going to the roads.  I wonder if Westfield will pocket the cash or decide to cut us in with discount prices?

I'm anti-tax - but this is not a tax break.  This is misdirection and outright theft.
Westfield has a funding gap of $48.9 million, according to Miller's report. The city's financial assistance, when calculated in present-day dollars, would be valued at $25 million, or 42% of the net new taxes generated by the project over 25 years, officials said. The final mix of taxes that Westfield would get to keep still needs to be negotiated, but could include hotel taxes, property taxes or other revenue, Miller said. 
Miller said he recommended the financial help partly on the grounds that Westfield would provide $100,000 worth of equipment for a nearby police station, creation of a $500,000 scholarship program for high school seniors and a promise to run a hotel that allows workers to join a union.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Wounded Warrior Project In Not So Many Words Admits It Is Anti Gun

 Wounded Warrior Project admits it is anti-gun.  Read the whole thing.

MANDEVILLE, LA --( Does the Wounded Warrior Project (WWP) have a bias against guns and gun makers? 
Two weeks ago that would have sounded crazy, but this week many shooters are convinced that it’s true. Hundreds of hunts and shoots are held as fundraisers for the WWP, and gun companies donate to WWP for its projects. How could it be that this $185 million (2013 projected revenue) outfit could be anti-gun? 
It started with a simple invitation — I wanted someone from the Wounded Warrior Project to join me for the Veteran’s Day episode of my national radio show, Tom Gresham’s Gun Talk. I had no idea it would turn into a national dustup which now has the gun rights community in a turmoil — so much so that people are burning their Wounded Warrior Project shirts. 
We were disappointed when the Leslie Coleman, PR director for WWP, said they couldn’t come on the show, but that happens. Schedules don’t mesh, things happen, but that’s not uncommon. No big deal. Except that Ms. Coleman said they were declining because we “are related to firearms.” 
“While we appreciate the interest in having a WWP representative on your show on Veterans Day we are not able to participate in interviews or activities with media/organizations that are related to firearms,” said Ms. Coleman in her email. 
That really rocked us because we knew of all the firearms-related activities used to raise money for WWP. I asked for clarification, and Coleman reconfirmed their position. That Sunday I talked about it on the air and sent out a tweet (@guntalk) with the information.  
Some doubted that I had reported it correctly, so we posted the entire email exchange on our Facebook page.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

How dare she speak her mind!! Freedom of thought and speech are prohibited!

Serena Williams is in PR trouble for, get this, saying that the underage teen girl who got drunk and raped at a party shouldn't have put herself in that position.  Apparently the twitter trolls came out in droves to lambast her for saying a teenage girl should be responsible and not become intoxicated in a room full of teenage boys.  Karen Teegarden, President of the equal rights organisation scolded her for daring to have such an opinion, and even worse, (gasp!) for speaking it outloud!  Everyone knows if you don't go along with group think you should simply be silent!
Her Rolling Stone remarks were criticised by Karen Teegarden, President of the equal rights organisation She asked: "How could a strong, high profile woman, who has proudly worn and displayed her individuality, not only think this way, but opine it publicly? What a girl or woman wears, what she drinks, where she goes is never consent to rape."
According to Teegarden, if a woman strolls into a bar full of sex starved men, naked, and gets blasted with tequila, she bears no responsibility at all for what may follow.  Sorry, I don't agree.  While she's no criminal, she's certainly stupid, and so is the teenage girl who got wasted with a bunch of highschool athletes at a party.

It's sad that Williams caved so fast.  This is very similar to what happened to Katee Sackhoff when she posted about teaching and practicing gun safety.  Sackhoff, however, stood firm and has gained my respect for it.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Statists gonna state

Of course they're not listening to your phone calls...right?  Wrong.  When will the American people learn?  Is it going to be after we go full blown Nazi Germany?  When concentration camps, in full swing, are housing a large segment of the "undesireables"?
National Security Agency discloses in secret Capitol Hill briefing that thousands of analysts can listen to domestic phone calls. That authorization appears to extend to e-mail and text messages too.  
The National Security Agency has acknowledged in a new classified briefing that it does not need court authorization to listen to domestic phone calls, a participant said. 
Rep. Jerrold Nadler, a New York Democrat, disclosed on Thursday that during a secret briefing to members of Congress, he was told that the contents of a phone call could be accessed "simply based on an analyst deciding that." 
If the NSA wants "to listen to the phone," an analyst's decision is sufficient, without any other legal authorization required, Nadler said he learned. "I was rather startled," said Nadler, an attorney and congressman who serves on the House Judiciary committee. 
Not only does this disclosure shed more light on how the NSA's formidable eavesdropping apparatus works domestically, it also suggests the Justice Department has secretly interpreted federal surveillance law to permit thousands of low-ranking analysts to eavesdrop on phone calls.
Does anyone still believe that these programs are even meant to keep anyone safe?  If they tell you to report on your neighbors and family members, will  you do it?  Unfortunately I am pretty sure most Americans will.

Monday, June 17, 2013

More bad press for the ACA in California

In an earlier post I noted that the ACA's tax increases were double their original estimate.  Now despite some in the media calling California's implementation a model for the rest of the country, it's clear that single women, as well as single men, will be hit very hard by the increase in premiums caused by the "Affordable" Care Act.
In 2014, Obamacare’s blizzard of regulations and mandates will transform the U.S. market for health insurance, among people who buy coverage for themselves. Of increasing concern is the phenomenon of “rate shock,” whereby many Americans face substantial increases in their health insurance premiums. Much of the debate has focused on young men, the “bros” who will bear the brunt of Obamacare’s rate hikes. But in California, women and men will see equally high jumps in the underlying cost of individual-market premiums.
This is because the Golden State already bars insurers from charging different rates on the basis of gender in the individual market. According to the National Women’s Law Center, 10 other states also do so: Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, and Washington. A twelfth state, Vermont, limits but does not prohibit gender rating.

In other words, the rate shock that I described in my three previous posts on California applies equally to men and women. If you compare the cheapest plan on to the cheapest Bronze plan on the new Covered California insurance exchange, premiums for healthy 25-year-olds will increase by 147 percent—a median of $183 on the exchange vs. $74 today—and premiums for healthy 40-year-olds will increase by 149 percent—a median of $234 on the exchange vs. $94 today.
If that's a model for the rest of the country, we're all fucked.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Wait, so what's this blowback thing again?

Well, take for example when we depose a dictator and proceed to lose track of thousands of his stockpile of shoulder mounted surface to air missiles.
ABC News reported today U.S. officials and security experts were concerned some of the thousands of heat-seeking missiles could easily end up in the hands of al Qaeda or other terrorists groups, creating a threat to commercial airliners.

"Matching up a terrorist with a shoulder-fired missile, that's our worst nightmare," said Sen. Barbara Boxer, D.-California, a member of the Senate's Commerce, Energy and Transportation Committee.

Though Libya had an estimated 20,000 man-portable surface-to-air missiles before the popular uprising began in February, Assistant Secretary of State Andrew Shapiro told ABC News today the government does not have a clear picture of how many missiles they're trying to track down.

"We're making great progress and we expect in the coming days and weeks we will have a much greater picture of how many are missing," Shapiro said.

The missiles, four to six-feet long and Russian-made, can weigh just 55 pounds with launcher. They lock on to the heat generated by the engines of aircraft, can be fired from a vehicle or from a combatant's shoulder, and are accurate and deadly at a range of more than two miles.
And then they turn up, some years later, somewhere else, in the hands of our enemies.
TIMBUKTU, Mali (AP) — The photocopies of the manual lay in heaps on the floor, in stacks that scaled one wall, like Xeroxed, stapled handouts for a class.

Except that the students in this case were al-Qaida fighters in Mali. And the manual was a detailed guide, with diagrams and photographs, on how to use a weapon that particularly concerns the United States: A surface-to-air missile capable of taking down a commercial airplane.

The 26-page document in Arabic, recovered by The Associated Press in a building that had been occupied by al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb in Timbuktu, strongly suggests the group now possesses the SA-7 surface-to-air missile, known to the Pentagon as the Grail, according to terrorism specialists. And it confirms that the al-Qaida cell is actively training its fighters to use these weapons, also called man-portable air-defense systems, or MANPADS, which likely came from the arms depots of ex-Libyan strongman Col. Moammar Gadhafi.
At least 400 more surface to air missiles were stolen in the Benghazi attack.  Awesomesause.