Thursday, April 22, 2010


April 22, Earth day!

The story I heard most on the radio today?

Oil rig exploding offshore Louisiana on Tuesday, and the Federal response to the 11 missing crew, and the 'potential environmental hazard' posed by it.

The timing is curious, because its a good story to run when trying to push an environmental agenda through a news cycle.
The blast also has interesting timing, because I would not be at all surprised if the causation of this blast was man made, and not a accident of neglect.

Coincidence's this good are always suspicious in my book.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

National Sales Tax Looms Large

AP: 'After Obama adviser Paul Volcker recently raised the prospect of a value-added tax, or VAT, the Senate voted 85-13 last week for a nonbinding "sense of the Senate" resolution that calls the such a tax "a massive tax increase that will cripple families on fixed income and only further push back America's economic recovery."
For days, White House spokesmen have said the president has not proposed and is not considering a VAT.
"I think I directly answered this the other day by saying that it wasn't something that the president had under consideration," White House press secretary Robert Gibb

Yep. It'll happen.
For the record, a Value Added Tax is nothing more then a tax on the individual, as the added cost and overhead of producing, transporting and retailing end-user products are only passed on to customers.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

EU Flight Ban Results from Flawed Computer Models "
The acknowledgement that the computer models were flawed is likely to provide ammunition for critics who believe that authorities have shown excessive caution. The closure of much of the airspace over Europe over the past five days is estimated to have cost airlines a total of $200m a day in lost revenue.
“It is a black box in certain areas,” Matthias Ruete, the EU’s director-general for mobility and transport, said on Monday, noting that many of the assumptions in the computer models were not backed by scientific evidence.
The acknowledgement that the computer models were flawed is likely to provide ammunition for critics who believe that authorities have shown excessive caution. The closure of much of the airspace over Europe over the past five days is estimated to have cost airlines a total of $200m a day in lost revenue.

To quote a man from the past, "Government is not a solution to the problem, Government is the problem". This would be comparable to my neighbors slashing my back tire every week day morning 5 minutes before I go to work, to keep my from getting in a car wreck on the way to work.
Am I safe from a wreck? Yes, yes I am.
Am I benefiting and happy due to this unasked for salvation offered by my neighbor?
NO! I cannot reach work!

Who votes this style of government into office?
Voters. Us.
Fortunately, the US side of the aviation system is a bit more free then the EU, for now anyways.

“If you take the situation across the Atlantic, there the advice would probably be: don’t fly over the volcano. Otherwise, it is up to you to take the precautions necessary,” Mr Ruete said.

While the US system leaves air carriers with the responsibility to determine whether or not it is safe to fly “the American model is not a model of less safety”, he said. “You just need to look at the statistics to see that.”

Side note: Wasn't it the computer models based on flawed data that were pointing us to make solutions to global warming?

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Relentless Incompetence Scattered Across EU "Lufthansa, which says it is losing €25m ($34m, £22m) a day from the crisis, said it was “scandalous” for authorities to have imposed the ban on what appeared to be limited data from computer images, rather than flights testing safety.

Dubai’s Emirates airline said it was losing $10m a day, in part because of the accommodation and meals it is providing for about 6,000 stranded passengers.

“If this continues, then there won’t be any airliners left in Europe apart from Aeroflot,” said Vladimir Putin, the prime minister of Russia, which is less affected by the disruption.

Only 4,000 of the 24,000 flights that would normally operate on a Sunday across Europe were made, said Eurocontrol, the air-safety agency, which estimated that by Sunday night, more than 63,000 flights would have been cancelled.

“With 313 airports paralysed at the moment, the impact is already worse than 9/11,” said Olivier Jankovec, director-general of the airport group, ACI Europe. “More than 6.8m passengers have been affected so far and European airports have lost close to €136m

And from Reuters:
"The International Air Transport Association (IATA) estimates airlines are losing $200 million a day from the shutdown, which has caused chaos well beyond the immediate European airspace closed. Most airlines will be uninsured for this loss, although insurer Munich Re said on Friday it would consider offering cancellation insurance in future should the crisis produce demand."

This humble blogger asks; Why is this ban in place?

Here's how this scenario should work:
Let them fly.

If the skies are to dangerous and clogged with the Ash of Eyjafjallajokull, then the Airlines will not fly. The risk of loosing a plane in a cloud of smoke far outweighs the benefits of making just another flight.
However, if the skies are clear enough to fly in, then there is business to do and money to make, and the flights will take place when and where they are needed.

This is not an overly complicated situation, until the government muddles in. After the government takes command of the situation, there is suddenly an expectation of safety at the hands of an agency, and the bureaucracy begins to play a game of C.Y.A. as the days grind on.
With no loss of revenue, and the only risk to the agency being flights leaving too early, with an unreasonable expectation of safety, Because the airlines liability has been removed, with the responsibility for safety falling upon the shoulders of an agency, the delay for returning to flights will be longer then necessary. As a result, millions lost.
But this money is not lost by the hands of the EU, it is losses born by the airlines themselves, wallowing in the mandates of a government that has no monetary liability at stake.
With such a set up, nothing but bureaucratic inefficient incompetence can be expected.

There is no end in sight for this kind of unmitigated inefficiency and market intervention, and only further economic harm can result. Don't be fooled by believing this is limited only to Europe, such actions as this harm the developing nations the most. Agriculture is the most time sensitive product shipped globally, As the bountiful harvest of Africa, Asia and South America rots upon the loading ramps, the fascist of Europe dither onward into statism.

I take no pleasure in saying this, but the incompetence of man governing each other is a universal feature of society, and limited to no single society.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Our Government, Pushing Grants

Hat Tip to an excellent post at Grumpy Old Men by W. B. Picklesworth for an excellent post.

A preview:
"Just like with credit card companies, the federal government is trying to create dependency. Actually, there is another group of people that operates like this,... drug dealers. "Here, try this. You'll like it. It's free." The thing is, it isn't free. It's very, very expensive. Notice the pretty people pictures? 'Going to the government for a handout is sexy!' This is troubling."

Monday, April 12, 2010

Podcast Smorgasbord 1: This Week in Tech

The thought occurred to me while I was listening to a podcast on my recent overland journey through the heart of Texas, that the shows I listen to can have a profound affect on what I produce for this blog. The ideas, concepts, discussions, news and chatter that I crave in podcasts all carry into my every day life. As such, I'm going to start a run linking to and showcasing the podcasts I enjoy.

To built a framework of understanding for ya'll, here's what podcasts do for me. I listen to about 10-14 hours of podcasts a week, along with 3 to 4 hours a week of whatever audiobook I'm churning though.
Driving, working out at the gym, mowing the yard, relaxing, playing a video games and cooking are all actions that use my hands, but largely leave my mind open and able to think, and I like to take advantage of that by listening to audio programming. Its both relaxing and stimulating, and largely commercial free, and is a wonderful medium.

I'm starting with TWiT, This Week in Tech. It is the longest running podcast on my computer, and has had staying power over the years. TWiT is a once weekly panel show hosted by Leo Laporte, a computer guy with personality and an unyielding excitement for the next stage in technology. Joining him for about 2 hours to discuss the tech news of the week is a rotating cast of technology journalists, columnists, and technology pioneers.
The show is focused primarily on developments on the Internet, but subjects range far and wide from cars to cell phones, batteries to Jupiter, HD Video to Intel processors. Its an eccentric and entertaining ensemble, and keeps me coming back week after week. I may not listen to every show in a year, but TWiT is the show I eagerly reach for to stay current with the big news in the tech world.

While its political leanings are generally left leaning, it remains remarkably a-poltical, and I recommend it without hesitation.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

The Brilliance of Georgia's 4th

If you haven't seen this clip of Congressman Hank Johnson's stellar performance in a House hearing on stationing an additional 8,000 US military personal in Guam, let this piece of action thrill your hair follicles.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Hank Johnson of Georgia's 4th District.
This year, the American people will pay $169,300 to Mr. Johnson for his upstanding efforts at upholding the constitution.

If this stellar district sounds familiar, it should. The voters there are responsible for electing one particular Congresswoman of note, not for her unrivaled legislative prowess, nor for her supreme acts of statesmanship, but for vastly different reasons.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Cynthia McKinney.
2008 Green Party Presidential Nominee, US Congresswoman for 8 years, and one noted moment of assault on a police officer while serving in office.

People of Georgia's 4th District, what's wrong with you?

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Petraeus for President?

There's a column in the Telegraph, a newspaper hailing from across the pond calling for US General David Petraeus to run for President.

It's actually a pretty thoughtful piece, and made me start to ponder, could Petraeus be a new Ike?
Then do a quick image search for the two, and the results made me cringe.
Whats going on with all the brass on Petraeus? It looks like a bad movie prop for a banana republic dictator.

David, while I believe you have no ambition to run, please, change the way you're wearing the uniform.

Side Note: Palin/Petraeus could be a disaster waiting in the wings for the right.