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They Might Want to Think About Those Olympic Puff Pieces August 11, 2008

Posted by Jim Satterfield in Environment, International News, Technology.
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They were just doing a puff piece during the Olympics coverage that was oohing and ahh-ing over the Three Gorges Dam. But of course they didn’t mention some of the more negative aspects of it. The potential magnitude of the disaster it could cause is frightening.


Signs August 9, 2008

Posted by Jim Satterfield in Business & Society, Economics.

A great deal has been made by some people of the fact that according to the classic definition of a recession as two quarters or more of negative GDP growth we just aren’t in one now. But the nature of our economy is in flux and old definitions just might not hold up.

So let me propose the Signs Rules.

If for two consecutive quarters you drive for a few thousand miles on multiple highways and you see more billboards advertising the services of the billboard company than someone else’s product or service you might be in a recession.

If for two consecutive quarters as you travel in the city and suburbs and the number of signs for houses for rent or sale (extra points for the “Price Reduced” addition), SUVs for sale, trucks for sale and boats for sale increase steadily you just might be in a recession.

A Great Break August 9, 2008

Posted by Jim Satterfield in Just Too Cute, Video.
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Via Andrew Sullivan. If you love great videos…

Laws? We don’t follow no steenking laws! August 9, 2008

Posted by Jim Satterfield in Does Not Compute, Terrorism, The Bush Administration, What is Justice?, WoT.
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So the Bush Administration and the Pentagon got what they wanted in the arrangements for the “trial” of Salim Hamdan. They just didn’t get the verdicts they wanted. And now, like a version of the child who decides to change the rules when they lose but with far greater stakes they are debating completely ignoring the results of what they expected to be a show trial and keep Hamdan in detention indefinitely after his sentence is up.

Apparently some people realize there just might be a problem with that idea.

Defense Department officials said there are concerns about the public perception of holding Hamdan after his prison term runs out, because it could label the military commissions a “show process” with no meaning to its sentences.

Gee, ya think?

From SciAm – August 1908: The Wright Brother’s Aeroplane in France and the U.S. August 8, 2008

Posted by Jim Satterfield in Technology.
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100 years ago. And now that device’s “descendants” can carry hundreds of passengers, travel faster than sound and go to the edge of space. My grandparents were young adults back then. In the grand scheme of things it’s nothing in the history of our race, much less our planet. It seems that we’ve come so far but I certainly hope that it’s a bare beginning.

Yes, AGW has Consequences August 8, 2008

Posted by Jim Satterfield in Climate Change, Environment, Science, Science & Society.
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One of the things you’ll hear repeated all too often by those who deny the existence of AGW (Anthropogenic Global Warming), or “man-made” global warming is “Even if it is true, so what? What’s so bad about things being a little warmer?”. Well, here’s yet another bad thing about it. It just isn’t true that if the planet warms up a bit that it’s just going to give us warmer days in winter. Droughts. Floods. Storms. Extreme weather events will be more extreme and possibly more common. You’ll even see more snow in some places. That’s why the interior of Antarctica is seeing more snow and ice. But the coastal regions are another story entirely. It’s not all simple. It’s not all intuitive. But does have the potential to get really ugly in terms of how it will affect the human race.

Senator Clinton, You Need to be Much More Outspoken August 6, 2008

Posted by Jim Satterfield in 2008 Presidential Campaign, Politics.
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Well, it’s being reported that Hilary Clinton is “seeking a way for her delegates to be heard at the Democratic National Convention”. Honestly, that’s not that bad an idea but she needs to do a lot more than that. Why? Because some people that consider themselves her supporters are, and this is putting it mildly, out of their frickin’ minds. I run into people on various blogs that support these sites and say that they aren’t basing it on bitterness, hatred and resentment that their candidate lost. I don’t think I really need to go into details as to why I think that they are being completely disingenuous when they make this claim, except to suggest you check out these web sites. It won’t take a ton of digging to find the hatred oozing from the screen.


No Quarter


Savage Politics

They are vicious, venal, petty and overall very nasty pieces of work that make the worst that Karl Rove has ever done look pretty nice. When is Hillary Clinton going to stand up and mention these sites and put them down, telling everyone in a public arena that these people do not in any way speak for her and that she’d really appreciate them standing down.

Yes, the War on Drugs is Insane August 1, 2008

Posted by Jim Satterfield in Barbarity, Corruption, Does Not Compute, The War on Drugs, Too Stupid to Live, What is Justice?.
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The Washington Post reports on how Prince George’s County police and Sheriff’s officers, including a full SWAT team, broke into the home of the mayor of Berwyn Heights, shot his two dogs and handcuffed he and his mother-in-law and interrogated them. Why? In Arizona a drug sniffing dog identified a package addressed to Calvo’s wife as containing marijuana. The Prince George authorities disguised themselves as delivery people and with SWAT team and other officers in place delivered the package. Wasn’t the fact that an older woman (the mother-in-law) told them to just leave it on the porch a good first clue that something was a bit odd? So the mayor comes home from walking the dogs, sees the package addressed to his wife and takes it in and puts it on the table, just as most of us would do.

A few minutes later the door bursts open as the SWAT team invades and they immediately shoot one dog and then kill the other when it comes running into the room. Why would they do this? Why were there no Federal officials there when this shipment made in a crime crossing multiple state lines? Why didn’t the county cops contact the local police? Simple. Money. I have no doubt the county officials will deny it but anyone familiar with what goes on with drug busts now knows that whatever agency makes the arrest can take any money and property the drug dealer has. Even if the suspect is found innocent the property is often never returned. If you involve the Feds or any other law enforcement agency you have to split the money with them. Apparently in their rush to bust the wealthy drug dealer receiving 32 pounds of pot and seize their property it never occurred to them to investigate who lived at the house and consider that just maybe a violent assault on the part time mayor whose day job is running a national non-profit organization called SEED wasn’t the brightest move they could make.

The Complete Picture is the Only Useful One August 1, 2008

Posted by Jim Satterfield in 2008 Presidential Campaign, Business & Society, Economics, Politics.
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Every time you turn around there is someone using the unemployment rate to make a point, good or bad, about the economy. 5.5% isn’t that bad. 5.7% isn’t good enough. The simple sound bite versions of that message go on and on. But notice that when pgl at Angry Bear is writing about the unemployment rate he includes some very important data that simple numbers almost never includes, the labor force participation rate. No one discussing jobs is doing a decent job of it if they only use the basic unemployment rate. But there are other things to factor in as well.

There is also underemployment, a growing problem as this NY Times article shows. Whenever a politician says that they want to do this or that to help create jobs call them on whether the jobs are any good or not. How much do these jobs they are promising pay? Not in terms of a per hour wage, but how much when you take into account the number of hours. Are there benefits? Vacation? Sick pay? A 401(K) or some other retirement arrangement? How many hours will the employee be able to work? All jobs are not created equal and unless you know the details it’s far too easy to think that things are better (or worse sometimes) than they really are. Keep that in mind through the campaign season.