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CHRISTOPHER TAYLOR'S BOOKS

Friday, July 20, 2012

WORD AROUND THE NET

"CEOs tell us that California seems to be doing everything possible to drive business from the state."

Oh, no gun free zone!
According to a new study, online classes are as effective as ones in person. I suppose it depends a lot on the teacher, the subject, and what sort of in person class you're comparing it to. I doubt an online art class works as well as one in person, but an economics class with 50 other people in a huge room probably is just as effective online.

Home schooling is illegal in Germany, and is significantly less prevalent in most western nations than the United States. More left-leaning governments prefer to keep students in government schools where their education can be more comfortably controlled, but the US is much more flexible, for now. The UN is uncomfortable with this, and its recent U.N. Convention on the Rights of People With Disabilities would make it more difficult for many parents to home school their kids, because many use special needs as a reason for keeping their children home and teaching them. It doesn't look like the treaty will get far in the US Senate; most UN treaties don't.

Perhaps stinging over folks who sounded the alarm on the Fast & Furious scandal, the Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms Agency's head under President Obama has announced that:
Choices and consequences simply means that, as an employee of ATF, should you decide not to abide by the standards of conduct or the rules of the road, should you decide that you're not going to play by the rules, there will be consequences.

Choices and consequences means simply that if you make poor choices, that if you don't abide by the rules, that if you don't respect the chain of command, if you don't find the appropriate way to raise your concerns to your leadership, there will be consequences because we cannot tolerate, we cannot tolerate an undisciplined organization.
While this sounds like a particularly modern parent using words like "choices" and "consequences" its pretty clearly aimed at people who dare to be a whistleblower or cause problems for the ATF and its policies.

Famine and drought are rare in America these days, mostly due to careful farming and irrigation. However, the corn growers in America are facing serious drought and their crops are suffering greatly. Because America supplies a large amount of the world's corn supplies, that means serious shortages worldwide. And it also means food prices go up because corn starch, corn syrup, and other corn supplies are used in many, many foods. Maybe its time to stop those corn ethanol subsidies?

Budgetary constrictions are hitting most of the states in America, and that means a lot of spending programs are on the table. Governors and legislators always threaten to cut the critical, necessary parts of the budget first, demanding higher taxes (fire, police, roads, prisons, etc) but in the end, they'll have to put the rest to the axe. And Walter Russell Mead points out that public education, especially higher ed, is the most vulnerable, because they carry the least political clout. When it comes down to choosing between cutting back public employee benefits and money for colleges, professors lose.

Something that President Obama has done well is going after illegal immigration more than President Bush. Part of the reason is because the Immigration department (ICE) has been working with state law enforcement through "287(g) agreements." Here's where it gets tragicomic, and Stephen Dinan writes at the Washington Times:
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the part of her agency that handles the so-called “287(g) agreements” with states and localities, had a Web page dedicated to success stories from the program, pointing to the many dangerous criminal aliens who had been taken off the streets after local authorities nabbed them for another offense.

But after Rep. Bob Goodlatte, Virginia Republican, pointed out the contradiction during a House Judiciary Committee hearing Thursday, Ms. Napolitano wasted little time in removing it.

“I would tell the people who are working on the website, take it down,” she said during the hearing. And even before the hearing gaveled to a close, the page was gone.
Napolitano has never liked that particular law.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) was one of the voices pushing for Mitt Romney to release his tax information, but when she was pressed on it, suddenly she changed her tone, calling it a "distraction." When the reporters asked her more about it, Pelosi suggested maybe they should show their tax information. And I agree with her. More transparency in the reporters of news would be good.

Facebook is a funny place, you see the oddest stuff. On my page popped up a really unflattering picture of Ann Romney claiming she said "you people" about her tax returns. This one didn't make it very far because it turns out she didn't actually say "you people" and she was referring to the press anyway.

Speaking of transparency, Joel Pollock has a list of ten things on Big Government President Obama has "kept secret" from the public about his past. For example:
  • State senate papers. In the 2008 primary, Obama criticized Hillary Clinton for not releasing papers from her eight years as First Lady--but failed to produce any papers from his eight years in Springfield. “They could have been thrown out,” he said.
  • Medical records. In 2000, and again (briefly) in 2008, GOP presidential candidate Sen. John McCain released thousands of pages of his medical records. Obama, who had abused drugs and continued smoking, merely provided a one-page doctor’s note.
  • The Khalidi tape. In 2003, Obama attended a party for his good friend, the radical Palestinian academic Rashid Khalidi. The event featured incendiary anti-Israel rhetoric. The LA Times broke the story, but has refused to release the tape--and so has Obama.
  • Health reform negotiations. Candidate Obama promised that health care reform negotiations would be televised on C-SPAN. Instead, there were back-room deals worth millions with lobbyists and legislators--the details of which are only beginning to emerge.
Most of them are pretty irrelevant to his job, but so are tax returns. And for the president who promised more transparency than ever before, its a bit contradictory.

California's legislature is looking at a bill to make it easier for schools to fire teachers who sexually molest their children. But it turns out that many Democrats don't care to pass that bill because it would go against teacher's unions.

President Obama is busy fundraising, and this month he's taking it worldwide. He has fundraisers in Switzerland, China, France, and Sweden. According to US election law, only Americans may donate to presidential elections, and theoretically that's who these aim at (Americans living in other nations) but given how many foreign donors the Obama election team got in 2008 that we know about, this just has a really bad stench.

Colorado is the site of a terrible shooting, with a lunatic who apparently entered a theater through an emergency exit and shot up the place, killing a dozen and wounding many others. The film was the new Batman movie, but it seems despite comments about how violent the movie is (and its - at the very least - anti-Occupy leanings which has at least a few on the left up in arms) that the killer didn't even see the film. Naturally some on the left have started blaming Rush Limbaugh and the Tea Party, and are calling for gun control. Its like clockwork.

Apparently the US Port Security isn't keeping up with incoming shipping containers. There is a deadline by which they are to scan them for radioactivity, but they are falling behind either due to volume of work, incompetence, or lack of manpower and many aren't getting scanned. This is a serious concern for many (such as myself); how easy it would be to put a dirty bomb in a shipping container and just send it somewhere to go off. Due to America's huge shoreline and massive importing, it would be all too easy to do.

Although the US has the most powerful Navy since the Brits in the 17th-19th centuries, it is the favorite playground for social engineers. Not only are ships forced to buy ethanol blend fuel several times the cost of normal shipping fuel (and possibly damaging to engines), but now the bathrooms are being forced into coed status. And the head used to be the only place you could go to get away from women.

Some consider flags a terrible thing, and they want those ghastly things taken down everywhere. In Seminole, Florida, a fire truck was forced to remove American flags because of a complaint. The city forced the truck to remove a large flag flown from the back of a truck as well as all flags, even decals, from all their trucks.

In London, a youth crying "Allahu Akbar!" tried to steal the Olympic torch. Officials are uncertain of the young man's ethnic origin, religion, or reason for the attempt. They cautioned people not to leap to conclusions just because he yelled "god is great" in Arabic. I can only guess that's the case, since the Daily Mail conspicuously avoided any mention of religion and ethnic origin, although they did mention the translation. Probably a Scottish Protestant.

Panthers Stadium, where is that? Well you can search in vain for the stadium in America, because it does not exist. The name of this venue is Bank of America Stadium, home of the Carolina Panthers. However, the Democratic Party is having its convention there, and they don't want to be linked to an evil bank, so their publicity material is calling the place "Panthers Stadium." They'll have to cover up an awful lot of Bank of America brand logos in the camera sight lines.

Old and confused people are better off dead, according to an article in the British Medical Journal. It encourages hospitals to cut off water to these people so they dehydrate and die horribly, making room in beds and costing less money. This is a particularly attractive option to socialized medicine because they always are struggling with costs. And who cares, right? They're old and not beautiful any more. They probably even vote the wrong way. And some countries are already doing this anyway.

Considered the 'bible' for global warming, the IPCC's most recent report has an admission that isn't getting much attention. Joseph L Bast writes at American Thinker:
Here are some of the findings of the IAC's 2010 report.

The IAC reported that IPCC lead authors fail to give "due consideration ... to properly documented alternative views" (p. 20), fail to "provide detailed written responses to the most significant review issues identified by the Review Editors" (p. 21), and are not "consider[ing] review comments carefully and document[ing] their responses" (p. 22). In plain English: the IPCC reports are not peer-reviewed.

The IAC found that "the IPCC has no formal process or criteria for selecting authors" and "the selection criteria seemed arbitrary to many respondents" (p. 18). Government officials appoint scientists from their countries and "do not always nominate the best scientists from among those who volunteer, either because they do not know who these scientists are or because political considerations are given more weight than scientific qualifications" (p. 18). In other words: authors are selected from a "club" of scientists and nonscientists who agree with the alarmist perspective favored by politicians.

The rewriting of the Summary for Policy Makers by politicians and environmental activists -- a problem called out by global warming realists for many years, but with little apparent notice by the media or policymakers -- was plainly admitted, perhaps for the first time by an organization in the "mainstream" of alarmist climate change thinking. "[M]any were concerned that reinterpretations of the assessment's findings, suggested in the final Plenary, might be politically motivated," the IAC auditors wrote. The scientists they interviewed commonly found the Synthesis Report "too political" (p. 25).
In other words: previous reports were not done very well, lacked professionalism, were too politicized, and ignored dissent. All the things the Bush administration was accused of doing with the Iraq war, the IPCC admitted to. Its reports were bunk.

Meanwhile, a report from the Journal of Geophysical Research states that "current global climate models make "very large" errors in determining solar radiation at the surface of the Earth "due to ignoring the effects of clouds." MS at The Hockey Schtick notes that this means CO2 estimates are off by a factor of several hundred as a result, if this is true.

Apparently the electric Nissan Leaf's range in hot weather is severely reduced. Reports indicate that the car's electric motor cannot cool the device sufficiently and its range is reduced by more than half before the battery is drained. It has long been known that electrical devices work more efficiently when cool. In good news, however, Nissan is reducing the car's retail price by half.

Every presidential election the voting shenanigans get more ridiculous, and the latest news is of a dog getting a registration card mailed to him. A dead dog. The Voter Participation Center is a group dedicated to getting more Democrats to vote by helping minorities and unmarried women voter registrations. They've taken to mailing registrations out to people already filled out, but sometimes they don't go to people:
Several people in Washington State say they have received registration for dead animals, Rosie the black lab, Mozart another pet dog, and a cat named Scampers.
I remember old Scampers, we used to play racquetball together. Scampers? Seriously? That name didn't pop up a red flag? Without any ID requirements to vote, less than scrupulous people could easily vote using these registrations, especially since the Washington State Secretary of State is, shall we say, flexible when it comes to electing Democrats.

President Obama's golf game is suffering. Because he's working so hard... at getting reelected, he's missing golf games. He's been out golfing just over half as often this year than last by this time. Still, he's spent more time out on the links than he has meeting with economic advisers. Maybe they go golfing with him too - he claims his games take six hours. That's a lot of hunting for lost balls. This is the man who said he wouldn't rest until everyone who wanted to and could work would have a job.

Picture this: you are having a nice sleep, when someone suddenly wakes you up. Its a stranger, in your bed room, and he's yelling at you for not keeping your lawn tidy. This happened in Georgia, where a 'code enforcer' for a neighborhood let himself into a woman's house and woke her up because she wasn't cutting her weeds back enough. In some states, that would get you shot.

Recently U.S. District Judge Warren Urbom (a Nixon appointee) ruled that forcing religious organizations to fund contraceptives for their employees against their religious beliefs is perfectly acceptable. He did so by stating that "The plaintiffs face no direct and immediate harm" so the suit could not go forward until someone actually was harmed. That it is unconstitutional for a law to violate freedom of religion in the United States apparently was irrelevant to Judge Urbom. Maybe its time Urbom retires.

Recently someone went to New Zealand and took the Lord of the Rings tour, and assembled images and compared them to the films. These pictures are compiled at IZI Smile, and here are some samples:

LOTR1
LOTR2
LOTR3
Lighting, post production visual effects, and clever angles can do a lot to an image.

According to scientists, the intake of CO2 from plants in the world has undergone a "abrupt increase" in response to warming. Kieran Campbell writes at the New Zealand Herald:
Ms Mikaloff-Fletcher said the breakthrough had taken scientists "completely by surprise''.

Although the findings were interesting, she said they created more questions than answers.

"We applied some really exciting statistical techniques ... to look at how (the uptake of CO2 on land) is changing over time.
...
A report into the findings says the increase in uptake is "a big number'', about one billion tonnes of carbon per year.

"To put it into context, that is over 10 per cent of global fossil fuel emissions for 2010,'' the report said.
If this is true, its almost as if the planet was designed to react to and deal with changes in the climate, or something. Note that the report is quick to claim this "not contradict" alarmist claims about global warming. Other than how it shows that a CO2 increase isn't as dangerous as they claim and that there are clearly mechanisms in place to deal with it.

General Motors is eager to look as if it is doing well not just to stock holders (the majority of which consist of the United Auto Workers... and the US Federal Government) but to help the administration regain power this fall. They are doing so by a trick called "overbuilding" which is done by jamming GM car lots with more than the usual number of cars. Every car that is put on a lot is counted as "sold" by the company, and they won't get unsold cars back until... after the November presidential election. So they're trading next quarter's losses for apparent gains this quarter.

New technology involving lasers is said to be able to maintain drones in the air "indefinitely" by refueling them on the wing. The lasers recharge batteries on the drone through heat transfer, and drones can be programmed to fly near a recharging laser when it gets low. Through this process, creators speculate that it could be used to maintain the unmanned devices for days if needed. This could be good - military, sporting events, search and rescue, and so on - or bad, because the Obama administration is determined to use drones to spy on Americans.

Bad news for book lovers, but good for authors, which means I'm torn: last month, Adult fiction ebook sales outsold hardcover books. Ace at his HQ suggests that probably a lot of these sales are "impluse" buys, purchases focused more on stuff planned to read or things a buyer has always been curious about rather than books they necessarily mean to read.
I know I've downloaded more free ebooks that I intend to read (Moby Dick, Sherlock Holmes, Burton's Arabian Nights, etc.) than I've actually read.

And everyone, once they get one of these things, goes on an orgy of downloading free classics they always meant to read (or re-read).

So there's a certain amount of inflation cooked into the figures, there.
Either way, they sold, and more than a few hardcovers have been bought and not read.

North Carolina like most places has strict laws against identity theft and publication of private information. However, a union boss maliciously published names and social security numbers of 33 AT&T employees on a publicly accessible bulletin board at the company's facility in Burlington, N.C because those employees had quit the union. When taken to court, the local and state judges decided that laws prohibiting this kind of thing didn't apply to unions. The workers are appealing to the US Supreme Court, where hopefully Justice Roberts won't fear public disapproval of a proper ruling and invent some crap to protect unions.

Tim Blair suggests a new term to use: "hit the rotors." This is a reference to birds hitting wind power generators, in response to a news story of Sea Eagles being minced. He figures this should be used instead of terms like "hit the skids" or "went belly up." I think its a good replacement for "jumped the shark" which I've never liked to begin with.

And that's the Word Around the Net for July 20, 2012.

1 Comments:

Blogger Anna said...

In all fairness about the flags on the fire trucks, the representative for the fire department (correctly) claimed they had been displaying them in violation of the U.S. Flag Code and was going to remedy by the end of that week. http://www.usflag.org/uscode36.html#175

12:18 PM, July 20, 2012  

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