Monday, January 30, 2012

Shame On Earl

trashy_neighbors.gifWalking around Gold Hill lately we've seen a lot of vacant houses. It wasn't that way three years ago. Back then it seemed like everyone was remodeling, painting, landscaping. Boom times. Tiny little houses sold for two hundred thousand. Some people who had bought their houses twenty years ago for thirty thousand put them up for sale. They didn't really want to move, but for that kind of money, why not?

Then times got tough. More people were selling but nobody was buying. Gradually the forclosure notices started appearing on darkened front doors, the people moved away, and the houses were empty. Where did everyone go?

Friday, January 27, 2012

A History of Dieting

calories_and_corsets.jpgOver at Spiked, part of the news bath that rarely gets mentioned, Rob Lyons reviews Calories and Corsets by Louise Foxcroft.
Foxcroft starts right back with the ancient Greeks, who knew that “those who are uncommonly fat... die more quickly than the lean,” even if they also recognised that “in all maladies, those who are fat about the belly do best; it is bad to be thin and wasted there.”
Hippocrates, the father of medicine, recognised through observation that people's constitutions were different and so were foods. Over 2,000 years ago, he was prescribing eating less and exercising more as a way to lose weight. He was also, however, prescribing vomiting as a weight-loss measure....
Sounds like a fun read.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Posted w/o Comment


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Verdict of Historians

How do historians rank presidents who achieve prosperity and security for Americans? Let's pose the question this way: What if we had a president who, in his first two years as president, cut federal spending in half; produced budget surpluses in both years; cut tax rates, and slashed unemployment from 12 to 2%? Where should historians rank such a man?
Dead last.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Can’t Happen Here

niprcc.pngThe domain name associated with the website has been seized pursuant to an order issued by an U.S. District Court.

A federal grand jury has indicted one individual allegedly involved in the operation of and charged it with the following federal crimes:

Conspiracy to Commit Snark (18 U.S.C. § 1962(d)), Conspiracy to Commit Sophmoric Humor (18 U.S.C. §§ 2, 2319), and Criminal Copywriting (17 U.S.C. § 506).
Just remember, though. The fat guy is not evil because he's fat. Nor is he fat because he's evil. It's just a coincidence.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Do I Have to Draw You a Picture?

participation_rate_75_older.jpgMaybe you thought you'd like to retire some day.

Notice the trend. People who were 75 in 1970 started their working lives during World War I. Those who were 75 in 1985 started during the Great Depression. And those currently 75 years old started during the Eisenhower years.

Three different attitudes toward work, perhaps?
food_stamp_boom.jpgWell, there's always Food Stamps.

Bread and circuses, with entertainment in the form of those ubiquitous glowing rectangles. Have you wondered why the crime rate isn't rising?

A fat, lazy criminal class; that's why.

Do you favor a smaller, less intrusive government?

ILEducationSpendingHigherEduc.jpgWould you settle for just less intrusive?

This is the budget for Illinois higher education, but the trend is the same in every other department of government. Thirty years from now three-quarters of the budget will pay bureaucrats who no longer work. And the good news is that retired bureaucrats are less meddlesome than the active kind.

The recent action on the light bulb ban illustrates my point. Congress left the law in place — they couldn't bear to abandon such a lovely little law — but they chose not to budget the money to enforce it. That's the future: There will be ever more and more laws but less and less effort to enforce them.

So don't worry about what the law says — worry what the law does.

When most of the government is sitting in around nursing homes, all the laws in the world will do damn little.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Editing Shakespeare

What a piece of work is a man! How noble in reason, how infinite in faculties, in form, and moving, how express and admirable in action, how like an angel in apprehension — how like a God! The beauty of the world, the paragon of animals — and yet, to me, what is this quintessence of dust?
Well, that's how I would punctuate it if I were Shakespeare's editor. This is how it's usually punctuated:
What a piece of work is a man, how noble in reason, how infinite in faculties, in form and moving how express and admirable, in action how like an angel, in apprehension how like a god! the beauty of the world, the paragon of animals — and yet, to me, what is this quintessence of dust?
Wrong, I tell you. All wrong.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Jaunty Little Otter

jaunty_little_otter_thumb.jpgIn the Port of Siuslaw; today about 2:00. I drove seven hours to get there and back. With a little luck, I'll drive that every week.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Two Quick Notes

Europe Weird and New in The Wall Street Journal.
European financial markets have gotten very strange. Greece's one-year government bond yield hit 376% yesterday, while Germany, Switzerland and the U.K. sold short-term debt this week at yields below 0%. That means investors are effectively paying the latter governments for the privilege of lending to them.
At this point, flying saucers over the Eiffel Tower or the Colosseum in Rome wouldn't surprise anyone.
First Big Test Yet to Come in The American Spectator.
Florida, the fourth largest state in the nation, is bearing down on 20 million residents and has more than twice the population of Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina combined. It has more than four million registered Republicans, about the population of Iowa and New Hampshire together.
When we know who the winner is in Florida, we'll know something.
That will be about Ground Hog Day. Wake me then.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Light, Sweet, Crude, Delicious

Remember the ecological devastation wreaked by the Deepwater Horizon disaster? Yeah, I don't either.
Some 200,000 tons of methane gas and about 4.4 million barrels of petroleum spilled into the ocean. Given the enormity of the spill, many scientists predicted that a significant amount of the resulting chemical pollutants would likely persist in the region's waterways for years.

According to a new federally funded study published Monday by the National Academy of Sciences, those scientists were wrong. By the end of September 2010, the vast underwater plume of methane, plus other gases, had all but disappeared. By the end of October, a significant amount of the underwater offshore oil—a complex substance made from thousands of compounds—had vanished as well.
Where did it go? Lunched.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

TV That Watches You Back

Premiering at the Consumer Electronics Show this week is the first television to run Android 4.0 (known to us geeks as Ice Cream Sandwich). Among its many features:
It will have an integrated 5 MP webcam, which will be used for facial recognition. Why would you need that? Parental control, of course.
I still won't buy one, of course.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Weekend Reading

chemical_history_of_a_candle.pngI highly recommend The Wall Street Journal's Weekend edition. Chock full of feature articles and book reviews. Like this one by Peter Pesic.
Working in London as an apprentice book-binder in the early 1800s, Faraday started to read the books he was binding and to attend popular lectures on science delivered by Humphry Davy, the celebrated chemist.... In time, Faraday succeeded Davy as a professor at the Royal Institution in London, making many crucial discoveries in physics and chemistry.
In the 1820s he originated the Christmas Lectures at the Royal Institution, which continue to this day. They were popular presentations meant primarily for young people, but princes and politicians also flocked to hear him. The Chemical History of a Candle, perhaps Faraday's most famous series of lectures, has remained in print since first delivered in 1861.
It's on my wish list.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Trestle In Sunlight

trestle_in_sunlight_thumb.jpgSomething about doing jigsaw puzzles makes my eyes much more sensitive to color. When I go outside everything looks different. Today on our walk along the river the bright green moss on the railroad trestle caught my attention.

Sunday, January 1, 2012


There was considerable debate earlier in the century about how we should pronounce the years. Would we say "two-thousand-five" or "twenty-owe-five?" For me the "two-thousand" construct won out. It just seemed more natural. And so all the way through last year I would say two-thousand-nine, two-thousand-ten, and two-thousand-eleven.

This morning the very first thought in my mind was "welcome to twenty-twelve." I don't know what finally flipped it. Maybe it was the alliteration. But I'm pleased to annouced that we have finally arrived in