We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
President Obama has a reputation for talking, but not necessarily for saying much. He has achieved new levels of vagueness this election season. Beyond repeating that he's in favor of making the "rich" pay for more government "investment," he hasn't offered a single new idea for a second term. This is deliberate.
The core of the Obama strategy is to make Americans worry that whatever Mitt Romney does, it will be worse.
When we last left the exciting Fukushima/earthquake/tsunami story, it had been determined that the Fukushima nuclear power plant suffered almost no ill effects from the largest earthquake in Japan's history and the fifth-largest ever recorded. They had built the reactors deep in solid rock and they withstood the upheaval just fine.
Then the tsunami came along, knocked out the backup generators, and the whole thing went into the toilet.
Then the Japanese government freaked out and shut down all of their nuclear power plants due to 'safety concerns'. The first one finally went back on line a few weeks ago, a year and a half later.
Now, a little panic and overreaction from a government is hardly anything new. We see it here all the time. Some 11-year-old moron puts out an eye with a bottle rocket and immediately all fireworks are banned throughout the county. About the only thing they have in some places these days are sparklers and snakes. Happens all the time.
But then Germany got into the act, likewise shutting down all of its nuke plants over safety concerns, all of which raises one of the greatest questions of all time:
There are tsunamis in Germany?
Earthquakes, sure, but, as Fukushima testified, nuke plants can be built to withstand earthquakes just fine. So what the German high command was really saying to its citizenry was, "We're afraid we're going to get hit by a tsunami any minute now." That, all by itself, might have earned Germany the coveted title, Fool of the Decade.
But it gets even worse than that.
When they built Fukushima, they constructed a sea wall that would withstand the highest tsunami in Japanese recorded history, back in the 30's. These people obviously aren't fools, and they well knew that (1) the reactors would probably withstand a major quake just fine, but (2) a tsunami breaching the sea wall would do them in. So they obviously put a lot of research into it.
Turns out, that wasn't a tsunami after all that swept into northeastern Japan last March, killing nearly 20,000 people and launching a major nuclear and environmental crisis.
That was two tsunamis that merged far out at sea and rolled swiftly toward shore, more than 135 feet high. That means the speeding wall of water was almost as tall as the Statue of Liberty, torch to toes.
They've been studying data from a trio of satellites that fortuitously happened to be passing over that part of the Pacific Ocean on Friday, March 11, Japan time. And they have now confirmed what until now had only been hypothesized:
That separate massive water movements, ignited by undersea earthquakes miles beneath the ocean surface, can grow and actually merge their massive energy and water volumes to roll across scores of miles of ocean undiminished by distance. They are, it now appears, shaped and steered by the unseen contours -- the ridges and mountain ranges -- of the ocean bottom beneath.
Until now such twin tidal waves had never been observed, just theorized as possible explanations for such devastation as the 1960 Chilean tsunami that traveled trans-Pacific to kill about 200 in Hawaii and Japan.
"It was a one-in-ten million chance that we were able to observe this double wave with satellites," said Y. Tony Song of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California. "It was like looking for a ghost. A NASA-French Space Agency satellite altimeter happened to be in the right place at the right time to capture the double wave and verify its existence."
So, to sum up, not only did Germany shut down its entire nuclear power industry because they were afraid of getting hit by a tsunami, but it turns out the tsunami they based this on was such an unlikely event that, until now, it had only been hypothesized.
...the Democratic Party is fourscore behind abortion on demand, radical environmentalism and tax hikes. These issues, we are told, are quite popular, so the Democratic Party should not be shy about touting them. These issues are what define them as Democrats, right? Let the Republicans talk about all that boring stuff like the private sector, energy (from underneath the ground, no less!), debt reduction and reforming entitlement programs. Borrrrring!
Ferguson’s whole piece is worth reading; I’ll confine myself to two bits. Responding to what Ferguson says about Obama’s notorious “You didn’t build that” speech, one critic says: “It’s bizarre that Ferguson thinks government policies didn’t help create America’s middle class. America was the first country to make high school compulsory.” Ferguson:
Fact checked and — oh no! I really did get that wrong. It was the government that created the middle class, as well as the Golden Gate Bridge! Remind me to tell Karl Marx about this. It will come as news to him that, contrary to his life’s work, the superstructure in fact created the base. (Come to think of it, this is going to come as shock to a lot of American liberals too. Imagine! The state actually created the bourgeoisie! Who knew?)
When I was a kid, one of the most exciting things to do was to take a Sunfish out in a hurricane. Doubt I'd still have the nerve to do that now, but these fun-loving folks in Maine took a Hobie 16 out in Hurricane Earl 2 years ago. Boat reached a max speed of 22 knots before pitchpoling.
It's usually amusing to hear from PJ O'Rourke, but this post of his is rough on his own generation. Quotes:
America’s retreat from visible, tangible manifestations of superiority doesn’t hurt just our pride, our economy, and our place in the Guinness Book of World Records. It’s also a bad advertising campaign. America has one great product to sell, individual liberty. It’s attractive, useful, healthy, and the fate of the world depends upon it.
We are the most important and maybe the only country that fully embodies the sanctity, dignity, independence, and responsibility of each and every person. “American” is not a nationality, an ethnicity, or a culture; it’s a fact of human freedom. Our country was not created and is not governed by a ruling class or even by majority rule. America is individuals exercising their right to do what they think is best with due respect (to the extent human nature allows) for the right of all other Americans to do likewise. This is not an ideology or a system. This is a blessing.
The rest of the world would like to be so blessed. But the concept of individual liberty is harder to grasp than we Americans think. Those with little experience of liberty understand license and lawlessness better than they understand freedom. We want everyone on earth to have sanctity, dignity, independence, and responsibility. And we want everyone to want it for each other. We want this not because of our idealism but because of our selfish desire for a little more peace and plenty.
The world will never be good. People fight hard and cause a lot of trouble when commanded by their self-interest. But people fight viciously and cause ruin when commanded by the interests of others. Individual liberty is the best we can do. Try any other sociopolitical combination—collective liberty, individual oppression, communitarian despotism.
However, if we are going to promote the benefits of individual liberty, we have to show what free people can do. We need evidence to support the truths we hold to be self-evident. We have to advertise. Putting something double the size of the Burj Khalifa where the World Trade Towers once stood and building a Corvette that can top 300 mph would be a start.
Even assuming a full recovery from the Great Recession—possible, though not certain—the resulting prosperity will be qualified by greater competition for scarce economic resources. Massive federal budget deficits are only the most conspicuous sign of a society that has promised itself more than it can afford. To resurrect a familiar metaphor: A more slowly growing economic pie will face more claimants for slices. Some will receive bigger slices, others smaller.
The premise of the post–World War II affluent society, that we were or would soon become so rich that we could afford almost anything, was never true, but we often acted as if it were. We avoided unpleasant choices, especially in government, accepting routine federal budget deficits (46 out of 51 years since 1961). Now, limits are painfully evident. There are more promises than can be fulfilled. Meeting all of government’s spending commitments would require higher, broad-based taxes, which both liberals and conservatives reject, or perpetually large deficits, which both parties consider unsustainable and undesirable.
What looms is a future of more distributional struggles between young and old, rich and poor, different regions, and many interest groups. Each will defend subsidies, work to avoid tax increases, and maneuver for regulatory advantage.
The entire piece is worth studying. There are lots of people out there, young and older, who could be doing much more right now were it not for the Administration's horribly misguided responses to the recession.
The question of the Bush Tax cuts 'causing' the deficits, and hence the 'need' to increase taxes on the 'wealthy' is one which Democrats spend many evenings discussing. Clearly, Bush was an insane tax-cutter without any good ideas and caused every problem mankind faces today, and frankly every problem we've faced for the last 40 years. He was just that bad.
However, a non-partisan look at the cuts indicates something quite different. On a standalone basis, taking out all other additional spending programs from the last 11 years, what we find is the tax cuts paid for themselves, and then some. In other words, the issue isn't the cuts. The issue is all the additional spending which took place after the cuts. To be completely honest, and completely fair, not all the spending was by Bush, either. In fact, most of it was voted on with bipartisan support. Very little could be said to be purely Bush-related, let alone Republican-related.
Honesty is a difficult thing in politics. Typically I don't look for anything more than a minimal degree of it, what I prefer is a level of consistency of thought. The Republicans have their own challenges regarding honesty and consistency, but the Democrats have really done a good job of cornering the market on dishonesty and hypocrisy.
I've been busy the last few days with management meetings, mostly running from office to office and keeping people happy. However, there was a full day off-site meeting recently on the 44th floor of a relatively new high-rise on 57th Street. We had the entire floor to ourselves, and before the meetings got underway, I walked around and snapped a few pictures. Here's one:
A good view of the Hudson, Jersey City in the distance, down 8th Avenue from 57th. As I snapped this, I noticed several other people in the room doing the same thing. I laughed, and commented, "Isn't it strange, we've all lived in the New York area for years, we've been in so many skyscrapers, and here we are taking pictures?" One woman, who lives in Manhattan, replied "Yes, but you need to do this to remind yourself just how special it is sometimes. We tend to take it for granted." I agree. We don't usually stop to enjoy what we've got available to us.
Why go to college? Go back fifty years, and the answer commonly given was, "To become a well-rounded person who has a grasp of our civilization's history, science, and art." Go back about twenty-five years and the answer commonly given was, "So you'll be able to get a good job." And now one authoritative source is telling us, "Because you'll be better off when the next recession hits."
We saw it during the 1984 performance at the BAM. It's a memorable, hypnotic theater experience, a collaboration between Robert Wilson, Philip Glass, and choreographer Lucinda Childs.
4 1/2 hrs, no intermission, but you can come and go as you please. Wine and snacks in the lobby throughout.
When performed at NYC's Metropolitan Opera in 1976, Einstein was remarkable in its theatrical innovations, but many of them have since been absorbed into the mainstream.
If you are interested in music, theater, or dance, I would still say that it is not to be missed. However, it ain't a Broadway-type performance. I wouldn't call it highbrow - just unique. It sort-of washes over you in dreamlike fashion. I found the visual imagery to be unforgettable. It is a dream, a spectacle. A non-theater and -dance person might get bored without smoking a little weed first. Little snippets of it at the link above.
I cannot let my kids miss this. Worth a trip from almost anywhere.
Ah, there's nothing quite like living in the beautiful Florida Keys. The clear, blue Atlantic outside our door. The gentle ocean breeze wafting through the palm trees. The lovely wahines serving drinks at the local tiki bar.
Yes, you simply couldn't ask for a more peaceful, tranquil existence.