Saturday, May 30, 2009

Iran's minorities may bring about regime change

Can Iran's Minorities Help Oust Ahmadinejad?
[...] The rights and concerns of Iran's ethnic minorities are enjoying a prominence in this year's race far greater than during any previous election in the Islamic Republic. Both Moussavi and the other reformist candidate, Mehdi Karroubi, have traveled far and wide in Iran to court Lors, Kurds, Arabs, Turkomans, Azeris, Baluchis and other non-Persian minorities who together make up almost half of the population. Under Ahmadinejad's government, there has been greater repression of political and media activity among the minorities, a fact the state justifies by citing U.S. government efforts to undermine the Islamic Republic by funding opposition activities among minorities in the border regions. Despite the country's patchwork of intertwined ethnicities, religions and languages, Iranians from all backgrounds harbor a strong sense of national identity. Still, the central government has historically been wary of the minorities who mostly inhabit Iran's peripheral provinces. [...]

The Azeris in particular have held influential positions high up in government. Mousavi himself had been prime minister in the 1980's, when Iran was at war with Iraq and his is credited with helping overcome crippling shortages. Amadinejad has mismanaged the economy, causing intolerable price increases. Mousavi has a proven track record of doing a better job, even under trying circumstances. I'm hoping he trounces Amadinejad, but how fair the election will be remains to be seen.

Related Link:

Reformist Azeri Couple Challenge Iran's Amadinejad in Upcoming June Elections

Friday, May 29, 2009

Reformist Azeri Couple Challenge Iran's Amadinejad in Upcoming June Elections

Reform candidate's wife new political star in Iran
TABRIZ, Iran (AP) — Presidential hopeful Mir Hossein Mousavi waited in the wings as his wife warmed up the crowd. Zahra Rahnavard quickly had them roaring in approval — and her husband beaming — as she ticked off her demands for women's rights and other reforms.

"We love you, Rahnavard!" shouted the Tabriz University students, as Mousavi clapped.

While the political power couple is a common fixture in the West, Rahnavard is rewriting the role of political spouse in conservative Iran — and could give a boost to her husband's candidacy in the June 12 presidential election.

With her sharp wit and fluid oratory, Rahnavard has fast become a political draw on her own, as well as an important asset to her husband's campaign as the main pro-reform challenger to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Masoud Heidari, a rights activist, said the country "needs to respond to accumulated demands from women and Rahnavard is playing a deservedly good role in that direction."

She brings a rare mix: the liberal cry to fire up reformers, paired with the revolutionary credentials that bring grudging respect from hard-liners.

Even her outfit gives a nod in both directions — an ultraconservative head-to-toe black chador, with a colorful head scarf peeking out and a bag made by traditional village weavers.


"Rahnavard is reviving hopes that women will get part of their social rights ... Women's rights and freedoms went backward during Ahmadinejad's four years in office. We hope a reformist win will create new hopes for greater freedoms for women," said a supporter, Sima Honarvar.

Rahnavard is not the first high-profile woman in Iranian affairs. Human rights lawyer Shirin Ebadi won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2003 and Masoumeh Ebtekar was a vice president in Khatami's government.

But Rahnavard is the first spouse to take a major campaign role — and promise to keep her public voice if her husband becomes president. By comparison, Khatami's wife was only rarely in the public eye and almost nothing is officially known about Ahmadinejad's wife.

In almost every campaign rally, Rahnavard speaks before her husband.

In Tabriz, 300 miles northwest of Tehran, she questioned why students are imprisoned for expressing their opinions and why liberal-minded professors are forcefully retired.

"It was expected that our universities would be independent. But they are not. Why are students jailed for speaking their minds?" she asked, prompting chants of "political prisoners must be released."

Iran's third-largest city, Tabriz is populated mostly by Iran's Azeri minority. It is Mousavi's hometown, and both he and his wife began their campaign appearance by making a few remarks in the local Azeri-Turkish language before switching to Farsi. [...]

In June of 2006, a cartoon in a state run newspaper sparked massive protests, because it depicted the Azeri (who make up about 25% of Iran's population) as cockroaches. So it's interesting to see a major opposition candidate from the Azeri community, who is popular and has revolutionary credentials. AND a feminist wife, who was a college dean until she was dismissed from that position by Iran's conservatives.

She has quite a bit to say about free speech and women's rights in Iran, which have actually suffered setbacks in recent years. See the rest of the article for more details about the reforms she and her husband are pushing for.

Prior elections in Iran seemed to be rigged, with ballot stuffing, districts reporting 800% voter turn out. However, there is a lot of pressure on with this election, and hopes are high. The economy is in bad shape, unemployment is high, and there are many young people with no job prospects.

If Amadinejad, with his nutty apocalyptic beliefs is defeated, I think it could only be a good thing. Many Iranians who are leary of the controversial fringe Muslim sect he belongs to, would like to see him out of power.

Related Links:

Is it time for regime change in Iran yet?

Iran, under the surface... is it crumbling?

Hangings in Iran increase, to silence dissent

Iran's pressing needs and Iraq's vulnerability.

Purging Western Influences from Islamic minds

Iranian Fashion Police Publicly Bludgeon Women

Amadinejad talks crazy on Iranian TV, with help from a "Death to Amercia" chorus

Amadinejad supports Pop Islam, Iranian nationalism, to serve the goal of Martydom

Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Democrats New Power Base: Industry

The Democratic-Industrial Complex
Over the past few weeks, President Obama and Congressional Democrats have reached a series of high-profile agreements with key industries that have usually aligned with the GOP. Automobile manufacturers, the health insurance industry, medical professionals, pharmaceutical executives, and electric utilities - not traditional Democratic allies - all have joined, to varying extent, in the big policy initiatives of Obama's second hundred days.


As Democratic lobbyist Steve Elmendorf put it, a closer alliance between Democrats and these industries "means potentially that [the Republicans'] time in the wilderness will be longer because these groups will not help them to get back into the majority."


A similar trajectory is evident at the presidential level. In 2004, Democratic nominee John Kerry received less than 40 percent of the health care industry's contributions to the party nominees; in 2008, Barack Obama collected 72 percent of the industry's donations. Kerry took in less than a quarter of the auto manufacturers' donations; Obama received 62 percent. And Kerry's campaign received only 17 percent of contributions from electric utilities; Obama captured 56 percent of their donations last year.

Though they have started to neutralize the GOP's financial advantage among these groups, Democrats may still have room to grow. The yardstick might be highs that Republican fundraisers enjoyed during their time in the majority. In 1996, the Republicans' first election with House and Senate majorities since 1954, they collected almost 63 percent of health care's total donations. Pharmaceutical interests directed more than two-thirds of their contributions to Republicans that year. The same story played out in the auto and energy sectors. Auto manufacturers gave 68 percent of their money to the GOP in 1996. And Republicans received 69 percent of utilities' donations en route to collecting 76 percent of the energy sector's total contributions.

Early numbers from 2010 election fundraising posted by the Center suggest that Congressional Democrats are approaching and even exceeding the donation shares that Republicans once experienced. So far in this cycle, Democrats are receiving about 66 percent of both the $3.5 million donated by health care companies and the $1.1 million donated by utilities. (Automakers have made negligible contributions to the 2010 race.) Democrats have even pulled ahead of Republican candidates in donations from the overall energy sector, defying conventional wisdom by raising $1.2 million from big energy so far, compared to $850,000 for Republicans. Even the oil and gas industry is hedging its bets, directing 43 per cent of its contributions so far toward Democrats.

With industry, Democrats are making the argument that they are better off working with the majority to shape legislation than joining Republicans in adamant opposition to Obama's plans. The message to business from Congressional Democrats, Elmendorf says, is that if they don't work with the party "it is going to be a vastly different bill; if you stay in the tent, we are going to get a more moderate bill." [...]

These groups are favoring Democrats for the moment, because they saw this sweeping change coming, and they are trying to protect themselves and their interests by co-operating. If the Dems squeeze them too hard though, they could easily switch to the Republicans again. The industries have always tried to play the two sides off against each other, to create the best business climate for themselves. It's the ebb and flow of politics. The Dems have the advantage for the time being. Will they be able to hold it, and for how long, is the question.

Speaking of complexes, did you know that congress was included in Ike's original speech about the military-industrial complex? It makes sense:

Ike's “military-industrial-congressional complex"

And now congress is controlled by Democrats. Neither party seems to do particularly well when they have so much control. We need more balance. It's the point of having two major parties; to balance each others extremes so we don't go off the rails.

Debt servicing, America's GDP, and inflation

From the Financial Times:

Exploding debt threatens America
[...] Under President Barack Obama’s budget plan, the federal debt is exploding. To be precise, it is rising – and will continue to rise – much faster than gross domestic product, a measure of America’s ability to service it. The federal debt was equivalent to 41 per cent of GDP at the end of 2008; the Congressional Budget Office projects it will increase to 82 per cent of GDP in 10 years. With no change in policy, it could hit 100 per cent of GDP in just another five years. [...]

Inflation could lower the debt to GDP ratio, but would cause prices to rise. It could quickly become unmanageable.

The article says there is still time to reverse this. But does anyone in government have the will to do it?

Monday, May 25, 2009

An On-line, Interactive, Memorial Day Memorial

Interactive map tool creates online memorial to U.S., coalition troops
(CNN) -- Each year on Memorial Day, tens of thousands of Americans visit Arlington National Cemetery just outside Washington to pay tribute to the men and women who died serving the United States. uses arcing lines to connect locations of the service members' deaths to their hometowns.

For people who are unable to make the trip, a new online memorial provides a unique way to honor those service members who have fallen in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The new Google Earth layer, called Map the Fallen, enables the user to pinpoint where, when, and how each service member died since the beginning of the war in Afghanistan. A line connects the service member's approximate location of death to his or her hometown.

The interactive tool -- available at -- also offers a detailed profile of each person.

Sean Askay, a Google engineer with no military affiliation who developed the layer in his free time, explains the project on his blog. [...]

What a great idea. Read the whole thing for more info, and another photo.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Even in 2002 the Congressional Budget Office saw the unsustainable path we're following

And everyone in Washington knew. Maynard at had this recent post, about where the Congressional Budget Office said we are headed, even before the economic crisis kicked in:

Things to Come
[...] Take a look at this report from the Congressional Budget Office, "A 125-Year Picture of the Federal Government's Share of the Economy, 1950 to 2075". This report was prepared in 2002, before the budget went to hell. So this is a projection from a better day. Take it as an optimistic projection. (Fox just issued a report noting that Social Security and Medicare would go broke several years sooner than previously expected, and that many trillions of dollars would be needed to close the gap. Again, this is independent of the recent spending binges.)

Here's the key chart, based on spending patterns and demographics as of the good old days of 2002:

Federal outlays as a percentage of GDP

Two notes: First, overall expenses are rising steadily and dramatically from approximately now until the end of the graph in 2075, where it's at 40% of GDP and rising.

Second, the cause of the rise is Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and interest on the rising debt. Demographics will catch up with us, pushing claims through the roof.

In other words, the Federal Government has long been on autopilot to transform itself into a machine whose major function is to seize wealth from party "A" and hand it over to party "B". (And, with respect to servicing the national debt, our government's fundamental job will be to suck money out of our children's pockets and pay it to China.) None of the rise has to do with defense or infrastructure maintenance or any of what we would regard as legitimate functions of government. In fact, real government functions will get crowded out by the mandatory giveaway programs.

This other chart is also important. It's the projected graph of Federal income and outgo. As you see, the anticipated expenses rise but the income does not. That's because the taxation levels were projected to be stable. So the deficit heads skywards.

Federal revenues versus outlays as a percentage of GDP

So we were heading for a big problem as of 2002. And everyone in Washington knew it.

Then along came George Bush and Barack Obama, evil twins that decided the Federal Government hadn't made enough commitments. So they both grew the government and made more big, unfunded promises and are spending even more money.

On the revenue side, George Bush cut taxes for everyone. And Barack Obama promised to cut taxes for 95% of the people.

In other words, with disaster looming on the horizon, our political leaders have aggressively chosen the course that will magnify the problem and cause it to strike sooner.

How can this be happening? Have we gone mad? Am I saying anything here that is either unimportant or less than obvious?

Will we change course?

So where does this all lead? Obviously to some sort of unpleasantness on a grand scale. [...]

Maynard reluctantly speculates about where all this might go, and what might be done about it. Or not. I've done speculation of my own about what sort of "unpleasantness" this could be leading to, such as the collapse of US currency, or a growing vulnerability due to increasing military weakness and poor technology decisions without safeguards.

I hate all that depressing stuff. On the whole, I prefer to cultivate a positive outlook, and work toward improvement. But to be balanced, you also have to be aware of dangerous pitfalls, so you can avoid them. Sometimes ringing the alarm bell is enough to keep the ship from hitting an iceberg. Forewarned is forearmed, for those who are paying attention.

I don't know what is going to happen, but it does seem obvious that we are going down a path that is unsustainable. Something, somewhere, sometime, has gotta give, it just can't continue on like this.

Related Links:

Deep Impact: The Federal Deficit

Global Banking Crisis? Leading to...?

Is Obama compounding Bush's mistakes?

Can the Dow Jones Industrial Average and Age Demographics foretell Economic Depression?

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Thursday Chuckle: Somali "Adventure" Cruises

Welcome to Somali Cruises
It's like a safari, only better

"Safari" is the Swahili word for adventure and that's just what we have in store for you.

We sail up and down the coast of Somalia waiting to get hijacked by pirates. We encourage you to bring your 'High powered weapons' along on the cruise. If you don't have weapons of your own, you can rent them on the boat. [...]

Nice website, looks very authentic. :-)

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Hubble Space Telescope Repaired for Last Time

Repaired Hubble relaunched from shuttle
[...] "Houston, Hubble has been released, it's safely back on its journey of exploration as we begin steps to conclude ours," Altman said.

Hubble's protective aperture door was opened a few minutes before deploy, at 8:33 a.m. EDT, allowing starlight to once again fall on its famously flawed 94.5-inch primary mirror. But engineers at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore and the Space Telescope Operations Control Center at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., will need most of the summer to test and calibrate Hubble's new and refurbished instruments and subsystems.

If all goes well, the first pictures from the upgraded telescope will be released in early September.

The release marked a bittersweet moment for NASA and for Hubble fans as the telescope receded into the dark of space, disappearing from view for the last time. With the shuttle program facing retirement after eight more space station assembly flights, no more Hubble visits are currently planned. And no one will set eyes on the telescope again until a final mission, presumably robotic, to drive it out of orbit sometime in the late 2010s or the 2020s. [...]

The article offers sentimental comments from the crew, including a self-described "Hubble Hugger", who worked on prior Hubble missions.

Upgraded Hubble flies solo again
This article also links to a gallery of the Photos taken by the Hubble Telescope.

Dell's New Student Netbook, the Latitude 2100

Maybe they should call it "The Snitch", because it let's the teacher know if you are on the Web or networking when you should be doing something else:

The video is about 4 minutes. It shows how this netbook is optimized for classroom use, and it's many unique features. It can be used with Linux, Windows XP Home, and Windows Vista. Price is expected to be $370.00.

Linux-ready netbook touted as "Student rugged"
Dell is readying a netbook for the K-12 educational market with a rubberized case and an optional touchscreen. Incorporating an Intel Atom N270 with 1GB RAM, the Latitude 2100 offers a 10.1-inch display, WiFi, gigabit Ethernet, up to 250GB storage, and Ubuntu Linux, says Dell.

While focusing primarily on the K-12 market, the Latitude 2100 is also a good fit for corporate applications including employee training or order fulfillment, says Dell. Features aimed at the K-12 environment include optional touchscreen, webcam, and lock slots. There are also five primary colors available, as well as a personalized labeling window for easy identification. A network activity light is included that enables teachers to easily spot when a student is using the WiFi connection.


The Latitude 2100 ships with remote management software that enables features including Wake-on-LAN, Alert Standard Format, and Microsoft's Systems Management Server. In addition, the netbooks will soon be offered in the U.S. with an optional Dell Mobile Computing Station, a specialized cart system designed to ease the process of storing, charging, and managing up to 24 netbooks at once. Students can store the units in charging slots, which are also configured to enable IT administrators to remotely update the computers with new software at night. [...]

It all seems very efficient, and likely to become a new standard in the schools of our Brave New World.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Monday Funny: The Voca People

I got this in my email. Weird, but entertaining:

The Voca people (very funny and amazing!)
No instruments or any sound effects! AMAZING! :)

Very funny!

The song list:

Intro: Era-Ameno
1. Johann Sebastian Bach - Toccata and Fugue in D minor
2. Hallelujah
3. The Entertainer
4. Chordettes - Mr. Sandman
5. Glen Miller - In The Mood
6. Elvis Presley - Tutti Frutti
7. Beach Boys - I Get Around
8. Doobie Brothers - Long Train Runnin'
9. Madonna - Holiday
10. Michael Jackson - Billie Jean
11. Eurythmics - Sweet Dreams
12. Mori Kante - Yeke Yeke
13. Nirvana - Smells like teen spirit
14. Spice Girls - If you wanna be my lover
15. Los Del Rio - La Macarena
16. Rednex - Cotton Eyed Joe
17. Britney Spears - Hit Me Baby One More Time
18. Baha Men - Who Let the Dogs Out?
19. C+C Music Factory - Gonna Make You Sweet (Everybody Dance Now)
20. Will Smith - Switch
21. Madagascar 5 vs. KK Project - I Like To Move It
Category: Entertainment
voca people very funny theathre no instruments or sound effect amazing watch rosszpc xbox360 ps2 ps3 Lior Kalfo Lidor Productions new performance Official Shai Fishman Fish-i Studios thevocalpeople voca-people origenal music Eyal Cohen Oded Goldstein Adi Cesare Kozlovski Naama Levi Liraz Rachmin Inon Ben David Boaz Leeorna Solomons

Great fun! May it brighten your Monday.

Understanding the meaning of "Trillions"

Nowadays we are seeing numbers mentioned in government spending, that should belong in astronomy rather than accounting. They are so HUGE, it's hard to grasp. Here are some sites that can help:

What does one TRILLION dollars look like?
All this talk about "stimulus packages" and "bailouts"...

A billion dollars...

A hundred billion dollars...

Eight hundred billion dollars...

One TRILLION dollars...

What does that look like? I mean, these various numbers are tossed around like so many doggie treats, so I thought I'd take Google Sketchup out for a test drive and try to get a sense of what exactly a trillion dollars looks like.

We'll start with a $100 dollar bill. [...]

It's a good visual presentation. Here is one example of what One Hundred Million Dollars (in $100 bills) would look like, stacked on a palette:

Follow the link to see what a Trillion Dollars would look like in $100 bills. It's mind boggling. Then multiply THAT by 10, and you will have our current National Debt. Unbelievable... and unsustainable.

HT: Walker at Subtle oak flavor; Pleasing finish

Here's another article that tackles the topic:

Obama’s dangerous budget leaves GOP at loss for words
[...] Insensitivity to scope is a major obstacle to understanding the Obama administration’s $3.6 trillion 2010 budget. People simply have trouble understanding a number so big. A recent poll asked Americans how many million are in a trillion. Twenty-one percent of respondents got the answer right — it’s a million million. Most people thought it was a lot less.

Republicans are facing that obstacle as they try to explain the dimensions of Obama’s spending plan. The GOP pollster told me he tries to explain it by asking people to think of a dollar as a second — one dollar, one brief tick of your watch. A million seconds, the pollster explained, equals eleven days. A billion seconds equals 31 years. And a trillion seconds equals 310 centuries.

The task of educating voters got a little more urgent Monday, when the government announced the not-terribly-surprising news that federal tax revenues will be smaller this year than previously thought. After a review of the Obama budget’s numbers before formal submission to Congress, Budget Director Peter Orszag said this year’s deficit will be $1.841 trillion — $89 billion more than previously estimated. If you’re listening to the ticks of your watch, that’s about 570 centuries. [...]

570 centuries worth of seconds... dang. Such numbers, applied to currency and accounting balance sheets, are very scary indeed. And for good reason.

New Wolfram Alpha search engine is now online

It's... different! Try it out:

Wolfram Alpha computational knowledge engine

The sidebar on the right gives you some suggestions to try. Neat stuff.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Search Engine Evolution; What's coming next?

Are search engines becoming more "intelligent"? See for yourself:

New search engines aspire to supplement Google
(CNN) -- We may be coming upon a new era for the Internet search.

And, despite what you may think, Google is not the only player.

New search engines that are popping up across the Web strive to make searches faster, smarter, more personal and more visually interesting.

Some sites, like Twine and hakia, will try to personalize searches, separating out results you would find interesting, based on your Web use. Others, like Searchme, offer iTunes-like interfaces that let users shuffle through photos and images instead of the standard list of hyperlinks. Kosmix bundles information by type -- from Twitter, from Facebook, from blogs, from the government -- to make it easier to consume.

Wolfram Alpha, set to launch Monday, is more of an enormous calculator than a search: It crunches data to come up with query answers that may not exist online until you search for them. And sites like Twitter are trying to capitalize on the warp-speed pace of online news today by offering real-time searches of online chatter -- something Google's computers have yet to replicate. [...]

The article goes on about how Google has come to dominate web searches, capturing nearly 64% of all web searches. The article details how some newer search services are competing by offering things that Google can't, with some interesting examples.

The much-talked about Wolfram Alpha, or Alpha for short, harnesses massive computing power to answer users' questions, even if they're never been answered on the Web before.

"It's not a new Google. It's not supposed to be. It's a new thing. It's very complementary, in a way, to what search engines do," said Theodore Gray, co-founder of Wolfram Research, which created Alpha.

People need to get away from the idea that every 3-inch-long search bar online acts just like Google and Yahoo!, he said.

If you ask Google a question, the search engine's computers scan the Web for matching search terms and come up with answers that make the most sense statistically. Alpha, by contrast, pulls information from existing data sets that have been approved by the site's math-minded staff. The site then computes an answer to your question.

An example will help this make sense.

Say you wanted to find out nutritional information for your favorite recipe. On Google, you would have to search each ingredient individually and then add the calories and fat grams together yourself. With Alpha, you can type in the full recipe and the site produces a completed graphic that looks like it came right off the side of a cereal box. Read about a CNN test of 'Alpha'

Some search sites are trying to get better at understanding what their users want. [...]

The article gives more examples, it's worth reading the whole thing. A fascinating glimpse into the near future. Kewl.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Bored Shepherds Make High Tech Art

This looks like a kinda bizarre bit of fun:

We took to the hills of Wales armed to the teeth with sheep, LEDs and a camera, to create a huge amazing LED display. Of sorts. For more info search for samsung LED TV or visit

I assume it was boredom that led to this... hobby?

HT: Pat at

Monday, May 11, 2009

A New Eye In The Sky: Final Hubble Upgrade

PHOTO: Hubble Supercamera Takes Final "Pretty Picture"
May 11, 2009—In its final "pretty picture," the longest-running Hubble Space Telescope camera has snapped the remains of a giant red star (above), NASA announced on Monday.

The Wide Field Planetary Camera 2, which NASA hailed as a Supercamera in a statement released today, will be decommissioned during the final space shuttle Hubble-repair mission set to launch today.


More spectacular shots will undoubtedly follow with the camera's predecessor Wide Field Camera 3, to be installed in coming days.

The next-generation technology will build on Camera 2 with its ability to span the entire electromagnetic spectrum, from ultraviolet light to visible light that can be seen with the naked eye.

You can click here to see more about the mission of Atlantis. Cool stuff.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Farm Report: Egg Layer's Union makes trouble

Loafing union members, during a "work slow-down"

Last month I started the Monthly Egg Count for the Farm Report. But since then, we've had some "broody" unionists causing a work slow down at the Robin's Wood Egg Factory. Here is this months figures:

In April, we had 100 bantam eggs, and 85 pullet eggs, for a total of 185 eggs. That is 54 eggs LESS than last month. What could be the cause? I suspect it's the Egg Layers Union of Broody Hens.

When the hens get broody and start sitting on the eggs, they stop laying. We hatched out some chicks last month, so that would account for some of the drop. Also, I'm aware of at least one illegal renegade nest, in the wheel barrel behind the shed. I will have to do a raid on that today.

Of course the mommies expect maternity leave, with all expenses paid. And they get get it. Sometimes you just have to compromise with these unionists.

Fortunately we still have enough eggs for our own use, so we can't complain.

Total for the year so far: 573 eggs.

Last month, I posted a photo of our Dinosaur Food Plant, which looked like this:

Here it is this month:

It's getting to be Dinosaur-size pretty quickly.

End of Farm Report!

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

The "un-sexy" Truth About the Ammo Shortage

Forget the conspiracy theories, the facts are much more mundane:

Supply Chain Management 101: on the ammunition shortage.

The author points out that the same Supply Chain Management is used in food production, which is a scarier scenario. Yikes.

Related Links:

More Americans oppose gun control than ever

Where has all the ammo gone? Not even .22?

"American Thinker" explains Obamanomics

The Top Ten Reasons Obamanomics Won't Work
Short and easy to understand. Too bad the current Administration doesn't.

What happens when Inflation returns?

Inflation WILL return once the economy starts to recover, because we will also have massive debt and compounded interest to pay on it. We are facing an unsustainable situation.

Obama sows seeds of demise
[...] Right now, Obama’s ratings must be pleasing to his eye. Voters like him and his wife immensely and approve of his activism in the face of the economic crisis. While polls show big doubts about what he is doing, the overwhelming sense is to let him have his way and pray that it works.

But beneath this superficial support, Obama’s specific policies run afoul of the very deeply felt convictions of American voters. For example, the most recent Rasmussen Poll asked voters if they wanted an economic system of complete free enterprise or preferred more government involvement in managing the economy. By 77-19, they voted against a government role, up seven points from last month.


For Americans to conclude that they disapprove of their president in the midst of an earth-shaking crisis is very difficult. But as Obama’s daily line moves from “I inherited this mess” to “There are faint signs of light,” the clock starts ticking. If there is no recovery for the next six months — and I don’t think there will be — Obama will inevitably become part of the problem, not part of the solution.

And then will come his heavy lifting.
He has yet to raise taxes, regiment healthcare or provide amnesty for illegal immigrants. He hasn’t closed down the car companies he now runs and he has not yet forced a 50 percent hike in utility bills with his cap-and-trade legislation. These are all the goodies he has in store for us all.

Obama’s very activism these days arrogates to himself the blame for the success or failure of his policies. Their outcome will determine his outcome, and there is no way it will be positive.


• You can’t borrow as much as he will need to without raising interest rates that hurt the economy;

• The massive amount of spending will trigger runaway inflation once the economy starts to recover;

• His overhaul of the tax code (still in the planning phases) and his intervention in corporate management will create such business uncertainty that nobody will invest in anything until they see the lay of the land;

• His bank program is designed to help banks, but not to catalyze consumer lending. And his proposal for securitization of consumer loans won’t work and is just what got us into this situation. [...]

I think there are many on the hardcore Left who don't want to see the economy fixed; they would like to see capitalism, our consumer-driven economy, and the system of government that supports it, ruined, so they can replace it with something else.

Pat's been telling me that sounds to much like a conspiracy theory; that in reality they are just dumb Marxists who haven't got a clue what they are doing. That's quite possibly true. But either way, I think it's going to end the same; in a mess. Jimmy Carter Redux. Only this time, with trillions of dollars of debt and interest payments on that debt, which will ultimately mean... what?

Related Links:

The problem with the banks: illiquidity

Advice to the GOP: "Shut up and remain calm"

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Orion Spacecraft Changes; Budget Problems

In an earlier post, I looked at the plans for the new Orion spacecraft that is supposed to replace the shuttle and take us back to the moon. NASA was still trying to decide whether or not it would touch down on land or on water:

Re-entry Dilemmas; the Orion Capsule and SS2.

At the time, opinion seemed to be leaning toward land, because the spacecraft would then be re-usable, and would save a lot of money in the long run. So I was kind of shocked to see this recently:

NASA keeps Orion landing reassessment results secret
NASA's work to resolve its Orion crew exploration vehicle's (CEV) landing system mass problems is being prolonged as one key study's deadline has been extended by six months, pushed back from March to the CEV's third quarter preliminary design review.

On 16 November 2007 NASA changed the Orion's nominal landing from land to water because of the mass penalty of carrying the necessary airbag system to the Moon and back. But the agency also decided it needed an emergency land landing capability. [...]

I'm shocked because landing on land was supposed to mean reusable capsules, and big savings in the long run. Aren't those savings now voided by going back to ocean landings? Also, this change has caused budget over-runs. That, combined with the fact that the Bush Administration failed to deliver the funds that were promised, has now put the entire project behind schedule:

NASA could delay plan to land astronauts on moon
[...] NASA's internal plans had called for Ares V to go to the moon in 2018, though the agency had announced a public goal of 2020. Internal deadlines are used by NASA to keep programs on track and to provide a margin of error for developmental problems.

But because of growing budget woes, the agency is resetting its internal date to 2020. And privately, engineers say that means the public 2020 date to send humans back to the moon is in deepening trouble.


Former NASA administrator Mike Griffin in a speech last week blamed the White House -- especially the Bush administration. He said that money available for Ares V and other moon projects had dropped from roughly $4 billion through 2015 to just $500 million.

"This was to be allocated to early work on the Ares V heavy-lifter, and the Altair lunar lander," he told the National Space Club annual Goddard Memorial Dinner. "With only a half-billion dollars now available, this work cannot be done."


The 2020 lunar launch date is a policy objective set by President Bush in 2004 and recently reaffirmed in President Obama's 2010 budget proposal. It's part of what the Obama team in February called a new chapter of "robust human and robotic space exploration." [...]

President Obama is supporting the project so far, but as it continues to fall behind, it's not looking very hopefull. Read the rest of the article for the details.


Friday, May 01, 2009

Farm Report: "Heather has Two Mommies"

Last month the first chicks of the year began to hatch. I've been letting the chickens hatch eggs from Turendot, our Chinese Cochin hen, because I want a hybrid cross of her with the Bantams.

I nick-named the first chick "Heather", because she has TWO mommies. The Hen on the left is Turendot, her biological mother, and the hen on the right is the Bantam hen who hatched Heather.

Heather imprinted on the Bantam that hatched her, but also was attracted to Turendot; she would run excitedly back and forth between the two hens, taking turns napping under each one. Both hens started to treat her as their own, and shared the chick; hence the name "Heather" (from the controversial book).

But Turendot has since hatched two of her own eggs, and now there are three hybrid chicks. The third was hatched on Easter Day. Here are the three "Heathers" with their two mommies:

Maybe they aren't all Heathers. I'm hoping there is at least one Heathcliff in the batch. I'd like to have hybrid rooster; it would likely be larger than the Bantam roosters. The Bantams are too small to breed with our full size Barred Rock, Bluff Rock or Road Island Red hens.

Hawks have killed our big hens because they are slow and can't escape quickly. The Bantams can fly and escape quickly, but their eggs are too small to be useful for much. I'm thinking that if I can cross breed the two kinds, using the hybrid rooster as a kind of plumbing "step-up" to... "make the connection", the resulting birds would be medium sized, with some of the Bantam's speed and agility, but with bigger eggs. Anyhow, it's an experiment.

We have a fourth chick now, it was from a hybrid egg that I discovered that I had accidentally put in the refrigerator for a few weeks. Andy said it would not hatch out, but I put it under one of the Bantam hens anyway, to see what would happen (yes, another experiment). Well, it worked:

Eggs that have been refrigerated can indeed hatch. Whodathunkit?

The mommies and chicks have the run of the yard in the daytime, and I lock them up at night. They seem to get bigger every day. Now we just have to wait and see what the little thuglets turn out like as they mature.

Never a dull moment on the farm!