Saturday, December 21, 2013

Working Hard For A Living

(I know! A black women appearing on a white man's TV show in a maid outfit! How Uddery Racist!)

For just a little fun this week, I decided to see what dear leader had to tell us in his weekly radio address. Here's what I found.

First - the title of the address:

Working Together on Behalf of the American People

Hilarious! Especially since he is heading off for yet another taxpayer funded junket to Hawaii - a state that he was supposedly born in but was never domiciled in politically before he became president:
 On to the address:
Hi, everybody.  
Great. He's channeling that guy again:

He then goes on to talk about how great it was that he bamboozed the weak kneed Republicans to give him virtually everything he wanted in a budget. Here's what he had to say about the end of the sequester that was tying all the incumbents in knots:
This budget will unwind some of the damaging cuts that have threatened students and seniors and held back our businesses.  It clears the path for critical investments in the things that grow our economy and strengthen our middle class, like education and research. 
Here's a little memory test. What major portion of the sequester has crippled the US at a time when the world is teetering on chaos? Oh yeah - the defense cuts. Odd that he forgot them here, especially since he goes on to say:
And it will keep reducing our deficits – at a time when we’ve seen four years of the fastest deficit reduction since the end of World War II. 
World War II - that is such old news, except when comparing mythical deficit reduction and stuff like that.

He then went on to talk about getting his way with his political appointees:
 Members of Congress also voted to finally allow several dedicated and well-qualified public servants to do their jobs for the American people – many of whom waited months for a simple yes-or-no vote.  
Ha! I am so glad that Senator Obama is not here to hear this president say that. Here's what that guy thought about changing the senate rules that allowed mere men to resist the will the majority:
....everyone in this chamber knows that if the majority chooses to end the filibuster, if they choose to change the rules and put an end to democratic debate, then the fighting and the bitterness, and the gridlock will only get worse.
His next tidbit was about the unemployment payments to the vunerables:
Right now, because Congress failed to act before leaving on vacation, more than one million Americans are poised to lose a vital source of income just a few days after Christmas.  For many people who are still looking for work, unemployment insurance is a lifeline that can make the difference between temporary hardship or lasting catastrophe.  Instead of punishing these families who can least afford it – especially now – Congress should first restore that lifeline immediately, then put their entire focus on creating more good jobs that pay good wages.  
So what exactly is he talking about? People who have been periodically unemployed since he took office and started the recovery from the ravages on the economy the that the Hated Bush instituted have been drawing temporary payments until they can get another job. Unless congress once again extends the amount of time they can draw these payments, they will become destitute (but still draw disability, child tax credits, free health care, Obama phones, and food stamps). The current program allows non-workers to get checks for up to 99 weeks. Doing the math on that:

 99 weeks / 4 weeks a month / 12 months a year = 2 years

Two years unemployed. Think about that for a minute. Ouch!

Moving on, he then talks about focus:
That’s what I’ll be focused on next year, and every day I have the privilege of being your President.  Growing the economy.  Expanding opportunity. 
Because he has <sigh> had to focus on so many other things up to now (hint, hint Obamacare). Then he had go to say this at the end:
Have a great weekend and a very Merry Christmas.
How Dare He! Religion has no place in our government! Who is proof reading these things? The correct term to use Mr. President is Happy Holidays. Either that or be inclusive and wish us Happy Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzza, or Winter Solstice. Actually, since today is Winter Solstice that would have been more appropriate.

So, to all my Wiccan readers out there, and I know there are more than a few (who are actually not offended by a wish of Happy Christmas),

Happy Winter Solstice - now is the beginning of the new beginning!

Hero of the Week 12-21-13

The hero of the week is shared today by these two people:

(Mike Fitzpatrick - R, PA)

(Martha Roby - R, AL)

What did they do to deserve this honor? Well the Republican leadership struck a deal with the devil to avoid a shutdown and pass a budget that would allow all  the incumbents to avoid the drama of a government shutdown for years but keep the free government cheese flowing to the vulnerables. How did they work this magic? Perhaps they cut their own pensions and the pensions of their staff? Or maybe the cut the growth of the pensions for the civil employees? Nope - they cut the pensions of the retired military.

What these folks did was to introduce a bill that would restore those benefits and "pay" for it by closing a loophole in the "Child Tax Credit" that allows illegal aliens to get end of year payouts from the government. To understand what wonderful irony this bill is one has to understand what this "Child Tax Credit". When filling out our income tax, most of us deal with tax deductions. That is, activities or investments that either reduce the amount of our income that is taxed, or the amount of taxes we have to pay. The key element of this is that when our taxes reach 0, we are done - we don't have to pay. Tax Credits on the other hand go beyond this. When the taxes of the vunerables reach beyond 0, then the credit amount beyond that gets paid to them. This allows people who don't pay any tax or participate in revenue activity to get a lump payment from the US treasury at the end of they year (in addition to the unemployment, disability, and food stamps they get throughout the year). When viewed from a perspective of the people who actually pay taxes and make money  funding the government largess, it is naked wealth redistribution.

What makes the Child Tax Credit particularly insidious is that since the IRS does not check the citizenship of the tax filers, illegal aliens, and in fact any foreign entity with a US mailing address, can quite legally and legitimately participate in the program and get the end of year payola. With this bill, these two congressfolks highlighted this loophole and the despicable nature of funding the "deal" on the backs of veterans who gave their lives to our country with 20 years of dust, grit, bullets, and blood. While their modification to the bill has little chance of making it past Sub-Emperor Harry Reid's senate, hopefully it will twerk the few American voters that are still paying attention. For that they deserve the GAA Hero Of The Week Award.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Bye Bye Bernake

Yes I picked this clip because I liked the series, not because Bernanke has anything to do with Pappy Boyington - other than the allusion in the title..

"QE2? Wasn't that a big assed party boat?"

I admit, thinking through what QE2 does is hard, because to most of us it just doesn't make much sense. As a programmer, I generally find that if some complex operation doesn't make much sense, it generally is the root cause of a problem. I am thinking that we will find that QE2 (or 3, or 4) is probably the most caustic, damaging, thing that a government can do to a free and independent people.

So let's go down that rabbit hole and see what is going on. 'Quantitative Easing' (or QE) sounds pretty fancy but vague right? Like most made up government programs it could mean almost anything, from making sure that hammock manufacturer use an appropriate amount of squash products in their production to ensuring that all red headed women are advised of the dangers of traffic cones while navigating the barrios of LA. Well meaning, pointless exercises that mostly won't hurt anyone, right?

Well, not exactly. What is actually going on is this. The Fed notices that there are a great many companies and people borrowing money to keep things going. As the debt gets higher and higher, it gets harder and harder for those people to get more credit, keep buying things, and things keep going. The solution is for the Fed to step in and buy debt from the banks. Why that sounds just great, right? I mean the government prints the money, so its got lots of it. Buying debt, especially long term debt just makes that debt go away and the banks are free to loan out more money to people to buy things.

Not exactly. The one flaw in this is where does the Fed get the money to buy this debt? While they do literally print money, the amount of money in circulation is kinda encumbered by those silly elected people in Congress. So what's a Fed to do? Well, up to a point, they can issue new debt in the form of treasury bonds. Banks love those because they guarantee a return and, compared to the rest of the crazy market, are a fairly safe investment. So banks (and other foreign and domestic investors), gobble them up. Then the bastards in Congress get all snippy about not letting the public debt get too high, so the Fed has to buy that debt back. Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

As long as no one notices all this money moving in a circle this works beautifully. The stock market cheers, as they are getting the benefit of people buying things and things are wonderful in the short term: there are chickens in every pot or pot in every chicken; thank you Obamacare! Since the debt being bought back is not due for several years and is spread over trillions and trillions of dollars, following the money is hard. Common sense says at some point people are going to realize that no one is working anymore and no one has any real money. But, as Bernanke has demonstrated, the farther out you buy the debt, the longer you can play the game.

Here was my acid test on this. Bernanke insist that "There has been meaningful progress with the job market". Now let's think about that for a minute. The only reason that the job market looks good is the massive number of people that have 'given up' looking for a job and no longer counted as unemployed. As anyone looking for a job can tell you, from high tech gurus to general laborer, there are just not that many opportunities out there and most employers are reluctant to hire. This trend is not getting better. Bernanke is supposed to be an economic genius. To say that 'progress has been made in the job market' demonstrates his disingenuousness and makes the rest of his statements suspect. 

The wages of QE2 (and 3, and 4) are coming due, and I fear there is nothing that anyone can do to stop it. My greatest fear for the country and my family is that in 10 years we will look back on the 'Obama Years' as the good economic times that stole our future. Do you think i'm being over-dramatic? If you are over 30 years old, take a minute and think back to 1999. Were you economically happy and productive back then? How does that compare to where you are now? Now imagine that slide down continuing. It's not a pretty sight, is it?

Food for thought on the start of this lovely December day.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Hero of the Week 12-15-13

This week's Hero Of the Week award goes to the ever lovely Megyn Kelly for calling out the racist nonsense of trying to change the historical figures of Santa and Jesus from 'white' the 'black'. Yes, Jesus probably had a olive, not white skin, and Santa is based on the life of St Christopher, a Canaaite, which would put him in the same area, thus also with olive skin. Neither were probably a black African. The larger point, that skin color does not matter is lost on the humorless black racist, who want everything to be judged by color. By that measure, the growing polar ice caps are racist!

So, congratulations Megyn Kelly for refusing to bend to the black racist - you are the hero of the week!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Kayak Crap - Ignore this if you don't give a damn about kayak crap...

It's probably no secret here I am a novice kayaker. To qualify that a bit, I do mostly flat water kayaking, in season, and have been doing it for a couple of years. I do own a spray skirt but have never used it and have never rolled my kayak.

I got to thinking about doing cold weather kayaking so I did a little research on what type of gear I would need to do this safely. The proper wear for cold weather garb falls into two categories. There is your basic wet suit and something called a dry suit. While a wet suit can be had for around $100, a dry suit starts at about $400.

Now being a cheap bastard, I was leaning towards the wet suit. However, since making the wrong decision could lead to a certain icy death, I thought i'd turn to a co-worker who is a certified dive instructor and has spent many hours in cold water teaching idiots how to deal with the briny deep. Here is his response, which I believe is the best scientific discussion of cold weather gear for kayaking that I have ever read.


Really tough question to answer without knowing more info. What kind of kayaking do you do. What temp do you do it in? 60 water? 40deg water? Freezing conditions like now?

You lose heat in several ways. I'm going to simplify this from true thermodynamics, so we'll consider two ways. Think of a cool day outside wearing no shirt. Your body warms the air directly next to your body. If the wind is blowing, that warm air gets blown away quickly, so your body has to reheat the air. This makes you cold. If the air is still, your body is more comfortable. But then the air transfers heat to the surrounding air, and things cool off. That is the thermal conductivity of air. The cooler the outside air, the cooler you will feel.

A windbreaker helps by stopping then wind. It doesn't do much for the thermal conductivity of air, but it stops the wind from blowing the warm air way. A coarse wool sweater may not stop the wind as much, but it helps with the second way, providing insulation so that the thermal conductivity is much better. The best is a windbreaker over a wool sweater. The wind is stopped with the windbreaker, and the sweater helps the thermal conductivity.

With water, everything is sped up. It pulls the heat away so much faster.

With a wet suit, you will get water next to your skin. So there is some "wind" that gets through the "windbreaker". However, it slows the water movement, and keeps the now warmer water next to you, so you stay warmer. The thickness of the wet suit slows the thermal conductivity.

A dry suit keeps all water away from your body. So you don't get wet. Also, the outside of the suit is usually a lot "slicker" so it doesn't hold a lot of extra water for evaporative cooling. Much better all around.

But here's the rub with a wet suit. When diving, your wet suit gets soaked. But your ok. The water temp is similar around you. But then you get out. The evaporative cooling pulls the heat away from your body really fast. I have been diving in a 7mm suit in 40deg water. I'm cold, but not too bad. I get out of the water into a 60deg air temp with a faint breeze. I'm suddenly very cold. Much colder then in the water. I would often keep students in the water when teaching to avoid that. You can limit the evaporative cooling with a windbreaker over the wet-suit, but it still cools you down.

Now, for a couple of specifics for kayaking.

You're not usually submerged. So you may not get that layer of water next to your skin. That will help a lot. You may get splashed, (a lot maybe), so you will get some cooling. However, you can put jackets and such over the wet-suit for thermal protection. The also helps with kayaking in variable weather. You can adjust your jackets and such for controlling your temp. If warm, shed a layer, if cool, add.

It all goes out the window if you go under, or drenched from the water.. Your jackets get soaked, and unless they are wool or a smart layer, you loose all thermal protection from your jackets. Your wet suit will protect you from the sudden burst of water and will help keep you warm (especially with a wind-breaker helping keep the wind from helping to evaporate water from your wet-suit.)

With a dry-suit. If you go under or soaked, you don't care. You won't get wet. Your thermals are all inside, so they stay dry. Much better. However, you have a harder time to shed layers or deal with getting too hot or cold. You can't easily add/remove layers. And if you open the dry-suit to change thermals, you really have to be careful not to fall in.

From my experience with kayaking, here would be my recommendations...
  • If you are doing casual kayaking, little to no whitewater, generally very stable in the water, and you are in 60deg water or spring/fall conditions, go with the wet-suit. Throw some fleece on as needed to compensate. If you go in the water, take a couple of minutes to towel off and such.

  • If you are doing more extreme kayaking, lots of whitewater, or really cold temps like now, you go into the water a lot, or get drenched regularly go with the dry-suit. Bring some layers, but pull off to the side and get stable before cracking that dry-suit to change clothes.

Texas On My Mind

This is how my mind saw this ad from Drudge this morning:

I either either need a beer or a trip down south, or both...

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Hero of the Week 12-08-13

There just weren't many actual people that distinguished themselves this week as heroes (or I wasn't paying attention), so I decided to pick an inanimate object and of course the people who made it possible - Say hello to my little friend - the JDAM is this week's hero.

I remember working on the B1 simulators when the JDAM first came out (or were being adapted for use with the B1). JDAM, short for Joint Direct Attack Munition is not a bomb, but an adapter or 'tail kit' that is placed on a conventional bomb to give it the ability to 'fly' to a target. Each bomb can then be programmed to target an individual coordinate. With the advent of the JDAM, carpet bombing became a thing of the past. When you combine this awesome capability with the load capacity of the B1 to drop 24 GBU-31's on individual targets simultaneously, dynamically settable by the B1 crew en-route to a safe drop point rain or shine or dark of night and automatically, you bring a whole new meaning to the term 'shock and awe'. The JDAM, the B1 and B-52 crews that deploy them, and the guys and girls at Lockheed (or is it Boeing?) that build them. They are the Heroes of the Week. Watch the above video and be amazed.

Finally, if you come across a person or thing that you think deserves the 'Hero of the Week' award, by all means, use that 'email me' button over to the right to give me a head's up. I am always on the lookout for a hero who may be otherwise overlooked.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Comeback Humor

Just a little comeback humor:

I know, right? It's like Romulans

landing on the planet Tatoonie,

fighting off Daleks,

and buying a souvenir One Ring from Gollum
Who the hell are you and what have you done with my universe?