July 19th, 2010

#2173: A stopped clock is right twice per day.

Nothing proves that adage more than this bit on Biden saying that only the fringe whackos in the TEA parties are racists.

This puts Biden one up on Obama.

* * *

Econazi complains about air conditioning. I wonder if this guy runs the AC at his house and in his car? Or does he do without?

* * *

This story confuses me: People switching to wine capped with metal or plastic screw caps is endangering the forests from where cork is harvested.

Wait...what?
Cork suppliers and environmentalists are fighting back claiming the move is threatening the two million hectares of forest across Portugal, Spain, North Africa and Italy which are sustained through industry management.
Oh, I get it: the entire cork industry is at risk because sensible people no longer care if their wine is sealed with a cork or a cap, so we have to make a huge eco-catastrophe out of it in order to force people to use cork.

*sigh*

* * *

What's the difference between a BMW owner and a cactus? With a BMW, the pricks are on the inside.

This guy keeps his 535i--bought used--parked in a garage and has put all of 6000 miles on it since buying it in November, and is complaining that his battery keeps going dead. He wants BMW to replace the battery.

BMW has found nothing wrong with the car; the guy doesn't drive far enough to recharge the battery. Apparently this is a common problem for the 535i. The dealer gave the guy a battery charger as a goodwill gesture.

You know what? I can leave my Escort sitting in my driveway for months and not have to charge the battery before starting it.

Here's what I think:

1) Douchebag bought a used car. It may be "certified" by BMW and come with a warranty, but it's still a used car, and most car warranties don't cover wear components. Sorry to say but batteries do wear out and are therefore considered "consumable" like filters, lubricants, brake pads, wipers, etc. The battery being crappy is therefore his problem, not BMW's.

2) BMW's problem is designing a freaking car that can't recharge its battery quickly. The battery going dead because the car's driven less than 10 miles at a time is utterly inexcusable.

* * *

UNPOSSIBLE! Obama said we're in a recovery! Now the Fed is saying that recovery from the recession could take "six years".

Truth of the matter: there is no recovery and we're still in the recession.
Goldman Sachs said it expects the euro to rise to $1.35 by the end of the year. The yen will appreciate to ¥83, through the pain barrier for most of Japan's big exporters. The new twist is that SAFE, China's $2.4 trillion fund, has begun buying record amounts of Japanese bonds, a shift in reserve allocation away from the dollar.

The signs of a deep and sudden slowdown in the US are becoming ever clearer as the "sugar rush" from the Obama fiscal stimulus wears off and the inventory boost fades. California, Illinois and other states are cutting spending, tightening US fiscal policy by 0.8pc of GDP.

Thursday's plunge in the Philadelphia Fed's July index of new manufacturing orders to –4.3 suggests that the economy may have buckled abruptly, as it did in mid-2008. The Economic Cycle Research Institute's ECRI leading indicator has tumbled, reaching –8.3pc last week. This points to a sharp slowdown or recession within three months.

While US port data looked buoyant in June, the details were troubling. Outbound traffic from Long Beach fell from 139,000 containers in May to 116,000 in June. Shipments from Los Angeles fell from 161,000 to 155,000. This drop in exports is worsening the US trade deficit, eroding the dollar.

The US workforce has shrunk by a 1m over the past two months as discouraged jobless give up the hunt. Retail sales have fallen for the past two months. New homes sales crashed to 300,000 in May after tax credits ran out, the lowest since records began in 1963. Mortgage applications have fallen by 42pc to 13-year low since April. Paul Dales at Capital Economics said the "shadow inventory" of unsold properties has risen to 7.8m. "The double dip in housing has begun," he said.
Not too long ago we were being told that a double dip was "impossible" and that everything was perfectly rosy.

Guess what.

* * *

Pixy embeds a YouTube video of the OP of an obscure anime series called Maicching Machiko-sensei.

There is brief cartoon nudity in that video. If you're at work or around psychopaths who think that any nudity is evil and degrading to women and makes them worry you're gonna unzip and rub one out right there at the computer because you're a porn addict and can't help yourself and you should be fired and sent to jail and get psychotherapy and be put in the sexual predator registry and be drugged into a stupor, then don't watch it. I don't want to be responsible for someone ruining your life because you were caught getting an eyeful of cartoon boobies via the Internet. (U perv.)

#2175: We'll see what happens next.

I sent the following letter to the Record-Monitor, the weekly local newspaper. It'll be interesting to see what they do with it:
Dear Editor:

I'm writing in order to warn my fellow citizens of Crete that apparently we no longer have freedom of movement.

Background: my most severe legal conviction is a speeding ticket from 1996. I drive an unmodified white SUV in good repair with full insurance and current registration. I drive the speed limit and come to a full stop for stop signs. I'm a mild 43-year old man, a little overweight, a lot nearsighted, kind of fuzzy; I wear thick glasses and I'm about as threatening as a box of Q-tips.

On Saturday, July 17, around 11 PM, I--after an evening of reading at home--decided I wanted a late-night snack, so I went to the McDonald's on Steger Road for some chicken McNuggets. It's not a healthy snack, but I'd hadn't eaten lunch and dinner had been light, and as an inveterate night owl I expected to be awake for several more hours anyway.

After leaving the drive-through, I drove south on Eagle's Nest Drive towards Richton Road and saw lightning far to the south. I was delighted; I enjoy watching storms from a distance, and I very rarely get to watch heat lightning on a summer night, so instead of turning on Richton as I normally would I (after stopping for the stop sign) went straight. There had been a car behind me for much of the trip from McDonald's to that point.

I crossed the road and drove to the end, putting my vehicle in park and turning the headlights off but leaving the engine and parking lights on. The car that had been behind me followed me, pulled up behind me partly blocking the road; and when the spotlight went on I realized it was a police car.

The officer--I'll call him "A"--greeted me and asked me what I was doing. I told him I was there to watch the thunderstorm. He asked for my driver's license, which I handed to him. He returned to his car; and while he was gone two other police cars pulled up behind me, all forward lights on, blocking the road behind me. Realizing this was probably going to take a while, I shut off my parking lights and my engine.

When he returned, another officer, "B", came up alongside the passenger side of my vehicle without announcing his presence, looking inside with a flashlight. He then took up station by the passenger door of my vehicle. I felt threatened by his sudden and unannounced presence there.

"A" then told me that by coming to the end of this street, parking, and shutting off my headlights, I was behaving in a suspicious fashion, because of the proximity of a closed business, and that such an investigation was routine. I wished to know what reason he had other than my location for suspecting I was about to commit a crime; he repeated his prior statement about me being "a suspicious vehicle near a closed business" and reiterated that such an investigation was routine. "A" then added something like, "When someone reports a suspicious vehicle all blacked out parked somewhere we have the right to investigate, and I can guarantee if there was a suspicious vehicle parked on your street all blacked out, you'd want me to investigate."

(Please note that "A" had followed me from McDonald's to this point and had seen me stop.)

I asked why it took three police officers to "investigate" me. "A" got testy, and explained that he worked for three different departments and had been shot at from "suspicious vehicles"; multiple backup was something which was always done when investigating a suspicious vehicle and those other cars had been on the way, he told me, before he stopped me. (He had not stopped me; he followed me.) But the only reason he could give me for my being a "suspicious vehicle" was that I had driven to the end of a public side street "near a closed business". I hadn't set so much as a foot on any private property, much less that belonging to the "closed business", since leaving McDonald's.

"B" had remained by my passenger door. Being surrounded by police for no good reason I could discern, I expressed my concern that my Constitutional rights were possibly being violated. This obviously made "B" angry, because he spoke up then: he asked in an angry and intimidating tone, "Have we pulled you out of your car?" I had to say "no". "Have we beaten you?" The answer was also "no". I was now upset enough that I could not articulate my explanation for why I felt the way I did, but I could not understand how my driving to the end of a public dead-end street to watch a thunderstorm resulted in my being intimidated and treated like a criminal.

Finally I collected myself enough to ask what law I had broken to deserve all this attention. "B" stated belligerently that I was illegally parked.

"Is this a 'no parking' zone?" I asked.

"You're parked more than one foot from the curb," "B" told me, still angry.

"A" told me that he was going to issue a parking ticket to justify the time it was taking them to deal with me. He returned to his car to get his ticket book. I heard some discussion, indistinct, between "A" and "B"; then "A" returned to my window with his ticket book and "B" returned to the passenger side.

"A" informed me that he would give me one more chance to "avoid a $200 ticket" by leaving the area "as requested". He asked me if I was going to leave "as requested", or was he going to write me a ticket for illegal parking?

I told him, "None of you has asked me to leave." In fact, this moment was the first time anyone told me I could not stay there, and I am at a loss to understand what basis these officers had for making me leave, as it is a public street and there is no signage designating the street as off-limits to anyone who wishes to use it. The west side of that section of Eagle's Nest Drive is not zoned as a "no parking" zone; at least, there is no signage declaring such. I can only conclude that because I had dared to question them, they were making me move to prove they were in charge, asserting their authority.

"A" asked me to leave the area, and I said I would; I started my vehicle, and prepared to leave. "B" remained in position until I had turned around even though "A" had returned to his cruiser. I drove home without further incident.

I don't mind cooperating with the police and I don't mind giving my license to a cop when he asks for it. I don't even mind having two other police cars show up. All right? I get that "probable cause" extends to him running my driver's license to see if I have priors or warrants; I can even see it extending to "B" looking through the windows of my truck. Okay: someone wanting to watch a thunderstorm is unusual, and I don't blame the guy for checking it out.

But that was where this encounter should have ended: once he saw that there were no outstanding warrants for my arrest, once he'd run my license, that should have been the end of it. It should have ended with, "All right, sir, have a good evening." Not with the command that I either move or get a farcical parking ticket. I was breaking no laws in any fashion which would lead any court to regard these events as "reasonable and proper" and I have no record of prior convictions for anything more serious than a traffic ticket. After he ran my license and it came back clean he had nothing whatsoever to support "reasonable suspicion" or "probable cause". ("Parked more than one foot from the curb"? At the dead end of a public side street?)

Not to mention, I might add, the expense of having three police cruisers tied up for half an hour in order to threaten a law-abiding citizen with a parking ticket. On a Saturday night. For parking more than a foot from the curb at the end of a dead-end side street. This is why Crete has some of the highest property taxes in the area? For THIS? This had nothing to do crime prevention; it was all about police officers asserting their authority because I'd had the temerity to ask "why?" The intimidation tactics--particularly those used by "B"--were completely misplaced and, in my opinion, unprofessional. Certainly I think Crete could do a better job of selecting officers.

So be warned, citizens of Crete: be careful where you go after dark--particularly if you're going to do something as heinous as enjoying a natural spectacle--because the Crete Police are watching you.

Edward Hering
Of course some of the text came from here, and some of it came from the dry description I wrote in order to document the incident as fully as possible, but most of it is new text.

Prediction: assuming it gets printed, there might be a rebuttal written by the Chief of Police defending his officers. That'll be interesting to see, assuming it happens, because it probably won't. I doubt that anyone in charge will even notice this. But without names and badge numbers, there isn't much I can do.

Lesson learned: always always always get freakin' names and badge numbers. *sigh*

#2176: Jeeze-louise I hope I don't have to post again today.

I mean, it's 4 AM as I start this and I've already got three posts up. WTF.

* * *

Sunday I was too upset to be sleepy, so I ended up watching 2x everything on the playlist:
To Aru Majutsu no Index 2-3
B Gata H Kei 8-9
Puchi Puri Yuushi 16-17
Kimi ni Todoke 17-18
K-ON!! 10-11
In order:

Index is really good. It may be better than Railgun was but I won't know that until I've got more eps under my belt. The main character, Touma, is a pretty smart guy and capable (the way he takes out the first magic user he encounters is a perfect example) and makes a good sympathetic leading man.

I also like how the OP is very similar to the first OP from Railgun, only with the elements containing both characters being seen from Touma's viewpoint instead of Mikoto's. That's cool.

B Gata is moving on towards its end, and it looks like Yamada is beginning to figure out how she feels about Kosuda. Considering the title is "B-cup Slut" in English this is a surprisingly non-H show (though there's lots of good fan service) and the plot is excellent.

Yuushi's OP theme song is stuck in my head. Like Steven Den Beste I am beginning to like Glenda more than the other characters. Of them all, so far, Glenda has actually grown the most; she now only makes token jibes at Yucie's apparently lack of maturity ("You're just a kid!" though Glenda is the same age and in the same condition as Yucie) and has become Yucie's fast friend, just like Coocooloo and Elmina.

Ep 17 of KnT was good; ep 18 was fantastic. My cheeks hurt from smiling while watching it, I enjoyed it so much. The story, the animation, the backgrounds, everything. Awesome.

K-ON!! ep 10 centered on Sawa-chan-sensei, and I really liked it. I love it when Sawa-chan shows her metal side, either accidentally or purposefully. Ep 11 was light and amusing but not as good as 10 was.

* * *

...after four hours of anime, though, I had finally calmed down enough that a Xanax would knock me cold, so I did my usual pre-sleep ablutions and went to bed. I slept like a load of lumber, too; I woke up in the early evening long enough to hit the can, but fell asleep again after returning to bed. I didn't even eat anything; if I can sleep when hungry, I need the sleep.

But when I finally woke up for good I needed food, and I went to McDonald's for a Big Mac meal. WTF, I hadn't eaten anything since around 1 PM (and that had been a PBJ). I made sure to drive the Escort since the Jeep is obviously such a gangsta hoopty that it just screams "THIS VEHICLE CONTAINS VIOLENT CRIMINALS!!!!!1111one-one" I don't know if it's the (stock) 15-inch steelies or the aftermarket stereo (which I rarely even turn on) which gives people this impression. Maybe I should put a little yellow rectangle in the back window that says "NO GANGSTAS ON BOARD" or something.

Oh, wait! I know what it is! It's the (factory stock) 2% window tinting which makes me seem like a dangerous violent evil criminal who's out to rob all the closed businesses he drives past! That's what does it!

...I checked out Eagle's Nest Drive, the location of last night's festivities, and noted that there are indeed no signs prohibiting after-hours access to that road. There aren't any "no parking" signs, at least not on the west side.

Got my Big Mac and returned home without incident; then ate my Big Mac and worked on my letter to the editor. Now, this; and when it's done, bed again, because I'm still feeling kind of whipped and Mom and I have errands today, tomorrow, and Friday.

Besides, my eBook reader is supposed to ship tomorrow! Hoody hoo!

* * *

It's been hot enough, and consistently enough, that I now have to turn the thermostat down to get my room to cool off. The rest of the house is perfectly comfortable at about 75°, but my room alone is running 80°. I have to turn the thermostat down two degrees to get my room to cool off; then the AC runs forever, just about, and the rest of the house becomes an ice box.

Mom, being 83 and thin, wears long pants and a freakin' sweater, while I run around in jogging shorts and no shirt. *sigh*

Pity there's no way to mount my window AC in the new windows without screwing something up. If I could do that, we could set the thermostat so that the rest of the house was comfortable for Mom (it could be 90 for all I care) and it'd be nice and cool in my room. AND it would actually cost less, electricity-wise, to do that.

I keep thinking about one of those freestanding units, but they're expensive (on the order of $300) and I don't know if we'd save enough on electricity to make it worthwhile. Maybe if they go on sale....

I recall that last year it wasn't this bad, but we didn't have such a long run of hot days last year, either. It's a warmer summer this time. The dewpoint when I went to bed Sunday afternoon was seventy-eight freaking degrees. Jesus. When it's that high you can slice the air and make sandwiches from it.

* * *

Snigs takes on Twilight. Snigs is awesome.

(I assume the name is "Snigs". I could be wrong, but the title is "Snigs' Spot" and you only put the apostrophe at the end when the word ends with an S. Then again, I am an apostrophe nazi.)

* * *

Saturday morning I had to assemble the trellis for the pepper plants. The upside of all this heat and humidity is that the pepper plants have basically exploded; they grew and sprouted buds which have grown into peppers, and there are more on the way. They're only going to get bigger, so we need someplace to drape them as they do. The planter thing Mom bought for the pepper plants has an optional lattice made of metal rods and plastic connectors, and it took me perhaps 10 minutes to assemble it.

Of the dozen plants she started from seeds, two are flourishing. That's how it goes.

What I have not done in the past week is cut the grass. It's overdue, but damn is it hot outside. Tuesday looks to have the lowest high temp in two or three weeks (83) so I think I'll shoot for Tuesday evening, after Mom's doc appointment.

* * *

We have a couple of catnip plants growing behind the garage. When I think of it, I bring in a couple leaves for my cats. Now they expect it whenever I come in through the back door. *sigh*

#2177: What is this, five posts now?

Man, it's been a busy day.

1) All the bloggeratin'
2) Cut the grass
3) Moved the stuff back to the basement now that the carpet's dry
4) Ran errands

I have a headache and I want a shower, but I decided to bloggerate one more time today before I hit the shower and the sack.

* * *

Alan Caruba laments the world's complete inaction on Iran's nuclear aspirations.

Back up your critical data to optical media.

* * *

I said that ObamaCare represented the single largest tax increase in American history, bar none. And guess what? I was right!

People on the other side of the aisle are realizing that nothing about this law which was promised is true: choices will be limited; care will be rationed; premiums will be high; and the government will set standards of care.

* * *

Raising taxes won't fix America's debt problem. Not when the Regime is spending $1.50 for each dollar of revenue and trying to increase spending even further.

Salient quote: "... in order to pay for all currently scheduled federal spending would require raising both the corporate tax rate and top income tax rate from their current 35% to 88%, the current 25% tax rate for middle-income workers to 63%, and the 10% tax bracket for low-income workers to 25%."

Imagine you make $1,000,000 per year and you do nothing to shelter any of it. In that case, you pay $350,000 in taxes. At the higher rate, you'd pay $880,000 in taxes and keep only $120,000.

Who's going to work his ass off to earn $1 million a year only to have the government take nearly 90% of it? Would you?

Somehow I doubt it. I would not. I would seek an income level which maximized my income that did not involve working mainly for the benefit of the federal government.

* * *

I really want to see this version of Batman Begins, damn it.