May 6th, 2012

#3346: Sunday morning, and I need to go cut the grass.

Right after church I came home, grabbed the gas can, drove to the gas station, filled the can, and came home.

Then I fed the cats and myself.

The grocery store--which stopped selling the brand of bagels I liked best, because they were big and pre-sliced--has started selling a store brand of bagels, the same size, pre-sliced...and between $0.50 and $1 cheaper than the old ones. My only complaint is that their "everything" bagels aren't as much "everything" as the old ones were.

But I just had one--with ham and cheese--and it tasted fine, so WTF.

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This post by Michael Flynn on the nature of science is quite interesting.

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Product for hikers and backpackers outlawed because its components can be used for making meth.


Iodine--iodine!--is now a controlled substance because--sing along, folks!--it's used for making methamphetamine.

How f-ing ridiculous are things going to get before we rise up and put these assholes in their place? This is ludicrous. Iodine is convenient because it's not a gas at room temperature, but I'm sure some cleverdick is trying to work out a way to use chlorine instead of iodine since they're both halogens and occupy the same column of the periodic table--and you can buy bleach for a pittance.

...and DEA will then make bleach a controlled substance because Meth Is Illegal And We Must Stop People From Making It.

Prohibition does not work. Okay? It does not work and all we're doing is giving up too much of our basic freedoms in order to continue a failed policy.

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(Incidentally, this is a very nice interactive periodic table.</a>)

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Karl Denninger has a good post up about states relying on tobacco money.

Here's the thing: government at various levels collects a lot of money from the sale of tobacco, and the taxes are periodically raised for a variety of reasons.

One reason: Smoking Is Bad For You And You're Too Stupid And Addicted To Quit By Yourself, so states impose ever-higher taxes as a way of trying to force people to quit. Any activity government wishes to reduce it taxes; any activity it wishes to promote it subsidizes.

(Fools, Democrats, and liberals--but I repeat myself--ignore this willy-nilly. They expect rapid economic development to continue even after raising taxes on it, then are dumbfounded when tax revenues decline. Yet in the same breath they'll expound on the benefits of putting confiscatory taxes on ammunition in order to discourage "gun violence".)

The other reason: the continuous hammering of the "SMOKING WILL KILL YOU IN A GRUESOME AND PAINFUL FASHION" message is also contributing to the decline in smokers, which causes tax revenues from tobacco to decline...and the state, having gotten used to all that lovely smoker money, can't possibly do without it, so they raise taxes on the remainder in order to recoup the loss of revenue.

...thus, of course, driving more people away from smoking, etc, etc.

Then we come to that huge tobacco settlement that was reached some years ago, where the tobacco companies agreed to pay out billions of dollars to states in order to...uh...hurm, well, medicare something, hospital thingies, anti-smoking campaigns, and...stuff. Yeah.

Naturally it wasn't a lump sum; that was impossible--so the involved states then had a guaranteed income stream for a certian number of years, based on the sales of tobacco products and such. So some of them issued bonds against that income.

But there's a problem: tobacco sales are declining thanks to a) high taxes; b) anti-smoking campaigns; and c) continuous erosion of the smoking public due to "B" and "A". Yet everything they've done with these bonds and the money raised from selling them is predicated on the number of smokers increasing rather than decreasing.

Yet, given the laws and higher taxes which are designed to limit and/or punish tobacco use, it's kind of diffcult to see how anyone with half a brain could avoid realizing that tobacco use is going to decline. That if government is so dependent on revenue from tobacco sales it should be encouraging tobacco use rather than discouraging it.

(Of course no government can endorse the use of tobacco. That's just crazy talk. After all, government isn't supposed to endorse harmful things.)

And so, suddenly, the states have more debt than they do income from their cut of the protection money they extorted from the tobacco companies with the help of the judicial system.

This really is exactly the same sort of deal as the failing pension funds problem. The pension funds are underfunded because the people adminstering them are by far and away too optimistic in their projections of "rate of return" on their investments.

So the combination of a) relying on tobacco sales for revenue, and b) doing its damnedest to discourage tobacco use has led us to an impasse. But I have a solution:

If things get desperate enough, I expect something like that to start coming from our government. WTF, that's the policy that's in place now; this sort of campaign would just make it official.

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Man, it's such a nice day. If only I had something that needed doing outside....

#3347: "20% chance of rain", eh?

Expecting the weatherman to be right is like expecting a $50 car to be reliable, or Sailor V to get anywhere on time. But it's also kind of funny when you have access to the weather radar so you can see if anything is coming.

After I finished this morning's post, I went out to start cutting the grass, and saw the sky to the west looking all ominous and grey. So I came back in, checked the weather radar, and went back outside to cut the grass.

As a safety measure I cut the front yard first; then went out back and cut the east-most half of the East 40. I then worked my way west: the western half of the East 40, then the back yard.

Western sky: still ominous. Still no rain, though, so I got out the pusher and did the parts I can't get the tractor into.

Finished, put everything away, congratulated myself; and about half an hour later, it rained. Whee!

In fact, the sky overhead got dark and rain began falling about the time I was going to work on making a pot of goulash. Green peppers were on sale ($0.99 per pound) so I grabbed a trio of them; but I'd forgotten to pick up a loaf of Ginzo bread. I mulled making some bread in the bread machine, but with the weather going on--well, if the power cut out, the bread would be ruined. (The goulash, I could just dump that into the dutch oven and throw it on the grill or something if the power stayed off too long; even if the juice was down for ten minutes it wouldn't really matter. But the bread machine is computerized and will forget what it was doing if the power goes off for a couple seconds.)

So I thought, "Well, I can ride the motorcycle to Walt's for Ginzo bread, can't I? And if the roads are wet I'll just take the truck. Who cares?"

Fast-forward a couple hours--the roads were pretty well dry. I sauteed the green peppers and put them in the goulash, then kitted up and got on the bike.

I actually took the long way 'round: I went west on Exchange to Stuenkel, further west to the RaceCo gas station, where I tanked up. Then I went south on 50 to Pauling, east on Pauling to I394, and then north on 394 to Exchange. 65 miles an hour.

That's the fastest I've gone on a motorcycle. On a previous ride I'd thought about getting on I-57 for a stretch but that's a 65 MPH zone and I didn't fancy riding at 65 my first time with a shitton of asshats around me.

Once I was comfortable, I rolled on more power and got the engine running at 6,000 RPM, which is approaching 70 MPH on that bike. The engine is screaming like a banshee at that point, but not an unhappy banshee. It actually sounded kind of content: Ah, a chance to stretch my legs! And that's still 3,000 RPM short of its redline. Shit.

But throughout this trip (except when I was eastbound, which made it impossible) I kept looking at the ominous darkening of the western sky. I'd checked the radar before leaving, and it showed no approaching storms, but those clouds....

Well, got to Walt's without getting wet, went inside and got my bread...and got behind this fucking RETARD on the way home who was going 35 in a 50 zone. WTF.

Despite his best efforts, though, I got home without getting rained on. Not that it would have been all that big a deal; I was thinking, "Well, if it rains, guess what? I'll get wet! ZOMGWTFBBQ!!!" I mean, it's not like I'd melt. But it would mean having to polish the bike again once it had dried off. (Stupid water spots.)

...but I got home and got the bike in the garage, and so forth--and it has not yet begun to rain, though it's about to.

And the goulash smells delicious. I'm going to feed in just a little while....