Friday, 22 August 2014

TIme for a little R & R --- Romney and Ryan sounds about right.

The US wants a break from foreign policy chaos and declines in jobs and net worth at home.  A little R & R after Obama sounds just right.   Ryan has a whiff of Tea Party and Matt has the "nil obstat" blessing of the GOP.  I think the American voters will find it easy to sign up for four years of R&R.

Ryan: I'd drive Romney's bus in 2016  (The Hill)

Plan B can be the best case: Pray for winners in the opposition parties.

Polling shows  Conservatives above 70% and below 15% depending which year and community you track.  Voters move but PC leaders and policy hardly budges.  The rightness of your cause does not settle the matter.  If you are lucky, you will be faced with second best in Ottawa. Third or fourth will sometimes be PM.  Pray that the wrong-headed, goofy parties will select the best candidates available, just in case.   You don't want to end up with an Obama.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Obama abdicates?

I still think the American president may abdicate, if he can just find a Very Important Reason, like the UN needs him and the US doesn't deserve Obama any more.  He's looking for the right narrative.  The press is awash in bizarre, sometimes funny, headlines about his disengagement.  If he's like Canada's former defense minister, Hellyer, he can claim aliens are what's about to happen and then offer be our bridge to the star people.

As world chaos continues,l Obama quietly retreats to Martha's Vineyard. (Breitbart)
The Obama tee party:  A weak president hurts everyone, including the Democrats  (WashingtonTimes)

Sunday, 10 August 2014

His and Hers: Word counts from Facebook show big sex differences

Men and women differ.
The study analyzed seven hundred million words and did follow ups with 75,000 volunteers.
It's quoted here  in the Atlantic along with an interesting discussion of when men say "uh" and women say "um".

Friday, 1 August 2014

Justice should be cheap

Or at least not so damned expensive.  Violence is favoured over justice when risk and reward favour the crook.  The Pickton investigation and trial cost $104 million dollars, not counting $1.8 million to upgrade a building he was held in.  Vigilante justice is a poor alternative but one official bullet  not long after the backhoes turned up DNA traces of over thirty women in the mud of Pickton's farm sounds about right.  No bullet?  Then have a hearing with forensic psychiatrists and get him off the streets into a fenced facility.

There's always some uncertainty in cases.  How high does the standard of proof have to be? When you drive down the highway, you make life and death decisions based on best guesses. If you need absolute proof that someone is going to brake or change lanes or whip around you, you should sell the car and get off the road.

Since execution is off the table in Canada, we are talking in these high profile cases about how many years the accused should be kept off the streets.   I would rather they had locked Mr. Pickton up in a jolly old summer camp with three squares and a beach, than have over a hundred million of our earned dollars lavished on the legal system.

There will be errors but not additional deaths.  A hundred million dollars could have been redirected in BC to reduce traffic deaths, make downtown Eastside safer, improve health outcomes and bribe Indian chiefs to accept big monthly rent cheques for pipeline rights-of-way.

At bottom, the cost-benefit ratio for doing the crime should be lower than the cost-benefit ratio for investigating the crime, holding a trial, sentencing and detention.  Otherwise the violent win. As the saying goes, "Justice delayed is justice denied".

There are principled arguments against my position. Nonetheless, I am arguing that we must move the balance point between what we let people get away with and how much public money we spend to stop them.  Taxpayers will be better served and violators will get a "short sharp shock" of some sort in a timely fashion.

Thursday, 31 July 2014

When Enemies don't care what America thinks

The deputy prime minister of Russia twittered his mockery of the American POTUS today, comparing Putin with a leopard to Obama with a cuddly poodly thing.  When heads of state can't be bothered to make nice in public, the bank account of respect is empty.  Someone else will be drawing the lines between bloodshed and peace and it won't be America for a while.  The line is shifting towards more blood and if we are lucky, the American president will read about this in the newspaper and offer to help.

Saturday, 26 July 2014

Your house isn't your RSP. Canadian house prices still heading for a fall.

Look at the chart.  Canada has out-of-line house prices.  Until the rent you can get for the money invested in your house is pretty close to what it costs to buy and look after that house, the price is an un-popped bubble.  A house is an investment after all, not a pilgrimage to Mecca.  The US has gone through a correction.   Canada hasn't.

The Canadian Housing Bubble Puts Even The US To Shame

Canadian housing over-valued? The Economist puts numbers to it. Updated.

Worldwide house prices charted. Canada is riding a bubble. Updated.

Friday, 25 July 2014

Bring back Exclusive. Touchy-feely Inclusive Politics is inadequate.

I like exclusive.  The nattering about being inclusive to shame people into giving up what's theirs has gone too far.  If you want to come into our country, ask permission first.  If you want to use my stuff or walk into my house, you'd better ask permission first.
Notice that diamond on my wife's finger? Be warned that you are looking at an exclusive relationship.  I won't be sharing or be shared, either.  There's no free love or open marriage here.  Exclusive, no-trespassing-by-strangers is exactly the exclusive way it's going to stay.

Inclusive is good too but watching the deliberate destruction of the US southern border shows it has gone too far.  Inclusive doesn't mean my beliefs and conclusions must be blenderized with those of our enemies until the only "right thinking" option is to think like a left-embedded professor.
Is the problem that private property
is hated by Marxists?

The same folly condemns all discrimination.  We are now urged to be indiscriminate.  The indiscriminate are unable to evaluate and choose between other beliefs and other cultures.  It so happens "Anything goes" and "They're equally valid" is an easy position to adopt but it isn't true.   I don't have to think to say, "All of the above" when presented with choices between good and evil and the ten thousand shades between.

Be exclusive and discriminate too.

BC right to raise posted speeds.

People don't leave home planning to crash yet on some highways only a few oddballs keep below the posted speed.  Since crashes are rare, posted speeds should be corrected to use the wisdom of highway planners (and the wisdom of drivers).  They advise posting the speed at which 85% of the drivers would choose to drive that road if there were no speed limit.  It's just as dangerous to have a slow driver in the fast lane as it is to have a speeding driver dodging in and out of lanes.  Roads are safer when speeds are similar for all the cars on them.   I drive below the posted speed on congested roads, when pedestrians are about, when the road is damp or icy, and when it is dark or the road is windy.  I drive above the posted speed when traffic is light, when there is a passing lane, when no people or creatures are walking near the road, whenever I can see clearly ahead more than the distance I need to brake to a complete stop. I like to get home safely but without wasting time.

So, congratulations, BC, on adjusting some speeds upwards.

Politicians are faced with interest groups who like slow speeds which drivers generally disregard because they use their own judgement about what's safe. (Really, what chance does a child have of avoiding injury when run over by a car at 10 kmph compared to being run over at 30 or 50?)
A lot of revenue is created from speeding tickets.  One Missouri town of 50 people has a police force (full and part-time) of 8 and generates most of the municipal budget from speed traps.
Remember when OPEC held the world hostage briefly and speed limits across North America were mandated lower to save fuel.  (Possibly 1% was saved).  That's another reason most speed limits are lower than they should be.

Posted speeds are helpful to assess road conditions ahead that a driver may not know about.  Making them absolute criminalizes the population that wants to use its own judgement to drive safely.  Making them absolute degrades the individual and exalts the state.

 Road signs should be a source of useful information.

Summarized from Alex Mayasi's interesting and longer article at Priceonomics.

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Be humble: Chimps with a fashion fad, Snow Monkey with a stolen iphone are just a baby step away.

Whether "Homo Sapiens (the wise one) or more accurately, a featherless biped, we are not far removed from our simian cousins.  Be humble. You'll never forget this snow monkey checking out his stolen iphone.

Link to Van Oosten's photo and story.

Then there's the chimp who started a fashion trend in her band.  She took to tucking a straw in her ear every day.  Her son followed suit every day and soon her neighbours too. For the life of me, I see no difference in nose piercing and butterfly tattoos.

Then there are the chimps who have a far better memory than we do for numbers (19 in a row, even when hidden after a glimpse).
Story at The Daily Mail

We should be humble. We are easy to deceive and lead about,
witness magic shows, hypnotists, the IPCC, and socialist

Back to normal: WAR

 Regretting Obama is irrelevant already.
Michael Ledeen writes 
"War is normal and peace is very unusual."  He quotes Machiavelli:  "Man is more inclined to do evil than to do good" and then adds:" There is good reason for that old Roman wisdom, "If you want peace, prepare for war".We smashed our enemies, we created military..we built and maintained a big arsenal on land, air and sea. It worked so well and lasted so long that we forgot why we were doing it."   "That happy time is done and gone, at least for now. We’d better stop whining and get about the business of winning".
"If we accept that war, and the preparation for war, is the basic leitmotif of human history, we might also overcome the parallel myth: that all men are basically the same, and all men want the same (good) things. Not so. Just ask Vladimir Putin, Ali Khamenei, and their friends, proxies, and agents. They want bad things for us, namely death and domination. And they’re not likely to change, which is why it’s very dangerous to give Khamenei more money, and try to make Putin more “reasonable.” They’re going to continue the war."

Read the whole article.

Monday, 21 July 2014

Extra fingers, extra hands

With a couple extra fingers you could stir coffee or open an envelope with one hand.  MIT researchers have come up with a cuff that adds two powerful fingers to your hand and moves them in sympathy with your five other fingers.  The two doctored digits can hold a jam jar while the rest of them twist off the lid.

I think many people will have enhanced bodies in the near future.  Better, longer-lasting members.  (Sounds sexy).  The rest of us will settle for our DNA recipe and a personalized set of stem cells that will renew our existing organs, keeping heart and skin in perfect health for the first hundred years or so.

The video is somewhat didactic as the Chinese-named undergrad and her Japanese-named supervisor use the gadget in a  Massachusetts lab, but you can see how it could work and seem natural too.

Readers deconstruct tut-tutting headline about speed limits.

When The Province takes a cheap shot with "Coquihalla Highway fatality follows speed-limit increase" it's refreshing to see the comment section owned by readers who find the link risible. (In other news, there's hope voters will make results-based economic choices and John Q Public will use reason to assess climate claims.)  One commenter sums it up and points to a little deception by the newspaper:
"All the comments that were initially posted about this poor excuse for reporting have been taken down and the story re-posted without the comments. There's no evidence that this accident was caused by excessive speed or the long awaited upgraded speed limits. It is simply a misinformed story written with no fact to fill space."

The same story is posted at the Victoria Times Colonist where the entertaining comments deconstruct the reporter's efforts at tut-tutting. One example from "kitty": Headlines sell papers.... in related news Bird Kills Woman (a... morbidly obese woman who ate a jumbo bucket of KFC daily!)

I've rarely seen a stream of reasoned comments so at odds with the story lede. The reporter must have thought he'd win approbation.

Jobs gone forever: Unemployment insurance turning into a pension.

This US chart shows unprecedented jumps in the wait between jobs, measured now in months instead of weeks since the 2008 recession struck.  It's not a ripple, it's a sea change.  Some jobs are disappearing forever.  The 2008 economic stall helped, feckless Obama helped, and businesses have been prodded into finding ways to do more with fewer people so they can survive.
Source at Zero Hedge

Related: The full-time job loss since June of 2007 now tops five million. The overall job loss is still 2 million, in spite of the fact the US now has a working-age population that is 14 million higher than in June 2007."

Did you read about the hamburger machine that makes better, fresher hamburgers faster than paid staff? Your choice of lean, beef and pork custom ground, blended and grilled.

The enemy of my enemy -- Egypt cheers for Israel.

 “Thank you Netanyahu, and God give us more men like you to destroy Hamas!”  (Azza Sami, a writer for government daily Al-Ahram on Twitter).  And these blunt words:   “Sorry Gazans, I cannot support you until you rid yourselves of Hamas.” (Adel Nehaman, a columnist for the Egyptian daily El-Watan, )

Alliances are fluid. The middle east will surprise us over and over.  Here's another one: Saudi Arabia Finances Most of Israel’s Weapons Build-Up Against Iran and Nuclear Agreement May Result in Israel and Saudi Arabia Attacking Iran

Saturday, 19 July 2014

The politically correct want the crown but will have to fight family, race, faith and nationality for it.

Politically correct pundits attack race loyalty and Christianity because the lesser fear the greater.  They scorn kinship and pregnancy because family loyalty trumps clique allegiance.  The PC movement has also has turned its back on the nation state, scorning patriotism, despising armies, and mocking border security.  However,  PC doesn't openly attack the nation state because their lips are latched on that government teat for funding and status.  The truth is, family, faith, ethnic background and patriotism are enemies of the politically correct.  Disguised in the term "politically correct"is the rise of situational ethics, cliques that network with social neighbours and determine truth by the praise they get from their own contact list.

The internet and social networking have given this fifth way a chance to restructure society.  It won't be going away and it isn't any better behaved when threatened than the other four.  You'll find more PC claptrap left of centre in politics but it isn't a new party, it's a metastasis of old-style group shaming.  It wants the crown of world government.

Situational ethics value situational goods,  status you get from your position vis a vis your neighbours.  This is a variation on the old kid's game, "King of the Castle".  The biggest kid in our neighbourhood would run to the top of the snow pile and chant: "I'm the king of the castle and you're the dirty rascal" until someone could push him off the peak.  "I recycle and compost and use natural fabrics and am a locavore vegetarian anti-war genius but you're a dirty rascal and a republican or conservative to boot".     "You only ban guns in schools but I ban even pointing a finger and saying 'bang' "
The King is In

Hang onto your faith.  Be proud of your ethnic roots.  Stand up for the national anthem.  Love and defend your family.  And if you in your wisdom want to rule the roost with politically-correct-brethren, go ahead and compete for the position but skip the righteous surprise when we push back to defend what we treasure.

Our civilisation is under attack, by the Islamic Reformation on one hand and Ad Hoc Shaming Networks jostling for money and power on the other.  If we defend against but one, we will lose to the other.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

China wants our logs? Get off our butts and move them out to the highest bidder .

BC law lets one log in fourteen be exported. As the Fraser Institute reports, the seller has to beg locals to pay $74/cubic m. before being allowed to sell a tiny fraction abroad at $108. The foreigners pay more because they value that log more than we do. The difference is wealth we willfully robs from ourselves.

There's a chorus of BC boosters who neither buy nor sell logs themselves but have plenty of opinion about who should. Forget those who get the vapours every time a tree falls near a media outlet. (A fevered link).  The argument that we should keep lumber milling jobs in BC sounds pretty good. The reality is we aren't prepared to cut those logs to the sizes and quantities the Chinese need. The government's own Forestry Innovation Investment marketing agency says in a one page summary that although some of our cheap 2x4 gets used in China for concrete forms, we offer 1 1/2" thick boards but they want a minimum of 1-7/8" for furniture blanks and so on. We sell hardly any high end wood to China because we can't be bothered milling it to their specs.    I ran into this once when an old Swiss gentleman came to my shop looking for roof trusses which he wanted built from metric wood dimensions unlike any I'd ever seen to fit on a metric-dimensioned shed of a size no one else in BC would bother building.
From the Fraser Institute's report on log exports:
"In 2011, B.C.’s forestry and logging sector contributed $1.77 billion to the province’s GDP (the total dollar value of all goods and services produced in B.C.). That year, coniferous logs sold domestically on the Vancouver log market for $74.28 per cubic metre while exports sold for $108.35. Only seven per cent of the 2011 log harvest was exported, despite foreign market demand for B.C. logs".
Booms in Howe Sound

It sounds like the communist farm commune: You have to sell your product to a designated buyer at a low price and only the bit you grow on your own plot can you freely sell. Why on earth is the provincial government the gate keeper, the dog lying in the manger door that keeps the other animals from coming in and out to munch in peace? It's because, in BC, the government owns almost every hectare of land from north to south and this makes them an easy target for rent seeking.  (" When a company, organization or individual uses their resources to obtain an economic gain from others without reciprocating any benefits back to society through wealth creation" Wikipedia.)

In BC, we want our money back. We paid for teachers in June and didn't get them.

The Canadian Taxpayers Federation puts it plainly: 
"It’s no different than if your barber refused to cut your hair, you wouldn’t pay them anyway – you’d want your money back." 
“Government needs to feel the cold hard grip of fiscal restraint to stay the course and negotiate a fair, affordable deal for taxpayers,” said Bateman. “This money belongs to B.C. taxpayers – not teachers or the government. The BCTF shouldn’t be rewarded with this money as part of their negotiations. This $200 million should be rebated to the taxpayers who paid it in the first place.”
Petition here.  A family of four would be entitled to $160 back.  That money was taken from us for a purpose and neither the government nor the BCTF has any right to channel it to their pockets.
a citizens advocacy group dedicated to lower taxes,
less waste and accountable government.