Month: July 2010

Goldman S@#54

We live in Bizarro World

Jon Stewart asks a question, “What is the appropriate response for a company that is selling its customers a sh%$ty deals, being caught on email calling them sh%$ty deals, and then being forced to pay a $550 million fine?”

Well if you are Goldman Sachs, the response is to ban profanity in employee email.


What a Repulsive Capitulation to the Forces of Bigotry and Evil

The Anti-Defamation League has, over the past few years, attempted to forge ties with the Christian Right, because they are perceived as “Pro-Israel.”

It should be noted that the fundamentalist Christian definition of supporting Israel means that they want Jews to be around to die horribly and painfully during the Armageddon that follows the rapture, which is a different definition of being “Pro-Israel” than I was previously aware of.

Well the latest big of demagoguery coming from our Christo-Fascist friends is their Jihad against an Islamic center being built in lower Manhattan, largely because they think that this is an act of bigotry that can play well for them politically.

In response, to these contemptible proclamations from Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich, and the rest of the merry band of bigots, the ADL has come out against the complex with a bizarre statement saying that the people screaming are bigots, but that the screaming has upset 911 victims, and that any construction should therefore be stopped.

The ADL has affirmatively allied itself with the philosophical descendants of the bigoted thugs who lynched Leo Frank, which, ironically enough, was the event that led to the creation of the ADL in the first place.

53 Tons? What are They Smoking????

BAE* has released its proposal for the ground combat vehicle program, it’s a tracked vehicle with hybrid electric propulsion which weighs 53 tons in base configuration, though with bolt on armor, this can get as high as 75 tons, or more than an M-1 tank.

That is more than 10 tons more than a T-80 tank, and about 20 tons more than a Bradley, the vehicle which it is supposed to replace, before you bolt on the extra armor:

The base version is 53 tons. Going into a highly lethal environment? Then commanders may well want their troops to bolt on modular armor and storage pods that bring the weight up to 75 tons. Powering this vehicle that looks an awful lot like a tank, is a hybrid electric drive, technology that worries some in the Army who don’t believe it is sufficiently tried and true yet.

They are promising greater reliability and fuel economy, which is a lie.

The running gear needs to be designed for 75 tons, and the maintenance and fuel needs, even if marginally ameliorated by a hybrid propulsion system are going to be huge.

This is just nuts.

It’s unsupportable, and the logistical trail will be huge.

*Full disclosure, I worked on the Future Recovery and Maintenance Vehicle, FRMV, “wrecker” variant of the FCSMGV from 2003-2006 at United Defense (later BAE Systems after the Carlyle Group sold me to buy Dunkin Donuts).
Future Combat Systems-Manned Ground Vehicle. These are the ones that are the tanks and APCs. As opposed to the various unnmanned vehicles, networking technologies, etc. that form the full FCS along with the MGVs.
Yes, I have worked everywhere. Maybe I can’t hold down a job, but more likely this has been my role as “technical hit man”, where you are parachuted in to take care of a specific need.

Silly Putty™ Armor

BAE Systems* has developed what it calls a liquid armo(u)r, that is supposed to be proof against bullets:

A liquid armour has been shown to stop bullets in tests carried out by UK scientists at BAE systems in Bristol.

The researchers have combined this “shear-thickening” liquid with Kevlar to create a new bullet-proof material.

The company is keeping the chemical formula of the liquid a secret, but it works by absorbing the force of the bullet strike and responding to it by becoming much thicker and more sticky.

The BAE scientists describe it as “bullet-proof custard”.

In theory, this is fairly simple, it’s a non-Newtonian fluid, and you can see this behavior with silly putty™ or water and corn starch.

Of course in practice, finding the proper characteristics, and my guess is that a lot of this has to do with the peculiarities of the interaction between the Kevlar fibers and the fluid, is the tough part.

Seeing as how a body part won’t be moving at more than about 20 m/s, and a bullet would likely be moving at more than 100 m/s even at the extremes of range, developing a material with the appropriate characteristics is certainly technically possible.

*Full disclosure, I worked on the Future Recovery and Maintenance Vehicle, FRMV, “wrecker” variant of the FCS-MGV from 2003-2006 at United Defense (later BAE Systems after the Carlyle Group sold me to buy Dunkin Donuts).
Future Combat Systems-Manned Ground Vehicle. These are the ones that are the tanks and APCs. As opposed to the various unnmanned vehicles, networking technologies, etc. that form the full FCS along with the MGVs.
Yes, I have worked everywhere. Maybe I can’t hold down a job, but more likely this has been my role as “technical hit man”, where you are parachuted in to take care of a specific need.

It’s Bank Failure Friday!!!!

And here they are, ordered, and numbered for the year so far.

  1. Northwest Bank & Trust, Acworth, GA
  2. Bayside Savings Bank, Port Sainte Joe, FL
  3. Coastal Community Bank, Panama City Beach, FL
  4. The Cowlitz Bank, Longview, WA
  5. LibertyBank, Eugene, OR

It’s “only” 5 this week, which is less than either of the past 2 weeks, though above the average of 3.6/week for the year.

Full FDIC list

So, here is the graph pr0n with trendline (FDIC only):

I would note that are now at the point where the utility of the least squares trendline is diminishing, but I’m keeping it here for historical purposes.

The Teabaggers Oregon Chapter is Doomed

Click for full size

The Stupidity, shortly followed by

The Groveling Apology

The Oregon division of the teabaggers, AKA the “Oregon Tea Party,” decided to steal the slogan of Anonymous on 4chan.

Anonymous is/are a group of people who took on the Church of Scientology, and pretty much won.

Anonyous took action: There was a flood of pr0n links and the like on the Oregon Teabaggers’ Facebook page, which has now been taken down, though not before the Teabaggers posted a sycophantic apology (see pic).


Stuff like this is why 4chan is firmly on my list of People I Do Not Want to Piss Off.

Google™ Adsense™ Screws the Pooch Again

Yep, Fred Thompson, whose presidential campaign I called the Fred Thompson Clown Show, is now pimping a website dedicated to preserving George W. Bush’s tax cuts for the very rich.

And through the magic of Google™ Adsense™, they are buying ads on my blog to sell this scam.

Please note: once again, that I do not vet, nor do I endorse any ad that appears on my site, and I reserve the right to mock both the ads that appear on my site, as well as the advertisers.

Also, please note, this should be in no way construed as an inducement or a request for my reader(s) to click on any ad that they would not otherwise be inclined to investigate further. This would be a violation of the terms of service for Google™ Adsense™.

A Clarification on Yesterday’s Post

On the whole, I think that Barack Obama’s administration is immeasurably better than George W. Bush’s. It is on the specific areas of immigration, the jihad against whistleblowers, the national security state, and Afghanistan where he is by all objective measures much worse.

Yesterday’s post, was about those specific areas, and in other areas he compares favorably:

  • On healthcare, Obama is head and shoulders above Bush and His Evil Minions. (But still pretty lame and timid)
  • On Labor, Obama is head and shoulders above Bush and His Evil Minions. (But still pretty lame and timid)
  • On financial regulation, Obama is head and shoulders above Bush and His Evil Minions. (But still pretty lame and timid)
  • On the budget and taxation, Obama is head and shoulders above Bush and His Evil Minions. (But still pretty lame and timid)

Huh, there appears to be a pattern.

Obama is Objectively Worst than Bush

In addition to increasing deportations of illegal aliens to a pace only dreamed of by the Bush administration, Barack Obama is looking to expand the FBI’s extrajudicial, and much abused National Security Letters beyond what Dick Cheney wanted in his most paranoid fantasies:

Today, The Washington Post reports that the Obama administration wants Congress to expand the type of data that can be gained through the use of National Security Letters:

The administration wants to add just four words — “electronic communication transactional records” — to a list of items that the law says the FBI may demand without a judge’s approval. Government lawyers say this category of information includes the addresses to which an Internet user sends e-mail; the times and dates e-mail was sent and received; and possibly a user’s browser history. It does not include, the lawyers hasten to point out, the “content” of e-mail or other Internet communication.

This is on the heels not only of the administration blocking reasonable restrictions on what has objectively been widespread misuse of NSLs, but of the FBI recently beginning to investigate whether or not “hundreds” of agents cheated on the exam meant to “ensure that they could follow aggressive investigative guidelines without intruding on Americans’ privacy rights.” That’s on top of threatening to veto the meager intelligence-oversight reforms being proposed by Congress. As Gene Healy wrote yesterday, “Our interminable war on terror sometimes seems designed to justify every bad thing libertarians have ever said about government.” Having acted irresponsibly with the surveillance power it already has, and blocked reform that would have made the government more accountable, the Obama administration now wants even more power to violate the privacy rights of American citizens. When it comes to national security, there’s nothing like failed government performance to justify giving the government more power.

My sense on these matters is that there are a number of issues which are driving this:

  • Barack Obama feels that he and his administration are good people who can responsibly handle this authority, and so he, and his administration, do not need to constrained by constitutional checks and balances.
    • Which would put former adjunct Professor Obama in serious running for “Worst Constitutional Law Professor ever.”
  • Barack Obama has been successfully cowed by the professional state security apparatus in the United States, which is doubtless feeding him alarmist horror stories, and so he is giving them their wish list.
  • That, much like he is in the case of expanded deportations, and the war in Afghanistan, he sees this as a way to inoculate himself against attacks from the right in 2012.
    • If this one is true, it means that Dick Cheney has more ideological integrity than does Barack Obama, as scary as that sound.
  • Because he can, which, as former President Bill Clinton noted is the worst possible reason.

It is really remarkable how despite my low expectations, he continues to manage to disappoint.

To a large degree I blame those who protested the excesses of Bush and His Evil Minions who are not largely silent, because Barack Obama is the leader of their party.

Another Way That the FIRE* Sector Cheats Ordinary Americans

If you get a large insurance payout, they won’t send you the money, they just send you a “check book,” and keep your money in an account that they hold.

Only the “check book” is not a check book, because it’s not a bank, and it’s not FDIC insured, and they pay you 1% for an account that earns them 5%:

Lohman, a public health nurse who helps special-needs children, says she had always believed that her son’s life insurance funds were in a bank insured by the FDIC. That money — like $28 billion in 1 million death-benefit accounts managed by insurers — wasn’t actually sitting in a bank.

It was being held in Prudential’s general corporate account, earning investment income for the insurer. Prudential paid survivors like Lohman 1 percent interest in 2008 on their Alliance Accounts, while it earned a 4.8 percent return on its corporate funds, according to regulatory filings.

Note that her son was a soldier killed in Afghanistan, so they are stealing from the bereaved families of fallen soldiers.

At this point, I normally say, “Not Enough Bullets,” but I’ve used that a bit too much lately, so I will go with the apocryphal end of Marcus Licinius Crassus, who was made to drink molten gold by his captors as punishment for his greed.

*The Finance Insurance and Real Estate sector.

I’m Buying Futures in Fig Newtons and Ice Cream Sammiches

It appears that California’s Proposition 19, which would legalize and tax marijuana in the state has support fairly consistently polling ahead of opposition.

It should be noted that on human mediated polling, the initiative is down by between 1% and 4%, while in automated polling it is ahead by 10% and 16%, which Nate Silver thinks this is largely because people do not want to tell another person that they are voting for pot, though automated polls might miss minorities who tend to be more opposed to legalization.

I think that it will pass, because it is being sold on unrealistic magical thinking: If you vote for pot, and it is taxed, then California’s fiscal crisis is washed away by a font of “potro-dollars”.

This argument has a grain of truth, reduced costs of enforcement and the resulting criminality, along with the tax revenue, are not insignificant, but it’s not enough to fix the state that was ruined by the California voters and their initiative petition process.

Spineless Weasels

So, because of the threat that Republicans will not say nice things about them, Democrats are preemptively taking the possibility of any meaningful legislative activities following the elections, during the lame duck session:

The head of House Democrats’ campaign committee tried Tuesday to tamp down speculation that the party would try to push through major legislation during a lame-duck session of Congress this fall.

Rep. Chris Van Hollen (Md.), the assistant to the Speaker and chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), said “no one should think there’s some secret plan for after the election on big issues.”

Yeah, like rolling over and exposing your belly will keep them for going for your throat.

I’m with Howard Dean, when he says, “No More Apologies — It’s Time to Stand Up for Our Convictions.”

Wanker of the Day

Neel “Cash and Carry” Kashkari penned an article in (where else) The Washington Post, pens an OP/ED titled, “No more ‘me first’ mentality on entitlements,” suggesting that individual Americans need to suck it up, and abandon their already meager social safety net, and not expect to be bailed out by the government.

Kashkari ran the TARP. He gave out billions, of bailouts to ‘me first’ bankers, and then got a cushy job with PIMCO, so he doesn’t have to worry about eating cat food* to survive.

3 Words: Not Enough Bullets

*In the interest of health, I would suggest that people eat dog food, and not cat food. Cats because they are one of the few true carnivores, do not need the complex carbohydrates and fats that people, and dogs do. As such, dog food is better for you than cat food because it provides carbs and essential fatty acids. A dog can go blind if it is fed on cat food, but a cat lives just fine on dog food. The phenomenon is known as rabbit starvation.

Quote of the Day

Most presidents start wondering—or, more often, worrying—about their “legacy” well into their first term. Or, if they have a second term, they worry even more feverishly about what posterity will think of them. Obama need not wonder about his legacy, even this early. It is already fixed, and in one word: Afghanistan. He took on what he made America’s longest war and what may turn out to be its most disastrous one.

Historian Garry Wills

It should be noted that Mr. (Dr?) Wills was one of 8 academics historians who had a dinner with him in June 2009, and gave him advice, and this is what he, and most of the other, guests said to his face.

I hope that Obama is just desperately wrong on Afghanistan, because the alternative is that we are killing our hundreds soldiers, and thousands of Afghans, because Obama feels the political need to “look tough.”

Judge Suspense Portions of Arizona’s “Papers Please” Law

I’m a hard liner on immigration, but I oppose this law.

It has been passed by people who as a matter of course disenfranchise Arizona hispanics for political advantage, so the judge’s ruling is a welcome development:

A federal judge on Wednesday blocked the most controversial parts of Arizona’s immigration enforcement law from going into effect, a ruling that at least temporarily squashed a state policy that had inflamed the national debate over immigration.

Judge Susan Bolton of Federal District Court issued a preliminary injunction against sections of the law, scheduled to take effect on Thursday, that called for police officers to check a person’s immigration status while enforcing other laws and required immigrants to prove that they were authorized to be in the country or risk state charges. She issued the injunction in response to a legal challenge brought against the law by the Obama administration.

If you want to get tough on illegal aliens, go after the employers.