Month: October 2012

Remember That ‘Phant Mantra of Relying on Private Charities………

Well, not so much:

Looking to cut down on homeless services in Costa Mesa, [Republican] Mayor Eric Bever has asked the city to investigate some of the city’s most prominent and long-running charities.

Bever singled out Share Our Selves and Someone Cares Soup Kitchen, two decades-old nonprofits that dispense food and medical care to the poor and homeless.

The mayor compared the charities to nightclubs that have become neighborhood nuisances.

It would go a long way to solving the problem of homeless people coming to Costa Mesa, the mayor said, “if we managed to put the soup kitchen out of business.”

The homeless population in Costa Mesa has been a stubborn political issue over the years, with some residents complaining that vagrants take over public facilities like Lions Park and the library in the heart of the city’s downtown.

But the assertion that the soup kitchen and outreach center are magnets strictly to homeless people is off base, said Shannon Santos, the executive director of Someone Cares.

Santos said a survey the soup kitchen conducted in 2011 found that 86% of its patrons said they were from Costa Mesa, and about 40% were low-income seniors, many from the nearby Bethel Towers apartments, which serves seniors with modest incomes

BTW, this joker is (thankfully) being termed out of office, and he’s running for a seat on the water board so that he can keep his health insurance for his bad back:

Eric Bever is termed out and running for a seat on the Mesa Consolidated Water Board. He is running against the current incumbent President Fred Bockmiller. Bockmiller is the Facilities director at UCI and has overseen water and drainage projects that have resulted in billions of infrastructure upgrades. His knowledge and experience are unparalleled. Insiders from the Costa Mesa political machine have basically made a stand to have Bever take the place of Bockmiller on the Water board. Bever is an antique dealer. The reason stated in whispers is that Eric NEEDS the medical for a bad back and if he is termed out he will lose his medical insurance. The justification is that Bockmiller can get insurance through the College so he is expendable. Ironic, isn’t? The Mayor is running for another elected position for the government provided health insurance but before he leaves he attacks charities that provide health insurance for those that need it. Costa Mesa needs to drain this swamp…….

Seriously, C=MI.*

I am sure that there are some Republican politicians who aren’t sociopaths, I just haven’t seen them yet.

*Conservatism equals Mental Illness.

Pass the Popcorn

A court has ruled that the Montgomery County (PA) Recorder of Deeds can sue MERS (Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems) and the banks over their evading recording fees:

The federal court has upheld the Montgomery County Recorder of Deeds’ right to sue an electronic mortgage registry company and banks doing business with that company for $15.7 million that she claims is owed to the county in recording fees.

The court Friday issued a 36-page memorandum and order denying a motion by MERS, also known as Mortgage Electronic Registry System, and its participating banks to dismiss the lawsuit filed last year by Recorder of Deeds Nancy J. Becker.

The court’s ruling, while not discussing the merits of the case, essentially states that Pennsylvania does have a law requiring that mortgage assignments be recorded with the recorder of deeds office and that the recorder of deeds has the right to bring legal action when he or she does not believe an entity is complying with the law.

“This is one major hurdle that we have now leaped,” Becker said Monday. “Now, we can move forward on the issues.”


Some 146,715 MERS mortgages have been recorded in her office from April 2004 through September 2011, according to Becker.

146,715 mortgages?  In one county?

Well Montgomery County has about 800K people, or about ¼% of the US population.

If you assume a lower number of multi-family residences, and double it, you have something in the neighborhood of 30 million mortgages, and fee evasion on the order of $3 billion.

With penalties, it might be north of $10 billion, and when you consider the potential liabilities that the banksters might have incurred because MERS did not work, and does not provide an accurate (or for that matter legal) record of who holds the note on the loan:

Becker has said that, when these mortgage loans are transferred electronically, sometimes multiple times, through MERS and not filed in the county recorder of deeds office, “it makes it difficult, almost impossible sometimes” for property owners to determine what institutions are holding their mortgages.

I would be very surprised if the liabilities incurred by this are not hundreds, if not thousands, of times more.

Now I Know How HP Employees Felt When Fiorina was Fired

Because George Lucas has sold LucasFilm and the Star Wars Franchise, meaning that he will no longer be able f%$# it up. (Ewoks, and the Star Wars Holiday Special, Jar Jar Binks, and midi-chlorians, anyone?)

Unfortunately, I also feel how HP employees felt when Meg F%$#ing Whitman was hired as CEO:

In the rare bit of news that could blow Hurricane Sandy off the map, Disney announced today that it had purchased Lucasfilm for $4.05 billion—and announced that the company will debut Star War Episode VII in 2015. “It’s now time for me to pass Star Wars on to a new generation of filmmakers,” George Lucas said in the official announcement of the transaction, in what is a substantial understatement, given the creative quality of the prequels. “I’ve always believed that Star Wars could live beyond me, and I thought it was important to set up the transition during my lifetime.”

Disney?  The f%$#ing mouse?

He f%$#ing sold f%$#ing Star Wars to the f%$#ing mouse?


Yeah, This is How “Balanced” Agreements With the RIAA and MPAA Work

The RIAA and the large ISPs have an agreement to implement a “six strikes” agreement in to limit “piracy”.

At the core of this agreement is an “independent and impartial” expert to evaluate evidence against people, but now it appears that this “expert” is an RIAA lobbyist:

A month before the controversial “six strikes” anti-piracy plan goes live in the U.S., the responsible Center of Copyright Information (CCI) is dealing with a small crisis. As it turns out the RIAA failed to mention to its partners that the “impartial and independent” technology expert they retained previously lobbied for the music industry group. In a response to the controversy, CCI is now considering whether it should hire another expert to evaluate the anti-piracy monitoring technology.

Starting next month the MPAA, RIAA and five major Internet providers in the United States will start punishing persistent BitTorrent pirates,

The scheme is being coordinated by the Center for Copyright Information (CCI) who agreed to hire an impartial and independent expert to review the evidence that will be used to accuse suspected subscribers.

However, earlier this week the news broke that the touted independent technology expert, Stroz Friedberg, is not so neutral. In fact, the company is a former RIAA lobbying firm.

The lobbying job earned the company more than half a million dollars ($637,000), which makes it hard to view the company as “independent and impartial” as the agreement between the copyright holders and ISPs requires.

This is why you don’t cut deals with the RIAA and the MPAA.

They are not, and have never been, good faith players in this debate.

I Would Be Remiss in Leaving the Greeks Blameless

Case in point, Christine Lagarde sent a list of Swiss bank accounts held by Greek politicians totaling billions of Euros.

Kostas Vaxevanis, editor and publisher of Hot Doc magazine, managed to get a copy of the list, and published it. The Greek authorities promptly arrested him:

The Greek police arrested and then quickly released the owner and editor of a respected investigative magazine on Sunday morning hours after he published a list of more than 2,000 Greeks who were said to have accounts at a bank in Switzerland, throwing new controversy into a scandal over whether the government is actively pursuing suspected tax cheats.

The dramatic moves, which tens of thousands of Greeks were following on the Internet, came days before Greece’s European partners were to meet to decide whether to grant tens of billions of euros in new aid to the financially struggling nation. Greece’s lenders have long said that the government must crack down on tax evasion to be eligible for more aid.

The police said they had been ordered to take the editor, Kostas Vaxevanis, who runs Hot Doc magazine and who is one of the nation’s most famous investigative journalists, into custody on misdemeanor charges. The Greek news media reported that the charges concerned the violation of the privacy of those on the list.

Mr. Vaxevanis posted a message to his Twitter account early Sunday saying that 15 officers had surrounded the home of a friend with whom he had been staying “like Greek storm troopers in German uniforms.”

Mr. Vaxevanis soon followed up with another Twitter message: “They’re entering my house with the prosecutor right now. They are arresting me. Spread the word.”

Hours later, he was released from Athens police headquarters to loud cheers from a crowd outside. He is to face a magistrate at noon on Monday, when his trial date is to be set.


George Papaconstantinou, the ex-finance minister who received the list from Ms. Lagarde, told a parliamentary panel last week that he had been advised that he could not use it because a former HSBC employee obtained the names illegally. Mr. Papaconstantinou said that after receiving the names, he had passed them on a memory stick to the chief of Greece’s financial crimes unit, Ioannis Diotis, who later gave it to Mr. Papaconstantinou’s successor, Evangelos Venizelos, the current leader of the Socialists. Mr. Diotis said that Mr. Venizelos had not instructed him to investigate it.

The Greek elites in general, and their ruling classes in particular, are deeply corrupt and dysfunctional.

The EU and the IMF would have been far better served by starting with the exposure of the corrupt elites and the confiscation of their ill gotten gains.

Passing along a list, with the knowledge that it would almost certainly be ignored, is an inadequate response. It ill serves the Greek people, the EU, and world economy.

A Must Read

H/t Americablog for the vid

Matt Stoller has a very well thought argument given the progressive case against Obama:

So why oppose Obama? Simply, it is the shape of the society Obama is crafting that I oppose, and I intend to hold him responsible, such as I can, for his actions in creating it. Many Democrats are disappointed in Obama. Some feel he’s a good president with a bad Congress. Some feel he’s a good man, trying to do the right thing, but not bold enough. Others think it’s just the system, that anyone would do what he did. I will get to each of these sentiments, and pragmatic questions around the election, but I think it’s important to be grounded in policy outcomes. Not, what did Obama try to do, in his heart of hearts? But what kind of America has he actually delivered?

Obama had a number of things that he could do without the Consent of congress, holding torturers accountable, prosecuting corrupt bankers, etc.  In every case, his decisions have served to further empower, and to further immunize, powerful wrongdoers in our society.

I recommend that you read the whole article.

A counter argument by Joss Weadon(see vid) involves Zombies

Finland Gets Ducks in a Row to Leave Euro Zone

Finland, which is not in crisis, does not appear to have any immediate plans to leave the Euro, but they are seriously considering establishing a local parallel currency so that they will have the option of pulling the plug on the Euro if it becomes necessary:

In the past couple of years, as the eurozone woes have unfolded, international investors have been transfixed by one small country on the edge of the region: Greece.

They would do well to keep watching another tiddler: Finland. For while Finland has not created much drama, precisely because it is one of the strongest eurozone members, some fascinating discussions are under way. Most notably, as the eurozone crisis rumbles on, some Finnish business and government officials are quietly mulling the logistics of leaving the currency union.

Nobody in Finland expects this to happen soon, if ever; indeed, most policy makers are strongly opposed to the idea. Particularly since many also hope the crisis is dying down, but as Heikki Neimelaeinen, chief executive of the Municipal Guarantee Board says: “We have started openly discussing the mechanism of euro exiting, without indicating that we will initiate such a process.” And this, in turn, is sparking some curious economic debates.

Take a look, for example, at a recent research paper from Nordea, the Nordic bank. This paper looks at the question of what might happen if Finland ever decided to run a so-called “parallel currency” system. The idea behind this, as Nordea explains, is that at times of stress it can sometimes seem beneficial for countries to maintain more than one currency unit. Most notably, if a country is trying to leave one currency, keeping that as legal tender alongside a second currency for a period can ensure a country honours its old contracts – and thus avoids a technical default.

Finland is a net creditor in the EU, and it is highly unlikely that they would be forced out, so they have be planning to get out of Dodge if the sh%$ hits the fan.

This is significant, because it’s showing a lack of confidence from one of the net beneficiaries of the Euro zone.

Our Special Relationship Now Includes the Words, “Piss off, Wanker”

The British just turned down a request of the US to use their bases for a strike on Iran:

Britain has rebuffed US pleas to use military bases in the UK to support the build-up of forces in the Gulf, citing secret legal advice which states that any pre-emptive strike on Iran could be in breach of international law.

The Guardian has been told that US diplomats have also lobbied for the use of British bases in Cyprus, and for permission to fly from US bases on Ascension Island in the Atlantic and Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean, both of which are British territories.

The US approaches are part of contingency planning over the nuclear standoff with Tehran, but British ministers have so far reacted coolly. They have pointed US officials to legal advice drafted by the attorney general’s office which has been circulated to Downing Street, the Foreign Office and the Ministry of Defence.

This makes clear that Iran, which has consistently denied it has plans to develop a nuclear weapon, does not currently represent “a clear and present threat”. Providing assistance to forces that could be involved in a pre-emptive strike would be a clear breach of international law, it states.

If Tony Blur Blair were still PM, the only question that would have been asked would have been if they wanted their parking validated.

Credit where credit is due.  The Tories, probably because they were afraid of losing their Lib-Dem coalition partners, have made a remarkably sensible decision.

If there is anything that can add a few decades of the reign of the mullahs in Iran, it’s another war.

Neat Tech

Cryogenic Machining:

As contractors make greater use of composites and high-strength metals in aircraft structures, attention is focusing on ways of improving manufacturing productivity and reducing per-part cost. One technique to emerge for the machining of parts is cryogenic cooling, which can increase machining speed, reduce cutting force, extend cutting tool life, and lower the time and cost required to finish components.

Cryogenic cooling uses liquid nitrogen (LN2), an inert substance that is usually processed at -321F (-196C), in place of conventional liquid coolants, which are generally applied at ambient temperature. The idea is to apply LN2 to the interface of a cutting tool and workpiece, where it reduces heat generated by cutting, thus allowing a tool to run faster and—with less thermal degradation and other heat-related damage—last longer.

The heat can be extreme. The cutting temperature of carbon steel, for example, can easily reach 800F during machining.

Cryogenic cooling has been around for a while, but recent developments in system design make it more of an option for contractors working with advanced materials. One company in particular, MAG IAS of Erlanger, Ky., has engineered a line of 3-, 4- and 5-axis cryogenic machining centers and retrofit packages with patented technology that was developed in partnership with the U.S. Naval Air Systems Command, Lockheed Martin and Bell Helicopter Textron, and others. Among its applications, the technology has been approved for use in roughing titanium components for the Lockheed F-35 . MAG is working with the original equipment manufacturer on finished-machining certification of the process.

I would also note that another benefit of cryogenic machining is shorter chips, which also makes machining easier, so machining stringy alloys, like titanium, and some aluminum alloys and stainless steels (13-8 shown) can be a royal PITA.

Bunga Bunga, Silvio

Silvio Berlusconi has been convicted of tax fraud and sentenced to 4 years:

Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi was sentenced to four years in jail on Friday for tax fraud in connection with the purchase of broadcasting rights by his Mediaset television company.

The 76-year-old billionaire media magnate, who was convicted three times during the 1990s in the first degree before being cleared by higher courts, has the right to appeal the ruling two more times before the sentence becomes definitive.

That process is likely to be lengthy and he will not be jailed unless he loses the final appeal. Even then, because the crime was committed when an amnesty to prevent prison overcrowding was in place, the maximum possible jail time would be one year.

The ruling comes two days after Berlusconi confirmed he would not run in next year’s elections as the leader of his People of Freedom (PDL) party, ending almost 19 years as the dominant politician of the centre-right.

I would suggest that as a part of this, authorities should break up his media empire.

His political power derived directly from his control of almost all the TV in Italy.

Once he packed the staff of Italian state run TV, there were no opposing voices voices