Smart people take on energy…

Long article, but good.  Deals with energy, sequestration, etcetera…

Insurgents adjust tactics to match enemy

Those evil, evil bastards were at it again.

I mean, look:


Those bastards!

The Rayguns are Coming, the Rayguns are Coming!

Strategy Page plays Buck Revere.

Am waiting to be proven right about my UAV+THEL strategy.

We’re winning the civilization war.


Maliki returned fire saying, “You in particular will regain your trust in this government when we send your file to a court of law. You talk about Latifiyah when you know, and everybody knows, that terrorists are right now holding 150 innocent citizens hostages in that city”.

This direct threat was met by applause from the members of the UIA.

“The speaker (al-Mashhadani) didn’t like this response from Maliki and turned to the lawmakers and said “You applaud this? The Prime Minister is openly accusing one of your colleagues of being a terrorist and you applaud! This is unacceptable!”

From Mohammed Fadhil, Pajamas Media correspondent in Baghdad.

The speaker protesting against Maliki is reacting according to the mores of a shame-based society.  He is directly stating that any accusation against a member of Parliament shames all of the members of Parliament.

The applause with which the MPs react is an indication of guilt-based thinking in operation: if it’s this bozo who’s in the wrong, how does his guilt or shame apply to them?  Of course, the immediate result was pretty sectarian, but it’s notable that the speaker’s argument was instantly and viscerally rejected by the MPs.

That’s good news for the rest of us.

The rest of Mr. Fadhil’s post is worthwhile, too.

The Definition of Busy

Busy is when “the days last forever, but the weeks flash by.”

Teaching and Testing

Turns out scantron has a combo multiple-guess and essay form.

I’m seriously thinking about exploiting this for tests, because it provides the possibility of making a MUCH more intensive test.  But I’m only going to test it in one class at a time…

It’s five to midnight…

And I’m waiting for another piece of hide to dry so that I can pressure-test one of a couple of different theories…

yes, I’m a geek.  But, if I’m as successful as I *hope* I’ll be, I’ll be a geek who can support his hobbies with the proceeds from another hobby…

A weary public…

Victor Davis Hanson, who is by no means immune to historical overreach, nevertheless hits it on the head here:

Dixie comparisons.

Furor arises about comparing Iraq to elements in the Civil War. I get irate letters when suggesting parallels to the terrible summer of 1864 before Sherman took Atlanta when the betting was that Lincoln would not be renominated, much less reelected. Apparently the outrage comes from even the hint that a George Bush’s perseverance in the face of declining support is anything comparable to a deified Lincoln.

But there are two other less remarked on parallels. First, the empowerment of the Iraqi Shiites, the perennially despised of the Arab world, through one-man/one vote, is as radical in the context of the contemporary Arab world as was emancipation to our own past. To receive an idea of the magnitude of the US-induced change, just image Britain, about 1855, landing in New Orleans, racing up the Mississippi and liberating slaves, and then staying on to jump start democratic suffrage in the South—all to be accomplished while Northerners, Southerners, and Westerners seethed at the foreign interloper, and turned on each other, as particular sectarians sought to ally with or oppose the British.

Another Reconstruction

We are in our fourth year of Reconstruction, and it is eerily similar to the Union efforts from 1865 to 1877. Militias like the Kuklux Klan proliferated. Marshal Law was declared in Tennessee. Judges were shot. Northern troops were too few and far between to protect Republican and black reformers. The public was exasperated that armies like Sherman’s that by late 1864 and 1865 had once sliced through the Confederacy in mere months could not even keep order in a conquered South, despite five military districts initially run by tough veteran Union generals.

Assassinations, kidnappings, and terrorism were committed against supposed “collaborators” such as Republican politicians and black elected officials. Reconstruction administrators were often themselves thoroughly corrupt. And after the scandalous deal of 1876, over a century later books are still being written, as they are of Vietnam and will be of Iraq, about how Reconstruction would have finally worked—despite its legion of terrible mistakes—had only a weary public not given up on it.

 (quoted in full to distinguish from other entries on same page)

I’ve just taught Reconstruction a bunch this year, and gotten classes into big debates about Sumner & Co.’s land redistribution plan, southern violence, etc., and I have to say that this is an incredibly apt comparison.

“They lived off our blood”

“They lived off our blood under Saddam. We were hungry with no food and they were comfortable with full bellies. They should leave now, or they will have to pay.”

I’m no fan of the Shia militias, in particular the Mahdi Army.  In fact, I look forward each and every day to hearing on the radio that the Iraqi army has, with our help, ventilated scores of those goons.

But, hearing that they’re planning to kill off Saddam’s Palestinian Terror Cadre… sometimes, you just have to hope that both sides lose.

Civvy I remain

’nuff said.  Couldn’t guarantee the no relocation part.. which is a dealbreaker for family itself relocating from the West Coast to be near.

Republicans betraying education?

Hey, Lizard Queen!“We have been inexorably centralizing control over the schools in this country for 150 years. We’ve gone from one-room schoolhouses overseen directly by the parents of the children who attended them to sprawling bureaucracies that consume half of the operating budgets of their respective states. We’ve gone from 127,000 school districts in 1932 to fewer than 15,000 today — despite a massive increase in the number of students.”
Andrew J. Coulson

Arnold Kling discusses free markets, education, and NCLB here.

Only in Russia…

“Any official can dictate any decision in any case” (, January 11).

In, “Putin upholds non-existent rule of law,” by those people he loves to hate the Jamestown Foundation.

Investments vs. Debt-Free Living

Was just listening to a guy named Rick Edelmann on the radio, who’s a staunch opponent of paying down mortgages early, and tosses out the CW on debt-to-income ratios as justification. Here’s the rationale:

Extra payments make the bank rich. Take that extra money (particularly the 13th-month payment of a 15-yr mortgage plan), and put it in annuities. After 20-30 years, you’ll have so much that you can lump-sum any remaining out of your mutuals, and still have lots of money left over. Plus, you’ve got liquidity the whole time.

I wonder how much the money managers are paying him to give that advice.

Let’s do the math. But we’ll leave the math out for now. If I pay a thousand every month, and a large proportion of that is interest rates, then everything I pay down ahead of time as a principal payment cuts those interest rates. This yay-hoo’s strategy is to hope that the yields from the mutual fund outpace the interest paid on the mortgage. Maybe yes, maybe no.  Money managers give advice that’s good for money managers.  They want to play with your hard-earned.  But what if you need your hard-earned?

But if I pay off my house within five years, which can be done if you’ve avoided affluenza and bought within your means (we’ve been in the house for three now, and would be a bit better than 60% paid off if our little castle hadn’t required vast swarms of repairs and updates), then once that’s done, you’re pocketing your paycheck.

So, tell me again, how making small interest rates and being shackled to a monthly payment is better for building wealth than taking home the entirety of your paycheck, and then putting as much of that as desired into investing? Tell me how anything is more liquid than pocketing the entirety of your net paycheck?

Plus, you’re less liquid long-term, because your ability to both make your mortgage payment and put in the mutual fund payment (and remember, if you’re not paying into your mutuals, you’re by definition whacked under his scheme) is dependent upon keeping up your regular income at your job.

Well, what if you turn 50 and get laid off in yet another round of the ubiquitous age discrimination? If you’re debt-free and have a bucket of cash drawing interest and some investments here and there… you’re fine. Take six months, see your kids,drive around the country, and either get rehired in a place that will respect your experience, or take the hobby job you’ve always wanted anyway. If you’re a two-income person, you’ve been living off one and pocketing the other (even with kids) anyway, so by year five of your mortgage-free existence, even a complete schmoe can have their FDIC-insured maximum of a hundred grand in the bank as insurance.

Under the CW, you’re screwed. You’re a serf, shackled to your job in order to make ends meet. Maybe you like your job. GREAT!! But wouldn’t it be nicer to work at a job you like without having to do so come hell or high water, and have the actual freedom to make choices for you, rather than choices that make money managers rich?

Don’t be a peasant.

Sappy Alert: Lion Hugs and Kisses Rescuer


Major breakthrough in the leather front.

I have had a major breakthrough, and may be able to start producing leathers on a shop basis (and ramp up to small-scale factory production, pending customers) very quickly. In the process, I may also have stumbled onto a means by which one can remove several steps, and about 3/4 of the tanning time, out of making veg-tan leather, as well. (Though whether my method will allow for tooling remains to be seen).

Go me!

UPDATE:  Yup, it tools, all right.

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