March 2009 Archives

A new game called Time Engineers teaches kids about engineering (and time travel).

The first product to emerge from the TechInsights-Software Kids partnership is a game called Time Engineers. It's intended to promote kids' interest in engineering and has received numerous educator awards and lots of positive reviews. In fact, it beat out Lucas Arts and Walt Disney at a recent competition. You can view the game at html/time_engineers.html. The College of Engineering at Valparaiso University also had a hand in the game's creation.

Playing Time Engineers, students travel in a time machine to three different time periods and encounter typical engineering problems that must be solved in order to build pyramids, irrigate farm land, command a WWII submarine, raise and lower medieval drawbridges, and more. The game provides students with opportunities to learn about how engineering principles have helped people through the ages.

Unlike many educational games, Time Engineers was designed to be rich in graphics and content to hold the middle and high school students' interest while simultaneously applying some of the fundamental principles of engineering. Tools like this are now needed more than ever.

(HT: DS.)

Michelle Obama knows nothing about America.

Orpah Winfrey: [... ] We live in an "American Idol" culture where it seems like everyone just wants to be in the spotlight.

Michelle Obama: That's not the America I saw. People value their communities. They're rooting for one another. Even in places where I thought people wouldn't accept or relate to me, I always walked out feeling like, "Wow -- that was fun."

How about a follow-up question Orpah: "So Michelle, which people and places did you expect to not accept or relate to you?"

(HT: Gateway Pundit.)

"Earth Hour" and "Earth Day" are modern day pagan rituals performed in worship of the giant ball of dirt beneath our feet.

If we're "running out" of energy (or it's just more expensive than you'd like) then the solution is to create cheaper, cleaner energy sources, not to knock ourselves back into some watery-eyed idealized Stone Age.

As my wife pointed out on a Facebook note that I apparently can't link to, prostrating yourself before Gaia is an idiotic waste of time, especially considering all the hurting humans out there. Instead of flagellating ourselves over our prosperity, we should dedicate some time and energy to spreading our blessings to the less fortunate around the world.

Instead of turning off our lights for an hour, why not work towards providing 24-hour electricity to the majority of people in the world who don't have it? Or clean water? Or cell phone service?

It's pathetic how eager the Left is to erase millennia of progress and throw civilization back into the pagan dark ages. Let's worship the earth, the air, the rocks, the ocean, and the animals!

I pray that if God ever allows me to earn a boatload of money I'll find something better to do with it than did the Spellings.

The widow of producer Aaron Spelling is placing "The Manor" in the exclusive Holmby Hills neighborhood on the market for a jaw-dropping $150 million, making it by far the most expensive home for sale in the U.S.

The French chateau-style mansion has 56,500 square feet of space on more than 4.6 acres and is the largest home in Los Angeles County. Among the neighbors are the Los Angeles Country Club and, not too far away, the Playboy Mansion. ...

The three-story mansion, built in 1991, is gated and features a winding driveway that leads up to the three-story house, which includes ceilings that reach up to 30 feet high, Jones said.

While some published reports put the tally of rooms in the mansion at well past 100, Jones couldn't provide an exact count.

Spelling says she doesn't know either. ...

There's a bowling alley, wine cellar, wine tasting room, gift-wrapping room, a humidity-controlled silver storage room, China room, library, gym and media room, among many others. ...

The Spellings also finished the 17,000 square-foot attic that includes a barber shop and beauty salon.

The home also includes a wing for service staff, including a kitchen and seven bedrooms, and five fireplaces and four wet bars.

Lavish features also can be found outside the house, including a tennis court, fountains, a waterfall, a pool and spa, a reflection pool and a pool house with a kitchen, and 16 car ports.

The estate also boasts an 18th Century-style garden, a rooftop rose garden and a citrus orchard.

I'm not at all envious of that kind of lifestyle. If I had the kind of money Aaron Spelling had before he died (leaving it all behind) I'm sure I'd live more luxuriously than I do now, but I hope I'd find something better to do with it than just spending it on myself and my family.

Apparently it only takes 17 hard drives to stop the armor piercing round, so I should be pretty safe in the mech I'm building out of discarded computer components.

(HT: The Firearm Blog, RD.)

The Voice of the Martyrs just sent out a bulletin asking for prayer and petition signature for the release of Gao Zhisheng from Chinese torture.

Christian human rights attorney Gao Zhisheng, has now been missing 50 days, and there is increasing concern for his life. He was last seen being hauled away from his home by more than a dozen police officers on February 4. Reports from inside China indicate he is undergoing brutal torture.

The situation is critical, and with each day that passes, Gao Zhisheng's life hangs in the balance.

Because of Gao's work defending house church Christians and others persecuted in China, the Chinese government wants to silence his voice. ChinaAid president, Bob Fu calls Gao's torture "the most severe persecution in China's modern history." Gao's wife and two children, who have also been abused and tormented by the police, escaped to the U.S. less than two weeks ago. His family is afraid that authorities, furious at their escape, are taking revenge on Gao.

ChinaAid and The Voice of the Martyrs, together with Gao Zhisheng's wife and children, call on all Christians and those who value human dignity and justice to speak out on Gao Zhisheng's behalf by signing a petition to free Gao.

Sign the petition and send emails to the Chinese government. From what I've read, the Chinese government is very sensitive to its reputation among Westerners, and there's a good chance that Gao's release may be accomplished if we can draw enough attention to his situation.

Thomas F. Cooley explains how America's demographic advantage over the rest of the developed world is largely due to immigration. He's completely right!

There has been a lot of hand-wringing of late about the need to rectify imbalances in the global economy that led the U.S. to be a net borrower from the rest of the world. Global imbalances are thought to be at the heart of many of our current global financial problems because so much U.S. debt of various forms has ended up on foreign balance sheets. Certainly, it seems incongruous that the world's wealthiest nation is also the world's biggest debtor.

But we have experienced two decades of imbalance in the flows of capital to the U.S. There is a commonplace view--presaged by the very term "imbalance"--that the U.S. current account deficit cannot continue and that the longer it lasts, the more drastic and painful will be the ultimate adjustment. When considered together, the net effect of the demographics transition is that savings will continue to flow to the U.S. from regions that are aging faster. These demographic forces are already in place, and there is little that could alter this equilibrium for some time to come.

Demographics are also important because they have implications for productivity growth. Innovation is more apt to be generated by the young and vigorous. The young are also more adaptable, better able to acquire the new skills called for by innovation, and more likely to take advantage of educational opportunities that better prepare them for such opportunities.

Translation: the rest of the world lends us money because it is closer to retirement than we are and they're saving up for when they're old. We're younger, can put the money to good use, and will pay our elders in other countries a reliable bucket of interest. The capital flow imbalance is due to demographic forces that are only going to get stronger.

There is a reason for our demographic good fortune. It is immigration. Our willingness to provide opportunities for immigrants from every class and every country has been the driving force of our economy. Our ability to continue to create new ideas and drive innovation depends critically on our willingness to welcome the best and the brightest and the hardest working, who understand the potential that the U.S. represents.

It is worth pausing now to think about this "slow news" because our political leaders seem incapable of thinking beyond lunch. Legislative blunders like the Sanders-Grassley "Hire Americans First" and other anti-immigration measures may play well on the Lou Dobbs circuit. But they are a serious threat to our long-term good fortune.

I can't speak for Lou Dobbs because I've never seen his show, and I certainly won't defend much of anything that comes out of the Senate.

I do think that the key to Cooley's argument is in this phrase: "the best and the brightest and the hardest working". I vigorously favor immigration, even in large numbers, but I believe that we need to discriminate in favor of highly educated, skilled, productive, law-abiding applicants. That certainly doesn't mean they need to be rich by American norms, but we should make an effort to attract the world's best, brightest, and hardest working, not just whomever manages to smuggle himself across a border.

We also need a plan to proactively assimilate immigrants into America's melting pot. This means that immigrants should be encouraged to become American citizens and to think of themselves as Americans first, not hyphenated Americans based on their skin color or country of birth. We should encourage immigrants to jump in and contribute to the American civilization with both feet, wholeheartedly, without holding anything back. Plans to admit "guest workers" who come in, work for a while, and then leave go against the American ideal and should be rejected.

America should be a nation that welcomes newcomers with open arms, but that process needs to be on our terms and under our control. We can afford to be choosy because there are billions of people who would love to come here and join this great experiment. Let's set aside worries about political correctness and come up with a method for evaluating and admitting immigrants without regard for nation of origin or skin color, but instead focusing on those individual attributes that make America -- and Americans -- great.

Jay Cost pithily explains that the American middles demands economic growth from our leaders. We may not have a deep understanding of how the economy works, but when things go south we're going to blame someone.

The public lacks economic expertise, yet it must still assign blame for the struggling economy. It is unsurprising that - regardless of whether he deserves it - the President is often the recipient. After all, he is the most visible politician in the country. Additionally, Presidents are quick to accept credit for a flourishing economy, so inevitably they take the blame for when it languishes. When you blame the President and want a change, the opposition party is the only viable option.

While the current focus on Timothy Geithner, the Treasury, and the financial markets is understandable - this will probably not be the script of the broader political battle over the next 20 months. Assuming that the financial system is brought under control, the political debate will focus relentlessly on recession and recovery. Though the Administration, the CBO and the Blue Chip forecasters project modest growth in 2010 (ranging from 1.9% to 3.0%), all of them expect high unemployment (7.9% to 9.1%) and an economy performing below peak capacity. If these predictions are true - the corresponding public dissatisfaction will define the campaign of 2010, and the legislative battles that precede it. ...

If you find this to be a dispiriting commentary on democratic accountability, think of it this way. Electoral justice might be rough, but it's also consistent: bad economies mean electoral defeat for somebody. Thus, those who are still in office when the dust settles learn a valuable lesson: grow the economy, or next time it could be you. In the long run, the public gets what it wants - a government dedicated first and foremost to growth.

Mr. Cost likens the American voter to Darth Vader, and he's not far off.

The relationship between the electorate and the politicians is akin to Darth Vader and his lieutenants in The Empire Strikes Back. When the underlings failed Vader, he impatiently struck them down without a second thought, moving on to the next in command. Similarly, when politicians fail to deliver growth, the judgment of the electorate is just as swift and almost as brutal.

"Apology accepted, Captain Needa."

AIG executive Jack DeSantis explains the bonuses he and his colleagues received, and resigns.

I am proud of everything I have done for the commodity and equity divisions of A.I.G.-F.P. I was in no way involved in — or responsible for — the credit default swap transactions that have hamstrung A.I.G. Nor were more than a handful of the 400 current employees of A.I.G.-F.P. Most of those responsible have left the company and have conspicuously escaped the public outrage.

After 12 months of hard work dismantling the company — during which A.I.G. reassured us many times we would be rewarded in March 2009 — we in the financial products unit have been betrayed by A.I.G. and are being unfairly persecuted by elected officials. In response to this, I will now leave the company and donate my entire post-tax retention payment to those suffering from the global economic downturn. My intent is to keep none of the money myself.

I take this action after 11 years of dedicated, honorable service to A.I.G. I can no longer effectively perform my duties in this dysfunctional environment, nor am I being paid to do so. Like you, I was asked to work for an annual salary of $1, and I agreed out of a sense of duty to the company and to the public officials who have come to its aid. Having now been let down by both, I can no longer justify spending 10, 12, 14 hours a day away from my family for the benefit of those who have let me down.

From the letter, it appears that many of the bonus recipients were working for $1 a year on the promise of receiving these bonuses in March 2009.

It's amazing how poorly the government has run AIG since buying an 80% share six months ago.

(HT: Mark Steyn notes: "We have a president who shows no instinct for economic issues; a Treasury Department that, in a supposed crisis, is just one designated fall guy rattling around an all but empty building for whose senior positions no one has even been nominated; and thug legislators-for-life who bear far more direct responsibility for this mess posing as champions of da liddle guy in order to extend their already disastrous "oversight" ever deeper into the private sector. Things are going to get a lot worse.")

Apparently the "volunteers" in the Obama Youth cult won't be allowed to go to church.

The Bill would forbid any student in the brigade to participate in “engaging in religious instruction, conducting worship services, providing instruction as part of a program that includes mandatory religious instruction or worship, constructing or operating facilities devoted to religious instruction or worship, maintaining facilities primarily or inherently devoted to religious instruction or worship, or engaging in any form of religious proselytization.” That means no church attendance or witnessing.

It's insane, yes, but I don't think this kind of nonsense will actually get through Congress, even now.

But just in case...

o/ o/ o/ o/ o/ o/ o/ o/ o/ o/

(HT: Gateway Pundit and Free Republic are all over this.)

Physician Paul Hsieh explains how the health insurance industry is eager to exit the free market. Maybe the executives are hoping to keep their jobs rather than be forced out of business by government crowding?

Sensing the changing political winds favoring “universal health care,” the largest trade group for health insurers (American Health Insurance Plans) recently agreed to accept regulations requiring them to sell individual policies to all patients regardless of preexisting illnesses. In the past, they had opposed such requirements as too costly. However, they’ve now agreed to accept such regulations in exchange for a law requiring all Americans to purchase health insurance.

At first glance, this might look like a good deal for the insurance companies. They would receive a seemingly guaranteed market for their products (as if Congress had bailed out General Motors by requiring all Americans to purchase a new GM car every few years.) But this guaranteed market would come at a steep price. A “Federal Health Board” would impose onerous political controls on insurers, specifying which patients they must accept and which benefits they must offer. Insurers would be required to sell policies at prices the government deemed “affordable.” Private insurers would also have to compete with taxpayer-subsidized government insurance plans. As health costs continued to rise, such an arrangement would become unsustainable. No business can survive long when the government forces it to sell $2,000 worth of services, but only allows it to charge $1,000.

When South Dakota and Kentucky passed similar laws, many insurers left these states rather than operate at a loss. Similar laws at the national level would likely drive many insurers out of business altogether.

The inevitable collapse of the private insurance market would then leave millions of Americans without insurance coverage. Although this collapse would be caused by government regulations, pundits would undoubtedly portray this as a “failure of the free market.” Politicians would demand that the government “rescue” health care from “greedy capitalists.” The end result would be a “single payer” socialized medical system like Canada or Great Britain’s.

If the insurance industry and the doctors won't stand up against this, I'm pessimistic of our chances.

In light of President Obama's new mandatory youth movement, I propose that we adopt an appropriate digital salute that we can use to demonstrate our loyalty to our honored overlords. Here it is:


There's a little "o" for "Obama" to represent your head, and then a "/" slash to indicate your arm raised in salute to our Father Dear Leader President.

By using this digital salute you will be able to show your respect and love for our master and protect yourself from any uncomfortable questions about your loyalty and subservience.

I can promise you that my daughter will never take part in Obama's "national service" organization.

The House passed a bill yesterday which includes disturbing language indicating young people will be forced to undertake mandatory national service programs as fears about President Barack Obama’s promised “civilian national security force” intensify.

The Generations Invigorating Volunteerism and Education Act, known as the GIVE Act, was passed yesterday by a 321-105 margin and now goes to the Senate.

Under section 6104 of the bill, entitled “Duties,” in subsection B6, the legislation states that a commission will be set up to investigate, “Whether a workable, fair, and reasonable mandatory service requirement for all able young people could be developed, and how such a requirement could be implemented in a manner that would strengthen the social fabric of the Nation and overcome civic challenges by bringing together people from diverse economic, ethnic, and educational backgrounds.”

Section 120 of the bill also discusses the “Youth Engagement Zone Program” and states that “service learning” will be “a mandatory part of the curriculum in all of the secondary schools served by the local educational agency.”

I would have thought that President Obama would be against slavery. Surprise! It's hope and change!

(HT: Gateway Pundit, Free Republic.)

In a strikingly cynical move Notre Dame, a Catholic university, has invited President Obama to be their 2009 commencement speaker despite the fact that Obama is the most pro-abortion president in history.

University President Fr. John Jenkins responded to criticism regarding the announcement of President Barack Obama as the 2009 Commencement speaker by clearly making a distinction between honoring the president and supporting his political views. ...

"The invitation of President Obama to be our Commencement speaker should in no way be taken as condoning or endorsing his positions on specific issues regarding the protection of life, such as abortion and embryonic stem cell research," Jenkins said.

These "crucial differences" in positions on the protection of life are not being ignored in extending the invitation to the president, Jenkins said, but rather can be used as a catalyst for dialogue.

Spoken like someone who truly does not believe that killing unborn babies is akin to murder. Would Notre Dame invite anyone to speak on campus who believed that slavery was an acceptable public policy? Obviously not, and obviously not as an "honored" commencement speaker.


Much more.

Some insight into the economics of prostitution.

“I only charged $300 when I lived in San Francisco,” Andrea says. Unlike most industries, escorts can charge higher prices when they are in greater supply. This is because price is one of the few metrics sex suppliers can use to convey quality. (In this way it is not unlike the hedge-fund industry.) There are only about 30 VIPs in San Francisco, but nearly 100 in New York, so Andrea can charge more here. The customer demographic is also wealthier, and a higher price deters customers from bargaining, which is considered poor taste.

In any non-competitive industry, setting a price is a supplier's way of communicating value to a customer. When information is imperfect or asymmetrical (ie, when customers don't know enough about a product, or when suppliers are ignorant of their value relative to their competition), prices deviate from their market value and the market becomes riddled with inefficiency. This is why tourists in midtown Manhattan spend too much money on fake antiques, and why my local laundromat will wash and dry my clothing for half the price of rival cleaners across the street.

For a prostitute, the asymmetry is more profound. On the supply side, it is challenging for Andrea to price herself relative to her competition. Despite the publicly available listings of prices, photos and expertise of fellow escorts on Eros, it is impossible to know if these other women provide comparable services. On the demand side customers cannot be certain that the product resembles the advertising. And much of the value is merely hinted at, owing to the illegality of prostitution.

It's also interesting to consider that the prostitutes themselves are probably the biggest winners from our current system of illegality plus lax enforcement. Similarly to marijuana, if prostitution were widely legalized prices would quickly plummet.

Does anyone else find it hard to believe that President Obama is now complaining about the difficulty of the war in Afghanistan by asserting that "Iraq was easier"?

On Afghanistan, Obama said he is looking for a “comprehensive strategy” that stresses diplomacy that includes engagement with neighboring Pakistan. While Obama is studying requests from the military for more troops, he warned that, “there's gotta be an exit strategy. There-- there's gotta be a sense that this is not perpetual drift.”

He said Afghanistan is a more complex problem than Iraq. “Iraq was actually easier than Afghanistan. It's easier terrain,” Obama told Kroft. “You've got a-- much better educated population, infrastructure to build off of. You don't have some of the same destabilizing border-- issues that you have between Afghanistan and Pakistan. And so this is going to be a tough nut to crack. But-- it is not acceptable for us to simply sit back and let safe havens of terrorists plan and plot.”

Is this the same guy who called Iraq a "disaster" two years ago and wanted to retreat ASAP?

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama said Tuesday U.S. combat forces should be out of Iraq by spring 2008 to end "a foreign policy disaster" but he stopped short of endorsing a cutoff in funds. ...

Obama's bill would cap troop levels in Iraq at the early January level of around 130,000, when Bush announced he would send 21,500 additional U.S. forces to Iraq. It would require that troops begin coming home on May 1 with the goal of removing all combat brigades by March 31, 2008.

So if Afghanistan is harder than Iraq, shouldn't our President be retreating as fast as his little legs can carry him?

Or, I don't know, maybe he should have looked for an easier job.

Update: Not that Obama was paying much attention to Iraq.

More: Obama lacks "basic understanding" of the War on Terror:

The other illuminating moment in the interview came when Kroft brought up Dick Cheney’s criticism of closing Guantanamo Bay. Again, the unbearable lightness of Barack Obama came shining through like a beacon. Here is the first key quote from Obama’s response,
“After all these years, how many convictions came out of Guantanamo? How many terrorists have actually been brought to justice under the philosophy that is being promoted by Vice President Cheney? It hasn’t made us safer….”

If Obama believes that the purpose of Gitmo is to get “convictions” of terrorists, you have to question whether he has even the most basic understanding of the war on terror he’s currently in charge of fighting.

Gitmo is there to hold captured terrorists, to keep them from killing more Americans, and for interrogations that are designed to gain information for that same purpose.

I'd totally buy one of these car dog sacks if I thought I could get away with it.

(HT: RB, AutoBlog, The Presurfer.)

Remember when the Prime Minister of the UK, our closest ally, gave President Obama a pen holder made from an anti-slavery ship that was the sister of the ship that the President's desk is made from? And in return President Obama gave Gordon Brown a stack of DVDs? Well it turns out that the crappy DVDs we gave to our closest ally can't even be played in Europe thanks to their copyright encryption.

Now it turns out Brown can't play the discs because of region-specific limitations, The Daily Telegraph reports.

DVD players are coded to limit themselves to material meant for specific geographic areas. The United States and Canada are Region 1. Western and Central Europe are Region 2.

Is it too much to ask that we have one humiliation-free day from our new President?

Another day, another Presidential gaffe.

But then came the foot-in-mouth moment: "It's like the Special Olympics or something," the president said.

That's no way to talk about the Treasury! You're going to hurt Timmy's feelings!

Or maybe the President is referring to the State Department? Or his own gag gifts to the UK?

It began with the president joking about how bad a bowler he is.

Toward the end of his approximately 40-minute taping on the "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno," Obama talked about how he'd gotten better at bowling and had been practicing in the White House bowling alley.

"I bowled a 129," he told Leno.

"That's very good, Mr. President," Leno said sarcastically.

But then came the foot-in-mouth moment: "It's like the Special Olympics or something," the president said.

Oh, bowling. Well gosh, he should apologize ASAP.

"He expressed his disappointment and he apologized, I think in a way that was very moving," Tim Shriver, the chairman of the Special Olympics board, told "Good Morning America" today. ...

"He was very sincere, expressed an interest and an openness in being more engaged in the movement and said he was a fan of the movement and I think importantly he said he was ready to have some of our athletes over to the White House to bowl or play basketball or help him improve his score."

I look forward to President Obama's televised basketball and bowling match-ups against the Special Olympians.

Full Disclosure reports that attorney Richard Fine has been sentenced to indefinite incarceration by a judge who refused to recuse himself when it was revealed that he had illegally accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars from the other party in Fine's case.

The hearing involved the case of Marina Strand Colony II Homeowners Association vs County of Los Angeles and was prompted by attorneys representing the Del Rey Shores Development who sought to collect legal fees awarded to them. Richard Fine challenged the credentials of the Debtor Court Referee and Judge Yaffe who he claimed had been receiving illegal payments, estimated to be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars from the County Board of Supervisors since 1988. ...

This extraordinary judicial action of ordering the indefinite incarceration of such a prominent attorney whose long and distinguished career included service in the U. S. Department of Justice in Washington D. C. followed an intensive exchange where attorney Fine objected to Judge Yaffe's failure to disqualify himself. According to Richard Fine, Judge Yaffe along with all of the Los Angeles County judges have each been accepting up to hundreds of thousands of illegal dollars from the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, that is specifically prohibited by the California Constitution and the Canons of Judicial Ethics. ...

In concluding his argument before Judge Yaffee's ruling, Richard Fine noted on the record that the California Legislature, the Governor and Judicial Council, all have admitted and recognized the illegal and criminal acts committed by Judge Yaffe and all Los Angeles Superior Court Judges and Supervisors when the Governor signed into law the State Budget legislation this February. Inserted into the budget bill was a provision granting Judges and elected officials immunity for criminal acts specifically prohibited by the State Constitution.

Obviously, if Judge Yaffe had recused himself he would have implicitly been admitting that no Superior Court Judges could preside over any case involving the County of Los Angeles.

Larry Kudlow passes along a rumor that Secretary Tim Geithner may be on his way out due to the mounting AIG-bonus scandal.

And as for the $165 million or so in AIG bonus payments, the Obama administration — including the president, Treasury man Tim Geithner, and economic adviser Larry Summers — knew all about them many months ago. They were undoubtedly informed of this during the White House transition.

So there’s no big surprise. Nobody should be shocked. But President Obama is doing his best play-acting ever. He knows full well that the nationwide outcry against federal bailouts and takeovers is only going to get worse on his watch. His poll numbers are already falling, and this AIG episode is going to pull them down more. ...

What’s more, AIG is acting as a conduit for taxpayer money that is being sent to dozens of derivative counterparties, including foreign banks and American banks like Goldman Sachs. If we’re going to bail out all these other firms, why not bail them out in full taxpayer view? Why is the money being laundered furtively through AIG? And where exactly is the end game for AIG? How are the taxpayers going to be repaid?

And what is Treasury man Geithner’s role in all this? He appears to be the biggest bungler in what has become a massive bungling. My CNBC friend and colleague Charlie Gasparino thinks Geithner can’t survive this. I am inclined to agree.

Bad for business, but good for the country.

My daughter has been born, and I haven't changed my mind about not paying for her college education. In addition to the points I made in that earlier post, I believe that:

1. Tuition will get cheaper over time. It's vastly overpriced right now, and I think that will be corrected over the next 18 years.

2. There will be fewer students in the future. According to this Census estimate almost 10% of the population is currently college-age; in 2025 the percentage is predicted to drop to 8.7%. Fewer college students among a larger population means more loans and grants for future students. We're at a mini-peak for that age group right now, which (along with the credit freeze) is why college is so expensive at the moment.

3. As I said before: no one will lend me money for retirement. Additionally, my wife is younger than I am and will need to live off our retirement savings for longer than I will.

Why exactly are American taxpayers bailing out foreign banks?

I added up the various lists provided by AIG by country (see below), and the results were quite revealing. About $44 billion went to counterparties headquartered in the U.S., such as Goldman Sachs and states such as California and Virginia.

But as I expected, the majority of the funds—$58 billion—went to banks headquartered outside the U.S. The big winners were French and German banks, which pulled in $19 billion and $17 billion respectively.

To put these numbers in perspective, remember that the U.S. fiscal stimulus bill passed in February provided only $27.5 billion for highway and bridge construction.

Country AIG-related payments
billions of dollars
US 43.5
France 19.1
Germany 16.7
UK 12.7
Switzerland 5.4
Netherlands 2.3
Canada 1.1
Spain 0.3
Denmark 0.2

So me, my daughter, and my grandkids will be paying extra taxes to cover the losses of these foreign banks. Uh, why?

This is almost too embarrassing/hilarious to be true: President Obama thanks himself in humiliating teleprompter gaffe.

WASHINGTON -- Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen was just a few paragraphs into an address at a St. Patrick's Day celebration at the White House when he realized something sounded way too familiar. Turns out, he was repeating the speech President Barack Obama had just given.

Cowen was set to speak twice at the White House on Tuesday night because there were two different parties going on at the executive mansion. No matter -- he would give the same speech to the two different audiences.

But Cowen was 20 seconds into his second address when it dawned on him that he was giving word for word the speech that Obama had just read from the same teleprompter.

Cowen stopped and looked back at the president to say, "That's your speech."

Obama laughed and returned to the podium to offer what might have been Cowen's remarks. In doing so, President Obama thanked President Obama for inviting everyone over.

Can anyone find the video?

(HT: JW, Gateway Pundit, LGF.)

(Read Part 1.)

Last night I received a letter from the Franchise Tax Board of California -- basically the state's IRS. They've decided to investigate my 2007 taxes too! I guess it could be yet another coincidence, but at some point you've got to wonder....

Of course, the fact that I haven't lived in California since 2006 should make it pretty easy to respond. I didn't pay California taxes in 2007 because I lived in Missouri for the entire year. But still, it's yet more forms to fill out under penalty of imprisonment and impoverishment.

I wonder if I'll be hearing from Missouri next?

(Read Part 1.)

The Debt Star -- This Is Not the Hope You Are Looking For

Lasers are perhaps the only force of nature powerful enough to stop mosquitoes.

In a lab in this Seattle suburb, researchers in long white coats recently stood watching a small glass box of bugs. Every few seconds, a contraption 100 feet away shot a beam that hit the buzzing mosquitoes, one by one, with a spot of red light.

The insects survived this particular test, which used a non-lethal laser. But if these researchers have their way, the Cold War missile-defense strategy will be reborn as a WMD: Weapon of Mosquito Destruction. ...

The scientists envision their technology might one day be used to draw a laser barrier around a house or village that could kill or blind the bugs. Or, laser-equipped drone aircraft could track bugs by radar, sweeping the sky with death-dealing photons.

They now face one big challenge: deciding how strong to make the weapon. The laser has to be weak enough to not harm humans and smart enough to avoid hitting useful bugs. "You could kill billions of mosquitoes a night, and you could do so without harming butterflies," says Mr. Myhrvold.

Well, mosquitoes are a good start; we can worry about how to kill the butterflies later.

(HT: NW.)

I'm not sure I agree with Neal Boortz's assertion that the "tea party" movement sweeping the nation is a waste of time.

OK .. I'm going to make some people mad with this one, but would you folks please put this asinine "tea party" idea to rest? I'm just a wee-bit tired of hearing excited stories about people sending tea bags to their congressmen. Sorry ... but how LAME!

OK .. first of all; these tea bags are NOT getting to the people you're sending them to. Do you remember 9/11? Do you remember the anthrax scares that came along after 9/11? Well ... maybe you also remember that they set up a mail processing facility for members of congress after the anthrax letters were sent. Now you folks actually think that your tea bags are going to go ripping through that mail processing facility and end up being dumped on some congressman's desk? Yeah ... and Obama's going to give a speech without a teleprompter any day now.

I agree that the "tea parties" alone won't accomplish much, but they're great publicity and a good starting point for a more active movement. They're symbolism, but sometimes symbols precede substance. That's what our elected officials should be afraid of.

(HT: RB.)

I'm continually disgusted by our willingness to sacrifice our liberty on the altar of the economy. America wasn't built on the dream of a strong economy, but on the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Since when do Americans accept the sticky tentacles of government intrusion merely on the promise of a strengthened economy?

I say screw that. I'd rather have the economy collapse and retain my liberty than be taxed and regulated to death to restore the wealth that was lost in the past six months.

What's worse, the taxes and regulations are almost certain to fail, doing nothing more than propping up zombie banks and failed industries. In the end, we'll lose our wealth and our liberty.

FerFAL discusses his experience after the 2001 economic collapse of Argentina, and it's required reading for any survivalists out there.

Also useful: ammo search engine and body armor

I just went for a very short, very slow run, and I miss it so much. I hurt my knee several years ago and I quit running to save my joints... now I just use an elliptical machine. It's ok, but boy, nothing beats a good run.

Matthew 15:14, Jesus: "Leave them; they are blind guides. If a blind man leads a blind man, both will fall into a pit."

Unfortunately, as Jeff Pope points out, we're in a worse spot: the blind are leading the sighted.

In reality, the only generally held expertise in Congress or the White House is politics — the gaining and using of power through the political process. This requires skills in public speaking, image building, press manipulation, and fundraising, among other things. The important matters of the country, however — the economic, social, and environmental issues so pressing in America today — require experience and knowledge of complicated and technical areas they as a group have no experience in. Experience in military tactics, leadership, logistics, and battlefield strategy: low. Experience in or exposure to day-to-day business management: none. Medical experience or education: none. Health care services, hospital administration, drug development, and approval experience: none. Experience or training in energy production and refining: none. Engineering education or experience, as in engine mechanics, fuel usage, electrical generation and transmission, and structural design: none. Knowledge, education, or direct experience in ecology, conservation, animal biology, ecosystem dynamics, oceanography, or atmospherics: none. Experience in farming, crop determination, animal husbandry, dairy or meat production, animal health, and hormone usage: none. Hands-on experience in manufacturing management, union negotiations, labor contract detail, OSHA laws and regulation, and safety issues at the factory level: none. Finance, banking, international trade, and currencies, none. Driving a truck: none.

Collectively, the American populace possesses great expertise in all these areas and is increasingly disapproving of the government’s interventions. They see a need for prudence and extreme caution in deciding complex and potentially dangerous issues. Yet Congress commits trillions in a headlong rush despite knowing the waste and corruption the spending contains. Without a thorough examination and debate. And without any apparent comprehensive plan. ...

The act of voting itself has been degraded not only because incumbents are rarely defeated, but more because arrogant people in government act with impunity even when the will of the majority is both clear and overwhelming in its disapproval. There is simply no effective way to stop them at this time.

I hope Mr. Pope is wrong and that voting is still effective. If it's not, then at some point the "governed" will withdraw their consent.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

Princess Leia: "The more you tighten your grip, Tarkin, the more star systems will slip through your fingers."

The flight of profitable companies from the United States to low-tax countries is accelerating thanks to President Obama's determination to increase taxes on corporations and the wealthy.

ZUG, Switzerland, March 12 (Reuters) - The tidy towns and mountain vistas of Switzerland are an unlikely setting for an oil boom.

Yet a wave of energy companies has in the last few months announced plans to move to Switzerland -- mainly for its appeal as a low-tax corporate domicile that looks relatively likely to stay out of reach of Barack Obama's tax-seeking administration. ...

Over the past six months companies including offshore drilling contractors Noble Corp and Transocean, energy-focused engineering group Foster Wheeler and oilfield services company Weatherfield International have all announced plans to shift domicile to Switzerland.

"Switzerland has a stable and developed tax regime and a network of tax treaties with most countries where we operate," Transocean Chief Executive Bob Long said in a statement in October, when it announced its move. "As a result, the redomestication will improve our ability to maintain a competitive worldwide effective corporate tax rate."

Guido Jud, head of Zug's tax office, said about 1,200 companies had set up shop there in 2008 -- in line with the long-term average, though it is difficult to assess how many of those are foreign companies until they file tax returns.

Swiss cantons are free to set their own tax rates. For example in Zug, corporate tax is about 16 percent but can fall as low as 9.5 percent for companies that do most of their business outside Switzerland. That compares with an average global corporate tax rate of 25.9 percent, according to consultancy KPMG.

But lucky us, we'll get to keep General Motors, Chrysler, Citigroup, AIG....

The Sleeper family of Festus, Missouri, are selling their cave house (or trying to refinance, depending on the story you read).

Some details:

* 17,000 square foot house in Festus, MO.
* 3 “chambers” — a front chamber that contains three bedrooms; a middle chamber that holds the laundry room, storage, and a spare bath, and the back chamber that still has the stage where Ted Nugent, Bob Seger, Ike and Tina Turner, the MC5 and many other bands performed.
* 2.8 scenic, partially wooded acres. Very private, although very close to town, just several blocks from shopping, dining, and other conveniences.
* Energy efficiency: Geothermal and passive solar keep the home comfortable year-round without a furnace or air conditioning.
* Kitchen: The kitchen is the crowning jewel of the house, with nearly 400 square feet and a floor plan that lends itself well to cooking for one person, two, or parties of a hundred guests. Some of the features include a customizable Jenn-Air cook top, two convection ovens, Kitchen-Aid triple sink, large island with secondary sink and breakfast bar, and granite tile countertops.
* Water features: The property has at least three groundwater springs, one accessible via a cistern in the middle chamber of the cave, one that yields an average of 100 gallons a day that drips into an indoor pond in the front chamber, and one near the woods that creates a shallow pond. During heavy rain, the property gets as many as fourteen beautiful waterfalls from the cliffs.

That's a pretty cool house. To bad I can't move it....

(HT: LM.)

Michael Spencer at the Christian Science Monitor claims that the evangelical church structure is about to collapse.

We are on the verge – within 10 years – of a major collapse of evangelical Christianity. This breakdown will follow the deterioration of the mainline Protestant world and it will fundamentally alter the religious and cultural environment in the West.

Within two generations, evangelicalism will be a house deserted of half its occupants. (Between 25 and 35 percent of Americans today are Evangelicals.) In the "Protestant" 20th century, Evangelicals flourished. But they will soon be living in a very secular and religiously antagonistic 21st century.

This collapse will herald the arrival of an anti-Christian chapter of the post-Christian West. Intolerance of Christianity will rise to levels many of us have not believed possible in our lifetimes, and public policy will become hostile toward evangelical Christianity, seeing it as the opponent of the common good.

Millions of Evangelicals will quit. Thousands of ministries will end. Christian media will be reduced, if not eliminated. Many Christian schools will go into rapid decline. I'm convinced the grace and mission of God will reach to the ends of the earth. But the end of evangelicalism as we know it is close.

He paints a bleak picture, but even if he's right it will not mean the end of Christianity. Perhaps the end of Christianity as a dominant world culture, but Christianity isn't primarily a culture, it's a faith. Historically Christianity thrives in persecution (and has an easier time staying doctrinally sound).

RB sent me this link with a letter that Glenn Beck read on the air about so many taxes you can't even pay them all.

Dear IRS, I'm sorry to inform you that I'm not going to be able to pay the taxes owed on April 15th, but all is not lost. I paid these taxes, accounts receivable tax, building permit tax, CDL tax, corporate income tax, dog license tax, federal income tax, unemployment tax, gas tax, hunting license tax, fishing license tax, waterfowl stamp tax, inheritance tax, inventory tax, liquor tax, luxury tax, Medicare tax, city tax, school and county property tax up to 33% the last four years. Real estate tax, Social Security tax, road use tax, toll road tax, state and city sales tax, recreational vehicle tax, sales franchise tax, state unemployment tax, federal excise tax, telephone tax, telephone federal state and local surcharge tax, telephone minimum usage surcharge tax, telephone state and local tax, utility tax, vehicle tax, registration tax, capital gains tax, lease severance tax, oil and gas assessment tax, Colorado property tax, Texas, Colorado, Wyoming, Oklahoma, Mexico sales tax and many more I can't recall and I've run out of space and money. When you do not receive my check April 15th, just know that it was an honest mistake. Please treat me the same as the way you've treated Congressman Charlie Rangel, Chris Dodd, Barney Frank, ex-congressman Tom Daschle and, of course, your boss, Timothy Geithner. No penalties, no interest. PS, I'll make at least a partial payment as soon as I get my stimulus check.

Ed Barnett, Wichita Falls.

Looks like the letter was originally written to the editor of the Wichita Falls, Texas Times Record News. Best of luck to Mr. Barnett!

A couple of professors from Washington University here in St. Louis are arguing that intellectual property should be abolished, or at least significantly reformed.

Abolishing patent and copyright law sounds radical, but two economists at Washington University in St. Louis say it's an idea whose time has come. Michele Boldrin and David K. Levine see innovation as a key to reviving the economy. They believe the current patent/copyright system discourages and prevents inventions from entering the marketplace. The two professors have published their views in a new book, Against Intellectual Monopoly, from Cambridge University Press.

"From a public policy view, we'd ideally like to eliminate patent and copyright laws altogether," says Levine, John H. Biggs Distinguished Professor of Economics. "There's plenty of protection for inventors and plenty of protection and opportunities to make money for creators. It's not that we see this as some sort of charitable act that people are going to invent and create things without earning money. Evidence shows very strongly there are lots of ways to make money without patents and copyright." ...

Boldrin and Levine promote a drastic reform of the patent system in their book. They propose the law should be restored to match the intent of the U.S. Constitution which states: Congress may "promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writing and discoveries."

They call on Congress to reverse the burden of the proof on patent seekers by granting patents only to those capable of proving that:

• their invention has social value

• a patent is not likely to block even more valuable innovations

• the innovation would not be cost-effective absent a patent

It's such a radical idea that I didn't think of abolishing intellectual property until 2003!

(HT: RD.)

(Read Part 1.)

I'm extremely grateful for the outpouring of support I've received over the past few days from other Americans who are as fed up as I am with the incestuous orgy of corruption in Washington DC. The point of (buy a stamp) is to make a public spectacle of that corruption, and the IRS audit has sure helped the cause! My wife and I have drawn a measure of comfort from the ferocious response of the American people, and we're confident now that the federal bureaucratic machine won't be able roll over us with complete impunity.

I especially want to thank Neil Cavuto, who was gracious enough to have me on his program yesterday to bring attention to this situation. Like I told Neil, there's no proof that I'm being persecuted for political reasons but the timing of the audit is very "curious". I will be extremely happy if the whole issue goes away when I send in my paperwork this week, but if it doesn't I promise that you'll hear more about it.

Here's the video of my segment last night on "Your World":

Thanks also to Glenn Reynolds, Dana Loesch, and Gateway Pundit for drawing early attention to my plight.

(Read Part 2.)

Today I received a letter from the IRS that my 2007 tax returns are being audited. Less than one month after launching

There's a list of "proposed changes" they want to make to my 2007 return that would require me to pay almost $14,000 in taxes, penalties, and interest. All the "discrepancies" they list are bogus and I have documentation to prove it. I keep meticulous records and always pay every cent I owe to Uncle Sam. We're going to talk to a lawyer ASAP.

There is no doubt in my mind that my family is being politically persecuted for making a mockery of our new Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and the Obama administration.

Honestly, we're scared. We haven't done anything wrong (and I've got the documents to prove it in storage) but now the IRS is coming after us and they can destroy our lives with a flick of their pen. I don't want to sound like a coward, but I'm so scared I'm literally shaking. We've got a seven-week-old daughter.

I suppose it's a sort of honor to be persecuted like this. I'd really appreciate it if people would blog about this and link to this post. (And a prayer wouldn't hurt.)

The IRS has been used for political attacks before under the Clinton and Nixon administrations.

Thanks for the support:

(Read Part 2.)

Misspelled eBay listing sells for $300; winner re-lists item and sells it for $500,000.

The item in question is a full bottle of Allsopp's Arctic Ale brewed in 1852, pictured on the left. The item was first listed on eBay with the title: allsop's arctic ale.full and corked with a wax seal. Unfortunately, he left off the second 'p' in Allsopp's. This meant that any potential buyers searching for the correct spelling of Allsopp's would not be able to find it. This error is clearly a typo by the seller as he spells Allsopp's correctly in the description.

The auction had a starting price of $299.00 and closed with a winning bid of $304.00 with 2 bids from 2 different users. The seller was probably satisfied with the sales price until he saw what happened when it was listed on eBay again eight weeks later.

This time Allsopp's was spelled correctly using the auction title: Museum Quality ALLSOPP's ARCTIC ALE 1852 SEALED/FULL!!! The second listing had a much more robust description along with more pictures of the bottle from different angles. The auction received 157 bids from 56 unique bidders and closed with a winning bid of $503,300.00.

Unfortunately the winning bidder didn't pay up. Still, the ale appears to be worth quite a bit more than $300.

Learn to spell.

Despite the fact that stamping currency is entirely legal -- which PayPal does not dispute! -- I've been forced to stop using their payment service to sell Tim Geithner "Tax Cheat!" stamps. There's no doubt in my mind that they shut me down for political reasons, because nothing I'm doing violates PayPal's Acceptable Use Policy in any way.

They're a private company that can do what they want, but I think that whatever low-level employee made this call is way out of line and is acting disgracefully.

Christians are the world's most persecuted group. We American Christians need to be in prayer for our brothers around the world who are suffering to spread the gospel of Christ to unbelievers. Here's one example of Christians being persecuted in Uzbekistan.

UZBEKISTAN – Government Cracks Down on Religious Literature – Forum 18 News

The Uzbekistan government is continuing its persecution of Christians and Baptists, punishing them for distributing free literature. In one case Christians were questioned for seven hours without food or water, according to Forum 18 News. A Baptist believer was fired from his job as an electrician after the secret police confiscated his religious literature. Pray for believers living under intense pressure in Uzbekistan. Ask God to give them courage and endurance. Pray they will forgive their persecutors.

Follow the link for news from more countries.

Something tells me there's more to this story: Secretary Geithner can't find people willing to work for him in the Treasury Department.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The person Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner wanted as his chief deputy has withdrawn from consideration, dealing a setback to the understaffed agency as it struggles to address the worst financial crisis in decades.

Annette Nazareth, a former senior staffer and commissioner with the Securities and Exchange Commission, made "a personal decision" to withdraw from the process, according to a person familiar with her decision. ...

Geithner has been criticized for staffing his department too slowly as it grapples with a banking crisis that has crippled the economy. Uncertainty about Treasury staff also has unnerved financial markets.

Five weeks into his tenure, he has yet to name a single top deputy or assistant secretary. This has left Treasury with too few people authorized to make decisions or represent the department in meetings with stakeholders. ...

Geithner's choice for undersecretary of international affairs, Caroline Atkinson, also withdrew from consideration, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday. ...

Geithner's lack of a senior staff has raised concerns on Wall Street.

"This doesn't help confidence," said David Wyss, chief economist at Standard & Poor's in New York. "Geithner is stuck there all by himself trying to do everything. They don't have anybody confirmed, and Treasury is a big shop to try to run with one person, especially right now."

Which is more likely? That Geithner can't think of anyone to ask, or that he can't find anyone who will say yes and that has paid his taxes?

More on the staffing problems at Treasury:

Critics say part of the problem is that Geithner is flying solo: Not one of his top 17 deputies has been named, let alone confirmed. And without senior leadership, lower-level Treasury employees can't make decisions or represent the government in crucial conversations with banks and others.

As Geithner strives to address the financial crisis, advance Obama's agenda and work with foreign leaders to stave off economic disaster, he's assembled a 50-person "shadow cabinet" of would-be appointees. Those people have received hall passes and can advise Geithner, but they lack any authority. ...

Treasury officials say they are very close to announcing their first slate of appointees, which will include some top-level officials outside the 50-person team now advising Geithner.

The current team includes about half the appointees Treasury will have to name.

It's too bad the President is too busy taking advantage of the banking crisis to actually spend time trying to solve it.

Only a crazy man would behead a random stranger and eat the corpse on a public bus. But crazy men can't be punished, because their insanity requires treatment not punishment. Therefore, beheading random strangers and eating their corpses is no longer a crime in Canada.

WINNIPEG, Manitoba – A Canadian judge ruled Thursday that a man accused of beheading and cannibalizing a fellow Greyhound bus passenger is not criminally responsible due to mental illness. The decision means Chinese immigrant Vince Li will be treated in a mental institution instead of going to prison. The family of victim Tim McLean said Li got away with murder.

Dick Morris warns of hyperinflation when the recession ends and he's probably right; he also implicitly makes a great case for equities as a hedge against inflation.

In the last five months, according to the Federal Reserve Board, the money supply in the United States has increased by 271 percent. It has almost tripled.

Have car sales tripled? Home purchases? Consumer spending? Corporate investment? Not only have they not tripled, they have all declined more sharply than they have since at least the recession of 1981-82, and perhaps since the Great Depression.

So where is the money? If it isn’t being spent, where is it?

It is being parked, squirreled away. Consumers are using it to pay down their credit card balances, pay off their mortgages, reduce their student loans, make the payments on the car sitting in their driveway — not the one in the dealer’s lot. Businesspeople are buying T-bills, investing the money and saving it. They aren’t spending, either.

But one day this recession — despite Obama’s best efforts — will end and things will begin to look up again. Then we can expect all of this money to come out of its parking space and get back on the highway of commerce. All at once. The inevitable result will be double-digit hyperinflation.

A lot of the squirreled-away money will pour into the stock market, driving equity value up along with inflation.

President Obama has restored the teeth of the Endangered Species Act with a remarkable claim:

Reversing another Bush administration rule change, President Barack Obama said Tuesday that he will require federal agencies to consult with government wildlife experts when new government projects such as highways or dams might harm endangered or threatened species. ...

"For more than three decades, the Endangered Species Act has successfully protected our nation's most threatened wildlife, and we should be looking for ways to improve it, not weaken it."

As Jonathan Adler points out though, the Endangered Species Act has saved precisely zero species over those decades -- at great expense!

Well over 1,800 species are listed as threatened and endangered under the ESA. As of this morning, when I checked on the FWS website, a total of 46 species have been "delisted" — that is have been removed from the list of threatened and endangered species. Of these, 28 were delisted because of an initial data error in the listing (FWS miscounted or misidentified a species) or due to extinction. (17 and 9 respectively.) Of the remaining species, many of these species' recovery have absolutely nothing to do with the Endangered Species Act. Several bird species, for example, were almost certainly helped by the de facto DDT ban, but this was done in 1972, a year before the ESA was enacted. Several other species, such as some species of Australian kangaroos and birds from Palau, are indeed doing better, but the ESA had no role with these species either. In the few instances in which the ESA might have helped, such as with the Aleutian Canada goose, the key actions had nothing to do with the Act's primary regulatory components. (The goose, for instance, was largely helped by predator control, not controls on private land.) In sum, it is not clear that there is a single species — not one of the 1,000-plus — that has been recovered due to the primary regulatory provisions of the Act. If this is President Obama's idea of "success," I don't want to know what constitutes a failure.

As I have argued with regards to fish, rhinos, and elephants, the best way to protect endangered species is through the free market: by turning them into valuable property. Their owners will then have a financial incentive to maintain the species, and the government won't have to be any further involved.

The only problem with this approach: it doesn't empower government bureaucrats to meddle in private matters, "fix" everything, and run our lives.

It's great that Belkis Gonzalez is facing jail time, but it should be for murder not bogus sop charges.

Belkis Gonzalez, 42, was arrested Tuesday and charged with practicing medicine without a license and tampering with evidence, both felonies, said Ed Griffith, a spokesman for the Miami-Dade State Attorney's office. If found guilty, Gonzalez would face at least a year in prison and up to 15 years.

The teenage mother, Sycloria Williams, has filed a lawsuit alleging that Gonzalez knocked the infant off the chair where she had given birth, and then scooped the baby, placenta and afterbirth into a red plastic biohazard bag, and threw it out.

The charges are bogus because they're politically-based. If Gonzales weren't charged at all there would be an uproar from common-sense Americans who know a baby when they see one; if Gonzales were charged with murder though, the abortion industry would foam at the mouth over the bad/truthful publicity.

The Miami District Attorney is trying straddle the fence by charging Gonzales with felonies that don't address the most significant matter at hand: she murdered a baby. Despicable, all around.

Here's another article about how stocks may be a good hedge against inflation.

Consider a study by two Harvard economists, John Campbell and Tuomo Vuolteenaho, who examined the stock market's relationship to inflation and interest rates over the 75 years from 1927 to 2002. See study

They found that, as a general rule, earnings and inflation tended to move up and down together.

What that means: Stocks are a decent hedge against inflation, at least over the intermediate and long-terms.

This is not as counterintuitive as you might think. When inflation is high and rising, companies are able to raise prices and hence fatten their bottom line. By the same token, when inflation is low, firms' pricing power is correspondingly low.

Another way of summarizing the historical record: Real (inflation-adjusted) corporate earnings tend to be relatively stable, while nominal earnings tend to be relatively volatile.

The mistake that investors therefore make is believing that nominal earnings are immune to inflationary pressures, on both the upside and the downside. Economists refer to this mistake as money illusion.

Despite the fears of John Derbyshire, I'm still buying into the falling market.

(See original Equities and Inflation post that mentions Warren Buffet's perspective on how inflation affects stock prices.)

Really? We've got $900,000,000 just sitting around?

Donors at an international summit in Egypt on Monday pledged a total 5.2 billion dollars to reconstruct Gaza, Egypt's foreign minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit announced on Monday. The figure, promised by 70 countries, was "beyond our expectations," said Gheit.

Saudi Arabia pledged 1 billion dollars for Gaza.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Washington would donate 900 million dollars and vigorously seek to advance peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

"Our response to today's crisis in Gaza cannot be separated from our broader efforts to achieve a comprehensive peace," she said.

It's worth noting that the $1,000,000,000 pledged by Saudi Arabia is also coming from America indirectly through our gasoline purchases. And hey, we're borrowing our money from the Chinese!

First, a Japanese face bank.

Then how about a "cat cafe"?

You then open a sliding door to enter the cafe but before you can go any further, you are instructed to hold out your hands, palms up, while an employee sprays them with disinfectant.

You are then directed to the counter to pay in advance. Six hundred yen (about $5) gets you all the cats you can stroke for an hour. A few hundred yen extra gets you a drink to quench your thirst after all of the heavy petting is over.

After you have removed your shoes, sterilized your hands and paid your money, it's time to get down on your knees and play with the cat of your choice.

Thanks Japan! Now if only I could get cats that would eat coins....

Here's an awesome blog-like site about St. Louis' historic architecture. I bet the city was beautiful in its hey-day... now it's more of a post-apocalyptic no-man's land.

So there have been dozens of tea parties all around the country, but I've yet to read about any of our elected "leaders" making an appearance at any of them. If there are any conservatives left in our government at any level they need to start showing their faces and speaking out in support of this nascent movement.

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