Wednesday, May 30, 2007

NYTimes slams Dobbs

Well, the NYTimes does a smackdown on Lou Dobbs, going as far as calling him "The American Idiot".

OK. The NYTimes didn't do that. I did. But you know David Leonhardt wanted to, but he can't in the NYTimes. So I do it for him. Here is some of Leonhardt's real words:

The segment was a profile of Mr. Dobbs, and while doing background research for it, a “60 Minutes” producer came across a 2005 news report from Mr. Dobbs’s CNN program on contagious diseases. In the report, one of Mr. Dobbs’s correspondents said there had been 7,000 cases of leprosy in this country over the previous three years, far more than in the past.

When Lesley Stahl of “60 Minutes” sat down to interview Mr. Dobbs on camera, she mentioned the report and told him that there didn’t seem to be much evidence for it.

“Well, I can tell you this,” he replied. “If we reported it, it’s a fact.”

With that Orwellian chestnut, Mr. Dobbs escalated the leprosy dispute into a full-scale media brouhaha. The next night, back on his own program, the same CNN correspondent who had done the earlier report, Christine Romans, repeated the 7,000 number, and Mr. Dobbs added that, if anything, it was probably an underestimate. A week later, the Southern Poverty Law Center — the civil rights group that has long been critical of Mr. Dobbs — took out advertisements in The New York Times and USA Today demanding that CNN run a correction.

“The invasion of illegal aliens is threatening the health of many Americans,” Mr. Dobbs said on his April 14, 2005, program. From there, he introduced his original report that mentioned leprosy, the flesh-destroying disease — technically known as Hansen’s disease — that has inspired fear for centuries.

According to a woman CNN identified as a medical lawyer named Dr. Madeleine Cosman, leprosy was on the march. As Ms. Romans, the CNN correspondent, relayed: “There were about 900 cases of leprosy for 40 years. There have been 7,000 in the past three years.”

“Incredible,” Mr. Dobbs replied.

Mr. Dobbs and Ms. Romans engaged in a nearly identical conversation a few weeks ago, when he was defending himself the night after the “60 Minutes” segment. “Suddenly, in the past three years, America has more than 7,000 cases of leprosy,” she said, again attributing the number to Ms. Cosman.

To sort through all this, I called James L. Krahenbuhl, the director of the National Hansen’s Disease Program, an arm of the federal government. Leprosy in the United States is indeed largely a disease of immigrants who have come from Asia and Latin America. And the official leprosy statistics do show about 7,000 diagnosed cases — but that’s over the last 30 years, not the last three.

Nice. Good stuff. Here's more:

The way he handled leprosy, it turns out, is not all that unusual. For one thing, Mr. Dobbs has a somewhat flexible relationship with reality.

There is no denying that this country’s immigration system is broken. But it defies belief — and a whole lot of economic research — to suggest that the problems of the middle class stem from illegal immigrants. Those immigrants, remember, are largely non-English speakers without a high school diploma. They have probably hurt the wages of native-born high school dropouts and made everyone else better off.

Finally. Leonhardt calls Dobbs what he is:

He is the heir to the nativist tradition that has long used fiction and conspiracy theories as a weapon against the Irish, the Italians, the Chinese, the Jews and, now, the Mexicans.
Amen brother. Preach on (in a secular, factually accurate manner of course)!

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Warwick Hotel goes ZaZa

I was in the museum district last week and saw the ZaZa name change and wondered what happened to the Warwick name:
"The Warwick Hotel is going from quiet, Old World opulence to bold, sexy and ready to party."
OK. Change is good sometimes.

Who Are These $4 Analysts?

It seems to me like everyone is now a gas industry analyst.:
"Already this spring, gasoline prices have climbed even higher than post-Katrina-and-Rita prices. Analysts say prices are certain to shoot higher — $4 a gallon, perhaps — if and when the season's first storm enters the Gulf of Mexico."
We'll see.

$5 strip-club fee to prevent sex attacks

Yes, the Texas Legislature is in session, so we get all sorts of crazy proposals.
Strip clubs would have to peel off $5 per customer for a new state sex assault prevention fund under legislation approved by the state Senate Wednesday.

The measure, pushed through the House earlier by Rep. Ellen Cohen, would require the clubs to take a daily count of patrons and pay the state $5 for each one. Those records would be subject to audits from the state comptroller.

Of course, there is no causal link between strip clubs and sexual assault, but that is beside the point.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Sony's razor-thin display = Awesome

Sony's new display technology produces a razor-thin picture. I say that is incredible.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Texas Senate OKs bill for school Bible classes

The Texas Senate passed a bill to add Bible study to public school curriculum.
Sen. Craig Estes, R-Wichita Falls, sponsor of the legislation in the Senate, said his legislative intent clearly is to require school districts to offer the Bible course if at least 15 students sign up for it.

However, Rep. Scott Hochberg, D-Houston, noted that the House Public Education Committee specifically removed "shall" from the original legislation, House Bill 1287, which, he said, allows local school districts to decide whether to offer the course, intended to give students a fuller appreciation of religion's role in society.
This is just another attempt to use public schools to indoctrinate children in Christianity. Here is more misleading commentary:
The bill, which awaits approval from the governor, would allow for the study of the Bible to help high schoolers better understand contemporary art, literature and government.
I wonder if the same legislators would favor studying the Koran, Talmud or other religious literature in an effort to better understand "contemporary art, literature and government."

If you want to study the Bible go to Church. There are more than enough of those around.

Hurricanes thrived in cooler seas

I wonder if this study will change the hurricane causality assertions by global warming proponents:
"Hurricanes over the past 5,000 years appear to have been controlled more by El Nino and an African monsoon than warm sea surface temperatures, such as those caused by global warming, researchers said Wednesday.

The study, published in the journal Nature, adds to the debate on whether seas warmed by greenhouse gas emissions lead to more hurricanes, such as those that bashed the Gulf of Mexico in 2005."
Probably not. There is so much emotional investment as well as movie cover art to back away from the hurricane-global warming mythology. We'll see.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Economists Forecast, We'll See

We will put this economic forecast in the "we'll see" column. There is something happening in the economy that is unprecedented in world history. The US has stopped being an independent economy that is not reliant on global growth, not domestic growth. Our ties to China, India, Europe and South America are more important than ever in determining our economic fortunes.

I am watching this closely as all the predictive models just are not working anymore. It could be that I am being overly optimisic and making a foolish mistake that "This time is different." I am well aware of the 1999/2000 time period where most of us were fooled.

All I am saying is "watch out" for a stronger than predicted economy and continued stock market rally. We will see what happens.

S&P 500 passes record close

It took 7 years, but the S&P 500 is finally at record highs. Well...not really on an inflation adjusted basis, but it is a milestone worth noticing.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Gas Prices: Media Gets It Right

Finally, there is one reporter who gets it right on gasoline price movements.:
With crude prices down 25 percent from last summer, prices at the pump should be lower. Right?

In today's economy, though, that type of formula is out the window, a relic from the days when refineries kept crude stocks high during winter months and Americans didn't drive longer and longer distances to get to home, work and play.

Nowadays, pump prices are determined far more by supply and demand for gasoline than by how much traders buy and sell crude for on the open market.

Bravo. Spot on. 100% correct. And it gets even better:
"Forget everything you ever learned or ever read about the connection of crude oil prices to gasoline, because there is a disconnect today," said petroleum industry consultant Tim Hamilton. "All the price of oil does is establish a floor of what the price is going to be in the country."

"What's going to tell you the maximum price is going to be the supply of refined product," he said. "Supply of the finished product is short and the price is going up accordingly, and it's all profit for the refineries."

Other factors are at work. Geopolitical tensions, like the war in Iraq, political unrest in Nigeria and last year's nuclear tension in North Korea, also factor in. And this year's cold April caused a spike in demand, particularly in the Northeast, while seasonal changeover at refineries to meet reformulation requirements play a role as well.
All is not lost. Thank you Jeff Cox for getting it right.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Daimler Gives Chrysler Away

Daimler Gives Chrysler Away:
"DaimlerChrysler announced Cerberus will pay $7.4 billion for 80.1% of Chrysler, but as part of the deal, the German auto maker is injecting slightly more than that sum to cover Chrysler's outstanding debt and restructuring charges and recapitalize the weakened U.S. auto maker. 'Daimler actually paid a dowry to unload Chrysler—it took a $700 million hit on its balance sheet. That speaks volumes about the future they saw for Chrysler under their stewardship,' says Garel Rhys,"
Here, you take it, I don't want it, and let me pay you for the privilege of not owning an American car company.

Chevy and Camry

Chevy and Malibu, side by side:
"Now this is the kind of aggressive marketing that can put GM and Chevrolet back in the battle for America's most popular car. Automotive News reports that Cheryl Catton, Chevrolet's director of car marketing, is encouraging dealers to put a Camry in their showrooms right next to the new Malibu."
These people are clueless! On the day that Chrysler was given away for a song, they think that putting the pauper next to the prince makes him royalty. What a joke. The only possible motivation Toyota could have to do this is to prevent a protectionist backlash. Even that won't work.

Althouse: Newspapers Cause Global Warming

OK. So Ann Althouse did no say it, but I will. What Ann really said:
"I keep reading about how hybrid cars and compact fluorescent lightbulbs can reduce the production of greenhouse gases, but I have yet to see an article about the savings that could be achieved if we were to stop delivery of newspapers and magazines and do all of our news reading on line."
I don't subscribe to a newspaper any longer, but I get five separate teaser newspapers in my driveway each week including the New York times. Guess where they go? In the trash (that is after sitting in the driveway for a week). I wish they would not even waste the gas to drive around my neighborhood and litter on my property.

City of Houston can't keep pension fund promise

City of Houston can't keep pension fund promise:
"Short of layoffs, the city won't meet its full obligation to the municipal pension fund in the next fiscal year, Mayor Bill White says, citing rising public safety and health care costs that are expected to strain resources."
It's happening sooner than I thought it would.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Teachers: What were they thinking?

This goes under the heading of "what were they thinking"? Teachers stage fake gunman attack on sixth graders
"Staff members of an elementary school staged a fictitious gun attack on students during a class trip, telling them it was not a drill as the children cried and hid under tables.

The mock attack Thursday night was intended as a learning experience and lasted five minutes during the weeklong trip to a state park, said Scales Elementary School Assistant Principal Don Bartch, who led the trip.

'We got together and discussed what we would have done in a real situation,' he said.

But parents of the sixth-grade students were outraged.

'The children were in that room in the dark, begging for their lives, because they thought there was someone with a gun after them,' said Brandy Cole, whose son went on the trip."
I swear. People don't think things through. This was clearly an inappropriate exercise for 6th graders. I don't have kids, but if I did, this is not the kind of thing I would want to have my child participate in. In fact, I cannot think of any parent who would.

I wonder how long it will be before someone gets fired.

Everybody is Going Green

Showing that is it is never to late to jump on the bus (a biodiesel one at that), Murdoch goes green:
"In one of the most unexpected conversions since Saul of Tarsus hit the road to Damascus, Rupert Murdoch is turning into a green campaigner. He is making the whole of his worldwide operations carbon neutral and setting out to 'educate and engage' his readers and viewers about global warming."
We'll see if he flies commercial.

Obama's Tells the Truth to Detroit

This is not a political blog, but the topic of Detroit automakers stepped to the forefront with tough talk from Barack Obama:
"This week, Sen. Barack Obama attempted to fuel his presidential run with a scalding speech to the Detroit Economic Club, castigating Motown's big wheels for driving our dependence on foreign oil. 'For years, while foreign competitors were investing in more fuel-efficient technology for their vehicles, American automakers were spending their time investing in bigger, faster cars,' Obama told an audience stunned into silence after greeting him with a standing ovation.'Whenever an attempt was made to raise our fuel efficiency standards, the auto companies would lobby furiously against it, spending millions to prevent the very reform that could've saved their industry. Even as they've shed thousands of jobs and billions in profits over the last few years, they've continued to reward failure with lucrative bonuses for CEOs.'"
And it will the be death of the American automobile industry. The death watch has already started.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Caplan on Economic Ignorance

Via Cafe Hayek:
Unfortunately, most people resist even the most basic lessons of economics. As every introductory teacher of the subject knows, students are not blank slates. On the first day of class, they arrive with strong -- and usually misguided -- beliefs about economics. Convincing students to rethink their anti-market views is no easy task.

The principles of economics are intellectually compelling; but emotionally, they fall flat. It feels better to believe that greedy intentions imply bad consequences, that foreigners destroy our prosperity and that price controls are a harmless way to transfer income. Given these economic prejudices, we should expect policies like steel tariffs, farm subsidies and the minimum wage to be popular.

No kidding. Talking about basic economics with those thoroughly indoctrinated in the socialist agenda is quite daunting. I cannot even convince people that benefits are another source of value transfer between employer and employee. If one cannot grasp that simple concept, what success with there be with the minimum wage and tariffs discussions?

Friday, May 11, 2007

Warren Lost Does the Same Thing

I find this comment by Elizabeth Warren to be quite interesting. Third Way Lost:
"The numbers cited by 'progressive economists' are plain old Census numbers, not some flukey, small-sample study. What Third Way doesn't say in the press release is that they arrived at the new $70,000 number by cutting out all young earners and all old earners. Since those age groups tend to have lower incomes, income for the remaining subset increases. This is just a third-grade math trick: cut out those who make less money, and the median rises. Third Way might have added that if you cut out those who earn more money, the 'median' income is lower. Either way, cutting out wide swaths of the population doesn't change the fact that the family in the middle earns $45,000."

First of all, Warren cannot even keep her own numbers straight. The average middle-class family does not make $45,000 but $56,194. My source is here. Where is Warren's? Of course, if you scroll down my source, a family with the wife not in the workforce does make $44.457, but Warren does not specify that statistic, just families in general. Tsk, tsk Professor Warren, choosing lower income data instead of the more relevant figure.

But, this is old hat. See what I mean:
A fully-employed male today earns less (in inflation adjusted dollars) than his father earned back in 1972.
That is interesting. She is incorrect on two points. According to the Census Bureau here (page 45), a fully employed male made $41,258 in 1972. In 2005, he made $41,386. According to the math they taught at my school, $41,386 is not less than $41,258. Second, Warren continues to choose to include irrelevant populations (single males) instead of the more significant one (married males). After all, married males head most of the families that Warren is worried about. This appears to be Warren's third grade math trick: include irrelevant lower-waged workers to bring the median down. For this relevant population (married males), there median income has gone from $44,401 in 1975 (the first year the data was available) to $50,524 in 2005. Hardly stagnant.

Someday, I may have the time and inclination to dissect her expense data. That would complete the destruction of the the "Two-Income Trap" mythology.

Greenspan behind the curve

I hate to say this, but Alan Greenspan does not understand what is going on in the world anymore when he predicts this:
Further gloom gathered over the US economy today as retail sales lurched lower while former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan issued a fresh warning that the world's largest economy could be headed into recession.
The world is no longer a collection of regionally independent economies - we are all interdependent. Therefore, the recession predictive indicators of the past no longer apply. In other words, despite all the economic situation that indicated recessions of the past - housing downturn, consumer spending drops - the US economy is not in a recession already. The global economy is growing which is buffering the US from recessionary pressures. The proof is in the stock market and tax receipts, all at all-time highs. This is not to say there are not troublesome trends or that the business cycle is broken. Believing such would be delusional. All I am advocating is a new approach at looking at the global economic factors instead of just US factors. This is why I think Greenspan is behind the curve.

Time will tell.

Leave Lance Alone you Jerks

They just won't leave Lance Armstrong alone.:
"Floyd Landis claims the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency's lead attorney approached his lawyer offering 'the shortest suspension they'd ever given an athlete' if Landis provided information that implicated Lance Armstrong for doping."
Jerks. Of course, I want to use stronger words, but this is a family blog.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Happiness, for What It Is Worth

What can we learn from "happiness" research?
"If you take happiness research at face value, you'll see that the U.S. and similar societies are doing swimmingly, contrary to what a number of prominent happiness wonks have argued. The point was to establish that these more or less anti-market arguments fail on their own terms. "
No wonder I am so positive about the present and future.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

The Theory of Pandering

This is not a political blog, but this is more about: theater:
"A reasonable theory of modern politics is that it is all melodrama. People take government less and less seriously, which makes politicians shout louder and louder to get our attention. Whenever a story breaks in the media, whether it be Terry Schiavo or the Virginia Tech killings, politicians rush to get in front of the camera to take advantage of it. That, I would suggest, is a sign of their desperation."

Fact Checking Elizabeth Warren

Elizabeth Warren is Gottlieb professor of law and faculty director of the Judicial Education Program at Harvard University. Her daughter and she are authors of The Two Income Trap. She wrote an article for the Harvard Magazine called The Middle Class on the Precipice which is based in part upon another article titled "Rewritting the Rules: Families, Money and Risk." In this article, she makes a few factual claims that I have attempted to verify. I will state up front that I had a difficult time verifying her sources, specifically because she does not list them in detail in these articles beyond "Source: US Census Bureau" and "Updated from sources cited in The Two-Income Trap". That being said, I think she makes some inappropriate data comparisons that render her conclusions in doubt. Throughout, I provide my backup data sources and analysis. Note: all data in this article is 2005 dollars converted using the Census Bureau's CPI-U-RS.

Issue 1: The inappropriate period comparisons median income for full-time males across time periods. Consider these two paragraphs from the two web articles:
"Today the median income for a fully employed male is $41,670 per year (all numbers are inflation-adjusted to 2004 dollars)—nearly $800 less than his counterpart of a generation ago. The only real increase in wages for a family has come from the second paycheck earned by a working mother. With both adults in the workforce full-time, the family’s combined income is $73,770—a whopping 75 percent higher than the median household income in the early 1970s."(1)
"Today a fully employed male earns $41,670 per year. After adjusting for inflation, that is nearly $800 less than his counterpart of a generation ago. The only real increase in wages for a family has been the second paycheck added by a working mother. With both adults in the workforce full-time, the family’s combined income is $73,770—a whopping 75 percent higher than the household income for the family in the early 1970s."(2)
Source (3)

Please notice a few things. In article 1, it is clear the discussion of a fully employed male's income is the median figure. It is unclear in the 2nd paragraph if the figure is the mean or median. This is important, because it is entirely unclear if the family’s combined income figure is the mean or median. If both are the same (median), then the comparison would be valid. If not, then this is an inappropriate comparison. I had a difficult time finding data on this until I found a Census report. Scroll to page 45 of the PDF (listed as page 38) and you will find data current as of 2005. One will note that in 2005, the fully-employed male earned a median wage of $41,386 versus $39,036 in 1970 or a full $2,350 more. In order to find a time period in which a fully employed male made $800 less in 2004 ($42,160), one would have the cherry-pick the earning figure from 1987 ($42,919) or from 1978 ($42,877). Since Warren does not list the year in which she makes the comparison to 2004 earnings, it is difficult to determine if she intentionally chose peak earnings for the comparison. This is a small deception, but one that is frequently performed by picking convenient starting and ending time periods for which to calculate comparisons.

Issue 2: The comparison of two-income earning families to all families. I attempted to replicate Warren's claim of $73,770 income which was calculated as a 73% increase. According to the Census Bureau, the median income for families with both man and woman in the labor force was $79,424 in 2004 (5). In order for it to be 73% higher than levels in the early 1970's, the figure would have to be $45,909. In 1970, the median income for two-income families was $53,447 (5). This equates to a 49% increase.

The only possible explanation is that Warren wishes to compare two-income families in 2004 with all married couples of the 1970's. True enough, married couples of all types had a median income of $45,785 (5) in 1970, but all married couples had a median income of $65,754 (5) in 2004 or an increase of 44%. This is clearly seen on her graph. I find it inappropriate to compare two different demographic groups and not identify them as such.

Issue 3: The use of the median wages of all males instead of the more significant married male. It is unclear to me why Warren chooses to use less specific data (all males) instead of data collected on married males. Lumping in single men who statistically make less money and, more significantly, do not head the majority of American families, diminishes the effect of the rise in married males' median income. In 1975 (the first year for which the census reports data), a married male working full time made $44,401 (6). By 2005, the median income had risen to $50,524 (7) - not the flat income as reported by Warren. This is a significant statistical deception as the fully employed single male's only increased from $28,976 in 1975 (5) to $30,015 in 2005 (6).

Source: US Census Data, Income Studies of Each Year in Notes. 1975 is the first year where income by marital status was available.

Issue 4: False attribution of the rise in family median income to the entry of women into the work force. She does so here:
The only real increase in wages for a family has come from the second paycheck earned by a working mother.
Of course, it has been demonstrated that the fully employed, married male's median income was anything but flat. I submit there are three other possible explanations in the rise in the family's median income:
  1. The percentage increase in married women working full-time
  2. The percentage increase in married men working full-time
  3. The increase in the fully-employed married female's median wage
This graph demonstrates that 33% of the married women worked full-time in 1975 (6). That increased to 40% by 2005 (7). Over the same time frame, the full-labor participation of married men increased from 63%(6) to 66% (7). So both numbers one and two above demonstratively played a role in the family's median wage increase.

The fully-employed married woman's wage also increase from $24,189 (6) to $35,267 (7) between 1975 and 2005 or a whopping $11,087. Consider this table:

I would submit that the significant increase in households led by single moms and dads has negatively affected family income trends. An increase of 9 percentage points for women-only head of households and 5 percentage points for men-only indicates a major demographic shift unaccounted for by Prof. Warren.

Warren also obliquely implies that hardly any women worked back in the 1970's.
This “added-worker effect” could buttress the safety net offered by unemployment insurance or disability insurance to help families weather bad times. But today, a disruption to family fortunes can no longer be made up with extra income from an otherwise-stay-at-home partner.

But today, a disruption to family fortunes can no longer be made up with extra income from an otherwise-stay-at-home partner.
As the data clearly indicates, 33% of married women already worked full-time by 1975. That only increase 7 percentage points by 2005, demonstrating that there are still 60% of married women that can either increase their hours or join the labor force should their partner falter.

Issue 5: The exclusion of benefits from the wage calculation. Throughout the comparison of the families of today with the families of the past, the discussion of the increasing role of benefits eludes Prof. Warren. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average benefits in 1986 (the first year the data is available) was $6.08 an hour or $12,167 for someone working a typical 2000 hour year. By 2005, that had risen to $7.09 or $14,180. That is a 16.5% increase over that time period. Since the data is the average, not median, I will not inappropriately compare median wages to average benefits increases. One, however, can draw the conclusion that it is inappropriate to discuss employee compensation without including benefits.

In conclusion, it is my belief that these documented factual errors demonstrate the flawed analysis methodology of the Two Income Trap mythology. The American family certainly is not on the edge of the cliff waiting to fall off. These errors and inappropriate comparisons render the two-income trap analysis invalid or severely damaged.

(1) The Middle Class on the Precipice
(2) Rewritting the Rules: Families, Money and Risk
(3) Rewritting the Rules: Families, Money and Risk
(4) Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2005, P38 (Page 45 of PDF file)
(5)Historical Income Tables - Families
(6)Money Income in 1975 of Families of Persons in the United States P181
(7) Detailed Income Tabulations from the CPS Median income, married male, spouse present used as data for all married males not available in previous comparison periods. Note that the vast majority of married males had spouses present so this is not a significant data departure.

Data for individual years is pulled from the following tables.
1988 (Not available)
1993 (not available)
1994 Men, Women
1995 Men, Women
1996 Men, Women
1997 Men, Women
1998 Men, Women
1999 Men, Women
2000 Men, Women
2001 Men, Women
2002 Men, Women
2003 Men, Women
2004 Men, Women
2005 Men, Women

Life Leakage

'Bonds cheated on wife and game', says Schilling:
"'He (Bonds) admitted he used steroids. There's no gray area,' Schilling said on WEEI. 'He (Bonds) admitted cheating on his wife, cheating on taxes and cheating on the game.'"
This is what happens when you cheat in one portion of your life. It invariably leads to leakage in another part. That is usually what you find in situations like this.

Not Silver Bullets, but Silver BB's -:
No silver bullets yet, alas. But then, you don't always need a silver bullet to have something worthwhile.
As I posted before (not my writing, but Vinod Khosla:):
I find it distressing and bothersome to see how often people assume that we need to find a single silver bullet for our looming oil and/or natural gas challenges, as opposed to relying on a collection of smaller solutions--what I've been calling the "silver BB's" approach

Monday, May 07, 2007

Quote of the Day

I never thought I would pull a quote from the NYTimes, but here it is:
"How much green-standing can we stand? It’s enough hot air to melt Antarctica."

Misleading Headline of the Week: Gas prices hit record high

CNN "reports": "Gas prices hit record high", then in the very first paragraph:
When inflation is factored in, the new price trails the all-time high in March 1981. At the time, gasoline cost $1.35 a gallon -- in today's dollars, that's $3.13 a gallon, said Trilby Lundberg, publisher of the Lundberg Survey.
It is just dishonest to quote a non-inflation figure in the headline and then contradict it in the 2nd paragraph. No wonder the American public displays such economic ignorance. CNN is not helping.

Update and Bump:
The Associated Press is "reporting" an all-time high.

May 7, 2007, 12:37PM
Gasoline prices hit record average of $3.07

CAMARILLO, Calif. — Gasoline prices have surged to a record nationwide average of $3.07 per gallon, nearly 20 cents higher than two weeks earlier, oil industry analyst Trilby Lundberg said Sunday.

The previous record was $3.03 per gallon on Aug. 11, 2006.

That is not nearly as interesting as the comment section:
rjohn wrote:
Just think, back in November gas went to $1.89-.99, Oh yea,...the elections where going to take place..Now Big Oil (The Republicans) are mad at us. One would think with all the oil we're stealing from Irag, it would be much cheaper. I guess, I'm a disenfranchised republican!!

xjarhead wrote:
Hmmm, prices are going up because of market instability, etc., etc., but yet these bloodsucking oil companies are registering record profits. Wake up America! Get off the Lunesta and kick all of these bums out of office.

JuggerNoggin wrote:
I hate the fact that we live in a society of sheep and are just letting this happen. If the cost of oil was really rising or there was an unstable market, the oil companies would not post record profits. Their margins would shrink and profits would be lower. Oil companies are using the war as an excuse to claim "instability" and raise the prices of oil futures, yet they do not relax prices when the instability is gone. There is absolutely no reason gas should be this costly.

Brace for 4 dollar a gallon gas and don't blame anybody but yourself. YOU are the cause.

lilabner wrote:
first gasoline must be rationed, second the republicans must go
Then a lone voice in the wilderness:

GopBob wrote:
The Republicans must go? I thought that's what happened last November. I don't like the price more than anyone else. Even if we had more oil it wouldn't make a difference. Refineries are running at capacity, it's a simple matter of supply and demand. Stop using as much, consolidate trips, drive less, that means everyone. It's amazing the people that don't understand simple market forces and then hallucinate some conspiracy.
Yes. Supply. Demand. That is it.

Let us build or expand refineries and drill oil wells. Then you will see some market forces at work.

Ford slide continues

Ford to close Ohio plant, shut down another for a year
"Ford Motor Co. said today it will close its casting plant in Brook Park, Ohio, outside of Cleveland, in 2009. The plant employs 1,218 hourly and salaried workers."
I don't know how to say it any nicer: It has been nice, but you failed to learn your lesson. Goodbye and goodnight.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Man Claiming He's Jesus Christ

So a man claims he is Jesus. Big deal. Besides, I think he is from Houston.
De Jesús claims he's the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Yep, you read that right. He says he's Him, the Big Man, the Son of God, the King of Kings. And he's not some alcohol-addled homeless guy screaming damnation from a street corner. He's a dapper 60-year-old from Puerto Rico who claims thousands of followers. Along with congregations scattered across the Americas, his ministry, Creciendo en Gracia (Growing in Grace), has a 24-hour cable channel, complete with sermons, news programs and music videos, that reportedly reaches over two million homes.

Having Large families ‘is an eco-crime’

Having large families ‘is an eco-crime’-:
"HAVING large families should be frowned upon as an environmental misdemeanour in the same way as frequent long-haul flights, driving a 4x4 car and failing to reuse plastic bags, according to a report to be published tomorrow by a green think tank."
So, are we talking Nuremberg trials?

Global Warming Non-Consensus

WECN May 2007:
“Climate’s always been changing and it’s been changing rapidly at various times, and so something was making it change in the past,” he told us in an interview this past winter. “Before there were enough people to make any difference at all, two million years ago, nobody was changing the climate, yet the climate was changing, okay?”

“All this argument is the temperature going up or not, it’s absurd,” Bryson continues. “Of course it’s going up. It has gone up since the early 1800s, before the Industrial Revolution, because we’re coming out of the Little Ice Age, not because we’re putting more carbon dioxide into the air.”

Not Honor, but Trust

Every once in awhile, Loren Steffy comes closer to correct. He calls it honor, I call it a lack of trust and trust-building.
Perhaps BP's chairman was speaking literally when he said last week that the fall of Chief Executive John Browne was a tragedy.

In a literal sense, a tragedy involves central character who comes to a disastrous end because of fate, a character flaw or moral weakness.
Trust is built on two things: Character and Competence. It appears that in the case of BP, they were seriously lacking in both. It is like the root of a tree being bad. Like character failings, you cannot see tree roots, but you can see the results.

I have been emailing with someone inside the BP Texas City disaster who has convinced me that my position as to the cause of the tragedy might be incorrect. I am reviewing the information provided and might just change my position on that basis.

Halliburton After the Growth

Halliburton wants to grow::
"Halliburton has to go where the growth is, and in coming years that will be in the Eastern Hemisphere rather than in North America, he said."
Exactly true. The center of gravity for growth in markets Halliburton serves is shifting away from the US and towards the Middle East and Asia. Why be afraid to go where the market is?

Of course, if we allowed more drilling in the US, we might see some oil industry growth here.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

The Seed

I was sent this story by a friend. Hope you like it:
The Seed

A successful business man was growing old

and knew it was time to choose a successor to take

over the business.

Instead of choosing one of his directors or his

children, he decided to do something different. He

called all the young executives in his company


He said, "It is time for me to step down and choose

the next CEO. I have decided to choose one of you.

"The young executives were shocked, but the boss

continued."I am going to give each one of you a SEED

today - one very special SEED. I want you to plant

the seed, water it, and come back here one year from

today with what you have grown from the seed I have

given you. I will then judge the plants that you

bring, and the one I choose will be the next CEO"

One man, named Jim, was there that day and he, like

the others, received a seed. He went home and

excitedly, told his wife the story.

She helped him get a pot, soil and compost and he

planted the seed.

Everyday, he would water it and watch to see if it had

grown .After about three weeks, some of the other

executives began to talk about their seeds and the

plants that were beginning to grow. Jim kept

checking his seed, but nothing ever grew. Three weeks,

four weeks, five weeks went by, still nothing. By now,

others were talking about their plants, but Jim didn't

have a plant and he felt like a failure.

Six months went by--still nothing in Jim's pot. He

just knew he had killed his seed. Everyone else had

trees and tall plants, but he had nothing. Jim

didn't say anything to his colleagues, however. He

just kept watering and fertilizing the soil - He so

wanted the seed to grow.

A year finally went by and all the young executives of

the company brought their plants to the CEO for

inspection. Jim told his wife that he wasn't going to

take an empty pot. But she asked him to be honest

about what happened. Jim felt sick at his stomach, it

was going to be the most embarrassing moment of his

life, but he knew his wife was right. He took his

empty pot to the board room. When Jim arrived, he was

amazed at the variety of plants grown by the other

executives. They were beautiful--in all shapes and

sizes. Jim put his empty pot on the floor and many of

his colleagues laughed, a few felt sorry for him!

When the CEO arrived, he surveyed the room and greeted

his young executives. Jim just tried to hide in the

back. "My, what great plants, trees, and flowers you

have grown," said the CEO. "Today one of you will be

appointed the next CEO!" All of a sudden, the CEO

spotted Jim at the back of the room with his empty

pot. He ordered the financial director to bring him to

the front. Jim was terrified. He thought, "The CEO

knows I'm a failure! Maybe he will have me fired!"

When Jim got to the front, the CEO asked him what had

happened to his seed - Jim told him the story.

The CEO asked everyone to sit down except Jim. He

looked at Jim, and then announced to the young

executives, "Behold your next Chief Executive!

His name is Jim!" Jim couldn't believe it. Jim

couldn't even grow his seed. How could he be the new

CEO the others said?

Then the CEO said, "One year ago today, I gave

everyone in this room a seed. I told you to take the

seed, plant it, water it, and bring it back to me


But I gave you all boiled seeds; they were dead - it

was not possible for them to grow. All of you, except

Jim, have brought me trees and plants and flowers.

When you found that the seed would not grow, you

substituted another seed for the one I gave you. Jim

was the only one with the courage and honesty to bring

me a pot with my seed in it. Therefore, he is the one

who will be the new Chief Executive!"


If you plant honesty, you will reap trust

If you plant goodness, you will reap friends

If you plant humility, you will reap greatness

If you plant perseverance, you will reap contentment

If you plant consideration, you will reap perspective

If you plant hard work, you will reap success

If you plant forgiveness, you will reap reconciliation

So, be careful what you plant now; it will determine

what you will reap later.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Oil Price Predictions

A friend of mine predicted rather publicly on August 6, 2006: "
if I understand this correctly, go fill up your gas tank right away -- your last time under $ 3.00 / gallon? ever? People who don't like our government (among those from whom we import petroleum) may have a great opportunity to squeeze our proverbials."
He used the prospect of the Alaskan pipeline shutdown to support his prediction. He timed the peak of the oil price *to the day*. That is, the peak oil price occurred on August 7, 2006 at 77.05 and then declined precipitously to 50.51 by Jan. 19, 2007 (35%).

Now, on April 30, 2007 the same fellow posts:
"Pickens: Oil-smart ($80 oil this year)"
And of course, the oil price started declining the business day before he posts from $66.45 (April 27, 2007) to today $61.93 (6.8%). Amazing. This guy has called two market tops. I am impressed. Me, I make no predictions on oil prices. Too much can happen with regards to unpredictable events whether it be weather or war. What I don't fall for is the peak oil craze. Human inventiveness will prevail.

Owner of killer pit bull won't face charges

I why not: Owner of killer pit bull won't face charges:
"CONROE — The owner of a pit bull that attacked and killed a man in October will not face charges, said Montgomery County District Attorney Michael McDougal."
I hate to say it, but the people that own these dogs know. They know what they have and enjoy having a powerful animal that is more dangerous than a loaded handgun in the hands of children.

When you have such a dog, you take responsibility for the outcome. Why it is different in this case is a mystery to me.

Gore the Creationist

I find it interesting that Al Gore, a man who has based his entire existence on a concept being judged as scientifically true or false, has the gall to include religion in his talks on global warming. That is, according to a blog called antidelusionist, Al Gore showed the following:
During his live slideshow today, however, he showed his true colors. One of his slides was a quote from Genesis, which he used to show that humans are the stewards of biodiversity. I have no problem with people quoting from the bible (as long as it makes sense), but I found it kind of funny that he went out of his way to announce that he did not mean to push his religious beliefs on people by using the scripture in his slideshow. I didn't really see the need for this disclaimer, because I actually agreed with the use of the scripture.

The slide I found particularly interesting/shocking/sad, was his new(?) slide containing a graph of human population growth over the past couple hundred-thousand years. It started off good. He pointed at the beginning of the graph, showing the population of humans on Earth from 200,000 years ago, and referred to the "rise of humans."

Cool beans. So he believes that Homo sapiens evolved from other hominid ancestors, right? Nope. In the very same breath, he then continued to explain that according to his religious beliefs, this "rise of humans" was God's creation of mankind - apparently 200,000 years ago. His graph then changed to include the caption "Adam & Eve" above this starting point.

The blogger says it better than I:
Something doesn't add up here. On one hand, he is using science to predict the disastrous outcome of our current actions and rally support for taking proactive measures to make sure bad things don't happen, but on the other hand, he is clinging to stone-age beliefs that another very important area of science has proven wrong (that we humans evolved from other forms of life, and that every organism on Earth has a common ancestor).

I call this incongruence thinking. It is intellectually bankrupt to use science in an attempt to prove global warming and still cling to a concept (Creationism) that has no foundation in science. Further, I wonder how Gore reconciles his belief in a God who commanded humans to go forth and multiple as well as dominate the earth with his view of the pending destruction of mankind. Wouldn't the aforementioned all-powerful God intercede to prevent his Creation from destroying itself? I don't know. To many inconsistencies for me.

Then again, just add this to the list of inconsistencies that the figurehead of Global Warming presents each and every time he appears.

Venezuela Communism Watch

The march towards communism: in Venezuela continues.

May 3, 4:53 PM (ET)


CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) - Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez on Thursday threatened to nationalize the country's banks and largest steel producer, accusing them of unscrupulous practices.

'Private banks have to give priority to financing the industrial sectors of Venezuela at low cost,' Chavez said. 'If banks don't agree with this, it's better that they go, that they turn over the banks to me, that we nationalize them and get all the banks to work for the development of the country and not to speculate and produce huge profits.'"
The world is going to witness, once again, the failure of a communistic economic system to meet the needs of the people. It will be sad to watch.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

NASA Not Thinking

Why are we considering manned flight to Mars ?
CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida (AP) -- How do you get rid of the body of a dead astronaut on a three-year mission to Mars and back?

When should the plug be pulled on a critically ill astronaut who is using up precious oxygen and endangering the rest of the crew? Should NASA employ DNA testing to weed out astronauts who might get a disease on a long flight?

With NASA planning to land on Mars 30 years from now, and with the recent discovery of the most 'Earth-like' planet ever seen outside the solar system, the space agency has begun to ponder some of the thorny practical and ethical questions posed by deep space exploration.
Unmanned flight is so much more economical and easier. Why send a man to do a machine's job?

Why One Solution Only: Nuclear power will save the world

Nuclear power will save the world.
Leading scientists are today expected to back a major expansion of nuclear power as a way of saving the world from global warming.

Other measures in a United Nations report include the use of GM crops to produce biofuels and the 'capture and storage' underground of harmful CO2 gases."
I've always advocated a Silver BB approach (not my phrase, by I like it). Why not advocate a mixture of renewable energy, shale, oil sands and a bridge via expanded access to existing reserves.

They are Cheating Themselves

Duke MBA cheating scandal:
April 30, 2007, 11:18PM
Duke MBA cheating scandal may reflect national trend

New York Times

Duke University is trying to deal with a cheating scandal involving 34 first-year business graduate students in an era when national surveys have suggested that cheating is widespread among their peers.

In a survey released last September by a Rutgers University professor, 56 percent of business graduate students admitted having cheated, compared with 54 percent in engineering, 48 percent in education and 45 percent in law school. More than 5,300 students at 54 universities were surveyed from 2002 to 2004."
The sad part about it is they are only cheating themselves out of a good education. When you get out in the world, you cannot hide from yourself. Your competence and character show through. Hopefully, these young men and women will come to learn the facts of life on this subject.

On May Day: Chavez seizes oil fields

Totalitarian Communist takes another step.
May 1, 2007, 3:50PM
Chavez seizes Venezuela's last private oil fields

CARACAS, Venezuela — President Hugo Chavez's government took over Venezuela's last privately run oil fields today, intensifying a struggle with international firms over the development of the world's largest known petroleum deposit.

Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez declared that the Orinoco fields had reverted to state control just after midnight. Television footage showed oil workers in hard hats raising the flags of Venezuela and the national oil company over a refinery and four drilling fields in the Orinoco River basin. Chavez planned a more elaborate celebration later on May Day, the international workers' holiday, with red-clad oil workers, soldiers and a flyover by Russian-made fighter jets.
Personally, I feel sorry for the Venezuelan people. They are the ones who are going to suffer, not ConocoPhillips CEO JJ Mulva. Back in the day, I met him once. Needed a little help with his hand shake.

But no Castro.

Castro misses May Day parade
2.28, Tue May 1 2007

Speculation over the health of Cuban leader Fidel Castro is growing following his absence from the start of a May Day workers parade in Havana.

It appears the 80-year-old is still too weak to appear in public following his emergency surgery for intestinal problems nine months ago.

Sleep Deprivation Spreads

Yeah, so? Welcome to my world. Must be those damn capitalists. We'd all sleep better if we worked 35 hours a week. But then we would not like ourselves much.