Saturday, May 4, 2013

Cab Thoughts 5/4/13

"Nothing fails in vain." --Taleb

Organizing for Action is Obama's political campaign organization turned "issue advocacy group." A community organizer with an international budget can do a lot of "advocacy." These guys began calling voters the day after the election.
As a tax-exempt 501(c)(4) group, OFA can’t donate data to candidates or national campaign committees. But it can sell it to them at fair-market value, said Paul Ryan, an attorney with the Campaign Legal Center, a political legal watchdog group.
So, they are a money making, opinion changing, tax exempt, politically motivated ad agency?

Santa Muerte, the Mexican cult of the "skeleton saint" that looks exactly like the Grim Reaper, has been condemned by the Catholic Church as "sinister and infernal."

The Kentucky Derby this weekend has five colts trained by Todd Pletcher.The main one is undefeated Verrazano, winner of the Wood Memorial. 
Pletcher also will saddle Overanalyze, Revolutionary, the wonderfully named Palace Malice, and Charming Kitten.
At this point, the capital costs of a coal plant are more than 3 times the cost of a natural gas plant and about 30% more than land wind farms

Last Wednesday Sen. Max Baucus, a key architect of ObamaCare, characterized the law's execution as a "train wreck."

Interesting analogy regarding batteries and solar from Seekingalpha. "Many people think of electricity like water - what you don't use today you have tomorrow, and you can usually wait 15 minutes. The better analogy is air - you need air NOW, and can't wait for 15 minutes for the cloud to blow away. Water tanks are cheap; SCBA tanks are very, very expensive. Imagine all of NYC breathing from SCBA tanks for 24 hours."

Immigration reform is one of the strangest of our new "crises." There can be no doubt that we have a real problem with dangerous, unemployed people coming to the country and disregarding our immigration policies but I can not recall another law where the intent of the law is to benefit the lawbreaker.

Golden Oldie:

A tweet purportedly from the Associated Press just before 1:08 p.m. on 4/23/13 reported two explosions in the White House and that President Barack Obama had been injured. The posting sent the Dow Jones Industrial Average tumbling roughly 145 points in an instant. That is 200 billion dollars in value and I guarantee the perpetrator was short. There is a question which threatens the society more, something like this or the Boston atrocity. This has received remarkably little attention.

On wind turbines as metal sculpture Cuisinarts: Altamont Pass is sited right in one of the most heavily transited bird corridors in the country. The turbine are now shut down during migration seasons.

A particularly distasteful movement is emerging from the writing of Harvard psychologist Mahzarin Banaji. There is growing concern about the disparity of performance and the lack of overt prejudice. The solution? Prejudice is not just negative, it is positive. The good inclinations one has can come from evil sources.
Discrimination today is less about treating people from other groups badly and more about giving preferential treatment to people who are part of our "in-groups."
So, beware of kindness. And friendship. And family.

A peculiar announcement oozed out of the White House press office: President Barack Obama will be holding a moment of silence for the victims of the Boston bombings. At the White House. By himself. No friends, relation, press or other intruders allowed. Just our sensitive President alone with his thoughts......and the White House photographer.

Who was....Mary Renault?
An interesting observation on art and the artist by Jennifer Szala in a New Yorker essay on Oprah's Book Club and the trouble academics have with it: "For literary purists, everything that Winfrey brings — the sales bump, the best-seller status, anything having to do with the word "popular" — no doubt signifies trouble rather than salvation, further proof of the irreconcilable gulf between mass culture and genuine art........This is not to say that such suspicions are necessarily unfounded, but don't they also treat art as some fragile, defenseless object, prone to contamination from simply having too many people experience it, people who might appreciate it (or not) in their own way?"

The FAA still uses ground radar and voice-based communications that were the best technology the 1950s had to offer. Many planes are now equipped with advanced avionics that enable more direct and precise flight paths, but they aren't allowed to fly these faster, safer routes because the FAA can't track their navigation methods.

According to the Solar Foundation, California has more solar jobs than actors and Texas more solar positions than ranchers.

Washington Post/ABC poll asked respondents to evaluate the job Mr. Bush did as president. He now has an approval rating of 47%, higher than at any point since the early months of his second term. Mr. Obama's approval rating in the same survey: 47%.

US government seized $21M from electric car maker Fisker’s reserve account, but is still owed $171M. Fisker spent $600K for every car it sold as it slides toward bankruptcy.

There is a new book out, "How to Create the Perfect Wife," about the efforts of the famous and wealthy 18th Century intellectual, Thomas Day--best known for his anti-slavery efforts--to make high-minded and philosophical ideas flesh. Encouraged by Rousseau's 1762 novel, Emile, which praised man's basic nature, denigrated the effects of civilization and advocated experiential learning and strengthening children by exposing them to the harshness of nature, Day decided to by-pass the negative effects of civilization and build, Pygmalion-like, a wife. He obtained two young girls. In Day's marital education program, after abandoning one of his charges for being "invincibly stupid," he took to toughening the other, Sabrina, by pouring hot wax on her skin and pricking her with needles. It sounds funny but is not. It is a microcosm of the "Tyranny of Good Ideas" that stalked the period and lingers to this day where thoughts always trump--and usually injure--real live people.

How much does health, environmental and safety regulation add to the cost of producing a barrel of oil? According to a new study by Lux Research, it adds about 70 cents per barrel or less than 1%. That does not seem like much. The USA accounts for 39% of global spending to comply with health, safety, and environmental regulations. The USA, however, accounts for about just 8% of global oil production.

Under International Tennis Federation (ITF) rules, players must give their location for at least one hour of each day in case they are required for an out-of-competition drugs test, usually by means of a urine sample. According to their website (, the ITF carried out 21 out-of-competition blood tests in professional tennis in 2011. By comparison, cycling's world governing body UCI conducted 3,314 in the same year.

A new Worldwatch Institute and Deutsche Bank study concludes coal emits twice the amount of carbon as natural gas.

In Slate, Mason Currey reports on W.H. Auden, Jean-Paul Sartre, Ayn Rand and other authors who relied on amphetamines to work. Curry writes that Sartre "turned to Corydrane, a mix of amphetamine and aspirin then fashionable among Parisian students, intellectuals, and artists. The prescribed dose was one or two tablets in the morning and at noon. Sartre took 20 a day, beginning with his morning coffee, and slowly chewed one pill after another as he worked. And Nietzsche had syphilis? Perhaps sometimes these hard to understand concepts are hard to understand because they are incoherent.

Alexander Nazaryan writes about the literary significance of the Caucasus for The New Yorker's literary blog: "And the Caucasus ... has always occupied a mystical place in Russian literature. It is a region of rough natural beauty but also a place of exile, where those who ran afoul of the tsar were sent to ponder their fealty to the empire. A place to conquer but also a place before which to stand in awe. If Russia has a cultural subconscious, it lies east of the Don River." Sort of an intellectual Australia with more weapons and a higher cultural tolerance for adult on children violence?

AAAAnnnnnddddd.....a picture. A cute communist, Camila Vallejo, the Communist candidate for La Florida, Chile (Trouble in the Board Room)

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