Saturday, February 28, 2009

Daytona can wait

feb2809snow There was a time, not too many years ago, when I would have fired up my bike and headed out for Daytona in weather like this.

But that was back when I felt driven to demonstrate my ability to ride in all but the most extreme weather. After all, my heated jacket liner, gloves, seat and handgrips are more than a match for 30-degree weather. The pavement is warm enough that the swirling snow isn't sticking. And it's a cloudy 59 degrees down at Hammond, La., where I would exit I-55 for I-10 east.

I rode from from Nashville, Tenn., to Indianapolis in weather like this, coming home from Bike Week in 1993. And I rode from Baton Rouge to Indy without electrics against plummeting temperatures and snow the last 100 miles in 1986.

In my 300,000+ BMW motorcycle miles, I've courted hypothermia dozens of times and ridden in crazy deluges more times than I can remember. What I do remember is that however proud I was of having finished those rides, I was freaking miserable when I was doing it.

So that's why I'm sitting comfortably at my upstairs office desk, glancing out the window at the snow occasionally, and sipping more of that 5 liter box of cheap Burgundy wine. I'm warm. I'm relaxed. And I know I'll sleep in a comfortable and free bed tonight.

That's the beauty of being old enough that you don't have to prove stuff to yourself. Maria would call it being old enough to "have the stupid knocked out of you."

Bike Week is, after all, a whole week long, which is several days longer than I care to experience anyway. So I'll keep an eye on the Weather Channel and when the forecast for my route to Daytona suits me, I'll load the bike and hit the road.

In the meantime, it's time to refill my wine glass.

Friday, February 27, 2009

A bizarre choice


One of the best things about membership in the BMW Motorcycle Owners of America is the Anonymous Book.

It's a state-by-state, city-by-city listing of phone numbers of BMW MOA members who stand ready to greet/rescue/help/advise/shelter you as you travel. It also has some foreign listings, as well as contact information for all of the BMW motorcycle dealers and MOA-chartered clubs. In short, it's a safety net for the touring BMW rider.

I never leave home without the most recent Anonymous Book in my tank bag.

And it always has an interesting BMW motorcycle-related photo on the cover.

Until this year.

My 2009 Anonymous Book showed up in our mailbox this morning and I almost threw it away, mistaking if for unsolicited junk mail.

The choice of cover art is, well, perplexing.

As you can see, it's a murky nighttime shot of a guy with a helmet reaching for a cup of something being offered by a woman standing in her front door. She has a banister sticking out of her head like an Indian feather - something that should have been Photoshopped away. The only BMW motorcycle-specific thing in the picture is a copy of the BMW MOA Owners News in the mailbox.

It's supposed to convey the idea that MOA members are hospitable to each other, but at first glance it looks like a Halloween trick-or-treat scene. It is, as we photographers say, hard to read. You have to study it for a moment to get the idea the photographer wanted to communicate.

That said, the Anonymous Book is an essential part of my touring kit and no matter how goofy the cover, I'll carry it on my rides for the next year.

But I'm looking forward to a cover next year that instantly says "BMW motorcycle" to me.

Daytona on hold


Even though the sun is shining and the temperature here is in the upper 40s, I'm putting off my departure for Daytona Beach Bike Week.

The reason?

I'd almost certainly catch up with the rain that swept through here last night and travel east with it for hundreds of miserable miles.

And a Saturday departure is out because the temperature is going to drop like a rock and there is snow in the forecast for northeast Arkansas.

Sunday will be dry, but cold. Riding out in the morning will put me in sub-freezing temperatures. With heated jacket liner, gloves and seat, it's do-able. We shall see.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

31 and counting...


All of these ‘movements’ (except for Hawaii) are explicit restatements of what has always been in place, but not necessarily enforced, as detailed by the 10th Amendment.  Hawaii is actually aiming for total sovereignty as it is claimed that Hawaii was never really a state of the U.S.A..

However, it is believed the intent of these bills is to let the federal government know that the states’ sovereignty will not be overwritten… say in case certain gun ban laws get passed, FOCA-type laws, or other “War Time / Martial Law” type plans come into play.  Check them out:


States That Already Are Sovereign / Passed 10th Amendement Restatement Legislature:
  - Arizona (AZ):  
[CLICK HERE (it is a Memorial)]
  - California (CA):   [
  - Colorado (CO):   [CLICK HERE for bill text - HERE for the scan]  *NEW*
  - Hawaii (HI):  
[General info: HERE or HERE -- SCOTUS Case: HERE for docket & HERE or HERE for summary]
  - Louisiana (LA): [CLICK HERE - §26]  *NEW*
  - Massachusetts (MA): [CLICK HERE - Article IV]  *NEW*

  - Oklahoma (OK):   [CLICK HERE and HERE - 99% done... stay tuned! (I'll count it as passed for now :) )*NEW*
  - Texas (TX):   [
THIS WEBSITE has good Republic of Texas info & bill text HERE]
  - Utah (UT): [CLICK HERE and search for HJR003 or HERE for a pdf]  *NEW*

States Claiming Sovereignty:
  - Arkansas (AR):   [CLICK HERE]
  - Georgia (GA):   [
  - Kansas (KS):   [CLICK HERE for bill text - hearing date set for approx. 03/04!]  *NEW*
  - Kentucky (KY):   [CLICK HERE and HERE*NEW*
  - Indiana (IN):   [CLICK HERE]
  - Iowa (IA):   [CLICK HERE and more info HERE]
  - Michigan (MI):   [CLICK HERE (HCR No. 4)]
  - Minnesota (MN): [CLICK HERE - more info HERE and HERE]
  - Missouri (MO):   [CLICK HERE --
CLICK HERE for even more info (but currently broken)]
  - Montana (MT):   [
  - New Hampshire (NH):   [
  - South Carolina (SC):   [CLICK HERE]
  - Tennessee (TN): [CLICK HERE or HERE]

  - Washington (WA):   [

States Planning / Motioning Toward Claiming Sovereignty:
  - Alabama (AL):  
(Sources below*)
  - Alaska (AK):   (Sources below*)
  - Idaho (ID):   (Sources below*)
  - Maine (ME):   (Sources below*)
  - Nevada (NV):   (Sources below*)
  - Ohio (OH):   (CLICK HERE, HERE, and HERE*NEW*
  - Pennsylvania (PA):   (CLICK HERE for page and HERE for text & Sources below*)
  - West Virginia (WV): (CLICK HERE — Bill text HERE)

Source # 1]  &  [Source # 2] for the “pending / planning” states.

States on the ‘Watch List’ (these are not counted in the total & not on the map):
  - Florida (FL):
[CLICK HERE for a petition]

Want to pay to have your car inspected every year?

As a motorcyclist and former Motorcycle Safety Foundation instructor, I have a natural interest in any legislation pertaining to motorcycles.

I did a search yesterday of motorcycle-related bills before the Arkansas Legislature and discovered House Bill 1494.

Sponsored by Rep. Stephanie Flowers, D-Pine Bluff, HB 1494 calls for Flowersmandatory inspection of most motor vehicles at the time of registration and on a continuing annual basis.

This is hardly a new concept. We used to have annual vehicle safety inspections in Indiana before the Legislature realized the program was a waste of time and had no effect on accidents and fatalities.

But here's the kicker. The bill also creates an “Autism Support Fund,” a “Community Health Centers Fund,” and a “Non-Medicare Primary Retiree Fund” and earmarks the inspection fees, which could be anywhere from $10 to $30, to be allocated to those three funds.

The Autism Support Fund is to be used “to provide research in the area of autism and to provide support services for persons with autism.”

The Community Health Centers Fund would be used to fund community health centers in Arkansas. Both would be administered by the Arkansas Department of Health.

The Non-Medicare Primary Retiree Fund would assist active public school retirees who are not eligible for Medicare with the costs of insurance payments. I would be managed by the Employee Benefits Division of the Department of Finance and Administration.

The bill tasks the State Police with inspections and enforcement, but does nothing to defray the program costs to that agency.

Of course, the most outrageous thing about this ill-conceived legislation is that it burdens the motoring public with a hassle and an expense for a regulation that will do virtually nothing for public safety and creates three new bureaucracies that have absolutely nothing to do with motor vehicle safety.

It reminds me of a similar bill that slipped through the Indiana General Assembly a couple of years ago that increased the motorcycle registration fee by $10 and earmarked the funds for spinal cord and brain injury research. It was based on the erroneous assumption that motorcycle accidents account for a disproportionate share of those injuries when, in fact, they do not. The Indiana fix was to drop the $10 motorcycle fee and institute a 30 cent registration increase for all motor vehicles. The legislator still got money for her favorite charity, but at least she could make a case for some link between highway accidents and spinal cord and brain injuries.

No such link exists between a dubious highway safety program and autism, community health centers and public school retirees with health insurance problems.

This is an example of a legislator who is willing to inconvenience and burden all of us to fund her pet projects.

The bill was filed on Feb. 17 and has been referred to the House Committee on Public Transportation where, with any luck at all, it will languish and die.

If you live in Arkansas, please write to your representatives and ask them to kill HB 1494.

Subtle motivation for Iraqi police

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Signs of spring

cropdusterThe first robin of the year used to be the sign of approaching spring back in Indiana.

It must be the first crop duster of the year here in cotton country. I can hear him buzzing my house on his turns this morning.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009



I'm working on a 5 liter box of cheap red wine and keeping the TV turned off.

It's the best thing I could think of to keep my blood pressure within safe parameters.

We've been measuring the wall space in the upstairs office and debating what kind of bookcases to buy while Office Depot has them on sale through March 7. Most of our books are still in boxes in the garage and I'd like access to some of them.

We'll probably put one or more bookcases in the guest bedroom while we're at it.

Also on the agenda, now that the tax refunds are rolling in, is the long-postponed (nearly 2 years) new head gasket for the Subaru Forester. It's been burning oil and - even worse - coolant to the point where it always smells like it's about to burst into flames.

Of course the nearest Subaru dealer is in Memphis and they'll have to keep the car 2-3 days, so it's going to be a complicated exercise once I get back from Daytona.

Who IS this goofball?


Well, it turns out he's Charles Binder, one of the Binder & Binder Binders.

And he seems to think his cowboy hat, which is ridiculously out of place in New York City, will somehow inspire confidence in poor mopes who are being denied their Social Security benefits.chasbendeer

If you go to their web site you can find biographies of Charles and his brother Harry, along with photos of them wearing matching hats. Or is it maybe the same hat?

Here's Harry.


Our Arkansas state income tax refund just rolled into our checking account - only EIGHT days after I e-filed!


Bike Week planning


Weather and other circumstances permitting, I plan to roll out of here Friday morning for Daytona Beach Bike Week.

It's been 15 years since I last rode to Bike Week. I've never gone on four wheels. That would be, well, just wrong. I know a lot of other riders, mostly H-D types, have no qualms about hauling their bikes down there on trailers, but that seems to me like cheating.

The only time my BMW K1200GT has been on a truck bed or trailer was last summer when an irreparable rear tire puncture forced me to have it hauled 100 miles from Kit Carson, Colo. to Colorado Springs. It certainly wasn't because I wanted to ride in the air conditioned comfort of the recovery vehicle cab.

Google Maps says the quickest route is an 861-mile, 13:49 ride to the southeast through Memphis and Birmingham, turning south at Atlanta on I-75, down to I-10, and then I-95.

That strikes me as a particularly dreary slog and I especially dislike the part from Atlanta on to the Daytona area because I've ridden and driven it so many times.

So I'm considering adding a couple of hours to the trip by choosing a route straight south on I-55 to Hammond, La., and then east on I-10 all the way across the northern Gulf Coast. Google Maps puts it at 1,034 miles.

It gets me to warmer latitudes sooner and takes me through what I hope will be a more interesting landscape. I've been as far east from New Orleans on I-10 as Biloxi, but I've never been to Mobile or Pensacola (not that those cities are a compelling reason to pick this route).

My destination is the Holiday Travel Park at the northwest corner of I-95 and Old Dixie Highway at Bunnell, Fla. That's the scene of the B-Cubed BMW Club's 9th annual Daytona Bike Week Campout. The B-Cubed (Beemers for Bikeweek and Biketoberfest) club exists primarily to host BMW riders at the two big Daytona motorcycle events each year. It's like a rally within a major event and was created when the Space Coast BMW Club lost its campground space to developers back in the 1990s.

At least two couples from the Indianapolis BMW Club plan to be there, so I'll be among some familiar faces.

The only wild card is the weather. The Weather Channel web site calls for a cold front and rain moving through northeast Arkansas Thursday night with an early Friday morning low of 44. That means heated jacket liner and maybe a rainsuit early.

The temperature should be in the 70s by the time I get to I-10 at Hammond, La., but scattered thunderstorms are forecast there for Friday.

My tentative plan is to ride as far as Mobile, Ala., or Gulf Shores and stop for the night. Since that area is expecting rain as well, it looks like a motel rather than a campground.

From there, it's about a 400-mile ride to Bunnell on Saturday where the forecast is for sunny skies and a high in the upper 70s.

Or, I could let the rain clear out of my path and delay my departure until Saturday morning.

I seriously doubt I'll stay the whole week. The last time I went to Bike Week, I'd had enough after about three days. If I had a little more ambition, I'd ride down to Key West. Who knows? I maybe could be talked into it if any of my Indy friends suggest a ride to the Keys.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Last March 7

march798 As I contemplate my departure for Daytona Beach and Bike Week this Friday morning, I'm mindful that riding to Bike Week requires a good weather window going and coming.

And the fact that I'm fro-ing and to-ing from northeast Arkansas instead of Indiana is small comfort when I recall that the above photo was shot from my home office window at 4:44 p.m. on March 7, 2008.

Yes, spring comes earlier to the Mid-South but winter can still take one last whack at you.

I'll be checking the Weather Channel and other weather sources frequently while I'm on the road.

Indiana joins the growing list of states considering "sovereignty" resolutions

From HoosiersForFairTaxation:

Friday, February 20, 2009 Indiana State Senator Greg Walker (District 41) is reported to have filed some form of what has recently come to be referred to as a "Sovereignty Resolution" whereby a state reasserts its rights under Miss Victory a.k.a. Miss Indianathe 10th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and reminds the Federal Government of its constitutionally limited powers.

Although details are still pending a posting of the bill it is believed to be Senate Concurrent Resolution 37 (2009-2010) and that Senator Dennis Kruse (District 14) and popular Senator Mike Delph (District 29) might also be working with or supporting Sen. Walker's effort.

As many as twenty states are believed to have had similar resolutions introduced in 2009 including Arizona, New Hampshire (HCR 6) and Oklahoma. Oklahoma's resolution passed out of their House 83 to 13 this week and should be headed to their State Senate where a similar measure got hung up last year. The overwhelming 83 to 13 vote should send a clear message that state legislators from both major parties are growing tired of Federal authorities and elected officials overstepping clearly outlined constitutional guidelines and often with unfunded or underfunded mandates.

Constituents of the Indiana Senators, and other activists including Indiana Libertarians like former gubernatorial candidate Andrew Horning (Freedom, IN) and 7th District congressional candidate Sean Shepard (Indianapolis), have supported the idea. Mr. Horning, in fact, wrote a similar resolution many years back but was unable to find anyone who would introduce it at that time.

Damn the iceburgs! Full speed ahead!

iceburg Every trip to Walmart is an adventure - sometimes pleasant, sometimes horrifying, sometimes infuriating, and always entertaining.

Yesterday's visit to the Walmart on the south side of town was no different.

Moments after passing a dull-looking young woman wearing a t-shirt that said, "I'm allergic to stupid people," I noticed this stunning example of ignorance in the produce section.

Judging from the quality of the print job, this was no local gaffe - it came straight from corporate headquarters in Bentonville where someone obviously doesn't know his/her lettuce.

Of course it should have read "Iceberg Lettuce." It's a safe bet that whoever composed this sign doesn't know German. if they did, they'd know that the English word comes from the German combination of eis (ice) and berg (mountain). Hence, and eisberg/iceberg is a mountain of ice. Burg in German means castle or fortress. So the little sign in the produce department is actually advertising a new variety of "ice castle" lettuce. Who knew?donuts

I was still chewing on the ice castle lettuce discovery when I spied this example of the clueless use of an apostrophe over the donut case.

Which donut do they mean? There must have been 100 or more in the case - cake, yeast, glazed, iced, cream or jelly-filled.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

In Negativland

I'm actually in the Walmart pharmacy waiting for a prescription and listening to "And the Answer is..." from the Negativland "Points" album on my iPod. It's like Muzak on steroids and somehow seems completely appropriate to my surrroundings.
We're also on a quest for bookcases for the home office this morning.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Arkansas sovereignty resolution introduced



WHEREAS, the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States provides that “[t]he powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited to it by the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”; and

WHEREAS, the Tenth Amendment defines the total scope of federal power as being that specifically granted by the Constitution of the United States and no more; and

WHEREAS, the scope of power defined by the Tenth Amendment means that the federal government was created by the states specifically to be an agent of the state; and

WHEREAS, today, in 2009, the states are demonstrably treated as agents of the federal government; and

WHEREAS, many federal mandates are directly in violation of the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States; and

WHEREAS, Article IV, Section 4 of the United States Constitution states in part that “[t]he United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government” and the Ninth Amendment to the United States Constitution states that “[t]he enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people”; and

WHEREAS, the United States Supreme Court has ruled in New York v.
United States, 505 U.S. 144 (1992), that Congress may not simply commandeer the legislative and regulatory processes of the states; and

WHEREAS, a number of proposals from previous administrations and some now pending from the present administration and from Congress may further violate the Constitution of the United States,


THAT the State of Arkansas hereby claims sovereignty under the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States over all powers not otherwise enumerated and granted to the federal government by the Constitution of the United States.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this resolution serve as Notice and Demand to the federal government, as our agent, to cease and desist, effective immediately, mandates that are beyond the scope of these constitutionally delegated powers.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that it is the position of the State of Arkansas that all compulsory federal legislation that directs states to comply under threat of civil or criminal penalties or sanctions or requires states to pass legislation or lose federal funding be prohibited or repealed.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the clerk of the House of Representatives distribute a copy of this resolution to the President of the United States, the President of the United States Senate, the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, the Speaker of the House and the President of the Senate of each state’s legislature of the United States of America, and each member of the Arkansas Congressional delegation.

So much for academic/scientific freedom

By TigerHawk at 2/20/2009 10:45:00 PM

Thursday evening I enjoyed the pleasure of an off-the-record dinner conversation with a leading "skeptic" of anthropogenic global warming. He talked at length about the political pressure that is brought to bear against scientists who have openly broken with the "consensus" promulgated by the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Al Gore, and other putative authorities on the subject. The talk reminded me of the preface to the excellent book Climate of Extremes: Global Warming Science They Don't Want You to Know, which has enjoyed the top billing on our sidebar for the last week or so. Author Patrick Michaels describes the plight of those state climatologists, academics all, who have expressed opinions or even just distributed data that tended to refute the AGW opinions of state governors. In each case, a Democratic governor has driven a state climatologist from his university job for the expression, in good faith, of scientifically informed opinions about anthropogenic climate change.

At the end of June 2009, I will be leaving the University of Virginia, as fine a public school as there is in the world. The university cannot guarantee me both academic freedom and a full salary from the Commonwealth of Virginia. My faculty position was "Research Professor and State Climatologist, Department of Environmental Sciences." My salary was paid in its large majority by a separate line in the university's budget, labeled "State Climatology Office," itself a part of the overall budget for the Commonwealth of Virginia.
I was appointed Virginia State Climatologist on July 7, 1980. Like most other State Climatologists, I was faculty at a major public institution, and the appointment was without term, although the faculty position itself was without academic tenure. It was nonetheless subject to the same review process (without teaching duties) for promotion to associate and then to full professor.
I served Republican and Democratic administrations. I met all the Virginia governors. I really liked Republican Governor George Allen. I told Governor Jim Gilmore, also a Republican, how fortunate I was to be able to speak the truth on climate change, even as it was becoming politically unpopular. I was incredibly impressed by the professional staff that served Democrat Mark Warner. His staff members were as good as or better than many federal staffers I have worked with.
Given the political nature of climate change, it was only a matter of time until some governor went after his State Climatologist. I'll be happy to say I brought it on myself. I'm articulate, chatty, and, thanks to the Cato Institute, have great access to TV, radio, and major news outlets. I fully used my privileges as a University of Virginia faculty member, which included the right to consult for whomever I wanted without jeopardizing my position or the academic freedom that went with it.
Which meant, of course, consulting for entities ranging from the Environmental Protection Agency to power producers with a dog in the global warming hunt. One of those was Intermountain Rural Electric Association, a small Colorado utility. When my work for them became public knowledge, Virginia Governor Timothy Kaine told me not to speak as State Climatologist when it came to global warming. If the State Climatologist is a political appointment, that's his call. If it is a lifetime honorific, it's not. But regardless of which of those it is, almost all my university salary was contingent upon my being State Climatologist.
The University of Virginia valiantly, if clumsily, attempted to paper this over. All of a sudden, I was told I should no longer refer to myself as Virginia State Climatologist. Instead, I should cite my seal of certification as Director of the Virginia Stat Climatology Office, given by the American Association of State Climatologists (AASC). The position of State Climatologist had apparently become a political appointment.
I wasn't asked to do the impossible, merely the impossibly awkward. The University of Virginia Provost wrote to me:
You should refer to yourself as the "AASC-designated state climatologist" and your office as the "AASC-designated State Climatology Office," or if you prefer, "AASC-designated State Climatology Office at the University of Virginia." I recognize that the titles may be awkward but the message from the Governor's Office was very clear about what they expected.

Needless to say, this quickly became unworkable. Newspaper editors wouldn't suffer such encumbering verbiage, it didn't fit on a TV Chiron, and making a disclaimer every time I spoke, about climate that my views didn't reflect those of the Commonwealth of Virginia or the University of Virginia (despite their being correct!) would never fit a sound bite. So I had the choice of speaking on global warming and having my salary line terminated, or leaving.
Other State Climatologists soon had similar difficulties. George Taylor at Oregon State University, who is very popular with the AASC (and the only person ever elected to consecutive terms as president), was told that he was simply not to speak on global warming. Having read the playbook established by Governor Kaine in Virginia, Governor Ted Kulongoski (D) told Portland's KGW-TV that "Taylor's contradictions interfere with the state's stated goals to reduce greenhouse gases."
Taylor had long questioned glib statements about a 50 percent decline in Pacific Northwest snowpack, which were being made by climate alarmists worldwide. The 50 percent figure is only part of the story. That figure accrues if one starts with the data in 1950 and ends in the mid-1990s. If one uses the entire set of snowpack data (1915-2004), a different picture emerges [Figure omitted]. Taylor was told to shut up as State Climatologist even though he was merely telling the truth.
Taylor resigned his Oregon State University position in February 2008.
David Legates, at the University of Delaware, was told by Governor Ruth Ann Minner (D) that he could no longer speak on global warming as State Climatologist. His faculty position is a regular tenured line in the geography department. He's free, as State Climatologist, to say anything about the weather, so long as there's no political implication. Unfortunately, as most State Climatologists will attest, most reporters specifically ask whether this or that unusual storm or unusually hot (or cold!) day is related to global warming. Scientists who refuse to answer that question don't get return calls.
Minner was upset because Legates was an author of an amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court (Baliunas et al) in its first global warming-related case, Massachusetts v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Baliunas et al. sided with the federal government (namely the Environmental Protection Agency [EPA]), which maintained that it was not required to issue regulations reducing carbon dioxide emissions. Justice Antonin Scalia cited Baliunas et al. in his dissent, as the court voted 5-4 that it was within the EPA's purview to propose and then enforce carbon dioxide limitations.
So Legates stopped speaking about global warming as Delaware's State Climatologist.
Out West, things got even uglier. The Assistant State Climatologist for Washington, Mark Albright, was fired because, despite his boss's orders, he refused to stop e-mailing -- to journalists, to inquiring citizens, to anyone -- the entire snowfall record for the Cascade Mountains rather than the cherry-picked one. For e-mailing that record, the assistant state climatologist in Washington lost his job.
What had started with Oregon's George Taylor had migrated across the Columbia River.
State Climatologist Phil Mote terminated Albright. Both positions were in the University of Washington's atmospheric science department, one of the world's best. A senior member of that department, Professor Clifford Mass, commented, "In all my years of doing science, I've never seen this sort of gag-order approach to doing science."
What is so scary that some governors don't want you to know it?
Apparently it is this: The world is not coming to an end because of global warming. Further, we don't really have the means to significantly alter the temperature trajectory of the planet. All of this will be spelled out in considerable detail within the rest of this book.

Imagine the outrage if Republicans had done these things, and remember these men the next time you are pinned to the wall at a cocktail party by some liberal whining that the Bush administration politicized science in some unique way.
Read the whole thing.

Friday, February 20, 2009

The mainstream media has it backwards


From television specials to newspaper editorials, the media are pushing the idea that current economic problems were caused by the market and that only the government can rescue us.

What was lacking in the housing market, they say, was government Sowellregulation of the market's "greed." That makes great moral melodrama, but it turns the facts upside down.

It was precisely government intervention which turned a thriving industry into a basket case.

An economist specializing in financial markets gave a glimpse of the history of housing markets when he said: "Lending money to American homebuyers had been one of the least risky and most profitable businesses a bank could engage in for nearly a century."

That was what the market was like before the government intervened. Like many government interventions, it began small and later grew.

The Community Reinvestment Act of 1977 directed federal regulatory agencies to "encourage" banks and other lending institutions "to help meet the credit needs of the local communities in which they are chartered consistent with the safe and sound operation of such institutions."

That sounds pretty innocent and, in fact, it had little effect for more than a decade. However, its premise was that bureaucrats and politicians know where loans should go, better than people who are in the business of making loans.

The real potential of that premise became apparent in the 1990s, when the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) imposed a requirement that mortgage lenders demonstrate with hard data that they were meeting their responsibilities under the Community Reinvestment Act.

What HUD wanted were numbers showing that mortgage loans were being made to low-income and moderate-income people on a scale that HUD expected, even if this required "innovative or flexible" mortgage eligibility standards.

In other words, quotas were imposed-- and if some people didn't meet the standards, then the standards need to be changed.

Both HUD and the Department of Justice began bringing lawsuits against mortgage bakers when a higher percentage of minority applicants than white applicants were turned down for mortgage loans.

A substantial majority of both black and white mortgage loan applicants had their loans approved but a statistical difference was enough to get a bank sued.

It should also be noted that the same statistical sources from which data on blacks and whites were obtained usually contained data on Asian Americans as well. But those data on Asian Americans were almost never mentioned.

Whites were turned down for mortgage loans more often than Asian Americans. But saying that would undermine the reasoning on which the whole moral melodrama and political crusades were based.

Lawsuits were only part of the pressures put on lenders by government officials. Banks and other lenders are overseen by regulatory agencies and must go to those agencies for approval of many business decisions that other businesses make without needing anyone else's approval.

Government regulators refused to approve such decisions when a lender was under investigation for not producing satisfactory statistics on loans to low-income people or minorities.

Under growing pressures from both the Clinton administration and later the George W. Bush administration, banks began to lower their lending standards.

Mortgage loans with no down payment, no income verification and other "creative" financial arrangements abounded. Although this was done under pressures begun in the name of the poor and minorities, people who were neither could also get these mortgage loans.

With mortgage loans widely available to people with questionable prospects of being able to keep up the payments, it was an open invitation to financial disaster.

Those who warned of the dangers had their warnings dismissed. Now, apparently, we need more politicians intervening in more industries, if you believe the politicians and the media.


Thomas Sowell's Biography

Thomas Sowell was born in North Carolina and grew up in Harlem. As with many others in his neighborhood, he left home early and did not finish high school. The next few years were difficult ones, but eventually he joined the Marine Corps and became a photographer in the Korean War. After leaving the service, Sowell entered Harvard University, worked a part-time job as a photographer and studied the science that would become his passion and profession: economics.

After graduating magna cum laude from Harvard University (1958), he went on to receive his master's in economics from Columbia University (1959) and a doctorate in economics from the University of Chicago (1968).

In the early '60s, Sowell held jobs as an economist with the Department of Labor and AT&T. But his real interest was in teaching and scholarship. In 1965, at Cornell University, he began the first of many professorships. His other teaching assignments include Rutgers University, Amherst University, Brandeis University and the University of California at Los Angeles, where he taught in the early '70s and also from 1984 to 1989.

Sowell has published a large volume of writing. His dozen books, as well as numerous articles and essays, cover a wide range of topics, from classic economic theory to judicial activism, from civil rights to choosing the right college. Moreover, much of his writing is considered ground-breaking -- work that will outlive the great majority of scholarship done today.

Though Sowell had been a regular contributor to newspapers in the late '70s and early '80s, he did not begin his career as a newspaper columnist until 1984. George F. Will's writing, says Sowell, proved to him that someone could say something of substance in so short a space (750 words). And besides, writing for the general public enables him to address the heart of issues without the smoke and mirrors that so often accompany academic writing.

In 1990, he won the prestigious Francis Boyer Award, presented by The American Enterprise Institute.

Currently Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute in Stanford, Calif.

Arkansas chainsaw massacre


This is Robert Shaffer of R&A Tree Service from Percy, Ill., hacking away at one of our trees that menaces structures on our property and that of our neighbors.

Shaffer and his partner showed up about 7:30 a.m. and are still hard at work taking care of ice storm tree damage that is beyond our capacity to handle.

They started by yanking out the stump of the big tree that fell across our driveway the night of the ice storm, then cleared away some huge hanging limbs that Maria was sure would fall on me when I mow the lawn in a few months.

It's costing more than we want to pay, but you gotta do what you gotta do and I'm confident it's a fair price.shaffer01

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Jonesing for a Dell Inspiron Mini 9" notebook


No, that's not an oversized coffee cup. The Dell Inspiron Mini is 9.13 inches wide, 6.77 inches deep, 1.07 inches thick and weighs 2.28 pounds.

I've spent several months in a financial fetal position and not letting myself get interested in any non-essential consumer items.

But the prospect of decent federal and state income tax refunds, coupled with the wildly optimistic thought that our renter is back on track and will start paying on time set me up for a serious case of the "wants" for the new Dell Inspiron Mini 9" notebook computer.

Actually, I've wanted something like this for years - a notebook computer robust enough and small enough to carry on my motorcycle trips for emailing and blogging.

I started inching in that direction in August, 2004, when I bought a used Palm Treo 300 on Ebay for $70. It had a tiny keyboard but I quickly learned to type with my thumbs and could compose fairly lengthy blogposts with it. I upgraded to a used Treo 600 the next year and blogged from the road riding to and from the BMW MOA National Rally in Burlington, Vt., in July, 2006. Except that several of my posts never made it to my blog. Later that year, I finessed my Sprint credits into a Treo 700p, which has seen lots of use on trips to the Colorado Rockies and last year's ride to the BMW MOA National Rally in Gillette, Wyo., as well as last fall's Return to Shiloh Rally on the Tennessee-Mississippi border.

But as facile as I am at thumb-typing, there's no comparison with the ease of using a real keyboard. While at Gillette, I used the machines in the BMW MOA Internet Cafe for my blogging and email whenever possible. I could also post better photos, since I could upload shots from my Nikon D100 instead of crappy images from my cell phone camera.

We've had a 17" Sony Vaio notebook since June, 2005, but it's too big, too expensive and too fragile to take on motorcycle trips.

I became aware of mini notebooks when I noticed one being sold on one of the home shopping networks a few weeks ago. I was flipping channels and didn't notice the brand but it was somewhere around $400, so I didn't give it much thought.

Then I figured our taxes and discovered we could breathe a little easier. (Yeah, I know the way the Cosmos works. Every time you get a little extra cash, something expensive breaks. In this case, it's our ice storm-ravaged trees that I'm paying a tree service serious bucks to work on tomorrow.) But even with the tree expense and the long-postponed head gasket replacement on the Subaru, I'm feeling less tense about money. And I've been comparison shopping and decided Dell has the best mini for my needs.

Which made me horribly vulnerable for the email from Sam's Club dell inspiron minithat showed up this morning.

Here's the deal: Sam's Club is offering the Dell Inspiron Mini 9" notebook with a gig of RAM and an 8 gig solid state drive for $245, shipping cost included. Checking the Dell site, I see they've got the same thing marked down to $416.

I think I'd like mine in red. What do you think?

Don't call me "President"

Writing tips

I'm reading "Roadshow" by Rush drummer and BMW rider Neal Peart, a book my son Steve thoughtfully chose for me for Christmas fromroadshow my wish list.

It's the story of Peart's travels by motorcycle between venues on the Canadian band's 30th anniversary tour in 2004.

It's easy to see why Peart is the band's lyricist. He's written several books about his travels by motorcycle and bicycle and his flair for observation and command of the language make his books a delight to read.

In "Roadshow," he recalls a telephone interview he did with a hemingwayreporter from the Kansas City Star and notes that Ernest Hemingway got his start as a reporter at the Star.

He writes that Hemingway recalled in later years the style sheet he was given by an editor on his first day: "Use short sentences. Use short first paragraphs. Use vigorous English. Be positive, not negative." Hemingway later said those were "the best rules I ever learned for the business of writing."

My other favorite statement about writing came from Mark Twain when he observed that the difference between the almost-right word and the right word is the difference between the lightning bug and lightning.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

What I like about the Mid-South

I'm sitting on a bench, sipping gourmet coffee outside Hastings and blogging from my phone in lovely 67-degree sunshine - in the middle of freaking February!
I rode my bike this morning, mailing a CD and our state income tax paperwork, then down into town to return a rented DVD.
I heard yesterday that residents of some debt-ridden states are getting IOUs instead of tax refunds this year. Maria tells me that can't happen here because the Arkansas state constitution forbids state government from spending more than it takes in. What a concept!
So my federal taxes go to bail out states like California that spend twice what they take in.
I'm just enjoying not shivering in 45-degree cold in Indiana and looking forward to lunch at a new barbecue restaurant.

I'm outta here

John Flora aboard his new BMW K1200GT. Suit is the BMW Summer one-piece coverall, helmet is the Schuberth Concept. Photo taken by Maria J. Flora on Ind. 75 just south of Thorntown, Ind.                          It's sunny and 62 degrees and I'm going for a motorcycle ride.

Liberty Media to the rescue


Sirius XM satellite radio got a reprieve yesterday when Liberty Media agreed to lend the faltering company $530 million to pay debts and stave off bankruptcy.

That's good news for me, since I depend on satellite radio to entertain me on long motorcycle rides and trips in my del Sol.

Liberty Media, headquartered in Englewood, Colo., owns DirectTV and Discovery Channel.

I've been an XM subscriber for several years now and am not particularly impressed with what Sirius brought to the system when the two satellite radio companies merged last year.

Part of the problem is that the company pays insanely large fees for talent like Howard Stern ($100 million a year). Also, the collapse of the new car market resulted in fewer subscriptions sold to buyers of cars equipped with satellite radios.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Insufficient damage

The State Farm Insurance adjuster spent about an hour and a half looking at our storm damage and crunching numbers.

He was generous in his calculations, but we still came up $296 short of meeting our $1,000 deductible.

But the fact that our area was declared a Federal Disaster Area means we may be able to recover some of our expenses on next year's income tax return.

So the adjuster's itemized list and our receipts go into the file for next year's taxes.


rotary connection Much of my extensive CD collection is gone - scattered to the four corners of the nation via's "sell yours here" feature.

Most of it went for reasonable prices, but there are a few rarities that command rather high prices. And one of those sold yesterday.

The self-titled Rotary Connection album was one of the best examples of '60s psychedelia. I have it on vinyl and was surprised to find this CD a few years ago.

I think it was designed to be the soundtrack for smoking pot - at least that's how my friends used it. The album sides were labeled "Trip 1" and "Trip 2." The vinyl album was released in 1967 and the CD was released in November, 1996.

The lead singer was the phenomenal Minnie Riperton, known for her amazing 5½-octave vocal range. Her short career peaked in April, 1975 with the number-one single, "Lovin' You." Minnie died July 12, 1979 of breast cancer at the age of 31.

And I sold my CD yesterday to a guy in Montoursville, Pa., for 2 cents less than $100. Factoring in shipping, the buyer paid $102.96.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Bad news judgment at the Memphis Commercial Appeal

The Memphis Commercial Appeal's Web site carries a list of presumably every Tennessee resident who holds a concealed carry permit.

Commercial Appeal Editor Chris Peck published a long and generally unconvincing column in yesterday's paper and online explaining that the Commercial Appeal is not against the Second Amendment. He also asserts the paper is not invading anyone's privacy or empowering criminals.

The Web site has a database that lets readers search by name or ZIP code for those who have a permit to carry a concealed weapon in Tennessee.

Peck defends the action by pointing out that the list is a matter of public record and is available to anyone who wants it.

But he fails to give a compelling argument for publishing the list and neatly avoids the elephant in the room - the socially intimidating effect of disseminating the information. There are a lot of people who are openly anti-gun and against the Second Amendment and putting this list into their hands assures that they will do their level best to take out their fear of guns on any neighbor, acquaintance, employee, or relative whose name they recognize.

Here are a couple of examples Peck trotted out:

A mom might now check the list to see if the parents at her kid's sleep-over next door had a concealed weapon permit. If so, maybe it would be worth talking to them to make sure the gun is locked up.

A school official, concerned about whether teachers were bringing guns onto school grounds, might check the list to see whether anyone on the staff has a permit to carry, and then have a discussion about it.

For the record, I don't have a concealed carry permit at the moment. I had one in Indiana for close to 20 years, but it lapsed about the time I moved to Arkansas. I practically never carried a gun in Indiana, but I liked having the option. I am in the process of obtaining one from my new home state because I believe in following the law, because I see it as part of being a responsible gun owner and because I believe we all have a right and a duty to self-defense.

But I am also keenly aware that many with whom I come into contact would pre-judge me on the basis of their irrational fear of guns if they knew I had a CCW permit. As far as I'm concerned, nobody needs to know whether I have a CCW permit except the issuing agency and people with whom I choose to share that information. I don't care to be "outed" by some paranoid do-gooder who can't see the line between legitimate news and singling people out for harassment.

I would be a lot less suspicious of Chris Peck's motives if his name were on the list. But it isn't.


I used TaxCut to figure and file our federal and state income taxes this morning.

Refunds in both cases. What a relief. Woo-hoo!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

I love the sound of a chainsaw in the morning


We spent part of this morning cutting up fallen trees and branches with our Poulan 18" chainsaw.

I've installed replacement chains on both chainsaws and am getting reasonably comfortable with their operation and maintenance, thanks to last month's ice storm.

The brush pile at our cul-de-sac curb is growing daily in anticipation of promised collection by the county and we're building a formidable woodpile for our outdoor fireplace.

We've got the front yard reasonably clear, but the back and west side of the property will take weeks to clear.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Arizona, not Tennessee


One of the guys in the area BMW motorcycle club posted this picture to the club email list saying he couldn't confirm it, but the information he had was that this mountain lion was struck and killed on Tennessee Highway 13 about 40 miles west of Nashville, not far from the town of Waverly.

I checked with and found the picture is of a mountain lion that was struck and killed by a pickup truck in Arizona in late 2007. It weighed between 200 and 220 pounds.

That's a considerable relief. I don't like to think of big cats like that stalking people or darting into the path of motorcycles in the Mid-South.

Waverly, Tenn. does have a Lions Club, however.

At last!

The rent check, including the late fee, was in the mailbox this morning.
Now I can relax. For two weeks.

Friday, February 13, 2009

From the White House Propaganda Ministry


White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs is having a bad day today.

Some members of the press are calling the Obama administration out on inconsistencies (lies) about the pending stimulus package and he's struggling to keep the right spin going.

As a veteran newsman, I could almost smell the blood in the water as some of the media types pursued increasingly aggressive lines of questioning.

One reporter, clearly unsatisfied with the inadequate responses he was getting on remarks made by the CEO of Caterpillar in the wake of Obama's visit to their headquarters in East Peoria, Ill., earlier this week, finally threw up his hands and said, "Well, I won't belabor the point," before moving on to another question.

I'm sure every reporter in the room - and hopefully any viewer who was paying attention - understood clearly what had just happened. No matter how he couched the question, he got the same non-answer.

I will be amazed if Propaganda Minister Gibbs lasts another month. He's running out of lipstick for the pig, if you know what I mean.

Another scam

This fantastic business opportunity just showed up in my emailbox.Wow! I can't believe my good fortune!

Good Day.

Briefly,I am Mrs.Kimaeve Lioudmila, a Personal Secretary to Mikhail Khodorkovsky the richest man in Russia and owner of the following companies: Chairman C.E.O: YUKOS OIL (Russian Most Largest Oil Company) Chairman C.E.O: Menatep SBP Bank (A well reputable financial institution with its branches all over the world).

I have a good business proposal which I plan to execute in your country.I therefore want to seek your indulgence if you can stand in as my Business Associates.I am of the believe that you will uphold your honesty throughout the business transaction.

Can I know you?

Best Regards,
Mrs.Kimaeve Lioudmila

Guardedly optimistic

Maria talked with our tenants about their late rent payment last night because I doubted my ability to remain civil.check

The guy told her he mailed the check, including the late payment fee, on Wednesday and he emailed a copy of the delivery confirmation receipt bearing a U.S. Postal Service stamp for Feb. 11.

It appears  something is in the pipeline, so we're back in a waiting posture.

I really do hope they can make this work because I don't want to go through the hassle of kicking them out and finding new tenants.

And this means that, assuming he makes good on his promise to pay the March rent on time, my Daytona Beach Bike Week ride is back on the calendar.

I can almost feel my blood pressure dropping.

But it wasn't in our mailbox this morning...

Thursday, February 12, 2009

No rent check, day 12

OK, I'm done with these clowns.
I've asked our Realtor to find new tenants and I want these people out asap.

Arkansas bound

lisastevemugGranddaughter Lisa and son Steve are coming for a visit!

O, frabjous day! Calloo! Callay!


Crunch time

I am going to the post office at 9:30 a.m. today.

If there is no rent check in the mailbox, the renters are about to join the ranks of the homeless.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Still no rent check

Clearly, the renter lied on Friday when he said he mailed a check.

Am I angry? No, I am enraged.

The stimulus bill has a Trojan horse feature - a health care measure that limits what your doctor can do for you

Commentary by Betsy McCaughey

Feb. 9 (Bloomberg) -- Republican Senators are questioning whether President Barack Obama’s stimulus bill contains the right mix of tax breaks and cash infusions to jump-start the economy.

Tragically, no one from either party is objecting to the health provisions slipped in without discussion. These provisions reflect the handiwork of Tom Daschle, until recently the nominee to head the Health and Human Services Department.

Senators should read these provisions and vote against them because they are dangerous to your health. (Page numbers refer to H.R. 1 EH, pdf version).

The bill’s health rules will affect “every individual in the United States” (445, 454, 479). Your medical treatments will be tracked electronically by a federal system. Having electronic medical records at your fingertips, easily transferred to a hospital, is beneficial. It will help avoid duplicate tests and errors.

But the bill goes further. One new bureaucracy, the National Coordinator of Health Information Technology, will monitor treatments to make sure your doctor is doing what the federal government deems appropriate and cost effective. The goal is to reduce costs and “guide” your doctor’s decisions (442, 446). These provisions in the stimulus bill are virtually identical to what Daschle prescribed in his 2008 book, “Critical: What We Can Do About the Health-Care Crisis.” According to Daschle, doctors have to give up autonomy and “learn to operate less like solo practitioners.”

Keeping doctors informed of the newest medical findings is important, but enforcing uniformity goes too far.

New Penalties

Hospitals and doctors that are not “meaningful users” of the new system will face penalties.  “Meaningful user” isn’t defined in the bill. That will be left to the HHS secretary, who will be empowered to impose “more stringent measures of meaningful use over time” (511, 518, 540-541)

What penalties will deter your doctor from going beyond the electronically delivered protocols when your condition is atypical or you need an experimental treatment? The vagueness is intentional. In his book, Daschle proposed an appointed body with vast powers to make the “tough” decisions elected politicians won’t make.

The stimulus bill does that, and calls it the Federal Coordinating Council for Comparative Effectiveness Research (190-192). The goal, Daschle’s book explained, is to slow the development and use of new medications and technologies because they are driving up costs. He praises Europeans for being more willing to accept “hopeless diagnoses” and “forgo experimental treatments,” and he chastises Americans for expecting too much from the health-care system.

Elderly Hardest Hit

Daschle says health-care reform “will not be pain free.” Seniors should be more accepting of the conditions that come with age instead of treating them. That means the elderly will bear the brunt.

Medicare now pays for treatments deemed safe and effective. The stimulus bill would change that and apply a cost- effectiveness standard set by the Federal Council (464).

The Federal Council is modeled after a U.K. board discussed in Daschle’s book. This board approves or rejects treatments using a formula that divides the cost of the treatment by the number of years the patient is likely to benefit. Treatments for younger patients are more often approved than treatments for diseases that affect the elderly, such as osteoporosis.

In 2006, a U.K. health board decreed that elderly patients with macular degeneration had to wait until they went blind in one eye before they could get a costly new drug to save the other eye. It took almost three years of public protests before the board reversed its decision.

Hidden Provisions

If the Obama administration’s economic stimulus bill passes the Senate in its current form, seniors in the U.S. will face similar rationing. Defenders of the system say that individuals benefit in younger years and sacrifice later.

The stimulus bill will affect every part of health care, from medical and nursing education, to how patients are treated and how much hospitals get paid. The bill allocates more funding for this bureaucracy than for the Army, Navy, Marines, and Air Force combined (90-92, 174-177, 181).

Hiding health legislation in a stimulus bill is intentional. Daschle supported the Clinton administration’s health-care overhaul in 1994, and attributed its failure to debate and delay. A year ago, Daschle wrote that the next president should act quickly before critics mount an opposition. “If that means attaching a health-care plan to the federal budget, so be it,” he said. “The issue is too important to be stalled by Senate protocol.”

More Scrutiny Needed

On Friday, President Obama called it “inexcusable and irresponsible” for senators to delay passing the stimulus bill. In truth, this bill needs more scrutiny.

The health-care industry is the largest employer in the U.S. It produces almost 17 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product. Yet the bill treats health care the way European governments do: as a cost problem instead of a growth industry. Imagine limiting growth and innovation in the electronics or auto industry during this downturn. This stimulus is dangerous to your health and the economy.

(Betsy McCaughey is former lieutenant governor of New York and is an adjunct senior fellow at the Hudson Institute. The opinions expressed are her own.)

To contact the writer of this column: Betsy McCaughey at

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The "No Rent Check Blues"

fuck_shitFriend Lauri emailed me a link to this shirt, saying she thought of me immediately when she saw it, but can't imagine why.

I know why.

And if I had one, I'd be wearing it today because I'm nearing the end of my patience with our tenants.

He emailed early on Friday morning saying he had sent $550 of the $1,000 he was supposed to have paid us on Feb. 1. We still haven't seen it.

I sent him a very pointed reply, saying his promise to pay us the balance "around next Friday" (2/13) is unacceptable because we incur a substantial late penalty on the mortgage for the house he's living in if our payment arrives after Feb. 16.

I pointed out that he is in default and we are within our contractual rights to evict him and his family right now. I said we need the entire February rent, plus the contractual $125 late fee, immediately. And that we expect the March rent to be paid no later than March 5 and preferably on or before March 1.

Otherwise, I said, we will be forced to seek other tenants.

His reply was immediate: "We love the house and we will get this rectified. I won’t be late for the March payment or any other. I apologize for putting you in this situation."

But here we are, four days later, and still no check.

Fuck, shit, damn, ass, hell.

The name's the same


People occasionally ask if I am related to the guy who founded the town of Flora in Carroll County, Ind. I am. He was my great-great-grandfather's brother and coincidentally, his name was John and we share the same birthday - July 14.

I don't know if I have links to places named Flora in Illinois, Oregon, Louisiana, Mississippi, or anywhere else.

Monday, February 09, 2009


Feb. 9 (Bloomberg) — The stimulus package the U.S. Congress is completing would raise the government’s commitment to solving the financial crisis to $9.7 trillion, enough to pay off more than 90 percent of the nation’s home mortgages.

The Federal Reserve, Treasury Department and Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation have lent or spent almost $3 trillion over the past two years and pledged to provide up to $5.7 trillion more if needed. The total already tapped has decreased about 1 percent since November, mostly because foreign central banks are using fewer dollars in currency-exchange agreements called swaps. The Senate is to vote early this week on a stimulus package totaling at least $780 billion that President Barack Obama says is needed to avert a deeper recession. That measure would need to be reconciled with an $819 billion plan the House approved last month.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Monkey Bay on the back porch

There is something utterly delicious about being able to sit on my back porch at 3:30 on a Sunday afternoon in early February, dressed monkey-bay-3in a t-shirt, jeans and Crocs, listening to my iPod and sipping Monkey Bay chardonnay from a plastic cup. It's a very fruity chardonnay from New Zealand - almost too sweet, but very smooth.

The temperature is just a tick under 70 degrees and the dogs are very happy to lounge around the porch, gaze into the woods and occasionally come over for some petting.

We spent some time this morning and again this afternoon cutting fallen limbs into fireplace-size segments and creating a woodpile in the back yard.

I really, really, really love the fact that winter only lasts about a month here.

Weekend Update, Arkansas style

sportshow04 I tried to blog a crappy cellphone photo from the Arkansas Sportshow yesterday morning, but the upload failed, so here's some stuff Maria and I shot with her Nikon D200.

I'm hanging out with a stuffed black bear in the top photo and going nose-to-nose with some kind of pointy-nosed fish in the second. sportshow03

I spent almost two full days at the Sportshow last year because I was shooting for The Sun.

We met some interesting people and made contact with a guy who runs an instructional program for concealed carry permits. Maria also chatted with the guy who runs the motorcycle/scooter shop down the road from us and sat on one of his 250cc Chinese-made cruisers.sportshow01

The big entertainment at this year's Sportshow is a black bear show sportshow02that we watched from the safety of the upper level of the ASU Convocation Center.

The trainer feeds the bears Skittles from his mouth to get them to simulate a kiss.

We were up early this morning hacking away at fallen trees and limbs with one of our chainsaws and stacking the bigger pieces for firewood. We're going to be a long time clearing all of this debris to the point where I ran safely run a lawnmower over the yard.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Back online from home

Our cable/Internet service was restored today - 11 days after the ice storm knocked us offline and blacked out our TV.

I called the cable company yesterday and learned they were working in our area, but it could be several more days. I was told the head end (where the cable system pulls the signals down from space and sends them out to customers) was still running on generators.

Circling the wagons to fight the moonbats

I thought "states' rights" was a non-issue in the 21st century - a relic of some Southern states' efforts to block federal civil rights laws.

Not so.

At least seven state legislatures are considering measures to invoke 10th Amendment state sovereignty to block implementation of anticipated federal laws on guns, abortion and other issues.

It's my fervent hope that Arkansas and Indiana follow suit.

In Missouri, House Resolution 212 declared Missouri's sovereignty under the 10th Amendment and urges Congress to reject the passage of the federal Freedom of Choice Act, which prohibits regulations on abortion.

Montana House Bill 246 exempts from federal regulation under the commerce clause of the Constitution a firearm, firearm accessory, or ammunition manufactured and retained in Montana.

In Michigan, it's a concurrent resolution to affirm Michigan’s sovereignty under the 10th Amendment and to urge the federal government to halt its practice of imposing mandates upon the states for purposes not enumerated by the Constitution of the United States.

Arizona's legislature is considering a similar measure. Ditto New Hampshire, Oklahoma and Washington.

The various state initiatives are based on a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in New York vs. United States:

Facts of the Case

The Low-Level Radioactive Waste Management Act Amendments of 1985 required states alone or in compacts with other states to dispose of such radioactive waste within their borders. New York State and Allegany and Courtland counties were frustrated in their compliance efforts by resistance from residents to proposed radioactive waste sites and a lack of cooperation from neighboring states. New York filed suit against the federal government, questioning the authority of Congress to regulate state waste management.


Does the Low-Level Waste Act violate the Tenth Amendment and the "guarantee clause" of Article Four?


In a 6-3 decision, the Court upheld two of the three provisions of the Act under review, reasoning that Congress had the authority under the Commerce Clause to use financial rewards and access to disposal sites as incentives for state waste management. The third provision, the "take-title" qualification, stipulated that states must take legal ownership and liability for low-level waste or by the regulatory act. "Either type of federal action," wrote Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, "would 'commandeer' state governments into the service of federal regulatory purposes, and would for this reason be inconsistent with the Constitution's division of authority between federal and state governments." This last provision violated the Tenth Amendment.

Why I hate being a landlord (continued)

I'm back on the Hastings Wifi link, pondering what to say to my renter in response to this email he sent this morning:

To let you know I have sent out the rent. I’m shipping $550 to you now. The remainder will come to you around next Friday. I’m sorry I made a big mistake in my checking account. Again I apologize for the mistake. Thanks Again

Just for the record, the rental agreement requires that he pay $1,000 a month, due on the first of the month. If any part of the rent is unpaid after the 5th of the month, he owes an additional $125 in late penalty fees.

Under the terms of the lease, they are now in default and we are within our rights to have them evicted. I'm not eager to throw a couple with four daughters and a golden retriever out into the cold of an Indiana winter, but neither am I eager to let deadbeats jeopardize my credit rating by making me late on a mortgage payment.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Ear pollution

Somebody here at Hastings Hardback Cafe really likes The Killers.

Their Hot Fuss album seems to be on continuous play on the sound system. I was able to drown it out with my iPod on Tuesday morning, but I am defenseless this morning as I try to ignore the pretentious wall of noise and sophomoric lyrics.

I guess that's the price of free Wifi.