Saturday, April 21, 2012

Celestial Lights

Lithium-Air Battery Concept Holds Potential

OK, that was a groaner of an electrical pun, but I didn't really mean it that way.  Scientific American reports on IBM's plan for the batteries:
IBM plans to take lithium–air batteries out of neutral by building a working prototype by the end of next year. The company announced Friday it has stepped up development efforts by adding two Japanese technology firms—chemical manufacturer Asahi Kasei Corp. and electrolyte maker Central Glass—to the IBM Battery 500 Project, a coalition IBM established in 2009 to accelerate the switch from gas to electric-powered vehicles among carmakers and their customers.

The lithium ion batteries used in today's electric vehicles rely on a metal oxide or metal phosphate (typically cobalt, manganese or iron-based materials) cathode as a positive electrode, a carbon-based anode as a negative electrode and an electrolyte to conduct lithium ions from one electrode to the other. When the car is driven, the lithium ions flow from the anode to the cathode through the electrolyte and separator membrane. Charging the battery reverses the direction of ion flow.

Most fully charged lithium ion car batteries today will take an electric vehicle only 160 kilometers before petering out. (Nissan says its all-electric Leaf has a range of about 175 kilometers.) Plug-in electric vehicles such as the Chevy Volt have an even more limited range of up to 80 kilometers before its gas-powered motor must kick in.

The specifics of how lithium–air batteries will operate is still being determined, but the general principal is that, instead of using heavy metal oxides, oxygen would be collected from the air while an electric vehicle is in motion. The oxygen molecules react with lithium ions and electrons on the surface of a porous carbon cathode to form lithium peroxide. This lithium peroxide formation during discharge leads to an electrical current that powers the car's motor. When charging, the reverse reaction takes place—the oxygen is released back to the atmosphere. The anode, meanwhile, is made of lithium, the lightest metal. Without the need for heavy metals the battery would be several times lighter while being able to store more energy than its lithium ion cousin.

Although this works in a computer simulation, lithium–air batteries have specific requirements in practice that scientists are still trying to meet.
In other words, theoretically, they'll work great.  Hopefully it can work here in the real world.  Right now it sounds like cold fusion.

Audrey Hepburn In People

Via the Dish:

Some background:
American artist Craig Alan creates unique portraits of pop-culture icons using people as pixels. Some of his famous pieces include Marilyn Monroe, John F. Kennedy and the Statue of Liberty, but probably the most incredible one is the portrait of Audrey Hepburn from Breakfast At Tiffany’s.

Republican Talking Points Versus Reality

Bloomberg, via nc links:
Scott Walker, the Republican governor facing a recall vote in Wisconsin, traveled over the Illinois line to argue that the tax increase backed by his Democratic counterpart Pat Quinn is killing jobs even as the Midwest rebounds from recession. “Is it any wonder because of choices that were made right here in the state’s capital?” Walker, 44, said in an April 17 speech in Springfield. “When you raise taxes on businesses, that wealth and opportunity and those jobs more often than not go somewhere else.”
A broader snapshot tells a different tale. Illinois ranked third while Wisconsin placed 42nd in the most recent Bloomberg Economic Evaluation of States index, which includes personal income, tax revenue and employment. Illinois gained 32,000 jobs in the 12 months ending in February, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics found. Wisconsin, where Walker promised to create 250,000 jobs with the help of business-tax breaks, lost 16,900.
For Republicans, Illinois is the Nancy Pelosi of U.S. states -- like the former House speaker, a favorite target of ridicule when arguing Democrats stifle growth. The state has $8 billion in unpaid bills and $80 billion in unfunded pension liabilities.
Quinn was ready for the cross-border critique from Wisconsin, whose state’s employment fell more than any other. Quinn scheduled a news conference less than hour after Walker spoke to announce that LaFarge SA (LG), the Paris-based building materials maker, would move its North American headquarters to Illinois.
This was another hobby horse of our lean consultant the other week.  His political views tend to dampen my enthusiasm for other ideas he presents.  I try to keep an open mind, because a good idea is a good idea, but when one person has so many questionable beliefs, you have to wonder how good those "good ideas" really are.

Corporate Welfare-Straight From Workers To Employers

David Cay Johnson, via Ritholtz:
"Job piracy" occurs when one state diverts taxes to lure an employer across state lines. AMC Entertainment announced a deal last year to move its corporate headquarters from Kansas City, Mo., to a nearby Kansas suburb. In return, Good Jobs First said, Kansas will let the multiplex chain keep $47 million of state income taxes withheld from its workers' paychecks, a drain on public finances that did not create any jobs, but does enrich the Wall Street firms that own AMC including arms of J. P. Morgan, Apollo Management, Bain Capital and the Carlyle Group. AMC declined to answer my questions.

"Job blackmail" occurs when a company threatens to close a plant unless it gets tax money.

In Illinois, the law requires companies to threaten to leave before they can keep taxes withheld from paychecks. Motorola Mobility, now being acquired by Google; the truck maker Navistar; the German manufacturer Continental Tire, and three auto makers - Chrysler, Ford and Mitsubishi - get to keep $346.8 milli on in t axes over 10 years because they threatened to leave Illinois. Navistar can pocket $62.1 million even if it fires a quarter of its Illinois workforce, its contract shows. A recent deal gives Sears $150 million, Good Jobs First reported. Promising to retain jobs can be lucrative. General Electric invested $126 million updating part of its Ohio operations. In return, GE gets a tax credit equal to $115.3 million of its worker taxes, recovering 92 percent of its investment. A sweet deal for GE, but not its competitors.

Gary Sheffer, GE's top spokesman, said the company told its workers about the deal. In all, he said, GE is investing around $300 million in Ohio and "the resulting taxes the state will receive will far exceed the tax credits provided to GE."

That response, I think, misses the point - GE should pay its own bills without taking welfare.
This is such a stupid crock of shit.  Businesses make bullshit claims and get state subsidies, then complain about having a hard time finding qualified workers.  Screw you, assholes, you get what you pay for, or maybe I ought to say, you get what you don't pay for and instead steal from.

As far as the job blackmail goes, here is my favorite example, and this by an interesting company I've mentioned before:
  Iron Range officials are upset with threats by Magnetation Inc. to build a $300 million iron ore processing plant in another state to get around Minnesota's tough mercury pollution rules.
The Duluth News Tribune reports Magnetation ( is considering sites in Superior, Wis., Indiana and Illinois as an alternative to Minnesota's Itasca County for a plant that will employ about 150 people.
Rep. Tom Rukavina and St. Louis County Commissioner Keith Nelson are criticizing the company because Minnesota gave Magnetation state grants and loans to help it get started.
Magnetation CEO Larry Lehtinen says the company needs a pellet plant operating somewhere by early 2015, and that will require permits in hand this fall. He says Wisconsin, Indiana and Illinois can meet that timeline, but Minnesota regulators haven't made that promise.
Followed by this:
 Governor Mark Dayton signed a new law today that keeps Minnesota in the running for Magnetation Incorporated's 300 million dollar taconite pellet plant project.
The CEO of Magnetation , Larry Lehtinen told the Northlands NewsCenter the new law is an improvement in the environmental permitting process.
Lehtinen says it keeps Minnesota in the running, as his company considers a site for its plant which will create 100 direct jobs.
Representative Tom Anzelc believes the new law makes Minnesota "more" competitive than the other sites and it puts Itasca County in the lead for the plant.
The law which has strong Iron Range support is considered the "2.0" version of one passed last year to speed up the environmental permitting process.
This new version allows the DNR and the PCA to conduct a "pilot program" for an alternative form of environmental review.
If Magnetation does select Itasca County to build its plant, it would be one of just three selected for the pilot program.
Wisconsin and Indiana are also in the running for the pellet plant.
 Tailings, seen in the background, could be a boon for familiies in the range, where the unemployment rate hovers at 13.5%.

Now consider what the company does.  They reprocess iron ore tailings to recover additional ore.  The company is located in the Iron Renge because that's where the tailings are.  The company is proposing to transport the millions of tons of tailings to Superior, Wisconsin (theoretically feasible, but ridiculously stupid) or Indiana (wtf?).  I'd be damn tempted  to tell the company to have fun in Indiana hauling what amounts to massive piles of waste out of my state, if I were governor Dayton.  Good luck getting that business plan to work out, with $4.25 diesel fuel prices to pay.  And this is a startup which has already received state assistance.  That takes some outsized balls to attempt.  I think the company is on to a good idea, but it appears their business plan isn't may not be economically feasible yet if they are  may be using so much job blackmail to get breaks to stay in a region they have to be in.  Either that, or they are extremely greedy bastards.

Reds Get 10,000th Win

Dayton Daily News:
Cincinnati rapped out 12 hits — nine singles — and cruised to a 9-4 win over the Chicago Cubs on Friday for the 10,000th win in franchise history. "When you look ,at 30 different teams and being one of six, it's a pretty cool thing," said outfielder Drew Stubbs. "To be a part of it is pretty special." Harsh winds and chilly temperatures didn't slow Cincinnati's offense. Stubbs drove in three runs for the Reds, who joined the Cubs, Giants, Dodgers, Braves and Cardinals as the only teams to reach the 10,000 win plateau. The Cubs dropped their sixth straight and fell to 3-11 on the year. Winds were blowing in, gusting up to 27 mph, and the game-time temperature was 35 degrees with the wind chill.
While it is a big number, it isn't quite an exclusive club, with the Reds being the sixth of the eight teams who made up the National League from the turn of the century until expansion in 1962 (Each team has been around at least since 1883).  Only the Phillies (9,244 wins) and the Pirates (9,887), each perennial cellar dwellers (the Reds were with them many years) haven't yet reached that milestone.  The Phillies, in fact, trail the Yankees, who have 9,775 wins since 1901.

In another statistical note, the Reds are 6-2 so far in day games, and 0-6 in night games.  Good thing they're playing in Chicago this weekend.

Founding Of The Principality of Hutt River

April 21, 1970:
 The Hutt River Province Principality secedes from Australia.
The Principality of Hutt River, previously known as the Hutt River Province, is the oldest micronation in Australia. The principality claims to be an independent sovereign state having achieved legal status on 21 April 1972, although it remains unrecognised except by other micronations.
The principality is located 517 kilometres (321 mi) north of Perth, near the town of Northampton. If considered independent, it is an enclave of Australia. The principality was founded on 21 April 1970 by Leonard George Casley when he and his associates proclaimed their secession from the state of Western Australia.
The Principality of Hutt River was created in 1970, as a province by the name of Hutt River Province, in response to a dispute with the government of Western Australia over what the Casley family considered draconian wheat production quotas. The Casley farm had around 4,000 hectares (9,900 acres) of wheat ready to harvest when the quotas were issued, which allowed Casley to sell only 1,647 bushels or approximately 40 hectares (99 acres). Initially, the five families who owned farms at Hutt River banded together to fight the quota, and Casley lodged a protest with the Governor of Western Australia, Sir Douglas Kendrew. The Governor replied "no rectification of our Quota would be allowed". Casley reasoned that as the Governor acts as the Queen's representative, this made Her Majesty liable, in tort, for applying an unlawful imposition as the quota had not yet been passed into law. Casley lodged a claim under the Law of Tort for A$52 million in the belief the claim would force a revision of the quota. Two weeks later, the government introduced a bill into Parliament to "resume" their lands under compulsory acquisition. After approaches to the government to reconsider the acquisition bill failed, Casley and his associates resorted to the British Treason Act 1495, which they felt allowed them to secede and declare their independence from the Commonwealth of Australia. Casley has claimed he nonetheless remains loyal to Queen Elizabeth II. He was elected administrator of the new "sovereign state" by his family.

The government of Western Australia determined it could do nothing without the intervention of the Commonwealth. The Governor-General of Australia, Sir Paul Hasluck, later stated that it was unconstitutional for the Commonwealth to intervene in the secession. In correspondence with the governor-general's office, Casley was inadvertently addressed as the "Administrator of the Hutt River Province" which was claimed (via Royal Prerogative) to be a legally binding recognition. After the government threatened him with prosecution, Casley styled himself His Majesty Prince Leonard I of Hutt to take advantage of a Commonwealth law that a monarch could not only not be charged, but that anyone who interfered with his duties could be charged with treason. Although the law in this matter has since changed, the Australian government has not taken any action against Hutt River since the declaration.[citation needed] Under Australian law, the government had two years to respond to Casley's declaration; the failure to respond gave the province de facto autonomy on 21 April 1972.
In 1976, Australia Post refused to handle Hutt River mail, forcing mail to be redirected via Canada. Following repeated demands by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) for the payment of taxes, on 2 December 1977 the province officially declared war on Australia. Prince Leonard notified authorities of the cessation of hostilities several days later. The mail service was restored and tax requests ceased. Hutt River citizens are now classed by the ATO as non-residents of Australia for income tax purposes;[citation needed] thus income earned within the province is exempt from Australian taxation. The province levies its own income tax of 0.5% on financial transactions by foreign companies registered in the province and personal accounts. While the principality does not pay taxes, the Australian government's current official position is that it is nothing more than a private enterprise operating under a business name.
In the early 1980s, the Hutt River Province declared itself to be a kingdom, but soon after reverted to its original status of a principality. The principality proceeded to release a number of its own stamps and coins. In September 2006, Prince Leonard decided to change the name to "Principality of Hutt River" and dropped the word "Province".
That is very interesting.  Those damned wheat quotas have caused all kinds of trouble.  That's what got Roscoe Filburn's name forever enshrined in U.S. history.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Colorado Spring Cleaning

All Things Considered:
Michael Carroll, a spokesman for the Wilderness Society in Colorado, said cattle are often allowed to wander on federal wilderness lands as long as the owner gets a permit from the Forest Service, and sometimes the animals get separated from the herd. The Forest Service said it is still trying to locate the rancher who lost the cows, and it was not known if the rancher had a permit.
Forest Service spokesman Brian Porter said rangers saw about six cows inside the cabin, and several dead cows lying around the building.
"There is a lot of snow, and it's hard to determine how many cows are there," Porter said.
U.S. Forest Service spokesman Steve Segin said Tuesday they need to decide quickly how to get rid of the carcasses.
"Obviously, time is of the essence because we don't want them defrosting," Segin said.
Segin said officials are concerned about water contamination in the nearby hot springs if the cows start decomposing during the thaw.
The options: use explosives to break up the cows, burn down the cabin, or using a helicopters or trucks to haul out the carcasses.
But Segin said using helicopters is too expensive and rangers are worried about using trucks in a wilderness area, where the government bars permanent improvements and tries to preserve the natural habitat.
Here's some USDA guidance on the obliteration process.

A Visit To Chicago

The Reds won their first game at Wrigley Field this year.  Since it is their first trip to Chicago this year, I ought to let Marty Brennaman discuss his opinion of Cubs fans:

Something For Red States To Ponder

Brad Plumer, via Ritholtz:
 But a new report from the McKinsey Global Institute offers an curious twist on this old tale. The United States, it turns out, actually derives more economic benefit from its cities than any other country on the planet. Roughly 83 percent of America’s GDP came from its “large cities,” defined as cities with a population of 150,000 or more. By contrast, China got 78 percent of its GDP from large cities and Western Europe got a surprisingly small 65 percent of its GDP from its large urban areas.The report’s authors argue that the city gap between the United States and Europe account for about three-quarters of the difference in per capita GDP between the two. In other words, the United States appears to be wealthier than Europe because it has a greater share of its population living in large, productive cities.
All told, some 80 percent of Americans live in large cities, versus just 58 percent of Western Europeans. Why the difference? The McKinsey report explains language barriers in Europe have made migration from rural to urban areas somewhat slower on that continent. Also, various E.U. programs have “transferred funds from richer metropolitan regions in its member states to poor rural ones.” Government spending in Europe has helped limit urban migration.
Folks in the sticks think that cities suck off of them, but it tends to be the other way around.  

After Friday Night Lights

Buzz Bissinger went back to find out what happened the the folks he covered in Friday Night Lights.  Here's an excerpt from his new book, After Friday Night Lights:
When Boobie got hurt in Lubbock during that preseason scrimmage of 1988 and another black player with excellent skills came out of nowhere to replace him, the Permian coaches no longer had to pretend to deal with Boobie any longer. They were relieved he wasn't playing, and one white coach referred to Boobie as a "big ol' dumb n-----."
I never named the coach in the book because I liked him. This was also the price of access. I realize now that this was a mistake, because of the devastating impact his comment has had on Boobie. His name was Mike Belew. He coached the running backs, and he was otherwise affable and self-deprecating. He later married an African American woman, hardly the actions of a racist. It may have been ignorance speaking, but it doesn't matter. Belew's anonymous words, which Boobie came across in the book, scarred him forever.
As we drive to Monahans and sift through the cold ashes of Boobie's Permian experience, he asks me who called him "a big ol' dumb n-----." I tell him. I think he has known for a long time anyway. "I could not believe he would say that shit about me," Boobie says. "That hurt for real when he said that. I could not get that shit out of my mind. He actually called me that, bro."
When I put Belew's words in the book, the intent was to show the virulence of the racism expressed against Boobie once he got hurt. But several years later, we were talking about the book when Boobie railed against what the then-unnamed coach had said about him: "Do you have any fucking idea of how it feels to see this stuff said about you and know it's goin' to be there forever?"
He was right. In my mind, I had been protecting Boobie by using the anonymous quote. But the only person I was protecting was the coach who said it. If I exposed Boobie to the sentiments of that coach, I should have exposed Belew at the same time. So 22 years later, I am correcting the mistake.
Bissinger makes a good point.  His coverage of the incident was very important to the book, but it was unfair to leave the coach anonymous when Boobie was laid out in the open.

Romney Misses Housing Bubble

At a speech at a closed Lorain, Ohio drywall plant, Mitt Romney attacks Obama:
Mitt Romney brought his fledgling general election campaign to the battleground state of Ohio on Thursday, calling out President Obama just a few miles from where the president spoke yesterday.
"This factory is empty. It is owned by National Gypsum. It was closed in 2008 at the beginning of the economic downturn. Had the president’s economic plans worked, President Obama’s plans worked, it would have been open by now," Romney said on the floor of a factory where Obama campaigned as a candidate in February of 2008.
"But it is still empty, And it underscores the failure of this president’s policies with regards to getting the economy going again," Romney said, just miles from Lorain County Community College, where the president visited Wednesday.
Hmm, I wonder why that plant is still closed?  Maybe this (from Calculated Risk):

 Maybe without a giant oversupply of houses, there would be more drywall sales.  I'm not sure how this is laid at Obama's feet, but whatever.

Fenway Turns 100

All Things Considered:

Fenway has been called the 10th player of the Boston Red Sox — its single most enduring star. Players and owners come and go, but Fenway remains, familiar and timeless. The right foul line is still marked by Pesky's Pole, the old Citgo sign still shines over the park, and the iconic Green Monster still keeps score in left field.
"Today, when I walk in the park, I don't feel no different at all," says 94-year-old Lou Lucier, a former Red Sox pitcher, and now the oldest living Red Sox player. He can still remember taking the mound for his first Fenway game in 1943.
"Oh, Jesus," he says. "To tell you the truth, it didn't feel too good."
To a pitcher especially, Lucier says, that Green Monster in left field loomed large.
"That fence is so damn close, you get on the mound, you turn around, and seems like it's at second base," he says.
Even worse, all the nooks and crevices in the Green Monster, and that funky triangle deep in center field, made Fenway feel like a pinball machine.
"I thought, 'What the heck kind of a baseball park is this?' " Lucier says. "The way the ball bounces off that wall ... Sheeeez."
Today that wall has become one of the most visited tourist attractions in the city of Boston, and new "Monster seats" installed on top of it are so popular you can only get them through an online lottery.
Every baseball fan has to watch at least one game at Fenway.  In the same 100 years, the Reds played in three different ballparks.  The first game at Fenway , just like the game 100 years later, was against the Yankees.

Cryobot Explorers

Future extraterrestrial rovers may be powered remotely by high-energy laser beams shot through miles of thin fiber-optic cables. This new technology could allow robotic probes to penetrate thick layers of ice to explore Antarctic lakes or the subterranean oceans on icy moons like Europa or Enceladus, and even power a new kind of rocket into space. “Our modest goal over the next three years is to use a 5,000-watt laser to send a cryobot through up to 250 meters of ice,” inventor and explorer Bill Stone, who presented the new concept today at NASA’s Astrobiology Science Conference in Atlanta, told Wired. “All the data show there are no show-stoppers for doing that. But from my standpoint, this is child’s play compared to what we could do.”
The problem for scientists hoping to study the ocean of liquid water believed to lie beneath Europa’s icy crust has always been the amount of energy required to melt through miles of ice. Solar power won’t work below the surface, and batteries won’t last long enough. And while a small nuclear reactor might have enough power, the footprint would be too large for a device NASA might realistically expect to drill miles down. A nuclear device couldn’t be tested in Antarctica either, because of international treaty restrictions. The new robot, a 6-foot by 10-inch cylinder called VALKYRIE, would leave its power plant on the surface, along with a high-energy laser. The laser beam would travel down miles of fiber-optic cable that unspools as the robot penetrates the ice, explores the ocean collecting samples and then melts its way back up to the surface, sealing the hole behind it.
The team has built and tested the laser-fiber-optic power system at Stone’s lab in Texas and plans to test it with a working cryobot at Alaska’s Matanuska Glacier in June 2013.

Those Poor Rich Folks

The Wall Street Journal makes the case that the tax code is amply progressive:
What’s more, the wealthiest earners are paying a higher tax rate than they did in 2008.
Consider the following chart, which shows adjusted gross incomes and average tax rates, i.e., total income tax as a percentage of adjusted gross income less deficit:
We all know that the one percent (those making around $340,000 a year) as a group pay a higher rate than any other income group. Yet the new IRS data show that even the $1 million-plus earners (the top fraction of the one percent) pays the highest rate.
It’s only when you get to somewhere between the $10 million-plus earners and the “Fortunate 400″–the 400 highest earners–that the tax rates paid start to dip. And when they dip, they still dip to levels far above the average rates paid by 90% of Americans. The Fortunate 400 paid a rate of more than 18% in the latest period.
This isn’t to argue against higher taxes on the wealthy. Nor does it deny that some rich people reduce their taxes to well below the official rates through tax avoidance schemes and capital gains.
Yet the charts do support the previous findings that a growing number of today’s wealthy make their money from salaries rather than capital gains. And those top earners as a group still pay the highest rates in the country.
So, plain old folks who make over $1 million a year pay high tax rates, and it's only when you get to the folks making OVER $10 MILLION A YEAR WHO PAY LOWER RATES THAN PEOPLE MAKING $200,000 TO $500,000.  Just a quick question, WHY IN THE HELL IS THAT?

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Vatican To Nuns: Hate On Gays, Please

Alexander Abad-Santos:
So far, the LCWR hasn't responded to the reprimand. But, The New York Times' Laurie Goodstein spoke to Sister Simone Campbell, an executive director of a social justice lobby called Network, which was also cited by the Vatican for (prepare yourself; this sounds kind of puzzling), "focusing its work too much on poverty and economic injustice, while keeping 'silent' on abortion and same-sex marriage."  “I would imagine that it was our health care letter that made them mad,” Sister Campbell told Goodstein, in reference to a letter her organization and the LCWR signed in support of Obama's 2010 health care overhaul . “We haven’t violated any teaching, we have just been raising questions and interpreting politics.”
The Catholic hierarchy works hard to stay ahead of the Republican Party in the foolhardy dogmatism category.  I don't understand it.  They don't seem like they'll be happy until they've driven out everyone but the overzealous homophobic closet cases.  I guess it's good they didn't put Cardinal Law in charge of keeping the crazy nuns in line.  He's handled so many other troublemakers oh so successfully.

Slow Mo Stupidity

Via the Dish:

Sustainability And The Bottom Line

Dubner:So getting a high CSR score means that you have to not only pollute less, but you also have to treat your employees and your customers ethically; you have to set long-term goals that may not necessarily help your quarterly earnings, which is what the Street cares about; and of course you have to take time to constantly report your progress to places like the U.N.
Ryssdal: But wait a second: What does that all that do for your bottom line, right? Because companies are in the business to make money and you know, shareholder value and all that stuff. Does this pay off?
Dubner: It sounds like it'd be a bad bet for the bottom line, doesn't it, Kai? Isn't that what you're thinking?
Ryssdal: That's where I'm going, yeah.
Dubner: Unfortunately, you're a little bit off on this. The good news is that --
Ryssdal: Again, I'm wrong with Stephen Dubner!
Dubner: The good news is that there is an upside apparently. So George Serafeim at the Harvard Business School has just finished an analysis of 180 U.S. companies over the course of 20 years to measure the effect, if any, that being a good corporate citizen has on a company's bottom line. Now, he did this by comparing the financial performance of firms that exhibited high sustainability behavior versus low sustainability firms.
George Serafeim: We found that the high sustainability group out-performs the low sustainability group in terms of stock market performance. And also we found that the high sustainability group out-performs the low sustainability group in terms of operating performance as well. Whether you look at in term of assets or in terms of equity, you find stronger performance.
So you do things more sustainably, more efficiently and more ethically, and you make more money?  Don't tell that to the radical anti-environmentalists in the Republican Party, they'll freak out.  They'd rather burn money than do anything sensible.

The Simpsons Premiere

April 19, 1987:
The Simpsons premieres as a short cartoon on The Tracey Ullman Show
Also, the Battles of Lexington and Concord started the Revolutionary War on April 19, 1775.

Ride The Train To Wrigley

One of the private cars taking fans from Indianapolis to Chicago Friday, April 20 for the Reds-Cubs game at Wrigley Field is owned by Cincinnatian Tom McOwen and is part of the Cincinnati Railway stable of cars. The car is Northern Pacific No. 558 Dome Coach, known as "The Observatory," and seats 24 in a glass-enclosed bubble for 360-degree viewing.

Cincinnati Enquirer:
Baseball by rail gets a rebirth Friday morning when Whitewater Valley Railroad of Connersville, Ind., runs three private passenger cars – one of them owned by Cincinnatian Tom McOwen – from Indianapolis to Chicago for the Reds-Cubs game at Wrigley Field that afternoon.

Barring any last-minute signups by former Reds players in their boxer shorts, baseball by rail this time around figures to be a slightly tamer, fans-only experience.

Tickets are on sale until 5 p.m. Thursday by calling 765-825-2054 or online at

For fans in Reds Country, the first word of Friday’s trip back in time came on the wind like a distant train whistle. Whitewater Valley Railroad had bought some radio spots on WLW-AM on Opening Day.
Sounds like a good time.  The story about Rocky Bridges jumping out of the train in his skivvies is pretty entertaining, too.

EPA Regulates Fracking Air Pollution

All Things Considered:
At a green completion currently under way a few hours from Denver, Balderston points out a jumble of pipes, valves and tanks about the size of a UPS truck.
"The whole flow of the whole well — gas, water, everything — comes in one pipe," Balderston says. The equipment separates the gas from the water and the solids. "Basically oil floats on the water and gas floats on all that. It pretty much separates itself out all on its own."
Once the natural gas is separated and collected, it goes into the pipeline system, where Balderston's company, Encana, can sell it. So gas that was previously burned in a flare or vented as waste is now profit.
Though there are costs associated with the equipment and people needed to run it, "the benefits far outweigh those costs in the long run," Balderston says.
But he says green completions and other recent improvements greatly reduce the industry's impact on the environment.
"You just can't begin to imagine how fast things have changed [in the industry], just in the last few years — to the good," he says. "All of us guys that work out here feel more comfortable in what we do now because of that. These changes are positive for all of us."
However, no surprise, some industry groups are opposed to things that save money long term and are better for the environment:
 But even with the caveats, some companies still oppose the EPA's rules: They say states and not the federal government should get to decide whether rules like these are necessary.
Yeah, just what I'd want, having backwater states like Alabama and Mississippi control the regulatory process.  That'd turn out well.

Chart of the Day

Via Ritholtz:

House Subcommittee Discusses Locks And Dams

Progressive Farmer:

Navigation outages have tripled since 2000, increasing from 25,000 hours to 80,000 hours a year, according to a soybean checkoff funded study. At least 56% of the existing locks and dams are older than their design life, which is usually 50 years. Thirty-four operating locks are more than 80 years old.
Chairman of the House Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee Bob Gibbs, R-Ohio, said it's clear the panel and most of the committee members at the hearing recognize that funding for inland waterways needs to be fixed, but finding a workable solution is a bigger challenge given the current budget environment.
"What I cannot seem to rectify are the strong support sustaining efforts of the corps while members continue to vote to cut the funds," said Ranking Member Timothy Bishop, D-N.Y, said. "In my view, our infrastructure will only be as good as we are willing to pay for."
Steenhoek explained to the committee that during his three trips to the Panama Canal in recent years, he didn't see the leaking gates or cracking concrete visible at many U.S. locks. And those locks were built in 1914.
"How the money is allocated is just as important as how much money is allocated," Steenhoek repeated several times during the hearing. In the case of the canal, the government of Panama allocated $5.25 billion in 2007. That money was guaranteed for the contractors, enabling them to make large purchases without worrying about receiving their next check.
It was somewhat embarrassing for the government to announce the third set of locks will be completed three months later than initially planned even though the project is under budget, Steenhoek said.
Compare that to the Olmsted Lock and Dam Project, a major topic of Wednesday's hearing. It was initially projected to cost $775 million and take seven years to build when it was authorized by Congress in 1988. Now, the project is projected to cost more than $3 billion and be complete by 2020.
One problem with the Olmstead Lock and Dam Project was very bad advice from consulting engineers. The other problem is inconsistent funding from a dysfunctional Congress full of members like Jim Jordan.  In spite of how badly one project goes, it is extremely important to improve our inland waterway system.  It is a major advantage for midwestern farmers when competing in the world market.  Brazilians would love to have even our outdated system.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Schmallenberg Virus A Warning

IBT, via nc links:
Schmallenberg virus - named after the German town where it was first detected in November - infected sheep and cows on at least 2,600 farms in eight EU countries last year, most likely between August and October.

Thought to have been spread for hundreds of miles across Europe by biting midges and warm late summer winds, the virus has since been confirmed in Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, France, Italy, Spain and Britain.

It is particularly harmful to the offspring of animals infected during early pregnancy, resulting in stillbirths and malformations such as brain deformities, twisted spines and locked joints.

The impact on EU livestock production has been limited, and all the evidence so far shows that the virus poses no risk to humans. But scientists and officials say the rapid emergence and spread of Schmallenberg should be a cause for concern.

"It is certainly a warning for the whole world in the sense that, unfortunately, new threats may emerge," said Alberto Laddomada, a former virologist who heads the animal health unit at the European Commission.

"This virus has spread very, very quickly in the European Union amongst an animal population of many millions. Considering the massive spread in a population that is fully susceptible, the virus itself has had a limited impact," he told Reuters.
It sounds like it only impacts animals' offspring if they are in the early stages of pregnancy, then the animals are immune. It sure is scary that a disease can spread that quickly, though.

Lightning Strikes Eight Times

At yahoo:

The San Francisco Bay Area has been buffeted by bad weather lately, and as a rare thunder storm rumbled through, photographer Phil McGrew thought to set up his camera and snapped rare sight: Eight bolts of lightning hitting the Bay Bridge.
The San Francisco currency trader, who took up photography two years ago, set up his camera from his office in San Francisco, and set the lens to a long exposure. He wrote on Flickr, "This shot has been on my list since moving to San Francisco. Unfortunately, I've only seen lightning 3 times in the 2 years I've lived here. Tonight, I got lightning in 3 seperate 20 second exposures. This is a single exposure."
That is a sweet photo.

Are The Robots Coming For Us?

Based on some potentially questionable data, Stuart Staniford comes up with this population growth chart:

Once the robots figure out how to build more robots, or perfect robot sex, we're screwed.  Instead of the robots working for us, we'll be their slaves.  I, for one, welcome our new robot overlords.

Chimpanzee Engineers

Scientific American:
When they are ready to snuggle up at the tops of trees, great apes make themselves cozy "nests" in which to rest for the night. New studies of these one-night nests reveal their incredible complexity.
"They are almost as complex as a man-made shelter you might make," study researcher A. Roland Ennos of the University of Manchester, in the United Kingdom, told LiveScience. "They know how the wood is going to break, and they have a feel for how strong they have to make it [the nest]. That shows the apes have intelligence and have a feel for the physics of their environment."
These nests are about 4 to 5 feet long and about 3 feet wide (1.2 to 1.5 meters long, and slightly less that 1 meter wide). The apes make them in the forest canopy, which can be between 30 and 60 feet (10 and 20 m) up, and it takes them only about 10 minutes to build. They use the nests only once, and then move on. The nests keep them warmer, away from insects and keep them safe, up off the forest floor.
That is pretty sweet.  It is likely that apes and engineers also share some hygiene traits.

The Longest Pro Baseball Game Ever Played

April 18, 1981:
The longest professional baseball game is begun in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. The game is suspended at 4:00 the next morning and finally completed on June 23.
The Pawtucket Red Sox and Rochester Red Wings, two teams from the Triple-A International League, played the longest game in professional baseball history. It lasted for 33 innings over eight hours and 25 minutes. 32 innings were played from 18 to 19 April 1981 at McCoy Stadium in Pawtucket, Rhode Island.
I don't think I'd make it until the 32nd inning.

Natural Gas Oversupply Drives Down Prices

Morning Edition:
"Historically, this has always been kind of a self-governing mechanism," Ricchiuti says. "When natural gas prices got too low, you'd start to see the industry lay down rigs until prices went back up again, and it was very effective. It was sometimes jokingly referred to as the 'Redneck OPEC.' "
OPEC refers to the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, a grouping of the world's major oil producers.
That's not happening this time, and Ricchiuti says there are a couple of reasons the industry isn't responding as usual to price pressures. One reason is that during the shale gas explosion of the past few years, production companies spent big bucks leasing mineral rights in vast shale gas areas from Pennsylvania to Texas.
Joe Averett lives in the middle of one of those areas, the Haynesville Shale in northern Louisiana. The oil and gas industry veteran says drilling continues there because many of the three-year leases will expire soon if the producers don't drill.
"They're still drilling wells just to hold the lease, and them having to do that, that's continued the excess production," Averett says.
Averett says it's not unusual for gas production to outstrip demand at this time of the year, as stocks begin to be built for the next winter. Today, there's dramatically more produced than consumed, he says, and that has him worried.

Chart of the Day

Dayton Daily News:

Taxpayers filing last-minute returns today will be paying the lowest state income tax Ohio has seen in 30 years.
The rates that went into effect this year for last year’s earned income continue a downward trend and haven’t been lower since 1981 for people earning less than $80,000 per year, according to a Dayton Daily News analysis of Ohio Department of Taxation records.
While income tax rates have fallen, income tax collections have continued growing. Increased revenue from income tax collections is not directly caused by the falling rates, according to Richard Stock, University of Dayton’s Director of Business Research Group.
“Tax collections rise when incomes rise,” Stock said.
“Incomes increase when gross domestic product increases. Real GDP has been rising all through this period except at particular recessionary points ... so you would expect incomes and therefore tax collections to rise.”
Wait a second, income tax collections have continued to grow?  We are at the same collection rate as we were in 2005, and that isn't in inflation adjusted dollars.  I don't think you can point at a chart not adjusted to inflation and say that tax collections continue to rise.  Give me a chart adjusted for inflation please

I just heard a coworker complaining about how unfriendly to business Ohio is.  Give me a break.  Ohio bends over backwards for business.  But income taxes aren't friendly to businesses.  Sure, tax cuts which lead to cuts in education spending don't help prepare an educated workforce, but hey, that gives businesses something else to complain about.

Corn Planting Ahead Of Schedule

Des Moines Register:
The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Tuesday said that 17 percent of the U.S. corn crop has been planted as of Sunday, well ahead of the normal 5 percent pace by this date.
In Iowa, which along with other upper Midwest states traditionally plants later, 5 percent of the crop was planted by Sunday compared o a normal rate of 3 percent.
The USDA said the weekend rains improved Iowa’s soil moisture situation, noting “topsoil moisture levels improved to 6 percent very short, 21 percent short, 66 percent adequate, and 7 percent surplus.”...
Illinois, Iowa’s annual rival for national corn producing leader, reported 41 percent of its crop planted mostly in the warmer southern half of the state. Kentucky and North Carolina both reported 59 percent of their crops planted, and Missouri reported 39 percent planted.
Analysts and traders had expected a better-than-usual start to planting because of generally warm and dry conditions, especially in the southern parts of the corn belt. Planting in Iowa and elsewhere in the Midwest has been temporarily delayed as fields dry from heavy weekend rains.
Ohio corn is 10% planted, well ahead of the 2% five year average.  

Florida's Rent-a-cow Scam

Florida's CAUV law lets just about anybody claim to be a farmer:
The greenbelt law dates back to 1959, a time when Florida's swamps and orange groves were first giving way to suburban strip malls and sub divisions. As former state senator Steven Geller said to me, it was a troubled time for farmers. Land was assessed and taxed based on its most profitable potential use, and for the most part, that meant real estate. Because citrus trees didn't offer the same returns as new condos, many farmers were forced to either sell their property or risk being priced out. The greenbelt law offered a solution by dropping rates for agricultural land.
Other states have passed similar laws that work as intended. The problem with Florida's, Geller said, is its vague wording. To qualify for the exemption, property owners are required to use their land for "bona fide" agricultural purposes. But what does "bona fide" mean? That's far from clear. Aided by lax court rulings, developers have seized on that ambiguity by leasing out their land to cattle ranchers while they prepare to build, often shaving hundreds of thousands of dollars off their tax bills.
What does it take to qualify for the exemption? Often just a few underfed animals roaming around a mud patch. Property owners must submit a form to the government and provide evidence that they are engaged in "good-faith commercial agriculture." They don't have to generate an income from their operations. Many have been allowed to claim the exemption even after rezoning their land for non-agricultural purposes. Others have received the break after starting construction. In its unsparing, 2005 investigation of the greenbelt law, reporters from the Miami Herald visited so-called farmland where they encountered cows eating trash in grassless fields and dead animals decomposing in the dirt. Here are couple of their descriptions:
  • Developer Armando Codina and his partners pay ranchers to keep cows on their land in northwest Miami-Dade County so they can get agricultural tax breaks while building industrial warehouses. One so-called pasture is a soggy wasteland littered with downed trees. Months before Codina requested farmland tax breaks, he asked Miami-Dade to declare the entire site an environmentally contaminated "brownfield." 2004 property tax savings: $250,273.
  • Cows wander amid concrete pads and utility boxes on 49 acres in Southwest Ranches, where developer Richard Bell plans to build homes priced at $1.5 million and up.... The rancher reported 16 cows last year. 2004 property tax savings: $140,168.
Other beneficiaries of the law have included Walt Disney World ($1.5 million in savings), as well as U.S. Senator Bill Nelson ($43,000 in savings), who keeps about six cows on 55 acres of land near the Indian River, courtesy of a cattle ranching operation that leases the property for free. Like Nelson, some developers simply offer their land to ranchers for no charge. Others, as the Herald noted, actually pay the ranchers -- hence the loophole's nickname, "rent-a-cow."
Ohio's law is pretty loose, but I don't know if it is this loose.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Kentucky Loses Starting Five

Kentucky's starting lineup of three freshmen and two sophomores did most everything together. Now, they will go their separate ways in the NBA.
Freshmen Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Marquis Teague, and sophomores Terrence Jones and Doron Lamb declared for the draft in a nationally televised news conference Tuesday night.
"We made it work," Jones said. "We all wanted to be there and do it together like we've done everything else together."
The group, all clad in similar blue UK golf shirts, came into the season largely untested before ascending to No. 1, winning the Southeastern Conference in dominating fashion and capping an NCAA tournament run with a 67-59 victory over Kansas in the title game for the school's eighth championship.
"It's been a great opportunity playing here. I'll miss this team, the way we played together. We all love each other," said Davis, who picked up every major player of the year award and is likely the No. 1 pick in June's draft. "I'm just going to miss this place. We won an NCAA championship here and did a lot. We all did a lot for this school and I'm going to miss it."  The five join seniors Darius Miller, who is also projected to be drafted, and Eloy Vargas in leaving the program.
Ok, what's the over-under on when this title will be vacated?  Calipari had his final four appearances at UMass and Memphis vacated.  I'll go with 2 years.

Caine's Arcade

Via the Dish:

Filmmaker Nirvan Mullick explains:
One day, by chance, I walked into Smart Parts Auto looking for a used door handle for my ’96 Corolla. What I found was an elaborate handmade cardboard arcade manned by a young boy who asked if I would like to play. I asked Caine how it worked and he told me that for $1 I could get two turns, or for $2 I could get a Fun Pass with 500 turns. I got the Fun Pass.....In the film, Mullick used Facebook and Reddit to plan a flashmob to surprise Caine at his arcade, in what would become "the best day of Caine’s life." The silver lining to this story is the scholarship fund Mullick set up for Caine’s college education, which has already raised more than $90,000. Mullick astutely notes, there’s no saying what this boy could accomplish with an engineering degree.

The Choking Game

Morning Edition:
"The choking game is a strangulation activity that some kids participate in, using either their hands or something like a rope or a belt or something like that," she says.
Why? Thomas A. Andrew, New Hampshire's chief medical examiner, who has studied the trend, explains: "As the brain is deprived of oxygen, there's this sensation of lightheadedness, which is interpreted as a high. And then once the pressure is released and blood flow is restored in a fashion, they see stars and the feeling is described as a rush," he said.
According to a study Hedberg's colleagues published today in the journal Pediatrics, around 6 percent of more than 5,000 middle-schoolers surveyed in Portland, Ore., have tried the choking game. And about a quarter of them have tried it at least five times, the researchers reported.
"With each of those episodes, obviously, just a little bit of the brain is being damaged," Andrew said. "So who knows what the long-term effects may be on children who do this repeatedly?"

And no one really knows how often the game is being played or how many kids may have died. Back in 2008, a national estimate put the death toll from the choking game at about 82 between 1995 and 2007. But the study relied on media reports that couldn't be verified independently. And many deaths that weren't reported in the news could have been missed.
Man, kids were doing something like this 20 years ago when I was in school (some people also tried smoking corn silk, don't try that either).  However, instead of one person trying to do it to himself, our version involved two people.  If I remember correctly, one person would cross his arms across his chest and hold his shoulders with the opposite hands, and then take a deep breath and hold it.  The other person would bear hug him and pick him up for a little bit.  The first person would faint, and the person would let him go and the guy would collapse on the floor, maybe flop around a little bit and hallucinate.  It always seemed like a really dumb thing to do in my opinion, so I never tried it.  But unlike trying to use a belt to choke yourself, a person actually had a spotter, and usually, several people hung around to watch.  I would guess that if something went wrong, it was more likely that somebody would get help, unlike a person who was by himself.  Maybe those 20 years have been the choking game version of Bowling Alone.  Anyway kids, while the guys I knew who did this are only slightly off in the head, don't do it, it's stupid.

The Forty Year Rule Of Nostalgia

Adam Gopnik:
So it seems time to pronounce a rule about American popular culture: the Golden Forty-Year Rule. The prime site of nostalgia is always whatever happened, or is thought to have happened, in the decade between forty and fifty years past. (And the particular force of nostalgia, one should bear in mind, is not simply that it is a good setting for a story but that it is a good setting for you.)
To cases. In the nineteen-forties—the first decade in which all the major components of mass culture were up and running, even early television—the beloved focus of nostalgia was the innocent aughts of the early century, a time imagined as one of perky girls in long dresses and shy boys in straw hats. “Meet Me in St. Louis,” a film made in 1944 about a fair held in 1904, was perhaps the most lovable of the many forties entertainments set in the aughts, from “The Magnificent Ambersons” to “Take Me Out to the Ball Game,” a musical made in 1948 about a song written in 1908. The nineteen-fifties saw lots of movies about the First World War—“The Seven Little Foys,” anyone?—and kicked off our Titanic romance, with “A Night to Remember.” The decade also brought the revival of the jazz of the teens, with the essentially serious music of Joe Oliver and Jelly Roll Morton recast by middle-aged white men in straw boaters and striped jackets as something softer, called Dixieland.
Twenties nostalgia ran right through the nineteen-sixties, beginning with the 1960 TV series “The Roaring 20’s.”
I was definitely enthralled in the '40s and '50s when I was a late teen.  I even wanted a Homburg, even though I never intended to wear a suit with it. Later on, I found out the fifties weren't all that exciting, especially if you were a woman or black.  It was kind of like today's Republican Party.  If this rule holds up, that would mean the Godawful Seventies will be coming into fashion for the nostalgia set.  Actually, I thought we got through that a few years ago.  Hopefully those shitty days will never come back into fashion.

Wind Farms Only Kill Some Birds

BBC, via nc links:
Many bird species are unaffected by wind farms, concludes a study carried out by UK bird charities.
Scientists with the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) and RSPB found that building the turbines was more disruptive than operating them.
Impacts varied between species, with red grouse numbers recovering after construction, curlews declining and not recovering, and skylarks increasing.
Their findings are published in the Journal of Applied Ecology.
This is the latest in a long line of studies on wind farms' interactions with birds, but differs from most in its scale.
Ten species of birds were included, and 18 wind farms in upland areas of the UK were studied - most were monitored before construction began, during construction, and again afterwards.
Well, our lean consultant who was opposed to compact fluorescent bulbs also was opposed to wind turbines, purportedly because they slaughter birds (and not because he was a right wing nutjob). I guess he can rest a little easier now.

Bobby Valentine Steps In It

For those of you who haven't yet heard the shot heard by Red Sox Nation — and what great timing, given Monday's local holiday that marks the Battles of Lexington and Concord — Valentine went on a local radio show and said Kevin Youkilis hasn't been his old self.
"I don't think he's as physically or emotionally into the game as he has been in the past for some reason," Valentine said on WHDH's SportsXtra.
Is it true? Maybe it is. Maybe it isn't. But all of us who have never donned a dugout disguise can agree this is way too early to be throwing something like that out there — even if Youk is off to a .200/.265/.233 start over eight games.
It is going to be entertaining watching Valentine in Boston. He just can't help pissing people off, and Boston just loves a soap opera. Should be a good show, especially if they keep sucking.

Freaky Ferrofluids


The black liquid mixture is known as a ferrofluid, and is made up of nano-sized, iron-containing particles suspended in water or an organic solvent. When a magnetic field is applied, the ferrofluid puffs out, creating some alien-looking shapes and formations.
Originally discovered in the 1960s at NASA, ferrofluids have found many modern uses. They form liquid seals around the spinning drive shafts of hard disks, dampen unwanted resonances to help improve the sound quality of loudspeakers, and have even found their way into museum art exhibits.
In this gallery, Wired takes a look at some of the best videos, both artistic and scientific, featuring these magical ferrofluids.

The Three Hundred and Thirty Five Years' War

April 17, 1986:
The Three Hundred and Thirty Five Years' War between the Netherlands and the Isles of Scilly ends.
The Three Hundred and Thirty Five Years' War (Dutch: Driehonderdvijfendertigjarige Oorlog) was a war between the Netherlands and the Isles of Scilly (located off the southwest coast of Great Britain). It is said to have been extended by the lack of a peace treaty for 335 years without a single shot being fired, which would make it one of the world's longest wars and the war with the fewest casualties. Despite the uncertain validity of the declaration of war, peace was finally declared in 1986.
The origins of the war can be found in the Second English Civil War, fought between the Royalists and Parliamentarians from 1642 to 1652. Oliver Cromwell had fought the Royalists to the edges of the Kingdom of England. In the West of England this meant that Cornwall was the last Royalist stronghold. In 1648, Cromwell pushed on until mainland Cornwall was in the hands of the Parliamentarians.
The Royalist Navy was forced to retreat to the Isles of Scilly, which lie off the Cornish coast and were under the ownership of Royalist John Grenville.
The navy of the United Provinces of the Netherlands was allied with the Parliamentarians. The Netherlands had been assisted by the English under a number of rulers in the Eighty Years' War (1568–1648), starting with Queen Elizabeth I of England. The Treaty of Münster (30 January 1648) had confirmed Dutch independence from Spain. The Netherlands sought to maintain their alliance with England and had chosen to ally with what seemed would be the victorious side in the Civil War.
The Dutch Navy was suffering heavy losses from the Royalist fleet based in Scilly. On 30 March 1651, Admiral Maarten Harpertszoon Tromp arrived in Scilly to demand reparation from the Royalist fleet for the Dutch ships and goods taken by them.
According to Whitelocke's Memorials (cited in Bowley, 2001), a letter of 17 April 1651 explains: "Tromp came to Pendennis and related that he had been to Scilly to demand reparation for the Dutch ships and goods taken by them; and receiving no satisfactory answer, he had, according to his Commission, declared war on them".
As most of England was now in Parliamentarian hands, war was declared specifically upon the Isles of Scilly.
In June 1651, soon after the declaration of war, the Parliamentarian forces under Admiral Robert Blake forced the Royalist fleet to surrender. The Netherlands fleet, no longer under threat, left without firing a shot. Due to the obscurity of one nation's declaration of war against a small part of another, the Dutch did not officially declare peace.
In 1985, Roy Duncan, historian and Chairman of the Isles of Scilly Council, wrote to the Dutch Embassy in London to dispose of the myth that the islands were still at war. Embassy staff found the myth to be accurate and Duncan invited the Dutch ambassador Jhr. Rein Huydecoper to visit the islands and sign a peace treaty. Peace was declared on 17 April 1986, 335 years after the "war" began. The Ambassador joked that it must have been harrowing to the Scillonians "to know we could have attacked at any moment."
Ok, that's just stupid. Hopefully, we won't be at war in Afghanistan that long, but you never know.  Unfortunately, there have been a lot of casualties in Afghanistan.

Some Related News Stories

First, this story from the Dayton Daily News:

Those entities have applied for Montgomery County Economic Development/Government Equity (ED/GE) funds to explore logistics and distribution market segments, identify distribution companies that might be recruited to the area around the interchange of Interstates 70 and 75 and improve infrastructure where necessary.
Someone would be hired to oversee much of this full-time, say those involved.
With another $75,000 from the state’s public-private development arm, JobsOhio, the Montgomery County Transportation Improvement District would use the funds to hire a contract employee for 12 to 15 months for the project, according to the ED/GE application.
Then this:
The Ohio Tax Credit Authority approved in late March a 75 percent, 15-year “job creation” tax credit for Abbott worth an estimated $8 million-plus. And Tipp City recently approved an incentive package worth more than $1.2 million, including an agreement to build an east-west access road on the south side of the Abbott lot, off County Road 25A in southern Miami County. The road is being partially funded by the state.
Kasich believes the state’s investment will be won back through worker tax revenues in about 15 months. “It was a good package,” the governor said after the ceremonial groundbreaking. “We didn’t give away the store.”
The 250,000-square-foot plant, which will be completed in about 18 months, will produce three drinks: Ensure, for adults; Glucerna, for those with diabetes; and PediaSure, for infants and young children.
The company chose Tipp City because of its nearness to interstates 75 and 70, its historical familiarity with Ohio (the company’s nutrition products division was founded in Columbus) and its expectation of a well-trained work force.
Ok, so both stories mention nearness to the I-75 and I-70 interchange.  So what?  Well, there's this:
 he Dayton Region sits at the intersection of I-70 and I-75, giving it access to one of the most highly traveled intersections in the United States. In fact, the Dayton Region is within 600 miles of 53% of the U.S. population and 60%of workers currently employed in manufacturing industry, providing short commutes to major markets.
Travel time within the city is also convenient. The daily community time is five minutes below the national commute average and compares favorably to various metropolitan areas.
Within approximately 60 minutes, our businesses and citizens have access to three international airports with daily operations that rival major metropolitan areas. In addition, the Dayton 90 minute air market reaches over 137 million people ( 53% of U.S. workers within 600 miles) and more than half of the combined population in the U.S. and Canada, allowing for twice-a-day service to five metropolitan areas plus 300 towns and large cities.
Now I'm not exactly a demographer, but my guess is that if this area is within 600 miles of 53% of U.S. workers, it has to be within 600 miles of an even larger percentage of the nation's old people.  That would seem to make it a good place to put in a plant making old folks drinks.  Now the PediaSure might not fit into that, but damn we got old people by the busload, and they're usually on their way to a casino.  And with boomers retiring, those numbers are just going to keep increasing.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Happy Emancipation Day

Why taxes aren't due until tomorrow:
Taxes would normally have been due over this past weekend, but it was the weekend so how about today, Monday, April 16? Well, no, they're not due today either. The good people at the Internal Revenue Service will give you all the way until tomorrow to finish up. Why? Well, because of Emancipation Day, a District of Columbia holiday that celebrates the April 16, 1862, passage of the D.C. Compensated Emancipation Act of 1862, which freed 3,100 enslaved residents of D.C. and offered financial compensation to their owners. This was meant to be the Lincoln administration's model for the end of slavery throughout the country, but slave owners proved consistently uninterested in ending slavery through any means whatsoever.
 Pretty much any reason is good enough for a holiday in my book.  This one has some significance for the cause of liberty, though.  And tomorrow you can get a deal at McDonalds.