Saturday, November 10, 2012

Drama Queens

The Cincinnati Tea Party wrote the obituary for the United States:

Wow, the patriotism.  For other highlights of right-wing reaction to the election, see the White People Mourning Romney tumblr.  These folks need to get a grip.

Inside A Multi-Level Marketer

There's an old joke in the direct-selling business: MLM stands for "Mormons losing money." It's no coincidence that Latter-day Saints have a reputation as having a particular affinity for direct selling. Their missionary work, which requires knocking on doors, spreading a message, and recruiting followers, often in foreign countries, offers perfect training.
Nu Skin itself is an insular organization dominated by faith and family, blending the evangelical and the commercial. Top executives hold prominent positions in the Mormon church. Myriad relatives of the company's founders have played key roles. Co-founders Tillotson, Blake Roney, and Steve Lund have each amassed fortunes in excess of $100 million, both from huge holdings in the company's stock and from some advantageous transactions. For years, the three owned Nu Skin's headquarters building and distribution center, receiving lease payments, before selling them to the company last year for $33 million. (A spokesperson says the arrangements were approved by independent board members.)
The company's mission statement speaks of being "a force for good." But Nu Skin also celebrates wealth, a duality seen in Mormon theology. That mix is visible in its philanthropic endeavors. For example, the company's Nourish the Children program pays distributors commissions -- just as it would on orders for hand lotion -- for each bag of porridge mix they order to feed starving children in Malawi. (The company says the program has distributed 277 million meals.) Notes the company's executive chairman, Steve Lund: "This is not a charity. This is social entrepreneurism."
I really like the MLM joke, although I never thought of that as a Mormon thing.  The whole article is entertaining.  It said one of the original founders has been married 13 times.  While she was a Mormon, I assume they mean 13 separate times and not many at the same time.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Map of Racist Tweets

Jezebel, via The Atlantic:

In case you were hopeful that Obama winning a second term was some kind of indication that racism doesn't really exist anymore, check out Twitter. The amount of hate speech, referring to the president as a "nigger," a "monkey," calling for violence and for the south to "rise again" was depressing—and eye-opening. Here is incontrovertible proof (as if we needed it) that racism isn't just some imaginary talking point invented by liberals, but an actual problem. What's sadder is that many of these Tweeters seem to be in high school, who don't have the flimsy excuse of being raised in "another time." If you believe the children are our future, then our future is fucked.
Wow, the upper Midwest represents way more than I would guess.  However, I am in no way surprised that Alabama and Mississippi lead the nation.  Maybe my pet troll will comment on this.

The Density Divide

Per Square Mile points out the population density voting pattern:

There are lots of reasons why the 2012 presidential election broke the way it did, but one that’s not often reported—but particularly germane to Per Square Mile—is the divide between cities and the country. I’ve been thinking for a while now about this split as a driving force behind the polarization of U.S. politics, and I know I’m not alone. (On election night, Adam Rogers tweeted as much.)
But I was curious. Can we actually see the divide between cities and the country in the electoral map? In short, yes, but I’ll let the maps to the rest of the talking.
I agree.  Population density goes a long way toward predicting election outcomes.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Getting What They Deserve

All those guys who want to pay less in taxes got conned by a two bit crook:
Via Atrios, this is pretty funny:
"The billionaire donors I hear are livid," one Republican operative told The Huffington Post. "There is some holy hell to pay. Karl Rove has a lot of explaining to do ... I don't know how you tell your donors that we spent $390 million and got nothing."....Rove was forced to defend his group's expenditures live on Fox News on Tuesday night, and will hold a briefing with top donors on Thursday, according to Politico.
If conservative billionaires are looking for something else to be mad about, I'd recommend the Romney campaign's apparent habit of paying about 50 percent more for TV spots than the Obama campaign. That helped line the pockets of the consultants who both recommended the buys and got the commissions for placing the spots, but it didn't do much to win the election.
In the end, it turned out that one side ran its campaign like a business, while the other side ran its like a local PTA. Ironically, it was the ex-community organizer who did the former and the ex-CEO of Bain Capital who did the latter.
The super-rich can be very, very easy to scam.  Karl Rove proved that once again.  It serves those guys right.  Go to some other banana republic to buy an election guys, or at least invest in a party that won't alienate more than half of the electorate.  Let's see, city folks, blacks, Hispanics, women, young people, the non-religious, the 47% of Americans who don't pay federal income many other groups can Republicans piss off?  None if they ever want to win a Presidential election again.

Joe Biden To Appear On Parks and Recreation

Next week's episode of Parks and Recreation is going to have a VIP: the VP.
Joe Biden — yes, the very guy who was re-elected Vice President of the United States — will guest-star in the Nov. 15 installment of Parks and Recreation, EW has learned. His cameo occurs at the beginning of the episode, in which former Congressional campaign manager Ben Wyatt (Adam Scott) takes fiancĂ©e/City Councilwoman Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler), to the White House to meet America's No. 2, who has long been her No. 1 crush. (As Leslie once noted, her ideal man has "the brains of George Clooney and the body of Joe Biden.")
Parks scored camera time with Biden in July when the show traveled to Washington, D.C. to film its season 5 premiere, which featured appearances by Senators Barbara Boxer, Olympia Snowe, and John McCain. How big of a casting coup was Biden for NBC's small-town government comedy? "Given that Eleanor Roosevelt and Bella Abzug are no longer with us, this is probably no. 1," quips executive producer Michael Schur. "[Leslie] has a lot of female heroes that cross party lines. She has a lot of social figures that she considers heroes, but the funniest hero is Joe Biden. There's an episode last season where she says, 'Joe Biden is on my celebrity sex list — well, he is my celebrity sex list'... It was amazing to have her meet Olympia Snowe and Barbara Boxer because that meant something to her politically. But this transcends that. She's meeting the man that she's in love with on some deep level. It was a bigger deal to us in some ways that she meet Joe Biden than it was that she meet Barack Obama." (Obama, by the way, has revealed that he watches Parks with his family, by the way. "It's a very amazing and weird thing to find out that the President watches your show," marvels Schur.)
Once the producers committed to shooting an episode in D.C., the process of landing Biden was "so much less difficult than we ever possibly imagined," says Schur, noting: "His staff really loves the show, and he apparently had watched the show with his family and his family liked it... The hardest part was keeping it secret for so long because there's all these FEC rules and equal-time rules. We couldn't air it before the election because it was the equivalent of a campaign contribution to advertise for one candidate."
Why does it not surprise me that it was so much less difficult than they imagined to get Joe Biden to make an appearance on the show?  That guy is awesome.

An NPR Ag Twofer

First, is there a farmland price bubble?:
"There's probably a higher percentage now of people who are strictly investors, stock market people, money-market-type investors, and ... they're buying all types of land," said Dale Hermreck, a broker for Realty Executives who says he sold $21 million worth of farmland in Kansas last year.
"We have a lot of outside interest from Texas, Chicago, New York," Hermreck said. "I get calls and inquiries all over the United States."
But to University of Missouri agriculture economist Ron Plain all of this sounds a bit like the housing bubble burst of 2006. He is concerned a similar bubble could be happening in farmland.
"You get several years going up faster than that long-term trend of 6 percent [annual increases] and you're then in a situation where you're sort of due for a correction," Plain said. "And the way you correct is pull those land values down — or 'pop the bubble' ... and so there's concern about that and it's kind of reasonable to worry."
Plain said that with mortgage rates at their lowest in 60 years, it's reasonable to expect the cost of borrowing to go up eventually. And if crop prices retreat from record highs, he said, that means "less income per acre and therefore less ability to pay for farmland."
Should a bubble burst, farmland might be harder to sell, especially compared with other more liquid investments. But investors argue that any bubble is still far off, and they believe that farm acreage will remain a solid long-term investment so long as the demand for food continues to grow.
That sounds eerily familiar to something I was hearing in the news in 2004 or 2005.

Then there's this story on refining whey protein:
Tim Opper, Cabot's director of process technology, shows off rooms filled with shiny pipes that funnel the whey through a series of filters.
The pores in these filters are so tiny and precise that they can trap big molecules, like the long chains of amino acids that we call proteins, while allowing water and sugar molecules, which are smaller, to flow right through.
It's all dedicated to dividing this river of whey into increasingly narrow, purified streams of sugar or concentrated protein.
There are even ways to fish out one specific protein, if it's valuable enough. There's a room at this factory devoted to extracting a protein called lactoferrin, which is a protein that helps the body use iron and also fight infection.
Lactoferrin is common in human breast milk, but there's not much in cow's milk. From the 1.6 million pounds of milk that go through this factory every day, the equipment in this room captures just 120 pounds of lactoferrin. "We're just stripping out the single molecule, collecting it, processing it, and drying it into a powder," Opper says.  In bulk form, lactoferrin powder is worth about $225 a pound. When it's packaged as a nutritional supplement and sold in the form of pills, some consumers are paying $50 for just an ounce of it.
A friend of mine specializes in trading whey proteins.  I always talked to him in our neighborhood pub, and when people asked him what he did for a living, he told them he sold expensive white powder by the kilo.  That always made me chuckle.  You know what else this story reminds me off?  Cheese curds.  Mmm, deep fried cheese curds.

Voting Trends By Population Segment

NYT, via Ritholtz:

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Defiance - The Story of FC Start

Defiance - The Story of FC Start - ESPN from Evolve Digital Cinema | IMG on Vimeo.

A Joke I Missed

Charles Pierce highlights a movie joke that sailed right by me:
The greatest sports joke in any movie is a hockey joke. In Wayne's World, the cop who hangs out at the fictitious Stan Mikita's Donuts — a damned fine reference all on its own — is named Officer Koharski. When I first saw the movie, I nearly fell out of my chair laughing, because I happened to be in the arena in New Jersey when, angered by the officiating in a Stanley Cup playoff game, Devils coach Jim Schoenfeld unleashed the worst invective he could immediately summon at referee Don Koharski, who stumbled as he left the ice:
"You fell, you fat pig. Have another doughnut. Have another doughnut."
Nobody else in the movie theater laughed.
And what do hockey fans get for all this devotion? A professional league perpetually run by the Marx Brothers. In the aftermath of the Schoenfeld-Koharski contretemps, the NHL office couldn't find president John Ziegler. Angered by the pastry-themed abuse directed at one of their number, the officiating crew staged a wildcat job action at the next game, so the NHL wound up handing a playoff matchup to three amateur guys. Finally, when Ziegler at last emerged from wherever he'd been — and the rumors about his whereabouts were both absolutely unrepeatable and utterly great — to hold a press conference, he refused to state how many actual hockey games he'd seen in the previous year. I don't believe any commissioner in the history of any sport has done that.
I'd never heard that before.  New day, new lesson.

More On The Four Crop Rotation

NYT (via Big Picture Agriculture):
My uncle Everon, who died last summer, farmed the home place when I was growing up. He would have been surprised to learn that he was following the principles of an early 18th-century agricultural experimenter named Charles Townshend, who, apart from his fascination with turnips, was every inch a viscount. Townshend’s discovery — borrowed from Dutch and Flemish farmers — was that crops grow better, with fewer weeds and pest problems, if they are rotated in a careful sequence.
Townshend’s rotation — like the ones George Washington and Thomas Jefferson used — included clover, wheat, other small grains and turnips, which made good winter food for sheep and cattle. My uncle grew no turnips, but he, like all his neighbors, was using his own version of the four-crop system, at the heart of which was alfalfa.
Getting to the four-crop rotation wasn’t easy, historically speaking. The Romans knew about crop rotation, but by the Middle Ages, farming was based on the practice of letting the land lie fallow, unplanted — resting it, in other words. The purpose of that practice, like crop rotation itself, is to prevent the soil from becoming exhausted when the same crop is sown over and over again. In early American agriculture, only sophisticated farmers like Washington and Jefferson were using crop rotations in their fields. There was simply too much good land available. It was too easy to farm a piece and then move on when the soil was depleted.
I'm going with three crops on my main farm, with a long-term field of alfalfa on the side.  I haven't figured on sowing hay into the wheat, yet.  Those double crop beans are just too tempting.

The Lost Talking Point

First it was judges.  Then, it was legislatures.  Now it is the electorate.  The "great" anti-gay marriage winning streak came to an end in a big way yesterday.  32-0 morphed into a likely 32-4 record with a 4 game losing streak.  I think from here on out, their wins will be few and far between on their long, slow retreat to oblivion.  Their losses will endanger traditional marriage much less (as in not at all) than the damages heaped on the institution by heterosexuals.  Christian bigots, we hardly knew ye.  I'll keep a lookout for you when picking up rocks.  You never know what might be found under one.

Four More Years...

...of Joe Biden as Vice President and gaffe machine-in-chief.  I can't wait.

The Big Con

Karl Rove seems pretty defensive:

Of course, I would be too if I'd just ripped off a bunch of billionaires and given them jack squat for their "investment."  People say rich folks are rich because they are smart.  Anybody who forked over a bunch of money to this crook is either dumb or naive.  Either way, he pulled the perfect con, and as a charitable organization, too. 

On another note, it amazed me how the conservatives went from predicting a Romney landslide to claiming that there wasn't a mandate in this election.  Does anyone out there believe that if Romney won by the margin Obama did that they wouldn't be calling it a massive landslide?  What a bunch of propagandist bullshit artists.  A little history: In the past 6 presidential elections, Rpublicans have won a plurality of the vote just once, and they maxed out at 286 electoral votes.  Obama has topped those numbers twice.  And yet the pundits were stressing that this is a center-right country because all the empty spaces between cities votes Republican.  Unfortunately, they've only managed to be in the majority once in 20 years.  Times change.  Deal with it.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

What Romney Needs

A lot:

We'll Find Out Who's Right

Well, the votes are almost in, and we're going to find out if the Republicans are right about the polls being wrong, or if they are just full of shit. I don't know what is going to happen, but if I had to place a bet, I'd bet with Nate Silver and not against him. One thing I can predict is that if Nate Silver is wrong, he'll go into detail as to why he was wrong, whereas if guys like George Will are massively wrong (as I would guess they will be), we won't hear a word out of them about it, and they'll move on to being wrong about something else.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Cityscape Chicago

Cityscape Chicago from Eric Hines on Vimeo.

NASA Photo of the Day

More clouds from today:

Lenticular Clouds Over Washington
Credit & Copyright: Tim Thompson
Explanation: Are those UFOs near that mountain? No -- they are multilayered lenticular clouds. Moist air forced to flow upward around mountain tops can create lenticular clouds. Water droplets condense from moist air cooled below the dew point, and clouds are opaque groups of water droplets. Waves in the air that would normally be seen horizontally can then be seen vertically, by the different levels where clouds form. On some days the city of Seattle, Washington, USA, is treated to an unusual sky show when lenticular clouds form near Mt. Rainier, a large mountain that looms just under 100 kilometers southeast of the city. This image of a spectacular cluster of lenticular clouds was taken in 2008 December.

Just A Reminder

From The Awl:
 "Since September 11, 2001, there have been roughly 30 Americans killed by terrorism (depending on how you do the numbers). Meanwhile, extreme weather deaths in the same time period have totaled 6,408 as of 2011, according to the National Weather Service."
But what sounds scarier?

Luck of the Irish

Businessmen As President

The NYT goes through the history:
The pursuit of wealth is a real source of identity in America. We are accustomed to seeing ourselves chasing riches, even if we’re not in business the way Mr. Romney was.
Still, Americans haven’t elected many businessmen as presidents. The principal examples come from the Roaring ’20s, a time of huge stock market gains, when faith in business reached all-time highs. Consider our presidents in that decade: Warren G. Harding had been a newspaper publisher in Ohio. Calvin Coolidge, trained as a lawyer, was once a vice president of the Nonotuck Savings Bank in Northampton, Mass., and was known for saying that “the chief business of the American people is business.” And Herbert Hoover was a mining expert who traveled to Australia in its 1890s gold rush and became a mine manager.
But businessman presidents disappeared after the market crash of 1929 and during the Great Depression of the 1930s, when many Americans believed that the business world had failed the nation. Franklin D. Roosevelt, who came from a wealthy family but was never a businessman and never talked like one, handily defeated both Hoover in 1932 and Alf Landon, a banker and independent petroleum producer, in 1936.
Not until the Bush presidencies did businessmen, in the suit-and-tie sense of the word, retake the White House — though it otherwise could be argued that Jimmy Carter, a peanut farmer, was a businessman, too. George H. W. Bush was elected during a soaring stock market, and his son George W. Bush won during a real estate boom. Both men were oil venture entrepreneurs.
You might think that the current economic slump would drain support for businessmen, as it did in the Great Depression. But there are differences. Back then, the United States hadn’t yet reached the pinnacle of economic power. Today, many people worry about an apparent crumbling of American economic growth as emerging markets surge around us. There is a widespread fear that the American wealth machine is faltering — and, as a result, many people are aiming to rediscover the nation’s traditional strengths.
I think the attributes of businessmen are overrated, but we will see which way people will vote on Tuesday.