Saturday, May 11, 2013

From Sheets to Sheetz

Fortune Magazine:
The son of a dairyman, Bob Sheetz opened his first convenience store in downtown Altoona in 1952, but the family skill at recognizing opportunity and understanding the subtleties of marketing began a generation earlier, when Bob's father, Gerald, went to a milk convention in Pittsburgh and saw two name tags. One was for Gerry Sheets, which was his name. The other was for a Gerry Sheetz. He took the other guy's. "I like the z," he told his wife, and he legally changed his name.
Altoona's original claim to fame is as the home of Horseshoe Curve, where the railroad nearly bends back on itself in a long and panoramic switchback. In the 1950s the city was a bustling place, with 15,000 employees of the Pennsylvania Railroad working around the clock to repair engines and freight cars. Pennsylvania's blue laws kept supermarkets closed on Sunday, but the restrictions did not apply to small retailers, creating a tidy loophole for the Sheetz enterprise. As the restrictions on Sunday commerce were loosened in the 1970s, Sheetz started selling gas as a way to make up for the lost business. Even today, Pennsylvania is a thicket of retailing restrictions. Cigarettes can't be discounted below a state minimum, and convenience stores can't sell beer. Sheetz has been fighting restaurants and beer distributors to get the law changed and even deployed a Rube Goldberg maneuver that allows it to sell beer at exactly one store. In the early days the ban kept the national chains away, meaning a little less competition and a little more room to experiment.
I also found this interesting:
I asked a lot of the Sheetzes about Altoona, and they all praise the area's work ethic as being central to their success. But there's more than that. Louie Sheetz, who heads marketing and is the youngest member of the first generation, told me the city also has a bit of a wiseass culture, which at first blush seems a little iffy but nonetheless has also become part of the Sheetz juju. That yin and yang, the no-BS, lunch-pail approach married to something edgier, something snappier, is a hard act to pull off, particularly at a place where sandwiches cost four bucks and gas is virtually a commodity. But it's there, and you can get a glimpse of the Sheetz juggling act in Pom Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold, Morgan Spurlock's cheeky look at marketing and product placement. The rest of the fast-food business turned Spurlock down, but Sheetz flew Spurlock out to Altoona. In the documentary, after Spurlock makes his pitch, Stan delivers a soliloquy that, if not quite Shakespeare, still gets at the essential truths of what's going on in the movie and by extension the marketplace: "Here's this jerk who's making this horrible marketing movie with the assumption that Americans are idiots. Morgan is an idiot. He thinks all Americans are idiots, and all the people who sponsored this film are idiots -- they're bigger idiots. What does that do to our brand?"
Then, after the rant, it was time for business, because what Spurlock was selling the company was opportunity before a larger audience. Sheetz paid $100,000 to be part of the movie, which premiered in 2011 at the enormous Jaffa Shrine Center in downtown Altoona.
Spurlock is well-know for Super Size Me.

Why Did The Pyramids Crumble?

A new theory:
When structural engineer Peter James arrived at the Bent Pyramid, 25 miles south* of Cairo, his task was to secure the structure's remaining "cladding" -- its smooth exterior envelope. But why was it crumbling in the first place?
The foundation seemed completely stable. The prevailing theory -- that "the missing cladding was removed by local opportunist thieves" -- didn't inspire confidence: That could explain the destruction at the lower levels, but the damage extended far up the pyramid and "in an apparently random manner, with no signs of indentations from temporary scaffolding or of any symmetrical cutting of the blocks to aid removal," James writes in STRUCTURE, a structural engineering trade publication. The damage just did not look like the result of thieves. Rather, as James puts it, it "appears to be caused by a giant whose hand has swept across the face of the pyramid with enormous energy, sucking out the facing and leaving the ragged empty sockets.
So what was causing the crumbling? James presents a new explanation: thermal movement -- that is to say the expansion and contraction of the limestone with temperature fluctuations -- has ground down the rocks and shifted their positions.
During the day, the temperature rises to 40°C (104°F) across the face of the outer casing, then at night cools to 3⁰C (37⁰F) because of the lack of cover and exposure to the prevailing winds. This gives an average daily temperature fluctuation of 37°C (67°F). The photographs of the Bent Pyramid show how thermal expansion has caused the blocks to move to the edges, where they have detached. It also shows how individual stones, unsupported, can cantilever and snap off and subsequently fall to the ground.

He estimates that the motion can amount to 1¼ inches per 328 feet. As the stones move, dust and sand would fall from the stones and fill in the spaces between them. The spaces into which they could contract at night would shrink, and over time they would be pushed out of position. "Multiply this endless movement by the number of days that the pyramid has been erected and you have the reason why all the outer casing has moved to the extremities, where it has buckled or displaced against blocks moving in the opposite direction and then fallen off," James writes. "It may then have been picked up by opportunists and removed from the site.
The Bent Pyramid is one of the best preserved and, as a result, it provides a unique opportunity for studying how the crumbling is happening. James theorizes that the reason the Bent Pyramid retains its casing, while the Red Pyramid and the Great Pyramid "have virtually none" is that, ironically, the Bent Pyramid had worse construction to begin with.
Earlier this week, I contacted Nolan, my friend from high school and go-to structural expert, with a question from work.  For future potential liability reasons, I won't go into the details, but in the end, his summary was pretty much, "what are you, stupid?"  I think he knows the answer to that one.  We took the professional engineer exam at the same time, and met up for a few beers afterwards.  I focused on the water, shit and dirt portions of the test while he worked on the structural.  I found out through him that I pretty much missed all of the structural questions, except maybe a couple I guessed C on.  I think he had most of the easy ones I focused on figured out.  Maybe he'll weigh in on this pyramid theory for me.

The Impact of AI, and Other Stories

One of the 1% facts highlighted by Pacific Standard magazine:
One percent of all U.S. dairy farms produce 35 percent of America’s milk. One American milk cow produces an average of 22,000 pounds of milk per year—up from 8,000 pounds per year in 1965.
I was over there looking for this article:
One day in the spring of 2010, Sporleder made a three-hour trek north to Spokane to attend a workshop given by a molecular biologist. He was encouraged to make the trip by a community organizer affiliated with the Washington Family Policy Council, a state agency that had become unusually galvanized by a recent body of research. Sporleder was one of many educators, social workers, law enforcement officers, and other community leaders who were being sent to similar conferences around Washington with state dollars, all as part of a large-scale campaign to educate people about the impacts of trauma and stress on children.
For Sporleder, the workshop—with keynote speaker John Medina, a scientist and the author of a best-selling book called Brain Rules—was nothing short of a conversion. As soon as he got back to Lincoln, he began changing his methods, especially when it came to discipline. His old approach, which relied heavily on automatic suspensions, went out the window. Then he brought in a trainer to teach everyone on his staff, from instructors to secretaries, about the science of trauma and resilience. Bit by bit, he and his staff remade Lincoln to address what he now saw as the real force driving his students’ behavior: chronic stress.
Between 2009 and 2011, suspensions at Lincoln fell by 85 percent; expulsions dropped from 50 to 30. In the same period, the school’s graduation rate nearly tripled. By the time I met Sporleder in 2012, the student body had swelled from 77 to nearly 200—the result of students actually opting to transfer to what had once been the district’s “dumping ground.” It’s hard to say exactly what’s driving these transformations. But it’s striking that Sporleder himself—a former volleyball coach, and not a trained scientist—largely attributes Lincoln’s turnaround to a new understanding of the science of stress and the brain.
The whole story is worth the read.  It is fascinating.  Finally, there was this note about Cleveland:
Infant mortality within a three-mile radius around one of the nation’s best children’s hospitals, in Cleveland, Ohio, is worse than that in some third-world countries, Dr. Michele Walsh, neonatology director of Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital, claimed in a radio interview last week. The hospital anchors the relatively affluent University Circle neighborhood, home to Case Western Reserve University, on the east end of an otherwise pretty impoverished city. (Seventy percent of the infants that enter Walsh’s intensive care unit are on Medicaid.)

Infant mortality rates higher than those of countries like Japan or Sweden are one thing—several reports in recent years found the United States to have a slightly higher rate than many such peers—but Uzbekistan? The Gaza Strip? That would mean communities around the hospital far outstrip the national rate of 6.7 deaths per 1,000 live births. Understandably disturbed by the claim, Politifact Ohio confirmed it using a Case Western regional social and economic research database:
Infant mortality in the University Circle neighborhood … was slightly above 69 deaths per 1,000 live births. That exceeds the rate in countries that include, among others, Bangladesh, Haiti, Burma, Cameroon, Djibouti, Sudan, Kenya, Nepal, Pakistan, Rwanda, and Uganda.
The 69 deaths per 1,000 live births statistic is from 2009 only; taking a three-year average still yields 18.6 deaths, higher than many Caribbean and Eastern European countries. But here’s the real gut-punch: Looking within University Circle communities like Hough and Mount Pleasant, PolitiFact found “infant mortality rates above 27 per 1,000—worse than in North Korea, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, Samoa, Maldives, or the Gaza Strip.”
Wow.  It's just a lot more comfortable and easy to sleep at night being ignorant of such realities.  I tend to forget how lucky I am.

The State of Horse Racing

Two different sides of the industry. First
Everyone knew the day was coming and now it's a reality. After 75 years of horse racing, Betfair Hollywood Park will end its operations following the final race of its autumn meeting Dec. 22.
The words "sad day" were repeated often Thursday afternoon at the Inglewood track, where owners, trainers, jockeys and fans reacted somberly to the news.
The official announcement came in a letter from track President Jack Liebau sent to the California Horse Racing Board on Wednesday informing them that Hollywood Park Land Co. would not be requesting any 2014 racing dates.
Since the track was sold in 2005, developing the land has been the primary goal, especially since the business model for horse racing has been facing severe challenges from a dwindling horse population, lagging on-track attendance and continual infighting within the industry.
"From an economic point of view, the land now simply has a higher and better use," Liebau said.
So much has changed since Hollywood Park opened in 1938. It was built to woo the rich and famous. Among the 600 original shareowners were some of the biggest names in the movie business — Jack Warner, Sam Goldwyn and Mervyn LeRoy.
Seabiscuit won the inaugural running of the Hollywood Gold Cup. Some of racing's greatest horses ran at Hollywood Park — Citation, Swaps, Noor, Round Table, Ack Ack, Seattle Slew, Cigar.
Then, this:
 Racing purses in Ohio were based on the amount of pari-mutuel betting. Now, pari-mutuel betting is one of three components contributing to purses, Schmitz said.
Ohio’s gross casino revenue tax, money received by casino operators less winnings paid to patrons, is imposed on casino operators at the rate of 33 percent. The state racing commission gets 3 percent of that, or about $10 million a year now that all four casinos are open. Of that, $9.5 million will be used to increase purses at racetracks and to support horse breeding..
“This will grow horse racing overall in Ohio which is a positive result for agriculture,” Crawford said at the April presentation. “As breeding and purses increase, the number and quality of horses will also increase.”
The state also has paved the way for video lottery play at racetracks. According to Ohio law, a 9 to 11 percent cut of the net win at racetracks will be placed into an escrow account to enhance racing purses, to promote breeding programs and perks for horseman like health insurance and retirement benefits. The net win is the revenue remaining after payout of prizes.
From July to April, the net win at Scioto Downs and Thistledown, which opened April 19, totalled about $121 million, according to state data. At 9 percent, the cut twould be about $10 million.
It is sad that horse racing will be a sideshow in the racinos, and it is unfortunate that only political pull was able to save racing in Ohio, but I am glad that River Downs and Thistledown will stay open.  Race fans in Toledo and Columbus get screwed over, though, as Beulah Park and Raceway Park are moved to Youngstown and Dayton, respectively, in order to get into markets that didn't get actual casinos.

This Is Water

I love this:

I probably ought to watch this at least once a month.

Update:  John Cole lives this.

Inside The War Room, Sort Of

Chuck Klosterman spends part of draft day with the new management of the Cleveland Browns.  He describes the wretched history of the Browns:
The last time the Browns won an NFL championship was 1964. This feels distant to everyone in America except those living in Northeast Ohio. To them, it seems like last weekend. If you try to annoy a Browns fan by noting how Cleveland has never won a Super Bowl, he will tell you that they've actually won four titles (1950, '54, '55, and '64) and that the only problem is that the term "Super Bowl" had not yet been invented. He will go on to tell you that the greatest football player who ever lived was a Brown, and that his name was Brown, and that the greatest player who ever lived is still only the second-most important person named Brown in the history of the franchise. He will tell you that he'll always root for the Browns, under any circumstances, no matter what happens, forever.
And then he will proceed to tell you how much the Browns suck.
This is the central dichotomy of Cleveland football: No other fan base is so deeply loyal and so self-consciously negative at the same time. Locally, there just seems to be a universal belief that — somehow, either by human error or random chance — the Browns will fail at whatever they try. Longtime fanatics have code words for all the moments that have crushed their souls. "Red Right 88" denotes the fatal play call from the 1981 divisional playoff against the Oakland Raiders, when — trailing 14-12 with less than a minute to play, inside the red zone — the Browns tried to pass instead of running the ball and attempting a field goal. The ensuing end zone interception ended the season. That squad was (arguably) Cleveland's best team of the modern era, unless you consider the '86 Browns (who were killed by John Elway and "The Drive") or the '87 Browns (whose hopes were dashed by "The Fumble" in the AFC championship). There are no code words for things that went right, because those things never happen. In 1996, owner Art Modell moved the franchise to Baltimore, a move so devastating to the community that some citizens openly expressed glee when Modell died in 2012. For three seasons in the '90s, there was no football team in Cleveland, although the nonexistent Browns remained just as popular as the Indians and more popular than the Cavaliers. (This three-year stint was actually an excellent era for Browns fans, since nothing bad could possibly occur.) The club was reintroduced in 1999, highlighted by a new $300 million downtown stadium and the first overall pick in the draft, Kentucky quarterback Tim Couch. In the 14 years that have since passed, the team's record is 73-151.
Still, the team sells out virtually every home game. This is not Jacksonville. When it comes to football, Ohio is just a colder version of Texas.
That is the one beautiful thing about being a Bengals fan.  At least I'm not a Browns fan.  Of course the best professional football team in Ohio is at The Ohio State University.

Friday, May 10, 2013


Dallas Morning News:
The U.S. Attorney’s Office on Friday afternoon said it “will not speculate” on whether a pipe bomb allegedly belonging to a West paramedic has any connection with the fatal fertilizer plant fire and explosion that he responded to.
Bryce Reed, who told The Dallas Morning News that he assumed radio command of the April 17 incident after the explosion killed his superiors and colleagues, was accused Friday of giving an “assortment of bomb making components” to an unnamed person in nearby Abbott on April 26, nine days after the explosion.
Hours after his arrest, the Texas Rangers and McLennan County Sheriff’s office launched a criminal investigation into the plant explosion but did not say what role, if any, the federal charges against Reed played in their decision.
Also on Friday, West officials for the first time notified the state agency that licenses paramedics that Reed was let go two days after the blast, according to records obtained by The News. The emails do not explain his termination.
Dr. George Smith, medical director of West EMS, declined to comment late Friday afternoon as to why Reed was let go last month. West Police Chief James Lawhorn also declined to comment about the situation.
From the beginning, the State Fire Marshal’s office has not determined – or ruled out – whether the fire was a criminal act or accidental. The agency also has not determined the cause of the fire that preceded the deadly explosion, believed to have been fueled largely by ammonium nitrate kept at the plant. Rachel Moreno, a spokeswoman for the agency, said earlier Friday she could not comment on Reed’s arrest.
Of all the things I figured were accidental, I figured this was definitely accidental.  It may still be, but holy shit, if this dude started a fire or set off some explosive there which triggered the main explosion, then he is right and truly fucked. 

Tax Dollars At Work

Forwarded by my former employer, who received it from his sister/co-worker/calf head carrier (entertaining story):

This reminds me of one of the brilliant pieces of legislation which the pre-Tea Party Tea Partier I ran against for state representative sponsored.  Apparently, she and the rocket scientists she was friends with in the legislature found out that some damn college professors had bigger salaries than the governor.  Well they couldn't stand for liberal intellectuals getting more tax money than they and the governor made, so they proposed legislation limiting the salaries of state employees to no more than what the governor's salary was.  It turns out that the state employees making more than the governor were mainly doctors at (OSU) University Hospital in Columbus, psychologists, and Business school professors at OSU School of Business (rich businessmen doing "public service").  However, the highest paid government employees were Jim Tressel, Thad Motta (or whoever was OSU basketball coach at the time) and I think Bob Huggins.  Now, rather than giving up on this stupidity, they proposed an amendment exempting football and basketball coaches.  Because, you know, paying coaches more than doctors makes a fuckload of sense (of course, we already make that call, but that is the "free market" making that call).

Also, gotta love that the highest paid government employee in Nevada is a fucking plastic surgeon.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

The Aurora in Death Valley

Working On The Twitter

And, you know, those terrorists were trying to kill people.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Bees Continue To Struggle

Approximately 30% of all the bee colonies in the U.S. died off over the winter.  That has been the average for the past 6 years:
Beekeepers have a of reasons for why so many colonies are dying. There's a nasty parasite called the , which they can't get rid of. There are also bee-killing pesticides. And there are just fewer places in the country where a bee can find plenty of flowering plants that provide nectar and pollen.
That was especially true this past year. The same drought that left Midwestern corn fields parched and wilting also dried up wildflowers and starved the bees.
That was a natural disaster. But , who chairs the Department of Entomology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, says that most of the changes in the landscape are the result of people's decisions about what to do with their land.
"I just wish there were more incentives for people — not just farmers — to plant a more diversified landscape that provides nutritional resources for all kinds of pollinators," she says. "Plant more flowers! And be a little more tolerant of the weeds in the garden."
More controversial is the role of pesticides. Some beekeepers and environmentalists are calling for tighter restrictions on the use of one particular class of . Europe is about to ban some uses of these pesticides. But U.S. farmers and pesticide companies are opposed to any such move here, and the Environmental Protection Agency says it's not yet convinced that this would help bees very much.
I don't know how quickly bees reproduce, but I really don't think that is sustainable.  I don't know that neonicotinoids are the main cause of the bee die off, but I don't have much confidence in farmers, pesticide companies and the EPA ever doing much to find out.

The Dangers of Aflatoxin

The Guardian, via Big Picture Agriculture:
It is rare that the issue of food safety is mentioned let alone included in current approaches to tackling food insecurity, yet 4.5 billion people are potentially exposed to a carcinogenic toxin – aflatoxin – through their diets. The toxin is responsible for up to 28% of liver cancers globally, and is linked to childhood stunting and suppression of the immune system, contributing to diseases such as TB.
Aflatoxin is one of a number of harmful toxins routinely consumed through contaminated food in developing countries. It is produced by a soil borne fungus, aspergillus, that grows on staples such as maize, rice and groundnuts. Contamination spreads along supply chains due to poor production and storage. Twin, an ethical trading organisation, is engaging with smallholder groundnut producers in Malawi to address the stringent health and safety regulations needed to import products to Europe. However, in countries like Malawi, 60% of groundnuts or other staples are bought and consumed in largely informal markets.
As a result of low awareness levels of the health impacts, smallholders lack the incentive to change their practices. Producer organisations such as the National Association of Smallholder Farmers of Malawi (Nasfam) are developing radio programmes, videos and articles to disseminate the dangers and causes of aflatoxin contamination, while promoting best practice in control, management and mitigation techniques. The global poverty action fund is also supporting this initiative by training farmers.
I didn't realize that aflatoxin caused liver cancer.  Then again, most of the contaminated grain here ends up going to cows who probably won't live long enough to develop cancer.  What effect that has on the consumers of beef, I don't know, but I would guess it isn't extremely dangerous.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Does Parental Spit Prevent Allergies?

To investigate the role of pacifier cleaning, of the University of Gothenburg in Sweden and his colleagues analyzed data they had collected for a broader study about babies' allergies. Among the questions the parents had answered was what they did when their child's pacifier fell out of his or her mouth.
"We asked them how they cleaned the pacifier — if they rinsed them in water — and of course most of them did," Hesselmar says. But a lot of the parents did something else.
"They put it in their mouth, sucked on it and then gave it back to the children," Hesselmar says. "It's a quite common way to clean pacifier."
When the researchers checked to see if there were any differences between the kids whose parents sucked their pacifiers clean and those who didn't, they found there was. Those whose parents sucked the pacifiers clean were significantly less likely to have developed eczema at 18 and 36 months and less likely to have developed asthma at 18 months, the researchers say.
"Eczema is the best disease to choose [as a marker] if you want to see if a young child is becoming allergic," Hesselmar says.
Scientists think that when parents suck their child's pacifier clean, they transfer some of the harmless bacteria in their mouths to their child, Hesselmar says. In fact, the researchers found evidence supporting that when they analyzed the saliva of the babies in the study.
"We think that these bacteria ... stimulate the immune system," Hesselmar says. And that teaches it how to do its job properly, which includes not overreacting to things like peanuts, pollen and cats, he says.
I don't think I've seen too many parents here lick off their kid's pacifier before giving it back to them, but I definitely think we've gone way too far in worrying about using antimicrobial products when most things just aren't harmful to babies and the kids are probably better off being exposed to them.  I know one thing, considering the bacteria I am exposed to on a daily basis, it's going to take something right powerful to put a hurting on me.  See, mom, living as a slob has health benefits.

Corn Belt Shifts

Scientific American:
America's breadbasket isn't where it used to be. The epicenter of agricultural production has moved north and west over the past half-century, and that trend will likely continue at an accelerated pace due to global warming, a new study finds.
Published yesterday in the online version of the journal Nature Climate Change, the study depicts how such a shift could put new strains on U.S. infrastructure, as rails and trains replace riverboats as the primary mode of agricultural transportation.
"You're definitely going to need to expand loading and export facilities and bolster the strength of your rail lines from North Dakota west and east," said Bruce McCarl, a regents professor with the Department of Agricultural Economics at Texas A&M University. "This is a 50-year expansion we're talking about."
The agricultural sector already places significant demand on the nation's transportation infrastructure, making up 22 percent of all transport tonnage.
Of that total, grain holds the largest share. Yet even that could change, as evaporating temperature barriers allow corn production to expand in the rich soils of Minnesota and the Dakotas. Acre for acre, corn yields are three times as heavy as wheat... If infrastructure keeps pace with shifting production, the United States could play an even greater role in international food markets than it does today. While rising temperatures could unlock fertile areas of the Dakotas and Minnesota, as well as other Great Lake states and provinces, food production is set to decline in more equatorial regions of the world, leading to greater demand for U.S. crops.
The increased demand will require more export terminals, particularly in the Northeast and Northwest. Larger volumes of crops could be moved via the Great Lakes, though lower water levels there could raise transportation costs as well.
I think that long-term wheat production will disappear in this area.  It was slowly disappearing here anyway, but gradual warming will eventually cut down yields.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

A Study of Life

The Atlantic:
In June 2009, The Atlantic published a cover story on the Grant Study, one of the longest-running longitudinal studies of human development. The project, which began in 1938, has followed 268 Harvard undergraduate men for 75 years, measuring an astonishing range of psychological, anthropological, and physical traits—from personality type to IQ to drinking habits to family relationships to “hanging length of his scrotum”—in an effort to determine what factors contribute most strongly to human flourishing.
The director of the study's key takeaway:
 Vaillant’s key takeaway, in his own words: “The seventy-five years and twenty million dollars expended on the Grant Study points … to a straightforward five-word conclusion: ‘Happiness is love. Full stop.’ ”
That would be my best guess at what happiness is.  The article linked to is one of my all-time favorites.  It was fascinating to me to get glimpses into not only what the subjects told the doctor, but his reading of it.  If you have an hour or so, I highly recommend it.

Dereliction of Duty

David Welna explains what Congress is working on in May:
Well, in the Senate, they're picking up where they left off, trying to pass legislation that would make payment of your state's sales tax mandatory for what you buy on the Internet. There's some resistance to this from anti-tax Republicans. But since it's seen as a boost to brick and mortar small businesses, the bill's expected to pass. Its fate is less certain in the far more tax-averse GOP-controlled House. And that House, meanwhile, is expected to vote on Republican-sponsored legislation that would set priorities for paying the nation's creditors in the event the Treasury runs out of money and has to, at least partially, default on the debt. And this raises the specter once again of a big debt-ceiling limit crisis, like the one in the summer of 2011. And even though that episode damaged Republicans in the polls, some of them are, nevertheless, gung-ho about having another debt ceiling showdown, but this time with a list of who gets paid first and who gets stiffed. Don't expect that bill to go very far in the Senate if it does pass the House.
So the Republicans in the House are planning who gets stiffed if they decide not to pay the bills?  I thought this was the party of businessmen.  I guess it is the party of shady businessmen.  The Republican party is a bunch of useless, irresponsible assholes. How in the fuck do people keep voting for these dumbasses?