Saturday, May 3, 2014

The Government Drag

EPI, via Ritholtz:

I predicted the large Republican win in 2010 would lead to a recession.  I was wrong, but it definitely led to a huge drag on the economy.

The Russian Buildup

Washington Post:

Derby Day Reads

Here are some stories to check out:

The Kentucky Derby tax break - Politico

Ahead of the Kentucky Derby, Horse Racing Seeks Reform - Wall Street Journal

The Invention of the Chilean Sea Bass - Priceonomics.  People are stupid.

Five Stunning Facts About America's Prison System You Haven't Heard - SK.  The United States is a pariah (dare I say, Apartheid) state when it comes to criminal justice.  There is no justice, but the prison system is criminal.

This Town Needs a Better Class of Racist - Ta-Nehisi Coates

Astonishing Video of a Baltimore Street Collapse - Washington Post.  More infrastructure failure.

Carbon Dioxide Levels in Atmosphere Reach Terrifying New Level - Slate.  We are screwed.  Hockey stick, anyone? (see below)

Book Review: Proof: The Science of Booze - Scientific American.  Enough colons for one line.

Yes, Tornadoes are Getting Stronger - Wired

Concerns grow over deadly pig virus - BBC.  Europe worries about PEDv.


Uncharted territory.

It's Derby Day

For the 140th running of the Kentucky Derby I'll take California Chrome to win, Vicar's in Trouble to place and Wicked Strong to show.  Hopefully your picks do better than mine probably will.

Friday, May 2, 2014

COOL Labeling Supporters and Opponents

Big Meat-opposed.  Many small producers-for.  Most consumers-don't really care:
So in May of last year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture issued a new rule, which makes the labeling requirements more substantive by requiring meat producers to separate U.S.-born from foreign-born livestock at every step of the process -- no commingling allowed.
And this is where we learn something about how the sector works: As with so many products in the globalized, integrated economy, there is no "American" meat industry. Most of the large scale meatpackers, like Tyson Foods, buy animals from both Canada and Mexico and bring them to U.S. slaughterhouses, which are all subject to the same safety standards. As several meatpacking trade associations led by the American Meat Institute put it in their lawsuit against the new rules: "In short, beef is beef, whether the cattle were born in Montana, Manitoba, or Mazatlán. The same goes for hogs, chickens, and other livestock." (The lawsuit, which will get a full hearing before the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, alleges that the labeling requirements are a form of "compelled speech" that violate meatpackers' first amendment rights.)
There are, however, some meat-producing interests that still favor the country-of-origin labels: American ranchers themselves, who just provide the animals, and don't have to deal with separating streams of livestock from all over the continent and tracking it to its destination. (In D.C. advocacy world, this can get confusing: TheNational Cattlemen's Beef Association opposes the labeling requirements, but the U.S. Cattlemen's Association supports them.) These are the people who are worried about mega-corporations taking over agricultural production, and also worry about the impact of free trade deals that have allowed in more imports than they've boosted exports.
Foremost among them is the National Farmers Union, which testified strongly in favor of the labeling requirements at a congressional hearing on the state of the livestock industry Wednesday, and also offered this chart of how quickly the industry has consolidated:

So far, the rules have held, but the court challenge and WTO case may change that.  That chart is fascinating to me.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

And So it Begins

LA Times:
The state Senate on Thursday approved a measure aimed at preventing the nonmedical use of antibiotics in farm animals in California to make them grow bigger.
The bill mandates that antibiotics be prescribed by veterinarians for medical uses and that drug manufacturers change labels for animal antibiotics to state  that they are to be sold only by prescription.
Sen. Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo) said he introduced SB 835 because of concern that the widespread use of antibiotics has increased resistance to infections that affect more than 2 million Americans each year.
“This is an emergent public health issue,” Hill told his colleagues, adding that antibiotic resistance is the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s “No. 1 health threat for 2014.”
He said 70% of all antibiotics were used for farm animals, in many cases to promote growth.
“The more antibiotics are used, the more resistance will develop,” Hill said.
The bill is supported by the California Veterinary Medical Assn. The vote was 34-1, with Sen. Loni Hancock (D-Berkeley) the lone opponent. She did not say why she opposed the bill.
Farmers in other states have been warned: voluntarily change how you use antibiotics, or face more regulation.  I really like being able to go buy some antibiotics when I need them, and I don't want to get a prescription from a veterinarian.  However, I also rarely use antibiotics, so I'm following the intent of this bill.  Unfortunately, I know other folks won't change what they are doing until they are forced to change, so I expect sometime in the not too distant future I'll need a veterinarian's prescription to buy antibiotics.  Thanks greedy idiots.

A History of Plant Tampering

Scientific American Classics for May looks back at various articles the magazine has featured over the years dealing with the evolution of plant improvements, from hybrids and grafting to gene-splicing.  In their introduction, they discuss the controversy these technologies have engendered:
For 10,000 years, in fact, we have altered the genetic makeup of our crops. For example, the ancient ancestor of modern corn was created some 6,000 years ago by Native Americans who domesticated a wild plant called teosinte, which looks nothing like a modern corn plant. If humans still depended on this wild relative, we would need hundreds, if not thousands, of times more plants—and acres—to replace corn.

Today virtually everything we eat is produced from seeds that have been genetically altered in one way or another. The old approaches were crude and have been refined over the centuries. Modern methods include grafting and forced pollination (mixing genes of distantly related species) and radiation treatments to create random mutations in seeds. The newest method is genetic engineering—a technology developed after scientists observed that the “bothersome” plant pathogenAgrobacterium tumefaciens habitually introduced its own genes into plants. With a little laboratory work, the bacterium can instead implant desirable genes, such as those that increase nutrients or help the plant resist pests or drought.

The planting of genetically engineered crops during the past 20 years has drastically reduced the amount of synthetic insecticides sprayed worldwide, shifted the use of herbicides to those that are less toxic, rescued the U.S. papaya industry from disease, and benefited the health and well-being of farmers and their families and consumers. Every scientific review of the crops on the market so far has concluded that the plants are safe to eat.
Just as the excitement surrounding the benefits of genetic engineering paralleled those of our predecessors, so, too, has the fear of plant tinkering technologies persisted over time. Consider the comments of Maxwell T. Masters, president of the International Conference of Hybridization, in his 1899 Scientific American article: “Many worthy people objected to the production of hybrids on the ground that it was an impious interference with the laws of Nature.” Today we are all too familiar with similar arguments about the application of genetic engineering in agriculture.

This inspiring collection of articles reminds us that the technologies of plant breeding have always been controversial.  Undoubtedly, new ways of producing crops—and the debates surrounding them—will continue. What is clear is that each new technology needs to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis and assessed for its environmental, economic and social impacts.
Amen.  It amazes me to listen to the anti-GMO folks who claim Monsanto made their GMO seeds sterile so farmers couldn't save seed.  They are confusing hybrid seeds, which have been around since the '20s, with patented seeds where the company makes farmers pay licensing fees and won't allow them to save seed.  At the same time, even though there is no evidence that GMO seeds are unsafe, there probably could have been a little more research completed to study any potential health effects prior to flooding the food supply with GMO grain.  The Scientific American Classics: The Birth of the GMO Debate is worth checking out.

Gerry Adams Arrested in 1972 Murder Case

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams has been arrested by Northern Ireland police in connection with the 1972 murder of Jean McConville.
He presented himself to police on Wednesday evening and was arrested.
Speaking before his arrest, Mr Adams said he was "innocent of any part" in the murder.
Mrs McConville, a 37-year-old widow and mother-of-10, was abducted from her flat in the Divis area of west Belfast and shot by the IRA.
Her body was recovered from a beach in County Louth in 2003.
Police said a 65-year-old man presented himself to Antrim police station on Wednesday evening and was arrested.
In a statement, Sinn Féin said: "Last month Gerry Adams said he was available to meet the PSNI about the Jean McConville case. That meeting is taking place this evening."
Mr Adams added: "I believe that the killing of Jean McConville and the secret burial of her body was wrong and a grievous injustice to her and her family.
"Well publicised, malicious allegations have been made against me. I reject these.
"While I have never disassociated myself from the IRA and I never will, I am innocent of any part in the abduction, killing or burial of Mrs McConville."
His party colleague Alex Maskey condemned the timing of the arrest, just over three weeks from the European and local government elections.
However, Mrs McConville's son Michael, who was 11 when his mother was murdered, welcomed the arrest.
"We're just happy to see everything moving as it is moving at the minute," Mr McConville said.
"Me and the rest of my brothers and sisters are just glad to see the PSNI doing their job. We didn't think it would ever take place [Mr Adams' arrest], but we are quite glad that it is taking place.
"All we're looking for is justice for our mother. Our mother, on the seventh of next month, would have been 80 years of age.
Northern Ireland still lives in the shadow of the Troubles.  Then again, Northern Ireland still lives in the shadow of over 500 years of history.

Surprise Favorite

(Photo: Benoit Photo)

SI has a nice article on the strange path to Derby favorite for California Chrome. This is pretty amazing:
The horse, a 2-year-old filly named Love the Chase, was both small and slow (though apparently quite sweet) and hence the full syndicate eventually decided to divest itself of ownership. But the two guys both liked her. They insist -- in that dreamy manner that exists only at the racetrack and other places where common sense is secondary to dreams -- that they saw something. They bought Love the Chase for $8,000. A groom at the filly's barn had said that anybody who would actually pay money for the horse was a dumb-ass, so Steve Coburn and Perry Martin shook hands and agreed on the spot to name their nascent operation Dumb-Ass Partners.
A little while later they bred the filly to a 10-year-old stallion named Lucky Pulpit, whose breeding rights were selling for about $2,000. They saw something in him too. From this coupling came a colt with four white feet and a giant white blaze on his chestnut face, born on a rare rainy afternoon in California's drought-ravaged San Joaquin Valley, a place better known for growing almonds and olives than champion thoroughbreds. The colt seriously injured his mother while leaving the womb by dragging his crooked right forefoot across the wall of her uterus and spilling her blood on the floor of the foaling barn. Once he was taught to run and given the name California Chrome, Coburn and Martin sent him to a septuagenarian trainer who had once slept on hay bails in a railway car next to Swaps when the colt made the trip from Los Angeles to Louisville before his victory in the 1955 Kentucky Derby. Now, for the first time in nearly 60 years, Art Sherman, 77, is going back to the Derby. And he's going with the likely favorite.
The change in fortunes for Dumb-Ass Partners is also pretty extreme:
Some people aren't wondering at all about Chrome's authenticity; they are chasing it with their wallets. Before the Santa Anita Derby, Coburn and Martin say that they were offered $6 million for the horse. They refused. Two hours later the same buyer returned offering $6 millon for 51 percent of California Chrome and full control over all decisions. Again, they refused. Another group wanted a 25 percent stake in California Chrome for $1.1 million. Somebody else offered $2.1 million for Love the Chase. Coburn and Martin said no to everything. Offers have continued since then, growing in size and providing the two men with multiple chances to lock in millions on a $10,000 investment. They have continued to say no, a massive gamble on a horse who might never be more valuable. Coburn's spin is lyrical: "What kind of price tag can you put on a dream?" he says.
Martin is more pragmatic. "First of all, this means a lot to Art," said Martin. "But I also think people are low-balling us just to do a deal with two guys who supposedly don't have any money. At least I keep hearing that's what we are." (Both owners placed Derby future-book bets on California Chrome: Coburn got $1,000 down at 200-1 in January, the same month that Martin's daughter, Kelly, 26, made a trip to Las Vegas with friends and made a total of $500 in bets at odds ranging from 175-1 to 275-1.)
That is one of the things that makes thoroughbred racing so fascinating.  Good luck to California Chrome and the other horses who have defied the odds and will line up in the starting gate on Saturday.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014


Huayhuash from Joey Schusler on Vimeo.

Junk Debt Pays For Fracking

The U.S. drive for energy independence is backed by a surge in junk-rated borrowing that’s been as vital as the technological breakthroughs that enabled the drilling spree. While the high-yield debt market has doubled in size since the end of 2004, the amount issued by exploration and production companies has grown nine-fold, according to Barclays Plc. That’s what keeps the shale revolution going even as companies spend money faster than they make it.
“There’s a lot of Kool-Aid that’s being drunk now by investors,” Tim Gramatovich, who helps manage more than $800 million as chief investment officer of Santa Barbara, California-based Peritus Asset Management LLC. “People lose their discipline. They stop doing the math. They stop doing the accounting. They’re just dreaming the dream, and that’s what’s happening with the shale boom.”
Companies with a lot of debt relative to earnings use junk bonds to raise cash. Investors get higher returns because of the increased odds of not getting paid back. The debt is in demand because the Federal Reserve has heldinterest rates near zero for more than five years, shrinking returns on safer bets. The popularity has pushed down borrowing costs for companies trying to unlock oil and natural gas trapped in deep underground layers of rock like the Bakken shale in North Dakota or the Eagle Ford in Texas....
Of the 97 energy exploration and production companies rated by S&P, 75 are below investment grade, according to the credit-rating company. The average yield for energy exploration and production companies rated junk has declined to 5.4 percent from 8.1 percent at the end of 2009, compared with a drop to 5.21 percent from 9.06 percent for all companies rated below investment grade, according to Barclays.
Cheap debt, along with advances in horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, have propelled U.S. oil output to a 26-year high. Last year, the country produced 87 percent of its own energy, putting it closer to independence from foreign sources than it has been since 1985, according to the Energy Information Administration.
It’s an expensive boom. About $156 billion will be spent on exploration and production in the U.S. this year, according to a December report by Barclays analysts led by James West. That’s 8.5 percent more than last year and outpaces this year’s expected 6.1 percent growth in global expenditures, the analysts said.
It is never good to see somebody mention Kool-Aid being drunk.  This is a scheme that will come crashing down.  It will get more expensive to drill less-productive wells, and prices are going to be extremely sensitive to over- or underproduction.  Companies are borrowing to drill, and using proceeds to pay off the creditors before borrowing to drill again.  With the rapid well depletions, there just isn't a lot of cushion for some low-production wells.  Things will get ugly in the shale plays in the next couple of years. I hope the optimists don't put too much of their money on the line, or they might be less rosy about things soon.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Technicolour Alaska

Technicolour Alaska from Alexis Coram on Vimeo.

Racial Diversity by County

The Atlantic:
Each county has a breakdown of ethnicities by percentage—i.e., Montgomery County, Maryland, is 49.3 percent white, 16.6 percent black, 0.2 percent Native American, 13.9 percent Asian, 17 percent Latino, and 3.1 percent "other." Olson quantified diversity by calculating entropy for each of these sets. He explains it on his blog like this: "A county will come out with high entropy when all six ethnic categories are as even as possible (i.e., each ~16.7 percent), whereas it will come out with low entropy if the county is only inhabited by people of one ethnic category."...
The 5 most diverse counties in the U.S., according to Olson's calculations, are:
  1. Aleutians West Census Area, Alaska (31.4 percent white/non-Latino, 5.7 percent African American, 15.1 percent Native American, 28.3 percent Asian American, 13.1 percent Latino, and 6.4 percent other)
  2. Aleutians East Borough, Alaska (13.5 percent white/non-Latino), 6.7 percent African American, 27.7 percent Native American, 35.4 percent Asian American, 12.3 percent Latino, and 4.4 percent other)
  3. Queens County, New York (27.6 percent white/non-Latino, 17.7 percent African American, 0.3 percent Native American, 22.8 percent Asian American, 27.5 percent Latino, and 4 percent other)
  4. Alameda County, California (34.1percent white/non-Latino, 12.2 percent African American, 0.3 percent Native American, 25.9 percent Asian American, 22.5 percent Latino, and 5.1 percent other)
  5. Solano County, California (40.8 percent white/non-Latino, 14.2 percent African American, 0.5% Native American, 14.3 percent Asian American, 24 percent Latino, and 6.2 percent other)
And the 5 least diverse:
  1. Tucker County, West Virginia (100 percent white/non-Latino)
  2. Robertson County, Kentucky (100 percent white/non-Latino)
  3. Hooker County, Nebraska (100 percent white/non-Latino)
  4. Hand County, South Dakota (99 percent white/non-Latino and 1 percent Latino)
  5. Owsley County, Kentucky (98 percent white/non-Latino and 2 percent Latino)
As to what surprised Olson the most? "As a Michigander," he writes, "I’m the most surprised to see how diverse the Upper Peninsula is. I thought only crazy white people lived up that far in Michigan."
Two words about the U.P.: Indian casinos.  I am surprised that Mercer County, Ohio can't break into the 5 least diverse counties.

Where the Cows Are

Hoard's Dairyman maps the state of the dairy industry.  First, where milk production is changing:

Chart: Green= Largest increase = 2,596,898 kg/km2
Rust= Largest decline = 295,363 kg/km2

 Milk has moved away from cities between 2001 and 2011. Red areas indicate less milk in 2011 than 2001, green areas mean more and a buff color designates a neutral milk region.
Almost every region where you see a dark red area indicating a sharp decline in production has a large and growing population center nearby. For example, Seattle, El Paso, New Orleans, Baltimore-Washington and Minneapolis. It is also worth noting that the vast majority of the country has a pink hue, indicating a more general loss of milk production.
The milk production growth that has occurred over the recent decade has been in a dozen relatively concentrated areas. In the Great Lakes region, Western New York has certainly grown. Michigan has a couple of distinct regions in the Thumb and central portion of the state. Wisconsin shows more milk in the bottom two-thirds of the state with the heaviest gains in the eastern portion.
Ohio and Indiana both have growth pockets in the northwest corners of each state. And Minnesota and South Dakota have a shared growth region along the I-29 highway corridor. More toward the west, eastern New Mexico and the Texas Panhandle have had significant growth as well as a couple of concentrations north of there in Kansas and Colorado. Arizona has a growth area as does Oregon and Washington state in the high desert regions. And, of course, Idaho really stands out.
Now, a map of where the cows are:

 Each dot on this map represents 1,500 cows. Generally speaking, the country’s growth pockets are taking cows from somewhere else; not many areas are the same as they were in cow numbers 10 or 20 years ago.
The U.S. continues to produce milk in all states — even Alaska and Hawaii. But the trends seem to show that dairy is concentrating into ever more dense pockets of production. The Southeastern quadrant of the country is about 40 billion pounds of milk net deficit annually and growing more so every year. Some of this is attributable to population pressures, but much can be blamed on genetic and management advances in milk yields that are hard to be realized in hot and humid climates. And, when milk supplies dwindle below a critical threshold, the loss of dairy infrastructure just makes milk production even more expensive.
I never guessed there would be so much diary in the Texas Panhandle and New Mexico.  Until I found out about the Milk Can trophy, I didn't realize that Idaho was such a huge producer

Shale Oil and Oil Prices

James Hamilton points out why increased U.S.crude oil production hasn't brought lower gasoline prices for consumers:

U.S. production of oil from tight formations is up 3.5 mb/d since 2005, and yet total global field production of crude from all sources is only up 2.3 mb/d. In other words, more than all of the increase worldwide over the last 8 years is attributable to U.S. tight oil production. Without U.S. tight oil, world oil production would be lower today than it was 8 years ago.
2.3 mb/d represents 3% of 2005 world field production. For comparison, world GDP grew by 28% since 2005. If oil prices had remained stable, with that much more income we would have expected much more than a 3% increase in quantity of oil demanded globally. The price of oil had to rise sufficiently– namely, to above $100/barrel– to restrain global oil demand to grow at a very slow rate over the last 8 years.
If the U.S. continues to be the only source of global growth in oil production, and if the world economy continues to expand at the pace it has over the last decade, oil prices are headed further higher. But how much promise does fracking hold outside the U.S.? The EIA believes Russia may have even more potential than the U.S., and Russia produced 120,000 b/d using horizontal fracturing methods in 2013. China may have about half the potential as the U.S. in shale oil and even more with shale gas, and is working hard to make that promise a reality.
I covered some of this last week, but I thought this graph told an interesting story of the shale oil future:

 That's from the North Dakota Department of Mineral Resources,Oil and Gas Division.  They've been among the biggest cheerleaders for the shale boom, so this would have to be a reasonable source of data.  I guess Sarah Palin will be happy (even if we aren't torturing anybody) because our future, just to slightly increase production, is "drill, baby, drill."

GDP by Sector

Via Ritholtz:

Finance #1.  That's why our economy sucks.  What the hell do those guys make? Debt and misery, but not necessarily in that order.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Tornadoes from Space

This is scary:

Intensely strong thunderstorms producing tornadoes are currently moving across the Southern United States, leaving at least 15 dead in their wake on Sunday. The photos of the damage are likewise intense.
The largest of the twisters, the Associated Press reports, "carved a 80-mile path of destruction as it passed through or near several suburbs north of Arkansas' capital city. It grew to be a half-mile wide and remained on the ground for much of that route."
Above, via NASA, is what that destruction looks like from the safe distance of space. You can see the cells of clouds intensify in what looks like a white bloom of algae as the storm entered the region. "The same system that spawned these tornadoes is expected to bring the possibility for severe weather further east on April 28 from Cincinnati, Ohio, to New Orleans, La.," NASA writes.

Magical Europe

Magical Europe - Timelapse from StanChang on Vimeo.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

NASA Photo of the Day

April 24:
Lyrids in Southern Skies
Image Credit & Copyright: Yuri Beletsky (Las Campanas Observatory, Carnegie Institution)
Explanation: Earth's annual Lyrid meteor shower peaked before dawn on April 22nd, as our fair planet plowed through dust from the tail of long-period comet Thatcher. Even in the dry and dark Atacama desert along Chile's Pacific coast, light from a last quarter Moon made the night sky bright, washing out fainter meteor streaks. But brighter Lyrid meteors still put on a show. Captured in this composited earth-and-sky view recorded during early morning hours, the meteors stream away from the shower's radiant near Vega, alpha star of the constellation Lyra. The radiant effect is due to perspective as the parallel meteor tracks appear to converge in the distance. Rich starfields and dust clouds of our own Milky Way galaxy stretch across the background.

Roundup Resistance Forces Farmers To Return to Old Chemistry

Wall Street Journal:

About 42 million acres of soybeans planted in 2012 were treated with non-glyphosate herbicides, double the 2006 total and equivalent to 57% of all soybean acres, according to a U.S. Department of Agriculture report this year.
Farmers increasingly have turned to some herbicides considered harsher than glyphosate. In 2012, they used more than six million pounds of 2,4-D, nearly four times the 2005 level, according to USDA data. Use of dicamba more than doubled to 87,000 pounds over the same period.
Farmers are having to brush up on their chemistry. Travis Starnes, 36 years old, who grows corn, wheat and soybeans near Monroe, N.C., said he's again relying on a notebook of chemical recipes his family compiled in the early 1990s, before Roundup became dominant, to plan his herbicide use.
"Basically, it's like history repeats itself," Mr. Starnes said.
Thanks to the bigger arsenal, some farmers now say they are gaining ground in their war against the super weeds. In the South—where a longer growing season and warm climate have made it the battle's front line—fewer cotton and soybean acres were lost last year to invaders such as pigweed, marestail and ryegrass, according to farmers, academics and industry officials....
Thanks to the bigger arsenal, some farmers now say they are gaining ground in their war against the super weeds. In the South—where a longer growing season and warm climate have made it the battle's front line—fewer cotton and soybean acres were lost last year to invaders such as pigweed, marestail and ryegrass, according to farmers, academics and industry officials.
"Most [farmers] feel like they are either winning or fighting to a draw," said Bob Scott, a weed science professor at the University of Arkansas. "They're not losing fields anymore."
But success is costly. Some farmers' herbicide expenses have doubled or tripled since resistant weeds set in, cutting deeper into budgets at a time when corn prices are down 38% from their 2012 peak and soybean prices are off by 16%.
I don't know that I'd consider marestail a superweed, but it is frustrating.  But, ryegrass?  That would seem dangerous to use as a cover crop if you are going to have a hard time killing it.  Then again, I'd assume atrazine would cook it pretty good.  As for the "no shit, Sherlock" part of the story, there's over there is even more.  Screw that.this:
Scientists for decades have observed weeds capable of withstanding herbicides, but applying Roundup to the same fields every year speeded up the development of immunity in some weeds, researchers say.
Whodathunkit?  The article finishes with the nightmare scenario for industrial agriculture, hand-weeding:
Meanwhile, some farmers have returned to an expensive, but proven, method of weed control: the hoe.
Hand-weeding, which can cost farmers up to $150 an acre, has again become common in some parts of the country.
Last summer, Heath Whitmore, who farms rice and soybeans near Pine Bluff, Ark., spent a week chopping down palmer amaranth plants that had survived his chemicals. "That's what my dad and my grandfather used to do," he said. "That's what it's reverted back to."
Now that would fricking suck  I've tried knocking down pokeweed in some fields, and it is really easy to see and to knock down.  That seems like a never-ending task.  You hit a whole bunch, then you see even more in another part of the field.  Knock that down, and there's even more over there.  I hate that shit.

The Tea Party Grift

Washington Post:
When the Tea Party Patriots threw its support last month behind Matt Bevin, the underdog conservative challenger trying to unseat top Senate Republican Mitch McConnell, President Jenny Beth Martin vowed the group would be “putting our money where our mouth is.”
So far, its super PAC has mustered just $56,000 worth of mailers in Kentucky on Bevin’s behalf — less than half the amount it has paid Martin in consulting fees since July.
The Tea Party Patriots Citizens Fund, which blew through nearly $2 million on expenses such as fundraising, polling and consultants in the first three months of this year, is not alone in its meager spending on candidates.
A Washington Post analysis found that some of the top national tea party groups engaged in this year’s midterm elections have put just a tiny fraction of their money directly into boosting the candidates they’ve endorsed....
Out of the $37.5 million spent so far by the PACs of six major tea party organizations, less than $7 million has been devoted to directly helping candidates, according to the analysis, which was based on campaign finance data provided by the Sunlight Foundation....
Roughly half of the money — nearly $18 million — has gone to pay for fundraising and direct mail, largely provided by Washington-area firms. Meanwhile, tea party leaders and their family members have been paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in consulting fees, while their groups have doled out large sums for airfare, a retirement plan and even interior decorating....
Three well-known groups — the Tea Party Patriots, the Tea Party Express and the Madison Project — have spent 5 percent or less of their money directly on election-related activity during this election cycle.
I'm shocked that little money from some of these PACs have gone to candidates, and lots of money have gone to the consultants and insiders (SarahPAC, anyone?).  As Rick Perlstein has demonstrated, much of the energy of conservatism for the past 50 years has gone into separating true believers from their money.  The worst part is that some of the richest folks in America are also some of the biggest marks.  Look how much money old man Ricketts, Sheldon Adelson and the Koch Brothers fed to useless pieces of shit like Karl Rove and Frank Luntz in the 2012 election.  I feel bad for the old folks who can't afford to get conned by these crooks, but as for the Ricketts and Adelsons and such, I just wish they were paying that money in taxes as opposed to keeping Karl Rove fat.

Wait, What?

Bloomberg looks at differences in cost-of-living between cities:
What if you could get a 20 percent discount on everything from beer to real estate? You can. You just have to move to Danville, Illinois.
And that's assuming you live in a town with average prices. Residents of Honolulu and New York, the two most expensive cities in the U.S., would see a 35 percent drop in their cost of living in Danville, according to new data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis.
Feel like moving to Pittsburgh? Now there's a city in a sweet spot, with cheap prices and, according to new BEA data that adjust average incomes for local inflation, relatively high incomes. Pittsburgh is 6.6 percent cheaper than the national average, and residents are the 36th best-paid in the U.S., bringing home almost $48,000 annually per person.
No one’s really going to move based on these numbers. But seeing where your income ranks compared to averages in other cities is always entertaining.
Wait, if you could make more money and pay less in Pittsburgh, you aren't going to move, but you will move from Ohio to Texas because of a maximum state income tax rate of 5.3% (as John Kasich claims)?  I think we can ignore the moving for tax reasons claim (except for retirees wintering in Florida and other states claiming residence there). Unless people are really stupid.  Ok, so maybe it is a real phenomenon.  As for moving to a place with lower cost-of-living, I told my sister she could sell her place in Chicago and live like royalty in Ohio, but she isn't taking that deal.

A View Inside Bunkerville

More like Crazytown:
Soon enough, a handful of junior politicians and the Bundy family are ushered on stage with a full compliment of assault-weaponed militia and a man with binoculars.
The crowd, fresh off their victory at the Battle of Bunkerville, gives Bundy a standing ovation. But he doesn’t seem pleased. He reproaches the crowd for failing to follow the word of God – to the letter – which he says is being delivered through him. They failed, for example, to follow his instructions to tear down the toll booths at Lake Mead and disarm the Park Service.
"The message I gave to you all was a revelation that I received. And yet not one of you can seem to even quote it.”
Cliven continues, sermon-like: "The records of our bible — how long have they been kept? Thousands of years. They’ve been turned over generation after generation, buried, and all kinds of things happen to ‘em. And yet, here, something I felt was inspired [by God] and yet we haven’t even carried it forth for even a couple of days. Shame on us.” Smattering of clapping.
He goes on to explain that, although they managed to deter the BLM, they failed to do it "within one hour," as the revelation had prophesied. So when an hour passes, he decides to get in his bulldozer and march on the BLM himself. The dozer gets stuck in the mud and he receives another revelation.
“It come to my mind real plain — the good Lord said, ‘Bundy, it’s not your job, it’s THEIR job.’ So we come back over here and heard that they had brought some cattle back. So I want you to understand,” addressing the crowd, "This is not my job, it’s YOUR job.
"This morning, I said a prayer, and this is what I received. I heard a voice say, 'Sheriff Gillespie, your work is not done. Every sheriff across the United States, take the guns away from the United States bureaucrats.’” Lots of clapping for this.
Bundy goes on for a good while and militia members are forced to leave their chairs to walk around and get water.
Read the whole thing.  Thank you, Sean Hannity, for trying to make this nut into an American hero.  You, sir, are a jackass.