June 29, 2006

Those “Worthless” WMDs

Filed under: MSM Biz/Other Bias,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 3:49 pm

I missed this last week from Jim Geraghty at TKS (HT “S.O.B.er” Brain Shavings, who has many more links and a nice table at his post) as he dressed down Alan Colmes’ intellectual complete dishonesty about the state of mustard gas shells found in Iraq:

A 94 to 97 percent purity after seven years (cited in a UN inspectors’ 1999 letter about mustard gas) strikes me as pretty long lasting. Presuming that the rate of degradation is stable (is there a reason deterioration would accelerate in year eight or later?) the year 2003 would mean that at the time of the invasion, these shells had a purity of 88 to 94 percent. Sounds pretty potent to me.

Try researching, Alan. Mustard gas keeps its toxicity for a long time. Stop telling your viewers and listeners that the weapons were “degraded” — which, without context, sounds like “harmless.”

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Previous Posts:

  • June 22 — MORE WMD Findings Revealed (Adding to Richard Miniter’s October 2005 List)
  • June 13 — The “No WMD” Lie: An Addendum
  • March 18 — Weekend Question 1: When Will We Hear the “Never Mind” on the “No WMD” Claim?
  • March 3 — Why Isn’t There a Groundswell of Media and Other Protest about This “Coverup”?
  • Feb. 15 — The Saddam Tapes, If They Prove WMDs, Will Be Icing on an Already-Baked Cake
  • Feb. 8 — The “No WMD” Lie (Yet Again) at Coretta Scott King’s Funeral — And a Challenge
  • Nov. 2, 2005 — The “No WMD” Lie (with LINKED Proof)
  • Oct. 27 — The “No WMD” Lie

Why Electric Cars Have Always Failed

Filed under: Business Moves,Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 1:31 pm

Ralph Kinney Bennett at TCS Daily boils it down to one word:

Like strange, silent techno-zombies EVs keep rolling back into the public eye, earnestly appealing to us to ignore basic economics and fall under the sway of their swift, silent, non-polluting mobility. But despite the most ardent labor of various entrepreneurs, scientists and engineers; despite some of the most ingenious inventions, adaptations, modifications and applications of all sorts of technology, EVs have not been able to become the car the public wants them to be.

They have succeeded as purpose-built vehicles — fork lifts, golf carts, “city cars,” airport shuttles and the like. But they have never become the car for the open road, the let’s-drive-over-to-the-shore-for-the-weekend car.

Why?

Let’s go over this one more time, class: Range. Range is the problem. Electric cars do not have sufficient range to be the practical, versatile, every day car most people want.

They don’t have range because they operate on batteries — those mysterious sealed devices that convert chemicals into stored electrical energy. And batteries can’t store enough energy to keep an EV going more than 50 or 60 miles, or in rare cases (with experienced drivers and the latest and very expensive nickel-metal-hydride battery packs) 150 miles, before they have to be recharged.

Put it this way. I can drive my wife’s big Lexus 55 miles on two gallons (about 16 pounds) of gasoline that cost me six bucks. An electric car like the one featured here could travel the same distance by exhausting its 1000-pound battery pack (lead-acid, costing $2000) which would then have to be recharged. The recharging would take about four hours. I could replace the two gallons of gasoline in about 30 seconds, but I wouldn’t have to because my wife’s car can easily go another 450 highway cruising miles on a tank of gas.

….. No matter what high hopes one may have for them, electric cars are cars of low expectations. They are, at their best, “only” cars — cars for people who expect to drive only a few miles, only on generally flat roads, with only themselves or perhaps one passenger, with only light cargo, and only in moderate weather.

In the “urban environment” so cherished by enlightened folks, EVs are adequate to the task. Electric propulsion is wonderful in a closed and somewhat predictable environment like, say Catalina Island. You just silently glide along, accelerate instantly, and have a general feeling of well being. But, alas, we can’t all live on Catalina Island.

….. But I have also found that too many EV enthusiasts seem to be a little bit contemptuous of ordinary folk who want to pack everyone in the van and go to the gymnastics competition a couple hundred miles away, or throw their dirt bikes into the back of the truck and head for the mountains.

These votaries of the EV religion get real heartburn when they see people barreling around in SUVs and pick up trucks that appear to be empty most of the time. They don’t seem to grasp the fact that millions of motorists do not see their cars as spare and ascetic tools to get them from point A to point B. Like it or not, American motorists see their cars as full of potentialities and possibilities, some of which may seldom or never be fulfilled.

Bennett also has some well-deserved scorn for those who insist that electric cars haven’t made it because of some grandiose oil company-car company-Dick Cheney conspiracy:

People who go around grousing and moaning about who killed the electric car are people with a schooled ignorance about markets and the realities of physics — and an intellectual arrogance — not only about what you and I should drive, but about how we should live.

Lucky Break of the Year

Filed under: Privacy/ID Theft,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 1:18 pm

Well, it’s more than luck, because there has obviously been a large-scale effort to recover the laptop stolen from the Veterans Administration, but the luck has to do with what was done with the data on it — nothing:

The government has recovered the stolen laptop computer and hard drive with sensitive data on up to 26.5 million veterans and military personnel. The FBI said Thursday there is no evidence that anyone accessed Social Security numbers and other data on the equipment.

Veterans Affairs Secretary Jim Nicholson, in announcing the recovery of the computer, said there have been no reports of identity theft stemming from the May 3 burglary at a VA employee’s Maryland home.

The FBI, in a statement from its Baltimore field office, said a preliminary review of the equipment by its computer forensic teams “has determined that the data base remains intact and has not been accessed since it was stolen.”

I would hope that the privacy organizations and others who are tracking and listing data breaches update their records accordingly. I have updated my posts on this matter here, here, and here.

Up, Up, Up: Final 1st Quarter GDP Growth Was 5.6%

Filed under: Economy,MSM Biz/Other Bias — Tom @ 10:12 am

….. But The Associated Press feels compelled to throw cold water on the news.

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Wow — This is from the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) announcement:

Real gross domestic product — the output of goods and services produced by labor and property located in the United States — increased at an annual rate of 5.6 percent in the first quarter of 2006, according to final estimates released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis.

….. The increase in real GDP in the first quarter primarily reflected positive contributions from personal consumption expenditures (PCE), exports, equipment and software, and federal government spending.

The original estimate in April was 4.8%, and the revision in May was to 5.3%. Reuters notes that Wall Street economists had predicted a final revision of 5.5%.

Here’s the obligatory cold water thrown by the Associated Press in the 5th, 6th, and 7th paras of their first report on the GDP news (cold-water words in bold):

Fresher barometers, however, suggest the economy is shifting into a lower gear in the current quarter.

Economists predict that economic growth in the April-to-June quarter probably slowed to a pace of around 2.5 percent to 3 percent. High energy prices and a more moderate housing market will play roles in the expected slowdown in overall economic activity.

If that turns out to be the case, the economy will have registered a seesaw-like pattern of growth in the last few quarters.

The opening quarter’s energetic performance followed a lethargic showing in the closing quarter of 2005 when the economy grew by a feeble 1.7 percent pace.

Here’s how the past 12-quarter period of the Bush 43 economy compares to the previous four best seven-year prosperities:

1Q06GDPcomp

As you can see, the 4.0% growth is not as good as what was achieved during the prosperous Reagan-Bush 41 years, and is slightly better than during the prosperous Clinton years.
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UPDATE: A later AP report adds this jaw-dropping paragraph:

President Bush, coping with low job-approval ratings, hopes Goldman Sachs chief Henry Paulson — the man who has been confirmed to be the next treasury secretary — will breath(e) new life in(to) the administration’s economic agenda.

Putting aside the noted grammar corrections, since when does an economic agenda that has led to current growth of over 5% and a three-year growth record of 4% need to have “new life” breathed into it?
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Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Bizzy’s AM Coffee Biz-Econ-Life Links (062906)

Free Links:

  • Germany does something right:

    The German government is about to trigger a new crisis in Europe’s flagship climate policy, the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS).

    BBC News understands the German cabinet is likely to agree a deal that will reduce carbon emissions from industry by only 0.6% between 2004 and 2012.

    The decision is likely to influence other EU countries, including the UK, which still have to set their own caps.

    Environmental groups describe the target as “pathetic and shameful.”

    I would replace “shameful” with “sensible.”

  • The University of Cincinnati can’t make it on $500 more from every student:

    Budget shortfall means cuts at UC

    The University of Cincinnati has said it will have to make cuts, and possibly lay off staff, due to a $27 million budget shortfall.

    The university’s board of trustees on Tuesday approved a $1 billion budget for 2006-07 school year, and raised tuition by $498 per year, but said that won’t be enough to break even.

    After 10% tuition increases in each of the past three years, the idea that UC can’t get by without what it considers to be major cuts proves that they’ve been wasting the extra money they have received all these years.

  • Ho-hum1,000 new jobs:

    UnitedHealth to Add 1,000 Jobs

    HOWARD, Wis. — UnitedHealth Group Inc. plans to hire 1,000 full-time workers at a call-center near Green Bay, Wis., the company said Wednesday.

    The Minnetonka, Minn.-based health insurer said it will remodel the former American Medical Security headquarters into a state-of-the-art call center.

    A shareholders’ revolt at the New York Times? — As I’ve mentioned on a few occasions, the family that owns The New York Times has set up a dual-stock structure that enables it to be minority investors while having a majority of the votes for the board of directors and shareholder-related initiatives. A major shareholder is not happy with that

    Morgan Stanley Investment Management said Tuesday it withheld votes for the Times’ director nominees because it believes the company’s board and management have become unaccountable to shareholders.

    The firm, which says it owns more than 5% of the Times’ Class A stock, called for the elimination of the dual-stock structure that leaves control of the board with minority shareholders led by the founding Sulzberger family.

    Yesterday, NYT stock closed at $23,73, only $1.11 above its 8-year low of $22.62 that occurred in mid-June, and is down over 50% in the past four years.

Positivity: Identical Twins Become Priests

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:04 am

This is very neat:

Identical twins ordained to the priesthood

Erie, PA, Jun. 28, 2006 (CNA) – James and Joseph Campbell have always been close, but last Friday, the identical twin brothers took a lifetime step together that will bond them in an eternal way; the Erie, Pennsylvania brothers were both ordained to the priesthood at the city’s St. Peter’s Cathedral.

Both 26 now, the brothers grew up “playing Mass” with wafers fashioned from bread in their parent’s home. They also voluntarily attended 6:30 a.m. daily Mass growing up.

According to the Associated Press, Father Joseph Campbell said that “It wasn’t an obligation for us, but rather something we saw as cool.”

The boys, who share 11 other siblings, were named after the family’s late pastor, Monsignor James Joseph Gannon.