Saturday, September 29, 2007

Hookah Marines!

This logo is on a billboard on US 12/18 near John Nolan Drive south of Madison. With the red and gold color scheme, each time I see that name - Hoorah! - I think it is a bar for U.S. Marine Corps clientèle. Then I remember that I'm in Madison and force that thought from my head. I doubt the owners even have a clue.

Madison's Hookah Lounge & Cafe is part of the new trend that makes smoking acceptable, as long as it is in a multi-cultural (read 'dhimmitude') context.

Hoorah! Sports & Shooting Bar. Now that could be a business model worth your investment.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Score two for the Cheeseheads

I read this at the Journal-Sentinel's Packers Blog

Last week, some of the folks at told Green Bay fans to "settle down" after the team's 2-0 start. The point was that it was way too early to suggest the Packers would be playing games in January.

This week, Don Banks offered the same reality check. He tells readers at that no one should be putting the Packers on a pedestal - just yet.

Says Banks: "The Packers may well be this year's Cinderella story, and their NFL-best seven-game winning streak dating to last season is a testament to how quickly coach Mike McCarthy has turned Green Bay's program around. But let's not coronate the 3-0 Packers just yet. The Eagles would have beaten Green Bay in the opener at Lambeau if they could have fielded a punt. The Packers' second-half in the Meadowlands was impressive, but the Giants defense isn't the ultimate test.

I didn't know the Packer's streak was the league's longest, but with Indy as the only other NFL team in the running, it isn't totally surprising.

The Badgers hold NCAA football's longest active winning streak of 13 games making Wisconsin 2 for 2.

I take no blame for any bad mojo this blogpost may cause.

A personal one-eighty

One month ago I was committing to move my family and my massive tax payments from Wisconsin to Michigan. I had mentally checked out of Wisconsin and was thumbing my nose at the $15 billion “health care” boondoggle you suckers were going to enjoy.

I have been working in Michigan on a contract basis for over a year and my manager was encouraging me to apply for a permanent position that was to be posted in August. He and I had even begun salary and benefit talks, and I had started house hunting.

But on August 22, while my wife was here on one of those house hunting trips, I was informed that the project I am presently working on will be put on hold for an indefinite time, and we will need to begin to close things out. In other words, it was time to find a new job - fast.

(NB – There are some fantastic real estate bargains in the St. Joseph area. Our realtor showed homes to my wife and me on each of her two visits that we would have immediately bought if I had a permanent position here. Relatively low property taxes, too.)

Since then, that permanent position has never been posted and I have observed others currently working in similar positions. After seeing the poor treatment and awful working hours required of these people (2 of whom abruptly retired), I have decided that this job is not for me.

Meanwhile, a colleague I was helping to place in a different job decided against taking that position. In our follow-up correspondence he learned of my situation and offered to recommend me to his employer. Making a short story shorter, last Friday I had dinner with my colleague, the owner of his company, and our spouses. An offer of employment was extended, negotiations began this week.

Good news for Jim Doyle, my new W-2 will continue to list a Wisconsin domicile.

It is time to swap headgear.

Fire Ned

Until now, I have been silent on Ned Yost's role and performance as Brewers' Manager. Although many of his decisions this year have been questionable, I understand that he is limited by the talent in his bullpen and that many of the "decisions" of MLB managers are based on cookbook formulas of past performance.

However, Yost's immature decision last night to bean Albert Pujols demonstrates that Ned Yost is not suited for the position of manager of a competitive major league baseball team. Tom Hardicourt reports:

Did the Milwaukee Brewers put retaliation ahead of the division race?

That was the perception Wednesday night when a game of tit-for-tat blew up on the Brewers in a very costly 7-3 loss to St. Louis at Miller Park.

The defeat prevented the Brewers from taking advantage of a 7-4 Chicago loss in Florida. Had the Brewers swept the Cardinals, they would have been one game behind the Cubs in the National League Central Division with four to play.

Instead, the Cubs remained two games on top and saw their magic number for clinching the division drop to three games. If Chicago merely splits its remaining four games, the Brewers would have to sweep a four-game series from playoff-contender San Diego just to tie for first and force a one-game showdown Monday at Wrigley Field.

"We still have math on our side," insisted Brewers manager Ned Yost.

Down by a run, the game got away from the Brewers when St. Louis scored four times in the eighth inning after what appeared to be a retaliatory strike against Albert Pujols. It was obvious that St. Louis pitcher Brad Thompson intentionally drilled Prince Fielder with a pitch in the second inning, which also was a bit of retribution.

The answer to that question is 'Yes.'

Yost was more concerned with his personal pissing match with Tony La Russa than winning a baseball game in a pennant chase with the Cubs. Yost intentionally put a potential insurance run on base for the Cardinals on a night where his team was struggling to score runs. That is inexcusable.

A MLB dugout is full of young emotionally charged men and there needs to be at least one grown-up to control things and think logically. Ned Yost is not adult enough to do that job.

And about that math. Every game counts in a pennant race and the math is on the Cubs' side, not the Brewers. Yost's statement is idiotic.

To paraphrase Pulp Fiction,
Fabienne: Whose football team is this?
Butch: It's a baseball team, baby.
Fabienne: Whose baseball team is this?
Butch: It's Ned's.
Fabienne: Who's Ned?
Butch: Ned's dead, baby. Ned's dead

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Prince bitch slaps Cecil

I don't think this was in the paper, so you may have missed it. Prince Fielder unloads on his father at the Journal-Sentinel's Brewers Blog, Tom Haudricourt reports:

Fielder said he had no intention of keeping the 50th home run ball but was hoping for No. 52.

"My dad had 51 (as a season high)," said Fielder. "Then, he can't say anything."

In the SI article, Cecil Fielder said his some was an ingrate and would not have been a first-round draft pick if not for him paving the way with his big-league career. Prince, who wants to be his own man and escape the shadow of his father, obviously has been steaming about those comments ever since.

That subject resurfaced when Fielder was asked about the possibility of winning the NL MVP award.

"It would be a cool award to get but that's not something I think about," he said, "besides the fact my dad never did it. If I do get it, that shuts him up again."

"That's why I'm so passionate about playing," Fielder added. "I don't mind people comparing me to him but I'm a completely different player. One day I want people to mention my name and not have to mention his."

As for the recent comments from his father, Fielder said, "You've got to look at who's saying it. Let's be honest. He's not really the brightest guy."

We're guessing Prince and Cecil won't be having dinner any time soon.


The Reading Gap. I know the answer.

You know the story by now ...
The average reading ability for fourth- and eighth-grade black students in Wisconsin is the lowest of any state, and the reading achievement gap between black students and white students in Wisconsin continues to be the worst in the nation.

Those are among the facts found in a mass of testing results released Tuesday by the U.S. Department of Education, the latest results from a long-standing federal program called the National Assessment of Education Progress. It is the closest thing to a nationwide standardized testing program for reading and math ability.
Based on Wisconsin's demographics, this Black-White disparity is actually a proxy for Milwaukee vs. non-Milwaukee schools. Milwaukee's schools stink, so the scores for African-American kids in Wisconsin will stink too.

One reason these children cannot read is because of Milwaukee's use of "Whole Language" or other educational frauds. My lily white kids attended MPS for just one year, but their educations were harmed for many years. If my middle class kids in a two parent home are negatively affected by one year of this crap, what chance do poor kids in single parent home facing 12 years of it have?

It isn't income. It isn't family. It isn't race. It is those rotten schools.

Make MPS teach phonics. Watch that racial gap close.

I call that an understatement

Don't ask, don't kill

And the Iranian leader denied that homosexuality exists in his country when asked to explain the execution of homosexuals in Iran.

"In Iran we don't have homosexuals like in your country," he said, to laughter and boos from the audience. 'In Iran we do not have this phenomenon. I don't know who's told you that we have this."
The mocking laughter of students at Columbia University to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s statement came from their sense of multi-cultural superiority. The students were laughing at Ahmadinejad’s naivety. Everyone knows that GLBT are everywhere and are to embraced, celebrated and encouraged. To those at Columbia, Ahmadinejad is just another gay-denier, just like Bush and other religious fundamentalists. To these students this belief is laughable and mockable, much worse than Ahmadinejad’s denial of the Holocaust.

The problem is that these all-knowing Columbia University students are tragically ignorant. Ahmadinejad spoke the truth and this truth is not a laughing matter. In Iran, there are no “homosexuals like in your country.” To openly practice that behavior in Iran is a death sentence. Ahmadinejad has no tolerance for homosexuality, and he has the power and desire to eradicate anyone known (or even suspected) to practice that behavior.

His statement was not a punchline.

Jane Fonda was correct

Today, only a handful of people know what it means ... Soon you will know.
Last week Althouse linked to this NYT commentary blaming Jane Fonda and her The China Syndrome film for global warming. Never mind that, it gave me an opportunity after 25 years working in the nuclear industry to rethink the film and how close it comes to reality.

In the movie “The China Syndrome,” Fonda played a California TV reporter filming an upbeat series about the state’s energy future. While visiting a nuclear power plant, she sees the engineers suddenly panic over what is later called a “swift containment of a potentially costly event.” When the plant’s corporate owner tries to cover up the accident, Fonda’s character persuades one engineer to blow the whistle on the possibility of a meltdown that could “render an area the size of Pennsylvania permanently uninhabitable.”

“The China Syndrome” opened on March 16, 1979. With the no-nukes protest movement in full swing, the movie was attacked by the nuclear industry as an irresponsible act of leftist fear-mongering. Twelve days later, an accident occurred at the Three Mile Island nuclear plant in south-central Pennsylvania.

[ ... ]

The TMI accident was, according to a 1979 President’s Commission report, “initiated by mechanical malfunctions in the plant and made much worse by a combination of human errors.” Although some radiation was released, there was no meltdown through to the other side of the Earth — no “China syndrome” — nor, in fact, did the TMI accident produce any deaths, injuries or significant damage except to the plant itself.
It has been a very long time since watched the film, but I recall one of the themes of the movie was the Jack Lemmon character being pressured by his evil management to overlook a plant defect in the interest of budget and schedule. Silly kid, back in 1979 I thought that was fiction.

Technically the movie was immediately discredited. But imagine my protests back then if the movie was about a hole growing in the reactor vessel head to the size of a football as utility management and plant personnel rationalized the symptoms. That story would have been way too far-fetched for anyone to buy.

Given this chance to revisit the film from my current perspective, I see that it tells a realistic story of the difficulty of maintaining a safety conscious work environment. The Lemmon character demonstrates the courage needed to stand-up to management in circumstances where doing the right thing is not in-line with corporate objectives.

The normalization of deviance is as much a danger now as it was then and is something to be guarded against in the face of budget and schedule pressure. It is reported that the Davis-Besse culture was so focused on production, that the gaping wound in the reactor vessel went unreported and unresolved for years. Headless Blogger has heard reports that sister plants run by this same nuclear operator were chastised before the hole was discovered for not matching Davis-Besse's record for continuous operation. Employees at these other plants were more cautious in their treatment of suspected safety defects.

I cannot blame Jane Fonda for the industry's earlier demise, it was self inflicted. The China Syndrome may have been flawed technically, but it portrayed the human element with some accuracy. Things are better in the business today, but it is foolish to think we are perfect. We should embrace the human performance lessons of The China Syndrome as we go forward with this new generation of nuclear power plants.

Fix my car - The answer

Here is the long awaited answer to my car's mystery symptoms, in particular the radio that only plays when the brake pedal is depressed.

The answer given by the mechanic following my car's failure to start is that the alternator he intalled 3 weeks earlier was producing too much power.

The way we figured it the radio includes some protective circuitry that shuts it off when too much voltage is received. By stepping on the brakes or turning on the A/C, the voltage must have been reduced to be within the allowable range and the radio started up. I don't know what accounts for the dead battery, unless it had a protective circuit that was more sensitive than the radio and it never received a charge.

The defective alternator was replaced at no charge.

Pun fully intended.

Monday, September 24, 2007

A Salute to Uncle Jimbo

I read it here first, way back on September 13. Uncle Jimbo wrote at
Guess what I did at lunch? That's right, I petitioned my government for redress of grievances, specifically illegal political advertising practices by the New York Times and We are all well aware of the sorry political advertisement calling the General a traitor.

Good old Benedict Petraeus, well MoveOn could hardly be expected to rise from it's wallow in the fever swamps anyhow, right? So in my first act of political crankitude I filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission regarding the discount MoveOn received. Ya' see in order to be fair newspapers and TV aren't allowed to discount political or advocacy ads so they cannot favor one side, well Hmmmmmm.
This was not just the ravings of Madison’s favorite …, er, I’ll think of a suitable term later, the NYTimes has cried uncle*.
Did get favored treatment from The Times? And was the ad outside the bounds of acceptable political discourse?

The answer to the first question is that paid what is known in the newspaper industry as a standby rate of $64,575 that it should not have received under Times policies. The group should have paid $142,083. The Times had maintained for a week that the standby rate was appropriate, but a company spokeswoman told me late Thursday afternoon that an advertising sales representative made a mistake.

The answer to the second question is that the ad appears to fly in the face of an internal advertising acceptability manual that says, “We do not accept opinion advertisements that are attacks of a personal nature.” Steph Jespersen, the executive who approved the ad, said that, while it was “rough,” he regarded it as a comment on a public official’s management of his office and therefore acceptable speech for The Times to print.
Well done Mr. Hanson.

How about a Flagrant Act of Citizenship Award for Uncle Jimbo?

*Yes, I am not one to pass up a pun, good or bad.

Let me reiterate - Do not trust this man with a blank check

He fooled them last time, will they let it happen again?

Maple Bluff - Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle and legislative leaders today opened talks on how to resolve the overdue budget, and Doyle promised to tell legislators what compromises he would sign into law and what he would veto.

"I'm not in this to pull some big surprise on somebody at the end," said Doyle, who personally appealed to Assembly Speaker Mike Huebsch (R-West Salem) and Senate Majority Leader Judy Robson (D-Beloit) to reach a budget compromise that can pass the full Legislature and be on the governor's desk for his signature.

Well at least they've got Doyle's "word" on it (wink, nudge, fingers crossed). Jimmy has those outstate rubes right where he wants them.

Huebsch negotiated for Republicans, who control the Assembly. He said Doyle's promise to monitor the budget talks and say what he will not veto was important.

Two years ago, Doyle rewrote the last budget passed by Republicans with vetoes, diverting money from transportation spending in ways that angered GOP lawmakers.

Because Wisconsin governors have the broadest veto authority in the nation, Huebsch said, "A deal has to be a deal."

"Doyle promised," words guaranteed to give someone a mouth-full.

Hint to Huebsch, get it in writing. Better yet, revoke the line item veto first, negotiate later.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Jude and Jena

Jude Victim.

Jude Villian.

Jena Victim.

Jena Villian?

H/T: McBride's Media Matters

No rights reserved - Tom McMahon 4-Block this at will.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Fix my car - bump & update

I had a curious vehicle problem last week. Here are the symptoms that began when I started the car on Monday morning.
  • The air bag light illuminated upon starting and stayed on.
  • The radio did not work.
  • When I stepped on the brake, the radio came on.
  • When I released the brake, the radio went off.
  • After work, when I started the car the air bag and check engine lights both illuminated.
  • The radio wasn't working.
  • When I turned on the A/C, the radio came on and stayed on.
Diagnose the problem.

More clues later if no one gets it.

Additional clues:
  • The alternator was replaced 3 weeks prior to the problem beginning
  • After three days of driving like this, the battery was dead and the car needed a jump to start

White Men Can't Smoke

The White Men Can't Smoke BBQ Team is competing next weekend at The Big Pig Gig in Menomonee Falls.

Come by Saturday (Sept. 29) to sample our leftover product. Samples will be available beginning at Noon and continue throughout the afternoon.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Don't trust this man with a blank check

As the pressure mounts on the Wisconsin Assembly Republicans to cave to the tax increase demands of Governor Doyle and the Senate Democrats, they need to realize that whatever they pass is not the final budget. With Doyle's line item veto power, anything that is passed by the legislature is a Lego set for Doyle to break down to shift funding in any way pleases. The budget Doyle signs will represent his priorities, not anything passed by the Legislature.

There is no rush to pass a new budget, we are doing just fine with the old one. The legistature should eliminate or curtale the governor's veto powers to prevent the rewriting of legislation by Wisconsin's Executive Branch.

It is not time to cave on the budget. Fix the veto first, before continuing budget negotiations.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Nothing to see here, please move along

I thought this was dead, but Texas Hold'em gives me an excuse to air another one of my conspiracy theories.

I said the other day that I did not understand why the New England Patriots need to cheat. After their thrashing of the Chargers on Sunday, it is clear to me that there is no on-field reason for it. The 2007 New England Patriots are a great football team. I predict they will finish the year 19-0 to surpass the 1972 Miami Dolphins.

My only question is, can the Patriots finish 19-0 against the point spread without stealing opponents' signals? The NFL cannot put this behind them fast enough. I suspect they do not want to learn why the league's star franchise is cheating .

"Follow the money" is useful advise.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Give me HillaryCare

Yahoo News reports:

Fulfilling a pledge to bring health care to all, Clinton's "American Health Choices Plan" has a price tag of about $110 billion per year. It represents her first major effort to achieve universal health coverage since 1994, when the plan she authored during her husband's first term collapsed.

According to the US Census Bureau the 2006 population of Wisconsin was 5,556,506 and the US was 299,398,484. Based on the estimated cost of $15.2 billion for the "Healthy Wisconsin" plan, Hillary's offer of universal healthcare for $110 billion is a savings of over $700 billion.

Either Hillary is offering a helluva bargain or the Wisconsin Senate Democrats are not much at cost negotiations.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Jobs that Mexicans can't do

I recently heard a talk radio caller lamenting that illegal alien workers were given preference for jobs in his area. One place that this is not an issue is in the nuclear power industry, where workers are screened and vetted for security and reliability, including citizenship or legal status in the U.S.

In addition, a growing number of existing employees are retiring at the same time that demand for workers is exploding. Energy Central provides this report.

The utility workforce is graying. That's no secret. But, the matter is particularly acute in the nuclear sector where half of the schools that train everyone from engineers to plant operators have dropped by the wayside over the last 25 years. Now, of course, nuclear power is reemerging as a viable energy source. Nothing is certain. But, if the public fully embraces the concept, the people that run the facilities won't just materialize out of thin air.

The U.S. Department of Labor released a report saying that a third of the workers in the nuclear industry are eligible to retire in the next five years. That equates to more than 19,000 people on all levels. To build a plant, however, requires at least 1,500 hands. And with 30 facilities now under consideration, the potential shortfall is evident.

[ ... ]

"Our growing need for labor isn't incremental," says Anthony Topazi, CEO of Mississippi Power, at the energy summit in Biloxi. "It is exponential. We must meet this demand if we are going to satisfy the needs of this economy and this country's national security." An estimated 185,000 utility construction workers are needed by 2015, he says.

Market economies can and do respond to demands. Under any scenario, utilities will have to dig deep by either paying more to their existing workers to entice them to stay longer or they will have to help underwrite scholastic programs to attract fresh minds. With the Bureau of Labor Statistics reporting average starting salaries at more than $51,000 for nuclear engineers, recruiting is made easier. Forbes magazine, meanwhile, says that experienced plant operators take home more than $56,000.

Workers of all stripes are encouraged to re-evaluate their job skills and to network. Now is the time to retool and to begin to discover where the new possibilities lie. For those willing to embrace change and upcoming challenges, they will increase their long-term value throughout the energy industry. Indeed, energy companies are ripe with new opportunities, particularly in the nuclear sector.

While the Energy Central report focuses on new plants, there is also significant demand for workers at operating plants. The operating plants are where security screening is the tightest. A relatively clean criminal background is required, and random drug and alcohol testing is mandatory.

Jobs are available for all levels of skills, from engineers to laborers, and previous nuclear experience is not a requirement. Military service will move you near the front of the line. The money is good to great.

Nuclear job openings are posted at the following sites, as well as at many nuclear operator's websites.

Energy Central Jobs

Roadwhore Nuclear Job Board

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Blacksox 2007

Before I heard about the sideline spying, I was ready to start engraving the 2008 Lombardi Trophy for the New England Patriots. The addition of Randy Moss possibly turned a great team into one of the NFL's all-time best.
I didn't understand the Patriots' need to cheat.

Then I learned they did the same thing in Green Bay last year. This must be incredibly effective or they wouldn't continue to do it with the risks involved. What else are these cheaters doing that has not been discovered? Steroids that elude NFL testing are one obvious possibility.

The Patriots' cheating goes back decades to the infamous snowblower incident. I have to conclude that cheating has been a part of the team's culture through changes of owners, coaches, players, stadiums and even cities. There is too much parity in the NFL for their level of dominance for over a decade.

The following will help to prevent recurrence.
  • Ban Belicheat, Brady and all the other cheaters from the NFL for life.
  • Cut off the owners from revenue sharing for one year.
  • Take away the Patriots #1, 2 & 3 draft picks in 2008.
  • Reduce the team's 2008 salary cap by $25 million.
  • No 2007 post season play for these cheaters.
This death penalty will mean a loss of NFL revenue in the New England states. But that loss to the NFL is small in comparison to losing the rest of the country once we start to realize that the games are not played on a level playing field.

I have put my personal asterisks on every one the Patriots' Super Bowl wins.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Al Gore wants your car

My friend Tim owns this SUV and enjoys stirring up Bay-area lefties on his daily 90-mile round trip commute. What cajones!

Tim also tells his teenage son that the ultimate goal of Al Gore and the climate change alarmists is to take away our cars and make us ride the light rail train.

Just another wingnut ranting, right? Until now you may say yes. Progressives have been careful to hide their ultimate agenda, only referring in general terms to things we can do to help fight global warming, but never admitting what it would take to meet the Kyoto mandates.

But LA Times writer Dan Neil lets the truth slip out in his otherwise excellent list in TIME of the 50 worst automobiles.

Uh-oh. Here comes trouble. Let's stipulate that the Model T did everything that the history books say: It put America on wheels, supercharged the nation's economy and transformed the landscape in ways unimagined when the first Tin Lizzy rolled out of the factory. Well, that's just the problem, isn't it? The Model T — whose mass production technique was the work of engineer William C. Klann, who had visited a slaughterhouse's "disassembly line" — conferred to Americans the notion of automobility (sic) as something akin to natural law, a right endowed by our Creator. A century later, the consequences of putting every living soul on gas-powered wheels are piling up, from the air over our cities to the sand under our soldiers' boots.

First, Neil admits the positive economic impact of the auto industry ("...supercharged the nation's economy..."), which also implies the negatives from shutting it down that lefties won't admit.

Then he makes a clumsy tie between the auto industry and death ("... who had visited a slaughterhouse's 'disassembly line' ... ") to create an evil parallel. What is that doing in a list of the 50 worst cars?

Finally, Neil lets us see the true target, it is not windmills and hybrid cars that will save the planet. "A century later, the consequences of putting every living soul on gas-powered wheels are piling up, from the air over our cities to the sand under our soldiers' boots."

What Tim tells his son is correct. Progressive thinkers, such as Dan Neil, believe that "automobility" is something to be carefully rationed and not available to "every living soul" in America. "Automobility" is to be reserved for Dan Neil, George Soros, the Reverend Al Gore and the rest of the politically connected left.

The rest of us can take the trolley or ride a bike.

Sombrero flip to Badger Blogger.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

The Osama video

This is all the proof that I need that Bin Laden is being held somewhere by the CIA.
He goes on to call Noam Chomsky "among one of the most capable of those from your own side," and mentions global warming and "the Kyoto accord."

He also speaks to recent issues grabbing headlines in the United States, referring to "the reeling of many of you under the burden of interest-related debts, insane taxes and real estate mortgages; global warming and its woes..."

"To conclude," bin Laden says, "I invite you to embrace Islam." He goes on to say: "There are no taxes in Islam, but rather there is a limited Zakaat [alms] totaling 2.5 percent."

OBL is an educated man. The only way he would talk this foolishly is under threat of further water-boarding or decapitation.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Kevin Fischer knows brats

Enlist me in Kevin Fischer's fight against fruit filled bratwurst.
This morning, while I was perusing newspapers from all across the state, a daily routine for me, I came across an article on……..hold your nose………fruity brats.

Apricot Dijon brats.

Hawaiian brats with cherries, pineapple and ham.

And a few others that are so WRONG, so YUCKY, so UN-BRAT LIKE, that I can’t even find the courage to describe them in print.

You’ll just have to read about them…but I warn you… ain’t pretty.
No link here, you'll have to follow the above link to Kevin's blog to get there.

I also endorse his choice of Glenn's Market. I'm a fan of their Sheboygan-style brats, home-cured bacon and wieners. Glenn's is a nice stop on the way home from Madison. Their mushroom-Swiss bratwurst are also winners.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Winners - Losers

Another tip of the hat to Owen, he provided a link to the information I needed to complete my thoughts on this post.

Big Oil conspiracy theorists will want to read this, I am enlisting in their cause today.

For many years, it has been my wacky contention that oil refiners do themselves no good service by performing proper maintenance on their refineries. No matter what the cause, any disruption in oil supply immediately leads to higher prices for consumers and increased profits for oil companies.

So what if a valve leaks, then burns, then shuts down a refinery for three months? That is all a part of a sinister plan to increase revenues for Big Oil.

Cato provides all the proof that I need.
Ask a free marketeer what government should do about rising gasoline prices and the usual reply is "nothing," because "high prices provide incentives to conserve and for companies to deliver new supplies." But as gas prices near all-time highs, consumers are hardly flinching.

Sure, they'll shake their fists at the oil companies if asked. But gasoline consumption is actually higher today (by 1%) than it was last year even though pump prices increased by 15% over the same period.

It seems that sellers can increase prices without harming sales a whit. A new study by energy economists at the University of California at Berkeley finds that from 2001 to 2006, a 10% increase in fuel prices typically reduced consumption by only between 0.3% and 0.8%.
Fast forward to 2007 ...
Oil giant BP announced Thursday it will back off plans to put more pollution into Lake Michigan, something the company has argued it needed as part of a $3.8 billion expansion to bump up production at its oil refinery in Indiana.

Company officials say public criticism has been so overwhelming they will not take advantage of a permit that would have allowed them to increase the amount of ammonia and "suspended solids" dumped daily into the lake. Illinois politicians were among the first to pounce after the State of Indiana gave the plan the green light in June, and the furor quickly spread to Congress. In July, the House passed a toothless resolution that called for "an end to dumping in the Great Lakes."
Nice try BP. I know the real reason for the change of direction. BP knows that increasing motor fuel supply in the Midwest will lower prices, meaning little or no additional profit from their investment in this refinery expansion. Possibly even resulting in a decrease in profit.

Blowhard politicians and ignorant citizens fell for the tales of environmental disaster due to this de minimis increase in refinery discharges. BP gains in public opinion for stopping the refinery expansion and can also count on increasing profits. What a no-brainer.
  • Winners: BP, politicians, environmental activists
  • Losers: Consumers
  • Bystanders: Lake Michigan - no change to the lake, either way
I'll take it a step further, it isn't environmentalists and politicians that have prevented expansion of oil refining capacity in the U.S. since the 1970's. It is oil companies that have made this decision based on sound economic reasoning. With this supply-demand curve, increasing capacity means decreasing profit.

Gas prices

Owen linked to this report from Cato regarding today's gas prices. One of the conclusions of the report is that gas is expensive because of driving decisions made by motorists.
“Though politicians often condition us to think that all price increases are the products of corporate conspiracy, there’s no evidence of corporate price-fixing or collusion over the past 40 years. When pump prices go up, people adjust by spending less on other aspects of driving, like new car purchases, automotive maintenance, new paint jobs and stereos. Over time, they’ll buy more fuel-efficient cars to reduce the amount of gasoline they need to buy. In short, consumers—not oil companies—exercise control over how much they spend to get from here to there.”
It has long been my opinion that today's popular vehicle choices -- such as SUV's & pick-ups, 6-cylinders at a minimum, Hemi's, and ever increasing horsepower -- come with a price. All of these vehicles increase the demand for gasoline, which raises the price at the pump.

I have made the choice to include only one six-cylinder vehicle in my fleet in order to reduce the fuel that I consume (it is still possible to buy a 4-cylinder car if you try).
Others have made a different choice in vehicles. I drive more miles than the average American, which is my contribution to higher gas prices. No matter anyone's individual driving choices, we all are paying that higher price for fuel at the pump.

Following Katrina, I had my first
domestic experience with gasoline at over $3 a gallon. I eagerly filled up and paid that price. I was 300 miles from home and the ready availability of $3+ gasoline was certainly a better option than state-controlled $1.50 gasoline that would be unobtainable.

Markets work, if you let them.

Vote early. Vote often.

The Maytag Repairman, o
ne of my virtual friends, is a candidate for the Advertising Hall of Fame. The actor, Clay Jackson, writes:
If you have two minutes in the next couple of weeks (you have until September 24th) can you log onto the below website and vote for the Maytag Repairman?

He has been nominated to be in the Advertising Hall of Fame and
we are trying to make sure he gets there!!!!

All you have to do is go to

Click on the MAYTAG REPAIRMAN link and cast your vote!

It is one vote per computer so if you have a work and home computer vote twice!!!!

Thanks in advance for your vote!!! Please tell all of your friends to help out.

I really appreciate it!

And I would appreciate your support of Clay.