Monday, December 31, 2007

Cherry pickin' the record book

The Drudge link screams "2007 a Year of Weather Records in U.S."
WASHINGTON (AP) - When the calendar turned to 2007, the heat went on and the weather just got weirder.

January was the warmest first month on record worldwide—1.53 degrees above normal. It was the first time since record-keeping began in 1880 that the globe's average temperature has been so far above the norm for any month of the year.

And as 2007 drew to a close, it was also shaping up to be the hottest year on record in the Northern Hemisphere.

U.S. weather stations broke or tied 263 all-time high temperature records, according to an Associated Press analysis of U.S. weather data. England had the warmest April in 348 years of record-keeping there, shattering the record set in 1865 by more than 1.1 degrees Fahrenheit.


Smashing records was common, especially in August. At U.S. weather stations, more than 8,000 new heat records were set or tied for specific August dates.

More remarkably that same month, more than 100 all-time temperature records were tied or broken—regardless of the date—either for the highest reading or the warmest low temperature at night. By comparison only 14 all-time low temperatures were set or tied all year long, as of early December, according to records kept by the National Climatic Data Center.

For example, on Aug. 10, the town of Portland, Tenn., reached 102 degrees, tying a record for the hottest it ever had been. On Aug. 16, it hit 103 and Portland had a new all-time record. But that record was broken again the next day when the mercury reached 105.

That is just freakin' scary. How warm was January 2007 in the U.S.? It was the warmest January on record since January 2006. Dang, it was even one of the three warmest January's in the last 10 years.

In reality, the weather of 2007 was unremarkable. Using the NOAA data for heating & cooling degree days as my basis (which is what matters to me), 2007 was not even the warmest winter, summer, or year in the last decade.

Degree Days: A measurement that reflects the effect of weather on your heating and cooling needs. Daily degree days are calculated by comparing the average daily temperature to 65°F.
I'm dealing with global warming or cooling by air conditioning and heating my house. I really don't care how the Third World'ers of the EU do it (Hint - Join the 20th Century, Pierre. Install an air conditioner).

Also missing from this alarmist rewriting of history was any mention of the admission that the previous list of hottest years had to be amended due to supposedly innocent errors
by these researchers with vested interests. Sorry to blow your paradigm, but let's take another look at the 1930's.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Something I will not be wearing in 2008

Note to China, now might be a good time to invade Japan.

The cute cuddly white cat from Japan's Sanrio Co., usually seen on toys and jewelry for girls and young women, will soon don T-shirts, bags, watches and other products targeting young men, company spokesman Kazuo Tohmatsu said Friday.

"We think Hello Kitty is accepted by young men as a design statement in fashion," he said.

The feline for-men products will go on sale in Japan next month, and will be sold soon in the U.S. and other Asian nations, according to Sanrio.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

My Christmas score

It doesn't take much to make this boy happy. Chuck Mercein. Davy Robinson. Bill Curry. Its not just the stars that are featured on this 3 DVD set.

The Super Bowl I and II discs hold great memories for me. I forgot how much the Baltimore Colts were feared back then, and how the Cowboys were the Packers' bitch.

If you get the discs, check out the Leroy Neimen-ish prints that are used on the backdrop for The Vince Lombardi Show. I have the complete set of all eight (free with a fill-up at your nearby Mobil station). Bobby Hamann's mom made him toss them out when he cleaned his room and I still have them almost 40 years later.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Ken Hendricks - Create Jobs, Eliminate Waste, Preserve Value

I had never heard of Ken Hendricks before the announcement of his death on Friday.
"Two point six billion," says Hendricks, shaking his head. Then he chuckles. "It's not even real," continues the CEO, chairman, and sole owner of ABC Supply. "The money doesn't mean a damn thing."
Following up on a tip from Belling caller "Brian in New Berlin" I searched out the article that accompanied the naming of Mr. Hendricks as Inc.'s 2006 Entrepreneur of the Year. What a contrast to this story.
Bonuses on Wall Street surge 14 percent

NEW YORK (AP) -- This might have been one of Wall Street's most dismal years in a decade, but that hasn't stopped bonus checks from rising an average of 14 percent.

Four of the biggest U.S. investment banks - Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Morgan Stanley, Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. and Bear Stearns Cos. - will pay out about $49.6 billion in compensation this year. Of that, bonuses are traditionally estimated to represent 60 percent, or almost $30 billion.

But that might not sit well with investors who held on to investment bank stocks this year - and watched them plunge by up to 45 percent. Investment houses have been slammed by the credit crisis, and top executives this past week said they've yet to see a bottom.

It is clear from the article that Mr. Hendricks was from the old school of business, the one where people worked for the love of accomplishment, that being reward enough. He was certainly wealthy, but he was not about huge bonuses or selling out for that big payday. He created his wealth as a byproduct of creating jobs for the people he could see that needed them. He didn't pinch pennies to put in his pocket, but to keep his many businesses running to pay his employees.
In Hendricks's worldview there are two unalloyed blessings: family and a good day's work for a good day's pay. "My whole life is about trying to treat the working man fairly and give him a good opportunity," he had said the day before while driving me past the packed parking lot at one of his plants. "If you've got a job you have pride. You can dream. You can go home and talk about your kids going to college."
What a difference from those in the Wall Street bonus article. People who have never put anyone to work, but skim billions off the top of our economy.

This country needs more Ken Hendricks. What a huge loss to his family, his employees, and the Beloit area.

Read the article.

What were the founders thinking?

Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.
Adding some context to the "cruel and unusual" clause of our Constitution.

All right, a little more of Alistair Horne on life in old France. Though you might want to save this one for after dinner. The subject here is François Ravaillac, who on May 14, 1610 assassinated Henri IV while the monarch was stuck in a traffic jam.
On 27 May, still protesting that he had acted as a free agent on a divinely inspired mission, Ravaillac was put to death. Before being drawn and quartered, the lot of the regicide, on the Place de Grève scaffold he was scalded with burning sulphur, molten lead and boiling oil and resin, his flesh then torn by pincers. Then his arms and legs were attached to horses which pulled in opposite directions. One of the horses "foundered," so a zealous chevalier offered his mount; "the animal was full of vigour and pulled away a thigh." After an hour and a half of this horrendous cruelty, Ravaillac died, as the mob tried to prevent him receiving last rites. When he finally expired,
the entire populace, no matter what their rank, hurled themselves on the body with their swords, knives, sticks or anything else to hand and began beating, hacking and tearing at it. They snatched the limbs from the executioner, savagely chopping them up and dragging the pieces through the streets.
Children made a bonfire and flung remains of Ravaillac's body on it. According to one witness, Nicholas Pasquier, one woman actually ate some of the flesh. The executioner, supposed to have the body of the regicide reduced to ashes to complete the ritual demanded by the law, could find nothing but his shirt.

Phew! Still, at least he wasn't subjected to water-boarding.

Euro-envy - I don't get it.

H/T - Derb.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

THE gift this year

I bought one for Mrs. Headless. But let me make one thing perfectly clear.
There are two types of people in this world:

A. People who use GPS navigation and/or stop for directions

B. Straight men*

*Unless he is visiting Pittsburgh.

What is this guy running for?

Oh, Commander in Chief. I'll buy that.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Favre is a lock for MVP #4

Do the math for the NFL's 4 top teams:
  • Patriots 14-0-0, 7 Pro Bowl Starters, 4 on offense (1 = Tom Brady)
  • Cowboys 12-2-0, 6 Pro Bowl Starters, 5 on offense (0 = Tony Romo)
  • Patriots 12-2-0, 3 Pro Bowl Starters, 2 on offense (0 = Peyton Manning)
  • Packers 12-2-0, 3 Pro Bowl Starters, 1 on offense (= Brett Favre)
Brett Favre carried his team with no 1st team Pro Bowl quality offensive help.

Sorry Brady, you had Moss to throw to and Light & Mankins protecting you.
Same goes with Dallas and Indy, rich with offense talent.

On the other hand, with no decent protection
, Favre was scrambling for his life and had no elite talent to throw to. He did it all by himself, defining the NFL's Most Valuable Player.

Monday, December 17, 2007

What is this guy running for?

The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.
I have never seen a more cynical political advertisement.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Cat blogging

The most popular place in our home right now is on, in, or under the Christmas Tree. Bandit runs the place and has the prime position staked out. There can be no ornaments on our purple tree*, besides the occasional cat.

My daughter brought two boys home from college. This one is called Invisi-butt for his ability to go into stealth mode on dark furniture. If he doesn't want to be found, he won't be found.

Muddles is the other one. He is looking particularly cranky in this shot. He is usually the most personable of the nine (9!!!!) cats currently in our house.

*WARNING: Do not take my wife near Stein's when they have their after-Christmas sale (almost as bad as Marv's barn when there's a new batch of kittens). Anyway, since we can't decorate our tree, our tree must decorate itself.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Defining insanity ...

No. Not the guy smoking 45 pounds of pork & beef in this weather. The guy leaving this, for our Winter Wonderland.

Global Warming: BRING. IT. ON.

Unintended Consequence of Progressive Ideas, No. 64,349

Kevin Fischer links to this report from Madison's Channel 3 on the difficulties of that city's snowplow drivers in negotiating around the numerous traffic islands that have been installed as "traffic calming" measures.
Longtime snowplow operator Todd Endres has been working 16-hour shifts, but he said the job is only getting tougher.

It's already a tight squeeze getting a 12-ton truck with an 11-foot plow through streets made skinny by record snow. But throw a lot of piles of cement right in the middle of the road and Endres said it adds up to a snowplow driver's nightmare.

"The traffic calming devices or pedestrian safety islands or roundabouts or speed bumps -- I, along with just about everybody that plows, hate them," Endres said.

The devices are meant to slow down speeders, but they also slow down snowplows as they carefully find their way around or over the traffic islands.

"It's a rocky road. You got to go slow because you can break the suspension on the truck," Endres said.
The report doesn't do it justice, watch the video.
"First of all, when you [...] don't see them, and you hit them and it jars the whole truck," Endres said.

He said that missing a traffic island can bounce a driver through the roof of his truck. He called that "teeth shattering."But he added that even those traffic calming devices that are plainly marked pose a challenge.

At one roundabout Wednesday, Endres demonstrated how his plow could not go around it correctly -- it wouldn't fit. He had to stop and back up, clogging traffic. He ended up making an illegal left turn in front of the roundabout just to continue his route.

"Traffic calming" is the term coined by Madison's anti-auto fanatics (you know, the ones showing their love for Paul Soglin) for the concrete obstructions they have planted throughout the city. They even have an official policy in this manual. These anti-SUV barriers are actually rather attractive in the summer, but like lite-rail, their proponents have not factored in Wisconsin winters.

Chalk up another one to the Law of Unintended Consequences.

I like that picture

What an old fart. He looks like some of the guys in my office, and probably hunts on the same land that they do.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Concrete Nirvana

I came across a link to this map in the comments at Boots & Sabers. At first I was curious about what could have been and how many of the trips that I typically take would be eased by these proposed and canceled freeways.

From Pewaukee east to UWM, south to Chicago, or north towards Manitowoc, I could hop on the freeway right outside my front door and save minutes and miles.
... right outside my front door ...
Upon closer examination, my observation was exactly correct. It appears that the proposed Bay Freeway was planned to run right through my front yard. That minor league ballpark doesn't look so bad after all.

Visit the Wisconsin Highways website for details and history of highways throughout the state. Fascinating stuff.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

ARM's are good

I just watched Charlie Sykes' Sunday morning show, which included the doughy hack from the Shepard Express vilifying adjustable rate mortgages and suggesting that they be eliminated. What a financial moron.

I had an ARM for the 2nd half 1990's and held it until the summer of 2005. During that time, I took advantage of declining interest rates, with my adjusted mortgage rate falling below 3% for some years. It was a beautiful thing.

When mortgage rates began to turn around, I locked a fixed rate mortgage at less than 5%, another beautiful thing.

Anyone financially ignorant enough to choose an ARM at a time of historically low fixed rate mortgages deserves what they got. They do not deserve to keep that home that they cannot afford.

Do I smell a class action?

Risk and reward go hand in hand.
That is the one lesson that anyone enrolled in Mr. O'Meara's Security Analysis class will never forget. If you desire a larger return on your investment, you must make a riskier investment. Likewise, if you desire a larger home than you can afford, you must take a riskier mortgage. But federal officials have taken action to rewrite this equation; reducing the risk for adjustable rate mortgage holders by reducing the reward to the lenders for those mortgage loans.

The Bush administration reached an agreement with the mortgage industry on Wednesday on a plan to freeze interest rates for up to five years for a portion of the two million homeowners who bought houses in the last few years with subprime loans.

The plan, hammered out after weeks of talks among Treasury Department officials, mortgage lenders and Wall Street firms, would allow distressed borrowers who are current on their payments to keep their low introductory rates and escape an increase of 30 percent or more in their monthly payments when the rates expire.
So reports the NY Times. Captain Morrison opines.

Thus endeth the free market. A free market doesn't just involve consumers, but also producers, who need to earn a competitive profit in order to stay viable and continue to produce. Lenders sell ARMs with an eye to long-term profits by offering very thin margins for themselves on the front end. If they cannot adjust the rates of these ARMs on schedule when the price of money rises, then they lose the profit on which they have planned.

What does that do to the market? The producers -- lenders, in this case -- have to either raise prices or restrict production. In this market, it means that credit tightens and people who may have been able to get home loans will get rejected instead. ARMs will almost certainly decrease, if not disappear altogether. Some may find that appealing -- but it will exclude many potential homebuyers from entering the market. That will increase the downward pressure on home valuations, already a major problem in this economy.

I might be wrong, but it was my understanding that Wall Street doesn't own these mortgages, they sell these mortgages. Sell them to investors like you and me.

I own a variety of mortgage securities by way of mutual funds, and I expect that my portfolio includes some of these subprime loans. I do not agree that the agreed-upon interest rates in these mortgage contracts should be ignored and forgiven for the next 5 years. The highly-paid professionals that I pay to manage these investments were the one's who made that decision.

By agreeing to freeze interest rates on my mortgage loan investments, my investment managers have violated their fiduciary duty to their investors. I will not be the only one to notice this. There are also legal experts on Wall Street who make a living on the misdeeds of investment managers.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Soglin's bumper sticker

UPDATE: No filling up at Bubba's

In October I praised Bubba's Place for their position against ethanol adulterated gasoline. That marketing tactic must have failed, because Bubba's does not have any fuel available to sell. Some of my Manitowoc homeys said it has been more than a month since Bubba has had gas. They also speculated on why, but there is nothing that I feel comfortable repeating.

The convenience store remains open.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Paul Soglin is right.

Yes, this Paul Soglin.

I don't mean politically. He is always wrong about that. I mean about bicyclists not belonging on the snow covered streets of Madison. I said so here, see Lesson No. 4.

And unlike the progressive Soglin; this mean and uncaring blogger does not advocate
shooting bikers or smacking them with a shovel. I was concerned with their safety.

Find the Grammy nominee in this video

Talent, looks, mental stability. She has got it all.

Monday, December 03, 2007

What double standard?

As I was listening to a defender of the nutty blog-commenting teacher's union president on the Belling podcast, a question came to mind.

What would happen if James Buss had scribbled this?

Probably, nothing. To me it appears to be a crude taze me bro' sketch.

Now what would be the consequences of a high school student posting this on MySpace?
Kids like Eric Harris and Dylen Klebold members of the Young Republicans club at Columbine. They knew how to deal with the overpaid teacher union thugs. One shot at a time! Too bad the liberls rip them; they were heros and should be remembered that way.
Search warrant for the kid's home ... Lock down the school ... Search all the lockers ... Bus in the counselors ... Immediately arrest the kid ... Six figure bail ... I am probably understating it.

I also doubt the teacher's union would be trying to keep this kid in his school.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

You can call me Popeye

Mrs. Headless will vouch that the chase through Paris was just like this. Heck, she'll tell you any trip to the grocery is like that with me behind the wheel.

Correction: Mrs. Headless contends that Mr. Hackman is a better driver than me.

How COEXIST nearly got my butt kicked

In retrospect, it was not a good idea to have left his pistol at home. Called to the scene of a traffic accident in the Paris suburbs last Sunday, Jean-François Illy, a regional police chief, came face to face with a mob of immigrant youths armed with baseball bats, iron bars and shotguns.

What happened next has sickened the nation. As Illy tried to reassure the gang that there would be an investigation into the deaths of two teenagers whose motorbike had just collided with a police car, he heard a voice shouting: “Somebody must pay for this. Some pigs must die tonight!”

The 43-year-old commissaire realised it was time to leave, but that was not possible: they set his car ablaze. He stood as the mob closed in on him, parrying the first few baseball bat blows with his arms. An iron bar in the face knocked him down.

“I tried to roll myself into a ball on the ground,” said Illy from his hospital bed. He was breathing with difficulty because several of his ribs had been broken and one had punctured his lung.

His bruised and bloodied face signalled a worrying new level of barbarity in the mainly Muslim banlieues, where organised gangs of rioters used guns against police in a two-day rampage of looting and burning last week.

Villiers-le-Bel is home to rioting youths and closer to the Charles De Gaulle airport than anyone flying to Paris would ever want to believe.

In 1998, this cowboy made the mistake of stopping somewhere in or near
Villiers-le-Bel to refuel my rental car. Things were uneventful until I tried to pay after fueling. The man behind the counter processed my Mastercard, then looked at the receipt and told me that my card was no good. Mohammad told me in darn good English that I should go up the street and get cash from the ATM to pay for my gas.

As I left the building it dawned on me that the wording on the receipt, although in French, said that the transaction was successful. I also didn't immediately see the ATM and felt uncomfortable going in the direction he sent me. So I decided I was not going to get cash to pay him.

As I returned to the gas station, I told Mrs. Headless to get in the Renault and put on her seatbelt. I went inside and pointed to the receipt, and told Mohammad that it clearly said that my card was accepted. Yet Mohammad denied it and pointed me again to the ATM.

I'd be damned if I was going to pay that terrorist twice for that fuel, so I jumped in the car and gunned it into traffic. I could see that fat son of a bitch in my mirror, he ran out to his car and started to chase me in traffic. I got caught at a couple lights, but so did he. I finally steered onto an expressway and peeled out. It felt like that scene in The French Connection. I soon lost him in traffic and got lost myself. It took a while but I eventually made my way to CDG.

At the time, I believed he was trying to double-charge me for the gas or that he refused to take my card because I am American. Today I know he wouldn't take it because I am a Christian infidel. COEXIST my ass, Mohammad was sending me to be robbed or beaten. Based on current events, I know that my decision to race away was the correct one.

Epilogue - My French must not be too good. The fuel charge never appeared on my credit card statement.

H/T -

Steyn again, I wish I'd written this

From The Corner:

With the number of homophobic attacks rising in the Dutch metropolis, Amsterdam officials are commissioning a study to determine why Moroccan men are targeting the city's gays.

Gee, whiz. That's a toughie.
As I say somewhere in my book: If you think Iraq's Kurds and Arabs, Sunni and Shia are incompatible, what do you call a jurisdiction split between post-Christian secular gay potheads and anti-whoring anti-sodomite anti-everything-you-dig Islamists? If Kurdistan’s an awkward fit in Iraq, how well will Pornostan fit in the Islamic Republic of Holland?
There's nothing for me to add.

Why stop there?

I love this idea. Nothing says "Milwaukee" like The Fonz.

Correction, nothing says "Milwaukee" like The Fonz, except for Laverne and Shirley.

Fonzie is a great start, but Milwaukee needs a variety of TV icons placed in bronze on it's streets and other prominent locations (in front of snobbish art galleries in the 3rd Ward, yes!). What a fun diversion for the six tourists that come to the city each year. And as a positive unintended consequence, we may help rid the city of dour,
self important, no sense of humor residents, like these.

There were many great characters on Happy Days, I think the following also deserve their own statues.
  • Richie Cunningham
  • Howie & Marion Cunningham
  • Potsie
  • Ralph Malph
  • Al and Arnold
  • Lenny & Squiggy
  • The Shark
Anyone else from Happy Days and L&S deserve a statue?

Today Happy Days, tomorrow That 70's Show.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Winter driving lessons

Lesson No. 1. All Season Radial Tire is a misnomer. It should be All Season (except when it snows) Radial Tire.

Lesson No. 2. When it snows, leave the Boxster in your garage. It was a sad sight today at the corner of Gorham & Pinckney Streets.

Lesson No. 3. It is time for SUV and Subaru owners to admit that they did not buy their vehicle for its ability to drive on snow covered roads. The one thing I could consistently predict on today's drive from Madison to Pewaukee, the vehicle holding up traffic in the left lane was going to be an SUV or an AWD Subaru. Otherwise, these vehicles were cowering in the right lane
driving 5-10 mph less than prevailing traffic.

I think the caution of these drivers relates to
these vehicles' high center of gravity and lousy tires (All Season Radials, of course). Front wheel drive sedans and 4WD pick-ups (with off-road tires) ruled I-94 today.

Admit it now, that SUV or Subaru was all about image. You bought the hype, but were wrong. Now buy a front wheel drive sedan or wagon, and get rid of those ridiculous fuel-wasting vehicles. You will feel safer driving on snow covered roads and have more money for other things after fueling.

Lesson No. 4. Riding a bicycle in the snow - ARE YOU NUTS? I know you're in Madison, and your bike emits no greenhouse gases, and your neighbors think this makes you especially environmentally conscious; but bloody hell - I nearly killed you with my car today. Take the city bus the next time it snows or threatens to snow.

Lesson No. 5
. A set of Michelin X-Ice tires is money well spent. These snow tires turned my front wheel drive sedan from white-knuckles in snow; to sure handling and able to start & stop on any hill I encountered. I was fearless on the freeway today, but I kept it in control and did not risk a ride into the median ditch.

Hillary's 9/11

“It looked and sounded presidential,” said Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics. “This was an instance of the White House experience of this campaign. They knew how to handle this.”
I don't think so, Tim.

To me it looks and sounds like micromanagement of local affairs by a wannabe Federal official. It shows that if she is elected, there will be no matter so small or trivial that The Rodham Administration will not try to run it.

The Captain provides
insightful analysis of the Hillary's hostage spin.

Er, what? Sabato, who usually gives intelligent political analysis, must have inhaled a little deeply. Clinton was nowhere near New Hampshire during the entirety of the crisis. What was presidential about having the Rochester PD talk a hostage-taker out of a building? What "leadership" did Hillary show in Virginia during this crisis? She canceled a speech!

The AP's Glen Johnson is even worse. He breathlessly describes Hillary's efforts as "continu[ing] to call up and down the law enforcement food chain, from local to county to state to federal officials." The hostages were released within a couple of hours, and presumably their families had closer contacts with the PD, as they live closer to the offices than Virginia. "I knew I was bugging these people," Clinton told the AP, but she wanted to know minute-by-minute what was happening, so she could tell her staff and be prepared for whatever assistance she could lend. Which would be exactly .... what? If the PD wanted to have her call the ersatz bomber, they would know where to find her.

Hillary certainly didn't do anything wrong, but she didn't "take charge" as the AP implies, or look presidential, as Sabato declares. She certainly looks considerably less presidential today in trying to take credit for the professional work done by the Rochester PD yesterday. That looks a lot more like a politician than a President, and we already know her credentials for the former. This incident doesn't provide Hillary any credentials for the latter.

And where's the criticism of her chicken-shit canceling of a speech and closing of her campaign offices over what was quickly identified as an isolated event by a lone nutjob? Isn't that what President Bush was criticized for following that awful morning in 2001?

"Ooooh, I'm sooooo scared" Hillary should have said. I'm surprised she didn't scramble Air Force 3 and circle Nebraska for the duration of the event. God help us if she's in charge when Osama detonates that suitcase nuke. My esteem for Ray Nagin's crisis management skills would certainly rise in comparison.