Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Obama is right?

Obama's gas plan is explained here.

Enough with those biofuel fantasies, Barry. Stop it, you're killing me.

But as bizarre as it sounds, there may be something to what Obama says.

Looking at various estimates, I think 3% is a conservative estimate of the fuel that can be saved by properly inflating tires. Let's say that one-third of vehicles are under inflated. This will equate to an annual savings of 1% of motor fuels.

I previously blogged that 2.3% of the nation's gasoline could be saved by enforcing existing speed limits. Throw in Obama's 1% from airing tires and we are up to 3.3% savings. That is 5 billion gallons of imported gasoline that would not be used.

Obama is wrong if he thinks this is the end of the story. But 5 billions gallons of gas saved annually will be a jump start towards lowering prices at the pump. Start drilling and we'll see real progress.

Obama's Landstuhl no-show: The Real Story

No one has come close to explaining why Obama blew off visiting the injured American servicemen at Landstuhl Medical Center. Ten versions of the story after first claiming that the Pentagon threw up last minute roadblocks, Obama's campaign now claims that Obama could not attend without retired Gen. Gratton holding his hand.

Everyone is buying this explanation, even McCain's campaign and conservative bloggers.


The reason that Obama did not pay honor to these heroes at Landstuhl is because he decided he did not want to go there. As far back as you look, this has been the way Obama operates. He doesn't follow through, then conveniently finds someone else to blame.

Throughout his campaign, he has had his staffers and advisers take the blame for his mistakes. Why should his refusal to visit Landstuhl be any different? He was caught on the record looking for members of the Obama Ministry of Propaganda (aka, the MSM) to go clubbing around Berlin with him. Throw Gen. Gratton under the bus and be done with it.

This is nothing new. Even when Obama was teaching law at the University of Chicago in 1997, that's the way it worked.
First, let me apologize for the extreme tardiness in getting this memo to you. Due to a miscue between me and my secretary in Springfield, I thought it had been faxed to the registrar and distributed over two months ago.
Obama was two months late in grading final exams, so he conveniently blamed his secretary. Was Obama too sexist (or just too dumb) to run the fax machine himself? "Fax this to UofC for me, sweetie."

The Landstuhl incident points again to Obama's lack of interest in his duties and commitments. This time those of a U.S. Senator and of a make-believe President. Less than two weeks ago Obama found a way to bail on his family just days before his world tour by going to the gym three times. Today's NYTimes story contains the same theme - little interest in exploring the law with his colleagues in Chicago, but plenty of time to go out for a smoke.

Based on this history, I firmly believe that the decision to dishonor our troops was Obama's and his alone. He changed his mind, because he lost interest and found better things to do with his time.

This McCain ad may not be far from the mark.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Who is that young guy with McCain?

I never thought I'd see the Dalia Lama look younger than anyone.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Wisconsin Climate Report: I am missing their point

I was about halfway through my Dad29-ing of the Governor's Task Force on Global Warming Final Report when I lost the file. So I'll have to give my Readers Digest version.

Governor's Task Force on Global Warming tells you the problem in six words. This should be the Governor's Task Force on Wisconsin Warming.

The climate interests of every location on the Globe are not the same. Wisconsin's climate interests are different from the interests of California, France and China. The Governor's Task Force should have been commissioned to address what can be done to improve Wisconsin's climate.

The answer, of course, is to do anything in our power to warm things up. It is flipping cold here and it is getting colder. They should not be spending time and money searching for ways to make things worse. That is really stupid, even for Governor Jim Doyle.

The health, agricultural and economic benefits of a warmer Wisconsin are indisputable and immense. We cannot wait for another Ice Age before acting.

I call for a do-over. This time can we include Wisconsin's most famous and internationally lauded climatologist on the Governor's Task Force?

Did Braun call that shot?

Did you see Ryan Braun's 9th inning at-bat?

Before both the first and second pitches Braun held out his bat for an extended period pointing to left center field.

I compared this at-bat (it was on my DVR) to some YouTube clips of him hitting, and this is not his normal set-up before he swings. Now I suppose he could have been reacting to the pitcher's slow delivery from the stretch. But I like to think that he called his shot, I was thinking that even before he homered.

A Ruthian feat.

UPDATE: Braun did call that homer. In his first at-bat of Friday's game he didn't come close to pointing his bat at anything. Did anyone record Thursday's game?

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Liberal Fascism, Part 2.5

What the hell is wrong with Obama?

It is bad enough that he flies straight from Israel to Berlin for a mass political rally in front of a German war memorial. Sieg Heil.

But this Nazi-style poster is a new low.

Note: I had to fit this one in. Today's discovery of Obama's poster disrupted my Liberal Fascism series.

Liberal Fascism, Part 2

In Barack Obama’s July 2, 2008 speech calling America to national service, Obama proposed “a civilian national security force that's just as powerful, just as strong, just as well-funded” as our military.
Will that be along the line of the Civilian Conservation Corps or will it be the Obamajugend?

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Liberal Fascism, Part 1

Wow. There hasn't been this kind of adulation for a political leader in something like 75 years.

No not him. I was thinking more of FDR or Il Duce.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Having a questioning attitude means never having to say "You are correct"

The Climate Skeptic, Warren Meyer, had a post spanking NASA for not incorporating satellite data into its global temperature record. I agree with his the recommendations for a better data set.

But having a questioning attitude means I can alarm the alarmists, deny the deniers, and be skeptical of the skeptics.

Meyer's post includes this graph of historic atmospheric CO2 concentration.

He also posts his attempt at a composite global temperature history that NASA could adopt.

How are they related? Let's find out.

Laying the CO2 record over the temperature record then adjusting scales, I find that CO2 correlates rather handily with global temperatures.

Here is the end of the composite graph, blown-up for clarity.

Holy Nobel Prize, Batman. Al Gore may be correct. But at a 1.3 degree Celsius increase per century, not his calculated 2 degree increase.

The story is not over, we'll have to wait to see if the decade long cooling trend continues.

Great moves

Mission Accomplished. Bring the troops home on my timetable.

- Barack W. Obama
I've got to hand it to Obama and his campaign. They turned his Iraq surrender strategy completely around. In fact, for those not paying attention (90% of voters) he makes it appear that it is his strategy that is being implemented and is unchanging. Pulling out our troops was his plan all along, it just is awaiting his inauguration.

McCain's counter-punch was pretty good, too. His letter that was banned by the NYTimes paints Obama as being the same as George W. Bush.
Senator Obama has said that he would consult our commanders on the ground and Iraqi leaders, but he did no such thing before releasing his “plan for Iraq.” Perhaps that’s because he doesn’t want to hear what they have to say. During the course of eight visits to Iraq, I have heard many times from our troops what Major General Jeffrey Hammond, commander of coalition forces in Baghdad, recently said: that leaving based on a timetable would be “very dangerous.”

The danger is that extremists supported by Al Qaeda and Iran could stage a comeback, as they have in the past when we’ve had too few troops in Iraq. Senator Obama seems to have learned nothing from recent history. I find it ironic that he is emulating the worst mistake of the Bush administration by waving the “Mission Accomplished” banner prematurely.
This will get ugly sometime before November.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Unanswered questions

After months on the campaign trail and just days before his week long international trip, Barack Obama spent an exceptional amount of time away from his lovely wife and daughters this week.

I do not understand.

Why would Obama want to leave this, to go here three times on the same day?

Saturday, July 19, 2008

New tasteless BBQ logo

I'll be competing this year with my friend Paul under a new team name and logo.

We'll compete at the Princeton Rotary Burning Down the Fox Championship on August 22 & 23 and at the Big Pig Gig on September 19 & 20 in Menomonee Falls. Come visit and sample our barbecue.

That is one tasteless logo. My teammate is solely to blame.

Gym rat? Nope, he's a lightweight.

For an unknown reason, ABC News thinks this is a flattering story about The Obama.

ABC News' Sunlen Miller Reports: While Obama spent 91 minutes at a campaign event yesterday, the Illinois Senator spent a total of 188 minutes in the gym yesterday – making three separate stops to Chicago gyms over the course of one day.

The presumptive nominee started his Tuesday with a short morning work out at the gym of his friend and longtime aide Mike Signator’s apartment building.

After flying to Indiana for a campaign event, and doing a round of local TV interviews, the Senator returned to his home in Illinois where he spent the afternoon hitting two more local area gyms for the duration of the day. Obama first visited Signator’s gym again, returning home briefly and then going to East Bank Club, a downtown gym which Obama regularly plays basketball.

Senator Obama has been known for his strict work out regimen – rarely missing a day in the gym even with a busy campaign schedule. But for reporters following Senator Obama as he strolled in and out of gyms six times over the course of one day - his multiple visits raised a few eyebrows – with even a campaign aide cracking a smile as the third gym stop of the day was announced.

If only he had that kind of dedication to preparing and voting on legislation in the Illinois and U.S. Senate. Each of those positions is a very demanding job, far more demanding than the nonsense that I do. But even during my ongoing fitness kick I couldn't imagine finding 191 minutes in a day to go to the gym or go cycling. And that is while I am away from my family and those associated demands.

Mr. Obama is demonstrating that he not serious about upholding the duties of his prior and current offices.
I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God.
Not when you spend hours daily devoted to personal activities.

But those 191 minutes at the gym do not include the all related travel time. How much of Obama's total day was dedicated to getting away from his wife and children, I mean working out? By my estimate at least 4 hours, perhaps 5 or more. More selfish behavior by a selfish man.

Obama is reminiscent of some "gym rats" I personally know. They can always find time for play, but rarely for completing serious and significant work. This in itself would disqualify them from being President. The same goes for Obama.

Incidentally, this amount of physical activity is very dangerous behavior for a smoker with a heart condition*.

* Until Obama decides to release his full medical record I will operate under this assumption. Barack is hiding something, Marfan Syndrome being the presumptive candidate ("People with Marfan's are typically tall, with long limbs and long thin fingers").

Friday, July 18, 2008

I said I wanted #4 in Black and Silver

These Bears fans are more stoned than those dopey brothers from Pewaukee.

Hard evidence that AGW models are wrong

The above graph is the result of The Blackboard's statistical analysis
of the recent weather record versus Al Gore's global warming
computer models.

Diagnosis: Based on this analysis 2 C/century, the central tendency for the trend projected by the IPCC in the AR4, falsifies.

Some details: The distribution shown above was generated by running a simulation of a process in which the “monthly averaged weather noise” is AR(1), with a lag 1 autocorrelation of ρmonth = 0.5044 and variability σ=0.1039 C. The trend was assumed to be 2C/century– which matches the central tendency projected by the IPCC in the AR4.

If that process describes the climate, and weather noise, the observed trend of -0.4 C/century is a result that would happen in fewer than 1 out of 40 events. So, the assumption that the underlying trend is 2C/century falsifies to a confidence level of 95%.

Bottom Line:  The probability of our weather since 2001 being
consistent with global warming projections is much, much less
than 2.5%.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Al Gore's Vision - The Reality

Great stuff from Americans for Prosperity.

We're back from Al Gore's big global warming speech, and boy did we have a great time! We had a dedicated band of taxpayer advocates out in force, pointing out the high economic cost of global warming alarmism - starting with $8 a gallon gasoline.

Of course, we saw plenty of hypocrisy -- especially the fact that Gore didn't ride his bike or take public transporation to the event. He didn't even take his Prius! Instead, he brought a fleet of two Lincoln Town Cars and a Chevy Suburban SUV! Even worse, the driver of the Town Car that eventually whisked away Gore's wife and daughter left the engine idling and the AC cranking for 20 minutes before they finally left!

HT - Planet Gore

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Sunday evening, two hours after wondering "What's for dinner?"

Had I known the lighting was going to turn out this well, I would have dressed up that rice, arranged the shrimp and cleaned off the two stray grains of rice.

Monday, July 14, 2008

A bitter divorce

After 14 years together, the husband says he is leaving. Not for someone else, he just says he's tired and needs his freedom. After much talking, begging and crying, he makes it official and files the papers to break the relationship.

Soon there is a glimmer of hope for reconciliation. She hears from his friends and relatives that he has had a change of heart. A rendezvous is arranged, she even makes airplane reservations. But two days before the reunion, he says it is over for good.

She works through the stages of grief. Finally after many months, she gains the self awareness and self confidence to know she can live without him. She has to, he is gone forever. New relationships are beginning.

Then, just as she prepares to enter into a long-term relationship with someone new, he comes back. The divorce isn't final, and he demands to be released on his terms. To do whatever he wants with whomever he wants. He may even move in with one of the sluts in the neighborhood.

She is ready to see him go, but to have to see and deal with him regularly would be too much. So she decides it is time to take control.

She will continue or end their relationship on her terms. He can come back, but only if she can continue with her new relationship and find out if it is really better for her.
He has to earn his way back into her life.

He doesn't like that and wants to move on and leave her nothing. But she holds the cards. He can go to someone new. But she will decide where he goes, and she will take a pound of flesh when he goes.

Someone should put the Favre saga to music. It is destined for the top of the country charts.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Journal-Sentinel: Thompson did tell Favre to kiss his butt

I was just kidding with my "ESPN Report: Thompson tells Favre to kiss his butt" post. But according to today's paper, he did.

Asked if he was concerned that Rodgers would spurn the Packers when his contract expires after this season if he were stripped of his starting job at the start of training camp, Thompson said, "We'll deal with that when it comes up."

Then he said, "Aaron Rodgers is our starting quarterback."

Thompson declined to answer which quarterback gives the Packers the best chance to go to the Super Bowl, but when asked why the ship had sailed on Favre coming back as a starter, he said too much planning had gone into the season to shift gears.


"We have to go with what's real," Thompson said. "We don't know what the options are right now. We'll talk about it internally. It's all guesswork.

"This is a very difficult spot we're in. It's a very volatile situation and we don't have all the answers yet."

While not ruling out the possibility of Favre playing, Thompson also wouldn't say if he would allow an open competition for the starting job or force Favre to be the appointed backup. The obvious solution would be for the Packers to trade Favre, but Thompson wouldn't even address that.

Asked if there was a chance Favre could be on his roster this year, Thompson said, "Sure."

As a starter?

"I don't know how to answer that," he said. "We have moved forward. So we'll see where it goes."

Saturday, July 12, 2008

5 reasons the CC trade is a disaster

I sat on this since Sabathia's debut on Tuesday. I wanted to believe. Sadly, the truth will emerge.

1. Past performance is not indicative of future results. This isn't 2007 for CC Sabathia anymore.

2. Matt LaPorta will be a perennial All-Star and occasional MVP. Just not for the Brewers.

3. No lead is safe with this bullpen. Unless he pitches complete games, Sabathia's success is dependent on names like Gagne and Mota.

4. Fielder is going, going, gone. And his replacement is playing in Cleveland.

5. These are the Brewers. Small market teams need to play the small market game. Stick with the plan and don't react to perceived circumstances. It is suicide to spend money and trade prospects like you are the Cubs, Yankees or BoSox.

No World Series in 2008 and the Sabathia trade is a disaster. Come back in October and tell me I am a fool.

Friday, July 11, 2008

The Who

Music on my MP3 player.

ESPN Report: Thompson tells Favre to kiss his butt

From ESPN:

“Favre on Friday formally asked by letter for his unconditional contractual release, sources close to Favre and the team said.

The letter was sent by Favre’s agent, James “Bus” Cook, via overnight mail on Thursday and arrived at the Packers facility Friday morning.

During the conference call on Tuesday, neither Thompson nor McCarthy was openly receptive or enthused about Favre’s desire to unretire, the sources said, prompting Favre to direct Cook to request his release from the team. Favre has three years remaining on his contract at a total of $39 million. He currently is on the reserve-retired list.

Favre prefers a mutual parting rather than have to force the Packers’ hand by writing a letter to request his reinstatement to the active 80-man roster. Under league policy, the team would have to comply or release him.”

In response, Packers GM Ted Thompson said.
Tell Brett to kiss my big, hairy ass. If he wants to play in the next 2 years, he can come begging back to me. I'll put him on the 4-deep and he can try to earn a spot on the bench.

If he doesn't like that, I've got no doubt that I can find a bottom feeder in the AFC that will deal a pair of draft picks for him. It is my choice where he ends up.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

"You can't GROW your way out of this problem."

"This call for drilling in areas that are protected is a hoax, it’s an absolute hoax on the part of the Republicans and this administration” Pelosi said at her weekly press conference. “It’s a decoy to punt your attention away from the fact that their policies have produced $4-a-gallon gasoline.”
Thank you Speaker Pelosi. Please explain the Obama-Reid-Pelosi plan to increase energy supplies and reduce the price of that $4 gasoline.

Right-oh, windmills and biofuels. That'll get 'er done Nan.

The EPA Ethanol Plan is Failing

After last night's Schadenfreude wore off, it occurred to me that the only major government energy promotion program created in decades is failing (Has there been anything else since the Atomic Energy Commission was created under Eisenhower?). Nevermind the resource limitations of corn, new ethanol plants are not being built to meet EPA's Renewable Fuel Standard mandate goals because they cannot be profitable. In fact, existing plants are closing.

On February 14, the EPA amended the 2008 ethanol standard.
In this notice we are publishing an RFS 7.76% for 2008. This standard is intended to lead to the use of 9 billion gallons of renewable fuel in 2008, as required by amended section 211(o). This standard supersedes the 2008 RFS that EPA published on November 27, 2007, before enactment of the EISA.
But the latest agricultural report warns.
Conclusion. The bottom line is that in 2008, U.S. ethanol production will probably not reach the 9 billion gallons called for the RFS mandate; ethanol production capacity will not increase much if at all this year; and corn usage for ethanol production will be closer to 3 billion bushels than the forecasted 4 billion bushels.

The 2008 RFS mandate will not be met.
Why isn't this news?

Even with government subsidies, heavy promotion of biofuels and a huge disruption of the feeder corn market; this year's mandate will not be achieved. No amount of flex-fueled vehicles can help when producers cannot sell ethanol for a profit.

The mandated goal was established only 5 months ago. What are the chances of the U.S. meeting EPA goals in one, five or fifteen years?

Here is a hint. I wrote earlier this year that there was not enough acreage in the U.S. to meet long-term corn-based ethanol goals. I was too conservative. It is happening now, way sooner than anyone expected.

The 8.5 billion gallon ethanol yield achieved in 2007 may be the U.S. limit when using corn. Producing the 2022 goal of 36 billion gallons of ethanol cannot be achieved using corn. Forget Peak Oil, we have achieved Peak Ethanol.

Biofuels will not save us. What solutions are the Congressional Democrats willing to approve? Nancy Pelosi has a plan.
"Democrats have a commonsense plan to help bring down skyrocketing gas prices by cracking down on price gouging, rolling back the billions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies, tax breaks and royalty relief given to big oil and gas companies, and increasing production of alternative fuels."

- Nancy Pelosi, April 24, 2006. Gasoline priced at $2.91/gallon.
Good job Nancy. Your policies have made $3 gasoline seem like stealing the stuff.

H/T - Don Surber & Michelle Malkin

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Can corn be too expensive for ethanol?

It is true that ethanol production adds to the demand for corn, although livestock feed is still the largest demand factor; at least it was through 2007. The USDA is projecting that ethanol production will surpass livestock feed as the primary corn demand factor in 2008. However, the high and rising price of corn may prevent that from happening.

U.S. ethanol production capacity was expected to increase from about 8.4 billion gallons at the end of 2007 to about 11.4 billion gallons in 2008. That would have increased corn demand by one billion bushels; from 3 billion bushels in 2007 to 4 billion in 2008. Both the capacity expansion and the increase in corn usage are in jeopardy.
I had another odd thought earlier today.

Considering the relative price of corn versus oil and also that the subsidy on ethanol does not increase with increasing corn prices, it may be possible for corn to become too expensive to sell ethanol for a profit. I did some algebra and estimated that with gas selling for $4.00 per gallon, the breakeven point for ethanol is a corn price somewhere between $6 and $7 per bushel.

I was way off. According to this agricultural report published yesterday, breakeven is close to $8 per bushel. The graph below shows that since early 2007 ethanol went from windfall profits of as much as $0.50 per gallon to selling at a loss.

The bottom line is that in 2008, U.S. ethanol production will probably not reach the 9 billion gallons called for the RFS mandate; ethanol production capacity will not increase much if at all this year; and corn usage for ethanol production will be closer to 3 billion bushels than the forecasted 4 billion bushels. In the case of ethanol production, even with government intervention, the market is working to ration the available supply of corn as feedgrains are being bid away from ethanol production in favor of other uses.
I am digging it, the market works. And it exacts it's revenge.
Since mid-2007, U.S. corn prices have increased as domestic feedgrain supply prospects have caught up with demand. As a result, ethanol production gross profit margins were reduced in the later part of 2007 to the degree that almost no new ethanol plants were announced or planned in the U.S.. In fact, ethanol plants on the drawing boards were canceled before construction could begin, and work was halted on a few plants that were already under construction.

Now, operating ethanol plants are feeling the pain of declining profitability if not outright losses. The astronomical price of crude oil has caused gasoline and ethanol price to rise, but corn price has risen even more on a percentage basis. Some smaller plants, plus a few larger plants that were having trouble with financing arrangements, have already shut down. A recent article reported that 16 ethanol plants either were in bankruptcy or were preparing to file for bankruptcy. The same article predicted many small and medium sized plants would soon be moth-balled until profit margins improved. Anecdotal reports from ethanol producers indicate that even large scale, efficiently run plants are reducing corn grind; in other words they are producing at less that full capacity.
The issue for states where mandated ethanol is sold, is that ethanol prices will be forced to rise to make it profitable. Consider it another tax imposed by a government that sells public policy to the highest bidder, in this case to corn producers.

The bright side of the above is that eventually the value of corn as feed and food is greater than it's value as fuel. Even with today's record high gas prices and subsidies, ethanol costs too much to sell. This can act as a cap on corn prices. The market has chosen it's two.

Read the entire report here.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

You know, Obama is embarrassed to be an American

Did he really say this? You know, I thought he'd have learned from Michelle's gaffes.
"You know, it's embarrassing when Europeans come over here, they all speak English, ..."
F-word you Pierre.
"... they speak French, they speak German. And then we go over to Europe, and all we can say [is], "Merci beaucoup." Right?"
Wrong pinko. Never a moment of embarrassment for this uni-lingual American. I say "Thank you, very much." Not that girlie language gibberish.

You know, Barack should go run for President of France, a country he isn't embarrassed about. You know, they really like Socialists over there.

HT - JustOneMinute

Sunday, July 06, 2008

"... or when I was a United States senator"

"I'm surprised at how finely calibrated every single word was measured. I wasn't saying anything I hadn't said before, that I didn't say a year ago or when I was a United States senator," said Obama, who is still a senator from Illinois.
The past-tense is appropriate, and for McCain, too. Neither has done any senatorizing for over a year. That is not right. Both should step down from the U.S. Senate if they want to be president, or not run at all.

If it takes a constitutional amendment, start circulating the papers. A limit on time away from the job is needed. If they exceed it for any reason, fire them.

Bad things happen in threes?

July 4 - We spent the evening at the neighbors, chatting around the fire pit, drinking adult beverages and watching them set off cheap fireworks. We even had some laughs at Al Gore's expense, needlessly burning trash and cheap lumber along with launching the smoking flashbombs.

After many successful launches, one of the devices fell on it's side while firing and shot a flare into the spectators. The burning missile passed to the left of most and to the right of me, striking the house behind me and landing on the brick patio 6 feet from me. Fortunately the firework just flashed and didn't send off burning shrapnel. A near miss, we should have learned from it.

We got lucky with that one, but not smart. We lit a similar device later that fell over too. It misfired in the opposite direction.

There's a reason that fireworks are illegal to use in Wisconsin. But those sales tax collections make it too lucrative for the state to stop the selling.

July 5 - I started the gas grill in preparation for cooking dinner and let it warm up for several minutes. When I went out to scrape the grill I noticed that the grill was not very hot. My first instinct was to push that igniter button again. Bad mistake.

An enormous fireball erupted from the grill. The fireball singed my hair and eyebrows, but that was not the worst part. A piece of corn husk from the previous night was ignited and blown out of the grill. It landed on my hairline and continued to burn. It was several seconds before I noticed and knocked it to the ground. Don't try this at home.

July 6 - I have reason to fear. Watch for news-chopper coverage of today's stupidity.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

KRM - Been there, done that

Before there was a KRM, there was the MRK.

The Milwaukee Electric Railway & Light Company's Interurban railway included the Milwaukee-Racine-Kenosha line or MRK.

KRM - MRK, get it? Wonderful marketing job by these a-century-too-late hucksters looking to garnish your assets.

The earlier system was vastly more broad in its reach than just the MRK/KRM. Looking at the graphic below, it wasn't just Milwaukee to Kenosha. It went West to Watertown, and Southwest to East Troy and Burlington, and later North all the way to Sheboygan.

This interurban line was one of the finest commuter railways in the nation (This and the following quotes are from Path of a Pioneer by John Gurda.).
"The Midwest was the nation's center of interurban railway development and (...) Milwaukee had one of the finest systems in the Midwest."
At a time when roads were primitive; when automobiles were unreliable, unsafe, and uncomfortable; how could this state-of-the-art interurban rail system not succeed?
The various projects started and completed between 1930 and 1932, from the downtown Rapid Transit line to the Lakeshore Belt Line, required an expenditure of millions of dollars. Rapid Transit, wrote Roy Pinkley in 1930, "represents a huge outlay of money, but it is now established and will undoubtedly be of immense importance in ten years from the present time.
That thinking was wrong in 1930, and is wrong in 2008. This extensive and efficient interurban transit system quickly failed.
The TMER&L, a name once synonymous with the best in urban transit, became a corporate ghost, a failing presence that still lingers above the doors of the old red-brick power plants and substations ...

The interurban lines, long the beleaguered members of the transit system, were the first to go. Service between St. Martins and Burlington ended in 1938. In sharp contrast to the delegation of dignitaries that had made the first run in 1909, arriving to band music and speeches, only one paying customer rode the last car to the end of the line.
I interpret "long the beleaguered members" to mean that for decades the interurban had poorer ridership than either the TMER&L streetcars or buses. We all know how popular riding the bus is in Milwaukee County today. Why should we expect the KRM to do better than that? Or this?
The interurban lines operated at a loss, and no paying customer ever boarded a car on the Lakeside Line.
Whose brilliant idea is the KRM, and what data do they have to show that ridership will be better in 2038 than it was in 1938?

Friday, July 04, 2008

Johnny Cash

Music on my MP3 player.


Washington's Mount Vernon and Jefferson's Monticello were must stops on my recent trip to Virginia. This was especially so after viewing the HBO John Adams miniseries where each was portrayed in such greatness.

Both men had a real love for their estates and great interest in their gardens, farming and horticulture. It was said that in his mind Washington was a farmer first, a General second, and a President third.

This is the view of the Potomac from the portico of the Mt. Vernon mansion (click the images to enlarge these panorama).

The vegetable garden and a panoramic view at Monticello.

The opulence of their mansions is impressive by today's standards, but in the 18th Century, the vastness of their homes and lands was perhaps beyond the comprehension of most Americans. Jefferson's plantation was eventually 5,000 acres and the Mount Vernon plantation was expanded by Washington to 8,000 acres.

I tried to imagine the amount of labor needed to maintain these homes and to farm these lands in a time before steam engines, internal combustion, and electricity. Over 125 slaves were needed to run and farm Monticello.

Despite today's rationalizations, the treatment of these slaves by Jefferson was anything but enlightened.
Monticello's enslaved laborers worked from dawn to dusk, six days a week. Every week adults received a peck of cornmeal, a half-pound of meat, some salted herring, and occasionally salt and milk. They received a set of clothing every summer and winter, and a blanket every three years.
The wealth of Washington and Jefferson was produced on the backs of their hundreds of slaves. This wealth, in part, allowed these and other free men to dream of independence from Great Britain. On this day of our celebration of independence, give thought to the thousands of Africans who were brought to America and enslaved, and whose labor contributed so much to our freedom.


Within a week of my visit to Monticello, I learned that the tree on the right of Jefferson's mansion would be removed.

Hollowed and withering, one of Monticello’s most famous trees will be taken down.

The towering tulip poplar – revered both because of its size and the common misconception that Thomas Jefferson planted it – has been in decline for years.

Despite numerous efforts to save the poplar on the south side of Jefferson’s house, workers this evening will begin a two-day removal process.


Its exact age can’t be determined because the trunk is mostly hollow, but estimates put the tree’s age at at least 150 years.

The earliest photos of Monticello, taken around 1870, show a young tree in the spot where the tulip poplar now stands. That could be the existing tree.

If Jefferson had planted the existing tree in 1807, however, it would have appeared more mature in those photos, Mogielnicki said.

President Bush will make an Independence Day address at Monticello today.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Apologies to Harry Reid

If I knew Harry Reid had Alzheimer's disease, I would not have questioned his intelligence.

Shame on the Senate Democratic leaders for exploiting a man with dementia for political gain by putting this nonsense in his mouth.

Absolutely shameful.

H/T - Dad29