Oct 302009

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Today is coffee day! Today the mail brought a freshly roasted supply from Great Northern Roasting Company in Traverse City. Usually I like single origin coffees, which I sometimes mix together on my own. But this time I tried Jack’s Breakfast Blend again. I tried it back in January, but it was not my favorite that time around. It’s a lighter roast than I usually prefer. But this time I noticed some good, brownish flavors that I had never before tasted. Excellent! I’ll try it again tomorrow morning.

That’s one of the good things about coffee. It’s an adventure. It’ll be a sad day when quality control reaches the point where it’s exactly the same each time. The beans may vary, the roast may vary, the brewing may vary, and the setting in which one drinks it may vary. All those factors contribute to making it a different experience each time. (This time we were watching a production of Doestoevsky’s Idiot on YouTube. I was almost concentrating too hard on the movie to notice what I was drinking, but the coffee was good enough to interrupt my concentration.)

By the way, I am not going to say whether or not Jack paid me to say nice things about his coffee. I dare the FTC to try to get that information out of me. The FTC move is just an opening to regulate speech — a plan to follow in the distant footsteps of Vladimir Putin and Hugo Chavez.

I once was offered a free product after having said something good about it in a blog. I ignored the offer on account of not wanting to compromise my independence. But if it happens again, I may just accept and not say anything about it, as a form of resistance to the FTC.

Besides, regulated reviews would make life too boring, whether or not I’m the one being regulated. We like to read the motel reviews when we travel on my Spokesrider outings. We’re always looking for cheap places to stay, which means we’re undertaking a little risk right from the start. It’s challenging to read through the reviews and sniff out the fluff pieces from paid shills, as well as those that whine about things that don’t matter, and separating them from the useful reviews. It’s a good survival technique to be able to read between the lines to know who to believe. I’d hate to have that taken from me.

Oct 292009

The FCC seems to be interested in implementing some sort of “net neutrality” regulation. If people think that means ISPs wouldn’t be able to block certain types of traffic, they should also be aware that the Homeland Security Department is asserting that is has the power to order ISPs to shut down popular sites during emergencies.

Well, everyone agrees that the government needs the power to do almost anything to ensure our existence as a country in the face of a grave threat, don’t we?

In other news, President Obama has declared swine flu a national emergency.

Oh, wait. That’s the same news. Because the example that the Homeland Security Department is giving is the case of a national epidemic where people have to stay home and telecommute:

But the Homeland Security Department accused the GAO of having unrealistic expectations of how the Internet could be managed if millions began to telework from home at the same time as bored or sick schoolchildren were playing online, sucking up valuable bandwidth.

Experts have for years pointed to the potential problem of Internet access during a severe pandemic, which would be a unique kind of emergency. It would be global, affecting many areas at once, and would last for weeks or months, unlike a disaster such as a hurricane or earthquake.

H1N1 swine flu has been declared a pandemic but is considered a moderate one. Health experts say a worse one — or a worsening of this one — could result in 40 percent absentee rates at work and school at any given time and closed offices, transportation links and other gathering places.

Many companies and government offices hope to keep operations going as much as possible with teleworking using the Internet. Among the many problems posed by this idea, however, is the issue of bandwidth — especially the “last mile” between a user’s home and central cable systems.

“Such network congestion could prevent staff from broker-dealers and other securities market participants from teleworking during a pandemic,” reads the GAO report, available here

“The Department of Homeland Security is responsible for ensuring that critical telecommunications infrastructure is protected.”


Private Internet providers might need government authorization to block popular websites, it said, or to reduce residential transmission speeds to make way for commerce.

URL here.

Hmm. Popular websites? I wonder if Fox News is popular.

Oct 282009

President Obama says he will not rush the decision to send more soldiers into harm’s way. I believe him. This time he has made a promise he will keep.

We can believe this promise, even though everything else he wants (e.g. stimulus funding, health care takeover) is an urgent necessity that requires immediate action to avert catastrophe. Now is not the time to debate whether we are sending health care into harm’s way. Now is not the time for delay on that front. But now is the time to consider, very carefully and slowly, what we should do with Afghanistan.

And we can believe this promise even though his delays are putting those soldiers who are already in harm’s way in the way of even greater harm.

I can appreciate his quandry. There is no good solution. Not that that is going to stop him from invading and conquering our health care system.

Oct 242009

The Leviathan Ankle-Biter award to billionaire Mo Ibrahim reminded me that the last recipient was a hillbilly Amishman that Ira Wagler had met. Which reminded me that I haven’t checked his blog lately.

I now see there’s a new article in which he tells about being interviewed by CNN:

They smiled and smiled while filming me, but villainy lurked in their hearts.

Oct 242009

This is the first time a Leviathan Ankle-Biter award goes to a billionaire, but Mo Ibrahim gets one.

The foundation that runs the Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership said this week its prize would go to . . . no one.

Though not widely known, the prize, created by Sudanese-born billionaire Mo Ibrahim in 2007, is one of the more thoughtful efforts at bestowing honor on a public figure. For starters, the prize can go only to a democratically elected head of state in Africa. But here’s the kicker: The winner has to have left office in the previous three years.

Mr. Ibrahim clearly is all too aware of Africa’s history of being governed by strongmen who either don’t bother holding an election, or if they do, ensure that they win—forever.

So he’s designed his prize with the world’s biggest carrot: The winner gets $5 million spread over 10 years, plus $200,000 for life annually. We’d call this one of the more creative exercises in term limits.

URL here.

I’d be in favor of instituting an award like that for the U.S. Congress. Give away a couple dozen of them each year. If it would get rid of those who have been corrupted by the power of seniority, never mind any achievements in leadership, it would be cheap at twice the price.

Unfortunately, even though members of Congress can be greedy, the worst of them are motivated more by a lust for power than by filthy lucre. It might be that by getting rid of the greedhogs we’d only create more slots for the powerhogs.

Oct 182009

The following is what I wrote in response to the Battle Creek Enquirer article, “State to hear B.C.’s voice : Forum gives area residents a say in Michigan’s future.” I was especially responding to the part that said, “Michael McCullough, general manager and executive editor of the Enquirer, said the goal is to rise above partisanship for the good of the state.”

Rise above partisanship for the good of the state? Yeck. Sounds way too totalitarian to me.

And now I see that John Schwarz is involved.

What we need is more partisan bickering, not any “rising above bipartisanship”. Partisan bickering is what made our country great. (Think back to the terrible things that the Adams and Jefferson factions said about each other. They were both right in their nasty, vicious criticisms of the other side, and their comments still apply. But we got a workable system out of it, to some extent because they wouldn’t let each other get things done.

Oct 172009

This is what I posted as a comment to the WSJ editorial: “Cash for Oldsters : A $250 bribe to help the ObamaCare medicine go down.”

If there ever was any doubt that the Obama administration is capable of instituting death panels for senior citizens, or the moral equivalent thereof, it has been removed by this $250 ploy.

It shows his utter contempt for old people that he would think he could throw them a $250 bone and get them to wag their tails and lick his hand for it. It shows he thinks they’re too stupid to see past their next meal. Somebody who is that cynical, who has that little respect for people, is not a person to trust anywhere near the people who prescribe medications and tend hospital beds.

He may get his way, though. Here’s my recommendation. Let’s make public heroes out of all the oldsters who take their $250 payment, or any significant portion of it, and donate it to organizations that will work to unelect the people who enacted it.

Another comment in response to somebody’s discussion of AARP:

I’m 61 but have never joined AARP. It’s because of it being a left-wing activist organization. I have long been prepared to make a big fuss if I stay at a hotel and can’t get the senior/AARP discount, on account of it being wrong to give discounts based on support for a partisan political organization. However, I’ve never been refused the discount.

Oct 172009

I posted the following reply to a comment on a comment in the comment section for Rush Limbaugh’s article in Friday’s WSJ.

I had to laugh at that one, too.

Note that he’s also the guy who complained about Rush’s coarsening of civil discourse, and then in another comment wrote, ” There is an interesting difference to conservatives – by their nature are more authoritarian, regimented, conformist – and therefore less likely to question, debate, listen to others.” Yup, he’s against the coarsening of civil discourse, all right.

It’s far from the first time I’ve observed the phenomenon.