Saturday, May 30, 2009

US lab debuts super laser

US lab debuts super laser: "NIF is touted as the world's highest-energy laser system. It is located inside the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory about an hour's drive from San Francisco. Equipment connected to a house-sized sphere can focus 192 laser beams on a small point, generating temperatures and pressures that exist at cores of stars or giant planets. NIF will be able to create conditions and conduct experiments never before possible on Earth, according to the laboratory. A fusion reaction triggered by the super laser hitting hydrogen atoms will produce more energy than was required to prompt 'ignition,' according to NIF director Edward Moses. 'This is the long-sought goal of 'energy gain' that has been the goal of fusion researchers for more than half a century,' Moses said."
Sounds cool, but NIF stands for "National Ignition Facility," and the first two words of that name just kind of worry me a little bit.

Fred Pilot on whether suburbia is doomed

Eldo Telecom: How to acheive a true digital economy: "In a true digital economy, population and information-based work would be more evenly distributed, mitigating the need for people to concentrate in congested, high cost metro areas."
Don't miss Fred Pilot's take on the Richard Florida "suburbia is doomed" futurist piece.

Grandstanding gubernatorial candidate launches meaningless investigation

Lisa Madigan jumps into parking meter fray :: CHICAGO SUN-TIMES :: Politics: "Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan has opened an investigation into the implementation of Chicago's parking meter privatization deal.

'Our goal is to determine if consumers have been defrauded,' said Madigan spokeswoman Robyn Ziegler, who stressed that the office is not investigating the City of Chicago.

Subpoenas were sent May 19 to Morgan Stanley Infrastructure, the winning bidder for the city's parking meter franchise; Chicago Parking Meters LLC, a consortium led by the infrastructure group, and LAZ Parking, which is operating the franchise for CPM."

Lisa Madigan has done nothing as Illinois Attorney General except run for governor. Her main credential is that her father is Mike Madigan, Speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives and Chairman of the Illinois Democratic Party. She claims she could do nothing about the rampant corruption now being prosecuted by the feds. But now the parking meter privatization contract has attracted her prosecutorial attention--now that everybody already knows it was a bad deal.

This will be good for some headlines and photo ops. All she has to do is get the Democratic nomination and she's home free, because the Republican Party in Illinois is in a white-hot meltdown that makes Chernobyl look like the North Pole.

HB 1347 DOA

THUMBS DOWN: Lawmakers side against homeowners association on scofflaws : Editorials : TCPalm: "Among the worthwhile bills that went nowhere at the 2009 Legislature was a measure that would have helped homeowner associations collect dues from recalcitrant lenders."
This was one of Rep. Julio Robaina's bills. Too bad it didn't pass.

The Chronicle | Appellate court fight brews against alpacas

The Chronicle | Appellate court fight brews against alpacas
See below--I told you I wasn't kidding about the alpacas. The lawsuit we won on summary judgment is described in this article.

The Chronicle | More seek to disconnect in Campton Hills

The Chronicle | More seek to disconnect in Campton Hills: "CAMPTON HILLS – Eleven neighbors of Campton Hills Village President Patsy Smith have filed a petition to disconnect from the village, court records show.

The petition, filed late Thursday in Kane County Circuit Court, covers 32 acres and 20 residents of the Homeward Glen subdivision where Smith lives, attorney Timothy Elliott said.

The disconnect area would rely on previously disconnected property that would form the new border for the village, Elliott said."

I represent an owner in Homeward Glen in a lawsuit filed by the HOA that we won on summary judgment, and that is now on appeal. The Homeward Glen saga is a great example of what is wrong with the HOA as an institution. It has everything: HOA election craziness, bizarre covenant interpretation, expensive litigation that should have been avoided, municipal incorporation and disconnection, and even alpacas. That's right. I said alpacas.

HOA bill placed "on hold" in SC

HOA bill gets more time in oven - Business - The Sun News: "The bill, called the S.C. Homeowners' Association Act, would have required associations to make their financial records for the past three years available to members, limited annual increases on assessments and allowed the S.C. Department of Consumer Affairs to mediate disputes, among other things.

The biggest point of debate about the bill was the duties it set for the Department of Consumer

Affairs, said Sen. Shane Massey, a member of the Senate judiciary subcommittee where the bill stalled.

'The legislation so far is just overkill, and you want to fix the problem, but at the same time you don't want to go too far with it,' Massey said. 'When consumer affairs gets involved, many people see that as the heavy hand of government getting involved in private affairs.'"

I see. And who were those "many people," I wonder?

GOP Insiders: Don't fight Sotomayor - Glenn Thrush -

GOP Insiders: Don't fight Sotomayor - Glenn Thrush - "Just 24 percent of Republican aides, consultants and pollsters said it would be 'smart' to fight the nomination, with 64 percent saying it would be wiser to dodge a battle with"
So 64% of the operatives are living the real world, and 24% are occupying the alternate reality ruled by the AM radio spectrum.

I see no reason for any Senator to oppose Sotomayor. She will be approved overwhelmingly by Republican Senators, but not before a small number of loud voices on radio and TV make the GOP look like a bunch of yahoos.

There's nothing like a good burger

In which the president discovers an American intelligence agency at Five Guys - Ben Smith - "On his trip to get a burger with Brian Williams at Five Guys this afternoon, the President appears to have learned of the existence of a Defense Department intelligence arm, the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency, from an agency employee also at the burger restaurant.

'So explain to me exactly what this National Geospatial...' Obama said, after the worker mentioned his employer, according to a video of the event.

'We work with, uh, satellite imagery,' the worker, Walter replied."

No comment.

Worker's cooperative plans for future

With bankruptcy looming, a new GM begins to emerge: "DETROIT (AP) - With an almost certain bankruptcy filing days away, General Motors is beginning its reinvention, planning to retool one factory to make its smallest vehicles ever in the U.S. and rid itself of the biggest."
And the Hummer is being dumped. It seems that the Obama administration has turned the world's largest auto company into its very own government sponsored, union run, workers' cooperative that will be tasked by the federal government with building dinky little green-mobiles to save the planet. Because few people want to buy such vehicles, I suppose the next step might be to impose huge tariffs and carbon taxes on the other manufacturers so that their prices will become prohibitive for most of us.

And if that transpires, I think the next step will be gray Mao jackets for everybody.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Pravda: American capitalism gone with a whimper - Pravda.Ru

American capitalism gone with a whimper - Pravda.Ru: "It must be said, that like the breaking of a great dam, the American descent into Marxism is happening with breath taking speed, against the back drop of a passive, hapless sheeple, excuse me dear reader, I meant people."
Interesting commentary, especially considering the source.

$70 million down, only $24.23 billion to go

Schwarzenegger would close most California state parks | McClatchy: "Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's plan to eliminate funding for the state parks system would close 220 locations, including Sutter's Fort and the State Capitol Museum in Sacramento, according to a list released by the administration.

Only parks that are self-sufficient or receive local government financial support would remain open, 59 in all.

The governor made the proposal this week to save $70 million in 2009-10 and help close a $24.3 billion budget deficit."

Somehow I fail to see how this particular cut makes sense.

Soon the President will have his own car company!

GM makes new bondholder offer ahead of bankruptcy - Yahoo! Finance: "The proposed sale process would see GM's profitable assets sold to a new company funded by the U.S. government in a fast-track bankruptcy process. The U.S. Treasury would own 72.5 percent of the new GM coming out of a bankruptcy sale process while a trust affiliated with the United Auto Workers union would own 17.5 percent, GM said in a filing with securities regulators."
And that's how Obama creates his very own socialist workers' cooperative out of what was once the world's largest automobile company.

Gawker - Did Erich "Mancow" Muller Fake His Waterboarding for Publicity? - mancow

Gawker - Did Erich "Mancow" Muller Fake His Waterboarding for Publicity? - mancow"It is going to have to look "real" but of course would be simulated with Mancow acting like he is drowning. It will be a hoax but have to look real."
That's what Mancow's publicist said in an email that she sent to the person who was locating the guy who was to do the "waterboarding." Now she claims the event was real.

Isn't the public relations profession grand? People always criticize lawyers for saying whatever they can get away with, but at least we have an obligation to be truthful to the court. Not so with publicists, who get paid for making things up.

By the way, Mancow Muller is not a "right-wing" anything. He is a shock jock who has labored in the shadow of Howard Stern for a long time. He is a consummate vulgarian and a shameless publicity hound. Chicago radio station WLS hired him recently and in my view shredded their credibility by doing so.

Chicago alderman indicted: Carothers took money from developer to help get project launched, prosecutors say --

Chicago alderman indicted: Carothers took money from developer to help get project launched, prosecutors say -- "Ald. Isaac Carothers (29th), a longtime ally of Mayor Richard Daley, was indicted Thursday on charges he accepted $40,000 in home improvements in 2004, as well as meals and tickets to a White Sox playoff game for supporting the zoning changes. Also charged was developer Calvin Boender, who transformed a 50-acre former rail yard -- much of it in Carothers' West Side ward -- into a residential and commercial project known as Galewood Yards."
Today's "dog bites man" story brought to you by the crooks of the Chicago city council.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Disgraced Governor's Condo

WBBM 780 - Chicago's #1 source for local news, traffic and weather - For sale: Blago's DC Condo: "CHICAGO (WBBM) -- For $570 thousand dollars, you can buy the vintage Washington, D.C., condominium in which ousted Gov. Rod Blagojevich lived as a congressman."
The agent says she doesn't know of any remaining wiretaps.

HOA Asks Vet to Remove Bumper Stickers

HOA Asks Vet to Remove Bumper Stickers: "DALLAS - Frank Larison is a disabled veteran with more than 14 years of service, including more than a year of combat duty in Vietnam.

The 58-year-old former Marine now finds himself under attack by his Dallas homeowners association for displaying seven decals on his vehicle supporting the Marine Corps.

'To me, it's being patriotic, and it shows that I served,' the veteran told FOX 4.

The board says the decals are advertisements that violate HOA rules, and must be covered or removed.

Otherwise, the homeowners association for The Woodlands II on The Creek --- where Larimore has lived for eight years --- says in a letter it will tow the car at Larimore's expense. The board also threatens to fine him $50 for any future incident."

Thanks to Rick Black for this link. This HOA action seems supremely idiotic.

Where's the HOA when you need it?

English Russia » An Abandoned Horror

Couple: County Trying To Stop Home Bible Studies - San Diego News Story - KGTV San Diego

Couple: County Trying To Stop Home Bible Studies - San Diego News Story - KGTV San Diego: "SAN DIEGO -- A local pastor and his wife claim they were interrogated by a San Diego County official, who then threatened them with escalating fines if they continued to hold Bible studies in their home, 10News reported."
Looks like the HOA-N1 virus is spreading.

About 12 percent of U.S. homeowners late paying or foreclosed | Reuters

About 12 percent of U.S. homeowners late paying or foreclosed | Reuters: "NEW YORK (Reuters) - One of eight U.S. households with a mortgage ended the first quarter late on loan payments or in the foreclosure process in a crisis that will persist for at least another year until unemployment peaks, the Mortgage Bankers Association said on Thursday."
Unemployment is at a 25 year high and rising.

Gated Community FAIL

Pa. police say a man trying to enter gated community was run over by his own vehicle -- "TOBYHANNA, Pa. (AP) — Police said a man trying to enter a gated community in Pennsylvania's Pocono Mountains fell out of his truck while trying to open the gate and was run over by his own vehicle on Monday. The 52-year-old Tobyhanna man wasn't injured but was taken to a hospital for a blood test when police found him to be under the influence of alcohol."
Thanks to Beth Young for this entertaining gated community vignette. Too bad it isn't on video. - New agency for 'prudential regulation' of all banks? - New agency for 'prudential regulation' of all banks?: "Among the changes that the Obama administration is considering are the creation of a single government agency to conduct 'prudential regulation' over all state and federal banking institutions; a consumer protection agency over financial products, but possibly not securities; and an investor protection agency, the sources said."
I am still wondering if there is anything that this administration believes is off limits to government regulation. We have suffered from an excessively hands-off approach in the past, but it seems to me that this administration has far too much faith in the federal government's ability to make decisions about other people's money.

Green homeowner hit with noise abatement order because 40ft wind turbine is driving his neighbours mad | Mail Online

Green homeowner hit with noise abatement order because 40ft wind turbine is driving his neighbours mad | Mail Online: "When Stephen Munday spent £20,000 on a wind turbine to generate electricity for his home, he was proud to be doing his bit for the environment.

He got planning permission and put up the 40ft device two years ago, making sure he stuck to strict noise level limits.

But neighbours still complained that the sound was annoying - and now the local council has ordered him to switch it off."

Not only that, but the birds are picketing his house.

California Cities Face Bankruptcy Curbs -

California Cities Face Bankruptcy Curbs - "As California seeks more funds from its cash-strapped cities and counties to close a $21 billion budget deficit, some state legislators are pushing a plan that could compound municipalities' pain by making it tougher for them to file for bankruptcy.

The bill would require a California municipality seeking Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection to first obtain approval from a state commission. That contrasts with the state's current bankruptcy process, which allows municipalities to speedily declare bankruptcy without any state oversight so that they can quickly restructure their finances. The bill, introduced in January, has passed one committee vote and could reach a final vote by mid-July."

I blogged on this some time ago. The bill is being pushed by the public employee unions. It would make a union-friendly, Democrat-controlled, state commission the gatekeeper to the bankruptcy court for California's cities.

Government without limits?

The Associated Press: Pelosi appeals for China's help on climate change: "'Every aspect of our lives must be subjected to an inventory ... of how we are taking responsibility.'"
Her Majesty, Empress Pelosi, has decreed that a clean environment is a basic human right, and that entitles government to do some sort of lifestyle inventory. I wonder if that will include the private jets of her celebrity friends.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Sounds reasonable. Where do they park their ark?

LA County says OK to couple's goats, llama, emu - Yahoo! News: "LOS ANGELES – A Southern California couple will not be allowed to have 15 goats. They'll have to settle for 10 goats, two horses, a llama and an emu."

New Jersey's public pension bomb - May. 12, 2009

New Jersey's public pension bomb - May. 12, 2009: "For years, states nationwide have shortchanged the retirement programs that cover teachers, police, and other public employees; now the stock market plunge has wiped out billions of dollars from already underfunded plans. California, New York and Illinois are among the states scrambling to plug multibillion-dollar holes in their pension systems. The growing obligations raise the specter of higher taxes, diminished services, or even another round of costly federal bailouts."
This is a slow-motion train wreck.


Herdt: Pathway to a revolution : Columnists : Ventura County Star: "In this environment, one revolutionary idea that is picking up traction is the movement to call a constitutional convention. The convention would be tasked with blowing up the system we’ve got and it would empower an unspecified group of people to rewrite the rules dictating how California elects its leaders, raises and spends money and organizes its governance.

It’s a grand idea with one grand problem: It’ll never work."

Fred Pilot sent this opinion piece. California has been playing chicken with reality for a long time now, and there is no doubt about which car will survive the head-on collision. The political class--legislators, union bosses, and so forth--still assumes there must be some sort of deus ex machina that will allow them to continue milking the taxpayers. The voters retain their appetite for government services and their dislike of paying for them. The federal government shows no willingness to pick up the tab for open borders and a host of unfunded mandates. And now some people are thinking that the answer may be to reboot the system with a constitutional convention. The author of the op-ed lays out a lot of questions, but the most important one is: "Who would be the delegates?"

U.S. Expected to Own 70% of a Revamped G.M. -

U.S. Expected to Own 70% of a Revamped G.M. - "Including the more than $20 billion that has already been spent to prop up G.M., the government will provide G.M. at least $50 billion to get the company through Chapter 11, people with direct knowledge of the situation said Tuesday. By some estimates in Detroit, tens of billions beyond that amount may be required.

The United Automobile Workers, meanwhile, will hold up to 20 percent through its retiree health care fund, and bondholders and other parties will get the remaining share. Shareholders would be virtually wiped out."

It would seem that the era of big privatization is over.

Woman Upset After American Flag Taken Down At Work -

Woman Upset After American Flag Taken Down At Work - "Is it okay to show your patriotism at the office? For one Arlington woman, the answer was 'no' after she hung an American flag in her office just before the Memorial Day weekend. Debbie McLucas is one of four hospital supervisors at Kindred Hospital in Mansfield. Last week, she hung a three-by-five foot American flag in the office she shares with the other supervisors. When McLucas came to work Friday, her boss told her another supervisor had found her flag offensive. 'I was just totally speechless. I was like, 'You're kidding me,'' McLucas said...
McLucas said the supervisor who complained has been in the United States for 14 years and is formerly from Africa. McLucas said the supervisor took down Debbie's flag herself."

Private property = no civil liberties. Or so it seems.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Towns Rethink Self-Reliance as Finances Worsen -

Towns Rethink Self-Reliance as Finances Worsen - "As the recession batters city budgets around the U.S., some municipalities are considering the once-unthinkable option of dissolving themselves through 'disincorporation.'

Benefits of this move vary from state to state. In some cases, dissolution allows residents to escape local taxes. In others, it saves the cost of local salaries and pensions. And residents may get services more cheaply after consolidating with a county."

Who will go out of business first? The municipalities or the HOAs?

Home Prices Continue Downward March -

Home Prices Continue Downward March - "For the first quarter, the S&P/Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price Index posted a 19.1% drop from a year earlier, the biggest quarterly decline for the reading's 21-year history."
But consumer confidence is up, which proves that anti-depressant drugs work.

Crisis spurs spike in 'suburban survivalists'

Crisis spurs spike in 'suburban survivalists': "Emergency supply retailers and military surplus stores nationwide have seen business boom in the past few months as an increasing number of Americans spooked by the economy rush to stock up on gear that was once the domain of hardcore survivalists."
People who are heeding the warnings and preparing for the EOTWAWKI ("end of the world as we know it") are getting their BOB ("bug out bag") stocked up. They are ready to skin raccoons.

Thanks to Frontier Fred Pilot for this helpful link.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Realtors are abandoning a listing ship - Los Angeles Times

Realtors are abandoning a listing ship - Los Angeles Times: "Experiences like these are leading some to wonder whether Realtors may soon go the way of travel agents. Already weakened by the sour housing market, the profession faces increasing challenges from Internet-based services that help people save thousands on a home purchase."
Some would say that this proves every cloud has a silver lining.