Friday, April 30, 2010

Beaver hiding

With all the bad news about oil spills, earthquakes and tornados this little guy looks like he's hiding. Now when does hurricane season start?

More later...

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Bolubaise and other stinky stuff

All you shrimp lovers need to hit the market asap. in a week or two you will have no alternative but to buy the overpriced scampi from the already polluted waters off Vietnam. You say you'll buy American and just have some forty weight with that shrimp cocktail? I wish you well.
Problem with trying to "clean up" this disaster is that there's only so much that can be done. I've done oil spills on the Puget Sound. I say from experience that even under the best of conditions it is no easy task and the end result is capturing about 10 to 20% of a spill. I haven't checked yet but they are reporting that this spill will make landfall in the next few days. But the real problem is that there is no way to cap this blow out. It's pumping out 5000 gallons of crude per day. My guess is that it will cost at least $500 million to get what they can. The aftermath will take years much like Prince William Sound in Alaska which to this day still remains poisoned.

In other news and other odoriferous things I see the Republicans have "their own plan" to fix Wall Street. Popped over to Think Progress and found a link to their plan or at least their outine to the process. Looked like it had been written by a college freshmen pulling an all nighter. To summarize their little plan is to basically do nothing except of course add a few more agencies tied into the SEC and FDIC. After you read everything you get the impression that they have no clue as to how the system works or should work. I've got a real good idea for you guys. For seventy years we had rules that kept everything running smoothly. How about bringing them back? That way you'd only have to do minor tweeks to the system. But we all know how this will work out. We'll get some watered down bill written by the banks and investment companies that won't do much and the game will continue until the next collapse which shouldn't be long in coming as Wall Street continues selling the crap that got us in the mess in the first place.

Correction The amount of oil spilled is 210,000 gallons per day. Not the 5000 which was the number of barrels reported. Sorry for the mistake.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Come on baby light my fire

Is it me or is it getting warm around here. Greece has a financial fire and Europe wants to put it out with buckets of money. The Gulf has a massive oil spill so we'll just set it on fire. Drill baby drill..."oops ya got it all over me" says mother nature. How perverse no? And who is going to light that cross on fire in the Mojave National Preserve? You know they want to. Fire hazard high in northern Minn. How's that climate change working for you? Nah, must be a fluke.

So fire it up or you'll get fired. Hey I just don't have the motivation because I'm just one of those lazy unemployed that'd rather sit here and watch soaps all day. Hey can I have your six figure salary Lt. Gov. so I can sit on my ass and tell those out of work what slackers they are? Oh I thought not. Because once you did get a job they'd expect you to actually produce something. Something you haven't done in years. Line them all up and light them on fire I say. We'll make today fire day. Just a taste of the hereafter for you religious guys. You guys seem to like fire and brimstone.

How about a wall of fire on the southern border? Nobody gets in and nobody gets out. And like musical chairs those seated get to keep their seats. Any criminals would be put on a nest of fire ants or given the option to fight forest fires in the west.

And if it wasn't bad enough homeless are being set on fire. Life's hard enough without being under fire.
Haven't seen any fireflies lately. Must be extinct.

Put a fire under your butt or fire up a butt or just fire one up. There's no more fire in the belly.

Now have I covered this firey subject well?

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Hot one comin right up ("Shitty Deal")

Don't get confused about derivatives and CDOs and all that, it's all quite simple. Here's a quick lessen of the complex financial mess that stands before us.

That wonderful product that you bought on late night TV seemed like the greatest thing since sliced bread. Surely the glamorous Hollywood star wouldn't lie to me. But somebody way down the line overlooked the fact that substandard parts were used and at one point the pizza delivery guy was used in the assembly process. Hey he was handy at the time because we were short on personnel. And they knew damn well that this was a dog since their QC checker was on the payroll and the regulators were too busy watching porn to be bothered. Why bother when everything was running very well and everybody was making a ton of money. But as the process evolved other manufacturers wanted in on the action. They could get rid of the shitty material that had been sitting in the back room collecting dust. So they just made a deal with the rating guys to beef things up and slap on a AAA . "This stuff isn't bad" they were told because the stockroom guy mixed it with just enough good stuff to fool his own mother.

And so the hot potato was born and it was mixed many times as it was passed from one seller to the next buyer. Neatly packaged in shiney foil wrapping with a nice pink bow. And who wouldn't want one of these neat presents with GOLDman stamped on the side? It must be mmmmm good. Even though this tater was a hot one everybody wanted one but knowing how greed works they just couldn't hold on for long. Just had to flip it to the next buyer (er sucker) and make that quick short term profit. So the tater was tossed around and around working it's way through Great Britain, France, Iceland and beyond. Until one day the potato cooled off enough for the buyer to look down to see what he'd bought. And he realized what he had was rotten. But he really wasn't worried because he had bought insurance on the potato. And it was only when he went to collect on his policy that the whole thing unraveled. For you see the insurance companies hadn't bothered to have enough to cover a loss when most of the potatoes went rotten. They too were making tons of money selling insurance and wallowing in the cash. That is until the foreign buyers realized what they had and wanted to file a claim. And that is when everyone realized that nobody could make fries or even mashed potatoes out of this rotten mess.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Misc. madness

Proposal Worries Banks Boo hoo. Congress wants to take away the banks' gambling money. Derivatives would be done by an outside company. Republicans are of course against any regulations. So where do you think they get all their money? And the Dems aren't much better in that respect.

We have the Ipad and Russia has the Club-K. What's a Club-K you ask? It's two cruise missiles packaged in a truck trailer container. They plan to sell it for 10 to $20 million each to countries like Iran and Venezuela. Great now any small country can have destruction in a box. I hear this thing can take out an aircraft carrier. And since this thing looks like your average ocean type shipping container it would be easy to hide in plane sight.

Bush has a book coming out in November. Gee and I don't have any crayons.

Still no work and on that note I must say the actual unemployment figures are far more than reported. I'd say more like 16 or 17%. Guess I'll just go eat some chocolate.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Deadly Fungus coming your way!

Okay now that I have your attention I lied. This fungus has a mortality rate of about 25%. That is if you were exposed. To be exposed you would have to either be a lumberjack and have the misfortune of cutting down the wrong tree or you replaced the tires on an affected car carrying the spores. It was studied between 2002 and 2005 in British Columbia,Canada. All of the fear mongering came out when a Duke University student published the findings in a paper he had written. I did dig through an analysis of the study by the CDC and came upon a neat summary. Hope it's not too technical for you:

Patterns of C. gattii Colonization

Figure 2. Distribution of positive and negative environmental samples for a systematic sampling along a 35-km traffic corridor traversing National Topographic System of Canada...

We initially investigated longitudinal patterns of C. gattii tree and soil colonization. Figure 1 illustrates these colonization patterns. Consistently positive swab and soil results were observed for some trees and their rhizospheres over 2–3 years, and these were designated "permanently colonized." For other trees, an initial positive swab result was followed by a series of negative samples, which indicated a transient presence of C. gattii in these locations. Intermittently positive swab and soil results were also observed, in which the series of samples effectively oscillated between positive and negative for C. gattii over time with no discernable seasonal pattern. This intermittent positivity was probably due to fluctuations in the cryptococcal population over time, above and below limits of detection. This situation might arise following the introduction of C. gattii to a new location or substrate.

Simply put they did a couple of hundred samples. Some of the samples came up positive and some came up negative. It seems this fungus either dies off or is crowded out by other molds. I've studied molds over the years. You wouldn't believe the number of types and sub types there are. There are literally tens of thousands of them but there are only about 8 known types that can make you sick. The most known is black mold Stachybotrys chartarum. The CDC reports that these types of molds are not really toxic. I say bull! I've seen several cases of people exposed here in the Puget Sound area and must say the symptoms are not pretty. They included memory problems, headaches,bloody nose, and blood coming from the eyes and ears. In fact during a recertification class I was told to use not only the usual moon suit,gloves and respirator but ear plugs as well.

How do you get rid of mold? A cup of bleach to 1 gallon of water will kill it on hard surfaces. I've found that even small amounts mold on drywall can hide the fact that the backside is totally mold covered so you may want to cut out a section and check. On things like carpet or porous materials you'll need to throw them out and replace.

Keep your drums upright.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Let's all play pick the criminal!

You're a police officer crusing the drag down in Az and you see all of these men. Which one would you pull over to check their papers? One is a criminal. One may soon be a criminal and the other two are innocent.

Answers in the comments much later.

Update: Okay pencils down answers in the comments.

Arizona -The police state

We need to round up some people and I'm not talking about some dark haired hispanic people either. There needs to be an internment and reeducation camp set up for a bunch of politicians in Az. It's my understanding that civics are now taught in only about 1/2 of Americas' schools. Not only have these politicians not bothered to read federal laws concerning immigration they are under the delusion that they can just make up any law they want. They seemed to have forgotten once again that this nation has a constitution that covers the rights of its citizens. And this issue was yet another reason the U.S. went to war with Germany in the 1940s.

Here's the meat of the new law: (bold print be me)

And now the best part of their little scheme

So basically what this is saying is a police officer can pull anybody over for no other reason other than the suspect that that person is here illegally. My question is how do you do that Officer Bumpkin? Can you tell them by their hair color? Their language? One idiot senator from the state said that he could tell by their shoes? What? Arrest everyone who isn't wearing Burno Mollys?

The only problem in this unconstitutional law is that it will back fire on the state big time. New Hampshire already tried something like this and it was overturned.

We have a constitution and we have federal immigration laws. It would be nice if they were actually followed and enforced them. It would also be nice if they actually sat down and read the constitution but I forgot they only read and believe what they want. If it isn't on Fox News then it must be a lie to them.

The 4th Ammendment of our constitution
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

I may have another good post on this if I get around to it.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Miners revisited and the beaver's not happy

I really didn't want to go back to this subject but after reading a post over at Firedoglake the other night and with the latest nonsense with Blankenship (he refused to let miners go to the funerals) I felt compelled to give some insight into what they were doing down there in the bowels of the earth that got them to this tragedy.
Let me preface this by saying that much of the equipment that I've used over the years was developed by the MSA (mine safety) and the atomic energy industry. It didn't really hit me how similar our two professions were until I was listening to a guy on talk radio who worked as a miner for some 25 years and had worked for Massey until he was fired for complaining about safety.
Most of the safety measures have one thing in common, they tend to slow things down when things start to go wrong but there's a high margin of safety built into the systems. I'll explain. The sniffers as we call them monitor the air for explosive levels. That's the lowest explosive level or limit (LEL). That's the minimum amount of a gas that would ignite. But they are actually set way below the LEL to give people time to react. Everyone in the mine knows this. So when the alarm goes off you are supposed to leave the area until it can be properly ventilated. But since they know there's a large margin of safety they'll just silence the alarm, continue working while somebody goes and turns on another vent fan. According to the former Massey miner they would have at least one ventilation system per work area. But as we all know equipment breaks down. So what would they do? They'd use one vent for two work areas.
Another way of cheating was with air sampling. At least one worker is required to wear an air monitor to measure the dust a worker gets exposed to. Coal dust is also explosive. If the levels get too high work is supposed to stop and the problem fixed. But in order to keep production going the worker simply takes the monitor to a clean area and leaves it there until the end of shift. Now you might say what about the outside safety inspectors? Simple. The inspectors always call ahead when they go to a mine. The first thing they check is the paperwork to make sure it is in order then take a tour. The supervisor radios down that the inspector is on site and everything is usually in order. Once the inspector leaves it's back to business as usual.
Now I'm not exactly sure what their ventilation requirements are but ours requires four air changes per hour on an asbestos or haz mat job. Meaning that the machines have to move the amount of air (cubic feet) of the entire work space four times each hour. In a mine that could be quite a bit of air. And we wonder why miners are still dying of black lung.

I hear that Don Blankenship would not let his workers even attend a funeral for the lost coworkers. It just boggles the mind to see someone that cold hearted.

Update: Bank failures are out and this week seven all in IL. hit the skids. A special thanks to Bushco, the porno watching SEC, and Wall Street.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Spoke too soon

How's that "drill baby drill" mantra working for you now?

Update: The rig just sank this morning leaving behind hundreds of gallons of crude to be cleaned up.
(insider info on that - a clean up gets about 15% of the spilled material at best. the rest eventually sinks to the bottom killing fish and marine life).

Keep your drums upright folks and Happy Earth Day!

Earth Day

I barely remember the first Earth Day. Who though about pollution or anything like that back then. We did after all have no control over what was being pumped out of smoke stacks and dumped in rivers. There were some naturalists like Rachael Carson who had tried to bring light to our situation. I think there was a turning point or at least a beginning when eagles started to disappear from DDT and a certain river in Cleveland caught fire. Cities like Pittsbugh had put in scrubbers in their smoke stacks but that only filtered out the visable materials leaving microscopic bits of airborne metal and of course the sulfur leading to acid rain.
We didn't think about the lead in our gas that was leaving behind a toxic mess or the garbage barge being dumped in the ocean off the coast of New York. There were no catalitic converters on cars slowing emissions. Nobody back then thought twice about dumping waste in any out of the way place. Out of sight out of mind was the mantra of the day. We buried radioactive equipment at Hanford. Created ponds of toxic soup at Love Canal and burned coal for heating and indusrty. All of this polluted our land, water, and air. Nothing like peeing where you get your drinking water. And as the population continues to grow the problems of polution will continue to get worse. That is until we realize that everyting comes back at us. Whatever you put into nature or simply put what ever goes around comes around. Mother nature is very forgiving but if you cross the line she will take you out behind the wood shed and beat you to death. It doesn't really take a lot to change things either. It only takes many people doing small things to make a giant difference. It's all a matter of balance.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Here we go again... state income taxes

Bill Gates senior (Bill's dad) wants to propose a state income tax on everyone making over $200K. Now as you know I'm not against taxes. I realize they pay for all our important things like police, fire, roads and such, but I also realize that taxes are like cocroaches. Once they get in you'll never get rid of them. I recall states like Pa. and Mass. letting in the tax roaches only to watch as a simple 1% here 2% there keep growing until you had something that would scare an Orkin man.

My take on this. It started out simple enough with the state setting a 1% income tax on those making $200K. This paid for many things and gave government coffers a needed boost. But something happens along the way. With a new source of income the state starts to spend to the level of their income. We all know how that works. It's why you see somebody with massive assets and not a nickle in savings. Also known as asset rich and cash poor. But the wealthy aren't worried because they can afford accountants and lawyers to lessen their tax blow. They can always get a state legislator to slip in this deduction or that. But then a down turn comes the cash flow slows and then it's a race to find ways of cutting expenses and raising revenue. Oops we'll need to drop that $200K figure down to (pick any figure below it). Then you have the cities feeling the pinch and maybe they'd like to tax everybody"s income as well so they start their own little 1040 revenue plan. And before you the taxpayer knows it they're spending a goodly part of their days filling out tax forms.

I've seen these income tax proposals happen six times over the last many years here and every time they've failed. I'd suspect the same to happen this year if this makes it to the ballot for a vote.
The real solution would be to raise federal income taxes on the top 1%. They were the ones who footing the bill for the last many years and we didn't see any results of the trickle down theory that even Bush senior called "voodoo economics". Throw a tax on those derivative trades as well.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Sorry Sarge

Recruit cat iz not ready for military service.

Huston we have a problem. It's being reported that 27% of high school kids are obese and unable to serve in the military because of it. And now the military wants changes to school lunch programs. All I can say is the politicians created most of this problem and Madison Ave helped. I've discussed this before but I'll repeat the history for any new comers.
Back during the "great depression" kids were malnourished for obvious reasons. Back then people were rejected from the military because they were underweight. So FDR came up with school lunches as part of national security. A good and honorable idea in my opinion. And as I recall in the 50s and 60s an adequate lunch was provided at a very cheap price. I think it was 50 cents in the 60s. But more importantly back then we had gym class three times a week. And there was no distractions like the internet or video games to waste away the hours. We changed clothes and shoes and took to the streets to play baseball, football, tag, or army. We rode bikes everywhere. In short even a cheap lunch was easily burned off by dinner time.
But something odd started happening sometime in the 70s. All of a sudden phys ed was no longer a requirement. Dirt play fields were being paved over for parking lots or sold to developers. Video games were making their way into homes. And then there was the drugs. Why bother to go out and get sweaty when you can have just as much fun firing up a doobie and listening to your favorite acid rock music. And we all know what that leads to... the munchies. Consuming the most bizzare combinations of culinary delights packed with calories America has ballooned to mamouth proportions one spoonful at a time. But there were a few other factors that didn't help either. Sodas which are nothing more than flavored sugar water had gone from a meger 8oz. bottle to 12 then 16 then 24ozs. Big Gulp hell, you can drown in the thing! I remember as a kid being allowed to have 1/2 of a 12oz bottle and no cheating. Schools at that time only offered milk or juice no pop. But some how the pop and candy companies made their way into schools. I don't know of a school without one now. I also don't seem to recall any fried foods way back when. And as always I'm sure it was about the money. Tight budgets made it tempting to take the cash, after all the company was going to pay for the new scoreboard.
So what do you have right now? You have inactive kids and many other out of work parents consuming about 500 calories beyond what's needed getting fatter by the day. And here's the real kicker. With many of the out of work people being tied to construction it's going to be hard to get started again. A lot of them are in their 50s now. The last class I took looked like an AARP meeting. I felt like the old man being on medication until I found out half the class was on medication as well. The problem now is that there are too many of us to all be supervisors. So what to do? We'll either drop dead of a heart attack upon getting back to work or fade away. But the kids have a chance I think if some rules are set down like you can't be a couch potato until you have done a work out or played ball. And no eating at the computer you'll get crumbs in the keyboard!

Our obese society

Monday, April 19, 2010

In Greed we trust

These guys must think we're total fools. I now hear that the entire SEC case against Goldman centers around the word "selected".
Hello! Anybody with a third grade education could tell you this was fraud plane and simple. Let me see. You create a mortgage with questionable information. Many were done with no income verification. Don't worry about checking the books of the self employed you can trust em. Then there's the valuations of the properties. Nothing like inflating the value of a property when it's your bank that pays for the apprasial. Need 125% loan to value? No problemo. Can't even afford a down payment? Again no problemo. If you get in trouble we'll just add any shortfalls to the end of the loan after we've redone the paperwork and collected our additional fees.
Selected? Ya there was selected. We've selected anyone dumb enought to fall for this crap and get them to sign. The investment firms who sold this bundled joke for an investment had to know what they were doing. Hell I even knew what they were doing and I'm no investment whiz. They'd like us to think that they didn't have a clue that this stuff was garbage. Humm? Does anyone remember "junk bonds"? Ah yes those wonderful pieces of toilet paper that were sold in the 80s that brought down hundreds of savings and loans. And once again the sharks circled and bought up the S&Ls that had assets while the taxpayer got stuck with the bill. Nice way to make a living if you have no morals.
This time is a bit different. Their little game has gone global. But this time they've ticked off entire countries. I now hear Britain and Germany may be lining up with their own charges. You guys at Goldman just keep playing dumb but I think this time around you're going to get burned. You'd better have stashed a whole lot of cash in a Cayman account because this time just may be a little bit different.

Now there's a big hoopla about putting in place new rules. Got news for you boys you don't need to sit down and come up with anything new. We had rules in place to prevent all this for the last 60 + years and they worked quite well. That is until you threw them out the window. Kind of like watching a football game and then all of a sudden they announce that all the refs are leaving the field. But who are we to complain when caged ultimate fighting has become so popular? This has become the Rollerball of Wall Street sans rules or time limits. The best they can do now is stall for time because the refs are coming back in the game and they'll have an ample supply of penalty flags.


Friday, April 16, 2010

Caged beaver. What else would you find around here on Friday

Random angry rants today. Let's all get mean and nasty. What better things do we have to do?

Crist backs off the education bill in Fla. Gee maybe he thought the people down there were too dumb to email. Setting standards for teacher pay based on performance. Hey Sparky! Didn't you know when you push standards they just inflate the grades? And just how did Johnny make it through and get a high school diploma when he can't read or write? Explain that one to me Principal Skinner.

Unemployment extention just passed last night. And the growling republicans outraged that this isn't paid for. Tell me Senator (R) where was your outrage when you spent $400 billion+ for an unessary unpaid for war? Where was your no vote on the unpaid for drug bill with the donut hole? Great idea that was, we'll keep em alive just long enough so the rest of the insurance vultures can drain their bank accounts and should they survive we'll keep em alive just long enough to get the last penny then give em a cheap funeral.
You could give your buds on Wall Street hundreds of billions without batting an eyelid (it only took two weeks) but try and get 2% of what you gave them and it's taken months. Did you suddenly grow a conscience senator? Where was it the last eight years under Bush?

Now we have Bitch McConnell who seems to need another set of lips because you can only talk out of so many sides of your mouth at once. He's somebody's bitch alright only it isn't the people from his home state of Kuntucky. We need more regulations on the banks and investment houses is the cry of the day! So once again a watered down bill is finally eeked out essentually doing little to change the system. But is Bitch even satisfied with that? Nooo. Because even that would be too much for the pimps on Wall Street and poor Bitch is afraid his handlers won't give him some crumbs for his next election. You guys are becoming too disgustingly obvious.

Lastly you may have remembered that old song "Whitey's on the moon". Guess they'll need to change it to "Whitey's on Mars". Not against science but this is just bad timing. So tell me did they ever finish rebuilding New Orleans?

So find a teabagger party and kick your drums over on em you'll feel better...

Bank Failures are out. This week we lose 5 more in MI,MA and 3 in FLA.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Couldn't help but think of the Randal of Graves

As I procrastinate yet some more on this tax day. Hey the mail doesn't go out until 5. No grand rush there and stumble around the internet looking for nothing in particular I find just the right come back encapsulating the very spirit of Randal's latest machination. God do I even know what that word means? Hold on while I look it up. Ffffeww I'm back. Yep that fits Randal to a T. So while Randal's busy clipping his toe nails and coloring his hair I give you a wonderful composition from Keates.

Ode on Indolence

And may this be an inspiration for your next post Randal. I'm sure you can twist it like a pretzel and come up with some near incomprehensible rant of half baked proportions. Because none of us like our proportions burnt but I'm sure you could do that and we wouldn't even notice.

And for those who wonder why I don't bother to use spell check to them I say this thing has a vocabulary of a third grader, Oxford or Webster it's not.

Plus I'm just plain lazy. Now if i can just remember where I put that tax form. Oh well I'll get to it later. Wonder if they'd take an IOU? The cat ate it?

Keep your drums upright...

A fly in the nuclear ointment

As I posted the other day the new policy on about Obama wanting to take all the weapons grade nuclear material thereby taking it out of the hands of terrorists. This would be a great and admirable undertaking had it not been for a couple of things. You will note the pretty mountain photo above. That would be Yucca mountain about 90 miles from Las Vegas. This was the designated place where we were going to store all these nasties. Locations were studied and in 1987 this was the chosen location. Twenty one years and $9 billion later Yucca is at present off the table or maybe just in limbo. First it was Nevadans who had fought the project from the get go saying that since there were no nuclear plants in their state why should they be the dumping ground. What they failed to remember was that Yucca mountain is located right near the place where there were some 900 atomic tests in the 40s and 50s. Obama announced last year that Yucca would not be used and with Harry Reid the Nevada senator having fought against the project as well all is stopped. Or is it? Two things have happened since. First Obama gave his recent speech about wanting the worlds' weapons grade nuclear waste which is something of a puzzle when you stop to consider that we have no repository now. There was no back up plan to Yucca that I can find. The other issue is that Washington state was wanting a permanent place to store its' weapons grade waste Hanford where they made the material in the 40s was never set up for permanent storage and is so contaminated it will take billions more just to contain what's there, so they are suing the feds. And now South Carolina with its' Savannah River nuclear weapons complex is also suing because they had the same idea.
There are at present some 107 nuclear plants around the country with waste. They are at present storing that waste on site in large heavily reinforced casks.
There have been many delays including the studies and final method of transporting the waste safely from all over the country by rail and truck. They don't expect that Yucca can be operational until 2020 and to top that off we have no reprocessing facility. With all this money spent you question whether it's prudent to stop and change the whole method of energy production or continue with this very expensive proposition. Remember this stuff has to be stored safely for one million years. Now you understand why I'm against nuclear power.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Ex WaMu CEO whines that they got a raw deal

Nothing like trying to shoot the messenger when you get caught in a fraud scandal. Killinger the WaMu exec looked like a deer in the headlights when testifying before a congressional comittee yesterday. His contention was that WaMu was well on it's way to becoming solvent when the Feds pulled the plug. I got news for him a snowball would have had a better chance in hell than WaMu coming back. Why? It was so obvious that when the banks' financial position came to the attention of its' customers, money was flying out the doors faster than pizzas on a free pizza Monday. It didn't take a genious to figure out that the bank was drowning in debt once the truth came out. You can't make loans at 125% of value and interest only loans and expect to stay in business very long. It must have been quit an uneasy feeling for a branch manager to sit and watch customers close accounts on a daily basis. Then to see a branch go from four or five tellers down to two or three. But what did the higher ups care when they were making millions in bonuses even after the train wreck.
So now it is up to congress to try and pick apart the wreckage and preform the autopsy. Maybe they can come up with some sane rules to prevent this from happening for at least another thirty or forty years but I wouldn't hold my breath. The money behind the scenes is still being shoveled at congress so that the game can continue. Rules? Rules? We don't need no stinking rules. And there in lies the problem. We had rules that worked for 60 years. They were put in place for a purpose to prevent from what happened from happening. We never seem to learn from history even though it repeats itself.
As for Mr. Killinger it's not over for him and he knows it. He could be charged with fraud and yes even serve time in jail. I can only wish but we know how these guys tend to get off on such charges. Try stealing something from a local store and see what happens. But you can defraud an entire nation and not only get away with it but get a bonus for doing it. So let this be a lesson to you boys and girls. Stay in school and you too can do the crime and get off scott free and not even get your hands dirty.

Behind the scenes motivations

The new policy of accepting highly enriched uranium material on the surface looks like a way of getting bomb making material out of the hands of a terror group, but I just discovered what they plan to do with all that material. But before I get to that I must say this was an interesting plan on the part of this administration. Now I'm no fan of atomic plants. They cost between 6 to 8 billion dollars to build. It can take 10 years to get them online and when their life has ended they must be torn apart at great expense. And then there's the storage of the waste for 1000 years at great cost.
Here's the plan though. The U.S. accepts the high grade material and what country doesn't want to get rid of something they have to pay dearly just to store? So we take the material and reprocess it into material that can be used in a nuclear reactor and sell it to the power companies world wide if we wanted to. Nothing like getting something for free and making a nice profit on it.
And it wouldn't surprise me that sometime in 10 or 20 years this material could be reprocessed in Iran. You laugh? Consider the fact that we do quite a bit of business with Russia and who would have thought that would have happened 30 years ago? Now they are assisting us in getting Iran to comply with the Atomic Energy Commission.
Oh and for all those wingnuts out there who fear this would put us in some weak position, it only takes a couple of dozen nukes to end life on this planet as we know it. I like the analogy - it's like we're all sitting in a giant tub of gasoline. Whoever lights a match ends it all for all of us.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The current state of affairs

Us, and them
And after all were only ordinary men.
Me, and you.
God only knows it's noz what we would choose to do.
Forward he cried from the rear
And the front rank died.
And the general sat and the lines on the map
Moved from side to side.
Black and blue
And who knows which is which and who is who.
Up and down.
But in the end it's only round and round.
Haven't you heard it's a battle of words
The poster bearer cried.
Listen son, said the man with the gun
There's room for you inside.

I mean, they're not gunna kill ya, so if you give em a quick short,
Sharp, shock, they wont do it again. dig it? I mean he get off
Lightly, cos I wouldve given him a thrashing - I only hit him once!
It was only a difference of opinion, but really...i mean good manners
Don't cost nothing do they, eh?

Down and out
It can't be helped but there's a lot of it about.
With, without.
And wholl deny it's what the fightings all about?
Out of the way, it's a busy day
Ive got things on my mind.
For the want of the price of tea and a slice
The old man died.

(My Add)
Some win some lose. The losers are sore. They scream about things that will never be the same.
Oh what a shame.
The pain in my head, they want grandma dead
I don't like their tone
Oh that's right she's in the home
All tucked away
Germany France Russia or Spain
Beatnics hippies skin heads and teabaggers
It's all the same
For it's always
Us and them
when will it end?
guess not until
the old man is dead

Saturday, April 10, 2010

RIP Upper Branch miners

The last four miners bodies were recovered yesterday at the Upper Branch mine. I think I can just about piece together exactly what happened or at least a close approximation. From what was said by one of the miners who went home to Ohio over the Easter weekend. He knew something was wrong at the mine. "He knew because his April 2 shift had ended about two hours early over ventilation concerns at the mine. He drove to Ohio to spend Easter with his family".
Now I'm guessing here but see if this doesn't fit. The gas alarms started going off sometime in late morning or early afternoon. The crew knew that they were not going to get the problem fixed that day and it being a holiday weekend figured they'd leave it for Monday. I've done this myself in my own profession as in "we're not going to get this fixed everybody clean up and let's get out of here, enjoy your weekend". Now as nobody was going to be in the mine over the weekend they shutdown the ventilation system entirely. That enabled methane over the weekend to fill the entire mine or at least the section where they were working. They fired up the vent fans to part of the mine but weren't able to get the ones working properly in the area of the explosion. The ones that were working provided just the right amount of oxygen so that the gas hit the upper explosion limit. It was just a matter of time before a spark set off the explosion.

I can only hope that something good will come of all of this and they didn't die in vain .

Damn Chinese!

They're at it again. You recall the milk tained with melamine? Well now I find out that not only did they not destroy all of that tainted stock. Some of it was sold earlier this year. But it gets worse. Now their cutting flour with lime. No not the kind you put in your rum and coke. They're using ground lime as a whitening agent in flour because they can sell it cheap. The health effects? It can destroy your respiratory system.

Chinese flour

I'm getting to the point that I just may boycott all products made in China. Most of their stuff is crap anyway.

Friday, April 9, 2010

The Stupid Amendment

Of course its Friday and ya'll know what that means if you've hung around here very long.

But what about the heading you ask? Bart Stupak is calling it quits. The Michigan Democrat will not run for another term. In a statement released this afternoon he rambled on about all the wonderful things he did as a senator yet never really stated the reason for his leaving. But it didn't take very long to figure out what had happened. To put an amendment into the health care bill that didn't need to be there was his demise. In a great waste of taxpayer time and money Stupak held up the bill while a parade of speeches siding with his anti abortion stance were presented. Why the waste of effort you may ask? Because what he wanted was already a part of the bill so the amendment did nothing more than echo what was already there. But it was beginning to appear that Bart was siding with the republicans in both presenting an amendment that went against the party platform and holding up the bill from passage. Something even the republicans couldn't do at the time. For that he would face the greatest harassment from those in his district. The uproar must have been too much for old Bart as his wife was forced to disconnect their home phone. So I guess the senator saw the handwriting on the wall as far as his political career went.
But fear not Bart I'm sure you've made enough connections over the last 18 years and maybe they'll let you hang around C Street until your lease is up.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Not to beat a dying horse but...

So who the hell are these guys and why should anyone care? The guy on the right is Donald L. Blankenship the head man at the Upper Branch Mine that just blew up. The guy on the left is Elliot E. Maynard a West Virginia superior court justice responsible for judging a case against the Branch Mine. This 2008 picture was taken while the two were on vacation. Blankenship office insisted that the two were not on vacation together but they were observed having several meals together over several days. When these photos were brought to the attention of the court the judge (Maynard) recused himself. But Blankenship must have had a back up plan. The next judge Justice Brent Benjamin (pictured above) received some $3 million in campaign contributions from Blankenship. Why would this be important? Because the "good' judge ruled in favor of Blankenship in a $50 million dollar case. Nothing like being chumy with the judges and that's a cheap price to pay for influence.

If that weren't bad enough Blankenship in a memo gives a bit of insight as to his attitude towards his workers. Here's a quote:
“If any of you have been asked by your group presidents, your supervisors, engineers or anyone else to do anything other than run coal (i.e. -- build overcasts, do construction jobs, or whatever) you need to ignore them and run coal,” Blankenship wrote. “This memo is necessary only because we seem not to understand that coal pays the bills.”
The overcasts and construction jobs referred to here is all the work necessary for safety like the building of ventilation systems etc.

So to these fine pieces of human garbage I am forced to give my award of excellence. So to Don and Brent this award is for you.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Get off my lawn!

Patriot got me to thinking about what we do around the world that never seems to end up with a good outcome. What is it that we always seem to get into little disputes that turn into major wars. I guess Eisenhour was right. He said "beware of the military industrial complex". So I looked back to when I was old enough to even begin to understand world politics to outline what and why we've done what we did.

Vietnam - There was Diem in charge for many years a pro French leader who gradually turned and with a little CIA help was taken out of the picture and replaced with Nguyễn Cao Kỳ and co-leader Nguyen Van Thieu. What was this all about? As best as I can remember back in the 60s when our American cars seemed to be growing both larger and with ever increasing amounts of chrome the main source of that chrome was Southeast Asia. Now the bobble heads in DC would have you believe that this was all about democracy. That if we didn't stop those dirty commies in Vietnam then they'd take over all the countries there and spread west. And the next thing you'd know there'd be a commie under your bed. Humm how quickly we forgot about Joesph McCarthy of the 1950s but remember this was at the height of the cold war. This was about the chrome though. You'll note that after the defeat cars with chrome bumpers disappeared. Bumpers themselves have disappeared since. Any trim turned from chrome to brushed aluminum.

Iran - In the 1950s Iran had a democratically elected leader but he was about to make a shift in policy moving from a pro western position to working with the Russians. DC would have non of this and again with a little nudge from the CIA the Shah was installed much to the anger of the Iranians. After many years and changes to the economic landscape the people rose up and kicked out the Shah. Again this was about oil and greed. The deal the Shah struck gave the west a 50 50 split of the oil profits only there was no oversight or audit of the books for the Iranians.

Iraq - again we have oil and an elected leader being overthrown with Sadam taking over with some help again from the CIA. And we all know what a brutal dictator he turned into. All for cheap oil and as an added bonus we got him to fight Iran in an effort to take back power from the religious leaders.

Are you beginning to see a pattern here? It's really a simple process. We develop an industry or resource in some far off land and try to suck as much profit from it as possible. When the leaders of that country either catch on to the plan or themselves get drunk with power or cash it becomes time for regime change. If we go into a country with weak leadership or many factions then we pick the party or leader with the strongest potential and put them in charge whether or not they are the best pick for the country or not. And it happens over and over again.

Look what we have in Iraq and Afghanistan. Alawi and Karzai. I seem to recall Alawi being under criminal investigation by the CIA just after we invaded and were looking for an temporary leader. He had fallen out of power until he had some magical make over. I think he's basically a power whore who will say anything to get control. And you have to wonder if he didn't have some CIA help to get elected as he was the secular choice in a field of religious choices.

Greed is a funny thing. The more you have the more you want. It's a proven fact that most shoplifters have the money to pay for the things they steal.

Now get off my lawn while I'm busy stealing yours!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Mine safety

Methane a killer
As I've mentioned in a prior post the Bush administration was noted for cutting budgets and ignoring regulations. So too was it with the mining industry. With lobbyists dumping some $14 million of influence into DC companies have been bending er.. ignoring many of the laws and regulations in place to protect workers from workplace dangers. The attitude of get her done at all costs has been in place for many years now. It's so prevalent that it will take several years to undo what Bush and company did. We saw that with the banks which to date still have no oversight and they are back to doing exactly the things that got us into this mess.
I experienced this first hand in my own profession which made it quite difficult to protect myself and the public and still meet production schedules. I may have mentioned before that some years back a large job would require 15 to 20 workers was cut to 7 or 8 with no advanced technology to make up the difference. I was able to hit most of the production not by sheer effort but because I have been in the business so long that I remember techniques that others either didn't know or had forgotten. Still I saw an increase in worker injuries over the Bush years like never before and an attitude of production first public and worker safety last.

I feel truly bad for the families of that small mining town. They had neither the government to look out for their safety nor some union to back them up. I wonder if the company will even bother to pay to bury the dead. There's not usually a death benefit when you're non union. But the real kick in the pants is that the less one makes the worse one gets treated. All for this for the plain greed because it's cheaper to take a fine and loose a couple of workers than spend the money for safety.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Easter time

I hear the easter bunny left a little present at your front doorstep.

But not to worry

A stiff brush and some detergent should take care of it!

Friday, April 2, 2010

It's Friday already?

Three people killed at a refinery here. In reading the article I noticed that the company was based in Texas. That figures. Corporate policy from that state never was very safe. The Chemical Saftey Board had just finished a review of another accident down there in Texas when this happened. Can't remember but I think this is their second. There were 17 health and safety violations at this refinery at Antcortes, Wa. Now I've never actually worked up there but I have been in recertification classes with some of their guys. Safety used to be a big thing with them. In order to work there you had to go through a three days safety training program. Oh and let me say this. Labor and Industries gives companies plenty of opportunity to clean up their act. They usually come in and give warnings first time around. Second time it's a $1000 fine that can be appealed and it usually is. Third time the fine goes to $10,000 and after that it goes up ten fold $100K etc. I expect a couple of million dollar fine out of this one which we'll see with higher gas prices.
You'd think they'd get smart and update these refineries. There hasn't been a new one built in the last thirty years or so. All because nobody wants one in their back yard.

I'll get to the bank failures later because they don't get posted until then. Update: No bank failures posted this week.

Update: A total of five workers were killed with two more in critical condition. Doctor reports that the first 48 hours are the most important. If they can survive the first two days then their chances are good.
There was a few items of note in the comments about the costs of safety. Consider this: An L&I claim costs minimum of $1500 per person and that's just for all the paperwork involved. Then there's the medical costs and rehab. Add to that the increase in L&I premiums and that can be a good chunk of change for a company. An hour's worth of safety training can run $50 to $100 per person. So being safe really is cheaper. Most of the companies that I've worked for realize that.

Later and keep your drums upright.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

The fools of April

Watch out big brother is watching you.

The judge hammering his gavel passes your sentence. " I give the defendant his choice. He may serve out the remaining days of his life in one of the following places: Cleveland, Pittsburgh or any rural town in Texas." All sentences final void where prohibited.

And now back to our concious state and the rest of the news. Those fine warriors of refuse will not be walking the picket lines today at least not yet as the union and management finish their agreement. In an interview last night a customer was heard saying "thank god at least now it won't smell like Broklyn here".
On the pollitical front it was discovered that the republican group The Young Eagles ( the ones into kinky lesbian sex shows) had other outings planned. They must really be into sex and violence as their next outing was to be at a Blackwater training camp however after the Voyeur club thing their field trips have been put on hold for now. Makes you wonder what other little titilating side trips they had before this.
And after eight years it has finally been determined that the wire taps of the Bush administration were in fact illegal. This of course will not prevent the NSA and others to keep spying on us so watch what you say and write. I just wonder how they'll keep all the copies of all the emails, web page changes, phone conversations etc. Maybe that's why they refuse to give up Ucca mountain for nuclear waste storage.

Now if you find any typos or spelling errors in this consider that I'm still asleep but then again I never was that great at spelling. Is that coffee I smell?