Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory?

For a little while, it was beginning to seem that the Republicans had a chance of retaking the Senate. Not now.

Nick Gillespie has an interesting analysis of what has happened, and offers the GOP some advice:

Memo to Republicans: If you are perceived as very similar to the Democrats, just more awful when it comes to gender and race, you’re not going to flourish. Your odds of pulling in independents and libertarians who are tired of massive government intrusion on all aspects of our lives would skyrocket if you laid out a governing strategy that accords with what you say you’re all about.

I don’t expect them to listen.


Communist Crony Capitalists

China has made the leap from N Korean-style basket case communism to banana republic crony-kleptocracy, and we should all applaud the fact that liberation has lifted several hundred million people out of grinding poverty and into middle incomes.

But is the Party over?

If you think we saw bad things out of China this week, brace yourselves. It’s going to get worse.
So expect defaults, expect credit events, expect strong companies to survive in this environment and weak companies to get wiped out.
In fact, as you can see in the Morgan Stanley table below, it’s already started.

China optimists like Scott Sumner (I have a bet with Scott on whether Mexican PPP GDP per capita will still exceed China’s by 2038) will point to figures showing state investment is declining, but I suspect a graph of “technically not state-owned, but substantially owned by officials of the armed forces or Party” would paint a less rosy picture.

China is still very poor and has enormous opportunities for economic growth, but this is what happens when capital is expended without enough market guidance — the incentives for the Communist Party are to keep their oligarchic power whatever the cost to growth. China is not developing a free press or inclusive democratic institutions, and without them, at some point they must inevitably run into a zero-growth wall. Is that time now?


“Kids will not eat what doesn’t taste good”

It may come as a shock to those who hold Masters degrees in Public Health and want to micromanage our lives, but it is turning out that Michelle Obama’s federal food guidelines are backfiring:

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. – New federal school food regulations promoted by First Lady Michelle Obama are becoming a massive headache for many schools that participate in the National School Lunch Program.

And many, like Missouri’s Notre Dame Regional and Saxony Lutheran high schools, are taking matters into their own hands.

Those schools and numerous others across the country are ditching the federal regulations and the funding that comes with them to save their cafeteria programs, which have experienced a nose-dive in sales and skyrocketing waste since the new rules were implemented in 2012.

At Notre Dame, school officials turned to the professionals at My Daddy’s Cheesecake, Papa John’s, Tractors Classic American Grill and Chick-fil-A to bring in nutritious and tasty meals students enjoy for “restaurant Wednesdays,” reports.

Notre Dame’s lunch participation had dropped to about half of its 565 students and 65 faculty members under the federal guidelines, but jumped drastically to about 75 percent once officials did away with the tight restrictions on calories, fat, sodium,  whole grains, and numerous other aspects of school meals.

This is all so predictable. It has led parents to opt out any way they can, like sending the kids to school with microwavable meals, or (gasp!) taking the kids to McDonalds:

“We want to make sure we’re serving a well-rounded, healthy, balanced meal,” Saxony principal Mark Ruark told “We don’t think the current federal guidelines give kids enough calories to sustain (them), especially those in extracurricular activities.”

“Kids will not eat what doesn’t taste good,” he said.

That’s the same conclusion parents and school officials in Alabama are coming to.

At Cleburne County Schools, where lunch participation dropped by 29 percent under Michelle O’s rules, Maria Gilbert said her children will no longer eat school food. Her 11th grader says it’s “nasty” and has opted to bring microwave food from home, at least until the school removed the appliance from the cafeteria. Gilbert said she’s often forced to find a quick meal for her famished kids after school, reports.

“The drive-through at McDonald’s is always full after school as Gilbert and other parents stop to feed their hungry children on the way home, she said,” according to the news site.

I’m surprised the school bureaucrats don’t sic CPS on the parents for taking the kids to McDonalds. That’s certainly the way they think. If you have kids, they have authority over them, not you.

And to think that certain conservatives wonder why young men don’t want to “man up” and become fathers. (Too many men have realized that if you have a kid, you are screwed.)



What Have I Been Up To?

I2C Stepper Motor L6474 16Sept2014 - Layout Picture
As you may have noted my postings have been a bit sporadic of late. It is because I have been designing a Stepper Motor Controller. Good for table top machining and 3D printers. I wrote the main elements of the software about 10 years ago to run a Bridgeport Milling machine. To work with modern computers the design needed a hardware update. So I have been updating the hardware. What is interesting about the design is that each motor has its own microprocessor so if you design a tool that needs 5 axis control or even 8 axis control – no problem. With very minor tweaks to the software all the motors will step along in perfect (as near perfect as you can get digitally) synchronism. As long as your longest step is under 2 billion. That is about 1/2 a mile at our finest step resolution and with steps of .00025 inches (what table top CNC machines typically can do). Just to give you an idea – our smallest step size is about 1 wavelength of yellow light. Now the step accuracy of such table top machines is only good to about 2 wavelengths of yellow light at those step rates so your table top machines will not be carving out mirrors for your amateur telescope needs. But they will make very smooth cuts at those machining rates. And if you want to run a Bridgeport? Well I have a design in mind for higher power stepper motors. Let me know.


Windmills Are Killing Europe

It turns out that Miguel de Cervantes, writing about Don Quixote was prescient. The Don was titling at windmills out of what was then thought to be imaginary fears. It turns out the fears are all too real.

European Union leaders announced they will be consolidating energy and environmental goals under a new commissioner, effectively axing the intergovernmental groups’ climate arm as green policies are making it harder for citizens to pay their power bills. “The EU is signalling a historical shift away from its green priority towards a new focus on economic recovery, competitiveness and energy cost,” Dr. Benny Peiser, director of the Global Warming Policy Forum, told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “This policy shift has been in the making for the last two years, but only now has Europe new leaders who are no longer obsessed with climate change,” said Peiser, who is based in the UK.

Well OK. But it gets even more ironic.

The nomination of Miguel Arias Cañete for the position of Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy has been roundly criticised. The Greens and environmental NGOs see Cañete as an illogical choice and have reacted furiously to his nomination. In France, The Greens have suggested that Cañete might be the worst possible choice for the climate. The fact that Alenka Bratusek, Vice-President of the Commission, in charge of the Energy Union as well as the Climate Action and Energy position, clearly demonstrates that energy will be a higher priority than climate over the next five years.

Take that you evil windmills. Now if only we had a government willing to take a go at them here in the US. It will take a while. The cronies need the capital.


Bacon is a religious issue!


Apparently so.

I always thought bacon was a food implicating little more than what a person might like (or not like) to eat, but what do I know?

I also thought sexual tastes were that, too.


Can You Believe It?

The home of the religion of peace, Saudi Arabia, is rounding up unbelievers.

Islamist police in Saudi Arabia have stormed a Christian prayer meeting and arrested its entire congregation, including women and children, and confiscated their bibles, it has been reported.

The raid was the latest incident of a swingeing crackdown on religious minorities in Saudi Arabia by the country’s hard-line Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice.

The 28 Christians were said to be worshipping at the home of an Indian national in the eastern city of Khafji, when the police entered the building and took them into custody. They have not been seen or heard from since, raising concerns among human rights groups as to their whereabouts

Now lets see. Are the Saudis Wahhabists or Salafists? In any case this all lends credence to the anti-ISIS call by the Saudi government. According to the New York Times.

Saudi Arabia has agreed to an American request to provide a base to train moderate Syrian opposition fighters, American officials said on Wednesday.

“We now have the commitment from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to be a full partner in this effort — the train-and-equip program — to host that program,” said a senior Obama administration official, who added that discussions were underway to determine the specific site and other details.

Well that is just outstanding. I wonder what the Saudi motives really are. And these so called moderates in Syria. Just how moderate can they be if the Saudis are backing them?

I get the distinct feeling on some days that our government is lying to us. Most other days I believe they are not telling the truth.


It Has Nothing To Do With Islam

The Islamic State that is. According to our misesteemed Secretary of State, John fn Kerry. The Voice of America (which America?) has it.

Kerry said Islamic State jihadists claim to be fighting on behalf of Islam, but said the group’s activities have nothing to do with Islam. He said, “Its message of hate is rejected” by the majority of Muslims around the world.

Shouldn’t some one inform Mr. Kerry that Hamas hasn’t gotten the message?

Hamas published a “Covenant” of 36 articles on August 18, 1988, that details its aims and ideology precisely. Its philosophy is rooted in the totalitarianism and radical anti-Semitism that has undergirded Islamism since its rise in the 1930s and 1940s. Far from moderating its core ideology, Hamas’ seizure of power in 2007 gave it the opportunity to make policy based on its guiding goal—namely, the destruction the state of Israel.1 But even though the Covenant is the declaration of intent of a group now governing millions of people, it goes unnoticed by reporters, editors, and pundits who race to comment on Hamas’ war with Israel.

And how about the Wahhabis (rulers of Saudi Arabia) vs the Salafists (the Islamic State people). According to the wiki they are the same people.

For more discussion head over to Samizdata which got me started on the topic of our idiot leaders. The title of the discussion? Are these people stupid or do they think other people are?


Two groups I admire

Few things horrify me more than people who do as they are told. (Well, maybe the people who tell people what to do, but they wouldn’t have any power if they were ignored.)

So, there are two groups of stubborn humans whom I especially admire.

1) Smokers; and

2) Dog owners who refuse to castrate their male dogs.

Regardless of what anyone thinks about these behaviors, the fact that there are people who do them despite overwhelming pressure not to kind of renews my faith.





Some things must never be forgotten.


Hey, at least I tried

This is really hard.

I spent much of the day trying, but I’m just not coordinated enough to really make it work well. By the time I get the thing hovering, it runs out of juice to keep it up.

(I guess the same could be said about many of us, haha.)

MORE: Fortunately for me, Runty the dog does not attack my “drone.” For whatever reason, he sees it as a sort of friend.

I envy today’s youth. It took me hours of repeated crashing before I started to get the hang of flying that thing. The hardest part was making the damned video, because it takes two hands to operate the controller sticks on the transmitter, and another to operate the camera! I still don’t know how I managed to do it.


Police Militarization

We militarized the police to fight a war on those people.

The hearing, convened to probe “police militarization” in the wake of the police response to protests in Ferguson, Mo., focused on three federal programs designed to help local police departments respond to drug crime and terrorist attacks. Lawmakers and witnesses suggested that programs have run amok, haphazardly doling out military equipment that has transformed some local police into paramilitary forces.

Is the government going to ask for its equipment back?



So it appears Scotland may actually go independent this month.

Irrespective of how this particular vote unfolds, hyperlocalization is one of the most promising trends in our global political evolution. As much I disagree with most of the Yes crowd’s policies, which include some of the most retrograde statist notions, independence for Scotland means government will be more accountable to Scots — and Scots will be accountable for the government their voter preferences produce.

Democracy is a process, not an event, and building better institutions is very, very hard. As Milton Friedman said, it’s not about electing the right people, it’s about getting the wrong people to do the right thing. Accountability evolves naturally when voters have more stake and more say in the outcome.

Sweden is often held up democratic socialism’s poster boy, and certainly does it better than Greece or Spain or Venezuela. Perhaps not coincidentally, Sweden’s fairly successful brand of socialism involves a fairly radical level of local accountability.

Yesterday, the USSR. Today, Scotland, Kurdistan, and Quebec. Tomorrow… the Independent Republic of Greater Texas?

UDPATE: John Fund agrees. (Well, probably not about Texas.)

There were strains and disputes in the Czech-Slovak divorce, especially over jointly owned gold reserves, but after a few years all was sorted out. Back then, Czechs viewed the Slovaks as more statist and slower to seize economic opportunities than they were. But today, both countries have shown remarkable improvement in the Heritage Foundation’s Index of Economic Freedom; and last year, Slovakia’s economy grew by 2.1 percent — three and a half times faster than it’s grown in the Czech Republic.

“We are doing very well,” Miroslav Lajcak, Slovakia’s deputy prime minister, told the BBC last year. “The Czech republic is doing well, and our friendship is better than ever,” he said.

Slovakia’s population of 5.4 million is almost precisely that of Scotland, and its success shows how small countries can do well on their own.

There was also one other tangible benefit of separation to Slovakia, though it’s one many don’t want to discuss. “After we became independent, people couldn’t blame every problem on Prague anymore or look to it for subsidies,” a former top minister in Slovakia’s government told me. “We had to drop some outmoded socialist thinking and scapegoating and stand on our own two feet.”



My Computer Has Died

My four year old Gateway hard drive has given up the ghost. I have spare hard drives and backups but I can’t get them to install. Pity. It is a very nice machine. If anyone has an old Win 7 machine they wan to get rid of my e-mail is on the sidebar here.

Well OK. I put this up on an unfamiliar computer. I got the html wrong. Ever so slightly. In any case I’m back up and working. Restoration is complete. I was just in a rush in unfamiliar territory. I have since slowed down and things are going faster.



I drove from Berkeley to LA, where I’ve been for the better part of a week. It’s sweltering hot, which is normal for this time of year.

Such is life.

MORE: The dog passed an IQ test with flying colors.


Awesome Little Devil

3D Printed Devil
Made with a 3D printer. Details of the project can be found here.

I have designed a set of electronics – motor drivers and master controller for 3D printers and table top CNC machine tools. You can read about them at the bottom of this page.


Fast Food Workers Push For Automation

Well that is not what they think they doing. They think they are striking for higher wages.

The next round of strikes by fast-food workers demanding higher wages is scheduled for Thursday, and this time labor organizers plan to increase the pressure by staging widespread civil disobedience and having thousands of home-care workers join the protests.

The organizers say fast-food workers — who are seeking a $15 hourly wage — will go on strike at restaurants in more than 100 cities and engage in sit-ins in more than a dozen cities.

But by having home-care workers join, workers and union leaders hope to expand their campaign into a broader movement.

Home care workers? Doesn’t that mostly come out of government budgets? Well extorting taxpayers is never ending.

And what is this civil disobedience stuff? Do they plan on breaking windows or just tying up traffic?


Things You Can Do For Your Brain

The first mate sent me this link. I like # 6.

6. Too much TV: Watching TV is a ”no brain” activity and the research is compelling.


Nice Jewish Boy Sings A Sweet Tune

Another version

Happy Labour Day.


Huff Po Linked To

Back before the ‘net got irretrievably crazy I used to correspond with Ariana Huffington about the Drug War. She was putting on a drug war conference around 2000. Shadow political conventions she called them. I think she was still a Republican back then.

In any case the link was to this Reason article: The Literal War on Drugs.

It had this image:

Drug Warriors