A Father smokes Marijuana while his Baby Dies in Hot Parked Car

Posted by PITHOCRATES - August 31st, 2013

Week in Review

Every time someone dies from a gunshot the left screams we have to do something to get these guns out of the hands of people.  For if people didn’t have guns no one would die.  Because it’s not people killing people with guns.  It’s the guns that are killing people.  And the people shooting the guns just happen to be there.

This is the logic on the left.  But yet when kids die in hot cars or because of the neglect of stoned parents they don’t say anything about getting rid of cars.  Or getting rid of drugs (see Hot Car Baby Death: ‘Joint-Smoking Dad’ Charged posted 8/30/2013 on Sky News).

A father has been accused of leaving his baby to suffocate in a parked car in temperatures of 100F, as he smoked cannabis in a sports bar…

It was thought Gray was distracted and forgot about the boy.

But Mr Thompson said police later came to suspect Gray was smoking cannabis with a work companion during the time his son was in the vehicle.

Outside temperatures were about 100 degrees, but interior car temperatures are frequently much higher.

Parents sometimes forget about a child in the back seat of a car.  Usually when there is a change in routine.  People soon forget in their busy life that today they have the child.  Then accidents happen.  And the Democrats are to blame.

The cost of the welfare state has made it hard for a single income to raise a family.  Which is why children are spending so much time in cars.  Getting shuttled between childcare and home.  Like laundry going to and from the cleaners.  Just another chore to tend to.  Because taxes are so high today that a parent can’t stay at home to raise their children.  They have to get back to work as soon as they can.

And it’s been the Democrats who have been for the decriminalization of marijuana.  For two reasons.  A lot the hippies from the Sixties who spent their time then getting high still like to light up to get high.  When they’re not busy writing the curriculum for our children’s schools.  And it’s a great way to get the youth vote.  By being everything a kid’s parents are not.  Sure, kid, sex and getting high are okay.  You vote for us and we’ll make sex and drugs a simpler part of your life.  But how many frizzled parents do we want out there getting high when they drive?  With their child in the back seat?  No.  Nothing good can come from making it easier to drive and smoke marijuana.

If it saves just one child then it’s worth doing.  That’s what they say about restrictions on gun ownership.  And if it’s good for guns than it must be good for marijuana.  It needs to be banned.  For the children.

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The Cost of Higher Education rose Twice as Much as Health Care Costs

Posted by PITHOCRATES - August 31st, 2013

Week in Review

It’s bad enough that higher education is programming our kids to become good liberals.  But their getting rich in the process is just rubbing salt into the wound (see College Costs Surge 500% in U.S. Since 1985: Chart of the Day by Michelle Jamrisko & Ilan Kolet posted 8/26/2013 on Bloomberg).

The cost of higher education has surged more than 500 percent since 1985, illustrating why there have been renewed calls for change from both political parties.

The CHART OF THE DAY shows that tuition expenses have increased 538 percent in the 28-year period, compared with a 286 percent jump in medical costs and a 121 percent gain in the consumer price index. The ballooning charges have generated swelling demand for educational loans while threatening to make college unaffordable for domestic and international students.

What expenses does a college have?  There are shelters (i.e., buildings) where students sit and learn.  But shelter costs rose nowhere near the amount going to college did.  So it’s not the buildings.  So what else do colleges have?  That tuition pays for?  Excluding books and living expenses that are above and beyond tuition expenses?  Well, the only other thing they really have are people.

College administrators and college professors.  If the high tuition costs are not due the costs of the buildings on the college campus then we must be paying the people too much.  In pay and benefits.  So let’s crunch some numbers.

The average annual cost for a 4-year public college is about $18,000 (see The Average Cost of a U.S. College Education posted 8/24/2010 in US News and World Repot).  Based on a typical enrollment of 40,000 students that comes to an annual college revenue of $720,000,000.  If the college has $1.5 billion in debt on its books for capital improvements on average at 6% that comes to an annual interest expense of $90 million.  Let’s assume they retire $50 million in debt every year.  And their operating costs (everything else but pay and benefits for administrators and professors) are, say, $25 million.  Subtracting all this from the annual tuition revenue leaves $555 million for pay and benefits each year.  Assuming a professor/administrator for each 20 students that gives us 900 professors/administrators.  Dividing this into that $555 million gives us about $617,000 per professor/administrator annually.

This is just a rough estimate but it does give you an idea about the amount of money we’re talking about here.  Not all professors are making $617,000 but if you’re tenured you’re living well.  Very well.  And administrators typically live far better than tenured professors.  This is what students are going in debt for.  To give a privileged few a life others can only dream about.  Worse, a lot of these students who graduate have an unmarketable degree.  In an economy where employers are looking for people with math and science skills people with degrees in romantic languages or gender studies will not fare well.  But the people who sold them those degrees will be doing very well.  This is why we have a student loan debt problem.  Students took on enormous debt for a degree they can’t use.

Everyone loves to complain about the high cost of health care.  And demand that government do something about it.  Well, they did.  They gave us Obamacare.  Which promises to squeeze hospitals and doctors.  To make them do more for less.  Obamacare is so bad that it is causing some doctors to retire early.  Just so they don’t have to deal with it.  Yet the cost of college has gone up at twice the rate of health care costs.  But where is the outcry over that?  Where are the people demanding that government do something?   To squeeze those universities, professors and administrators?  Why should they get rich at providing education.  If doctors shouldn’t get rich saving lives why should educators be allowed to get rich selling unmarketable degrees?  Just why is it educators can get away with being the greediest of the greedy and escape government scrutiny?

Because they teach their students to be good liberals, that’s why.  And this is so valuable to Democrats that they are willing to raise the taxes on their constituents as much as it takes.  Because without the programming higher education provides few would vote Democrat.

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Redwoods and Sequoias love Global Warming

Posted by PITHOCRATES - August 31st, 2013

Week in Review

Trees love carbon dioxide.  They breathe it in.  And exhale oxygen.  Allowing us to breathe.  The more carbon dioxide they breathe the more oxygen we get.  The happier the trees are.  And the happier we are.  So this is no surprise (see Redwoods and sequoias thrive despite climate change posted 8/26/2013 on CBS News).

A four-year study by the Save the Redwoods League called “the Redwoods and Climate Change Initiative” found that due to changing environmental conditions, California’s coastal redwoods and giant sequoias are experiencing an unprecedented growth surge and have produced more wood over the past century than any other time in their lives.

Imagine that.  Man made the trees grow faster.  And here the global warming alarmists were wringing their hands over the deforestation of the rain forest.  When there is nothing to worry about.  For we are planting trees.  And now we know we can make those trees grow faster.  All we have to do is burn more fossil fuels.

The global warming alarmists can rest easy tonight.  For man’s carbon footprint isn’t killing the planet.  It’s making it grow like a son of a bitch.

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Chelsea Manning wants the Government he Betrayed to pay for her Hormone Therapy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - August 31st, 2013

Week in Review

Monty Python’s Life of Brian is a hilarious movie.  If you don’t own it buy it for your permanent collection.  When it came out it was blasphemous.  Religious groups hated and condemned it.  Which only made it more popular.  But who’s laughing now?  Probably not the left.  At least over this scene:

Funny, yes?  You want to laugh, yes?  But do you?  Can you?  Should you?

Bradley Manning’s recent conversion to Chelsea Manning makes this classic scene a bit impropriate these days.  Funny how time changes things.  First the left loved this movie.  As well as every man on the planet.  Except those with delicate religious sensitivities.  But today the left may have trouble laughing about poor Loretta and his struggle against reality (see The Fight for Trans Rights in the Military by Molly Knefel posted 8/26/2013 on the Rolling Stone).

In a statement released on August 22nd, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) argued that denying Manning access to hormone therapy – considered medically necessary care for the treatment of gender dysphoria – could be a violation of her Eighth Amendment rights protecting her from cruel and unusual punishment.

No, it isn’t.  If Manning was not imprisoned or in the military Manning would still not be getting treatment for gender dysphoria.  Would a free person unable to afford hormone therapy/gender reassignment surgery be inflicting cruel and unusual punishment on him or herself?  If so who would they sue?  A child dying from cancer is pretty cruel and unusual.  Should we be suing someone for that, too?

One trans* service member, a second-year medical student with a full scholarship from the U.S. Navy, feels that the DADT victory was incomplete. “I’m literally the same exact person I was before, the same feelings, experiences, abilities,” says Jai, who identifies as non-gendered and prefers gender-neutral pronouns, and plans to begin taking testosterone in September. “The only thing that has changed is the words that describe me, but now I’m deemed unfit for service…”

As a medical student, Jai feels especially astounded by the discrimination trans* people face when it comes to accessing necessary health care. “It’s comparable to a person with type II diabetes or hypothyroidism not having their medication covered,” Jai says. Jai, whose father was a career military serviceman, saw the Navy as an opportunity to go to medical school and serve a population that needed care. Now, they’re hoping to avoid being discharged until figuring out another way to pay for school.

People join the Air Force for free pilot lessons so they can get an airline job after their EAD.  Because it’s free.  And airlines like hiring former military pilots.  Medical school is costly, too.  But it’s free if you have a military scholarship.  Of course, because it is so costly the government makes your EAD 5 years instead of 4 (this was the way it used to be but things may be different today).  Making you serve as a military doctor for at least one more year before leaving the service for a more lucrative career in private medicine.

Back before the Gulf War this was a pretty cheap way to get a quality education.  It’s a little more risky these days.  As there are more shooting wars than before.  But some still do this.  And some serve in combat zones.  Earning every dime of Uncle Sam’s investment.  But the military is different than ordinary life.  It trains killers.  Who are expected to go out and kill without remorse.  And all of this attention to sexual orientation and gender issues distracts from the mission.  As we are discussing the poor feelings of someone in prison who for all intents and purposes committed treason instead of the harm to national security he did.  Which endangered our military people.  As well as create more anti-American hostility.

The military is not a place for social experimentation.  We have the greatest fighting force in the world.  Nay, in history.  We get great peace with that strength.  Because our enemies know that we can unleash lethal killing force anywhere our enemies may be.  This is what we want our enemies to be preoccupied with.  Trying to avoid the wrath of America’s military might.  Not the soap opera about the cruel and unusual punishment we’re inflicting on a prisoner because we’re not footing the bill for this prisoner’s sex change.

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Men tend to get Paid More than Women because of the High Cost of Maternity Leave

Posted by PITHOCRATES - August 31st, 2013

Week in Review

There was a movie in 1985 called Head Office.  It lampooned corporate America.  In it there was this one character who was dying from heart disease or something.  But he refused to take time off from work.  Because if he did someone else would get his job.  He’d rather take a chance on dying than risk losing his job.  Because the corporate world was that cutthroat.  There was always someone waiting in the wings to take your job.  Which is why you never wanted to miss work.  Because if someone else did your job for you when you were away and they did it better than you they might just keep your job.  Leaving you to start your corporate career all over again.  And often with less pay and fewer benefits.

That’s the way it used to be.  Today, it’s a bit different.  Especially if you’re a woman (see As a boss, maternity leave is a nightmare for employers by Josephine Fairley posted 8/28/2013 on The Telegraph).

There’s no denying, of course, that for companies – especially really small companies – maternity leave presents challenges. Suddenly, a key team member isn’t there. And even more challengingly, there’s no way to know if she’s coming back – which makes it hard to plan for the future…

Right now, it isn’t legal to ask a pregnant woman whether she’s even thinking of coming back to work. There’s no imperative for her proactively to tell you proactively – never mind before the birth, but right up to the time that the 52 weeks of maternity leave are up. And my observation is that’s partly what makes it so hard to plan, and accommodate, a woman who’s on maternity leave…

I know several women who’ve returned to work after a few months, never mind a year of maternity leave, feeling like they’d landed on Mars because so much had changed while they were away.

52 weeks of maternity leave?  And they don’t have to say whether they’re coming back to work?  The boss can come in one day and find a key employee will leave for an extended absence in 6 months time?  And not know if she will ever return to work?

So they have to hire someone temporarily.  Who they will have to let go if she comes back from maternity leave.  Even if this temporary person turns out to be better in that position.  So a person that they hired and trained so well that they are better than the person they filled in for must lose his or her job.  Someone who may have taken that position because they didn’t expect that person to return from maternity leave.  And because it was the best job available at the time they took that chance.  Only to find the year they invested there was a year out of their life that they could have spent somewhere else.  Building a career where their hard work was rewarded.  Then spend time and resources training the woman returning from maternity leave.  So she can understand all the changes that happened in her absence.

This is why men tend to get paid more when they compare salaries.  First of all, with a lot of women taking maternity leave it does bring down the women’s average income when they take a year or two of income earning years out of their career.  And secondly, who do you think an employer will want to hire?  Someone that they have to accommodate for up to a year in maternity leave?  Or someone that isn’t going to walk in and say “I’m going to have a baby in 6 months”?  If they are working on a 2 year project they don’t want to worry about a key team member leaving in the middle of it.  It may be unfair.  But men can’t get pregnant.  They can do a lot of stupid things to ruin a big project just as women can.  But women have that one other variable.  That a business owner can’t have a contingency for.  What are they going to do?  Have two people doing the job of one in case one of them goes on maternity leave?  What if it’s two women and they go on maternity leave at the same time?  Do you have to make sure that one of the two people doing the job of one person is a man?  So he will always be available if the woman goes on maternity leave?  Of course, you know where that will take you.  Why not just hire a man and have one person do the job of one person?  And remove the need for any contingency in the first place?

Business owners hate uncertainty.  Pregnancy creates uncertainty.  This isn’t a man versus a woman issue.  A battle of the sexes.  For women own businesses, too.  And hate uncertainty just as any other business owner.  Some may make a stand for women in the workplace.  Hire women into key positions then deal with their maternity leave.  But they, too, would probably prefer hiring a man in some key positions.  So they can just worry about the usual things.  Like losing a key employee who leaves for a better paying job.  Of course if they do they at least can immediately start interviewing a replacement.  Without waiting 52 weeks.

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FT185: “When it comes to foreign policy the Republicans do what is best for the country while Democrats do what is best for their party.” —Old Pithy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - August 30th, 2013

Fundamental Truth

Wherever the Soviets pushed the Americans pushed back to Contain the Expansion of Communism

Once upon a time Democrats were practically warmongers.  Woodrow Wilson got us into World War I.  FDR got us into World War II.  Harry Truman got us into the Korean War.  And LBJ got us into the Vietnam War.  While Republicans were nearly pacifists.  Dwight Eisenhower got us out of the Korean War.  And Richard Nixon got us out of the Vietnam War.

Eisenhower was the Supreme Allied Commander in Europe during World War II.  Saw the carnage of war up close.  And was glad when it was over.  Unlike General Patton.  Who wanted to invade the Soviet Union.  Because he knew we would have to fight them sooner or later.  And rather do it then when they had the most awesome military force in the world still in Europe.  General Patton lost command of Third Army because of talk like that.  And later would die from injuries he got in a freak car accident.

It didn’t take long following the end of World War II for the Soviets to become the new big bad in town.  Just like General Patton foresaw.  Truman stood up to them in Berlin.  Greece.  Turkey.  Iran.  And Korea.  Wherever they pushed the Americans tried to hold the line.  To contain the expansion of communism.  It was the Cold War.  And it first got hot in Korea.  But the UN forces held the line in Korea.  After three years of war.  About as long as America spent fighting in Europe during World War II.

JFK’s refusal to commit American Military Power during the Bay of Pigs Invasion led to the Cuban Missile Crisis

Communism was a thorn in the side of democracy.  The democratic West believed in peace through strength.  With the occasional war breaking the peace.  While the communist East believed in a perpetual state of war with the occasional peace breaking that war.  The communists sought to expand through violent revolution.  If you contained it early (like in the Berlin Airlift) you could avoid a shooting war.  And keep it cold.  But if they got a foothold you could find yourself mired in a hot and prolonged war.  Like in Korea.

When Fidel Castro turned Cuba communist it was not a good thing for the United States.  For all their efforts to contain communism throughout the world here they were.  On Cuba.  Within missile range of the United States.  And Castro was cozying up to the Soviets.  Which is why President Eisenhower gave the green light for the CIA to remove Castro from power.  To remove a threat so close to the United States.  The plan was the Bay of Pigs Invasion.  Which proceeded under the following administration.  JFK’s.

The invasion, though, did not go well.  And unlike in the Guatemalan coup d’état, JFK did not commit American military power to help the invaders (unlike Eisenhower did in the Guatemalan coup).  Who were soon pushed back.  And defeated.  Which breathed new life in Cuba’s communist revolution.  Brought them more into the Soviet sphere.  And encouraged the Soviets to test this young president.  Which they did.  By sending nuclear missiles to Cuba.  Leading to the Cuban Missile Crisis.  And near nuclear war (Castro’s right hand man, Che Guevara, was angry with the Soviets because they refused to nuke the United States during the crisis).  While the Cuban people suffered under their communist oppressors.  And still do.

Today Iran—and Radical Islam—is the Thorn in the Side of Democracy that Communism once Was

Truman was the last Democrat warrior president.  LBJ got us into Vietnam.  But he also gave us the Great Society.  Turning the nation towards a welfare state.  A very costly welfare state.  Which the great costs of the Vietnam War threatened.  The government, much like they did during the Revolutionary War, began printing money to pay for all of this spending.  Devaluing a dollar pegged to gold.  With nations concerned with this devaluation they traded their dollars for gold.  Which is what is supposed to happen under a gold standard.  So nations don’t devalue their currencies.  But printing money is easier than cutting spending.  So President Nixon decoupled the dollar from gold.  So they could really print it.  Giving us the inflationary Seventies.

Since then Democrat presidents have done two things.  Expanded the welfare state.  And demonized their political opponents.  Which extended to their foreign policy.  President Carter cut back on defense spending.  And tried to make friends with our archenemy.  The Soviet Union.  A president the Soviets had little respect for.  Even considering a nuclear first-strike policy as they didn’t think Carter would ever launch his nuclear weapons.  And then President Carter criticized American ally, Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, the Shah of Iran, for his human rights violation.  There was revolutionary fervor in the air.  The Shah implored for help from their long-time friend and ally.  The United States.  Who assured the Shah that the Americans would intervene militarily on his behalf.  But didn’t.  The Iranian Revolution followed.  And Iran became America’s new archenemy.

Iranian oil won World War II.  It fed the Red Army.  Iran served as a portal into the Soviet Union.  War material as well as oil flowed through Iran and into the Soviet Union.  After the war the Soviets didn’t want to leave Iran.  Give up that oil.  Or a warm-weather port on the Indian Ocean.  But the British and the Americans helped the Iranians keep the Soviets at bay.  Their actions included a coup.  And some human rights violations.  To keep what happened in Eastern Europe following World War II from happening in Iran.  Iran prospered.  And Westernized.  It was becoming everything the American left loved.  Secular.  It was becoming more like America.  Where men and women enjoyed doing things they could enjoy in New York City.  Which angered the Islamists.

Today Iran—and radical Islam—is the thorn in the side of democracy that communism once was.  And unlike their Cold War warrior forefathers, today’s Democrats choose party over country.  Basing their foreign policy on expanding the welfare state.  Or demonizing their political opponents.  President Clinton treated al Qaeda’s increasing acts of hostility against Western/American interests as a legal issue.  Which grew bolder until they culminated in the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.  Clinton did this so he wouldn’t waste money on defense by risking war to protect America.  Or anger his liberal base.  After 9/11, George W. Bush fought back.

The Democrats have demonized George W. Bush as a rich oil man who traded blood for oil.  While at the same time they said he was purposely causing oil shortages to raise the price of oil.  When an opportunity came to overthrow America’s new archenemy, Iran, President Obama did nothing to support the Green Revolution in Iran following questionable election results that kept Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in power.  An intervention that would have been in the best interests of both America and the Iranian people.  But when the Arab Spring blew through Egypt he was quick to tell our friend and ally, Hosni Mubarak, that he had to go.  Turning Egypt over to the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood.  But when civil war came to Syria he chose to do nothing.  Until now (to save face from his ‘red line’ comment about chemical weapons?).  When the opposition has most probably been infiltrated by al Qaeda.

What is the constant in these Democrat foreign policy decisions?  They are the opposite of what the Republicans would have done.  So they couldn’t have done them.  For it would have vindicated George W. Bush.  Angered their liberal base.  And made the world a safer place.

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Racist Democrats and Desegregationist Republicans

Posted by PITHOCRATES - August 29th, 2013

Politics 101

The Way to Great Wealth in the South was King Cotton

At the recent 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech most if not all of the speakers were liberal Democrats.  As if the Republicans were not welcomed there.  Funny.  As it was the Republicans who battled the Democrats to end slavery, Jim Crowe Laws and discrimination.

America’s original sin, slavery, was a part of the Old World southern planters did not want to give up.  It was very similar to the manorial system of Europe.  Where peasants were tied to the land.  On a manor.  Unable to leave.  Land that a rich landowner owned.  The lord of the manor.  Property and status were hereditary.  And the peasants at the bottom of the ladder had neither.

The lords belonged to the aristocracy.  The nobility.  They lived in glorious mansions.  Gave magnificent parties.  And enjoyed the best of everything.  Courtesy of owning land.  The peasants worked the land.  And produced the greatest wealth in the kingdom for their lord.  Food.  In the American South this soon became cotton.  King Cotton.  The way to great wealth in the South was growing cotton.  And the more slaves you had the more noble your life was.

The Founding Fathers wanted to Eradicate Slavery at the Time of the Founding

Things were different in the North.  Years of growing tobacco had depleted the land.  So they diversified.  Grew different crops.  And rotated the crops around.  This required a more specialized workforce as things changed from year to year.  And few farms grew one large cash crop anymore.  So they turned to paid-labor.  Which was more efficient.  So while the South held on to the Old World the North became more egalitarian.

The Founding Fathers knew that a nation based on all men being equal could not include the institution of slavery.  They wanted to eradicate it at the time of the drafting of the Constitution.  But that created a problem with the South.  At the time of the Founding their economy was dependent on slavery.  And because it was they had more slaves than the North.  So freeing the slaves would not only destroy their economy it would force the South to live in a biracial society that was unheard of at that time.  Nowhere in the world were there biracial societies.  Not to mention the fact that the freed blacks would outnumber the whites.  The very same whites that once brutally oppressed the blacks.

To form a more perfect union they needed the southern states.  Which they had to take as-is.  With the institution of slavery.  It was a bitter pill to swallow.  As some of these Founding Fathers, especially the ones that didn’t own slaves, were conscious of the history books that would one day be written.  As well as being truly opposed to slavery.  But the choice was a new nation with slavery.  Or no new nation.  And continued sectional disputes.  Even hostilities.  Making them ripe for European intrigue.  Especially from the Old World Empires who wanted to expand their empires into North America.

The Republicans Freed the Slaves, Fought against Jim Crowe Laws and Desegregated the South

So the Founding Fathers tabled the subject of slavery for 20 years.  Sure that in 20 years time the South would adopt paid labor as they did in the North.  Sadly, a great invention changed all that.  The cotton gin.  Which could process cotton faster than slaves could pick it.  King Cotton promised more wealth than ever before.  All you needed was a lot of slaves.  Dashing the hopes of the Founding Fathers.

Wealth.  Nobility.  Life was good for the privileged few in the South.  The planter elite.  The southern Democrats.  Who used the power of the federal government to return fugitive slaves.  Then bitched about the federal government after they lost control of it.  The planter elite brought the nation to civil war.  To preserve the institution of slavery.  To keep the Old World in the South.  To keep the nobility in the South.  With them sitting at the top of the aristocracy.  But then came the Republicans.  And Abraham Lincoln.  Who issued the Emancipation Proclamation.  Freeing the slaves in the states in open rebellion.  Then Ulysses S. Grant won the American Civil War.  The Republicans pushed for and ratified the Thirteenth Amendment.  Abolishing slavery and involuntary servitude.  Then Republican President Grant sent federal troops into the South to protect the freed blacks.  As the racist southern Democrats resisted integrating the freed blacks into the South.  Eventually passing Jim Crowe Laws.  Making the freed blacks a permanent underclass with the Democrats’ separate but equal status of the freed blacks.

Democrat Storm Thurmond has the record for the longest filibuster in U.S. history.  He talked for 24 hours and 18 minutes in his opposition of the Civil Rights Act of 1957.  For he wanted to keep blacks separate but equal.  The southern Democrats opposition to civil rights was so strong that it prevailed through JFK’s administration.  Who did nothing for civil rights lest he go against the powerful southern Democrats.  Despite all the Republicans did the Democrats kept the black man down in the South.  Dr. King fought against segregation in Albany, Georgia, in 1962.  And suffered brutal police oppression in Birmingham, Alabama, that same year.  Things were so bad during JFK’s administration that Dr. King helped organized the 1963 March on Washington.  Where he gave his famous “I Have a Dream” speech.  But real change would have to wait until Republican Richard Nixon became president.  Who implemented the first large-scale desegregation of public schools in the Democrat-controlled South.  And Nixon implemented the first affirmative action plan.  The Philadelphia plan.

Yet despite all of this the Democrats claim the title of champion of civil rights.  And dominated the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech.  Even though it was the Republicans who freed the slaves, fought against Jim Crowe Laws and desegregated the South.  While the Democrats fought them every step of the way.  Yet the Democrats are civil rights champions.  While Republicans are racists.  What’s wrong with this picture?

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Visible Light, Additive Coloring, Subtractive Coloring, Printing and Pointilism

Posted by PITHOCRATES - August 28th, 2013

Technology 101

Our Eyes see Shades of Gray with Rods and Color with Cones

If you have colorful flower gardens all around your home and go out at night you won’t see much.  Only shades of gray.  You’ll see none of the vibrant colors of your flowers.  The moonlight, streetlights, the neighbor’s security lights, your landscaping lights, etc., will provide enough lighting so you can see your flowers.  But you won’t be able to see their colors well.  If at all.

If you go out with the bright afternoon sun shining down it’s a different story.  You can see the color.  Rich, vibrant color.  Because of the cones in your eyes.  Which can see color.  As long as it is bright enough.  Unlike the rods in your eyes.  Which work well in low light levels.  Letting you see shades of gray in low light levels.  But saturate at high light levels.  Which is where the cones take over.

Light is electromagnetic radiation.  And the key to color is the wavelength.  What is a wavelength?  Think of a guitar.  If you pluck a thick string it vibrates at one frequency.  If you pluck a thin string it vibrates at a higher frequency.  The thick string will move back and forth at a greater distance (and a slower speed) as it vibrates than the thin string.  So the thick string has a longer wavelength than the thin string.  This is a crude explanation.  But the takeaway from this is this.  As frequency decreases wavelength increases.  As frequency increases wavelength decreases.

Different Wavelengths of Light have Unique Colors and are a Small Portion of the Electromagnetic Spectrum

Light is electromagnetic radiation.  Different wavelengths of light have unique colors and are a small portion of the electromagnetic spectrum.  If you ever conducted an experiment in grade school where you passed a white light through a prism (or if you saw the cover of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon) you saw this.  White light enters the prism and a ‘rainbow’ of colors exits the prism.  Violet on the bottom.  And red at the top.  This is the visible light spectrum.  From violet (the smallest wavelength) to blue to green to yellow to orange to red (the largest wavelength).  Wavelengths smaller than violet are ultraviolet, X-rays and gamma rays.  Wavelengths larger than red are infrared, microwave, FM, AM and long radio waves.

In low light levels rods can make out things in shades of gray.  But cannot distinguish color.  As the light intensity increases the rods saturate and lose their ability to see.  While at the same time the cones begin to see.  There are three types of rods in the eye.  Those that see long wavelengths (around the color red).  Those that see medium wavelengths (around the color green).  And those that see short wavelengths (around the color blue).  These are the primary colors of light.  Red, green and blue.  If you add any combinations of these light wavelengths together you can get any color in the visible spectrum.  The cones will ‘see’ a color based on the combination of wavelengths they sense.  If the cones sense only red and green the eye will see yellow.  If the cones sense all wavelengths equally the eye will see white.

If you’ve ever bought a color inkjet cartridge, though, you may be saying this isn’t right.  Inkjet cartridge packaging has three dots of color on them.  None of them green.  There’re red, blue and yellow.  Not red, blue and green.  Green isn’t a primary color.  Yellow is.  And that is true.  When it comes to painting.  Or printing.  Or dyeing.  That uses subtractive coloring.  Where we use dyes, inks and pigments to absorb light wavelengths.  A blue paint, for example, will absorb wavelengths of all colors but blue.  So when you look at something dyed, printed or painted blue only the blue wavelength of the source light (such as the sun) reflects onto the cones in your eye.  The other wavelengths from the source light get absorbed in the dyes, inks and pigments.  And don’t reflect onto the cones in your eyes.

Our Brain blends Wavelengths of Color together into a Continuous Color Image

Artists mix paints together on a palette.  Each individual paint absorbs a set of wavelengths.  When mixed together they absorb different wavelengths.  Allowing the artist to create a large palette of colors.  The artist applies these colors to a canvas to produce a beautiful work of art.  But not all artists.  Georges Seurat didn’t mix colors together for his masterpiece.  A Sunday on La Grande Jatte.  The subject of Stephen Sondheim’s musical Sunday in the Park with George.  Where George explains the technique he used.  Pointilism.

Instead of mixing paints together to make colors Seurat applied these paints unmixed onto the canvas.  And let the eye mix them together.  The individual pigments absorbed all wavelengths but the desired color.  As these different wavelengths of different intensities fell onto the cones the brain blended these dots of color together.  In the musical George (Mandy Patinkin in the original Broadway cast available on DVD) shows someone what the painting looks like up close.  A bunch of dots of different colors.  And then moves backward with him.  As they do the dots blend together into a rich palette of colors.  Producing a beautiful painting.

In 4-color printing we use a combination of these techniques.  Where they reproduce a color photograph by blending the three primary colors (red, blue and yellow) and black.  The original photograph is broken down into its primary colors.  Before digital printing this was done with photography and color filters.  One for each primary color.  They then made screens for each color.  To vary the intensity of each color they broke solid colors into dots.  The amount of white paper showing between the dots of ink lightened the shade of the color.  The paper runs through a press that adds each of the primary colors onto the image.  Overlapping colors to produce different colors.  Subtracting wavelengths to produce a color image.  With the brain blending these colors together to reproduce the original color photograph.  (They added black to make a cleaner image than they could by mixing the inks together to make black.)

Video displays are more like pointilism.  Televisions in the days of picture tubes had three electron guns repeatedly scanning the phosphorus coating on the inside of the picture tube.  Each gun hit one of three different colors of phosphorus.  Red, blue and green.  These dots of phosphorus glowed at different intensities.  Each pixel on the screen has one dot of each phosphorus color.  The three colors blend together into one color pixel.  We use different technology today to produce the same wavelengths of red, blue and green.  That produce a color image.  That falls on the cones in our eyes.  With our brain blending these pixels of color together into a continuous image.

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Kings, Court and Civil Servants

Posted by PITHOCRATES - August 27th, 2013

History 101

(Originally published June 4th, 2013)

King Louis XVI became the Face of the Ancien Régime during a Period of Great Debt from Decades of War

“It’s good to be the king.”  For you can pretty much do anything you want.  Right up to the point your subjects go French Revolution all over your ass.

“It’s good to be the king” was a constant refrain in the classic Mel Brooks movie History of the World: Part I.  During the French Revolution the people arrested King Louis XVI and his wife Marie Antoinette.  And sent them both to the guillotine.  Even though Louis was not really that bad of a king.  Certainly not like Mel Brooks portrayed him in his movie.  He even tried to modernize France with Enlightenment ideals.  And made America’s independence from Great Britain possible.

Louis had some faults.  But it was more bad timing.  Being the face of the Ancien Régime during a period of great debt from decades of war.  High taxes.  And the occasional famine.  The people had suffered for a long time.  In large part thanks to Louis’ predecessor.  Who fought a lot of wars.  And ran up a lot of debt.  While losing most of New France to Great Britain.  Losing a source of wealth and income just as the bill for all those wars were coming due.

Court was where all the Movers and Shakers Gathered

King Louis XIV (aka, Louis the Great; aka, the Sun King) ruled for 72 years and 110 days.  One of the longest reigns in European history.  He believed in the divine right of kings.  Which stated kings answered to no one but God.  Louis XIV created one of the most powerful absolute monarchies in Europe.  He transformed the Palace of Versailles into one of the largest and most lavish palaces in the world.  And moved his court there.  Where it remained until the French Revolution.

The king’s court was an extended household.  Where the king’s blood family lived.  And all the bureaucrats that helped him run his personal life.  And his kingdom.  For not only is it good to be the king it can be very exhausting to be the king.  Officials took care of business at court.  World leaders sent their ambassadors to court to handle their international business.  And officials from around the country went to court to settle domestic business.  Court was where all the movers and shakers gathered.  And the Palace of Versailles was home to a lot of treaty writing.

This required a large palace to accommodate these people.  And a lavish one to impress them.  To make their image abroad more glorious.  These people needed spaces to live in.  And food to eat.  As did the king.  Who had the finest quarters.  And when he got up in the morning he did not make his own bed.  One of the thousands of his servants attended to that.  For running one of the world’s largest palaces took a lot of servants.  And a lot of organization.

It is Good for your Career to be Close to, and Loyal to, the Person who holds the most Power in the Land

As households grew larger nobles and royals established household offices.  And a big part of these larger households and courts was feeding the people.  Kitchens had a pantry for foods and a buttery for beverages.  A pantler ran the office of the pantry.  And a butler ran the office of the buttery.  Beneath these were other offices.  At the top in charge of managing the household was the chamberlain.  Some of these were positions with a lot of responsibility.  But, surprisingly, some other positions people probably wouldn’t want today were even more powerful.

The cup bearer was very intimate with the king.  And was someone the king trusted with his life.  For the cup bearer served the king drinks at the royal table.  With there always being someone who wanted to kill the king someone had to make sure that didn’t happen through poison in the king’s cup.  Sometimes, just to be sure, he had to drink from the king’s cup before the king did.  To prove it was poison-free.  Making the cup bearer one of the closest confidants of the king.

Then there was the groom of the stool.  The most intimate of the king’s servants.  Who spent time with the king while he was on the toilet.  And de-soiled the king’s bottom after a royal poop.  Only the most trustworthy people could be the groom of the stool.  For no one was closer to the king.  Who knew the king’s secrets.  Because he heard them directly from the king.  And people feared him.  For he could tell the king anything they said or did.  Making this one of the most coveted positions in the king’s court.

When the United States won their independence from Great Britain the king was no longer sovereign.  The people were.  So the king’s court became our civil servants today.  But they don’t physically wipe the president’s bottom these days.  Today they just kiss it.  Figuratively, of course.  Because despite the changes it is still good for your career to be close to, and loyal to, the person who holds the most power in the land.

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Wind Turbines versus a Coal-Fired Power Plant

Posted by PITHOCRATES - August 26th, 2013

Economics 101

The Diameter of a 6 Megawatt 3-Blade Rotor is Greater than two 747-400s parked Wingtip to Wingtip

One of the largest coal-fired power plants in the world is in Macon, Georgia.  Plant Scherer.  Whose furnaces consume some 31,000 tons of coal a day.  Producing 3,500 megawatts of electric power.  Enough to power three good sized American cities.  A few million households.

One of the largest offshore wind turbines available on the market is 6 megawatt.  Which is huge.  One blade can be as long as 250 feet.  A typical 3-blade rotor can have a diameter of just over 500 feet.  To get a feel of this magnitude the wingspan of the world’s most common jumbo jet, the Boeing 747-400, is about 211 feet.  Which means one blade of a 6 megawatt wind turbine is longer than the wingspan of a Boeing 747-400.  And the diameter of a 3-blade rotor is greater than two 747-400s parked wingtip to wingtip.

A 6 megawatt wind turbine requires a tower of about 300 feet tall.  So the blades can spin without hitting the ground.  Which is about the same height of a 20 story building.  And if it’s an offshore turbine you can add another 2 stories or so for the tower below the surface of the water.  So these things are big.  And tall.  Some of the largest manmade machines built.  And some of the most costly.  It takes a huge investment to install a 6 megawatt wind turbine.  That can only produce 0.171% of the electric power that Plant Scherer can produce.

There is a Small Window of Wind Velocities that we can use to Generate Electric Power with Wind Turbines

So how many 6 megawatt turbines does it take to match the power output of Plant Scherer?  Well, to match the nameplate capacity you’ll need about 584 turbines.  If we install these offshore in a line that line would extend some 56 miles.  About an hour’s drive time at 55 mph.  Which is a very long line of very large and very costly wind turbines.

We said ‘nameplate capacity’ for a reason.  If 584 wind turbines were spinning in the right kind of wind they could match the output of Plant Scherer.  And what is the right kind of wind?  Not too slow.  And not too fast.  These turbines have gear boxes to speed up the rotational speed of the rotors.  And they vary the pitch of the blades on the rotors.  So the turbine can keep a constant rotational input to the electric generator.  If the wind is blowing slower than optimum the blades can catch more air to spin faster.  If the wind is blowing pretty strong the blades will turn to catch less air to spin slower.

In other words, there is a small window of wind velocities that we can use to generate electric power with wind turbines.  Too slow or no wind at all they produce no power.  If the wind is too great the blades turn parallel to the wind.  So the wind blows across the blades without turning them.  They also have brakes to lock down the rotors in very high winds to prevent any damage.  So if a storm blows through 584 offshore turbines they’ll produce no electric power.  Which means they can’t replace a Plant Scherer.  They can only operate with a Plant Scherer in backup.  To provide power then the winds just aren’t right.

The more Wind Turbines we install the more Costly our Electric Power Gets

Now back to that nameplate capacity.  This is the amount of power a power plant could produce.  It doesn’t mean what it will produce.  The capacity factor divides actual power produced over a period of time with the maximum amount of power that could have been produced.  A coal-fired power plant has a higher capacity factor than a wind turbine.  Because they can produce electricity pretty much whenever we want them to.  While a wind turbine can only produce electricity when the winds are blowing not too slow and not too fast.

So, if the winds aren’t blowing, or if they’re blowing too strongly, it is as if those wind turbines aren’t there.  Which means something else must be there.  Something more reliable.  Something that isn’t weather-dependent.  Such as a Plant Scherer.  In other words, even if we installed 584 turbines to match the output of Plant Scherer we could never get rid of Plant Scherer.  Because there will be times when those windmills will produce no power.  Requiring Plant Scherer to produce power as if we never had installed those wind turbines.  And because it takes time to bring a coal-fired power plant on line it has to keep burning coal even when the wind turbines are providing power.  So it can be ready to provide power when the windmills stop spinning.

Wind may be free but 584 wind turbines cost a fortune to install.  And this investment is in addition to the cost of building, maintaining and operating a coal-fired power plant like Plant Scherer.  All of which the consumer has to pay for.  Either in their electric bill (adding a surcharge for ‘clean energy investments’).  Or in higher taxes (property tax, income tax, etc.) that pays for renewable energy grants and subsidies.  Which means the more wind turbines we build the poorer we get.  Because we have duplicate power generation capacity when a single power plant could have sufficed.

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