Saturday, February 28, 2009

Winds on Titan

NASA has just discovered which direction the wind blows on Titan, one of the moons of Saturn. And at CPAC the Republican Party has set new records for blowing wind, but the direction has yet to be determined.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Obama on the Economy

As much as I like having Barack Obama in the White House, and as much as I loved and admired his speech Tuesday night, I still think his economic policy overall and with respect to the financial sector is appalling. Either he doesn’t understand the problem, or he is catering to some power group and is unwilling to cross them in addressing the solution.
The concern is that, if we do not re-start lending in this country, our recovery will be choked off before it even begins. You see, the flow of credit is the lifeblood of our economy. The ability to get a loan is how you finance the purchase of everything from a home to a car to a college education, how stores stock their shelves, farms buy equipment, and businesses make payroll.

But credit has stopped flowing the way it should. Too many bad loans from the housing crisis have made their way onto the books of too many banks. And with so much debt and so little confidence, these banks are now fearful of lending out any more money to households, to businesses, or even to each other.

First, an economy for which the “lifeblood” is “the flow of credit” and that depends almost entirely on consumer spending is a piss poor economy. Obama is not trying to restructure a new economy, he is trying to restart the same old economy that failed. We have been spending more than we have been earning, consuming more than producing, and doing these as if there would never be any bill to pay. Well, the bill has arrived and Obama doesn’t want us to have to pay it. He wants to create more credit and more money, and restart the same process as if it won’t fail next time. He is restructuring everything else in our nation and merely tinkering with our failed economic model.

Don’t worry about another failure, though, because I don’t think there is a snowball’s chance in hell that he will get it restarted. To repeat his own words (emphasis mine),
And with so much debt and so little confidence, these banks are now fearful of lending out any more money to households, to businesses, or even to each other.

His solution to restart lending is to simply pump more money into the banks. We’ve already done that and they didn’t start lending. Of course they didn’t; did he not hear his own “with so much debt” part? Who are they going to lend it to?

Are they going to lend to the people with bad mortgages who are in the process of restructuring those mortgages or simply defaulting on them? To the five million people who are drawing unemployment benefits, or the millions more who are not working but who don’t qualify for benefits?

Maybe they will lend it to Ford, GM or Chrysler? Or to all of the other businesses as badly underwater as those are? Or to manufacturers who don’t want loans for new equipment because the equipment they have is already running at 50% of capacity and dropping?

So with more cash the banks will lend money to each other? Oh, great.

He’s got a grip on helping the “people who, through no fault of their own, owe more on their homes than those homes are worth.” Oh, good, 0.01% of the economic crisis has been solved.

BJ over at Newshoggers is saying what I’ve been saying since the mortgage default issue first became a big economic crisis.
In any case, if you want to start laying blame, take a close look at just what those “toxic assets” everybody is looking to offload are. They aren’t mortgages, because mortgages, even those in default, are easy enough to value. What they are, are derivatives and securitizations of the mortgages and other loans, often enough several times removed from the actual mortgage. Oddly enough, trying to determine the value of securities so far removed from the initial loans that you don’t even know what loans you’re covering turns out to be a lot more difficult than the wizards of Wall Street thought it would be.

If I own a paper that contains 20% of someone’s mortgage, how do I know that maybe a hundred or so other people don’t also own 20% of that same mortgage? Maybe only four others own 20% each, but the point is I don’t know, and therefor I cannot accurately place a value on my piece of paper. It is now a “toxic asset” and worth only what someone is willing to pay me for it, probably zero.

And when I buy “insurance” on my assets from a guy that is, in fact, a scammer selling bogus paper based on money he doesn’t have, how much are any of my insured assets worth once it becomes know that they are not insured. They also now are “toxic assets.”

Pay off those mortgages and what happens to those toxic assets? Right, they are still toxic because the cat is out of the bag and isn’t going back in. So helping those homeowners is all well and good, certainly it’s popular, but it does nothing toward solving our economic crisis.

JFK said that we chose to go to the moon not because it was easy, but specifically because it was hard and America does hard things. Obama has adopted that same theme, that we do that which is difficult because it is our nature to do so, and I applaud him for that. He applies that to the health care issue, to changing the way we use energy and to the way we educate our young people.

He still wants to fix our economy the easy way.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Dover Unveiled

You probably know that Gates announced today that media will be admitted to photograph the return of our fallen soldiers when they are brought home at Dover, subject to the approval of the families. More, perhaps, than anything else this Administration has done, this decision warmed my heart.

This was the right decision. Well done.

SLT on T with M

lego maniaOne would think that a Spam Lettuce and Tomato sandwich on Toast with Mayo would be a makeshift effort resulting from not having any bacon on hand. One would be wrong.

The Navy eats a lot of Spam, or at least the Submarine Service did circa 1960, and it is fashionable to say with raised eyebrows, "Oh I hate Spam because I got tired of eating it in the..." Whatever. I never got tired of it, which made my shipmates regard me as something of a freak. I would respond to the effect that they were unsophisticated clods with uneducated palates, which sometimes led to lively discussions at mealtimes.

What can I say? I like still Spam right out of the can or fried up nice and crisp, preferably in bacon drippings.

This was my lunch today, and it was awesome.

Health Care Conspiracy

Remember this in Obama’s speech to Congress, when he was talking about the health care issue?.
Now, there will be many different opinions and ideas about how to achieve reform. That's why I'm bringing together businesses and workers, doctors and health care providers, Democrats and Republicans to begin work on this issue next week.

I sat up and took notice because, to me it debunked what I had already become pretty sure was another piece of garbage reporting on the part of the New York Times. I saw the article on the day it appeared, which was Feb 19th, and was concerned by what it had to say. An excerpt,
Since last fall, many of the leading figures in the nation’s long-running health care debate have been meeting secretly in a Senate hearing room. Now, with the blessing of the Senate’s leading proponent of universal health insurance, Edward M. Kennedy, they appear to be inching toward a consensus that could reshape the debate.

Many of the parties, from big insurance companies to lobbyists for consumers, doctors, hospitals and pharmaceutical companies, are embracing the idea that comprehensive health care legislation should include a requirement that every American carry insurance.

It goes on to say that Republicans had been excluded and to stress that lobbyists and corporate executives were in charge, and to stress the highly secret nature of the meetings and how “Senate aides had threatened to expel anyone who divulged details of the work group.”

Before I started blogging a bunch of outraged posts about secret meetings and relating to energy meetings and the like, though, I decided to see if any other news agency was reporting this meeting or even any hints of anything similar. Guess what, not a trace. Not a hint. Anywhere. Today, a full week later, not one reporter from any news agency has picked up a hint of this.

And Obama is saying “…begin work on this issue next week.” Ha.

Obama on Health Care

On health care he hit it out of the park; tore the cover off the ball. Actually, I know he’s talking about universal health insurance and not the universal health care which I would prefer, so it’s less than ideal. But I will cheerfully take what he’s offering, and he took out a big hammer, whacked Congress over the head with it and said, “Wake up.”

Actually there are three separate arguments to be used in making the case for national health care, and he used the strongest one.

The first is that every person is entitled to health care. It’s a moral argument, and the problem with it is that is isn’t really discussible. One either believes it or one does not; there are no logical arguments for it one way or the other. I, surprisingly to some of my friends, do not subscribe to this position although I have no argument with those who do. I believe that it is a supportable position, I don’t happen to hold it, and I don’t disagree with you if you do.

The second argument is that if we are to hold to our claim of being a great nation then we must provide health care, among other things, to those who cannot provide it for themselves. This too is a moral argument that is without logical discussability; something that one either believes or one does not. This is a position that I hold with some degree of passion, so if you hold the first one the you and I are singing from the same hymn book, even if not on the exact same page.

The third argument is that we as a nation economically cannot afford not to do it, and President Obama made that case in a concise and convincing manner. There in an economic case to be made against as well, of course, and I’ll leave that in-depth discussion to others more knowledgeable than I. Obama presented clear and, to me, convincing economic arguments in favor and said clearly that this is where we should have the discussion. He took the discussion out of the hands of “the moral majority” types and made it an economic one. He made it a subject that can be argued in the intellect rather than in terms of unarguable moral beliefs.

That’s the home run part, “This is where we should have the discussion.”

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Government's Top Three

Top ThreeThis is a pretty remarkable picture, really. Our national government's top three people; an African American, a woman and an old white guy. And the person with the least actual power is the old white guy. Awesome.

The Preznit's Speech

Damn. More later, but, Damn. Will Smith crossed with Michael Douglas in the White House. "I make this look good" meets "Hell yes, I'm a member of the ACLU, Bob, and what I want to know is why aren't you?"

When's the last time a President challenged every one of us to do something? "Every adult American to get one year of education beyond high school." Each and every one of us. Damn. I almost dashed down to San Diego State and signed up right then and there, and I'm 67 and already have accumulated a couple years past high school.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Paul Does Standup

Okay, I don't know if you read Paul Krugman's Blog. If you don't you should. He get's a little wonky at times, but he warns you when he's going to do that. He has one of "those Sewdish thingies" so he's pretty smart. And he has a wicked sense of humor.
I’m trying to be sympathetic to the various plans, or rumors of plans, for bank aid; but I keep not being able to understand either what the plans are, or why they’re supposed to work. And I don’t think it’s me.
I just don’t get it. And my sinking feeling that the administration plan is to rearrange the deck chairs and hope the iceberg melts just keeps getting stronger.

You really should go read the whole thing.

Bipartsanship Smipartsanship

Politicians crack me up. The losers, who have been lording it over the other party with the most arrogant, partisan hackery imaginable for years, suddenly are screaming at the top of their lungs about bipartisanship.

They sound like high school sophomores who have not been invited to participate in the prom committee.

If I wanted bipartisanship, you half baked ignorant clods, I would have cast half of my votes for you. I didn't, so get over yourselves, crawl off in some hole somewhere and stfu. Seriously, stfu.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Making Mistakes

“Some very smart people made some very big mistakes.” The specific source of this quote is not important, as the thought behind it is widely accepted as the basis for the economic meltdown we are experiencing at the moment, and I regard the argument as being utter nonsense. I would use stronger terms if this were not a “family” blog. Get one thing straight, people,
Nobody has made any freaking mistakes.

Take the City of San Diego as an example. The city officials went to the managers of the union pension and offered a deal. They said that they would increase the pension benefits if the unions would a) agree not to demand pay raises and b) agree to let the city “defer” payments to the pension fund for a few years.

The result is a city budget in crisis, but that was not a mistake. City officials knew very well that would happen and they didn’t care. They would be out of office by the time it did, and they would have served their time in office without raising taxes or cutting services. Their plan worked perfectly. They are all in private life now, their pockets full of money, and another group is in office and is left to clean up the mess.

Wall street bankers, hedge fund managers, lending managers and auto corporation executives all “made bad decisions” but are walking away with millions, and in some cases billions, of dollars in their offshore bank accounts. You and I are really angry at them; Congress is really angry, is calling them bad names and demanding that they sell their airplanes; the stock in their companies is going in the tank; but they still have millions, and in some cases billions, of dollars in their offshore bank accounts.

They knew exactly what they were doing, they knew exactly what would happen, and they didn’t care. They were becoming wealthy, and that was the point of the exercise. Damaging other people, even an entire nation, in the process was not a consideration in the pursuit of the accumulation of extreme wealth and power.

When Washington politicians talk about the Wall Street bonuses and salaries they use the phrase that “These people don’t get it.” They get it. They don’t care.

And the Washington politicians don’t have all that much room to talk with their endless “free lunch” mantra of tax cuts. Some want to cut taxes on the wealthy and some on the middle class, but all of them endlessly sing the tax cut refrain. If they can pass enough tax cuts and spending bills while in office they can pull off the national version of San Diego. They can retire on their government pensions without having raised taxes or cut services, and leave the mess for someone else to clean up.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Small, Pleasant Moments

The grocery where I shop has one of those self-checkout things but I never use it because I like to interact with the checkout person, and I choose the stores where I shop mostly by the friendliness of the people who work there. I know that my visiting and chatting with the grocery checker slows them down a bit, but I always shop at times when the store is not busy, so what the hell. I enjoy it, they seem to, and if there is anybody in line behind me I keep it sort of minimal.

Yesterday as I approached the checkout the young lady was cleaning the moving belt, had sprayed it with a Windex-like bottle of cleaner, and it was all wet. First she asked me to wait while she got it finished, then she noticed that I only had a few things and said I should put them on her scanner and she would check me out. I demurred, said I was happy to wait, but she insisted so I proceeded, and she was ringing my items up.

But then things started downhill when another customer stated to unload a basket, and a third started forming a line. The checkout girl was trying to ring up and bag my items and clean the belt at the same time and was getting a bit flustered. I was encouraging her not to rush, assuring her that none of us was in a hurry.

“Cleaning that seemed like a good idea at the time, didn’t it?” I told her, “There were no customers and you needed something to do, and then somebody opened the gate.” It sort of became one of those moments where everyone, in a minor kind of way, seemed to be having fun.

I had my items in my cart and she was about to start ringing up the next customer when I realized she had not given me the charge slip to sign, so I asked her for it. She was embarrassed and apologized as she put it for my signature and I said, “That’s okay dear, we’ll all hang in there together.”

I signed it and she and I wished each other a nice day. When I turned away I met the gaze of the manager who was standing about ten feet away, looking at me with a big smile on his face. I could clearly read his mind. He was thinking, “This guy is treating my staff nicely.” He and I exchanged nods, smiles, and I went my way.

And that is why I don’t use the self-checkout lines.

Friday, February 20, 2009


When I was first diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease there was a bit of a hurdle to clear, but I was doing pretty well with it. The initial symptoms were already clearing up, so it was evident that I am very responsive to Levadopa (not everyone is), and the long-term prognosis was quite good. I also have a program of living in the present and was having good success applying it to my new condition. All in all I was not in any real distress about the issue, but I had not yet reached the level of acceptance with respect to it that I enjoy now.

It was under those circumstances that I heard a man on NPR talking about living with ALS, known as Lou Gerhig's Disease. His voice was calm and utterly without grief or self pity. I can remember one piece of what he said, nearly enough word for word that I'm going to quote it.
I can no longer move sufficiently to pet my cat, so my wife will put the cat in my lap and place my hand on her, so that I can feel her fur.

That had a profound effect on me that is difficult to describe. The memory of it, four years later when I saw that commercial posted at Balloon Juice the other day, is still significant, and still difficult to describe. It is a valuable memory in more than one way, and that is a beautifully done commercial.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Watching One's Words

I was watching Rachel Maddow last night as she was talking with guest Zbigniew Brzezinski. She made reference to the Karzai and Pakistan governments in her question, calling the first "corrupt" and the second "bankrupt." He said that he could not help but smile at her question and that, given the action of our government the past eight years and its status now, we need to be more careful how we throw those terms around. He added on a more serious note that we really should be more respectful in the way that we talk about other governments, especially those that we want to be friendly with us. Good point.

Punishing Prudence

Obama’s homeowner’s rescue plan is great for homeowners who “through no fault of their own” owe more on their home than it is currently worth. It’s also great for those who, because of greed and to finance a lifestyle they could not afford, used cash-out refinancing to increase the mortgage on their home to a level beyond reasonable market price levels. It’s also great for people who, because they had poor financial judgement, purchased homes at prices that were larger than made any kind of rational sense in the market place.

For people like my wife and me, who prudently kept our thirty-year-fixed and didn't increase our mortgage balance, it does nothing. We get to stand by and watch the government help those people refinance their mortgages with interest rates a half point or so lower than the rate we have been paying for eleven years and, in some cases, reduce what they owe.

Other than that, it’s a fine plan.

Like much of the government’s rescue planning lately, it assures that people who have used prudent financial thinking over the past ten years will be punished for having done so, while people who have been greedy, reckless and stupid will be rewarded.

Does government ever consider the ramifications of what it does?

The COBRA provision in the Stimulus bill is a real treasure; the employer has to pick up 65% of that tab. So the small business that is struggling to keep its head above water is faced with another roadblock to survival. It cannot afford to keep workers on, but it cannot lay them off either because of that COBRA tab. It no longer has any choice but to padlock the doors, close the bank accounts and file for bankruptcy. So now not only do those who would have been laid off hit unemployment, the entire company does.

The COBRA provision is supposedly retroactive to September of 2008, but let’s get real. Anyone who lost coverage since then and has any health issues is not going to be taken back without lawsuits. Not to mention that those retroactive fees for small business are unpayable, and for large corporations that have had to make major layoffs they could be ruinous.

What about the people who have made COBRA payments for the last five months? Do they get that money back? If they do, who pays it?

Finally, every dollar that goes to those COBRA payments is a dollar not available for employer provided termination services such as retraining, job placement and the like. Give with one hand and take away with the other.
I can tell you from my own personal knowledge that many companies have been providing excellent post-termination services and I can tell you that, not only are they cutting back, these provisions will certainly cause them to cut back even further.

These are not Republican provisions, they are Obama/Pelosi/Reid Democratic provisions, and they do the same things that the Republicans did, just doing it in a different manner. They reward a different set of bad behaviors and they punish prudence.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Paul Krugman Speaks

Aha. Never mind that Swedish thingie: this blog made Time’s 25 best blogs list!

Yes, Paul Krugman's Blog was one of Time's "25 Best." Cool. I love the reference to "that Swedish thingie."

Monday, February 16, 2009

NASA Time Machine

The NASA site has some really nifty features, and one of them is a Climate Time Machine interactive feature. You can see the effects of different sea levels on the Southeastern United States, you can track ice melt in the Arctic, look at what nations have reduced CO2 emissions (hint, the US isn't one of them) and get a look at global temperatures over time. The latter one is a little bit scary. There is kind of a little peak at the poles on the 1940's, but then things calm down a bit. This is what things looked like in 1965.
Climate 1965
Things start getting bad around 2000, and this is 2007. Yikes.
Climate 2007

February Blockhead Award

AwardIn the “Chris Matthews is an idiot” department are two out of his three “Hardball Award” grants, those to Roland Burris and to Judd Gregg. I found both of these to be objectionable at the time he made them, and the former has proven to be an even greater piece of nonsense as time has revealed more on the matter for which Matthews expressed such admiration.

On the Burris matter Matthews expressed admiration for Burris being willing to “fight for what was rightfully his,” namely the Senate seat representing the State of Illinois. Actually the seat belonged not to him but to the people of Illinois and his acceptance of it was an embarrassment to his party, his President, and himself. The manner of his pursuit of it was self-serving and certainly not worthy of an award.

Now it turns out that, in an effort to keep his name clear and to assure that the Senate would accept him, he lied about his conversations with the Governor of Illinois and that he seems to have gone to the extent of perjuring himself. Way to go Chris.

On the Gregg matter Matthews admires him for standing up for individualism but makes no mention of the question of why, given that individualistic bent, he accepted the nomination in the first place. It does not serve the nation’s interest to embarrass the nation’s government, and it ill behooves Chris Matthews to applaud and provide awards to those who do so.

I give this month’s Blockhead Award to Chris Matthews.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Flying On Autopilot

AP is reporting that Flight 3407 was on autopilot until just seconds before the flight crashed. I have read people expressing horror that this would be the case, but I am neither surprised or disturbed by the thought that it might be true.

Many years ago I was flying to Milwaukee to visit my parents and, looking out the window as the plane descended through a heavy bank of clouds, I had the thought that driving in heavy fog is really difficult and realized that when doing so one is dealing in only two dimensions. Flying in that fog is just as blind and involves three dimensions. I resolved to ask my father about that when we landed.

Dad was a career Air Force Flight Surgeon and a pilot, since that was a requirement for Flight Surgeons at the time (and may still be, I’m not sure). He was meeting my flight so, while waiting for my baggage, I did ask. He assured me that descending through cloud was as unpleasant for a pilot as I imagined; that not only could you not see where you were going, but that you had to be concerned about staying right side up. “Mostly,” he said, “we just let the autopilot do that for us. It’s a lot more reliable than we are.”

For some reason I’ve never forgotten that.

Flogging the Bonus Babies

Congress, the nation’s Chief Executive and, of course, bloggers are condemning executive salaries and bonus payments at a frenetic pace as part and parcel of addressing our nation’s economic woes. It is becoming just plain nonsensical the degree to which this issue has reached front and center in our national psyche considering that, as a contributing factor to either the problem or the solution, it is nothing more than a flyspeck. To those who are victims of the economy it is merely the focus of an overwhelming anger, and to politicians it is a welcome distraction from issues that really matter.

Consider that while we are having a major case of the vapors over a few billion dollars of bonus payments to executives, we are ignoring 600 billion dollars that we pour down the rathole of the military-industrial complex every single year, and that Obama proposes to increase even as we speak. And that does not even include the cost of two wars of choice that we are fighting “off budget” and which we are still not proposing to put on budget.

And what do we get for that budget? We get a military which cannot subdue an enemy armed with nothing more potent than RPG’s and rifles. We get a military two million strong that fields a force of 150,000 in a theatre of battle and tells us “That’s all we have.” What are the other 1,850,000 members of that military doing? Why is none of the other 92.5% not available to relieve or augment that 7.5% deployed in combat in Iraq?

Six hundred billion dollars ($600,000,000,000), year after year, and what do we have to show for it? In addition to a military that cannot defeat our enemies, an intelligence service that cannot find our enemies, or that finds enemies where there are none.

But we want to have fainting spells over a few million bucks paid to executives who did a bad job. The discussion is not about running those executives out of those jobs, not about punishing them for what they did, merely about not continuing to pay them the large salaries.

Give me a break.

Ten billion dollars simply disappeared in Iraq; just vanished with no one even pretending to make any account for it. Hundreds of thousands of weapons fell into the hands of our enemy there, and the general who was in overall command of accountability for those weapons spun some nonsense about “kicking them out the doors of helicopters” and has been promoted to overall theater command. Tens of billions of dollars have been paid out for construction and project work in Iraq that was never performed. The same thing is happening all over again in Afghanistan.

Heaven forfend, however that we should stand by while some Wall Street executives collect overlarge bonuses or salaries.

One trillion, and by some accounts as much as three trillion dollars of taxpayer money has been committed by the Federal Reserve and the Treasury Department for rescue of financial institutions, and this has been done with a complete lack of Congressional or Executive oversight. Additionally, the Federal Reserve avers that no oversight or accounting of these monies is due or will be made. We care not about that; we care about the Wall Street executive incomes.

Staggering amounts of money are finding its way through the coffers of our government, and enormous amounts of it are being mismanaged one way or another. We ignore all of that and quibble about a trifling amount collected in salaries and bonuses on Wall Street.

It’s time to turn the discussion to things that matter.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Ownership Society

When Bush trotted out his "Ownership Society" mantra, I derided it as a sham. I said at the time that it was a ploy to subvert the thinking of the middle class so that tax cuts for the wealthy, capital tax gains reductions and the like, would be accepted. I said that it was a ploy to persuade the middle class to place their money in the hands of the "Bush class" of wealthy money handlers who manipulate the stock market.

The vast majority of middle class who own stock pay no tax on gains accrued by those stocks because they are in retirement accounts where the gains are retained and not taxed until withdrawn. Nonetheless, Republican rhetoric led those people to think they were being done a huge favor to have "capital gains taxes" reduced.

Paul Krugman has a post today that spells out just where that "Ownership Society" has led us. It deserves a lot wider audience that just a few obscure blogs. I'm going to present his post in full. The emphasis is mine.
The new Survey of Consumer Finances shows an increase in family net worth between 2004 and 2007 — but estimates, based on stock and housing prices, that all of that gain and more has been wiped out since then. Adjusted for inflation, families are poorer now than they were in 2001.

It’s worth pointing out that with this release, yet another pillar of the what-me-worry school of economics has fallen. You may remember that a few years ago there was a lot of talk about how only bubbleheads paid attention to our low, low savings rate, because the truth was that Americans were getting steadily wealthier thanks to rising asset values.

Not so much, it turns out.

This rounds out the full scope of the Bush Administration disaster.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Friday The 13th

I am not a superstitious person; have no problem walking under ladders, I like black cats just fine, and I’ve broken mirrors and spilled salt without a qualm. I do, however, tend to plan my schedule to stay home on any Friday that falls on the 13th of any month. There is a reason for that, but I won’t go into it here.

This coming Friday is the 13th, but just before midnight something very interesting happens. I’m not going to stay up to watch it, or anything like that, and it’s really only interesting if you are a computer geek. Well, not only a computer geek, but a programmer geek, and one with an interest in the Unix family of operating systems.

But don’t worry, I’m going to tell you about it anyway.

Programmers don’t like to deal with dates and times. Calculating intervals between dates and, even worse, between times within different dates is a major pain. You cannot merely add and subtract, because not all months have the same number of days, and some months have a different number of days depending on the year. So we use something called a timestamp for storing dates and times. It’s really quite simple; it’s just a very large number containing the number of seconds which have elapsed since the very beginning of, no not time itself, merely the day Jan 1, 1970.

Well, we’re dealing with computer geeks here, not archeologists.

There are some disadvantages to that method. What about dates earlier than that? Well, we deal with that by using negative numbers. Is there a “Y2K” type issue? Yes, there is; in the year 2038 that date will “overflow” a 32-bit integer, and that is a bit of a problem, but we are talking about this coming Friday.

On Friday, Feb 13, 2009 at 28-1/2 seconds before midnight, that number becomes:

Apparently my excitement threshold is pretty low.

Untethered From Reality

Water Woes
I belong to a homeowner’s association which has two swimming pools, two spas, a huge system of ponds and waterfalls and thirty five acres of landscaping, none of which is low water use plantings. For five years now I have been pleading with the association’s directors to reduce our water use by replanting and reconfiguring our irrigation, or to at least reschedule our use of the irrigation system so that less water runs off into the storm drain.

To say that we water excessively would be a considerable understatement. Our sprinklers run so often and at such length that large crops of mushroom often are growing in my front lawn, major crops of moss are growing in the shaded lawns across the street, and about half of the curbs and gutters are green with algae that is growing as a result of water running off of the lawns and shrub areas. It is not unusual to see our sprinklers running during or immediately following a heavy rainstorm. (Well, except insofar as heavy rainfalls are a bit on the unusual side.)

San Diego is, of course, in a desert and imports all of its water so, in addition to trying to reduce our monthly water cost of $3600 for 145 homes, I am trying to instill some sense of social responsibility in getting us to waste less of what is, after all, a precious and scarce natural resource. For my efforts I have been ostracized, cursed at, accused of trying to undermine the Board of Directors, and accused of having some sort of personal vendetta against the landscape workers whom we employ. Our water usage has not decreased.

Now it seems the City Council is about to reward us for that profligacy.

Starting this coming summer, barring some sort of miracle, San Diego is going to be subjected to water rationing. The City Council has decided that surveying properties and determining allocations is not needed, and that water allocations will be determined by simply using a percentage reduction from earlier usage. So people who were socially conscious early and reduced usage voluntarily will be penalized, and those like my group who selfishly continued to waste water will be rewarded with higher allocations when rationing begins.

The great American way: rewarding bad behavior.

The Lindbergh Field Controversy
For as long as anyone can remember our airport, conveniently located really close to downtown, has been a bone of contention. It is perennially on the brink of being too small to handle the traffic requirements but never quite reaches that overload, and it keeps getting multi-million dollar upgrades that are always botched and that nobody is ever pleased with. We’ve spent way more money on studies of where it could be relocated than would be spent actually doing the relocation, and all of the studies have concluded that there is nowhere else to put it. Everybody says it simply cannot stay where it is, but it keeps serving quite nicely exactly where it is.

And so we get editorials like the one in today’s San Diego Union-Tribune, “Flight of fancy,” subtitled, “Grandiose Lindbergh Field redo would be multi-billion dollar folly.” The U-T’s editorial page has come through again for a few chuckles with the same refrain about our too-small airport and all the same blather. The part where it becomes really fun is this,
Here are the facts: Lindbergh Field's single, shorter-than-normal runway will reach flight capacity within the next decade or so. When that day arrives, as it inevitably will, San Diego's economy will begin a slow strangulation caused by air transportation gridlock.

First, they only cite a single “fact,” which causes the plural to make them seem just a bit illiterate. But the “fact” which they cite is not a fact at all, it is a projection, and not a particularly sound one at that. When fuel prices rose the number of flights at Lindbergh decreased significantly. Fuel costs have dropped now, of course, but I believe the number of flights is still below the peak and fuel costs are not going to stay low. I think it’s safe to say that the only thing we can say with confidence about the future is that it is uncertain.

In any case that “fact” (projection) has been being made for at least twenty years and, guess what Chicken Little, the sky hasn’t Lindbergh is not at capacity yet.

What to do
The City Council and the Union-Tribune editorial board should just go to Washington, D.C. and be Republicans.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

We Elected the Right Guy

I was beginning to think Obama was becoming a little too steeped in the atmosphere of Washington; long on fear mongering on the economy and short on actual leadership, not answering questions but responding with platitudes and such things that politicians are prone to. Last night’s press meeting broke that impression into a million pieces or so.

He (mostly) gave real answers, and ones that were long in thoughts and ideas. He took a risk of over-explaining things and made that risk pay off. He talked to us like we were grownups and could understand words that had more than one syllable.

Most pundits said things like “He took a few soft swipes” at opponents, but I thought he pretty much bitch slapped them; he just did it with such good humor that it didn’t come across as nasty. He has a way of doing that. But this,
"…it's a little hard for me to take criticism from folks about this recovery package after they've presided over a doubling of the national debt. I'm not sure they have a lot of credibility when it comes to fiscal responsibility."

…is a little more than “a soft swat” in my opinion.

Rachel Maddow claims there is a danger in long answers, in that they do not leave people with a “sound bite” to take away with them. So Maddow has the same low opinion of the American people’s intellect that, say, John McCain does. We are too stupid to remember thoughts and concepts that were presented in long answers, we need “sound bites” in order to be sold on important ideas. Her arrogance is one of the reasons I don’t watch her any more.

Keith Olbermann says America is going to have to adjust from being treated like idiots to listening to real answers that are long and involved. Apparently (unlike Maddow) he thinks we can do so and that Obama should keep giving that kind of answers.

Chris Mattthews just blathered at length. I think he had an orgasm.

Anyway, Obama didn’t need to sell me on the stimulus plan, since the only problem I have with it is that I think it’s too small.

His answer regarding allowing the media into Dover could have sounded like he was ducking the question, but it did not come off as such to me at all. No, he did not say what the policy will be, but I believe that he really is reviewing it so that he can make a decision that is comfortable for all concerned.

I cringed when he was asked about the baseball player’s drug use, expecting political grandstanding about drug use, but his answer was more than appropriate, it was moving and very powerful.

On a couple of questions he did kind of dodge, but both questions are a bit premature at this point, and I had no big problem with his responses. When asked about negotiating with Iran he gave a seven-minute speech that was moderately bellicose and did not even approach answering the question asked. On the question about investigation of Bush Administration wrongdoing we got the usual "We’re more interested in looking forward.”

And then there was the question by Helen Thomas, (excerpt)
Q. And, also, do you know of any country in the Middle East that has nuclear weapons?

A. With respect to nuclear weapons, you know, I don't want to speculate. What I know is this: that if we see a nuclear arms race in a region as volatile as the Middle East, everybody will be in danger.

I was already laughing when she asked the question, knowing as she threw the pitch that he was going to step back from the plate. My god, he not only stepped out of the batter’s box, he left the ballpark. This man is good. His answer translates to
Israel has nuclear weapons. Everybody in the universe knows that, but I’m not going to admit it in a million years. Since they do, then if anybody else (Iran) gets nuclear weapons there will be a nuclear arms race there and we are all screwed. So I’m going to protect Israel’s nuclear weapons, which I deny it has, and I’m going to make damned sure Iran doesn’t get any, even though they claim they are not trying to and everybody except me believes them.

When he does decide to “not answer” a question, he is a master.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Obfuscating the Argument

Liberals are pleased as punch that 52% of those polled are in favor of the stimulus bill. I am rather shocked that, given the state of the economy, the number is that low. My guess would be that both those in favor and those opposed are being influenced by a degree of confusion caused by all of the partisan wrangling and “slant” being thrown at the bill by both sides.

Even Obama contributes to it. “…and people don’t get laid off. That’s stimulus.” No, actually, it’s not. It keeps unemployment from increasing above 7.6% but it doesn’t cause it to decrease, and a stimulus would cause unemployment to decrease. That doesn’t mean that I don’t want the spending that he’s referring to, I do want it, but I don’t want it deducted from the stimulus that we were promised.

Washington does this all the time. “Here’s a $100 Billion school funding bill.” Well, it’s a $100 Billion bill okay, and it has school funding in it. The school funding, however is only $50 Billion and the other half is unrelated things like building bridges to islands.

So now we have an $800 Billion stimulus bill, of which only a small portion is actually stimulus. That’s not to say that the other spending should not be spent, but it should be in another bill, not being used to reduce the stimulus that we need. I will say again, the other spending is valuable and needed; spend it by all means, but leave my damned stimulus money alone.

We should not have an $800 Billion “stimulus bill” of which half is other spending, we should have an $800 Billion Stimulus Bill (100% infrastructure spending and jobs creation) plus a $400 Billion Spending bill (food stamps, unemployment and relief for states) plus a $300 Tax Cut Bill (for the middle class). That’s a total of $1.5 Trillion invested in restoring our economy.

I can out-liberal Paul Krugman with one hand tied behind my back.

Stepping On One's...

The award for dumb move of the week goes to the San Diego Zoo. No, not for deciding to ban visitors from bringing food and drinks into the Zoo and Wild Animal Park. That move is decidedly unsmart but is very run of the mill. What gets the award is the explanation, which we will get to after the ones they did not use.

They did not say that they want to force visitors to have to buy $7 hamburgers and $4 bottles of water so that they make more money. (Remember that a visit to either of those places is decidedly a day-long affair.) They also did not say that it was because the food that was being brought in was creating a trash problem, nor that people were feeding inappropriate food to the animals.

The first of those would have sounded believeable but would have really pissed people off. The others would probably have been more palatable to the public but maybe slightly less believeable.

The reason? "People bring the food in huge coolers and there isn't room for all the huge coolers, which wind up interfering with other visitors' views of the animals."

Lack of room in the grandstand was the reason given at stock car racing venues for limiting coolers to 14" square. After 9/11 they were banned altogether, another nonsensical but highly profitable ruling. The SD Zoo's two venues cover a few square miles each, so are you kidding me?

My wife and I have been annual members at the SD Zoo for more than ten years. I sort of vaguely recall that I've noticed people carrying food and drinks at times, and I may have noticed a cooler once or twice. I don't recall ever having seen a "huge cooler" at all, much less hordes of them, and I can guarantee I have never had my view blocked by any coolers. (People, yes, but not coolers.)

Having stuck to their "no room for coolers" theme for more than a week, the Zoo is now gradually switching to a theme having to to with... Yep, trash and feeding the animals.

Their PR people need to run for U.S. Congress.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Snoozing (again)

snoozingI wanted to post a picture of her doing something other than sleeping, but...

Fear of Flying

I have listened several times to the tapes which have been recently released of the conversation between "Cactus 1549" and Air Traffic Control in the moments before the former landed in the Hudson River. People use the word "calm" in what they hear, but I actually hear considerable tension in the pilot's voice, as would be completely expected. What I also hear is that he is completely, as my wife said, "on task" and in control, and his manner conveys a sense of utter capability.

What doesn't, I think, get enough credit in this tape is the air traffic controllers. They are aware of options and they calmly present those options to the pilot in logical sequence as each is rejected, and they are controlling other aircraft at the same time. When the pilot reports both engines lost the ATC guy acknowledges that and then calmly and immediately, without so much as drawing a breath, gives the pilot a rerouting direction.

Wow. Think about that for a moment. Faced with an astonishing event, the ATC person absorbs it, evaluates what the pilot needs to do, knows the correct course to steer him on and conveys that correct course to the pilot, all in less time than it takes to complete the acknowledgement of the event itself. That is amazing.

The people who fly airplanes, and the people on the ground who are in charge of directing that process seem to really know what they're doing.

I think the next time I get on an airplane I'll breathe a little easier.

Friday, February 06, 2009


Roosevelt thought big. He created a New Deal with big ideas. He created a legacy worthy of a great nation. He created debt passed on to future generations, and passed on value along with that debt; value that matched and exceeded that debt.

Four generations have driven on roads, hiked on trails and camped in campgrounds built by FDR’s big thinking. They continue to do so today and will continue to for generations to come.

Tucson, Arizona’s most popular day recreation spot is Sabino Canyon; a lovely retreat in the foothills of the Santa Catalina Mountains. You get there on a road built by FDR’s big thinking, cross the stream on bridges built by that same dream, and picnic in facilities built the same way.

Tusconans drive to Summerhaven, at the top of the mountain, on a highway built by FDR’s big thinking. The highway has been widened since then, a few of the curves rerouted, but it is the same road originally built by the Civilian Conservation Corps with picks and shovels.

Obama is talking about weatherproofing homes that will be torn down in twenty years.

Future generations will look back and ask why. “Our grandparents spent a trillion dollars, creating a debt that we are paying now, and what do we have to show for it?”

Obama promised us big thinking, change, a new way of doing things.

What we get is a big bucket full of small ideas.

Changing Washington

Or Rather Lying and Fear Mongering

Obama is putting on a full court press to sell this economic stimulus bill, but he is not winning me over. In face he is losing ground with me not only for the bill, but to some significant degree for his presidency.

For one thing, he is lying to me, and he promised not to do that. He says that the portion of the bill that provides money to the states prevents the states from having to lay people off. I don’t doubt that part, but how is that simulative? When asked that he replies, “When people do not lose their jobs that stimulates the economy.” No, that keeps the economy from getting smaller, so giving money to the states is a preventive measure, not a simulative one and the President knows that. He is smarter than I am and knows the difference between prevention and stimulation. He is doing some “harmless political lying” in order to sell his bill. But he promised he would tell us the truth.

When I hear him shoveling horse dung on one part of this pile of junk, I am no longer willing to believe anything he says about this damned thing. If he has to lie about it, then even he knows it is a bad bill.

Now I find out that only projects that are ready to begin within 90 days qualify for money under the infrastructure portion of the bill, and it uses as an example such things as road resurfacing. As I said yesterday, small thinking writ large. Yes, these small projects will provide jobs, but only for a limited time, and they leave no lasting legacy, they provide no long term benefit to the coming generations whose money is being spent.

It’s like a parent saying to it’s children, “I have no money so I’m taking yours. No, you get nothing for it, I’m using it for my own current needs. No,
I don’t know how you’re going to manage, that’s your problem.”

As opposed to "I'm taking some of your money, and I'm using it to build a home which I will leave to you in the future and which you will live in."

Obama keeps saying that the bill needs to be “big enough to get the job done” as if size alone mattered. If all we needed was big, we could do that by piling up a trillion dollars on the National Mall and setting fire to it. That would be “big, targeted and temporary,” but it would not help the economy very much.

I don’t know about you, but I got fed up with fear mongering under the Bush Administration and I am really offended to be getting the same thing fed to me by Barack Obama.

Obama is raising panic over the economy to sell his economic bill and prove that he has bigger balls than Congress. I cringe when I hear him screech about the impending loss of “millions of jobs if we fail to act today” and how “crisis will turn into catastrophe” if we delay. I cringe, not because he is successfully inducing the fear that he seeks to induce, but because I hear in him echoes of the administration that I thought we were finally done with.

Henry Paulson, speaking for Bush, warned of dire consequences if his bailout pill was not passed within days. The toxic assets that he insisted must be bought were not bought and the world did not end with the massive collapse of banks that he predicted. Now we have Obama warning of dire consequences if his bill is not passed within days.

Bush: “You are all about to die in a mushroom cloud.”
Bush: “Terrorists are going to walk the streets of America.”
Paulson: “Banks are about to collapse and there will be a depression.”
Obama: “Millions of jobs will be lost and we will have a depression.”
Obama: “Crisis will turn into catastrophe” if we fail to act immediately.

The question was asked during Obama’s presidential campaign when he promised to change Washington: would he actually accomplish that or would Washington change him?

We know the answer, and it only took two weeks.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

On Relationships

One of the blogs I read daily, actually several times daily, is Balloon Juice. John Cole was commenting with respect to Obama's failed efforts at bipartisanship today as follows,
I really don’t understand how bipartisanship is ever going to work when one of the parties is insane. Imagine trying to negotiate an agreement on dinner plans with your date, and you suggest Italian and she states her preference would be a meal of tire rims and anthrax. If you can figure out a way to split the difference there and find a meal you will both enjoy, you can probably figure out how bipartisanship is going to work the next few years.

It appears that John has not had a serious relationship lately. (Other than, perhaps with his cat, Tunch.) It's your girlfriend John. Obviously you eat tire rims and anthrax. Jeez, where did you go to relationship school?


The more I study (insofar as I can get what appears to be valid information) this stimulus plan, the more I become disgusted with our government, including its executive. This thing is small thinking writ large.

It includes a project in DC which creates 280 jobs, and another which creates 180 jobs in Los Angeles. It commits large millions to expanding broadband internet access, but doesn’t give so much as a skeleton framework of what that consists of as a project. There is more spent on tax cuts than on job creation, and the main thrust of Congress seems to be making people buy homes and cars, recreating the bubble that burst and caused the problem to begin with.

Tax credits piled upon tax cuts. $1500 if you buy a car, $15,000 if you buy a house. $1000 just for being married, and $500 for being single. Tax credits for businesses, which sounds more like Bush than like what I voted for.

If I buy a house and a car and get married, I can pay $17,000 less in taxes. Except that I'm already married and I don't have a job, so I can't buy anything and I'm not paying any taxes anyway. Oh well.

Liberal bloggers are bemoaning the sense that Democrats are not defending this bill as the Republicans attack it. They are not defending it because, while this bill is possibly better than nothing at all, there is not much of anything in it to defend.

President Obama has been telling us that he wasn't going to say much in detail about his plan because his economic dream team was working behind the scenes on the details. And this is what they came up with, apparently. This agglomeration of the unimaginative.

There is nothing whatever in this bill that is new, nothing that commits the nation as a whole to any kind of concerted effort, nothing behind which the nation can unite. There is nothing that provides any kind of national “cause.” This is not a stimulus, this is a basket full of Band-Aids. To believe that this is the answer to our economic collapse is to believe that one can kill an elephant with a shotgun loaded with birdshot.

Former administrations came up with Rural Electrification, Works Progress, the Tennessee Valley Authority and Civilian Conservation Corps. More recent ones created the Interstate Highway System and things like the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway. The wisdom of the latter can be debated, but at least it was big.

Today we get a sewer repair project in Washington, DC. Jeez.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Coattail Spending

Many years ago when I was in management, I wanted to purchase a new set of plasma torches for one of the machines in my plant. Don’t worry what those are, it doesn’t matter to this post, but they cost about $20k and upper management rejected my request. No matter how well I justified it in repeated requests with legitimate claims of reduction in our long backlog, lower maintenance, better quality, fewer man-hours and the like; nada.

Then came the day that our backlog justified the purchase of an additional machine and upper management asked me to write up a proposal for one. The proposal included both capital spending and expensed items, and as one of the expensed items, I included the purchase of a new set of plasma torches for the existing machine. I did not lie about it or hide it, and I used all of the same justifications I had used earlier. The new machine was approved, and so were the new plasma torches for the existing one.

As a separate item that $20k purchase seemed unacceptably expensive to our upper management, but riding on the coattails of a $650k purchase they approved it without batting an eye.

That’s how Congress spends our tax money, but it does so in far larger numbers, and a great many more dollars “ride on the coattails” than are actually “in the coat.”

I’m not talking about earmarks, here, which are a tiny amount and don’t really matter in the overall cash cow that is our national budget. I’m talking about “amendments,” “riders” and “collateral items” that clutter up every spending bill that passes through Congress.

Right now, for instance, we are discussing a huge “stimulus bill” to get the economy restarted, and it is a hugely complicated bill that is being rushed through the process at a frighteningly frenetic pace. (The last one that was this hastily passed was TARP, and we all know how well that worked out.) The overt purpose of this bill is not even very clearly defined; it is to create jobs, or it is to get banks to start lending, or it is to “restart the economy” in some fashion akin to magic.

I’m not opposed to this bill in principle. I concur with people like Paul Krugman who say that we need to do something and that what we do needs to be big. But I would suggest that now is not the time to be putting a lot of stuff on the coattails of what we do for economic purposes.

The stimulus bill contains, for instance, funding to computerize medical records on a national basis, which without doubt is a worthwhile thing to do. But in what way is that simulative to the economy? It may put a few programmers to work, but not all that many since the Mayo Clinic and the Veterans’ Administration Medical Service already have software which is more than adequate to the task. It will require a lot of computers, but computers are made overseas, and I’m not in favor of stimulating the economy of South Korea with this bill, I’d rather stimulate the economy of the United States.

President Obama proudly says that the bill contains no earmarks, and admittedly this is not an earmark. It is also not directly pursuant to the central purpose of the bill; it is nothing more nor less than coattail spending.

As soon as we see one item like this in a spending bill, one item unrelated to the purpose of the bill, one item that is some Congressperson’s pet social project being taken along for the ride, we have to wonder how many more such items are buried in this bill. How much of our tax money is being spent for the central purpose, and how much is being spent on a social agenda unrelated to the nominal purpose of this bill?

While I do not oppose this bill, I am utterly disgusted with the way the Congress and the President are handling it. President Obama promised to change the way things are done in our government, but the very first big issue on which he is leading the way he leads with the same old coattail spending and the same old double talk. He brags about the bill not having earmarks and fails to admit that it does have large amounts of unrelated spending. Asked about how much of the bill is actually simulative, he avoids answering directly and talks about “hoping” that large parts of it will be. He claims that “the parts that people are complaining about” amount to only one percent, but has no answer for why that one percent is in the bill.

And don't even get me started on the executive salary limits thing. (Okay, I am started.) This is demagoguery and grandstanding of the worst sort. Executive compensation is a drop in the bucket to the trillions of dollars that flow through our economic engine, and the money paid to management contributed essentially nothing to the collapse of our economy. Sure, the managers making a lot of money was a source of anger to the people who lost money, but as a cause of the economic collapse… What a joke.

Politicians, President Obama among them, have jumped on this bandwagon because it is an emotional appeal to the voters who lost out on the feeding frenzy that was the economic debacle, and they are milking it for every drop of anger that exists in the electorate. If you think that setting limits on executive compensation is in any way, shape or form contributing one iota to economic recovery then I want to talk to you about a good deal on a bridge in Brooklyn.

Change? This is the same old stuff, being fed to us the same old way.

Update: Wednesday, 8:45am
Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against limiting executive salaries; limit them all you want. Just don't try to convince me that doing so is any part of the solution.

Part two: everyone seems to be blaming Republicans for the resistance to this bill. I am not functionally a Republican. Democrats put as much coattail crap in this bill as Republicans did. The problem, here, is Congress and Obama's willingness to go along with them.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Testing Obama

An AP datelined article today starts, "In the first real test of the Obama administration's ability to respond to a disaster..."

Are you kidding me? Let's see; Jan 20th to Feb 1st is about, um, 11 days. Precisely how thoroughly does anyone expect that Obama will rework an agency the size of FEMA in eleven whole days?

They will be expecting him to walk across the Atlantic and whup all of Al Queda in single combat next.

It may be useful to remember that 9/11, happening a full eight months into the Bush Administration, was all Clinton's fault.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Everybody Just Calm Down

Yes, in issuing orders to close Guantanamo, and all of the CIA prisons, and to end torture, President Obama left the door open for this country to practice "rendition."

Before you get all lathered up, though, rendition is a perfectly proper international protocol when it is accompanied by measures such as notification to the Red Cross and allowing open tracking and communication with the person being rendered, and when there is a warrant for that person in the destination country. That is the process that Obama's "loophole" is referencing, not the "extraordinary rendition" that disappeared people into black holes under the Bush Administration.

Hilzoy at The Washington Monthly has a lengthy and well documented dissertation on the subject if you want to know more.


It was not as good as the score and (admittedly) the last 14 minutes would imply.

PreBowl: I still have the hots for Faith Hill, and I still hate hearing the national anthem sung to the singer's own made-up tune and as if she were drunk and singing it in a night club.

Game: After watching the thuggery displayed by the Steelers, it's going to be a long time before I root for them again. I started out wanting them to win, but after watching one Steeler punch an opponent in the face after taking him out of bounds, and another landing repeated body blows with both fists on a downed opponent, I really wanted them to lose. Those things had nothing to do with their win, the latter resulted in a one-foot penalty for God's sake, but it was ugly.

I also got sick of the Cardinals, famous for their long-ball artistry, incessantly dinking five-yard sissy ball passes in the middle of the field, and not even doing that very well. With fifteen seconds left in the game, trailing by four points, on first down at your own 35-yard line, why do you throw a five-yard pass in the middle of the field? It gains you nothing and merely costs you your last time out.

In the first sixteen minutes of the second half the Cardinals had been limited to five offensive plays. I would say that was pretty pathetic, except that it was free of turnovers and five times better than the Chargers in the same period against the Steelers, who were limited to one offensive play and managed two turnovers to boot.

Commercials: bad years for commercials. I sort of liked the one with the guy throwing the snow globe (it's a guy thing), and my wife and I both loved the Clydesdale recovering the log. The rest ranged from "meh" to "Oh my God." Corporations are losing millions and laying off thousands of people, but NBC sold out their commercial time slots at record prices to air this?

Well, NASCAR starts in two weeks. Oh crap, its on ESPN though.