Category Archives: Stuff

Global Population

Global Population

One of the worries that we face is the fact that the world population is going to surpass our ability to sustain ourselves.  For example, the UN calculates the population growth like this:


Some nations slow, others reverse but the population of the world continues to rise through 2,100.

However, new analysis by Deutsche Bank sees it different:


A take away from the AEI report is that as these nations age they are going to struggle with the social programs set up for the aging populations.

Military Freakin Coolness

My views on the United States’ military decisions are some of the most dynamic and fluid that I hold.  IN the past I was more anxious to “kick ass and take names” than I am now.  Where before I was in strong agreement that we should “kill the bad guys” I know find myself thinking about what happens if we do.  And, perhaps, how we could accomplish the same thing without killing anybody.

With that said, this is just pure freebased testosterone:

The USS Minnesota, the Navy’s newest attack submarine, will be christened on Saturday in Newport News, Va.

A crew of 134 officers and enlisted personnel will operate the $2 billion, 7,800-ton, 377-foot-long Virginia-class submarine. It is capable of diving deeper than 800 feet and operating at speeds in excess of 25 knots when submerged. The Minnesota is designed with a nuclear reactor that will not require refueling during the planned life of the ship. It is expected to officially become part of the Navy fleet when it is commissioned next summer.

The Minnesota is built to excel in anti-submarine warfare, anti-ship warfare, strike warfare, special operations, surveillance, irregular warfare and mine warfare missions. The Navy said it is capable of operating in both shallow regions and deep waters.

May she carry the Minnesota name into service with equal honor that goes back to the Civil War and Minnesota’s contribution to the Union victory in that conflict:

The story of Col. William Colvill and the First Minnesota Volunteer Infantry is too well known to need extended repetition. When President Lincoln called for volunteers to prevent the dissolution of the Union, this was the first regiment offered. It gave valiant service upon many a resolutely contested field, but its most conspicuous record was made at Gettysburg on the second day of that decisive battle. When the forces under the command of General Sickles advanced into action a little after noon, the First Regiment, of which only eight companies were present, numbering 262 men, took the position they vacated. The overwhelming forces of the Confederates under Longstreet and Hill repulsed and drove back the command of General Sickles and were advancing on the left flank of the Union Army, which was in grave danger of being rolled up in defeat. It was at this juncture that General Hancock ordered this depleted regiment to charge the advancing Confederates.

The gallant First Minnesota, led by Colonel Colvill, at once responded with an impetuosity that broke the first and second line of the enemy and stopped the advance. When the action was over but 47 men of the 262 who began the charge were still in line. The remaining 215 lay dead or wounded on the field. In all the history of warfare this charge has few, if any, equals and no superiors. It was an exhibition of the most exalted heroism against an apparently insuperable antagonist. By holding the Confederate forces in check until other reserves came up, it probably saved the Union Army from defeat. What that defeat would have meant to the North no one can tell. Washington, Philadelphia, New York, and the whole heart of the North would have been open to invasion, and perhaps the Union cause would have been lost. So far as human judgment can determine, Colonel Colvill and those eight companies of the First Minnesota are entitled to rank as the saviors of their country.

– President Calvin Coolidge

Here’s the back story:

After the Confederates had broken through General Sickles’ forward position, General Winfield S. Hancock looked about for a unit to plug a gaping hole in the Federal line before Confederate forces would force itself through to split the Union forces. He later wrote about this moment, “I needed five minutes time” to allow adequate reinforcements to come up.

It would require a full regiment to fill the void, but all Hancock could locate were the 262 Minnesota. He rode up the Minnesotan’s commanding officer, Colonel William Colville, pointed to the Confederates closing in on the hole in the Union lines and shouted, “Colonel, do you see those colors?” (pointing at the advancing Confederate forces) “Then take them!”

The attacking Confederate forces consisted of General Cadmus M. W Wilcox’s Alababam Brigade of Anderson’s Division (A.P. Hill’s Corps). The day before, nearly 1,800 men had answered roll call in Wilcox’s Brigade. Now, those Rebels were driving across Plum Run to assault the gap in the Union line along Cemetery Ridge. If they succeeded, the Federal troops would be split and broken.

Ironically, do you know what Col. Colville ordered?

He ordered them to fix bayonets.

Ordering his men to fix bayonets, Colonel Colville led the 262 Minnesotans against the Alabamans, nearly five times the Gophers’ number. Lt. William Lochren of the First Minnesota remarked, “Every man realized in an instant what that order meant; death or wounds to us all, the sacrifice of the regiment, to gain a few minutes’ time and save the position and probably the battlefield.”

Bayonets indeed, Mr. President.

God bless the Minnesota, the crew that serves aboard and the country she defends.

Fair winds and following seas!

More On Airlines Saving Money

Last I spoke about airlines I discussed the fact that we are seeing such problems is because we consumers are what folks often call “greedy.”

 Now I’m sure that we’re gonna get the usual hand-wring about greedy airlines and all sorts of nonsense about corporate profits.  But what we DON’T point out is the insatiable greed of the consumer.  It’s the consumer that has this never ending desire to find the absolute cheapest fare on the internet.  What with Orbitz, Amazon, Expedia and everything, the consumer is driving the airlines to produce the lowest possible basic fare so that they appear near the top in search windows.

Airlines are trying to make a buck in the same way that all companies are trying to make a buck.  Your company tries to make a profit.  The company you work for tries to make a profit.  Heck, even you as a family unit tries to make a profit.  You hope that your income is more than your expenses.  And one way to do this is to reduce your expenses.

Turns out that airlines are doing just that.  Doing that by getting rid of the old and ushering in the new: via Carpe Diem

Singapore-based Scoot Airlines is ripping out aircraft entertainment systems weighing more than two tons to save fuel, and instead offering Apple iPads to passengers, loaded with movies, music, games and television shows. It eventually intends to have users access content via a wireless system onboard planes.
Offering iPads helped the carrier cut 7% off the weight of planes and cope with fuel prices that have jumped about 36% in two years. The budget carrier will  offer the iPads free to passengers in its business-class seat and  will charge economy passengers $17 per trip to rent the tablets.

By saving money the airline is actually saving the consumer money AND increasing their inflight experience.


The Bell Curve


I’ve started another book.  I’m now reading “The Bell Curve” by the boys listed above.

Stats that struck me tonight:

Think of your twelve closest friends or colleagues.  For most readers of this book, a large majority of them will be college graduates.  Does it surprise you to learn that the odds of having even half of them be college graduates are only six in a thousand, if people are randomly paired off?  Many of you will not think it odd half or more of the dozen have advanced degrees.  But the odds against finding such a result among a randomly chosen group of twelve Americans are actually more than a million to one.

I am going to love this book!

Capitalism And The Free Market

As I sit here “flying my desk” I continue to receive confirmation notes from Amazon that:

  1. My order has been confirmed
  2. My order has been shipped

These notes come complete with tracking numbers that allow me to view the status of each order and, then, to see where FedEx is in shipping each order.  It’s my hope that in the coming year I will have outdoor cameras/locked delivery boxes that will allow me to view the delivery of each package.

In any event, I am struck by the absolute and sheer awesomeness of a marketplace that is open 7x24x365.  I’m able to shop for goods around the globe at any time of the day.  Most specifically, a time of day that is convenient for me.

In addition to the fact  that the market makes available global goods of all kinds at any time of day, I don’t have to leave my desk, or sofa, or tub or wherever I am accessing that market place from.  I am able to order, pay for and then have delivered to me my goods and never even leave the house.  Depending on my specific state of organization, this may be literally true.  I could order a book and have it delivered to me before I even ever need to leave the house.

And this whole trade I make with the market place makes me richer.

I value having a book delivered to me more than I value the $10.50 it cost me.  By definition, I become more “wealthy” as a result of this transaction.  As each transaction adds up, I become even MORE wealthy.  Bird food delivered to my door?  More wealthy.  Bakugans for the boy?  More wealthy.

And the genius is that Amazon becomes more wealthy too!  They value the $10.50 more than they value the capital it took to establish the infrastructure to facilitate the sale.  Same with FedEx and the imbedded shipping charges.  And the publisher who printed the book.  And the author who penned it.  None of them would have entered into the arrangement had they not felt so.

We ALL become more wealthy as a result.

And it struck me.  If we reject capitalism, that each man is out to obtain the best value for himself, then what we are saying is that we would only desire to read books written by ourselves.  To wear clothes woven and stitched by ourselves.  Eat food grown or raised by ourselves.  And live i houses built by ourselves.

That, or enjoyed at the coercion of others.

Are there losers in capitalism, even as it functions “properly”?  Yes, without a doubt.  But it is the unmistakable sting of failure that drives us to succeed.  It is the joyous sense of success that drives us to avoid failure.

And so it must be.  It is how we evolved from that first strike of lighting in the primordial mud.  A series of experiments where some failed and withered while others succeeded and thrived.  Evolution is, in a sense, capitalism.

To reject the free market is to reject truth.  And instead rely on “faith”.  Faith that all men, or enough of them, will act in such a manner that is contradictory to his nature.

Of Having And Being: Dad

I’m Dad to two young kids.  A boy and a girl, both younger than 10.  There are several things that I think I’d like to improve on, but then again, there are a number of things I excel at.

With that said, I wanna relate a story that came un-summened to my mind just now as I’m working at organizing mind bendingly boring numbers.

I grew up in Minnesota; land of 10,000 lakes.  Literally, there are more than 10,000 lakes in that place; it’s crazy.  Anyway, we often would visit these lakes in the summer, camp and stuff.  Our weekends were FILLED with camping and fishing and turtle catching and fires and …. and stuff.

I remember going to a lake that I hadn’t remembered being at before.  Of course, later it would come to be a favorite spot of ours.  But that day, THAT day, it was new.  Anyway, so, dad and my brother and I drove to this lake, what, 30 minutes from  home, and we just kinda looked around.  Great location, easy to get to, close to a store and fed by a creek.  A creek.

We walked down to that creek and walked over a bridge.  A small bridge to be sure, no more than 8 feet across and but a yard high.  A foot bridge only, nothing but people and bikes could cross.  And as we walked over that bridge we saw a creek that fed that lake FULL of fish.  And when I say full, I mean full.  Fish were fishing.  The amount of fish in that water was amazing.  And we didn’t have our poles.

I begged dad to drive all the way home, pick ’em up and drive back.  It would be SO awesome to fish that creek!

I could see it in his eyes.  He wanted too, I KNOW he did.  But he just couldn’t justify the 30 minute drive home followed by another 30 minute drive back just to fish.  Those fish lived for another day and I was left fishless.

We didn’t do anything that day.  e just drove home later and ….. and hung out.  Shit, we may have been LOOKING for stuff to do when we got back, I don’t know.  I think that whole day stuck with me.

I’ll go wildly out of my way just to let the kids “fish”.

It won’t make sense.  I’ve driven back home, 20 minutes each way, just so that my kid would have his “lovie” at day care.  I’ve made that same drive to bring in a valentine day card for a teacher.

That’s the thing about being a parent.  My folks did things and I turned out like I am.  I am happy with me.  Should I change what they did?  And if I do, do I risk raising my kids so they grow up to be not like me?



Stinky Hippies and Greedy Corporations

I’ve been a long-hair since early 1988.  I did trim it some because I worked at a fascist amusement park that wanted to portray “family values” or something.  But after that, below my shoulders.  I had long hair even as I taught school.

However, it wasn’t until I took an office job that I began to pull it back and keep it tied.  So, for 12-13-14 years now, I’ve been a loyal fan of Scunci brand hair ties.  They don’t hurt your hair, ya know.

But man-o-man have they upset me.  Always I have found the ties to be incredibly durable.  Hot or cold, wet or dry, these things kept their tightness in tact.  The last batch I bought however, they lose their ability to remain tight after 3-5 days.  Then I have to pitch it and use another.

Corporate greed at it’s worse.  Creating a product that wears out quicker.

So listen up fleabaggers!  If you wanna protest, protest Scunci!

Minnesota Nice

I’m watching Bill O’Reilly just now; it’s paused* as I type.  He’s mentioning that Irene passed within 8 miles of his house; 8 miles to the WEST!  Jeepers, not many people are able to say that a hurricane passed to the West of ’em.

Anyway, hes talking about the fact that the storm brought out the best in people.  Folks made an effort to drive to their places of business in order to open for people who didn’t have power.  Profit motive maybe?

Sure, maybe.  But probably not.

I grew up in Minnesota.  We had highway 60 run right through town until the 4-lane came through and moved it outside of city limits.  Winters are, as you would think, harsh brutal affairs.  We would register at the city center and offer to house people who were caught on the highway and couldn’t continue.

Good times.

Once, in college, I suffered a flat tire.  While it was winter, it wasn’t brutally cold, only about 5 or 10 or so.  I changed that tire that night and made my way to the Perkins, open 24 hours.  A few folks were in there including some that knew me from my time tending bar.  They mentioned that they heard I was out on the highway with a flat but that I had the car jacked and was making progress.

While I’m sure that they didn’t keep “a-look-out” for me, it was nice knowing that they knew.  Cars were driving by and knew who I was.  They told other people and they knew to say that to me.

When I taught, I kept a house off the paved road.  While the water was running, it was cistern fed.  I had to have a truck deliver water to my house; I collected rain-water and snow.  I couldn’t cook or drink with t hat water, but hey; small town USA.

One night the neighbor down the way lost his barn in a fire.  The whole scene was filled with neighbors taking care of kids, hustling cattle and horses.  The barn, like I mentioned, was lost.  4 weeks after that fire we had a party at that farm.  A new barn held host to a dance and much beer, love and friendship.

Minnesota, rural Minnesota, even in modern times, is still a place that can sneak up ya.  Neighbors act decent because we’re a community.  We know that we may be needed to deliver food, or labor or donate a horse or sheep.

Most of America is like this.  Or would be like this if blizzards hit like they hit in Minnesota.  Or if flat tires meant danger, like in Minnesota.  People care, they wanna help their neighbor.  They want to know that the place they live is a good place.  Where you are cared for even as you care.

I wonder why we don’t think that’s the case?

*  Paused.  Awesome.  My children have never watched TV that they couldn’t pause.  I had 4 channels in total until I was 13.  We did have a color TV, but it had knobs.  The days…

Markets In Everything: Domain Names

If you’re lucky you too can make money on the internet:

The owner of the domain names and has put a price on the rights to the websites: $50,000 each.

The auction is a clear sign that the presidential race is heating up, as the cottage industry of presidential domain names gears up for profit.

Funny world.

Hurricane Irene Update

The view down my driveway to the street.  So far, just an afternoon of cleaning up twigs, leaves, pine cones and junk.  We’ve been lucky.

The rest of the state has a bit more in terms of damage:

But Progress Energy is doing yeoman’s work:

The company has amassed an army of more than 1,000 line workers, tree crews and support staff from five states – more than three times the normal complement of workers in the region – and crews are ready to conduct damage assessment and begin large-scale repairs as soon as weather conditions permit. In some areas, tropical storm-force winds are expected to linger through Saturday evening, hampering repair efforts. To ensure their safety, crews cannot work in winds of 39 mph or higher.

North Carolina counties with the largest numbers of outages as of 10 a.m. included New Hanover (58,000); Carteret (22,000); Onslow (19,000); Craven (16,000); Johnston (13,200); Wake (12,000); Lenoir (10,200); Pender (10,000); Columbus (9,000); Brunswick (8,300); Duplin (8,000); Sampson (7,000); Nash (6,600). Numerous other counties had scattered outages from the coast to the Triangle.

Keep those workers in your thoughts and prayers.

But, do we think we’ll suffer the fate of Japan?

NEW YORK, Aug 27 (Reuters) – Nuclear power plants along the U.S. East Coast are braced for the impact of Hurricane Irene which is churning north toward New York and New England after making landfall in North Carolina on Saturday.

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission said it sent additional staff to monitor conditions and storm preparation at the fourteen nuclear units from Maryland to New Hampshire in Irene’s path as well as a nuclear fuel production plant in North Carolina.

Plant employees are securing equipment and readying extra staff for the storm.  Dominion Resources Inc will reduce power at its two-unit 2,111-megawatt Millstone plant in Connecticut ahead of the storm, a company spokesman said on Saturday.  Progress Energy’s Brunswick nuclear plant, perched on the North Carolina coast, cut to 65 percent power late on Friday and does not expect to return to full power until after the storm has fully passed, a spokesman said on Saturday.

Dominion shut down its North Anna nuclear power station because of an earthquake on Tuesday.  The two-unit, 1,950-megawatt North Anna nuclear plant will remain shut through the storm.  The company’s two-unit, 1,598-MW Surry plant in Virginia was designed to withstand winds of 360 miles per hour and is expected to remain at full power throughout the storm, a spokesman said on Saturday.

It appears that our power plants are well tended to:

It’s not over, she’s slowed down, but it appears that it could have been a lot worse here in Carolina than it could have been.

God’s speed to those in her path as she moves North!