Monday, December 23, 2013

Four Missing Cyclists Found In California Mountains

According to the Associated Press:

ALTADENA, Calif.—Four mountain bikers missing overnight in the San Gabriel Mountains near Los Angeles have been found safe.
Los Angeles County sheriff's Lt. Angela Shepherd says the men were found around 8:30 a.m. Monday after spending a night in the chilly Angeles National Forest. She says they were uninjured.
The men began their ride from Mount Wilson to Pasadena on Sunday morning but failed to return in the afternoon as planned.
Sheriff's Sgt. David Shoemaker tells City News Service that the four—cousins between the ages of 28 and 38—had no phone contact and weren't dressed for a night in which temperatures dropped into the 40s.
In the background are the San Gabriel Mountains, in the foreground is Santa Anita Park, a horse-racing venue with an attendance of thousands several days a week. Is it even possible to imagine the suffering of these four, lost in the remote mountains without cell phones while temperatures plummeted into the 40s.  Being cyclists, and non-smokers, these intrepids couldn't have had matches or a lighter to make a little campfire.  We don't know if the cyclists were wearing typical bike clothing or duds more adapted to the frigid conditions in December SoCal but no doubt they were very uncomfortable. There might be an exciting article in Outdoor when these guys get released from medical care.  Or maybe a TV series on A &E.

It turns out that the guys actually did have a fire going according to this L.A. Times story.  They were confused by the various trails in the neighborhood. Kind of like being lost in downtown Milwaukee.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Who Speaks For Poverty?

In the mid-nineteenth century Charles Dickens, who had gone through some hard times as a child due to his father's business reversals, made a good living writing books like "Oliver Twist" and stories like "A Christmas Carol" that endure today as descriptions of the economic injustice of Victorian society.  Other writers have carried on the tradition, Upton Sinclair's "The Jungle" wasn't meant to be an exposure of unsanitary conditions in the meat packing industry but was instead an attempt to draw attention to the dangerous and unrewarding life of the immigrant labor force. Sinclair himself was already a successful author and became a candidate for California governor.  B. Traven, the mystery man that penned stories like The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, specialized in depicting the life of the underclass. Barbara Ehrenreich, a Phd. in cell biology, worked low-wage jobs to gather material for her 2001 book, Nickel and Dimed, On (Not) Getting Along In America, an expose' of the deplorable life of the working poor.

The point is that the poverty mitigation industry is staffed by fairly affluent people. Those who seem most dedicated to alleviating the purported suffering of the poor could be seen as exploiting their condition. What do the poor themselves have to say?

We're in an age where literally anybody can distribute information to a world-wide audience, just as I'm doing at this moment.  And for free. Almost all public libraries in the US have free computer internet access. Stroll into any library and you'll see computers manned by apparently financially disadvantaged users.  Otherwise they'd be using the fairly reasonably priced home access with what are now cheap PCs. Continue your stroll among these users and glance at their screens.  They're playing games, looking at Facebook, watching movies, etc.  Sign up for a computer yourself and see if you can find a blog written by an actual poor person. I found one, a homeless Arsperger's Syndrome victim in San Diego. On the other hand, there's a mountain of pixelated material authored and refereed by individuals whose occupation is pointing out poverty, its causes and remedies. These individuals are not poor, however. Of course, this phenomenon doesn't just take place in computer world. The mastodon media, too, and the political cesspool, are consumed with passion for the plight of the poor. How about some commentary from the poor themselves.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Optum Pro Cycling Ladies Team Adds Some New Personnel

Press release from Optum Pro Cycling:

 Orange and Black Bolsters 2014 Women's Roster With New Signings, New Directorship December 5th | Minneapolis, MN

 Optum Pro Cycling presented by Kelly Benefit Strategies announced the 2014 roster for its women's program, with several new additions to a team with four current reigning national champions. Amber Pierce, formerly of Team Pasta Zara, and Maura Kinsella, formerly of Team NOW and Novartis for MS, round out an 11-woman roster that retains its key elements from 2013. US Road National Champion Jade Wilcoxson, Canadian Road Race and Time Trial Champion Joelle Numainville, Canadian Criterium National Champion Leah Kirchmann, and New Zealand Road Race National Champion Courteney Lowe all return. Also returning for '14 are Denise Ramsden (2012 Canadian Road Race Champion), Lauren Hall, Brianna Walle, Janel Holcomb (2011 NRC Champion), and Annie Ewart. "It's with great pleasure that we welcome Amber and Maura into our program for 2014," said Performance Director Jonas Carney. "Amber has extensive

European experience and will immediately contribute critical veteran leadership on the road, while Maura is an explosive young talent and an excellent fit on a
 Maura Kinsella Leads the Field
team already stocked with star power." The team also brings in all-new leadership for 2014 – Kevin Field, formerly Sports Director at Team SpiderTech, brings a decade of directing experience to the table; it will be the first time Field has directed a women's program. He will be assisted by Pat McCarty, recently retired from the pro circuit from Bissell Pro Cycling. The duo brings invaluable international experience and leadership, and will focus on building the team's significant palmares. "Our new director Kevin Field is an old friend and has lots of experience directing in Europe for Team SpiderTech and Trek-Livestrong," said Carney. "In addition, our new assistant director Pat McCarty is a decorated cyclist in his own right, and brings further insight and knowledge to the team. It is great to have them join our family." Field, a native of Ottawa, Canada, is pleased to once again be directing his home country's top talent on the bike, flanked by some of the US' and New Zealand's fastest women. "It's wonderful coming into a program that isn't in a rebuilding phase, but one that's looking to improve upon its already significant accomplishments. I'm excited and honored to accept management duties for the women's program alongside so many old friends and great colleagues," said Field. "What Joelle and Leah were able to accomplish at the Canadian National Championships this past season was incredible; sweeping the road titles. As a Canadian, I was humbled and proud of their performance. To have them complimented by riders like Jade Wilcoxson, with what she has done in such a short period as a professional, means we will have quite an arsenal in 2014." The lineup represents Performance Director Jonas Carney's emphasis on bringing in well-rounded athletes with a variety of complimentary personalities and skills. "We're not a group of individuals wearing the same colors. We're a team and a family. Before we bring new personnel onboard we make sure that they're not only going to fit in with our system, but improve it," said Carney. "Ultimately we hire people that are proud to represent Optum and our other partners as both bike racers and brand ambassadors." The team aims to retain all five of their national championship titles, earn an invitation to the inaugural Tour of Britain (UCI 2.1), and return to the World Team Time Trial Championships in 2014. They finished 8th in the event in Florence in their first ever TTT event together; they consider a top five in this discipline a major goal for 2014's world championship in Ponferrada, Spain.

A needed reminder on land transfers: Senator tells BLM nominee about unmet promises to state and Native corporations

Fairbanks Daily News-Miner editorial Sen. Lisa Murkowski on Tuesday took an opportunity to highlight the fact that the state of Alaska and many Alaska Native corporations still lack title to the federal lands they were promised decades ago. Much progress has been made in recent years, but it’s important to keep the issue in front of top federal land managers until the job is done. Murkowski, R-Alaska, brought up the topic during a Senate committee hearing in Washington, D.C., on the nomination of Neil Kornze to become the new national director of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. Kornze, a former top aide to U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has led the agency on a temporary basis since March. Alaska became a state 54 years ago and was promised about 105 million acres. Alaska Native corporations were to receive 44 million acres of land under the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act, which Congress passed in 1971 and President Richard Nixon signed — 42 years ago today. Yet title to more than a quarter of these lands has yet to be transferred, Murkowski said Tuesday. The state still lacks title to 37 million acres, while Native corporations are waiting on 11 million acres, she said. Not all of the delay is attributable to the federal government or its bureaucracy. One of the biggest problems has been a lack of money to survey the land before it is transferred. Murkowski and other members of the congressional delegation have helped provide the money, but it is a staggering total. Tens of millions of dollars are spent year after year. The effort is paying off. Title conveyances are now a regular feature in the Federal Register. Typical are two announced during the past week. On Monday, the BLM said it would transfer about 800 acres of surface title to the Paimuit Corp. near the village of the same name on the Bering Sea coast just north of Hooper Bay. Subsurface title goes to the area’s regional corporation, Calista. On Tuesday, BLM announced it would transfer surface title to 45.57 acres on Kodiak Island to the Koniag Corp., the regional Native corporation. Less typical is the announcement last week from the BLM about a transfer completion ceremony at the district office in Fairbanks. BLM’s Ron Dunton, deputy state director for lands and cadastral survey, signed the patent for the last 693.92 acres owed to the village corporation Evansville Inc. Evansville is located near Bettles on the Koyukuk River, 180 miles northwest of Fairbanks. The corporation now has title to the entire 69,149 acres promised by ANCSA. That’s progress. It was good of Sen. Murkowski to remind the new BLM director that it needs to continue.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Sean Scully At the US Embassy in London

An example of the work of daft Irish pigment mechanic Sean Scully, who has been selected to construct a sculpture to grace the US embassy in London, UK. This story tells us just a little about the controversy over US federal government profligacy in every way it can be manifested. It doesn't really matter that Sully's work is monumental finger-painting, it's that's simply too expensive.
This might be a model of the proposed sculpture or perhaps the actual item.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Chloe Hosking Australian Elite Female Road Cyclist of 2013

                       Embedded image permalink   Hi-Tec Products sprinter and all-around nice lady Chloe Hosking of Canberra has been named the Elite Female Road Cyclist of 2013 by Cycling ACT, a governing body of Australian cycling.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

2013 Wisconsin National Horse & Pony Pull

The Dunn County Recreation Center in Menomonie, Wisconsin was once again the scene of one the premier events of the year for working draft horses on the weekend of Sept. 13-15, the Wisconsin National Pull.  Horse pullers from all over the midwest gathered to test the strength of their horses against other teams in pulling either a weighted stone boat or the marvel of early twentieth century engineering, the Lance Machine.  photo 2013nationalhorsepull003_zpsbe8b1d15.jpg One of a number built at the University of Iowa in 1927 to determine the actual horsepower of a team of horses, the apparatus is used in lieu of the boat, eliminating the need to add concrete weights during the course of the contest.  photo 2013nationalhorsepull004_zps2d8ccb21.jpg  photo 2013nationalhorsepull005_zps83083087.jpg Prior to the Sunday contest Mike Larsen's heavy-weight Belgian drafters, Ted and Rusty, homebred half-brothers from the Larsen farm near Denmark, WI, wait for their entry into the arena.  photo 2013nationalhorsepull010_zpsa19f3c59.jpg Ted and Rusty were the only team to pull the required 27'06" with a number of 3900 on the Lance machine.  photo 2013nationalhorsepull015_zpsd0c55402.jpg Mike Larsen with his team and his championship trophy.

Replacement For the Galaxie 500

The surplus "MRAP", developed for and used by the US military in Iraq and Afghanistan at a price of supposedly $600,000 per copy, is being distributed to various US law enforcement agencies for use in serving warrants, as mentioned here.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

SWAT Team Kills 107 Year Old Man

In what may be a new record, the Pine Bluff, AR police have given the death penalty to a 107 year old fellow that refused to cooperate, as explained here.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

New York Times Falls Out of Love With Anthony Weiner

"At some point, the full story of Anthony Weiner and his sexual relationships and texting habits will finally be told. In the meantime, the serially evasive Mr. Weiner should take his marital troubles and personal compulsions out of the public eye, away from cameras, off the Web and out of the race for mayor of New York City. Mr. Weiner, who resigned from Congress two years ago after sending lewd messages and photos of his crotch to women he had not met, was forced to revisit the issue on Tuesday, and so were we all."

That's part of what the Grey Lady has to say about the husband of Mrs. Bill Clinton's confidant, Huma Abedin.  Why should anyone care if the obnoxious Weiner runs for the office currently held by the obnoxious Michael Bloomberg?  The reason the NYT is concerned is that there's a very real chance that Weiner could win the election, lending further disgrace to the already hopelessly flawed concept of democracy.  In the much vaunted democratic process, the majority of voters get to pick their leaders. If 50% + 1 of New Yorkers think Anthony Weiner is the guy for them, who can say them nay?  Isn't that what it's all about?

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Alexis de Toqueville Describes How Democracy Works

From Democracy in America, Chapter VI:

I seek to trace the novel features under which despotism may appear in the world. The first thing that strikes the observation is an innumerable multitude of men all equal and alike, incessantly endeavoring to procure the petty and paltry pleasures with which they glut their lives. Each of them, living apart, is as a stranger to the fate of all the rest – his children and his private friends constitute to him the whole of mankind; as for the rest of his fellow-citizens, he is close to them, but he sees them not – he touches them, but he feels them not; he exists but in himself and for himself alone; and if his kindred still remain to him, he may be said at any rate to have lost his country. Above this race of men stands an immense and tutelary power, which takes upon itself alone to secure their gratifications, and to watch over their fate. That power is absolute, minute, regular, provident, and mild. It would be like the authority of a parent, if, like that authority, its object was to prepare men for manhood; but it seeks on the contrary to keep them in perpetual childhood: it is well content that the people should rejoice, provided they think of nothing but rejoicing. For their happiness such a government willingly labors, but it chooses to be the sole agent and the only arbiter of that happiness: it provides for their security, foresees and supplies their necessities, facilitates their pleasures, manages their principal concerns, directs their industry, regulates the descent of property, and subdivides their inheritances – what remains, but to spare them all the care of thinking and all the trouble of living? Thus it every day renders the exercise of the free agency of man less useful and less frequent; it circumscribes the will within a narrower range, and gradually robs a man of all the uses of himself. The principle of equality has prepared men for these things: it has predisposed men to endure them, and oftentimes to look on them as benefits.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Bad Cop David Clifford Will Serve 2 Years & 4 Months, Maybe

Former Minneapolis SWAT team executive officer, Sgt. David Clifford, was sentenced to half the state-recommended guideline for his conviction for first degree assault, three years and seven months, which means that he'll have to spend two thirds of that sitting around in some warden's office making phone calls and playing on the computer while his victim tries to resume a normal life, as explained to some degree in this Star-Tribune account. The St. Paul Pioneer Press has a little different take on the affair. Clifford stated that he "decided to be a cop when no police intervention was necessary". In other words, if you're a cop on duty it's OK to go up and punch a person in the face. He probably does believe that. Neither article brings out the fact that Clifford immediately ran away and hid, turning himself in to the authorities while accompanied by his attorney the next day. A neat guy.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

"Threatening manner", refusal to obey, earn death penalty

A Phoenix cop decided to skip the judicial process and used law enforcement's principal pacification technique to neutralize a knife-wielding citizen, according to this item in the Arizona Republic.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Fabiana Luperini Disqualified in Stage 6 of Giro Rosa

Thirty-nine year old Italian cycling legend Fabiana Luperini, winner of five of the various versions of the Giro Rosa/ Donne/Italia d'femminile and currently riding for the Faren-Kuota team, was disqualified from this year's edition of the race following her arrival at San Domenico ski resort in the Lepontine Alps fourth in the stage. Luperini's bike was weighed, along with all of the top five finishers, and found to be 200 grams under the 6.8 kg. minimum required by UCI rules. She had finished third in the previous stage and was also third in the general classification standings at the beginning of stage 6. The stage was won by 2010 winner American Mara Abbott, who leads the general classification by 2 minutes and 40 seconds with one stage and a time trial to go.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Associate Supreme Court Justice, Don't Wanna Retire At Age 80

Appointed to the US Supreme Court by Bill Clinton in 1993, after being recommended by Attorney General Janet Reno, who also recommended the assault on the Branch Davidians near Waco, TX, the octogenerian jurist has vowed to maintain her place on the highest court in the land, according to this article by Reuters.  Ginsburg, one-time general counsel of the ACLU and a proponent of women's rights, was criticized during her confirmation hearings for never having hired an African-American among the 57 clerks, interns and secretaries that worked for her during her 13 years on the federal bench at the US Court of Appeals in Washington, DC.

Orders of George Washington to General John Sullivan, at Head-Quarters May 31, 1779

The Expedition you are appointed to command is to be directed against the hostile tribes of the Six Nations of Indians, with their associates and adherents. The immediate objects are the total destruction and devastation of their settlements, and the capture of as many prisoners of every age and sex as possible. It will be essential to ruin their crops now in the ground and prevent their planting more.
I would recommend, that some post in the center of the Indian Country, should be occupied with all expedition, with a sufficient quantity of provisions whence parties should be detached to lay waste all the settlements around, with instructions to do it in the most effectual manner, that the country may not be merely overrun, but destroyed.
But you will not by any means listen to any overture of peace before the total ruinment of their settlements is effected. Our future security will be in their inability to injure us and in the terror with which the severity of the chastisement they receive will inspire them.

Fitzpatrick, John C (1931–1944). "Instructions to Major General John Sullivan"The writings of George Washington from the original manuscript sources, 1745–1799. Electronic Text Center, University of Virginia Library. Retrieved 2007-11-14.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Mark Steyn Describes the US Government

As I say, just another day in the life of the republic: A corrupt bureaucracy dispensing federal gravy to favored clients; a pseudo-legislature passing bills unread by the people's representatives and uncomprehended by the men who claim to have written them; and a co-regency of jurists torturing an 18th century document in order to justify what other countries are at least honest enough to recognize as an unprecedented novelty. Whether or not, per Scalia, we should "condemn" the United States Constitution, it might be time to put the poor wee thing out of its misery.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Alaska State Trooper retires so he can go back to work for troopers

Here we go again, a public employee gets his much deserved retirement and then goes right back to work for the same agency, effectively doubling his income.  No financial details in this story from the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner but the most essential ones are obvious.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Can Political Freedom Survive the Welfare State?

James Taranto, in his daily "Best of the Web" column in the on-line Wall Street Journal, has been exploring the ramifications of the IRS targeting of Tea Party groups.  The implications aren't pretty.

Can Political Freedom Survive the Welfare State? 
A point this column has emphasized repeatedly is that if the Internal Revenue Service scandal turns out not to have been directed by the White House, the situation is much direr than if it turns out Barack Obama or Valerie Jarrett was giving the orders. In the latter case, we have a corrupt administration; in the former, a corrupt government. Reader Thomas Hodson, responding to a Friday item on the subject, has this penetrating elabortion on the idea:
The possibility you omit is that every IRS employee over GS-12 instantly recognized that the Tea Party is a credible threat to the IRS as an organization. I am quite confident that nobody had to issue any orders, directions, suggestions, hints, or blow any dog whistles for them to know what to do to defend their jobs and promotion possibilities. Indeed, the difficulty for the GS-14s, -15s, and SES-types would be to prevent this kind of activity, assuming that the 14s, etc. were so inclined, which I doubt very much. It was not an accident, either. Even if every single one of the elected federal officials were a Republican, and even if the entire federal bureaucracy were populated by Republicans, you would still get this self-protective behavior from IRS leadership and staff.
In my view, this episode reveals a problem that is much worse than the sort of political direction at which you hint. It means that the only remedy is to remove the institutional incentives for this kind of behavior. The only way I can see to do that is to eliminate the federal power of direct taxation. There is a reason that the Framers deprived the federal government of this power, being concerned as they were, especially Madison, to impede the use of government power for political ends.
This is much more than a mere political scandal. I have not been able to conceive of a clearer illustration that with the power of direct taxation, any government, even the U.S. Government, can become over time as totalitarian as it finds useful. Nevertheless, even the most limited-government-oriented commentators I have heard or read are still treating it as a political scandal.
Abolishing direct taxation sounds good to us. But how does one pay for a vast (or even only half-vast) welfare state without it? Abolishing the welfare state sounds good to us too, but even paring it back has proved tough to sell politically. If the welfare state inexorably erodes freedom, that poses a hell of a political problem for those who cherish the latter.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Interesting Fact of the Day

US government sources estimate that 48% of the Americans that own riding lawn mowers also have health club memberships.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Joelle Numainville Canadian Time Trial National Champion and Elite Women's Road Race Champ

Optum Pro Cycling p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies second year team member Joelle Numainville has captured the Canadian Women's National Time Trial crown at St. George, Quebec by a 20 second margin over Anika Todd, averaging 40.6 km/hr over the 27 km. course.  The next day she overcame a puncture and went on to sprint past team mate Leah Kirchmann and former team mate Lex Albrecht for her second national championship in as many days.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Tibco Women Win At Nature Valley GP

German Claudia Hausler, victor in the 2009 Giro Donne, won the Stillwater Criterium, final race in the Nature Valley GP series.  Hausler moved into the NRC  lead with 822 points, Allison Powers is second with 730 and Shelley Olds third with 688.

After the Optum win on Friday night in the Minneapolis Uptown Criterium, it looked like the orange and black clad ladies had everything going their way.  New US road champion Jade Wilcoxson had won the previous day's  road race near Cannon Falls, MN and her powerful team had delivered her first to the line in Uptown as well.  The long and wearying Menomonie, WI road race on Saturday, however, ended with Wilcoxson having the infinitesimal advantage of one second over Tibco star and 2012 Olympian Shelley Olds, who had worked hard to collect as many bonus seconds as possible.  On the final turn at Stillwater leading to the finish on Chilkoot Hill, Wilcoxson crashed into the outer barriers and was unable to cross the finish line.  Given the time that the group she was with, she lost the general classification to Olds by 8 seconds.

Overall winner Shelley Olds also won the NVGP women's GC in 2010.

Best young rider winner Denise Ramsden of Optum Cycling and the Canadian Olympic team.

            St. Paul Criterium winner Lauren Hall and Tibco mainstay Samantha Schneider.

                             Optum super rookie Brianna Walle finished fifth in the general classification.

All-around threat Joelle Numainville finished sixth in the GC

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Optum Lady Cyclists Dominate Nature Valley Grand Prix

New US elite women's road racing champion Jade Wilcoxson pedals her red, white and blue bike across the finish line first in the Minneapolis Uptown Criterium on Friday night. (Star-Tribune photo)

Defending champion and current US time trial queen Carmen Small from Specialized-Lululemon and Team Tibco sprinter Shelly Olds are making a serious effort but no one else seems capable of slowing down the Optum ladies team led by current US champion Jade Wilcoxson.  On a pleasant Friday night in the Minneapolis dining and entertainment destination Uptown neighborhood Wilcoxson continued her remarkable season with a criterium win a day after victory in the Cannon Falls road race. Seven of the first eleven positions in the general classification are held by Optum riders.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Alaskan Bear Kills Man

A 64 year-old Fairbanks resident has been killed by a bear outside his cabin near Delta Junction, AK.  The linked article from the Daily News-Miner website indicates that extensive scientific investigation will be done to ascertain if a bear killed by a state trooper near the scene is, indeed, the guilty party.  Legal authorities were informed of the incident by a cell phone call and responded with two helicopters and an airboat.  So much for the "wilderness" theory.

Even more notable, however, is the extension of societal norms to the animal world.  An animal that injures or kills a human has apparently broken some law requiring that it be pursued by the authorities.  A DNA swab and hair samples have been taken of the dead bruin to determine if, in fact, he is the killer of the innocent human.  And what happens if he's not?  Will state troopers comb the forest searching for bad bears until they get a match?  If the tooth marks seem to show that the dead bear is guilty, if a bear can be "guilty" in the sense that a human might be, is it case closed?

If a bear can't do bear-like things, mauling transient humans, for instance, in the now cell-phone inundated Alaska wilderness, where can he do it?  Shouldn't a human maybe have to accept some risk when he waddles into the domain of large carnivorous beasts?  If I take a nap in a dark alley in parts of Detroit I won't get much sympathy from the cops if somebody comes along and conks me in the head and leaves with my billfold.  They won't examine my body for DNA and try to match it with members of the local predator population.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Women's Cycling Team Sponsor Lululemon Loses 17% of Market Value

CEO Christine Day has left Canadian yoga wear company Lululemon, resulting in a humungous slide in the stock price of the trendy firm that's a title sponsor of one of the most successful women's international cycling teams. Founder Chip Wilson lost $600 million in assets in a single day.  No word on what possible effect the financial reversal will have on the cycling team's future or on yoga fashion.

European "Austerity" in Graphical Form

Total general government revenue and expenditure in billions of euros — European Union (27 countries)
Source: Eurostat, Government revenue, expenditure and main aggregates.

Total general government expenditure in billions of euros
Source: Eurostat, Government revenue, expenditure and main aggregates.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

June 9, 1943, A Splendid Anniversary

This from the blog Zero Hedge

Happy "Withholding Tax" Day

On this day in 1943 the “Current Tax Payment Act”, was passed by Congress. It provides for income taxes on wages and salaries to be withheld by employers from paychecks. The purpose stated was that is was an emergency provision for the War. Sure — but it is still with us today. Milton Friedman, who was a key player in implementing the “tax withholding” system realized what he had done and sought redemption: "... It never occurred to me at the time that I was helping to develop machinery that would make possible a government that I would come to criticize severely as too large, too intrusive, too destructive of freedom. Yet, that is precisely what I was doing."

Nature Valley Fixed Gear Classic

The much-anticipated Nature Valley Bike Festival began on June 6 and continued through Saturday with the Fixed Gear Classic track competition at the National Sports Center Velodrome in Blaine, MN.  European track stars Franco Marvulli, Leon von Bon and Patrick Kos showed up for the races on the 250 meter steeply-banked wooden track, along with domestic riders from all over the country.

Perennial women's endurance champ Cari Higgins of the powerful Exergy 2016 team brought along a squad of junior ladies that appear to represent a big part of the next generation of female American track cyclists.
                High school junior Kirsten Williams, winner of the women's 40 lap scratch race.

      Cari Higgins and 18 year old protege Tara McCormick line up for the start of a race.

McCormick and high school junior Nadia Latzgo wait their turn in the team sprint competition.
                         National sprint champion Dana Feiss won the women's sprint omnium.
                      Kate Wilson, USA Cycling Elite Track Nationals Competitor.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Mia Loquai New Minnesota Elite Women's Criterium Champ

                Mia Loquai is ready to race.

The well-manicured lawns and boulevards surrounding the Minnesota capital grounds and the nearby Cathedral of St. Paul were the scene of the Minnesota State Criterium Championships on a breezy but pleasant Sunday, June 2.  The ladies elite competition figured to be a confrontation between veteran local riding star and previous winner Teresa Moriarity and relatively new threat Mia Loquai.  The small remaining field wasn't able to change this script and the race became a two rider break with Loquai pulling away from Moriarity on the final climb to the finish line.

The sprint to the finish line.

                    Golden girl of Minnesota road cycling Mia Loquai watches husband John compete in   the men's elite division after her victory over the ladies.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Scientific Observation of the Day

If the electro-magnetic spectrum used by cellular telephone service could cure acne there wouldn't be a pimple on any college campus.

The Latest in School Defense

This story  tells us about the newest and most ridiculous idea in producing a zero risk environment for the nation's government school students.  When an armed psychopath enters a classroom with murderous intent the teacher will be able to grab the $300 white board from the wall and hold it between him and the shooter, fending off the hail of bullets.

But why, if school authorities can't guarantee the safety of students, should parents even be expected, much less required, to send their children to these magnets for schizos?

Saturday, April 6, 2013

The Missing Light Rail

In a country where a consortium of greenies and statist Keynesians are advancing all manner of bizarre transportation alternatives that will never produce the enthusiastic ridership predicted, there's one nice big opportunity for light rail  that never seems to get considered.  That would be the University of Minnesota inter-campus transport system.

There are two U of M campi in the Twin Cities, one in Minneapolis, the "Main U", and another in nearby St. Paul, the "farm campus".  The furthest distance between spots on the two venues is roughly six miles and regular free bus service is provided as often as every ten minutes for students going from one location to another.  So, why not a train, a light rail system, a trolley in new clothes?

Behemoth bus that totes students from one campus to the other.

While much of the route followed by the Campus Connector is on city streets, which can always be redesignated, some of it is an actual university limited-access highway restricted to official use, something that could easily be converted to a railbed, just as the the humongous light rail system running between the two downtowns parallels it for a distance.  Why not?

Could it be because the feds haven't sent a few trainloads full of money to the Gopher regents, who otherwise depend on the largesse of the state taxpayers and ever-increasing tuition receipts for liquid assets?  Wealthy alumni have donated funds in the past for the construction of buildings on campus, why not cajole one or more of them into financing a rail system?  Since it makes so much sense.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Karl Rove's Reply to Sarah Palin

Sarah Palin criticized in her folksy persona the strategists of the Republican party at the CPAC meeting in suburban DC for their failures in elections across the country as written here. Amazingly, failed Republican non-thinker Karl Rove rebutted Palin's assertion with the very same one repeated ad nauseum by left-leaning statists, that Palin had "quit" her Alaska governorship after her unsuccessful run for vice president with failed Navy pilot John McCain. There are a number of ways of looking at this. First of all, gangster politicians like Barack Obama, John McCain, John Kerry and battalions of others ran for higher office without resigning their incumbent position, in fact, campaigning for election while on the company payroll. Evidently, Americans are so accustomed to being fleeced by these power-mad psychopaths that they're unperturbed by such behavior and, in fact, consider it normal. Palin's integrity is so unusual that it's regarded negatively by these Bozos.
  Of course, if the supposedly conservative Republicans are ever going to get back in the batting order, they'll have to modify their message to dovetail with that of the progressives, luring in the voters with the same bait as that presented by the socialists.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Olympic and World Champion Marianne Vos Wins Ronde Van Drenthe

On a rainy, miserable weekend in the Netherlands the most dominant rider in the ladies' peloton returned from a foray into mountain bike competition to assert her credentials once more on the road.  In a crash-filled contest through the Dutch countryside, Vos was where she wanted to be in the meters before the finish, powerfully sprinting past Ellen van Dijk for her third consecutive win in the first women's UCI world cup event of the year.  It's the start of another successful road season for the super star of women's cycling.

Leah Kirchmann Runs Away at the Old Pueblo

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Winnipeg, MB native and Optum Pro Cycling-Kelly Benefit Strategies rider Leah Kirchmann defended the title she won last year in the annual downtown Tucson criterium with an impressive solo breakaway, nearly lapping the field and crossing the line 40 seconds ahead of field sprint leader Erica Allar. Kirchmann attributed her success not only to team tactics but also to an increase in her time trial training.

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Leah Kirchmann in her Canadian national champion kit last year.

  Exergy TWENTY16 track superstar Cari Higgins converted her banked track skills to a fifth place in the crit. DSCN0447 photo DSCN0447.jpg
Guam native and Cornell student Lenore Pipes finished 6th.
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Minnesotan Terra James won a field prime with 13 laps to race. 

Results from Cycling News:

Full Results

Elite women
1 Leah Kirchmann (Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies)
2 Erica Allar (Care4Cycling p/b Solomon)
3 Joanie Caron (Primal Pro Women p/b BH)
4 Lauren Hall (Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies)
5 Cari Higgins (Exergy TWENTY16)
6 Lenore Pipes (Care4Cycling p/b Solomon)
7 Christina Gokey-Smith (Rouse/Oogie Racing)
8 Jennifer Valente (ExergyTWENTY16)
9 Morgan Patton (Team Novo Nordisk)
10 Lauren Stephens (FCS|Zngine p/b Mr. Restore)
11 Tiffany Pezzulo (Primal Pro Women p/b BH)
12 Anne Donley
13 Annie Ewart (Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies)
14 Amber Gaffney (Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies)
15 Alisha Welsh (Sabino Cycles Racing)
16 Cinthia Lehner (Pepper Palace Pro Cycling)
17 Jessica Prinner (Care4Cycling p/b Solomon)
18 Christy Keely (Pepper Palace Pro Cycling)
19 Irena Ossola (Team Kenda)
20 Melina Bernecker (Primal Pro Women P/B BH)
21 Anna Sanders (FCS|Zngine p/b Mr. Restore)
22 Marilyn McDonald (Landis/Trek)
23 Melissa Ross (FASTER Performance Center)
24 Terra James (Team Kenda p/b RACC)
25 Carrie Cash Wootten (Pepper Palace Pro Cycling)
26 Kelli Emmett (Giant Bicycle)
27 Whitney Schultz (SkiNourishment p/b Paceline Projects)
28 Gwen Inglis (Team Kenda p/b RACC)
29 Amity Elliot (Team Kenda p/b RACC)
30 Kaytie Scott (Primal Pro Women p/b BH)
31 Julie Cutts (Primal Pro Women)
32 Nichole Wangsgard (Primal Pro Women p/b BH)
33 Kapri Gonzales (Landis/Trek)
34 Chloe Black (Sabino Cycles Racing)
35 Colleen Gulick (Team Kenda p/b RACC)
36 Kat Carr (SkiNourishment p/b Paceline Projects)
37 Judy Jenkins (Landis/Trek)
38 Katherine Ross (Pepper Palace Pro Cycling)
39 Lindsey Durst (FCS|Zngine p/b Mr. Restore)
DNF Lee-Ann Beatty (Body by Vi p/b VeloVie)
DNF Lisa Ribes (Sabino Cycles Racing Team)
DNS Rachel Byus (FCS|Zngine p/b Mr. Restore)
DNS Kimberly Truitt (Landis/Trek)
DNS Stacey Jensen (Team Kenda p/b RACC)

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Mrs. Bill Clinton's Travel Diet

This article from the UK's Daily Mail, which seems to cover US politics more effectively than any domestic paper, tells us about Mrs. Bill Clinton's passion for both chilis and air travel.  A new biography of the former First Lady by BBC reporter Kim Ghattas, who rode along with the Secretary of State a distance corresponding to 12 1/2 times around the planet, marvels at the stamina and endurance of the celebrated woman.  My, my.  Don't commercial pilots and crew members cover even more miles in the ordinary course of their working lives?  What's so hard about riding around in an airplane, eating free catered food and having internet access, along with a stable of servants?  It isn't like she's been walking from Quito to Cairo.  And what, exactly, has the pasty-faced power-seeker accomplished by burning up about 5 million gallons of  JP-4?  Most of the heads of state and their attendant thugs have adequate cell phone access, why not give them a call while baking some cookies for Bill?  Is peace breaking out in the middle east?  What else can this architect of international diplomacy brag about when she makes her run, as a 69 year-old, in the next presidential election?

There's a probably apocryphal tale about author Edna Ferber on a coast-to-coast flight asking the pilot to fly lower over Texas as she needed to gather the information to write her acclaimed novel "Giant".  No doubt the aerial travels of Mrs. Clinton have similarly made her an expert on the rest of the world.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Deification of Politicians

 In a democracy, or the much-lauded democratic republic, which is ostensibly the framework of government in the US, men are to be governed, not ruled, by the desires of the majority, circumscribed by the rights of the minorities, through the rule of law.  Humans, being what they are, seem to have dismissed that concept from the very beginnings of the country.  As soon as the Hessians embarked for their return to Europe there was talk of making George Washington a monarch.  A giant memorial to the father of the country was erected not far from the headquarters of his plantation.  His Gilbert Stuart portrait once adorned the plaster wall of every American schoolroom, his eyes following you as you got up from your desk and  walked out the door to the bathroom.  Even today, a couple of hundred years after his last official act, he takes a look at you as you pass a buck to the parking lot attendant.

Phallic symbol erected in the District of Columbia, in fact, in the city named for Washington, as a symbol of the country's love and respect.

Another much venerated politico was the commander-in-chief elected in 1860, who presided over the lethal offensive upon the independent southern states.  Abraham Lincoln personally ordered the military actions that culminated in the deaths of almost three quarters of a million fighting men, some as young as 14, their wives and children, and the destruction of their lodgings and livestock, all supposedly to free the slaves.  During this period and later he and his successors also engaged in the attempted extinction of the native tribes whose lands stood in the way of the railroads for whom Lincoln had been a legal representative.  This earned him, too, a sacred spot in the national capital.

  The Lincoln Memorial in the city named after Washington. Lots of  US towns are named after these two.
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  The statue inside the memorial of Honest Abe himself. Nothing idolatrous about it.

Of course Washington and Lincoln are major league politicos and deserve their god-like status.  Since their passing other, lesser elected public servants have had their memory perpetuated in marble or sometimes the more economical granite or even concrete.   The political backwater that is Minnesota, for instance, once revered "The Boy Governor", Floyd B. Olson, in office from 1931 to 1936.  While it's likely that present day Gopher Staters have no idea who he might have been, their despondent but appreciative forebears saw fit to memorialize him with an impressive statue on the capital lawn, unaware that even this tribute would fail to immortalize their progressive champion.
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Depression era Minnesota Governor Floyd B. Olson.

Hubert H. Humphrey, the "Happy Warrior" slithered into politics from a career as a druggist in small town South Dakota, winning election on his second attempt as mayor of Minneapolis, later becoming a US senator from Minnesota and eventually the Vice-President under Lyndon Johnson.  He was so beloved by the progressive Democratic Farmer-Labor party that he had been so instrumental in organizing that they not only have built a capitol lawn monument to him, they named a domed sports stadium after him.

Humphrey did a lot of pointing. 

Very impressive monument to any politician, the scene of the death throes of the 1987 St. Louis Cardinals and the 1991 Atlanta Braves, the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome is slated for demolition in 2014. Will its namesake be forgotten?  How can it be that a memorial to a people's champion can be destroyed?