We’re Having a Heat Wave

Indiana and much of the Midwest have suffered from high temperatures for the last two weeks. Every day we have had highs in the upper 90’s. This is the kind of weather I really don’t care for. With storms, tornadoes, floods and the like, you get a bit of excitement or you’re too busy to think about how miserable things are. With cold weather you can put on a few more layers. But in heat, you can only sweat, or stay inside and crank up the air conditioner and wonder how you are going to pay the electric bill.

As Thomas Paine might have written, “These are the times that fry men’s soles”.

 

More Green Mischief

A while back I mentioned that some protesters had destroyed a field of experimental genetically modified crops in Belgium. I have since read about similar incidents in Germany and now Walter Russel Mead writes about Australian Greenpeace “activists’ doing the same in their country.

Science is a funny thing in the hands of today’s global greens.

Greens decry their political adversaries as unsophisticated, anti-science simpletons for questioning the empirical evidence behind global warming.

Yet when it comes to scientific evidence that hurts their cause, the greens are full out flat earthers. Take genetically modified foods, for example: the scientific community has generally concluded that they are perfectly safe for consumption and that the widespread use of GMOs will help feed the world’s poor.  These conclusions are at least as “settled” as the evidence for climate change.

The sober response of the “reality based” and “pro-science” greens?  Yesterday, Australian Greenpeace activists snuck into a government run farm and destroyed a crop of genetically modified wheat.

It is strange that a group of people that call themselves “Progressives” seem to be against progress of any sort. It’s a good thing these people weren’t around during the Neolithic period. They would have probably protested against the invention of agriculture, calling planted crops “frankenfoods“, and insisted that everyone only eat organically hunted and gathered food.

Our Leader Speaks

USA Today ran a piece by President Obama today titled “Go ‘big’ on debt deal”, in which he discusses our fiscal situation. I just want to say that I am beginning to fear for his mental health. I honestly think he has lost touch with reality.

He begins well enough,

For years now, America has been spending more money than we take in. The result is that we have too much debt on our nation’s credit card — debt that will ultimately weaken our economy, lead to higher interest rates for all Americans, and leave us unable to invest in things like education, or protect vital programs like Medicare.

Neither party is blameless for the decisions that led to this debt, but both parties have a responsibility to come together and solve the problem. That’s what the American people expect of us. Every day, families are figuring out how to stretch their paychecks a little further, sacrifice what they can’t afford, and budget only for what’s truly important. It’s time for Washington to do the same.

Both parties are, of course, to blame. Both Democrats and Republicans have been spending our money like so many drunken sailors. But I really wish that Mr. Obama would take the blame for the unprecedented amount of “stimulus spending” that his administration has been responsible for these last two years

But over the last few months, I’ve also said that I’m willing to cut historic amounts of spending in order to reduce our long-term deficits. I’m willing to cut spending on domestic programs to the lowest level in half a century. I’m willing to cut defense spending by hundreds of billions of dollars. I’m willing to take on the rising costs of health care programs like Medicare and Medicaid, so we can meet our obligations to an aging population.

Some of these cuts would eliminate wasteful spending, weapons we don’t need, or fraud and abuse in our health care system. Still, some of the cuts would target worthwhile programs that do a lot of good for our country. They’re cuts that some people in my own party aren’t too happy about, and frankly, I wouldn’t make them if we didn’t have so much debt.

But the American people deserve the truth from their leaders. And the truth is, you can’t get rid of the deficit by simply eliminating waste and fraud, or getting rid of pet projects and foreign aid, like some have suggested. Those things represent only a tiny fraction of what we spend our money on.

But he doesn’t give any specifics on what he thinks we should cut. So far, I have not heard him even consider cutting spending on any of his pet projects like Obamacare, or all of that stimulus. But next he get what he’s really after.

At the same time, it’s also true that if we tackle our deficit with spending cuts alone, it will likely end up costing seniors and middle-class families a great deal. Retired Americans will have to pay a lot more for their health care. Students will have to pay a lot more for college. A worker who gets laid off might not have any temporary help or job training to fall back on. At a time of high gas prices, we’ll have to stop much of the clean energy research that will help free us from our dependence on oil.

That’s why people in both parties have suggested that the best way to take on our deficit is with a more balanced approach. Yes, we should make serious spending cuts. But we should also ask the wealthiest individuals and biggest corporations to pay their fair share through fundamental tax reform. Before we stop funding clean energy research, we should ask oil companies and corporate jet owners to give up the tax breaks that other companies don’t get. Before we ask college students to pay more, we should ask hedge fund managers to stop paying taxes at a lower rate than their secretaries. Before we ask seniors to pay more for Medicare, we should ask people like me to give up tax breaks they don’t need and never asked for.

The middle class hasn’t just borne the brunt of this recession; they’ve been dealing with higher costs and stagnant wages for more than a decade now. It’s just not right to ask them to pay the whole tab — especially when they’re not the ones who caused this mess in the first place.

That’s right. Raise the taxes on those evil rich who caused the mess we are in. He doesn’t want to cut any of his projects like “clean energy research” that is going nowhere. Of course he has to throw that bit in about corporate jets. That facts of the matter are that eliminating tax breaks for oil companies and corporate jets wouldn’t even begin to pay for the increased spending that has occurred on his watch. Confiscating the wealth of every millionaire wouldn’t make a dent on our national debt. Our problems come not because the government is not getting enough revenue but because our leaders can’t stop spending, even if their lives depended on it. Either Obama knows this and is the biggest liar we have ever had in the White House, or he believes what he is saying and has lost it.

Trillions and Trillions

The United States Federal Government is more than $14 trillion in debt. I think that one of the problems in our political discussions over the debt is that the human mind is simply not designed to comprehend such large numbers. We may understand them on an intellectual level but not on an emotional or “gut” level. I am not sure what the largest number we can really understand intuitively, maybe 20 or 100. Anyone can instantly tell the difference between 10 and 20 or 50 and 100, but when it comes to millions or billions, it’s harder to compare.

The largest number the ancient Greeks and Romans used was the “myriad” which was 10,000. So 50,000 was 50 myriad, 1,000,000 was 100 myriad, and so on. This went up all the way to a myriad myriad which means 100,000,000. They didn’t really need any numbers larger than that.

By the time of the Renaissance, mathematicians and bankers needed larger numbers. The precise meaning of large number names varies from country to country. I will be using American usage.  A million is a thousand thousand. The word million was coined sometime in the 14th century from French and Italian. A billion is a thousand million. The word was coined around 1680 and means simply two + million. A trillion is a thousand billion. The word was also coined around 1680 and means three + million. I could go on with quadrillion, quintillion, and so on but I think you get the point. Anyway mathematicians and scientists who use really large number use scientific notation, which is beyond the scope of this post.

All right now, let’s see if we can understand 14 trillion. Fourteen doesn’t seem to be a large number, does it? Well, let’s convert the trillions to billions giving us  14 thousand billion. That seems a bit larger. Now let’s go further down to millions. Now we have 14 thousand thousand million. One more step. Try thinking about 14 thousand thousand thousand. That sounds like a whole lot more than just 14 trillion.

Whichever way you put it, that is a truly astronomical number. It is more than the number of stars in our galaxy. It is more than the number of galaxies in the observable universe. It’s a little more than half the distance to Alpha Centauri, the nearest star, in miles, but give Obama a second term and I’m sure we’ll get there.

If any of this doesn’t help, here is a visual aid I got from life’s little mysteries.

What the 14 Trillion National Debt Looks Like
Infographic Source:

 

With all that in mind, the current controversy concerning the debt limit seems to me to be rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. The iceberg has hit us and we had better start plugging the hole.

Apollo Moon Landing

It’s a good thing I check Instapundit everyday. I didn’t realize that today was the anniversary of the first moon landing until Glenn Reynolds reminded his readers. He put in a link to Apollo images from NASA.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One giant leap.

There were indeed giants in those days. Lesser sons of great sires are we.

Indiana Has One of the Largest State Budget Surpluses

The Great Seal of the State of Indiana
Image via Wikipedia

Yay Indiana!!. The story is here at the Washington Times.

As Washington stares at rising national debt and projected deficits for years to come, many states are faced with the opposite problem: whether to spend their budget surpluses and, if so, on what.

At least a dozen states ended fiscal 2011 with surpluses. Indiana reported one of the largest, with an extra $1.2 billion in its accounts. Gov. Mitch Daniels, a Republican, on Friday authorized bonus payments of up to $1,000 for state employees. An employee who “meets expectations” will get $500, those who “exceed expectations” will receive $750 and “outstanding workers” will see an extra $1,000 in their August paychecks.

“No state anywhere comes close to Indiana’s record of spending tax dollars carefully, with total savings over the last six years in the billions. Your spending efficiency has enabled us to stay in the black even as revenues plummeted,” said Mr. Daniels, who recently flirted with a run for the White House but ultimately stayed out of the race.

While Indiana decided to reward its employees, other states are redirecting surplus funds into cash-strapped areas such as education. Idaho ended the year with an $85 million surplus, the majority of which will be funneled to public schools and colleges, Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter, a Republican, said in a statement last week.

I thought I read somewhere that we actually had largest surplus but I can’t find that anywhere. I must say though, that I do not really approve of Governor Daniel’s decision to give out bonuses to state workers. I would rather the money be put away somewhere for a rainy day, like when the federal government goes bankrupt and can’t give out money to the states anymore.

Megamind

We saw the movie Megamind at the Ohio Theater free summer movie yesterday. It was a hilarious spoof of Superman and super hero movies generally, told from the point of view of the super villain Megamind. I would have to say that so far, it is one of Dreamwork‘s best animated films.

Megamind is really, really bad.


And he’s on the highway to Hell.

Mein Kampf

Walter Russel Mead commemorates the publication date of Hitler’s masterpiece with this essay on the continuing problem of anti-Semitism. Although Hitler made it unfashionable to openly hate Jews, at least outside the Moslem world, there are still plenty of supposedly enlightened people who hold the nation of Israel to a standard they would never think to hold any other country too, except perhaps America. But they are not anti-Semites, just anti-Zionist.

Mead says it better than I ever could. The only reason I bring it up is to mention that I have tried to read Mein Kampf, once or twice. I swear it really is unreadable. I don’t know if the English translation does the German justice. If so, I wonder if any Nazis ever got around to reading it all the way through.

If you want to try, Amazon.com does have it. Why spend money though? You can download it for free from all sorts of places since the Hitler family gave up the copyright after World War II.

Yes, the Hitler family is still around. I read an article about them a long time ago. One branch of the family emigrated to England before World War I and a cousin of Hitler’s even fought on the British side. They’ve changed their names, though.

Obama is not Hitler

Former Saturday Night Live star Victoria Jackson compares President Obama to Hitler here.

Hitler, like Obama, was a “socialist” who came from a dysfunctional family, had a communist father who abused alcohol, womanized and sired several children from different mothers, had a white mother, suffered child abuse and neglect, moved often, lied about his birth and heritage, changed his name, was a narcissist, rose to power with the help of disreputable men, had the Rothschilds as financial backers, stirred up racial conflict and class warfare, wrote a biography about race at age 35, followed up with another book used to launch a political career, supported infanticide (partial-birth abortion), gave big speeches in stadiums, promised change and a new social order, had youth groups singing his praises, used propaganda, used voter fraud and intimidation, controlled the media, created “crises,” used a poor economy, hated Jews (Israel), pretended to be “Christian,” advocated population control and euthanasia, socialized medicine, formed a private army and then … killed his political opposition with his private army.

I don’t like Obama. I think he is an incompetent president. His political views are the most radically leftist of any president we have ever had. I hope and pray that he is defeated in his relection bid. I do not think this country will survive a second term with him as president.

Nevertheless, Obama is not Hitler. He is not Stalin, or Castro, or even Chavez. I do not know if he aspires to be a dictator. It’s possible, but right now I doubt it. I would really, really like to see a moratorium from both right and left on comparing American politicians to dictators. No one in American politics is the least bit like Hitler. I expect to left to indulge in such childish name calling. I expect better from our side.