From Pine View Farm

March, 2011 archive

I’m Getting Old 0

My little brother’s retirement luncheon was today.


Seen on the Street 0


Spill Here, Spill Now, Harder, Harder 0

Facing South reports on the Gulf of Petroleum:

SkyTruth, a West Virginia-based nonprofit, analyzed recent satellite imagery of the spill that was first reported on March 18. Assuming the thickness of the 2,427 square-kilometer slick was only 1 micron or one-millionth of a meter, the organization concludes the slick held at least 640,728 gallons of oil.

“That would make it a major spill (more than 100,000 gallons), and a heckuva lot more than the 4 gallons in total that was reported to the National Response Center,” SkyTruth states on its blog.

Following last April’s explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig, BP and the U.S. government claimed the well was leaking about 1,000 barrels of oil a day. But SkyTruth’s analysis of satellite imagery concluded the flow rate had to be at least 5,000 barrels a day and probably far more, leading the government to revise its own estimate upward.


Lines of Koch 0


Return of TV Worth Watching 0



Q&A 0

In the January issue (there’s a one issue lag before full articles hit their website), Psychology Today explored the techniques of four criminal investigators acknowledged by their peers as among the best at questioning witnesses and suspects.

Torture Enhanced interrogation techniques had nothing to do with it. The ability to read people and to establish a connection with them had a lot to do with it.

Here’s a nugget:

“On an elevator I’ll find out what I can between the first and fifteenth floor,” says Newberry. “I try to make people comfortable and if they’re not, I want to know why.” Newberry is soft-spoken and his physical presence is muted; perhaps the most noticeable characteristic about him is a tic in his right eye. He retired from the ATF in 1998, and lives on a secluded ranch in Northern California. . . .

Newberry likes to recount an incident from the beginning of his career in which a truck bomb killed a woman and child. At the scene was a man, rocking back and forth.

“I got down on my knees and said, ‘This is hard. I know you didn’t mean to do it.’”

“No,” the man responded. “She took the wrong car.”

Why did Newberry approach the man this way?

“Just a gut feeling.”


Fox News Fail Whale 0

Funny or Die collects the fail. From the website:

This is not about mocking Fox News for any political agenda. This is about the fact that the network clearly has a tendency for major onscreen gaffes, which may or may not undermine those political agendas. It’s also about alliterations. “Major MSNBC Mishaps” just sounds awkward.

Follow the link for the presentation.


The Republicans’ Bully Platform 0

A Colorado Republican considers the condition of her party and is disturbed. It is actually a pretty good description of the difference between today’s Republican Party and yesterdays.

She concludes that Republicans have become bullies. A nugget (emphasis added):

Somewhere along the road, Republicans lost their way. The party allowed just one group to act as our mouthpiece in exchange for a strong base of activists. It was a successful strategy for a few election cycles, but it ultimately damaged the Republican brand.

Instead of serving as the party that embraced fiscal restraint, limited government, and personal responsibility, Republicans morphed into the party that pointed fingers at wide swaths of the population, squinted our eyes, and put our hands on our hips, and said, as if in the schoolyard, “We don’t like you.”

And Colorado Republicans may be the biggest playground bullies of all.

Are you pro-life? Are you pro-sanctity of marriage? Are you pro-death penalty? Do you support the deportation of an estimated 12 million illegal aliens? If the answer to any of these questions is no or is nuanced, you are a RINO — a Republican in name only.

The bully theory, the party of “my way or I won’t play,” seems to be consistent with their behavior.

I recommend the column, particularly for those who consider themselves Republican because they’ve been life-long Republicans, by gum.



Rex Stout:

There are two kinds of statistics, the kind you look up and the kind you make up.


Update from the Foreclosure-Based Economy 0

Holy Bat Cave, Batman:

Neighbors living near a bat-infested Georgia home in foreclosure are trying to figure out what to do about the flying mammals.

They say the smell outside is so overwhelming they can’t sit on their porches and enjoy the spring weather.

A pest-control company has assessed the situation and sent a letter regarding options to the responsible fiscals at the bank that owns the property.

Why am I thinking they would have better luck opening a guano factory?


Facebook Frolics 0

Facebook, cells, and cells:

Via MarketWatch.


On! Wisconsin 0

Via Bob Cesca’s Awesome Blog.


The Puzzle of the Porcelain Buddha 0


Supplying Demand 0

The United States puts more persons in jail for more reasons than anyone else, including China and Russia, in both total numbers and percentage of population.

The United States has less than 5 percent of the world’s population. But it has almost a quarter of the world’s prisoners.

Diversity, Inc., examines the American Legislative Exchange Council, which lobbies for laws requiring tougher prison sentences. It’s supporters include include outfits such as the Corrections Corporation of America and the GEO Group who (surprise, surprise) run prisons for profit.

ALEC is comprised of nine task forces, each responsible for developing what it describes as “model legislation”—essentially, a wish list of laws addressing subjects they would like to see passed in states. Over the past several decades, private-prison operators like CCA and GEO Group have worked with ALEC to ensure the passage of some of the nation’s toughest laws that have lined their pockets and enriched their shareholders.


When private prisons were actively courting state lawmakers, companies such as CCA and GEO as well as their lobbyists gave $3.3 million to state-level candidates in the 2002 and 2004 election cycles, favoring states with some of the toughest sentencing laws, according to a 2006 report authored by Edwin Bender, director of the National Institute on Money in State Politics, which tracks state campaign funding and lobbying.

“Companies favored states that had enacted legislation to lengthen the sentence given to any offender convicted of a felony for the third time,” Bender says. “Private-prison interests gave almost $2.1 million in 22 states that had a so-called ‘three-strikes law,’ compared with $1.2 million in 22 states that did not.”

Read the whole thing and consider the effects when the only motive is the profit motive.

Here’s a link to the ALEC website (I couldn’t get it to work).


When All You Have Is a Hammer, Everthing Looks like a Nail 0

American foreign policy, via Comically Vintage.


Facebook Frolics 0

Welcome to Hotel Facebook.

You can log off, but you can never leave.

The person of interest in a Suffolk woman’s homicide was officially charged with murder, after investigators used a Facebook page to develop leads in the case.



Andrew Jackson:

I have always been afraid of banks.


Libya 0

I was talking with my brother the other day about Libya.

Neither one of it thinks much of the US shouldering its way into another country, though probably not for the same reasons. We did not discuss our personal reasons and neither one of us pretends to be a foreign policy expert steeped in the tortuous ways of realpolitik, international version–I don’t even play one on the internet; I’m just a loudmouth with a website.

We did agree that this has more to do with pulling other countries’ chestnuts out of the fire than it does with direct US interests, specifically, chestnuts belonging to France, the UK, and the members of the Arab League.

Consequently, I find Noz’s thoughts interesting, since he knows much more than I on this topic. A nugget:

. . . when asked why the u.s. is bombing libya and not syria, secretary of state clinton can’t just say, “libya is the low hanging fruit.” military campaigns are always wrapped up in moral language. this operation is allegedly to protect civilians in rebel-held areas. i do think that is one of the actual motives behind the bombing, but just one of them. so is the fact that other countries that the u.s. has important ties with don’t like qadhafi and would like to see him go. it’s hard for the administration to say out loud that we are doing something in libya because an absolute monarch sitting on top of the world’s largest oil reserve gave his blessing to that operation and it is very unlikely that he would give the same blessing for syria. it’s also hard to say that syria is next to iraq and israel and bombing syria will have large negative repercussions in those countries that the u.s. has already invested so much.

Bonus Link:

His take on “doctrine’s” is a hoot. Accurate, also.

When doctrinificating becomes

to every President there is a doctrine,
turn, turn, turn.

it has achieved silliness.


Are You Now or Have You Ever Been . . . ? 0

Freedom of speech means the freedom to speak the party line.

Free market place of ideas indeed. Can’t have that.

A free enterprise think tank in Michigan — backed by some of the biggest names in national conservative donor circles — has made a broad public records request to at least three in-state universities with departments that specialize in the study of labor relations, seeking all their emails regarding the union battle in Wisconsin, Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) and MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, TPM has learned.

Wingnut thought police. Only wingnut thoughts are permitted.


Free Ride 0