The Recovery

I was reading along, minding my own business, when I came across this USAToday item about how Americans have come to expect that they won’t be in any better financial situation next year. Near the bottom is buried this little gem, emphasis mine:

A typical recovery pattern goes like this: stock market bottoms, economic growth bottoms and then hiring and wage increases return. What’s unique and scary about this recovery is that the last piece of the recovery is not there.

The author goes on to talk about how weak job creation has been throughout this “recovery”. It’s almost like he was thinking of this chart from Calculated Risk:

 

Now let’s keep in mind the various bits of financial news we’ve had this week: there were only 54,000 jobs created in May, barely enough to employ a third of the people new to the job market; housing prices are officially in a “double dip“; major stock market indexes are down for the 5th week in a row; 45 banks have failed this year, and almost a thousand more are in trouble; certain forces in government are talking about severe austerity that would cripple job growth and throw millions of people into poverty and disease, despite the contrary wishes of the American people.

Now tell me, where exactly do we get the idea that despite all this, we are actually in some sort of “recovery”? Only if you measure corporate profits without any regard for Human-Americans do we have anything of the sort.

In closing: history for sale; Roman fishing vessel may have had a live storage tank; sluts must be punished; at least they admit that meat isn’t the only source of protein (I also like the emphasis on fruits and veggies over grains); damned liberal facts!; truth isn’t what the media wants you to believe; I don’t quote the good professor enough; depressing; 3rd grade; 60 small changes; HA! Manager comes up with a check fast when the moving truck and sheriff’s deputies show up!; turns out that physical activity is good for kids (who knew???); and the War On Drugs is officially a FAILURE.

Public Service Announcement

If you’ve noticed that a bunch of your favorite blogs that usually update every day don’t have new posts, there’s a reason. I have it on good authority that Blogger is down. This good authority goes on to wonder how “fun” it would be to have a cloud computing outage when trying to get work done.

In Closing: Nat Geo decides they don’t want any trouble with the Yakuza; dead terrorist; happy; reality; new thing to do in Vegas (no gambling or drinking required); homeless in Vegas; scrutiny; statesrights; McCain regains sanity; awwww; reading; kids are capable when we let them be; on immigration; Social Security; and does Michelle Bachmann know more than a high schooler?

Tucker and Shorties vs Evil

Inspirational Story of the Day: Teen disappointed that he didn’t make the soccer team, so he loses 60 pounds and deadlifts 308 pounds. There are lots of things you can do if you want to badly enough.

Um, Yeah: I can see where meeting a co-worker in such a place might be bothersome. Just say “but it’s the Wall Street Journal! I thought it was business news!” if you get caught reading that at work.

Hi-Ho Silver! Away!: Now might be a good time to sell?

That’s a Good Point: Charity and God may go well together, but not always.

What Would Your Doctor Do?: Say no to nudie-scanners.

Let’s just put all this economic news in one spot: First, we’ve got payroll numbers, which are “rising” but at too slow a pace. Campaign for America’s Future reminds us that “it’s the economy, stupid” and “Americans want government to play a larger role in economic recovery.” Because big business doesn’t give a damn; after all there’s an entire rest of the world to exploit. Tiger Beatdown has a nice item on the ongoing class war that nobody [wealthy] wants to talk about. Meanwhile, more and more families are feeding their families with help from food stamps. Inflation is going to make things even worse for those of us who aren’t millionaires. Tim Iacono points out that the savings rate is even worse that we think. Teen joblessness may reach record levels this summer — which means expect idle teens to find ways to get into trouble. People are defaulting on their student loans. But hey, at least small businesses are borrowing money; maybe they’ll actually hire people.

How interesting: So with gas prices what they are and our nation importing oil, American oil companies are exporting more oil than they sell here! And best of all they are sucking down American tax dollars at the same time!

Even Shutting It is Controversial: Yucca Mountain. I guess some good padlocks aren’t sufficient, eh?

Fortune is Right: What good is a consumer protection agency that can’t protect? If Congress waters down consumer protections, or Elizabeth Warren doesn’t get to head the CFPB, you will know that our lawmakers have sold our souls to the banksters that ripped us off.

Susan’s Got a Point: It is called “special education” for a reason.

Eric Holder’s Vow is Worthless: Back in 2009 he vowed to stop raids on medical marijuana facilities (yeah, I’m no HuffPo fan, but the only better link was NYT). But I guess whatever forces really control the War On Drugs Used By Poor And/Or Brown People told him how stuff is: his office has warned states that they will prosecute anyone they think they can prosecute for medical marijuana. Never mind what the people think. Their opinion only counts on election day, after all.

The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same: Marie Osmond celebrated her wedding to her third husband… who just happened to have been her first husband. She even got to recycle her original wedding gown. Thanks, NutriSystem!

Shorties Highway

A few things about the Economy: Standard of Living; broke; working for nothing.

Wonder Wonder, Wonder Woman!: The History of the Universe as told by Wonder Woman.

Is it time to stop?: I don’t know.

Um, Yeah: Stock photos.

A sign of the Catpocalypse: Hello Kitty Hell tells you to buy Hello Kitty stuff by the 31st to support earthquake and tsunami relief.

A few things about Politics: Dems, Ur Doin It Wrong; Budget; Tax the Super Rich or Face a Revolution; Tom Hartmann.

Springtime in Vegas: Mojave Max says so.

Adapting: Sake.

And now for something cute: Smokey the Purring Cat. I bet that will wake you in the middle of the night!

Slight Overreaction

I’m having trouble figuring out where to begin on this one.

So Steven Seagal is now filming his little cop-show in Arizona, with Everyone’s Least Favorite Sheriff, Joe Arpaio. Mr. Seagal just happened to be along on a little raid of a suspected cock-fighting operation. Rather than do something rational like knock on the door yelling “THIS IS THE POLICE AND WE HAVE A WARRANT!”, somebody decided that the most prudent way to conduct this operation was to have “armored vehicles, including a tank” come through the neighborhood and knock one wall of the suspect’s home down. Neighbors panicked and called 911. It turns out that the suspect was alone and unarmed in the home. In the end, “Thousands of dollars in damages were made to the property and 115 birds were euthanized on the spot.”

Now, I’m going to ignore the nagging suspicion that maybe the chickens were in fact run over by the tank.

I’m even going to ignore the fact that the suspect in this case is still a suspect — innocent until proven guilty and all — who has just had his home made uninhabitable and un-securable. Nor will he be able to make arrangements for repairs to make his home secure until he can post bail or be found innocent. In other words, he’d better plan on never seeing any of his possessions again.

I’ll even ignore the undue fear created by police officers in the community, the role of the TV cameras, and all the controversy that curls around Sheriff Arpaio like Rapunzel’s hair.

Here’s my question: in a day and age of budget cuts everywhere, how and why does any civilian law enforcement agency own and maintain a TANK?

Seriously, with cash-strapped state and local governments everywhere you look, don’t you think that just maybe the tanks and other armored vehicles should be the first thing to go? Is it really that important to be able to knock down the occasional wall? And if so, wouldn’t it be more cost effective to rent an tank team from the local National Guard unit for the afternoon?

Not even Radley Balko knew what to say about this one. What a shame he’s moving to HuffPo.

In closing: HowTo; Sahara; Democrats don’t do P90X?; zombie nuclear dump; flipflop; Thorium; who could have thought that “metabolic abnormalities in obese teens may relate to poor diets”??; Busted has a point; shirt; uncertainty; and that’s it for the day.

Shark Jumping

Yes, that’s right. I’ve got another bad case of outrage fatigue. Hopefully I’ll be recovered in time for Blog Against Theocracy Weekend in April!

CSI — the original, the one in Vegas — has officially jumped the shark. It jumped the shark mere minutes after killing Justin Bieber! But no, one serial killer is dead, and another escapes prison immediately. Because everybody knows we need a good serial killer. To boost ratings, or make Vegas seem more dangerous than it is, or because some idiot in Los Angeles is too unimaginative to read the Review-Journal and the Sun now and again. Heck, they’re too lazy to watch the actual newscast that follows CSI in Vegas.

If they actually paid attention to Vegas news, you have stories and potential episode plots like these:

  • A cabbie was murdered last week.
  • Yesterday, a man lost control of his car, hit his head on a pole — which killed him instantly. His car continued moving and hit somebody on a bike. If that’s not a good CSI story, then I must have been watching a different show.
  • Gotta have a freaking serial killer? How about the person or people who are shooting people in their garages?
  • Like bombs? Still like garages? How about the guy who was killed by a bomb in a casino parking garage?
  • Earlier this month, we started hearing about results in an FBI investigation of local homeowner associations. It turns out this case has multiple attempted murders associated with it (according to an expert I talked to yesterday).
  • They could even make an interesting episode out of something “normal,” like a the death of a high profile doctor who practices cutting edge medicine.
  • There’s plenty of history to plumb as well. Perhaps a modern day Hole In the Wall Gang.
  • As many foreclosures as we have, and as many cases of “oops foreclosed on the wrong house” as there have been, what about a John Doe who turns out to have gone to change the locks on the wrong address?

So in less than an hour, I’ve got source material for a good solid half dozen episode ideas. I haven’t even needed that darned imagination of mine. What’s their excuse for bringing us little more than a stream of warmed-over sociopaths?

In closing: must be nice to be a bank executive; Germany makes money the old fashioned way, by making stuff; mind = boggled; more than just a few words about Japan; Chernobyl; it’s gonna be a long road to 2012; no job is better than a crappy job; duh; heh; truth; painted into a corner; sad; and, um, yeah Ezra.

The T Is Not Silent

If you watch a Japanese news broadcast about the tsunami, every time you hear a word that ends in “ken,” they are talking about a prefecture. That’s kind of like a state or province.

Fukushima — where they are having the nuclear issue — is the Capitol of Fukushima Prefecture, number 7 on that map. For reference, Tokyo Prefecture is number 13. Thanks to Jill, we now know that if the reactor does blow the fallout will reach all the way to Colorado, Montana, Wyoming, and New Mexico: Update: there seems to be a lot of debate over this map. It’s true that I should have said fallout may reach, rather than will reach. As someone who lives in the yellow zone, it is still my duty to prepare myself and my family for the worst but hope for the best.

Speaking of which, I don’t know how anybody with any understanding of geology can look at the mountains just west of Vegas and possibly think Yucca Mountain is a good idea.

If you were to lay Japan down next to the East Coast of the United States, it would look something like this:

As you can see, Hokkaido is as far north as Maine, but Kyuushu is as far south as Florida. Okinawa extends quite a bit further south. The tsunami was by any standard a big deal.

Speaking of the United States, thanks to TYWKIWDI for pointing out this graphic:

For the record, that’s 12 events in the 80s, and 38 events in the 90s, 47 from 2000 to 2009, and an additional 3 events in 2010. I think I’ve said before that actuaries believe in global warming.

First hand accounts of the quake are starting to be heard. For those of you trying to contact someone in Japan to make sure they are safe, the State Department says “We understand also that some telephone landlines there are disrupted. We are recommending that people try contacting loved ones in Japan by email, text, SMS message, or social media.”

I posted this picture 4 years ago. It’s a sign warning people of tsunami risk. Of course, the current crop of Republicans thinks that tsunami warnings — and other weather warnings — are a waste of time. I’ve got news for you, that’s not going to play well in Iowa.

Susie Madrak had this up, and I think it’s a good sentiment:

In Closing: leave your laptop home; old fashioned boycott causes old fashioned bank run; Bill Maher; on oil; No Depositor Left Behind; long but interesting; and after all that I sure do need a good laugh.

Canibal Shorties

Pesky Government Regulations: Saved lives.

A question of scale: Nope, not toys. It does make you wonder how big a quake caused this.

Tell me why we do this every Spring and Fall again: Not even cows like Daylight Savings Time.

They say they want to save money, then they prevent us from doing it: comparative effectiveness review and Medicare.

Doin It Live!: Public database for safety complaints.

Seriously?: Apparently I live in a dangerous Spring Break destination. Sorry, I’m not feeling it. Oh, I should probably say something about the Sahara closing down in a couple of months, but I’ll let Steve do it.

I love seeing a genuine economist say this: “Ayn Rand Is Full of Crap.” He has to point out that she wrote fiction.

That’s a real diet buster: It’s easier than you might think to eat a 2000 calorie meal at In-N-Out.

We’re off to a great start: 31 Most Ridiculous Quotes of 2011 So Far.

A New Political Party?: The People‘s Party.

Granny’s gonna live longer anyway: on the demographics of the employed and unemployed.

So Be It?: We may have added 222,000 private sector jobs last month, but massive government budget cutting may delete 710,000 old jobs. Can we afford that kind of budget cutting?

Wasn’t Universal Failure the Goal?: 82% of public schools may eventually be “failing,” even ones that by every other measure perform well. That’s what happens when “better” is your only goal.

A Nobel Winning Economist Isn’t Good Enough: for the Federal Reserve.

Flashbang: Potentially deadly against cops, deadly against suspects, deadly against the innocent.

She’s baaaaaack!: Sharron Angle.

Confused: If terraists can allegedly turn the oxygen masks in a plane into a weapon, why can’t terraists do it from their seats?

Only in Vegas: Ladies and gentlemen, the Chip Monk.

But the Recovery is Still On, Right?

The Dow and S&P were both up today. The economy is [allegedly] growing. Everything is on track and will be wonderful in the future, right?

Yeah sure.

The experts — at least the ones that don’t have their heads stuck in the sand — know that a real recovery means people will have to spend more money. In an environment where the Bureau of Labor Statistics quietly admits that real unemployment is 16.7%, and some groups have unemployment rates as high as 28%, that seems unlikely to happen.

Almost 11% of houses sit empty, mostly in urban areas. Eventually these homes will either be renovated or bulldozed. Experts predict a boom in apartments, without bothering to mention that’s because it will be a long time before a typical American has a downpayment. Just a reminder: the housing crash means that not only can workers not afford to move to Where The Jobs Are, workers can’t afford to start small businesses either.

Union membership is down. This does mean that wages are going down because nobody is there to fight for a living wage. It means that stable jobs are gone, because there’s nobody to demand them. It’s also a symptom of the fact that we can’t seem to make much of anything more durable than a latte in this country.

So wages are down, unemployment is high, houses are money pits rather than assets. But hey, they’re having a party on Wall Street. Maybe there’s leftover cake.

In closing: no; LOOKOUT (or just be sane); and how does that fix the radiation?; more on Jack LaLanne; an idea whose time has come; childhood obesity; solve the puzzle, win a prize; it must be nice; on health care; yes, Albania; that too; puzzling; and in case you wondered.

Blog for Choice

It’s that day again.

As it turns out, “abortion foes have high hopes for new Congress.” And their hopes do not stop with overturning Roe V. Wade.

If the So-Called Pro-Life movement gave a darn about life, they would not have accosted this man and his wife, who were arguably having the worst day of their lives already.

If the So-Called Pro-Life movement gave a darn about life, they would already have tossed out the minority among them that think it is acceptable to enforce their opinion with terrorism: vandalism, violence, and murder in the name of politics.

If the So-Called Pro-Life movement gave a darn about life, they would embrace reforms that benefit children, such as universal health coverage for minors, and programs that would promote family stability (such as, oh I don’t know, jobs??) for born-already-Americans.

If the So-Called Pro-Life movement wanted to reduce the number of abortions — and even somebody like me has to think there are places and populations where it might be to high — they would take steps to ensure that unwanted pregnancies and birth defects are prevented. They would try to prevent sexual assaults in their community. They would support widely available birth control. They would want to improve the environment. They would want to make healthy food more available than junk food.

The truth is that the “It’s A Baby!” crowd is anti-sex, anti-woman, anti-free-will.

In Closing: standards; mindfulness; multi-layered WTF; and where will they find the money?; ok we agree; Howard!; maybe, maybe not; lies revisited; scanners.