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.

New Years Health Resolutions?

Alright, I do know that it’s not exactly the 1st. But by now, some of you who had health, weight, or fitness resolutions for the New Year are starting to wonder if it’s really worth the effort. For you, I present these items.

Maybe your resolution was just to “eat healthier.” Well, one of the few things just about every health and nutrition expert can agree on is that fruits and vegetables are healthy — and most of us eat too few of them. And by “most of us,” I mean everybody from vegans (who often eat lots of grains) to paleo eaters (who are likely to eat handfuls of nuts and lots of meat). If you were unimpressed by the thought that eating more of them could make you “prettier,” perhaps you would like to know that it is also linked to a lower risk of dying from ischemic heart disease.

I’ve been an advocate of weight bearing exercise for years, and I like this article from BlogHer. I admit, I hate the picture. I know it was selected to be all non-threatening and get ladies used to the idea that they can lift without looking like, oh, I dunno, Gladys.* But as the article says, emphasis mine:

I lost inches everywhere – my thighs went down an inch each, my waist an inch and a half – and I lost 7% body fat. The jeans I am wearing today are a full two sizes smaller than the ones I was wearing 2 months ago. And I’m pretty sure I don’t look like any of those muscle-bound gals in the bodybuilding competitions. At least, no one has said the word “bulky” in my presence. This combination of heavy lifting and high-intensity intervals is the closest thing to a fitness miracle I’ve ever found.

If you aren’t ready to buy weights, there’s always body weight exercises like push-ups and squats. In fact, there are many regimens designed for use without any equipment more complicated than a chair.

Maybe instead of lifting weight, you want to lose weight. There’s this L.A. Times item on whether we can blame the obesity epidemic on excessive carbohydrate consumption. Nobody could blame you for wanting to lose weight; after all obesity is blamed for 16,000 extra deaths annually and $7000 in lost productivity and medical costs. Want to be horrified? Check out this infographic from Men’s Fitness:


Seriously, don’t give up on the New Years Resolution right now.

In closing: pre-existing conditions; a horrifying read; even more amusing given the source; bubble; science, or future made for TV movie; damn straight; overwhelming support for a handful of sensible “gun control” laws (including enforcing the ones on the books); they laughed at me when I suggested China could foreclose; banks can’t even follow the law when dealing with one another; I’ve known people who weren’t this bright; and shrimp farming.

*Make no mistake. This woman worked very, very hard for hours every day to get this look. I can’t say I know whether she uses any hormones or not. She is to be admired for her dedication. However, most women I know don’t want to look quite so muscular. And trust me, even working at my level means just forget woven shirts.

Uh, That’s for Boys Then?

Surely the nice folks at Old Navy just choose a bad place for the maternity mannequins. Or maybe this is a commentary on childhood obesity!

In Closing: I know I packed it; food by state; claiming profit on money never paid; Dog Fort; WTF; Con, duh; safety net; science; wolves; the truth about buying a smart phone; lost daughter; Peach and Zelda; love story; begging; nachos; how to read a legal opinion; consensus; on birth control.

Prepare for Battle


Yes Sir!

Assemble the troops for inspection.

ATTENTION POINSETTIA ARMY! This is Commander Potted Palm. The time has come to rise up! You’ve trained long and hard for this mission, and I see all of you are in your dress uniforms. Let’s get out there and make people believe that yes, we do indeed celebrate both Hanukkah and Christmas in Las Vegas!

In closing: stopping terrorism with pork; Computer Engineer Barbie got a phone upgrade (and she’s reasonably priced); body image fail; a few items on employment, unemployment, jobs, and our clueless government; it’s hard to hate a benevolent dictator; stop trying to kill Social Security!; now we might be getting somewhere, a couple of Harvard Law Students suing the TSA; Fed lent trillions of dollars rather than admit that our biggest banks should have been taken over by the government as insolvent; even a Fed Governor says some institutions are “too big to succeed“; it’s been a good week for Senator John Ensign; please, some freaking sanity about the Bush tax cuts!; close the Washington Monument; a strategy so simple even a Democrat can do it; I’m wondering why I canvassed for that man; and finally, Kim Jong-Il looking at things. Enjoy.

How to Create a Few Hundred Thousand Jobs

Now, I’m normally a Westin kinda person, but I enjoyed seeing J.W. Marriott Jr. point out that “the government has made it far more difficult for foreigners to travel to the U.S., costing the nation tens of billions in lost revenue and hundreds of thousands of jobs“.

My favorite part:

Marriott said he has met repeatedly with officials at the State Department and other government agencies, but they have been largely unresponsive.“We keep talking and they look at us and say, ‘We’re protecting the country,’ ” Marriott said.

Yeah, protecting us to death.

Maybe I’m a little sensitive to this stuff, living in a city that was called “among the world’s worst economies” by a new study.

Anyway, it’s time to “take a sensible approach to air security” based on reality, not fear. Maybe we could get man’s best friend into the act. After all, dogs don’t profile.

In Closing: pterosaurs; “the official dietary recommendations are not sufficient for preventing obesity“; instant gratification; Senate passes “food safety bill” that kindly omits meat, poultry, and eggs (but does create a bureaucracy, so it’s all good, right?); homecoming; banks get richer off our money; 8 million fewer credit card users; privatizing Social Security is still a dumb idea!; and Sue Lowden is shocked — just shocked! — that Chickens for Healthcare didn’t send her to the Senate.

“Don’t Quit Your Day Job”

Seriously, some people need to be told not to quit their jobs while trying to get a mortgage. Everything you need to know about getting a mortgage in this week’s Getting REAL (Estate) in Vegas, starring me with special guest Kari Phillips of Southern Fidelity Mortgage.

In closing: Shut up and take it like a man, says the President; priorities; new Fiats; more extortion; Direct Instruction works; sounds like the setup for a blasphemous joke; Schneier; depression; and reconstructed.