Wednesday, June 30, 2010

We Blame Global Warming

There are some things even enquiring minds DON'T want to know.

Dustin the Wind

Big hitter Dustin Johnson, the guy who blew a three shot lead on the last day of the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach responds to a question about how that felt.

Mr. Johnson, a follow-up? Is it is true you're a zombie? And do you think that's an advantage for a professional golfer?

A Little Feel Good Deal

Near the entrance gate here the Military Care Package Tent can be found.

Sponsored by Lockheed Martin, visitors can put together care packages and write a personal note that will be received by a soldier, sailor, or airman overseas.

Here's Tracy Carter Dougherty to explain:

It only takes a couple of minutes to stuff a plastic bag with AT&T calling cards, toiletries, puzzle books, snacks etc. and it costs nothing. The whole thing is paid for by Lockheed.

But you're welcome to make a donation to the U.S.O. and pick-up a rubber camouflage U.S.O Budweiser "Here's To The Heroes" wristlet.

I did.

The defense contractor also has a tent down by the 17th tee open to all military ticket holders.

Live at the AT&Tiger

Being new at this sort of thing, one of the things that I was surprised to see yesterday during Tiger Wood's press conference was the presence of a working court stenographer.

I didn't know if she worked for the Tiger Woods Foundation, which is handling most of the p.r. for the event, or if she'd been sent by Mrs. Woods attorneys.

It turned out the former, which was great for us media types. Within 15 minutes of the interview we all had a transcript of the session. This service is good for both Tiger and golf writers. It helps them (us) get his quotes exactly right... and quickly.


Stop Me Before I Boink Again!

Is Tiger Woods a sex addict? Is anyone? My print column is up.

UPDATE: Tara Martin, "38 and single" for one, is willing to entertain the possibility, but in the end it doesn't seem to cut any ice with her.

Our Bumbling Budgetors

A quick look at the proposed state budget reveals a 4.5 percent increase in education spending (read teachers' salaries and benefits) a $1 billion more for mandated spending to take care of the poor, state employees' pensions, and incarcerated citizens.

SPENDING CUTS include Agriculture Department, 11.7 percent; Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, 11 percent: Department of Labor and Industry, 10 percent; Environmental Protection Department, 9.2 percent; Libraries, 9.1 percent; Governor's Office, 7.5 percent; State Parks, 7.3 percent; State Health Care Centers, 6.9 percent.

Me, I'd rather see public libraries stay open than teachers in failing public schools get raises. But then, people aren't required by law to go to libraries. Maybe that's why they are generally such peaceful and nice places. Places where motivated and curious kids and adults can actually learn things.

The rest of those departments and agencies could probably stand cuts closer to 20 percent, (though maybe not the health clinics.)

Unmentioned is that whole tentative budget agreement depends on the state getting $850 million from the federal government to tide us over for another year.

Oy vey!

Chat City

I will be hosting a live chat at high noon today. You can log-on at

Kagan's Abortion Distortion

Did Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan rewrite a scientitific/medical analysis concerning partial birth abortion when she was a Clinton White House policy advisor?

Attorney Shannen Coffin reports:
When President Obama promised in his inaugural address to “restore science to its rightful place,” he never explained what that rightful place would be. Documents recently released in connection with the Supreme Court nomination of Solicitor General Elena Kagan suggest an answer: wherever it can best be used to skew political debate and judicial outcomes.

The documents involved date from the Clinton White House. They show Miss Kagan’s willingness to manipulate medical science to fit the Democratic party’s political agenda on the hot-button issue of abortion. As such, they reflect poorly on both the author and the president who nominated her to the Supreme Court.
Read the whole thing.

It will be interesting to see is any senator asks her about this today as her hearing continues.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Sex Addiction? Are You Kidding Me?

So as I said, the Question of the Day: Is sex addiction a real disease or is it something made up by psychologists to collect from health insurance companies and give wayward husbands and wives an medical excuse for their lousy behavior

First up Jim Prince, 37, from Birdsboro

Sex and Golf: It Doesn't Get Any Better Than This!

NEWTOWN SQUARE - I've just arrived at the Media Center here at Aronimink for the AT&T National. If I'm not mistaken, it's converted from an indoor tennis court(s). It's beautiful, air-conditioned and state of the art - technologically speaking. In front of me is a electronic scoreboard as well as a TV broadcasting the World Cup. PAR is playing JPN.

Not a lot of action here yet.

The big question I have for spectators today is "What do you think about the idea of sexual addiction? Is it a real disease? Or was it something invented by mental health professionals to fleece insurance companies and to give wayward men and women a medical excuse for behaving badly?"

Of course, this is a pertinent question given that the most famous golfer in the world and the unofficial host of this tournament has tacitly admitted to a problem along these lines. It has been reported that after the sex scandal exploded in the media last November, Tiger Woods checked into a posh rehab for sex addicts.

Is bedding porn stars and cocktail waitresses an uncontrollable and compulsive act requiring a 12-step intervention or simply reckless and morally objectionable?

I have my own opinion on this I'll be sharing later. I'll be very interested in what others have to say about it. But I doubt it will be brought up at Tiger's press conference this afternoon. We'll see.

A Ferry Nice Idea

Our Chris Vito has an excellent idea for the parking problem down at Chester's new soccer stadium: A ferry to N.J.

Joe's Knock Out

I've been in room when Joe Biden is speaking. I know just how this guy felt.

Chatting With Spencer

Tomorrow (Wednesday) at noon I will be available for a live online chat. I'm hoping I'll be able to do it from the press tent at Aronimink. (I'll find out about that later this afternoon.) But questions and any discussion will not be limited to golf.

Just click on the Daily Times web site and it should be pretty easy to figure out.

Job Hunters: A Cautionary Tale

Need a job? Here are eight mistakes job hunters make.

This link is just an excuse to show THIS! (Warning: A couple of bad words and bathroom humor make this clip unsuitable for adults. Teenagers, however, will love it.)

AT&T Stands for "All Tiger & (more) Tiger"

I'm on my way out to Aronimink today to get the lay of the land for this weekend's big tournament and listen to Tiger Woods answer a few questions from the media.

I was at Tiger's last presser in May. There were no bold questions about the sex scandal that caused him to leave the tour for six months. Their was one mild one. Tiger was asked if his neck injury was in anyway related to the car accident he had in November.

"Zero," Tiger said. And that was it. His curt, one-word reply ended any line of inquiry along those lines.

For my own part, I wrote a column about Scandalina, the Tiger Woods Sex Scandal Elephant. She was in the room that day and we all ignored her. While she will be there again this afternoon, I can't imagine she will get any more attention than she did in May. Afterall, what is there left for Tiger to say about any of that? He was a naughty husband. A very naughty husband and he is suffering the consequences of that; divorce and separation from his children. (Above is the couple in happier times.)

How that all plays out will be interesting to the People Magazine crowd but for golf fans watching Tiger attempt to claw his way back to the top of his profession is what is has our attention. If he is in contention this week (and who will be surprised if he is?) with every Tiger birdie the roars at Aroninmink will be heard all the way to Aston.

Tiger's first post-scandal PGA Tour win will be international news. And if it is here in Newtown Square, the world will take notice.

Stay tuned.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Geno Rauso Finally Faces the Music

After years of scamming dozens of mortgage-troubled homeowners into believing he could help them keep their homes, my old friend Geno Rauso is under federal indictment. According to a press release from the U.S. Attorneys Office in Philadelphia
Gennaro Rauso, who owned and operated a real estate management company that purported to help financially distressed homeowners with their foreclosure problems, was charged today by information with several mortgage fraud related offenses. The information alleges that as part of his scheme, Rauso took advantage of desperate homeowners with the promise of staying in, or saving, their homes when, in fact, he was using them to defraud the mortgage
The indictment can be found here. It begins:
1. Defendant GENNARO RAUSO owned and operated several property
management businesses, including D&B Property Investors (“D&B”), which he incorporated on June 17, 2005.

2. Defendant GENNARO RAUSO falsely claimed that D&B helped homeowners with foreclosure problems. In fact, defendant RAUSO operated D&B as part of a scheme to defraud mortgage companies by convincing distressed homeowners to transfer their properties to D&B for a nominal sum, and then renting the properties back to the homeowners. Defendant RAUSO then used the federal bankruptcy process to, among other things, substantially delay and obstruct efforts by mortgage companies to foreclose upon these properties, thereby providing the opportunity for defendant RAUSO to collect rental payments fraudulently from the distressed homeowners during the period of delay, without making any required payments to the mortgage companies.


3. From at least in or about January 2005 through at least in or about December 2008, defendant GENNARO RAUSO devised and intended to devise a scheme to defraud and to obtain money and property by means of false and fraudulent pretenses, representations and promises.


It was part of the scheme that:

4. Defendant GENNARO RAUSO purchased lists containing the names and addresses of homeowners facing immediate foreclosure and sheriff’s sale of their properties. Defendant RAUSO used these lists to identify potential victims of his scheme to defraud.

5. Using the United States mails, defendant GENNARO RAUSO sent to homeowners a flyer that claimed, among other things, that defendant RAUSO could help the homeowner with foreclosure problems. Defendant RAUSO used an alias when he sent out the flyers, including but not limited to, “Lorraine Foster.” When homeowners called the telephone
number on the flyer, however, they spoke to defendant RAUSO.

6. Since at least in or about January 2005, defendant GENNARO RAUSO mailed various versions of the flyer. For example, in a version sent in or about December 2008, purportedly from “Lorraine Foster,” defendant RAUSO claimed that:
a. he was interested in purchasing their property, “subject to all liens and encumbrances,” even if the home “does not have any equity;”
b. he would “take all the headache of fighting the bank or mortgage company off your hands,” and “possibly even allow you to stay in the property for less than what you were paying each month;”
c. for some of his past clients, he was able to “assist them in getting their credit re-established; and as a result, they were able to re-purchase the property thereafter;”
d. even if “things don’t work out” and the property were to be sold at Sheriff’s sale, defendant RAUSO could help the homeowner “stay in the property for about another 12-18 months even after the sheriff sale;” and
e. “an associate” would tell the homeowner how defendant RAUSO “stalled his personal foreclosure for Sixteen years without paying a dime to either the mortgage company or the tax bureau; purchased the property back for approximately Twenty Cents on the dollar free and clear of all the previous liens and judgments that had been on the property, and then flipped it for a Twenty Thousand Dollar Profit.”

7. Defendant GENNARO RAUSO timed the mailing of the flyers so they would arrive only a few days before the scheduled sheriff’s sale of the property. Defendant RAUSO believed that this was the time period when homeowners would be most desperate and most likely to call for his purported services.

8. After the homeowners contacted defendant GENNARO RAUSO, either defendant RAUSO or an employee of D&B visited the homeowner to have the homeowner sign a series of documents, which:
a. transferred the property either to defendant RAUSO or to an entity controlled by defendant RAUSO, for a nominal purchase price;
b. gave defendant RAUSO power of attorney rights with respect to the property, including the power to negotiate on the homeowner’s behalf with the mortgage companies, to file federal bankruptcy petitions, and to otherwise dispose of the property; and
c. made the homeowner a tenant, who would make rent payments to defendant RAUSO instead of payments to the mortgage company.

9. After the homeowner signed these documents, defendant GENNARO RAUSO obstructed the foreclosure proceedings against the property by, among other things, filing federal bankruptcy petitions.

10. Defendant GENNARO RAUSO collected rent payments from the homeowner during the period the foreclosure was obstructed and delayed, but did not make payments to the mortgage companies holding the mortgage. Defendant RAUSO was, therefore, able to use the federal bankruptcy process, among other means, to defraud mortgage companies out of payments from homeowners, when those payments should have been made to the mortgage companies to pay down the mortgage balances.

11. As part of this scheme to defraud, defendant GENNARO RAUSO used at least 200 homeowners and their properties, almost entirely all of which were located in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. Overall, defendant RAUSO defrauded mortgage companiesout of more than $400,000 in diverted and lost mortgage payments.
There's a lot more.

I first heard about Rauso three years ago, when he piled nine tenants into the Darby Township home of Makra Opoku. First, he got her to sign papers giving him power of attorney and control of the property, then the tenants came. He charged them all rent, including Opoku, and he never sent a nickel of the money to the mortgage company to stave off foreclosure.

Over the years, I heard from a dozen more people who credibly claimed to have been scammed by Rauso. Despite complaint after complaint to the local authorities and to the FBI, Rauso continued to ply his trade.

According to federal documents, Geno didn't pay taxes on some $1.6 million he made between 2005 and 2008. He was quite the operator and quite a character.

The first time I talked to him he was literally on his way to Delaware County prison to serve one of his weekends for assaulting a tenant in Opoku's home.

The last time I talked to him it was about another dissatisfied client.

“I made my position clear to you (last year) that I prefer you never call me again,” he said.

I told him I understood, but that I had to call him to see if he wanted to comment, just to be fair.

“What is also fair,” he said, “is I not violate my Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate myself and my First Amendment right not to talk to you.”

Fair is fair. Besides actions speak louder than words, anyway.

Natural Born Killers and Beyond Dumb

As killers go, Broomall's Morgan Mengel and Steve Shappell are beyond pathetic. Not that they didn't get the job done. But if you hope not to get caught these two needed to watch a little more CSI.

According to police, Mengel admitted to the attempted poisoning of her husband, Kevin, and told them her boy-toy Shappell clubbed him with a shovel. The body was interred in the woods behind Marple Newtown High School.

Mengel has confessed. Shappel fled but has been captured in Colorado.

The story she concocted about her husband leaving her was so obviously false police saw through it immediately. Good for her for confessing. But how she will face the three children she has orphaned is another matter.

I would say "What a world," but the world is fine. It's just that it has some awful and stupid people in it.

Look For the Union Label

18,500 soccer fans braved the heat and Chester's State of Emergency to be at the Union's home opener in PPL Park. The Union came from behind to win 3 to 1.

The little stadium is beautiful thing, an emerald jewel sitting under the Commadore Barry Bridge. But can pro soccer make it in the city of Chester? Doubtful.

The MLS trumpets the fact that this year it has surpassed the NBA in per game attendance. But for all its flaws and expensive payrolls, the NBA has a history of moderate success. Enough fans turn out to see the greatest athletes in the world compete and the best basketball players in the world come to the NBA to do it. Not so with the MSL. The best soccer players in the world live and play elsewhere.

At best, pro soccer is a niche sport, in a country that already is sports saturated. Low ticket prices and novelty will help the Union and the league to survive for a few yearr. But will pro soccer ever generate the enthusiam of the Eagles or Phillies in this area? Let's get real.

And the idea that pro soccer with a new stadium will lead to some sort of renaissance in Chester is loony on its face.

And it's almost a crime that so much taxpayer money went to building a stadium, even a stadium as cute as this one, that will quite likely be a white elephant in less than a decade.

In the meantime, the novelty of pro soccer in Chester will bring in a nice number of fans for this and maybe next season. Then attendence will fall off, as it has elsewhere, and the franchise will limp along.

In Roman times, the politicians gave the masses "bread and circuses" to distract them from the misery and desperation of their lives. Today, the pols take from middleclass to give money to a few rich guys to build mini-collesiums for circuses of a different kind. The deal is no better today than it was back then.

UPDATE: As for the city, despite the curfew and extended State of Emergency, another man died of a gunshot wound Saturday night. Maybe he was just cleaning his weapon and it was an accident but I doubt it.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Woodshed, Not Guillotine

So sez the WSJ for Gen. Snidely McChrystal.

Eliot Cohen has a different view.

I say cane, not can.

Snake Eyes

Guns and dice don't mix.

A Curfew In Chester, Then What?

My print column is up.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Real World Academic Dishonesty

[Posted By Jake]

Last month, our local school board voted to approve a three-year contract for the district's teachers. This resident, and many others, thought the final numbers were far too generous for a down economy. It was disappointing that this latest round of bargaining failed to stop the vicious cycle of pay and benefit increases that the education lobby has long been foisting upon the loyal residents.

That outcome wasn't the only disappointment. Forget that attending this particular school board meeting was like accidentally stumbling into a Teamsters rally. At least the Teamsters are honest enough to skip the pretense that their demands for more money are "for the kids." But that evening you could hear such self-indulgent truisms reverberate throughout the school auditorium, ad nauseam.

And forget that the leader of the teacher's union, an Advanced Placement history teacher no less, thought it appropriate to regurgitate alleged Tea Party racism while she disparaged the public reaction to the contract negotiations. Isn't it good to know the Left's solidarity, in spite of the facts, is alive and well, and continues to discourage critical thinking by young, impressionable minds?

No, the real disappointment was provided by our school board. Not the three brave members who voted against approval while facing a hostile crowd, but the other six who voted yes, despite this unprecedented opportunity to make a stand for our community against this insatiable public tax monster.

Worst of all, two of the school board members who voted in favor of the contract, have one or more family members affected by their vote. Their adult children are employed by the school district and benefited by the increases in pay and benefits that were approved. One school board member actually abstained from voting on a prior agenda item because of that conflict.

No doubt these school board members consulted the district solicitor and the special counsel for this union contract. And no doubt all parties followed the letter, if not the spirit, of the law. Bottom line though, when I get my school tax bill and see the inevitable increase, I'm not going to be concerned whether these elected officials did the right thing by their "flexible" school board rules. I'm going to question whether the decision to ignore their obvious conflicts did the right thing by me, and by my fellow residents.

Fore More Years

Nice to have a president who can multi-task. And such a sweet swing too.

Shut Up! He Explained

George Will on Obama's oil spill speech: It was "magnificently awful."

Mr. Will noticed this too:
Obama recently went to Wheaton, Md., a Washington suburb, to deliver a speech in praise of his health-care legislation, which has not become more popular in the months since it was passed on a party-line vote after more than a hundred Obama speeches, interviews, and other events praising it. Two Democratic Senate candidates (from Massachusetts and Pennsylvania) and two gubernatorial candidates (from New Jersey and Virginia) should be brought to the White House to conduct an intervention. They should explain to our Demosthenes that the correlation between the quantity of his speaking—now that is an addiction—and the fortunes of the things for which he speaks is inverse.

The State of the City is Cruel

After four murders in 8 days, Chester Mayor Wendell Butler has declared a State of Emergency in the city. And it's about damn time.

Butler is the beleaguered soul of what's good and right in Chester, a spokesman for the many hard-working, law-abiding folks who live in this tired town. But when it comes to those who get to define the character of a place, that power goes to a unhealthy minority of violent young men; uneducated, surly and impetuous. The have grown up in subculture that by virtue of it's meanness and short-sighted view of life has managed to chase better people away.

Many good people have stayed in the city because they have refused to be chased out. Other decent souls have stayed because they don't have the wherewithal to move out. Kids who might have turned out fine elsewhere get corrupted by the streets. Violence and cruelty is visited on them from an early age and they see how things are. They become hard and mean themselves and the cycle of violence spins on.

Terrence Webster Jr. never had the time or the chance to get mean. Neither did he have the chance to prove that he could be one of the kids who rise above such a culture to get an education, go to work and become one of the good guys.

He was two when it he died. Taken by aimless gunfire and the bad luck to be where he was; at home in the city of Chester.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Comment of the Week...

Franknsq, a commenter on Friday's column about the illegal wine run in Newtown Square, wants to know...
Who is investigating the ILLEGAL rental of former Commissioner John (Jack) DiPompeo???
Why isn't the same scrutiny and input of time of this opinion writer given to an ELECTED public official who ILLEGALLY rented a portion of their home and such scrutiny is given to a bottle of wine for a cancer fundraiser???

This would be a legitimate question if I hadn't written about the DiPompeo matter. But I have. Read about it here.

What is interesting about these two cases, is that one of them was actually pursued by township officials and local law enforcement and the other, so far, hasn't been.

Former supervisor DiPompeo claims that his renting the in-law quarters of his home to a Gulf War vet and his wife for a reduced rate amounts to a de minimus violation of the township zoning code. That is arguable. Just as it is arguable that a township secretary running to Delaware to buy wine for her "boss" isn't the crime of the century either.

What is different here is that the township moved against DiPompeo. Township officials "investigated" the claim and BROUGHT CHARGES and IMPOSED FINES against DiPompeo. No such investigation, that I am aware of, has been conducted concerning the wine run. In fact, something much closer to a cover-up has been employed to protect a sitting supervisor implicated in e-mails as the prime mover behind it.

The secretary, Gwen Toyzer, told me she lied in her e-mails about who and what the wine was for and that she never actually went to Delaware to get it. She told me she signed an affidavit to that effect. When I asked her who asked her to sign such a statement she said "no one."

I find that odd. Just about everyone I've talked to about the matter does to.

In the DiPompeo case, he claims that he is a victim of selective enforcement and a political vendetta for switching parties. That a Newtown Square policeman showed up at his door shortly before Election Day to "investigate" his violation of the borough zoning code give credence to his suspicions. But when I talked to him about it last year, he seemed to understand that the borough code is the borough code and he was violating it.

There may be something to his claim of selective enforcement, though. Especially given how township officials have handled
the wine run matter.

It is illegal to cross state lines to buy booze. It inappropriate for township employees to run personal or political errands for elected officials on township time. So far though we have yet to hear from Board of Supervisors President Linda Houldin, the person for whom Toyzer claimed to be acting. She has had plenty of time to get a story straight. And plenty of help from other actors in getting Gwen to make a statement taking all blame on herself.

I have no doubt that the people who leaked the wine run e-mails have political motivations for doing so. But what's good for the gander is good for the goose. And this goose is starting to taste a little gamey.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Whip It Good!

The spectacle of BP CEO Tony Hayward being grilled by a panel of self-important mediocrities leads Tunku Varadarajan to almost feel sorry for the guy.

I say let 'em take his lumps. He's paid well enough to do that.

Meanwhile, the idea that he be held personally responsible for the accident seems ridiculous to me. He says he wasn't involvled in the decision-making process that led to the accident. That seems believable enough to me. That the BP has admitted culpability as a corporation, that it says it will pay all economic damages to parties affected by the disaster, hardly suggests the company is trying to avoid its responsibilities.

Under political pressure it is ponying up $20 billion, to be held in an escrow account and controlled by an agent for the U.S. government, though it is under no legal obligation to do so. It seems undeniable at this point that negligence was involved on the part of some of the actors in this drama. Investigations should be thorough and are ongoing. Past that, this gusher of outrage, both real and feigned, is polluting the waters of reason and common sense. It could take weeks or months but the hole in the gulf will be plugged. The oil will be cleaned up, as it always is, and drilling will resume.

Why? Because we need the oil.

A Taaqi Excuse

Of escapes, wine runs and Dr. J's unclaimed cash, my print column is up.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Plug the Hole, Remove the Cap

Law professor and free marketer Richard Epstein has a few ideas on the BP front. The first is - remove the stupid $75 million cap on tort damages for oil drillers. He calls it "chicken feed" and he's right.
Fortunately, the law removes that cap if the incident was caused by "the gross negligence or willful misconduct" of any party, or its failure to comply with any "applicable Federal safety, construction, or operating regulation."

BP has waived the cap by expressing its willingness to pay "any legitimate claim." No surprise here, especially as the evidence to date suggests the cap will be blown off precisely because of the two exceptions. But we'd all be much better off if there were no statutory liability cap and if operators both big and small were required to purchase insurance—amounting to the tens of billions if necessary—when they operate in dangerous waters or terrains.
He has other suggestions that will be less popular with the environmental set. Read the whole thing.

Kicking Butts and Tail Lights

Holman Jenkins on and our BP butt-kicking, stock-price reducing President. Whose butt is next?
BP has authored one of the country's great industrial accidents and expects fully to pay through the nose. You could wish, in this light, Washington's politicians didn't seem quite so much like muggers standing on a street corner waiting for a vulnerable passerby. For one thing, it doesn't benefit the victims, who will continue to line up for years to come, if BP can't reinvest to sustain and grow its business...

Government is the greatest of blessings, without which many other blessings are not possible, such as freedom from fraud and extortion and violence. The problem, and irony, is that government, in clearing the field of other fraudsters and extortionists, is ever tempted by those roles itself.

A policeman kicks out your taillight and then writes you a ticket for a faulty taillight. A president announces a moratorium on offshore drilling as a sop to a section of his public that always opposes drilling, and to be seen "doing something." Then he turns around and demands that BP compensate those injured by the president's own ca

Spry at Sproul

The Senior Games are underway. My print column is up.

Taaqi Turns Himself In

Accused murderer Taaqi Brown is back in jail. Good! But it raises a couple of questions.

Why bother to take your brother's release if you're just going to turn yourself in a few hours later? I suppose if you're sitting in prison on a murder rap even a few hours out of stir is something you snag when you get the chance. In other words, you don't look a gift release in the mouth. Plus it is quite possible that Taaqi didn't look very far ahead when he saw the chance to take a walk. Young men who allegedly fire guns into crowds generally have a problem looking very far into the future.

Nice job, though, by Taaqi's dad to convince his son to turn himself in.

Prison Super John Reilly and the county needs to come up with a better system for making sure the right people are being released. They move a lot of bodies in and out of that jail. Mistakes will be made. In fact, they've been made throughout history.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

He's Sorry. Now!

Left-winger Glenn Greenwald has the best post yet on the video of N.C. Congressman Bob Etheridge grabbing hold of a young man who dared to video him while asking the congressman whether he supported the Obama agenda.

Wrote Greenwald:
(I)magine what would have happened to those students if this situation had been reversed, and it was they who had physically assaulted Rep. Etheridge, rather than the other way around. How quickly would they have been arrested and prosecuted?

The application of our laws isn't supposed to depend upon who is perpetrating the crime and who the victim is. Obviously, there are few principles, if there are any, more discarded than that one in Washington, but it would be nice to see its being applied in this instance by having this Congressman, obviously inebriated with an extreme sense of entitlement, arrested and charged.
I, for one, think charging someone with a assault for grabbing someone in this manner, is excessive and I wouldn't sign such a complaint if it happened to me. But Greenwald's point is very well taken. If the shoe had been on the other foot, the kid would be facing charges this minute.

Strike One!

84-year-old "Mickey" Orio hits the pocket at the Sproul Lanes Monday morning during 20th Annual Delco Senior Games.

Check out my print column in tomorrow's paper. In the meantime, here's Senior Bowler John DeBusi on why he participates in the games.

Get Busy Living or Get Busy Dying

After serving 20 years in prison for murder, Frank Dryman was released. He violated parole and took off from California. That was 40 years ago. He is back in custody today, thanks to the grandson of his victim who tracked him down.

"I don't think it is fair," Dryman told the AP, failing to add, "Didn't anyone see the end of The Shawshank Redemption?"

"Touchdown Jesus" Called Back

This Cincinnati-based statue of Jesus was hit by lightning and burned to the ground the other night.

Reached for comment, God said: "I never much liked that particular depiction of my son. It just seemed a little tacky to me. So I recalled it. Hope everyone will understand."

The Costs of the BP Accident

Tragic and heartbreaking. Now think of the 11 workers who lost their lives. This is just a small part of the price we pay for our go, go, go civilization. Is it worth it? Sure. But the costs should always be considered.

A School Union Gets It Right

From New Jersey a report on a school union that took up Gov. Christie's challenge and agreed to freeze salaries and benefits to save programs and jobs.

Chris Christie visits Boonton school, praises union for agreeing to wage freeze


Alleged Delco Killer Taaqi Brown released in paperwork snafu.
"Apparently there are two prisoners out there with similar names and similar dates of birth," Chitwood said. "They released our guy. It was human error. He didn't escape. He called his mom in Philadelphia and says, 'hey mom, I got released. They f 'ed up the paperwork. His picture is out there with an all points bulletin in Philadelphia, Upper Darby and the area. There is an all out manhunt underway and a BOLO (Be On the Look Out)."
Similar name, similar birth date. Close enough for government work.

Does BP Stand for Back Push?

The White House vs. BP, common sense, and the rule of law.
Offshore drilling, even in shallow water, is coming to a stop as the entire industry considers the additional political risks of operating amid a political panic in which even the President of United States seems oblivious to the rule of law. We hope BP resists Mr. Obama's demands to put a political actor in control of its Gulf payments—both for the sake of legitimate Gulf claims, and to vindicate the U.S. as a nation that doesn't discard the law for the sake of political retribution.

We also hope other politicians, in the U.S. or U.K., begin to push back against a White House more concerned about its poll numbers than about the U.S. or Gulf Coast economies.

Monday, June 14, 2010

E-Mail of the Week...

... Comes from Karl Kofoed, in the form of a letter to the editor:
"Conservatives" like Gil Spencer astonish me. He advocates following
the law on the local level but gives deregulation on the national
level a free pass. Let's think about following rules and creating a
fair playing field: There's not a soul in America who believes games
should be played without rules. In fact we are almost fanatical about
crime and punishment. It doesn't even matter if a baseball player
has one of the best records in baseball. Break the rules and he
goes. So why would they think that finance or capitalism should be
"played" without rules? That's what deregulation means.

This isn't rocket science. The Republicans, Teabaggers and
Libertarians are all about zero tolerance and big rules regulating
the public. So they are not really against regulation, just
selective regulations that really just boil down to them not wanting
to pay taxes. The only logical conclusion that can be drawn is that
ANYONE echoing their "philosophy" are liars, cheats and criminals...

Nice of Karl to be so "logical," but it sure sounds like he is calling me a "liar," a "cheat" and a "criminal."

As for some of us being against more and bigger rules to regulate the public, he is quite right. Some of us think the nation is over-regulated. Still, I haven't heard from even the most ardent libertarian, that we should have NO laws, rules or regulations at all.

In today's Wall Street Journal is an editorial about a new proposed regulation sponsored by Democrat Maxine Waters.
For 97 years the 12 regional banks of the Federal Reserve system have operated relatively free of political interference from Washington. The looming financial reform bill threatens that independence, not least through an effort to impose new presidential appointees at the regional banks.

The biggest underreported threat comes from Subtitle I, Section 1801 of the House financial reform bill titled "Inclusion of Minorities and Women; Diversity in Agency Workforce." Sponsored by California Democrat Maxine Waters, the provision requires each federal financial agency, the Fed Board of Governors and the 12 regional Fed banks to "establish an Office of Minority and Women Inclusion.

So what else is new, you say? Don't the feds already dictate racial and gender hiring? Yes, they do, through the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and assorted other federal laws. As a matter of racial and gender diversity, the Waters provision is at best redundant.

But Ms. Waters and the House are hunting bigger game—to wit, the political allocation of credit. They want to put a network of operatives at the highest level of government who are responsible for making sure that regulators put the hiring of, and lending to, minorities at the top of their priority list. The House provision makes that very clear by making each diversity officer a Presidential appointee who must be confirmed by the Senate. The post, says the bill, will be "comparable to that of other senior level staff."
Should we assume Karl likes this new regulation? Does he think any proposed regulation is good for the simple reason it is being proposed by a Democrat? Based on his own logic it is. But I'll let Karl speak for himself. For me, I very much doubt that the state of the American economy can be blamed on the lack Offices of Minority and Women Inclusion at 12 regional Fed banks.

Citizen Rotwitt

Super Lawyer Jeffrey "Both Sides" Rotwitt is something of an embarrassment to many political types these days.

It is about such men great films are made. I have a few ideas. My Sunday print column is up.

Battered in Boston

I was in Boston over the weekend along with many others from the Philadelphia-area. I was there for a wedding. But many Phillies fans were there for the Phillies-Red Sox series at Fenway.

Sunday morning I ran into two guys in Phillies shirts catching the 6:45 a.m. Amtrak train from the Back Bay station.

"Tough weekend," I offered.
"Tough month," came the reply.

Sunday afternoon the Phils beat the Sox 5 to 2 to end a three-game skid and salvage something from horrible beat downs Friday and Saturday. Hamels pitched a strong game. Lidge got an away save. Now it's on to the Bronx. A good showing up there seems like a must. It's a long season but the sooner the Phils start hitting, the shallower the hole they will have to climb out of to take back the lead in the NL East.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Oil spill disaster

Posted by parallel

Are you tired of the incessant repeats by talking heads and reporters who don’t understand the technical problems and have no new news? Marvelous how you can make a one hour program about nothing. We already know it is a disaster both for the environment and a lot of people’s livelihoods. Should President Obama be more or less angry? As if that makes any difference.

An educated guess would be that the government knows essentially nothing about how to fix the problem, yet the pundits are starting to cry out to put them in charge. The Minerals Management Service (MMS) “plays a key role in America’s energy supply by managing the mineral resources,” according to them, including oversight that allowed this disaster to happen. So they know enough to fix it? I’m sure they “manage” the $13.7 billion per year in revenues “well”- from Washington DC.

There is plenty of blame to go around. There were 126 personnel on the Deepwater Horizon rig, broken down as follows:

BP 8
Transocean 79 (the firm that owned and operated the rig.)
Contractors such Anadarko Petroleum Corp (BP partner on the well) 41
M-I Swaco, (contractor providing mud-engineering services) 2 killed in the explosion
Halliburton, (Dick Cheney's former company.) 4
Cameron International, supplied the rig's blowout preventer valves.

What went wrong is covered well in a report produced by the Deepwater Horizon Study Group, led by Professor Robert Bea of the Center for Catastrophic Risk Management at the University of California, Berkeley. He wrote about the problems that led to the disaster:
"The information available to me so far indicates that BP plc and the Department of Interior's Minerals Management Service failed to properly assess and manage the natural hazards in a prudent manner.

Improper well design
Improper cement design...
No cement bond logs, ineffective oversight of operations
Bad decision-making – removing the pressure barrier – displacing the drilling mud with sea water 8,000ft below the drill deck...
Early warning signs not detected, analyzed or corrected
Improper operating procedures
Flawed design and maintenance of the final line of defense."

Although we will know more after the various inquiries, it looks like there were a series of mistakes and there is a good chance the top people who pressured the rig operations to speed up will not make the headlines.

Today, there is no known solution apart from a relief well, due mid August. I read that BP wanted to cut the pipe below the blowout preventer in order to apply the cap like they did this week, but were prevented from doing so in the early days by our administration, because it would have increased the flow while it was being done.

Meanwhile the sharks start to circle and the lawyers will try to take 40% (probably get 20%) of the damages paid. Then like a bus crash in Philadelphia where twice as many riders as the bus had seats sued for lifetime payments for “back injuries,” many undeserving people will cash in. I really wonder how many of the five thousand five hundred ships the administration (David Axelrod 13th June) claims to have put to sea will do anything really useful, apart from “doing something.”

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Is This Who I Think it Is?

No wonder Joe McGinniss moved in next door.

God Bless This Duet

Last night Lauren Hart once again joined Kate Smith in singing "God Bless America" before the Flyers game. Here's an earlier version.

The Road More Traveled By Progressives

Friedrich Hayek's classic "The Road to Serfdom" explains why national planning and socialism lead to less freedom and less prosperity. Here's the easy to read and understand comic book version. It should be available in every school in America.

Why isn't it? Just guess.

Junger on War

Author Sebastian Junger talks about War. Really good stuff. Watch all five episodes on NRO TV.

Not Beyond Petroleum By a Long Shot

Holman Jenkins on BP's prospects: They aren't good.
Under its previous leader, John Browne, BP sprouted a new logo, green and sunny, and told the world it was "beyond petroleum." BP was not beyond petroleum. Lord Browne used the green camouflage to carry out a politically tricky consolidation of the oil business, absorbing two American players, Amoco and Arco, and turning BP into a global giant, more committed to petroleum than ever.

When speaking to grownups, Lord Browne, who was a microcosm of our hypocrisies on energy, could be a human flip chart arguing for the inevitability of the world's reliance on oil for decades to come. He was a complex character, and his leadership ended when he admitted lying in a lawsuit concerning a companion he met on a website.

Worse, a company can't prioritize everything, and while BP was prioritizing PR and acquisitions, it wasn't prioritizing operations. His legacy has come to be darkened in retrospect by a pattern of accidents, including a Texas refinery explosion, a serious pipeline failure in Alaska, numerous smaller incidents, and finally the catastrophe in the gulf

How Competent is Our Government?

Oil isn't the only thing leaking right now. So is confidence in President Obama's competence.

George Will:
Uncertainty is a consequence of hyperkinetic government, which is a consequence of the governmental confidence that is a consequence of progressivism. The premise of progressivism is that all will be well if enough power is concentrated in Washington, and enough Washington power is concentrated in the executive branch, and enough really clever experts are concentrated in the executive branch. This is why the government's perceived impotence concerning the gulf oil spill is subversive of the Obama administration's master narrative.

The Flyers Aftermath

If you want post game analysis on the Flyers loss, here it is. My colleagues Jack, Anthony and Rob know a lot more about hockey than I do. But if you want to learn more about canine anal glands, I'm your guy.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The Cup is Hoisted

The Blackhawks celebrate to a smattering of boos and whistles. I've seen enough. Good night.

Flyers fans boo the NHL Commissioner. "There is no doubting the passion of Philadelphia fans." They could be a little classier, though.

Oh Hell

My lawyer sez:
It was a bad goal. It went through his legs. He had the angle. That was just a horrible goal.
Maybe we can sue.

No Joy in Mudville

Flyers lose! The Stanley Cup to the Blackhawks.

Two Flyers chances go unconnected on.

Here We Go

The puck drops... Flyers attack... SAVE! Neimi

My attorney speaks:

You really need me to say anything. If you can't make something out of watching that last period. Come on.

Chicago got defensive a little bit and the Flyers had a couple odd man rushes and scoring opportunities. After the Flyers had their goal it was pretty wide open after that.

It gave the Flyers some chances. Chicago is going to come out like gangbuster at the start of this period. And the Flyers have a chance to counter attack.

And his prediction:
"I think a soft goal by a goal tender is going to give it up."


This beats an anal sack-ectomy any day!


Leighton SAVES!

Under a minute...

Big opporunty. Missed

2 minutes to go. Icing against the Blackhawks. The momentum has swung.

New Life! 3:42 to go. And the crowd is ALIVE!

Another Flyers shot SAVED. The crowd tries to cheer the Flyers on. SCORE!!!!!!!

At least it's exciting... right?

Richards shoots from point blank range. Niemi says NO!

4:55 left.

Time is ticking away... 6:45 left. There's a stoppage in play. Mrs. Spencerblog expresses more confidence that Homer's gland problem is common and treatable, even if it requires an "anal sackectomy." Some things are more important than hockey games. Even the Stanley Cup finals.

Flyers are playing with more energy.

Mrs. Spencerblog is back.

"Are the Flyers tired? They look like they're just standing there."

Mrs. Spencerblog has lost interest and is researching Homer's gland problem.

... and the penalty is killed.

Period 3...

The puck drops.

Desperation Time

My attorney's analysis:

Well, The Flyers are going to have a hard time winning the game with only one line. They only have one line with any scoring ability... Briere, Hartnel and Leino, that's putting only semblence of offensive pressure. Obviously the Blackhawks both in style of play and possession, they carried the play. The flyers are just one step behind almost everything and Chicago is all over it.

Leighton had no shot at that last goal. It was a deflection. The one goal went through the five hole, that was a little weak.
Other than that he's been pretty strong.

No offensive pressure except for one line. Laviolette is trying to mix and match some of his players
unless they can put some sustained pressure they're not going to have a shot. They're goign to have to take some chances which can be dangerous against a team as good at Chicago.

The next goal is everything. If they Flyers don't get the next goal they're done.

The Flyers look tired. In the first four games of the series they were going after every puck. But at this point they're a step behind on everything.

In the beginning of the next period the Blackhawks will have 30 second power play. They've got to kill that.
They hanging on by a thread. First five minutes of the next period are huge.

I say the Flyers have had the backs against the wall before in these playoffs. Against Boston. 3-games down and down 3 goals in game 7. Against Chicago they came back from two game down to tie up the series. They are 12 and 1 at home. If they can kill this penalty and then feed of the crowd and tie up the game, I think the crowd will bring them home and they'll win it.

I know, I know. That's a lot of ifs, especially from a guy who just learned what a shot on goal is but it sounds right to me.

Period ends with two quick shots by the Blackhawks. Time to call my attorney.

The crowd is trying to urge them on LETS GO FLYERS! One minute left in the period.

Another penalty against the Flyers. You can just feel the Cup slipping away.

Blackhawks shoot. Score. This looks bad.

I don't know crap about hockey but it's easy to see the Flyers are being outskated and out hustled. Now, that I know what a forecheck is, they are being out forechecked. Yet, the game is tied.

Mrs. Spencerblog is doing laundry and talking about how much better our guest room looks after she took down the ugly light fixtures.

Play resumes.

Play resumes. Shots are 23 to 10. Ugh.

Short handed Blackhawks, firing away. Momentum is swinging away from the Black and Orange.

Bad call. Penalty on Blackhawks. Lucky Flyers. Whoops. Not so lucky. Blackhawks score. Game tied.

Off sides. That I understand.

Another penalty. For a cross check. What's that? Another power play for the Blackhawks. Great save by Leighton.

Shot SCORE!!!!!!!!!!!!! Leino to Briere.

The action is fast and furious. A stop in play. Mrs. Spencerblog is eating chips and salsa. Her dog Kai Kai, whose anal glands appear to be fine, is asleep next to her on the couch. Homer is asleep on the floor, worn out from his visit to the vet. Play resumes.

Penalty killed. Breakaway. Leighton SAVES!

Another Flyer penalty... high stick. How many minutes.

Mrs. Spencerblog: What do they mean how many minutes?

A single minor for high sticking. No blood, no major.

Mrs. Spencerblog is painting her toenails as Gagne steals and .... fails to score. At least he got a shot on goal.

Period 2...

And the puck drops...

I call my attorney after the 1st period.

"Pronger," he said, "has two absolutely dumb penalties. He's trying to be more physical after last game. But he mugged that guy right in front of the ref. That's just stupid. Usually he's pretty smart about when he mugs people."

"Chicago totally dominated play and the Flyers are fortunate to be tie."

"The Flyers need more activity in front of their goalie, Nieme. He's not exactly Bernie Parent. If they do, he's really average goalie. And they have to do a better job forechecking.

"What's forechecking," asks Mrs. Spencerblog before I can.

"You're putting pressure or Chicago in their zone. So that they cough up a few pucks. Rather than let them get out of their zone easily. Keep the puck in front of their zone.

They didn't do it last game and they didn't do it in the first period tonight.

Chicago did a good job forechecking the Flyers. That's why the shots were 17-7 in the first period.

OK, now I get it. A shot is only a shot if it goes in or is saved by the goalie. Thank you Wikipedia.

Another penalty. Powerplay. Shot SCORE!!!!!

So far, pretty weak Powerplay effort

Penalty against the Blackhawks. Flyers power play. No prediction.

Told ya. Crap.

Penalty against the Flyers. Just over 3 minutes left in the period. I predict the Blackhawks will score on this penalty. Pronger sits again.

Flyers power play. Shot miss. Shot miss. Shot miss. Clear.

No shots yet on this power play says Emick. No shots? I just saw six of them. I don't understand this game.

Mrs. Spencerblog on the hit on Scotty Hartnell:

Did you see that? He hit him and he just shoved him back down! The bully!

11 to 2 shots in favor the Blackhawks. That isn't good.

Coach Laviolette is being interviewed.

Mrs. Spencerblog: I like his last name. Sounds like violet.

20, 19, 18... powerplay winding down. Penalty killed.

First penalty against the Flyers. Pronger mugged that guy. No argument. Powerplay Blackhawks.

Mrs. Spencerblog: "God, they skate backwards and shoot forwards. It's sick. It makes me dizzy."

It's amazes me how good NHL announcers are. The action is so fast. A shift change is coming. Mrs. Spencerblog wants to know what that means. Substitutions, I tell her. See what I mean?


No icing? Why not. I thought I understood the rule.

Here we go

And the puck drops...

God Bless the Flyers

Kate and Lauren are singing God Bless America together. I'm getting chills. The crowd is going crazy.

Hey, Mike Milbury

He played for the Bruins and was also a coach. The only thing I really know about Milbury is that he was married to my friend Mike Coda's sister until they divorced. I played basketball against him once when I was in high school and he was in the NHL. He played basketball like a hockey player. And he kicked my ass.

The Cup is in the House

Wait, Dan Patrick is working the game. I would thought Keith Olbermann.

Interviewed by some bald color guy, Defenseman Chris Pronger is asked is asked if any chance the Flyers you guys are going to be physical tongiht.

"There's a chance," smiled Pronger.

Game 6 Stanley Cup Playoffs

As requested by my editor I will be live-blogging tonight's Flyers-Blackhawks game. Anyone expecting sharp analysis of the Flyers play and penetrating insights into their strategy tonight should definitely go somewhere else.

I know more about my dog's anal glands (one of them is infected) than I do about hockey. When it comes to the rules, I think I know what icing is, but that's about it. But that doesn't mean I haven't been watching the games. I get the gist of hockey. Both teams try to shoot the puck into the other score team's goal while beating the crap out of each other. Right?

I will be aided tonight by Mrs. Spencerblog, who will be watching the game with me and will no doubt ask questions and say things that will make even me feel like Bobby Clarke.

Also I plan to check in occasionally with my attorney, who follows all Philadelphia sports teams and claims to know a thing or two about the game of hockey.

And so without further ado...

From Palestine, Jews Can't Be Sent Home; They Are Home

WaPo's Richard Cohen does a nice job using the moronic comments of former AP White House beat writer Helen Thomas to launch into a history lesson on what happened to European Jews after WWII.

For instance, I didn't know Gen. George S. Patton was such an anti-semitic bigot. Did you?

The Public Education Scandal

Over at the Foundry, Conn Carrol asks Is Hollywood Turning Against Teachers?

No, but at least a few caring, independent filmmakers are exposing a public education system that is broken, crooked, and a scandal, especially for poor black kids.

Here's just one:

Philly Is A Pronger Kind Of Town

[Posted by Jake]

Chris Pronger, the stellar Flyers defenseman, will probably never have to buy a drink in this town again. They say Philadelphia is a tough place for professional athletes, but a fierce competitor with a winning attitude can be a favorite son forever.

Case in point, the Chicago Tribune makes a poster of Pronger in a dress, highlighting his miscues in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup finals. But he's been a beast, logging 30 minutes or more of ice time practically every game, and been a calm provocateur off the ice, bearing the brunt of the Blackhawk's wrath with good humor.

Anyway, Pronger's reaction to the dress poster? A mock injury report stating that he was "day-to-day with hurt feelings". Don't you love it? My prediction is a huge Game 6 for Pronger and the Flyers.

Let's Go Flyers!

Let's Go Flyers

Tonight our Supermen Return

If that doesn't rev you up. Maybe this will:

Bona Fide Idiots

Pottstown student who missed graduation practice to work with the disabled is barred from walking with her class.
"There are bona fide reasons for a student to miss a practice," (School district spokesman) Armato said. "It has been determined that this is not one of them."
Makes you wonder what would be a bona fide reason. How about volunteering to walk a picket line with striking school teachers? I wonder if that would do it.

The Wine Run: We Report, You Decide!

So a Newtown Township secretary sends out e-mails to a Delaware wine merchant to order wine for a "Republican event" obstensibly for her "friend" Supervisor Linda Houldin. The secretary writes that she'll pick up the wine during work hours because it's for her "boss." And then, when asked about it later says she made the whole thing up.

Hmmm. This kind of thing always raises the question: Was the secretary lying then or is she lying now?

It is illegal for Pennsylvanians to cross state lines to bring tax-free booze back to Pa. It is also illegal for township employees to perform politcal tasks while on the clock at work.

My print column is up.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Ponzi scheme

Posted by parallel

Further to Gil's piece "Two Americas: Public Workers v. Private Workers." This seems apt. From the Daily Pfennig, Chuck Butler writes:

..reading my friend, David Galland's, letter yesterday, and he addressed this whole thing in a way that only David could do... So, let me set this up for you... David discusses the forecast that the deficit will reach 100% of GDP in 2012... So, here you go... My friend, David Galland...

"Thus, in order to reverse the steady rise in its debt, the government will need to collect more revenue from the citizenry trapped under its boot heel. Err, I mean, “under its warm and protective wing.”

Ironically, on the order of 65% of all U.S. government debt is owed to the American people. Thus, in order to pay them their modest yields, the government must first lift them out of their pockets.

It is the very definition of a Ponzi scheme, with the exception that this one is legal.

Oh, I suppose that if the government actually had even the scintilla of a chance of getting ahead of its debts, it wouldn’t technically be a Ponzi scheme. However, when you add the total future obligations of the government of these United States to the nominal debt, the sum becomes an order of magnitude greater than $14 trillion – $50 trillion? $70 trillion? – so a Ponzi scheme remains the accurate description."

Monday, June 7, 2010

ITER Meltdown

Posted by parallel

I have never been a supporter of ITER, the huge government run experiment to prove fusion is feasible. Bussard described it as a "cathedral to science." The long standing joke has been that the Russians gave us the Tokamak design to ensure we didn't get fusion power before they did. I prefer several of the small fusion programs, particularly the Polywell.

The International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) did not melt down from an excess of energy production. It is melting due to budget excesses.

It has been billed as the solution to tomorrow's energy crunch, but ITER, a massive fusion experiment by seven international partners, is under serious threat from a present-day problem: the financial crisis.

In a meeting on 26 May, the cash-strapped member states of the European Union (EU) were unable to agree on how to find the additional billions needed to finance construction of the giant reactor, which is sited near St-Paul-les-Durance, France. The EU is set to contribute 45% of the construction costs for ITER, which some estimates now put at €15 billion (US$19 billion) -- three times the 2006 cost estimate (see 'The ITER rollercoaster').

Left unresolved, the impasse in Europe will, at best, delay the project further. At worst, it could cause ITER to unravel entirely.

All the while Polywell Fusion and other small fusion programs are getting along on budgets 1/100th the size and are actually making progress towards answers.

You can learn the basics of fusion energy by reading Principles of Fusion Energy: An Introduction to Fusion Energy for Students of Science and Engineering

Polywell is a little more complicated. You can learn more about Polywell and its potential at: Bussard's IEC Fusion Technology (Polywell Fusion) Explained

The American Thinker has a good article up with the basics.

And the best part? We Will Know In Two Years or less

Sunday, June 6, 2010

God Bless America

[Posted by Jake]

If that wonderful duet between Kate Smith on video, and Lauren Hart live, before the Flyers Stanley Cup Game 4, didn't make your heart glad with pride, then you better check your pulse to make sure you're still topside of terra firma.

One guy who obviously didn't share that pride was Mexican president Felipe Calderone. He was here several weeks ago criticizing the Arizona law against illegal immigration, apparently much to the delight of our President and the Democrats in Congress. If the sight of those elected turds applauding his hypocritical pandering doesn't annoy you, don't worry. Barack Hussein Obama somehow managed to top that pathetic lack of class just a couple of days ago.

At the Library of Congress Gershwin award dinner, the honored guest Paul McCartney took a gratuitous cheapshot at former President Bush. Our Commander-in-Chief didn't even have the courage or integrity to challenge the musician's impertinent remark about his predecessor, "'s great to have a president who knows what a library is", despite its factual inaccuracy and general impropriety.

Libraries and literacy were special causes for President Bush and his librarian wife, Laura, both in Texas and in Washington. During Bush's presidency, federal funding for public libraries grew from $163.2 million per year to $212.2 million per year, a 30% increase. Since McCartney and the other liberal/celebrity elites continue their condescending jabs at President Bush's intelligence, I would simply ask -- who has an Ivy League MBA and who just got taken by a one-legged gold digger?

What fundamentally matters in both of these disgraceful displays is the marked absence of patriotic loyalty. Since when do we allow these foreign nationals, who have profoundly benefited from our generosity and hospitality, to come to our country and denigrate our process and leaders? Obama has got to man up and state unequivocally, that while our citizens enjoy vigorous debate over significant differences on the issues, we stand together against a world jealous and unappreciative of our American exceptionalism.

God Bless America

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Well, I thought it was funny

Posted by parallel

‘Describe how to determine the height of a skyscraper with a barometer.’ To this question, set on a physics paper, one student replied:

‘Tie a long string to the barometer, then lower it to the ground. The height of the building is the length of the string plus the length of the barometer.’

The student failed, but appealed on the grounds that the answer was scientifically correct. So the University appointed an arbiter. Since the answer given was felt to show no particular grasp of physics, the student was asked to come in and show, in six minutes, that he really did understand the basics of the physics behind the question.

For five minutes the student sat in silence, then answered, ‘OK, drop it from the roof and measure the time it takes to hit the ground. The height of the building can then be worked out from the formula H = 0.5g x t squared.

‘Or, if the sun is out, measure the height of the barometer and the length of its shadow, then work out the height of the building from the length of the skyscraper's shadow.

‘You could also tie a string to the barometer and swing it like a pendulum, first at ground level and then on the roof. The height is worked out by the difference in the gravitational restoring force T =2 pi sqr root (l /g).

‘However, if you lacked imagination, you could, of course, use the barometer to measure the air pressure on the roof and on the ground, and convert the difference in millibars into feet to give the height of the building.’

The student was Niels Bohr, now known as the father of the quantum model of the atom, and a winner of the Nobel Prize for physics!


The purpose of laws and regulation

Posted by parallel
This from Bob Ludwick

It will be of little avail to the people that the laws are made by men of their own choice, if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood; if they be repealed before they are promulgated, or undergo such incessant changes that no man who knows what the law is today can guess what it will be tomorrow." -- James Madison (1751-1836), Father of the Constitution, 4th US President, Source: "Federalist" # 62

Our current rulers understand those principles well and are expanding the volume of the laws and regulations as rapidly as they are able, while at the same time ensuring that NO ONE understands them. Or CAN understand them. That policy, combined with the time honored principle that 'Ignorance of the law is no excuse.' has already given them near absolute, and more importantly, arbitrary power. Add the upcoming energy law that will give them regulatory authority over every activity that either produces or consumes energy and we will find ourselves in the situation where everything not commanded is forbidden. Which was the object all along.

Why is Mars' Moon Phobos Hollow?

Posted by parallel

From the You Couldn't Make This Up Dept:

Mars' Moon Phobos has been analyzed as being one-third hollow according to European Space Agency reports, which has triggered some wild and utterly fascinating rumors and speculation that we've featured below.
The Phobos Blog

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Grinding Towards Gomorrah

[Posted by Jake]

My neighbor, Cousin Sue on this site, is enjoying some well-deserved notoriety. An article in another newspaper discussed the inappropriate MTV-style touching that had taken over the local high school dances. As co-President of the Parent/Teachers Group, she had to deliver the difficult message to parents that students were engaging in "sexually suggestive dancing" and the custodians were "cleaning bodily fluids off the floor."

So much for the classy prom experience for today's kids. But are we really that shocked? This is the generation of girls providing daily shows of cleavage, while the boys compete to wear their pants the furthest down their butt. Sexting passes for courtship and gratuitous "hook-ups" are the norm, even for television shows in the supposed family hour. What parent can forget having to explain oral sex to these kids when they were in elementary school, courtesy of Bubba Clinton's wandering eye and open fly?

I don't get rap music any more than the next adult, but I understand different generations have different cultural benchmarks. Whether it is personified with Elvis, Dirty Dancing, Black Sabbath, or Kanye West, rebellion is celebrated. If it doesn't offend your parents, what's the point?

Where we've let our kids down is that our cynical, oversexed society doesn't balance the rebellion with sound, traditional values. Any mention of church or God in our schools is forbidden. The new religions are diversity, Gaia the Earth Mother and moral relativism. Our entitlement bureaucracy undermines two-parent families and our unionized school system luxuriates in the public's largesse. The mainstream media spends more time looking for dirt on straight arrows like Tim Tebow than saluting the courage it takes to live his upright life.

Let's get the Viagra commercials off football games. Let's return the sexual lubricant ads to the back pages of third-rate publications. Let's encourage local priests, ministers and rabbis to have a more prominent role in our schools and communities. Let's dress our daughters as young ladies rather than porn stars, and our sons as young men rather than gangsters.

The current solution from our school district has the students sign behavior contracts to be eligible to attend the school dances. How about this? Instead of just settling for a contract with our kids for dances, let's make a contract for a better quality of life.

Two Americas: Public Workers v. Private Workers

I've written about this before. Here's Powerline's John Hinderaker's take:
There are, indeed, two Americas: the increasingly straitened world of the private sector, where jobs are competitive, money is scarce, and job security is, for many, nonexistent; and the lush world of the government employee, where competition is more or less unknown, salaries and benefits often double those available to private workers, retirement is ten or more years earlier than in the private sector, and it may take a felony to get fired. This is the central economic conflict of our time, between lavishly compensated and ever more gluttonous government employees, and wealth-creating private citizens who are increasingly unable to support their public-sector masters in the style to which they have become accustomed.
Check out the Cato Institute's video too.

Let's Not Panic About Oil Drilling

The governor of Alaska sez:
America, particularly in Alaska, has vast reserves of onshore and offshore oil and gas. The crisis in the Gulf should not be used to implement a misguided strategy that shuts down the opportunities to develop these resources and that further endangers our nation's long-term energy security.
Read it all here.

Unanswered Questions on Sestak Job Offer

White House reporters are still asking questions about the Sestak matter.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs' answers are truly pathetic. This looks more and more like a badly orchestrated cover-up.

UPDATE: Byron York follows up.

Nandor the Almost Magnificent

Aston's Nandor Mullner, a layman inventor, thinks he has the answer for plugging BP's oil-spewing hole in the Gulf. I ran it past a Harvard and Yale educated-Swarthmore College engineering professor.

By Jove, he almost got it. My print column is up.

Here's Nandor:

Here's Dr. Carr Everbach:

It Could Have Been Worse!

NBA star Tyreke Evans was cited for driving over 100 m.p.h. in California. At least no one was seen shooting at anyone from the passenger-side window.

The Gaza Provocation

Leslie Gelb on the Israeli commando mishandling of the pro-Hamas flotilla provocation.
Israel had every right under international law to stop and board ships bound for the Gaza war zone late Sunday. Only knee-jerk left-wingers and the usual legion of poseurs around the world would dispute this. And it is pretty clear that this "humanitarian" flotilla headed for Gaza aimed to provoke a confrontation with Israel. Various representatives of the Free Gaza Movement, one of the main organizers of this deadly extravaganza, have let it slip throughout Monday that their intention was every bit as much "to break" Israel's blockade of Gaza as to deliver the relief goods.

UPDATE: Havertown's Adrian Ashfield, who occasionally posts on this blog under the pseudonym "parallel" has very different views than I when it comes to Israel. So much so, that I have asked him (by e-mail) not to post on the subject. I do, however, welcome his comments in the comment section when and if the subject comes up.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Is Israel Above the Law?

Posted by parallel

More than 600 activists kidnapped by Israel in international waters are still being held captive. The United Nations Security Council on Monday condemned the Israeli raid on the Gaza aid flotilla and deplored the loss of innocent life that attended it. The world body insisted that Israel immediately release the 480 humanitarians it had taken captive, and demanded that it also let their ships go. The UNSC also instructed Israel to lift its blockade of the Gaza Strip, calling the siege “not sustainable.”

Continuing the blockade of Gaza is as much in contravention of the United Nations Security Council instructions as Saddam Hussein was with regard to his weapons programs in the early 1990s. Saddam didn't even have any WMD, but there is no doubt about what Israel is doing. So why is Israel not following the Security Council's instructions? Does Israel consider itself above the law?

It is reported Israel is not letting the prisoners go until they sign a paper saying they entered the country illegally(!) The enforced silence of the captives has allowed Israel to shape the news for the US media. A few pieces of information have been gleaned from those in hospital, like the man who said his body was covered in bruises but he was not allowed to show them, before being hustled away by a guard. Others have stated. "The soldiers were all masked, carrying big guns and were extremely brutal.” One reported the commandos used live ammunition, tasers, stun grenades and tear gas. This is in international waters and this would never have happened if Israel had followed the UN instructions and ended the siege of Gaza. There is raw video posted to YouTube showing the Israelis laid down suppressive fire and at that point killed two individuals on the ship.

So far Obama has only voiced regret at the casualties and called for clarification of what happened in the raid. Like "why were you late for tea?"

Western leaders are too cowardly to help save lives

Posted by parallel

Has Israel lost it? Can the Gaza War of 2008-09 (1,300 dead) and the Lebanon War of 2006 (1,006 dead) and all the other wars and now yesterday's killings mean that the world will no longer accept Israel's rule?

Don't hold your breath.

How did we get to this point? Maybe because we all grew used to seeing the Israelis kill Arabs, maybe the Israelis grew used to killing Arabs. Now they kill Turks. Or Europeans. Something has changed in the Middle East these past 24 hours – and the Israelis (given their extraordinarily stupid political response to the slaughter) don't seem to have grasped what has happened. The world is tired of these outrages. Only the politicians are silent.

read more:
Robert Fisk

See also: The PR battle

Red Fox

Disgusted by my weak second shot to the 9th green at Glen Mills, this young fox heads for his den.

The Cracks Are Showing

Posted by parallel

Israel can no longer play the resistance to Russia in the M.E. card and America is going broke, so one would think it was time for Israel to start being more careful. Instead, Israel kicks America in the butt with stupidities like announcing the latest housing expansion while V.P. Biden is actually visiting them. Makes an ass of itself at the Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT) conference when all 189 treaty states, including America, urged Israel to sign the NPT. Israel’s policy of ambiguity was already shot by the revelation that its President Shimon Peres was the one who offered S. Africa nukes and now the London Times report Israel is positioning three German built submarines in the Persian Gulf, with nuclear tipped cruise missiles that can reach any part of Iran. A bit difficult to keep up the pretense of ambiguity but I’m sure Congress will play along.

If nothing else, this highlights America’s double standard about nuclear power in the Middle East. According to law, America is not allowed to provide aid to countries like Israel that make WMD and we all know America is a country of laws: our politicians and Fox News keep repeating it. Instead we allow Israel to take our nuclear technology, provide them with advanced weapons and $5 billion/year: 3 billion in direct aid and another 2 billion off the books. We accuse Iran of developing nuclear weapons, without any proof, when in fact they are in compliance with the NPT. It is likely that AIPAC told Congress to do this.

Israel’s propaganda machine is certainly active. AP had a reporter on one of Israel’s warships that attacked the aid convoy sailing for Gaza. Wonder why he didn’t mention the commandos were from an elite group specializing in breaking up riots in prisons. You may not have seen the internal propaganda piece about how good things are in Gaza, showing the inside of a luxurious restaurant; but it was rather spoilt by showing Abbas there, who hadn’t visited Gaza since 2006, and a Palestinian who had been dead for ages. They don’t have much more success with their minions paid to counter any criticism of Israel on the blogs. Most of what they write is unbelievable because they try to show that black is white. I see Israel is now blaming the passengers on the Gaza flotilla for their own deaths. I wonder what the commandos were doing on that ship in international waters.

Better Late Than Never

The Drunken Doofus of York

The former Duchess of York goes on Oprah, to spill her drink, 'er guts.
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Britain's Duchess of York, Sarah Ferguson, has told Oprah Winfrey she was drinking and "in the gutter" during a videotaped sting in which she apparently offered to sell access to her ex-husband, Prince Andrew.
"I'm aware of the fact that I've been drinking, you know, that I was not in my right place," Ferguson said in an interview set to air on "The Oprah Winfrey Show" on Tuesday.
Now, we're all aware.

Sestak Job Update Central

Here's my print column on JobSchmobgate.

Here's today's excellent editorial on the matter.

And here's Jennifer Rubin's take. It begins:
As he often does, Obama tried to distance himself from his own administration’s mess. He ducked a personal response and had his lawyer issue a memo on the Joe Sestak job-offer scandal on the Friday before Memorial Day. He thereby succeeded in revealing that Sestak is a fabulist, his own White House is little more than a Blago-like operation, an ex-president has been reduced to the the role of a “cut out,” and the whole lot of them practice the same sleazy-politics-as usual that Obama ran against (which, ironically, was symbolized in the primary by Hillary Clinton).
UPDATE: The Washington Examiner editorial board isn't laughing at the Sestak joke.

Back to Title IX Brainlessness

The Obama Administration makes it easier to sue colleges that don't have the same number of male and female varsity athletes.
It will once again put the emphasis for Title IX compliance on the proportionality prong of the policy’s three-part test. Technically, there are supposed to be three ways for a school to comply with Title IX. However, since the Cohen v. Brown ruling in 1995, the courts and federal bureaucrats have made clear to schools that when it comes to the threat of Title IX litigation, only the proportionality test will give them a safe harbor.

The 2005 Bush policy clarification addressed this problem by offering, for the first time, an official survey method for schools to measure student interest in sports. Although it didn’t go so far as to require schools to survey all students, just those of the “underrepresented” gender (women), it still constituted a step towards fairer and more reasonable regulations, by letting institutions show that female students were participating in sports in proportion to their expressed interest in doing so. But the method was labeled a “loophole” by its detractors. Apparently, asking students what they want is too much information for the likes of the Obama administration and its friends at the NCAA.
In other words, the Obama Team doesn't care whether women express less interest playing varsity sports than men at the same school. If that happens, its the school's fault for not raising women's sports consciousness to the government approved level.