Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Rebuilding Links

This is not the time to play partisan politics with the disaster of Hurricane Katrina. It is time to focus on what needs to be done to ease the immediate suffering and plan for the re-construction of the Gulf Coast. Of all the images, I am amazed by the destroyed bridges and the impact their loss will have on the normal flow of people and supplies in the effected region.

The Civil Engineering Department at UW Madison has been doing research and testing on how to improve both bridge building and repair. Lead by Professor Larry Bank, the UW Research may very well come into play as the south re-constructs the transportation infrastructure, required to restore civil society between the creeks and streams of the coastal lowlands. The first step may be to stabilize any damaged small bridges.
Polymer Bandages May Give New Life to Old Bridges: Long polymer "bandages," designed so that troops could quickly repair or reinforce bridges to bear the weight of 113-ton military tank transport vehicles, now could be used to quickly and inexpensively strengthen aging rural bridges and concrete culverts around the country.

To test the strips, county workers installed them on the decaying 1930s Stoughton Road bridge in Edgerton, Wis., in 2002. "It was really bad," says Tom Hartzell, Edgerton public works director. "There were some big cracks that went all the way through." …. The bridge was in such poor condition that rainwater and run-off poured through the cracks. … Total cost for strengthening the bridge was about $8,000.
After safe travel is established on the secondary roads, the next challenge will be to reconstruct major arterial bridges in the quickest amount of time. Utilizing prefabricated fiber reinforced polymer grids rather than manually tied traditional steel rebar could significantly reduce construction time.
Polymer grid technology a boon for bridges: When the long-awaited Highway 151 bypass around Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, opens later this year, vehicles traveling northbound will cross DeNeveu Creek on a bridge like no other in the country. Externally, the bridge looks identical to its adjacent twin. However, internally, the concrete deck reinforced with a novel fiber-reinforced polymer (FRP) grid system that could replace conventional epoxy-coated reinforcing bars (rebars) inside future bridges.

Because it is non-metallic, the fiber-reinforced polymer material won't corrode, giving it the durability to last at least 75 years, says Bank. "Most bridge decks will only last somewhere between 30 and 40 years before they have to be replaced," he says. ... Bank's group designed prefabricated, three-dimensional FRP grids that cranes can rapidly lay into place, eliminating weeks of labor-intensive work. That means workers can pour concrete more quickly, speeding up bridge construction or deck replacement. "The idea is, if you have to do a deck replacement on a busy road like I-90, you want to do it as quickly as possible …" says Bank.
Innovation has always been a core strength of American culture, and the world may be surprised just how quickly we respond to and overcome the hardships blown our way.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

George Galloway is Coming to Madison

The Capital Times, The Progresssive and the UW Madison Havens Center are bringing George Galloway to speak on campus Sunday, September 18th 2005. The sponsorship doesn’t mean the event is free. You will need to pony up $$ for the cause to be in the audience. The promoters are fronting Jane Fonda to help draw the nostalgic oldies, but the sermon will be aimed at the children and delivered by this Rogue British MP. Hat Tip to David Horowitz for the following link to the Iraq New Network.
Galloway Calls for Global Unity of Islamic and Left Forces: Mohammad Basirul Haq Sinha: "You often call for uniting Muslim and progressive forces globally. How far is it possible under current situation?"

Galloway: "Not only do I think it's possible but I think it is vitally necessary and I think it is happening already. It is possible because the progressive movement around the world and the Muslims have the same enemies. Their enemies are the Zionist occupation, American occupation, British occupation of poor countries mainly Muslim countries. They have the same interest in opposing savage capitalist globalization which is intent upon homogenizing the entire world turning us basically into factory chickens which can be forced fed the American diet of everything from food to Coca-Cola to movies and TV culture. And whose only role in life is to consume the things produced endlessly by the multinational corporations. And the progressive organizations & movements agree on that with the Muslims."
George Galloway was expelled from the British Labour Party for being too extremist and is currently under investigation by the US Senate for his activities in the global slush fund that was the UN Oil for Food Program with Saddam Hussein.
Was Galloway on Saddam Hussein's Payroll? “GEORGE Galloway yesterday failed in his attempt to convince a sceptical US Senate investigative committee that he had not profited from oil dealings with Iraq under the UN’s controversial oil-for-food programme.

"Iraq granted George Galloway allocations for millions of barrels of oil under the oil-for-food programme. … "Moreover, some evidence indicates that Galloway appeared to use a charity for children’s leukaemia to conceal payments associated with at least one such allocation. Lastly, according to senior Saddam officials, the oil allocations were granted by Iraq because of Galloway’s support for the Saddam regime and his opposition to UN sanctions."
Talking about treason is not treason. The American standard of free speech dates back to George Washington’s Administration. The Capital Times and The Progressive are private organizations that can spend their money any way they want. The question is if Wisconsin tax dollars through the UW Madison Havens Center are being used for Jihadist support.

Monday, August 29, 2005

A Perfect Liberal Editorial

Dave Zweifel is an editor of The Capital Times which makes him a professional liberal. Today's editorial is entitled Tax cuts for rich not doing the trick. This is professional liberal writing at its best. Unlike angry longwinded mootbat rants, Editor Dave hits every correct step in the sequence of liberal persuasion. Admire what he has produced.

1. Find something to complain about.
The president and his money people are still insisting that his tax cuts are doing wonders for the economy, therefore we should keep them and do away with the estate tax while we're at it.
2. Downplay the positive and accentuate the negative.
Because the budget deficit projections have been lowered a bit, the Bushies are hanging their hats on that "good" news, ignoring, of course, the simple fact that the mountain of debt is still setting a national record.
3. Criticize the other side for perfectly acceptable for liberal behavior.
Some day the American taxpayers are going to have to pay the piper, but no one in this administration is willing to even admit that obvious truism. It boggles the mind how so-called conservatives are so willing to spend more than they take in. It flies in the face of what they've stood for throughout American political history.
4. Assume professors and journalists are smarter than business people.
That leads me to a piece I've been saving that was written for the New York Times by noted economist Robert H. Frank of Cornell University. In it, Frank makes a strong case that the cuts made by Bush and his congressional colleagues are simply misdirected and counterproductive.
5. Imply that the wealthy don’t care about workers.
The president then argued - and still does - that even though the cuts were disproportionately higher for the wealthy, the wealthy would turn around and invest it in their businesses and hire more workers.
6. Imply that the wealthy care only about profit.
Frank disputed that theory, pointing out that giving more money to owners won't necessarily entice them to hire. What matters in hiring is whether it has the potential to increase a business's profits. If the output of additional workers can be sold for at least enough to cover their salaries, they should be hired; otherwise not. If this criterion is met, Frank wrote, hiring extra workers makes economic sense, no matter how poor a business owner might be.
7. Imply that the wealthy will hoard money unless there is profit to be made.
Conversely, if the criterion is not satisfied, hiring makes no economic sense, even for billionaire owners. Consequently, the after-tax personal incomes of business owners are irrelevant for hiring decisions.
8. Plant the idea its not who owns the money, it’s who needs the money.
What most economists argue, Frank continued, is that tax cuts make a much bigger difference if they are directed at middle and low-income families. Unlike cuts for the wealthy, which go to people who already have most everything they need, money to average earning families stimulates immediate new spending.
9. Nurture the idea that money is not to be owned. Money is for spending.
"And their additional spending would have been largely for products made by domestic businesses - which would have led, in turn, to increased employment," he argued.
10. Create fear that hoarded money threatens children and public safety.
Plus, grants to cash-starved states and local governments - instead of massive tax cuts - would have prevented layoffs of teachers and police officers and created yet more jobs.
11. Create the illusion defeating terrorism won’t keep children safe and healthy.
Instead we have an unpopular war on our hands that's consuming more than a billion dollars a week, a national debt approaching $8 trillion, local and state governments cutting services, and enormous problems in everything from health care to education that we can't afford to fix.
12. Conclude by reminding the gullible who the real threat is. (It's Busssshhhh)
That's the gift this administration has given us.
Absolutely Brilliant - if you like style over substance.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Every New Day Changes Something

All day long the news channels warn of Katrina bearing down with Biblical wrath upon the City of New Orleans. By late afternoon on this perfect blue sky summer day, Lola decides we should attend C J Chenier & the Red Hot Louisiana Band. Some people in the crowd are aware of the news and some people have not turned on a television in days. The band puts on a tremendous performance because Zydeco is party music to help you forget the hard times life blows your way. Midway in the show, CJ tosses off one comment about heading back to I-10.

Madison is filled with a core group of believers that The Republican Party and George Bush and Corporate Capitalism are the worst threat to the poor and oppressed on this planet. I learned along time ago, it isn’t worth my time to talk with them. A few liberals without a pathological obsession with ideology may eventually understand why Iraq was the correct choice for the second battlefield against the Jihadists who attacked us first. For example: A War to Be Proud Of by Christopher Hitchens.
LET ME BEGIN WITH A simple sentence that, even as I write it, appears less than Swiftian in the modesty of its proposal: "Prison conditions at Abu Ghraib have improved markedly and dramatically since the arrival of Coalition troops in Baghdad."

I am one of those who believe, uncynically, that Osama bin Laden did us all a service (and holy war a great disservice) by his mad decision to assault the American homeland four years ago. Had he not made this world-historical mistake, we would have been able to add a Talibanized and nuclear-armed Pakistan to our list of the threats we failed to recognize in time. (This threat still exists, but it is no longer so casually overlooked.)

The subsequent liberation of Pakistan's theocratic colony in Afghanistan, and the so-far decisive eviction and defeat of its bin Ladenist guests, was only a reprisal. It took care of the last attack. But what about the next one? For anyone with eyes to see, there was only one other state that combined the latent and the blatant definitions of both "rogue" and "failed." This state--Saddam's ruined and tortured and collapsing Iraq--had also met all the conditions under which a country may be deemed to have sacrificed its own legal sovereignty.
The sun will come out tomorrow and the new day will be filled with challenges. Every new day is.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

The Sweet Music of Victory

Wisconsin native Matt Kenseth Wins The Night Race At Bristol! It has been a long time since the 2003 Winston Cup Champion won a NASCAR Cup race, but the drought is ended. Those of us who have followed Matt since he started racing NASCAR Busch Series in 1997 have witnessed the DeWalt Taurus 17 Team continue to fight through the rash of bad luck plaguing the beginning of this season. Go Matt Go! Two more races till “The Chase”. We Believe!
Four weeks ago, Kenseth was 213 points out of 10th in the standings and seemingly out of the Chase for the Nextel Cup picture. But after finishing fifth at Indianapolis and third at Michigan, Saturday's victory moved him to with 11 points of 10th place and into the thick of the greatly tightened Chase battle.
What an excellent way to finish a day at Liberal Central, or more precisely the 35th Ward of District 6, attending Marquette Neighborhood’s Orton Park Festival. The opportunity to hear Chris Plata and Robbie Fulks perform outside underneath century old oak trees is to good to let pass. As Robbie says on his website, “mechanical reproductions of popular music are properly classified ephemera”, or in other words, reality is always better than recording.

On our way out of the park, Lola and I remain vigilant for the Orton Park Ghosts, but there are only moonbat’s in the dark. Any actual paranormal observations should be reported to the Madison Ghostseekers Society, if anyone there is still alive.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Stupid Blues *

The Green Bay Packers of the National Football League played their third pre-season game against the Twice Defending Champion New England Patriots. Brett Favre played piss poor which he, more than anyone else, knows is the way to the exit. You know he is scared of the future. Everyone is.

Aroon Rogers – how do you spell that name? – came in and lead a below average team absolutely nowhere. Green Bay has established the stupidity of a combined General Manager and Head Coach position. All subsequent teams that try this arrangement will have only their poor judgment to blame for the consequences.

* Stupid Blues, written by Junior Brown is copyrighted 1998.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Weaving The Days Threads

A tool for any number crunchers: Bureau of Labor Statistics On Line Data, in case you want to check the growth in Wisconsin State, Local and Educational Services employees. On a strictly numerical basis there is an ongoing progressive expansion of the government payroll.

I keep thinking that as a stand alone word, ‘progressive’ is essentially meaningless. It’s a modifier without an object to give it definition, or a force without a mass to make it measurable. Once upon a time in America, progressive was linked to individual liberty and the progressive movement aimed to diminish the obligation an individual owed to the government. Every single self avowed progressive these days intends just the opposite. The progressive government advocates cherish the mutual obligation between the individual and the community and the State. Too much freedom is dangerous and too much obligation is equally harmful.

Hat Tip to Mike at Cooler Near The Lake for Defining Conservatism Down, which a bit of a plowing through difficult terrain type of read. It was this quote, which Mike highlighted, that caught my attention by saying bluntly that America no longer has the original concept of citizen government.
Liberalism came of age in the New Deal, which finally succeeded in replacing representative government with a European-style administrative state, staffed by the nation’s ablest, most idealistic men. After World War II, when the national mood no longer favored reform, liberals turned to an even more elite institution—the Supreme Court—to continue remaking American society. For a generation, liberalism so dominated American life that, while conservatives saw conservatism as the taste of a saving remnant, liberals became convinced that their ideology expressed the natural sentiments of the American people.
I don’t believe we either need or should revert back to our 18th Century experiment, but I also don’t believe we are well served by permanent politicians. The balance between freedom and obligation needs adjusting. Personally, I believe term limits need to be imposed on the political class precisely to force their focus back on doing what is right for the public rather than doing what is safe enough to retain employment.

Doing what is right and not popular is described in words and photos by a combat reporter in Iraq. Look at the pictures then read about our soldiers: Gates of Fire.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Joke - No Joke

Evolution of teaching Math..... Last week when purchasing a burger at Burger King for $1.58. The counter girl took my $2 and I was digging for my change when I pulled 8 cents from my pocket and gave it to her. She stood there, holding the nickel and 3 pennies, while looking at the screen on her register. I sensed her discomfort and tried to tell her to just give me two quarters, but she hailed the manager for help. While he tried to explain the transaction to her, she stood there and cried. Why do I tell you this? Because of the evolution in teaching math since the 1950s:

Teaching Math In 1950
A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is 4/5 of the price. What is his profit?

Teaching Math In 1960
A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is 4/5 of the price, or $80. … What is his profit?

Teaching Math In 1970
A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is $80.
Did he make a profit?

Teaching Math In 1980
A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is $80 and his profit is $20. Your assignment: Underline the number 20.

Teaching Math In 1990
A logger cuts down a beautiful forest because he is selfish and inconsiderate and cares nothing for the habitat of animals or the preservation of our woodlands. He does this so he can make a profit of $20. What do you think of this way of making a living? Topic for class participation after answering the question: How did the birds and squirrels feel as the logger cut down their homes? (There are no wrong answers.)

Teaching Math In 2005
Un hachero vende una carretada de maderapara $100. El costo de la producción es $80

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Thought for the day:
The Democrats are teaching the children. The Democrats are promising cheap healthcare.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Thinking about drinking on the taxpayer dime

In times of belt tightening, declining State and Federal revenue assistance and voter rejection of expensive new spending projects, Madison has found the political will and enough money to hire an official municipal Alcohol Wonk.
City of Madison and UW-Madison leaders today announced that Joel Plant has been selected as the city's first Alcohol Policy Coordinator … The Alcohol Policy Coordinator position was created in the 2005 city budget. Funding for the position is evenly split between the City of Madison and UW-Madison.
Apparently the existing method, where the Alcohol License Review Committee holds public meetings open to input from both business owners and concerned citizen groups, is no longer a sufficiently bureaucratic system for regulating alcohol in the home town of the nation’s #1 Party School. The official press release rattles off a list of job duties, reading like a collection of brainstorming thoughts hastily scribbled on an easel board in some back basement conference room. Stripped down to the essence, the job is to attend meetings and provide periodic reports.

Thinking about drinking on the taxpayer dime should not be surprising from the Dave Cieslewicz administration. These Democrats are government planners in their hearts and souls. They believe the proper role of government is to take care of society which means carefully planning how society should function. Careful planning means considering the all the details and contingencies, so careful planning is to time consuming for elected officials and to important to be left to the trial and error of the market.

Monday, August 22, 2005

A Little Dav'll Do Ya

Lola and I agree that Friday night was the best BoDeans concert we ever heard, and we never once saw the stage. Walking the outside edge of the riverfront fairgrounds we duck under yellow police line tape and eventually accept an offer to hang out with the fireworks crew. When the baseball game at the neighboring field concludes, those Scott County boys launch twenty minutes of pyrotechnics over the Mississippi River. Leaning back in the camp chairs we watch as the explosions reflect off the water. After all the big shells have been launched we sit chatting while emptying cans of cold Bud Lite.

In the warm darkness between the five white arches of Centennial Avenue Bridge and the chameleon lights of the Neon Skybridge, the initial River Roots Live Music Festival in Davenport, Iowa becomes a live soundtrack for a perfect summer evening. Every now and then a freight train of scrap iron and corn syrup rumbles south and occasionally a line of box cars clanks back towards the northern cities. Walking back to the hotel we giggle at having lived through yet another strange and wonderful moment in time.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Two Guys from Wisconsin find a Bar

August thunderstorms are sweeping across Wisconsin tossing off multiple tornados. In our neighborhood in Madison there are a couple brief periods of intense rain but actually very little wind. Twenty miles southeast, however, a very large twister has destroyed houses near Stoughton. Lola and I watch the television and the windows recalling how we stood in the garage two Junes ago watching another tornado land half a mile away. I still keep pieces of debris from that afternoon in the office.

Every now and then it is useful to step back and put everything in perspective. Courtesy of the University of Wisconsin Departments of Astronomy and Physics: You Are Here.
A New Look for the Milky Way: The Milky Way, it turns out, is no ordinary spiral galaxy. According to a massive new survey of stars at the heart of the galaxy by Wisconsin astronomers, including professor of astonomy Edward Churchwell and professor of physics Robert Benjamin. "To date, this is the best evidence for a long bar in our galaxy," says Robert Benjamin of the University of Wisconsin at Whitewater.

A Bar at the Heart of the Milky Way: Using NASA's infrared Spitzer Space Telescope to sample light from some 30 million stars in the Milky Way, astronomers observed a long bar of relatively old stars spanning the center of the galaxy. … The feature is some 27,000 light-years long (7,000 light-years longer than expected) and sits at a 45-degree angle to the galaxy's main plane.

Galactic survey reveals a new look for the Milky Way: The task, according to Churchwell, is like trying to describe the boundaries of a forest from a vantage point deep within the woods: "This is hard to do from within the galaxy."
Apparently there is no monster twirling twisting suck everything inside black hole in the middle of our home galaxy. Instead, the guys from Wisconsin find a bar. How fitting.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Oregon's Legislative Wisdom

The incremental loss of liberty in America just keeps progressing. I have written about the methamphetamine problem here and this latest legislation in Progressive Oregon is a forewarning of what is coming to Wisconsin.

Oregon Limits Allergy Drugs: Gov. Ted Kulongoski signed legislation Tuesday that will make Oregon the first state to require prescriptions for everyday cold and allergy medications that can be converted into methamphetamine.
Pseudoephedrine is not a dangerous drug. It is a useful medical chemical which was widely available to the public. Bulk quantities can be converted into methamphetamine so rather than focus on the large scale international criminal organizations which manufacture meth in foreign labs, the politicians are erecting barriers to low volume consumer purchases. It is easier for politicians to manipulate the behavior of law abiding citizens than to leave freedom in place and deal with criminals. Personally, I am getting real tired of being told that I have to change because other people are misbehaving.
“Tom Holt, executive director of the Oregon State Pharmacy Association, said he thinks the law will drive pseudoephedrine-containing products off the market within a year or two.”
Once again ill conceived legislation will destroy a market benefiting millions in an effort to thwart the thousands of criminals who ignore the law anyway. On this issue the Republicans are every bit as complicit and culpable as the Democrats. In a large lab in southern Mexico, drug lords are probably having a good laugh at this paperwork threat to their business. If the problem really is kids shoplifting five boxes of Sudafed from Walgreen’s and this law eliminates methamphetamine use in Oregon, I will be the first to acknowledge I missed the wisdom of this solution. HT: Dummocrats

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Madison: Ban Tattoo Parlors

The big three: Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. In Madison, if you point out that smoking cigarettes falls under pursuit of happiness you get bombarded by the Health Uber alles Jihadists. The maintenance of health is priority number one in Capital City. It is the Mayor’s stated goal and grand vision for his model city. This has me wondering that since smoking is a bad choice made by youth, are there other bad body choices that may one day require medical intervention. Then this story popped up in the Wisconsin State Journal.

Blasted Tattoo! "When I got the tattoo done it felt like 1,000 needles going into my arm," said Drye. "The laser felt like that - but doubled. It's burning the tattoo out of your body, so you certainly do feel it."

"It used to be that if some guy went out and got a huge tattoo ... on his arm it would require a major surgical procedure," said Dr. John Hamacher, a plastic surgeon specializing in cosmetic and reconstructive surgery in Madison. "All old methods of removal resulted in a high percentage of scarring, but with new laser technology we can remove a tattoo with, at most, minor scarring or shadowing."

Of course! There is no medical necessity to damage the largest organ of the human body, and repairing the damage later in life can be painful and expensive. If Madison successfully creates Municipal Level Universal Healthcare, it will have to pick up the expenses for tattoo removal. To avoid future expense, Madison needs to define tattoos as a healthcare issue and pass laws to discourage people from engaging in this behavior.

It is time to BAN Tattoo Parlors in Madison. I’m sure a phone poll could prove that 85% of residents don’t go get inked and majority always rules. If the parlor owners don’t like the BAN, well to bad. If you can’t make a living without stabbing people with needles, you suck! (Unless you are a Nurse or Lab Tech in which case you rock!) Existing Parlors should change their business into something that does not depend on damaging the health of individuals, or they should go out of business. Can I count on your support Mayor Dave?

Monday, August 15, 2005

Madison: Love IT or Leave IT

A number of blogs covered a recent analysis of the 2004 Presidential Vote in which Madison ranks as only the 34th most liberal city in America. HT: (here and here) I would point out that this ranking derives from one measurement. There may be other communities with a greater ‘width’ of liberalism, but very few with the liberal ‘depth’ found here in Capital City. Madison Progressives are actively building their collective vision.

At least 25% of Madison voters are not true believers that government should lead us towards a conformist and harmonious society. Small business owners in this minority are very upset with the Smoking Prohibition forced on their livelihoods. This ban is a classic tyranny of the majority oppression of dissenters. The Progressives in their wisdom decided peaceful free assembly can be forbidden if they determine that distant future health consequences may occur. Apparently a risk does not have to be imminent to justify preventive government action.

The City Council is aware of the discontent and they are making token and symbolic efforts to calm the angry victims. The thinking must be to stall long enough and hope the problem will go away.
Alders Initiate Advisory Referendum on Smoking Ban: A group of Madison alders who supported the smoking ban announced today that they will initiate an advisory referendum to let Madison voters decide whether or not smoking should be allowed in Madison's workplaces, including taverns.
The liberal’s in control of City Government are adamant, however that this is a HEALTH ISSUE and PROHIBITION will be maintained because we are seeking a UTOPIAN GOAL!
Mayor Cieslewicz's Statement on Recent Smoking Ban Proposals: First, I want to emphasize that the new ordinance has been very successful in its main purpose: protecting public health and the rights of the 85% of us who do not smoke.

"I could support a hardship exemption under four conditions. First, it should be a limited term exemption, not permanent. Second, it should be clear that the exemption is intended to allow businesses to adjust their business plans to adapt to the new reality of a smoke free Madison, not to use the time to work for repeal. Given the fact that a solid majority of alders oppose repeal, this is not a useful way to invest anyone's time. Third, it should have a high threshold to prove hardship. Fourth, hardship should be proven via a reliable outside party, probably an audited financial statement.

"Smoke free is the wave of the future all over the world. For Madison to retreat from the progress we have made would be a giant step backward in our efforts to become the healthiest city in America.
Mayor Dave apparently likes to numerate his positions when a cherished desire is challenged. First, there is absolutely no empirical basis for any claim the smoking ban has been ‘very successful’ at anything other than destruction of small business. Show me the independently audited data for this absurd assertion. Second, free societies abhor a tyranny of the majority if they value their freedom. Elections do not make us free, respect for individual rights makes us free. Third, there is no way to achieve ‘healthiest city in America’ without surrendering personal health decisions to the government. A government that defines acceptable health is a government that can punish the 'unhealthy'.

I’m sure Mayor Cieslewicz would argue that people should not make bad lifestyle decisions. I agree, but allowing people to make bad health decisions is a price I am willing to accept to preserve individual liberty.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

A Tough Question for the Greens

The non-profit foundations funding the environmental movement in America tend to be philosophically socialist, by which I mean they believe government should control the entirety of society, rather than a more limited regulation of the interactions of free individuals. A central belief of environmentalists is that the biosphere and the ecosystems transcend human life, therefore, individuals can not have a fully valid claim to ownership of property.

As the Green movement starts moving beyond Europe and the United States, however, it is running into the reality that the most extensive and ongoing destruction is occurring in countries with large populations living in poverty. Furthermore, the impoverished countries tend to be those without strong private property laws. It is probably a positive development when Eco-socialists start asking themselves: Why aren't conservationists fighting poverty?
It's a shame. Conservationists are sitting on the sidelines while the Big Game unfolds before our eyes. A major campaign is under way to change the terms of development, alleviate crushing debt, and help poor people around the world live better lives. Successes are being racked up. And conservation and environmental groups are nowhere to be seen.

In a study published in Nature, researchers found that poorly governed countries tend to lose biodiversity faster as corruption rises. Higher corruption correlated with loss of forest cover and, in Africa, with declines in elephant and black rhino populations.

Good governance -- which starts with free and fair elections, an independent judiciary, a free press, and property rights -- needs to be pushed further to embrace conservation of ecosystem services and biodiversity through good laws, adequate administration, and practical incentives that work for people on the land.
It would not surprise me if author Jon Christensen gets railroaded out of Stanford for advocating free and fair elections and property rights. Waiting for free people to be persuaded is a highly inefficient method of achieving political goals, and the Eco-socialists have done an excellent job of instilling a sense of urgency in their followers. The crisis threatening the environment on Earth is not particles per trillion of mercury and lead in American water. The crisis is that tyrants and dictators are keeping billions of humans trapped within bad governance.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Leftist Problems in Brazil

A Saturday night quickie: Why I never trust Socialists who claim to want to use power for the good of the people. People's President penitent over bribes and corruption:
BRAZIL’S first left-wing president made a desperate attempt to save his Government yesterday by going on television to apologise over a huge bribery and campaign-finance scandal. Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva was elected on a wave of optimism in 2002. Now he is fighting for his political life after weeks of allegations about corruption within his Workers’ Party that have paralysed the Government, forced colleagues to resign, and moved the crisis closer to the presidency itself.

Those against whom charges could be brought include the former president, treasurer and secretary-general of the party as well as Senhor da Silva’s former chief-of-staff, seen as the architect of his victory in 2002. All have been forced to resign. The charges centre on the awarding of lucrative government contracts to businessmen. Those men then funnelled money to political parties, which used the cash for undeclared campaign financing. There are also allegations that the ruling Workers’ Party used the money to buy votes from coalition allies in Congress.

Having risen to international prominence as the trade-union leader “Lula”, he was chief of a new generation of leftist Latin leaders that included Hugo Chávez in Venezuela, Nestor Kirchner in Argentina and Tabaré Vázquez in Uruguay, all of whom pledged to tackle the persistent social inequalities in South American societies that had been exacerbated by the free-market, neoliberal policies pursued in the region in the 1990s.
The “new generation” of South American Socialists have started the predictable decay into totalitarian tyrants. Hugo Chavez in Venezuela has declared his admiration for the social justice and economic success of Fidel Castro’s Cuba, and now Brazil’s da Silva is caught drifting towards a fascist style partnership of big business and government. Power and money are intoxicating forces, especially to those who crave to directly control the direction human life.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Doyle Kills a Bad Trademark Again

Governor Doyle vetoed Republican backed Photo ID legislation for the third time. Lance Burri, a member of the Badger Blog Alliance, is asking why our Democratic Governor keeps killing this legislation.
Earlier today, Governor Doyle vetoed Senate Bill 42: a bill to require photo I.D. at the polls. The idea is simple: prove that you are who you say you are, so we know you’re not stealing somebody else’s vote.

As I’ve said before, Photo I.D. polls better among Wisconsin voters than Trident Sugarless Gum among dentists. It’s an 80% issue among Wisconsin voters – people want a secure election process.
I’ve written several posts about this matter and decided the answer is not ideological. The Democratic Party of Wisconsin is not continually killing serious election reform on principle. The Democrats wrap a veneer of high minded platitudes around what is essentially their desperate understanding that they need the votes of individuals with questionable ID’s.

The Republicans, on the other hand, have been completely wrong in using the term Photo ID. This ill conceived marketing phrase allows the Governor to correctly claim he is keeping the government from carding you at the polls. Showing ID is a common transaction, including for most other governmental interactions, but it is not a task that creates positive emotional excitement. 80% of Wisconsin voters may ‘think’ it is a good idea make sure a person is a legitimate voter before allowing them to actually vote, but they obviously don’t ‘feel’ upset if the poll worker accepts them at their word.

The Republicans need to start calling this Accurate Vote Reform because it will be a lot more difficult for the Democrats to put out press releases denouncing Accurate Voting. Bring this up a forth time with a better name and keep making the point that Accuracy is the most important goal for Wisconsin elections then make people angry when the Democrats defend the position of accepting inaccuracy to preserve ease and comfort.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

The New Millennium Pork Market

OK, the Green Bay Packers are not going to be bottom of the barrel horrible this season, but nothing I’m seeing on the field tonight fills me with irrational exuberance. WisTech has linked to a story which is an excellent example of the way the States are competing for the type of business they desire.
Wisconsin attempting to lure Minnesota startup: Biotech startup Excorp Medical Inc., which recently moved to Minneapolis, now might move on to Madison, Wis. … Excorp, which is developing a bioartificial liver system, is pursuing a "competitive" proposal from Wisconsin to establish production facilities in that state. It could wind up putting its headquarters and other administrative facilities there as well. … Wisconsin has established a tax-benefit program for early-stage investors. It also has earmarked funds from its state pension investment program for state biotech businesses.
A good economy with good jobs and plenty of money for the voters is the best stay in office insurance policy for the political class. Wisconsin is not bashful about using its tools at hand, the tax code and pools of pension funds, in a competitive global market for business operations. The special extra feature which may tip the decision in favor of Wisconsin is the UW Madison transplant center and biotechnology research resources.
Founded in 1996, Excorp uses specially bred pigs for its procedure, which takes the pigs' liver cells and uses them to detoxify patients' blood. The process isn't a cure; it's intended to keep a patient alive until his or her liver starts working again or a transplant can be found. Such a treatment could be used in 700,000 cases in the United States alone. An even bigger market is China, where viral hepatitis and liver cancer are both big health concerns.
The bet is that cash flow in the global economy will merely trickle through the old industries like making paper or boats or cheese. On the other hand, money should eventually flood into the new industries, especially operations that are truly successful at prolonging the living. I’m skeptical the Chinese communists really desire expensive new therapies for their rural peasants but there are wealthy individuals in most every society, perhaps even in the Middle East, who would gladly pay for new millennium pig farmers to save their life a little longer.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Progessive Theory: Mandatory Sick Pay

The Progressive Socialist Democrats are in charge of the City of Madison and know that Wisconsin law allows them to pass any legislation that does not directly contradict State legislation. They are using their power to attempt building their model of a socialist community at the municipal level. Their next proposed City Ordinance is a MANDATORY requirement that all employees in Madison get paid sick leave.
Council Members Want All Madison Workers To Receive Paid Sick Time : Russell McDaniel says a doctor told him to stay home sick from his job as a janitor. "I took the days off, but I didn't receive any pay. This is ludicrous and very unfair.
Progressive Socialist Democrat theory requires that all individuals have a cash flow. The government can provide the cash flow if necessary, but it is preferable to have private business pay money to employees. Because individual income is the primary goal, it follows that that employer rights need to be secondary.
Coalition proposes paid sick leave law within city: The city should pass a groundbreaking law to require employers to provide paid sick leave because employees in lower-income families too often lose pay, jobs and even housing when they must miss work for illnesses, said Vicky Selkowe, a leader of the coalition and an attorney for the UW Law School Neighborhood Law project.

The coalition is not proposing specific details for a city law yet but hopes a discussion will begin around a proposed federal law that would require a minimum seven days of paid sick leave annually, Selkowe said. … The federal proposal by Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass, is supported by Sen. Russ Feingold and Rep. Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, but its chances are uncertain in a Republican- controlled Congress, Selkowe said.
Vicky Selkowe could be the poster child for youthful idealism. Her young life has been a narrow path through the larger reality. In the broadest terms, money transfers in three ways. First by coercive taking. Second by free transactional exchange between individuals. Third by pleading and gift. What seems to have been left out of Vicky Selkowe’s education at the University of Wisconsin Law School is any understanding that America is the predominant economy on the planet because of maximizing the buyer - seller exchange. Selling your labor is part of this equation.
Vicky Selkowe: First, Vicky Selkowe, a former student of the EJI’s Neighborhood Law Project who will graduate from the Law School in June 2003, was awarded a nationally competitive and highly prestigious Skadden Fellowship to join the Institute as an attorney. The Fellowship funds Ms. Selkowe’s position for two full years.
There are many reasons to oppose this proposition as detrimental to small business and therefore, to small business employees, but the reason that impresses me is Lola’s observation that employers could simply cease to hire employees and just utilize independent contractors. It might be interesting to see the reaction of the working poor when they have to pay the full total of the Social Security Tax burden for the benefit of wealthy retirees in Florida.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

The Expensive Mission to Planet Earth

The following editorial posted here at National Review Online, but it is written by two gentlemen from the Competitive Enterprise Institute so I am using the link from their website. There are several major ideological battles which need political decisions and how humans interact with the environment is one of these core issues. Government policies make real world differences, therefore, they need to be based on valid science and not emotional reaction. "We are approaching a half century of amassing detailed photos of the Earth's surface viewed from the heavens." There are no secrets on the surface of the world.
Spaceship Earth: An Astronaut is up above the Clouds: NASA, the EPA, and the Greens have been trying desperately to turn the space program into an Earth observation program—the Mission to Planet Earth—for almost 20 years, to justify perpetual funding as part of the nation's and world's environmental protection mission.”

The nonsense is that everything evaluated is done so simply in area extent. The desert is larger! And so man or development is evil. They never look at causes or incentives: Why do the tropical forests continue to decline? Does NASA or the White House science adviser ever suggest any institutional factors? No one owns the forests and people in many of those forested countries live in dire poverty in nations with no free-market economies, no jobs, no food.

As for Eileen Collins’s comments themselves, a moment’s thought reveals them for the platitudinous claptrap we have come to expect from people who don’t know all that much about Spaceship Earth. She has seen “widespread environmental damage,” whatever that may be. “Sometimes you can see how there is erosion.” Huh? That is one of the most fundamental and basic processes on the planet. There is uplift and there is erosion—the two big players in the geological game. What are wind and rain and freezing and thawing supposed to do besides erode?
To sum up, wind, rain, storms and erosion are natural processes on a dynamic planet and mankind is doing the most damage is in areas without a property based free market alternative to the exploitation of common areas. The environmental socialists see an opportunity in the infrastructure of the existing space program and all the tax dollars used to finance people flying around in low orbits. Private enterprise has demonstrated you don’t need tax dollars to place functioning satellites into Earth orbit and it is time to decide if America can afford the perpetual funding of these near Earth missions.

Monday, August 08, 2005

An Amazing Development Down South

Something amazing may be happening in Venezuela. South America’s oldest Democracy is being stolen by a tyrant and the citizens are smart enough to realize that if your vote won’t matter, then don’t waste time voting. A Bleak Venezuelan Election is not getting Main Street Media coverage, but in sharp contrast to the massive turnout for the Hugo Chavez recall election last year, yesterday only 20% of the voters turned out to select 3,350 government positions.

First reports are in on today’s municipal elections in Venezuela. Hugo Chavez is “winning.” But turnout is so thin that the government has extended voting by two (update: now three) hours to try to make it a double-digit turnout. First reports say it’s running at about 8%. Updated, with the polls closed, the turnout is estimated at 20%. That’s an 80% abstention rate.

This is not the first time Venezuela’s polling hours have been extended. They were also extended during the recall referendum, but for very different reasons - because turnout was so high. Ironic. Obviously, public perceptions of fraud and retribution are so strong that very few people are willing to participate in the farce.

Bloggers here, here and here have warned that the fingerprint machines are recording voters’ choices, something that could lead to retribution for those whose choices do not win, and other setups that should lead to a rigged result. It’s a sad picture.

A major concern appears to be a profound distrust of electronic voting because a computer can be programmed to produce any result desired.

UPDATE: More than 12 hours have passed and there is still no word from the Hugo-Chavez-stacked election board that was nervously thrashing around on state TV trying to justify the turnout last night. The purpose of the electronic machines, nominally, was to ensure swiftness of results. I’ve seen swifter results in African elections. Something has broken down. Something is being hidden. They aren’t saying what.
What is amazing is that the poor in Venezuela, the ‘chavistas’ who elected Hugo Chavez into power are the ones abstaining from voting. Could it be that the poor are not ignorant and understand that poverty within an imperfect Democracy is preferable to living under a tyrant? This is worth watching very closely.
The day after: a bitter taste for Chavez in Venezuela: But it gets better as apparently rumors fly that the opposition might have gotten way more seats than planned in spite of the abstention. If this is true, then abstention was really as much a chavista phenomenon than an opposition one and something really important happened yesterday. Could this be a defeated victory for Chavez? To be continued.
Somewhere there may be a CIA intercept of a Hugo Chavez call to Fidel Castro where the old master explains to his student that you use the guns first, and then let the subjects have ballots.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Democrats: Do as I Say and Ignore the Cash

A couple months ago I wrote a couple of posts (here and here) about how Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz’s former organization 1000 Friends of Wisconsin, Dane County Supervisor Brett Hulsey and Ed Garvey's Law Firm, pure Democrats all, were leading the opposition to a Wal-Mart Supercenter in Monona. Garvey’s firm is behind most of the Wal-Mart opposition in Wisconsin. According to the latest overview of Local Wal-Mart Proposals this coalition of the 'willing to pay more', have failed to stop the project.
Monona: Wal-Mart has given the city a final set of site plans, which are being reviewed by city staff and consultants, said David Berner, Monona administrator. The plans call for a 203,000-square- foot Supercenter at the Beltline and South Towne Drive that would have underground parking. The plans go to the Plan Commission in late September. Because the land does not need to be rezoned, it does not need council approval, he said.
The Democratic Party may not, however, be the Party of Consistent Principle in all matters Wal-Mart. Hat Tip to Dennis York for pointing out that the Wisconsin Democrats are happy to accept Wal-Mart money, and are also happy to spend it at America’s discount price leader.
Apparently these Democrats have selective outrage over Wal-Mart's profit margin - especially when the State Senate Democratic Committee accepted a $3,000 contribution from Wal-Mart's Political Action Committee on April 25th of 2005, a little more than a month before their press conference. I guess when your campaigns gain financially from Wal-Mart's obscene profits, borne on the backs of its underpaid workers, all is forgotten. I imagine that $3,000 of blood money would pay for more than a few workers' health benefits at Wal-Mart.

To make matters worse, guess who buys their office supplies at Wal-Mart? Once again, the State Senate Democratic Committee, who purchased $147 worth of office supplies at the Madison Wal-Mart on June 8th of 2005. Boy, those low prices are a good deal, aren't they? The workers won't be able to feed their children, but the Senate Democrats got a great deal on a Swingline stapler.
It may be an interesting little exercise to monitor the 1000 Friends of Wisconsin website for the press release where Garvey, Cieslewicz, Hulsey and Monona Alderman Peter McKeever jointly call for the return of all Wal-Mart contributions to the Democratic Party of Wisconsin. When your actions are based on your principles it’s called integrity.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Portland's Success Story Implodes

Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz keeps using Portland, Oregon as the best example of a New Urbanist success story. The Mayor wants to copy what Portland has created and this gushing admiration is evident is little things like the fact that he mentions Portland nine times on the webpage devoted to Urban Rail Materials by Mayor Cieslewicz. In contrast the name of our own fair city is appears only seven times.

So when Portland admits it made major conclusion altering mistakes in their published proclamations, it should concern Mayor Dave and his merry band New Urbanist socialists. Hat Tip to: Coyote Blog via Reasononline for getting the word out that the Portland success story is a work of fiction. Kudos to the Cascade Policy Institute for asking to see the data the City claimed supported their conclusions.
Portland's Compliance with Kyoto: The Birth of an Urban Myth: (Doc) In early June, Portland’s Office of Sustainable Development (OSD) released a report announcing that 2004 emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) within Multnomah County (MC) were lower than the emissions from 1990. This is the same benchmark for CO2 reduction sought in the Kyoto Protocol, and according to the report’s authors, is an achievement “likely unequalled in any other major U.S. city.”

This caught the attention of New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, who published a piece on July 3rd, exalting Portland as “America’s environmental laboratory” … As it turns out, … the big reductions in CO2 never actually occurred.
The problem, like so many of the problems with environmental science, is that there was a major flaw in the computer model used to produce the results supporting the conclusions. In response to the inquiry, the City of Portland’s Office of Sustainable Development (OSD) admitted miscalculations existed.
In response to a series of data requests about the report, Michael Armstrong of the OSD stated, “You’ll note that the total emissions for 2004 in the ‘Time Series Report’ differ from that in the Progress Report. In assembling the materials for your request, I noticed an error in one of the inputs to the Clean Air and Climate Protection Software, which has been corrected in the print outs enclosed.”

This error underestimated the 2004 CO2 emissions by 74,561 tons, just enough to put the reading below 1990 levels. Moreover, there are serious methodological flaws in the report, all of which suggest that CO2 emissions have actually been growing in Portland, as in most other major cities.
What went wrong? Portland based their claim on the fact that gasoline sales in Multnomah County were up only 1% since 1990, while the number of registered vehicles increased. The New Urbanist socialists reported these facts established that transportation emissions of carbon dioxide had decreased, therefore, their policies were a success.

The problem is that the model did not take into account that people were buying their gasoline outside of the county because it was cheaper! Over the same time period, gasoline sales in neighboring Washington County went up 37% and many of those people drove right back into Portland to live and work. What the New Urbanist brand of Municipal Socialism demonstrated was that their policies can drive business out of the city.
In terms of per-person daily VMT, there was actually a larger increase on the Oregon side of the Columbia River (where three light rail lines have been built) than for the region as a whole. Between 1990 and 2003, per-person daily VMT for the Portland-Vancouver region rose by 3.2 percent, while it rose by 3.7 percent in the Portland area alone. Clearly, relying on MC fuel sales records has caused the OSD to underestimate this increase in driving.
VMT = Vehicle Miles Traveled and Portland’s ideological obsession with light rail and a false theory of dangerous climate change actually increased driving by driving the search for gas out of the area. Mayor Cieslewicz, Joel Rogers and their New Urbanist socialists should pay attention to the expensive lessons from the Portland experiment, but I doubt they will.

Friday, August 05, 2005

A Financial Responsibility Teach-in

The U.S. Treasury Department is represented in Madison today. Deputy Assistant Secretary for Financial Education, Dan Iannicola Jr. addressed the 2005 National Institute of Financial and Economic Literacy teacher training session at Edgewood College. This organization was formerly the Wisconsin Institute of Financial Economic Education, but went national on paper in an effort to draw in attendees from outside the State. Rule #1 for making money: have people with money come to you and spend it.

Is there any irony in the government training people in the skills required for financial responsibility? Perhaps Governor Doyle should be running a seminar on how to create money from thin air. Hint: start with a piece of paper and your personal choice of White Out or a Black Sharpie.

This has me wondering what became of Madison's 2001 Walk Like A Duck Program. The Federal Government kicked in $6,000 and Madison anted up $5,900 in an effort to “improve both the perception and reality of pedestrian dangers in the city”. The Madison Police Department conceived a plan with four tactics including “posting pedestrian safety signs on police billboards, including “Quack, Quack, Quack”, and “You stop for Ducks, Why not for People?” and “It's nothing to quack about, Stop for Pedestrians”. Perhaps the MPD should have attended today’s little teach in.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Hiroshima and Nagasaki: Left and Right

August 6th and 9th mark the 60th anniversary of the only use of atomic weapons. The present nuclear danger may in part be that time transformed the horror into merely a conceptual fear. We talk about how bad it must have been and fantasize how survivors will react if it happens again. Most of the population has a rational logic insisting that nuclear war would be really awful, but no one is lying awake tormented by visceral anxiety at a threat so distant in the past and so abstract in the potential.

The left hates war and believes in error that the right likes war. The following article is a superb example of liberal reasoning and is worth reading in its entirety. I’ve selected a few passages that illustrate where I disagree with the logic and assumptions of the writers, but disagreement over the lessons of history and the principles for social organization still allows for common ground on the belief that Hiroshima and Nagasaki should never happen again.
Hiroshima Spirits, Nagasaki Voices: Learning from the First Ground Zeroes: On the one hand, the past century has seen a great deal of human introspection and understanding. … On the other hand, this past century has been a time of unprecedented death and misery, a century of human destruction and environmental degradation unparalleled in scope in human history.

Many of us are shaken by the world we have created or have allowed to be created for ourselves and our children and their future. Today too often we feel threatened and vulnerable. None of us is immune to violence and the threat of violence. We have allowed locally and globally an ethos of human violence that either we do not have the collective will to stop or we do not know how to stop.

We need to invoke a healing image and call to active citizenship for this post-Nagasaki age. Following Jonathan Schell, we can advocate the concept of “universal parenthood,” the idea that all of us are responsible for our fellow humans.

We too must join hands today, not only in informing the world of the horrors of weapons of mass destruction, but also in solving the human problems greatly threatening world peace; the lack of fundamental human rights and freedoms, environmental destruction, poverty and the preventable deaths of young children. … It is a call to us to build a world based on tolerance, justice, and respect for all members of the human family, including those global extremists who wish our demise.
The 20th century unleashed industrialized killing upon the human population but I do not concede there was death and misery unparalleled in the scope of human history. Prior generations suffered plagues of unknowable causation and significantly higher lethality. The genocidal conquests of antiquity left no survivors of tribes and societies to document the atrocities and retain them in memory. The favorite genocidal outrage of the left is memorable only because war was used to stop the killing before it was completely successful.

I find it very telling the authors believe that violence and the threat of violence exists because “we have allowed” violence through our lack of “collective will” or knowledge to stop it. We know the way to stop killing is to capture or kill the perpetrators and their enablers. We are trying to use our knowledge with a tight focus and with compassion towards the innocent.

I also reject the concept of “universal parenthood” precisely because that concept ultimately leads toward the trivialization of the individual. When the good of society is defined and imposed upon individuals, no amount of words on paper will prevent the move towards oppression of dissidents. What works is when free people live and learn and tolerate the consequences of each others decisions, and accept the common good that emerges.

For sixty years, America has back tracked away from the horror of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. What will be remembered thousands of years from now is not that the west built large nuclear arsenals, but rather that we refrained from using them. Anyone paying attention knows our current military is moving as fast as possible towards the precision use of force, at the same time our enemies overtly covet the power of indiscriminant large scale homicide. If the left truly desires to prevent another Hiroshima and Nagasaki, then they should drop the rhetoric and join the collective will to prevent nuclear zealots.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Sturgeon Party Invite

In Wisconsin, if summer happens on weekend we have a picnic. If summer happens on a Tuesday we have a four hour afternoon Sturgeon Party. There will be free eats at the open house for the brand new state-of-the-art fish factory.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Friends of the Upper Mississippi Fisheries Services invite the public to an open house and celebration on August 9 to dedicate a new lake sturgeon production building at the Genoa National Fish Hatchery in Genoa, Wis.

The hatchery’s new lake sturgeon building features state-of-the-art sturgeon culture systems that will allow over 30,000 sturgeon fingerlings per year to be released into four different restoration areas, including Menominee Tribal waters in Wisconsin and White Earth Tribal waters in Minnesota.
Minnesota doesn’t have our sturgeon production capacity and the Illinois fish production industry is so lame the FISHTAB’s keep clogging up our scenic highways. Genoa’s new high volume facility will keep Wisconsin the leader in the Lake Sturgeon industry and provide careers for those individuals up to the challenges of fish breeding.
Each spring, wild broodstock are collected using large dipnets along known sturgeon spawning habitat. Females are gently stripped of their eggs and males are milked for their milt on the riverbank. The eggs are fertilized, stripped of their adhesive coating, and brought back to the station and placed in egg jars to begin their early life cycle.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Scorpion Poison Chinese Plants

Yeah! I am officially a ‘rightard’ in the Progressive Dane universe because it concerns me whenever government power imposes prohibition of peaceful behavior. In this instance the Madison smoking ban and it’s righteous justification as a “health issue”. I understand exactly how the health issue was manufactured by “special interests” using creative statistics. How imminent should a threat be to authorize government suppression of peaceful free assembly? You would think the left would understand their own theory that a threat needs to be imminent or preemption isn’t justified.

To be fair, there are issues where I agree with Progressive Dane, for example when they realize that light rail won’t do a thing to help the poor in our community. I also give kudos to any support for term limits on public office, even when it comes from a Progressive Dane alderman.
Brian Benford: Low turnout, incumbent's power call for term limits. During my tenure I have been honored and proud to bring new folks into the policy discussion. Regrettably, I see that most of my colleagues do not share my passion to bringing fresh blood and fresh ideas into this game of politics. It is as if some of the alders feel they have a birthright to staying in office as long as it suits them. It is for this reason that I would like the community to discuss term limits.

I believe that term limits has the potential of bringing new ideas and perspectives to government by encouraging new people to run for office. Nobody can deny that it is very hard to unseat an incumbent, especially with the low voter turnouts that have been the trend. I don't have much faith in allowing us, as politicians, to frame this discussion. That is why I hope that you, the citizens of Madison, will take an honest look at term limits as the debate develops.
What I was going to write about is the increasing militarization of Communist China and whether a massive arms buildup implies an imminent threat. The Madison Progressive Community probably doesn’t lose sleep over this health risk, but what if the Chinese figured out how to genetically modify food plants with scorpion poison?
Scorpion gene gives plants a sting in their tail. Chinese scientists have inserted scorpion and moth genes into oilseed rape (canola) plants to make them poisonous to insects feeding on them.

The researchers say that using two foreign genes at the same time means insect pests will be less likely to develop resistance to the genetically modified (GM) plants. The findings were published online in Plant Cell Report on 19 July. … The gene from the Asian scorpion (Buthus martensii) produces a poison that specifically affects insect nervous systems, leading to paralysis. The gene from the tobacco hawkmoth (Manduca sexta) produces a chemical that breaks down chitin, a major component of insects' outer surface and gut lining.
Nummy! An Army, especially a great big Chinese Army, travels on it’s stomach.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Is Doyle's Future In the Christmas Cards

The Capital Times editorial board has retained enough grip on reality to realize that Governor Doyle’s political future may hinge on the property tax bills mailed to homeowners (a.k.a. probable voters) this December.
All Eyes On December's Property Tax: The property tax bills homeowners receive this December could go a long way in determining Gov. Jim Doyle's fate next November. … After dismissing Republican efforts to limit property taxes as political gimmicks during his first two years in office, Doyle embraced what he called a "responsible" version of a freeze. He pledged to voters that property taxes on the average Wisconsin home won't go up this year and will drop $5 on next year's bills.

Doyle said no plan to limit property taxes can guarantee all homeowners their taxes will remain flat but his plan guarantees property taxes will stay flat statewide. "For every (bill) that goes up $5, one will go down $5," Doyle said.
The Governor is putting himself into a strategic position where he can take credit for the half of property tax bills that (presumably) will go down, and blame local municipal government for the increased taxes on the other half. Given the dismal state of State finances this may be the highest ground the Governor can hope to defend.

In many ways the Democratic Party of Wisconsin reminds me of the driver in the following story: Suspected Drunken Driver Crashes Into Ambulance.
MADISON, Wis. -- A 40-year-old Chicago man faces several charges after crashing his car into an ambulance while allegedly trying to get away from police early Friday. Officers found him asleep in a parked 2005 Nissan Altima shortly before 5 a.m. on the ramp from the eastbound beltline to Schroeder Road and Whitney Way. When officers awakened him, he drove the car into a Madison Fire Department ambulance. The car was lodged against the ambulance, but Earls allegedly continued trying to accelerate, causing a tire on the car to explode, police said.

When Earls' vehicle finally got past the ambulance, he drove into a parking lot, almost hitting two emergency workers and then jumped out of the car, which continued to drive in circles around the parking lot. A firefighter jumped into the vehicle and turned it off. Officers arrested Earls. The car was severely damaged.
Before I let myself become complacent and overconfident, I remind myself that the story is a long way from over and both the Democrats and the driver may yet have a happy ending. In the driver’s case, a Madison jury may find the police provoked the poor man by waking him up and, therefore, he is merely a victim of overzealous watchdogs.