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People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it. Welcome to From On High.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

When A Good Idea Goes Awry

To you folks over in Highland County who are looking forward to that wind farm going in soon, I'm no expert but I don't think this is how they are supposed to operate.

(You might want to put on your hard hat before you watch it).

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Kinda frightening.
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Double-click on the triangle to activate.

Well, Yeah, But ...

I don't disagree with this, but it seems to miss a point that also needs to be made:

Expense ratios hold key
By Michael Keenan, Blue Ridge Busienss Journal

Mutual fund expense ratios jeopardize many investment plans. Like termites that quietly go about their work, expense ratios quietly eat away much-needed financial resources.

Getting investors to pay attention to this mundane but vital issue is more difficult than one might suppose. Although the behavior may be irrational, it likely has a neurological explanation.

The expense ratio of a mutual fund is the percentage of a fund’s assets used to pay expenses. The ratio includes several fees, including management fees, operating costs and 12b-1 fees. A fund’s expense ratio indicates in large part the annual cost to an investor of owning shares of the fund. Over the past couple of decades, most mutual funds companies have moved away from commissions and towards expense ratios as their principal source of revenue. The average expense ratio for a stock mutual fund exceeds 1.5 percent.

When money is concerned, investors must proceed with caution. Specifically, investors always should insist on the complete disclosure of initial and annual investment costs. Also, the more complex a proposal, the more time investors should take to weigh their decision and consider alternatives.

Investors win by seeking the lowest cost investment products. (link)

All that's well and good, but I might suggest that investors pay attention to another even more important yardstick, having to do with something called ... yield.

Buy a Curlicue Lightbulb. Save Planet. Die.

Look. I want to do my part to save precious fossil fuels and to conserve on the planet's limited energy resources as much as the next guy. But I'd just as soon not die a horrible death in doing so.

Call me selfish.

This - having to do with those cute little lightbulbs that are all the rage - is a bit disturbing:
High-efficient lightbulbs come with mercury risk
By Beth Daley, The Boston Globe

Compact fluorescent lights -- those energy-efficient bulbs popular as a way to combat global warming -- can pose a small risk of mercury poisoning to infants, young children and pregnant women if they break, two reports concluded today.

The Maine study, which shattered 65 bulbs to test air quality and clean-up methods made these recommendations: If a bulb breaks, get children and pets out of the room. Ventilate the room. Never use a vacuum -- even on a rug -- to clean up a compact fluorescent light. Instead, while wearing rubber gloves, use stiff paper such as index cards and tape to pick up pieces, then wipe the area with a wet wipe or damp paper towel. If there are young children or pregnant woman in the house, consider cutting out the piece of carpet where the bulb broke. Use a glass jar with a screw top to contain the shards and clean-up debris. (link)
Gimme that again?

How 'bout I just buy an incandescent bulb and save myself the trouble and expense of a full-blown bio-hazard clean-up.

Oh, I can't. Congress has banned them.

For the love of God.

Hat tip to James Taranto.

'If It Walks Like a Duck ...'

The logic of Bristol Herald-Courier managing editor Todd Foster is a tad mystifying when it comes to his assessment of the New York Times hit piece on John McCain that has stirred such outrage and disappointment inside and out of the journalism world.

He writes (in "New York Times piece on McCain missing vital ingredients"):
As published, with the vague sexual overtones, the story feeds the perception by many Republicans that the Times is a tool of the Left and that its liberal bias on its editorial pages carries over to the news sections.

I don’t believe that, but I also have my doubts about whether this story would have been published if you substituted the name "Barack Obama" for "John McCain."
So it's not a liberal bias. It's your garden variety ... what kind of bias?

I think another editorial is in order, deciphering this editorial ...

'The Only Thing We Have To Fear ...'

You'd think a (retired) park ranger would know better. But no.

Adding to the hysteria surrounding the proposal that is working its way through the United States senate regarding the repeal of a ban on guns in national parks, former ranger and one-time superintendent of Shenandoah National Park Bill Wade (in "Conservation Groups Want Loaded Guns Out Of Virginia National Parks") asked:

"How many of you would want to go out there if you knew that people were running up and down the Appalachian Trail with guns?"

This guy has obviously never been to Bland County, Virginia, through which the Appalachian Trail runs. Here we are more suspicious of the motives of those "people" who come to the area unarmed.

But Will This Weblog Have To Shut Down?

Tougher crabbing limits are set in Virginia

Oh, never mind. it's about little crustaceans. Not my daily grousing.

Ugh. Another 'Whitewater.'

The Times of London looks at that Obama-Rezko land/mansion deal and finds there to be ... smoke:

Mansion 'mistake' piles the pressure on Barack Obama

It's Obama. So the wads of cash that magically appeared must have been aboveboard. After all, he's not a Clinton ...

We Need More Greenhouse Gases!

And quick!

Temperature Monitors Report Widescale Global Cooling
By Michael Asher, Daily Tech

Over the past year, anecdotal evidence for a cooling planet has exploded. China has its coldest winter in 100 years. Baghdad sees its first snow in all recorded history. North America has the most snowcover in 50 years, with places like Wisconsin the highest since record-keeping began. Record levels of Antarctic sea ice, record cold in Minnesota, Texas, Florida, Mexico, Australia, Iran, Greece, South Africa, Greenland, Argentina, Chile -- the list goes on and on.

No more than anecdotal evidence, to be sure. But now, that evidence has been supplanted by hard scientific fact. All four major global temperature tracking outlets (Hadley, NASA's GISS, UAH, RSS) have released updated data. All show that over the past year, global temperatures have dropped precipitously.

A compiled list of all the sources can be seen
here. The total amount of cooling ranges from 0.65C up to 0.75C -- a value large enough to wipe out nearly all the warming recorded over the past 100 years. All in one year's time. For all four sources, it's the single fastest temperature change ever recorded, either up or down. (link)
Wow.

The piece is accompanied by a line graph showing average global temperatures over the last twenty years. Look at the line as it goes into 2008. It's enough to make you think of the movie "
Day After Tomorrow" (only this scenario - unlike Al Gore's silliness - actually makes sense).

Many of us knew all along that the hysteria surrounding the global warming debate would eventually subside, when cooler heads started to prevail (pun intended). It's possible, if this trend continues, that Crazy Al will be making movies with a different kind of nightmare scenario soon.

Click on the image to enlarge.
Chart courtesy of the Hadley Center for Climate Prediction and Daily Tech.

Obama To Destroy Our Defense Capabilities

This is frightening in its implications. In one of two ways: Either Barack Obama is so naive and uninformed he's prepared to unilaterally dismantle our national defense systems without understanding the ramifications of his actions, or he's the extreme anti-American liberal hell bent on unilaterally dismantling our defense systems because the USA is the root of all evil in the world many say he is. Take your pick.

From his lips to your ears:


The man is dangerous.

Double-click on the triangle to activate.

OK, Stop The Nonsense About 'Special Interests'

You two are right there in bed with them along with all the others:

Dem hopefuls won tax breaks for contributors
By Ken Dilanian, USA Today

Washington — Both Democratic presidential candidates, who promise to curb the influence of corporate lobbyists in Washington, helped enact narrowly tailored tax breaks sought by major campaign contributors.

Sen. Barack Obama's presidential campaign has accepted $54,350 from members of a law firm that in 2006 lobbied him to introduce a tax provision for a Japanese drug company with operations in Illinois, according to public records and interviews. The government estimates the provision, which became law in December 2006, will cost the treasury $800,000.

In 2002, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton introduced legislation at the request of Rienzi & Sons, a Queens, N.Y., food importer, according to company president Michael Rienzi. The provision, which became law in December 2004, required the government to refund tens of thousands of dollars in duty charged on imported tomato products, Rienzi told USA TODAY. (link)
Obama in particular, apparently doesn't see anything wrong with this. Perhaps because his special interests don't count. Or perhaps because George W. Bush wasn't involved in it. Earlier this month in a speech in Janesville, Wisconsin:

“It’s a Washington where George Bush hands out billions in tax cuts year after year to the biggest corporations and the wealthiest few who don’t need them and don’t ask for them — tax breaks that are mortgaging our children’s future on a mountain of debt; tax breaks that could’ve gone into the pockets of the working families who needed them most."


And now we have the news that he's up to his eyeballs in the same intrigue.

So much for all the blather about "special interests."

This Isn't Good

Though we knew, what with the housing situation such as it is, and with ethanol requirements pushing up fuel and food prices, it was bound to happen:
Confidence Plunges, Inflation Rate Soars
By Martin Crutsinger, AP Economics Writer

Washington (AP) -- In more bad economic news, consumer confidence and home prices posted sharp declines while higher costs for such basics as food, energy and medicine left wholesale inflation rising at a pace unseen since late 1981.

The 1 percent January jump in wholesale prices was led by a surge in the prices of energy, food and prescription drugs and followed a report last week that consumer prices had risen by a bigger-than-expected 0.4 percent because of price pressures in the same areas.

Over the past 12 months, wholesale prices rose by 7.4 percent, the largest yearly gain since late 1981. Analysts warned consumers to brace for more bad inflation news with crude oil prices rising to records above $100 per barrel and with more evidence that the prolonged jump in energy prices is starting to break out into more widespread price problems. (link)
Heading over to the Wal-Mart Super Center for groceries? You might take out a second mortgage before you go.