Ron Paul Trolls Ben Bernanke On The Fed's Devaluation of the Dollar... Again



Zero Hedge repeats what JDA has been saying for years:

The punchline: "The Fed will self-destruct anyway when the money is gone" - amen. And ironically letting the Fed keep on doing what it is doing will achieve that in the fastest possible way. In fact, letting the system cannibalize itself with no further hindrances may be the best option currently available - just go to town.

This is why I said years ago that we should leave the Fed alone. Let them write their own finale, as they certainly will if they continue on this path. There is no way out. There is no solution to the problem as they are the problem.

The funny part is I've seen Ron Paul hand Bernanke his ass plenty over the years but it appears as though Bernanke has finally figured out a way to explain to the esteemed Representative from Texas that what he's doing isn't toxic to our economy without stuttering through his defense. Still, Zimbabwe Ben dodges the question and invites Dr Paul to own all the gold and silver he cares to, completely ignoring the real question posed by Dr Paul which is, of course, "what the fuck are you doing to America's money supply, you bastard?"

The video can explain far better than I can.

One Virginia Cat Is Running For Senate

Yes, a cat.

I assume my kittens aren't yet old enough to make a run for office and even if they were, at least one of them wouldn't be cut out for vicious DC politics. The one that shits outside of the litter box, however, might do great.

Meet Hank, born and raised in Fairfax County.



Well if that isn't a trustworthy face, I don't know what is.

TLP: Wouldn't Have Been the Same If They'd Offered Him a Heineken

commie hipster
His clothes didn't do it. His haircut didn't do it. Maybe his glasses would have. But before he checked out in December, Kim Jong Il got his hipster card punched in classic style.

AP via HuffPost:
In his last public appearance, late North Korean leader Kim Jong Il went shopping.

He peered at the prices affixed to shelves packed with everything from Pantene shampoo to Pabst Blue Ribbon beer. And he nodded his approval of Pyongyang's version of Walmart, which was soon to open courtesy of China.

The visit played up a decidedly un-communist development in North Korea: A new culture of commerce is springing up, with China as its inspiration and source. The market-savvy Chinese are introducing the pleasures of the megamart to a small niche of North Koreans, and flooding the country's border regions with cheap goods.
And nothing says cheap goods like PBR.

Dear Washingtonian, It's Over


When I moved to DC, one of the first things I did was subscribe to Washingtonian. It's an excellent resource for what's hot in the area and serves as the US Weekly of Washington insiders for those of us lurking around the Beltway. The rate was cheap (way cheaper than the cover price, of course) and though more issues ended up sitting in my "to read and file" box than actually getting read, it was still nice to get every month.

After moving to my new house in DC proper last summer from the Maryland 'burbs, I of course changed my address with anyone who had the old one, which wasn't many people since I try to stay as off the grid as possible whenever I can. One of the entities to receive my new home address was Washingtonian (how else was I supposed to get the magazine?).

A few weeks in my new place go by and suddenly I am receiving mail addressed to me from Nestle Pure Life, insurance companies and weird Washington charity organizations. Clever girl that I am, I adjust my address just a touch for each entity that I give it to (except for the District of Columbia, of course, as they know my proper street address - they need it to send me outrageous speed camera tickets) so I noticed that all of these "OFFERS JUST FOR ME" happened to be addressed in the exact way Washingtonian has my name and address on file.

Which means they sold me out. Not only me, HOME me. You guys may not realize this but, uh, my line of work is kind of dangerous. Call me paranoid if you like but I'm highly guarded of my personal information, at least when it comes to my home address (who isn't these days, right?). Granted, anyone stupid enough to get their hands on my address and actually show up to the DC slums will be greeted by an unprecedented ass-whooping courtesy my friends the neighborhood thugs but that's beside the point.

Now, Washingtonian clearly declares their right to do this in their not so clear privacy policy here:

We may use your personal contact information, including your e-mail address, to communicate with you regarding your subscription(s), other features and services offered by Washingtonian.com, Washingtonian magazine, or our affiliates and business partners, our Terms of Service, and/or this Privacy Policy. We may also use your personal contact information to process e-commerce transactions or send e-mail newsletters on other topics we think you might find of interest. We reserve the right to share your personal contact information with our affiliates and business partners.

Unsolicited marketing mail - to me - is a violation of my privacy. "Or current resident" mail is annoying enough but this stuff had my full name and adjusted address slapped all over it. I'll tell you where you can stick your Nestle Pure Life...

Anyway... Washingtonian keeps sending me subscription reminders so I guess it's time to break it to them that I will not be renewing. I realize my bitch ass $40 a year isn't much to them but to me, my privacy is worth far more than that.

Instead of ignoring the repeated reminders, I wrote this and will be including it in the return envelope they provided with a big fat "STOP MAILING ME" across the front of the letter they keep sending me. Maybe they'll get the hint.

Dear Washingtonian,

As much as I love your magazine, I will regretfully be unable to renew my subscription.

Why, your marketing department asks? Because not soon after I moved and changed my address with you, I began receiving large amounts of unsolicited marketing mail sent to MY HOME.

I was quickly able to identify Washingtonian as the source of this spam mail as my address on said spam mail appears slightly different from other mail I receive - a trick I learned to isolate the cause of unwanted marketing mail.

In other words, you sold me out. I PAY YOU and expect that my home address remains sacred but alas, you did not seem to agree.

While I suspect you will continue providing my private and personal information to marketers long after my subscription expires, I respectfully request you do not do so. I also ask that you stop sending me renewal reminders as I have absolutely no intention to do so.

I'm sorry it had to come to this but I take violations of my privacy seriously. I'm small potatoes in this town - relatively speaking - so I can only imagine how mortified true Washington movers and shakers might be if they knew your magazine is in the habit of recklessly selling subscriber information to unrelated third parties.

I hope you will reconsider this tactic going forward as I am surely not the only person who feels sold out when my information is pimped out to third party marketers without my express permission.

My failure to renew my subscription should be perceived as the exact opposite.

Love,
AG

Remember kids, you own your identity, not marketers and the pimps who provide them with packages of thousands upon thousands of other people's identities. It's time to take back your name, your address and your life.

MY MAILBOX, MY RULES.

Pay In Cash? You Might Be a Terrorist



Oh dear, someone give these guys something to do already.

Via Info Wars:

An FBI advisory aimed at Internet Cafe owners instructs businesses to report people who regularly use cash to pay for their coffee as potential terrorists.

The flyer, issued under the FBI’s Communities Against Terrorism (CAT) program, lists examples of “suspicious activity” and then encourages businesses to gather information about individuals and report them to the authorities.

“Each flyer is designed for a particular kind of business,” writes Linda Lewis, a former policy analyst and planner for the U.S. government. “For example, this list was prepared for owners of internet cafes. Unquestionably, someone planning a terrorist attack has engaged in one or more of the “suspicious” activities on that list. But so, too, have most of the estimated 289 million computer users in this country.”

Indeed, the flyer aimed at Internet Cafe owners characterizes customers who “always pay cash” as potential terrorists.

Public Intelligence shares many of the flyers, which target everyone from hotel operators to tattoo parlors. The funny part is that "not leaving the room" or "refusing cleaning service" is supposed to be a terrorist warning sign for hotel operators. To me, that's called vacation. Though my humanitarian work here on this site may not be perceived as such by authorities, I assure you I am no terrorist.

I really found the flyer to beauty stores to be hilarious. A natural brunette, I have been DIYing my own highlights for as long as I can remember. According to the flyer, I might be a terrorist as a result. Is it my fault I need 40 volume developer to get my skunk streak totally white?

Oh, and if you dare to imply the US played a part in the 9/11 attacks, you're a terrorist, according to the flyers. "Fury at the West for reasons ranging from personal problems to global policies of the U.S." is also listed as a sign you might be a terrorist, so perhaps WC Varones should get packing and head to Canada sooner rather than later.

It's a cold hard world out there. Do we really need this too? 

Are You There, Inflation? It's Me, JDA.



I have some concerns with this article I have conveniently highlighted below. Read on.

Via the American Enterprise Institute:

Ben Bernanke, the chairman of the Federal Reserve, has been having a rough time lately. He’s received criticism from politicians, pundits, and other central bankers, and has been attacked for doing both too much and too little. The actions of the Federal Reserve have not received this much scrutiny in a long time, undoubtedly due to the rising scope of their actions and the heightened sense of urgency surrounding them.

I don’t wish to discuss the legitimacy of the Fed’s past actions. Instead, I want to discuss the actions they will have to take in the next few years. As the economy begins to tentatively recover, the Fed must walk the thin line between encouraging growth and causing uncontrollable inflation. And as Bernanke’s critics reveal, there are arguments for doing more to address both issues.

For inflation hawks, images like this are seriously frightening:



Such a dramatic increase in money supply would lead to dangerous inflation during any normal economic time. However, these are not normal economic times, and expanding the money supply cannot cause inflation while demand is suppressed. [emphasis mine] So, while the Fed should keep an eye on inflation as the economy recovers, there has been little evidence that rising inflation will warrant action in the short term.

Hmm, that's funny. As I understand it, it is the Fed's job to make sure there is enough money in circulation to meet our economic needs but not so much that we're paying $40 for a loaf of bread. In tight economic times, many of us cut down on splurges but that isn't to say that the demand isn't still there. And even if it weren't, just because we aren't buying McMansions doesn't mean we also choose not to buy, oh, food and oil, which is still priced in dollars last I checked.

So to say that there can't possibly be inflation despite the Fed's whorishly loose monetary policy in recent years is, frankly, reckless. What that says to me is that the author has listened to too many Fed speeches and actually believes them.

Admittedly, the Fed has somehow managed to keep prices from exploding - probably through a mostly-random mix of financial alchemy, prayer and Satanic ritual - but that doesn't mean it's sustainable. It doesn't change the fact that they do not have a way out and will be forced to pull the trigger on some ass-blistering devaluation at some point. And do you really trust the same people who thought housing was not a bubble to navigate our money through such a tumultuous environment?

I know I don't.

As Skeptical CPA likes to say, "Got gold? Get more."

Well Gee, Maybe I Should Have Been a Farmer




Gee, I wonder if this rise in farmland prices has anything to do with the fact that we burn food as fuel:

Farmland values in the Corn Belt are rising as fast as anytime in the past 35 years, but may be showing some indication of deceleration. Bankers throughout the five-state region in the Chicago Federal Reserve District report a 22% increase in the value of good farmland over the course of 2011. But in the seven-state Kansas City Fed District, the value of farmland rose 25% in the past year.

What on Earth could be causing such explosive growth in farmland values? While the first suspect might be whorishly loose monetary policy, we'd have to see that kind of "growth" in other areas to make such an uninformed assumption. Though my grocery bills are steadily climbing, I certainly wouldn't say they are up 25% in a year.

There was no surprise what [Chicago Fed economist David] Oppedahl says was fueling the higher land prices. He cited USDA’s reports on higher farm income in 2011 and expectations for 2012.

He said in the Chicago Fed District and across the Corn Belt, corn and soybean operations were key drivers of profitability. But he says along with the profitability is volatility that warrants caution by agricultural decision-makers, “During the past two years, average corn prices ranged between $3.41 per bushel in June 2010 and $6.88 per bushel in August 2011.

Similarly, monthly soybean prices averaged $9.39 per bushel in March 2010 and peaked at $13.40 per bushel in August 2011. These wide swings in prices make risk-management strategies even more vital for agricultural enterprises, whether or not there is a higher level for agricultural prices in the era ahead.”

The obvious culprit here should be clear (and no, it's not Bernanke for once, although he surely has a part in this too):

On the strength of huge gains in its seeds and genomics and agricultural productivity businesses, Monsanto (MON) posted $2.44 billion in revenue in the first quarter of its 2012 fiscal year, a 33% rise over the same period a year earlier. In contrast to Mosaic (MOS), which has forecasted lower phosphate prices and sales for its coming quarter, Monsanto expects sales to pick up stream over the same period.

So... the obvious question here is: are higher farmland values a benefit for the actual farmers or is someone else making off with the "profit"?

TLP: This Just In ... Not Everything on Teevee is True

lean forward
Sometimes when I'm lounging on the Secret Lair couch, JDA indulges me by turning on MSNBC (she's more inclined to outlets like RT) and we usually wind up watching Lawrence O'Donnell. Maddow is too impressed with herself, or at least impressed with how she sounds talking, and what we've seen of The Ed Show is just unwatchable. Pretty sure he was a radio guy; might have been a better move to stay there.

Anyway, O'Donnell is a writer, so there's an appeal to his presentation, even when there's a bit of a schtick involved. JDA called him out the other night for being over the top — about most everything — and I had to agree. The way she put it: no one can be that worked up all the time.

Now O'Donnell has been busted by Politifact for one of the network's "Lean Forward" promotional spots. HuffPost pointed it out:
In one of the many ads, O'Donnell discusses the 1944 passing of the GI Bill. Politifact investigated O'Donnell's claim that critics called the GI Bill welfare. "It’s the most successful educational program that we’ve ever had in this country — and the critics called it welfare," O'Donnell said in the ad.

Politifact rated this statement "mostly false" after reading a reporter's 1949 article that detailed the bill's roots, looking through commentaries from the early 1950s, and speaking to multiple historians. Overall, Politifact said, "There were concerns aired as Congress debated the matter that the unemployment benefits would lead some beneficiaries to laze around. But we ultimately found no evidence of critics referring to the GI Bill as welfare. O’Donnell’s claim rates Mostly False."
At least MSNBC admits to leaning. Good thing, since they aren't fair and balanced, either.

Perhaps Someone at Louisiana State University Chose The Wrong Major


Ahhh kids these days.

Is Anyone Shocked To Find Out the DHS Is Monitoring Social Media?



As a known incendiary, I've gotten used to the constant hits from Homeland Security, even if they still bug me out every now and then. I'm used to having to ditch the sketchy black Lincoln tailing me all the way home from the Federal Reserve Board of Governors when I'm down there handing out informational flyers. I'm used to having my logs harassed by government contractors too stupid to block their own IP addresses. So this revelation that DHS is tracking American citizens using social media is really no surprise and, frankly, I'm shocked they aren't better at covering their own tracks.

Here's the sitch from Fast Company
based on a hearing that went down today at a House Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence:
According to testimony, the Homeland Security Department has outsourced their own social media monitoring program to an outside contractor, defense giant General Dynamics. General Dynamics was the sole party to the original DHS contract, which was not offered to any outside parties--and Chavez was caught misleading the Committee about General Dyamics' sole status.

General Dynamics employees responsible for the DHS social media monitoring contract are required to attend a training course in DHS privacy practices several times a year. If General Dynamics employees misuse the personal information of journalists, public figures or the general public (to include Twitter or Facebook users) in any way, their punishment is restricted to additional training classes or dismissal from the project.

General Dynamics and the Department of Homeland Security are primarily engaging in keyword monitoring of social media. Callahan admitted in sworn testimony that the bulk of the keywords used by DHS were chosen as the result of being included in commercially available, off-the-shelf bulk packages. These bulk keyword packages were later customized according to DHS specifications.

The DHS, meanwhile, is truly interested in breaking news tweets. The Twitter handles, Facebook names and blog urls of first witnesses to news events (the attempted assassination of Gabrielle Giffords and a January 2012 bomb threat at an Austin, Texas, school were specifically cited) are being recorded. Homeland Security claims this information is only used to verify reports, and that dossiers are not being assembled on private citizens and that personally identifying information is regularly scrubbed from their servers.
Since I'm sure tweets about how bad DC traffic sucks aren't exactly considered "breaking news," should I comfortably assume JDA's large and vocal Twitter presence is not being logged by DHS contractors as we speak? If it is, do I care? Let them clog up their servers with pics of my gay cats, food porn and snarky comments about how much the BW Parkway sucks if it makes them feel like they're fighting "terrorism" in the form of a concerned young American who doesn't like what the country she used to be proud to call her own has become.

Since the federal government admitted to there being "no credible or specific" threat against the people of the United States brewing in Iran, why not spend their time hoarding pictures of the gay cats belonging to vocal critics of the United States' reckless financial condition instead?

Here's the written testimony and the video of today's testimony for your viewing pleasure.

If Only They All Felt Like Dallas Fed's Fisher Feels



If I had a nickel for every time I've said "if only they all felt like this," I'd have enough to bail out a small European country.

Bloomberg Businessweek:

“No one -― business operator, worker or consumer -― can plan for the long term with confidence until the federal government removes the angst that is associated with run-away deficits and unfunded liabilities that threaten to drown our economy in debt,” Fisher said.

The Dallas Fed president reiterated to reporters after his speech that he sees no need for a new round of asset purchases by the Fed, or so-called quantitative easing. Such a move may provoke renewed lawmaker opposition, he said.

“The enormous firestorm that we’ve created on Capitol Hill” after the purchases of bonds would again be a risk, Fisher said. “We took a lot of blowback” in response to the second round of quantitative easing, he said. “We have rebuilt a lot of goodwill.”

The idea of a third round of asset purchases is “a fantasy of Wall Street,” Fisher said. “It’s not necessary and there’s no need for additional monetary accommodation unless we slip into deflation, which doesn’t seem to be the case,” or some “extreme crisis.”

Someone write that comment down so we have proof that he said that when these financial alchemists come back and insist additional monetary accommodation is the only reasonable solution. Of course, if free money isn't the worst accommodation of all, I'm not sure what is minus an actual helicopter drop.

DC Cops Piss on the Constitution, Kill Army Reservist's Fish In the Process

Nancy Pelosi will beat your fucking door down

This story is so bizarre that you have to read the entire thing as it just gets worse as it goes on. By the time you get to the end, your mouth should be positioned just above your laptop's trackpad, solidly agape.

Here's what happens when a depressed Army reservist accidentally calls the National Suicide Hotline and ends up in jail, his house torn to pieces by DC cops:

A depressed Army reservist who made a phone call for help says dozens of police responded by surrounding his home and arresting him, vandalizing and searching his place without a warrant, seizing his dog and killing his tropical fish.

Matthew Corrigan, who lives alone with his dog, sued the District of Columbia in D.C. Federal Court.

Confronted with a massive police presence after his plea for help, Corrigan says, he denied officers permission to enter his house, but they entered and trashed it anyway, saying, "I don't have time to play this constitutional bulls**t!"

That sounds like a fucking script, is that even possible? Oh but it gets worse:
Corrigan says he spent three days in the VA hospital, because "having weapons pointed at him upon leaving his apartment triggered his PTSD hyper-vigilance and caused irregular heartbeat."

After he was released from the hospital and determined not to be a suicide risk, Corrigan says, police arrested him and put him in jail, where he remained for almost 2 weeks.

"When Corrigan returned to his apartment 16 days after being seized, he found that John Does I-XV had left the front door unlocked and unsecured, had left the electric stove on, had cut open every zipped bag, had dumped every box and drawer, had broken locked boxes from under the bed and the closet, and emptied shelves into piles in each room. All his tropical fish in his 150 gallon aquarium were dead."

Corrigan seeks more than $500,000 in damages for constitutional violations.

If this doesn't scare the shit out of you right now, it should.

The solution? Those of us in DC leave, surrendering it to the government. Or the government seizes all 10 miles square, one by one. Your choice, America.

Confirmed: USPS' New Marketing Plan Sucks



Aha! Although I was berated by mailmen and mailchicks (is that the correct term?) across the country for daring to say that the USPS' new marketing plan blows, CBS News has confirmed what I already knew, it sucks.

Check out this juicy little bit from "10 companies with insanely bad marketing":

New U.S. Postal Service commercial. There's a new U.S. Postal Service TV commercial where the narrator says, "A refrigerator has never been hacked. An online virus has never attacked a corkboard. Give your customers the added feeling of security a printed statement or receipt provides. With mail. It's good for your business and even better for your customers." Really? Spam customers with junk mail so they can hang it on the refrigerator door? Really? Does marketing get any more desperate than that?

See? SEE?! I told you. Stupid.

Apologies may be sent C.O. JDA, Washington, DC, 20032. Thank you.

It's a Good Thing All Those Unemployed People Stopped Trying to Find a Job, Says Bernanke




Meanwhile, in deaf, dumb and blind Federal Reserve asshat news:

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said there has been a "modest increase" in the long-run sustainable average of U.S. unemployment, noting this was a cause of concern for monetary-policy officials.

Mr. Bernanke faced the Senate Budget Committee Tuesday, again offering a message for Washington to get its fiscal house in order.

In his opening remarks to the panel, the Fed chief said the current estimate of the longer-run normal rate of unemployment is between 5.2% and 6%.

Yeah? Is this from the same model that predicted housing prices could never ever go down?

Sure unemployment will run at 5 - 6% once all the people who have been looking for work for the last two to three years finally give up and either kill themselves, go postal and end up in prison or get smart and make a run for the border. I hear dishwashers in Mexico are pulling at least 6 pesos an hour these days.

Forgetting about the plight of the American worker, Gentle Ben reiterated his commitment to European markets. As if any of us doubted his resolve. "We are in frequent contact with European authorities, and we will continue to monitor the situation closely and take every available step to protect the U.S. financial system and the economy," Bernanke said in prepared remarks.

Whatever it takes!

TLP: Score One for the Governor

snooki tweetSeems that "Jersey Shore" just can't win with Chris Christie. The New Jersey governor blocked payment last year of an economic incentive for the MTV reality show. And now he's schooling Snooki in the basics of democracy.

NJBIZ:
On Tuesday, "Jersey Shore" cast member Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi took to Twitter to write, "I will not be voting for Chris Christie. Love always, the 'buffoons' from that degrading Jersey Shore show."

Snooki called Christie "judgmental" and accused him of "calling us names when he's never met us."

On Thursday, Christie told the BioNJ crowd he's working hard to improve New Jersey's image, which he said was harmed by shows like Polizzi's.

"For far too long over the last decade, New Jersey was more of a punch-line on the late-night talk shows and other places, right?" he said. "You know, 'The Sopranos,' 'Real Housewives of New Jersey'. God forbid, 'Jersey Shore.'"

Christie, who declined to run for president and won't be up for re-election until next year, said he's heard about Polizzi's tweets.

"You see, this further reinforces my concern about these people," he said. "She lives in New York. She can't vote for me."
Not that he sounds too upset about it.

If This Presidential Thing Doesn't Work Out For Mitt Romney Maybe He'll Try B-Movies


Is it just me or is Mitt Romney a dead ringer for Bruce Campbell? Every time I see Mitt's drawn up face, I can't help but imagine it dripping with blood.

So I put them together and the above is what you get. Minus the authoritative chin, they could pretty much be the same guy.

What this says to me is that if the run to the White House doesn't pan out for Romney, he could have a pretty lucrative career making bad horror flicks and running around Comic-Con.

"Well I've got news for you pal, you ain't leadin' but two things right now: Jack and shit... and Jack left town."

Ethanol is (Still) a Rip Off



I hate to use the "authority" that is Wikipedia but it's Sunday and I'm lazy, leave me alone:

One GGE of ethanol is 1.5 gallons. This volume of ethanol has the same energy content as one US gallon of gasoline. This is because a gallon of ethanol has a lower heat value or energy content (76,100 BTU) when compared to a gallon of gasoline (114,100 BTU). A 2006 University of California Berkley study, after analyzing six separate studies, concluded that producing ethanol from corn uses much less petroleum than producing gasoline.

Ordinary consumers driving a "flex-fuel" vehicle may experience a drop (~15%) in fuel mileage when using 85% ethanol products (the compression ratio is fixed mechanically, and electronic sensors can only modify the timing of the spark and allow the electronic fuel injectors to provide more of the reduced energy-content fuel).

So what this means is that they are essentially diluting our good gas with corn (and you know what that does to your intestines, imagine what it does to your car) and ripping us off. Gas is no cheaper than when ethanol technology made its way to our gas tanks and, in fact, has surged on despite mandatory ethanol minimums. Of course, the goal never was cheaper gas for Americans. The corn mafia could give a rat's ass how many miles we get to the gallon. Washington certainly doesn't care and in fact would probably love to see our engines shredded in a shorter period of time so we're forced to buy new Fords even sooner than we would otherwise (American cars suck, people, how many times do I have to say this?) so Bernanke can tout his economy-saving prowess.

As an added bonus (sarcasm), corn prices are up (shock), further adding to the clusterfuck that is burning food for fuel. Yes ethanol is renewable in a way petroleum isn't but does that mean we should be burning food?

Ethanol futures gained for a second day in Chicago on concern that production costs will increase because of higher export demand for corn.

Futures advanced as corn rose to a three-week high, adding to speculation that distilleries will have to compete with foreign buyers to secure supply of the grain, which is used to make ethanol in the U.S. One bushel of corn makes about 2.75 gallons of the biofuel.

“Corn’s been up and that’s helping to support it,” said Will Babler, a broker at First Capitol Risk Management in Galena, Illinois.

But wait, what happens to our favorite High Fructose Gas Tank Syrup now that Congress is finally done paying refiners 45¢ a gallon to muddy up our fuel supply?

After 30 years of government largesse that would have made even Nancy Pelosi blush, Congress in December let expire the roughly $6 billion annual subsidy for corn ethanol. That's bad news for the big refiners that were paid 45¢ for each gallon of corn ethanol they blended into gasoline supplies. But it's good news for those worried about the "food-fuel dilemma" when the demand for corn to make ethanol has been raising the price of some foods.

Not so fast. It turns out that while the subsidies are gone, U.S. law still requires oil refiners to blend corn ethanol into fuel -- some 12.5 billion gallons this year and at least 15 billion gallons by 2015. That's still a small portion compared with the 133 billion gallons of gasoline that the U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates Americans will burn this year, but nonetheless enough to keep upward pressure on corn prices. That law needs to change, argues Jeremy Grantham -- who oversees nearly $100 billion at his Boston investment firm, is known for calling both the dotcom and housing bubbles and is an environmentalist to boot. "It [U.S. ethanol policy] is truly diabolical," he says. "The subsidy was decoration. The mandate is the villain here."

DAMN. You mean we're still stuck with corn in our gas tanks? With the government support gone, you can only imagine who is going to subsidize the refiners now.

Here's what's funny. As is, we have 10% ethanol in our gas. The government requires a minimum amount of this to be sold in each state, whether you drive a 1988 Toyota Tercel or a 2012 BMW. Good luck finding a station that actually sells real gasoline. Although anyone with an engine knows that ethanol gums up fuel injectors, there's nothing we can do if every station in town sells the bad stuff. Here's the funny part... if the mix is changed to 85/15 (which many of us have access to), we're warned that 15% ethanol "may cause damage" and could actually be a federal crime to use in engines that are not built to handle it. Really? 5% makes all that much more of a difference? At 10% it's all good but 5% more and it's suddenly an engine-destroying demon?


And don't even think about letting your car sit for more than 3 months with a tank full of corn gas.

Of all the insidious lobbying efforts going on right now in my hometown, I'd have to say this is the most disgusting, backwards and villainous of all.

I'm From the Internet And I'm Here To Help



Hey, read this. When I did, I suddenly felt proud for the first time in a long time to say I work for the Internet. Or, as H.G. Wells called it in 1937, the "permanent world encyclopaedia."

It is probable that the idea of an encyclopaedia may undergo very considerable extension and elaboration in the near future. Its full possibilities have still to be realized. The encyclopaedias of the past have sufficed for the needs of a cultivated minority. They were written "for gentlemen by gentlemen" in a world wherein universal education was unthought of, and where the institutions of modern democracy with universal suffrage, so necessary in many respects, so difficult and dangerous in their working, had still to appear. Throughout the nineteenth century encyclopaedias followed the eighteenth-century scale and pattern, in spite both of a gigantic increase in recorded knowledge and of a still more gigantic growth in the numbers of human beings requiring accurate and easily accessible information. At first this disproportion was scarcely noted, and its consequences not at all. But many people now are coming to recognize that our contemporary encyclopaedias are still in the coach-and-horses phase of development, rather than in the phase of the automobile and the aeroplane. Encyclopaedic enterprise has not kept pace with material progress. These observers realize that modern facilities of transport, radio, photographic reproduction and so forth are rendering practicable a much more fully succinct and accessible assembly of fact and ideas than was ever possible before.

Concurrently with these realizations there is a growing discontent with the part played by the universities, schools and libraries in the intellectual life of mankind. Universities multiply, schools of every grade and type increase, but they do not enlarge their scope to anything like the urgent demands of this troubled and dangerous age. They do not perform the task nor exercise the authority that might reasonably be attributed to the thought and knowledge organization of the world. It is not, as it should be, a case of larger and more powerful universities co-operating more and more intimately, but of many more universities of the old type, mostly ill-endowed and uncertainly endowed, keeping at the old educational level.

Both the assembling and the distribution of knowledge in the world at present are extremely ineffective, and thinkers of the forward-looking type whose ideas we are now considering, are beginning to realize that the most hopeful line for the development of our racial intelligence lies rather in the direction of creating a new world organ for the collection, indexing, summarizing and release of knowledge, than in any further tinkering with the highly conservative and resistant university system, local, national and traditional in texture, which already exists. These innovators, who may be dreamers today, but who hope to become very active organizers tomorrow, project a unified, if not a centralized, world organ to "pull the mind of the world together", which will be not so much a rival to the universities, as a supplementary and co-ordinating addition to their educational activities - on a planetary scale.

The phrase "Permanent World Encyclopaedia" conveys the gist of these ideas. As the core of such an institution would be a world synthesis of bibliography and documentation with the indexed archives of the world. A great number of workers would be engaged perpetually in perfecting this index of human knowledge and keeping it up to date. Concurrently, the resources of micro-photography, as yet only in their infancy, will be creating a concentrated visual record.

If you read the entire thing, you will get a strange sense of deja vu. You're on the Permanent World Encyclopaedia right now. We all recently emerged from a battle to protect that collective project we've been working on (some of us most of our lives), so it would be really sad to think we'll be defending it again soon. Oh crap, the same guy is at it again!

I get to index human knowledge - my own and that of others - on a daily basis and feel grateful for that. I polish it off with my opinion (sometimes, this is like polishing a turd on your lawn) and sort what I find interesting, further processing it. It's like an assembly line of information. Other brains come along and sort it even deeper - some of them by hurling insults - and so the world editing project goes on.

Maybe Wells was a globalist prick by the time he wrote this but he nailed the Internet, and perhaps foresaw whatever indexes us while we're busy out there indexing everything else for it. Humanity has mapped out its collective knowledge freely and openly; sharing amongst ourselves is the goal but sharing what we know with those who might want to stifle our mental processes is the consequence.

And then there's this bit published in the Journal of the American Society for Information Science in 1999. It's funny to read now with 16 Gb memory cards and 32 Gb devices and hard drives that seem to hold everything, despite human beings rapidly and constantly adding to their data hoards. Pictures. Music. Video. Video games.

Perhaps part of the brain image’s contemporary seductiveness lies in the way in which it seems to permit an imperceptible modulation of description and analysis from the metaphorical to the material and back again. Most current invocations of Wells’s ideas about a World Brain, however, can be described as superficial, selective and nearly always en passant. The references to it are essentially incantatory. Almost casually, for example, the distinguished information scientist, Michael Lesk, recently concluded a paper disseminated on the Web with the observation that current trends suggest that "there will be enough disk space and tape storage in the world to store everything people write, say, perform, or photograph. For writing this is true already; for others it is only a year or two away." Lesk does not question the desirability of this appalling prospect, but concludes that we are now on the verge of realising that "brain" organisation that Wells envisioned. "We could build a real ‘World Encyclopedia’ with a true ‘planetary memory for all mankind’ as Wells wrote in 1938’", Lesk observed. He mentions that Wells had talked of "knitting all the intellectual workers of the world through a common interest." "We could do it," says Lesk (Lesk, 1997, p.5). But would we want to do it?

Too late. We did.

Just one proud curator of the World Brain,
JDA

USPS Mailmen Are Tree-Hating, Clutter-Loving Polluters


Know what I hate? Mail. In all forms. I hate that Washingtonian sold my information (I subscribe... and no, I will not renew when my subscription is up thanks to this shady tactic) so I get all kinds of weird offers for Nestle Pure Life and car insurance that clutter up my mailbox. I pay all of my bills online like most people these days and though I have elected to receive most of my bills via email, I still get bombarded by Victoria's Secret catalogs, insurance offers and proxy statements. No sooner do I clean out my mailbox than more crap magically appears with my name on it. Worse, I seem to end up with my neighbors' mortgage statements and bills at least once a week even though our names are not at all similar and we obviously live in different units.

I proudly work for a company which buys carbon offsets to make up for the few things we print a year and our energy usage during office hours though I am certainly not a tree-hugging crazy about it. I recycle my beer bottles, stack my pizza boxes and turn lights off when I am not using them but I wouldn't call myself an environmentalist, I figure this Earth is doomed with or without global warming.

Anyway, I was watching teevee tonight on my 47" Energy Star HDTV and happened to see an ad paid for by the United States Postal Service that apparently wants Americans to reconsider their distaste for paper. According to the mailmen, businesses need to start sending more useless pieces of paper to show how much they care... or something.

Watch this (transcript included below for LOL purposes):


"VO: A refrigerator has never been hacked.

An online virus has never attacked a corkboard.

Give your customers the added feeling of security a printed statement or receipt provides with Mail.

It's good for your business.

And even better for your customers.

For safe and secure ways to stay connected, visit usps.com/mail"
Umm... an "online virus" has never attacked a MacBook either, USPS, where have you been? Hanging out in an AOL chat room?

Added security, huh? For whom? The mailmen who are afraid they'll be out of a job if this whole "let's use the Internet so we don't have to waste paper" thing keeps up? I don't see the trend moving in USPS' favor any time soon.

Therefore, I'm concluding from this ad that the USPS is nothing but a bunch of selfish, inconsiderate, tree-hating, clutter-loving polluters who would love nothing more than to see the remainder of America's lush forests cut down and made into useless paper stuffed into useless envelopes and sent back and forth across the country for no apparent reason.

Why Best Buy Deserves To Die a Horrible Death



Disclaimer: I'm pissed off right now. Really pissed off. So this is going to be a rant and it's warranted but you might need to grab a beer and settle in 'cause it's gonna be a long one.

My love affair with Best Buy started long long ago when I was a starry-eyed, music-loving teenager. This was back in the day before we had fancy shmancy awesomeness like high-speed Internet and uTorrent, so I bought my CDs like everyone else did back then. Best Buy scored plenty of FRNs from young, hard-working JDA, who might have been making something like $4.50 an hour at some crappy retail job after school. I liked Best Buy then, they had lots of shiny things I would stroll around and admire and think "Man, when I'm a grown up, I'm gonna have all that in my house."

Fast forward to the early 2000s, when I'm now in my early 20s. I needed a laptop (Windows XP had just come out and was awesome) so I shlepped my butt down there, picked up a $1400 Compaq on Best Buy credit (remember when laptops were a true luxury?) and went about my business. Or didn't.

After a month, the laptop completely crapped out on me. I fell for the "extended plan" so brought it down to the "friendly" Best Buy in San Francisco to say it was fried and wouldn't turn on. They took it away, leaving me without a laptop for a month and a half (yes, a month and a half) while they replaced the motherboard. OK, all better, right?

No. A few months later, I'm back at the now less than friendly Best Buy in San Francisco with my laptop explaining how the motherboard appears to be fried again because it isn't working just like last time. Fine, they took it away and a month later (hey, at least they did it faster this time), I had my laptop back. Well yay, I was able to get back to playing Counter Strike and, uh, whatever other business I had.

Too bad it died again not a handful of months after that. Smart girl that I am, I read through the extended warranty plan, which specifically laid out a lemon clause that allowed me a full replacement of the item in question should I have to send the item out for service on the same issue three times. It was written right there with my pretty little signature below it, so I grabbed my fried laptop for the third time, headed down to the totally hostile by now Best Buy in San Francisco and demanded a new computer per the terms of this $300 contract we both signed. Except Best Buy in San Francisco did not want to get me a new laptop. In fact, they didn't even want to fix the motherboard this time, and tried to convince me I somehow reached into the device and ruined it myself just to be difficult. O rly?

Conveniently enough for me, I was scheduled for a vacation to the Minneapolis suburbs to see my mother around the time my laptop failed (for the third time, mind you). Having lived there once upon a time, I knew that the global Best Buy headquarters sat right there in said Minneapolis suburbs, so I packed up my $1400 paperweight, grabbed the contract and got on a plane.

When I arrived at the Best Buy in Richfield, MN with the brick of a laptop, they did not hesitate to offer me a replacement (I may have been yelling by this point) that was actually better than the now year-old piece of shit they initially sold me since technology moves fast. That computer lasted me 5 years before it finally died, and you can thank it for bringing you much of the content you enjoyed on JDA for my first year or so of doing this.

Now. Let's get to this week.

I have this iPod classic that holds 30,000 songs that may or may not have gotten a little rain on it so the skip forward button doesn't work. Since it's a $250 device that was a gift from the always generous Lazy Paperboy and out of warranty, I suffer through it but decided I wanted a remote to skip songs in the car. I wouldn't have ordered anything from Best Buy except I had a $75 gift card to burn so I went online, picked one out and selected to pick it up from the Best Buy near my work way out in the Maryland suburbs. The order went through and I awaited the email to say "your item is ready for pickup."

That email never came. Instead, I got an email that said "sorry, your item is not available at the store you selected." Great. So I called their 800 number as I was instructed to do to set up an alternate store and instead was told "due to heavy call volume, we ask that you call back." OK, now this is getting annoying but I'm a pretty reasonable person. I finally got them on the line hours later and picked the worst store possible - Columbia Heights in DC - which is closer to my house but impossible to park at without paying $6.50 in garage fees.

When I arrived and handed the guy my ID, they could not find the item I was told they'd put away for me. Fine. They called someone to check in the back for the item. I waited. I tweeted nonsense, answered emails I've been neglecting and waited. Made jokes with the guy working behind the counter and waited (I'm pretty patient when it means I'm getting stuff). Finally, someone found the product where it was supposed to be (in the bin that starts with the same letter as my last name, go figure) and now my ID was missing. "You have my ID," I told the guy. "No, I gave it back to you," he said. "NO, you have my ID because I don't and I just gave it to you." Turns out he gave it to some other woman who thankfully hadn't left the store yet and was kind enough to check her pockets and say "Oh, I'm sorry, this is yours." Luckily she was black, old and short so probably wouldn't have been able to do much with an ID belonging to a young, tall white chick.

Coincidentally, my modem died two days ago and I still had $50 to spend on the Best Buy gift card so I ordered a new modem online to pick up in the store out in the Maryland burbs near work despite my horrible experience not two days before. What were the odds they'd screw this up too? Thankfully, they had the item in stock this time. Thank God, I thought, my luck is changing. So I picked it up after work, drove the entire 40 miles back to DC, opened the box excited to be back on the Internet after two days of dark loneliness and to my shock and surprise, discovered that there was not a power cord in the box. Yes, no cord. So no way to use the product I just spent $50 on. It was an obvious return as the packaging around the modem had been torn open, which I wouldn't have cared about had the box contained everything I paid for and needed to use the item.

I called Best Buy (again) and told them the story. First off, there was not a single "Oh I'm so sorry!" or "how horrible!" or "Oh God we suck ass so bad!" I told the woman on the line it was not possible for me to return the item to the store way out in the Maryland burbs tonight as that's a 40 mile drive from my house but I needed Internet TODAY so she said I could go to a store closer to me and exchange it. I specifically asked "are you sure I can do that?" and she reluctantly snipped back "what's your order number?" as she looked me up. She found me a store closer to me in Alexandria, VA and assured me I could exchange it there. I grabbed my receipt and the useless modem without a power source and headed out.

So you can imagine my surprise when I arrived there, modem in tow and ready to cut a bitch, only to be told that they could not exchange the item. "You'll have to return it to the store you bought it from," she said. "I bought it online," I said. "And they told me I could bring it back here." Nope. Well fuck! "Do you sell the fucking cord your company didn't include in the box at least?" I asked, ready to punch anyone in a blue shirt in the face. "We don't sell the cords," she told me, with a completely straight face, apparently completely unaware that she was about to get her ass beat by an otherwise reasonable person. See, the problem here is not that I just wanted to go look at Internet porn and download music, I WORK ON THE INTERNET. The Internet pays my rent. I'm useless without it. I'd already lost a day of Going Concern and had too much to do to lose another.

As tempted as I was to buy a replacement just to have a functional modem, I decided then and there that Best Buy would never see another penny of my money. I drove just up the way to Target, sunk $90 on a modem, brought it home, pulled it out, logged on and posted this. I look forward to returning the power-cord-less modem to the Best Buy in the Maryland burbs tomorrow and never putting another foot down in a Best Buy store ever again in my life.

Want to know why the economy sucks? Because companies like this exist. Anyone remember when customer service people were actually polite and helpful and hungry for your business? Not these days. I'll stick to the Internet for any future electronics purchases, Amazon never dares to treat me like a bitch who has nothing better to do but run around town for items that don't even work.

For supplemental reading, check out Why Best Buy is Going out of Business...Gradually [Forbes] h/t my fellow DCer @Klejdys for sending me that to make me feel better. Need more evidence? Google has plenty.

Die already, Best Buy. You deserve it.

TLP: eBay Auction For Obamamobile Fails, But Seller Still Has Hope

obamamobile
Timing is everything. Well, not everything, but in the case of the guy who tried to sell a car Barack Obama used to smoke in on his way to the Illinois statehouse, it might have mattered.

HuffPost:
An Illinois man who listed President Obama's old Chrysler 300C on eBay for $1 million came up short this week -- as his auction ended without a single bidder.

As The Huffington Post reported earlier this week, Tim O'Boyle, listed the 2005 sedan on eBay hoping to hit the jackpot when the auction ended Wednesday night.

Lisa Czibor, who was conducting the auction for O'Boyle, told the Chicago Tribune that the owner wants to relist the car in a few months -- when the presidential election nears.

"We're trying to talk him into rerunning it now and making some changes to (the listing)," Czibor told the paper. "Lowering the price, and contacting Obama to find out if there's a charity he'd like us to donate some of the profits to."
Good luck with that. Although, who knows, Obama has a way of making Chryslers sell. Of course, that took a lot more than $1 million to bring about. And now the bailed-out automaker is making profit-sharing payments to workers.

The Washington Post reports:
Factory workers at Chrysler will get profit-sharing checks of about $1,500 next month as they share in the automaker’s improbable turnaround.

About 26,000 union-represented workers in the U.S. should get the payments under Chrysler’s contract with the United Auto Workers union that was signed last fall.

Chrysler wouldn’t say how much the workers will get. The profit-sharing figure is based on an Associated Press analysis of company earnings, and the labor contract formula for profit-sharing.

The checks are based on Chrysler’s $2 billion operating profit for 2011, reported on Wednesday. Chrysler reported full-year net income of $183 million, its first since 1997.

The payments are another sign that Chrysler has recovered from its near-collapse in 2009, when it needed a $12.5 billion government bailout and a trip through bankruptcy protection to stay in business. Chrysler has since repaid its U.S. and Canadian government loans by refinancing them, but the U.S. government says it will lose about $1.3 billion on the bailout deal, which included Chrysler’s financial arm.
All the owner of Obama's old car has to do now is convince a bunch of Chrysler workers to chip in and bid for the thing. Shouldn't be hard: after all, it's got a hemi.

TLP: Rick Perry Seems To Have Some Free Time, Maybe He Can Help

obama donuts
What's that lame line about how to tell a conservative from a liberal? Something about conservatives are just liberals who've been mugged? Whatever, I'm too lazy to look it up.

I've got a new one, though. What do you call a Republican who talks about her unemployed husband's predicament to the Democratic president, who then tries to help the guy get a job? Bitch comes to mind. Maybe asshole.

AP via HuffPost:
President Barack Obama may help Jennifer Wedel's husband find a job. Whether he gets her vote is another question.

Two days after Obama talked with Wedel during an online town hall and offered to take a look at her unemployed husband's resume, Wedel says the president has followed through.

Wedel tells The Associated Press she got a call from a White House official who told her Obama made a point of making sure the matter was taken care of and that the resume was sent to contacts in the couple's Dallas-Fort Worth area.

Now Wedel's husband has been contacted by several recruiters, and Wedel says she's grateful.

But Wedel, a Republican, says that may not be enough to get her vote unless Obama also improves some of his job policies.
Some of his job policies? Sounds like Obama's got at least one fairly customized Wedel-specific job policy.

I'm going with asshole.