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Saturday, March 05, 2011

What A Week

Among its other features, the Chief had to go to the ER. Medication interaction, it looks like. However he seems to be improving rapidly now, so I am greatly relieved.

The new cable modem is installed. I stare grimly at it; I had gotten set up with FIOS because getting fiber optic cable run was the only way I could even get reliable phone service, but this means there is only one source for the equipment. So I waited until the weekend so I could sit around for the burn-in to make sure the freakin' house doesn't burn down. Melted power supplies and smoking modems do not inspire confidence. The new power supply for the modem is quite hot. Also the bulldog has had enough. Tonight she alerted me because she smelled smoke; it took some time and a tour outside before I could convince her that the smoke was coming from a wood stove in a nearby house.

And oh, yeah, it's wood stove time.... I foresee much bulldog flatulence. I probably will just unplug the FIOS modem/router when I leave the house and when I go to sleep. This isn't generally a good strategy - most of the electronic wear and tear occurs during power down and power up cycles - but I will probably be more relaxed, which will help me to bear the increased methane production.

Because of being off the internet, I listened to more than the usual NPR. NPR has good world news coverage, so I do listen to it quite a bit. However the extra hours got me a lot of domestic coverage that I don't normally sit through; any time NPR has a show on energy policy, for example, I tend to get perturbed at the idiocy and whack the thing off.

This week's NPR domestic coverage centered on the phenomenon I can only call "Drums across the Potomac". At least half of it was about public unions, it seemed. And every time they covered a demonstration, they mentioned drum circles. So what is with this drum circles deal? Are all the teacher's unions working from the same carefully compiled Manual Of Ridiculous Labor Protests? What are people going to think when they go by and see a bunch of idiots solemnly whacking away on the drums? Why not just sit in a circle sucking your thumbs? By Friday I was darkly speculating that the labor movement in this country is a Dead Man Walking. Let's face it, one does not associate the word "Teamsters" with the word "Bongos".

And just a word about green energy, specifically wind. The UK has some of the best territory for off-shore wind in the world. Nonetheless, the UK's current strategy means that they won't have continuous power in a decade or two. Somebody is going to read this and think I'm talking out of my butt. If you are that person, my dear believer in magic electricity-producing mushroom molecules, read what the guy in charge of the UK grid has to say about it. Wind power and reliable power grids are fundamentally incompatible. Here it should be noted that India has the same problem - an unreliable power grid and constant outages. Because of that, all the middle class and up have their own (mostly diesel) generators. If you want to get off fossil fuels, you need a RELIABLE power grid. Just ask anyone who has lived in Hurricane Alley.

The February employment report was very good. I will wait to see the Treasury monthly report for February to figure out how good.

Information on TARP continues to roll in. I think this HousingWire article is a good summary. Overall it has been something of a success, except for one exceedingly troubling issue. We come out of this with more financial consolidation than ever, and a strong precedent for the "too big to fail" dogma and practice. Surely this means that in the future, banks and non-bank financials will be taking even more risks for profits, and will be even less attentive to possibilities of failure:
But Kaufman said TARP has far more "noxious cost."

"Moral hazard, that lingering belief that America’s biggest banks are 'too big to fail' – that the rules that apply to everyone else in America do not apply to them," Kaufman said. "This belief continues to distort our financial markets, advantaging the largest banks on Wall Street while disadvantaging every other bank in the country. The cost of moral hazard is not easily quantifiable, but it is real, and it is reprehensible."
I think this is a fair statement. I disagree with the implication in the article that Dodd-Frank will be sufficient to alleviate the risk. It won't. Only breaking up the huge institutions will alleviate the risk; there is no possible type of regulation except the fair of failure that will protect us against the lure of huge short-term profits.

Great Post! TARP was a sick move and I wonder where now, if ever, Americans will draw a line. I fear there is none so long as TV is on.
MoM, I've noticed that things like cable modems and FiOS routers tend to run hot. Ditto with their supplies.

If it's a middle-of-the-cord supply, you can try elevating it so that there is airflow all around it. That may pull the temperature down a bit. If it has smooth surfaces, you can buy stick-on heatsinks. If you're forced to buy from DigiKey, they'll be a little expensive, but if you can get them elsewhere you may get a better deal. If you don't mind heavyweight prices, you can get stuff meant for computer internals (memory, motherboard chipsets) from newegg, performance-pcs, and such.

My mother was scared by the rather moderate heating of her old analog cable box. It was concentrated near the power supply. I put a couple of stick-on heatsinks on the area and got it down to something she was comfortable with.

If the power supply in question has a plastic housing, the heatsinks may not help much, especially if it has a textured surface.
NJ Commuter - it is a plastic lightly textured surface, and the housing is at the prong end.

Thanks for those tips; they are useful, although I question whether they will redeem this magnificent piece of engineering.

This is a Verizon FIOS modem/router.

After tinkering with it, I moved it to just a strip where the end of the housing can hang over the strip. The bottom is smoother, and maybe a heat sink there would help. I'll see how it goes today.

The heat is concentrated near the prongs, on one side, pretty much where the old one melted. It melted from the inside out.
Drum circles are an indicator that they've called in the semi-pro demonstrators. When you see that, it's not actually union members doing the protesting, it's the local New Age crowd. They show up mostly for a chance to engage in their rituals, at the behest of the local left-wing organizations.

I know a number of these folks.
Do tell, Neil. Rolling eyes? Tie-dyed protest uniforms?
Rolling eyes, indeed. I'm a little too full of myself to keep my mouth shut, so they just avoid politics and economics when I'm around.
The Leftist belief "that America’s biggest banks are 'too big to fail' – that the rules that apply to everyone else in America do not apply to them" is explained over at House of Eratosthenes:


Specifically, the author says "leftist politics do not, and can not, unify people"; he explains that the Left's agenda "can be summed up with the statement “Group X should have Right Y” ... (and also) anyone outside of Group X should be deprived of Right Y". Further, "they spend a lot of time and energy saying certain people don’t count in some way." In short, he says, "Everyone inside some perimeter is to receive some entitlement — and anybody outside of it, doesn’t count ..."

The Left in a nutshell: You don't matter unless WE SAY you matter; nothing's important until WE SAY it's important; and we demand that you submit to our judgment. (Submit? -- yes; how very Islamic of them!)
Does anyone think that someday "TBTF" will clash with "anti-trust"?
Like Neil, I know a lot of the drum beaters. They are indeed mostly new-agey folks. Most of them are good people, and they make good neighbors. Many live their lives in a conservative manner.

But when it turns to politics, oh, boy. I'm not sure if the drumming destroys critical thinking, or the lack of critical thinking skills also encourages drumming. But logic and sense are pretty much absent.

I once listened to a guy describe proudly how he scavenged some glass jars out of the trash so he could recycle them. I asked why, pointing out that recycling glass costs more energy than making new glass. "But the resources!" was his reply. I gently pointed out that glass was made from sand. It didn't help.

There are so many layers of belief in that mindset that peeling back one just brings another to the fore.
Charles - when the powers that prosecute (TPTP) are political appointees of TPTB who "believe" as per Gordon's last post, I don't think so.

If you look at what we are actually DOING it is quite similar to the activities in Argentina prior to the GD. But what people, including our president, BELIEVE we are doing is something else.

We have a cognitive problem. We all believe so much that we just can't evaluate facts any more. After years of reading howlings about religion, my conclusion is that sincerely religious people often get that out of the way in church or temple or whatever, whereas those that don't can wind up making public policy into a type of religion.

I understand why people who don't believe can snort about prayer wheels and divine "cookies", but as far as I'm concerned salvation through windmills and recycling is a whole lot more expensive.

We would all squall, and rightly so, if public funds were spent on cathedrals or convents or Buddha statues, but I cannot see how ethanol, windmills, and solar power projects in Massachusetts are any less a manifestation of faith. The facts certainly do not support it.
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