Saturday, July 25, 2009

Psst ... Wanna Blow Up A Hi-Rise Condo?

Well that's what OTI on our little island was supposed to look like, although construction stopped last year because it started leaning, and was never completed. In fact, I nicknamed it the "Leaning Tower of Spizza." Word on the street is that a demolition contractor is checking out the building to blow it up. So being resourceful, us islanders wanted to have a raffle to pick somebody to hit the switch. Yes ladies and gentlemen, YOU could reduce that building to rubble in a few seconds ... just imagine your proud kid doing the honors!

Technically we're not blowing it up, but "imploding" it down in a nice pile so nothing next to it gets toasted. Lots of technical stuff if you're into dynamite and kersplosions (link here).

Aye, us Texans love a good blast, except the dogs that is. We were depressed when we found out that the Texas Clipper, a ship to be sunk for a reef 17 miles off our jetties, wasn't blown up. It turns out they should have listened to us, because the way they did it the Clipper sank on her side. Blow the darn thing up, man, and give us some thrills too.

So, what do ya think? We all know that there'll be a dummy switch and the Master Blaster will really set off all the timed charges, but heh-heh, YOU could bring down a hundred million dollar condo all by yourself as we watch from the South Flats.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Ozone Holes and Global What?

About a week or so somebody released study findings that the new kind if air conditioning gas was horribly warming the planet. The majors such as the Washington Post finally stumbled on it, maybe on some RSS feed. Link here.

Back a decade or two we outlawed conventional Freon, a has used for all kinds of air conditioning like your house and car - and many more uses such as making foam plastic to being the propellant in asthma medicine. That Freon was eating a hole in the ozone layer. Remember the ozone hole?

The replacement has an ominous name, HCFC, whch was patented by the same company who made Freon (hint, hint), the ozone hole nearly went away, and all was a remarkable success. However, it turns out the HCFC or whatever its called is between 1000 and 4000 times more potent than carbon dioxide as far as potential global warming. It could end up cooking us to death.

How fitting. I'll read the paper but I guess that these new-fangled air conditioning chemicals can last for 1 to 5 decades in the air for extra-lasting effect. Supposedly it's not Earth-shattering news, but isn't it amazing how we solve one problem and then another turns up as a result?

And in Breaking News ...

I think I just passed some gas.

My bad.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Economics Sucks

from The Economist

I'm not saying that all economics is stupid is as stupid does, but let's face it, the people running the major corporations and many aspects our government mislead us, lied, and couldn't predict the recession. Back in my college days, us engineers, pre-law, pre-med, and liberal arts students couldn't figure out why anyone would want to get a major in economics, much less why anyone would be foolish enough to actually pay for an MBA. As it turns out, many of these little economic wonks ended running key aspects of our country - and that we were right all along.

Now don't get me wrong, I know many accountants, auditors, and business leaders who are not only super bright but also some of my favorite friends. I'm talking about the people who brought us the Savings and Loan Crisis, the Dot-Com Crisis, and the Idiot Crisis of 2007-2009, which isn't even over yet.

And then we have government officials like Bernanke, another economics major, who really thinks we can fix the economy and employ more American by using the "manure spreader" method of stimulating the economy. In order to save money we need to ... spend more, of course, and go into debt for at least a generation! That's a liberal view expoused by what we call "Keynesians." Others want more of a freebooter system, I mean less regulation and more global trade, even though global trade is off by some 30 percent. Then you have financial institutions that laugh all the way to the bank, such as Sachs having their best querter in a long time and a need to compensate their fund managers more than ever.

Now tell me if you can make any sense of this mess. I am sure that economic theory is mostly a work of wishful thinking and fantasy. Indeed, economic powerhouses hired those in Game Theory and Options Modellers, statisticians and computer engineers, to explain how even non-rational behavior is rational, and doing so we can reduce risk, make the economy better, and make a ton of money in the process. It resulted in the worst international economic failure in 80 years - and we caused it, all of us together.

But here on our little island off the coast of America, things don't seem so bad. People come here in droves, I guess to escape the mainland and the crappy recession as well. We don't talk much about economics here on the island except for the budget, which is mainly a game for old economics majors who have taken to drink.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Not Much to Report is Good

In these days when we all seem to need something extremely daring, provocative, embarrassing, nasty, political, and full of intrigue - or at least some passing fad - it's nice to say I have absolutely nothing to report other than we're happy and doing well. Gosh, what would Paul Harvey say?

Perhaps it is simply the summer, when the media is starved for attention and everyone is saying "Who cares?" Even Governor Palin's decision to quit her job in Alaska was ho-hum. I could bore you with details of how my contracting business got slow again this summer, something I've noticed increasingly over the last several years. There again, I've managed to make even or slightly more than the previous year when filing taxes, so maybe I'd better chill out. Knock on wood I won't be working at Dirty Al's next month for minum wage plus tips. I wonder when the other shoe is going to drop.

Traveling? Hell no, I used to travel everywhere when I was younger, and have a huge wedding deal to save up for in Austin for my son Eric. If I go anywhere else it will be to the Bahamas this December. I mean, traveling sucks! Anybody who likes traveling for the sake of traveling is sicko. To me, it's hard work and often grueling. If somebody puts me on a cruise ship with a thousand other people, I think I would commit suicide. Too bad driving into Mexico with my truck is too dangerous, though.

But it's a very mild hurricane season, things are going OK, we don't have the cold air like in the Northeast, and it's not too dang hot by the beach. The town politics is its usual BS, so I won't report it, other than to say everything seems delayed. Michael Jackson is STILL dead, and Obama as President hasn't resulted in instant communism. It's a good feeling, not much of anything to say. Isn't it amazing how much there is to say about nothing? Shakespeare noted this in his best comedy, Midsummer Night's Dream.

It shall be called ‘Bottom’s Dream’, because it hath no bottom.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Happy 4th of July

Have a wonderful and safe Fourth of July.

You know, in July of 1776 things weren't going so well for the Revolutionaries. After a triumph in Boston, Great Britain's ships began to filter into the port of New York and gradually take over most of the state, with over 30,000 trained troops. General Washington got his butt kicked over to New Jersey and Pennsylvania, having half the men and no training at all. We lost the 'Battle of Long Island,' which was really a little town called Brooklyn. Not good.

Two years later, in 1778, the Revolutionaries had real cause to celebrate, after whupping the British in several major skirmishes like Trenton and Saratoga; a treaty was convened, and July 4, 1778 is when we started really celebrating July Fourth. It was a very happy time.