Monday, September 30, 2013

The Government Shutdown Kabuki

At least three times today at work, I heard references to the current DC kabuki theater.  Every opinion was "shut 'er down!".  In a building full of engineers, where instead of the roughly 50/50 makeup of the country it's closer to 75% sane, that didn't surprise me.

What surprised me was a couple of details I heard from DC reporter Jamie Dupree during the drive home.  First some background.

Of course, you know we haven't passed an actual budget since '09?  The last actual Federal Budget was in April of '09.  (article from 2012 talking about it, and more in the Dupree article linked).

According to Dupree, the last time budgets were passed on time, that is, according to the constitution and law, was in the mid 1990s. You will note that neatly covers both parties as the majority; no one has the monopoly on irresponsibility.
Congress has not finished its budget work by October 1 (the start of the new fiscal year) since 1996; lawmakers haven't finished their work on time on the 12 individual spending bills that make up the budget since 1994.
Late or improper budgets go way back, though.  What he said that got me is this:
As we count down to midnight Monday night and a possible government shutdown, remember that we are fighting over how to fund the government for only a few months.  Not for a full fiscal year, but just until mid-October under a funding plan from Democrats and to mid-November from the GOP.  
This whole charade, this whole drama-llama, attention-grabbing, media whore-fest, is for either two weeks or six!  Of the 17 or so previous government shutdowns, all but one were over in less than two weeks.  And don't forget, in about two weeks, the "debt ceiling" impasse will happen, with dire warnings over the end of the world, if we don't give the Evil party every penny they want.  Remember, Comrade Peloski said there isn't a single dollar left to cut in the federal budget! 
And, really, Pelosi’s comments make perfect sense. It’s only logical that government spends a million dollars to study the “sexual attractiveness” of fruit flies. It’s only prudent that government pay out $2 billion to farmers for not farming land. And, of course, it is only logical that the government shell out $500 million on a program that would, among other things, try to figure out why five-year-olds “can’t sit still” in a kindergarten classroom.
That doesn't even scratch the surface.  There's $3.4 million for turtle tunnels under roads.  There's the entire budget of the Department of Education.  There's $10 million for algae energy programs.  I'm stealing this from Kevin, but I know he got it from someone else. 

As others have said many, many times:  rope, trees, some assembly required...

And as for the shutdown... let 'er rip.  Shut it down.  I don't see anything to lose.  You have to know that, just like two insurance companies going to a costly courtroom trial, they wouldn't be here if both sides didn't think they had the winning hand politically.  It's like 535 stubborn kids.  Let 'em fight. 

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Why Is It?

Why is it that long weekends still seem too short?

For the last month, since my trip to Canada, I've "had" to take vacation days to run my accrued vacation down to the maximum I'm allowed to keep.  I've had every Friday off in the month of September.  This week, I finished the top section of Mrs. Graybeard's fishing rod and applied the first coat of epoxy.  It's essentially impossible to get a photograph in here that captures it, but you can see the color scheme she picked. 
This took quite a surprising amount out of both Friday and yesterday, mostly because my Anal Retentive side wouldn't accept some of the ugly I laid down Friday.  I made myself rebuild it before applying the epoxy.  The epoxy, by the way, will run right off the rod unless you spin the rod while the epoxy sets, and I have an ancient barbecue rotisserie motor for that.  It's the only way to get a relatively smooth finish from it.

What's left to do is the decorative part of the wrap on the bottom section and then finish the whole project.  More than half way there.

In addition, my radio club had an event we were going to help out in, and I was out there for a few hours today.  It's amazing that long weekends start to feel too short after you have a few.  Now it's back to five day weeks. I know: want some cheese with this whine?

Saturday, September 28, 2013

VISA Doesn't Want the Gun Business?

According to as story that has started making the rounds, seen on the Daily Sheeple, Authorize.Net, part of VISA corporation, has dropped the gun business.   After being OK with Larry Hyatt's gun shop for four years, they suddenly decided to terminate the business. 
Dear Hyatt Gun Shop Inc,

Authorize.Net LLC (“Authorize.Net”) has determined that the nature of your business constitutes a violation of Section 2.xiv of the Authorize.Net Acceptable Use Guidelines and Sections 3.3 and 11.3 of the Authorize.Net Service Agreement (the “Agreement”).

These sections include, but are not limited to, the sale of firearms or any similar product.

Accordingly, pursuant to Section 4 of the Acceptable Use Guidelines, your ability to access and use the Authorize.NetServices will be terminated on September 30, 2013.
Go read the whole thing.  The Daily Sheeple points out similar things that have happened recently.  It's a safe bet that the politicians that want to destroy the second amendment put pressure on the banks.  No, they have no honor whatsoever. 

Personally - I say F*** 'em.  According to the "1 Minute MBA" video that was going around a few weeks ago, like here on Every Blade of Grass, the gun business in the US is $31.8B per year.  Every credit card transaction gets 3% of the cost, IIRC.  They think they can crush us?  We'll crush them. 
Think of how much damage it would cause VISA if the millions of gun owners simply stopped using credit or debit cards entirely.  For everything, not just buying guns or ammo.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Yet Another Project?

Given my tendency to like to build everything, Mrs. Graybeard was asking me why I haven't done like this guy and built one of those guitar kits you find around.  He bought his kit from these guys, and it's rather nice looking once built.  Right now, it would be a struggle to figure out where I could put something the size of a guitar so I could work on it.  While building a guitar from flat pieces of wood - like real luthiers do - is serious woodworking, this is largely a finishing job meaning you mostly need a clean environment to work.  Since I assumed it was all about lacquer or polyurethane, that means as little cat hair as possible.  (We swear we'll find cat hair inside eggs when we break them for the first time)    But that video sequence and others I've seen use gun stock finishing oil, and the end results look really nice.

Probably not.  I have a nice looking guitar now, and don't see much use for a duplicate of what I own, despite the attraction of building one.  Besides, I still haven't finished the fishing rods.  Either I've gotten way less dextrous in the last 30 years, the materials have changed, or... something... I don't know, but I'm having a heck of a time trying to make it all look good. 

But being a techno-geek, these things are cool.  They're mini-motors that tune your guitar to any alternate tuning you might want.  There are several built in tunings, and room to add some of your own.  Gibson is building these onto some of their guitars, started last year, and it's a neat addition if you're a techie.
I need to retire so I can play with these things.  But if I retire, I can't have these things.

You Really Ought to Go Home - Bill Whittle

Bill Whittle brings his trademark clarity of thought and expression to this incident barely reported on in the media, in which an F-22 pilot did his best impression of the scene from "Top Gun" where Tom Cruise flies upside down over a MIG, and freaks out the Russian pilot.

The Chinese stealth fighters Bill mentions look suspiciously like they copied the F-22.  Given the extent of their espionage in our country, that's not impossible.  Heck, given how our administration is arming Al Qaeda, and sending arms to the Mexican drug cartels, it's not completely out of the question that someone slipped them the plans.  The Chicoms are making a determined effort to break into our avionics companies, and the electronics is the real advantage of these fighters.  The Russians appear to have the head start, but neither should be scoffed at. 

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Only Slightly Suspicious

From The Blaze we learn of some market shenanigans accompanying the Fed's announcement that they would not start cutting back bond purchases.
The Fed made the announcement at precisely 2:00 p.m. EST, “as measured by the national atomic clock.”

However, just seven milliseconds after the Fed made its announcement, the Chicago exchanges went crazy with huge orders. Seven milliseconds.
While the Fed is far more open than it was in the old days under Paul Volker, they keep these details secret until they're openly released to the press.  Since the market will move a thousand bucks on whether Ben Bernanke looks like he had a good bowel movement, this is very important information.  Reporters were indeed briefed, but kept under embargo until the deadline, and they won't openly defy the embargo because they don't want to get busted out of having that place with the insiders.   But seven milliseconds?  

CNBC quotes Eric Hunsader, founder of the market analysis firm Nanex, who specializes in looking at "high frequency traders".  Hunsader says:
...he saw simultaneous reactions to the Fed's announcement last week in trading in New York and Chicago. That would be theoretically impossible if the information was released from the Fed's headquarters in Washington. In theory, the trading reaction should have begun in New York several milliseconds before it began in Chicago, because information takes several more milliseconds to travel the longer distance.

"The very first thought I had when I looked at this closely was this is a low latency service," Hunsader said. "We have just very recently looked closely at some of these low latency releases and seen that they are indeed at the same exact millisecond. We have immediate history behind it."
Mother Jones points out that the distance from Chicago to DC is at least 9 milliseconds at the speed of data on a fiber optic cable so it's not that the Fed released the information and it propagated to Chicago.  When you think about the inherent human differences, simultaneous trades can't possibly happen on the same millisecond.  If two people sit beside each other and count down with the same clock agreeing to hit "ENTER" to execute a trade at the same time, they probably couldn't make the same millisecond.  This can only mean all these organizations had the information ready in their computers programmed to execute at the exact same time.

(Eric Allie)

The Fed is looking into this.  Will anything happen?   If it suits them.  Will anything happen about the high frequency trading?  I don't think so, but this seems to lean toward making it more likely.  A lot of people are alarmed about this trading trend, but I haven't really been alarmed by it; a little concerned but not really alarmed. I might have to reconsider that a bit. 

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Techy Tuesday: Pollution is a Resource In The Wrong Place

A high school or junior college science teacher once laid that thought on me.  It was in the days when phosphates were first taken out of laundry detergents and the discussion was about how every fertilizer carried a label that details how much phosphate they provide.  It stuck with me because it's a good way of thinking.

The thought is strong with the folks at NASA trying to figure out living in space on long duration missions.  One of the fundamental things in the environment we need to shield astronauts from is high energy cosmic rays.
Radiation effects on the human body can’t be sufficiently attenuated by something astronauts might wear.  We know that the only thing that’s going to protect astronauts is more structural mass between them and the radiation environment of space. The problem is that it costs money to launch mass.  We spend millions of engineering hours eliminating mass.
Another fundamental problem we have is we have to feed them.  While research into closed ecosystems for growing food in space is ongoing, we still basically send up food by rocket. And there's that other problem with food.  What do with it once it has been used...
Possible solution: astronauts spend a certain amount of time every day eliminating mass in a different sense—as fecal matter.  What about using fecal matter to build up mass on the walls of the space station?  Turns out, that’s the plan.  Now, if the class will stop snickering, I’ll tell you about it.
HTI Water Technology has pioneered a technology called "forward osmosis" that is not only useful here, it may be useful for all of us everywhere.
This is a somewhat mature technology, in that it has been successfully commercialized. HTI originally developed forward osmosis for “cold” concentration of food and beverage products, beginning with projects at Oregon State University and The University of California at Davis. In fact, you can buy products today.  Typically, these take the form of plastic sacks.  At Ames, Michael Flynn, the lead of NASA’s Water Technology Development Laboratory, told the Littelfuse Speed2Design group that Forward Osmosis “Hydro Packs” are deployed at disasters like Haiti’s 2010 earthquake and distributed to U.S. troops in the field.

As Flynn described it, using a Hydro Pack is so simple it doesn’t require written instructions. You just scatter them on the ground where there may be suspect water and they will start to work.  The next day, you stick a straw in the clean side and drink slightly salty water.
Read that last paragraph again.  Scatter these little plastic-looking bags on the ground where you suspect dirty water will be, and by the next day water will migrate into the bag, and during the migration the bags will purify it enough for you to drink. And then go read the whole thing on how they might protect the space station and other craft from radiation  by covering them in bags of feces after the water has been removed.
Kinda ruins that image of the gleaming spaceships in Star Trek and all those movies, dudnit?  

Monday, September 23, 2013

Question the School Board, Go To Jail

Last Thursday night, in a Towson, MD. school board meeting, Robert Small was forcibly evicted from the meeting by plainclothes security and then arrested for trying to ask questions about the adoption of the "Common Core" educational curriculum.
The officer pushed Small and then escorted him into the hall, handcuffed him and had him sit on the curb in front of the school. He was taken to the Towson precinct and detained. Small was charged with second-degree assault of a police officer, which carries a fine of $2,500 and up to 10 years in prison, and disturbing a school operation, which carries a fine of $2,500 and up to six months. [emphasis added - SiG]
"Second degree assault of a police officer"?  That's police talk for not going limp, saying, "anything you command, your worshipfulness" and doing exactly what they want before they command you.  No one in the room noticed Small do anything remotely like striking the officer, or resisting him.
"Look, I am being manhandled and shut down because I asked inconvenient questions," Small said. "Why won't they allow an open forum where there can be a debate? We are told to sit there and be lectured to about how great common core is."
A few weeks ago, video surfaced of a Common Core defender saying if a student was asked "What's 4 times 3" and answered "11", that was still just peachy, as long as "...they were able to explain their reasoning and explain how they came up with their answer really in words and in oral explanation and they showed it in the picture but they just got the final number wrong..."  While I'll be the first to admit I benefited from partial credit in college math (all of it), I think basic multiplication is still useful for students, especially if they're going to take more math.  Given stories like this, it's natural for a dad concerned about his kids' education to question Common Core. 

Today, the state prosecutor said that the charges against Small were all being dropped.
In a statement emailed to WBAL Radio, State's Attorney Scott Shellenberger said that," it was clear that Mr. Small violated the rules of the meeting and disrupted the meeting. It was also clear that the Officer acted appropriately and did have probable cause to make an arrest on both charges.

The Baltimore County State’s Attorney’s Office has just received and reviewed the facts of this case. In the interest of justice, further prosecution will not accomplish anything more. Therefore, the charges have been dismissed."
I've read some about Common Core and while I'm against it based on what I know about it - and the fact that the Department of Education is one of the easiest heads of the Federal Hydra to justify lopping off - I don't have enough time tonight to write about it tonight.  My concern here is the police state tactics used against someone questioning policy and trying to ensure the best for his kids.  It has the unmistakeable stench of our philosopher kings nudging us to do as they say because we're too stupid to decide for ourselves.  As Beck says, far too often in the history of creating socialist "paradises", the progression is nudge... then shove... then shoot.  
(source - good little article on the subject)

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Can't Be. It Would Have Starved to Death

Obama had a brain-eating amoeba?  Can't be.  Looks too fat and healthy.  Sucker would have starved to death.
(Ken Catalino)

Friday, September 20, 2013

Actual Conversation

Between me and Mrs. Graybeard:
Me (looking at eBay):  Look at these plastic little flounders, lures or teasers or something..
Mrs.G:  Are those googly eyes that roll around? I could make earrings out of them.
Me:  No, they just look like stickers.  Looks like they don't move.
Mrs.G: If those migrated during the day like a flounders eye, I would so get those.
Me: You could get some french wires and just thread it on like you were hooking a live bait...
Mrs.G: I bet there's a YouTube video that shows a baby flounder's eye migrating as it grows. (pause) And here it is...

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Don't Be Part of the 73%

According to news that broke yesterday, only 27% of the people know what the Federal Reserve's QE program is.  Barely over a quarter of the people understand the single biggest economic story of the decade, the one that will bring misery into their lives as sure as the tides change. 

I know my regular readers are in that 27%, so for the rest of you, QE - quantitative easing - is the creation of money out of thin air.  It increases "liquidity", the total amount of money in circulation, thus allowing banks and the to buy things they ordinarily wouldn't have money for.  In the current version, QE3 or QE4 or QE to infinity and beyond!, the money buys US bonds financing the deficit spending.  We currently buy about 90% of our bonds.  Notice that 90% figure means that the vast majority of our debt isn't being bought by China or Japan or the EU or the Saudis.  We're buying our own bonds - loaning money to ourselves.  The Chinese in particular have been getting rid of US denominated assets as quickly as they can, without panicking the world.  (Note to other anal retentives: substitute the word "currency" for every instance of "money" in that paragraph.  Dollar bills are not "money" in the strict sense; they are currency.  Gold is money.  Silver is money.  Ammo could be money.  Oil could be money.  Paper could not).

Since QE3 started in 2012, the Fed has created $85 Billion per month - over $1 Trillion so far.

If the First Law of Economics is "TANSTAAFL - there ain't no such thing as a free lunch" (as Heinlein put it) we should conclude there must be a cost to QE.  The cost is that it creates vast amounts of currency in circulation, which tends to raise the prices of everything.  That is, QE causes inflation.  It's not that they don't know they're causing inflation, that's one reason why they're doing QE.  They're deathly afraid of deflation because that hurts banks so they're striving to create inflation in the limited (fake) way they measure it.  Inflation hurts individuals, especially savers like retirees and others living off savings.  It encourages the use of credit, inflationary in itself.  QE causes the cost of living to go up, as Ronnie Dunn sings

(Estimate of money in circulation - note the long gentle upslope until the 2008 recession)

QE is the reason the prices on the stock markets are being bid up as well as the prices for oil, gas, food and all the essentials of life are being bid up.  It's responsible for the claimed economic growth, and virtually everything the government claims that's going well. 

If you have time to kill, just click on the "Economics" tag just below this post and you'll get page after page of everything I've written with that tag.  Or go to the search bar at top left and enter QE3 or QE. 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Wall Street Doesn't Believe There Will Be Gun Control Legislation

It went by unnoticed by most of us.  The DC shooting happened and stocks did not go down.  While I don't like the tone of the article, the WSJ has the story:
Once upon a time, news of a killing spree would have sent the stocks of major gun manufacturers into a tailspin, as investors fretted that an outraged public would at last demand new gun-control laws.

As recently as last December, in the wake of the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School, in Connecticut, shares in gun makers Sturm, Ruger & Co. RGR and Smith & Wesson Holding Co. SWHC both crashed.
(This time) The stocks barely wobbled. By the following morning they were actually higher than they had been before the killings. By Tuesday night Sturm, Ruger had hit a new, all-time high.
I laughed the other day when a financial TV news dood was saying the market is so logical; I've always thought the market runs on pure emotion.  They think they're being logical, but just watch reactions to anything.  People are betting real money on their stocks and nobody likes to lose money.  If they thought there was credible threat gun sales would be affected negatively, they'd be dumping those stocks.  Instead, they're bidding them up.  I assume because every time there has been a mass shooting and the gun grabbers start to dance in the blood, people go out and buy something.


Cartoon of the Day So Far

Glen McCoy

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Techy Tuesday 2 - Making Bridges Earthquake Resistant

Like much of America, I heard of the Loma Prieta earthquake on October 17, 1989, when the news bulletins hit that the World Series had been interrupted by a strong quake.  An image that will never quite leave my mind is the collapsed dual-deck highway, I-880, the Cypress Viaduct. Thinking of what the people trapped between those spans went through as they died has always made my blood run cold.

But I'm an engineer and while friends say we "think different", we are always about fixing things and making them better.  My homies in the world of Civil Engineering haven't been idle about quake damage and have been researching how to build bridges that can survive really big quakes.  We read in a Design News update that current research is into nitinol, the nickle-titanium alloy used in lightweight, flexible eyeglass frames.  DN links to original work by Cal Tech undergrad Misha Raffiee published at the National Science Foundation
A large majority of bridges are made of steel and concrete. While this combination is convenient and economical, steel-concrete bridges don't hold up as well in strong earthquakes (7.0 magnitude or higher). Conventional reinforced columns rely on the steel and concrete to dissipate energy during strong earthquakes, potentially creating permanent deformation and damage in the column and making the column unusable.
The idea is to replace the steel reinforcing bar ("rebar" in common terms) with superelastic Nitinol.  Nitinol is a member of a family of "shape memory alloys"
While the majority of SMAs are only temperature-sensitive, meaning that they require a heat source to return to their original shape, Nitinol is also superelastic. This means that it can absorb the stress imposed by an earthquake and return to its original shape, which makes nitinol a particularly advantageous alternative to steel. In fact, the superelasticity of nickel titanium is between 10 to 30 times the elasticity of normal metals like steel. 
The new designs were modeled with earthquake simulation software developed at the Peoples' Republic of Berkley, and prototype scale models of bridge structures built.  There's a video on another page at the NSF of them testing a prototype to magnitude 8 earthquake levels.  The models and experiment are in agreement, a sure sign they're progressing well.  

They estimate the safer bridge will cost 3% more, but I find that hard to believe.  Civil projects always seem to come in over budget (as well as late) but maybe they mean the materials cost 3% more.  Materials are probably a small portion of the expense in building it.  

Progress is a good thing.  Not getting people crushed in another bridge like the I-880 is a great thing. 

Monday, September 16, 2013

ZoNATION and the Black NRA

I suppose it's not news to most that some douche bag comedian named Sara Silverman did a "Funny or Die" video last week talking about a black NRA.  I guess I don't really understand the point, it's as if the message is everyone knows they should be afraid of the idea of young black men with guns.  It displays epic ignorance of virtually everything: the modern NRA, the history of the NRA, the history of civil rights, the history of the civil war reconstruction...  Epic ignorance of basically everything.

Colion Noir, NRA commentator, had a great response, but I think Alfonzo Rachel's response is better yet.


Sunday, September 15, 2013

Trade Magazine Creep-Out

I got this magazine as a supplement along with one I subscribe to the other day.  Instant creep out. 

I know that UAVs are becoming a larger a part of the military aerospace market, but that's a downright creepy image.  You'd have to be pretty tone deaf to the public outrage about the use of drones on the homeland to publish that.  It's sufficiently science fiction-y that you can convince yourself it's not your own little Metropolis with that large orb on the middle right (is that another planet, or the Death Star?).  As you look at that illustration, it definitely doesn't look like any place on our planet; the large cratered moon on the upper left, the illuminated planet at mid-right and yet another orb at top right.  The buildings remind me of the architecture on Coruscant; the capital planet of the empire in the Star Wars universe. If that's the future, it's a pretty awful place. 

For the record, I don't work in this stuff; I work in civil aviation.  Originally communications radios, like those used for air traffic management, then collision avoidance systems, and lately in weather radar.  Magazines like this one are freebies for subscribers, paid for by the ads they carry.  While everyone who gets Microwave Journal doesn't work in military electronics, it helps their circulation numbers to send us these.

Al Qaeda Reads Too Much Paul Klugman

I assume you saw the headline that Al Qaeda wants more lone wolf attacks to bleed the US economically
In an audio speech released online a day after the 12th anniversary of the 9/11 strikes, Zawahri said attacks "by one brother or a few of the brothers" would weaken the U.S. economy by triggering big spending on security, SITE reported.
I think he's reading too much Klugman and that "green shoots" bull crap if he thinks he needs to do anything to bleed us.  We're doing a good enough job of it ourselves.  We're bleeding ourselves out faster than the clients calling the suicide hotline. 

And for the occasional passerby who'll read this and say it's the war spending that's doing it, we could zero out military spending except veterans' benefits we've promised, send everyone on active duty home, dock every ship, ground every plane, park every tank, and open us to any attack imaginable, and still run a deficit.  We're still bleeding ourselves to death.  (sources: these overall revenue figures and these spending figures and my favorite, the Debt Clock)
With an estimated deficit currently running about $800 billion for the year, you can see zeroing out the entire blue section still leaves you with about a $150 billion deficit.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Sensing Goes Silent

Donald Sensing at Sense of Events has chosen to go dark for an indeterminate period.  Donald has a rather unique background, as both retired artillery officer and ordained minister; a combination which yielded some interesting perspectives. 

With a hope you see this, sir, I sincerely wish the best of luck to you.  And for everyone else, allow me to post something I purloined from your site:

Surprise of the Day

Those of us over a certain age will remember Joni Mitchell, certainly one of the brightest stars in the music scene in the late 60s and early 70s.  I think of Joni as part of the anti-war counter culture and the late 60s/early 70s hippies.  So I was stunned to watch this interview.  H/T to a link on SurvivalBlog, Joni, now just about 70, sat down with Charlie Rose for an interview recently which made it to YouTube:

I'm starting this clip at what I consider the most important part of this interview, where she starts by talking about the crop of cultural destruction those like her have sown and the harvest of world collapse we are about to reap.  She talks about what a tremendous moral error it was to make vice chic, and how the world is not only paying for it now, but will pay even more heavily in the near future.  Joni's fans might find the whole thing interesting. 

The last verse of her famous song "Woodstock" goes:
We are stardust
Billion year old carbon
We are golden
Caught in the devil's bargain
And we've got to get ourselves
back to the garden
 -  "Woodstock" by Joni Mitchell, 1969
Maybe we should rewrite that verse a little longer to:
We are stardust
We are golden
Our only chance to survive
is growing our own food
so we've got to get ourselves
back to the garden.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Two Wrongs...

We all know the saying kids are taught that "two wrongs don't make a right".

Babalu reports today that Poland has banned using the image of Che Guevara, along with any image that is identified with a fascist or communist system. 
Poland's equality minister, Elzbieta Radziszewska, wants to expand a Polish law prohibiting the production of fascist and totalitarian propaganda so that it includes clothing and anything else that could carry an image related to an authoritarian system.
The proposal, which could see the faces of some of the leading lights of communist history such as Lenin and Trotsky removed from t-shirts and flags, reflects a Polish view on communism far different from the rose-tinted and romantic images often found in the West.
While I detest that murdering pig (Che) as much as anyone, and while I know the Polish people have had a closer experience with fascism and totalitarianism than any nation should have, fighting fascism with fascism doesn't seem like the right answer.  I prefer ridicule, and there's no better place than The People's Cube
Remember: don't miss Che Mart!  

Thursday, September 12, 2013

None Some Dare Call It Treason

I know I've said this before, but not a week goes by that I don't see or hear things that I never thought would happen in my country. 

I think the President's actions meet the legal definition of treason.  The Constitution defines treason carefully.  Article 3 section 3 says:
Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court. [Emphasis added: SiG]
In particular, in supplying arms to the rebels we are supporting in Syria - just like the ones we armed in Libya - we are providing aid and comfort to our enemies.  The Muslim Brotherhood is our enemy.  Al Qaeda is our enemy.  
"...yet last night the President of the United States asked this country to back military action where our coalition would be made up of the Muslim Brotherhood and Al Qaeda,” Glenn said...[Note: Glenn Beck from 9/11/13 radio broadcast]
The president himself said,
Why should we get involved at all in a place that's so complicated, and where -- as one person wrote to me -- "those who come after Assad may be enemies of human rights?" It's true that some of Assad's opponents are extremists.
They're extremists?  Like the ones who cut out an opponents heart out and eat it on camera?   Extremists like the ones who raped and murdered ambassador Chris Stevens?  (Yeah, there are photos online for those who aren't squeamish)  Extremists like the ones who are burning down churches, massacring Christians, and who dismembered a little girl with a saw while she was still alive - oh, and recorded it on video to impress each other?  Yeah, I think you can call them that. 

That part of the Constitution quoted above is also pretty clear that a charge of treason has to have two witnesses.  Since the president has been very clear about all of his support for these rebels, as well has having Muslim Brotherhood in the White House many times, there are millions of witnesses. 

IANAL, but case closed. 

Beck closed that radio piece on the president's treasonous behavior with this:
“Healthcare is one thing,” Glenn concluded. “But siding on the side of Al Qaeda — and being asked to do it on the eve of September 11th — is a whole different ball game,” he concluded.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Time for the Five Minute Colorado Gloat

The recalls in Colorado were a success, and the gun control nuts are all butt-hurt.

That makes me smile and feel all warm inside.

They keep lying about the nature of the recall, lying about who started the process by claiming the NRA started it, and lying about the funding by saying grass roots activists put up anywhere near what Bloomberg put up.  Dave Workman, the Seattle Gun Rights Examiner, says
That statement is a lie and they know it. The NRA didn’t start the recall effort, but certainly jumped in with financial support and no doubt helped energize gun owners to vote. The Moms group doesn’t say a word about the $350,000 reportedly spent by Bloomberg to oppose the recall. By some estimates, anti-gunners out-spent recall proponents about 7 to 1. [emphasis added - SiG]
As Miquel says:
Astroturf hates Grassroots. It represents all they want to be but can’t. They are genetically Modified Political Organisms in Ultra-Lib parlance….which would make Michael Bloomberg the Monsanto of Politicians.
Such epic levels of butt-hurt....  That awful little fascist prick Bloomberg throwing away money, it does my heart good.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

LIfe Is What Happens...

while you're busy making other plans - John Lennon.

Techy Tuesday will be delayed; we had a funeral this evening.  Our friend's birthday was today; she passed away on the 4th. 

Background story for the curious. 

Cancer really sucks. 

Monday, September 9, 2013

Is This the Reason for the Noise About Syria?

Maybe it's just me, but this really seems like it has the fingerprints of Samantha Power  all over it. Ms. Power, of course is our virulently anti-Israel UN ambassador and is married to Cass Sunstein.  Sunstein, of course, is the former regulatory czar for the administration and now on the committee tasked with determining whether or not the NSA is violating American civil rights. 

Why do I think it's her doing?  Ignoring the presidential politics for a minute (and everything this president does is weighed for domestic politics), Ms. Power is famous for being involved in the "Responsibility to Protect" project.  It seems to me she was deeply affected by the Rwandan genocide, as evidenced by her book "A Problem from Hell", and while I can't say I know she was a founder of ICRtoP, she is mentioned there many times.  The ICRtoP organization was at least partly founded by George Soros, and Power worked for Soros at one time. 

While I understand that watching a genocide would be horrible, does a nation stay perpetually at war to stop another one?  At what cost to that nation?  While this is admittedly arm chair psychology of the worst kind, I think that her inability to convince the President to get involved in Syria earlier - for the first 100,000 civilian deaths - increased her desperation to get into it now.

Looking around tonight, I see I'm not the only one on this trail.  Aaron Klein at WND wrote a piece on her involvement six days ago.  
The diplomats say that last week, Power recommended Obama strike in Syria without first consulting Congress, a move from which the president clearly seems to have backed away.
It's a role similar to the one she had in the (first) Libyan fiasco: urging the US get involved to provide air cover for Islamist rebels.  Back in 2011, when I was first writing about her and R2P, I found this gem:
Responsibility to Protect has the potential to, or if I may, is intended to, eliminate national sovereignty. 

We can no longer hide behind state sovereignty.
Klein offers quotes from an article by Soros that gave the philosophical basis to R2P.  According to Klein, Soros starts with the surprisingly reasonable idea (for him), that:
In the article, Soros wrote: “True sovereignty belongs to the people, who in turn delegate it to their governments.”
From there he goes directly to intervention:
Soros said that if governments “abuse the authority entrusted to them and citizens have no opportunity to correct such abuses, outside interference is justified.”

“By specifying that sovereignty is based on the people, the international community can penetrate nation-states’ borders to protect the rights of citizens,” he wrote.
In other words, if a government abuses its people, the "international community" can use its military to "...penetrate nation-states’ borders to protect the rights of citizens.”  With the strongest military in the world that means the US will be sent to do these things. 

Sunday, September 8, 2013

About That Secure "https"? Yeah... Not So Much

The story broke this weekend that the NSA forced providers to allow backdoor entry into the web based encryption that most online banking and shopping uses, allowing essentially total surveillance of the web.  In case you doubted, they can monitor every bank transaction, every purchase you make, if at any time the transaction goes over the internet.  Apparently, if you walked up to the counter in a store and bought on a credit card, they got the transaction. (I've always assumed this to be the case)  H/T to Denninger, among many, who also has some good comments.  Microsoft, it seems, allowed access to anything it encrypts back to Windoze 95 (I wonder if the monopoly charges and pressure on MS in that time period had anything to do with this?):

How did they get caught?  Someone built one of the service packs without stripping the symbols from the code, and right there where everyone could see it was "_NSAKEY."

Now Microsoft denied that this was in fact what the key was, but what they didn't do was release the source code in question to prove it.  No, they simply "asserted" that one should trust them because, well, they're Microsoft.
Wirecutter follows up with a link to techdirt saying the NSA and GCHQ Admit The Public is the Enemy.  Internal documents, referenced by the Guardian (UK) show the NSA refers to the public as "adversaries". 
Among other things, the program is designed to "insert vulnerabilities into commercial encryption systems". These would be known to the NSA, but to no one else, including ordinary customers, who are tellingly referred to in the document as "adversaries".
That's your government referring to you. Apparently not without some sense of humor, among the code names the NSA used internally for these programs were Manassas and Bull Run, a major battle in the (first?) civil war.  The UK GCHQ used the name Edgehill, the first major engagement of the English civil war, more than 200 years earlier. 
Now you can sweet talk and substitute words like some mealy-mouthed lawyer or government spokesman as long as you'd like.  You can say, as one commenter did, that it's simply NSA-speak that any code they attempt to break is from an adversary, and they don't mean you and I specifically.  This is in the tradition of "it wasn't rape rape": they don't mean adversary adversary.  Except that they do.  The whole program is based on violation of the 4th amendment, monitoring everyone as if they were a suspect in a terrorism case.  

It seems there's only one answer, tear down the agency.  I'm partial to the argument that we need an agency that performs the NSA's original mission - to monitor and, yes, spy beyond the water's edge.  Foreign only.  So we need a massive cancer-like surgery to remove the domestic side of the house while leaving the international side there.  Ain't gonna happen without serious disruption, if ever. 

Somehow I Find This Encouraging

While I read that the Northeast and New England will be getting a cold front today/tonight, making it more like fall (still weeks away), here in the Silicon Swamp it's best to think of today as August 39th rather than being in September.  Thinking "September" might lead you to think it's going to get fall-like here.  From our NOAA weather forecast:
This Afternoon:  A 30 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Mostly sunny, with a high near 89. Northeast wind around 10 mph.
To be honest, a high of 89 is a bit of reprieve from mid-August temperatures. 

I'm interested that the Daily Mail is reporting that August ice at the north pole ice pack was up 60% from last year. Yet another prediction of the warmists gone wrong.  Srsly dudes and dudettes - wake me when you get a few things right. 
I'm sure the climate video gamers modelers will scoff at the old Farmer's Almanac, but with a record that claims 80% accuracy, we should pay attention to their forecast of a colder than normal winter for most of the country

I tend to like it cool and I'm sure I keep my place cooler than many around here, so I view cooler weather as a gift.  Real money in my pocket that I don't have to spend on air conditioning.  Bring it on!

Friday, September 6, 2013

Laserlyte Trainer Cartridge Surprise

Our friends at Midway USA listed the laser trainer cartridge for .380 ACP on sale in the September flyer.  I have a Laserlyte training system and those cartridges in .45 and 9mm, so when I saw the sale price I went for the .380 in order to train with a pocket holster for my little TCP.  It got here today, and something seemed wrong.  "It jess din't seem right".  Here's the .380 laser cartridge (left) with a .380 FMJ round and my 9mm laser.
Of course, .380 is also known as 9mm Short (as "Q" refers to it in "Skyfall") so I expected it to be shorter than the 9mm version, about the size of that round.  Instead, I get a cartridge that's virtually identical to my 9.  I was going to return it, even called Midway about it thinking that somehow they messed up at Laserlyte, but after some thinking about it, decided to check the product page at Laserlyte.

Yes, this is how it's supposed to be.  It won't fit in a magazine, but once seated in the chamber, it works exactly like the others.   It overhangs a magazine by about 25% and simply can't be loaded that way.  So being me, I think "if it's the same size as the 9mm, maybe I could use the 9 in the .380, or the .380 in the 9".  Not quite.  If you look closely, you can see that the smaller diameter portion of the 9mm cartridge is shorter than on the .380.  The 9 will slide into the .380's chamber, but the slide won't close.  So the obvious question does the .380 work in a 9mm?  Yes!!  If you own a 9 and .380, just get a .380 trainer.  It fits in both.  I bought two so you don't have to.  This is a full service blog, after all.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

10,000 Hours of Practice?

A couple of years ago, a guy named Malcom Gladwell wrote a book, Outliers, based on the premise that to achieve mastery of any skill, all that was needed was 10,000 hours of practice.  As a student of the guitar, that's a pleasant thought.  It means all I need to do is put in my hours of diligent practice and I will turn into a competent player.  Anyone who has ever done any job scheduling knows there's about 2000 hours in a year of full time work, so 10,000 hours is about 5 years as a full time job.  That's a serious commitment, but it holds out the promise that with sufficient dedication, you can get as good as someone whose work you admire in any field.  Mastering guitar, or oil painting or anything else is less a talent you're born with and more a "work ethic" thing.  Nurture instead of nature, if you will.

Like a lot of pleasant thoughts, it seems it really is too good to be true.  It turns out there's just very little evidence Gladwell was right. 

Steve Sailer writing in Taki's Magazine looks at the evidence in sports, using The Sports Gene, by David Epstein, as a launching point.
Because it’s impossible to think comprehensively about sports achievement while flinching from the obvious racial and sexual differences, Epstein bravely goes there. Amusingly, he cites numerous sports scientists who demanded anonymity from him before they’ll dare touch the topic.

Epstein, a former college runner, even offers a couple of novel theories of why people of West African descent make the best sprinters. He points out that several of the top Jamaican sprinters, including Usain Bolt (a classic gifted goof), are from Trelawny Parish, historically the home to Jamaica’s largest free community of escaped slaves, the Maroons. Perhaps their ancestors were just tougher, and that’s why they ran away and stayed free for hundreds of years?
Why is it politically incorrect to say that there might be genetic advantages in some groups?  Because it implies that others are not genetically gifted?  That we're not all equal?  The Boston Marathon became one of the most famous races in the world as the popularity of running skyrocketed starting in the 1970s and the race became a huge international attraction.  Is it mere coincidence that since 1988, 25 years, only 2 winners of the men's race have not been either Kenyan or Ethiopian?  92% to 8% is pretty dominant.   

It's not just the apparent genetic gifts of that region on the Kenyan/Ethiopian border where these men come from.  Why are most basketball stars black?  Most men have an arm spread equal to their heights.  Black men had wider reach.
Epstein adds that the average African American in the NBA can jump 29.6” versus 27.3” for whites. Combined with the extra inch of reach, that helps explain the preponderance of blacks in a game where the single most important metric is how high in the air you can get your hand. One scientist told Epstein, “So maybe it’s not so much that white men can’t jump. White men just can’t reach high.”
The article has several stories like this, and the links are full of more details.  So while it's true that, as Gladwell said, "within a group of talented people, what separated the best from the rest was how long and how intently they worked." haven't we always known that?  And isn't it also true that within a group of equally hard-working people what separates them is how talented they are?  Sailer includes this salient quote:
Seriously, is it so hard to consider nature and nurture simultaneously? 
From all of my observations in life, I've always thought the answer to "nature or nurture" was "both".  This bears it out. 

There's a famous story about a rejection letter a writer once received. Maybe it's just a story, but I'll always remember it.  The editor rejecting the manuscript wrote, "Your work is both original and excellent, however the parts that are original aren't excellent and that parts that are excellent aren't original".  Maybe that all applies to Gladwell's Outliers.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

A Long Answer About Machine Tools

In response to last night's post on a machine that is both 3D printer and light duty CNC Mill,  commenter Kerodin asked:
I'd love if you ever have the time to explore the concept of buying a hobby-level machine capable of turning out a functional 1911 or AR - even if it taxes the CNC and takes a week to mill the frame. When Miller started III Arms he entered with a Tormach - an "Entry level" machine in the world of real CNC - but I'd love to know if you think there is an answer out there for the Patriot who wants the ability to load some pre-constructed code, add steel blocks, and end up with a defensive tool.
The answer is that they probably are all capable.  It's not falling off a log easy, and some operations might be a bit scary, but I think there are tons of people using CNC-modified Grizzly and Harbor Freight mills and lathes to do this.  I would love to have a nice Tormach machine, but they are serious money for a hobbyist.   As a runner up, the Chinese company Sieg produces the majority of the cheaper imported machine tools, with differing capabilities, sizes and costs.  I've mentioned this one before and with the exception of not having the room in my garage, I probably would have bought one of these by now.  Seig makes this one, as well as the machines you see sold by various tool companies like Grizzly, Harbor Freight, and others.  My machines are currently all Sherline, with options by A2Z CNC.  Both the Sherline parts and the A2Z CNC add-ons are made in the US.  While the Sherline's standard work envelope is small, they are more accurate out of the box than pretty much anything else you can buy until you hit that Tormach, to the best of my knowledge.  A2Z has made their own versions of the Sherline machines which are capable of machining bigger things.  See their website.

As you say, with a smaller or less rigid machine, you can make more shallow cuts than on a bigger machine, and you take longer.  CNC is ideal for this; it never gets tired, never miscounts turns on the hand wheels. 

Of course, I've got a permanent post on how I built an AR-15 from an 80% lower (my rifle and the machine I made it on, below).  I haven't mentioned it, but thanks to The Redneck Engineer, I have some "0%" lowers (forgings) that I intend to machine all the way.  With the personal issues that have complicated life this year, I haven't been able to get to it, but I always thought of it as a "round tuit" project.  Judging by "The Book", I think this task is possible with my Sherline tools, but would be easier with a bigger capacity lathe.  This guy has a pretty thorough look at the process - on big machines.

A whole 'nother level is to machine a lower from solid blocks of aluminum.   Consider this advanced level.  And watch the videos on YouTube.

Of course, the AR platform, while a fine rifle, isn't the be all and end all of guns.  You might want a 1911.  There are 80% 1911 forgings to complete on your mill.  KT Ordnance of Dillon, Montana, is a prominent source.  This gets around the potentially nasty problem of cutting out the magazine well, which is a long reach for an unsupported cutting tool.  KT says the BATFE has ruled what constitutes an 80% lower, and you'll need some special cutters, which they'll sell you.  This guy has a decent write up.  KT sells an 80% Ruger Mark 1, .22LR pistol!

You will need information and places to hang out and just read.  Of course, is a go to site for all things AR.  But don't miss The Weapons Guild or CNC Guns.  There are many forums devoted to particular machine tools where you can learn the ins and outs of your particular machines Yahoo! Groups has several. YouTube has many videos of small milling machines converted to CNC, and there are commercial options, too.  The advantage of going with one that was sold as a complete system, like the Little Machine Shop tools mentioned above, is you have one seller to go to for support.  When you put it all together yourself, you can have problems isolating problems and getting it all running; with one of these, you may need to clean it up to remove protective grease, but it should work when you power it up.

Hope that answers it.  If not, let me know!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Techy Tuesday - CNC Mill or 3D Printer?

I've been meaning to start a tradition of devoting at least one day a week to a tech post featuring something I've come across that I think folks will be interested in.  The Techy Tuesday seems like a good name, and gives me a little direction in doing it, so let's try this for a while.

To start with, let's revisit the idea of home fabrication.  A few months ago, I did a summary of 3D printing vs. conventional milling machines controlled by computers.  If you want to build cool or interesting things at home, which do you want?  What gives you the best bang for the buck?  There are reasons to have both type of machine, and both are worth considering.  To start off the Techy Tuesday series, I ran across an interesting project on Indiegogo, the FABtotum, a box that does additive and subtractive building and throws in a 3D scanner too! 
FABtotum is a multipurpose tool, the first Low Cost Desktop Personal Fabrication device that can operate a wide range of Computer controlled (CNC) manufacturing processes.

Print, Cut, Mill, Scan, Manipulate. Rinse and repeat!

A seamless interaction between the physical and the digital world.

While Current 3D printers are defined as Personal fabricators, there is so much more to personal fabrication than 3d printing alone! FABtotum allows anyone to explore the endless possibilities of a multipurpose fabrication device.

Pretty cool concept. The Indiegogo page says:

"Along with 3/4 Axis Subtractive Machining, Fabtotum is capable of 3-axis hybrid Additive / Subtractive manufacturing, meaning you can work in dual mode without loosing the position or having to move the workpiece.

  • 3D milling on light materials (Balsa, Foam, light wood)
  • PCB milling : make your own circuit boards!
  • Engraving
  • 2.5 D Profiling (cutting) on light materials (balsa,Foam,Light wood)
  • CNC Pre-Drilling
  • 4 Axis machining on light materials.
  • 4 Axis Engraving   "
  • OK, the downside is that it only works light materials, but in the videos they have, you can see it machining what looks like a chunk of aluminum.  If it can machine aluminum, it can machine at least brass and mild steels.  I've got to keep my eye on this project as it goes forward.

    Monday, September 2, 2013

    The Bloody History of Organized Labor

    I enjoy my extra day off this week as much as anyone, but the history of the American labor movement that led to this day off is a pretty bloody history. Most of us are probably aware of the recent incitements to violence and riot, such as the problems in Wisconsin in 2011, when legislation to attempt to get control of the state budget led to confrontation in the state offices.  Remember this email, sent to several State Senators by a union supporter because lawmakers were going to ask union members contribute to their benefits plan, instead of it being 100% paid for by taxpayers?
    Please put your things in order because you will be killed and your families will also be killed due to your actions in the last 8 weeks.

    Please explain to them that this is because if we get rid of you and your families, then it will save the rights of 300,000 people, and also be able to close the deficit that you have created. I hope you have a good time in hell. ...

    We have also built several bombs that we have placed in various locations around the areas in which we know that you frequent. This includes: your house, your car, the state capitol, and well, I won’t tell you all of them because that’s just no fun…

    Please make your peace with God as soon as possible and say goodbye to your loved ones. [W]e will not wait any longer. YOU WILL DIE!!!!
    In what world is it acceptable to threaten killing someone and their family, and not expect any negative consequences for it?  Only in the upside down world of labor unions.  Daniel Sayani at the New American puts together a short history of union violence in this country.  The first blood spilled by union activists apparently goes back to the Haymarket Square massacre in 1886, in which:
    ... striking union workers threw a bomb at Chicago police, killing eight police officers and countless civilians, after being incited to their lethal rampage by socialist Samuel Fielden (not unlike how Marty Lamb was beaten after the crowd of unionists was inflamed to violence by “progressive” Rep. Capuano) [Note: explanation of Rep. Capuano reference in that article on the New American - SiG]
    Because of their enormous influence in the Democratic Party, unions have specifically gotten themselves exempted from laws the rest of society must follow.  You probably know about the exemptions from the anti-trust laws, and extortion laws, and that they're trying to exempt themselves from Obamacare.  (just one example for each of those).  And, of course, you know when unions physically assault conservatives like Kenneth Gladney there never seems to be any consequences for the union thugs.

    Unions are progressively more desperate because membership in non-government employee unions is down.  Only government workers' unions are growing, where no true negotiation takes place because there are no parties at the table risking anything.  Unions like the SEIU and the AFSCME are the beneficiaries of fat government contracts.  They get more union dues which they siphon off to contribute to getting Evil Party politicians elected who will negotiate new, fat contracts with them.

    I didn't mention in last night's post that the SEIU and other unions are the ones behind the minimum wage protests.  Despite the rhetoric, they're not trying to make anyone's lives better except for their own.  If members get some crumbs that make their life better, that's nice.  For non-unionized workers, who have to pay them their higher wages, too bad.  As the saying goes, FUJIGM.   

    Sunday, September 1, 2013

    Econ 101 - Minimum Wage Style

    Unless you live in a cave (not that there's anything wrong with that) you know the union thugs have been rent-a-mob protesting minimum wage and saying it needs to be $15/hour.  They seem to honestly and sincerely believe that this will help them.  It's a shame they can't see the reality.

    If I could talk with the protesters, really talk instead of just sitting while they shout slogans.  I'd say let's play make believe for a minute.  Let's pretend it would be legal to do everything I'm about to propose.  We just have to follow the consequences to logical conclusions.  Since we're talking about almost doubling minimum wage, here's the experiment.  Take every bill out of your wallet, pocket or money clip and double the denomination.  I mean, if you have $1 bills, mark them $2.  Take $5 bills and mark them $10, $10 bills and mark them $20, $20 and mark them $40 (yeah, I know there's no such thing, just work with me here).   I'm going to assume if you're worried about minimum wage, you don't have any $50 or $100 bills, but do the same with them if you have them.  Congratulations, you now have twice the money you had a few minutes ago.

    The kicker is that everyone else in America gets to do the same thing.  Are you further ahead in life because we've doubled the numbers on the money you have?  Or is the guy that you worry about all the time, the guy who used to make twice what you make still making twice what you make?  What if the price of everything doubled, too?  Wouldn't you be exactly where you started from? 

    Doubling minimum wage will create immediate problems; a lot of jobs exist between the current minimum wage and $15/hour.
    According to the latest numbers from the Labor Department’s National Compensation Survey (for 2010), here are some examples of jobs that pay in the range of $15 per hour: preschool teacher, barber or hairdresser, tailor, insulation worker, and library assistant (clerical). Most of those, arguably, call for higher skills than are needed in the typical fast-food position.

    Similarly, a $15 rate would push fast-food pay above the following occupations: home health aide (about $12), bailiff or correctional officer ($12), child-care worker ($9.80), telemarketer ($13.40), and emergency dispatcher ($13.60).

    And according to the Labor data, a $15 wage could put entry-level workers almost on par with their supervisors. The occupational survey pegs supervisor pay in the food-service industry at about $16 an hour.

    The 2010 data put the occupation “fast food cook” at $9 an hour.

    Legions of jobs in other low-skill occupations, including at retail stores, have similar pay.
    So what do we do with all those jobs that are now in-between the old and new minimum wages?  Well, if $15 is the law, they have to be paid at least that much.  Many of these people, such as barbers, tailors, bailiffs, emergency dispatchers, and so on, got training or went to school for some time to get to where they are, well ahead of the fast-food worker/minimum wage slot.  They worked to better themselves.  Do we just make them all the same pay?  On the one hand, since we doubled the wages of everyone at the bottom, it seems only fair to double their wages so they're proportionally above the new minimum wage.  But if you double those wages, they'll suddenly be ahead of people who worked longer and harder to get to where they are.  You have to double everybody's pay.  On the other hand, somebody is paying those wages and that's real money which has to come from somewhere.  Where? 

    That money comes from the price of what they're selling.  The price of every product sold and every service rendered will go up proportional to the amount of labor in the current cost.  Prices on everything won't double - some surely will - but every price that contains a labor component can go up.  Some prices will go up simply because sellers will rationalize that everyone has more money, so the price should go up.  That means the people trying to get this new wage to make themselves better off will pay more for everything they buy, and while the complaint is that they can just barely get by on the minimum wage, they'll most likely find they can't get by much better, if any better at all, on a doubled minimum wage.  They may find they lose their job because the only way to lower costs with everything increasing in cost proportional to its labor content is to cut the labor cost.

    Fast food restaurants get by on a small average margin, but an average McDonalds makes around 10% of sales in net profit (it's not the same on all products) and the stock turns about 5% earnings per share.  No company is in a good position to absorb doubled labor costs, least of all these guys.  All restaurant prices will have to go up.  Some customers may not choose to keep going there.

    Expensive labor would be a Godsend to Momentum Machines, who make the hamburger making machine I mentioned here last February. They suddenly become much more competitive and easier to sell.
    (A Momentum Machines burger.  Note the glass tube to the right of the burger, containing chopped lettuce.  Behind that, the upper half of a tomato is visible, behind that a pickle is in another tube.  Tomatoes and pickles are fed into these glass tubes where they're fed into slicers that create the slices for the burger.) 

    What we've accomplished by arbitrarily increasing everyone's pay in relation to a new minimum wage is inflation.  Workers make more nominal dollars (that is, they make twice the named number of dollars) but they haven't increased their wealth in any way.  They haven't advanced with respect to any other workers.  They haven't made themselves more valuable in any way, so their relative value compared to other workers still leaves them on the bottom of incomes.  It's still minimum wage, after all.  All they've done is crank another inflation source into the economy which hurts them at least as much as anyone else.   

    Maybe this whole thing is just to give cover to the administrations efforts to raise the minimum wage to $9 an hour.  It helps them appear more reasonable.  The results will be the same.