Archive for ◊ July, 2017 ◊

New Approach for Growing Pumpkins
Wednesday, July 19th, 2017 | Author:

Update

The experiment has delivered some initial results.  While the plant started to grow a nice sized pumpkin, it appears that the vining plant does not like growing in the vertical direction.  All of the leaves have slowly died off and the plant does not appear to be healthy.

As a controlled comparison, I had a plant that was started from seed at the same time that was grown in the horizontal orientation.  As you can see in the photograph on the right, this plant appears to still be thriving and growing along the ground.

 

june 15, 2007

If you’ve never attempted to grow pumpkins in your own garden, then you likely don’t realize the amount of space the plants require to sustain a single pumpkin.  While pumpkin plants, being in the squash family, are relatively easy to grow from seed, they are a pain to maintain (unless you have acres of land).  As a result, I’m trying a simple experiment this year in growing pumpkins vertically from an irrigated hanging pot at the top of a lattice.  You can see the interim results below with the first photograph showing the plant already 4′ long.  The second photo shows a close-up of a “pregnant flower” becoming a pumpkin.

Category: Engineering  | Leave a Comment
Republicans Without Principles
Monday, July 17th, 2017 | Author:

Update

You’ve read on this site the continued displeasure with politics in Washington and the fact that it’s very hard to distinguish between the Republicans and Democrats.  For example, we have Obamacare that was passed in 2009 without a single Republican vote.  People were not able to keep their own doctors as promised. No one’s premiums went down by $2,500.  For eight years, Republicans campaigned for office to repeal it.  The House voted repeatedly to repeal it. Now that Republicans control the House, Senate, and White House they suddenly cannot do what they promised to do… Why is that?

Here’s another one for you courtesy of the Republicans.  Barbara Comstock, Republican Representative of Virginia, is sponsoring House Bill 257 which conflicts with our First Amendment rights by silencing Americans speaking openly about the threats we face as a nation.  If House Bill 257 is passed into law, you could be jailed for an opinion that defies political orthodoxy with regards to sharia law, or radical Islam.

And yet here’s another questionable decision by Republicans: 24 Republicans banded together recently to defeat an amendment which would have ended Obama’s policy of funding “gender-reassignment” surgery for soldiers who want to live as members of the opposite sex.   The Democrat ideology insists that a person’s  gender is defined by their self-assessment and not by their biology.  The belief is that other Americans must agree with people who say they are a member of the opposite sex, and citizens should for their gender-changing surgeries.

May 29, 2016

Just last week, 43 Republican members of Congress joined the Democrats to vote for Obama’s transgender agenda. Congress was voting to elevate sexual orientation and gender identity as a protected class garnering special legal privileges… Here is a list of the 43 Republicans who voted for the amendment:

Justin Amash, Mich.
Susan Brooks, Ind.
Mike Coffman, Colo.
Ryan Costello, Pa.
Carlos Curbelo, Fla.
Rodney Davis, Ill.
Jeff Denham, Calif.
Charlie Dent, Pa.
Mario Diaz-Balart, Fla.
Bob Dold, Ill.
Daniel Donovan, N.Y.
Tom Emmer, Minn.
Michael Fitzpatrick, Pa.
Rodney Frelinghuysen, N.J.
Chris Gibson, N.Y.
Joe Heck, Nev.
Will Hurd, Texas
Darrell Issa, Calif.
David Jolly, Fla.
John Katko, N.Y.
Adam Kinzinger, Ill.
Leonard Lance, N.J.
Frank LoBiondo, N.J.
Tom MacArthur, N.J.
Martha McSally, Ariz.
Pat Meehan, Pa.
Luke Messer, Ind.
Erik Paulsen, Minn.
Bruce Poliquin, Maine
Tom Reed, N.Y.
David Reichert, Wash.
Jim Renacci, Ohio
Tom Rooney, Fla.
Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Fla.
John Shimkus, Ill.
Elise Stefanik, N.Y.
Fred Upton, Mich.
David Valadao, Calif.
Greg Walden, Ore.
Mimi Walters, Calif.
David Young, Iowa
Todd Young, Ind.
Lee Zeldin, N.Y.

Source: Republicans Who Voted for Obama’s Transgender Agenda Spin Vote

Category: Politics  | One Comment
Is Greece the “Canary” for Economic Decline?
Tuesday, July 11th, 2017 | Author:

The continuing saga of economic decline in western democracies…  Is Greece the “Canary in the Coal Mine” for how these events unfold?

 

Update

From today’s US Today, an update on the situation in Greece:

Two years after an international bailout that was supposed to lead to an economic revival, conditions here have only worsened and life for Greeks has become one of constant misery.   

The economy is stagnant, unemployment hovers around 25% and is twice as high for young adults, taxes are rising, and wages are falling. Half of Greek homeowners can’t make their mortgage payments and another quarter can’t afford their property taxes, according to the Bank of Greece.

On July 5, 2015, voters soundly rejected the terms of a proposed bailout with international lenders because the plan demanded too much austerity. Yet, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and his left-wing Syriza Party ignored the referendum results and signed a third bailout deal that would provide nearly $100 billion in loans the country desperately needed to avoid collapse.

Interestingly, I just had a good friend of mine return from Greece and share his thoughts on the situation in Athens… While tourism is still relatively strong, it’s not a very pretty economic environment for growth.

 

June 6, 2007

I suppose it shouldn’t surprise anyone that a recent Pew Research poll showed that 98% of the residents of Greece view their current economic situation as “bad.”  As a contrast, 40% of Americans consider the current economics as bad.

 

May 3, 2017

It’s a never-ending story.  It appears to be the proverbial “kicking the can down the road”.  They’re throwing more money at Greece once again for the promise of more austerity measures:

The preliminary deal with international creditors would allow Athens to receive emergency funds in exchange for promises of higher taxes and lower social spending.

As far as I know, the real solutions are: a) a major write-down of the debt, b) significant steps for economic growth.  I haven’t seen either of these in the plans for the Greek empire.

 

February 7, 2017

It’s now 2017 and there is still no clear path to stability for Greece… and no one appears to have an answer. The economists are now saying that Greece cannot ‘grow’ out of their economic malaise:

The new report was prepared by IMF staff ahead of a February 6 board meeting to discuss the fund’s participation in an EU-led €86bn bailout of Greece and signals the continuing hard line the IMF is taking on debt relief for Athens. It offers a bleaker view of Greece’s economic dilemmas than an analysis prepared last year, warning that the debt load is “highly unsustainable” and would not improve even if it implemented further reforms recommended by the fund. . . .

“Even with these ambitious polices in place, Greece cannot grow out of its debt problem,” IMF staff warned in the report, seen by the Financial Times and drafted as part of the fund’s annual review of member economies. “Greece requires substantial debt relief from its European partners to restore debt sustainability.”

This is a good assessment of the real challenge:

The deeper problem is that Greece does not produce like a developed country, but its citizens expect the level of services and pensions normally associated with a developed country.  That’s why there is so much hostility to Greece in the middle-income countries of Eastern Europe, where benefit levels are lower.

 

June 25, 2016

From the Wall Street Journal, there is no end in sight for the economic decline in Greece…

Mr. Tsipras’s statist ideology is as hostile as ever to the supply-side reforms Greece needs, and both the IMF and other creditors seem to be giving up hope that any other Greek politician could enact such reforms. Which means Greece’s crisis will drag on no matter what happens next with Greece’s debts.

 

May 8, 2016

The drama continues as the government of Greece passes additional austerity measures:

Greece’s parliament has passed a package of tax and pension reforms, ahead of a crucial meeting of Eurozone finance ministers… Before the vote, protesters in Athens threw petrol bombs at police, who responded with tear gas.  Trade unions say the country cannot bear another round of austerity… Three days of a general strike paralysed public transport and slowed the public sector and the media.  Speaking before the vote, the leader of the Greek Communist Party, Dimitris Koutsoubas, said the Greek people would “not tolerate nor accept” the measures and would “show their true power” in the event of a yes vote.

 

April 16, 2016

This article in the Daily Mail should give you an idea of the recent economic progress (or lack thereof) in Greece:

The Greek government fears it could be subjected to terror attacks if a taxpayer-funded mosque is not constructed in Athens.  Officials claim it would allow Muslims to practise their religion under the auspices of a centrally-appointed imam that would ensure it does not stray into extremism.

Hmmm… the country is broke, yet it’s using ‘taxpayer’ (in Greece, the word taxpayer should always appear in scary quotes) money to payoff potential terrorists.

 

January 25, 2016

From the analysts at investors.com, the latest status and outlook:

In protracted and bitter negotiations last summer, the country promised to raise the retirement age, cut pensions, liberalize the energy market, open up closed professions, raise taxes and sell government assets.

There have been encouraging signs. In December, the Greek Parliament narrowly passed overhauls needed to get the next $1.1 billion segment of the bailout negotiated over the summer with the IMF, the European Central Bank and European Commission, known as the troika.

Standard & Poor’s raised its long-term sovereign debt rating to B- from CCC+ with stable outlook, citing the country’s compliance with its economic program.

But the country is a long way from recovery. Third-quarter unemployment was 24% and the economy contracted 0.1% from a year earlier.

Analysts with Deutsche Bank said earlier this month that they expect Greece to slip into deep recession later this year.

 

September 21, 2015

The malaise continues… a good analysis from Strategy Page:

We know how Greece got here. Greek productivity could not pay for the lifestyle its citizens desired. The productivity of other Euro-zone nations financed Greek good times and kept Greek politicians in power.

Greece lied to obtain the largesse. When the Euro-zone officially formed in 2001, Greece claimed it had a GDP deficit of 1.5 percent. In 2012, former Greek budget minister Peter Doukas said the real 2001 figure was 8.3 percent. Over the years, Greek governments violated fiscal agreements, borrowed money they could not repay and managed to hide the lies. European Union monitoring systems failed to detect the buildup in Greek debt.

The Greek people, who supported these lying governments, enjoyed “other people’s money.” Now German, French and even Italian workers say no more. Italians complain that Greek government worker pensions are far more lavish than theirs. No la dolce vita on our euros.

As for selective law enforcement: Systemic crookedness stymies economic growth. Greeks know it. A June 2010 poll found that 78 percent of the Greek people “accept the view that many or all in government are corrupt.” That same year, a Greek finance ministry investigation uncovered extensive tax evasion, corruption and bribery in its tax collection offices. Greek tax evaders cost the country an estimated $27 billion to $30 billion a year.

Here’s the big story. In Greece, we witness another hard example of an old lesson. Economic reality shakes and eventually shatters political fantasy. Fantasy may fade, but denial tends to die hard. All too often, it dies violently.

 

June 28, 2015

The saga continues… The Greeks elected a Communist leader that promised economic miracles for the citizenry (sound familiar?); and everyone has discovered the harsh reality of running out of other people’s money.  It’s now widely reported that the Greek government is shuttering the banks for a week:

Greek leaders planned to shutter their banks on Monday amid last-ditch discussions about their nation’s economic future, as panicked citizens tried to pull their money from their accounts while they still were able.

I still don’t know enough about macroeconomics to predict the eventual end game…  I suppose the other EU countries will be coming to Athens to repossess the Parthenon.

greek-economy

 

January 6, 2015

Well, three years later and we have not yet closed the loop on the outcome…  Today’s BusinessWeek discusses Greece considering its options:

The current Greek situation is particularly troubling since by as early as mid-year it could constitute Europe’s Lehman Brothers moment. Whatever the outcome of the Jan. 25 parliamentary election, it is difficult to see how Greece can avoid a major policy collision with its European partners. Greece is showing every sign of austerity and economic reform fatigue as its economy remains mired in the deepest of depressions.

 

February 3, 2014

Yes, the story continues more than two years later, but the plot and results remain the same… As noted at ZeroHedge, Europe pretends to bail out Greece… and Greece pretends to reform and comply with austerity reforms when it merely continues to spend as before until the money runs out…

At this point, I would be willing to say that Victor Davis Hanson has been the best prognosticator (see earlier posts below)

 

May 9, 2013

The Greek government began its first mass-firing of public-sector workers in more than 100 years this week, part of an effort to lay off 180,000 by 2015 under Europe-imposed austerity.

via Greece starts firing civil servants for first time in a century.

 

August 20, 2012

More bad news about the Greece economy…  They have debt coming due and the country needs to issue more bonds.  The Greek GDP shrank by more than 6% over the last 12 months.

I still have that lingering question:  How does Greece break out of this continuous decline?

 

July 24, 2012

The Prime Minister of Greece declares that his country is in a depression (any surprises here?):

Greek GDP is expected by the end of this year to have shrunk by about a fifth in five consecutive years of recession since 2008...

 

May 11, 2012

You may have missed the Greek elections, but the results are foretelling — the citizens cast quite a few ballots for the Communist and the Nazi parties…  the real takeaway that can be generalized for many western countries is that nobody wants to hear about austerity measures.  Given a choice between a leader who says “you’ll have to tighten your belt and go to work” versus a prospective leader who proclaims “the government should continue to support your lifestyle”, well, the answer is pretty obvious.

The saga about bankrupt western countries continues to unfold…

 

May 2, 2012

It’s not getting any better in Athens…

image

 

April 5, 2012

It appears that the financial markets are not convinced that Greece has overcome its problems.  The Greek 10 year bonds are now hovering around a 20% yield rate (in contrast, US 10 year bonds are approximately 2%).

 

February 13, 2012

A prognostication from Victor Davis Hanson:

There are only three scenarios likely for Greece: (1) In exchange for debt relief, a liberated Greece changes its ways, opens up its economy, redefines labor and capital markets and becomes a sort of Spain (unlikely). (2) It defaults and its drachma-based country reverts to what one remembered in the old days and what one would expect from a top-heavy, unproductive socialist state (somewhat likely). Or (3) it gets some half-relief, but soon reneges on its promised reforms and austerity, and thus like Greek cities in the 2nd Century AD, life goes on as weeds grow among the impressive, but crumbling infrastructure of the past (very likely).

 

February 5, 2012

The saga continues… Is the situation in Greece a microcosm of the western democracies and economic decline?  A recent issue of the Washington Times discusses how the Greek bailout cycle continues unabated:

The latest examination by international debt inspectors found Greece in such dire straits that it requires another $20 billion cash infusion. This would be on top of the $171 billion promised in October, which was on top of the $145 billion Greece received in 2010…

Greece is not going to escape this repeating cycle of near-collapse and bailout without doing something that sparks sustained economic growth and private-sector job creation. It’s well past time to try something new. The last two years of bailouts and broken promises to cut back on spending have resulted in a shrinking economy and what seem to be daily news of rioting on the streets of Athens. That’s not exactly the best advertisement for Greece’s most significant industry: tourism.

 

January 31, 2012

The German news organization, Spiegel, is sharing its thoughts on the situation in Greece…  They exclaim that European politicians are not facing reality:

Once again, Europe is arguing over a bailout for Greece, and it looks as though the result will be no different that it has been in the past… Europe’s politicians continue to battle reality. Everyone knows that Greece cannot repay its massive pile of debts, now at more than €350 billion ($459 billion). But instead of effectively reducing the financial burden, European politicians intend to approve new loans for the government in Athens and go on fighting debt with new debt.

 

January 29, 2012

The latest discussion is about Greece changing from using the Euro as its currency:

Germany and the rest of the eurozone can’t actually kick a country out of the euro for fear of investor panic and speculation against Portugal, Italy, Ireland, and Spain. But if Greece were to leave on its own…

 

January 25, 2012

The situation in Greece has many economists around the world concerned:

The rest of the world needs to sit up and take notice of what is going on in Greece right now. This is what can happen when you allow government debt to spiral out of control. Once it becomes clear that you can’t pay your debts, a financial collapse can happen very suddenly and you start losing your sovereignty to those that you must turn to for financial help.

 

January 15, 2012

I’ve been watching the situation in Greece with great interest.  It possesses all of the leading indicators of great decline associated with a western culture that has embraced Socialism.  These indicators include a very low reproduction rate among the indigenous population; huge amounts of entitlements showered among the citizens; and a government expenditure rate well out of line with the country’s gross domestic product.

When a country gets to this point what happens?  Do they declare bankruptcy and the creditor nations repossess the assets? Do they hyper-inflate their way out of debt by using their own currency?

Over at the Calculated Risk blog, they talk about the fact that everyone knows that the Greeks are not willing to adopt austerity measures.

At this point, it all sounds like a huge game of “kick the can” as a means to delay the inevitable…  of course, I still don’t have a clear picture of the eventual outcome.

 

Category: Business, Politics  | Tags: ,  | 4 Comments

I would have never thought that Sela could beat Isner… Is this a replay of ‘David vs Goliath’?  Go figure:

American John Isner is out of the tournament as the No. 23 seed lost to Dudi Sela 6-7 (5), 7-6 (5), 5-7, 7-6 (5), 6-3. Isner has yet to make the second week at the All England Club and is 4-15 in five-set matches since his famed 2010 first-round match at Wimbledon that ended 70-68 in the final set.The 6-foot-10 Isner had quite a height advantage over the 5-9 Sela, but that didn’t help on this day. Isner clocked 45 aces in the match but couldn’t win any of Sela’s service games in the fifth set, going 0-for-6 on break points.

John Isner and Dudi Sela had fans laughing as they posed for a picture before their match

Source: Wimbledon men’s results Thursday

Category: Sports  | Leave a Comment
House Democrats Support Anti-Israel Group
Saturday, July 01st, 2017 | Author:

Are you surprised?

32 Democrats in Congress signed on to a letter circulated by a group that even the ADL had described as having its “organizational roots in the now-defunct Islamic Association of Palestine (IAP), an anti-Semitic group that served as the main propaganda arm for Hamas in the United States.”

It won’t surprise you to learn that Keith Ellison tops this list. Or that Betty McCollum, Earl Blumenauer and Mark Pocan are also there.  Then there’s Hank Johnson, who called Jews terminates, Barbara Lee, James McGovern, Andre Carson, Anna Eshoo, John Conyers, Luis Gutierrez, Peter DeFazio, Marcy Kaptur, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Karen Bass, Eddie Bernice Johnson, Roy Khanna, Zoe Lofgren, Bobby Rush, Peter Welsh, David Price, Alan Lowenthal, Donald Beyer, Chellie Pingree, Salud Carbajal, Gwen S. Moore, Danny Davis, Jackie Speyer, Jared Huffman, Tulsi Gabbard and Pramiya Jayapal. 

So there’s the usual Prog caucus gang. And a sizable heaping of Congressional Black Caucus people. 

Source: 32 House Dems Sign Anti-Israel Letter from Pro-Hamas, pro-BDS Groups

Category: Politics  | Leave a Comment