Friday, October 30, 2009

"Wolf! Wolf!" Cry The Anthropogenic Global Warming Activist.

I think that Climate Change is real. I have some serious doubts about Anthropogenic Global Warming. In, short, I think it is over-the-top bullshit put forth primarily by people with a political (socialist, statists, authoritarian, totalitarian) agenda.

Climate Change IS fact.

Anthropogenic Global Warming is Politics.

Mark Henderson, the Science Editor of Times Online discusses the toll of the AGW Activist's "Cry Wolf" strategy.

Exaggerated and inaccurate claims about the threat from global warming risk undermining efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions and contain climate change, senior scientists have told The Times.

Environmental lobbyists, politicians, researchers and journalists who distort climate science to support an agenda erode public understanding and play into the hands of sceptics, according to experts including a former government chief scientist.

Excessive statements about the decline of Arctic sea ice, severe weather events and the probability of extreme warming in the next century detract from the credibility of robust findings about climate change, they said.

Such claims can easily be rebutted by critics of global warming science to cast doubt on the whole field. They also confuse the public about what has been established as fact, and what is conjecture.

They are crying "Wolf! Wolf!" so much that they are destroying the trust that people have and need to have in science.

The AGW Activist are turning Science into a farce.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The American Public “Getting Reamed.”

The Politico has a short piece about the 1,990 + page monstrosity that house Democrats are going to try to cram down our throats.

They cite a section as a caution to those that will clammer for it to be read before it is voted on.

“(a) Outpatient Hospitals – (1) In General – Section 1833(t)(3)(C)(iv) of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 1395(t)(3)(C)(iv)) is amended – (A) in the first sentence – (i) by inserting “(which is subject to the productivity adjustment described in subclause (II) of such section)” after “1886(b)(3)(B)(iii); and (ii) by inserting “(but not below 0)” after “reduced”; and (B) in the second sentence, by inserting “and which is subject, beginning with 2010 to the productivity adjustment described in section 1886(b)(3)(B)(iii)(II)”.


Um . . .

Yah. . .

I got that.

A sane person, in the everyday life that you and I live in, would look at that pile of gobblygook and rightfully conclude that the person spewing it was trying to get one over on us.

For the Democrats in Washington D.C., it is how they hide what they are going to do to us.

At the end of the article, the Politico closes with the following paragraph.

But Republican Rep. Joe Barton, who is Texan, said the bill is “about four reams of paper” that add up to the American public “getting reamed.”


Thats Democrats just doing what they do best Joe.

Rationed Health Care is going to be just to die for.

Exercise Versus Diabetes

Diet and exercise seem to be key to staving off type 2 diabetes.

That trial, carried out by the US-based Diabetes Prevention Program Research Group, had shown a diet aimed at achieving 7% weight loss, combined with half an hour of exercise five days a week, reduced the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes by 58% compared with the placebo group.

The group on metformin, a drug which has been used to treat the condition since the 1950s, saw their risk decline by nearly a third.

In the seven years after the trial ended, both the drug and placebo groups - now also eating more carefully and exercising - saw the rate of diabetes fall.

But the most significant drop was among those who had started out on a diet and exercise regime - their risk was over a third lower than the placebo group.


Dealing with diabetes is a pain. A little exercise and a better diet may be worth it.

The usual cautions here. This is science, so it might even be true.

Too Good To Be True

Another good excuse to eat Thai food!

An extract found in the bright yellow curry spice turmeric can kill off cancer cells, scientists have shown.

The chemical - curcumin - has long been thought to have healing powers and is already being tested as a treatment for arthritis and even dementia.

Now tests by a team at the Cork Cancer Research Centre show it can destroy gullet cancer cells in the lab.


I like curry. This is good news. Nice to have some good news.

The usual cautions here. This is science, so it might even be true.

Producers going on strike in New York

It is not exactly something out of Atlas Shrugged, but it has strong echoes.

Andy Soltis talks about a trend that few others in the MSM dare mention.

New Yorkers are fleeing the state and city in alarming numbers -- and costing a fortune in lost tax dollars, a new study shows.

More than 1.5 million state residents left for other parts of the United States from 2000 to 2008, according to the report from the Empire Center for New York State Policy. It was the biggest out-of-state migration in the country.

The vast majority of the migrants, 1.1 million, were former residents of New York City -- meaning one out of seven city taxpayers moved out.

"The Empire State is being drained of an invaluable resource -- people," the report said.

What's worse is that the families fleeing New York are being replaced by lower-income newcomers, who consequently pay less in taxes.


The parasitic welfare state can't keep raising taxes with out exhausting its hosts, namely the productive. The productive can move. They can even quit or just simply retire.

In New York, they are moving out.

In a few years when the retirement boom hits, they will probably just up and quit(retire).

Monday, October 26, 2009

Will They Try To Regulate The Carbon Content Of Our Diets?

The environmental movement has the potential to be truly dangerous.

Consider the following two paragraphs in a Times Online article.

Lord Stern, the author of the influential 2006 Stern Review on the cost of tackling global warming, said that a successful deal at the Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen in December would lead to soaring costs for meat and other foods that generate large quantities of greenhouse gases.

He predicted that people’s attitudes would evolve until meat eating became unacceptable. “I think it’s important that people think about what they are doing and that includes what they are eating,” he said. “I am 61 now and attitudes towards drinking and driving have changed radically since I was a student. People change their notion of what is responsible. They will increasingly ask about the carbon content of their food.”


(Emphasis mine)

That last sentence is interesting, is it not??

Do these people understand the role that carbon plays in the diet of carbon based life forms? Do they really mean to propose that government, politicians and bureaucrats should attempt to regulate or otherwise control the carbon content of our diets?

Have they any idea how preposterous that is?

Do they have any concept of the misery and death that would result if they tried?

Sunday, October 25, 2009

In the long run, John Maynard Keynes is still dead

The ABC News website has an article by Mark Trumbull discussing the waning expectations that the "stimulus bill" will be able to help "stimulate" any future economic growth.

Americans hoping for a big economic boost from President Obama's economic stimulus programs got a douse of cold water Thursday: The White House's top forecaster said the largest impact of the stimulus on economic growth is probably in the rear view mirror.

That's the case even though unemployment continues to rise and many of the stimulus dollars haven't been spent.

"Most analysts predict that the fiscal stimulus will have its greatest impact on growth in the second and third quarters of 2009," Christina Romer, who chairs the President's Council of Economic Advisers, said in testimony prepared for Congress. "By mid-2010, fiscal stimulus will likely be contributing little to growth."


In the long run, John Maynard Keynes is still dead. Unfortunately, his economic prescriptions will not die.

When government spends money, it is spending other peoples money. There is a natural disconnect of the value placed on the money by those who earned it when it is spent by those who merely appropriated it.

Stolen money is cheap. Earned money is dear.

Earned money is far more likely to be spent with care than looted money.

No politician and no bureaucrat can ever be as invested in the outcome of the spending of an appropriated dollar then the person that originally earned it. Whether that dollar is spent on a pleasure or invested for the future, the one who earned it is the only one that is able to truly appreciate what that dollar cost him to earn.

To a person that earned a dollar, the notion that it should be used to pay one person to dig a hole and to then pay another person to fill it, sounds like utter madness. To a Keynesian that appropriated a dollar earned by someone else, it is eminently economically sound.

Who wants to play the Iranian Nuclear Inspection Game?

The UN does.

TEHRAN, Iran - A team of U.N. inspectors prepared Sunday for their first look inside a formerly secret — though still unfinished — uranium enrichment facility that has raised Western suspicions about the extent of Iran's nuclear program.

The inspection tour will provide the world's first independent details of the heavily protected site, carved into a mountainside near the holy city of Qom south of Tehran. It also coincides with the countdown to Iran's expected decision on whether to accept a U.N.-brokered plan to process its nuclear fuel abroad.

Iran promised to respond later this week on the proposal, which seeks to ease international worries that Iranian labs could push the uranium enrichment to higher levels for weapons-grade material. Iran claims it only seeks peaceful reactors for research and energy.


What does the UN propose to do if they find that Iran is making nuclear weapons?

What do they think should be the consequences for the UN if the inspectors find nothing, only to discover that Iran has been playing a nuclear 3-card-monte game with them up to the day that Iran announces that they have the bomb?

I would like to be able to look at this inspections plan as a positive development that will help bring the Iranian crises to a peaceful resolution. I have some doubts.

Cap And Trade Opposed Most By Those That Know The Most About It.

Would you be surprised to learn that the more that people know about the Cap & Trade bill, the more they oppose it? An October 2009 Pew poll strongly indicates that while the Cap & Trade bill has its strongest support from those that are most ignorant of it, those that know the most about it are its strongest opponents.

This issue has not registered widely with the public. Just 14% say they have heard a lot about the so-called “cap and trade” policy that would set carbon dioxide emissions limits; another 30% say they have heard a little about the policy, while a majority (55%) has heard nothing at all.

The small minority that has heard a lot about the issue opposes carbon emissions limits by two-to-one (64% to 32%). More Republicans (20%) and independents (17%) than Democrats (8%) have heard a lot about cap and trade. Among the much larger group that has heard little or nothing about the issue, most support it (58% little, 50% nothing).


How do we get enough people to look at the Cap & Trade bill to defeat it? Or is this issue pretty much a guaranteed win for the luddite-environmental movement?

Saturday, October 24, 2009

What if your neighbors could inspect your tax returns?

If you live in Norway, they can.

Many media outlets use the tax records to produce their own searchable online databases. In the database of national broadcaster NRK, you can type a subject's name, hit search and within moments get information on what that person made last year, what was paid in taxes and total wealth. It also compares those figures with Norway's national averages for men and women, and that person's city of residence.

Defenders of the system say it enhances transparency, deemed essential for an open democracy.

"Isn't this how a social democracy ought to work, with openness, transparency and social equality as ideals?" columnist Jan Omdahl wrote in the tabloid Dagbladet. He acknowledged, however, that many treat the list like "tax porno" — furtively checking the income of neighbors or co-workers.

Critics say the list is actually a threat to society.


What would stop the Democrats in Congress from putting this kind of "openness" into effect here?

The politics of envy can be so much fun!

The Obama Administration Considers Letting The Taliban Win In Afghanistan

The Obama Administration will certainly go down in history as one of the worst in US Forign policy history. Worse than even the Carter Administration.

From an AP article:

WASHINGTON - Senior al-Qaida leaders are forging deeper relationships with Pakistani militants and often operating from their camps inside the Pakistan border, fueling Obama administration arguments for a shift in the Afghan war strategy that more narrowly targets the terrorists.

For eight years since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the U.S. has focused mostly on Afghanistan's Taliban as an unabashed ally of al-Qaida.

Now, however, forced to choose between sending more troops in an intensified counterinsurgency campaign against Afghanistan's Taliban or largely maintaining troop levels and using more drone strikes to take out al-Qaida along the border, U.S. officials must first determine which enemy is the greater priority.


The Obama Administration will lose Afghanistan with this kind of thinking. I am inclined to think that they would be less bothered by losing Afghanistan to the Taliban then be perceived as pursuing victory. Victory over the enemy is something that the modern day left can’t seem to stomach.

If the Obama Administration fails to defeat the Taliban, or at the very least, fails to keep them out of power in Afghanistan, then Afghanistan will return back to the stone age country that it was when it was executing woman in Soccer fields for showing a wee bit too much of ankle or daring to leave their homes without a male relative as an escort.

If Obama does not choose to pursue victory over BOTH the Taliban and al-Qaida, then his legacy will be one of surrendering to despair and misery from the farthest corners of the world to the very windows of our skyscrapers.

Obama Manages To Blow It With France

Crispian Balmer of Reuters reports on Sarkozy's frustrations with the Obama Administration.

Stung by perceived snubs from U.S. President Barack Obama and encouraged by the growing importance of the G20, Sarkozy is increasingly reaching out to non-aligned states in an effort to extend France's international influence.

He has forged especially close ties with Brazil, is seeking alliances in central Asia and is intensifying his activities in the Middle East, using multi-billion dollar military and civilian nuclear trade deals as his calling card.

These initiatives are being played out against a discordant tone in Franco-American relations. This lack of harmony does not constitute a crisis, but is nonetheless raising eyebrows.


Nobody needs to root for Obama to fail. He is managing that very ably on his own.

Friday, October 23, 2009

NATO Backs McChrystal In Afghanistan

Thom Shanker at the New York Times Reports that Nato backs General McChrystal’s strategy in Afghanistan.

BRATISLAVA, Slovakia - NATO defense ministers gave their broad endorsement Friday to the counterinsurgency strategy for Afghanistan laid out by Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, increasing pressure on the Obama administration and on their own governments to commit more military and civilian resources for the mission to succeed.

General McChrystal, the senior American and allied commander in Afghanistan, landed here early Friday to brief NATO defense ministers on his strategic review of an 8-year-old war in which the American-led effort has lost momentum to a tenacious insurgency. The closed-door session — which had not been disclosed in advance — added a note of drama to the sort of NATO ministerial meeting that is often mundane.

“What we did today was to discuss General McChrystal’s overall assessment, his overall approach, and I have noted a broad support from all ministers of this overall counterinsurgency approach,” said NATO’s secretary general, Anders Fogh Rasmussen.


We can hope that NATO will give Obama the needed courage to work towards winning in Afghanistan over choosing to lose.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Dancing with the Devil in the pale moonlight.

The problem with accepting the Devils coin is that you will end up dancing to the Devil's tune.

This is proving to be undeniably the case for those companies who have accepted a portion of the 2008 - $700 billion dollar bailout.

It was a Faustian deal. For a pittance, they have sold their corporate souls to the Obama Administration.

Now, day by day, instance by instance, they are discovering that they no longer own themselves. They no longer can decide for themselves what they should do, what is best for their company or what is best for their shareholders. Those decisions now belong to the occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave and his minions.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Obama administration plans to order companies that received huge U.S. government bailouts last year to sharply cut the compensation of their highest paid executives, according to a person familiar with the decision.

The seven companies that received the most assistance will have to cut the annual salaries of their 25 highest-paid executive by an average of about 90 percent from last year, said the person, who spoke on condition of anonymity because it has not been announced.

This person said Wednesday that the Treasury Department will announce the deep pay cuts within the next few days.

Kenneth Feinberg, the special master at Treasury appointed by Obama to handle compensation issues at the seven firms getting exceptional assistance from the government's $700 billion financial bailout package, is making the pay decisions.

The seven companies are: Bank of America Corp., American International Group Inc., Citigroup Inc., General Motors, GMAC, Chrysler and Chrysler Financial.

Total compensation for the top executives at the seven firms will decline, on average, by about 50 percent, according to the person familiar with the administration's decision.


Read these articles.

U.S. Said to Order Deep Pay Cuts at Bailed-Out Companies

Pay Czar to Slash Compensation at Seven Firms

US plans big pay cuts at bailout firms


Some people think that Fascism is when the corporations own the government. They have it back-ass-wards. In actuality, Fascism is when the government owns the corporations.

---

Have you ever danced with the Devil in the pale moonlight?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Bailing out small banks and small businesses.

Jim Kuhnhein reports on Obama's new push to have TARP cover small banks and small businesses. There is also some talk of extending the TARP program out to October of 2010.

Of course, the thing to worry about now is whether or not the small businesses and small banks that accept any of this bailout money will become subject to the same intimidation tactics that they feds have been playing against BofA.

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama wants smaller community banks to have greater access to the government's $700 billion financial rescue fund to assist small businesses that are still suffering from a prolonged credit crunch.

Obama on Wednesday plans to announce a package of initiatives designed to increase lending, including a request that Congress increase caps for existing Small Business Administration loans, the administration said.

The new effort comes as the administration is under pressure from liberals to shift the massive bailout fund's focus away from helping big financial institutions and toward homeowners and small businesses. But it also comes as Republicans press Obama to end the rescue program and use bank repayments to reduce the national debt


The trouble with this is that once you accept the Devil's coin, you have to dance to the Devil's tune.

BofA is a prime lesson in the problems with that.


[Hat Tip RealWest @ the Corresponce Committee]

Feds threaten to "fire" BofA Execs for balking at a bad deal.

The Washington Times reports on the strange dealings of the BofA/Merrill Lynch deal of 2008. There is something very rotten at the core of all of this.

Bank of America's acquisition of Merrill Lynch - and the government's role in the deal - are the subject of a hearing Thursday before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. Bank of America executives said they were told their top brass would be fired if they attempted to renegotiate their bid for Merrill by declaring what's known as a "material adverse change" (MAC) - a clause in their acquisition agreement that would allow them to walk away or renegotiate the price in light of Merrill's mounting losses.

"The Treasury and the Fed strongly stated that if we were to invoke the MAC clause and fail to close this transaction, they would remove the board and management due to the risk we would create in the system," according to draft talking points prepared by company attorneys for Mr. Lewis ahead of a Dec. 22, 2008, board meeting.


(Emphisis mine)

How does the Fed come to have the authority to fire the board and management of a private company?

If they can do this to BofA, who could resist them? (Calling Lord Acton . . .)


~~~

And remember, where you have a concentration of power in a few hands, all too frequently men with the mentality of gangsters get control. History has proven that.
- Lord Acton

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Internet Is Good For You!

A new study suggest that using the internet can help promote cognitive ability in the aged.

As the brain ages, a number of structural and functional changes occur, including atrophy, or decay, reductions in cell activity and increases in complex things like deposits of amyloid plaques and tau tangles, which can impact cognitive function.

Research has shown that mental stimulation similar to the stimulation that occurs in individuals who frequently use the Internet may affect the efficiency of cognitive processing and alter the way the brain encodes new information.

"We found that for older people with minimal experience, performing Internet searches for even a relatively short period of time can change brain activity patterns and enhance function," Dr. Gary Small, study author and professor of psychiatry at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at UCLA, said in a statement.


So give Grandma a computer for Christmas. If the frustration of working with Windows doesn't drive her to destroy it, it might help keep her mentally young.

A Nobel Prize-Winning Economist's Talks "Deflation"

While some are saying that the threat of deflation has been averted, others are saying saying the opposite.

Concerns about falling prices ran high last year. They've faded recently as consumer spending has stabilized, and many economists say the recovery likely has started. Charles Evans, head of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, declared last month: "Deflation has been averted."

Not so fast.

Columbia University's Joseph Stiglitz, a Nobel prize-winning economist, believes an extended bout of deflation is not only possible but likely.

"I think we are on the verge (of persistent deflation)," he says.


When nobody is buying, either because they are afraid to spend or they do not have anything to spend, prices can drop. They can even drop precipitously, causing an economic sinkhole to develop that can cause higher unemployment and larger profit losses.

A sour Christmas would be very bad.

A White Knuckle Christmas

Early indicators have some analyist predicting a grim Christmas.

This holiday season, don't be surprised if your gifts come from discount stores -- or if some of your friends don't buy you anything at all.

Lingering economic worries will cause holiday shoppers to trim budgets and look for more deals this year, according to a National Retail Federation survey to be released today. The survey found that U.S. consumers plan to spend an average of $682.74 on holiday shopping, a 3.2% drop from $705.01 last year.

The findings are in line with recent projections by numerous analysts and retail groups that call for a flat to negative Christmas season as consumers continue to worry about their jobs and finances.


The Grinch may steal this Christmas.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Normalizing high joblessness

One way to try to cope with a high rate of unemployment would be to change what is considered normal.
WASHINGTON - Even with an economic revival, many U.S. jobs lost during the recession may be gone forever and a weak employment market could linger for years.

That could add up to a "new normal" of higher joblessness and lower standards of living for many Americans, some economists are suggesting.

The words "it's different this time" are always suspect. But economists and policy makers say the job-creating dynamics of previous recoveries can't be counted on now.


Well yah. Socialism sucks.

Further in the article:

"Many factors are pushing against a quick recovery," said Heidi Shierholz, an economist at the labor-oriented Economic Policy Institute. "Things will come back. But it's going to take a long time. I think we will likely see elevated unemployment at least until 2014."

At best, many economists see an economic recovery without a return to moderate unemployment. At worst, they suggest the fragile recovery could lose steam and drag the economy back under for a double-dip recession.

"We will need to grind out this recovery step by step," President Barack Obama said earlier this month.

It is almost certainly too much to ask, but the folks in Washington D.C. could try getting the f[**]k out of the way and stop increasing the regulatory and tax burdens that they put on business. Businesses create jobs - regulation and taxation destroys them.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Jessica Watson's Big Advenure

Something grand in Australia's The Age.

TEEN sailor Jessica Watson left the marina yesterday to cheers of ''hip, hip hooray'' aboard her pink yacht, beginning her attempt to become the youngest person to circumnavigate the world
.

Such adventurers as this make all of our live richer.

We all could do such things ourselves.

Life IS worth living.

UPDATE

Check out Jessica's Blog.

Obama Dithers On Afganistan

Timesonline has an article up that discusses Obama's lack of leadership in Afghanistan.

IN Afghanistan they would call it a shura, the traditional tribal way of listening to elders’ views before reaching a consensus. In Washington, where President Barack Obama has now held five war councils, they are starting to call it dithering.

With another council on the Afghan war scheduled for this week, US officials admit it could be November before a decision is finally taken on whether to agree to General Stanley McChrystal’s request for more troops. One participant revealed that the protagonists have not yet discussed troop numbers.

Latest polls show a majority of Americans now disapprove of Obama’s handling of a war which may come to define his presidency. Many senior members of his own party are in open revolt.


Afghanistan seems to have transitioned in the mind of Democrats from "The Right War" to the "What War?"

These are dangerous times, made all the more dangerous by an indecisive, weak, and vacillating leader in Washington D.C. But then again, Obama is a Democrat, so it may silly to expect anything different from him.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Brazil's Olympic Drug Wars

It looks like Rio de Janeiro is on the brink of Marshal Law. Maybe things have calmed down for now, but this is not a good sign.

Rio de Janeiro has said no to an offer by the Brazilian federal government to send federal troops to police the city after Saturday's deadly confrontation between drug trafficking gangs and the military police that tried to intervene in the drug lords battle for better drug-selling spots in the Morro dos Macacos (Monkeys Hill) favela, in Vila Isabel, 6 miles from downtown Rio.

According to the authorities, the little war left 12 people dead, 10 criminals and two policemen. Saturday morning a police helicopter carrying four officers was shot by the drug dealers. The bullets hit the pilot's leg and the chopper propeller.

The pilot was able to land the helicopter in a soccer field from an Olympic Village nearby preventing a bigger tragedy had it crashed into a residential area. The chopper, however, caught fire and two of the military men were killed, the other two suffered minor burns.


The Olympics may prove to be very exciting.

Rush Versus “Unconstrained” Demagogues

Rush discusses the recent controversy over his attempt to purchase the St. Louis Rams.

As I explained on my radio show, this spectacle is bigger than I am on several levels. There is a contempt in the news business, including the sportswriter community, for conservatives that reflects the blind hatred espoused by Messrs. Sharpton and Jackson. "Racism" is too often their sledgehammer. And it is being used to try to keep citizens who don't share the left's agenda from participating in the full array of opportunities this nation otherwise affords each of us. It was on display many years ago in an effort to smear Clarence Thomas with racist stereotypes and keep him off the Supreme Court. More recently, it was employed against patriotic citizens who attended town-hall meetings and tea-party protests.

These intimidation tactics are working and spreading, and they are a cancer on our society.

For the unconstrained, justice is found in the result, not in the process.

The unconstrained are easily seduced into acting on a "the ends justify the means" way of thinking.

When a person believes that justice is dependent on the result, not on the process, they will think it “just” to change the rules and processes from one person to another depending on what result they have predetermined to best serve justice.

For the unconstrained, there is a natural preference for "the rule of men" over "the rule of law."

Friday, October 16, 2009

Here's A Health To The Company



Now sing along.

Here's A Health To The Company

Kind friends and companions come join me in rhyme
Come lift up your voices in chorus with mine
Come lift up your voices all grief to refrain
For we may or might never all meet here again

So here's a health to the company and one to my lass
Let's drink and be merry all out of one glass
Let's drink and be merry, all grief to refrain
For we may or might never all meet here again

Here's a health to the wee lass that I love so well
For style and for beauty there's none can excel
There's a smile on her countenance as she sits upon my knee
There is no man in in this wide world as happy as me

So here's a health to the company and one to my lass
Let's drink and be merry all out of one glass
Let's drink and be merry, all grief to refrain
For we may or might never all meet here again

Our ship lies at anchor, she is ready to dock
I wish her safe landing without any shock
And if ever I should meet you by land or by sea
I will always remember your kindness to me

So here's a health to the company and one to my lass
Let's drink and be merry all out of one glass
Let's drink and be merry, all grief to refrain
For we may or might never all meet here again

Joe "Beau" Biden III Considering A Run For The Senate

An ABC news Exclusive reports that Vice President Joe Biden's Son, "Beau," May run for his fathers old Senate seat.

After nearly a year-long tour in Iraq, Vice President Joe Biden's son, Joe "Beau" Biden III, said he is "absolutely" considering a run for the Senate seat his father occupied for 36 years.

"I'll be making the decision in due course," Biden, 40, told "Good Morning America" today in his first television interview since his return to Delaware last month amid speculation that he would make a bid for the seat.

One of a handful of elected officials to serve in Iraq since the U.S. led invasion in 2003, Biden took a leave of absence from his job as Delaware's attorney general to join his unit as a captain in the Judge Advocate General's Corps, or JAG.

The Senate race is shaping up to be a difficult one. The recent entry by Republican Rep. Mike Castle -- Delaware's only member of the House of Representatives and a popular former governor -- has complicated the outlook for Biden and transformed what was once seen as a safe Democratic seat into a toss-up.


I don't know much about the younger Biden. We will soon be given ample opportunities to learn more about him between now and the election.

I am a partisan. I think that it would be far batter if a Republican were to win that and nearly every other seat. I am however, in favor of Democrats putting up sane and respectable candidates. I hope that Joe "Beau" Biden III will be a refreshing shift away from the lunatic Pelosi type of Democrat that we have come to expect from the far left kook fringe party that the Democrats have become.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

And now for something completely different.

Syrah's Spicy Spaghetti Sauce

Meats
1 lbs hamburger
1 lbs ground pork (Hot Italian if you can find it.)

Vegetables
1 onion, large. (Mayan, but any sweet variety will work.)
1 (27 oz) can of El Pato Mexican Style Hot Tomato Sauce. (The is one brand name that is important in this recipe. This stuff will give it kick without being overbearing.)
2 (14.5 oz) cans of stewed tomatoes. (Preferably Italian style.)
1 (8 oz) carton of sliced mushrooms.
2 red bell peppers. (Red is better then green. Green bell peppers are a little bitter compared to the red, yellow or orange bell peppers. Use the Red, orange or Yellow bell peppers before you use the green ones.)
7 large, fat cloves of garlic. (There is "not enough garlic" and "enough garlic", but there is no such thing as "too much garlic.")

2 (6 oz) cans of tomato paste. (Hold these off for after the simmering phase.)

Spices
Olive Oil.
Thyme
Oregano
Marjoram
Basil
Rosemary
Sage.

Spices are to taste. My method is to just dump some in. Just be careful to not pour in the whole bottle. Be mindful that some of these spices are very strong,but don't be afraid of them either. This makes a very large pot of food. (The Olive Oil is used with the browning of the meats.)

Brown the meats in two separate skillets using some Olive Oil in the pans. (Enough to cover the bottoms of the pan. I am told that I use a lot. Use what you are comfortable with.) Olive Oil is a spice. Do Not use corn, vegetable or canola oil. Use Olive Oil. Its worth it.

When the meats are browned, mix them together in your main skillet or pot. (I use a very large dutch oven iron skillet. My brother uses a large soup pot. Both work well.)

Set the heat to simmer.

Add the spices.

Add the vegetables and the sauces. (Do not add the tomato paste yet. That comes later.)

Taste for spices. Add anything that you think is understated.

Cover and let simmer for 2 to 3 hours. Stir occasionally (at least every 15 minutes) to prevent it from burning on the bottom.

After simmering for 2 to 3 hours, add the two cans of tomato paste to the sauce. Stir them in. Let it simmer for another 15 minutes.

Serve over noodles.

I like to use Angle Hair pasta but any of the long noodles will do. Macaroni or even seashell pasta works as well.

This recipe will feed 8 people.


Cautions.

My idea of what constitutes “hot” may be different than yours. I grew up on Cali-Mex cooking. I like things that are hot and spicy. I think that this is one of my most “mild” spicy recipes. Your opinion may differ.

This is a very rich and greasy sauce. Some people may want to pour off or spoon off some of the grease that will rise to the top of the sauce. That is up to you. I think the grease is a big part of what makes this recipe satisfying. The fat content of this recipe makes it a good winter dish.

I do not cook with salt. I find the salt content is best modified to taste at the table with table salt.

If you use an iron skillet. Remove the sauce from the skillet ASAP after you cook the sauce. Iron and Tomato sauces do not get along well when let to sit.

The Middle East's Gulfnews.com Notes Clinton's Failure With Russia.

The following is from an Opinion piece posted at Gulfnews.com

Clinton's main task in Russia was to get the government to agree to prepare for effective sanctions, but she was rebuffed. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was very clear that any talk of sanctions was counter-productive. Clinton pointed out that Russian President Dmitry Medvedev expects Iran to implement its promises on its nuclear programme. But this was undermined later in the week by Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who warned against intimidating Iran.

Russia is playing its very weak hand well. Its economic position is dire as the oil price has collapsed from its previous record highs. However, Russia is a former superpower and still has nuclear weapons and so it is shown more respect by the Americans than what any other country in such a state would have got.


Weakness is a terrible thing to project. This will not be good for us.

Marty Peretz: Obama Was Taken For A Ride.

Marty Peretz discusses the Obama and Clinton failure with Russia.

And, no, Obama hasn’t reset the American relationship with Russia. He was taken for a ride. Maybe his vanity won’t let him admit it. But, believe me, the Russians know they have taken him (and us) for a big ride, indeed.

Here are the facts:

After Obama agreed to cancel the missile defense program for Poland and the Czech Republic, the president got Moscow to give him an inch. Maybe, they said, we’d have to move on tougher measures against Iran if Tehran doesn’t satisfy us on its nukes. “Hallelujah!” said the president and his entourage.

All of this good cheer is now over. Lavrov greeted Clinton in Moscow with the bad news: “At the current stage, all forces should be thrown at supporting the negotiating process. ... Threats, sanctions and threats of pressure in the current situation, we are convinced, would be counterproductive.”

Just before Hillary arrived in Moscow, she warned that America was impatient. With whom? With the Iranians, of course. But her impatience with Tehran will be useless unless we get impatient with Russia.

“We did not ask for anything today,” she said. “We reviewed the situation and where it stood, which I think was the appropriate timing for what this process entails.”

Of course, if you don’t ask, you don’t get. In fact, with the Russians, if you don’t demand and threaten a little, you get zero.


The world is less safe now that Obama is President.

Madeleine Albright: USA No Longer Intends To Be World's No.1 State

Pravda will sometimes print the truth.

Madeleine Albright said during the meeting that America no longer had the intention of being the first nation of the world.

Ms. Albright started her speech in Russian. “Hello and thank you! It’s a pleasure for me to be here,” she said in Russian. Albright wrote in her autobiography that she was trying to learn some Russian during the 1960s.

The former US Secretary of State surprised the audience with her speech. She particularly said that democracy was not the perfect system. “It can be contradictory, corrupt and may have security problems,” Albright said.

America has been having hard times recently, Albright said.

“We have been talking about our exceptionalism during the recent eight years. Now, an average American wants to stay at home – they do not need any overseas adventures. We do not need new enemies,” Albright said adding that Beijing, London and Delhi became a serious competition for Washington and New York.

“My generation has made many mistakes. We give the future into the hands of the young. Your prime goal is to overcome the gap between the poor and the rich,’ the former head of the US foreign political department said.


And the Obama Administration remains clueless on why the Russians are treating them with such contempt.

Democrats Versus Defense Spending.

Democrats have different priority's when it comes to what should be done with Defense Spending.

From the Washington Times.

Senators diverted $2.6 billion in funds in a defense spending bill to pet projects largely at the expense of accounts that pay for fuel, ammunition and training for U.S. troops, including those fighting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to an analysis.

Among the 778 such projects, known as earmarks, packed into the bill: $25 million for a new World War II museum at the University of New Orleans and $20 million to launch an educational institute named after the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, Massachusetts Democrat.


Elections matter.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

'Israel will attack Iran after December'

War is coming.

Israel is planning to carry out military attacks in Iran after December, a French magazine reported Thursday overnight.

According to a report in Le canard enchainé quoted by Israel Radio, Jerusalem has already ordered from a French food manufacturer high-quality combat rations for soldiers serving in elite units and also asked reservists of these units staying abroad to return to Israel.

The magazine reports further that in a recent visit to France, IDF Chief of General Staff Gabi Ashkenazi told his French counterpart Jean-Louis Georgelin that Israel is not planning to bomb Iran, but may send elite troops to conduct activities on the ground there.

These, according to the magazine, may involve sabotage to nuclear facilities as well as assassinations of top Iranian nuclear scientists


The Obama Administration has brought nothing to this but weakness and confusion.

Russia shut down the attempt to bring sanctions against Iran. Hilary Clinton was handed her hat in Moscow. She got nothing.

Prepare for a rough New Years.


Hat tip to Killian Bundy over at the Correspondence Committee.

Russia Roars, Washington Whimpers

Sanctions against Iran? Forgetabaoutit!

This is a staggering defeat for the Obama administration. Putin and Medvedev are eating Obama's and Clinton's lunch.

Russia now sets the agenda. Washington only reacts.

BEIJING (Reuters) - Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on Wednesday warned major powers against intimidating Iran and said that talk of sanctions against the Islamic Republic was "premature".

"There is no need to frighten the Iranians," Putin told reporters in Beijing.

"We need to look for a compromise. If a compromise is not found, and the discussions end in a fiasco, then we will see," he said, adding that talks of sanctions was "premature" at present.


So how about that?

Vladimir Putin is not about peace. He is about Hegemony. By playing Iran against the West and setting himself up as Iran's protector, Putin secures Russian dominance in the European political sphere. The result? - No defense systems for Eastern Europe, no hope for a free Georgia, the Ukraine is screwed and even better, oil prices will go up.

Barrack Obama and Hillary Clinton are so outclassed . . .

How is that Nobel Peace Prize working for you there Obama?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Kremlin Chess versus White House Tiddlywinks

The Russians are playing a deep game. Secretary Clinton and President Obama are no match.

Iran helps Russia more than it hurts it. Any talk of placing sanctions on Iran has to be considered in light of why Iran has support in the Kremlin.

Boris Morozov explains in the JPOST.

This is because Russia stands to benefit greatly from Iran's opposition vis-a-vis the United States and the United Nations Security Council, for two reasons: First, Iran is primarily a threat to Israel, Saudi Arabia and Turkey. This will increase regional tensions and strengthen Russia's position there. Good relations with Iran could position Russia as a mediator between these countries and the Islamic republic. For example, the recent cancellation of the deal to sell Iran anti-aircraft complexes was used to leverage Russia-Israel relations.

Second, Russia can use its relations with Iran as a bargaining chip in opposing the United States. The latest events demonstrate how, by changing its position toward sanctions, Russia achieved its goal: canceling the AMD program, despite its having been approved by the previous US administration.

Further, Russia isn't willing to forgo its economic relations with Iran. It benefits from the construction of a nuclear power station as it competes for supplying the necessary raw materials and supplies Iran with different types of weapons (including anti-aircraft), not to mention regular trade. This is probably one of the main reasons Russia is interested in preserving good relations with Iran.

Another factor worth mentioning is the issue of religion. Iran traditionally opposes radical Salafi Sunni Islamic movements such as that practiced by the Taliban and the Wahabiyya, which have become a serious threat in Russia's northern Caucasus area, especially Dagestan. These common enemies unite Russia and Iran.

Finally, Russia and Iran are both significant suppliers of oil to the world market. Every increase of political tension in the region influences oil prices, from which Russia can only gain. This is especially true during times of military conflict.


Obama's Nobel Peace Prize will not help him here. The Russians are not about peace. They are about hegemony.

~~~

Consider the above with the following. (Hat tip The Correspondence Committee.)

Georgia is training and lending safe passage to Al-Qaeda agents planning terrorist acts in the Russian Caucasus, the head of Russia's FSB secret service charged Tuesday.
"Audio evidence seized from insurgents shows that, together with emissaries of Al-Qaeda, they had contacts with representatives of the Georgian secret services," Alexander Bortnikov said, quoted by Russian news agencies.

Through these links, Georgia "participated in the training and transfer of terrorists to the territory of Chechnya," the FSB chief said.

Bortnikov also accused Tbilisi of supplying arms and funding terrorist activities in the neighbouring Caucasus region of Dagestan.

"They perpetually undertake to deliver weapons, explosives and financing for subversive acts on high security sites in Dagestan -- first and foremost on oil and gas pipelines," he said.


Russia will now leverage its belligerence against Georgia as another consideration in any negations concerning Iran.

Russia's "audio evidence" against Georgia should be treated with suspicion.

Will it be used as a pretext for another Russian assault on Georgia? Probably.

In negotiations, everything is always on the table. Always. Now Georgia has been put up on the table.

The Russians are playing a deep game.

The Obama administration might as well be playing tiddlywinks.

Sometimes, you just have to be willing to kill your enemies.

Something from one of the best essayists on the web, Bill Whittle. (If you have not yet heard of him, you should sit down and read through his archives.)

When the subject of Obama as a “peacemaker” comes up, people like Mary seem to think that the answer is to be nice and talk to people and the problem will go away. This is known as “mirroring,” and it is the blind spot that most people bring to negotiations — the idea that our opponents want the same things we do. In Afghanistan we are dealing with an enemy who insists on praying to Allah multiple times a day, who believes that women are subhuman, that homosexuals be killed on sight (preferably by crushing them under falling walls — look it up) and that any criticism of Allah, his Prophet (PBOH) or his clerics is punishable by beating or death. That is their IRREDUCIBLE CORE BELIEF SYSTEM and for that they are willing to die. We, on the other hand, believe in fundamental human dignity for all, the right to worship or not as we see fit, the right of women and homosexuals to live lives as equal members of society, and the fundamental right to say whatever we damn well choose. Those in turn are OUR IRREDUCIBLE CORE BELIEF SYSTEMS for which SOME of us are willing to fight and die.

Read the whole thing.
Hat tip to Pi Guy over at the Correspondence Committee.

~~~

Long ago, a University Professor I knew enjoyed shocking many of his students by making the observation that "Sometimes, you just have to be willing to kill your enemies."

In a civilized society, it is perhaps too easy for many people to forget that sometimes, it really may be necessary to fight for what is right, that sometimes, your enemy is not reasonable and cannot be dealt with like a reasonable adult.

Sometimes, it is either you, or him. Sometimes, you just have to be willing to kill your enemy.

The world is not a nice place. There are some very bad people in it. Worse yet, they may think that they and those like them are the good people of the world, while you and I are the bad people that need to be corrected or done away with.

They are not like us. They do not want the same things that we want. We are not compatible. When we meet them and when they meet us, there will be conflict. One side will prevail. just one.

Life is an existential struggle. There is no getting away from that fact.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Hugo Chavez Will make Barrack Obama pay dearly for the Nobel Peace Prize

Hugo Chavez only looks stupid. He is not stupid. His is response to Obama's hollow Nobel Peace Prize is proof of just how sharp he is.

Chavez, who has mixed praise for Obama personally with criticism of his government's "imperialist" policies, said he thought it was a mistake when he read the U.S. leader had won.

"What has Obama done to deserve this prize? The jury put store on his hope for a nuclear arms-free world, forgetting his role in perpetuating his battalions in Iraq and Afghanistan, and his decision to install new military bases in Colombia," Chavez wrote in a column.

"For the first time, we are witnessing an award with the nominee having done nothing to deserve it: rewarding someone for a wish that is very far from becoming reality."

Hugo Chavez knows American liberals like the back of his hand. He knows that they are suckers for the “victims lashing out” routine. He knows that if he sucked up to Obama, he would almost certainly get nothing for his efforts. But if he were to insult him, he could have Obama eating out of his hand.

An undeserved accolade has a high probability of backfire

Bob Schieffer has a sober take on Obama's Nobel Peace Prize.

And I would guess that no one at the White House was praying for the President to win the Nobel just yet.

Not because they are selfless, humble souls whose only goal is to help humanity, but because they are very good professional politicians who would know better than most of us that an undeserved accolade has a high probability of backfire.

For the record, I generally agree with the President's approach on foreign policy, but the Nobel Committee did him no favors by giving him the award before he had anything to show for his efforts.


The Nobel Committee has made a mockery of themselves, their award, and even of Barrack Obama.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

"This is another victory for Taliban"

The Taliban knows when they are winning.

Speaking by telephone from an undisclosed location, Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said the U.S. bombarded the outpost with airstrikes after leaving, as well as the local police headquarters.

"This means they are not coming back," Mujahid said. "This is another victory for Taliban. We have control of another district in eastern Afghanistan."

"Right now Kamdesh is under our control, and the white flag of the Taliban is raised above Kamdesh," Mujahid said.


Obama is losing the war in Afghanistan.

For The Lizards Who Have Asked "Why?"



Those Were The Days

Once upon a time there was a tavern
Where we used to raise a glass or two
Remember how we laughed away the hours
And dreamed of all the great things we would do

Those were the days my friend
We thought they'd never end
We'd sing and dance forever and a day
We'd live the life we choose
We'd fight and never lose
For we were young and sure to have our way.
La la la la...
Those were the days, oh yes those were the days

Then the busy years went rushing by us
We lost our starry notions on the way
If by chance I'd see you in the tavern
We'd smile at one another and we'd say

Those were the days my friend
We thought they'd never end
We'd sing and dance forever and a day
We'd live the life we choose
We'd fight and never lose
For we were young and sure to have our way.
La la la la...
Those were the days, oh yes those were the days

Just tonight I stood before the tavern
Nothing seemed the way it used to be
In the glass I saw a strange reflection
Was that lonely woman really me

Those were the days my friend
We thought they'd never end
We'd sing and dance forever and a day
We'd live the life we choose
We'd fight and never lose
For we were young and sure to have our way.
La la la la...
Those were the days, oh yes those were the days

Through the door there came familiar laughter
I saw your face and heard you call my name
Oh my friend we're older but no wiser
For in our hearts the dreams are still the same

Those were the days my friend
We thought they'd never end
We'd sing and dance forever and a day
We'd live the life we choose
We'd fight and never lose
For we were young and sure to have our way.
La la la la...
Those were the days, oh yes those were the days

Friday, October 9, 2009

What We Witnessed in the 1970s

Kudlow talks about the weak dollar.

We know that gold is soaring.

And we know the dollar is slumping. But, did you know that year-to-date, while the S&P 500 is up 18 percent—a great showing no doubt—gold is up even more.

The precious metal is up 21 percent. In other words, measured in true, gold-backed purchasing power, stocks have really done nothing this year. Zip. It is most disappointing.

I try to be optimistic about better earnings, a stock market rally and economic recovery. And I’m sticking to my guns. But what we’re seeing right now is pretty darn close to what we witnessed in the 1970s—the rise in gold and inflation really cuts into the stock market.


Kudlow is a supply-sider. His solution is to do what has worked in the past. Lower taxes and reduce Federal spending.

Fat chance that Obama will follow Kudlow's advice.

To Confront a Ruthless Adversary

The following is taken from Obama's remarks on having been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

And even as we strive to seek a world in which conflicts are resolved peacefully and prosperity is widely shared, we have to confront the world as we know it today. I am the Commander-in-Chief of a country that's responsible for ending a war and working in another theater to confront a ruthless adversary that directly threatens the American people and our allies.


That part sounds good. I am worried that he is only referring to Al Qaeda and is excluding the Taliban.

France Arrests Physicist for Suspected Qaeda Ties

News from the New York Times. It looks like one of the scientist working on the CERN Large Hadron Collider managed to get himself arrested.

James Gillies, a CERN spokesman, said the physicist was still registered as a member of the research team but had not been seen for some time. In a statement, the center said that he had worked as an analyst on projects involving its Large Hadron Collider, the world’s largest particle accelerator, since 2003, but that he was not an employee and his project would not have been of any use to terrorists.

“His work did not bring him into contact with anything that could be used for terrorism,” said the center’s statement, whose formal name is the European Organization for Nuclear Research. “None of our research has potential for military application, and all our results are published openly in the public domain.”


It seems that Al Qaeda ties are taken seriously in France.

Huzzah for France!

Communities versus Cults.

There is a difference.

Moon Dust and Nobel Peace Prizes

I woke this morning to the news that Nasa has bombed the moon and that Barrack Obama has Won the Nobel Peace Prize.

Reality is just so weird. My dreams last night seemed to be more solidly based on reality than what I was hearing over the radio.

To be fair, I had heard about the Moon Bombing before hand. Ironically, one of the first semi-political websites that I happened across long ago had campaigned for bombing the moon. The site advocated using Nukes over simple kinetic systems like what Nasa used today. Well, I guess you have to start somewhere. Today the moon, tomorrow, the Milky Way!!!

And so that leaves us the Nobel Peace Prize to consider.

What is it for again?

The awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to Barrack Obama has to be considered in light of the fact that it has also been awarded to Jimmy Carter and Yasser Arafat. In retrospect, I think I would have been surprised if Barrack Obama was not awarded the Nobel Peace Prize at some point. Barrack Obama is in fitting company with his winning of this award.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Foreshadows of Defeat

There are a number of stories in the MSM about Afghanistan recently. This is one in the New york Times. Obama's dithering and failure to support a "Win" strategy is having predicable results.


WASHINGTON — President Obama’s national security team is moving to reframe its war strategy by emphasizing the campaign against Al Qaeda in Pakistan while arguing that the Taliban in Afghanistan do not pose a direct threat to the United States, officials said Wednesday.

As Mr. Obama met with advisers for three hours to discuss Pakistan, the White House said he had not decided whether to approve a proposed troop buildup in Afghanistan. But the shift in thinking, outlined by senior administration officials on Wednesday, suggests that the president has been presented with an approach that would not require all of the additional troops that his commanding general in the region has requested.

It remains unclear whether everyone in Mr. Obama’s war cabinet fully accepts this view. While Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. has argued for months against increasing troops in Afghanistan because Pakistan was the greater priority, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates have both warned that the Taliban remain linked to Al Qaeda and would give their fighters havens again if the Taliban regained control of all or large parts of Afghanistan, making it a mistake to think of them as separate problems.


The Taliban must be destroyed. Their worldview is absolutist. An absolutist response is the only sane way to deal with them. Anything less is a Happy Rainbow Farting Unicorn fantasy.

There is also the problem of object lessons. The Taliban was instrumental in the 911 attacks. Such attacks need to be "punished" so severely that nobody would look at the result and think that they, and more importantly - their cause, could survive attacking us in a like manner or method. They must be taught to believe that thinking that such attacks could succeed is a dangerous and hopeless madness.

The Obama Administration is playing a dangerous game very badly.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

It's only money

A trillion here, a trillion there - and pretty soon you are talking about some real money.

WASHINGTON – The federal budget deficit tripled to a record $1.4 trillion for the 2009 fiscal year that ended last week, congressional analysts said Wednesday.

The Congressional Budget Office estimate, while expected, is bad news for the White House and its allies in Congress as they press ahead with health care overhaul legislation that could cost $900 billion over the next decade.


The inflation that will follow will be ugly.

Boeing's troubles.

The following is from an article in the Oct. 7th Seattle Times. In the news stands, it is the "above the fold" story.

Richard Aboulafia, an aviation analyst with the Teal Group, said the common denominators for the two delayed jet programs are a lack of adequate project-management expertise and a shortage of engineering resources.

"There were an awful lot of good people retired after 2000," Aboulafia said. "That, coupled with the decision to outsource major chunks of engineering requirements to suppliers and partners, seems to have resulted in a severe talent shortage and a loss of tribal knowledge."


The population is aging. The economy is in terrible condition. The problems with the “loss of tribal knowledge” is something interesting to be mindful of in the coming years as more and more people leave the workforce in every sector due to either retirement or layoffs.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Autumnal Magic

Fallen leaves, scattering in the wind.

Shimmering sparkles of the harvest moon dancing on the rippling sea.

Restless breezes, chilled with the setting of the sun.