Adrift At Sea....


Posted on : 6/10/2010 05:20:00 PM | By : Dann | In : ,

As my regular readers know, I have been following a series of 'round the world sailors on their voyages.  The first was Zac Sunderland who briefly held the title of "youngest sailor, solo circumnavigation".  Mike Perham of the UK relieved him of that title a short time later.

A few weeks ago, Jessica Watson of Australia took the big prize with "youngest sailor, solo circumnavigation, non-assisted, non-stop". 

Zac's sister, Abby Sunderland had set out a few months ago with the objective of relieving Miss Watson of that title.  The "non-assisted" and "non-stop" portion of that quest died in South Africa when she was forced to stop for repairs.  She left South Africa intent on acquiring the "youngest sailor, solo circumnavigation" title.

We have learned today that Miss Sunderland is now missing in the southern Indian Ocean.  The two most recent communications have been from emergency beacons.  One beacon can only be activated manually, so we know that she is still alive.  Fortunately, a third beacon that broadcasts in the event that her boat goes 15 feet below the water's surface has remained silent.

Search and rescue attempts are under way.  Fortunately, she is well equipped with safety gear and adrift in a boat meant to survive in the open ocean.  Unfortunately, the Indian Ocean is a large, empty, and dangerous place.

This report from ABC suggests in its title the unnecessarily pessimistic idea that she is lost at sea.  There are boats that are currently 40 hours from her location.  She has enough food and water to easily last that long.  She is in a boat that is designed to stay afloat in spite of major hull damage.

I suppose it would have been too much to ask for an expression of hope from the media instead of foreboding of disaster.

Miss Sunderland's family knew the risks when she left.  From an earlier report on her journey:

"Could there be a tragedy?" MaryAnne Sunderland said. "Yeah, there could be. But there could be a tragedy on the way home tonight, you know, or driving with her friends in a car at 16. You minimize the risks."

I can appreciate the perspective expressed by Jesse Martin, another former "youngest sailor, solo circumnavigation".

"If I never came back it would not have been a tragedy ... a tragedy would be someone who dies at 80 and spent 80 years not being satisfied," Martin said in the documentary. "I was out there doing what I wanted."

How one spends...and potentially's life matters.

Miss Watson's perspective is also right on the mark.

"I am actually going to disagree with what our prime minister just said," Jessica told the crowd of well-wishers. "I don't consider myself a hero. I am an ordinary girl who believed in a dream. You don't have to be someone special to achieve something amazing. You just have to have a dream, believe in it and work hard."

I will add only that it is truly sad that we have arrived at a point where children are so protected, so cloistered, that they not only fail to dare to dream big dreams, they don't even know that such big dreams exist.  In a world that gives a ribbon to everyone for participating, we often forget that there are much loftier goals out there that few will attempt and even fewer will conquer.

Zac and Jesse and Jessica and Mike and even young Abby are a refreshing revolt against the idea that safety and mediocrity are more desirable than seeking to master large goals and coming up short.

I dearly hope that Abby will be rescued from whatever trouble that has cut her trip short.  I also hope that, after some rest and recuperation, she makes another attempt.  Of course by then she won't be able to include "youngest" in her list of sailing accomplishments.  That is only one category with so many, many more remaining.

An Update:

Abby is fine.  Her boat is afloat, but the rigging is down.  Rescuers will be there in about a day.

An Unusual Fascination


Posted on : 6/10/2010 05:00:00 PM | By : Dann | In : , , , , ,

As someone who it critical of America's fear of nipples, I naturally take note whenever breasts enter the American political consciousness.  It appears that Sarah Palin's critics have turned their attention downward; south of her chin and north of her navel.  The question currently occupying their little minds?  Are Mrs. Palin's prominently perky pair purely the product of her progeniture or has she opted to fan her fame with phony foobies made of flubber[1]

I suspect that her critics are just trying to make boobs of themselves.

Tigerhawk adds some perspective.

First, does the left enhance -- and I use the word advisedly -- its appeal among the electorate by suggesting that we ought to ridicule women for getting breast implants? The boobery need no further reminder that the left disdains their sense of aesthetic, but if liberals want to beat them over the head with it, fine. This may, in the end, be Palin's greatest contribution to conservative political fortunes: She suckers the chattering left in to reminding everybody that they are, well, snots.
 [1] Yes, I know I'm reaching.

I'm Not Impressed


Posted on : 6/10/2010 01:11:00 PM | By : Dann | In : , , ,

Recent calls for a more 'emotional' response to the leaking BP oil well from Mr. Obama have been and remain inappropriate.  An effective leader solves problems.  An effective leader also motivates with emotion.  Despite all that Hollywood has to say on the is a rare occasion when an effective leader can solve problems with emotional displays.  The article from the NYTimes puts is succinctly.

So maybe we should just accept that we’re stuck with a presidential system — and with a ruminative and slightly boring president who tries to solve problems rather than fulminate about them.

Recent indications of Mr. Obama seeking the proper ass to kick have denigrated the office of the Presidency.  They haven't done much for Mr. Obama personal reputation either.

There are a lot of fingers to be pointed.....   
  • at BP for their screwy well design
  • at the Bush administration for not ensuring that the regulators were regulating
  • at the Obama administration for not replacing the Bush administration regulators
  • etc.

We do not need an emo-in-chief.  We need a leader.  We also need to understand that the lack of a passionate display does not necessarily mean a lack of caring. 

It was that way before 2009.  It remains that way after 2009.

Now We Know...


Posted on : 6/10/2010 10:35:00 AM | By : Dann | In : , , ,

Just in case there is any doubt left regarding the intent of the now defunct ACORN's voter registration initiative, now we know.

The intent was to aid and abet voter fraud to the greatest degree possible.

The documents include handwritten notes from FBI investigators interviewing canvassers working with Project Vote, an ACORN affiliate. Among the highlights from the FBI handwritten notes:
The sad part is that the Obama administration closed the investigation rather the pursuing these criminals with the urgency that such crimes require.

A cover up for ACORN.  A cover up for the Black Panthers.

Barack Obama - potentially the left's electoral equivalent of Richard Nixon?

Israel Did What?


Posted on : 6/08/2010 08:00:00 PM | By : Dann | In : ,

Most people should be aware of the recent attempt to break the Israeli blockade of Gaza.  There appears to be two narratives to those events.  I'll restrain from any of the more obvious identifiers.

It may be worthwhile to read a report filed by a Kuwaiti reporter regarding those events.

"The Israeli navy gave repeated warnings to the ships [of the flotilla], which tried to break the blockade on the terroristic Hamas movement in Gaza, and also invited them to enter the Ashdod port and unload their cargo of 'aid' supplies, so it could be thoroughly examined by the security [forces] before being delivered by land to the Gaza Strip. When the flotilla failed to heed these warnings and requests, the Israeli navy had no choice but to take over the ships. [In doing so], the IDF troops encountered violent [opposition] that had been planned in advance: the flotilla participants assaulted them with firearms, metal pipes, knives and clubs, and grabbed the rifle of one of the soldiers. The weapons had clearly been prepared in advance... and the soldiers had no choice but to respond, including with live fire.

"The Israeli navy operation was conducted according to orders and instructions of the highest political echelons, [and aimed at] stopping the ships and keeping them from breaching the naval blockade and reaching Gaza. The warning message sent by the Israeli navy [to the Mavi Marmara] was as follows: 'To the captain of the [Mavi] Marmara: You are approaching an area of hostilities, which is under a naval blockade. The Gaza coastal area and Gaza Harbor are closed to maritime traffic. We invite you to enter the Ashdod port, from whence the aid supplies will be delivered through the formal land crossing [to Gaza], after which you can return to your home ports."[2] It should be noted that, according to the 1993 Oslo Accords, Israel retains control of a 40-kilometer strip of water off the Gaza coast."
At the end of the article is the response to the invitation to offload the aid supplies in Ashdod.
"Negative, negative. Our destination is Gaza."
Kabuki theater at its finest.

Everyone Is Smart At Something?


Posted on : 6/08/2010 07:48:00 PM | By : Dann | In : ,

I guess some folks just aren't good at economics.

Who is better informed about the policy choices facing the country—liberals, conservatives or libertarians? According to a Zogby International survey that I write about in the May issue of Econ Journal Watch, the answer is unequivocal: The left flunks Econ 101.
I'm not real keen on the use of gratuitous pejoratives to describe other groups.  We libertarians take more than our fair share of dirt in that regard.

And I think I would challenge the bias of the survey.  The questions were somewhat loaded to get a particular response.  More enlightened respondents might have more readily acknowledged that increased regulatory burdens must increase business costs and thus increase the costs to consumers.  The question is whether or not those increased costs result in other benefits to citizens.

Mandating the use of pollution control equipment on smoke stacks keeps our air clean.  There are obvious costs and obvious benefits.

Mandating state licensing of barbers restricts the number of new barbers.  Moderate competitive protections for existing service providers increases costs while occasionally providing negligible public benefits.

At the same time, the story does highlight one of the troubles with engaging some leftists in a conversation about sound public policy.  For some people, the word "corporate" is synonymous with "evil", "corrupt", and a host of other pejoratives.  The same folks generally do not understand that government regulations cost money and that it is consumers that end up paying for those regulations in the end.

This is the group that advocates a luxury tax on yachts and jewelry and then is surprised when American yacht builders lay off their workers and close their doors.  Then they complain when yacht building businesses blossom all across the Caribbean. 

Some level of regulation is clearly needed in the world.  There is no level of regulation that will result in the fantasy world that the economically illiterate believe will result from just the right level of stifling regulations and confiscatory taxation.  A modest amount of economics literacy would make it easier to discuss the former and dismiss the latter.

Where Were The Protests?


Posted on : 6/08/2010 07:29:00 AM | By : Dann | In : , , , ,

One of the current criticisms of the Tea Party folks that drives me nuts is when people ask why the Tea Party folks didn't protest George W. Bush when he was creating the initial round of bailouts.

Who knew?

At the time we were treated to all sorts of economic horror stories.  Free market economies experience recessions.  The are an unpleasant but necessary part of any healthy, growing economy.  The only way to experience the boom is to have the bust.  It is hard to defend free markets in the middle of a deep recession.  You get called all sorts of ugly names.

Who knew that the problems at AIG might have been addressed some other way?

Who knew that healthy banks would snap up the bankrupt ones right away?

Who knew that Morgan Stanley Goldman Sachs and many European banks would benefit from Congressional largess?

Who knew that part of the problem was federal regulators with the authority to stop the worst abuses were actually spending their time downloading porn?  On Mr. Bush's watch, in case you weren't paying attention.

We were faced with "do this and do it now or else".  Who knew that there were other options?

The ugly fact of the matter is that recessions come and go.  And while some small portion of the money spent in the early days of the recession might have been defensible, the larger part of that money has been summarily wasted.  We would have a healthier economy now if we had simply let the contraction continue until the markets really stabilized.  At least then we would know where we were.

As of right now, we sit with a hole of unknown depth below us as we wait for the next over inflated market to collapse to its true value.

Seven Years Later


Posted on : 6/06/2010 12:03:00 PM | By : Dann | In : ,

And it seems that information supporting the conclusion that Iraqi WMDs went to Syria continues to flow.

Much more evidence exists that the WMD went to Syria, as documented here. Obviously, it is impossible to prove and we do not know exactly what went to Syria, but the history books on this issue shouldn’t be written just yet.
One of the most significant issues that Mr. Bush faced was the cadre of State Department and CIA officers that were using their positions to undermine the administration's objectives.  If they could no longer support our government's stated objectives, then the only correct option was to resign, or perhaps to transfer to the Department of Agriculture.

In any case, I hope the quest for truth won't be overwhelmed by rhetoric.  We need to way or the other....what materials went to Syria.