Friday, February 11, 2011

9,999th DailyBrisk Post...From Paris

This would take courage

Ski Flying Record Smashed on World’s Longest Ramp

The view from the top of Vikersundbakken, 440 feet off the ground.

Well, that didn’t take long.

Vikersundbakken, standing 135 meters (440 feet) high off the ground, opened this week in southern Norway as the world’s largest ski flying hill (at 225 meters long), capable of jumps up to 250 meters (820 feet) and beyond. The world record for the largest ski flying jump had stood since 2005, since Norway’s Bjorn Einar Romøren jumped flew some 239 meters at Slovenia’s Planica hill, which had been the record-holding site in some form since the mid-1980s.

Until today, when that mark was obliterated by 25-year-old Norwegian ski flying up-and-comer Johan Remen Evensen on the very first day Vikersundbakken was open for rehearsal jumps.

POLICE: Illegal alien ordered deported 10 years ago kills 3...

MANASSAS, Va. – A Salvadoran man has been charged with three counts of murder in a series of shootings in a Virginia suburb of Washington, authorities said Friday.

Jose Oswaldo Reyes Alfaro, an illegal immigrant who was ordered deported to El Salvador a decade ago but never left, was charged in the pair of attacks just blocks apart Thursday night that left three people dead and three others injured, Manassas Police Chief Doug Keen said.

Inflation and Unemployment. From Jim.

Two years ago, Barack Obama was inaugurated as president of the United States .

Are you better off today than you were two years ago? Numbers don't lie, and here are the data on the impact he has had on the lives of Americans:


January 2009


% chg


Avg. Retail price/gallon gas in U.S.





Crude oil, European Brent (barrel)





Crude oil, West TX Inter. (barrel)





Gold: London (per troy oz.)





Corn, No.2 yellow, Central IL





Soybeans, No. 1 yellow, IL





Sugar, cane, raw, world, lb. Fob





Unemployment rate, non-farm, overall





Unemployment rate, blacks





Number of unemployed





Number of fed. Employees, ex. Military (curr = 12/10 prelim)





Real median household income (2008 v 2009)





Number of food stamp recipients (curr = 10/10)





Number of unemployment benefit recipients (curr = 12/10)





Number of long-term unemployed





Poverty rate, individuals (2008 v 2009)





People in poverty in U.S. (2008 v 2009)





U.S. Rank in Economic Freedom World Rankings





Present Situation Index (curr = 12/10)





Failed banks (curr = 2010 + 2011 to date)





U.S. Dollar versus Japanese yen exchange rate





U.S. Money supply, M1, in billions (curr = 12/10 prelim)





U.S. Money supply, M2, in billions (curr = 12/10 prelim)





National debt, in trillions





Just take this last item:  In the last two years we have accumulated national debt at a rate more than 27 times as fast as during the rest of our entire nation's history.  Over 27 times as fast!  Metaphorically, speaking, if you are driving in the right lane doing 65 MPH and a car rockets past you in the left lane 27 times faster . . . It would be doing 1,755 MPH!  This is a disaster!


(1) U.S. Energy Information Administration; (2) Wall Street Journal; (3) Bureau of Labor Statistics; (4) Census Bureau; (5) USDA; (6) U.S. Dept. Of Labor; (7) FHFA; (8) Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller; (9) RealtyTrac; (10) Heritage Foundation and WSJ; (11) The Conference Board; (12) FDIC; (13) Federal Reserve; (14) U.S. Treasury

BMW’s Vision Of The Roadster Future


Between Nissan’s Esflow concept and this BMW Vision ConnectedDrive concept, it’s becoming pretty clear that “clean fun” is the theme of the forthcoming Geneva Auto Show. But BMW isn’t just signaling the production look of its EfficientDynamics sportscar… the Vision ConnectedDrive also demonstrates BMW’s dedication to managing the coming information overload created by ever more technologically-dependent automobiles. Autocar reports:

BMW knows that the day is rapidly approaching when on-board sensors will deliver so much data to the driver that innovative ways are needed to present the information so it can be absorbed and acted upon quickly.

Intended to replace the conventional instrument cluster, the next-gen HUD will display info like road speed and sat-nav directions in three-dimensions.

This tech allows different information layers to be superimposed on top of one another, in turn allowing the driver to display the required data in the foreground, while ghosting less significant info into the background.

By providing this ‘optical depth of field’, BMW reckons it can provide the driver with multiple additional information sources without having to redesign a car’s fascia to take an additional display screen.

Now that Egypt is done, time for a cold one

Beer Great for Heart Health and Kidney Stones

When most people think of heart-healthy beverages, they think of red wine. But new evidence from the American Dietetic Association (ADA) shows that beer has a great deal of nutrition and heart benefits as well, according to an article published in ADA Times.

“Red wine enjoys a reputation for sophistication and health benefits, but as interest in artisan brewing gains momentum and emerging research reveals unique nutrition properties, beer is finding redemption not only as a classy libation with deep roots in many cultures, but as a beverage with benefits,” said registered dietitian and ADA spokesperson Andrea Giancoli in a news release.

The article comes out just in time for American Heart Month, which raises awareness of cardiovascular disease, the leading cause of death in the United States. One in three adults has some form of heart disease, and many can be prevented by healthier food choices.

Giancoli said that moderate consumption of beer has shown to increase HDL cholesterol (good), lower LDL cholesterol (bad), and reduce the risk of blood clots. It also lowers the risk of gallstones and type 2 diabetes.

“Beer specifically has been associated with additional health outcomes, including lowering the risk of kidney stones in men compared to other alcoholic beverages, possibly due to its high water content and diuretic effect,” Giancoli said. “Compounds in hops may also slow the release of calcium from bone that is implicated in kidney stones. Additionally, beer drinkers seem to have a more protective effect towards greater bone mineral density due to the high content of silicone in beer.”

February 11th

MUBARAK has resigned.

UPDATE: Interestingly, the Shah of Iran was also forced out on February 11. Let’s hope this isn’t an omen.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Military coup. On Facebook, lawprof Eric Muller comments: “It’s interesting, and to this American pair of eyes a bit odd, to see a nation cheering deliriously at the prospect of military control of the government.”

Things Could Get Worse for Troubled Stealth Jet

Delays. Cost increases. Parts failures resulting in one model being placed on sudden-death probation. It’s been a rough couple years for the nearly $400-billion Joint Strike Fighter, the biggest program in U.S. military history. And according to aviation reporter extraordinaire Bill Sweetman, things could still get a lot worse: even higher costs, more delays and increasing stress on a rapidly-aging fighter fleet.

In a series of posts (here, here and here) at the excellent Ares blog, Sweetman recaps all the recent twists and turns in F-35 development — few of them positive for taxpayers, the Pentagon or JSF lead builder Lockheed Martin. “In short, the JSF program has gone six to nine months backwards in just over two years,” Sweetman summarizes. In the same period, he adds, the cost of the jet’s development — never mind planned production of around 3,000 copies — has increased by “$21 billion or 61 percent.”

Originally, F-35s were scheduled to enter service starting in 2012. Now, the first squadrons will be combat-ready by 2016 at the earliest.

Tenured Law Prof (Former Tax Lawyer) Convicted of Failing to File Tax Returns

National Law Journal, Law professor, a Former Tax Attorney, Convicted for Failing to File Tax Returns:

Magee A Minnesota jury has found a Hamline University School of Law professor guilty of four misdemeanor counts of failing to file state tax returns.
Prosecutors alleged in their criminal complaint that Robin Kimberly Magee told investigators she didn't understand tax law — a claim reiterated during court testimony, according to a report from The St. Paul Pioneer Press. However, Magee's Hamline biography says that she practiced both tax law and criminal before teaching at the law school. ...

NY real estate to fall in value, particularly vacation properties.

Court: NY Can Tax All Income of Owner of NY Vacation Home Used 17 Days/Year
Wall Street Journal, Out-of-State Owners Could Face Tax Bill:

Connecticut and New Jersey residents with a Hamptons summer cottage or a Manhattan pied-a-terre are about to get a nasty surprise: New York state wants more taxes from them.

A New York court ruled last month that all income earned by a New Canaan, Conn., couple is subject to New York state taxes because they own a summer home on Long Island they used only a few times a year. They have been hit with an additional tax bill of $1.06 million. [In re Barker, No. 822324 (NY Tax App. Jan. 13, 2011).] ....

For years, New York law stated that residents of another state who spend more than 183 days a year in New York have to pay taxes on any income they make in this state. But they generally haven't had to pay New York taxes on income they make outside of the state or on their spouses' income if they work elsewhere.

Under the recent ruling, this might change for many out-of-state residents who own vacation homes or apartments here. In effect, it reinterprets what counts as a permanent residence.

In defining a "permanent place of abode," New York tax code specifically excludes "a mere camp or cottage, which is suitable and used only for vacations." New York tax experts say the new ruling is the first they recall that counts summer homes as permanent residences. ....

[The judge] ruled that the couple's Long Island vacation home qualifies under the law as a permanent abode because it was suitable for living year-round—whether or not the couple actually stayed in the home wasn't relevant. Under the ruling, if an owner doesn't spend a single a day in a home it could still count toward a permanent residence.

Exercise for fat kids help.

Regular exercise improves thinking and planning ability of overweight, previously inactive children, Georgia Health Sciences University researchers report

And the more they exercised, the better the result. Intelligence scores increased an average 3.8 points in those exercising 40 minutes per day after school for three months with a smaller benefit in those exercising 20 minutes daily.

Making hard choices is the path to success

Newsweek and Washington Post columnist Robert Samuelson is the best economics writer in the mainstream media today. He nearly always gets things right, and has the numbers to back it up.

His column this week on Reagan and inflation is right to draw our attention to an aspect of the Reagan story that has tended to be overlooked during Reaganpalooza, namely that Reagan's steadfast backing of Paul Volcker's campaign to wring inflation out of our economy as a crucial accomplishment, and one that few if any other presidents would have had the stomach to see through:

No other possible president at the time, Democrat or Republican, would have so steadfastly supported Volcker. Reagan faced enormous pressure from both Republicans and Democrats to push the Fed to relent. He was vilified in the press; his approval rating fell to 35 percent. Reagan and Volcker, though lacking a close personal relationship, did share a common conviction: America could not thrive with high inflation. "Unlike some of his predecessors," Volcker later remarked, "he had a strong visceral aversion to inflation."

Without Reagan, Volcker would have failed. But this story confounds the preferred narratives of both liberals and conservatives. The lesson liberals draw (and urge Obama to imitate) is that Reagan's political success reflected his optimistic presidential stagecraft. It wasn't policy, it was presentation. Wrong. Reagan earned his success the hard way -- by backing policies that, though initially unpopular, served the nation's long-term interests. That's called leadership, a quality Obama has yet to demonstrate.

DailyBrisk’s budget suggestions. 1. Close the Post Office. Paper is passé and expensive to haul. Email, FedEx and UPS can handle it. 2. Stop $$ to NPR and PBS. Both were funded to help diversity when their were few channels. We now have 700 TV channels and most people listen to radio in their car on on their computers. 3. Defund Amtrack. If planes are faster and cheaper, why are we using trains? 4. Everyone pays some income tax. You live here you pay something. Even $100 a year gives everyone a stake. 5. Close the Dept of Ed. Test scores have gone down steadily since it began. It does not work and is captured by the teacher’s unions. Leave education at the local level where parents can oversee it.

Way better than a flashlight

This Fully Waterproof Headlamp Will Make an Adventurer Out of Anyone

Up 100 lumens of illumination, distance and strobe modes, red LEDs to preserve night vision, and a fully waterproof body. Yes, the Black Diamond Storm is an oddly appealing sounding headlight.

It's so appealing in fact, that I'm almost tempted to order one for $40 and find a cave to explore right now.

Europe is again ahead of us.

In a Radical Change of Policy, Holland Dumps Green Energy for Nuclear Power

In a radical change of policy, the Netherlands is reducing its targets for renewable energy and slashing the subsidies for wind and solar power. It's also given the green light for the country's first new nuclear power plants for almost 40 years.

Why the change? Wind and solar subsidies are too expensive, the Financial Times Deutschland , reports.

Boating News

64-Year-Old Kayaker Completes Trans-Atlantic Voyage

These days, thanks to technological advancements in air and sea travel, crossing the Atlantic is usually no big deal. But crossing the Atlantic by yourself in a kayak? Now that’s still something worth celebrating.

Aleksander Doba, a 64-year-old native of Poland, took off from Dakar, capital of the west African nation of Senegal, back on Oct. 26. After 98 days, 23 hours, 42 minutes at sea, Doba and his custom 23-foot-long, 39-inch-wide human-powered kayak landed at Acaraú, a city on Brazil’s northeast coast. The trip covered some 3,320 miles in all, and Doba became only the fourth known person to accomplish such a feat, and the very first to do it nonstop.

Food news

Kraft says more price increases ahead. “As one of the world’s largest food companies, Kraft is feeling the pinch from higher costs for wheat, corn, sugar and other commodities.”

U.N. Food Agency Issues Warning on China Drought.

China has been essentially self-sufficient in grain for decades, for national security reasons. Any move by China to import large quantities of food in response to the drought could drive international prices even higher than the record levels recently reached.

“China’s grain situation is critical to the rest of the world — if they are forced to go out on the market to procure adequate supplies for their population, it could send huge shock waves through the world’s grain markets,” said Robert S. Zeigler, the director general of the International Rice Research Institute in Los Baños, in the Philippines.

VICTOR DAVIS HANSON: The Obama Doctrine At Play In Egypt.

“All the above said, the actual implementation reflects somebody with the experience of two years in the Senate, who had never navigated outside of academia and Chicago tit-for-tat politics. So Mubarak is/is not a dictator, must leave now/yesterday/sometime soon as he serves as sort of a figurative leader/a critical transition player/a suspicious counter-revolutionary inasmuch as the U.S. must lay down conditions/advise only/respect Egyptian prerogatives, as private conversations with Egyptians are spilled to the press, Obama suggests the Cairo desire for freedom somehow channels his own support, and Biden, Clinton, and Obama contradict one another hourly. This is very sad.”

The telling little signs.

IN EGYPT, mob civility. “To see men and women voluntarily picking up trash in a country where the streets are generally regarded as a public landfill and people often throw bags of food remains out of their moving cars is astounding.”

February has produced more Presidents than any other month…no way…

Happy Birthday, Sarah Palin!

Ski Helmets

A recent study concluded that general head injury was reduced by 35% when ski helmets were used and this rose to 59% for children under 13. "Wearing a ski helmet seems to make sense to prevent head injuries in all age groups," say the authors.

This makes sense if Bernanke is intentionally causing inflation.


Fed Governor Resigns; Bernanke Adviser Questioned Stimulus...

Europe is united on this point.

Sarkozy: Multiculturalism has failed...

Gee, could the two be tied?


Oprah seems to be in free fall. Perhaps she could discover a long lost sister…or something.
OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network Ratings Keep Falling; Now Well Below Discovery Health Women 25-54 Averages


In its fifth full week of programming (1/31-2/6), OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network was down 17% vs. last week with last week among women 25-54 in total day (40,000 vs. 48,000), and down 34% among women 25-54 in primetime (54,000 vs. 82,000).

OWN is now well below last year’s women 25-54 averages for Discovery Health . OWN replaced Discovery Health which averaged 51,000 W25-54 Total Day, and 84,000 W25-54 in Prime Time during 2010.

How bad is US Intelligence?

Panetta’s comment on Mubarak stepping down was based on … media reports


Unless your name is Robert Redford, this is not 'classy' ...From Paris