Wednesday, 3 August 2011

By on August 3rd, 2011 in culture, government, politics

08:36 – The Euro crisis is now in the end game, with everything worse than it was just before the crisis summit at the end of last month. Italian and Spanish bond yields have hit record highs, remaining above 6% all week. The Spanish government is on the way out, with early elections called for November, which is much too late to matter. Spain will have defaulted before the new government is even elected. Italy is on the verge of requesting a gigantic bailout, which the ESFS has neither the authority nor the means to grant. And tomorrow Spain will auction more of its worthless bonds, with the yields expected to be even more disastrous than those of the last couple of weeks. Meanwhile, tiny Cyprus is the latest EU country to join the Bailout Brigade, mainly because it was foolish enough to hold a lot of Greek bonds. Well, that, and the fact that it accidentally blew up its only electric power plant by improperly storing tons of explosives right next to it. Talk about shooting themselves in the foot.

Someone asked me why I keep harping on bond yields. It’s simple. The US currently pays about $200 billion per year in interest on its debt. Italy, whose population is about a fifth that of the US and whose debt is approaching $3 trillion (120%+ of GDP), has huge amounts of debt coming due in the near future. If Italy had to roll over all of that debt at current bond yields, it would be paying about the same dollar amount per year on its debt as the US is paying on its debt. In other words, at $200 billion per year, US interest payments amount to about $660 per year for every man, woman, and child. At the same level, Italian interest payments would amount to about $3,300 per year for every Italian man, woman, and child. Now, of course, not all of that debt is due to roll over soon, but enough of it is that the increased interest payments that would be required at current bond yields are sufficient to bankrupt Italy.

The Spanish situation is a bit different. Spain has a much lower debt load than Italy, but Spain also has structural unemployment that’s optimistically stated to be 21%. In reality, of course, it’s much higher, particularly among young Spaniards. So Spain suffers a double whammy. All those unemployed people aren’t earning salaries and paying taxes, and all of them require social spending, which further hammers the poor Spanish treasury. And Spain, like Italy, can no longer borrow on the open markets because no one wants its bonds.


09:17 – This article, which focuses on one young formerly middle-class Greek family, makes clear how bad things have already gotten in Greece. The husband is a mechanical engineer who considers himself lucky to have occasional work picking fruit for €29.45 a day. His wife, a chemical engineer, finds occasional work selling toilets and flowers. They can’t afford to pay the rental for an apartment, so they’ve moved into his parents’ apartment, displacing his parents to the vacant shop next door. Even getting enough to eat is a problem. And they consider themselves lucky, because they’re in better shape than most. Greece is already well on its way to joining the third world, and it’s only going to get worse.


10:14 – As my regular readers know, I consider same-sex marriage to be a basic human right. The religious nutters would have us believe that allowing same-sex marriage would inevitably destroy society. Well, here are two married lesbians, Hege Dalen and Toril Hansen, who are rightly being acclaimed heroines in Norway. While the police dithered, these women took immediate action at severe risk to their own lives to rescue 40 of the kids on the island. They were having dinner on the mainland when they heard shooting and screams from the youth camp on the island. Most people would have called the police and considered their duty done. Not these women. They hopped in their boat, roared out to the island, and took a boatload of kids to safety. Despite the fact that their boat now had bullet holes in it, they returned to the island four more times, under fire, to haul off additional loads of kids.

If these women had been members of the US military, their actions would almost certainly have earned them the Medal of Honor, and would have made the front pages across the planet. As it is, this morning was the first I’d heard of it. Gay advocates are claiming, with apparent justification, that these women’s heroism has been downplayed because they’re gay. Well, to those who condemn gays and same-sex marriage, all I can say is fuck you and the horse you rode in on.

32 Comments and discussion on "Wednesday, 3 August 2011"

  1. Chad says:

    Saw an interesting concept called unschooling. Sort of like homeschooling, but essentially you let the children discover and learn on their own and you’re basically there for guidance when they want it.

    [Click here for the CNN article]

  2. BGrigg says:

    Wait, the Greek woman is crying “poverty” and she [i]smokes[/i]? Seriously? She claims they “helped her deal with the stress”? I got news for you, honey, if you’re living with your in-laws because you can’t find work, you can’t afford the cigarettes. And cigarettes don’t ease stress, they increase it.
    ———————————————————-
    Perhaps the gay couple’s deed is downplayed because they’re Norwegian, and Norwegians don’t go around tooting their own horn? After all, it wasn’t their “gayness” that got them to do the deed, but a finely honed sense of duty and responsibility. What they do in the privacy of their bedroom has nothing to do with their actions in the “real” world. I say their deed is downplayed, because the cops are embarrassed that they took so long to respond, rather than this couple’s sexuality.

  3. BGrigg says:

    Wait, the Greek woman is crying “poverty” and she smokes? Seriously? She claims they “helped her deal with the stress”? I got news for you, honey, if you’re living with your in-laws because you can’t find work, you can’t afford the cigarettes. And cigarettes don’t ease stress, they increase it.
    ———————————————————-
    Perhaps the gay couple’s deed is downplayed because they’re Norwegian, and Norwegians don’t go around tooting their own horn? After all, it wasn’t their “gayness” that got them to do the deed, but a finely honed sense of duty and responsibility. What they do in the privacy of their bedroom has nothing to do with their actions in the “real” world. I say their deed is downplayed, because the cops are embarrassed that they took so long to respond, rather than this couple’s sexuality.

  4. BGrigg says:

    OK, weird double post. I sure wish this new format had the ability to let us edit! 🙁

  5. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    I wasn’t implying that their gayness had anything to do with their courage or their actions, merely that the religious nutters who claim that allowing gay marriage is destructive to society are full of shit and that here is an example of how two people in a same-sex marriage proved beyond doubt that they are good people.

  6. ech says:

    Gay advocates are claiming, with apparent justification, that these women’s heroism has been downplayed because they’re gay.

    That may well be true. There is also the fact that their response was, in some ways, more effective than the initial police response. The authorities don’t like being shown up by the citizens subjects. One story said that the initial police responders (about 30 minutes after shooting was reported) decided to wait for a SWAT team for a while, then their boat was overloaded and started taking on water.

    One thing that struck me was how passive all the kids and adults were, at least according to stories I read. Some hid in rocks by the beach and just waited to be shot. Why didn’t they fight back? The shooter had to stop and reload at least a couple of times. They had rocks at hand on the beach.

    I will say that it’s a cultural difference between the US and Europe that the Europeans will wait for the government to do something they could do themselves. For example, on the morning after hurricane Ike passed over Houston our street had all the debris cleaned up and stacked at the curb by early afternoon. In addition to doing my own lawn, I helped chainsaw some of the trees that were blocking the street and was part of a team that cleaned up the yard where the owners were in Europe on vacation. We could have left the big tree that was down on the street for the city crews to take care of, but that could have taken weeks for them to get around to.

  7. BGrigg says:

    Chad wrote “Saw an interesting concept called unschooling.”

    This is how my family started off homeschooling sixteen years ago. This “discipline” is best for young kids, or schooled kids who are transitioning to homeschooling. You quickly learn yourself that some structure is required. Kids need to learn a bunch of stuff they don’t want to learn, in order to fit in with society. Kids also want some clear guidelines so they don’t screw up. We managed a mix of both systems, in that we didn’t specify a particular time to work on math, but math was worked on each day, for about an hour each day. You learn to spot “teaching” moments, when the child’s mind is receptive to learning. Kids that are tired, hungry, or full of piss and vinegar, are not likely to benefit much from rote learning. Instead of fighting the kids, you learn to back off and find the time elsewhere.

  8. Ray Thompson says:

    I think it is unnatural to be playing with body parts on someone else that you already have. And it is not because I am a religious nutter. I really don’t care that two people of the same sex decide to get married. It is their business, not mine. As long as it does not affect me, then I don’t care.

    I don’t even care if they adopt a child or two. In fact I think it is a good thing. A child in a home with two people to care for the child is better than the single mother losers in society that do nothing but have babies by different men just to get more welfare. Better to be wanted than just a method to get more money.

    In regards to these two individuals, there was a story about another individual doing the same thing. It got little press. As others have stated I think it is because the local authorities were embarassed because of their long response time. Had these people not responded the death toll would have been much higher.

    The two womens choice of lifestyle has very little to do with their personal actions toward others when faced with deadly situations. Gender preference has nothing to do with the motivation to help others. Their lifestyle should have just been left out of the story as in my mind their lifestyle is not relevant to their actions on that day.

  9. BGrigg says:

    RBT wrote “I wasn’t implying that their gayness had anything to do with their courage or their actions, merely that the religious nutters who claim that allowing gay marriage is destructive to society are full of shit and that here is an example of how two people in a same-sex marriage proved beyond doubt that they are good people.”

    Well, that is certainly a true statement. The religious nutters are dead wrong, but perhaps so are the “advocates” that claim the deeds are downplayed. Downplayed where? I don’t read any of the Norwegian newspapers, so I can’t claim there. The link you posted references a Finnish newspaper Helsingin Sanomat, so not Finland, at least. Downplayed in the US? Certainly the entire event was shoved to the back pages by Amy Winehouse overdosing, and the deficit ceiling dance of stupidity. Relying on the US media to accurately reflect the happenings of the world is just as dumb as dumb can be. I wonder if the women themselves are trying to downplay the event? That would be my most likely guess, rather than looking for an attempt to “hush” up homosexual heroics.

  10. Ray Thompson says:

    One thing that struck me was how passive all the kids and adults were

    I have often wondered the same thing when Jews were dealing with the Nazis.

  11. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    I entirely agree that their choice of spouse is immaterial in any real sense, but as I said I was merely holding their actions up as an example to the religious nutters who claim that same-sex marriage destroys society.

    I also have zero sexual interest in men, but then I have zero interest in a lot of other things, including many that I find personally offensive (such as religion, to name a notable example). But, like you, I figure it’s their business as long as it doesn’t affect me. It’s when advocates of a certain position try to compel me to support them that I become annoyed.

  12. MrAtoz says:

    “If these women had been members of the US military, their actions would almost certainly have earned them the Medal of Honor..”

    You have to be kidding. Not even close. But, thanks for the laugh.

  13. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    What? You don’t think that returning, unarmed and under fire, *five* times to rescue these kids rates the MoH?

    From Wikipedia:

    “conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his or her life above and beyond the call of duty while engaged in an action against an enemy of the United States.”

    You don’t think these women were conspicuously gallant and intrepid, or that they risked their lives? Or that their performance was above and beyond the call of duty?

  14. MrAtoz says:

    Not even close. In twenty years I’ve known several MoH recipients. The late Master Sergeant Roy Benavidez was a personal friend of mine. Go to http://www.cmohs.org/recipient-detail/3229/benavidez-roy-p.php and read his or other citations to get an idea of what it takes. Just because you go into the unknown and take some rounds to your vehicle doesn’t get you the MoH. Returning *five* times and not taking one hit in a full boat tells me they probably didn’t even confront the shooter. Heroes, yes. They rescued a lot of kids. By your standards half of our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan would have the MoH. A quote from Wiki or even the MoH criteria itself doesn’t describe the research that is done to find the details of courage, valor and heroism of the act. You read an article in a newspaper. You know nothing of what really happened. Yet you say they would get the MoH based on a quote from Wiki. Try talking to some members of the military and see what they think. Geeze.

  15. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    You have the advantage of me. I’ve met only one MoH recipient, although I’ve known several silver star recipients.

    However, these women were not going into an unknown situation, in the sense that they didn’t realize their personal safety was at risk. Shots being fired and people screaming in that youth camp would lead any reasonable person to believe there was a slaughter going on. Not taking one hit? By the news account–which as always I mention on the assumption that the account is accurate–their boat had multiple bullet holes in it. And yet these women, unarmed and untrained, made multiple trips to pull kids out of the water, fully aware that there was someone on that island shooting at them.

    Without trivializing the courage of our service people in the Middle East, I suspect that most of them take cover when they’re shot at rather than intentionally exposing themselves to additional fire if they can avoid it. Furthermore, they can at least shoot back, an option those women did not have. In that respect, they remind me of our medics and corpsmen, who do exactly what these women did and, as far as I’m concerned, also deserve the MoH for their heroism.

  16. MrAtoz says:

    I’m not talking about their boat. After that many trips, they or their passengers were not wounded? (That we know of) It seems a person with an automatic weapon, who has killed dozens, and couldn’t hit them, was not really close. I know that sounds morbid, but that’s how I read it. Firing back has nothing to do with it. Perhaps we will know more in the future.

    We disagree on the MoH. I read and post here because I respect your intelligence, analysis and prodigious memory. I remember on the old board, when Sarah (sp) posted to you “I’m glad you’re not in charge of anything”. lol At least not the MoH.

    You are one of the good guys, keep up the good work and comments.

  17. BGrigg says:

    Certainly they are deserving of a public acknowledgement of their deeds, but I dunno about the MoH. This was a civilian response to a civilian issue, and not as a declared state of war against a recognizable enemy of the State. And the War on Terror doesn’t count, as its not a real war. Regardless, they are certainly heroes to me.

    If they handed out MoHs just for doing your duty under fire, then it would cheapen the award. Besides, until very recently Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell was in force, and had they been outed in the service, likely would have been dishonorably discharged, rather than recognized for their merits in a hypothetical situation.

  18. Ray Thompson says:

    I concur with those that say the women did not do anything that warrants a MoH. I spent many years in the military and was involved in the Viet Nam conflict. What this women did was brave and selflish, but not MoH material.

    I also find it odd that the boat had many holes but no one on the boat was injured. If they guy was that good at shooting people he could have hit someone in the boat. There is more to this story than is being reported.

    The women certainly need to be recognized for their efforts. They also need to keep their partner preference out of the discussion because in my mind that is irrelevant.

  19. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    Chances are, the guy had never fired his weapon, or perhaps at most put a few rounds through it on a range. In my experience, most people who have a high opinion of automatic weapons have never fired one.

    I remember Mel Tappan commenting to me once that firepower was hitting what you aimed at, not peppering the landscape with near misses. I remember a friend of mine who was in several firefights in Viet Nam saying that he commonly went through 1,000 rounds or more and usually didn’t hit anything. Granted, there were people shooting back at him, but even for this Norwegian guy I suspect he thought that spray-and-pray would work better than it did.

    One time, a friend and I were out at the range. Both of us had G3’s and we had two silhouette targets set up about 10 feet apart 200 yards downrange. I fired aimed shots at my target while he went rock-and-roll on his with short bursts. I got off three shots in the time it took him to empty his magazine. When we looked at the targets, his had zero holes in it. Mine had four. Hmmm.

  20. MrAtoz says:

    He’s quoted as saying that he practiced at local ranges, if you can believe a nut. If he took the time to research, build and test his bombs, maybe he’s a smart nut. http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0711/60154.html

    I’ve also seen hinting that he had some type of para-military training in Belarus. Sources aren’t sure yet.

  21. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    On a related note, I see that the federal government intends to put tight controls on ammonium nitrate fertilizer, with a limit of 25 pounds per purchase, which they say is enough to blow up a normal home. Geez. I’ve known gardeners who buy multiple 50 pound bags, and farmers buy it by the ton, literally. No word yet on whether the government plans to ration diesel fuel and home heating oil buyers to a gallon at a time.

  22. Miles_Teg says:

    “Gay advocates are claiming, with apparent justification, that these women’s heroism has been downplayed because they’re gay.”

    Evidence?

    I read the linked article and saw no evidence to back up their/your claims. And in Europe no one cares if you’re gay. Hell, in the US most people don’t care if you’re gay. I’m always bemused by claims that Americans are religious. They’re not. There are some genuine mainstream religious, some genuine nutters and the vast majority who have a veneer of religion that has just about no effect on their lives.

  23. Miles_Teg says:

    “Wait, the Greek woman is crying “poverty” and she smokes? Seriously? She claims they “helped her deal with the stress”? I got news for you, honey, if you’re living with your in-laws because you can’t find work, you can’t afford the cigarettes. ”

    I knew that, if only I lived long enough, that you’d say something I could completely agree with. I detest the parasites that bludge off government and private welfare and yet smoke, take drugs, booze, have cable TV, and do on. If they can afford that stuff they can get their snouts out of the welfare trough.

  24. Miles_Teg says:

    “We disagree on the MoH. I read and post here because I respect your intelligence, analysis and prodigious memory. I remember on the old board, when Sarah (sp) posted to you “I’m glad you’re not in charge of anything”. lol At least not the MoH.”

    Ahh, so I’m not the only one who remembers Sarah. Not sure if she was a nutter or just mainstream but she had a few good confrontations with the resident 800 pound gorilla.

    Speaking of people who’ve gone AWOL, what happened to Ron and Geoff/Jeff?

  25. MrAtoz says:

    I also read the blog linked to Bob’s original post. Apparently the blog is a gay rights blog in the US called “talk about equality”. The relevant quote is:

    “Thirdly – why has this story been ignored by the mainstream media? I don’t know. That’s why I posted the article. Is it because the couple is lesbian? Perhaps. Is it because the news cycle in the US is being taken-up by the imaginary “debt-ceiling” debate? Perhaps. The only thing we know for sure is that this is a story that needs to be told.”

    I couldn’t find any links to back up those claims. Surely the MSM in the US is liberal left leaning and wouldn’t suppress a story because of homosexuality. They would trumpet it.

  26. BGrigg says:

    Miles_Teg wrote: “I knew that, if only I lived long enough, that you’d say something I could completely agree with.”

    Some people consider it a sign of the Apocalypse…

  27. Miles_Teg says:

    I just consider it a sign that you’re more intelligent that I took you for.

  28. Ray Thompson says:

    Should have stated: “was brave and unselflish”.

  29. Ray Thompson says:

    When we looked at the targets, his had zero holes in it. Mine had four.

    Not surprised at all. Automatic weapons are difficult to aim as you are constantly fighing recoil. Mostly they are a “spray and pray” weapon with a large intimidation factor.

  30. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    Yep, although the G3 with its in-line stock is a lot better than most in that respect. The only automatic weapon I’ve ever used that didn’t have that problem was the MAC-10 with the Sionics suppressor. Because of the muzzle blast pressure on the suppressor baffles, there’s so little recoil that, firing it one-handed, I’ve been able to keep most rounds on a silhouette target 50 yards out. And, at 20 rounds a second, the MAC-10 is intimidating. I linked to a video some years ago that showed the .45 ACP MAC-10 with the Sionics, showing that it has almost zero recoil.

    Which reminds me of the first time I shot a Thompson SMG. It was one of the early models with a very high cyclic rate, something around 900 to 1000 RPM. With its low buttstock and firing from an open bolt, the Thompson was almost uncontrollable in anything more than 3 or 4 round bursts. It climbed and twisted horribly. I almost shot holes in the ceiling of the range. On the other hand, I have known guys who could literally sign their names on the target with a Thompson.

  31. Alan says:

    Speaking of people who’ve gone AWOL, what happened to Ron and Geoff/Jeff?

    Hoping for this all to revert back to the old format?!

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