Wednesday, 27 March 2013

08:10 – I see that Netflix streaming now has series 5 of Mad Men available. I’d almost forgotten we had that title in our queue. We watched series 4 on DVD in April 2011. I seem to remember that there was a delay in shooting series 5.

And I’ve just started re-reading Colleen McCullough’s First Man in Rome series, the first book of which centers on Gaius Marius and Sulla. It’s as good as I remember it. McCullough is a first-class historian, and this book, although fiction, reads like a serious history of Republican Rome. McCullough put more time and effort into just her glossary than most authors put into an entire novel.

I did the same calculations last night that I remember doing the first time I read this book, back when it was first published. McCullough is talking about the cursus honorum, the sequence of offices held by Romans on their ways to becoming consul. Sulla, who is high-born but poor, is dreaming of pursuing the cursus honorum, but has no hope of accumulating the wealth needed. To be a senator, he needs to prove to the censors that he has an income of at least one million sestertii per year, and even to become a knight he requires 400,000 sestertii per year. So I calculated that in today’s money. As it turns out, with the spot price of silver currently around $28/ounce, one sestertius is pretty close to one current US dollar. So, Republican Roman equites (knights) had incomes that would put them into today’s 1%, and Republican Roman senators would be today’s IRS millionaires.

When Barbara got home yesterday and found I’d unpacked those 11 boxes and put away their contents, she said I should have waited for her to help because she’s stronger than I am and in better shape. I scoffed, and pointed out that I could still bench-press 90 pounds. Aha!, she countered, she could bench-press 90 pounds. Aha!, I pointed out, 90 pounds is what a girl bench-presses. In reality, I could still bench-press guy weight, call it 250 pounds. Okay, I admit it. I don’t know for sure that I could still bench-press 250 pounds, but I suspect I could.


10:24 – Geez. Hard on the heels of demanding that Cyprus commit suicide in exchange for a $13 billion “bailout”, the eurocrats are now demanding a $15 billion increase in their budget for 2013. Not a budget of $15 billion, you understand. A budget increase of $15 billion.

Cameron and the Tories are livid, and Farage and the UKIP are whatever beyond livid is. This budget increase translates to UK taxpayers “contributing” about $2 billion more, or roughly $125 per UK family. Just what they need in this economy. What’s worse, Cameron has no national veto, because this budget increase can/will be passed by majority vote. It seems to me that it’s long past time for the UK to make a definitive statement by withdrawing entirely from the EU. The only benefit the UK receives from EU membership is the Common Market, and that would survive a UK withdrawal. Cameron has delayed much too long holding a referendum on UK membership in the EU because he knows a referendum would go heavily in favor of withdrawal. Despite the evidence, Cameron remains a committed europhile. If he continues on this course, it wouldn’t surprise me to see Nigel Farage and the UKIP go from a minority party to running things. Cameron and the Tories scoff at that idea, but I think they’re just whistling past the graveyard.

20 thoughts on “Wednesday, 27 March 2013”

  1. You may recall I just finished the FMIR series, and agree that it reads like “actual” history. Her glossaries are almost as good as a read as the book is. Of course, corruption in the Senate was abundant, indeed it was expected in those days. Another thing that hasn’t changed in 2000 or so years. Except Roman Senators stayed bought.

    I tested my bench pressing ability just before Christmas. Took a fall in the backyard playing with my dog, cracked three ribs and managed to use my arms to lever myself off the ground before I froze to death. Still got it! 🙂

  2. “…are whatever beyond livid is. ”

    Apoplectic

    The UK is effed. Even the Tories have long since been assimilated into the super-PC Europhile zeitgeist. Londonistan and all the rest; medieval cathedral towns in the hinterlands overrun with hadjis. A State gone surveillance-crazy. Given a choice right now between having to live in England or France I’d pick France in a heartbeat.

    I don’t bench-press. And Charlie don’t surf.

    But I hope I could lift myself off the ground before freezing or being run over or whatever. My next-younger brother, at 56, is a New England masters-level bench-press champion, somewere close to 400 pounds. I think he’s slacked off from all that stuff, though, due to many aches and pains accumulating and having to continue his now-two-years job search after thirty as an HP-UX engineer/manager.

  3. The EU Bureaucracy is growing apace. The EU parliament itself is still mostly reasonable, but only because it’s still young for a parliament. However, the bureaucratic empire building is well underway – that goes a lot faster, and never stops unless you stop feeding it money. One hopes that the national governments will cut off the supply and tell the EUcrats to make do…

  4. My apologies for misspelling Mr. Farage’s name. I’ve gone back and corrected that.

  5. Last night I went to a lecture given by Stephen Hawking. It was supposed to be in person, but his physicians have vetoed any more long distance travel for him, so he taped a 70 minute lecture about his life, his struggle with ALS, his work in Cosmology. It was very, very good.

    In it, he mentioned one of the difficult problems in Physics, and called it hard, but “not as hard as fixing the Euro”.

    BTW, I had forgotten his age. He’s 71 this year.

  6. “”I thought UKIP was only for eccentrics, fruitcakes and gadflies, so I’m glad so many of you are members of the club,” joked Mr Farage, referring to a comment by Prime Minister David Cameron, while pushing his way to the front.”

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-21942995

    I’d like to see my English cousins get the eff outta the EU but will not hold my breath. And meanwhile will entertain any invitations to vacation in France.

  7. I am detecting major signs of life in the USA economy. One of those signs is that the USA price of oil has increased about $10/barrel over the last couple of months to $96/barrel. The world oil price (Brent oil) is hanging around $109 so the two are starting to converge a little more (less than $20/barrel).

    So, what does this mean to me? That the average USA price of gasoline is getting ready to go above $4/gal again which seems to be a stopping point for most people and they severely cut back on their driving and energy usage. And diesel will be heading above $5/gal which really affects the construction folks. And the economy will go in the dump again in the summer.

    Seems like rinse and repeat this cycle since 2008. I have no idea how to get out of it.

  8. Seems like rinse and repeat this cycle since 2008. I have no idea how to get out of it.

    1. Build the Keystone XL Pipeline.
    2. Build 2 or 3 new oil refineries.

  9. And build thirty nuke reactors a year for the next thirty years.

    And frack like a mofo.

    And cut DOD by about 90%.

  10. 1. Build the Keystone XL Pipeline.
    2. Build 2 or 3 new oil refineries.

    1. Yes, that is 20,000 jobs for 4 years (half of those people are already working on the southern end in OK and TX)
    2. You do know that 40+ refineries have been shutdown in the USA in the last three years, right? The refineries that use world crude ($120/barrel) on the east and west coasts are shutting down as fast as they can due to the brent crude / usa crude $20/barrel price mismatch. All we need in the USA is a new refinery in South Dakota and one in Arizona.

    4. And build thirty nuke reactors a year for the next thirty years.
    5. And frack like a mofo.
    6. And cut DOD by about 90%.

    4. Each nuclear reactor in construction is 20,000 jobs for four years. TVA is building #105 in Tennessee right now. ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Watts_Bar_Nuclear_Generating_Station#Unit_2_construction_project )
    5. We are fracking like crazy except in New York State and on all federal lands.
    6. You just threw 1,000,000 people off the job bus.

  11. “You just threw 1,000,000 people off the job bus.”

    Good. Whatever. We don’t need a million people supporting and generating a multi-generational series of really sad mil-spec clusterfucks around the globe anymore out of over a thousand installations. We have no enemies anymore. Other than a few ragbag nutjobs who should be hunted down in police anti-terror actions and old-fashioned detective work.

    DOD should not exist, or should any other massive Leviathan entity, solely to provide employment for large segments of the American population.

  12. DOD should not exist, or should any other massive Leviathan entity, solely to provide employment for large segments of the American population.

    So what happens when Canada invades the USA?

  13. “So what happens when Canada invades the USA?”

    We have enough problems of our own. We don’t need to look for more. Adding Michigan to Ontario just might work (just! and it would be bit like West Germany taking over East.) New England could join the Maritimes. There is so much of the “Nine Nations” that just makes sense but we would have to agree on a system of government. I would continue to hold out for a Westminster system and a constitutional monarchy. It’s certainly no worse than your (U.S.) system.

    We need more refineries, lots more and they should be built in Alberta!

  14. “…New England could join the Maritimes.”

    Well, northern New England. You don’t want the southern third, believe me.

    As a Yankee descendant of revolutionaries, I sorta have a visceral negative reaction to mentions of monarchy, but given the mess we have here am willing to give it a shot now.

  15. I have no real problem with monarchy as long as it’s not hereditary. My strong preference is for anarchy, although I’d be happy with a republican government if there were any way for it to remain stable. But a republic invariably degenerates to a democracy.

  16. Agreed across the board. I’m willing to try a constitutional monarchy but not on the Euro model where increasingly idiotic and degenerate nincompoops continue to occupy the thrones. It’s kinda sad when one realizes the last really smart English monarch was James I, but as a human being he was a total mess.

    I’d also prefer an extremely limited State, nearly to the point of anarchy. We may get a chance to play with one or more of these alternatives on a regional and community basis as the current Leviathan disintegrates, but probably not in our lifetimes.

    Here in northern New England we still have Town Meeting, a bona-fide descendent of East Anglian and Norse government of the so-called Dark Ages. It generally works in the smaller towns until outsiders/flatlanders roll in with developers and achieve majority status and then immediately seek to replicate the urban and suburban shit-holes they came from.

  17. The Tories are doing very very badly in opinion polls, and UKIP is up I think. But Labour is the main beneficiary. Just what the Poms need. Five years of Labour.

  18. I’ve long said that if the Mexican government wasn’t so busy being corrupt & stupid (purely theoretical) they would have built half a dozen reactors fairly close to the border, and ten new refineries. Using the profits from selling gas, diesel, and electricity to the gringos they could do a lot of good for their own poor.

  19. I think that’s what the Scandinavians are doing: selling nuclear and hydro generated electricity to the Germans, who have idiotically started phasing out nuclear.

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