Rosie Ruiz Republicans

Remember Rosie Ruiz? In 1980 she was the first woman to cross the finish line at the Boston Marathon — except it turned out that she hadn’t actually run most of the race, that she sneaked onto the course around a mile from the end. Ever since, she has symbolized a particular kind of fraud, in which people claim credit for achieving things they have not, in fact, achieved.

And these days Paul Ryan is the Rosie Ruiz of American politics…

This would have been an apt comparison even before the curious story of Mr. Ryan’s own marathon came to light. Still, that’s quite a story, so let’s talk about it first.

It started when Hugh Hewitt, a right-wing talk-radio host, interviewed Mr. Ryan. In that interview, the vice-presidential candidate boasted about his fitness, declaring that he had once run a marathon in less than three hours.

This claim piqued the interest of Runner’s World magazine, which noted that marathon times are recorded — and that it was unable to find any evidence of Mr. Ryan’s accomplishment. It eventually transpired that Mr. Ryan had indeed once run a marathon, but that his time was actually more than four hours…

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Minnesota casino serves record-breaking cheeseburger

A Minnesota casino has cooked up a world-record bacon cheeseburger that’s 10 feet in diameter and weighs more than a ton.

The behemoth burger was served up on Sunday at the Black Bear Casino Resort near Carlton in the United States. It tipped the scales at 914 kilograms.

Guinness Records representative Philip Robertson verified the record for biggest burger…He called the achievement a team effort, saying that the extraordinary burger tasted good as well.

“What I saw today was a feat of remarkable teamwork that resulted in a world record burger that actually tastes really good,” Mr Robertson said…

Black Bear’s burger included 27 kilograms of bacon, 23 kilograms of lettuce, 23 kilograms of sliced onions, 18 kilograms of pickles and 18 kilograms of cheese.

It took about four hours to cook the patty. A crane was used to flip it.

I can feel my arteries hardening just reading this.

A poll I’m posting because I think it’s wrong — and why!

Social networking sites play a modest role in influencing most U.S. users’ political views, with the biggest impact among Democrats…

The poll by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project comes as Democratic President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney are using Facebook pages and other social media as campaign tools ahead of the November election.

“For most of those who use the sites, political material is just a small portion of what they post and what they read. And the impact of their use of the sites is modest, at best,” Lee Rainie, director of the Pew project, said in a statement.

Thirty-six percent of social networking site users say they are “very important” or “somewhat important” to them in keeping up with political news, the survey showed.

The sites are “very important” or “somewhat important” to 26 percent of site users in recruiting people to get involved in political issues that matter to them.

A quarter of the site users say they are “very important” or “somewhat important” for discussing or debating political issues, the poll showed.

Twenty-five percent of users say the sites are “very important” or “somewhat important” in finding other people who share their views about important political issues.

In each case, Democrats are more likely than Republicans or independents to say the sites are important…

The telephone survey was conducted from January 20 to February 19 among 1,407 adults.

Pew should know better. Reuters should know better. They limited their sample to a significant portion of the population that starts out behind the times. It was a telephone survey – and Pew is still stuck using landlines for such a survey.

Latest government surveys say a third of all households in America use only cellular service. Those numbers aren’t especially accessible to surveys. Some age groups, like under 30, the number is 50%. None of the surveys I found in a quick Google-around take into account the folks using VOIP services like SKYPE or Vonage – or even the VOIP services from their broadband providers like Comcast – though a number of those folks retain their old landline phone numbers.

All the folks in these unsurveyed demographics are easy to consider a possible vote for a liberal or Democrat candidate. They’ve left behind their father’s phone system – along with a lot of his prejudice and political habits.

Wave energy project ready to go online off the Oregon coast


When the pilot operation is up and running…

About 15 years ago, this environmentally conscious state with a fir tree on its license plates began pushing the idea of making renewable energy from the ocean waves that bob and swell on the Pacific horizon. But then one of the first test-buoy generators, launched with great fanfare, promptly sank. It was not a good start.

But time and technology turned the page, and now the first commercially licensed grid-connected wave-energy device in the nation, designed by a New Jersey company, Ocean Power Technologies, is in its final weeks of testing before a planned launch in October. The federal permit for up to 10 generators came last month, enough, the company says, to power about 1,000 homes. When engineers are satisfied that everything is ready, a barge will carry the 260-ton pioneer to its anchoring spot about two and a half miles offshore near the city of Reedsport, on the central coast…

Adding to the breath-holding nature of the moment, energy experts and state officials said, is that Oregon is also in the final stages of a long-term coastal mapping and planning project that is aiming to produce, by late this year or early next, a blueprint for where wave energy could be encouraged or discouraged based on potential conflicts with fishing, crabbing and other marine uses.

The project’s leader, Paul Klarin, said wave technology is so new, compared to, say, wind energy, that the designs are like a curiosity shop — all over the place in creative thinking about how to get the energy contained in a wave into a wire in a way that is cost-effective and efficient…

Energy development groups around the world are closely watching what happens here, because success or failure with the first United States commercial license could affect the flow of private investment by bigger companies that have mostly stayed on the shore while smaller entrepreneurs struggled in the surf. Ocean Power Technologies also will be seeking money to build more generators.

Here in Oregon, the momentum of research appears to be increasing. Last month, the Northwest National Marine Renewable Energy Center — financed by the United States Department of Energy in collaboration with Oregon State University and the University of Washington — deployed one of the first public wave energy testing systems in the nation, called Ocean Sentinel, about two and a half hours from Portland, in Newport. The first device tested was a half-scale prototype from a New Zealand company…

“Wave energy is essentially an accumulation of wind energy,” Charles F. Dunleavy, the chief executive at Ocean Power Technologies, said in a telephone interview. In the northern Pacific, he said, consistent winds fuel consistent waves, and the distance they travel in their rolling line creates a huge area of wave energy, or fetch, that a bobbing buoy can capture…

But the project also hinges on squeezing out the tiniest of incremental efficiencies in tapping the waves as they come. On the Ocean Power Technologies buoy, which looks like a giant cannon stuffed with electronics, company engineers pursued an insight that sailors have known in their sea legs since the days of Odysseus: every wave is different.

RTFA for anecdotes, examples and the predictably cpu-based tech essential to developing flexible power production. Poisonally, I’m looking forward to learning how this project does at producing sustainable electricity generation.

Waves are like wind. We ain’t going to run out anytime soon.

Imagine the Federal Reserve Bank — as run by Congress!


Click to enlarge

Increasing political encroachment on the Federal Reserve, particularly from the Republican Party, could threaten the central bank’s hard-won independence and undermine confidence in the nearly 100-year old institution.

That was the pervasive sentiment among economists gathered at the Fed’s annual monetary policy symposium in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Against the dramatic backdrop of the Grand Teton mountain, many said a closely-contested presidential race has turned the monetary authority into a political football…

The primary topic of conversation at the rustic mountainside resort was whether or not Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke and his colleagues would deliver another round of monetary stimulus soon.

But, when probed on the issue on the sidelines of the meeting, many participants voiced concern about the heated political rhetoric aimed at the Fed, including a bill that would audit the conduct of monetary policy that is gaining increasing traction among Republicans.

The Fed is already subject to regular audits, but congressman Ron Paul’s bill would remove an exemption for monetary policy deliberations.

Ironically, the complete political gridlock that characterizes U.S. fiscal policy has left the Fed in the difficult position of being “the only game in town.”

Both the Fed and the independent Congressional Budget Office have said a looming “fiscal cliff” of spending cuts and expiring tax breaks at the end of this year could shove a fragile economy into a new recession.

Given the track record of Congress as a whole – and Congressional Republicans as leading incompetents – can you imagine the disaster of having a central bank beholden to the political clown show? Our nation’s credit rating would be lower than Bangladesh.

The worst of it would be losing the so-called dual mandate in place since 1977. Republicans couldn’t care less about the lot of American unemployed and the first thing they’d remove would be that portion of the mandate. And, of course, like journalists and politicians alike, they don’t know there actually is a triple mandate. Basic monetary policy and balanced employment is joined with moderating interest rates throughout our economy.

Cripes! Congress has an approval rating of 16%. Congressional Republicans are even lower. Would you hire someone like that to run a bank?

Book returned to Chicago library – 78 years overdue!

A Chicago-area woman wanted to return an overdue copy of “The Picture of Dorian Gray” to the Chicago Public Library, but first she wanted to be sure she wouldn’t go to jail.

That’s because the book, a rare limited edition of the Oscar Wilde novel, was checked out in 1934. Harlean Hoffman Vision found it in her late mother’s possessions, with a Chicago Public Library stamp.

The library is conducting a rare three-week amnesty program for overdue items, and Vision figured this was her chance to return the book, said Ruth Lednicer, the library’s marketing director. The books was returned Thursday.

“She kept saying, ‘You’re not going to arrest me?’ and we said, ‘No, we’re so happy you brought it back’,” said Lednicer.

Vision didn’t know the library caps late fines at $10 on books — without the cap and the amnesty, total fines on “Dorian Gray” would have amounted to $6,000.

I’m glad she decided to return it. A limited edition like this one probably is worth a serious chunk of change, nowadays. And I feel very strongly about libraries. I owe a great deal of my early education to weekly trips to our neighborhood Carnegie library.