Ned Pepper's Outrages

Saturday, July 31, 2010


Today, Mrs Ned had a brief, but unusual fit. It happened like this: we were returning from our twice-weekly wine tasting duties and had to pass a doctors office with the usual double-wide parking lot. Across our path came a BEING in hard hat, mask and ear plugs, with chartreuse vest, armed with a leaf blower with a snout that Mr Snuffalopagus could only envy. He was engaged in blowing dust off the vast parking lot into the nearby street, where it would in time be picked up by winds and tires and returned to the parking lot. Not content with this, for good measure he occasionally blew dust off the border of mulch with which the parking lot was ringed. Clouds of brown dust rose into the evening air, to be carried into the faces of nearby pedestrians.
The net effect of this activity was to waste gas, and to annoy passers-by with the resultant air pollution, noise and dust. This 'dust' by the way, consists, according to the California Air Resources Board, of insect and bird feces, toxics derived from car exhaust and tire wear, and allergens from pollinating plants. A toxic brew if ever there was one. And for what earthly purpose was this activity being carried out? None at all. No one in history has ever complained about invisible dust on a parking lot, and if they had they would have probably been instantly seized and subjected to psychiatric 'treatment' for their own good.
So multiply this moronic activity by hundreds of thousands of times each day, and you get an idea why this country has 5% of the world's people but uses 25% of its oil. And much of it is in polluting, wasteful, pointless, useless, infuriating activity like this.
As Mrs Ned observed, "maybe this is one reason why the rest of the world hates us."

Friday, July 30, 2010


One of Ned's loyal and prescient followers has asked Ned to describe where all the oil went in the GOM, since MSM reports indicate that very little of it is found on the beaches or in the wetlands at present, and the surface slick has all but dissipated. It remains to be seen how much oil is present in "plumes". Ned will try to tackle this as dispassionately as possible.
First, crude oil is very volatile and it is lighter than water. Much of it will evaporate if just left alone at the surface, because it is made of many different hydrocarbons with varying vapor pressures. But the evaporation points also depend on water and air temperatures. Here is where the GOM has an advantage over Prince William Sound: the Gulf is very warm, with surface temps approaching 90 during the summer max, which we have now. Air temps, too. This helps the stuff to evaporate quickly and form Volatile Organic Compounds, or VOCs, the same stuff that forms smog. It in turn gets broken down by sunlight.
The heavier stuff still floats, but as it concentrates it forms asphalt-like clumps which are easy to pick up. Next, the dispersants have made it easier for the GOM microbe communities to break up the oil and eat it. These little buggers are everywhere, and they flourish because the GOM is the site of thousands of natural "seeps" of oil and gas. The bacteria break down the hydrocarbons for food.
Some of the oil was skimmed at the surface, filtered out of the seawater and disposed of--don't ask Ned where, probably in a landfill, or burned.
Some of the oil apparently was rendered so small in size that it floated below the surface in the so-called "plumes." Now NOAA says the concentrations of oil in the water in these plumes is on the order of 500 ppb, or about a teaspoon in a swimming pool.
Trouble is, we don;t know what background hydrocarbon content in the GOM is. The good thing is, where the plumes are, at depths of several thousand feet, is where very few animals live. Most of them live in the surface 100 meters or on the bottom, so they are unlikely to be severely affected.
The biggest remaining problem is probably oil in wetlands, but even there, bugs eat it, and plants rapidly can re-grow parts affected by the oil. Now if we can get the poor pelicans cleaned "off" Ned will sleep more soundly, but, even here, more pelicans are killed by shrimpers that have been killed by the oil.
Hope that helps.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Chalk another one to the Dems

From today's NYT: "Former U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo has made it official -- he's running for Colorado governor on the American Constitution Party ticket."
That means the loonie vote will be split and some Dem will be elected. Now Tancredo is right (!) about one issue and one issue only: he is spot on about illegal immigration. But everything else is pretty loopy, so...chalk another one up to the Dems.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


From an article in today's NYT: "The oil slick in the Gulf of Mexico appears to be dissolving far more rapidly than anyone expected."
Now, Ned's followers will savor this line and recall Ned's earlier posts decrying the media-induced hysteria over the effects of the Transocean rig disaster. Ned cautioned against over-reacting, for the following reasons:
* He described the chances of any measurable oil getting into the Florida Keys as miniscule, quoting NOAA Administrator (and no BP stooge) Lubchenco to that exact effect.
* He discussed the Loop Current and said the chances of large amounts of un-degraded oil getting into the Loop Current to be small.
* He described the claim of a lawyer quoted in the NYT to the effect that "hypothetically" oil could contaminate the Atlantic and Mediterranean and bankrupt BP as preposterous.
* He pointed out that the high temperatures in the GOM made the oil there wholly un-comparable to the Valdez spill, where oil continues to degrade Prince William Sound today. The reason? Mainly that the water temp in PW Sound is close to 40 degrees, resulting in low evaporation and degradation rates, compared to a typical summer surface temp of the GOM closer to 85-90 degrees.
* The GOM has numerous natural and man-made oil and methane seeps, which has allowed vast communities of oil-eating microbes to flourish there.
*And finally, he decried the hysteria of the media and some left-wing bloggers who saw disaster at every turn, from exploding sea-floor wells, to destroyed beaches, to mass extinctions.
Now, the hysterics have destroyed the career of Tony Hayward, cost innocent BP shareholders billions in lost income, cost state, local and federal governments billions in tax revenue, cost Gulf businesses billions in lost economic activity, and cost pension funds in the UK and here tens of billions in losses as BP's share price tanked.
But why listed to scientists when we can listen to bloggers and the MSM, huh?

Monday, July 26, 2010


The breathless MSM is reporting that Newt Gingrich, professional blowhard and failed House Republican leader, is preparing a speech in which he attacks the Obama administration for being soft on radical Islam. Now, Ned imagines a screenwriter approaching a Hollywood producer with the idea for "this movie, see C.B., where a leader of a party in power and responsible when terrorists attack the U.S. and kill 3,000 people, see, then prepares a speech attacking the party that took over from them and has NOT experienced a terrorist attack. Whuddaya think C.B.?"
It's simply too ludicrous to even attempt to parody, and once again shows the abject contempt with which the Republicans view both the MSM and the intelligence of the average voter. Setting aside the possibility that they could be right, it still is practically inconceivable that anyone would take anything this stylized, formerly pompadoured self-appointed "intellectual," has to say about anything.
But Ned has learned to be surprised by nothing in contemporary America. Perhaps his readers will recall the memo from the CIA ignored by Condolllleezzzza Rice, Dick Cheney , Don Rumsfeld, and above all Halfbright Fellow George W Bush? "
Bin Laden Determined To Strike Within The U.S."

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Everybody's a f*****g hero

Ned's readers will be familiar with the case of the Ag Dept functionary slandered by the right wingers, whom the Obama people were quick to throw under a bus.
Al Hunt, a talking head on Bloomberg, today referred to Shirley Sherrod, the Ag Dept bureaucrat maligned by the right-wing character assassination machine, as a "hero." Not content with that, he went on the describe the white Mississippi farmers she was talking about in her speech as "heros" too. Now here Ned has to intercede.
Earth to Al Hunt: NOT EVERYBODY IS A F*****G HERO! Some people are just people. Some people are just victims. Sherrod was a victim. The farmers got helped, so they weren't victims or heros. A hero, Al is someone who does a heroic act. Read your f*****g Homer. A Marine who takes on a machine gun nest to save his buddies is a hero. A woman who risks her job and reputation to expose corporate wrongdoing is a hero (ine). A person who dives into a raging river to save a kid is a hero.

Friday, July 23, 2010


Ned is pleased and deeply honored to announce his first foreign correspondent, Prof. Dr. Q. A. Wagstaff, FRS, who will forward occasional missives from Europe, South Carolina and beyond. Prof. Wagstaff is a celebrated marine scientist and philosopher with numerous publications. His most recent essay is "Why A Turtle Tax Makes Economic Sense In A Mixed Economy."

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


Some of Ned's more PC readers have complained that Ned discriminated against women in the first round of the eagerly awaited Halfbright awards. And Ned is nothing if not sensitive to such charges, whether true or not. Therefore, the second round of Halfbright nominees will contain a disproportionate share of women from a very fertile field.
Naturally the first to be nominated is

SARAH PALIN: Half-term "Governor" of Alaska (a state with the population of Washington DC), mayor of Wasila (population 6,000 counting moose) and VP candidate with John McCain, Palin has shown, with her breathtaking sanctimonious hypocrisy, dysfunctional family life while running as a 'family values' candidate, and astonishing pride in her almost unlimited ignorance of important issues, that she is a natural and strong candidate for a Halfbright.
SHARRON ANGLE: The Republican fringe candidate for Senator from Nevada has come from nowhere to stand in the front row of strong Halfbright nominees. Her transcendentally ignorant remarks on almost anything of substance, her lack of rudimentary command of the English language (even that bastardized version practiced in the US), her incendiary remarks on firearms, and her clear lack of the slightest competence to be a US Senator all make her a strong Halfbright candidate.
MARSHA BLACKBURN: The comely face of southern Republicanism, Blackburn hails from the lily-white, gerrymandered 7th Congressional District of Tennessee. A strong proponent of "smaller" government, "lower" taxes and "more" freedom, she is tough as a hawthorne spike and exudes about as much empathy and intellect as a sea-snake. Always on CSPAN gabbling on about some preposterous issue or another to cement the support of the know-nothing racists that form her main constituency and, not to discriminate, the basis of support of every southern "states rights" Republican. A strong Halfbright candidate.
CARLY FIORINA: The Republican face of pure political opportunism, Fiorina was not content with running HP into the ground and walking away with a $30 million buyout + her own jet plane, and why should she be, when any incompetent parvenu could run for office as a Republican if they have enough money and enough designer clothes. Naturally she is running as a " "lower taxes," "less government," and "personal responsibility" woman of the people, whose initial criticism of Barbara Boxer, her opponent, was her hairstyle. Ned also appreciates her dedication to "fighting for every job", after cutting 18,000 jobs at HP. Especially noteworthy to Ned is her penchant for referring to herself in the third person; to wit, "Carly believes strongly that every American should have access to quality, affordable health care."
All in all, a very compelling candidate for a Halfbright.



Monday, July 19, 2010


Ned advises all his followers to stand by for further demonization of BP by Obama and the rest of the body American politic. Why? Well, apparently, BP may have asked the Scottish government to review the life sentence for a convicted terrorist, who was implicated in the Lockerbie, Scotland bombing of a Pan Am plane that killed more than 270 people, many of them Americans. The Scottish government, which has considerable autonomy from London's Houses of Parliament, decided to release the prisoner after having served seven years after a team of Scottish physicians declared he was suffering from advanced prostrate cancer and was likely to die in custody. They released him a year ago and damned if he isn't still alive in Libya!
So watch for Congress and Obama to go ballistic. The fact that BP had nothing to do with the decision to release the prisoner, that the decision was made entirely by the Scottish government, that the former government of Gordon Brown, who was chucked out by David Cameron and the Tories a couple of months ago, said BP had no impact, and that BP was the head of a consortium of oil companies, mainly AMERICAN, who were in line for a $20 billion contract, will of course have no impact on the renewed fury with which the politicians will descend on BP. This time, Ned can only hope that the company's hapless representatives will tell Congress and the President to stick it where the sun don't shine.

UPDATE: 7/23/10 The Scottish government has denied that BP had any influence on their decision, or in fact tried to influence them in any way. This will, no doubt, have little or any impact on the U.S. Senate's demand that BP officials testify on the (non)issue.
Stay tuned.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Fulbrights and Halfbrights

Today, July 16, Ned is announcing, along with his colleague, leftist agitator, and partner in crime Professor Chauncey L. Q. Beauregard of Coastal Carolina University, the first annual nominations for "Halfbright Fellowships." The lucky recipients, mainly public "servants", members of the Mainstream Media, and the like, will be encouraged to spend the next year bringing their behavioral or intellectual IQs at least to room temperature, and acquiring enough basic knowledge so that they can be entrusted with topics at least as complex as whether it is morally right to allow Vietnam Veterans to live under bridges and collect aluminum cans to make ends meet while billionaire plutocrats buy elections, bribe politicians, and hoard wealth like the Dragon of the Niebelung.
While Ned encourages his readers to, after mature reflection, submit nominations, he is emboldened to make a few preliminary nominations now. The final awards will occur in about a month's time.


GEORGE W BUSH--who took a potential trillion dollar federal surplus and turned it into a fiscal crisis, who inherited a world at peace and involved the country into a war of aggression in Iraq, costing $1 trillion, and who inaugurated tax cuts for the obscenely wealthy, which contributed largely to today's budget crises.
ALAN GREENSPAN--who, as almost sanctified chair of the Federal Reserve, presided over a colossal housing bubble while denying such a thing was possible. The collapse of said bubble in 2007 led to trillions in stock market losses, the $700 billion "financial bailout", ten percept unemployment, and millions of homeowners chucked out into the streets.
(Honorary) JAMES WATT--Ronald Reagan's first Secretary of the Interior, who denied that it was the government's responsibility to enforce environmental laws since Jesus was coming back soon and he would fix everything.
BILL CLINTON--President who tossed away his reputation and the legacy of one of the most successful modern presidencies to get a b***j** from an overweight White House intern.
MARIO RUBIO--Republican extremist candidate for Senate from Florida. Qualified due to his statement that he supports "health care" companies being forced to cover persons with pre-existing conditions, but does not favor requiring everyone to have "health insurance", conditions which even sixth graders understand would immediately render the entire system of private "health care" unworkable.

More nominees to follow.


Friday's NYT contains an article that probably gave heart to many readers.
In it, the co-founder of Microsoft, Paul Allen, announced he was going to follow Bill Gates and donate a sizable portion of his estimated 13.5 billion (!) fortune to "charity." Continuing the feel-good tone of the article, it was noted that Mr Allen had already
"given away" $1 billion through "foundations and nonprofits". Up to now, lucky beneficiaries of Mr Allen's largesse have been the Allen Foundation and the "Experience Music Project/Science Fiction Museum".
Last year's leading donors were the Drukenmillers who gave "away" $705 million to (wait for it) their "family foundation."
Bill Gates has apparently given money for AIDS relief in Africa, among other things.
Now Ned understands that some observers might take heart at these apparent instances of the very rich trying to give back some of their obscene wealth to the society that allowed them to prosper.
But Ned finds the whole idea abhorrent.
Ned far prefers that the country return to those halcyon days of yesteryear, the Eisenhower Administration, when income was taxed at a marginal rate of 90% for incomes over $200,000, and the country prospered very well, thank you. Well, except for all those black folks set upon by dogs and lynched for being uppity enough to demand the rights guaranteed them by the US Constitution. But we digress.
If his readers prefer a less onerous rate of taxation, how about the Kennedy tax cuts that lowered Ike's marginal rate to 70%, and ushered in an era of enhanced prosperity, until Lyndon Johnson frittered it away in Vietnam.
Don't get Ned started on Reagan.
No, friends, Ned does not subscribe to the unhinged idea that certain persons in society should be trusted with a sizable portion of that society's wealth, and then be trusted to "give it away" without any approval by society at large, least of all to "family foundations."
On the other hand, if these persons wanted to donate their wealth to a fund that would be administered by and for the American people, now that would be different.
Until then, Ned will not join the crowds at Massa'a back door, thanking him for the leftover corn bread.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


From today's NYT, hardly an apologist for BP:
"The vast majority of the dead animals [in the Gulf of Mexico] that have been found show no visible signs of oil contamination."
Thus, to confirm what Ned has said all along: the Gulf spill is a terrible tragedy for all concerned, but the decision by the MSM to play it as the greatest natural disaster in history, with plumes of hidden oil in the ocean, beaches a foot deep in slime, wetlands lying lifeless, the Florida Keys in danger of extinction, the Atlantic Ocean at risk, and the Mediterranean blue dolphins in danger, among other things, was irresponsible money grubbing at its most outrageous.

30 a day?

From Atrios Wednesday:
"For nearly two years, Coleman says she has filed an average of 30 job applications a day, but remains jobless."
So, and Ned doesn't wish to seem untrusting or heartless, a 58 year old woman says she applied for 30 jobs a day for almost 2 years? ON what planet? According to Ned's calculations, that would be around 2,000 jobs. And of course the media accepted this without any questioning, or color and texture.
In our neck of the woods, there aren't 30 new jobs a month, let alone a day.
Ned would like to caution all reputable news outlets to at least ask for some documentation before publishing such an outlandish story.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

More BP heartache

Lordy, Lordy. How bad can things get?
Damn you BP! Now you done cost me my dawg!
"Animal shelters in coastal parishes are packed (sic) with pets being dropped off by owners who say they cannot afford to care for them any longer."
Authorities say that 2-3X the usual number of pets are being abandoned. Now, the MSM is filled with reports of people lining up for BP to pay them or provide them jobs. Are you telling me that these people can't afford their pets? Ned thinks they do protest too much.
The Humane Society is helping people with bags of Kittles 'n' Bits, which if Ned recalls correctly is pretty toxic for pets. But the only help available is to certified fisherpersons or those in the fish industry.
So if Ned has this correctly, eventually people will be sticking their hand out asking BP to pay for their pets.
Don't believe it? Watch this space.


Ned professes to be unable to understand why the mere discussion of changing our immigration "policy" sets off such anger, hate mongering and fear in a lot of people. It could be that a lot of people who want immigration stopped or even slowed are motivated by racism. But then, just because a few racists happen to advocate something doesn't mean that end is necessarily bad: hell, even a stopped clock is right twice a day.
Ned happens to believe that this country allows in too many people, for the following reasons:
First, the country is already the planet's greatest consumer of natural resources per person, and anyone who comes here starts consuming at domestic levels, further harming the global environment, and the people in developing countries.
Second, Ned is troubled when the best and brightest from foreign countries, especially developing countries, migrate to the U.S. Ned feels this makes it even harder for the countries abandoned by their migrating nationals to develop a society that promotes a sense of well-being for all citizens when those blessed with the benefit of an expensive education, leave. Surely India would benefit more if its doctors stayed in India and ministered to the sick there, that if they migrate to the States.
Third, Ned can do the math. This country already has more than 300 million people, and is running out of resources such as water and room for the folks we have here now. Ask anyone who lived in California in the 1950s whether it is better now than then, with more than twice the people and five times the cars. Consider how much easier it would be to restore California's environment with 15 million people instead of 40. And consider what is happening to the state as its population gets more and more divided between aging white people and relatively young people of color. The politics of California are as polarized as anywhere in the country, and Ned fears this will become a too-common pattern across the country. True, much of California's growth is population growth by migration from other states, and much of that is migration from other countries.
But Ned considers the country as a whole. At a population growth rate of an innocent sounding 1% per year, the population of the US will double in 70 years, and this does not count immigration. Add 1-2 million immigrants, many of them illegal, and you just compound the problem.
Another issue: children born to illegal residents are citizens of the US, but in many cases the parent or parents are reluctant to seek the care the children need due to their undocumented status. Thus, the children suffer. And, last time Ned looked, Americans do not want to pay higher taxes to support social programs except of course for those programs that benefit them directly, like Social Security and Medicare.
So, whether we want to face it or not, eventually this country will have to cap its population growth, and that cannot avoid capping immigration.
Some have called for a color-blind policy that admits as many people as leave every year, or about 200,000.
To Ned, this seems about right.

Fixing teen smoking and child obesity the BP way


Now, this absurd question is only slightly less preposterous than an opinion piece in the Sunday Week In Review NYT written by Gina Kolata, a NYT "science reporter." The article is titled, "Whether A Child Lights Up or Chows Down." The piece, such as it is, cites "experts" who debate the relative demerits of both teen smoking and child obesity. They conclude (wait for it) that both are bad.
But before he could even get into the gristle of the article (for there was, sadly, little meat), Ned was irked by the silly use of directional suffixes-- you know, 'sign OFF ON,' 'chow DOWN', 'light UP,' or Ned's favorite blood pressure increaser, 'listen UP.' But let that pass.
The topic of the article was encapsulated in the first sentence "If you had to choose one public health problem to attack, which would it be: teenage smoking or childhood obesity?"
To which Ned immediately replied, why should he have to choose? This is what the logicians call a false choice.
Both are severe health problems and both could be easily addressed.
Let's apply the Chicago-style BP shakedown of the Obama administration (for whom Ned voted) to the problem of teen smoking. Now, smoking kills 400,000 people a year in this country. Philip Morris International alone pays $4 billion in dividends. Ned would apply the BP shakedown to PMI, but in this case you could end teen smoking and save hundreds of thousands of people and their families untold misery.
One could raise the price of cigarettes to confiscatory levels, ban their use outside the home, and prohibit tobacco companies in this country from paying dividends until they pay the entire cost of smoking related health problems.
Now let's apply these methods to childhood obesity, which is tied to an epidemic of child diabetes, and results in tens of billions in unneeded health costs annually..
No manufacturer of junk food would be permitted to pay a dividend until they withdraw any food the Surgeon General and/or FDA determines to be a "material contributor" to childhood obesity. This would include any and all sugary drinks. Childhood obesity could be further addressed by restoring activity to grade schools, introducing healthy school lunches to replace the toxic fare presently on offer, taxing sodas, banning sugary drinks and 'snacks' from schools (a no-brainer, to Ned) and educating parents on the toxicity of most of what passes for industrially produced food in this country, among other things.
Ned wonders how Kolata got to write such a non-article in the first place. One thinks of all the positive, useful pieces that could have occupied that space, read by millions of people. Because Ned cannot think of a better way to waste a quarter of a page in the Sunday Week In Review section that a piece like this, unless it is to write pieces on the LeBron James "story" or the latest item in the sad saga of Lindsay Lohan.
Oops, they did that too.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

A BP Bankruptcy?

First, Ned would advise his readers to, as a general rule, avoid reading any article with a question for a headline. But he hopes they will ignore this sage advice in this particular case.
In today's NYT, there was an article which, for poor structure and misleading content, was at least in Ned's most recent memory, unparalleled. It had the headline "Weighing the Possibility of Bankruptcy for BP" and featured the "analysis" of someone identified as "associate dean for environmental programs at (wait for it) Florida State University College of LAW."
Ned would ask what expertise a lawyer would be likely to have on this complex environmental subject and his readers would no doubt reply, "who might sue whom," and Ned would concur. But the article dealt not with suing people so much as with the idea that the environmental impact of the accident (for accident it was) might be so devastating that the company could not financially survive the liability. And here was one of the statements from the article: "My bet is that BP will finally go bankrupt from the tort liability and the environmental liability." Her reasoning? If oil were to enter the Gulf Stream, and pollute Florida, the East Coast, the Caribbean and even Britain, lawsuits "COULD (Ned's emphasis) mount to levels BP could not handle." And the best part, "Hypothetically, a blue fin tuna farmer in the Mediterranean could end up with a claim against BP."
With all due respect to Ms. Craig, the "expert" in question, Ned would like to use her logic to posit an equally likely scenario: "If the Moon could ultimately be shown to be made of green cheese, as some contend, then the entire Moon exploration program can be shown to have been an elaborate hoax."

Here's why an oceanographer should have been consulted before this preposterous quote made its way into the pages of the NYT: First, water from the GOM does not go south into the Caribbean, it generally flows north if it leaves the GOM at all, or evaporates. to be replenished by water from the Mississippi and other sources on land. Second, as Jane Lubchenco, administrator of NOAA and a first-rate oceanographer has said, in the unlikely event oil gets to the Atlantic, or even to the Keys, it will be so diluted that it will cause no harm, and might probably be impossible to measure. Furthermore, if oil in concentration on the ppb range did get into the Gulf Stream, it would take this water about 14-16 months to reach Britain. During that time it would have evaporated, and water would have been added along the way from countercurrents, further diluting the "oil." So there is about as much chance of any measurable oil reaching Britain as of a British city being seized by aliens and held for ransom.
But what about those "tuna farmers" in the Mediterranean? Well, blue fin tuna is about as endangered a species in the Mediterranean as you are likely to find, due to local pollution and overfishing. And anyone who looks at oceanographic charts would see that only an infinitesimal amount of water inters the Mediterranean from the Atlantic, and by the time any "tainted" water would get to the mouth of the Med from the GOM(!), it would have had an oil content reduced to zero.
That's what an oceanographer would say, but that wouldn't have made as good a story, now would it?
Ned wishes you all a very good day.

Signing off on

Ned sometimes wonders what is happening to American English. The 300,000 or so words of the language seem sometimes to serve only to confuse and muddle most topics to which they are applied, or perhaps that is because most Americans' vocabularies are closer to 300 words (mostly monosyllable) than 300,000. However, what is angering Ned is not the poor vocabularies of Americans, lamentable as that is, nor even the increasing punctuation of what passes for conversation with "like" and "unh" and "you know", all of which simply serve as space fillers to be used when someone's desire to talk exceeds their ability to think.
No, Ned is talking about the advertiziation of speech--the tendency of our quotidian conversation to sound more and more like an ad for crotch-itch medication or the latest acne cream. This tendency has even taken over the pages of the nation's most staid organs of record, including the New York Times.
Ned is referring to such cringe-inducing complex words like "signed off on", which is perhaps the poster child of the entire dumbing-down vocabulary movement. Note the negation of the complex "off on", so the entire phrase simply means
"signed." Now, Ned's more perceptive readers will ask, why say "signed off on" when you can say "signed?" Since Ned cannot find a logical reason that would not be disrespectful to users of this abhorrent phrase, he will leave the analysis of motive to his readers. Ned will content himself with admonishing anyone using this term in his presence.
But there are many more: Ned would point out such annoying uses as "scrambling", for any activity when the perpetrators are trying to do more than chew gum and walk at the same time: to wit, "BP was scrambling to address government demands that it provide documentation of blah blah blah."
Another phrase which annoys Ned is "all new", which has become de rigeur ever since use of "new" has been applied to every product available, except for those that are "new and improved", an interesting if oxymoronic combination.
Ned also finds the use of such sanctimoniously hypocritical complex words as "brave troops" where in the past "troops" would have sufficed. Now, every mention of servicepersons must have the obligatory "brave" in front of it, even if the persons in question were paper pushers in some supply outfit. Such use, annoying as it is, has arisen Ned feels because this country no longer has a draft, and is thus seemingly content to have the children of poor and minority persons turned into cannon fodder for the amusement of presidents from Carter to Obama, most egregiously to settle scores by George Bush, whose explanation for the Iraq invasion and occupation included "(Saddam) tried to kill my dad."
But the debasement of the language has started more and more to include terms that would have made George Orwell proud. Whence the conversion of "War Department" into "Defense Department" in 1947. Since then we have fought no defensive wars, but that makes the name change even more lip-smacking good in its hypocrisy.
Lastly, let's see how the debasement of the language and the abandonment of any attempt to analyze complex issues to Ned's newest bete noire, the Gulf of Mexico oil blowout. Most stories use the phrase "up to" or "as much as" to describe the amount of oil entering the Gulf. This is standard misleading advertising fare, whence the use of "as much as 90% OFF!", when the actual discount if any is probably closer to 10%. Or the use of "starting at $99!" for a price range that may have one item at that price with the rest at hundreds more. Ned would argue it's one thing when advertisers do it since most of us know their job is to mislead, but when the users are NBC News and the New York Times, we are all in trouble.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Today's News Headlines

Ned finds so many items to amuse, bemuse and outrage him that this morning he will do a number of bullet point items for his readers' amusement.

1* In this month's Harper's Magazine, reporter Ken Silverstein describes the members of the Arizona legislature as "cranks, dimwits and racists." Ned wonders how these modifiers serve to distinguish these humble servants of the people from any other group of lawmakers.
2* Within a week of the explosion on its platform, the drill company Transocean paid a $1 billion dividend to its mainly wealthy stockholders. Ned did not detect any degree of ire from the Asskicker-in-Chief, even though Transocean had recently moved its corporate headquarters from Houston, then to the Cayman Islands, and finally to Switzerland. Most of its employees apparently remain in Houston (where thoughtfully Texas has no income tax--Ned believes he is correct on this). Its critics charged the moves were solely to avoid U.S. taxes and regulations, but Ned won't have that. Moreover, Transocean is the subject of federal investigations to determine whether a bankruptcy filing of one of its subsidiaries violated U.S. law.
3* Speaking of the Gulf, the feds have given BP another "ultimatum", namely, to come up with a plan to "get out more oil, or else" within 24 hours. To those who claim the company is not being extorted, Ned would like to have an explanation of the phrase "or else" in this context.
4* The NYT reports today in a true dog-bites-man story, that the rich are walking away from their mortgage obligations at a much higher rate than lower-income people, but Ned recalls Republican lawmakers (please see bullet one) blaming the housing crisis on the poor who were conned into buying houses they couldn't afford.
5* True to form, climate-change 'deniers' are claiming a whitewash on the part of the four separate scientific studies that completely exonerated climate scientists at East Anglia University.
6* Levi Johnson, son-in-law not of Sarah Palin, former half-term governor of Alaska (please see bullet one) is now saying he misspoke in "some" of the allegations he made against the Palin "family" but thoughtfully did not say which ones. In related news Brirtol Palin, who gave birth to an illegitimate child by the aforesaid Johnson, is making lots of money going around the country giving talks to teens and tweens advocating abstinence before marriage.
Ned wishes his faithful readers a very good morning.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Upcoming outrages

Ned assures his many followers that he has several outrages in store. One concerns Transocean and the "BP" spill.
Another concerns the AZ legislature and the somewhat less-than-favorable writeup accorded them by a Harper's journalist. Another is a tirade (a gentle and thoughtful one, as all Ned's followers need not be told) on the degradation of language in this country.
So sleep well.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The climategate that wasn't

Some of Ned's faithful followers are aware that Ned has posted on the four defining aspects of the evolution of western "culture" since 1500, after Jacques Barzun. Rather that stop for a pop quiz, Ned will remind readers that they are EMANCIPATION, SELF-CONSCIOUSNESS, INDIVIDUALISM, AND PRIMITIVISM.
Lest readers think that science won out over primitivism during the Enlightenment, Ned wishes to gently remind them of the millions of unwashed no-nothings who are fanatic followers of Sarah Palin, and who are immensely proud of their ignorance.
The latest skirmish in this unending war was chronicled today in the NYT. It can be found at
In it, the Times reports that a blue-ribbon committee, tasked with determining whether scientists falsified data concerning evidence for climate change at a British institution, exonerated the scientists on all counts. It did say they were mean to opponents in sarcastic emails, and did say that, since some of the graphs they used were complicated, they should have explained the hard parts for those whose IQ is at or near room temperature.
Now, Ned does not FOR A MOMENT believe that this will quiet the so-called "skeptics", since they are probably too busy feasting on their lunch of baked beans and dead dogs to take note of such a report. However, had any sensitive, responsible person
doubts about ANY of the evidence for human-induced climate change, which since 1988 has had overwhelming scientific acceptance, they can check out the report, then concern themselves with the more important things today, which, to Ned, are the World Cup, and LeBron's presser at 6 PM PDT tonight!!!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010


There really is such a thing as NPD, at least according to psychiatry, which seems to be able to find a name for every variety of antisocial behavior. Ned's readers will recall his recent post on Barzun's "From Dawn To Decadence" in which Ned pointed out that the fundamental keys to the development of western "culture" since 1500 were Individualism, Primitivism, Self Consciousness and Emancipation. NPD is to Ned (assuming it exists at all of course) an inevitable result of the excessive fostering of individualism and self-consciousness. It has many poster children, but first, let Ned enumerate some of the hypothesized causes of NPD:
overindulgence and overvaluation of children by parents,
valuation of children by parents as a means to augment their own self-esteem,
Excessive admiration of children, not balanced by feedback,
excessive praise for good behavior.
Can we not see that an entire generation or even two, of American children are "victims" of this disorder?
Ned experienced it throughout his career on the part of self-centered mediocre students, who refused to accept that they were even capable of substandard work. Further, he recalls students time and again equating time spent on a project with expected grade. Sadly the two are not necessarily related.
Ned further recalls, since you ask, two students in one of his classes sitting in the front row, merrily talking away while Ned was trying to explain an involved topic to his class. When Ned stopped class, called the two students outside and ejected them from class, they were thunderstruck, apparently having had no idea how their behavior could be in the least disruptive or offensive. God knows what professors do today when faced with narcissistic students carrying out their disruptive behaviour now that many new electronic gadgets have been added to cell phones.
We see it in religious zealots, ostentatiously praying in public places like Starbucks, and loudly discussing the views of their own particular cult as though to "convert" the heathen that are presumably hanging on their every enlightened word.
And finally, the uber-annoying carriers-on of cell phone conversations, containing the most intimate or personal details, who apparently are either blissfully unaware that there are even other people present, or who assume that others' lives are so devoid of meaning that they seek meaning and significance by living vicariously through the mindless, banal conversations, or actually, half conversations, of others.
Indeed, Ned reckons at least half of Americans under 50 are carriers of NPD.
Maybe more.

Monday, July 5, 2010


One of Ned's inspirations is the philosopher, historian, and social critic Jacques Barzun, who wrote, among other things, a seminal work on the evolution of western culture between 1500 and 2000. Titled, "From Dawn to Decadence," it identifies four themes that mark the character of western culture: they are EMANCIPATION, INDIVIDUALISM, PRIMITIVISM, AND SELF-CONSCIOUSNESS. Ned's outrage du jour is one he has been stewing over for decades, the appropriation of public space for private use, an outgrowth of individualism and self-consciousness.
We have all experienced this, and we may have all been guilty of it in the past, sometimes, lost in our own self consciousness. Everyone has seen people with dogs running free in public parks where signs clearly say "all dogs must be on leash." Ned most recently saw this on the beaches of South Carolina, where county ordinances prohibit dogs off leash after 7 am. This of course doesn't faze the dog owners. When confronted, they invariably say,"my dog is well-behaved", or "he doesn't like leashes", or "he needs to run free sometimes", or "are you a tourist?" or, Ned's personal favorite, "why do you hate dogs?" Another one Ned has appreciated in the past is "We live nearby" as though it gave the dog owner exclusive rights to use a public park or beach.
Now, these are often the same people who clamor and bleat about the lack of public space in which to exercise their animals, and agitate for "dog parks", which is land purchased by tax dollars, for the exclusive use of dog owners. And of course these people, lost in their sense of self-consciousness and zealously defensive of their "rights," see absolutely nothing for non-dog owners to complain about.
Ned has also experienced persons using annoyingly loud leaf blowers and the like, who, upon being confronted with the fact that their use of the device was causing discomfort to others IN THEIR OWN HOMES, say, "well, get earplugs, that's what I do." The idea that a person in the privacy of their own home should have the responsibility of defending themselves against the outside use of a dangerously loud appliance seems perfectly appropriate to users.
So, Ned's readers now are empowered to think of their own examples: perhaps they would think of frisbee players in parks, who take over large swaths of the park for their idiotic pursuit.
Or drivers who engage in anti-social and even dangerous driving habits, and if challenged sometimes become violent about it.
Or cat owners who feel their cat should be free to prowl the neighborhood, preying on baby birds and shitting in other people's yards.
Individualism and self-consciousness: great traits, unless they are carried too far. As Mark Twain said (or if he didn't somebody surely did) "Your right to swing your fist ends where my nose begins."

Sunday, July 4, 2010


Poor Stanley McChrystal. Here's a guy who somehow, with a career of brushes with authority to judge from reporting by the NYT and others, manages to reach the rank of 4 STAR GENERAL. Then he violates the Military Code of Conduct by criticizing civilian officials IN PUBLIC. For this, he should have been cashiered, or at least demoted and forced to retire. Instead, he and his wife were reported by visitors to be "crushed" by the turn of events, events, by the way, entirely of his own making. As a result, the General has "decided" to retire immediately. Now, instead of at least having to retire at the 3-Star rank, Obama is allowing him to retire at 4 Star rank.
The difference is this: As a 3-star, McChrystal would be "entitled" to an annual pension of a paltry $160, 068. But as a 4-star, he has to make do, in disgrace, on $181, 416. Now, this difference amounts to $21, 348. When Ned retired, gratefully, after 29 years of state service, his entire pension amounted to about $21,000, and, believe me, Ned was damn glad to get it.
One thinks of all the people whose retirement has been destroyed by the FDIC takeover of Washington Mutual, the Obama demonizing of BP, the exporting of hundreds of thousands of well-paying manufacturing jobs to desperate third-world countries, the loss of hundreds of thousands of state and local jobs through the Bush regime engineered Depression, and the "rightsizing" of payrolls at places like HP under Carly Fiorino and her successor, Mark Hurd (who took home about $24 million last year, one hears).
Ned's readers will perhaps understand if he has very little sympathy for General McChrystal. One senses he will land on his feet somehow, as opposed to the millions of average Joe's and average servicemen and women in this country who won't.

Saturday, July 3, 2010


Even though the Catholic Church considers pride to be one of the seven deadly sins, this doesn't stop a representative cross-section of Americans, who presumably consider themselves Christians, from being either "extremely proud" or "very proud" of their country. has detals.
Now this has led Ned to wonder what, exactly, these people are "proud" of: probably not their government, since most people say over and over again that they have low opinions of representatives and gummint employees, and now fewer than half say they approve of Obama. And most were rightly contemptuous of Bush and his criminal regime.
So what is it they are proud of? Ned confesses to be bewildered, unless it is the "idea" of America. The "land of the free, home of the brave."
Let's assume it is the things that America stands for that most people express "pride" in.
What is it this country stands for? Well, you could go to two disparate sources: Fox News and the Radical Right Media, or Howard Zinn's "A People's History of the United States." Check them both out if you have the stomach for the former.
Here are some of the things Ned presumes our friends and neighbors are proud of:
* Freedom--Oops, what about all those pesky black folks we lynched and cheated out of an education and opportunity until Lyndon Johnson pushed through Civil Rights laws, and as a result saw the migration of southern Democrats into the waiting arms of the Republicans, who now croak endlessly about "less government" and "states rights"?
* What about Franklin Roosevelt's "Four Freedoms?" Oops, we can't even guarantee all of our people health care, a decent job, or a decent place to live, especially the most frail and helpless of them. And the Right wants to destroy medicare and Social Security.
* Exporting democracy. We say we want everyone to be "free." But this doesn't apparently mean, "free to hate America."
And our attempt to export freedom to Iraq didn't work so well. But it did kill more than 100,000 Iraqis and at least 5,000 American troops. Moreover, it cost upwards of one TRILLION dollars and the cost in destroyed lives is going to haunt us for decades to come, just as thousands of mentally ill Vietnam veterans live under bridges and on heating grates. And those other experiments at "exporting democracy" to places like Nicaragua, Guatemala, El Salvador, Cuba, Chile, etc--they didn't work out too well either.
Not to mention at least one MILLION Vietnamese killed by American bombing and troops, as well as countless species eradicated by systematic defoliation of rainforests using one of the most toxic compounds ever invented, "Agent Orange."
* Maybe it's the "opportunity" this country offers. Well, there is a certain "Lotto mentality" that seems to be more and more prevalent, as the mega-rich keep getting richer and the middle class, backbone of the country, withers away. The working class, once a true American success story, has been systematically decimated (yes, Ned knows what 'decimate' means, thank you) by de-unionization, illegal immigration, drugs and the gradual destruction of state and local programs to help working class people get and maintain jobs and health care.
* Maybe it's the "quality of life"-- Oops, that's the one thing that is rapidly declining as companies drop pension plans, export jobs to third world countries, and state governments slash spending on higher education. Ned was astonished to find out that it costs $11,000 a year to attend graduate school at his local state university, not counting room and board. So, even if our students manage to get an education, they are saddled with crushing debt that they may never be able to repay.
* Maybe it's the "promise" of the U.S. Constitution, which in its Preamble, clearly states that one of the duties of the federal government is to "promote the general welfare." Ned wonders how that grabs those who want to strangle the federal government and flush it down the toilet.
* One thing we DO have that we can be proud of is one of the cleanest environments in the world, at least for most of us. But Ned worries that this clean environment is purchased at the cost of destroyed ecosystems all over the world, from rivers in China too polluted for INDUSTRIAL use, to clearcut rainforest in the tropics and the Arctic to give us our disposable diapers and junk mail, to seas depleted of fish.
Ned would have liked the pollsters to ask our friends and neighbors what is was they were "proud" of indeed.

Friday, July 2, 2010


An outfit with the unlikely name of "Ben Venue" Labs (illiterate French CEO, or what?) was featured in a NYT article today, in which a company spokesperson decries the lack of "qualified" job seekers. They do, however have many fine employees. One of the persons they pointed to was a machine operator who had been employed by the company for 15 years. This guy operated some kind of Buck Rogers machine that, see, you plug in some numbers here and it makes you a fully operational aluminum gizmo. Apparently the company needs 15 more guys like this but they can't find any. Seems they went through 3600 applicants (you really can't make this stuff up, can you?) and found NOBODY they could hire 'cause nobody knew how to operate the machine in question. Now, Ned is no Master of the Universe, or a Captain of Industry, or even a Sergeant at Arms for that matter, but he figures if you have somebody who knows how to operate the machine, why not hire the best people you can find and GET THIS GUY TO SHOW THEM HOW TO OPERATE IT!
After this starburst of creative ideation, Ned feels perhaps he should abandon writing, gardening, and Cruzan Blackstrap Rum for business consulting at the highest corporate level.
Seriously, one of the mistakes Ned's contemporaries often make is to overestimate the intelligence of the average company honcho. Given the mess they have made of the economy over the past three years (aided by those geniuses in the Bush regime of course), CEOs and Boards of Directors like those of AIG, Lehman Brothers, Citigroup, GM, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, BP, etc seem to be dumber than a bag of spanners, except in one thing: they certainly know how to extort money from the government and feather their own nest, while laying off thousands of Americans and "outsourcing" their jobs to India.
Ned's poster person for the entire era? Carly Fiorina, who was reportedly so incompetent as CEO of HP that the Board kicked her out (with a $42 million golden parachute and her own jet). This person, not content with failure at the highest corporate level, is now RUNNING FOR SENATOR FROM CALIFORNIA. [Update: she lost big.]
As Ned said before, you just can't make this stuff up.


South Carolina Senator Lindsay Graham is about as moderate as a conservative southern Republican is likely to get. He was an early supporter of John McCain in 2000, back when McCain hadn't yet sold his soul to the wacko extremists. He has shown an inclination, however modest, to work with Obama and the Democrats on a few issues, most notably on climate change and sadly on immigration "reform", read amnesty for illegals.
This week, he bemoaned the lack of "Reagan" Republicans.
Well I remember Reagan. I suffered through every day of the seeming 8-year prison sentence that was the Reagan regime, and I wonder who the hell Lindsay is talking about.
Could he mean a Repub who would open his presidential campaign croaking about 'states rights' in Philadelphia Mississippi, where 4 civil rights workers were murdered?
Could he mean someone who fabricated events that never happened based on Hollywood B-movie scripts, and then apparently believed the stories himself?
Could he mean someone who publicly disdained a scientific explanation for organic evolution?
Could he mean someone who by his own admission violated the law during Iran-Contra, and as such should have been impeached, removed from office and imprisoned?
Could he have in mind someone who never met a "defense" (read war) dollar he didn't like, and caused the deaths of thousands of innocent persons in Central America by subversive CIA activity?
Could he mean someone who used incendiary language to incite racial animosity, referring to "welfare queens" driving to the welfare office in Cadillacs to collect their checks?
Could he mean someone who wasted hundreds of billions of dollars on a "Star Wars" program that his own physicists said couldn't work, while decrying spending pennies on social welfare programs?
Could he mean someone who would nominate the most unqualified Neanderthals to the Supreme Court?
Could he mean someone whose wife relied on astrology to guide her life, and pressed the same guidance on him?
If this is who Lindsay Graham is looking for, I hope to Christ he never finds him or her. But could he have the lovely Sarah in mind, the half-term "governor" of Alaska?

Thursday, July 1, 2010


Ned understands that many of his loyal readers now hate BP, although they continue to buy gasoline and drive cars that get poor mileage. Naturally, being Americans, they believe America's problems are due to someone else's criminal behavior, incompetence, or conspiracy.
Ned is tempted to join them, at least occasionally. Here's why.
In my state, Oregon, we are facing yet another in a seemingly unending series of budget "crises." At present the governor Ted Kolongoski, for whom Ned voted, has ordered a 9% across-the-board budget cut for all state agencies. This will severely impact schools and of course, the frail and helpless among us the most. It could also be very harmful to small business owners who have little if any safety net, unlike retirees and state government employees with their guaranteed pensions.
Now, why are we facing this crisis? The state is short $557 million, a not inconsiderable sum, but if one divides this sum by the number of state residents, it amounts to a paltry $150 each. Now, Oregon has no sales tax and a very modest income tax, with all sorts of exemptions and deductions. For example, Ned's social security is not taxed, and the state gives him a $4000 deduction for health insurance costs.
Ned recently lost his BP dividends for the rest of the year due mainly to political posturing by President Obama, who apparently thought by getting "tough" with BP and its hapless and harried CEO, Tony Hayward, the country might take its eyes off Obama's growing debacle in Afghanistan, costing us $80 billion a year up-front and untold billions in costs associated with our troops coming back with traumas of the mind and body.
Hundreds of thousands of Americans are BP shareholders, just as hundreds of thousands owned Washington Mutual until its assets were seized by the Bush regime's FDIC and handed over to Chase. This cost shareholders, many of whom were Oregon residents since WaMU was a Northwest company, tens if not hundreds of millions in lost income.
But here's the important point. WE SHAREHOLDERS DON'T GET TO KEEP ALL OF THE MONEY. Oregon's 9% marginal tax rate would have earned it $270 for 2010 from Ned's BP dividends, which he would have gladly paid. It also cost the feds $450, which again he would gladly have paid.
Now, think of all the money the state and federal governments have lost in lost tax revenue from dividends that have been cut or eliminated, due to political grandstanding or blatant incompetence in the case of WaMu.
Ned suspects that state taxes from dividends from WaMU and BP could have helped close that Oregon budget deficit. Moreover, even if it isn't the total answer, those who got these dividends would have been in a good position to pay a small, say, $150, surtax to help the state avoid these kinds of problems.
Just keep in mind that all those who get stock dividends aren't rapacious capitalists, or selfish yuppies. They are just folks trying to get by. And, friends, we are all in this together, like it or not. If we don't get by, you don't get by.