Monday, April 30, 2012

P90X Day 3: Shoulders & Arms

Just completed the day 3 workout. This one was a bit harder for me. I’m weak on upper body, and I always have been. But the real reason this one was harder is that I pushed myself harder. Even though each workout is different, I think I’m starting to get a feel of the intensity level and how hard I can push myself and still have enough left in the tank to finish.

Also, this one was mostly weights, variations on bicep curls, etc. I bought a fairly cheap set of barbells. I can change the weights on them, but it’s not incredibly easy to do so. It’s hard enough that I don’t want to take a break from the pace P90X sets for you to do it. So, I used the same weight for almost all of the exercises, and it might have been a bit too high for a few of them.

There are a few exercises where Tony specifically says to lower the weight. For those, I used my resistance bands. Note that you can use resistance bands pretty much throughout P90X. You can even use them for the pull up exercises. I don’t like them, because I feel like it’s too easy for me to cheat up a little with them. YMMV.

Anyway, I’ve determined that (so far) it looks like I can get by with 3 different weight amounts. A lighter weight for the ones where Tony directs it, the regular weight that I’ve been using, and another that’s a bit heavier. That weight amount was too light for me on one of the exercises on day one. Then I’ll hopefully being upgrading the weight amounts for all three as time goes by.

I have to admit, today’s workout was fun. It was hard, and I’m definitely feeling it. And I’m pretty sure I’m going to really be feeling it tomorrow. Like the other two days, it’s about an hour, and after about 35-40 minutes, I was ready for it to be over.

Finally, today had the 15 minute Ab Ripper X set at the end. These are optional, and hard as…well, they’re hard. Smile But I did do the full 25 reps for all but one of the exercises this time, unlike Saturday. That meant I had to pause the disc a couple times, because even though I did 25, I couldn’t keep up with the trainer’s pace. You do 12 different ab exercises, and 25 reps (at least) of each, in under 15 minutes. And then you go lay on the ground and whimper.

Tomorrow, Yoga X. The light yoga exercises I’ve been doing have been killing me. I can’t wait to see what kind of torture the P90X gang has dreamed up. Stay tuned.

Polling the President-April 2012

I haven’t done this in over 6 months, so it’s definitely time to restart this. This is my monthly look at how well or poorly President Barack Obama (D-USA) is polling.

As always, I’ll start with the RealClearPolitics averages. Today, his approval/disapproval number stands at 47.6/48.0. This is a bad number for the President, but it’s not terrible. People have been re-elected many times with sub 50 on their approval. And if this was the worst number for the President, it would be causing some mild concern from the White House, but no major fears. The good news is that this number is virtually unchanged over the last several months, and even a bit higher than last August.

Unfortunately, for the White House, that’s the bright spot in his numbers. Right Track/Wrong Track for the country is at 32/60.8. Again, the President can take some solace in the fact that it was far worse six months ago. But, if I’m a political consultant, I’m salivating at the opportunity to run against an incumbent President when only 32% of Americans think the country is headed in the right direction.

Finally, I take a peek at the Consumer Confidence Index from The Conference Board. The CCI for April is 69.2. Again, this is a big improvement over the mid-40s he was looking at last summer, and it’s in the ballpark of Obama’s all time high (70.4 from 2/2011). But it’s also a long way from the 90 rating that’s considered “healthy”. If unemployment numbers and GDP numbers released in the last few weeks are any guide, CCI will be lower next month, as well.

Starting next month, I will likely include some head-to-head numbers with former Governor Mitt Romney (R-USA). April seems a bit early for that though. Eventually, I’ll include battleground states as well, and start doing this more frequently, but likely not until sometime this summer.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

P90X: Day Two: Plyohhhhmetrics

Day two is Plyometrics, a great big fancy word meaning “jump training”. Basically, this is 60 minutes of relatively high impact aerobics involving lots of jumping. The general impression I’ve gotten from my research is that Chest & Back (yesterday) and Plyometrics (today) are the two hardest workout routines of the series.

It’s nice knowing that going in. When you finish day two, you get lots of endorphins, because you can tell yourself with confidence, “I can do this.” I think it was oversold to me, a bit. I admit I was nervous about today, but I got through it without feeling like I needed to go crawl back into bed and die.

Tony Horton, the inventor of P90X has a mantra for the plyometric workouts. “You can do anything for 30 seconds.” That’s the length of most of the exercises. And it’s a true statement. All of the exercises are doable for 30 seconds. They’re definitely working your heart, but it’s not like you’re doing 30 minutes of wind sprints or Herbies (see, 1980 U.S. Olympic Hockey team).

I got through today with some pain, but it wasn’t awful. I think I have a few advantages over most people starting out on P90X though.

  1. I’m thin. 12% body fat is pretty good. I can’t imagine doing today’s workout a year ago when I was 35 pounds heavier, or a few years ago when I was 70 pounds heavier. I’ve seen lots of before & after pictures of people doing P90X, and those of you that were pretty heavy to start with, I don’t know how you did it.
  2. I’ve been working out now for 120+ days. That can not be discounted. There’s a reason plyometrics is day two, after a killer day one. You’re sore and tired, and that makes it even harder. But since I’d been working out, I didn’t get the first day soreness nearly as bad as most will.
  3. Another thing about those 120 days of workouts. I’ve been doing lots of cardio, particularly the last 6 weeks. I didn’t get winded from the exercises today like I would have even a couple months ago.
  4. While this is primarily an aerobic workout, there’s no doubt that it works your legs pretty hard. I admit that I’m kind of a wimp, but the one area of my body that’s always been relatively strong is my legs. I’ve added a little more balance over the last 120 days by adding a little more upper body muscle, but my legs are still strong.

The key to getting through this workout is pacing yourself. Yes, it’s supposed to be eXtreme. You’re supposed to push yourself, but if you throw everything you have into the first 15 minutes, you’ll never make it through all 60. I admit that I probably didn’t push myself quite as hard as I could have. It was my first time, and I wasn’t sure how much my body could take, or how hard the exercises were going to be. Most of them are pretty easy individually, it’s the long series of them that makes it difficult. Still, my heart rate was consistently over 150, and even over 160 for a little while. That’s a pretty good number for a 45 year old, and the 160s might even be high. After the first 30 minutes, I was definitely starting to feel tired. Even still, I’ll likely try to push myself a little harder the next time this workout rolls around.

How am I doing on the diet? Eh. I didn’t get to 2000 calories yesterday. I realize I need to eat more to have enough energy for the workouts, and to give my body nourishment to grow. But, one of my keys to losing weight has been simple: eat when you’re hungry, don’t eat when you’re not. I did eat more than usual yesterday, but getting all the way up to 2,000 would have meant eating when I wasn’t hungry. Still, my protein and carb numbers were pretty good. Even fat was ok, but a little high, proportionally. I did finish under 40 g of fat for the day, though, and any day I can do that I’m going to count as a win.

Today I’m doing even better. Have had breakfast, lunch, and a snack already, and am at 134 g of protein, and 8 (yes, eight) g of fat. I may even be able to have some popcorn tonight, if I can keep that fat number down (sorry, I don’t do air popped popcorn—tastes like cardboard).

So, I’ve made it through the first two days of exercise without passing out or collapsing. I am feeling it though, on both upper and lower body. Tomorrow is Shoulders & Arms, and another Ab Ripper X. More pull ups. I have to admit, I walked by my pull up bar this morning and my chest and arms complained just at the sight. And I’m already dreading the days with Ab Ripper. Tomorrow will be fun. Tune in for the next update. I’ll try to get it out tomorrow night, but may be Tuesday morning.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Double Your Rate vs. Voting For Obama

A tweet yesterday caught my attention:

AG_Conservative

It got me to thinking. What would be the effect of doubling the typical college student’s loan rate, vs. voting for Obama?

The typical college loan is for about $25,000. The extra interest accrued over the course of the loan at 6.8% vs. 3.4% is $4,998. Obama has added $15,943.93 of new debt per citizen.

Or, since I hear I’m supposed to make pretty pictures, here it is (click for full size).

DontDoubleMyRate

The left column is how much extra the student will pay for her loan at 6.8%. The right column is how much more the student owes because Barack Obama (D-USA) was elected President.

Of course, it’s actually much worse. Obama has no intention of ever paying off this debt, so the student is going to pay far far more than $16,000 over the course of her life.

P90X: Day One. Thank God There’s Only 89 More Days to Go

Just completed today’s workout. Day 1 is Chest and Back, and Ab Ripper X.

For Chest and Back, you do a mix of 6 different types of push ups, 3 different pull ups, and 3 exercises with weights. Then you do all twelve exercises again.

For most of the push ups, I’m good. I can do easily 2/3 of the reps the trainers are doing, and in some cases, I can even keep pace. I struggled a bit with the Diamond ones, particularly the second set. For the pull-ups? Well, I obviously need more work there. On the second set of one of the types, I was only able to do 2. But, that’s two more than I could’ve done even six months ago. And now I have a baseline to work against for future days.

For the weights, I’m all right. I used 20 pound weights and that seemed right for 2 of the exercises, but was very light for the third. I need to go to at least 30 on that one, and maybe even 40. I probably need to get a second set, because I don’t want to have to be adding & removing weights during the workout.

Ab Ripper X was a totally different story. This is fifteen minutes of brutal ab exercises. You’re supposed to do 25 reps (at least) of 12 different exercises. I did 25 of exactly 3 of them. On most of them, I struggled to do 10. Again, though, now I have a baseline. And I know where I need to improve and push myself a little harder next time.

Overall, Chest & Back was not too bad. Don’t get me wrong. It was a hard workout, and I’m definitely feeling it right now. But it didn’t make me want to collapse. For Ab Ripper X, there’s quite a bit of room for improvement.

Day 2 is Plyometrics. My friend tells me that one is brutal. Yippee. I’ll let you know tomorrow.

Getting Ready for P90X

Once I had decided that I wanted to try P90X, I had to prove to myself that I was capable of doing it. A friend of mine has the package, so I borrowed disc 1 from him and attempted the first day’s workout. It was hard, but doable, so I figured I was ready to go.

I ordered it, and once it arrived and I unboxed it, I find out there’s a “Fit Test” you’re supposed to take before you start. Might have been nice to know that before I bought it. Maybe it says so on the website, but I missed it.

So, what’s the Fit Test?

Pull-ups: Do at least 3 if male, 1 if female. Ok, I did 4. I passed.

Vertical leap: Measure your vertical leap (there is guidance on how). At least 5” for male, 3” for female. 11”. I passed.

Push ups: 15 for male, 3 if female. I can do 100+ of these. Have done them several times as part of the Wii fit exercises. I wimped out for the Fit Test and quit after 40.

Sitting toe touch: Sit down with legs straight and stretch to your toes. Reach should be at least within 6” of your toes. Hmmm, yeah, we’ll call it 6”. (ok, I may have fibbed on this one a bit. I’m not the most limber person in the world)

Wall squat: Sit like you’re sitting in an imaginary chair with your back against the wall. Hold this for at least 60 seconds. You can slide down if you want, but once butt hits the floor, you’re done. I did 63 seconds. Probably could’ve done about 75, to be honest.

Bicep curls: 10 curls with 20 pound weights for male, 10 curls with 8 pounds if female. I did 12 at 20.

In an outs: This is an ab exercise. Do 25. I did 35.

Jumping jacks: 2 minutes, with last 30 seconds really pushing yourself. Was pooped after, but yes, I did it. You’re supposed to measure your heart rate for the next 4 minutes. I won’t tell you what my numbers were. Awful. And I wasn’t quite back to resting rate even after 4 minutes (it doesn’t list that as a requirement, but seems implied—only requirement is that you can do 2 minutes of jumping jacks).

Measure your body fat: Mine’s 12.26%.

The P90X package is a 90 day eXtreme workout divided into 3 segments. The two segments are 28 days each, and the third segment consumes the remainder. To do the P90X perfectly, you should follow their nutrition guidance as well. It has meal plans and recipes for you to follow, or just portion suggestions. Based upon your starting weight and typical physical activity, there are recommendations for your intake for each segment.

Being the math minded person that I am, even the portion suggestions wasn’t simple enough for me. I just wanted a calorie/gram breakdown for proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. I did the math, and for the first segment it works out for me to be about 230 g protein per day, 180 g carbs per day, and 40 g fat per day. This is a very high protein/low fat diet. As I’ve mentioned previously, I’m diabetic, so while 180 g carbs might be low for some, that’s actually about 50% more carbs than I generally eat in a day. I was already on what I thought was high protein, and I was only doing about 120 g per day. And my fat is too high. So, I have to double protein, increase carbs, and yet cut fat. Going to be fun. Well, at least it’s only for the 1st 28 days. It looks like the second 28 days might be a bit easier for me.

If you want calorie breakdowns, it’s about 920 cals in protein, 720 cals in carbs, and 350 cals in fat. Per day. Roughly 2,000 calories total. I typically do about 1400-1500. I don’t see myself growing all the way up to 2,000 right away. We’ll have to see how it goes.

So, that’s the prep work. Find out if you can do the things above, and figure out how you’ll be able to manage a very high protein, very low fat diet.

Getting In Shape–Phase II

This is the first of likely three posts today on this subject. Why? Because I want to split them up, that’s why.

If you recall, I mentioned earlier that I’ve been working on getting in shape. At the time I had worked out for 87 straight days. That number is now up to 125. Also, at the time I was starting my second round with the EA Sports Active: More Workouts on my daughters’ Wii. I have completed that now, and it was on the highest intensity.

So, I’m ready for something new. Previously, I had said that I needed something like the Wii Exergames because they give me feedback on whether I’m doing things right or wrong, and that I needed to do the bulk of my exercises in the morning. I’ve now decided that since I’ve been doing this for four months that I’m disciplined enough to do it every day and correctly without the feedback. And that I don’t have to do it first thing in the morning any more just to make sure it gets done.

So, in the end, I decided to really push myself. Today is my first day doing P90X. I have to do them in the evenings because the workouts are longer than what I’ve been doing on the Wii, and I really don’t want to get up at 4:30 in the morning. 5 am has been bad enough (yay, I don’t have to do that anymore!).

My plan is for a short daily update about each day’s workout. On the weekends, I’ll likely do the workouts in the afternoons, but during the week it will be the evenings, so the updates might not occur until the next day, but I’ll get them out. You can follow my progress and see how I’m doing.

I’m now down about 70 pounds form my all time high and 22 pounds since Christmas. Not too shabby. Here are a few pics that should bring out a laugh or two.

Me, at nearly my all-time high:me fat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Me again. This one is about 3 years old:

100_0446

And about a year old:

me2011

And, this one was taken about a month ago:

Picture 1

I have some more before shots for the P90X, but you’ll have to wait for another 90 days for them. I’ll give you both the before & after then. I’m sure those will also bring out more than a few laughs.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Do the Democrats Only Know One Word?

I’m beginning to think they do, and that one word is “tax”.

Proposals I have heard from Democrats (ok, liberals in some cases—I assume they’re Democrats, but maybe not) this week.

  1. The Buffett Rule – This is a variation of AMT, which already exists. It would apply a minimum tax rate of 30% on individuals with income exceeding a million dollars per year. It would raise about $6 billion per year. And it’s not even supposed to reduce the deficit. President Barack Obama (D-USA) has new spending ideas for that money. He wants to spend it on “clean energy”.
  2. Student loan rates – Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) says that we can pay for keeping student loan rates down by raising payroll taxes on small businesses.
  3. To fix the imminent collapse of Social Security, ThinkProgress proposes eliminating caps on payroll taxes.
  4. Obama wants to end tax breaks for big oil. Never mind that they already pay more in taxes than just about any other industry, and never mind that this will only increase the price of gas even further.

Of course, these are all in addition to the new taxes coming in 2013 that will hit almost every single American. I’m talking about the new taxes from ObamaCare and the end of the Bush tax cuts. If you’re middle class, the cost of this is going to be several thousand dollars for you, each year. I’ve figured mine and it’s about $8,000. That’s close to $700 per month. I don’t know about you, but there are not many places in my monthly budget where I can find $700. Probably means no new cars for me and my wife for a while, and more hand-me-downs for my younger daughter.

And don’t forget there’s the often discussed VAT tax.

Libs, I get it. You don’t believe in supply side economics. The Laffer curve makes you laugh. But, surely there’s some point where even you can say to yourself, “Wow, that’s a lot of new taxes. How are people and businesses going to be able to pay those?”

Republicans in Congress, this is why the Tea Party was formed. Remember, it stands for “Taxed Enough Already”. And this is why you can’t give in on any of the Democrat demands on taxes. Because it’s never enough. It will never be enough.

This list is insane. And in the end, it’s still going to destroy the economy, anyway. We have to stop asking ourselves “how do we pay for this?” and start asking ourselves “how can we spend less?”

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

What If the Unthinkable Happens?

A little different post from me today. Few numbers, just speculation about a possible result of having high government debt and ignoring our national resources.

I’ve pointed out endlessly the issues relating to the economic crisis in Europe. I’ve also mentioned the ongoing situation in the Middle East more than once. And I’ve discussed our own debt and who owns it constantly. The point I’m trying to make here is that there are high tension areas all over the world. And it’s not getting better. I haven’t even mentioned Korea, or Russia.

This kind of world wide tension is what led to both World Wars.

So, what if the unthinkable happens? What if there’s a protracted, conventional, World War? I won’t go completely unthinkable and discuss nuclear options. I’m just talking about conventional warfare with ships, planes, tanks and lots of young men (and women).

Can the United States win such a war? I don’t want to say that I’d bet against us. Americans have a long history of fighting hardest when our backs are against the wall. And we have an incredible military with the best trained soldiers and the best military minds in the world.

But the odds would definitely be stacked against us.

We certainly don’t seem to have the patience for a four year effort like WWI and WWII. Remember, after two weeks of the War in Iraq, the press was already using the word “quagmire”. It was such a huge issue in the 2004 Presidential race that the Democrats nominated an anti-war hero.

Conventional wars cost a lot of money. How will the United States finance the war effort? The countries that have been buying most of our debt are the countries we’re most likely to be at war with. We’d have to sell war bonds. But we’d still have to finance our existing debt. Which would mean more bonds. And we have a weakened economy. Who’s going to be able to buy the bonds?

What about natural resources? How are we going to power our ships and planes? The countries that have been selling us most of our oil are also the countries we’re most likely to be at war with. We’re not drilling enough here or refining enough here to do it on our own. And it would take money and time to get that infrastructure going again, particularly the refineries.

And it’s not just oil. Building refineries, ships, planes, weapons requires lots of steel. Steel production in the United States is barely a quarter of what it was in 1973. How long would it take to get steel production back up to the levels we’d need for a protracted war? And how much would that cost?

Could we win? I honestly don’t know.

Fortunately, there’s little to no chance of the unthinkable happening, right?

Right?

Monday, April 23, 2012

If I Wanted America To Fail…

I tweeted about this a couple times this weekend, and it’s been making the blogger rounds. If you haven’t watched this video, please do so. If you have, and think that it’s silly that yet another blogger is posting it, well too bad. I like to keep links to these things for later reference.

The Final Countdown In Europe

As you know, I’ve been pessimistic about the Eurozone for more than a year. I’ve been telling you for that long that a Greece collapse and default were inevitable (I was right). The only questions were whether the rest of the Euro leaders could come up with a default plan for Greece that would a) be acceptable to the creditors, and b) provide a soft enough landing for Greece that would avoid an overall Eurozone collapse.

Those questions still remain unanswered, but things do look a bit better than they did 6 months ago.

The second problem for the Eurozone has always been that Greece was only one part of the problem. I’ve used this chart before, but it demonstrates the problems very well. (Click for full-size)

I said this the last time I used this pic:

When Greece falls (yes, I said “when”, not “if”), the effects will be felt all over Europe. It’s hard to see how some of the teetering economies there will be able to survive. Spain in particular is very weak, perhaps the weakest card on the table. One of the many problems is that everyone has been financing everyone else’s debt, like paying off one credit card with another. Eventually that stops working and the debt comes due. That time is now for Europe and the United States.

Spain is still very weak. And Spain is going to follow Greece’s course. Some bad news out of Spain this weekend:

Why the bad headlines? Put bluntly, things are accelerating in the Eurozone now. If we’re still talking about an impending or probable Spanish collapse three months from now, it will be a minor miracle. We’re not months away, but weeks, possibly days.

From Zerohedge:

Spain is about to enter a full-scale Crisis.

A few facts about Spain:

•    Total Spanish banking loans are equal to 170% of Spanish GDP.

•    Troubled loans at Spanish Banks just hit an 18-year high.

•    Spanish Banks are drawing a record €316.3 billion from the ECB

      (up from €169.2 billion in February).

[…]

Spain is telling us point blank that disaster is looming.

With that in mind, I believe we have at most a month before Spain drags down the entire EU. The Spanish economy and banking system are too large to be bailed out. The IMF and ECB know this.

Moreover, worldwide banking exposure to Spain is well over €1 TRILLION. What impact do you think that might have on the EU which has an entire banking system that is leveraged at 26 to 1 (Lehman Brothers was leveraged at 30 to 1 when it collapsed)?

The Europeans have done a decent job so far of containing the Greek crisis. This one will not be able to be contained (and if you think that Greece had nothing at all to do with what’s happening in Spain, you’re fooling yourself). Spain’s economy is too big, and the rest of Europe has their own problems.

More European news from this weekend:

The first line is bad news because Germany has been the bright spot in the European economy of late. If it falters, there’s no one else to pick up the slack. The last is bad news because Sarkozy and Merkel have essentially been the power brokers behind staving off the Eurozone collapse. If Sarkozy is replaced by Hollande (and he will be…the odds look very long for Sarkozy right now), France and Germany will not be on the same page in this crisis. If they aren’t on the same page, it’s going to get much worse before it gets better.

And if you think that the Eurozone can go into recession without having a significant negative impact on the American economy, it’s time to put down the hash pipe.

UPDATE: Just because Greece may have a soft landing, don’t think everything there is sunshine and rainbows (from ZeroHedge): It’s official & As I Foretold Years Ago, Greece Is Now In a True Depression. Also from ZeroHedge, there’s this today regarding the Eurozone: “I Do Not Believe, Any Longer, That The Catastrophe Can Be Avoided”.

Pleasant, huh?

Sunday, April 22, 2012

2% of the World’s Oil Reserves, and 20% of the World’s Oil

You’ve heard this quote from the President by now.

“We have 2% of the world’s oil reserves. We use 20% of the world’s oil.”

The first problem is that he’s conflating two things that have nothing to do with each other. He might as well say we have 2% of the world’s apples, but we eat 20% of the world’s oranges. If he did, you’d say, “so?” Which is exactly what you should be saying about his quote now.

Look at it this way (h/t PJ Tatler):

Imagine that those 2% are 2% of global reserves of 100,000. That would be a volume of 2000.

Imagine that the yearly global production is 100. America’s consumption is 20%, so a volume of 20.

In this example, America could go on consuming a volume of 20 since it owns itself a volume of 2000. It could go on consuming 20% of the world oil reserves for another hundred years.

The proportions of the numbers he uses are pretty accurate. In fact, we can go on consuming 20% of the world’s oil reserves for about another hundred years.

But that’s not even the worst problem with his statement. The worst problem is that the 2% number is incredibly misleading (some might be inclined to say “You lie!”).

Here is the truth, straight from the Congressional Research Service. The United States is the most fossil fuel rich country in the entire world. Russia is second, and Saudi Arabia is a distant (!) third.

The CRS report uses BOE (Barrels of oil equivalent) as its unit of measure. This means they count coal and natural gas reserves as their equivalent in oil (more on that later). Here’s the conversion they use:

Coal 1 Short Ton = 3.45 BOE
Natural Gas 1 million cubic feet = 177.2 BOE

 

So, what does the CRS say about our BOE reserves?

It says we have about 1.3 trillion BOE’s. In 2010, the U.S. consumed 6.99 billion barrels of oil. At that rate, we could supply ourselves for 185.98 years.

But wait, Chris, you’re cheating. The President specifically said “oil”, and you threw in natural gas and coal. How much in just oil?

That’s a reasonable question. Sadly, I don’t have a reasonable answer. The “proven” oil reserves for the U.S. is around 20 billion barrels of oil, but that doesn’t include ANWR, oil in the Gulf, or shale. And the CRS report doesn’t break down their total estimates for fossil fuel reserves that way.

However, there’s this number which is quite interesting: 70,837,000,000. What’s that number? That’s the number of estimated barrels of oil available in North America, including only fields where there’s a 50% chance or better of retrieving at least that amount.

Now, here’s the other thing worth pointing out. And this is why the BOE number is significant. First, we use oil for a lot of things, not just gasoline. Most of these other items could easily be powered by coal or natural gas (or shale oil, which can’t easily be refined into gasoline, but can be used to produce diesel fuel and jet fuel, for example).

So, while the question of how much oil we consume per year is a good one, a better one is how much gasoline we consume per year.

So, what’s that number? In 2011, it was 134 billion gallons. A barrel of crude oil can be refined to produce about 19 gallons of gasoline, and 23 gallons of other products. So, our 7 billion barrels of oil produced 162 billion gallons of other petroleum products. The need for these products is increasing, and virtually all of this need can be supplied by our coal, natural gas, and shale oil.

In summary, the U.S. can easily supply all of its fossil fuel energy needs for the foreseeable future. All it takes is the decision by the President and Congress to do so.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

April 19, 1943

On the eve of Passover, Polish Jews rise up against Nazi Germany in the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.

The Germans had sent troops into the Warsaw ghettos to begin the final round up of the Jews there, to be transported to various concentration camps for their eventual execution. The insurgents used Molotov cocktails and hand grenades, which were thrown at the troops and their tanks. They set fires wherever they could and generally created havoc over the next month. 17 Nazis were killed, but over 13,000 Jews were killed and 50,000 sent to the concentration camps anyway.

In mere words, it sounds as if the Jewish effort was futile and a waste of time. It was not. It was the strongest action of resistance to date by the people who were being executed en masse by the Third Reich. They fought and showed that the days where they would willingly accept their own destruction were over.

In 2012, April 19 is Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Friday, April 13, 2012

What Does Being Conservative Mean to Me?

I was asked that on Twitter today, and while my answer is short, it’s too long for Twitter, so here goes.

The shortest possible answer I can come up with is this: Belief in individual freedom and responsibility, the U.S. Constitution and Amendments, and particularly the Bill of Rights.

Obviously, that’s defined from an American perspective, but hey, I’m an American.

That’s really all there is to it, but if you want more details, read on. (I won’t blather on as much as I normally do, I promise!)

I’m both a social conservative and a fiscal conservative, but I lean towards fiscal issues more than social issues. I think you can find the answer to just about any political question from the belief statement above.

Samples:

Q: What about gay marriage?

A: I don’t see anything about marriage in the U.S. Constitution. To me, that means that the federal government should not be in the marriage business. I’m Catholic, and gay marriage would certainly be prohibited by my church. But, if you belong to a church where it’s considered acceptable, then you should listen to your heart and to your church.

Q: What about national healthcare?

A: I think Article I & II, and the Ninth and Tenth Amendment pretty clearly lay out the powers of the Legislative and Executive branches. I don’t see it listed there.

Q: So, you don’t believe in social programs at all? I always knew you cons were selfish.

A: See above, under personal liberty and personal responsibility. I do believe that the government should promote these wherever possible. If a given social program can be shown to enhance personal liberty and personal responsibility, then I’m all for it. Otherwise, no. An example might be a jobs training program. I think you could argue that the Eisenhower interstate system enhances personal liberty, by promoting ease of travel as well, and providing jobs that create useful infrastructure. That might be a stretch, and I’m certainly not going to say that all interstate dollars have been well spent. But no, I’m against limitless unemployment benefits, for example. Those detract from both personal liberty and personal responsibility.

Q: Ohhh…you’re one of those “small government types”. Is there any government program you do like?

A: The answer to that appears in the preamble:

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Q: So, you believe in the preamble, huh? I guess that means national defense is ok, but what about “promoting the general welfare”? Isn’t that a social program?

A: No, I do believe in the general welfare clause. I think it’s been stretched beyond meaning, but what I said about social, and even economic, programs that expand personal liberty and personal responsibility still applies.

Q: What about President G.W. Bush’s (R-USA) wire taps?

A: See the 4th Amendment. Bush exceeded his authority here. I don’t have a problem with wiretaps as long as they follow the legal procedures set up for them.

Q: Are you sure you’re not a libertarian? You sound more like a libertarian than a conservative to me.

A: I’m close to a “small-L” libertarian, but nowhere near a “big-L” one. It’s a grey area, but I think libertarians tend to desire a government that is too small to be workable. I want a small government, but one that’s big enough to carry out its primary duties. Also, I think libertarians take the “personal liberty” idea to extreme. Giving up national security to enhance personal liberty won’t result in expanded personal liberty for very long. I’m very much a believer in “original intent”, and a strong believer in the 9th and 10th amendments. Some people call this a federalist, even though it was called being an anti-federalist in the 1800s (someday I really need to blog about that). I prefer Constitutionalist. If you want to say that I’m not really a conservative, I’m a Constitutionalist, I won’t be hurt by that.

Q: Uh huh. What are the “primary duties”?

A: Establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense… Smile 

Q: Fine, so you can handle some of the bigger issues, but what about changes in the times and the technology that goes with it? What about businesses that want to look at your e-mails, or cops that want to examine your cell phones?

A: This whole “living constitution” idea is crazy. The founders were pretty smart. They didn’t have to know about cell phones or email. All they had to know about was what was right and what was wrong. The 4th Amendment covers this. Although I would say that if you’re working for a company and using company e-mail, you should remember that it is the company’s e-mail. And that anything you use it for belongs to them. Personal e-mail is a different story altogether.

I’m sorry, I did blather on as much as usual. Brevity may be the soul of wit, but it’s not the soul of me.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Obama By the Numbers

 

Lately, I’ve been curious about where we are and where we’re headed. I thought it’d be fun to compare today with January, 2009, but also with November, 2008, since that’s when so many of you decided it was a good idea to elect a know-nothing ideologue as President of the United States.

So, are you better off than you were four years ago? Let’s go to the tape.

Real Estate:

National Median Home Value (inflation adjusted $)

Now January, 2009 November, 2008
$157,000 $178,914 $191,975

Note that the peek median home value was $279,001 in Q2/2006, and the current value of $157,000 is the bottom.

Stocks (DJIA):

Now January, 23, 2009 November 7, 2008

12,918.99

8,077.56

8,943.81

Ok, gotta be liking that if you have a lot of money tied up in the stock market.

But is it real, or is it fake? DJIA isn’t indexed against anything. Has your stock value gone up, or has the value of your dollar just gone down?

Some people like to look at the Dow vs. Gold. This is the DJIA represented in ounces of gold.

Now January, 2009 November, 2008

8.01

8.7

10.84

So, the value of the Dow vs. gold continues to decline. Lest anyone accuse me of cherry picking data to make President Barack Obama (D-USA) look bad, it’s worth pointing out that the Dow vs. gold index has been in near steady decline since late 1999, when it peaked at about 42 ounces.

Some people criticize the Dow vs. gold index. I happen to like it, but perhaps the Dow vs. inflation is better

Now January 23, 2009 November 7, 2008

12,918.99

8,379.25

9,423.67

Inflation has been relatively under control (at least the way it’s measured today) over the last few years, and the Dow has made a 4,000 point leap. So, even inflation indexed, it looks pretty good. Ok, so one check mark in Obama’s favor.

Price of Gas:

Now January 19, 2009 November 3, 2008

$3.907/gal

$1.85/gal

$2.40/gal

Well, that speaks for itself.

Jobs:

Numbers are from reports released in April, 2012, February, 2009, and November, 2008. I used the “not seasonally adjusted” section, because I think when you’re talking about things like workforce participation and number of employed persons that it’s wrong to use anything other than absolute values. Also, since I don’t completely understand how the “seasonal adjustments” are calculated, I don’t trust the numbers. The numbers aren’t substantially different using the seasonally adjusted numbers, however.

  Now January, 2009 November, 2008
Unemployment Rate

8.4%

8.5%

6.1%

U-6 Unemployment Rate

14.5%

13.9%

11.8%

Labor Force Participation

64.2%

65.4%

66.1%

Employment-population ratio

58.5%

59.8%

62.0%

# Employed

139,764,000

140,436,000

145,543,000

# Unemployed

12,904,000

13,009,000

9,469,000

# Not in labor force

88,288,000

81,293,000

79,601,000

# wanting job

6,041,000

5,866,000

4,800,000

Median Household income (inflation adjusted)

$49,777

$51,768
(from Sept, 2009 report)

$52,801

 

Ok, the only numbers on that chart that look like improvement for the President are that unemployment has dropped a whopping .1% from January, 2009 to now, and the number of unemployed persons has fallen 105,000 from January, 2009. Those are not impressive changes and more than offset by the fact that 6,995,000 more people are not counted as part of the work force, and that there are 175,000 more people looking for a job. And the numbers are even worse when you compare to November, 2008, which is when you decided that putting a neophyte with no plan in the White House was a good idea.

I’ll update this post periodically between now and election day. Probably not monthly, but fairly regularly.

New And Noteworthy

What’s Going On?

Well, I really have missed doing my September 11 timeline. My daughters have asked about that, and I want them to understand it a little bet...

All The Best