Friday, January 28, 2011

Obama - The State of the Union - Deficit Reduction Commission

Obama has proven once again that he is an empty suit.  In fact he may be Manchurian Candidate realized.  Back in February 2010 Obama empaneled a bipartisan Deficit Reduction Commission.  (The National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform). The goal of the Commission was to offer suggestions on how to reduce the ever growing deficit. In December 2010 the Commission issued its recommendations: "The Moment of Truth".  In February 2010 the Washington Post (link now broken, alternate source) reported that Obama signed legislation to limit deficit spending.  In signing that legislation Obama is reported to have said: "“Now, Congress will have to pay for what it spends, just like everybody else, ... After a decade of profligacy, the American people are tired of politicians who talk the talk but don’t walk the walk when it comes to fiscal responsibility. It’s easy to get up in front of the cameras and rant against exploding deficits. What’s hard is actually getting deficits under control. But that’s what we must do.”(Emphasis added)

This past Tuesday, Obama gave his State of the Union Address. Naturally, I expected Obama to review the recommendations of the Commission and to offer concrete suggestions for those to be implemented.  He did make a gratuitous mention that: "The bipartisan Fiscal Commission I created last year made this crystal clear. I don't agree with all their proposals, but they made important progress. And their conclusion is that the only way to tackle our deficit is to cut excessive spending wherever we find it -- in domestic spending, defense spending, health care spending, and spending through tax breaks and loopholes."

At this point Obama drops the ball, there are no real recommendations, just empty nice sounding rhetoric. Charles Krauthammer writes: "The November election sent a clear message to Washington: less government, less debt, less spending. President Obama certainly heard it, but judging from his State of the Union address, he doesn't believe a word of it." To me the trite "solutions" offered up by Obama such as reducing medical costs, fixing social security, fixing the tax code, and raising taxes on the rich are the same old tired empty promises that every recent president has made and consequently tossed in the trash heap of history.

Particularity specious was Obama statement that: "So tonight, I am proposing that starting this year, we freeze annual domestic spending for the next five years. This would reduce the deficit by more than $400 billion over the next decade, and will bring discretionary spending to the lowest share of our economy since Dwight Eisenhower was president." (emphasis added).  Like myself and others, Mr. Krauthammer quickly observed that: "A $40 billion annual savings for a government that just racked up $3 trillion in new debt over the past two years is deeply unserious." Moreover, in 10 years Obama will not even be in office, which makes this deficit reduction proposal speculative and ever more ludicrous.

Now that Obama has been in office for two years, he finds that: "It’s easy to get up in front of the cameras and rant against exploding deficits."  To bad that he won't make the hard decision of "actually getting deficits under control. But that’s what we must do.” Continued deficit spending lays waste to any claim by Obama that he has any real intention to operate the government in a fiscally prudent manner and to balance the budget.

We have a "kid" on a sugar high grabbing all the candy in the candy store who seems incapable of comprehending that when it is gone it is gone.  Maybe Igor Panarin is right.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Analog Update III

I finished importing Dave Baranyi's MS Excel data into MS Access.  Over 15,600 stories were imported from Analog, Galaxy, Worlds of If, Fantastic, and the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction.  This was quite a bit of data entry work on the part of Dave Baranyi.

Please be aware that the data was imported from MS Excel into MS Access through a "dumb" program.  There is little in the way of error detection and correction.  I have fixed a few (very few) glaring errors, but there are many more. Besides the errors, there is quite a bit of missing data.  Specifically, the covers images.  There are over 2,000 cover images that would have to be added. With over 15,600 stories, it's going to be excruciatingly difficult to weed out the "bad" data.

If you are a regular longtime reader of Analog or another SF magazine and wish to have a copy please email your address. I will have to (snail) mail the database on a CD, assuming that there aren't too many requests. The database is just over 82 Megabytes in size. You will need MS Access and you will need to tell me what version of MS Access you have. Familiarity with Access would also be recommended, since the user interface is sparse with minimal user protection for making dumb mistakes.  If you find errors and missing data - I would be interested in fixing them. Please email me. If you send any corrections or additions, please provide a copy of the table of contents.

THE FUTURE: In theory, I will be working on making this database available through "Open Office" (using BASE) and "MySQL", so I do not intend to make further MS Access program updates. Still need to fix errors and add missing data though! So send in any corrections or missing data with photocopies of the table of contents.

Progress on developing a LINUX version has been much much slower than anticipated.  At least having an MS Access version permits data maintenance and allows others to use the database in the interim.

A SIDE NOTE: The Internet Speculative Fiction Database has a more in-depth database of information.  To a degree what I am doing is duplicative. Hopefully there is sufficient differentiation to justify this project.  Any thoughts?

SAMPLE IMAGES:  Below is the image of the main screen. (Click on the image for a better view.)

Below is the image when you select a specific magazine, such as Analog.

Below are two additional images. Double clicking on an authors name will show all stories written by the author; no matter the magazine. In this case, the stories of Harry Turtledove for both Analog and the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction.

You can also do an author or story search. In this case the string "Chandler" was used as an author search term. Again, it will display results for all magazines.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Another Guest Blog

I'm not really a fixture on this blog, obviously, but I thought I would share something I found on the Instructables website.

...Still, I'm not sure how this is anymore dangerous than just carrying home a LP bottle from the hardware store for your BBQ grill.

It sure seems like in this "sue-happy" age in which only EXPERTS do anything, that the average person has just become a "consumer" instead of a person interested in the world around them and wanting to invent and create. -- Bennelson from Plug-in Car Instructable

Now I know that my writing here tends to be a lot of cut and paste, but I wholeheartedly agree with that quotation. I also believe that the existence of Instructables and other DiY sites shows that there are still some people out there willing to invent and create and solve their own problems by hook or by crook. Good for them!