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May 10, 2011

Overnight Open Thread

So Who's Got Inflation?

Well not here of course per Ben Bernanke.

But pity the poor Venezuelans suffering from a nearly 30% annual inflation rate - higher than even Zimbabwe and the Congo. It's takes a special kind of old school socialism to bring even an oil rich country's economy to its knees. And then you have Ireland which actually had a 1.6% deflation rate in 2010.

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And even if world inflation rates aren't out of control (yet), food prices are already near historical highs. And nothing makes the world more unstable than hungry, impoverished people who suddenly can't afford food. So look for uh, interesting times ahead.

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And to make up for the unexpected DOOMitude I offer you this kitteh:

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More on the Abottabad Mission

But then Leon Panetta said one thing and Carney said the opposite, and Hillary a third, John Brennan a fourth, and Barry, Jr., came up with a whole slew of lies, day after weary day. Bloggers were picking holes in all the stories as fast as they came out.

Then the White House confessed that the heroic Situation Room photo was faked the video feed had been interrupted.

Mostly I just love this picture.
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Fukushima Two Months On
It's now been over two months since the tsunami(s) hit Japan and damaged the nuclear plant at Fukushima. And contrary to all the hysterical reports northern Japan is not uninhabitable, Tokyo didn't have to be evacuated, the plant workers weren't fatally exposed to radiation, and the daiichi reactor doesn't appear to have had a catastrophic meltdown.

Despite all this there appears to have been no public health impact due to radiation (stress and fear are another matter), and no plant workers were exposed to more than 250 millisieverts the raised limit for emergency nuclear responders, equal to five years' regular working exposure, but insufficient to cause a serious health risk.

So: serious accident, yes but it's no Chernobyl. (Go read the article. It's good.) The main take-away seems to be that, like a plane crash, it takes more than one thing going wrong to cause an accident in this case, two major natural disasters, each of which exceeded the plant's design spec, occurring within the space of an hour, compounded by failure to implement a safety system that is standard elsewhere. Despite which, they managed to dodge the bullet (for the most part: it's still going to take billions of dollars and several years to clean up the plant).

There's something about anything nuclear that seems to bring on journalistic malpractice and teh crazee in people.

Is Your BA Really BS?
Well if you look at getting a BA degree as less of a Social Status Good and more of a time/money investment, it's approaching that point:

In 1991, young workers with bachelor's degrees earned, on average, 1.48 times the amount that those with only high school diplomas earned.

Young college graduates' earnings peaked in 2000 at 1.68 times that of diploma-holders, then declined to 1.54 percent in 2009.

Keep in mind that the price of tuition increased nearly 300 percent during this same period.

Well as long as 0.54 * your lifetime earnings with a HS diploma is significantly greater than 4 years of tuition + 4 years of missed wages, then going to college still makes sense. For now.

How Bad Are Things in Germany?
So bad the government there will now pay for your in vitro fertilization treatments in an attempt to raise their low birth rates. Germany currently has the lowest birth rate in Europe, and parts of eastern Germany have the lowest birth rate in the world.

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How Bad Are Things in Mexico?
So bad that drug cartels now have their own Mad Max-style tanks like 'El Monstruo 2011'.

The Blog Del Narco reports that the tank was captured two weeks ago after a firefight outside Ciudad Mier in northern Mexico. The vehicle had a top speed of 68 mph, and could carry 12 people but had no side shielding for its tires, which ultimately led to its end.

It's not the first time the drug cartels have turned to armored vehicles to augment their forces; this heavy-duty armored truck was captured last year. And Mexican officials have said they expect similar monsters are already lurking in the countryside.

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The Flashbang Bra Holster
Hey is that lady about to flash me?...Oh SNAP!
Some ladies may be packing more than just their boobehs.

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Judgment Day: May 21, 2011?
Okay last week I saw a van fully painted up proclaiming that May 21st would be Judgment Day, and this weekend I also saw two different billboards announcing the same thing. So what gives? Well apparently there's a small group of true believers at familyradio.com who believe hidden clues in the Bible prove that the world will end May 21, 2011:

"Ive crunched the numbers, and its going to happen," he says.

Haubert says the Bible contains coded "proofs" that reveal the timing. For example, he says, from the time of Noahs flood to May 21, 2011, is exactly 7,000 years. Revelations like this have changed his life.

"I no longer think about 401(k)s and retirement," he says. "Im not stressed about losing my job, which a lot of other people are in this economy. Im just a lot less stressed, and in a way Im more carefree."

Hes tried to warn his friends and family. They think hes crazy. And that saddens him.

"Oh, its very hard," he says. "I worry about friends and family and loved ones. But I guess more recently, Im just really looking forward to it."

Haubert is 33 and single. Brown is married with several young children, and none of them shares his beliefs. Its caused a rift with his wife but he says that, too, was predicted in the Bible.

Also predicted in the Bible - me enjoying extra BBQ ribs on the 20th. You know, just in case.
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Sturgeon Cam!
Thanks HeatherRadish.







This Used To Be Illegal
It's hard to imagine that only a few decades ago mixed-race marriages were illegal in many states (but clearly not in HI in the early 60's). Only in 1967 did the US Supreme Court rule that it was unlawful to ban marriages based on race. Interestingly in the years since then black male-white female marriages have greatly increased while white male-black female marriages have barely changed at all.

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How Come McDonald's French Fries Taste So Good?
Well it's no accident - there are whole teams of flavor scientists whose full-time job is to add just the right subtle flavoring to foods:

Grainger had brought a dozen small glass bottles from the lab. After he opened each bottle, I dipped a fragrance-testing filter into it -- a long white strip of paper designed to absorb aroma chemicals without producing off notes. Before placing each strip of paper in front of my nose, I closed my eyes. Then I inhaled deeply, and one food after another was conjured from the glass bottles. I smelled fresh cherries, black olives, sauted onions, and shrimp. Grainger's most remarkable creation took me by surprise. After closing my eyes, I suddenly smelled a grilled hamburger. The aroma was uncanny, almost miraculous -- as if someone in the room were flipping burgers on a hot grill. But when I opened my eyes, I saw just a narrow strip of white paper and a flavorist with a grin.
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The Yahoo AoSHQ group. You know the way.

Tonight's post brought to you by the number 20:

Notice: Posted by permission of AceCorp LLC. Please e-mail overnight open thread tips to maetenloch at gmail. Otherwise send tips to Ace.

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posted by Maetenloch at 09:25 PM

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