The Locker Room

May 12, 2008

Re: WRAL's Drought Monitor

Posted by Hal Young at 11:08 PM

Last month I ran some numbers against that simple chart, Chad. As of April 7, WRAL was saying we were 8.81 inches below normal -- but that was over a fifteen month period, all the way back to January 2007.

What it doesn't show is that we received more rain than normal during six of those months (seven, since we were more than an inch above normal in April).

It doesn't show that in the six months between October and April we were less than an inch and a quarter below normal, which included a very dry November. April will have made up most of that, too.

It doesn't show that the last three months of 2007 brought us a half inch more than usual (including the very dry November), nor that March rainfall was 37.2% above average.

Bottom line, unless WRAL adjusts its baseline, things will only be "back to normal" if the rain is 28% above average for the last three quarters of 2008 -- 10 inches extra for the entire year. And somehow, I suspect that if ten inches less than normal is a crisis, ten inches more than normal might be a problem somewhere as well.

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Re: Duke Commencement (My favorite Kingsolver quote)

Posted by Dr. Roy Cordato at 5:15 PM

"we can either shift away from a carbon-based economy, or find another place to live.  Imagine it: we raised you on a lie. Everything you plug in, turn on or drive, the out-of-season foods you eat, the music in your ears. We gave you this world and promised you could keep it running on: a fossil substance. Dinosaur slime, and it’s running out. The geologists only disagree on how much is left, and the climate scientists are now saying they’re sorry but that’s not even the point. We won’t get time to use it all. To stabilize the floods and firestorms, we’ll have to reduce our carbon emissions by 80 percent, within a decade."

I do not think it would be possible to caricature this woman. By the way, I don't understand why every African American in the audience didn't walk out when she equated global warming to slavery. That is a huge insult, and yet she got away with it.


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Who are "they"?

Posted by Dr. Terry Stoops at 3:49 PM

Under the Dome posted an interesting quote from State Rep. Deborah Ross, a Democrat from Raleigh.

The Raleigh Democrat says her biggest goal for the budget is a raise for teachers and state employees, though she did not have a specific amount in mind.

"I don't want to give a number because then they'll be mad at me because I didn't say a high enough number," she said. "I'm hoping that we can do as well as we did last year."
(Emphasis added.)

So, who are "they"? NCAE? SEANC? Duh.

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Drought Monitor (It's still bad or is it?)

Posted by Chad Adams at 3:38 PM

From WRAL (bet ya' didn't know this one): 

 Rainfall since 1/1/2007 at RDU
Normal: 58.77 inches
Actual: 51.12 inches
Deficit:7.65 inches
Updated May 12 at 5:10a.m.



It is interesting that we track it back to January of '07. Why not January of '06? or ten years ago? Oh, we only track it back to the date that would make it look the worst.

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N.C. has fourth-highest beer tax

Posted by Joseph Coletti at 2:42 PM

The governor wants to increase the beer tax by 80 percent. The state already has the fourth highest tax on this beverage that was once considered a staple food, according to the Federation of Tax Administrators. The governor's proposed tax hike would make NC's tax the second highest in the country.

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Re: Smoke and Mirrors

Posted by Hal Young at 1:36 PM

If this were the lottery, then we could put up billboards to promote the behavior that boosts critical revenues. I imagine a picture with a multi-ethnic group of smiling third graders saying, "Thank You For Smoking! It's For The Children! -- (signed) The N.C. Cigarette Tax"

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Cost of living adjustments: smoke and mirrors or common sense?

Posted by Dr. Terry Stoops at 1:27 PM

After announcing a proposed seven percent increase in teacher pay (to get to the "national average"), Governor Easley called adjusting teacher pay for cost of living "smoke and mirrors."

Obviously, Easley was alluding to my annual teacher pay report, which adjusts teacher pay for cost of living, experience, and pension contribution. By the way, when adjusted for these factors, North Carolina’s adjusted teacher compensation is $55,731, which is $5,401 higher than the U.S. adjusted average compensation and $4,811 higher than the U.S. adjusted median.

Of course, I would like the Governor's office to explain this press release from October 25, 2005:

Easley’s plan will raise North Carolina’s pay, when adjusted for cost of living, above the national average by 2006-07 and to $4,000 above the national average by 2008-09.

It doesn't sound like the Governor has a problem with cost of living adjustments for teacher pay after all.

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Education Remains State Issue Not Federal

Posted by Lindalyn Kakadelis at 10:57 AM

U.S. News & World Report article discusses the reasons why K-12 education is not a “hot topic” for the presidential candidates.  This really is no surprise since “No Child Left Behind” did little to resolve our education crisis. Besides the fact, education IS a state issue.  It will be interesting to see if the gubernatorial and general assembly campaigns make education an issue.  The NEA’s radio ads supporting Perdue gives McCrory an opportunity to make education a defining issue between them. If he does not seize this opportunity it may be taken away by informed democrats. Today’s St. Petersburg Times reports on how democratic lawmakers now support school choice initiatives.  

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Re: Those apocalyptic dogs we know and love

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 10:52 AM


I hope Ms. Kingsolver doesn't equate the benefit of ending slavery (freedom for a significant portion of the American population) with the benefit of capping carbon emissions (nothing). 

By the way, I remember one thing from the speaker at my commencement. Ted Turner told a bunch of 22-year-olds, "If you're having marriage problems, seek counseling." 

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Long-time Statesman, One-term Governor

Posted by Dr. Troy Kickler at 10:45 AM

A Patriot during the Revolutionary War, Jesse Franklin later served his state in the House of Commons, as a state senator, as a U.S. Representative, a U.S. Senator (president pro tempore), and finally as governor of North Carolina.  Although only governor for one term, Franklin earned a reputation for being a practical, fiscal conservative during his administration.

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Dogs of the Apocalypse: Commencement at Duke

Posted by Dr. Troy Kickler at 10:27 AM

I had the distinct pleasure of attending Duke's graduation yesterday. A pleasure because I saw many good friends celebrate the end of four years in the Gothic wonderland. Distinct because I spent most of the day huddled under an umbrella in Wallace Wade Stadium (my first time there). But I digress.

Barbara Kingsolver, author of The Poisonwood Bible among others, was selected as the commencement speaker. She started out well enough. A few jokes, a cute anecdote about her daughter--all delivered with the smooth eloquence one would hope to find in a graduation speaker.

Then it went downhill. Really fast.

What had seemed tame enough quickly became an indictment of (1) climate change; (2) buying things; (3) materialism/owning things in general; (4) purchasing/eating anything not local; and (5) a general lack of a community spirit. Or something like that. I say something like that because the wince I felt at the first mention of the Kyoto Protocol became something akin to intellectual rigor mortis as the speech descended into trite ramblings and buzzwords that would do a precocious freshman writer proud. She didn't say anything new: she essentially told the same old leftist story, just this time she had a funny robe and big words.

A sample? The really "wow" moment came about halfway through, when Kingsolver equated ending slavery with capping carbon emissions. Slavery. Caps on carbon emissions. Picked your jaw up off the floor yet? Then read and weep:

Before the last UN Climate Conference in Bali, thousands of U.S. citizens contacted the State Department to press for binding limits on carbon emissions…But our government is reluctant to address it, for one reason: it might hurt our economy…For a lot of history, many nations said exactly the same thing about abolishing slavery. We can’t grant humanity to all people, it would hurt our cotton plantations, our sugar crop, our balance of trade. Until the daughters and sons of a new wisdom declared: We don’t care. You have to find another way…Have we lost that kind of courage?

And that is not even the most amazing quote from the speech. So I invite you Lockeans to read her address and pick out your favorite parts. There are many to go around. Many as in so many it may make your head hurt. Have at it.

Just don't steal my favorite lines from the poem at the end: "tiptoe past the dogs of the apocalypse that are sleeping / in the shade of your future." Apparently I need another year of Duke edumacation to be able to appreciate that.

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Big Labor looks to Washington

Posted by George Leef at 09:29 AM

Today's Wall Street Journal features this excellent editorial on a hideous piece of legislation currently in Congress, a bill that would mandate public sector collective bargaining across the nation. This would be a gigantic wet kiss for Big Labor.

It would also be flagrantly unconstitutional. Congress has no authority to dictate employment conditions for state and local workers. (In fact, it doesn't really have authority to dictate it in the private sector, but thanks to some abominable Supreme Court decisions long ago that annihilated the Constitution's intended restraints on federal power, it has been exercising such power since the New Deal.) Also, the Constitution counts for very little in Washington.

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Obama is against those special interests!

Posted by George Leef at 09:07 AM

Except for those that support him, of course. Case in point -- the Teamsters Union. Read Robert Bluey's article on the song and dance they're doing together.

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Drought to blame, not growth

Posted by Joseph Coletti at 08:50 AM

David Bracken at the N&O writes:

Those who think growth was the culprit in the Triangle's recent water shortages may be disappointed when Dale Crisp, Raleigh public utilities director, addresses a gathering of regional water managers Tuesday.
"My main focus is going to say that the drought's what caused the water supply shortage, not growth, as many people suspected," Crisp said.

That's the good news. The bad news is that there are no plans to make pricing more responsive, so expect future droughts to bring about the same response from city council - water restrictions and calls for conservation followed by higher rates when conservation works "too well."

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David Mamet's political conversion

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 06:59 AM

From the latest TIME:

Another change in Mamet is that he believes the liberal tenets he grew up with are mistaken. He detests George W. Bush and the Iraq war — in jujitsu terms, Mamet thinks the U.S. was suckered into expending its energy and exposing weaknesses — but he's newly sold on libertarian economics. "I had a revelation during the midterm elections," he says. "I was making my TV show, The Unit, early in the morning. And I thought, I don't know what these people's politics are, but we're all dedicated to this idea of working together. That's all a traditional conservative view of economics is. That the free market will always accomplish socially and economically what government cannot. Two people left to their own devices will get along — because they have to."

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Today's Carolina Journal Online features

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 06:54 AM

The first Carolina Journal Online exclusive of the week previews this year's legislative session, which starts Tuesday.

John Hood's Daily Journal pokes holes in the story that this year's presidential race has sparked an unprecedented surge in voters.

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