It Takes a B.A. to Find a Job as a File Clerk

Anybody who wonders where the next financial crisis is coming from need look no further: $100,000 of student loan debt with a salary of $37,000 per year is a recipe for absolute economic catastrophe.

Student loan debt is effectively eternal - you must pay it off or die trying, as you can't even bankrupt out of it. It literally follows you until you die, and your Social Security or other pensions. Any asset is open season for student loan debt. Any wages or income (even lottery winnings) can (and will) be garnished to satisfy the debt. Requiring future janitors and mail clerks to incur such debt just to enter the labor force is economic suicide. These folks will never clear the debt - never. And the government (read "taxpayers") will be left holding the bag.

How did this happen? The Federal government guarantees student loans - when a borrower defaults the government makes the bank or other lending institution whole. There's absolutely no risk for a bank to write a Federally guaranteed student loan. The government then tries to collect - but from what? There's an old adage about blood and turnips that's more than applicable here. Congress can ignore reality as much as it wants by "getting tough on deadbeats", but that's not going to change the fact that the deadbeats are broke, and couldn't pay if they wanted to. The banks and universities have effectively swindled both borrower and government here - they've raided the Treasury and saddled students with what effectively amounts to debt slavery. Even those lucky students who do get good enough jobs to eventually pay off their debt are snookered: why do you think the rate of inflation in education has been so extraordinary? Easy money supplied by the banks and guaranteed by the Feds has removed anything resembling a market in higher education.

Eventually the chickens will come home to roost - exactly what form this will take is hard to say. But I've got to wonder if the Federal government considers itself as "too big to fail", and if so, exactly who it expects to bail it's sorry ass out?

The college degree is becoming the new high school diploma: the new minimum requirement, albeit an expensive one, for getting even the lowest-level job.

(link) [New York Times]

22:33 /Politics | 1 comment | permanent link

Ind. bill would make undercover video at farms illegal

Not sure how to feel about this one. One the one hand, I certainly would be upset if I caught somebody prowling around my pastures with a video camera. But I'd be upset because they were prowling around my pastures, not because they had a video camera - and there are trespassing laws that cover that.

Despite the wording and legalese covering this, I think the main intent of this legislation is clear - to prevent people from documenting animal abuse. And that's a pretty ignoble intent, if you ask me.

I've let lots of customers take pictures (and video) of our critters - and they've never posted one to YouTube showing anyone kicking a chicken or stomping a sheep. You know why? 'Cause we don't kick chickens or stomp sheep! What a concept!

I'd like to suggest to Rose Acre Farms that if they wish to stop PR nightmares from showing up on the Net, the best place to do that is in their barns, by dealing swiftly and severely with any animal abuse they uncover. Otherwise it seems to me that their support for this bill backs up the case being made by the surreptitious videos. In any case, it's for consumers to decide, not the legislature.

A measure that would make it illegal to make undercover videos of a farm or business passed an Indiana Senate committee Tuesday.

(link) [USA Today]

22:27 /Agriculture | 3 comments | permanent link

Monsanto's Supreme Court Seed Fight

A vital case - it will be very interesting to try and puzzle out from the oral arguments why the court agreed to hear this, seeing as how both appellate courts had strongly upheld the original judgment. I can only hope that some semblance of reason prevails, and Monsanto is sent packing. If not, virtually any seed purchased or raised from any source could be subject to patent liability. It would, more or less, turn the same patent trolls that have been such a plague on the software industry loose in the garden - and if you think natural pests can destroy crops and wreck havoc wait til you see what unnatural ones (as in lawyers) can do...

On Tuesday morning, the justices will hear oral argument in a fascinating case that would very much have interested Guthrie were he alive today. The case is styled Bowman v. Monsanto and, technically, it's a conflict over seed-planning and federal patent law. It's a story about technology and innovation and investment, about legal standards and appellate precedent and statutory intent, about the nature of nature and how the law ought to answer the basic question of who owns the rights to the seeds of planted seeds.

(link) [The Atlantic]

Update:It don't look good.

22:11 /Agriculture | 0 comments | permanent link

The Pirate Bay: We will sue copycat site for copyright infringement
irony meter

A Finnish anti-piracy group has copied—down to the CSS file—the design and layout of The Pirate Bay’s classic pirate ship-themed design. In a statement to TorrentFreak, The Pirate Bay was nonplussed. “We are outraged by this behavior,” an anonymous Pirate Bay spokesman told TorrentFreak. “People must understand what is right and wrong. Stealing material like this on the Internet is a threat to economies worldwide. We feel that we must make a statement and therefore we will sue them for copyright infringement.”

(link) [Ars Technica]

22:46 /Copywrongs | 0 comments | permanent link

Florida couple addicted to coffee enemas

Good to the last drop?

Mike and Trina confess to spending as many as five hours a day with their buckets of fresh-brewed joe. They each down an average of 100 enemas a month. Says Trina, ‘It gives me a sense of euphoria.’

(link) [NY Daily News]

23:09 /Humor | 0 comments | permanent link

Powerful Images From a 'Primitive' Age

Incredible - art is indeed life, and has been since before the dawn of history itself.

As far back as 40,000 years ago there were people who, despite their grueling existence, were able to rise above the daily struggle for survival to carve, sculpt and paint.

(link) [Wall Street Journal]

20:22 /Home | 0 comments | permanent link

That Sunk Cost Feeling

Wise words for many situations...

The Jets have stumbled into a classic economic dilemma, known as the sunk-cost effect. In a purely rational world, Sanchez’s guaranteed salary would be irrelevant to the decision of whether or not to start him (since the Jets have to pay it either way). But in the real world sunk costs are hard to ignore.

(link) [The New Yorker]

13:53 /Home | 0 comments | permanent link

10 things I hate about Git

I don't git it, either...

Git is the source code version control system that is rapidly becoming the standard for open source projects. It has a powerful distributed model which allows advanced users to do tricky things with branches, and rewriting history. What a pity that it’s so hard to learn, has such an unpleasant command line interface, and treats its users with such utter contempt.

(link) [Steve Bennett]

10:38 /Technology | 0 comments | permanent link

Has the Great Library of Timbuktu Been Lost?

This isn't the first time Islamists have been involved in destruction on a historical scale - nor will it likely be the last. The inheritors of Theophilus live on ...

As the desert inches south into the city of Timbuktu, the sand settles on your skin and the air feels heavy in your lungs. When I travelled there nine years ago, the mythical city, home to the shrines of three hundred and thirty-three Sufi saints, left a bleak impression, tempered only by the selected wonders under glass at the Ahmed Baba Centre, an edifice which, until last Friday, housed between sixty and a hundred thousand manuscripts dating back as far as the thirteenth century. Other smaller libraries and private collections held many more. Until last week, the total number of historic manuscripts in Timbuktu and its surrounding region was estimated at about two hundred thousand.

(link) [The New Yorker]

08:23 /Politics | 0 comments | permanent link

I Think I Spoke Too Soon

about having Internet access restored... but it's up this morning pretty solid, so I'd better strike while the iron is hot!

08:15 /Home | 0 comments | permanent link

New Victims In The War On Painkillers

Depressing news from the War on Some Drugs...

Regrettable. I guess that's one way to describe what happened to Jamie Russell. Another might be collateral damage.

(link) [The Agitator]

via Overlawyered

08:34 /Politics | 0 comments | permanent link

Back Online

Well, internet access seems to be more or less stable now. It still fades every once in a while, but hasn't been down for more than an hour in over a week. So assuming I can find the time (and have something to say) posting will resume. Happy New Year!

19:39 /Home | 0 comments | permanent link

Spotty Access

I feel I should apologize for my recent lack of posting. However, unlike previous instances of blog silence on MacRaven, this time I must disclaim responsibility. My access to the network has been spotty, and that's being kind. Yes, we have broadband, so called, out here. Sometimes. When it can manage to wirelessly connect. Which has not been a frequent occurrence of late. They'd scheduled a repair call several times now, always ducking out because of bad weather. I seriously wonder if the problem is really hardware ... I suppose we'll find out. If they ever manage to make it out when it's clear.

If I lived across the street (literally), I'd have had wired DSL for ten years. But AT&T, my monopoly wired telephony provider, can't seem to find it in their budget to put in the required equipment. So I'm stuck with wireless - expensive, complex and, well, spotty. Hopefully this situation can be resolved in a week or so. If not, I may have to investigate satellite providers, none of whom comes with a good rap.

Happy New Year.

13:20 /Home | 0 comments | permanent link

A Week of Dealing with Gnu Autotools

Angry Panda

can rapidly turn you into a raging panda, especially when trying to build cross compiling libraries...

15:17 /Humor | 0 comments | permanent link

Not An Ancestor

Not an ancestor - Spikehorn Meyers

This has really been in my 'to be posted' pile for a while: last year over the holidays a nephew brought up this picture, saying (with a large grin) that he was sure he'd found one of my long lost ancestors feeding the bears! In truth, the character does bear a striking resemblance to your humble blogger, but alas! he was no ancestor.

A bit of Googling discovered that he was, in fact, John "Spikehorn" Meyers, formerly of the Spikehorn Camp, a roadside tourist trap in Harrison, Michigan. But the postcard has brought large smiles several times while laying about awaiting the scanner, so I figured I'd finally get it up here.

15:15 /Humor | 0 comments | permanent link