Catastrophic catastrophic flood insurance

I’ve often written about situations where free markets don’t work. This time, for a change, I’m writing about a situation where government caused disasters by interfering with a free market. In 1965, Hurricane Betsy struck the Gulf Coast, causing massive damage. At the time, no companies offered flood insurance. So in 1968, Congress created the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), which is managed by FEMA. Although flood data allowed some commercial insurers to start offering flood insurance over the following decades, there was a problem: NFIP insurance was really affordable.

A lie repeated often enough becomes the truth

The Wall Street Journal offers an opinion piece from Michael Stokes Paulsen stating that the Minnesota election of Al Franken is unconstitutional, based on Bush vs Gore (2000). I don’t have any strong opinion on whether Franken or Coleman should be declared winner, not having followed all of the shenanigans. However, there are two things that spring out from the article. The first is that Paulsen ignores the fact that the Supreme Court said that “Our consideration is limited to the present circumstances…”, and was not to be used as prededent.

Nice “work” if you can get it

Total current budget for Maine nuclear inspectorate: $276,000/year. Number of employees: 2. Salaries: $71,000/year for nuclear safety inspector, $76,000/year for his advisor. Year when safety inspector job was supposedly eliminated: 2005. Total nuclear facilities in Maine: 0. [source ] Salary of Clerk of Court in Pasco, Florida: $136,576. Number of days you have to fail to bother to turn up in order to be sackable: 44. Resulting number of days of work required per annum: 8.

State department pwned, thanks to Microsoft

From AP via Slashdot and Yahoo: A break-in targeting State Department computers worldwide last summer occurred after a department employee in Asia opened a mysterious e-mail that quietly allowed hackers inside the U.S. government’s network. In the first public account revealing details about the intrusion and the government’s hurried behind-the-scenes response, a senior State Department official described an elaborate ploy by sophisticated international hackers. They used a secret break-in technique that exploited a design flaw in Microsoft software.

Not exactly rocket science

“CAPCOM to Nowak, prepare to begin pre-launch procedures.” “Copied loud and clear, Houston.” “Astronaut to confirm all required equipment and supplies have been loaded and stowed.” “Trenchcoat—check… Wig—check… $600 in cash—check… Adult diapers—check… Rubber tubing—check… BB gun—check… Pepper spray—check… Steel mallet—check… 4″ knife—check… Latex gloves—check… Large garbage bags for disposing of body parts—check.” “Checklist confirmed, you are cleared for 900 mile drive to Florida.”

Raise the double standard

The John McCain Suspension of Habeas Corpus / Ignore the Geneva Conventions Bill was getting me down this morning, but suddenly things have turned around. From AP news: In a scandal guaranteed to anger parents, a prominent House Republican has resigned after the revelation that he exchanged raunchy electronic messages with a teenage boy, a former congressional page. Rep. Mark Foley, R-Florida, who is single, apologized Friday for letting down his family and constituents.


Which contains more bacteria: the ice in your soda at a fast food restaurant, or the water in the toilet at the same restaurant? A schoolgirl in Florida decided to investigate. You can probably guess the outcome: on average, you’d be safer to drink from the toilet.


I just got a phone call from someone claiming we had won some sort of prize. Specifically, one of the following: A Ford Explorer. $2,500 cash. A 7 night cruise in Florida and the Bahamas. A 27″ Panasonic TV. Obviously right away I was suspicious. Decades of experience have taught me that mathew winning valuable prizes is not the way the universe works. As a young child I had a bunch of Premium Bonds; ERNIE never picked me, but my cousin won something several times.

Skunk show in Orlando

The 17th National Skunk Show is in Orlando, Florida this weekend. I’ve been checking the web for last minute travel bargains, but I can’t find any. And now matter how cute and fluffy they may be, and no matter how much I might want to go see skunks on show, I can’t justify spending $800 on it right now. Gotta go to Austin next month.

Las Vegas

eBU is in Las Vegas for the first time. Previous years it has been held in Orlando, Florida, in Disney World; and also in a European city, Berlin one year and Barcelona the next. The move to Vegas has allowed IBM to consolidate and have everyone from around the world attend one huge show. To be specific, there are 17,000 IBM people in Las Vegas at the moment. That’s enough to fill the conference facilities of the MGM, Mirage and Venetian, with a few hundred excess people at the Paris and a couple of other hotels.