Wednesday, September 30, 2009

It's Too Cold For Global Warming

The early fall warmth has fled New England for the time being, with chilly day time temps in the 40's being the rule in the northern half over the next few days. There's even the possibility of sleet or snow in the forecast for northern and central portions of Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont some time in the next few days.

For the first time since last April we started a fire in the woodstove. We've never had to use the woodstove this early. Usually it isn't until late October/early November that we start using it to heat The Manse. Yet here it is, the last day of September, and it's already being used.

The Farmer's Almanac has predicted a colder than normal winter in the Northeast, as well as most of the rest of the country.

The sun is experiencing an extended solar minimum (meaning minimal or no sunspot activity) and decreased luminosity. The start of next sunspot cycle is over two years overdue and solar astronomers expect this extended minimum to last for at least the next 30 years. The last time that happened we experienced a Little Ice Age.

Does anyone want to tell me about global warming again?

Monday, September 28, 2009

FairPoint On The Brink

For those contemplating the effects of the sale of some of Verizon's rural landline assets to Frontier Communications, one needs only look at what's happening with FairPoint Communications in northern New England to see it might be biting off more than it can chew.

As the October deadline gets closer for FairPoint Communications to make an interest payment on the $1.92 billion it borrowed to buy Verizon's landline assets in northern New England, FairPoint's CEO seems to be taking his company's perilous situation lightly, acting as if there will be no problem even if it ends up in bankruptcy. I doubt FairPoint needs that kind of laissez faire attitude in its chief executive.

For a man whose company may be heading into bankruptcy court any time now, FairPoint Communications CEO David Hauser exudes a surprising amount of confidence in his company and its prospects.

"I think the debt comes to a head one way or another in the next couple of months," Hauser said.

For a company that's seen its stock price plummet from $9.02 on the day of the acquisition to $0.46 per share (today's closing price) and is in danger of being de-listed from the New York Stock Exchange, the attitude is puzzling. But the state regulators of at least one of the three northern New England states has been taking it far more seriously.

The company's financial health was always a concern, New Hampshire regulators said.

"We thought that FairPoint would be overleveraged, that they would have too much debt and that they were being overly optimistic," said Meredith Hatfield of the Office of the Consumer Advocate.

FairPoint paid far too much for a business that's been on a slow decline for years as competition increased and wasn't worth what they paid for it. It's one of the quickest ways to go broke.

FairPoint has also been behind schedule for bringing broadband to underserved and unserved areas in the three states, which means it will start accruing penalties for failing to meet its targets for deployment. What's worse is the broadband technology it is deploying (DSL) can barely be considered broadband as the maximum data rates are far lower than that available through cable and Fiber To The Home. DSL is also distance limited, meaning maximum data rates are available only if the customer is close to the central office or local concentrator. The farther away, the lower the maximum data rate available. With some of the newer services available on the Internet, like streaming video and online gaming, FairPoint's DSL-based broadband won't be adequate to meet the bandwidth requirements for those services.

In short, FairPoint hasn't lived up to its promises, hasn't provided the services expected by its customers, hasn't been able to respond in a timely manner to its customers' needs and requests, and has managed to lose about 10% of its customers since it took over operations from Verizon back in February. On top of that they are on the edge of defaulting, and if reorganization fails and debt payments cannot be rescheduled, they will be forced into bankruptcy.

This is not what the consumers in Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont signed on to when Verizon sold its landlines to FairPoint.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Carol Shea-Porter Can't Be Bothered With The Facts

It appears Representative Carol Shea-Porter (D-NH-1) has no problem with stating an outright lie as truth if the lie serves the purposes of her masters (Pelosi and Obama).

During both of her town hall meetings to 'debate' health care reform, she stated that tort reform wouldn't help health care costs and tried to use the 'failure' of tort reform in Texas as an example.

There's only one problem with her claim: it's a complete and utter falsehood.

On NHPR, she said of the Texas reform, "It didn't drive down costs." In Manchester on Saturday, she said it accomplished "nothing."

That would be news to Texans. The Dallas Morning News reported in 2007 that because of tort reform, "(t)he number of doctors applying to practice in Texas every year has increased more than 50 percent, relieving desperate shortages in some rural areas."

The cost of malpractice insurance dropped an average of 27 percent, according to the Texas governor's office. Shea-Porter pretends that didn't help patients because health care providers did not immediately lower their prices. It's true, they didn't.

"Instead, they're reinvesting the savings in more and better health care," the Dallas Morning News reported.

When confronted by a woman at the town hall meeting in Manchester about the inaccuracy of her claim, she told the woman to sit down and be quiet.

So much for polite discourse or reasoned debate.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Carol Shea-Porter Versus Frank Guinta - A Study In Contrasts

Carol-Shea Porter may have met her match, at least when it comes to town hall meetings and debate about health care reform. As we posted yesterday, Shea-Porter has proven she can dish it out but can't take it. On more than one occasion she has shown her contempt for her constituents.

The comes along her presumed Republican challenger for her seat in the 2010 elections, Manchester mayor Frank Guinta, holding his own town hall meeting. The dichotomy between the two sets of town meetings couldn't be any broader.

Some observations by someone attending both meetings:

First let me start by saying, I don't believe for a minute, CSP would have scheduled a town hall meeting if Mayor Guinta hadn't scheduled one first.

With only an HOUR to ask questions of the Holy one, oops, I mean Congresswoman CSP, and with CSP taking up 20 minutes of that hour to sell us on how awful the insurance companies are, a rare few individuals were able to ask a question. We were limited to 2 minutes and people like me were denied the opportunity to follow up our original question with facts that contradicted her answer.

After CSP mislead everyone at the meeting on tort reform in Texas, he knew I had information that contradicted what she had just said to a woman who questioned her on cutting healthcare costs. His ticket was pulled and he let me go up and confront her on her misleading information.

In stark contrast, Mayor Guinta's town hall meeting was open to as many people who showed up.We were "allowed" to ask our questions without any time constraints and we didn't have to HIT the LOTTERY in order to ask a question.

Mayor Guinta took questions for the first hour then decided to extend his meeting another hour to accommodate the others who still wanted to raise concerns or ask a question.

At the end of the second hour, it was time to end the meeting, however he again graciously told the crowd he would remain in the hall and those who still wanted to talk to him, could do so.

Shea-Porter couldn't be bothered to answer questions that disagreed with her 'vision' on this matter, but her challenger took on all questions and stayed until everyone had a chance to talk with him.

Of the two approaches, I prefer latter, not the former. It's too bad Carol Shea-Porter prefers the former.

Do you think she'll get the message after she's voted out of office.