Sunday, July 23, 2017

On The Lighter Side at Indianapolis

A lighter moment in the Xfinity race at Indianapolis as William Byron went three wide into turn one. The announcers were freaking out, probably already trying to decide how to describe the terrible wreck which was about to happen, because even two wide into the turns at Indianapolis is less than a wonderful idea.

One of the announcers then says, “Okay, we’ll have to give him that one. He’s never raced here before so he didn’t know that you cannot do that, and that’s why he was able to pull that off.”

I enjoyed the hell out of that. You can do that only if you don’t know you can’t do it. I don’t actually think it was as stupid as it sounds, he was just so flustered he got his tongue all twisted up. I’m still chuckling about it the next day.

The driver, a rookie, went on to win the race; not only the first time he’s raced at Indianapolis, the first time he has ever seen the speedway in person. Not the first time he’s won an Xfinity race, though; at age nineteen, this was his 3rd win.

No, he did not repeat the three wide into the turn thing.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Not a Rising Tide

I do not object to raising the minimum wage. It benefits those who work for minimum wage, and for a liberal that should be a sufficient reason. Liberals, however, can never be satisfied with doing good for its own sake, because the modern convention is that voters should vote only in their own self interest.

(I actually reject the concept of voting only in one’s own self interest, but that’s a different subject for a different time.)

The only voters whose own self interest supports raising the minimum wage, however, are those working for minimum wage, and they don’t make campaign contributions. Nor are there enough of them to assure the reelection of liberal politicians, so the assistance of economists is secured to tell us that raising the minimum wage “injects money into the economy,” thereby increasing consumer spending and raising the GDP, which is in everybody’s self interest.

Sort of “the rising tide that raises all boats,” but does it actually work? Lets look at Dean Baker’s example of the roofer in Nebraska, who he suggests should raise her workers’ wage from $17/hr to $20/hr and thereby gain more business and enrich the economy by increasing the GDP because the workers will have more money to spend.

The average roofing job takes about 150 man-hours, so each for job the higher wage will enrich the workers by about $450, typically about $90 per worker. This is where the difference between economics and business enters the picture, because Dean Baker thinks that the discussion ends here, with telling us that the economy has been enriched by $450 per roofing job, the additional amount that the workers have been paid.

There is, however, the issue of payroll deductions which usually run about one third of gross pay, so the economy is actually enriched by about $300 per roofing job, which is the increased spending power that is realized by the workers due to the increase in wages. That’s a good thing, of course, but it’s still not the end of the discussion.

The roofer’s cost to do the job has increased by $450, and Dean Baker will tell us that the roofing company can just absorb that additional cost and move on. Any business that allows its cost to increase without a consequent increase in selling price, however, is all be certain to be going out of business in very short order. That’s not economics, so Dean Baker would not know anything about that. It’s basic business management, which a kid selling lemonade on the street corner figures out pretty quickly.

And the direct wage increase of $450 is not the whole story either. There are costs related to wages, such as workers’ compensation insurance, unemployment insurance tax and payroll tax. There are others, such as sick pay, vacation pay and, increasingly, mandated maternity pay, and they all usually add up to about 30% of direct wages. I suspect that the rate for a high risk business such as roofing is a little higher than that, but we’ll stay with the average and say that this factor bumps the average cost increase to about $585 per roofing job.

And that’s without the roofer adding anything for profit on that increased cost, which is actually a must if she wants to stay in business, not to mention applying a factor called “burden” onto the additional cost. The latter is a factor to cover the fixed overhead of the business, and companies who do not apply it regularly on job costing fail every time. I have seen it more than once. Profit and burden add another 20% at the very least; it is usually a percentage significantly much larger than that.

So the increased sale price of the roofing job is some $700 due to the $3/hr wage increase that Dean Baker urged the roofer to award her employees. That means that five employees have a total of $300 more spending money from this roofing job as a result of the wage increase, while the homeowner has $700 less spending money. The economy, then, had a net loss of $400 in consumer spending power.

I suspect that somebody is going to say that the homeowner is so wealthy that the cost of the roofing job does not affect his spending habits. I will prevent that person from looking foolish by reminding him of the “American dream” of every person a homeowner, and that over 50% of the population has already realized that dream. I would not for a moment suggest that 50% of the population is indifferent to spending resources.

That argument is beside the point anyway, because the “injection of money into the economy” is not about how much will actually be spent, but is about how much will be made available for spending, and we have shown that the economy did not realize any net benefit from the Nebraska roofer raising her workers’ wages.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Economics Is Idiocy

Dean Baker explains why we stupid people do not understand “how the labor market works” to the owner of a roofing contractor in an extraordinarily thick headed manner last week. This is an example of why I seldom read Dean Baker’s column any more. (I quit reading Paul Krugman more than a year ago.)

The roofer is paying a starting wage of $17/hr, well over the state’s minimum wage of $9/hr, and not getting enough new hires. She explains that she would cheerfully pay $35/hr but is constrained by competition and, even more so, by what insurance companies dictate for roof repairs.

Baker’s response is that, if she cannot pay $35/hr, she can still pay $20/hr and thus hire new workers away from her competition, thereby solving her worker shortage. His column continues, offering erudite comments about “textbook economics,” which is a lot less enlightening than he thinks it is, because the roofing company owner is not dealing in Dean Baker’s “economic world” but rather in a business world.

He suggests that, “Maybe the government should provide employers with an incentive for learning basic labor economics,” but I’m thinking that maybe the course should be for economists. Raising wages to hire workers away from competing companies in the same industry is a refrain continuously sung by Dean Baker, and it is utter drivel. Moving a worker shortage from one employer to another does not eliminate the shortage.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

"Primary Cause"

To set the scene, a semi-truck is parked at the curb on a boulevard, one with multiple lanes in both directions. It is there illegally, blocking a bicycle lane, while the driver goes into a fast food place for breakfast. Along comes a person driving a car and slams into the rear of the truck. His car goes under the trailer of the semi, shearing off the top of the car and killing the driver. There is no evidence that the driver of the car ever touched his brakes before he was killed.

The police are citing the truck as "the primary cause of the accident."

That makes no sense to me. It was a clear day, on a straight stretch of road, with no hills. How did the driver not see a semi-truck? How does a parked, unoccupied semi-truck in plain view of oncoming traffic cause an accident? Police do not whether or not a cell phone was found in the car, by the way.

Certainly the truck driver was wrong, and certainly in parking where he did he created a hazard. I would not argue if the police cited his truck as a contributor to the accident. But the truck, an inanimate, stationary object, as the primary cause of the accident? If the driver of the car, who pretty obviously never saw the truck, had hit a tree, would the tree have been the "primary cause of the accident?"

If the other party does something illegal, that does not relieve me of responsibility for my own safety. If a car runs a red light, it is not okay for me to use that as license to run into him and blame him for the carnage; I still have the responsibility, morally and under the law, to avoid hitting him if possible. What are the police thinking here, claiming that a stationary truck is the "the primary cause of the accident?"

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Crazy, Stupid, or... ?

I sometimes get the feeling that Trump is doing to the establishment what Osama bin Laden did to the United States. We drove him out of Afghanistan in three months, and sixteen years later we are still fighting, dying and bankrupting ourselves there; such a long time and with such futility that we no longer even know why the fuck we are there.

The establishment is descending to a similar level of insanity in their war against Trump; using the same lack of sanity and the same desperate dishonesty in their frantic thrashing around, and steadily destroying what little ability they ever had to govern.

Not that I'm into carrying any water for Donald Trump, I despise the man, but the establishment has abandoned any pretense that we have a constitutional government.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Men Are The Weaker Sex

In the last general election California voters had a choice between two female Democrats to replace a retiring female Democrat in the US Senate. The winner has joined the female Democrat who is presently in the process of dying in office.

Ardent Democrats are now urging this new female Democrat to run for POTUS in 2020, since the last female Democratic champion botched the task (and is blaming it on "angry white men") and the Ardent Democrats have become jaded with the current female Democratic champion now that she has three full years of federal experience and her snarky rhetoric is starting to become a bit stale.

It is worth noting that men wear pink in their football games in behalf of women's causes, while women wear... Um, pink in behalf of women's causes. I know, payback time, but payback is not justice.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Racing This Weekend

The Americans seem to have improved their boat speed, enough to win one race on Saturday, but they still have the same idiot at the helm. I have not seen so much just plain bad sailing since I watched a bunch of Cub Scouts. Oracle jumped the start on one race and blamed his "software." I was watching on television, for God's sake, and three boat lengths before he got to the line said "Shit!" loud enough to startle Molly, who was not even on my lap. If I didn't need any stinking computer software to know that he was early to the line, why did he?

In the same race he drew a boundary penalty and committed a crossing foul, and twice he tacked so badly that he dumped both hulls in the water and dropped his speed to under five knots. He did the same thing once during a prestart. During prestart! He crossed the start line twenty seconds behind the Kiwis after that little debacle.

Danica Patrick started 6th and finished 17th. Her teammates finished 1st and 2nd. I don't think we need to say much more about that.

Well, we might add that she wrecked her boyfriend on lap 30. Tore his car all to pieces and put him out of the race. I'll bet that will be a quiet house tonight.

In Indycar the announcing crew kept telling us about the complete dominance of the Penske team. Scott Dixon sort of spoiled their party by winning, because he drives for Chip Ganassi.

Corruption Is Now Normal

One of the problems with these so-called “citizens initiatives” that are placed on our ballots is the extreme level of dishonesty with which they are promoted. In all fairness, the honesty of opponents is no better, but while the process is designed to allow citizens a voice in the process of governance, all too often these ballot measures are blatantly dishonest schemes to enrich the major financial players who sponsor them.

Such turns out to be the case with the San Diego “Soccer City” initiative, which we were told by FS Investors must be placed into a special election in 2017 in order to avoid losing an opportunity for an expansion team being created by Major League Soccer in 2018. If we waited for a 2018 regular election, we were told by the investment group wanting to “develop a fantastic plan for Mission Valley,” we would probably lose a chance at obtaining one of the planned MLS expansion teams.

It turns out that even as they were saying all of this, San Diego had already obtained an MLS expansion team. The investors who obtained the franchise early last month “purposely delayed the announcement so it wouldn’t conflict with the public debate over the Soccer City proposal.” The stadium will be built, we are told now, somewhere in North County.

The corruption boggles the mind. FS Investors knew that the expansion team deal was already locked up, and so did the group who had already secured the expansion team, and both groups kept silent about it in order to coerce voters into approving a $5 billion commercial development by FS Investors, three million sqft of commercial space and 4500 condominiums, which happened to have a soccer stadium and river park as window dressing.

Named "Soccer City" for the stadium which was ~5% of the investment.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Intelligent (?) Reporting

There is a stock car race tomorrow... Well, to digress a bit, what will be on the track certainly are not stock cars and it being an actual race is more than a bit questionable, but it is being promoted as a stock car race and is hosted by the National Association for Stock Automobile Racing.

Anyway, of course various media pundits have to write about it but, since all of the vehicles are so exactly the same that the sanctioning body measures them with lasers, and the drivers are pretty much likewise although the sanctioning body doesn't measure them with anything, it's a little hard for said pundits to come up with anything meaningful to write about.

So the pundits do what they always do in those circumstances; they write things that aren't meaningful. They write gibberish. They write things like, "Kyle Larson hoping to win Sunday." Would Kyle Larson even be getting in the fucking race car if he wasn't hoping to win?

Friday, June 23, 2017

Party of Incoherence

The first step in winning the next election is recognizing how and why you lost the current election. In the case of the Democratic Party, the first step is even accepting the basic fact that you did lose the current election, something that they have not yet done.

After the debacle that was the 2016 presidential election many party loyalists are hung up on the claim that they did not actually lose the election, regardless of who is actually occupying the White House, because of some fantasy about the popular vote.

Aside from that issue and faced with the inescapable fact that their candidate is not presently living in the White House, the Democratic Party elected the same leadership, who then proclaimed that the party did not need to do anything different in order to win the next election. Their reasoning was a bit hard to follow, but seemed to be something to the effect that the voters had been wrong and would come to their senses over the next four years.

They did not say what they were going to do to bring those voters to their senses, and apparently it has not yet happened because in four special elections this month, four Republicans will be going to Washington as members of the House of Representatives.

Democrats are divided between those patting themselves on the back for having achieved a “moral victory” in those four elections and those castigating Democratic voters for not voting in sufficient numbers. No one is asking why those Democratic voters did not come out and vote, other than Rachel Maddow, who opined that Democrats don’t come out in rainy weather while apparently Republicans do.

In one election the Democratic Party ran a candidate who did not even live in the district, and in discussion after discussion I cannot find one party loyalist who admits that might have been a mistake; that next time maybe the candidates should be locals. That election was in Georgia where, I believe, the term “carpetbagger” originated.

In one particularly fascinating exchange, a “conversationalist” excoriated Republicans because they blindly vote for anyone who is a Republican, not questioning anything about the candidate’s policies other than his party affiliation. I thought I recognized the handle and went back to last year and found a post in which he said that he was unhappy with Clinton but would “hold his nose and vote for her” because she was the Democratic nominee. I decided not to pursue that, but it might have been fun.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Cherche le Chat

My computer mouse is acting quirky, jumping all over the screen and annoying me, and I'm beginning to think I've contracted some sort of malware. Russian, maybe? Probably not. Then I turn it over and check the little red light on the bottom. Ah, yes. Maybe if I clean all of the cat hair out of the light port... By golly that worked just fine.

Stoopid cat. The title, in case you don't know it, is French for "Blame the cat."

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Sucker City Not Dead

The “News Break” upon which I based yesterday’s post was unclear. It turns out that the City Council voted against a special election for an initiative to expand the convention center. The “Sucker City” proposal is still an open issue, which is why the investors are planning to address the council today.

The Council did not override Hizzonor’s veto, so next year's city budget still contains $5 million for a special election even though, at the moment, no special election is planned. The “Sucker City” investors hope to persuade the City Council to call a November special election for that proposal, after the Council rejected a special election for the convention center expansion, which seems like a bit of a long shot.

The alternative is to persuade the City Council to approve the “Sucker City” proposal outright, without a public vote, which would be entirely legal since no taxes are involved. There is very little chance of that happening, I suspect, since it would almost certainly result in a 0% reelection rate for the present Council members.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

San Diego Politics

There is a proposal before the citizens of San Diego to replace Qualcomm Stadium with, among other things, a 30,000 seat stadium for a major league professional soccer team. We do not, of course, have such a team, and have no actual promise of one, and the “other things” are far from trivial. But proponents of such initiatives do not want us to be bothered with such trivia.

For those who care, the “other things” consist of 3 million square feet of commercial office space and 4800 more condominiums in Mission Valley, making the soccer stadium something like 5% of the enterprise and casting doubt in some minds on the validity of calling the project “Soccer City.” Saner minds call it the “Mission Valley Congestion Project,” and some less polite people call it “Sucker City.”

That doesn’t keep FS Investors from pressing forward with it, wanting to have it placed into a special election this November, and reminding us that “it will not cost taxpayers a dime,” which ought to raise red flags everywhere. If it’s not costing us any money, why is it necessary for us to vote on it? Not to mention that the special election itself will cost us $5 million, which Hizzonor the mayor included in the upcoming city budget.

Proponents say that if we don’t have a special election this year we will “disenfranchise 110,000 voters” who signed the initiative in grocery store parking lots all across the city. They fail to point out that if we do put it on a special election we will “disenfranchise 305,638 voters” who voted for and passed Measure L last year, which specifies that all initiatives shall be placed on the ballot in regular elections, not in elections created especially for the purpose of the initiatives.

The idiocy sort of boggles the mind, but then the City Council broke out in an unusual moment of sanity and voted down the $5 million budget item for the special election. Hizzonor was undeterred and used his line item veto to put the $5 million and the special election back into the budget, and the City Council responded by voting not to have a special election.

They will vote later this week on overriding Hizzonor’s veto, but since they have already voted not to have a special election, the issue is moot.

FS Investors is asserting that it is not defeated, and plans to address the City Council about a special election on some other date. Apparently they took heart in noting that the City Council only voted not to have a special election in November, which does not rule out that they might agree to have a special election in Really?

San Diego is certainly in Southern California.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Fantasy Land

This nation has devolved into something out of a Lewis Carroll novel when it can come up with the likes of the drama surrounding the Comey “testimony” before Congress. I am certainly no fan of Donald Trump, despise the man actually, but I am a big fan of the due process of law; something that the media seems to regard as needed only when it suits their agenda.

The word “evidence” means “the available body of facts indicating whether a belief or proposition is true or valid,” but the last thing that the Senate committee wanted to hear was anything resembling any facts. When Comey reported what Trump said in a given conversation, the questioner blew that off in a heartbeat, asking, “What did you take that to mean?”

In any venue seeking truth, i.e. a courtroom, an attorney would be leaping to his feet screaming “Objection,” and the judge would sustain him before he could even finish saying that the question should not be allowed because it, “calls for conjecture” by the witness.

The media was undeterred by any of this and happily reported that Trump was guilty of “obstruction of justice” because Comey testified that Trump had “ordered Comey to shut down the investigation of the Russians,” notwithstanding that the conversation that Comey was discussing had not even been about the Russians, it had been about Michael Flynn, and Trump most certainly did not order any investigation to be shut down.

Only in the American media can a person be convicted for what someone thought he said even when he did not, in fact, say it.

Friday, June 09, 2017

Missing The Obvious

The America's Cup sailing has been, to say the least, interesting. It has only marginally been sailing, with boats going 42 knots in a 14 knot breeze, but that's a separate issue. To start with, Sir Ben Ainslie and the English boat, after winning the start in eight races and gaining leads of as much as 400 meters, only to lose seven of those races, are now dog meat and headed back to England. The English came to gun fight not even with a knife, but carrying some sort of stick.

The Swedes lost twice on Tuesday and were match point down to the Japanese boat, then won three out of three yesterday and put their opponent match point down. The announcers, who for the most part are awesome, failed to notice that the Swedes returned to classic sailboat match racing technique, covering their opponent, not letting Japan split the course, and beating Japan by actually outsailing them. Nice stuff.

Sweden vs. New Zealand may be interesting, but I expect we will once again see Oracle vs. New Zealand for the cup. I would not put much money against the Kiwis taking the damned thing back south of the equator. I think the Cup race is going to be awesome.

Sunday, June 04, 2017

Well Said

Richard Petty is turning eighty next month. Dover Speedway is so enthusiastic that they are celebrating his birthday today because there is a race there today and won't be one there next month. They are going all out, with a cake in the shape of his 1969 Ford Torino, and having him pace the field before the race in his Superbird. Wish I could be there.

As one guy put it, "It doesn't matter how man times I've seen the King, anytime Richard Petty walks by you can sense - that guy is a big deal."

Saturday, June 03, 2017

California Dreaming

California has already passed a minimum wage which is on its way to $15/hour. Whether that is fair, reasonable or good policy is something for another discussion. Since it is imposed equally on every business, its effect of creating or destroying jobs is arguable and can be deferred to another discussion. It cannot be denied, however, that it raises the cost of doing business in this state.

Now the state has completed the first stage of trying to pass universal health care which will be funded by a 15% payroll tax. It is not stated whether the burden of that tax will be borne by employers or workers, but let’s think about a 15% payroll tax in conjunction with the increase in the minimum wage.

If the tax is to be paid by employees Well, the state just partially reversed the increase in the minimum wage, driving it back down to $12.75. Granted, that will be offset to some degree for some employees who will no longer have to buy health insurance, but at the lower end it will be a big blow for those who are currently on Medicaid.

If it is to be paid by employers it will be partially offset, but only partially and only for some employers, by not having to purchase employee health insurance, but for many it is an added expense in its entirety. And that after having just absorbed an increase in payroll expense due to the increase in the minimum wage.

The fast food industry will be destroyed. Will anyone pay $12 for a fast food hamburger? Some would say that's no loss, but what happened to this being a country with free choice?

And California claims that it does not deserve its reputation as a state which is unfriendly to business.

Friday, June 02, 2017

Governments We Support

Dateline Afghanistan: The Taliban set off a huge bomb in downtown Kabul which killed three dozen Afghan people. The people are pissed off at their government for not protecting them, so they gather in protest. Government "security forces" then disperse them with machine guns, killing upwards of a hundred of them of them.

And this is the government that we are not only supporting, but are putting our armed forces in harms way to support. Our military men and women are dying to keep this government in place. On what planet is this sane?

Thursday, June 01, 2017

Only Hillary Clinton

There are few people, possibly only one, who would even say, "I take responsibility for every decision I made, but that’s not why I lost," and not be laughed out of the room. Instead of the hoots of derision her statement, made at the annual Code Conference in Ranchos Palos Verdes, CA, deserved she was rewarded with solemn nods of sympathetic understanding. Just for the record, she added four more reasons for her loss in the presidential election, one new reason being "the general expectation that I would win," bringing the total to eleven.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Hump Day

As in, "over the hump." My wife had the last of her chemo last week, and the effects are significantly lesser today than they were yesterday, so we are on the downhill side of this damned thing. Still have radiation to go, but the doctor promises that will be a walk in the park; very limited in scope and duration. Hopefully they got it all and we're done with it.

Low Inflation?

We are told that inflation is well below the 2% rate targeted by the Fed.

In the last five years the value of our house has gone from $420,000 to $720,000. What has increased its value? Not capital improvements; it has not had any, has not so much as been repainted. So, how does 2% inflation account for a 71% increase in the value of our house in just five years?

Just as a point of information, at the peak of the last housing bubble, just before it collapsed in 2008, this house was valued at $550,000. Despite being valued at some 30% higher now, we are told that this value is not artificial or part of a bubble for reasons that are too complex for uneducated slobs like me to understand. Right.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Let's See How This Works

I'm not holding my breath, since NASCAR's track record (pun intended) is considerably less than stellar the last few years.

Today's issue, which is at Charlotte, goes back a few weeks ago to Bristol. That has always been a one-groove track, with many fans complaining that cars could not pass and that no real racing, therefore, ever occurred. Other fans liked the "bump and run," in which the overtaking car would hit the car ahead, knock it physically up out of the "groove" in order to pass, and sometimes knock it into the wall in the process and wreck it completely. Fun and games.

Dale Earnhardt (senior) once said of Terry Labonte after such an event that, "I didn't mean to wreck him, I just meant to rattle his cage." He was, as he said it, grinning like a jackass eating thistles, so some people questioned the sincerity of his statement. Terry Labonte, usually among the most mild tempered of men, attempted to express his opinion with his fists, but was successfully restrained.

NASCAR, never willing to leave well enough alone, brought a grinder to the track and ground the concrete pavement to provide a graduated banking, steeper on the outside of the turns and less steep on the inside. The idea was to provide multiple racing grooves, which had worked well on several asphalt tracks. It didn't work for shit on a concrete track; all it did was move the single racing groove from the bottom of the track to the top. No more "bump and run," because now when you hit the car ahead of you he cannot just move up the track, he can't do anything but hit the wall because he's only about one foot away from it. The "run" part turned into running away from the really pissed off driver that you bumped.

Nobody could come up with a way to "ungrind" the concrete, sort of like trying to teach a chicken to "unlay an egg," so some genius came up with some sticky gunk to spray on the lower groove to provide better traction and allow cars to race down there. Results are, to say the least, mixed. Sometimes it works until the sun comes out, sometimes it quits working when the sun comes out, sometimes it works until the tires heat up, sometimes...

Fast forward to the "All Star Race" last weekend at Charlotte, which was one of the best soporifics on television in weeks. The screaming by the announcers kind of spoiled the sedative effect of the event, but the racing certainly did not. There was only one pass for the lead, and that was during a restart when one driver caught the rest of them snoozing because nobody seemed to think anybody was actually racing. Everybody drove in the same racing line which, as I recall, has always been the case at Charlotte.

Everyone acknowledges that the main problem is the aerodynamics of the cars, in which when a car is the clean air of having the lead it is enough faster that it cannot be caught, let alone passed. Everyone acknowledges that solving that problem means a redesign of the car and getting rid of the "splitter." (Never mind what that is. It's an aerodynamic part that totally divorces the machine from being a "stock car.")

Everyone further acknowledges that racing is further degraded by excessively hard tires required, or claimed to be required, by high downforce that makes the car easier to drive and impossible to actually race.

Well, everyone except NASCAR, who seems to have decided that something is wrong with the Charlotte track. They noticed that everyone was driving in the inside of the turns, which makes sense since it is the shortest way around the track and nobody is trying to pass anybody. NASCAR decided that if the drivers would choose to drive up next to the wall, taking the longer way around the track, then the racing would be more competitive.

So, they went down to Bristol and got a bunch of that gunk and sprayed it on the upper groove of the Charlotte track in the hopes that it would provide closer racing. There's a few imponderables in that thought:
  Charlotte is paved with asphalt, Bristol with concrete.
  At Bristol they are going 90mph in the turns, at Charlotte more than 180mph
  The tire compounds used at the two tracks are very different.

The lengths to which NASCAR will go to avoid solving the problems with their racing program boggle the mind. Indycar had similar problems, and they addressed the car design. That made a big difference and began to re-grow their fan base, and they are taking that experience and building on it with a new car next year. They listen to their fans and undo their errors. NASCAR just piles on more gimmicks, like playoffs, and stage racing, and spraying gunk on the track.

Friday, May 26, 2017

NASCAR Gets It Wrong, Again

The Coca Cola 600 is run on Memorial Day weekend, so NASCAR goes all out to "honor the troops" at the race. They make a big production out of having troops on the track prior to the race, troops in the stands, troops in the television broadcast... All of these troops are alive and speaking to us, so NASCAR, as they so often do, is honoring the wrong troops.

Further, in addition to appearing in public wearing fatigue uniforms, showing that they have little or no pride in their service and no self respect, not one of these "troops" tells the interviewer that they are getting it wrong, because this holiday is about honoring military service people who have lost their lives in service to their country.

We have Veterans Day to celebrate guys like me, people who have served in the past; none of whom would ever have appeared off base wearing anything but Class A dress uniform.

We have Armed Forces Day to honor those who are presently serving; despite of their own disrespect for their service by wearing fatigues off base.

This day was created specifically to honor those men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice for their nation; those who in placing themselves, "their precious lives, between their homes and the forces which would destroy them," lost their lives.

To those, the soldiers and sailors on eternal patrol, rest in peace.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Asking a Dumb Question

A blogger asks, "Why is the Left Losing in a Moment it was Made for?" Notwithstanding the rather odd capitalization, it's not a bad question on the face of it. His posit is that with "minuscule wage growth, near-record levels of household debt, and soaring corporate profits" the left should be winning elections by large margins, but is losing them on a dishearteningly regular basis.

But, why is "the left" a movement that is "made for" such miserable economic conditions? Okay, I'll chalk that off to a degree of illiteracy, because I don't think that he really understands what "made for" really means. Anyway, his explanation for liberalism's inability to win elections is an overwhelming tendency to "straddle between globalization and economic nationalism," whatever the fuck that means.

The real reason, of course, is the liberal adoption of "identity politics," meaning that they are so busy making sure that a tiny handful of the population is able to use the bathroom of their choice that they are doing nothing for 300 million working men and women who are the backbone of the electorate.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Racing Update

Watching qualifying at Indianapolis yesterday, where only one car is on the track at a time, was infinitely more exciting than watching the "All Star Race" that NASCAR put on Saturday night. The "stock car race" produced precisely three passes for the lead, all of them on restarts after a caution.

Fernando Alonzo, the Formula 1 driver who is running in an Indycar for the first time, qualified fifth. Not bad for a rookie.

Six of the top nine cars are powered by Honda. Chevrolet has been dominating on the road courses but are not doing well at all on ovals. Penske, in particular, is struggling to come up to speed with his Chevvys; only one car in the top nine, and his next best position is 18th. Might be an interesting race.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

This Is How Democracy Dies

The California Democratic Party elected its leader this week, and the representative of the portion which regards itself as “progressive” because they supported Bernie Sanders in the presidential race lost to the “establishment” candidate by a narrow margin. Needless to say, the losing faction cried foul, claimed that the election was rigged in some undefined manner, and is vowing to file a lawsuit to invalidate the election.

They are not, as far as I know, claiming that it was the Russians who interfered with the election, but

They seem not to realize that an election in which only one outcome is acceptable is the kind of election that is held in, say, Syria. They feel that democracy only works when they win. Six-year-olds feel the same way.

In a similar vein, I inadvertently watched a few minutes of Face The Nation this morning. Three CBS anchors were discussing James Comey and one of them stated that, while it, “might be okay to question a few of his actions, you just do not attack his character.” Continuously, and rigorously attacking the character of the President, however, is entirely fair game.

That same anchor went on to say that persons leaking contents of private meetings are, “trying to get out what they believe to be the truth.” Not what is the truth, you understand, but what they believe to be the truth.

Democracy simply has no chance in this nation.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

It Depends On Who You Are

Quote from the New York Times, just in case you thought the media was neutral in reporting the news.

"Democrats are struggling to challenge President Donald Trump, and with control over nothing in Washington, they're relying for now on the power of saying 'no.'" They go on in praise of Democrats, after eight years of severely castigating Republicans for taking precisely the same position vis-à-vis Obama.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Deer In The Headlights

Watching a clip from some "news" show; some talking head interviewing Dianne Feinstein. The clip provided me with no convincing evidence that she is still alive. Sort of like El Cid propped up on his horse.

Anyway, he asked her if there was any evidence that the Russians had interfered in the presidential election. There was a pause while the question filtered through whatever it is that she uses for a mind, and then there was a flicker of panic in her eyes, like a deer caught in the headlights of a car.

She knew that the next question, if she said yes, would be, "What is that evidence?" She opened her mouth; paused, choking on the answer that she did not want to utter. "No," she said; turned and left.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Trending "News"

There was a quote on “Madame Secretary” this past weekend that was unattributed but which I have heard before, regarding a reporter; “The stories that we least want to read are the stories that must be written.”

That was true when the media was populated by journalists. Today the news media is entertainment and even brags that, “We present the news that people want to watch.” And thus comes the term “clickbait” for news items that are trivial and matter to no one, but are of a degree of prurient interest that many will click on the link to read about them.

For instance the current rash of misbehavior by airlines. Have airlines suddenly hired a bunch of thugs and idiots for some unknown bizarre reason? Has passenger treatment been totally lovely until some contagious disease hit airline employees and caused a sudden outbreak of bad behavior?

Of course not. One story got traction for God only knows what reason, and every “journalist” in the media went looking for anyone who had a video on his iPhone of an airline employee saying “shit.” Airlines being bad is “trending” right now, and so that’s what the media is presenting.

This stuff has been happening for a long time, but it didn’t matter six months ago because no one wanted to read about it. It wasn’t popular. It wasn’t what people wanted to read. Now it is one of the hottest news items, not because it suddenly matters or has suddenly become important, but because it is popular and will attract readers.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Selective Outrage

Trump is under pressure from Democrats for firing the director of the FBI, James Comey, who was investigating him for being a Russian spy. I still have a bit of a problem getting my head around that; the FBI is investigating the President of the United States for anything, let alone for being an undercover foreign agent. Anyway.

CBS News stated repeatedly last night that Comey “has an impeccable reputation for integrity,” but that’s a little different than the song they were singing a few months ago when they were blaming him for Hillary Clinton’s loss in the election.

Democrats are displaying their general lack of intelligence or principle. In December of last year they wanted him fired, and now they are outraged that he has been fired for basically the reason that they wanted him fired; namely his handling of the Clinton email issue. Democrats claim his handling of that issue in October cost Clinton the election, while Trump says his handling of the issue throughout the process exceeded his authority.

Democrats would have been thrilled had Obama fired Comey before he left office, but they are outrage that Trump was the one to do it. Typical. My only question is why it took so long to fire the silly ass. I have been wondering for months why he still had a job.

Oh yes: the last president to fire an FBI director who was investigating him? Bill Clinton.

Friday, May 05, 2017

Thanks, Google

The latest Gmail scame has been in the news quite a bit, so Google has done something about it, namely making it harder for me to access my own effing Gmail account. Instead of the usual login screen, I now get one saying that they are protecting me from the phishing scam that they claimed in the news they have already shut down, and telling me how wonderful the new process is, with a tag that says "First, enter your password."

Then, of course, it will not accept my password. There is a link for "Forgot your password." Clicking on that leads to the original login screen, the one I've been familiar with for many months, only now it reads "Enter the last password you remember." I do that, and am logged in to my Gmail account.

??? So, what did all of that accomplish?

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

A Product Of Her Times

If you actually "take full and personal responsibility" for something, you say so and stop talking. Hillary Clinton says that she takes "full and personal responsibility" for losing the presidential election last year, and then goes on to say that she also lost because of James Comey, Russian interference in the election and self hating women who would not vote for her. In other words, she takes no real responsibility at all.

There is, however nothing unusual in that, this is the way modern politics works. "I apologize if anyone took offense."