Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Honor The Venue

The media frenzy over sideline activity prior to football games is, unsurprisingly, reaching insanity. In postgame interviews, reporters are asking players inane questions about pregame anthem positioning rather than about the game itself. Good God.

The national anthem, and the flag, are symbols, and I believe we get entirely too wrapped up these days about “respecting” symbols, and pay too little attention to respecting what those symbols represent. It seems to me that one might disrespect this nation more by failing to speak out against what he perceives to be an injustice, than he would by failing to provide proper obeisance to a symbol.

Listening to the idiotic woman who sang the national anthem at the Cardinals/Cowboys game last night, I had the thought wondering why there is no outrage over singers who make up their own tune for the anthem so as to display what they perceive to be their vocal virtuosity. They warble, shriek, and hit notes that are miles away from the proper tune, and no one seems to be in the least offended by them mangling the nation’s anthem for their own glorification.

That being said, there is a time and place for everything. The owner of the football team is paying those players to attract fans to the game, in the stadium and on television. When the player is in uniform and in the stadium and acts in a manner which is certain to alienate some fans, actual or potential, he is acting against his employer’s interest, and is doing so on his employer’s time and in his employer’s venue. How can that possibly be considered honorable?

As much as I dislike ever agreeing with Donald Trump; yes, those players should either desist or be fired.

Friday, September 22, 2017

The Travails of Today's Navy

Much is being made of the problems that the US Navy is having these days due to undermanning; lack of proper maintenance, tired sailors and officers due to lengthy watchstanding hours, poor performance due to lack of training time… All of this on brand new ships, with shiny new equipment.

Boo hoo. The boat I first served on was twenty two years old when I came aboard; four years older than I was. Diablo leaked so badly that we had a standing joke that our most critical piece of equipment was the bilge pump; if it ever crapped out we would sink in twelve hours. The periscope housings leaked when we were on the surface, which was a neat trick since they were more than twenty feet above the waterline. Nobody ever figured out how they did that, which pissed the Captain off no end. He had to wear a rain hat; not on the bridge, in the control room.

More than once we got under weigh on battery power because we could not get any one of our four engines started. Well, three actually, since one of them was permanently out to lunch. It was used for booze storage, but that's a different topic. We never ran out of battery power before getting at least one engine running, and so never needed to be towed back to port, but a couple of boats in our squadron did suffer that indignity. We gave them a lot of shit about that, but it was kind of risky considering that it could have been us. They may have had more booze storage than we did.

In port we stood watch on a four hours on twelve hours off basis, but we weren’t in port much. At sea the electricians stood four hours on four off, known as “port and starboard,” and we didn’t waste any time bitching about it. It was just a fact of life. We didn’t have any deck chairs either, and no shuffleboard courts.

Yes, we got tired, but it didn’t justify fucking up while on watch. It certainly didn’t justify letting some feather merchant ram us broadside.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

It's Different This Time?

I'm watching Ken Burns' series on the war in Vietnam, and thinking that people writing about watching the series are missing the reason that it matters today. He is telling us in no uncertain terms that, while we thought we knew what our government was doing in Vietnam and why they were doing it, we most certainly did not. We were being massively lied to by our elected leadership.

We think we know what we are doing in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria. Do we?

We have no real reason to think that we do. We should have every reason to realize that we do not know, given how massively we were lied to about the reasons for the invasion of Iraq. Do we think that the lying stopped because we elected young man who was a rising young star in the state government of Illinois? A state which has imprisoned three of its last four elected governors? Elect a guy who is a member of the most dishonest state government in the nation and expect honesty in the White House?

Why is the American electorate so willing to be lied to?

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Don't Call the Fire Department

This thing with Donald Trump about the North Koreans kind of reminds me of an old woman who used to live in our homeowners’ association. She was a piece of work, which is a nice way of saying that she was a nasty, bad tempered old bitch. To her, nobody ever did anything right.

She had an ongoing vendetta with a home up on the canyon rim overlooking her unit which, unfortunately for her, was not within our association. It was a junkyard and, undeniably, an eyesore. I never really felt sorry for her, though. If anyone ever deserved to have to look at that nightmare it was her, but I certainly would have felt sorry for anyone else.

She ranted at anyone who would listen, and many who tried not to, that something needed to be done about that house, addressed our Board of Directors at great length during every monthly Board meeting and more than once called the Police Department. Since it was outside our association, there was nothing we could do about it, of course, and several of her calls to police turned out to be to the wrong department.

She finally decided that it might be a fire hazard and called the Fire Dept, getting the right one this time, which turned out badly for our association. They looked at the home and said that it was not a fire hazard. "But," they said, “your slopes are a fire hazard. You have thirty days to clear them or we will do it for you and send you a bill.”

It cost us more than $6500 to hire a crew to get the work done and, needless to say, did not increase the woman’s popularity much.

Kind of makes one want to suggest to Trump that he not be too hasty in taking action against North Korea.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Watching Football Games

Well, I guess it's okay for me to watch exciting football games again, if I can find any exciting games to watch. There won't be any in Los Angeles, I suspect, and probably not in Baton Rouge. There was one in San Diego Saturday night, when the Aztecs beat Stanford, by which time I was home from my overnight hospital stay and which I watched without the asshole's cardiologist's permission.

Anyway, the procedure was Thursday, and we won't discuss the anesthesiology because talking about it would probably cause a blowout of the repair work that the cardiologist did. Suffice it to say that I was able to hear him tell the staff to call up and advise that I would be spending the night, but not sufficiently awake to tell him what I thought of him. So I now have a stent in one of my arteries, despite him saying that my arteries looked "pretty darned good overall."

He did not even attempt to reconcile that with the earlier diagnosis of "severe multivessel coronary artery disease," but assholes cardiologists are not known for consistency. I may get more detail when I see him for the followup this Thursday, but I probably won't. Fuck it; I'm either going to die, or I'm not. I mean short term. Long term, of course, I will. We all do.

Meanwhile, I'll keep looking for exciting football games to watch.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Well, That Was Wierd

I play Fantasy Football every year and usually finish in the bottom half of the league. I follow NFL teams quite closely, but I don't follow individual players much, and that doesn't fit the FFL modus operandi very well. I enjoy it though, and it gives me somebody to root for when watching games where I have no real feeling for either team.

This weekend two of my active players were scratched on Sunday morning, so I was working with seven players while the other 11 teams in my league were working with nine each. I figured I would get blown out, but such was not the case. Not only did I win my contest, by 2.5 points, I was outscored by only one other team in the league. Strange.

Monday, September 11, 2017

The Inanity of Lawsuits

Several states are filing lawsuits to assert that the current president cannot use the same authority to cancel a Presidential Executive Order that the former president used to create the order in the first place.

Several of the suits also cite violation of the Administrative Procedure Act for failing to follow the process for notice and comments, but that is pretty shaky territory since in creating the act that they seek to overturn, the Obama administration also failed to follow those same procedures. If a court overturned Trump's cancellation of DACA on those grounds, it would also have to overturn DACA itself on the same grounds. It's called "being hoist on one's own petard." Admittedly, I'm not sure what a petard is, but being hoist upon it sounds unpleasant.

Google is your friend. A petard is a small bomb. One certainly does not want to get hoist upon one of those; one's own or anyone else's.

There were some sane heads who said at the time that the problem with Obama's whole schtick of "If Congress won't act then I will," other than the unconstitutionality of it, was that what could be done by the executive order of one president could be undone by the executive order of another president. Obama supporters seemed to think that no Republican would ever be elected to the White House, and they now seem to think that is still true, denying reality to the bitter end.

Saturday, September 09, 2017

On Cardiologists

I do not consider making people happy to be one of my life goals; the exception being, of course, my wife. Making her happy is definitely a life goal, because I am not stupid. Not to mention the loving her thing.

I am definitely not a fan of making my fucking cardiologist happy. Cardiologists are happy when they are making money by either cutting you open, or sticking things into your leg and running them up into your heart, both of which are barbaric. They call the latter “catheterization,” which is absurd. Those things are most certainly not catheters.

Cardiologists are barbarians, and assholes. I don’t know if being a cardiologist turns them into that, or if only that kind of person becomes a cardiologist. Someday I’m going to conduct a study. If I survive my present asshole barbarian cardiologist long enough, that is.

This one keeps telling me my heart is fine, and that the reason that the same gym routine that has not been tiring me for several years is now tiring me is neurological. That’s not entirely unreasonable but he keeps running tests, which leads me to think that he doesn’t entirely believe what he is telling me. That is to say, I suspect he is bullshitting me because he doesn’t have a clue as to what’s going on.

Most doctors say that you have an “idiopathic” whatever, which is doctorese for “damned if I know,” but cardiologists just tell you that nothing is wrong at all because they think that you can’t feel your own heartbeat.

I was in further doubt of his pollyanna remarks when he ordered the most recent test, a repeat of one I’d had just eight months before. It involves injection of radioactive material into my blood and is supposed to be done no more frequently than once per year, and when I reminded him I’d had it more recently all he did was tell me how tiny the amount of radiation is and say that we (notice the “we”) needed the information.

Please note that the amount of information that I, as in me the patient, is going to get from that test is something close to zero because it says things like, “A large sized, mild to moderate severity, minimally reversible defect exists in the proximal to distal inferior and inferoseptal segments.” How informative is that? It sounded like it was saying that part of my heart is inferior, which I didn’t appreciate.

Inferior segments, forsooth. Which segments of your heart are inferior, bub?

Anyway, in all fairness, I was informed by the part that said, “Findings are consistent with severe multivessel coronary artery disease.” Shit. So I guess “we” did get information.

The asshole cardiologist became giddy as he told his nurse to reserve a time slot in the “cath lab.” He even told her to “book the first slot you can get.” If he was not a barbaric psychopath he would have left the room before he told her that so that the patient (that’s me) would not hear it.

So here we go again with one of those procedures where I’m sedated. The anesthetist always comes in and goes over things, and I tell him that as a long time recovering alcoholic I am significantly drug resistant so he is going to have to use more dosage than usual. He pats me on the leg and says he will “take good care of me” and promptly forgets every word that I said. He is a doctor and I am this old guy who used to be an electrician.

So sure enough at some point during the procedure I wake up and start yelling, “Hey dickhead.” Apparently I’m not yelling as loud as I think I am, because it’s about two years before somebody looks down and says, “Oh, hello. Are you awake?” Seriously? ”Yeah I’m awake you fucking moron, because I told you to use more drugs and you…”

And they give me more drugs if for no other reason than to shut me up.

Anyway, back at the cardiologist’s office, after we’ve got all of the business worked out about the upcoming angiogram I ask him if it’s okay for me to continue going to the gym in the meantime. He gives me this look, like he’s trying to figure out why I just broke out in a bad case of stupid and says that, no, I should not go to the gym.

I then ask him if it’s okay to watch football games and he finally figures out that I’m fucking with him. “Sure,” he says, “just don’t watch any exciting ones.” Maybe he’s not all bad.

Thursday, September 07, 2017

Spare Me The Handwringing

If the “dreamers” were marching with the approach of asking for the favor of being permitted to stay here I would be totally on board. I think they should be invited to stay. I don’t say “permitted to stay,” because I think we should do better than that, I think we should welcome them rather than tolerate them.

I am not sympathetic, however, to their anger and their sense that they have been wronged. We have laws and they are in violation. They cannot demand “rights” that under the law they do not have. Wants are not rights.

Their argument is utterly incomprehensible. “I didn’t ask to be brought here,” they say angrily, “but I am outraged that you are trying to make me leave.”

Congress should have passed DACA. They had a chance to do so and declined. The executive order called DACA was created in a manner contrary to our constitution and was rescinded. The President, in rescinding that executive order, challenged Congress to pass the law. In rescinding the unconstitutional executive order, he allowed time before it takes effect for Congress to put DACA into law. Any anger you may feel at the ending of DACA should be directed at Congress, not Trump.

I liked many things about Obama, but his whole schtick about, “If Congress won’t act then I will,” was utterly contrary to the manner in which the constitution specifies that this nation is to be governed. It does not only not say that the President can act in place of Congress, it specifically says that he cannot. It says that the President “shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed.” Laws passed by Congress.

In his statement he says that when Congress declines to pass a law he will act contrary to their will by executive order. As a case in point, the executive order DACA expressly specifies that parts of immigration law passed by Congress will not be carried out.

Trump, for whatever reason, did the right thing. Congress did the wrong thing. Direct anger where it belongs.

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

A Better Life

I was reading a discussion elsewhere, one which made little sense but which led to me thinking about the concept of the desire for “a better life” and the pursuit thereof.

The people who founded this nation came here in pursuit of “a better life.” To do that they embarked on a dangerous and arduous ocean voyage, an adventure in itself that no few number of them would not survive. Once here, they had to contend with a rather hostile land with none of the civilization which they had left, disease, wild animals, hostile indigenous peoples, crop failures and harsh weather. They wanted that “better life” very badly to go through all of that.

Today’s “undocumented immigrants,” while they broke the law entering the country without permission, worked hard, traveled great distances on foot and often endured great danger from “coyotes” who preyed on them to get to the land that promised them “a better life.” When they got here they took backbreaking jobs and lived in humble conditions to send money back home to support the families they left behind.

Today’s American citizens who want a better life demand that government do something for them; pass a law or “tax the rich” in order to give them something for free. God help us all.

Monday, September 04, 2017

Strange

I tuned in to "Hardball With Chris Matthews" on MSNBC briefly this afternoon. Yeah, I know. I do that every once in a while to remind myself why I don't watch that channel. Anyway, they were having a lengthy discussion about Trump firing Michael Flynn, which happened last February. Why is that worth discussing in September?

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Fine Lines

From Da Tech Guy blog:

"When I was young the NAACP was known for standing up to police dogs and angry Klansmen for the rights of average people to go to school, sit at a lunch counter and live where they will. Now they are known for protesting on behalf of a millionaire football player unsigned after a 2-10 record and people wonder why they aren’t as respected as they once were."

Yeah. I guess the whole meaning of the word "cause" has been redefined.

Sports in San Diego

The San Diego newspaper still has a sports section, but I’m not sure why. Maybe we all need something to line the bottom of our feline litter boxes.

Sportswriter Kevin Acee has finally tired of being critical of the NFL team that moved to Los Angeles, and is now swanning like a schoolgirl over his new enthusiasm; San Diego’s new professional Lacrosse team. He believes it will draw the crowds of 72,000 that the Chargers were unable to draw.

Well, good luck with that. He can’t be happy about the new professional soccer team, because we were supposed to lose that when the new Mission Valley stadium deal collapsed. Admitting that we got the expansion franchise regardless is just too embarrassing after all of his bloviating about how we had to pass the stadium initiative or we would miss a chance at getting a professional soccer team.

Dan Fouts is telling us how embarrassing it must be for the Chargers to only draw 21,000 fans for preseason games in LA, because only two NFL teams have averaged fewer than 21,000 fans at regular season games in the history of the NFL. Yes, and the apples I bought yesterday were horribly overpriced, because they were much, much smaller than the grapefruits in the bin right next to them.

I watched a Chicago preseason game on Sunday that was attended by about 15,000 fans, in a 70,000-seat stadium that will be filled to capacity once the regular season starts. A crowd of 21,000 for a preseason game is actually a pretty good draw.

On a related governmental note; In 1996 California passed Proposition 218 which specified, among other things, that any special purpose tax needed to be voted on by the people affected by that tax and had to pass by a two-thirds majority. A court ruled this week that the ruling applies only to taxes imposed by governments, and that any tax or tax increase resulting from a citizen initiative could pass with a simple majority.

So, California becomes more insane every year. If a local government wants to impose a new tax to pay for a football stadium, then 67% of the voting public must approve that new tax. But if a football team owner as a private citizen initiates a new tax to have a city or county finance a new stadium for him, that tax only needs the approval of 51% of the voting public.

Local sportswriters are not writing about this at all.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

More Voodoo Economics

Economist Dean Baker admits today that he “messed up” in an earlier column, in which he forgot that if the highest paid of 100 workers leaves, then what remains is not 99% of the wage pool. He really should have based his premise on the highest paid person of a 100-member work force making more than 1% of the total, rather than having to have a reader point it out for him, but… What can one say; he’s an economist.

He also says in that erroneous article that the retirement of the oldest worker "should be associated not only with slower wage growth, but also slower productivity growth,” notwithstanding that the topic of the article is wage growth.

He doesn’t explain why he thinks that a 65-year-old worker might be increasing the plant’s productivity more than a 24-year-old might be. Note that he is not talking about productivity level itself in that sentence, he is talking about the rate at which productivity is increasing. Strange. An older worker was contributing to improvements in productivity and younger workers are not.

Anyway, today he does get back on the topic of wage growth and wants to make sure we understand that the retirement of older workers who make higher wages and their replacement by younger workers who make lower wages, and the concurrent slowing in the growth in wages, is “an important issue that we should be able to think about clearly.”

“The question,” he says today, “is whether the slow pace of wage growth in the last year or two can be explained to any substantial degree by changes in the mix of workers, specifically lower paid younger workers taking the place of relatively higher paid workers who are retiring.”

He then discusses at great length the relative proportions of the workforce in age groups 16-24, 25-34 and 16-34, with graphs in three colors. First, he is discussing the relative proportions within a total of 35% of the workforce, and second, he apparently thinks that everyone retires at age 36.

Tell that to my wife, who is 70 and still working. And he proves that the issue of slow wage growth is not "an issue that we are able to think about clearly."

Monday, August 21, 2017

Warnings Abound

One pet store has a huge sign warning pet owners to keep their pets indoors today because if their pet looks up at the sun it will burn their eyes as badly as the same move will burn human eyes. Seriously. If cats and dogs were not looking directly at the sun yesterday, why would they look at it during an eclipse? Animals might notice that it's getting darker, but they are not going to look at the sun to figure out why.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Here We Go Again

In the early 2010's we were being subjected to violations of the fourth amendment to our constitution, with justification that it was necessary to establish a balance between safety and the right to privacy.

Now begins the clarion call to strip us of another basic right, as US News & World Report headlines that "Far-Right Protests Leave U.S. Cities Scrambling to Balance Safety, Free Speech."

They are apparently citing cities as the balancing agency, so as to avoid implying a constitutional violation, but local governments are as constrained by the constitution as is the federal government.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

More Mainstream Fake News

I have said repeatedly that I am no fan of Trump or his policies, but the mounting and increasingly dishonest drumbeat to take him down is beginning to sway me to his side, as I do have a proclivity to come to the aid of the underdog. This Charlottesville aftermath is a demonstration an acceleration of the mainstream media “fake news” phenomenon.

I read a transcript of the entirety of Trump’s news conference upon which CBS and others are basing their claims that Trump is “defending white supremacists,” and at no point did he come within hand grenade distance of doing anything of the sort. What he did do is accuse the left wing group of being at fault along with the right wing group in causing the violence, and he did not even claim that they were equally at fault.

There is no doubt whatever that his statement was entirely accurate, if in no other respect in that the left’s decision to engage in proximate confrontation was certain to cause violence and was, in fact, designed to do so regardless of who threw the first punch. CBS and other media of its caliber are completely avoiding mentioning that aspect of the confrontation.

CBS et. al. have been touting the left’s possession of not one but two permits for public assembly, but they carefully do not point out that the permits were for two areas well removed from the area where the conflict occurred, and that they did not have a permit to assemble in that area. A pundit on CBS claimed that “if they went” to the park in question, which of course they did, “they would not have been arrested because it was a public park.” He failed to mention that large groups still are required to have a permit to assemble in a public park.

The media is flailing with the horror of Trump’s advocacy of racial division, but it is the Democratic Party which has for more than a decade pursued the policy of “identity politics,” and the media which has prated endlessly about “who will get the black vote” or “how Hispanics will vote” in every election. Trump’s entire campaign was based on inclusiveness and on support for the working class.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Media Dishonesty

I have noted the dishonest reporting of the media several times. Turns out the corruption goes much deeper. Their billing department makes their editorial department seem to be a model of purity.

At one page of the San Diego Union-Tribune page I see one advertised rate for 7 days home delivery plus digital access of $4.99/week, with no mention of time limit. At another page, based on zip code, I see a different advertised rate of $5.99/week. This week I get a bill for $218.18, which it says will pay me through 12/08/2017. That is 18 weeks, which makes my rate $12.11 per week. There are no details, other than it shows that I have no past due balance and that the amount is entirely a current billing.

Please tell me why I should not regard this as outright theft?

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Where Are The Editors?

USA Today, in an article about Mazda’s announcement of the development of dramatic improvement of mileage in their new engine from 30mpg to 40mpg, says that the new technology has the ability of, “potentially saving owners at least several dollars per fillup on a 15-gallon tank of gasoline.”

(Emphasis mine.)  Where are the editors? Normally an editor would correct such stupidity, but papers today don’t use editors, having discarded them as unnecessary overhead expense.

I’m sure you caught it. The savings would come in the form of filling up less often, because the development does not alter the price of gasoline, and each fillup will cost precisely the same as it did before.

The article also claims that it will make "conventional cars a more viable option to electric motors" which, if you decipher the illiterate conflation of cars and motors (again, where are the editors?), is a questionable claim. An increase of 33% is not going to make in internal combustion reciprocating engine come within hand grenade distance of the efficiency of an electric motor; not by several orders of magnitude.

Monday, August 07, 2017

Lighter Moment

Tony Stewart walks into the Stewart-Hass Racing shop this morning carrying a small ugly dog. Stewart owns cats, not dogs, so a mechanic is a bit surprised and asks him, "What's with the dog?"

"I got him for Danica," Tony replies. "Oh," the mechanic says, "good trade."

Saturday, August 05, 2017

Biased Media, Much?

Please read the linked article and tell me how it justifies a headline reading, “FBI tracked 'fake news' believed to be from Russia on Election Day,” since the closest they can come to such a conclusion is that they found, “social media user accounts behind stories, some based overseas, and the suspicion was that at least some were part of a Russian disinformation campaign.”

Not only is the “suspicion” two times removed from an actual conclusion but it is coming from absolutely no named sources but from unnamed “multiple sources,” from “two sources familiar with the investigation,” from “a person briefed on the investigation,” more “multiple sources,” from “one Obama White House official,” and from “others at the White House.”

One cannot read a news item today without encountering citations from anonymous sources, which used to be a taboo practice in the news business, but this article sets a new record for such citations, and establishes a new low for journalistic credibility.

Not only is it impossible to find justification for the headline, it’s pretty difficult to find justification for publication of the article at all, given that it says nothing other than that the FBI is managing to find new ways to justify calling it the “Federal Bureau of Ineptitude.”

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Taking Liberties With The Truth

From CNN on July 11, “The President's son and namesake, in a sensational revelation that significantly escalated the drama over alleged Russian election meddling incessantly battering the White House, may have provided the flames by releasing an email chain that detailed his expectations of getting Kremlin dirt on Hillary Clinton in a meeting he had with a Russian lawyer last year.”

It goes on to detail how Donald Junior was led to believe that the meeting would be about providing dirt on Hillary Clinton, but that the Russians did nothing of the sort. The topic was merely bait, and the Russians in fact merely wanted to discuss the issue of adoptions of Russian infants by Americans. Trump Junior reports that that issue was not on his calendar at the time and that he tried to leave the meeting as quickly as possible.

From the time that the story of this meeting first “broke” Donald Junior said that the purpose of it was “opposition research,” that the person offering the meeting had proposed the meeting in order to convey “damaging information” on Hillary Clinton, and that it turned out to be a meeting with a Russian lobbyist whose agenda was the Magnitsky Act.

Now, on August 1st, Jake Tapper is saying that, “To be clear, of course, the statement that Don Jr. issued that was dictated by the president, according to the Post, was misleading,” Tapper said. “It did not even remotely acknowledge the purpose of the meeting, which was Donald Trump Jr. wanting to meet someone billed as a Russian government lawyer with one specific purpose: to obtain dirt on Hillary Clinton.”

“You, as a citizen, you should expect a much higher standard of truth than the one that the White House press secretary just enunciated,” Tapper continued. “If a meeting takes place so campaign officials can get dirt on a political rival from the Russian government, describing that meeting as being about adoption and not mentioning the purpose of the meeting. It’s not true. It’s inaccurate. It’s so misleading as to be a lie.”

“You as a citizen, you have every right to wonder: why would the president hide the truth and be inaccurate about this?” Tapper added. “Why would he want to hide from you the facts of this meeting which they insist was innocent? And, as always, what does any of this have to do with making america (sic) great again?”

I happened to catch the airing of Jake Tapper spouting that claptrap, and it was even less intelligible when listening to it than it is when reading the transcript. It is astonishing to me that the media no longer even makes any pretense that it is not altering history to suit its own agenda.

And it’s not altering the record from some event in the distant past, it is altering events which happened a mere three weeks ago. Is anyone going to step forward and tell Jake Tapper that his version of events is inaccurate?

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Dick Measuring is Not Foreign Policy

Headline, "US flies bombers over Korean peninsula after North Korea missile test," sort of proves North Korea's point that they need nuclear weapons. Libya abandoned their nuclear weapons program, and look where that got them.

Friday, July 28, 2017

More Dishonest Reporting

Headline reads, "One Vote Sinks Skinny Health Care Reform: McCain's."

That was one of many headlines saying that John McCain, singlehandedly leaped into the breach and fought off the ravening reformers, defeating the heinous efforts of his own party, his valorous effort alone saving the American people from extinction by dread diseases.

There's only one problem with that story. Two other Republican Senators also voted against the bill, but they were both women and neither of them is dying of cancer so they don't count. I'm not quite the feminist that my wife is, but that meme is utter bullshit.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Dishonest Reporting

These are not stories taken from some fringe partisan publication. They have been published in the San Diego Union-Tribune and/or were taken from the Associated Press and other mainstream media publications.

The headline reads, “Brain Disease Seen In Most Football Players In Large Report On CTE.” If you read the article, however, you will find that the study involved the brains of 115 former NFL football players. That is 6.7% of the players who are actively playing in the NFL today, and is certainly less than a fraction of 1% of those who have played in the NFL since it was formed, so it cannot by any stretch of the imagination be called a “large study.”

Further, it involved only the brains of players whose brains had been donated by their families and whose behavior prior to death had led to a suspicion of brain disease, so it can hardly be called a “study.” They found what they already knew to be there.

In short, this so called “large study of football players” was entirely meaningless in real terms, and one has to wonder why this article was even written. Well, we know why it was written. It was written as an anti-NFL propaganda hit piece.

Another headline reads, “House Approves Sanctions Package Against Russia,” and tells us that it is in retaliation for Russia meddling in the 2016 US election. What it doesn’t tell us is that there is no actual physical evidence that they did anything of the sort, nor do they tell us that the bill also contains sanctions against companies doing business with Russia. Not only is that against international law, but the whole bill is an egregious infringement executive prerogative, because foreign policy is a mandate of the Executive Branch, not of the Legislature.

The sanctions against companies doing business is actually the real purpose of the bill, because it is an attempt to prevent BP and other European petroleum companies from importing Russian natural gas by pipeline, so that American petroleum companies can export liquefied natural gas to Europe at higher cost.

Last week the Union-Tribune headlined that the “Soccer City Planner Wants MLS To Delay Franchise Award,” until plans could be redrawn for a Mission Valley stadium to replace the failed initiative from earlier this year. What they failed to mention in the article is that Major League Soccer has already awarded the two new franchises in question, that one of them did go to San Diego, and that plans are being made for a stadium to be built for the new professional soccer team in North County.

President Trump, whom I consider a moron and who I dislike intensely, claims that the mainstream media is a major purveyor of “fake news,” and this one of the few things on which I agree with him.

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. He probably scared the shit out of himself the one time he did it, plus he almost certainly had his spotter screaming in his ear, "Don't you ever do that again."

Update, Sunday 6:25pm: Jimmie Johnson, seven time NASCAR champion, went three wide into turn one at Indianapolis this afternoon. Unlike rookie William Byron, he didn't make it; put his car into the wall and totaled it. Maybe the rookie should give "Seven Time" some lessons.

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.