Thursday, August 22, 2019

What Purpose Tariffs?

If the United States makes blivets, and some other nation makes blivets and is shipping them to this country at a price lower then the ones we make here, then import tariffs on blivets make very good sense. They protect the American makers of blivets by making foreign blivets less competitive with our own and discouraging the foreign country from exporting them to this country.

But when no one in America makes widgets, putting import tariffs on widgets merely results in the American consumer paying a higher price for widgets. The country making the widgets and shipping them to this country could not care less. In this instance, tariffs do not “punish the exporting country.”

Apparently, someone in the White House does not understand that simple principle, because, while some of the things he is putting tariffs on are produced in this country, he is also slapping tariffs on things that we do not produce in this country. In many cases we could produce them, and in some cases we used to produce them, but presently we don’t produce them.

Monday, August 19, 2019

Reality Asserts Itself

When I was a kid, I was growing up in a nation which touted itself as having the highest standard of living in the world. We bragged about having 5% of the world’s population and using 25% of the world’s resources. And we didn’t just state it as an abstract fact, we bragged about it as if it was some sort of accomplishment.

I forget the precise numbers, but I do recall thinking at the time that maybe we shouldn’t take such pride in them. My parents were certainly not anything approaching socialist in their thinking, but they did teach me a basic sense of fairness. More important, they along with our education system taught me to stay in contact with reality.

We assuaged whatever little shred of conscience we had by assuming that the rest of the world would someday pull themselves up to the same standard of living that we enjoyed. I viewed that assumption with a somewhat jaundiced eye, since the numbers seemed to me to indicate that there weren’t enough resources for that to happen, and that if the world’s standard of living were to equalize then ours would have to drop a bit.

Logic kind of bites idealists in the ass when they touch base with reality. In the real world, when the standard of living is the same everywhere, then 5% of the world’s population can no longer consume more than approximately 5% of the world’s resources. There’s no such thing as a free lunch.

And that process is happening now. The standard of living all over the world is rising, and it’s rising pretty fast. We are trying to maintain “economic growth” and it’s not happening, and we are pointing fingers everywhere. All the finger pointing is useless. It’s an effort to avoid maintaining contact with reality.

The world’s standard of living is equalizing, and for it to do so our standard of living has to decline a bit. I don’t know why we’re complaining; we did it to ourselves when we shipped all those manufacturing jobs overseas.

It had to happen. If it wasn’t that it would have been something else. The world wasn’t going to sit back and let us hog all the good times forever. Eventually, reality asserts itself.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Perhaps "Politically Correct," But...

The British Army is doing away with such gender specific titles as "rifleman" and "infantryman," because they are no longer sufficiently intelligent to understand the term "man" simply as "a member of the human race, gender unknown," as it has been used since the English language evolved. Apparently the concept that a word can have more than one meaning is too complex for today's "politically correct" mind. Anyway, they are now going to more neutral titles such as "infantry soldier" and "infanteer."

Really. "Infanteer?" They're too infantile to see the irony in that title? Oh Lordy.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Fearmongering Prevails

The headline, featured on Google News, reads, "NASA Detects Planet-Killer Asteroid That Might Hit Earth Next Year." On reading the article, in International Business Times, we find the the orbit of this "planet killer asteroid" is presently calculated to miss the Earth by 3.9 million miles, but the article goes on to say that the orbit could be altered by, "heat from internal or external sources such as the Sun," or by "a gravitation keyhole," which turns out to be "a certain area in space that’s affected by the gravitational pull of a nearby planet."

I'm not sure how it thinks the Sun's heat is going to alter the asteroid's orbit before it reaches Earth's neighborhood, but why let trivial details interfere with a good scare narrative.

The whole article is gibberish, actually, and it makes no attempt to explain why these orbit altering influences would change the asteroid's orbit toward Earth but not away from it.

So the asteroid presently appears likely to miss by 3.9 million miles, but may be altered to hit the Earth, or could be altered to miss us by 7.8 million miles.

I read this nonsensical bullshit so that you don't have to.

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Medical "Studies"

The “medical study” with respect to caffeine use and migraines that was on the news a few days ago is a perfect example of why I pay no attention to “medical studies” in the news today.

The stated conclusion was that three cups of coffee per day (or less) would not trigger migraines, while four or more cups of coffee could. That conclusion was obviously bogus. Any neurologist who knows anything about migraines can tell you that caffeine is known to resolve migraine, and that the mechanism by which it does so is well documented. (It constricts blood vessels.)

That neurologist will also tell you that caffeine’s role in triggering migraines is not well known at all. There is anecdotal evidence that it might, as well as that more than a hundred other factors might, but there is no documentation of the mechanism whereby any of them, including caffeine, might do so.

Finally, that neurologist will tell you that in many patients with frequent and severe migraines, a majority actually, caffeine appears to play no role whatever in triggering migraines. I happen to be one of those patients.

Having read a conclusion which was at such obvious odds with medical reality, I went searching to see who performed the study and how they performed it. The result did not really surprise me. The description of the study began, “They asked patients who frequently experienced migraines to keep a diary for six weeks,” and went on to say that, “In all, 98 patients completed these diaries.”

This is the state of medical science in the US today. A “medical study” now consists of fewer than 100 untrained persons keeping notes for six weeks.

The number of ways in which this study are invalid are so numerous that it’s hard to know where to start. 1) The number of participants, 98, is several orders of magnitude too small to provide anything like meaningful results. 2) Lay persons notoriously keep highly inaccurate “diaries,” and relying upon them to determine meaningful medical conclusions is malpractice. 3) Six weeks is too short a period of time, again by several orders of magnitude, for any conclusion to be even remotely valid. 4) The juxtaposition of the so-called “trigger” and the onset of the migraine is highly variable, and yet no one questions the cause/effect relationship.

In other words, “I drank four cups of coffee in the morning, and late that afternoon I had a migraine.” If someone claimed that a truck hitting him in the morning was the cause of him falling down in the afternoon, his claim of cause and effect might be questioned.

Making the “study” even more nonsensical is that these diaries did not report the types of “caffeinated drinks” consumed, not differentiating between a 24oz Red Bull energy drink and a 6oz cup of green tea, so the “researchers” did not have the slightest idea of the amount of caffeine that was under consideration.

The great “health care debate” being held by the Democratic Party might be entirely moot, if this is the quality of the medical profession that is going to be providing the health care about which we are arguing.

Friday, August 02, 2019

Wierd

San Diego has a severe shortage of rental properties, and is considering passing a law to impose rent control. So, let's see. If I'm a builder and can build a building which will rent apartments, but will not be able to rent those apartments for enough money to make a profit, am I going to... Never mind.

Turnaround

Two years ago the Affordable Care Act, Obamacare, was the best thing passed by Congress since the Social Security Act championed by FDR. It was the best thing to happen to Americans since the Civil Rights Act. It was living proof that Barack Obama could walk on water.

On Wednesday, nine Democrats on a stage ganged up on and viciously berated Joe Biden for defending Obamacare, demonizing him for wanting to keep it in place.

Friday, July 26, 2019

Relativity Bites

Where does the cart go, relative to the horse? Democrats seem to be having a hard time figuring that out.

They have decided that it is essential to impeach Donald Trump, but they are having trouble coming up with a specific crime upon which to base the impeachment. They keep throwing shit against the wall, and all of it just slides down and lands on the floor. Except that which they throw in the fan. We all know where that ends up.

They also pursue racial equality by claiming that white people are evil. Somehow, they cannot see how that misses the boat.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Due Process

I made the mistake of watching the Mueller testimony on NBC this morning, and so was forced to hear Jake Tapper yammering about the “vast right wing propaganda machine” afterward. Fortunately, I had already finished my coffee by the time he came up with that one. I also got to hear about the Democrats on the panel, “failing to counter falsehoods from the Republicans” on the panel.

Here are some of the “falsehoods” that the Democrats “failed to counter.” I would actually have enjoyed seeing them try.

One Republican questioned why Mueller had gone to such a major effort to say that the investigation was unable to prove beyond doubt that Trump was innocent of obstruction of justice. Given that our system of justice requires a prosecutor to investigate and prove guilt, not innocence, because the latter is presumed, it was strange for the report to declare that, “If we had found enough evidence to declare him innocent, we would have said so.” In fact, no such evidence is actually needed.

He went on to refute Mueller’s claim that the investigation could not make a determination of guilt or innocence because of an OLC policy that a sitting president cannot be indicted, given that Mueller had made a determination on the issue of complicity with Russian meddling in the election. Claiming that the OLC memo permitted Mueller to make a decision one issue but prohibited him from doing so on another issue is indefensible.

Another Republican made the point that even if Trump did interfere with Mueller, he was not obstructing justice since what Mueller was doing was not justice. Given that Trump knew that he had not been complicit with the Russians, he was actually trying to prevent Mueller from perpetrating an injustice. I’m not sure there’s a valid legal point here, but for someone who thinks of justice in terms of right versus wrong… I’d say the Democrats were wise not to argue this point.

Yet another Republican pointed out that Mueller’s report acknowledged that Joseph Mifsud lied to the investigation not once, but at least three times, but that he was never charged with lying to investigators. Most of the people who were indicted were indicted for lying, but Mifsud, who started the whole “collusion” mess, was never charged for lying. This questioner wanted to know why, which Mueller refused to say, and suggested that it was because Mifsud was actually a founder of the conspiracy to begin with.

Democrats beat the drum endlessly about Trump’s efforts to fire Mueller, or have him removed, but even Mueller admitted that firing the head of the investigation would not have stopped the investigation. He admitted that he himself interviewed “very few” of the witnesses, so it’s pretty hard to say that firing him would even have hindered the investigation. It’s pretty hard to claim Trump's animus for Mueller as “obstruction,” then, and no one even claims that Trump tried to disband the investigation itself.

Democrats were the ones more prone to introducing falsehoods, with several of them charging Trump with witness tampering based on phrases including things that “could support an inference” of some evil intent or another. Let me repeat that concept upon which they want to convict President Trump, namely that something could support an inference that…”

We don’t need no steenkin’ “due process.”

Mueller was all over the place with his inability to charge Trump with obstruction of justice. First he said that it was due to an OLC memo that a sitting president cannot be indicted. The implication of that seemed to be that if he was not president he would have been indicted, which caused him to get that “deer in the headlights" look and stammer out a different answer.

The second answer was that due to that memo he could not even evaluate the evidence as to whether or not it constituted a crime. If he concluded that it did, said so, and did not indict, it would be unfair because in effect the president would be charged but would not be able to defend himself in court.

(That sort of conflicts with the fact that he did evaluate the evidence on “collusion” and say there wasn’t enough to indict. It also begs the question of why, if you cannot even evaluate the evidence, are you spending two years and tens of millions of dollars collecting it?)

Anyway, his thing about self defense sounds very noble, but he seems perfectly okay with accumulating as much garbage as he can and dumping it out for public consumption and then pulling a Pontius Pilate by washing his hands and saying, “Here it is, and I’m not going to comment on whether he’s a crook or not. Hint, hint hint, wink wink.”

Which sounds impartial, but actually makes him an asshole.

Tuesday, July 09, 2019

A Couple of Thoughts

An article today says "brain waste is cleared most effectively when sleeping on one's side," so people who sleep that way have less trash in their brain and are less prone to Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and other brain diseases. I'm not so sure about that. I sleep on my side, but I have Parkinson's and, according to my wife, my brain is full of all sorts of trash.

On a related note, my since she retired my wife is on a house organizing spree. She's doing a very nice job, and I'm loving the results, until she told me that she is "throwing out everything that's old and worn out." I found that statement rather alarming until she assured me that no, that did not include me.

Interestingly, she did not claim that I am not old and worn out, merely that she is not throwing me out.

Sunday, July 07, 2019

Pushing Their Agenda

The “big one” occurred at Daytona today when Clint Bowyer attempted to pass Austin Dillon for the lead and Dillon attempted to cut him off to prevent the pass, a move known as “blocking,” causing a wreck which destroyed some twenty race cars. Blocking is against the rules in most forms of auto racing, but not in NASCAR, where it is very common.

And very destructive, as today’s wreck illustrates, which is why most forms of auto racing have rules prohibiting it. I’ve never quite figured out why NASCAR refuses to prohibit it, and they’ve never offered an explanation.

When the wreck occurred the announcing staff went to great length to offer reason why they thought Dillon was not blocking. The reasons included that when Bowyer crossed Dillon’s rear from right to left it somehow caused Dillon’s car to turn left, but only after Bowyer then pulled up alongside him. They also said that Dillon did not go left on purpose, but that Bowyer’s car being nearby had caused Dillon’s car to go out of control and Dillon was just, “saving the car.” A third explanation was that being passed caused a loss of control which caused Dillon to become, “just a passenger.”

When somebody gives you no fewer than three reasons for something, you can be pretty sure than none of them are true. When you are telling the truth, you only have one story – you don’t need three.

Sure enough, the drivers involved sort of destroyed the announcers’ fantasy when interviewed while the carnage was being cleaned up. Bowyer said that Dillon was not only blocking, but that he did so twice. Dillon himself admitted that he was blocking and that yes, it was pretty stupid. The announcers were sort of nonplussed by that.

The announcers had been prating all day that blocking was a feature of racing at Daytona; that it was exciting, necessary, and in fact entirely desirable. They were even severely critical of one driver for not blocking when another driver attempted to pass him for the lead, and succeeded.

So when Dillon blocking Bowyer caused a massive wreck, if the announcers had been willing to admit that he was blocking it would have destroyed their little fantasy about how wonderful a feature blocking is at Daytona. They would have been pointing out that it had just caused a massive wreck.

This all proves that the announcing crew for NBC is no better than the one at Fox. They are more concerned with pushing their agenda than they are with informing the viewer as to what is happening.

Wednesday, July 03, 2019

Making Points Backwards

My blogging diminished for a while because there seemed little that was really worth talking about, but the Democratic primary election process starting up has produced an embarrassment of riches. This thing is a real clown parade.

Today’s thought is Kamela Harris and her thoughts on what she should do as president to “protect and defend the constitution” of the nation. Pertinent to the point I plan to make is that the constitution specifically says that all powers not specifically designated to the federal government are reserved to the states.

Harris stated this past week that she believed that yes, the federal government should return to imposing federally mandated school busing. She didn’t say so specifically, but one would assume that she wants that done by the Department of Education, since she used the phrase “return to” and it was the DoE which did it in the past. Her reason for the need for it was that, “is that if the states won’t do it then the federal government needs to step up.”

This is not an argument about what is right or wrong about school busing, it is about the federal government and its power over the states. Harris’ position would seem to indicate that she sees states as nothing more that geographical divisions of the nation, and does not acknowledge the right of states to exist as political entities, acting in accordance with the principles and beliefs of the people of each state.

This is the same person however who, as Attorney General of California, informed the law enforcement community of that state, all law enforcement agencies, that they were not required to comply with federal laws or assist federal officers in dealing with issues related to persons in this nation without permission. She went even further and said that not only were they not required to do so, but they were specifically forbidden to do so and, since hers is a “sanctuary state,” they were permitted to hinder the efforts of federal officers in their efforts to enforce federal laws.

Again, this is not an argument about what is wrong or right at the border, but is about the balance of power between federal and states. This action makes it very clear that Harris believes states have the right not only to act politically in accordance with their own principles and beliefs, but to do so in direct opposition to federal laws.

She is inconsistent. Not only does she say on one issue that states are sovereign, while saying on another issue the federal government is, but she is inconsistent in a manner precisely backwards from where she would be if she were reading the constitution.

The issue of immigration control and naturalization is specifically designated to the federal government by the constitution, and yet Kamela Harris claims that her state can ignore the government’s laws on that issue and follow its own policies instead.

The constitution is silent on the issue of education, leaving that as an issue to be controlled by states, and yet Harris is adamant that states do not have the right to implement their own policies in the conduct of that process.

I think we all know what the real problem is here. The real problem is that she is not thinking about these issues at all, but is simply using them as “stalking horses” in a manner that will pander to constituencies and secure votes for her path to the presidency. They are merely talking points to be used as steps toward the power of the White House.

Sunday, June 30, 2019

Maybe the Rules Are Wrong.

I swear, Formula 1 deliberately looks for ways to screw up their product. They finally had an exciting race today. Close racing pretty much start to finish, with a pass for the lead on lap 89 of 91. Then the officials announced that there may have been a rule infraction on the winning pass. When the television station had to leave the air, 45 minutes after the end of the race, officials had not yet announced a decision as to the possible infraction, so we did not know who actually won the race.

How are the race drivers supposed to comply with the rules when the officials do not know how to enforce them? It takes as much as an hour to decide whether or not a driver's action was in accordance with a rule, so how is a driver supposed to make that decision when he is piloting a car at speeds in excess of 200 mph?

NASCAR has a similar problem. The cars go through a "technical inspection" before each race, which they often fail as many as three times. A three time failure draws severe penalties, even though a failure may be by as little as .001" from the standard. Perhaps the problem is not the teams and their mechanics. Perhaps the problem is the ridiculous expectations set by the rules.

Update, 12:20pm: Formula 1 finally announced no penalty for the pass, and Max Verstappen was allowed to keep his well earned win.

Unlike the race in Canada where the win was taken from him because the stewards deemed that he had made an "unsafe return to the track." It took them more than 20 minutes to arrive at that conclusion, but somehow Max was supposed to arrive at the same conclusion in a fraction of a second while driving a car at over 100 mph in the grass with treadless tires. Sort of like driving on black ice and hitting your brakes. It would have been a disasterous move on his part, would have wrecked both him and the car trying to pass him, and yet after 20 minutes of deliberation that was the decision the stewards concluded he should have made.

Saturday, June 29, 2019

How Does That Help?

Kamela Harris raised her hand when asked, "How many of you have a health care plan which would abolish private insurance?" Turns out, of course, to be the wrong position because millions of people want to keep their present private insurance plan. She changed her position, saying that she "didn't understand the question."

So she gets that people won't vote for someone who wants to abolish private insurance, apparently, but why does she think that people will vote for a person who cannot understand a simple question like the one that was asked? It wasn't a trick question, and it wasn't one of Todd's lengthy inane lecture type questions. It was stated precisely as above.

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Only in California

It's not just what California does; sometimes it's the way they do it, or the reasons that are given for doing it.

This state recently allowed those in the country illegally to obtain drivers licenses. I have no real problem with that; other states have done the same. My problem was the reason given by then Governor Moonbeam. "We want them to be safe as they drive to and from work." First, how does having a drivers license make them safe while they are driving? Second, people in this country illegally are not allowed to work.

Now California has passed a law restoring the tax penalty for failing to obtain health insurance. I have no real problem with that either, although I think doing it on a state basis to replace a federal issue is a bit stupid. It does not, however, apply to those who are in the country illegally. They do still qualify for the subsidy if they do choose to obtain health insurance, though, through the "Covered California" health insurance program.

Short form, no penalty if you don't, but cash assistance if you do. But only for illegals. Those who are here legally pay a penalty if they don't. In California, you are treated better by the state if you are illegal.

The program, "Covered California," is a real doozy, too. The ins and outs are complex, but along with the new penalty law the state winds up taking money from people who make between $30,000 and $50,000 and gives it to people making as much as $150,000.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Time to Panic?

"According to Pentagon officials, vessels secretly controlled by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps Navy (IRGCN) fired several missiles at the U.S. destroyers USS Maddox (DD-731) and USS Turner Joy (DD-951) yesterday while they cruised in the Gulf of Tonkin, just off the coast of Vietnam. The missiles failed to strike either warship.

The move came as a shock to Seventh Fleet, which expected Iran to attack U.S. forces on the other side of the world in the Persian Gulf."


Relax. The quote is taken from The Duffel Blog.

Monday, June 24, 2019

Drunken Voting

I suspect that most people believe that the reason bars and liquor stores are closed on election day is because the government doesn’t want to have people voting while they are drunk. Actually, the reason has to do with a law against “buying votes,” because politicians used to get people to come to the polls by buying them drinks when they did so. They assumption was that the voter would vote for whoever bought them the drink which brought them to the voting booth.

It’s still illegal to buy votes, but only if the politician uses his own money or campaign funds. It’s perfectly legal to buy votes with taxpayer money, such as by promising jobs or government programs, which Democrats got to first with their promise of “a car in every garage and a chicken in every pot,” along with FDR’s “New Deal.”

In this election Democrats have gone completely nuts with buying votes using taxpayer money. Kamela Harris and several others are offering “reparations” for the “victims of slavery” which ended more than 150 years ago and of which there are no longer any living victims.

Elizabeth Warren has added reparations for “Native Americans” who had their land stolen, perhaps unaware that we’ve already done that by allowing them to legally steal money from the white man in their casinos. She also wants to provide reparations to same sex couples who overpaid taxes because they weren’t allowed to get married, because the only reason for getting married is to pay lower taxes.

Most of the Democratic candidates want to cancel most or all student loans because… Well, they don’t really say why other than that repaying the loans is hard. They don’t claim that the loans were imposed against the will of the persons who took them on, and they don’t claim that the college educations were not delivered.

They’ve apparently given up on cancelling home mortgages, which was all the rage in the 2016 election. For some reason they don’t want to cancel or pay off any credit card debt, and they are rigorously trying to pretend that debt due to medical expenses does not exist. They are just hot to trot on student loans.

Andrew Yang is a “direct buy” guy; he wants to just give $1000/month cash to every man, woman and child, $12,000 per year, cash on the barrelhead with no strings attached, for doing nothing. That would be an illegal buying of votes, except that he’s promising taxpayer money, not his own. It's money taken from people who do work for a living and given to people who don't work for a living. To be fair, it's paid to everyone, so it's also given back to people who do work for a living, which is confusing but seems to make sense to Andrew.

Cory Booker is a bit of a piker compared to that, he just wants to give a $5000 one-time payment to each person at time of birth. He calls it “baby bonds” and says that money, if invested in the stock market, could be worth $50,000 when the kid is 18 years old. It could also be worth about 50 cents, but even if he’s right, how far does $50,000 go?

Maybe it would be better to open the bars and let people vote while drunk.

Friday, June 21, 2019

The Latest "Sexual Assault"

No fan of or in any way inclined to defend Donald Trump, but she doesn't remember what time of year it occurred, may have been either in fall or spring, and isn't entirely sure what year it was, just that it was sometime in the ninties. Shades of the ditzy professor from California.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Its All About Priorities

Much is being made of two oil tankers damaged, supposedly, by limpet mines placed on them at some undisclosed location at an unknown time by unknown Iranians. We know it was limpet mines placed by Iran only because one of the mines didn’t explode and we have pictures of a bunch of guys in a boat removing it, who might be Iranians or might be US Navy frogmen with rags on their heads.

The US Navy also displayed shards of the mines that did explode, none bigger than your thumb, and tell us that they are identical to limpet mines that Iran displayed in a military parade. Yes, because if a bolt falls off of your car, I can compare it to a picture I took of your car three years ago and cry, “Aha…”

Not to mention that the phrase, “limpet mines displayed in a military parade,” had to be really difficult for that Navy officer to utter without laughing.

Meanwhile, amid all the outrage over the unproven Iranian attempts to sink two oil tankers, the media is not talking about three things than happened in the same area just a bit over a week earlier.

On June 5, a truck exploded in Iran’s largest container shipping port. The explosion set fire to several oil storage tanks and did heavy damage to the port.

On June 7, six Iranian merchant ships were set ablaze almost simultaneously in two Persian Gulf ports. Five ships “caught fire” in one port, with three of them being completely destroyed and the two others suffering major damage. At nearly the same time at least one cargo ship burst into flames and burned completely at another port nearby. The ship fires were attributed to “incendiary devices” of “unknown origin.”

So the score presently stands at our side, two ships damaged; Iran’s side, three ships lost, three ships damaged, and two shipping ports damaged.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Limited Attention Span

The implantation of a virus in the Russian power grid is another one of those stories that I’m inclined to take with a very large proverbial “grain of salt.” I read about it appearing in the New York Times with its “anonymous officials” attribution, and waited to see what backing it would receive, and as of now it is still just floating like a lone turd in the NYT punchbowl.

Consensus seems to be that we probably didn’t do it, that if we did do it such a virus in a national power grid would probably be pretty useless because power grids don’t work that way, and that we aren’t as smart in computer science as the Russians are so if we did do it they probably already found and removed it. I’m pretty much on board with all three scenarios.

The enormous damage we supposedly created in Iran’s nuclear program with the Stuxnet virus is another story worthy, I think, of serious doubt. The only evidence we have that any damage occurred is that we claim it did, since no one in Iran ever confirmed it. Iran has never complained about anyone messing around with their computer networks, and they are prone to complaining loudly and prolifically about that type of intrusions into their sovereignty.

Meanwhile, back to the Russian power grid virus, the only people complaining about the impropriety of committing this horrible deed were not the Russians, but the Democrats, and they were silenced very rapidly when it was pointed out that it happened during the Obama administration, whereupon the whole thing disappeared from the news cycle, which sort of speaks for itself.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

The Insider Trading Loophole

Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez objects to withdrawing a bill to increase her salary by $4500 per year because keeping salaries unchanged for Congress, “only increases the pressure on members to exploit loopholes like insider trading loopholes to make it on the backend.”

In addition to bad grammar, presumably she knows that insider trading is illegal. There is no “loophole” that permits it for members of Congress. It is illegal.

She goes on to say that voting against pay raises is “superficial.” (She probably means “symbolic,” but…) She claims that not increasing the salaries will “increase the pressure to exploit loopholes” to “enrich oneself from service.”

Because, of course, a member of Congress could not possibly be expected to exist on the paltry salary of $174,000 that presently is paid by our government, and would therefor have to resort to illegal means to obtain additional income in order to get by.

Friday, June 07, 2019

Proving Their Own Guilt

The US Navy is fulminating about an “unsafe approach” between two vessels perpetrated, they claim, by a Russian warship in the Philippine Sea. The Navy bolsters its claim with photographs and a couple of film clips.

There is one small problem with the claim. The photographs and film clips clearly show that the Russian ship is to starboard of the USS Chancellorsville, and therefor is the “privileged vessel” in a meeting or crossing situation. As the “burdened vessel,” it is incumbent upon the USS Chancellorsville to stay clear of the other ship, that is to take whatever action is necessary to avoid collision.

In one photograph the wake of the Russian ship illustrates very clearly that the Russians are turning away from the American ship to avoid collision even though the American ship, as the “burdened vessel,” should be the one maneuvering to stay clear.

There is an exception in those rules, that being that a ship engaged in aircraft operations is privileged regardless of relative positions, and NPR article states that the US ship “was busy recovering a helicopter.” The film clips and photos, however, do not show any evidence of said helicopter being recovered.

What they do show is photos taken from an airborne helicopter which is clearly in no position to be landing on the flight deck at the stern of the ship. The photos are taken from ahead of the ship and, judging from the graininess of the images, are from quite some distance away - half a mile or more.

All of that being so, and the film clips are not even slightly ambiguous, it is actually the US Navy ship that was the perpetrator of the “unsafe approach,” not the Russian ship.

But what really bothers me is that the Navy would make such a claim and then release imagery which so obviously reveals the claim to be false. They claim the Russian ship to have been the intruder, and then release films which show unequivocally that the Russian ship had the right of way. They claim immunity due to being engaged in recovering a helicopter, and then show pictures taken from a helicopter which is clearly not being recovered.

Either the Navy is unbelievably stupid, or they think the public is. Or, perhaps, they are willing to tell lies without caring whether those lies are believed or not.

Oxymoron of the Week

A headline reading, "The Best Veggie Burgers in San Diego."

I didn't read the article. Don't need to. No. Just, no. There is no such thing as "the best veggie burger," in San Diego or anywhere else. Not only, no, but oh hell no.

Tuesday, June 04, 2019

Fair Winds and Following Seas

The San Diego Union-Tribune ran a nice piece on the passing of Lowell North, the world’s leading sailmaker. North was, along with Dennis Conner, a charter member of the Sailing Hall of Fame and a native of San Diego. The piece is a good read and is informative of his outstanding career.

It does not mention his refusal to sell sails to Ted Turner for the America’s Cup in 1977, which is not intended to demean either man. I mention it as an amusing anecdote that illustrates the close (some would say closed) nature of the society that was the sailing community in those days. Admittedly, Ted Turner was not the most charming personality who had ever tried to penetrate that community.

Lowell North had retired from sailmaking and sold his business some years ago, but he will still be missed.

Friday, May 31, 2019

It's Party Time

Dimitri Orlov does a takedown of the European political parties, but most of what he says is fully applicable to the political parties in this country. Unfortunately, it is behind a paywall, but a few highlights…

First he reminds us of the difference between the kind of party where everyone drinks, dances, has a good time and then goes home, sometimes alone, sometimes not, and the kind where serious people gather for periods of four years or more to decide the fates of nations.

He says that “these two meanings are becoming conflated” and I’m inclined to agree with him. In fact, I would say that in this country the second kind of party has now become indistinguishable from the first.

He goes on to say of European political parties that there is “only one thing that unites all of them, and that’s opposition to rational thought”  which is certainly true of political parties, and of political discussion in general, in the US.

He goes on to discuss the various factions, saying, for instance that, “The Greens (Democrats) are in favor of solar panels and wind turbines. These are, of course, great. Solar panels are fantastic because they provide illumination when the sun is shining. Wind turbines are wonderful because although they don’t provide enough juice to run air conditioners they can power fans—but only on windy days.”

That might be a bit hyperbolic, but it does make something of a point. “A free college education for everyone,” for instance, is hardly the kind of solution that makes any sense, and that may be the least nutty proposal being made by either side in this campaign.

Taxes, of course, are off the table, because this is party time.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

"Not Innocent"

The Mueller press conference today discards utterly the principle of “innocent until proven guilty” and, in fact, turns that principle on it’s head, declaring that his commission was unable to prove the president innocent. His view of the role of the Justice Department appears to be that it assumes guilt and investigates to determine the possibility of innocence.

His report on television boils down to, “We were unable to prove the president innocent of these crimes and, while we found plenty of evidence of his guilt, we were prevented from declaring him guilty due to some unwritten law.”

He went on to suggest that Congress could do what he was somehow prevented from doing, which is use the evidence which he could not use and find the president guilty of some crime, which he did not name, which would permit his removal from office.

This is the reverse of James Comey, who declared that while Hillary Clinton committed several illegal acts with respect to her private server, she did not do so on purpose and therefor should not be charged with any crime.

And we keep claiming to be "a nation of laws."

Monday, May 27, 2019

Memorial Day

"They go to war, these young men, not to die for their country, but to place themselves, their precious lives, between their home and the forces which would destroy it."
                                                          Kenneth Roberts, in "A Rabble In Arms"

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

This Is Awesome

NBC News ran a piece last evening on Russian plans to “stoke unrest and even violence inside the US” even after they “meddled in the election” of 2016. They told us that these efforts have been ongoing as recently as last year, “according to documents reviewed by NBC News.”

They even showed us the documents, printed in Cyrillic characters and presumably in the Russian language, which no doubt were translated with perfect accuracy. (Yes, that may have been a little bit snide.)

According to these documents there were plans to recruit African Americans in the US, transport them to “camps in Africa” where they would be trained in combat and sabotage, and then returned to the US. Once back home these folks would “foment violence” and work to “establish a pan-African state in the South.” This plan, NBC claims, shows “the mindset around Russian efforts to sow discord” in this country.

I am not making this shit up; you can go and read it for yourself.

NBC was provided these documents by an organization called “the Dossier Center,” which is hilarious. It is not, apparently, the same outfit that provided the infamous “Trump dossier” which was created by Christopher Steele and paid for by the Clinton campaign, but anyone who still uses the word “dossier” has something wrong with them.

Of course, there are some who think that the Steele “dossier” was real, so there is that. Somebody’s elevator doesn’t quite go to the top floor.

The most astonishing part of the story is when NBC says that, “NBC News has not independently verified the materials, but forensic analysis by the Dossier Center appeared to substantiate the communications.” Somebody's elevator may not even go above the ground floor.

Note the appeared to substantiate. So NBC News cannot themselves speak to the authenticity of this stuff, and a firm which may or may not be legitimate can only suggest that it might be real, but NBC News is going to go ahead and report on it anyway because it’s dramatic as hell and it fits in with the current meme of Russia as an evil empire.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

The Rest Of The Story

The tariffs on Chinese goods are the big “Trump outrage” in the news today, along with the “trade war with China,” and talk about how American consumers are being forced to pay these tariffs.

What the media fails to mention is that tariffs are designed to reduce trade with country against whom they are levied, and to persuade Americans to buy goods made by American workers, in which case nobody pays the tariffs.

Are you upset that the price of a washing machine made in China increased due to this tariff? Then buy a washing machine made in the US, whose price is not affected by the tariff on Chinese goods. It's not rocket science.

I’m not all that big fan of Pat Buchanan, but he spells all this out very cogently in a recent column. He points out that tariffs protect American manufacturers and manufacturing jobs, and that the second law passed under our constitution was a law regarding tariffs.

"The Tariff Act of 1789 was enacted with the declared purpose, 'the encouragement and protection of manufactures.' It was the second act passed by the first Congress led by Speaker James Madison. It was crafted by Alexander Hamilton and signed by President Washington."

And now, as Paul Harvey used to say, you know the rest of the story. The side of the story that the media doesn’t want you to know, because it doesn’t paint Trump as evil.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Freedom of Speech

I see no problem with bias in the media. In fact, there should be bias in the media. The whole purpose of freedom of speech is to assure that there can be bias in the media. Bias in the media is the exercise of freedom of speech.

The problem with today’s media is the pretense that there is an unbiased media. If the media was, as it claims to be, unbiased, then freedom of speech would serve no useful purpose – would be a meaningless term.

When I was growing up, every town had two newspapers. Towns which were too small to support two publications had papers delivered from larger cities nearby. One paper was openly liberal, the other openly conservative, and virtually everyone read both of them. There existed, back then, a willingness to arrive at one’s own point of view after having been exposed to argument from both sides of an issue.

Today, while there are several networks on television, all of them speak in concert, and cities have but a single news publication of consequence. As a result, all of this media has to pretend to be unbiased, but none of it is, and the public is presented with a single viewpoint. Freedom of speech has become meaningless.

To the extent that freedom of speech is exercised today, we see it on “publications” with minor exposure, such as blogs and fringe publications. One such outlet claims to be among the very largest, with “more than 100,000” readers. The claim is dubious, but even if true it would be a minor portion of the 238 million voters in the nation. Even the cable news commentary sites cannot claim to attract as much as a tenth of 1% of the voting public.

And even so, today’s voters only view or read that which confirms their existing opinions, as can be seen by college students demanding that certain speakers be banned from their campuses. Most blog discussions will openly require than discussion adhere to rules that boil down to “dissent is not welcome here.”

Freedom of speech has not been banned by law. It has been rendered an empty shell by a population too intellectually lazy to even know what it is, much less keep it alive.

Monday, May 13, 2019

End Of The Journey

MollyAfter seventeen years of being a happy, lively beautiful cat and a loving friend, despite more than five years of serious medical issues and daily medication insults, which she accepted with grace and dignity, Molly suffered a stroke a few days ago. She stayed with us, weakened but in no apparent distress for several days, but last night began showing signs of breathing distress while curled up in my lap, and passed away peacefully at 8:45pm last evening. We will miss her every day.      (Click image for larger version.)

Thursday, May 09, 2019

Movie Review: "Dirty"

Why would anyone watch a movie with that title? Well, in my case because it starred Cuba Gooding Jr, who is one of my favorite actors. He could not, unfortunately, overcome a dismally inept script, an even worse director, and cinematographers who barely knew which direction to point their cameras.

The latter undoubtedly call themselves “cameramen” because they don’t know how to spell cinematographer, and “cameraman” is the politically correct term because no woman would ever so completely botch a task as these clowns did.

It was not one of those movies where the viewer cannot figure out what is going on. The script was completely transparent and hardly original or innovative, with Cuba Gooding Jr as a dirty cop in Los Angeles, but the parts which were not stupid were just disgusting. At least it was free on Amazon, but even at that it was overpriced. They should have paid me to watch it.

I did watch it all the way through, but only because I wanted to be sure that Gooding came to a bad end, which he did. A young girl had vowed to kill him, and had purchased a gun with which to do so. She was stalking him at the end, but chickened out at the last minute and tossed the gun, which was a bit disappointing.

It worked out okay, though, because a couple minutes later a gangster blew him away with a shotgun, which splattered him far more satisfyingly than the girl’s six shooter would have done.

What happened to the “good guy?” There were no good guys. The girl was, at best, in the “least bad” category. She spit in Gooding’s face, for instance, which I actually applauded. She did not, however, know that he was a dirty cop and just hated all cops, so don’t shed any tears for her.

My wife is out of town for the week. I really need for her to come home and rescue me from watching all these really bad movies on Amazon.