Sunday, December 10, 2017

Democratic Thinking

Spoiler alert: the title is irony, perhaps sarcasm.

Democrats are leaping to claim that Al Franken should not have resigned because he has twenty women who claim that he did not sexually harass them and was, in fact, a perfect gentleman to them at all times.

So when a man is accused of robbing a bank, his defense should be to present a list of banks that have never been robbed. The judge will promptly bang his hammer on the bench and proclaim him innocent.

This actually parallels NFL gambler thinking, which now places the Los Angeles Chargers, with their 13th-best 6-6 record, as the third most likely team to win the Super Bowl, albeit with 15-1 odds. This despite the fact that they have not yet this season defeated a team which currently has a winning record.

Saturday, December 09, 2017

Jobs Data Nonsense

The jobs report from the Bureau of Lies and Scams tells us that the country added 228,000 new jobs in November, which has economists ecstatic about the “robust economy” and has them swooning about the economy being “on its firmist footing in at least a decade,” but is leaving them confused about why “salaries show meager growth,” given their theory that increasing employment should lead to increasing wages.

Maybe it’s because the jobs increase is not as “robust” as the “Employer Survey” would lead us to believe, since the “Household Survey” tells us that 43,000 fewer were employed in November than in the previous month.

The report does turn that 43,000 fewer people into 57,000 more people employed on a “seasonally adjusted” basis, but one has to wonder how those seasonal adjustments are helping some 100,000 people pay their bills. Do the mortgage and utility companies accept seasonal adjustments as payment?

The absurdity of the method used by the BLS to report on the jobs situation in the nation simply defies belief. They conduct telephone surveys which result in two conflicting reports which inform us that 43,000 fewer people are filling 228,000 additional jobs. They then attempt to reconcile that discrepancy with “seasonal adjustments” of 100,000 fictional workers that suggest that 57,000 new workers are filling those 228,000 new jobs.

Really? Neither the 100,000 seasonal adjustments, nor the 57,000 imaginary new workers that result from the 100,000 seasonal adjustments can fill 228,000 new jobs.

If you’re going to make up numbers, at least make up numbers that work.

What sense, regardless of the rationale for them, do seasonal adjustments make? We’re talking about living breathing people here, and about whether or not they are able to feed their families. If you are in the labor force, are you employed, unemployed, or are you a “seasonal adjustment” as reported by the Labor Department? Ridiculous.

There is a very easy, fast and highly accurate method of reporting on the jobs status. Employers file payroll tax reports within ten days of every pay period, and from that data we can gain the exact number of people employed and the exact amount they are paid. The BLS says they cannot use those records due to “privacy concerns” which is utter nonsense.

Those databases can provide information in any manner which is programmed into them, including summary numbers and totals, and the information needed to provide jobs data can be provided all but instantaneously with total respect to the privacy of all individuals. Ignoring them to obtain contradictory, tardy, costly and contradictory data in the current manner is utter stupidity.

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Worldwide Garrison as Homeland Defense

In an article datelined AFP, which presumably stands for the world’s third largest news agency Agence France-Presse, we are informed that the United States has announced that it is prepared to maintain a permanent military presence in Syria.

My immediate reaction is, “Well that’s no surprise. We maintain one everywhere else, why not Syria?” Which should not be interpreted to imply approval by me of anything.

Anyway, Pentagon spokesman Eric Pahon told that news agency that, “We are going to maintain our commitment on the ground as long as we need to -- to support our partners and prevent the return of terrorist groups.”

Hard to imagine who Eric thinks “our partners” are, since the Syrian government has said repeatedly that our military is not welcome in their country and has told us in no uncertain term to get the hell out. That would seem to mean that “our partners” are forces fighting against the Syrian government, and against the Russians, and makes our presence there a very dicey proposition both on legal grounds and logistically.

Some people would, of course, describe the “partners” we are supporting as terror groups themselves, and do actually, but not all nations define terror groups in the same manner. That itself has actually been a point of contention in Syria for quite some years, but it’s a separate topic and would fill a book all by itself.

I’m beginning to see a trend here. We are maintaining a “multigenerational” presence in Afghanistan in order to “deny them space in which to plan their attacks” (which is very nice grammatically at least), and now are maintaining an apparently permanent presence in Syria in order to “support our partners and prevent the return of terrorist groups.”

Aren’t we just fucking awesome?

Maybe not so much. The Roman Legions occupied Britain, France and Germany in order to keep the Visigoths from attacking Rome, and we all know how that turned out.

Tuesday, December 05, 2017

Go Chargers?

Local sports writers are absolutely swooning over the fact that the Chargers (never mind that they are no longer a local team) are now tied for the division lead, having won five of their last seven games. Let’s see how close that brings them to the Super Bowl.

Other than the AFC West, the worst division is the AFC South, which is led by two teams tied with 8-4 records. The Chargers are in a three-way tie atop the AFC West with the Chiefs and the Raiders, all with 6-6 records.

The Chargers, in this seven game streak, have played two teams who currently have winning records. They lost both games. To underscore the point, of the five games they won, all of them have been against teams which currently have losing records.

They scored 19 points this past weekend against a team with a 0-12 record, winning by a whopping nine point margin. The Chargers are just majorly kicking ass, aren’t they?

Monday, December 04, 2017

Signs of The Times

Yesterday evening I went to Rubio’s to order a take-out meal for the Sunday Night Football game. Well, full disclosure, my wife doesn’t watch football so we watched a program on the DVR while we ate and then I watched the football game and wound up wishing I hadn’t. But this is not about the football game.

Two customers came in ahead of me with the same purpose, ordering take-out, one of them carrying a rather large dog. The dog was of a size such that the guy was barely able to carry it, and he had no small amount of difficulty keeping hold of it while waiting for his order. No employee informed the man that state law does not permit dogs to be in food service establishments, including the manager who spent her entire time delivering orders to tables and ignoring her employees, few of whom were actually working.

Three of the employees, in fact, were petting the dog and chatting with the owner, fellow dog owners apparently. None of them washed their hands before returning to their food handling duties. The manager saw that, but did not appear to notice it.

I saw my order placed on the kitchen’s serving shelf, two bowls of salad and two small containers of dressing. A worker, not one who had been petting the dog, put lids on the salads and put them in a bag, turned and called my name and handed me the bag, correctly describing my order. I looked in the bag, for effect because I already knew precisely what was in it, and told her that I didn’t see any dressing. Only then did she turn and notice the dressing containers sitting right there where she had taken the salads from.

And they want to be paid $15 per hour because…?

Certainly not because they are highly trained and know the rules under which they are working, like what is and is not permitted in their place of work and that they are required to have clean hands when handling food. Not because they are so attentive that when taking an order off of a shelf and putting it in a bag they are careful to get all of that order. Because, apparently, someone told them that they have rights and did not tell them that with rights come responsibilities.

We're real big on rights these days. Not so much on responsibilities.

Friday, December 01, 2017

Of Course She Did

A San Diego woman has filed a lawsuit for damages resulting from her participation in a protest that “spilled out onto I-5” from the USD campus last winter. Named as defendants in the suit are the university, the city, the police department and the driver of the car that hit her when she went onto the interstate highway.

She claims that the police, and apparently the city and somehow the university as well, should have prevented her and the crowd of protestors from leaving the campus and going onto the freeway. Not sure about her rationale regarding the driver of the car. Perhaps the driver should have levitated the car over the crowd.

The protestors were, of course, protesting the presidential inauguration, arguing that it should not have taken place because elections only matter when the right side wins.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Yes, The Name is Apt

Given fifteen years of military progress in Afghanistan and recent conduct of the US Navy's Seventh Fleet, yes, I believe the Dallas Cowboys can appropriately be called "America's Team."

Meanwhile, local sports writers are swooning over the Chargers having won "five of their last seven games" and now being in contention to reach the playoffs. Right; with a current record of five wins and six losses. It should be noted that all five wins have been against teams with losing records; such notables as the Giants, currently 2-9, and the Broncos, who are currently 3-7. They have played two teams with winning records in that seven-game stretch, and have lost to both of them.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Specious Argument

Dean Baker used yesterday the kind of specious argument that is beginning to make me think that economists should simply be shot dead immediately upon graduation from economist’s school, claiming that the proposed increase in the standard deduction would decrease the value of the mortgage interest deduction.

His headline is about the elimination of state and local taxes as deductions, but that only serves as a lead to the taxpayer’s use of the standard deduction, which the tax plan would double in size. He immediately points out that, “The piece notes that doubling the standard deduction will reduce the number of people who itemize and therefore benefit from the mortgage interest deduction,” and thus has changed the subject away from the headline in the first paragraph.

Note the disingenuous argument here, when he refers to people who, “itemize and therefore benefit from the mortgage interest deduction.” If using the standard deduction results in a lower tax burden, how does it cause one to “lose the benefit” from the mortgage interest deduction? They are paying a lower tax.

The sleazy and dishonest part of his argument is what he means when he says that the new tax plan will “decrease the value,” specifically when the standard deduction is not large enough to overcome the advantage of itemizing and using the mortgage interest deduction, in which case he points out that difference between itemized and standard deduction would be smaller, thus making the itemized deduction “of less value.”

So when one thing costs more than another, if you raise the price of the cheaper one you devalue the higher-priced one.

Only an economist could argue that doubling the standard deduction is a bad thing. Just shoot them all and put us out of our misery.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Mutual Poop Fling

Economists crack me up. They also annoy the shit out of me, sometimes doing both things at the same time. Dean Baker has yet another case in point where he makes a hilariously ridiculous statement in “correcting” an error that Robert Samuelson made in a print editorial.

He doesn’t link to Samuelson’s editorial, but from Dean’s rebuttals it seems that Samuelson claimed that our current trade deficit is being caused by the dollar’s status as “the global major currency,” inadequate government enforcement of patents and copyrights overseas, and the failure of the Trans Pacific Partnership agreement to come to fruition.

I have no problem in agreeing with Dean Baker that Robert Samuelson is full of shit. My problem is that I don’t agree with his reason for thinking so, which is that “The reason the U.S. is running such large trade deficits was the decision by many developing countries to accumulate huge amounts of reserves…”

He does not make any mention whatever of consumers buying Korean televisions and Japanese automobiles, or the decision by American manufacturers to export the production of both industrial and consumer goods to foreign countries. No indeed, this nation had nothing whatever to do with creating the terrible trade deficit that is trashing our economy. It was entirely inflicted upon us by others, making us innocent victims of predatory foreign countries.

Economists should be sealed in a hogshead immediately upon graduation from college, stored in a deep isolated cavern and fed through the bunghole until they die of old age.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Security As Oxymoron

My wife and I switched health insurance this month, due to her phased retirement which will be finalized at the end of the year. United Health Care invited me to create a personal account at the website for the new plan, which I did Wednesday.

I had, of course, to create a username and password. The latter took me several tries due to a long list of rules for security reasons. It had to have a capital letter, a small letter, a number, and one of several special characters. It could not have any of several other special characters. No letter or number could be repeated more than once, and it could not contain any actual words.

All of this to protect entry into a site that does not allow any data entry, merely allows the viewing of data. They are seriously concerned with protecting my medical payments from being viewed by unauthorized eyes.

The next day I get an email from them thanking me for signing up at their website. It went on to say, “Please write down your username and password for future reference. You will need it to sign in the next time you visit our website.”

The emphasis is mine, because I am pointing out that they are asking me to render all of the complex security rules they have for creating the password entirely useless, since a password that is written down anywhere is completely insecure. (Not to mention the grammatical error of using “it” to refer to the two things they told me to write down.)

The point should be made that due to their security rules the password must be written down because no one could possibly remember it.

One website required me to remember the name of the street I lived on when I was in first grade. I am 74 years old and grew up in the military. I don’t remember the name of the street I lived on before we bought this house twenty years ago, let alone something from almost seven decades ago. I made something up to satisfy their webform, and then immediately forgot what it was that I invented.

When I needed to answer that “security question” I tried “First Street,” which seemed like a logical answer, but apparently I was not that logical the day I filled out the stupid form.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Fine Lines

Best quote about the Chargers game from a San Diego resident. “That was like watching your ex throw up on the dance floor at a party and knowing that’s no longer your problem.”

Monday, November 13, 2017

Um, You Already Said That

The Denver Broncos promise to "evaluate all areas" after being humiliated 41-16 by the New England Patriots and bringing their record to 3-6, tied with the Los Angeles Chargers for last in the division.

Um, they said that last week after losing to the Philadelphia Eagles 51-23.

Last night was special, in that they muffed a punt on their own 15, gave up a 103-yard kickoff return, and suffered a blocked punt, all in the first 18 minutes of the game. They also scored field goals to answer New England touchdowns, apparently not realizing that scoring three points every time your opponent scores seven is not a winning strategy.

Perhaps they should evaluate their mascot; trading a stallion for a jackass.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Even More Fubar

I read the published account (pdf) of the investigation into the collisions of the USS Fitzgerald and USS John S McCain today, and it leads me to conclude that the US Navy is even more fubar than I revealed in my discussion of last Tuesday. There are at least two statements in that report which indicate that the investigating officers were no more qualified for naval service than were the officers and crew they were investigating.

The report states, for instance that the ship was running in “darkened condition,” part of which was that, “all interior lighting was switched to red instead of white to facilitate crew rest.”

If that was the reason for red interior lighting, why would the red lighting include operational areas of the ship, such as the bridge and Combat Information Center? In fact, that is not the reason to “rig for red.” The red lighting is to promote night vision so that if any of the crew is required to go topside their vision is optimized for being able to function at night.

The report describes the situation with three ships approaching Fitzgerald from starboard, and correctly says that Fitzgerald was required by the International Rules of the Nautical Road to take action to “remain clear of the other three and if possible to avoid crossing ahead.”

Well and good so far, but then the report says that, “In the event Fitzgerald did not exercise this obligation, the other vessels were obligated to take early and appropriate action through their own independent maneuvering action.”

“Early?” The privileged vessel is, in fact, required to maintain its course and speed until it is apparent that the burdened vessel is not maneuvering to avoid, at which point, and only at that point, the privileged vessel should take action to avoid. That is hardly “early and appropriate” action which, in fact, the rules of the road specifically prohibit.

These are fairly minor points, and the report reasonably attributes fault, and I suspect does so for the most part fairly accurately. But the lack of basic knowledge of shipboard routine, such as not knowing the reason for red lighting, casts a certain aura of doubt on the expertise of the investigating body.

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Fubar

To this day, fifty years after I left the service, I continue to regard my time in the Navy as the best and most useful years of my life. I would not trade that experience for everything else that I have done before or since, and I have held the US Navy in the highest possible regard for all the years since I had the honor and privilege to serve.

What I have read the past few years of its ships and its men today almost brings me to tears. The ships of today’s Navy are barely seaworthy, are certainly not battle worthy, and social engineering has so degraded the manning of the Navy that high quality ships would be wasted in any case.

I read that the Captain of a ship is in a bar on shore during liberty drinking with the enlisted crew of his ship. How can good order and discipline be maintained under such circumstances, and how can a Captain’s subordinates possibly maintain a proper respect for a “drinking buddy?”

The crew of another ship forgets to replace the lubricating oil in the ship’s main propulsion reducing gear box, rendering the ship inoperative and requiring shipyard repair. In addition to the appalling carelessness of the crew, what kind of ship is rendered useless by the loss of one set of propulsion gears?

When the bridge crew of an Arleigh Burke class destroyer causes a collision with a civilian ship ten times its size and one engine room is flooded, the ship is disabled and has to be towed to port. What kind of warship becomes a stationary target due to the loss of a single engine room?

The initial cause of that collision turns out to be that a watchstander is seen to be “struggling to cope with handling both helm and engine orders.” I have stood that watch, and anyone incapable of dealing with helm and engine orders after a couple of days of training does not belong in the Navy in any capacity. He probably does not belong outside of his parents’ care.

The Arleigh Burke class did, at least, mark a return to all-steel construction. From Wikipedia, “An earlier generation had combined a steel hull with an innovative superstructure made of lighter aluminum to reduce top weight, but the lighter metal proved vulnerable to cracking. Aluminum is also less fire-resistant than steel; a 1975 fire aboard USS Belknap gutted her aluminum superstructure. Battle damage to Royal Navy ships exacerbated by their aluminum superstructures during the 1982 Falklands War supported the decision to use steel.”

That policy didn’t last. What does the Navy decide to do in building its new Littoral Combat Ships? Use all-aluminum construction, including the hull. How stupid can we be?

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

Facebook & Twitter?

Watching a bunch of Senators so serious in their grilling of a panel of "social media" executives leaves me in despair. If our voters are making their presidential election decisions based on Facebook and Twitter, then this nation has problems far, far bigger than anything that Russia can do to us.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

And So It Begins

The timing and content of Mueller’s indictment of Paul Manafort and his business partner Rick Gates are interesting.

Particularly interesting is the timing, in that the release comes on the heels of two weeks of media coverage of the Hillary Clinton campaign being the instigator of the infamous “Trump dossier,” confirmation that the Trump Jr. meeting with the Russians was a sting perpetrated by Fusion GPS, the company hired by the DNC and Clinton campaign to produce the Trump dossier, and of discussion about Uranium One’s contributions to the Clinton Foundation while Clinton was Secretary of State.

Even while still sealed, news of the indictments was released on Friday afternoon so that the media could bloviate all weekend and on the Sunday morning shows about who it might be and what the indictments might contain. It’s called “the politics of distraction.”

The content of the indictments are interesting only to the degree of how uninteresting they are. None of them have anything to do with Russia during the election or with the Trump presidential campaign. They have to do with Manafort’s and Gates’ work as lobbyists for the former government of Ukraine, the government which the US government helped to overthrow.

Democrats, and other anti-Trump forces, are rubbing their hands with glee, praising Mueller as if he is a combination of the Messiah and Steven Hawking, and forecasting the immediate downfall of Donald Trump. They are as giddy and as self assured as they were when projecting the electoral victory of Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

National Cat Day

from spaceShe is, of course, not actually a cat. She is a princess. And sometimes a little bit of a brat.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

The Dike Is Broken

I am writing less often lately, mainly because national discourse has become so utterly divorced from reality that each time I start to write I get a sense of the Dutch boy with his finger in the dike. The trickle has become a flood and it is time to run for your life.

Harvey Weinstein’s devil is revealed, and now every public person of the male gender is being accused of sexual attack by every female person who has ever been within arm’s reach of him. Our elections are supposedly meaningless due to the ability of foreign powers to corrupt them, and yet we are supposed to believe that an election of Democrats next year would be entirely valid and would save the world. Articles purporting to be scientific discourse are filled with “might be” causes and “could happen” events.

When the news was first released that four of our soldiers had been killed by ISIS in the African nation of Niger, my first reaction after sympathy for the soldiers and their families was to assume that they were not killed by ISIS. My next thought was not to wonder why they were in Niger, we have military units everywhere, but to wonder why their deaths were being reported when similar deaths under similar conditions in the Philippines was not.

Last night Margaret Brennan reported on the battle in Niger on CBS News, saying that the unit was attacked by, “an ISIS offshoot operating in the area.” She described the group of “35 to 40 fighters” and its leader and, just twelve seconds after describing it as “an ISIS offshoot” said that the leader “is wanted by US and French authorities, but US intelligence has not established any direct link between him and the ISIS militants that the US is already fighting on the battlegrounds in Iraq and in Syria.”

We won't even go into the US "fighting on the battlegrounds in Iraq and in Syria," which we vehemently claim we are not doing, but how credible is a news organization which, within the span of just a few seconds, says that “an ISIS offshoot” has “no direct ties with ISIS militants?”

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Feline Follies

So, I'm watching a football game and eating potato chips from the bag.

My calico cat, Molly, jumps up on my lap and immediately becomes hyperfocused on potato chips. Her eyes are the size of dinner plates and they follow each chip from the bag to my mouth. She periodically leans in and peers into the bag. Her breathing is rapid and her whiskers twitching. The anxiety steadily increases.

The left paw comes up and she tries to intercept a chip in transit, getting a sharp, "Ut, no" from me.

She tries the imploring look, and a little soft "meow," but I am heartlessly unmoved. Merely laugh.

She goes back to watching each chip in transit, like Pablo Casals watching a tennis match. Pablo Casals? Damifino. First name that came to mind.

Anyway. Anxiety is building and control is slipping. She kind of leans forward with each chip that makes the passage.

Finally she makes her move - darts forward and tries to bite a chip just as I am putting it into my mouth. She gave me too much warning, though, and I win. She settles back, giving me a look that reminds me that even house cats with three colors (well, technically two colors and white) are predators.

I break off a little piece of chip and lay it down for her to have, and she snarfs it down. She looks at me, licking her chops, clearly says, "We could have saved a lot of time and anxiety," and leaves.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Minds and Tracks

Notice that we are halfway through the month of October, and I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of pink accoutrements I have seen on the NFL football fields this month, because everyone is too busy screaming at each other about kneeling for the national anthem. Jesus. Can we walk and chew gum at the same time? Evidently not.

The light at the end of the tunnel is some idiot with a flashlight halfway down where the tunnel bends. When we turn that corner we will be disappointed to discover that it is night time.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Not Forward Thinking

Democrats were thrilled to have laws created by executive order when it was a Democrat doing it. They are less thrilled when a Republican does it.

It was suggested by a few, back then, that what was created by executive order could be reversed by executive order, but it never occurred to them that they might lose a presidential election, even after mocking and excoriating Republicans for proclaiming a “Republican century” two decades earlier.

And Democrats are, for the second time after a presidential election loss, casting doubt on the validity of the electoral process itself. Does it not occur to them that, if and when they win the White House back, Republicans might proclaim that, “Democrats were right, the electoral process is not valid, and this Democrat president is not a valid President.”

So far, Republicans have never cast doubt on the electoral process after a loss. Democrats have done it twice now, and if they do it often enough Republicans might decide to emulate them.

A Democratic discussion group was outraged that Harvey Weinstein was not prosecuted long ago, until it was pointed out to them that he was raising millions of dollars for the Democratic Party and that his position as a major part of their money machine protected him as long as the Democratic Party controlled the Washington power structure. Would he have been brought to justice if Hillary Clinton had won? The discussion stopped when that question was asked.

There may be a group that does less forward thinking than liberals, but I have not come across it.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Anaheim Fire This Morning

from space
This weather satellite image was at 7:00am local time, and it means the wind is still offshore and still pretty strong. Not good news. No fires in San Diego; that is just remains of morning marine layer.

Update, 6:00pm: Good news; smoke from the Anaheim fire has completely disappeared from the satellite image.

Monday, October 09, 2017

Mind Boggling

Dianne Feinstein is running for reelection. Consensus is that it means there will no meaningful primary election for the US Senate in California, and Nancy Pelosi says that is good news for the Democratic Party and for America. If reelected, Feinstein will complete her next term at age 91.

I’m not sure which is more mind boggling; Feinstein running for reelection, or Pelosi claiming that her doing so is good for America.

Google said that putatively Russian-connected sources bought $53,000 worth of ads “in an effort to influence the 2016 election.” That amounts to 8 ten thousandths of one percent of the $6.8 billion that was spent on campaign advertising.

Something like putting one teaspoon of baking soda into Lake Michigan and claiming that doing so changed the chemistry of the lake.

It’s also pretty weird to think that anyone would believe that Russia is so stupid that they would think that $53,000 worth of Facebook ads would alter the results of the election.

Saturday, October 07, 2017

Unintelligible Intelligence

The “Labor Report” is absolute gibberish this month. It is often misleading, although I don’t believe that is deliberate. I think it is just a high level of incompetence on the part of the Labor Department and the media. But this month it reached a nadir.

First it tells us that the economy lost 330,000 jobs in September, but falls all over itself assuring us that the figure reveals “strength in the economy” because it was due to hurricanes. I doubt that people who were in the areas hit by the hurricanes are buying that, but we aren't at the best part yet.

It goes on to say that the unemployment rate, “derived from a separate Labor Department survey of households,” declined to 4.2% in September.

How does the unemployment rate decrease when the number of employed showed a rather large decrease? Not a bad question. Why are media reports of the number of employed and the unemployment rate coming from two separate reports? That is a very good question.

The Household Survey, which includes the 4.2% unemployment rate, shows that the number of people employed increased by 906,000 in September. Why did the media choose not to report that? And why does one report show a decrease of 330,000 while the other shows an increase of 906,000 for the month? That's a difference of 1.26 million people.

This would normally be where I would provide the answers to these questions, but I don’t have any. I’m wondering why I seem to be the only one asking the questions.

Friday, October 06, 2017

I Don't Think So, But...

This morning Molly was walking down the hallway, licking her chops and minding her own business. She's gotten a little hard of hearing in her old age, so she didn't notice me coming out of the bedroom in front of her until, seeing her, I said aloud, "Hello, there's a cat."

I swear, she looked over her shoulder to see if there was a cat behind her.

Thursday, October 05, 2017

Interesting Stat

The Denver Broncos, in their 34-year history, have had more trips to the Super Bowl than they have had losing seasons.

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Heartbreaking

running for your life
When I was growing up, guys wore blue jeans and cowboy boots every day. We wore cleaner and newer jeans with more fancy boots to dances on Saturday nights. Girls, on the other hand, only wore their skirts and boots on Saturday nights when it was time to go out and listen to country music, flirt with boys, do some dancing and drink Coca Cola. The skirts were longer then, of course, but… Those were good times.

These poor girls went out for a night of country music and fun and wound up running for their lives. It’s enough to break an old man’s heart.

It should never have happened. We must decide, as a people, that beyond the need to comfort and offer healing to those who were harmed, it means nothing. We must not allow fear to take control our lives. If we do that then evil, what ever its form or purpose, has won the day. If we must live in fear, then what’s the point?

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?