Friday, September 14, 2018

Mouse Killer

My optical mouse rather suddenly lost its vertical scrolling ability. Computer virus? Nope. I plucked enough cat hair out of it to indicate that my damned cat should be bald. Must be a “critical mass” thing, because it worked fine up until it rather suddenly went, “pfffht.”  Enough remained inside the mouse, unfortunately, that vertical scrolling remained erratic and annoying as hell.

Cats apparently grow fur as fast as they shed it, because Molly is far from being bald. A new mouse solved the problem, so she can begin killing this one now.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Protecting Chicago In California

Because of "rising gun violence nationwide," the Del Mar Fairgrounds decided to ban all gun shows after the end of this year. They obviously had a mountain of evidence that thugs from Chicago are coming to California to buy weapons and returning home to commit murder with them. Clearly, that is the only reason that anyone would buy a firearm in southern California.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Timing Is Everything

The claim by Serena Williams that tennis is rife with sexism would be a bit more credible if it did not come on the heels of her loss in a major championship match. It would also be more credible if the tiff with the referee somehow caused a man to win the trophy. The tirade which led to her claim being just the most recent in a long series of similar ones might also mitigate against her.

Notice, too, that the original initial claims of "sexual misconduct" against Lester Moonves were not sufficient to drive him out of his job as the head of CBS, especially since he claimed he was not guilty. Now more claims have been leveled, resulting in a headline that, "Les Moonves is out at CBS after harassment allegations."

Allegations. Not even criminal allegations, "harassment allegations." Once again, claims of innocence merely result in piling on and conviction without trial.

Sunday, September 09, 2018

Bumbleball

We should have had a lot of really high scoring games because none of the defensive players are able to tackle. We did not because none of the receivers are able to catch the ball and none of the running backs are able to hold on to it. What a farce. Sixty minute contests of ineptitude. And to think, these buffoons are paid up to $150 million per year.

Friday, September 07, 2018

Oh Shit, Oh Dear Me

My Humana drug plan (pharmaceuticals, actually; I don’t do drugs) sends me regular notices on where I am with respect to the “donut hole,” at which point something happens with respect to my payment for medications. Don’t ask me what, because my IQ is obviously too low to comprehend Medicare Part D.

The implication in the media is that while in the “donut hole” one has to pay the entire cost of medication, but that is not so according to Humana. For what follows, be aware that one hits the hole based on the total cost of medications for the year-to-date, not based on what one has paid. That’s why, presumably, Humana keeps me informed of what they paid as well as what I've paid.

So Humana tells me that they have paid $x and I have paid $y, and that those two numbers combined mean that I will hit the donut hole in about a month from now. Then, they tell me, I will have to pay “about 58% of the cost” of medications until I exit the donut hole, which obviously will not happen given that it took me until October to enter the furshluginner hole.

So I do a little basic calculating with $x and $y, and I find that paying 58% of the cost of medications may not be the disaster that one might think, since I have been paying 54% of the total cost all year before I hit the donut hole. I’m not sure what to think about that.

Thursday, September 06, 2018

Embarrassing

I need to take up watching soccer. Well, maybe not. Perhaps women's roller derby or professional frisbee golf. The NFL Players Association has destroyed the NFL. No contact in practice sessions, and the first string does not play during preseason, so at game time there are 22 idiots on the field who have no clue what to do or how to do it. Add new rules which require a defensive lineman to tackle a quarterback without landing on top of him. What little scoring occurs does so only because the defense went to sleep. Forty penalties in sixty minutes of play.

I had two players in last night's game on my Fantasy Football team, one from each team, and my projected score went down in the course of the game. LSU or Alabama could have trounced either one of the "professional" teams on Lincoln Financial Field last night.

Monday, September 03, 2018

College Football Weekend

Silly question of the week award goes to Holly Rowe of ESPN at halftime of the Miami/LSU game, asking the Miami coach, "You're 0-6 on third down, coach, what do you want to change about that?" Duh, think about that for a moment, Holly, and then answer it yourself.

Perennial question of the week is why do we have "aerial coverage provided by Goodyear" (blimp) for football games which are held in fully enclosed domed stadiums? (Stadia?)

Performance of the week goes to my Tigers of LSU, who convincingly defeated 8th ranked Miami, controlling every aspect of the game from start to finish. Preseason expectations were minimal for their running game, anticipating it to be "by committee," but a headliner may have emerged in the person of a replacement Cajun for Leonard Fournette, this one named Nick Brosette, with 22 carries for 125 yards and 2 touchdowns. This against a justifiably highly ranked Miami defense.

All 7 teams in the SEC West won this weekend, and 6 of 7 in the SEC East did as well, but only Auburn and LSU played quality opponents, and Auburn won ugly. The rest beat tomato cans, so it's too early to start crowing, but...

San Diego State, my other team, was just embarrassing. As much as I like Rocky Long, this was a massive coaching error. Bryce Love gashed SD State for 185 yards and 2 touchdowns last year, but SD State still won the game. This year Rocky played defense to stop Love, and did so, holding him to 29 yards for the game. In the process, though, he gave up 332 yards and 4 touchdowns to Stanford's passing game and not only lost the game, but did so in a blowout manner. The problem was clearly visible early in the third quarter, and Rocky got bullheaded and stayed with a losing game plan.

Oh, yes, slightly off topic but this weekend. NASCAR continues its "first one out of the pits on the last pit stop wins" performance at Darlington. Kyle Larson led 284 of the 367 laps, but Brad Keselowski beat him out of the pits after the final caution, led the final 24 laps, and won the race. It was the only time he led. Sigh.

Saturday, September 01, 2018

No on Free Speech

The California Democratic Party Chairman called for a boycott of In-n-Out Burger because they donated $25,000 to the Republican Party, which makes it official that the Democratic Party does not believe in free speech, at least not unless you agree with them. "We don't need no steenkin democracy."

Mr. Bauman failed to notice the part of In-n-Out's press release which said that they also donated $50,000 to a Democratic PAC known as "Californians for Jobs and a Strong Economy" in 2018, twice the Republican donation, and $30,00 to the same PAC in each of the years 2017 and 2016. So maybe Republicans should be the ones boycotting the chain?

Friday, August 31, 2018

Busy Week Upcoming

My survival of the upcoming week might be in question. It will be busy.

There will be no fewer than four "must watch" college football games. San Diego State at Stanford, Washington at Auburn, Michigan at Notre Dame and Miami at LSU. I may also record Louisville at Alabama and West Virginia at Tennessee for later viewing. I watched Northwestern at Purdue last night.

For things with wheels, there is the Southern 500 at Darlington, perhaps my favorite race track. Indycar races on the road course at Portland, and Formula 1 has the Belgian Grand Prix.

My Fantasy Football draft is Tuesday evening, and the NFL season opens with two of my favorite teams, Atlanta at Philadelphia on Thursday night.

My wife may sprain something rolling her eyes, and the cat is nervous that it's going to be a long football season.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Ready, Aim, Fire

It’s sort of like shooting yourself in the foot and then bragging about how you proved that the gun works as designed and punches holes in things.

Duncan Hunter has held his Republican congressional seat for five years, after his father held it for 28 years. The Democrats have a chance to take it away from him, given that he has been indicted for “campaign violations,” consisting of spending some $250K in campaign funds for personal purposes.

So they nominate a person named Ammar Campa-Najjar, who is of Mexican and Arab heritage. Not altogether surprisingly, some two months after he was indicted, Duncan Hunter is leading in the polls by eight points, and Democrats are complaining that CA-50 is populated by a bunch of racist pigs.

Well, yes, it is, but the Democrats knew that before they nominated this guy. So they made their point about how “socially inclusive” they are, and they made a die-hard “red district” in rural southern California look bad, but what did it really do for the Democrats in a practical sense? They will have one fewer vote in Congress, and have diminished their chances of passing their agenda.

Much, too, like the driver who knows he has the right of way, so decides to just hit the guy who is running the red light because that guy is in the wrong. “He was right, dead right as he sped along, but he’s just as dead as if he’d been wrong.”

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Over-Reaction

Conor Daly, usually an Indycar driver but taking a turn in the Xfinity series today, had his sponsorship by Lilly (a major pharmaceutical company) withdrawn due to a “racial slur” uttered by his father in 1991, some ten years before Conor was born. Tony Kanaan, a fellow Indycar driver, was the only one to comment, calling the action “ridiculous.”

Thomas Frieden, former director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, was arrested Friday in New York City on charges of “sexual abuse, forcible touching and harassment.” The only specifics I have been able to find is that he put his hand on a woman’s posterior, on the outside of her clothing, without her permission.

I certainly do not condone that behavior, but does it justify being arrested by the FBI, having your hands cuffed behind your back, and being perp walked out of your place of business in front of the media?

He has not denied the charge, probably because he knows a denial would only result in nine or ten more women piling on. When this movement started I was certainly sympathetic, and supportive, but it has gotten out of control. It is no longer about justice, it is vendetta.

Friday, August 24, 2018

Here We Go Again

For many years we have been being told that modest consumption of alcohol is actually good for you, improving heart health, and that everyone should drink a couple of glasses of wine daily. (Except alcoholics, of course, but they don't say that.) Now a "large new report" is screeching at us that actually "there is no safe level of alcohol" consumption.

Just as they did with coffee, back and forth. Why do we pay any attention to any of these studies?

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Modern Morality

In celebrating the conviction (by Michael Cohen's confession) and pending impeachment of President Trump for "campaign finance violation" we are turning the victim of blackmail into a criminal and not only giving the blackmailer a walk, but are booking her on national tours in furtherance of the display of her pornographic talents. This is today's form of democracy.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Identity Politics

In the past few weeks Democrats have celebrated the following victories in primary elections. They have nominated two Muslim women. They have put the first transgender woman on the ballot for mayor of a major city. They have put two female candidates for US Senate on the ballot in California, for the second such election in a row. They have put a 28-year-old bartender named Ocasio-Cortez on the ballot in a district which is 68% Puerto Rican, who professes to be a Democratic Socialist, unseating a three-term Democrat.

Do you see a trend here? They are celebrating not the policies which these candidates espouse, but their identities. They are not electing candidates who espouse policies which will benefit the nation as a whole. They elect candidates because they are identities which are championed by the Democratic Party: women, minority, LGBTQ, Muslim…

If you are male, you cannot win in a Democratic district. If you are white, you cannot win in a Democratic district. If you are straight, you cannot win in a Democratic district. If you identify as the same sex that is on your birth certificate, you cannot win in a Democratic district. If you are Catholic, do not even bother to run in a Democratic district.

Notice, in that last paragraph, I never mentioned policies.

Update: Saturday, 7:30am
"...but what," Bruce asks, "are they going to actually do?"

You miss the point entirely, my boy. They are not going to do anything.

Democratic politics is not about doing anything, it is about being.

It is about being special (gay, female, trans, etc.) and about not being Trump.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Democracy Speaks?

I read an article yesterday in which the impeachment of Donald Trump was mentioned and, for at least the third time in the past month, read that “Nancy Pelosi has taken that option off the table.” It continues to strike me as odd.

First, Democrats have to win control of the House of Representatives. They say that is going to happen in 2018, but they also said they were certain of winning the White House in 2016, and we all know how that turned out.

Then Nancy Pelosi has to be elected by her peers as Speaker of the House, and that appears to be by no means the slam dunk that she seems to think it is. Granted, the link is to Fox News, but there are others. The Democratic Party is increasingly being influenced by the Ocasio-Cortez crowd and they are, to say the least, not enamored of the likes of Nancy Pelosi.

Finally, even if Democrats do take the house and Pelosi does become Speaker, how is that her choice to make? Unless 434 other members of the House have a voice in making that decision, then one would have to say that the Democratic Party is about the least democratic organization in politics.

Thursday, August 09, 2018

Oh, Good Thinking

The endless slog to expand the San Diego convention center refuses to die. Despite grocery shoppers being accosted daily for two months no matter which store they patronized or at what hour they did their shopping ("Are you a San Diego voter?"), the effort to get the convention center expansion "initiative" on the ballot for the upcoming election failed to get enough signatures and did not make the ballot. Cry me a river.

At least not as a "public initiative," which would require just a 50% affirmative vote to pass. The City Government is considering putting it on the ballot as a government proposal, which would require a two-thirds affirmative vote for passage. Consider the wisdom of that. It could not get enough signatures to get on the ballot, but the city thinks it might get two thirds of voters to vote "yes."

Of course, we already knew that we are governed at all levels by idiots.

Wednesday, August 08, 2018

Two Things Which Baffle Me

First is the endless screeching about who hacked the DNC servers without ever paying the slightest attention to the indisputable fact revealed by that hack, which is that the Hillary Clinton faction clearly and blatantly rigged the Democratic primary election.

We are outraged and terrified in equal proportion by the Russians meddling in our elections, but both political parties are utterly indifferent to the Democrats doing so.

Second is to wonder at the present screeching about the Russians continuing to meddle in elections, and touting the heinous degree to which they are doing so already in the 2018 midterm election. What is to be gained by all of that fear mongering?

I can see Democrats trying to discredit an election after they lost it (well, not really, but there is at least some logic to it), but why discredit in advance an election which you claim that you expect to win?

What Makes This One Special?

The national news has featured daily updates on a missing girl for the past week or so. There does not seem to be anything special about the circumstances under which she disappeared; her boyfriend was in a different state on vacation at the time, she did not disappear from a party… She just went out on an errand and never came back.

From the day that the story first began airing I have been wondering what sets this case apart from what has to be thousands of other missing person cases and sure enough, one reporter today commented that she is one of more than 88,000 current open missing persons cases.

So what makes her worthy of daily updates on the national news, with no mention of any of the other 87,999 cases? Perhaps it has to do with the families of those other cases, who are not sufficiently wealthy to offer a $100,000 reward for information as to the whereabouts of their missing family members.

Sometimes the way this nation functions is a profound embarrassment to me.

Saturday, August 04, 2018

The Law Is An Ass

I don’t recall the source of the title. Probably Shakespeare.

Congress voted on this DACA law twice, and both times failed to pass it. Obama, as part of his highly unconstitutional “if Congress won't act then I will” policy, made it law by executive order. Democrats applauded wildly, while Republicans and others who can read the constitution, which included me, decried it as executive overreach.

Trump then created an executive order canceling Obama’s executive order, thereby bringing DACA to a halt. The principle behind his thinking was that all presidents are equal, and that what one president can do by executive order, another president can undo by executive order.

Apparently not. A judge this week ordered the DACA program reinstated, saying that the Trump administration had “failed to justify eliminating it.” Apparently, the fact that it was created by an executive order written for the specific purpose of thwarting the will of Congress did not constitute justification.

Not that I think DACA is a bad program, and I was thoroughly pissed off at Congress for failing to pass it, but I’m something of a fan of this nation’s constitution, and was horrified by Obama’s blatant contempt for that document with his “if Congress won’t act then I will” policy.

Friday, August 03, 2018

Worth Notice

Well, probably not, actually, but Johnny Manziel ("Johnny Football" of Texas A&M fame) made his first start at quarterback for the Montreal Alouettes in the Canadian Football League today, and left the game in the third quarter after throwing four interceptions, with the Alouettes down by a score of 41-3.

The Rest of the Story

Leslie Moonves is being charged with all sorts of sexual improprieties, none of them very recent, and demands are being made that he step down as head of CBS or that he be suspended by the network. As is today’s normal, he is presumed guilty, not only before conviction in a court of law, but before even being charged by any legal entity which could bring him into a courtroom.

What the media is not reporting is that Moonves is in a battle with Shari Redstone, controlling stockholder of CBS and of Viacom. She wants to merge the two giant media companies, while Moonves does not. Can there be much doubt that these accusations are a campaign by Redstone to discredit Moonves in order to achieve her corporate goals, and is it surprising that the media which is financially controlled by her is assisting her in that campaign?

This is the nature of the justice system in The United States today.

Thursday, August 02, 2018

Medicare Adventure

I received an email from Medicare informing me that my new card had been mailed and that if I had not yet received it I should call 1-800-MEDICARE.

The first problem is that the word "Medicare" contains eight letters, so the phone number they gave me contains one too many digits. On some phones that creates no problem because the phone simply quits accepting numbers after you enter eleven digits, but on mine you enter the number and push "Talk," at which point the phone rudely tells you the number is invalid. You then have to determine which digit Medicare intended for you to omit. It isn't rocket science to decide they intended for you to omit the last one, but...

Then you have to go through having a lengthy conversation with a recording, in which it tells you what you "may say." I hate those furshlugginer things. It didn't tell me I could say for it to perform a reproductive act on itself, so I refrained from doing so and finally got a human being.

It turned out my new card had, in fact, not been mailed and I decided not to ask why they had sent me an email saying that it had been mailed if it had actually not been. I was trying to stay focused on what I wanted to accomplish and was, in any case, quite sure that not only would he not have an answer but that the question itself would create a serious distraction.

Even without the distraction, things went nowhere but downhill. We live on a street named Caminito Pintoresco, which is Spanish for "picturesque little street." It actually fits the name fairly well, and it's a great place to live, but it would be better if it was on, maybe First Avenue or something, because nobody outside of San Diego can even pronounce our street name, let alone make any sense of the spelling. (Tucson AZ gets ridiculous with street names, by the way, coming up with things like Calle sin Vaca, which means "street without a cow.")

At the person’s request, I recited our address and he said that the address he had was on “Caminito Pintores,” with no “co” on the end and that perhaps that explained why the new card was not mailed.

I’m like, “What?” and he went on that if the address “does not match” then they will not mail the card. I asked him what the address had to match with, and the conversation deteriorated into gibberish, because he only had the one address and had no idea what it might need to match against, only that it needed to “match.”

He finally abandoned the idea of it matching anything and said that if the address was “wrong” they would not mail the card, but did not explain how they would know it was wrong, or what he meant by “wrong.” Nonexistant? No such street?

I addressed the fact that if the database field did not allow enough characters for the long address, then Caminito could be abbreviated Cmto to allow the name Pintoresco to be fully spelled out, but he assured me that was not the issue because they had many addresses which were much longer than mine.

He explained that the address they were using to mail my Medicare card was in the Social Security database and that I would have to contact Social Security in order to change it, and we left it at that.

There are, however, so many things wrong with that explanation that it’s hard to know where to start, the first being the question of why Medicare is using the Social Security database for the addresses to mail Medicare cards, when Medicare is not part of the Social Security Administration, it is part of Health and Human Services.

Next is that Social Security mails things to me all the time, using the address that SSA has for me on “Caminito Pintores” and stuff they mail to me reaches me just fine, so I have no idea why Medicare would think that is a “wrong” or unusable address.

Medicare has my address and mails statements to me on a regular basis, and the street name they use is “Caminito Pintoresco,” which might be beginning to shed some light on the “address match” issue. It may be that Medicare requires that the Social Security address match the Medicare address, although why they would do that is a bit baffling.

I went to the Social Security website and changed my address so that Medicare can send me a card, which is sort of like going to the Del Taco website to order a Big Mac, and saw that Social Security does indeed have my street name as “Caminito Pintores.” (Except that it’s in all caps which I’m not going to use here.)

So I attempted to add the “co” on the end and discovered that what they have is the maximum allowable in the field. The street address is limited to 22 characters, which is utterly ridiculous. Probably half the street addresses in the nation are longer than that.

It also proves that the rocket scientist I was talking to at Medicare was as clueless as I thought he was, and that they certainly do not have “lots of addresses longer than” mine.

I went ahead and changed the street on my Social Security address to “Cmto Pintoresco,” because it’s neater that way, but that would not seem to help in getting me a Medicare card because it still does not match the address that Medicare has for me.

I have absolutely no clue as to where to go from here.

Wednesday, August 01, 2018

Indirect Measurement

When I want to know how much I weigh I step on a scale, read the dial, and find that I weigh 235 pounds. Plus or minus a little from time to time, but I stay close to that. Same as I weighed in high school, by the way, although distributed a bit differently,

If the government wanted to know how much I weigh they would launch me in a rocket into orbit around the moon, then use my orbital speed around the moon and distance from the lunar surface to calculate my weight. They would then botch the process entirely by adding the phase of the moon into the calculation and come up with the answer that my “seasonally adjusted” weight is 428#.

It’s called “indirect measurement,” and it not only gets the wrong answer much of the time, it’s usually incredibly more expensive to perform than a direct measurement would be. Such as launching me into lunar orbit to determine, inaccurately, how much I weigh.

If the government wanted to know how many people are employed, they could go to the Social Security database and query, “how many unique numbers had transactions?” in a certain period, and they would have their answer in a few minutes. They would have to tap a couple other computers in similar fashion to get the count of government workers who are not subject to Social Security withholding, but the process could be made all-inclusive quite easily.

It is claimed that they cannot do that due to “privacy reasons,” but that is utter nonsense. The database query can be asked and answered without knowing anything whatever about any of the data other than how many numbers were involved; say, 84,650,133 records with different identification numbers had wages reported in the month of July.

So what the government does is have thousands of government employees make phone calls to tens of thousands of putative workers and ask them questions about their work and personal habits, questions which are presumably not invasions of privacy. They then do some fancy mathematical extrapolation with that sample of the population to extend it to the population as a whole and apply some mysterious “seasonal adjustments” to report the number of people who are working.

The government also has thousands of government employees making phone calls to tens of thousands of businesses ask them questions about their current hiring. They then do the same kind of fancy mathematical extrapolation with that sample to extend it to all businesses and apply similar mysterious “seasonal adjustments” to report the number of people who are employed.

The number of working people reported by the “Household Survey” often differs wildly from the number of employed persons reported by the “Business Survey,” but that doesn’t seem to make anyone disbelieve either number. They just use which ever number suits their purpose, and no one asks any questions about the validity of the methods by which we arrive at these numbers,

Similarly, if we want to know the value of the goods and services produced by the nation’s economy it would seem to be a pretty simple matter to turn to the federal government’s income tax database and add up the reported incomes of the entities which are producing goods and services.

But no, we measure, instead, how much consumers are spending on goods and services. Then we add how much the government is spending on goods and services. Then we subtract the portion of that spending which is items being bought from overseas, and we add the items being produced which are being sent overseas and which, therefor, aren’t reflected in internal spending. Finally, we add “investment,” which is a term so loosely defined as to be almost meaningless. Buying a US Treasury bond, for instance, is not “investment” in terms of contributing to the GDP.

So we measure the Gross Domestic Product not by measuring production, but by measuring consumption. And, in addition to getting a number which is probably wrong, we get a number which, in terms of measuring the economic health of our nation, is utterly meaningless.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

A Losing Narrative

Bernie Sanders, Ocasio-Cortez and the rise of younger generations who prefer socialism to capitalism, who actually regard capitalism as evil, betray a failure in this nation of the ability to think critically and an inability to see the fallacy in the promise of “free health care and free higher education for all.”

This nation enjoyed enormous prosperity in the 1950s, 60s and well into the 70s; a prosperity which embraced the middle and working classes as much if not more than any other. The economic system which was in place and which drove that prosperity was almost entirely capitalism.

Socialism as the primary engine of an economy has never provided significant prosperity for any part of any nation which embraced it. Not once in the entire history of structured economic systems.

What has destroyed the prosperity of today's working class is the perversion of the economic system by the destruction of the balance of power between business and labor which was provided by a system of collective bargaining. That destruction has been driven by the corruption of legislative bodies, members of which we keep reelecting at an 85% rate, and which we continue to look to for solution of the problem which they created to begin with. We blame business for asking them to create that destruction, but is the legislators who actually did it, and they did it for the most base reason. They did it for money.

We keep asking the governing bodies to pass laws strengthening labor unions. Why would the legislatures do that? They are the ones who passed the laws gutting them in the first place. You seriously think they are going to recreate the labor unions that they so carefully destroyed in the first place?

Don't let anyone fool you with the mantra that Medicare is socialism and that it presents some kind of solution. It is not and it does not. In socialism the government controls the means of production of goods and services, and Medicare does not fit that description. Medicare is delivered by private parties, capitalists, and only payment is controlled by government. And even that control of payment is an illusion, because the parties delivering the goods and services fix the prices through anti-competitive measures and through the same bribery of legislatures which drives all legislation.

Anyone who touts Medicare as an example of the benefits of socialism does not know what socialism is, and does not know of the hundreds of millions of dollars annually that are lost to fraud and overpayment through that health care system. Those losses are not decreasing, they are increasing.

The Veteran’s Administration is an example of socialism in medical care and, while for the most part it delivers quality care these days, it is does not have adequate resources to deliver that care to the population it is supposed to serve, veterans, and is having to farm out some of that population to the private health care system.

That is precisely why socialism has never delivered prosperity when serving as the foundation of the economic system of any significant population; it runs out of resources. Simply speaking, it over promises and under delivers, and it cannot do otherwise because there is not enough of anything for everyone to have as much of it as they want, and so the system collapses.

Does that mean that private enterprise is a better provider of goods and service than government in all instances? Of course it means nothing of the sort. Anyone with half a brain would gasp in horror at the thought of returning fire protection to the hands of private fire companies. It was clear in the late 1800’s that was not really a workable system, and no major city even thinks about being without public fire protection today.

But having a handful of public services provided by government and having socialism as the basis of our entire economic system are two vastly different things, and anyone who cannot see the difference is seriously lacking in critical thinking skills.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Media "Events"

If you would like to know what actually happened at the Helsinki press conference, rather than just what the media is screaming about, you can read the transcript here.

Unlike Trump’s response to the question about Russian meddling in the 2016 election, which was muddled and not particularly on point, Putin’s was clear, concise and very much on point, beginning with, “We should not rely on the momentary political interests of some internal political forces in our countries but on facts. Tell me at least one fact that proves collusion during the election campaign in the United States. This is total nonsense.”

No double talk or evasion there. He goes on to say, “We heard accusations against the company Concord. As I understand it, this company hired American lawyers, and the accusations against it just fell apart in a US court. Just follow what happens in US courts. This is what you should base your view on, not on rumors.”

Of course the media is not quoting Putin, because he says things that make sense. And, by the way, his statement about the accusations against Concord is completely factual. Yes, we should judge people based on what happens in a court, but we no longer do. If a man is accused of “sexual misconduct,” for instance, his life is ruined by the mere accusation. Trial in court and conviction is not necessary.

The media is outraged that Putin suggested that Mueller come to Russia to cooperate with Russian authorities in questioning the twelve persons named in the latest indictment. They don’t, of course, mention the part of that suggestion in which Putin says, “There is the Treaty between the United States and the Russian Federation on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters of 1999.”

Nor do they quote where he says,”…this has proven effective. We initiate up to 150 legal proceedings in Russia at the request of other countries.”

The media did not mention Putin’s comments that in return for that cooperation, and pursuant to that treaty, Russia might expect American assistance with investigation of an American hedge fund which, “…illegally made over $1.5 billion in Russia, did not pay taxes either in Russia or the United States, but transferred this money to the United States,” and, “contributed $400 thousand to Ms. Clinton’s election campaign.”

Obviously the media did not quote his statement about having “grounds to suspect that US intelligence officers supported these illegal transactions.”

The reporter then insisted that Trump be very specific in calling Putin a liar on the international stage right then and there which was, at best, disrespectful to both leaders. “Just now, President Putin denied having anything to do with the election interference in 2016. Every US intelligence agency has concluded that Russia did. My first question for you, sir, is who do you believe?”

Trump sort of waffled, drawing great howls of outrage from the media. Putin rather blatantly insulted the media, which of course is not quoting him. “Is the United States a democratic state? If so, then the final ruling in a dispute of this kind can only be made in court, not an intelligence service.” He made this same point earlier, and was ignored.

He then wonders why we are so worried about interference in our elections. “You have many people, including those with major billion-dollar fortunes, such as Mr Soros. He interferes everywhere he can.” Well, we’re certainly not going to pursue that issue.

Interestingly, Putin has the rather bizarre idea that we should treat Russia as a sovreign nation, and not as a domestic political football. "We can expand this cooperation, as I already mentioned, but only on a reciprocal basis. … Let's discuss these matters in substance rather than use Russia-US relations as a bargaining chip in the domestic political strife in the United States.”

The person who asked that question, of course, had no follow-up.

My favorite answer of the evening was to the “reporter” who asked if Putin had some damaging information on Trump which he could use to control him. “It is hard to imagine bigger nonsense," Putin replied. "Please get this rubbish out of your head.”

A Sense of Community

The Thai football team has kind of touched my heart since they have returned to public after being rescued from that cave. Their display of reverence for the retired Marine who lost his life in the rescue operation is remarkable. Every one of the boys have expressed gratitude for his sacrifice, a sense of the debt that they owe to him, and knowledge of the suffering that they have caused to his family. It does them and their culture much credit.

The coach said that he “will live my life very carefully” to assure that the man’s death was not in vain. Wow.

The whole group has talked about their sense of the difficulty that their plight caused for their families, their community, and for all who participated in rescuing them. It is profoundly moving to see a group of young people who have such a strong sense of being part of a greater whole.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Ineptitude Increases

Further displaying its position as the most inept “special investigation” in the history of this nation, Mueller & Company included in the charge that the twelve criminals they were charging are, “members of the GRU, a Russian Federation intelligence agency within the Main Intelligence Directorate of the Russian military."

That’s sort of like saying that the FBI is an investigation agency within the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

GRU are the initials of the Russian words for “Main Intelligence Directorate,” so the GRU is not within the Main Intelligence Directorate, the GRU is the Main Intelligence Directorate.

Further, in 2010 the name of the Russian agency in question was changed to Intelligence Directorate and has been known since then as the GU.

So Mueller & Company are saying that the meddling in our election was directed by Putin because the people who did it presently work for a Russian government agency that has not existed, at least not under the name that they use, for eight years.

And we are supposed to be taking these clowns seriously?

Friday, July 13, 2018

Mortification Continues

So, another 12 Russian individual citizens have been indicted by Mr. Mueller for “engaging in a ‘sustained effort’ to hack Democrats' emails and computer networks.” Because, apparently, our Justice Department believes that Russian citizens are subject to American laws. They do not make clear why they believe that to be the case.

The Deputy Attorney General informs us that, "There is no allegation that the conspiracy altered the vote count or changed any election result," so they are not only filing indictments under American laws against persons who are not subject to those laws, they are doing so because nothing happened.

And, of course, they make this announcement the eve of the President of this nation meeting with Vladimir Putin. If you think that is a coincidence, then I would like to talk to you about making a deal on a very nice bridge in Brooklyn.

I am, at this point, profoundly embarrassed to be a citizen of this nation.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Transmogrification

Molly
Molly was just hanging out, being cool and purring on my desk, when a bird landed in the tree just outside the window. She instantly was on her feet and at the window, belly low to the ground, head thrust forward, ears back and exhibiting all of the frenetic motion of a chunk of granite.

In less than one second she had gone from being this adorable little fuzzy toy to the prototype of a predator. Dogs can’t do that. Even at their most playful, dogs show evidence of what they are. Cats, however, look so cuddly and peaceful at rest, and yet they are in reality one of nature’s most efficiently designed predators, and they can go from one to the other in a heartbeat.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Here We Go Again

Another “initiative” is apparently headed to San Diego’s fall ballot, this one painting with a rather broad brush in planning to fund a convention center expansion, benefit the city’s homeless population, and fund repairs to our deteriorating streets by raising the hotel tax by 3.35%. Note that is a 35% increase of the existing 10.5% tax on hotel rooms.

Politicians are very proud of this one, coining the phrase, “Visitors pay, and San Diegans benefit.” Lovely. Perish the thought that San Diegans should actually pay for their own road repairs and civic infrastructure.

I have an idea. Let’s raise the hotel tax to 85% and eliminate local taxes altogether, so that visitors could pay for things like trash pickup.

Raising the hotel tax is not going to reduce tourism, because Anaheim has a 15% hotel tax. Right. Anaheim also has Disneyland. We are not by any means the only town with Pacific beaches. San Diego County alone has eight.

All kidding aside, this mania of “we want to have nice things and we want someone else to pay for them” is a national mantra which, to me, amounts to a very real sickness; a sense of entitlement to unearned wealth which is weakening us as a nation.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Overt Media Bias

The CBS affiliated local news ran a very strange piece last night about a woman and her daughter who incurred injuries while riding on a rented motorized scooter on a Mission Beach boardwalk. The piece painted the two as some sort of innocent victims of some horrible misfeasance because the company which rented them the scooter allowed them to “ride along the Mission Beach boardwalk last Friday” and caused them to have an accident in which “they collided with pedestrians.”

The pedestrians with whom the motorized scooter collided were not mentioned in the piece, other than as objects which got hit by the motorized scooter, and were not interviewed for the news item. News 8 did not consider them to be victims, and was not interested either in their fate or viewpoint of the incident.

The father/husband, who was not present, admitted that the two females “were sharing a scooter and not wearing a helmet,” both violations, but defended them by saying that, “They're not from here they don't know the history of this issue. They just did what everybody else is doing.”

I can’t tell you how many times my parents asked me when I was a kid that if everybody else was jumping off a ten story building would I do the same just because they were. When I was growing up children were not raised to become lemmings, but apparently today they are.

The victims, here, are the pedestrians who were hit by the idiots riding the scooter. The riders were not victims, as portrayed by News 8, they were idiots who were engaging in thoughtless and reckless behavior. The rental company was derelict in failing to provide proper safety notices, such as the need to wear helmets, but that was not really covered in the news piece.

News 8 is doing what the media considers to be it’s mission today, pushing a legislative agenda, in this case regulating these motorized scooters and/or banning them from boardwalks. The news item begins, in fact, by placing the event merely as prelude to the demand for legislation, stating that, “A man whose child and ex-wife were seriously injured in a scooter crash over the weekend on Monday called for a boardwalk ban.”

The man, ex-wife and daughter all live in Arizona, by the way, so News 8 wants to assist people from out of state to come here and tell us how to run our city.
I don’t think so.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Is NASCAR Dying?

I think probably it is. I don't know how many people were watching Sunday's race at Sonoma on television, but the lack of people in the stands was simply stunning. In years past when I have watched that race, the stands were filled and there were crowds of people watching on the hillsides. Yesterday there was not one person on any hillside and the stands were, perhaps, 10% filled. Can't blame the weather; it was 72 degrees and not a cloud in sight.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Good Thinking

Just a few years ago a gas line owned and operated by PG&E blew up, destroying several dozen homes and killing eight people. The pipeline was not particularly old and was of steel construction, but was found to be improperly manufactured and PG&E was found criminally responsible.

This year SDG&E applied to the California Public Utilities for permission to replace 400 miles of gas pipeline which is seventy years old and is of cast iron construction. The plan calls for the new pipeline to be 30" in diameter, greatly increasing the capacity of the 16" diameter original. The CPUC denied the application, saying that the new pipeline "is not necessary."

Question. Who will be held responsible if the 70-year-old cast iron pipeline fails and causes damage, injury or death? The title of this post is, in case you didn't pick up on it, snark.