Wednesday, November 30, 2016

That Didn't Take Long

The Democrats just reelected Nancy Pelosi as House Minority Leader, proving after less than one month that they learned nothing whatever from an election in which they lost the White House and both houses of Congress. Stupidity and arrogance reign supreme.

Dilettantes

In the show Madam Secretary the other night a father is speaking with his son about the son’s political position. He asks about the outcomes and implications, questions for which the kid has no answers and then tells his son that, “Your political knowledge is a mile wide and in inch deep, and that makes you a dilettante. Until you study enough to know what you are talking about you need to keep silent.”

I thought of that phrase when watching on the news of the “march of a $15 minimum wage” last night. A bunch of dilettantes, blocking traffic for one midweek evening. Where is any real commitment?

If you don’t want to work for $9 per hour then don’t work for $9 per hour. Walk off of the job and stay off until they offer a better wage. Do you think they are impressed or intimidated by you blocking traffic on Tuesday evening and then on Wednesday you are right back there still working for $9 per hour? They’re not. While you were out there on the street freezing your ass off, they were at home ignoring you.

Oh, I get it, you weren’t targeting employers, you were targeting politicians because you want them to pass a law. You don’t want to exercise your own power and take care of yourself, you want someone else to do it for you while you take no risks and endure no hardship.

Well, as a former union member I’m certainly not impressed by that. I froze my ass off on a picket line for weeks at a time. I stood up to law officers with guns and riot clubs. I did not ask for someone else to do it for me, my brothers and I exercised our own power, and we earned what we got.

We were grownups. We knew that once we left the shelter of Mommy’s apron there was going to be no one there to keep us from falling down and skinning our knees. We knew that people were going to talk to us in ways that we didn’t like; that Mommy was the last “safe space” that we would ever know and that she wasn’t hovering over us any more.

We knew that if we wanted anything better than what we had, that we had to earn it with hard work, retries after disappointment, sweat, tears and sometimes blood, and we did what needed to be done. We didn’t go block traffic on one midweek evening and demand that someone else pass a law giving it to us.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Phootball Phun

Some fun football this weekend. Local sports writers are swooning over the "renewed playoff chances" of the Chargers, now at 5-6. With Tampa Bay, Oakland, Carolina and Kansas City yet to play a 10-6 record seems unlikely in the extreme, but hope springs eternal in the hearts of fools. Even a predicting a wild card spot is pretty silly, given that Denver is currently at 6-3 and unlikely to secure a wild card.

The Chargers won Sunday in no small part because Houston was so incredibly stupid as to pay $72 million for a quarterback who could not hit a bull in the ass with a bass fiddle. Osweiler playing for Houston is more evidence of John Elway's brilliance.

The Raiders are incredibly fun to watch. I'm not sure they are quite as good as their 9-2 record, but they are more fun than anyone. They have a lot of energy and a great deal of talent. Opponents are doubling up on Amari Cooper, which is letting Michael Crabtree have a lot of fun. They get Richardson tuned up running the ball, and... How do you solve that? I think they are the real deal.

The Chiefs/Broncos game was a lot of fun even though Al Michaels was replaced by Mike Tirico, who is an idiot. He used to be one of the babblers on ESPN, so what can you expect? Everyone who works for that abysmal network either is desperate to work somewhere else or is brain dead. Tirico is apparently both of the above, since he is now with NBC. He kept referring to this game as a "classic defensive struggle," even after 54 points had been scored.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Cognitive Dissonance

Donald Trump was harshly castigated for suggesting that he might not accept the result of the election. Now it is Clinton supporters, and Clinton herself, who are demanding recounts and investigations into Russian tampering, and trying to persuade the electoral collegiate to vote contrary to its mandate.

Same old, same old; it's okay when I do it, but not okay when you do it.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Thanksgiving Wishes

New thing to be thankful for this year, we have discovered putting eggnog in our morning coffee. Well, blush, I did and the wife signed on. I normally drink my coffee black, but this is a nice change of pace.

Wishing a peaceful holiday. Hope all are in good health and thriving.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

And The Losers Cry "Foul"

The losing side wants to spoil the party,
“No one goes. No athletes. No championship teams. No performers. No musicians. No celebrities. ALL invitations are rejected. No White House Correspondents Dinners. No Inauguration Balls. No State dinners. No singing Christmas carols with the Trump kids. Nothing. Full boycott. No exceptions. Donald Trump does not get to enjoy the perks of this job. Period."

Five-year-olds stamping their feet and declaiming, “If you won’t play my way I’m going to pick up my toys and go home.”

“For the rest of us: we don’t support anyone or any company that enabled Trump. Like those NBA teams, we boycott all Trump businesses. We turn off CNN. We don’t buy Ivanka’s bracelets.”

The NBA teams in question were boycotting apartheid. Liberals denounced the idea that all Muslims are bad because a few Muslims did bad things, but they embrace the idea that supporters of Trump are a monolithic block, all of whom supported him for his misogyny and because he wants to deport Muslims.

They do not accept that anyone might support him in spite of those rather than because of them, just as they supported Clinton despite her Wall Street speeches and her evasions of the email server issue. For the record, I supported neither candidate; for policy reasons, not because of the childish ad hominem attacks each was throwing at the other.

And, as losers tend to do, Liberals are crying “foul,”
“In a democratic government, all votes should be equal, thus the first step towards making an undemocratic government is to divide the people, so that the vast majority of them do not really have an effective vote. The majority of people in the United States are like this – so much so, that it is part of the primer on presidential elections.”

(Etcetera, most of it gibberish.) The losing side always claims the election was fraudulent and/or that the system doesn’t work. The Republicans made such claims in 2008 and 2012, and Democrats are making it now as they did in 2000. The loser walks away from the poker table accusing the winner of cheating. It was always thus.

Liberals, actually, are not tolerant of ideas that differ from their own, and we are learning this year that they are extraordinarily ungracious losers.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Small Things

Yesterday I was channel surfing and happened across the end of a high school girls volleyball game. The screen said “Championship point,” so I paused to see what would happen. It went back to a tie, went back and forth several times, and finally there was a winning team.

The winning team was all excited, of course; jumped into a pile and then hugged each other and high-fived. The camera moved to the losing team. Surprise. No tears, they were all smiling and congratulating each other on a game well played. They may not have won the championship, but they looked like winners to me.

Little thing. Means nothing, really. But things like that make me feel good.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Phantasy Phootball

I am now better than the Chargers! I realize that's a low bar, but I'll take what I can get. After a three game winning streak, I'm back to .500 and am in a four-way tie for seventh place in a twelve-team league.

It doesn't take much to excite me these days.

Monday, November 14, 2016

They're Called Elections

As these protests continue, as calls are made for the electoral college to refuse their mandate and elect Clinton, I just don’t get it. These people are not claiming that the election was fraudulent. They are not claiming any kind of 2000 deal, where the court prevented votes from being counted. They simply want the election overturned because they lost. What do they think an election is?

Sure, they didn’t want Trump to win. Neither did I, and I didn’t vote for him. A lot of these protestors, apparently, were sitting in their “safe spaces,” reading the polls and planning the coronation, but this was an election, not a coronation.

Maybe, instead of simply calling their opponents “stupid, evil” and “ignorant,” they should have emerged from their little “safe spaces” and tried to use reason to bring their opponents over to their point of view. How many people will you persuade to vote with you by calling them “deplorable?” Calling names feels good, but it doesn’t grow your ranks.

No one ever told me why I should vote for Hillary Clinton, other than that she was less evil than Trump, or that I would make history by “breaking the glass ceiling.” Mostly I was simply called vile names for saying that I did not intend to do so.

They brought this on themselves by their insularity, and their unwillingness to engage in meaningful discussion, and now they are just flailing to avoid blaming themselves for it.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Hot

Thursday, November 10th, 12:00 noon, Temperature 96 degrees in Mission Valley. Yes, November. Today was a cold wave; only 90 degrees at noon.

The Popular Vote

Clinton supporters are making much of the fact that "she won the popular vote." Let's put that into proportion.

In the nation as a whole she received 395,595 more votes than her opponent, out of 120.5 million cast, which amounts to a 0.3% margin. Significantly less than half of one percent.

She received a winning margin of 2,568,841 in California, a state in which a dead Democrat was once elected as mayor.

In the nation as a whole, then, excluding California, she lost the popular vote by 2,173,246 votes of 111.9 million cast, for a 1.9% margin.

I am unimpressed with the "she won the popular vote" argument.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Protesting Democracy?

Thousands are marching in protest against the election of Donald Trump? What, did they not think this was not a real election? They like democracy, but only when their point of view prevails? That's not democracy. Totalitarian nations run elections where only one name is on the ballot; democracies don't do that.

A numbers of colleges are allowing students to skip classes and are cancelling or rescheduling exams to allow students to recover from the "emotional trauma" of the election. I guess retiring to their "safe spaces" didn't get the job done. I have seen these students referred to as "emotional hemophiliacs," which seems fairly apt. They, too, are able to be okay only when their side wins. They've been getting "participation trophies" all their lives and are finding out that real life isn't that easy. They can't handle it, and it's only going to get worse for them.

Both sides had horrible candidates, and they knew it. They Republican Party tried to repudiate their horrible candidate. The Democratic Party embraced their horrible candidate. Both parties deserved to lose, but only one did.

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

On Democracy

President Obama said it very well. “We are all on the same side. This was an intramural scrimmage. In the end, we are all on the same team.”

Democracy is hard. It is not for the faint hearted. People who live in authoritarian states have their decisions made for them. In democracy we have to make our own decisions, and then we have to live with them. It’s not for the candy assed, but it’s what makes a nation great.

This nation has made some good decisions and it has made some bad ones. Only time will tell which kind this one is. The nation has not only survived all of its decisions, it has thrived almost continuously throughout all of them. I have no doubt that will continue.

Irony

The Democratic establishment rigged the primary election to assure Hillary Clinton as their nominee, to deny that nomination to Bernie Sanders, and they got this.

And in a final touch fully illustrating who she is, she sent John Podesta, her campaign manager, to her party site to tell her faithful to go home; to tell them the lie that it was not over, and that votes were still being counted. Ten minutes later she called Donald Trump and conceded the election, and left without speaking to her faithful supporters who had waited for her for upward of twelve hours. No formal concession speech (update: until a pretty good one the next day), no public thank you to her people.

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Stadium Proposal

When a woman goes through life getting a sugar daddy to pay her expenses for her we call her a gold digger. When a man does similarly, letting a woman pay his way, we call him a gigolo. In either case we say that the person in question is morally bankrupt.

When a city, however, wants to have a football stadium and finds a way to make someone else, visitors in the case of Measure C, pay the cost of it we applaud the brilliance of that thinking and say, “Oh good for you.”

A city that wants to have that which it is unwilling to pay for is a society which is as morally bankrupt as any gold digger or gigolo.

Unfortunately, this measure is symptomatic of the nature of today’s society in general. We want what we want but, unwilling to pay what it costs to have it, we insist on having it anyway. Make someone else pay for it, or just add it to the nation's inexhaustible "credit card."

Saturday, November 05, 2016

Election? What Election?

For the zillionth time, we have a headline reading, “US air strike kills top Al Qaeda leader in Afghanistan,” or Iraq, or Yemen, or Somalia, or Syria, or... The article refers to it as a “precision air strike,” but since the bombs that are dropped with such precision destroy several city blocks, I doubt that people living anywhere near the targets would agree with that description.

I’m trying to decide whether our leadership is continuing to follow this policy simply because they cannot think of anything else to do, or because they think it is working. Either one is pretty frightening, implying as it does that we are led by people who are either stupid or insane, perhaps both. Given, however, that they are also accusing the Russians of tampering with our elections one has to lean toward “both.”

When Obama took office we were doing these air strikes, some of them by drone, in two countries. Now we are conducting these strikes, killing the “terrorist leadership,” in no fewer than eight countries.

How can any reasonable, sane person claim that spreading the devastation of death and destruction fourfold is a success decreasing the impact of terrorism in the world? And yet both of this year’s candidates promise us, in the brief pauses from calling each other whoremonger and crook, that they will not only continue this policy, they will redouble it.

Russia isn’t screwing up our election, we’re doing that all by ourselves.

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

Health Care Costs

Opponents of Obamacare are outraged because people on the exchanges are going to see premium increases of 25% this year. I would respond by saying that people on the exchanges should consider themselves fortunate.

Our employer-provided health insurance premium is increasing 35% this year. With the addition of copay and deductible increases, our overall increase in health care costs will be about 42% in the coming year, assuming that the amount of health care that we require remains constant.

And before you blame the employer, the percentage paid by the employer this year is the same as it was last year. These increases are from the insurance company.

Fantasy Football

With a win this weekend, I am no longer tied for the league's worst record; I am tied for the league's second worst record and with the San Diego Chargers at 3-5. There is only one team in my league which has earned fewer points than I have, and only one team that has more points scored against them. I am beginning to think that I really suck at fantasy football.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Dean Baker is an Idiot Squared

I have frequently seen concerns about rising interest rates brushed aside with a casual argument that we “can always buy back debt at a discount” if that happens. Each time I have asked the speaker what that means I have either received a dumb look or been told that if they have to explain it to me that I will not understand the explanation.

Well, Dean Baker explained it three years ago. I suspected that it was going to be frustrating and entertaining when I saw the words “Financial Engineering” in the title, because those words never bode well. It exceeded my expectations.

“An overlooked possibility for reducing a high debt burden,” he says, “is simply buying back bonds at a discount when interest rates rise, as is widely predicted.”

“Long-term bonds that are issued at low interest rates,” he continues, “will sell at substantial discounts to their face value if market interest rates rise. Looking at publicly held marketable debt issued as of the end of February 2013, the face value of the debt is $3,857 billion. The projected market value of this debt is $3,399 billion for an implied debt reduction of $458 billion, or just under 2.3 percent of the GDP projected for 2017.”

He concludes, “The interest burden on the Treasury will not change through these transactions. The only effect will be to lower the official value of outstanding debt. However if people in policy positions continue to attach importance to this number then this sort of debt exchange should rank high on the list of policy options. There is no less costly way to eliminate close to half a trillion dollars in debt.”

The term “buying back debt at a discount” sounded to me like a self-licking ice cream cone (as in, “With what funds are you going to buy that debt?”), but it turns out to be a self-licking ice cream cone with no cone and very little ice cream.

A quick lesson on what a bond is. It is a “note” of money borrowed and has a nominal face value. It has a market value which may be higher or lower than the face value, depending on how badly someone wants to buy or sell it. It pays interest, usually quarterly, at a fixed interest rate which was determined at the time it was created.

So, let’s start with the basic principle of “buying back bonds at a discount when interest rates rise.” Since the government does not have a lot of cash laying around, the money to buy those bonds is going to come from Wait for it From selling more bonds. So how does selling high-interest bonds in order to buy and retire low-interest bonds improve your financial position?

Well, it might, if you bought the low-interest bonds cheaply enough to offset the higher interest that you will pay on the new, higher-interest bonds that you sold in order to buy them. You would have to buy them really, really cheaply, and the 12% discount that Baker cites later on is nowhere nearly enough to do that.

And if you tried to buy them cheaply enough to offset the difference in interest you would not have much luck, because that would be a bad deal for the holder of the bonds and he would just keep them until you offered him a better price. People who buy and hold bonds are not as stupid as economists are.

The net result though, in any case, is that you might have a lower debt burden, but you will be paying a higher interest rate on it. You probably, almost certainly, will not come out ahead of the game any more than the inventor of a perpetual motion machine will succeed.

He says that the “as of the end of February 2013, the face value of the debt is $3,857 billion,” but he’s more than a little off, there. According to the government, as of 9/30/2012, the debt was $16,066 billion, so he’s off by $12,209 billion, plus whatever growth the debt experienced in Oct 2012 through Feb 2013. Okay, I’m nitpicking, but this is not a minor inaccuracy.

“The projected market value of this debt,” he says, ”is $3,399 billion for an implied debt reduction of $458 billion And my projected blood pressure for 2017 is about 350/220 if I keep reading what people pull out of their asses and label as “projections.”

or," he continues, “just under 2.3 percent of the GDP projected for 2017,” as if that percentage would mean anything even if it was a real number and not just one that he pulled out of his ass.

He then says that, “The interest burden on the Treasury will not change through these transactions,” proving that he is not even living on this planet. The whole reason for this exercise in “financial engineering” is that interest rates have risen, and we just sold $3.4 trillion in new bonds at a higher quarterly interest payment in order to do it. How can that possibly make “no change on the interest burden?”

He finishes with a smug statement that, “There is no less costly way to eliminate close to half a trillion dollars in debt,” as if reducing the debt by 2.5% was some kind of major achievement.

Polling Has Spoken

We are slightly less than two weeks away from election day, and Donald Trump has lost the election. There is no longer any suspense, the polls and the media have confirmed that Clinton is our next president and there is no point in the rest of us wasting our time voting. Sick.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

They Still Have The Browns

Sports media is making much about Cleveland shedding the "loser image," first with the Cavaliers and now with the Indians. They assume, I guess, that the baseball team will win the World Series, but the Cubbies might throw a monkey wrench into that assumption. And Cleveland will always have the Browns, an NFL team which currently has an 0-7 record.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Paul Krugman is an Idiot

Paul Krugman has a column yesterday in which he once more assures us that we should not worry about the debt. Eat, drink and be happy because big debt is good and bigger debt is even better.

To bolster this he shows a nice chart about the ratios of debt of GDP as calculated back in ancient history when economists were stupid and ignorant and now, six years later, when the wisdom of Solomon has descended upon them from God knows where.

There are several things wrong with his chart. The first is that the ratio of debt to GDP is an utterly meaningless figure that economists began using instead of the ratio of debt to federal revenue when the latter, which does have some meaning, became so high as to freak out the public. The current ratio of debt to federal revenue is 585% which would send the average taxpayer into heart failure, while the ratio of debt to GDP is 105%.

It also doesn’t occur to him to question why the projection has changed or to wonder if it might change again. Is he certain that we will not have another recession between now and 2046, or that Congress might mess around with federal revenues?

Nor does he seem to question the validity of his own chart, but perhaps he should. The current debt is $19.3 trillion, while the GDP is $18.4 trillion, giving me the 105% that I cited earlier. But if you look at his chart, it shows the ratio at somewhere near 75% from 2013 until at least 2022. If they can’t get the current numbers right, I don’t have a lot of confidence in their future projections.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Let's Not Party

There is a proposal on next month’s ballot to build a “convadium,” which isn’t even a thing, for the Chargers to play football in and comic book fans to hold conventions in. Hopefully, these events will not happen at the same time, but that points out one of many weaknesses of having a convention center that doubles as a football stadium.

Fifty thousand cars converging on downtown San Diego at one time on a single freeway is another.

The paper today had a breakdown of a poll regarding voting on this issue, and one thing struck me as possibly noteworthy. Of Republicans, 38% intend to vote against this idiocy, while among Democrats 37% intend to do so; not a big difference. The big difference is that among Independents, 53% intend to vote against alienating tourists in order to build a half-assed convention center for a half-assed football team.

Unlike both Democrats and Republicans, Independents seem to think that maybe a football team doesn’t need a convention center, which suggests to me that political parties make you stupid.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Short Takes

A drunken driver driving at high speed breaks through the railing on the Coronado Bridge and kills four people in the park below. A clamor is immediately raised to make the bridge more safe.

People. That bridge did not kill anyone. Some jackass got drunk and decided to drive like a maniac. We are killing each other and demanding that the government prevent us from the consequences of our own actions. How about directing your anger at drunk drivers that kill 38,000 people every year, one third of all traffic deaths, rather than at one bridge?

The latest ad against Proposition 61, requiring drug companies to sell to Medical at the same rates that they sell to the Veterans Administration, is a real doozy. They claim it only applies to 12% of the population (people receiving Medical) and "only helps a few people, like state workers and prisoners," because only DMV employees and prisoners get their prescription medication from Medical.

Actually, the measure doesn't benefit the recipients of Medical ("state workers and prisoners"), because they are not paying for those drugs. Medical is paying for those drugs and the money comes from taxpayers, so Prop 61 actually benefits everyone who is a taxpayer in California, and that's closer to 100% than it is 12%.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Lies, Damned Lies & Statistics

The New York Times informed us yesterday the the federal deficit in the current fiscal year ending last month rose to $587 billion. You can go to a nice government website which shows colorful charts illustrating this deficit and confirming the story told to us by the Times.

I’m always a little suspicious when I see something this elaborately stage managed, not to mention that I saw the word “budget” in that report, so let’s dig a little deeper.

It took a while, and this government website is nowhere as pretty, but the Treasury Department does publish a monthly statement of the total debt outstanding owed by the federal government. Guess what, it doesn’t verify the $587 billion deficit. It doesn’t contain the word “budget” either. The amounts are in trillions.
lego mania
So it would appear that the deficit was closer to $1.5 trillion than it was to the $.5 thillion that the Times is telling us about. Where did the other $835 billion go?

Is it the difference between the budget and actual spending? Perhaps so, but to some degree it is the result of a distortion caused by lumping Social Security revenue into the general revenue stream. That money is paid into a trust fund, not into the government’s coffers, and the government borrows from the trust fund, borrowing which is largely concealed in the reporting by the ploy of including non-government funds into government revenue reporting.

This is just one of many ways in which our government lies to us.

Friday, October 14, 2016

The Idiocy of Economics

Dean Baker produced a response today to a column in Bloomberg News in which he says it is “almost impossible to exaggerate how absurd” the premise of the column is. He then proceeds to illustrate that the columnist cannot hold a candle to an economist when it comes to being absurd.

First, he says that “it only takes the debt side of the ledger,” which is something that “no business would ever engage in.” This after spending years pointing out repeatedly that the government is not a business in that governments do not repay debt, but we’ll let that one slide.

Then he points out that “Microsoft has much more debt than the restaurant down my street,” and suggests that Bloomberg should be “highlighting Microsoft's massive debt.” All of that is, of course, irrelevant to the column’s argument about the increasing size of government debt. In any case, if you look up Microsoft’s balance sheet, it has a rather small debt, 32% of its assets and only 75% of its annual revenue.

He than explains that Bloomberg’s business reporters would “report on Microsoft's debt in relation to its assets and its debt service in relation to its revenue or profits,” and that if they reported on the government debt in this fashion, “it would be pretty obvious and totally non-scary that our per capita debt rises through time.” Actually, that’s precisely what the column said and was, in fact, the whole point of the column. Baker may consider that “totally non-scary,” but not everybody agrees with him.

Besides which, it’s not clear to me how reporting the government debt “in relation to its assets and its debt service in relation to its revenue or profits” would make it in any way obvious that government debt is increasing over time, or especially why it would make that fact “totally non-scary.” For one thing, how does one determine the assets of the federal government?

The big lie, though, is the part where he advocates reporting of government “debt service in relation to its revenue or profits,” and then says that if they did so then “it would be reported on the ratio of debt service to GDP,” which he cites as being 0.8% currently. That is an utterly false picture, because the Gross Domestic Product is an order of magnitude larger than federal revenue. The government does not have access to the money represented by the GDP, it only has access to the money that is paid into its coffers by taxes and other sources.

Federal revenue this past year is $3.3 trillion, but of that $1.1 trillion is social services taxes which are paid directly into a trust fund for Social Security and medical care. The general fund revenue is $2.2 trillion, then, of which $432.7 billion was paid to service the debt, i.e. interest charges, which amounts to 19.7% of revenue. That is not the trivial amount that Dean Baker wants us to believe it is.

There is a very large difference between the reality of “19.7% of federal revenue” which Dean Baker says Bloomberg should be reporting and the meaningless “0.8% of GDP” which he cites instead.

He then declaims the “absurdity that in the Bloomberg Halloween debt story our children would be better off if we eliminated public schools and funding for their education altogether,” which apparently came entirely from his feverish imagination, because it certainly is not contained in the Bloomberg column. He then claims they say that it “would be even better off if we stopped spending to maintain and improve infrastructure,” despite the fact that the column doesn’t say that and apparently unaware that we’ve already stopped such spending decades ago.

He finishes up with a tirade on patents, which is a pet peeve of his, but is pretty much irrelevant to government debt. Sort of like writing about a football game and complaining about a baseball rule. He considers patents as a government plot to permit corporate graft and overpricing and thinks patents and copyrights should be outlawed. Authors and inventors may disagree.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Consensus Prediction

I have been reading, and watching, the local sports media too much, resulting in a brainwashed prediction of a Chargers win tonight by a score of 24-0. The reason that the Broncos will be scoreless is that every time their quarterback attempts to throw a pass Joey Bosa will sack him. San Diego will miss eighteen field goals, be successful on one, and Rivers will throw three touchdown passes.

Reward

lego maniaReturning home after running some errands, I walked into the room where Molly was hanging out. I had not begun petting her, had not yet even spoken to her, and she was already purring audibly. Merely at the sight of me. That's why one houses a cat.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Limited Reading

I ditched places like Salon and Democratic Underground a couple of months ago. Now I'm having to abandon even Facebook in order to avoid being inundated with the personal shortcomings of Donald Trump. It's not that I support the guy, I don't, but I'm not a chimpanzee and I don't participate in feces flinging contests.

Delusion Abounds

Just to illustrate how delusional the San Diego sports writers are, Nick Canepa is claiming today that head coach Mike McCoy should not be fired, at least not until the end of the season. As evidence of this theory he cites another sunken ship, "McCoy is the captain. When the Exxon Valdez crashed into Bligh Reef, people didn’t blame the reef."

No, Nick, they blamed the captain, and they didn't wait until he crashed into a dozen more reefs before they fired him.

Update: No, Canepa does not have a valid point regarding injuries. The Chargers lost their best receiver to a season-ending injury. So they are going to lose a whole bunch of games because the team doesn't have any other receivers? Those other guys are no-talent window dressing that were added just as a formality to fill out the roster? They didn't expect them to, you know, actually catch any passes? I guess we only had one linebacker as well, right?

Monday, October 10, 2016

Well, It Was Creative

We did all the traditional things, yes -- fumbles and interceptions, two of each. The sixteen-yard punt from our own ten yard line was pretty creative, but we did that before in game one.

Lining up for a game-tying field goal at the opponent’s twenty and having the holder fumble the snap from center – well, you have to admit that adds a nice note of novelty.

Raiders 34, Chargers 31. Chargers season: 1-4

One has to think we saw 20,000 or so votes in favor of the new stadium disappear yesterday, which should kill the subject permanently because the deal made with the NFL was that if we did not build a new stadium the Chargers had just one year to move in with the Rams in Los Angeles.

This past week, however, Hizzonor the mayor made some deals with the Chargers which allowed him to support the measure to build the stadium. They are not being incorporated in the measure, are only “verbal assurances,” but Hizzonor says they can be worked into whatever stadium deal is proposed next year.

He doesn’t seem to recognize that he is a) acknowledging that he knows this “convadium” deal is going to fail notwithstanding his support of it and b) admitting that he knows that the Chargers and the NFL were lying when they said the Chargers would move to Los Angeles in 2017 if we didn’t build them a stadium this year.

Politics as usual. Here, Sacramento and Washington.

Update, Monday, 4:30pm: A poll taken this afternoon has support for the "convadium" at 36%. That's down from 41% last week.

Friday, October 07, 2016

More on Proposition 64

A couple of excellent points were raised in comments on my discussion regarding Proposition 64.

Based on the title of the book she referenced, I think that Barbara was suggesting that the “War on Drugs” is worse than drugs themselves, and I have little doubt that such is the case. I suspect that the “War on Drugs” has caused infinitely more suffering and death than has drug abuse, and certainly we are doing this wrong.

I don’t have the answer, and I suspect that solution lies much closer to the legalization end of the spectrum than it does to where we are now. I think my argument yesterday was more that we need to know how to assess “responsible use” more than than it was taking a position in opposition to legalizing it.

And I'm talking about the users themselves, actually, as well as the law. It's by no means uncommon for people impaired by alcohol to insist that they are not impaired, and that phenomenon is much more pervasive in users of marijuana. We need a way to measure that impairment in order to help establish a subjective standard for users of the substance to measure themselves against.

Bruce also raises the problem of “citizen measures,” and many official ones, which are poorly worded, sometimes deliberately so. It’s not unusual to have measures so deceptively worded that a liberal position requires a “no” vote while appearing to require an affirmative one. The whole “citizen’s initiative” process in California is badly broken.

Thursday, October 06, 2016

Proposition 64

Proposition 64 would legalize marijuana for recreational use for persons over 21 years of age in California. Our Attorney General warns against the crime wave that revolves around the weed, but the idiot fails to recognize that said crime wave is the result of the weed’s illegality. A very similar crime wave revolved around alcohol during prohibition.

Reality is that legalizing marijuana is likely to reduce crime, not increase it, and the Attorney General is not as stupid as her argument would seem to indicate. She is merely as dishonest as most of the advocates on both sides of pretty much all of the measures on this year's ballot.

That being said, I do see a couple of problems with legalization, one being that after the state of Washington legalized marijuana they experienced a large increase in fatal highway crashes involving drivers who had been using marijuana, in fact the number of such crashes doubled. A direct cause and effect is hard to prove because of the second problem, which is that we have no way to detect when a person’s use of marijuana has become an impairment.

Alcohol use is generally defined as an impairment when the content in the blood reaches .08%, but even that, while close enough for legal action, is really only an approximation. Under some circumstances and for some people a blood alcohol content significantly lower than .08% can impair performance to a dangerous degree. We have nothing of a similar nature to determine safe levels of marijuana use.

Until we know more clearly what degree of impairment is caused by marijuana, when it is caused, and how to measure the effect of that impairment I think it is unwise to release it for general and unrestricted use.

Wednesday, October 05, 2016

Coaching Change

It has been suggested that the Chargers should fire head coach Mike McCoy and hire Les Miles, and I think the idea has merit.

LSU, despite it's recent woes, has had a much better winning record than the Chargers over the years, even this season, and it faces considerably tougher competition, relatively speaking.

Even if we didn't win more games, Les Miles would be a hell of a lot more entertaining on the sidelines and in the media than McCoy. If nothing else, the media could discuss his habit of eating grass.

Okay, perhaps "habit" is a bit hyperbolic, but even having done it once is a lot more interesting than anything Mike McCoy has ever done.

Tuesday, October 04, 2016

Double Standard

Various accusations have been made regarding Clinton and donations to the Clinton Foundation, in response to which Clinton dares anyone to show any instance where “I did any specific favors for those donors.” Typical Clinton triangulated denial in which she may actually be admitting to have taken bribes, but claiming that she didn’t fulfill her part of the bargain.

The media, of course, blows off any suggestion that donations to the Clinton Foundation while she was Secretary of State could possibly have been improper in any manner; says that anyone making such suggestions are irresponsible louts and are probably unpatriotic to boot.

But then the media pounces on a story about Trump’s use of his charitable foundation, including a headline that he “Used Foundation Funds for 2016 Run, Filings Suggest.” Given the last two words, the beginning of the headline should have read “May Have Used,” not “Used.”

The story revolves around Trump meeting with various conservative groups early in his campaign, many of whom asked for contributions, and he gave them money from his foundation in a perfectly legal manner.

The person reporting the issue to the media points out that “Trump did not explicitly ask for favors in return for the money,” but the article continues with vague accusations of illegality about what may have been wandering around in Trump’s mind when he wrote the check.

Does that sound familiar? Sure it does. See Hillary’s challenge to name anyone for whom she “did specific favors.” No one speculates about what may or may not have been wandering around in her mind when she received the money.

Meanwhile, the New York Attorney General is investigating the Trump Foundation and has shut it down for the moment. The investigation involves filing errors, and no on will be surprised to learn that the AG is a Democrat.

There are two parallel sets of standards for media reporting and legal investigation. There is Comey’s “no intent” standard for investigating those who are in power, and there is Schneiderman’s “file charges and shut it down now” standard for those who seek to gain power.

Sunday, October 02, 2016

Well, That Was Epic

Not only did the Chargers lose to an 0-3 team, they lost after leading by 13 points with 8:39 left in the game. In their last three possessions they fumbled twice and threw an interception and, on the two New Orleans possessions that counted, could not prevent touchdowns and lost by one point. Awesome. Beyond awesome. I truly believe there is only one team in the league that could do that.

Saturday, October 01, 2016

Proposition Nonsense Again

Backers of the proposition to build the "Convadium" in downtown San Diego... For those who don't know, that is the combination of a convention center and a football stadium, and the idea is every bit as ridiculous as you think it is. Chargers ownership knew they could not pass a measure paying for a stadium, but that the expansion of the convention center to accommodate ComicCon is a popular cause, so they jumped on board that one. The organizers of ComicCon want no part of it but aren't saying what they will do if it is built.

Anyway, the Convadium backers are saying that raising the hotel tax to 16.5% will not hurt tourism because two other California cities already have taxes that high and draw lots of visitors. Yes. Well, Anaheim has Disneyland, and San Francisco has, um, San Francisco. San Diego has nice beaches, but so do about eight other cities just to the north and south of us. And, have you stayed in a San Diego hotel lately?