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?

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Don't Call the Fire Department

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, September 18, 2017

Watching Football Games

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Well, That Was Wierd

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

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

Monday, September 11, 2017

The Inanity of Lawsuits

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

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

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

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

Saturday, September 09, 2017

On Cardiologists

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, September 07, 2017

Spare Me The Handwringing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

A Better Life

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

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

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

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

Monday, September 04, 2017

Strange

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

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Fine Lines

From Da Tech Guy blog:

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

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

Sports in San Diego

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Local sportswriters are not writing about this at all.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

More Voodoo Economics

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, August 21, 2017

Warnings Abound

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

Friday, August 18, 2017

Here We Go Again

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

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

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

Thursday, August 17, 2017

More Mainstream Fake News

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Media Dishonesty

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

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

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

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Where Are The Editors?

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

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

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

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

Monday, August 07, 2017

Lighter Moment

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

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

Saturday, August 05, 2017

Biased Media, Much?

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Taking Liberties With The Truth

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Dick Measuring is Not Foreign Policy

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

Friday, July 28, 2017

More Dishonest Reporting

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

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

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

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Dishonest Reporting

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, July 23, 2017

On The Lighter Side at Indianapolis

A lighter moment in the Xfinity race at Indianapolis as William Byron went three wide into turn one. The announcers were freaking out, probably already trying to decide how to describe the terrible wreck which was about to happen, because even two wide into the turns at Indianapolis is less than a wonderful idea.

One of the announcers then says, “Okay, we’ll have to give him that one. He’s never raced here before so he didn’t know that you cannot do that, and that’s why he was able to pull that off.”

I enjoyed the hell out of that. You can do that only if you don’t know you can’t do it. I don’t actually think it was as stupid as it sounds, he was just so flustered he got his tongue all twisted up. I’m still chuckling about it the next day.

The driver, a rookie, went on to win the race; not only the first time he’s raced at Indianapolis, the first time he has ever seen the speedway in person. Not the first time he’s won an Xfinity race, though; at age nineteen, this was his 3rd win.

No, he did not repeat the three wide into the turn thing. He probably scared the shit out of himself the one time he did it, plus he almost certainly had his spotter screaming in his ear, "Don't you ever do that again."

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

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Not a Rising Tide

I do not object to raising the minimum wage. It benefits those who work for minimum wage, and for a liberal that should be a sufficient reason. Liberals, however, can never be satisfied with doing good for its own sake, because the modern convention is that voters should vote only in their own self interest.

(I actually reject the concept of voting only in one’s own self interest, but that’s a different subject for a different time.)

The only voters whose own self interest supports raising the minimum wage, however, are those working for minimum wage, and they don’t make campaign contributions. Nor are there enough of them to assure the reelection of liberal politicians, so the assistance of economists is secured to tell us that raising the minimum wage “injects money into the economy,” thereby increasing consumer spending and raising the GDP, which is in everybody’s self interest.

Sort of “the rising tide that raises all boats,” but does it actually work? Lets look at Dean Baker’s example of the roofer in Nebraska, who he suggests should raise her workers’ wage from $17/hr to $20/hr and thereby gain more business and enrich the economy by increasing the GDP because the workers will have more money to spend.

The average roofing job takes about 150 man-hours, so each for job the higher wage will enrich the workers by about $450, typically about $90 per worker. This is where the difference between economics and business enters the picture, because Dean Baker thinks that the discussion ends here, with telling us that the economy has been enriched by $450 per roofing job, the additional amount that the workers have been paid.

There is, however, the issue of payroll deductions which usually run about one third of gross pay, so the economy is actually enriched by about $300 per roofing job, which is the increased spending power that is realized by the workers due to the increase in wages. That’s a good thing, of course, but it’s still not the end of the discussion.

The roofer’s cost to do the job has increased by $450, and Dean Baker will tell us that the roofing company can just absorb that additional cost and move on. Any business that allows its cost to increase without a consequent increase in selling price, however, is all be certain to be going out of business in very short order. That’s not economics, so Dean Baker would not know anything about that. It’s basic business management, which a kid selling lemonade on the street corner figures out pretty quickly.

And the direct wage increase of $450 is not the whole story either. There are costs related to wages, such as workers’ compensation insurance, unemployment insurance tax and payroll tax. There are others, such as sick pay, vacation pay and, increasingly, mandated maternity pay, and they all usually add up to about 30% of direct wages. I suspect that the rate for a high risk business such as roofing is a little higher than that, but we’ll stay with the average and say that this factor bumps the average cost increase to about $585 per roofing job.

And that’s without the roofer adding anything for profit on that increased cost, which is actually a must if she wants to stay in business, not to mention applying a factor called “burden” onto the additional cost. The latter is a factor to cover the fixed overhead of the business, and companies who do not apply it regularly on job costing fail every time. I have seen it more than once. Profit and burden add another 20% at the very least; it is usually a percentage significantly much larger than that.

So the increased sale price of the roofing job is some $700 due to the $3/hr wage increase that Dean Baker urged the roofer to award her employees. That means that five employees have a total of $300 more spending money from this roofing job as a result of the wage increase, while the homeowner has $700 less spending money. The economy, then, had a net loss of $400 in consumer spending power.

I suspect that somebody is going to say that the homeowner is so wealthy that the cost of the roofing job does not affect his spending habits. I will prevent that person from looking foolish by reminding him of the “American dream” of every person a homeowner, and that over 50% of the population has already realized that dream. I would not for a moment suggest that 50% of the population is indifferent to spending resources.

That argument is beside the point anyway, because the “injection of money into the economy” is not about how much will actually be spent, but is about how much will be made available for spending, and we have shown that the economy did not realize any net benefit from the Nebraska roofer raising her workers’ wages.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Economics Is Idiocy

Dean Baker explains why we stupid people do not understand “how the labor market works” to the owner of a roofing contractor in an extraordinarily thick headed manner last week. This is an example of why I seldom read Dean Baker’s column any more. (I quit reading Paul Krugman more than a year ago.)

The roofer is paying a starting wage of $17/hr, well over the state’s minimum wage of $9/hr, and not getting enough new hires. She explains that she would cheerfully pay $35/hr but is constrained by competition and, even more so, by what insurance companies dictate for roof repairs.

Baker’s response is that, if she cannot pay $35/hr, she can still pay $20/hr and thus hire new workers away from her competition, thereby solving her worker shortage. His column continues, offering erudite comments about “textbook economics,” which is a lot less enlightening than he thinks it is, because the roofing company owner is not dealing in Dean Baker’s “economic world” but rather in a business world.

He suggests that, “Maybe the government should provide employers with an incentive for learning basic labor economics,” but I’m thinking that maybe the course should be for economists. Raising wages to hire workers away from competing companies in the same industry is a refrain continuously sung by Dean Baker, and it is utter drivel. Moving a worker shortage from one employer to another does not eliminate the shortage.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

"Primary Cause"

To set the scene, a semi-truck is parked at the curb on a boulevard, one with multiple lanes in both directions. It is there illegally, blocking a bicycle lane, while the driver goes into a fast food place for breakfast. Along comes a person driving a car and slams into the rear of the truck. His car goes under the trailer of the semi, shearing off the top of the car and killing the driver. There is no evidence that the driver of the car ever touched his brakes before he was killed.

The police are citing the truck as "the primary cause of the accident."

That makes no sense to me. It was a clear day, on a straight stretch of road, with no hills. How did the driver not see a semi-truck? How does a parked, unoccupied semi-truck in plain view of oncoming traffic cause an accident? Police do not whether or not a cell phone was found in the car, by the way.

Certainly the truck driver was wrong, and certainly in parking where he did he created a hazard. I would not argue if the police cited his truck as a contributor to the accident. But the truck, an inanimate, stationary object, as the primary cause of the accident? If the driver of the car, who pretty obviously never saw the truck, had hit a tree, would the tree have been the "primary cause of the accident?"

If the other party does something illegal, that does not relieve me of responsibility for my own safety. If a car runs a red light, it is not okay for me to use that as license to run into him and blame him for the carnage; I still have the responsibility, morally and under the law, to avoid hitting him if possible. What are the police thinking here, claiming that a stationary truck is the "the primary cause of the accident?"

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Crazy, Stupid, or... ?

I sometimes get the feeling that Trump is doing to the establishment what Osama bin Laden did to the United States. We drove him out of Afghanistan in three months, and sixteen years later we are still fighting, dying and bankrupting ourselves there; such a long time and with such futility that we no longer even know why the fuck we are there.

The establishment is descending to a similar level of insanity in their war against Trump; using the same lack of sanity and the same desperate dishonesty in their frantic thrashing around, and steadily destroying what little ability they ever had to govern.

Not that I'm into carrying any water for Donald Trump, I despise the man, but the establishment has abandoned any pretense that we have a constitutional government.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Men Are The Weaker Sex

In the last general election California voters had a choice between two female Democrats to replace a retiring female Democrat in the US Senate. The winner has joined the female Democrat who is presently in the process of dying in office.

Ardent Democrats are now urging this new female Democrat to run for POTUS in 2020, since the last female Democratic champion botched the task (and is blaming it on "angry white men") and the Ardent Democrats have become jaded with the current female Democratic champion now that she has three full years of federal experience and her snarky rhetoric is starting to become a bit stale.

It is worth noting that men wear pink in their football games in behalf of women's causes, while women wear... Um, pink in behalf of women's causes. I know, payback time, but payback is not justice.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Racing This Weekend

The Americans seem to have improved their boat speed, enough to win one race on Saturday, but they still have the same idiot at the helm. I have not seen so much just plain bad sailing since I watched a bunch of Cub Scouts. Oracle jumped the start on one race and blamed his "software." I was watching on television, for God's sake, and three boat lengths before he got to the line said "Shit!" loud enough to startle Molly, who was not even on my lap. If I didn't need any stinking computer software to know that he was early to the line, why did he?

In the same race he drew a boundary penalty and committed a crossing foul, and twice he tacked so badly that he dumped both hulls in the water and dropped his speed to under five knots. He did the same thing once during a prestart. During prestart! He crossed the start line twenty seconds behind the Kiwis after that little debacle.

Danica Patrick started 6th and finished 17th. Her teammates finished 1st and 2nd. I don't think we need to say much more about that.

Well, we might add that she wrecked her boyfriend on lap 30. Tore his car all to pieces and put him out of the race. I'll bet that will be a quiet house tonight.

In Indycar the announcing crew kept telling us about the complete dominance of the Penske team. Scott Dixon sort of spoiled their party by winning, because he drives for Chip Ganassi.

Corruption Is Now Normal

One of the problems with these so-called “citizens initiatives” that are placed on our ballots is the extreme level of dishonesty with which they are promoted. In all fairness, the honesty of opponents is no better, but while the process is designed to allow citizens a voice in the process of governance, all too often these ballot measures are blatantly dishonest schemes to enrich the major financial players who sponsor them.

Such turns out to be the case with the San Diego “Soccer City” initiative, which we were told by FS Investors must be placed into a special election in 2017 in order to avoid losing an opportunity for an expansion team being created by Major League Soccer in 2018. If we waited for a 2018 regular election, we were told by the investment group wanting to “develop a fantastic plan for Mission Valley,” we would probably lose a chance at obtaining one of the planned MLS expansion teams.

It turns out that even as they were saying all of this, San Diego had already obtained an MLS expansion team. The investors who obtained the franchise early last month “purposely delayed the announcement so it wouldn’t conflict with the public debate over the Soccer City proposal.” The stadium will be built, we are told now, somewhere in North County.

The corruption boggles the mind. FS Investors knew that the expansion team deal was already locked up, and so did the group who had already secured the expansion team, and both groups kept silent about it in order to coerce voters into approving a $5 billion commercial development by FS Investors, three million sqft of commercial space and 4500 condominiums, which happened to have a soccer stadium and river park as window dressing.

Named "Soccer City" for the stadium which was ~5% of the investment.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Intelligent (?) Reporting

There is a stock car race tomorrow... Well, to digress a bit, what will be on the track certainly are not stock cars and it being an actual race is more than a bit questionable, but it is being promoted as a stock car race and is hosted by the National Association for Stock Automobile Racing.

Anyway, of course various media pundits have to write about it but, since all of the vehicles are so exactly the same that the sanctioning body measures them with lasers, and the drivers are pretty much likewise although the sanctioning body doesn't measure them with anything, it's a little hard for said pundits to come up with anything meaningful to write about.

So the pundits do what they always do in those circumstances; they write things that aren't meaningful. They write gibberish. They write things like, "Kyle Larson hoping to win Sunday." Would Kyle Larson even be getting in the fucking race car if he wasn't hoping to win?

Friday, June 23, 2017

Party of Incoherence

The first step in winning the next election is recognizing how and why you lost the current election. In the case of the Democratic Party, the first step is even accepting the basic fact that you did lose the current election, something that they have not yet done.

After the debacle that was the 2016 presidential election many party loyalists are hung up on the claim that they did not actually lose the election, regardless of who is actually occupying the White House, because of some fantasy about the popular vote.

Aside from that issue and faced with the inescapable fact that their candidate is not presently living in the White House, the Democratic Party elected the same leadership, who then proclaimed that the party did not need to do anything different in order to win the next election. Their reasoning was a bit hard to follow, but seemed to be something to the effect that the voters had been wrong and would come to their senses over the next four years.

They did not say what they were going to do to bring those voters to their senses, and apparently it has not yet happened because in four special elections this month, four Republicans will be going to Washington as members of the House of Representatives.

Democrats are divided between those patting themselves on the back for having achieved a “moral victory” in those four elections and those castigating Democratic voters for not voting in sufficient numbers. No one is asking why those Democratic voters did not come out and vote, other than Rachel Maddow, who opined that Democrats don’t come out in rainy weather while apparently Republicans do.

In one election the Democratic Party ran a candidate who did not even live in the district, and in discussion after discussion I cannot find one party loyalist who admits that might have been a mistake; that next time maybe the candidates should be locals. That election was in Georgia where, I believe, the term “carpetbagger” originated.

In one particularly fascinating exchange, a “conversationalist” excoriated Republicans because they blindly vote for anyone who is a Republican, not questioning anything about the candidate’s policies other than his party affiliation. I thought I recognized the handle and went back to last year and found a post in which he said that he was unhappy with Clinton but would “hold his nose and vote for her” because she was the Democratic nominee. I decided not to pursue that, but it might have been fun.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Cherche le Chat

My computer mouse is acting quirky, jumping all over the screen and annoying me, and I'm beginning to think I've contracted some sort of malware. Russian, maybe? Probably not. Then I turn it over and check the little red light on the bottom. Ah, yes. Maybe if I clean all of the cat hair out of the light port... By golly that worked just fine.

Stoopid cat. The title, in case you don't know it, is French for "Blame the cat."

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Sucker City Not Dead

The “News Break” upon which I based yesterday’s post was unclear. It turns out that the City Council voted against a special election for an initiative to expand the convention center. The “Sucker City” proposal is still an open issue, which is why the investors are planning to address the council today.

The Council did not override Hizzonor’s veto, so next year's city budget still contains $5 million for a special election even though, at the moment, no special election is planned. The “Sucker City” investors hope to persuade the City Council to call a November special election for that proposal, after the Council rejected a special election for the convention center expansion, which seems like a bit of a long shot.

The alternative is to persuade the City Council to approve the “Sucker City” proposal outright, without a public vote, which would be entirely legal since no taxes are involved. There is very little chance of that happening, I suspect, since it would almost certainly result in a 0% reelection rate for the present Council members.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

San Diego Politics

There is a proposal before the citizens of San Diego to replace Qualcomm Stadium with, among other things, a 30,000 seat stadium for a major league professional soccer team. We do not, of course, have such a team, and have no actual promise of one, and the “other things” are far from trivial. But proponents of such initiatives do not want us to be bothered with such trivia.

For those who care, the “other things” consist of 3 million square feet of commercial office space and 4800 more condominiums in Mission Valley, making the soccer stadium something like 5% of the enterprise and casting doubt in some minds on the validity of calling the project “Soccer City.” Saner minds call it the “Mission Valley Congestion Project,” and some less polite people call it “Sucker City.”

That doesn’t keep FS Investors from pressing forward with it, wanting to have it placed into a special election this November, and reminding us that “it will not cost taxpayers a dime,” which ought to raise red flags everywhere. If it’s not costing us any money, why is it necessary for us to vote on it? Not to mention that the special election itself will cost us $5 million, which Hizzonor the mayor included in the upcoming city budget.

Proponents say that if we don’t have a special election this year we will “disenfranchise 110,000 voters” who signed the initiative in grocery store parking lots all across the city. They fail to point out that if we do put it on a special election we will “disenfranchise 305,638 voters” who voted for and passed Measure L last year, which specifies that all initiatives shall be placed on the ballot in regular elections, not in elections created especially for the purpose of the initiatives.

The idiocy sort of boggles the mind, but then the City Council broke out in an unusual moment of sanity and voted down the $5 million budget item for the special election. Hizzonor was undeterred and used his line item veto to put the $5 million and the special election back into the budget, and the City Council responded by voting not to have a special election.

They will vote later this week on overriding Hizzonor’s veto, but since they have already voted not to have a special election, the issue is moot.

FS Investors is asserting that it is not defeated, and plans to address the City Council about a special election on some other date. Apparently they took heart in noting that the City Council only voted not to have a special election in November, which does not rule out that they might agree to have a special election in Really?

San Diego is certainly in Southern California.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Fantasy Land

This nation has devolved into something out of a Lewis Carroll novel when it can come up with the likes of the drama surrounding the Comey “testimony” before Congress. I am certainly no fan of Donald Trump, despise the man actually, but I am a big fan of the due process of law; something that the media seems to regard as needed only when it suits their agenda.

The word “evidence” means “the available body of facts indicating whether a belief or proposition is true or valid,” but the last thing that the Senate committee wanted to hear was anything resembling any facts. When Comey reported what Trump said in a given conversation, the questioner blew that off in a heartbeat, asking, “What did you take that to mean?”

In any venue seeking truth, i.e. a courtroom, an attorney would be leaping to his feet screaming “Objection,” and the judge would sustain him before he could even finish saying that the question should not be allowed because it, “calls for conjecture” by the witness.

The media was undeterred by any of this and happily reported that Trump was guilty of “obstruction of justice” because Comey testified that Trump had “ordered Comey to shut down the investigation of the Russians,” notwithstanding that the conversation that Comey was discussing had not even been about the Russians, it had been about Michael Flynn, and Trump most certainly did not order any investigation to be shut down.

Only in the American media can a person be convicted for what someone thought he said even when he did not, in fact, say it.

Friday, June 09, 2017

Missing The Obvious

The America's Cup sailing has been, to say the least, interesting. It has only marginally been sailing, with boats going 42 knots in a 14 knot breeze, but that's a separate issue. To start with, Sir Ben Ainslie and the English boat, after winning the start in eight races and gaining leads of as much as 400 meters, only to lose seven of those races, are now dog meat and headed back to England. The English came to gun fight not even with a knife, but carrying some sort of stick.

The Swedes lost twice on Tuesday and were match point down to the Japanese boat, then won three out of three yesterday and put their opponent match point down. The announcers, who for the most part are awesome, failed to notice that the Swedes returned to classic sailboat match racing technique, covering their opponent, not letting Japan split the course, and beating Japan by actually outsailing them. Nice stuff.

Sweden vs. New Zealand may be interesting, but I expect we will once again see Oracle vs. New Zealand for the cup. I would not put much money against the Kiwis taking the damned thing back south of the equator. I think the Cup race is going to be awesome.

Sunday, June 04, 2017

Well Said

Richard Petty is turning eighty next month. Dover Speedway is so enthusiastic that they are celebrating his birthday today because there is a race there today and won't be one there next month. They are going all out, with a cake in the shape of his 1969 Ford Torino, and having him pace the field before the race in his Superbird. Wish I could be there.

As one guy put it, "It doesn't matter how man times I've seen the King, anytime Richard Petty walks by you can sense - that guy is a big deal."

Saturday, June 03, 2017

California Dreaming

California has already passed a minimum wage which is on its way to $15/hour. Whether that is fair, reasonable or good policy is something for another discussion. Since it is imposed equally on every business, its effect of creating or destroying jobs is arguable and can be deferred to another discussion. It cannot be denied, however, that it raises the cost of doing business in this state.

Now the state has completed the first stage of trying to pass universal health care which will be funded by a 15% payroll tax. It is not stated whether the burden of that tax will be borne by employers or workers, but let’s think about a 15% payroll tax in conjunction with the increase in the minimum wage.

If the tax is to be paid by employees Well, the state just partially reversed the increase in the minimum wage, driving it back down to $12.75. Granted, that will be offset to some degree for some employees who will no longer have to buy health insurance, but at the lower end it will be a big blow for those who are currently on Medicaid.

If it is to be paid by employers it will be partially offset, but only partially and only for some employers, by not having to purchase employee health insurance, but for many it is an added expense in its entirety. And that after having just absorbed an increase in payroll expense due to the increase in the minimum wage.

The fast food industry will be destroyed. Will anyone pay $12 for a fast food hamburger? Some would say that's no loss, but what happened to this being a country with free choice?

And California claims that it does not deserve its reputation as a state which is unfriendly to business.

Friday, June 02, 2017

Governments We Support

Dateline Afghanistan: The Taliban set off a huge bomb in downtown Kabul which killed three dozen Afghan people. The people are pissed off at their government for not protecting them, so they gather in protest. Government "security forces" then disperse them with machine guns, killing upwards of a hundred of them of them.

And this is the government that we are not only supporting, but are putting our armed forces in harms way to support. Our military men and women are dying to keep this government in place. On what planet is this sane?

Thursday, June 01, 2017

Only Hillary Clinton

There are few people, possibly only one, who would even say, "I take responsibility for every decision I made, but that’s not why I lost," and not be laughed out of the room. Instead of the hoots of derision her statement, made at the annual Code Conference in Ranchos Palos Verdes, CA, deserved she was rewarded with solemn nods of sympathetic understanding. Just for the record, she added four more reasons for her loss in the presidential election, one new reason being "the general expectation that I would win," bringing the total to eleven.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Hump Day

As in, "over the hump." My wife had the last of her chemo last week, and the effects are significantly lesser today than they were yesterday, so we are on the downhill side of this damned thing. Still have radiation to go, but the doctor promises that will be a walk in the park; very limited in scope and duration. Hopefully they got it all and we're done with it.

Low Inflation?

We are told that inflation is well below the 2% rate targeted by the Fed.

In the last five years the value of our house has gone from $420,000 to $720,000. What has increased its value? Not capital improvements; it has not had any, has not so much as been repainted. So, how does 2% inflation account for a 71% increase in the value of our house in just five years?

Just as a point of information, at the peak of the last housing bubble, just before it collapsed in 2008, this house was valued at $550,000. Despite being valued at some 30% higher now, we are told that this value is not artificial or part of a bubble for reasons that are too complex for uneducated slobs like me to understand. Right.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Let's See How This Works

I'm not holding my breath, since NASCAR's track record (pun intended) is considerably less than stellar the last few years.

Today's issue, which is at Charlotte, goes back a few weeks ago to Bristol. That has always been a one-groove track, with many fans complaining that cars could not pass and that no real racing, therefore, ever occurred. Other fans liked the "bump and run," in which the overtaking car would hit the car ahead, knock it physically up out of the "groove" in order to pass, and sometimes knock it into the wall in the process and wreck it completely. Fun and games.

Dale Earnhardt (senior) once said of Terry Labonte after such an event that, "I didn't mean to wreck him, I just meant to rattle his cage." He was, as he said it, grinning like a jackass eating thistles, so some people questioned the sincerity of his statement. Terry Labonte, usually among the most mild tempered of men, attempted to express his opinion with his fists, but was successfully restrained.

NASCAR, never willing to leave well enough alone, brought a grinder to the track and ground the concrete pavement to provide a graduated banking, steeper on the outside of the turns and less steep on the inside. The idea was to provide multiple racing grooves, which had worked well on several asphalt tracks. It didn't work for shit on a concrete track; all it did was move the single racing groove from the bottom of the track to the top. No more "bump and run," because now when you hit the car ahead of you he cannot just move up the track, he can't do anything but hit the wall because he's only about one foot away from it. The "run" part turned into running away from the really pissed off driver that you bumped.

Nobody could come up with a way to "ungrind" the concrete, sort of like trying to teach a chicken to "unlay an egg," so some genius came up with some sticky gunk to spray on the lower groove to provide better traction and allow cars to race down there. Results are, to say the least, mixed. Sometimes it works until the sun comes out, sometimes it quits working when the sun comes out, sometimes it works until the tires heat up, sometimes...

Fast forward to the "All Star Race" last weekend at Charlotte, which was one of the best soporifics on television in weeks. The screaming by the announcers kind of spoiled the sedative effect of the event, but the racing certainly did not. There was only one pass for the lead, and that was during a restart when one driver caught the rest of them snoozing because nobody seemed to think anybody was actually racing. Everybody drove in the same racing line which, as I recall, has always been the case at Charlotte.

Everyone acknowledges that the main problem is the aerodynamics of the cars, in which when a car is the clean air of having the lead it is enough faster that it cannot be caught, let alone passed. Everyone acknowledges that solving that problem means a redesign of the car and getting rid of the "splitter." (Never mind what that is. It's an aerodynamic part that totally divorces the machine from being a "stock car.")

Everyone further acknowledges that racing is further degraded by excessively hard tires required, or claimed to be required, by high downforce that makes the car easier to drive and impossible to actually race.

Well, everyone except NASCAR, who seems to have decided that something is wrong with the Charlotte track. They noticed that everyone was driving in the inside of the turns, which makes sense since it is the shortest way around the track and nobody is trying to pass anybody. NASCAR decided that if the drivers would choose to drive up next to the wall, taking the longer way around the track, then the racing would be more competitive.

So, they went down to Bristol and got a bunch of that gunk and sprayed it on the upper groove of the Charlotte track in the hopes that it would provide closer racing. There's a few imponderables in that thought:
  Charlotte is paved with asphalt, Bristol with concrete.
  At Bristol they are going 90mph in the turns, at Charlotte more than 180mph
  The tire compounds used at the two tracks are very different.

The lengths to which NASCAR will go to avoid solving the problems with their racing program boggle the mind. Indycar had similar problems, and they addressed the car design. That made a big difference and began to re-grow their fan base, and they are taking that experience and building on it with a new car next year. They listen to their fans and undo their errors. NASCAR just piles on more gimmicks, like playoffs, and stage racing, and spraying gunk on the track.

Friday, May 26, 2017

NASCAR Gets It Wrong, Again

The Coca Cola 600 is run on Memorial Day weekend, so NASCAR goes all out to "honor the troops" at the race. They make a big production out of having troops on the track prior to the race, troops in the stands, troops in the television broadcast... All of these troops are alive and speaking to us, so NASCAR, as they so often do, is honoring the wrong troops.

Further, in addition to appearing in public wearing fatigue uniforms, showing that they have little or no pride in their service and no self respect, not one of these "troops" tells the interviewer that they are getting it wrong, because this holiday is about honoring military service people who have lost their lives in service to their country.

We have Veterans Day to celebrate guys like me, people who have served in the past; none of whom would ever have appeared off base wearing anything but Class A dress uniform.

We have Armed Forces Day to honor those who are presently serving; despite of their own disrespect for their service by wearing fatigues off base.

This day was created specifically to honor those men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice for their nation; those who in placing themselves, "their precious lives, between their homes and the forces which would destroy them," lost their lives.

To those, the soldiers and sailors on eternal patrol, rest in peace.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Asking a Dumb Question

A blogger asks, "Why is the Left Losing in a Moment it was Made for?" Notwithstanding the rather odd capitalization, it's not a bad question on the face of it. His posit is that with "minuscule wage growth, near-record levels of household debt, and soaring corporate profits" the left should be winning elections by large margins, but is losing them on a dishearteningly regular basis.

But, why is "the left" a movement that is "made for" such miserable economic conditions? Okay, I'll chalk that off to a degree of illiteracy, because I don't think that he really understands what "made for" really means. Anyway, his explanation for liberalism's inability to win elections is an overwhelming tendency to "straddle between globalization and economic nationalism," whatever the fuck that means.

The real reason, of course, is the liberal adoption of "identity politics," meaning that they are so busy making sure that a tiny handful of the population is able to use the bathroom of their choice that they are doing nothing for 300 million working men and women who are the backbone of the electorate.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Racing Update

Watching qualifying at Indianapolis yesterday, where only one car is on the track at a time, was infinitely more exciting than watching the "All Star Race" that NASCAR put on Saturday night. The "stock car race" produced precisely three passes for the lead, all of them on restarts after a caution.

Fernando Alonzo, the Formula 1 driver who is running in an Indycar for the first time, qualified fifth. Not bad for a rookie.

Six of the top nine cars are powered by Honda. Chevrolet has been dominating on the road courses but are not doing well at all on ovals. Penske, in particular, is struggling to come up to speed with his Chevvys; only one car in the top nine, and his next best position is 18th. Might be an interesting race.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

This Is How Democracy Dies

The California Democratic Party elected its leader this week, and the representative of the portion which regards itself as “progressive” because they supported Bernie Sanders in the presidential race lost to the “establishment” candidate by a narrow margin. Needless to say, the losing faction cried foul, claimed that the election was rigged in some undefined manner, and is vowing to file a lawsuit to invalidate the election.

They are not, as far as I know, claiming that it was the Russians who interfered with the election, but

They seem not to realize that an election in which only one outcome is acceptable is the kind of election that is held in, say, Syria. They feel that democracy only works when they win. Six-year-olds feel the same way.

In a similar vein, I inadvertently watched a few minutes of Face The Nation this morning. Three CBS anchors were discussing James Comey and one of them stated that, while it, “might be okay to question a few of his actions, you just do not attack his character.” Continuously, and rigorously attacking the character of the President, however, is entirely fair game.

That same anchor went on to say that persons leaking contents of private meetings are, “trying to get out what they believe to be the truth.” Not what is the truth, you understand, but what they believe to be the truth.

Democracy simply has no chance in this nation.