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.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

It Depends On Who You Are

Quote from the New York Times, just in case you thought the media was neutral in reporting the news.

"Democrats are struggling to challenge President Donald Trump, and with control over nothing in Washington, they're relying for now on the power of saying 'no.'" They go on in praise of Democrats, after eight years of severely castigating Republicans for taking precisely the same position vis-à-vis Obama.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Deer In The Headlights

Watching a clip from some "news" show; some talking head interviewing Dianne Feinstein. The clip provided me with no convincing evidence that she is still alive. Sort of like El Cid propped up on his horse.

Anyway, he asked her if there was any evidence that the Russians had interfered in the presidential election. There was a pause while the question filtered through whatever it is that she uses for a mind, and then there was a flicker of panic in her eyes, like a deer caught in the headlights of a car.

She knew that the next question, if she said yes, would be, "What is that evidence?" She opened her mouth; paused, choking on the answer that she did not want to utter. "No," she said; turned and left.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Trending "News"

There was a quote on “Madame Secretary” this past weekend that was unattributed but which I have heard before, regarding a reporter; “The stories that we least want to read are the stories that must be written.”

That was true when the media was populated by journalists. Today the news media is entertainment and even brags that, “We present the news that people want to watch.” And thus comes the term “clickbait” for news items that are trivial and matter to no one, but are of a degree of prurient interest that many will click on the link to read about them.

For instance the current rash of misbehavior by airlines. Have airlines suddenly hired a bunch of thugs and idiots for some unknown bizarre reason? Has passenger treatment been totally lovely until some contagious disease hit airline employees and caused a sudden outbreak of bad behavior?

Of course not. One story got traction for God only knows what reason, and every “journalist” in the media went looking for anyone who had a video on his iPhone of an airline employee saying “shit.” Airlines being bad is “trending” right now, and so that’s what the media is presenting.

This stuff has been happening for a long time, but it didn’t matter six months ago because no one wanted to read about it. It wasn’t popular. It wasn’t what people wanted to read. Now it is one of the hottest news items, not because it suddenly matters or has suddenly become important, but because it is popular and will attract readers.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Selective Outrage

Trump is under pressure from Democrats for firing the director of the FBI, James Comey, who was investigating him for being a Russian spy. I still have a bit of a problem getting my head around that; the FBI is investigating the President of the United States for anything, let alone for being an undercover foreign agent. Anyway.

CBS News stated repeatedly last night that Comey “has an impeccable reputation for integrity,” but that’s a little different than the song they were singing a few months ago when they were blaming him for Hillary Clinton’s loss in the election.

Democrats are displaying their general lack of intelligence or principle. In December of last year they wanted him fired, and now they are outraged that he has been fired for basically the reason that they wanted him fired; namely his handling of the Clinton email issue. Democrats claim his handling of that issue in October cost Clinton the election, while Trump says his handling of the issue throughout the process exceeded his authority.

Democrats would have been thrilled had Obama fired Comey before he left office, but they are outrage that Trump was the one to do it. Typical. My only question is why it took so long to fire the silly ass. I have been wondering for months why he still had a job.

Oh yes: the last president to fire an FBI director who was investigating him? Bill Clinton.

Friday, May 05, 2017

Thanks, Google

The latest Gmail scame has been in the news quite a bit, so Google has done something about it, namely making it harder for me to access my own effing Gmail account. Instead of the usual login screen, I now get one saying that they are protecting me from the phishing scam that they claimed in the news they have already shut down, and telling me how wonderful the new process is, with a tag that says "First, enter your password."

Then, of course, it will not accept my password. There is a link for "Forgot your password." Clicking on that leads to the original login screen, the one I've been familiar with for many months, only now it reads "Enter the last password you remember." I do that, and am logged in to my Gmail account.

??? So, what did all of that accomplish?

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

A Product Of Her Times

If you actually "take full and personal responsibility" for something, you say so and stop talking. Hillary Clinton says that she takes "full and personal responsibility" for losing the presidential election last year, and then goes on to say that she also lost because of James Comey, Russian interference in the election and self hating women who would not vote for her. In other words, she takes no real responsibility at all.

There is, however nothing unusual in that, this is the way modern politics works. "I apologize if anyone took offense."

Friday, April 28, 2017

Premature Freak Out

I love the reaction to Trump’s tax cut plan. Republicans are thrilled but mostly don’t have much to say because the plan is largely incomplete, but the liberals and Democrats have gone utterly nuts, screaming about “$2 trillion in lost revenue” and “massive enrichment for the rich” and incredible increases in federal debt.

Of course Democrats have spent the last eight years saying that federal debt didn’t matter for all sorts of rather bizarre reasons, but now suddenly a large federal debt is a disaster. What happened to change that? Oh, yes, right.

One of the arguments Democrats use is that the federal deficit has been reduced under Obama to only $600 billion, which strikes me as a pretty weak argument, only $600 billion, but whatever smoke and mirrors they want to use, the national debt increased in the last fiscal year by $1.487 trillion and that, friends, is the real current federal deficit. But Democrats don’t lie, only Republicans do. Remember that in November of 2020.

Will corporations pay less tax, as Democrats are hyperventilating about? The proposal is to cut the rate from 35% to 15% and eliminate deductions, and that’s all we know about the plan. If it turns out to be that simple, then corporations would go from paying an average of 12%, as they do now due to deductions, to 15% since the deductions would be eliminated. Is that what will happen? Maybe, or maybe not. Let’s not start screaming until we know.

Will the rich be further enriched by elimination of the alternative minimum tax? Of course not. The AMT is in place to assure than too many deductions do not result in an unfairly low actual tax, and deductions will have been eliminated, so the AMT is simply no longer needed.

The number of brackets will be reduced to three, but no income ranges have been proposed for those brackets, so there is simply no way possible to calculate the revenue that will be produced by the new plan. It may be fine, with a whole host of deductions eliminated, or it may be a disaster. We don’t know, and here too we should wait to start screaming until we know what we are screaming about.

The party of the left continues to act like children, and not very bright children at that.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Nonsensical Numbers

Dean Baker is still engaged in the economist’s favorite pastime of making stuff up as they go along. On Monday he refuted a claim that labor is declining as a percentage of GDP by showing that it is not declining as a percentage of NDP.

First he refers us to a column in Bloomberg News which is concerned about labor’s share of GDP, which Baker describes as “declining from a range of 64 to 65 percent in the 1960s and early 1970s to just over 60 percent in the most recent data.” Actually, the piece provides a chart which shows the rate falling from a high of 66% in 1970 to a low of 59% in 2010, but Dean Baker doesn’t sweat the small stuff.

Then he says that he can show that there has been no drop of labor as a share of GDP by introducing labor as a share of Net Domestic Product, which is GDP “after removing depreciation.”

First of all, this is non sequitur at its worst; similar to proving that trees are not dying on Main Street by showing that I mowed my lawn on Cherry Avenue. He does not claim that anything the Bloomberg author wrote is in error, he doesn’t refute any of the statistics or issues cited in the original column, he merely introduces a new and different measurement which shows labor not declining and pats himself on the back.

And that’s assuming that “GDP after removing depreciation” is a number that has any actual meaning. GDP measures cash flow; how much money is moving in our economy. Yes, investment is one component in that calculation, but that component is the amount of money that has been spent in the current year on investment.

Depreciation exists on a financial statement which evaluates assets and liabilities, known as a “balance sheet,” while GDP is an evaluation of cash flow, known as an “income statement.“ There is no meaningful way to put depreciation on an income statement.

And how was the amount of depreciation determined, do you suppose? How does Dean Baker know the asset value of the US economy, and the lifetime over which it should be depreciated? I suspect the depreciation was determined by applying whatever number was needed to provide an income level that was not falling.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Everybody Wants Heaven

There is a song which starts with, “Everybody wants Heaven, but nobody wants death.”

Right. That is out social discourse today. Everybody wants for all of our illegal immigrants to magically become legal, but nobody wants to address our immigration policy. Everybody wants the “good manufacturing jobs” to come back, but nobody wants to give up buying cheap foreign-made products. Everybody wants a strong social safety net, but nobody wants to pay taxes to support it.

Everyone builds dream castles. Only the insane try to live in them.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Electing Monsters

I have long considered Lindsay Graham to be one of the most pernicious, evil persons in Congress; one of the few worse than John McCain. He has now convinced me that he has an evilness that is unparalleled in this century, advocating a preemptive attack on North Korea for reasons that are so inhumane that they should serve as grounds for impeachment.

He acknowledges that such a move would almost inevitably provoke war across most of Asia, and that “It’d be terrible” if it did so, but “the war would be over there,” he says, and it “wouldn’t be here [in America]. It’d be bad for the Korean Peninsula," he continues, "it’d be bad for China, it’d be bad for Japan, it’d be bad for South Korea. It’d be the end of North Korea. What it would not do is hit America.”

Is South Carolina actually proud of having elected this monster?

Friday, April 21, 2017

Prima Donna Much?

Danica Patrick, it seems, has an issue with NASCAR giving her insufficient time to before practice sessions begin on the track. “Like there have been many times," she says, "when I’ve been on the bus in my pajamas and they’re like, ‘Green flag in 15 minutes.’ And I’m like,‘What???!!!'" Seriously?

It would be one thing if she had anything to be prima donnaish about, but with no wins, no top fives, and only two top tens in 160 races...

In yesterday's practice session at Bristol she was 38th fastest out of 39 cars. The one car that was slower than her only ran six laps.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Ideology Over Common Sense

Dean Baker is again demonstrating the difference between economics and business, and proving that the former is voodoo and that economists know nothing about the latter.

On the shortage of skilled workers, he says Friday that, “…the usual way to get better workers is to offer higher pay. And, the workers are almost invariably out there, most likely working for a competitor.”

So. If you hire a skilled worker away from your competitor by offering him a higher wage, and your competitor is now looking to hire a replacement, have you solved the problem of the shortage of skilled workers? Of course not. Moving the job opening from one employer to another is not solving the shortage of workers.

What it does do is increase the cost of producing your product, which you pass on to your customer in the form of higher prices. If you can. Not all companies can do that, for various reasons; a fact which economists vigorously deny. Economists love rising prices because they create inflation, which they think is a good thing. No one else thinks that.

“This means,” he goes on to tell us, “that if there were really shortages of workers with specific skills then we should see pay for workers with these skills rising rapidly.”

To begin with, he sort of blew his theory with his own statement that workers are almost invariably out there.” Even Dean Baker does not claim that such workers are always available, so the claim that there is a shortage of skilled workers may be valid, and raising the offered wage may, in fact, do no good.

And his claim about obtaining workers by raising wages might mean increasing wages in the economy at large if a) his theory was valid and b) the shortage was nation-wide. To the best of my knowledge, Baker has never cited a specific case where a company solved a skilled worker shortage by offering higher wages.

Something like, “The Skunk Iron Works was trying to hire welders at $12/hr and could not hire them. They started offering $20/hr and in one day had more welders than they could use and formed a waiting list.” Got an example like that Mr. Baker?

Did the example get followed by, “The subsequent decrease in sales due to price increases caused them to lay off all of their new hires and some of the original workers, reducing their work force to below its original level,” or something on that order?

Or perhaps, “The original welders, who were still being paid $12/hr, quit and went to work for the competitor from which Skunk Iron Works hired the new guys.”

He claims validation for his theory by saying that, “there is no major segment of the labor market where we see rapidly rising real wages,” but the shortages were not claimed to have been in a “major segment of the labor market,” in fact he mentions “workers with specific skills,” and he is looking at nation-wide statistics while discussing issues which have been described by local businessmen.

Common sense is called that because it is so uncommon. Economists should be put into a wooden whiskey barrel upon graduation and fed through the bung hole.

Clueless in Ramona

This “marketing writer” gives new meaning to “missing the point.”

He made an offer to award free breakfast with him to the reader who best observed a number of marketing campaigns and was able to explain the theory behind them. He writes for a paper in Ramona CA, which is a pretty small town, but even so that fact that only two readers responded should have been a clue that he needs a new writing topic and possibly a new career.

With only two responses, he decided to reward both of them with a free breakfast with him, but has been unable to schedule with either of them. Repeated messages offering dates and times have gone unanswered. He still has no clue, thinks the two lucky people might merely be suffering from a “lack of bandwidth for returning emails,” and is hoping to reach them via yet another column, literally begging them to respond and set up dates for their breakfasts.

Maybe he should start writing about economics for the New York Times.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Svelte

Wife dragged me shopping for new jeans today; at Old Navy no less. In the past year that terrorist at Envision Gym has worked me from a size 44 waist "relaxed" fit jeans to a size 40 waist "slim" fit.

The title may be a slight overstatement, but...

Who's In Charge?

My wife and I are standing in the hallway, both wanting coffee but waiting to go into the kitchen to get it until the cat finishes eating her breakfast. Earlier, I had been standing outside the bathroom with my legs crossed, waiting for the cat to finish using her litter box. We pay for this place, and the food that is in it, but the cat...

Update, 9:00am: Well, perhaps some explanation is in order. The bathroom issue is simple courtesy; cats don't like to be disturbed while they are doing their bidness. Enabling? Perhaps, but the consequence of disturbing them is that they might start doing their bidness outside the litter box. Certain amount of enlightened self interest.

As to the eating. Molly has 20% kidney function and has survived more than three years with Lymphoma and periodic pancreatitis. She has a tendency not to eat, so when she does we leave her the fuck alone.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

False Narrative

“The Syrian regime, backed by the Russians, has been killing its own people for as long as I can remember.” (emphasis mine)

Short memory; just six years. The Syrian civil war started in 2011, triggered by North African food shortages due to prolonged drought. Russian backing has been in place for less than three years.

The part that annoys me is the media usage of “killing his own people.”

What were we doing in 1864 during the lengthy artillery bombardment of Vicksburg? What were we doing when Sherman burned Atlanta to the ground? We were "preserving the union."

As we were in the nineteenth century, Assad is fighting a civil war for the survival of his nation; a war which began not as a protest against the policies of his government, but in protest against a shortage of food and adequate employment. The media even refers to the forces opposing the Syrian Army as “rebels,” but refuses to acknowledge that it is entirely legitimate for a government to defend itself against such rebels.

Assad is certainly not a good guy, but neither are the leaders of a lot of nations that we deal with peacefully. And you think Syria, as a nation, survives if the rebelling forces win? Look at Libya.

Sunday, April 09, 2017

News You Can't Count On

On Friday in the opening segment of its Evening News, CBS reported that 59 cruise missiles hit a Syrian airfield, causing great damage. They tell us that two US Navy destroyers fired 60 Tomahawk missiles and that, “one of them failed and went in the water, while the other 59 flew different routes in order to hit the target all at the same time.”

They go on to say that “Neither Syrian or Russian air defenses tried to shoot the missiles down,” and add a quote from US Navy Commodore Tate Westbrook that, “We had no indication of any Russian intent to interfere with this mission.”

They do not actually say that all 59 missiles hit the airfield, but they certainly make a valiant effort to convey that impression, which caught my attention because I had already read two reports earlier in the day which said that only 23 missiles had hit the airfield. Neither source was entirely reliable, so I spent a good bit of time yesterday digging deeper into the issue.

I now have four sources, all of which I consider reliable, which say that 23 missiles hit the airfield; representing a 38% success rate. One source is Russian, one German and two Syrian, and all four of them are in agreement on 23 missiles specifically.

If you are not familiar with the Tomahawk, it is a missile which is launched from ships against surface targets. It has been in use for more than 40 years, is both reliable and accurate, and is pretty devastating against surface installations, carrying 1000 pounds of varying types of non-nuclear warhead. It flies low to avoid radar, and has a speed of around 550 mph.

So, what happened to the other 36 missiles? One source suggests that some fell prey to anti-aircraft fire, notwithstanding the Commodore’s statement, while others were the victim of something electronic that caused their guidance systems to fail.

Since the Tomahawk is an offensive weapon, not a defensive one, this does not constitute an “oh shit, we’re all going to die” issue, but it illustrates the appalling unreliability of Scott Pelley and CBS News.

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Did You Notice?

It was only a few years ago that NASCAR had a starting field of 43 cars, and each week had a fairly lengthy list of cars that were too slow in qualifications to be among the 43, and went home. Fifty cars in the entry list was not unusual. Then, last year, they cut the starting field to 40 cars. The reason, we were told, had to do with their new team franchising system. Last week at Martinsville, only 38 cars were on the starting grid.

Texas Motor Speedway is giving free Danica Patrick bobblehead dolls to the first 30,000 fans to enter the gates next weekend for the NASCAR race. I simply cannot come up with a comment that suits here. My brain exploded.

Sunday, April 02, 2017

The Beat Accelerates

At first we had the Russians hiring "more than 1000 hackers" to plant fake news and alter the outcome of our election. Now that has grown to "more than 15,000 hackers in Russia" who were planting fake news to corrupt Google search results.

Democrats also claimed that "hacking vote counts" was impossible back when they were being accused of doing it and were winning elections, now they claim that Republicans are winning elections only because they are "hacking vote counts" on a massive scale.

This has now truly become the children's crusade.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

IOIYAD

During the Obama years a sizeable group of ardent Democrats were harshly critical of and condemned Fox News for its criticism of and attacks upon the President of The United States.

Now those same ardent Democrats are applauding and encouraging Scott Pelley of CBS News for his even more harsh criticism of and attacks upon the President of The United States.

They are entirely oblivious to the hypocrisy of their position.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Of Little Consequence

Whenever you see an ambulance at the scene of an accident in San Diego, you will see a firetruck parked right behind it. I like the way that firefighters always protect their paramedics; sort of like big brothers. Not all cities do this, citing the cost, but in San Diego a firetruck always rolls with the ambulance.

The statue of the girl facing the bull on Wall Street will stay a while. Good move. I'm not sure I buy the great social message that some people attribute to her, but I like her. She has a nice expression, neither aggressive or angry, but sort of sassy and unafraid. To me, she is a better symbol of America than something military.

And yet we are now banning iPads on airliners because, it turns out, some idiot tried and failed to use one in a plot to blow up... Why do we keep responding in panic mode to failed plots? And plots which, despite spying on everybody and killing "terrorist leaders" with Hellfire missiles by the dozen for more than a decade in seven countries, we didn't know was coming?

Monday, March 27, 2017

Auto Racing Weekend

Formula 1: Boy, they blew that redesign. The aero kit is ridiculous, and the bigger tires hurt more than they help. Lap times were no faster at Melbourne than they were last year, and an overtaking car could get no closer to the car he was catching than to be trailing by 1.5 seconds before the dirty air from the leading car stalled him out. Not only was there no passing, there was never any hint that there might be passing. They have a lot of work to do to make that sport watchable.

NASCAR: Still doing the boring parade for 380 laps and then ending the race with an "exciting" 20-lap wreckfest, justified by the triteness of "cautions breed cautions." Actually, idiotic driving is what breeds cautions, but the announcers will never admit that a NASCAR driver exhibits anything less than godlike perfection. Admittedly, once in a while a caution is due to a blown tire.

The new "stage racing" means that they no longer have to throw "debris cautions" to try to keep Danica Patrick on the lead lap. Didn't work, though; she finished 26th, two laps down.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Critical Thinking

Following the discussion on Congressional confirmation of Judge Gorsuch provides examples of the decreasing ability of this country to engage in critical thinking.

One of the cases for which he is being criticized is one regarding a truck driver who was ordered to stay with his disabled truck in freezing weather and then fired when he did not do so. He sued the company for firing him and Gorsuch sided with the company. Critics use the case to say that Gorsuch should not be on the Supreme Court because he is a heartless and cruel bastard.

Certainly the company owner that fired the driver is a heartless and cruel bastard, but most trucking company owners are. I have some experience with that. Gorsuch was merely ruling on the legality of the firing, and in the state in question, the law says that employees may be fired for any reason, or for no reason. He did not say that the firing was kind, he did not approve of it in principal, he merely said that it was legal.

Senator Al Franken reverted to his comedian days and repeatedly challenged Gorsuch to tell him what, if placed in the driver’s position, he would have done. He never permitted Gorsuch to respond to the question, merely shouting at him repeatedly, “What would you have done?”

But the legal case under discussion, as any rational, thinking person would know, had nothing to do with what the driver did or did not do. It had to do with the owner firing the driver, and the owner did not need to have a reason for that firing. All of the posturing in the hearing and in the media about the driver freezing is irrelevant, attempting to divert the issue away from reality and reason.