Wednesday, April 29, 2015

I Don't Get It

If you choose someone who you wish to inherit your worldly goods if you die without a will, someone who can act in your behalf if you are incapacitated, someone who can visit you if you are in an intensive care unit of a hospital, someone with whom you can maintain fully confidential communication, why should it matter to any government what gender that person is?

Now She Speaks...

Hillary Clinton says that we have to stop the "age of mass incarceration." Interesting. In several decades of public service she has never once shown any objection to the frequency with which we imprison our population, and has even spoken favorably of the "war on drugs" which is the primary cause of that "mass incarceration." Now, in the first week of her campaign for president she is suddenly appalled that we imprison a higher percentage of our population than does Russia.

If she is elected president, do you suppose that she will continue to sing this refrain? Yeah, me neither.

Monday, April 27, 2015

She's Better At Cooking

Stock car racing pundits were all agog that Danica finished ninth last week at Bristol, and were so hysterical over that feat that some were predicting that she will "be in the championship Chase" at the end of the year. Never mind that she did it by running 18th with thirty laps remaining in the race, having one car pass her and ten cars in front of her crash.

This week at Richmond she never ran better than 18th, played bumper cars all day, was repeatedly in danger of going a lap down before she actually did so, and finished 25th, two laps down to the leader. Oh well, her admirers had fun for one week.

Friday, April 24, 2015


I won't go into details, because I'm sure you know that an American drone strike killed two people who were being held hostage by "extremists" who we decided to kill. We fired a Hellfire missile at a target without knowing precisely what was there. If you think that is a rare event I have a bridge in Brooklyn that I want to talk to you about.

We not only kill "suspected militants,"  we kill people that we don't even know we are killing. Makes you proud, doesn't it?

Monday, April 20, 2015

Football Tidbits

So, the Eagles have signed Tim Tebow for a one-year deal. The mind sort of boggles, but considering that he will be behind Sam Bradford and Mark Sanchez, and the head coach is Chip Kelly... Who knows?

I have always liked Philip Rivers, and now he shows us that he is a man of good taste, discernment and perspicacity. He says that he does not want to sign a long term contract with the Chargers because he doesn't want to live in Los Angeles if the team moves there.

Eric Weddle is feeling "hghly disrespected" because the Chargers do not place a high priority on resigning him. Yes, he is an outstanding free safety, but he is also 30 years old, which is getting a little long in the tooth for the defensive secondary. He is finishing up what was at the time the richest contract in history ever awarded to a defensive player, and the Chargers are not interested in coming anywhere near that amount again. He expressed his displeasure by skipping voluntary workouts this week, which I rather doubt was very helpful to his cause.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Big Cats Are Smart

If there is a mountain lion in the crawl space underneath your house, how do you get rid of it? Well, it turns out your best plan is to leave it the hell alone and it will leave during the night, because it doesn't want to be there just as much as you don't want it to be there.

Firefighters, animal control and the police department tried all day the persuade the beast out, with no success whatever. They used sticks, poles (which looked pretty much like sticks to me), and even air-powered cannons firing tennis balls. The mountain lion was unimpressed and stayed right where it was. They were wise enough that no one volunteered to go in and get it; there being no one willing to personally confront the visibly pissed off mountain lion.

They finally gave up and everybody went home. When they came back the next morning to try again, the mauntain lion was gone.

Blogging Ethics

There is a blogger I have been reading for some years who used to write interesting and thought provocative pieces. He has lately become somewhat enamored of his own intellect and has begun an annual fund drive, which I have been ignoring.

This fund drive was interesting, though, because in addition to becoming more and more pedantic, his pieces had also become more and more infrequent. His fund drive proposed that the more money that was donated the more frequently he would write and post pieces. He even set specific goals, with one amount of “donations” for three articles per week, another for four per week, etc. It was the first time I had seen such a thing and I had mixed feelings. It seemed a bit arrogant, and I wondered why he didn’t demand we pay him by the word.

On the other hand, there is a certain logic to, “the more money I’m making the more I will do.”  But for blogging? Most fund drives say that it is to “cover the cost of running the blog.”  In my case, don’t give me any money, because the Google blogging platform is free. Many of those who are “covering their costs”  are on the same platform I am, but

Anyway, the guy’s fund drive garnered enough money for five posts per week, and he was thrilled; thanked his readers profusely. For the following year, however, not once did he produce five articles in any one week. He seldom produced as many as three and some weeks he posted nothing. I figured that his readers had probably learned the same lesson I had, and waited to see how his next fund drive would go.

Oddly, his next fund drive has also netted an amount sufficient to gain a promise of five articles per week. Not from me, of course. In weeks subsequent to the close of that drive there has been close to five posts per week, but half of them are reprints of articles he published as far back as 2008, which he re-posts along with the comments which were made by readers at that time.

So, the title of this piece was made in jest. There is no such thing.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Even More Inanity

I told you about the article that taught us how to divide a recipe in half. Now Huffington Post offers us an article on how to start a conversation with someone you just met for the first time at a party. "My tried and true method is to start with an intriguing fact or little-known story,"  the author tells us, and goes on to say that this is the basis for his "Webby Award-nominated book."  He does not point out that the book did not win the award, and I'm thinking that he probably made the nomination himself.

He lists some of the "nuggets of trivia gold"  which he says will "ensure better conversations, a cure for any awkward silence, and maybe a new best friend or two."  I have to ask, though, what kind of conversation is started by remarking to a stranger that, "There are more cell phones in the world than toothbrushes."  If I'm holding a cell phone when when someone says that to me I'm likely to think that he just accused me of having bad breath, and that certainly is not a conversation starter.

Definitely on par with "if the recipe calls for two cups, use one cup."

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Saturday Tidbits

Paul Krugman addresses the Apple watch. "I have no special expertise here,"  he says, and goes on to say, "But what the heck; I might as well put my own thoughts out there."  Don't we all, Paul, don't we all.

Danica Patrick was on the show Chopped the other day. She was the winner, and by the time she won I wanted her to. She made three very attractive dishes, and she was charming and fun for the entire show. Nothing like the personality she presents in the stock car racing venue.

Words of Wisdom

John Kerry is continuing to be a real font of wisdom these days, and I cannot resist commenting on a couple more of his recent witty remarks. The unfortunate part is that I’m sure he did not intend them to be witty, but that is beside the point.

He justified our assistance to Saudi Arabia in bombing Yemen by saying that we were “not going to stand by while the region is destabilized.”  When one comes upon a raging bonfire and throws gasoline on it, one is not “standing by,”  so I think Mr. Kerry’s statement is entirely accurate, but not with the meaning that he intended.

He then assured Israel that the United States can walk and chew gum at the same time. (He said “do two things at the same time.”) The two things we could do simultaneously, it turned out, were to “push back against Iranian attempts to project its influence in the area”  and “reward Tehran for providing guarantees that it was not building nuclear weapons.”

Aside from the fact that Iran has already provided that guarantee by signing the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, which Israel has not done, the “reward”  to which Mr. Kerry refers is lifting sanctions that we have imposed on Iran for decades. So by that standard, one person could reward another by no longer beating him over the head with a brick. It takes a rather weird mentality to consider that a reward, but American foreign policy is certainly based on some rather weird forms of thinking.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Just a Tidbit

CBS Evening News said this evening that an upcoming progran would feature "presidential contender, Rand Paul."   I don't think so.  Presidential candidate; yes. Presidential contender; no.

Hello Kettle, This Is Pot

Self awareness is not an American national trait, and most certainly is not something commonly displayed by American leaders in foreign affairs. I often wonder what the people of other nations think when they hear, for instance, our president declare that Venezuela presents a “grave and immediate existential threat” to the US.

Or when they hear Secretary of State John Kerry advise us in a PBS interview that “Iran needs to recognize that the United States is not going to stand by while the region is destabilized or while people engage in overt warfare across lines, international boundaries, in other countries.” We do, however, expect that the rest of the world will stand by while we do all of that, as it has done for us for the past couple of decades.

And then there is Obama’s recent complaint that China “is using its sheer size and muscle to force countries into subordinate positions.” Fortunately, I was not drinking coffee when I read that, or I would have had to buy another new keyboard. His remark was made as part of a complaint that China is building bases on islands, that is to say, outside of their own national borders. How dare they?

Just because we have built over 700 such bases doesn’t mean that it’s okay for China to build five or six of them. In the China Sea. The irony of that location apparently escaped Obama completely. We have bases in the Indian Ocean, but…

Thursday, April 09, 2015

La Jolla Money vs Nature

La Jolla Cove is a scenic treasure, downtown, with a nice park. People go there to shop in the trendy stores, eat trendy food in the trendy restaurants, cruise around for hours looking for a parking place… If they succeed in the latter, they sit in the park with bottles of Cabernet and Pinot Noir and watch the sun go down, unless the marine layer hides that event, which it usually does.

You may get the idea I’m not a big fan of La Jolla, which has partly to do with its average income which rivals the national debt.

La Jollans are presently outraged by an invasion of seals, which are defecating on the rocks at La Jolla Cove. They are doing so in great quantity, and it may not surprise you to know that seal shit stinks. Badly. La Jollans are not happy about the stink, and they want the city government to do something about it. This is serious stuff. Who wants to eat trendy dinners, watch a sunset or stare at the marine layer in an area that smells like an overflowing sewage treatment plant?

The La Jolla Cove Business Association, I believe it was, hired a company to pressure wash the poop off of the rocks, but that didn’t turn out to be very effective. In order for it to work they had to use detergent, but the Coastal Commission vetoed that due to the pollution it caused, and blasting it with plain sea water didn’t remove it. All it did was piss off the seals, which is illegal.

Then they proposed hiring an animal behaviorist to train the seals to do their business somewhere else. I thought that was a joke when I read of it, and was trying to envision the size of the litter box that would be required, but it turned out they were actually getting bids from supposedly legitimate companies. Very high bids, as it turned out, so that idea was dropped.

Then they simply sued the city to force it to do a cleanup, not specifying how the cleanup was supposed to be done or what measures were to be taken to prevent the mess from recurring. The judge apparently noted the flaws in their filings, and ruled that cleaning seal shit from rocks was not a municipal responsibility in any case.

So that’s where it stands. La Jolla Cove still stinks, proving that no matter how much money you have, nature still rules.

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Sauce For The Goose?

I am sometimes a bit baffled by the things that the American public chooses to become outraged about.

(And my mother just spun in her grave because I ended that sentence with a preposition. But Mom was rather easily outraged over trivia much of her life, so I’m not going to worry about it.)

Most recently, without taking a position either pro or con on the issue, is the Indiana law thing. There was essentially no outcry when the courts decided that it was entirely permissible for a business to discriminate against its employees based on its religious beliefs. Even President Obama just shrugged his shoulders.

But when Indiana declared that it might be okay for a business to discriminate against its customers based on its religious beliefs, the grits hit the fan, President Obama is flinging grits with as much enthusiasm as anyone.

I realize that the principles involved are not precisely the same, but they are sufficiently similar to make me wonder why we care so much about customers and so little about employees. Customers, after all, can go elsewhere (voting with their feet) a lot more easily than employees can.

Monday, April 06, 2015

Daily Dosing

sleeping catMolly is a sweet cat, and mostly pretty smart, but she hasn’t quite mastered this “fleeing for your life” thing yet. Usually, when my wife goes to administer her twice-daily medication, Molly is either hanging out in my lap or is curled up in one of her many resting places throughout the house. Sometimes, however, she sees the medication coming and decides that terror is the order of the day, but she doesn’t bring it off very well. She runs off about eight feet or so and then stops to see if her tactic worked; which, of course, it didn’t since she stopped in the middle of the dining room.

Yesterday she fled to the top of my desk. Um, news flash, Molly; we can see you there.

Once caught, or snuck up on as the case may be, her resistance to taking the two pills and the shot in the back of her neck is precisely zero. Well, “taking” the pills is not really the right word, since cats don’t “take” pills. At any rate, she does not need to be held down or anything, and giving the meds is a one-person task since she passively allows my wife to pry her mouth open and shove the pills down her throat, never threatening to use any of those teeth and claws.

Sort of makes one wonder why she decided to flee, no matter how ineffectively, but she’s a cat.

Saturday, April 04, 2015

Clarifying The Deal

Democrats are idolizing Obama for working out a deal with Iran which prevents them from developing a nuclear weapon. That’s sort of like working out a deal with the US Air Force to prevent them from bombing Kansas City, because Iran has no more intention of building a nuclear weapon than does the USAF of bombing Kansas City.

Obama’s big problem has been to get Iran to quit denying that they have any remote desire to build a nuclear weapon and, instead, to agree not to build one. Sort of like our hoa getting me to agree not to paint my house purple with green trim.

Republicans hate the deal because they are afraid it will allow Iran to develop a nuclear weapon which, they claim, would “start a nuclear arms race in the Middle East.” No one excels at being afraid more than Republicans, of course, but they are really reaching with this one. Israel already has nuclear weapons, quite a few of them, so if Iran is, as they claim, trying to develop a nuclear weapon, then there already is a nuclear arms race ongoing in the Middle East.

Republicans don’t care much for facts, though, so in their fantasy world Israel doesn’t have nuclear weapons and if Iran is successful at building nuclear weapons that it isn't trying to build, it would start something which is actually already happening. Keep reading that repeatedly until you understand it. It will sink in eventually.

Iran, on the other hand, is delirious because we are rewarding them for agreeing not to do something that they weren’t doing in the first place. Much as I would be if someone paid me $10,000 not to beat my wife.

Welcome to the twilight zone of American politics.

Friday, April 03, 2015

Paul Krugman Is An Idiot, Chapter 3,645

Paul Krugman uses a comparison today between Walmart, citing its “low wages, low morale, and very high turnover,” and Costco, which he points out “offers higher wages and better benefits,” to claim that employers can raise the pay scale of workers without any actual net cost because Costco “makes up the difference with better productivity and worker loyalty.” This is an example of why economists should never talk about business practices. They have truly idiotic ideas about what a business is and how it works.

Krugman does admit that “the two retailers serve different markets,” and that, “Costco’s merchandise is higher-end and its customers more affluent,” but he goes on to say that his comparison is valid despite that. That’s sort of like admitting that one vehicle is hauling 80,000 pounds of freight and the other merely contains two human passengers, but that my mileage comparison remains legitimate.

And it isn't just a difference in market and affluence of customer base. Costco sells vastly fewer items and markets them in an entirely different manner than Walmart. For the most part they do not even remove items from boxes, but merely cut the box open and stick it on the shelving in the store. That creates a difference in productivity which is not a result of being paid better, it’s a result of a structural difference in the way the stores do business, and it’s only one example out of many.

Not to mention that Costco is selling a significantly different type of item, there being only a nominal crossover in the nature of goods which they sell, and they are selling them in bulk, with a vastly larger unit purchase than Walmart enjoys. Krugman is saying, in effect, that apples and oranges are both fruit and should therefor taste the same. Idiot.

Thursday, April 02, 2015

Distraction? What Distraction?

Like much of America, I am a regular reader of Dear Abby, and I usually agree with her responses although I consider some of them to be pretty weak and/or Pallyanna-ish. She descended to new depths of “weak tea syndrome” with her advice today to the woman who admits to being an alcoholic and complains about her husband’s criticism of her drinking despite what the writer considers to be his own eating and drinking problems.

She responds that “The more your husband draws attention to your alcohol problem, the less he is forced to confront his own addictions to food and tobacco, and it also serves as a distraction,” and suggests that a “mental health professional may be able to help you understand why you tolerate your husband's behavior.” (emphasis mine) Seriously. She actually said that.

How about, “The way to get your husband to stop criticizing you for your drinking is to stop drinking.” Or maybe, “The reason you husband is critical of you for having a drinking problem is because you have a drinking problem, and his eating and smoking is irrelevant to that issue.” It is not the husband who is using distraction, Abby dear, it is the alcoholic wife. Jeez.

Your problem, dear "Humiliated in Texas," and what is causing you to be humiliated is not your husband's eating and smoking, nor is it your husband's criticism of you; your problem is your drinking.