Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Let me finish that for you...

You say, "Let me say it right here, if you voted for Trump-I do think you are a racist, homophobic misogynist." Left unsaid is that the reason you say that is that you believe in democracy, but only when your side wins, because you are intolerant of any beliefs other than your own. Come to think of it, that means you don't believe in democracy at all.

See, I can be nasty, too. I can't hold a candle to you in the nasty department, but I do my best. I am not, after all, a registered Democrat.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

And Now We Know

We have now received an answer to the ineffable question, "Can the Chargers lose to an 0-14 team?"

Well, I guess it's no longer an ineffable question, since I just effed it, so to speak, which makes it an effable question, but in any case the answer is, "Yes indeed, they most certainly can." Sigh.

They found a new way to accomplish that feat, at least. After losing games due to the offense falling in its face, and due to the defense doing a pratfall, and due to the special teams not catching and/or fumbling the ball, this game they lost by missing field goals and/or having them blocked.

Browns 20, Chargers 17. They are not boring, they are merely pitiful.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

More Economic Idiocy

Dean Baker illustrates today why economists should be put into a pickle barrel and stored in a deep basement. He has long argued against the adage that the problem with Obamacare is that, “Not enough young healthy people are signing up for health insurance,” by insisting that older people are healthy too, and that the real problem is that not enough older healthy people are signing up for health insurance.

In today’s piece he claims that, “the age distribution of enrollees has little impact on the cost of the program," notwithstanding his statement in the same piece that, “on average the older enrollees are a net drain on the system.” What?

Not satisfied with making such contradictory statements, he then disproves the first and and proves the second by saying that “people in the oldest age bracket pay premiums that are three times as large as people in the youngest age bracket,” and that, “older enrollees will cost the system about 3.5 times as much as young enrollees.”

Dean Baker does not seem to understand the meaning of the word “average.” Immediately after saying that, “On average, the older enrolllees will cost the system about 3.5 times as much as young enrollees,” he proceeds too insist that, “a large number of people in the older age band are every bit as healthy as people in the youngest age band.”

The latter statement is undoubtedly true, but working against his so-called “logic” is that on average they are not, and averages are what insurance is all about. If you continue to sign up large numbers of older people you will sign up far more unhealthy people than healthy ones.

If, on the other hand, you sign up large numbers of young people you will sign up far more healthy people than unhealthy ones, and that is the point that is being made when people say that, “Not enough young healthy people are signing up for health insurance.”

It would probably make the point more clearly to say that, “Not enough young people, who are predominantly healthy, are signing up for health insurance,” but only someone intent on proving the idiocy inherent in being an economist, like Dean Baker, would argue the point being made by the statement as issued.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Going Down Fighting

For decades, the United States has enjoyed by far the world’s highest standard of living, and have happily lived in the illusion that that could last forever. Reality is being forced upon us now in the form of what “globalization” really means, and we don’t like it. We are living in denial with promises to “bring those jobs back,” but reality is going to win. It always does.

It has always been assumed that when world’s standard of living equalized that it would be because the rest of the world brought their circumstances up to match ours, but since we have been 5% of the world’s population consuming 25% of the world’s resources, that was never possible. Doomsayers who pointed out that that any such equalization would require that our standard of living must decline were reviled and/or ignored.

And so one party promises to “bring those jobs back,” which it cannot do, and the other raises the minimum wage because it has nothing to offer other than an economy based on minimum wage jobs, many of which require a college degree with concomitant educational-incurred debt.

“Going down fighting” is not always an admirable trait. We could make this transition gracefully, but we won’t, because we will never admit that it needs to be made.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Banner Year

After winning the Mountain West Championship for the second consecutive year, the Aztecs went to Las Vegas yesterday as three point underdogs and won by a score of 34-10.

During the game Donnel Pumphrey ran for 115 yards, bringing his career total to 6,405 yards, the most career yards by any running back in the history of college football. Rashaad Penny ran for only 10 yards, but it gave him 1000 yards for the season, and the Aztecs two 1000 runners in one year.

On defense, the Aztecs had four interceptions in the game, giving them 26 for the year. That is the most in college football this year, 5 ahead of Wisconsin, which has 21.

Congratulations to Rocky Long (aka "Captain Sunshine") and all the players of the San Diego State University Aztecs.

Friday, December 16, 2016

WMDs Redux

I watched CNN for a little while today, and a little bit of MSNBC, and the hysteria over purported Russian interference with the election is reaching really quite amazing levels, stoked by both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. Both are claiming that Putin was personally directing said interference, and Clinton asserts that it is because he has a personal grudge against Hillary Clinton. Those are her words, “…because he has a personal grudge against me.”

We have seen this before. Precisely this same level of hysteria and same type of political messaging, when the intelligence agencies were entirely in agreement that Iraq had WMDs, the same "we are on the same page" that is being presented today. I am watching right now the same tenor and manner of rhetoric, the same declarations of “threat to our democracy,” that I watched in the run up to the Iraq war.

This is leading up to something, and it is getting ugly. Not sure what I think is afoot, but I am beginning to suspect that there might be a serious plan to attempt to prevent Donald Trump from taking office. The anti-Russia rhetoric is getting out of control and I fear that it may instead lead to open hostility, even war, with Russia.

We need some grownups to tone this down, but there are no grownups.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Losing Badly

I thought Republicans, and conservatives generally, behaved quite badly when they lost the election to Obama; promptly vowing not to allow him to implement his agenda as president.

Their response was childlike innocence compared to that of Democrats, and liberals generally, upon losing the election to Trump; in that they are trying to deny him not only his agenda, but the office itself.

I don't recall any Republicans/conservatives saying of Obama after he was elected that, "We're not going to let him be president."

Witness efforts to corrupt the Electoral College by persuading members to violate their duty to vote as voters have directed them to do. Clearly they believe in democracy only when their side wins.

Then there are claims that the FBI corrupted the election by saying that the Democratic nominee was not guilty of any indictable offenses; a rather odd charge and hard to connect with discrediting a candidate. “Not guilty” is bad?

Then there was the recount fiasco. I say fiasco because it never gained any traction, was halted in two states by federal judges, and in the one state where it was completed the Republican gained 137 votes.

Weirdest of all, though is the charge that Russia interfered with the election; a charge that is backed only by unsubstantiated charges from unnamed “intelligence officials.” There is no proof offered because there is none to be had, but Obama is going to the length of vowing action against Russia for doing god knows what based on evidence that no one can produce.

Notice that not one single Democratic spokesman has denied the truthfulness of allegations made in the “hacked” (actually “leaked”) material, so they are not claiming that Russia interfered in our election by spreading lies, but rather that Russia interfered in our election by spreading the truth; truth that the Democrats did want to be known by the public.

Russia has not yet said how they feel about the United States punishing them for telling the truth about our politicians, an act which must be especially galling since there is no evidence offered that they actually did it.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Media Continues to Fail

CBS Evening News runs daily segments on the horrors of Aleppo, where the “Russian-backed” Syrian regime (or Syrian dictatorship) is slaughtering civilians in the process of liberating that city from US-backed rebels.

Sorry, I misspoke. They don’t say “US-backed rebels,” in fact they don’t say “rebels” at all. They say, “after five years of bloody civil war.”

They don’t offer any proof, of course, because there isn’t any. They show civilians calmly walking out of Aleppo, although many are understandably weeping as they exit a war zone, and tell us that these are the few civilians that didn’t get slaughtered by the Syrian Army.

They do not provide any reports of the ongoing devastation in Yemen, where the attacking forces are Saudi and are backed by the United States, nor do they report from Mosul, a city being liberated from ISIS by Iraqi forces also backed by the United States.

Presumably no such reporting is required because no civilians are being killed in these major assaults, notwithstanding that the Saudis are bombing cities in Yemen, and Mosul is a Sunni city being liberated by a Shiite army. Nothing to see here, move along.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016


There was a thing on Facebook where a father really needed to chastise his kids for getting into the paint cans and making a mess of themselves, but could not stop laughing long enough to do so. Took me back to my teenage years when I did that to my father more than once.

I developed a fascination with making depth charges. This consisted of a classic pipe bomb using homemade black powder, a large paint can mostly filled with sand, and some dynamite fuse which burns even when there is no air. Put the pipe bomb in the paint can, fill it with sand, light the fuse, hammer the lid on and drop it into some deep water. The results are awesome, but don’t try this at home. It’s illegal today, and probably was then.

My first test was in a new garbage can my father had just bought, filled with water. Not, it turns out, one of my better plans because I had no innocent way to explain the thirty-gallon colander that was lying in the alley when the local cop showed up. He didn’t do anything Well he did the worst thing possible. He said he would come back after my Dad got home. Shit.

The cop showed up and related his story, and I related about how I had seen this movie with the Navy dropping depth charges and wanted to replicate the effect, and Dad started getting all outraged and parental, but then he started laughing. Then the cop started laughing. They finally gave up any attempt at keeping a straight face; the cop left, Dad sent me to my room and told me the next day that I had to buy him a new garbage can.

He forgot to tell me not to build any more depth charges. Or maybe he told me and I forgot. It was a long time ago, and I may have had a habit of not always doing what I was told.

I built four depth charges, big ones, and took them down to the river. Standing in the middle of the bridge, I lit them one by one and dropped them in the river, then waited for the explosions. The first one went off just as the local cop, same cop, was driving over the bridge, and the geyser of water was a good ten feet higher than the bridge railing.

Thinking fast, I ran to the cop, freaking out and screaming that there had been an explosion and pointing at where the water had shot up and saying that he should do something because, “Oh my God.” He did not believe one single word; got out of his car, leaned his butt against the fender, folded his arms and gave me the stink eye.

I continued my Sergeant Shultz protest of “I know nothing” and kept insisting that he investigate until the second depth charge went off. I then did a little dance about, “Oh my God there’s another one. Do something, do something,” which he still wasn’t buying. He knew me too well; but still, I had been standing right beside him when it went off.

We walked to the bridge railing and were looking down at the water when the third one went off. It was quite spectacular, and we had to step back to keep from getting wet. By now he is actually beginning to believe me until he says something about that being all of them and without thinking I said, “No, there’s one more.” Shit.

The sumbitch actually hand cuffed me. He later admitted that he only did it because he was so pissed off at me for making him believe my “innocent” act, like he was the only one who ever fell for it. Everybody fell for it.

He didn’t take me to jail, though, he took me home where Mother sent me to my room and told me to stay there until my father got home. That was routine enough, but when Dad got home he didn’t come to my room or call me to the living room. Hmmm. Then the cop showed up, and after a few minutes he and Dad went out and sat in the cop’s car for quite a while. That was making me nervous.

Finally the cop left and Dad came back in and, after another considerable delay, called me in and announced my punishment. I don’t recall what it was, but it wasn’t anything very severe, and I found out much later that the delay had been to allow the laughter to subside. That did, however, bring an end to the depth bombing adventure.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Sort of Wierd

I've been keeping photos which I display on the blog on the server which hosted my website. So I decide to establish a "Google Photo" account for that purpose, and explore how to put pictures on the blog from that account. It turns out I have to select pictures not "From Google Album Archive," as one might expect, but "From your phone." My phone is about the only electronic thing I have that is not connected to Google. Odd.

I know I can simply upload from my computer to the blog, but then they are stored in some arcane place in hyperspace and I can't do anything else with them. It's beginning to look like the same applies to Google Photos, though, so I'm not sure where to go from here.

Friday, December 09, 2016

"It's a Scam!"

The left is finding out, to its dismay, that presidential politics is a scam. Naomi Prins writes yesterday at Tom Dispatch that, “Only a month has passed since November 8th, but it’s already clear (not that it wasn’t before) that Trump’s anti-establishment campaign rhetoric was the biggest scam of his career,” because he is naming members of the wealthy elite “to various key posts in his future administration.”

Why she is shocked about this escapes me, but members of the left are delicate flowers who are easily shocked when they want to be, and who can remain oblivious to identical earthquakes which happen on their own territory. Ms. Prins seemed unfazed when Barack Obama campaigned for tens of months on the fundamental theme of “changing Washington,” and then chose virtually all of Bill Clinton’s administration to serve as his own, including a Wall Street billionaire for Treasury.

I will give Ms. Prins credit for not claiming that Donald Trump’s anti-establishment scam was the “biggest of all time,” in that she had the good sense not to compare this scam to anyone else’s anti-establishment scam.

Sort of like Casablanca. "I am shocked to find that gambling is going on."

Thursday, December 08, 2016

Baker on Productivity

Dean Baker authored a piece Monday which centered around the economist’s perception of the effect of productivity on the standard of living which is enjoyed by the working class, namely that increased productivity leads to “improvements in living standards and more leisure.”

One needs to understand that increased productivity means that more work is achieved by fewer hours of labor, meaning less employment, so I can understand the “more leisure” part, but I don’t quite understand how they think that’s a good thing.

I also don't understand how they think it leads to a higher standard of living for the working class, given that it means fewer working hours and less pay. It does, of course, lead to better living standards for business owners, since more work performed for less wages paid means higher profits.

The claim is often made that “increased productivity leads to higher wages,” but the claim is nonsensical. An employer makes an investment in automation so that he can employ fewer workers to produce the same amount, and then he diminishes the effect of that investment by raising the wages of the remaining employees? I don’t think so, unless he is provided with an incentive to do so.

Organized labor provides such an incentive, requiring the employer to raise wages as a trade off for employees accepting the introduction of the automation. It should be noted, though, that is not increased productivity which led to the increase in wages, it is collective bargaining by organized labor which did so. In the absence of organization on the part of workers, increased productivity is a negative for the work force.

Baker concludes his piece by saying that “if Lee is right and higher wages are leading to more rapid productivity growth, this is great news.” Great news for macroeconomic figures, perhaps but, since the productivity increase is caused by fewer jobs, certainly not great news for working men and women.

Baker countered my comment along the above lines by saying that, “we had very rapid automation in the quarter century from 1947 to 1973. It was associated with low unemployment and rapid wage growth.” When I pointed out, “we were rebuilding a world shattered by war and we had no competition,” his response was that, “having richer more productive economies as customers and sources of goods should make us richer.”

Sigh. “Richer more productive economies” are not customers, they are competitors. We do not sell to them, we buy from them, which impoverishes us, and they sell to what used to be our customers. That's why we no longer have “low unemployment and rapid wage growth” as we did in Baker’s favorite quarter century.

Monday, December 05, 2016

Let's Change The Rules

So, okay, we played a football game Sunday. The other team kicked three field goals and my team lost by four points. So I say, "Wait a minute. If field goals only counted for one point, then my opponent would have scored six fewer points and my team would have won. It isn't fair. We should change the rules so that field goals only count one point."

We cannot, however, leave aside that if field goals only counted one point my opponent would not have kicked field goals, but would have gone for it on fourth down, made it two out of three times and scored two touchdowns, winning the game anyway.

You play the game under the rules that are in place, and the rules that were in place for this election were the electoral college. The candidates campaigned based on those rules and voters voted based on those rules. The popular vote cannot be considered dispositive when neither candidate campaigned in California, for instance, because the state was assured for the Democratic candidate, and when countless California Republicans did not bother to vote because they knew that their vote was utterly meaningless due to the electoral college process.

In an election that would be determined by the popular vote, both candidates would have campaigned in California, and far more California Republicans would have voted, and that's just one state. The Democrats need to accept their loss and move on.

Sunday, December 04, 2016

Paul Krugman is Bitter

I said some time ago that Democrats are remarkably poor losers, and in his blog post Tuesday Paul Krugman provides a sterling example of my point.

He talking about the Carrier jobs that Trump prevented from being moved to Canada, and starts out by saying 75,000 workers lose their jobs every day and Trump only saved 800 jobs so we should not bother reporting on saving them because it's trivial, nothing more than a "rounding error" on the national jobs picture. I doubt those 800 people and their families feel the same way. Anyway, he then reveals that he's saying that the media should not report on saving those 800 jobs because it was Donald Trump that did it, not Hillary Clinton.

He goes on to say that not only was it trivial, it actually was not a good thing. It was really something called "crony capitalism," which is a bad thing. Well, it's a bad thing when a Republican does it. Receiving $250,000 for a ten-minute speech is also crony capitalism, but it's okay when a Democrat does it.

He is filled with dread that we are going to be having to read news stories about Donald Trump for the next four years because of "a descent into banana republic governance." Or maybe for the same reason that we read Barack Obama stories for eight years.

It's a really nasty piece, and richly illustrates precisely what's wrong with the Democratic Party.