Monday, February 27, 2017

What The Hell Was That?

Something happened in Daytona Beach yesterday, and it was televised, but it certainly was not anything even resembling a stock car race. Of forty cars which started the event, only five were not involved in at least one multi-car wreck. Interestingly, it was not one of those five which finished in the front, in part because no fewer than six cars ran out of gas in the last two laps, including three cars that were leading when their engines sputtered and quit.

I have not seen so much stupidity in one place since the last State Of The Union address, when 535 idiots were assembled in one place. There were fewer than that at Daytona Beach speedway yesterday afternoon, but they made up for it in degree of stupidity.

Drivers were deciding to go four wide on a three lane race track, “assist pushing” the car in front of them by hitting him so hard that the rear wheels were lifted off of the pavement, and trying to fit their cars into openings that were half a car length long.

A dozen crew chiefs decided after pitting with 53 laps remaining that their cars were “good to go” on fuel, despite the standard fuel window being 44-48 laps. None of them were able to explain later what they thought was going to keep the engines running for the additional 5+ laps.

Between the 500 yesterday and similar carnage in the Xfinity and Truck series events the preceding two days, NASCAR probably added a full percentage point to the GDP in car repair costs in just one weekend.

Saturday, February 25, 2017


Politically liberal writers say that voters should vote in the best interest of themselves; to preserve Social Security and Medicare, to cut taxes, to tax the rich, etc. We owe it to ourselves, they tell us, to obtain as much as we can for ourselves by the use of our vote.

America as a nation, these same writers tell us, should act abroad in the best interest of this nation. We should take whatever actions serve us best, declare whatever war will “keep us safe,” impose sanctions on other nations whenever their actions do not serve our purpose, etc. Because our only concern in the implementation of foreign policy should be serving the interests of our own nation.

But when a business acts in its own interest, they regard that as evil.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Important Innovation

We cannot yet send people to Mars, but we can put Welsh's Grape Jelly in a squeeze bottle! The opening is even a slot so the the jelly comes out in nice neat a ribbon. Awesome! You do have to be sure you are getting the jelly, though, because a peanut butter and grape jam sandwich sucks.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Now Climate Change Means Floods

I do not argue against the point being made that the planet is gaining in heat content, nor that it is in part being caused by human activity. I am, however, getting tired of the hyperbolic predictions as to what that means for the future; predictions which are almost certainly wrong and are made primarily for political reasons.

I remember not too many years ago when it was predicted that when the population of Earth reached seven billion there would be mass starvation and world wars over the availability of food and water resources. That population level has been met and exceeded and, while the US is fomenting considerable violence in the Middle East, the world is seeing less war than has been the case in several centuries, and where starvation exists it does so for localized economic and war-related reasons.

For almost twenty years we have been being told that the deepening drought in California was almost certainly permanent as a result of global warming, and now we are being told that the current year's pattern of frequent and heavy rain may become the norm in California, rather than drought, due to "atmospheric rivers" which are caused by global warming.

Again, I do not doubt that the planet is warming and that it is a problem, but I have some sympathy for "climate deniers" given that the predictions for the effects of the issue tend to be hyperbolic and contradictory.

Monday, February 20, 2017

A Confused Movement

The growing movement which oddly calls itself “The Resistance” seems more and more confusing to me, even in that they are calling themselves by that name. What is bizarre, however, is the increasing clamor for impeachment of the newly-elected President.

First, “resistance” is what one does against a totalitarian government. In a democracy, those on the losing side of an election are called “the minority” and remain part of governance, in the legislature and the electorate.

When Obama won and Democrats took control of the legislature, conservatives vowed to prevent the implementation of a liberal agenda. I did not regard that as a worthy goal, really, but I respected then, and I respect even more so today, that they carried out that goal by working as part of government. They were the “obstructionist minority” in the legislature, and the voters worked to raise votes to get more members of their party elected.

Now, liberals, being on the losing side of the election, are voicing not the goal to remove the winner of the election at the end of his first term by the electoral process, nor to work within government to prevent him from implementing his agenda, but to discredit and remove him from office by strong arm tactics immediately.

What are they thinking? If they succeeded we would have to quit pretending that we are a democracy. No nation in which the losing side can discredit and remove the winner of an election can call itself a democracy.

They seem to have the idea that they can advocate a democracy in which only their side is permitted to win, but an election with only one permissible outcome is the kind of thing that they do in, for instance, Syria.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Not Exactly James Bond Types

A great many phrase come to mind for describing the people of San Diego, lots of them very complimentary, but “stout hearted” is not one of them.

I was in the grocery store yesterday, which was quite crowded, and two employees were discussing the reason for the press of business. “They’re getting ahead of the storm,” said one to the other, and I had to laugh, because he was undoubtedly correct.

In most parts of the country, “getting ahead of the storm” means stocking up in anticipation of a hurricane, or perhaps five feet of snow. In San Diego it means hunkering down due to a prediction for 1-2” of rain. Actually, you can be driving down the freeway in San Diego on a clear, sunshiney day, throw a glass of water out the window, and cause a five car pileup.

Yes, I was in the store. I was making spaghetti sauce for dinner and needed some fresh mushrooms.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Abuse of Power

From the Washington Post, in an article regarding the resignation of National Security Advisor Flynn, “…Trump tried to shift attention from damaging questions about contact with Russia by Flynn and others close to the President.”

So not only do we not need evidence of wrongdoing to bring down a public person, we no longer need a direct accusation either; merely questioning the actions of that person will do.

We have not needed evidence, proof, of wrongdoing for some years. Accusations have sufficed; accusations for which no evidence has been offered and for which no evidence has been asked. The accusation is merely repeated with sufficient frequency that it becomes accepted as truth.

The German Propaganda Ministry perfected this method of turning lies into truth in the 1930’s. Do not argue; do not offer evidence; do not discuss logically; merely keep repeating the lie.

Now, with this phrase “damaging questions,” we no longer even need to make accusations, we merely need to ask questions in order to bring down a public person.

I no longer need to accuse, say, a pastor of being a closet homosexual in order to get him fired from his pulpit. I could be sued for making such an accusation, or I could be required to prove my case. I now merely need to ask if he is a closet homosexual and the damage is done. No one can demand that I provide evidence, because I merely asked a question.

If I repeat that “damaging question” frequently enough the pastor, who in reality is totally heterosexual and has never been even slightly affectionate with another male person, will become unacceptable to his parish and will lose his job.

Such is the power of the press, and its use in this manner is an abuse of power.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Silliness Abounds

If I were to write a compendium of stupid comments I have read it would weigh several hundred pounds. Hell, such a compendium rendered on microfilm would probably weigh several hundred pounds. Some of the comments would probably be mine, made when somebody pissed me off, but most of them would be from people who think they are smart and that they are giving highly intelligent opinion or advice.

Case in point; “So, the Resistance are doing something effective, and important: They are showing up to town halls and holding their congress members feet to the fire. This is what the Tea Party did, and it works.”

He is referring to crowds coming to “town hall” meetings and screaming continuously so that no one can speak, which is not political activism, but is a bunch of children throwing a collective tantrum. That seems to be about as close as today’s voting public can come to political awareness, but it is not “what the Tea Party did” and it most certainly is not going to solve anything.

What the Tea Party did was have the courage of their convictions, something that "progressives" (who used to have the courage to call themselves "liberals") seem to lack these days. I don’t particularly admire the convictions, to be sure, but I do admire the manner in which the held on to them with great courage and stamina.

If a Republican office holder did not live up to the standards of the party they "primaried" him and threw him out of office. If they had to lose an election in order to do that, then they were willing to do that in order to get the message to remaining Republicans. "Live up to the principles of the party or we will throw you out." Because of them there is a unified, powerful Republican party which blocked a Democratic-controlled government and now controls both houses of Congress and occupies the White House.

Progressives (who used to be "liberals" but no longer have the courage to call themselves that) are so afraid of losing an election that they will not challenge an incumbent in the primary, no matter how often or flagrantly that incumbent votes in violation of Democratic party principles. We will not take a chance of running a challenger in the general because if we do a Republican might beat us out.

We might go to town hall meetings, screaming and yelling like out of control two-year-olds, but we will not vote our legislators out of office. We know what we are against, but none of us know what we are for.

How’s that working out for us? Republicans control both houses of Congress and occupy the White House because half of our Democrats vote against party principles and repeatedly get reelected. Unlike Tea Party Republicans, "progressives" (who used to have the courage to call themselves "liberals") do not require our elected representatives to actually represent us.

Sunday, February 05, 2017

Massive Choke

I knew when Atlanta was still leading by 16 points that they had choked and were going to throw the game. In the fourth quarter, the defensive secondary was eight yards off of the line of scrimmage, they were rushing Brady with nothing but four exhausted linemen, and they were doing that even in the shadow of their own goal posts.

Brady had scored a couple of touchdowns and Atlanta became panic stricken. Convinced that he is, indeed, invulnerable and can walk on water, they were shitting in their pants and running for their lives.

New England scored 31 unanswered points in barely over one quarter against a team of frightened children hiding under their beds.

Saturday, February 04, 2017

Brain Damage?

There is much angst about concussions in the NFL, but I’m seeing some evidence that perhaps we should be looking a what might be causing brain damage in NASCAR. From a Q&A with Danica Patrick this week, whose team is switching from Chevrolet to Ford;

Q. Have you done anything different to prepare for this season?

A. I don’t think there’s a whole lot to do different. I’ve been more proactive with what it’s going to take to do better, so sitting down with (crew chief) Billy (Scott), I didn’t feel like we really ended up where we wanted to be last year. We felt like we would be better, so I asked the question, ‘What are we going to do different? Because if we’re going to do the same thing, we can only expect the same results. So what can we change that’s going to change that?’

I say all the time that if you want something you’ve never had before, you’re going to have to do something you’ve never done. I think ultimately the most important thing overall is that everybody shows up to work not to (just) work, but to work great and be great. What can we do different? There are some answers and there are some that you don’t have answers for because if you knew the exact answer to be better, you would have done it already.

Shorter version, “There isn’t anything you can do different,” followed by, “we didn’t wind up where we wanted to be last year.” Since she finished 24th in the standings, I would hope not. Then, having been asked what she did different, she tells us that she asked the team what they were going to do different, having just told us there wasn’t anything that could be done different.

It goes downhill from there and ends with the little gem that, “if you knew the exact answer to be better, you would have done it already,” which is just fucking brilliant.

Read the whole thing, because the rest of her answers are equally entertaining and equally uninformative. The writer doesn’t ask her why last year’s sponsor failed to pay the promised sponsorship money, leading to the team’s current lawsuit, but I have an idea that it runs along the line of “Your car was never on television except when it crashed, so we didn’t get our money’s worth.”

Her car was, of course, on television each time the leader passed it to put her another lap down; but that, too, is not the kind of coverage a sponsor really craves.

Thursday, February 02, 2017

Getting It Wrong

A couple of nights ago CBS Evening News ran a segment which included a bit about an attack on a Saudi ship by “Iranian-backed rebels” and suggested that it was possible that they thought they were actually attacking an American ship.

The claim of Iranian backing is spurious, since support from Iran for the rebels has never been anything more than minimal, and has consisted entirely of food and medical supplies. The idea that they intended to strike an American ship is even further into fantasyland, since there was no American ship within 500 miles at the time, and there is not a scintilla of evidence to support that claim which was made up out of whole cloth.

Similarly, they ran a piece that told us that the Army Corps of Engineers might be ordered to issue a permit for the final segment of the Dakota pipeline, which they said would go under a reservoir that supplies drinking water for the local tribe.

Actually, the Corps would be ordered to reinstate the permit, which had been issued before construction on the pipeline was begun and after public hearings were held, and then withdrawn by the Obama administration for popularity reasons. The pipeline goes nowhere near the reservation or its drinking water supply. The segment in question crosses under the Missouri River, and the crossing is eight miles downstream from where drinking water is taken for local supply.

The first amendment to our constitution is based on the need for “a well informed public.” It is not serving that purpose.