Friday, March 30, 2018

Burden of Proof

The Council for Education and Research on Toxics filed a lawsuit to force coffee sellers to advertise that its product poses a risk for cancer and won, based on the judge's conclusion that Starbucks had failed to prove that coffee does not pose a risk of causing cancer.

Interesting legal theory. If you are sued for causing the death of your neighbor's barking dog by witchcraft, for instance, are you guilty if you are unable to prove that the charge is untrue?

Open Mouth, Insert Foot

From the glorified blog posing as a newspaper, The Hill,

Hillary Clinton is striking back at critics telling her to “shut up” following her 2016 loss, saying, “They never said that to any man who was not elected.”

That's because nobody needed to. Yes, Al Gore went on to become an advocate for climate change concerns, John Kerry ran for the Senate and John McCain remained there, but no man went on a speaking circuit giving speeches about nothing other than why they lost the election to a brain dead carnival barker.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Of Course The Irony is Missed

Facebook was widely lauded as a wonderful and valuable instrument of social change when it was credited as a prime mover of "color revolutions" in the Middle East. It is, however, being demonized when it is claimed to have had an effect on a US presidential election.

One has to wonder to what degree the demonization is due to the influence having been utilized by the wrong party. Would the media have cried foul if Cambridge Analytica had been working in behalf of the party of the left?

Monday, March 26, 2018

The New Orleans Saints Again

Some years ago it was revealed that the New Orleans Saints football team management and coaches were offering bonus money, and paying it, to players who deliberately injured key players on opposing teams. Management and coaches were fined and in some cases suspended by the NFL as punishment, but when the NFL tried to pursue similar punishment with respect to the players who took payment for inflicting the injuries to players, the Saints chapter of the NFL Players Union sued claiming that the NFL did not have the authority to do that under the terms of the union contract (known as the “players’ agreement”).

Now we have another reason to despise the New Orleans Saints.

It turns out that they have a set of rules which, they claim, are designed to protect their cheerleaders from being hit on by the players. These rules require that the cheerleaders may not contact or talk to the players, but there is no corresponding rule forbidding the players to contact or talk to the cheerleaders. Further, “If a cheerleader enters a restaurant and a player is already there, she must leave. If a cheerleader is in a restaurant and a player enters afterward, she must leave.” There are no similar rules pertaining to conduct by players.

I will continue to encourage victory for any team playing against the New Orleans Saints, including (sigh) the New England Patriots, as difficult as that may be for me.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Always Stoke Fears

When more than one interpretation can me made, or more than one conclusion drawn, from a statement, the media and/or pundits will always chose the one that stokes fear.

Form a March 20th New York Times story about things that go bump in the night could derail the economic recovery, “In February, markets tumbled after a report showing unexpectedly strong wage growth revived long-dormant fears of inflation.”

Strong wage growth posed as a negative for business due to inflation. Given that consumer spending is 70% of our economy, and that consumers are wage earners, why was strong wage growth not seen as a fuel which would increase consumer spending?

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Hurry Up

I cannot wait for that silly-ass Chinese space lab to come down so that we will no longer be bombarded with headlines about its impending fall and nobody knowing where it will burn up and how many pieces will hit the Earth and nobody knowing where they will hit.

Spousal Anxiety

Light switches rarely go bad, but in a forty-year-old house anything can happen, so when my wife left the house yesterday I was in the process of replacing a light switch and she was in a state of anxiety about it.

Electricity scares her to death, and it doesn't help for me to point out that electrical work is the one thing for which I have actual training, since I was an Electrician's Mate in the US Navy and the government trained me very thoroughly for that task. I then worked as an industrial maintenance electrician for some years after I got out of the Navy.

None of that helps, and she is convinced that when I am doing something electrical someday she is going to come home and find me dead. I have a suspicion that she leaves because she doesn't want to watch me die horribly, but she denies that.

When she got home she carefully did not express her relief that I was still alive, but did comment that the switch I replaced was whiter than the one next to it, and readily accepted my explanation that it was because it was forty years newer. She then noted that the new switch was upside down, and I don't think she was entirely convinced by my assertion that I had done that on purpose.

If that seems at odds with the "very thorough" training I received while I was in the Navy, I can only tell you that it was a domestic switch of a type that the Navy does not use.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

On Anger

Anger has much in common with fire. Like fire, it can serve us well when stoked by proper fuel and kept within the confines of vessels which control it, or it can destroy us when overfed and/or allowed outside the places where it can be of use to us.

The anger that is bred of an unjust act against me or against someone who matters to me is like a cooking fire or a coal stove. Such anger moves me to right a wrong or to take action which betters my environment. It does me no harm, and indeed invigorates me. It moves me into actions which benefit others.

There is another anger that is like a forest fire; that harms and can destroy me. That anger is the one born from the cult of self; anger raised because someone does not agree with my opinion, anger raised because someone takes an action of which I disapprove and, worst of all, anger raised because it is a feeling that I prefer to that of experiencing fear.

That last surprises you? Many of us manifest depression, which is fear turned inward, as anger. We become angry if we fear that someone or something will deprive us of what we have or will deny us access to what we want.

The origin of the useful anger lies outside of myself, and since my anger resolution is aimed at the source the anger is resolved, the social or physical environment is bettered and I am left at peace.

Anger which has its roots inside me, in my unmet expectations or my unexpressed and often unrecognized fear, starts a vicious circle. Perceiving the source of the anger to be outside of myself, I aim my resolution efforts at that which is not the source, and allow that anger, like a forest fire, to grow larger and larger, to feed on itself, and ultimately to destroy all that it comes in contact with, mostly me.

When I abandon the cult of self, when I turn outward from self and expand my intellectual and emotional horizon to include others, then anger and fear lose their ability to control my life. It happens automatically. It is the inevitable result of the turn toward others and expansion of my horizons.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

It Means What It Means

In political argument, the point being made means whatever you want it to mean, and proves whatever you want it to prove. The same citation, actually, can prove diametrically opposite positions depending on the point you are trying to make at the moment.

We know, for instance, that Vladimir Putin personally interfered in the 2016 presidential election because computer experts have traced his fingerprints through the internet and have tracked the computer hacking backward to a computer that sits right on his desk, in a room to which no one but him has a key.

Well, maybe not, but you get my point. Claims are made that the “interference in the election,” and the hacking into Hillary Clinton’s email servers have been traced to specific computers which prove beyond any shadow of doubt that Russia, under the direction of Putin himself, interfered in the election.

Now Putin announces that Russian nuclear weapons have been upgraded in response to a Trump policy in which nuclear weapons may be used in response to a cyber attack. MIT’s Theodore Postol tells us, an a Real News Network interview cited by Naked Capitalism, that Putin should have ignored that policy as an empty threat because it was unrealistic.

Postol says in the interview that as to, “the issue of using low yield nuclear warheads in conventional military situations or in response to a cyber attack, first of all, I don’t know how you would know where the cyber attack came from.” He goes on to say that, “anybody who’s even modestly competent, even some of these hackers who really are not very competent people, you can hide your address, your location from anybody you’re attacking.”

So when the Obama administration wants to blame Russia for interfering with our election, yes we can trace the cyber attack to its source, but when Russia defends itself against Trump administration threats against it, no we certainly cannot trace the cyber attack to its source. Isn’t that convenient?

Wednesday, March 07, 2018

Not a Manchurian Candidate

From the New Yorker magazine, written by Jane Mayer, comes a serious and scholarly resume of Christopher Steele, the guy who exposed President Trump as a guy whom, among other things, likes to be urinated on by Russian whores. Steele told us that Vladimir Putin watched this being done, in fact, and would therefor be able to use that information to blackmail Trump into turning this nation into a vassal state of Russia.

Well, okay, maybe a little bit hyperbolic, but every bit as serious as the subject matter warrants. New Yorker obviously thinks differently, however, as they pay this…, this…, this person big bucks to write an article telling us how the “Steele Dossier” came to be written.

“In January, after a long day at his London office, Christopher Steele, the former spy turned private investigator, was stepping off a commuter train in Farnham, where he lives, when one of his two phones rang,” the piece begins, so now we know that the guy is so important that he carries two phones. The pace is brisk right from the beginning.

Notwithstanding his importance, she goes on to tell us, still in the first paragraph, he, “looks much like the other businessmen heading home, except for the fact that he kept his phones in a Faraday bag—a pouch, of military-tested double-grade fabric, designed to block signal detection.”

Which implies that you can tell by looking at him where he "keeps his phones," and, um, wait a minute. If he keeps his phones in a “Faraday bag” which blocks electronic signals, how did the phone ring? An average eighth grader knows that for a cell phone to ring, an electronic signal has to reach it.

I can’t tell you about the rest of the article because I stopped reading at that point. I don’t read dime novels written by idiots.

Sunday, March 04, 2018


MIT published a report saying that a study had revealed that the vast majority of Uber and Lyft drivers make net earnings of less than minimum wage, and that fully a third of them are actually losing money by driving in this "sharing economy" business. That's not the stunning part; hardly surprises me, in fact.

What's stunning is that it took an MIT study to bring it to public attention. If our schools were graduating people with real educations, this "sharing economy" nonsense would never have gotten off of the ground, because the basic economics of income and costs is dead simple and the drivers would have realized within a month of starting the work that driving your own car for someone else's profit is a losing proposition.

Also stunning is that Uber responded to the report by saying that MIT's study protocol was "deeply flawed." Of course it was.