Sunday, June 30, 2019

Maybe the Rules Are Wrong.

I swear, Formula 1 deliberately looks for ways to screw up their product. They finally had an exciting race today. Close racing pretty much start to finish, with a pass for the lead on lap 89 of 91. Then the officials announced that there may have been a rule infraction on the winning pass. When the television station had to leave the air, 45 minutes after the end of the race, officials had not yet announced a decision as to the possible infraction, so we did not know who actually won the race.

How are the race drivers supposed to comply with the rules when the officials do not know how to enforce them? It takes as much as an hour to decide whether or not a driver's action was in accordance with a rule, so how is a driver supposed to make that decision when he is piloting a car at speeds in excess of 200 mph?

NASCAR has a similar problem. The cars go through a "technical inspection" before each race, which they often fail as many as three times. A three time failure draws severe penalties, even though a failure may be by as little as .001" from the standard. Perhaps the problem is not the teams and their mechanics. Perhaps the problem is the ridiculous expectations set by the rules.

Update, 12:20pm: Formula 1 finally announced no penalty for the pass, and Max Verstappen was allowed to keep his well earned win.

Unlike the race in Canada where the win was taken from him because the stewards deemed that he had made an "unsafe return to the track." It took them more than 20 minutes to arrive at that conclusion, but somehow Max was supposed to arrive at the same conclusion in a fraction of a second while driving a car at over 100 mph in the grass with treadless tires. Sort of like driving on black ice and hitting your brakes. It would have been a disasterous move on his part, would have wrecked both him and the car trying to pass him, and yet after 20 minutes of deliberation that was the decision the stewards concluded he should have made.

Saturday, June 29, 2019

How Does That Help?

Kamela Harris raised her hand when asked, "How many of you have a health care plan which would abolish private insurance?" Turns out, of course, to be the wrong position because millions of people want to keep their present private insurance plan. She changed her position, saying that she "didn't understand the question."

So she gets that people won't vote for someone who wants to abolish private insurance, apparently, but why does she think that people will vote for a person who cannot understand a simple question like the one that was asked? It wasn't a trick question, and it wasn't one of Todd's lengthy inane lecture type questions. It was stated precisely as above.

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Only in California

It's not just what California does; sometimes it's the way they do it, or the reasons that are given for doing it.

This state recently allowed those in the country illegally to obtain drivers licenses. I have no real problem with that; other states have done the same. My problem was the reason given by then Governor Moonbeam. "We want them to be safe as they drive to and from work." First, how does having a drivers license make them safe while they are driving? Second, people in this country illegally are not allowed to work.

Now California has passed a law restoring the tax penalty for failing to obtain health insurance. I have no real problem with that either, although I think doing it on a state basis to replace a federal issue is a bit stupid. It does not, however, apply to those who are in the country illegally. They do still qualify for the subsidy if they do choose to obtain health insurance, though, through the "Covered California" health insurance program.

Short form, no penalty if you don't, but cash assistance if you do. But only for illegals. Those who are here legally pay a penalty if they don't. In California, you are treated better by the state if you are illegal.

The program, "Covered California," is a real doozy, too. The ins and outs are complex, but along with the new penalty law the state winds up taking money from people who make between $30,000 and $50,000 and gives it to people making as much as $150,000.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Time to Panic?

"According to Pentagon officials, vessels secretly controlled by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps Navy (IRGCN) fired several missiles at the U.S. destroyers USS Maddox (DD-731) and USS Turner Joy (DD-951) yesterday while they cruised in the Gulf of Tonkin, just off the coast of Vietnam. The missiles failed to strike either warship.

The move came as a shock to Seventh Fleet, which expected Iran to attack U.S. forces on the other side of the world in the Persian Gulf."

Relax. The quote is taken from The Duffel Blog.

Monday, June 24, 2019

Drunken Voting

I suspect that most people believe that the reason bars and liquor stores are closed on election day is because the government doesn’t want to have people voting while they are drunk. Actually, the reason has to do with a law against “buying votes,” because politicians used to get people to come to the polls by buying them drinks when they did so. They assumption was that the voter would vote for whoever bought them the drink which brought them to the voting booth.

It’s still illegal to buy votes, but only if the politician uses his own money or campaign funds. It’s perfectly legal to buy votes with taxpayer money, such as by promising jobs or government programs, which Democrats got to first with their promise of “a car in every garage and a chicken in every pot,” along with FDR’s “New Deal.”

In this election Democrats have gone completely nuts with buying votes using taxpayer money. Kamela Harris and several others are offering “reparations” for the “victims of slavery” which ended more than 150 years ago and of which there are no longer any living victims.

Elizabeth Warren has added reparations for “Native Americans” who had their land stolen, perhaps unaware that we’ve already done that by allowing them to legally steal money from the white man in their casinos. She also wants to provide reparations to same sex couples who overpaid taxes because they weren’t allowed to get married, because the only reason for getting married is to pay lower taxes.

Most of the Democratic candidates want to cancel most or all student loans because… Well, they don’t really say why other than that repaying the loans is hard. They don’t claim that the loans were imposed against the will of the persons who took them on, and they don’t claim that the college educations were not delivered.

They’ve apparently given up on cancelling home mortgages, which was all the rage in the 2016 election. For some reason they don’t want to cancel or pay off any credit card debt, and they are rigorously trying to pretend that debt due to medical expenses does not exist. They are just hot to trot on student loans.

Andrew Yang is a “direct buy” guy; he wants to just give $1000/month cash to every man, woman and child, $12,000 per year, cash on the barrelhead with no strings attached, for doing nothing. That would be an illegal buying of votes, except that he’s promising taxpayer money, not his own. It's money taken from people who do work for a living and given to people who don't work for a living. To be fair, it's paid to everyone, so it's also given back to people who do work for a living, which is confusing but seems to make sense to Andrew.

Cory Booker is a bit of a piker compared to that, he just wants to give a $5000 one-time payment to each person at time of birth. He calls it “baby bonds” and says that money, if invested in the stock market, could be worth $50,000 when the kid is 18 years old. It could also be worth about 50 cents, but even if he’s right, how far does $50,000 go?

Maybe it would be better to open the bars and let people vote while drunk.

Friday, June 21, 2019

The Latest "Sexual Assault"

No fan of or in any way inclined to defend Donald Trump, but she doesn't remember what time of year it occurred, may have been either in fall or spring, and isn't entirely sure what year it was, just that it was sometime in the ninties. Shades of the ditzy professor from California.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Its All About Priorities

Much is being made of two oil tankers damaged, supposedly, by limpet mines placed on them at some undisclosed location at an unknown time by unknown Iranians. We know it was limpet mines placed by Iran only because one of the mines didn’t explode and we have pictures of a bunch of guys in a boat removing it, who might be Iranians or might be US Navy frogmen with rags on their heads.

The US Navy also displayed shards of the mines that did explode, none bigger than your thumb, and tell us that they are identical to limpet mines that Iran displayed in a military parade. Yes, because if a bolt falls off of your car, I can compare it to a picture I took of your car three years ago and cry, “Aha…”

Not to mention that the phrase, “limpet mines displayed in a military parade,” had to be really difficult for that Navy officer to utter without laughing.

Meanwhile, amid all the outrage over the unproven Iranian attempts to sink two oil tankers, the media is not talking about three things than happened in the same area just a bit over a week earlier.

On June 5, a truck exploded in Iran’s largest container shipping port. The explosion set fire to several oil storage tanks and did heavy damage to the port.

On June 7, six Iranian merchant ships were set ablaze almost simultaneously in two Persian Gulf ports. Five ships “caught fire” in one port, with three of them being completely destroyed and the two others suffering major damage. At nearly the same time at least one cargo ship burst into flames and burned completely at another port nearby. The ship fires were attributed to “incendiary devices” of “unknown origin.”

So the score presently stands at our side, two ships damaged; Iran’s side, three ships lost, three ships damaged, and two shipping ports damaged.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Limited Attention Span

The implantation of a virus in the Russian power grid is another one of those stories that I’m inclined to take with a very large proverbial “grain of salt.” I read about it appearing in the New York Times with its “anonymous officials” attribution, and waited to see what backing it would receive, and as of now it is still just floating like a lone turd in the NYT punchbowl.

Consensus seems to be that we probably didn’t do it, that if we did do it such a virus in a national power grid would probably be pretty useless because power grids don’t work that way, and that we aren’t as smart in computer science as the Russians are so if we did do it they probably already found and removed it. I’m pretty much on board with all three scenarios.

The enormous damage we supposedly created in Iran’s nuclear program with the Stuxnet virus is another story worthy, I think, of serious doubt. The only evidence we have that any damage occurred is that we claim it did, since no one in Iran ever confirmed it. Iran has never complained about anyone messing around with their computer networks, and they are prone to complaining loudly and prolifically about that type of intrusions into their sovereignty.

Meanwhile, back to the Russian power grid virus, the only people complaining about the impropriety of committing this horrible deed were not the Russians, but the Democrats, and they were silenced very rapidly when it was pointed out that it happened during the Obama administration, whereupon the whole thing disappeared from the news cycle, which sort of speaks for itself.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

The Insider Trading Loophole

Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez objects to withdrawing a bill to increase her salary by $4500 per year because keeping salaries unchanged for Congress, “only increases the pressure on members to exploit loopholes like insider trading loopholes to make it on the backend.”

In addition to bad grammar, presumably she knows that insider trading is illegal. There is no “loophole” that permits it for members of Congress. It is illegal.

She goes on to say that voting against pay raises is “superficial.” (She probably means “symbolic,” but…) She claims that not increasing the salaries will “increase the pressure to exploit loopholes” to “enrich oneself from service.”

Because, of course, a member of Congress could not possibly be expected to exist on the paltry salary of $174,000 that presently is paid by our government, and would therefor have to resort to illegal means to obtain additional income in order to get by.

Friday, June 07, 2019

Proving Their Own Guilt

The US Navy is fulminating about an “unsafe approach” between two vessels perpetrated, they claim, by a Russian warship in the Philippine Sea. The Navy bolsters its claim with photographs and a couple of film clips.

There is one small problem with the claim. The photographs and film clips clearly show that the Russian ship is to starboard of the USS Chancellorsville, and therefor is the “privileged vessel” in a meeting or crossing situation. As the “burdened vessel,” it is incumbent upon the USS Chancellorsville to stay clear of the other ship, that is to take whatever action is necessary to avoid collision.

In one photograph the wake of the Russian ship illustrates very clearly that the Russians are turning away from the American ship to avoid collision even though the American ship, as the “burdened vessel,” should be the one maneuvering to stay clear.

There is an exception in those rules, that being that a ship engaged in aircraft operations is privileged regardless of relative positions, and NPR article states that the US ship “was busy recovering a helicopter.” The film clips and photos, however, do not show any evidence of said helicopter being recovered.

What they do show is photos taken from an airborne helicopter which is clearly in no position to be landing on the flight deck at the stern of the ship. The photos are taken from ahead of the ship and, judging from the graininess of the images, are from quite some distance away - half a mile or more.

All of that being so, and the film clips are not even slightly ambiguous, it is actually the US Navy ship that was the perpetrator of the “unsafe approach,” not the Russian ship.

But what really bothers me is that the Navy would make such a claim and then release imagery which so obviously reveals the claim to be false. They claim the Russian ship to have been the intruder, and then release films which show unequivocally that the Russian ship had the right of way. They claim immunity due to being engaged in recovering a helicopter, and then show pictures taken from a helicopter which is clearly not being recovered.

Either the Navy is unbelievably stupid, or they think the public is. Or, perhaps, they are willing to tell lies without caring whether those lies are believed or not.

Oxymoron of the Week

A headline reading, "The Best Veggie Burgers in San Diego."

I didn't read the article. Don't need to. No. Just, no. There is no such thing as "the best veggie burger," in San Diego or anywhere else. Not only, no, but oh hell no.

Tuesday, June 04, 2019

Fair Winds and Following Seas

The San Diego Union-Tribune ran a nice piece on the passing of Lowell North, the world’s leading sailmaker. North was, along with Dennis Conner, a charter member of the Sailing Hall of Fame and a native of San Diego. The piece is a good read and is informative of his outstanding career.

It does not mention his refusal to sell sails to Ted Turner for the America’s Cup in 1977, which is not intended to demean either man. I mention it as an amusing anecdote that illustrates the close (some would say closed) nature of the society that was the sailing community in those days. Admittedly, Ted Turner was not the most charming personality who had ever tried to penetrate that community.

Lowell North had retired from sailmaking and sold his business some years ago, but he will still be missed.