Friday, August 30, 2019

My Father Was Wrong

The headlines read, "Consumers Power US Economy" and "Consumer Spending Props Up GDP." So it turns out that my father did not get it right when he commented many years age that, "Hell, we can't all make a living selling each other hamburgers."

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Logic Does Not Prevail

The name of the show is "America's Got Talent," but it has contestants from South Africa, Germany, Austria... Apparently America does not have enough talent to sustain a talent show.

My wife harasses me about my expectations that people will behave logically. "Dear," she says, patiently, "that person has no idea why they changed lanes, and I won't guarantee you that they even know that they did change lanes."

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Reality-based Reporting

Which statement more accurately reflects reality? "The Dow plunged more than 600 points," or "The Dow dropped 2.3% yesterday." Just asking.

The term "scientist" seems to have lost all meaning. A news item today reports that "scientists" have calculated that if "information" is sent into a black hole which is connected to another black hole in a different universe by a wormhole, then very little of that "information" would make it through to that other universe because most of it would be destroyed by the two black holes.

I am not making this shit up. The "scientists" used "computer models" to make this profound determination.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

What Purpose Tariffs?

If the United States makes blivets, and some other nation makes blivets and is shipping them to this country at a price lower then the ones we make here, then import tariffs on blivets make very good sense. They protect the American makers of blivets by making foreign blivets less competitive with our own and discouraging the foreign country from exporting them to this country.

But when no one in America makes widgets, putting import tariffs on widgets merely results in the American consumer paying a higher price for widgets. The country making the widgets and shipping them to this country could not care less. In this instance, tariffs do not “punish the exporting country.”

Apparently, someone in the White House does not understand that simple principle, because, while some of the things he is putting tariffs on are produced in this country, he is also slapping tariffs on things that we do not produce in this country. In many cases we could produce them, and in some cases we used to produce them, but presently we don’t produce them.

Monday, August 19, 2019

Reality Asserts Itself

When I was a kid, I was growing up in a nation which touted itself as having the highest standard of living in the world. We bragged about having 5% of the world’s population and using 25% of the world’s resources. And we didn’t just state it as an abstract fact, we bragged about it as if it was some sort of accomplishment.

I forget the precise numbers, but I do recall thinking at the time that maybe we shouldn’t take such pride in them. My parents were certainly not anything approaching socialist in their thinking, but they did teach me a basic sense of fairness. More important, they along with our education system taught me to stay in contact with reality.

We assuaged whatever little shred of conscience we had by assuming that the rest of the world would someday pull themselves up to the same standard of living that we enjoyed. I viewed that assumption with a somewhat jaundiced eye, since the numbers seemed to me to indicate that there weren’t enough resources for that to happen, and that if the world’s standard of living were to equalize then ours would have to drop a bit.

Logic kind of bites idealists in the ass when they touch base with reality. In the real world, when the standard of living is the same everywhere, then 5% of the world’s population can no longer consume more than approximately 5% of the world’s resources. There’s no such thing as a free lunch.

And that process is happening now. The standard of living all over the world is rising, and it’s rising pretty fast. We are trying to maintain “economic growth” and it’s not happening, and we are pointing fingers everywhere. All the finger pointing is useless. It’s an effort to avoid maintaining contact with reality.

The world’s standard of living is equalizing, and for it to do so our standard of living has to decline a bit. I don’t know why we’re complaining; we did it to ourselves when we shipped all those manufacturing jobs overseas.

It had to happen. If it wasn’t that it would have been something else. The world wasn’t going to sit back and let us hog all the good times forever. Eventually, reality asserts itself.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Perhaps "Politically Correct," But...

The British Army is doing away with such gender specific titles as "rifleman" and "infantryman," because they are no longer sufficiently intelligent to understand the term "man" simply as "a member of the human race, gender unknown," as it has been used since the English language evolved. Apparently the concept that a word can have more than one meaning is too complex for today's "politically correct" mind. Anyway, they are now going to more neutral titles such as "infantry soldier" and "infanteer."

Really. "Infanteer?" They're too infantile to see the irony in that title? Oh Lordy.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Fearmongering Prevails

The headline, featured on Google News, reads, "NASA Detects Planet-Killer Asteroid That Might Hit Earth Next Year." On reading the article, in International Business Times, we find the the orbit of this "planet killer asteroid" is presently calculated to miss the Earth by 3.9 million miles, but the article goes on to say that the orbit could be altered by, "heat from internal or external sources such as the Sun," or by "a gravitation keyhole," which turns out to be "a certain area in space that’s affected by the gravitational pull of a nearby planet."

I'm not sure how it thinks the Sun's heat is going to alter the asteroid's orbit before it reaches Earth's neighborhood, but why let trivial details interfere with a good scare narrative.

The whole article is gibberish, actually, and it makes no attempt to explain why these orbit altering influences would change the asteroid's orbit toward Earth but not away from it.

So the asteroid presently appears likely to miss by 3.9 million miles, but may be altered to hit the Earth, or could be altered to miss us by 7.8 million miles.

I read this nonsensical bullshit so that you don't have to.

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Medical "Studies"

The “medical study” with respect to caffeine use and migraines that was on the news a few days ago is a perfect example of why I pay no attention to “medical studies” in the news today.

The stated conclusion was that three cups of coffee per day (or less) would not trigger migraines, while four or more cups of coffee could. That conclusion was obviously bogus. Any neurologist who knows anything about migraines can tell you that caffeine is known to resolve migraine, and that the mechanism by which it does so is well documented. (It constricts blood vessels.)

That neurologist will also tell you that caffeine’s role in triggering migraines is not well known at all. There is anecdotal evidence that it might, as well as that more than a hundred other factors might, but there is no documentation of the mechanism whereby any of them, including caffeine, might do so.

Finally, that neurologist will tell you that in many patients with frequent and severe migraines, a majority actually, caffeine appears to play no role whatever in triggering migraines. I happen to be one of those patients.

Having read a conclusion which was at such obvious odds with medical reality, I went searching to see who performed the study and how they performed it. The result did not really surprise me. The description of the study began, “They asked patients who frequently experienced migraines to keep a diary for six weeks,” and went on to say that, “In all, 98 patients completed these diaries.”

This is the state of medical science in the US today. A “medical study” now consists of fewer than 100 untrained persons keeping notes for six weeks.

The number of ways in which this study are invalid are so numerous that it’s hard to know where to start. 1) The number of participants, 98, is several orders of magnitude too small to provide anything like meaningful results. 2) Lay persons notoriously keep highly inaccurate “diaries,” and relying upon them to determine meaningful medical conclusions is malpractice. 3) Six weeks is too short a period of time, again by several orders of magnitude, for any conclusion to be even remotely valid. 4) The juxtaposition of the so-called “trigger” and the onset of the migraine is highly variable, and yet no one questions the cause/effect relationship.

In other words, “I drank four cups of coffee in the morning, and late that afternoon I had a migraine.” If someone claimed that a truck hitting him in the morning was the cause of him falling down in the afternoon, his claim of cause and effect might be questioned.

Making the “study” even more nonsensical is that these diaries did not report the types of “caffeinated drinks” consumed, not differentiating between a 24oz Red Bull energy drink and a 6oz cup of green tea, so the “researchers” did not have the slightest idea of the amount of caffeine that was under consideration.

The great “health care debate” being held by the Democratic Party might be entirely moot, if this is the quality of the medical profession that is going to be providing the health care about which we are arguing.

Friday, August 02, 2019


San Diego has a severe shortage of rental properties, and is considering passing a law to impose rent control. So, let's see. If I'm a builder and can build a building which will rent apartments, but will not be able to rent those apartments for enough money to make a profit, am I going to... Never mind.


Two years ago the Affordable Care Act, Obamacare, was the best thing passed by Congress since the Social Security Act championed by FDR. It was the best thing to happen to Americans since the Civil Rights Act. It was living proof that Barack Obama could walk on water.

On Wednesday, nine Democrats on a stage ganged up on and viciously berated Joe Biden for defending Obamacare, demonizing him for wanting to keep it in place.