Archive for the 'General' Category

You think Oprah knows diet tricks?

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2017

UPI:

Venezuela’s Living Conditions Survey found that nearly 75 percent of the population lost an average of at least 19 pounds in 2016 due to a lack of proper nutrition amid an economic crisis. Venezuela’s gross domestic product will decrease 4 percent in 2017, while the International Monetary Fund estimates inflation will increase 1,600 percent. The food crisis has also created an education crisis, as more than 1 million children no longer attend school, mostly due to hunger

Oprah can increase her diet tricks from 5 to 6: move to Venezuela.

School daze, plus something enjoyable

Tuesday, February 21st, 2017

Daze one, Daze two, Daze three, Daze four. Next, ah yes, the space race of sputnik and the 1960’s, the Good Old Daze. Finally, speaking of those days, even though Pete Seeger wrote If I had a Hammer, we sure could use the spirit in Trini Lopez’s optimistic version again.

Bonus: Will a jolly man make a jolly visitor? How terribly poor the frail paper boy looks. John gave his girl a candy heart. Huh?

Hilarious part of the freakout continues

Sunday, February 19th, 2017

WaPo and NYT. And an absolutely cuckoooo piece in the Daily News. The third president and others weigh in as well. If all of this was in a novel, you’d put it down thinking that this level of insanity is impossible in real life. More nuttiness here.

The swamp does not wish to be drained

Saturday, February 18th, 2017

WFB:

civil servants at the EPA are lobbying Congress to reject Donald Trump’s nominee to run the agency. Is it because Scott Pruitt lacks qualifications? No. Is it because he is ethically compromised? Sorry. The reason for the opposition is that Pruitt is a critic of the way the EPA was run during the presidency of Barack Obama. He has a policy difference with the men and women who are soon to be his employees. Up until, oh, this month, the normal course of action was for civil servants to follow the direction of the political appointees who serve as proxies for the elected president.

How quaint. These days an architect of the overreaching and anti-democratic Waters of the U.S. regulation worries that her work will be overturned so she undertakes extraordinary means to defeat her potential boss. But a change in policy is a risk of democratic politics. Nowhere does it say in the Constitution that the decisions of government employees are to be unquestioned and preserved forever. Yet that is precisely the implication of this unprecedented protest. “I can’t think of any other time when people in the bureaucracy have done this,” a professor of government tells the paper. That sentence does not leave me feeling reassured.

Opposition to this president takes many forms. Senate Democrats have slowed confirmations to the most sluggish pace since George Washington. Much of the New York and Beltway media does really function as a sort of opposition party, to the degree that reporters celebrated the sacking of Flynn as a partisan victory for journalism. Discontent manifests itself in direct actions such as the Women’s March.

But here’s the difference. Legislative roadblocks, adversarial journalists, and public marches are typical of a constitutional democracy. They are spelled out in our founding documents: the Senate and its rules, and the rights to speech, a free press, and assembly. Where in those documents is it written that regulators have the right not to be questioned, opposed, overturned, or indeed fired, that intelligence analysts can just call up David Ignatius and spill the beans whenever they feel like it?

The last few weeks have confirmed that there are two systems of government in the United States. The first is the system of government outlined in the U.S. Constitution—its checks, its balances, its dispersion of power, its protection of individual rights. Donald Trump was elected to serve four years as the chief executive of this system. Whether you like it or not.

The second system is comprised of those elements not expressly addressed by the Founders. This is the permanent government, the so-called administrative state of bureaucracies, agencies, quasi-public organizations, and regulatory bodies and commissions, of rule-writers and the byzantine network of administrative law courts. This is the government of unelected judges with lifetime appointments who, far from comprising the “least dangerous branch,” now presume to think they know more about America’s national security interests than the man elected as commander in chief.

For some time, especially during Democratic presidencies, the second system of government was able to live with the first one. But that time has ended. The two systems are now in competition. And the contest is all the more vicious and frightening because more than offices are at stake. This fight is not about policy. It is about wealth, status, the privileges of an exclusive class.

“In our time, as in Jackson’s, the ruling classes claim a monopoly not just on the economy and society but also on the legitimate authority to regulate and restrain it, and even on the language in which such matters are discussed,” writes Christopher Caldwell

The swamp does not wish to be drained: that is the theme of the last few weeks. After all, as we have said, the skim is the scam and $7 trillion is a lot to skim from, not to mention the accompanying power and prestige. These are very bad people, and the worst of it is that they cloak themselves in moral superiority in order to justify to themselves the unethical and illegal things they do to hold and advance their power. Now for the first time, we’re noticing their names: Brennan, Yates, etc., as well as the depravity of their courtiers in the absurd and dishonest media. HT: AT

Yes comrade

Saturday, February 18th, 2017

A:

Both criminal and civil corporate investigations should focus on individuals from the inception of the investigation. Both criminal and civil attorneys should focus on individual wrongdoing from the very beginning of any investigation of corporate misconduct. By focusing on building cases against individual wrongdoers from the inception of an investigation, we accomplish multiple goals. First, we maximize our ability to ferret out the full extent of corporate misconduct. Because a corporation only acts through individuals, investigating the conduct of individuals is the most efficient and effective way to determine the facts and extent of any corporate misconduct. Second, by focusing our investigation on individuals, we can increase the likelihood that individuals with knowledge of the corporate misconduct will cooperate with the investigation and provide information against individuals higher up the corporate hierarchy.

B:

Fortunately, my company had the money to fight back. Our day in court finally came in February 2016. The four-week trial ended with not-guilty verdicts on all charges, without our calling a single witness in our defense. Following the trial, one juror emailed me: “What the federal government did to you, your company and your employees is nothing short of criminal.”

Thus, unaccountable twerps with a $30 billion budget can force a company to spend $25MM on lawyers with the result B above. Fortunately, the author of A above got herself fired recently.

Huh?

Saturday, February 18th, 2017

Pope:

you have committed yourselves to fight for social justice, to defend our Sister Mother Earth and to stand alongside migrants. I want to reaffirm your choice and share two reflections in this regard.

First, the ecological crisis is real. “A very solid scientific consensus indicates that we are presently witnessing a disturbing warming of the climatic system.” Science is not the only form of knowledge, it is true. It is also true that science is not necessarily “neutral”—many times it conceals ideological views or economic interests. However, we also know what happens when we deny science and disregard the voice of Nature. I make my own everything that concerns us as Catholics. Let us not fall into denial. Time is running out. Let us act.

The other is a reflection that I shared at our most recent World Meeting of Popular Movements, and I feel is important to say it again: no people is criminal and no religion is terrorist. Christian terrorism does not exist, Jewish terrorism does not exist, and Muslim terrorism does not exist. They do not exist.

No people is criminal or drug-trafficking or violent. “The poor and the poorer peoples are accused of violence yet, without equal opportunities, the different forms of aggression and conflict will find a fertile terrain for growth and will eventually explode.” There are fundamentalist and violent individuals in all peoples and religions—and with intolerant generalizations they become stronger because they feed on hate and xenophobia. By confronting terror with love, we work for peace.

Memo to the College of Cardinals: avoid Argentina.

Gus Hall?

Friday, February 17th, 2017

Q1: Our enemy is not “terrorism” because terrorism is but a tactic. Our enemy is not “terror” because terror is a state of mind and as Americans we refuse to live in fear. Nor do we describe our enemy as “jihadists” or “Islamists” because jihad is a holy struggle. Q2: When CIA analysts look for deeper causes of this rising instability, they find nationalistic, sectarian, and technological factors that are eroding the structure of the international system. They also see socioeconomic trends, the impact of climate change, and other elements that are cause for concern. Last year was the warmest on record, and this year is on track to be even warmer. Q3: So if back in 1980, John Brennan was allowed to say, ‘I voted for the Communist Party with Gus Hall’ and still got through, rest assured that your rights and your expressions and your freedom of speech as Americans is something that’s not going to be disqualifying of you as you pursue a career in government. Q4: I think Mr. Trump has to understand that absolving Russia of various actions it has taken in the past number of years is a road that he needs to be very, very careful about moving down.

Ah yes, Russia is one thing, very bad, the USSR is entirely something else, and vastly superior for that matter. Got it. BTW, the speaker above, the honorable John Brennan, is also speculated to be a leaker in chief on Trump metters. Surprised? Serious question: how did a loon like this become the head of the CIA?

We’re serious, we really want to know, since in a reasonably rational country this guy would have been consigned to the trashbag at a very early date. Something doesn’t make sense here. Unless…and the Unless is far more troubling than just this joker.

Stupid with a capital S

Thursday, February 16th, 2017

DC:

Oakland schools partnered with the environmental group Friends of the Earth (FOE) to fight global warming by making student lunches climate-friendly. FOE gave kids a lunch menu designed to eliminate foods it says are “unsustainable for our planet.” The new menu features far less meat and more plant-based food. Any meat or cheese the school did use came from “pastured, organic dairy cows.” The student’s lunch menu went from beef hot dogs and pepperoni pizza to vegan stir fry tofu and vegan tostadas. The new FOE-approved menu served meat and cheese-less frequently and reduced the portion sizes.

“This is a landmark moment for school food,” Jennifer LeBarre, head of nutrition services for Oakland Unified School District, said in a FOE press statement. “We were so excited to see how the data showed that we could reduce our carbon and water footprint by serving healthy, delicious food –– like the vegetarian tostadas with fresh made in-house salsa, that kids absolutely love –– all while saving money.”

The district and FOE claimed the lunch program was healthier than before, but only on the basis that food from plants is typically healthier than meat. The study justifies its health claims by stating average poultry consumption fell. FOE did not undertake an actual study into whether or not the lunches improved student health.

FOE says total carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from the school lunch program declined by 14 percent. The total change is equivalent to taking roughly 127 cars off the road for a year, according to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) official calculator. The activists also claim lunch program costs fell 1 percent.

FOE says it partnered with the school to provide a “roadmap for change” to encourage other schools to fight global warming via student lunches. The green group hopes Oakland’s example will encourage numerous other school districts to switch to a similar menu. If every school district in the U.S. followed Oakland, the reduced CO2 emissions would be equal to removing 150,000 cars from the roads, according to FOE.

127 cars off the road, fantastic! If they could repeat that just 10,000,000 times, they’d be getting somewhere. HT: MF (Bonus fun: fake with a capital F)

Interception!

Wednesday, February 15th, 2017

Interception. Interception. Interception. Interception. Interception, with alleged transcript. We hadn’t really thought much about this, but apparently everything is bugged now, perhaps par for the course in the age of iPhone. If so, wouldn’t Ironclad Rule #1 be: assume that anything you say is being recorded, and hence be circumspect in all conversations. Why would someone break that rule? Moreover, the policy motives ascribed to the buggers make little sense to us. If the buggers’ backers plan is just to create a little chaos every day and see what happens, that at least makes some sense, though it seems to us a losing strategy. Very creepy however. HT: PL

Bonus unfun: there’s much worse to follow if a broadening of the NSA’s powers in the last month is any indication.

Nothing to add

Tuesday, February 14th, 2017

We’ve entered some form of Bizarro world combined with an extra strange edition of Mad Magazine, with a long form Spy vs. Spy vs. Spy. We’ll just link to Link to Lifson and Spengler, and let them try to sort things out. Things have gone from entertaining to scary.

Rename everything

Monday, February 13th, 2017

WSJ

During a conference-call press briefing Saturday, and throughout the documents related to the Calhoun decision, officials have been careful to stress that the university operates with a “strong presumption against” renaming things. Because they do not seek to “erase history,” the officials insist, renaming things for ideological reasons would be “exceptionally rare.”

When you study the four principles Mr. Salovey’s committee came up with to justify a renaming, you can see why it took so long. The task, it seems clear, was to find a way to wipe away Calhoun College while simultaneously immunizing other institutions at Yale from politicized rebaptism. Did the principal legacy of the honored person “fundamentally conflict” with the university’s mission? Was that legacy “contested” within the person’s lifetime? Were the reasons that the university honored him at odds with Yale’s mission? Does the named building or program play a substantial role in “forming community at Yale”? Readers who savor tortuous verbal legerdemain will want to acquaint themselves with the “Letter of the Advisory Group on the Renaming of Calhoun College,” which is available online. It is a masterpiece of the genre. Is it also convincing?

I think the best way to answer that is to fill out the historical picture a bit. Nearly every Yale official who spoke at Saturday’s press briefing had to describe John Calhoun (1782-1850) as a “white supremacist.” Question: Who among whites at the time was not? Take your time. Calhoun owned slaves. But so did Timothy Dwight, Calhoun’s mentor at Yale, who has a college named in his honor. So did Benjamin Silliman, who also gives his name to a residential college, and whose mother was the largest slave owner in Fairfield County, Conn. So did Ezra Stiles,John Davenport and even Jonathan Edwards, all of whom have colleges named in their honor at Yale.

Writing in these pages last summer, I suggested that Yale table the question of John Calhoun and tackle some figures even more obnoxious to contemporary sensitivities. One example was Elihu Yale, the American-born British merchant who, as an administrator in India, was an active participant in the slave trade. President Salovey’s letter announcing that Calhoun College would be renamed argues that “unlike Elihu Yale, who made a gift that supported the founding of our university Calhoun has no similarly strong association with our campus.” What can that mean? Calhoun graduated valedictorian from Yale College in 1804. Is that not a “strong association”?

(Grace Hopper held two advanced degrees from the university but had no association with the undergraduate Yale College.) As far as I have been able to determine, Elihu Yale never set foot in New Haven. His benefaction of some books and goods worth £800 helped found Yale College, not Yale University. And whereas the 11th edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica praises Calhoun for his “just and kind” treatment of slaves and the “stainless integrity” of his character, Elihu Yale had slaves flogged, hanged a stable boy for stealing a horse

No doubt if they look hard enough they’ll find something to disqualify this Hopper. Perhaps better simply to name colleges after celebrities or fictional characters: Paul or Hedda Hopper, Perry Mason college, etc. (Of course things could be worse, e.g. Brady college.)

Wish granted

Sunday, February 12th, 2017

DM:

A burglar shot in the butt by cops who caught him inside a Queens home is asking for $10 million for his trouble. Felix Perez, 38, is being held at Rikers Island on burglary and assault charges, and claims he’s unable to get a good night’s sleep. Perez, who allegedly stole rings, watches, earrings and a chain from the house, says in his Manhattan Federal Court lawsuit that he now suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and has ‘nightmares of being killed by officers and fear of anyone in uniform’. The Crown Heights resident, who is acting as his own lawyer, states in the lawsuit: ‘I was shot by an officer of the 104th Precinct while trying to flee the scene of a burglary. ‘I was unarmed and showed no intention of harming anyone nor did I make any hand gestures indicating that I was armed or dangerous’. Perez already had six burglary arrests when cops found him in August lurking through a home on 66th Street near Hull Avenue in Maspeth, reports the New York Post. The resident noticed a man walking through her child’s bedroom on a live surveillance-video feed she was monitoring on her phone and called the cops.

We looked at the headline of the story and thought that this idiot’s lawyer should be locked up. Mirabile dictu, he has been. Bonus fun: a guy who lied his way into Princeton as a 31 year old is back in jail for the umpteenth time. Where’s 3 strikes? Why aren’t these serial-offender nuts locked up for life?

Miscellany

Saturday, February 11th, 2017

Uh oh, better not try this in China. Uh oh, a very bad guy “coined the racially-charged nickname for Warren during the campaign.” Do tell. BTW, “there has been absolutely no evidence of illegal voting in New Hampshire, or in any other state for that matter.” Do tell. Are there no editors at the NYDN? Newspapers oughtn’t be cartoons, but then again, who the heck cares anymore?

23,985 words, apparently not much meaning

Friday, February 10th, 2017

We’re talking about 8 U.S. Code § 1182 – Inadmissible aliens. Feel free to decide for yourself whether the words have any meaning. WSJ: “The court, which hears appeals from federal trial courts in California, Washington, Oregon, Hawaii, Alaska, Arizona, Nevada, Idaho and Montana, plus Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands, is undoubtedly the largest in the nation. It hears roughly 19% of the federal appellate caseload and has 29 judge seats; the next largest, based in New Orleans, has 17 seats. Critics point to figures showing that as of September, the court had 13,334 pending cases, far more than double the next busiest circuit. The court takes a median of around 14 months to reach a decision in a case, five and a half months slower than the national median.” HT to an AT piece that you should read. They’ve sure got a lot of judges in the 9th circuit; pity that they can’t read. Final point: 90 days now translates into irreparable harm.

It’s good TV, guys

Thursday, February 9th, 2017

Let’s assume that Blumenthal accidentally said something true re Gorsuch. We note that some conservatives have gotten their knickers in a twist over Gorsuch’s comments. We say pass the popcorn. Suppose there’s a guy who nominates supreme court justices. After doing so, he insults a perfectly insultable “so-called” judge. In what universe is the insane press (they’ve been insane from precisely this moment) not going to run to Gorsuch for a negative comment. He gives them one, so what? From time to time so do Pence, Tillerson, and others. They’re all free to do so and it’s part of the show. It’s good TV, doesn’t hurt DJT, and it gets the press off his employees’ backs, at least a little. Same thing, even more so in the recent martyring of Fauxcohontas (we didn’t know McConnell had it in him). For her excellence as victim-hero, the press just promoted her to Sitting Bull. We’d love to see her and that other clown on the ticket in 2020. Talk about great TV!

It’s all about the money

Thursday, February 9th, 2017

George Soros got involved in politics a while back, in the 1990s’s at the latest. He made over $1,000,000,000 (that’s a billion) in finagling with the British pound. As an observer said: “I’ve learned many things from him, but perhaps the most significant is that it’s not whether you’re right or wrong, but how much money you make when you’re right and how much you lose when you’re wrong.” (Some details about the British pound crisis here.)

Thus it is with some amusement that we watch the anti-Trump antics of Soros, including those that favored his GOP competitors. Maybe there’s an element of ideology involved, but puh-leeze. (Full disclosure: we may have met the guy 30 years ago when bidding on a company with Soros Private Equity, but we don’t exactly remember.) In our view, the guy is about making money, and politics plays a major role in going long and short currencies and stock markets.

It’s much easier to create riots and such than on the Left than on the right, so that’s where you’d spend a few bucks to create turmoil in society and markets. What he goes long on and what he goes short on is highly correlated to this, if the manipulating of the British pound is any example. So the violent fools in their hoodies rioting at Berkeley and NYU are fools way beyond their capacity to understand: they are tools to make a rich guy richer.

Today’s downsizing tip

Wednesday, February 8th, 2017

It is perhaps instructive that links to lists of microaggressions prohibited in the UC system (here and here for example) now generate 404 errors, since perhaps the senior executives of UC don’t want to be so directly tied to the idiocy they empower. (Many of the lists have been otherwise preserved, however.) Let’s turn to HMD for a moment:

Berkeley funds the Division of Equity and Inclusion with a cool $20 million annually and staffs it with 150 full-time functionaries: It takes that much money and personnel to drum into students’ heads how horribly Berkeley treats its “othered” students. One of Berkeley’s likely oppressors offers a suitably groveling banner: “I will think before I speak and act,” promises a white male student from the class of 2016. Ordinarily, such a vow of self-control might seem like a bourgeois virtue worthy of Ben Franklin. In the current academic context, however, it means: “I will mentally scan the University of California’s official list of microaggressions before I open my mouth.” The head of the bureaucracy that created the banner campaign weighs in with her own banner. “Respect the full humanity of others,” urges Na’ilah Suad Nasir, the vice chancellor for equity and inclusion. This admonition would be appropriate when trying to mediate, say, between warring tribes given to slaughtering each other’s members. But the assumption that Berkeley’s pacific students are at risk of seriously violating one another’s humanity, beyond the ordinary slights of everyday social interaction, is absurd.

BTW, here are some other examples of UC microaggressions: America is a melting pot, Why are you so quiet?, I believe the most qualified person should get the job, etc. Our downsizing tip is simple: save tens of millions of dollars by firing anyone who is affiliated in any way with the microaggression nonsense. The point about microaggression is not the aggression, it’s the micro. These fools have no idea how tough life was for everyone not that long ago. To wit, Henry Adams: “The American boy of 1854 stood closer to the year 1 than to the year 1900.” Or us, a dozen years ago:

Here is the signal fact of our progress in the last century. If you were born in 1900, your life expectancy was in the forties (if you survived childhood), and GNP per capita was about $4000. If you are born today, your life expectancy in about eighty, and statistically, as an average American, you are ten times richer. In reality you are a hundred or a thousand times richer, if you factor in your ability to be in Paris tomorrow for $500, your ability to watch events from fifty years ago as they actually happened, etc., not to mention that your toddler’s severe pneumonia can be reliably cured in 48 hours or so. More than 50% of everything ever invented in the history of humanity was invented in the last century plus. Milton Hershey invented the candy bar, Carrier invented the air conditioner for a tire plant, Sears invented catalogue distribution, Henry Ford invented cheap cars, etc. It is almost impossible to overstate the importance of the invention and wide use of brand names, which communicate the quality and dependability of every product we buy. This alone deserves the Nobel Prize.

A typical boy of 1854 knew what farming was like and may well have worked on a farm, knew horses, cows, chickens, hogs and other animals, and learned how to maintain and fix things, from houses to wagons to furniture. A typical young man of 1947 had been in the army, knew people who lived on farms (around 40% of Americans lived on farms when he was a lad), could tune and maintain his own car, and could change the fan belt on the refrigerator and refill it with freon. Both the boy and the young man had some feel for the technologies that were developing and changing around them, since the technologies were often sized on a human scale and involved mechanical processes that they had some acquaintance with. To an important extent, this is no longer true. You can’t fix an iPod the way you can fix a record player; indeed you can’t even open up an iPod to understand it, as you could unscrew the turntable cover to figure out how 33 1/3 rpm became 45 rpm. Nor can you fool around with a Toyota Prius the same way you could try to replace a 283 with a 327 in a ’57 Chevy.

Affluence and technology have created much that is good, but they’ve also contributed to macroidiocies like microaggression. The problem is made worse because it’s not only the students who don’t know what they don’t know, it’s the teachers and administrators who also live in a fantasy world of ignorance, unconnected with the macro difficulties of everyday life not so long ago. In the words of somebody or other: you’re fired.

Good piece

Tuesday, February 7th, 2017

Busy working, but this is a good read. Every day…. (BTW, timely fun nonsense.)

Not just fake, but really expensive too!

Monday, February 6th, 2017

Daily Mail:

John Bates, a top NOAA scientist with an impeccable reputation, has shown The Mail on Sunday irrefutable evidence that the paper was based on misleading, ‘unverified’ data. His vehement objections to the publication of the faulty data were overridden by his NOAA superiors in what he describes as a ‘blatant attempt to intensify the impact’ of what became known as the Pausebuster paper.

NOAA’s 2015 ‘Pausebuster’ paper was based on two new temperature sets of data – one containing measurements of temperatures at the planet’s surface on land, the other at the surface of the seas. Both datasets were flawed. This newspaper has learnt that NOAA has now decided that the sea dataset will have to be replaced and substantially revised just 18 months after it was issued, because it used unreliable methods which overstated the speed of warming. The revised data will show both lower temperatures and a slower rate in the recent warming trend. The land temperature dataset used by the study was afflicted by devastating bugs in its software that rendered its findings ‘unstable’.

Dr Bates said this increase in temperatures was achieved by dubious means. Its key error was an upwards ‘adjustment’ of readings from fixed and floating buoys, which are generally reliable, to bring them into line with readings from a much more doubtful source – water taken in by ships. This, Dr Bates explained, has long been known to be questionable: ships are themselves sources of heat, readings will vary from ship to ship, and the depth of water intake will vary according to how heavily a ship is laden – so affecting temperature readings. Dr Bates said: ‘They had good data from buoys. And they threw it out and “corrected” it by using the bad data from ships. You never change good data to agree with bad, but that’s what they did – so as to make it look as if the sea was warmer.’

Then came the final bombshell. Dr Bates said: ‘I learned that the computer used to process the software had suffered a complete failure.’ The reason for the failure is unknown, but it means the Pausebuster paper can never be replicated or verified by other scientists.

NOAA not only failed, but it effectively mounted a cover-up when challenged over its data. After the paper was published, the US House of Representatives Science Committee launched an inquiry into its Pausebuster claims. NOAA refused to comply with subpoenas demanding internal emails from the committee chairman, the Texas Republican Lamar Smith, and falsely claimed that no one had raised concerns about the paper internally.

Time to Mann up!

Gimme a break

Sunday, February 5th, 2017

Once again, the rude guy is right. So-called is so-called. This is so tiresome. Hard to imagine four years of this nonsense (alternative words deleted).