3/29/2020

Thoughts On A Sunday

Here it is, another Sunday in Coronavirus America.

The governor in my home state of New Hampshire released a Stay-At-Home executive order that took effect at midnight Friday night. While not nearly as restrictive as other states’ and cities’ Shelter-In-Place orders, a number of businesses have been ordered closed, restaurant dining rooms closed and the restaurants switching over take-out and delivery only service, and other businesses and local government offices changing over to limited hours/appointment only service.

The WP Mom and I did venture out both yesterday and today to take care of our regular weekly shopping. We didn’t buy anything out of ordinary, didn’t have any issues with shortages of any goods, though the toilet paper supply is still a little spotty in some stores.

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Something to remember when it comes to pandemics, specifically when it comes to China, is that the number of cases doesn’t suddenly drop to zero. They taper off until the number of new cases reaches zero.

That China has suddenly reported no new cases is suspicious on the face of it. But as I have linked to before, the reason no new cases have been reported in China is because it is no longer testing for coronavirus.

If no testing is being performed then there could not possibly be reports of any new cases. Instead, they have reclassified any new deaths as caused by ‘regular’ influenza or pneumonia, but not coronavirus.

Sorry, but I’m calling “Bulls**t!” on this one.

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Don’t believe the coronavirus numbers the media is reporting. Why?

Because they are usually comparing apples and oranges.

While the US now has more coronavirus cases than China (supposedly – see above), looking at the per capita incidences of coronavirus patients you will see the US is at the bottom of the curve, but you won’t hear the media talk about that aspect of it at all.

One note: You will notice that the graphs in the linked post do not include any figures from China.

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Is the Covid-19 pandemic a possible media extinction event?

I hope so. Too much of the media no longer reports the news, but tells you want to think about what little news they actually report.

Perhaps TV newscasters should end each segment with “More of the alleged news after this…”. Call it journalistic truth.

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I find it interesting (but not surprising) that Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is blaming President Trump for the coronavirus problems, choosing to conveniently forget that she has been one of the biggest blockades to getting things done.

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The Manhattan Contrarian offers some advice for dealing with the coronavirus.

The more you read about this, the more you realize that the key to true success against the virus is to embrace environmental incorrectness. Many of the environmental fads of the last few years turn out to be exactly what you should not be doing. Like it or not, you are now going to have to use more plastics and increase your “carbon footprint.” Hey, it’s the least you can do to keep yourself and your family and friends alive.

Read the whole thing.

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And that’s the news from Lake Winnipesaukee, where folks are dealing with restrictions caused by coronavirus with aplomb, most folks aren’t really noticing many differences, and where some folks are think the 6-foot distancing is too close...and always have.

3/28/2020

Is The Day Of "Papers, Please" Coming To America?

Hearing that Rhode Island governor Gina Raimondo (D) has the National Guard going door-to-door looking for “Noo Yawkers” who recently came into the Ocean State from the Metro New York City area has given me a case of the willies. Seems a little too late-1930’s Germany to me.

“Right now we have a pinpointed risk,” Raimondo said at a news conference Friday. “That risk is called New York City.”

The state police in Rhode Island have begun pulling over cars with New York plates. Raimondo says anyone from New York City found to have recently come into the state will be automatically quarantined for 14 days.

Apparently New York governor Andrew Cuomo is taking exception to the Governor Raimondo’s actions, saying “I don’t believe it’s medically justified.”

Not medically justified? Hey, Andy. There are 44,000 people in your largest city who have tested positive for the virus. The only thing in this situation that might not be medically justified is building a wall surrounding the Big Apple and turning it into one big hospital ward. Or perhaps some kind of Escape from New York prison.

Of course none of this will matter if President Trump quarantines parts of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut.

3/27/2020

Social Distancing - Northern New England Yankee Style

In line with what has been going on in the US, particularly here in New Hampshire, and with social distancing having become the norm, I figured it was time to show you how we’ve always done something like that up here in Northern New England. Call it the “Surly Northern New England Yankee Curmudgeon Socially Distanced Greeting:

Surly Curmudgeon #1- "Good day?" (Translation: "Are you having a good day today, friend?")

Surly Curmudgeon #2- "Ayuh. You?" (Translation: "Yes, I've been having a most excellent and exceedingly good day. How about you?"

Surly Curmudgeon #1- "Ayuh?" (Translation: "As am I. Will I see you later down at the general store/dump/Agway/diner/town meeting?")

Surly Curmudgeon #2- “Ayuh.” (Translation: “Most assuredly. I look forward to discussing matters of great import at length with you.”)

Cuts right to the chase, is efficient, and keeps interactions to a minimum. Ayuh.

UPDATE: A fellow Northern New England Yankee added a bit to this:

Yet Another Surly Curmudgeon: "Six-foot separation for 'social distancing'? Why would I want to get that close to anybody?"

Ayuh.

3/22/2020

Thoughts On A Sunday

Here we are, yet another week into dealing with coronavirus. The number of confirmed cases is increasing as expected. (More tests means more infections being detected, even those that show little or no symptoms.) The media is still sensationalizing rather than actually reporting the news, still trying to blame President Trump for everything, and scaring folks for no other reason than they can.

Most of the folks up here are taking it with little fear or trepidation. Other than the initial surge of panic buying of paper towel and hand sanitizer, things have pretty much settled down. There have been a few spot shortages here and there (Half-and-Half and Jello being two of them for no reason I can determine), but I haven’t come across anything that is truly in short supply. Some of the local supermarkets are instituting special shopping hours for their elderly customers to help reduce the possibility of infection by Covid-19.

Local government is limiting access to town and city halls, with as much of the services provided as possible being shifted online in order to reduce person-to-person contact as much as is practical. Police and fire departments are closing access to the public from their facilities, trying to move as many of their non-emergency services as possible online and telephone.

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Is China’s claim of coronavirus recovery fake? Knowing how the Chinese government has prevaricated about coronavirus since the beginning, can we believe it now?

A supplier for my company located in Wuhan has been telling a different story than the ‘official’ story from the Chinese government.

I am more inclined to believe our supplier as they are on the scene.

UPDATE: It seems the reason why there are have been no more cases of Covid-19 reported in China is because China is reportedly no longer testing for it.

No testing, no reports.

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I’ve stated more than once that the push away from ‘single-use’ plastic shopping bags was a mistake considering they are less expensive, less impactful on the environment, are actually reused in a number of ways, and are less likely to spread disease than reusable “sustainable” cloth totes. Banning of single-use plastic bags is based more on virtue signaling than being environmentally responsible and may be responsible for helping spread Covid-19.

As the government, businesses, and individuals move to slow Wuhan coronavirus’ spread, one of the environmentalists’ pet “green” projects is under threat. Many municipalities and states banned single-use plastic bags due to heavy lobbying by those who insist that officials replace them with germ- and bacteria-laden reusable shopping bags.

That seems to be changing, much to environmentalists’ dissatisfaction, in the face of the Wuhan coronavirus. Because the virus can survive on such items and thus spread infection, many plastic bag bans are being delayed or lifted to shut down the petri dish of contagion these reusable shopping bags represent.

Science and knowledge about disease and contagion must take second place to the watermelon environmentalist narrative. That the reusable bags can spread disease and death is not seen as a bug, but as a feature by the purported environmentalists. Anything that cuts down the human population is seen as a plus by a lot of these folks.

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There is one thing that is more shocking than the coronavirus and it has shaken many of us to the core.

Tom Brady signed a two-year $60 million contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. There is also a $9 million performance incentive to go with it, and a promise to rename the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the Tom Brady Buccaneers.

(OK, so maybe I’m exaggerating. It might have been only a $6 million performance incentive.)

Needless to say, a number of tears of anguish were shed in New England. The end of an era has come.

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This sounds like a good idea whose time has come.

It’s time for an open source project to review “all the laws which have proven themselves unnecessary.”

My home state had something called a Sunset Commission that reviewed all existing laws and regulations and made a list of those which either no longer served a purpose or caused more problems than they solved. Quite often the legislature would repeal the redundant ones and repeal or modify the problematic ones. Unfortunately a Democrat governor convinced the state legislature in the late 70’s/early 80’s that it was no longer needed and it was itself “sunsetted”, a mistake we’ve been paying for ever since.

It’s time to bring it back to New Hampshire and to bring it to life at the federal level.

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And that’s the news from Lake Winnipesaukee, where the ice is breaking up, discussions and preparations are already being made for the coming boating season, and where we expect commuting traffic is going to be pretty sparse for a while.

3/21/2020

An American Solution To A World Problem

Everyone has been complaining that testing for Covid-19 is taking a long time.

Here's one possible solution:



(H/T Powerline)

3/20/2020

Another Day In This Part Of Coronavirus America

Coronavirus is still the leading story in the news and the topic of discussion just about everywhere. Reading various blogs and forums about it has shown everything from people feeling a little overwhelmed to experiencing nothing much different than what they see every day. For me it’s somewhere in between those two extremes, leaning more towards the latter.

I have to admit it’s been eerie being in work and being one of the few in our building. There were just six of us there today, and three of us left before noon to “get a jump on shopping” before the weekend. Everyone else was working from home.

I did get quite a bit of work done in one of our hardware labs, something I needed to do as part of my job. There are some things that can’t be done online, and lab work is one of them. So I and my fellow hardware engineer spent our day toiling away in our respective labs, keeping our development work on a new product rolling forward. (He was working on the second floor and I was working on the first floor.)

My trip home was almost as eerie as the Friday afternoon traffic I usually see just wasn’t there. I’d have to say it was about a quarter of what is typical for this time of year. (It is quite heavy during the summer for obvious reasons.)

I’ve seen a number of seasonal homes that are typically unused this time of year being occupied by their owners, perhaps as a “bug out” destination to ride out the pandemic. (Of course we wish they’d stay where they came from because who knows if they’ve brought the very thing they’re running away from with them.) The folks who bought the home just behind The Gulch last year arrived up hear last Friday, admitting to being one of those “bugging out” from central Massachusetts. They both already work from home and their kids’ schools are closed for the next few weeks and are schooling online. At least they brought a lot of supplies with them rather than stocking up once they got here. Not that they would have had any problems if they had done so.

Other than a few products like toilet paper and hand sanitizer, I haven’t seen any shortages of food items. I guess the first wave of panic buying has pretty much dissipated and folks are being more reasonable, at least around here. I can’t speak about other areas in the country, or even elsewhere here in my home state, but I’d like to think that folks in New Hampshire have regained their sanity and won’t be trying to buy up a year’s worth of items going forward.

It doesn’t help that the media is pumping up fear, stopping just short of yelling at the top of their lungs “We’re all gonna DIE!!!!!!” I’m not sure all of the precautions being taken are either a) effective, or b) necessary. Are some precautions over-the-top? Probably. The problem is that we don’t know one way or the other. This may be one of the few times where the Precautionary Principle applies. Maybe.

And so it is during another day in Coronavirus America.

3/15/2020

Thoughts On A Sunday - Coronavirus Edition

I kept thinking that I should devote this entire TOAS to the coronavirus, but is being done to death by just about everyone else. Not that I won’t make mention of it here and there during this ‘episode’, but I’m not going to obsess about it like so many others.

I will mention that I saw plenty of empty toilet paper shelves at out local Walmart while shopping there this morning. Not that we needed any, but I did notice them as I was making my way to the drinks aisle to pick up a couple of 2 liter bottles of Dr. Pepper.

I admit I did make one concession to the coronavirus ‘hysteria’, that being buying a new spray bottle of Clorox Clean Up. That’s it. No 55-gallon drums of hand sanitizer. No one-dozen 48-roll packs of toilet paper. Just a single spray bottle of Clorox Clean Up.

People need to get a grip on reality.

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As one last concession to coronavirus, I am going to mention the large number of schools and colleges here in New Hampshire closing for the next two or three weeks with instruction moving inline for many of them, as well as town/city offices limiting access and canceling/postponing meetings. Even our state legislature is suspending their session and closing legislative offices for a week or so. Churches have canceled services for the next couple of weeks. Some towns have postponed their town meetings until April.

My little town has suspended use of the town hall meeting facilities for non-government meetings, canceled all out-of-state travel (mostly for training purposes), and has been making preparations in case some town employees have to work from home. My place of work has changed all meetings to teleconferences (no face-to-face meetings), canceled all travel including any travel between company facilities, and closed facilities to outside visitors.

I’ll admit it’s all a little eerie.

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I agree with Skip on this: Make them live up to their own rules.

Seems fair to me.

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I was hoping to limit my coverage of coronavirus, but it seems that the media and most of my usual sources are focused entirely on the subject, so I figure maybe I can cover subjects tangentially related to Covid-19. In this case, the subject is remote schooling, aka online schooling. (Link is paywalled.)

Remote schooling is nothing new. Goodness knows homeschoolers have been using resources like Khan Academy, VLACS, and K12 as well as a host of other online education resources. Maybe it’s time for towns and cities to consider making more use of online schooling.

Fortunately, we live in a different world than we did in 2005, when Hurricane Katrina decimated New Orleans and closed all but a handful of schools for almost a year. We now have the technology necessary to teach students effectively and efficiently using the internet. These tools can ensure that learning continues uninterrupted during a crisis, while providing schools with collateral educational and financial benefits.

Many schools and districts already use laptops, tablet computers, smart boards and other devices to support classroom instruction. Not every district in the country has the ability to convene students in virtual classrooms, but every school system has at least thought about ways to instruct students remotely in the event of a disruption. For those that haven’t yet developed strategic plans to build an instructional system with remote-learning capacity, the current crisis should drive home the need to do so.

A ready and waiting remote-learning system is a game changer during a major emergency, not to mention more common disturbances such as weather-related disruptions, localized health hazards and students forced into long-term absences for various reasons. Even when school is in regular, nonemergency session, remote-learning infrastructure enhances classroom instruction and individualizes students’ learning experiences. Students who can’t attend school in a traditional setting because of disabilities or health issues can “dial in” and participate fully in class through the remote-learning system.

One of the advantages is that remote learning can help effectively expand existing school facilities because not as much classroom space will be needed if some students are learning from home.

I can see another positive aspect to this, that being that students can learn at their own pace. For some this means they aren’t being held back from learning at an accelerated pace and for others that they aren’t being left behind.

Is remote learning a cure-all for educational issues? Of course not, not by any means. But it is one more tool in the education ‘arsenal’ we should be exploiting.

UPDATE: New Hampshire Governor Sununu has ordered all New Hampshire schools closed for the next three weeks. Education will be moving online starting Monday, March 23rd. (Some schools are already doing so.) This coming week will be used to move schooling online.

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And that’s the coronavirus abbreviated news from Lake Winnipesaukee, where most folks aren’t panic buying, some folks from away have decided it’s a good time to ‘visit’ their vacation homes up here for a couple of weeks, and where we’re waiting for all of this to blow over.

3/14/2020

Reusable 'Sustainable' Shopping Bags Ain't All They're Cracked Up To Be

Amid the coronavirus precautions being taken by states, towns, schools, sports leagues, and places of employment making the pandemic real for many folks, it’s ironic that one of the virtue signalling activities so many have embraced may actually be helping spread the disease.

What am I talking about?

Reusable shopping bags.

The COVID-19 outbreak is giving new meaning to those “sustainable” shopping bags that politicians and environmentalists have been so eager to impose on the public. These reusable tote bags can sustain the COVID-19 and flu viruses—and spread the viruses throughout the store.

Researchers have been warning for years about the risks of these bags spreading deadly viral and bacterial diseases, but public officials have ignored their concerns, determined to eliminate single-use bags and other plastic products despite their obvious advantages in reducing the spread of pathogens. In New York State, a new law took effect this month banning single-use plastic bags in most retail businesses, and this week Democratic state legislators advanced a bill that would force coffee shops to accept consumers’ reusable cups—a practice that Starbucks and other chains have wisely suspended to avoid spreading the COVID-19 virus.

--snip--

The COVID-19 virus is just one of many pathogens that shoppers can spread unless they wash the bags regularly, which few people bother to do. Viruses and bacteria can survive in the tote bags up to nine days, according to one study of coronaviruses.

I have heard so many make the claim that the sustainable bags are better for the environment and save money, but being the engineering type that I am, I find the claim to be dubious because the numbers don’t seem to add up.

A 2000-bag pack of plastic ‘single-use’ shopping bags available from places like Staples cost about 1¢ a piece. In the volumes most supermarkets use bags the cost per bag is closer to 0.2¢ a piece. What does a ‘sustainable’ shopping bag cost? My mother has three that she bought for $2 per bag (a special price through her church). That means each one of those sustainable bags wouldn’t reach the break even point in cost until they had replaced 1000 plastic bags.

Assuming the folks using the sustainable bags never wash their bags, and the average number of plastic bags used a week for shopping is 8 bags, and the number of sustainable bags used for the same amount goods bought is two, it would take 500 shopping trips to reach the break even point. If one further assumes one grocery shopping trip per week, that works out almost 9.5 years to reach that point.

If they do wash their bags, then one has to add the cost of washing them to the total cost of ownership and is likely to add a few years to the break even point.

This begs the question: How long do these reusable bags last?

Somehow I doubt anyone will keep their bags for ten years. As such, the break even period is never.

Between the extra energy and materials needed to manufacture the ‘sustainable’ bags, their propensity to spread disease if not regularly washed, and their cost, the sustainable bags aren’t looking all that sustainable. On top of that, many of those single-use plastic bags aren’t used only once. I know I don’t as I use them to line wastebaskets or dispose of cat poop from the litter boxes of the feline contingent here at The Gulch. Many other people do the same kind of thing. And of any of those bags left over, they end up in the big shopping bag recycling barrel at the entrance of our local supermarket.

3/08/2020

Thoughts On A Sunday

We’re entering an unseasonably warm stretch of weather, with temperatures expected to reach the 60’s both Monday and Tuesday. While we still have snow cover around The Gulch, I expect most of it will melt away between now and then.

Hopefully the good weather will help bolster voting at our town’s annual town meeting on Tuesday.

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Speaking of town meeting, it is that season in New Hampshire where town residents meet to debate about their town’s budget, changes in town ordinances, or authorizing and funding building projects. A similar even takes place for the town’s schools, usually a day or two before or after town meeting. There’s also voting for town officials and school board members.

Sometimes towns have a combined ‘meeting’ where all voting for both the town and school warrant articles, town officials and school board members takes place at the same time. Our town is one such town.

The voting decides what our town and schools will spend over the upcoming fiscal year and in turn that spending determines our property tax rates. Residents who can’t be bothered to vote lose the right to complain about their taxes, at least until the following year.

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Should we shift permanently to Daylight Savings Time? I know I am in favor of it, at least here in New England as it makes more sense to do so considering we’re at the extreme eastern edge of the Eastern Time Zone. We’re more in line with the Atlantic Time Zone. So for us it makes sense. For others, it may not.

Frankly, I’m tired of having to deal with the time changes in November and March. They serve no useful purpose.

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First, Wikipedia deletes a list of scientists who are climate skeptics. Wikipedia explains the deletion using a rather lame reason – PC scientific ‘consensus’.

Here’s the reasoning for the censorship given by one of the Wiki editors:

“The result was delete. This is because I see a consensus here that there is no value in having a list that combines the qualities of a) being a scientist, in the general sense of that word, and b) disagreeing with the scientific consensus on global warming.”

Wikipedia

That’s it, Wikipedia, be all politically correct and delete opinions and information that doesn’t follow the narrative. No dissension allowed. How open-minded of you.

Second, there’s this from the London Times by way of Watts Up With That: Coronavirus will Kill All the Old Climate Skeptics.

Don’t take this the wrong way but if you were a young, hardline environmentalist looking for the ultimate weapon against climate change, you could hardly design anything better than coronavirus.

Unlike most other such diseases, it kills mostly the old who, let’s face it, are more likely to be climate sceptics. It spares the young. Most of all, it stymies the forces that have been generating greenhouse gases for decades.

As the saying goes “Be careful what you wish for. You just might get it...good and hard.

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Yet one more thing bad about coronavirus has nothing to do with the disease and everything to do with politics.

On MSNBC, a Friday panel discussion turned into a pep rally for a deadly disease, as Nicolle Wallace and her guests speculated that coronavirus could inflict political damage on President Trump:

Wallace, who worked in the Bush administration during the deadly storm, sees an opportunity for the media to blame President Trump for the virus the same way the media blamed President Bush for Hurricane Katrina.

“We gave them a proof point that we were indeed incompetent and also people died,” Wallace characterized the Bush administration’s response to Katrina. “I mean, this has the making structurally for the same kind of moment for President Trump.”

The panel was optimistic that enough babies, friends, loved ones and old people would perish from the virus that Trump’s solid base of support would finally begin to waver.

“And if there’s any a moment that would shake that 40 percent, the folks that would allow him to shoot someone right down fifth — if there’s any a moment, it’s this one because it’s babies, it’s friends, it’s loved ones,” said Eddie Glaude Jr., an African American Studies professor. “And so it seems to me that this is an event that could take down the president.”

“The panel was optimistic that enough babies, friends, loved ones and old people would perish from the virus that Trump’s solid base of support would finally begin to waver.” That’s sick, twisted. That they would wish death upon innocents just to ‘get Trump’ shows us it is them we should fear, not Trump.

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The ban on plastic bags may seem like a good idea on the face of it. But it turns out it’s more virtue signaling than anything that is helpful to the environment.

Banning plastic bags is costly for lower-income shoppers and an inconvenience especially for the elderly. Dirty reusable bags are also a breeding ground for bacteria. They can cause virus outbreaks and deaths from food-borne illnesses. Not to mention, plastic bags make up a minuscule amount of the visible litter nationwide.

--snip--

As I explained when this proposal passed last year, people don’t tend to clean their reusable bags often enough or at all. As a result, they become receptacles for bacteria and germs that get passed onto the food items they transport. I’m sure the people who suffered sickness from an outbreak of norovirus because of a reusable grocery bag left in a hotel bathroom, would have a lot to say. In the three months after San Francisco banned plastic bags, the number of foodborne-illness deaths rose 46 percent.

Also, who said plastic bags are single-use? Many people use them to line their bathroom garbage bins or scoop up dog poop. I wonder what they will use now? Perhaps smaller plastic bags.

I know we reuse our plastic bags, mostly to line our small trash cans. I know others in our town use them to pick up dog poop when they take their dogs to one of our public parks. The rest we recycle at our local supermarket. Most of the folks I know around here do the same thing.

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And that’s the news from Lake Winnipesaukee, where the snow has been melting away, thoughts of the coming boating season are already intruding, and where town meetings will be taking place this coming week.

3/07/2020

Is Covid-19 Teaching Us How To Better Deal With The Next Outbreak?

The media is still stirring up the hype about Covid-19, becoming increasingly shrill in their efforts to prove to us that “We’re all gonna DIE!!!” (Well, maybe it isn’t that bad...yet, but the coverage has been learning more towards an apocalyptic viewpoint. Being a curmudgeonly semi-cynic, I’m going to assume it’s to raise viewership and not to actually inform the people.)

Looking at the total number of reported cases of Covid-19 and the number of deaths reported, it looks like the mortality rate is holding somewhere around 3%, about 3 times higher than the estimated mortality rate for influenza.

In light of that there is a ray of hope that something like Covid-19 can be handled better in the future. Zoologist Peter Daszak, a researcher working in China, has been studying the connections between human and wildlife health. Even as this out break is being contained, he says that it won’t be the last one.

A few years back, Daszak was working with the World Health Organization, plotting out what the next global pandemic could look like, when he and some other scientists came up with the idea of “Disease X.” Disease X would hit this epidemiological sweet spot: It would transmit easily from person to person, and it would be deadly, but not too deadly. Even though scientists like him knew this sort of virus was coming, the world didn’t get ready, not soon enough.

--snip--

We’re going to get bigger pandemics, and they’re going to happen more often. But if we pay close attention to what’s happening right now, next time could be different.

Daszak says what needs to be done is to search out the viruses out there in the wild, classify them and their DNA, and develop tests to identify those who become infected and create the vaccines against the infectious viruses. As he states, the viruses are out there and the reason we’re seeing more of them is because or our interactions with the diverse wildlife surrounding us, particularly as we move into areas where wildlife lives. Waiting until a virus crosses over into humans and spreads through the population may mean it’s already too late.

Considering preventative measures can be less expensive than trying to contain an outbreak once a virus is loose in the population, it is something we should consider. Seeing how diseases like Ebola, SARS, and MERS kill, and seeing how others like Covid-19 can spread before someone infected with it is symptomatic, a disease with the characteristics of Ebola and Covid-19 are a nightmare. Being prepared ahead of time can short-circuit any future outbreaks. With that in mind, the question becomes whether we will make the effort to do so or choose to ignore it because it’s too “icky” to ponder?

3/04/2020

Check Schumer Publicly Threatens Two Supreme Court Justices

It seems Senator Schumer (D-NY) still hasn’t learned when to keep his mouth shut. One would think he would have learned that lesson when he single-handedly killed IndyMac Bank back in 2008 by saying in public that it was on the verge of failure. (It wasn’t.) His big mouth caused a $3 billion-plus run on the bank that in turn did cause it to fail.

His latest “Gee, I should have kept my big yap shut” moment: Threatening two Supreme Court Justices in regard to an abortion case being heard by the Court.

“I want to tell you, Gorsuch, I want to tell you, Kavanaugh: You have released the whirlwind, and you will pay the price," Schumer said to a chorus of cheers. "You won't know what hit you if you go forward with these awful decisions."

Schumer has since explained that the warning was aimed at Republicans, but anyone with a modicum of intelligence does not appear to be buying it. If someone said that to me, I would assume it was a threat. It sounds like a threat. It wasn’t a general statement that could be interpreted as being aimed at someone else. The two Justices were mentioned by name, and Schumer’s statement “You won't know what hit you if you go forward with these awful decisions” would be difficult to defend as being aimed at Republicans.

Schumer’s threat drew a curt response from Chief Justice Roberts.

This morning, Senator Schumer spoke at a rally in front of the Supreme Court while a case was being argued inside. Senator Schumer referred to two Members of the Court by name and said he wanted to tell them that "You have released the whirlwind, and you will pay the price. You will not know what hit you if you go forward with these awful decisions." Justices know that criticism comes with the territory, but threatening statements of this sort from the highest levels of government are not only inappropriate, they are dangerous. All Members of the Court will continue to do their job, without fear or favor, from whatever quarter.

Schumer may not realize it, but his threat violates Federal law, specifically 18 U.S. Code § 115. But somehow I doubt he’s worried about that as it is apparent he believes he is above the law. Certainly some of his previous actions seem to bear this out.

You’re a class act, Chuck. I strongly suggest you consider going into a different line of work.

3/01/2020

Thoughts On A Sunday

It’s been a quiet weekend here at The Gulch with no major doings having taken place and the most exciting thing taking place being breakfast with my ex and my mom at one of our favorite diners.

Not that I mind a quiet weekend now and then. About the only chores I attended to this weekend were a trip to the dump and taking care of laundry. It allowed me to kick back and not have to worry or deal with anything of import, giving me a chance to recharge my batteries before returning to work on Monday.

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Does anyone need yet another example of the Law of Unintended Consequences and how California’s AB-5 anti-gig law is a extinguishing a long-standing music festival enjoyed by patrons for 40+ years.

“...the Lake Tahoe Music Festival will call a wrap to our summer festival with two performances in August 2020,” the Festival announced in an email that we received.

“New CA employment law AB-5 requirements add to the challenge of meeting our financial goals and create the final stressor on our small non-profit organization. For several years we have experienced the same slowly eroding philanthropic support of cultural life faced by other small arts organizations in our state.”

“We now join many who also face uncertainty regarding increased employment costs and infrastructure needs associated with AB-5. So we will bring our festival to a close with pride in our long-time contribution to community life in North Tahoe and Truckee.”

This is what happens when poorly thought out or poorly motivated legislation is ramrodded through with little thought and lack of questioning the motivation of those pushing the legislation.

While originally aimed at Uber and Lyft, the effects of the legislation have been far reaching, affecting workers all throughout California and costing many of them jobs that fit their needs. The independent trucking industry in California sued, getting a court to stay implementing AB-5 in regard to the trucking industry based upon its conflict with federal regulations. That doesn’t help freelance writers and photographers, software contractors, and a whole host of other contract employees that have seen their jobs disappear not because of economic conditions, but because a nanny state government figured it knew better what the people needed...but it was wrong and citizens it was supposedly helping are now losing their jobs because of the legislature’s willful ignorance. It doesn’t matter if the intent was good. The outcome was the opposite of what was expected, except by those who were going to be affected.

Welcome to the Pyrite State.

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The mortality rate for coronavirus is now 5.5% based upon the most recent figures released by the Iranian government.

That’s still quite high, but a lot better than the original 20% it seemed to be.

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A sad side-effect of the coronavirus?

A survey has shown 38% of Americans asked are avoiding Corona beer because of the similarly named virus.

Would these same Americans avoid Coors beer if there were a coorsvirus, or PBR if there were a pabstvirus, or Sam Adams if there were an samadamsvirus?

Probably. *sigh*

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It’s about time and now we can all breathe a sign of relief.

Democrat Presidential hopeful Tom Steyer ended his campaign after spending over $3000 per vote received and an endless series of boring, insulting, misleading and arrogant campaign TV ads. He gained zero delegates after spending a little over a quarter of a billion dollars on his campaign.

He would have been better off if he’d given me the $253 million he spent as I would have used it more wisely and created a lot of jobs in the process...and we’d never have had to see those gawdawful campaign TV ads.

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This is just sick and shows just how far we have fallen.

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Is there anything 5G isn’t going to be able to do?

While promises about 5G capabilities range far and wide, I have to wonder how much more it will really do that 4G/LTE isn’t already providing. Depending upon the applications and physical location, I honestly don’t see how much different it will be than what we presently enjoy. This is particularly true in rural areas, and specifically on farms.

For those of you who are less technically inclined, the 5G many are oohing-and-aahing over won’t exist in rural areas. That’s because of the short range nature of the new 5G radio bands. In urban and thickly/moderately settled suburban areas the high speed 5G deployments make sense. Because of the large number of 5G cells required to provide service as compared to 4G/LTE, the Return-On-Investment exists to make the deployment worthwhile. But in more thinly settled suburban and rural areas, the ROI doesn’t exist, so there isn’t likely to be build-outs of high speed 5G cells in those areas.

But what gets me is that the claim that 5G would “revolutionize farming” is the exact same claim that was made for 4G/LTE. What makes 5G any different? Nothing, really. It all boils down to what the farmers decide they’re going to do with the technology already available to them to help them use “wireless sensors… to monitor field conditions and detect when crops need watering, pesticides, or fertilizer, experts say. It could also help with tracking livestock and guiding agricultural drones and self-driving tractors.” The smart farmers are already using much of this technology. Adding 5G isn’t going to change any of that or make it any easier than it already is.

Not that 5G isn’t cool. It will offer a lot more bandwidth than 4G, provide higher speed fixed wireless links to the Internet, and be able to connect more wireless users than at present. It will offer and incrementally larger number of new services, but nothing earth-shattering.

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Now that the South Carolina Primaries are out of the way and the Democrat field has been thinned a bit more, it’s time to prepare ourselves for Super Tuesday, an orgy of media pandering and self-congratulations. I have a feeling that a lot of people are going to be devoutly ignoring Super Tuesday until it’s over and done with. I know I am. But then I’m still feeling burned out from the New Hampshire Primary last month.

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And that’s the news from Lake Winnipesaukee, where we’ll be going from below normal temperatures to above normal temperatures in a matter of a couple of days, the snow has finally melted from the roof here at The Gulch, and where we’re soon approaching a much anticipated return to Daylight Savings Time.

2/29/2020

Coronavirus - Hysteria Or Justifiable Concerns

Reading the various reports, articles, and opinions as well as the various TV reports about Covid-19, one would think it’s either much ado about nothing, Captain Trips (of The Stand) come to life, or somewhere between those two extremes.

It hasn’t been easy trying to parse fact from fiction, separating the factual ‘wheat’ from the mythical ‘chaff’ of hysteria, ignorance, and fear.

Is the coronavirus the next Black Plague or Spanish Flu? Is it nothing more than just another influenza?

It is not just another version of the flu as it has some different characteristics outside what is usually seen with influenza, one of the biggest being that those infected with it are contagious about seven days before symptoms appear. With flu, a patient isn’t infectious until they become symptomatic, generally speaking.

Covid-19 is airborne and can also be spread through feces. Flu can be spread through droplets when someone sneezes, coughs, or through contact with the virus on a surface which is then transferred to the nose, mouth, or eyes.

At the moment the mortality rate appears to be higher than the typical influenza outbreak, with flu usually having a mortality rate around 1% or less. Covid-19 has shown a mortality rate of about 3.3% in China (assuming we can believe the numbers from the Chinese government). It’s even higher in Iran, of all places.

So what should we believe about the coronavirus?

First, that it isn’t as bad as the Spanish Flu.

Second, it isn’t the flu though it has many of the same symptoms.

Third, screening isn’t as effective as it is for other illnesses like this due to its ability to be spread while an infected patient is asymptomatic, hence quarantines of those potentially exposed until after the incubation period.

Fourth, it has infected a lot of medical caregivers, particularly in China. I don’t know if the infection rate is higher for Covid-19 among medical personnel than other viral diseases.

I think the best advice is to not overreact, but don’t ignore what’s happening either. There are precautions that can be taken, basically the same ones we hear every flu season: wash your hands regularly, cough or sneeze into the crook of your arm rather than into your hand, and clean regularly touched surfaces with disinfectants as often as is practical. And should you become sick, stay home. Don’t be a ‘hero’ by going to work when you’re sick. You aren’t doing anyone any favors by infecting your co-workers.

2/26/2020

Do We Need Re-education Programs To Help Blue State Refugees Adapt?

I pulled this out of a response I made on Disqus some time ago, something I think would help refugees from Blue states adapt to their new homes.

One of the big worries many folks have (including me) is that folks “from away” have a propensity to try to recreate the places from which they fled, not understanding that many of the things they believe are necessary to have in their towns or states are the very things that helped turned their former homes into places that were no longer livable. Why would they come to a place they see as a refuge and try to turn it into the very place they fled? It is something I have pondered about and commented upon many times over the years.

Much of this comes from a letter I received from the late William Loeb decades ago, as well as an idea that University of Tennessee Law Professor Glenn Reynolds put forth as a means of reducing this problem.

Much of this could be prevented if we follow the late William Loeb's suggestion or Professor Glenn Reynolds' idea of a re-orientation camp/Welcome Wagon - places where newcomers must go to learn "How Things Are Done In Your New Home State And Why" and "Gun Free Zones Kill, Not Law-Abiding Gun Owners" and just as importantly, "The State Ain't Your Mommy Or Daddy, So Grow Up And Be A Self-Reliant Adult". Perhaps some basic "There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch" and "Don't Expect Your Neighbor To Pay For The Things You Think Are Needs But Are Really Just Nice-To-Haves" classes should be thrown in as well. Perhaps throw in some seminars about "When They Say 'It's For The Children', They Are Lying To You And Want More Of Your Money And More Control Over Your Life So Don't Let Them". Probably two of the most important lessons newcomers will have to learn is this one: "We Don't Care How You Did Things Back Where You Came From. You're Here Now." and this one: "If Things Were So Great Back Where You Came From, Why Are You Here? Maybe You Should Go Back There."

If they can't pass the tests that will be mandatory after taking all the classes and seminars, they will have to go back where they came from because they won't be fit enough to be released among the populace.

We see it here all the time, with folks moving here “from away” wanting to change everything here into something resembling the place they left.

2/23/2020

Thoughts On A Sunday

The deep freeze temperatures we have experienced have receded, being replaced with temperatures in the 40’s yesterday and today, and temps in the 50’s tomorrow. I expect we’ll see a lot of melting of ice and snow accumulated over the past few weeks, just in time to make room for more snow and ice. (Statistically, March is the snowiest month of the year here in New England.)

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I have witnessed this first hand.

Much of American industry is looking to retain older workers because it is difficult to replace them, they have a deep understanding of their jobs, and most importantly, they show up. They don’t have issues with kids or heavy social lives like so many younger adults.

According to the US Department of Labor, since March 2018 US monthly job vacancies have outnumbered unemployed job seekers. As the baby boomers reach retirement, it seems there are not enough millennials in the jobs pipeline ready to step in.

"We have a labour shortage and it's going to be a problem for the next couple of decades as the boomers leave the workforce," says Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Analytics.

So, one answer for companies struggling to find staff is to ask workers...to put off retirement.

I have seen that on more than one occasion in a number of companies in my neck of the woods. I expect it will become more common going forward.

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Another business related issue, that being problems with the supply chain disruptions caused by Covid-19 virus, is making the headlines.

I’ve been seeing that with my company, with some of our suppliers in China being unable to deliver parts ordered some time ago. Originally many of them were supposed to reopen on February 14th, but for those located in Wuhan that has been delayed for an indefinite period.

This does not bode well as the Chinese government sources have been saying one thing and our suppliers have been telling us something else. I have more reason to believe our suppliers rather than the official government line.

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You know it’s getting bad (and stupid) when students at a Catholic school (Kennedy Catholic High School in Seattle, Washington) protest that their religious high school is too Catholic and too religious.

Say what?

Over in Seattle, Washington, some students attending a Catholic private religious high school think they know better than everyone else about what Catholicism teaches because they’re abject degenerate idiots.

--snip--

GUYS. IF YOU DON’T BELIEVE IN CATHOLICISM DO NOT GO TO A CATHOLIC SCHOOL.

Sounds like good advice to me.

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Have any of you noticed something missing at the Democrat debates? I have to admit that I didn’t until it was pointed out to me.

That missing something?

There are no American flags evident. Not one.

One has to wonder: What message is the DNC is sending?

I doubt it is an oversight on their part.

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Is the #Tradwife movement gaining momentum?

In a culture that has championed feminism, the Women’s March, #MeToo, and national campaigns to close the gender pay gap, life as a full-time homemaker seems anything but progressive. And yet, the growing #TradWife social media movement celebrates the classic domestic female as its role model.

The movement, often illustrated with 1950s posters of apple-cheeked housewives brandishing vacuums or serving their husbands dinner, consists of a growing multitude of women who proclaim their choice to be “traditional” wives by staying at home and fulfilling household duties rather than pursuing a career outside the home.

Not surprisingly, the trend has met fierce backlash. Critics have called it backwards, dangerous, and even racist. The reactions generally claim either that misogynistic males are hypnotizing their wives into submission, or that women who somehow prefer domestic life are spreading an insidious message that hinders the female crusade for equality.

While I have no thoughts on this movement either way (the WP Mom was not a traditional housewife my any means), I would think that people would support any woman who chose to fulfill such a role. However, that has not been the case, as seen in the quote above. So much for tolerance for other people’s choices or their way of life.

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And that’s the news from Lake Winnipesaukee, where the sun is shining, the temperatures are getting warmer, and where there is going to be a lot of snow and ice melting over the next few days.

2/22/2020

From The Archives - Liberalism Versus Conservatism

The following post has come to use via the Weekend Pundit archives, posted originally back in October of 2013. Not much seems to have changed since then other than the definition of “liberal”. For the following piece, “liberal” should be replaced with “progressive” as classic liberals aren't anything like those describing themselves as liberals today.

=+=+=+=+=+=


It seems I'm not the only one that understands one basic truth about the difference between liberals and conservatives when it comes to the human condition.

Dinesh D'Souza writes about political speech and how it differs between liberalism and conservatism. One of the more common differences is the outlook on equality. For liberals it's all about equality of outcome. For conservatives it's about equality of opportunity. The former is almost impossible to achieve unless the desired outcome is to make sure everyone is equally miserable, destitute, and terrorized by the powers-that-be. The latter is difficult as it requires constant vigilance, but it is possible to achieve as we've seen more than once in our own history.

Equality of outcome usually entails embracing the lowest common denominator, something that has always failed. Despite claims that they want to 'pull everyone up to a higher level', in practice liberals tend to pull everyone down to a level no one wants to inhabit. Competition is eliminated because it might hurt someone's feelings or self-esteem. (Self-esteem is vastly overrated. There are plenty of people on death row that have great self-esteem, so it's no measure of success.) It's a great system for discouraging anyone from trying to better themselves because there is no reward for doing so. Instead such ambition is punished and diminished. The results are predictable (at least to non-liberals), disappointing, and baffling to the very people who implemented the system.

Equality of opportunity almost always results in a better outcome. Even failure can have positive results as it can often spur people on to greater efforts. (Ask any successful entrepreneur or business owner and you'll find that almost all of them failed at some point, in some cases more than once.) In the long run everyone benefits, both socially and financially, even the failures.

But one of the biggest differences between the two political camps is their understanding of human nature. To put it simply, liberals don't understand it and conservatives do.

At root, conservatives and liberals have two different conceptions of human nature that cause them to see the world so differently. Liberals tend to believe in Rousseau’s proposition that human nature is intrinsically good. Therefore they believe that people who fail or do bad things are not acting out of laziness or wickedness; rather, society put them in this unfortunate position. Since people are innately good, liberals hold that the great conflicts in the world are not the result of good versus evil; rather they arise out of terrible misunderstandings that can be corrected through ongoing conversation and through the mediation of groups like the United Nations. Finally the liberal’s high opinion of human nature leads to the view that if you give people autonomy they will use their freedom well.

Conservatives know better. Conservatives recognize that there are two principles in human nature—good and evil—and these are in constant conflict. Given the warped timber of humanity, conservatives seek a social structure that helps to bring out the best in human nature and suppress man’s lower or base impulses. Conservatives support capitalism because it is a way of steering our natural pursuit of self-interest toward the material betterment of society at large. Conservatives insist that there are evil regimes and destructive forces in the world that cannot be talked out of their nefarious objectives; force is an indispensable element of international relations. Finally conservatives support autonomy when it is attached to personal responsibility—when people are held accountable for their actions—but they also believe in the indispensability of moral incubators (the family, civic institutions) that are aimed at instructing people to choose virtue over vice.

Unfortunately the liberal trust that deep down inside everyone is good has been disproven time and again throughout history. There are too many examples of people who were so effin' evil that no amount of feel good platitudes and singing “Kumbaya” can fix them. You can't explain away those like Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, Saddam Hussein, and many others by blaming it on society. Even 'innocent' children show their savage side when left to their own devices. How do you explain the bullying committed by kids from otherwise good homes, bullying that is cruel to an extreme? If people were innately good such a thing would be rare. But given the opportunity kids will hoist the Jolly Roger and 'pillage and plunder' their way through their peers without giving a damn about the consequences. And with no restraints and no real consequences it can become something right out of The Lord Of The Flies. Conservatives understand this. Liberals do not, and it seems all of their policies are based upon that lack of understanding. It also explains why so many of their policies fail to meet expectations, and in too many cases, make things worse than if they did nothing.

2/19/2020

Bernie Sanders Assaulted In Reno

It seems that political violence in the US is spreading. So reports the nation’s new Newspaper of Record, in this case about an assault on Democrat Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.

RENO, NV—Bernie Sanders supporters were shocked today when they saw him hobble into a campaign event looking quite battered and covered in one hundred-dollar bills. Sanders claims this was the result of an attack by a group of billionaires.

Sanders said he was out in the streets of Reno at 2 a.m. to purchase a can of beans to eat when suddenly he was approached by two billionaires in ski masks and expensive tailored suits who shouted, “This is billionaire country!” The billionaires began pelting Sanders with stacks of one hundred dollar bills while yelling derogatory things at him, like, “You’re just a millionaire; that’s only one step above being poor!”

“Billionaires are a menace!” yelled a shaking Sanders to a crowd of supporters. “They’re after me, and they must be stopped!”

Some have questioned the details of the attack, as it was extremely unusual for Sanders to still be up at 2 a.m., since he usually goes to bed at 6 p.m. after his 4 p.m. dinner. Still, police are questioning all nearby billionaires, and unfortunately, most of them don’t have alibis, as billionaires do tend to disappear at night, either to fight crime as costumed vigilantes or to manage hedge funds.

Indeed.

2/16/2020

Thoughts On A Sunday

It was a chilly morning here at The Gulch yesterday morning, hitting -8ºF and reaching 17ºF as a high. It was nice and sunny all day, giving an impression it was warmer than it really was. At least there was little, if any wind, which made it less biting that it otherwise might have been.

It was quite a bit warmer today, promoting some melting of the ice and packed snow from our last bit of winter weather.

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On more than one occasion I have covered issues dealing with the cable/satellite TV industry, how the content providers determine what the cable/satellite companies will charge for video programming, cable/satellite companies dropping some providers, the imbalance between the number of channels received in a customer’s home and the number of channels actually watched, and the increasing number of people dropping their cable/satellite subscriptions in favor of a streaming service like Netflix, Hulu, Prime, CBS All Access, Disney+, and a host of other services.

Yet another blow to cable/satellite pay TV services is the decrease in the number of channels coming into homes. “...the average number of channels received by U.S. TV households fell precipitously to 179.5 in 2019 from 191.8 in 2018.” However, the prices charged to subscribers either remained the same or rose.

While the average number of channels received has been declining since it peaked in 2005, 2019's 6.5% decline was a pronounced drop.

It could reflect that American households are cutting back on their subscription TV channel packages, especially as more of them move to premium and ad-supported OTT subscription services, but whatever the case, it is notable and something to keep an eye on.

The traditional linear TV business model is coming apart as content providers keep jacking up prices and cable/satellite TV companies keep shedding customers.

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This does not bode well for the Pyrite State.

Half of California’s registered voters said they have either given serous or some thought to leaving the state.

It’s not surprising considering the hostile business and political environment.

The state’s Republicans have come to feel like second-class citizens, shut out of much of the political process, particularly in light of the state’s so-called “Jungle Primary” system which leads most state office elections to see one Democrat running against another Democrat.

Much of the middle class cites the high cost of housing as another factor motivating them to leave. That can be laid at the feet of highly restrictive housing and zoning laws that make it unattractive to build anything other than higher end housing. Some cities, like San Francisco, are so restrictive it can take years to get construction of housing approved and just as long to get the requisite permits to start construction. That restricts the supply of housing and also drives the cost of that new housing up because any developer is going to build housing that gives them enough return on investment to offset the cost of getting the housing approved.

High taxes is another reason for so many considering leaving the state.

California, which has the highest income tax rates in the U.S., is already losing residents to lower-tax states.

As previously reported by FOX Business, more than 86,160 Golden State residents left for Texas in 2018, and 68,516 went to Arizona. More than 55,460 left for Washington, and more than 50,700 went to Nevada. Of those top four destinations, three have no state income tax. Arizona does, but rates are significantly lower than in California.

According to IRS data, California lost about $8 billion in 2018 thanks to the outflow of residents.

It’s not just income taxes but business taxes that have increased the burden upon California businesses.

One has to wonder if a tipping point will be reached and California will see its bigger businesses and wealthier residents leaving the state, and with it, its tax base.

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This ought to fill people working for Michael Bloomberg with paranoia. In this case, righteous paranoia.

Pro -Bernie Blogger Warns People Who Work For Bloomberg: "It's very important for us to create a black list of every operative who works on the Bloomberg campaign"

Gee, I’m hearing echos of the KGB in a statement like that. Then again Bernie is a Bolshevik.

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The nation’s former “Newspaper of Record”, the New York Times and the UK’s The Guardian, have slammed President Trump for rolling back over-the-top environmental regulations, but it has backfired on them because the International Energy Agency issued a report showing the US saw the largest decline in energy-related CO2 emissions in 2019 on a country basis – a fall of 140 Mt, or 2.9%, to 4.8 Gt. US emissions are now down almost 1 Gt from their peak in the year 2000.

From the NYT:

"President Trump has made eliminating federal regulations a priority. His administration, with help from Republicans in Congress, has often targeted environmental rules it sees as burdensome to the fossil fuel industry and other big businesses."

It’s interesting that we can get rid of over-reaching environmental regulations and still have cleaner air and water while decreasing our CO2 emissions, and doing it better than any of the nations participating in the Paris Accords.

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And that’s the news from Lake Winnipesaukee, where the weather is up-and-down, one set of school February vacations start, and Monday has returned all too soon even though it is a holiday.

2/15/2020

Socialism - A Lesson In Failure That Must Learned Again...And Again

I have lost count of how many times I have written on the subject of socialism and hwy it has been an abject failure over the past 400 years its history. (Yes, it existed long before the likes of Marx or Engels codified it.) Since the lessons of those failures have been devoutly ignored or explained away, it is tried again and again. The problem is that the results are always the same – economic damage leading to collapse, poverty, misery, and in many cases, tyranny. It is a living example of Albert Einstein’s definition of insanity: Doing the same thing over and over, but expecting a different result this time.

Every time it fails the same excuses are offered - “Outside forces inimical to socialism worked to destroy it” or “The right people weren’t in charge” or “True socialism has never been tried” or “The people refused to embrace socialism and give of themselves fully.” There’s always some excuse for why it failed except for “It just doesn’t work and never will.”

There is an explanation for why “it just doesn’t work” and it can be expressed in two words.

Human nature.

Socialism ignores human nature, tries to go against it, and as such it always fails. Any system that ignores human nature fails. Socialism assumes that it will appeal to the better nature of the people, but it does just the opposite, something Winston Churchill understood all too well.

“Socialism is the philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy.”

“The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings. The inherent virtue of Socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.”

Churchill had read the the back and forth between Robert Blatchford, a committed socialist and founder of the socialist weekly newspaper The Clarion, and Gilbert Keith Chesterton, a “30-year-old near-nobody” who took Blatchford’s call to socialism as a challenge, writing a number of responses to Blatchford’s calls for socialism, dismantling each of his arguments and pointing out that he had no understanding of what drove people, i.e. human nature.

Churchill had the advantage of having seen socialism decades after Blatchford’s support of it, support based upon ignorance and wishful thinking. He saw first hand the privations, the misery, the tyranny. He knew that Chesterton was right and that there was no utopia to be brought into being through socialism. It would create only Hell on Earth.

Since Churchill’s time we have seen the socialist experiment tried again...and again. We have seen it fail again...and again. The Soviet Union, one of the biggest and longest experiments in socialism failed after 74 years. China, brought under the power of socialism in 1949, was an economic basket case until it learned the lesson of the Soviet Union’s dissolution, abandoned socialism and embraced capitalism, though keeping its tyrannical government. Vietnam did pretty much the same thing. Cambodia was taken by the Khmer Rouge, converted into an agrarian socialist ‘utopia’, killing off a third of its population in a purge of ‘anti-socialist forces’, and then came apart when the Khmer Rouge were driven from power. (It still hasn’t recovered from those dark days.) Cuba is a basket case and has been since 1961. Nicaragua escaped socialism in the 80’s, but was pulled back into it and has become a backwater as a result. Venezuela embraced socialism and went from being the wealthiest nation in South America to the poorest as socialism dismantled its economy, infrastructure, agriculture, schools, government institutions, and created nothing but misery among its citizens.

We have heard proponents of socialism pointing to the Nordic nations as examples of socialism done right, but those very same nations will tell you that they aren’t socialists as they embrace none of the economic tenets of socialism, have no control of the economy, nor do they want it. They are welfare states, providing many services but taxing their populace at very high rates. But they are finding the level of services they are providing is taking an increasingly large toll on their economy and have been backing away from many of the social programs they have provided. Even their “Socialist Lite” system is starting to run out of other people’s money and isn’t sustainable.

We’re going to keep hearing about the wonderful “benefits” of socialism here in the US, particularly in light of the ongoing Presidential campaigns, even though some the candidates and their supporters won’t call it that. It’s best that we keep in mind the miserable record of socialism and its various flavors, and stay as far away from it as we can. Otherwise we could end up being the next example of how it doesn’t work.

I don’t know about you, but I have no desire to live in an America like that described in Kurt Schlicter’s People’s Republic.

2/13/2020

You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet

These days it’s rare that people don’t worry about what they say, write, or think at the workplace. Everything and anything can be misconstrued as racist/sexist/whateverist by an overly sensitive co-worker and cost someone their job, or worse, their entire career, their reputation, their home, and their family.

As bad as it is, it’s about to get worse.

In the near future it isn’t just your co-worker you have to worry about, but a new surveillance system that can be used to analyze everything you do, say, write, and perhaps think. Call it “ ‘1984’ meets ‘The Office’ ”.

One minute you are contemplating your next vacation, the next you click on Facebook and see adverts for hotels and cheap flights. Coincidence? Surely. But what about that smart speaker in your kitchen? It doesn’t just play music and provide an on-demand weather forecast. It hears about the groceries that need replenishing, the cat’s trip to the vet, and, of course, your vacation plans.

Now imagine what such a listening device could do in the workplace. The whispered conversation about difficulties with your latest project is automatically reported to your manager. The half hour spent discussing child care arrangements is sent to Human Resources. And what about the things you don’t say: the colleague you don’t greet in the morning, the co-worker you never ask to join you for coffee? These non-conversations are likewise noted and filed away to be discussed at your next appraisal.

--snip--

This yet-to-be-invented machine is already being heralded for its potential to revolutionize equality and diversity in the workplace by alerting users to instances of implicit bias. It will record verbal and nonverbal cues, as well as the “physiological signals” shared between members of a team. Then, having noted and analyzed all these tiny interactions and non-interactions, the speaker will make recommendations for improving inclusivity and productivity.

To any sane person, this is a truly terrifying prospect – not because we arrive at the office each morning desperate to dole out racist and sexist abuse to our colleagues, but because of the opposite: we want to get on with our jobs and get on with our co-workers. We know that a spying machine, watching, listening, monitoring, and advising, is far more likely to interrupt our work and fuel dissent than it is to increase productivity.

It’s already bad enough in a lot of workplaces and these folks want to make the paranoia and distrust that exists in those businesses and crank the level up to “11”. That’s going to work.

NOT.

This will end up being misused and it’s going to backfire, causing more problems than this technology is supposed to solve.

2/09/2020

Thoughts On A Sunday

It was below zero here at The Gulch this morning, something that added insult to injury as the snow, sleet and freezing rain mix we got on Friday is now a solid frozen mass. That means those who did not get out early enough to shovel and scrape before everything froze solid will have to live with the ice and ‘stubble’ until things thaw out.

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The TDS is strong in this one.

Apparently MSNBC anchor Katy Tur has absolutely no understanding of the US Constitution and that Senators represent their states and not a Congressional District. Each state is represented by two senators, regardless of whether they are large or small. There are 50 states and 100 senators. That isn’t going to change. The Founders set it up that way to help balance the House, which has Congressional Districts of roughly equal populations. That’s why some states have more House Representatives than others. This is something that bothers Tur to no end, particularly in regard to the Senate’s vote to acquit President Trump. Her ‘cure’ for the Senate? Gerrymandering.

...Tur wondered what could be done to prevent Republicans from winning statewide elections for U.S. Senate seats across the country: “So what’s the resolution to that? Is gerrymandering something that would help improve the situation? Is – how does that sort of divide promote consensus in the Senate or even in the House?”

Bump was forced to awkwardly correct her and explain the obvious: “Well, I mean, the only resolution – gerrymandering is not going to do anything because in the Senate we’re talking about states, right? You can’t gerrymander states.” He then delivered more tough news: “The only solution is for Democrats to appeal to voters in those states.”

What, you mean Democrats might actually have to go out and campaign, garner votes, and win elections?

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The analysis of this past Friday’s Democrat Debate shows that the front-runners didn’t do so well, with some of them ganging up on Bernie for his pie-in-the-sky Medicare-for-All plans without any thought about how to pay for it other than “We’ll figure it out later.”

Yeah, that’s worked out so well in the past.

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Yet another member of the inclusive, tolerant, ‘diverse’ Left showed his true colors when he tried to run down workers at a Republican voter registration tent at the parking lot in front of a Walmart in Jacksonville, Florida. After driving through the tent, the driver of the van got out, took video of the scene, flipped off the registration workers, got back into his van and drove off.

Class act, that one.

The James Hodgkinson wannabe, one Gregory Timm, was later arrested by the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office. Timm was charge with Aggravated Assault, Criminal Mischief, and Driving While Driver’s License Suspended. Other charges may be forthcoming.

This clown is a real winner. One has to wonder how many others like Timm and Hodgkinson are out there, planning further mayhem.

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These climate change alarmist a**holes have gone too far!

They’re now claiming that climate change is going to affect the global Oreo supply.

This. Means. WAR!

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I saw this over at Sarah Hoyt’s, and it’s something I have always known but never put into words.

The Asymmetric Bullshit Rule: The amount of energy necessary to refute bullshit is an order of magnitude bigger than to produce it.

As they say up here in northern New England: Ayuh.

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I can agree with this wholeheartedly.

When You Lose, Say Little. When You Win, Say Less.

As much as I like Donald Trump, there are times when I wish he would followed this rule.

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This is how you do not tow your car out of ditch.

First, I would have towed the car from the front.

Second, I would have attached the tow line to the front of the tow vehicle and had it back up because then the driver could see what was happening to the car it was towing out of the ditch.

But that’s just me.

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It’s time for the climate alarmists and their offspring to stop just talking the talk. It’s time for them to walk the walk.



If they don’t practice what they preach then we can safely ignore them

To paraphrase the Instaprof, “We’ll start listening to those who keep telling us there’s a climate crisis when they start acting like there’s a climate crisis.” At the moment that isn’t happening. It seems to me that too many of them expect everyone else to make the sacrifices necessary to “save” the planet.

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And that’s the news from Lake Winnipesaukee, where there’s more snow on the way, the New Hampshire Primary is Tuesday, and where the bleating pols and their media sycophants will be gone the day after that.

2/07/2020

Democrat Debate Reaction

I made an effort to watch the Democrat Presidential Debate in New Hampshire tonight. I lasted about 40 minutes and I had to turn it off. I was getting too angry listening to the outright lies, fabrications, and a ton of wishful thinking masquerading as deep thought and wisdom. It seems every single candidate thinks the economy is broken and needs to be fixed. Of course, by ‘fixed’, they mean returning to tried and true regulations and economic policies guaranteed to damage the economy and return us to the bad old days of the Obama economy.

Three of the candidates want to plunge us back into recession by banning fracking, one of the biggest drivers of our economic recovery. It seems they don’t care if that action does so because “it’s for our own good.” Of course these same candidates are insulated from the effects of such a recession because they’re wealthy. The average Janes and Joes will be the ones paying the price, something these candidates are choosing to ignore for the same “it’s for our own good” reason.

There’s a push for Medicare For All, yet none of candidates pushing for it seem willing to discuss how it will be funded.

But it was Steyer’s self serving and arrogant rant against Trump that finally drove me to turn off the TV.

2/04/2020

State Of The Union 2020

I’ve been thinking this State Of The Union address is going to be interesting in more than one way, particularly in light the Democrats’ Impeachment debacle and the Iowa Caucuses fiasco. If nothing else I think we’ll see many of the Democrat Presidential hopefuls see some of the campaign issues become moot.

Some have been trying to use the “horrible” economy as an issue despite the fact that the economy is strong in so many areas.

That AOC and Mad Max Waters won’t be attending the SOTU is a plus.

+++++


Right out of the box the President brought up the strength of the economy and how it is uplifting everyone (except maybe for the Democrat hopefuls).

Interesting to see the Democrats sitting silently, refusing to react to the good economic news as they know they won’t be able use the economy as a campaign issue to hammer Trump. Sour grapes, I guess.

Minority unemployment at record lows. Majority of new jobs created taken by women. Pension funds and 401(k)’s seeing record gains.

The bottom half of households in our nation have seen their net worth grow by 47%—more than three times faster than the top 1%. (Something the Democrats don’t seem to like very much.)

Energy independence, something else the Democrats don’t like. “Thanks to our bold regulatory reduction campaign, the United States has become the number one producer of oil and natural gas in the world, by far.”

“America is the place where the action is.”

NAFTA is gone and replaced by USMCA agreement. Jobs are coming back to the US.

A trade agreement with China!

Pelosi looks like she’s about to vomit.

Space Force created.

Brigadier General McGee – Tuskegee Airman.

School choice!

Better tech curriculum in all high schools

Improve health insurance, price transparency, preserve Medicare and Social Security.

“We will never allow socialism to destroy American health care.”

More than a few Congressional Democrats constantly shaking their heads. Perhaps they are seeing their career dissipation lights flashing in the corner of their eyes?

Overdose deaths down for first time in years.

A tribute to Rush Limbaugh. Melania placing the Medal of Freedom around Rush’s neck.

Wants legislation to ban late-term abortions.

Rebuild America’s infrastructure – roads, bridges, highways, high speed Internet for rural America.

Ban sanctuary cities/states from shielding criminal illegal aliens and allow victims of such illegal aliens to sue the sanctuary cities/states.

Nancy does not look happy.

Large number of federal judges (187) appointed including Supreme Court Justices Gorsuch and Kavanaugh.

Will work to protect the right to Keep and Bear Arms.

Wants America to return to the moon and be first nation to plant its flag on the surface of Mars.

Battle radical Islamic terrorism, have wiped out ISIS caliphate, and killed ISIS leader.

Wants to bring our troops back home from the Middle East and Afghanistan.

Nice touch by bringing Amy Williams husband home from Afghanistan and surprising her in the gallery.

Making America Greater Than Before!

+++++


Wow!!

2/02/2020

Thoughts On A Sunday

It’s Super Bowl Sunday and I can honestly say I will be watching the game more for the commercials than to support either of the teams playing.

I admit I am leaning towards the 49ers seeing as their quarterback, Jimmy Garoppolo, was the second string quarterback for the Patriots and did very well for the Pats when Tom Brady had been suspended for the first four games of the season due to the bogus Deflategate controversy. (The Patriots won the SuperBowl that season, their fifth, a well deserved slap in the face to NFL Commissioner Goodell.)

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The coronavirus is at the top of the news and Glenn Reynolds has collected a number of coronavirus stories ranging from the predicted spread and fatalities to its effects on tourism to the Chinese government silencing doctors in China.

Since this whole thing started I keep hearing Blue Oyster Cult’s Don’t Fear The Reaper running through my mind. I’m just waiting for someone to start mentioning either The Walking Dude, Mother Abigail or ads for Flu Buddy.

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I don’t know about you, but I’m glad the impeachment farce is just about over. It’s been a sham from day one.

What’s worse is the House only did a little of the work they needed to do to build a solid case. There are only two reasons I can think of to explain that:

1. The Democrats knew that they had nothing but tried to build a case on a foundation of sand because they hated Donald Trump that much, or...

2. To paraphrase something seen on Facebook, “They didn’t do their work and they got mad when someone else wouldn’t do it for them.”

In the case of the second possible explanation, it would explain why the House Managers pushed so hard to get the Senate to call witnesses and allow submission of ‘new’ evidence. The House didn’t do its job during the Impeachment Inquiry and wanted the Senate to do it for them. They got pissed off when the Senate said “No”.

I think both explanations work as Pelosi pushed to get a vote to the House before Christmas which didn’t leave much time for the inquiry to do its job. Because of that, they had a poorly investigated case based upon conjecture, innuendo, and wishful thinking. The Democrats got exactly what they deserved.

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To give you an idea of just how bad TDS has infected Congressional Democrats, they have already vowed to continue their “investigations” of Trump after he’s acquitted.

This is going to come back to bite them this coming November.

As if they haven’t given Team Trump and the GOP enough material for campaign commercials and converted enough voters over from voting Democrat/not voting Trump to voting Trump, they want more.

President Donald Trump’s scrutiny by Congress won’t end with his expected acquittal in the Senate. House Democrats have a list of inquiries they plan to pursue when the impeachment saga is over.

“The investigations and oversight will continue,” said Representative Carolyn Maloney of New York, head of the Oversight and Reform Committee, the lead investigative panel in the House. “We’ve got several cases.”

Democratic-led committees in the House will keep seeking a wide range of evidence and testimony as they look into Trump’s administration, his policies and his businesses and finances. They also plan to keep a focus on his conduct in dealing with Ukraine.

They can focus all they want on Ukraine, but there’s no “there” there. I doubt they can go after him in regard to Ukraine again because double jeopardy applies. But let them waste their time as it means they won’t be paying attention to things the rest of the House will be taking care of.

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Powerline gives us some photos of the Brexit celebrations in the UK. I am happy for our British brethren now that they will be free of the bureaucratic BS from Brussels. I figure a UK-US trade deal will help cement the UK’s freedom from the EU.

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And that’s the news from Lake Winnipesaukee, where we await the Super Bowl, more winter weather, and an early spring.

2/01/2020

More Money Isn't The Answer

The ongoing debate about public education centers around funding, with the usual refrain being “We need more money to make sure our kids get a good education!” But time and again it has been found that funding in and of itself is not an indicator of how well any public school system educates the children. Even the liberal Brookings Institute has found that money is not the biggest indicator of the success of any school system.

We don’t need to take the word of any think tanks or teacher unions or school administrators that the only fix for our failing public education system is increasing amounts of tax money. There’s real world proof they are wrong.

The proof?

Vermont.

Ninety-three Vermont towns (36 percent of its 255 municipalities) have no government-run school at all. What do these towns handle education of their children?

In these towns, the funds local governments expect to spend per pupil are instead given directly to the parents of school-age children.

This method gives lower- and middle-income parents the same superpower wealthy families have always had: school choice. Kids aren’t assigned to public schools by zip code⁠ – instead, parents have the ability to put their kids in school anywhere, to buy the educational experience best suited to each child. If that decision doesn’t work out, they can change it the following year and try a school that might better fit their child’s needs.

Imagine that. School choice in liberal Vermont.

The results of that school choice? Though costs are similar to other schools in the Green Mountain State, the outcomes are better.

This is something I wish the supporters of school choice in my home state would use as a means of slapping down the public school lobbyists that have been fighting hard against, working to prevent taxpayer money from being used to allow parents to choose where their children will be educated.

I suggest you Read The Whole Thing.

1/29/2020

Are You Effin' Kidding Me?

From the “Just When I Thought They Couldn’t Get Any Stupider” Department comes this gem:

New York requires citizens to obtain “stargazing permit” to admire stars in public parks.

I think the only way to save Upstate New York is nuke everything from Albany on south to the end of Long Island from space. It’s the only way to be sure.