Wednesday, November 23, 2016

My Thanksgiving tradition

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving in America.

As stated many times previously, it's my favorite holiday:
More-or-less secular.
Lots of good food.
Time for family and friends.

... and, yes: It is good to give thanks!
I continue to be thankful for my undeserved good fortune in life,
for my wonderful wife, Melissa,
for my now-very-large extended family - including both Sype and Axelrod branches!
for my friends, new and old.
Just last night I had a long telephone conversation with former colleague - 'tis fun to catch up.

So, YES: Let us give thanks tomorrow for blessings, great and small!

Melissa gets an award! Way cool!!!

Kenneth L. Hale Award: Melissa Axelrod (University of New Mexico)
Citation:
The Linguistic Society of America is pleased to present the Kenneth L. Hale Award for 2017 to Professor and Regents' Lecturer Melissa Axelrod of the University of New Mexico in recognition of her contributions to both the field of linguistics and to the speakers of Koyukon, Dene, Tanoan, and Ixil. Her career is an example of how, with deep dedication, abundant goodwill, and keen insight, it is possible to succeed on both sides of the putative divide between academia and community. Working with elders and preschoolers, teachers and farmers, political leaders and genocide survivors, she has engaged in projects that are both practical and innovative - from authoring dictionaries, grammatical descriptions, and research articles, to training several generations of linguists to follow her example in the very best traditions of fieldwork (including several PhD students who are themselves members of Native American communities). In short, Professor Melissa Axelrod embodies the very spirit of the Kenneth L. Hale Award. She is an inspiration to students, colleagues, and collaborators alike.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Trump's wall

Donald Trump, Phoenix, AZ, 30 August 2016:
We will build a great wall along the southern border... On day one, we will begin working on intangible, physical, tall, power, beautiful southern border wall...
Let's take a look at some other walls designed to keep folks out.
Hadrian's Wall was a defensive fortification in the Roman province of Britannia, begun in 122 AD in the reign of the emperor Hadrian. It ran from the banks of the River Tyne near the North Sea to the Solway Firth on the Irish Sea, and was the northern limit of the Roman Empire. ...

The limites of Rome were never expected to stop tribes from migrating or armies from invading, and while a frontier protected by a palisade or stone wall would help curb cattle-raiders and the incursions of other small groups, the economic viability of constructing and keeping guarded a wall 72 miles (116 km) long along a sparsely populated border to stop small-scale raiding is dubious.
Didn't work all that well.
But wait!
Great Wall of China is a series of fortifications made of stone, brick, tamped earth, wood, and other materials, generally built along an east-to-west line across the historical northern borders of China to protect the Chinese states and empires against the raids and invasions of the various nomadic groups of the Eurasian Steppe.
Just a reminder: When Marco Polo visited China, the guy in charge was Kublai Khan - a Mongol... one of the folks the Great Wall was designed to keep out.

... and here's my favorite:
The Maginot Line was a line of concrete fortifications, obstacles and weapon installations that France constructed on the French side of its borders with Switzerland, Germany and Luxembourg during the 1930s.
For what it's worth: the Maginot Line worked like a charm - no one ever got through it... The Wehrmacht just went around!

There is no such thing as an impenetrable border... but it costs a LOT of $$$ to try to build one.
... And what's the point?

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Marketing

I've been making ice cream for close to 45 years.
Back in the day the freezer was a hand-cranked device.
I now use electric motor...
But that's not what this post is about.
It's about marketing.

When I started making ice cream, one used ice and rock salt.
You bought a product called "rock salt" at the local market.

About five years ago this got re-branded. It's now called "ice cream salt".
... and it costs about $0.50 more per box.
I have to congratulate the marketing genius who figured out we'd pay more for "ice cream salt".

Saturday, August 20, 2016

I'm back... sort of

We recently returned from 4-week vacation in Europe: 1 week in Spain (Granada & Barcelona), 3 weeks in UK - London, Harrogate, Edinburgh, with some side trips.

I tried to post from UK on Melissa's Mac, but was denied access.
Now I don't remember what I had to say.

Tom Lehrer once commented:
Political satire became obsolete when Henry Kissinger was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
I feel the same regarding Trump's candidacy.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Okay, now I really do get to gloat!

Posted 16 March:
The GOP 'establishment' are delusional
... I don't know what the rules are, but I assume that if a candidate shows up with the requisite majority of delegates - 1237 is the magic number - then that candidate WILL be the GOP's 2016 Presidential nominee.

I've seen nothing to suggest that Mr. Trump will not arrive at the Convention with at least that total.
... and tonight?
It's official: Trump is Republican nominee

Sunday, July 17, 2016

"Cogito ergo sum"

"I think, therefore I am."
Why not...
I fart, therefore I am.
or
I belch, therefore I am.
or
I piss, therefore I am.
or
I shit, therefore I am.
Just asking.

Friday, July 8, 2016

What to say?

Others have said wiser things than I can.
Senseless violence... leaves me speechless.

Please - can we have a civilized conversation?
Please.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Headlines I hate

Trump Could Trigger The Longest Recession Since The Great Depression, Report Says
This is just poor journalism.

Fictional examples:
Trump could be best ruler in the history of the world

Moon could harbor alien invaders

Kraft American Cheese could cause dementia
All of 'em are true.
None of 'em is informative.

"could" - a lazy, wishy-washy verb... just bad journalism... and bad writing.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Trump's gibberish: he doesn't understand his own positions

Mr. Donald Trump celebrated the Brexit vote by claiming this would mean more tourists for Britain and his luxury golf resort in Scotland.
This may be true... BUT...

One of Trump's signature campaign issues is America's trade deficit.
Does he not realize that the collapse of the British Pound and the Euro will only INCREASE that deficit???

Yep - folks like me will be spending cheap vacations in Europe and the UK - spending American $$$ overseas.
Meanwhile Brits and Europeans will be staying home - NOT spending money in the U.S.

The same logic applies to goods & services: it'll be cheap for the U.S. to buy stuff from UK & Europe.
It'll be expensive for UK & Europe to "Buy American".
Result? Trade deficit soars.
Mr. Trump, do you understand economics?

Do you understand ANYTHING?

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Not that it matters, but let's pretend it does

Donald Trump Questions Whether Hillary Clinton And Obama Are Actually Christians

On the other hand...
The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.
[U.S. Constitution, Article VI.]
Note: The oath of office requires that the President "be bound by Oath or Affirmation to support this Constitution."
Mr. Trump is not the first candidate who does NOT understand this, nor the first to NOT know exactly what is IN the Constitution he may someday swear to uphold.

[p.s. I believe 'twas when he briefly trailed Dr. Carson in the polls that Mr. Trump decided to question Dr. Carson's Seventh-Day Adventist faith. ... seemed to work then, maybe he thinks it'll work again. ... He's a very STUPID man!]

The Trump Horror

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

A modest proposal

Mr. Donald Trump has called for a "temporary" ban on Muslim immigration to this country... and possibly surveillance of mosques.
I do not think he goes far enough.
Given that the Orlando shooter was born on Long Island to Afghan parents, it's clear that simply banning new Muslim immigrants is pointless.
We need to identify ALL Muslim immigrants to this country for the past 100 years... and their children, and their grandchildren... and DEPORT them all.
NOW!

For that matter, the deadliest pre-9/11 terror attack on the U.S. - the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City in 1995 - was carried out by Timothy McVeigh, the son of Irish-American parents.
The Irish have been thorns in our sides for generations.
Time to round 'em up and deport 'em all!

Sacco & Vanzetti: Italian anarchists.
I'm pretty sure the Ellis Island archives will have records of all the Italian immigrants - most of them anarchists or Mafia members - readily available.
We should deport 'em all.
TODAY!

... and we've been in bloody wars with GERMANY twice in the past 100 years!
... AND they sent saboteurs to our country!
Germans? - OUT! NOW!!!

Please, Mr. Trump - LISTEN TO ME!

Just for fun - really!

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

The craven GOP

A few posts ago I used the word "craven" to characterize the GOP's attitude towards their presumptive nominee, Mr. Trump.
It occurs to me that I oughta define the word:
craven
lacking the least bit of courage : contemptibly fainthearted
Yep - that's the GOP!

A blast from the past

A few years ago I declared my candidacy for President of the U.S. Turns out I didn't have the organizational skills to effect this. BUT - I think I did have the appropriate rhetorical skills. Here's an excerpt from my coming-out speech:
We, the People… who are we?

My esteemed Republican opponent will need to be reminded that America has ALWAYS been a land of immigrants!... and there has ALWAYS been a fear of immigrants. Benjamin Franklin deplored the presence of lazy, indolent, non-English-speaking Germans in 18th-century Philadelphia. Germans, Irish, Chinese, Poles, Italians, Japanese – all have been the targets of anti-immigrant hysteria. All were at one time viewed as “The Other” who threatened the American Way of Life.

Today, these “Others” are “Us”! – they are our fellow citizens, competing for – and winning – public office. Running Fortune 500 companies. Teaching our children.

We are today all Americans.

My Republican opponent, whoever he or she might be, will almost certainly be the descendant of immigrants. But when he or she goes to the grocery store, the mall, the ballpark, he is frightened by what he sees: LOTS of folks who look DIFFERENT! Many of them speak English with a FOREIGN accent… some of them don’t speak English at all. This frightens him … or her. He sees his world crumbling before his eyes, and again yearns for a mythical “Golden Age” in the past – a “Golden Age” that has NEVER existed.

I am the descendant of Welsh coal miners, German craftsmen, and Polish farmers. When I go to the grocery store, or the mall, or the ballpark and see folks who don’t look like me, who speak English with a foreign accent, or who perhaps don’t speak English at all – what I see is the source of America’s greatness.
After more than 200 years, WE are still seen as the “Land of the free and the home of the brave”. We – America - … this is still THE country to which people aspire – to build for themselves a better future, to become Americans.

Finally, my Republican opponent will seize on “FEAR” as the basis for his or her campaign. Fear of “illegal immigrants”. Fear of Iran, or of North Korea… Fear of “The Other”.

My Republican opponent will cast “The Other” as Existential Threats to America.

Me?
I believe America is stronger than that!... and by building his campaign on Fear of “The Other” my esteemed Republican opponent will demonstrate just what he REALLY thinks about America: he - or she - believes the United States is a weak, vulnerable, beleaguered country, on the brink of failure, defeat and collapse.
I think I pretty much nailed that.

Thought for the day

The sooner you fall behind, the more time you have to catch up.

Happy 70th Birthday, Mr. Trump!

Thoughts for the day

Things are the way they are because they got that way.

Unless things change they are likely to remain the same.

You are where you are because you're not someplace else.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Just sayin' it again (I do this often)

9 December 2015:
Just for fun: an open letter to the GOP
This was/is a critique of establishment GOP folks lamenting Trump.

Hey, folks: you brought Trump on yourselves!
Don't now pretend he's a buffoon - he is YOUR creation!!!

Not a big surprise: Trump doesn't understand English

Donald Trump: ‘I am the least racist person’
There are two words here that Mr. Trump clearly doesn't understand: "least" and "racist".

I'm betting there are more simple English words he doesn't understand.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

2nd and 3rd careers

One of my loyal readers recently commented on a post:
You could have a second career in the entertainment business.
I responded:
I HAVE a second career in the entertainment business... it just doesn't pay!
Yesterday I got a request from a former colleague - an engineer - to add her to my LinkedIn network. I did, but this is pointless. My LinkedIn job title is "productive bum". Do folks not look at this before they ask to join my network? I've also received several recent LinkedIn "endorsements" for stuff like "structured problem solving" and "experimental design". Wow!... like I can do any of that anymore!

In addition to my career in the entertainment business, I also have a career as an "independent scholar": documenting Gilbert & Sullivan productions in America - mostly in the late 19th century, but also extending into the 20th century.
I'll be delivering a paper on "H.M.S. Pinafore & the California gubernatorial campaign of 1879" at a conference in November.
... and I'm giving a talk at Harvard in October on "The Mikado in America: Conflicts & Controversies".
(Nope - this 3rd career doesn't pay either.)

I continue to invest in retirement one lottery ticket at a time.

Odd phone calls

Recently we've been getting phone calls - about 2/week - telling us about programs to reduce our student loan debt.

Why are we on this call list?

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Identity politics

What are you first?
A Republican?
or
An American?
The answer for many of the GOP elite seems to be, "Republican"!

They have all condemned Mr. Donald Trump at some point during the past several months - stating explicitly that Mr. Trump is unqualified to be our next President.
But now they flock to him - explicitly to support the GOP!

"Craven" is a word that comes to mind.
"American" is not.

Ryan endorses!

Speaker Paul Ryan, After an Awkward Courtship, Endorses Donald Trump
By EMMARIE HUETTEMAN and MAGGIE HABERMANJUNE 2, 2016
WASHINGTON — Ending weeks of reluctance to embrace his party’s presumptive nominee, Speaker Paul D. Ryan endorsed Donald J. Trump for president on Thursday in a modest but unequivocal backing of a candidate whose views Mr. Ryan has frequently condemned.

In a column in his hometown newspaper in Janesville, Wis., Mr. Ryan said speaking with Mr. Trump had persuaded him that the billionaire developer would help him realize the conservative agenda that the speaker is trying to advance.
... and what is that "conservative agenda"?

My wife put it succinctly:
"Make poor people poorer, make rich people richer."

Monday, May 30, 2016

A NYT obit

Frank Modell, Longtime New Yorker Cartoonist, Dies at 98
... Franklyn Bruce Modell was born in Philadelphia on Sept. 6, 1917, the only child of Irving Modell and the former Daisy Simon. His father, an immigrant from Russia, was a traveling furniture salesman.
It's surprising how many NYT Obits feature accomplished folks whose folks were immigrants! ... from Eastern Europe, from Italy,... and, yes, even from Mexico.

Just a reminder: we are a nation of immigrants.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Why I am voting for Trump

[This space intentionally left blank.]

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Checking up on myself and my forecasting ability

Back in March I wrote:
I'm honest
Just FYI: In a few months the GOP nominating process will have ended.
The Republicans will have a Presidential Candidate for 2016.

As many previous posts have suggested, I'm betting that the GOP candidate will be Mr. Donald Trump.

Unlike many other political commentators & pundits - many of whom get paid for their opinions - I WILL revisit my predictions in July.

If I've been right - HOORAY!
If I've been wrong - oh well, sigh.
Either way, I'll 'fess up.
In light of today's news, seems I don't have to wait till July:
Donald Trump has delegates to clinch GOP nomination
By MJ Lee, CNN National Politics Reporter
Updated 2:30 PM ET, Thu May 26, 2016

(CNN) — Donald Trump has the delegates to clinch the GOP presidential nomination, according to a CNN delegate count Thursday.

While Trump has had the nomination locked down for weeks, he has now reached the threshold of 1,237 delegates with the help of previously uncommitted delegates who now support his candidacy. A handful of states, including the large prizes of California and New Jersey, will hold the final primaries on June 7.
Quoting Dizzy Dean:
It ain't bragging if you can do it.

Monday, May 23, 2016

The Big-I

I live about 2 miles away from what is locally known as The Big-I. This is the intersection of I-40 & I-25, and is the only place in New Mexico where two interstate highways intersect.

I mention this because it represents what the Federal Government used to be able to accomplish: building useful stuff that lasts!
The Dwight D. Eisenhower National System of Interstate and Defense Highways (commonly known as the Interstate Highway System, Interstate Freeway System, Interstate System, or simply the Interstate) is a network of controlled-access highways that forms a part of the National Highway System of the United States. The system is named for President Dwight D. Eisenhower who championed its formation. Construction was authorized by the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956, and the original portion was completed 35 years later ... The network has since been extended and, as of 2013, it had a total length of 47,856 miles (77,017 km), making it the world's second longest after China's. As of 2013, about one-quarter of all vehicle miles driven in the country use the Interstate system.
[Wikipedia, Interstate Highway System]
Yes, this program was conceived during the Eisenhower Administration - that commie, pinko, fellow-traveler, Dwight Eisenhower!... back when the top marginal income-tax rate was just over 90%!

When JFK assumed the Presidency, he challenged us to put a man on the moon by the end of the decade.
We did it!

This was back when, under both Republican and Democratic administrations, the Federal Government undertook BIG projects - projects that CREATED JOBS! The tax base was expanded - simply by providing well-paying employment to more people.
AND - we created physical infrastructure that is today used by millions of citizens, every day!

We need to maintain all that very useful infrastructure... but "maintain" isn't very sexy.
So... we could couple it with CREATING MORE useful infrastructure, by, say, deciding that access to high-speed internet for every community in the country would be a good thing, and providing the $$$ to provide it.
... or by deciding that every school in the country ought to be up to some minimal standards with respect to plumbing, electricity, and high-speed internet access... and then FUNDING such a national program - BUILDING stuff that will endure for decades, creating JOBS in the process.

Just a reminder: our financial sector - the Wizards of Wall Street - creates NOTHING! It invents paper and virtual-paper that gets traded, but builds NOTHING.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Religious Freedom

So, if I refuse service to Jews because they are Christ-killers:
Then answered all the people, and said, His blood be on us, and on our children.
Matthew, 27:25
... that's okay - 'cuz it's my religious belief?

... or if I refuse service to Blacks because they are Hamites, cursed by G-d?
And Noah began to be an husbandman, and he planted a vineyard:
And he drank of the wine, and was drunken; and he was uncovered within his tent.
And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brethren without.
And Shem and Japheth took a garment, and laid it upon both their shoulders, and went backward, and covered the nakedness of their father; and their faces were backward, and they saw not their father's nakedness.
And Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son had done unto him.
And he said, Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren.
And he said, Blessed be the Lord God of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant.
God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant.

Genesis, 9:20-27
... that's okay - 'cuz it's my religious belief?

... or if I refuse service to anyone who wears a mixed cotton/polyester blend because G-d proscribes it?
‘You are to keep My statutes. You shall not breed together two kinds of your cattle; and you shall not sow your field with two kinds of seed, nor wear a garment upon you of two kinds of material mixed together'.
Leviticus, 19:19
... that's okay - 'cuz it's my religious belief?

I note that both of the top two examples above have in fact been used as justifications for discrimination & persecution.
Jews, as Christ-killers, do not deserve to exist.
Blacks, as the descendants of Ham & Canaan, are marked by G-d to be our slaves!

If my religious convictions hold that everyone with red hair is a child of Satan and should be killed on the spot, would "religious freedom" laws protect me from prosecution?

If my religious convictions hold that all Native Americans are sub-human and should be exterminated, would "religious freedom" laws protect me from prosecution? (This is NOT a theoretical case!)

Saturday, May 14, 2016

... and I almost forgot...

Albuquerque Little Theatre
The original building, designed by famed southwestern architect, John Gaw Meem, was the first structure in Albuquerque to be built by the Works Progress Administration as part of President Franklin Roosevelt’s “New Deal.”

Yep - that original building still stands - though it's been expanded.

... AND, Albuquerque Little Theatre is still an active member of the local live-theater scene!

Yep - once-upon-a-time our Government built stuff of lasting value. ... once-upon-a-time.

Back in the day...

Confronted with an economic collapse, known today as the Great Depression, the Federal Government DID SOMETHING... and that something has had lasting value.

Here's the Timberline Lodge on Mount Hood, Oregon:

(By edward stojakovic from chicago, United States - Timberline Lodge on Mt Hood)

This was a WPA project - the Federal Government paying people to build stuff!
You can stay there today. It's a ski resort.

It's not unique.

Nearer to my home, Bandelier National Monument was constructed by Civilian Conservation Corps members.

All the trails, the visitor center... pretty much EVERYTHING at Bandelier National Monument was built by the CCC.

... and the WPA sponsored the "Federal Music Project".
Among other things, this organization presented Gilbert & Sullivan across America.
Here's a pic from a production of "H.M.S. Pinafore" on a lake in a park in Cincinnati, Ohio:


Yep - back in the good old days, OUR government actually did stuff!

... and much of what the Government did still stands, and is used!

Just for fun

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Thought for the day

If G-d had meant for us to think, He'd have given us a brain.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Channeling Tom Lehrer

Political satire became obsolete when Henry Kissinger was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
Tom Lehrer
Now Donald Trump is the presumptive GOP nominee.
What fun!

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Ignore the hair...

Me with grandson Hunter & dog Goldie:

Saturday, April 23, 2016

assault weapons

Army Basic Training in 1975 was sorta fun - playing soldier!
The entire goal of the training was to teach one how to maintain and accurately shoot an M16 assault rifle.
The programme was well-designed - by the end of training one could, in fact, maintain and accurately shoot an M16!

Most of the rifle training was in semi-automatic mode: you pull the trigger, it shoots one bullet.
Every once in a while we got to use it on fully automatic mode: you pull the trigger, it just keeps firing.
It could go through a 30-round magazine in about 10 seconds... pretty much a waste of ammunition.

I've never fired an AK47. My understanding is that it's a more reliable but less accurate weapon.
"More reliable" meaning that it jams much less frequently than an M16.
"Less accurate" meaning that it's harder to hit what you aim at. ...
... but in combat you're never really aiming at anything, you're just putting projectiles in the air. ... as many as possible in as short a time as possible.

Semi-automatic assault rifles are designed for war.
They're not designed for hunting.
Or for civilian personal defense.
They're a lot of fun to shoot! - just like playing soldier as a kid... but with lethal ammunition.

I am conflicted regarding the 2nd Amendment.
Most of this conflict derives from the sad fact that the Second is one of the first 10 - "The Bill of Rights".
If we mess with the 2nd, we are then free to mess with the other nine... and I really LIKE the other nine (well, maybe not Amendment 10 - the "State's Rights" bit).
... But I really don't want to challenge freedom of speech/press/assembly, or right to due process, or protection against self-incrimination.

What would the Framers say today?

This pointless... but fun

Dear Mr. Trump:

You claim to be a “deal-maker”, and have written a popular book on the subject, The Art of the Deal. I’ve not read it, nor any other book dealing with negotiating to win-win, which I perhaps erroneously imagine to be the subject of your book. Ignorant of the formal process of negotiating, I would imagine it to involve some give-and-take, and leveraging both what we want and what we imagine the other party might also want. My model is to be found in a little book used in my 8th-grade civics class, Your Rugged Constitution. This text presents each article and clause of the U.S. Constitution verbatim, followed by a brief discussion that ends with two brief paragraphs: “What you give” and “What you get”. Yes, there is always a trade-off!

In my professional career, from which I am now retired, I was a statistician working for a multi-national corporation. In this capacity I was involved in many negotiations with managers and engineers. The subject was always how best to leverage data to achieve bottom-line results. In one of these negotiations I employed a theorem from mathematics called Heron’s formula for the area of a triangle based on the length of the three sides. Heron’s formula had nothing to do with the specific issue at hand, but was useful as an analogy. It was a difficult negotiation. Eventually I succeeded, and convinced a very reluctant engineer that I had solved his problem. My solution was quickly adopted by the multi-national corporation for which I worked as THE best solution to what had been viewed as a nearly intractable problem. I relied on my professional expertise, mathematics, history, and wit to sell this solution. I never bullied anyone. My partner in negotiations, the reluctant engineer, was eventually won over. He saw the advantage of embedding his engineering insights into a solid mathematical model. Both of us benefitted from my solution to the problem. This was a win-win negotiation.

Winning the Republican nomination for President seems to be the ultimate deal-making opportunity for you. You’re not succeeding. Where is “The Art of the Deal” in your appeal to the electorate?

To date I have seen no evidence that you recognize your quest for the Presidency as a deal-making negotiation. Your brash trash-talking provides little evidence that you are seeking to make any kind of deal with the American electorate, or with their elected representatives in Congress. You assure us that you will be able to get Congress to do your bidding, but provide no evidence that you have any idea how to do this other than verbal bullying. You tell us you can get along with other political leaders, but do nothing but call them mocking names. You promise to deal with your perceived enemies, but do nothing but insult them, repeatedly. You call people mocking and insulting names. You present yourself as a victim of conspiracies. Where might we find any hint that you do, in fact, know how to make deals that involve mutually beneficial compromise?

You assert, without providing any details, that you could re-negotiate deals involving trade and national defense to better advantage than those currently holding. While vehemently maintaining that we’ve given away the farm on every international deal, you suggest no incentives to our partners for them to reconsider re-negotiating existing treaties and mutual obligations. What might you offer to our partners for them to contribute what you call their fair share? Yes, you’ve made abundantly clear that you think we’ve been snookered, but you have yet to propose anything that might induce our trading and defense partners to re-negotiate existing treaties and obligations, presumably to our mutual advantage.

While claiming to be your own man, self-funded, accountable only to yourself and to your supporters, you refuse to take responsibility for the actions of your supporters or for your own statements. You hesitate to condemn the ardent racism of your white nationalist supporters. You promise to provide legal assistance for your supporters who blatantly, on camera, assault protesters at your campaign events. You deny, repeatedly and consistently, your own statements in support of various controversial positions. “I never said that” is one of your refrains, even when confronted with video evidence. When backed into a corner you resort to bromides, “Yes, it’s a disaster!” – regardless of the specific topic. Whatever it is, it’s a “disaster”. Our prison system? “It’s a disaster!” The economy? “It’s a disaster!” Employment? “It’s a disaster!” Our response to ISIS? “It’s a disaster!” Trade with China? “It’s a disaster!” Do you provide any evidence that you understand any of these issues? No. Do you propose any specific remedies? No. You simply assert, “It’s a disaster!”, and move on to the next topic – which for you is invariably, “I’m a deal-maker”.

Mr. Trump, I would LOVE to have a great deal-maker in the Oval Office. I would LOVE to have someone who truly understands the art of negotiation, to deal both with a recalcitrant Congress and with our international friends and enemies. I would love to have a President who clearly sees both our strengths and our weaknesses, who can leverage the former and mitigate the latter in honest hard-fought negotiation. You have yet to convince me that you are that deal-maker.

Your presidential campaign has been built on petty peeves, paranoia, and petulance. I don’t want a candidate who ACTS presidential. I want a candidate who IS presidential. You are not that candidate.

Friday, April 22, 2016

... one more

... like the Energizer Bunny

... more of the same

Friday night music

Lots of folks do this - why not me?

TGIF? Why hasn't the GOP latched onto this cause?

TGIF: Thank G-d It's Friday!
Friday:
The name Friday comes from the Old English Frīġedæġ, meaning the "day of Frige", a result of an old convention associating the Old English goddess Frigg with the Roman goddess Venus, with whom the day is associated in many different cultures.
[Wikipedia article on Friday]
Yep - Friday is named for a PAGAN GODDESS!

Saturday:
The Romans named Saturday Sāturni diēs ("Saturn's Day") no later than the 2nd century for the planet Saturn, which controlled the first hour of that day...
[Wikipedia article, Saturday]
Oops - another PAGAN reference in our calendar!

Sunday. Well, this one is pretty straight-forward - no need for Wikipedia: SUNday - derived from Hellenistic astrology... not just a PAGAN reference, but a PAGAN reference implicating the evil, occult science of ASTROLOGY... and this on OUR LORD'S DAY! - talk about sacrilegious!

Monday. Oh, no! Another one! - The MOON'S Day.

Tuesday:
The name Tuesday derives from the Old English "Tiwesdæg" and literally means "Tiw's Day". Tiw is the Old English form of the Proto-Germanic god *Tîwaz, or Týr in Norse, a god of war and law.
[Wikipedia, Tuesday]
... another one??? More PAGAN sources!

Wednesday... hey, maybe we'll get lucky and find a good Biblical source!
The name is derived from Old English Wōdnesdæg and Middle English Wednesdei, "day of Woden", ultimately a calque of dies Mercurii "day of Mercury".
[Wikipedia, Wednesday]
Not just one, but TWO PAGAN sources - Woden & Mercury!

One more chance.
Thursday:
The name is derived from Old English Þūnresdæg and Middle English Thuresday meaning "Thor's Day". Thunor, Donar (German, Donnerstag) and Thor are derived from the name of the Germanic god of thunder.
[Wikipedia, Thursday]
Sigh.

So why has the GOP not latched onto this issue?
Our calendar - the days of the week we teach our CHILDREN - these are PAGAN!
Even THE LORD'S DAY is named for a PAGAN god!

The days of the week are lies straight from the pit of hell.
We are unwittingly unleashing the POWERS OF EVIL on our civilization by retaining these PAGAN constructs!

News flash!

Whitney Houston is STILL dead!

Monday, April 18, 2016

Oooh! - look at the kitty!!!

I have tremendous respect for professional columnists & bloggers who are obligated to write something regularly.
It's hard work, coming up with something entertaining or significant to say on a routine basis.
... well, at least I know I can't do it!

My mind wanders.
(... and I have no reliable lasso to help rein it in.)

Once-upon-a-time I really enjoyed presidential election years. - Watching the campaign was FUN!
Sadly, that time has passed.
Now I just get depressed.

I'm at a standstill on my hobby - documenting "H.M.S. Pinafore" in America.
I've completed two YouTube vids, but have a third - final - one that is not yet even "in the works".
Sigh.
... On the bright side, I gave a talk on "Pinafore" at Harvard a couple of weeks ago.
... well, it was given for the Harvard-Radcliffe Gilbert & Sullivan Players, as part of their 60th anniversary celebration (at which Pinafore was presented).
I'd like to write an article about Pinafore and the California gubernatorial election of 1879.
... the material is assembled, it's the WRITING thing that gets in the way.

Current debate on immigration recalls America's long history of anti-immigrant paranoia: The Alien Acts of the late 18th century, "No Irish need apply", anti-Chinese hysteria, anti-Italian sentiment in the 1910s & '20s, the Espionage Act of 1917.
For a country that promises this:
"Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
... we don't do so great.
(... and even Benjamin Franklin railed against the indolent Germans in Philadelphia!)

As mentioned above, I just get depressed.

... and I get distracted.
Oooh! - Look at the kitty!!!

Thursday, April 14, 2016

An anniversary

81 years ago today:

Black Sunday refers to a particularly severe dust storm that occurred on April 14, 1935, as part of the Dust Bowl. It was one of the worst dust storms in American history and it caused immense economic and agricultural damage. It is estimated to have displaced 300 million tons of topsoil from the prairie area in the US.
[Black Sunday]

(With thanks to TedTheCat!)

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Trump should give $$$ to Kasich

Yeah, Trump lost in Wisconsin, with 37% of the vote.
This is about the same percentage he's WON with previously.
Makes me think 37% is what he's got.

His campaign has been working to get Kasich out.
I think this is a mistake.
When GOP folks drop out, their supporters go to Cruz.

Trump oughta fund Kashich.

I'm back! ... but with nothing to say

We journeyed to the scenic northeast - Boston & Maine.
Boston - well, Cambridge - to see Harvard-Radcliffe Gilbert & Sullivan Players' production of H.M.S. Pinafore.
(I got to deliver my talk on "Pinafore in America".)
Maine to meet the woman who makes my suspenders.
She fixed us a delicious seafood chowder, and we now have two new friends!

This is SO much better than following politics!

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Janesville, Wisconsin

Donald Trump Is Bringing Message of Jobs and Trade to Paul Ryan’s Hometown

JANESVILLE, Wis. — Donald J. Trump, who has risen to front-runner status in part by channeling anti-establishment rage against Republicans, is kicking off his quest for the support of Wisconsin voters at a rally on Tuesday afternoon in Janesville, House Speaker Paul D. Ryan’s hometown.
Here's what I know about Janesville, Wisconsin:

Not that anyone will notice, but...

... posting for the next week or so will be pretty close to non-existent.
I will be pursuing other priorities.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

A disturbing article: "Trump Will Become President"

Trump Will Become President, Says Extremely Accurate Statistician
His statistical model has only ever been wrong once in 104 years.

Helmut Norpoth, a professor of political science at Stony Brook University, has developed a statistical model that predicts a 97 percent to 99 percent chance that Trump will win the 2016 presidential election if he wins the Republican nomination...

Norpoth's model has correctly predicted the outcome of every single presidential election since 1912 – save one, the election of 1960, which some believe was rigged. It uses a candidate’s performance in their party’s primary coupled with electoral cycle patterns to determine the likely outcome of the general election.
I doubt that the model takes into account just how loathsome Trump is, and hope that this loathsomeness will upset purely statistical considerations.

Friday, March 25, 2016

"Religious freedom"

Once-upon-a-time, the Bible was cited to justify racial discrimination & segregation.
Christian anti-Semitism is based on the Gospel of Matthew.

Now good GOP "Christians" pretend that "Christian" values demand that the LGBT community be excluded from public life... well, 'cuz G-d said so!

"Existential threat"?

Okay - to be honest, I don't recall ANY candidate saying that IS/ISIL/ISIS poses an "existential threat" to the U.S. ... but I wouldn't be surprised to learn that some GOP candidate has.
[If you've got the citation, please forward it to me!]

But - I'm betting that if any one of the GOP contenders were asked point-blank, "Is ISIS an existential threat to the U.S.?", that candidate would reply affirmatively.

How ought we respond to an "existential threat"?
Seems to me total mobilization is in order!
Deploying at least 1,000,000 troops.
Imposing severe restrictions on consumer consumption so's resources can be allocated to the WAR EFFORT.
Re-instituting the draft.
Committing the U.S. to a full-fledged military response... not just bombing or a few thousand extra troops, but a REAL war effort!

If IS/ISIL/ISIS is truly an existential threat, maybe we oughta treat it as such.

Killing more bad guys...

Pentagon: Senior ISIS Leaders Likely Killed In U.S. Operation
Ash Carter said on Friday that the group’s top finance officer and several other top figures were likely killed.

WASHINGTON, March 25 (Reuters) - Islamic State’s second in command and other senior leaders were likely killed this week in a major offensive targeting financial operations, U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter said on Friday, the latest in a series of setbacks for the militant group.
We keep killing senior bad guys.
More senior bad guys replace 'em.
This "strategy" is NOT WORKING!

115 years ago today

Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire
The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in Manhattan, New York City on March 25, 1911 was the deadliest industrial disaster in the history of the city, and one of the deadliest in US history. The fire caused the deaths of 146 garment workers – 123 women and 23 men – who died from the fire, smoke inhalation, or falling or jumping to their deaths. Most of the victims were recent Jewish and Italian immigrant women aged 16 to 23; of the victims whose ages are known, the oldest victim was Providenza Panno at 43, and the youngest were 14-year-olds Kate Leone and "Sara" Rosaria Maltese.
...
Because the owners had locked the doors to the stairwells and exits – a then-common practice to prevent workers from taking unauthorized breaks and to reduce theft – many of the workers could not escape and jumped from the high windows. The fire led to legislation requiring improved factory safety standards and helped spur the growth of the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union (ILGWU), which fought for better working conditions for sweatshop workers.
Whenever the current GOP rails against intrusive government regulation of the "free market", this is the example I cite.

I WANT my government to protect me from rapacious, predatory capitalism!

Thursday, March 24, 2016

On the bright side...

... I'm not being paid to post...
So if I miss a few days - 'cuz the news is just horribly depressing - it doesn't really matter to me.

... and the news HAS been horribly depressing - both globally and more provincial (American politics).

So, for my loyal readers: if you note my absence, well...

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

... know yourself...

“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”
[The Art of War]
We ought know ourselves!

Who WE are is well-documented:
We the people of the United States, in order to
form a more perfect union,
establish justice,
insure domestic tranquility,
provide for the common defense,
promote the general welfare,
and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity,
do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

[Preamble to the United States Constitution]
Seems to me many of the GOP candidates are ignorant of this simple creed.

If you know your enemy and know yourself...

“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”
[The Art of War]
We do NOT know our enemy!

I assume that ISIS has a strategic purpose for seemingly random bombings in European capitals.
What is it?

Simply asserting that ISIS is nihilistic, anarchical, jihadist... well, pick your favorite adjective - this isn't meaningful.
What is it that ISIS is looking to accomplish?

I don't know the answer to this question, but unless someone figures it out we are unlikely to succeed in this war.

This, that, and t'other

A Pyrrhic victory is a victory that inflicts such a devastating toll on the victor that it is tantamount to defeat.
... then there's
The Rumsfeld Doctrine
Thomas L. Friedman of the New York Times has referred to the Rumsfeld Doctrine as one of "just enough troops to lose".
[The Rumsfeld Doctrine]
... and I'm a fan of
“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”
[The Art of War]
We "won" in Afghanistan.
We "won" in Iraq.

Both these "victories" now look hollow.

In both cases we adhered to the "Rumsfeld Doctrine", which comes down to using high-tech weapons systems to avoid the use of "boots on the ground".
It doesn't really work to win the peace.

Are we, as a nation, willing to commit hundreds of thousands of troops to the Mideast to win the peace?

Does anyone have any better suggestions?

What is the correct response?

Brussels attack: ISIS says it's behind terror that killed 30
... to which Ted Cruz responds:
Ted Cruz Wants Police To ‘Patrol And Secure’ U.S. Muslim Communities After Brussels
... also stating that,
“We should use overwhelming force, kill the enemy and then we should get the heck out,” he said.
... and The Donald:
Trump on Brussels: Told you so
... and advocating for torture.

Disclaimer: I don't have a clue how to attack/defeat ISIS.
("Defeat" is the better verb.)
BUT: using overwhelming force (what Cruz has previously called "carpet bombing") to "destroy the enemy" and then get out is almost certainly NOT the way to go.

A reminder of what it takes:
On V-E Day, Eisenhower had sixty-one U.S. divisions, 1,622,000 men, in Germany, and a total force in Europe numbering 3,077,000.1 When the shooting ended, the divisions in the field became the occupation troops, charged with maintaining law and order and establishing the Allied military presence in the defeated nation. This was the army-type occupation. A counterpart of the military government carpet, its object was to control the population and stifle resistance by putting troops into every nook and cranny.

[THE U.S. ARMY IN THE OCCUPATION OF GERMANY 1944-1946, by Earl F. Ziemke, CENTER OF MILITARY HISTORY UNITED STATES ARMY, WASHINGTON, D. C., 1990]
1.6 MILLION troops in the country, to maintain law and order.

As I've said repeatedly, the object of war is to win the peace.
Winning the peace means holding territory and controlling populations.
Simply getting the heck out after demolishing every building, road, rail-line, power-plant, and oil well in sight will NOT win the peace!

Again: I don't know what we ought do, but the GOP candidates's proposals don't sound all that great to me.

An aside: I'm also not too fond of the idea to "Patrol and Secure" U.S. Muslim communities.
... sounds like a first step to rounding up all the Muslims and shipping them to camps.
We've seen where that leads.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

... and one more


... just a stranger on a bus, trying to make his way home.

... more of the same

... as promised

... this post and the next few - just how i'm feelin'

Just for fun: me being a "job creator"!

The preceding two (2) posts - featuring a local barbershop quartet employed by me for our 3rd wedding anniversary - are yet more examples of me being a local "job creator".
Yep - I spend $$$ in the local economy!

... and I don't get any tax breaks for my good service.

3rd wedding annivesary - "If I Only Had a Brain"

3rd wedding anniversary - just another barbershop quartet

"Winnow"

winnow
Simple Definition of winnow
: to remove (people or things that are less important, desirable, etc.) from a larger group or list : to make (a list of possible choices) smaller by removing the less desirable choices
Here's a brief reminder:

THESE were the great GOP candidates a few months ago.

The primaries have "winnowed" these down to the best-of-the-best: Trump, Cruz, and Kasich!

Sigh.

Living in NM - politically we barely count

NM has 5 electoral votes.
Our Presidential primary elections are 7 June.

We won't see many of the candidates... ever.
Sigh.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

I'm honest

Just FYI: In a few months the GOP nominating process will have ended.
The Republicans will have a Presidential Candidate for 2016.

As many previous posts have suggested, I'm betting that the GOP candidate will be Mr. Donald Trump.

Unlike many other political commentators & pundits - many of whom get paid for their opinions - I WILL revisit my predictions in July.
If I've been right - HOORAY!
If I've been wrong - oh well, sigh.

Either way, I'll 'fess up.

You're kidding, right?

Maybe The GOP Establishment Should Have Embraced John Kasich Sooner
First Rubio.
Now Kasich?

One of these days the GOP 'establishment' will sober up & come to the realization that Mr. Donald Trump is their nominee.

Good luck with that.

The GOP 'establishment' are delusional

I keep reading about a brokered convention.
... about 'convention chaos'.
... about the "Stop Trump" movement gaining momentum.

All this punditry references the Republican Convention in Cleveland this summer.
The GOP wizards - those clearly in control, the Republican 'establishment' and the wise men - seem to take it for granted that Trump WON'T be the nominee.

I don't know what the rules are, but I assume that if a candidate shows up with the requisite majority of delegates - 1237 is the magic number - then that candidate WILL be the GOP's 2016 Presidential nominee.

I've seen nothing to suggest that Mr. Trump will not arrive at the Convention with at least that total.

Am I delusional, or are the GOP 'establishment' wizards those with the really good drugs?
(... and could they maybe give me the names of their dealers?)

Note: it's NEWS when someone other than Trump wins! - most recently Kasich in Ohio.
"Dog bites man" is not news; "Man bites dog" IS news.
When it's newsworthy that ANYONE other than Trump wins a primary, my inference is that Mr. Trump is the odds-on favorite to win the nomination.

What a nice pink rug!

No, Donald Trump Won’t Win
David Brooks, NYT Op-Ed, 4 Dec 2015

A little while ago I went rug shopping. Four rugs were laid out on the floor and among them was one with a pink motif that was dazzlingly beautiful. It was complex and sophisticated. If you had asked me at that moment which rug I wanted, I would have said the pink one. This conviction lasted about five minutes. But then my mentality flipped and I started asking some questions. Would the furniture go with this rug? Would this rug clash with the wall hangings? Would I get tired of its electric vibrancy?

Suddenly a subtler and more prosaic blue rug grabbed center stage. The rugs had not changed, but suddenly I wanted the blue rug. The pink rug had done an excellent job of being eye-popping on its own. The blue rug was doing an excellent job of being a rug I could enjoy living with.
Yeah, so now I'm thinkin' - Hey, that pink rug don't look so bad!

Ya know, well, maybe in a coupla months I'll be tired of it, but right now it looks pretty darn good!

Okay - nah, it don't look too good with the rest of the décor, but it's only for a coupla months - I can live with it... and it looks REALLY COOL!
I can't wait to show it off!!!

The blue rug? - toss it!
I might like it now, but it's BORING!

It's only for a coupla months, right?
I mean, I can go back to the rug store later... that is, IF the pink rug was really a mistake.
... But maybe it's not a mistake - maybe I really WANT the pink rug!

... if I rearranged the furniture just a bit, maybe brought the armoire into the study, moved the desk to the living room,... and replaced those hideous wall-hangings my wife is so darn attached to... YEAH - that'd work!

Go away!
I LIKE the pink rug!!!
I'm gonna keep it!

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

I DO hope SOMEONE is paying attention!

"All I know is what’s on the Internet," Trump said.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Only 12?

Top 12 Reasons This Is The Most Depressing Election Ever
Somehow this quotation seems appropriate:
Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day
To the last syllable of recorded time,
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death.

Out, out, brief candle!

Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more.

It is a tale Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.


[Macbeth, Act V, scene 5]

Symmetry

Our 3rd anniversary was Saturday, 12 March.
According to Wikipedia, we're still newlyweds.
This pic was taken a coupla days before, at the ABQ zoo:

Let's hope not

This Election Is 1968 All Over Again, And That's Not A Good Thing
Me?

I REALLY don't want to re-live 1968.
MLK assassinated. (4 April)
Robert Kennedy assassinated. (4/5 June)
Soviet Union invaded Czechoslovakia, ending the Prague Spring. (20 August)
Nixon elected. (5 November)

It was the year I became politically aware, but I don't miss it.
I'd prefer to witness no assassinations this year.
The mess in the Middle East is bad enough already - please: no surprise escalations!
... and PLEASE: could we possibly NOT elect The Donald!

Friday, March 11, 2016

He used to be our Governor!

Meet The Third Party
If you're a Republican who can't stand to vote for Donald Trump, Gary Johnson might be your guy.

Does Donald Trump even lift, bro?

That was the implied question behind Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson's address to the Conservative Political Action Conference last week, as the former two-term New Mexico governor rattled off his various athletic accomplishments -- a lousy strategy if you're crafting a Tinder profile, but it certainly made for an attention-grabbing stump speech.

Yeah - two-term Governor of NM, now an "extreme" athlete.
If you're looking for a Libertarian alternative... why not?

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

A quick quiz

Which of the following is found in the United States Constitution?:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

... government of the people, by the people, for the people...

In God we trust.

Do to others as you would have them do to you.

One nation, under God.

America, God shed his grace on thee.

... the land of the free and the home of the brave.

A brief reminder

The following is the poem, "The New Colossus", on our Statue of Liberty:
The New Colossus

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
"Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,

I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
... and then there's the Declaration of Independence, which is a weird document.

It has no legal standing.
It is a list of complaints against George III, trying to justify the Colonies's assertion of independence.
Among the many complaints:
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither
Yep - George III endeavored to prevent immigration!...
... sounds sorta familiar... a LOT like the current crop of GOP contenders!

Recall - the GOP contenders just LOVE the Declaration of Independence...
... mainly 'cuz it cites
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness
It's that Creator bit that gets folks all excited.

The Founders were up against a wall.
Historically... like FOREVER... "rights" had been things granted to vassals by lieges.
Magna Carta is based on this political framework - the King grants certain RIGHTS owed the barons.

If you demand "rights", those "rights" must be granted by SOMEONE.

The Founders pretty much gave up.
Who gives us rights, if we are not bound to our King, George III?
Must be our "Creator"!

'Twas a novel solution to a sticky problem...
... but now it's allowed the GOP to assert that the United States was founded on Christianity.

Perhaps if Jefferson had had more foresight, he'd have come up with some other formulation that allowed us to assert our rights!

"Our" roadrunner

... He visits us about once every 2 weeks - apparently attracted by our snails.
This is the first time he's posed for us! - on our front walkway:

RIP George Martin

George Martin, Legendary Music Producer Who Worked With The Beatles, Dead At 90
George Martin, the music industry legend who worked on nearly every Beatles recording, died on Tuesday night. He was 90.

Poor Marco...

Alternative title: Kickin' Him When He's Down.

I doubt Rubio will adopt this as his campaign song, but at this point... well, why not?

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

The Hydra

Lernaean Hydra
... for every head chopped off, the Hydra would regrow one or multiple heads
I mention this in response to...
'Omar The Chechen,' ISIS' Minister Of War, Likely Killed In U.S. Airstrike
An Islamic State commander described by the Pentagon as the group's "minister of war" was likely killed in a U.S. air strike in Syria, U.S. officials said on Tuesday, in what would be a major victory in the United States' efforts to strike the militant group's leadership.
We keep killing "leaders" of IS and al-Qaeda.

Somehow the organizations survive.
For every "head" we kill, MANY grow back.

At some point we need to recognize that waging war means winning the peace.
It's not enough to kill bad guys.
There really is a "hold territory & control populations" aspect to this.

Air power? Great for blowing stuff - and people - up.
Not so good at holding territory & controlling populations.

ISIS & al-Qaeda are pretty good at the "controlling populations" bit.
They terrorize the locals, making resistance difficult.

... T.E. Lawrence was right:
This is from a fellow blogger:
T.E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia) figured it out and wrote it down in his book The Seven Pillars of Wisdom. Wonderfully available on the web free of charge. (Public domain is soooo nice.)
Then I figured out how many men they (Turks) would need to sit on all this ground, to save it from our attack-in-depth, sedition putting up her head in every unoccupied one off those hundred thousand square miles. I knew the Turkish Army exactly, and even allowing for their recent extension of faculty by aeroplanes and guns and armoured trains (which made the earth a smaller battlefield) still it seemed they would have need of a fortified post every four square miles, and post could not be less than twenty men. If so they would need six hundred thousand men to meet the ill-wills of all the Arab peoples, combined with all the active hostility of a few zealots.
My friend Pat then quotes me:
FYI: using the "20 men every 4 square miles" rule equates to a force in Afghanistan of about 1.25Mn! Given modern communication systems, improved war-making technology, etc., suppose Lawrence's estimate could be halved: that's still more than 600K troops. ... and this seems close to the troop/area ratio Shinseki had in mind for Iraq when he proposed a force of "several hundred thousand" needed to pacify the country following the invasion (taking "several" to mean 3-5... middle = 400K).
Bottom line:
Simply killing the bad guys is NOT going to win this war!

How do we win the peace?

Monday, March 7, 2016

If only...

GOP folks invoke Reagan at every turn.
Best President EVER!!!

Based on evidence, Clinton was a much BETTER President...
... BUT:
Dear Old Bill couldn't keep his fly closed!

If Bill Clinton had somehow managed to keep his fly closed, maybe the Dem candidates could cite HIM as the BEST PRESIDENT EVER!

After all, when Clinton left office we had a budget SURPLUS!
The middle-class had in fact experienced economic GROWTH!
We weren't at war with ANYONE!

The Clinton Presidency was in fact a HUGE success...
... BUT - he couldn't keep his fly zipped.

When JFK was my age...

... he'd been dead for 17 years.

... more Golden Age for Linguistics

Embedded Narratives and Cognitive Linguistics Explain Trump's Followers

A Golden Age for Linguistics

... well, at least a Golden Couple of Months!
What Language Experts Find So Strange About Donald Trump
Politicians use big words. Trump does not.
When ThinkProgress asked University of Pennsylvania linguistics professor Mark Yoffe Liberman about Trump’s speech, he decided to do a rough comparison to another presidential candidate: Jeb Bush. We sent him the transcripts of both Trump and Bush’s announcement speeches, plus some press conferences and one-on-one interviews.

What he found was that Bush talks, predictably, like most politicians. His most-used words are rather big and policy-like — “strategy,” “government,” “president,” and “American” all placed in his list of top 13 words. Six out of those 13 are one syllable, like “growth” and “state.” His favorite word is “the.”

Trump, on the other hand, leaned away from multiple-syllable words and stuck with low-brow, simple vocabulary. His first most-used word was “I,” and his fourth favorite was “Trump.” The report found that eight of his top 13 words were monosyllabic, and the words that had two syllables were the words “very” and “China.”

You may have seen this already...

George Takei, as Trump answering the question, "What is 2+2".

Donald Trump answers the question: What is 2+2? (Credit: Steven Edwards)"I have to say a lot of people have been...

Posted by George Takei on Sunday, March 6, 2016

Just in case you don't feel like linking to FaceBook to read the full post:
George Takei's New Post About Donald Trump Is Going Viral
"I have to say a lot of people have been asking this question. No, really. A lot of people come up to me, and they ask me. They say, 'What's 2+2'? And I tell them, look, we know what 2+2 is. We've had almost eight years of the worst kind of math you can imagine. Oh, my God, I can't believe it. Addition and subtraction of the 1s the 2s and the 3s. It's terrible. It's just terrible. Look, if you want to know what 2+2 is, do you want to know what 2+2 is? I'll tell you. First of all the number 2, by the way, I love the number 2. It's probably my favorite number, no it is my favorite number. You know what, it's probably more like the number two but with a lot of zeros behind it. A lot. If I'm being honest, I mean, if I'm being honest. I like a lot of zeros. Except for Marco Rubio, now he's a zero that I don't like. Though, I probably shouldn't say that. He's a nice guy, but he's like, '10101000101,' on and on, like that. He's like a computer! You know what I mean? He's like a computer. I don't know. I mean, you know. So, we have all these numbers, and we can add them and subtract them and add them. TIMES them even. Did you know that? We can times them OR divide them, they don't tell you that, and I'll tell you, no one is better at the order of operations than me. You wouldn't believe it. So, we're gonna be the best on 2+2, believe me."

Saturday, March 5, 2016

I'm REALLY TIRED...

... of Hitler/Nazi comparisons.
Donald Trump Asks Supporters To Raise Right Hand In A Scene Straight Out Of Nazi Germany
As odious as Trump may be - and he IS loathsome! - He is NOT Hitler.

For that matter, neither is Cruz, or Rubio, or any of the other GOP contenders.

Their proposed policies truly suck, they appeal to the baser instincts of our nature, ... BUT - not a one of 'em is Hitler!...
... and WE are NOT Weimar Germany.

When we "right-thinking" folks on the left ridicule the hate-mongering on the right, let US try to keep the discourse civil.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Brawl? ... or KO ... or TKO???

From HuffPost:
GOP Activists Increasingly Concerned The Republican Convention Will Be A Brawl
With Donald Trump as the front-runner, a fractured party is barreling toward a clash later this summer.
The article then goes on to say that, nope, this'll be straight-forward - the "nomination will be neatly wrapped up before the party's convention later this summer".

That's the way I'm leaning right now.

No brawl - a simple KO.
Trump - small hands and all - will KO the competition.

Bye-bye Ben...

... or perhaps "night-night" would be more appropriate:
Ben Carson Formally Suspends Presidential Campaign
NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. -- Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson is officially suspending his presidential campaign, he announced during a speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Friday.
Somnambulant is NOT a good way to conduct a presidential campaign.

The Interstate Highway System

Wow! - What an EXCITING topic!

When I was a kid we - well, my folks - drove us from Casper, Wyoming to Chicago every summer.
The trip was "scenic" - on state and U.S. highways, passing through every little town (e.g., Chugwater, Wyoming).
As the young passenger, I loved it!
Among other joys were the Burma Shave jingles on fence-posts at the side of the road:
Drowsy?
Just remember, pard
That marble slab
Is doggone
Hard
Burma Shave
"Scenic"? Yes!
Quick? No.
The Dwight D. Eisenhower National System of Interstate and Defense Highways (commonly known as the Interstate Highway System, Interstate Freeway System, Interstate System, or simply the Interstate) is a network of controlled-access highways that forms a part of the National Highway System of the United States. The system is named for President Dwight D. Eisenhower who championed its formation. Construction was authorized by the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956, and the original portion was completed 35 years later...
[Interstate Highway System]
This was back in the glorious days when the Federal Government BUILT stuff, and the top marginal tax rate exceeded 90%! - under that Commie-pinko fellow-traveler Eisenhower!

Seldom a day goes by that I don't take advantage of the Interstate Highway System - just here in Albuquerque: I-40 and I-25!
(FYI: New Mexico is the ONLY state in which there's just ONE intersection of Interstate Highways.
It's called the Big-I locally. ... about two miles from my house.)

Anyway ... TODAY?
Bridges collapse.
Roads are in disrepair.
We seem to have the lost the national will to BUILD stuff!

How'd that happen?

A repost

NOW the GOP is anti-Trump?
PUH-LEEZE: don't go flipping out about Mr. Trump.
He is YOUR creature!
Just for fun: an open letter to the GOP
The Donald embodies everything the GOP has been for the past 35+ years!
Racist? - Yep.
Xenophobic? - Yep.
Untruthful (lying)? - Yep.
Rich? - YEP!
Authoritarian? - Yep.

How 'bout compassionate, concerned about the middle-class, Constitutional?
Well... not so much.

Mr. Trump is the epitome of the Grand Old Party.
Be honest with yourselves: EMBRACE him!

11th GOP debate...

... Darn! I missed it.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Billionaires attack!!!

At a time when the median household income hasn't strayed from $50K/year in... forever, we have THESE guys attacking each other:
Mitt Romney Lambasts Donald Trump As A 'Phony' And 'Fraud' In Blistering Speech

Donald Trump responds to Mitt Romney's speech
Trump calls Romney "a lightweight."
Why does this seem ... strange to me?

Today I'm optimistic

Previously:
When I'm optimistic, I hope Trump is the GOP nominee.

When I'm pessimistic, I fear Trump is the GOP nominee.
Today I'm optimistic.

In addition to the previous post's suggestions for a pre-fab ad campaign, there's also:
This man thinks $1M is a SMALL loan!

... and his always quick denials - "I never said that," when confronted with things he really DID say.
What happened to Truman's "The buck stops here"?
... well, okay, invoking Truman may not be the best tactic, but the basic ideas are fine:
This man has NO CLUE what it means to be a middle class American.

and

This man will say ANYTHING to get elected, and DENY anything he's said before! - can you trust him?
... so, at the moment, I'm hoping the "Never Trump" movement in the GOP fails!

Pre-fab ad campaign

... alternative title: "I hope someone is paying attention."

Supposing - not unrealistically - that Mr. Trump is the GOP nominee, the Dem nominee - whether Sanders or Clinton - has a ready-made anti-Trump ad campaign at hand.
All that's needed is to compile quotations around three related themes:
1. The GOP hates Trump.
Today REPUBLICAN foreign-policy gurus published a condemnation of Trump... AND Mr. Romney begged voters to reject Mr. Trump as a phony and a fraud.
This is what his fellow Republicans think of him!

2. Trump has frequently expressed what some might call hateful - others perhaps simply "disrespectful" - language regarding immigrants, Hispanics, Muslims, his fellow candidates, and just about everyone else who has at one time or another snubbed him.
Collect these clips: "The candidate speaks!"

3. As suggested previously, collect clips of Trump joyfully proclaiming his willful ignorance:
"I just don't know..."
"I don't know about... "
There oughta be a LOT to choose from.
Do we really want a President who knows so little about so much?
I'll assume that both Sanders & Clinton have already directed their staffs to start working on these... and that the various PACs supporting each candidate are doing the same.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Why?

GOP strategist Castellanos: Time to rally around Trump, ‘too late to ask mommy to step in and rewrite rules’
By Tom Hamburger and Matea Gold
March 2
"If Trump is going to be our nominee, as I believe he is, it is our mission to support Trump and make him the best nominee and president possible."

Lindsey Graham: "We're gonna lose to Hillary Clinton" with Donald Trump
By Rebecca Kaplan
CBS News
March 2, 2016
"Ted Cruz is not my favorite by any means and I don't wish him ill,...but we may be in a position where we have to rally around Ted Cruz as the only way to stop Donald Trump and I'm not so sure that would work," he [Graham] said.
It's not clear from "establishment" GOP critics whether they fear Trump because...
They think he'll lose to Hillary...
... or he'll shred the GOP...
... or he'll make a horrible President.
... or perhaps some combination of these three.

With the exception of the now-clearly-delusional Rubio supporters, the "establishment" folks seem to have come to the realization that their Hobson's choice is between Trump and the equally loathsome Cruz.

Why can't they be honest (AND patriotic) and simply say, "We messed up. A loyal Republican American ought to stay home come November."

Heck - it may even be strategically wise:
1. Avoids the possibility of a DISASTROUS GOP Presidency.
(... from which Dems would benefit in 2020.)

2. Offers the possibility of a DISASTROUS Democratic Presidency from which GOP can benefit come 2020!
No one likes Trump (well, no one except his extremely energized supporters - currently less than 50% of the GOP!).
No one likes Cruz.
Why is it necessary to support either of 'em?

Just askin'.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

The Ass and his Purchaser

A fable of Aesop:
A man who wanted to buy an Ass went to market, and, coming across a likely-looking beast, arranged with the owner that he should be allowed to take him home on trial to see what he was like.

When he reached home, he put him into his stable along with the other asses.
The newcomer took a look round, and immediately went and chose a place next to the laziest and greediest beast in the stable.

When the master saw this he put a halter on him at once, and led him off and handed him over to his owner again.
The latter was a good deal surprised to see him back so soon, and said,
"Why, do you mean to say you have tested him already?"
"I don't want to put him through any more tests," replied the other.
"I could see what sort of beast he is from the companion he chose for himself."


Moral:
"A man is known by the company he keeps."
Mr. Trump is loved by David Duke, Vladimir Putin, and Jean-Marie Le Pen.

Monday, February 29, 2016

The Pirates of Penzance

Pirate King:
For some ridiculous reason, to which, however,
I've no desire to be disloyal,

Some person in authority,
I don't know who, very likely the Astronomer Royal,

Has decided that,
although for such a beastly month as February,
twenty-eight days as a rule are plenty,

One year in every four his days shall be reckoned as nine and twenty.

Through some singular coincidence,
I shouldn't be surprised if it were owing to the agency of an ill-natured fairy

You are the victim of this clumsy arrangement,
having been born in leap-year,
on the twenty-ninth of February;

And so, by a simple arithmetical process,
you'll easily discover,

That though you've lived twenty-one years,
yet, if we go by birthdays,
you're only five and a little bit over!
Yep - Gilbert & Sullivan have something to say about Leap Year!

semi self-promotion... the other half is GOTV

GOTV: "Get Out The Vote!"
Democrats Should Be Very Nervous About Their Terrible Turnout Numbers
YES! - Dems should be concerned.

The ONLY way to avoid "President Trump" come November is for Dems to VOTE!

I'll try a Pay it Forward kinda thing.

(This is the self-promotion bit.)

If you like this blog, recommend it to three (3) friends.
... and ask 'em to do the same.

My main concern is NOT increasing readership... trust me.

My main concern is getting Dems to the polls come November!

If we don't VOTE, we could well be stuck with President Trump.
(This would be BAD!)

I don't get it

The Republican Party’s implosion over Donald Trump’s candidacy has arrived

Divisions within GOP over Trump's candidacy are growing
I don't get it.

Here's my (entirely self-promoting) previous post:
Just for fun: an open letter to the GOP
Trump is the CREATION of the "Establishment" GOP!

Why are they now so surprised?
Hosea8:7
For they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind...

Sunday, February 28, 2016

... a possible anti-Trump meme

Donald Trump stumbles on David Duke, KKK
By Eric Bradner, CNN
Sun February 28, 2016

"Just so you understand, I don't know anything about David Duke, OK?" Trump said.
...
"I don't know anything about what you're even talking about with white supremacy or white supremacists," he said. "So I don't know. I don't know -- did he endorse me, or what's going on? Because I know nothing about David Duke; I know nothing about white supremacists."
No, I'm not talking about Trump's appeal to white sumpremacists, or their endorsement of him.

I'm talking about his willful, fully acknowledged ignorance about ANYTHING!
"I mean, Seventh-day Adventist, I don't know about. I just don't know about."
I'm not going to dig through any of Trump's past rants to verify this, but I'd bet that he has stated, "I don't know...!" frequently...
... most likely in response to uncomfortable and discomfiting questions like the one above.

Maybe someone with more stomach than I could dig through published interviews & videos and put together a nice 30-second TV spot:
"I don't know... "

"I know nothing about..."

"I don't know... "

"I know nothing about..."

"I don't know... "
You get the idea.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

This headline scared me... till I read the explanation

Former CIA Head Explains Why Armed Forces Can't Legally Obey Trump
"If he were to order that once in government, the American armed forces would refuse to act."
This had a frightening Seven Days in May sound to it... till I read General Hayden's explanation:
Michael Hayden, the former head of the NSA and CIA, thinks some of presidential candidate Donald Trump's campaign promises are so unlawful that the U.S. Armed Forces could not follow them as orders.

These include Trump's claim that people deserve to be waterboarded even if it doesn't work and that he would target the families of terrorists. The internationally recognized Geneva Conventions bars such action.

"If he were to order that once in government, the American armed forces would refuse to act," Hayden said Friday during an appearance on "Real Time with Bill Maher." "You are required not to follow an unlawful order that would be in violation of all the international laws of armed conflict."
I was in Army Basic Training some seven (7) years post-My Lai.
Two full days of classroom instruction were devoted to the distinction between "lawful" and "unlawful" orders, and our duty to obey the first and REFUSE to obey the second.
'Twas a lot for young recruits to wrap our heads around.

Yep - waterboarding is TORTURE under international law... heck, we prosecuted Japanese officers as war-criminals for this act in WWII.
Yep - deliberately targeting non-combatants - even if the families of bad guys - is ILLEGAL under international law!

For what it's worth: the Federal Government working for ME!

For the past few days I've been publishing graphs reflecting various economic trends.
These graphs have been based on data collected, compiled, and conveniently distributed by the Federal Government!

The Bureau of Economic Analysis has been the source of GDP numbers.
The Census Bureau's Current Population Survey has provided data on household income and home prices.

With these readily available data, ANYONE can pretend to be an economist!
The data are empowering!
... and they're provided more-or-less FREE!
("more-or-less": one does need internet connectivity to access the data... and, yes, my taxes do support these Federal agencies.)

If you don't like the way I slice & dice the data, or perhaps object to my choices (e.g., using "household income" as my preferred metric), YOU can access the raw data YOURSELF and do your very own analysis!
I've used only a few of the myriad tables available on these websites! - Go for it!!!

Friday, February 26, 2016

I AM a Socialist!

We the people of the United States, in order to
form a more perfect union,
establish justice,
insure domestic tranquility,
provide for the common defense,
promote the general welfare,
and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity,
do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
Which of these do the GOP hopefuls NOT want to pay for?

Okay - everyone is for "common defense".
Spend zillions of dollars on the military.

But other than that?

"A more perfect union"? - all I hear is Mexicans and Muslims are BAD! REALLY BAD!!!

"Justice"? - ... I'd love to say they've all said, "Lock 'em all up!"... but in fact, no one has said ANYTHING about JUSTICE.

"Domestic tranquility"?... again, no word about this.
Just build a wall.

"General welfare"? - Obamacare is BAD! ... but we've not a clue how to fix or replace it.

"Blessings of liberty"?
Torture good.

... and again: no clue how we're gonna pay for any of this.
... oh, yeah - I forgot: CUT TAXES!

(I'm not quite sure how this is supposed to work.)

"The rich get richer"? - is this a Law a Nature?

... alternative title:
Yes! - Let's TALK about the redistribution of wealth!
Below is a graph depicting another ratio:
Household income:
(Upper 5%)/median
I went to the trouble of drawing a line through the points - it's pretty darn linear!

If this were hard science one would be tempted to say, "Hey, we've discovered a Law of Nature!"
I doubt Galileo's data for his Law of Falling Bodies fit a curve quite so well.

In 1975 - the earliest year for which I have complete data, the top 5% of households earned about 2.7x the median household.
In 2014 - the latest year for which I have complete data, the top 5% of households earned just over 3.8x the median household.

Note:
I'm talking about the upper 5% of households, not the infamous 1%.
These aren't the super-rich, just the "pretty-darn-well-off" folks.
The median? - Well, those are the folks smack-dab in the middle - the truly MIDDLE class.

Every year, year after year...
... the top 5% of households gain about 2.8% on the rest of us!
What's going on here?
IS this a Law of Nature?

Just another graph

... this one presents a ratio:
(median home price)/(median household income)
For most of the period covered - 1975 - 2014 - this was reasonably stable at just over 3:
The "typical" house was priced just about 3x the "typical" household income.
Then we hit the housing bubble, when the ratio climbs to about 5:
The "typical" house was priced 5x the "typical" household income.

This should have been a clue that housing prices were NOT properly aligned with the over-all economy!
Then the ratio heads down, till 2012, when it starts to head up again.

The up-tick?
Housing prices are recovering.
Median household income is NOT.

The "recovery" from the Great Recession has NOT been visible to the truly MIDDLE class!