write to me. If it gets weird, consider that weird attracts search engines, and the site is really a test of search engines and of our system features. (Many images can be clicked for a larger version.)
Trump: A reasonable request
Donald Tr*mp does not speak for all Americans and cannot expect to stifle violence by "all" who would perpetrate it. He can, however, influence his followers. All we can ask — but probably cannot expect — of him is a statement something like "if you think you are acting in my name or the name of causes in which I believe, you are wrong, and I repudiate you and all like you and do not want your support or your vote." This should come without his characteristic attempt to confuse a situation like today's Pittsburgh shooting by diffusing blame so thinly that we cannot assign responsibility, thereby pointing the finger away from himself. We all know whence this came.
A wee pun is a bit o' fun
Rural America in Crisis Due to Tr*mp Tariffs
Writing in the New York Times, Robert Leonard says "The most poignant evidence of the depopulation of rural [America] over the last three-quarters of a century is the lily. Drive any highway or rock road in the state about this time of year and you will see that about every half-mile, the ditches are full of beautiful orange lilies.
"Behind the lilies are hundred-acre fields of corn or beans, and if you park your car and wander the field behind the lilies, you will invariably find nails, broken crockery and remnants of life where a farmhouse once stood. The lilies are all that’s left of the dreams of the optimistic family that planted the lilies and made a farm and a life on the land generations ago, only to see it lost.
"The destruction of a way of life cuts as deep now as it did back then, especially when it comes from this president. The only thing he knows about food is that it always comes served to him on a silver, or maybe gold, platter."
Click the graphic for a comparison of one medical procedure.
Actually, it's even better. Since I already speak Spanish, I can just lie around instead of doing homework!
A recent thread on Facebook asked for comments from people whose name is spelled in a less common way. My answer: Rees, not Reese. When I was born during WWII there were many shortages. It was intended that no one should have more than two eGGs, but there was also a shortage of Gs, so a rule was inadvertently published providing that no one might have more than two Es. Rationing, like war itself, was Hell.
Interior Dept. Shamed into Abandoning Fee Hike
Alt National Park Service Reports:
Attn: Your voices have been heard! The Interior Department is backing off from substantially raising the entrance fee for national parks after more than 100,000 Americans wrote to complain about the proposed hikes. Last October, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke proposed raising the entrance fee for 17 major parks from $25 to $70, a change that would mark the largest price increase since World War II.
The idea that public parks should show a profit is as public policy patently insane.
As of 2016, the National Park Service has an annual budget of about $3 billion and an estimated $12 billion maintenance backlog. The National Park Services budget is divided into two primary areas, discretionary and mandatory spending (Wikipedia). That annual budget is about $10 per citizen. For another $2 each per year (total about $1 per month per citizen) we could create a sinking fund that would clear the repair deck in about 40 years, leaving the National Parks as they were in my childhood. Maintaining that $12 fee or (saints preserve us doubling it to a whopping $24 per year could make the parks free to all forever. (Feel free to suggest a progressive income related fee structure.)
The (R)eally selfish people who came up with the fee increase idea don't care a whit about the parks. The Secretary of the Interior who oversees this is the beloved Ryan Zinke (often referred to as Who?, yes the guy who took a batallion of security agents along on his European vacation at public expense), the same guy who wants to strip mine most of North America and charge bargain rates to industry for whatever is exposed. Like most of the current Cabinet, he was appointed not as a steward but as a liquidator of the national patrimony (if this were the 19th Century I'd have added "upon the altar of Mammon," but I won't go there.)
Training and arming classroom teachers as school guards; costly, bad idea
Donald Trump, ever our protector, has proposed arming 20% of school teachers as part-time guards. That's 600,000 teachers. We can evaluate the proposal superficially rather quickly (fearless analysis: this article has taken longer to write than DT has thought about the issue).
Average teacher salary in US (2014) is $56,383 plus benefits. With est. fringe of 25% = $70,000.
Average training period for a sworn police officer is six months; we might assume three months for limited-duty training. There is ample reason to doubt that police-training agencies could gear up for this effort, but we won't count that for now.
Cost of training = one-fourth of a teacher's annual salary plus cost of training a police officer. Averages $7,000 across the US. Total with three months teacher salary $18,500 approx. The trainees might reasonably ask for a bonus for giving up their summer vacation, but we won't count that.
Presumably the teachers accepting the risk would get combat pay, let's say 25% bonus for half their career span. Figure 25% of $70,000 for 20 years or $300,000. Of course that would raise their pensions by a commensurate amount; est. 10% rise in pension cost; we won't try to calculate that permanent cost either.
So to summarize.
Ban and collect all "assault" weapons (define it yourself).
Government(s) might reimburse owners @ $400 each (currently advertised price of used AR-15 on 26 Feb 2018). (This is a good deal for most owners, whose guns are mostly hidden in closets, improperly maintained and rusting away.)
This would put a lot of money into circulation, almost entirely at a scale conducive to re-spending, which could be a boost to the economy, or perhaps equally to savings, which has lagged in recent decades.
If 10M are in circulation the one-time cost would be (400*10M)=$4 billion — about one-fifth of the armed-teacher plan — with no annual incremental cost.
To assuage anti-"Big Gub'mint" fears, there could be a federal license to carry with reasonable qualifications, e.g., an age limit; training requirement and certification; documentation while in possession; storage and protection obligations... Such a license might carry fees roughly equivalent to a passport, around $200 initially plus a periodic renewal. Further open and honest dialogue could work that out. Thus we protect the Second Amendment, as we should for a host of reasons.
Summary of Alternative
The nay-sayers are probably right that nothing can entirely eliminate the possibility of mass shootings, but this is about probabilities, not metaphysics, and imperfection is no excuse for inaction.
In case you've forgotten...
...where you saw that face before.
Net Neutrality on the Auction Block
In what universe is turning over unfettered control of the Internet to ISP and telecomm giants consistent with the core objectives of the US government, namely " to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity..."?
You can still make a difference. The FCC, following the lead of their industry-tool chairman, will vote to protect corporate power and to screw you on Thursday, Dec. 14. Write your congressional representatives NOW! (https://dearfcc.org) It is VERY important that you write a personal message in the comment section; otherwise your message will be ignored as a bulk mailing. Say something about how you expect the proposed changes will harm you or your community (they will).
Twelfth Century Trump Forecast?
The “hadith” is a body of commentaries on Muslim life by writers from early Islamic times to the present. The following interesting passage is from Mishkat, Kitab al-Ilm, Chap. 3. (The Book of Knowledge, Ch. 3.)
“[A time will come when] there will be nothing left of knowledge. People will make the ignorant their leaders and will seek guidance from them in matters of religion. These leaders will issue (edicts) without any knowledge. They will themselves be misguided and will lead others astray.”
It would appear that all claims to the contrary, the present administration is fulfilling the expectations of the 12th Century author.
Trump, Flynn and the Nature of Lying
I cannot be the only one who has realized Donald Trump has incriminated himself.
Headline: “Trump tweets from motorcade he fired Flynn for lying to Pence, FBI.” (Chicago Tribune ). See also accompanying “Tweet” from Dec 2.
This appears to be prima facie evidence from Trump’s own tiny fingers that he knew of Flynn’s lies to the FBI well before they were publicly documented.
Supposedly the FBI discovered the lies in the summer, and Flynn’s guilty plea became public only last week. If Trump knew in February and did not reveal his knowledge, he clearly participated in a conspiracy to cover up Flynn’s crime. Both ignorance and knowledge of a fact cannot simultaneously be true.
The problem with lying, to the FBI or to the nation, is that one cannot keep the lies straight. In this case, Trump cannot have known in February that Flynn would lie to the FBI later in the spring or summer. So either he knew in February that the lies were coming — a clear indication of conspiracy — or he made up his prior knowledge yesterday. Either way, he either was or is a liar.
Somewhere south of the Rio Grande in the Age of Enlightenment there once lay a vortex that sucked some revolutionaries into a desire to be petty kings, decorated with ribbons and epaulets, leaving their progeny with a legacy of constant turmoil and perpetual economic inequality, while others remained outside the event horizon and bequeathed only imperfect freedom. Sadly, descendants of the former often blame descendants of the latter for their problems. Yagottawonder.
Let's be honest about what and who matters
Writing on Facebook, Kate Riffle Roper wrote on July 19, 2016, the following description of her life as mother of a multi-racial family. We all need to take this lesson to heart. I freely acknowledge that for almost 75 years I've been subjected to propaganda intended to predispose me and those like me not to care about those who are not like me. It's not always easy to sort out one's feelings or to recognize behavior or utterances that may hurt rather than help. We just have to keep trying to do as nearly all the world's philosophers and teachers have urged and see everyone as deserving of the same kindness we expect for ourselves.
Ms Roper's message:
If you succumb to the "need" to ask the above questions, you are part of the problem. Wouldn't you rather be part of the solution?
Latest Bad Health Care Idea Dies in Congress
The idea that abandoning our national affordable care system and turning over health systems policy to the states will resolve the fiscal crisis in our nation is absurd. Simple demographics make it a bad idea.
With the exception of age-related maladies such as senile dementia and a few others, illness strikes in ways that are best understood as random. Almost no state has a population whose age distribution, ethnic mix, income, education, etc., closely mirror the national equivalents. Thus it is entirely predictable that the distribution of illness in some states will overload specific forms of care while in states with younger, healthier populations, medical services will abound and may be surplus or squandered.
Consider two hypothetical states A and B. A is in the rust belt, and its population is relatively old due to the decline of traditional industry and economy and consequent out-migration of young people, who take their earning power and their children (AKA future earners) with them. B is experiencing rapid in-migration its modern economy is creating new wealth and infrastructure that will continue to expand for decades.
A will likely be unable to provide adequate services to its population based on some national average block grants; it will be unable to pay for home care or even common services. It will be forced to raise the share of costs that must be borne by the individual, leading to increasing poverty. Parents will be obliged to pause before seeking care for their children’s injuries or minor illnesses, leading to long-term health consequences that will further unbalance the system. Certain high-cost medical procedures and specialties will become unavailable. Although it is purported that “choice and options” will increase, the real choice will be between medical care and other essentials, with the only option being relocation. Yet because the majority of A’s citizens’ wealth is tied up in their homes and their income is tied to declining local industry for which they were trained long ago, relocation is not a viable option.
B’s citizens, in contrast, will never have had it so good, at least for a while. Their economic and demographic advantages will mean that no one will have to pause before seeking care. Cosmetic surgery and other non-essential specialties will be growth industries; noses and breasts will be reshaped and augmented in every village and town. Medical specialties and procedures now unavailable in A will be a net revenue producer for B, leading to further outflow of A’s wealth and thence to further decline it A’s ability to finance health care. Medical training will continue to migrate to large, rich states, while small, poor states struggle to buy aspirin and adhesive bandages.
These effects will also operate at the local level. Poor counties will get poorer; rich ones will get richer; this will be most apparent in large states like California, Texas and Florida at one end and in Michigan, Mississippi and the Great Plains at the other.
Today we’ve learned that the “(R)eject and (R)egress” effort in Congress has failed again. Good news, but have no doubt they’ll be baa-ack one day soon. Beware!
Latest Bad Health Care Idea Dies in Congress © 26 Sep 2017