Translation versus Interpretation
Accuracy and meaning
By Rees Clark

Automated translation has advanced greatly in recent years. However, users should be aware that machines can translate, but they cannot interpret. Translation is the substitution of words and known phrases and is based on knowledge; interpretation is the art of conveying meaning and is based on understanding. They are like apples and oranges, both fruits but not the same.

At the current state of the art, many modes of speaking and writing do not "translate" well, and additional meaning beyond the individual words or phrases may be lost, and linguistic differences may confuse meaning further.

For example, consider the English expression, it takes a thief to catch a thief. This sentence actually has little to do with thieves or thievery. It means instead that people of a certain type are able to recognized others of the same type by their behavior and style, not their actions or appearance.

Google gives two translations:
Se necesita un ladrón para atrapar a un ladrón,
or Se necesita una ladróna para atrapar a un ladróna.

In Spanish the two translations distinguish between male and female thieves, not because their sex is important in the meaning of the sentence, which is an allegory and not a statement of fact, but simply because Spanish distinguishes all nouns by gender. Russian goes a step further by declining even proper names by gender. Japanese does not distinguish thief by gender and returns only the masculine version when translated into Spanish. Interestingly, Google unnecessarily places an accent mark above the female ladrona.

Because of these minor difference, the original sentence when translated from English to Spanish to Russian to Japanese happens to return the original text, with only Spanish introducing the concept of gender. The fact that the circuitous translation results in the non-gender-specific form is probably due in part to the fact that Google chooses to place the masculine version before the feminine (please vent your feminist ire at Google not at the author ).

Which of these translations is correct? It's really up to the author and the reader to decide, and if an author knows the material is likely to be rendered in other languages, to write with special clarity.

In general we suggest (in English) that you take the result with a grain of salt, noting that nothing in this section has anything to do with thieves or salt.
Historic Loser
It occurs to me that Donald Trump has now matched William Jennings Bryan's record of losing the presidency three times. Jennings by popular vote: 1896, 1900, 1908. Trump by popular vote: Nov 8, 2016, Nov 3 2020, and by attempted coup d'etat January 6, 2021.

The difference, of course, is that Bryan—he who would not "crucify mankind on a cross of gold"—is buried among the heroes of the nation in Arlington National Cemetery, while no matter the eventual—and surely gold-plated—locus of his earthly remains, Trump will live forever in infamy.
Should Disney Abandon Florida?
The only reasons Disney World is in FL:
  • it's relatively warm in the winter
  • expansion of Disneyland in CA was impossible
  • FL rural land was cheap in 1950s
  • FL labor laws facilitate exploitation
  • FL environmental laws facilitate destruction of habitat

Pretty hard to replicate those conditions. Now, if F. Castro and W. Disney had struck just the right deal...

DW earned about $17 billion in 2021. Assuming the end of Covid, 2023 might pull in $25 billion as the three-year unrequited desire of RV families is satisfied.

Cuba's GDP is about $100 billion. There's a lot of underutilized land. A $25 billion bump might be pretty attractive, especially if Disney had to build the needed infrastructure—airports, hotels, etc. On the other hand it would mean the return of evil capitalists; on the other think of the spinoffs. ¿Quien sabe?

In praise of simple design
In 1968 I turned my 1959 Volkswaven beetle into a one-man travel camper.

By removing the backrest of the passenger seat, one had about 6'4" from the rear seat backrest to the glove compartment door. That accommodated a plywood platform cut to shape and then into two pieces that spanned the length, wrapped around the driver's seat.

Behind the seats, in the small storage space behind the back seat, and in the forward trunk, I stowed the passenger backrest, a sleeping bag and pad, a small valise, a two-burner Coleman stove and a day's groceries (some of that had to go outside at night in a tarp).

I cooked on the inside platform; ate in the driver's seat; slept on the platform. It had the old cloth open top, so had plenty of ventilation.

By removing all the adaptations and putting the passenger seat back together, it returned to stock configuration with no hard modifications.

Drove all over So. California doing research on land use for my master's degree.

Surely pound for pound the most versatile vehicle I ever owned.
Vaccines and you
Why aren't you dead or debilitated from polio?

Well, there's a good chance (virtually 100 percent) that it's because you were vaccinated as a child.

In 1950 there were 151.3 million residents of the US, including the 250,000 who had been afflicted with polio in the 1940s, but excluding the 22,000, mostly children, who had died.

Beginning in 1954, the Salk and Sabin vaccines began sounding the death knells of the disease, which is now absent (< 1% incidence annually) from all but the world's most marginalized communities.

With the notable exception of a group of persons vaccinated with a contaminated batch in the early months of distribution and before national production standards had been established (by the "big gub'mint" bogeyman, of course), there have been very few incidents of negative consequences, while the world's population has tripled, and the number of vaccinations has grown even more.

The recent resistance to vaccination is mainly based on unscientific claims by celebrities who have neither the training nor the expertise to make such claims. One can make a pretty good case that Jenny McCarthy, Robert Kennedy, Jr., Alex Jones, and others have killed more people in the past decade than polio ever did. (We could name several others, but they've died unvaccinated from Covid-19.) All statistical evidence points to the success of vaccination as a means of combatting disease, and the anecdotes offered as proof of the opposite are not evidence but merely conjecture.

One thing of which I'm sure: My parents' and grandparents' generations cared more about their children than this year's crop. Like it or not, we almost universally got our injections, and we're still here.

It's really all about the statistics. When I was born in 1943, male life expectancy was 69 years. I'm 79, and most of my high school classmates are alive and well. When my father was born in 1916 male life expectancy was 49. Today it is 76. Most of the longevity gain in the past century has been due to advances in medicine (not to disparage other socio-economic factors), much of it in vaccines and other bio-chemical interventions. (To paraphrase DuPont's old slogan, "longer living through chemistry.")

Or feel free to ignore the foregoing and simply say, "science deniers, STFU."
On track for a million Covid-19 deaths, US response lags
At 791,000 dead, the US has 4% of the world population and 15% of the 5.2 million deaths from Covid-19. This discrepancy is ENTIRELY due to the administration of public health by a gang of incompetent yes-men led by an ignorant fool.

However, it also speaks to the generally dismal larger health care system. Covid-19 is just a test, and the system has failed; the next pandemic could be much worse. Private, fee-for-service medicine must end. With the sole exception of the miracle-cure specialties in which we excel but deliver only to the wealthy or the lucky, virtually all aspects of the system are second rate. The wealthy "cure" their deviated septums while the children of poor parents with "minor" illnesses go untreated.

And all in the name of either tax abatement or self-centered, dog eat dog ideology, the most selfish and the least actionable elements of human society. The vaccines that could stop the pandemic—funded by the government—are mindlessly eschewed by the supporters of the principal offenders, leaving a pool of victims to host the further evolution of the disease.

One notes that at current rates the millionth American will expire of Covid-19 early in the spring. Good luck!
Fairly unbalanced cable network outed
Thought this worthy of further distribution.

“Dear Moonbats, trolls, wingnuts, and assorted old friends and coworkers who’ve fallen under the spell of Rupert Murdoch’s vast right wing conspiracy—yes, Hillary was correct.
When you come to a lefty’s page and spew Murdoch-approved talking points, you out yourself at once. There are certain buzzwords that Rupert’s hatchet-men have resolved to promote. Once upon a time, it was the big push over a guy named “Reverend Wright.” And “Soros.” Then “death panels.” Then “Where’s the birth certificate?” Then “Benghazi.” Now it’s “hyperinflation.” And “$375.00 wasted on pots & pans as America suffers.” And “Gas prices have never been higher.”
All that up above? All those headlines? Not news. Tabloid bullshit. LIES. Every bit of it. It was packaged as news, presented as news, plastered all over Rupert’s misinformation networks as news, but it wasn’t. It was—and still is—tabloid garbage that’s carefully crafted in some dank boardroom or studio somewhere, fine-tuned by propagandists who are paid millions of dollars per year for their “talent,” then turned loose on folks like you. Folks who think to themselves; “Well, it must be true, otherwise, they wouldn’t be able to say it on the news.”
And then like the good minion that you are, you propagate it.
Again: it’s NOT news. It’s bullshit. But thanks to 1) a loophole in the otherwise well-intentioned wording of the 1st Amendment, and 2) a diabolical billionaire who’s figured out how to exploit that loophole as a means with which to enriched himself at the expense of his loyal subjects (many of whom don’t know the difference between chicken salad and chicken shit), Rupert has helped to establish the most dangerous chasm between Democrat and Republican, right and left, truth and fiction, those in-the-know and those-in-the-dark in our nation’s history.
His *personal* take in all this? $21,000,000,000.00. That’s twenty-one BILLION. With a “B.” But hey, coming up with lies and smears 24/7 is hard work.
So when you come to one of my threads and mention “Joe Biden’s dementia,” or “Kamala Harris’ cookware scandal,” or ask; “When did Tucker Carlson ever lie?” You’re out. You’ve outed yourself. What’s curious, is that even though you’re obviously a committed Foxophile, you insist you’re not. You say; “Oh, I watch Fox, but I also watch MSLSD and the Clinton News Network. Because I want to hear all sides.”
You’re a LIAR. And a bad one at that. Busted again.
Here’s the deal. Do one of two things. Or better yet, do both: Stop lying to the world and yourself about being a Rupert Murdoch stooge. Say it loud—be proud; “Yes, I watch Fox News! Yes, I believe it’s actually NEWS! Yes, I vote against my own interests because Fox News propagandists have convinced me that I should!”
~ Or ~
Turn off Fox News. Try getting some *actual* news from a credible news agency. I know Rupert has convinced you that the so-called “mainstream media” is evil, but take a chance. Tune out Mark Levin and try tuning in NPR. What’s the harm in trying?
Just don’t come to my wall with Murdoch’s filth, then insist that you “came up with that all by yourself.” No you didn’t. It was methodically, slowly cooked up, then pounded into your wooly brain over a predetermined stretch of costly airtime. And like clockwork, you’ve spread it out over the Internet without bothering to fact-check a single word of it. Because you trust Uncle Rupert at his word. He has YOUR interests at heart. So do Sean, Laura, Tucker, Tomi and Judge Jeannine. They all seem so nice, don’t they? Just good white folks shining a spotlight on the evils of “Critical Race Theory” and Mexicans streaming across the border.
Don’t even think about Rupert’s $21B, and you working 50 hours per week for 50 grand a year.
Just don’t come here and lie by expecting us to believe that you’re an “independent thinker.” No you’re not. And if you aren’t after what’s happened these past five years, you never will be. You’re just a pawn doing the dirty deeds of some vile, decidedly unpatriotic scum. But you go ahead and hug your flag if it makes you feel better about your contribution to America’s demise.”

- Bruce Lindner

(Photo shows Murdoch laughing – at you – all the way to the bank.)

After Bruce Lindner quoted by Occupy Democrats on Facebook.
Build Back Better, because...
For those whining about the cost of the "Build Back Better" package now working its way throught the hand-w(R)inging process in the Congress, herewith a little help for the arithmetically challenged.

One trillion is 1 followed by 12 zeroes. Expended over ten years, the cost to each of the 180 million US taxpayers is about $1.52 per day ($1 tn ÷ 10 ÷ 180 mm ÷ 365 = ~$1.52).

The cost of doing nothing is not zero, BTW. It is equal to the cost of all the other ways society might have to cope with the results of doing nothing, e.g., coping with all the angry, uneducated, homeless persons wandering the nation's streets a few years hence. So if you're OK with that, go ahead and support inaction.

But first, consider the range of proposals just among Democrats. The Biden group suggests $3.5 tn, while the Manchin "group" suggests $1.5 tn, a difference of $2 tn.

Applying the same formula as above, one arrives at a difference between the packages of $3.04 per day for the average taxpayer. That's around $1,111 per year or $92.59 per month as "your" cost of providing the package of services and facilities (much of the money would be spent on improving infrastructure associated with public services, such as modernization of day care centers for chldren and seniors, etc.).

Either way seems cheap to me if it means that fewer children go hungry and fewer mothers have to scrounge for scraps to feed them. There is essentially nothing I truly need that can be bought for $3.04 anyway.

And if you think you are above the fray, remember that so did all those homeowners whose dwellings were blown or washed away in this summer's storms. Each of us is but one "grace of God" moment away from being a recipient instead of a donor. How will you want the nation to respond when that needy person on the street is you?
Vaccination Then and Now
Smallpox vaccinations were suspended in about 1970, almost 193 years after Geo. Washington ordered the inoculation of the American army at Valley Forge with the then-new and experimental direct exposure technique that preceded vaccination, actually infecting the patient directly and leading to an unpleasant illness and sometimes to death. Thousands were inoculated on the say-so of the single, newly appointed general, who had observed the technique during the Siege of Boston. The winter inoculation program allowed the recovered soldiers to participate in the improving outcomes of maneuvers and battles. A case can be made for an important role for vaccinating techniques in the birth of the United States.

Now the upstart Joe Biden is trying to inflict on the good people of the US a hideous vaccine that imposes symptoms so mild as to be unnoticeable in many of the vaccinated. Is he so blind to our national pride that he advocates a preventive rather than a cure. How are we to brag to our grandchildren that we survived the ordeal when the ordeal is but a trifle?

Brave and forthright citizens are resisting across the country, and I say Yes!, let them remain unvaccinated and pure in their belief that unnecessary suffering is the unalterable condition of life. Furthermore, provide them with cots and blankets, water and gruel, that they might lie outside hospitals, eschewing the false treatments of elite physicians and officials, trusting in magic sky beings and allowing others the false hope of beeping machines and filtered air—after all, who knows what's in it?

Graphic by Dawn Mockler
Elecshun Frawd!
I wonder whether the true believers have considered the arithmetic of a nationwide fradulent election. About 170MM persons voted in 2020. Thus the 3,142 counties have an average 54,000 voters who need, say, 15 minutes each to vote, meaning about 13,500 voting hours per county. If polls are open 12 hours and voting is restricted to one day, then the number of precincts required is about 1,125 per county; let's cut that in half (~600) to allow for mail-in and other voting options. So the number of precincts is 600 X 3,142 or 1,571,000. A web search returned estimates of 100,000 to one million under varying assumptions. Throwing out the highest and lowest estimates, we might assume somewhere between 250,000 and 500,000. To give the fraud believers their best shot, let's go with 250K.

Now in almost all jurisdictions, the political parties are allowed to place "poll watchers" to observe and report skullduggery. Most are retirees who cannot stay awake for 12 hours, so if there are to be two of each party on duty at all times (one watching the registration desk and one observing polling booths) and if four shifts of three hours are used, the number of poll watchers will be 4X3=12. Multiplying that by the 250K precincts gives 3,000,000.

Now assume that each polling place has a county employee serving as manager. Labor laws would prevent their shift exceeding 8 hours, so there must be two for each precinct. So that's another 2X250,000 or one-half million. Total so far 3,500,000.

Now let's assume that half of all the ballots are counted mechanically. This is done using equipment from perhaps ten commercial providers, each of which has a team of programmers, technicians, delivery drivers, installers, trainers and QA personnel. If each consists of 100 workers who service, say, 100 precincts, that's 250,000 additional persons. Total 3,500,000+250,000 = 3,750,000 persons.

So a minimum of 3.75 million people must participate in the scheme and keep the secret forever. And here's the truly remarkable part: Every single one who engaged in the schemes in the last two national elections must be a Democrat, including the capitalistic purveyors of the voting equipment, for why would a Republican participate?

Now assume that each one has a spouse, or a best friend, or a talkative child, or a worst enemy, or a best friend who's a Republican, or a drinking buddy; just one will do. And none of those can catch a slip of the tongue or spot an errant document or overhear a telling phone call. For a lifetime.

Surely the concept of 3.75 million Democrats agreeing on anything—let alone forever—lies outside the bounds of plausibility and should be enough to reject the whole proposition, but even if they could pull it off briefly, eventually their propensity for collective guilt would undo them, and they would confess. (Insert Will Rogers' analysis of the (D) party here, or post it in the comments.)

Still believing?
Keep raising the mathematical bar
Someone in a Facebook feed I look at has dragged out an old saw seeking to sever high school math from the curriculum in favor of "practical" learning like now to get a loan and pay one's taxes.

I must demur. Of course, the subjects he prefers to mathematics are all useful and practical and should perhaps be included in the curriculum. Many of us who received academic credit for carburetor repair, garment hemming, and making a wooden lazy-susan tray for our moms are still alive.

Algebra 2 is merely one topic among many despised subjects required for post-secondary education. Perhaps we should also excise geometry — just a bunch of nice shapes, or trigonometry — after all, who would ever need to calculate the volume of an irregularly-shaped swimming pool or the wind resistance of a moving vehicle? And all those languages? Auf wiedersehen, Deutsch; vaya con Dios, español!

All of his favored subjects are routine record-keeping tasks that can be learned in a few weeks and are primarily a matter of rote practice and execution. E.g., I learned the rudiments of mortgage finance one afternoon in 1975 when I set out to buy my first house. I was able to do that, because mortgage finance, after all, is little more than the type of formula learned in, yes, Algebra 2. Retirement planning is similarly an exercise in multivariate analysis using simultaneous equations (yep, A2 again). Furthermore, they can in many cases be performed by machines (aka computers). Most of today's teens will do those tasks with apps on their cell phones; if none of them takes A2, how will they know whether they're being cheated?

In contrast, linear and non-linear algebra are tools for analyzing new and unexpected events, procedures, policies and for extrapolating future options from past experience. To suggest that one can simply be substituted for the other is facile at best. Those who do not understand the mathematics that define processes like college loans, credit, mortgages, and taxes will be forever at the mercy of those who do. Trust me, your banker, your banker's boss, that annoying agent from the IRS, and their lawyers all took Algebra 2.
For decades I've wondered where my grandfather Ephraim Rees Davis got his name.

Davis, of course, came from his father's family.

Rees was his mother's father's name.

And today, by pure serendipity I web-searched the name of his birthplace, Samaria, ID, with no other text, and...

"The Samaritans are an ethnoreligious group originating from the Israelites of the Ancient Near East. Ancestrally, Samaritans claim descent from the tribe of Ephraim and tribe of Manasseh as well as from the Levites, who have links to ancient Samaria from the period of their entry into Canaan, while some Orthodox Jews suggest that it was from the beginning of the Babylonian captivity up to the Samaritan polity under the rule of Baba Rabba. (Wikipedia)"

"My" Ephraim was the last born to his mother, and because they were a religious family from Samaria, there's the answer!

Seek well, and all things will be revealed unto you.

Another Troglodyte Meme Surfaces on Facebook
In the aftermath of our recent national spate of gun-totin' insanity, a friend has re-posted a meme on Facebook suggesting that "gun control" is rendered foolish by virtue of a comparison of crime rates in Chicago and Maine. Hmmmmm?

Apples and Oranges, I fear. Cannot let this one slide, especially this week.

Maine has a current population density of just 43.1 people per square mile, over an area consisting of 35,380 square miles, which makes it the least densely populated state in New England, the American northeast and the eastern seaboard, as well as all states with an Atlantic coastline and all of those states east of the Mississippi River. In short, at any given moment there's hardly anyone to shoot.

By comparison, almost a quarter of Illinois' population is living in Chicago due to the job opportunities there. The city's population density is 4,593 people per km2 (over 100 times that of Maine). In August, they're all riding the EL, smelling after a day's work and frustrated at every little thing, and they're inches apart.

Assume one person in ten thousand is angry or crazy enough to be homicidal. In Maine there would be 134 dangerous persons in 35,385 sq mi and in Chicago 269 in 234 sq mi.

In Maine the nearest dangerous person is thus occupying (35385/134) sq mi or about 11.5 million sq ft, or about 3,827 feet away (a mile is 5,280 feet).

In Chicago that person is standing in only 37,892 sqft or about 100 feet away, i.e., in your own back yard. If the population of dangerous people is five per ten thousand, one is sharing your bedroom.

Despite the obvious intent, the meme has nothing to do with the Second Amendment or personal liberty generally. When that was adopted in 1791, the nearest angry or crazy person (white, as nonwhites were not then counted in the census) was about 55 miles away and carrying a muzzle loading rifle that took two minutes to load and was about as likely to explode in his face as to launch a projectile.

How does gun control work? Japan — a country with which my family has proud connections — has a total homicide death rate of 0.02:100,000. It takes a long time and a lot of demonstrable training and paperwork to qualify to own a gun, and then never a handgun. The US rate is 12.2:100,000, or SIX HUNDRED AND TEN TIMES AS HIGH. The difference is gun control.
Ecclectic mix links solutions for rapid travel and Covid-19
Just read in quick succession articles on Elon Musk's transportation ideas and Greg Abbott's management of Texas. Juxtaposing them, it occurred to me that with hyperloop* technology it should soon be possible to cross TX from New Mexico to Louisiana nonstop in under an hour, making it unnecessary to risk exposure to the state's policies.

Secondary routes could later be constructed to connect, e.g., Albuquerque to OKC or Shreveport to Kansas City, or even Durango to Chicago, further alleviating the risk of contamination of the rest of the nation.

* Hyperloop is a system in which freight or persons travel in pods within a sealed tube, impelled by partial evacuation before and increased pressure aft of the pod, theoretically reaching speeds much higher than conventional vehicles or aircraft.

Bag that coal! Shovel me some clean power!
For those still flogging the dead mule of coal burning, the population of Appalachia and other coal-extracting regions of the US that is dependent on coal mining for their livelihood is now under 100,000 households, and the number of households heating with coal is under 130,000 and plummeting.

Regardless of the deleterious effects of coal on climate and countryside, there is a human toll of our botched approach to moving out of fossil fuels and toward renewable energy. The Appalachian Regional Commission has identified 78 counties across its area as economically distressed, meaning they rank among the most impoverished 10 percent of counties in the nation. Eighteen are in West Virginia and 42 are in eastern Kentucky. In Wyoming, the coal mining sector has shed tens of thousands of jobs since 2014. Hundreds of high-paying mining and coal burning jobs were lost in the Navajo Nation with the 2019 shut down of the Navajo Generating Station, the nation’s largest coal-fired power plant, after nearly 50 years (Courier-Journal).

Many people living in the former coal mining regions are being abandoned to their fate by their former employers, who have taken the money and run by closing up shop and declaring bankruptcy. There are many possible solutions to this situation. For example,
  • First, bankruptcy and corporate organization laws should be revised to require companies to pay severance to abandoned workers ahead of any disbursements to management or shareholders.
  • Second, the depressed areas should get the right of first refusal on national and state subsidies for the construction of new clean-energy manufacturing and distribution firms and for worker retraining and community redevelopment.

Two of my great-grandfathers, both immigrants, were coal miners for part of their lives, and one of my great-uncles was unambiguously exploited as a child laborer, but they moved on to other work that set the stage for me to have the leisure to sit here typing this. I know that with planning most families could follow similar paths. All of us should be willing to give a little that those who have served us well might gain a lot. From a human perspective, drinking cleaner water and breathing cleaner air is just a bonus.