Thursday, December 08, 2016

Pure brilliance in environmentalism

A town's windmill project in Port Angeles, Washington (near Seattle) is said to have cost $100,000, but yields a grand total of $42/month (about $500/year) in electricity, an ROI of about 0.5%.  Typical corporate ROI requirements are 15-25%.   Suffice it to say that this "environmentally sound" installation will result in far more carbon emissions than it will save, something they might have figured out if they'd looked at a weather report to find that average wind in the area is only about 5mph.

That degree of due diligence, however, appears to be too much for them, and each of the city's residents will be out a Starbucks latte as a result. 

Toughie here....

This article indicates that over the past five years, the long term trend in life expectancy--increasing since 1993--has slowed and now reversed.  Gosh, what happened five years ago that could have led to this?

Well, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as "Obamacare", but more accurately as the "Health Insurance Deform Act"(HIDA), was passed on March 23, 2010.  Once again, we see that having health insurance is not the same thing as having competent health care, and apparently the cost of HIDA is not measured merely in dollars and lost jobs, but in thousands of human lives.  Mrs. Pelosi said we'd have to pass the law to find out what's in it, and apparently it's a Pandora's Box of grief for all of us.

(to be certain, this isn't the only thing going on, but any law that costs hundreds of billions of dollars per year, and was said to cost half a million jobs annually as well, is going to leave a mark in terms of diseases like heart disease, diabetes, opiate overdose, suicide, and more...and now we have evidence for exactly this)

Monday, December 05, 2016

Not clear on the concept

Powerline writes about the desire of the left to have "great books" seminars like those of conservatives, and one interesting quote from their source is indicates that the books one liberal "great books" advocate was using for his program were all written by "progressive" authors, and moreover he himself admitted that his goal was "ideological training".  Apparently, he didn't read much by Mortimer Adler, but was quite enamored of Lenin and the Young Pioneers.  Good luck to the left in participating in the marketplace of ideas with this kind of work!

A few years ago John Halpin, a fellow at the Center for American Progress, started the Progressive Studies Program. His reading list ran from early Progressive reformers to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the Port Huron Statement on to President Obama’s Nobel acceptance speech. But he could afford to bring students together for only a day or two. Soon his resources dried up altogether. “It’s hard to get long-term funding for ideological training of this sort” from liberal donors, he told me. “We get a lot more support for demographic work.”

Saturday, December 03, 2016

About that efficient transit system

Here's an interesting article which indicates that, for all the hype about how compact cities like Chicago and New York City are "built for transit", the economics simply aren't working out even there.  The price of a 30 day transit pass in Gotham may become as high as $121, which is saying something in a city of 470 square miles where you can hardly find a place where you can go more than 25 miles in a direction without leaving the city.  Here's an interesting picture of the transit system: in 2012, the total cost was about $9.5 billion, of which about $4 billion was covered by fares and the like, $5.2 billion was from subsidies, and the system had an operating loss of $300 million.

So that $121 monthly pass really costs a total of close to $300, which means that a daily trip of ten miles each way--say to work and back, shopping, etc...has a cost of about 50 cents per mile, or just about identical to the cost of driving.  This in the best possible city on the continent for transit, no less.  It is also worth noting that if indeed revenues from fares and such are only $4 billion, that in turn means that most New Yorkers (there are 8.5 million of them) are not riding the bus or taking the subway.  Keep in mind as well that the MTA is not paying road taxes to keep the roads in good condition, so this is an underestimate of the total cost, and keep in mind as well that most of the infrastructure for the subway system was built and paid for decades ago. 

Transit may be necessary in many cities, but suffice it to say that it's in general not a good deal for the taxpayer.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

What can we do?

It's come out--no surprise--that the gentleman who attacked Ohio State students, faculty, workers, and visitors with his car and a butcher knife was motivated by Islamic extremism.  But that said, what do we do about this? 

From a political perspective, I think we have to start asking the question of whether we need to continue accepting refugees from nations that have given us a lot of terrorists, or whether there's a better solution.  I know for a fact that a little girl told me--while I was teaching her a bit about how to swim--that she'd visited Somalia.  Apparently it's safe enough for her family, and thousands of others, to visit.  Isn't the point of refugee status that you fear for your life in your own country?

On a legal level, we need to start looking at the question of whether certain mosques are inciting this kind of violence--we have freedom of religious belief and some degree of expression, but suffice it to say that the 1st Amendment no more protects incitement to violence than it would protect the revival of Aztec human sacrifice.  Lawsuits against mosques that incite violence--and perhaps also against those who fund them--might do wonders to cut down on terrorism.

On a personal level, what we do is simply what really any good carry permit instructor will tell you.  Keep in good shape if you can, develop situational awareness so you can spot trouble before it visits you, learn self-defense techniques like martial arts, and consider carrying a pistol where it's allowed.  And finally--going back to an earlier topic--if a cute as a button little girl asks you to teach her how to swim when you're watching your kids at the rec center--do it.  She and her whole family need to know about who we really are. 

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Fidel Castro, RIH

Hey, ten percent of your population risks machine guns and worse to leave, with political prisons, people freezing to death in mental hospitals in the tropics, and you make a tropical paradise into an economic no go zone where major job opportunities for college graduates are as prostitutes for El Presidente due to his siphoning off foreign aid for his own enjoyment....this is your eulogy, Fidel.  Rot.In.....

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Monday, November 21, 2016

Because it worked out so well for Katie Couric

Breitbart reports that after a PBS "on the air" interview with a Breitbart staffer did not go like PBS wanted to, NPR is thinking of prohibiting such interviews in favor of "contextualizing" the content. 

Good thinking, NPR.  It's not like those you interview have clued in that you tend to misquote them and put their comments out of context, and certainly they won't do what gun rights activists did to Katie Couric--record the interview so when they're misquoted and "contextualized", the real story can get out.

Nah, conservatives have only known that for about half a century.  Give it a whirl, we'll see what happens when you do that serious "contextualizing" you're thinking of.  By the way, did you know that Congress will be setting next year's NPR subsidy soon?  Nothing like a hatchet job to make sure you get that good increase in funding you've been desiring.

Two more car reviews

A few weeks ago, I rented a Dodge Dart (highly praised by Steve Dahl in his "hit" song "I'm a Wimp", of course) while on business.  Verdict; the seat was a relief after spending the previous six hours in airplane and airport seating, as it actually supports the back.  Controls were intuitive, and the vehicle was pretty much trouble free.  Plenty of head and leg room (at least for the driver), and the main down side is something I've noticed with almost all economy compact cars; it's a chore to get it up to highway speeds. 

On the better (and more expensive) side, my pickup gave me a couple of reasons to try a "very expensive car rental" (loaner while the truck's in the shop), and this time it is a turbocharged Buick Regal.  Now don't get me wrong; this vehicle is not going to by lining up for the quarter mile with the Mustangs and Camaros anytime soon, let alone that Tesla, but especially after about 3000 rpm, it's a fun little car--and the turbo lag seems to me to be a nice little "safety feature" that will help keep drivers out of trouble, at least a little bit.  From "the line", acceleration is a little bit slower than my pickup (love that old small block) or Acadia, but after about 10mph, it's quite sprightly.

Fit, finish, and comfort were at least "good enough for me", though my kids have noted that headroom and legroom in the back seat are not the same as in the Acadia, and there is a surprisingly spacious trunk that came in handy bringing supplies for the church potluck last night.  Controls are reasonably intuitive, and like that Dart, it was trouble free. 

One side note here relating to government fuel efficiency standards; both of these cars get about the same mileage, and are pretty much about the same size, weight, and shape, as the 1994 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme my wife and I used to own.  Maybe 10% better mileage or so, but one would figure that engineers 22 years ago were working with the same Carnot cycle and laws of mechanics and aerodynamics as they are today.

Which is, of course, exactly the case, and it's exactly why government fuel efficiency standards are simply an attempt to legislate the laws of physics and chemistry, a fool's bargain.  It's time to end CAFE.

Something to watch

It appears that Clinton Foundation donations were down 37% this year as Mrs. Clinton ran for the Presidency, and it started to come out that there were an awful lot of big donations to the Foundation at about the same time that Mrs. Clinton had agreed to meet with people, or had even made regulatory decisions favorable to the donor.   What will be interesting will be to see whether donations continue to plummet now that the Clintons have no obvious means of granting favors anymore, or whether there is a reservoir of good will that will keep the foundation afloat.

If they continue to plummet, I'll consider that clear evidence that foundation donations were indeed "pay to play."  If not, obviously another set of considerations will be involved.

Side note: in a story that will make your heart cheery, a 70 year old woman beats up a would-be home invader.  It reminds me of the scene from The Princess Bride where the nearly immobile Wesley tells the tyrant prince Humperdinck that the battle will not be to the death, but "to the pain."  The man will live out his days knowing he got beat up by Grandma. 

Friday, November 18, 2016

Posted without comment

Why it may be important to prosecute protesters

Ever since the Civil Rights movement, it seems as if most protesters--even those who destroy private property and injure people--will get arrested, but will not be seriously prosecuted.  Well, if there is anything to allegations that Soros-funded groups are involved in bankrolling anti-Trump protests, police departments may want to rethink that. 

Now if you look at Gateway Pundit, you will (as I did) conclude that if that's all a prosecutor has, he's going to have trouble getting a conviction.  However, something interesting happens when you start indicting people for crimes--they start to talk and tell you how they got there with the goal of avoiding worse consequences.

It is worth noting as well that if indeed rich billionaires are funding protests on either side of the aisle, resulting in millions of dollars worth of damage, who better to sue than a billionaire like Soros?   I am guessing that arresting and seriously interrogating even a few dozen people involved in each protest would give us a good idea of whether the protests were "grass roots", or whether they were manufactured. 

Looking at the signs many are carrying--coming off large presses like a Heidelberg--I would dare suggest that someone with deep pockets is indeed coordinating these things.  Now I'm as strong a believer in the First Amendment as anyone, but when one starts to burn vehicles, block highways, and destroy buildings, one has crossed a line to where the Constitution doesn't protect you anymore.

On the virtue of infrastructure spending

Powerline links a study noting that when it comes to infrastructure spending, it matters whether you've got a reasonable ROI estimate.  As everybody who has ever run a business outside of the Beltway responds:  "duh".  But apparently it's too tough for people inside the Beltway--full or part time--to get this one. 

Thursday, November 17, 2016

What's at stake with transgender rights...

....may be becoming clearer with this story out of St. Louis County, Minnesota, where it appears that a young man desiring to "transition" into a "woman" is being aided by county social and education workers, and is opposed by his own mother.  I suspect, moreover, that this is the same young man who was caught twerking to a rather vile rap song in the girls' locker room, among other things.  Either that, or Virginia, MN, has a rather significant portion of transgender students for a city of less than 9000.

What do we learn here?  First of all, it is the mother of the child suing, not the parents, indicating Mom & Dad are divorced or never got married--the initials given for the child may indicate "never married", but that's not certain due to anonymity requirements in court documents for minors.

Next, we learn that apparently school and county officials felt comfortable claiming to terminate parental rights without so much as a hearing or court order, and they are giving the child what is described as "narcotics", not just apparently hormonal treatments--unless the lawyers are in serious error here.  The use of the word "narcotics" may also indicate some very serious emotional/mental disturbances on the part of the young man.

In other words, it does appear that the issue of transgender rights is becoming a platform for county social services and education workers to impart their view of the world on others--and who cares what it does to the mother, fellow students, or for that matter the kid himself.  And if indeed the young man is receiving narcotics in addition to hormone treatments, it would see that yes, the county may be slowly killing him for the sake of their worldview.

...and for the evangelicals

About 15 years back, I had the privilege of reading The Coming Evangelical Crisis, in which a number of evangelical scholars--among them many of the men described by the FBFI as "convergent"--noted then-current challenges in evangelical theology.  My pastor at the time noted that it was drift that was predictable given the origins of evangelicals.

Those origins, for the uninitiated, are more or less that after World War Two, many fundamentalists like Billy Graham started to move away from things like secondary separation (separating from those who refuse to separate from theological error) and the kind of cultural rules I mentioned in this post.  If you've been a part of a local nondemoninational church, you've been part of this movement, and if you have, one thing you'll note is that in practice, most evangelicals don't take that much advantage of the emancipation from cultural rules. 

What they did do, however, was to get their colleges accredited and start producing earned doctorates, more or less trying to keep the theological fundamentals while walking away from....let's face it, some public behavior and odd separation that had just gotten embarrassing. 

So what's the rub, one might ask?  Well, in my view, evangelicals got "accredited", but without learning the tools of self-defense from those in the academy who would take advantage of them, and the result is predictable.  Too many evangelicals are giving up not only the culture, but also the theology, and in their interactions with their fundamental brothers, they're still stuck in many of the same bad habits.  You'll see this quite a bit in the "worship wars" about music in the church.

The way out, and really for both warring parties, is really to follow the evangelicals, but to take the move back to the academy seriously enough to know that the people of the Word (logos) might do well to learn how to handle words in logic and rhetoric. 

In other words, we ought to return not to the academy of the modern era, but rather that of the Middle Ages and Renaissance.  You'll get the knack of "angels dancing on the head of a pin" soon enough.