Friday, December 18, 2015

Speaking of Chicago....

.....it appears that the gang members arrested after a horrible murder in Mississippi were members of gangs founded in Chicago.   Another account from Mississippi indicates that journalists were following leads assuming that those arrested were not Chicagoans, not Mississippians. 


I'd thought it was mostly just the Crips and Bloods practicing "evangelistic thuggery", and that mostly west of the Mississippi, but I guess I am wrong.  The question is whether the problem is the drug trade, or whether young men sent to the "safe south" by relatives in Chicago are bringing Chicago-style crime to their new home.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Picture of life in a one party town....

Courtesy Mr. Dilettante.   It's worth noting that Jane Byrne probably is the most responsible mayor they've had in the past half century, and she's famous mostly for living in Cabrini Green and preventing the Chicago Fire Department from murdering Dan Goodwin by washing him off the Hancock Center with fire hoses.


Why nobody ever got prosecuted for that one is beyond me--it's certainly attempted murder, and it illustrates how pervasive corruption is in the Windy City.  And prophetically, Goodwin, a.k.a. "Spider-man", was campaigning for improved firefighting techniques for skyscrapers.  Remembering 2001, he seems to have been rather prophetic.

Way too nice to Senator Markey

....was Dr. Judith Curry.  Now, watching the video, I will grant that she made a lot of good scientific points in responding to Sen. Markey, but given that Markey's position was more or less the basic logical error of "appeal to authority" or "appeal to popularity", I think she was far too gentle on him.  Here's how I would have responded:


Senator Markey, your question is a variant of the genetic fallacy called "appeal to authority", and as such it not only does not rise to the level of a compelling scientific argument, it also doesn't pass the basic logical tests that I was taught in elementary school as a way to recognize propaganda.  Now as a lawyer and Senator, you should be ashamed of yourself for using such an illogical line of thinking.


Speaking as someone who has learned a bit of the history of science myself, I would like to remind you that in 1884, Albert Michelson opened the Ryerson Physics laboratory by claiming that future discoveries in physics would be made in the sixth decimal place.  A couple of decades later, another Albert named "Einstein" shattered that idea.  Around the same time, the hypothesis of the luminiferous aether as a medium for light propagation was the consensus position, and before that, the consensus position was that fire had something to do with a substance called caloric. 


Obviously, scientific consensus has never defined truth and never will.  Now if you would like me to address the data and evidence, I shall be glad to do so, but I will require that you stop these illogical fantasies of a 97% consensus establishing truth.

Thursday, December 03, 2015

In honor?



...of President Obama having told Parisians that mass killings don't happen outside the United States, his claim that the recent atrocity in California might have been just workplace violence, and in honor of his opening of all combat roles to women before a single woman passed the Marine Combat Infantry Course, I figured that the detachment from reality of the President could be well described by this Jimi Hendrix classic. 




Either he's lost touch with reality, or maybe he needs to get himself to Sister Generose's building for something akin to narcissistic personality disorder, or maybe we were right back in 2008 when we warned that maybe, just maybe, we ought to take his associations with Jeremiah Wright, Bill Ayers, and a host of other radicals seriously. 


What color is the sun on your planet, Mr. President?  You're cordially invited back to reality.

Wednesday, December 02, 2015

Our war on ISIS?

According to Dick Morris, it appears that the reason that we haven't been bombing ISIS oil tankers is because the President wants to avoid environmental damage--as if a regional war doesn't amount to exactly that. 


Actually, it's worse than that.  Since the tankers are being driven into Turkey, Iraq, and Jordan for the oil to be refined, what we have is the Obama administration utterly failing to persuade the Turks and Iraqis to close the border to uncertified oil.  Here's a map of the approximate areas controlled by each group,   It wouldn't take that much effort to interrupt the flow of money to ISIS.


For reference, one would assume that preventing ISIS from getting its oil to market by closing borders would reduce the environmental impact even more.  This is a failure on the part of the President that makes his comments about mass shootings in Paris look positively intelligent in comparison. 


And given that we've only how given the OK to kill ISIS leaders, it's getting harder and harder to argue against the idea that we've actually been supporting them.  Certainly we've not been waging any serious war against them.

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

Why funding for Planned Parenthood matters

Lost in the debate over whether government funds ought to be given to Planned Parenthood is exactly what it achieves.  Proponents would argue that the large amount of prescriptions written for contraception, pap smears performed, and referrals for mammograms indicate that Planned Parenthood is not, indeed, all about abortion.


Let's look at the statistics, however.  Planned Parenthood's Guttmacher Institute estimates approximately 1800 abortionists in 2008, 38% fewer than in 1995.  The same source notes that a 1st trimester abortion cost about $470 in 2009, and it's well known that not too many abortionists do second and third trimester infanticides.


So what we have, more or less, is revenue of about half a billion dollars (maybe twice that including 2nd and third trimester abortions) spread among close to 2000 abortionists; somewhere between $200k to $500k per abortionist.  After you subtract the costs for buildings, staff, and the like, that's  not much left for the average gynecologist's $250k salary.  Averaged for medicine in general, your doctor takes 10% or less of your medical bills--so the cash flow for abortion is in a really bad place. 


We would infer that the median abortionist would need a second job in order to make ends meet; after taxes, school debt, and the like, they often will not have the option to take a lower wage to be "charitable".   That runs into a problem; an awful lot of people, even those who aren't particularly pro-life, don't want to patronize doctors or even clinics or hospitals that provide abortions.   So doctors who perform abortions find their career options limited, especially outside of large metropolitan areas.


That problem is solved as Planned Parenthood gets subsidies to provide care to the poor, who do not have a choice in where they get care.  If we assume the three hundred thousand abortions committed annually by Planned Parenthood are paid at the ordinary rate, that's somewhere around a quarter billion dollars for 500 doctors--again, that doesn't pay the bills.  Have them do a lot of contraception, pap smears, and the like and add in another half billion dollars (plus state subsidies and the like), and the business proposition makes a lot more sense.


In other words, government subsidies are about the only thing that keeps abortion available outside of large metropolitan areas. 

The apparent state of climatology

Prominent among those attending this week's climate change summit is John Koskinen, head of the Internal Revenue Service.  Mr. Koskinen has even doubled down on his devotion to saving the planet by accumulating $5400 in limousine fees.


My friend Mr. Dilettante notes that he'll start believing in the majority theory when they start doing their meetings via Skype, and I tend to agree.  But that said, it seems that we have an even more basic criterion; we can start taking the global warming hypothesis seriously when attendees are actually drawn from the pool of people able to significantly contribute to the discussion.  My hunch is that Mr. Koskinen has even less expertise in climatology than he does on the ethics of tax collection--which is of course saying something.


Unless, of course, the point is his feedback on how to implement a carbon tax, that presumably without the consent of Congress.  Which is, really, probably the point; control of the energy supply.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

A Better Bridge than Duluth: part 4


I’ve been going through the Duluth Power and Control Model for a few posts, and given that the hypothesis of patriarchy being the major or primary cause is not remotely defensible, we really ought to develop a tenable hypothesis. 

Let’s try Romans 3:23; we are all sinners, and hence we will do cruel things (insults, physical violence, sexual violence, etc..) when we have some justification (authority in church, politics, or elsewhere, mental illness, lack of conscience) and we think we can get away with it.  We know from Scripture—Moses and the foreman, David with Bathsheba and Uriah, Peter regarding the Gentiles, etc..)—that believers also can fall into this trap when our consciences do not prevent us.

In recognizing this, we instantly reject a few claims of Christian proponents of the Duluth Model: that the accused is not a Christian, that he is not entitled to the Matthew 18 process, and that repentance is difficult to impossible.  The Bible’s treatment of Moses, David, Peter, Paul and others refutes this.

(side note; I hope that people who assume the accusation is proof of guilt never get into a jury box!)

Rather, we must assume that repentance is probable for the believer confronted per Matthew 18—and even the unbeliever.  The purpose of church discipline is not bludgeoning, but rather restoration—see 2 Corinthians 2’s treatment of the man caught with his father’s wife. 

So if we have a case that I’ve seen—say the physically abused wife, or the wife of a man ensnared by pornography, alcohol and drugs who appears to have at least dated other women—why would we refuse to apply principles like 1 Peter 3:7 and Colossians 3:19 to that case?  At best, we win a man to Christ or restore him to fellowship—at worst, we are where we started, needing to make tough decisions about how to keep the rest of the family safe.    Either way, the woman can be freed from the abuse, and most likely the marriage.

For those not in the church, freedom from the Duluth Model means that we can finally differentiate between abuse cases rooted in patriarchal beliefs (of which I’ve seen at least one, to be fair) from those with other causes, and finally start dealing with what’s really going on in probably the majority of abuse cases.  We cannot implement Matthew 18:15-19 as a rule for secular cases, but we can implement our description of abuse in terms of opportunity, justification, expression to better fit the real data.

Now this is cool

One thing I noted when my great aunt was dealing with dementia (we believe Alzheimer's but we're not sure) was that she would pick at the "nutritious" food, but would make multiple trips to the dessert table.  Given that one of the consequences of dementia can be drastic weight loss due to forgetting to eat, it struck me that it might be possible that more flavorful food might be a God-send to dementia patients.  My mom's cousin, who cared for my great aunt, thought there was something to it.

Fast forward to today, and it turns out that some native American nursing homes are starting to serve traditional foods to the acclaim of the residents.  Hopefully this trend spreads not only among native americans, but also for the rest of us.  Perhaps one of the keys to taking care of the old lies not in the medical suite, but in the kitchen--I would dare suggest specifically in the spice cabinet.

And I've got to admit that I'd like to try musk ox stew sometime. 

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Yes, black lives matter....

.....and that's why you want to support the police, as five people protesting a recent police shooting recently learned in Minneapolis.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Liberal logic

Among the politically correct, apparently it's wrong for a racist like Woodrow Wilson to be honored, but it's A-OK to honor a murderer of hundreds and architect of the Cuban police state, Che Guevara.

I guess it shouldn't surprise me, as I knew already that they were pretty uniformly in favor of Planned Parenthood, but yeesh....

Friday, November 20, 2015

Horst Wessel, call your office....

.....a school district in Huntington Beach, California, has insisted that children learn and sing a "Muslim Fight Song".  Not only is that a nasty breach of the students' 1st Amendment freedoms not to be compelled to a given religion, and not only is this pretty close to forcing kids to recite the first pillar of Islam, Shahada, but it's pretty pathetically bad, almost as bad as the Horst Wessel Lied.

Why is it that my family homeschools again?

Thursday, November 19, 2015

The Duluth Model, Part 3: Divorce Statistics

Let’s examine the power wheel of the Duluth Model in light of the known fact that about two thirds of divorces are initiated by women, and women retain custody of the children in the vast majority of those divorces—as well as in the divorces initiated by husbands.

Does the wife who threatens divorce make a threat—to leave, specifically?  Does the wife who threatens divorce take money that is earned by the husband?  If indeed working women earn only 77 cents for each dollar earned by men, as feminists note, that is exactly the case in any 50/50 split of assets.  Add into that “child support”, and we are talking some serious money.  Would we assume that a certain portion of prospective divorcees hide or dispose of assets to keep them from a spouse?  You bet—I can name names.

Does the divorce-minded or control-minded woman seek to make all the big decisions, or act as the master of the castle?  Does she start to define roles?  Of course.  Will she use access to the children to manipulate her man?  Unless she files for joint custody, this must be the assumption.

Must we not assume that those who file divorce are likely to blame the other instead of themselves?  Again, I can name names.  Would we guess that some spouses of both sexes seek to isolate their spouses from friends with the threat of ending the relationship?  Is it not likely that a great portion of divorce filers belittle their spouses?  I certainly can name names.  Do they use intimidation tactics—say a restraining order or threat of legal action—to get what they want?  Absolutely—it’s proverbial among family lawyers, really.  And what are divorce papers, if not a form of legal intimidation?

The observant reader is going to notice that I have taken a quick walk around the Duluth Power and Control Wheel, and in doing so it would appear that the vast majority of women who file for divorce-about a third of women or so—would qualify under the Duluth Model as abusers.  Add to that women who have used family court for non-marital relationships (e.g. child support and all), as well as men, and we quickly arrive at the conclusion that the majority of adults are abusive.

So is this an anomaly, or is it what is common to man?   Given that a huge portion of women qualify as abusers under the Duluth Model, we can safely discard the patriarchy hypothesis, exactly as we should have when we found that 30-40% of domestic violence arrests were of women.  Yes, the conviction rates are lower, but maybe that has more to do with reluctance to convict women and the marks left, or not left, in altercations.
 
Maybe it's time to figure out a better model that actually works with the data we have.  To use pictures from my profession, we've only gotten to the "measure" portion of the Six Sigma DMAIC model, or the "I" of the IDOV model, or the second step of any 8D method, before finding that the operating hypothesis was hopelessly flawed.

Monday, November 16, 2015

It boggles the mind

According to Fox News, fuel trucks and convoys of ISIS were previously "off limits" to U.S. attacks.  Lessee....we have an enemy that uses mechanization to go across large expanses of land to attack innocents, and we had to let over a hundred people die in Paris before we could even go after their fuel trucks and oil refineries

Seriously?  When a huge part of winning the Civil War, World War One, and World War Two was due to effective blockades of the enemy, we couldn't even go after the supplies of ISIS?  

Friday, November 13, 2015

In honor of college hissy fits

Well, that's what I'll call them because, after all, this IS a family friendly blog.  Mr. D. comments on the horrific, unspeakable evil of white people dressing up as if they were Hispanic for Halloween.  Or as a "sexy Hester Prynne" on the left, I guess.  Obviously, don't read my blog or Mark's aloud to your kids, because they'll be wearing their bedsheets and burning crosses in the front lawn if you do.  Fer sure. 

Or, quite possibly, just like kids who grew up listening to Weird Al's parodies of Michael Jackson, they might just grow up to be normal, well adjusted adults who actually have a sense of proportion. 

But for those of you throwing the hissy fits and demanding the ouster of your professors and university presidents for no particular reason, here you go.

 
 
And for extra credit, rent "Blazing Saddles", of course.  And you guys throwing the hissy fits need all the extra credit you can get.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Blessings for Armistice Day


Ever since I learned that Armistice Day was originally about gratitude for the end of hostilities in the "Great War", I've been reluctant to treat "Veterans Day" as just another patriotic holiday where we thank those who have served.  Let's remember it as it started.

About that "swastika"

Powerline does a nice job pointing out that the "evidence" for a fecal swastika is, to put it mildly, some pretty thin gruel.  There are no pictures, no samples taken, and it was claimed to have been found at 2am on a Saturday morning, suggesting that if it actually existed, alcohol may have been more involved than racism.

Plus, if they'd decided it was racism, pretty odd that they didn't keep a sample.  You can track who "donated" it by DNA, and even if you didn't find the perpetrator (to punish for a threat to public health if nothing else), you could easily figure out what race he was from his DNA. 

And of course, there are all kinds of questions about why one would neglect such an obvious way of figuring things out.  It's almost as if there was a narrative going on that was more important than actual justice.  I can't prove it, but I have to wonder if this whole deal is a coup d'├ętat and not a real set of racial incidents (though one use of ethnic slurs has apparently been corroborated now).

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Celebrating "Offend a College Student Day"

Thanks to IowaHawk for the tip.  My humble contribution:  Go Cougars!  A college dropout and an education major outwrite anyone at your J-school, kittens.  And if your major has the word "studies" in it, don't worry; I'll put a nice tip when you deliver my pizza. 

Seriously, it boggles the mind that the protests over racial slurs are bigger news in Columbia than the fact that someone's being murdered (generally a young black person) every other day in St. Louis, with another hundred or so annually in Kansas City.  I would have thought that the prospect of bullets would be more intimidating than insults, but apparently not everyone thinks like I do.

Legitimate protest, or coup d'etat?

I've been watching the issues around the University of Missouri, and it strikes me that four alleged racial incidents, only one of them plausibly criminal and none of them corroborated by independent evidence, is awfully thin gruel for proving a "culture of racism", let alone adding a very significant infrastructure of "mandatory diversity" demanded by the protesters.  This is especially true when I consider that the same protesters are actively preventing reporters from covering their protests.

Now this would be odd in most cases, as the point of a protest is to get media attention.  But if you've got the coverage you want and don't want people looking too closely at what you're doing--say it's not a response to real racism but rather a publicity stunt designed to get your way and set up that mandatory diversity Politburo--then it makes a lot of sense.

At any rate, what is clear is that two faculty members involved in preventing a reporter from doing his job need to "leave Mizzou to pursue other opportunities."  Another thing that is clear is that Tim Tai needs to be on the short list for hiring at the AP, Reuters, Fox, and the New York Times.  He's got the guts that are all too often missing in today's journalists.

No defense of racial slurs or putting excrement anywhere but in the toilet from me, but we have cross examination of claims for a reason.

Monday, November 09, 2015

About that global warming study

Apparently global warming experts think that increasing temperatures are going to have a nasty deleterious effect on our sex lives--that when things get above eighty degrees, libidos just plunge.  Now apart from the reality that not to many people go to Ely for their honeymoons in February, but rather backwater places like "Jamaica" and such, I've got to simply note that two of my six children were born in February, and another was born in early May.  Do the math. 

Thursday, November 05, 2015

A linguistic thought on Old Testament music

I have learned recently about a breathtaking view of "good music" by Bill Gothard; that if it is in common or 4/4 time, emphasis ought to be on the first and third beats of each measure, with particular emphasis on the first.  He further noted, with no particular evidence, Biblical or otherwise, that "offbeat" emphasis on the 2nd and 4th count of common time (or a basic polka beat) was the common tactic of modern music.

My first thought was that a lot of the music I grew up listening to follows the pattern Gothard recommends, including this IBLP-friendly song featuring a musician who performs in a coat and tie, and he's honoring his childhood school with the choice of outfit.  What a nice young man--turns out he's a teetotaler and a family man, too.  Notice that the lead singer also is wearing a hat--how nice!  Let's sign them up for special music this Sunday, no? 

 

Seriously, a look at the Hebrew language might say something a little bit more edifying than bringing up my misspent youth and my obvious mockery.  Specifically, classical Hebrew tends to stress the final syllable of each word, and if we take a look at, say, Psalm 1, we will find that two-syllable words are very prevalent to start a line in Hebrew poetry. 
 
In other words, the very structure of the Hebrew language lends itself to an off-beat musical structure like this.
 

Which is exactly what anyone familiar with traditional Jewish music would have told you to begin with.

VW fails high school chemistry?

Apparently, a new scandal is breaking out at Volkswagen: they have understated carbon dioxide emissions for eight hundred thousand cars.  This isn't much like the nitrogen oxide emissions scandal, where there at least was software modifying the engine's operation to reduce emissions--there was at least some cleverness in that case.

In this case, we have a simple equation; minus soot, unburned fuel, and carbon monoxide (all of which are minimized in a well designed modern engine), one gallon of gasoline has about five pounds of carbon which are changed into a bit above 18 pounds of carbon dioxide.

So if you've got a reasonable estimate of mileage, you can get pretty close to the actual carbon dioxide emissions simply as 18/MPG pounds of carbon dioxide per mile.  Diesel, maybe 20/MPG pounds /mile.  So what we have here is that not only did VW's engineers fail to make this simple calculation, but so did the EPA, European regulators, Asian regulators, environmental groups, car magazines, and more.

It's a breathtaking mistake on the part of a bunch of people, really.

Monday, November 02, 2015

The Duluth Model Part 2: Power and control wheel

For reference, take a gander at the "Power and Control Wheel" showed by proponents of the Duluth Model. 

OK, for starters, note that the wheel always assumes that the perpetrator is male and the victim is female; this is, of course, the basic logical fallacy of begging the question.  Here are the BJS statistics on the matter; suffice it to say that it's not just male on female violence in marriage, to put it mildly. 

But apart from this, another problem is that power and control is presented as the problem, and not as a tool used by people who sin.  Reality is, however, that most of the behaviors are only sinful in light of the motivation.  For example, "give an allowance" is just another term for "setting a budget".  So what we have here is, in part, a list of benign and malign behaviors that will be interpreted uniformly as malign--leading Duluth victims (enthusiasts?) to jettison otherwise worthwhile relationships.

And having abandoned their first love, are they going to find another husband?  Statistically, no; they end up in unwed heterosexual or homosexual relationships, the most likely place for domestic abuse.

In other words, it is likely that the continued of the Duluth model may actually be increasing domestic violence versus what it would otherwise be.  Having seen domestic violence up close, I'm glad that we're punishing it, but we really would do well to take a close look at what we're doing after the arrest.

Friday, October 30, 2015

More on the Hilliary email scandals

Probably the best part of Hilliary Clinton's recent testimony before Congress was where it was revealed that even as the Benghazi tragedy/atrocity was occurring, she was sending emails to her family stating that she knew it was not a response to a video, but rather a preplanned attack by elements of Al Qaida.

Now think about this one for a minute; news reports had not come out with any reliable data.  The only way Hilliary could have stated this was would be to reference CIA and other intelligence sources on the ground there--and this would be "born classified" information, and she would know it.

Bill and Chelsea, not working for the government, presumably do not have security clearances.  So Hilliary is, by her own testimony, guilty not just of mishandling classified information, but also guilty of sharing it with people not entitled to receive it.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Domestic abuse and the Duluth Model, part 1: Patriarchy

Chris in NZ pointed me to some interesting things about our system of dealing with domestic violence; it is predicated in great part on something called the Duluth Model.  This model, in a nutshell, states that domestic violence results primarily from "patriarchal ideology in which men are encouraged and expected to control their partners", and proposes a "Power and Control Wheel" to illustrate the issue and help coach men and women to avoid these behaviors. 

Now let's take a look at the basic premiss; that patriarchy, loosely defined as a social system in which men predominate in positions of authority in politics, religion, and property.  The Duluth model appears to invoke a strict view of patriarchy as one where men enforce the hierarchy--though skeptics might point out that those formulating the Duluth model do appear to have conflated the "loose" and "strict" definitions of patriarchy.

That said, let's take them at their word and test it with a couple of hypotheses.  If, indeed, domestic violence results from men thinking they "need" to impose this control, then we should be able to statistically measure this.  In our country, however, talking about "keeping women in line" is largely a joke--there are fringes who believe this, but reality is that such attitudes became gauche decades ago.

Moreover, if patriarchy is the root cause of domestic violence, we should also expect that it should be virtually nonexistent among women, lesbians, and male homosexuals; we find that the opposite is true.  It's actually more common among male and female homosexuals, and almost as common among women as it is among men.   Moreover, it's been found that domestic violence is higher among unwed couples than it is among the married.

So if indeed "patriarchy" is even a significant cause for domestic violence, it's not exclusive, and it may not even be #1 or #2 on the Pareto.   So by the "GIGO" (garbage in, garbage out) principle, the Duluth Model looks to be in trouble.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

An exhortation, a WHAT?, and some good news

First of all, a New York EMT has been suspended without pay for attempting to clear the airway of a choking girl without a call being issued.  Shame on Assist Ambulance for this moronic decision, kudos to Qwasi Reid for recognizing where company policy's authority ended and basic humanity began.  Condolences as well to the family of the girl he tried to help, who is on life support and apparently brain dead.

And for crying out loud, if you haven't already, learn how to recognize choking and perform the Heimlich maneuverIt's a dismal shame that nobody at that elementary school appears to have even tried.  (don't they require first aid training for a lot of teachers and such?  I really don't get that part)

In other news, a group lead by Bombardier is claiming that they'll have a "scram-jet" ready to fly people from London to New York in half an hour--remembering my high school physics, I'm calculating an average acceleration/deceleration of over half a g--19.55'/s^2, to be precise.  For comparison's sake, imagine 15 minutes of hard acceleration  (akin to that of a Corvette) followed by 15 minutes of equally hard deceleration (akin to hard braking in a car).  Hint; if you ride, eat light and avoid spices and fat.  I think I'll be happy to ride something more sedate, personally.

Finally, some good news; a man threatening to sing Justin Bieber songs to kids has been rightly arrested.  The sad news, of course, is that it wasn't Bieber himself.

(seriously, it appears that drugs and perhaps mental illness were involved--pray for the man to find the help he needs)

U.S. Government at its, um, best

Part of the Heimatssicherheitsdienst (Department of Homeland Security, but it works better in the original German) apparently not only has more SUVs than officers, but is also leasing them, and all in the name of protecting federal buildings.  Call me weird, but isn't the point of an SUV, especially the Suburbans that the federal government loves, that it will carry more than one person, and doesn't one usually protect a building.....at the building site?  Given that a Suburban will carry four people and their gear very comfortably, and given that most building guards don't need to drive around to begin with, I'm thinking they've got about four times as many vehicles as they need at least.  Maybe ten times as many, really.

Plus, they need to remember what Dave Ramsey says about vehicle leases, and that with modifications needed and some fairly rough usage, the HSD/DHS is probably one of the worst candidates for vehicle leases out there outside of the DOD.

Iranian Engineering at its best?

Apparently, a four billion dollar, three mile long tunnel built by the Iranians in Tajikistan is plagued by potholes, water infiltration, and a lack of ventilation.  So maybe one consolation with the horrible deal President Obama made with Iran is that many of their engineers just aren't that good.

For contrast, the "Chunnel" between Dover and Calais obviously has an even worse water risk (the English Channel of course), is about ten times as long, is adequately ventilated with room for multiple lanes of traffic and trains, and only cost about twice as much to build.   It even has adequate lighting.  And, of course, the laborers working on the "Chunnel" were being paid European wages, and I'd wager a nickel or two those working on Anzob were not.

Is the altitude the issue?  Well, in the videos, I still see trees, which means the tunnel is not above tree line.  It was no more challenging, really, than Colorado's Eisenhower Tunnel.  So with a bit of luck, the state of Iranian engineering (civil engineering at least) is somewhat less advanced than that of the United States 40 years ago, at best. 

And that's probably being nice, since we built the Moffat Tunnel through the Rockies in 1928.   Let's hope and pray that Iranian physicists and nuclear engineers also have abilities that parallel those of that era for obvious reasons.   Maybe we should even tell them, as a certain Austrian corporal noted, that the physics involved are "Jewish"?   They might not proceed if they know that.

Monday, October 26, 2015

A truly impressive investigation

Yes, I'm of course talking about the Obama "investigation" into the antics of the IRS, which (Lois Lerner) flat out admitted using political affiliation as a proxy for enhanced scrutiny.  It was, according to the DOJ, evidence of mismanagement, but not a crime.

Of course, they're not going to tell us what kinds of corrective actions were performed to prevent it happening again....because quite frankly, the results of this "mismanagement" were awfully convenient to Mr. Obama, keeping some of his political opponents on the sidelines in 2012 and 2014. 

Now let's ignore Lois Lerner's obvious perjury before Congress when asked about the matter in 2012, when she stated point blank that nothing of the sort happened.  Let's ignore, for the moment, egregious violations of FOIA provisions and destruction of evidence--yes, both are prosecutable crimes.  Let's ignore emails not backed up, the whole nine yards.

Rather, in one article I read, it was noted that they'd done over 100 interviews and reviewed over a million documents.  It sounds impressive, but....let's be real here.  All this means is they did an interview each week of the investigation (don't overwork yourselves, boys!) and reviewed what is a fairly small number of documents considering the extent of what plaintiffs like the ACLJ are alleging and documenting.   Even the number of emails sent and received by the IRS employees directly involved would likely exceed this number.

For comparison, if one follows this case of a tragic drug overdose, you'll be able to infer that the NYPD interviewed most of the residents of the building where the body was found, family and neighbors, friends, and others at the bars the deceased went to.  I would also guess that emails and other communication were also taken as evidence--if only to possibly put drug dealers behind bars.  So what the IRS took two years to do, the NYPD did in two days or so.

In other words, the very numbers presented by the DOJ indicate that the investigation was halfhearted at best, not following up on obvious leads, parallel sources, and the like.  This also explains why we don't see  any protest resignations; the investigation was probably only a part time project for a few people.  Being politically trustworthy--like the ones I anticipate will be used to investigate Hilliary Clinton's abuse of confidential information--they could keep it all hush-hush.

Profiles in bad management

One thing that really catches my eye about the Congressional interrogation of Hilliary Clinton is that apparently the Benghazi consulate asked for greater security no less than 600 times, but she claimed that the matter never reached her desk.

Now, of course, it's likely that when the Russians and Chinese release Hilliary's emails to the world, we're going to find that she indeed did hear about the matter, but let's take her at her word and assume this is in fact true.  The State Department got no less than 600 requests, and not one of them got elevated beyond the people who were denying them.  Never did the requester decide to go above the heads of the security professionals.

This indicates a huge issue in the State Department--people appear to be very able to keep unpolitic realities at bay there for huge amounts of time.  To draw a picture, when I had colleagues at a former employer with a plan that would gut reliability testing, I did eventually bring people in at the VP level regarding the matter--and the offenders quickly left the company.  If indeed this does not happen at the State Department, there is a reason--most likely that if you go above peoples' heads, retribution will be swift, severe, and even career-ending.

It's a bummer that we don't have independent auditors who could take a serious look at the culture there to see what's really going on.  It would appear that there is some evidence that our government has a culture that could get a lot more than just four Americans killed, to put it mildly.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

A woman with some spunk

.....is a woman who, when a man threatened to kill her and tried to give her a French kiss ( huh?), bit his tongue off.   Well done, and I hope you recover from your trauma soon, fair lady.

Maybe this will put the kibosh on rapists forcing their victims to perform oral sex?

Illustrating an old lawyer's adage

It is said that old time--and maybe modern--lawyers have a profound adage:

If the law is on your side, pound the law.  If the facts are on your side, pound the facts.  If neither, pound the table.

Looks like Hilliary is pounding the table in her approach to the hearings about her actions regarding Benghazi.   Looks like a great opportunity to put her under oath and catch her in some obvious perjury.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Thanks, Mr. Harbaugh

Your decision to have Bill Buckner give some tips to your punter really paid off!  Go Green!



Thursday, October 15, 2015

Point well taken.....

I was going to write a post pointing out how Joel Osteen's prosperity theology hardly qualifies him as a minister of the Gospel, and that if your best life is now, you're on the highway to Hell, but then he up and tells us that we shouldn't debate people who aren't Christian.

Well, there you go.  You're off the hook, Joel.   With me, if not with God.

Musing on immigration detainers....

In a recent article in the local paper, a number of local sheriffs noted that they are refusing to honor detainers issued by ICE because it would require them to detain them longer than their given sentence, and that would be a violation of their rights.

And you know, as much as I want our government to show the door to criminal immigrants (legal or illegal), I've got to respect that.  It is in effect an unlawful extension of their sentence.  But that said, let's ask a simple question.

With only 340 sanctuary cities (about ten of them within 30 miles of my home and probably another dozen within 100 miles of my home), exactly what prevents ICE from, say, showing up to apprehend them on the scheduled day of their release?  A quick look at the locations of sanctuary cities seems to indicate that about a dozen teams of ICE agents with a van of bus could apprehend almost all of the 9000 or so criminal illegal immigrants that sanctuary cities release each year and make sanctuary cities, counties, and states really a moot point.

Do we have an immigration crisis, a sanctuary city crisis, or simply a lack of clear thinking in Washington, DC?

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

We're Number One!

The United States apparently tops the world for obesity, according to the OECD.   Booyah!

Sad to say, my kids are not doing their part to help their native land in this vitally important statistic, and they've even been known to favor broccoli over donuts, and have even been known to tell this highly insensitive joke their father taught them:

Q.  What's the difference between a Wal-Mart and a Target shopper?

A.  About 50 pounds.

Seriously, as one who struggles a touch with weight myself, I get how hard things can be in this country--corn subsidies make high calorie foods cheaper, and even without those, too much of our food is made palatable not by skill, but rather by the insertion of large amounts of fat, sugar, and salt.  Want a cure?  I can't recommend anything more highly than the Mayo Clinic Diet.  Here are some of the results for me--it's certainly not easy, but suffice it to say that its results for me are that my lipids and weight have improved to a point generally achieved by statins.  If you pay attention to your numbers--weight, fat %, lipids, blood pressure, etc.--you can take the steps to avoid or mitigate heart disease, diabetes, back/hip/knee problems, and other things associated with excessive weight and poor diet.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Speaking of lumberjacks.....

.....apparently "Jihadi John" likes to do the tango with captive men.  Not that there's anything wrong or weird about that, of course, but somehow it brings this to mind.

Friday, October 09, 2015

Now this is interesting

Captain Capitalism does a little bit of digging, and has apparently found some Census Bureau data which indicates that there are about 17 million more mothers in our country than fathers.  Let's assume that the data are relatively correct (not a given, but let's go with it), and do a little bit of math. 

Given an overall rate of about 30-40% for single parenting, this would indicate that the average single mom has children by two different fathers.  Now I would guess this means that a good portion (let's say half) have children by one father, maybe a quarter by two, and the rest have children by three or more fathers, and it is interesting that the same Census reports indicate that about half of single mothers report that the fathers of their children are delinquent on child support payments.

I am going to walk this one back a bit.  This data merely means that some portion of men are fathering children by more than one woman.  While I know a fair number of single moms with children by more than one father, I can't demonstrate this statistically from the numbers here.  So I retract that part.  What is striking here is that, minus women left widowed and such, a fair number of women are in effect sharing the affections of their men with other women.

We could still infer, however, that with many women in effect "sharing" men, that those men would have difficulty making child support payments to multiple women, if they were even requested, and that as such it is no surprise that about half of single mothers report the fathers of their children are delinquent on child support payments.

I would also guess that they're more likely to receive welfare benefits, and fatherless children are also far more likely to commit crimes.  At a cost of over a trillion dollars annually, maybe it's time to tell guys making child support payments to multiple women to learn what a bag of frozen peas is for. 

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Protesting the obvious....

...are a group of vocal parents in Fort Mill, South Carolina, who are apparently unaware that it is generally the young ladies who bare large portions of their torsos during school dances and at other functions.  Perhaps they've never gone to the mall, or church, or a school function, or elsewhere where teens are to be found?

No, folks, it's not sexism, but rather reality.  Young ladies know that putting themselves on display will get attention from young men; young men know that doing the same know that they will tend to get the disdain of both sexes. 

Maybe that will change over time, but I've got the crazy idea that we ought to design our policies around reality.

Brilliant example of appeal to authority fallacy...

......in this brilliant bit of cross examination by Senator Ted Cruz of Aaron Mair, the head of the Sierra Club, who repeatedly responds to questions of whether the Sierra Club would retract his testimony upon presentation of contrary evidence (like satellite temperature measurements of the last 18 years) by noting that he "agrees with 97% of scientists."

Sorry, Sierra Club, and sorry, Mr. Mair, but we have a phrase in my profession:  "In God we Trust; all others must provide data."  If you appeal to authority, you are ipso facto not appealing to science.  The weakness of climatology research is demonstrated in tactics like this.

Please, please, please don't do this

It appears that a growing number of marriage therapists are bent on introducing one of Deming's seven deadly diseases of management--number three to be specific--to the marriage relationship.  Yes, they are really advocating that couples have an annual performance review.

One would think that they were paid off by divorce lawyers to recommend this, as in work life, the performance review is at best a nonissue--the manager has communicated his views and feedback to the employee already, so it introduces no new information besides the size of the raise, if that.

At worst, the manager does introduce new information to the employee, and since the manager has waited an average of nine months to give this feedback, it is outdated and invariably negative.  Who waits to give positive feedback, after all?  Attaboys and Attagirls do not cause confrontations.  And in many cases, since the manager has waited a long time to give feedback, the information is false--there have been a couple of cases where I felt downright slanderous.

It also strikes me that, while I do hold to the Biblical doctrine of headship, even the most submissive wives are going to get a touch grouchy (to put it mildly) at being treated as an employee. 

So if you want to have a better marriage, don't do this, but rather simply make a practice of routine self-evaluation and asking your spouse how things are going.  Waiting months to give negative feedback is simply a great way of getting divorce papers served.

But on the bright side, the psychologists are choosing only one deadly disease, which is better than the city of New York can say.  They're encouraging promiscuous Gothamites to get IUDs, which of course exposes them to far more than seven deadly diseases.  #50 Shades of Stupid.

Monday, October 05, 2015

Sigh

Apparently, Doug Wilson has gotten himself into (yet another) kerfuffle by making the horrible observation that Christian women are prettier, and then defending that wild claim.  Because, of course, it must be a sin to notice that a woman (or man) is attractive, which is why Christ explicitly condemns the Holy Spirit for noticing that Rachel and David (and a bunch of others) were attractive.

Um, wait, not in my Bible.  No, our Lord does not do this.  So wait a minute on this one; if God Himself can notice that a person is attractive without sinning (and of course that's the case), exactly why would we say that a person cannot do the same?  It is as if we've forgotten the difference between a smile and a leer. 

Now there may be great reason not to verbalize the fact that many of our sisters in church are very pretty in some cases--our current culture being about 100 of those reasons--but if we outright say there's something wrong with noticing, we're really coming close to saying something about our Counselor that we really ought not say.  And the Bible does say something about that.

And what's even more humiliating?

Easy.  The debate team from Harvard, a fine private university, were caught off guard by the argument that private schools might do a better job than public schools in educating students.  Um, and you were going to Harvard and not the University of Southern North Dakota at Hoople exactly why?  Because you wanted to throw away enough to buy a nice new SUV each year?

Apparently they did, for all the good paying all that tuition appears to be doing them.

Friday, October 02, 2015

What's more humiliating....

....than finding out your nation's national women's soccer team is half men, as Iranian fans appear to be learning now?

Finding out your nation's women's soccer team is half men, and still couldn't  get any medals at the Olympics or even get into the women's World Cup.  But who can blame them?  They really wanted to be....lumberjacks, of course.

What happens when you intimidate the police?

Just ask the residents of St. Louis, which this year overtook Detroit as the nation's murder capital. 

Yes, let's change the gun laws....

Predictably, President Obama has responded to the atrocity in Oregon by asking for a change in gun laws.  Now this may come as a surprise to readers here, but I'm all for it.  Let's change the gun laws.

We can start by requiring public colleges to allow carry permit holders to carry on campus, so that there is at least a chance of someone shooting back.  This is yet another atrocity that has occurred in a so-called "gun free zone". 

(probably not what the President was thinking of, but it would be a great start)

Along these lines, when I was in carry permit class, I wondered whether a victim of such a crime (or his estate) might someday sue because he was compelled to be unarmed in such a situation.  Now for the private sector, this kind of lawsuit probably won't fly because it can be assumed that the person has consented to that arrangement and has other reasonable options.

For colleges, however, public colleges are more or less the main gateway to a better life for a majority of the middle class and poor, and one can argue that one is more or less compelled to either take the deal or work retail or basic labor for all of one's life.  Hence I think that in the right setting, a good lawyer might be able to make that case.

And I hope one does.  Too many people have died because they and their neighbors were denied the right to self-defense.

Thursday, October 01, 2015

Georgia and Denmark

Update; the 103 year old woman who was forced out of the church her family helped to found is now going back, as the "Holiness" pastor with whom she disagreed has left.  Regrettably, he's leaving to found a new church and does not appear to have even seriously discussed the issue of whether holiness methods are appropriate in a Baptist church.  My take--as a person who is convinced of Baptist distinctives but who shudders at a lot of the externally imposed rules we like (a trait shared with many holiness churches)--is that while I and my Baptist brethren often could use a shock from the cattle prod to get our hands out of our pockets and our feet un-nailed to the floor, there is yet another way to get there besides the holiness movement.

I've been, and remain, interested in the pietist movement and is founder, Philip Jakob Spener (and even own the Torah and History of the Berlenburger Bibel), but I think that things have gone to a point that neither Spener nor Scripture recommend.  And I grieve for the situation this woman finds herself in.  All too often, we seem to think that an acrimonious church split is our signal that we have the character and wisdom it takes to found a new church.  (Hello?  Is anyone in there?)

In other news, a Danish travel agency is offering would-be grandmothers the chance to buy a vacation for their childless children on the idea that if they can only get them on a beach with their loved one, that nature will take its course and grandchildren will result--making grandmothers joyful and Denmark prosperous.

But yes, party-pooper that I am, I have to be reminded that I seem to remember that Scandinavians seem to have had higher birth rates prior to the time they really started infesting Mediterranean beaches en masse,  so it does not seem that sun and sand and a bikini (bottom at least, they're European of course) is truly a recipe for making babies.  Rather, I'd have to suggest that when we live for our own pleasures--something that is at least compatible with the notion of spending a month on the beach in France or Greece every year--then sharing that pleasure with a demanding infant isn't going to be high on the "to do" list.

Never mind the absurdity of thinking that sand you-know-where, sunburn, and the general tiredness of travel are going to help a couple that's open to God's command to "be fruitful and multiply", if you catch my drift.  I like vacations and the beach, but let's be serious here.

Update on tiny houses/RVs

Yes, it's time to promote the Airstream company again at the expense of Tumbleweed.  Why so?

Well, one of the Tumblewood company's "poster couples" for their product has learned that after towing their RV or "tiny home" less than 20,000 miles, the tow vehicle is on its last legs and needs serious repair or replacement.

I don't think it's the vehicle's fault; it's an F250 Powerstroke 4x4 is said to have been capable of towing 12,500 lbs, and the "tiny home" only weighs in at 10,100 lbs.  My aunt, who works at renaissance festivals, puts tens of thousands of miles on her Chevy one ton each year and has few problems.   The neat thing, for comparison's sake, is that my aunt's home is much larger (it's a25' or so with slide outs and all) and nicer, and she's getting better mileage even with the gasoline engine.  So what gives?

Well, the Tumbleweed is close to the weight limit and has all the aerodynamics of a cardboard box.  Hence a truck that should be getting about 12mpg or more with a 150 square foot camper is getting about eight, and the transmission, engine, and suspension are begging for mercy. 

Lesson learned, again; if you really value the environment, skip the Tumbleweed and look at a well designed trailer like the Airstream.  Depending on the model, you can tow it with a half ton pickup or even an SUV like the GMC Acadia, and it will cost less, have more room for living, and you won't have that wonderful composting toilet smell all the time.  Wins all around.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

As bizarre as tax law...

.....is a recent move by the NHTSA that accuses Fiat-Chrysler of failing to report fatal accidents to the government.  Why so?

Because in any sane world, and I believe even in the world we inhabit, cities, counties, and states would be required to report the vehicle make, year, and model (among other information) about each motor vehicle accident that comes to their attention to the NHTSA and the manufacturer.  Hence there would be (is) no more need for automakers to report fatal accident data than for me to report my income to the IRS.  It's data they already have.

Congratulations, U.S. government, for once again changing what ought to be an opportunity for peaceful collaboration into an occasion for conflict, lawsuits, evasion, and more.

How to prevent drunkenness and alcoholism

According to a recent study, kids from intact families (raised by married biological mother and father) who learn to drink at home have the lowest rates of alcohol-related problems versus those who are not allowed to drink at home at all, and versus those who are allowed to drink at home, but are not from intact families (single parents or parent married to stepparent). 

It is as if parents don't have any wish to see their kids passed out on the couch (or vice versa), and as if kids won't be so enamored of Falstaff and Boone's Farm after they've had something drinkable. I know that Bugweiser had no appeal for me when I returned from Germany, for obvious reasons.

Maybe instead of fighting to keep the drinking age at 21, end the drinking age altogether and stop government policies that effectively promote single parenting and divorce.  Might do us some good.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Another reason to defund Planned Parenthood,

...and believe it or not, it's not related to abortion.  Now we can go back and forth all day about the fungibility of money and how it's improbable that federal funding for contraception and women's health services doesn't end up benefiting the abortion side of the business--through referrals, buildings, and the like--but in reality, there is a much more important reason to stop this kind of aid to Planned Parenthood.

Specifically, when a woman (or occasionally a man) goes to Planned Parenthood for contraception, a referral to a mammogram, an STD test, or a pregnancy test, they are simultaneously....not going to see a doctor of even a physician's assistant for a regular checkup. 

Now certainly STDs kill (starting with about 13000 deaths annually from AIDS), and certainly breast and cervical cancers kill, but these pale before the realities of things like heart disease, diabetes, and other diseases--diseases that are likely to be detected if a person gets their contraception, STD test, or early pregnancy examination through a doctor, but not at Planned Parenthood.

So do you really value access to health care for women?  Great.  You'll be in favor of defunding Planned Parenthood, no matter what your stance on abortion.

Unless, of course, you know that the Planned Parenthood subsidy actually is in large part a subsidy for their abortion business, in which case I challenge you with another moral precept; why is it right for you to pick the pockets of the 50% or more of Americans who object to abortion to pay for it?

Monday, September 28, 2015

Repeat after me....

....regarding Donald Trump:  Four bankruptcies, three wives, two political parties, one big problem.  Do we really need a guy who has thrown his colleagues under the bus in four bankruptcies, thrown his family members under the bus in two divorces, cast his lot in with both major political parties in the past decade, and the like in the White House?

Don't we know what it's like to have an egomaniac President who throws long-term friends, colleagues, and even family members under the bus already?

H/T Powerline.  

Friday, September 25, 2015

Weekend Levity

...straight from the Scottish version of "Deliverance", I guess.  Enjoy!

 
 
And what shopping trip would be complete without a flash mob in the food court?

One has to wonder....

...if anyone in the Obama administration is using government email and complies with open records and FOIA laws.  Latest news is that Chicago mayor (and former Obama staffer) Rahm Emmanuel has been sued by the Chicago Tribune for his use of private email and failure to disclose public business.

As I've noted before, it's really not that complicated an issue unless you've got something to hide.  Your employer has the right to know how you've been handling your communication on the job, and that's why every one of my employers has had a record of my email use.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

More thoughts on oil use and subsidies

First of all, with about ten million medium and heavy duty trucks, as well as a number of buses and "oil-burning" cars--meaning diesels and not old Subarus with worn piston rings driven by "environmentalists" of course--it strikes me that even 95 million gallons of diesel fuel burned per day is awfully low--really only about ten gallons per vehicle at most, meaning that the average distance traveled per day by a diesel vehicle is 100 miles or less.  In other words, most of our diesel fleet spends most of its time idle.

Next, regarding subsidies, it's worth noting that there are tax credits for ethanol totaling about fifty cents to a dollar per gallon--far exceeding the excise taxes imposed on fuels.  In contrast, the total broad definition "subsidy" for petroleum (those subsidies that really aren't) total about a nickel to a dime per gallon.

In other words, alternative fuels are indeed heavily subsidized, but petroleum is not.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Subsidies for oil companies

I've heard a fair amount of talk lately (some from ethanol enthusiasts) about the "subsidies" that are given to oil producers, and here are a couple of articles that discuss them in case anyone else is interested.  First, from Forbes, and second, from Mother Jones.  What is notable is that they are using an interesting definition for "subsidy" to mean anything that would make it cheaper to produce petroleum products.  I would, however, tend to use a tighter definition: tax credits not available to those not producing petroleum and direct payments to petroleum producers.

Along those lines, the general categories of the "broad" definition of "subsidy" are heating assistance to the poor (HEAP), fuel tax exemptions for farmers (who are not using that fuel on the roads), the "Strategic Petroleum Reserve", depreciation schedules, expensing allowances, and an interesting provision called the depletion allowance in the tax code.  It's supposed to compensate for the loss of value of a well due to the oil being pumped out.

There are some actual tax credits there, but no real direct payments, and by and large, the biggest chunk of the supposed "subsidies" consist of not charging farmers and pilots for using fuel away from the roads (hence the fuel tax is inappropriate), welfare programs, and tax provisions available to all companies in all lines of business.   About the same thing goes for coal; there are depreciation schedules and a few tax credits, but really no subsidies, strictly speaking, in the way that one receives a large tax credit for buying a hybrid or electric vehicle.

So while one may debate the soundness of these tax and spending provisions, let's do ourselves a favor and stop calling them subsidies, because they aren't.

Dangers of Cross Country, continued

A couple of pictures from last night's meet.  Not to brag or anything, but my daughters' team won, as did the boys' homeschool varsity, and I'm pretty sure the junior high boys, too.

 
 
Never mind.  Of course I'm bragging.  

Some more things we ought to agree on.....

...beginning from my earlier post, let's build on some other things that all Americans, liberal or conservative, ought to agree on.

11.  Crimes committed by the government--be it the EPA's pollution of the Animas River or the BATFE's infamous "Fast and Furious" program that got 300 Mexican citizens and at least one border patrol agent killed--need to be prosecuted with the same vigor as those committed by non-government employees.

12.  Whether our medical expenses are tax deductible or not should not depend on whether an employer is paying them for us.  Either all are fully deductible, including FICA, or none should be.

(easy way to implement this would be to expand HSAs)

13.  The poor and middle class ought not be forced to subsidize hybrid and electric vehicles for the upper middle class and the wealthy.

14.  The poor and middle class ought not be forced to subsidize child care for the wealthy. 

15.  EPA regulations ought to consider the overall contributors to pollution before singling out one contributor--a great example is proposed ozone regulations that set limits at the environmental background level

16.  Calculations of ROI for public transit projects ought to include the capital cost and reasonable opportunity cost/interest, and efficiency calculations ought to include a factor for depreciating the capital necessary to build the project.  This is especially important for light rail projects, where a lot of concrete and steel doesn't move very many people.

17.  Electric car "eMPG" ought to include the conversion efficiency of the power plant, which is typically 30-40%.  (in other words, the Tesla's eMPG is not 89; but rather 30, or really about 20 when you account for the fact that nighttime power generation is done with coal)

The VW TDI debacle in perspective

A really short summary here; more or less, the high compression ratio of diesels causes nitrogen to bond with excess oxygen, which does not occur as much in gasoline engines because they burn almost all of the available oxygen.  VW's claim to fame was that they could reduce NOx emissions without a urea catalyst, and whatever workaround they had was something to make the engine operate somewhat cooler--I am guessing by changing the amount of fuel injected.  Hence they only passed when the engine was incapable of generating maximum torque and horsepower, and I would guess that someone "in the know" might be able to figure out that something was going on from the time it took the engine to achieve test rpms.

What's the impact?  Well, half a million vehicles with the TDI would emit about 0.7 grams of excess NoX per kilometer, or about a gram per mile.  So if we assume TDI-equipped vehicles are fairly high mileage--say 20,000 miles per year--we then would guess that those half million vehicles are releasing an extra 10,000 metric tons of NOx per year.  Scale it for worldwide diesels, and you have maybe 200,000 metric tons of excess NOx per year released.

In contrast, power plants release approximately 1.5 million short tons of NOx annually in the United States alone.  Well, they're not near city centers, right?

Nope.  As anyone familiar with the term "transmission losses" might infer, a lot of them are in the city.   I'm going to dare to suggest that the EPA is having some serious trouble with the "Pareto Principle" in their regulation of NOx, and that Volkswagen is the least of our concerns in terms of pollution.   Concern #1 is, of course, the guys who dumped a few million gallons of polluted water into the Animas River a few weeks back.

Note: total diesel fuel consumption is about 12 million gallons per day, presumably predominantly by the nation's 5.6 million heavy trucks, buses, and the like.  This would put total NOx emissions under the old rules at around 131,000 metric tons annually--again, a clear #2 or less on the Pareto.

Note 2: although I thought that I'd read the EIA statistics on diesel fuel correctly yesterday, a mere 12 million gallons per day for the nation's 5.6 million semis (not to mention other heavy trucks, buses, and the like) seems "a bit low."  This link indicates about a 2:1 ratio between gasoline and diesel fuel, indicating about 70 billion gallons per year (191 million gallons per day), and this link indicates that on highway consumption of diesel was about 36 billion gallons in 2012, or about 95 million gallons per day.  This would indicate about a million metric tons of NOx from highway diesel under the "old rules" annually, putting it in the same ballpark as power plant emissions.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Big problems in Minnesota?

Both Mr. Dilettante and Powerline have linked today to a very interesting report from the Census Bureau that suggests that median household income among black families declined about 15% in 2014 vs. 2013 levels.  Now the Star-Tribune article addresses the matter predominantly as an issue of "government isn't doing enough to help blacks", and Powerline addresses the matter as a consequence of an influx of Somali refugees, but there is a problem with both hypotheses; neither factor is big enough to account for a sudden drop in income among blacks.  For that matter, even Adrian Peterson's suspension last year would not move the median significantly.  Nor is it sufficient that a number of charities were recently found to be corrupt--those operate on "lower incomes" and have little effect on the median.

So what is going on?  Here are some hypotheses:

  • Nothing.  Census data here are just flawed for whatever reason.
  • Minnesota companies suddenly decided that Klansmen made the best HR managers, black people paid the price, and nobody at the Star-Tribune or Pioneer Press noticed the shift in employment numbers.
  • Black Minnesotans decided to start underestimating their income when polled by Census.
  • Black Minnesotans responded to the Michael Brown tragedy by quitting their jobs, and nobody at our state papers noticed.
  • Hiring managers responded to "Black Lives Matter" by refusing to hire blacks.  (but how would this get a 15% shift in only four months?  And the Strib didn't pick up on this?)
To be blunt, none of these hypotheses is very appealing, and most are just ludicrous.  However, the fact of the matter is that, since a median household income is simply about $15/hour for 40 hours per week, or a little above the wage of one person's factory or retail job, the big thing that could shift this level for real would be mass unemployment among blacks--and we haven't seen that.

In my view, the most likely issue at hand here is that there is something wrong with the Census Bureau's numbers.  Perhaps their sample is too small, and they stumbled into a bunch of low income people.  Perhaps they made some other error with their method.

However, whatever the real issue is, somebody needs to take a good look at these numbers, how they were collected, and what other numbers indicate about the status of blacks in our state.  If it's not just error on the part of the Census Bureau, we're not talking about something that can be fixed with a governor's initiative, but rather something that just might involve prosecution.

If it is mostly an error on the part of the Census Bureau, then it's yet another example of how we may need to be very cautious when using government derived statistics--a famous example being how employment numbers for the past six years have been "unexpectedly" low.  And that says a lot, I hope, to those politicians who would use government numbers to "manage" the economy.

A warning about Cross Country

This is the horrible reality in my home. 


My 13 year old is already running faster than I was as a sophomore in high school....

Thursday, September 17, 2015

A warning on antidepressants

Fox News carried two very interesting, and sobering, articles on psychotropic drugs today.  Now not being a psychiatrist by trade, I can't totally speak to the reality, but if the sources here are indicative, we ought to be sobered.  This is especially the case when one realizes that fully 10% of the U.S. adult population is taking antidepressants, and the overall "dosage" in our country is far higher.

First, Dr. Manny Alvarez (an obstetrician by training) notes that there is a very real danger of side effects when one takes antidepressants hastily.  Not being a psychiatrist, he is admirably trained to realize something very important; that he's not trained to recognize the signs of counter-indicators like bipolar disorder, a mistake that can lead to any number of consequences, including suicide.  Would that more general practice and family practice doctors had this humility.

(keep in mind, by the way, that obstetricians DO come in contact consistently with depression, specifically post partum depression....this is not just an academic issue for Dr. Alvarez)

Fox also presented what may be an infamous example of the side effects of hasty depression diagnoses; Suzy Favor Hamilton's double life as a Las Vegas prostitute.  Now of course we don't have her full medical record before us, and I wouldn't be able to make sense of it if we did, but her testimony is sobering; a misdiagnosis of depression (vs. bipolar disorder or "manic depression") led to the wrong prescription and a result of hypersexuality. 

Now if you're on SSRIs or other drugs, don't drop them, because they DO affect your mind and behavior.  But you might do well to consult a psychiatrist to make sure that you're getting the right mix of counsel and the right set of prescriptions.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Here's a shocker

The committee in Oslo that gave Barack Obama his 2009 "Participation Trophy" is now surprised that it didn't give him the "boost" they had hoped.

Well, duh.  Every kid past the age of seven understands the difference between a real trophy and a participation trophy.  And now, everybody will understand that the Nobel Peace Prize is  a complete farce, issued by the kind of kids in adults' bodies who have never learned that difference.

On the bright side, Obama was at least a better choice in 2009 than Yasser Arafat was in 1994, since at least he hadn't done anything yet.  Probably the best match for Obama is Rigoberta Menchu (1992), whose autobiography, like Obama's, is a complete fraud.  Another good match is Mikhail Gorbachev, who got credit for more or less the collapse of his country with the 1990 Nobel.

The blank page bumper sticker....

.....might be the only thing that is acceptable at a Christiansburg, Virginia high school, where apparently all symbols and flags that "are deemed offensive to any race, religion, ethic group, or sexual orientation" are prohibited.

Let's see....the cross is offensive to Jews, the Star of David to Muslims, the battle flag to blacks, the rainbow flag to Christians, the name "Christiansburg" to radical secularists....all that is left would be, I guess, a plain white bumper sticker....

.....wait a minute, never mind.  That symbol of surrender is of course offensive to the French. 

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

She's got the right idea

Genora Hamm Biggs of Elberton, Georgia, has been expelled from her lifelong church (she became a member at age 11) because she objected to the pastor's use of Holiness Church methods in preaching, which apparently include a fair amount of hootin', hollerin', and something that might be called "holy fainting".  Now no disrespect intended to those who tend to a "Holiness" perspective, but Mrs. Biggs is correct that Baptists do not historically allow Charismatic distinctives in their assemblies, and those that do tend to hold those expressions in what they consider a fairly strict Biblical context--meaning that prophets who say things that aren't true find themselves disciplined, tongues must be interpreted, and the like.

Now I am certain that this is tough for Mrs. Biggs--apparently her family physically moved the original building to its current site and contributed greatly to its upkeep and improvement--but theologically speaking, she's got the right idea.  If you disagree with Baptist distinctives, that's fine, but please have the decency to do so in a church that agrees with your position.

And for that matter, this case shows a very real problem in "fundagelical-pentamatic" circles in general; the tendency to use emotional appeals in lieu of actual discipleship.  These emotional appeals can generate a lot of decisions and temporary numbers, but it does not have the multigenerational staying power of a more reasoned approach--note that Billy Sunday's sons both rejected the faith and became a huge embarrassment to Sunday and his organization. 

Can we agree on some things?

In today's political environment--endless grandstanding and clamoring for attention and the like--it strikes me that what is needed is for someone to come up with some things we can agree on.  Something where we can sit down and start thinking about where we are, and how we got there.  To this effect, I submit the following list.

1.  I would hope that we would all agree that when immigrants--legal or illegal--commit certain serious crimes (e.g. violent felonies), we ought to show them the door when their sentence is completed.  Those who harbor them and give them sanctuary ought to be subject to criminal and civil liability. 

2.  I would hope that we would agree that our borders ought to have at least a vehicle barrier so that those who would immigrate without permission at least need to walk a few miles to do so. 

3.  I would hope that we would all agree that we ought not use the government as a piggy bank for our own pet projects, whether that's farm subsidies, subsidies for electric cars and solar panels, grants to Planned Parenthood, or whatever.

4.  I would hope that we would all agree that given history, we need to take things like Holocaust denial seriously, especially when the conference is being led by Iran's head of state.

5.  I would hope that we would all agree that when negotiating with nations that sponsor terrorism, that sponsorship is on the table no matter else what is being negotiated.

6.  I would hope that we would agree that in our foreign policy, we ought to consider who is going to ultimately receive the money we're talking about.  If a terrorist state (e.g. Iran) is going to spend billions buying weapons from our chief geopolitical opponents (Russia and China), we ought to consider the implications of that.

7.  I would hope that we would agree that if our government is suing nuns to force them to buy birth control coverage, we have seriously lost our way as a nation.

8.  I would hope that we would agree that public records ought to be retained by the public in a secure form that can be easily searched by investigators when need be.

9.  I would hope that we would agree that public servants who withhold public records and store them on unsecure servers ought to be promptly prosecuted for that.

10.  I would hope that we would agree that when regulations and taxes are used to harass political enemies of the party in power, then the structure is too big and ought to be reevaluated.

Probably a few more things to be said here, but it strikes me that a renewal of who we are as a nation might just rely on some things we ought to be able to agree on like this.

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

A Christian "Mr. Money Mustasche"

I've been doing a little bit of thinking about, and reading, in the "Mr. Money Mustasche" site I profiled earlier, and it struck me that it might be of interest to present what a young Christian couple might have attained.  For reference, "Pete" is an apparently unreligious man (except for his views on money) who managed to save about $800,000 in assets over the course of less than a decade, and then decided to quit writing code and do whatever he wanted to do.  Sometimes it pays, sometimes not, but all in all, his value is on liberty, even to the exclusion of creature comforts and even having more than one child.

OK, so how does faith impact this?  Well, for starters, if a couple tithes, that takes an instant $100k off that final number, and if a couple believes that God really does command His people to be fruitful and multiply, that translates to (a) higher living expenses and (b) fewer hours worked by the mother.  I remember calculating what Mrs. Bubba's take-home pay would have been after daycare, car expenses, eating out, formula, taxes, and tithe after our first child was born, and it worked out to be about $1/hour; not worth the time.

So if the couple had had children starting a few years into their relationship (something I think all Christian couples ought to be open to), they would have had probably at least a 25% reduction in their post-tax income as a result--either by daycare + formula, or by the wife quitting work altogether.  That is an additional $200k reduction in overall wealth.

Still not too shabby--we would be talking about $400-$500k instead of $800k--but that against expenses which would probably be about twice those experienced by our friend in Longmont.  So for all but the most motivated (or barren) and prosperous Christians, the "miracle story" of Pete and his family will be out of reach....especially if God blesses the family with three or more children, and the family is "forced" to get a larger vehicle like a minivan or SUV, something abhorred by "Pete".

Too bad for us?  Of course not.   It's simply that our priorities--"Be fruitful and Multiply", "Do not wear yourself out to get rich"--are somewhat different.  That noted, he's got a wonderful bit of advice relating to Exodus 20:17--"You shall not covet"--and we really ought to listen.  Listen Biblically, but listen nonetheless.