Thursday, December 15, 2016

Much ado about nothing

Powerline and others are making a big deal out of how President-elect Trump will prevent his Presidency from being a massive subsidy to his businesses, but quite frankly, I'm not terribly persuaded that this is a big deal.  His businesses include hotels, golf courses, casinos, apartments, and the like, and reality is that these businesses are regulated at the state and local levels here in the U.S., and by foreign governments outside our country.  Exactly what can he do to benefit his businesses without alerting the bureaucracy that "Trump" hotels and casinos are not the best deal, but are the chosen ones?

Yes, he should leave the day to day operation of his companies to his children and other executives, but there is nowhere near the conflict of interest shown by, say, the Clinton Foundation, which was receiving large payments right after favorable State Department action.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

A failure in management

Powerline reports that where President Kennedy's 2.5 million executive branch employees had 17 different levels, President Trump will inherit a bureaucracy with about 2.7 million employees and 63 levels.  Despite the fact that the number of employees has (mercifully) not grown much, the number of men at executive levels has grown from 450 to over 3000.

To put it gently, from a corporate "span of control" viewpoint, this simply boggles the mind if true.  In 1961, what's being said is that the average manager oversaw only 2.4 employees, which is pretty bad--good companies have 5-10 subordinates per manager.  Today, the number, assuming a uniform distribution of subordinates, is 1.24.  It reminds me of the time I saw that two VPs of a company--one reporting to the other--had no subordinates besides the next level VP down and their secretaries. 

It suggests that if a department head takes a careful look at his org charts, he ought to be able to trim payroll by a lot very, very quickly.  Judging by the number of layers, there are only about half a million to a million "individual contributors" in government, which would mean with the 1961 "span of control" of about 2.43, you would only need a total of somewhere between 600,000 and 1.3 million federal workers to get the work done, reducing federal payroll by 60-90%.  If you get the span of control to a reasonable value of 5-10, it's even more drastic.

Now this isn't a perfect analysis, as some departments are likely more top-heavy than others, and some are bigger than others.  On the flip side, the situation may be worse than I suggested, as the guy at the top of the bureaucracy--the President of course--has 15 direct reports in the Cabinet plus his personal staff and issue "Czars".  It may indeed be possible to trim hundreds of billions from the national budget without impairing government services one iota.  Time to look at those org charts, as it's arguable that the civil service has far more layers than does the Army, but without the need for redundancy that military organizations have.

Missing the point....

Passed this morning by a Prius going about 80mph, I wondered how much mileage would go down at that point.....more or less, it goes down to about 40mpg, probably a bit lower when you include the fact that it was five degrees out this morning.  One would have to argue that those who live 70 miles from work and commute in a Prius--burning about three times the gasoline I burn in my daily 13.4 mile commute in my 1997 GMC pickup--are kinda missing the point of the car, to put it mildly.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Russians worked for Trump?

The recent revelation...more or less...that the CIA had (according to President Obama) found evidence that hackers perhaps connected to the Russian government had revealed emails favorable to Donald Trump's candidacy really...raises more questions than answers, starting with the Obama administration's "famous" reputation for honesty--"if you like your doctor, you can keep him" and all that.  They say they "didn't want to interfere with the election" (which explains all that business with James Comey of course), but....perhaps this is really more about knowing that if they'd revealed the information in September, that would leave two months for conservatives to figure out they were lying.

Also of note is that if the hackers had really wanted to favor Trump, wouldn't they have done a little bit more than....reveal factual information about Mrs. Clinton?  Is this a mean trick, or is this a public service? 

The biggest reason, though, that we would doubt Mr. Obama's story is that it simply does not make sense.  The Russians presumably have a LOT of Mrs. Clinton's emails that they could have used to have their way with her had she become President--making her the political equivalent of a marionette, really--and it was not Mrs. Clinton, but rather Mr. Trump, who is in favor of expanding permissions to increase U.S. oil production, which would hurt the Russians badly.  It is worth noting as well that it is Mr. Trump, not Mrs. Clinton, who desires to rebuild the U.S. military and reverse course in Iran and Syria, both of which the Russians are strongly against.

Really, the only explanation that would make sense would be if indeed the Russians had an agreement similar to that which the English had with Benedict Arnold.....but given that half of Congress still hates Mr. Trump's guts, and that Trump has put a lot of "dominant" people in his list of Cabinet and other nominees, it's not certain that that would go far, either.

So what really happened?  I think the Obama administration knows that a large portion of his legacy has a short half-life with Trump, and he's trying to hamstring him before he gets into office.

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.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016


I've read that President Obama aims to be the first ex-President to become a billionaire based on speaking fees and the like after his Presidency is (mercifully) over.  That noted, it's also said that the appeal of the Clinton Foundation is that donors/speech underwriters knew that a Clinton was in a position of power (Senate, Secretary of State, possible White House) to deliver favors. 

So I'd have to argue that Obama's path to mega-bucks is dubious, as a third of the electorate would choose root canal surgery over listening to him speak, Michelle shows no particular desire to hold elected office, and otherwise his influence depends on the media that put him in the White House.  Suffice it to say that unless he's got another secret email system to send thoughts and commands to bureaucrats, his influence going forward isn't likely to make him big bucks.

Unless, of course, all that money flowing to the Clintons actually IS because people want to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to listen to Hilliary, in which case I'd have to suggest that the heroin epidemic is worse than we ever thought.

How we got here

In reading two posts on SharperIron regarding "convergence" and fundamentalism, one thing that struck me is that "conservative evangelicals" (who hold to the theological fundamentals) and "historic fundamentalists" (who separate based on cultural issues like dancing and movies) seem to be at an impasse simply because people can't see the other case.  And so it bears asking; how is it that fundamentalism and evangelicalism alike have ended up at this place?

Well, for starters, let's take a look at the history of fundamentalism--Kevin Bauder gives it a try here by noting that the taboos of fundamentalism--drinking, dancing, theater, cards, smoking, and others--were part of revivalism.  Fair enough, but I would dare say that there is an even more basic reason.

Fundamentalism started as a response to theological liberalism, which was in turn rooted in the form criticism of German theology professors.  Both came across the ocean, and they quickly took root in prestigious universities and then the seminaries of mainline churches.  So let's think about what early fundamentalists saw; more or less, it was that anti-Biblical ideas from the academy were resulting in changes that could send people to Hell in the churches.   The response was led by dominant leaders who either purged churches of liberal elements, or (more often) led an exodus of believing members to new churches. 

We would therefore expect fundamentalism to have a fairly strong anti-academic bias, oppose change , and  would value prominent personalities quite strongly.  We would also expect the anti-academic bias to work with the esteem of prominent personalities to result in a limited ability to process and analyze ideas outside of genetic fallacies.

And what do we see through our history and today?  We see Bible colleges that are only now beginning to seek accreditation, pastors who joke that they learned their Greek at a gyros shop, outsized personalities like Bob Jones and Billy Sunday the objects of near-veneration, and a litany of genetic fallacies used to make positions on social issues.  We see fundamental leaders apologizing into the nineties for endorsing segregation and prohibiting "interracial" dating.

Those social issues are, more or less, similar to the list that we would have seen a century ago: Prohibition of alcohol and tobacco (see chapter 1 of Alger's Ragged Dick), suspicion of the theater and music with a "jungle" or "voodoo" beat, and the like.  Now thankfully fundamentalists mostly abandoned the overt racism of that era, but really our surprise should not be that we otherwise retain these views of our forebears.  Rather, the surprise is that we don't have our wives and daughters in corsets, our daughters waiting eagerly for a gentleman caller as in The Glass Menagerie. 

(though I did see, rather recently in fact, the claim that corsets were the key to or hate the corset, say what?)

Now of course, just because the Victorians believed something doesn't automatically make it wrong, but it does illustrate the reality that unless we understand our history and biases, we are almost automatically going to get the "second premiss" and our syllogism wrong.

Coming up; how evangelicalism got here, and what we can do about it.

Two car reviews

Had the opportunity to experience two vehicles new to me yesterday.  First, a crew cab F150 with the Ecoboost turbo engine.  Overall, very comfortable, good handling and ride, immense capability, great mileage, and the big downside is that the nose is in New Mexico while the trailer is still in Wyoming.  It is big and hard to park.  Great choice for a moderate sized family that likes to camp and is tired of minivans, though.

Next, I got a quick ride in a Tesla model S--yes, me, the guy who gets rather tired of helping people pay for them and points out that it's really a very polluting coal fired vehicle.  But I'll be fair. 

First impression is that it's very low to the ground--to the point where I'd be uneasy taking it across speed bumps, really.  It's well styled and unobtrusive, so if one really likes speed, but not speeding tickets, it's probably a better choice than a Camaro or Corvette, and does have room for two adults and two children--not really four adults, unless they're "vertically challenged."  Front seat headroom was adequate but not great--not bad for a sports car, really. 

Car is controlled by a touch screen "entertainment center", which is frankly huge, somewhat distracting, and disconcerting--my eyes are going to be drawn there when this "hot rotor" goes to 60 in less than three seconds, which doesn't seem like a really smart safety move.  When the gas juice pedal is pressed with near-maximum power, the sensation is physically uncomfortable, and the vehicle can get close to 100mph on a highway on ramp.  It is, more or less, the vehicular equivalent of taking off from an aircraft carrier with full afterburners, I'd imagine, and stats say it matches the Corvette Z06 even at a quarter mile at about eleven seconds.  Thankfully the owner did not demonstrate this!

Handling is wonderful, as you'd expect with most of the weight within a foot of the ground, and range is a full 315 miles....but with serious degradation in battery life when you're below about 80F, which is...quite frankly...most of the time here in Minnesota.  The battery pack, which forms the base of the car, even has a heater to enhance performance in cool temperatures.  One guy's experience suggests about a 30% loss in efficiency due to heating the battery and the driver, which takes the carbon dioxide per mile (assuming night time power generation using coal, which is the norm) to about the same as a one ton pickup getting 13mpg.  If you assume natural gas, you're at....about what you'd get with that Corvette or Camaro.

Overall verdict is that it's well made, fun to the point of getting a driver in trouble in a hurry in many ways, but given the limitations in passenger space, range and refueling, and tax and environmental impact, I just really don't see the point.  Go with the environmentally sound choice instead--the F150 crew cab.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Greatness at the University of Michigan Law School

Although they didn't go through with it, they actually planned an event where their law students were going to "cope" with the election of Donald Trump by using coloring books, play-dough, and bubbles.  Now as a loyal Spartan who was born 30 miles south of Columbus, I've picked on the Wolverines for this kind of silliness innumerable times, but I hadn't quite expected them to admit that their law students have maturity that rivals that of toddlers.  Such robustness ought to serve them well in challenging courtroom situations, I dare say.  "Your honor, can we have a recess so I can cry a little while?"

Hail, to Michigan, the weenies of the west!

Side note is congratulations to the Iowa Hawkeyes, especially Faith Ekakitie, for making last Saturday their own personal "weasel stomping day."

Friday, November 11, 2016

OK, queue up the special prosecutor.... it appears that our nation's greatest carpetbaggers, the Clintons, are aiming to put their daughter in Congress.   It appears that only a prosecution or two is going to shut down the Clinton Foundation for good.

Should have seen it coming as Marc Mezvinsky's hedge fund collapsed in a response to an idiotic bet on the Germans bailing out Greece--OK, Barack presumably didn't deliver the favor he must have been promised--but suffice it to say that campaigning for Congress in 2018 seems like a likely outcome for Mrs. Mezvinsky if her mother and father aren't in jail.  So sad to say, a special prosecutor is needed to sort out the whole mess, followed by a massive cut in government spending and regulation that would reduce the opportunity for this kind of graft.

(to be fair, the prospect of Chelsea in Congress in 2019 doesn't fully resurrect Clinton fortunes, but I can't completely see this as "just" Chelsea wanting to "serve the public"...even her wedding was paid for by "speaking fees" and "contributions" that seemed to come real close to favorable regulatory actions) 

Thursday, November 10, 2016

The welcoming committee for election protesters...

Yes, I'd pay to see what happens if the protesters move to the Great White North and then decide to smash the windshields of one of these guys when they get grouchy with Canadian politics.  Either that, or watch the Mounties take exception when they got out of line.

Or, better yet, they'll show how progressive they are by moving to a real socialist country like Cuba, Zimbabwe, North Korea, or Venezuela.  Congratulations, far left; you've persuaded me that I made a wonderful decision on Tuesday.  And even smarter, many Canadians are letting them know that they are not welcome.

Venezuela it is for the lot of them.

Showing us America made a decent decision....

...are the thousands of morons across the country burning cars and buildings in protest of the results of the election.  If they want to define "progressive" as "person desperately needing a spanking", they're doing a great job.

Come to think of it, the "reporters" describing these protests as "mostly peaceful" need a spanking, preferably with Noah Webster's 1828 Edition.  Sorry, but when protesters burn cars and injure police officers, the protest is to be described as "violent".   If there is anyone whose prospects are as hurt as those of Hilliary Clinton's, it has to be the media, which is obviously colluding with the Democratic Party.  Grow up, reporters, and remember what it should be to be part of the "4th Estate".

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

1000 University Drive SW, Waseca, MN 56093

I've joked a few times that that address ought to be Hilliary Clinton's soon--it's the federal women's correctional institution (jail) in a town where I used to live.  I know some of the guards there, and at the Rochester Federal Medical Center (in the shadow of Mayo)--good people who would take good care of her.  Certainly with her history of perjury, obstruction of justice, mishandling of classified documents, apparent bribery, and the like, she's a good "candidate" for incarceration.

And while I'm certainly in favor of putting her and her "minions" in jail where they belong, we might do well to heed Doug Wilson and remember that no matter how justified, putting political losers in jail might be bad optics. 

Plus, there is a factor that will make putting her in jail a bad idea; putting her in jail makes her a martyr to her cause and gives Bill a cause and a reason to get the soapbox.  It might well increase the "take" of the corrupt Clinton Foundation.  On the other hand, if her minions are rightly punished for their roles in the scandals while the government remembers that she's a sick 68 year old political loser, the Clinton Foundation loses everything going forward. 

The corruption of the Clinton Foundation has its roots, of course, in its apparent ability to trade political favors for donations, and without Hilliary being a plausible candidate for office--and daughter Chelsea clearly does not have even the political gifts of her mother--they have lost their ability to raise funds.

I could be wrong, but it looks like Clinton has suffered a merciless blow; she is now irrelevant. 

Go home to Chappaqua, Hilliary, and make your peace with God and see if you can get your health back.  It's the best you can do right now.

Help for my liberal friends

You'll need to learn this for when you watch the Canadiens play, eh.

Always ready to help.  Sad to say, I don't have too many extra boxes to help you pack.  You can borrow my pickup if you promise to bring it back with a bag of Tim Horton's coffee, though.

Monday, November 07, 2016

Scary thought

Back in 1979, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn roiled Harvard and the nation by advancing a shocking thesis; that it was scary to contemplate a nation whose only moral standard was the legal one.   Now with James Comey's second refusal to recommend an indictment of Hilliary Clinton for clear perjury, destruction of government records/obstruction of justice, mishandling of classified documents, and more, it strikes me that sans a moral and spiritual element to our standards, we also no longer have a legal standard to which to appeal.

This comes, of course, as no surprise to the victims of Fast & Furious, the IRS Scandal, Benghazi, and a whole bunch more.  Sigh.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Books review: Ken Cooper

As I hinted earlier, I've had the privilege to re-read some books I read earlier of Ken Cooper's--they were in my mother's library, written in the late 1960s/early 1970s (showing every day of their age with acid paper), and they had a great deal of responsibility in starting the "Aerobics" craze of the 1970s.  Knowing their age, how do they hold up?

Answer: very well, just like another old book I've reviewed, The Boy's Book of StrengthAnd of course, it was also my step-father's basement.  Cooper does wonderful work in noting that strength is not equal to fitness, and moreover that it matters how intense the workout is.  More or less, if you can keep a six minute mile pace--ten miles per hour--you can get your 30 "points" in the Cooper system by running five miles in half an hour.  For the "mere mortals" among us, of course, a bit more time, not to mention distance, is required.

Calisthenics and isometrics?  Yes, they're fun, and yes, they develop strength, but they're not fitness--just ask those huge guys throwing out their backs playing in a "beer league" softball game.  No?  I noted a long time ago that the guys who got hurt most in that "sport" were....sorry...the bodybuilders.

Two things that come across as very strange to modern ears, in my view, are that even the Armed Forces (especially the Air Force that Cooper served) did not do a good job keeping people fit for service, and that he addresses smoking in terms of "lack of lung power" instead of as a cause for lung cancer.

But that's not too bad, really, as losing a lung to cancer (like John Wayne) does impact lung power, and I'd have to guess that a lot of names appear on the Vietnam Memorial due to a lack of fitness.  Scary, really. 

What's scarier yet, though, is that according to this article, Cooper has had to struggle through life to be heard, and as late as 1986, the power of preventative medicine was still debated.  Forty years after The Boys' Book of Strength, and decades after our sad lessons in World War Two and Korea, and after sad lessons in Vietnam, people still didn't clue in that aerobic fitness was a good deal.  Very strange, really.

So take a look at "squaring the curve" of aging a la our brother in Christ Ken Cooper.  Just like someone you know who delayed his need to take drugs for blood pressure by a decade with fitness, you can increase your odds of vigorous health to within a short period of when God takes you home.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Real fixes for the Health Insurance Deform Act

Again, let's call Obamacare by what it really does; there is nothing "affordable" about the Affordable Care Act Health Insurance Deform Act.  Now given that the chickens have come home to roost, what can be done to rescue healthcare?  And no, it won't be nationalized healthcare, at least if we want to avoid even more death panels than we've already got.  Some humble suggestions:

1.  Equalize the tax treatment of employer paid and self paid health care expenses--either it's all taxable, or it's all tax free, including FICA.  No reason the self-employed or contractor ought to be subsidizing those with employer paid insurance--and yes, this means most Obamacare subsidies need to be repealed, along with the federalization of student loans (which funds the subsidies).   This could be done very simply by enlarging the scope of current healthcare spending accounts.

2.  Allow preexisting conditions clauses.  One of the huge reasons the system is imploding--16 of 23 state exchanges have collapsed--is that people know they don't need to get insurance until they get very sick.  Not surprisingly, they don't, and even less surprisingly, this blows up the actuarial tables.

3.  Stop forcing the young to subsidize insurance for the old; the natural cost ratio is 5:1 to 8:1 for the old versus the young.  Ending the unnatural 3:1 ratio will incentivize health insurance among the young and rescue actuarial tables.

4.  Roll back the Obama regulations that add a lot of coverages that many insures do not want or flat out cannot use, starting with mandatory contraceptive coverage.  There is something morally horrific about the notion "You have the fun, we bill a nun".

Now I don't believe this is terribly practical--too many people love their goodies--but if we want a system that will cover stage 4 cancers with surgery and chemo instead of with morphine and cyanide, this is what we've got to do.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Why we are liberal and fat

Walter Williams writes about a study that found that most people aged 18-24 could not find Ohio or New York on a map, and that a full 75% could not find Iran or Israel on a world map.  Another study referenced by Dr. Williams indicates that only 30% of college graduates are capable of interpreting a basic food label. 

Now maybe I'm biased here--having subscribed to National Geographic for thirty years, and being the son of a dietician--but these are things that people used to learn in elementary school.  Certainly as much was presented on The Andy Griffith Show and such.  And if we wonder why people vote for politicians who have no sane grasp of history or geography, and why so many of us are so fat, we've got our answer.  About 2/3 of us literally have no coherent knowledge of where we are and where we came from, and a similar proportion could not describe what would differ in the nutritional information for an apple and a Big Mac.

We could be, really, too stupid for self-government, and the hope for a benevolent despot fades as we realize who the most likely candidates are--people with not only a lack of knowledge, but also a lack of morals. 

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Interesting correlation

Now there are a bunch of things convolved here--age, culture, obesity, birthrates, rates of breastfeeding, and the like--but here's an interesting graphic that indicates that the incidence of breast cancer, if not its lethality, tends to increase as a state becomes politically more liberal. Of the bottom 25 states for incidence, about 20 are "red", and of the top 25 states for incidence, about 20 are blue.  Go figure.  If politics reflects other risk factors in lifestyle, we would suggest that one's worldview does in fact impact one's health significantly. 

A hat tip

To Art of Manliness for presenting 101 style tips for men.  Within the limitation "make sure you don't get more clothing than your closet will comfortably hold", it's good tips that will make you look good in a timeless way. 

Friday, October 21, 2016

Better than lojack

The "third pedal car theft prevention system" once again prevents a carjacker from stealing a young man's vehicle.   Sadly, the attempted theft was not caught on camera, or else I'd post that too. 

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Environmentalism produces the vanguard of technology

Only millennia after the Egyptians harnessed the sun-driven wind to sail upstream on the Nile, environmentalists now have a vessel that uses the same power source and will go, occasionally, almost as fast as a well designed sailboat.

Just, as you'll see, without any of the grace or lines that characterize a well designed sailboat, but with the need to replace batteries every so often, and costing at least three times as much.   Even better, consider the possibility of needing to get somewhere at night, or on a cloudy day, without the auxiliary diesel. 

You will, however, get all the pollution associated with making a large solar array and a 60kW-H lithium ion battery pack.  Honestly, it seems that environmentalists are not about preserving the environment at all, but are rather about replacing well known, beautiful, useful technologies with ugliness. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The fruit of "evidence based" sex ed apparently pretty rotten, as the CDC admits that STD infections are, once again, up.    Worse yet, some bacterial infections once treated with antibiotics are....becoming untreatable.  Seems like something we're doing isn't working, and by the way, abstinence based sex ed ended close to a decade ago.  At least it was measured--in my opinion wrongly, but nonetheless measured--as merely "ineffective".  What we're doing today is downright harmful. 

Maybe a great place to start would be to start teaching young people that if they choose to sleep around, the odds are close to 100% that they will be sleeping with people who have, or have had, an STD.  Go further and note that while condoms reduce HIV transmission, and Gardasil reduces HPV transmission and infection, there isn't a whole lot science can do to reduce other STDs if a person chooses to sleep around.

A trip back in time

Those who know me well know that I'm a friend of that which has been before; I ride a 39 year old bicycle (and another that is a mere 20 years old), drive a 19 year old pickup, use century old cast iron skillets, and eat two meals each day at a table my father sat at for his first birthday party (yes, I have the pictures). 

More recently, I found a few old safety razors of my grandfather, and decided to give it a try a la The Art of Manliness' Shave like your grandpa article.  Found blades and shaving soap at the store, repurposed a custard bowl and a brush originally intended for applying shoe polish, and gave it a try.

The verdict?  Despite the "dark ages" construction with no DLC (diamond like carbon) to keep the edge sharp, it does give a better shave once you get the "feel" for how to do it--and that only took a couple of cuts.  I would even dare say that my skin is healthier as a result, and I'm getting months of shaves for the same $5 that would have bought me a single modern shaving cartridge that lasts a week or so.

Why so?  I think the major issue is simply that the old safety razors had a natural "curve" which allows them to follow the contours of my face better than the modern ones, which are built on a "flat" model. 

I'm hooked.....but I don't know whether I'll give my great grandfather's straight razor a try anytime soon. :^)

An apt picture of Hilliary Clinton

Her campaign bus was caught dumping raw sewage onto the street, likely contaminating local bodies of water.  The excuse?  They "didn't know" that it was wrong.

My take?  Nonsense.  (and yes, a stronger term from our ranching traditions might be appropriate here) Proper handling of hazardous waste is something that is drilled into the mind of every commercial drivers' license holder, and we are to believe that the "environmentally minded" Clinton campaign was unaware that dumping raw sewage into storm drains is a hazard?   Certainly not.  They were rather "saving time" and thinking no one was watching, just like truck drivers leaving milk jugs full of urine at truck stops and elsewhere.

This is simply a picture for how Mrs. Clinton and her staff minions view the country; as something they can quite literally dump raw sewage on without consequence.  Watch out if this criminal is elected.

Monday, October 17, 2016

More apt than I thought

Back in college, my roommate facetiously put Papa John's phone number on our list of "emergency" numbers.  Turns out he knew more than he thought he did.  How so?  Well, when Omaha resident Eric Olsen needed to get a hold of his grandmother, Claire Olsen, but she'd lost phone service due to Hurricane Matthew.

Thinking quickly, he ordered a pizza from Papa John's for his grandmother, with the request (and I presume a tip) that the delivery person call him when the pizza was delivered, and, if possible, let him talk to his grandmother.

End of story; grandmother was fine, and the pizza was fantastic.  Well done, Eric.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

What then shall we do?

It is a depressing time in this country.  The official national debt is nearly twenty trillion dollars--over sixty thousand dollars per man, woman, and child--and the chief candidates are two sleazy people, at least one of whom belongs in prison.  Our medical insurance system is, thanks in great deal to the Affordable Care Act Obamacare Health Insurance Deform Act, starting to collapse, and nations and movements we thought we'd vanquished are coming back with a vengeance due to a horrifically bad foreign policy, including idiotic moves like telling our enemies when we'd be leaving (sit tight and have fun when the Marines are gone, boys!). 

So what shall we do?  Well, for the believer, we ought to pray--what we ought to have been doing anyways--and for the superstitious, it's clearly time to start listening to country music played backwards.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Who thought this was a good idea?

Apparently there is a "Soylent" food bar company.  For the uninitiated, here's the movie that "inspired" this company.  And yes, as it contains algae, you might just call it "Soylent Green".

And they're wondering why people are feeling sick after eating them.  I know I'm feeling woozy just thinking about it.  Somehow I'm also reminded of Pink Floyd's The Wall--If you don't eat yer meat, you can't have any pudding.  How can you have any pudding if you don't eat yer meat?

Stretching the text just a bit....

A Texas church has tried to use Acts 2:13 as an argument that "new wine" was non-alcoholic, as if the hearers of the Apostles were accusing them of having a sugar high.  There are great reasons that many Christians choose not to drink, starting with the difficulties that our "optimized for drinkability" culture has caused, but the notion that new wine did not contain alcohol is not among them. 

Really, I've got to wonder at times about a pastor who doesn't get the obvious dig at the apostles, accusing them more or less of being like (to use a picture from my college days) sorority girls after too many wine coolers.  You have to wonder what methods of exegesis and hermeneutics were taught at their seminary, if in fact they attended one at all.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Thankfulness for the Drumpf "debacle"

Now there are a lot of people out there who are apoplectic about the current "disaster" facing Donald J. Drumpf, as apparently there is a video out there that proves even to the brain dead that he is a horny teenager with wrinkles.  Well, that's nice, but for those of us who have read a newspaper in the past 30 years, this isn't exactly a surprise.  He's a guy who owns casinos and strip clubs, has written at length about his sexual conquests in his own autobiography, and his divorces were not exactly "no fault."  One may as well be shocked that water is wet.

But what's good about this?  Well, it's shining a light on "fundagelicalism", showing us some things that we desperately need to see.  For starters, there's a whole list of our "leaders"--predominantly the pastors of megachurches and large ministries--who failed to warn their followers about who Mr. Trump really is, and even gave legitimacy to his campaign by signing on. 

Why is this?  Well, my hunch is that too many leaders, and far too many congregants, are simply way too infatuated with bigness.  They simply want to hang out with the cool people and be recognized by the crowds.  Yes, it's an American tradition, but at a certain point, we also should understand that big is not necessarily good--ask any family that decided to give a Toyota or Datsun a try during the 1970s.  

Those leaders who are now bailing on Drumpf, moreover, are also revealing that they really aren't paying attention until....the controversy is too obvious to ignore.  In other words, these guys are not leaders at all, but followers.  In other words, if you want an actual pastor, a shepherd that will warn you of might want to look elsewhere.  After all, love of bigness, and sticking with flawed ideas and people until the evidence is obvious even to the brain dead, do not appear as qualifications for pastors and elders in 1 Timothy and Titus. 

We have, therefore, a great opportunity to do something of a "purge" of un-Biblical attitudes in our movement.   Let's use it, whether that purge is manifested as repentance by these leaders, or outright replacement. 

Keys to long life?

Those who know me well know that I am, as I strive to live well and keep my health for various reasons, a huge fan of the work of Ken Cooper and the Cooper Institute.   I am convinced that a great portion of the solution to our problems with medical care, and the cost thereof, lies on our plates and in our schedules. 

But that said, those who have read Cooper's Aerobics books, or have interacted otherwise with his guidance, ought not be able to help noticing something very important; those who do the best on his programs are those who make the whole thing a community.  In Cooper's own family, his wife started on his journey to health when....her husband put the kids in the stroller and slowed down to jog with her.

And that is, in a nutshell, what we see in the lives of people who more or less "forget to die" until they get past a century, especially in places like Okinawa or Ikaria (Greece).  When one sorts out the variables, meaningful work and social time is more important than diet and exercise. 

Want great health?  Maybe sit down with a friend over a glass of wine and some snacks for a while, or head out to the garden.  It'll do you good.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Something of a bummer, actually

I am no fan of gambling--if you want to throw away a bunch of money, you can just write me a check, and I'll even send you a thank you note--but somehow it's a bit sad that the "Trump Taj Mahal" is closing.  Now there are all kinds of reasons from the closing, most notably a horrible casino market in Atlantic City and a union that apparently chose unemployment for its members instead of pay and benefit cuts, but the closing is still sad because the name "Taj Mahal" is a perfect picture of casino gambling.

The Taj, of course, is a mausoleum.  And in a casino, the hopes and dreams of customers are buried in the proverb "The house always wins."  What a great picture of gambling!

Wednesday, October 05, 2016

And in other good news

Prius sales are down 26% despite heavy incentives from Toyota.  Smug pollution will drop with this!

Seriously, what's to like about an overpriced two-seater (*) without storage space, carrying capacity, or towing capacity?  There are some very real compromises in design needed to get to President Obama's 55mpg pipe dream, and the Prius is illustrating it very well.  The government gets to set the laws of the land, but not the laws of physics.

Now if only we could stop taxing the poor and middle class to fund cars for the upper middle class and rich.  Sigh.

(*) yes, I know that it officially seats "five", but with 37" headroom and 33" legroom, the back seat really is just for kids at best.

Not that I'm proud or anything

But here's my daughters' cross country meet on TV. 

Monday, October 03, 2016

Federal Bureau of what?

Part of immunity deals granted to Clinton staffers in the State Department includes destruction of their electronic devices.  Because by no means is it possible that these people would have incriminating information about their former boss there, it being completely impossible that they would have any communication from her.

If you doubt that the Obama administration in particular, and Democrats in general, do a great job covering up for the crimes they commit, see above.  It is as if the FBI needs to be renamed the "Federal Bureau of Obstruction of Justice".

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Greatness in government medicine

Remember the old joke you used to tell in junior high school:  "Suicide Hotline--can you hold"?  Apparently it's reality at the VA, where 40% of suicide hotline calls are not answered promptly, and some staffers don't appear to be doing a whole lot of work.   What's the consequence?  Well, apparently the VA is also leaving bodies to decompose for weeks in their morgues.   No, it's not a question of funding or staffing, just a matter of getting staff to...actually do their jobs.

The recent record of the VA suggests to me that, apart from things that are specifically related to combat stress and injuries, we could do little better than to replace most of it with insurance vouchers that vets could use to get their own health care, and guidance in where to look in their own area.  For that matter, I'm guessing that there are a lot of private healthcare providers who could do better with combat related illness than does the VA.  Certainly the one near me could, I think.

Now there's a voter for Hilliary....

Alicia Machado, the former "Miss Universe" who is berating Donald Trump for (allegedly) calling her "Miss Piggy" after she apparently gained 60 lbs on her 5'7" frame in less than nine months after winning the pageant.  Now perhaps it's not the "nicest" that she got called "Miss Piggy", but the fact of the matter is that her job title at the time was "Beauty Contest Winner", and that would ordinarily suggest to a person ought to take some reasonable efforts to, say, preserve her beauty.  Never mind that being addressed so just might have helped her drop the weight and...quite her health and perhaps her life.

So she's got a wonderful sense of entitlement--her saying that she should continue as a beauty queen with 50% extra weight is akin to me saying I should continue as an engineer even if I should forget everything I learned about mathematics.

She's also a great fit for the Hilliary campaign in that she apparently was a getaway driver for a 1998 murder, had threatened a judge's life, worked in porn, and apparently was the lover for a Mexican drug kingpin.  Yup, she'll fit in with the Clintons, won't she?

And it's worth noting that with that history, she just got citizenship.  You read that right; being the lover of a Mexican drug kingpin, accessory to homicide, and making terroristic threats apparently is no barrier to citizenship under the Obama administration. 

Update: apparently the State Department has verified what I've been saying all along.  They have no way of getting independent evidence that refugees are a good security risk.  And, as you see above, they're not terribly interested in keeping people with multiple felonies out of the country.  They have their bodyguards, after all. 

Friday, September 23, 2016

Another triumph of socialized medicine

A woman in Macedonia wakes up from surgery to find that surgeons have connected her colon'll have to read the article to find out.  As you guessed, yes, they have socialized medicine there.  I'm no surgeon, but while I can see the "excuse" of proximity, I would have assumed that even the most junior surgeon would have clued in that he wasn't working with the proper parts. 

With single payer, however, I guess I'm wrong. 

Thursday, September 22, 2016

So why does it matter?

One might ask why I bother, if I'm indeed persuaded (as I am) that the Bible allows the moderate use of alcohol as a beverage, dealing with books like those of David Brumbelow.  The reason is simple; it goes well beyond whether one person does, or does not, enjoy wine.  Rather, if I should teach someone that when the Bible says "wine", it does not in fact mean "wine", or worse yet to adopt an hermeneutic of "it means grape juice when it's good, alcoholic wine when it's bad", what I've just done is to teach him to ignore the Scriptures when it's inconvenient to him.

In other words, I've taught him to abandon the historic doctrines of the authority of Scripture and Sola Scriptura.  So to achieve conformity with Victorian/Edwardian culture, the whole of our faith is thrown out.  It's not the only time the Victorians used the social gospel to (inadvertently or intentionally) attack faith--theological liberalism came out of this as well, of course--but it is a case that we ought to remember.  When we try to add things to Scripture, even with the best intentions, we inevitably go wrong.

Really, if the Prohibitionists believe "oinos" or "yayin" are mis-translated, they need to propose a better translation, not tell believers to ignore the one they've got.  But that said, they've got their work cut out for them, as the context in which these words are used makes the definition pretty clear.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016


Check this out; an advertisement for a book endorsing total abstinence from alcohol with a dance track behind it.  I am reminded of a friend who admitted that people took drugs at raves because the music was so bad, so I must contemplate the reality that there is something of a mixed message by Mr. Lumpkin.  Not to mention, there's a bit of inconsistency on the part of those endorsing the book, mostly Baptists who ordinarily....don't dance any more than they admit drinking.

And I've got to remember the tune Lumpkin chose reminds me a lot of this little ditty by the Dead Milkmen.  Somehow it seems a lot more appropriate than it ought to be. 

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

On the "requirement" to be a teetotaler

Obviously, as someone who has written repeatedly about beer, and has even provided a review of a liquid substance claimed by its manufacturer to be beer, I am (obviously) not in the camp of the teetotalers.  But as someone who does love fundamental Christian theology, I do from time to time come into contact with those who would strongly argue for the position of abstinence.

One recent case is that of David Brumbelow's Ancient Wine and the Bible, where the author makes a number of claims to establish the idea that the faithful have always rejected ordinary wine with alcohol.  One of the claims is that, instead of simply crushing the grape harvest and allowing it to ferment in vats or wineskins (Luke 5), the ancients were prone to taking large portions of their grape harvest and boiling it down into a syrup that would keep through the year, then reconstituting it and making a drink from it.

Now there are all kinds of reasons to reject this, including the Bible's silence on this practice (it's never mentioned), the lack of archeological evidence for this practice (large metal pots, etc..), the lack of fuel to do the boiling, the fact that boiling destroys Vitamin C and exposes the drinkers to scurvy, and finally (Luke 5 again) our Savior's notation that new wine would break old wine-skins, and that people preferred the old (drier, more fermented) wine.  Really, any family that decided to do this would give it up when they got scurvy and couldn't bake their bread or keep warm in winter.

But that noted, I decided last night to give it a try to see how it would come out, so I bought a can of grape juice concentrate (the bottles were all Concord grapes, the wrong species of grape), reconstituted it, and boiled it down to slightly less than its original volume--about a fifth of the original.  This is where the sugar concentration inhibits yeast growth, and a little bit lower concentration than you'd need to stop all molds and bacteria--which is why most people refrigerate their jellies, of course. 

What did I find?  You can do it, I guess, and it is a sort of syrup at 75F (but definitely not in the fridge!), though I'd maintain what grandmother would tell you; the pectin in the grapes is going to change the consistency somewhat.  It took about an hour of vigorous boiling on the stove to eliminate about 40 ounces of water from the mix.  If you had a large pot like the one Grandma used to make apple butter, you might boil off a few gallons per hour, but overall, you're talking dozens or hundreds of hours of time in front of a fire in July and August to do this--and you're going to burn a lot of wood.  I estimated about 2kW-H for my experiment, which is about a kG of coal burned.  So for a family's 1 ton grape crop, we're talking about half a cord (100 cubic feet) of wood or so--again, you're going to be working hard to get this much, especially in an arid land like Israel.

Another note; average temperature in Israel in August goes up to 95-100 degrees or more.  How does it sound to stand in front of that vat all day to stir it?  Keep in mind that you could also just put the juice in skins or vats to ferment, or simply dry the grapes on your roof for raisins. 

When reconstituted with some difficulty, it resembles a slightly charred version of KoolAid far more than a 2007 from Gevrey-Chambertin, and it's certain that no wedding host would say it's the best they've ever tasted.  Keep in mind here that the pan I used was an All-Clad--suffice it to say that my heat distribution was better than that of the ancients, so if they did this, their syrup would be quite a bit more charred than mine.

Verdict: it is extremely unlikely that this would have been done on a large scale anywhere around the Mediterranean.  It's not witnessed in Scripture or archeology, it uses too much wood, and it would be a lot of work for the purpose of getting scurvy and water-borne diseases instead of enjoying robust health by eating raisins and having a glass of wine.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Now where will this one go?

According to WND, some school districts in Virginia and Maryland are not only allowing "transgender identifying" students to use a locker room or bathroom that does not correspond with their biological sex, but are also allowing them to share hotel rooms with someone of the opposite sex when teams travel for competition.

When it was just bathrooms and locker rooms, the obvious objection is that it would be conductive to misbehavior by mostly people who are, or should be, on Megan's List.  However, with this development, we'd have to also include "hormone addled teenagers" to the list of those who will use this new rule for their own purposes. 

One would have to wonder whether the school boards of these districts remember their teen years at all.  Maybe too much time in college reliving Woodstock or something?

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

A bit of humor

The claims that Hilliary Clinton's spells of coughing and weakness come from a lack of water seem to suggest that she might be hydrophobic

Folly in defining racism

Here's an interesting study which purports to map "racist" attitudes out by which Presidential candidate is supported, and finds, not surprisingly, that these "racist" attitudes are common across the board.  But looking at the actual categories--intelligence, work ethic, manners, violence and lawfulness--it strikes me that we have federal agencies and federally funded researchers which work to collect verifiable data in all of these areas, or at least reasonable proxies for these characteristics.  Is it then racism to quote, say, the Department of Justice or the NIH?

Apparently so.  Silly me, I had thought that racism consisted in the belief that all members of a given race are distinguished by such characteristics, not that some or the mean was such.  It really illustrates, to hop on a soapbox I use often, the need for people to study logic in school and learn the differences between A and I, E and O premises.   We need to learn, really, how the premiss "white people can't dance" is not completely refuted by Fred Astaire and Donald O'Connor.

But we don't, and as a result, we're increasingly at each other's throats.   Pretty darned sad.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

What has a shorter range than a Tesla?

A Tesla towing an Airstream trailer, of course.  It's a cool gimmick with one of the coolest campers out there, but having towed a camper myself in the past couple of months, the gimmick just raises a lot of questions where I'm sure the answers aren't favorable to Elon Musk.  For starters, how much below the rated miles of ~200-250 would it get--my guess is about 150 miles at best.  Also, what happens to those motors during towing?  High torque and lower airflow is a recipe for overheating, after all.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Seemed appropriate

Yes, I think Mrs. Clinton is nearer pining for the fjords than we'd expected. 

Thursday, September 08, 2016

Brilliance from Brown University

Student representatives have placed feminine hygiene products for free in all campus bathrooms, including men's rooms, to communicate that they are a necessity, and that "not all people who menstruate are women".

Well, yes, I guess they are a necessity for women, but don't these people realize that yes, there is indeed a Wal-Mart in Providence where they can get these products for a reasonable price, and that women have historically purchased their own feminine hygiene products to get the kind they want?  Moreover, if they are really persuaded that people who are not female can menstruate, may I suggest CEB10905, "The Body: An Introduction to Human Anatomy and Physiology"?  They might be interested in knowing that menstruating requires a functional uterus and ovaries, which in turn requires two X chromosomes, which in turn designates a person as "female" or a "woman". 

Or if they have taken such a course, and still labor under the misconception that men sometimes menstruate, it is my plea that they avoid medicine as a career.  It is truly scary that nonsense like this can prosper at an "elite" university.

Wednesday, September 07, 2016

That didn't take long

Todd Starnes reports that the Alliance Defending Freedom is litigating a case where a supposedly "transgender" student is using President Obama's Title IX requirement of allowing the transgender to use restrooms and locker rooms of their choice to....behave in a lewd manner, exactly as any man who has ever been a teenaged boy could have predicted.

Note the comment that when an alternative locker room was offered, half the team used that until....the boy (let's be serious here; he's a boy) showed up there and started behaving lewdly.  So there is a bitter irony that the Obama administration is pushing a policy that poses a serious risk of killing off girls' and women's sports altogether. 

Also to soon be killing off women's athletics is the IOC's way of dealing with the case of those with indeterminate gender (non-xx or xy), as is shown by the run of Caster Semenya in Rio.   If you watch the race, Semenya is wearing more or less a men's uniform and more or less "loiters" with the pack until the last 200 meters, then leaves the pack in the dust like....Jarmila Kratochvilova in 1983

The significance of Kratochvilova is well known to anyone familiar with Eastern European athletics in the 1980s; the all time bests in the 400 and 800 are dominated by eastern Europeans, whereas the 100 and 200 are dominated by women of west African descent, and events over 3000m are dominated by east Africans.   Heavy doses of steroids and other drugs--see the sad case of Heidi Krieger--conferred an advantage not seen since the end of the Warsaw Pact--well, at least not outside of China (where East German coaches went after 1989) and Russia.  The Chinese doping, by the way, seems to have been most effective at 1500 and 3000 meters.

If the IOC, NCAA, and high school leagues want to have women's and girls' sports, they're going to have to come to terms with the fact that high testosterone levels and a male skeleton are indeed real advantages, and preserve women's sports for those with an unambiguous XX in their DNA.  I won't be holding my breath.

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

Separate but equal... apparently now being enforced in housing at Cal State-LA, UC Berkeley, U-Conn, and UC Davis, as Dr. King is (if it were possible) spinning in his grave.  No word yet on whether they're going to go to separate drinking fountains, lunch counters, and the like as well, but word has it that the Obama administration is indeed creating "separate but equal" standards of justice by emphasizing concepts like "disparate impact", worrying extensively about the number of minorities are detained or arrested, but not sweating the fact that the murder rate in his beloved Chicago is up 49% this year, mostly impacting African-Americans.

In 2016 as in 1866, the rush to Jim Crow laws appears to be led by Democrats.

In other news, this is how out of court settlements ought to be: "apology included."  Fox takes a deserved hit for how Gretchen Carlson was treated, but unlike many, the settlement included an apology.

Friday, September 02, 2016

Here's a scary plan

Hilliary Clinton's plan to reduce the cost of epi-pens is quite simple.  Just trust the government to bully the manufacturers!  And by no means will that bullying be harsher on companies that do not make large contributions to the Clinton Foundation--perish the thought!

Nope, decades after I bought my first epi-pen, by no means is it possible that we might have the knowledge to ensure that a company can make one that reliably works.  Certainly it's not as if IV needles are used by millions of diabetics every day or anything like that.  By no means is it possible to figure out what went wrong with one trial that yielded unsatisfactory results, modify the design, and get a new trial done quickly to avoid price disruptions like this. 

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Regrettably, this is satire

Going against type, Congress is said to have prohibited the production of God's Not Dead 3, and has struck a mighty blow against wooden acting, unbelievable characters, and ham-fisted moral messages.

OK, yeah, it would be a complete violation of the 1st Amendment if passed, but at some point, Christian filmmakers need to come to grips with the fact that when I checked, Attack of the Killer Tomatoes scored better than God's Not Dead 2.  It would seem that if Christians really want to engage on the cultural playing field, we've got to get our own versions of vaudeville or community theater going.  I'm going to have trouble doing this, though.

Your "justice" department at work

The September issue of Forbes magazine has an interesting case about the plight of trader Todd Newman, whose insider trading conviction was overturned by a court of appeals, and then the Supreme Court, by refusing to take the case, affirmed that ruling.

What is at stake?  As many who have been "educated" in insider training by their companies know, there is really no actual law around insider trading except a provision in the law to prevent fraud in trading.  Historically, as the article notes, it's punished when the tipper is rewarded for inside information that the company prohibits disseminating--really it depends on what the company decides is illegal use of its information.

For Newman, however, prosecutor Preet Bharara used a novel interpretation that did not prosecute any tippers (there were four layers, something of a "telephone game" tipping), the tip was actually wrong, broke legal ground in using wiretaps and raids, whether Miranda rights were read is disputed, and a 20 minute drive to a courthouse apparently took an hour and a half.  Most importantly, historically it's vital to prove that the tipper and the recipient know that it is nonpublic information obtained illegally, but Bharara and prosecutress Antonia Apps persuaded the judge to ignore this provision.

In other words, Bharara and Apps were making up the law as they went along and using various intimidation tools to try to make it stick.  In the process, they destroyed a company and the careers of many of its employees, depriving at least half a dozen people of years of their lives.

What to do?  Well, given the definition of fraud I've linked above, the question of intent and compensation certainly ought to play a part in insider trading law, and first of all Congress ought to actually define it.   Moreover, since Bharara and Apps apparently forgot their lessons on Article 1 of the Constitution, I'd suggest that at least two other people need to lose their careers as a result of this. 

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

On the death penalty

Jeff Jacoby puts together a string of anecdotal evidence suggesting that indeed, there is a deterrent effect to the death penalty.  While this is significant--anecdotally if not statistically--there remains the question of what deterrent effect would justify the possibility of a wrongful execution.

Now the logic here is macabre, of course, but it's unavoidable; if there is indeed a deterrent effect to any punishment, from a $10 fine to Old Sparky or hanging, and especially if murder is involved, you are talking about the social cost of dead innocents.  So we might argue that if the presence of the death penalty is justified if the overall number of murders drops by more than the number of innocents executed.

We quail at that, but if sheer number of grieving families is our goal, that might be our conclusion, no?  But of course, since we are "wielding the knife", we might say that we'd rather have ten, a hundred, or a thousand innocents die before executing an innocent man...especially in light of the fact that, as things stand, it takes millions of dollars (the work product of another innocent life squandered) to execute a criminal. 

What we ought not say, however, is that the ratio is infinite--that we simply eliminate the death penalty if there is a risk of a single innocent being executed--because there is no such thing as zero likelihood.  Punish perjury and suppression of evidence?  You bet.  Harshly.  But let's not forget that the death penalty is Biblical, and that there is evidence out there that criminals modify their behavior to avoid it.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Why I'll probably never hold elected office

When I heard about the 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick refusing to stand for the national anthem, my response was "meh" to "finally, someone standing--or, rather, sitting--against our nation's sports/civic idolatry!".  While I disagree with Kaepernick's on many things--BLM ideology, tattoos, apparent move to Islam from Christianity, playing for the 49ers--I just can't get all worked up about him sitting through the national anthem.  But obviously, even in San Francisco, this is apparently a big deal with football fans, so I'll probably not do too well in elected politics.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Another solution for Global Warming?

The Babylon Bee reports that the demons in Hell are concerned because the Cubs are 81-45 and are nearly a lock to make the post-season.  I'm thinking that the problem of global warming (and the June Swoon) is solved if they win their first Series in 108 years.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

An alternative view, ecologically

NPR has published something of a radical proposal from a philosopher (note: not a climatologist) who argues that we ought to be putting birth taxes and the like on people who decide to procreate.  (H/t Michelle Malkin)  Now while I understand the motivation, I think there is a lot we can do besides something so draconian, and something that....will imperil the lives of the aged.  After all, if there are no kids around (cue the "Vulgarians" from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang), good luck getting someone to feed us applesauce and Ensure, and clean our Garfield bedpans, no?

To wit, the philosopher claims that the "carbon impact" of a baby is 9441 tons of carbon dioxide, about 5.7 times the actual carbon emissions of an individual in 80 years of life, or about six tons of carbon being burned on behalf of every American man, woman, and child each year of their life.

While this is borne out by EIA numbers for coal, oil, and natural gas production, a look at my own family's consumption says we're simply not doing our share to destroy the earth.  Although we drive an evil SUV and an evil pickup, we don't drive that many miles, keep our house cooler than average, use little air conditioning, and the like. 

Along with plants sequestering carbon through a process called "photosynthesis", it seems that there's a lot that can be done to mitigate carbon emissions (if indeed they are a problem) without government coercion.  And so we have to ask the question; is this about the environment, or expanding the government--which incidentally is (Lake Baikal, Warsaw Pact Superfund zones, etc..) the worst environmental offender of all?

Friday, August 19, 2016

Disparate impact rehashed

An interesting Washington Post column about the efforts by the Department of Justice to end "implicit bias", linked by Powerline, ironically makes the point of critics if one reads it carefully.  That is, the DOJ is more or less rehashing the old 1960s doctrines of "disparate impact" by looking at overall incidence of arrests, etc., and not comparing those arrest rates with things like conviction rates.

In other words, it's a classic error of using the wrong measurement.  If blacks were being victimized, one would anticipate that their portion of arrests and deaths at the hands of police would greatly exceed their portion of convictions, but that is not the case--it's actually the opposite in terms of deaths at the hands of police. 

So what's going on?  Well, in the name of appealing to black voters, the Department of "Justice" is choosing to leave criminals at large in black communities.  With friends like Barack Obama and Loretta Lynch, blacks don't need enemies.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Another triumph of peer review a study that purports to show that Latinos age more slowly than Caucasians.  Now given that a large portion of Latinos are, in fact, Caucasian or mixed-race including Caucasian blood, this is a very interesting way of trying to control an experiment.  When we compare significantly A vs. A, we find that A is different than A.

And apparently nobody called them on a basic violation of the law of non-contradiction, but somebody will probably get their Ph.D. and a professoriate out of it. 

(hint to the professors; you would either map out the "Latino" group by actual racial makeup, or attempt to separate Latinos of southern European descent from Caucasians of northern European descent, if you wanted to differentiate these groups)