Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Happy Reformation Day!

First of all, a link to the 95 Theses.  Thank you, Martin, and thank you, Gene Veith.

And if you're observing Halloween--"which is Irish, by the way"--a little bit by Remy about the most terrifying thing about the holiday; you might be triggered.  H/T Powerline.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Back to theology

This column is very interesting; more or less, it chronicles a group of men I'd characterize as "rules fundamentalists" and how they approach some issues of personal behavior.  More or less, you've got beer-drinking, beard-wearing, cigar-smoking "young, restless and Reformed" men talking about how they can enjoy pop culture on the one side, and on the other, you've got rules fundamentalists arguing that all this is evidence of being worldly.  The links are informative, ....sad to say.

Why "sad to say"?  Simple.  In general, the fundamental side of the argument is simply assuming that it's wrong to drink alcohol, smoke tobacco, listen to heavy metal or rap music (especially as part of church services), get a tattoo, view an R rated movie, and the like.  On the flip side, the Reformed side seems to be, to an extent, simply assuming their permissibility. 

The closest I saw the "rules fundamentalists" come to an argument is to assume that heavy metal and rap are driven by drugs.  OK, so we have a guilt by association fallacy that ignores that a fair number of rappers and heavy metal musicians are in fact teetotalers, but more importantly, if we do guilt by association, it's going to get very quiet in church when every musical genre contaminated by drunks, stoners, fornicators, and the like is eliminated.

It's not a surprise, to put it mildly, that such a discussion doesn't go anywhere, and it's objectively harmful to Christians to have rhetorically vacuous arguments presented by so-called theological leaders.  If they can't adhere to Informal Logic 101 when it comes to hot button issues they've theoretically done a lot of thinking on, that is going to inform the response when they attempt to preach on the arcane details of Hebrews or Obadiah, or delve into prophecy. 

There may be good, sound arguments for and against all of these issues, and I'd love to hear and read them.  Sad to say, I haven't, by and large.

Note: I refer to "rules fundamentalists" instead of "legalists" because few people who like their rules would fess up to trusting in them for their salvation.

Green cars? Not so fast

Now the report here from Xinhua is not exactly scientifically written, but apparently a study done by the Australian Automobile Association indicates that hybrid cars are typically using about 59% more fuel than advertised.  You can also find it from ABC in Australia and other sources.  The environmental lobby of course denies the claims and blames lax sulfur standards in Australian petrol for the issue, but the ugly reality is that AAA has their data, and they're standing by it.

Now that doesn't indicate that your neighbor is not in fact getting 50mpg in his Prius, but it does suggest that the regulators--at least Aussie regulators--are not doing terribly well in correlating laboratory tests to real world conditions.  This is really the same thing that European and U.S. regulators learned about the VW TDI diesels.  By the time regulators figured out that the engine was (ironically) burning rich to pass NOx emissions standards, millions of vehicles had been sold worldwide.  When getting around environmental rules is worth billions, you will find carmakers hiring smart engineers to do exactly that.

One might figure that a smart approach might be to simply shift the tax burden from the income tax to consumption taxes and let people make their own decisions.   I'm guessing that upon receiving the bill, people just might do what it takes to make things cleaner on their own.  We might even find that GE would stop sending a chaser plane after Jeff Immelt's private jet.  (yeah, Jeff, we totally believe you when you say you believe in global warming with that one)

One other place I'd love to see some work; I would love to see what happens to CO production by hybrid cars.  The catalytic converter works best when hot, so it stands to reason that if you're turning the engine on and off, you're going to be having nice bursts of CO emissions as that vehicle--say a Prius taxicab in New York City, Houston, or LA--goes about its daily rounds.  You've also got the reality that engine tolerances, and hence hydrocarbon (lubricating oil) emissions, will also change/increase with this thermal cycling.

Yes, I'm saying that it's possible that the hybrid requirements in NYC are making the air dirtier there.  Wouldn't that be ironic?

Friday, October 27, 2017


Back in my school days, I participated a bit on my school's speech and debate team, and on the more debate side of things, one of the things we knew was that U.S. News > Time >>> Newsweak.  Newsweak was, more or less, a step up from The National Enquirer, Vogue, or the Weekly World News, but it was not a real source you'd want to cite in competition.

Fast forward to today, and the Newsweak of old looks like The Economist in comparison.  How so?

They actually printed this article, which asks why all of the "conservative loudmouths" are Irish-American.  Not only is this rather crude and bigoted, but it suggests that the author is apparently unaware of non-Irish (except on St. Patty's Day of course) and vocal conservatives like Rush Limbaugh, Michelle Malkin, Michael Savage, Larry Elder, Walter Williams, Jonah Goldberg, and a host of others.  "Professor" Van Gosse's students need to know that apparently, he lives under a rock and has no understanding of the thinkers of the past 40 years.  Tuition refunds at Franklin & Marshall are in order.

Happy Belated birthday....

...to a future prison inmate.  Lord willing, you'll be able to write her at 1000 University Drive SW, Waseca, MN 56093.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Just make a scene

Larry Elder recounts his experience with Harvey Weinstein.  No, he didn't grope Elder or worse, but in an exchange over the issue of the Iraq war, Elder arguably got the better of Weinstein by making a scene and not backing down.

Now Pervert Pig is probably going to be porcus non grata in Hollyweird for the foreseeable future, but those who'd like to stop future sexual predators there and elsewhere have a script for how to deal with such chazzerim.  You make a scene.  Your girlfriend gets groped by a producer?  Make sure he gets embarrassed in front of his peers; don't just whisper that he'd better not do that again.  And yeah, if he tries being the bully, making him look like this attempted robber might not be a bad idea, either.  I'm not one for watching awards shows, but maybe if they started looking a little bit more like this, I could find some time, especially if Porcus Maximus was playing the part of Will Danaher.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

A good sign

Michelle Malkin reports that it's not just Harvey Weinstein facing the music for his past behavior, but also Terry Richardson.  More or less, what is going on is that people are realizing that the behavior of both is classic "grooming", humiliation of the actress or model so that they will be willing to participate in ever more degrading movies, pictures, and the like.  In other words, what you see in the image is what that woman has already experienced in real life from producers, directors, photographers, and the like.  Yes, there are exceptions, but the widespread accusations, and the simple proverb "casting couch", suggest that this is the rule.

Great thinking on the left!

Newsweak now has an article noting that former Hilliary press secretary Brian Fallon is noting that if Trump is removed from office, the money Hilliary's campaign paid for it will be worthwhile.

Yeah, I'm sure the report will be tremendously helpful, given that one of the most sensational claims in it, that Trump lawyer Michael Cohen met with Russian agents in Prague, could have been refuted by a simple review of Cohen's passport records.  Interestingly, instead of finding that the report was a nice pile of fertilizer, former FBI head James Comey appears to have agreed to pay to continue the work.  Kudos to Fallon as well for admitting that the whole deal was a Nixonian dirty trick, and this should result in the resignation of Robert Mueller and his entire team, hopefully to be followed by indictment for James Comey, who knew exactly where these allegations were coming from, and why they were nonsense.

Update: great thinking on the right, where Arizona Senator Jeff Flake is arguing that "enough is enough", backed up by his...retirement from the Senate.  Seems to me that if Flake really believed that enough is enough, he'd try to keep his seat so he could vote on a conviction in impeachment proceedings, but apparently "logic" and "Constitutional law" are not among his considerations here.

Quick note for Republicans

Yes, the President has a penchant for picking fights.  Yes, at times he has a tenuous relationship with the truth.  Yes, his personal life has been nothing short of tacky.  But that said, he's done more conservative things in a few months than you guys have done in years, and it's time we remember the 11th Commandment given by Reagan.  We do ourselves no favors, when concerned about going into the muck, by doing so ourselves.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Oh, my.

Race hustling poverty pimp Jesse Jackson has compared playing in the NFL to antebellum slavery.  Because obviously, a guy who earns as much playing a couple hours of a kids' game as most of us get paid for our whole lives' work has everything in common with people who worked 12 hour days in the hot sun all their lives without ever receiving a paycheck.  Driving an Escalade with 20" spinners (or whatever NFL players drive today) to the nightclub is just like knowing that if you're not where you're supposed to be, slave-catchers are going to be after you with bloodhounds and shotguns.  Hitting an air conditioned weight room to gain necessary strength is just like being whipped by an overseer, I'm sure.

Yes, there are real problems with the NFL, and I'm no huge fan of playing the national anthem before each gladiatorial contest in the Circus Maximus to begin with, and certainly we can do better to protect the rights of all people suspected or accused of crimes.  That noted, to act as if there has been no progress in civil rights over the past 150 years, even as measured by the status of professional games-players, suggests that when it comes to serious progress in race relations, this one will only come out with prayer and fasting.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Some proverbs of parenthood

Taking the lead of sister Elspeth, here are a few things I've been known to say to my kids.  Why do I share them?  Simply because many of us need to be encouraged to say the "hard" things that really do benefit their kids, I guess.

The white line is your friend--to remind kids to bike at the side of the road and not in the flow of traffic.

The job is done when the job is done, not when you think you've done your share.

If a guy needs to see every curve of yours to figure out whether you're attractive, he's not husband material.  And to the boys: No, this doesn't mean you're mentally undressing her.  It means you ought to be able to get enough information from her silhouette, posture, walk, and smile.

You can learn to motivate yourself, or you can work for someone else who will motivate you...in exchange for a large share of the wage you otherwise would have earned.  (being managed requires a lot of resources...)

You are going to be doing housework all your life--you might as well get used to it and good at it now.

We are not the Queen of England--you do not need a new outfit for every occasion.  (obviously more of an issue with my daughters than sons)

All four food groups, kids.  (yes, as the son of a dietician, I'm still using the food advice I learned when young....unlike "MyPlate", it works)

The car is not moving until your dogs get water and a walk. 

Eat the live toad first. (obviously I borrowed this one; do the difficult, distasteful task first)

I told you to do something, not to discuss the matter.

I meant now, not when you get around to feeling like it.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

A gift from above,

...if only the President and Jeff Sessions will use it.  Powerline/The Hill report bombshell revelations that the FBI (then headed by none other than Robert Mueller) had credible evidence of Russian assaulted U.S. uranium companies as early as 2010, and knew as well of Russian contributions to Hilliary Clinton's foundation soon after. 

Which would mean that none other than Robert Mueller has known for seven years that there was Russian involvement in U.S. politics, and did nothing to prosecute those involved--presumably because it would have embarrassed his boss and the Secretary of State.

If there is anything to this, sounds like time to put Mr. Mueller, and a bunch of other guys, on the other end of an investigation than the place they currently occupy.  Is there anyone affiliated with the Obama administration who doesn't belong in jail?  Nobody comes to mind right now.

What those chazzerim are about

I was thinking about the flurry of accusations against Harvey Weinstein, and one thing that strikes me is that most of them are young, up and coming actresses.  Looking at a list of the movies he's produced, it strikes me that what is likely going on is called "grooming", and one wonders how many R rated movies simply couldn't have been made without training actresses to accept it via the casting couch.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017


Hilliary Clinton has claimed that James Comey put a "shiv" into her campaign last year.  Of course, left unnoted by others is that a "shiv" or "shank" is an improvised knife used by prison inmates.  Confession by Hilliary about where she and Comey both belong?  I think so.

Electric car industry news

Tesla shows how it's not supposed to by done by firing hundreds of workers as part of their annual review process.  As if it's not stressful enough already, Musk forgets that one ought to minimize nasty surprises in annual reviews, and one has to wonder what Deming would have said about this--given that he famously called annual reviews one of the seven deadly diseases of mis-management, I am guessing that he'd have struggled to keep comment on Musk's move suitable for a family newspaper.

Worth noting as well is that Tesla achieved $7B of revenue with 33000 employees in 2016, whereas GM achieves $166 billion in sales with only 215000 workers.  So Tesla definitely needs some headcount reduction if they don't massively increase sales--and I would further posit that this employee bloat might have something to do with the massive subsidies Tesla receives at the federal, state, and local levels.

Also of note is this (very sympathetic) article about how the batteries on the Nissan Leaf seem to be at about half capacity at about 90,000 miles, or the equivalent of about 1300 full recharges with its 73 mile range.  If we round up to 100k miles life for a battery pack--we will assume the driver is a true masochist who doesn't mind recharging every 30 miles or so--we then find that the ~ 10000 pounds of carbon dioxide produced to make the batteries--and arguably the ~15000 pounds of carbon dioxide for the car itself--are spread not over 150k miles, but over 100k miles.  Not too many people are going to spring for a $6500 repair on a subcompact vehicle with 100k miles, after all. 

Which means before we ever start counting the electricity to charge the vehicle, we're talking about .25 lbs of carbon dioxide per mile emitted--50% higher for the Tesla.  Add the 0.2 (Leaf) to 0.4 kW-H (Tesla) electricity (from coal), and you've got a total emissions per mile on average of about 0.7 to 1.3 lbs of carbon dioxide per mile.  With natural gas for power, you're still looking at 0.5 to 1 lb/mile, really the same range as a standard gasoline powered vehicle....of a much larger size.

Reefer Happiness

A study has found that opioid deaths in Colorado dropped sharply--by about 180/year--after marijuana was legalized.  Now I'll concede that the graph in the article is a bit too "clean" for my taste--real data rarely looks that obvious--but if you scale for population (1 in 60 Americans live there), you would suggest that legalizing the drug nationwide could save over ten thousand lives per year.

I used to be a prohibitionist, but if the data hold up, I can get behind that, even if I have to deal with a few stoners as a result. 

Thursday, October 12, 2017

It bears repeating

The Nation argues that huge policy changes are needed because 20 wealthy people own as much wealth as nearly half of Americans.  Me?  I'll do the math.

The article notes that these 20 people--really 20 families with ~ 50 people--control something like $732 billion in assets.  The article claims that 57 million households with 152 million people control less wealth than this.

Doing the math, we would see this amounts to just short of $5000/person, or about $13000 per family.  In other words, mean family wealth among the 1st-48th percentiles of our country is apparently about the same as the value of a good used car--in a country where almost all households own at least one vehicle. 

In other words, the problem is that for whatever reason, half the country really needs to discover what Walter Williams, Dave Ramsey, and others have been teaching for years.  Government's role is, sadly, mostly negative, as it prioritizes present consumption over savings and capital formation. 

Not denounced anymore?

This column by Jay Nordlinger suggests that unearthing mass graves left behind by Josef Stalin, and giving those whose bodies are interned there a reasonable memorial, is a "crime" for which a dissident named Yuri Dmitriev is being persecuted.  Now process that a minute; nobody in Germany raises a fuss if someone unearths evidence of the crimes of Hitler.  Nobody in Italy raises a fuss when someone produces more evidence of the crimes of Mussolini.

But in Russia today, evidently the minions of Vladimir Putin are seeing the memory of the world's second nastiest mass murderer (after Mao, by the way) as something inviolate.  It makes one wonder if Kruschev's denunciation of Stalin in the 1950s was just for show. 

Did the Soviet Union really crumble, or did it reorganize?  Evidence suggests that it's in the process of reorganization--this case, the rampant drug use among Russian athletes, and more. 

Monday, October 09, 2017

Want single payer health insurance?

Maybe, maybe not.  This article indicates that Britain's National Health Service has mandatory delays of up to a year for those patience deemed too fat--measured by BMI.  Moreover, half of medical residents in the country are quitting before they graduate.  One would infer that if you want to, you know, actually get healthcare, the NHS model is about the last place you'd want to look. 

And in the world of international weapons agreements, a German source indicates that the Iranians have tried to illegally procure technology useful for making things like ICBMs.  Maybe, just maybe, it's time to declare the Obama plan a dream and let the fur fly.  Far better to do so now than when they can fight back with a nuke, and if the Russians object, remind them that if they can hit Jerusalem, they will be able to hit Moscow, too.

Finally, some good news.  I've been something of a fan of runner Galen Rupp ever since he slowed to make sure training partner Mo Farah was OK after they'd collided, and it's good to see that he's followed up on his bronze medal in the Olympic Marathon in 2016 (and silver in the 10k in 2012) with a win in the Chicago Marathon

Friday, October 06, 2017

And some moderately good news

President Trump has greatly expanded the pool of companies allowed to omit contraceptive, plan B, sterilization, and IUD** coverage from health insurance, thus ending one of his predecessor's nastier examples of regulatory vandalism, the "you have the fun, we bill a nun" policy.  It's not quite as good as a full repeal of the regulation--my view is that any man who can't come up with $10/month for contraception really ought to be celibate--but it is a start.

** IUDs can interfere with implantation, and thus are not contraceptives.

Thursday, October 05, 2017

More fake news

Newsweak has come out with a "study" from Formswift that purports to show that the cost of President Trump's travel, said to be $32 million so far, would pay for 128 trips to and from Puerto Rico with supplies.  They do so simply by calculating the...cost of the fuel per trip, as if there is no expense for rent of the ships, crew expenses, loading, unloading, and the like.  They also use a unit of "ships", as if ocean transport is a one sized fits all equation, and not a reality of vessels of many different sizes, speeds, efficiencies, and the like.

By that logic, my driving expenses are only ten to twelve cents per mile, but as one who actually maintains a family budget, I know I'm actually getting off pretty cheaply at about four times that amount.  One would figure that a business would be able to figure out that there is more than one item on the debit or cost side of the spreadsheet, especially given that one of their products is, ahem, spreadsheets, but that would, apparently, be too much to expect of a liberal, politically driven company from San Francisco.

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Watch out, Gino

A Swiss man's Jack Daniel's flag has been mistaken for an ISIS flag by worried neighbors.  According to this article, he was flying the Italian flag below a Jack Daniels flag in Switzerland, so naturally I have to wonder if he's related to Gino.  So for those who might be confused, this is the Jack Daniels flag.

Now there seems to be some similarity to the ISIS flag, starting with large script above a circle with smaller script in it, but....I would have expected people in Switzerland to be able to recognize a western European font and realize that someone flying the flag of "Jack Daniel's" just might be a fairly unlikely Islamist.  On the light side, you'll see a lot of amusing pictures if you google "ISIS Flag". 

On the Supreme Court's "gerrymandering" case

Here's a great article, courtesy of National Review, on the issues before the Supreme Court in the case that seeks to ostensibly "ban" gerrymandering.   More or less, it seeks to enshrine the principle of "proportional representation" so that states can be compelled to get a bunch of districts which are split about as evenly as possible between supporters of either party.  Historically, on the other hand, districts were chosen to be as homogeneous as possible--with the result that the choice in many districts choose "which kind of Republican or Democrat" instead of a Republican or a Democrat.

There are two graphs which illustrate the problems.  First, you've got the lines in Wisconsin, which follow city and county boundaries pretty well and are reasonably geographically compact.  The other example is the gerrymanders of Chicagoland, where inner city neighborhoods are lumped in with the suburbs, and city and county boundaries are not honored.

I can see a bunch of problems with Chicago's plan, starting with the fact that suburban residents in Illinois District 1, might not feel safe campaigning in most of the district--and the district's length (40 miles in Chicago traffic) makes campaigning difficult for all.   The next objection is that it really prevents people who differ politically from gaining office; both the South Side of Chicago and the far more conservative suburbs and rural areas in the district are cheated this way. 

Finally, it's worth noting that when districts are fairly evenly divided between the two major parties, that increases the likelihood that precincts like Burr Oak will decide elections--always a problem in Chicagoland, sad to say.

Really, what's at stake here stems mostly from the fact that many on the far left cannot even stomach the possibility of living in our midst, and thus segregate themselves into urban and university enclaves.  So while they tend to elect Minnesota's state bird, there are far fewer than there would be if leftists could learn to tolerate others.

Hopefully the Supreme Court makes the right decision, and helps keep the loons in the lake where they belong.

How to control illegal immigration...

...even if Congress never gets around to putting a reasonable barrier on our southern border?  Simple.  Fine companies who hire illegal immigrants heavily.   Tree trimming company Asplundh has learned the hard way, to the tune of $95 million, that hiring those who don't have a right to work here can be a very expensive way of saving money. 

I still advocate at least a vehicle barrier on the border, and a fence where practical, but at the same time, you've got to see what you can do about the "demand" side of the supply and demand graph for illegal immigration.  Well done, Mr. President.

Monday, October 02, 2017

Thoughts on the Las Vegas atrocity

Yes, it's a little bit early to say much--apparently we don't even know what the shooter's motivations were yet--and of course some have said that it comes down to having more gun control.  Of course, the kind of gun used last night has been banned since 1934, so maybe double-banning it will help?

For my part, though, what comes to mind is that churches I've attended, including the one I'm a member of now, have security teams whose task is to wander around the building while it's being used to watch for things going awry.  My pastors simply know that if things get out of hand, people simply won't come back. 

And as such, it strikes me that if the hotel in Las Vegas had had the same kind of thing going on, the police likely would have found the shooter much more quickly, possibly saving a number of lives.  Yes, you've got the cultural issue of "what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas" and all that, but on the flip side, the city can only afford so many disasters before people start wasting their hard-earned money spending their vacation dollars somewhere else.

Really, if sending a hotel employee to discreetly walk through the halls every 10-15 minutes would put that much of a crimp in their style, that's all the more reason to do so.