Saturday, January 31, 2015

Romney Out

Two-time presidential candidate Mitt Romney has declared himself out of the race for 2016. I believe he made the right choice.

He is a good man who would have been a much better president than our current sad-sack whiner. That said, his backstory makes him hard to elect. 

Romney endorsing public health insurance as governor of MA robs him of the issue of Obamacare, perhaps the single most irritating aspect of the incumbent's tenure. His track record in industry as a cost-cutter turned off white blue-collar voters, an important GOP constituency.

Had Mitt been the nominee against Hillary, the election would have turned into the Retread Bowl - old news vs. old news. My hope is the GOP nominates someone younger who nevertheless has current executive (as opposed to Senatorial) chops, like a successful sitting governor. Examples include Walker, Kasich, and Christie.

Review: Killing Patton

Fox News' Bill O'Reilly and Martin Dugard have written a series of volumes about the killings of historical figures. The latest - Killing Patton - is about the death of General George Patton.

Is it a good read? Yes. Much of the book is truly historical and yet written in a way that makes it pleasant to read, something not always true of such narratives.

Is it totally factual? Maybe. Allegations about the marital infidelities of Generals Patton and Eisenhower and President Roosevelt are treated as established fact when most careful historians would call them "allegations." It was an era when public figures never admitted infidelity, unlike our current casual attitude toward such matters.

The authors also raise the issue of various groups which would be pleased at Patton's death, very pleased in the case of the Russians. They hint at conspiracy, but never draw any conclusions. The authors end up reluctantly implying the car accident that led to his death was probably the result of drunk driving by the joy-riding truck driver who hit his limo. 

My bottom line: it is a fun book but not a great book. A good read but only so-so as history.

Fool Me Twice

There is an old piece of folk wisdom dealing with our need to learn from our mistakes. It is the following:
Fool me once, shame on you.
Fool me twice, shame on me.
When I reflect on President Obama's reelection in 2012, it is clear he fooled the American people twice. I don't blame him for doing so, I blame the voters who allowed themselves to be fooled a second time, clearly not learning from their mistake in 2008.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

About Social Class

Comes along an article for Vox asking how to define what "middle class" is. Forty years ago sociologists had developed sophisticated typologies of social class.

The common three class model of upper, middle, and lower classes simply does not capture the richness of how we experience life in these United States. I prefer a model with 6 or 7 levels, for instance upper-upper, lower-upper, upper middle, middle, lower middle, working, and lower class.

The Vox piece tries to assign income levels to classes, a fool's exercise. Social class has more to do with values and education than with income. There is, of course, a modest positive correlation between class level and income.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Bread Bags for Overshoes

When Peggy Noonan writes from the heart about American lives, few can do it better. Here she picks up a reference Sen. Joni Ernst made in her GOP response to the SOTU.

Blogging for The Wall Street Journal, Peggy remembers growing up in a household where the kids had one pair of shoes at a time. I grew up in such a home, and never felt underprivileged. We didn't need the bread bags in SoCal where rain was as bad as it got, but we had wet feet sometimes.

Facts Subordinate to Narrative

New York Times columnist Charles Blow who is black and opines mostly about black rage, wrote recently about his son being stopped by campus police at Yale where the son is a student. Blow was in high dudgeon about the effrontery of the popo stopping his son merely because he was black.

As the Washington Examiner reports, it turns out the officer who stopped him was also black, as is the campus police chief. Do you suppose black policemen engage in racial profiling? I'll bet they do.

Why am I certain Blow knew of the officer's race and neglected to mention it because it got in the way of a good story? It is too much to hope for that Blow is chagrined about his lapse in journalistic judgment. Nothing embarrasses race hustlers.

Another Slo-Mo Train Wreck

Obamacare is the disaster that keeps on giving. Investors' Business Daily reports the newest bad news:
The Congressional Budget Office now says ObamaCare will push 10 million off employer-based coverage, a tenfold increase from its initial projection.

ObamaCare will be far more disruptive to the employer-based insurance market, while being far less effective at cutting the ranks of the uninsured, than promised.

The CBO promised that ObamaCare would cover 60% of the uninsured. Now it says the program will cover less than half, despite spending $2 trillion to subsidize premiums and expand Medicaid.
Hat tip to for the link.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Political Humor Alert

Headline of a Dana Milbank Washington Post story about malfeasance at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue:
Drones? The White House Is Full of Them
And he actually likes the President, or has in the past.

If You Pay Them, They Will Come

The National Bureau for Economic Research reports research findings show immigrants are drawn to states with higher welfare benefits..Breitbart California has the story.
The National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) determined that “the generous welfare benefits offered by some states have magnetic effects and alter the geographic sorting of immigrants in the United States”– attracting many to California.
They quote NBER as follows:
Much of this clustering is because less-educated immigrants are more likely to live in California than less-educated natives. This is true even within groups of immigrants from a specific nation.
Breitbart continues summarizing Borjas' findings:
Borjas found the same clustering was evident in the numbers for recent female-headed immigrant households with children. Borjas also determined that the clustering in California holds true even if immigrants from countries sending large numbers of refugees to the United States are excluded and if immigrants of Mexican origin are excluded. So the clustering in California cannot be said to be entirely the result of California being adjacent to Mexico, or merely a favorite location for refugees.

According to the NBER, by changing its relative rank in providing welfare benefits, California saw a direct causal increase in the percentages of less-educated immigrants that came to California.
Of course there are other reasons to choose to live in California.

Monday, January 26, 2015

The American Sniper Phenomenon

In a season when Hollywood has been in the doldrums, and movie ticket purchases are down fairly dramatically, comes the phenomenon that is American Sniper. I haven't seen it yet but stories like this from the Associated Press seem to be everywhere, reporting record ticket sales and crowded theaters.

The film gives the anti-gun and peacenik left an enormous pain in the gut. I attribute its popularity to the same factors that made the film Zulu popular with British audiences - the depiction of the violent deaths of lots of alien enemies at the hands of one's own side. What's not to love?

One of the problems our side has faced in The Long War has been a scarcity of obvious victories to celebrate. Every jihadi Chris Kyle wastes is a small victory, worth celebrating even in reenactment.

Fascinating Factoids

The Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics reports several fascinating factoids. Hat tip to and to The Daily Signal for the link.
Public-sector workers had a union membership rate (35.7 percent), more than five times higher than that of private-sector workers (6.6 percent).

Workers in education, training, and library occupations and in protective service occupations had the highest unionization rate, at 35.3 percent for each occupation group.

Black workers were more likely to be union members than were white, Asian, or Hispanic workers.
What you see reflects the great advantage public sector unions provide as their political contributions "buy" the support of legislators, private sector unions confer no such advantage. Second, occupations with the highest participation rates tend to be government jobs.

Third, government has made a concerted effort to hire black workers, while Hispanics whose immigration status, or that of family members, may be less-than-pristine have tended to avoid government jobs. These three apparently independent data points are in fact highly interrelated.

Unemployment Benefits Prolong Joblessness

The Washington Times reports results from an economic study published by the National Bureau of Economic Research. WT writes:
If you pay people not to work, they won’t work — and cutting off their payments sends them scurrying back into the job market, according to new research by three academics who looked at the federal government’s extended unemployment benefit program and concluded that it actually deepened, rather than helped, the jobs recession.

Nearly one million workers who would have sat it out and taken unemployment benefits instead got jobs in 2014 because their benefits ended, the researchers said. And when knock-on effects are included, “nearly all” of last year’s new jobs can be attributed to the end of the federal program.
The NBER study's abstract concludes:
Benefit extensions raise equilibrium wages and lead to a sharp contraction in vacancy creation, employment, and a rise in unemployment (emphasis theirs).
I know an individual who treated extended unemployment benefits as a government-funded "sabbatical" - a mid-career break for personal growth and renewal.

Grief in Greece

In what may be the strongest challenge ever to the euro zone and the EU, the Greeks have elected a government that opposes the austerity and high taxes demanded by its creditors. See the Reuters story on Yahoo News for details.
The decisive victory by Tsipras' Syriza in Sunday's snap election reignites fears of new financial troubles in the country that set off the regional crisis in 2009. It is also the first time a member of the 19-nation euro zone will be led by parties rejecting German-backed austerity.

Tsipras' success is likely to empower Europe's fringe parties, including other anti-austerity movements across the region's economically-depressed south.
They'll be watching closely in economically suffering Spain and Italy.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

An Early Look

It is very early days in the race for the GOP presidential nomination, but at this point I believe my favorite is Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin. His accomplishment in pulling the fangs of the WI public employee unions is simply huge.

As a lifelong government employee I worked at various times for a county, three states (CA, OR, TX), a territory (Guam), the federal government, and a community college district. I believed then, as I do now, that civil servants should not be allowed to unionize.

When the university faculty of which I was a long-time member unionized, I refused to join and paid the mandated-by-law "in lieu" fees instead. Political contributions of public employee unions effectively "purchase" the allegiance of the legislature which then raises their pay and benefits.

This behavior is a massive conflict of interest that should be banned, a view with which Gov. Walker agrees. Curbing the power of public employee unions may not be the sexiest issue facing a new president but it is certainly one of the most important for the future of our nation.

See what Byron York writes about Gov. Walker for the Washington Examiner. Scroll down to No. 6 for that comment. Hat tip to RealClearPolitics for the link.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Quote of the Day

Senator Robert Menendez (D-FL), ranking minority member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, as quoted by Power Line:
I have to be honest with you, the more I hear from the administration and it's quotes, the more it sounds like talking points that come straight out of Tehran.
That's picking the group of crazies who have a large country already because they are marginally less threatening than the other group of crazies who are assembling a country out of parts of Syria and Iraq. That they happen to be enemies of each other is wonderful, that the administration believes it should side with one is nearly as crazy as they both are.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015


The New York Times' Tom Friedman is nobody's idea of a conservative. Yet here he is endorsing the following quote by very conservative Rich Lowry from a Politico article:
The administration has lapsed into unselfconscious ridiculousness. Asked why the administration won’t say [after the Paris attacks] we are at war with radical Islam, Earnest on Tuesday explained the administration’s first concern ‘is accuracy. We want to describe exactly what happened. These are individuals who carried out an act of terrorism, and they later tried to justify that act of terrorism by invoking the religion of Islam and their own deviant view of it.’

This makes it sound as if the Charlie Hebdo terrorists set out to commit a random act of violent extremism and only subsequently, when they realized that they needed some justification, did they reach for Islam.

The day before, Earnest had conceded that there are lists of recent ‘examples of individuals who have cited Islam as they’ve carried out acts of violence.’ Cited Islam? According to the Earnest theory ... purposeless violent extremists rummage through the scriptures of great faiths, looking for some verses to cite to support their mayhem and often happen to settle on the holy texts of Islam.
Friedman concludes by criticizing President Obama for being unwilling to call militant Islam by that name. So Obama knows (or knew) Muslims who were nice people. So what, so do I. It butters no parsnips. Ugly things are being done in their names and they aren't protesting enough.

Review: Inferno

The most recent novel of Da Vinci Code author Dan Brown is Inferno, prominently featuring Dante's poem of that same name. I just finished reading it, courtesy of the Solvang Branch of the Santa Barbara County Library.

Is it a good read? Certainly. Is it at the level of Da Vinci Code? Almost certainly not. As something of a world traveler, I figured out the probable location of the villain's "infernal device" long before protagonist Robert Langdon does. Stop reading here if you wish to avoid spoilers.

My primary concern is with the premise which obsesses the villain - Malthusian overpopulation. This is futurism which has been overtaken by reality unlike that foreseen by the author.

As you know if you've been paying attention, population growth in all developed countries today probably averages zero. Rates in a number of places including Western Europe, Japan and Russia are clearly negative, their populations are shrinking. 

Even in underdeveloped countries birth rates are falling. A more realistic piece of futurism would deal with our species' desperate attempts to convince people to have children. Maybe if we all became Mormons...?

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Questionable Shooting in Argentina

An Argentine prosecutor planned to charge President Cristina Fernandez with shielding Iranian suspects in the bombing of a Jewish cultural center. He was found shot in an apparent staged "suicide"

Par for the course in a country with banana republic politics. See Tom Joscelyn's Weelky Standard article and an Associated Press article for more.

Monday, January 19, 2015


The Boston Globe isn't anybody's idea of a conservative paper, it's owned by The New York Times. That makes the following quote from an opinion piece in the Globe particularly interesting:
Six years on, in many important ways, Barack Obama has become a figure of American disappointment with last week’s inexplicable failure to properly honor the trauma of France only a latest instance of mystifying solecism.

By now even many of his once-passionate admirers admit to a profound disenchantment.
When your friends turn on you, you're toast.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Review: Padington

The DrsC saw the kids' film Padington yesterday. It is an entirely charming way to spend an afternoon. I'm curious how they have the little bear talking and acting like a hyperactive but cute little boy. The method used doesn't look at all like animation, the humans are all live as are the sets. The bear looks real too, but cannot be, obviously.

There are two "name" actors, most notably the evil villain played by Nicole Kidman, looking very fetching and more than a little kinky. The father of the family that takes in Padington is played by the same British actor - Hugh Bonneville - who plays the Earl on Downton Abby

The bear steals the show. You discover you can stretch your imagination to cover a native of "darkest Peru" being at heart the quintesential Brit: polite, mannerly, soft-spoken, and addicted to orange marmalade. And entirely without a Spanish or Quechuan accent. 

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Does Islam Have a Future?

Rachel Lu writes for The Federalist about the dilemma confronting Islam. She says many deeply sensible things about its conflict with modernism. A couple of favorites follow:
We can't hide from the genuine possibility that authentic Islamic adaptation to the modern world may not be an achievable goal.

If Muslims wish to salvage something of their civilization, they need to convince their adherents that there is a way forward for them that does not involve a choice between mass murder and capitulation to the assumptions of the secular world.
Spengler argues we now witness the death throes of the Muslim world, he revels in apocalyptic pronouncements.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Dry Land Diary

Northern California has gotten some decent rain this winter, SoCal not so much. We've been in SoCal for more than two weeks and have seen exactly one rainy day. This, in the season when if rain is going to fall at all, it must happen now.

The reservoir by which our RV park is located is so depleted that acres of lake bottom we've never seen before are bone-dry and growing weeds. We've been coming here for over a decade, and there have been other dry spells but this is the worst we've seen. There is still a lake but it is much diminished.

As CA natives we're accustomed to drought.. The warm, dry winters are a significant part of the state's charm. It's the season when the golden hillsides turn green, the evergreen oaks' leaves are rehydrated, wildflowers bloom, and for a few weeks the ravines become small creeks. 

By late spring the grass is once again golden, riverbeds are dry, and the rain is gone until it returns (some years) in late fall. Other years it shows up only briefly in mid-winter, and another drought is declared. 

The only way CA has managed to thrive in an arid climate is to trap snowmelt from the Sierras for use by city dwellers and agriculture, via reservoirs and aqueducts. In good years there is enough for all, in dry years agriculture gets hurt because cities are where the voters are.

Quote of the Day

George Friedman, of Stratfor writing for RealClearPolitics about the dilemma Muslims pose to secular Europe.
If no one but the gunmen and their immediate supporters are responsible for the action, and all others who share their faith are guiltless, you have made a defensible moral judgment. But as a practical matter, you have paralyzed your ability to defend yourselves. It is impossible to defend against random violence and impermissible to impose collective responsibility.

Not all Muslims - not even most Muslims - are responsible for this. But all who committed these acts were Muslims claiming to speak for Muslims. One might say this is a Muslim problem and then hold the Muslims responsible for solving it. But what happens if they don't?

White Flight

Ron Brownstein writes for National Journal about the major source of GOP gains in Congress.
A majority of the GOP gains since then have come from the Democrats' near-total collapse in one set of districts: the largely blue-collar places in which the white share of the population exceeds the national average.

Republicans now hold an astounding 135-seat advantage (199-64) and fully 76 percent of the House seats in which whites exceed their share of the national population. In 2009, when Democrats last controlled the House majority, the two parties split such seats almost exactly in half, with Republicans holding 132 and Democrats 131.
The process by which the parties continue to move in the direction of becoming "tribal" parties, with the GOP representing whites and perhaps Asians while the Dems represent those nonwhites and whites who believe themselves to be victims, proceeds apace.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Having the Right Data

John Hawkins writes a column at Townhall, here he presents 15 statistics which, he rightly claims, "destroy liberal narratives." I share three favorites below to whet your appetite.
Less than 1 percent of college students are the victim of a sexual assault -- 0.6 percent to be exact -- not to be confused with the 20 percent, or "one in five," claimed by feminists and President Obama.

Gallup found that support for President Obama’s amnesty order was primarily among the foreign born population — whether Latino or not.

Claims that the (wicked, wicked) “1 percent” saw their incomes go up by such and such an amount over the past decade or two ignore the fact that different people compose the 1 percent every year, and that 75 percent of the super-rich households in 1995 were in a lower income group by 2005.

Pew: Majority of U.S. Kids in Broken Homes

The Pew Research Center reports for the first time a majority of American children do not live in what we think of as the traditional home.
Less than half (46%) of U.S. kids younger than 18 years of age are living in a home with two married heterosexual parents in their first marriage. This is a marked change from 1960, when 73% of children fit this description, and 1980, when 61% did, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of recently-released American Community Survey (ACS) and Decennial Census data. 
It is no wonder our society is deteriorating - the wrong people are having most of the children. As a result the U.S. middle class is disappearing. Dysfunctional people have dysfunctional children, soon to be a majority in this forlorn land.

See what Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) says about the importance of the family, as quoted in The Washington Times.
The family is the first and most important institution of our society and it also serves as the foundation of American exceptionalism.
Deterioration of the family is a major reason why our great land is in trouble.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Spengler: The Balance of Fear

David P. Goldman, who channels Spengler, writes for Asia Times about the problem France has with Muslim extremism. His Rx is draconian but makes sense - it remains to be seen if France has courage enough to take the bitter "medicine."
The means by which France, or any other nation, could defeat the terrorists are obvious: to compel the majority of French Muslims to turn against the terrorists, the French authorities would have to make them fear the French state more than they fear the terrorists.

That is a nasty business involving large numbers of deportations, revocation of French citizenship, and other threats that inevitably would affect many individuals with no direct connection to terrorism. In the short term it would lead to more radicalization. The whole project of integration as an antidote to radicalism would go down the drain. The effort would be costly, but ultimately it would succeed: most French Muslims simply want to stay in France and earn a living.
I'm certain civil libertarians believe Spengler's cure is worse than the disease. And they may be correct.

The dilemma is that Muslims are estimated to be 10% of the French population. As a start, the French need to reassert governmental authority in the "no-go" areas where most Muslims reside, in itself a major undertaking.

France also needs to remember the basic rule that applies when discovering one has dug oneself into a hole: stop digging. France needs to turn off the immigration tap, and stop importing trouble. Other nations, including the U.S., should do the same.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

What's Needed

Breitbart London reports the words of the Cameron government's Culture Minister Sajid Javid, a U.K.-born Muslim, concerning terror and Islam.
There is no getting away from the fact that the people carrying out these acts – what we have seen just horrifically this week in Paris, what has happened in London and Madrid – these people call themselves Muslims.

The lazy answer would be to say that this has got nothing whatsoever to do with Islam or Muslims and that should be the end of that. That would be lazy and wrong. You can’t get away from the fact that these people are using Islam, taking a peaceful religion and using it as a tool to carry out their activities.

I think it is absolutely fair to say that there is a special burden on Muslim communities, because whether we like it or not, these terrorists call themselves Muslims. It is no good for people to say they are not Muslims, that is what they call themselves.
We need more of this and less pusillanimity on the part of our elected officials.

Simply Untrue

The common knock on Republicans is that they represent the rich, the top 1%. It turns out it simply isn't true. See what Politico reports about which party the superrich support.
Democrats spent much of the 2014 campaign castigating Republican big money, but, it turns out, their side actually finished ahead among the biggest donors of 2014 – at least among those whose contributions were disclosed.
Truly, Republicans represent those Americans for whom the system works, not the rich but the successful at all levels of society. Conversely, Democrats represent two categories: those who see themselves as victims and the superrich, who feel, probably accurately, their wealth is mostly unearned. Short answer: the hard-working winners vs. the losers and the lucky few.

Quote of the Day

An editorial in the New York Post says it very well:
In the days since masked gunmen claiming they were avenging the Prophet Mohammad killed in cold blood workers at a French satirical magazine, it is astounding how many continue to deny any link between the attack and Islamist extremism.
At COTTonLINE we understand the concern of western political leaders not to force unpoliticized Muslims into the arms of the jihadists; not to make Muslims feel they must choose between their faith and their citizenship responsibilities. On the other hand, publicly ignoring the central involvement of a strain of "crusader" Islam makes these same western leaders look foolish, and much worse, weak.

We need to hear our leaders saying forthrightly that individuals who cannot live peaceably with their neighbors of other faiths are unwelcome in our societies. If such individuals act out their grievances they will be jailed, or deported, end of discussion.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Little Girl as Suicide Bomber

The New York Times reports the Islamic terrorist group Boko Haram has employed a 10 year old girl wearing a hijab as a suicide bomber. She was responsible for killing 20 people and wounding another 18 in a marketplace.

You can imagine Nigeria banning the wearing of the hijab and thereby effectively going to war against its Muslim minority. Boko Haram has already declared war on Nigeria, and historically civil wars are the ugliest and most brutal.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Rove Looks Ahead

Political operative Karl Rove, engineer of the two George W. Bush presidential victories, has written for The Wall Street Journal his predictions for 2015 and an evaluation of how his 2014 predictions turned out. Most of his 2014 projections turned out correct, which makes his 2015 list worth reading.

Three highlights from his 2015 list:
Hillary Clinton will run for the presidency; Sen. Elizabeth Warren, after flirting with the notion, will not. Neither will Vice President Joe Biden, but he will make more gaffes.

A surprising number of prospective Republican candidates will not run or get off the launchpad because of money-raising challenges. It will not take $88 million to win the nomination like it took Mitt Romney in 2012, but it will take close to that sum.

There will be a Supreme Court vacancy in 2015. The court will rule the Affordable Care Act does not allow premium subsidies in states without their own insurance exchanges. Appeals courts will hold the president lacked authority for his executive memos on immigration.
Predicting Joe Biden will continue making gaffes is sandbagging. Biden couldn't quit even if he tried, and he has no incentive to try.


Anjem Choudary, a radical Muslim cleric in London and a lecturer in sharia, writes the following for USA Today.
Contrary to popular misconception, Islam does not mean peace but rather means submission to the commands of Allah alone. Therefore, Muslims do not believe in the concept of freedom of expression, as their speech and actions are determined by divine revelation and not based on people's desires.

Muslims consider the honor of the Prophet Muhammad to be dearer to them than that of their parents or even themselves. To defend it is considered to be an obligation upon them. The strict punishment if found guilty of this crime under sharia (Islamic law) is capital punishment implementable by an Islamic State. This is because the Messenger Muhammad said, "Whoever insults a Prophet kill him."

Why in this case did the French government allow the magazine Charlie Hebdo to continue to provoke Muslims, thereby placing the sanctity of its citizens at risk?
Presuming what Mr. Choudrey writes is accurate, it is unclear how Muslims and Westerners can live in peace in the same nations. They do not share our basic concept of freedom of expression as explicitly stated in the First Amendment to our Constitution. Hat tip to Drudge Report for the link.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Don't Know Much About History

Fox News reports the following President Obama quote, defending the prisoner swap that freed Bowe Bergdahl. Clearly Obama paid no attention to American history growing up, because our country wasn't his country then, and probably never will be.
This is what happens at the end of wars. (snip) That was true for George Washington, that was true for Abraham Lincoln, that was true for FDR. That's been true of every combat situation, that at some point you make sure that you try to get your folks back? And that's the right thing to do.
My argument is not with getting folks back, even if you then courtmartial them as it appears Bergdahl might be. My beef is with Obama's ahistorical view of our past.

By the time Washington became President, all prisoners had long been freed. Neither Lincoln nor FDR lived to see the end of their wars, and thus were not involved in prisoner repatriation.

It is embarrassing when a president shows himself ignorant of the bare outlines of U.S. history. Hat tip to friend Earl for sharing the basic story.

The Satellite Saga

The portable satellite dish goes back to the store, faulty. The two halves of the truncated sphere that make up our portable dish are misaligned. They were that way when it came out of the box.

The Winegard tech who called this a.m. was extremely helpful, so much so that with his coaching, and that of our NorCal RV repair guy, my dear lady fixed the rooftop dish. It is also a Winegard product and now continues to serve us very well.

She climbed on the roof of the RV, removed the dome, found disconnected wires, reconnected them, and now our rooftop dish is working as it should. BTW, this all took hours longer to do than it takes to tell.

If you wonder why I didn't do the climbing and fixing, it is because the other DrC is more agile and spry than I. My job was to serve as ground crew and I did it well, but my climbing-on-rooftops days are behind me, entirely unmourned. I don't love unfenced high places.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Weird Medical Science

You grew up knowing you were more likely to catch a cold in cold weather. Yet we were told over and over that getting cold was unrelated to getting a cold, which disease is caused by a constellation of rhino-viruses.

Dang, I love when it turns out that our common sense was right after all. The Proceedings of the National Academy of Science carries research which found that cold temperatures reduce our nasal immunoresponse and increase the likelihood of a cold virus replicating and causing us the infection we call a cold.

You've heard the saying, "Keep your nose clean?" Keeping it warm might be better advice as it could help ward off colds. Hat tip to RealClearScience for the link.

Feinstein's Failure

Writing for The Washington Post, Marc Thiessen says Democrats totally lost the fight over "torture" of jihadi detainees in Guantanamo and elsewhere in black prisons in accommodating countries. See what he writes:
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who chairs (sic) the Senate intelligence committee, launched a six-year, 6,000-page, $40 million investigation into the CIA interrogation program, with the goal of convincing Americans that a) the program did not work and that b) enhanced interrogations were wrong and should never again be permitted. She failed on all counts.

Just before Christmas, a Post poll revealed the American people’s final verdict. The vast majority agree with the CIA that these techniques were necessary and justified. A majority think that Feinstein should never have released her report. And — most importantly — 76 percent said they would do it again to protect the country.
It should be noted that Sen. Feinstein no longer chairs a committee in the new Republican-majority Senate.

So Typical

Technology can be immensely liberating, enormously frustrating, or both at the same time. The DrsC are hip-deep in an experience of the second in pursuit of the first. In many ways the following tale is a parable for our times.

Because we live in three different rural areas throughout the year, our "cable TV" receiver is a satellite dish. No landline cable is available in any of the three. Currently in our RV, we discovered after reaching our winter destination that our automatic satellite-finding dish system is broken and won't look for the satellite signal. 

No local repair person is willing to work on it, and we were advised to buy a portable unit to use in lieu of the broken one. This we have done. 

Set-up of the portable unit is described by the manufacturer - Winegard - as "easy." Let's be generous and call that an exaggeration.

We spent several hours yesterday on the phone with the satellite signal provider trying to get it to work - no luck so far. The saga continues today when we will call Winegard to see what they suggest. More later....

Sunday, January 4, 2015

President al-Sisi Has Courage Aplenty

Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi made a speech recently upon which PJ Media's Roger Simon comments with considerable approval. As I read the speech excerpts I echo that approbation. See some key quotes:
It’s inconceivable that the thinking that we hold most sacred should cause the entire umma [Islamic world] to be a source of anxiety, danger, killing and destruction for the rest of the world. Impossible!

That corpus of texts and ideas that we have sacralized over the years, to the point that departing from them has become almost impossible, is antagonizing the entire world.

Is it possible that 1.6 billion people [Muslims] should want to kill the rest of the world’s inhabitants—that is 7 billion—so that they themselves may live? Impossible!
Many have had those thoughts; few in positions of influence and power have been brave enough to enunciate them in a public forum.

Live Better in a Red State

If you can credit it, someone writes for The New York Times about life being better in Red States than in Blue States.
Red states, like Texas, Georgia and Utah, have done a better job over all of offering a higher standard of living relative to housing costs. (snip) Red state economies based on energy extraction, agriculture and suburban sprawl may have lower wages, higher poverty rates and lower levels of education on average than those of blue states — but their residents also benefit from much lower costs of living. For a middle-class person , the American dream of a big house with a backyard and a couple of cars is much more achievable in low-tax Arizona than in deep-blue Massachusetts. As Jed Kolko, chief economist of Trulia, recently noted, housing costs almost twice as much in deep-blue markets ($227 per square foot) than in red markets ($119).
Housing costs in TX, when we lived there briefly a decade ago, were unbelievably cheap. In 2003 one could buy a new home on a city lot in a Dallas suburb for less than $100K.

The article's author says red states sponge off the largess of blue states. In this allegation I do not concur. Choosing not to enable poverty and sloth while at the same time having jobs for those who will take them is simply a superior economic strategy.

Weird Oceanic Science

Drilling in the "blue hole" off the coast of Belize confirms earlier findings that the Central American civilization of the Maya was likely done in by a prolonged drought. See a CNN article for details.

Most of their cities were abandoned some 1200 years ago. It turns out the ratio of titanium to aluminum in sea bottom sediments suggests how vigorous the rains were in various historic periods.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Fun with Stereotypes

Jonah Goldberg writes for National Review about who is running the country.
The Wall Street Journal is read by the people who run the country. The Washington Post is read by people who think they run the country. The New York Times is read by people who think they should run the country. USA Today is read by people who think they ought to run the country but don’t really understand the New York Times. They do, however, like their statistics shown in pie-chart format. The Boston Globe is read by people whose parents used to run the country, and they did a far superior job of it, thank you very much. And so on.

The list gets updated from time to time, and it usually includes, “The National Inquirer is read by people trapped in line at the grocery store.” You get the point.

But the joke is on us. You see, no one is running the country.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

The Rose Parade

I just finished watching the Rose Parade, more formally known as the Tournament of Roses, on ABC. My preference has been to watch it on Home and Garden TV, a cable channel that has in the past provided continuous coverage with no commercial interruptions.

That choice wasn't available to us this year as our satellite system is "down." We were limited to broadcast TV and further limited by our rustic location to Santa Barbara's local ABC station, KEYT.

ABC did an ok job of what they put on-screen, but they left out many perennial features of the parade - equestrian units, the Salvation Army marching band, functionaries in white suits, possibly half the floats, etc. They had to be selective as broadcast time was limited and they needed to carve out room for ads, station breaks and happy BS among the on-screen commentators.

These 3 worthies tried hard to make this year's "theme" an important part of the story. As usual they failed and wasted much scarce airtime in the attempt.

My professional societies had the same habit of selecting an entirely pointless "theme" for each meeting. The purpose of the meeting was always exactly the same: get away from campus routine for a few days, present and hear papers, check out the job market, and reconnect with friends and mentors.

In either case picking an annual theme is doing the same thing over and over while expecting a different outcome. That's how Einstein defined insanity.

By the way, Pasadena is experiencing a cold morning, above freezing but not by a lot. The cold was good for the flowers but tough on the spectators, especially those who camped out at curbside overnight to get prime seats for the spectacle. Pasadena could use some of that often-promised-but-rarely-delivered global warming.