Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Nicaragua News

The legislature in Nicaragua is considering a rule change to enable President Daniel Ortega to run for reelection indefinitely. As Reuters notes in this story for Yahoo News, the move "has stoked concerns about democracy in the Central American country."

Heaven forbid Ortega should have to become Nicaragua's caudillo emeritus when Cuba's Fidel Castro lingers into senility.

Egypt Nears Civil War

Jihadis assassinated a high-ranking member of the Egyptian military, see the Reuters story at Yahoo News. This most populous of Arab countries is sidling toward a civil war in which quarter will be neither expected nor given.

Egypt cannot raise enough food for its people, and has only the Suez Canal and tourism as sources of foreign exchange. Violence dries up tourism. The situation in Egypt can become a real horror show ... ethnic cleansing and starvation, hand in hand.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Weird Political Science

Gerrymandering is often blamed, or credited, with the GOP majority in the House of Representatives. Oddly, The New York Times reports the results of research which suggests that isn't what's happening.

Jowei Chen and Jonathan Rodden find that the House composition would be very little different if House districts were designed in a nonpartisan fashion by computers. Apparently Democratic voters live in very high concentrations so that they win their districts overwhelmingly, whereas the Republicans are more spread out and win their districts by smaller margins.

Quote of the Day

Erick Erickson, writing for Fox News, about why he doesn't plan to watch tomorrow's State of the Union address:
A thin-skinned amateur who has been in office six years and still can’t grasp how to do his job will stand before an even more thin-skinned Parliament of Whores and tell them he does not need them, while knowing he really does need them, while none of them truly want to be with each other, and all have lawyers ready to go bow before the black robed masters who’ll sit stone faced at the front of room knowing they really rule the joint.
Dang, that is a long sentence. I wish I could honestly say his evaluation is overly negative.

War Zones Are Dangerous

The New York Times reports the Afghan government is upset that their civilians are sometimes killed in air strikes. It is dangerous to live in a war zone, which Afghanistan clearly is.

In the absence of the military activity that has been ongoing for the past decade, the present Afghan government wouldn't even exist. The Taliban or some collection of warlords would be running that dump of a country.

The other DrC and I shake our heads at this bizarre notion of "humane warfare" that the press seems to believe is possible. I hear in it echoes of the "one hand tied behind" policies pursued by President Johnson in the Vietnam War.

It was crazy then, it is just as insane today.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Noonan: Nobody's Listening

Contemplating the chore of listening to yet another Obama State of the Union speech to the Congress and the nation, The Wall Street Journal's Peggy Noonan pronounces a verdict on the first five years:
Looking back on this presidency, it has from the beginning been a 17,000 word New Yorker piece in which, calmly, sonorously, with his lovely intelligent voice, the president says nothing, or little that is helpful, insightful or believable.
Getting down to particulars, Noonan observes of Obamacare:
The program was passed only with the aid of a giant lie. Now everyone knows if you liked your plan, your doctor, your deductible, you can't keep them. When the central domestic fact of your presidency was a fraud, people won't listen to you anymore.
I will not listen Tuesday night; I will likely read it on Wednesday.

Death Panels in U.K.

COTTonLINE has written before about the inevitability of so-called "death panels" in a single-payer health care system. In order to hold down costs government cost-benefit decisions will be made about who does and does not get expensive treatment.

See an article in the U.K.'s Daily Mail about the operation of this kind of decision process in that country's National Health Service. Apparently the NHS has decided not to aggressively treat elderly cancer patients.

Some of this has been considered or tried in Oregon's Medicaid program. I've not seen published results of their outcomes.

Benghazi Bites

You remember, of course, the firefight in which the U.S. Ambassador to Libya and three others were murdered by anti-American jihadis? Fox News is out with a poll which shows that 59-60% of Americans blame President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for the debacle at Benghazi.

Essentially, the blame comes from providing inadequate security support before the fact, and failing to send special forces when the attack occurred. Only one poll respondent in five held both leaders blameless.

The obvious question is the extent to which this blame contaminates Secretary Clinton's chances of (a) becoming the Democratic nominee in 2016 and (b) winning the presidential election. What Fox didn't ask, or at least didn't report, is the degree to which people actually care about Benghazi.

Weird Archaeological Science

Was Noah's Ark actually just an oversized, waterproof basket or coracle? Somebody has found a clay cuneiform tablet which takes the Noah-type story back some 4000 years, according to an article in The Atlantic.

The DrsC have seen small coracles being constructed in Vietnam, where they are used by fishermen to pole out to their fishing boats moored just offshore. I seriously doubt the feasibility of scaling up coracle design to the "two-thirds the size of a soccer field" described in the article.

Animals with hoofs would punch right through the bottom of a coracle. I believe we have a 4000 year old fairy tale or parable documented here.

21st Century Flying Dutchman

Apparently there may be a new "ghost ship" sailing the Atlantic. This one is supposedly overrun with starving, cannibal rats.

The Lyubov Orlova is a Russian cruise ship with a less-than-stellar record that appears to be (or at least was) drifting in the North Atlantic after losing its towline while being towed to a scrapyard. See an ABC News article.

The DrsC saw the Lyubov Orlova at the dock in St. Johns, Newfoundland, Canada a year or two ago. She'd been tied there for many months, rusting quietly, caught up in a bankruptcy mess we were told.

They finally sold the Lyubov Orlova for scrap, but she shook her leash and went a-roving. The sea does strange things. The story in The Scotsman has more detail.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Noonan: Why We Buy Guns

The Wall Street Journal's Peggy Noonan writes about the overwhelming tidal wave of selfishness which characterizes our nation's politicians. She identifies a nontrivial unintended consequence:
We're in a crisis. We've been in it since at least 2008 and the crash, and the wars. We are in unprecedented trouble. Citizens know this. It's why they buy guns. They see unfixable America around them, they think it's all going to fall apart.

In Washington (and New York) they huff and puff their disapproval: Those Americans with their guns, they're causing a lot of trouble. But Americans think they're in trouble because their leaders are too selfish to face challenges that will do us in.
Our current political climate feels long-term unsustainable. I am reminded of economist Herbert Stein's Law: If something cannot go on forever, it will stop. In this case the "it" is our political system, when it stops people want to be able to protect themselves and their families.

Barone: Global Cooling?

Two days ago, on Saturday, we wrote about today's so-called "solar lull" during which there are few-to-no sunspots, citing a short BBC News article. Today we see the same discussion at greater length from Michael Barone, writing for the Washington Examiner.

Barone makes the point we made, that the sun's impact on the climate is overwhelmingly greater than anything done by man. I'd add that it's much greater than anything of which man is capable, short of a global nuclear war. I'd rather not discover how that doomsday scenario would play out, both climatewise and otherwise.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

GOP Chances in 2016 Are Good

Professor John Sides writes for the Washington Post that Republicans are being too gloomy about their chances at winning the presidency in 2016. His predictive model says that, if the economy is no better in 2016 than it is now and Obama's popularity numbers remain low, the GOP's presidential chances are on the order of 63% ... no slam dunk but very decent odds.

Sides' main point is that only once in the past 60+ years has a single party held the presidency for more than two consecutive terms, Reagan followed by Bush 41. Apparently 8 years is normally long enough to convince Americans a party is not doing the job.

Film Review: Jack Ryan, Shadow Recruit

Someone decided we needed to see the process by which Tom Clancy's iconic Jack Ryan character earned his combat chops, met his future wife, and was recruited by the CIA. By golly, whoever got that idea was right.

The film shares the relentless breakneck pacing of the Bourne films and similar action thrillers. It is a headlong sprint from start to finish. The other DrC and I enjoyed it.

Kenneth Branagh directed the film, starring Chris Pine (Star Trek, Star Trek Into Darkness, Princess Diaries 2) as the young Jack Ryan, Kevin Costner as his CIA "control," Keira Knightly as the doctor who becomes his fiancee, and Branagh himself as a villainous Russian patriot.

All four stars do a good job, particularly Branagh who is a Shakespearean actor of note but versatile as blazes. Remember his smarmy over-the-top Professor Gilderoy Lockhart in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets?

BTW, am I the only one who wonders why Keira Knightly doesn't have her teeth straightened? She's cute in spite of it, which is perhaps the idea, but it's vaguely distracting. We're accustomed to screen personalities being more-or-less flawless.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Barone on Demographics

Few analysts have more fun with a set of Census numbers than Michael Barone, writing here for the Washington Examiner as reprinted by RealClearPolitics. He looks at the Census figures for population growth in the 50 states and the District of Columbia, finding unsurprisingly as follows:
Population growth has been accelerating in states that depend heavily on the private sector and declining in states with relatively high dependence on government. 
Which states are those with growth?
Growth rates have increased significantly in most of the Midwest and Rocky Mountain heartland. That has been especially true in the nation's growth leader this decade, North Dakota, with its Bakken shale boom.
Of course Texas is the biggest winner of them all, as Governor Rick Perry persists in bragging to all who will listen (clearly more should heed his mantra).

We need to be clear that Barone is talking about changes in growth rates, not necessarily in the absolute rates.So a big change to a low rate gets more ink than a small change in a big rate, as a careful reading of what he says about Maryland, Virginia and DC will show.

Latin American Political Trends

Miami Herald columnist Andres Oppenheimer writes about Latin America, from his home base in Miami, the region's unofficial "capital." He begins an optimistic column about trends in Latin America with this comment:
A joke making the rounds in Latin American business circles says Brazil is looking increasingly like Argentina, Argentina is looking increasingly like Venezuela, and Venezuela is looking increasingly like Zimbabwe.
Oppenheimer concludes it is a fair appraisal of Venezuela, but unnecessarily gloomy about Argentina and Brazil. He is probably right about Brazil.

COTTonLINE is downbeat about Argentina. Its Peronist political culture has an absolute genius for snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

As an assessment of the economy of the region, I find this Oppenheimer summary very useful:
Mexico, Colombia, Peru, and Chile are doing well, and may drag several other countries in their direction. Together with Brazil, the four Pacific-coast countries make up more than 75 percent of Latin America’s economy.
The market-oriented economies of those five nations are responsible for their relative prosperity.

BBC: A Solar Lull

BBC News reports the sun is unusually quiet. This quiet has chilling implications, literally. See what they write:
Scientists are saying that the Sun is in a phase of "solar lull" - meaning that it has fallen asleep - and it is baffling them. History suggests that periods of unusual "solar lull" coincide with bitterly cold winters. 
Compared with the impact of variations in the sun's massive energy contribution to Earth's weather, the combined activities of all humans are puny by comparison. Hat tip to Drudge Report for the link.

Soft Bigotry in Media

Bush speech writer and Washington Post columnist Michael Gerson is credited with coining the phrase "soft bigotry of low expectations." It means of course that people often have low expectations of those against whom they are prejudiced ... and low expectations are mostly self-fulfilling.

How else can you explain the media's generally passive acceptance of President Obama's poor performance? They expected little of him, got what they expected, were generally satisfied that he did everything of which he was able, and helped him get reelected.

Would a white male Democrat with the track record of the past six years have been treated by the media as kindly as President Obama? I very much doubt it. If this isn't soft bigotry or racism, what is it?

Friday, January 17, 2014

SoCal Is Dry

You've heard of the forest fires now burning in Southern California ... bad news, of course. What nobody much talks about is why these unseasonable fires have happened.

The DrsC have been in SoCal since late December. The weather is everything the Chamber of Commerce could wish ... warm and dry days, cool nights that have stayed above freezing. Today reached the low 80s.

So far we've seen exactly zero rain. Basically it rarely rains in CA more than a trace during the May to October half of the year, November and April sometimes see rain, but mostly it is a December to March phenomenon, when it occurs.

The hillsides of the Los Padres National Forest are brown and barren this year, when they should have already become green. BTW, "forest fire" is a misnomer in SoCal. What burns is chaparral: grasses and scrub brush rarely more than head high. I grew up watching autumn fires burn across the chaparral-covered Coast Range mountains rimming the Ojai Valley.

Across the arid West the north sides of hills cast shade which enables scrub oak or pine to hoard enough scarce water to grow into modest trees ... elsewhere is mostly brush and weeds.

Senate Passes Spending Measure

Yesterday we wrote of the House passing an omnibus spending bill which held the line on most discretionary federal spending. Acting with unheard of speed, the Senate today passed the same bill which the President has indicated he will sign. It remains to be seen whether it will prove to be the right "medicine" for our country's ills.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

The New Federal Reality

Politico has an excellent article on the new appropriations bill passed by the House with bipartisan support. Not much reported is the new, less expansive reality in store for most government programs.

Assuming the Senate passes something similar, most government agencies will see little growth in the coming year or two. Exceptions include Head Start, in spite of its mediocre results track record.

Nobody on either side of the aisle is particularly happy with the bill, which ironically suggests that it represents a relatively fair compromise. It is clear that there are no huge new spending programs in the offing.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Avoiding Underemployment

COTTonLINE has raised the issue of college graduates' difficulties getting jobs more than once. David Wessel of The Wall Street Journal has pulled together an article on the current status of this problem. It's worth your time.

While more new graduates are holding part-time jobs and jobs not requiring a degree, it remains true that those with degrees are faring substantially better than those without.
The government snapshot of the job market in December found that 7.7% of those over age 25 who had only a high school diploma were unemployed, but only 3.3% of those with four-year college or graduate degrees were unemployed.
Going beyond the "grads do better" generality, Wessel cites work by British economists to the effect that:
The wages of both American and British workers with post-graduate degrees have been increasing faster than wages of those with only four-year degrees.
This finding underscores what we've maintained at COTTonLINE for some years now. Degrees are used by lazy employers to separate the cream from the milk, the wheat from the chaff, in short the winners from the losers. As baccalaureate degrees become common, it increasingly is the graduate degree that causes an applicant to stand out from the background clutter.

Crucially, Wessel cites Fed economists who observe that:
Those who major in engineering, math, computers and other technical fields as well as those in growing parts of the economy such as health and education tend to do better. Those who major in leisure and hospitality, communications, liberal arts, social sciences and business are more likely to be underemployed after they graduate.
I am more sanguine about the employment prospects of business majors than they are, but the general thrust of their argument is valid.

Quote of the Day

From an Agence France-Presse article on the Yahoo News website, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad speaks about Wahhabism, the version of Islam predominant in Saudi Arabia. Assad says:
The Syrian people and some peoples in the region know how serious the threat posed by Wahhabism is, and everyone must contribute to the confrontation against it and to eradicating it from the root.
Although COTTonLINE is no fan of Assad, we understand that people we don't admire sometimes see and speak the truth too.

Both sides in the Syrian conflict are enemies of the U.S. - Assad and his Iranian allies as well as the Sunni jihadis and their Saudi allies. The ideal outcome would be if both sides lose, best exemplified by a prolonged, bloody stalemate that consumes both groups.

Monday, January 6, 2014

The Fox Phenomenon

Michael Wolff writes for USA Today about the state of play in the cable news business. In other words, how Roger Ailes is king and everybody else is a wannabe. He marvels at Fox's continued dominance thereof.

COTTonLINE has written before about this phenomenon, and the underlying numbers that make it not just possible but unavoidable. Roughly half of Americans are conservative. On the other hand, all of the major mainstream media except Fox News and The Wall Street Journal are liberal.

Do the math. Fox News gets all the consumers of conservative opinion TV; CNN, MSNBC, CBS, ABC, NBC, and PBS share the consumers of liberal opinion TV. You can imagine Ailes saying to himself, "I'll take half, you guys share the other half among yourselves." Everybody but Ailes is playing a chump's game.

The same is largely true among the newspapers with national aspirations: The Wall Street Journal takes the conservative readers, The New York Times, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, etc. take the liberal readers. USA Today really tries to be evenhanded, not always successfully, but offers what could charitably be called "news light."

Beautiful Santa Barbara

Yesterday the other DrC and I spent the afternoon driving around the seaside resort community of Santa Barbara. I believe Santa Barbara is the most beautiful city in California.

A more stunning collection of fine Mediterranean/Spanish Colonial architecture does not exist anywhere in the state, very likely in the nation. Of course I'm not alone in this opinion, with the result that homes in SB are not affordable.

Indeed, home prices are so high that people who hold modest jobs very often commute many miles from places like Lompoc and Santa Maria. Of course this living pattern is not uncommon in California.

Speaking of Lompoc, we were there last week and it has really cleaned up its act in recent years. Time was Lompoc combined the worst features of a military base gate town and a rural slum. No longer. Today it looks quite prosperous, a place a person would not mind calling home.

It is likely the phenomenon in the previous paragraph is responsible for the improvement as salaried people who work in Santa Barbara have bid up home prices and brought shopping dollars to the retail community. In other words, Lompoc has been gentrified, after a fashion.

Crowley Asks Wrong Question

News Busters reports a conversation between CNN host Candy Crowley and Wisconsin Republican Governor Scott Walker. She poses a question that essentially answers itself:
If I am an unemployed American…or if I am a minimum wage worker…why would I become a Republican?
Walker talks about opportunity as opposed to dependence, what else could he say? In truth, a substantial number of far-from-affluent individuals vote GOP because they cannot abide various non-economic aspects of the Democrat's program.

Perhaps Crowley should have asked the opposite question: "If I am an employed American ... or if I make a reasonable salary ... why would I become a Democrat?" This latter question is particularly appropriate for those who do not feel guilty for having successful careers.

In other words, if you postpone gratification and work to improve yourself and your family, why should you feel it is your responsibility to support those who do neither? To do so is to enable their dependency.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Liz Cheney Exits WY Race

Liz Cheney, daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, has been mounting a challenge to Senator Mike Enzi in the Wyoming Republican primary. The latest word, from CNN, is that Cheney plans to drop out of the race.

Cheney's campaign never gained much momentum as Enzi is a conservative Wyoming Senator who is well liked by the state's Republicans. The only advantages she brought to the table were a famous name and the edge that might give her in getting TV invitations.

On the other hand, Enzi has seniority that she would entirely lack and thus he is in a position to do more to further the state's interests.

Does College Still Pay Off?

Instapundit Glenn Harlan Reynolds has an article for The Wall Street Journal about the pressures for change in higher education, particularly as related to runaway costs. He fingers disproportional administrative growth as the primary culprit, with the proverbial "edifice complex" as another problem.

If it ever truly existed, the time when any baccalaureate degree would open doors and produce job offers is long gone. Reynolds mentions students' need to select courses of study which lead to areas of the economy in which hiring actually occurs with some frequency. I believe he doesn't emphasize this issue enough.

The other DrC and I befriended a student who worked at our usual CA supermarket in the deli. He majored in civil engineering and graduated in December at the university from which we both retired. He had two job offers from which to choose as he finished his B.S. degree, and was excited about the one he selected.

Because I favored our graduates getting jobs I paid attention to the firms which came to campus to recruit and the majors in whose students they expressed interest. A short list of those would include, and largely be limited to, engineering, business and accounting, computer science/IT, nursing, and education. Graduates from those programs had a quite good chance of leaving school with a job offer in hand. Others, not so much.

If you have children or grandchildren who are approaching or entering college, you need to help them understand the implications of choice of major. A good first step for any frosh is to ask the campus career placement service which majors are actively recruited. Presuming they want eventually to be employed at a white collar job, taking this recruiting information into account in choosing a major is critical.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Ethnic Conflicts

In a blog post by Damien Thompson of the Daily Telegraph (U.K.) I find a reference to a book entitled Fields of Fire: An Atlas of Ethnic Conflict by Stuart Notholt, I haven't yet seen it but the description looks interesting. Notholt says it provides:
A concise, authoritative commentary on each of the nearly one hundred ethnic conflicts around the world, with a summary of key dates, events and demographic data, together with specially drawn maps providing a geographical context.
The very idea causes me to hear distant echoes of Tom Lehrer's musical version of Sheldon Harnick's Merry Minuet as sung by the Kingston Trio. They sang:
They’re rioting in Africa, They’re starving in Spain,
There’s hurricanes in Florida, And Texas needs rain

This whole world is festering with unhappy souls
The French hate the Germans, The Germans hate the Poles

Italians hate Yugoslavs, South Africans hate the Dutch
And I don’t like anybody very much

But we can be tranquil and thankful and proud
For Man’s been endowed with a mushroom-shaped cloud

And we can be certain that some lovely day
Someone will set the spark off…and we will all be blown away

They’re rioting in Africa, There’s strife in Iran
What Nature doesn’t do to us will be done by our Fellow Man
That's our species ... the killer ape ... red in tooth and claw, according to Tennyson.

Friday, January 3, 2014

New Year Brings Huge Blizzard

The Midwest and Northeast are digging out from record snowfall and cold. Is this the sort of result one would expect from conditions of global warming? Brrrr, apparently Gaia didn't get the memo.

Nasty Trends

An editorial in Investor's Business Daily weighs in with a list of eleven "nasty trends that will test America's resilience." Read the editorial for an explanation of each:
Extremely limited prosperity
A wide economic growth gap
A massive ongoing jobs gap
Dependency growing, not jobs
America's global strength wanes
Workers leave labor force
America, the biggest debtor ever
Real jobless rate? Double digits
Regulation is huge hidden tax
What America really owes
Long-term fiscal outlook is ugly
I don't see much wrong with that list of trends. These trends pose real challenges to a gridlocked political system, when they aren't actual results of gridlock.

Thatcher Honored

Although you'd never know it from content on the BBC, the late Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher is viewed by Britain's Members of Parliament as the most successful post-World War II PM. So says a story in the Daily Express (U.K.) reporting poll results.

Parliament has a Conservative majority at present so the selection is not entirely surprising. You could say that Britain's Conservatives honor Thatcher in the same way that Republicans honor her friend and contemporary Ronald Reagan, and for similar reasons.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Near-Universal Ignorance

Uber-pundit George Will writes for The Washington Post; his most recent column is about the abysmal ignorance displayed by perhaps half of the electorate. In some ways the column is a review of a book entitled Democracy and Political Ignorance: Why Smaller Government is Smarter by Ilya Somin, a George Mason University law professor.

Somin's point, assuming Will reflects it accurately, is that elected government doesn't particularly reflect the will of an informed electorate. Will cites studies which demonstrate our voters generally are not informed. A Will quote I liked:
Many people, says Somin, acquire political knowledge for the reason people acquire sports knowledge — because it interests them, not because it will alter the outcome of any contest.
Will concludes:
If much of the electorate is unaware of the substance or even existence of policies adopted by the sprawling regulatory state, the policies’ democratic pedigrees are weak.


I'm sure you've seen the story about the climate scientists stuck in the ice in Antarctica. They went there to prove the globe is warming, during the Antarctic summer, and their ship got so stuck in the ice that two ice breakers couldn't free them. At last report they were awaiting flying weather good enough for helicopters to ferry them off the stuck ship to a rescue vessel,

It couldn't happen to a nicer group ... I feel the same joy I feel when a fringe religious sect holes up thinking the world will end and ... oops ... it doesn't end. In each case there is a similar phenomenon at work: confusing what you want to be true for what is actually true.

The strength of your belief has no influence whatsoever on whether what you believe is at all related to the real world. In fact, it could be argued that the stronger your belief, the greater the chance that belief is unrelated to reality. Meanwhile at the other end of the globe, this winter's Arctic ice is more widespread than in recent years.

Film Review: Robin Hood

Last evening the other DrC and I watched the Ridley Scott film Robin Hood starring Russell Crowe and Cate Blanchett. This film is a prequel, it explains how and why King John came to declare Robin an outlaw and how Robin and the Sheriff of Nottingham became mortal enemies. We enjoyed it.

The story of Robin begins with him as an archer in King Richard Lionheart's crusader army, and no royal favorite either. Fighting their way home across France, Richard is killed and Robin decides to adopt the identity of a knight killed in an ambush while taking the news of Richard's death home to England.

Like most Ridley Scott work this long film really emphasizes set decoration. To create a suitably grubby pre-gunpowder England with mud, filth, and animal droppings everywhere is no easy task but Scott's elves got it done. Except on state occasions costumes were far from glamorous or even clean.

Crowe seems to have as much fun with the Robin part as he had with being a disgraced Roman general in Ridley Scott's Gladiator, another 2.5 hour film in costume. Blanchett is no beauty, an asset in this film where the only semi-beauty is the king's mistress, As Ridley portrays 1100s England, there were dang few pretty people about.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Greetings in 2014

Happy New Year to our COTTonLINE readers. We wish you health, wealth, and joy in 2014 CE.

Regular COTTonLINE blogging will resume in the near future.