Friday, September 30, 2022

Crunch Time

At least some of the time I am an optimist, or at least I don't anticipate the apocalypse on my watch. Recent comments by Russian President Putin, however, appear to be taking us closer to the use of nuclear weapons and that could ruin a lot of lives, including mine. 

I don't live near ground zero, which means getting to 'enjoy' the aftermath of starving, sick refugees and fallout instead of instant oblivion. I'm honestly not sure which would be worse. 

I'm relatively sure Ukraine will not be granted NATO membership while fighting continues. To do so would immediately mean, via Article 5, all of its members are at war with Russia. 

I don't sense a lot of member willingness to go there. Expect NATO to accept Ukraine's application and make some public show of considering it, just to make Putin unhappy. I believe Zelensky understands this and makes public protestations of wanting immediate membership for the same reason.

Meloni Blasts Macron

French President Macron criticized Italian Prime Minister elect Giorgia Meloni and she is having none of it. Power Line has video with subtitles of her reading Macron the riot act. 

Meloni blames Macron's France for creating the conditions in Africa which are causing hundreds of thousands of Africans to migrate to Europe. She concludes "We will not accepts lessons from you." 

I do like Meloni's style. There will be heartburn in Brussels. She is going to be fun to watch.

How Red Is WY?

As snowbirds, the DrsC apply for and file absentee ballots. Ours arrived today and I took a look at mine. I've written WY is a very red state, 22 of 23 counties have Republican majorities registered to vote. The 23rd is barely Democrat-majority, by a couple hundred votes.

So I checked out the ballot for statewide offices, of which there turn out to be 5. For only two of the five did a Democrat bother to put his/her name in the hat: governor and state superintendent of schools. 

The other 3 basically have a Republican running unopposed. You win the Republican primary, you get the job.

Not much suspense about the early November outcome, eh? In the last 30 years we've had exactly one Democrat governor who served two terms. The other 22 years were all GOP. I expect the current Republican Governor Mark Gordon will be reelected.

Off to Join the Circus

One of the weird side effects of an active mind and too little required activity in retirement is making odd mental connections. Here is one of mine for today.

One of the great American myths is running away to join the circus. It pops up in song and fiction plus on TV every now and then. I suppose it really did happen some, maybe quite a bit. 

What you never seem to read or hear is the other end of the story. The people or situation the kid, usually a boy, ran away from. Those he left behind.

Where are the tragic stories of mothers pining for their runaway sons, families searching for the missing child, stories of a long-lost brother? Folks like sad stories but I don't remember many of these featuring a brother or son lost to the circus. 

I've read of sons who went to sea, and the families left behind. But not stories of "we lost a kid to the circus."

Do you suppose they were mostly kids nobody would miss much? Troubled kids? Stepchildren? Kids leaving an abusive, drunken home? It seems likely.

I also wonder how many kids who somehow attached themselves to a circus ended up being molested by troupe pedophiles? It seems a likely scenario in a subculture where violating sexual norms might be overlooked or tolerated.

Anyway, that's my poser for today. Hat tip to the James Darren lyric for the title.

Thursday, September 29, 2022

National Park Photo Links

The other DrC has some very nice photos of Yellowstone, the Tetons, and wild animals at her blog here and here. It is worth your while to give 'em a gander. 

The two national parks in Wyoming's northwest corner are a big reason why we - a pair of native Californians - ended up calling Wyoming home. It is world class scenery, for starters. Add in the thermal features which are the world's most elaborate and an unfenced wild animal habitat which you could think of as an alpine Serengeti. Plus the largest high altitude fresh water lake in North America.

The DrsC have visited 120+ countries and, with that as standard of comparison, there is really no place with everything northwestern Wyoming has to offer. It is unique and marvelous and home.

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Who Cut The Pipe, Part 2

Jim Hoft, who writes at Gateway Pundit, works the NordStream pipeline attack through the old law enforcement mantra of “means, motive, and opportunity” and concludes it is likely the U.S. sabotaged NordStream 1 and 2. See his conclusion.

While we don’t know for sure whether the United States blew up the pipeline, we do know for sure the United States has the means, motive, opportunity, and moral deficit necessary to drive the world to the edge of armageddon in pursuit of power for its elites.

Since the pipes are now broken, there’s no way Germany can decide to give Putin a free hand in return for gas. Russia can’t deliver gas w/o pipes.

Caveat: Hoft is a person who is inclined to chase conspiracies, not all of which are the real deal.

Travel Note

We are RV camped tonight at the Headwaters campground in the area between Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. The other DrC, our niece, and a longtime family friend have been here since Sunday.

They’ve toured both parks and generally had a good “girls campout.” Their major goal - to see a moose - was achieved today, no bears this trip but plenty of bison and elk. The weather has been perfect, and the crowds are mostly gone.

I showed up this afternoon. Tomorrow we hitch up the truck and tow the RV back to its summer parking spot near our summer residence. The two visitor gals head home to CA, while the DrsC get busy with the various end-of-season shutdown procedures. 

Those include packing the RV for the trip to winter quarters and getting our residence ready to “do a Brigadoon” for the winter. We have been doing this since the mid-1990s, so the process is almost second nature. As you can imagine, the next couple of weeks will be busy.

Who Cut the Pipe?

Somebody bombed the NordStream pipelines 1 and 2 under the Baltic Sea, causing leaks. That much appears to be clear. Exactly who did that is entirely unclear.

In any such event, you begin by asking cui bono, who benefits? In Watergate terms, “follow the money. Putin might have done it to forestall internal enemies who argued “lets quit blowing up Ukraine and go back to the prewar prosperity of trading gas to Germans for BMWs.” If so, his action reminds me of Cortez burning his ships so his troops can’t retreat.

I’m not a big fan of Tucker Carlson but I saw his opening monologue last night. He had video of both President Biden and some U.S. bureaucrat woman threatening to do exactly what happened. 

Carlson questions how the bombing helps Putin, who in any case controls the input end of the pipes and can turn off the valves without damaging expensive and lucrative-to-Russia infrastructure.

The U.S. never wanted Europe to be so dependent on Russian oil and gas. We have the ability, but I don’t see us having the initiative, we tend to be reactive and the gas flows had already stopped. I suppose it could be us burning the European’s ‘boats’ so they can’t cave to Russia in return for resumed gas deliveries

You could argue the Greens might have done it, except they probably don’t have the know-how or the support units needed to accomplish it. Norway benefits as their pipeline bringing North Sea gas to Europe is intact, and Norway has the tech to get it done. But it seems out of character for that normally docile NATO ally.

Does China benefit? Maybe, in the long run. It is a puzzlement.

Tuesday, September 27, 2022


Buzzfeed accumulates lists of funny/snarky replies to semi-serious questions. One that caught my eye was entitled thusly, you can see it at

25 Hilarious Viral Tweets About The Differences Between Sci-Fi And Fantasy

I particularly like no. 14, scroll down.

Let me clear it up for you: sci-fi is when you’re depressed about the future, fantasy is when you’re depressed about the past, and literature is when you’re depressed about the present.

No wonder I write non-fiction, I'm almost never depressed. Several other comparisons of the two genres are funny, one claims it is whether the protagonist lusts after an elf or a robot. 

Of the two genres, my preference has been Sci-Fi. The only fantasy series which held my interest were the Harry Potter novels and the Buffy TV series. I trudged through Tolkien and found Game of Thrones awfully dark.


On Saturday we wrote about rumors of instability in China. It turns out to have been not much, a combination of pre-Party Congress jitters and the fallout from Xi arresting high level government officials for corruption. Apparently Xi’s drive to be leader-for-life is still on track to happen. Autocrats gotta autocrat. 

Just imagine - corruption at the levels of government immediately below Xi - in China where such things have been going on for literally thousands of years. Truly, everything old is new again, the emperors had the same problems with greedy subordinates poaching on the imperial turf.

As someone on the Reuters website noted, China’s tight control of information flows makes rumors like this one almost inevitable. Outsiders trying to understand what is going on in China are reduced to “reading the auguries” in oracle-like fashion.

Fruitcake City

On September 3 I wrote that I might have to reevaluate my long-held negative opinion of the University of California, Santa Cruz as a "hippie haven." As sometimes happens, I spoke (wrote, actually) too soon. 

Power Line's Steven Hayward posts a current job opening announcement from UCSC that is so far beyond the pale it appears to be Babylon Bee satire. Here is enough to give you the flavor.

The Critical Race and Ethnic Studies Department at the University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC) invites applications for a an Assistant/Associate Professor of Critical Race Science and Technology Studies (STS). (snip) A demonstrated record of research that de-centers Western scientific ways of knowing and challenges extractivist capitalist practices is especially welcome as are commitments to queer and indigenous ecologies, trans-species studies, and race-radical approaches to STEM.

I take back what I wrote earlier. UC Santa Cruz is still, and clearly wishes to remain, fruitcake city. 

Monday, September 26, 2022

He's Everywhere

This is clever cartooning; great use of negative space.
Image courtesy of the 9/27/2022


Mark Tapscott's posts at Instapundit are often infused with happy Christianity, which isn't what I seek from Instapundit. However today he quotes something from Jeff Dunetz with which I am happy to concur, completely.

A Dad’s most important influences are not infrequently subtle and may not be recognized or appreciated for a long time.

This has certainly been true in my long life. Probably my Dad's strongest lesson: in our family we don't act like low-life trash, we have behavioral standards.

I have found myself defending people of modest achievements by saying "They've held a job and earned a living, avoided addiction, stayed out of jail, and if modest, their home is tidy and they don't abuse their SOs. In my book they are good people." Actually, those are my Dad's words about standards, out of my mouth.

The Meloni Vote

A plate of right-wing spaghetti in the face of the left-wing EU.
Image courtesy of Power Line, scroll down.


While cool autumn arrived a few weeks ago, we are currently enjoying a few days of Indian summer. Can we still call it that? 

This is always a time to cherish, the last few shirt-sleeve days before the autumn chill sets in, to leave no more. I was out today and it was almost hot, 80 degrees and beautiful blue skies.

The leaves are turning. The mountain maples, which grow no taller than a ranch house roof line, turn various shades from rusty orange to a bluish-red that is stunning. The maples grow on the hillsides, seemingly never on the flat. Perhaps they prefer the drainage there.

The cottonwoods haven't done much yet, but a few of the aspen have turned the pure, pale gold which with their white bark is just stunning. Much more expected from both. Of course the dominant conifers stay green all year.

Actually fall is maybe a bit late this year. The other DrC is in Yellowstone with our niece and a family friend, we hauled the RV up there for this year's "girls party." This late in the season YNP isn't awfully crowded, they're having fun and looking for moose (pix at her blog here). I'll bring them home on Thursday. 

We filed for our absentee ballots today, we won't be here in early November to vote in person. It is getting to be time to close down "Brigadoon" and head for winter quarters. I hope the classical reference works for you.

Watch Meloni Speak

If you find newly elected Italian prime minister Giorgia Meloni an interesting figure you can see her give a couple of short speeches laying out what she believes. They are posted on Power Line and have excellent subtitles if your Italian is rusty. 

She is no Mussolini, no strutting Fascist. She is an emotional, strong speaker but not at all a threatening figure. Personally, I like her values, and I share her dislikes. She could be a Margaret Thatcher for Italy, which like most free countries could clearly benefit from one.

Bridges Burned

The New York Post is one of the sources reporting lame duck Wyoming Congresswoman Liz Cheney (RINO-WY) says she will leave the Republican Party and campaign for Democrats if Trump is the 2024 GOP nominee. She also plans to campaign now against Kari Lake who's running for governor in AZ.

Self-awareness is difficult for some. About that threat to leave the Republican Party, Cheney is very late with that. The Wyoming Republican Party left Cheney 10 months ago, and in August WY GOP voters endorsed that view with certitude.

What Cheney is now probably doesn't have a modern name. They once called it being a "mugwump" or fence-sitter. That meant her "mug" was on one side of the fence and her "wump" or rump was on the other side. 

The only political thing Democrats and Cheney agree on is their dislike for Trump. It isn't enough to build a relationship on. Can you imagine a Democrat with a realistic chance of election inviting her to campaign with them? I can't.

She has made enemies of most Republicans and she agrees with Democrats about very little. The Greens won't have her and she's no Libertarian. She may have become too toxic even to be a lobbyist.

Bear Sighting

As a retired business prof, keeping a weather eye on the economy is second nature, although my specialty wasn't finance. CNBC reports that, as a result of today's trading, the stock market is now officially in bear market territory.

When a major index like the Dow declines at least 20% it signals a "bear market." Here is some of what they note:

The S&P 500 notched a new closing low for 2022 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped into a bear market as interest rates surged and turmoil rocked global currencies.

The Dow dropped 329.60 points, or 1.11%, to 29,260.81 — accelerating losses in the final moments of trading. The 30-stock index is down about 20.4% from its Jan. 4 closing high.

The down market has political ramifications but most importantly is a leading indicator of recession. Some 70% of bear markets are followed by a recession. 

If it happens, a recession is going to hurt real people who lose jobs or home equity. It will increase government spending while it decreases government revenues.

Afterthought: When the market declines 20% it isn't far-fetched to think of it as the collective commercial wealth of the U.S. having lost one dollar in five. Kind reader, that is a BIG hit.

A Very Dim View

Writing at UnHerd, Thomas Fazi takes an extremely dire view of the economic and social implications of Europe’s (a) reliance on Russian natural gas while (b) opposing Russian war against neighboring Ukraine. Check out this quote:

If it stays on its current course, Europe is looking at years of economic contraction, inflation, deindustrialisation, declining living standards, mass impoverishment, and shortages — and this without taking into account the terrifying prospect of an outright military confrontation with Russia. How can anyone think Europe can survive this without plunging into anarchy?

Fazi believes Europe is very unlikely to cope well with the results of their choices. Candidly, he almost appears to be in favor of letting Putin do his darnedest in Ukraine and elsewhere as long as Russian gas keeps flowing. 

The fallacy in his argument is that while Europe is being hurt, he implies Russia is doing fine. It isn’t, its feared army has been shown to be a mess and its people aren’t loving Putin’s “great foreign adventure” in Ukraine or his call up of reserves. 

Can Putin hang on awhile longer? Probably through the winter, at least. Beyond that, it’s questionable. Can Europe hang on awhile longer? Same answer as above. 

We live in interesting times.

Ukraine Update

Could you profitably utilize an update on the Russia-Ukraine war: its status, strategy, and our involvement as supporters of one side? This by Fred Kaplan for Slate is decent and balanced. 

I won’t say it breaks new ground, but it balances risks and rewards in a way that make sense to me. Hat tip to RealClearWorld for the link.

Saluting Italy

The results are tentative but it appears Giorgia Meloni has become Italy’s first woman Prime Minister. She represents the traditional right as a nationalist, anti-globalist, anti-immigrant, pro-family advocate. 

In the EU it is anticipated her policies will align with those of Poland and Hungary. This alarms globalists who run the EU and who see nations as vestigial. She is reported to have spoken warmly of Britain’s Conservatives and our Republicans.

As in this country, the Italian left imagines everyone not on the left is a neo-fascist. As in this country, they are almost always wrong.

COTTonLINE wishes her good fortune. Given Italy’s historic political instability, she’ll need it. 

Italy sort of muddles through with (by our standards) too much government which the Italians’ often circumvent. It is, however, the Italians’ beautiful and historic country to run as they choose, and they have chosen.

Wrong Pawn Maker, Right Response

The New Yorker’s Jelani Cobb writes “When Migrants Become Political Pawns.” He means the illegals DeSantis sent to Martha’s Vineyard or Abbott sent to DC. Oh, the horror! As though these actions made those illegals “political pawns.”

Uh … wrong. Governors DeSantis and Abbott were merely repurposing existing political pawns. It was the functional equivalent of using an enemy’s own weapons against him.

When new President Joe Biden dismantled Trump’s successful effort to keep most illegals out of the country, THAT was when migrants became political pawns. Pawns of the Democrat Party Biden led. He dumped illegal migrants on the whole country, in selfish pursuit of both political power and imagined moral superiority. Flew them around on night flights.

I understand it was uncomfortable when Abbott and DeSantis arranged for Democrats to experience what “frontline” governors were experiencing. A brilliant Alinsky-style counterpunch, it rubbed the Democrats’ noses in the mess they had made for everyone.

Serves ‘em effing right, doesn’t it? 

Sunday, September 25, 2022

Too Many Parties

I've been interested in the election this weekend in Italy. Italians vote for members of their parliament and the party getting the largest number of MPs gets to try to form a coalition. This Washington Post story has the details, and is echoed outside their paywall on

The Frateli d'Italia party is expected to be that party and they have a coalition of rightist parties lined up to give them a governing majority. A close read of the details of the grief associated with multi-party governments which typify the Netherlands, Italy and Israel, gives one a new appreciation for our de facto two party system.

There's a aphorism about the Dutch, Israelis and Italians, probably derived from their multiparty systems. It goes something like "Between them any three (insert Dutch, Italians or Israelis) will have at least four opinions on any given issue." You can see how this makes governing close to impossible. Perhaps that near-impossibility is its charm.

We should have results from Italy in a day or two.


Charles C. W. Cooke writes for the New York Post about how California has replaced Florida as the butt of jokes about things being off-the-rails. He writes:

As a kid, I idolized California, which seemed, on my many visits there, to represent a sort of sunny, fun, innovative, middle-class paradise. But, somehow, the powers-that-be really have managed to screw it up.

Charles, I was a kid who lived and grew up in CA. Your visitor’s perceptions were dead accurate.

One couldn’t be more Californian than I was. I had parents who’d come there from other states, I was born in Hollywood (literally), displaced by a freeway, and from third grade on grew up in a small commercial SoCal orange orchard up the coast 50+ miles.

I wasn’t just typical, I was a CA stereotype although that thought never occurred to me-as-a-kid. I attended the then-excellent public schools, while I made the money for my first car trapping gophers out of orange orchards (gophers kill trees if left to thrive). 

I drove that car to a basically free community college (a CA innovation) for two years.  I transferred to a very inexpensive state university from which I graduated in two more years, and went to work in the aerospace industry while working on an MBA at night at that same university. 

I got married, I got divorced, I remarried. I made my academic career working for the same state higher ed system where I earned my bachelors and masters. 

CA was good to me in ways even I don’t totally comprehend. As a local I took it for granted.

All of that wonderfulness now has been corrupted by truly crap politics. I guess I’m still typical as a rueful ex-Californian who remembers when it actually was an “innovative, middle-class paradise.”

Saturday, September 24, 2022

Rumors of Instability in China

File this story under "items we wish were true." Newsmax reports rumors of unusual military goings-on and turbulence in the CCP in China, with some speculating about a coup. Famed China expert Gordon Chang thinks the coup rumor "untrue" but admits "something is happening." Chang tweeted.

"This video of military vehicles moving to #Beijing comes immediately after the grounding of 59% of the flights in the country and the jailings of senior officials. There's a lot of smoke, which means there is a fire somewhere inside the #CCP. #China is unstable."

I wonder (a) if this is real, and (b) if we'll ever learn what it means? 

Later … Most of the sites claiming this “something” is real seem to be based in India - a not-cordial neighbor of China. India has reason aplenty to keep an eye on Beijing and the CCP.. 

Saturday Snark

Images courtesy of The Week in Pictures at Power Line.

Legal Immigration: Issues of Illegality

Scanning this afternoon and two related items caught my eye.

One reports that all but one of the 47 people indicted in greater Minneapolis for stealing funds meant for child nutrition during Covid are members of the area's large Somali immigrant community. This is something most news accounts of the indictments fail to note. 

The alleged behavior represents a poor way to repay American hospitality. I wonder, can their immigrant status be revoked if convicted? Might a pause in Somali immigration be wise?

The second reports a number of immigrant scientists employed to work at Los Alamos nuclear facility have subsequently returned to China to work in their aerospace and defense industries.

Again, same question concerning revocation of immigration. Plus one more, was it wise to employ scientists from an unfriendly nation who still have roots there? 

This intuitively appears to have been a dumb thing to do, one that should stop. Am I wrong?

Friday, September 23, 2022


UPI has video of a large monitor lizard trying, but failing, to enter a Florida home through a window the glass panes of which appear to flummox it. This brings back memories.

In the mid-1980s I saw one of these in the wild. Actually, it was near the edge of a parking lot, at the University of Guam, where I was visiting faculty. 

This was the pre-cell phone era and I had no camera with me. The memory of that lizard, a fair amount larger than the one in the video, is the only souvenir I have of the encounter.

After it ambled off into what locals called "the boonies" I rushed into the business school office and described what I'd seen. The secretaries were excited, they said monitor lizards were once somewhat common but by the 1980s were seldom seen. 

That's reptilian life in the tropics, and Florida qualifies.

A Workaround

Steven Hayward, the conservative scholar who blogs at Power Line, notes California's problems with so-called "green energy" being produced at the "wrong times of day" when demand is low. It is being essentially discarded. Oops. 

And he notes the folks there who manage the power grid have no way to store power produced at noon for use that night when people get home from work. Batteries are both too expensive and too limited in capacity (and generally too "Chinese" as well).

I know a solution that's far from new. Anywhere there is a reservoir in the mountains with power generation at the downstream end, you can set up a way to store power. By using the midday excess power to pump water back uphill into the reservoir, from where it can be flowed back down through the turbines when needed as dusk and beyond. Actually the same water can be recycled over and over.

Electricity is difficult and costly to store. Water is both cheap and easy to store. Anytime you pump water uphill you store energy which your hydroelectric system is already designed and built to convert back to electricity whenever you open the penstocks. 

There is no reason green power and hydro power cannot work together. We need to get busy building the forebays, new pumping stations and uphill pipelines needed to add this power storage capacity to all existing hydro power facilities.

Cartoon Wisdom

Last image reminds me of the Reaver ships from Firefly and Serenity.
Political cartoons courtesy of Politico.

Winter Is Coming

I’ve been wondering when I’d read someone claiming Russians would solve their nation’s “Putin problem.” The first such claim has now appeared in this Project Syndicate article. After selecting a title made famous as the Stark family “words” of “winter is coming,” famed Swedish diplomat Carl Bildt concludes with this thought.

My guess is that Putin will remain holed up in his Kremlin fortress (and information bubble) through the winter in anticipation that his political strategy against Europe will succeed. Eventually, however, it will become clear even in Moscow that both the military and political strategies have failed. At that point, a radically new situation will emerge. Not only will it be obvious to everyone that Russia cannot win; it might even start to look as though Russia will lose the war that Putin started. 

At that point, Russia will have no choice but to put the profound strategic failure of the Putin regime in the past.

I wish I believed Russians were so pragmatic. But look at how long they suffered the indignities of Communism, before acting. 

Thursday, September 22, 2022

How Your Taxes Are Wasted

Universities have experienced the same ugly administrative bloat.
Image courtesy of Steven Hayward of Power Line.

Wise Words

Ed Driscoll, posting at Instapundit (scroll down) cites a Tweet David Frum sent 4 years ago.

If liberals insist that enforcing borders is a job only fascists will do, then voters will hire fascists to do the job liberals won't.

Doing so will torpedo the wealthy's supply of low-wage maids, nannies, gardeners and pool boys. Hear them squeal.

Weird Bariatric Science

GQ has a story about a new class of weight loss drugs called incretins. One of them was originally developed as an anti-diabetic drug, but those taking it lost like 20% of body weight, as a side effect. After losing the weight, some people with type 2 diabetes no longer had the condition.

Now it looks like various of the incretins might be approved for weight loss prescription. Two drawbacks: they are designed to be taken essentially forever and they are EXPENSIVE (perhaps $2000 per month). 

Medicare doesn't cover weight loss drugs. As a result many insurance plans don't either. Given the epidemic nature of obesity and the huge potential market, thought should be given to making these more affordable. 

Big Poll Drops

The Harvard CAPS/Harris poll is one of the most comprehensive surveys being done currently. You might want to check out their extensive findings, some of which favor Republicans. 

Actually, I saw little that outright surprised me. One very comforting finding, Americans are wisely more concerned about socialist tendencies of the Democrat's progressive wing than about the MAGA leanings of Trump's supporters (55 vs. 45%).

Wakeup call for elites: Majorities say neither Trump nor Biden should run in 2024, a rejection of gerontocracy.  The data were collected during the first week of September.

Same Old, Same Old

The Washington Examiner has an article with this title:

Jobs for life: Federal government very rarely fires workers

I'm not surprised it is still true, but it certainly is not new. Let me tell you a true story.

As a junior faculty member, I was loaned to the Federal Government as a temporary employee in the mid-1970s. I joined a large subdivision of the Department of Agriculture as an "internal consultant." My agency at that time had roughly 10,000 employees scattered across the country and even a few overseas. 

I worked for them for two years and returned to my university post. While there I was colocated in a unit consisting of five professionals (one of whom the boss) and two clericals. 

I shared an office with one of the professionals, a former Roman Catholic priest who had left the priesthood, married, got retrained as an Episcopal minister, and was pastor at a small church in a DC suburb. USDA was his "day job" that paid bills but the pastorate was where his heart was. 

He spent much of his at-work time on the phone conducting parish business, scheduling weddings, baptisms, funerals, counseling the bereaved, etc. Candidly, the tax payers weren't getting their money's worth from my officemate.

After a couple of months when I felt comfortable doing so I asked the boss why he tolerated it. He opened my eyes to the realities of federal management. He said, as best I remember it, "Every federal supervisor eventually tries to fire some particularly egregious loser. None of us ever tries it a second time. It is just too punishing."

The process drags out over nearly three years, during which the target of the firing continues coming to work where he or she sits and glowers at the boss, does nothing useful, and foments discontent among the other employees while continuing to occupy a slot and draw pay.

Should the supervisor make any missteps in the complicated and intentionally difficult multi-step separation procedure, the firing will not succeed. However the supervisor will have wasted much of his or her time for three years in vain and his or her own performance appraisal will suffer, at least in part because the attempted firing also takes up a fair amount of the next level manager's time.

So you're a federal supervisor with a lame employee, what can you do? Why, help the loser find an even better, higher paying job elsewhere in government, of course. We had an ironic name for it, "turkey outplacement." Or you ignore them, as my boss did my officemate.

My agency was the recipient of one such turkey when we hired a unit manager from a smaller USDA agency and subsequently were asked by its employees how we were conned into hiring the loser. Our only possible rejoinder: "Now you tell us he was dreck?" Too embarrassing to admit we believed his glowing references, which were written to get rid of him.

The other professionals in the office ranged from excellent to useful-but-eccentric, none were active embarrassments. I partnered with the excellent one and together we generated an award-winning process by which lab scientists were selected for training as science managers.

When Bad News Is Good News

Investor's Business Daily has a long-standing relationship with the TIPP polling organization. The latter's publication, TIPP Insights has what issues voters consider important, a poll done in early September. People were asked to select their top three issues facing our country. 
The economy is the #1 issue for nearly half (48%) of the Americans who took part in the poll. 
The #2 issue is Gun violence/Gun control at a distant 27%. 
Immigration and border security (24%) is the #3 issue.

If you are curious, Crime (22%) came in fourth, and Climate Change and Abortion tied for fifth (21% each) Twice as many picked the economy for their top issue as chose anything else. 

As James Carville famously said while working for the Bill Clinton campaign, "It's the economy, stupid." Everyone buys groceries, nearly everyone buys gasoline, and many find the interest rates on their credit card balances and ARMs soaring. 

If you assume these poll results are more-or-less accurate, they favor Republicans. 

Later ... Now Axios reports web searches for immigration have surpassed abortion; searches are viewed as a proxy for issue importance. They attribute it to the Martha's Vineyard dump of illegals and the attention that has gotten. Gov. DeSantis is a wizard who keeps pranking Democrats.

Wednesday, September 21, 2022


CA Governor Gavin Newsom claims, in a video interview, that his state losing population is because of Trump administration visa rules. This sort of bizarre statement needs some interpretation.

If Newsom is to be believed, Trump made it more difficult for Silicon Valley IT firms to import tech-savvy foreigners on specialized "needed skills" visas. Reading between Newsom's lines, he is saying if the pre-Trump rules applied, the IT firms would have imported enough engineers from India to replace the Californians fleeing so that his CA population would have remained constant.

Is that pathetic or what? U.S. citizens are fleeing the mess in his state but it is only a problem because he can't import enough bright foreigners, accustomed to third world conditions, willing to work for less to fill the slots and keep the magic machine working. 

He apparently did later admit there were factors at work in CA that are unpleasant for its residents: homelessness, crime, high taxes, high cost housing, power outages, forest fires, and environmental overreach. 

If Newsom would do something about that list of ugly "factors," perhaps Californians wouldn't be fleeing to other states which have more reasonable approaches. I write this as a paid-up member of the California diaspora.

News from Russia

The BBC and other sources are reporting thousands of Russians have protested Putin's call up of the Russian army reserves. It appears hundreds have been arrested, in St. Petersburg, Moscow and in the Russian Far East.

It is also reported that one way flights out of Russia have sold out, and at least one source reports the government has banned any man aged 18-65 from leaving.

The BBC also reports Putin has announced snap referendums in the occupied territories of Ukraine with the aim of incorporating them into Russia itself. And not coincidentally declared he will do "anything" to defend Russian territory.

As we've noted before, Putin has painted himself into a corner where he either "wins" or is killed by his own people. Expect him to eventually declare Russia is in a war of survival, and draft civilians. 

Putin will go forward regardless because he personally has no other choice. Sadly, Russia gets to share his fate to some extent.

Goldman on China

Writing for the Claremont Institute's The American Mind publication, David Goldman says we get five things wrong about China and our policy toward the Middle Kingdom. Here are those five, minus the explanation he gives for each.

Myth #1: America is making China rich, and can weaken it by reducing imports, investment, and so forth.

Myth #2: China depends on stolen American technology.

Myth #3: China faces demographic collapse.

Myth #4: China wants to take over Taiwan because it is led by an expansionist Marxist-Leninist party that hates and fears democracy.

Myth #5: We can deter China by shifting military forces to Asia and adding to conventional capabilities.

And Goldman lists five things we need to do to win the competition with China. 

  • We need to fund federal R&D at the Reagan level, that is, an additional 1% of GDP, or roughly $2 trillion over ten years.
  • We need a radical revision of tax and regulatory policy to favor capital-intensive manufacturing. 
  • We need selective subsidies for mission-critical industries. 
  • We need to shift in educational priorities toward engineering and hard science. 
  • We need to shift defense priorities away from legacy systems toward innovation, including space-based missile defense, directed-energy weapons, cyber war, and drone swarms.
  • I see much here with which I agree. Particularly the importance of on-shoring mission-critical industries like pharmaceuticals and computer chips. He shares my concern that aircraft carriers are huge billion dollar targets, impossible to protect against a determined peer adversary.

    It will be difficult culturally and politically to "shift educational priorities toward engineering and hard science" as those tend to be fields in which Asians and whites excel and BIPOCs don't. 

    The Autumnal Equinox

    Today, the 21st of September, we celebrate the autumnal equinox, which is the formal end of summer and the formal beginning of autumn. Again, formally, the time between now and December 21 is autumn, at which point winter will begin.

    You might ask, what is going on with the “formals?” Technical answer: today in both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres the length of day and night will be equal. The real answer is that at six thousand feet elevation in the Rockies, autumn began three weeks ago and winter will arrive in late November. 

    That’s life in the high country. We get too much winter, and too little summer. That’s the downside, the upside is that summer here isn’t very hot but is very dry, meaning it is almost always comfortable. 

    So as you might imagine, we “snowbirds” are preparing to “fly” south to our winter quarters where the summers we avoid are blisteringly hot but the winters are comfortable. We drive nearly due south roughly 600 miles and leave the ice and snow behind. 

    We have spent the year in two places like this since the mid-1990s, before we retired from the university. Why not have nice weather year round, if you can?

    Historically, it is retirees who have the freedom to be snowbirds. With the growth in work-from-home it may become popular with many younger folk.

    Tuesday, September 20, 2022

    Intentional Water-Muddying?

    Our policy vis-a-vis China and Taiwan is called "deliberate ambiguity" wherein we leave unclear the extent to which we would aid Taiwan in defending itself if attacked by China. China claims the island as a rogue province.

    On more than one recent occasion, President Biden has said that the US would defend Taiwan if attacked, and then had his words "clarified" by the White House munchkins who say that our policies have not changed. You might be wondering what is going on.

    It is easy to say it is foggy old Joe mixing up his words again, and that may be the case. I wonder if it isn't the occasionally crafty old Joe making sure China truly doesn't know what we'd do if Taiwan is attacked? Effectively making our Taiwan policy more deliberately ambiguous than formerly. 

    Who knows, it might work. Or it might start World War III.

    Energy-free Cooling

    RealClearWorld links to a podcast at a site called The Conversation the topic of which is that global warming will cause us to reexamine architectural techniques and designs that, following World War II, fell into disuse.

    Some architects and researchers are working to rehabilitate and improve traditional passive techniques that help keep buildings cool without using energy. Susan Abed Hassan, a professor of architectural engineering at Al-Nahrain University in Baghdad, Iraq, focuses a lot on windcatchers in her work, a type of chimney which funnels air through houses to keep them cooler in hot climates. She’s now looking at how to combining underground water pipes with windcatchers to enhance their cooling effects.

    Let me tell you about a building the DrsC have experienced that does this passive cooling very well. I have in mind the former presidential palace in what was once Saigon, now called Ho Chi Minh City, and the building is now named the Reunification Palace or Independence Palace.  

    The current building was designed by Vietnamese architect Ngô Viết Thụ in the post-colonial era. I remember it to be non-air conditioned but naturally cool in otherwise sweltering Vietnam. If designing buildings to remain cool without a/c becomes important, applying the design features of this beautiful building should be high on the list. 

    Monday, September 19, 2022

    Good News

    The College Fix reports a movement among the faculty of the huge California State University system to support “open debate and free inquiry.” Some 160 of the system’s 56,000 faculty and staff signed onto a declaration of principles. Not exactly a groundswell, but a decent beginning.

    My interest comes from a career spent teaching at four of the system’s 20+ campuses, and graduating (twice) from a fifth. I wish the system well, it has been an avenue for upward mobility for hundreds of thousands of lucky California kids like me and the other DrC. Hat tip to Instapundit for the link.

    Cultural Differences

    Insightful comment made in response to a BattleSwarmBlog article about shoddy Asian building practices. 
    Much of Asia has a general culture of fatalism coupled with greed and a bizarre inability to connect cause with effect. You literally have to change the culture, in order to ensure that they won’t cut corners, which everyone from the guys out doing the work to the guys in the front offices are in on.

    I saw this sort of thing on Guam, the culture of which in the mid-1980s was Asian, regardless of the U.S. flag flying. The DrsC concluded many locals went through the motions without understanding the underlying logic of why what they were doing was asked of them. 

    We guessed they believed they were carrying out rituals of a culture they neither shared nor understood but went along with because we were the “ruling caste.” Over the years since I have regaled many with examples of OOG (only on Guam) weirdness.

    A Worm in the Big Apple

    You can’t make this stuff up, it’s unbelievable. National Review reports the City University of New York is a hotbed of anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism.

    The Big Apple — locus of the world’s highest concentration of Jews outside of Israel.

    In the city Jesse Jackson disparagingly called “Hymietown,” they’re discriminating against Jews? Seems like the faculty union is BDS and pro-Palestinian with a vengeance. Talk about the worm turning, this is a lulu, a pip.

    Sunday, September 18, 2022

    The Brave New World of AI

    Occasionally I read something I believe you really need to read, and I label it a "must read." Writing for The Atlantic and echoed at, Stephen Marche describes where we are with artificial intelligence (AI) and where it is going. Trust me, it is a "must read."

    An esoteric something called Natural Language Processing which involves billions of parameters is at its core. There is a sense in which our tech types are creating a god, or perhaps God. 

    Particularly fascinating is the ability of AI machines to mimic individuals so well that, much of the time, you can't know whether you are communicating with the individual or the machine avatar. 

    I propose a future in which each of us has an AI "familiar" which keeps us company, acts as our friend and advisor, tolerates our idiosyncrasies, and keeps the existential loneliness at bay. If all this seems a bit like science fiction, I assure you the article is not fictional.

    Another article, at Science Alert claims super intelligence AI will be impossible to control. AI is very spooky stuff. 

    Rudeness at UO

    Various news sources are reporting Oregon fans at Saturday's football game between UO and BYU chanted "F*** the Mormons." I am a UO alumnus and I am offended by their behavior.

    I lived in Eugene for three years, and attended plenty of games in Autzen Stadium. I now live in a LDS majority area of western Wyoming. So I have known Oregonians and Mormons. Of the two, I prefer Mormons, hands down.

    Incidentally, I am neither an Oregonian nor an adherent of the LDS faith. I have been a more-than-casual observer of both groups.

    A Magic Moral Time Machine

    Power Line's Steven Hayward quotes HBO host/comic Bill Maher who makes a valid point about current people dumping on our heroes of yesteryear.

    Being woke is like a magic moral time machine where you judge everybody against what you would have done in 1066 and you always win. (snip) It’s just a way to congratulate yourself about being better than George Washington because you have a gay friend and he didn’t. But if he was alive today he would too. And if you were alive then, you wouldn’t.

    Renaming schools, hospitals, and parks honoring our founders is what Maher calls "presentism."  Of course their values were not today's values, you wouldn't (or shouldn't) expect them to be the same. We are amazingly fortunate they could imagine a world better than the one they inhabited and put our feet on a path to arrive here.

    Saturday, September 17, 2022

    The Saturday Snark Harvest

    Images courtesy of Power Line's The Week in Pictures.

    Friday, September 16, 2022

    Pork Pilot

    Nobody in this administration gets economics.
    Image courtesy of Politico, #13.

    Time for a Rethink

    Yeah? No. MV not standing with refugees.
    Image courtesy of Ed Driscoll, posting at Instapundit.

    Recession Near

    Stephen Green posts the following two items at Instapundit. If you don't think we are headed into a recession, think again.

    FedEx issues ominous warning about the global economy, shares tumble. “Cost-cutting measures outlined by FedEx include reducing flights, temporarily parking aircraft, closing more than 90 FedEx office locations, and deferring hiring plans.”

    Goldman Sachs preparing layoffs across all departments as soon as next week.

    Remember to give thanks to President Biden for his help in bringing this "correction" about. Biden was never very smart on his best day, which was some decades ago.

    I forgot to add that Bed, Bath & Beyond is closing 150 stores and will lay off 20% of their workforce.

    Thursday, September 15, 2022

    Weird Feline Science

    As a kid growing up in an orange orchard in SoCal, we usually had an outdoor cat that we fed, and petted. He also hunted gophers and other rodents, and slept on a chenille rug on the back porch. 

    My dad had told me that a falling cat always lands on its feet so, being something of an empiricist, I tried it and found it to be true. The cat apparently forgave me, as we remained friends. 

    Now someone has written an article about this ability for The Atlantic, here echoed at It turns out they can often fall many stories and survive, if a bit worse for wear. 

    If you like cats or just fun, off-the-wall science, read what they wrote. Fun fact: cats achieve "terminal velocity" at about 60 miles per hour and fall no faster regardless of distance fallen.

    Having to Walk the Talk

    Flying volunteer illegal immigrants to Martha's Vineyard, busing them to the Vice President's house, these are genius moves. As Saul Alinsky advocated, force your opponent live up to the rules they demand you follow. 

    If places want to call themselves "sanctuaries" they may, but I see they don't like it when you send them refugees to feed and house. Marin County needs some, Beverly Hills and Pebble Beach too, so do Vail and Aspen, and how about Palm Beach? A busload each on the campuses of Stanford and Cal would go a treat. Each of the Ivies needs 100 or so.

    Cities like SF and Seattle, Portland and Sacramento, Boston and Philadelphia need their share, too. Make 'em walk the talk or shut up. 

    Maybe the Ds will eventually decide to defend the border, and resume building the wall. We can't invite the entire world's population here to live.

    Latter-Day Celibacy

    Wisdom shows up in a comment reacting to an Ann Althouse post. Her basic discussion is the lack of marriage and children and even sexual relations in Japan, I liked this comment.

    I suspect that humans are simply not evolved to handle new media and new tech -- there will be a shake out and die off of those who cannot adapt. Young men become isolated nerds who thrive on porn, while young women become fantasy princesses waiting for billionaires who never arrive.

    Caveat: The billionaires are giving it a good try but there aren't enough billionaires to go around. How many children does Elon Musk admit to? 

    Most sources claim he has 10 with a variety of mothers. He can afford the child support but his day has the same 24 hours yours has. So many "princesses," so little time.

    Demonstrated Disinterest

    Two days ago I wrote about the dreary looking folk at the Emmys. Now the Nielsen ratings are in for its viewership. Turns out I had lots of company in finding the performers on display disappointing. Variety reports:

    The awards show was down 25% from last year in total viewers and hit a new record low in ratings. On Monday, the Kenan Thompson-hosted 74th Emmy Awards had a 1.0 rating among adults 18-49, the lowest-ever key demo stat for the Emmys.

    Does anybody want to admit broadcast TV is yesterday's technology, is old news? That it isn't where the big bucks and hot talent are going?  

    Wednesday, September 14, 2022

    We Become Less Religious

    CBS News reports survey data produced jointly by the Pew Research Center and the General Social Survey. The subject is the religious affiliation, if any, of Americans. The findings summarized are these:

    In the early '90s, about 90% of people in the U.S. identified as Christians, the report said. In 2020, Christians accounted for about 64% of the U.S. population, including children. Meanwhile, those who are not affiliated with a religion has grown from 16% in 2007 to 30% in 2020, according to the research. All other religions, including Judaism, Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism, accounted for about 6% in 2020.

    "Depending on the future of religious switching, people who identify as atheist, agnostic or 'nothing in particular' could become America's largest (non)religious group within our lifetime," Pew researcher Stephanie Kramer tweeted.

    This trend has been evident in Europe for some years, and is now very much in evidence here, as well. 

    Iran Deal Bogged Down

    Good news is where you find it. The Biden administration’s indirect negotiations with Iran in hopes of reviving the JCPOA nuclear agreement appear to be failing. Doing business with Iran is like picking up road kill, you get slimed in the process. Power Line has the story, don’t be misled by the PL title which is whimsical.

    It is likely the only way to deal with Iran’s nuclear program is to bomb it into oblivion, either us or preferably the Israelis with Arab help. That’s a big step, one that so far nobody is willing to take. I expect Iran will eventually make it inevitable, their imputed thirst for martyrdom seems bottomless. 

    Electricity Is Odd

    I just read an interesting article in The Atlantic about the peculiarities, if that is the right word, of electricity. It works oddly, the author writes, and I think the author has a point, which is the article’s contribution and why you might want to read it.

    It describes how demand peaks just as solar power is going off line around sunset, and how that is being managed. And it suggests that the charging of electric cars can mostly happen in the hours after people have gone to sleep. I appreciate the fact that the author doesn’t assume we can generate power at one time of day and use it at another, “store electricity for later” is not likely to ever be a major factor.

    It is probably too optimistic about how usage can be moved into the hours when solar is dumping extra megawatts into the system. High usage items like ovens are hard to move when all adults in a household work outside the home. Ditto with anything else that involves resistance heating, like taking hot showers or ironing, or especially heating the house, which most often happens on winter nights when there is no sunshine.

    I imagine it will be possible to design systems which run during the day when people are at work and the solar power is flowing, and build up heat or cold which can be “stored” for a few hours. Imagine a freezer that did most of its work during midday and could ‘coast’ through the peak demand hours of early evening. The article doesn’t say so, but we know how to store heat and cold for a few hours, while it isn’t easy or cheap to store the electricity itself.

    For sure we need to improve the electric grid, and add sources of uninterruptible power like nuclear and hydro power. Skeptics have convinced me that wind turbine and solar will never be our major sources of power, at least not with currently available technology. Absent tech breakthroughs totally unforeseen at this point, at no time in the life of anyone reading this will non-polluting, renewable sources produce most of our electric power. 

    What the author foresees is a system the intricacies of which will render it fragile and precarious. Minute by minute balancing of generation and consumption of power is like juggling, doable but not easy and far from bullet-proof. It will make our civilization even more balanced on a knife edge, and that concerns me because as we all know Murphy’s Law is still in effect, bad stuff does happen.

    Tuesday, September 13, 2022

    Timing Is Everything

    President Biden held a celebration of the so-called "Inflation Reduction Act" today at the White House. Experts agree it will do nothing about inflation, and is laden with pork. 

    James Taylor (remember him?) sang "Fire and Rain." The choice was extra-appropriate as the actual inflation numbers came out and the inflation news continues to get worse. The fire of inflation continues to burn and the stock market rained on Biden's 'parade.'

    The inflation continuation news caused the stock market to tank big time. The Dow, Nasdaq, and S&P 500 all down like crazy, biggest losses in years.

    Slow Joe looked foolish bragging about the economy when it is headed in the toilet. He really is turning out to be one of the worst presidents in my long life, and I remember Jimmy Carter who was bad enough. 

    Geriatric Biden was the best the Democrats could come up with? Really? Those dudes have a bench problem. 

    Analysis and Prediction

    My go-to foreign policy guy, George Friedman, considers Ukraine and makes a prediction about what Russia will do next militarily. It appears at his Geopolitical Futures website. 

    He considers four alternatives, rejects three as unlikely for various reasons, and more or less by default predicts the fourth. Here it is, we'll see if he is correct. 

    The fourth strategy is the only one that seems like a real possibility. One side must defeat the other. Neither side can afford the cost of failing such an attack. The Russian advantage is manpower. There are reports from multiple sources, including American ones, of large numbers of Russian troops training in the Russian Far East. The Russians need more troops, so these reports are believable. 

    Russia is not going to defeat an army armed with American weapons with the number of forces it has deployed thus far. The Russians face a choice of attacking with overwhelming force or losing the war. They will choose the former.

    So long as Putin is president, every effort will be made to win, because he cannot afford anything less than victory. And I don’t see any other possible strategies except the manpower one, which I assume will happen very soon or after the winter. It does not seem to me that the current forces deployed by Russia can do more than hold on to some areas. There needs to be reinforcement. Putin may have other strategies, but they are hard to envision.

    Men you can train, and probably arm; armor, artillery and supply transport don't magically appear in a couple of months. Putin can't move that number of troops across a continent in stealth, satellite photos will reveal the movement so we'll have some warning. 

    The question is whether we can sufficiently arm Ukraine to withstand massed infantry attacks as the U.S. had to do fighting the Chinese hordes in Korea. In that sort of battle the wholesale slaughter is phenomenal, the vultures will eat till they cannot fly.

    While the Cat Is Away

    In the recent war between Azerbaijan and Armenia, the Azeris were winning when a cease-fire was declared. The Russians, who are more-or-less allied with the Armenians, stepped in as peace-keepers.

    Now that the Russians appear to be losing in Ukraine, the Azeris have resumed attacking Armenia. The theory is that the Russians are too busy and beleaguered in Ukraine to bother with defending Armenia.

    Furthermore, the war is spreading beyond the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region to attacks on territory considered by the international community to be indisputably Armenian.

    This constitutes an escalation of the conflict. It is straightforward opportunism by Azerbaijan, which is backed by Erdogan's Turkey.

    This fighting can be viewed as a front in the Long War. Armenia is Orthodox Christian and Azerbaijan is Islamic. The state religion of Russia is Orthodox Christian and that of Turkey is Islam. (Russia, of course, has minority Islamic citizens, as well as adherents of other faiths across its eleven time zones.)


    Controversial political scientist Charles Murray riffing on what constitutes a good life, as reported in an interview in City Journal.

    Marry your soul mate and find a vocation you love, and everything else is a rounding error. I’ve done both of those things.
    You may not love what Murray wrote about race and IQ, or about how welfare causes poverty, but the dude knows what you need for a good life. I've been there, coincidentally done what he advocates, and he is correct.

    Libertarianism Run Amok

    The Sacramento Bee is the Washington Post for California, which is to say it is the semi-official mouthpiece of the state’s government. Today they have a pretty good article about a homeless encampment near the Sacramento River, called by its residents “the snake pit.” 

    Summertime temperatures in the Big Valley can easily hit 110 ℉, tough conditions for living rough. Most of the residents are strung out, addicted, psychotic, handicapped or merely hapless losers. Rapes and assaults are common, and nobody much cares.

    Is this the way a civilized society treats its broken members? Obviously, I don’t believe it is. Which, ipso facto, says whatever else we are, “civilized” we are not. 

    Perhaps this is libertarianism run amok, meaning you are free to go to hell if that is where your karma takes you. And we are free to ignore you until your inability to cope becomes fatal, at which point an unmarked grave in potters field will be provided. 

    All of this ‘splendor’ in what is proudly called “the world’s fifth largest economy.” CA Governor Newsom should be ashamed.

    At The Emmys

    One of the online news services offered me People magazine’s photo shoot from the Emmys broadcast red carpet, to check out the couture pix. I don’t watch a lot of broadcast TV but thought “Let’s check out the pretty people all dressed up.” Man, what a let-down.

    There were a lot of pretty clothes on display, but the people on whom they were draped were a sad-sack looking bunch. Honesty, most of them were people at whom I wouldn’t look twice if seen in street clothes in a market or on a sidewalk. They were the most ordinary looking folk. 

    I presume there are still beautiful people in some quantity in show biz, but they weren’t parading at the Emmys last night, that’s for sure. No wonder TV viewing is down, you see schlubs like these at Walmart any Saturday, while shopping.

    Monday, September 12, 2022

    The Great Replacement in Europe

    Middle East Forum publishes an interesting article about the relative birth rates of Europeans and their Muslim immigrants. The conclusion: in a few decades Europe will be Islamic, and the strategy is intentional, not an unintended by-product of cultural differences. The title is descriptive:

    The Baby Jihad: 'We're Taking Over Your Country'

    Hat tip to Power Line for the link. 

    Without You, He Repeated

    CNN quotes Ukraine President Zelensky telling Russia via Telegram how it stands between them, check out his "Dear John" rhetoric.

    Do you still think that we are 'one nation?' Do you still think that you can scare us, break us, make us make concessions?

    You really did not understand anything? Don't understand who we are? What are we for? What are we talking about?

    Read my lips: Without gas or without you? Without you. Without light or without you? Without you. Without water or without you? Without you. Without food or without you? Without you.

    Cold, hunger, darkness and thirst are not as scary and deadly for us as your 'friendship and brotherhood,' But history will put everything in its place. And we will be with gas, light, water and food ... and WITHOUT you!

    I try to imagine if it even possible to say "We Are Not Russians" in a more emphatic manner. Zelensky knows how to break off a relationship. 

    Things Better Left Unsaid

    It is widely reported, including here, that Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) who represents the Seattle area, in her Tweet remembrance of the 9/11 attacks included the 19 hijackers in her total of lives lost. Following a storm of protest, she has taken down the Tweet.

    The only thing regrettable about the 19 hijacker deaths is that they were too over too quickly and insufficiently unpleasant. The hijackers clearly deserved the death penalty. 

    Ms. Jayapal deserves opprobrium for publicly regretting their deaths. There truly are people the world is better without and those 19 are included in that number. 

    I do not wish Jayapal harm in any physical sense, but I would hope there are enough decent people in Seattle to select another representative for their district. She is a poster child for the People’s Democratic Republic of Seattle, emblematic of its Maoist reputation.

    Parsing Harris, Plus an Invidious Comparison

    Power Line’s Scott Johnson summarizes his reaction to a recent appearance of Vice President Kamala Harris on NBC’s Meet the Press, and her non-answer to a question about our uncontrolled southern border.

    Harris was both unprepared and incapable of answering it. She is a glorified idiot one heartbeat away from the job currently occupied by the guy with half a mind to be president.

    And that is the “safe for work” version, PL doesn’t do NSFW. Actually, I think I disagree somewhat with Johnson.

    I suspect Harris has lived as a conventionally attractive woman of color who has never needed to get serious about public speaking to be promoted. Who doesn’t like laughing, apparently happy pretty women? 

    Under pressure Harris reverts to what has worked all these years - a smile and a happy laugh. Her problem: it doesn’t qualify her as presidential. All those years ago in 1969 when she was only five, Lawrence Peters had it right, she has gotten promoted to her level of incompetence.


    Consider the contrast with Governor/Ambassador Nicki Haley, another conventionally attractive woman of color with a beautiful smile who is scary smart and an excellent public speaker. We don’t need to imagine her on the world stage, she has succeeded there.

    Haley obviously hasn’t coasted on her looks. When we get a woman president, I hope she will be more like Haley. Actually, I’d vote for Haley, if nominated.

    Local Schools Rate Well

    Forbes Magazine is out with a ranking of the nation’s public schools, and my home state of Wyoming comes in 12th (scroll down), which isn’t bad. You might find interesting their thumbnail about the state.

    Wyoming’s economy is different from most states with mineral extraction and tourism comprising major industry sectors. The federal government owns roughly half of the state’s landmass. Top tourist attractions include Grand Teton National Park, Yellowstone National Park, and Independence Rock.

    Yellowstone opened as the world’s first national park and attracted 4.1 million visitors in 2017, down 3% from the previous year when it set a record. The Tax Foundation ranks Wyoming first in its analysis of state tax costs on business. Wyoming is the least populous state in the U.S.

    The WY schools’ quality ranking is 8th (out of 51) but their safety ranking is only 37th. We don’t do a lot of “nanny state” stuff in Wyoming.

    Gun ownership is nearly universal and hunting is a major preoccupation for many. Nearly every summer I see one or more individuals doing “open carry” with a holstered handgun on hip. Motorcyclists do or don’t wear helmets, it’s up to the rider. 

    We take seriously the motto: “the way America used to be” and none of the local schools has so much as a fence around it. In Wyoming you could probably ignore Instapundit’s warning that sending your kids to public school has become parental malpractice.

    A Mostly Ignored Hot Spot

    We don’t spend a lot of effort studying what happens in sub-Saharan Africa or Central Asia. Both could almost exist on another planet, except for the natural resources in the eastern Congo which several international actors very much want.

    Writing for the Foreign Policy Research Institute Raphael Parens makes some sweeping claims about what appears to be a tribal-based, four-or-more-cornered proxy war in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo or DRC, with several armed groups as well as the national army involved. See his introductory paragraph:

    The ongoing conflict in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has cost approximately six million lives since 1996, making it one of the deadliest conflicts in world history. Ethnic and geopolitical competition among DRC, Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi, and various non-state armed groups fuel the fighting. This conflict has displaced over five million Congolese, fueling a cycle of poverty and militarization.

    If it weren’t for the mineral wealth of Africa's Great Lakes region, the rest of the world would probably ignore it as a local squabble. However: 

    This region is home to a variety of natural resources, including gold, diamonds, oil, and other precious metals. DRC is the world’s third largest diamond producer at 23 percent of global supply, the largest producer of cobalt at 70 percent, an essential rare earth element in the green technology revolution, and a significant producer of gold, copper, and tin.

    Parens sees the protracted conflict creating opportunities for foreign players’ mercenary groups - primarily Russia’s Wagner Group and certain less well publicized units from China. An upside Parens doesn’t explore is that the Islamic influence he fears may not manage to overcome long-standing tribal loyalties in the region that predate the now gone colonial era. 

    The situation Parens describes is a humanitarian tragedy, but I don’t see the U.S. getting deeply involved. Unless our Green ecofreaks manage to make electric cars mandatory, which could skyrocket the demand for Congolese cobalt. Hat tip to RealClearWorld for the link.

    Ukraine Analysis

    RealClearPolitics links to a Substack blog with a quite positive view of recent events transpiring in Ukraine and Russia. Written by a Laurence Freed, it tries to be measured but ends up optimistic. 

    With the caveats that analysts can be wrong, and that the outcome of one battle does not predict the outcome of a war, it is still a worthwhile read for the person who wants to know a bit more than “who’s winning.”

    Sunday, September 11, 2022

    Trouble on the Home Front is turning into a source on Ukraine that so far seems to combine quick reactions with careful reporting. Tonight they are reporting there are more than a few well-placed, patriotic Russians criticizing the conduct of the war in Ukraine.

    So far the critics appear to be targeting the military brass, careful to pose their critiques as seeing senior officers letting Putin down. It isn't clear if this ruse will work.

    These patriotic Russians appear to brave defenestration in the current environment. How much of this is safe before one exits a high-rise window is anybody's guess. 

    If I put myself in Putin's shoes, short of victory, I don't see a way out of my current predicament in which I survive. If I don't win I will be scapegoated and killed. Which means I personally have nothing to lose in escalation. The nation has plenty to lose ... that's another story. 

    Stepping back out of Putin’s shoes we ask ourselves, is Putin enough of a patriot to put the nation ahead of himself? Is it really all about Russia as he claims, or is it about Putin? That is a hard choice most autocrats cannot make, or they see the two as inseparable - l'État, c'est moi.

    Monday Morning Snark

    English isn't entirely phonetic.
    Image courtesy of from Sept. 12, 2022.

    A Modern Modest Proposal

    As the previous post indicates, Los Angeles seems to have lost its purpose and focus. Coincidentally, it has some of the best weather for "living rough" as being homeless is sometimes described. With a hat tip to Jonathan Swift, might I suggest a latter-day modest proposal.

    Convert Los Angeles into the nation's homeless shelter, set up bullet-proof public restrooms, distribute free drugs and food, and invite one and all to come hang out there. Make it a sanctuary or coventry for the nation's idle, addicted and insane, enforce no laws, fight no fires, and let the inmates run the asylum. Perhaps even provide free one-way transportation for all who wish to come. 

    But please, make entry easy and leaving the opposite, the gates need to swing largely one-way. Then, we can reinstitute vagrancy laws in the rest of the country and generally clean up the mess in places like SF and Portland that aren't nearly so gifted by nature with climate suitable for outdoor living. 

    We could fund some of the cost by televising the more entertaining antics of the inhabitants. I'm imagining Mad Max reality video.

    And just to be very clear, for those who don't "get" the Swift reference, this is mostly satire. That is, except for the parts that are already operational - informally arranged, as it were.

    Afterthought: I can imagine judges offering lifer convicts a choice, go to prison or be shipped to LA.

    Elegy for a Once-Great City

    I was born in Los Angeles, lived there until age 7, and grew up 50-60 miles northwest of LA. I'm old enough to remember when "smog" was first talked about; it got bad soon after we moved but still went back on weekends to visit relatives - coughing, stinging eyes and skies the color of phlegm.

    LA was becoming a city on wheels as World War II ended and gasoline became available once more. Ironically, the thing that mostly caused the smog was why we moved. They built a freeway right over our house, which stood about 6 blocks from the fabled "Hollywood and Vine" intersection.


    That's my LA history. Spiked has a column by Joel Kotkin about the more recent decline and fall of once-great Los Angeles. As is his wont, it is filled with data about population loss, the headquarters of important firms moving elsewhere, and the loss of well-paying manufacturing jobs.

    According to Chapman Business School professor Marshall Toplansky, even the strongest parts of the LA economy, like entertainment, are slowly declining, as companies seek cheaper and safer locales.

    Forty per cent of the jobs in Los Angeles County – of which the city constitutes roughly half – pay under $40,000. As Toplansky notes, in a high-cost city like LA, this represents a poverty wage. LA’s rate of working poverty is far higher than in San Francisco’s Bay Area and in neighbouring Orange County.

    Critically, the city is also losing its appeal to families and the young. Over the past 20 years, Los Angeles County has lost nearly 700,000 people under 25 – the biggest per capita decline in youth among all large US counties. In contrast, its elderly population has surged by 500,000. The Los Angeles Unified School District, which is mostly inside the city boundaries, has lost over 40 per cent of its student body in just 20 years.

    Even immigrants, who have restored much of the city’s vitality in the past few decades, are no longer coming. Between the 2010 and 2020 censuses, the number of foreign-born residents in Los Angeles County fell.

    If you read Kotkin and Victor Davis Hanson, you could believe CA is in its death throes, which isn't completely true yet, but certainly seems where it is headed. Kotkin's description of public employee union control of political outcomes in the state is frighteningly accurate.

    As I often remind our readers, if you want to see where LA is headed, view the Matt Damon film Elysium. The plot is ho-hum but the depiction of future LA is mind-boggling, it looks like the barios in Ensenada or Nogales. And as Kotkin describes LA politics, that's its likely future. 

    Editorial note: Demographer/Social Commentator Joel Kotkin is so prolific I swear he has a stable of researchers and assistants supporting him, he must average nearly a long, fact-filled column per day! True enough, many cover related stretches of metaphorical ground but still he is a publishing phenomenon.