Sunday, December 31, 2023

Have a Gala New Years Eve

Dear Readers. please have a nice New Year's Eve, even festive if that is possible. We already have the video recorder set to record both versions of the Rose Parade, so we don't have to rise early to see it.

If you must imbibe alcohol to have a good time, please do so responsibly and avoid driving thereafter. Plus a final thought along those lines, champagne is pleasant but, as a friend once described the morning after, "it doesn't burn clean." Translation: it's a mean hangover.

2024 will be both a presidential election year and a leap year, so your February will have an additional day. The Iowa GOP caucuses will be happening in a couple of weeks, and there will be plenty of political news as the year unfolds. Lots to write about in the months ahead.

If you have the flexibility in your life, try to build in some buffers against whatever vagaries the fates should send our way. Putting aside some bottled water and canned foods wouldn't hurt and doesn't cost much. Keeping your car's fuel tank at least half full makes sense. Avoiding the centers of big cities whenever possible is prudent, too. Stay safe.

Concha: Predictions for '24

I'm having fun reading various pundits' predictions for 2024. In most cases their guess is no better than mine, but sometimes their reasoning, as explained, adds something to my thinking on the subject. Media critic and Fox News contributor Joe Concha posts eight predictions.

Prediction: Donald Trump comfortably wins an ugly presidential election to become the nation's 47th president.
Prediction: Trump chooses Nikki Haley as his running mate.
Prediction: Republicans take back the Senate.
Prediction: Mike Johnson ousted as House Speaker.
Prediction: The Russia-Ukraine war drags on into 2025.
Prediction: Warner Brothers and Paramount Global will merge.
Prediction: The Dallas Cowboys will not win the Super Bowl.
Prediction: Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce get engaged.

It appears to me predictions 1, 3, 5, 7, and 8 are "gimmes." Trump leads Biden in the polls, the Senate win for Rs is everybody's prediction, the war looks a stalemate where nobody wants to parlay, and the Cowboys are jinxed. 

The power couple are clearly headed toward a (probably brief) marriage. Her steely will and his testosterone-fueled alpha level are sure to collide, the question is whether it happens before or after the wedding.

OTOH, Haley as VP is a stretch, and she might not accept. Mike Johnson's future is anybody's guess, and I've no clue about M&A in show biz, whereas Concha should. 

Supporting Concha's pick of Haley for Trump's VP, Politico writes:

In last month’s Fox News poll, Trump led Biden by 13 points among men, while Biden led Trump by 4 points among women. If Haley is the nominee instead, she wins men by 16 points while beating Biden by 5 points among women, a net difference of 9 points.

Similarly, the CNN/SSRS poll has Trump ahead by 14 points and Haley up by 12 points among men in matchups with Biden. But while Biden leads Trump by 7 points among women, Biden and Haley are tied in that matchup.

Haley’s potential to close the gender gap while maintaining the GOP’s dominance among men would dramatically alter the electoral math for both parties.

Haley would be a pragmatic choice. She could attract some college educated women to vote R. 

Trump made a pragmatic choice before in Mike Pence and came to regret it. Does he want the job enough to bite that bullet one more time? I hope so.

Year-End Snark

Images courtesy of Politico's 2023 Cartoon Carousel.

Saturday Snark (slightly late)

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

Saturday, December 30, 2023

Staying Cool Without AC

I seldom see something in the Washington Post with which I agree. That said, here is something they are touting which I have experienced myself - designing buildings for hot climates which need little or no air conditioning. has the story out from behind WaPo's paywall.

Author Philip Kennicott has done a quite good job of describing building techniques utilizing three things often available free or nearly so: earth, water, and wind. His area of study, traditional buildings in North Africa and Asia Minor.

I encountered these techniques in a very different part of the world - Vietnam. The other DrC and I were there off a large cruise ship docked at Phu My. As lecturers we didn't work on days in port, so we took a tour into the former Saigon, now Ho Chi Minh City. The day was sweltering.

Among other places, the tour visited the Independence Palace, the repurposed Presidential Palace of South Vietnam set in spacious grounds, designed by local architect Ngô Viết Thụ. It is a beautiful building, and very clever. The architect won serious prizes in France.

What was striking to me about the Independence Palace, was that it was open to the outside air, not air conditioned, and still very comfortable. Many of the characteristics described by Kennicott were incorporated into its design. I was beyond impressed.

One supposes several cultures in hot places independently discovered the principles of staying cool in hot climates. Many of these are based around the physics of heat transmission, the natural rising of hot air, the evaporation of water, and the creative uses of shade, wind, light, and shadow. None utilize machinery or intensive energy sources (i.e., air conditioning).

Appropriately Angry Words

Hamas is a misogynistic death cult. Instapundit Glenn Reynolds is angry about what Hamas did in Gaza, and the support they got from US college students and faculty. He lets his readers know it, loud and clear. He writes:
It’s as if these people are a bunch of degenerate animals, which is because that’s what they are. Hamas and the — majority — of Palestinians who support them. And their western supporters — including the Western feminists who went crazy about a fictional frat-house rape that left its “victim” alive and unscarred — are utterly complicit as well.

And we’re supposed to pretend somehow that these degenerate animals aren’t degenerate animals because of a bullshit Cultural Marxist theory created by people whose goal was always to undermine Western civilization and replace it with something that looks a lot like a cross between Hamas and Stalin.

Garbage ideas from garbage people who deserve to be treated like the garbage that they are, but that are instead amplified and legitimized by our academic/media/political complex, which is itself no better. It is important to make that truth utterly clear and to repeat it and throw it in their faces.

Well aimed, and thrown hard. Power Line's John Hinderaker writes in support of Reynolds' view, "What the Arab Muslims did on October 7 isn’t just unspeakable, it is almost unimaginable."

Thursday, December 28, 2023

The Unthinkable

If "interesting" is defined as causing one to think about things one hasn't considered nor likely would otherwise consider, then I just read the most interesting article of the year done by macroeconomist Philip Pilkington for The National Interest. Read it and scare yourself half to death.

Pilkington writes about the changing economics of warfare. Cheap weapons of attack, based on inexpensive civilian tech, are making obsolete the expensive and elaborate weapon systems prized by advanced militaries, things like tanks and warships. 

The first place this became apparent was in the successful attack launched by Azerbaijan on Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh. There cheap drones beat up Armenian armor. 

Both sides are developing and using cheap weapons in Ukraine, based on things like camera drones and homemade rockets. The Houthis have effectively blockaded the Red Sea with relatively cheap drones and missiles Iran gives them. Imagine when soon your 3-D printer can churn out IEDs and RPGs.


Pilkington doesn't consider that, faced with a peasant enemy driving them nuts doing pinprick attacks using cheap weapons, eventually some powers will resort to genocide. A dead enemy launches no attacks. The animal control officer model is replaced by the Orkin man approach.

At some point the unthinkable becomes thinkable, then becomes doable, and finally becomes routine. 

Pol. Sci. 101

A word of explanation about the Karl Rove predictions in the prior post. Rove predicts Biden will get more total votes because of supermajorities in several blue states. We need to remember that whether Biden wins blue CA or NY by one vote or by millions, he gets the same number of electoral college votes either way. Red states tend to have more balance, meaning they contribute less to national party vote totals.

While most states allocate electoral college votes on a winner-takes-all basis, that isn’t how House votes work. House districts are of roughly equal population and the race is decided in-district. So who wins the House is more closely related to the total number of Democrat or Republican votes cast than is the presidency. CA has 52 times as many House seats as WY, for instance.

Of course, of the three, the outcome in the Senate is least closely related to those national totals as only a third of senators are up for (re)election in any given even-numbered year. And states with big or small populations each have 2 senators. CA and WY each have two.

Therefore Rove’s predictions of Democrats taking the House and of Biden getting the most votes nationally are perfectly consistent with each other. None of the above means Rove will necessarily have made correct predictions, that’s another story.

A personal aside: My vote for a U.S. senator in WY carries ca. 52 times as much weight as that of a CA resident. I don’t mind even a little.

Rove Predicts

Political insider Karl Rove makes predictions for the Wall Street Journal each year, and reviews how he did the previous year. His winning percentage for 2023 was 62.5%, down from 74.2% for 2022. 

Here are his predictions for 2024, and they’re not behind the WSJ paywall. Since his shtick is politics, I will share with you his best guess for the race for president, while reminding you he is a Bushie who doesn’t like Trump.

Biden vs. Trump is a chaotic, nasty mess. Mr. Biden counts on Mr. Trump being convicted and voters adjusting to inflation’s effects. Mr. Trump counts on anger over a politicized justice system and Mr. Biden’s age and mental capacity.

Most vote for whom they hate or fear less. Mr. Trump is convicted before November yet wins the election while Mr. Biden receives a plurality of the popular vote.

The race is settled by fewer than 25,000 votes in each of four or fewer states. Third-party candidates get more votes in those states than Mr. Trump’s margin over Mr. Biden. God help our country.

The House flips Democratic. The Senate goes the other way, but knucklehead Republicans lose two or three winnable races.

Hot damn, that all sounds like fun, especially if you can ignore the downside for “our country.” I view politics as a spectator sport, and I cheer for one of the teams.

About 2024

In so many ways, the 2024 presidential election will be an outlier. Most elections where one candidate is an incumbent feature a known quantity vs. a challenger who has to convince voters he or she can do it better.

2024 will likely feature two “incumbents,” two candidates who have the benefit of being a known quantity as president. So the question for voters becomes, which of these two have you liked better in office? Who did a better job for you? 

All the polling suggests Trump wins that contest handily. And that’s before people consider Biden’s frequently displayed frailty, mental lapses, falling, and near-constant vacations.

OTOH, they know with Trump they will have to tolerate his bombast, his ego, his posturing, and yes, his mean tweets or X posts. Mostly people shrug it off like they did with Cassius Clay, aka Muhammad Ali, viewing it as trash talking show biz shtick.

Trump-as-dictator will be a tough sell, since he was nothing of the sort before. 

EV Range Sticker Shock

The Consumer Reports organization has a good reputation for product testing. A major concern potential EV owners have is how far they can drive without recharging.  

Recently CR published “range tests” for electric vehicles. Many fell short of the range claimed on the window sticker. 

Their test was to take a fully charged vehicle and drive it at 70 mph until the battery went dead. They tested 22 different vehicles from 14 brands.

Ten of the 22 exhibited ranges that fell short of the window sticker claim, for an average shortfall of 21.3 miles. The three worst offenders - a Tesla, a Lucid, and a Ford - fell short by 39, 40, and 50 miles respectively. 

“Most drivers travel relatively short distances on a daily basis and are highly unlikely to reach the range limits of most new EVs. But long road trips are a different story. We feel that consumers should have an idea of how far EVs can travel on a long highway-centric journey,” said Alex Knizek, CR’s manager of auto testing and insights. “Range is much more important when you’re far from home and away from reliable charging.”

COTTonLINE adds, this fine test would have been even more realistic if done with the air conditioning running. Most long, away-from-home-and-charger trips are taken in summer heat when kids are not in school. Anecdotal reports (and logic) suggest range is significantly shortened by running the AC.

Home owning two car families can easily have one EV to use for the many close-to-home trips every family makes day in and day out. That is, if they also have a petroleum-fueled vehicle which can do it all - both short and long trips. In the foreseeable future, renters and most single car households won’t find an EV practical.

Barone on Census Trends

Michael Barone writes for the Washington Examiner. His topic today is what the year-end numbers just out from the Census Bureau tell us about internal population shifts in the U.S. 

Barone compares the 2023 year-end numbers with the last decennial Census dated 1 April 2020. He notes we are now - 39 months later - essentially 1/3 of the way to the next formal census. He observes three overarching trends in the numbers.

1. "The three largest metropolitan areas had the largest population losses in percentages and absolute numbers." NY, CA, IL were big losers.

2. "The South accounted for almost all the nation's population gains - and more." TX, FL were big winners.

3. "The Pacific Rim is shrinking." CA, OR, HI all lost population, AK was flat, and WA gained modestly.

Why does Barone think these shifts are happening?

The picture you get is people fleeing COVID restrictions, empty offices, and high taxes needed to support lavish public pensions. Expensive and dysfunctional government is a hard sell.

The Southern states’ lower taxes, lighter regulation, and lesser imposition of “woke” policies have helped it attract internal migrants and encourage family formation.

I'd add: People are nicer to each other in flyover country, the "feels" are less negative.

Wednesday, December 27, 2023

L’affaire Gay

Three days ago I wrote about a Swedish example of “correlation doesn’t prove causation.” Now comes a Daily Mail article in which statisticians make similar claims about the published research of Harvard President Claudine Gay.

Jonatan Pallesen, a Copenhagen-based data scientist working for the Confederation of Danish Industry, tweeted that he had examined her use of data in her PhD thesis, and a 2001 American Political Science Review (APSR) paper.

The 2001 paper - 'The Effect of Black Congressional Representation on Political Participation' - was one of four peer-reviewed political science articles which secured her 2005 tenure at Stanford.

Pallesen posts on X:

The claim is that having a Black representative in a district causes lower White voter turnout. But what is being measured in the study are correlations between the two.

Might it not be equally likely that lower White voter turnout causes (increases the likelihood of) the election of black representatives? How about if some extraneous variable causes both? Something like the pressure by courts and federal agencies to form districts with Black majorities? 

Might not Whites who live in such districts have different characteristics than those who live in districts where they are the majority? Be for example on average poorer, have less education, a greater propensity for substance abuse? I daresay all of those would reduce voting propensity.

Say it together with me: Correlation does not demonstrate causation. It suggests a possible relationship between the two worth exploring further, although even that isn’t a sure thing. Coincidences do happen.

BTW, unwillingness to share one’s raw data, if requested, is another academic research no-no. Established scholars cited in the DM allege they have requested and Gay has refused. At Manhattan Contrarian, Francis Menton writes:

As far as I am concerned, failure by a researcher to share the underlying data as to published work is prima facie evidence that the data have been falsified.

Ouch, that stings. Hat tip to RealClearPolicy for the link.

When It Suits Them ....

John Hinderaker of Power Line posts a discussion of the 1862 massacre of 600 whites, mostly women and children, by the Dakota Indians in his state of Minnesota. Some 38 Indians were hanged for this slaughter. Liberals complain about the hangings, not the slaughter. He concludes with this comment.

It is no coincidence that the same people who sugar coat the murderers and rapists of 1862 also justify the Gazan atrocities of October 7–although, to be fair, in both cases they don’t so much sugar coat or justify those atrocities, as ignore them completely. Because liberals are OK with mass murder and gang rape when it suits their political agenda. (emphasis added)

It's not that I particularly disagree with his analysis, but imagine the state of our society when he can write that final sentence as a throwaway aside because he knows it is a truism among his conservative audience. 

I don't read a lot of liberal media but I'm sure their view of us is similarly awful. Each side believes the other is human garbage, in an ideal world deserving of capital punishment followed by composting in a landfill.

With this level of division, it gets harder and harder to believe in a future where these 50 states remain united. I'll bet the late 1850s felt like this.

Tuesday, December 26, 2023

Referral Times Up North

Do you think you'd prefer to have government-run health care? Check out the following from Forbes.

A new research paper from the Fraser Institute, a Canadian think tank, shows what happens when everyone within a country is trapped in a public health insurance system.

This year, Canadian patients faced a median wait of 27.7 weeks for medically necessary treatment from a specialist after being referred by a general practitioner. That's over six months—the longest ever recorded.

Across the board, patients waited a median of just under five weeks more than what doctors say is "clinically reasonable" to receive treatment from a specialist after securing a referral.

Wait times varied across the provinces of Canada, some over a year, none what you'd call "short." Britain's NHS has similarly excessive wait times. 

A Place That Fits Us

It is early afternoon, I'm sitting here waiting for the other DrC to decide when or if she wants lunch. So I spot an article at RealClearPolitics with an intriguing title concerning left-behind towns in the great fly-over and give it a read.

Let's just say author Jessa Crispin and I don't see eye-to-eye. She apparently originated in Kansas, escaped to somewhere far from there, has a history of dragging herself back there on holidays, and has finally given up doing so. Her values are urban, those of Kansas are not. She whines:

Much of the midwest, south and west – really anything west of Chicago, south of St Louis or east of Reno – exists in this vacuum-sealed state. Deemed problematic by the coasts, this mushy middle often remains underserved by its own governors and legislators and cut off from cultural supply lines and opportunities for mobility and influence.

I hope she now lives somewhere she is more comfortable, with buses, subways, and fancy foreign food. It is my strong suspicion she isn't much missed back home in KS where she no longer visits. The people back home don't miss the things she forlornly wishes they had.

How do I know this? Because I voluntarily moved to "left behind" country and I love it. I summer in western Wyoming and winter 500 miles south in eastern Nevada, both places are the antithesis of urban. 

My neighbors love it too.  Having a motor vehicle is essential, everybody has one or more and we afford them. Distances are too far for EVs to be practical, a feature (as opposed to a defect) nobody I know complains about. Some fool put an EV charging station in the Walmart parking lot; in over two years I've seen it in use exactly one time.

Author Crispin is happy she escaped Kansas, I am happy I escaped California. Isn't it nice we both are happy with where we are? Isn't it nice not everywhere is alike? I celebrate the joys of federalism, of pluralism.

Happy Boxing Day

As a sometime Anglophile, I take this opportunity to wish those in the United Kingdom and its former colonies a Happy Boxing Day, as the day after Christmas is there known. It is also the Feast of Saint Stephen, and the second of the Twelve Days of Christmas.

Be on the lookout for King W. and two turtle doves.

About Plagiarism

Much is being said and written about plagiarism in the current context. Harvard’s President Gay being accused of it, and side references made to both Presidents Obama and Biden having done it too.

Most of you, my readers, perhaps got a bachelor’s degree after which you got on with your off-campus life. You vaguely remember being told it was important not to borrow the work of others without giving them credit.

Perhaps you complied, perhaps you didn’t and got away with it, perhaps you got caught and got punished in some fashion. Chances are you never understood exactly why it was important to faculty. 

You thought it was just to force you to do your own thinking and writing, instead of submitting that done by others. That was true, but only part of the story. As radio personality Paul Harvey would intone in his famously histrionic fashion, “Here is the rest of the story.”

Professors who write conceptual pieces or research reports find their prestige based on the frequency and extent to which other scholars cite their work. Prestige translates into getting tenure, job offers from better universities, funding for research grants, book deals, etc. 

When someone copies my work and submits it as their own, they steal from me - it is theft. I did the work, they get the credit, when I deserved it. My original work with my name attached in a clear and unambiguous fashion is my intellectual property, wherever it gets published or archived. Someone who uses it without identifying it as mine might as well be stealing my computer, my car, or my good name. 

When someone quotes my work, gives me credit, they do me a favor, give my career a small boost. When someone steals my stuff, plagiarizes my work, my career gets no boost, and in fact some who later see my work may falsely believe I stole it from the actual thief. 

This elaborate “system” of earned credit only works because we academics police it. We jump on those who violate it, who steal the work of others and present it as their own. You can see why plagiarism by the president of our most prestigious university is such a scandal. It is roughly the equivalent of learning the Pope doesn’t believe in God.

Perhaps this explains why I try to provide references for most things I write, as I almost always have been inspired by something I read and I want to give credit where due.

Monday, December 25, 2023

Resignations Demanded

More on the contretemps at Harvard. The Daily Mail reports the board of the Harvard Corporation is being pressed to resign, over their support for discredited President Claudine Gay. 

Billionaire hedge fund CEO and Harvard alumni Bill Ackman claims a "reliable source" told him Claudine Gay has been asked to resign and has refused. She is alleged to have threatened to sue if fired.

This story is developing what is known in the trade as "legs." Expect further developments.

The Mess That Is Harvard

Power Line's John Hinderaker muses further about the intentionally created mess that is Harvard University

The real question is (snip) will those who want Harvard to continue as a respected, if deeply flawed, intellectual institution–a group that no doubt includes many professors–be able to use the opportunity to blunt the Corporation’s intended transformation? That, I think, is the real issue. And perhaps nothing will weaken the Corporation’s hand as much as the fact that applications for early admission are reportedly down by 17%. (emphasis added)

There is nothing quite so convincing as signals sent by the marketplace. Folks "voting with their feet," taking their patronage elsewhere. It has humbled some very proud organizations, think Budweiser and Disney.

Market Crash Predicted

The Daily Mail has the prediction of U.S. economist Harry Dent that the economy will have a big downswing in the coming year 2024. Dent is a newsletter editor, mutual fund manager, and author of several books.

If I'm right, it is going to be the biggest crash of our lifetime, most of it happening in 2024. Since 2009, this has been 100 percent artificial, unprecedented money printing and deficits; $27 trillion over 15 years, to be exact. This is off the charts, 100 percent artificial, which means we're in a dangerous state.

He may be right, of course. Market-driven economies do suffer booms and busts. One feature of being someone like Dent is that, if you predict a bust and it then happens more or less as you predicted it, your reputation as an economics maven will last for a long time. 


I remember the late Marty Zweig who appeared often on Louis Rukeyser's Wall $treet Week program on PBS in the 1980s and 90s,

It was on that very program that he stated on 16 October 1987, that he was deeply worried and did not like what he saw in the stock market. The 1987 stock market crash occurred on 19 October 1987.

The 16th was a Friday, the PBS program aired after the market closed. The 19th was a Monday, when trading resumed. No one else of any note predicted that crash. Zweig nailed it, and it brought him fame that never truly evaporated. 

Harry Dent may be trying for the same kind of "moon shot" career-builder. Of course, the Fed Open Market Committee hopes to prove him wrong with their interest rate adjustments aimed at a "soft landing" - that being defined as stopping inflation without causing a recession.

Sunday, December 24, 2023

Plane Spotting Gone Wrong

The New York Post has a story about a UFO flying by Air Force One at LAX. They have photos of something passing a large multiengine jet that is not Air Force One. 

The pictured aircraft appears to be the military equivalent of a DC-10 called a KC-10 operated as a refueling tanker. I am unaware of any use of this aircraft as Air Force One.

You would hope the Post would run this story past someone with an interest in, and knowledge of, aircraft before printing it. Obviously that was not the case. 

If these "amateur plane trackers" can mistake a KC-10 for a 747, they don't know much and I'd be skeptical of their UFO claim too.

A Recommendation

In the post below I thought to use the word “faring” meaning traveling. And I looked it up to be sure it was “faring” and not “fairing” which is also a word, albeit with a different meaning.

All of which reminded me of the version of the old gospel favorite “Wayfaring Stranger” done by country singer Trace Adkins. As God is my witness, Trace Adkins was born to sing “Wayfaring Stranger.” 

I’m not wild about country, I’ve listened to other of his songs and went “meh.” Do yourself a favor and listen to his interpretation of Wayfaring Stranger at the 2011 Johnny Cash memorial at CMA on YouTube, it is fine.

Merry Christmas, One and All

The DrsC wish all who read this a Merry Christmas. Our winter haven 55+ community has emptied out as most have gone to spend the holiday with their children and grandchildren. For a few days our neighborhood will resemble a ghost town.

Our own family holiday gathering will be in mid-January, not because there is anything in particular we celebrate then. That was the earliest we could get our calendars aligned so we could all be in one place at one time. 

So we will “rattle around” in our temporarily deserted corner of the desert for a few days. Then we’ll leave to see family after the neighbors have all returned. 


This will be the first January we haven’t spent in an RV in coastal California just north of Santa Barbara maybe since 2004, if memory serves. Quite a few years we were there for 2 months. 

For over a decade we lived in three different towns during the year. We will miss Santa Ynez and Lake Cachuma.

As noted earlier, the RV is no more. After 51 years of RVing all over North America, it was time to admit we no longer have the physical agility and stamina it requires. It was a great adventure, so much fun, such amazing memories. 

I find myself thinking about replicant Roy Batty’s dying monologue from the original Blade Runner film, as he reflects on his experiences.

All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain...

You’ll notice I’ve omitted his last three words. Batty concludes “Time to die,” I hope to postpone that last one-way voyage for several years.  

Cause and Effect, Redux

Long-time readers know I’m fond of stories or issues where cause and effect are either unclear or confused. I am forever writing “correlation does not equal causation.” 

I’ve got another one for you today, from a Swedish study which found that hypochondriacs die younger than those who don’t share this fear of (or imagination of) illness. And it says we should call the condition “Illness Anxiety Disorder.” Hat tip to Instapundit for the link.

Some of the excess deaths were from suicide which makes sense because IAD is related to mental illness, which is often a precursor of suicide. However there were also excess deaths from natural causes. These the study found difficult to explain. How would imagining one is ill cause death?

Think about it with the famous “causal arrow” pointing in the opposite direction. What if an awareness at some level that all was not well with one’s body causes what appears to be IAD or hypochondria? At least some hypochondria may be a sense one is ill when our current state of medical diagnosis cannot yet pick up the clues. 

Just as some individuals have exceptionally keen senses of smell or taste or vision, some may have an exceptional awareness of problems with their circulatory or respiratory systems that haven’t reached the level where diagnostics can identify them. Plus, many with IAD have family members with severe illnesses and predispositions to certain health problems do run in families.

Saturday, December 23, 2023

Saturday Snark

Images courtesy of Power Line's The Week in Pictures
and its Comments section.

I Sense an Omen

Colorado chooses not to put Trump on its primary ballot. A cascade of blue states are set to follow that lead and a group of red states want to remove Joe Biden from their ballots.

I wonder if, looking back, historians will conclude this was the tipping point at which the United States started to act like the Disunited States. Began a process leading, peacefully one hopes, to two or more independent nations.

Whatever eventuates, we are not in a good place culturally or politically.

More on Migration

The Wall Street Journal runs an editorial on what they call “The Great Blue to Red State Migration.” A key section focuses on the catch-22 nature of illegal immigration going to where the freebies are surest:

If not for foreign immigration, population declines last year would have been far greater in California, New York, Illinois and Oregon. Massachusetts, Connecticut, Maryland, New Jersey, Rhode Island and Washington also would have lost population. Immigrants are an economic asset, but expansive welfare states have made them a burden for these states.

A big problem for Democratic-run states is that their affluent residents are leading the exodus, and they pay the majority of income tax that supports their expansive welfare programs. This is a major reason California’s tax revenue over the last five months has come in $24.5 billion below projections despite a rebounding stock market.

No good deed goes unpunished. “Affluent residents” didn’t get that way by being dumb about money, or taxes. Watch them migrate to places which let them keep more of their earnings. Places that spend less coddling the insane, the unemployable, and the addicted.

Friday, December 22, 2023

Friday Snark

Images courtesy of Politico's Nation's Cartoonists on the Week in Politics.

It Is a Question

Does anybody take seriously the hypothesis that Biden is running for reelection to retain the power to pardon for the next four years? He has multiple family members who could find themselves facing an "unregistered foreign agent" charge. Or money laundering, or even RICO.

Five years from now the statute of limitations will have run out on most of the supposed misdeeds. He may be all that stands between prison and himself, his brothers, their spouses, his son, and who knows, maybe even his wife. 

It is a heck of a spot for a tired, mentally foggy old dude to find himself in. Especially if he makes the sacrifice, runs ... and loses. Republicans can do lawfare too.

Immigration, in One Sentence

Jamie Dupree quips about immigration in a column for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

There is a distinct possibility that whatever Senate negotiators produce will be too much for many Democrats to swallow, and not enough for a lot of Republicans to accept.

Sadly, true. Senate Dems want to process all comers for amnesty and Senate GOPs want to close the border and stop the flood. What each wants the other views as "the problem." So neither gets done, and the flood continues unabated. The public sides with the GOP.


Don't be surprised if the 2024 election hinges on immigration. You could argue the 2016 election did, with the election of Trump and his advocacy of "The Wall." 

Then in 2020 immigration seemed under control and hence became a non-issue, Trump either lost or didn't win big enough to overwhelm Dem. election rigging.

Immigration is once more a problem in 2024, as it was in 2016. Trump's proven ability to get it under control will be a strong selling point, especially against Biden who has proved himself ineffective on border control.

A Path for Haley?

Writing at The Messenger, Joe Concha makes an argument summarized as “There’s Only One Way That Nikki Haley Can Hope to Beat Trump.” Here is the nub.

The only way she gets within true striking distance is in a two-way race. And the only way that happens is if — and this is a BIG “if" — DeSantis, Christie and Vivek Ramaswamy drop out after Iowa. One would suspect that almost all of the double-digit support both DeSantis and Christie are receiving would go to Haley, not Trump, with Ramaswamy's 5% likely splitting into a wash. And since Democrats and independents can vote in New Hampshire in a GOP primary, that could propel Haley further.

No question, Christie support would go to Haley, but DeSantis has sold himself at the true Trump heir, minus the personal drama and thus more electable. Most of his support would go to Trump as the polls begin to show Trump still plenty electable, at least against Biden. People weird enough to support Ramaswamy could go anywhere or nowhere. Independents could like Haley a lot, especially independent women.

I don’t see a lot of help for Haley beyond the real support she now already has in NH. So, I conclude, her chances for the nomination aren’t good, even though she might be very formidable in the general election.

Asians might break right. It is fascinating we have two Indian-Americans as GOP candidates, sort of  a “we’ll see your Kamala with Nikki. and raise you a Vivek.”

The COTTonLINE Anniversary

Seventeen years ago today, December 22, 2006, was my first post at COTTonLINE, a simple announcement that it would appear. The idea to do it was a gift from the other DrC who is more of a tech person than I. If we can hang on another three years, we can drag out the opening line from Sgt. Pepper. 

The very next day was my first substantive post, on the future of Iraq in the post-Saddam era. I predicted we’d not be able to create a stable country there in the absence of the draconian secret police Saddam wielded. So far, my prediction has proved prescient.  We still have garrisons in many parts of the country, chasing Sunni extremists, supporting the Kurds, and being attacked by Shia militias at the behest of Iran.

In the early years COTTonLINE was all text, no pictures, graphics, or memes. We’ve evolved but the thrust is still largely the same. We do less “travel blogging” these days; since Covid we’ve done fewer trips abroad.

COTTonLINE is still an idiosyncratic mix of politics, foreign affairs, science oddities, the occasional entertainment review, seasonal milestones, and holiday commemorations plus odd bits of whatever strikes my fancy. And we’ve ridden a few hobbyhorses - favorite themes to which we return.

Thanks for joining me on this ‘voyage’ of discovery, I’ve had a good time and shared it with you.

Weird Materials Science

Scientists in Germany, Sweden, the U.S., and China have produced nearly transparent wood which is stronger than either plastics or glass of equivalent thickness. Smithsonian magazine has the story.

The process involves starting with thin veneers of wood similar to those from which plywood is laminated. These thin layers are bleached to get the color out, then saturated with a plastic-like material and dried. 

The result is a material that is quite translucent, if not quite transparent, and strong enough to use as windows, computer screens, etc. Use in skylights is envisioned. There is even a version that can change color when an electric current is passed through it.

Material scientists are anxious not to create another “forever substance.” Efforts are underway to engineer the material such that its end-of-life properties are no more impactful than that of glass. At present it is superior to plastics in this regard.

Hat tip to the other DrC for the link.

Thursday, December 21, 2023

About Immigration

Let's think about immigration. Is there any reason why half the poor people in the world wouldn't want to come to the U.S. and let us support them on welfare? 

Right now the only things stopping them are the rigors and expense of the journey, both of which are considerable. Those barriers are not, it turns out, sufficient to stem the horde. 

We are prepared to accept some immigrants, but most of us would prefer the US was somewhat choosy about their qualifications and backgrounds (criminal record, etc.). We are not prepared to be overrun by millions who ignore our laws while suckling at the public teat. 

Why can't our government stop the flood? Because, at least some politicians and bureaucrats choose not to do so although our laws permit it. Clearly we need to extirpate those scofflaws from government service.

Donald J. Trump may be the instrument by which we accomplish the extirpation.

Movin', Movin', Movin' ....

Power Line's John Hinderaker is associated with a think tank - American Experiment - that focuses on Minnesota, from a conservative perspective. They have analyzed IRS data on people moving to and from their state and sort the data by income level. Their findings may have relevance elsewhere.

The IRS data consistently show that Minnesota, a high tax, high regulation state, gains residents from other states in just one income category: those earning between zero and $25,000 per year. Minnesota essentially breaks even from $25,000 to $50,000, and consistently loses residents, on a net basis, in every income category over $50,000.
This chart is similar to others we have produced over the years.

Census data actually understate the depth of the economic and fiscal problems blue states are facing as a result of migration to more favorable jurisdictions. In the raw numbers, in-migration of people with essentially no income offsets, to some degree, out-migration of residents with good jobs. But in fact, gaining more residents with little or no income makes the economic position of blue states worse, not better.

As I said, these trends have been obvious for a while. When will blue states catch on? Not until the voters demand change.

Sorry John, that ship has sailed. The voters who might vote for change in MN are instead voting for change with their feet. Each one who leaves is one less vote to change MN's "high tax, high regulation" policies.

Your shrinking 'army' is fighting a losing battle against a growing tide of welfare recipients. It is past time to join the exodus, and leave those who remain to their self-selected fate.

Conclusion: Most of us have found it far more feasible to move to another, better-managed state than to change the political order in our home state, however much we may love and miss it. It turns out the new locales have their charms, too. Hat tip to the theme from TV's Rawhide for my title.

Intentional Instability?

Let me share with you two key paragraphs from Instapundit Reynolds' most recent Substack essay, written in the first person.

What makes me sad now is the ongoing game of Civilizational Jenga that our ruling class is playing. One by one, they’re withdrawing the supports of civil society, in a process that will inevitably lead to a collapse. They’re taking what was a very robust society, and consuming all the safety margins, bit by bit.

What really makes me sad is that while some of the people involved – let’s call them “the morons” for convenience’s sake – are doing this out of shortsightedness, cupidity, or sheer partisan bloodthirstiness, I’m increasingly convinced that there’s a contingent at the top that knows exactly what it’s doing, and is fine with it.

I feel Reynolds gives the ruling class too much credit for foresight. Most of society's decision-makers are so old their idea of long-range planning is 5-10 years max. I'm there myself, a sort of après moi, le déluge attitude comes easily with advanced age.  

Mourning the NY Times that Was

RealClearPolitics carries a reaction to an article by the ex-editor of the New York Times, James Bennett, who writes “When the New York Times Lost Its Way.” RCP provides what would be a book review, if Bennett’s article were a book.

This is particularly ironic because RealClearPolitics delivers day in and day out what Bennett says the NYT once delivered, should be delivering, but delivers no longer. Namely, a range of views on key topics. At least RCP provides the titles and links thereto. RCP quotes:

"The reality,” Bennet writes, “is that the Times is becoming the publication through which America’s progressive elite talks to itself about an America that does not really exist.”
Perhaps it is right and proper that in an online, digital age, the former role of the NYT is now filled by RCP and its RC spinoffs in policy, markets, world affairs, defense, science, education, etc. - all entirely digital and online.

It may not be excessive to think of this RCP column as a fond remembrance of a beloved ‘parent’ who has slipped into his or her dotage and no longer cares enough to keep up appearances nor connect solidly with reality.

COTTonLINE asks: When did ideological purity become more important than cold, hard, often-inconvenient facts? Why and how did we allow this to occur? Is there a path back to reality?

Wednesday, December 20, 2023

Let's Welcome Winter

The earth's axis of rotation is not perpendicular to the plane described by its orbit around the sun. If it were perpendicular we would have no seasons and each day and each night would equal 12 hours. Instead it tilts some 23.5 degrees from perpendicular.

Twice a year the top and bottom of the earth's axis are equidistant from the sun, and we have the equinoxes - spring and autumn. Happening in March and September, around the 21st of each month, everywhere on earth experiences 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of darkness.

And twice a year the top and bottom of the earth's axis are either nearest to, or farthest from, the sun. Tomorrow we reach one of these two events, as they occur around the 21st of June and December. 

This one is at roughly 7:30 p.m. PST and in the northern hemisphere we call it the Winter Solstice, when winter begins. The North Pole is farthest from the sun tomorrow, we northerners will have the least daylight and the most darkness of the entire year. South of the equator they have the most daylight and least darkness, there it is the Summer Solstice, summer is beginning.

We humans have been celebrating the turning of the season for millennia, as shown by Paleolithic constructions like Stonehenge, Newgrange and the Mayan calendar. I endorse that tradition, and in my own small way, continue it. 

Postscript: The DrsC were out and about today running errands, reveling in the sunshine and short sleeves weather the desert enjoys this time of year. I took a light jacket and never had it on.

A Spicy Quote

Here's a quote from Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick, as cited by RealClearPolitics, from an interview he had with FNC's Laura Ingraham. Video at the referenced site.

Maybe we should take Joe Biden off the ballot in Texas for allowing 8 million people to cross the border since he has been president.

A policy I'd endorse if Biden were a more formidable candidate. Talk about total refusal to enforce existing laws, we're living with it. 

Chilean Update

Writing for Compact magazine, Rojas and Shullenberger do a relatively balanced and comprehensive survey of Chilean politics and economics in the post-Allende era. Presumably, what moved them to write it was the failure to adopt the second constitutional revision attempted in four years.

This leaves in place the 1980 Pinochet constitution, with all the negative baggage that association has for some on the left. President Boric indicated there will not be a third effort to rewrite the document anytime soon.

The authors finish on a pessimistic note, based on their view of Chile as being resource based and thus subject to the demand fluctuations of the market. This view may be too pessimistic. While the price of copper is still an issue, post-Allende Chile has been a leader in Latin American economic progress. 

Editorial note: For those with an interest in Latin American affairs generally, Compact looks like a good source although its purview is broader than south-of-the-border.

DEI’s Downside

The Wall Street Journal’s Jason L. Riley posts a column headed “Why Harvard Can’t Fire Claudine Gay” wherein he covers much of the same ground that I did yesterday. Expect more of the same from other pundits, the facts are out there in plain sight for all to opine upon. His conclusion is nicely distilled.

Harvard’s dilemma illustrates a broader practical problem with racial-preference policies. Once you lower standards for hiring administrators or admitting students, you are forced to lower standards for evaluating their conduct and performance. For purposes of window dressing, people who have no business running elite institutions such as Harvard have been put in charge of people who have no business teaching or matriculating there. What could go wrong?

Gasp … the higher ed “emperor” stands revealed as unclothed. Plus Riley has an earlier quip I enjoyed, made at the expense of “liberal elites” whom he notes, “maintain that all black people not named Clarence Thomas are off-limits to criticism.”

BTW,  (1) Jason L. Riley is black. (2) Riley’s column is not behind the WSJ paywall.

Tuesday, December 19, 2023

A Bad Call

CNN reports the Colorado State Supreme Court has decided 4-3 Donald Trump cannot appear on the primary ballot in that state, claiming he supported "an insurrection." That ruling should be overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court.

My reasoning? The only person shot Jan. 6 at the Capitol was one of the protestors, an unarmed woman. To my knowledge the shot(s) that killed her were the only shots fired at the Capitol that day. 

In a country with more privately owned firearms than citizens, an unarmed group protesting the fairness of an election does not constitute an insurrection. It was a protest and likely laws were broken by the more boisterous among them. But it was a protest nevertheless and far fewer were injured than in many such riotous events.

The last time we had a serious disagreement about how our nation would be governed, in the 1860s, roughly a half million died. If another actual insurrection ever occurs here, it would more nearly resemble what is currently happening in Gaza than what happened on Capitol Hill on Jan. 6, 2021.

Later ... This ruling is entirely political. All Trump's lawyers have to do to invalidate it is to file an appeal to the Supreme Court before Jan. 4. The following is a screen grab from p. 9 of the opinion.

Translation: Trump will appear on the CO primary ballot.

Note: It was crooked like this on the source from which I borrowed it.

The Executive Procurer

The Daily Mail reports a judge has ordered unsealed the names of 177 associates of Jeffrey Epstein. The names will likely drop on Jan. 2. Now if they'd only put his blackmail videotapes online, eh?

This will cast a shadow over next year's WEF. All over the developed world, there are prominent men running for cover, shutting down online accounts, changing phone numbers, and generally cringing.

Like your Christmas stocking, Jeffrey didn't hang himself.

Tarnishing Paradise

 The prolific Joel Kotkin crafts a phrase I'd share with you.

Despite California’s historic allure, far more Americans prefer the hurricane swamp of Florida to the Golden State’s natural majesty.

Internal migration data shows exactly that. Democrats have proven it is possible to tarnish a paradise. CA is the poster child for their "let's try to do worse than Argentina" politics. 


People are still marveling at the answers given by three presidents of prominent universities before a committee of Congress. Specifically at their claiming their non-reaction to mass student anti-semitism made sense given the “context.” Let’s unpack what that context was and is.

First the fact that all three were women is no accident, but a direct bow to the DEI movement now widespread in academia. Second, since DEI is the name of the game, the schools have been structuring admissions to seek out and actively recruit exactly those faculty and students who are most likely to be DEI activists, complete with shoulder chips.

Add the financial incentive to admit students from the oil sheikdoms who can pay full fees, need no financial assistance, and may bring further donations to fund centers and endowed chairs to study Islam and the Middle East.

The same student behavior Congress finds objectionable, the DEI mavens find entirely appropriate. The presidents' dilemma is how to satisfy both masters. "Context" in this sense is shorthand for "You are getting what I was tasked to produce, and now you don't like it?"

In summary, the context they referred to was they were hired to intentionally create the powder kegs which they now manage and were thus loath to light matches. 

Monday, December 18, 2023

CA Highways

The Daily Mail reports a survey Volvo did to learn the most hated roads in the US, three are in CA. I write in defense of two of them. 

The three are US 101, I-5 and I-405. 405 is mostly urban and it is the urban parts of 101 and 5 that are disliked when they become overcrowded or backed up by an accident or spill.

On the other hand, large parts of both 101 and 5 are rural, and generally pleasant to drive. Driving north, 101 becomes mostly rural somewhere around Camarillo and remains so until you pass Carpinteria, then on the far side of the Montecito-Santa Barbara-Goleta complex it is largely rural again until you reach Gilroy south of San Jose. 101 is a mess through the Bay Area while north of Santa Rosa it is mostly rural all the way to Seattle. A lot of this is quite scenic coast range and shoreline terrain, surfers are common and I've seen a pod of porpoises twice.

I-5 is a mess in greater Los Angeles, but becomes rural beginning just north of Santa Clarita and remains so until the Stockton-Lodi-Sacramento complex is reached. North of Sacramento, it is again rural until Portland. 5 in CA is less scenic unless you enjoy cultivated fields and orchards, but it's faster than 101. Watch out for dense fog in midwinter, following rains.

Most of my life was spent in CA and I was fortunate to do most of my driving on 101 and 5 on the rural stretches between Sacramento or the Bay Area south to Santa Barbara. Traffic jams were very rare and maintaining 65 mph a snap. I miss driving 101 between the Bay Area and LA, much of which is quite scenic.

During the 50+ years I drove an RV I tried to pass through the LA area on Sunday morning when most Angelenos were sleeping in. Otherwise, the whole LA basin was mostly an overcrowded mess.

He's a Weapon

Daniel McCarthy writes an essay for the New York Post looking at the historical roots of the sort of rambunctious politics that oppose the "uniparty" - the Washington establishment elite. He sees Donald Trump as the most recent champion chosen to fight on behalf of those whom the establishment doesn't like, represent, or benefit. About Trump, McCarthy concludes:

He’s resilient because Americans, from the Boston Tea Party onward, have always preferred breaking the law to living under broken laws, and the charges against Trump are irrelevant to the struggles of ordinary people against a self-dealing yet self-righteous elite.

Aristocracy is the problem, and Americans will fight it with any weapon at hand — including Donald Trump.

The other DrC says of him: "He's a bully, but he's on my side." We have no argument there.

Williamson Channels Schlichter

Kevin D. Williamson seems to be trying his hand at channeling Kurt Schlichter. The Wall Street Journal has included the result among their opinion columns. 

There are some touches of brilliance but he is too long winded compared to the original. What follows is one of the good chunks:

The dreadful and contemptible 2024 presidential election, which almost certainly will be fought out by Donald Trump, a depraved game-show host who tried to stage a coup d’état when he lost his 2020 re-election bid, and Joe Biden, a plagiarist and fabulist first elected to public office 53 years ago who is going to be spending a lot of time this campaign season thinking about his family’s influence-peddling business and the tricky questions related to it, like whether you can deduct hookers as a business expense.

Williamson says this contest is our fault. The other clever bit is the following, with a surprise ending.

The No. 1 issue in the 2024 presidential campaign is not the debt, the economy, Ukraine, Israel or crime—the main issue is, beyond any doubt, immigration. At least, it’s the one at the top of my agenda and foremost in my own thoughts.

I just haven’t settled on where to go.

I like Switzerland a lot, but I'm not wealthy enough to live there. 

Sunday, December 17, 2023

Doing a Tough Job

Speaking on CBS' Face the Nation, Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) called Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu "an exceptionally difficult partner." Coons reached this conclusion after hearing Bibi comment that he was "proud" of his work to block the formation of an adjacent Palestinian nation.

Since all possible Palestinian nations have as a central goal the destruction of Israel, Netanyahu is justifiably proud of interfering with the establishment of an enemy state. Whether he was wise to describe his feelings in this unfiltered fashion is another question. 

Leaders of governments actively at war with violent enemies - as Israel currently is - tend to speak bluntly. Plus given the intricacies of Israel parliamentary politics and the extreme factionalism of his famously argumentative people, Netanyahu has had to find his allies where he could. 

Lately those allies are mostly on the extreme right. He has to cater to them sufficiently to maintain a governing majority in the Knesset.

If Coons has found Netanyahu difficult to work with, imagine how difficult it has been for Netanyahu to survive this long in Israeli politics.

Saturday, December 16, 2023

Saturday Snark

Makes me homesick for WY

Why I'm not there now.

Images courtesy of Power Line's The Week in Pictures
and its Comments section.

Here’s How

In a Spectator World article about President Gay of Harvard, the subtitle asks the key question:

How to get away with plagiarism at Harvard? 
I suppose there are several answers, but her answer is probably the best. Major in Victim Studies, and be a member of the victim group studied. 

While there, take advantage of what Bush II called “the soft bigotry of low expectations.”  Be certain no one will check your work for plagiarism as doing so would be raaaacist.

Gay may very well have been capable of doing the work properly, but now the default assumption is that she either wasn’t capable or didn’t accept the legitimacy of academic norms as valid. Either answer is disqualifying for the job she now holds.