Sunday, April 30, 2023

A Carlson and Trump Common Trait

At Spiked where he is Chief Political Writer, Brendan O'Neill does an interesting job of describing the Tucker Carlson phenomenon. His emphasis is on why Carlson was so hated and feared by progressives. 

It strikes me that liberal Tuckerphobia is part fear, part envy. (snip) Deep down they recognise that this preppy dude who they mock for his ‘incredulous stare’ and ‘slack-jawed expression’ is able to do something they can no longer do and will never be able to do again: connect with ordinary people.

One of the Carlson peculiarities was that he wasn't consistently on the right.

Ross Douthat has a good explanation for this political schizophrenia, for the fact that Carlson’s TV show was ‘the farthest right on cable news but also sometimes the farthest left’. (snip) That’s because his driver was not ideology, but suspicion. Suspicion towards ‘any idea with an establishment imprimatur’, Douthat says. Extreme wariness towards elite dogma was Carlson’s stock-in-trade.

Viewers liked it. And that’s because they were looking for someone, anyone, reasoned or not, leftish or rightish, to stick it to an elite which for decades has been treating them with the most extraordinary derision. There’s no point moaning about Carlson’s forays into weirdthink, because it was his style rather than his substance, his nightly fuck-you to those people, that drew in the deplorables who are so tired of being defamed by the powerful.

Carlson’s ‘power’ among the white working class is directly proportional to the elites’ visceral derision for the white working class. Dehumanise people for long enough and they’ll look high and low for someone who treats them as human.

Which is exactly the same 'power' Donald Trump had campaigning for the 2016 election. He could connect with ordinary non-elite Americans, of all colors as it turned out, and they liked it a lot.

N.B., I rarely watched Carlson, his delivery is too strident for my taste.

The DrsC Do Triage

I wrote Friday about us trading our RV and 2015 truck on a new truck. And I briefly summarized our 51 years of RVing. We had accumulated no end of RV gadgets, plus all the things needed to outfit a bathroom and kitchen.

On Friday a couple of neighbors pitched in to help us offload all that "stuff" into our garage, necessitating parking our Jeep outside for the time being. Today we began doing triage on all that material. "Triage" means dividing into three categories, our three are keep for our use, give to others, and trash.

A fair proportion is going straight into the trash. Then there are things like the semi-expensive electrically heated water hose which very useful for winter camping, but for which I see no use going forward. That sort of item is very RV-specific, we'll try to find an RVer who wants it.

We will probably give the pots and pans, eating utensils, etc. to a charity-run second hand store, it is harder to figure out what to do with towels, afghans, and the like. I don't imagine a market for such. 

We are sorting out the accumulations of a lifetime of RVing. It is easy to get bogged down remembering when we acquired an item for a need that occurred somewhere out "on the road." 

We have an appointment in WY early next week which means we need the triage done in maybe the next 3 days. Being sad about giving up the "RV life" doesn't make the process any easier. 

Saturday, April 29, 2023

Saturday Snark

We'll be there soon ... driving our new truck.
Images courtesy of Power Line's The Week in Pictures 
and its Comments section.

A Milestone, and Some History

The other DrC takes note of a family milestone that occurred yesterday, with photos. After 51 years of RVing, we’re getting real about the ravages of time and wrapping up that quite large portion of our life together. As teachers with the summers off, we saw North America.

Beginning in 1972, in a series of six RVs - one class C motorhome and five fifth wheel trailers - we drove all over North America. We were wheels on the ground in the 49 continental U.S. states. Ditto for 9 of 10 Canadian provinces, plus one of their three territories - Yukon - as we drove the Alaskan Highway, both ways. 

The extremes of our wandering? We’ve been to Key West, FL, San Diego, CA, Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, Fairbanks, AK, and most points in between. North America is an amazing place, and we do have a standard of comparison, having visited some 120 countries.

We repeatedly drove round trip across the U.S., crossed Canada, and on two occasions drove rental RVs all over both islands of New Zealand. I can’t begin to catalog the wonders we’ve seen through the windshield of an RV. As stoners would say, it has been a trip, but now it is over and I am sad about that.

As a result of all that wandering, do I have a favorite trip I’d recommend? I do. Start at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon in AZ, drive north through the national parks of Utah, continue to those of Wyoming, then do Glacier NP, cross the border to Waterton NP in Canada, and continue northward to Banff, Lake Louise, and Jasper - all in Alberta. 

To do it justice you’ll need a whole summer - mid-June to mid-September - but you can do parts of it if you don’t have that long. You’ll need reservations to camp in the NPs, and there are excellent RV campgrounds with hookups in the Tetons, Yellowstone, Waterton, Banff, and Jasper. Enjoy.

Afterthought: Yes, I posted this in the middle of the night. We've been home a week and I'm still trying to get adjusted to local time. It turns out jet lag is one of many things that become more difficult with age.

Friday, April 28, 2023

Friday Snark

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

Wednesday, April 26, 2023

The Carlson Manifesto

Instapundit has Tucker Carlson's first formal public pronouncement following his termination by Fox News. I know it is video and you may prefer text, as I often do, but video is what we've got. 

It takes maybe 2 minutes to listen to Carlson. It is worth your time and effort to hear what he has to say. 

Carlson bashes the uniparty. He sounds more optimistic than I am, for sure.

We Overestimate

The other DrC shares with me a YouGov chart showing how people overestimate the size of various demographic groups in the population. I post it for your entertainment, with a caveat. The actual percentage of households earning a million dollars is not zero,. It is less than 0.5%, fewer than 1 in 200 households and thus rounds to zero.

One reason for overestimation: the squeaky wheel principle. We hear more about some groups than their numbers would suggest because they complain, loudly and often. Another is that the media gives some groups increased attention because they are misperceived to be structurally disadvantaged. I'd bet you can imagine other reasons this occurs.

Sigh … Biden Runs Again

The least successful president of the post-World War II period - Joseph Robinette Biden, Jr. - announced yesterday he is a candidate for reelection. Can you possibly contain your enthusiasm? Really, you can? Why am I not surprised?

Biden’s 2024 slogan? He wants to “Finish the Job.” A fair observer could be excused for thinking he means the job of ruining the country. It is a goal he’s shown some skill in achieving.

Tuesday, April 25, 2023

2024 a ‘Consolation’ Match?

Two headlines from this morning’s Politico. Their juxtaposition is entirely intentional.

Republicans think Biden is an ‘easy target’ to unite their party

Dems relish Trump-Biden rematch

Bottom line: Both sides think their likely opponent is weak. Both sides are correct in those assessments. 

The craziness of our current political dilemma is such that the odds-on likely matchup in November, ‘24 is Biden vs. Trump. Alas, my poor country deserves better than this. And no, I’m not plugging for a third party candidate.

The Carlson Departure

We know, or think we know, a bit more about Fox News axing Tucker Carlson. A Mediaite article adds a couple of additional pieces to the puzzle.

It reports Carlson will be paid for the balance of his contract, which should net him perhaps $20 million more. It also adds that the decision to let him go was made in a discussion between Fox Corp. CEO Lachlan Murdoch and Fox News CEO Suzanne Scott which occurred on Friday night. Whether that conversation was before or after his Friday show taped is unclear.

This story is developing. Carlson has yet to be heard from and the Fox hierarchy has shared almost nothing beyond their terse announcement.

For a warm-hearted appreciation of Carlson and his impact, see John Hinderaker's reflections for Power Line.

N. B., Any similarity between the title of this update and those of the Bourne films is entirely intentional.

Monday, April 24, 2023

Breaking: Carlson Out at Fox News

Fox News issued a statement (above) indicating that the network and opinion host Tucker Carlson have parted company. Friday was his last show yet his sign-off said he planned to be on air tonight, meaning termination happened over the weekend.

Most brief stories about the exit mention the recent $700+ million settlement with Dominion Voting Systems. However, this source at The Wrap is semi-certain his departure is unrelated to the Dominion settlement. 

Carlson has as yet made no statement about this abrupt ending to his very successful run at Fox. His show has been the most highly rated in cable news.

Being a big deal at Fox News is like doing a high wire act, if you fall off you are often too 'radioactive' to get on elsewhere. Ask Bill O'Reilly if you don't believe it, Chris Wallace hasn't done much either. Megyn Kelly got a fat offer but it sorta petered out.

I wonder where he'll land?

Solving a Problem

A major problem with so-called “green” sources of electric power is their intermittent nature. Electric power is hard to store as electricity for use later. What if the power was stored as kinetic energy?

Website has a report from Futurism about a new way to store power - generated when the sun shines and the wind blows - that doesn’t involve rare earth batteries. The idea is simple, use peak period electric power to lift multi-ton weights vertically hundreds of feet, generating potential kinetic energy. 

When power is needed, use the force generated as gravity pulls those back down to spin generators and produce electricity. A Swiss firm has built a demonstration facility which generates 5 megawatts of power, and larger facilities are under construction. 

A system like this exists at several hydroelectric facilities where unneeded power is used to pump water back up into the reservoir. It can then be rereleased to generate power when wind and solar are offline. 

The difference here is that no convenient mountain reservoir is required. They build a building in which they move multi-ton blocks of stabilized ‘adobe’ up to store power, and lower them to generate power. Overcoming gravity to hoist weight, and allowing it to pull that suspended weight back down is the inexhaustible mechanism employed. Both cheaper and longer lasting than batteries.

Political Realignment

Politico in a very interesting article takes a deep dive into the demographics of political choice. It reports:

In a sharp contrast to a previous era, college educated voters are now more likely to identify as Democrats, and those without college degrees - particularly white voters, but increasingly all Americans – support Republicans. Voting at all levels of federal and state elections demonstrates this overwhelming trend of the “diploma divide.”

They compare districts where the population is above the nation average in educational attainment, with those below the national average. In most cases the "aboves" elect Democrats and the "belows" elect Republicans. As districts' demographic profiles shift from one to the other their voting patterns tend to make similar changes. 


The arguments made do appear to answer a lot of questions concerning political choices. My question is whether author Doug Sosnik has "oversold" the power of this variable to predict outcomes? I suspect he may have done. 

It is worth considering whether the trend he observes is Trump-dependent or if it is independent of Trump's larger-than-life presence in our current national political process? In other words, have the college educated become committed Democrats or merely refugees from the Donald and MAGA?

Attacks on DeSantis Miss Mark

The New York Post’s Karol Markowicz looks at Trump’s attacks on FL Gov. Ron DeSantis. As a FL resident herself, she finds them without merit, inconsistent, and basically laughable. From the number of different places which have posted links to her article, it appears many believe she is absolutely correct.

I ask, if DeSantis is doing such a crap job in FL, how did he win a landslide reelection? Why did the Trump clan and hundreds of thousands of other people choose to move there? It seems clear to me DeSantis is doing a good job, getting things done, and posting wins in the culture wars. 

What DeSantis hasn’t done is win the unwavering support of FL’s congressional delegation, several of whom have endorsed Trump. And he doesn’t have the platform skills Trump has honed as a public figure and reality TV star for decades.

Sunday, April 23, 2023

Eyes on the Prize

Kurt Schlichter writes columns for Townhall I enjoy. Sometimes he writes mean things about people who deserve it, usually with humor, and that is part of who he is and what he does.

Today he writes an entirely serious column that, if you are any kind of conservative, you really should read. His main point is that we should have a vigorous primary while keeping firmly in mind that when it is done, we must work together to retire Grandpa Biden by electing the GOP nominee come November.

Schlichter has little patience with conservative voters who either won't vote for Trump if he's nominated, or won't vote for anyone but Trump as nominee. Every such person is effectively a vote for Biden. 

Schlichter promises.

I will vote for the primary winner in the general. Period. If you play the game, you need to accept the outcome.

I concur. Like Schlichter, I want to "make sure the primary winner is not presiding over rubble." I will vote for the Republican nominee in November of 2024, whoever that person turns out to be - Trump, DeSantis, or someone else. I might have to hold my nose to do it; I've had to do so in the past, but I will vote GOP. 

What you decide to do is your affair, of course. I'd encourage you to keep firmly in mind that a Republican in the White House should be our shared goal. For some of us, that person may not be the Republican of our dreams, but will be a clear improvement over what we've got now.

Saturday Snark, a Day Late

Darwin is inexorable.

Wow, it was a great week for these gems.
Images courtesy of Power Line's The Week in Pictures
and its Comments section.

Biden Campaign Dirty Tricks

Twitter files journalist Matt Taibbi writes about the inspiration and origin of the letter, signed by 50 intelligence officers, claiming the Hunter Biden laptop story showed “the classic earmarks of a Russian information operation.” Begin with allegations made in a letter to SecState Blinken written by House Judiciary Committee Chair Jim Jordan.

In that letter … you’ll see three snippets of dialogue from questioning of [former CIA Deputy Director Michael] Morell, who appears to have organized the open letter. In the first snippet, he explains that the idea originated with a call from Blinken, then of the Biden campaign, and that absent that call, Morell wouldn’t have done what he did…

If we go by the usual measuring stick of American scandal, the Watergate story, this potentially meets or exceed that, on almost every level. Does it reach into the current White House? Check. Was it a craven attempt to subvert the electoral process? Check again. Did a presidential candidate engineer a massive public deception? Yes, resoundingly. Did it involve intelligence agencies? Yes, and these weren’t amateurs like Nixon’s plumbers. These were 50 of the most powerful people in the intelligence world — including five former heads or acting heads of the Agency in Morell, John Brennan, Leon Panetta, Michael Hayden, and John McLaughlin — conspiring to meddle in domestic politics on a grand scale.

My source for the quote is a Scott Johnson column at Power Line. What is alleged is indeed world-class election meddling. 

Of course the 50 would respond something like “We never said it was actual Russian info, we only said it looked exactly like Russian info. Which assessment we stand behind; it did and it does.” 

Their clear intent, however, was to give the pro-Democrat media a plausible excuse not to report the story before the election. In this they were successful.

Saturday, April 22, 2023

Travel Blogging XV

The trip is over, we are home again, trying to get over our ship colds. We were never feverish and had no digestive upsets, just the runny nose and cough routine, with low grade malaise. 

❀ About our flight back, the other DrC has an excellent description of our business class seats you might enjoy. I didn’t recline the seat as much as she and didn’t sleep on either flight as I binge watched movies in between quite acceptable meals, snugly wrapped in a provided comforter.

This flight I saw Atomic Blonde, with the hard-edged glamor of Charlize Theron winning martial arts fights with various evil guys. For a change of pace I followed this with the original Downton Abbey film, which appeals to my Anglophile nature. Then I wrapped it up rewatching the last Indy film, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. My bias is toward action films, but I obviously make exceptions.

❀ I calculate Friday, April 21, lasted roughly 32 hours of experienced time for the DrsC as we slept for 2.5 hours, got up and flew from Budapest to Paris, changed planes and flew from Paris to Salt Lake City where we arrived in early afternoon and finally went to sleep around 6 p.m. MDT. At that point Friday, April 21, still had perhaps six hours to run.

❀ The other DrC has a formula she uses to calculate how long it will take to get over jet lag. You count the first three time zones crossed as 1 day, then add another day for each additional crossed time zone beyond 3. I think it means we’ll need close to a week. I often experience jet lag as resembling a mild hangover, as I remember them from my undergrad days at San Jose State. It was then a party school, so they weren’t always mild.

❀ The shared drive south from SLC to our desert edge part of Nevada was an easy 5± hours. Still plenty of snow on the mountains in UT, none near I-15 which has an 80 mph speed limit for most of it’s non-urban length in UT. Such long, fast drives make an electric auto impractical for us.

❀ As we left UT and transited the little northwest corner of AZ the desert wildflowers were in full bloom in the canyon of the Virgin River which the highway descends, lots of orangey-pink that the other DrC labeled “salmon” and a bunch of yellows too. By the time we left the canyon the flowers were nearly gone. We’re lower and hence warmer, so ours likely bloomed last week.

❀ Thus ends the record of our first overseas trip since Covid put a damper on travel way back when. Not sure when or if there will be more.

The Rise and Fall of Empires

It occurs to me that we misunderstood the colonial impulses of the Rus, of which V. Putin is only the most recent avatar. Tsarist Russia was after all a colonial empire and the tsar was an emperor. 

Somewhere in the middle of all this is some undefinable-by-me “homeland of the Rus” whose people had taken over and dominated the rest of that vast country. Following the downfall of the tsar, it became a Marxist entity but its core was a Russian empire. Members of the Rus, and those who adopted that identity spread out across the area included in the USSR, settled and made the locales their homes. 

Empires fall apart. Typically the “left behind” members of the dominant nationality have two main choices: go elsewhere or stay put and go native. 

British who were left behind in India, Malaya, South Africa, Kenya, Sri Lanka, the Caribbean islands, etc., found their status changed. They changed from high status representatives of the colonial empire, to emigres who might be at least somewhat suspect. 

A lot of the Brits went home, or moved to former colonies like Australia, New Zealand, Canada which continue to maintain something of the British culture, language, and values. Some few remained where they were and tried to fit in, understanding they’ll be expats for life.

Few left-behind Russians in the Baltic republics, Ukraine, Moldova, Belarus, and the central Asian ‘Stans were willing or able to return to an economically beaten Russia. And they are reluctant to fit in as locals. 

Putin has declared himself, and the nation he wields, as protectors of this Russian diaspora. To a substantial degree it is in this role he mistakenly invaded Ukraine. It won’t be easy getting him to back down, the Rus appear to believe they exist to rule others.

India too is a nation of nations - now the empire of the Hindi. One wonders how long it will hold together? The separations of Ceylon (Sri Lanka), Pakistan and Bangladesh were the first steps in that dismantling.

China is yet another such. They are trying to force the assimilation of the Islamic Uyghurs or, absent that, their genocide. The intent with respect to Tibet is less clear, but probably similar.

About Hungary

Writing for the Claremont Institute’s The American Mind, Daniel J. Mahoney speaks about today’s Hungary with sympathy and understanding. I’m not clear that he agrees with their every policy position, but certainly with many of them. 

It is currently fashionable on the left to view Hungary as semi-fascist, and pro Russian. Probably neither is true. What is true is that the Hungarians don’t buy into what we here call “woke” and they don’t want Islamic refugees. Their lack of buy-in is enough to trigger accusations of fascism from progressives.

I just spent a day in Budapest and I report the following from a quick overview. There is no heavy handed police presence, no one checking “papers,” no propaganda posters plastered everywhere, airport security wasn’t oppressive, and it looks prosperous. I’m inclined to believe what Mahoney and Steven Hayward have written about the country and its Trump-like President Viktor Orbán.

Note: The Hungarian (Magyar) language is one of the Uralic languages, which also include Finnish, Estonian and Sami. These are not part of the Indo-European language family.

National Socialism in CA

First-among-equals John Hinderaker of Power Line writes about proposals made by California’s major utility companies to tie electricity bills to household income. Shifting from charging customers exclusively for current used to charging them a service fee based on income plus a reduced fee per kilowatt hour. The companies did this in response to the state’s demand that costs for electricity be made more ‘equitable.’

This is less “socialism” than it is “national socialism,” which history shows carried out national policies through its sway over privately held major companies like Krupp. It is government redistributionism done at one remove, making it appear the companies are responsible for what in fact the government demands.

Hinderaker’s reaction is to the point. He writes:

Which will continue California on its path to oblivion. If I owned a house in California, I would sell it.

COTTonLINE responds: Been there, done that … nearly three years ago, after 40+ years as a CA homeowner. Like others in similar circumstances, I regret the necessity, not the outcome. 

Hinderaker should consider taking his own advice. Doing so, he would leave bright blue Minnesota which is on a similar glide path to oblivion.

Friday, April 21, 2023

Travel Blogging XIV

❀ My first topic today is Serious Bread. I conclude the reason Europe has excellent breads is they take bread seriously. Here in the U.S. we really don’t. We pop thin, insubstantial slices of a wheat-based blandness in a toaster or wrap them around sandwich fillings but really don’t consider bread as serious food, worthy of respect. 

Europeans serve bread at every meal, expect it to have a semi-tough crust, and want to actually chew it. Perhaps the only bread product we Americans take a little seriously is biscuits. Over the last two weeks we ate croissants at breakfast, crusty thick slices of white and wheat baguettes and rolls, with and without seeds at lunch and dinner, and loved all of it.

Be clear, we were not at all surprised by this difference when we experienced it again recently. We’ve known it since we first went overseas maybe 30+ years ago. It is one of the delights of European travel.

❀ Another treat I find common overseas and rare in the States is rum raisin ice cream, in fact anything flavored with rum-soaked raisins. The availability of things flavored with rum raisins is particularly strong in Britain and its former colonies with predominantly European populations - Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. Plus the German firm Ritter Sport makes an excellent rum raisin flavored chocolate bar.

❀ Viking river cruises pours red and white wine with lunch and dinner at no extra charge, though they have premium wines you can buy if you choose. We drank little wine as we don’t love it. The other DrC drank San Pelegríno sparkling water and I drank Coke Zero, also included with no charge. 

❀ The Viking food is good, and their default “available every night if you don’t favor the menu choices” items are a ribeye steak and salmon - better choices than on a Princess cruise, for instance. I believe Viking views food excellence as a factor to distinguish their brand, and don’t let the cost accountants dominate the menu planning.

❀ The several firms running river cruises all run the same rivers, make roughly the same stops in the same order, and offer the same sights at those stops. A firm tries to distinguish its offering from the herd by an emphasis on staff friendliness, food, drink, included vs. for-fee excursions, carefully curated interactions with locals, etc. 

❀ I knew of one firm 15-20 years ago which had an on-board physician on each river ship, which would be important to some challenged travelers. I don’t believe they continue to sail. Unlike an ocean cruise a river ship is never more than a couple of hours from the nearest medical service.

❀ The longest day is today. Flying westward in a modern passenger jet does odd things to day length. As I write this addendum the time in Budapest where we arose at 2:30 a.m. is now 4:30 a.m. April 22 whereas the time where I am now near Salt Lake City is 8:30 p.m. April 21, In other words, my April 21 has so far lasted 26 elapsed hours, with 3.5 hours of April 21 remaining.

Wednesday, April 19, 2023

Birds of a Feather

The editorial board of Isssues & Insights takes a deep dive into the population shifts occurring across our great land during the last two years. They get down to the county level and find counties that voted for Trump mostly gained population while counties that voted for Biden mostly lost population. 

Paradoxically, this means our great cities are losing conservative voters meaning they become more progressive. I suspect the mayoral election just completed in Chicago reflected this, a progressive was replaced by someone even more progressive. 

The I&I analysis seems to suggest who is moving is conservatives, with a couple of exceptions. I suppose that makes sense. Faced with the progressive trifecta of media, corporate governance, and academia egging on the administrative state, who will want to flee is conservatives. To some degree, they are also who can more afford to flee. 

The Great Sort continues….

Running Against Trump

You may remember I wrote several days ago, or maybe it was weeks, that for a non-Trump candidate to win the GOP nomination he has to thread the needle. He needs to praise Trump policies while criticizing the Trump demeanor, his chaotic personnel appointments, and his inability to get things done through the bureaucracy that, like it or hate it, is here to stay. I concluded it may not be possible.

Not to mention that if such a person won the nomination by defeating Trump, he (or she) still needs the votes of Trump loyalists to win the general election. Will Trump loyalists boycott the election or cast a third party protest vote? Which is to say, are they Republicans first, or Trumpists first? Will they man up and vote for whoever the party nominates, or will they say a pox on both houses and stay home? 

The Washington Examiner’s Byron York covers this ground and reaches the same conclusion I did.

In the absence of some really big, game-changing event, beating Trump in a Republican presidential primary race is a very, very tall order. It is not impossible — it's far too early to make any such pronouncements — but there's no proof it can be done, either.

And that is just the primary, which if won, leaves the candidate to face the next hurdle. I think there is a greater-than-zero probability that DeSantis chooses to not run until 2028.

Tuesday, April 18, 2023

Travel Blogging XIII

❀ I promised you I’d find out what the hotel staff does when the ship is laid up for the winter, the answer is they get their pay pretty much year around. Viking apparently has found it is worth paying good people over 12 months to keep them from fleeing to other employers. 

If they work in the off season they sure aren’t going to admit it to pax. They claim they catch up on their sleep and get done all the “stuff” a life requires. Seven months a year they basically have no time off, although they manage to get haircuts, etc. It must be a crazy life but I bet Viking sort of “takes care” of them, gets them medical care, etc.

Cruise ship staffs we’ve talked to in the past say you can save a ton of money because there isn’t much to spend it on or time to enjoy it. 

❀ The other DrC caught the “ship cold” a couple of days ago and now I have it. Runny nose, cough, the usual uglies. We had planned some sightseeing in Vienna, where we are now docked. Looks like that won’t happen. Trying to press on through a cold is a good way to to turn it into pneumonia, which we do not want to experience. So we’ll stay aboard and take it easy.

Cruise ships, like airliners, are places where catching some respiratory illness is a greater risk. If nobody brings a cold onboard when we sail, someone will surely pick one up in a port along the route. 

More often than not one or both of us end up catching something and we fly home coughing. I’m thinking I’m getting a little old to voluntarily expose myself to a densely populated “petri dish” like this. 

❀ I was rereading what I wrote yesterday about the houses hereabouts being similar. I started wondering if the stucco covers stone block construction? It might, houses here are built to last centuries and be passed down in the family. We heard yesterday about a house that has been in one family for roughly a thousand years! That boggles the mind. 

By contrast, the DrsC have purchased or had built six brand new, never occupied houses over the past 50+ years, and still own 2 of them. It never occurs to us we might own something for a lifetime.

Monday, April 17, 2023

Travel Blogging XII

I bring you today a collection of random observations from a European river cruise.

❀ I was wrong about being done with locks. There are locks on this portion of the upper Danube too. They are bigger and the overheads are higher. Because of that latter difference, the ship’s rooftop sun deck has been reestablished and the stairways to access it are no longer roped off.

❀ I haven’t mentioned our crew. As is typical in cruise ships, the crew is divided into “ship” and “hotel” personnel. Think of “ship” as sailors, they know how to run the ship, do repairs, reconfigure to go under low bridges, tie us up, configure landing ramps, maintain the machinery, etc.

Think of “hotel” as those providing passenger care. They include room attendant/maids, waiters, cooks, bartenders, entertainers, the fellow who fills the “cruise director” slot and the front desk folk. Plus unseen somebodies run the laundry and wash the dishes.

Most of these ships sit idle in the winter, except for a few which do a couple of December “Christmas markets” runs on the Rhine. The cruising season is roughly April to October. I’ll have to ask our waiters what they do in the off-season. Do you suppose they work at ski resorts which are busier in winter? More on this later.

A fun thing to watch is the human chain that is used to move food and other consumables from shore to ship and into storage. Every crew member takes a place in the chain and things get handed from one to the next until they reach dry or cold storage down in the hold. I was reminded of early days bucket brigades trying to douse a fire. 

A number of nationalities are represented. Eastern Europeans predominate, logically: Hungary, Romania, Moldova, Serbia, Croatia, Bulgaria, and well as a few from Asia - Philippines, Indonesia, etc. They are uniformly pleasant, polite, hard-working, and friendly. I suppose Viking gets the credit for this, either by weeding out those who don’t fit “the model” or by a combination of selection and training. 

It is possible some of the “ship” side folk are from nations along this great river system, they are more likely to be from “river” families, growing up on a motorized barge. We pax don’t routinely interact with the sailors, so I have less info on them.

❀ I noticed this a.m. we’re tied up with our bow pointed upstream and, being curious, asked why considering our route is headed downstream on the Danube which here is green, not blue. The answer may interest you. 

In this section of river the current is considered “strong.” We turned around and headed upstream to dock so our sharp bow is pointed upstream into the strong current. This causes less drag on the moorings than if our blunt stern was pointed into the current. I wouldn’t have thought it would matter, and it obviously does or they wouldn’t have bothered.

❀ I saw a logging truck today and was reminded of home. Logging makes sense in the Black Forest but I hadn’t expected it. At various places along the river I’ve seen quite large woodpiles of the sort one builds when stockpiling firewood for the winter. These weren’t as highly “engineered” as those the Swiss make, but tidy nevertheless. I’d read that Europeans were getting back into burning wood when the boycotts of Russian oil kicked in a year.ago. Perhaps what I’ve seen this trip is evidence of that change.

❀ As we’ve cruised along I’ve noticed that all the houses in this part of Germany and Austria look very similar. Everything appears to be stuccoed, two or more stories, light cream or tan paint, brown roofs with gable ends. It’s like nobody wants to be an outlier with a different color, roof material, window size, etc. It looks very tidy as a result, no monstrosities but nothing beautiful either, rather drab in its uniformity. 

❀ We’re having Northern European weather today, gray sky, some rain, not warm, and what I think of as watercolor moodiness. Yesterday we had everything - rain at times, sunshine at other times, lunch was served on the forward patio in open air, but those who went out after lunch on a tour got soaked with rain.

We rewatched The Longest Day which is available on the room TV and could empathize with Ike’s dilemma of the June weather in Normandy. They got a brief “window” in the storms, he took it and won a gamble that could have gone the other way. That film had nearly every Hollywood male face in it, from teen idols to creaky old character actors. 

Today feels like it could be gray all day. In mid-April, about what one would expect here. There is still snow on the ground in Wyoming so we’re in no great rush to go there, and in any event we have to go first to NV to tidy up things and that could take a month, though we hope not.

❀ We cruised the Wachau valley of Austria today, this is extra pretty country with lots of hillside vineyards looking down at the Danube. Not a lot of traffic on the roads either, maybe because it is early for tourists.

Sunday, April 16, 2023

Green Meanness

The Associated Press is reporting that last night, as planned, Germany shut down its three remaining nuclear reactors generating electric power. Apparently they are frightened by the Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, and Fukushima meltdowns. 

The Greens will be happy. Oddly enough, the Germans haven’t convinced the French next door that reactor power is bad, and if the French have a meltdown Germany will certainly feel the effects. 

I suppose the German Greens will reap the rewards of felt moral superiority, which motivates Karens wherever they call home. Wind and solar just will not fill the bill, and I see no great movement to do hydropower, which is perhaps the best of the green power sources.

The globalists of Davos want you and me to live greatly diminished lives, while they continue to fly their private jets and enjoy the fruits of wealth. When homes grow cold and lights go out, most voters will not be happy. I, for one, am unwilling to comply. 

As our populations shrink, we have no need to greatly restrict our lifestyles to ease our footprint on the environment. It is happening more or less automatically.

Travel Blogging XI

We are tied up alongside near the downtown of Passau in southern Bavaria. The church bells calling the faithful to mass just finished ringing, the bell ringers got their exercise this morning. 

This town offers the classic river cruising experience. We are literally within easy walking distance of downtown. Unfortunately nothing is open as it is Sunday. Germans aren’t so fussy about separating church and state as we are.

The weather continues cool, no surprise. Europe is farther north than Americans imagine it to be. Germany is roughly as far north as Nova Scotia. Passau, where we are now, is farther north than Halifax but not so far north as St. John’s, Newfoundland. 

We are off the Main Canal and on the upper Danube River. I suppose we are finished with locks, of which the canal has aplenty. 

The other DrC says she feels like she has a cold, she’s coughing. Bummer, as closely as we will be wedged together over the next week, it will be a miracle if I don’t catch it. Just this morning I notice face masks have started appearing on people who haven’t worn one for the past week, which probably means the dreaded “ship’s cold” is making the rounds.

When we leave here this evening it appears we transit almost immediately into Austria, of Sound of Music and Third Man fame. We are approximately 2/3 the way through this river cruise, If I’m correct we fly out of Budapest on Friday, change planes in Paris, and then fly nonstop to Salt Lake City. Chasing the sun around the planet, our Friday will last considerably longer than 24 hours.

Friday, April 14, 2023

Big Tent Shortcomings

Our two party, big tent politics has a number of advantages over the multiparty, every-government-is-a-weak-coalition model you find in Germany, Israel, and the Netherlands. I’ve written about those advantages elsewhere and they aren’t our topic today.

I write instead about the disadvantages of the two party system as embodied in the rapidly approaching 2024 presidential race. The leading contenders for nomination by our de facto two party system are two individuals neither of whom is popular with the voters.

Joe Biden isn’t popular with Democrats who wish their party would nominate someone less senile and embarrassing. Donald Trump isn’t popular with a majority of Republicans but appears to have a larger group of committed voters than any of the other announced or presumed candidates. He’s often embarrassing too.

Political mavens like Michael Barone and Karl Rove can spin you elaborate explanations of why these two look likely to be their parties’ nominees. Much of those explanations go back to the shortcomings of big-tent politics.

Meanwhile a superstar like Mike Pompeo who graduated first in his class at West Point, attained an Army rank of Captain, went to Harvard Law where he edited the Law Review, and then was elected congressman, and appointed Director of the CIA and later Secretary of State can’t get traction. He just announced he will not be a candidate for the GOP nomination. Pathetic.

We could end up with our major parties nominating an idiot and an ass, respectively. Right now that would be the odds-on bet if you had to place one. What an absolutely ridiculous choice to have to make come November, 2024.

Later … Upon reflection, I conclude we have weak coalitions too, but they are intraparty, the result of haggling among power blocs, and thus papered over in the general election. The results come out about the same … very unimpressive most of the time.

Travel Blogging X

In addition to my musings about “rollin’ on the river,” you may want to see those of the other DrC herehere and here. She captures some dimensions of the experience better than I do. She has a photographer’s eye and a woman’s sensibility that is intrigued by different things than those which interest me. 

She is absolutely correct that we’ve done this trip several times and enjoyed it each time. This trip we haven’t felt the need to go poke about in the little (and big) cities along the way as we’ve “been there, done that” on previous visits. 

We are enjoying being pampered by Viking’s excellent staff, mostly drawn from Eastern Europe. It is a sinfully luxurious experience, they smilingly do all the work, we smile back at them in evident enjoyment, and the mood is excellent.

Late yesterday we cycled through some amazing locks that you wouldn’t believe if you haven’t seen them. Imagine your ship sails into a concrete-walled canyon perhaps two feet wider than your ship and perhaps 40-50 feet taller. I looked up and it felt like being at the Narrows in Zion National Park or the narrow canyon leading to Petra in Jordan, a strip of sky waaaay up there and me down at the bottom. 

Then the gates close, the water flows in, and a few minutes later you sail out of the lock looking down at the top edges you formerly craned your neck to look up at. It is a surreal experience totally unlike transiting the Panama Canal in a cruise ship. And this amazing lifting of our quite long, skinny ship is done with no fuss, nothing special in the way of obvious exertion. 

It is a dramatic version of the old adage that a rising tide lifts all boats, although “tide” isn’t what did the deed here. I wouldn’t be surprised if these locks are a unique experience unmatched anywhere on the planet for total lift accomplished by a single lock.

Later … We are cruising through an area where some of the churches have onion domes, I’ve seen the same thing in Switzerland. They aren’t Eastern Orthodox, whose onion domes are legendary, I don’t know what it means.

This part of Bavaria is heavily forested, called the Black Forest although small villages do occur. The river banks and hillsides are covered with a mix of deciduous and conifer trees, and not so densely ‘occupied’ as is most of Europe. I like this area.  

BTW, we just passed a canal side pasture with something like 40 white swans sitting in it. My thought was, at least it is close to their beloved water, which water isn‘t so very busy this far from Amsterdam. Earlier this morning we passed a marina that had been excavated off to one side of the river/canal, lots of pleasure craft but this early in the season not a lot of activity.

Travel Blogging IX

We are tied up alongside in the river port of Nuremberg, famous for the war crimes trials, the enormous Nazi party rallies, and more. There is still river traffic this far upstream, but it is like maybe a ship every 30 minutes. Closer to the sea it was more like a ship every 3-5 minutes.

My guess is that ship operators find the many locks on this part of the journey tiresome, expensive, and slow. If I was running one of those family powered barges I would charge a steep price for a trip that included the Main Canal. If that is the norm, then fewer cargos will merit transit on this waterway and perhaps the time-is-money charge drives more cargos to truck transport in this region. 

We are told that following Nuremberg, we will soon be in the downhill set of locks taking us to the Danube,, which regardless of the song, isn’t blue. There are said to be fewer locks ahead of us than behind us, perhaps because the headwaters of the Danube is at a higher elevation?

Thursday, April 13, 2023

An Open Source for Europe

I look at Politico for U.S. news and sometime find it is TMI, written for Washington insiders. Their leftwards bias also gets somewhat tiring. 

On the other hand, if you want to know what is happening in Europe, their European franchise, found at is just the ticket. They report on Europe, and try to include the America-relevant bits in their coverage. 

The bias is pro-EU and pro-NATO, which means at least somewhat anti-Hungary and Turkey. As I’m in Europe at the moment I’m giving it an extra look. You might want to give it a try, too.

Travel Blogging VIII

We continue to cruise the Main (rhymes with Rhine) Canal. It’s actually a couple of rivers turned into canals with a relatively large lock system and a large number of actual locks to traverse. Logic suggests there must have been some actual canal digging to connect the two watersheds which flow in semi-opposite directions. Also to turn two rivers into navigable waters.

The weather continues gray but so far today no rain. As I write this we are en route to Bamberg, alongside the lock we’re traversing are green pastures with scrubby trees marking the borders. Not precisely hedgerow country but you can see how that terrain evolved.

On this traverse we have passed under bridges with what appeared to be no more than a foot of clearance between our roof and the underside of the overpass. When we did these same routes on Grand Circle ships they didn’t have to sweep the top deck/roof clear of patio furniture and such, and the pilot house didn’t retract. However those earlier ships had only two enclosed decks and this one has three.

Back in the day Princess and other lines had ships engineered to just fit the locks at Panama Canal, and they were designated by the portmanteau term “Panamax.” The Viking ship we’re on now was engineered to be as big as the locks and bridges on the Main Canal will allow, same concept though I’m unclear if a term for this class exists.

This part of Germany features some serious agriculture, we just passed some obvious truck gardening with  plastic covered rows in a field. In spite of the gloomy skies, the trees are blooming and spring is upon the land. 

It occurs to me that powered houseboats would make sense on these waterways, but I don’t see them. Ergo, the regulations must not permit them. Imagine what fun it would be to have a house that you could tie up in any one of several countries, without ever being exposed to the rigors of the open sea. Motorized barges sort of fill this niche, but those come with an implied need to go where commerce demands, even if that’s not where you’d rather be. 

Wednesday, April 12, 2023

Urban Decay

The Daily Wire reports Walmart is closing four stores in Chicago, after closing their only two in Portland, OR. Meanwhile, Whole Foods is closing a store in San Francisco that had only been open a year. High crime rates, unpenalized shoplifting, and urban decay are all factors. 

Meanwhile, Budweiser Light has shot itself in the foot with their trans spokesperson. And The Hill reports 2 million people left big U.S. cities in the period 2020-2022. 

Do you begin to perceive a pattern in all of this? I believe I do. People who can get out are leaving cities, and so you get the sort of vote that just happened in Chicago’s vote for mayor - out of the frying pan and into the fire. 

Eventually big cities will become no-go zones for police and anarchy will reign, rein, or rain, pick one. That eventuality may well be within the next decade. 

Mad Max in the urban jungle, here we come.

Our Human Demise … Predicted

I’m giving you a link to a Business World article which argues that we should cease all work on artificial intelligence (AI). It cites an article appearing last week in Time, by Eliezer Yudkowsky who apparently has the background to make the following dramatic claim.

If somebody builds a too-powerful AI, under present conditions, I expect that every single member of the human species and all biological life on Earth dies shortly thereafter.

Both authors agree the proposed six month moratorium is a step in the right direction but insufficient. The cynical side of me suggests the outcome he predicts is no more than we deserve, although I’m not ready to die just yet. 

The sci fi aficionado part of me wonders if this is why we’ve never been contacted by a space-faring species? Implying all such invented the machines that eliminated them before attaining interstellar travel, as we appear ready to do.

If somebody designs that too-powerful AI, they should name it Orkin, as we’ll be the pests it exterminates. Who would have guessed that one of the early prophets of the Butlerian Jihad would be named Yudkowsky?

Travel Blogging VII

Europe doesn’t have a reputation for great weather, particularly not this far north. The locals go south to the Mediterranean coast when reliable sunshine is the goal.

So I’m not surprised that today we have rain, gray skies, and watercolor scenery. We’ve been lucky to avoid dreary weather until today. As they say, it comes with the territory, which here is Bavaria.

As I write this just before 10 a.m. local time, our longship has slithered into a lock. As I can see water pouring in up ahead, we are still climbing. Translation, we haven’t crossed the continental divide beyond which water no longer flows into the Atlantic’s North Sea but flows instead into the Black Sea and thence into the Mediterranean. 

Roughly 1/3 of our spring European adventure has entered the history books, and we have another 2/3 still to experience. I particularly enjoy river cruising. Ocean cruising isn’t the same, one patch of empty ocean looks almost exactly like any other. We’ve sailed across the Pacific several times and it is rare to see more than a couple of other ships during the entire crossing.

River cruising features continuously changing scenery on shore, dozens of other boats and ships to see every day, as well as the simple pleasures it shares with ocean cruising. Those shared pleasures are essentially those of a nice hotel and spa - good food prepared by, and cleaned up after by others, maid service, amiable companions, plus a sense of going somewhere new. And freedom from the daily demands of life at home, don’t forget the joys of a “vacation from reality.”

Tuesday, April 11, 2023

The Where and the Who

Writing at The American Spectator, Robert Stacy McCain discusses gun crime.

Research by John R. Lott Jr. highlights just how geographically concentrated the murder problem is in the United States. Of the more than 3,000 counties in the country, 52 percent had zero murders in 2020, while the 31 counties with the highest murder rates (the worst 1 percent) had 42 percent of the nation’s murders.

Expand the focus to the worst 2 percent (62 counties), and these accounted for more than half (56 percent) of U.S. murders in 2020. Lott concluded: “Murder isn’t a nationwide problem. It’s a problem in a small set of urban areas …”

Yes, but what about “gun violence”? What about the inflammatory rhetoric of Democrats demonizing the National Rifle Association (NRA) as somehow to blame for America’s crime problem?

Among other things, Lott took into account rates of firearm ownership, and found an inverse relationship between the prevalence of murder and rates of gun ownership: “According to a 2021 Pew Research Center survey, the household gun ownership rate in rural areas was 79% higher than in urban areas. Suburban households are 37.9% more likely to own guns than urban households. Despite lower gun ownership, urban areas experience much higher murder rates.”

Most of those murdering, and their victims, are individuals in inner cities. My rural neighbors in WY are gun owners and I have no fear of them whatsoever. The problem is messed-up, drugged-out people.

Quote of the Day

Jim Geraghty writes at National Review the following one-sentence summary of the Biden presidency. I wish I’d written it.

The president is always telling us that things are going great and that we have nothing to worry about, and a little later, we learn that the truth is the opposite.

Biden has literally never been correct in these assessments, a real ‘achievement’ even for a world-class prevaricator. 

Travel Blogging VI

Today we are cruising the Rhine-Main-Danube canal which was only completed in 1992. It has 16 locks and lifts ships to a height of 1332 ft. above sea level. That makes it the highest level a ship starting at sea level can attain on this planet.

The canal links the Rhine, which drains into the North Sea and Atlantic, and the Danube which drains into the Black Sea. It enables river ships to cruise from Belgium and the Netherlands to Romania, accessing France, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, Serbia, Bulgaria, and Romania. 

Low bridges mean only specialized river ships can make the transit, and those sometimes resort to somewhat extreme means to sneak under the overpasses. For instance, our ship has a retractable wheelhouse that sinks entirely into the ship, and whatever deck furniture is deployed across the top deck must be cleared away in order to make the transit. 

This topside reconfiguring takes the crew 3 hours each time it is  either cleared away or reestablished. So the take-it-down, and put-it-back-up cycle only happens once per transit. 

This waterway is strikingly smaller than the Rhine, not so narrow as some canals but no big river either. The banks are much closer to the ship, though there is room for two of our hotel ships to pass. A central authority schedules lock transits and we have to be there at our appointed time, it isn’t hurry up and wait.

As I predicted a couple of days ago, up in these waters you see row boats, and kayaks. And I’ve been amazed at the very large number of RVs camped along the rivers in April. I would expect the campgrounds to be busy in summer, but now in April when it isn’t particularly warm? The other DrC thinks it is an Easter vacation thing, I don’t have a better answer. European employees tend to get 6 weeks of paid leave so I guess a spring trip makes sense.


You won’t like what you read at the article I’m linking to this morning, you won’t like it but you need to read it and answer the question it poses. Rod Thomson writes at American Greatness that it is difficult to see how Donald J. Trump can win the 2024 presidential election. 

Thomson makes the point that circumstances in the swing states which decide presidential elections have today become less favorable for a Trump candidacy than they were in 2020. And he makes another point, for the sake of our country, 2024 is an election the GOP cannot afford to lose.

The dilemma is that we need a candidate with less baggage and self-destructive tendencies than Trump, but that individual cannot win without the votes of Trump supporters. How a non-Trump nominee defeats Trump in the primaries without losing the votes of Trump diehards in November is the puzzle I wish I had an answer for. It may not even be possible but, for the sake of the nation, an electable Republican has to try to accomplish it.

Monday, April 10, 2023

Travel Blogging V

Today, on our third day cruising upstream, which is to say southeast, on the Rhine, the terrain is no longer flat. The hills are old, rounded and wooded knobs but hills nonetheless. As such, the DrsC prefer this scenery, the river here feels more natural and less canal like. 

The Rhine is a big river, not huge like the Amazon, but big enough for quite substantial ships to pass each other easily and with no drama. If the river is either too high or too low, the cruise ships can’t sail. Too high and we can’t get under bridges, too low and we’re in danger of grounding on a sandbar. The large number of river cruise ships is testimony to the fact that most of the time the Rhine is in that Goldilocks sweet spot of neither too high or too shallow.

The charm of a river cruise is you unpack once and your hotel room follows you across Europe, or up the Nile. When the conditions are not favorable, people who booked a river cruise end up on a bus tour. I’ll bet this leaves them mightily bummed as they have to pack up every day and get the luggage out to be loaded on the bus. 

In all the river cruising we’ve done, we’ve only had a water level problem once. A cruise on the Elbe in eastern Germany was supposed to begin in Hamburg but there was insufficient water so we were bussed to Berlin and picked up the ship near there to go on upstream. It was okay, the Elbe is a much smaller river than the Rhine or Danube, more on a par with the Moselle.

We’ve briefly paused our journey, I believe to queue up to use a dock to reboard passengers who have gone to explore a castle on a nearby hill. Coincidentally we are stopped by an RV park with lots of small caravans (trailers), VW vans, and what appear to be class C motorhomes. By U.S. standards it doesn’t offer much, but here it is probably considered nice. I’m certain the people who do it enjoy it.

Travel Blogging IV

Last post I wrote about what we see afloat on the great rivers of Europe. Today I write about what we see on the banks of Europe’s great rivers. Mostly the terrain is relatively flat this far down stream. 

Some of it is what you’d see from a train. Industrial plants and shipyards are common, water transport being a common thing here. There are also prosperous-looking towns and, less common, large cities. 

Yesterday I saw something labeled “bunkeringstation” and as an old cruise hand, knew it was a “filling station” for riverboats. Bunkering is the term of art for filling a ship’s fuel tanks. It originated with the bunkers in which coal was stored to fire the old steam ships.

There are also recreation facilities along the banks, RV campsites, day use parks, festival grounds, an occasional sand beach. Farther upstream there will sometimes be a paved bike path along the bank, an updating of an old towpath once trod by horses pulling boats upstream. 

Speaking of RVs, the European idea of “hookups” is electricity, which here is 220 volts. Water and sewer connections are uncommon and the caravans or trailers tend to be small and light enough to be pulled by a smallish car. 

Many bridges cross the big rivers, and where one is needed but, for some reason not built, there will be a ferry boat taking people and cars across. Some of these bridges feature elegant designs while others are as utilitarian as a shovel. As I write this we are passing under heavy duty electric transmission lines which loop over the river.

Later … Rail lines often run alongside the river, especially where the terrain is not flat. Later today, for instance, we will run for hours along a Rhine stretch with low mountains on either side. In addition to castle fortresses on commanding heights, built to force toll payment on river users, there are train tracks along the riverbanks which provide a relatively level path through the hills. 

Passenger trains here are common, running the same route several times a day. Many lines are “electrified” so that engines pick up power from overhead wires like streetcars, instead of burning diesel.


On another subject entirely, internet usage is a bit odd here. The U.S.-based websites I consult regularly don’t update until Europe’s midafternoon, there being a 5-6 hour time difference. For a guy who has spent most of his life in the western half of the U.S., and therefore gets stuff early if it originates in the east coast Acela corridor, here is the exact opposite … everything is late. 

The other internet oddity is that you get lots of warnings about how your internet usage generates info which is used by or sold to others. These warnings are mandated by the bureaucrats of the EU in Brussels. Different strokes, as they say.

Saturday, April 8, 2023

Travel Blogging III

Happy Easter Sunday morning. Our cruise on the Rhine finds us pulling into Cologne, Germany, (Köln in German).   Nearly everything except churches, beer halls and restaurants will be closed today in honor of a holiday most Germans no longer celebrate in church.

Europe’s fine old churches and cathedrals should be thought of as ‘museums of faith’ and, of course, as tourist attractions. The death of faith as a life-organizing principle came to Europe earlier than to the U.S. and the rest of the world (except perhaps Japan where it also arrived early). The attendees at services here are mostly elderly women, and not many of those.

My fascination with river cruising rekindled almost as soon as we left the dock in Amsterdam. The Rhine flows north-northwest to the sea and is a watery autobahn or ‘highway’ that is truly interstate. 

So far I’ve seen riverine oil tankers, bulk carriers filling the dump truck role, container ships, local excursion boats, sail powered yachts running under auxiliary power, cabin cruisers, other hotel ships like ours, ferries, work boats of various shapes and sizes, and barge pushers with unstreamlined front ends. When we get farther upriver I expect we will see some small boats with outboard motors and even canoes and kayaks as well as people fishing on the banks.

Some of the most interesting ships are the motorized barges which are also the homes of the families who own and operate them, complete with family car on the dwelling’s roof and a crane or davit to hoist it on and off the ship. These ply the Rhine, Moselle, Main, and Danube rivers hauling all sorts of stuff - bulk or containerized cargo. 

As we learned on previous river cruises, the barge children live aboard until it’s time for school, when they go to special boarding schools for “river kids” who then spend holidays on shipboard with the parents. Some families have been “river folk” for generations, and some of the hotel ships have a captain who grew up “on the river.” I suppose it could be thought of as a riverine subculture, likely multilingual though identifying as Belgian, Dutch, German or French.

A river ship can cruise from the North Sea to the Black Sea, traversing a series of locks to get them over the higher terrain where the Main canal connects the Danube to the Rhine. I suspect it is uncommon for freight ships to make the entire journey across Europe, it’s likely they specialize in one major river or the other. 

The hotel ships like ours do sometimes make the entire trip from Amsterdam to Constanta on the Black Sea, and back. Even for them it is unusual to do the entire route. Routes like Amsterdam-Vienna, Amsterdam-Budapest, and Vienna-Constanta are the norm.

Personal vs. Actual Secession

Instapundit Glenn Reynolds reacts to someone’s claim to have unilaterally seceded personally, with the following comment.

I know a lot of people who are doing that on a personal level. I don’t think, by the way, that actual secession is a good idea, or would work.

I write to react to Reynolds’ disagreement with the idea “that actual secession is a good idea, or would work.” I remain unconvinced it is a good idea, it could either work or degenerate into a bloody mess.

The models one would hope to emulate would be the peaceful separation of the two parts of the former Czechoslovakia or the split of Singapore from Malaysia. The model one would hope to avoid is the former Yugoslavia whose splitting led to civil war, modest-scale genocide, war crimes, and lasting rancor. Our own former civil war and its aftermath were no picnic either.

In other words, we know of examples where it was peaceful, and others where it was not. In spite of which uncertainty I believe its occurrence is a more-than-remote possibility.

Travel Blogging II

In lieu of Snark collections, I will be doing Travel Blogging, which is a collection of observations, ruminations, and the like stimulated by the change of scene. The first of these is that at the Amsterdam airport Schiphol there were people smoking cigarettes, something you rarely see in the States these days. 

The Dutch use a lot of bicycles, and the reason is that the country is flat, flat, flat. Bikes are much more feasible when there aren’t hills to climb. Our river cruiser offers the fit bicycle tours at some of our stops, these provided by local vendors I believe.

It didn’t take long to see a Skoda auto, it is a Czech brand never distributed in the States. I expect to see some other automotive oddities as we wander about. Some makers don’t find our fussiness about air bags and emission controls worth bothering with.

The other DrC is off sightseeing in a small Netherlands village, and the visibility is less than 100 yards. Fog is the culprit. I don’t think their windmill photos will amount to much today.

Procedural Note

For the next two weeks the DrsC will be traveling in Europe. Whatever COTTonLINE posts happen during that time will be done on this iPad, the computer stayed home. For that reason, during this hiatus I will not be posting the Friday and Saturday Snark collections as the process by which I do so works best on the desktop unit.

If you need your weekly fix of right wing memes in the interim, you can find the source material for my Friday Snark at Scroll down to see the link to their collection of mostly left wing memes and a few right wing ones, for balance I suppose.

The source material for my Saturday Snark is Steven Hayward’s The Week in Pictures collection at which tend to lean right. Don’t forget to check the comments section which usually has a few good ones as well.

Friday, April 7, 2023

Travel Blogging I

I write this over the Atlantic at 37,000 ft and roughly 600 mph ground speed, en route to Amsterdam, we are about 7 hours out of Salt Lake City and two hours from the Netherlands. We’re passing south of Keflavik, Iceland, having overflown Labrador after flying close to the southeast corner of Hudson Bay. The carrier is Delta and the food has been quite decent. 

The drive north to SLC yesterday was uneventful, good Interstate 15 all the way. I will say for a Wednesday there was more traffic than I expected. Lots of semis which I expect on an interstate, but lots of cars and pickups, and more than a few RVs. 

After collecting our luggage at Schiphol Airport we will be picked up by agents for Viking who will transport us and our baggage to the ship, one of their “longship” river cruisers. Rumor has it we will be fed lunch and then have the afternoon to use as desired before the ship leaves and heads toward the Rhine. Fun fact: the name of the airport translates as “ship hell” and is so named because it is built on a filled in shallow area where once ships would run aground. 

I can’t post this from the plane, the supposed inflight WiFi isn’t strong enough for much more than scanning headlines. If I try to open an article the system just bogs down. So I will post it Thursday afternoon European time which will be about 5-6 a.m. PDT. 

On the flight I watched an old movie about which people say nice things but I’d somehow missed: 3 Days of the Condor, with Robert Redford, Faye Dunaway, and Cliff Robertson, released in 1975. The high tech isn’t high anymore, and you do notice the reliance on landline phones. The screen writer(s) were obviously deeply cynical about our government. I conclude in spite of these quibbles the film has aged well and doesn’t feel too dated.

Tuesday, April 4, 2023

Fair Is Fair

I'm not a rabid Trump supporter, though I'll vote for him if he is the GOP nominee. I read that Democrats are celebrating the indictment of Trump in New York City today. Okay, that's fair.

They are no happier than I would be if someone indicted the Biden crime family, including Joe, James, Hunter, and perhaps the former daughter-in-law whose name escapes me for the moment. Charges could perhaps include soliciting and accepting bribes, peddling influence (perhaps the same thing), and acting as unregistered agents of foreign governments. And ideally Dr. Jill for elder abuse.

Oddly enough, it wouldn't surprise me if the court found Joe too addled to stand trial. But imagine the fun forensic accountants would have with that family's account books, reconstructing the story of how they became wealthy while drawing government paychecks. 

Exactly Wrong

The Washington Post has a discussion of the 34 charges leveled against former President Trump, to each of which he pleaded "not guilty." It is worth noting that WaPo articles are normally behind a paywall and the fact this is not so screened is further evidence, if any is needed, that the WaPo wishes to do Trump harm.

I have no particular opinion about the charges and won't try to gin up one for this post. I write instead to quote verbatim a sentence from the WaPo article.

The judge could sentence Trump concurrently, meaning he would receive a sentence to be served one after the other.

The author should have written the word "consecutively" if in fact the intent was to communicate "served one after the other." On the other hand, "concurrently" means at the same time, simultaneously. Author Ann E. Marimow didn't just use a wrong word, she used one meaning the polar opposite of her intended meaning. 

Sore thumbs don't stick out as bad as this error. Does no one at the Washington Post do proofreading? 

Afterthought: Someone may eventually catch and correct this clanger, but at 1420 PDT I used "copy" and "paste" getting the above quoted sentence, I did zero tinkering with it.

Later: I sure called it. Checking the story again at 1535 PDT it now has been corrected and reads as follows. 

The judge could impose consecutive sentences, meaning Trump would have to serve them one after the other.

Red faces for sure at the WaPo.