Saturday, April 13, 2024

Iran Attacks Israel

It is widely reported Iran today launched a substantial number (some say 100s) of cruise missiles at targets in Israel. It is also suggested most of these were intercepted and destroyed without reaching their targets.

I presume Israel will return the favor and launch at targets in Iran. They will very likely have greater success although that is not certain.

Iran seemingly did not launch harder-to-intercept ballistic missiles at Israel. Ballistic missiles tend to be substantially more expensive than cruise missiles.

Cruise missiles are small, unmanned aircraft that take off and fly to their targets, carrying explosives. Ballistic missiles follow paths similar to high-arcing howitzer shells, and also carry explosives. Cruise missiles can loiter while a target is located, ballistic missiles cannot.

The US has announced it will assist Israel's defense. What happens next is unclear, maybe Iran's attack is a symbolic one-off, maybe it's the beginning of a wider regional war.

Saturday Snark





This is no joke, I've purchased there.






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

Friday, April 12, 2024

Friday Snark





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

Comparing Two Presidents

Steve Hayward at Power Line posts the following chart, but doesn't indicate his source for same.


If you were Joe Biden's reelection campaign manager, wouldn't those numbers give you a splitting headache? Will yelling "abortion" convince people paying what looks like roughly 20-40% more for groceries and fuel that they should stick with the guy who's to blame? I doubt it.

NPR Afterthought

NPR is supported by federal funds but also depends to a large extent on voluntary contributions by listeners, whose participation is sought with multiple pledge drives each year. This much I remember from when we listened. 

My afterthought arises out of the adage "follow the money." I wonder if the leftist ideological bias NPR exhibits arises from a survey of the subset of listeners who actually pledge and donate. It is possible they've learned only the ideologically radical left is willing to contribute significantly, and thus NPR content is pitched directly at that audience subset who donate. 

I can certainly imagine the logic of paying attention to the wishes of donors even if it is at the expense of driving away non-donor listeners. Be clear, I am not alleging this is the actual NPR paradigm, only that it is one possible explanation of their observed behavior.

Thursday, April 11, 2024

Life Imitates Art

Today CNN has a story about water shortages in Bogotá with rationing threatened and reservoirs at record low levels. The blame is being placed on El Niño causing a drought.

Reading this I thought "how ironic." I immediately wondered if anybody had checked to see if Dominic Green was somewhere, somehow involved.

I scanned the rest of the article, about a quite serious problem, but could find no references to the Quantum of Solace Bond film, where monopolizing water sources in a dry land was the mcguffin. Instead it made reference to The Simpsons animated TV series. 

When a water shortage in Bolivia reminds people of a TV show instead of an iconic Bond film, you know Hollywood and the movies are in a world of hurt.

Is Now like the 1930s Geopolitically?

Economist Noah Smith writes he is concerned we are in the build-up to World War III. He describes this period resembling the localized wars of the 1930s that ended up being rolled into World War II. 

Smith's concern is we don't seem to realize what may be lurking over the horizon. Unlike the authoritarian powers (China, Russia, Iran, N. Korea), we are not busily preparing to be ready for a world war when it arrives in our lap.

The name of his blog - Noahpinion - has echoes of COTTonLINE. His argument isn't something to read when you're feeling blue, or defeated. Translation: it is worrying all on its own. 

Getting Over Never Trumpism

If you've been deploring Joe Biden's dementia, his open border, his pandering to Islamic fanatics, but you've also been resisting the logical imperative that follows - voting for Trump - I have a Kurt Schlichter column for you to read. 

Schlichter lays down the "lesser of two evils" argument in unflinching terms.  He argues persuasively that refusing to vote for Trump will get Americans killed, and he's probably correct, even if you discount Biden's bewildering foreign policy.

Schlichter has an energetic writing style that is never boring, give him a try.

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

The NPR Monoculture

Concerning the critique of NPR by Uri Berliner, noted below, NPR has issued a non-response 'response.'  Berliner accused NPR of ideological non-diversity. They respond with a defense of their racial and ethnic diversity, a straw man Berliner never attacked.

I'm unclear whether the people who run NPR understand there are alternative viewpoints to those uniformly held by their staff. Half or more of the country holds views NPR does not recognize as existing or having salience to our national existence. 

I fear NPR is preaching to an ever-shrinking choir. The next time the GOP controls both houses of Congress they should zero out federal funding for NPR and leave it reliant on its listener base. 

Perhaps the need to grow the listening/contributing audience will cause someone at NPR to consider broadening the ideological reach of their news programs.

CPI Up 3.5%

CNBC is the most reliable part of NBC News. They report consumer prices rose 3.5% in the past 12 months. In addition to which,

Excluding volatile food and energy components, core CPI also accelerated 0.4% on a monthly basis while rising 3.8% from a year ago.

The political implications of this continued rise are, I hope, obvious to the interested observer. Voters blame the party in power, in this case the Democrats.  This refutes their claim that inflation is in any way “past” or “over.” 

On the contrary, it continues to be nearly twice what the FRB would like. Thus interest rates will stay high and mortgages will stay unaffordable.

Tuesday, April 9, 2024

Afterthoughts

I have been mulling over the Uri Berliner article upon which the previous post was based. I've been trying to imagine how the bright, educated editorial staff of NPR News could reach the conclusion that ours is an essentially racist society with no opportunities for POCs? 

I feel absolutely immersed in evidence that opportunities for POCs are abundant, and being utilized by so many. How could the NPR crew conclude to the contrary? 

Here in Nevada there are Hispanics and Asians working in the medical offices I visit, the restaurants I patronize. They built the house I live in, and those of my neighbors. And the casino staff are largely Hispanic. So is the manager of our Wells Fargo branch.

I saw a medical specialist last year with quite a strong Spanish accent, and name. My wife was treated by another specialist who was Asian. Our pharmacist is Asian. The electrician who installed our ceiling fans was a Pacific Islander, who employed a crew.

I've lived in this community about 3 years and, as far as I'm aware, everybody is getting along and getting on with their lives. I rarely see a gloomy or angry face. The structural racism hypothesis appears to be disproven by my surroundings - by my neighbors and fellow residents.

How the ‘Red Guard’ Captured NPR

The DrsC started our marriage too many years ago listening to NPR on the clock radio as we woke up. It was liberal but you could kinda ignore that and enjoy the fun parts, of which there were plenty. Garrison Keillor was mostly entertaining and the Magliozzi brothers’ show fun too.

We stopped decades ago when it became too much to ignore. NPR had became the radio version of MSNBC, a Democrat Party propaganda outlet and nothing more.

The last thing we still tuned in for was Click and Clack, the Tappet Brothers’ show about auto repair. When one of the brothers died and they stopped playing reruns, we quit cold turkey and never went back. 

I report this history because someone on the inside, Uri Berliner, has written a plea for balance in their coverage. I read it nodding my head throughout. 

Berliner is a 25 year veteran of NPR. He reports how the drift leftward looked from the inside, and it is the story of an organization “buying” the bogus idea this is a bad country, even though nearly everyone in the third world would move here if they were able. 

Berliner could have echoed Ronald Reagan’s famous comment that he still had the values he’d had as a Democrat but the Party had gone off and left him behind. Berliner appears to feel this way about the organization to which he’s given his life.

If you once were a regular NPR listener but have drifted away, go read what Berliner has written and learn what it was like to serve an organization that has lost its way.

Sunday, April 7, 2024

Poll: Economy Top Issue for Under 50s



Steve Hayward of Power Line posts this Gallup chart from Bloomberg. It shows economic issues have much more salience in 2024 than in 2020, especially with the young. 

Current data appears to show that more of those under age 50 choose the economy than any other issue. That was less true in 2020. People don't like it when their dollars buy less and less.

Understanding the political implications of these findings isn't rocket science. Nearly everyone buys groceries and and most buy fuel; prices of both are up sharply.

The Most Thorough Film Treatment of Dune

I haven't often admitted my youthful fascination with science fiction, but neither am I ashamed of it.  I read SF for many years, eventually amassing some 800 volumes, virtually all in paperback. Eventually I donated this collection to a university that maintains a special collection of SF.

The release of the second half of the new two part Dune film has been the occasion of several comparisons of the various treatments of Frank Herbert's weighty novel. Interestingly, most of these tend to omit a discussion of the TV miniseries treatments of Dune and of Children of Dune

I own these on DVD and recently began a rewatching of the TV versions. Filmed with British and European actors, these six 90 minute episodes go a long way to exploring the richness of the Herbert universe, the world of the Bene Gesserit, CHOAM, the Guild Navigators, the Great Houses of the Landsraad, and the Face Dancers. 

These two miniseries have the best interpretation of the Baron Harkonnen I've seen and some of the strongest women characters. In some ways, the two TV miniseries taken together constitute the most thorough film treatment of the Herbert "universe."

The spice must flow....

Update


This is what the snow level looks like today up home in Wyoming, close enough to 2 feet as makes no difference. Spring is slow in arriving this year.

We hope to be there in a month. If there isn't significant melting, I'm not sure doing so will be practical.

Saturday, April 6, 2024

Maintaining Order

President Gabrielle Starr of Pomona College just demonstrated the appropriate response to student protestors who invade university buildings. She gave them 10 minutes to leave, they refused, she had the police arrest and remove them, after which she suspended all of them, meaning one supposes they lost their student status (and tuition).

Such no-nonsense behavior is amazingly uncommon among college administrators. The last time I remember it happening was at San Francisco State University when President S. I. (Sam) Hayakawa did something similar. 

Students are entitled to their opinions and to expressing same. They are not entitled to interfere with the smooth operation of the campus they attend if, in their judgment, that campus isn't toeing the line they prefer. Being a college student is a privilege, not a right, and privileges can be forfeited when misbehavior occurs.

Saturday Snark









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

Friday, April 5, 2024

Friday Snark






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

He Chose … Poorly

Headline in the satiric Babylon Bee, posted at Instapundit.

Teen Thanks Parents For Supporting Him Through That Time Of Confusion But Can He Have His Testicles Back Now?

Thursday, April 4, 2024

Rove's Bias

As we get closer to the general election in early November, the legacy media are interviewing those deemed political experts for their views of who is doing what, and whether what they're doing works. This happens every four years and is, in itself, no bad thing.

Today's Lucianne.com has two different comments from Karl Rove about what Trump is doing "wrong" in his campaign (here and here). Rove is knowledgeable about GOP politics and basically ran Bush II's two successful campaigns. 

Unfortunately, Bushies don't like Donald Trump even a little, and dump on him every chance they get. So in spite of Rove's unquestioned expertise, it is likely his dislike of DJT will cause him to see "problems" and "missteps" whether or not they actually exist.

For a guy who lost the last election and is under indictment by several of the country's Democrat prosecutors, Trump is doing darned well. He has the GOP nomination sewed up, and is ahead in the polls looking toward November. 

Reporters who favor Democrats (that's most of them) tend to seek out Rove because he can be counted on to pan Trump. You may want to discount Rove's criticisms of Trump's campaign. 

Picking an Analogy

When trying to understand current events, one often looks for historical periods which appear to be analogs of what’s happening now. Writing at the New York Post, two scholars conclude Biden sees current problems in Gaza as an analog of the end of World War I, whereas Netanyahu sees the situation like the end of World War II.

Spoiler: they believe WW I was ended badly, and resulted in WW II which ended well. Their analysis is interesting and worth your time to read. Hat tip to RealClearWorld for the link.

Wednesday, April 3, 2024

More on Migration

I enjoy numbers guy Nate Silver's column slyly entitled Silver Bulletin (vampires beware). Today he has 2022 Census data about Domestic In- and Out-Migration, plus International In-Migration for each of the 50 states.

He writes today to debunk an NBC News story claiming many were leaving Florida. Silver writes those leaving FL are relatively few. You'll remember I wrote about this two days ago.

----------

What I found particularly interesting in his column is that my adopted home state of Wyoming ranks second in both In-Migration and Out-Migration. Lots of Americans moving there, lots leaving, and few international migrants showing up.

I'll bet most of those leaving are young people seeking career employment. If you don't plan to make your life in agriculture, mining, government service, or hospitality, you'll probably go elsewhere for career employment. There isn't a lot of high tech or manufacturing in WY and there's no major airport in the entire state. All our long flights are out of Denver or Salt Lake City.

Probably many of those arriving in WY are retirees, like the DrsC, and a fair percentage of those, like us, don't winter there. In our little winter town on the NV-AZ border, it's a rare trip to the store or post office when we don't see other WY license plates. 

There are also plenty from ID, UT, MT, the Dakotas and western Canada. Even a few down from AK. Living where the weather is nice year-round is a luxury affordable to many retirees, at the cost of moving one's base of operations twice a year.

Tuesday, April 2, 2024

It's a Choice

The Israelis were and are prosecuting a war they did not start and did not seek. In wars, people get killed and maimed. Combatants die, to be sure, but also civilians who are in harm's way. 

If war comes to your neighborhood in Gaza, you're likely to be in harm's way. Today's episode in the Gaza/Hamas war is an Israeli bombing in which seven NGO aid workers were killed. 

It wasn't their neighborhood, they either came to or remained in a war zone voluntarily, to do their job. Getting killed was a risk they chose to take, and they lost their bet with fate. 

You may view them as heroes, fools, or something else - it's your choice. I have chosen not to view them as martyrs. 

Technology and Population Shifts

We've known how to heat a dwelling for thousands of years. You build a fire, plus trap inside the heat generated by humans and animals dwelling in the building. In some settings you let sun shine in a south or west facing window. All of this is relatively low tech and enables humans to live in cold places.

Knowing how to cool a building in a hot climate is harder. There are a few low tech ways that somewhat work, and have been used for a long time. 

The modern addition of air conditioning began in earnest about a century ago, mostly in movie theaters. Since World War II it has fostered the movement of population south to places like Arizona and Florida. 

What got me thinking about AC was a comment by RealClearPolitics' Sean Trend who writes in the context of population shifts:

Probably the best we can say is that these numbers suggest continued migration from North to South, which is in many ways the story of American demographics for the past 80 years.

Air conditioning has made summertime life in warm climates bearable while their winters always were pleasant. People complain about global warming, but we know how to deal with that, you chill your homes, offices, and autos using AC.

Monday, April 1, 2024

Executive Diversity Debunked

It is important to redo studies which find counterintuitive results. A pair of Accounting profs have redone the McKinsey studies that seemed to find a positive relationship between executive racial diversity and positive outcomes in firms. See their abstract.

In a series of very influential studies, McKinsey (2015; 2018; 2020; 2023) reports finding statistically significant positive relations between the industry-adjusted earnings before interest and taxes margins of global McKinsey-chosen sets of large public firms and the racial/ethnic diversity of their executives. 

However, when we revisit McKinsey’s tests using data for firms in the publicly observable S&P 500® as of 12/31/2019, we do not find statistically significant relations between McKinsey’s inverse normalized Herfindahl-Hirschman measures of executive racial/ethnic diversity at mid-2020 and either industry-adjusted earnings before interest and taxes margin or industry-adjusted sales growth, gross margin, return on assets, return on equity, and total shareholder return over the prior five years 2015–2019. (emphasis added)

Combined with the erroneous reverse-causality nature of McKinsey’s tests, our inability to quasi-replicate their results suggests that despite the imprimatur given to McKinsey’s studies, they should not be relied on to support the view that US publicly traded firms can expect to deliver improved financial performance if they increase the racial/ethnic diversity of their executives.

This raises the possibility that some at McKinsey selected a desired outcome and then tweaked the data or selected tests to produce those desired results. Hat tip to John Tierney posting at Instapundit for the link.

Editorial Note

 At COTTonLINE we do not engage in April 1 high jinks or tomfoolery. Anything not obviously labeled "snark," "irony"  or "humor" will be understood to be serious.

Do Some Leave Florida?

Apparently there is a kerfuffle about people leaving Florida in large numbers. Not, mind you, numbers larger than those moving there, but largish nevertheless. 

Florida is lovely in the winter, when it's warm and everywhere north is blizzard-beset and nasty. Summer there is another matter entirely.

The DrsC have been in FL many times, both touring and to board cruise ships along the Atlantic coast. Summers there are a mixed blessing. It's hot and humid and buggy, and there are the crocs, gators and snakes. 

There are no mountains, it varies from flat to gently rolling. Its thunderstorms are legendary and the accompanying rain torrential. The architecture tends to be bland and our friends who live there say it's crowded in winter. Hurricanes are a real threat too.

On the plus side, it's got no state income tax, a great governor, some of the world's best theme parks, and cruises starting within an easy morning's drive. Unlike California's chilly Pacific, the ocean alongside Florida is bathwater warm. 

I remember once as an experiment wading a short distance into the ocean in the Keys, till the water was around my knees. I closed my eyes and honestly couldn't feel where the water ended and the air began - the water was that warm, and the air that humid.

When we first visited FL in the mid 70s we didn't like it a bit. More recently we've liked FL but living there can't compare to our snowbird routine where we summer in the Rockies and winter in the Mojave. 

Our strong preference is for mountains, low humidity and fewer bugs. That requires moving twice a year, and duplicates of much of our stuff - somewhat a hassle, but worth it so far.

Conclusion I draw: Some who move to Florida will not like the tradeoffs, many will. I suspect it depends on (a) what you're used to and (b) what you like and dislike.

Sunday, March 31, 2024

A Question Answered

John Hinderaker of Power Line writes a longish column about polling showing Americans don't favor DEI programs in businesses. They also believe such programs make the firms' offerings worse.

Hinderaker concludes with this question:

Why do companies tie themselves up in knots pursuing pointless (at best) DEI goals, when the whole enterprise is unpopular, and customers are likely to think they are making their companies worse, not better?

I believe Glenn Reynolds, aka Instapundit, has already answered this question. The people at the top of large companies socialize together and their elite colleges have sold them the DEI bill of goods. 

Their peer group reinforces members who implement DEI activities hence they do so even when it injures the firms they lead because it enhances their personal esteem within their cohort. Plus, as they are wealthy, their ox isn't being gored by DEI-fostered prejudices.

Happy Easter

Have a Happy Easter, friends. It is the second most celebrated Christian holy day, and arguably should be the most celebrated.

Peculiarly, the date Easter happens depends on a conjunction between the calendar and the phases of the moon, so it wanders around between March and April. Why? Tradition, of course. 

The actual calendar date could be calculated but would then not fall on a Sunday every year, Christmas does not. Easter falling on Sunday is deemed essential, it appears.

Anyway, Easter is Christianity’s spring celebration, just as Christmas is its winter festival. This year Easter falls on the last day of the third month; tonight at midnight one quarter of 2024 will be in the history books.

Saturday, March 30, 2024

The Most Malign Influence

Power Line's John Hinderaker isn't ambivalent about teachers unions, see his opinion thereof.

In America, teachers’ unions are the most malign influence on our public life, and on our children. And they aren’t any better in Great Britain.

His column goes on to document the anti-Semitic, anti-Zionist, pro-Hamas stance taken by "the UK's largest teaching union" which has sought to "globalize the intifada." Hinderaker concludes that policy, if implemented,  would make "it impossible for Jews to live safely anywhere.

COTTonLINE agrees teachers (and professors) unions are a malign influence and should not be lawful. Most teachers and professors are civil servants, are therefore sufficiently sheltered by those statutes, and consequently do not need union protection.

Saturday Snark
















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

Friday, March 29, 2024

Friday Snark






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