Saturday, December 31, 2016

And As Quickly As He Arrived...

My son took off this afternoon.  He's heading back north to Washington, and needs to get over the mountains into Oregon before the snow falls.

It was good seeing him, if only for a short time.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Cool Currency

Here are some early Communist Chinese notes, before they started putting Mao on everything.  I have no idea what the denominations are, I just liked the pictures on them.  Also, look how small they are, even smaller than Monopoly money:

click to enlarge (no pun intended)

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

The Best Christmas Present

I had an inkling my hopefully-soon-to-be-a-corporal son was going to show up when he "suggested" I not take a trip to Reno.  Then he texted me that a friend of his was going to bring my present by.

A couple hours ago they both showed up on my doorstep.  What a great day :-)

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

UC Santa Cruz Destroying Books

Written by a math professor for the San Jose Mercury News:
Over the summer, workmen removed most of the remaining books from
our Science and Engineering Library at the University of California at Santa Cruz. Roughly 80,000 books, worth between $2-$6 million were destroyed or shipped off campus to distant storage facilities.

The act was taken with virtually no faculty input.

In 1990, when I arrived to work at UCSC, I took pride in our Science Library.

By 2000 new journals were no longer displayed.

By 2010 the journal room was gone, turned into a large study. We could no longer browse new journals.

After journals had been vanquished, the next enemy was clear: books.

At the beginning of this Fall quarter I entered the library. No books on the first floor. I walked up to the second floor, where the math and physics collection used to be. Nothing. No books.

Space. Lots of space. Students scattered around on their devices. Some eating. Some drinking...

In shock, I went down to talk to a librarian. “What happened to all the books? I’d heard some were left.”

He gave me a wan smile. “They’re in the basement.”

Down in the basement about half the original collection of math and physics books huddled dejectedly in a corner, valiant survivors.

I’ve since found that the phenomenon of shrinking and destroying university research libraries is international. But as we like to say here at UCSC, we are at the vanguard.

Our head librarian prefers the word “de-duplicate” to “destroy”, “remove” or “shred”.

The rationale behind de-duplification? Space. Empty study space with desks for the flood of 600 additional students UC Santa Cruz was pressured to admit this Fall.

How did the library staff decide what books to de-duplicate? Data, analytics, the ubiquitous algorithm, devoid of a human element. If a book had not been touched, according to library data, in the last five years, then it went on their chopping list.
The story has a sad ending, of course,  but the apres-story in the comments begins thusly:
The UC is called a "system" because it includes all nine campuses and books can be sourced from any campus. If you need an arcane publication on the germination of the golf ball cactus or a dissertation on gerbil husbandry, you order a book from the UC Davis library. For obscure dental or medical topics you order from UCSF. For legal topics you order a book from UCLA. As long as UC Santa Cruz didn't toss out their books on Feminism, Transgenderism, Marxism, Cannabis, and Wicka, they should have plenty of resources to remain relevant in their areas of expertise.
Ouch!  I guess I'm not the only person who thinks UC Santa Cruz beclowns itself on a regular basis.

The Value of a College Education

I've been quite consistent with my belief that not everyone needs a college education.  I've stated that on this blog many times.  And I know that Gates, Jobs, Zuckerberg, et al., didn't finish college.

I've also said that there's a lot of foolishness at our universities nowadays, from far-left social justice warriors to excessive fees to silly classes that don't lend themselves to intellect.

This, however, is a bit puerile:
In a Facebook post, he announced that he was dropping out, despite having earned a 4.0 grade point average. He said that he would start his own business and learn more from that experience than anything he could hope to achieve at Kansas State or any college. He ran a photo of himself giving the finger to Kansas State, although he's since said he really wants to be doing that to all of higher education.

Many Inside Higher Ed readers will likely find his comments insulting and ill informed, and some faculty members and students at K-State have pointed out that he wrote some things that are factually questionable. But Willson is attracting many fans online as his Facebook post has gone viral -- and trashing course requirements and general education seems to be a big part of Willson's appeal.

"YOU ARE BEING SCAMMED," Willson wrote on Facebook. (The wording, grammar and capitalization quoted here and later in this story are verbatim from Willson's and others' social media posts.) "You may not see it today or tomorrow, but you will see it some day. Heck you may have already seen it if you've been through college. You are being put thousands into debt to learn things you will never even use. Wasting 4 years of your life to be stuck at a paycheck that grows slower than the rate of inflation. Paying $200 for a $6 textbook. Being taught by teacher's who have never done what they're teaching. Average income has increased 5x over the last 40 years while cost of college has increased 18x. You're spending thousands of dollars to learn information you won't ever even use just to get a piece of paper."

He added: "Colleges are REQUIRING people to spend money taking gen. ed. courses to learn about the quadratic formula (and other shit they will never use) when they could be giving classes on MARRIAGE and HOW TO DO YOUR TAXES."
A few comments.

  • If you're learning the quadratic formula in college, instead of in 9th grade, something's wrong.
  • What do you expect a college to teach you about marriage, forchrissakes?
  • You're in college and can't figure out how to fill out a tax form?  How do you think all those non-college people do it?
Others have noted that Willson's criticism of Kansas State for not offering the courses he wants (on marriage and taxes) is wrong. Kansas State has a School of Family Studies and Human Services with numerous courses on marriage and personal finance.
General ed can be valuable if it isn't watered down with tripe.  I don't know about Kansas State's general ed requirements, but you can get a good education anywhere if you want to.  The two most successful friends I have both graduated from state schools with degrees in engineering--financially and in most other ways, they're doing just fine, and they probably wouldn't have been so successful without that engineering education or those degrees.

Anyway, I hope the kid is successful in business.  Doesn't make him any less of an arrogant douche, though.

Sunday, December 25, 2016


I got to talk to my son on the phone today.

I got some nice presents.

I get to spend time with family.

Is it any wonder it's my favorite holiday?

I hope you're enjoying yours as much as I have, and that yours is as peaceful as mine has been.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Something About Motes and Beams

UC Berkeley’s ‘income inequality’ critics earn in top 2%
Scholars from the University of California at Berkeley have played a pivotal role in making income inequality a major political issue. But while they decry the inequities of the American capitalist system, Berkeley professors are near the top of a very lopsided income distribution prevailing at the nation’s leading public university...

Social science researchers often measure income inequality with the Gini Coefficient – a calculated value that can range between zero and one. The higher the Gini Coefficient, the more unequal the country, municipality or community. If everyone in a population has exactly the same income, that group’s Gini Coefficient is zero.  By contrast, if one individual receives all of a community’s income (and everyone else receives nothing), the Gini Coefficient is 1...

Public employee compensation data allows us to measure income inequality on campus. The State Controller’s Public Pay database contains salaries for all UC employees, indicating which campus each employee is on. The Gini coefficient for the 35,000 UC Berkeley employees in the data set is 0.6600 – higher than that of Haiti...

High compensation for tenured faculty does not necessarily come with a heavy teaching workload. Instead, most of the teaching burden appears to fall on junior faculty and teaching assistants.
It must be good to be a member of the nomenklatura.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Cool Currency

I'm not the biggest fan of the red color on this note from Honduras, but it's hard not to like the historical images:

click to enlarge

Update, 12/27/16: If you zoom in on the bottom right of the reverse, you'll see where this particular note was made.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Know What I'm Doing Tonight?

I'm wrapping Christmas presents!

I didn't sleep much last night, so I'm too tired to get any value out of studying the linear algebra course I finished 4 years ago.  Did I mention that my end-of-masters-program cumulative final exam, covering 6 of the courses I'll have taken over the course of 5 years, is this spring?  I've got a lot to study for--and I have to do it while taking my 10th and final course this spring!  So yeah, I've got a lot of studying to do, and I'm too tired to do any of it tonight.  Let's see if I can wrap Christmas presents without getting a papercut.

Most of my presents will go in gift bags, so that will make my task easier!  Then I can watch a little tv and be out like a light shortly thereafter.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Leftie Definition of "Fascist"

Perhaps our friends on the left will take this column to heart:
Just because you disagree with someone, it doesn’t make them a ‘fascist’
Or a racist. Or sexist. Or a homophobe. Or any other name you lefties feel like calling anyone who dares disagree with you on anything, including which restrooms people should use.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016


I was all for feminism when it was focused on legal equality between the sexes.  Then again, I was all for racial civil rights when the focus was on removing racial barriers, not on categorizing everyone by race.  That makes me old fashioned in today's environment.

I agree with Christina Hoff Sommers:
Perhaps the women's movement is too elitist and out of touch with ordinary citizens, especially working-class women. That seems right, but I would go one step further. Today's feminism is not merely out of touch with everyday Americans; it's out of touch with reality. To survive, it's going to have to come back to planet Earth.

First of all, it's time to stop calling the United States a patriarchy. A patriarchy is a system where men hold the power and women do not. Women do hold power in the United States — they lead major universities and giant corporations, write influential books, serve as state and federal judges and even manage winning presidential campaigns. American women, especially college-educated women, are the freest and most self-determining in human history. Why pretend otherwise?
Feminism is drowning in myth-information. Advocates never tire of telling us that women are cheated out of nearly a quarter of their salary; that one in four college women is sexually assaulted, or that women are facing an epidemic of online abuse and violence.

Such claims are hugely distorted, but they have been repeated so often that they have taken on the aura of truth. Workplace discrimination, sexual assault and online threats are genuine problems, but to solve them women need sober analysis, not hype and spin. Exaggerated claims and crying wolf discredit good causes and send scarce resources in the wrong direction.

Today's women's movement also needs to reckon with the fact that men struggle just as much as women. 
If that isn't enough of a start for you, nothing is!

Monday, December 19, 2016

You're Oppressing Me By Claiming To Be More Oppressed

What a circular firing squad!  I'll bet it would have been fun to be there, snacking on popcorn and enjoying the festivities:
‘Students of color’ conference at University of California reportedly dissolves into a fight over who is most oppressed...

There is a basic principle at work here that is invisible only to leftists who deny the reality of human nature. If oppression is the currency of social advantage, there will never be enough oppression to go around.
It was described as an "oppression Olympics" and a "safe space gone wrong".

I resent having to pay one dime for these snowflakes and the supposed education they're getting.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

There Are None So Blind As Those Who Will Not See

This morning I was lying in bed partaking in one of my Sunday morning rituals, that being going to a news site app on my phone and reading BBC, CNN, Fox News, and USAToday.  3:1 liberal but it's nice to get different views, even if I disagree with them.

I came across this story on BBC:
Why you need sackfuls of banknotes to shop in Venezuela

Last week Venezuela announced it would withdraw its highest-denomination banknote from circulation. Long queues formed outside banks as people scrambled to change theirs before they became redundant. The withdrawal of the 100-bolivar note has now been delayed until the start of January, but ordinary people must still grapple with spiralling (sic) prices and increasingly worthless notes, as Gideon Long reports...

The losers are ordinary Venezuelans, whose salaries are losing value by the minute, and who have to queue for hours to buy basic foodstuffs that they can scarcely afford.

All this in an oil-rich country whose citizens were once famous for their international shopping sprees. It doesn't add up.
It used to be that Venezuela was an up-and-coming, oil-rich country with a strong middle class.  Next door Colombia was a hell-hole of FARC rebels and the Medellin drug cartel.  In the last 25 years, though, both countries have done a complete 180.  Colombia is relatively peaceful and prosperous while Venezuela continues to devolve into long lines, empty stores, and massive inflation.

Gideon Long says it doesn't add up, but Gideon Long is blind only because he will not see.  I read his entire article, and then had my browser search for the word "socialist" or "socialism" in the article.  There wasn't a single use of either word.

That is why it "doesn't add up" for Gideon Long.  That is why the BBC is considered left-leaning.

Update:  Let's not forget the information in this post from last summer.

Different Ways of Looking at the World

I work with a person who once told me a couple years ago when we were talking about society and politics and life, "If you're not angry, you're not paying attention."

That remark really bothered me.  I certainly didn't like the negativity it espoused, and I knew I didn't like the fact that it essentially forbade people to be happy, but I didn't have a pithy, yet meaningful, response.

Fast forward to late last night, when I came across this picture on Facebook and took a screenshot of it:
click to enlarge
Pithy and meaningful enough for me.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Eventually, Taxpayers Will Get Fed Up With Funding This Kind of Crap

The whole idea behind public universities is that they create some sort of societal good that is rightly funded by the taxpayers.  If you can find any societal good in this course, well...
The University of Wisconsin is offering a course this spring on the “Problem of Whiteness,” which is taught by a radical assistant professor who believes America is a terrorist state.

The course will cover institutional racism and “what it means to be #woke"...

“Have you ever wondered what it really means to be white?” the course description states. “If you’re like most people, the answer is probably ‘no.’ But here is your chance!”

“In Frantz Fanon’s famous White Skin Black Mask (1952), his chapter ‘Look, a Negro!’ interrogated the meaning and experience of coming to know oneself as Black under the constant scrutiny of the white gaze,” the course description continues. “It is an experience concomitant with W.E.B. Du Bois’s observation that under systemic racism, even well-meaning whites are constantly asking, in one way or another, ‘what is it like to be a problem?’ But, Like Richard Wright’s quote above, philosopher George Yancy’s book, Look, a White! (2010), turns the question around, and rightly returns ‘the problem of whiteness’ to white people. After all, since white supremacy was created by white people, is it not white folks who have the greatest responsibility to eradicate it? Our class begins here.”

The course is part of “Critical Whiteness Studies,” and will attempt to offer solutions to the “problem of whiteness.”
I'm old enough to remember when classifying an entire group of people by their skin color, and calling them a "problem", was considered racist.

Ties in nicely with this post.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Cool Currency

In previous posts I've talked about inflationary currency; here's a note I have showing Brazil's inflation--to combat it they just lopped off 3 zeroes and counterstamped the note.  Here's one of Brazil's current notes:

click to enlarge

No current or former political leader, and the symbolism is elegant.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

What College Freshmen Need To Know

Instead of teaching freshmen how to walk on eggshells around each other, and instead of teaching them to segregate themselves by race, gender, sexuality, etc., maybe schools should take this advice:
What new freshmen truly need is guidance on how to engage in robust debate. They should be taught something about constitutionally protected free speech under the First Amendment. They need to be acquainted with the Board of Regents statement on academic freedom and freedom of expression.

Above all, they need to know how reasonable, educated people in a university setting converse and interact in a civilized way.

UW’s obsession with “bias” and “microaggressions” won’t help students learn that. Instead, it encourages a divisive mindset that encourages students to complain about each other when they should be learning how to reason with each other.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016


An honest person will admit that if a school offered a course on resistance to Obama, it would have been considered racist:
This winter, students at Oregon State University will have the opportunity to take a new class that promises to teach them about how African Americans have historically resisted the “white supremacy."

The class, titled “African American Resistance in the Era of Donald Trump,” will be taught by Dr. Dwaine Plaza, a professor of sociology and current Chair of the Sociology Program in the School of Public Policy...

In a statement to Campus Reform, Plaza asserted that “the class emerged after the November 8 election,” because “In my opinion we are about to step back into the 1960s when whiteness was currency and people of color needed to be in the shadows struggling for whatever trickles down to us.”

Monday, December 12, 2016

Limiting Free Speech Means Shutting Up Conservatives

I'm not old enough to remember the "free speech movement" of the 60s, but I was taught by people who lived through it.  I was taught to cherish free speech--and the rest of the Bill of Rights--as evidence of the goodness of America's body politic.  We are a nation where everyone has a right to speak up, to have a say.

So idealistic.

The epicenter of the free speech movement was America's universities, led by UC Berkeley.  Nowadays, it's our universities that are at the forefront of stifling free speech.  They designate Orwellian "free speech zones", craft Orwellian "speech codes", refuse to allow conservative speakers on campus, cut funding for conservative student organizations.  They are climates where the presumption is that everyone is liberal, and anyone who isn't is a, well, pick your favorite -ist (racist, sexist, etc.).

It's gotten this bad:
A group of Washington State University professors have decried “discourses of free speech” in an open letter to the campus community, suggesting such defenses of the First Amendment hurt “marginalized students"...

The scholars go on to suggest more must be done to crack down on what they consider hate speech and acts, telling the campus community that the defense of freedom of speech and freedom of expression is harmful...
If, only 20 years ago (that's during Bill Clinton's presidency), you predicted that, you'd have been laughed out of the room.  It was inconceivable then.

A recent report from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education reveals:
Major findings from Spotlight on Speech Codes 2017 include:
  • 39.6 percent of surveyed institutions maintain severely restrictive, red light speech codes—a nearly 10 percentage point drop from last year’s 49.3 percent.
  • Of the 449 schools surveyed, 27 received FIRE’s highest, green light rating for free speech. This number is up from 22 schools as of last year’s report.
  • Twenty schools or faculty bodies in FIRE’s Spotlight database adopted statements in support of free speech modeled after the one adopted by the University of Chicago in January 2015...
As the report details, however, there are still serious threats to free speech on campus:
  • 237 schools surveyed received a yellow light rating (52.8%). Yellow light policies restrict narrower categories of speech than red light policies do, or are vaguely worded in a way that could too easily be used to suppress protected speech, and are unconstitutional at public universities.
  • Of the institutions surveyed for this report, roughly 1 in 10 have “free speech zone” policies—policies limiting student demonstrations and other expressive activities to small and/or out-of-the-way areas on campus.
  • Hundreds of colleges have implemented bias reporting systems to solicit reports of bias on campus, which most universities explicitly define to encompass speech protected by the First Amendment. FIRE will release detailed metrics on these systems in the coming days.
You never hear of liberal viewpoints being  suppressed, only conservatives.  And schools are very accepting of all students, as long as they aren't conservative:
People who study patterns of discrimination talk about behaviors like “othering,” about marginalization, and about microaggressions. But in my experience, these behaviors are prominent in the world of academia, and they’re often aimed at conservative or libertarian students and faculty who depart from whatever the current left-leaning orthodoxy is.

When professors or administrators act as if Trump and his supporters are uniquely evil, as opposed to simply one political coalition, they are engaging in “othering.” The message is that Trump — and, more significantly, his supporters on campus — aren’t really members of the community in good standing. They’re a dangerous “other” who must be closely watched, carefully scrutinized, thoroughly stigmatized, and maybe shunned.
One wonders how long taxpayers will continue to fork over billions to fund such un-American institutions.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

Liberals like to pretend that they're against voter ID laws because they think someone, somewhere, might be disenfranchised.  Since you can't do much of anything in the country without ID, there can't be that many people who would truly be disenfranchised.  Liberals, if you want to show that you truly are the compassionate folks you claim to be, seek these people out and help them get IDs.  And in California, which is run lock, stock, and barrel by liberals, lobby to have the state issue free IDs to citizens--once people have proven they are who they say they are, of course.

But we all know liberals don't want voter ID laws because--and I truly believe this--liberals know they won't win without voter fraud.

So when libs whine that the election was rigged (it probably was, but Clinton was such a bad candidate that she couldn't win an election rigged in her favor), and Jill Stein, et al., demand recounts, they can't really get upset when the people respond to their concerns:
Be careful what you wish for … you just might get it. Jill Stein didn’t get the recount she wanted in Michigan, but she did get the state to take vote-integrity issues seriously. Meeting in its lame-duck session, the state House of Representatives passed a tough voter-ID bill that includes $3 million for funding of free state identification and birth certificates after over 18,000 voters cast ballots without identification in the presidential election...

Current law requires a photo ID too, but also allows for voters to sign an affidavit under oath that attests to their identity and eligibility. The House might have had ample reason to wonder about abuse under that system when looking at the distribution of the practice. The Detroit News’ Jonathan Oostling reports that almost half of all such votes took place in heavily Democratic Wayne County, and almost 6,000 in the city of Detroit alone. That seems oddly disproportional, given that Wayne County accounted for just 16% of the state’s total.
If you complain about bad elections, you should support voter ID laws.

The Army-Navy Game Starts In A Little While

Will this (finally) be the year?

Not according to this site.  But it's still 2016, the year of Brexit and Donald Trump.  Let's hear it for the underdog!

Will unexpected victory come in 3's?

Update:  Army leads 14-0 at the half, and has more first downs in the game than Navy has total plays.  This is not the time to get cocky.  Just keep it up.  There are 30 more minutes in this game.

Update #2:  Army went down 17-14 but retook the lead with 6 minutes left, going home with a 21-17 victory!

Friday, December 09, 2016

Cool Currency

In other posts I've shown these pictures of inflationary currency I have from Zimbabwe, so let's look at a different Z, shall we?  How about Zambia:

click to enlarge

If the colors aren't beautiful enough for you, how about the images?

Thursday, December 08, 2016

A Vicious Rumor

It's no secret among those that know me that my favorite dessert is Chocolate Ganache Torte from Trader Joe's. Well, there's a rumor going around my school--started by a student who sought out a CGT--that Trader Joe's is discontinuing this dessert (which is found in the freezer section).

I will shortly be drafting an email to TJ's to confirm or deny this rumor.  Stay tuned.

Update, 12/14/16:  TRADER JOE'S ADMITS THEIR TREACHERY! Today I received an email confirming the rumor above.

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

A Better Understanding

I've been able to calculate the determinant of a matrix forever.  If I didn't learn before my first linear algebra course in 1985, then I learned then.  When I took linear algebra in my master's program, there might have been spent 2 minutes on the subject because it's assumed a student at this level would know how to calculate a determinant.

I remember calculating eigenvalues and eigenvectors back in 1985, and I calculated them again 4 years ago when I took linear algebra.  I can calculate eigenvalues and eigenvectors till the cows come home.

Until today I didn't understand what a determinant "was", or what eigenvalues and eigenvectors "were".  I knew I didn't understand, I assumed there had to be some physical representation for them, I wanted to understand.  But I never got satisfactory answers.

Yesterday a former student--who is majoring in math!--dropped by school to visit.  He saw that under our new standards, we're covering matrix operations in pre-calculus in a lot more depth than we did under the standards in place when he was a student.  We got to talking about what we cover, and I mentioned that I still didn't know what a determinant really "was". 

He pointed me to a YouTube video he found.  I watched it this morning.  Within the first 7 minutes I had a good, big picture understanding of what a determinant is/does.  7 minutes.

Then I looked at the related videos in the column on the right.  There, near the top, was one on eigenvalues and eigenvectors.  Less than 10 minutes later I had the understanding that had up until today had eluded me. 

I like learning :)

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

You've Got To Be Kidding Me

I remember having hot chocolate and cookies brought into the barracks during finals week, but that's about it.  I certainly don't remember anything like this at West Point, thankfully:
A prestigious military school is providing coloring books for cadets to deal with stress.
The Virginia Military Institute, the first state-sponsored military college in the country founded in 1839, offers a “stress busters” program to provide students with yoga classes to “unwind and relax"...

“Stress Busters is held on Reading Day of each semester,” the school said. “This is an opportunity for cadets to unwind and relax before studying for finals. This event often includes stress reduction activities such as yoga, therapy dogs, coloring book stations, card/game stations, and grab-and-go snacks to take with you on your way to study!”
At least one person gets it:
“VMI once took America’s youth and prepared them for duty and the harsh realities of war,” a VMI alumnus and veteran told the Washington Free Beacon. “Now, for $20k a year, VMI will turn your teenagers back into children.”

Monday, December 05, 2016

It's Better Than Nothing, I Guess

It's not the Rose Bowl, or the BCS Championship Game, or anything like that, but for the first time in forever, Army is going to a bowl game:
Motivation level: Army has been to only one bowl in the last 20 years, so the Black Knights should be fired up to put an exclamation point on what has been a terrific season.
And for the opposition:
Best moment: Facing the second-rated defense in the nation at the time, Jeffrey Wilson rushed for 160 yards and three touchdowns and North Texas beat Army 35-18 on a rainy field. It was the Mean Green’s first victory over Army in five tries.
They've already beaten us this year. Great.

Going into the Navy game, Army is 6-5.

Update, 12/14/16:  Going into the bowl game, Army is 7-5 :-)

Update, 12/28/16:  Coming out of the bowl game, Army is 8-5!!!  Good season :-)

Sunday, December 04, 2016


When I got to the mall about 12:30 this afternoon, I had no difficulty finding a parking spot.  I'm not saying there were tumbleweeds blowing by, but I didn't have to drive all over the place to find a spot.  There were many to be had.

Is anyone else seeing the same thing?  I thought it odd because I've heard that consumer confidence is way up this season--thank you, President-elect Trump  :-) 

Saturday, December 03, 2016

The Top And The Bottom

The 5 highest paying college majors

Video: 10 College Majors That Earn the Least

An Astounding Lack of Self-Awareness

I marvel that our friends on the left, nearly a month after the election, can still not be aware of the fact that their elitism, their bulldozing, and their disdain and hatred for those of us on the right, hasn't worked for them in years.  This author is so "enbubbled" that he not only misdiagnoses the Democrats' problem, but his so-called solution only works in favor of Republicans.  To believe, as he does, that the Democrats haven't been playing dirty and thus need to start (do I need to run through the list of dirty plays, starting with Obama's weaponization of the federal bureaucracy, specifically the EPA and IRS, to a degree that would cause even Richard Nixon to blush), is to be in such denial of today's reality that one wonders about his mental state:
The emerging Trump administration is a frightening mixture of free-market fundamentalists and C-list conspiracy theorists. This motley crew may well run headlong into political disaster. But Democrats should not assume that the Trump administration's incompetence will automatically result in a Democratic wave in 2018. Remember, Democrats are in their weakest position in national and state government since before the Great Depression.

So what should Democrats do? Take a page from the GOP playbook and obstruct everything.

One of the most galling things about the complete Republican takeover of American government that we witnessed last month is the way it rewarded the party's destructive behavior during the Obama years. Not only did voters never punish Republican leaders for pouring sand into the gas tank of representative democracy, they granted them victories in nearly every contested House and Senate race, proving incontrovertibly that voters simply do not care about or understand the ways that Republican leadership subverted longstanding norms of parliamentary procedure.

In perhaps the most brazen violation of democratic norms in living memory, the Republicans just stole the colossally important swing seat on the Supreme Court by obliterating precedent and refusing even to hold hearings for Merrick Garland. If Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer cannot continue their heroic work into their late 80s, the Democrats may be facing a hostile Supreme Court until most of Bernie Sanders' young voters are having their midlife crises.

But the Senate's Great Merrick Garland Heist is a symptom rather than the cause of our dysfunction. The towering mountaintop snowcap from which the swollen river of hateful, paralyzing, and destructive nihilism flows is the House GOP. The face of America's political torment is the smug visage of Utah's Jason Chaffetz, a man who epitomizes everything that is wrong with our politics, and who the Democrats have no realistic chance of ever unseating. Secure behind their ingenious 2010 gerrymandering plan, and the concentration of Democratic voters in big cities, it was Chaffetz and his minions who turned the tragedy of Benghazi into the 21st century's Scopes trial, and who decided to use the legislature's oversight responsibilities to hold a series of theatrical hearings about Libya rather than, say, holding President Obama accountable for his (morally outrageous and possibly illegal) policy of perpetual drone warfare.
Perhaps the author doesn't realize that tens of millions of us across this country don't want what he wants. Perhaps he doesn't realize that it was the Democratic congressional stranglehold on the Congress from 2007-2011, along with President Obama from January 2009 to January 2011, that was so hideous, so brazen in its actions, so un-American in its outlook, that the American people returned Republicans to power in the House of Representatives after only 4 years of Nancy Pelosi's so-called leadership, and two years later returned Republicans to power in the Senate, and last month gave Republicans control of more offices and legislatures than that party has had in a century.  Perhaps he doesn't realize that the American public does care about and understand their government, and they don't like what the Democrats in general, and President Obama in particular, have done with it.

Perhaps the Democrats should have considered, while they were using the federal bureaucracy to attack their political opponents, that the federal bureaucracy would not always be in their hands.  And they should pray to the God that so many of them refuse to believe in that the Republicans don't return the favor, they should pray that a President Trump doesn't do to them what they hoped a President Clinton would do to Republicans.

After losing so handily, as the Democrats have, you might expect reasonable people to reassess what they've been doing.  You might think they would be a bit more reflective.  Doubling down on the hatred of the last 8 years--and let's be honest, that's what the author above is recommending--is not a recipe for his party's success.  The American public--outside of coastal urban enclaves--has shown no stomach for what he is suggesting.

Believing that as I do, I hope the Democrats follow that author's advice.  One rule about holes is:  when you're in a hole, stop digging.  A second rule about holes is:  when your opponent is in a hole, give him the nicest, biggest shovel you can find.  Take that author's shovel of hatred, Democrats.  Please take it.  I implore you.

Cool Currency

In this post from over a week ago I threw out the suggestion that maybe I could post pictures of some of the beautiful coins and currency I have, in part to show how money can be functional as well as beautiful (I think American money is quite ugly).

For those who think I'm asking to be robbed by doing this, I keep my collection in a secure, secured location.  And while I've been collecting since my first trip to Europe in 1974, most of what I have couldn't be sold for much--it means much more to me than it's worth.

Anyway, here's a note from South Africa that my nana brought back for me after her visit to see some relatives there in the 1970s (the quarter is for size reference):

Beautiful, isn't it?

Friday, December 02, 2016

What An Ideologue Regrets

Smart people knew 8 years ago that this was a foolish move, but hey, welcome to the party, Mr. Lundestad:
Awarding the Nobel Peace Prize to President Barack Obama in 2009 was an experiment to encourage the newly elected Democrat to follow through on his lofty promises, according to at least one former member of the Nobel committee. But apparently, that was a failed experiment.

A regretful Geir Lundestad, onetime secretary of the Nobel committee, told the Associated Press that he hoped the award would strengthen Obama. But it didn’t, according to the group, despite the White House’s belief that the president “lived up to the standard that he has set for himself” regarding the prize.

Thursday, December 01, 2016

McDonald's In The News

I can't remember the last time I ate at McDonald's.  Or Burger King.  Or Wendy's.  I just don't do fast food much anymore.  Periodically a friend will pick up tacos at Taco Bell or Jack in the Box and bring them over for movie night, but otherwise, I just don't.

But I saw McDonald's in the news twice today and thought it might make an interesting blog post.

First, the Big Mac is almost as old as I am.  And its creator has died:
Michael Delligatti, the man who brought you the Big Mac, has died. He was 98.

Delligatti, more affectionately known as “Jim,” was one of McDonald’s first franchisees. He first created the Big Mac in 1967 at his Uniontown, Penn. restaurant, Business Insider reports.

Almost 50 years later, it’s the same recipe served in chains today: two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions—on a sesame seed bun (for those of you old enough to remember the jingle).
That was the creative, entrepreneurial part of the story.  Now comes the economics segment:
As the labor union-backed Fight for $15 begins yet another nationwide strike on November 29, I have a simple message for the protest organizers and the reporters covering them: I told you so.

It brings me no joy to write these words. The push for a $15 starter wage has negatively impacted the career prospects of employees who were just getting started in the workforce while extinguishing the businesses that employed them. I wish it were not so. But it’s important to document these consequences, lest policymakers elsewhere decide that the $15 movement is worth embracing.

Let’s start with automation. In 2013, when the Fight for $15 was still in its growth stage, I and others warned that union demands for a much higher minimum wage would force businesses with small profit margins to replace full-service employees with costly investments in self-service alternatives. At the time, labor groups accused business owners of crying wolf. It turns out the wolf was real.

Earlier this month, McDonald’s announced the nationwide roll-out of touchscreen self-service kiosks. In a video the company released to showcase the new customer experience, it’s striking to see employees who once would have managed a cash register now reduced to monitoring a customer’s choices at an iPad-style kiosk...

Of course, not all businesses have the capital necessary to shift from full-service to self-service. And that brings me to my next correct prediction--that a $15 minimum wage would force many small businesses to lay off staff, seek less-costly locations, or close altogether.

Tragically, these stories—in California in particular--are too numerous to cite in detail here. They include a bookstore in Roseville, a pub in Fresno, restaurants and bakeries in San Francisco, a coffee shop in Berkeley, grocery stores in Oakland, a grill in Santa Clara, and apparel manufacturers through the state. In September of this year, nearly one-quarter of restaurant closures in the Bay Area cited labor costs as one of the reasons for shutting down operations. And just this past week, a California-based communications firm announced it was moving 75 call center jobs from San Diego to El Paso, Texas, citing California’s rising minimum as the “deciding factor.” (Dozens of additional stories can be found at the website
Idiot $15/hr protesters are protesting people right out of their jobs.  You can't rewrite the laws of economics.