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These are my longer "deep-dive" articles on specific subjects so they don't get lost.

Free-Form Fun Fridays

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I have decided that if there is something that I want to post that has nothing to do with the main purpose of this website (posting about Conservativeism, etc.), These posts will appear on "Free-Form Fun Fridays."

In December last year, Ikea opened a warehouse here in Memphis. Earlier this week I went there and bought myself a standing desk and assembled it. I am trying to improve my health by not sitting as much, since "sitting is the new smoking." This excuse allows me to post the following video, two people trying to assemble Ikea furniture after taking LSD. Enjoy!

 

Why you should do the right thing

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I have long said you should do the right thing for the right reasons. I just learned about this story, Guy Finds StarCraft Source Code And Returns It To Blizzard, Gets Free Trip To BlizzCon.

This guy bought a "box of Blizzard stuff" off eBay, and in the box was a CD labeled "StarCraft Gold Master Source Code." This is the uncompiled source code that makes up the game StarCraft. A lot of things could be done with this code.

In the end, he did the right thing and returned it to Blizzard. Blizzard then sent him a copy of their new game Overwatch and $250 in store credit.

Then the other shoe dropped.

Out of the blue one day, the guy gets a phone call from Blizzard, giving him a full ride (airfare, hotel and admission) to their annual convention, BlizzCon and drinks with the staff. Oh, yeah, another box shows up at his door with multiple Razer gaming accessories, plushies and a copy of Diablo III.

Think about this the next time you're confronted with an ethical dilemma.

 

Going Nuclear

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I see people freak out every time the subject of the US Senate invoking “THE NUCLEAR OPTION” surfaces in the news cycle. Let me explain in simple and clear terms what that is and why it’s there.

The Senate, as envisioned by our Founding Fathers, represented the interests of the States, notably the State governments. Up until the Seventeenth Amendment was ratified in 1913, Senators were appointed by the State governments. Now the People directly elect them.

The purpose of the Senate was to be “the cooling saucer” to balance the passions of the House. The term comes from the common way people drank hot beverages back then. You drank from the cup, the saucer held directly below the cup. If some should escape your lips and spill, it would be caught by the saucer, where it would cool off before you drank it.

The Senate was meant to be a deliberative body, which is why they have the enumerated power of “advice and consent” to the President.

Most, if not all legislative bodies follow Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised (RONR) to conduct their business. I have a copy on my desk. Robert’s Rules of Order, Newly Revised, 11th Edition.

In RONR, there are two kinds of majorities in the voting process. Depending on the body and what they are voting on, these majorities can consist of either “members present” or “total members.” You have a simple majority (50% plus 1 more vote) or a supermajority (two-thirds, or 66% plus 1 more vote).

Now that I have explained all of that, the term that is at the center of “the nuclear option” is “Cloture.” Because the Senate is such a deliberative body, they like to talk. A LOT.

Just in case you didn’t know it, Senators Richard Russell, Strom Thurmond, Robert Byrd, William Fulbright and Sam Ervin, all Southern Democrats, filibustered the 1964 Civil Rights Act for 60 “working days” (the Senate is only “in session” 162 days a year, or 3 days a week).

Cloture is a parliamentary move to limit debate. In RONR, it is called Previous Question and can be found in RONR Chapter 6, Subsidiary Motions, §6, Page 197 Line 22. The only reference to Cloture itself is in RONR on page 201, first footnote, last sentence. If the vote for Cloture passes, then all debate on that item (bill, nomination, etc.) in front of the Senate is halted. Then and only then can there be a second, separate vote on the item itself.

Let me say that again. A successful Cloture vote (3/5ths) tells the whiny crybabies who are holding their breath (figuratively) to shut up so a simple up-or-down vote on the item at hand can be made.

Up until the filibuster above, Cloture required a 2/3rds vote of the full Senate. In 1975, the Senate Rules were changed to invoke Cloture at a “3/5ths majority.” In the case of the 100 member Senate that means 60 votes.

In November 2013, during the Democrat-controlled 113th US Congress, the Senate Democrats amended the Cloture rule so that Cloture could not be invoked on votes for presidential appointees and judges other than the Supreme Court. That way, the Democrats could halt Republican filibusters for Obama’s nominees to senior administration positions and his nominees to federal benches inferior to the Supreme Court.

Just recently, the Republican majority in the Senate returned the favor and exempted Supreme Court nominees from the Cloture process so Neil Gorsuch could be appointed to the Supreme Court. A 3/5ths majority is still required on bills before the Senate.

In the end, Cloture is nothing more than a rule made up and changed at will by the members of the Senate. It is not in the Constitution. Like weather in Hawaii, if you don’t like it, stick around, it will change pretty quickly.

It’s a grown-up version of a sandlot rule for kids baseball.

 

The rationing of health care

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A friend turned me on to this article, I had a health crisis in France. I’m here to tell you that ‘socialized medicine’ is terrific. Which is, amazingly enough in the Op-Ed section of the LA Times. It documents the ordeal of a “long-term official resident” of France, who had a defective aortic valve malfunction.

I like this guy’s sense of humor:

In the intensive care unit, I learned that I had been born with a defective aortic valve. Basically, I’d been walking around my entire life with a ticking time bomb in my chest. How could I not have known? In high school, I ran track and played football; every summer, my wife and I took long hikes in the Swiss Alps. But an experienced nurse was not surprised. “With your condition,” she said, “the first symptom is often sudden death.” OK, I replied, what’s the second symptom?

All well and good, I’m glad that Mr. Lamar managed to survive, spending 47 days in the hospital and rehab and was only out-of-pocket $1,455.

However, I deal in statistics, not anecdotes, which is what the above article describes. You can read my views on that in my earlier article, Anecdotal vs. Statistical.

Now let’s take a look at a socialized health care program that’s been rolling for almost 70 years. That way we can see the inevitable result of long-term use of socialized medicine. Rationing of NHS services ‘leaving patients in pain and distress’, says new report. Mind you, this is a UK paper reporting on a NHS (National Health Service) report. This report is detailing and scathing in its assessment of the quality of care for the Subjects of Britain.

The NHS was created in 1948 when the Labour Party (their Liberals) created it. The bad news is, shortly after that when Conservatives gained power, they kept and expanded it. It’s been rolling along ever since.

Another article broaches the idea about drafting “junior doctors” from India and Pakistan, as well as forcing all graduating doctors from medical school for five years to make up for the lack of practicing doctors.

Then you have staff performing procedures they are not trained to do and doing them without supervision. As in student Nurses being required to do Nurse level and higher (Physician’s Assistant/Doctor) procedures. Add in a medical death rate 45% higher than the US is and that’s just on the staff side.

There are also reports where patients wait hours (and sometimes die) on gurnies parked in hallways. Because all of the surgical resources are tied up doing the emergency work, elective (i.e. non-emergency quality of life) surgeries wait months. Like, 12-18 weeks on average.

Please, don’t take my word for it, here is the report itself.

Because there isn’t enough money being allocated by the government to adequately address the needs of everyone, many go without and the quality of care those that do manage to receive care is declining rapidly. Once you understand the situation the UK is in with their NHS, multiply that by 5 and then some, because the US has five times the population.

Please, tell me again how wonderful the NHS is and how much of a blessing it would be to the citizens of the US. With a straight face.

Everything is rationed

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This will be the first of three interrelated articles. This article and the concepts I will discuss here provide the foundation for the others.

The first concept I need you to understand is nothing is unlimited, everything is rationed. The term ration is defined thusly:

As a noun: a fixed allowance of provisions or food, especially for soldiers or sailors or for civilians during a shortage

As a verb: to restrict the consumption of (a commodity, food, etc.)

Everything there is on this planet, oil, iPhones, even the air we breathe is limited to some extent and has to be rationed. Don’t think air can be or needs to be rationed? Go SCUBA diving. The air you need to breathe and live, you can only take one ration (what’s in the air tank) down there with you. If you exhaust your ration of air, you either have to leave the water and go back to where air is plentiful or die from the lack of air.

There is also a price and a cost associated with everything. A price is what we pay in monetary units (Dollars, Rubles, Yen, Euros and so on) for a good or service. The cost of an item is what we have to do to acquire the necessary amount of monetary units.

Say you want to buy an iPad. The price for a basic one is $329. The cost for me to acquire that $329 is about a weeks’ worth of work. For someone making minimum wage, it’s more like two weeks of work. The amount of work to acquire this item can be reduced if we are willing to pay other costs. This may mean eating ramen for a week, or paying this month’s utility bill next month. Those costs (low quality food, late fees and/or possibility of getting utilities cut off) can be used to temporarily offset the total cost to obtain that iPad. You will still have to repay the other costs later but those are decisions are for you to make.

iPads themselves are rationed because there are a finite amount of iPads out there available to purchase. If there are 10,000 iPads for sale and 20,000 people want to buy one, then the seller can raise the price until only 10,000 people can afford to get one, or leave the price alone and have 10,000 people go without until more are manufactured. Or one person who owns one can decide to sell their iPad to someone who really wants it and is willing to pay more than the $329 MSRP/RRP (Manufacturers Suggested Retail Price/Recommended Retail Price).

Healthcare is also rationed. A single doctor can reasonably see about eighty-four patients a week. This is 15 minutes with a patient and 5 minutes to do the paperwork (prescriptions, tests, chart documentation, etc) necessary to treat the patient. So that’s three patients an hour, eight hours a day for 3 and-a-half days a week. One day he does work in the hospital, the last four hours in his 40 hour week he is learning about new developments in the medical field and training to gain new skills.

What happens if a hundred people needs his knowledge and skills in a week? He can only see eighty-four. He has to ration his time. This can be done two ways.

First, he can apply free-market principles and if someone wants to pay the doctor extra to get to the head of the line, then those who can pay more get seen before those who can’t. Or

Second, he can apply a Socialistic principal and Triage (a French word, meaning to sort) his potential clients according to criteria that he (or a bureaucrat) sets. It could be those who have the direst need of his services, or who’s been waiting the longest, it doesn’t matter. Sixteen patients have to wait until next week or see another doctor. If one of those sixteen is Bill Gates, then he goes to another doctor or again applies free market principles to slip some extra cash to the doctor to get a priority slot.

Price controls (the price of a good or service that is set by government rather than free-market forces) guarantee rationing. How is that you ask? That’s a great question and I’m glad you asked!

Let’s go back to our iPad example. We still only have 10,000 iPads available and 20,000 potential customers. But the Deputy Assistant Under Secretary of Price Control decides, “That $329 price for an iPad is too high. Let’s make them $159 each.”

The chaos that bureaucrat unleashes is astounding. Because when the price hits that $159, there are no longer 20,000 potential customers, there are now 60,000. Sixty thousand people fighting over ten thousand iPads. The result is now massive rationing because only one person in six can get an iPad. Who decides who gets one and who doesn’t? First in line? Age? Political affiliation? Friends of the bureaucrat?

And what happens when Apple says, “We can’t make a profit selling them at $159, so we will stop making them.” The end result is several hundred people out of a job and 40,000 people who won’t get an iPad.

This is a universal problem because you can replace “iPad” with any good or service and “Apple” with the company that offers the good or service and you will get the same end result.

For those of you with Socialist leanings, you might put forth the supposition that the government should subsidize Apple and give them $170 per iPad so Apple could continue to produce iPads and the customers still get them for $159. What makes you think that the money itself is not rationed? If the government prints and prints money for these subsidies until the money is worthless (1930’s Germany, Venezuela today) the value of the money becomes irrelevant and thus you effectively run out of money.

In the end, all resources need to be managed to make sure that you have those resources today and tomorrow.

Change is coming

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A lot of changes have been happening on this side of the screen that are starting to come to fruition. I am working to upgrade the professionalism and content generation of this blog in my "copious free time."

Filling in the gaps: I am slowly but surely filling in my "missing posts" so someone can see everything I have posted here. I have at least 1,500 posts to work through so this will take a while.

Slight direction change: When I started posting in 2003, I was doing "knee-jerk" commenting on 2-3 news articles a day when my illness let me. Over the past couple of years, I have developed a "wait until it unfolds" policy. This means that by the time I comment on something it will not be part of the current news cycle. That's okay, because I mean to get you the correct and in-depth information, not be "first with breaking news." I do not aim to be first, but the most correct. I may be posting on something that's a couple weeks or months old, but I think it's still important that you know about it.

Timed posting: The previous post I generated on May 4th, then did a "timed publication" so it did not appear until the 8th. I also set up the SEF (Search Engine Friendly) URL beforehand, as well as the posting to my Facebook pages. All this means that I will now be able to post reliably on set days of the week and not worry about being distracted and missing one component of those steps to bring content to you. Look for consistent Monday and Thursday postings starting next week. Depending on other factors, this may change. Let's see how I do with twice a week first. If I need to, I will also do a "We interrupt this broadcast" type post.

Content generation method change: I have started carrying a notebook with me so when an idea hits me, I stop where I am and write it down before it escapes. I use a single page for each topic to give myself an outline of what I want to cover and where I have saved the appropriate links. This allows me to have multiple articles "on the hook" at any given moment. This will also allow me to invest the time to make sure I fully develop my posts. I currently have 17 active articles in my book that I am developing.

Advertising: Once the archives are filled in and I have developed the habit of releasing posts on a consistent schedule, I will be starting to advertise so I can expand my readership. I have not fully explored everything about this yet so I do not know if this would include ads on this website. I intend to avoid that if at all possible.

Email: Another thing that I want to explore is an email newsletter. Again, I have not developed any parameters on this at this point. This will be several months down the road at a minimum.

I hope these changes are pleasing to you, my readers.

The lowdown on insurance

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Imagine this scene for a moment:

Stan is riding down the street with his new-found friend Chris. They’re both passengers in a flatbed tow truck. Chris’ car is on the bed, Stan’s car on the hook behind the truck. You see, Stan plowed into Chris and his car because Stan wasn’t paying attention while driving. They pull into the parking lot of a State Farm office. Stan goes inside and meets Bill, one of the insurance agents.

Stan: I’d like to buy some car insurance. I have my car outside.
Bill: Great! Let’s go out and take a look at it!
[Outside]
Stan: Here’s my car. (the one with no front end)
Bill: ...Umm, you want us to insure this?
Stan: Yes. I need to get it fixed and on the road as soon as possible. And fix Chris’ car as well since I hit him. Does the insurance include a rental option while my car is in the shop?
Bill: I cannot insure this car. It’s already wrecked!
Stan: So it has pre-existing damage. So what? Are you going to sell me a policy or not?
Bill: No. Go away.
Stan: But-
Bill: Go. Away. Now.

I’m sure you can see the absurdity in the above story and think Stan is an idiot for trying a stunt like this. Ballsy, but stupid.

So why do people expect they can get a health insurance policy after they get a Stage 2 Pancreatic Cancer diagnosis or some other serious and/or expensive-to-treat medical condition?

The business model of Insurance is all about a pool of shared risk. The "pool" is all of their policy holders. The cost of Bad Things is spread throughout the entire pool, on the assumption that not everyone will suffer a catastrophic (and expensive) life event. Insurance companies use actuarial tables as a basis on how much to charge for premiums.

Actuarial tables, for example, looks at 10,000 white males, 20 to 30-years-old and sees that as a group, (these are made up numbers) 3% will develop cancer, 5% will suffer a serious injury from a vehicle crash, 8% will suffer a dismemberment due to workplace accidents and so on.

Each of these events have an associated cost for them. The insurance agency will then use this information (chance of an event and the cost) to determine how much to charge (along with administrative costs and profits) for the premiums.

The insurance model breaks down when pre-existing conditions (PEC) enter the picture. This is because with PEC's there is no chance that the person might get a particular disease, they already have it.

Right now, a “simple and easy” cancer diagnosis runs into the hundreds of thousands of dollars to cure. Serious cases can cost way more than that. How can you reasonably ask an insurance company to take on something like that? It would be like you buying a $200,000 house for $200,000, knowing that it will take another $250,000 of materials and labor to repair it and make it worth $200,000 because it’s currently falling down from disrepair or some other major issue.

I am not a “heartless Republican” (I’m not even a Republican at all, but that’s beside the point), so I am flexible on this. If people are very up-in-arms over those people with PEC’s, we can talk about a healthcare entitlement program, run by the government. Let’s just not call it insurance, because at that point, it’s not.

Instead of forcing everyone under the same umbrella (“share the risk”) with those who have PEC’s, those who have insurance can pay the market price for insurance without worrying about the insurance company raising their rates astronomically because they have to take on the PEC “money pit” people. If you fall into the PEC category, then you will get your healthcare from the government.

Hey, the federal government is *only* $20,000,000,000,000 in debt right now anyway. What’s a few more trillion dollars to the rest of us and our children?

Do PEC’s suck? Unbelievably. I realize that. First-hand experience and all that. I emphasize with you. It isn’t fair that you have this condition. But is it fair that you are asking everybody else in your insurance pool to pay an extra $10 a month for your condition? If you didn’t have a PEC, would you voluntarily pay an extra $50 a month in insurance premiums to support those that do have PEC’s? I realize that we will eventually pay it, either through insurance premiums or taxes, however forcing insurance companies to shoulder the cost of those with PEC’s only forces the insurance companies to go out of business and put hundreds of people out of work because people with PEC’s broke the model.

Yeah, that’s the ticket! Let’s drive those E-V-I-L insurance companies out of business! Then we can go back to the old medical model of “cash, one payment, up-front.” Yeah, those were the good old days. If you couldn’t afford the doctors services, you died. (I’m being sarcastic here, for those who have no sense of humor.)

I am not in favor of anybody being refused healthcare. I am for us doing so in a fiscally reasonable manner, one that does not unnecessarily burden our fellow citizens and future generations.

The fix has been in for a while

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This news article is not surprising in the least to me. 7 Jaw-Dropping Revelations From Hearings on the Motion to Dismiss the DNC Fraud Lawsuit. I remember from the 1996 Presidential election, at the Democrat National Convention, a lot of committees that formed the various "planks" that made up the platform of the Democrat Party, the process went something like this:

Committee member: "Mr. Chairman, I move that [this] be the position of the Democrat Party on this subject."

Chairperson: "All in favor say 'Aye.' Motion carries."

If you're unfamiliar with Robert's Rules of Order, it should have gone like this:

Committee member 1: "Mr. Chairman, I move that [this] be the position of the Democrat Party on this subject."

Committee member 2: "Mr. Chairman, I second the motion."

Chairperson: "Everyone, we have a motion on the floor, properly seconded. Discussion?"

At this point, each person on the committee would have the opportunity to speak for or against the motion. Motions could be made to amend the motion. After everyone has had an opportunity to speak, the chairperson then calls for a vote.

Chairperson: "We are now voting on this motion. All in favor of this motion say 'Aye' [everyone in favor of the motion says 'Aye']. All opposed say 'Nay' [everyone against the motion says 'Nay']."

This is called a voice vote. If it is evident that one side outnumbers the other, the motion either carries or fails. If it sounds close, any member can ask the chairperson to call for a show of hands or for the voters to stand when 'yays' or 'nays' are called.

Notice the difference? In the first rendition, there is no "second," nor is there any discussion on the subject. There is also no opportunity for a dissenting vote.

So when the DNC uses "superdelegates" paid for by Hillary to publicly throw the delegate count to her and insure that Sanders never had a chance at the nomination. As a result, Sanders supporters sued the DNC on the grounds of fraud. The DNC is using the reasoning, "We are a private organization. We can run how we select candidates however we want" to dismiss the case.

The Bylaws of the DNC (specifically Article 5, Section 4) reads:

...In the conduct and management of the affairs and procedures of the Democratic National Committee, particularly as they apply to the preparation and conduct of the Presidential nomination process, the Chairperson shall exercise impartiality and evenhandedness as between the Presidential candidates and campaigns. The Chairperson shall be responsible for ensuring that the national officers and staff of the Democratic National Committee maintain impartiality and evenhandedness during the Democratic Party Presidential nominating process. [emphasis mine]

Yet there is ample evidence out there that Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (the head of the DNC at the time) clearly and repeatedly leaked intelligence about the Sanders campaign and debate questions to the Clinton campaign beforehand, I doubt these actions come anywhere close to the definition of "impartiality."

The lawyers for the DNC actually state in open court and on the record, "We could choose our candidates in a smoke-filled back room if we so desired."

Let that sink in for a moment, because I can hear Stalin laughing manically in the background. It was Stalin who said, "Those who cast the votes decide nothing. Those who count the votes decide everything." The common people, the citizens of this great country who believe in the positions of the Democrat Party, who give money, effort and time to elect like-minded people to positions in our government from dog-catcher the the President, You are only sheep to be sheared by those in power at the DNC. You are expected to be obedient foot-soldiers who have no power or input on whom you're voting for. You vote for who you're told to vote for and that's it.

And just to make the point very clear, the Republicans do not do this kind of thing. I can point to President Trump to make that point. When just about the entire Republican power structure was actively against Trump, yet he played the RNC game by the RNC rules and won the nomination on his way to the Oval Office.

Vote for me!

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It turns out, you can rate the articles here. If you click on a specific post's title, you can rate it from 1 to 5 stars. Please do so, let me know where you think I'm right on or I missed the mark.

Thanks!

The Science smell test

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This is going to take more explaining than usual. Go freshen your beverage of choice and read carefully.

Hard Science (Physics, Astronomy, Metallurgy, et. al.) and Mathematics go hand-in-hand. Using Mathematics, the effects of Hard Science is measured and quantified.

Science starts as a hypothesis, which is then tested until the hypothesis is either validated as correct or incorrect. If the hypothesis is incorrect, then more research is performed to discover why it is incorrect.

Case in point, the Pioneer 10 and 11 probes are, as of writing this, are about 400,000 kilometers off where the astrophysicists thought the probes should be, 40+ years after launch. So after about 20 years of hypotheses and research, scientists determined that waste heat from certain components and the radioisotope thermoelectric generator that powers the spacecraft are microscopically ((8.74±1.33)×10−10 m/s2, or .0000000001 times Earth's gravity. Imagine a 200 pound human weighing 3.2/1,000,000ths of an ounce) pushing the spacecraft off its intended course.

How did these scientists determine this? They transcribed the paper blueprints of the spacecraft into a CAD program and built a virtual 3-D model of them. Then the scientists ran thousands of test runs, having the virtual spacecraft emit various amounts of heat from various parts of the spacecraft until their virtual spacecraft matched the trajectory of the actual spacecraft. This took a level of nit-picking attention-to-detail that would make the heart of someone with severe Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder sing with joy.

I give this example to show that people who are not scientists (including myself) could not just walk into the laboratory where this work was performed and have any grasp of the fundamentals, let alone detail of astrophysics, mathematics, metallurgy, nuclear science and all of the other disciplines needed to solve this problem. You cannot walk in off the street and comprehend these concepts and methods without years of college-level classes.

Because of this, we have to implicitly and totally trust scientists when they explain these kind of things to us lay-people that they are not bullshitting us. Scietists by their position need to act with a high level of integrity because we have to trust them to deliver accurate information as to what is happening and why it's happening.

The bad news is, scientists are human beings, flawed like the rest of us. They have private agendas, or they can be influenced to "shave" or "parse" data which changes the base data and "proves" a predetermined hypothesis.

Then comes along this NYT article, 2014 Breaks Heat Record, Challenging Global Warming Skeptics.

If you read the article, about halfway down, there is this paragraph:

Such claims are unlikely to go away, though. John R. Christy, an atmospheric scientist at the University of Alabama in Huntsville who is known for his skepticism about the seriousness of global warming, pointed out in an interview that 2014 had surpassed the other record-warm years by only a few hundredths of a degree, well within the error margin of global temperature measurements. “Since the end of the 20th century, the temperature hasn’t done much,” Dr. Christy said. “It’s on this kind of warmish plateau.” [Emphasis mine]

Let's get back to the Science thing. Let's say you have an air-powered cannon out in the desert. You use it to test how different shaped projectiles fly through the air. You fire the same projectile 20 times with all of the other variables identical (air pressure in the cannon, air temperature, wind, projectile weight, weather, etc.) and the projectile lands 100 yards away on average, with a margin of error of plus or minus (+/-) 1 yard. This means that some tests will hit 99 yards, or 101 yards, or somewhere between those numbers. To look at shots 8, 9 and 12 (which hit at 100 yards 6 inches, 100 yards 10 inches and 100 yards 14 inches) and proclaim that the range is increasing is absurd and unethical. Why is this unethical? Because while we can measure the distance down to the inch, there are subtle forces at work that make any exact measurement in that margin-of-error irrelevant. We cannot use numbers within that MOE to draw a trend because they are not statistically relevant. It's like a pre-election poll, when the pollsters give a MOE of +/- 3% and the two candidates are 47% and 49%. You can't say with any certainty that the 49% candidate will win the election because the results are within the MOE.

So when NOAA publishes a 2015 paper (behind a paywall, sorry) that "debunks" the GW "pause" (no statistically significant warming) that's happened over the past 20 years, upon review it is found that 1) they changed how ocean temperature data is collected (from ships that generate heat, rather than no-heat buoys) and 2) NOAA didn't even follow their own established procedures for data integrity for this paper, then you have to act under the premise that those scientists are bullshitting you.

This is why I am very skeptical about man-made climate change. I have no doubt that our climate changes on the micro- and macro- level every day. To say or believe otherwise is to prove yourself a fool and an idiot. I don't know if humans are any significant cause of the change, one way or the other. I personally can't tell because 1) I don't have access to the raw data, 2) I lack the tools, knowledge and resources to properly analyze the data and 3) I cannot trust those scientists who do have the data and tools because I can see them using data that is flawed from the collection or altered post-collection.

All I can say is, the people who want to convince me that man is the biggest and/or exclusive force that is changing the climate needs a shower, because they aren't passing the smell test.

The power of Socialism

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Last week, officials from the Venezuelan government (unsure who, as the economic minister Ramon Lobo is denying this happened) seized control of the General Motors plant down there. This comes after Kimberly-Clark had a factory seized, Coke, Pepsi, Mondelez (they make Oreos) and many other companies have abandoned or severely curtained operations in Venezuela. Supermarket store shelves are empty, bread makers have been enslaved to make bread, the list keeps expanding.

The Venezuelan economy has collapsed 18% in 2016 alone, which has been going on since 2014 when the oil market bottomed out.

This is what happens in a government-controlled economy. Let me apologize ahead of time. If you think a government bureaucrat, either at the state or federal level, should be making decisions on how you should run your business, you're an idiot. Here is Bernie Sanders admitting to that at the 2:20 mark of this video:

Here are Bernie's words, in response to the business owner's question, "So my question is, how do I do that [provide health care] without raising prices to my customers or lowering wages to my employees?":

"You see, the difficulty is also, is that I'm not much of an expert on hairdressing in general, and certainly in Fort Worth."

Unless that governmental official has owned a successful business in a particular industry, they will not have the expertise on how to run/control/grow that industry, any decisions made by them will ultimately end in disaster. Sure, they might get a couple of things right, but only through pure chance.

So, when bureaucrats nationalize, then destroy an industry, what do they do after there is nothing left? Nationalize another industry! Wash, rinse, repeat.

This picture seems to sum up how command economies "expand." From the power that comes from the barrel of a gun.

socialism

 

 

Margaret Thatcher sums it up thusly:

I would much prefer to bring them [the Labour Party] down as soon as possible. I think they’ve made the biggest financial mess that any government’s ever made in this country for a very long time, and Socialist governments traditionally do make a financial mess. They always run out of other people’s money. It’s quite a characteristic of them. They then start to nationalize everything, and people just do not like more and more nationalization, and they’re now trying to control everything by other means. They’re progressively reducing the choice available to ordinary people.

So, now I need someone to tell my why governmental control of an economy would be a good thing. Venezuela is collapsing, the Soviet Union collapsed, China is transitioning to a market economy (at China's speed, which will take another 50 years). Don't point to the Nordic States. They have open markets with large social supports (and a tax rate that starts at 40%). No command-driven economy has ever flourished like open market economies.

The fight against City Hall

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I wrote about Robin Speronis in December of 2013, I have revived the post and it is here.

The basic story is, she is living in a house that is not connected to any utilities. No electricity, no municipal water or sewage, no gas. The city of Cape Coral, FL is fighting tooth-and-nail to either force her to connect utilities or evict her. The latest chapter has her with a "partial victory." I put that in quotes because most of the stories out there about this are not news stories, they're press releases. I found multiple sites, usually having some focus in "living off-the-grid" with the same, exact article, word-for-word. Even the Russian Times has published the press release. What raised my antennae was the lack of any link for the original news article or the court's decision. I did find the original news article for the latest chapter, Cape Coral off-the-grid woman remains defiant, and a Bloomberg Businessweek article (starting on page 50) giving you an overview of the whole story. If you read the links, notice how the News-Press doesn't say what the press release says it says?

I support the cause that this woman is fighting for. It's about freedom. If you don't want to be dependent on the local utility monopoly, I'm right there with you. I do not support her personally because I detail in my original post about how she swindled people out of large sums of money.

Just to give a taste of what is probably in your own municipal code, this is based off the 1988 Standard Housing Code (the link goes to a 94 version, close enough), as published by the Southern Building Code Congress International, Inc., part of the International Code Council. The following code is from the Lee County Land Development Code, Chapter 6 - Buildings and Building Regulations, Article II - Codes and Standards, Division 5 - Minimum Standard Housing Code, Section 6-222(3). The "section 302.4" is from the parent document:

Delete section 302.4 and replace with new section 302.4 as follows:

Every dwelling unit shall have water-heating facilities which are properly installed, maintained in a safe and good working condition, and capable of heating water to such temperature as to permit an adequate amount of water to be drawn at every required kitchen sink, lavatory basin, bathtub or shower at a temperature not less than 110 degrees Fahrenheit. Minimum storage capacity of the water heater shall be 10 gallons. Such water-heating facilities shall be capable of meeting the requirements of this subsection when the dwelling or dwelling unit heating facilities required under the provisions of this code are not in operation. Apartment houses may use a centralized water-heating facility capable of heating an adequate amount of water as required by the plumbing code, adopted herein at section 6-131, to not less than 110 degrees Fahrenheit.

So Cape Coral, FL requires that you have (among other things) a minimum of a 10 gallon hot water tank, able to deliver 110 Degree water to any faucet in the house. What if you have one of those new tankless water heaters? I guess you're in violation of city code.

Don't get me wrong, I love modern conveniences like electricity, running water, cool air in the summer and heat in the winter. That being said, if I desire to eschew some or all of said municipal utilities, that should be my choice. Quite frankly if I desire to cover my roof in Elon Musk's solar powered roof tiles, use a wood-fired stove to cook and heat my house and dig my own water well, then I should be able to. If the local utility monopoly and municipality does not like that, then they can go screw themselves. Of course, a full divestiture of utility services would entail me properly disposing of wastewater so it does not contaminate my own well, plus disposal of my solid waste. Perhaps an ala carte type of arrangement where I can pick what services I want to use.

Remember stores and struggles like this the next time you invoke that magic word of "freedom."

Biting the bullet

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Just in case you didn't know, the term "biting the bullet" is meant for someone (Old West) who has to go through great pain (amputation of a limb, digging a bullet out) without the benefit of anesthesia to blunt the pain. They "bit a bullet" instead of their tongue.

I am now doing the same thing, electronically speaking. I have decided to start importing my posts from years ago. I started this blog in September of 2003. It was on Blogspot for several years (it's still there but it's set to immediately redirect you here) before I went to this domain, running WordPress. In early 2015, I decided to switch CMS (Content Management System) from WordPress to Joomla!. However, any converter I found did not accurately convert the data without a lot of work by Yours Truly. So I started entering my blog posts from the beginning, with the intent of flipping the switch with a completely converted site. Considering I had 12 years and about 2,000 posts, I abandoned that and just started posting in Joomla.

I am doing this because I want a full record and account of my words. Please feel free to quote me from my archives. If I am wrong or incorrect, I admit it and move on. Misquote me or quote me way out of context, I'll be all too happy to grab you by the nose and pull you through the loop in a needle.

I say this now because I have just finished posting my posts from 2003. For the moment, you can go to page 12 and about halfway down to see the posts from that far back. I did that first as I had already started from that end and I wanted to give you the chance to see just how messed up I was back then. Now I will start at the newest WordPress posts and go backwards. I am doing like 10 at a time and it takes about 20-30 minutes to do those 10. I already have to redo formatting, find the original posting date and time and lots of other little fiddly tasks. It does longer if I have to redo links or I have to track down images not already in the website gallery. This will not abate my regular postings, as I do this in my spare and copious free time.

Enjoy!

Chemical Weapons FAQ

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With the recent chemical attacks in Syria and Trump's response, I wanted to explain in plain terms why chemical weapons are considered extremely heinous by the world community. I'm going to say up front, if you need a safe space, you don't need to be reading this post.

As far as my qualifications to talk about this, I have handled "war gasses." I can't tell you when, where or why, but I've been up close and personal with "The Big Stuff." First of all, CW's are not "gasses" like Oxygen and the like. They are really liquid chemicals atomized into a mist. For military forces, this stuff is considered a "harassing agent," as the enemy will sustain some casualties, however they have the equipment (MOPP gear, gas masks, etc.) to continue on with their mission. The forces will stop and don their gear, then continue on at a slower pace. To civilians who lack MOPP gear, chemical weapons are deadly.

Just to differentiate and give you some context, Pepper spray, tear gas and the like are non-lethal chemical agents. They won't kill you, but you will wish you could die. These work by irritating your eyes and sinuses.

There are three families of "war gas" chemical weapons, Blister, Blood and Nerve agents.

Blister agents work by causing internal and external blisters. Mustard Gas, which was used in WWI is an example of this agent. These droplets upon contact with open skin or inhaled, cause the affected tissue to blister up to 24 hours after exposure. These blisters are painful and are your classic first- and second degree chemical burns. When inhaled, the alveoli in your lungs develop blisters and you develop Pulmonary Edema. Your air passages swell shut and your lungs fill with fluid, preventing you from absorbing oxygen and you drown slowly over a day or two in your own fluids. Saddam Hussein likely used Mustard Gas against the Kurds in Halabja in 1988 during the Iran-Iraq war.

Blood agents are next up on the list. These are usually derived from either cyanide or arsenic. Phosgene Gas was used in WWI as a blood agent. The best known chemical of this in the civilian world is Hydrogen Cyanide. If a truck carrying this stuff ruptures on the highway, the police rope off an area about a mile wide so no one gets close enough to receive a fatal dose. This has to be inhaled because when blood agents come in contact with your red blood cells (which transport oxygen from your lungs throughout your body to the cells, then carbon dioxide back to the lungs to be exhaled) it saturates the red blood cells, preventing the blood cells from carrying out their function. You die within minutes, your body dying because it can't get oxygen. A gas mask can protect you, however civilians likely won't have the right kind of filter, and the right kind of filter have a very short time frame of use before they become saturated and ineffective.

Nerve agents are the big, evil, nasty bastards of this group. The well-known names of this class are Tabun, Sarin (used in Syria), VG and VX. These chemicals interrupt the transmission of signals going from nerve to nerve by disrupting the neurochemical process. Your muscles, which are no longer receiving control signals, activate all at once. Imagine a muscle spasm, occurring in every muscle in your body simultaneously. You collapse, every muscle hysterically tight (think trying to hold onto something that if you let go, you'll fall to your death and you know it). Oh, yeah, this includes your diaphragm, the muscle that makes your lungs inhale and exhale air. You inhale... and you can't exhale. You suffocate because you can't exhale (and then inhale again). Civilians have zero defense against this, because it can be inhaled or absorbed through the skin. It only takes minutes, if not seconds from initial exposure to death. The extra nasty thing about VG and VX-type chemical weapons is they have persistence. It's more of an oily gel that doesn't evaporate. When sprayed over an area, the contaminated surfaces can be fatal to the unprotected touch for days after it has been deployed.

CW's are evil, mean and nasty. While you can take some kind of cover from an artillery or air strike and have a fair chance of survival, these weapons will find you. You will most likely die quickly and relatively painlessly in an artillery or air strike. CW's let you know you're going to die and will deliver great pain and terror to you while you wait for the process to conclude.

When the leader of a country uses these kind of agents, especially against their own people, there is a special circle of Hell reserved for them, the one below child molesters. I will take months of screamingly painful torture before I deliver him there.

 

 

Lying statistics

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This article stemmed from doing my due diligence in researching for the article Have you noticed?, I started reading about the Gender Pay Gap that was the basis of Obama’s EO that Trump abolished with one of his EO’s. I had to split it into a pinned post of its own, The Gender Pay Gap to detail what the issue is about, and then this article about the disingenuousness that exists when your research shows what you don’t want it to show.

The overall lesson of this article is supplied by Mark Twain:

He uses statistics as a drunk uses a lamp post: for support rather than illumination.

Numbers are numbers and cannot show anything but facts. If you collect the numbers incorrectly or incompletely, or you parse the data to show what you want rather than the logical conclusion the whole data shows, then you are lying. You could say “obfuscating,” “exaggerating,” or any of several other adjectives, but they all come back to lying. The context of the subject and data will determine if the lies are from incompetence or intentional.

Basically, the basis of the “Gender Pay Gap” says that women make 77% of men’s earnings. Some Liberals love to drag this “statistic” out at every possible opportunity, which was derived from taking the average earnings of all full-time female workers and comparing it to the average earnings of all full-time male workers.

Now comes another applicable quote, this one by Neil deGrasse Tyson:

In science, when human behavior enters the equation, things go nonlinear. That's why Physics is easy and Sociology is hard.

In other words, when human choice enters the equation, numbers now have other factors that change their context and thus their significance.

While researching Have you noticed?, I found an article on the Huffington Post (a Liberal-leaning website if there ever was one), Wage Gap Myth Exposed — By Feminists. I also found pretty much the same article by Art Gutman here, AAUW Releases Report on Gender Gap in Wages.

The curious thing is, the link to the document on the American Association of University Women website in both articles leads to this image:

AAUW 404

My curiosity, piqued before, now has gone on full alert. Here are two articles that say the gender pay gap is 7 percent. They reference a document that proves this. When you go to try and find this document however, you get the above image. Someone is lying here. I do want to make clear that I am not stating or implying that AAUW intentionally hid this document from these articles. It could be merely a broken link due to an upgraded version of the document, or the document was moved to another directory. I will confess my website is probably guilty of that somewhere. What I am saying is that their data shows way different results than what their images are saying.

With some additional searching, I found the PDF referenced by the links and I am hosting it here to make sure it doesn’t go anywhere. Here it is: Graduating to a Pay Gap The Earnings of Women and Men One Year after College Graduation.

I have detailed the why and how women make less in my Gender Pay Gap post and I will not repeat it here. Suffice it to say is that the “Gender Pay Gap,” is there, but it’s 7 percent, not 23 percent. The 16 percent (23 - 7 = 16) are things like the particular career chosen, negotiation of job pay/hours/scope and so on. They spend 63.5 out of 64 pages decrying this humongous pay gap, yet if you read, really read this document, you will see one sentence in the Executive Summary on page two and this paragraph at the end of page 20. The sentence in the executive summary is a summary of this passage:

One-third of the pay gap is unexplained.

Although education and employment factors explain a substantial part of the pay gap, they do not explain it in its entirety. Regression analysis allows us to analyze the effect of multiple factors on earnings at the same time. One might expect

that when you compare men and women with the same major, who attended the same type of institution and worked the same hours in the same job in the same economic sector, the pay gap would disappear. But this is not what our analysis shows. Our regression analysis finds that just over one-third of the pay gap cannot be explained by any of these factors and appears to be attributable to gender alone. That is, after we controlled for all the factors included in our analysis that we found to affect earnings, college educated women working full time earned an unexplained 7 percent less than their male peers did one year out of college (see figure 10; see also figure 13 in the appendix).

Let me translate that passage: “After the variables for human choice to select a less-than-optimal career path is accounted for, there is a pay gap, but it’s less than the numbers we want to promote, so while we are mentioning it to be ‘honest,’ this will be the only mention of it.”

There is also a subtle accounting trick being used here as well that you won’t see if you’re not looking for it. Have you noticed it?

Let me rewrite the last sentence from above and shift it to the same measurement value:

That is, after we controlled for all the factors included in our analysis that we found to affect earnings, college educated women working full time actually earned 93 percent of what their male peers did one year out of college.

Compare “Women makes 77 percent of what a man makes,” and “Women really make 7 percent less than a man,” versus “Women makes 77 percent of what a man makes,” and “Women really makes 93 percent of what a man makes,”

Does that not change the whole context of the case? It sounds very different and a whole lot better than the doom and gloom AAUW is pushing, does it not? In my pinned post conclusion I do state that we should work toward eliminating that 7 percent difference.

Just as an aside, what is AAUW's "solution" to this "problem"? You guessed it. Government intervention by way of laws and regulations to mandate equal pay.

This is why when you see a lot of graphs and numbers being thrown around, it always merits a second, hard and detailed look at the raw data.

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Markisms To Live By

Success is always temporary. When all is said and done, the only thing you'll have left is character. - Vince Gill