Thursday, April 30, 2015

Friday Funnies

There is a medical distinction between "Guts" and "Balls".
We've heard colleagues referring to people with "Guts", or with "Balls".

Do they know the difference between them?

Here's the official distinction; straight from the British Medical Journal: Volume 323; page 295

GUTS:  is arriving home late, after a night out with the lads, being met by your wife with a broom, and having the "Guts" to ask: "Are you still cleaning, or are you flying somewhere?"

BALLS:  Is coming home late after a night out with the lads, smelling of perfume and beer, lipstick on your collar, slapping your wife on the bum and having the "Balls" to say:  "You're next, Chubby".

I trust this clears up any confusion.

Medically speaking, thee is no difference in outcome; both are fatal.


It has been characterized as tragic.  And it is.  The looting, the crime, the rock throwing.  It's also tragic that hucksters and charlatans like Al Sharpton have a voice to encourage the thugs.  It's also tragic that we've come to a place where the police are viewed as the enemy.  And it's more than tragic that the black community in this country is moving at a glacial pace to escape the bonds of poverty, racism and poor education.  Tragedy all around.  

But the reality is that the places where these events have happened are largely ruled by leaders who believe that the best route out of these problems is providing more money and handouts.  And a lot of those leaders are black.  That if we just give people things and make it easier, why then they will pull themselves up.  Unfortunately that doesn't happen.  Has never happened.  

I know I'm an old white guy with no (or little) standing to comment so if you don't like this you don't have to read it.  But I remain convinced that the keys are personal responsibility, education, and increased opportunities.  You don't develop personal responsibility by waiting for someone to give you something.  Part of the personal responsibility deal is that black men need to step up.  One of the best images to come out of Baltimore was the line of men between the police and the thugs.  That's what we need.  That's the step in the right direction.  I know, I know.  I'm not naive to the fact that black men face a disproportionate threat from authority.  And I'm certainly not saying that the police are always right.  But there needs to be a large conversation about the need for the authority figure of black men in their communities.  And that conversation needs to translate to a greater responsibility.  You don't get a solid (or at least basic) education by attending failing schools loaded with drugs and crime.  And you don't get increased opportunities by destroying your city so that business flee.  And that is exactly what is happening in places like Baltimore.

The black middle class is rising.  There is no doubt about that.  Just go to some places around Washington, DC or Atlanta, or Charlotte or any number of other cities.  But it's too slow and not enough.  We have to turn places like Baltimore, Detroit, Chicago, etc around.  And the model is out there.  NYC.  The Big Apple under Guliani and Bloomberg.  It wasn't a complete success and it's being unraveled but the current knucklehead in power, but the roadmap is there.  Create a stable and safe environment.  That means law and order.  Encourage school reform which is a huge task against the unions who only want to protect their employees.  Encourage charter schools.  And figure out how to entice business back to provide jobs.  Yes business.  Government can't do this.  They just can't.  

So this will all happen again.  Tragic.  But there is a roadmap to success.  Won't happen overnight.  It's not easy.  But the roadmap is there.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Water Follies

Out here on the left coast there's a lot of angst about the drought and the ensuing water shortage.  Here in California our State Government has raised red flags regarding the impending disaster that the drought has caused.  There is no other issue in the Western U.S. than water so this gets a lot of attention.  There has been a lot of blame to go around, primarily aimed at greedy water users.  We've had stories about those unreasonable farmers who suck up all the water.  Or the wealthy in their enclaves who are using a disproportionate amount of water.  Or those dreaded golf courses that stupidly think they have a right to exist.  If it wasn't such a sad story of government gone terribly awry, it would be funny.

For all of you living in someplace other than the crazy fantasyland of California, the story is difficult to believe.  Here's the bottom line.  We do have a drought.  It's been going on for several years.  This drought is a fact of nature.  Throughout the ages we've had some years with an abundance of water and some years with too little water.  It goes in cycles.  This drought will be over at some point.  We also have a water shortage.  This water shortage is man made.  It can be blamed on four things.  First is that the population centers on the Coast use too much water in this semi-arid environment.  Water conservation has not been a priority.  Second, we have consistently resisted the construction of desalination plants.  They work.  Just ask the Israelis.  But for many reasons, most of them bureaucratic and idiotic, we haven't gone in that direction.  Third, the State hasn't had a major water project approved since the 1960's.  That's right.  The 1960's.  In a State where water is critical, the government has done nothing to modernize and increase our water supply in over 50 years.  And here's the best one.  The Delta Smelt.  The best explanation I've seen in a while was in the WSJ this morning.  So I've copied the whole thing for your reading pleasure.  You can read it and most sane people in California should be doing.  Or you can read it and laugh.  And that's probably what most people will do because after all, sometimes all you can do is laugh...

Forget the Missing Rainfall, California. Where’s the Delta Smelt?
Guided by bad science, regulators are flushing away millions of gallons of water to protect a three-inch fish.
April 26, 2015 5:58 p.m. ET
In California, it takes about 1.1 gallons of water to grow an almond; 1.28 gallons to flush a toilet; and 34 gallons to produce an ounce of marijuana. But how many gallons are needed to save a three-inch delta smelt, the cause célèbre of environmentalists and bête noire of parched farmers?

To protect smelt from water pumps, government regulators have flushed 1.4 trillion gallons of water into the San Francisco Bay since 2008. That would have been enough to sustain 6.4 million Californians for six years. Yet a survey of young adult smelt in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta last fall yielded just eight fish, the lowest level since 1967. An annual spring survey by state biologists turned up six smelt in March and one this month. In 2014 the fall-spring counts were 88 and 36. While the surveys are a sampling and not intended to suggest the full population, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service warns that “the delta smelt is now in danger of extinction.”

The agency acknowledges that its “existing regulatory mechanisms have not proven adequate” to arrest the fish’s decline since its listing under the Endangered Species Act in 1993 and that “we are unable to determine with certainty which threats or combinations of threats are directly responsible.”

Herein is a parable of imperious regulators who subordinate science to a green political agenda. While imposing huge societal costs, government policies have failed to achieve their stated environmental purpose.

The smelt population has been shrinking since the 1970s, with a few intermittent rebounds. In 2008 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issued a 396-page “biological opinion” identifying delta pumps, which export water to Central Valley farms and Southern California, as a major culprit in the smelt’s decline. The agency imposed stringent restrictions on water pumping based on regression models—for measuring variables—that purportedly correlated water flows with smelt killed.

In 2009 Central Valley farmers sued the Fish and Wildlife Service under the Administrative Procedure Act for failing to apply the “best available science.” In a 225-page decision in 2010, federal Judge Oliver Wanger skewered the federal agency for not conducting an environmental-impact statement, and for misapplying data and making unexplained assumptions. “The public cannot afford sloppy science and unidirectional prescriptions that ignore California’s water needs,” he wrote. The judge ordered the Fish and Wildlife Service to redo its “arbitrary, capricious and unlawful” regulations.

But last year the Ninth Circuit of Appeals—renowned for its liberal outlook—reversed the decision. The three-judge panel did rip the agency’s biological opinion as a “jumble of disjointed facts and analyses.” Yet the ruling said that the restrictive pumping limits were warranted to “counteract the uncertainties” of its scientific analyses. In other words: The government’s actions were justified by its sloppy science.

The smelt’s decline might not seem such a mystery today had government regulators more closely examined the science. For instance, a 2008 study by San Francisco State University researcher Wim Kimmerer—a paper used by the Fish and Wildlife Service to support its pumping restrictions—found that the sporadic population losses attributed to pumping during the winter and spring when smelt are spawning failed to take into account “subsequent 50-fold variability in survival from summer to fall” when the young fish are growing.

Other studies have noted that the biggest driver of species abundance in the delta is precipitation, which may explain why the smelt population has plummeted over the past four years of drought after rebounding in 2011—a wet year.

According to biologist Peter Moyle at the University of California, Davis, who has studied the delta ecosystem and smelt since the 1970s, precipitation levels can drastically transform the delta ecosystem’s complex food web. For instance, the invasive Asian clam—introduced to the delta in the 1980s—increases during droughts and competes with the smelt for food.

Dry conditions, Mr. Moyle adds, also make the water clearer and render the translucent smelt more vulnerable to predators. Toxic fertilizers from delta farmers and contaminants from Sacramento urban users grow more concentrated when there is less water.

“The chances of recovery are low,” Mr. Moyle tells me, noting that last month’s survey captured smelt scattered in disparate areas of the delta (state data show that the government-survey trawls kill more adult smelt than the pumps do). So the tiny fish may have to swim great distances to find a mate. Another problem is that the few remaining females and males may be at different stages of development and unable to mate.

Mr. Moyle predicts that the smelt will disappear from the delta within the next two years—but strictly speaking, they won’t be extinct: The Fish and Wildlife Service maintains a “refuge” population at a fish hatchery near Shasta Dam that can recolonize the delta when water is abundant again. Environmentalists claim that the fish have a right to return. UC Davis also raises hundreds of smelt for experiments and conservation at a lab south of Stockton. Long live the smelt.

Even if the delta smelt were eliminated from the delta forever, the federal government would continue to restrict pumping to protect other fish: the longfin smelt, steelhead and Chinook winter-run salmon. And green groups would continue petitioning the government to expand its list of endangered species. Parched Californians may soon wonder when it’s their turn for such concern.

Ms. Finley is an editorial writer for the Journal.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Lazy Week

This is the view from our balcony in Kauai.  So don't expect much this week....

Saturday, April 18, 2015


Wow...I thought or maybe hoped we were moving beyond this.  Check out the video clip in this blog post.  But I guess there are still a ton of low information voters who are only looking at gender.  Of course, these people all appear to be college students who arguably live in the most ideologically repressed world of anyone in the country.  So maybe it's not that surprising.


Here's today's column by Charles Krauthamer.  Spot on!

She rides by van: The Hillary Clinton launch

See Hillary ride in a van! Watch her meet everyday Americans! Witness her ordering a burrito bowl at Chipotle! Which she did wearing shades, as did her chief aide Huma Abedin, yielding security-camera pictures that made them look (to borrow from Karl Rove) like fugitives on the lam, wanted in seven states for a failed foreign policy.
There’s something surreal about Hillary Clinton’s Marie Antoinette tour, sampling cake and commoners. But what else can she do? After Barack Obama, she’s the best-known political figure in America. She has papal name recognition. Like Napoleon and Cher, she’s universally known by her first name. As former queen consort, senator and secretary of state, she has spent a quarter-century in the national spotlight — more than any modern candidate. 
Charles Krauthammer writes a weekly political column that runs on Fridays. View Archive
She doesn’t just get media coverage; she gets meta-coverage. The staging is so obvious that actual events disappear. The story is their symbolism — campaign as semiotics.
This quality of purposeful abstractness makes everything sound and seem contrived. It’s not really her fault. True, she’s got enough genuine inauthenticity to go around — decades of positioning, framing, parsing, dodging — but the perception is compounded by the obvious staginess of the gigantic political apparatus that surrounds her and directs her movements.
Why is she running in the first place? Because it’s the next inevitable step in her career path. But that’s not as damning as it seems. It can be said of practically every presidential candidate. The number of conviction politicians — those who run not to be someone but to do something — is exceedingly small. In our lifetime: Ronald Reagan. And arguably, Barack Obama, although with him (as opposed to Reagan) a heavy dose of narcissistic self-fulfillment is admixed with genuine ideological conviction.
Hillary Clinton’s problem is age, not chronological but political. She’s been around for so long that who can really believe she suddenly has been seized with a new passion to champion, as she put it in Iowa, “the truckers that I saw on I-80 as I was driving here”?
Or developed a new persona. She will, of course, go through the motions. Her team will produce a “message,” one of the most corrosive, debased words in the lexicon of contemporary politics — an alleged synonym for belief or conviction, it signifies nothing more than a branded marketing strategy. 
She will develop policies. In Iowa, she’d already delivered her top four, one of which is to take unaccountable big money out of politics. This is rather precious, considering that her supporters intend to raise $2.5 billion for 2016 alone and that the Clinton Foundation is one of the most formidable machines ever devised for extracting money from the rich, the powerful and the unsavory. 
She will try to sell herself as champion of the little guy. Not easy to do when you and your husband have for the last 25 years made limo-liberal Davos-world your home. Hence the van trek to Iowa, lest a Gulfstream 450 invade the visual.
Clinton’s unchangeability, however, is the source of her uniqueness as a candidate: She’s a fixed point. She is who she is. And no one expects — nor would anyone really believe — any claimed character change.
Accordingly, voters’ views about her are equally immutable. The only variable, therefore, in the 2016 election lies on the other side, where the freedom of action is almost total. It all depends on who the Republicans pick and how the candidate performs.
Hillary is a stationary target. You know what you’re getting. She has her weaknesses: She’s not a great campaigner, she has that unshakable inauthenticity problem and, regarding the quality most important to getting elected, she is barely, in the merciless phrase of candidate Obama in 2008, “likable enough.”
But she has her strengths: discipline, determination, high intelligence, great energy. With an immense organization deploying an obscene amount of money. And behind that, a Democratic Party united if not overly enthusiastic.
That’s why 2016 is already shaping up as the most unusual open-seat presidential race in our time: one candidate fixed and foregone, the other yet to emerge from a wild race of a near-dozen contenders with none exceeding 20 percent. 
So brace yourself for a glorious Republican punch-up, punctuated by endless meta-coverage of the Democrats’ coronation march. After which, we shall decide the future of our country. Just the way the Founders drew it up.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Amazing Courage!

Tomorrow is the anniversary of one of the most amazing feats in modern warfare history.  Jimmy Doolittle's Raiders took off from the deck of the USS Hornet in the Western Pacific flying B-25's.   They were on a one-way mission to Tokyo.  And they flew into immortality!  Worth a few minutes to remember!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015


I was thinking of titling the post "Here We Go Again".  Or maybe "The Tired Old Hag Decides to Give It Another Run".  I thought of something like "Liars, Bubbas, and Money".  I almost just resorted to "You've Got To Be Shitting Me".  But in the end, I decided that over the next 16 months (think about that folks...16 months) we're going to have so much to write about Hillary that I'd just use the title Hillary and build on it.  So if you see the title, you know what it's about and if you're one of the misguided, mindless morons supporting her, you're welcome to stay or you can just move along.

I don't have the time nor the inclination to dredge up all the sordid details of her past.  The lies, the dissembling, the contempt, the incompetence, and on and on and on.  So let's just start from here, but keep a mind to the past.  As you read and see various things both on this blog and in other sources, keep in mind her past.  There are also a few other things to remember.  The first and foremost is that the press will give her a big gigantic pass.  Oh, there will be a few that press her, but most will yawn and wait for the coronation.  Second, Bubba (Bill for those who don't remember the glory days of Monica and McDonalds) is a wildcard.  Now just for the entertainment value it's a good thing to have him around.  And he is arguably the best political mind in a generation.  So a great game will be to figure out just what strings he is pulling.  And believe me, he is pulling strings.  Third, and it pains me to say this, her biggest supporters will come from my generation, specifically the females in my generation.  Why this is and how this can be is beyond me.  Fourth, she will harp on the themes of being the first female President, income inequality, big money in campaigns, and her experience as Secretary of State.  They are all losers!  And if the Republicans don't pound her into the dirt on this nonsense, they are crazy.  You may have read here that we need to get beyond extreme partisanship and elect people who will work together.  And I still think that.  But in the case of Hillary...well...she needs to be stopped!

I'm probably going to do a lot of quoting and referring to articles in the coming months because there are people out there a lot smarter and more eloquent than me who I think need to have their thoughts aired.  So one of the first things I've read about her emergence as a candidate comes from Peggy Noonan on her blog.  You can read it here.  But I'm also going to paste the whole thing because it's so good.  Peggy hits the nail on the head.  Indeed..."Hillary's Ungainly Glide"...
I’m off the next two weeks finishing a book, and I can already tell you this is a terrible time to be away from the scene. Hillary Clinton’s announcement followed by her dark-windowed SUV journey into deepest darkest America was the most inept, phony, shallow, slickily-slick and meaningless launch of a presidential candidacy I have ever seen. We have come to quite a pass when the Clintons can’t even do the show business of politics well. The whole extravaganza has the look of profound incompetence and disorganization—no one could have been thinking this through—or profound cynicism, or both. It has yielded only one good thing, and that is a memorable line, as Mrs. Clinton glided by reporters: “We do have a plan. We have a plan for my plan.” That is how the Washington Post quoted her, on ideas on campaign finance reform.
Marco Rubio had a pretty great announcement in that it made the political class look at him in a new way, and a better way. I have heard him talk about his father the bartender I suppose half a dozen times, yet hearing it again in his announcement moved me. I don’t know how that happened. John Boehner is the son of a barkeep. It has occurred to me a lot recently that many if not most of the people I see in the highest reaches of American life now come from relatively modest circumstances. Rubio is right that this is our glory, but I’m thinking one of the greatest things about America is a larger point: There’s room for everybody. You can rise if you come from one of the most established, wealthiest families, and you can rise if you came from nothing. I have promised myself I will stop talking about the musical “Hamilton” and so will not note that this is one of the points made in the musical “Hamilton”: America was special in this regard from the beginning, with landed gentry like Jefferson and Washington working side by side with those such as the modestly born Ben Franklin and the lowborn Alexander Hamilton. But now it is more so. Anyway, back to Rubio: “Yesterday’s over” was good, and strict, and was a two shot applying as much to the Clintons as the Bushes.
Two points on the general feel of the 2016 campaign so far.
One is that in the case of Mrs. Clinton we are going to see the press act either like the press of a great nation—hungry, raucous, alive, demanding—or like a hopelessly sickened organism, a big flailing octopus with no strength in its arms, lying like a greasy blob at the bottom of the sea, dying of ideology poisoning.
Republicans know—they see it every day—that Republican candidates get grilled, sometimes impertinently, and pressed, sometimes brusquely. And it isn’t true that they’re only questioned in this way once they announce, Scott Walker has been treated like this also, and he has yet to announce. Republicans see this, and then they see that Mrs. Clinton isn’t grilled, is never forced to submit to anyone’s morning-show impertinence, is never the object of the snotty question or the sharp demand for information. She gets the glide. She waves at the crowds and the press and glides by. No one pushes. No one shouts the rude question or rolls out the carefully scripted set of studio inquiries meant to make the candidate squirm. She is treated like the queen of England, who also isn’t subjected to impertinent questions as she glides into and out of venues. But she is the queen. We are not supposed to have queens.
Second point: We have simply never had a dynamic like the one that seems likely to prevail next year.
On the Republican side there is a good deep bench and there will be a hell of a fight among serious and estimable contenders. A handful of them—Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Rubio, maybe Bobby Jindal—are first-rate debaters, sharp advancers of a thought and a direction. Their debates, their campaigning, their oppo geniuses, their negative ads—it’s all going to be bloody. Will the American people look at them in 2016 and see dynamism and excitement and youth and actual ideas and serious debate? Will it look like that’s where the lightning’s striking and the words have meaning? Will it fortify and revivify the Republican brand? Or will it all look like mayhem and chaos? Will the eventual winner emerge a year from now too bloodied, too damaged to go on and win in November? Will the party itself look bloody and damaged?
On the Democratic side we have Mrs. Clinton, gliding. If she has no serious competition, will the singularity of her situation make her look stable, worthy of reflexive respect, accomplished, serene, the obvious superior choice? Or will Hillary alone on the stage, or the couch, or in the tinted-window SUV, look entitled, presumptuous, old, boring, imperious, yesterday?
Will it all come down to bloody versus boring?
And which would America prefer?

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Motivation Monday

It's Masters week.  So this seem's appropriate.  If you recognize this you'll know that it's pretty a sports sort of way.  If you don't recognize it, well then come back in a week.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Pulling Back

Okay...I've finally had it.  I've had this disquieting feeling over the last year or so that I'm being increasingly bombarded with vitriolic hatred spewed out by ignorant zealots.  Not just on politics but in every day life.  It seems that everywhere I turn people are moving to their corners.  If you have an opinion, more and more seem to have an extreme opinion.  And it's really getting tiresome.  In the last few weeks it seems to have gotten radically worse.  The Indiana RFRA has really accentuated it.  I mean, the media totally and completely misreported the issue.  They spring loaded to one side and bombarded us with lies.  Now don't get me wrong, there are two sides to that story.  And both have good points.  And the law was deficient.  And there may have even been some malice.  But wasn't as reported by the zealots on both sides.  Another crazy thing is Ted Cruz running for President.  Ted Cruz.  Really?  In what universe would he have a chance?  And don't even get me started about Hillary.  I've posted about it previously.  In what universe to people still like, admire, and trust her?  And now we have Obama striking a deal with the Iranians on nuclear reductions.  Please.  For a good example of success in that area look at North Korea.  Their wished for agreement means nothing.  But...I get the desire to try.  I get the need for diplomacy.  The problem is that you can't believe anyone.  Mostly you can't believe Obama.  I mean you totally can't believe him.  But then the Republicans  obstruct just to obstruct.  And I look at social media and it's just as bad.  Maybe worse.  It's filled with hate filled nonsense.

So I've had it.  I'm pulling back.  I've unfriended/unfollowed a ton of people and organizations.  My FB and Twitter life has become very restricted.  I'm now only in contact with friends and family.  And my TV is going to tune in a lot more to ESPN, HGTV, the Golf Channel (when I can get away with it), and whatever channel has Seinfeld, Friends, or Big Bang Theory.  I'm getting way to old for the stress and angst of listening to assholes who can't see anything but their way.  No more listening BS from people who know it's BS but don't care.  If someone is interested in my opinion, they can meet me here.  If they want to discuss something, fine.  If they want the truth, fine.  But no BS.  No extremes.  No assholes.  So there.


Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Mission Accomplished!

I've been posting New Year's resolutions for the past couple of years.  If you've been reading at all you know some have worked and some have  But I'm happy to report success!  In my post in December, 2014 I said..."Take a pottery class--I've been a failure at this but resolve to move forward.  Not sure yet when or where, but it's going to happen."  

I signed up to take a ceramics class at the local high school in early 2015.  It is over and I thoroughly enjoyed myself.  I have to admit that my products are pretty basic.  But I had fun.  So I'm chalking up a success!