Month: March 2021

Results Matter

  • I’m going to talk about mask mandates. Don’t worry, it’s not another diatribe about politicians, power, and people being lemmings. It’s about science and how we’ve lost the ability to ask basic questions. Many edicts these days are nothing more than a hypothesis. Everything from wearing a mask, herd immunity, lockdowns, climate change, to stimulus packages are simply a hypothesis. Someone, probably smarter than me, has an idea that if we do X, then Y will happen. Then we go about conducting an experiment or implementing the idea. I have no problem with that (other than some of the ideas are colossally stupid). Take the mask mandates. While it defies what we previously believed about masks, maybe wearing a piece of cloth over your mouth will make a difference? Well, we now have almost a year of data. This is the point in the experiment where you take a look at that data and decide if your hypothesis was correct. You are supposed to be a contrarian at this point. Did what I thought would happen, actually occur? If it did, are there other reasons why it could have? If you can say yes at this point, AND multiple independent other tests find the same result then you can call your finding an accepted theory. This is called basic science, dude. The problem is that we’re no longer allowed to ask the question. If you do, you’re a flat-earther. A science denier. So, did the mask mandates work? Take a look at this chart of Montana. Does this even remotely look like the mask mandate had any impact on the Covid case rate? Every other state looks identical. Even a fifth grader would look at that and conclude the masks had no impact. So why aren’t we asking that question? The truth is that we don’t know yet what’s driving the rise and fall of Covid cases. We were warned that Christmas and Thanksgiving gatherings would become super spreader events. They didn’t. We’ve had multi-hundreds of different implementations of lockdowns, distancing, restaurant and retail opening/closings, and in the big picture… the curve of Covid cases has been about the same in every state. Covid also caused the lowest level of greenhouse gas emissions since world war two. An unintentional test of the greenhouse gas/CO2 hypothesis. What happened? CO2 concentration in the atmosphere continued to rise, and in May reached the highest concentration in human history. A thinking person would either conclude that either the original hypothesis wasn’t correct, or that it’s not realistically possible to drive emission rates low enough to make a difference. But we can’t ask those questions. Being a contrarian is not subscribing to some wacky QAnon theory, it’s subscribing to actual science and asking questions. It’s a little frightening that group-think so dominates our life. Be a contrarian. Ask the questions.
  • Speaking of QAnon, the experts believe that today there will another mass uprising and attack on the capital. The house will not be in session today because of the extreme nature of these threats. Thank god we still have troops and razor wire surrounding the capital. We shall wait and see what the bad orange man’s virtual army will do. The capital police have asked for an increase in their budget of three quarters of a billion dollars. That’s a lot of money. They have 2,000 officers and guard two square miles. That’s roughly $3.1 million per officer. That doesn’t seem out of proportion at all, does it?
  • The outdoor chain REI did not make a profit in 2020 and will not offer a dividend this year. I’m sad/not sad. I don’t want to see any business go under because those jobs impact regular people. I also stopped supporting and shopping at REI in 2018. Which made me extra sad because I used to work there many moons ago. Why did I drop my support? Because they decided politics was more important than business. In 2018, in response to a shooting, REI decided to no longer carry products like Camelbak because they were owned by Vista Outdoor brands. Their crime? Vista Outdoors also own several shooting sports brands. I get that a corporation wants to have a conscious. I know that is important to some people. But there’s also a lot of folks who don’t want politics injected into everything. Woke corporations, musicians, Hollywood actors, athletes – I’m purchasing or watching you because of your particular skill at something, not your politics. Of course you have the right to be as vocal as you want about something. I also have the right to not shop your brand or watch your films because of that. I suppose we all have to decide how principled we want to be. Having now ranted about this, I also admit to being a hypocrite. I will go out of my way to fully support brands and people who like the same things I do. Sigh, humans are complicated creatures.
  • Yesterday I got the new ginormous motorcycle fully registered and licensed. The roads were dry and it was nearly 50 degrees. That meant I did my first real ride AND I wore the new fat Elvis suit for the first time. Whoowee, this thing is awesome! I’m in love. If you’ve never ridden before, there’s just something about being on a powerful motorcycle. Especially one as technologically advanced as this one. It makes mediocre riders like me look good. If all that wasn’t enough, we also managed to find Mrs Troutdog a new motorcycle yesterday as well. She’ll be able to hit the road with me soon! Well… as soon as she overcomes the fear of the freeway anyway.

Song of the day: ZZ Top – I Gotsta Get Paid

Put Up Or Shut Up

  • I went downhill skiing yesterday. Nothing remarkable about that (it was a gorgeous bluebird day!), as I ski a lot. The issue is that I couldn’t button my ski pants. The waist expansion has been slowly increasing all winter long and has finally reached crisis levels. I’ve said it before, I feel like I’m a reasonably active guy for my age. Maybe a touch above average in the activity level department, so burning calories isn’t the issue. The problem is that my food intake is out of control and massively outpaces what I can burn. I can’t help myself. I know I can lose weight because I’ve done it before. Unfortunately for me dieting is just like the old joke about stopping smoking: “quitting smoking is easy, I’ve done it dozens of times”. I can be super disciplined once I get started. It’s the getting started part that’s the issue. I’ve been meaning to “get started” any day now for months. I officially can’t stand myself any longer. Having to suck in my gut to get my ski pants on was the last straw. I have an additional motivation (as if general health isn’t enough) in that I have this ginormous new motorcycle that I’m going to have to pick up at some point. I honestly don’t know if I’m strong enough right now. That could be an issue on a remote trail by myself. So, operation senior fitness begins today. A buddy has been bugging me to sign up for a trail running event in the fall and I’ve been pretty resistant. I’m still not thrilled at the idea, but I will commit as an incentive to be consistent with my running this summer. I’ll dust off the garage gym and actually start using it. Since I’m now a part time employee, it’s not like I don’t have the time (I hate not having excuses). Which leaves me with the crux of the issue – diet. At the end of the day it still comes down to expending more calories than you consume. Sigh. I wish I didn’t like to eat and drink so much. Realistically I do better with stark changes rather than attempting to ease into something. So I guess I’ll just have to follow Jocko Willink’s advice yesterday morning (sound up).
  • Filed in the WTF department, the Biden administration has decided to ban some Dr Seuss books due to concerns about “racial undertones”. I’d like to laugh, but these people are serious. What I find most concerning is that with everything currently going on in the country and world, THIS is something that someone in the administration actually put time and thought into? Really? Worrying that there may racial issues with a beloved set of children’s books? WTF is wrong with these people?
  • Barak Obama entered the Whitehouse with a net worth of about a million dollars, mostly from book advances. Four years after leaving the presidency his estimated net worth is $70 million. Last year they bought a $15 million dollar beachfront property in Martha’s Vineyard. He’s done pretty well since his days as a community organizer. I have no point to this other than politics sure pays pretty well.
  • This article is an interesting look at potential corruption with the IAFF (International Association of Fire Fighters) union and the Muscular Dystrophy Association charity. I don’t really care, other than it helps illustrate my distrust of unions that I mentioned the other day. When you’re talking about tens of millions of dollars and a $2 million dollar Washington DC headquarters across from the Whitehouse… I’m not sure the unions first focus is simply the wellbeing of its members.
  • Here’s a cartoon illustration of actual climate predictions made by actual climate experts. I’m sure this time they’re right though. The climate crisis is clearly the most existential crisis of our lifetime. Hmmm, ok.
  • A list of actual clever design ideas.

Song of the day: The Smashing Pumpkins – Zero (Official Music Video)

Chapters In A Book

  • Have you read many really good books with only one chapter? Probably not. Those chapters serve the same purpose as scene changes in a good movie. Some are longer or shorter than others, but at some point the scene needs to change or your mind wanders and you get bored. It takes extraordinary skill to keep a long running movie scene with lots of dialog interesting. Quentin Tarantino comes to mind. Get it right and it’s brilliant. Get it wrong and it’s a 40% on rotten tomatoes. Life is pretty much like that. Hopefully you get to the end with many interesting chapters. What amazes me is how many people are afraid to turn to the next chapter. They cling to the current chapter, trying to prolong it, hoping it will remain just as good as when it started. I think the trick to being content with your life is knowing when to turn the page. Remember way back in junior high and high school? Every new event in your life was hyper exaggerated. Your clique no longer wanting to eat at the same lunch table, or having to change schools was earth shatteringly devastating. I think in part it was because at that young age you couldn’t fathom that your life will be filled with many chapters, so you desperately tried to hold on to a particular moment and pray it wouldn’t change. It’s funny how some people never evolve past that. They cling to their current chapter, prolonging the page turn until long after the dialog and scene becomes stale. Of course you don’t want to go too far the other way – life is not a race to the end. Speed reading may get you there faster, but did you really appreciate what you read? As you get older and wiser, hopefully you learn to appreciate the good and bad chapters in your life, but not dwell on them. There’s always another chapter, as long as you’re willing to turn the page.
  • Sticking with the same theme, one of my three regular readers wrote some wise words the other day about our working lives. Essentially there are three milestones in your career; the first job; course changes; and the best – ending it. Permanent summer vacation! Worth reading the full comment.
  • Last year when about 220,000 people had died from COVID-19, Joe Biden said that “anyone who’s responsible for that many deaths should not remain as president of the United States of America.” He also said that they would have a plan ready on day one to combat the virus. Well, there’s been 100,000+ deaths since he took office. Let’s see if I’m doing this right – Joe Biden is now responsible for one fifth of all Covid deaths. Sigh. The political gotcha game is tiring.
  • Speaking of political narratives, Trump said in an interview yesterday, “I said, I think you should 10,000… I definitely gave the number of 10,000 national guardsmen. I think you should have 10,000 of the national guard ready. They took that number, from what I understand, and they gave it to the people at the Capitol – which is controlled by Pelosi – and I heard they rejected it because it didn’t look good.” So if true, and Trump actually requested the national guard and Pelosi rejected it, that should be a pretty damming blow to the speaker. Unfortunately the press won’t pursue it, so there’s really no point. It’s very disheartening to constantly see how one-sided the public narrative is. For example, the same press that spent the last year fawning over their media darling Cuomo, are now being very reluctantly dragged into exposing him for the asshat he really is. The sad reality about the media is that they are only pursuing it because they have no choice after championing the #MeToo movement. Sucks when one of your own gets caught up in it. CNN posted about halfway down their home page “Cuomo says he’s ‘sorry’ for comments and agrees to independent attorney to review accusations”. Wow. There’s a blistering condemnation.
  • I’m very frustrated with technology. It’s looking like neither Android Auto or Apple Car Play support following a custom route. For example, with Google Maps or Bing Maps I can create a custom route with waypoints, markers, etc… save it as .gpx file and download it to a GPS or simply follow it via Google maps. Android Auto and Car Play only allow you to navigate to a single destination – which will always try to route you the shortest distance. This does me no good since I want to travel via byways primarily. Travel by Interstate and you’ll miss the worlds largest ball of string, the Emu museum, and all the cool ghost towns. It’s like they’ve designed navigation solely for people commuting and Uber drivers. My search for the right navigation system continues…
  • This is a hilarious HP ad from 2015. Pre Covid, working from home, Zoom meetings, custom backgrounds, etc… Could you imaging going back and telling them just how prescient they were? I’m not sure even they’d believe you.

Song of the day: Alesso – Nillionaire (Original Mix)