Category: Government

You Don’t Need To Know

While there may be some exceptions, for the most part I don’t believe people in power are inherently evil. I honestly don’t think politicians and CEO’s have malicious intentions. I do think that people in power become so wrapped up in their own bubble and authority they lose sight of the big picture.

For example, take the mayor of my little city. At the beginning of the pandemic, public officials were panicking. For that I don’t blame them. The “experts” were publishing dire information and basically we were all going to die. Our mayor never actually made any tough decisions, only echoed whatever the state and CDC did. Three or so weeks after shutting down all private businesses, the grumblings from the citizenry started. The cities economy was cratering and job loses were huge. On several occasions, via an online forum, I asked the mayor what metrics the city would use to open back up? I received two answers. The first was “the city will follow the guidance of the health district, state, and CDC”. The second was “all our data is posted to the heath district’s web site” (it wasn’t).

Two complete non-answers. So either the mayor had no idea, or she didn’t want to be held to specific numbers in a rapidly shifting scenario. Either way, as a person in a position of authority she decided that as mere citizens we didn’t need to know what the governments plan or thought process was. She single handedly shut down private businesses and then wouldn’t be transparent about when they could open back up again. I think it’s easy for people in positions of power to get all wrapped up in the feeling of we’re doing what’s best for the public, so they don’t really need to know the details. Like parents telling a ten year old “because I said so, that’s why”.

The ultimate example is to watch any president’s press secretary give a briefing. Every single word is parsed and nuanced. Nothing is said that doesn’t advance the political messaging. The people rarely get to see or hear anything resembling reality. Are these people evil? No. But they are so caught up in their power and authority they’ve completely lost sight of the fact that they work for us. Or that’s the theory anyway.

The private sector is no different. I’ve been watching an interesting development with a YouTube channel I subscribe to. This channel has half a million subscribers and suddenly was removed from the partner program, which means it can no longer monetize the videos. No explanation, no warning, nothing. The channel creator has no idea why his channel was removed. The worst part is that once removed from the partner program you also lose all means of contact with YouTube. He has no way to actually contact them to try and find out what he’d done wrong. Now, Google is a private company and they can do whatever they want. But it is certainly the ultimate in power and authority when a company has the opinion they can treat their customers any way they want and feels no obligation to offer any explanation. I’m sure they justify it internally under the guise of “protecting” us vulnerable members of the public from something harmful. (see also, Twitter) Irony in full bloom from the company who’s slogan once was “Don’t be evil”.

I have little point to this other than to remind you that you probably shouldn’t accept anything the government, experts, or most authority figures tell you at face value. Timothy Leary in the ’60’s had it right with his slogan “Question Authority”. As this last year has proven time and time again… they are most likely wrong, lying, obscuring, or hiding the truth. But it’s ok – it’s for your own good.

The Ex Post Facto Study

  • As humans, we really like passing new laws, creating processes and procedures, and establishing new rules to solve the problems we’re experiencing. What we don’t do a very good job of is any sort of analysis of our newly created bureaucracy to see if it actually did anything useful. Laws and processes, once created, tend to stick around forever. For example at the start of the pandemic that shall not be named for fear of woke xenophobia, my hospital started a screening process for anyone entering. They purchased fancy stand alone scanners that let me scan my badge and take my temperature. I never use it because I have to log into it the night before (a software system the hospital had to purchase), answer the same stupid four questions, and then the next morning my temperature never registers with the automated machine because I just walked across the parking lot in 40 degree temps. The backup to the automated station is an employee who asks the questions, manually checks my temp (which still fails), and then gives me a sticker to put on my badge to “prove” I’ve been screened that day. When the ‘rona started everyone was panicking and I’m sure this process seemed reasonable at the time. It’s been in place for quite awhile now, so a retrospective study seems appropriate. Has this system actually “caught” any cases of Corona? I doubt it. How many people with 104 degree temps and difficulty breathing actually go to work or randomly show up to visit aunt Sally in the hospital? Or, they are asymptomatic and would have passed the screening anyway. Naturally the in-person screeners are only going through the motions at this point. I walk up say “no changes”, they try to scan my temp for 0.2 seconds, I grab my sticker and go. So in retrospective, is it worth continuing this? What made me think of this was something Grandpa Joe said during his weird state of the union speech last night. He dredged up the standard we need more gun laws rhetoric, saying we need to ban ghost guns and pass universal background checks. Ignoring what drivel that is for the moment, this seems like a prime opportunity for a retrospective study. We have tons of historical data in the form of crimes committed with guns. If we looked backwards and applied the new proposed laws, how many of those crimes would have been prevented? e.g. how many shootings have occurred with “ghost guns”? How many people went through some sort of firearm purchase at a flea market or gun show, bypassed a background check, and then went on to commit a crime? It seems pretty simple to look backwards to see if something would work moving forward. But that assumes you actually want the answer.
  • Spell check is a wonderous thing. Without it my writing would look like a five year old’s. Spell check elevates it to at least sixth or seventh grade. But the problem with spell check is you have to be roughly in the ballpark for it to give a suggestion. Take for example “bureaucracy”. I don’t think I’ve ever gotten it right first time. Unfortunately I never even get close enough for spell check to offer a helpful hint. I end up Googling things to stumble across the right spelling. Which brings me to my new phone. I like using the “swype” keyboard rather than entering in individual letters. The default swype implementation on the old Pixel phone was marvelous. I only had to get semi-close to the actual letters and it somehow knew what I was trying to type. It often had the correct contextual suggestions for the next word and the next word… magical. Samsung’s implementation on the other hand is very disappointing and more often than not I have to go back and type everything out. Sigh. I know you can download other swype keyboards, but that would take actual effort.
  • I violated my newly vowed rule to simply pay a professional to install things rather than me spending 10x the amount of time to do the same thing. I got some parts for the new ginormous motorcycle but the idea of waiting for an appointment and then paying someone $75 an hour to do what I should be able to do just killed me. And sure enough… two and a half full afternoons, many expletives, phone calls to customer support, and two new one-time use tools and everything is installed. But at least I feel good about my manliness. Cue Tim the toolman grunt.
  • This past weekend was very rainy and outdoor stuff wasn’t an option. I was bored and decided to conduct research and do an actual experiment. I’ve been needing a navigation solution (long story) for the backcountry while on the motorcycle. I wanted to use my phone rather than purchase a $600+ GPS device. I ended up spending the better part of a day researching options, downloading software, creating routes and maps, and really learning the systems. And the pièce de résistance, I created three custom routes and then went out and drove them to see which system performed the best. An actual experiment. I am a dork of huge proportions. But, at the end of the day I think I have a system that’s going to work.
  • I don’t think there’s much to say about the weird state of the union last night. Grandpa Joe is not a gifted orator. For all his flaws and ignoring content, Obama could deliver a good speech (as long as the teleprompter was working). Clinton too. For speechmaking ability I’d rank the presidents in the following order: Obama, Reagan, Clinton, Bush 43, Bush 41, Biden. As far as content goes, all SOTU speeches are stupid. They’re long whish lists of crap that never gets done. If you’re a fan of everything big government, you loved Biden’s speech. If you’re a minimalist government type, it was abhorrent. I don’t think there was much in the middle for this one.
  • I’m going to ride the ginormous motorcycle a fair number of hours north today, then come back on Saturday. Sort of a pre-travel trial run. I’m waiting for my soft luggage panniers to arrive and then all the pieces will be in place to hit the road! Interesting how much effort, planning, and research it’s taken to be able to experience the “freedom” of the road. LOL.

Song of the day: Sugar Ray Fly 1997

I Need Me Some Ketones

  • Breaking a cycle of behavior is hard. Probably one of the hardest things we face as humans. It doesn’t matter if it’s diet, an abusive relationship, gambling, or wearing jorts with crocs. Making a personal behavior change sucks. Very few of us are actually successful at it. The diet relapse rate after three years is 95%, regardless of diet type. Think about that. It doesn’t matter what type of weight loss plan you choose, only 5% of folks will maintain that weight loss after three years. That’s a pitiful success rate. There’s a reason the diet and fitness business is a gazillion dollar industry. Count me in that statistic. I have been successful multiple times getting down to close to high school weight and being reasonably fit. And then I relapse and things go south in a hurry. I think the key is that as humans, we want instant gratification. I’ll do whatever it takes to see progress now. Seeing any progress fuels a positive reinforcement cycle and you are motivated to continue. Insane workouts, starving yourself, crazy cabbage soup diets, anything to keep seeing some progress. The problem is that most of what we’re doing isn’t sustainable in the long term. Who wants to accept that they’ll never be able to eat a French fry again in their life? Which brings me to ketones. I’m going to do what I just rallied against. A ketogenic diet is what has helped me lose weight in the past. At the moment, I can’t stand myself so I’m going back to what I know. There’s nothing magical about keto. Keto in itself will not make you lose weight any faster than any other diet. For me, I find it so restrictive that it’s hard to exceed a daily calorie budget and therefore I end up losing weight fairly rapidly. I happen to believe that there are a number of other benefits to becoming fat adapted, but most of them are also achievable by simply losing weight – regardless of the diet choice. So for me it’s really about finding something that keeps me on my calorie target. I don’t care what crap you read, weight loss can only occur in the presence of a caloric deficit. Period. So, I started a few days ago and officially entered ketosis (just barely, at 0.9 mmol/L per blood ketone test). I feel good about that and am motivated to keep it going. Knowing me (and most people) if I can sustain this for a couple weeks I’ll be golden. It becomes a routine and I’ll be happily zooming down the weight loss road. Here’s the problem. That last time I went keto it lasted for a little over a year, with no cheating. And then I hit a wall. My craving for bread, pasta, potatoes, and beer went into overdrive. I told myself I’d do a short cycle off of keto, but maintain calorie counts and then go back on keto. A year or so later and I’m eating everything in sight and put all the weight back on. So I’ll have to find something that’s sustainable long term. I don’t know what that is yet, but I can’t let these cycles continue. I’m at an age where it’s just not healthy or achievable. I honestly wish I didn’t like food. I’d like to think I could just pop a few pills (or the tasty wheat scene from the Matrix) and be done. Sigh. Oh, but nachos. Nachos… I’d be very sad if I thought that I’d never have nachos again.
  • Interesting side note for folks interested in keto and becoming fat adapted. I do think your body remembers. The first time I went keto it took weeks to get into ketosis. The next time was quicker. This time, after more than a year off it took only about two days. And this was after a major carb blow out the night before I started. There’s a ton of hype around keto that seems to be highly blown out of proportion. But I do think that a fat adapted eating cycle was what our ancestors were forced into and that somewhere deep down in our DNA, we remember.
  • So nutjob representative Maxine Waters decided to fly to Minneapolis and try to incite violence. Not her first go-round with this tactic. She made several statements… she demanded a guilty verdict for the former officer “or else.” She called for people to “stay in the streets” during the unrest. She on protesters to “get more confrontational” if former cop Derek Chauvin is acquitted of murder charges in George Floyd’s death. At least she’s not inciting an insurrection on the capitol. This will be ignored by most of the press and she’ll happily keep her congressional seat. Anyway, that’s not the story. The best part of this latest stunt? She called for a police escort in and out of the city. It’s hard to fathom the hypocrisy of some of these people.
  • Speaking of hypocrisy, Michigan Gov. Whitmer appears to have travelled to Florida after blaming travelers for a spike in Covid cases in her state. Why is it that elites and the holier than thou folks issuing edicts never seem to follow their own rules? Clearly rules are for the little people.
  • My state has experienced an incredibly windy March and April. I hate the wind. Everyone is talking about it. Even the weather folks are joking to not blame them each day for the continued wind forecasts. I started questioning myself if we’re really getting more wind than usual or is it just a false impression. Yesterday I had a patient’s family member confirm the wind for me. The family member said they work with farmers and are getting many reports that farmers are unable to spray their fields (pesticides, fertilizers, etc…) due to the wind. They’re predicting a disaster growing season. So, not my imagination. Dear <deity of your choice>, please make the wind stop.
  • Twitter can be an incredibly nasty place that will kill any positive energy and make you want to give up on society as a whole. Therefore it’s imperative that you follow an equal number of happy accounts. Please follow Buitengebieden. You won’t be disappointed.

Song of the day: What day is it? Sublime Smoke Two Joints Music Video

I Don’t Know, But I’ve Been Told

  • GIGO. Garbage In, Garbage Out. If you haven’t heard that expression before, it’s an old-school programing adage. Your belief systems are a product of the inputs you consume. Consistently consume information from just one source and that’s what you’ll believe. A recent, annual, survey that focuses on false beliefs broken down by political ideology, gender, etc… illustrates this. The questions ranged from Covid, race, gender, and the climate. Biden voters had false beliefs 61% of the time, while Trump voters were wrong 42% of the time. If you consume your information solely from CNN, MSNBC, Facebook, and like minded Twitter follows, then of course you’ll have a skewed vision of the world. The same is true of Fox, but per the survey to a lesser degree. Take for example the recent expose of CNN by Project Veritas. Oh, you didn’t hear about it? That’s because there’s zero coverage of it on CNN, MSNBC, Politico, and Twitter permanently banned Veritas’ account. Veritas published video footage of a CNN technical director saying the networks focus was to get Trump out of office. “Look what we did, we got Trump out. I am 100 percent going to say it, and I 100 percent believe that if it wasn’t for CNN, I don’t know that Trump would have got voted out. … I came to CNN because I wanted to be a part of that,” Chester stated. He then said, “[COVID] will taper off to a point that it’s not a problem, anymore. Climate change can take years, so [CNN will] probably be able to milk that quite a bit. … Climate change is going to be the next COVID thing for CNN. … Fear sells.” You would think “The most trusted name in news” getting caught talking about pushing a specific social/political agenda might be a story. The fact that it’s not even mentioned by the major outlets speaks volumes. This really shouldn’t be a surprise, but clearly a large percentage of people take whatever the news media says as gospel. Hear it often enough and it starts to become a core part of your beliefs. The goal of the School Of Contrarianism is not to claim what I say is correct. I’m probably full of shit 38.4% of the time according to the latest surveys. The goal is to get you to question. Question everything. Just because some 23 year old “journalist” did a copy/paste of an AP story and then added their own opinions to give the story some “depth” doesn’t make it correct. We’ve gone from the 1960’s Timothy Leary/counterculture slogan “Question Authority” to becoming mindless lemmings of corporate wokeness. Ever see the movie The Truman Show? That’s us today. We’re all stars of the show, only we don’t know it. (P.S, lemmings don’t really jump off cliffs and commit mass suicide. Boom, mind blown.)
  • Speaking of blindly following a narrative, the Biden administration continues to give focus to the cult of global warming. Here’s a good place to start practicing your path down Contrarianism (TM). In the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) the Monthly Energy Review, they report that energy-related CO2 emissions decreased by 11% in the United States in 2020 primarily because of the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and related restrictions. Furthermore, U.S. energy-related CO2 emissions fell in every end-use (consumer) sector for the first time since 2012. We had a record reduction in CO2 emissions, so we have the first actual laboratory experiment to see what happens with CO2 in the atmosphere. Remember, reduction of CO2 in the atmosphere is the entire goal of the green new deal that’s supposed to save us from this existential threat. So what happened? Nothing. Zero change in atmospheric CO2. Not even a blip. Meanwhile, China’s Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Le Yucheng on Friday said, “Some countries are asking China to do more on climate change. I am afraid this is not very realistic”. On Wednesday President Biden’s climate czar, John Kerry, admitted Wednesday that the US reducing its emissions to zero wouldn’t make much of a difference in the global climate change fight. Yet we’re moving forward on a $2 trillion climate agenda. How does this even make sense? As a junior Contrarian, start questioning this sort of crap.
  • The Minneapolis City Council has voted 11-1 to oppose the use of tear gas and other munitions as part of Minnesota’s response to civil disorder. Closing arguments in the Chauvin trial start Monday. I’ma gonna grab my popcorn for this one. I’m sure Minneapolis will come out just fine from all this. A few mostly peaceful protesters and some bad words shouted. It’ll all be good.
  • You should read this letter from a parent who’s pulling his kid out of an expensive private school. We’re creating an entire generation of mindless lemmings (I can’t help but perpetuate this lemming myth). I’m reminded of a meme I saw the other day that speaks truth. “Hard times create strong men. Strong men create good times. Good times create weak men. Weak men create hard times”. Sorry for the blatant cisgendering stereotyping. If I’ve insulted your personhood and cosmic aura, I apologize.
  • I decided to install a part on the ginormous motorcycle yesterday. I was going to have the dealership do it, but it kills me to pay someone to do what I’m (mostly) capable of. It took half a day, one trip to the auto parts store for a specialized tool, several skinned knuckles, many four letter words, and watching a how-to video approximately thirty times before I realized there was a specific orientation to get the parts to fit. I should have just gone to the dealership. Do you think I’ve learned my lesson? Probably not. As Forest Gump says, “I’m not a smart man”.

Song of the day: Fatboy Slim – The Rockafeller Skank

It’s Either One, Or The Other

  • The other day Tucker Carlson went on the air and made some crazy, outlandish, QAnon fueled statement about the Covid vaccines. The high priest of Covid, Dr. Fauci, immediately ran to CNN and expressed confusion as to why Tucker would be pushing conspiracy theories like that. CNN offered a helpful headline stating “Carlson suggested Covid-19 vaccines are not effective”. Except that’s not what he said. He asked a very simple question which you should also be asking. Either the vaccine works and we no longer need to wear masks and keep businesses shut down, or the vaccines don’t really work and so why is the government continuing to push them? It’s a pretty simple binary question. They can’t both be true. So which one is it? Most thinking people realize that vaccines do work. So why is Fauci and everyone in the Whitehouse continuing to wear masks? For god’s sake, Fauci and Biden double mask most of the time. Why? I’ve said it before… it’s an easy answer if you think about it. Mask mandates, social distancing, and keeping schools and businesses shut down can’t be enforced if you allow vaccinated people to be free. Anyone can just say they’re vaccinated and not wear a mask and we have no way to prove that. Oh, wait. What if we had some sort of paper people could carry around proving they’ve been vaccinated? Almost like a passport of some sort. Why do we continue to put up with this crap? This is doublespeak in it’s truest form.
  • Also on Tucker last night was one of his best monologs. I’d highly encourage you to watch it. He raises the question of unequal treatment in police shootings. On Jan 6th Ashli Babbitt was shot in the throat, from behind, by a Capital police officer. She died. She clearly wasn’t an imminent threat to anyone and was actually moving away from the officer who shot her. In the video you see a handful of SWAT officers just standing there, so they clearly weren’t concerned about their safety. The person who recorded the video had his door kicked in several days ago, all electronics seized, and he was arrested. The DOJ announced they’ve cleared the officer in the shooting, no charges will be filed. They still won’t release the officers name. Why? Meanwhile in Minnesota, an officer accidently pulls her service weapon rather than her taser and kills a young black man. Her name and picture are instantly plastered all over the news, mobs are at her house, manslaughter charges are filed, and the predictable riots ensue. Why the unequal treatment? Why is the Capital police officer seemingly exempt from the same treatment as the Minnesota officer? Where are the mainstream journalists asking these questions?
  • (Vice) President Harris has been put in charge of the migrant/border problem. Wait, not the actual current problem but the broader long term problem. Whatever. The good news is that she immediately had a press conference to discuss her plans for addressing the issue. Oh wait, no she hasn’t held a press conference since her appointment as long term border crisis mitigation czar. She did announce that she has no plans to visit our border. But Harris did tell reporters Wednesday that she was “looking forward to traveling, hopefully as my first trip, to the Northern Triangle,” with stops in Mexico and Guatemala planned. She said she would go as soon as possible, depending on restrictions put in place for the pandemic. A responsible leader always follows pandemic restrictions. Since she won’t be traveling abroad, she has some time on her schedule which she filled with a trip to a “woman owned yarn store”. I’ll leave you with a quote from the Washington Post, written by an actual reporter. “When Vice President Harris visited a woman-owned yarn shop in Alexandria last month, she mentioned a little-known fact about herself that left the fiber arts community a bit giddy. The new vice president is a crocheter.” Hold me, I’m swooning. I wish I could say this was satire.
  • The new ginormous motorcycle is due for it’s first 600 mile service. On my old bike I did all my own maintenance. But just like with older cars vs newer ones, this bike has more electronics than the space shuttle. I wouldn’t even know where to start. So, it’s off to the dealership for service. Except that the service department is booked out for a month. Sigh. Yet more evidence that my little town is exploding in population exponentially. I know it’s inevitable and you can’t stop it, but it’s still sad to see.
  • This post has been entirely negative, so I may as well keep up with the theme. I present you instructions on how to disable the robotic police dog that is starting to be used by several departments, including NYPD. Robotic police dogs. What could possibly go wrong?

Song of the day: Marilyn Manson – The Beautiful People (Official Video)

Weekend At Bernie’s

Clinton, Bush, Obama, Trump. I don’t care what you thought of them personally. I don’t care what you thought of their policies or political bent. What is undisputable is that all of these men were leaders. Type A CEO’s. When they came into a room it was clear who was in charge. You cannot with a straight face tell me that Grandpa Joe falls into that same category. Yesterday’s press conference was an embarrassment. The few answers he actually gave he read directly from prepared notes given to him. When he tried to speak extemporaneously he wandered off on tangents and lost track of what he was saying or what point he was trying to make. The hand picked press core (complete with a handy dandy cheat sheet. With pictures!) were complicit in this farce by lobbing a few softballs at him. A stark difference from a Trump press conference. I have two thoughts about this disaster.

The first is an observation about the reaction on social media and by the press. I have a fair number of links to fairly liberal folks on social media. The last year (and more) my feeds have been inundated with a non-stop barrage of Orange Man Bad postings. Daily I’d see postings from various friends lamenting the outrage of the day that Trump had committed and dear god will we ever return to a time when we had a “real” president? Well… that time, in theory, is now. And what do I see on my social medias? Nothing. Crickets. Radio silence. I expected to see never ending, nausea inducing, praise of how eloquent, smart, and serious a president Biden is. I was sure I’d see non-stop memes comparing how well Biden is doing vs Trump. There’s nothing. It’s refreshing, but I find it odd the folks so desperate for him to win are so quiet. CNN, as of this morning, did not have a single story about the press conference on the top of their site. I find that strange. Where are all the liberals singing the daily praise of Biden?

My second thought is one I’ve posited before. Given that Grandpa Joe is clearly not in charge, who is? Who’s really running the show at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave? It’s not Kamala, she came to the game late and was selected by whoever’s in charge. Is it Klain the chief of staff? That would make the most sense since he was a long time “senior advisor” during the campaign. Is it Susan Rice? Perhaps it’s a coalition of them plus the DNC brass and Obama in the background? Doesn’t it seem like something the public should know?

Independent of “who’s in charge” I do find in odd that there’s almost zero coverage of the overall White House staff and cabinet. During the Trump administration there was wall to wall coverage of virtually every member of the administration and how evil/incompetent/racist/etc… they were. Many in the administration were household names. Now, I’d wager that many of you had never heard the name Klain or even knew that Susan Rice was part of the administration. I bet, until the China meeting gone bad, you had no idea who the new Secretary of State was. Why is that? The only reporting seems to be around the edges, mostly centered on the diversity aspect of some rarely seen cabinet post.

No, I don’t think it’s some giant conspiracy. I simply think it’s a press corps that’s reluctant to give negative coverage to team Biden. They tread carefully around the edges and don’t press too hard so they can tell themselves they’re providing fair and equal coverage. Maybe that’s for the best. If the majority of the public loses confidence in their government, bad things tend to happen. The most worrisome part of this, in my opinion, is that world leaders respond to strength and confidence. They will take advantage and exploit any signs of weakness, as bullies and strong nations are prone to do. We will be tested. Who is going to make the decisions about how we respond? Two months in and this administration has been already been steamrolled and/or thrown shade by China, Russia, North Korea, and Mexico. We finally wheeled out our President in an attempt to show he’s mentally sharp and in command. What came across is that he’s a confused old man who clearly does not belong there. This does not bode well. The next four years do not fill me with confidence. But hey, at least we will have sorted out the proper pronouns and saved the climate!

My Little Town Has Changed

  • When we first moved to our little town the population was 242,000. Not small, not too big. Just the right size to have some culture; a university, theater, museums, great restaurants, and a few larger employers. Not so big that we had traffic, crowds, and all the other blight that comes with bigger towns. Today our population has grown to 455,000 and much of that in just the last few years. People are fleeing the big cities in droves looking for a better quality of life. I can’t blame them. As cities grow the small problems become big ones and quickly become unsolvable. And that’s exactly what we’re facing here. I can’t blame people for wanting to move here, as that’s what we did. But the common refrain you hear from us longer term residents is “don’t bring your California attitudes”. And sadly, that seems to be what’s happening. Although I don’t know if it’s specifically due to California, but more likely just a facet of increased population. Traffic has increased dramatically. Just in the last year or so I now have to check what time it before getting on the road so I don’t get caught in commute traffic. People used to happily let you merge and it wasn’t uncommon to see a tractor driving on the road. Now it’s road rage time. Nobody lets you merge and frustrated tailgating is common. I’m starting to see graffiti pop up all around town. The homeless problem and panhandling is now noticeable. Property taxes are skyrocketing and there are now bidding wars on any houses that go up for sale. We’ve talked about downsizing, but we couldn’t afford to buy even a smaller house or condo now. There was no such thing as a lift line at our local ski resort, and now it looks like some of the Tahoe crowds on the weekend. It gets hard to find parking at local trailheads and the number of clueless people on the trails is discouraging. We used to be able to walk downtown on a Friday or Saturday night and go to just about any restaurant. Now, reservations are mandatory and parking is a challenge. Crime is becoming an issue. Just last night there was a shooting at the university, something that would be unheard of when we first moved here. I’m honestly not complaining, I understand it’s the nature of an ever swelling US/world population. That growth isn’t going to stop and all those people will continue to look for something better. With the current push (and ability) to work from home, the exodus from big cities will only increase. It just makes me a little sad. It’s hard to see your town change. Maybe someday we’ll escape and go find a new small town, but I doubt it. The older you get the harder change becomes. Meanwhile I’ll look back fondly at that brief moment in time when our town was just the perfect size. Oh my god, I’ve become one of those people – “I remember when…”
  • I may or may not have solved the Android Auto issue with the ginormous motorcycle. I decided the other day that the problem was the USB connection on the phone. It’s always been a little loose (it’s a really old phone) and I think what’s been happening is that the connection comes loose with the vibration from the motorcycle and then Android Auto disconnects. This is a pain because on a motorcycle you have to pull over and fiddle with your tank bag to reconnect the phone. I started the research into a new phone and then stumbled on a new bug being reported with the latest release of Android Auto. When the charging reaches 100%, Android Auto disconnects from the head unit. It’s a known and well documented issue. Well… I never bothered to look at what my charging level was when I pulled over to reconnect. Sigh. Apparently more research is needed. How did people even travel without smartphones?
  • Suddenly ski season is reaching a close. We’re down to just a handful of weeks left. This is point at which I panic and wish I’d done more skiing this season. I shall now commence to ignore most responsibilities for the next few weeks so I can ski. It’s not my fault… I need to maximize my ski passes. Every additional day I go reduces the cost per day from what I paid for the pass. We’d be losing money if I don’t ski!
  • Speaking of changing seasons, I put shorts on the other day to go to the driving range. It’s time to start chasing that silly white ball around the course again. I don’t know how it happened, but my shorts somehow shrunk. I could barely get the top button fastened. Dammit. Operation senior fitness needs to really kick into gear soon.
  • While on the subject of eating, I committed a blasphemy. I cooked baby back ribs in the oven. Gasp! The barbeque gods may smite me down. Anyway, they turned out pretty darn good. Not smoker good, but decent. Don’t tell anyone, but I’m not opposed to doing them that way again.
  • I wonder if Biden has recovered enough from his teleprompter speech to come out of his room yet? Still no sign of an actual press conference or state of the union. Nah, that’s not strange at all. Meanwhile, gas prices are skyrocketing, the crisis on the border is getting worse by the day, and the administration is starting to talk about tax increases. Yeah, didn’t see any of this coming. The longer we go without an appearance, the more the press will become restless and less amenable to keeping their questions to what flavor of ice cream the president prefers. I honestly don’t know if Biden has the ability to field non-scripted questions for any length of time without committing a serious gaffe or becoming hostile. It’s hard to decide which is better, a puppet being run by an unseen group, or a President Harris? Y’all could have had Tulsi. Just saying.

Song of the day: Kid Rock – Bawitdaba – 7/24/1999 – Woodstock 99 East Stage (Official)

How Does One Percent Sound?

  • 0.5%. That’s a pretty small percentage. If you didn’t see it, the CDC just released their study of mask mandates and Covid case and death rate growth. Since masks are the universal cure-all for Covid, you’d think this study’s results would be touted far and wide across the media. I would have expected at least a 5-15% reduction, maybe 20%. You probably didn’t see it though. Why? The results showed a 0.5% reduction in case rates during the first 20 days. A 1.5% reduction after 80 days. These numbers fall within the margin of error, which means that just about anything could have accounted for the reduction they saw. The study lists a whole host of things that they did not control for that may have impacted the results such as physical distancing, business closures, ventilation, etc… So, the accepted authority on masking still can’t point to any actual data that shows masks have any impact whatsoever. No matter though. The high priest of Covid, Fauci, stated that data and evidence don’t matter. When Fauci, was asked “what’s the science” for denying vaccinated Americans a return to travel, he replied: “When you don’t have the data and you don’t have the actual evidence, you’ve got to make a judgment call.” Yo, science bro.
  • Speaking of science, Dr Atlas was universally hammered, mocked, and cancelled during his tenure as an advisor to the president. Worth reading his thoughts.
  • We have a leak. As I sit here there are multiple high powered fans attempting to dry out walls, ceilings, and floors. It’s like sitting in a hurricane. I can’t hear myself think and the dog hasn’t come out from his bed in two days. It’s truly frightening how fast a little bit of water can do a tremendous amount of damage. We’ve never had to navigate the bureaucracy of homeowners insurance claims before, so this should be interesting. I’m cynical and the only thing that comes to mind is the Seinfeld episode about car rental reservations. I have a feeling the insurance companies are very good at collecting your payment… paying out however? We’ll see.
  • The Pentagon has extended the national guard in DC for another two months. Those insurrectionists are tricky folks. They could pop up out of the bushes at any moment. Gotta be ready. I imagine the rioters have secret storage facilities where they’re passing out buffalo hats and zip ties as we speak. Boogaloo bois coming over the wire any time now.
  • Today they’ll pass another $2 trillion in spending. I don’t think much of it has anything to do with Covid, but who cares? I did see the unions will be happy. $86 billion to bail out failing pensions. You can argue if that’s a good or bad thing, but shouldn’t something like that be argued as it’s own entity? We don’t have any of this money, we have to borrow it from other nations. I heard something the other day that put it in perspective. It was in relation to foreign aid, but the principle is the same. Every time we give aid to a foreign nation, we first have to borrow it from another foreign nation, so we can turn around and distribute it to a different foreign nation. Crazy if you think about it that way. Since we’re already printing money, maybe we can print a few extra dollars so I can fix my leak.
  • I took the ginormous motorcycle out for it’s third official outing and made a little video that didn’t turn out too well. I have two technological challenges to overcome before I can begin my “summer of George”. The first is getting Android Auto working. I found the right cable and it works intermittently. The process is to sync the Bluetooth headset in my helmet to the bike, then plug in my phone and the motorcycle then launches Android Auto. It works briefly then shuts off. Twice the headset stopped pairing, and twice the phone was no longer connected. I am navigationally challenged, so getting this working is key. This is slightly ironic since I once taught a class on UTM and land navigation, but that’s a story for another day. The second issue is that while trying to record my travel the audio from my mic stops working. How am I going to become a huge YouTube star with no audio? Such first world problems.

Song of the day: Elle King – Ex’s & Oh’s (Official Video)

A Close Call

  • I took the new ginormous motorcycle out for its first long ride yesterday. I did an impromptu 100 miles to a couple of very small towns with populations of less than a thousand, rode through a snow covered canyon around a reservoir, then some high speed highway miles to get back home. The bike handles like a dream. The ride was at the very end of a busy day (hint, foreshadowing). I started out with some technological challenges. As I’ve mentioned before, the bike came with Apple Car Play installed. I’m an Android guy, so I was briefly faced with the thought of having to switch over to Apple. Fortunately they released an update supporting Android Auto a week ago. Yay for me! So, I went through the process of updating the bikes firmware. All seemed to go well except… Android Auto won’t connect to my phone. Sigh. After trying everything I could think of, I ran out of time and had to move on to other tasks. One of those tasks was part of operation senior fitness. I went for an honest to god trail run, which I haven’t done since last summer. Very discouraging since it felt like I was starting from scratch. Legs were very shaky and weak by the time I got home. More errands, and fast forward to the end of the day and it was time to ride! Now, if you haven’t ridden a motorcycle before it’s hard to appreciate how tiring it can be. It doesn’t matter how newfangled and fancy your bike is, it takes a toll. They’re heavy, you have constant buffeting of wind, noise, and you have to have a hundred percent focus at all times. It’s not like driving around in a car. On top of all that it’s a new bike, so I’m still trying to figure out all the buttons and ride characteristics. I certainly went into a few corners too fast or sometimes unsure of myself, not knowing how the bike would handle. Plus I’m a mediocre rider at best, even on the old bike I know well. I finished the ride with a high speed highway run which had my adrenaline up a bit. All that was left was a short ride through town and some stop and go city traffic. And sure enough, as a traffic light turned green the cars started moving forward, everyone suddenly came to a quick stop. I slammed the brakes and awkwardly put my foot down, but the bike began leaning over. Now keep in mind this is a very tall and heavy bike. As it leans, at some point it’s mass will be too great to hold unless you’re a world powerlifting champion. Which I most certainly am not. As the bike kept leaning and I started fighting to get it back upright, all I could feel was how shaky and weak my leg felt from the run earlier today and just how tired my body was from the ride. Time came to a standstill as I fought this massive machine. It felt like every car around me was watching this slow motion spectacle. At the last second I managed to win the war with gravity, and awkwardly lurched forward. My leg was quivering and I could feel all the muscles in my lower back. I don’t really remember the last few stoplights or the ride through the neighborhood before I got home. I’m going to drop the bike at some point, but my hope is that it’s in the dirt and due to technical terrain. That I can live with. Dropping it at a stoplight in traffic would be… well, I don’t want to think about it. Lesson learned – don’t ride when you’re tired and not hundred percent. I let my excitement and enthusiasm get the better of me. When I start traveling I’m going to have to remind myself to keep my daily mileage down and resist the urge to just push on to the next destination. Which is hard, because it’s just so damn fun to ride!
  • My brother in law finished his last patrol shift as a police officer in a big city yesterday and begins his retirement. I’m super proud of him. He had a great career and did everything from patrol, metro street crime enforcement, SWAT, and taught at the academy. He did everything right, and is the model of what you’d want in a police officer. Thank god he’s out. This is no longer an environment to be a police officer in. Every stop, people have their phones out waiting to capture something gone wrong. The chance of losing everything you worked your entire career for is high. You will be judged first and foremost by the court of social media. The city and police department certainly won’t back you up. And clearly the bad guys now feel empowered to attack officers with impunity. No matter what you do as an officer, you’ll lose. He made it out and can hold his head high. Congrats!
  • Meanwhile, in other law enforcement news, “ICE officials told staff today that the number of families and minors arriving at the border is expected to be highest in “over 20 years” and the government will use hotels in McAllen, El Paso and Phoenix if it runs out of space for families at ICE rapid-processing hubs “. Yeah, nobody saw this coming. Apparently it’s ok in the middle of a pandemic to let thousands of migrants cross the border. We haven’t even reached peak border crossing season (May/June). What could possibly go wrong?
  • I’ve said it before, but it’s getting increasingly difficult to not wonder who is actually running the administration? It’s clearly not Biden. The other day he had another embarrassing gaff in which at the end of a video call he said: “I’d be happy to take questions if that’s what I’m supposed to do, Nance,” Biden told Speaker Pelosi. “Whatever you want me to do.” They immediately cut the feed. It’s also starting to look very odd that there’s been zero talk of a state of the union speech. Because I’m a dork, I looked up the dates every president has given their first SOTU speech. The latest was January 31st by the first George Bush. It’s now March.
  • I finally finished the series Mr Robot. Fantastic. I love unique plots. We just started a new one (well, new to us), For All Mankind. We’re only a few episodes in, but really digging it so far.
  • I’m absolutely flabbergasted. Shocked. Jaw on the floor. The second great uprising by QAnon domestic insurgents that was supposed to take over the capitol yesterday… didn’t happen. Never mind, the capitol police asked yesterday that the national guard deployment be extended by several more months. I’m just happy that, after a brutal and hard fought campaign against these vicious insurgents, the D.C. National Guard has created a “Presidential Inauguration Support Ribbon” for the tens of thousands of Guard troops who deployed to the Capitol. You just can’t make this stuff up. Bronze stars for “sleeping in parking garages” or “eating undercooked chicken”. Sigh.

Song of the day: Big Head Todd & the Monsters Boom Boom

Good Paying Union Jobs

  • The other day at work I was suddenly told I had to go to a “labor law” class. They brought in additional workers to help cover shifts for an hour. All very confusing since they typically don’t spring for additional staff for anything. Anyway, the “class” consisted of someone from HR reading sections of the labor law act and telling us that unions rarely deliver on their promises. Ahhh… I get it now – suddenly the hospital is worried about union organizing. Sure enough, after consulting the official breakroom gossip pipeline it turns out that some folks are trying to spark some union organization. Also, the house just passed the PRO act which would undo states (like mine) right to work laws. Right now, even if a union forms at my hospital, it’s my choice to join or not. The PRO act would force me to join the union and pay dues as a condition of employment. Additionally the bill would force employers to turn over employees’ private information—including cell phone numbers, email addresses, and work schedules—to union organizers. Realistically I don’t think it has a chance of passing the senate, but you never know. I suddenly find myself conflicted about unions. In my previous life in the corporate world, I was stanchly anti-union. They tend to be massively corrupt, drive up manufacturing costs, and generally stand in the way of innovation, flexibility, and time to market. They’re ginormous political machines, lobbying to feed at the public trough. Look at the current ridiculousness with the teachers unions. Can you honestly tell me that they’re looking out for the best interest of the kids? It’s somehow safe for the poor schmuck at Walmart to go to work, but not for someone to stand in front of a handful of kids? As I’ve said previously, the way we teach kids has barely evolved in the last 50 years primarily due to teachers unions reluctance to change. But I digress… The hospital world is a mix of union and non-union. As a semi-libertarian, I’ve always believed in the free markets ability to set wages in response to availability and demand. I never thought about it much because my previous profession was one in extremely high demand and a very small labor pool. Wages were high. Other professions with a glut of applicants paid a much smaller wage. Fast forward and I find myself in the opposite scenario. My town has two hospitals. With very little competition, they have no incentive to pay higher wages. In a big city with many hospitals they do have to offer competitive wages. So at this late stage in my career, I would have said if a union can force higher wages or at least better patient ratios, fine by me. But then the China plague hit and I honestly don’t know how the hospital will stay in business. They’re hemorrhaging cash and have cancelled every capital improvement project that was on the books. It will be years before they recover. I don’t see how potential union demands right now helps anyone? Sigh. I don’t think there’s any good answer right now. I should probably just move to the clean energy sector. Biden has promised those will be the good paying union jobs.
  • Barbeque is a noun, not a verb. Today it’s dumping snow and I am cooking up some barbeque in the form of baby back ribs on the smoker. And in proper insurrectionist form, we are having a bunch of friends over. Suck on that, lock down states. P.S. please don’t tell the high priest of Covid, Fauci. I don’t want the secret Covid police coming to my door.
  • I casually look at new trucks from time to time. At some point that day will come when it’s time for a final vehicle. Right now the super popular truck in the overland market is the Toyota Tacoma. Peruse through the Instagram feeds and you see plenty of very cool, tricked out Tacomas. I look at that and think, hmm it would be kinda fun to build out a truck from scratch like that. And then I read this article in Outside magazine imploring people not to do that to these trucks. I had no idea about the gear ratio limitations and payload weight issues. Coolness over functionality. I would have easily fallen into that trap. Because, you know, it’s all about how you look on Instagram.
  • Here’s an account to follow that posts very cool maps.
  • The Biden administration will push a massive high speed rail initiative as part of it’s build back better infrastructure plan. All built with good paying union jobs of course. Perhaps they should check in with California to see how their high speed rail project is going? It’s been more than a decade and costs have gone from the original $33 billion to more than $100 billion. And for what? A single track that will run from Bakersfield to Merced that has yet to see a single train, and initial testing is still six to seven years away. But I’m sure the federal version will go much smoother.

Song of the day: LL Cool J – Mama Said Knock You Out