Category: Solving the wrong problem

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 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

Research Paralysis

  • We live in a wonderous time. We have the entirety of human knowledge instantly available with one mouse click. This is a blessing and a curse. The kids of today have no idea what it was like to “comparison shop” back in the old days. Pre-internet if you wanted to do some research your choices were 1) Read magazine articles (yes, printed on actual paper that you had to purchase) 2) Talk to your neighbor Bob who used something similar twenty years ago 3) Go to the store and talk to a salesperson. Of course we also didn’t have 37 different choices for the same product either, so it was a little simpler. Today is different. I’m currently researching a reasonably high dollar purchase and the information is overwhelming. Step one is the casual search to figure out who the possible manufacturers and models are in the space. Step two is going to the manufacture web sites to get a sense of price and features. At this point I’ve narrowed things down to a handful of possibilities. Now comes the fun part. The user reviews. Using a combination of review sites and activity specific forums, I’ll spend countless hours reading user reviews. What you typically find is; 5 reviews saying it’s the best product ever invented; 7 reviews stating the product disintegrated thirty seconds after opening the box; 2 reviews of a completely different product; 3 reviews of the first version of the product from seven years ago; and 18 posts asking to click this link for free pre-paid phone cards. The next step is the dark hole of YouTube videos about the product. Those also fall into several distinct categories; Slick, professionally produced, manufacturer videos; Generic reseller companies that talk about the products but never offer opinions for fear of offending suppliers; Internet influencers paid to promote a product; And Joe-Bob from Nebraska who recorded a “review” video with his cell phone in the garage, with audio so bad you can’t hear anything but dogs barking and lawnmowers in the background. My final research step is to stumble upon a product I hadn’t heard of yet that looks absolutely perfect and has great reviews. I get all excited and then realize that it’s a European product not available in the US. Sigh… back to step one. It can literally take me weeks (months on occasion) of paralysis to make a decision for fear of choosing the wrong thing. While I appreciate all the new choices we have today, in hindsight I might have been better off in the old days with a salesperson just telling me what I need.
  • Speaking of purchase decisions, for those of you keeping track at home, I did get a new phone. I made a last second audible (audible. phones. see what I did there? gosh I’m clever) and went with the Samsung S21. I ended up liking the camera better and it was in stock. I’m all about instant gratification. So far so good. And the best part… it looks like my navigation issues with the phone and ginormous motorcycle may be mostly solved. My first test ride and it worked great. Mostly. Now the headset on the helmet is having trouble with a Bluetooth connection to the phone. How come things just aren’t easy?
  • I got an email today from United Airlines updating me on their role in the “global fight against climate change”. I guess they’ve made some commitment to becoming 100% green and reducing carbon emissions by 100% by 2050. I’m not sure that’s even possible unless they’re using battery operated planes using electricity only from wind farms… but whatever. This email was announcing their groundbreaking “Eco-Skies Alliance” and the commitment to SAF – Sustainable Aviation Fuel. What is SAF you might ask? Evil oil companies use things like used cooking oil in a chemical process to make it similar to standard jet fuel. They blend it with regular Jet-A and supposedly achieve lower carbon emissions. Sounds great, right? The problem is that it’s massively more expensive than regular Jet-A. So they’ve formed this group soliciting corporations to voluntarily contribute money to a fund to help airlines purchase the stuff. Oh, and to lobby congress to provide massive funding and subsidies to lower the price. So, as you end up paying the additional “SAF tax” on your airline ticket do you honestly think you’re preventing global climate disaster? I guess it doesn’t matter. At least United is woke and cares about the environment and the poor polar bears who are running out of ice and tasty seals to snack on.
  • Oh, by the way all that sorting of your recyclables you’ve been doing… China’s not buying our garbage any more, so in most cities all that stuff just ends up in the same landfill. So does that mean I still have to wash out my mayonnaise jars before throwing them away or not?
  • I’m not entirely sure why, but some scientists had a debate about who would win in a fight between King Kong and Godzilla. It astounds me that paleontologists actually had enough time to seriously think about this. I’m even more amazed that I read the entire article.

Song of the day: The Clash – Train in Vain (Live at the Lewisham Odeon)

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)

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

Maybe I’m Wrong?

  • I’m often wrong. Some days I feel like I’m wrong more than I’m right. But when it matters, I take extra steps to try and not be wrong. As a healthcare worker, you better hope I doublecheck what I’m doing before I inject something into your bloodstream. Since we’re about to spend a truckload of money to fight the scourge of climate change, don’t you think we should take a moment to doublecheck our work? Our climate czar John Kerry said that we only have 9 years left to avoid climate disaster. In 1989 the UN said we only have 10 years before the planet is destroyed. In 2006 Al Gore said we only have 10 years before global warming destroys the planet. In 2009, NASA’s James Hansen said we only have until 2013. AOC says we have until 2030, so at least there’s a little time left. 45 years ago it was global cooling that would become our biggest issue. Can we all just get our stories straight please? Before Bill Gates funds a program to inject tinfoil into the atmosphere to block the sun, shouldn’t we be pretty sure we’re actually causing global warming? If government and “scientists” were being intellectually honest, they’d fund a red team to try and disprove the global warming theories. Because every single climate model and prediction has been wrong. Not a little bit off, but spectacularly wrong. As the old saying goes, correlation does not imply causation. And since the very premise of the scientific method is to put out a hypothesis and let others try and disprove it, shouldn’t we be doing that? It’s only once it can’t be disproven it becomes accepted theory. The fact that you’re not allowed to question something should bother you. Therefore, I’d like to be proven wrong. Please show me proof that A) the earth is warming at a dangerous rate beyond what could be attributed to natural cycles, and B) that it is without a doubt being caused by man. Probably most importantly, if A and B are actually true then please prove that anything proposed by governments would actually solve A or B. I don’t think you can. So tell me again why we’re going to impact our economy for something nobody can prove with solutions that we’re not sure will even work?
  • Speaking of spending money on lost causes, the US has spent spent more than $787 million dollars on “gender equality projects” in Afghanistan. So tell me again why my taxes need to go up?
  • I found a pretty good YouTube series about a group of guys who take an eight day motorcycle ride around my state. It’s very well done and neat to see some of the local trails that I’ve ridden. It was compelling enough that I blew most of my morning yesterday being nonproductive and watching it. I sent the link to a buddy who started watching it with his young son. His son became so enamored with it, he got out maps so he could follow along where they were going. I love seeing that. That’s the sort of spirit we need to be instilling in young folks. Curiosity and exploration is what built this country. We need more of it.
  • While on the topic of exploration, the Mars landing of the Perseverance rover was very cool. It is amazing what we’re capable of from a technology perspective these days. I do wonder why we have such a heavy focus on Mars though? I get that it may be the end goal, but why all the focus now? Meaning, shouldn’t we be concentrating on how we’re going to build structures, manage food, water, and oxygen, etc… on someplace that’s just a bit closer? Like the moon perhaps? I honestly don’t get why we’re focused on a place that takes a year to get to rather than one that takes a few days. It seems like logistically we could achieve the same technology learning goals easier, by going to the moon rather than Mars. Maybe we are doing that and it just hasn’t hit the news. Perhaps the moon just isn’t sexy enough. I’ll have to do some research.
  • The UCI just announced that it is banning the “super tuck”. If you’re not familiar with this, it’s a technique where a cyclist sits down on the top tube to be more aerodynamic and shifts weight forward for increased speed downhill. Many folks don’t realize the pros can easily hit 50 miles an hour downhill. Doing the super tuck at ludicrous speed takes testicles much bigger than mine, that’s for sure. Oh, sorry to leave you with that image. Here’s a video of super fast cycling descents to make up for it.
  • Last night I had an enormous plate of Mexican food. This morning I’m eating a bowl of croutons as I type this. In a little while we’re going to meet some friends for breakfast and I’ll have a huge breakfast burrito of some sort. Meanwhile I wonder why my pants no longer fit. I saw a quote today that describes my problem exactly. “I have the palate of a raccoon”. Yep, that’s me. Sigh.

Song of the day: The Kinks – Lola (from One For The Road)

An Unprecedented Storm

  • The media is garbage. They churn out crap with sensationalist headlines and most people simply read it and assume it’s true. With much of the country encased in some pretty cold temps there’s been plenty of attention on Texas, who’s electrical grid has spectacularly failed. Headline after headline proclaims Houston is being hit with an unprecedented storm. If journalists employed the internet search skills of your average twelve year old, they’d discover there’s nothing “unprecedented” about this. Valentines day, 1895, Houston was hit with 22″ of snow. So, yeah, it’s happened before. Multiple times. Apparently the dictionary definition of unprecedented has changed. I understand you need over the top headlines to sell the modern equivalent of newspapers. I’m ok with that. It used to be if newspapers went too far down the sensationalist road too often, they’d be lumped in with the “weekly world news” tabloids. Today there seems to be no shame in baseless propaganda. I wouldn’t really care except that I guarantee you it won’t be long before our new climate czars will start lumping in the “unprecedented winter storms” with all the other ridiculous and false claims of record hurricanes, rising sea levels, and record wildfires as evidence of rapid acceleration of global warming (sorry, “climate change”). And that false narrative is being used to shut down the fossil fuel industries and funnel billions upon billions of newly printed dollars to more “green energy” boondoggles. Hey, I have no problem with trying to come up alternative sources of energy. But snow covered solar panels and frozen windmills isn’t it. Meanwhile, in 2020 China built over three times as much new coal power capacity as all other countries in the world combined – the equivalent of more than one large coal plant per week. In addition, over 73 gigawatts of new coal power projects were initiated in China, five times as much as in all other countries. China and India do not give a crap about the Paris Climate Treaty. While we watch people in Texas dying from carbon monoxide poisoning trying keep warm, China is eventually going to kick our asses. We have a clean, safe, and reliable source of green energy already. It’s called nuclear. Our failure to embrace it is going to come back to haunt us when it’s too late. Meanwhile, I’m going to go enjoy some powder skiing for the next week in the several feet of global warming expected to fall in our mountains.
  • Meanwhile, lets check in on how mask mandates vs no mandates work. Looking at that chart I’d say mask mandates had no impact on Covid, but then I’d be labeled a denier. Therefore I fully embrace the new CDC policy of encouraging double masking. Oh wait, you told us any face covering works to block viruses? Now I have to wear two? This almost sounds like a face covering doesn’t really work. I’m so confused. It’s almost like the only face covering that actually blocks viruses is, oh I don’t know, a properly worn and fit tested N95 respirator?
  • Speaking of media as garbage, this piece by Glenn Greenwald is excellent. It’s disturbing how easy it is to sensationalize the chaotic initial “reporting” of an event and turn it into an accepted narrative. Again, I wouldn’t really care except that the false narrative is going to be used to implement new Patriot Act type laws giving the federal government broader reaching scope to collect data, spy, and enact further domestic restrictions. Much of the capital region of Washington DC is still a militarized green zone. Why?
  • On a recommendation from several friends, I signed up for MasterClass to get me some more learn’n in my head. With my soon-to-be increased free time (only one more full time shift to go!) I figure I may as well be productive. I just started my first class and so far I’m enjoying it.
  • With the fancy new motorcycle sitting in the garage, due to the unprecedented global warming that’s fallen in our area lately, I also needed a new riding suit. I’m big believer in ATGATT (all the gear, all the time). My previous motorcycle armor is from an earlier century and Mrs Troutdog has been on me to wear something a bit more modern. Once my standard 5,000 hours of YouTube research was done and I settled on which brand/model I was going to get, all that was left was what color? I had to laugh at myself. At my age I still find that I’m somewhat vain like a high school kid worried about how something “looks”. My new bike is mostly white. The outfit color I happened to like the most, and will be the coolest in the summer, is a very light grey. I was worried about looking a bit too much like a vintage Evil Knievel or Fat Elvis and almost ordered a green color I didn’t like, simply because I was concerned what people may think. Fortunately I’m old enough and (somewhat) mature enough to realize that A) nobody gives a shit what I look like, and B) I really don’t give a shit anymore what people think. I wish I’d learned that sort of confidence when I was younger. Peer pressure and the need to conform is a very human trait, but also a very destructive one (see global warming, mask wearing, woke culture, etc…). So, if you see a Fat Elvis looking guy riding down the street on a ginormous red white and blue bike, give me a wave and a big thumbs up. It’s good for my fragile ego.

Song of the day: Elvis Presley – A Little Less Conversation (original)

Enjoying The Inside, Outside

  • As humans, it’s normal to take things for granted. Your health, your car starting, the sun rising, and indoor dining. I’m lucky that my state has allowed indoor dining for the most part during this horrible gift from China, the SARS-CoV-2 virus (I don’t think I’m allowed to say China or Wuhan virus anymore). Well, the last two days I’ve been on a road trip of sorts and my travel partner and I stopped in a cute little town and went to a promising looking brewpub. The hostess scurried outside and asked us if we had reservations. Who needs reservations at a brewpub? We said no and she replied that the only seat she had left was outside the tent and not under the heaters. What? We said ok because we were starving, so she seated us at a lone table away from four other tables under a makeshift tent. Keep in mind the outside temperature was in the twenties. This was all very confusing. I ran back to the car to get another jacket and then went inside to wash up in the facilities. Once inside I saw all the chairs stacked up on top of the tables and it suddenly dawned on me. This state does not allow indoor dining. It’s twenty frigg’n degrees and the state is forcing people to eat outdoors. I watched patrons arrive carrying huge thick blankets. The people in this state are so desperate to eat at a restaurant they’re willing to bring blankets and sit outside in twenty degree temps. Meanwhile, all the restaurant workers are inside walking around without masks. They only put them on when they came outside to serve patrons. What sort of dystopian nightmare is this? When our food came it was good… for about thirty seconds and then was stone cold. BECAUSE IT’S TWENTY GODDAM DEGREES OUTSIDE! It’s hard to describe the absolute lunacy that is a health official who thinks all this is a viable solution to the problem. And I’m saddened that as thinking, voting, citizens we’re all just meekly going along with this nonsense.
  • The aforementioned road trip was to pick up the new motorcycle I’ve previously mentioned. Oh, she is a thing of beauty. I’m already in love. This particular bike was pretty hard to find, so I ended have to go to a different state to buy it. Not an issue other than we’re currently experiencing a pretty significant snow storm, or a “winter weather advisory” as the weather service call it. I’m not a particularly smart fellow, so it didn’t dawn on me to rent an enclosed trailer. So my new beast had to travel across three states through a snow storm to get home. She was covered in a thick layer of road grime and ice by the time I got her in the garage. But, it’s an adventure bike and that’s what it was intended to do. It’s not some fancy Harley that only comes out when it’s a perfect 70 degrees. I figure it was the perfect baptism to adventure. I will however be spending the rest of the day cleaning her up. And dreaming about the adventures we’ll have. Once it stops snowing.
  • Twitter has decided to ban Project Veritas and it’s founder James O’Keefe’s accounts. Yep, no censorship here. Move along people, nothing to see.
  • This is an excellent video talking about the problem with electric vehicles. It’s not the cars that are the issue, it’s the lack of charging infrastructure. I have no problem with the idea of electric vehicles. I’ve even toyed with the idea of putting a deposit down on the Tesla Cyber truck (Mrs Troutdog would kill me). This country simply doesn’t have the infrastructure to support large numbers of electric vehicles, nor the drain it would put on the electrical grid. Not to mention how we’re going to produce all that electricity with only solar and wind power since we’re getting rid of all those nasty fossil fuel plants. I wonder if there’s another source of electricity that’s clean, safe, and proven? Like, say… nuclear? Why in the world this isn’t being even spoken about by the Green New Deal zealots is beyond me.
  • One of the many topics that came up during the previously mentioned road trip was the sad state of our public schools. For better or worse, Covid was the perfect inflection point for fundamentally changing how we teach our kids. We have the technology. We have the entirety of human knowledge instantly available. We have the ability to present information in ways that were unimaginable when I went to school. And when forced to move to remote, technology driven teaching, what did our educators do? Nothing. They’ve continued the same old way of teaching we’ve been doing since the beginning of time. We literally have clung to the Prussian education system from the 19th century. Someone stands in front of the class and lectures and the obedient students attempt to memorize. The only difference is they’re trying to do it on Zoom. Kids, make sure not to miss your 1pm Zoom math class! Why, why, why? This will be harsh to hear, but what should happen is to get rid of half the teachers. Replace them with IT people and digital content creators. The remaining teachers would be responsible for driving the curriculum and measuring student progress. The student to teacher ratio should only be limited by how many papers/projects/tests a teacher can grade. Those teachers can be, gasp, located anywhere in the country. We want teachers who can put out amazing interactive digital content that engages kids in the same ways they’ll be working and producing at their jobs in the future. Meanwhile I suspect we have many teachers that lament we no longer have library books and encyclopedias to look up facts. If I had kids and was forced to go the “remote” learning route, I’d certainly be looking into some sort of Khan Academy type of learning. Our public schools are doing our kids a massive disservice and the teacher’s unions and elected officials are happily going along with it. Change is scary. But pretending the digital age isn’t real is dooming our kids to fail in the future.
  • And because at heart I’m still a ten year old who likes fart jokes, enjoy some mugshots of people with crazy fake eyebrows.

Song of the day: Hole – Celebrity Skin (live)

What Is Your Time Worth?

  • In 1938 Roosevelt signed the Fair Labor Standards Act into law, setting the first minimum wage at $0.25 an hour. That’s about $4.63 in today’s dollars. The current federal minimum wage is $7.25. The minimum wage discussion is a difficult one because its intent and the reality of what we’ve morphed into today are very different. I don’t have any problem setting a minimum wage because left to its own devices business, in the absence of competition, will take advantage of people. The horrible child labor conditions of the 30’s, which was the impetus for FLSA, are a prime example. So what does a minimum wage mean? It’s the minimum amount you can pay someone who has no skills. As you acquire more skills, your time is now worth more. Here’s another crucial point that gets lost. The wage an employer pays is ascribed to what they value the job, not the person. I need someone to pack widgets into a box. I do not need someone with any prior skills or training. I value that position as being worth a minimum wage. (again, this is in the absence of competition) When I’ve hired multiple widget packers I may now need someone to be the chief widget packer, a position with more responsibility and skills needed. I value that position as worth a higher wage. And on it goes. The presumption is that people will continue to rise up the wage ladder commensurate with their newly acquired skills and motivation. Here’s where the conversation gets difficult and is worth an independent discussion. Our middle class jobs are being wiped away, and will continue to be erased. Large numbers of people are being forced back down the wage ladder due to lack of opportunity at their acquired skill level. This forces out the true minimum wage earner and spawns the discussion about how does a former (or potential) middle class earner support themselves only on a minimum wage? And the related side of this is immigration, legal and otherwise. Large numbers of people are arriving with no skills and limited English, and have no other option than minimum wage work. Many of these folks are attempting to support large families on these wages. While the right conversation to be had is how do we best build back our middle class jobs and addressing immigration, the government solution is to simply pay these folks a “living wage”. Sounds great, but the US is a very diverse place. $15 an hour may be sustainable by a business owner in a high wage area like LA or a company like Amazon, but what does the owner of a diner in rural America do? Can they really afford to pay a high school kid $15 an hour to wash dishes or stock shelves at the local hardware store? It’s not an easy discussion. Unfortunately it’s not a discussion we’ll ever have because it will be demagogued to death. Which will only make starting a small business even more difficult, which worsens the middle class job market. Which is a recipe to invite government subsidies to “help”. It’s not a winning trajectory to be on.
  • Apparently we suddenly have a domestic terrorist crisis. The formation of a federal domestic spy agency is well underway. Just like the Patriot Act, we’ll happily sign away more of our freedoms because the state run media tells us there’s racists hiding under every rock. Clearly the rioting and looting all summer don’t count as domestic terrorism because those are approved “woke” causes. During yesterdays crowning of Biden, Antifa ran amuck in Portland and Seattle doing all sorts of shenanigans. Silly Antifa. Why doesn’t that make the news? They even smashed up the original Starbucks. You’d think hipsters everywhere would be outraged. This must be a very confusing time for woke Starbucks baristas.
  • Biden immediately violated the Federal mask mandate he had just signed, appearing at the Lincoln Memorial just a few feet away from reporters… without a mask. The media will call him out on his hypocrisy, right?
  • This last year, we implemented a world-wide lockdown more severe than any climate alarmist could have dreamed for. Vehicle and air travel limited beyond what could ever be realistically proposed, even by the climate guru Greta Thurberg. It was the perfect experiment to see if models would match reality. And… it made no difference in the growth of atmospheric CO2. I suspect we’ll just ignore this inconvenient truth and march forward with a new and improved Paris Climate Treaty 2.0.
  • When Sen Tom Cotton wrote an op-ed suggesting we deploy the National Guard to help quell the rioting and looting this summer, the journalists at the New York Times were so triggered that two editors lost their jobs for allowing such an opinion to be printed. 25,000 troops deployed to protect Washington from a supposed insurrection of white supremacists and racists… and not a peep. The hive mind of the media is an interesting thing.
  • I had to take my dog, a.k.a The Troutdog, to get his nails trimmed yesterday. I wish I could capture the look on his face when he jumps out of the truck and realizes where he is. It’s the look of complete betrayal. “Dude, I thought we were going for a ski…” He then quivers and violently shakes like he’s waiting for a cattle prod up the rear end. I wonder what goes through his little brain that he thinks this is so terrible? Mrs Troutdog refuses to take him because she doesn’t want him mad at her. LOL.

Song of the day: The Clash – This is Radio Clash (Official Video)

Is Politics A Prisoners Dilemma?

  • I was thinking about the apparent lack of awareness politicians on both sides have of the pulse of the people they’re supposed to represent. They tend to rush to solve the wrong problem because they need to be seen as “doing something” about whatever’s in the news. We just had a large mob of very angry people rally to express their dissatisfaction with something that devolved (as mobs do) into violence. Politicians rush to “fix” the end result of the situation – we need to call in the national guard, they must condemn all violence, we need to put people on no-fly-lists, we need to impeach, etc… While all of that may or may not need to be addressed, I don’t hear anyone on the left asking the real question – what happened to make all those people so angry and what could be done to address that? It reminded me of the Prisoners Dilemma. Two prisoners in solitary confinement, no way to communicate with each other. If one snitches on the other, he goes free and the other serves his sentence. If both snitch, both serve their sentence. If neither snitches (because snitches wind up in ditches), both serve reduced sentences. Politicians (especially today) seem to be wired to always believe politics is a zero sum game. The only way I can win is to ensure someone else loses. We’ve entered the era of scorched earth politics. Tearing up a state of the union speech or driving pointless impeachments to score points is more important than asking what’s more beneficial for everyone. Both sides are guilty of this… Republicans just really suck at it. I wonder if we’ll ever get back to a point where folks recognize if both sides accept a little pain (compromise), everyone benefits in the long run? (Don’t answer that. It’s rhetorical. Never going to happen.)
  • I had to laugh. A couple of days ago Tucker Carlson had a line that made me snort out loud: “Once Donald Trump leaves the scene and it’s time to divvy up the spoils of the United States Treasury to begin the great piñata party of 2021…” And sure enough, yesterday Biden rolls out a $2 trillion dollar stimulus spending plan. This will be followed by another $1.3 – $2 trillion dollar infrastructure plan. It’s gotten absurd to the point there’s no reason to even fight it anymore. We’re printing money out of thin air. Hell, if we’re already printing trillions, we may as well print another four or five. Give every American with a drivers license a brand new car. And pay for their insurance. And create a guaranteed auto buyback program for all the existing vehicles and loans. Can you even imagine the stimulus this would bring to country? It would resurrect the failing auto industries, create new manufacturing jobs for the entire supply chain, improve our air quality, put more money in the pocket of struggling families by getting rid of a car payment, and help the most disenfranchised be able to get a job. I think that’s a damn fine idea. I guess you couldn’t require a drivers license. That would be discriminatory. Anyway, put me down for a Tesla Cybertruck.
  • I was reasonably productive yesterday with planning. I resurrected the Bullet Journal and starting looking into some travel ideas. I agree that putting (figurative) pen to paper does help organize thoughts. Next up will be working on the daily routine and thinking about hobbies.
  • For dinner last night I made a deluxe grill cheese and tomato soup. Thick sourdough, two kinds of cheese, bacon, grilled onions, sliced tomato and avocado. Probably a 2,500 calorie meal, but worth it. Now I just need to go run approximately 50 miles to break even.
  • We watched the History of Swear Words last night. Pretty good. Nicholas Cage was able to poke fun at himself. Nice to see actors who are comfortable enough to do that. It’s said that swearing is a sign of intelligence. If so, I should be a rocket scientist.
  • A list of red flags in job interviews. Reminded me of an answer I got frequently when I was a hiring manager at Microsoft. I’d ask the candidate how they would find out the answer to something and I’d frequently get the response: “I’d Google it”. Uhmm… you’re interviewing at Microsoft, are you really that dense? If you’re going say that, at least make the case why one search engine is better than the other. That I’d respect. This is beside the issue of being so unaware that if all I needed was someone who could “Google” something, I could hire a random street person (or sixth grader) and be just as successful. This of course was back in the day when Microsoft was the Evil Empire and Google’s code of conduct slogan was “Don’t be evil”.

Song of the day: Meredith Brooks ( Live) Lilith Fair- Bitch 1997