Tag: Politics

Why Is Everything So Complicated?

We are the generation of the soundbite. The Tweet. The meme. We consume our information in tiny little pieces. And most of the time, that’s probably just fine. I don’t need to have a deep understanding of the cattle futures market to decide if I can afford the rib-eye this week or only cube steak. The price is the price and I either have the quan or I don’t.

But every once in a while, big events happen that raise questions. Politicians and pundits jump on these events and start spewing one-liners and soundbites that reinforce their echo chambers. Pretty soon we’re in a full-scale soundbite and meme war that leaves everyone confused and angry. What’s the truth?

I was thinking about this as I read snarky Twitter comments about energy independence, buying Russian oil, and gas prices. Everyone has an answer. Because I’m a dork, I decided to do some light reading on the energy sector and politics. Whew – there is no such thing as “light reading” about this subject! It is a deep, deep rabbit hole. It is hard to describe how many moving parts and global players there are in the energy world.

There are a whole variety of types of crude oil, all coming from different places in the world, all used for different things. Much of the recent increases in our purchase of Russian crude are due to fallout from previous sanctions on other countries like Venezuela, hurricanes in the gulf, and African countries not being able to ramp up production after Covid. We import foreign crude to the East and West coast because we lack the domestic infrastructure to transport our own oil. It’s actually cheaper to purchase non-US crude, than it is to send US crude to the East and West coast from the Midwest or gulf. We often purchase Russian (and other) crude because it has a higher sulfur content than US crude, which is needed for some specific refining processes. The worldwide crude oil market is a very interdependent and complex system. Even when we declared we were “energy independent”, that is a fuzzy interpretation with many moving parts that changed from month to month. We’d offset US products produced from crude and sold, against crude imports and for some quarters and depending upon what the meaning of “is”, is, we’d declare we had greater net exports vs. imports.

This led me to the issue of the current administration shutting down oil and gas leases. Come on, man – drill baby, drill! Well, they did attempt to put a moratorium on new leases in some areas. The courts shut that down. And currently… the Biden administration has outpaced the Trump administration in issuing drilling permits on public lands. Wait, wut? For example, just last fall the Biden admin completed the largest oil and gas lease in US history – 80 million acres in the Gulf of Mexico. Sigh, I’m so confused.

What’s my point? I don’t care what the Fox, CNN, or Twitter pundit says… virtually every issue you’d like to discuss is infinitely more complex than you think it is. Nothing is black and white, yes or no. It takes years for industry and policy experts to develop a real understanding of their domain. I did a tiny bit of reading this morning beyond Twitter, and quickly realized I know absolutely zero about the energy sector. It has tentacles in transportation, logistics, commodity markets, politics, money supply, production, jobs, and on and on. I think it would take at least a semester equivalent class to have at least a beginners grasp on the entirety of the market. And I think that holds true for most things in life. Geopolitics, military strategy, history, everything…

All of which is to reinforce my standard saying… Question everything. Be a Contrarian. It’s ok to endorse the Left or Right’s approach to the world. Just don’t do it blindly. They’re both equal manipulators of the narrative. And under the surface, things are often more complex than you realize.

The truth is rarely pure and never simple

Oscar Wilde

Shuffle The Deck

Enjoying the clown show? It might almost be funny to sit back and watch this administration flail about if the consequences weren’t so dire. I do not underestimate the ability of these clowns to blunder us into an actual, serious armed conflict involving U.S. forces. Now don’t think I’m just blaming the democrats for where we’re at. It’s taken decades of incompetence, grift, and arrogance from both parties to get to this point. And along the way, we’ve managed to create a fourth branch of government that is unelected, unsupervised, and unchecked – the Federal Bureaucracy. a.k.a. the deep state.

As the old saying goes, while Putin and Xi are playing 3D chess, we’re playing checkers. Well, to be fair this administration is playing tic-tac-toe. Russia and China plan the long game. We plan for the latest news cycle. The EU worshiped at the Church of Climate Change. They now need Russia’s oil and gas. Germany is fully in bed with Russia. You’ll notice that Europe is doing virtually nothing about all this. Putin correctly judged that our economy is in trouble and we’re too busy arguing over pronouns and which bridges are the most racist. In all likelihood the sanctions will end up hurting us more than Russia. We’ll do nothing (hopefully), and he knew it. Game, set, match. Russia will now have a heavily defended buffer zone against NATO. Meanwhile, the US spent billions trying to set up yet another puppet state in the name of “democracy” that failed. Sound familiar? It’s like Lucy pulling the football away from Charlie Brown. How come we never learn? Since WWII, we have failed at every single foreign policy intervention we’ve attempted. All at the cost of trillions and thousands upon thousands of lives. And yet we continue to listen to the same foreign policy “experts”.

And now we’re at the brink of a serious inflection point. I’m honestly surprised that China hasn’t moved on Taiwan yet. That’s the big test. What would we do? Are we going to get into a shooting war with China? I’m pretty sure that won’t go well. I’m sorry if I sound skeptical, but the same people who planned the Afghan withdraw, fired SOF folks for refusing the jab, and seem more worried about white rage and DEI in the military, are still in charge. It’s ok though, just like with every conflict, the UN will write a strongly worded letter.

So, what are we to do? Create a new, third party like Andrew Yang thinks? Term limits? I think term limits absolutely needs to be a part of any change. The corruption and self-interest in Washington (and state politics) is endemic. These people are dug in like ticks on a hound. If we have any hope of staving off our total demise, we need to start getting rid of the political establishment. But how do you get someone to vote for something that’s not in their self-interest?

It’s time to shuffle the deck. How? VOTE THEM OUT. Who? ALL OF THEM. Every single one of them. Both parties. Regardless of party, choose someone new. Do not re-elect the same clown. Everyone gets primaried. Even if the same clown gets re-elected, make them fight for it. Demand accountability. And next election cycle – do it again. We need to keep shuffling the deck until we get the hand we want.

Is that realistic? Nope. Is it going to happen? Nope. As negative as that sounds, I do see a tiny sliver of hope. There is a sense of frustration in the country. People are getting tired of the authoritarians. They’re pushing back against CRT and mask mandates, and censorship. At the moment, it looks like the next election cycle will be a bloodbath for the left. Will the right do something with it, or revert to politics as usual? If the new congress starts behaving like representatives of the people, AND, if we elect an actual leader (no, not Trump) with the next presidential cycle… there’s a small chance we can start to right the ship.

I give it a 10% chance. I fear that it’s probably already too late. History shows that once you start that downslide, it’s pretty hard to fight momentum. Realistically it’s not an issue for my generation – this will be for the next generation to live with. Unfortunately, this new generation aren’t much for learning from history. Because, like, you know, history is all racist or something.

It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it.

 Upton Sinclair

Let’s Go Brandon

“Let’s Go Brandon!” It’s currently trending on twitter. I think it’s hilarious and an absolutely perfect representation of where we’re currently at as a country. If you’re not familiar with the phrase, stop being selfish and get yo’self plugged into the social medias. ‘Cause you ain’t gunna hear this reported in the mainstream news. Anyway… if you’ve watched any large sporting event in the last few weeks, a curious event has been taking place. The crowds, tens of thousands strong, have been erupting into long chants. And what are they chanting? “Fuck Joe Biden!”.

Pro sports, college sports, doesn’t seem to matter. Once started, chants go on for quite a while. Not sure I’ve ever seen that before for a sitting president. Not once, not twice, but every single weekend at multiple events. It seems to be gaining momentum.

What’s this have to do with Brandon? At a recent NASCAR race, driver Brandon Brown won. As he was being interviewed, the crowd in the stadium broke out in an enthusiastic Fuck Joe Biden chant. The NBC reporter tried to cover for the expletive filled chant by saying “As you can hear the chants from the crowd, ‘Let’s go Brandon’,” she said. LOL

I think it sums up perfectly the current mood. Literally everything this administration has done or touched has been an unmitigated disaster from day one. And it’s getting harder and harder to cover for the continuing errors, missteps, poor decisions, and incompetence. Each attempt to explain away the disaster of the day is more and more doublespeak, deflection, and finger pointing.

So “Let’s Go Brandon” perfectly fits. Of course that’s what the crowd was chanting. And if you don’t believe it, then you are clearly part of the right wing disinformation machine. And you probably watch Fox News.

Meanwhile, my digital scale indicated that I’d lost a significant amount of weight. Far more weight than the previous scale. I reject any characterization of the number displayed as being inaccurate. I’m not going to get into the technical details of the scale, I’ll refer you to the manufacture for that. I don’t want to get too far ahead of the data. Perhaps we should circle back on the topic. With this tremendous weight loss, all indications are that I can clearly afford to eat nachos tonight. Besides, I went for a run yesterday which means the calories are paid for so the net caloric cost is zero. Works for me. Let’s Go Brandon!

I Want The Data

A short one today. The local hardware store in our little town just reimplemented a mask mandate to shop there. The city council is contemplating reinstating the city-wide mask mandate. I’m sure cities across the country are evaluating the same thing with the new delta (sshhh, don’t mention the country) variant of the virus which shall not be named.

For roughly a year every city, county, state, and federal public health office has been collecting extensive data on Covid cases. We know exactly how many new cases we had for every single day in every corner of the country (and world). Every single person in the country has seen multiple instances of the bell-shaped curve graphs showing the current state of Covid case counts.

So here’s my question – with all that data it should be very simple to show a strong correlation between the implementation of a mask mandate and the reduction of case counts, right? The entire point of the mask (as we’ve heard ad nauseum) is that they protect you and others from transmission of the virus. So, across the country the data should easily show the date of a mask mandate and shortly afterwards case counts dropping. Seems like simple science, no?

I have yet to see any data that shows a mask mandate having any impact whatsoever on case counts in any part of the country. Have you? Don’t you think the powers that be would be hammering the news talking heads every night with these charts to prove how effective their mask mandates were? Instead, the CDC’s strongest case for masks seems to be a report on two hairstylists who were positive and saw a bunch of clients. They all wore masks and nobody else was infected. So there you go – based upon two hairstylists, we all have to wear a mask.

We’ve had a real world, year long experiment with extensive amounts of data. Before you force me to wear the damn mouth diaper again, I want to see the data. Not theory, not anecdotes from hairstylists or isolated lab experiments attempting to measure droplet velocities. We know the date we started wearing the damn masks. Can you correlate a drop in case counts afterwards? It doesn’t seem like a hard question, does it?

Radio Silence

  • As we traveled through the Trump years, there was always one constant. A never ending social media stream of negative comments, snarky one-liners, memes, linked articles, and virtue signaling over how horrible the former president and anyone associated with him was. I rarely checked Facebook because it was always an avalanche of negativity and Trump derangement syndrome (TDS) postings. It was truly toxic at times. Here’s the part I find curious. Now that Trumps out and Biden is in, I’d have thought we’d start seeing a flood of positive posts bragging about how much better, more competent, and smarter this new administration is. I was expecting a deluge of self-righteous gloating over how superior the Biden team is at handling the reigns of power. For God’s sake, we finally have a woman of color as vice president – her deft political skills should be trumpeted at every opportunity! But… nothing. Complete radio silence. I don’t think I’ve seen a single post praising anything the Biden administration has done from my friends on the left. I find it puzzling. Where is the vigorous defense and support of Biden from the left-leaning members of the public? Y’all were screeching like scalded cats for four plus years at the mere mention of the bad orange man. Why the sudden lack of interest in politics? It’s an interesting phenomenon. I will admit, I find it refreshing to not be bombarded with TDS every time I open up Facebook. It’s mostly returned to what I think it’s original purpose is – keeping up with day to day remote family and friend events and happenings. Oh, and never ending password phishing schemes masquerading as fun quizzes and questionnaires.
  • The last few days I’ve had the all-time worst (or at least in the top three) patient you could experience. A truly vile and horrible human being. Never ending berating, screaming at, and cursing every staff member who went in the room. Crying, manipulating, tantrums. Non stop accusations that she was being tortured, abused, and being denied her rights. At least one staff member was reduced to tears after one of her tirades. It’s overwhelmingly mentally exhausting to deal with that for twelve hours. I drove home last night wondering how someone could have turned into such a miserable person. What a waste of a life.
  • It was dumping snow a few days ago. It’s now nearly a hundred degrees. Must be due to climate change.
  • I spent way too much time this morning going through this list of lists. I was looking for a list of the Game of Thrones characters. We started re-watching the series and I’d forgotten how complex and convoluted (at times) the story lines could be. I didn’t find my list because I got side tracked by all the other lists.
  • I took a pretty good picture of a tree the other day. I’m proud of it, not because it’s anything special, but because it helped remind me that good pictures come from putting yourself in a position to take good pictures. I trudged up this hill in full motorcycle gear and crested the top only to be greeted by at least 30 school age kids on some sort of field trip. I was going to head back down since there was no way to get a picture without at least two of the kids being in the frame at any given time. For some reason, I decided to wait. I milled about and helped take pictures for several tourist couples. Suddenly, the crowd all started back down the hill. I ran over to the spot I’d been looking at and took a few pictures of the tree just as some rain started falling in the background. I had the spot to myself for about two minutes before a new crowd swarmed the hill. The storm blew out about 15 minutes later and the skies went clear. A few moments of patience (rare for me) paid off. Lesson learned.

Song of the day: B52’s – Private Idaho

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

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)

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