Thursday, January 19, 2017

Activist right-wing judges

Thanks for "activist right-wing judges". First "people" became "persons" (Second Amendment) and then "corporations became "persons" (Preamble). Will "four-year term" become lifetime next?

Comment to scottluack’s comment on “The Supreme Court’s Next Gun Battle”, Linda Greenhouse, New York Times, 2017-01-19, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/19/opinion/the-supreme-courts-next-gun-battle.html?comments#permid=21145325:21147064.

Trump and Nuclear War

I am worried that Charles M. Blow is a Cassandra.  He speaks the truth but nobody believes his warnings of doom. See Charles M. Blow, “Are You Not Alarmed”.  See https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/19/opinion/are-you-not-alarmed.html

I left the following comment, but as far as I know, it was not approved.

After a nuclear war, will Donald Trump have become the last President of the United States? Sad!

“Picked just for you”

Feedback to eBay about constant barrage of email

Stop the nonsense of "Picked just for you".  Sorry, but I found what I wanted, bought them, and don't need much more in computer equipment for many a moon!

Monday, January 16, 2017

Ode to Obama

"Great ode! It's too bad that the Dixiecrats couldn't tolerate a ‘black' man being President. Let's just hope that what goes around comes around and that Trump is soon replaced by an articulate president who considers all legitimate views."

Comment to Charles M. Blow, "Ode to Obama", New York Times, 2017-01-11

What I didn’t explain to younger readers was that Dixiecrats were Southern politicians who were in the Democratic Party because that was not the party of Lincoln.  They hobbled the Democrats on many issues.  Then Richard Nixon played his Southern Strategy and its been into the swamp for Republicans ever since. 

I thought  the last sitting great Republican was Sen. Susan Collins of Maine.  But alas, she is far from being an independent thinker.

See “Susan Collins Just Disgraced Herself at Jess Sessions’s Confirmation Hearing: The senator proved once and for all that she’s no moderate.

- John Nichols, The Nation, 2017-01-10

Belated Quote of the day: Trump and Putin

"Well, yes, of course Russia said that. But why should anyone believe what Mr. Putin says? The fact that Mr. Trump seems to give greater credence to the Kremlin than to United States intelligence agencies is precisely what has set off so much speculation about his real motives in cozying up to Mr. Putin."

"Yet the speculation, which was gaining currency even before the publishing of the dossier by BuzzFeed, isn’t going away. The reason is obvious: Mr. Trump appears to be infatuated with the autocrat in the Kremlin. As the Russian dissident and chess champion Garry Kasparov noted: “Trump has criticized: Republicans, Democrats, the pope, U.S. elections, C.I.A., F.B.I., NATO, Meryl Streep. Trump hasn’t criticized: Vladimir Putin.”

"Donald Trump: A Modern Manchurian Candidate”. Max Boot, New York Times, 2017-01-11
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/11/opinion/donald-trump-a-modern-manchurian-candidate.html.

Thanks to U.S. readers (and others)

The readership of this blog from the United States is increasing, and it is often exceeding views from Russia.  Many have said that Russian views are targeting low-readership blogs like this one.  They hope that the blog writers will click on the links which often are to sites that will corrupt the target site.  You can often tell some of these when the link has a long string of characters after “.com” or whatever.  This devious trick is called “reverse spam”.

I don’t know what has caused this increase.  My complaints about Trump?  But other articles get as many view or more.  Is it the cards that I’ve left in a Perk Place in Duluth?  Is it the readers of my former column in the Reader Weekly of Duluth, “Party of One”?  Is it more frequent posts?  Could be!  Though as the name of this blog states, they are still irregular.

BTW, I would have called this blog “Party of One”, but somebody else had already taken it.

If you do correspond with me or see me, please let me know how often you read this blog and what you think.

Another country whose readership has increased is France.  I only have three correspondents in France, and I’ve lost contact with two of them.  To the one left, “Merci encore pour ‘Astérix’!”  What am I writing that gets so much interest from France?

One surprise is that I get practically no readers from Canada.  Canadian readership once was second to U.S. readership.  And my wife has several relatives in Canada.

BTW, to them I say don’t watch TV, read the Globe and Mail.  You’ll get more information per minute.  This advice holds for anybody who has access to free and independent newspapers (printed or online).

Shall we call him “President” Trump?

"You have scorned our intelligence agencies — you tweet “intelligence” in quotes the same way that we should eventually use quotes around the word “president” when it precedes your name — and you have continued your assault on the press.”

See “Donald Trump and the Tainted Presidency”, Charles M. Blow,
New York Times, 2017-01-09.

Whose “free speech”?

Amazing how many critics who say “political correctness” is limiting free speech on campuses, but then want to restrict what is taught, like climate change.  To quote somebody who we really hear too much, “Sad!"


See http://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/09/opinion/whos-really-placing-limits-on-free-speech.html.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Political labels = political misdirection?

I would distrust any political labels, whether applied to fellow travelers or political opposition.

“Liberal” is flung about as if “liberals” were irresponsible.  However, those flinging this epithet without thought are rather liberal with giving power to corporations.

And those who call themselves “conservative” are more conserving power for corporations than being thoughtful about change.  I haven’t studied Edmund Burke, but I wonder if he would approve of the actions of those who call themselves conservative today.

Maybe we should call them CONservatives because so many of them are con-men.  “Con” being short for “confidence”, that is the con-man gains the confidence of his mark as he takes the mark's money (or in too many cases both money and votes)

See “The Betrayal of Fiscal Conservatism”, David Leonhard, New York Times, 2017-01-09.

Sunday, January 08, 2017

More jobs that never returned

And they are not riding beneath the streets of Boston.

Film processors and film manufacturers.

Once upon a time, it was easy to get a job at Kodak in Rochester making film.  Now it is hard to even find a place that sells film.  The new jobs, but not many, are converting slides and photos to digital images.

Parking lot attendants

Parking meters on streets have been around for decades, but often parking lots had attendants who either parked your car or took your money when you left.  At least on parking garage in Duluth is fully “automated”.  You take your ticket when you enter, go to a machine to pay when you leave, and insert the ticket at the gate.  Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport has more automated exit gates than attendant gates.

Longshoremen

One hundred years ago there were 40,000 longshoremen in New York Harbor.  Now most of the work is done by less than 3,400 longshoremen in New Jersey operating cranes and straddle carriers.  You have to read “Along New York Harbor, ‘On the Waterfront’ Endures” to get an idea how big some of these straddle carriers are. http://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/06/nyregion/new-york-harbor-on-the-waterfront.html

Shoe shiners

How do you shine “athletic” shoes?  It is rare to see a man wearing glossy dress shoes.  If you wear glossy shoes you will either have to polish them yourself or go to a major airport.  I know there is no shoe shine stand in the Duluth airport.

Movie ticket sellers, ushers, and projectionists

Once upon a time ushers found a seat for you, then they only took tickets, now there are hardly any neighborhood movie theaters.  Until I was in high school, I could walk to a movie theatre.  Then I had to go downtown to see a movie.  Now there are only four movie theaters in Cleveland proper.  Surprise, two neighborhood theaters that I had walked to still exist, but there is only one downtown theater.

Watchmakers

A well-crafted watch, even for middle-class people was a pride to wear.  And if it had a problem, there were several watch repair shops in any major city.  In Duluth, Google lists four watch repair shops.  None are downtown and one is Batteries Plus.  I think the last, and probably the others as well, offer only battery replacement.  There are two downtown jewelers who sell watches and change batteries.

You can probably see ads for fine watches on sites like the New York Times http://www.nytimes.com/, but few of would consider them.

I think the reduction in watchmakers started with Timex.  Just looked at my wrist: I have a Timex.  $50 at a downtown jewelry store, after the buttons on my previous, more fancy Timex, became inoperative.  Was there anyone to repair it for less than $50?

See also "No, the jobs never returned”.

Saturday, January 07, 2017

Charles M. Blow on the fall of democracies

Charles Blow is deeply worried about Trump’s presidency and what it will do to American democracy.  See “The Anti-Inauguration”, New York Times, 2017-01-05.

"Spend part of the day reading about the rise and fall of empires and how it always seems far-fetched and inconceivable until it actually happens. There are many books that address this topic, but if you want something shorter, try Andrew Sullivan’s 'Democracies End When They Are Too Democratic,' a counterintuitive meditation on how tyranny can spring from populism, or my colleague Paul Krugman’s 'How Republics End.’"

These two articles do take time to read, but if you care about a democracy for the many as opposed to a kleptocracy for the few you will be rewarded with some thoughts for protecting and enhancing democracy.

Quote of the day: corporation interest in strong dollar

"The reason that our government doesn’t intervene to push down the value of the dollar is that powerful U.S. transnational corporations like Wal-Mart prefer a strong dollar because it makes imports and overseas labor cheaper for them.”

“Will Trump outdo Obama in handling US-China: No: Even before taking office, Trump has made a mess”
- Mark Weisbrot, Duluth News Tribune, 2016-01-07

The “other side” is “Yes: His policies will protect our allies, economy, citizens from Chinese bullying”
- Pete Hoekstra

Why does so much writing, politics, and whatever have to be either/or?  There are so many more considerations than “either side” puts forth.

In support of Weisbrot, I’d cite “You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.”  Also, Republicans have turned the Constitution upside down so many times; in this case they have replaced Congress has the power to regulate commerce among the states to commerce having the power to regulate Congress!!

I wonder if any other democratic nation has as many “pariah” states as the United States: Cuba, North Korea, and Iran.  Yet we support many broken or rigid states far worse than Iran.

Governor Walker's addiction?

The Duluth News Tribune, Saturday, January 07, 2017, had a misleading headline about an initiative of Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin.

"Walker takes action to combat addiction."

My immediate reaction was whose addiction?  His?  I didn't think so.  It was an initiative to reduce heroin and even prescription opiates.  For the third year in a row, opiate deaths have been greater than traffic deaths in Wisconsin.

Thursday, January 05, 2017

Cherry-picking religious texts to validate hate

Wisconsin Public Radio’s To the Best of Our Knowledge (TTBOOK) recently replayed an episode about building a new mosque in the Chicago area (http://www.ttbook.org/book/building-mosque-america).

One of the anti-mosque people quoted the Q’ran about killing idolators.  Knowing that Mohammed and his followers were constantly harassed by idol worshipers (who made a lot of money selling statures of idols, I knew there was a larger context.  Rather than offer my own explanation, I suggest you read “Does the Quran Really Sanction Violence Against ‘Unbelievers’?” by Kabir Helminski, Huffington Post, 2010-09-24, updated 2011-05-25.

One could cherry-pick the Bible and show that Judaism is a religion of hate: “But of the cities of these people, which the Lord thy God doth give thee for an inheritance, thou shalt save alive nothing that breatheth.” King James Bible, Deuteronomy 20:16.

History is filled with “Christians” who tortured and killed those they even suspected of not being Christian enough: Torquemada and the Spanish inquisition, burnings at the stake, and more.  Even in our recent history many who call themselves Christians feel no remorse in lynching or burning churches.

Buddhism is supposed to be a religion of peace, but “Buddhists” are killing Muslims in Burma and Sri Lanka.  Do you really think the Buddha would approve of such hateful actions?

Security vs. customer service?

I want to close a Fidelity mutual fund account and put the funds in an Ameritrade account.  In this day and age one would think it would only involve a a few minutes of typing on each company’s website.  It sure would beat having a check mailed (3 days minimum), taking the check to a bank, and writing another check to the other company.

One, Fidelity would not recognize the routing and account numbers of my local bank account.  Although Fidelity would allow a transfer to another brokerage, it wanted a routing number.  I could find no routing number for Ameritrade.  Of course, using Google I found it as I was writing this paragraph.  The Google summary gives the routing number.

Two, Ameritrade wanted me to print out a form and fill it in by hand.  And of course, include a copy of my latest statement.  Given all that paper, I would probably take it to the Post Office to get the correct postage.

Three, I went back to the “horse and buggy days” and asked Fidelity to mail me a check.  When the check arrives, I’ll take it to my bank.  When the check clears than I will send the fund electronically to Ameritrade.

So, I could have saved myself much time and hair pulling if I had gone with plan three instead.

And some people have the gall to complain about government inefficiency.  Many government organizations are far more efficient than many corporations.  The government will get the check to me quite well, thank you.

Quote of the Day: Hardworking?

Over 2,100 comments were posted to "Why Rural America Voted for Trump", Robert Leonard, New York Times, 2017-01-05.

One of my favorites was submitted by Cam Chapel Hill, NC

"I'm sick of the expression "hardworking". Who doesn't consider themselves "hardworking"? I suspect being homeless and unemployed requires a great deal of 'hard work'.

"Be all this as it may: voting for Trump is like trying to lose weight on a diet of ice cream and cookies-you may enjoy the experience but you won't reach your goals."

Other commenters pointed out that agri-business has reduced the number of family farms, that Trump's billionaires are only posturing about their wanting to help rural America, and that one relative was working 60-hour weeks in New York City.

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

No, the jobs never returned

First, an aside.  The above is a parody of “No, he never returned.  He’ll ride forever beneath the streets of Boston.”  I often wonder why Charlie’s wife gave him a sandwich but never another nickel to pay his fare.

Trump’s claim about getting manufacturing jobs back made me think of an old Walter Reuther/Henry Ford anecdote about robots not buying cars.  For more on this story, see “How Will You Get Robots to Pay Union Dues?” “How Will You Get Robots to Buy Cars?"

Think of all the jobs that have been lost during my life time: elevator operators, typists, secretaries, gas jockeys, telephone operators (both telco and company in-house), ice men, shoe repair, and dry cleaners.

Think of all the jobs that have been made more efficient, reducing the number of people needed to do them.

Trash collectors: the trucks are bigger and semi-automated.  The driver often doesn’t have to get out of the cab to dump the cans in the truck.

Mail carriers: the carrier doesn’t have to keep walking to a storage box to get another sack of mail.  He or she fills the SUV with probably a whole day’s worth of mail.

Cashiers: When I was a grocery cashier years ago, I had to look for the price on every can or package to enter it in the cash register.  Also, we had to get approval from the head cashier for a check.  Now, the cashier takes a check without question. .  Many stores also expect customers to bag their own groceries.

Billing department clerks:  Many people pay online with the whole transaction untouched by human hands.  The statement is posted in email, the customer submits a credit card number, and Voila!  All done in a few minutes without having put a check in the mail or without having a clerk open the envelope and enter the check in a ledger.

Bank tellers:  Much of our income is deposited directly to our accounts, even while the remaining tellers are asleep.  If we need cash, we go to an ATM.  Many of us may never set foot inside a bank.  About the only reasons to go into a bank are to open an account, get a loan, and access a safe deposit box.

Stock brokers: forty years ago we had to call in our buy or sell orders and wait for the broker to get back to us with the price of the transaction.  On top of that, we had to pay several dollars varying according to dollar amount of the transaction.  Now we get on our computers, type in a transaction, and often have it completed within seconds, and pay a flat, known fee for each transaction, whether for a few hundred dollars or for thousand dollars.

Carpenters: when I was in high school, many craft unions had clauses restricting the use of power tools.  Now many carpenters have so many personal power tools that no way do they want to use hand tools when a power tool is faster and easier.

Truck drivers:  I remember when auto carriers had space for four vehicles.  Now many have space for six or more vehicles.  I don’t remember the length of trailers in the 50s, but I do remember how trucking companies successfully lobbied for 53-foot trailers and “double bottoms” (two trailers pulled by one tractor).

Farming: equipment has gotten bigger and more efficient allowing farmers to have much larger fields.  Automatic milkers.  In Iceland we saw an automatic milk machine.  The cows lined up to take their turn, being enticed by some food.  The machine would wash the teats. put the milkers on them, and when the cow was dry, release her for the next one.  Also, the floor had an automatic sweeper for all the droppings.  The cows just stepped over it as it came by.

Dry Cleaners: how many of us wear suits that have be dry cleaned?  Once upon a time, men always wore suits to the office, church, or restaurants.  Now many wear blue jeans as a matter of course.  Wearing slacks to many is being formal.

Corporate accuracy?

I've been fiddling around with synchronization problems.  Notes on one device are not being updated on other devices.  While working on this problem, I've had to give a password.  Of course, I used the wrong password.

As part of resetting the password, I've been told by Apple that someone has been using another device to reset my password from such and such location.  On one device, I was told that the location was near St. Cloud MN.  I'm in Duluth MN.  Later, on a different device, the location was near Chicago IL.

Gosh!  What if I lose my iPhone?  Will Find My Phone tell me its in Chicago?

This is corporate accuracy or efficiency???

Just who are the 3% of climate scientists?

You don’t need to be a scientist to understand the science of global warming.

One, carbon dioxide is a heat-trapping gas.

Two, carbon dioxide is created by burning carbon: wood, coal, oil and its by-products.

Three, if wood is used and replanted, we have a virtuous cycle.  Wood is burned and trees take up the carbon dioxide, making more carbon

Four, if coal or oil are burned, they are taking carbon from under the ground, but there seems to be few ways to convert this carbon dioxide into underground carbon.
.
Five, geothermal on a large scale is not an answer.  It may not be adding carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, but it is taking heat from underground that is not put back underground.

Six, nuclear energy is not the answer.  First, it generates a lot of heat that must be dissipated somewhere.  Second, what do you do with the very hazardous waste?

That leaves only with wind, solar and tidal power.  It is bad enough that there are naysayers about global warming, but each of these energy sources has problems with storage for when they are not available.  No wind, no sun, or no nearby tides.

The way technology is changing, the storage problems may be solved in the next ten years or so.  Battery technology is improving in power and cost.  Will dynamos or capacitors be far behind?

Oh, by the way, who employs the three percent who claim not enough evidence has been gathered to confirm global warming.  Could it be polluters?  Even EXXON scientists are saying that global warming exists.

"Eppur si riscalda!” - “And yet it warms”, a variant of “Eppur si muove” - “And yet it moves”, incorrectly attributed to Galileo after he recanted his findings to the Pope.