Friday, April 28, 2017

I’m back!

I had an angiogram about two weeks ago to map out the blockages in my heart.  A week later I had open-heart surgery for a bypass and valve replacement.  I stayed in the hospital for about a week and came home earlier this week.

I met lots of interesting and helpful staff.  They stuck by me even when I had some paranoid delusions.

I can’t drive for a month after the surgery and then have limited activities for another month.

My wife has been a great help despite some of my bursts of impatience.

One of those impatiences seems to be that the print on the screen seems to be smaller.

I hope to soon write a blog post "Modern medicine and Let them eat cake politicians”.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Corporate efficiency?

Olive is software to put facsimiles of the newspaper print editions on line.  By clicking on an article, a reader can see a more screen friendly copy of an article.  Both the Duluth News Tribune and the Star Tribune have Olive editions.  I subscribe to both, partly to get the comics rather than the text of some of the articles.

But for years the Olive edition has had a major flaw; a flaw that still exists in the current version rolled out last year.  I don't know where they get o• writing about people like Je•rey.

The Olive edition of the 2017-04-17 Duluth News Tribune converted a USA Today article about North Korea to:

"The secretive state also showed o• a submarine-launched missile that it successfully fired last year.
"Analysts said that the weapons on display raised new questions about North Korea’s capacities going forward. Je•rey Lewis, director of the East Asia Nonproliferation Program at Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, Calif., called the show 'a bewildering array of new missile-related hardware.'"

I did change the quote marks to match the standard for quoting material that includes quotes.

Given all the product recalls, the unfriendly skies of the airlines, and much more, I would say the only efficiency in far too many corporations is move as much revenue as possible to the CEOs and board members.  Gosh, I wish I could get $250,000 or more for showing up for six board meetings a year.  And many of these people, including the CEO's are on the boards of several companies.

Beer, gin, and fact checking

Every so often I visit FactCheck.org or POLITIFACT.  The latter uses “Pants on Fire” for the most outrageous claims.

The FactCheck story that caught my interest was the claim that increased beer drinking reduced the drinking of gin in 18th Century England.  This claim was made by Sen. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana at the confirmation hearing of Scott Gottlieb, Trump’s nominee to head the Food and Drug Administration.  Al Franken was skeptical.  Thanks, Al!  Maybe the “ruling” party should be called Republiars; they certainly aren’t concerned with Res Publica (public things).

My choice of the day from POLITIFACT was “Fake theory that Barack Obama hid millions of taxpayer dollars offshore started on parody site”.  Maybe “conservatives” should be called “connedgullibles”.

Friday, April 14, 2017

All the world is a phage,

And we are but carriers of it.

Phage is short for bacteriophage; it means bacteria eater.  Phages can be beneficial by killing bacteria in wounds.  On the other hand, they can also make other bacteria more dangerous.

Inspired by University of Minnesota, Duluth, University for Seniors class on micro-organisms., 2016-03-06

I thought of this phrase independently, but a Google search for "all the world is a phage" turned up many sites that had used this phrase long before I did.

“How to Stand Up to Trump and Win”

Nicholas Kristof gives several ideas about standing up to Trump in a New York Times article, 2017-04-13.  See https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/13/opinion/how-to-stand-up-to-trump-and-win.html.

When I forwarded the link to my wife, I added the comment "Don’t just hold a sign. Experts share how to resist and get results.”

U.S. Tax Preparation, special interests making our life miserable

I posted the following comment to “Filling taxes in japan is a breeze, why not here?”, T.R. Reid, New York Times, 2017-04-17.

When we lived in Italy and Sweden (1968-1974) we filled out four-page forms for those countries' taxes. And then we had to at least fill out a two-page form for the U.S. But we didn't have much investment income then.

I have tried tax software, but their question format takes longer than doing my own spreadsheet. I tried the Free-Filer that the IRS site links to, but it doesn't provide instant recalculations like my spreadsheet does.

Maybe I shouldn't say this because some lobbyist will get Congress to take this benefit away: the IRS does provide fillable PDF forms that you can fill out offline instead of handwriting the data.

I should have added to my comment the old adage: We have the best Congress that money can buy!

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Trump, Taxes, and military adventures

Mr. Trump has proudly acknowledged that he fights to pay as little tax as possible so that the federal government cannot waste his money.
- https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/07/us/politics/democrats-see-opening-in-tax-overhaul-fight-trumps-own-deductions.html

So now he is busy wasting our money with military attacks that didn't do much lasting damage, with increased military spending in a military budget that dwarfs quite a few of the next largest military budgets combined.

Does "Make America Great Again" mean being able to engage in whatever military fiasco Trump wants?  Ah, but he doesn't read history: Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, and now Syria.

And he forgets the American Revolution: a ragtag bunch of locals beat a seasoned army of a superpower of the day.  Ah, they did get some help from an enemy of the superpower, but that superpower was acting under the direction of the American generals.  The American generals were not acting under the direction of the superpower.

Thursday, April 06, 2017

Is there a Common Sense Party?

A Google search put a British Common Sense Party at the top of the list.

As far as the U.S. goes, almost every link I found did not find a current Common Sense Party.

https://ballotpedia.org/Common_Sense_Party had a rather hard-nosed idea of common sense, sort of casting blame all over the map.  The “Official website” link gave “Server not found”.

http://www.commonsenseparty.org/home.html has lots of common sense quotes, but the website is for sale.  It is copyright by the Common Sense Party who will consider all serious offers.  It can be reached through its contact page: http://www.commonsenseparty.org/contact-us.html

The Centrist Party seems like a believable alternative.  Its website is http://uscentrist.org/ which is currently active.  The latest blog entry is dated 2017-03-28: http://uscentrist.org/news/the-common-sense-blog-the-ins-and-outs-of-congress

Its philosophy does use unclear definitions of “free market, limited government and individual liberty” but does call for “protecting the common good”.  We should consider that the balance between the two goals will always be unclear.

A Stanford student, Kyle D’Souza, gave a reasonable call, “The common sense party” http://www.stanforddaily.com/2017/01/13/the-common-sense-party/.  This was in January. It only had one comment which I thought was off the wall.

The American Common Sense Party seems to be a one-person party on Facebook, the last entry being 2016-03-09.

The Common Sense Party also is on Facebook.  It’s latest entry, 2017-03-22, was a link to Washington Post article of the same date: “Ex-Colo. GOP leader said only Democrats committed voter fraud.  Now he’s charged with voter fraud.

There are other recent articles about a “Common Sense Party”, but my quick scan showed that some are only local, not national or even state-wide.

Like the then moderate Republican Party arose from the Whig Party, maybe a true moderate party will arise from the current non-Lincoln Republican Party.

Monday, April 03, 2017

Another example of well-functioning goverment

Often when spring comes, many of the pipes on sidewalks for water-shut-off start rising up, providing an annoyance to runners and walkers.

At 8:49 this morning I sent the following message through the Duluth water and gas service website.

Spring has sprung, the ground heaves, and the water-turn-off pipes rise to trip the unwary walker.
Please add my address to your long list of tasks.

At 14:20 I sent the following message.

Thanks for the fast service on tamping down the water-shut-off pipe.  Another fine example of good government service.

If we really stop to think about it, there is a long list of government services at all levels that are provided efficiently and courtesy: Post Office, fire departments, Social Security, snowplowing, parks, and on and on.

I think the government bashing is mostly from those who don't want to pay taxes for any of the many services they receive.  They would rather provide these services themselves and make a profit from them.  How well, does the private sector perform?  Just consider all the problems you have with the device that you are using to read this.  How many help desks have provided prompt and correct answers?  Yes, you can find many corporations that provide quality products and services, but it often depends on management.  Good management is found in the public and private sectors.  Bad management is found in the public and private sectors.


Sunday, April 02, 2017

Religious Americans who believe war is murder shouldn’t be forced to fund it

This my counter to “Religious Americans who believe abortion is murder shouldn’t be forced to fund it”, one of the opinions in “Should the new Congress defund Planned Parenthood”, Duluth News Tribune, 2017-04-02.

It boggles my mind that those who want to ban abortion seem to have no qualms of supporting a party that is all to willing to go to war wherever they think “American interests” are at stake.  War causes many unwanted abortions, abortions the victimized mothers would not want if they had survived the bombing or gunfire.  Even if the mothers had survived, would the stress of war caused spontaneous abortions in some of them.

These anti-abortion, pro-war “religious” seem to forget “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.  - Matthew 5:9.  They also seem to have ignored “Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble.” Peter I 3:8.

An avian cocktail party

No tern left unstoned.

What does it take to become an "American"?

Comment to
http://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/01/opinion/sunday/why-is-this-hate-different-from-all-other-hate.html?comments#permid=22009533

Many Americans consider themselves to be Swedish or Italian or Polish because of where their grandparents or earlier were born, but are they really?  I have four great-grandparents born in England and four who were born in Germany or in what is now Poland.

But I do not consider myself English, German, or Polish.  I consider myself American.  I grew up here, my parents grew up here, and my grandparents grew up here.  Actually one grandmother was born in Schliesen, now part of Poland, but she went to American schools all her life.

When I went to England, I was not English, but a Yank.  When I went to Germany I was not German, but ein Amerikaner.

We will continue to have people from elsewhere come to the U.S., settle, and adopt many American ways.  Some will keep customs of their parents or grandparents; others will blend in.  Some will keep their religious views; some will change.  Consider the Amish.  Although there may be hostility to them by some, they are accepted by most people.  Can't we treat all newcomers with the same respect?

Oh, it gets more complicated.  My extended family includes people whose ancestors were born in Japan, China, and Africa.  I consider all of these as Americans first, and whatever as a matter of historic interest.