Thursday, August 29, 2013

Facebook comment on Charles M. Blow's editorial on MLK and leadership

I posted a link to Charles M. Blow's New York Times editorial "The Most Dangerous Negro" on my Facebook page with the comment:

"I won't remonstrate if you don't demonstrate,
but I will if you don't put down the remote and vote!"

This was considering that demonstrations sometimes have a better turnout than the elections.

In other words, demonstrate if you will, don't demonstrate if choose not to, but be sure to vote if you demonstrated for a cause.  My take on voting turnout in state after state is that many will sign petitions or show up at a demonstration, but their number too often far exceeds the votes actually cast in support of that cause.

Quote of the day - Anti-war stance

"The antiwar cause has always been better served by brave dissenters like La Follette than by political chameleons like Kellogg."

"Frank Kellogg: Before peace prize he was a hawk", Oliver Steinberg, Letter to the Star Tribune, 2013-08-28

It's all in the name

A trucker noticed many farmers each driving to town every day with their product.  He thought that he could save them money by delivering for them.

He made the rounds and couldn't get a single customer.

He went to a bar and told his tale.  One friend looked out at the logo on the driver's truck and said, "Well, Fred Basket, none of them want to put all of his eggs in one Basket!"

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Corporations are efficient…at hiding problems

Admittedly, many corporations are run quite well and are open about their products and their effect on customers and the environment.

But those who extol corporate efficiency over government efficiency should seriously consider the malfeasance and ineptitude of many companies like Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) whose Fukushima nuclear power complex is rapidly poisoning our planet.  Talk about externalities being covered in a "free market", not!

Now the Japanese government has taken over management of the containment, citing the among other things TEPCO's "Whack-a-mole" approach, inadequate monitoring, and faulty record keeping.  The president of TEPCO, Naomi Hirose said, "We are very grateful that we are getting government support".  He didn't mention all the government subsidies to even get the facility started and running.

It's Adam Smith all over again: this "order… has deceived and oppressed the public."

See "TEPCO 'Whack-a-Mole' Means Government Takeover in Fukushima", Yuji Okada, Takashi Hirokawa, and Jacob Adelman, Bloomberg, 2013-08-26.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

World War III or IV has begun!

Email to President Barack Obama via

You are considering what to do about the atrocities committed in Syria, but if history is any guide, you will be fighting the wrong war.  You will be fighting an aerial bomb war but somebody has already started an electronic war.  Your bomb war will only make the electronic war worse.

The Syrian Electronic Army has already claimed to shut down the New York Times web site twice.  What have they done besides annoy a lot of people.  We don't know, but they may have stolen passwords and credit card information.  We don't know, but they may have planted little viruses that change a story or even plant their own stories.  We don't know, but they may spread a virus to the computers of readers of the New York Times.  I do know that after attempting to access the New York Times I had more and more difficulty accessing other sites.

How will your aerial bomb war make the electronic war worse?  Your bomb war will recruit more electronic warriors on behalf of Syria, and this will happen without any help from the Syrian government.  Many of these warriors may not even be in Syria.  Are you going to bomb Moscow because the Syrian Electronic Army's site is hosted in Russia?

And the more Syrian Electronic Army Units there are, the more damage they can do.  Bring down NASDAQ?  It recently had an outage.  Was it a coding error?  Or was it an attack?  What other weevils lurk in the hearts of these men?  Instead of stealth bombers, you need to find lots of Shadows!

See also

Syria – A letter to the President of the United States

I posted the following on "Contact Us" at

Before you were born, the Department of War became the Department of Defense.  Unfortunately, several times since the Department of Defense has become the Department of Offense with disastrous results for troops, our citizens, the economy, and other countries' views towards us.

If we are truly to have a Department of Defense, what is the threat that dictators like Assad pose towards the U.S.?  Is he going to invade us?  If we invade Syria you can rest assured that action will breed terrorists who will invade us.

If Assad is a threat to the region, don't Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait have enough U.S. equipment to take on Assad?

If the U.S. sticks its nose into Syria, it will only give these countries cover to not take action themselves, leaving us as the fall guy when things go badly.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Assumptions of a gun slinger

A picture of a man with a gun at his hip accompanies an article about guns at the State Capitol, "Capitol debate triggers show of weapons", Jim Ragsdale, Star Tribune, 2013-08-20.  The bearer of the gun said he feels safer with his own weapon.

His first assumption is that he is under threat of bodily harm by somebody.  Are any of the state representatives or senators going to threaten him with a gun?  Do any of these politicians carry a gun in the State Capitol?  Maybe he is afraid Capitol security might throw him out.

His second assumption is that if he is threatened by someone with a gun that he can pull out his gun, take off the safety, aim, disable the other person before that person even fires a shot, and not hit any bystanders.  Even police with extensive firearms training can't accomplish that very often.  Think of the Fort Hood shooting where a police officer with a marksmanship award was downed before she could hit the shooter.

His third assumption is that nobody will sneak up behind him and grab his weapon.  Many police officers have been killed with their own weapons.

His fourth assumption is that he is a "law-abiding" citizen with a permit to carry and therefore should be trusted to use his gun responsibly.  "Law-abiding" citizens with permits to carry have deliberately killed others with their guns.  The fired employee who killed the father of another hearing witness was such a "law abiding" citizen.

By contrast, Federal law prohibits guns in Federal facilities.  The penalty for having "a firearm or other dangerous weapon" in a Federal facility is a fine or up to one year in prison or both.  If the Federal facility is a court the prison term can be up to two years.  See "18 USC § 930 - Possession of firearms and dangerous weapons in Federal facilities".

Interestingly, the Texas Legislature considers tampons more dangerous than guns.  Its guards "confiscated tampons as possible threats to lawmakers’ safety" but waved those with guns through, "Guns at the Capitol? Beware of the recoil", Dennis Anderson, Star Tribune, 2013-08-23.

Quips of the day - boom and hype

Paul Krugman used "prophets of boom" and "hype springs eternal" in his New York Times column of 2002-04-30, "Herd on the Street", also published in "The Great Unraveling", p. 75.

I think Krugman is a master of the English language as well as of economics.  Of the latter, his own Cassandra-like predictions have come true more often than not.  The people in power didn't listen to his warnings, he was right, and they still don't listen.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Did the flocks get the pox from the phlox?

This silly rhyme came to me as I put a flower stamp on an envelope.

Let's try a haiku for this:

Far too many flocks
Became really sick with pox
Passing over phlox.

Corporations are killing the geese that lay the golden eggs

Corporations are sitting on lots of cash but won't hire new employees because there is insufficient demand.  There is insufficient demand because too many people don't have enough money to buy as many goods and services as they would like.  Because not enough people buy goods and services, corporations won't hire.  Because too many people don't have enough money…

Intergenerational payments are not a zero sum game

Many complain that Social Security is taking from the young to pay for the old.  That is, this transfer is a zero sum game where the winnings of one are equal to the losses of others.

But consider that we play another zero sum game.  Think about those who complain about paying for schools because they don't have children or grandchildren in school.

Now if the older people are paying taxes to support public schools and the younger people are paying taxes for seniors' Social Security payments, isn't the combined system a win-win situation?

And there is more to support this win-win situation.

If older people don't pay for children's education where are the doctors going to come from?  Police and fire?  Government?  Inventors of devices and medicines to prolong life?  Sports figures to entertain?

If younger people don't pay for older peoples' retirement and health, might the older people stay working longer, leaving fewer jobs for younger people?

And the list goes on.  Older people paid for the infra-structure that younger people use today.  Would we have highways, communication systems, buildings, and much else that was paid for in full by people now dead?

I did something truly unique but "ignored"

As I inserted "ALEC" as a label for "Poster: A warning from the 'Invisible Hand'" Google's Blogger offered the suggestion "ALEC's Bag-Time Band".  Oh! That's clever.  Oh! I had used it in another blog entry.  I did a search for it and received two hits and only two hits!  It was for "Republicans are not republicans" that I wrote in May 2012.

The good news is that my phrase was a first and unique.  The bad news is that nobody passed it on.  No wonder the reverse spammers from Russia and elsewhere make so many hits on my blog:(

Poster: A warning from the "Invisible Hand"

Here is a poster for you to send to any writer or politician who has taken a position for or against corporate influence in public affairs.  Drag the poster to your favorite document or mail program and print or send as many copies as you would like.  All I ask is that you include the link at the bottom.

A super-efficient corporation

The St. Louis Dispatch published an editorial "ALEC's backers run and hide from Durbin inquiry" on August 14.  It was republished in the Star Tribune on August 18.

I sent a thank-you email to Tony Messenger, the editorial page editor of the St. Louis Dispatch, with my usual quote, and he sent a thank-you email one minute later!

It is also good to see that not all members of a group march in lockstep with what some members of that group demand.

And an over-promising corporation

A pop-up ad for MacKeeper states "Instant Mac cleanup".  Does this mean as soon as I click the "Start" or whatever button in MacKeeper that MacKeeper will have cleaned up my Mac?  I strongly doubt it.  Ten minutes, two hours, longer?  I don't know.  It really depends on how much data is on a Mac.  Backing up via Time Machine or running Norton Anti-Virus can take up to two hours on my Mac.  I doubt that MacKeeper will be any faster.

Monday, August 19, 2013

A salmon attacked me!

After seeing the DVD "Forks Over Knives" and related DVDs and reading the books, we have gone to a mostly plant-based diet, losing a bit of weight and having a bit more energy.

About the time we started this diet, a friend sent us some salmon from Alaska.  We have often eaten salmon in the past, often as much as once a week.  It is a standing joke between us, if there are any bones in the fish, I find them and my wife finds none.

This last serving was the revenge of the salmon!  Every bite I took had at least one bone in it if not three!  Halfway through my portion I gave up.  I was chewing and chewing and picking and picking; it was too frustrating to enjoy the taste.

It won't help that salmon, but a few of its buddies will escape my jaw in the future.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Jefferson, Smith, and Large Corporations

Although Thomas Jefferson's Declaration of Independence was written as a complaint against the King of England it really was a complaint about royal and parliamentary support of abusive crown-chartered private corporations.

Similarly, in the same year Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations warned of the corporate control of government and corporate abusiveness towards the British public.

Now we have Paul Krugman warning of the control of government by Delaware-chartered corporations and their abusiveness towards the American public.

And many of these corporations wrap themselves in the flag and Adam Smith!!!

To paraphrase "Where have all the flowers gone?" when will we ever learn?

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Like you haiku?

Haiku an art form
I cannot think how to do.
Once I start oh wow.

Haiku you can do.
Just forget correct grammar.
And write what you think.

In the dark of night
I wrote haiku left and right.
Gone with morning mist.

Impatient patient
Waiting, waiting, and waiting.
Doc will see you now!

I had these haiku (5 syllables, 7 syllables, 5 syllables) in my notes for a few months.  It seems it was only that day that haiku just kept popping out of my head.  I really haven't thought of any since.

It could be a good thing to do when you can't think of anything else to do.

It is a good thing
To think difficult deep thoughts,
Results could come quickly.

Count so carefully,
Two of the haiku I wrote
Had more syllables.

Now it is bedtime,
But my brain is now working
Overtime darn it!

Let's get the criminals that really matter

Law enforcement seems to be making the wrong assumptions about who criminals are.  See


Monday, August 12, 2013

Unlimited has its limits

I was considering switching from CenturyLink for phone and internet to Enventis, but the cost would be about the same or maybe even slightly higher; Enventis might not even be available in Duluth.

I couldn't help but smile at
Unlimited Long Distance
• $15.00/mo*
The asterix points to a paragraph that states "Usage over 5,000 minutes [per month] will be billed at 5¢ per minute" or that Enventis can cancel the service.

At least I didn't see "The possibilities are limitless!"  See "The endless use of 'infinite'" and "Great speech but erroneous mathematics".

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Overperforming corporation, underperforming customer

Long, long ago we were given a screen house and a platform by some friends.  See "Legacy Tools".  We have ordered parts now and then as needed.  But over time, the roof developed pinholes, roof struts had tips break, and the floor rotted.  We took the floor boards off and chewed them up in the chipper.  This was the year to fix the floor.  Yeah!  That year went by, and another, and another.

Finally, we hired a handyman to put on another floor and replace some stringers.  He gave us an estimate for that.  And then we talked and talked with the handyman.  The end result was that he completely rebuilt the platform, much better than I would have.  We were momentarily shocked when he sent an invoice for twice the original estimate.  We quickly realized that we would be paying for what we asked for.

Finally I went to the distributor for the screen tent, Kay Home Products, and ordered the needed parts: a new roof and one strut.  The distributors web site gave the usual estimate about shipping time: 7-14 days.  Imagine our delight when the parts arrived three days later.

On Friday my wife put a second coat of water seal on the platform, and on Saturday we were ready to reassemble the screen house.  That is a story in itself.

When I was ready to insert the new strut, I noticed that it had no tip to hold on to the wire running around the top of the screen house.  I carefully looked in all the wrappings and other packing material.  No tip!

I used my wife's cell phone to check the parts page in the distributors web site.  I was able to enlarge the page to see the items and their numbers.  Sure enough, 3 points to "Roof tube only" in the description and 5 points to "Tube tips".

Dear customer, if all else fails, read instructions!

Also think where you put notes: the parts diagram was on my computer in a much larger format that was far easier to read.  Since I can't get internet at our cabin, I didn't even think of my computer where I had saved a PDF of the page!!!

I'll place the order for a set of tube tips and assume that they will arrive as speedily as the rest of the order did.

Meanwhile, the missing tube tip is almost a moot point.  I did find a forked branch that, cut to size, will go in a roof tube and fit over the wire, at least for awhile.  However, the roof still needs lots of stretching to fit over each of the tube tips.  Maybe next weekend will be warmer and the roof will be softer.

Speaking of next weekend, it's time for the 31st Annual Brimson Sisu, a "4.4 mile" walk-run.  Even if you don't care to run or walk it, come out for lots of good food and get some cool T-shirts and caps.  I have a hunch that this is the year of the sky.  You can also buy T-shirts and caps for some past years.

If for no other reason, come to buy some of my wife's killer brownies.  They may be plant-based this year if she can find a good recipe or alter one in which the brownies were too gooey.  If not, she may make them just as she has in the past.

Thursday, August 08, 2013

Deceiving the public – new data

"[Those who live by profit] have, upon many occasions, both deceived and oppressed [the public]", Adam Smith, Wealth of Nations, 1776.

"The Worst Lies Tech Companies Tell You", Adrian Covert, CNNMoney, 2013-08-07 lists some of these deceptions including internet speeds, battery life, and storage space.  The comments are all over the map pro, con, right on, and snide (both towards the author and towards corporations).

See also "The Invisible Adam Smith".

Monday, August 05, 2013

The fraudulent campaign against "voter fraud"

"The list of acceptable forms [of voter ID} includes a concealed-handgun license but not a state university student ID. The omission suggests it is not voter fraud but voters unfriendly to the GOP that Abbott and other Texas Republicans are trying to thwart."

"The Republican Push to Make It Harder to Vote", Linda Killian, The Atlantic, 2013-08-02

The same article has a statement from the Libertarian Party:

“Republicans claim to be the party of limited government. Now we see what that term really means: when Republicans say limited government, they apparently mean government limited to them and their supporters.”

What too few people realize is that too many who had only themselves to blame for not voting let Republicans win time after time.

As of 2013-08-04, registration in North Carolina was 2,765,857 Democratic and 1,987,750 Republican.  But here is something strange, the vote in 2010 for governor was 1,931,580 for Walter H. Dalton (DEM) and 2,440,707 for Pat McCrory (REP).  Does this mean over 500,000 Democrats voted for McCrory?  Does it mean that over 800,000 Democrats didn't even show up and Republicans picked up over 400,000 votes from non-affiliated voters?  Turnout in 2012 was 68%.  68% of 2,765,857 is 1,880,783.  Given that Romney got 50.39% of the vote in 2012, I lean to the notion that lots and lots of Democrats were disappointed in Obama and just didn't show up.  How to lose elections in one easy lesson!

Another point, maybe too many Democrats voted for President but left much of the rest of the ballot blank - 2,178,391 Obama and 2,270,395 Romney.  Reading these tea leaves is really getting confusing.  Obama received more votes than Dalton, but McCrory received more votes than Romney.  About the only firm conclusion I can come to it is that at least 21% of the registered Democrats did not vote for Obama and at least 30% of the registered Democrats did not vote for Dalton.

Thursday, August 01, 2013

Serendipity leads to weight loss

We put a number of Meryl Streep DVDs on our Netflix queue and have enjoyed most of them.  One of these was "First Do No Harm" about the frustrations of a mother with an epileptic child.  After so many chemicals were injected into him with adverse effects and no sign of benefit, through much research she found that the ketogenic diet was promoted at Johns Hopkins.  According to the film, a composite of severals true stories, the diet completely eliminated his seizures.  For more details see

I think, but am not sure, when we selected "First Do No Harm", Netflix recommended "Forks over Knives", a documentary on a plant-based diet, and I added it to my queue.  We saw it a few weeks ago, borrowed the book from the library as well as a companion book, "The Engine 2 Diet".  You can find out more at  What I liked best in the DVD was the animation of plaque dissolving off the arteries.  Since I'm seeing a cardiologist once a year because I have an aortic restriction, I'd love to have the plaque dissolve and for my cholesterol to drop.

Based on the documentary and what we read in the two books, we decided to give the plant-based diet a try. We've cut out dairy and eggs and have all but eliminated meat.  We still have some salmon in the freezer.

I've lost a three or so pounds and the "pinch" has gone from an inch to 3/4 inch.  I also may have to buy a new belt; I'm on the last hole and have a long tail of belt sticking out.

The rash on my arms that I have attributed to balsam fir at our cabin has almost completely gone.  That probably was mostly because I stopped wearing an old work shirt that was 50% polyester.  I'll take either explanation.

The Forks Over Knives website has an irony for me.  The T-shirt they offer is 90% polyester!!

Most of the recipes, which call for a large variety of fruits and vegetables have been tasty and filling.  But we had two disappointments today. Black-bean based brownies were mushy instead of firm and a polenta pizza was mushy instead of crisp.  My wife, an artist in the kitchen, will experiment for improvements, but she may switch to other recipes in the other book.

As I talk about "Forks Over Knives" with others, I'm hearing anecdotes that others have been pleased with the results.  The most dramatic was a report of a man who lost 80 pounds!