Friday, December 30, 2016

Donald Trump came in third, not second

Forrest Johnson’s latest column in the Reader Weekly stated that Donald Trump came in second ("Dear President-Elect Donald the Clown").  The reality is that Trump came in third; the real winner was a de facto “None of the above”.

Wikipedia gives the following figures:

Turnout - 55.3%
Trump -  62,979,879 45.95%
Clinton - 65,844,954 48.04%

Neither received a majority of the votes, but Trump is acting like he has a mandate.  In almost every election (too many) where a candidate doesn’t get a clear majority, the winner acts like he did.  If we didn’t have the Electoral College mucking things up, Clinton probably would act like she had a mandate.

In this year’s election, Trump received the votes of 25.4% of the electorate.  Clinton did only slightly better with the votes of 26.6% of the electorate.  This is not the way to run a “democracy”.

Few candidates have the humility to admit that more people didn’t show up than voted for him or her.  This holds for local elections as well as national elections.

It is far better to show up and leave a slot blank than to not show up at all.  In the first case your vote “counts” because you are part of the electorate.  In the second case your “vote” will never be counted.

The Election Project has slightly different figures, but the result is just as bad for democracy.

Turnout - 60%
Voting Eligible Population - 231,556,622
Ballots - 138,884,632

We will only have a democracy is when all eligible voters truly believe the following:

The only way
You throw your vote away
Is to stay away!

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Better ads on this site?

Whenever I look at one of my entries as you see them, I am appalled at too many of the negative political ads that are shown.

Indict Joe Schmoe: Vote here
Jane Doe unfit for office: Vote here

I doubt that many of my readers would fall for these push polls.

Well, I think I finally got rid of them by clicking the right choices in some of the background stuff for ads.  I know I’ve been seeing ads instead for a local car dealer and some other local company.

If you see me and like the change, please let me know.

And if you like this blog, please tell your friends.

Thanks, Mel

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

I found the grouch picture!

Well, well!  I had a picture in my head that was what I saw before I put the camera to my eye.  After eight years that image was stronger than the actual picture on my computer.

So here is the “grouch that stole Christmas”.  I called it Snowppet.

All things are connected

In a reply to my Christmas letter, one relative noted that her nephew died in the fire at the Ghost Ship in Oakland, California.

I responded with

"Your note about your nephew’s death reinforces my belief that we are all connected, often by far less than six degrees of separation.

“Any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee.”
- John Donne

Sunday, December 25, 2016

A Belated Christmas Letter (to most who sent me letters and to some who didn't)

Oh, the momentous choices!  What font to use!  I didn’t want to use my usual Helvetica or one that was fancy but hard to read.  So I chose Kailasa, mostly because I tired of looking at all the choices. (Blogger doesn't give me this choice.)

Here I sit on Christmas Day having procrastinated for one reason or another.  The last reason took over two days before I gave up.

The reason: having already put this off, I thought I had the perfect photo.  It was a waist-high stump at our cabin that was coated with snow and was topped with snow that had slid to one side, giving the impression of a head.  I was going to put under the picture:

I am not the grouch that stole Christmas;
I just procrastinate too much!

Problem is: I can’t find the picture!  I spent two days looking at all my devices for the picture.  I looked at some folders two or three times.  NADA!  Why do I have such a clear memory of a picture I can’t find?  I am sure I saw it in front of the printer two weeks ago.

To make up for this procrastination, I am sending this by email.  Otherwise, I might not get the envelopes done until next year!

So, here we sit in Duluth, wimping out on going to our cabin because of a predicted snow storm.  Also we are getting leery of driving in the dark (now at five in the afternoon).  About six weeks ago Jan hit a deer, in daylight but heavy shade.  She looked for the deer but never found it. Her car was drivable, but it took a few days of body work.

Otherwise, it has been a usual year: fitness center, cabin, meetings, plays, concerts, and family visits: in person, by telephone, or FaceTime.

We are slowly growing older, sometimes feeling it, sometimes doing things better than we ever did before!

May your coming year be one of good health and interesting activities, even if it is only lots of good books.

P.S. A sister-in-law has already responded.  She misses my fruitcake of yore.  I replied that the recipe is at

Relevant ads?

If you know me personally, would you let me know what you think of the ads that are attached to my blog entries?

Friday, December 23, 2016

Is climate change God's warning to those who pollute?

The Duluth News Tribune had an article about climate scientists who are worried about Donald Trump's proposed appointments.

"Florida climate scientists worry as Trump picks his Cabinet and sea levels rise"

"These choices dismay Dan Weiss, a clean-energy consultant who has led climate change programs for several major environmental organizations.

“'Nominating climate science deniers to head EPA, Energy and Interior is the same as appointing an arsonist to head the fire department,' he told McClatchy. 'South Florida should get used to higher floods than it has today.'”

- Duluth News Tribune, 2016-12-22.

Maybe global warming is "fire the next time"?

Adam Smith warned "Don’t trust Donald Trump’s appointees!”

 "The proposal of any new law or regulation of commerce which comes from this order, ought always to be listened to with great precaution, and ought never to be adopted till after having been long and carefully examined, not only with the most scrupulous, but with the most suspicious attention. It comes from an order of men, whose interest is never exactly the same with that of the public, who have generally an interest to deceive and even to oppress the public, and who accordingly have, upon many occasions, both deceived and oppressed it." - pages 142-143, Adam Smith, PDF version of "Wealth of Nations" transcribed by the Gutenberg Project.  You can download a text copy from

Who are this "order of men”?  Those who live by profit.

Who has Donald Trump appointed to be in his administration?  Billionaires who have lived by profit many times over.  Is this a populist government?  Do pigs fly?

Given my small readership, I doubt you can make much influence.  But who knows how much influence you might have by passing this on to your Senators and Representatives?

The above quote originally appeared in “The Invisible Adam Smith”, 2012-10-25 Only 146 have viewed this page to date.  I feel like I’m just blowing in the wind.  But, Bob Dylan wrote, “The answer is blowin’ in the wind, my friend.”

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Liberal/conservative misnaming

Ross Douthat gave a long selection of books for “liberals” to read given that Donald Trump “won” the election.

Boy!  Did readers take him on, including the false dichotomy of liberal vs. conservative, or even it the labels are accurate.

My own contribution was:

The problem is not the division between "liberalism" and "conservatism". They are both misleading labels. For example, "liberals" can be very conservative about reigning in corporate power and "conservatives" can be very liberal about increasing corporate power. The real problem is the disinterest of too many people in voting at all. Lost in all the hoopla of Trump's "victory" is that he came in third to a de facto "none of the above”.


Whatever happened to real Republicans?

Once upon a time we were active Republican Party members at the precinct level. Then Reagan won the nomination instead of John Anderson, and Republicans became more rigid in their beliefs. It was about this time that the term RINO was coined: Republican In Name Only. And the Republicans stopped being a big tent party. This rigidity should not be mistaken for conservatism, a thoughtful consideration of change.

There have been a few bright spots like Bill Frenzel, Representative of 3rd Minnesota district, and Arne Carlson, Gov. of Minnesota after the Republican candidate imploded because of inappropriate behavior with teen-age girls. So much for the "moral" party. BTW Carlson still writes a blog:

Since then, there have been more and more rigid stances, including eight years of obstruction of a Democratic President. Bi-partisan legislation happens too infrequently.

I would say the only thing "conservative" is to "conserve our world view" despite plentiful evidence to the contrary.

Comment to New York Times article "On Where the Republican Party Went Wrong", Charlie Sykes, 2016-12-15

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Paean to true free market holdouts

As my regular readers know (probably too well) that I object strongly to the misuse of the term “free market”.  Too often it means that corporations should be free to do what they damn well please without pesky regulations like providing buyers with full information or air and water pollution reduction.

Well, there are a few markets where there are many sellers, not enough, but they seem to be holding their own.  These are locally-owned
hardware stores,
barbers and stylists
liquor stores
coffee shops
co-op groceries
book stores (only one locally owned new-book store left in Duluth)
We’ve been doing our best to patronize all of the above, but sometimes one has no choice but to patronize the large corporations
building supplies
computers and other electronics,
cell phone service
drug stores
automobiles (but most dealerships are locally owned)
gasoline (but a few stations are locally owned)
Hm!  I know we need a new political party that represents all the people instead of a bunch of special interests.  Maybe it should be called the True Free Market Party!

New, beautiful, design?

Companies keep changing their web sites in the interest of “improvements”, but they more often make them more complicated and user-unfriendly.

I’ve been using Yahoo! Finance for years to get daily quotes for a small list of stocks.  I made the request from a very obvious text block on the home page.  Then either Firefox or Yahoo! Finance stopped allowing drag and drop, a very long-standing feature of the Macintosh.  Then Yahoo! Finance moved the quote text block somewhere else.  All in the name of improved interface for the users.

Boy!  I never did make it through all the user complaints about the changes.  I gave up on Yahoo! Finance and used TD Ameritrade instead.

Even with Ameritrade and its constantly changing home page it took me awhile to figure out how to consistently get the quotes I wanted.

But Ameritrade’s news page is a humble-jumble of hidden information

Where are the numbers in

Net Investment Income
Net Realized ST Cap Gains
Net Realized LT Cap Gains
Return of Capital or Other Capital Source

They are off the screen and can only be gotten by copying the area and pasting into a text document.  Even then, the lines are all a humble-jumble.

Google’s Blogger has also been “re-designed” by making text alignment non-workable.  I think I’ve sent feedback twice on this, but I guess Google is too busy on more “beautiful improvements”.

Even that great promoter of user-friendliness gives great features and takes away great features.  Once upon a time Apple worked very hard on ease of use.  Now they seem more concerned with “beautiful” document and spreadsheets.  I’m sorry I don’t want charts with bubble points; I want a chart with connected dots.

Monday, December 19, 2016

If a clown can be President, why not a comedian?

Now that Trump with all of his distortions of truth has officially become the next President, we should consider having a comedian as President.  A comedian shines truth on the antics of the powerful.

Think Jon Stewart.  He got Obama to laugh at himself.

Better yet, how about two comedians on the ballot in 2020?  What about pairing Jon Stewart with Al Franken?

Republicans skewered Franken as a comedian, unfit to be a U.S. Senator.  Now they have turned around and supported a clown for President.  I think Republicans disliked Franken because he exposed their hypocrisy.

We just dug out of our bookshelves “Lies: And the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right”, Al Franken, 2003.

Oh, yeah, he is still married to his first wife.

In 1999 Franken wrote “Why not me?: the inside story of the making and unmaking of Franken Presidency”.  I have ordered it from the Duluth Public Library.

When I had a telephone modem with unlimited access, I watched a lot of Jon Stewart on Facebook, I think.  Although his twirling his paper was tiresome, I found his skewering of the powerful, no matter their politics, delightful.  He used their own words to reveal contradictions.

If you want a sample how thoughtful Jon Stewart can be, watch his appearance on “CBS This Morning”, I think it was November 17, 2016.  See  Also look up on You Tube  his Twitter war with Donald Trump.

See also "Is Donald Trump a Threat to Democracy?"

Sunday, December 18, 2016

The perfect gift?

Where do all these vendors get the idea that something is the perfect gift for me to give or get?

My mail box and the newspapers and the store shelves all point to “The perfect gift”.

A new phone is not the perfect gift for someone who is satisfied with the one they already have.  A gift card for a store the recipient will never visit is not a perfect gift.  EBay, Apple, your local hardware store, Walgreen’s, on and on goes the list of purveyors of “the perfect gift”.

The only true perfect gift is world peace and no crime.  And we have far too many people that would rather kill people they don’t like or even know for world peace to be close at hand.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Is Donald Trump a Threat to Democracy?

Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt wrote an article with the above title that was published in the New York Times, 2106-12-16 at

I was surprised that a day later it was still open for comments with 1667.  I just had to put in my two cents with my the following comment.

"Let's stop blaming the system for the embarrassing low turnout, among the worst in the world, especially for a nation that regards itself as the greatest democracy in the world.

"Sure, many blocks to voting have been put up by corrupt, self-serving politicians. Sure, the "media" has spread many distorted stories that have discouraged many potential voters. But too many people willingly choose not to vote.

"What would the result have been if half the no- shows had actually voted? We really don't know. Maybe Clinton would have won. Maybe Trump might have done better than third to a defacto none of the above.

"Whatever elections come up next where you live, remind your friends and neighbors 'The only way You throw your vote away Is to stay away!'”

After I posted the above, I searched for “The only way You throw your vote away.  One of the top hits was  Justine posted a lot of right-on comments:

“If you fail to vote, you have only yourself to blame."
“Bad politicians are elected by Good People who don’t vote”
"If 99% of America showed up to vote, it wouldn’t matter what the 1% wanted.”
“Vote as if the future depends on it.  It does.”

She had a link to “HP Lovecraft Historical Society — Why settle for the lesser evil?”  As I had recently listened to a “To the best of our knowledge” podcast on HP Lovecraft  I thought I would check the link out.  Unfortunately, it was broken.  But I did find  Among the pictures is hooded figures holding signs for “Cthulhu for President 2016, Vote best evil”.  Cthulhu was a deep sea monster in one or more of Lovecraft’s stories.

What would have happened if there had been a massive vote for Cthulhu?  If Cthulhu won, the election would have to go to the runner-up because Cthulhu doesn’t exist?  But what if somebody had adopted that name?

I think this kind of tomfoolery indicates that we should have far better candidates running: people who truly want to make the U.S. a country for all of us rather than stoke their own egos or be in the pockets of the 1%.


Seven-no-trump is a winning bridge hand.  What can we do to make sure we have can win to have no Trump as a President?

The figures below are just out of my hat for effect.  We may need more or less of any of the figures below to actually to have no Trump as President?  Actually, with his thin skin he may bring about his own removal from office.

We need 70 electors to switch their votes from Trump to Clinton?

We need 7 Supreme Court members to declare his election void?

We need 70 Republican Representatives to impeach him?

We need 7 Republican Senators to try his impeachment?

This article was inspired by Elizabeth Renzetti, “Go ahead, laugh: Humour is the weapon in the fight against Trump”, The Globe and Mail, 2106-12-17.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

TrackR comment to Best Buy

My wife lost her key to our RAV4 and after many inquiries has not found it yet.  Getting a new key is rather pricey.

To avoid a repeat I decided to buy some tracking devices.  Based on some reviews, I chose TrackR over Tile.

The results so far have been mixed.  My main question is why do so many manufacturers make their product hard to use.  There is a large amount of literature about human interface design.

After having one round-about success with one TrackR and a bust with a second, I wrote the following review on the Best Buy website.  I also left some comments on the TrackR website but have yet to hear back from them.

My comment is also posted at

I found the iPhone App somewhat unresponsive and confusing to use. For example, it was several minutes before the app would respond the first time I opened it.  Then buttons didn't seem to work until I had maneuvered over the screens a bit.

The main screen is not intuitive.  It is divided into three overlapping parts: A summary of four items, a display with a map for where the the device is located (or the iPhone), and a summary of devices.  The selection of the overlapping parts is a stack fo three lines to go between the first and second part and three vertical dots to go between the second and third parts.  Why not double arrows?

The second TrackR I installed worked OK, but it would not respond after it left the house and returned.  Bluetooth settings don't recognize it inches away.

Also, the iPhone settings give tkr as the name of all TrackR devices installed.

Back to the workbench to get this straightened out, hopefully in a day or two,

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

More on Russian skullduggery on the internet

Views from Russia of this blog swamp views from all other countries combined.  I’ve known that reverse spammers visit low volume blogs, hoping the hapless blogger will click on the source URL to get who knows what result.  Takeover of my computer as a ‘bot for their nefarious activities?

Well, I got a peek at one URL from!.  After a redirect command it has a long string of characters that get truncated on my screen.  Since I never learned more than a rudimentary java script, I haven’t the foggiest idea what it all means.  And I won’t copy it here so that one of my loyal readers doesn’t fall into this nefarious trap.

See also

Monday, December 12, 2016

Movement afoot to “unelect” Trump


According to this article, in 14 of states where the voters that showed up favored Trump, the electors can vote for someone else without penalty.

I wonder if any of these petitions are limited to the people who actually showed up, or can those who didn’t bother to vote also sign the petitions?

Do I jest?  Not quite, the de facto winner of the 2016 election was “none of the above”.  Over 40% of eligible voters stayed home. See Voter Turnout Data - United States Elections Project.

231,556,622 voting eligible population (VEP)
137,297,086 ballots counted
59.3% turnout

94,259,536 didn’t cast a counted ballot
40.7% of VEP

65,476,535 votes (48.1%) Clinton
28.3% of VEP

62,821,935 votes (46.1%) Trump
27.1% of VEP

8,998,616 votes (6.6%) Others
3.9% of VEP

Over half of those who showed up voted for someone else than Donald Trump.  That certainly is not “the people” deciding for Trump.

But when you consider that over two-thirds of the eligible voters did not cast a vote for Trump, you would think Trump would have a bit more humility.  Don’t hold your breath.

If you were one of the no-shows, remember,

The only way
To throw your vote away
Is to stay away!

Friday, December 09, 2016

Donald Trump in mourning?

Donald Trump cancelled all of his appointments when he learned his favorite wig-maker had died.

If you believe the above, then you suffer from anoesis.  Thanks for the heads-up to Eddie whose Anoesis News Service is featured in Wiley Miller’s "Non Sequitur” from and on.

Anoesis is defined in the Merriam-Webster Medical Dictionary as "consciousness that is pure passive receptiveness without understanding or intellectual organization of the materials presented.”  See

If you quote the first paragraph without the following paragraphs, then you are perpetuating false news.

A more common term for anoesis is gullibility.  And gullibility knows no political party, religious or political belief, or social standing.

Thursday, December 08, 2016

Religious freedom and commerce

Much is being written about serving gays violating a merchant’s freedom of religion.  But what is the real question here.  Is the merchant being forced to serve people he or she doesn’t like or being forced to participate in activities that he or she doesn’t like.

The latest case I’ve seen is about a photographer being forced to photograph a gay wedding.  In this case, the photographer is being requited to participate in something he or she does not approve of.

On the other hand, if two men showed up at the studio can the photographer deny them service?  Not if they act as any two buddies might having their picture taken.  If they put their arms on each other’s shoulders the photographer should not have a complaint.  But if they insisted on a picture of them kissing each, then the photographer would have a complaint.

Similarly with a baker being asked to bake a wedding cake.  If two men showed up to order a wedding cake, then the baker should provide it, even if he knew they were gay.  However, if they asked him to put two male figures on the top of the cake, then the baker now becomes a direct participant in the choice of the two men.

Suppose a neo-nazi asks a Jewish baker to make a cake with a swastika on top. The baker has every right to refuse on both religious and ethical grounds.  However, if the neo-nazi just asks for a cake off the shelf, then the baker should serve him.

Suppose a Roman Catholic grocer is asked to deliver groceries to a nudist camp.  He has every right to refuse.  However, if one of the nudists comes to his store fully clothed to buy groceries for the camp, then the grocer should serve him.

Essentially, we should not be expected to participate in activities of which we disapprove, but we can’t refuse to serve those of whom we disapprove when they are acting in a socially acceptable manner.

A good case in point is the shock jock, Fred Tupper, in “Little Mosque in the Prairie”, who spreads all kinds of misinformation about Muslims.  He is welcome in Fatima’s restaurant, as long as he doesn’t spout off too much.


Jim Heffernan, a former Duluth News Tribune editor, posted in his blog about being left-handed.

I sent the the following email to him.

I’m belated catching up on your blog.  The left-handed entry really caught my interest: I too am an overhanded left-handed writer.

But writing is almost the only thing I do exclusively with my left hand, except scratch my right arm:)  I use tools with my right hand.  If fact I can hardly pound a nail straight or saw a straight line with me left hand.

I have a hypothesis on why left-handers write over-hand.

It's how we imitate others.  If we learn something side-by-side, we will imitate our teacher’s handed-ness.  If we learn something face-to-face we might mirror our teacher’s handed-ness.   If we watch somebody write across from us, we will place the pen in the mirror hand.  But then it breaks down because we place the paper in the same direction.  It is very awkward to write left-hand and underhand with the paper slanted “counter-clock-wise”.

I have noticed that fewer people say “Oh, you’re left-handed!”  My inclinations is to say “But when people say that I punch them in the nose with my right hand!”

Pollution hurts stock returns

"Higher pollution leads to worse returns for stock prices. Specifically, a usual (meaning greater than one standard deviation) increase in fine particulate matter (PM2.5) leads to an 11.9% reduction in the performance of the S&P 500 index. To be clear, this is not an 11.9% drop, but an 11.9% decline in relative returns."

For more, see

Fox guarding the EPA chicken coop?

See "Trump names climate change skeptic, oil industry ally to lead EPA  in Duluth News Tribune, 2016-12-08.

This definitely is having the fox guard the chicken coop!

Shouldn't a "populist" be in favor of the people being free to breathe rather than the corporations being free to pollute?

See also "China to become the leader of the free-breathing world".

Fake news exposed in the comics

“..most people who get their news on social media can’t tell the difference between fake news and real news…”

Wiley Miller, Non Sequitur

This applies to the “right” and the “left”.  I have had friends get all excited about an issue our of all proportion to the real problem.

Want to discredit Donald Trump? Show his base he's part of the elite

Trump is stocking his cabinet from the establishment. Democrats should reiterate his betrayal of the ‘drain the swamp’ campaign promise like a mantra.  See

Samantha Bee takes down Trump claims: 'Massive voter fraud is a lie'

The late-night host talked about the president-elect’s shaky transition and fabricated allegations about illegal voting practices.  See

If you have an iPhone with iOS 10, "The Guardian U.S." is one of the many newspapers in the News App.

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

To my Russian “visitors”

I don’t know what you see in my little blog that you have more visits than all the visits from all other countries combined.  Your probably automatic visits just skew my statistics.

Please go away unless you are actually reading my posts.


Sunday, December 04, 2016

Software: automobile or yard equipment?

Software behaves more like yard equipment:  one has to continually add fuel and oil, tighten bolts, and clean many parts.

And it seems every time we turn around there is a new update.

With cars, we go months without any service other than adding fuel and maybe a wash.  And maybe we get one update a year on some warranty part.

An op-ed on the too short history of Pakistan's religious tolerance

My friend M. Imran Hayee wrote a op-Ed in the Duluth News Tribune, 2016-12-04 warning about a slide to religious intolerance under a Trump government.  He notes how intolerant religionists destroyed Pakistan's thriving, tolerant democracy.


Trump gives new meaning to "political" science

Trump's staff is toying with taking climate research responsibility from NASA and giving it to another agency.

That is, those with business and law degrees know more about science than those with physics and chemistry degrees.

See "Earth, the Final Frontier", Adam Frank, New York Times, 2016-12-02

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Who is the us in U.S.?

Way back when, a bunch of Puritans fled England to practice their religious beliefs.  They pushed back the people who were already here.  Later, they persecuted Quakers who publicly preached a different religious view.

Opportunists saw large areas of land to raise cotton and tobacco.  By hook or crook they laid claims to that land, pushing back the people who were already there.  To make matters worse, they bought people who were kidnapped from their homes and put on ships in chains.  They put these people to hard work, whipping them if they slacked off or showed any signs of independence.  They often quoted select passages from the Bible to justify the situation, completely ignoring “Do unto others…"

Later on, Irish escaped the famine brought on partly because the English took away some of the best farmland.  When they came to the U.S., they were often greeted with signs “No Irish need apply!”  Now people who have no Irish ancestry celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.

Swedes came in large numbers for better farmland than was available in Sweden.  Because their English was not perfect they were often called “dumb Swedes”.  This dumb whatever naming continued when immigrants from many other lands came to the U.S.

Russian Jews had their land expropriated by Tsarist thugs.  They fled to the U.S. and made many cultural and business contributions.  At the same time they were ostracized by “Christians” and kept out of many groups.

People of European descent kept pushing west taking land from Indians and Mexicans.  For a variety of reasons, successive governments in Mexico were often corrupt and did not create an economy that benefited all the people.  Many of these people sought jobs in the U.S., often in land that once was Mexico.  They are paid lower wages than those whose ancestors took the land would accept.

The U.S. waged several wars in the Mideast to ensure a supply of oil, often corrupting or overthrowing governments to do so.  Many people from these countries fled to the U.S. for a more stable life.  Also large corporations hired many of the highly educated of these people because they worked for less and the corporations didn’t have to pay the taxes to educate them.

On and on it goes.  “Why don’t you go back to where you came from?”  This is directed at people whose families have been here for generations as well as people who have helped enhance the bottom line of large corporations.  And how does one go back to where they came from if their ancestors came from many different places?

On top of all of this, the descendants of dissenters who left their homelands now want others to believe just as they do.

“When will we ever learn!”

Monday, November 28, 2016

Anti-abortion but pro-war?

How is it that those who are against abortion are allied with the party that wants to get involved with wars all over the world?  Doesn’t war kill pregnant women and their unborn children?

How many pregnant women in England were killed German rockets?  How many pregnant women were killed by the fire-bombing of Dresden?  How many pregnant women were killed in Leningrad and Stalingrad?  How many pregnant women were killed in Hiroshima and Nagasaki?  How many pregnant women were killed in Viet Nam by either side?  How man pregnant women have been killed in Iraq, Syria, and many other places?

None of these war victims was given a choice.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Corporate slip-up

David McGrath wrote a local view, “A few ‘no thanks' are in order today".

I sent him a note of thanks, but when I sent it, I realized that the address was wrong.  The first four characters of his address were not included.  In the Olive Edition of the DNT the email address was split.  (Olive is software that displays the printed edition as is and then will open up single articles.  It has many of its own problems.)

I thought it might be that the opinion editor was being careless.  That would be ironic because he always seems to find something to change in almost all of my letters or commentaries.  So much so that I have given up sending anything to the DNT.

I looked at the DNT on my iPad this morning, but I am using my MacBook Air to write this blog entry.  The Olive Edition opens with an error on this computer, and nobody has fixed the problem yet.  So, I looked at the web edition, and surprise! The email address is correct at the bottom of the article.

That means that the opinion editor probably never saw the result once it left his computer to the automated process to be put in all the various formats.

And probably nobody double checks all of these errors because the owners won’t provide enough resources to check and correct all of these irritating errors.

Corporate fast response

This morning we woke up to a cold house.  My wife noticed that the alarm clock was not lit.  The light switches didn’t work.  I checked the breakers and only an unlabeled breaker was tripped.  I reset that but nothing happened.

The gas furnace was off because it needs electricity for ignition.

Well, it was cold cereal for breakfast.  While eating breakfast i went to the Minnesota Power website ( and found an outage map.

Bingo, right in the middle of our neighborhood was a head with a hardhat.  Clicking on the icon I found the outage was reported after 7:30 and was projected to be fixed by about 10:30.

Soon after I found this information, the furnace came on.  Power was restored within an hour of the outage being reported.

Since only 15 households were affected, I assume that nobody noticed until about 7:30, at least nobody reported it until then.

Thanks to those who work on holidays and after hours to make sure that our conveniences stay convenient.

The minor downside of this is that I could not find an email address to thank MNPower for this quick fix.  I could call but there was such a long list of choices that I gave up.

I hope someone at MNPower reads this and passes it on to the crew that responded so quickly.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

“Tame” wild life

Have you noticed how some wild animals are not afraid of people, especially if the people appear to have food and they don't move?  Of course, we know that we are food for mosquitoes and flies, but some birds and rodents can be almost oblivious of people.

Many of us have seen mice and squirrels come right up to picnic tables with people sitting at the table.  As soon as anybody moves, the animal scurries away, but not far.  Gulls are a screeching nuisance around many popular areas from Canal Park to Thompson Hill; they are always on the look out for something dropped or even thrown to them.  Occasionally a gull may be so bold as to grab food right out of a person's hand.  I saw this happen around the food stands in a park in Sweden.  One second a person was holding a hot dog, the next second the person had only a bun!

Just recently I was only a large object in the way of a busy ground squirrel.  I was installing a pump on a well when I heard rustling in the grass by a clump of chokecherries.  I was on one side of a garden cart and the noise was on the other side.  Pretty soon, I noticed a ground squirrel scurrying around.  It went under the cart and then out my side to my feet.  It sniffed at my boots and climbed up to check my laces.  No food there!  It then checked between my sole and the upper of my boot.  No food there!  Then it looked up at my jeans.  Nah!  Not worth climbing.

The ground squirrel then went out on the scarred ground around the newly dug well and investigated various clumps.  When I moved it raced back to the safety of the grass.

Later in the day when I came out to pump some water, the ground squirrel was in the middle of the clearing.  It dove into a hole by one of the clumps left by the back hoe.  In a few minutes, it came back out and started exploring the barren ground.  It worked its way over to the chokecherries and climbed up one of them.  From its perch at about my eye level and about three arm-lengths away it studied me.

I don't remember if it tired of watching me or if I moved, but it climbed back down.  Quite soon after that, it ventured onto the wood chips around the well and started digging not four feet from me.  It would make two or three scratches in the chips and then look up.  Two or three scratches more
and look up again.  Very quickly it was down to the dirt and continued this pattern, back legs straddled, looking just like Disney's Chip 'n' Dale.  Every so often it would stop, turn around, and with its nose, push the chips and dirt further from the hole.  Deeper and deeper it went.  When it was
about a half-body length in, it met the tunnel it had been seeking and it disappeared.  I pushed some chips over the hole.

The next time I came back the chips were out of the hole as well as more dirt.  As I didn't want anybody to trip on the hole, I put a rock on it.  This may seem that I am mean to the ground squirrel, but I'm sure that if it was in the hole it had many other exits.  If it wasn't in the hole it will use other exits as well as dig as many new exits as it wants.

However, having met this little neighbor I decided not to cut down the chokecherry clump.  It will be interesting to watch the ground squirrel as the seasons progress.  Does it have a big cache of seeds buried and won't come out once the snow is deep?  Will it need to come out to get some additional food and leave tracks in and out of all its exits?  Or will it come to some handy perch to investigate and be amused by these large creatures who make so much noise as they move about?

This may have been published as “Gopher Story” in the Northland Reader, November 1999.  The Northland Reader was renamed Reader Weekly a few years later.

Trump has “no conflict of interest”

Well, well, the President and Vice-President are exempt from conflict of interest laws.  See  “Fact Checker: Trump’s claim that ‘the president can’t have a conflict of interest’”, Glenn Kessler and Michelle Ye Hee Lee, Washington Post, 2016-11-23.

“And no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.”

Excerpt From: Edward Samuel Corwin. “The Constitution of the United States of America: Analysis and Interpretation.” iBooks

The article pointed out that Congress has excepted the President and Vice-President from this clause "on the theory that the presidency has so much power that any possible executive action might pose a potential conflict.”

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

China to become leader of the free-breathing world

With Donald Trump’s appointments leaning to climate change deniers, it is interesting to note that China is being very aggressive about addressing climate change.

See “China emerges as global climate leader in wake of Trump’s triumph”, Isabel Hilton, The Guardian, 2016-11-22.

School bus speeding not unusual


I drove buses for three years plus at Medicine Lake Lines/Ryder.  I made every effort to go at the speed limit as determined by conditions, including speed limit signs.  If I was in a convoy on a charter, often the other drivers were pulling away from me or complaining I was going go slow.

I don’t understand why drivers would want to speed.  After all, if they go slower they’ll get more hours!

Where have all the jobs gone? Part 2

Originally published in
Reader Weekly
June 10, 2004

Sorry, I can’t find “Where have all the jobs gone? Part 2” on this computer.  I’m at a coffee shop and will have to look for “Part 1” on an older computer.  It might be in an old email account.

I sympathize with Amy Hoff in her job hunting ("Where have all the jobs gone?" Reader Weekly, May 27, 2004).  I didn’t feel successful in my own search in 1999-2000, but then I didn’t put as much effort in as she has.  I do think we both may have been overly optimistic about opportunities.  A region the size of the Twin Ports will rarely have as many job opportunities as many of us would like.  It is almost impossible in a modern, complex economy.  Few employers want generalists who can learn on the job.  Either the job does require skills that require special training or the employer doesn’t want to pay for on-the-job training.  No employer is going to hire a liberal arts major to be a geologist, and some employers will not hire a person to work with left-handed widgets who has only worked with right-handed widgets.

She blames the job market as a reason “youth are leaving this area”.  I think many young people will leave this area regardless of the job market.

In 2004, about 3,500 students received degrees, diplomas, and certificates from area colleges(1).  There are about 86,000 people over 21 years old in the labor force in the Duluth Superior Metropolitan Statistical Area(2).  That means that area colleges are graduating enough students to replace every worker in 25 years.  If most people work for 40 years and if degreed students would not be interested in many of the available jobs, then many will have to go elsewhere to seek employment.  Besides many students came from elsewhere (why do we have a rental housing crunch) and don’t plan to stay in the area.

Even if there were jobs going begging, many people, raised here or not, would choose to move elsewhere.  There are certain jobs that will never be available here and people will move elsewhere to get them.  How many opera companies or oil exploration companies are there in the Twin Ports area?  Other people will move elsewhere because they want warmer climate or a longer ski season or …  And this is true for any area of the country.

I came from elsewhere to the Twin Cities, went yet elsewhere, came back to the Twin Cities, and then moved to Duluth.  I may or may not move to Brimson.  I have many friends and acquaintances that moved from elsewhere to the Twin Ports – from farm communities and from cities like New York and Chicago.

Other problems Amy Hoff cites are poor hiring practices, low wages, and high cost of living.  The indifference to prospective employees is not unique to Duluth.  Wages are definitely lower in Duluth but the cost of living is relative.  The cost of living is not as low as it has been in Duluth but it might not be as bad as elsewhere.  One 900 sq. ft house in south Minneapolis was recently listed for $200,000.

What can be done to improve the job situation in the Twin Ports area?  The simple answer is import more money.  Sound trite?  Let’s explore this a bit.

An area of 250,000 people or a million people or ten million people cannot be economically self-sufficient given today’s expectations.  Could the Twin Ports support an automobile plant if the only customers were local residents?  Autos have to be imported from elsewhere.  To import Rangers from St. Paul or Saturns             from Tennessee we have to export money. Since we can’t print money here we have to import it from somewhere else.  That means we either have to have goods and services to export or figure out how to import people who will spend their money here.  Once upon a time this was all covered with timber, taconite, and tourists.

The timber isn’t what it once was.  There may be plenty of aspen and spruce but the big pines are long gone.  Why is it that The Pinery on Lake County 2 with its 200+ years-old trees is an attraction?  Taconite is a replacement for the long-gone rich ore that made the Mesabi Range famous, and taconite has many competitors including scrap iron.  Tourists, bless them, are still abundant.  However, tourism doesn’t create high-value opportunities except for entrepreneurs.  The resulting jobs are retail; these are generally low-wage unless there are large commissions to be made.

One of the largest regional industries is health care, but that is almost a wash for importing money.  Most of the patients are regional and what money comes from outside the region is offset by insurance premiums and tax dollars going out.

Education is another large regional industry.  Students come to Duluth from all over the world but are there enough from outside the region to provide a significant “importation” of money?  Research done in the new UMD science building may provide some spin-off into an industry.  This bears considering, but can government officials do anything to influence this?

Manufacturing has been cited as a creator of good-paying jobs.  Cirrus is a good example of an expanding company both in itself and in the suppliers it supports.  But we have to remember that private airplanes are a unique product and most manufacturing is of commodities.  Commodities, be they agriculture or manufacture have many, many competitors.  Trying to attract a manufacturing company is a zero-sum game.  Duluth may attract a company from Wisconsin, but some other community will be working to attract companies from Duluth.  Communities just get into bidding wars subsidizing companies.  And companies enticed from elsewhere can go elsewhere just as quickly, especially if the managers have no stake in Duluth.

One good export industry is culture – literature, art, and music.  This area does have some successful writers, artists, and musicians.  Unfortunately, they are a small drop in the economic bucket and do not create a lot of additional jobs.  But here is a clue for other economic successes.  Why are these writers, artists, and musicians in Duluth?  Could it be that they like to live here?

It gets back to my old argument.  Why worry about attracting this business or subsidizing that business?  Create an infrastructure that supports any business – good transportation, good utilities, and consistent application of rules.  But more importantly, make Duluth a city that people from elsewhere want to move to.  If the range of people so attracted is broad enough, entrepreneurs will be part of that range.  They will figure out what businesses may be a good fit for this area and build them.  With roots established here, they will be likely to keep them here through good times and bad.

(1)    I added these up from graduating class figures in the Duluth News Tribune, May 8, 2004,

(2)    I derived this figure from U.S Census figures.  Go to and enter your community..  You’re on your own then.  You may also find some very depressing info about our area.

See also

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Misuse of "conservative" and "free market”

Letter to New York Times public editor

I wish writers would more carefully use the terms “conservative” and “free market”.

Those labeled with these terms, by self or others, are too often neither.

Are “conservatives” thoughtful and cautious about change, or are they rigid in whatever their views?  For example, “conservative” religious sects are more often throwing the first stone rather than feeding the poor.  Do “conservatives" really follow the Constitution as it currently exists, or are they “activists” interpreting it to suit their own views?  “Persons” are corporations?  “People” in the Second Amendment are now persons.  “Regulate Commerce” is totally ignored.

As to “free market”, it is too often meant to mean corporations should be free to do what they please without government interference.  Adam Smith must be spinning in his grave as those who live by profit (not to be trusted) buy so many politicians with money or a barrage of misleading statements.

A true free market

Has many buyers and sellers
Both buyers and sellers are free to enter or leave the market
Both buyers and sellers have all the information they need to make a decision
All costs are paid for in the transaction, that is, there are no externalities.

Too many “free marketers” want as few sellers as possible, do their best to lock buyers into the market, find out as much as possible about buyers but hide or provide false information to the buyers, and ignore all the externalities like pollution and bad diets.

See “The Invisible Adam Smith”,

Mining and Adam Smith

If you think mining is good for northern Minnesota or anywhere else, read

Also consider what Adam Smith wrote about those who live for profit.  And consider that a true free market has no externalities, like pollution that is not in the cost of a transaction.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

More on the Electoral College

For a different view than I gave in “Why we have our electoral mess”, see J. Craig Scherf,  "Electoral College maintains one of Constitution’s checks and balances" Duluth News Tribune, 2106-11-15.

Times have changed since the Constitution was written.  Then the voters were male property owners.  Their interests were in protecting their property, whether it was real estate or slaves.  They felt that they could best protect their property by state laws, not federal laws.

But the interests of the states as property protectors has diminished in several ways.

Many of us are not fixed or even interested in our states as defenders of all of our interests.

Those of us who are property owners might change property for a variety of reasons.  We might want a bigger or smaller residence.  We might want to move from a rural area to a city or vice versa.  Or we might move out of state, something that seems to happening more frequently as people change jobs within a company or get a job in a different company.

I have lived in three states and three foreign countries.

I grew up in Cleveland OH and in surrounding areas.  I have not lived in Ohio for 53 years.  When the Cleveland Indians were in the World Series, I could care less!

I have lived in Minnesota for 42 years.  Do I know what the state song is?  What the state flag looks like?  I probably know more U.S. and world history than I do Minnesota history.

Our state lives get even more complicated.  How many people live in one state but work in another?  Duluth-Superior?  New York City with commuters from three states: New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut?  Philadelphia with Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware.  I myself commuted from an exurb west of Philadelphia, through Philadelphia, and on to Cherry Hill NJ.  Chicago also has commuters from three states: Illinois, Wisconsin, and Indiana.

And don’t forget that there are many reverse commuters who go from the central city to jobs outside the city, especially as more and more companies build facilities outside the central city.

Many of these commuters have no real property, they rent their living spaces.  So, where do their local loyalties lie: where they live or where they work.  They only get input into the laws that affect where they work is through federal law, not state laws.  The only way they have input into the affairs of the state in which they work is through personal contact with acquaintances who are residents of their work state or letters to the editor of the regional newspaper.

The electoral college could give our co-workers more or less clout in an election than we have.  The Delaware resident who works in Philadelphia had a greater weighted Electoral College vote than his or her colleagues who live in Pennsylvania!  It’s almost like saying that short people have more votes than tall people!

"Would we truly want large regional majorities from the two coasts to alone choose our president? The system of checks and balances left to us by the Founders is the surest guarantee of protecting minority rights that we have.” - J. Craig Scherf

But do we want small regional electoral majorities to take away the rights of the majority of the whole nation?

Monday, November 14, 2016

“Market” sends mixed “signals” about Trump’s “win"

The indexes for Friday, 11 November, showed the market going up, varying between 3.78% and 5.36%.

However, my portfolio of mostly mutual funds went down 2.44%.

Could it be that the short view is more optimistic than the long view?  That short term view is optimistic about the economy but that the long term view is pessimistic?

We’ll see next year.

Why we have our electoral mess

"As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master. This expresses my idea of democracy. Whatever differs from this, to the extent of the difference, is no democracy." Attributed to Abraham Lincoln, supposedly in 1858.  See;view=fulltext.

The electoral college was one of the Constitutional stratagems slave owners used to protect themselves from the North taking away their slaves.  Another was counting slaves as three-fifths persons. This increased the number of representatives they got far beyond the number of actual voters.  Also basing the Senate on states rather than population, these less-populated states further increased their furtive power grab.

By increasing their relative state power in presidential elections, they hoped they could keep the end of slavery at bay.

They unleashed a long bloody war to protect this despicable practice. Unfortunately, they forgot the Constitutional provision that Congress could call out the militia to suppress insurrections.  (In our own time, Congress seemed to forget this provision in dealing with the Bundys.)

So, the Electoral College differs from democracy and the five victories because of the Electoral College in our country's history have differed from democracy.  Poor Abe must be spinning in his grave, especially when the descendants of the slave owners have taken over his party.  Poor Abe must be spinning in his grave, especially when the descendants of the slave owners have taken over his party.

See also "More on the Electoral College".

Saturday, November 12, 2016

"The voters" decided for Clinton. The Electoral College decided for Trump

The above two lines are my comment to “Thoughts for the Horrified”, Paul Krugman, New York Times, 2016-11-11,

Consider that an extra 50,000 votes total in just three states would have given Clinton the election.

See "For Reeling Democrats, Now What?", Cathleen Decker, Los Angeles Times, 2016-11-10,

Were you one of these 50,000 non-voters?  Did you steal the election?  Did you help rig the election?

In the next election, remember that

The only way
You throw your vote away
Is to stay away

Also remember that if don’t vote, you will probably get the candidate you like the least.

However, there is hope for a run-around for the Electoral College.  According to the U.S. Constitution, each state gets to decide how to choose its electors.  In the beginning, it was the state legislatures.

Now there is a run-around to the Electoral College in that states will select their electors based on the national vote.  See “National Popular Vote Interstate Compact”,

Friday, November 11, 2016

Trump was right, the election was rigged

But the rigging was not done by his opponents.

Let’s assume there are three states, East Coast, West Coast, and Flyover.  East Coast and West Coast each have a population of a million people.  Flyover has a population of two million.  Each of the three states has two Senators.  East Coast and West Coast each have one Representative in Congress; Flyover has two Representatives.

Therefore, East Coast and West Coast each have three electoral votes and Flyover has four electoral votes.  That is, East Coast and West Coast together have six electoral votes for a combined half of the nation’s population.  Flyover has four electoral votes for the other half of the population.

Now assume we have three candidates, Marsy, Dosy, and Lammsy.  Marsy and Dosy have large followings and Dosy has a couple of thousand.  The eligible voters in each state are 80% of the population, but turnout is only 50%.  That means that eight hundred thousand vote in East Coast and West Coast combined and eight hundred thousand vote in Flyover.

In East Coast and West Coast, Marsy got 49 percent of the vote, Dosy got 48, and Lammsy got three percent.  In Flyover Marsy got 40 percent, Dosy got 52 percent, and Lammsy got eight percent.  In numbers of votes, in the East Coast and West Coast, Marsy got 392,000 votes, Dosy got 384,000, and Lammsy got 24,000.  In Flyover, Marsy got 320 thousand, Dosy got 416 thousand, and Lammsy got 64 thousand.

Clearly, Dosy is the winner with 800 thousand votes against Marsy’s 712 thousand and Lammsy’s 90 thousand.  Wrong!  Marsy is the winner with six electoral votes as opposed to Dosy’s four electoral votes.

This “rigging” wasn’t done by anybody involved in this hypothetical election.  It was done in the Eighteenth Century with the approval of the Constitution.

Ironically, this “rigging” benefited the candidate who complained throughout his campaign that the election was “rigged”.

See also “The election was stolen, really!

Thursday, November 10, 2016

The election was stolen, really!

Who stole it?

All those eligible voters who didn't show up.  They are the one's who had no confidence in Donald Trump as president, but they couldn't bring themselves to vote for Hillary Clinton.  Many of these believed Trump's accusations against Clinton even though they disbelieved everything else Trump said.

Consider that an extra 50,000 votes total in just three states would have given Clinton the election.

See "For Reeling Democrats, Now What?", Cathleen Decker, Los Angeles Times, 2016-11-10,

Were you one of these 50,000 non-voters?  Did you steal the election?  Did you help rig the election?

The only way you throw your vote away is to stay away.

Be sure to vote in 2018 to bring about a better balance in Congress.

Election prediction and telephones

In 1948, the headlines were “Dewey Wins”.  However, the result was that Truman won.
See “Dewey Defeats Truman”, Wikipedia,

See”A ‘Dewey Defeats Truman’ Lesson for the Digital Age”, Jim Gutenberg, New York Times, 2016-11-09,;
“Case Study 2: The 1948 Presidential Election”,

However, what really counted was how polls were taken, often by telephone.  In 1948, many who leaned towards Truman did not have telephones and weren’t called.  See “Dewy Defeats Truman, Joe Walter, “The True Facts, 2019-05-31,

So, were the predictions off because too many people don’t answer their cell phones if they don’t recognize the number?  I know that I do.

Another thought, maybe many of Trump’s supporters who did answer their phones didn’t admit that they were Trump supporters.

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Day-o! Day-o! Daylight comes and me want to go vote!


I’m sorry I didn’t post this earlier, but Harry Belafonte was spot on that if we don’t vote, we lose.

2016 turnout seems to be super…

… now if we can only continue that each and every election day.

My wife is a precinct judge, and based on her text reports on turnout, that precinct may have over 90% turnout.  I think her figures are for those who voted today.  Considering the number of early voters in Duluth and elsewhere, many areas of the country may have over 90% turnout.

Now if we could only get all eligible voters to turn out for each and every election, not just presidential elections.

If you are eligible to vote in the U.S. I hope you show up or showed up to vote today.  If you are reading this before the polls close and have not voted, I hope you make a point of voting before they close.

Sunday, November 06, 2016

Gun rights vs. property rights, a conundrum for "conservatives"

'Tis hunting season in Minnesota.  Right now it is deer season and we can hear gunshots now and then.  I hope they were all on federal land to the south of us.

Technically, we are supposed to post "No Hunting" signs all around our property, but it is a real pain to post signs around 80 acres (half-mile along the road and a quarter-mile deep).  Besides, there always seem to be some jerks that will go right by a "No hunting/no trespassing sign.

Given that in St. Louis County, one can access the Online Land Explorer to find out ownership of every parcel of land, and so there is no excuse for trespassing.  In some other counties one can buy land maps.  Given all the other costs of hunting, I would think the maps are small change.

Now the conundrum, if a gun owner in a residential area is entitled to shoot and kill a "trespasser", should not a rural resident be entitled to shoot a trespassing hunter?

Case in point, several years ago a bird hunter shot down our driveway with a red pickup clearly visible in the driveway.  Would I have been entitled to shoot and kill that hunter in self-defense?

This particular hunter had a "right" to have a shot gun, but I have a right to my property without worrying about an irresponsible gun owner.

I have many friends who are responsible hunters, but shouldn't there be some restrictions on irresponsible people even owning guns.

Hunting with the wrong license

My wife left our cabin early today to visit a friend.  Before she had gone ten miles a buck jumped out in front of her in a well-shaded place.  Her car hit it in the hindquarters.  Once she came to a stop she looked for the deer for some time but never found it.

Did it survive?  If not, will a hunter find it before the wolves or carrion eaters such as crows and eagles?

The damage to her car seems minimal, only a cracked headlight, one we just had replaced.

I told her to call our insurance company as soon as possible.  Also when the adjuster comes to make sure he checks for frame damage.  When I hit a bear in 2014, the adjuster only looked at body damage.  A few years later a mechanic found significant mechanical damage.

Quotes of the Day, misdirected politics

 “It’s just more about getting the other people than worrying about the American people.” Christine Etima, quoted in "Immersed in the election, but unable to vote", Duluth News Tribune, 2016-11-05

"But not making a choice — sitting out the election — is to turn our fate over to others."  Ann McFeatters, Duluth News Tribune, 2016-11-06

Thursday, November 03, 2016

Rain or shine: VOTE! If you don't, you could give the election away!!

Rain or cool weather means lower Democratic turnout.  Does this mean those without cars don’t show if the weather is not good.

"These findings significantly illuminate the theory in regards to voter turnout. In
particular, these results show that the primary exogenous mechanism through which
turnout affects elections is the composition effect. In other words, when turnout is
increased, newly mobilized voters are disproportionately Democratic.  Furthermore, these results illuminate a question that has been claimed to be unanswerable: If one could increase voter turnout, would it help Democrats? We find that the answer to this question is, resoundingly, yes.”

"The Joke Isn’t on the Democrats?  The Partisan Effects of Voter Turnout"
Alexander Kendall, Political Science, Stanford University

Revolution if Clinton Wins?

“Some Donald Trump Voters Warn of Revolution if Hillary Clinton Wins”
Ashley Parker and Nick Carasaniti, New York Times, 2016-10-27

Those threatening "revolution" if Donald Trump loses the Presidential Election don't really know the U.S. Constitution.

As to the elections being "rigged" consider

"Each House shall be the Judge of the Elections...of its own Members..."

- U.S. Constitution, Article I, Section 5

This means that the outgoing House and Senate get to judge the elections to keep themselves in office or to judge the fairness of the election of their replacements.  If the Clinton "landslide" many are predicting comes true, wouldn't many members of Congress be out of office?  Do you really think there are so many Republican members of Congress who believe the elections are "rigged" that they would nullify the election of their successors?  Given the number of congressional Republicans disavowing Trump, I seriously doubt they would nullify the election of their replacements.

As to having a "revolution" consider

"The Congress shall have the power "To provide for calling forth the Militia to ...  suppress Insurrections..."

U.S Constitution, Article I, Section 8

Whatever the result of the election, would not most members of Congress, Republican or Democrat, be repulsed by an insurrection in support of a defeated Presidential candidate?

Election rigged in Trump's favor?

If Timothy Egan's sister's preacher said that Trump's election is part of God's plan, then I would say the election is rigged in Trump's favor.

Posted to Timothy Egan's "Final Plea to Trump's America

Monday, October 31, 2016

Sleaze Attack on Chobani

The usual suspects are attacking somebody who makes a good-hearted effort to help others.

See “For Helping Immigrants, Chobani’s Founder Draws Threats”, David Gelles, New York Times, 2016-10-31,

My comment to a reader’s comment about buying more Chobani yogurt follows:

Me too! I stopped eating Chobani yogurt, the best yogurt I've ever had, in a diet experiment. The experiment failed, and I've had a few servings of Chobani since. Maybe I'll eat put Chobani on my oatmeal and granola instead of almond milk. Let's meet hate with love, love of a good product and of a corporation with a heart.

When NYT notified me that my comment was approved, I found that many others had the same sentiment.  I didn’t read more than a few dozen comments, but I found no sleaze attacks, only support.

How many seconds in a minute and other corporate misdeeds

According to Apple, there are five seconds in a minute!

I just did a software update on my MacBook Air, and near the end, the screen said there were five seconds left.  i watched and watched, but the number didn’t change.  I did Mississippi-one, Mississippi-two and so on.  I stopped at about Mississippi-thirty.  A bit later, the counter disappeared.  And a bit later, the system rebooted.

Yahoo! Finance redid their web page several weeks ago and took away drag and drop.  I have a list of symbols in a TextEdit file that I would drag and drop in the symbol look-up list.  I have been using this successfully and satisfactorily for years.  Then poof!  It didn’t work!  I now had to copy and paste.  Gosh!  Drag and drop has been an Macintosh feature for over twenty years.  Now Yahoo! decides its users don’t need drag and drop.

This week Yahoo! Finance flummoxed its users again by providing some very circuitous means of providing a list of quotes.  Instead of a spreadsheet-like page, they have buried a text list on the side of the page.  By some magical clicking, one can get the spreadsheet listing, but I haven’t memorized it yet.

Many users left comments complaining about this, but I doubt if there will be any change.  Some threatened to go to Google Finance.  I tried Google Finance and didn’t find it any easier to use.

My suspicion is that corporations put together focus groups and browbeat them into accepting what management wants to do.  Then management browbeats long-time customers into accepting the changes by saying the changes were what focus groups wanted.

Of course, there are many fine corporations that bend over backward for customer satisfaction.  Toyota has had some bad recalls, but many of their dealers bend over backward to provide customer satisfaction.  My examples are Kari Toyota of Superior WI and Maplewood Toyota of Maplewood MN.

For the likes of the corporations that screw up the customer experience, I can only say that the U.S. Postal Service has historically provided far superior service, when Congress lets it.  And believe it or not, the IRS too.  I have had the IRS send me corrections on my returns, both for underpayment and overpayment.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Quote of the day: Republicans with double standards

"One of them is Wendy Lynn Day, who was pushed out of a leadership role at the Michigan Republican Party last week after refusing to endorse Mr. Trump. She criticized her party’s male leaders, saying that in past years, they had proclaimed that morality and character mattered in a president, but that they were ignoring that principle when it came to Mr. Trump."

"Abandoning Donald Trump and, for Some Women, the G.O.P., Too", New York Times, Trip Gabriel, 2016-10-27,

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

A rebuttal of the Star Tribune misuse of the term “free market”

I submitted the following commentary to the Star Tribune a day or two after D.J. Tice’s column which I considered another misuse of the term “free market”.  I have not seen it published yet.  Could it be that “free marketers” don’t like reminders of true free markets?

D.J. Tice’s column “ A foolish system and your money …” leads me to believe he is one of those who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.  I wonder if he has considered the number of times in a day that he has benefitted from public goods.

Did he drive on a freeway to work?  Did he pay the full cost of his share of the road, the full cost of the pollution from his car, and the cost of the loss of tax revenues from the houses that once were above the trenches that divide up our cities?

Did he take a bus to work?  His fare would have only paid part of the cost.  But the bus is a public good in that it reduces the number of cars on the road.  If he had to pay the full cost of his bus ride, he probably wouldn’t take the bus.

Did he walk to work?  Did he pay a toll for the sidewalk he used?  Did he put a coin in the traffic lights so that he could cross the street?

Let’s hope that his house never catches fire.  He would not be happy paying the full cost of the fire department response.  If his neighbor had the misfortune of a fire, would he help pay the cost of the fire department whose response kept the fire from spreading to his house?

I am a graduate of the Cleveland Public School System.  I doubt that my mother could have afforded the full cost of the schooling that qualified me to attend college.  Many other people, some childless, helped pay the cost of my education.

I could not have afforded the tuition at Case Institute of Technology.  A foundation paid full tuition the first year.  I flunked out of Case but the foundation kept paying a fraction of my tuition at Ohio Wesleyan University.  At both schools, many donors provided money to keep the tuition down somewhat.  Three-percent federal loans also helped.  I managed to get back to Case for graduate school with a graduate assistant position.  I doubt any of the work we did paid in full for our jobs and tuition.

Companies are demanding more and more highly specialized “skills”, but they are not willing to train people.  They expect the public schools and the colleges and universities to train these employees.  But they don’t want to pay the taxes for the public schools and colleges, institutions that would help those who can’t afford the elite institutions.  The smaller the pool of potential employees, the harder it is to find “qualified” employees.

Could he pay out of pocket for each and every medical visit he needed: office or hospital?  For those of us with well-paying jobs, health insurance pays for a chunk of the care, if not all.  But what about people who have jobs with no health insurance?  Has he considered that their lack of health insurance benefits him with lower prices? (Or the owners with much higher profits.)

What if there were a deadly epidemic that had no respect for wealth?  How might such an epidemic start?  Maybe those who first became ill could not afford the health care, health care that would have reduced their chances of spreading their disease.

Modern economies run a large array of public goods: roads, schools, police, fire, and regulatory inspections.  As Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes supposedly said, “I like taxes; they buy me civilization.”

Monday, October 24, 2016

Politics: Donald Trump, Listen to the Grandmothers

I read a New York Times article about Hillary Clinton and Elizabeth Warren blasting Trump for calling Clinton “a nasty women”.  It was titled “Senator Elizabeth Warren Tells Trump: ‘Nasty Women Vote’" by Matt Flegenheimer.  The lead line was “In Introducing Hillary Clinton, the senator said, ‘We nasty women are going to march our nasty feet to cast our nasty votes’ against Donald Trump.”

After I sent the link to my wife, grandmother of my grandchildren, I realized that both Clinton and Warren are both grandmothers.  If a grandmother chides you, you should always listen.

When I went back to write this it had morphed into a different article, but it still had Warren blasting Trump for his comment.  See “Liberals Hope Elizabeth Warren Will Serve as Clinton’s Scrutinizer-in-Chief”, New York Times, 2016-10-24, Amy Chozick and Matt Flegenheimer,

The video that accompanies this article does have Warren’s remarks in full.  Her fervor is far greater than what comes across in print.

Quote of the day: Hillary Clinton beating men

"Clinton is a woman beating men at their own game. Deal with it."
Charles M. Blow, "Clinton's Specter of Illegitimacy", New York Times, 2016-10-24,

Thursday, October 20, 2016

War: When Will We Ever Learn

This entry was inspired by the work of The White Helmets written by Raed Saleh.  It is a heart-breaking story of carnage caused by those who only seek their own power, not that of the people.  See

Where have all the flowers gone?  Gone by scorched earth warfare.

Where have all the young girls gone?  Bombed under rubble like the girl pictured in the article.

Where have all the young men gone?  Shot or bombed by somebody who doesn't like the side to which these young men have gone, often enticed by glory rather than defense of their homes.  Often killed by someone in the sky enticed by those who don't like the people that enticed the young men to war.  Someone who probably goes to a safe barracks with a good warm dinner.

Where have all the graves gone?  Buried under more rubble, certainly not to flowers.

When will we ever learn?

Not very soon:(

Trump and the rule of personality, not of law

"Donald Trump is the personification of the distortion of a constitution by men who hate the constitution with such passion that they are willing to swear complete fealty as they destroy everything it stands for.” - Montreal Moe in response to Ross Douthat’s “The Trump Afterlife”, New York Times, 2016-10-19.

Douthat, being a true conservative, doesn’t care much for Trump’s anti-constitutional remarks.

To Montreal Moe’s comment I added:

Hear! Hear! I find it ironic that so-called conservatives rant about activist judges. So-called conservative Supreme Court Judges have defined corporations as persons and defined "people" in the Second Amendment to be "persons". Changes like these are certainly not "conservative”.


Louis the XIV famously proclaimed “L’état, c’est moi!”.  "The state, it is me!"  Is Trump planning on being Donald the I?  Hm, in Trump’s case does “I” mean “me” or the first or both?  Trump’s remarks certainly sound monarchical (rule by one) rather than democratic (rule by many).

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

When leaping to conclusions…

…you can fall flat on your face.

Many of the stories say that Democrats raised about $13,000 for the Hillsborough NC Republican office that was firebombed. They also say that Republicans raised about $4,000.

But, how many Republicans donated to the first appeal and so didn't donate to the second appeal?

We just can't leap to the conclusion that the Democrats are more generous than Republicans when it comes to small donations.  Or that more Democrats reach out to Republicans than Republicans reach out to Democrats.


Thursday, October 13, 2016

A flimsy attack on clean air

I submitted the following comment to the New York Times, article "A flimsy attack on clean air" but as far as I know it was not published.

"The Congress shall have the Power to...regulate Commerce...among the several States... U.S. Constitution, Article I, Section 8.

Maybe the polluters have a case if ALL of their pollution stays within their own state. However to do so, they'll probably have to dam rivers and stop the winds. But since these flow into other states...

Trump and mathematics

"When you add it up, here's the math that counts. Trumpworld is a Mobius strip, with no exit ramp to reality.”

Nancy Lederman, posted as a comment to

Robert Reich predicted the likes of Donald Trump

"[People] think if the big guys cheat in big ways, they might as well begin cheating in small ways. And when they think the game is rigged, they're easy prey for political demagogues with fast tongues and dumb ideas.
- Robert Reich,  Beyond Outrage, 2012

 In Beyond Outrage Reich also pointed out that "Conservatives" don't conserve much.  He wrote they are regressives who want to return to a time when very few were very, very well-off and most had to struggle to make a living, often in dangerous, unhealthy conditions.

He didn't spell it out in detail but "conservatives" sure don't want to conserve resources, clean air, or even a well-functioning government.  "Conservatives" are certainly "liberal" in interpreting the Constitution to their ends, "liberal" at "throwing money" at the military, and "liberal" in awarding generous compensation to those at the top of large corporations, even those who really screw up the company.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Quote of the Day: TV viewers vs. newspaper readers

"Yes, I know, people should be paying more attention [to candidates climate change plans or lack thereof]— but this nonetheless tells us how easy it is for voters who rely on TV news or don’t read stories deep inside the paper to miss what should be a central issue in this campaign."

- Paul Krugman, "What About the Planet", New York Times, 2016-10-07,

Why you should vote

“But when all is said and done, Jefferson has beliefs, Burr has none.”
- Lyric from "Hamilton" on Hamilton not liking either candidate but choosing Jefferson.

Quoted by Paul Anderson, retired Minnesota Supreme Court Judge and life-long Republican in "This Lifelong Republican is voting for Clinton".


If you don’t vote, you have only yourself to blame

Originally published in
Reader Weekly
October 28, 2004

The U.S. is still considered a democracy.  The word comes from the Greek demos for people and kratein for rule.  It means the people rule.  If you don’t vote, how can you rule?

Democracy has been interpreted as majority rule.  But no president has ever been elected by a majority of the adult population.  Before the 1860’s few blacks could vote.  Before 1920 few women could vote (Wyoming territory being the exception in 1869).  Since 1932 the voter turnouts have never been greater than sixty-three percent (1).

That high was in 1960 when John F. Kennedy won with 34,227,096 votes to Richard M. Nixon’s 34,108,546, a difference of 118,550.  However, over 40 million people did not vote!  More people stayed away than voted for either candidate. (2)

Ronald Reagan supposedly had a landslide victory in 1980 over Jimmy Carter.  The voter turnout was less than 53 percent.  If you consider that less than 28 percent of the eligible voters voted for Ronald Reagan, he did not have a mandate.  Almost twice as many people stayed away as voted for Jimmy Carter.

Bill Clinton had five million votes more than Bob Dole in 1992 but the turnout was 55 percent.  Fewer voters might have shown up if Ross Perot hadn’t run and won almost 20 million votes, more than half of those that went to Bob Dole.  Even then 84 million people stayed away, giving Bill Clinton a plurality of 27 percent, a lower plurality than Ronald Reagan who also had a three-way race.

Even if you don’t like any of the presidential candidates, vote.  You don’t have to mark a vote for every office.  A lot of people skip voting for judges or conservation district commissioners, why not skip voting for president?  Leaving a blank presidential ballot shows you care enough to show up, and you get counted in the vote totals.

Many people blame Ralph Nader for Bush winning in Florida in 2000.  Nader got 97,588 votes and the difference between Bush’s and Gore’s totals was 537 votes (3).  However, over three million of Florida’s eligible voters did not even show up at the polls (4).  That is, more people stayed away than voted for either Bush or Gore.

In no midterm election since 1974 have more than forty percent of the adult population voted (2).  Midterm congresses aren’t the best money can buy; they are the result of extreme voter apathy.

You can vote strategically, you can vote tactically, but vote.  You can vote because of an overall result you want; say you want one party to dominate in Congress.  Therefore you wouldn’t vote for a third party candidate you respect.  Or, you can vote because you want a specific person in Congress.  Therefore you would vote for a third party candidate or a “major” party candidate in a party different than the party you want to dominate in Congress.  Either way, vote

You think Bush should be punished for the mess he made and that Kerry shouldn’t get the blame when he tries to fix it.  So vote for Bush, but vote.

You think that Bush has done a marvelous job, then especially in Minnesota you should vote.

You think Bush should not be rewarded for the mess he made and that Kerry can clean it up.  So vote for Kerry, but vote.

You think Hilary Rodham Clinton should be president in 2008.  If so, Kerry should not be president.  But don’t stay away, vote.

You think Hilary Rodham Clinton should not be president in 2008.  So vote for Kerry, but vote.

Do you think the make up of the Supreme Court is important?

Do you consider yourself patriotic?

Do you think the country is on the right track?

Do you think the country is on the wrong track?

For any of these reasons, vote.

You can’t get time off from work to vote?  Wrong, by law (in Minnesota) your employer must allow you paid time off to vote.  It’s your future, vote.

You can’t get a ride to the polls to vote?  Call for a ride.  (Sorry, I have no current phone numbers for these, but you can probably find some party info on facebook.  Look for your party of choice at the municipal or Congressional district level.)

OK Northlanders!  Let’s show we care about our country.  Let’s have over 90% turnout of the voting age population on November 2, 2004 (as of this re-posting, November 8, 2016).


(1) World Almanac 1998
(2) "National Voter Turnout in Federal Elections: 1960-1996", Federal Election Commission (
(3) “Nader Has Impact on Presidency”, Associated Press, posted at (The connection to the server was reset while the page was loading.)
(4) “Who took votes from whom?”

©2004, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2016 Melvyn D. Magree

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Quote of the day: “free market” and government

Comment to Paul Krugman's "Progressive Family Values"

Brice C. Showell, Philadephia

To ask why we need government to manage a "free market" is like asking why we need referees, rules and managers in sport.