Thursday, August 25, 2016

In praise of email

In today’s world, the most efficient means of one-on-one communication is email.  Texting follows if both parties have smart phones.

Email and texting allow senders to create the message at their convenience and the recipient to respond at their convenience.

Given Congresses disabling the Post Office, a letter can take two days in some locales to arrive its destination.  Congress’s putting such onerous pension requirements on the Post Office, requirements that many corporations don’t even come close to, has caused sorting facilities to be closed, such as in Duluth MN.  Now mail from Duluth to Duluth has to be trucked 300 miles round trip.

A phone call either is not returned or the caller is on hold for a long time, sometimes an expected wait time is periodically given, sometimes not.  Sometimes pleasant music is played, and sometime it is interested frequently by “Your call is important to us.”

Lots of companies only accept calls or offer chat rooms.  Both can involve indeterminate wait times.  The advantage of a chat room is that you often have a transcript of the chat.  With a call, most of us are scribbling just bits and pieces.

Email gets around these because you don’t have to wait by the phone for a response. The only problem is that some people are as bad about answering email as they are about returning calls.

This was triggered by our leasing a new car.  I tried to call the insurance agency, Otis-Magie, about the change.  Once upon a time the receptionist took the information and we were done with it.  This time my call was forwarded to an agent.  I got his voice mail.

That was over an hour ago.  I emailed the VINs of both cars to him.  Then I emailed my phone number just in case I had garbled it up with my voice message.

I have to go mow the lawn.  How can I hear my cell phone over the lawnmower?

Wouldn’t this all be easier and more convenient for all concerned if I could have done it all with email?

P.S. He did call back after an hour and a half.  He had to handle one call after another.  As I tell many people, you can only handle one customer at a time.  He did appreciate my mailing the VINs to him.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

I have little control over ads on this site

After I posted “‘Left’ can also make distortions” and logged off I saw the entry as readers would see it.  What did I see but Donald Trump, not only once, but twice.  On the side bar was a call for an “urgent" poll of Illinois voters.

Trump must have money to burn if he has an ad on such an obscure site as this.  One with more viewers outside the U.S. than inside.

I suppose I could look up where I can turn off ads by type, but it hardly seems worth the effort.

“Left” can also make distortions

The Huffington Post had an article entitled “Bill Nye Rips CNN For Having 'Climate Change Denier Meteorologist’”.

The headline readers are going to repeat that.  However, some of the meteorologist’s tweets are quoted near the end of the article:

“Moved to climate change in 2009,” he wrote in one tweet.

“A scientist can be swayed by data and I was,” he added in another.

Friday, August 19, 2016

What Main Stream Media bias really means

So many comments that I see on New York Time articles are complaints of media bias against Donald Trump.

Let's see, if Donald Trump makes a foolish comment and the media reports it at is, then the media is biased.

On the other hand, if the media chooses not to report the foolish comment, then the media is biased.

Gosh, there is no pleasing some people.

Hey folks, the major job of the mainstream media is to report that the emperor has no clothes! 

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Conservatives conserve what?

This entry was triggered by Ross Douthat’s “Trumponomics Is Reform Conservatism’s Evil Twin”,, New York Times, 2016-08-10.

Once again, a commentator uses “free market” without clearly defining what it means.  And of course, they really never define what is being conserved.

“Free markets’ generally mean that corporations are free to do what they please, no government regulation, no interference from shareholders, and no unions.

The Constitution states that Congress has the power to regulate commerce among the  states.  Isn’t contamination of rivers that flow into other states “commerce among the states”.  Isn’t the smokestack pollution that goes into neighboring states “commerce among the states”.

But those conservatives who are so quick on the “patriotism” of
"limited government” quickly ignore the conservatism of carefully reading the Constitution.  The Constitution has lots of checks and balances to have a fair government for all, but these “conservatives” only note those that fit their agenda.  For example, they want legislators to attend “prayer breakfasts”.  But isn’t the political pressure to attend a “prayer breakfast” a religious test for office, a test prohibited by the Constitution?

Monday, August 08, 2016

Thoughts on police violence


See “Minnesota Police Officer’s ‘Bulletproof Warrior’ Training Is Questioned”.

I do know personally that expectations of what someone might say can lead to a gross misunderstanding of what a person actually said.

Between my junior and senior years in college, I took a job at Ohio Oil in Findlay, Ohio.  My intention was to learn more about computers.

Unfortunately, I had a difficult time finding a room for the whole summer.  I stayed in two or three private houses before I found an apartment above the bank that owned the whole building.  About a week or so after occupying the apartment the bank asked me if I would swap my apartment for a smaller one occupied by a couple.

I left word at the bank president’s office that I had moved enough for the summer and would stay put until school started.

A day or two later, the bank president knocked on my door.  He was somewhat of a curmudgeon and I expected a bit of chewing out.  The first words I heard from him were “How’s the bastard doing?”  This from a pillar of his church!  I said, “Excuse me?” and I heard him say again, “How’s the bastard doing?”  I said “Excuse me?" again.  This time I clearly heard him say, “How’s the bachelor doing?”

Now we had a friendly discussion about my staying put and he accepted my wish.

How often do people in tense situations completely misunderstand what another person is saying?

I speculate that Philandro Castile simply said in a normal voice, “I have a gun.”  He was stating a fact to avoid conflict.  Officer Jeronimo Yanez, pumped up from his “Bulletproof Warrior” class, heard, “I HAVE A GUN!”

I do hope many police departments are seriously thinking about paying for their officers’ training at for-profit classes that have no accountability to either the government or the general public.

Every killing diminishes all of us, whether it is terrorists who think a whole class of people should be killed, whether it is a government that drops bombs the kill innocents, whether it is madmen that shoot indiscriminately into crowded venues, or whether it is a hyped-up police officer with an itchy finger..

See also “Quote on violence”

Trump to stop immigration from Italy?

Donald Trump wants to stop immigration of “terrorists" from Muslim countries and stop immigration of “rapists" from Mexico.  Why not stop the immigration of leg-breaking mobsters from Itaiy?  See “46 alleged East Coast mobsters indicted”, John Riley, Newsday, reprinted in Duluth News Tribune, 2016-08-05 at

Guess who stopped them?  Immigrants!  The U.S. Attorney is Preet Bharara, born in India.  The head of the New York FBI office is Diego Rodriguez, born in Columbia.

Thursday, August 04, 2016

Russians go away!

Page views of this blog have been dominated by Russians, over four times as many as Americans.  I can’t believe that there is more interest in this blog from Russia than from the U.S.

I am probably writing to the air, but I would rather know how many readers I have who are interested in what I write than how many are tempting me to go to some spam page.

Monday, August 01, 2016

Awful Motors has introduced “new, improved” wheel design

Awful Motors has introduced square wheels, a cool new feature on all of its models.  Awful Motors stated in its introduction that round wheels were boring, they just went around and around.

This just in, after thousands of complaints of Awful Motors’ square wheels, the company has announced that by popular demand it will replace the square wheels with octagonal wheels, providing a significantly smoother ride.

Far-fetched?  This is not far from the abrupt changes that so many software designers put into their products.  A feature was working fine for millions of users, and then some designer has a “better idea”.

Some bothersome changes I’ve found recently are Yahoo! Finance’ rework of its pages and the Star Tribune’s changing relatively simple software to move between the print edition and an expanded article to cluttered software that never seems to work as one would wish.  I have no idea how other readers perceive the changes to the Star Tribune, but Yahoo had a page for comments.  These comments were almost all negative.

Google once had a simple way of moving from blog authoring to statistics without signing in again.  Now one has to log in over and over again and there are several clutter pages between authoring, feed analysis, and income review.

Apple, once the computer for the rest of us, has morphed into guess how this cool new feature works.  In the first few years of the Macintosh I was eager for a new version when real advances were made - hard drives, color, drag and drop, and on and on.  Now, I update to a major new release only when I buy a new device.

Often I think these changes are not for the benefit of the uses but the employment prospects of the designers.