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