Friday, March 31, 2017

Whose responsibility is it to correct for computer inconsistencies?

It’s obviously the user, who may or may not have an understanding of the problem and its solution.

Once again, no matter what I did, I couldn’t make my iPhone a hotspot.

I would turn on Cellular Data.  The slider may or may not work.  I thought maybe it was the extra hard screen cover I have.  But other sliders don’t seem to have the same problem.  If the slider for Cellular Data came on, then the Personal Hotspot slider may or may not come on.  Sometimes it would; sometimes it would not.  If it didn’t, then the Cellular Data slider would turn off.

If I gave up and asked my MacBook Air to join a network, it might or might not.  I think, but can’t be sure, if I make mistakes twice in entering the password, then I can’t get on at all.

Now, comes the kicker.  How many users know about General>Reset>Reset Network Settings?  You have to be a user who visits the Apple “Community” or can think of keywords to find other sites with the appropriate answers.

But once you reset your problems are not over.  If you ask to join the network on your other device, it won’t work.  Why?  Because the name you thought your iPhone had has now become iPhone.  Either you use iPhone from now on, or you go to General>About>Name and change iPhone to the name you had given your phone.

“The Computer for The Rest of Us” from 1984 slogan has long disappeared.  We are almost back to the nightmare of “1984” in that we don’t really have a clue what Big Brother Apple wants us to do.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Questions for the “Freedom” caucus

Just what is this “Freedom” you lay claim to and who is free to do what to whom?

Is it the “freedom” to own slaves by a few or to make certain people second class citizens?

Or is it the freedom to be have a well-payiing job with respect from your employer?

Is it the “freedom” to gerrymander voting districts to give yourselves an unfair electoral advantage?

Or is it the freedom to know that your vote will count in a fair election?

Is it the “freedom” to be free from paying taxes for all the benefits that have helped you get rich?  Like public schools for educated workers, like roads to move your goods around, like courts to settle any disputes you may have, like police to investigate crimes committed against you, like fire departments to respond quickly to fires or medical emergencies?

Or is it the freedom to have all kinds of resources available that we can only afford collectively by contributing to the best of our ability?

Is it the “freedom” to have wider and wider highways to drive faster and quicker, regardless of the cost to tax bases, to individual families, or to the environment?

Or is it the freedom to be secure in your own house, knowing that the chances are almost non-existent that your house will be condemned to make room for an ever wider freeway?  Is it the freedom to not have to have a car because other forms of transportation are convenient and frequent?

Is it the “freedom" to reduce your own costs by polluting the air and water?

Or is it the freedom to have clean breathable air or to have safe, drinkable water?

Is it the “freedom” to donate large sums to “elected” officials to do your bidding?

Or is it the freedom to know the candidates you can vote for have received “small” amounts of money only from the people who have a right to vote for them.

See also "The false masters of words".

Quotes of the day: Trump and voting

Quote of the day about Trump

"They are also saying there’s an unidentified lying object in the White House."

"The Offender of the Free World", Roger Cohen, New York Times, 2017-01-28,

Quote of the day about voting

We must turn out and vote like our lives dependent on it! If we don't vote we turn elections over to the regressive minority!

Ibid: comment by Reader MegaDucks

My comment:
Hear! Hear!

The only way
We throw are votes away
Is to stay away!

Sunday, March 26, 2017

The false masters of words

“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.”
“The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”
“The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master – – that’s all.”
Alice in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll

We seem to have lots of Humpty Dumptys in politics, their words mean what they choose, not what most people think they mean.

Take the “Freedom Caucus”.  What do they mean?  It certainly doesn’t mean freedom to govern ourselves according to generally accepted rules.  To them it means freedom to do what they damn well please, to hell with whoever else's freedom they tromp on.

Just what are “conservatives” conserving.  It certainly isn’t resources.  It certainly isn’t careful consideration before making any changes.  To too many “conservatives” it means either conserving the power of large corporations or conserving a very narrow view of religion. ironically, the latter don’t hold the former to “you cannot serve both God and Mammon.” - Matthew 6:24.

As I’ve written more times than some of my readers would like, “free market” means, according to the Humpty Dumptys is again, free for the sellers to do as they please.  To them the free market is not providing buyers with all the information they need and is not avoiding externalities such as pollution and worker safety.  These to them are impediments to “free markets”.

“Liberals” misuse words also, but their goals tend to be more friendly to the general populace.  But sometimes their “liberality” works counter to the general welfare or unnecessarily creates opposition to certain desirable goals: like letting people lead the lives they choose.

I think “gay marriage” has lost a lot of otherwise “liberal” votes because many supporters have a different view of marriage.  I’ve always thought this problem should be dealt with by a “granny rule”.  If two grandmothers choose to live together, is it our business whether they sleep in the same bed or in different rooms?  It is “our business” if one of them dies.  Does the survivor have to sell the house to pay the inheritance of the deceased’s children and grandchildren?  To avoid this situation, any group of people who choose to live together should be able to have a civil contract that protects the interests of each member of the group.

Friday, March 24, 2017

There never can be a free market in health care

I submitted the following comment to David Brooks “The Trump Elite. Like the Old Elite, but Worse”, New York Times, 2014-03-24, (Warning, my comment is buried among several others.)

There never can be a "free market" in health care.  Sure the sellers are free to leave the market, but few of the buyers are free to leave the market.

Let's hope it doesn't happen to you, but suppose you are in a car crash on a rural road.  First responders find you unconscious and decide to send you to a big city hospital rather than the nearest small town hospital.  Depending on the severity of your injuries, they call an ambulance (very expensive) or a helicopter (really expensive).  Oh yes, there is no free market in either because there are not many sellers of either, not many being only one.

There can be a free market in insurance providers, but how free a market is there when only five or six providers in your market?

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Health care, RINO's and rhinos

I posted the following to the New York Times article "Yes, Senator, You Wouldn't Want to Lose Your Mammograms – or Women Voters".  See

I think we should stop calling "Republicans" Republicans.  They definitely are not the party of Res Publica (public things).  They either are corporatists or stone throwing sinners.

I always wonder where the party I once was a precinct officer of would have become if John Anderson had won the nomination in 1980.

- End of NYT submission

Around the time Ronald Reagan became President the term RINO started being used heavily: Republican in Name Only.  It was used to cast out those who believed in the "big tent" that both parties claimed to be.

But I often wonder if the term shouldn't be "RHINO", a big, lumbering mammal with poor eyesight and a willingness to attack anything it sees as a threat.  Which is just about anything that moves.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Republican governors’ oxen gored

Republican governors are complaining about the cuts to the Federal grants they received.  These governors include many whose states already receive far more in federal money than their residents pay in taxes.


My comment was “States’ rights to federal funding?”

I also added a comment to Socrates who began "The Grand Old Parasites want everything and systematically refuse to pay for it.  They want something for nothing and refuse to acknowledge that taxes are the cost of civilization.”

Ironically, "taxes are the cost of civilization" supposedly was said by Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, appointed by Theodore Roosevelt.  I think both are spinning in their graves at the current status of their party.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Can travelers stop Trump?

I thought I saw an article in BBC News that many people in other countries who could travel to the U.S. are choosing to go elsewhere.  For example, a British professor who received a travel grant decided to use it to travel to a conference not in the U.S.  In addition, travel to the U.S. supposedly is down.  Is this seasonal or because of Trump.

Trump’s travel ban is having an effect on doctors for small towns.  See  Many of these small towns depend on foreign doctors because many U.S. doctors aren’t interested in working in low-paying areas.

I wonder how much people leaving the U.S. and people not considering can put a crimp in the support of Trump.

What if all those U.S. residents who are foreign-born decided to go elsewhere?  I have many foreign-born friends, some who are also citizens.  I would not like to see them leave.  But as with the doctors, if large numbers of engineers, professors, programmers moved outside the U.S., would the U.S. economy be hurt enough to get many of Trump’s enablers to abandon him?

What if large numbers of temporary visitors decided to go elsewhere?  Would the travel industry feel it enough to complain to politicians.

If this came to pass, I know who Trump would blame: me.

Actually probably not me, but I’m sure he would find lots of scapegoats other than himself.

An additional thought along these lines.  How much do U.S. travelers enable other anti-democratic leaders?  Could a large enough boycott have an effect on these leaders, or would their countries become another North Korea?

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Republicans are all for choice except…

“Americans have choices. And they’ve got to make a choice. And so maybe, rather than getting that new iPhone that they just love, and they want to go spend hundreds of dollars on that, maybe they should invest in their own health care.”
Jason Chaffetz, Republcian Rep., Utah

But Republicans don’t want to give people much choice when it comes to transportation.  We should all rely on cars and planes.  Forget trains, buses, and subways.  They would rather build more and more freeways, taking away the tax bases of central cities.

The cost of a cell phone pales in comparison to cost of a car, even a decent used one.  Then there is all the gas, service, and parking places for it.

And the car has destroyed many a downtown because people prefer going where there is “free parking”.  But what is the cost of that free parking: rain runoff (filled with contaminants) and heat radiation.

And what is the cost of health care compared to a cell-phone.    We each pay $238 for medical insurance deducted from our Social Security checks.  We don’t pay anyway near that for our cell phone service.  And the iPhone that is not fully paid for costs only $16.67 per month.

And what is the cost to the rest of us for an uninsured person?  Companies should worry about people showing up sick because they can’t get afford medical care.  All of us should be concerned about somebody who doesn’t get care for a communicable disease.  Did you ever hear about Typhoid Mary who worked in food service?  See  Although she never became sick from typhoid, she was a carrier who infected many of the families she cooked for.

Health care for all of us means better health for all of us.  True conservatives would want to keep as many people well as possible.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Good companies benefit from good regulations

The New York Times had an article on a small group of business in Toledo that thought less regulation would help their businesses.

See “The President Changed. So Has Small Businesses’ Confidence”, Landon Thomas Jr, 2107-03-12

Many people fail to realize that government makes businesses run more smoothly because it levels the playing field by keeping other businesses honest.  Government is the force that reduces externalities.

Does a quality restaurant want to compete with a sloppy restaurant that has unsanitary conditions, pays extremely low wages, and just dumps its garbage anywhere.  Food inspections have saved lots of lives and protected other restaurants from unfair competition.

Does a trucking company that follows safety laws want to compete with a company that overworks its drivers who are encouraged to speed.

Does a quality manufacturer want to compete with a manufacturer who cuts costs by avoiding a lot of safety practices?

Does a food processor want to face a law suit from a person who has a really bad reaction because the company didn’t follow government labelling regulation?

Does any company want to do business with a bank that doesn’t keep a government-mandated reserves?  It has happened over and over again that people and companies have lost a great deal of money when a bank went belly-up.  The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) has certainly reduced the losses of many a company.

If a government didn’t enforce certain standards of safety and fiduciary responsibility, would more businesses be looking at costly law suits?  By showing that they were making every effort to follow the regulations, wouldn’t they blunt these suits, especially if they kept good compliance records.

And well-run companies will also pay less insurance than their slap-dash competitors.

Oh, yes, I almost forgot patents and copyrights.  Boy, lots of companies would be screaming bloody murder if their intellectual property wasn’t protected by government registration.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

"Poop in the pool" politics

Today's Duluth News Tribune (2017-03-14)  has an editorial "No pay for extra sessions".  It claimed that no legislator should get his or her per diem because they didn't get their work done in the regular session.  This assumes that each and every legislator was responsible for not getting all the bills passed that should have been passed.

But how few legislatures does it take to hold up a bill?

For years I've called punishing the many for the misdeeds of the few as "poop in the pool" management.  I was at a summer camp decades ago when poop was discovered in the pool.  The camp councilors would not let anybody swim in the pool until somebody admitted to fouling the water.  Since probably only the culprit knew who did it,  do you really think he would admit his misdeed and get even worse punishment, like his parents being told?  Meanwhile, all those who didn't see it happen, and most of them were either not in the water or not even in the pool area, get punished for something they had absolutely no knowledge of.

Unfortunately, this attitude is found in all societies.  All schmoos are responsible for one schmoo tripping over one shtoonk.

Thursday, March 09, 2017

“Donald Trump dead from fatal heart attack!”

Wow!  Did I get your attention with this false news!

It is based on an 2007 WrestleMania event.  I’ll let you read the details at

There are a whole bunch of web sites that put out almost any kind of distorted news.  Politifact uncovers many of them.  This particular item was given a “Pants on Fire” rating.

Politifact is really non-partisan, but some of those who it criticizes don’t like being exposed.  Unfortunately, those who need criticism more often act offended more often.

Another good site for fact checking is, a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center.  Vanessa Schipani really took a good look at some of the Republican small concessions on climate change:

Whatever you read or watch, be sure to use more than one source for your news.

By the way, the worst I wish for Donald Trump is that he sneak off into the sunset with his tales between his legs.

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

The truth about Donald Trump’s inauguration


And if you believe this hilarious parody…

Trucks, taxes, and benefits

I don’t drive on freeways much anymore, but are there still trucks that have signs on the back that state something like “This truck pays $4,362 per year in taxes.”

Shouldn’t there also be a sign that says the government provides $x,xxx per year in services to this truck”?

What is the pro-rata cost of highways for each truck?  Snow-plowing?  Police investigation of crashes?  Police protection of auto drivers harassed by tailgating truckers?

It seems more that someone benefits from taxes the more they complain about taxes.  Corporations want well-educated employees, but they don’t want to pay the taxes to educate future employees.  They want to sue those they claim have wronged them, but they don’t want to pay the taxes for courts.  They want laws to protect their interests, but don’t want to pay the costs of enforcement.

Corporations and others want a military that costs more than then next two or three next largest militaries, but they don’t want to pay the taxes to support that military.

Saturday, March 04, 2017

Quote of the dayl: Donald Trump and Constitution

"What Trump knows about history (or for that matter the Constitution) would not fill a Post-it note."
Roger Cohen, New York Times, 2017-02-28.

One could say the same about many members of Congress and the Supreme Court.

What I don't understand is that some of these judges are "originalists" and then put a different meaning into the text.  Or all those in Congress who call themselves "conservatives" but are quite liberal with their reading of the Constitution.

Friday, March 03, 2017

Iran: A Cultural Lesson for Americans

The Iranian movie “A Separation” is really about interpersonal clashes that can occur in any country.  However, it is a glimpse into the lives of people in different classes and their hopes and concerns.

The take away for anybody with an open mind is that we are not at war with people in many countries.  People in other countries have their hopes and dreams, jobs and responsibilities, and can care for one another as well as get into unreasonable disputes.

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Another job automated away

About 50 years ago, I had to call or visit a stock broker to buy or sell stocks. I would place the call.  A few hours later the broker would call me back with the results of the transaction.  The charge could be $50 or more.

About 30 years ago online trading began.  Place an order and some time later the order would be processed.  The charge was about $25 regardless of the size of the order.

About 20 years ago, the time lapse was shorter and the charge was $14.99.

About 15 years ago, many trades were “instantaneous”.  Place the order and it would be filled.  The charges also dropped down to $9.99.

Today, I was informed that the charge would be $6.99 next week.

Consider that many of these trades are untouched by human hands.  Instead of a local broker calling a New York broker who would pass the order to broker on the exchange floor, each buy-sell order goes to a set of computers which fill the orders within seconds, and with only fractions of cents difference in the offer and sale.

Now if we could only automate CEO jobs.  Think of the billions that could be saved across the economy by replacing these over-paid men and women.  The savings could be passed on to the people who do the real work.