Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Heritage is culture, ancestry is lineage

I am always bothered by the loose use of heritage in place of ancestry.

Some of my ancestors were from England and some were from Germany.  When I went to England, I was called a Yank.  When I went to Germany, I was called an Ausländer (foreigner).

It always amazes me when people call themselves Swedish or Italian or ... but can't speak a word of Swedish or Italian.  Having lived in both Sweden and Italy I facetiously call my self more Swedish or Italian than many in the U.S.  I not only learned the languages, but I read the local newspapers and many books.

My nationality: American.  My heritage: lower middle class Clevelander.

Published at

Amazing!  As of this posting, my comment received 30 recommends.  Generally, my comments receive 0 to 3 recommends.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Statues to traitors

Some are complaining about the removal of statues of Confederate officers, but they don’t seem to recognize that these officers were traitors to the United States.

Maybe somebody should replace them with statues similar to the only one erected to another famous traitor.  It is a boot erected in 1887 and doesn’t even have Benedict Arnold’s name.  Supposedly it was erected based on a story of Arnold asking a Revolutionary prisoner what would be done to Arnold if the Americans caught him.  See for the story.

However, Arnold never was hung and died in London.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Little boots, little hands

Nicholas Kristof wrote an interesting comparison of the Roman Emperor Caligula and the American President Donald Trump.  See "There was once a great nation with an unstable leader", Nicholas Kristof, New York Times, 2017-08-26.

See the comments for ideas on how much this is true and how much the current U.S. is more resilient.

For more on Caligula, see

The earth is a cube

This statement is “missing” in the “debate” about listening to all sides.

Are those who want us to listen to all “sides” on climate change willing to listen to flat earth “theories”?  Or cube earth “theories”.

I doubt it.  It has been well established that the earth is “round”: round as the irregularities of its surface permit.  And it has been well-established the earth is warming because of human activity.

If fossil fuels are being pulled out of the ground and not replaced, wouldn’t it stand to reason that more carbon dioxide is being put into the atmosphere?  If carbon dioxide is a heat-trapping gas, wouldn’t it stand to reason that more carbon dioxide would warm the earth?

The only counter to this trend would be a substantial increase in the number of plants taking in oxygen.  If anything, we are reducing the amount of space for plants with more and more freeways, parking lots, and buildings.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Boob Tube President

Considering all the TV watching that Trump does, could the term "boob tube" be more apt?

Thanks to the New York Times, my local newspaper, and many other online newspapers for providing me with a wide variety of information and opinion, far beyond my little corner of the world and far beyond my own biases.

Comment to “John Kelly’s Latest Mission: Controlling the Information Flow to Trump”, New York Times, 2017-08-24.

Valley Forge and Afghanistan

A ragtag army of rebels held itself together over a winter as the enemy wined and dined in a nearby major city.  Guess who won in less than eight years.

The only thing we learn from history is that we don't learn from history.

Comment posted to “On Afghanistan, There’s No Way Out”, Bret Stephen, New York Times, 2017-08-24.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Exxon-Mobil and Adam Smith

The New York Times (2017-08-22) had a long article on how Exxon scientists had predicted climate change but advertised that the science was unsettled.  See "What Exxon Mobil Didn't Say",

Many employees and other shareholders are suing Exxon-Mobil for hiding the potential loss of assets as less fossil fuels are used.

I submitted the following quote from Adam Smith:

"The proposal of any new law or regulation of commerce which comes from this order [those who live by profit], 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."
- Adam Smith, Wealth of Nations, 1776

I was surprised that it was approved almost immediately after I posted it.  Often my postings of this quote are ignored.   See

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Have I been hacked?

This morning and afternoon I had a huge spike in usage from five countries.  All my statistics looked "normal".  This evening many of the statistics have gone to zero.  See, if it is still there.

Well, rebooting restored my data.  Strange!

Looking at some other data, it looks like the references came from a small number of sites.  I wonder if these sites were hacked to reference my site.

Unexpected spike in blog traffic

Normally I have 20-30 page views per day,  As of 15:00 I had 29,500 page views for today.  The geographic distribution was:

France 10382
Belgium 4189
Philippines 2392
Kuwait 1443
Spain 262
United States 17

On an hourly basis there were 1200-1800 page views since 0900 this morning.

The views of individual pages were from 17 to 27 for a total 203.  That means most of these “users” were accessing the site rather than individual pages.

I made my first blogger entry on 2006-09-15 and I have made 2597 posts.  The most page views of a post - 292 on “Mike Peters ‘Twelve Days of Christmas’”.  Today’s traffic accounts for over 1/6th of eleven years of traffic.

I have no idea why this spike has occurred.  And why only outside the United States.  I do know that I have had a large number of views from France.  I don’t know why.  I have only three acquaintances in France and I’ve lost contact with two of them.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Hard-working Americans?

The following was inspired by “Washington clichés, fake news and ‘poiticianese’ by Jim Heffernan.

Oops!  That old newspaper guy let a typo get through!  At least he did better than many newspapers do: he used a diacritical mark in the right place.

Politicians of all stripes appeal to all Americans as “hard-working”.  How do they know that all that they appeal to are really hard-working?  Some have jobs that are almost fun.  Some have jobs that the only hard-working part is boredom.  Some have jobs that seem to be one crisis after another.  Some have jobs that not only are hard but dangerous (and interestingly some of these politicians think reducing the danger is “over-regulation”.

I think I’ve had jobs that have had one or more of these features: programmer, consultant, presenter, Santa Claus, line painter, grocery bagger, stocker, and cashier, and many others.

I’ll mention one that had many of these features: bus driver.

I had the stress of being on time. I had the stress of unruly students.  I had the stress of non-working buses. And I had the joy of attending events on the clock.  I had the joy of napping while my riders toured their site.  I had the joy of reading a book while waiting.  I met lots of really nice people and a few that weren’t so nice.  In short, it was a job that I was glad I did that I am glad that I’m not doing now.

Did not voting lead to “the triumph of evil”?

“Every member of Mr. Trump’s advisory councils should wrestle with his or her conscience,” Lawrence Summers, the former Treasury secretary and former president of Harvard, wrote on the Financial Times website on Tuesday, “and ponder Edmund Burke’s famous warning that ‘All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.’”

See “Why Are All These Business Leaders Still With Trump?”. Vikas Bajaj and Stuart A. Thompson, New York Times, 2017-08-16.

Democracy: quote of the day

"Democracy is about majority rule, not majoritarian tyranny."

"Gandhi won't leave India", Gopalkrishna Gandhi, New York Times, 2017-08-14

We do have to be careful even about the phrase “majority rule”.  Does the majority rule about climate change?  If the majority is purple people do they get to rule that all orange people should leave the country?

“Majority rules” should be limited to the majority elects those who govern, not to each and every rule that a government makes.  And in our last election, a minority of those who voted determine who would become president.

Consider also that many corporations want to eliminate many rules that “the majority” made: rules about safety, rules about pollution, rules about…

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Thanks to my cardiologist

Today I saw my cardiologist for the sign-off on my heart surgery (see I’m back!, Getting sick is only for the rich or the well-insured, and Modern Medicine and Let Them Eat Cake Politicians).

I told her that I didn’t know whether to be mad or glad.  Mad because of all I went through for the open heart surgery and all the side effects that went with it.  Glad because of what the surgery had repaired.

Between the latest EKG results and what she heard with her stethoscope she was very pleased.  Her delight made me very optimistic for continued improvement.

P.S.  I know that she may well read this, but I still want her to know that her optimism was very contagious.

Monday, August 07, 2017

Laugh in the name of science

In a plea for me to support the Union of Concerned Scientists I received the "2008 Center for Science and Democracy Calendar".  It has 12 hilarious cartoons about those who try to deny the science behind so much: climate change, football head injuries, and more.  Normally I throw solicitations away, but this had a real cool calendar.  I sent the solicitation back with a five-dollar bill and kept the calendar.

I checked the website at but only found the 2017 calendar at

“Best Places to Retire”?

AARP and others often publish lists of “Best Places to Retire”.  First, “best” is subjective.  One person’s “best” can be another person’s “worst”.

Second, these “best” lists often include taxes, the higher the taxes the lower the rating.  Tax is one of those things you get what you pay for.  If “high” taxes are paying for subsidizing business to get them to relocate, the taxes are not much benefit for retirees.  If the “high” taxes are paying for infrastructure such as emergency services then they can be of great benefit to retirees.

Even a given area can have great variation in benefit to retirees.  For example, most senior housing is in the “middle of nowhere”: infrequent bus service and very long walks to anything.  On the other hand, when we decide to sell our house, there are several senior residences that are close to bus stops and within walking distance of shops and restaurants.

Comment to Krugman and health care

Don't like paying for health care?  Don't get sick, don't grow old, and don't visit doctors.

I rarely get sick and I couldn't stop growing old, but I do visit doctors regularly to check on how well I am.  For a man my age, the verdicts have been that I am in pretty good shape.  But they have also been concerned about my heart.

This year a cardiologist determined I should be seen by surgeons.  The verdict was that I needed a valve replacement.  Four months later I am slowly getting back to the activity level I once had.

But if had to pay all the costs that have been incurred, I would probably be back in the hospital with a stroke.  If I had to pay all the costs, I would probably have to sell my house.

As it is, I pay a few dollars for this, a couple hundred for that, and on and on.  The max I could pay is $5,000.  I'm not there yet, but I would say that lots of minimum wage workers would have a hard time making those payments.

Posted to

North Korea and Washington’s Farewell Address

"The nation which indulges towards another an habitual hatred, or an habitual fondness, is in some degree a slave. It is a slave to its animosity or to its affection, either of which is sufficient to lead it astray from its duty and its interest." - George Washington, "Farewell Address" The U.S. Senate has one of its members read this every year. Do most of them stay away or sleep through it?

Posted to

Instant junk mail

Every so often I receive a letter with no return address but lots of attack printing on the front and back.  I thought that these letters were in response to my “Party of One” columns in the Reader Weekly, but I stopped writing for the Reader over a year ago when I had been bumped one too many times.

But they keep coming every few weeks and every few weeks I put them unopened into the recycle box.  I guess this mysterious writer also reads this blog.  Thank goodness I don’t allow comments on it.

My advice to this writer is start your own blog.  It’s free and you might even earn a bit of ad revenue.

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Writer’s block in the modern era

Sometimes when I have a blog idea but don’t have Internet access, I feel l am locked i a cell with reams of paper but no pen.

Trump’s affinity to Russia

Why does Donald Trump have such an affinity to Russia?

Alexander Borodin wrote an opera about him:

Prince Ego!