Monday, July 31, 2023

My New Post on the Asian Tigers

 I posted about the growth and lessons from the Asian Tigers from 1960 - 1990. (The Asian Tigers were 4 fast growing economies in Asia. Not, like, roar! tigers.

Sunday, July 30, 2023

Fat Otis is Back

 Fat Otis is the winner (multiple times) of Alaska's Fattest Bear contest. He is ~28, which is about 90 in human years. Each year the Brown Bears come to a river in Alaska to feast on salmon. This year Otis was late and they thought he might have passed. But he showed up late.

On thing I like about him is that he is also called (by local Forest Rangers) is Floati Oti. It seems he doesn't particularly like walking. So he spends time floating downriver to his next spot. I like that.

Gareth sent me a picture from Rheims

Down the steps to the Wine Champagne Cellar 

No see, here is the thing. I added this verbiage after posting the picture. 

I don't feel 64. And I don't think I look 64. But I can't really say if I look younger or I'm just used to me and I look a stereotypical 64 year old?

Saturday, July 29, 2023

The Release of the Endangered Kākāpō

Now you may never heard of the Kākāpō. It is a flightless Parrot, native to New Zealand. But, like most large flightless birds on island, it was driven to extinction. Usually large flightless and yummy birds, think the Dodo, are eaten into extinction.

There was a lot of that with the Kākāpō, but it was mainly driven extinct by feral cats, rats, and other introduced predators. Worse, the Kākāpō's coping mechanism was designed against birds of prey. They fall over and play dead.

Such a strategy does not work with humans. Or cats. And so they were wiped out and all extinct by 1980. Bu scientists found a population on an uninhabited island in the south of the country. The transferred a few to other islands, where they have done well. 

Now, the North Island (with most of the people) have cleared a large area of predators, built some containment fences and released the first Kākāpōs on the mainland in over 40 years. Cool!

Unfortunately for them, Kākāpō are not afraid of humans

Hard to spot in the wild.

Friday, July 28, 2023

Interesting View of Coal Usage (spoiler, the US does well here).


Fascinating - A Sand (and Ruble) Garden

 There is a very cool, very interesting idea. This gardener uses sand to grow and use plants. He finds they grow slower and need no watering and very little / no extra water. It is a great article.

Images from his nursery and garden. PS - he started the nursery because there is a shock when you plant potted soil plants in sand.

And then there is a gardener in England who is using construction rubble for his garden. It took about 2 years to come into its own, but it looks great. 

See.. this is where I don't understand

 I really don't understand people. Look at this cartoon. Now I know cartoons are used to define and exaggerate reality to find the truth underneath. But if part of the country really believes this, it is a problem with reality that you cannot reach. I don't even know what to do.

See here is the problem with this. 

  • The Economy is NOT bad. In fact, it is great. From Deloitte:  U.S. economic growth accelerated over three months ending in June, blowing past economist expectations and tamping down concerns about a possible recession. The U.S. gross domestic product grew by a 2.4% annualized rate to finish the first half of 2023,
  • The Border is NOT wide open. Since the end of Title 42 and new Biden Administrations (DHS Memo July 2023: As a result of planning and execution—which combined stiffer consequences for unlawful entry with a historic expansion of lawful pathways and processes—unlawful entries between ports of entry along the Southwest Border have decreased by more than 70 percent since May 11. DHS has overseen significant expansions in lawful pathways even as we have repatriated a significant number of migrants.
  • Foreign Policy is NOT a joke. We are out of Afghanistan (after 20+ years). We have seen a renaissance in NATO response after years of trashing NATO. And from Pew:After all-time low ratings in many countries in 2020 and a sharp recovery in 2021, ratings of the U.S. remain high this year. A median of 61% across the 17 countries surveyed have a favorable view of the U.S., while only 35% have an unfavorable view.

Thursday, July 27, 2023

I'd like to Raft Down the Tara River

 I've driven between Bosnia and Montenegro a few times. There are some good roads. And then there is the road that wasn't good (maybe changed in 5 years), but was one of the most beautiful I have been on.

It runs a back route along a river valley or two. And, just outside the city of Hum on the map there are white water rafting trips down the Tara River. You can start in Bosnia or Montenegro, the raft companies run on both sides.

Sarajevo to Hum is in Bosnia Herzegovina
Hum to Kotor is in Montenegro
Hum is where the rafting is

I would love to do this someday. The waters are calmer than the big rivers in the United States. They are more gentle and the rapids are mainly not very huge. It is good for families after the May and June thaws.

I am going to post some shit about it here, and I want to go. Who's up for next July (mainly joking) before I am too old.

These are my pictures of the region - although they don't show any of this, it does show the area in April as I drove through this. i did not take a ton of pictures right near the river.

Yes, this is right where the ricketiest border crossing I've ever been to is. 

I later found this is where you "camp" for a two day trip.

The Tara Canyon from above. I drove on those roads!

Wednesday, July 26, 2023

Watch This Crane Collapse Down the Road

 If you've ever come to our house via the Lincoln Tunnel, you have driven through this intersection. This video is freaky, although I haven't heard of the deaths of any driver. 

Tuesday, July 25, 2023

My FAVORITE Friends moment

 Seriously, Ed and I quote this all the time.

I'm Your Father Luke

So today I was going to walk Junie.  Now it was warm, but it is 8:00, so not terrible.

I get into the elevator and there is a handyman for their building going up with a couple of us. As I go in, I hear Darth Vader in the elevator. As it climbs up, the difficult breathing continues. 

Now Junie's mom lives in housing that has a number of retired Broadway people, so I figure it is one of them. Then I look around - there is a handyman in the elevator, and it is him. And his breathing gets worse as we go high and people get off the elevator.

I look and realize he has a pipe-wrench, a wrench, and a couple of screwdrivers in his hand. This man is going to do repairs! I hope he is in the union, because other wise you are hiring emphysema suffers to fix your building, and I fear for him.

That's all.

Monday, July 24, 2023

My Latest on The Intersection of Geography and Economics


What is all this hullabaloo about the Israeli Legal Changes?

 Israel has just passed a law that makes major changes to their Supreme Court. The changes are seen (correctly in my view) as a distinct turn from Democracy and the rule of law.

A simple overview might make sense to an issue that is more complicated that the nightly news makes out. Does it effect America or Americans? In a way. The United States hands over $3,200,000,000.00 ( 3.2 Billion) to Israel every year. Israel is BY FAR the biggest foreign aid recipient from the United States - and our Congress has pledged constant, near unanimous support for them. So we now support and fund a government that does not believe in the rule of the law.

This is possible because Israel does not have a Constitution. Instead they have a set of "Basic Laws" - The Basic Law: Freedom from Occupation and Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty among the two strongest - both have echos of our Bill of Rights.

The Supreme Court of Israel, like the United Staes, has to ability to overturn laws that violate these and the other Basic Laws. The restrictions the court has placed occasionally run up against the religious beliefs of most orthodox people in the country. The Court tries to limit settlements in the West Bank and preserve some minor rights for Palestinians.  The court has also allowed the prosecution of Benjamin Netanyahu to move forward.

In the very tight and unresolved elections of 2021 and 2022 resulted in a new government in December of 2022. This government includes the most deeply conservative and Orthodox parties that believe Israel should occupy the West Bank, kick out Palestinians who live there or in East Jerusalem, and use religion to run the country (no transportation on the sabbath, no gay rights, women to use separate facilities for everything and Orthodox young men should not have to serve in the army - among other laws). 

The Supreme Court has hobbled most of these actions AND allowed the case against Netanyahu to proceed even as he is Prime Minister. And so the legislature proposed laws that would end the Supreme Court's place in government. The newly passed law means that the Supreme Court cannot overrule the legislature. And the legislature can override any Supreme Court ruling. 

Without a Constitution and with a powerless President, the legislature (the Knesset) is now the only final word in the country. In Israel a minority of voters can easily make or break a government. You only need 3.25% of the vote to get into the Knesset and very small parties can change outcomes. In this case, it is a very rabid Israel first group that entered the government to put the coalition over the top. Their need to overrule the Supreme Court meshes with Netanyahu's desire to defang the court in his trial.

Excuse me while I laugh my ass off


The pain of being Part-American

Gays have joined pregnant women in being part-Americans. I know you think this is a rant. But it isn't. Just an acknowledgment that I am not a full-American. Not through my choice, I like being an American, but by a bunch of old white men don't think I deserve to be.

We aren't Americans have rights. This Supreme Court, with the active help of Congress - or the inactive non-support of Congress - has declared women and LGBT Americans partial Americans.

Americans have rights. Pregnant women and LGBT people HAD rights that have been taken away. Pregnant women, depending on the state, now are required to carry to term a child. And to carry to term the effects of rape. And to carry to near-term fetuses with terminal problems. And to carry to term pregnancies that will cause life threatening complications, at least until those pregnancy cause hemorrhaging, sepsis, or near death experiences. And these decisions are left up to individual states. So your state can decide haw many rights a woman has.

On the other hand, states are NOT allowed to decide to protect gay people. Even if a state has declared that equal protection is a state fundamental right, tough shit says the Supreme Court. If you can pretend your religion does not support the humanity of certain people, you're fucked. This includes right now any who preforms a "creative" service. In Oklahoma that includes judges and justices of the peace that don't approve of gay marriage. Apparently, Oklahoma has decided that marriage is a "creative" service.

Or really that LGBT aren't full Americans.

It's not just that we are now partial Americans - but the Supreme Court has downgraded us to "less than" full Americans. We did have rights. Fuck off says the Supreme Court. With the full backing of Congress.

Pregnant women and LGBT people are now partial Americans. Blacks to the police are now partial Americans even when crimes against them are captured on camera.

Right now we can vote. Albeit not on our actual rights - but just to elect more old white men that tell us we aren't really citizens.

And to tell the truth, it is deflating, sad, and heartbreaking to those of us who love our contry.

Lynnie Finds the Trade Offs

 Congress has issues, Lynn has answers. And I like them, given where we are.

On guns:

You want open-carry everywhere, pass legislation to ban assault weapons.

On health:

You want to make women have babies they don't want or can't carry safely, pass legislation to pay support for the child, pre-natal medical expenses, and funeral expenses if she dies during pregnancy or giving birth.

On governing:

You want to lead, keep religion out of it, don't spread conspiracies and lies, and pass legislation that provides something people need instead of taking things away, e.g. books and access to voting.

Saturday, July 22, 2023

Squirrel is Hot


Stupid Shit I won't be discussing....

Republicans are in election mode (it has been almost a year since our last one). And this are the idiotic stories I can't even think about, much less discuss.

  • Representative Marjorie Taylor Green showed pictures of Hunter Biden (President's son) screwing on the Congressional floor. Not illegal, just what MJT thinks is "news-worthy".


  • Presidential Candidate De Santas doesn't believe the Jan 6th insurrection was an insurrection. "If they believe it, let them bring charges and find them guilty. Show me the evidence". So far, over 100 people have been convicted, with at least 20 convicted of sedition - you know - on evidence. 
  • Florida requires that school explain that "slavery taught black people skills they could use later.
  • Florida requires that schools teach that raids and riots where whites killed blacks (Tulsa 1921, Ocoee Florida in 1920 when a black man tried to vote, etc) must now be taught that black people fought on both sides. Like when White Tulsans murdered 120+ black people and looted everyone of their business - yes I am sure black people attacked other blacks too.
  • Representative MJT and Lauren Boebert called each other bitches on the House floor.
  • A resolution to "expunge" Trump's impeachments was introduced in the house with over 100 co-sponsors.
  • Governor of Texas has put floating razor wire "border" in the Rio Grande. Netting underneath means you can't swim under it, and coils of razor means you can climb them. It has already killed multiple people in the days it has been up.

  • Multiple states have been tracking pregnant women, and internet searches for abortion support to track down women trying to terminate their pregnancies. 
  • Multiple states are now tracking trans people who have to leave some states to get support.
  • Multiple states have outlawed drag shows.
  • Hundred of libraries are closing across the country because they are defunded when librarians refuse to censor books.
It is a shit show. And these are only the ones off the top of my head I just cannot think about without my head hurting.

And now for weird ass climate news

 Europe, like America, is baking under heat that is breaking all time temperature records. And, like America, sometimes it yields the oddest results. We saw this in Texas last year, but not as bad.

Milan has been in the 90's (F) for a few weeks (with 50% humidity). Yesterday the temp dropped into the 80's. And a tornado occurred. These don't happen in Europe, so that was a horrible experience for them. And then hail the size of softballs hit (familiar Texas?). And a flood. The video footage is below (and surprising if you've ever been to Milan!).

Many of you have no idea how tired we are of Trump's antics

We have at least a year and a half of this incessant non-stop shit show.


He's on TV again. He's in the news again. He's fucking with all of our legal systems again. He's sapping the very soul out of us.

His news coverage over the last 7 years (so far!) is unrivaled (except WWII). He has been on TV more than Republican's pet bug-a-boos: immigration, voting rights, "woke", and more. He has been on TV more that the Vietnam war was over the entire 12 years. 

He is on more that President Biden who has presided over the greatest job growth ever. Biden has dropped covid-inflation by 75%. Biden finally got infrastructure funding passed - after Trump failed to even get a plan for his many many "infrastructure weeks".

Why? Because a car-crash is more fun to show that a a well running car that just goes forward.

As parodies go The Empire Strips Back is funny and a little scary

 A new burlesque show is hitting New York. Hide your Ewoks.

If you get off to g-string storm troopers.... This is your show!

Apparently Lea really enjoys her moments with R2D2

Boom! Sha lac a lac a

You got it right... a Ewok with a set of D cups
and a big butt (they are in right now)

A Constitutional Test

 What we have here is a Constitutional Test that should be a no-brainer.  In June the Supreme Court, surprisingly to me, ruled that Alabama's present Congressional map is not in compliance with Voting Rights Act. Alabama's legislature had drown the map to pull all blacks into one black majority district, and divided the rest so that the other 6 districts are majority white. This despite the fact that Alabama is 1/3 black.

The court required that Alabama redraw the districts to include at least one more majority black district. 

They have redrawn the districts. But it is still out of compliance with the Supreme Court's rule. Alabama is saying "no way" to the Supreme Court. Hence a Constitutional crisis. 

The United States does have a history of state defiance of the Supreme Court - in relation to slavery and states that want to ignore rulings (called "nullification"). And thus, the Civil War occurred to enforce these rulings. 

What does the Supreme Court do? And when. The court is out of session until October, and even then controversial rulings are not issued until next June. By which time, Alabama is betting, it will be "too late" to change the districts for the 2024 election.

Alabama, following Trump's playbook, is openly defying the United States Government. Will we do anything. PS - LGBT rights are next if states get to ignore the Supreme Court. Texas still has a law making gay sex illegal. If Alabama is allowed to defy the court, others will follow.

Friday, July 21, 2023

Wow! Hotel in China's Desert


There are a couple of hotels in the Tengger Desert in China. Apparently this area was on the old Silk Road, and a critical stop. In this area, the Yellow River cuts through the desert. And China has made these very cool resorts for star gazing and just desert playing.

Probably not the right time now to talk of heat, but it is cool as hell. It is primarily sold as the best place to stargaze. But they also have zip lines over the Yellow River, sand skiing, goat-skinned boat floating on the Yellow River, cool pools and more.

Here are some amazing pictures of the resort.


This is the nearby Moon resort at Moon Lake

Camel rides from the resort to the river

Zip Line over the Yellow River

Good News Day (I liked this - from the Guardian)

Barbie's 9 Dash Line and China and Ted Cruz

You may have heard of the "9 Dash Line". The name itself comes from a very very old Chinese Map that shows China controlling the South China Sea.

This area has been contentious as the World Court (or the equivalent for the ocean) has ruled that the area is international waters, not Chinese Waters. China is pretty touchy about it. Vietnam is also very touchy about it, and has banned the Barbie movie because they claim it shows the 9 dashed line and the South China Seas being part of China. Ted Cruz (and most of the Fox talking Jack-in-the-boxes) have proclaimed this is American movies caving the Chinese censors.

It is stupid. Seriously. This is the "map" they complain about. It is show for less than 10 seconds. For Barbie, it is a map to the "real world" and designed to show Barbie how little she knows about the world. For Ted Cruz it is the map a traitor makes. Compare the actual 9 dash map with the Barbie one and you see some minor differences. Like Barbie's map is a cartoon caricature done by a 3 year old with the route to the real world.


I kind of understand why Vietnam might get touchy, even if the line actually reaches into Russia (Asia is incorrectly orientated). 

But I Ted Cruz' faux outrage is stupid. And to see it come from a man that attended Princeton and Harvard Law is crazy. I think we ought to start bitching about Harvard.

Thursday, July 20, 2023

Not sure they get the point

 So... no one is thrilled with a Biden / Trump rematch - which is where this seems to be going in 16 months. One of the biggest complaints is their age. Either one would be the oldest person ever elected President. Biden will be 81 and Trump will be 78. I tend to agree that this is way to freaking old, but I don't have a better plan.

Both born during the 2nd World War....

"No Labels" is a third party movement - as in they have never fielded a candidate after years of thinking about it. Earlier this year they decided maybe this was the election. People are not thrilled with either choice, and so they want to give us a third candidate. Some one new and exciting, not tied to the past.

That person is (drumroll please). Joe Manchin - an old school Democrat who hates fighting climate change and loves coal, but otherwise is kind of a mushy democrat. I mean, he keeps the Senate Majority in Democratic hands. But...

Kids, if the ages of Trump and Biden are near the limits of what is acceptable. How does Manchin fix this? Joe Manchin will be 76 at the time of the election. And, aside from a uncompromising no on climate change, what does he bring to the table. Okay, he doesn't have a great record on civil rights or voting rights, but it is better than the Republicans. Which is just the kind of lukewarm chicken shit that annoys voters.

It isn't clear which candidate he will screw over worse, probably Biden. But now the No Labels team said they won't run if they are spoilers. What else do you expect? They have no candidates for House, Senate or state elections. Despite our dreams of a true independent, that ain't it.

Definitely not the man of our dreams.

For those of us that thought "The Bachelor" was pretty damn low

 This looks even worse. I don't know if the "Golden Bachelor" will be extra or just a regular season of The Bachelor. But I think it will be sad.

I mean, you're going to have a bunch of older women crying and being sent home. Send home some hot 23 year old (man or woman) and they will clean up after their experiences: TV, host, reality star to go on in other reality shows, model, only-fans star ... something.

But now we will watch 50 - 70 old ladies being given or not given a rose, and then getting the bum rush off-screen. I don't want to watch grandmothers cry!!!


While some rural-dependent brands dump LGBT and CEI - there is Campbells Spoon

 I totally get how John Deere and Tractor Supply felt the need to publicly repudiate their DEI and LGBT support positions; they are, after a...