Wednesday, October 25, 2023

Yes, it is satire, but a little to true!

We have ourselves a new Speaker of the House. Unlike most countries, even though the government fell essentially, the Republicans have been back to try try again - it over and over. Well, we finally have a winner.  Mike Johnson.

He does really, really hate gay people - so there is that. 

He filed an amicus brief against overturning sodomy in 2004. (Which outlawed gay sex up until 2004 in about 25 states.)

He filed an amicus brief against gay marriage in 2015.

He voted against a bill to preserve gay marriage in 2022 (yep - last year).

He introduced a "Don't Say Gay" bill in the US House this year.

He also led the charge to overturn the election of Joe Biden in the House. He accused the voting company of having software developed by Hugo Chavez of Venezuela - even though Hugo has been dead for years. And, unlike FOX NEWS, which had to repudiate that idea and was fined 750 Million dollars, good old Mikie still pedals that story.

He voted for the Stopgap bill that Biden and McCarthy agreed to. Then voted against following it a month later and voted to shut down the government.

whew

Some insanely cool Architecture images made by AI

 These are definitely




cool.


I'm not sure how to react to this...


 So there was a terrible attack in Israel, their 9/11. And we are in violent agreement that we should support Israel for a variety of reasons: it's the only full democracy in the region, they were victims of a terrorist attack, women and children were brutally killed, and the terrorists took over 200 people and are using them as human shields.

So, we should support them. And, we already give them $3 Billion a year for self-defense. 

But does anyone but me have a problem that the Israeli government won't take any optional funds away from the Orthodox in their country who do not work or serve in the army?  I mean, these funds are not required in the country and are all payoffs to trade from Netanyahu's government coalition.  

The money that they will not redirect includes money for West Bank Settlers. Money for Orthodox schools that do not teach the basics was TRIPLED in the last budget. But they will not redirect any of these funds, even though they have not been allocated yet.

I totally think that the Israeli government has every right to spend their taxes however they want. But why are MY taxes going to Israel when their own tax money doesn't?

From NYTimes - from Peter Coy - a very moderate opinion writer:

While the world’s eyes are on Gaza, another drama is unfolding in Jerusalem. There, lawmakers and government ministers are tussling over how to pay for the war against Hamas. There’s a debate over how much, if any, of the money should come from special allotments that were made earlier this year to the ultra-Orthodox and to settlers in the West Bank.

Eight days after the murderous Oct. 7 attack by Hamas, Bezalel Smotrich, the radical rightist who serves as finance minister in the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, said at a news conference that he had issued instructions to change the order of budgetary priorities. At the time, he didn’t seem to exempt so-called coalition funds, much of which are earmarked for the ultra-Orthodox and the settlers. Coalition funds are an obvious potential source for the war effort because they’re not required for the basic operations of government.

More recently, though, Smotrich has shown little interest in diverting funds intended for the ultra-Orthodox and the settlers to pay for the war and for aid to displaced civilians. “There really isn’t a lack of money,” Smotrich said, according to an article in TheMarker, a business daily published by Ha’aretz. Pressed on whether some war funding would come from the ultra-Orthodox and the settlers, he said, “At least in the war, let’s put populism aside.”

Smotrich’s seeming protection of the special allocations to the ultra-Orthodox and the settler movement isn’t likely to sit well with many Israelis. Impatience with those two groups was rising even before the war. It’s likely even stronger now.


One reason is that nearly half of ultra-Orthodox men don’t work, and the vast majority don’t serve in the army. (The Hamas attack did produce a burst of enlistments.) The ultra-Orthodox have their own school system, funded by the government, that teaches few if any skills needed by the modern work force. The budget passed last spring increases state funding for religious seminaries by at least 50 percent and more than triples funding for the ultra-Orthodox school system, according to an assessment by the Berl Katznelson Center, a political research group.

As for the settlement movement, its rapid expansion in the West Bank, subsidized by the right-wing government, enrages Palestinians as well as Arabs in other countries. (The International Court of Justice has stated that the settlements violate international law — a stance the Israeli government rejects.) Smotrich is one of the settler movement’s strongest supporters. He obtained new powers over civilian life in the West Bank as a condition of joining Netanyahu’s government. He approved construction of thousands more homes in the occupied territories and made it harder for Palestinians to build homes and move around. He has written that his goal is a full Israeli takeover of the West Bank, with Arab residents given local self-governance but no right to vote, at least at first, in national elections.

I just don't get it.

Monday, October 23, 2023

We Bought a House in Palm Springs

 We purchased a house in Palm Springs for our retirement. It is very cool.

It comes with Solar Panels (14) and a garage

Jacuzzi is always critical

Inside, looking form the kitchen into the living area and stairs to the 2nd floor.
Unless you are British, then the stairs lead to the 1st floor.


New Post on Geography and Economics Substack

 LINK



Once Again from the Depths of "No Shit Sherlock"

 This is self-explanatory for those who are blind to the world.


"A chance"... way to commit!

Then there is this.

You either believe in the science behind Global Climate Change or you don't. This headline strikes us believers as "no shit" and strikes non-believers as "another lie." Preaching to the choir, kids.


Let me guess.... too many cars and not enough parking?



Saturday, October 21, 2023

Hey - good news about the Salton Sea

 I am sure you all remember my comments on the Salton Sea. How's it is so salty that the water it killed fish and screwed with the western flyway. They are trying to carve out a northern portion of the Sea and ensure it is desalinated. The project envisions a northern section of the Salton Sea, blocked off from the rest. 

To prevent the resalinization of this northern portion, it will be slightly higher than the rest of the lake. It will also be used as a reservoir, not an agricultural feeder.

The current state, a start

The final project (lake only)


We're back

 Hello all. Ed and I are back from a whirlwind trip to Palm Springs. It was fun, and we saw a ton of friends. Seriously, more friends in Plam Springs in a week than we have seen in New York in years (no dis to John and Carson's family).

It was fun.

And yes, we did go axe-throwing in LA before we left. Eddie and I both got bullseyes. And no, Eddie did not get a picture of MY bullseye. Typical.

Thursday, October 12, 2023

Great Image (select to expand) and Explainer of the Gaza Strip

 

Really, if you select it, the map is informative

What the absolute fuck

 The first thing to remember about Alabama Senator Tommy Tuberville is that he became famous as a College Football Coach and was elected into the Senate with zero political experience.

And less than zero intelligence.

He doesn't understand the 3 branches of government and has held military promotions in critical areas (the only areas the Senate MUST vote one) for a year. He is protesting the policy of the military to provide (female soldiers) transportation to a state that offers abortion if they are posted in a state that doesn't allow abortion - and they desire one.

This is why he is protesting. By the way, it has been the policy of the government for decades if someone wants an abortion and is posted where they cannot get one (some overseas countries).

But now he doesn't want to pick sides in the Middle East. Someone should tell him that the US has already picked the anti-Iran, anti-Syria, and anti-Hamas side. It might not be right, but we have done this.


And then there are actually fucking Nazis. Parading around. WTF

New York Times has an excellent podcast (The Daily) looking at RFK Jr

 The Daily today (podcast here) had an absolutely fascinating show today on Robert F. Kennedy Jr. It was unique and ended up being pretty fair / honest about RFK. What I found really interesting is the conversion of him and the reasoning. It is even more surprising that this was a thoughtful piece, considering that the NY Times is very anti-RFKjr.


These are the points I find really interesting:

a) (I added it later) He thinks the Democratic Party as a governing party has abandoned "Democratic" positions like being anti-war, being pro-worker, and international non-interference as much as possible.

1. He started as an environmental lawyer, implementing and then fighting for the EPA (the Environmental Protection Agency.) It built up a lot of goodwill from his family and others. It also built up a distrust of large corporations and their lobbyists.

2. Building on the antipathy of the truthfulness of corporations, he backed the anti-vaccine group that believed (and still believe) that vaccines cause autism. His advocacy there led him into a bit of a conspiracy hole. 

3. Listening to him, and understanding his distrust and hatred of pharma, makes it understandable that he freaked out over the Covid vaccine. He thought it wasn't proven and might be dangerous. This "might be" solidified under the pressure from government sources to change his mind and censor his views on social media. He had 2 points here; both make twisted sense, albeit I totally disagreed. 

He said first, an unproven vaccine that is given nationally and worldwide to a disease that only kills 1 in 22,000 people is dangerous. Now the number of Americans is SIGNIFICANTLY higher than 1 in 22,000, more like 1 in 300, but I don't know when he made his decision.

Second, the idea that the government would put you on a 2 week lockdown that ended up being 20 months long shows how the government has way too much power. I believe it saved lives. He believes that it just proved governmental power.

4. He thinks our government, Democratic and Republican, is driven by corporate interests, not the interests of the people. Well that is definitely true. He calls out Lockheed Martin and Boeing driving the Defense Department in order to sell more weapons (I agree, actually). He calls out pharam (like Johnson & Johnson) for killing national health care, charging an exorbitant price for drugs, and not fighting for stricter food standards like Europe has.

5. He sees no real difference in the two parties. Both have caved to corporate interests.

6. He thinks the Democrats have restacked the primaries to benefit Biden. (True, but if just for Biden is unknown). He also thinks the DNC is stacking the deck by not allowing him to debate Biden, even though he has 20% backing of Dems.

In many of these things, I do not think he is wrong. In some things, I think he is VERY WRONG. But I also think some of Biden's actions are very wrong. And don't even get me started on Trump and MAGA. adn therefore, like I said, interesting.

And no, I will not vote for him. I believe a vote for RFK Jr as an independent is a vote for Trump.

Keep Learning


 Oscar Wild...


Wednesday, October 11, 2023

Some notes on Aging

 I am here to give you the benefit of my many many years of aging.


1. Contrary to fake news, you do not suddenly accept your looks after 60. Accept them now; they will only get worse.

2. Room temperature preferences get more set in stone. Make friendly with your partner now.

3. those aren't knee wrinkles. It is you leg flesh stopped by your knees before it sluffs off onto the ground.

4. There are things you have much more patience with. And things you have so much less patience with. Try to get a grip on them now or you will go crazy (Serenity Now!)

5. Whatever food effects you know, it will get more pronounced and worse as you age.

6. If you think tequila gave you a hangover when you were younger - just wait.

7. Don't play pickleball - you'll break a hip.

8. You did not forget that word, but it does take longer to retrieve it from storage. No doubt you will remember when it is moments too late.

9. All those things that bothered you socially when you were younger. Yeah, for some reason they still come up in your dreams. I thought I would age out of them too.

10. There are no quick fixes.

Sea Ice in Antarctica - What kind of news did you expect?

 More news on the climate front out of Antarctica. It is bad news; what other kind of news could it be?

An aside here. I have started using "Grammarly" which is great for fixing missing words, composition problems, and more. But it makes recommendations that change the way I write. I tend to write like I talk. With parentheticals - you know, comments after commas or dashes - suffice it to say that Grammarly regularly flags these as very fixable.

I had an English teacher, at USC no less, that used to say I made grammatical mistakes, but that my meanings were clear. And that was more important.  Anywho...

It turns out that Antarctic sea ice fluctuates mildly from year to year. Until this year. This year it has astonished observers by being SO MUCH less than usual. It's not El Nino, since the 1970s data there have been lots of El Ninos.

They've found all kinds of odd stuff they did not expect. Warm water under the ice shelves are causing unique problems, and currents are changing. And for a long time, the ice cover was growing by small amounts year over year.

And then, all of a sudden, sea ice levels have crashed. There is no doubt to me that we have hit a tipping point where the old rules no longer apply. Worryingly, there is a lot of sea level rise that was outlooked for decades or centuries from now, that is happening (checks watch) now.



Monday, October 9, 2023

How Stupid Are MAGAs now?

 How about being stupid enough to ban a child's book with absolutely nothing possibly offensive? Oh wait, the female writer's last name is Gay. What happens to impressionable young minds when they can read something with an author like that?!?!


Story from al.com - the Birmingham Alabama Newspaper.

Sunday, October 8, 2023

Happy 100th Birthday HOLLYWOOD Sign

 I can't really believe it has been up in the Hollywood Hills for 100 years! It seems like just yesterday Hugh Hefner and Stars were raising money when it was about to be razed.


To celebrate, here are some pics:


Built for a housing development - later the "... LAND" was removed

1978 - Right before the funds were found to save it.
Remember in the late 1970s, Hollywood was kind of disgusting and yucky.

From the big book of bad ideas

 Here is a bad idea chasing a real problem.

I understand the reality here is that homeless people have nowhere to relieve themselves. It is a severe problem but this is a terrible solution.

We are the richest nation on earth. In GDP terms, the United States is the richest nation in HISTORY.  So let's look at the solutions that are totally possible and easy:

1. Perhaps we actually house the homeless. In a country where billionaires pay no taxes, we cannot afford to temporarily house the homeless? Before we talk about giveaways here, let them stay in tiny homes. Build tiny home communities on public land or in abandoned big box stores.
People would be housed, but no one would be incentivized to stop working to live for free in a housing space that is 12 x 12 with a working toilet.

2. Is providing the fundamental amenities too much for you? Provide public toilets. Sure, you may have to pay someone to make sure they aren't abused, but it would be worth it not to step in actual shit in the streets. New York has 1 or 2 of these, left over from the time of1910 - 1930s when public facilities weren't controversial, and which are actually used and not disgusting.

In a country where the top 9 rich people have over $1 Trillion. That is $1,000,000,000,000.00. If we have a surcharge for people worth over $100 Billion dollars or 0.001 ( or 1/100 of 1% of their worth), it would raise $ 100 million per year. That would be enough to create housing for every homeless person in the United States. After that first charge, you could drop it to 1/100th of 1% and still have enough to keep the facilities all up to snuff.

Instead, we are changing laws to let them defecate in public. So the FULL COST of this shit will be born by the American not rich people (i.e. us);  we have to live with street-level filth. AND the homeless (including women) must to piss and shit in public. As much as we hate it, imagine how awful this be for them too. You can bet your sweet ass that no one worth over $ 100 Million isn't anywhere near those streets.


We have a law like this in New York, and the results are every bit as bad as you imagine.

Saturday, October 7, 2023

A chart of how smaller average temperature rises lead to much worse outcomes

 The New York Times has a video graphic that I cannot add here. But I can add static screenshots of the dynamic graphic. It shows how small changes in average temperature effect more severe changes and increases in destructive weather events.

It's a great graphic that tells a terrible story.












Thursday, October 5, 2023

Reality comes to Washington. Will it change anything?

Simply wishing away the truth has become the norm in Washington. But two items made the news today that show you can't wish away problems.

And they came for the left and right.

Biden has followed Trump in waiving regulations to expand the Border Wall with Mexico. There are 3 ways to look at this:

  1. It is a craven attempt to improve votes from conservatives
  2. It is a repudiation of liberal values that is the product of a feckless administration
  3. It is the only solution to a problem that will increase going forward. This is my take on it. However I think it needs to be followed by strong action against employers and contract outsourcers.

   -------

September was the hottest September on record. It follows the hottest June, July, and August. World temperature has already breached the 1.5 Celsius targets the world was trying to hit. World temperatures have increased by 1.7 C or 3 degrees F. That is a lot.

El Nino made this year hotter than normal, but we are looking at world temperatures that haven't been this hot since the 1400s - and we only know that because that is when temperatures started being recorded. This cannot be explained simply by an El Nino, since it occurs regularly.


Is there anything we can do about this? Not really. 

We are still burning fossil fuels at a growing rate, with no foreseeable slowdown. Even if we stopped burning today, the climate will continue to change for years - or decades - until it stabilizes. And we are nowhere near stopping the burning of fossil fuels.

As for the countries meeting their Paris Climate Change Pact targets, there are many results that are questionable. But the countries that are on track to meet Paris numbers appear to be Sweden, South Africa, Tanzania, Kenya, and Morocco.

Overall the 4 big polluters, China, the United States, India, and the EU are far from their goals.

As for the states, approximately 25 have defined climate goals. Only California has hit its targets. Texas does not have a climate goal but has increased its clean energy generation greatly. It is probably the leader in clean energy.

Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Rhetoric becomes actually scary

 The rhetoric in the country by Trump and his supporters is truly scary. Look, I have tried to stay away from all this, and I will continue. I try to ignore the posting for dollars daily shit. I haven't sad much about Trump, Geatz, Taylor Green Bobert, and others. But I do need to share a bit.

Over the past few weeks, Trump has literally...

  1. Called for the death of General Mark Milley - his appointment as Joint Chief of Staff when he was el Presidenté
    1. Paul Gosar, an Arizona Republican Representative in Congress, agreed Mark Milley should be shot!
  2. Called for looters to be shot on site
  3. Called for the United States to bomb Mexico and the Mexican Cartels
  4. Posted and published personal details for a Court Clerk working in his fraud trial's courtroom. And gives the old "I hope nothing happens to her" routine.
  5. Called the current President a crook, demented, and senile.
  6. Called for media site NBC to be shut down
  7. Called the reporters on MSNBC as traitors to the nation who should be jailed or worse.
Kids, this has passed from funny to deranged and scary as hell.

And now his supporters in the media are LITERALLY calling those who disagree "potential collaborators."

She is also accusing the Biden administration of trafficking children to the Jews, who are then drinking their blood. Protocols of the Elders of Zion anyone? Anyone!! (crickets)

You have to actively work hard to not notice the parallels to WWII Germany, Italy, and the USSR. I know that comparing leaders to the Nazis is stupid and overreacting. But Trump is following their playbook. He is making plans to fire 2,000 federal workers if he is reelected and install loyalists.

And how's your day?

And now great news - really

 Jimmy Carter, as we know, turned 99 recently. In speaking with the press over the year one his life goals is to eradicate the "Guinea Worm".

LINK

And he has essentially succeeded. When he started this in 1986, there were 3.5 Million cases. this past year there were 6. NOT 6 million or 6 hundred, but 6 (SIX). Filtered safe drinking water eradicates the worm and his work, along with quiet non-profits, has killed a disease. 

This is only the second disease, after Smallpox, that has been eliminated worldwide. That is a legacy!

As for what the guinea worm does to people. And remember in 1986, this happened to 3 1/2 million people.


Yuck. Okay, Double Yuck.


Who Would Have Imagined!! (sarcasism)

 When the "pro-life" side won, there was widespread celebration that politicians outlawed abortion. They care for the unborn!!

Once they are born, fuck off.



Happy Zombie Day

 Well kids. It's Zombie Day.

From the good folks at Qanon who brought you such hits as:

  • John Kenndey Jr. is still alive.
  • Trump is still President.
  • Democrat and Hollywood's elites suck the blood out of children to stay young
  • And Biden is dead, and a robot/clone is running the country

Today at 2:30, a national emergency warning test will be a national emergency cell phone test. Qanon has convinced people that these tests will activate the COVID vaccine and turn everyone who took the vaccine into zombies controlled by elites or Microsoft.

So, let's meet up in DC and take a bit out of Matt Geatz. He'll be a little tough and fatty but worth it. Get there early; there will be a line.



Tuesday, October 3, 2023

Words Fail

 Yes, indeed. Let's talk to Trump voters and rationally explain the issues to them. Surely, they will listen.

Or not.

Jesus at the desk with Trump. Because Jesus would inflate his work by billions to make the Forbes list too.

Monday, October 2, 2023

My latest post at the Intersection of Geography and Economics

LINK

LINK


Are the Republicans still the party of Reagan?

No.

Reagan got many things wrong. However, in retrospect, he seems almost quaint. 

When he was wrong, it was from an actual place of disagreement. It was from a clash of ideas and methods. It might have been a way to further enrich the rich, but it was not an attempt to enrich himself.

Is that better than the nonsense that goes on now?

Yes. Politicians now play to the lowest common denominator. It is a field where outrage and anger drive money to the loudest and most obnoxious of our representatives. It is a profession that rewards simple-mindedness and resentment.

Many of us, Republicans and Democrats, believe that gridlock in government is a product of entropy and hubris. Or laziness and greed. And so we try to break that gridlock. But the voters of neither party have not been able to dominate electorally. And many of us believe that our voices are artificially ignored because the other party is holding us back.

And so we begin to wonder if Democracy is the correct answer. I think it is, but only if we follow Ronald Reagan's and Jimmy Carter's advice. We work as a country to solve problems, care for the people of the United States, and at least understand the other side.

I mean, they're wrong, but we should be able to compromise somewhere.

About sums it up