Goodbye, Blue Monday

Goodbye, Blue Monday!

Thanks as always to Pirate’s Cove and The Other McCain and (new this week) Bacon Time, for the Rule Five links!  This week finds Mrs. Animal and yr. obdt. in the less-than-welcoming environs of Chicago, although we are ensconced in a reasonably peaceful northern suburb.  We’re here until Friday, when we fly back to our temporary lodgings in (ugh) New Jersey.  Observations from this location may follow as events warrant.

We speculated about this several times recently, but now here we are; a Profa radical has attacked an ICE facility, and paid the price for it.  Excerpt:

William van Spronsen, a 69-year-old Antifa radical who was arrested for assaulting a police officer at a protest last year, was shot dead Saturday after he attacked an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) facility in Tacoma, Washington, with molotov cocktails. New York Times:

The police fatally shot a man who was attacking an immigration detention center in Tacoma, Wash., on Saturday morning, the authorities said.

The man, who was armed with a rifle, was throwing unspecified “incendiary devices” at the Northwest Detention Center, according to a police statement. The man, identified by officials on Saturday afternoon as Willem Van Spronsen, 69, of Vashon Island, Wash., continued throwing lit objects at buildings and cars, the statement said.

“One car was fully engulfed in flames,” said Officer Loretta Cool, a spokeswoman for the Tacoma Police Department. “He was also trying to ignite a big propane tank but he was not successful.”

Seattle Times:

Deb Bartley, a friend of Van Spronsen’s for about 20 years, described him as an anarchist and antifascist, and believes his attack on the detention center intending to provoke a fatal conflict.

That last sentence may well be correct; this looks an awful lot like suicide-by-cop.  But, here we are, what we’ve been anticipating has just happened.  What’s next?  A group of Profa assholes with rifles and improvised explosives?

Van Spronsen may well be a martyr for the Profa crowd now.  Granted, there’s one thing all martyrs have in common – they’re dead – but an important line has been crossed here.

Granted that most of these goons are not, collectively, the sharpest knives in the drawer.  All you have to do is read the Twitter conversations about this incident to see that.  But it doesn’t take a mental giant to take the next logical step, from one nut with a rifle and incendiaries to a bunch of nuts with rifles and incendiaries.  But the thing is this; we can’t count on them being stupid enough to attack an ICE facility staffed by armed officers.  They might attack a protest or rally by some group they don’t agree with.

And right now, the Presidential campaign season is ramping up, with President Trump presiding over yuge rallies all over the country.

What happens next?

Rule Five Good Times Friday

It’s a popular claim, mostly (but not exclusively) made by folks on the Left, to claim that wage stagnation has made people worse off than they were thirty or forty years ago.  There’s a problem, though:  It’s not even remotely true.  Excerpt:

Back in May, a young American called Akki caused a minor twitterstorm by seemingly showing what many pundits in the U.S. media frequently assert—that ordinary Americans are worse off today than they were in the late 1970s. A number of better-educated twitterati soon pointed out that Akki, a self-declared member of #TheResistance, engaged in what former U.S. President George W. Bush once referred to as “fuzzy math.”

In the meantime, Akki’s misleading claim scored over 197,000 likes on Twitter. It seems that in addition to the U.S. dollar, Americans have come to crave a new kind of currency: victimhood. Many Americans of all political persuasions relish the feeling of aggrievement and the accompanying sense of moral superiority, and if that means that they have to pretend that their lives are worse than those of their ancestors, so be it.

Per Akki, a loaf of bread in 1977 cost $0.32. In May 2019, it cost $1.98. In the meantime, the median income per person, Akki also claimed, remained the same. Ergo, Americans were worse off in 2019 than they were in 1977. The data from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, the most authoritative of sources, tells a somewhat different story. The real median income per person in 1977 came to $23,202. It stood at $31,099 in 2016 (the last year for which data are available). Both figures are in 2017 dollars. So, an American in the middle of the income spectrum was about $7,897 (or 34 percent) better off in 2016 than he or she would have been in 1977. And that’s not counting the increase in non-wage benefits that, due to the quirks of the U.S. tax code, continue to expand. As for the price of bread, Akki’s $0.32 would amount to $1.36 today. Target sells a loaf of bread for $1.09.

Read author Marian L. Tupy’s article Free Markets Dramatically Reduce the Cost of Living as well.

Here’s the thumbnail; people in general and American in particular are better off today than they have been at any time in history.  They spend less of their income by percentage on food.  They spend more on housing, but our housing is typically larger and has more amenities; when I was a kid, few homes boasted central air conditioning, now it’s ubiquitous.

In that second article, Tupy quotes Joseph Schumpeter, the famous economist who served as Austrian minister of finance in 1919, who observed that the “capitalist engine is first and last an engine of mass production which unavoidably also means production for the masses … It is the cheap cloth, the cheap cotton and rayon fabric, boots, motorcars and so on that are the typical achievements of capitalist production, and not as a rule improvements that would mean much to the rich man. Queen Elizabeth owned silk stockings. The capitalist achievement does not typically consist in providing more silk stockings for queens but in bringing them within reach of factory girls.

America is bringing not only silk stockings within the reach of factory girls, but also smart-phones, microwave ovens, air conditioning, automobiles with features unimaginable only thirty year ago; and all of these new things were brought about only because of what remains of a capitalist system.  Major innovation comes from the profit motive; no Steve Jobs ever dreamed up an iPod to “serve the common good.”

That’s a fundamental truth that escapes much of the population.  That’s probably a good explanation for the makeup (and lack of intelligence) of Congress these days.

Animal’s Daily Random Notes News

A few random tidbits from the morning news crawl:

Duck

Duck

Goose!

Wild Canada geese are delicious if prepared properly.  Some Canadians are adamant in defense of the big birds, however (language alert):

I Was Wrong (and I Bet You Were Too.)  Not only is the world today a better place than lots of folks think it is; the article here is also a description of the value of skepticism in critical thinking.  It’s important to know when you’re wrong and adjust your thinking; I know that if I’m ever wrong, if that far-away, unlikely day ever comes, I’ll be the first to admit it.

Billionaire Democratic donor: Bernie Sanders is a ‘disaster zone.’  And so the autophagia begins.  (He’s not wrong, though.)

Kamala Harris has a sincerity problem.  So what?  So does pretty much every other member of Congress.

And here’s something that maybe Harris ought to read.  Excerpt:

Robert Johnson, founder of Black Entertainment Television (BET) and America’s first black billionaire, praised President Donald Trump for the roaring economy and criticized Democrats for moving “too far left.”

“The party in my opinion, for me personally, has moved too far to the left,” Johnson told CNBC’s Hadley Gamble. “And for that reason, I don’t have a particular candidate (I’m supporting) in the party at this time. I think at the end of the day, if a Democrat is going to beat Trump, then that person, he or she, will have to move to the center and you can’t wait too long to do that.”

Oh, there is one candidate in the 2020 race who has the potential to unite Democrats – President Trump.  But given the show members of that party are putting on in their three-ring primary, I suspect that’s asking too much even of Donald J. Trump.

And on that note, we return you to your Thursday, already in progress.

Animal’s Hump Day News

Happy Hump Day!

Back in the Nineties, there was a guy who was Trump before Trump was, a successful, wealthy businessman who saw the country on a bad heading and who decided to do something about it.  He was Ross Perot, and while he’s mostly remembered for (probably) handing the 1992 election to Bill Clinton, he actually was pretty prescient on at least one issue – debt.  And he passed away yesterday.  RIP, Mr. Perot.  Excerpt:

A billionaire by his mid-50s after he sold a controlling interest in the data processing business he founded to General Motors for $2.5 billion, Perot’s foray into presidential politics made him one of the more colorful political figures of the 1990s.

His Texas twang, populist platform — he memorably railed against the North American Free Trade Agreement, warning of a “giant sucking sound” of American jobs to other countries if passed — and frequent TV appearances brought him wide recognition, and his 1992 campaign, in which he garnered nearly 19% of the vote and finished third behind Bill Clinton and incumbent President George H.W. Bush, remains one of the most successful third-party bids in American history.

For years, Bush blamed Perot for his defeat, saying in a 2012 HBO documentary that he believed Perot “cost me the election.” Election experts and scholarly research, however, has challenged that theory: The New York Times found Perot’s effect on the outcome of the election “appears to have been minimal,” and The Washington Post reported Clinton would have still won by a large margin if Perot hadn’t run.

I remember the 1992 election very well; the senior Bush managed to honk up his re-election effort even after his 90% approval ratings only a year earlier, at the end of the first Gulf War.  He ran a perfectly execrable campaign and was up against one of the best political operators of the late Twentieth century – I think Bill Clinton was a less-than-fair President and a lousy, undisciplined person but he was and is intelligent, glib and charismatic.  Perot took a lot of the blame for his loss, but I always thought that Bush 41 needed to lay the blame closer to home.

Perot, illustrating a problem.

Perot had a damn good point through most of this campaign:  That the nation was facing a debt problem that had potential to become an existential crisis.  We can argue the rightness of his claim all day, but now, today, we are facing 22 trillion in debt instead of 4 trillion, and the Imperial government seems less worried about this than ever.

Would a Perot Presidency have set us on a saner course?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  The Imperial City swamp is deep, cloying and filled with parasitic creatures.  But he tried, he came a damned site closer to succeeding than any third party candidate before or since, and when you get right down to it, that’s not a bad legacy.  Not bad at all.

Animal’s Daily Armed Lefties News

First off, go read another installment of my Allamakee County Chronicles over at Glibertarians!

Once that’s done, have a look at this; more on violent leftist groups arming themselves.  Excerpts, with my comments:

Now, let me be clear here. These people have as much a right as I do to arm themselves. Further, if they’re worried about the United States becoming a totalitarian state, they probably should train up and be ready to fight.

Interestingly, this is precisely what the Founders had in mind when they spoke of a “well-regulated” militia, as in, well-trained and well-armed.  I doubt these people appreciate the irony.

Where I have a problem is that these are also people who see fascists around every corner and are far too willing to resort to violence. The way someone once described it was as a knob versus a switch. People on the Left are like a knob, slowly increasing the violence, the severity increasing along the way. It starts with riots and ends with shooting.

This is frighteningly true.  Well, at least it should be frightening to these few hundred far-left nutbars who are suddenly seeing the appeal in learning to shoot a piece-of-crap SKS.  Because, they think they are suddenly going to be an overwhelming force of some kind, when the reality is likely to be quite different.

People on the Right, by contrast, are a switch. They’re perfectly peaceful until they get pushed too far, then the switch flips, and it’s time for the bugaloo.

Because of this.  I’m not pointing out the Right, either, just normal folks, with a strong leavening of ex-military, who don’t agree with violent intolerance.  They do indeed have a switch, with one side marked “peaceful discourse” and the other “kill fucking everybody.”  It will take a hell of a lot to flip that switch; but if some armed AntiProfa nuts start a shooting battle in the streets of, say, Portland, then it’s going to be Molly-bar-the-door.

Of course, I can already hear the criticism. There will be people who will look at videos of Antifa-aligned groups and laugh at them “training.” They’ll criticize it as little more than plinking or whatever.

The thing is, they’re actually training. They’re training as groups.

I don’t laugh at them.  However, I doubt there are enough of them to produce anything but a few incidents and a few Profa nuts sentenced to life prison terms, which will pretty much end their “resistance.”  But if they succeed in more than that…

…Well, they aren’t going to like how that ends up.

Goodbye, Blue Monday

Goodbye, Blue Monday!

Thanks as always to Pirate’s Cove and The Other McCain for the Rule Five links.

This past four-day stretch had Mrs. A and yr. obdt. passing the time in Quebec, where we wandered in beautiful country and fished in some beautiful lakes.  The fishing was, as they say in Quebec, not so good.  You evidently have to fish private areas with an outfitter or make reservations for park lake fishing spots months in advance to get good fishing there.  But the land was gorgeous, the people were friendly, Mrs. A got to measure the European French she learned in school against Quebecois French, and we had a great time.  Photos follow.  Enjoy! Continue reading Goodbye, Blue Monday

Rule Five Those Pesky Physics Friday

Building on our Hump Day post on nuclear power; now the new Governor of our own Colorado, Jared Polis, is on record as a proponent of turning our state’s power grid over to 100% renewables.   But there’s a problem:  It won’t work.  Not even close.  Excerpt:

America operates on 60 cycles per second, or 60 Hz. That grid frequency can vary only about 2 Hz in either direction, says Griffey. “These are small variations, but if it drops below that you start kicking off loads,” he said. “Bad things happen and your system crashes.”

The grid is so sensitive to these variations that power producers must provide both reserve capacity to deal with sudden load increases and “grid inertia” to keep the frequency stable.

“You have to have inertia on the system that helps buffer load changes, and inertia is provided by turbines that spin. Renewables don’t have inertia,” said Griffey.

Without the electrical inertia available from fuel-powered, constantly-spinning generators, the entire grid can crash unexpectedly if the wind stops blowing while the sun isn’t shining.

This means that renewables like wind and solar will always require backup generators to provide both inertia and reliable power to take up unexpected loads.

And how much backup is required increases with the amount of renewables in the system.

“The more intermittent capacity you have, or the more unreliable capacity you have, you actually have to increase that reserve margin to carry more backup,” Griffey said.

“In the case of an all-wind system you’re going to be carrying 90 percent, give or take, to back it up because [windmills] only provide 5 to 15% of equivalent capacity,” said Griffey.

By equivalent capacity Griffey means that the advertised theoretical capacity of a wind farm of say 30 megawatts, called the “nameplate capacity,” only ever actually produces a fraction of that amount, called the “efficiency factor.”

Other sources place the efficiency factor of wind generators between 25% and 40%.

The efficiency of a wind farm of course varies from minute to minute depending on wind speed. Too little wind and they stop turning, too much wind and they have to be shut down to prevent destructive over-speeding that can rip a windmill to pieces.

“In terms of setting reserve margins, you can’t count on non-firm energy availability under the standards that are in place across the United States, you have to have firm deliverable power,” said Griffey.

This is also called “base load capacity,” which means constant-power sources that can deliver the usual amount of electricity the grid needs. There are three kinds of reliable base load sources: Fossil fuel, hydroelectric and nuclear generators.

Fossil fuel-driven sources provide the vast majority of base load capacity not just in the U.S., but worldwide.

Physics are pesky, aren’t they?

Here’s the thing that’s left out of these calculations:  Nuclear power.  Nuclear power using modern reactors is safe, it’s reliable, it’s clean, the amount of waste produced with modern systems is small, and we have adequate storage for it.  We went over this on Wednesday.

So why is nuclear power never included in the fever dreams of those like Alexandria Occasional Cortex and her fever-dream Green New Deal?

Because nuclear power still, for some insane reason, causes no small amount of pants-shitting among the watermelon crowd.  Perhaps it brings images of Chernobyl, that failure of 1980s-vintage Soviet technology (and we all know how great Cold War-era Soviet tech was), which is completely irrelevant given the design of modern reactors; or perhaps they are worried about Fukushima, which event can be prevented by simply avoiding building reactors in tsunami zones.

Upshot:  Proponents of clean energy will keep running into these problems of elementary physics, until nuclear power becomes part of the picture.

Deep thoughts, news of the day, totty and the Manly Arts.