Goodbye, Blue Monday

Goodbye, Blue Monday!

Thanks as always to Pirate’s Cove, Bacon Time and The Other McCain for the Rule Five links!

Meanwhile:  Beta O’Rourke, the lily-white silver-spoon Irish soy-boy with the fake Hispanic nickname, has tried to explain why gun owners would meekly hand over their AR-15s to the government.  Excerpts, with my comments:

Just when we think Beto O’Rourke can’t put his foot any further into his mouth, he proves us wrong… again. After saying he would have mandatory buybacks of all AR-15s, O’Rourke doubled down, saying he know people would follow the new law, should it become a reality. 

Sure, because we know  how it will be enforced – selectively, and only when there is a political point to be made.

“My confidence is in the people of this country. Go into a gun show in Conway, Arkansas and listening to the owners of AR-15s and the vendors of AR-15s, many of whom, you can imagine, didn’t agree with my proposal, but each of whom was willing to at least have the conversation, some of whom said, ‘Look, you know what? I have an AR-15. Don’t need it. Would gladly sell it back or destroy it,'” O’Rourke told MSNBC’s Joy Reid. “All of them seem like they’d follow the law. We are a nation of laws. It’s part of what defines us and distinguishes us from the rest of the world.”

Beta has never heard that from anyone in a gun show, anywhere, ever, unless they were winking or crossing their fingers.  I suppose, if he came in with a retinue of cameramen and reporters and demanded to know if attendees would “obey the law, if we passed it,” they probably said, “Oh, yeah, sure we would – we’d hand in any guns that survived our inevitable tragic canoeing accident.”  One expects they would be about this honest:

“I believe that America will comply with the law and I believe that there will be a due process in devising the law in the first place, where we listen to stakeholders, all concerned and affected,” he explained. “But do not allow the delays that we’ve seen that have lasted decades to stop us from finally acting on this.”

Australians have not complied with these sorts of laws.  New Zealanders have not complied with these sorts of laws.  Canadians have not complied with these sorts of laws.  And if you want to see open defiance of any such law, boy, howdy, forget those guys, and you just wait and see how Americans won’t comply.

“I don’t want to give into the hype or some of the scare tactics out that have been employed to stop us from even considering this in the first place, much like we don’t go door-to-door to enforce any law in the United States. In fact, I don’t think we do that for any law in the United States,” O’Rourke said with a smirk. “This would not be something that we’d do and I only raise that, Joy, because others have said, you know, this is something we would fear if there were mandatory buybacks program. No, we expect people to follow the law. And that’s certainly what I believe will happen.”

With that last sentence Beta has proved himself to be a bigger idiot that I had previously thought.

Here’s the thing about laws like this that Beta either doesn’t understand or is lying about:  These laws aren’t intended to affect criminals.  They won’t.  Anyone with the IQ of a stuffed iguana knows they won’t.  It’s not possible to make murder any illegal-er, and it’s not possible to get weapons out of the hands of criminals.  No, the intent of laws like this was foreseen by Ayn Rand decades ago:

“Did you really think we want those laws observed?” said Dr. Ferris. “We want them to be broken. You’d better get it straight that it’s not a bunch of boy scouts you’re up against… We’re after power and we mean it… There’s no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren’t enough criminals one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws. Who wants a nation of law-abiding citizens? What’s there in that for anyone? But just pass the kind of laws that can neither be observed nor enforced or objectively interpreted – and you create a nation of law-breakers – and then you cash in on guilt. Now that’s the system, Mr. Reardon, that’s the game, and once you understand it, you’ll be much easier to deal with.”

Control, True Believers.  It’s always about control.  With politicians in general – both sides – it’s always about control.  Understand that, and you understand the problem.

Rule Five Relative Poverty Friday

I’ve stated for many years that there is no abject poverty in the United States, only relative poverty.  Turns out that when you compare the U.S. to the rest of the world, we don’t even have that.  Excerpts, with my thoughts:

A groundbreaking study by Just Facts has discovered that after accounting for all income, charity, and non-cash welfare benefits like subsidized housing and Food Stamps—the poorest 20% of Americans consume more goods and services than the national averages for all people in most affluent countries. This includes the majority of countries in the prestigious Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), including its European members. In other words, if the U.S. “poor” were a nation, it would be one of the world’s richest.

It’s important to note that most assessments of “poverty” in the United States do not include government benefits such as those listed above.

Notably, this study was reviewed by Dr. Henrique Schneider, professor of economics at Nordakademie University in Germany and the chief economist of the Swiss Federation of Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises. After examining the source data and Just Facts’ methodology, he concluded: “This study is sound and conforms with academic standards. I personally think it provides valuable insight into poverty measures and adds considerably to this field of research.”

It’s also important to note that the Swiss know a thing or two about economics.

To accurately compare living standards across or within nations, it is necessary to account for all major aspects of material welfare. None of the data above does this.

The OECD data is particularly flawed because it is based on “income,” which excludes a host of non-cash government benefits and private charity that are abundant in the United States. Examples include but are not limited to:

  • healthcare provided by Medicaid, free clinics, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program.
  • nourishment provided by Food Stamps, school lunches, school breakfasts, soup kitchens, food pantries, and the Women’s, Infants’ & Children’s program.
  • housing and amenities provided through rent subsidies, utility assistance, and homeless shelters.

In other words, the standard calculation of “poverty” dismisses and ignores major sources of income for the “poor” in the U.S., those being taxpayer-funded transfer payments in one form or another.

This is, of course, horseshit.  You can hardly read the comments section of any article on the subject of poverty without reading anecdotes of people on food stamps (at least, back when those were easily recognized) buying a cartload of expensive prime cuts of beef, then going outside and loading them into a new car.  I’ve seen it myself; almost thirty years ago, when food stamps were still the big USDA coupons, I took a cow elk into a butcher’s shop for processing and was in line for the cash register behind a woman who was buying a huge box of prime steaks – with food stamps.

I was sufficiently aggravated that I didn’t bother to see what kind of car she was driving.

Read the whole article, of course, but the upshot of all this is pretty simple to determine:  Anyone living in the United States has it fucking made compared to pretty much anywhere else on the planet, even if you are “poor” as such things are reckoned here today.  We have the richest poor people in human history, and it would be nice if for once the legacy media would stop lying about it.

Animal’s Daily Random Notes News

Just a few random notes, stories and thoughts for the day.

Want to improve your memory?  Try walking backwards.

John Bolton is out as National Security Advisor.  Bolton was arguing to keep U.S. troops in Afghanistan with no clear mission and no exit strategy.  The President – his boss – disagreed.  So, this was obviously going to happen.

Want to improve your memory?  Try walking backwards.

Democrats are blaming airplanes, meat and business for climate change.  Guess which three of those things aren’t going anywhere.

Seriously, is that what Dems are running on in 2020?  Do they want more Trump?  Because that’s how you get more Trump.

In Normandy, scientists have uncovered a bunch of preserved footprints – from Neandertals.  This is pretty cool stuff, because while bones give us an idea of what the Neandertal looked like and how they moved, and their tools give us an idea of how innovative they were, footprints record behavior – they are like signatures, saying I was here. It’s a really groovy find.

Want to improve your memory?  Try walking backwards.

Quantum gravity may be the key to time travel.  I will be the first to admit that my understanding of all this is somewhat less than rudimentary, but color me skeptical.

Turns out naps could be good for your heart.  Come to think of it, I don’t think I’ve ever heard of a cat having a heart attack, and all they seem to do is nap, so…

Want to improve your memory?  Try walking backwards.

The Brits in Parliament seem to have the most fun.

Back home, the Denver City Council seeks to emulate San Francisco in nutballery.  At least we don’t have shit-choked streets and discarded needles everywhere – yet.

To ease your transition back to the real world, here is a bit of totty from the archives:

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

Animal’s Hump Day News

Some random links to stuff I found interesting over the last day or so:

Robert Stacy McCain skewers the Southern Poverty Law Center.  Not that they don’t need skewering – they do, every day and twice on Sunday.

Bill de Blasio is an idiot.

Jerry Nadler is an idiot.

Joe Biden is possibly senile, and an idiot.

Rahm Emanuel finds an acorn.  Rahm went on record saying that “Medicare for all” is a losing campaign issue for Dems – and you know, he’s not wrong.

Baltimore continues to deteriorate.  No surprises.

Mad Dog Mattis slaps down MSNBC.  Eh heh heh heh.

All is not well in Palin-land.  Having been divorced myself, all I can say is no matter the reason, that’s never an easy decision for anyone.

Illegal immigrant apprehensions at the southern border are way down.  Now, who was it that has been making immigration policy lately?

Meanwhile, the “migrants” find other destinations.  Go figure.

Our good friend Jillian Becker weighs in on recycling.

Violence for Thee But Not for Me.  Excerpt:

The domestic rise of various violent groups is a symptom of ideology taking precedence over authentic and rational thought. A recent example of this rather disturbing trend was the attack on the journalist Andy Ngo. Ngo was reporting from Portland, Oregon on a series of protests and counter-protests in the city when he was accosted and attacked by a far-left group, Antifa (which has been responsible for many acts of violence at other events). Ngo sustained injuries to the head, which landed him in a hospital. 

Go read.

Just because, here is some windy Rule Five imagery from the archives.

On that breezy note, we return you to your Wednesday, already in progress.

Animal’s Daily Capitalism News

Before we start – make sure to head on over to Glibertarians for my usual Monday contribution, this one on bulls.

This isn’t exactly new, in fact it’s from 2002, but it’s still well worth the read; this is Dr. Balint Vazsonyi on The Price of Capitalism.  Excerpt:

It bothers me because capitalism – the word and the concept – was the brainchild of Karl Marx. As well as offering an “-ism” opposite his own -ism, it describes a rigid class society in which one class possesses the means of production, the other nothing except its labor. The latter class is called “The Proletariat” who, as Lenin declared, can lose nothing but its chains when it rises against the oppressor.

This is not the place to argue whether capitalism was the appropriate way to describe certain European societies. The point is that owning things has always been open to Americans. The moment you buy one share of stock, you part-own “means of production,” not to mention owning your home and arriving at your place of work in your own automobile – a very American image.

America never had a proletariat.

In that case, America could not have been a capitalist country.

To the best of my knowledge, no one has redefined capitalism after Marx, and it is inappropriate to use a word whose meaning is different from what the speaker has in mind.

Perhaps what we have in America is best described as a free-enterprise system.

Exactly so – Dr. Vazsonyi mirrors (more eloquently) what I’ve been saying here for years, and that is that there simply is no “-ism” in what we call capitalism.  There is no underlying ideology; there is no dogma.  There are only free people making free choices about how to manage their own resources, skills, talents and abilities.  There are only free transactions freely agreed to by all parties, in which every participant realizes a perceived gain in value.

Notice the key word there?  “Free.”  It’s a pretty damned powerful word.

The best economic system is the freest economic system, one can be described as a free-enterprise system, or more succinctly, simply as liberty.

Dr. Vazsonyi concludes:

What we benignly call “politically correct” is never without political purpose. Those who invented “native American” to replace “Indian” sought a term that would, at least by implication, diminish the legitimacy of everyone else who came here later.

Similarly, “capitalism,” having been used for a century-and-a-half to denounce those who practice it, has all the connotations of greed and exploitation, and none of the uniquely American, fabulously successful, and gloriously liberating ring of “free enterprise.”

There is literally nothing I can add to that.  Go read the whole thing.  Send it to your friends.  Send it to your kids.  (Maybe especially to your kids.)

Goodbye, Blue Monday

Goodbye, Blue Monday!

Thanks as always to Pirate’s Cove, The Other McCain and Bacon Time for the Rule Five links!

Meanwhile, in the once-Golden State of California, Los Angeles has continued its slide into a literal Third World condition.  The latest affliction?  Leprosy.  Excerpt:

“Hansen’s disease still exists, and we need to educate medical students and physicians,” coauthor Dr. Maria Teresa Ochoa from Keck Medical Center of the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, told Reuters Health by email.

Dr. Ochoa and colleagues identified 187 patients with the disease in a review of medical records from their leprosy clinic spanning 1973 to 2018. Most patients were Latino, originating from Mexico, and they experienced a median delay in diagnosis of more than three years, the team reports JAMA Dermatology, online August 7.

Multibacillary leprosy (MB) cases outnumbered paucibacillary leprosy (PB) cases by nearly eight to one (88.6% vs. 11.4%, respectively), and Latino patients were more likely than non-Latino patients to have MB, as were patients from Central or South America (versus other regions). 

Most patients (80.7%) received multidrug therapy, and most (92.6%) received antibiotics for more than two years, especially if they had MB.

Only about half of patients (56.7%) had World Health Organization (WHO) grade 0 disability (no signs or symptoms suggestive of leprosy or disability) at the one-year follow-up, whereas 16.0% had grade 1 disability (loss of protective sensation) and 26.2% had grade 2 disability (visible deformity) at the last follow-up.

Among the patients who lost protective sensation, 87.7% (50/57) did not regain it following therapy.

Think on that a moment.  Go on, take a minute and really think about that.  I’ll wait right here.

All done?  OK, good, because I have a few things to say about this utter failure of a city.  Not only have they been not only allowing but encouraging bums and winos to camp endlessly on the streets of the city – not only have they been allowing those street people to pile garbage and discarded needles on the sidewalks – now they have been visited by a relic of the 19th century, a literal Biblical plague.  The only thing they are missing are the cries of “Leper!  Unclean!”

And it’s important to note that the latter follows from the former.

Maybe we can trade the California coast, say, from Huntingdon Beach to the Golden Gate, to Denmark for Greenland.  We can keep San Diego, the Central Valley and most of the northern part of the state – the State of Jefferson portion.  The problem is, I don’t think Denmark (or anyone else) wants California.

Hell, I’m not so sure most non-Californian Americans want it.  Judging from the ongoing exodus of the productive from that state, I’d say there’s evidence for just that.

Rule Five Cause Analysis Friday

We all already know about the latest shooting spree by a nutbar, this one in Texas; I’m not going to rehash that.  But instead, even as politicians scramble to climb onto the still-warm bodies to RHEEEEE for more gun laws that won’t be enforced, I’d like to talk a little bit about cause analysis.

Now, to preface this:  I’ve been a self-employed independent consultant for fifteen + years.  A big part of that work involves teaching the employees of major corporations how to solve problems, which means teaching people how to identify causes; several large corporations have and do pay me significant money to teach their people how to identify and address the root causes of problems.

So, how does one go about solving a problem like the criminal use of guns?  Well, one might start by noting one of the primary rules of cause analysis:  The tool is never the cause.

Ultimately, root cause is defined as “The fundamental underlying condition absent which the nonconformity would not have occurred.” To analyze the various possible causes and arrive at an ultimate root cause, the cause investigator should consider several things:

  • The investigation should uncover a series of events or facts that led up to the nonconformity. Root cause typically lies at the beginning of this chain of events. Keep asking ‘why?’
  • Test possible causes; take one possible cause at a time and compare it to your investigative tools.  Now this isn’t easy when dealing with major social trends or criminal acts, as the streets and alleys of the nation aren’t laboratories.  But we can move on to:
  • A tool, be it physical, procedural or software, is never a cause. Root causes are always due to one of two things, both of which have their source in how a process is managed:
    • Someone has made a mistake, error or omission, (qualitative) or
    • There is too much variation in the performance of the product or the process (quantitative.)
  • How do you know when you have found the root cause? Some hints include:
    • Patterns found in the data lead to one cause.
    • Following the chain of events runs the questioner out of “whys.”
    • Multiple lines of inquiry lead to one result.
    • One possible cause shows up in several places.
    • The cause being examined is a systemic cause, not a specific cause.

However, the final determination should consider one thing: An incident  is an action; by the rules of cause and effect, the cause is likewise an action; an action requires an actor. Therefore, a root cause is always at the point where some person or group of people made a decision. A decision to act (or not to act) is always at the heart of every incident.  Is this cause qualitative or quantitative?  Without having done a thorough analysis, I’d guess the former; something in the minds of these assholes has gone badly wrong, and were they unable to get a gun, as we have seen in other incidents, they would turn to a pressure-cooker bomb, an automobile, a can of gasoline or some other tool, because the tool is never the cause.

Of course, nobody in the political world wants to think this deeply about a problem, and honestly, very damn few voters want to either.  Nobody is interested in finding out why these assholes are making the decision to shoot a bunch of people; they are too focused on doing something highly visible and emotionally driven.  So they call for more laws that won’t be enforced, and more bans on “assault weapons” that they can’t even define.

And the cycle will just keep going.

Animal’s Daily Black Marketeer News

The city of Boulder, long known to Colorado residents as “The People’s Republik of Boulder” and “Twelve Square Miles Surrounded by Reality,” is cracking down on tobacco use and, in so doing, creating a lucrative opportunity for smugglers.  Excerpt:

Rich Marianos, a retired assistant director with the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms warned those decisions come with consequences. He said, without proper resources, Boulder could face a new black market.

“What has time told us,” Marianos said. “When we put in a prohibition, we create crime, just like when we tried to instill the Volstead Act into illegal alcohol in the 20s and 30s.”

Last week, Boulder City Council finalized a plan to ban flavored e-cigarettes as well as raise the age to buy tobacco and nicotine products to 21. They also agreed to let voters approve of a 40% sales tax on the remaining legal vaping products.

Marianos warned the combination of these proposals would create a black market.

“An example could be they were going to Colorado Springs where the taxes may be lower and then bringing them to Boulder and sell them at a higher rate,” Marianos said.

He called cigarette trafficking “the new face of organized crime.” He also said terrorist organizations use it to fund their illegal operations and moves like these would require law enforcement to do more with less.

But it’s for the children!

Every time you ban an item or a commodity, you create a black market.  You create a lucrative opportunity for criminals, and you make criminals out of normal citizens who buy products from the black marketeers.  That was the lesson of Prohibition in the United States, but that was a lesson that the city of Boulder (and New York, and San Francisco, and many other locales) clearly hasn’t learned.

Not even Soviet Bear could stop it.

The Soviet Union couldn’t even stop this, not even given the near-total control they had over the people.  There was a burgeoning black market in the Soviet Union, with everything from onions to automobiles sold “Nalevo” or “on the left.”  Boulder won’t have any more luck, and arguably even less, since you can go right up the road to Lyons, or Greeley, or (as the article notes) down to the Springs and buy anything you want.

Still.  It’s not the first stupid idea the Boulder City Council ever had, and it sure won’t be the last.

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