Sunday, June 30, 2019

Back on the Bike ...

Taking it easy to start -- three miles each morning the last two mornings. I plan to take it up to five miles daily later this week, then eventually top out at a maximum of ten miles daily when I'm riding for exercise (if I'm actually wanting to go somewhere for some non-exercise reason, I'll ignore the cap).

Hopefully that way I won't work my knees into chronic pain that only ceases with "extended" time off the bike, which always turns into "indefinite" time off the bike.

My rear-rack pannier bags arrived from China yesterday. They seem to be pretty high quality for the price (~$10).

I've got a set of cheap Chinese "regular or strobe" rear lights on the way (batteries included; cheaper than buying a battery for the old one at a local meatspace store).

I'd thank the individual who bought me two spare tubes off my Amazon Wish List, but that was my son, who did it in return for me spending about the same amount of money renewing a domain that I've been holding/parking for him (and paying for) since he was a toddler.

I'm missing one wrench or socket for my in-the-saddlebag repair kit. I'm sure I've got one around somewhere, just have to find it. It's the 5/8" or metric near-equivalent for actually getting the wheels off if I need to change a tire. Since I'm not going further than a mile-and-a-half from home the next few days, I'm not too worried about that.

Saturday, June 29, 2019

A Question for @KamalaHarris

Senator Harris,

How many African-Americans did you put in prison for non-violent petty offenses (like, say, marijuana possession) as California's "tough on crime" state attorney general? You know, back in the old days before you became a presidential candidate shaking her head oh so very sadly over, and promising to do something about, police violence and systemic racial injustice?

Asking for a friend.

A Mass Transit Fail and a Specific Request for Would-Be Supporters

I am flying into Springfield, Missouri on July 28 and flying back home on July 30 (I'm going up there to visit my mother for her 86th birthday).

That actually gives me longer in town than it sounds like, because I'll be arriving in Springfield a little after 8am that Sunday morning.

I have a brother in town but he doesn't drive much lately, and he does go to church on Sundays, so I wouldn't want to get him up at oh-dark-thirty to collect me from the airport.

So I thought to myself, as long as I am at the nursing home Mom moved in to late last year by 10am or so, it's all good. She'll have had time to get up, have breakfast, etc. but won't have been waiting around all day for me to arrive.

Hey, instead of blowing $25-30 on Uber (or Lyft) to get there in 25-30 minutes, I can just hop on a city bus for $1.25, maybe plus 10 cents for a transfer and get there in an hour and 15 minutes or so!

And then I thought to myself, hey, I could even grab a couple of $3.75 "all-day" bus passes! I don't plan on going a LOT of places while I'm in town, but at least one of those places (a comedy club where I'd like to do an open mic set on that Monday evening) isn't within easy walking distance. It's worth $3.75 to have a reasonable degree of evening mobility those two nights. I'd like to visit the spot where a good friend died (as it happens, right outside the bus system's central hub) and maybe see if a nightclub I used to work at (a block or so from said spot) is still open, perhaps making it a point to walk across the spots where Wild Bill Hickock and Davis Tutt stood during their 1865 shootout en route.


Don't get me wrong. I hate government mass transit in general, and abolishing this particular bus system was part of my campaign platform when I ran for Springfield city council 22 years ago. But hey, those buses are running, and the money is being spent to run them, whether I ride them for $1.25 or take Uber (or Lyft) instead. I don't feel any more guilty about saving some money that way than I do about driving on government roads instead of getting everywhere by jet pack.


I don't know how many cities in America

  1. have public mass transit systems that
  2. don't serve their own airports
but Springfield Missouri seems to be one of them. I've contacted the transit authority there to find out, but so far as I can tell, the nearest bus stop is, well, a considerable Uber (or Lyft) ride away from the airport.

Which means I'm expecting to spend $50-$75 on Uber (or Lyft) instead of at most $5-10 on bus fare.

If anyone cares to help out with Uber (or Lyft) gift cards, I'd much appreciate it.

As it happens, only Uber has gift cards available via Amazon (they're on my wish list) and (my email address is kubby dot communications at gmail dot com). 

Lyft sells gift cards on their site, if you want to go that way instead. I don't know if they're delivered by email address or by phone (if it's that, hit the contact form for my number, which I hate giving out because I hate talking on the phone).

Thanks in advance to anyone who wants to subsidize my non-government transportation ;-)

Friday, June 28, 2019

And again, the 2020 Math

If Donald Trump keeps every last 2016 vote he got in 2020 in each state (nobody has died, nobody who voted GOP in 2016 votes Democratic in 2020, nobody who voted GOP in 2016 stays home in 2020) ...

... the Democratic presidential nominee can beat him by picking up as few as 77,747 more votes in 2020 than Clinton got in 2016, in three states (Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin) with a combined population of 28.5 million.

That's a little more than a quarter of one percent of those populations.

In 2016, voter turnout nationwide (and in Wisconsin) hit a 20-year low (in Pennsylvania, it remained at 2012 levels, in Michigan up just a hair). Republicans were energized; the turnout deficit came out of Clinton's hide.

All the Democrats have to do to win in 2020 is a better job than Hillary Clinton of enthusing a handful of Democratic-leaning voters in three states.

Could they blow that simple job? Sure. Is it likely? No.

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Quick Takes on the Second Democratic Debate

  1. As the former vice-president and the current polling front-runner, Joe Biden's big job was to shut down Bernie Sanders good and hard to clear the path ahead of himself. He didn't. On the other hand, Sanders didn't shut him down either.
  2. This was Kamala Harris's big chance to show off some redeeming persuasive quality -- gravitas, charisma, policy grasp, empathy with and apologies to the people she fed into the maw of her ambitions as a prosecutor, anything  other than a narcissistic sense of entitlement to four years at 1600 Pennsylvania as a reward for being a loyal long-time party ward-heeler while black and female. She didn't. She did, however, show some courage by going for broke, tearing into Biden in a way that eliminates any chance of second chair to Biden on the eventual Democratic ticket.
  3. Andrew Yang was never going to be the nominee, but he did a reasonably good job of selling his big issue (Universal Basic Income) to the extent that it can be sold. When that idea's time comes (and I suspect it will, although I don't support it), he'll deserve some credit for helping put it on the map.
  4. Marianne Williamson was never going to be the nominee, but if there's a casting director out there looking for someone to convincingly simultaneously reprise Gilda Radner as Baba Wawa and Marlon Brando as Colonel Walter Kurtz, her agent's phone is ringing right about now.
  5. Pete Buttigieg is another one who isn't going to be the nominee. He didn't break out, or particularly distinguish himself, but he didn't handle himself badly either. When Maddow (IIRC) threw a hardball at him about his handling of police violence in South Bend, and others piled on, he didn't fall apart and acquitted himself fairly well.
  6. No real thoughts on the other also-rans.
IMO it's still a Biden/Warren/Sanders race. Also IMO, the DNC wants a Biden/Warren ticket. These first two debates didn't really move them noticeably closer to that, but neither did the wheels come off the scheme.

It's early days.

One Technical Suggestion for the Democratic Debates

Give the moderators the ability to turn off candidate mics when they 1) go over their allotted time and won't shut the hell up and/or 2) start talking over other candidates whose turn it is.

On the other hand, I guess leaving all the mics on does serve the valuable purpose of helping us figure out which ones are least able to contain their narcissistic and/or bullying tendencies. Kamala Harris may or may not be the most frequent interrupter, but she seems to be the one who, when she does interrupt,  keeps running her yap with the most determination, until everyone else shuts up so she can throw out her trite anecdote, smirk, and wait for applause.

Justin Raimondo, 1951-2019

I would be lying if I said Justin Raimondo and I were friends. Hell, I'd be lying if I said we had even been on speaking terms recently. Severe differences of political opinion and (in retrospect trivial, but far from one-sided) work conflicts created a situation in which we probably only communicated directly three or four times in the last three or four years, and not at all comfortably.

But I'd also be lying if I said I didn't love the guy.

He co-created one of the most important political sites on the web.

He authored the first (and so far as I know, still only) book-length biography of Murray Rothbard (not an affiliate link).

He wrote stridently, trenchantly, and well on the issues he cared about (mostly foreign policy).

I only met him once in person, when he came to Washington University in St. Louis to speak against the impending US invasion of Iraq. He tore that fucking room down.

He was a badass.

I miss him already, and the antiwar movement will miss him, and remember him, for a long time.

Here's his obituary.

Is Cheap Shipping Going to Collapse?

I've been following the "shipping wars" with some interest over time.

Amazon has started doing quite a bit of its own shipping, even the "last mile" part (these days when I order something from Amazon it usually arrives in an Amazon van rather than via USPS, UPS or FedEx). They recently upped their game by giving Prime members "free" one-day, rather than two-day, shipping on a bunch of stuff. They're running their own vans. They're running their own planes. They're even building their own airports. Not to mention working on delivery by drone.

They also recently "broke up" with FedEx, which responded by offering merchants 2-day air shipping at their previous ground shipping rate. Walmart and Target are trying to compete on "free" and "quick" shipping, too.

As mentioned in a previous post, I ordered a refurbished Chromebook via Newegg (but fulfilled by another merchant) on Tuesday. It's arriving today. That Chromebook was on clearance, $50 off its regular $129 price. It's arriving today. No shipping charge added. How much is two-day shipping on an eight-pound package taking out of that merchant's hide?

At what point does getting stuff to customers in one or two days with no shipping charge added turn out to be unprofitable without very noticeable price increases on the products themselves?

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Sigh ...

I'll probably watch this stupidity tonight and tomorrow night so you don't have to.

But I don't expect to like it.

The candidates for each night were supposedly randomly chosen, but I don't believe it.

In my opinion, the DNC carefully picked the two-night lineup for the express purpose of keeping Elizabeth Warren (who appears on the first night) and Joe Biden (who appears on the second night) apart -- the idea being to let them each pummel, and possibly KO, a few of the also-rans separately, so as to begin a process of narrowing the field down to the two of them.

That doesn't mean none of the others have a chance, whether through a debate breakout or some other development. But the intention is to get it down to Biden and Warren ASAP.

Markets and Competition Produce Variety, Not Monopoly

Summary of a conversation from Facebook:

Guy: Solar, wind, etc. can never succeed because nuclear is most "efficient" in terms of "energy density" -- that is, a given volume of space used for a nuclear reactor will produce much more energy than that same volume of space used for solar panels, wind turbines, whatever. "Standard economic theory" (his words, not mine) says that the most "efficient" way of providing a good will crowd out all the others and "win."

Me: You don't understand markets.

Here's a counter-example to his claim vis a vis a different form of energy:

Planting, growing, and harvesting an acre of wheat delivers 6.4 million calories. That same acre of ground would deliver 12.3 million calories if planted in corn, 17.8 million calories if planted in potatoes. And only 2.1 million calories if planted with soybeans, 1.1 million calories if used to raise beef, 3.5 million calories if used to raise pork, 1.4 million calories if used to raise chicken. (Source: Walden Effect)

23.6 million calories if planted with 200 apple trees. (Source: LocalHarvest)

If the guy was right, we'd be eating all apples all the time, assuming energy density/efficiency was a decisive metric.

But it turns out that lots of people like wheat, corn, potatoes, soybeans, beef, pork, and chicken in addition to apples, presumably for reasons other than energy density. And they're willing to pay for those things instead of, or along with, apples. So there's demand, and where there's demand, people seeking profit will supply.

People have reasons for preferring say, solar to, say, nuclear for electrical generation as well.

One of those reasons in my case (if I ever build my own home it will be built with solar; if I buy an existing home it will be retro-fitted with solar) is efficiency of distribution rather than production. More than once, I've gone without electrical power for several days, up to a week -- many more times for as long as a day or a day-and-a-half -- because storms took down a bunch of power lines. All the efficiency of power generation in the world does me no good if the power isn't actually reach my refrigerator. If I have on-site solar, distant accidents won't cut my power.

Another reason is time preference. I'd rather spend $X now than trickle out $X over an extended time period. Hypothetically, say spending $5k on a solar set-up now, with occasional maintenance and refurbishing (say, $5.5k over 50 months), versus paying $100 a month for 50 months to a utility company (only $5k over 50 months). I'm willing to pay more to be semi-done with it and not have regularly recurring bills.

For some people, the reason is that they consider nuclear unsafe and solar "green." I can empathize with that, although I hope the newer reactor schemes will obviate such concerns. And if an affordable home reactor came on the market, I'd certainly consider that, since it would address my preferences above.

If the government nationalized utilities tomorrow, built a bunch of nuclear reactors, and gave everyone "free" electricity, there would still be some people who wanted, and were willing to pay for, home solar arrays (or, if allowed, for grid power generated using solar). And where there are people willing to pay, there are people willing to take their money.

Markets do produce "winners," but they don't produce single winners. If you don't believe me, go to your local grocery store and see how many brands of mustard, coffee, and soup are on offer, of various qualities and at various prices. Not to mention a bunch of other foods that aren't apples.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Pulled the Trigger ...

... on a new (OK, new to me) Chromebook.

Where I was:

I had a reasonably priced but also reasonably state of the art 15.6" Asus Chromebook on my Amazon Wish List. The screen on my previous Chromebook went out and it would have cost more to replace it than I deemed worth paying (may still turn that Chromebook into a "headless" desktop, since it's newer than my existing Chromebox). I've removed that item from the wish list.

Where I am:

I'm about a month out from a trip to Missouri so I need to get my traveling computer needs seen to.

Got an email this morning from Newegg. Clearance sale time! $79 for a refurbished HP Chromebook that hits my three main requirements: At least 14" screen (this one is 14"), at least 4Gb of RAM (this one has 4Gb) and an Intel rather than Arm CPU (check).

Not ideal -- I like the biggest screen I can get, and since this model is from 2015 it's unlikely it will run Android apps and certain it won't run native Linux apps -- but I hardly ever use a laptop except when traveling and I seldom travel more than a week or two of every year, so I think I can put up with a slightly less than optimal machine for a lot less money for that amount of time.

One of the triggers, obviously, was the clearance sale email from Newegg.

The other was an AMA question yesterday from Thane Eichenauer  about $79 "PC on a stick" machines. For the same price I just got a better processor, more RAM, and three times as many USB ports, not to mention a built-in screen, keyboard, and mouse.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and to remove all doubt, Streaming Media Edition

Thousands petition Netflix to cancel Amazon Prime's Good Omens

More than 20,000 Christians have signed a petition calling for the cancellation of Good Omens, the television series adapted from Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman’s 1990 fantasy novel -- unfortunately addressing their petition to Netflix when the series is made by Amazon Prime. ... [according to the petition] Good Omens is "another step to make satanism appear normal, light and acceptable," and "mocks God’s wisdom." God, they complain, is "voiced by a woman" -- Frances McDormand -- the antichrist is a "normal kid" and, most importantly, "this type of video makes light of Truth, Error, Good and Evil, and destroys the barriers of horror that society still has for the devil."

The show is actually quite fun, and in some ways thought-provoking. I've watched five of the six episodes; the finale is a planned family (minus one kid who's too cool to watch TV) sit-down tonight or tomorrow night. Here's the trailer. Remember, you won't find it on Netflix, even if you pray really, really hard:

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Springfield, Here I Come!

I'll be in Springfield, Missouri from the morning of July 28 to the morning of July 30.

The main purpose of the trip is to visit my mother for her 86th birthday, and obviously I plan to spend quite a bit of time with her out of that approximately 50 hours (I get in at 8am or so on Sunday and leave before noon on Tuesday -- call it 45 hours including transport to and from the airport and waiting in line, etc. AT the airport).

I'm also going to be relatively lightly financed unless people hit the sidebar to help out. As in, McDonald's value menu, not Olive Garden with cocktails.

All that said, I should be relatively free Sunday and Monday evening. She goes to bed early, and I don't.

If anyone's in the area and wants to grab a coffee, a beer, a comedy open mic night, etc., give me a yell!

Monday, June 17, 2019

Ah, a Referral Compensation Bump!

Yes, I'm still a Dollar Shave Club member.

Yes, I'm still loving their products, their prices, and their delivery scheme.

And right now I get $15 instead of $5 in credit for every referral I make.

So if you've been considering the possibility of getting great razor blades much cheaper than you'd get them at the store, now would be a good time for both you and me for you to act on the idea here.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Election 2020: How One Measly Dollar Could Make a Difference

I've only donated to one 2020 presidential campaign -- Mike Gravel's.

He's already missed the cut for the first Democratic presidential primary debate, but as of today he's at about 47,500 donors of the 65,000 he needs to get into the second debate.

I want to see him in that second debate not because I agree with him on everything but because I believe his voice in the debate would be disruptive, in a positive way, of the American political conversation.

Yes, Gravel's a Democrat -- a Democrat unlike the current herd of cowards.

A Democrat who helped end the draft and who read the Pentagon Papers into the congressional record.

A Democrat who's stood up in defense of Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning, and Julian Assange for years.

A Democrat who's been antiwar for more than half a century (unlike Tulsi Gabbard, who spent several years as a darling of Republican hawks before suddenly deciding that "antiwar" might be a politically profitable market niche).

Will he win the Democratic nomination? Unlikely. Will he ever be president? Even more unlikely.

But he can affect the process and the discussion, and you can help him do so with a donation of as little as one dollar.

Friday, June 14, 2019

It's That Time of Year ...

... when the weather alternates between "nearly 100 degrees" and "pouring rain."

Not the best cycling weather.

But my tires are holding air and I've got a working pump, a tool kit (the wrench on it sucks, but I have one around here somewhere), and a patch kit, so I'm taking short rides down the street to get, well, back on the bicycle. I'll start going further when I get a spare tube Real Soon Now.

On the way (from China): Rear pannier bags that are big enough for e.g. grocery shopping, ultralight camping, etc.

Still to get (hint: My Amazon wish list is linked in the sidebar): A couple of new tubes and tires; not an emergency but definitely needed soon.

I'm hoping to be back up to riding into town and back (15-20 miles) occasionally by late July (when I hope to get OUT of town for a few days to visit my mother, finances allowing).

And by the fall, logging 50 miles a week minimum. I don't plan to get back to routine 100-mile-plus weeks until next spring, if ever. Until score an electric bike, of course. Once that happens, hell, I might do the occasional hundred-mile-plus DAY for a trip to the beach, Jacksonville, wherever.

More Musings on Election 2020

In a recent post, I made three predictions:

  1. Donald Trump won't win any states in 2020 that he didn't win in 2016 (current confidence: 100%).
  2. Wisconsin goes blue in 2020 (current confidence: 99.x%).
  3. Florida goes blue in 2020 (current confidence: Higher than 50%; the X factor on that is whether or not the Republicans can mount a successful voter suppression campaign against e.g. the constitutional amendment passed by voters last year restoring former felons' voting rights).
I'm going to set the second and third predictions aside for a moment and come at it from a different angle based on the first one.

In 2016, Trump knocked down 306 electoral votes to Hillary Clinton's 232. Or, to put it a different way, Clinton came up 38 electoral votes short of victory.

Trump's absolute ceiling, according to my prediction, is 306. If he didn't win a state in 2016, he's not going to win it in 2020 either. He has nowhere to go but down in the Electoral College.

Where is a Democrat most likely to pick up electoral votes from Trump next year?

In my opinion the places to look are states where Trump won by less than 5% in 2016, and the places to look hardest are the states where he won by less than 5%  and a third party candidate or candidates polled 5% or better.


In 2016, Trump won with an energized base versus a demoralized base. His turnout was at the top of its potential; Clinton's wasn't. I expect that he will do as well or nearly as well at turning out his base this time as last time -- but that the Democrats won't do as badly at that next time as they did last time.

2016 was a very good year for third party candidates. Not because those candidates were better candidates than third party candidates usually are, but because both the "major" party candidates were so awful. "Wasted vote" PTSD from 2016 is probably going to cost third party candidates votes in 2020, and those votes are going to go disproportionately to the Democratic candidate (especially, but not only, if the Libertarians nominate a "second Republican ticket" for the fourth time in a row).

Arizona -- Trump margin of victory, 4.1%, third party total 5.1%, 11 electoral votes
Florida -- Trump margin of victory 1.3%, third party total 3.2%, 29 electoral votes
Michigan -- Trump margin of victory 0.3%, third party total 5.1%, 16 electoral votes
North Carolina -- Trump margin of victory 3.8%, third party total 2.8%, 15 electoral votes
Pennsylvania -- Trump margin of victory 1.2%, third party total 3.6%, 20 electoral votes
Wisconsin -- Trump margin of victory 1%, third party total 5.2%, 10 electoral votes

That's 101 electoral votes in play according to my theory. The 2020 Democratic nominee only needs 38 of them.

The closer and the longer I look, the more difficult Trump's path to re-election looks.

On the other hand, experience tells me that if the Democratic Party can find a way to lose an election, it will find a way to lose that election.

But at the moment, I have to add Michigan to Wisconsin as a "VERY confident Trump will not win" state. Those two and Florida come to 55 electoral votes, bringing the as-yet-unidentified Democratic nominee to 287 and victory.

No, that's not my final prediction. You'll see that in October or early November of 2020. But that's how it looks to me right now.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Domain For Sale!

I started the site Who Is Bill Weld? at for the express purpose of shedding light on Weld in the event that he sought the Libertarian Party's 2020 presidential nomination.

He decided to return to the Republican Party instead.

So I don't see the need for the site anymore and don't plan to pay to renew that domain.

It expires in a few days.

Anyone want it? I'm willing to let it go for "best offer" (including "I'll [insert something cool you'd do with it], but am unwilling to pay more than the transfer/renewal fees." Hit the contact form and let me know.

Sweetener: If you just want to maintain/improve the site as it currently exists, I'll continue hosting it and give you Wordpress access to admin it.

Oh, Spare Us The Hypocrisy

In 2015, the Washington Free Beacon hired Fusion GPS, which in turn hired Christopher Steele, to tap foreign sources for opposition research material on several Republican candidates, including Donald Trump.

In 2016, Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign hired Fusion GPS and Steele to tap foreign sources for opposition research material on Donald Trump.

Also in 2016, individuals associated with Donald Trump's campaign met with foreign sources for the purpose of tapping them for opposition research material on Hillary Clinton.

Now Trump admits that he'd do again what he did last time (something which, by the by, the Mueller report did not deem to have constituted anything illegal), and the same people whose only interest in the Steel Dossier back then was in whether the material in it was helpful to them, not in where it came from or even whether it was true, are publicly losing their damn minds.

CORRECTION, 06/14/19: The Washington Free Beacon did indeed hire Fusion GPS to do oppo research in 2015, but on further research, I find that the newspaper claims that Christopher Steele was not involved at that time, and that none of the material gathered on their behalf would have appeared in the "Steele Dossier." Sorry, I got that part wrong.

Cui Bono?/Occam's Razor -- Gulf of Oman Edition

Not every attack is a "false flag" event. Most attacks almost certainly aren't.

But they do happen. And the attacks on tankers in the Gulf of Oman last month and today seem to me pass two screening criteria for thinking there might well be "false flag" fuckery afoot.

  1. Cui Bono? That is, who benefits? The Iranian regime doesn't seem to want war with the US, Saudi Arabia, and friends. The Trump regime keeps pushing for war with Iran, then backing off. The Saudi regime might suffer temporarily in such a war, but if the US "won" the war that would likely take Iranian oil off the world market for longer than Saudi oil, and reduce Iran's influence in the region, both of which the Saudi regime wants. And the Israeli regime has a continuing interest in seeing Muslim regimes fight each other rather than gang up on it.

  2. Occam's Razor. That is, the explanation requiring the fewest assumptions is most likely to be correct. So, is there some deep, complex Iranian plan in which bringing down the military ire of the US and its allies on its own head by ineffectually attacking tankers then denying it somehow produces an as yet unknown victory condition? Or is this exactly what it looks like -- an attempt by the US and/or the Saudis and/or the Israelis to manufacture an excuse for war?

How long until we're presented with some bodies conveniently found lying outside Sender Gleiwitz in Polish Army uniforms? And will those bodies turn out to have come to Sender Gleiwitz alive from Poland or dead from Dachau?

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

I'm a Cord-Cutter ...

... so no cable, nor do I pay for any Internet sports packages, because I'm so rarely interested in sports that it just wouldn't make any sense to.

I do kind of wish I was watching the Blues pound the Bruins in game seven of the Stanley Cup final live instead of just following updates.

Just not badly enough to pay for the privilege.

Textured Vegetable Protein and the 2020 Presidential Election

Minnesota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Kentucky and Wisconsin have the largest soybean plantations in size. The states that produce the highest yields are Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska and Indiana. [Source: The Daily Records]

Trump's trade wars are socking it to soybean farmers.

In the 2016 presidential election, he won Ohio, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Wisconsin, Iowa, Nebraska, and Indiana.

He won Pennsylvania and Wisconsin pretty damn narrowly, and Iowa by not that much.

Those three states have a combined 36 electoral votes.

Winning those three states in 2016 would have put Hillary Clinton within five electoral votes of Trump.

Prediction #1: Trump won't win any states in 2020 that he didn't win in 2016.

The question is not whether he can pick up any new states. He can't.

The question is how many of (and which) states he won't win a second time.

Prediction #2: Wisconsin goes blue in 2020.
Prediction #3: Florida goes blue in 2020.

Could I be wrong? Yes. But I don't think I am. Wisconsin I am 99.x% sure on, and it will take one king-hell voter suppression effort (definitely possible!) for the GOP to hold onto Florida.

Wisconsin and Florida would get the Democratic nominee to 266 electoral votes. Pennsylvania OR Iowa (OR Michigan OR Ohio) would put that nominee over the top.

Trump seems to be doing his damnedest to drive farm states into the Democratic column. Some of them are probably just too GOP-"safe" for that to happen. But some aren't.

Why I Don't Listen to @ScottAdamsSays as Much Anymore

I still pull up his Periscope video podcast each day, and watch/listen -- until and unless he tries to put over the Charlottesville Hoax Hoax, at which point I click off.

And the last month or so, he seems to spend at least half a minute or so trying to keep the hoax going damn near every day.

At some point, I'll probably decide he's never going to drop it, and act accordingly. But I do hope that he lets it go before that, because he's otherwise occasionally interesting.

Sunday, June 09, 2019

Something I was Thinking About ...

Q: To the extent that sexual orientation is an innate characteristic rather than an action or a choice, what is there about it to be "proud" of?

Saturday, June 08, 2019

An Odd Piece of Morning Trivia

Nikita Krushchev was removed as First Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union / Chairman of the Council of Ministers in 1964 under accusations of supporting "voluntarism" and being "in contempt of the party's collective ideals."

Friday, June 07, 2019

Say it Ain't So, @JoeBiden!

On Wednesday, I wrote:

The center isn’t always the best place to be, especially in a party primary cycle. Nor, says my most cynical self, is Joe Biden especially well-known for clinging to principle over party. But in this case that’s exactly what he’s doing … and in this case he’s absolutely right.

So naturally, on Thursday, Biden turned, tucked tail, and ran.

Oh, well -- that's the danger of the news cycle. Any op-ed piece can become completely irrelevant within days, hours, or even as it's written. I'll be OK :)

Biden, on the other hand, just inflicted major damage on himself. It's one thing to throw chum in the water and get the sharks circling your boat. It's another thing entirely to strip naked and dive in after the chum when the inevitable feeding frenzy ensues.

He had a correct position.

He had a position most Americans seem to agree with.

He had a position that further distinguished him from the Democratic primary pack (who were all polling well behind him already).

He had a position that at least seemed to be a matter of long-held principle.

And he folded like a cheap tent after 48 hours of whining from the very people he was beating like red-headed step-children.

Now, to be clear, I was never going to vote for Joe Biden. I'm not a Democrat and among other deal-breakers I know (not well) and like someone who spent years in prison for putting on a concert because of Biden's evil brainchild, the RAVE Act.

But if I was a Democrat, and if I had been leaning toward Biden, I'd be looking for someone else to lean toward now. Someone with a spine, perhaps.

Thursday, June 06, 2019

The Derp is Strong with These "Officials"

Staggering homeless count stuns LA officials

The stunning increase in homelessness announced in Los Angeles this week -- up 16% over last year citywide -- was an almost incomprehensible conundrum given the nation's booming economy and the hundreds of millions of dollars that city, county and state officials have directed toward the problem.


Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, who campaigned intensively for the city initiative known as Proposition HHH that designated $1.2 billion over the next 10 years for units to house the homeless, described homelessness in an interview with CNN as "the biggest heartbreak for me and my city."

statistics showed that the better-equipped city/county homeless crisis response system helped move 21,631 people into permanent housing last year.

Hmm ...

  1. Take a city that's already attractive to the homeless for several reasons.
  2. Add (and apparently keep) a promise to spend $120 million per year putting the homeless into homes.
  3. ???
  4. Wonder why homeless people flock to that city "despite" the promise.
Yes, I know that there are many reasons for homelessness that aren't an uninterrupted straight-line conclusion from unemployment. Mental problems. Substance abuse problems. Other personal problems.

But it's silly to assume that homeless people don't act rationally based on circumstance and incentive.

If I was homeless on the west coast, I'd probably make a beeline for LA. The climate is nicer year-round than most places. There's cheap or even "free" (at the rider boarding point) mass transit. It's the second biggest metro in the US, so there are more and bigger agencies (government and private) doling out food, shelter beds, etc., and in a "booming economy" I'd expect job prospects ("legit" or otherwise) to be decent there.

Adding a promised $120 million per year in housing aid to that, however good the intention, is like pouring gasoline on an already existing fire. Of course you're going to get burnt.

Wednesday, June 05, 2019

OK, I'm Getting the Biking Bug Again ...

... and since nobody seems to racing to the ATM to charitably purchase an electric bicycle for me, it'll have to be manual labor I guess.

Dragged out my Critical Harper single-speed road bike yesterday to see what it needs to be road-worthy again. Best-case scenario: Nothing much.

It sat unattended (even after a tarp blew off it) for more than a year, but the tires have held air for more than 24 hours now. Good sign. Oiled the chain and took a spin down the street and back. No immediate problems that I can see.

I've ordered a cheap bike-mountable air pump (with gauge built in) and a cheap "all-in-one" bike tool kit (to replace the assorted tools that have become scattered for other uses since the last time I rode much). Don't know if I'll need new lights or if I've got something around the house. When it's all said and done, I may spend as much as $20 on that kind of stuff, but I'm guessing a little less.

Spare tubes are essential, and I expect new tires will be a near-future need (I've added both of those to my Amazon wish list in case someone who doesn't love me enough to spring for a $650 electric bike might love me a good deal less).

Now I just need to avoid blowing my knees out.

I think part of the problem is that when I start cycling, I kind of push myself, and within a month or two I'm riding 20+ miles per day five or six days a week. My plan this time is to ride for exercise a maximum of ten miles a day, not push it as hard, and only do more miles than that for "gotta be some place" purposes. But I expect to have to be some places :)

Old pic of the bike:

Tuesday, June 04, 2019

Thanks For Asking!, 06/04/19

Political opinions? Learned disquisitions on the up and down sides of choosing to reside in ChromeOS hell? Parenting tips? Example limericks? If you've got questions, I've got answers. This "Ask Me Anything" thread is brought to you by Free Pony Express!

Long-time readers probably have this encoded in muscle memory by now, but for the newcomers and slow learners:

  • Ask me anything (yes, anything) in the comment thread below this post; and
  • I'll answer in comments, or maybe in a stand-alone blog post, or maybe even on a podcast.

Monday, June 03, 2019

It Could be Locality-Induced Myopia ...

... but I believe several things are coming together in ways that will fundamentally change the way Americans get around.

Three of those things are ride-sharing, self-driving cars, and electric bicycles.

When I was a kid in the government schools, I remember everyone laughing at a film of those backward Chinese using their bicycles as primary transportation. Almost every American family seemed to have at least one car, probably two.

These days, I see lots of people riding bicycles to work, and not just in town but from the countryside, ten or more miles out. As electric bikes get cheaper and bike lanes get more common, I expect that trend to continue.

Could that be locality-induced myopia on my part? Gainesville is an atypical locality. Big university, lots of students, lightly left-leaning especially vis a vis things like ecology, green space, etc. Weather and distance can be a limiting factor -- less so in Florida than, say, North Dakota.

On the other hand, when I say I see people using bikes as primary transportation from out of town, I'm talking about rural white working class types with lunch-boxes and tool belts in front baskets or on rear racks. A bike is cheaper to buy than a car. It's also cheaper to operate than a car (no gas, no insurance required, etc.). And a DUI might get your license to drive a car suspended, but you don't need a license to ride a bike. Throw in ever-cheapening electrical bikes and more people who aren't necessarily in great physical shape can opt in.

Of course, there are times when a car is either necessary or very desirable. But it's probably cheaper to use Uber several times a month than it is to take on a car payment, insurance premiums, and gas costs. Especially if you live within easy walk or bike distance of your work, your usual shopping haunts, etc. Self-driving vehicles are probably going to make ride-sharing cheaper over time, too.

Am I missing some factor that militates toward the post-WW2 "two cars in every garage" paradigm continuing to prevail?

Sunday, June 02, 2019

Entertainment Event Decisions ...

Tamara and I  usually make it out to a few local music shows a year -- Jonathan Richman when he comes through, Grass is Dead when they come through, sometimes a "Food Truck Rally" with local bands at our favorite local venue (The High Dive).

We hadn't been to a "big show" in more than a decade, but as you may recall last year we made the effort to go see Bob Dylan in St. Augustine, and I resolved at that point to try to make it to a "big show" once a year.

My plan for this year was to probably see Dylan again.

But then I got more fascinated with stand-up comedy than I used to be (I've always loved it going back to Steve Martin's early albums/specials when I was in elementary and junior high school, but actually writing/performing it replaced building/playing cigar box guitars as my Obsession of the Year).

So, contingent on Tamara agreeing, I plan to see Doug Stanhope (no date/venue yet, but he's mentioned a tour probably including Florida on his podcast), or Gilbert Gottfried (playing Tampa in December), or both, and/or one or more other "big name" comedians (Bill Burr? Ron White? Joe Rogan? Luis J. Gomez? Tom Segura? Anthony Jeselnick? Maybe even Louis CK if it's possible to get tickets at all, since he sells out shows in like 37 minutes after announcing them the day before he performs?)

Of the options, Stanhope tops the list. I've met him, but I've never made it to one of his shows. And based on literally hundreds of hours of watching stand-up specials, listening to albums, etc., I don't think there's a funnier comedian alive. Or, hell, maybe even dead (yes, I love Bill Hicks; yes, I love George Carlin; yes, I appreciate Lenny Bruce, although his stuff is from far enough before my time that it's not always easy to ... well, get; but I'll put Stanhope up against any of those guys on a laugh meter and in particular the intelligent laugh meter and expect him to at least hold his own and probably win).

I've been to local comedy gigs lately, but not to a dedicated comedy club with a "name" comedian (whose name I can't even remember -- he was pretty good but never got and stayed wildly famous) since the 1990s. It's time.

Saturday, June 01, 2019

Among Things I Miss ...

Sony MDR-W08 headphones.

They were hands-down my favorites. They cost less than $10.

Then Sony discontinued them.

Now if you can find a new set, or a set in new condition, they go for ten times as much.

I've tried other vertical in-the-ear headphones, but they're 1) unimpressive and 2) more expensive than the MDR-W08s used to be.

Anyone know of a good, inexpensive vertical in-the-ear front-facing set of phones?