Scattershooting 180115

Scattershooting while wondering what happened to respect for the Constitution as it was written…

WHAT IS THE LINE BETWEEN A TORNADO and NOT A TORNADO?: In SkyPix, I don’t just exhibit photos, I discuss stories, lessons & issues behind them. Please browse this entry on a near-tornado from 2015 near Renfrow, OK. The issues here: Is it a tornado? Where’s the line between tornado and mesocyclone? What is a tornado? Not simple…sometimes the binary yes/no tornado question is too hard to answer, even for those of us who have seen numerous tornadoes over decades, and we just need to accept that. The spectrum can get very messy sometimes. It would be nice to have a mobile-radar interrogation of this, and I have been fortunate to have landed on many of the same storms as the DOW and/or OU+UMass radars the last several years (LaGrange WY, Sulphur OK, El Reno/Piedmont-2011, Dumas-2010, Bennington-13, and several more). Of course, those were no-brainer tornadoes, even the weak ones with the Dumas supercell. Having that data on this storm would have made things far less subjective; but barring that and/or sufficient damage, we’ve got what we’ve got, which is no more than what you see here — visual evidence. So we do the best we can with that, and my best call was, “not quite a tornado”. I am more than secure enough in my own skin not to let any sort of “notch in the gun” mentality infect reasoned judgment!

CLIVEN BUNDY, RUBY RIDGE and the CONSTITUTION: Both the Bundys and the Feds did wrong things that escalated all this. Regardless, the standoff happened, the Feds lied and covered up, and this dismissal of charges “with prejudice” (defendants cannot be tried for those charges again) by Judge Navarro. [This judge is an Obama nominee and Hispanic woman with no intrinsic reason to side with the Bundys, if that matters to you, and was in fact sued to be dismissed by the Bundys.] This dismissal simply was the right thing for her to do. For once, a Federal judge simply compared what happened to the Constitution and acted accordingly, despite all the reason in the world she had to do otherwise. Kudos to her. The Constitution still matters, at least in this one instance. Whether you or I agree with the Bundys’ opinions on Federal land and cattle ranching is irrelevant. That’s not the issue here. The Bundy family (and the Weaver family in the early 1990s, much as I disagree with their stance on separatism!) was and is entitled to the same Constitutional rights of due process as everybody else. Whether you like it or not, our Constitutional rights are supposed to be completely blind to sociopolitical opinion. Nowhere does the Bill of Rights say “except” or “unless”. If you think it does, prove it , in the literal, black-and-white words of the text. In fact, the Constitution is designed specifically to protect unpopular opinion. If that bothers you, suck it up and deal with it.

NFL CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIP GAMES: Amazing. One team with a starting backup QB — either Minnesota or Philadelphia — is going to the Super Bowl. It could be a Jeff Hostetler situation. Of course, if Brady is on the other side, forget I brought it up. He is the king until deposed. In the meantime, congratulations, all Vikings fans. You have put up with a lot of futility and bad breaks over the years (though I still say Drew Pearson did not push off in ’75!). I’ll be rooting for MN all the way in PHL..and not just because I can’t stand PHL!


I just got back from vacation to Hawaii (the Big Island) a week before their infamous nuclear-attack false alarm, and inexcusably long time to retract. [By contrast, in 1971, this more vague but still ominous false alarm went out, and was retracted within five minutes!] A friend who lives in Hawaii, and who is involved with their emergency weather-warning system, stated on social media: “Real kudos to our local media (broadcast and print) for swiftly getting to the bottom of things yesterday and demanding answers. Mistakes like this are never fun but the public deserves to know. I would say, though, to be cautious about putting all of your anger and blame on one single person. A root-cause analysis of these things typically reveals several things went wrong. It’s possible the software was very hastily and poorly designed in the rush to get a procedure in place. Experience tells me this will not be Hawaii’s last false alarm. It certainly wasn’t our first. We’ve had other, similar things happen over the years, unfortunately. Hawaii is a vulnerable place, the most isolated island group in the world. You NEED to be fully prepared for an emergency if you live here. When we have a disaster, and (just like in Puerto Rico) help is not going to come right away after a disaster strikes. I wish people took the hurricane and tsunami threat as seriously as they apparently take ballistic missile threats. And finally: Shame on those of you who selfishly and stupidly acted foolhardy, reckless, and put lives at risk, panicking during the false alarm.”

I can’t state it better, and agree completely. I am a parent, and have taught my now-adult children to use reason and not emotion when decision-making under stress. [Whether they choose to do so and make rational decisions, or panic and endanger people, is up to them, but they know that self-control is a choice.] Rationality vs. emotion can be the difference in living vs. dying. And as someone who has worked in a clunky and inefficient bureaucracy for decades, I stand firmly behind the notion that procedures can fail just as readily as people, and should be examined and held accountable too. If a rule/procedure/software goes bad, change the damned rule/procedure/software!

RACISM AGAINST OWN RACE: It is possible to be racist against your own kind. I see it often on social media, especially amongst self-loathing white liberals. Racism is not necessarily defined by the color of the perpetrator. From “dictionary dot com”, racism is: “A belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human racial groups determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one’s own race is superior and has the right to dominate others or that a particular racial group is inferior to the others.” That doesn’t rule out one’s own group. If you believe whites are inferior, even if you are white, you are racist. If you believe blacks are inferior, regardless of your color, you are racist. Same goes if you’re any other race. That is the end of that.

Scattershooting 171220

Scattershooting while wondering what happened to honor, courage and integrity as virtues to aspire…

The new tax bill does a few good things (such as repeal the horrid Obamacare mandate), but in sum total, is a massive waste of time and taxpayer money. Now, for me personally, it’s a wash. However, unlike most of the electorate, I don’t vote selfishly on what’s best for me, but on what’s best for the country — and I didn’t support this Rube Goldberg mess of a bill. It falls far, far, far short of true tax reform! Instead it’s a half-baked (or less) kluge that’s bad for the nation: maintains extreme complexity of tax code and returns, is not a flat tax, doesn’t fit onto a postcard, is full or pork, and worst of all, adds to horrendous looming crisis of our national debt. Yes, absolutely and without reservation, I am letting the (nearly) perfect be the enemy of the good. Damn right I am, especially since this isn’t very good at all. I actually have a backbone, and ideals. Too bad our RINOs and faux-libertarians in Congress don’t. Forget the boring, old, hackneyed, outdated, repetitive, “steals from poor to give to wealthy” liberal company line. Go grow up and come up with something interesting and original for once, leftist parrots. You’re even more out-of-touch than the RINOs are.

ALABAMA SENATE RACE and ANTIQUATED TWO-PARTY SYSTEM: If I lived in Alabama I would have abstained or written in a third party option for their Senate election to fill a two-year end-of-term. What a wretched choice they had between a creep (and possible criminal) vs. an endorser of infanticide of the unborn and other destructive leftist policy. This (aside from complex tax-code bullcrap noted above) is what the horrendously outdated and Constitutionally unjustifiable two-party system yields — a choice of bad choices. It’s much akin to last November nationwide, when voters largely chose between an imbecilic and immoral faux-conservative buffoon on one side, and a corrupt, cutthroat, immoral neoliberal criminal on the other.

A RECENT EXPERIENCE with HOME AWAY CUSTOMER SERVICE: In trying to get overdue information to access a vacation rental, I called customer service for HomeAway, a major company (owned by Expedia) dealing in that sort of thing. My interaction is summarized by the survey results I filled out after completing the third call. The survey questions were worded as if there only were one call, but I had to make three. This is but a sympton of a larger problem with outsourcing and hiring. See this screen capture of my response. Has political correctness gone so far that supposedly English-speaking “customer service” outlets feel they must hire people who are essentially incomprehensible?

CHINESE OPPRESSION/TORTURE of ITS OWN — AND NOTHING BEING DONE ABOUT IT: Communist red China is setting the horrid example for other nations to follow in using the domestic-spying technological surveillance state (increasingly including artificial intelligence, AI) as a tool of Orwellian mass authoritarian oppression: elimination of privacy, overt and passive-aggressive censorship, blackmail, torture, imprisonment without trial, and killing, on massive scales, especially of ethnic/religious minorities and any in the 91.5% Han majority who dare challenge authority. Yes, nearly every nation has done this since to some extent since 1950…regardless, scale matters. And as surveillance cameras and AI become more common worldwide, more shall follow. Meanwhile the U.S. and other nations are passively ignoring and sticking heads in sand, as China terrorizes its own people in this manner. Why? For one, don’t think for a minute the domestic deep state — NSA, CIA and FBI power-that-be — and their counterparts elsewhere in Five Eyes, as well as Russia and especially Islamic nations, aren’t envious of this ability to technologically control and manipulate the people. For two, money talks. As of June, China held $1.15 trillion of U.S. debt, plenty enough to demolish the economy, easily, at the whim of instantly calling in said debt — in effect, unspoken blackmail of one nation over another. And we have sat idly by and let them do so…

JERUSALEM IS THE RIGHTFUL CAPITAL of JUDEA (ISRAEL)!: Where two sovereign nations agree to put an embassy is nobody else’s business. The U.N. needs to STFU and butt out. The courageous and correct resolution veto sends exactly that message. This veto is absolutely warranted. Every other Council nation is wrong on this. Jerusalem is the rightful capital of the Jewish people, and of Judea/Israel, and has been for thousands of years. I stand by Israel firmly, unequivocally and without apology. This is nonpartisan! Readers of this BLOG know I have been a huge critic of Trump in many ways, but when his administration does do something right, I will support that. Finally obeying the law passed by a bipartisan Congress, and signed in 1992, is simply the right thing to do. Nikki Haley is spot on in her words here, as was Edmund Muskie of the Carter Administration in 1980 under similar circumstances. More details in this link

END of BLOG YEAR: This is my last entry for 2017, much to the relief of leftists and freedom-haters (redundant terms, I realize) everywhere. Regardless, I love even my left-wing friends…it just sometimes has to be tough love. For all: Have a joyous and blessed Christmas and new year!

Bernie Sanders Fans: How to Overcome Socioeconomic Ignorance

Bernie Sanders lost in a rigged and patently unfair primary process over a year ago to the neoliberal establishment candidate and paid Goldman Sachs shill, Hillary Clinton. I get that. I agree with that. However, it’s time to grow up and lose the notion that what he had to say substantively was worth the electrons used to broadcast it to your screen.

Bernie-lemming “democratic socialists”: what is your major malfunction? Your very slogan — democratic socialism — is a self-contradictory, oxymoronic, and just plain moronic load of bull cookies.

Equality and fairness are not synonyms! We may be loved equally in God’s eyes, but God did not give us equal genetics, sizes, shapes, interests, intellects, or talents. No matter how hard I try, I cannot play basketball like MJ. MJ was not constructed to lift weights like Arnold Schwarzenegger. Arnold could never be the kind of scientist his fellow German-speaker Einstein was. Einstein wasn’t able to be on Mozart’s musical level…and so forth.

We each, individually, have different individual abilities, purposes and motivations. That’s true diversity! We are not made to benefit equally from economic outcomes, and therefore, we should not.

Socialism innately dissuades both diversity and productive quality. When you force equal outcomes across unequal individuals, by whatever sociopolitical means, you disincentivize productivity because (please read carefully!) human nature is fundamentally both selfish and survivalist. That’s just the cold, brutally honest truth, and you are not going to change that. People want reward for work, and consistent with human nature, that means money to buy what they both need and want. Having things provided for people “for free’ (at someone else’s expense, naturally) only incentivizes dependency. Dependency, in turn, yields sloth.

It’s not your job to decide what someone else should or should not possess — despite the patronizing attitudes of white liberals toward minority “needs”, and despite the fundamental arrogance of the socialist myth that the rich man’s money belongs to others who haven’t earned it. Yes, humans at all levels of the ladder are fundamentally selfish, economically. Anecdotal exceptions of altruism aside, people by in large demand tangible incentive (capital) to produce, to create, to innovate.

Less innovation, less incentive, less progress, less efficiency, slower gains, and loss of personal freedom…is this what you want, you fools? Because if you entrust centralized, federal Big Bureaucracy to mechanisms now done by for-profit business (however imperfect they are now), they will become more imperfect, more inefficient, with bigger overhead, less creative, slower, and more wasteful. Such is the historical, inherent, unavoidable, and inevitable nature of distant and detached central bureaus. If you do not believe this, then for once, study history. Or if in government, join a federal employees’ union, like I have — ironically, being a union member has shown me more than I ever could read in a textbook about the ineptitude, nefariousness and oppressiveness of upper management in a governmental bureaucracy!

There’s a lot more to this than I can give you here, and you need to do most of the lifting and learning yourself. For starters, though, look up and read and watch the related material from two highly regarded economists: late, Nobel-prizewinning economics professor Milton Friedman, and the Jim Crow-era North Carolina/Harlem-raised black economist and writer, Thomas Sowell.

Their expertise and credentials in these issues are much greater than yours, and you need to learn from them. And after doing so, don’t come back to me with the ridiculous and baseless arguments akin to, “That was then, this is now, we are better.” No provable basis exists for that argument. It is a logical and rhetorical recency fallacy, a head-in-sand mentality that ignores precedent and reality, in favor of a nonexistent Utopian dreamland full of unicorns crapping Skittles.

Consider health care and public policy…Bernie vs. Friedman:

And more general discussion on the end game of socialism itself:

In fact, in the last 100 years, the great majority of the tangible economic and efficiency gains in modern society are the result of capitalistic business. Yes, here in the U.S., government research developed many great ideas (lots of basic science and tech research), along with some horrible ones (nuclear war and forms of eugenics) that get ignored by pro-bureaucracy socialists. Private enterprise also developed others (such as Texas Instruments with the transistor…look where that has gone!). But only capitalistic business and its incentive to profit and make jobs took them from the ivory towers and flourescent-lit labs, made them real and mass-producible and tangible and workable, and put them into your hands. Never, ever, ever forget that.

      “Underlying most arguments against the free market is a lack of belief in freedom itself.”

      “Social injustices are clearly greatest where you have central control.”

      “Most of the energy of political work is devoted to correcting the effects of mismanagement of government.”

      “If you put the federal government in charge of the Sahara Desert, in 5 years there’d be a shortage of sand.”

Milton Friedman

      “It is hard to imagine a more stupid or more dangerous way of making decisions than by putting those decisions in the hands of people who pay no price for being wrong.”

      “Socialism sounds great. It has always sounded great. And it will probably always continue to sound great. It is only when you go beyond rhetoric, and start looking at hard facts, that socialism turns out to be a big disappointment, if not a disaster.”

      “I have never understood why it is ‘greed’ to want to keep the money you have earned but not greed to want to take somebody else’s money.”

      “When Senator Sanders cries, ‘The system is rigged!’ no one asks, ‘Just what specifically does that mean?’ or ‘What facts do you have to back that up?’ In 2015, the 400 richest people in the world had net losses of $19 billion. If they had rigged the system, surely they could have rigged it better than that.”

      “The next time some academics tell you how important diversity is, ask how many Republicans there are in their sociology department.”

Thomas Sowell

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