Briar Patch Research
I am Richard J. ("Rick") DeLotto, MBA, knowledge wrangler, meme rancher, ignorance manager, Cassandrist, Former Gartner Analyst and aspiring metal bender... currently wandering around unattended exercising my curiosity. This is almost indistinguishable from being retired.
May 30, 2020: Day 93, not that I am counting or anything.
This is Day 93, or thereabouts, of social distancing… I think I might miss it when it is gone.
Pretty much up to date with investment research at the macrotrend level and sticking with my allocations. We are sneaking back in on some stuff but are highly pessimistic—not about the economy or market, but with our ability to understand or even analyze it effectively right now. The solid ideas we have are harder to act on than we like… but whole goal is to make and keep money, not be 100% right.
That said-- there are some situations that are spinning out of control, and it is entirely too easy to get distracted. I have spent far to much time reading bad analyses and overly excited assessment of flawed data and wonky models. When in doubt--- look around you. What are you seeing?
Spent a bunch of time playing with some new genealogy tools, reading papers, and admitting that there was no new material relating to my particular “brick walls.” Right now I am mostly improving the grammar and illustrations in the matriline history I am writing. I am amazed how the editors and graphics guys at My Final Employer made me look good... OK, better.
So far I have completely caught up on my “professional” reading, and gone through entirely too much old, “bad” Science Fiction and fantasy. Many thanks to the algorithm at Amazon that decided to remind me of the “Thieves’ World” and ‘Garret PI” fluff, and price them so cheaply I could blithely wade through them.
Recent unFluffy Reads:
Disunited Nations by Peter Zeihan seems to be roughly predictive, but on a substantially accelerated timeline. The author is highly active on YouTube and has a free newsletter. He remains solid in his projections that Badness Things will be happening, mostly to everywhere but the US.
The Storm Before the Calm by George Friedman… similar but focused on the US. This one triggered me to do some ongoing digging on “historical cycles” and have late-night thoughts about the Great Awakenings. More later on that…maybe. I am deeply skeptical on "wave theory" as applied to history. His views on the world-wide "revolt against the technocrats" bears close attention.
The Populist Explosion by John Judis, Everyman a King by Chris Stirewalt, and Days of Rage, by Bryan Bourroughs, for background. These seem to tie in pretty well with Zeihan and Friedman, though are unconnected in any way.
Rereads (this time I took notes)
American Nations by Colin Woodard, because it is an election year.
Out of the Mountains by David Kilcullen… second time through, to refresh my memory. Pointed me towards some early stuff on coastal megacities. This was driven by reading Judis, Stirewalt and Bourroughs.
The Revenge of Geography by Robert Kaplan, same deal.
Not Read yet…
The Pursuit of the Pankera, by Robert Heinlein… I am hoarding this.
Mamelukes by Jerry Pournelle. Due out in June… another series that has been decades in hiatus.
Union, by Colin Woodard—also a June release.
Oh... many thanks to the Durham County Library for their online books program, which brought me The Doomsday Machine by Daniel Ellsberg and City of Fortune by Roger Crowley.
Many Big Things are moving right now, and patient alertness is the best approach.
April 14, 2020: Mild Crankiness after Seven Weeks of Otherwise Healthy Self-Isolation...
What are YOU doing to prepare for coming OUT of Xi’s Pandemic and emerging from its associated Great Recession? Doing any on-line skills upgrades? Building your knowledge base? Is your email networking or whining? Even self-pity gets boring after a while and it is time to start acting like Grownups again...
Everything ends, including pandemics. While I have no special insights, it is silly NOT to assume that long-term trends will largely remain in place. When in doubt, bet on inertia; trends will bend, but not break.
I highly recommend works by Peter Zeihan, The Accidental Superpower, The Absent Superpower and his new, right-on-point Disunited Nations. Many of his presentations and interviews are available for FREE on YouTube. See Also George Friedman's newest: The Storm Before the Calm. Both authors have free newsletters as well.
Also--- try not to be so Unprepared next time, maybe? Start a list of things you wish you had done before this Mess started, and an Action Plan for remediation. My first hint that something was UP was when n95 masks were "gone" the first week in January... (I would like to say I was pandemic-prescient, but I needed to restock for craft projects...)
March 8, 2020: Very Little Changes Over Time...
As almost always these days, this is a rewrite of previous work.
Back in 2008 I was heavily involved in researching the potential impact of an influenza pandemic, first on information technology in financial services, later as part of a team considering pandemic impacts on businesses in general. I did some previous research in 2002 on SARS that we all sort of lost interest in as it failed to spread much—for many reasons-- in my US-centric customer base. Other issues came up and we moved on.
In 2008 FEMA believed H1N1 “Swine ‘Flu” would have multiple, unevenly distributed waves of infection, with possibly 90 million US infections. They thought infection rates would be 20% for adults and 40% for children, with perhaps 2 million US deaths. Projections indicated over 70% of enterprises moderate-severely disrupted experiencing 40% absenteeism for as long as eight weeks. Some organizations were expected to experience +95% absentee rates.
The very best epidemiologists in the world missed their projections, thankfully. That H1N1 ‘flu was milder, though more infectious, than expected, and impacted different demographics. This was good, since the vaccines—and continuity of operations plans, were deficient.
The CDC reissued its Planning Assumptions for an Influenza Pandemic in 2017. (cdc.gov/flu/pandemic-resources/national-strategy/index.html) They projected that any forthcoming ‘flu would have
They provided no estimates on mortality and risk groups. NOTHING was mentioned on a possible novel coronavirus outbreak.
I am not going to go into what we recommended to our clients who paid a LOT for the research. I will note, though, that response plans were optimistic. Damned few firms were willing to contemplate high death rates. Very few individuals or families made and maintained any home-centric disaster preparedness of any kind.
After a while, I wasn’t with That Wonderful Firm anymore, but I kept up on continuity issues in general. You might want to keep these observations in mind--- emergency events seem to indicate We Were Right, and maybe a bit optimistic:
Expect quarantines. This will disrupt repair, and critically, food supplies. Your town most likely has less than 4 days supply of food available. EVERYONE will panic after their kids miss their third meal. ATM machines will empty quickly, as EVERYONE tries to make sure they have cash on hand. Gas pumps will dry up very fast too. The impact on pharmacy supplies will be profound.
Expect incomplete, conflicting and rapidly-changing information on conditions. This has been the case in Every Single Disaster and large-scale emergency since I started covering such things in 2001. The American news media cannot generally handle non-photocentric events involving science and numbers. Expect bogus vaccines and cures to be peddled.
Expect that you will be on your own. Civic services are likely to break down early. EVERYONE is going to try to hit their doctor, urgent care, or local hospital at roughly the same time. Ambulances, EMT and rescue teams will be maxed-out -so will funeral homes. Police resources will be stretched to the breaking point very early. Your National Guard will probably be federalized out of your governor’s hands quite early. It is not unreasonable to expect a steep curtailment in civil services (latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-2010-sep-29-la-heb-pandemic-workers-20100929-story.html). Expect a sharp uptick in crimes of opportunity-- especially "resource grabs."
Expect a crowded house. Many schools, adult-care, and businesses, have a quiet “close on suspicion” policy—even a rumor of a serious flu outbreak might end up with you being home with both your kids and elderly adults. EVERYONE will log on at once, so don’t expect to work from home. Horrifically, cable may go down, or have loading issues.
Expect anything that breaks to be unavailable for the duration of the event. If you lose cable TV, the internet, power or water, it might be a longish time before it comes back. Repair services are kept small since most utilities rely on support from firms not impacted by the “disaster”. EVERYONE will be affected by an epidemic or pandemic.
Remember “Be Prepared”? This is why…
January 13, 2020: Oops...
My idea for the State of the Union Address... DJT sends a handwritten, single-page note to Congress saying something like "Things are fine: Despite your attempts to remove me, America is great again. Gridlock is a feature, NOT a bug. I request that you Build the Wall, Starve the Beast and Drain the Swamp."
Yes, this meets the Requirements of Article II, Section 3, Clause 1.
November 3, 2019: The last time I looked up it was still mid-October...
Discussing “emerging change drivers” a few days back and had some left-over thoughts. What happens if you no longer need a new car, personal electronics, shingles for your roof, or appliances? What if your clothing never wears out?
I think we are already facing an unsuspected economic driver: technology that never (or at least rarely) breaks or wears out. Instead, it enters a prolonged period of obsolescence, or just “becomes unfashionable.” This is largely due to improved material inputs, better designs, and a routinely encountered level of quality control that would have been unthinkable, maybe undoable, through the 1980s. One of the key uses of “big data” and machine-learning (that actually work as advertised) are systems that monitor capital equipment, predict problems and prescribe preventative maintenance, all of which drastically extend usability.
Radically stretching-out the replacement cycle for capital and personal equipment is going to have massive impacts on manufacturing and even resources extraction industries. Distribution industries shrivel.
• This is immediately noticeable in personal computing devices and cell-phones, which seem to have effectively plateaued from a performance perspective. It has been a long while (in “technology years”) since there was any user-perceptible improvement in computing. At one point my final employer had a “performance lab” testing the major corporate-grade PCs… some of the basic tests were how many times could it be turned on and off without breaking, and how long could it operate without being turned off. There was a running complaint that “laptops were born looking for a place to die.” By 2005 laptops were routinely rotated out of the field and into offices (or donated to charities) when they were no longer “advanced enough” to make our client-facing staff look up to date. They were clearly a fashion item by 2010. Cell phones were worse… purely a fashion item from Day 2. There have been few “Substantive net improvements” since 2011. Tablets now seem to last forever with any degree of care… and again there have been no “substantive net improvements” since 2015.
• Some writers have already pointed out that many vehicles can now run “almost forever” with limited maintenance: personal automobiles used to be worn-out by 50,000 miles: this is half the distance to the first major service point on my current vehicle. Commercial trucks now routinely last over 5,000,000 miles. We used to have to have our cars “oiled and lubed” every 3,000 miles… and you were lucky to get 20,000 miles on your tires: 50.000 is now not uncommon. Even the smallest towns usually had to have multiple service points for vehicles—these jobs are permanently lost.
• Comfortable “permanent” clothing is now possible, with engineered materials and improved polyesters. There was just an IPO for a retail chain selling “gently used” high-ticket fashion clothing. “Clothing subscriptions”, where you essentially rent clothing for a month or so, are out there too. Purses and jewelry can be easily rented.
• Ummm… B52s? Much military equipment world-wide is on its third or fourth owner, as cheap and efficient upgrades are readily available and pretty much do a fine job in oppressing more lightly-armed civilians.
Refurbishment and repair might be a bright spot for some product categories. Many common products are now “NUSPI”, with “no user serviceable parts inside”, with manufacturers trying (and often meeting legal challenges for) requiring service to be done at their facilities (at inflated prices) to keep warranties in operation. “Right to repair” by owners is a growing legal issue in capital equipment circles.
These “technology improvements” are low-hanging fruit that destroy jobs forever, and will drive massive economic change.
September 12, 2019: The Republican Party is not falling apart any more than usual.
I have been hearing a lot of noise and getting mail that the “Republicans are falling apart”, pointing to Anthony Scaramucci’s recent reversal of opinion on Trump. Let me say right up front that everyone is entitled to an opinion... and by volunteering to help Trump in a position AM has done more for the party and country than I ever have.
While I do not know the man, Scaramucci seems, from what I have seen and read ...fairly typical of the state-level GOP in NY and New England I remember up until about the 1980s.
I am from the area and it reminds me of the bickering I heard among the “Lace Curtain” Irish and Italian families I knew as I was growing up. Some folks called it “the progressive wing”… but while it seemed a whole lot more culturally open than other factions, it just as fiscally conservative (in a Big State way) as the Establishment wing, just as willing to “project force” on other countries, and equally delighted to ship jobs overseas to add a few percent to the bottom line. In a lot of ways, they resembled the neoConservatives, former “Warhawk Democrats” who wandered over during the Reagan years, but without the nice suits and suntans.
To guys like that… Trump betrayed them by putting a coalition together that included non-interventionist economic isolationists (“America Firsters”), Christian Conservatives, the libertarian wing (“Paulistas” now) and midwestern “Main Streeters”. These were most emphatically NOT “People Like Us”. Trump beat 16 other candidates, several from each faction, in the last Republican Party primary. The paleoCons (Pat Buchanan-ish) neoConservatives, Fiscal Conservatives (Tea Parties people like Cruz) Big Business Conservatives (Carly Fiorina) and Establishment/ Atlanticist (Bush, etc) factions lost hard and their power/prestige was greatly reduced.
To former insiders and Big Funders, and maybe certain media firms… he broke The Rules. Worse, he did not give them a piece of the pie. Though many of their envoys and figureheads got positions in the Trump Administration… they were soon gone. He is outside of their control and they have no clue how to handle the situation.
While the 2020 election is far from certain, I think a successful internal challenge is unlikely. Right now Trump seems to have about a 90% approval rating inside the party, right about Reagan levels. People forget how low Reagan and the Bush's ratings dropped at times.
Trump’s coalition, at the grass-roots level, actually had elements of the old Reagan Wave, dragging in the (old) trade union members, but NOT their leadership. Trump has pulled in a lot of Blacks and Hispanics too— far more than previous Republicans. I think I am personally seeing a lot more local support than I would have anticipated in an area rather over-endowed with universities and high-technology firms… firmly liberal/progressive in voting… state-level as well (outside of core-urban districts). I would expect very little support from the “Swamp” DJT is trying to drain.
With the exception of Nate Silver at 538 (whose work on both Republican and Democrat internal groups is detailed, precise, and likely to be right), pundits seem to forget that political parties in the US are coalitions of stakeholder factions with only moderately overlapping opinions and interests that vary depending on geography and level of concern (local, state or federal)… ideology is in there somewhere, but a local fiscal conservative can be very different from one at the federal level.
As far as I can tell at this time, we are just seeing the usual internal bickering from the losing players in an internal fracas.
September 10, 2019: Where did it go?
I would have bet my entire allowance that I wrote and posted another "Rant at the Commissioner of Baseball" back in mid August. I have no clue where it ended up but it, or something else, will be up shortly.
July 6, 2019: More on the Census "Citizenship Question"... again.
There has been lots of talk by the Former Slaveowners’ Party recently about how Evil Republicans are trying to Mess With The Census, Dominate Elections and Destroy America's Future by asking citizenship-related questions on the next Census. Several Attorneys General have promised to sue the Federal Government over the issue. The Supreme Court was not satisfied with the research and said, essentially, try again. You need to know, though, that the data is still being collected for mandatory federal reporting.
2010—The Citizenship question was moved to the American Community Census, that will hit everyone about every 5 years. It asked Where was this person born? Is this person a citizen of the United States? Is this person a citizen of the United States?
2019: The Current American Community Survey asks “about place of birth, citizenship, and year of entry to provide statistics about citizens and the foreign-born population.”
Census states: “Examples of Federal Uses ·
So, based on the question being moved to a different, though still mandatory Census Questionnaire, THE CITIZENSHIP QUESTION IS GOING TO BE ASKED AND ANSWERED TWICE AS OFTEN AS BEFORE.
BACKGROUND: For the record, EVERY SINGLE US Census in the 20th Century except 1960 asked directly, under penalty of perjury, about Citizenship.
ALL demanded place of birth, PARENTS' place of birth and languages spoken. Most asked about "ancestry" or ethnicity. Interesting, many of the surveys asked if the respondent was an idiot or insane, questions that should be considered for re-instatement. Place of birth, from which some estimate of citizenship can be derived, has been asked, in some form, since the seventh decennial census in 1850.
The Question was asked DIRECTLY 1850-1950, 1960-2000.
1790 – Not asked.
1820—They asked for “foreigners not naturalized”.
1830— They asked for “ALIENS—Foreigners not naturalized”
1850—“Place of birth”
1860- “Place of birth”
1870—“Place of Birth”
1880—“Place of Birth” for respondent AND their parents.
1890—Place of birth of respondent and parents the number of years they have been in the US, and if they are naturalized or seeking naturalization.
1900— Under the Nativity header Place of birth of respondent and parents. Under the Citizenship header they asked the year of immigration to the US, number of years in the US and naturalization date.
1910—Under the Nativity header they asked Place of birth of respondent and parents. Under the Citizenship header they asked Year of immigration and whether naturalized or Alien.
1920—Under the Nativity and Language Header they asked Place of birth of respondent and parents and their mother tongue. Under the Citizenship header they asked year of immigration to the US, Naturalized or alien, and year of naturalization.
1930—place of birth and native language of the respondent and their parents. Under the Citizenship Header the year of immigration to the Us and “naturalized or alien”.
1940—The Population Questionnaire asked: Place of birth and native language of respondent and parents. Under a citizenship Header citizenship of the foreign born.
1950—The Population Questionnaire asked: "What state was he born in? If Foreign-born is he naturalized?”
1960—The Combined Questionnaire asked place of birth, native language if foreign-born, parent’s birth countries.
1970—The Population Questionnaire asked Where the person was born, and details on whether they were Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Central or South American, or Other Spanish; parent’s place of birth, What language, other than English, was spoken in the person's home as a child, immigration status and year.
1980—A SAMPLE was asked In what state or foreign country was the person born, and if foreign born, their year of immigration and naturalization status.
1990-- A SAMPLE was asked: In what state or foreign country was the person born, and if foreign born, their year of immigration and naturalization status.
2000- Everyone was asked: What state or country was this person from? Is this person a citizen of the United States? If the person was not born in the United States, when did he come to live in the United States?
2010—The question was moved to the American Community Census, that will hit everyone about every 5 years. It asked Where was this person born? Is this person a citizen of the United States? Is this person a citizen of the United States?
2019: The Current American Community Survey asks “about place of birth, citizenship, and year of entry to provide statistics about citizens and the foreign-born population.” Census states:
“Examples of Federal Uses ·
So, based on the question being moved to a different, though still mandatory Census Questionnaire, THE CITIZENSHIP QUESTION IS GOING TO BE ASKED AND ANSWERED TWICE AS OFTEN AS BEFORE.
June 18, 2019: A Gentle Reminder.
OK, Gentle Reminder Time again. When the Talking Head is screaming about Significant New Poll Results:
National polls with sample sizes under 5000 are not generally indicative of anything other than how desperate the media editors are for fresh copy.
Oh... see if you can find out who paid for the poll.
I had several experiences last cycle of political pollsters calling me and hanging up when I answered a question the "wrong way". I sincerely doubt that ethics have improved much.
April 3, 2019: Are Democrats test-marketing on Quora?
OK, I waste far too much time on Quora... but I have concluded there is a badly programmed AI using Quora to market test Democrat 2020 campaign slogans and marketing strategy variations.
Almost identical question are being posted almost simultaneously on:
Just saw a new theme developing on Term Limits... I guess someone is concerned about the Calls for an Article Five Convention.
These posts are different from those of the still-very-visible Troll Farms... you can see multiple levels of "inflammatory verbiage"("Mild, Hot and Incendiary" leap to mind) and twists on the concept all posted at the same time on the same forum, and retested on different forums.
I am fairly certain that the same thing is going on over on Twitter, but I keep getting distracted by the newsfeeds I subscribe to over there.
March 23, 2019: Thoughts on Americans and Firearms.
Sorry to be away for so long, I have been wasting my time snarking at Wrongwingers over on Quora. The most common question I see these days is some variation on "Why do so many people in the USA have guns?" This is a summary of my responses.
American’s right to keep and bear arms PREDATES the founding of the United States, and is rooted in cultural and political opinions dating to Saxon times. Firearms ownership and proficiency was legally required for all males from age 15 to 55 from the earliest settlements through at least 1862 when large numbers of poor immigrants and freed slaves were “recruited” into state militias… this pretty much ended the free militias, though the tradition remains in place— one of our Framers said “the Militia is the Whole of the People” and the both the right and RESPONSIBILITY to keep and bear arms remains a core belief for a majority of citizens.
Keep in mind that the true role of the militia is to protect citizens against Governments gone bad”. Militia companies were self-funding, and elected their own officers uncontroled by politicians. Many of the Founders and Framers had ancestors who had fought in the English Civil War (on either side), or had fled religious persecution in England, and had NO interest in letting any government gaining tyrannical power over them under any circumstances.
Firearms ownership was specifically required for all citizens by the Second Militia Act of 1792. All citizens were required to have the panoply and skills of an infantryman.
"Section 1. Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That each and every free able-bodied white male citizen of the respective states, resident therein, who is or shall be of the age of eighteen years, and under the age of forty-five years (except as is herein after excepted) shall severally and respectively be enrolled in the militia by the captain or commanding officer of the company, within whose bounds such citizen shall reside, and that within twelve months after the passing of this act. And it shall at all times hereafter be the duty of every such captain or commanding officer of a company to enrol every such citizen, as aforesaid, and also those who shall, from time to time, arrive at the age of eighteen years, or being of the age of eighteen years and under the age of forty-five years (except as before excepted) shall come to reside within his bounds; and shall without delay notify such citizen of the said enrolment, by a proper non-commissioned officer of the company, by whom such notice may be proved. That every citizen so enrolled and notified, shall, within six months thereafter, provide himself with a good musket or firelock,a sufficient bayonet and belt, two spare flints, and a knapsack, a pouch with a box therein to contain not less than twenty-four cartridges, suited to the bore of his musket or firelock, each cartridge to contain a proper quantity of powder and ball: or with a good rifle, knapsack, shot-pouch and powder-horn, twenty balls suited to the bore of his rifle, and a quarter of a pound of powder; and shall appear, so armed, accoutred and provided, when called out to exercise, or into service, except, that when called out on company days to exercise only, he may appear without a knapsack. That the commissioned officers shall severally be armed with a sword or hanger and espontoon, and that from and after five years from the passing of this act, all muskets for arming the militia as herein required, shall be of bores sufficient for balls of the eighteenth part of a pound. And every citizen so enrolled, and providing himself with the arms, ammunition and accoutrements required as aforesaid, shall hold the same exempted from all suits, distresses, executions or sales, for debt or for the payment of taxes."
How many firearms do we have? In the US, NCIS reports show that over 350,000,000 firearms were purchased from licensed dealers between 1999 and 2018... my guess is that there are easily an additional DOUBLE (meaning 4 times) of that in people's closets (possibly far more), since firearms are permanent and cumulative. My friends have and shoot “inherited” firearms that are a century old. Making firearms from raw materials is possible in any workshop with only moderate skills. There are, literally, trillions of rounds of ammunition in storage; reloading is a common practice.
A 2017 Pew Research Survey (“America’s Complex Relationship With Guns”) indicated that, overall, 42% of adults willing to ADMIT to strangers that they are living in “gun-owning households.” The best guesstimate I have seen indicates that 65% of US households “have access to firearms”.
Firearms ownership and skills are an integral part of the unique American culture.
January 26, 2019: My idea for the State of the Union Address
My idea for the State of the Union Address... DJT sends a handwritten, single-page note to Congress saying something like "Things are fine: America is great again. Gridlock is a feature, NOT a bug. I request that you Build the Wall, Starve the Beast and Drain the Swamp."
Yes, this meets the Requirements of Article II, Section 3, Clause 1.
December 16, 2018: Clue-free, but with Republished Guesswork.
I freely admit I am in hiding right now, mostly scanning news and analysis in search of Clue. I have written and discarded multiple potential blog entries this month. Last month too, for that matter. Like many, I have been watch events in both the US and EU with morbid fascination. I am not in the least comfortable in calling these “revolts” populist, as I see them rather as a generic, non-coordinated anti-Elite movement which actually includes members of various non-ruling elites.
OPINION: No 2019-2020 political, economic or investing projection that does NOT consider the impact of world-wide "populist revolts" should be relied on. My best guess is that we are seeing a neoJacksonian Upwelling in many Western nations, and that this revolt will both spread and intensify.
Jacksonianism was first described in 1999 by Walter Russell Mead in "The Jacksonian Tradition", an article published in The National Interest. I strongly urge all to read this, plus his award-winning expansion of the theme in Special Providence: American Foreign Policy and How it Changed the World. Mead's article on Hudson.org, "The Jacksonian Revolt" is equally enlightening. In many ways neoJacksonianism is what happens when the Jacksonian outlook escapes the normal, elite-dominated communication channels and encounters social media.
I have taken the liberty of resurrecting some blog entries from 2010 where I address neoJacksonianism and make some guesses.If you are interested in my earlier predictions, please look over to the left hand side of this page for a "neoJacksonism" tab.
October 7, 2018: Idle thoughts on an Autumnal evening.
..and we now sit and wait for Democrats to fabricate their next potential Fort Sumter moment. Wait for it... expect it and FIGHT it.
The 2018 Mid-term Elections may be a turning point, regardless of which party wins or loses control. Cultural traditions of political civility have just evaporated.
Right now I just do not trust any of the polls or analyses that I am seeing—and I note that I am seeing far fewer of them than I expect to see by this point in the election cycle. I would really like to think that News Is Being Suppressed but… honestly, I suspect that the already limited news budgets were spent on other more pressing (at the moment) things (stories about Fluffy Kittens and sports do not come cheap). Polls with fewer than 500 respondents are... insulting. They should at least pretend to care about being accurate predictors.
I am not seeing many campaign commercials either which is …odd. There is the strong possibility that my local market just does not have anything the parties see as worth spending money on this cycle.
You KNOW how to do this—
Speak the Truth and fear no one. We are well past the time when "worrying about losing friends" is an option.
September 21, 2018: Some thoughts on Ethnicity Testing.
There is a lot of conversation and confusion on the various “genetic genealogy” Facebook pages I frequent, and much consumer unhappiness. In far to many cases people are asking “what do these results MEAN? I am being shown as a different ethnicity than I KNOW I am.”
One of the key problems that people are having, as far as I can tell, is that they Just Were Not Listening in History or Geography Class. Few want to think that their ancestors walked for a living and mixed their genes whenever they could. Fewer want to think that their ancestors were just as promiscuous as they are. Vital records really didn’t become mandatory in most places until the 1880s and free access to them is blocked in many jurisdictions. Almost nobody wants to think that their carefully constructed Family History might just be a pile of bad data and worse speculation, compounded by a lot of misheard conversations and wishful thinking. If you are going to start researching in this space be prepared for a LOT of reading.
A few years back I had an Extended Conversation with the FTDNA help desk. They “did not disagree” with my summation that the ethnicity estimates “pretty much show where people with genes similar to yours, and thus share some level of common ancestry, live now.” No one, at any company, has been willing to go into detail on their genetic samples. This is causing a lot of confusion... for example:
As of 2018 I have had autosomal DNA tests from FTDNA, NatGeo2, Ancestry and 23&Me. We have pretty good paper trails to the late 1790s on my father’s Italian ancestors, and the 1860’s on my mother’s Irish and Scots ancestry. My mtDNA links, H7D2A are from Central Ireland, possibly linked through gallowglasses to the Hebrides and Scandinavia. yDNA is I-A8689 (FTDNA) or I-L11949 (yFull) with few, VERY old matches to Germany. My patriline may or may not have served in Constantine’s Palace Guard, the Palatini. Numbers reported below are rounded. I suspect that many of you will have the same experience.
Please remember that you are at the cutting edge of a new science and approach to history—your data will be re-analyzed by somebody every time something new is discovered, and that is roughly every day. You can help by filling in all the questions at your test vendor site, and answering the email other researchers will no doubt send you.
August 26, 2018: An Earnest Plea to the Commissioner of Baseball
To the Commissioner of Baseball:
I hate to bother you, sir, but I have some thoughts that might help improve baseball.
Pitchers are burning out way too fast, mostly, I think, due to the Cult of the Fast Ball. Yes, it is exciting, but should kids be getting Tommy John’s Surgery? All the subtlety is gone… put a speed camera behind the plate and call every pitch over 95mph an automatic ball. Heck, if nothing else, the umpire might actually be able to see where the ball went. Hint hint.
Pitchers are hitting batters far too often, perhaps due to speed-induced fatigue. I think safety would be improved if hitting the batter meant he got an automatic run for his team, NOT just first base. No one else has to advance… no RBIs, for example. The injured batter just heads back to the bench and the scorer puts a new number up on the board. I think pitchers and coaches will get the point very quickly.
The defensive shift is out of hand and is leading to boringball. Too many games this year have been mostly watching people play catch and walk back and forth from the bench. I know that eventually more batters will learn to spread their targets, but… right now it is driving viewers away, something you cannot afford.
It might not be your problem, but could you tell the sportscasters to shut up, or at least talk about the game we are watching? I watch Yankee games on MLBTV and AtBat… a lot of the ESPN and Fox sports casters are talking about other things than baseball… I have no interest in their life stories, who they know, or their golf scores. Honest. One begins to believe they see the game as an interruption to their dialogue. I don’t want to hear politics either.
What happened to speeding up the game? It seems that, extra innings aside, things are taking forever. Maybe they don’t need to give replacement pitchers a zillion warm-up pitches? I have started giving up after 3 hours, no matter what else is happening.
..and OK, please sell advertising time to more companies. I am tired of back-to-back, full-minute long commercials for pharmaceuticals. I turned off the video feed on one game last month after a dozen repetitions of one particular advertisement, and just listened to it on the audio feed. They played the "Cars for Kids" spot too often, but it was an improvement.
Finally, what is this silliness with funny uniforms and hats? Are the teams THAT desperate for funds that they need to sell clothing to make payroll? I missed the highlights of a blacked-out game this morning since I didn’t see uniforms I recognized!
Thanks for your attention---
July 28, 2018: Guest Column by The Mysterious Red-haired Woman
I left the vision center wearing my darkest sunglasses, clutching the receipt for the lenses carrying my newly minted prescription and went home to wait for my vision to clear from the eye exam dilation chemicals. Things were still blurry when I went to bed but, no worries. Mine was a late afternoon eye exam and the eye drops might still be in my system I thought. The double vision was still firmly in place when I awoke the next morning. After Google searches indicated dilation’s normal duration seldom exceeding 6 hours, I returned to the vision center as soon as they opened to express my concern. The vision center agreed my condition wasn’t usual. They rechecked my sight with glasses and without, pronouncing everything the same as the first exam including the recommended prescription. Maybe my system was different, they said. Perhaps I should just wait a while longer for the drops to wear off.
I don’t wait well, especially when my analytical subconscious knows I missed something. But, these folks were certified specialists, so I took their advice and waited, somewhat. My husband and I also started researching and not just internet searches. We consulted my insurance carrier’s nurse information line, contacted my primary care doctor to secure a referral to an ophthalmologist for a second opinion. My double vision persisted while we worked through day 2 and day 3 after dilation.
On day 4, I was rewarded with an early morning appointment. The ophthalmologist’s technician quietly took all my information, repeated the same vision tests short of dilating my eyes. She was puzzled. All looked good except for my double vision complaint. She looked at my glasses and asked if any adjustments had been made by the optician at the vision center. Yes, I said. I asked for updated lenses for my frames. And yes, the optician said she had to trace the lenses to ensure a good fit with the new lenses. The technician took them to “read” their prescription and “Eureka”, the right and left lenses had been switched! The vision center switched the lenses back to normal later that with sincere apologies.
Here’s the “sad but true” moral of this story. Multiple, simple, quality checks were missed in this saga, any one of which would have shortened or eliminated the terror I experienced at the prospect of my vision having been permanently impaired.
My subconscious was right, as usual, but it lacked the knowledge to solve the problem. Stress of the situation didn’t help critical thinking either. The struggle to obtain that knowledge through the insurance and medical machine was equally stressful but, thankfully, I was believed.
I hope this story helps you believe your subconscious when it tells you to get more, better information. Thanks for listening.
July 27, 2018 How do you handle potentially "fake news"?
I am currently more involved than I would like to be in a flame-war… details are less than unimportant, but it raised an interesting problem: how do you know when something was fake news?
So… how do you determine if something is the first report of an important breaking event, the mindless gossip of people with time on their hands, or a malicious attempt to manipulate events with untrue, partially true, or misleadingly portrayed information?
There are some relatively straight-forward methods that require only a little effort on your part. I hate quoting myself, but: "The simplest methodology is lifted from the US military, so you already paid for it. With it, you focus on the source and the credibility of the information, leading to a simple alphanumeric designator, such as "A1" or "F6".
Reliability is based on the known performance of the source of the information, and is rated alphabetically:
a- Completely Reliable
b- Usually Reliable
c- Fairly reliable
d- Not Usually Reliable
f- Reliability Unknown
Credibility focuses on the information itself: Is it believable as a thing in itself?
1- Confirmed by Other Sources
2- Probably True
3- Possibly True
6- Credibility unknown”
Look at each story you see and assign it a classification number, based on your subjective experiences, before passing it along. Think about what it means. You might decide not to repost, to repost with warnings, or hold the story and its original poster up to ridicule…. Your choice, but at least you will be examining each story by the same standards. If nothing else you might think about why you trust a certain source more or less than others, and gain a greater understanding of your personal “standards of belief” and why you think this way. It may feel unnatural at first, but it is better than feeling like an idiot later.
After a while you may decide just not to read certain data flows, since the source just isn’t up to your standards. Note that this does NOT mean that they aren’t right some of the time, or are being malicious, or acting as full-time Agents of Evil. Remember though, the first report of something important can be from an unreliable source of improbable information... you have to know the characteristics of your own, personal Lunatic Fringe.
Never forget that your personal reputation as an information provider hangs with everything you post online. Bad information, analysis and assessment can be with you forever.
July 16, 2018: Soft on RUSSIA?
Lots of Talking Heads on the mainstream media screaming that Trump is treasonously soft on the Russians. Really?
Since he was sworn in, DJT has
This was just off the top of my head, without research. I am sure I have missed a few things.
I seem to recall that during the October 22, 2012 Presidential Debate Obama told Romney “the 1980’s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back — because the Cold War has been over for 20 years.” Looks like the Democrats have changed their mind on a few things... or do they think YOU have forgotten? Remember Hillary giving Putin a "relationship reset" button that said "That Was Easy" when pushed?
Looks like the Warhawks are back. Don’t forget Democrats Presidents got us involved in WW1, WW2*, Korea, Viet Nam and, to be honest, the American Civil War.
* Check FDR's policies BEFORE Pearl Harbor....
June 15, 2018: MINOR Genealogy update
To my surprise and delight, I just had a hit on my yDNA line, (passed directly from father to son) from a different branch of the clan. Our lines both seem to have branched off from the same forefather within about 20 generations or so… early 1500s. My only other link prior to this was back at roughly 450 AD, so this is quite an improvement. The dates will shift, as there was a lot of intermarriage in the small, remote Alpine village our ancestors spent time in, and that can mess up calculations.
I had pretty much given up on this line of research since our branch is VERY small, and few people have actually spent the money to be tested. Genes for frugality are entirely hypothetical, mind you. Frugality is just a …virtue. Honest. More testing, analysis and research needs to be done but… hey, that is the fun part. TWO links from the same place is interesting. I have been testing and upgrading since 2003, started and "tested out" at FTDNA.com (and yFull), and have just taken the Ancestry.com test to support my family tree there. The 23&me version is next... big sale on now.
yDNA and mtDNA are mostly useful for deep genealogy, not the “out to fourth cousin” tests commonly advertised for finding ethnicity. In my opinion, though, it is where the really useful and interesting stuff on human migrations is hidden. I am I-a8689, sometimes called I2A3, or even I-P37.2*Alpine (depending on when you last looked) for yDNA, the original pre-Ice Age settlers of Europe. My mom’s folks, H7D2A wandered in after things warmed up. She always hated cold weather.
May 7, 2018: Hawaii is NOT Puerto Rico
Looks like a major disaster might be winding up in Hawaii— time to think before the knee-jerk anti-administration ranting about racially biased aid distribution begins. (“Asians” and Islanders are ethnic majorities on Hawaii, just as Hispanics are on Puerto Rico.)
Volcanos and earthquakes are NOT hurricanes. From a recovery perspective, volcanos and earthquakes are geographically limited, relatively contained events, with a huge hinterland that will remain at least relatively undamaged. Hurricane Maria, for comparison, stretched 300 miles, far wider than the Island, and moved directly from Puerto Rico up the sea route needed to bring relief to the island, blocking them completely until the storm moved on. There was NO place to run, nowhere to hide. In Hawaii, disaster recovery can be staged from "just down the road a bit."
Massive, featured -on-Discover Channel style eruptions are NOT likely. Kilauea’s eruptions seem, historically, to have a Volcanic Explosivity Index near zero, with lava flows typified as effusive and continuous. UPDATE MAY 10, 2018: USGS has mentioned the possibility of phreatic "steam" explosions from Kilauea. This could be Very Bad. It could also be bureaucratic butt-covering, or a press-generated distraction. Estimates include debris in the 10-ton chunk range.
Earthquakes—and 6.9 is bigger than I would ever want to experience-- are driven by local vulcanism. (OK, Mega-tsunamis could be huge if there is a major landslide. These have been massive but are uncommon... but could do more damage to nearby islands than an eruption. The solution is to head uphill fast. Based on its disaster site, California seems far more concern about tsunamis generated by local plate tectonics than by distant landslides.)
Some drone footage seems to show that the major lava pools have drained, so the even might be working itself out-- there is plenty more hot glowing rock where today's shipment came from, though.
Hawaii is not Puerto Rico. Both are islands, but it pretty much stops there. Hawaiian infrastructure is reportedly in much better condition than its PR counterpart was. People KNEW they were building near a volcano. Vulcanism is a well-understood part of Hawaiian life—in fact, it is a tourist attraction.
On the other hand, both are pretty much single-party states. Neither seemed to pay much attention to civil defense. Evacuation is, in both cases, pretty much impossible in any realistic time-frame.
Competent help is nearby. Even though the US military is not set up for large scale civilian disaster relief, Hawaii has many military bases that will be likely untouched by anything other than an expectedly large and explosive eruption. Further, the bases on the pacific Coast will remain untouched under most circumstances. Help can move into place swiftly, despite the distance. Bases on Puerto Rico were shut down by 2005.
With vulcanism, the best risk remediation is Being Somewhere Else When It Happens.
May 4, 2018: Throwing Money At A Problem...
Throwing even limited amounts of money at a problem is usually my LEAST favorite way to improve things, but sometimes You Just Gotta…
You Tube is aligning itself with the rest of the Google and Facebook properties and seems actively intent on eliminating nonProgressive information feeds. They deny this is the case, of course.
There are a couple of ways to respond—some free.
You can help keep us from being submerged forever under a wave of feel-good, fluffy-kitten progressive media output. This is, sad to say, a long, drawn-out struggle where the Bad Guys LITERALLY own the high ground.
March 27, 2018: Civis Americanus Sum.
There has been lots of talk by the Former Slaveowners’ Party this week about how Evil Republicans are trying to Mess With The Census, Dominate Elections and Destroy America's Future by asking citizenship-related questions on the next Census. Several Attorneys General have promised to sue the Federal Government over the issue.
For the record, EVERY SINGLE US Census in the 20th Century except 1960 asked directly, under penalty of perjury, about Citizenship. ALL demanded place of birth, PARENTS' place of birth and languages spoken. Most asked about "ancestry" or ethnicity. Interesting, many of the surveys asked if the respondent was an idiot or insane, questions that should be considered for re-instatement. Place of birth, from which some estimate of citizenship can be derived, has been asked, in some form, since the seventh decennial census in 1850. The Question was asked DIRECTLY 1850-1950, 1970-2000.
I checked with my own eyeballs at the official US Census website. YOU can do that too. The Democrats are counting on you NOT to do it. What are YOU going to do?
The link: census.gov/history/www/through_the_decades/index_of_questions/2010.html
February 23, 2018: "Turkey Shoot" or Chicken... Droppings?
I posted some links on my Facebook page over the past few days on an even in the Middle East that is being called the “Deir Ezzor Turkey Shoot”, an armed conflict between US and Russian forces in Syria. There has been essentially NO mainstream media coverage of this story in the US. I just might be having some second thoughts about it, though.
Back in early February there were mainstream media reports that a US drone had hellfired an old Russian T-72 tank in Syria. No real follow-up or excitement then, but over the next 15 days there were increasing and conflicting rumors—including reports on Bloomberg, Reuters and ABC-- that a MAJOR event had occurred. UPDATE: on April 12, 2018 Mr. Pompeo confirmed during his confirmation hearings for Secretary of State that a "couple of hundred Russians were killed" in Syria.
Summing up the rumor-stream it was suggested that:
While it is fairly obvious SOMETHING happened it is hard to figure out where on the “One drone, one missile, one tank three dead” to “an entire Russian mechanized battalion exterminated in under 10 minutes” continuum the truth lies.
Several correspondents of mine have suggest the whole event is being kept quiet to avoid escalating tensions and permit each side to back down gracefully. Others think that the Mercenaries were operating “on their own” trying to capture an oil field. I agreed for awhile that Messages Were Being Sent by the US to Russia, Turkey, China, Iran and North Korea.
I now suspect that we are seeing active misinformation, disinformation and malinformation campaigns by several players, including, but not limited to, proPutin and antiPutin political forces inside Russia. It might just be some very inventive trolls-- possibly employed by an group with "interests in the outcome"-- screwing with our heads.
I have not one single clue how this situation-- if there even IS a situation-- will resolve itself. I suspect it will just fade into the background noise.
January 19, 2018: Nothing to sneeze at...
OK, it is ‘flu season again. Did you get your shot?
One of the things you either forgot or were never taught was that in 1918 a killer strain of influenza spread worldwide within 6 months. Approximately 6% of humanity died, and over a third of all living humans were infected. Information was stifled on both sets of allied nations, so as not to reveal the disease’s impact on warfighting capability.
Back in 2008 I was heavily involved in researching the potential impact of an influenza pandemic, first on information technology in financial services, later as part of a team considering pandemic impacts on businesses in general.
FEMA believed there would be multiple, unevenly distributed waves of infection, with possibly 90 million US infections. They thought infection rates would be 20% for adults and 40% for children, with perhaps 2 million US deaths. Projections indicated over 70% of enterprises moderate-severely disrupted experiencing 40% absenteeism for as long as eight weeks. Some organizations were expected to experience +95% absentee rates.
The very best epidemiologists in the world missed their projections, thankfully. That H1N1 t ‘flu was milder, though more infectious, than expected, and impacted different demographics. This was good, since the vaccines—and continuity of operations plans, were deficient.
I am not going to go into what we recommended to our clients who paid a LOT for the research. I will note, though, that response plans were optimistic. Damned few firms were willing to contemplate high death rates.
After a while, I wasn’t with That Wonderful Firm anymore, but I kept up on continuity issues in general. You might want to keep these observations in mind:
There doesn’t seem to be any need to panic at all right now. REPEAT: there doesn’t seem to be any need to panic at all right now. It is a good time, though, to review your general home (and business) preparedness measures.
December 13, 2017: Whining about Bad Political Analysis.
OK, even more whining. I gotta call out bad analysis when I see it.
So far the major media-- Fox included-- have utterly missed the point: Most media polls were predicting a Democrat victory for most of the campaigns. There were huge variances, but... Jones was generally the favorite of the pollsters, often by several percent..
I think it irresponsible to call this election an overwhelming victory for the Democrats. Yes, indeed they won… by 1.54%. Preliminary numbers indicate Jones took 49.92%, Moore 48.38%, not anywhere near a resounding victory—in sports I suspect it would be called a squeaker, won in the bottom of the ninth inning with a badly-fielded walk-off single.
Let Us Remember:
The Republican, Moore was considered by most to be the worst candidate in a generation, reportedly roundly disliked by his own local and national party leaders. He defeated the National Republican Party’s hand-picked candidate in a late run-off. Despite that, he lost by less than 2%
He faced an unending drumbeat of personal attacks from the mainstream news and talk-show powerhouse. Despite that, he lost by less than 2%.
The Republican faced UNPROVEN allegations of sex-crimes during a rare bit of media and national outrage on the subject. Despite that, he lost by less than 2%.
The mainstream media reported that Democrats funneled huge amounts of out-of-state money to support their candidate, dramatically outspending the Republicans. Despite that, he lost by less than 2%.
None of this particularly points towards a broad-based surge in support for generic Democrat candidates in 2018.
(Problems with polling were discussed brilliantly by Nate Silver at https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/what-the-hell-is-happening-with-these-alabama-polls/amp/?__twitter_impression=true)
(Though we await Opensecrets.org's analysis, spending was discussed at (https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/elections/roy-moore-scandal-ignites-fundraising-explosion-democratic-challenger-doug-jones-n821961)
December 1, 2017: OK, this time I AM whining…
I am in the process of wasting part of my life car-shopping.
I do not want, or really need, to purchase a vehicle right now, and HATE shopping for cars. We are searching because my current car, a Nissan Quest min-van, is no longer being produced-- and having been happy Pontiac and Saturn owners, we KNOW this is the time to cut and run, even though it is in fine condition, and one of us still likes it.
My main vehicular criteria? FITTING through the door.
Almost all vehicles now have canted their windscreens dropped their rooflines and narrowed their front doors enough to make access by a people with bad backs and other worn-out parts very difficult. While I know it makes them more fuel efficient and safer in a roll-over, it also means I cannot drive them. Sad to say, but car-makers also seem to be ignoring the trend that Americans Just Aren’t Getting Thinner.
I have tried 15 minivans and SUVs so far... only 3 were even marginally accessible. I have 4 more to try as soon as my back and knee recover... not to mention the bruise over my right ear from whacking my head on car roofs.
Right now, my best, though limited, options seem to be some things on the truck-side of SUVs—some of which cost more, and are larger, than my first house. Can you spell YUCK, boys and girls?
I admire their perseverance, but salescritters kept trying to sell their Stuff to me, even when it was plainly obvious I did not, and could not, fit their offerings. WHY should “great financing” matter in that case? Their “customer service teams” just don’t seem to get the hint either… FOUR follow-up calls and multiple eMails for something I can’t use?
November 22, 2017: TALK to them...
For once, this is a genealogical rant, and NOT a political one. Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day in the US, a chance for families and friends to get together, talk and maybe eat a bit too much. Maybe.
Holidays are your prime chance to get the answers to family history questions like who is really related to who, where everyone lived, and the tiny, intimate details of everyday life that might bore YOU to tears, but will be fascinating to YOUR grandchildren. Maybe you can even convince some of the Older Ones to take a genetic test... there are lots of tear-jerking reality TV shows that may have softened them up a bit.
You will hate yourself later if you let this chance pass you by. With luck, genealogy will be less controversial than politics.
Regardless of ANYTHING else, Happy Thanksgiving to All!
November 8, 2017: Stop Whining...
Honestly, how can Republicans losing the Virginia and New Jersey governors' races be considered a surprise? You ARE kidding, right? The amazing thing is how well Republicans did in two dominantly Democrat states, not how poorly.
Virginia was, and is, the Heart of the Swamp. Only six of their thirty-six Governors since Reconstruction ended in 1874 have been Republicans. They hold grudges there, it seems.
Christie was a rare anticorruption anomaly in a state noted, shall we say, for procedural irregularities. No surprises here. The previous four Governors of New Jersey were Democrats.
Keep in mind— your local candidates need money and support. I was just faced with a supposedly non-partisan local election without a single Republican or Conservative option. National money and data on supporters doesn't seem to have trickled down to the county level.
One of the key drivers in the Constitution is driving decision making back to the State and local level, so non-national races count in a big way. We need to expect variation in policies, pick the best choice we can, and, if necessary, vote with our feet.
October 10, 2010: Before I get overtaken by Events...
This stuff would normally sit awhile (until I got a Clue, usually) , but I suspect I am about to be overtaken by events.
Lots of times I see tinder, and oxygen, but no spark. So far. These aren’t trends, or emerging events, but the substrate from whence such things might grow. I haven’t even made a slide for these yet. I am confident in the observations, but these are political projections, and anything might change at any time. NOTHING is to be construed as investing advice… ever.
October 3, 2017: Silly Opinions on Hurricane Relief Efforts.
This is a disjointed summary of several AMATEUR Facebook conversations on recovery efforts for Hurricane Maria, in Puerto Rico. Thanks to everyone who took part. Many thanks to Google and Wikipedia.
A series of gross oversimplifications:
Water is HEAVY: On average, people consume 10lbs of food & water a day. Might be more in tropics as water usage is higher. Water is HEAVY, and the first efforts were supplied by helicopters.
Airports weren't open yet. Airdrop capability is a small fraction of what it was during the Cold War, and THAT is US based...NC, GA, we think. What I have read leads me to think that military airlift is in critically short supply even for day-to-day operations. No one has ever managed to supply something the size of PR by air. (The Berlin Airlift just slowed the rate of starvation to manageable levels. Mostly carried coal dust for winter heating and grain.)
Most US cities have around 3 days supply of food. I suspect PR, being an island, had a bit more, but not much more. The grocery industry is optimized for fast, even, throughput, and almost nothing sits in warehouses for more than a few days. "Just in time" manufacturing and process optimization means there is almost no slack, and a lot of delays means hungry people. (Some of us discovered during pandemic planning that, using history as a guide, food riots start within a week of a strict quarantine. The similarity between pandemics and PR imilarity is that disaster planners generally have unaffected are contiguous to them to stage first wave recovery from. The mainland is too far away to be an easy recovery base... it is like recovering in Chicago from NYC.) I have been digging around, and can't find much about disaster recovery on THIS scale. I hope the WW2 playbooks are still available. WW3 planning assumed cities were gone, but road/rail intact except for major switching centers. There was nothing public about planning for event like this, though.
Why no local military-lead recovery? Armed forces are optimized to destroy things, and are already heavily over-tasked. The National Guard has been focused on war fighting. The regular armed forces were severely cut post-Cold War, and were never designed to do this in the first place. There was massive base-closing from 1988-2005, to “save money”. PR forced closure of navy bases there years ago, redeveloping the property for tourism. EVERYHING has to be shipped in from unaffected areas, by ships that had to go around a hurricane headed up along the coast.
In short, not much can get to non-coastal areas until the harbors and roads are open. How long does it take to get roads open if ALL roads & bridges down? Years. Longer than it took to build them in the first place. There used to be sea-transportable water treatment plants... concrete plants too. This work is dominantly done now by contractors ("mercenaries and war profiteers" according to media) and STILL has to be assembled and shipped in.
I am still wondering how/ where on debris removal... massive chipper/grinders, and equally big trucks (and fuel, and...) to haul them. All must be imported. Opening the ports and roads is the FIRST priority, as everything hangs from it.
September 12, 2017: Can you trust your search engine results?
PROJECTION: the influence of social media magnates on elections will be the surprise element and key scandal in the US’s 2018 mid-term elections, starting no later than December 2017.
Most of us know that media sources have definite political agendas, even if they refuse to admit it, but may be surprised to think that we are “getting the wrong answers” when we look things up online.
Test: I freely admit I drink too much coffee and think too much about this sort of stuff. Sooo--- here is a chance for YOU to figure out if it is time for decaf and a new hobby.
I would be delighted to be wrong about this.
August 21, 2017: Eclipse notwithstanding, same sandwich, different day.
Those of you unfortunate enough to have worked with me might remember how I always kept a slide-deck of “Emerging Situations” prepared and updated, on the odd chance that they would be useful. Sort of like having a few backup ammunition magazines in your pocket. Catchy graphic, a solid soundbite for the lead, and fill the notes sections with observations. Often, being seen as smart just means being slightly better prepared.
I was updating a slide the other day (what made you think I would stop?) and noticed that, to my surprise, nothing had changed except, maybe, the names of some of the players. Some of these “emerging” situations have been bubbling away for 10 or more years without coming to an actionable crisis. Some of them have been in place for hundreds of years without resolution.
Honestly, the chance of Civil War breaking out anytime soon is effectively zero. Gang wars aside, there seems to be less violence going on right now than after a disputed sporting event. The media is playing you for a sucker… the side most generally supportive of “law and order” just isn’t all that likely to start fighting in the street.
Coup d’Etat? The chance that the Progressive Left will instigate and lead a military coup in their favor is so remote that it isn’t even laughable.
Pre 2018 Impeachment? This requires indictment by the Republican-dominated House Committee on the Judiciary and passage by a simple majority of the Republican-held House. Prosecutors need a two-thirds vote in the still-Republican Senate. Holding your breath? Please don’t fall over here.
You are the victim of a media desperately trying to retain their relevance and income streams. Think they are unfair or deliberately misleading? Complain to their advertisers. NOTHING else, short term, will work.
July 20, 2017: OK, I lied about the updates.
Actually, the reader count is near zero these days, and I didn’t want to write anything inflammatory to boost ratings. Sorry. Too hot to think here in the Triangle right now. I watered some plantings at dawn this morning, and sweated through my gear within minutes.
Some idle thoughts:
Sudden family things and general busyness dragged our butts back up to the Imperial City area this week, really for the first time in three or so years. I was surprised at the large number of vacant stores and business locations right next to new and ongoing construction for both in the People’s Republics of Connecticut and Westchester. Back from the coast a bit, many empty storefronts and dead businesses, though. Small, locally-owned firms seemed to be the worst hit.
The divergence between rich and un-rich seems to be growing, at least as evidenced by a long drive down Route 1, along the coast. Residential construction (old reflexes die hard, I guess...still looking for that sea-front fixer-upper) seemed to be centered on that uneasy border between “McMansion” and “Imperial Palaces”. Some Amazing Things are being built, so I guess money is still no object for some, despite the State wobbling toward bankruptcy.
The cash being poured into infrastructure, though seems limitless. I lived in that area for 50+ years and NEVER saw the roads in such good shape. Some of I-95, though, seems to have been under repair and renovation since 1980. Rush hour southbound from New Haven was still bumper-to-bumper, with hot and cold running maniacs, at 11:00 AM. I had the supreme joy of sitting in traffic next to a bright yellow supercar of some sort as we moved, inch by inch, southward.
I was surprised to hear political talk at the craft show we attended, some quite vicious, all from the Left. Several well-groomed Shiny Folk were loudly assuring each other that they had unfriended and ostracized former friends and relations that were “Republicans.” One was “terrified” that there might be Republicans still working at his firm. I behaved myself, remembering that most of us had left the state already, and the remainders probably had status as Protected Species. As an economic note, VERY few people seemed to actually be buying anything. Except us, of course.
May 22, 2017: Sort of a placeholder...
My apologies for the lack of blogging. I have been editing and rewriting a 200+ page matrilineal family history, running back to 1860ish. All descendants of Mary Elizabeth McCabe, roughly 1840, with all descendants of all lines (and all lines run back to emigration to the US), detailed up to the 1940 US Federal Census, with scanned copies of 90+% of the vital records on thumbdrives. I tried to read the new Irish Parish Records, but some of the entries seem to have been written by someone holding the pen between their toes, while running to their next appointment. I will never again accept criticism of MY handwriting. Ever.
My old Editor will be happy to know that I gave up my careful, surgical approach to the existing text, and am now wielding the literary equivalent of a claymore. Huge bloody chunks of explanatory text, open research questions, careful drawing and detailed tables of dates and locations are now buried deep in appendices, most likely never to be seen again. Careful discussions of research protocols methodological considerations? Gone out back somewhere. Bye! Interesting explanations of who did what, where are now reduced to "All Descendants of.." charts. Very soothing. All speculation is now clearly marked as such, and Genealogical Proof Standards are pretty much adhered to, most of the time. (That is what I am working on now…)
Moving to a straight matrilineal approach, aimed at my sisters' daughters' yet unborn daughters focused things wonderfully-- got rid of 60+ pages of yDNA stuff, pushed into a free-standing document of its own. This will eventually become an essay on history, viewed from my yDNA haplogroup. There is a LOT of new research on the settlement of Europe that I need to assimilate and digest.
I should be back shortly. Honest.
March 7, 2017: What happens to politics when voters “cannot” forget?
I have been watch both the repeal of the soi-dissant “Affordable Care Act” and the media slug-fest about Possible Impacts of Evil Russians on the political process with increasing… I don’t know, maybe puzzlement is the best word.
My confusion does not relate to who is on each of the many sides in either scuffle—more with the implications on future political discourse when everything a politician has said on camera, tweeted or written is instantly metatagged and stuffed in a database. We have already seen this to some extent in the last two POTUS campaigns, and recent confirmation hearings. The “Russian Ambassador” meme is now widespread and still humorous. It may just have killed off, or limited, that investigation.
The ready availability of previous statements will stiffen position-holding, making compromise and deal-making extremely difficult. Politicians may find themselves unable to adjust their positions as things change and their understanding improves. This will be very bad, several steps worse than political correctness.
Politicians will drain their rhetoric of anything that might be held against them in the future, rendering the essential discourse of their role as innocuous as an elevator conversation about the weather. Adaptability to circumstances is admirable, but hard to defend to a constituency that really doesn’t want to pay attention, and expects stuff not to change.
It will be progressively harder to get people to run for office, or fill roles requiring confirmation. We are already seeing this. Would you volunteer to have every tweet and statement you have made examined by people who need to prove you are uniquely unsuitable for a job?
I expect to keep chewing on this without result for quite a while, and will try not to bother you too much with it.
February 12, 2017: Post-Election Stress Disorder?
OK, it is well past the 2016 POTUS Election, and maybe, just maybe, too soon by a couple of days to start morbidly obsessing about the midterm elections. Really.
The whole damned thing, from the soft jerky start to shuddering, late-night finish was an adrenalin surge for all sides, in many ways like riding a bicycle, blindfolded, down a stairwell. Bumps, jumps, unexpected turns then sudden quiet. I think I, a feckless amateur, was paying 4 hours a day of rapt attention, not counting time spent writing snaky Facebook posts and Tweets.
Many of us have are trying to fill the sudden hole in our lives by recreating the excitement and remembered drama, picking fights over trivia. Folks seem to miss the heady, soul-filling taste of Us against Them. Life-as-usual is… dull.
We have figured it out by now: you don’t like us, we don’t like you, other parties don’t like either of us, and in a short time no one will care. Again. ALL the old coalitions we call political parties are in turmoil, and are either realigning or breaking up. Got it. Understood. We used to call this “business as usual.”
A civil war is NOT starting, and it is just NOT the End of the World as We Knew It. The disturbances I am seeing on The Noisy Box seem, honestly, like a low-budget “reality” drama, thrown together at the last minute in a desperate attempt to keep our eyes glued to the screen and our brains unfocused, watching advertising. From here, the plot looks rather thin, and the characters need a lot of work.
The main-stream media is terrified of losing your attention, and the revenue YOU generate. Expect all sorts of manufactured crises in the next few months.
February 5, 2017: Why do people listen to actors and comedians?
“WAKE UP & JOIN THE RESISTANCE. ONCE THE MILITARY IS W US FASCISTS GET OVERTHROWN. MAD KING & HIS HANDLERS GO BYE BYE”
Some Wonderful Person, a TV comedian seemingly, has called for a military coup ‘etat to “overthrow the Fascists”. IF you were looking for a single, paradigmatic example of how far removed the Progressives and Liberals are from reality, this would be a good choice.
If putsch comes to shove, there are some hard realities:
· Active-duty US military and veteran voters overwhelmingly supported DJT… the last poll I saw on the subject, November 22, 2016, showed a 3 to 1 lead for Trump over Clinton in that segment. Exit polls reportedly showed veterans supported Trump by a 2 to 1 margin. Absent major, provable, well-documented and generally-accepted threats to the US Constitution, that comedian and her friends are going to have a long wait.
• Democrats and Progressives clump. City lab.com came up with a remarkable statistic: , “below 800 people per square mile, there is a 66% chance that you voted Republican. Above 800 people per square mile, there is a 66% chance that you voted Democrat.” Democrats are “generally” concentrated in and around certain major urban areas. In general, these have less than days’ supply of food, and tenuous water supplies. Power lines into cities are large, and impossible to defend. Republicans are highly dispersed. With extremely limited and unreliable data, I think far more “preppers” Lean Republican than Democrat. Military bases tend to be rather remote from major urban conglomerations, rendering "marching shoulder-to-shoulder into That Golden Dawn" an unlikely way to garner their support.
• Firearms are cumulative and permanent. I have some usable firearms that are fairly close to a century old. Note that while recent numbers show a decline in firearms purchases (OPINION: price-gouging is a current industry reality.) Gallup polls from 2010 show only 20% of Democrats admit to owning a firearm, on a dropping trendline, while over half of Republicans admit to owning firearms, on a rising trendline. Overall, Obama and Clinton were the best sales drivers for firearms purchases in recent American history.
I suspect that the Idiot Remarks In Question do not reflect the majority thought in either the population as a whole, or in its Democrat-leaning segments, but wonder if I am wrong in discounting the role of Such People in thought-leadership for likely voters over time.
The 2018 races—just over 20 months away—are looking to be even more important than we thought. What are you doing to secure the blessings of Liberty?
January 22, 20117: Watching the Snowflakes melt…
After a while you begin to wonder... did Snowflakes flunk Civics? Did they remember the Electoral College? Are they able to Google-search what it takes to change the US Constitution? Can they count how few states where they hold the statehouse, and control both chambers of the state legislature?
First, the Congress seems to be doing its level best to ignore the various State Calls for an Article 5 Constitutional Convention. Since there is no specified time limit on calls, the necessary two-thirds majority of States Calling the Convention has long ago been met. Keep in mind that there are NO limits on what can come out of such a Convention. I leave speculation on this to my readers.
Second, the way most folks think of it, is by the proposed Amendment to pass the House AND Senate by a two-thirds vote. Please note that the Republicans can block any Amendment now, without necessarily being able to pass one against opposition. The proposed Amendment must then be sent by Congress to either the State legislatures or special State ratifying conventions. If ratified by THREE Quarters (38) of the States. Constitutionally, there is NO time limit on ratification, though the Amendment MAY include such a limit in its text.
In either event, 34 States can Call for an Amendment, and 38 must ratify it
Finally, right now, Republicans hold the presidency, and have effective control of the House and Senate. Democrats hold the statehouse and legislatures of FIVE (5) (ONE TENTH) of the States, Republicans have full control of TWENTY FIVE States.
The 2018 races are IMPORTANT, and the campaigns have already begun.
January 6, 2017: More Post-Election Thoughts.
Okay, Congress assembled, and counted the Electoral College votes, and we can exhale. What next?
1-- Reminder: make sure you have signed up for your congresscritters’ Twitter feeds, and pay attention to them. Bookmark their websites too. Hold them immediately accountable for their actions. ONE day of reading MY congressman’s tweets made me resolve to double my campaign contribution to his opponent.
2- Keep focused: You have probably stopped obsessing over the news. THIS is why we lost in 2008 and 2012. Capture and update stories of wrong-doing and malfeasance so you have them ready at hand when needed.
3- Watch your flanks: migration away from the bicoastal cesspits continues, which may change the characteristics of your voting district and area in odd ways. Keep alert for changes. My “new 55+ community” might be big enough to swing a local election on its own when building ends in two years. Note that it was TWO YEARS before anyone from our local party contacted us, though we registered to vote within days of moving... please don't let potential new voters feel unloved.
4- Volunteer: Younger readers should consider running for local office in 2018, or volunteering for duty on public boards and groups, especially those related to education. Older readers should keep their checkbooks handy and back Likely Young Pups with money.
5- Put your money where your heart is. I have ceased doing business with some firms whose leaders’ politics I find repulsive.
6- Why do you watch people who hate you? I am near the last of people to suggest NOT watching opposition news, but just following their twitter feeds instead of watching their broadcasts eventually cuts down their revenue from commercials.
Hopefully I can get back to interesting things in my next entry. “Pitchers and Catchers Call” is coming up soon… and I need to do a Daily Rant on genetics in genealogy research.
November 10, 2016: Some post-Election Day thoughts…
1- It isn't over. Set up a 2017 budget, even a little one, to save up for campaign contributions to the candidate of your choice. They even notice $100 contributions. $1,000 to a state or local-level race can make you New Friends. FOLLOW ALL THE RULES.
2- Get on the email list of your political servants. Pay at least a small amount of attention to what they do. SEND THEM A PERSONAL E-MAIL WHEN THEY SCREW UP OR DO SOMETHNG GOOD. You have opinions on Facebook... send them to your employee. Friend or follow them on Facebook. Praise good actions on your blog.
3- Be Prepared to help. You know how the Mysterious Background Figures and Influencers in politics got there? Many offered research and opinion to Congressional and Legislative staffers, and proved to be reliable. Most of my readers are experts in SOMETHING… many of you are reliable. ALL of you have opinions. Offer them.
4- Use it or lose it. OK, you bought a firearm. Learn to use it. Training is readily available, and usually quite inexpensive. As a hobby, it is cheaper than golf.
4- Speak up. There WILL be a propaganda war against you. Fight it with facts. Be relentless in defense. Do not let them control the narrative.
5- Gloat not, lest gloater become gloatee.