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.
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.