Monday, December 19, 2016

A Killer Chili and Cheese Machine

These chili and cheese machines are probably everywhere but I'd never seen one before coming on one serendipitously in a 7-11 at the corner of 96th and Steele in Tacoma, Washington. A home version of this machine would kill me:


You know you want one too:


One improvement came to mind, adding a third nozzle for melted dark chocolate:

That's gross, you say. You'll just have to move to Canada. A second improvement would be to add a fourth nozzle for whipped cream.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Running with Scissors from China in Tacoma

I've had to extend my stay on a visit to a family member with a severe case of crohns. Thanksgiving week our patient moved from hospital to nursing rehab and we hope to have him back in his home by New Years. I needed a pair of scissors to trim my mustache, as I didn't pack my electric trimmers for what I thought would be a short trip.

At Walgreens, you can't buy a single pair of scissors. You have to get 4 pair, for only $3 as they are made in China:


The problem is how to open the !@#$%^&* package. A pair of scissors would be helpful. I think this is Catch 88 (22 times 4). At least 3 of these will not pass the TSA rules for carryon baggage, so they are never leaving Tacoma. Our patient's roommate also needed mustache trimmers, so I'm only looking for a home for 2 pair. At least they are not kittens.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Hitting the Half Million View Mark

Like the Russian Revolution, it's unclear if I crossed the 500,000 line in October or November. I wasn't watching that closely, and the revolution was not televised. That's 310,663 pageviews on the blog and 194,146 views on the companion YouTube channel.

Here are the top 10 posts on the blog:

ViewsPostDateRemarks
16,831 John Stamos to Star with Olsen Twins in Two and a Half Women March 7, 2011 OK, I made this up. Whenever I hear Donald Trump say that America doesn't win anymore, I think of Charlie Sheen.
4,367 Harvard Reenlists in the U.S. Navy ROTC March 5, 2011 In the words of Harvard graduate and Specialist Third Class Tom Lehrer, "Fight fiercely Harvard!"
3,187 Weiner Holder for President and Vice President June 19, 2011 My favorite Anthony Weiner posts are this one and this one.
1,460 The Nikki Haley Story: Some Lies Don't Tell So Well June 12, 2010 With Hillary Clinton's loss, Nikki Haley's back in the running to become the first woman President of the U.S..
1,420 Milky Way Midnight Dark Wins the Candy Bar Taste Test July 11, 2010 Dark Chocolate M&M's are also great but increasingly hard to find in stores.
1,408 What Is Newt Hiding in Gingrich Holdings, Inc.? Jan. 23, 2012 Newt went on and on shamelessly about conflicts at Clinton Foundation.
1,373 The Legitimate Rape of Todd Akin Aug. 20, 2012 The 2016 U.S. Senate race in Missouri featured assembling an AR-15 blind-folded.
1,269 The Obamas Upstage Queen Elizabeth II in Ireland May 24, 2011 "We are amused, thinks the Queen, by these quaint Irish beverages."
1,260 Oprah Sheds Crocodile Tears for $38,000 Handbag Aug. 12, 2013 Oprah just smacked anti-Trump protesters with her handbag: "Everybody take a deep breath!"
1,156 The Great Hilliard Street Squirrel Massacre of 2015 July 18, 2015 Come to think of it, I don't remember when I last saw any squirrels around here.

And here are the top 10 posts on the YouTube channel:

ViewsPostDateRemarks
40,973 Mennonite Choir in Harvard Square June 26, 2009 Just beautiful. I would owe them a tithe if this blog/channel were monetized.
9,735 Drip, Drip, Drip Feb. 6, 2014 The dullest video on YouTube. Be sure to watch until the end for the big reveal. The sad truth is that I replaced the frying pan with a bigger bucket and did not get the leak fixed until April 22, 2015.
6,930 Dar Williams - Teen for God Sep. 20, 2010 Dar Williams, my favorite singer-songwriter performing today, at Club Passim, my favorite music venue. In this case, I prefer the Nanci Griffith version.
6,077 Calling Cows to the Bull Fight Sep. 8, 2013 That's my voice, and 8.38 of my 15 minutes of fame. My father makes a brief appearance at the end.
4,718 Girl Fight in Harvard Square May 22, 2010 As near as I can figure, capoeira is the martial art of not kicking your opponent.
4,174 Nikolas Metaxas - No More June 19, 2011 Nikolas Metaxas is famous in Crypus. Welcome Cypriots!
4,061 Liz Longley - I Only Love Him Because I'm Lonely July 8, 2010 I swear that I'm not the older guy referenced in the intro to this song.
3,230 Inca Son in Harvard Square May 1, 2010 When this first starting getting hits I thought I had gotten the name of the group wrong, but they do claim their earliest beginnings in the streets of Harvard Square.
2,990 Last Boot of My Macintosh Quadra 610 Sep. 30, 2010 My hand appears briefly in this video. "It is now safe to switch off your Macintosh."
2,869 Entering Clarinda, Iowa July 20, 2010 My hometown. Seven Spanish Angels is playing on the radio.


Thursday, November 10, 2016

3.7M Obama Voters Didn't Make the Trek to Clinton

Last weekend I rode my Vespa out to Clinton, Massachusetts to take this picture, which I'd expected to post to mark a victory but will instead have to serve as a tombstone:



How did it happen? We can get into swing state demographics and electoral college math but the surprising truth is in the totals (as of 12/19/2016):

Candidate 2004 2008 2012 2016
Democratic 59,027,115 69,499,428 65,918,507 65,844,610
Republican 62,039,572 59,950,323 60,934,407 62,979,636
Third Party 1,190,111 1,760,033 2,099,808 7,124,715
Write-In 46,792 263,921 284,920 1,063,583
Total 122,303,590 131,473,705 129,237,642 137,012,544

This post has been updated as the final 2016 totals have come in. At first it appeared Donald Trump didn't win any more votes nationwide than Mitt Romney, but now it's clear that by a small margin he got the most votes ever for a Republican. Trump won in 2016 with 3 million more votes than McCain in 2008, 2 million more than Romney in 2012, and only .9 million more than Bush in 2004.

There's also a drop of 3.7 million Democratic voters since 2008. We'll call them the disillusioned. Some of them may have become deplorable Trump voters, but it would appear that a lot of them ran to the third party candidates. No more than 74 thousand Obama 2012 voters stayed home and voted with their seat.

I'm not saying angry Hillary voters should run out and slash the tires of cars with Bernie bumper stickers, punch Jill Stein supporters in the nose, or break into homes that had Gary Johnson yard signs and steal their stash, although that might help ease the pain.

Defriending Republican-voting friends on Facebook also isn't going to help. They're not the cause. They didn't do anything more than Republicans always do, vote Republican, and not in any great numbers. Nor are the ranks of the disillusioned who didn't vote for Hillary Clinton burning American flags on Fifth Avenue in NYC going to win over Americans to vote Democratic in the next election.

Blame the candidate, but the trend was there in 2012 too. It's The Incredible Shrinking Democratic Party.

If you're looking for a bright spot, there is one. Hillary polled 18.4 million votes more than her husband Bill ever did. So, for women, that's a moral victory. She also polled higher than George W. Bush.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Which 2016 Ballot Question Is the Dumbest?

From our four candidates in Massachusetts, here are the nominated excerpts:

Question 1: "The proposed location of the gaming establishment shall be at least 4 acres large, and shall be adjacent to, and within 1500 feet of, a race track, including the track, grounds, paddocks, barns, auditorium, amphitheatre and/or bleachers, if any, where a horse racing meeting may physically be held, which race track shall have hosted a horse racing meeting, provided that said location is not separated from said race track by a highway or railway."

That is, within .28 miles of Suffolk Downs in East Boston but not across the railroad tracks or highway.

Question 4: "There shall be a cannabis advisory board to study and make recommendations on the regulation of marijuana and marijuana products. The board shall consist of 15 members appointed by the governor and shall consist of:

1 expert in marijuana cultivation,
1 expert in marijuana retailing,
1 expert in marijuana product manufacturing,
1 expert in marijuana testing,
1 board member or officer of a medical marijuana treatment center,
1 registered medical marijuana patient,
1 individual who represents marijuana retail consumers,
2 experts in public health,
2 experts in law enforcement,
2 experts in social welfare or social justice, and
2 attorneys with experience providing legal services to marijuana businesses, marijuana consumers or medical marijuana patients in the commonwealth.

...Members of the board shall serve without compensation but shall be reimbursed for their expenses actually and necessarily incurred in the discharge of their official duties."

2 turtle doves and a partridge in a pear tree.
And, yes, we're going to pay for their marijuana "studies."

Friday, November 4, 2016

The Hole in the Heart of Boston Is Now Scraping the Sky

Millennium Tower has risen at the old Filene's site in Boston:


Originally planned for 38 stories, the project ran out of money during the Great Recession leaving a big hole in Downtown Crossing. The new tower has 60 floors with 442 condos priced at $990,000 and up.

The 60th floor 13,000 sq. ft. penthouse reportedly went for $33,000,000. Still available for $9,450,000 on the 59th floor is a 3,435 sq. ft. condo with 3 bedrooms, 4.5 bathrooms, a family room, and a terrace. Or with $4,700,000 you could settle for 1,781 sq. ft. on the 56th floor with 2 bedrooms, 2.5 bathrooms, and a library.

These Millennium towers are popping up all over the place. The relatively modest 15-story Millennium Place just down Washington street from the new tower was completed in 2013. And a 58-story Millennium Tower opened in 2009 in the South of Market district in downtown San Francisco. That one is sinking and leaning.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Trump Gets Tangled in the Rigging as Cannonballs Bounce Off Old Ironsides

On the Monday morning of ‎September ‎26, ‎2016 before the first debate, Donald Trump seemed to have drawn even with Hillary Clinton, a position he had held briefly in July. FiveThirtyEight.com put his odds of winning if the election were held that day at 54.9%:



Then she turned on him and her whole fleet began firing broadsides. First, she baited him with a Miss Universe from Venezuela while the press poked him about his $916 million tax loss. He fired back that her husband is a rapist. Then he was exposed in some locker room boy talk with Billy Bush. The Great Donald foundered on the reef of Low Energy Jeb's first cousin Billy? Say it isn't so!

Donald Trump tried to right himself by bringing 4 Clinton accusers to the second debate. Since then, the press has pounded the Donald with 9 women and counting. It began to occur to Donald that the U.S.S Clinton Campaign has spent the last 18 months setting its rigging for this run at the Presidency. Why didn't he do the same? By October 11, FiveThirtyEight.com had dropped Trump's odds of winning to 11.8%. That's drawn and quartered.

Meanwhile, Julian Assange of Wikileaks has been firing salvo after salvo at Hillary Clinton from his internet turret at the Ecuadorian embassy in London. Those cannonballs are just bouncing off Old Ironsides. She seems impervious to either the direct hits or the indirect fire falling on her husband.

The rats have already deserted the sinking Trump ship. "Women and children first," shouted the boy wonder U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan. Just how far has Trump fallen? President Obama called Trump out for "whining before the game's even over".

I wouldn't give up on Trump just yet. He may have been thrown a lifeline in the last debate. His odds of winning have edged up to 13.1% if the election were held today. In terms of states he would have to win, here's where he was at his high water mark on September 26:



In the ebb that has followed, Hillary Clinton has reclaimed Colorado, Nevada, Florida, and North Carolina and possibly Ohio, Arizona, and Iowa. The big unknown question is whether the tide can shift again in the final 3 weeks of the campaign as much as it has in the past 3 weeks.

As Trump edges back up in the polls, which seems likely to continue, it's going to be excruciating for many of my friends and neighbors on the left. They are beginning to imagine him shouting "I have not yet begun to fight!" as he rejects the results on the night of the election. The real John Paul Jones did go into service with the Russians after he fought in our revolution for us.

But I've learned to stop worrying and love the Donald. All Trump's talk of a rigged election may just be setting himself up to run again in 2020. And what what if I told you that the most important piece of rigging was a phone call from Bill Clinton to Donald Trump back in May 2015 encouraging him to run? If he's flying a false flag, I expect he'll be back to ensure Hillary gets a second term.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Stood up on My First Uber Ride



Was it just as well that I missed Dzhavanshyr's Dodge Caravan van?

Monday, August 29, 2016

End of the Summer on the Charles River - 2016

I don't know when the gondoliers and guitar players appeared on the Charles River. The Yelp reviews claim to go back a decade but there aren't that many of them and I just hadn't noticed until I bicycled through this Sunday. Maybe it was the sunset, maybe it was the last weekend in August.


The guitar player was not Dar Williams and was not playing this song:

Sunday, August 21, 2016

My Final Five on the Blame It on Rio Olympics

In no particular order, here are a few thoughts as the rain falls on the 2016 Rio Olympics closing ceremony on my TV in the background.

1. Brazil's story, a negotiated settlement that may or may not have been at gunpoint, is just as fishy as Ryan Lochte's. I like Ryan's touch of explaining his original over-exaggeration by saying that he was "still intoxicated" from his wild night of partying when he did the first interview that got the snowball rowing. Personally, I think if you ask your cabbie to stop someplace with a bathroom you can use, and he doesn't, it's on the cabbie. And that first interviewer may have some explaining to do.

2. Volleyball is more interesting to watch than basketball, even when played in the sand by mid-aged women in bikinis. Handball is a stupid sport. I was disappointed to miss the equestrian events but not to miss golf and tennis. Balance beam in women's gymnastics requires the most courage.

3. Those GE ads were annoying. I'll bet Rick marries the Asian-American chick and one or both of them ends up running GE, while Sarah becomes an embittered old cat lady after learning she makes less than Earl. If I have to see another ad or trailer for Bridget Jones's Baby. I am going to vote for Trump.

4. Listening to the Brazilian announcers, every time Team U.S.A. won a medal, Estados Unidos da America won one too. We'd better watch out for Tostadas Unix/DOS (if that's the correct translation to American English) or America will be toast.

5. Who won these Olympic Games? Not the U.S. if you adjust for population. In the large country division (100 million or greater), the U.S. got the most gold per capita but was second to Russia in total medals, Japan gets the bronze. In the medium-sized country division (more than 20 million but less 100 million), the gold per capita goes to Great Britain, silver to France, and bronze to Canada. In the small country division (less than 20 million but at least 10 medals), Jamaica got by far the most gold per capita, but was second to New Zealand for total medals, with Denmark getting the bronze. I'd show my math, but that would be boring.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Sunday, July 31, 2016

The Four Day Methodist Revival Meeting Is Over

By that I mean the Democratic National Convention, which ended Thursday night. Hillary Clinton's speech contained the theme:
My mother, Dorothy, ... made sure I learned the words of our Methodist faith: “Do all the good you can, for all the people you can, in all the ways you can, as long as ever you can.”
Her Vice President candidate Tim Kaine said this shorter version:
Hillary Clinton and I ... share this basic belief, it’s simple. Do all the good you can and serve one another.
Methodist minister William Shilled worked the full version of the old Methodist saying into his benediction:
Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can.
That's enough to make one tired thinking of all the work that may be involved. However, unlike 8 years ago where "Yes we can" was to be as judged by Democrats Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, today "all the good you can" will likely be judged by Republicans Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

For Hillary, Death by a Thousand Email Cuts

The Hillary Clinton campaign is facing another email scandal, with emails just released on WikiLeaks showing that the ostensibly-neutral Democratic National Committee was secretly helping Hillary in her primary campaign against Bernie Sanders. Well, it was't really a secret. But now it's been proved beyond any shadow of a doubt.

Of course, you can argue that there is nothing wrong with Democrats in the party apparatus working to prevent their party from being hijacked by the Socialist Bernie Sanders. Indeed, you might even tout how much better a job they did than the RNC apparatus in its efforts to stop Donald Trump. But the Democrats need Bernie's voters in the race against Trump, so that argument won't be made.

WikiLeaks, I've always thought, was the real reason Hillary used her own email server when she was Secretary of State. The small "s" socialists behind that project of getting like-minded hackers and low level IT people to steal emails and other electronic documents would have loved to have gotten all of Hillary's emails. That would have been one hell of a document dump.

Hillary can't make that defense either - that she trusted some small independent contractor more than all the resources of the big federal government. But we aren't reading her emails on WikiLeaks. I'll bet Debbie Wasserman Schulz is wishing the DNC had used a reliable private email server.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

No Joy in Trumpville, Melania Is Caught Out

Say it isn't so! When Melania Trump stepped up to the podium Monday night at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, her speech appeared to hit it out of the park. But, as she rounded the bases, the ball which had been headed for the center-right field bleachers just seemed to drop. Caught out, for plagiarism.

And not just plagiarizing anyone, but the wife of the putative antichrist, Michelle Obama. It would not have been a worse gaffe if she had cribbed directly from her husband's opponent Hillary Clinton.

Melania (2016):
"From a young age, my parents impressed on me the values that you work hard for what you want in life, that your word is your bond and you do what you say and keep your promise, that you treat people with respect. They taught and showed me values and morals in their daily lives. That is a lesson that I continue to pass along to our son. And we need to pass those lessons on to the many generations to follow. Because we want our children in this nation to know that the only limit to your achievements is the strength of your dreams and your willingness to work for them."
Michelle (2008):
"And Barack and I were raised with so many of the same values: that you work hard for what you want in life; that your word is your bond and you do what you say you're going to do; that you treat people with dignity and respect, even if you don't know them, and even if you don't agree with them. And Barack and I set out to build lives guided by these values, and to pass them on to the next generation. Because we want our children -- and all children in this nation -- to know that the only limit to the height of your achievements is the reach of your dreams and your willingness to work for them."
The Trump campaign issued a statement that only compounds the gaffe:
"In writing her beautiful speech, Melania's team of writers took notes on her life’s inspirations, and in some instances included fragments that reflected her own thinking. Melania's immigrant experience and love for America shone through in her speech, which made it such a success.”
Now I agree that it is Team Trump and not Melania that deserves the blame. They gave her a bad bat, and she just swung away. But aren't they, perhaps the same clueless hack writers that botched the speech, offering the excuse that Melania's thinking was in part inspired by and reflects the thinking of Michelle Obama?
Oh, somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright;
the band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light,
Michelle Obama's laughing, and all the Clintons shout;
but there is no joy in Trumpville — Melania was caught out.
Yes, I plagiarized that from Ernest Thayer.

Tonight, the convention will be hearing from children of Donald Trump's first and second marriages, Donald Trump, Jr. and Tiffany Trump. I hope for their sake that Donald Junior and Tiffany have fact checkers working overtime on their speeches. Talk about coming up to bat in a pressure situation.

Update: The Trump campaign hacks did get wise and started suggesting that they had in fact cribbed from My Little Pony, which is so much better, politically, than from Michelle Obama.

Update: The Lazy Daily Strumpet Farmer reports that the copying happened because Melania and Michelle shared the same speechwriter, Navin R. Johnson, The Jerk!

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Feed the Birds! Trumppence Gets a Comeuppance

Donald Trump has devalued his own currency by picking Indiana Govenor Mike Pence as his running mate and then selecting this as their new campaign logo:



One can imagine the meeting with the graphic designer. Don't use a simple TP because that implies toilet paper, do something artistic. A lot of people on the internet are suggesting that the T is being inserted into the P in a manner that is definitely NSFW (not safe for work). Or, less obscene and more scatalogical, it's a closeup of a man making use of the room where the toilet paper is kept.

To me it seems to vaguely desecrate the U.S. Flag. And what's with the 7 stripes, one for each of the original seven states in the Confederated Sates of America?

If you look closely, might there be a subliminal hammer and sickle message to communists, with a T for the hammer and a P for the sickle:



Looking past the logo, I'm seeing Trumppence and wanting to feed the birds:



This may not end well for Trumppence:



Update: Perhaps noticing a subliminal hammer and sickle was not so crazy: In her speech at the convention, Melania Trump described herself as "born in Slovenia, a small, beautiful and then communist country in Central Europe." Could it be that at the heart of the Trump campaign is a small, beautiful communist?

Friday, June 24, 2016

Brexit Reveals Donald Trump Is Real James Bond

Today in the United Kingdom it was Brexit for breakfast, Trump for lunch:
"The people of the United Kingdom have exercised the sacred right of all free peoples. They have declared their independence from the European Union and have voted to reassert control over their own politics, borders and economy. A Trump Administration pledges to strengthen our ties with a free and independent Britain, deepening our bonds in commerce, culture and mutual defense. The whole world is more peaceful and stable when our two countries – and our two peoples – are united together, as they will be under a Trump Administration.”
When I first heard Donald Trump had flown to Scotland just in advance of the Brexit vote, I assumed he had gone to renew his Scottish passport and cast his ballot. Now I am sure Trump is a secret sleeper agent of the Queen sent here to undo American independence.

His name is Trump, Donald Trump, Agent OO0 on her majesty’s secret service.

FU to EU: Britain has Brexit for Breakfast

The results are in overnight, and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland has voted to leave the European Union, 51.9% to 48.1%. I guess that answers the question everyone in Britain has been asking.



The vote was expected to be close, but the pro-EU elites expected to eke out a win. It didn't help that EU officials were threatening how hard they would make it on the UK to leave. Now financial markets are in full panic mode, with the Euro down 3.58% and the British Pound down 11%, as the everyone tries to get their money out of both the UK and the EU.



Now the United Kingdom faces the fact that Scotland and Northern Ireland voted to stay in the EU while England and Wales voted to leave. Does that mean Scotland and Northern Ireland will leave the United Kingdom? Does the European Union even want them? Will other countries want to leave the EU? Might some countries be kicked out?



I was in London in 1991 for about 10 days at the time when the European Union was first being hyped. I remember a young grad student from Germany going on and on a little too enthusiastically about how great it was going to be.

Update: The stock markets across the world were generally down Friday following the Brexit vote but took some curious bounces:

CountryIndexChange
WorldGlobal DOW-5.41%
United KingdomFTSE 100-3.15%
United KingdomFTSE 250-7.19%
FranceCAC 40 -8.04%
GermanyDAX-6.82%
NetherlandsAEX-5.70%
SpainIBEX 35-12.35%
ItalyFTSE MIB-12.48%
SwitzerlandSwiss Market-3.44%
RussiaRTS Index-3.04%
United StatesDJIA-3.39%
CanadaS & P/TSX Comp-1.69%
MexicoIPC All-Share-2.73%
JapanNikkei 300-7.38%
ChinaDow Jones China 88 -1.34%
IndiaS & P BSE Sensex-2.24%

In the United Kingdom, the largest companies fared better than average but medium-sized companies were clobbered. Germany, France, and Netherlands got clobbered worse than the big companies in the United Kingdom (better to be the jilter than the jilted, I guess). Spain and Italy got hit even worse, suggesting people think they're next (probably to be kicked out of the EU). Switzerland and Russia, which are in Europe but not in the EU, fared better than average, as did the U.S., Canada and Mexico fared better than average. In Asia, Japan got clobbered but China and India got off light.

How much money was lost Friday? $2.08 trillion globally according to S&P. In real terms, zero. The stock markets reflect investor confidence about the future which is essentially a figment of the collective imagination. When rich people panic, they sell, and other rich people who aren't so panicked buy. When the rich people get over their panic, or events prove them wrong, stock prices go back up.

We'll see what happens Monday, but right now this looks at most like a six to twelve month setback, as compared to the ten year hole that was dug in 2008.

Update: Here in the U.S., at least, the stock market has recovered from the Brexit slump after just a week.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Cambridge Enters End of School Zone

To my small town Iowa upbringing, it seems barbaric to make kids attend school into June. But today in Cambridge is finally the last day of school, a little earlier than many years because of the lack of snow days this past winter. Be sure to watch out for the little miscreants.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Always Something a Little Off About Canada

The clean and inviting cab line at the well-designed and uncrowded airport:

The well-manicured public lawns and the flag you otherwise only see at hockey games:

The funny see-through plastic money:

The invasion of the jelly fish:



Saturday, June 18, 2016

Problem That Can Be Solved with Large Rock

The demolition crew that took down a friend's garage with a beach shower at the back cut the hot and cold water pipes a bit above ground level and at a perfect angle for impaling a foot.

Before:


After:

Friday, June 17, 2016

The Boston Globe Goes Full Rambo on Orlando



I am one of those non-gun-owners who supports the Second Amendment right to bear arms but also common-sense gun regulations.

My one experience a couple of decades ago firing a few rounds from an AR-15 was shooting at a small tree on a river bank 20 yards away. I couldn't hit the tree, the gun's owner decided I was wasting ammunition, and suggested that if I wanted to protect myself I should get a shotgun. I didn't. The time I shot traps with a shotgun on Jimmy Carter's nickel as part of the Youth Conservation Corps, I was only 2 for 4. My one time shooting skeet, at a cousin's memorial event a few years back, I was hitting less than 50%.

You have to wonder what kind of well-regulated militia lets a guy who was fired from a prison guard job for an "administrative matter", removed from armed security guard duty at a courthouse after complaints he was unhinged and unstable, and subject to an FBI investigation regarding possible affiliation with terrorists walk into a gun store and walk out with the lives of forty-nine of our fellow Americans. But it's hard to find much common sense in The Boston Globe's editorial response to the Orlando Pulse nightclub massacre:
"The United States has been pummeled by gun violence since the assault weapons ban expired in 2004. This year, mass shootings have already claimed 61 lives. One class of gun, semiautomatic rifles, is largely responsible. ... Since the assault weapons ban expired in 2004, there have been

47 mass shootings
411 people killed
0 successful attempts to reinstate the ban
Yes, 411 people killed in 12 years is a lot, but not all of those were killed by semiautomatic rifles and there have been somewhere in the neighborhood of 130,000 gun deaths by homicide in the same period.
"AMERICAN RETIREES ARE LIVING OFF OF GUN SALES. Some of the largest investors in gun companies are average Americans who own index funds in their workplace retirement plans. If you have a 401(k) plan with Vanguard Group, in all likelihood you own gun stocks — and you’ve done well off it."
This "fact" was immediately followed by this grapes to water melons comparison:
"The Boston Public School system’s 2015 budget was $975 million ... the 2015 revenue from manufacturing guns and ammunition was $15 billion; more than 15 times the BPS budget."
Let's at least talk apples to oranges: $15 billion in gun sales to $620 billion spent nationwide on public school education. Apples to apples: $15 billion in gun sales to $18.558 trillion in gross domestic product. No, American retirees are not living off gun sales, not even a tenth of a penny.

And picking on Vanguard Group out the blue? At least they didn't single out one of our Boston-based mutual fund employers (although I'll bet the first draft did). The Boston Globe has reached Donald Trump level of dumb.

The editorial does make a good case for universal background checks, which it doesn't mention we already have here in Massachusetts, but that also needs to be buttressed by reporting or screening for the types of things that should get someone like the Orlando shooter, the Fort Hood shooter, and a good many of the other mass and non-mass shooters on the no buy list. But the editorial doesn't ask for either of those things, only for a semiautomatic rifle ban.

The Globe has a lot of hand wringing about "legislative paralysis" but I have to ask whether the gun control advocates understand that they are their own worst enemy and perhaps a large part of the impediment to getting anything sensible done. My Congresswoman, Katherine Clark, boycotted the moment of silence for the Orlando shooting victims. In a curious coincidence, Congresswoman Clark got confronted by local police officers armed with long guns after someone called in a hoax about shots fired and an active shooter at her home address just this past winter. So, she may deserve a pass but I still wonder what legislative action her boycott will actually help get accomplished.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Sanders Berned Out Because Minorities Aren't Socialists

Bernie Sanders may take his candidacy to the Democratic National Convention in July but he has been beaten here in June with the last vote yesterday in 64% nonwhite Washington, DC vividly illustrating the reason why. Just compare the 2008 vote in in Washington, DC to 2016:

CandidatePercentage
2008 Barack Obama75.3%
2008 Hillary Clinton23.8%
2016 Hillary Clinton78.7%
2016 Bernie Sanders21.1%

Bernie may have hoped to reignite the voter coalition that carried Barack Obama to victory over Hillary Clinton. He may even have made inroads against Hillary among young white women voters, but he got a cool reception from a key constituency. Minority voters did not Feel the Bern, or they felt it in a negative way. You can see it on the national map too. Bernie just couldn't attract the states with large percentages of black voters across the South.

2008 Map (Barack in purple, Hillary in yellow):

Democratic presidential primary, 2008.svg

2016 Map (Bernie in green, Hillary in yellow):

Democratic Party presidential primaries results, 2016.svg

Why? Bernie supporters certainly noticed, and had explanations - the most vacuous and perhaps insulting of which was that minorities were "unfamiliar with Bernie Sanders."

This lack of minority support came as a great surprise to the socialists supporting Bernie Sanders. A great many minority politicians and intellectual figures are socialists, why not the minority grassroots? It made some Bernie supporters downright angry that they weren't getting the minority vote.

My theory is simple: minorities aren't socialists. For African Americans particularly, slavery was the ultimate form of wealth redistribution, Jim Crow its inbred cousin. And why would you favor a system of government that propounds that the majority can tax and redistribute if you're are a minority? I ask this from my libertarian sensibility, the minority of one.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Can Hillary Survive the Vast Left Wing Conspiracy?

What to make of the State Department Office of Inspector General’s report on emailgate:
"The OIG found no evidence that the Secretary requested or obtained guidance or approval to conduct official business via a personal email account on her private server."

"At a minimum, Secretary Clinton should have surrendered all emails dealing with Department business before leaving government service and, because she did not do so, she did not comply with the Department's policies that were implemented in accordance with the Federal Records Act."
The thing to consider is just who Hillary was hiding her emails from. Was it Freedom of Information requests from the public? Was it Congress? Or was it her frenemies in the Obama administration including people they embedded into her own State Department? Yes, the true victim in the email scandal is Hillary's far left frenemies.

No surprise in a contested Democratic primary that some in the Obama administration still hope to tilt the nomination to Bernie. Here's the end game: Run Hillary down in the next two weeks in the hopes that Bernie does very well in California and the other states voting in the primaries on June 7. If Bernie can close the gap enough to take the fight to the super delegates, the next step might be to indict Hillary in mid-June, after it's too late to substitute a replacement centrist in the final primaries. That's the threat. Getting the indictment may take more guts then they actually have.

It's a nice little political squeeze play, because if Hillary gets past it she builds up further immunities and resistance to attacks on the private email server issue, so it doesn't necessarily throw the election to Trump. At the same time, Republicans are quite willing to play along as co-conspirators. And there's full deniability if it doesn't work out. At worst, the blame goes on the Bern.

Consider this alternative history of the Monica Lewinsky scandal: The far left was wary of the deals Bill Clinton might cut with Republicans in Congress after the 1994 Congressional elections and longed for Vice President Al Gore to become President in his stead. So they found a young woman who was fresh out of a long-running affair with her former Beverly Hills High School drama instructor that began or continued during her college years in Portland, Oregon. They put her in a White House internship and let nature take its course. Then they moved her to a new job at the Pentagon next to a gossipy Republican. When the gossip got back to Ken Starr, the Republican independent counsel already investigating Bill Clinton, he went to the Attorney General Janet Reno and got secret permission to expand his investigation and entrap the President into perjuring himself.

Nowhere else in the history of Attorney Generals has one authorized a secret entrapment of the Attorney's General's own boss, the President, without leaking the secret to the President. That's proof Janet Reno was in on the conspiracy. When Hillary Clinton called the Lewinsky scandal a "vast right wing conspiracy" she was half right. But I suspect she always knew that in truth it was a vast left wing conspiracy. And perhaps it wasn't even that vast, it might have required only 2 or 3 people. Now she must face down another one.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

April Will Be the Cruelest Month, for Ted Cruz

April is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land
Ted Cruz should be riding high off his win in Wisconsin last night, but his victory speech didn't sound it, and that's because he can smell the lilacs coming up in the Atlantic Coast primaries later this month. Forget the polls, here are the odds, according to Pivit:

State Date Delegates Trump Cruz Kasich
New York April 19 95 99% 1% 1%
Connecticut April 26 28 93% 5% 2%
Delaware April 26 16 92% 8% <1%
Maryland April 26 38 68% 32% <1%
Pennsylvania April 26 71 87% 13% <1%
Rhode Island April 26 19 92% 6% <1%
Indiana May 3 57 18% 82% <1%
Nebraska May 10 36 2% 98% <1%
West Virginia May 10 34 84% 16% <1%
Oregon May 17 28 20% 80% <1%
Washington May 24 44 17% 83% <1%
California June 7 172 58% 42% <1%
Montana June 7 27 2% 98% <1%
New Jersey June 7 51 97% 2% 1%
New Mexico June 7 24 27% 73% <1%
South Dakota June 7 29 7% 93% <1%

So Ted Cruz is likely to lose the next 6 contests. The month of May may be better for Cruz, where he is in line to win 4 of 5 states, unless his voters lose faith, which could very well happen under the crush of April's cruelties. If he can keep his voters motivated, we're off to the contested convention, with my calculations showing Donald Trump finishing with 1190 delegates, just short of the 1237 he needs to clinch before the convention. I have a theory about the contested convention: either Donald Trump will be the nominee or he'll get to pick the nominee.

The Democrats may have a contested convention too. Because of their super-delegate system, Hillary Clinton would have to win close to 60% of the elected delegates to win the nomination outright before the convention. But she's 2.4 million votes ahead of Bernie Sanders, even after her loss in Wisconsin last night, so I imagine she'll be able to hunt up enough delegates in the end.

Update 4/27/2016: Donald Trump now looks to have overtaken Ted Cruz in Oregon, Washington, and New Mexico which puts him on track in my ledger for 1277 delegates which is 40 more than he would need to clinch the nomination.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Dime Bags? We Don't Need No Stinkin' Dime Bags

Just what was the Cambridge City Council smoking when they passed the new dime bag ordinance which took effect on March 31, 2016, April Fools' Day Eve?

The new rules were very helpfully explained on this sign at the supermarket checkout:



This version appeared at the pharmacy checkout and at all manner of retail stores across the city ("Together, we can reduce waste and protect the environment"):



In other words, those evilly convenient "single use plastic bags" with the easy-to-carry handles are banned. You can still ask for a paper bag:



That will cost you a dime plus a penny for sales tax, if you accurately declare the number of bags you are taking at the self check-out:



Or, you can bring your own bag. I now have six, three cloth and three heavy plastic, as a couple of well-meaning charitable organizations keeping sending me bags. But there is a lot of material in one reusable, so having six reduces the net savings for the environment:



Stores can substitute compostable plastic bags made from materials "capable of undergoing biological decomposition in a compost site such that the material breaks down into carbon dioxide, water, inorganic compounds and biomass at a rate consistent with known compostable materials." But so far, stores are having none of that, and the old plastic bad dispensers at the checkout are empty:





You can still get some plastic bags for free. The Cambridge City Council didn't have the nerve to eliminate or charge for the plastic bags you get at the supermarket in the produce or meat aisles:



These also qualify under an exception for bags without handles, because it's that little extra plastic in the handle which makes the bag easier to carry that is evil:



You can make your own handle (don't tell the Cambridge City Council):



My problem is that I have been reusing those bags with plastic handles for lining my trash cans and garbage disposal. It's been years since I have purchased a box of trash or garbage bags - if I have to start again, that's an unintended consequence. Fortunately, I have a secret stash of contraband:

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Donald Trump and the Triumph of the Tea He Party

Donald Trump survived the Ides of March with a win-loss record now of 20 to 12 (19 to 10 if we just count states). But what does it mean? It's the triumph of the Tea Party.

The Tea Party, properly understood, was just as much a protest against the Republican Party as it was against the Obama administration. I was never really a fan. So the economy kicked a little dirt in your face? Welcome to my life, bub.

The angry middle-aged persons (they weren't just white men) who came out for those rallies in 2009, 2010, and early 2011 had disappeared by 2012, seemingly discredited by the death of Osama Bin Laden, disgrace of Herman Cain, and poor showing of Michelle Bachmann in the 2012 Republican Presidential primaries. But now they are back, throwing punches, and casting votes.

It's not just Donald Trump. The Tea Party Class of 2010 included Ted Cruz getting elected as U.S. Senator for Texas, Marco Rubio as U.S. Senator for Florida, John Kasich as Governor of Ohio, Chris Christie as Governor of New Jersey, and Rand Paul as U.S. Senator for Kentucky. Carly Fiornia tried and fell short of getting elected U.S. Senator for California in 2010. Ben Carson counts himself as Tea Party too.

As a group, they have gotten 98.5% of the vote in the 2016 Republican primaries so far, while the candidates with more traditional Republican roots - Jeb Bush, Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum, and Jim Gilmore - only getting only 1.5% (19,950,541 to 313,575). The Republican grass has been pulled out by the roots and left to dry in the late winter sun.

What does the Tea Party want? "Taxed Enough Already" was the original backronym. But it was never really just or even primarily about taxes. "Had Enough" does better service. As Donald Trump moves on to clinch the Republican nomination, as he almost certainly will, perhaps it should be renamed the HE Party.

Can HE win in November? So far in the primaries there have been 7.5 million votes cast for Donald Trump and 8.7 million for Hillary Clinton. But look at the almost 20 million votes for all the Tea Party candidates versus less than 15 million combined on the Democratic side for Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. Will all those Republicans support Donald Trump? HE is mad and Hillary Clinton is Wall Street friendly, the old school Republicans might decide. That may be what SHE is counting on.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Force Protection Condition Bravo at My Cambridge Polling Place

I got up this morning and took my Jeep in for an oil change and new shock absorbers. Then I went to vote at the Cambridge Armory. It got a bit surreal.

Force Protection Condition Bravo means "increased or more predictable threat of terrorist activity exists." If we were in the immediate area where a terrorist attack was occurring, a National Guardsman would come round to screw out the plate with the Bravo warning and screw in the plate with the Delta warning.

Then it was was shades of 2012 and Clint Eastwood's chair:
Was I supposed to vote here in the chair or over there in the direction the blue arrow pointed? I sat in the chair for over an hour figuring that one out.

Then came the color coded ballots, arranged in descending order by our Cambridge poll workers: red for Democratic Party, green for Green-Rainbow Party, blue for Republican Party, and purple for United Independent Party. Feel the hillariously subliminal bern: the Democratic Party ballot is decidedly more pink than red.

If you're wondering why purple didn't get put ahead of blue, there were no actual candidate names on the United Independent Party ballot. I was tempted to request the purple ballot and write my name in for Ward Committee, State Committee Man, State Committee Woman, and Presidential preference as a perfect unity ticket.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Get Ready for 3 Weeks of Snowballing Trump

If you thought Donald Trump didn't have a snowball's chance in hell, it's real clear that the ball has begun to gather snow as it rolls downhill:

StateDateDelegatesPoll Lead
NevadaFebruary 2330Trump +21.0%
Georgia March 176Trump +9.7%
TexasMarch 1172Cruz +6.7%
Massachusetts March 142Trump +24.0%
Minnesota March 138Trump +6.0%
Oklahoma March 143Trump +7.5%
Arkansas March 140Cruz +4.0%
Tennessee March 158Trump +4.0%
Alabama March 150Trump +21.0%
Colorado March 137Carson +6.0%
Virginia March 149Trump +6.0%
Alaska March 128Trump +4.0%
Louisiana March 547Carson +4.0%
Kentucky March 545Paul +6.0%
Kansas March 523Christie +13.0%
MichiganMarch 859Trump +19.2%
Mississippi March 840Trump +7.0%
Florida March 1599Trump +21.0%
North CarolinaMarch 1572Trump +9.0%
Illinois March 1569Trump +3.0%
Ohio March 1566Trump +5.0%
Missouri March 1551Trump +12.0%

In other words, Trump is poised to go from 2 wins and 1 loss to 18 wins and 7 losses at the halfway mark of 25 states. Keep in mind, some of these states have not been polled in months, and the favorites have since peaked or dropped out.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Althouse Gets Blocked for Porno Content

It's an outrage! I can't read one of my favorite blogs, written by Ann Althouse, the Robert W. & Irma Arthur-Bascom Professor of Law at the University of Wisconsin Law School, because she has been blocked for pornography:



I already have to do without Natalie Tran's Porno Music/Comment Time (which is being blocked for YouTube discrimination not pornography):



At least Bitdefender has not yet caught The Lazy Daily Strumpet Farmer blog.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Can Donald Trump Run the Table in February?

On the eve of the Iowa caucus let's forget the polls again and look at the odds:

Candidate 11/11/20151/31/2016
Hillary Clinton 45.7% 50%
Donald Trump 9.9% 16%
Marco Rubio 15.8% 11%
Bernie Sanders 7.9% 10%
Ted Cruz 3.0% 9%
Michael Bloomberg - 2%
Jeb Bush 5.7% 1%
Chris Christie 1.9% 1%
Ben Carson 3.8% -
John Kasich 1.6% -
Carly Fiorina 1.3% -
Mike Huckabee 1.0% -
Rand Paul 0.5% -
Martin O'Malley 0.5% -
Rick Santorum 0.4% -
Bobby Jindal 0.4% -
Lindsey Graham 0.3% -
George Pataki 0.3% -

For now, the smart money is still sticking with Hillary Clinton. Since November, Donald Trump has moved up a slot and Marco Rubio has moved down. It's fair to say that Trump was always leading Rubio, but there was some expectation Trump would fade and Rubio would become the front-runner. Ted Cruz has also moved up, despite questions about his eligibility.

Moreover, Trump is poised to run the table in February:
Candidate Iowa
2/1/2016
New Hampshire
2/9/2016
South Carolina
2/20/2016
Nevada
2/23/2016
Donald Trump 69% 82% 68% 50%
Ted Cruz 29% 4% 30% 33%
Marco Rubio 1% 4% 5% 15%
John Kasich 1% 4% 1% 1%
Jeb Bush 1% 2% 1% -

That would put Trump's raw odds (if these were just coin flips) at 19% to run the table and win all four delegate contests in February. However, these are not independent events, and a sweep would create tremendous momentum going into the Super Tuesday primaries and caucuses in 13 states on March 1.


Update 2/2/2016:Trump didn't buy the farm in Iowa, but he did say he was thinking about buying one in his second place victory/concession speech. His odds of sweeping the remaining 3 contests in February has dropped to 13%. I'm guessing he saw his shadow in New Hampshire on Groundhog Day.

Update 2/10/2016:Trump's win in New Hampshire put him back on track. His betting odds to sweep both South Carolina and Nevada are now at 32.5%. But while Donald Trump's 100,406 NH votes beat the 95,252 for Hillary Clinton they finished second to the for 151,584 Bernie Sanders. In total, the 246,836 votes cast for Hillary and Bernie on the Democratic side trailed 279,130 for the Republican field. Uh oh.

Update 2/21/2016:Trump has won all the delegates in South Carolina on the strength of his 32.5% first place showing and is now the 82% favorite to win Nevada. Cruz, the Iowa winner, has had to settle for 2 third place finishes and may suffer another Tuesday in Nevada.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Two Corinthians Walk Into a Lapsed Presbyterian

Donald Trump has reportedly gaffed away the evangelical vote. He failed the shibboleth by reading the New Testament verse 2 Corinthians 3:17 as "Two Corinthians" rather than as the more authentic-sounding "Second Corinthians" in a speech Monday to students at Liberty University, a Southern Baptist college in Lynchburg, Virginia.
And the Gileadites took the passages of Jordan before the Ephraimites: and it was so, that when those Ephraimites which were escaped said, Let me go over; that the men of Gilead said unto him, Art thou an Ephraimite? If he said, Nay;

Then said they unto him, Say now Shibboleth: and he said Sibboleth: for he could not frame to pronounce it right. Then they took him, and slew him at the passages of Jordan: and there fell at that time of the Ephraimites forty and two thousand.

Judges 12:5-6 (KJV)
Let's consider the possibilities here:

(1) Trump doesn't know his Bible.

(2) Trump got his Bible learning from reading rather than listening. That is, he's seen it written 2 Corinthians and so that is how he assumed it was said. When I went to college I got laughed at for mispronouncing Sigmund Freud's last name. We knew who he was in rural Southwest Iowa where I grew up, we just didn't sit around on the couch all day talking about him.

(3) Trump got his Bible quote from his speechwriter, who wrote the citation in shorthand rather than in the longhand way Trump would speak it, and Trump tripped over it in the delivery because he knew it was wrong as he was reading it.

(4) Trump got the habit of saying 2 Corinthians from his mother, Mary Anne MacLeod, who was natural-born Scotswoman. No true Scotsman says Second Corinthians, proving Trump is not a natural born U.S. citizen. But I digress. It was probably the speechwriter.

Trump gave himself away a long time ago, by insisting to reporters "I'm a Protestant, I'm a Presbyterian" in response to questions of whether he really was a Christian. No true Presbyterian would tout that to get votes. It doesn't work, as you'd be sure to lose the Baptist vote.

And how did the Bible verse that Trump correctly but "inauthentically" cited go over among the students of Liberty University:
Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.
On the word "liberty" the snickering of the Liberty U. students turned to cheering. For that audience, Trump had the right shibboleth.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Edward IX Is Not Eligible to Be President of the United States of America

If Ted Cruz's theory of natural-born citizenship is correct, had King Edward VIII of Great Britain, Ireland, and of the British Dominions beyond the Seas and Emperor of India not abdicated his throne when he married American Wallis Simpson, they could have given birth to a child, I'll call him Edward IX, who would have been eligible under the Constitution to be President of the United States of America.

That's essentially Ted Cruz's legal situation. He was born on December 22, 1970 in Calgary, a city in the Canadian Province of Alberta, to an American mother and a non-American father. While he may have been eligible for U.S. citizenship at birth, he was also a natural born citizen of Canada and a subject of the monarch of Canada, Queen Elizabeth II. He says he renounced that citizenship, which he claims he didn't know he had, in 2014.

But how do we know where his true allegiances lie? The Constitution doesn't take any chances:
"No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any Person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States."
So where does that leave Rafael Edward Cruz, or Edward IX as I shall now call him? It leaves him waving his mother's birth certificate to prove his natural-born citizenship, not his own, the one that proves he is not eligible.

He can run for President, there is no Constitutional prohibition on running just on eligibility to serve. If he wins, I suppose that Edward IX could serve as a kind of faux President in the figurehead style of current European and Canadian monarchs. So long as his Vice President meets the Constitutional requirements for the Office of President and countersigns all of Edward IX's official acts, who can complain? Well, everyone can complain, we all know that.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Obama to Rape Survivor: You'll Shoot Your Eye Out

I am a supporter of a well-regulated militia, and the sensible regulations that term calls for in connection with the right to keep and bear arms under the Second Amendment. However, finding sensible politicians who can write and enforce sensible regulations can be a problem.

President Obama kicked off the CNN town hall on Guns in America hosted by Anderson Cooper this Thursday with this eye-rolling story about campaigning in Iowa:
"OBAMA: I'll tell you a story that, I think, indicates how I see the issue. Back in 2007, 2008, when I was campaigning, I'd leave Chicago, a city which is wonderful -- I couldn't be prouder of my city -- but where, every week, there's a story about a young person getting shot.

Some are gang members, and it's turf battles. Sometimes it's innocent victims.

COOPER: Fifty-five people have been shot in Chicago in the last seven days.

OBAMA: Sometimes it's happened just a few blocks from my house, and I live in a reasonably good neighborhood on the south side of Chicago. So that's one image. All right? Talking to families who've gone through the pain of losing somebody because of violence in Chicago, gun violence.

Michelle and I are, then, campaigning out in Iowa, and we're going to farms, and we're going to counties, and at one point, Michelle turned to me, and she said, you know, if I was living in a farmhouse where the sheriff's department is pretty far away and somebody can just turn off the highway and come up to the farm, I'd want to have a shotgun or a rifle to make sure that I was protected and my family was protected. And she was absolutely right."
I've heard the President tell this story before and it always makes me laugh, because my grandparents lived in Iowa farmhouses for their first 70+ years, and I've lived there myself, most recently for 2 months in the summer of 2011. The chances of becoming a victim of violent crime in the city of in Chicago is 1 in 111 (much higher in some neighborhoods, lower in others). In Iowa, the chances are 1 in 368. In other words, Iowa is 70% safer than Chicago.

Note: The chances of becoming a victim of violent crime here in Cambridge on the left bank of the Charles River is 1 in 292, which is pretty close to Iowa levels. Neighboring Somerville is even safer at 1 in 410. Across the river in Boston the chances are 1 in 119, which is one reason I always advise that nothing comes from crossing the river.

There was more:
"OBAMA: And so part of the reason I think that this ends up being such a difficult issue is because people occupy different realities. There are a whole bunch of law-abiding citizens who have grown up hunting with their dad or going to the shooting range, and are responsible gun-owners, and then there's the reality that there are neighborhoods around the country where it is easier for a 12- or a 13-year-old to purchase a gun and cheaper than it is for them to get a book."
Now think about that. You can buy the President's two books at Amazon.com, $7.00 for The Audacity of Hope and $8.74 for Dreams from My Father. You can check them out for free at the Cambridge Public Library (I checked, they have several copies of each available). But in certain neighborhoods te President thinks it's easier and cheaper to purchase a gun. That's a different reality, for sure.

Then President Obama gave a little lecture on consumer safety:
"OBAMA: There's nothing else in our lives that we purchase where we don't try to make it a little safer if we can. Traffic fatalities have gone down drastically during my lifetime, and part of it is technology, and part of it is that the National Highway Safety Administration does research, and they figure out, you know what? Seat belts really work.

And, then we pass some laws to make sure seatbelts are fastened.

Air bags make a lot sense, let's try those out. Toys, we say, you know what? We find out that kids are swallowing toys all the time, let's make sure that the toys aren't so small that they swallow them if they're for toddlers, or infants. Medicine, kids can't open Aspirin caps.

Now, the notion that we would not apply the same basic principles to gun ownership as we do to everything else that we own...

COOPER: ... but you...

OBAMA: ... just to try to make them safer, or the notion that anything we do to try to make them safer is somehow a plot to take away guns -- that contradicts what we do to try to create a better life for Americans in every other area of our lives."
But after a very sensible speech from Taya Kyle, author of American Life: A Memoir of Love, War, Faith and Renewal, who is the widow of Chris Kyle, former Navy SEAL and author of American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History, the President was backpedaling:
"OBAMA: What you said about murder rates and violent crime generally is something that we don't celebrate enough. The fact of the matter is that violent crime has been steadily declining across America for a pretty long time. And you wouldn't always know it by watching television, but overall, most cities are much safer than they were 10 years ago or 20 years ago."
So it seems he acknowledges that we are getting a little safer from gun deaths every year. I'd suggest that Chris Kyle might still be alive if he had taken a veteran who was suffering from PTSD and on anti-psychotic medication to a doctor rather than a gun range for therapy, but nobody wants to talk about that.

But where the President really hit the wrong note was in his reply to Kimberly Corban, who was raped in 2006 by a man who broke into her apartment when she was a college student in Colorado:
"CORBAN: As a survivor of rape, and now a mother to two small children -- you know, it seems like being able to purchase a firearm of my choosing, and being able to carry that wherever my -- me and my family are -- it seems like my basic responsibility as a parent at this point.

I have been unspeakably victimized once already, and I refuse to let that happen again to myself or my kids. So why can't your administration see that these restrictions that you're putting to make it harder for me to own a gun, or harder for me to take that where I need to be is actually just making my kids and I less safe?"
The President's reply got off to a good start:
"OBAMA: Well, Kimberly, first of all, obviously -- you know, your story is horrific. The strength you've shown in telling your story and, you know, being here tonight is remarkable, and so -- really proud of you for that.

I just want to repeat that there's nothing that we've proposed that would make it harder for you to purchase a firearm. And -- now, you may be referring to issues like concealed carry, but those tend to be state-by-state decisions, and we're not making any proposals with respect to what states are doing. They can make their own decisions there.

So there really is no -- nothing we're proposing that prevents you or makes it harder for you to purchase a firearm if you need one."
He should have stopped there, but he continued:
"OBAMA: There are always questions as to whether or not having a firearm in the home protects you from that kind of violence, and I'm not sure we can resolve that. People argue it both sides.

What is true is, is that you have to be pretty well trained in order to fire a weapon against somebody who is assaulting you and catches you by surprise.

And what is also true is there's always the possibility that that firearm in a home leads to a tragic accident. You know, we can debate that round or flat.
...
And so, you know, if you look at the statistics, there's no doubt that there are times where somebody who has a weapon has been able to protect themselves and scare off an intruder or an assailant, but what is more often the case is that they may not have been able to protect themselves, but they end up being the victim of the weapon that they purchased themselves. And that is -- that's something that can be debated."
Giving Barack the benefit of the doubt on whether he was calling Kimberly a flat-earther, he sure is suggesting that she will shoot her eye out. Oh fudge.

Mark Kelly, the former astronaut and husband of former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who was shot 5 years ago in a Tuscon mass shooting where six others were killed, had this rhetorical question:
"So, I would like you to explain with 350 million guns in 65 million places, households, from Key West, to Alaska, 350 million objects in 65 million places, if the Federal government wanted to confiscate those objects, how would they do that?"
Mark and Gabby support expanded universal background checks, understandable as her shooter Jared Loughner would not have passed a background check to purchase firearms if anyone in the process were to have spent 5 minutes talking to him.

Any sensible legislation needs to start with the recognition that it's nonsense to think the Federal government can take away the few hundred million guns in the hands of tens of millions of law-abiding citizens or their right to purchase more of them. Those who do put forward such proposals are part of the problem too.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Eating My Way through the Holidays


Taco salad in Beaverton on November 21.


Tillamoo, the latest way to consume Tillamook cheese.


Salmon burger at Skyline Restaurant on November 23.


Salmon ball with Brussels sprouts and squash at New Seasons Market in Raleigh Hills, Portland on November 24.


Salmon ball with brussels sprouts and ham turnover at New Seasons Market in Progress Ridge, Beaverton on November 25.


Thai food on Thanksgiving Eve in Beaverton.


Thanksgiving punch. I could give you the proportions, but that would be telling.


Thanksgiving dinner in Beaverton. The turkey is in there somewhere.


Black Friday ham with leftovers.


Thai roll-ups in Garden Home on November 29.


George's Giant Hamburgers on Pacific Highway in Tigard on November 30.


Christmas Eve dinner in Cambridge. Tenderloin steak and zucchini covered in Stilton cheese with onions, pears and port.


Christmas dinner of sautéed fish at Changsho in Cambridge.


Cookie tray at New Year's Day party in Cambridge.


Reuben sandwich at The Independent in Somerville on January 2.


Apple slices and Danish blue cheese in Cambridge on January 2.


Grilled liver and onions in Cambridge on January 3.

There were 3 or 4 more bloggable meals in that stretch, including a lovely meal in Hillsdale and a great office holiday party at Park, but I don't have pictures.