Saturday, December 24, 2016

Gender Neutral Pronouns

It seems the latest thing around the old student union is the idea of using a "gender neutral" pronoun if you don't know the person's "preferred gender pronoun." Some people even suggest that we let people come up with their own genders.

Now, if we're going to go down this road then we really need to agree on what's sex and what's gender.

According to the American Psychological Association your body determines your sex. Gender refers to the attitudes, feelings, and behaviors that a given culture associates with a person’s physical sex. Obviously Gender is not arbitrary and is very heavily influenced by sex. But it is actually distinct. As for sex, the APA recognizes three sexes, male, female and intersex. Intersex consists of a series of physical conditions in which a person is born with a reproductive or sexual anatomy that doesn't seem to fit the typical definitions of female or male. Intersex folks are believed to consist of about 1,7% of the population. In other words, about as prevalent as people with red hair. Then we get to Transgender. Apparently, the term covers a number of non-conforming psychological cases the best known of which are Transsexuals who feel their gender doesn't match their sex. But apparently there are other definitions which, to be honest, I don't really understand. The famous 51 or 58 or 71, depending upon who you ask, gender options that Facebook provides appear to contain lots of different ways of saying the same thing. For instance Cis Female, Cis Woman, Cisgender Female and Cisgender Woman all mean the same thing; a female who has a feminine gender identity. The latest estimates places the number of transgenders at 0.6% of the population.or about double the previous estimate of 0.3%. The 0.6% number came from a Williams Institute analysis ( Now as I understand it both intersex and transgender types may prefer gender neutral pronouns. I haven't asked all of them so I can't say for sure. Assuming the estimates are correct that would be about 2.3% of the population. According to Pew Research that's greater than the number of Muslims (0.6%), the number of Mormons (1.6%), the number of Hindus (0.7%), the number of Buddhists (0.7%) and the number of Jews (1.9%) in the US so it's not really a minuscule number. Does it seem a little silly? Sure, but I remember people saying the same thing about Ms. back in the 1960s and now it's pretty much standard usage in the business world. Maybe there's a happy medium which isn't completely crazy. The idea of "choose your own pronoun" is obviously nuts but I don't see much of a problem with introducing gender neutral pronouns. If nothing else it will keep me from grinding my teeth when someone uses "she" when the sex is unknown instead of "he" (or they) which are (or were) the traditionally accepted usage in that case.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Thoughts on Trump

Here's the fundamental problem. Trump doesn't take rejection well and he takes being outsmarted by someone even worse. His single biggest weak point is that he's too conceited to listen to the experts and that includes Intelligence experts. Putin is smarter than Trump and I think he has a good handle on Trump's personality foibles. The scenario I see is Putin leading Trump around by his nose while Trump remains convinced that he's actually in control. He will hold onto onto that opinion, despite what the Intelligence community is telling him, until it becomes impossible for even him to continue lying to himself. When that day comes it's going to get terribly scary. The basic problem with just about everything Trump has "promised," is that while many are laudable objectives, most have associated with them high risk implementations which could go drastically wrong. I suppose we shall see what we shall see but: - There's isn't going to be a wall. It's too expensive and too controversial.
- Any tax reform will make the already rich richer and do nothing for 98% of the country.
- Manufacturing jobs aren't coming back in any quantity. If he makes it too expensive to build stuff abroad through tariffs, any factories built here will be so highly automated that the number of manufacturing jobs will be minimal. Where the jobs will be is where they are now, high tech and engineering positions to design, build and maintain the robots.
- The vetting of refugees is already extreme. It's much easier to enter the country through any of the various visas.
- You can't repeal Obamacare without replacing it or removing the unfunded mandate that hospitals must treat the sick and injured regardless of their ability to pay which has been in effect since the early 1980s. The big issue with healthcare is the list of "stuff you might have and should be screened for" continues to grow and the cost of the treatments continue to balloon. It's a problem but removing health insurance from 12 million people is probably not the answer.
- Climate change is a real issue and even his Secretary of State nominee Rex Tillerson acknowledges that it's a problem. Tillerson however believes that it's not progressing as fast as the models indicate and that's it's basically an engineering problem. I hope he's right but the latest research suggests that it may be progressing faster than the models indicate.

As for the maniacs he may appoint to the Supreme Court, we'll have to wait and see.

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

College Football Poll Final

No big upsets but as usual some perplexing changes. The final list.

#1 - Alabama (12-0) (beat Florida 54-16)
#2 - Clemson (12-1) (beat Virginia Tech 42-35)
#3 - Ohio State (11-1) (bye)
#4 - Washington (12-1) (beat Colorado State 41-10)

#5 - Penn State (11-2) (beat Wisconsin 38-31)
#6 - Michigan (10-2) (bye)
#7 - Oklahoma (10-2) (beat Oklahoma State 38-20)
#8 - Wisconsin (10-2) (lost to Penn State 38-31)
#9 - Southern California (9-3) (bye)
#10 - Colorado (10-3) (lost to Washington 41-10)

Dropped out of top 10:
#12 - Oklahoma State (9-3) (lost to Oklahoma 38-20)

I find it puzzling that Clemson moved past Ohio State. I can understand Penn State moving ahead of Wisconsin but why also move ahead of Michigan? The real puzzler is why Southern California, by not playing, jumped ahead of both Oklahoma State and Colorado.

Oh well, the top four are set and with the possible exception of wondering why Clemson is #2 rather than Ohio State they seem reasonable except of course one could argue that Penn State, the Big 10 Champion, should be included instead of Ohio State.

On to the playoffs!!! The semi finals will be on December 31st.

Washington will play Alabama in the Peach Bowl at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. I think I'll go with Alabama.

Ohio State will play Clemson in the Fiesta Bowl at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale Arizona. I think I'll go with Ohio State.

The Championship Game will be on January 9th at 8 PM at the Raymond James Stadium in Tampa Florida.

Friday, December 02, 2016

College Football Poll week 13

The big game was Michigan at Ohio State. It was a nail biter with OSU winning in double overtime thanks to "the spot." On 4th and one in the second overtime OSU QB J.T. Barrett made the 1st down by half an eyelash. On the next play Curtis Samuel took it 15 yards to win it.

The call was so close that some dude did a pixel analysis on the play and concluded the 1st down was made by three pixels. I saw it; it was close.

#1 - Alabama (12-0) (beat Auburn 30-12)
#2 - Ohio State (11-1) (beat Michigan 30-27)
#3 - Clemson (11-1) (beat South Carolina 56-7)
#4 - Washington (11-1) (beat Washington State 45-17)

#5 - Michigan (10-2) (lost to Ohio State 30-27)
#6 - Wisconsin (10-2) (beat Minnesota 31-17)
#7 - Penn State (10-2) (beat Michigan State 45-12)
#8 - Colorado (10-2) (beat Utah 27-22)
#9 - Oklahoma (9-2) (bye)
#10 - Oklahoma State (9-2) (bye)

So both Washington and Clemson hopped over Michigan while Colorado moved up by playing while Oklahoma prepared for Oklahoma State.

The only other teams from the top ten playing will be in the conference championship games but there are going to be some biggies that could easily shake things up. Week 15 there will be only the Army vs. Navy game (GO Army, BEAT Navy).

#1 Alabama will be at #15 Florida in the SEC Championship
#4 Washington will host #8 Colorado in the PAC-12 Championship
#3 Clemson will be at #23 Virginia Tech in the ACC Championship
#6 Wisconsin will be at #7 Penn State in the Big 10 Championship

Now, while one wouldn't think there would be any surprises one never knows. That's why they have to play the game. My guess is the best chance for an upset would be Colorado beating Washington. That could be a real mess if Wisconsin beats Penn State. Who then would be #4? Michigan, Wisconsin or Washington?

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

College Football Poll Week 12

The standings after week 12.

#1 - Alabama (11-0) (beat Chattanooga 31-3)
#2 - Ohio State (10-1) (beat Michigan State 17-16)
#3 - Michigan (10-1) (beat Indiana 20-10)
#4 - Clemson (10-1) (beat Wake Forest 35-13)
#5 - Washington (10-1) (beat Arizona State 44-18)
#6 - Wisconsin (9-2) (beat Purdue 49-20)
#7 - Penn State (9-2) (beat Rutgers 39-0)
#8 - Oklahoma (9-2) (beat West Virginia 56-28)
#9 - Colorado (9-2) (beat Arizona 49-24)
#10 - Oklahoma State (9-2) (beat TCU 31-6)

Dropping out of the top 10:
#11 - Louisville (9-2) (lost to Houston 36-10)

The most interesting game for week 13 by far will be Michigan at Ohio State. Those two don't like each other normally but meeting head to head at 10-1 with a spot in the playoffs potentially on the line should make things extra interesting.

It's set for noon on Saturday.

Elsewhere Washington will be at Washington State, Wisconsin hosts an 8-3 Minnesota and Alabama will host Auburn.

Monday, November 21, 2016

College Football Poll 2016

Moving on to more entertaining topics, the College Football playoff polling has begun. In fact it began two weeks ago so I'll have to catch up.

As of week 9 we had:

#1 - Alabama (8-0)
#2 - Clemson (8-0)
#3 - Michigan (8-0)
#4 - Texas A&M (7-1)
#5 - Washington (8-0)
#6 - Ohio State (7-1)
#7 - Louisville (7-1)
#8 - Wisconsin (6-2)
#9 - Auburn (6-2)
#10 - Nebraska (7-1)

The big question would be why Texas A&M would be ahead of Washington.

As of week 10 we had:

#1 - Alabama (9-0) (beat LSU 10-0)
#2 - Clemson (9-0) (beat Syracuse 54-0)
#3 - Michigan (9-0) (beat Maryland 59-3)
#4 - Washington (9-0) (beat California 66-27)
#5 - Ohio State (8-1) (beat Nebraska 62-3)
#6 - Louisville (8-1) (beat Boston College 52-7)
#7 - Wisconsin (7-2) (beat Northwestern 21-7)
#8 - Texas A&M (7-2) (lost to Mississippi State 35-28)
#9 - Auburn (7-2) (beat Vanderbilt 23-16)
#10 - Penn State (7-2) (beat Iowa 41-14)

Dropping out of the ton ten:
#19 - Nebraska (7-2) (lost to Ohio State 62-3)

As of week 11 we have:

#1 - Alabama (10-0) (beat Mississippi State 51-3)
#2 - Ohio State (9-1) (beat Maryland 62-3)
#3 - Michigan (9-1) (lost to Iowa 14-13)
#4 - Clemson (9-1) (lost to Pittsburgh Syracuse 43-42)
#5 - Louisville (9-1) (beat Wake Forest 44-12)
#6 - Washington (9-1) (lost to USC 26-13)
#7 - Wisconsin (8-2) (beat Illinois 48-3)
#8 - Penn State (8-2) (beat Indiana 45-31)
#9 - Oklahoma (8-2) (beat Baylor 45-24)
#10 - Colorado (8-2) (beat Arizona 49-24)

Dropping out of the ton ten:
#15 - Auburn (7-3) (lost to Georgia 13-7)
#25 - Texas A&M (7-3) (lost to Oklahoma State 45-44)

I find it interesting that Michigan lost to Iowa but held its place and Clemson lost to Pittsburgh but only dropped from #2 to #4 but Washington lost two spots to #6 losing to USC despite USC having a better record (7-3) than either Iowa or Pittsburgh (both 6-4).

I suppose the PAC-12 just don't get no respect when compared to the ACC or Big 10.

Twelve Days Later

OK, so twelve days have passed since the election and I'm sort of standing and leaning against a convenient wall watching the shrapnel fly around.

Luckily just about all of it is imaginary.

Yes there have been a number of "racist" incidents most of which have been perpetrated by younger folks. Despite all of the wringing of hands and moaning and groaning I'm not all that concerned. It will taper off and at least we're finding out who the racist assholes are.

On the other hand, the people the Trump is appointing to the government might well turn out to be the least qualified group of clowns ever appointed to high government office.

Luckily the bureaucracy will probably just chug along in spite of them and at some point even Trump is going to figure out how incompetent they are and clean house.

My one enormous disappointment is that even though he won the stupid son of a bitch is still whining. All I hear is "whine, whine, whine."

Mike Pence went to see Hamilton, got roundly booed by the audience and then was treated to what amounted to a we sincerely hope you and Trump aren't as big assholes as you sound message from the cast.

Trump demanded an apology and of course every one laughed at him. He needs to get used to (1) being criticized. (2) being insulted and  (3) being ignored.

You see, he's used to being a boss where none of those three things could happen without dire consequences to the fool that engaged in them. But a leader has to learn how to handle those things and, if possible, eliminate the basis for that sort of resistance.

That's the difference between a leader and a boss.

I would not follow Trump into combat because he's not a leader.

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

May you live in Interesting Times.

That's an old Chinese curse, "May you live in interesting times."

Well, after last night things are certainly going to get interesting. With Trump in the White House and the Republicans in control of Congress what can we expect?

Certainly a rollback of Obama's immigration executive orders.

Very probably a flat out repeal of Obamacare.

Very probably a move toward tax reform. Exactly what shape that might take is not all that clear. I suspect Congressional Republicans and Trump have different ideas.

Very probably bad news on the Supreme Court. This will most likely be his one payback to the religious right for their votes.

Beyond that, who knows? And this is the big problem, He's far too erratic and unpredictable. It's only a matter of time before he runs into some sort of roadblock, either domestic or foreign. Does he try to work around it or steamroll over it?

Well, we're stuck with it, For better or worse.

On the bright side, the market didn't tank like it did after Brexit. It's actually up about 200 points, and at least it's over. We won't have to listen to Trump whine.

To add insult to injury Josh Gottheimer beat Scott Garrett in my home district. I now have a democratic congressman for all the good it will do me.

Election Night

Well, here we go.

7:30 EST
Trump - 24
Clinton - 3

Trump takes Indiana, West Virginia and Kentucky.
Clinton takes Vermont.

Trump leads in New Hampshire, Virginia, Georgia and South Carolina.
Clinton leads in Florida.

If Trump manages to take Virginia, that's probably the ball game.

8:00 EST
Trump - 24
Clinton - 3

Trump takes no states the last half hour.
Clinton takes no states the last half hour.

Trump leads in Virginia, Georgia and South Carolina.
Clinton leads in New Hampshire, Florida, North Carolina and Ohio.

Virginia always like to give me a hard time. The gap in Florida has been closing and I wouldn't get too excited about Ohio.

8:30 EST
Trump - 60
Clinton - 44

Trump takes Oklahoma, Tennessee, Alabama and South Carolina.
Clinton takes Massachusetts, New Jersey, Maryland. Delaware and DC.

Trump leads in Virginia, Georgia, Florida, Nebraska, Missouri, Rhode Island, Maine and Texas.
Clinton leads in New Hampshire, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, North Carolina, Illinois and Ohio.

Trump is pulling away in Florida and gaining in Ohio and North Carolina. His lead in Virginia is holding steady.

9:00 EST
Trump - 66
Clinton - 48

Trump takes Mississippi
Clinton takes Rhode Island.

Trump leads in Virginia, Georgia, Florida, Nebraska, Missouri, Arkansas, North Dakota. Ohio and Texas.
Clinton leads in New Hampshire, Maine, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, North Carolina and Illinois.

This election might make a lot of people look silly and send them back to reconsider their election models. Trump looks like he's headed for a big night.

9:30 EST
Trump - 129
Clinton - 104

Trump takes Texas, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota, Arkansas and Wyoming.
Clinton takes Illinois, Connecticut and New York.

Trump leads in Virginia, Georgia, Florida, Missouri, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Louisiana, and Ohio.
Clinton leads in Maine, Pennsylvania, New Mexico and Colorado.

Oh this does not look good. Virginia may turn out to be the critical state. Of course with Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota all in the wrong column at the moment, maybe not. Trump has also just taken the lead in New Hampshire.

10:00 EST
Trump - 137
Clinton - 104

Trump takes Louisiana.
Clinton takes no states the last half hour.

Trump leads in Georgia, Florida, Missouri, Michigan, Wisconsin, New Hampshire, North Carolina, and Ohio.
Clinton leads in Virginia, Maine, Pennsylvania, New Mexico, Minnesota and Colorado.

Clinton is now losing in all three of the four toss-up states. The other, Nevada, still has the polls open. She's also losing in three states she was supposed to win. Where's that light switch I think the party is winding down.

Oh wow, Virginia just flipped. Still things are very ugly in New Hampshire, Florida, North Carolina and Michigan. They're not so good in Wisconsin either.

10:30 EST
Trump - 150
Clinton - 109

Trump takes Montana and Missouri,
Clinton takes New Mexico.

Trump leads in Arizona, Georgia, Florida, Michigan, Wisconsin, Idaho, New Hampshire, North Carolina, and Ohio.
Clinton leads in Virginia, Maine, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Iowa and Colorado.

Well, things look quite ugly. Of course a lot depends upon what precincts have reported but the hole is getting pretty deep. The popular vote at the moment has Trump at 48,94% and Clinton at 47.01% so it looks like we'll have a minority president and very possibly a president that loses the popular vote.

This is pretty screwed up.

I'm not sure why they haven't called Ohio or Florida yet. I don't see any way for Clinton to come back in either state.

11:00 EST
Trump - 197
Clinton - 131

Trump takes Ohio and Florida.
Clinton takes Virginia and Colorado.

Trump leads in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Wisconsin, Idaho, New Hampshire, North Carolina and Utah.
Clinton leads in Maine, Pennsylvania, Minnesota and Iowa.

As far as I can see the road to 270 electoral votes has just about closed completely for Clinton. Here comes President Trump unless Michigan and Wisconsin recover and she somehow pulls out Nevada because it looks to me like Florida, North Carolina and New Hampshire are gone.

Hmm, looks like Trump is gaining ground in the popular vote. He now leads 49.14% to 46.62%. But of course California is still to come.

11:30 EST
Trump - 216
Clinton - 197

Trump takes Idaho and North Carolina.
Clinton takes California, Oregon and Hawaii.

Trump leads in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa, Washington, New Hampshire and Utah.
Clinton leads in Maine, Pennsylvania, Nevada and Minnesota.

This one looks like it's going to take a while to get the final numbers but to be honest it looks all over but the search for the guilty and the punishment of the innocent. As incredible as it sounds, it looks as if we've just elected Donald Trump president.

Or have we? The situation is like this: Washington, Wisconsin and Michigan have all got to recover and Nevada, Pennsylvania. Minnesota and Maine all have to hold and we'll probably have a Constitutional crisis on our hands. If any of those seven things don't happen, Donald Trump will be the next president.

12:00 EST
Trump - 238
Clinton - 209

Trump takes Georgia and Utah.
Clinton takes Washington.

Trump leads in Arizona, Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa and New Hampshire.
Clinton leads in Maine, Pennsylvania, Nevada and Minnesota.

OK, Washington appears to have come home. One down and six to go.

I don't see much movement in either Michigan or Wisconsin. Trump's lead seems to be holding steady. If he wins either state everything else is sort of moot.

Wisconsin looks like it's just about gone. Pennsylvania is actually closer than Wisconsin right now.

In the meantime the popular vote is now 48.47% to 47%.

Over in the Senate the Republicans are ahead 49-46. This is shaping up to be the Republicans control everything. There goes the Supreme Court, any progress on climate change and Obamacare. Gee, I hope Social Security and Medicare survive.

I suspect the issue here was the large number of undecided voters. Clearly they decided to give Trump and the Republicans control. I'm embarrassed for the country. Let's at least hope we can avoid a nuclear war or a financial meltdown.

Trump is actually pulling away in Wisconsin and holding his lead in Michigan. He looks to be headed to at least 287 votes and perhaps more depending upon how Maine splits up and whether Pennsylvania, which is much closer than either Michigan or Wisconsin right now, flips into his column. He could have as many as 311 electoral votes.

12:30 EST
Trump - 244
Clinton - 209

Trump takes Iowa.
Clinton takes

Trump leads in Arizona, Michigan, Wisconsin and New Hampshire.
Clinton leads in Maine, Pennsylvania, Nevada and Minnesota.

The question for me is when do I pack it in?

OK, Pennsylvania just flipped to red. I think I'm going to concede and go get some sleep. It's going to be President Trump.

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Thoughts before the Plunge

It's pushing 6 PM. My wife and I voted this morning about 9 AM. She was voter #80; I was voter #81. My oldest daughter went before she went to work right as the polls opened. She was voter #1.

Assuming no surprises, and Pennsylvania and Michigan could turn into unpleasant surprises for Hillary Clinton, the election will come down to New Hampshire, North Carolina, Florida and Nevada.

New Hampshire's and Florida's polls will close at 7 PM. North Carolina will follow at 7:30 PM. Pennsylvania's will close at 8 PM; Michigan closes at 8 PM as well. Nevada's won't close until 10 PM EST.

I expect this to be a long night. I don't expect any of these states to be called quickly. It's quite likely that Ohio will take a while as well.

I just want it all to end tonight one way or the other.

Elections used to be fun. This election has not been fun.

Monday, November 07, 2016

Election 2016 IX Part B

For everyone laughing at my 270-268 Trump electoral victory I might point out that Real Clear Politics has it 272-266 Clinton.

The difference is I don't feel comfortable with New Hampshire and that's where my 270-268 number comes from.

What are the key states from the four tracking states I'm following or at least the states where there are potential disagreements. There appear to be four main ones.

New Hampshire
Real Clear Politics - Clinton
Five Thirty Eight - Clinton
Election Projection - Clinton
Electoral Vote - Clinton

Real Clear Politics - Trump
Five Thirty Eight - Clinton
Election Projection - Trump
Electoral Vote - Trump

North Carolina
Real Clear Politics - Trump
Five Thirty Eight - Clinton
Election Projection - Trump
Electoral Vote - Clinton

Real Clear Politics - Trump
Five Thirty Eight - Clinton
Election Projection - Clinton
Electoral Vote - Clinton

There seems to be agreement on all of the other states although some are marked as very close. New Hampshire, although it's now unanimous, has just today slipped back into the Clinton fold which is why I'm uncomfortable with it. Note that any or all of these states could be so close as to make us go long past election day.

Election 2016 IX

Well, here we are on the eve of the election. I've been silent for two weeks primarily because I have been skeptical about just about everything and more than a little disgusted with both campaigns and both candidates.

I almost broke my silence when the FBI released its letter about another 1,000 Clinton emails but decided if I didn't have anything good to say, and I didn't think I could avoid cursing at Clinton, I should wait.

As it turned out, as suspected, it was much ado about nothing except probably for the facts that it helped Trump particularly in battlegrpound states and that Comey may have violated the Hatch act.

The Hatch Act which prohibits federal employees, except for the President, Vice President and other exempt employees, from participating in political campaigns or political acts.

Did Comey in fact violate the Hatch Act? I say suspend the bastard and let a board of inquiry decide. If the board decides he did, then he should be removed from office. Shooting him might be a bit extreme but I'd consider it.

The ultimate result is Comey's disregard for ethics has probably impacted elections because early voting occurring while the email cloud existed and could affect not only the presidential race but senate and congressional races.

Comey really should be rendered persona-non-grata regardless of who wins but you can be sure he won't be if the Republicans are elected.

So where are we?

The Republicans will hold onto the house thanks to their gerrymandering skill. Personally I'm guessing Republican Scott Garrett will hold onto his seat in my district. Both he and Democratic challenger Josh Gottheimer have run dirty as hell campaigns. In my opinion neither of them should win.

The Senate is a toss-up. Different sites are all over the map. It looks like at best a 51-49 situation for one party or the other. If the Republicans hold the senate and Clinton wins, she might as well go on vacation for four years because she isn't going to manage to accomplish anything. The Republicans are even saying they won't consider any Clinton Supreme Court nominees.

As for the presidency, I don't like the numbers I see. I think Trump has the inside track and based upon my most recent analysis he wins by a ridiculously close 270-268.

Every other analysis I've seen seems to disagree with me so here's hoping they're right and I'm wrong. But I have this really bad feeling that I'm not wrong.

Hopefully tomorrow will tell because the worst possible result would be an inconclusive election like the 2000 fiasco. Given how close I think it's going to be, that's not out of the question.

Also not out of the question would be Clinton winning the popular vote while Trump wins the electoral vote. I think the opposite is less likely.

"Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more;...In peace there's nothing so becomes a man as modest stillness and humility: But when the blast of war blows in our ears, then imitate the action of the tiger;..."

Monday, October 24, 2016

Election 2016 VIII

It's been 25 days since Election 2016 VII because I no longer trust the polls or anything else.

I'm watching the country disintegrate in a way I suppose I've always suspected would be coming.

On one hand are the voices of reason and on the other the voices of fear and fear is a powerful emotion.

For too long now Republicans have pounded away with a message intended to instill fear in its base and to blame all of the issues underlying that fear upon people who look different.

Yet nothing ever seemed to change because the message was putting the blame on people who were pretty much innocent of causing the problem. After decades of "those other people are stealing what's rightfully yours" the crows have come home to roost. The end result of that message that is the candidacy of Donald Trump.

I don't believe the polls. I believe my gut and my gut says that Trump has a good chance to pull this one out. Then what?

You can be sure that it will be nothing good and you can be sure that the poor saps that voted for him will be worse off but still being told it's the fault of people who look different.

If you tell a lie often enough and with enough conviction, even fairly intelligent people will start to believe it and Trump and the Republicans have been lying from the beginning and the lies are being believed.

I would like to document one issue and that is the 33,000 emails that were deleted.

No Clinton didn't break the law when she had those 33,000 emails deleted. She had tasked her lawyers to divide the emails on her private server into work related and private. The work related emails were turned over to the Department of State and the server contractor was directed the remaining emails in December of 2014.

The Select Committee on Benghazi did not ask for all emails on the private server to be preserved until March of 2015.

I used to delete emails all the time from my work server. Typically when the numbers got too large I would delete everything but the last three months or so. The important stuff I left tucked away in separate files.

Even the backups were eventually deleted by the IT department. We were under no obligation to save emails just in case someone decided they wanted to see them and neither was Clinton.

Anyway, so much for that lie. I'm going to stay quiet now until November 9th.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Good Grief!

This just keeps getting "better and better"...NOT!

Trump is losing his mind. In last Sunday's debate he threatened to tell the Justice Department to investigate Hillary Clinton and put her in jail. Great, nothing like a two bit dictator of a banana republic sort of dance.

Now we're hearing that he felt it was his privilege to waltz into Miss Universe and Miss Teenage USA dressing rooms knowing the ladies were partially dressed. The rumor is he used this tactic to ogle girls as young as 15.

At least one contestant, a former Miss Arizona, says the accusations are true.

Personally I don't know if they're true or not but the problem, given his ego, is this is just the sort of thing you could imagine him doing.

This is utterly nuts. I've never seen anything like this.

In the meantime, on the other side, a number of leaked tapes have a Clinton aid saying some disparaging things about Catholics.

This is definitely becoming a vote for the lesser evil kind of election but Clinton is by far the lesser evil. Trump is clearly self-centered, a bully and a total pig. I wouldn't soil my hands by pulling a lever next to his name.

The polls are all over the place. At this point in time I just don't trust any of the numbers. We just need to get this nonsense over with. This whole thing is becoming a national disgrace.

Sunday, October 09, 2016

The Second Debate

Given the rapidly unraveling of the Trump campaign all Clinton really needs to do tonight is not lose.

The problem with that idea is that playing it safe can often backfire. Her other option is to go for the kill.

The best way to do that, in my humble opinion, would be to focus on the questions and not spend half the night talking about Trump's expletive laden misogynistic video.

It's a town hall format so the questions are coming directly from the audience and she can expect inconvenient questions about her e-mail server, ties to Wall Street and the Clinton Foundation. Just provide honest and sincere answers and ignore the Drumpf.

If she can slide in a few Trump Triggers and bait his ass again, so much the better.

Come on Hillary, we need this one.

Saturday, October 08, 2016

Trump's Locker Room Language Video

A video has surfaced in which The Donald expresses opinions rarely heard outside of Middle School locker rooms or good old boy drunken binges.

To say the video is misogynistic and offensive would be giving it more credit than it deserves.

Am I surprised? A little bit. I didn't think Trump had the intellect of a 13 year old. This is a guy wearing a swollen head which leads him to say stupid stuff and not listen to people who know what they're talking about because, in his mind, how could anyone know more than him about anything?

It's beyond belief than he will survive this and still probably amass more than 40% of the vote. Evangelical Christians are still claiming he's the best candidate which, if they ever had it, certainly kicks them off of the moral high ground.

Some Republicans have, again, called upon him to withdraw but Trump has so far refused.

The party can't kick him out and besides, voting has already started, absentee ballots have already been mailed and the ballots are already printed so they're sort of stuck with him.

In his "apology" Trump claims that Hillary has "bullied and attacked women" and that "Bill Clinton has done worse" while threatening to expand on these themes in Sunday's debate.

Who cares if Hillary has "bullied and attacked women?" She's a woman so sort of even Steven there and can someone tell Trump that he's not running against Bill?

Going down this rabbit hole would be a huge mistake. His only chance is to stay on message Sunday and NOT allow himself to get baited. I'd say, given his track record and ego, the chances of that are slim and none.

Can he still win? Given the incredible stupidity of a large chunk of the American electorate, yes he can.

Tuesday, October 04, 2016

Kaepernick's Protest Spills over into College Football

A number of college players and at least one marching band have decided to join in Colin Kaepernick's protest by kneeling during the national anthem. Some of the band members refused to play.

This is causing all sorts of negative reactions.

Protests are meant to make people feel uncomfortable or angry and attempt to open a dialogue. When people feel threatened they will usually look for a way to neutralize the threat. Those solutions can be either positive or negative.

I'm seeing a fair number of negative reactions. Right wing nut jobs calling for the players to be cut from the team and for coaching staffs to be fired.

ESPN in Fayetteville is taking a novel approach and protesting the protest of the East Carolina University marching band by not broadcasting the next ECU game. The band was also reportedly loudly booed at halftime as well.

Freedom of Speech does not guarantee freedom of consequences as long as those consequences are from private individuals and not the state.

The halftime boos are themselves Freedom of Speech.

Firing coaches or cutting players at a public university is probably a violation of the 1st Amendment. At a private university perhaps not so much.

The ESPN Fayetteville decision is an interesting one. They are not only reacting to the protest that occurred but are essentially insuring that a 2nd protest doesn't get a wider audience than the fans at the game.

When college students protest the presentations by alt right commentators guaranteed to deliver offensive racist or misogynistic messages by trying to have their invitations to speak revoked, they are criticized by the right wing. I don't see the ESPN decision to be much different so I'll expect to see howls of indignation about ESPN from the academic freedom crowd any day now (*cough, cough*).

So far I don't see any problem with players or band members making their concerns about the deaths of young black men at the hands of police known. I think it's an issue that needs to be brought out into the open and discussed.

From what I've seen, I think in most cases the police are acting appropriately. In most cases but not all. It will never be perfect because none of us are perfect. The question is can it be made better?

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Election 2016 VII

OK, I admit it, I got bored doing these. I started too early and the posts were too complicated. I'll be doing these less frequently until we get closer to the election. I've also switched to the 4-way RCP average including Johnson and Stein.

Here's the bottom line, the election has tightened up to be essentially a dead heat. Clinton is getting a slight bounce from her drubbing of Trump in the first debate but, at least so far, not a lot.
Polls Plus Model - Clinton - 60.1%, Trump - 39.9% - Trump +7.9
Polls Only Model - Clinton - 62.4%, Trump - 37.5% - Trump +6.6
Now-cast Model - Clinton - 70.0%, Trump - 30.0% - Trump +4.7

Real Clear Politics
Popular Vote - Clinton 43.9%, Trump 41.0%, Clinton +2.9 - Clinton +0.2
Electoral Vote - Clinton - 188, Trump - 165. Undecided - 185 - Clinton -41, Trump +31

Predict It Betting Odds
Clinton .68, Trump .32 - Clinton -.04, Trump - +.01

A couple of interesting observations. First, the betting odds haven't changed much and one has to wonder why. Second if the 4-way numbers are even close to accurate, whoever wins this election is going to be under 50% of the vote.

George W. Bush was under 50% at 47.87% in 2000. As a matter of fact Al Gore had more popular votes with 48.38%.

In 2004 George W. Bush got 50.7% of the vote. Barack Obama got 52.9% of the vote in 2008 and 51.1% in 2012.

The lowest popular vote percentages in the post-Roosevelt era are Richard Nixon in 1972 at 43.42% and Bill Clinton in 1992 at 43.01%. The "winner" of this election could come close to those numbers.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Polygamy? Well, Sort of.

The diversity in this country is unreal. This is what frightens many conservatives. This is what frightens Trump supporters. It's not the only reason Trumpettes support the Drumpf but it's one of them.

There is a court case brought by the family in the TV show "Sister Wives" that would undo a special provision of the Utah law against polygamy. Kody Brown has one legal wife but three additional "wives" which live with the couple without legal marriage status.

I'm going to skip over the irony of the law being a Utah law as well as the question of why anyone in his right mind would want four wives and get right to my understanding of the issue.

The special provision apparently prohibits co-habitation with other partners even if there is a legal marriage with just one partner. Clearly marriage to two or more partners would be bigamy which is illegal and that's not what the Browns are challenging. They're challenging the provision which prohibits additional co-habitation. Brown claims to be legally married to only one wife but "spiritually married" to the other three.

They originally won in a lower court which ruled the law violated both the right to privacy and religious freedom. An appeal court ruled that the Browns couldn't bring suit because they hadn't actually been charged with violating the law. It never ruled on the Constitutional questions.

The Utah prosecutors say they usually leave polygamists like the Browns alone but need the law in order to pursue other polygamists that engage in underage "spiritual marriage" or sexual assault.

Exactly why the laws associated with statutory rape and sexual assault aren't adequate for this purpose eludes me but I suppose proving co-habitation is easier especially if the "wives" don't want to cooperate.

The 10th Circuit refused to hear the case so the Browns are appealing it to the Supreme Court.

I suspect their chances are between slim and none given that, as the appeal court ruled, they appear to lack standing. You would need a family actually charged under the law and, given the way prosecutors claim to apply it, that might be hard to find.

The 2016 NFL Season has Begun!

Oh yeah, the insanity has started.

I watched three games yesterday or, most accurately one entire game, large parts of two others and the last two minutes or so of a fourth game. Two of the four games ended with a one point margin of victory and the third and fourth came close.

I watched most of the Jets vs. Bengals game and both teams looked pretty good to me. The Bengals managed a one point win 23-22 but both teams look like they're going to be tough.

I watched the entire Giants game and almost had a heart attack at the end. Those guys are going to kill me yet. The biggest news in that game was Dak Prescott, the rookie QB of the Cowboys from Mississippi State.

He was impressive. I'd say the Cowboys no longer need fear the retirement of Tony Romo. On the Giants side Victor Cruz looked healthy and the offensive line wasn't horrendous. We'll see how things go against a tougher defense. The game was a one point affair with the Giants squeaking it out 20-19.

After the Giants game they switched to the last few minutes of the Lions vs. Colts game. The Lions led 34-28 but Andrew Luck was doing his thing and soon the score was 35-34. It could have ended as another one pointer but the Lions drove for a field goal with 4 seconds left and the Colts ended up throwing an illegal forward pass in their own end zone on the kick-off resulting in a final score of 39-35 Lions.

I then watched a fair amount of the Sunday Night Game with the Brady-less Patriots at the Cardinals. I have to tell you that Jimmy Garoppolo looked pretty good at QB for the Pats as they beat the Cardinals 23-21 in what could have also been a one point finish but the Cardinals missed a field goal at the end of the game. Garoppolo may be ready but Brady is never going to retire. He'll still be playing at 65.

The NFL has long been after parity. They want every game to be a toss-up and as close as possible. Given two one pointers in marquee games yesterday and two others that could have been I'd say they're pretty damn close to that. There was also an overtime game in Kansas City and Oakland won with a late TD and two point conversion, again by one point, over New Orleans 35-34.

Clinton has Pneumonia

Yup, that green stuff Hillary has been coughing up is the sign of a severe respiratory infection. Her doctors have decided it's pneumonia and have put her on antibiotics.

I've never had pneumonia but I have had bronchitis and it's no laughing matter. A mate of mine did have pneumonia and it would reappear from time to time, as he described it, by making him wake up and cough his guts up in the middle of the night.

You can die from pneumonia. An ex-secretary of mine did just that and she was still fairly young at the time.

Is this a reason to vote for Trump instead? I don't think anything short of preventing an atomic war or preventing the return of the Black Death would be a reason to vote for Trump so the answer is a resounding NO!

Is this going to hurt her in the election? Probably it will, a lot.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Election 2016 VI

It's Saturday and time for an update.
Polls Plus Model - Clinton - 68.0%, Trump - 32.0% - Trump +0.9
Polls Only Model - Clinton - 70.0%, Trump - 29.9% - Trump +1.4
Now-cast Model - Clinton - 74.7%, Trump - 25.3% - Clinton +4.1

Real Clear Politics
Popular Vote - Clinton 45.6%, Trump 42.9%, Clinton +2.7 - Clinton -1.2
Electoral Vote - Clinton - 229, Trump - 154. Undecided - 155 - Unchanged

Predict It Betting Odds
Clinton .72, Trump .31 - Clinton +.02, Trump - No Change

The race continues to narrow. I seriously don't get it. A while back I observed that Trump has made open bigotry acceptable. Perhaps what we're finding out is how many bigots there are in this country?

Another tidbit that's a bit worrying is I saw an analysis that says that the live poll results and internet poll results are diverging with Clinton doing better in the live polls while Trump is doing better in the anonymous internet polls.

There is a rule of thumb that says people will sometimes lie and tell a pollster what they think they should say because they don't want the pollster to think badly of them. This is sometimes called the Bradley effect. On the Internet it's anonymous so this isn't an issue.

Saturday, September 03, 2016

Election 2016 V

What a difference a week makes. Things are a lot tighter. Clinton seems to be using a sort of "run out the clock" approach which just isn't working.

Trump, despite continuing to say and do things which should end his run, continues to gain. I'm sort of at a loss as to why this is happening but it is.
Polls Plus Model - Clinton - 68.9%, Trump - 31.1% - Trump +4.7
Polls Only Model - Clinton - 71.5%, Trump - 28.5% - Trump +10.0
Now-cast Model - Clinton - 70.6%, Trump - 29.3% - Trump +9.8

Real Clear Politics
Popular Vote - Clinton 46.0%, Trump 42.1%, Clinton +3.9 - Clinton -2.4
Electoral Vote - Clinton - 229, Trump - 154. Undecided - 155 - Clinton - 43. Undecided +43

Predict It Betting Odds
Clinton .70, Trump .31 - Clinton -.01, Trump +.03

Whatever the Clinton camp is doing, it's clearly not working. The time has come to begin to panic because Hillary is apparently blowing it big time.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Colin Kaepernick and the Star Spangled Banner

San Francisco 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick refused to stand for the Star Spangled Banner at a pre-season football game the other night and, as a result, has come into a storm of criticism. He's also received support.

Kaepernick refused to stand as a protest against what he called the oppression of people of color.

Kaepernick is entitled to his opinion. That's how freedom of speech works. Others are also entitled to criticize him for that opinion. That's also how freedom of speech works. It's a two way street.

Some people are saying that Kaepernick shouldn't have protested while wearing a 49ers uniform. That it was inappropriate to protest essentially while at work. As far as I'm concerned that's an issue between Kaepernick and the 49ers.

I'm going to take a neutral stance on this one. Are there issues? Yes, there are. Are they as racially motivated as some make out? I don't think so. Certainly race plays a part but it's not the whole story.

Economics plays a large part. Poverty leads to crime and crime leads to confrontation with authority. Until we recognize all the parts of the play, things aren't going to change for the better and just might get worse.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

The Kalam Cosmological Argument

This is a "proof" of the existence of God made popular by William Lane Craig and adopted by giddy theists everywhere. It has the appearance of simplicity and, to the casual reader or listener. may even look convincing.

The reality is that the argument's "simplicity" comes from being fast and loose with the precise meanings of words and making a number of unfounded assumptions. The argument, as put forward by Craig, is actually in two parts.

Part 1 - Demonstrating that the Universe has a cause.
1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause.
2. The Universe began to exist.
3. The Universe has a cause.

Part 2 - Defining that cause as God.
1. The universe has a cause;
2. If the universe has a cause, then an uncaused, personal Creator of the universe exists, who sans the universe is beginningless, changeless, immaterial, timeless, spaceless and enormously powerful;
3. Therefore: An uncaused, personal Creator of the universe exists, who sans the universe is beginningless, changeless, immaterial, timeless, spaceless and enormously powerful.

There are so many issues with this argument that it's difficult to know where to begin. Let's look at the argument a bit closer.

1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause. - Says who? In order to make such a statement you must have perfect knowledge of everything that has ever begun to exist or that ever will begin to exist.

While we're at it, define "begins to exist?" When does a table "begin to exist?" After the carpenter finishes building it? When the carpenter starts building it? When the wood arrives from the lumber yard? When the wood is cut at the lumber yard? When the tree from which the lumber is made is cut down or when the tree from which the lumber is made is planted?

Then you can define "cause." Are we speaking about a material cause? An efficient cause? Both? Sticking with the table analogy, the material cause would be the wood; the efficient cause would be the agent of change or the carpenter.

If you say that "cause" here only refers to a material cause then you are admitting that no efficient cause or agent of change is required. If you say "cause" refers to either an efficient cause or both then you are effectively assuming the conclusion in the first premise.

2. The universe began to exist - Again, says who? The mathematics of General Relativity that is used to wind the universe backward no longer works beyond when the universe is a Planck Time old (about 1x10-43 seconds). So no one can say anything about the universe prior to then. We don't know whether it existed or not.

The "Big Bang" simply marks the beginning of the expansion of the universe. No one knows anything about anything prior to that including whether the universe existed or not.

Given that neither premise is necessarily true, the conclusion that the universe had a cause is not necessarily true.

However even if you accept the premises and conclusion, the remainder of the argument that this "cause" should be "changeless, immaterial, timeless, spaceless and enormously powerful" and be a "personal creator" doesn't follow. These are simply a pair of unjustified assertions. An unsupported leap to the desired conclusion.

Even if there was a cause for the universe, this is no reason to conclude that this "cause" was intelligent or even that it survived the creation of the universe.

So, there really is no reason to be impressed with the Kalam Cosmological Argument. I'm not sure if Craig really believes this crap or if he knows it's nonsense but hopes his audience won't recognize it as such.

Election 2016 IV

My how time flies. Time for the Saturday update already? Perhaps I should cut this down to once a week?
Polls Plus Model - Clinton - 73.6%, Trump - 26.4% - Trump +2.4
Polls Only Model - Clinton - 81.4%, Trump - 18.5% - Trump +3.3
Now-cast Model - Clinton - 81.5%, Trump - 18.5% - Trump +6.0

Real Clear Politics 
Popular Vote - Clinton 48.4%, Trump 42.1%, Clinton +6.3 - Clinton +0.9
Electoral Vote - Clinton - 272, Trump - 154. Undecided - 112 - No change.

Predict It Betting Odds
Clinton .72, Trump .28 - Clinton No Change, Trump No Change

The only real major shift is in the models and that's primarily because Arizona and Georgia appear to have shifted into the Trump column according to their models.

It's interesting how different prediction sites have slightly different takes on where some states will end up.

The latest buzzword is "Alt. Right" and the two candidates have taken to calling each other names. That doesn't strike me as terribly useful but I learned time ago that you don't get elected based upon facts. You get elected based upon how much emotion you can stir up.

Hey. I'm not immune to that either. I just get concerned that someday a candidate is going to unleash forces he can't control. Trump is coming close. He's simply too stupid to realize how idiotic some of his supporter are.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Election 2016 III

Time for the Wednesday update.
Polls Plus Model - Clinton - 76.2%, Trump - 23.8% - Clinton +1.0
Polls Only Model - Clinton - 84.7%, Trump - 15.2% - Trump +1.0
Now-cast Model - Clinton - 87.4%, Trump - 12.5% - Clinton +0.3

Real Clear Politics
Popular Vote - Clinton +5.4 - Trump +0.3
Electoral Vote - Clinton - 272, Trump - 154. Undecided - 112 - No change.

Predict It Betting Odds
Clinton .72, Trump .28 - Clinton +.01, Trump -.03

So things are pretty much holding steady. There's a slight tightening of the nationwide popular vote but the electoral vote counts are holding steady.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Election 2016 II

Time for the Saturday update.
Polls Plus Model - Clinton - 75.2%, Trump - 24.8% - Trump +2.4
Polls Only Model - Clinton - 85.7%, Trump - 14.2% - Trump +1.7
Now-cast Model - Clinton - 87.1%, Trump - 12.8% - Trump +1.0

Real Clear Politics
Popular Vote - Clinton +5.7 - Trump +0.3
Electoral Vote - Clinton - 272, Trump - 154. Undecided - 112 - No change.

Predict It Betting Odds
Clinton .71, Trump .31 - Clinton -.04, Trump +.07

So a slight tightening of the race as Trump hasn't said anything excruciatingly stupid this week. In the meantime new campaign leadership is attempting a reboot of his campaign and making it look more like a normal political campaign.

I want to see his tax returns. There's no reason not to release them.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Election 2016

I've decided to expand my tracking of the election a bit to include Real Clear Politics and the current betting markets. I'll try to do updates Wednesday and Saturday until we get closer to the election.
Polls Plus Model - Clinton - 77.6%, Trump - 22.4% - No change.
Polls Only Model - Clinton - 87.4%, Trump - 12.5% - Trump +0.3
Now-cast Model - Clinton - 88.2%, Trump - 11.8% - Trump +2.6

Real Clear Politics
Popular Vote - Clinton +6.0
Electoral Vote - Clinton - 272, Trump - 154. Undecided - 112

Predict It Betting Odds
Clinton .75, Trump .24

There's still a long way to go and I expect the race to tighten as we move forward. Enthusiasm for Clinton isn't terribly strong and that's what gives Trump a chance although it's hard to believe that someone who has said as many stupid things as him is still in the race.

He also continues to demonstrate he's awful at picking advisers. This was something that was a Ronald Reagan strong point. He also continues to demonstrate an unwillingness to learn from the experts believing himself to be the ultimate expert on everything.

The combination of these two things is incredibly dangerous.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

The Mail

A somewhat exiting daily event, the arrival of the mail.

It's not nearly as exciting as it used to be as we have most of our bills on auto pay so we don't get many bills in the old snail mail. I get dire warnings about impending deductions via e-mail. I suppose they want me to make sure I have sufficient funds.

One exception is the water bill. They made it too painful to set up auto payments so I usually wait until it arrives and then pay it online.

Suez Water Company
So, on the top of the stack is an envelope from Suez (the new name of Hackensack Water) stamped "Reminder Enclosed." Couldn't be the bill; we already got one this month. Ah, yes, they're reminding me that I haven't bought their water line insurance for about $10 a quarter.

Let's see, I've been living here 32 years without this insurance and I've never had a problem so I figure I'm about $1300 ahead of the game. I think I'll just let it continue to slide.

Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores
An advertisement plus coupons which is actually addressed to my #3 daughter. I'll let her decide what to do with it.

Family Circle Magazine
Actually it's addressed to my wife complete with what looks like a renewal bill and our daily 20% off coupon from Bed, Bath and Beyond. I'll let her worry about it.

New York University School of Professional Studies
Looks like a course catalog addressed to my #1 daughter. I'll let her worry about it.

The Woman Within
Hmm, plus side woman's brands addressed to my wife or current resident. I'll have to pretend I didn't see this or I'll be joining my wife on a diet for the next month or two.

Trader Joe's Fearless Flyer
An advertisement addressed to Resident containing my road map for cheating on that diet.

Valpak Coupons
Local store coupons addressed to Our Friends. I'll let my wife worry about that too.

American Express Platinum Card
My quarterly offer from American Express to apply for their platinum card. I already have a Bank of America Platinum Account with card and a Chase Freedom Card. I used to have an American Express from work but gave it up when I retired. I don't need it.

CVS Pharmacy
Samples and coupons addressed to my #1 daughter.

This was the sort of mail I like. Absolutely nothing for me to do and no headaches or problems. I like it.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Divided we Stand?

That we are a nation with fairly deep divides is not a secret. I think it's safe to say it has always been that way. But what has changed recently is the willingness of the political elite to use those divisions against us

In September of 2009 considering the widening of the gap between a left shifting Democratic Party and a right shifting Republican Party I predicted:

"It would be only a matter of time before one side or the other manages to elect a president that is totally unacceptable to the other side."

Welcome to 2016.

Trump is breaking all sorts of rules. He is pandering to the stupidity of his base and doing everything feasible to undermine the legitimacy of his losing the election in November.

He is outright declaring that if he loses it can only be because the election was rigged; he has hinted that violence might be necessary if Clinton wins.

His latest call is for "polling observers" which sound a lot like brown shirts to intimidate voters.

That it is still quite possible that he will win this election is mind boggling.

I'm going to follow for the rest of the time to the election. They're using three models this time around. A "Polls Only" model which is the same as the one used in 2008. A "Polls Plus" model which adds economic and historical factors and a "Now-cast" which considers who would win if the election were held immediately.

All three provide probability of winning numbers.

August 13, 2016

Polls Plus Model  - Clinton - 77.6%, Trump - 22.4%
Polls Only Model - Clinton - 87.8%, Trump - 12.2%
Now-cast Model   - Clinton - 90.8%, Trump -  9.2%

But, of course, according to Trump and his Trumpettes these number are all lies anyway or based upon phony poll numbers. It's all a big conspiracy.

Saturday, August 06, 2016

The Rio Olympics

The Olympic Games began last night in Rio de Janeiro. I didn't watch it. I used to enjoy the games but now I pretty much ignore them.

I'm not really certain why that's the case. Maybe because the presidential elections occur in the same years and that seems so much more important?

I say seems because sometimes I think it's all an illusion.

I saw a Post that said that the American Voters are coming to their senses.

The American voters are coming to their senses? Would you like to place a small wager on that one?

There was a Reuters poll last night that claimed the margin between Clinton and Trump was less than 4 points. Not only that but the array of states that look like they will contribute their electoral votes to the Trump looks to be about the same number that voted for Romney.

There are Trump signs on lawns around here and I’m utterly at a loss to understand why anyone would even consider voting for this self-centered, ignorant, loud mouthed clown. Then I remember that Republicans live in an alternate reality shaped by Fox News and Right Wing talk radio.

In Louisiana something like 30% of Republicans blame Obama for the slow response to Katrina. Something like 25% of all Republicans believe that (1) unemployment has gone UP under Obama and (2) the stock market has gone DOWN under Obama. Then of course the policies enacted by Obama and Clinton led to the death of Captain Humayun Khan, Obama is a Kenyan born Muslim and Hillary Clinton planned and personally led the attack on Benghazi.

I like to think I’m insane. Because if I’m NOT insane, then 50% of the country is insane and I sleep much better at night thinking that I’m the crazy one.

I fear for the future of the Republic.

Tuesday, August 02, 2016

The Houston Chronicle Endorses Hillary and Nails it

The Houston Chronicle has decided not to wait and has joined the Daily News in endorsing Hillary Clinton while blasting Donald Trump.

"The Chronicle editorial page does not typically endorse early in an election cycle; we prefer waiting for the campaign to play out and for issues to emerge and be addressed. We make an exception in the 2016 presidential race, because the choice between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump is not merely political. It is something much more basic than party preference." 

"Any one of Trump's less-than-sterling qualities - his erratic temperament, his dodgy business practices, his racism, his Putin-like strongman inclinations and faux-populist demagoguery, his contempt for the rule of law, his ignorance - is enough to be disqualifying." 

Oh yeah, that pretty much hits the nail on the head but they're not simply going against Trump.

"Americans know Hillary Clinton; post-Philadelphia, they're even better acquainted with "the real Hillary Clinton," as her husband phrased it. After her quarter century and more in the public eye, they know her strengths and her weaknesses...As President Obama noted, she's the most qualified person in years to serve as president - 'and that includes Bill and me.' The only candidate to come close is George H.W. Bush...On the issues, there's no comparison in terms of thoughtfulness, thoroughness and practicality."

In 2012 I could understand why someone could prefer Mitt Romney to Barack Obama. In 2008, if it wasn't for what turned out to be a disastrous choice in Sarah Palin for VP, I could also understand someone choosing the clearly more experienced John McCain over Obama.

But this time around I cannot understand how anyone with any degree of decency as a human being could possibly support Donald Trump.

A vote for Trump is a vote against all of the positive things this country stands for. Are we perfect? Of course not. We're not even close, but we're trying.

Trump is asking us not only to stop trying but to move backwards. I refuse to do that.

Monday, August 01, 2016

When is Enough Finally Enough?

The conventions are over and Trump continues to demonstrate his total lack of discipline.

How do you get into a pissing contest with the parents of a dead soldier?

Have you no decency sir?

When is it going to be enough? When will it finally dawn upon his harebrained supporters that this clown does not have the temperament to be president?

Hell, he doesn't have the temperament to be dogcatcher.

Hillary, please, don't fuck this up. I never thought I'd see the day when I thought that the country desperately needed Hillary Clinton in the White House but that day has arrived.

I'm with Hillary.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

More on the Clinton E-mails

As I said in a previous post deciding what is classified is not an exact science. There are lots of shades of grey and some things are just considered classified just because no one is sure whether they're really important or not.

I've been wondering exactly what the content of the eight Top Secret e-mail consisted of and now I've gotten some information as to the topics but not the exact content.

Take this with a grain of salt because obviously I haven't actually seen the e-mails and I'm relying on second hand information but from a reliable source.

The information I have says that seven of the eight were related to CIA drone strikes in countries that prefer it wasn't known that they were co-operating with the CIA.

While these strikes are considered "classified," everyone fucking knows they're happening. There are even Internet web sites that are counting when, where and with what result.

The eighth was reportedly about a conversation with the President of Malawi and conversations with foreign leaders are routinely classified. Somehow I doubt Clinton was discussing anything of critical importance with the worthy executive of Malawi.

So, if what I've been told is correct, the whole deal is much ado about nothing in terms of the criticality of the information but it doesn't change my suspicion that this whole fiasco was more due to arrogance than carelessness.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

More on Alton Sterling

I did a little more research on the Alton Sterling case and watched the videos.

The problem is the critical questions are actually from before the videos start.

 Police can use deadly force to protect their lives or the life of another innocent party. A key thing to remember, which I often think those who are quick to blame the police forget or aren't aware of, is that it doesn't matter if there is an actual threat. It only matters if the officer has an "objectively reasonable" belief that there is a threat.

When you're on the ground wrestling with a suspect, the suspect is still resisting and the suspect is armed, I think it's safe to say you would have an "objectively reasonable" belief that there is a threat. 

The bigger issue for the Baton Rouge police is how did things deteriorate into a situation where the officers only option to protect their own lives was to use deadly force?

There are all sorts of questions about how much they knew, what they assumed and what procedures they used. He was reported as armed! Why weren't they behind their vehicle and ordering him onto the ground?

Sterling was a twice convicted felon so simply carrying a firearm was a felony. That would be three strikes and Louisiana has a pretty nasty three strikes law. Alton Sterling was going away for a long, long time if the police found that gun.

So I suppose this wasn't going to end well for Sterling no matter what but I still question how things got to a wrestling match on the ground?

That's the key question to my mind.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Alton Sterling and Philando Castile

I talked about the shooting of the police officers in Dallas so I suppose I should address the two incidents that were the immediate motive for the Black Lives Matter demonstration.

But before I do that I'm going to say that NOTHING, absolutely NOTHING, justifies a sniper taking it upon himself to shoot at police officers. We are supposed to be a nations of laws instead we seem to be becoming a nation of lunatics.

Clearly there is no definitive, accepted description of exactly what happened with either Castile or Sterling. The facts are not all in so I can only talk about what seems to be agreed upon.

Philando Castile was driving in Falcon Heights Minnesota with his girlfriend Lavish "Diamond" Reynolds in the passenger seat and her 4 year-old daughter in the rear seat. Philando Castile worked at a St, Paul high school as a cafeteria supervisor. He had no criminal record beyond traffic violations.

Castile was pulled over by two police officers Jeronimo Yanez and Joseph Kauser. Exactly why Castile was pulled over is unclear. Reynolds claims it was for a broken tail light but police chatter from the squad car prior to the stop indicated that the officers thought Castile fit the description of an armed robbery suspect from four days prior.

In any event the officers performed a standard traffic stop rather than a felony stop and approached Castile's car. Yanez asked for his driver's license and registration.

Here's where things get murky. Castile had a concealed carry license and had a gun in the car. I haven't seen anything that indicates exactly where the gun was. Reynolds claims that Castile informed the officers that he had a gun and that he was going to get his wallet which had his license.

Yanez, on the video, is heard to claim he told Castile to stop reaching. Reynolds claims that Castile was putting his hands back up when Yanez opened fired and shot Castile four times. I suppose she means that he was following the officer's instructions.

He had a gun in the car? Another Darwin Award nominee.

If Yanez suspected Castile might have been guilty of armed robbery he would understandably have been on a hair trigger. If he thought Castile was going for the gun that would certainly explain his opening fire. If there was any suspicion they were dealing with an armed felon they should have proceeded accordingly rather than doing a regular traffic stop. You can always apologize later.

If it's decided there was no clear danger this officer is probably toast. If he avoids jail his career as a police officer is probably over.

The Alton Sterling case is even murkier.

Apparently Sterling used to hang out in front of the market selling CDs. Sterling supposedly did have a criminal record including carrying a firearm while in possession of a controlled substance.

A call went in to Baton Rouge police that a man selling CDs had used a gun to threaten someone outside the market.

Officers Howie Lake II and Blaine Salamoni responded to the call.

The officers tasered Sterling, twice. Exactly why they thought that necessary is unclear but Sterling was reportedly a hefty guy. They then wrestled him to the ground and pinned him with one officer on his chest and the other on his thigh.

People were recording the confrontation on their phones and one officer yelled "He's got a gun. Gun!" Officer Salamoni can then be heard to yell "Lake, he's going for the gun!"

Then there were three gunshots and then three more. The store owner reported that the officers then removed a gun from Sterling's pocket.

He had a gun in his pocket? Another Darwin Award nominee.

If they thought he was going for his gun I can understand firing. But six bullets? I suppose in the panic of the moment no one bothers to count. Besides they could have come from two guns. It's not clear which officer or officers fired.

These two seem to have a better case than the cop in Minnesota but who knows?

Both cases are being independently investigated by the Department of Justice which I also find disturbing. It means either local authorities no longer have confidence in their own ability to impartially investigate incidents or, more likely, they no longer believe their investigations will be believed by the public.

Either is a really, really bad thing.

I have no opinions on these two cases because all the facts aren't in. I suppose we shall see what we shall see as the investigations proceed.


Five police officers are dead, killed by a black marksman. Exactly why Micah Xavier Johnson decided to begin a one man war isn't entirely clear but he apparently frequented extremist sites that called for the killing of police officers.

I've seen this all before. A rash of unjustified and questionable police shooting of black men followed by whack job calls for retribution resulting in dead police officers.

This isn't the way to accomplish change. This is just going to get a lot of people dead.

So what about Black Lives Matter, the group protesting police killings of black men in Louisiana and Minnesota? Are they a positive group for change for a negative group making matters worse?

To my mind the jury is still out on that one. I understand the concept that there is an implied "too" at the end of the BLM name. I just think it would be better if it was overt rather than implied.

Be that as it may, killing police officers is unacceptable. I can't think of a better way to turn people against you.

As I've told a number of black acquaintances, you can't win without white support. A lot of white support. Praise Martin Luther King Jr. all you want but without large numbers of whites being revolted and horrified by southern white tactics during the 1960s the Civil Rights movement might still be trying to accomplish it's minimum objectives.

Is racism completely done? Of course not and it probably never will be. But at least it's no longer a de jure fact of life. That doesn't help guys like Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, but it should give the rest of us some hope.

Tuesday, July 05, 2016

Hillary Clinton's E-Mails

I happened to be on the treadmill this morning when FBI Director James Comey gave his report on Clinton's use of personal e-mail servers.

They reviewed and recreated something like 31,000 emails. Of those something like 110 were flagged as potentially classified and 52 of those were determined to contain information which was classified at the time; 8 as Top Secret, 36 as Secret and 8 at Confidential.

Confidential is usually personnel information such as reviews or salary information but Secret and especially Top Secret are designations usually reserved for technical or policy information which could cause harm to US interests or US personnel if it became known to hostile agents.

I say usually because assigning classifications to stuff is far from an exact science. Often it comes down to what someone thinks is important and sometimes even oblique allusions to classified information can be construed as classified in and of itself.

None of that excuses being careless with this stuff and the FBI directer criticized both Clinton specifically and the State Department in general for being extremely careless in their handling of sensitive information.

That's a polite way of saying "how fucking stupid can you be?"

However, the FBI recommended that no charges be filed.

I think the issue probably wasn't carelessness as much as arrogance. Anyone who has had to navigate through government e-mail servers in general, and classified government e-mail servers in particular, knows they tend to be slow and far from the state of the art.

Worse is when you're on the road, there generally isn't any physical access to classified networks and you have to resort to awkward solutions such as individually encrypting the e-mails, usually with other slow, out of date software.

Well, the time of people high up in the State Department must be too fucking important to follow the rules and go through a little extra effort. That's arrogance and not carelessness.

What a dummy. If this had come out a year or two ago Sanders would be the nominee but now, unless someone can figure out how to pull a rabbit out of a hat, it's going to be Clinton or Trump.

Trump is such a poor choice that even if Clinton had published state secrets in the Washington Post I'd still vote for her over Trump.

And that's a sad commentary on the state of things.

Monday, July 04, 2016

Over 11,000 Amendments

A new exhibit at the National Archives is about the over 11,000 amendments proposed to the US Constitution. All of the attempts are listed on a 225 foot banner in the National Archives.

Of the 11,372 at last count, only 27 have passed and two of those, Prohibition and the Repeal of Prohibition, canceled each other out.

Some of them have been real doozies including:

A proposed amendment in 1861 to protect slavery.

An amendment proposed in 1912 that would have banned blacks from marrying whites or people of other races.

An amendment to replace the presidency with an executive council.

An amendment to change the selection of the president to a lottery. Each state would nominate a candidate and then the name would be chosen by chance.

An amendment to outlaw drunkenness.

An amendment to prohibit anyone who had participated in a duel from holding public office.

An amendment in 1888 to give the vote to widows and spinsters. Married women didn't need it because they had their husbands to vote for them. Hmm, interesting idea.

And last, but not unexpected, a 19th century amendment to put the authority for the Constitution in God and Jesus Christ rather than We the People.

The almost zero chance of success is why I ignore e-mails about any attempt to amend the Constitution.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Britain Votes to Leave the European Union

In something of a surprise British voters decided to leave the EU yesterday. The vote caused a 500 plus point hit in the US Stock Market, the immediate resignation of British PM David Cameron and began a two year process that will see Britain exit the EU.

England and Wales supported leaving the EU while Scotland and Northern Ireland voted overwhelmingly to remain. After the results were announced nationalist parties in both Scotland and Northern Island began calling for another referendum to leave the United Kingdom.

As for why the so-called Brexit referendum passed. the reasons were primarily centered around immigration, the disaster that many view the Euro as becoming and issues related to British sovereignty and control of its own domestic policies.

Basically it comes down to economic issues and nativism. You know, the same drums that Trump is banging on.

If you're a Trumpette you should be pleased with the Brexit result except of course most Trumpettes are too self centered to even be aware of the situation or at least they were until the media started telling them what a positive for Trump this could be.

Personally I don't think it's going to make much of a difference this November. Americans are far to parochial to let what the Brits or anyone else does have much of an effect on their votes.

Unless of course there is an immediate economic hiccup in the US as a result. That would help Trump immensely. But it sounds like the Federal Reserve is going to try its best to prevent that from happening. How successful they'll be remains to be seen,

Monday, June 13, 2016


Another mass shooting. This one at a gay bar by a person who is being described as a self-radicalized Islamic radical.

How's that for bringing everything that seems to be wrong these days, guns, homophobia and radical Islam, into a not so neat package?

The reaction from the right wing is unbelievable, Everything from false flag accusations to blaming the victims for the attack.

Trump immediately claimed that this demonstrated he was right about terrorism.

That statement pretty much demonstrated much of what I see wrong with Trump. His immediate reaction was related to himself. That shows a degree of egotism that borders on the edge of mental instability.

Then the thought seemed to travel directly from the primitive area of his brain, bypassing the underdeveloped rational processes, straight to his mouth. That shows a total lack off self control and discipline.

As for the issue of guns, we'll get a lot of hand wringing and angst in the coming days. Then we'll get the same old tired bullshit platitudes like "guns don't people, people kill people" and "what happens if someone kills someone with a hammer, you going to ban hammers?"

Yes it takes action by a person to kill but, hammers are designed for driving nails. If you use it as a weapon you're using it for a purpose for which it wasn't intended. But the only reason for the existence of a gun is to be used as a weapon and that's the difference between a hammer and a gun.

In the past I've said I just want to keep guns out of the hands of criminals, the mentally unstable and those people just too plain stupid to handle them properly. I said I had no problem with "responsible gun owners." Recently I've begun to think that "responsible gun owner" is an oxymoron.

But nothing will happen other than the election campaign coffers of Republican legislatures will get a fresh influx on NRA dollars. Nothing will continue to happen until people stop voting Republican until the party cleans house and returns to its fiscally conservative, socially moderate roots.