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Archive for the ‘Commentaries’ Category

Pandemic Gardening

During the pandemic, we have spent more time in the yard, and one of the fruits of our labor were bell peppers.

To put this in perspective:

The two peppers on the left we bought at the market for 99 cents.

The two peppers on the right we grew ourselves. Given the cost of the plants, the planter, the irrigation, they probably cost 99 dollars, and it took at least 3 months to grow them.

Time and money well-spent.

I won’t talk about our carrots. Not a single one succeeded. I think we planted too late, and we have to start again in the spring. Good thing we’re not dependent on living off the land.

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Here is Elmo with an umbrella.

When it rains outside, we can use an umbrella to stay dry.

If you don’t use an umbrella, and you go out in the rain, you get all wet.

Getting wet is not good.

Staying dry is good.

That’s why we use an umbrella in the rain.

Elmo is smart.

He uses an umbrella.

 

 

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I have voted.

I have voted by mail for at least the last 20 years.

This year, it’s more controlled than ever. I signed up for tracking of my ballot, and I am getting texts every step of the way. I received a text when my ballot was mailed to me. I filled it out on Tuesday and dropped it into the mailbox down the street.

Today I got this text:

I am not sure it could get any better than that. California can do it. Why can’t all states do this?

We are registered by our driver’s licenses, passports, social security numbers, and all out banking methods. We have a registry of voters in every state, it’s called the “Registrar of Voters.” A simple ballot tracking system would make voting safe, speedy and efficient, and every vote can be counted.

But then again, the NRA does not want a national registry of gun ownership. I wonder why.

And it appears the GOP does not want safe, expeditious and effective ballot tracking. I wonder why.

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Alice Cooper is known as the “godfather of shock rock.” Here is a performance of his hit Elected, done in 2016 over 44 years after the song first came out, just before the showdown between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, the fateful election of the two most unfortunate choices in American history.

I was 16 when Elected came out and it influenced my taste for Rock ‘n’ Roll. Alice Cooper was never a rock hero to me, but he still was involved in building the memory foundations of my youth. His music brings back that time of my life.

In 2013 Alice Cooper did an insightful AMA (“ask me anything” session) on Reddit that is very much worth reading. Contrary to what his stage personality portrays, he seems to be a smart, level-headed, articulate and sensitive person with a lot of history and deep insight into show business.

And of course – School’s Out for Summer, School’s Out for Ever is all too true in the age of the Coronavirus.

 

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A friend forwarded to me the commentary below, which I printed here verbatim.

The question remains for me then: In order to hate liberals, you have to know how to recognize one. What is a liberal, versus, for the sake of argument, a conservative? Or a non-liberal?

I consider myself fairly conservative, but I am usually labeled a liberal. I don’t own a single firearm. Does that make me a liberal? I do not believe in corruption in government. Does that make me a liberal?

I wonder if there is a definition.

The question was posed, “Why do people continue supporting Trump no matter what he does?” A lady named Bev answered it this way:

“You all don’t get it. I live in Trump country, in the Ozarks in southern Missouri, one of the last places where the KKK still has a relatively strong established presence. They don’t give a shit what he does. He’s just something to rally around and hate liberals, that’s it, period.

He absolutely realizes that and plays it up. They love it. He knows they love it.

The fact that people act like it’s anything other than that proves to them that liberals are idiots, all the more reason for high fives all around.

If you keep getting caught up in “why do they not realize this problem” and “how can they still back Trump after this scandal,” then you do not understand what the underlying motivating factor of his support is. It’s fuck liberals, that’s pretty much it.

Have you noticed he can do pretty much anything imaginable, and they’ll explain some way that rationalizes it that makes zero logical sense?

Because they’re not even keeping track of any coherent narrative, it’s irrelevant. Fuck liberals is the only relevant thing.

Trust me; I know firsthand what I’m talking about.

That’s why they just laugh at it all because you all don’t even realize they truly don’t give a fuck about whatever the conversation is about.

It’s just a side mission story that doesn’t matter anyway.

That’s all just trivial details – the economy, health care, whatever.

Fuck liberals.

Look at the issue with not wearing the masks.

I can tell you what that’s about. It’s about exposing fear. They’re playing chicken with nature, and whoever flinches just moved down their internal pecking order, one step closer to being a liberal.

You’ve got to understand the one core value that they hold above all others is hatred for what they consider weakness because that’s what they believe strength is, hatred of weakness.

And I mean passionate, sadistic hatred.

And I’m not exaggerating. Believe me.

Sadistic, passionate hatred, and that’s what proves they’re strong, their passionate hatred for weakness.

Sometimes they will lump vulnerability in with weakness.

They do that because people tend to start humbling themselves when they’re in some compromising or overwhelming circumstance, and to them, that’s an obvious sign of weakness.

Kindness = weakness. Honesty = weakness.

Compromise = weakness.

They consider their very existence to be superior in every way to anyone who doesn’t hate weakness as much as they do.

They consider liberals to be weak people that are inferior, almost a different species, and the fact that liberals are so weak is why they have to unite in large numbers, which they find disgusting, but it’s that disgust that is a true expression of their natural superiority.

Go ahead and try to have a logical, rational conversation with them. Just keep in mind what I said here and be forewarned.”

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So many deaths. We have the most deaths of all countries. Some of these people were great people, terrific people – on both sides. We have a 9/11 every four or five days now. Horrific numbers. In America, we like big numbers, tremendous numbers. No country has numbers like we do. Of course, people tell me that not all of these deaths are virus deaths. Some of these people were old and would have died anyway. That makes them fake deaths. It’s not our fault that they died, some of them. Nobody could have expected this. It’s not our fault.

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In the age of Trump, where the federal government continuously slams and attacks California and Oregon, I think we Californians should take a different approach.

Trump acts like California is a burden to the United States. Far from it. California pays far more to the federal government than it gets back.

But be that as it may, we don’t want to be a burden, do we?  I think we should form a new nation, called Pacifica. Some people have called the California secession the Calexit. We should invite Oregon and Washington to join us.

Then, for good measure, we should also invite Baja California and British Columbia to join us too. There is a good chance they might be interested. This would be the map of the new nation Pacifica:

 

We would have six states, named from north to south:

  • Columbia – we would drop the “British” part.
  • Washington – the current Washington State
  • Oregon –
  • Jefferson – that would be what is now California north of the Bay Area
  • California – Bay Area to the Mexican border
  • Baja – current Baja California and Baja California Sur.

Our capital should be Portland, Oregon, since it’s centrally located.

We would be the most diverse people in the world, with significant Asian and Latino populations.

To make the economic case, this is a chart of the current population and GDP of the component states:

Pacifica would be the 4th largest economy in the world, according to the chart below, with a $4 trillion economy.


Not only that, Pacifica would have the highest GDP per capita (see yellow cell above) in the world. We would be by far the richest nation of all the large economies.

All of the leading tech companies, and the largest and most valuable companies in the world would be in Pacifica, including Amazon, Microsoft, Google, Facebook, Tesla, SpaceX and Boeing.

SpaceX would no longer fly out of the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Since Pacifica does not have an ocean to its east, we’d go back to Kwajalein Island, an atoll between Guam and Hawaii, where SpaceX flew its very first rockets back starting in 2005. We would invite Kwajalein Island, a U.S. Territory, to join us, or we’d rent part of the island for a space port.

Alaska and Hawaii would always be welcome to join Pacifica if they so chose.

We would have great forests in the north in Columbia, thousands of miles of pristine beachfront property in Baja to fuel a real estate boom on the peninsula never seen before. Tourists from all over the world would flock to Pacifica’s southern peninsula for vacations in the sun.

Given our massive economy, great weather, and enormous natural resources, we would have an unprecedented economic boom, and with a population of only 60 million in our large country, we would welcome immigration.

We would not build any walls. Refugees coming into Pacifica through the deserts of the Southwest from Idaho, Nevada, Arizona and Mexico, would always be welcome, and we’d issue guest worker visas for them if they wanted to get jobs in Pacifica. We’d have a guest worker program that would provide a path to citizenship within five years of residency.

I am ready to start drafting the constitution.

Let’s get started!

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Of course, right now we don’t have a real leader. We have Donald Trump, a man who can’t fathom empathy or express empathy, who can’t laugh or cry, love or be loved — a damaged narcissist who is unable to see the true existence of other human beings except insofar as they are good or bad for himself.

David Brooks in the New York Times

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40 million Americans have lost their jobs in the last three months.

1.7 million Americans are infected with the Covid-19 virus, and over 103,000 Americans have died of it.

There has been racial rioting in all the major cities in the country during the past week.

There is no end in sight to the violence, destruction, and the curve of the disease.

Is this the America that is “great again” that we were all promised?

Has anybody noticed that it’s not working? It looks more like dystopia to me.

I am tired of all this winning.

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Next Wednesday, May 27, 2020, is a big day. For the first time since July 8, 2011, American astronauts will be launched on an American spaceship from American soil.

When NASA grounded the space shuttle fleet in 2011, I didn’t think it was a good idea, and I never would have thought that for almost 10 years America would not have the capacity to launch humans into space. Of course, I also didn’t think in 1973 that we would not return to the moon for another at least 50 years.

On May 6, 2002, a 29-year-old South African immigrant named Elon Musk started a little company called SpaceX in Hawthorne, California. He wanted to make space travel cheaper so Mars could be colonized. I was a businessman in 2002, and if you had asked me if it was a good idea to start a rocket company I would have said you were insane. If you then had asked me if it was a good idea a year later to also start a car manufacturer in the United States, I would have said you’re insane squared. Musk did both of those things in 2002 and 2003 respectively, and has run both of those companies in parallel ever since. If you want to read a good biography of Musk, I can highly recommend Ashlee Vance’s Elon Musk.

The rocket and the spaceship that will launch two American veteran astronauts next Wednesday are built by SpaceX. This will be the first time ever a private company launches humans into orbit. I would not have thought this was possible in 2002. If told it was, I would have bet that the company doing it would be Boeing, or McDonnell Douglas, or Lockheed, but certainly not a startup.

I have been a businessman all my life myself. I have had many product launches, and deployments of new things for the first time. I know what it’s like to bet your company on a single product or a single project, and then succeed. I also know what it’s like that last night before “go live” when a thousand things can go wrong and make the whole project come crashing down. I know that the CEO can’t sleep the night before an important launch. I know how it feels when the pulse races, and the circular thinking at 2:30am does not let you calm down. I know what it feels like when all is at stake.

But even knowing all this, I cannot imagine what it must be like in Elon Musk’s life right now, for the next few days, when all is at stake and all the world watches as two American astronauts sit on top of a stack of highly explosive fuel to go to orbit, something no private company has ever done before. If something goes wrong, people die.

The pressure must be enormous.

I will be watching, and I am rooting for SpaceX and Musk.

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Trump is messing with the postal service. There is a push to privatize it.

Germans started privatizing their “Deutsche Bundespost” in 1998, and went through several transactions. It’s generally considered a success.

I am not advocating that the United States Postal Service be privatized per se, but I have to criticize it.

In today’s world, and by that I mean the world in the last 15 years, there is no reason why the postal service is not wildly successful. We’re shipping more than ever. With the pandemic, that is even more accentuated.

Any organization in the business of shipping goods should be flourishing. The postal service is not. And it is not for the lack of a dedicated and experienced workforce. It’s because of mismanagement.

The postal service needs commercial leadership, not politicians or bureaucrats, to lead it. Do I sound like a privatization hawk? Yes, I do.

The postal service needs help and work. But now is not the time. We have enough problems on our hands. We need to unplug 2020, wait 10 seconds, and then plug it back in. Right now is not the time to mess with the United States Postal Service. That’s for another year.

I am going to the post office this week to buy a couple of rolls of stamps to boost its revenue.

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Trump looked sick. Not well. Nervous. He did not sound like a leader we should trust and follow.

Announcing cessation of trade with Europe was a mistake. He didn’t mean that.

Exempting the U.K. from the travel restriction with Europe makes no sense. There are more cases of infection in the U.K. than in many EU nations.

With more than 7,000 infections in the U.S., a travel restriction with Europe makes no more sense. Europe is not our problem. It is now our own infrastructure.

While deaths are still low, if they increase like in Iran, Italy and South Korea, they will overwhelm our hospital capacity. Trump didn’t even talk about that. A huge omission.

Trump didn’t talk about social distancing. A huge omission.

Trump didn’t talk about tests and testing capacity. This is now more important than anything.

This morning, the DOW is down another 2000 points since yesterday. It’s getting close to the level it was when Trump first took office. Obviously, the market didn’t believe Trump last night and he didn’t invoke the world’s confidence.

Trump’s juvenile tweets and schoolyard name calling tactics may work against political opponents, but a pandemic could not care less. It moves forward based on scientific reality, not wishful presidential thinking and propaganda.

Trump’s address was a lost opportunity and therefore an epic fail.

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Check out how Trump interrupts Azar and puts in his own comments. I really wonder what the people standing with him there are really thinking.

Our president has a natural ability for medicine, as we hear in the second video.

All of us should feel very comfortable now about our government’s ability to handle a potential pandemic crisis, since, as we just heard the president say: “The tests are beautiful.”

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Here is a real-life cartoon out of the Bismarck Daily Tribune of Feb 21, 1920:

[click to enlarge]

I guess some things don’t change in a hundred years. Today, I am worried about Taxes, the High Cost of Everything, Politics, Congress, Unrest, maybe not the Flu, but the Corona Virus, and definitely Profiteering, particularly by corrupt government leaders.

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