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Monday, August 31, 2020

Success

California Bob opines about success, politics and personality, excerpted from an email conversation:

Trump's appeal is similar to the appeal of an Arnold Schwarzenegger, Rocky Balboa, Kid rock, Hulk Hogan, Jesse Ventura...  

Growing up, we are fed the general rules about becoming a productive member of society: follow the rules, be fair, be cooperative, study and learn, treat others as you would like to be treated, etc.  But there is a big subset of people, mostly young men, who have a real problem with that.  They don't want to have to follow rules or listen to people, they don't want to have to be civil or considerate.  So when they see someone who's brash and craps all over convention, AND who becomes successful in spite of it, it validates their sociopathic instincts.  "See? Kanye West is a big jerk and he's totally rich! I'm short-changing myself if I don't let my inner jerk run free!"

And to be fair, those who achieve big things often have a high jerk factor that allows them to elbow others aside. I'm guessing Wellington was probably a huge jerk. But they usually also have some kind of talent that gives them an advantage. 

When I finally started to encounter successful people in my life, one of my most demoralizing discoveries was that a lot of them are in fact huge jerks. But of course they generally also have some other talent: a huge amount of focus or energy, ivy league degrees, genius skills in math or rhetoric or logic, or something.  Just being a jerk is not enough.  Jerks with no compensating talent are very common, and the penitentiaries are full of them.

Trump is a jerk whose success is largely due to luck, however he does have some talents: he has a ton of energy, he's pretty relentless, and he's completely oblivious to conventions and institutions, so he's not constrained by anything that's not inscribed in law (sometimes not even then).

Of course just following the rules isn't necessarily enough to achieve great things. Rules and conventions are designed to ensure a smooth running of society, or put another way, keep the peasants docile and tractable.  But there's nothing wrong with that. If everybody pursues their inner jerk, you just have chaos.

That's the problem with this relentless obsession on "individual liberty" -- for most people, maximizing individual liberty would mean devolving into homeless bands of drifters.  And it has, in fact.

I give Trump good odds of winning the election.  The FEC is under the executive branch. We've seen many overt acts by this admin to sabotage government, no reason to expect there won't be covert acts to sabotage the election -- they have fellow travellers throughout the system who are more than willing to destroy ballots or just fake the reporting.  Lastly the media has taken on a nagging coverage of COVID and the "protests" which is just annoying people, this all redounds to Trump's benefit.

The losers here are going to be the lower classes, who will continue to be pressured by shrinking wages and benefits.  When it's gradual over generations they won't notice.  I'll try to send some pics of our new neighborhoods which consist of armies of derelict RV's filled with derelict people.

To recap the Trump appeal has nothing to do with politics and everything to do with sociopaths saying "I'm under no obligation to follow the rules."

I find it curious that Bob suspects the Trumper's will try and steal the election, since this is exactly the same thing all my right-wing pundits are saying about the Democrats.

Movies about Midwest Car Factories, then and now


American Factory | Official Trailer | Netflix
Netflix

California Bob sent me the link to the American Factory (documentary) trailer (above). It reminded me of Gung Ho, a 'comedy' I saw many moons ago.


Gung Ho - Trailer
YouTube Movies

Different takes on the same subject, 34 years apart.

Giri / Haji


Giri / Haji | Official Trailer | Netflix

Wikipedia article.

Also known as Duty / Shame. We watched this back in April and it was pretty great. This morning Ross mentions it and as he talks about it I slowly come to realize that I have seen it, so I go looking for my blog post about it, because surely I would have written one, but nothing turns up until I look in my drafts folder and here we are.


Sunday, August 30, 2020

Socotra Island


Living ALONE on Yemen's Remote Socotra Island
Eva zu Beck

Zerohedge reports that Israel & the United Arab Emirates have teamed up to establish a listening post on Socotra Island. Israel & the UAE? Aren't they bitter enemies? Evidently that was last week, now they are, if not allies, at least cooperating:
Since the start of the Saudi-led intervention in Yemen, the UAE, formally a Saudi ally, and the UAE-backed Southern Transitional Council, a Yemeni separatist movement that is formally allied with the Saudi-backed government in Aden, have established control over most of Socotra Island. For years, the UAE has been seeking to annex the island due to its strategic location. The collapse of the Yemeni statehood due to the years-long instability and the foreign intervention paved a way for more direct actions. The creation of a military infrastructure there is a logical step in this strategy. - South Front
That's formal allies, not former allies, which is what I read the first time I read it. That 'formal' business  makes me wonder just how strong their ties are.

I guess the lines in the Mideast have shifted from being between the Jews and the Musslemen to being between two flavors of Musslemen: the Saudis and the Iranians. The southern Arabs have made peace with the USA and the Jews. Yes, the guys who caused 9-11 were Saudis, but I don't think they were acting on the King's orders. They were rebels who couldn't launch an attack in Saudi Arabia because the secret police there would have smashed them flat, so they attacked the source of the King's power.

Anyway, this got my attention because I remember doing another post about this place.

Left to right, markers are for Asmara (Capital of Eritrea), Emba Soira (called Mount Ambassaira in the linked stories) and Socotra Island

P.S. The linked story contains a video. The audio track starts out sounding like it is being done by a person, but after a bit something about it, perhaps the way it doesn't change, makes me think it is being done by a computer. Anyway, it is just reading the article, so you don't need to listen to it.

P.S. #2. I like to include a picture with my posts, but when I searched, this video popped up and I think it's pretty good.

Friday, August 28, 2020

Disappointment

 

Just because we need a picture

Stolen entire from retiredmustang:
Disappointment can be a killer. Let me see if I can explain.

There is currently a bit of kerfuffle taking place on FB. It involves Larry Correia and David Brin as the two “antagonists,” if you will. The specifics aren’t all that important and I won’t link to it here. You can travel to the book of face and a quick search will allow you to read all the unpleasantness, should you so choose. What I want to suggest is that one of the two, David Brin, seems to exhibit what I’ve seen from other people when faced with profound disappointment when society consistently fails to change to meet up with their expectations. If this goes on long enough, some people don’t seem inclined to accept that and move on (or re-evaluate their expectations). Instead, something else happens. They begin to become bitter. With each successive year or realization that what they want or what they predicted hasn’t occurred and isn’t likely to, that bitterness increases. I have seen it happen to people in all walks of life more than once. In the end, they tend to become not just bitter, but angry, old and used up. It’s sad, really, because quite often they are people who held such promise and who were so optimistic about the future. To see them reduced to increasingly shrill sniping at those who dare disagree with them is almost embarrassing.

I don’t have a guaranteed recipe for how to avoid this. I just know I don’t want to wind up a tired, angry, bitter old man.

Thursday, August 27, 2020

Prince William Sound


Prince William Sound - Nick


Prince William Sound (red placemark)
Showing Anchorage (upper left), Valdez (upper right) and Seward (lower left)

Wikipedia has a bit of history about this place:

James Cook entered Prince William Sound in 1778 [right in the middle of the American Revolutionary War] . . . was named to honour George III's third son Prince William Henry, then aged 13 and serving as a midshipman in the Royal Navy.

Which would have made him a contemporary of the fictional Lucky Jack Aubrey which is important because I am almost done with rereading the second volume of the series.

Via Iaman


On the Rocks


The incredible ibex defies gravity and climbs a dam | Forces of Nature with Brian Cox - BBC
BBC

I had seen pictures of these guys before, but I thought they just like climbing on rocks and maybe nibbling on a little lichen or something. Looking for salt makes more sense.

The dam is the Cingino Dam in the Italian Alps.

This giant frigging dam is the little gray smudge along the bottom edge of the lake.

Via California Bob

Billy Squier - In The Dark


Billy Squier - In The Dark (HD) - 1981
Savat

Heard this on the radio the other day, recognized it immediately but couldn't come up with the name or the artist. Playing the song in my head, trying to remember the lyrics and I come up with 'hypnotize' which gets me nowhere because it's not in the song. Then I search for 'the illusion is real' and I get a whole bunch of stuff, including this page, which gets me the answer.

One of these days somebody is going to come up with a program that can identify a song if you can just hum a few bars. Shoot, somebody has probably already done that, but I'm not going to look for it. I'm not sure I could even hum a few bars.


City Camping

 

PMG PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Tents pitched in a parking lot at Westside Commons, formerly know as the Washington County Fair Complex, where the county has opened a camping facility for unhoused people to reduce the risk of COVID-19 spreading in unofficial camps.

Hillsboro now has an official campground for homeless, er, unhoused, people. Seems like camping in a parking lot would be uncomfortably hot, but what do I know? The story in the HillsboroNewsTimes mentions COVID-19 ten times, like it is somehow more important than having a place to sleep, but what do I know? Not very much apparently.



Tuesday, August 25, 2020

America

Schwinn Sting Ray Bicycle with Baseball Bat Carrier

What do you think when you see this? It used to be that baseball bats were used for playing baseball. Not sure if anybody even plays baseball anymore outside of officially organized games.

Pickup Truck Gun Rack

This was a common sight when I was living in Ohio 50 years ago. It was probably a common sight when I lived in Texas, but by then I had become so accustomed to it that I didn't even notice. I suspect the reason for having the gun rack mounted so the gun was visible has to do with gun laws. If it's plainly visible, it's not concealed, which is what lawmen are concerned with.

I caught a ride with a guy in a pickup truck in New Mexico once. He had a big ol' 44 revolver sitting in plain sight on the dashboard. That got my attention, but I think it was there for the same reason. If it's sitting in plain sight, it's not concealed.

Via Iaman

Monday, August 24, 2020

Funnies

 











Glorious Bad News


Bad News Hot Rod
Four Speed Films

This post doesn't really have anything to do with cars. I Googled the title and this was the first image that popped up, and because I am a sucker for hotrods, it's here. Hemmings Motor News has the story about the car. But now back to the original topic.

I really don't understand what's going on. The COVID-19 panic doesn't make any sense to me, and the Black Lives Matter campaign is just a lot of noise. On one hand I would like to think that there is a cabal of evil motherfuckers orchestrating these two piles of crap. On the other, maybe there is no one directing it, maybe it's just a big pinwheel of fire that some idiots lit and now it's going to keep burning bigger and faster until it finally breaks free of its axle and goes hurtling out into the darkness.

Stories about riots and rampant disease draw a bigger audience which means more advertising revenue for the big companies that are producing these stories, which means they are going to produce more such stories, each one more inflammatory than the last, so the pinwheel burns brighter and spins faster.

In other words, the big media companies have found a magic formula for making more money and if it destroys the world economy and Western Civilization, well that's just too bad. Their profits are up and that's all that matters.

JMSmith has a couple of excellent posts about the flood of bullshit sweeping the country. The Unwanted Blog has one as well that includes this quote:
“The time would be easy to know, for then mankind would have become as the Great Old Ones; free and wild and beyond good and evil, with laws and morals thrown aside and all men shouting and killing and revelling in joy. Then the liberated Old Ones would teach them new ways to shout and kill and revel and enjoy themselves, and all the earth would flame with a holocaust of ecstasy and freedom.” ― H.P. Lovecraft, The Call of Cthulhu and Other Mythos Tales

P.S.  Tom Luongo has great post on Gold Goats N' Guns. He definitely believes in the conspiracy of evil motherfuckers. Via Tyler Durden on Zerohedge



Saturday, August 22, 2020

Candela Seven


World-first all-electric foiling sportsboat explained | Candela Seven | Motor Boat & Yachting
Motor Boat & Yachting

People have building hyrdofoil boats for over 100 years, but they have never gotten to be popular or numerous. The basic concept seems sound, but there seem to be difficulties in implementing a successful design. The Candela Seven uses a computer to control the hyrdofoils to deliver a smooth, easily controlled ride. Seems like most hydrofoils I have heard about also require computer control.  The Candela Seven is a slick bit of engineering, but it is expensive ($250,000). 

The numbers quoted in the video go a long way toward summarizing the constraints on the design.

Via Detroit Steve.

Friday, August 21, 2020

Future Blast


Looks like some people are getting serious about building a supersonic business jet.






Blast from the Past


1958 F-100 USES SHORT "RUNWAY"

Popular Mechanics has a story about a couple Cold War era F-100 fighter jets that are for sale. The Cold War spawned all kinds of crazy ideas:
The F-100’s most dramatic trick involved taking off without an airfield. One of the most vexing problems facing the Air Force during the Cold War was getting planes off the ground during wartime, when the Soviet Union was anticipated to target NATO runways. In response, the Zero-Length Launch program sought to do away with runways altogether by installing a Rocketdyne XM-34 solid rocket booster under a F-100. In just 5 seconds, the XM-34 could boost the F-100 to an altitude of 400 feet and speed of 275 miles an hour. (How the F-100 landed on a damaged runway was never explained.)

Via FlightAware

The F-100 has appeared here before in more than one guise.


 

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Matthew Walker


10 strand Matthew Walker + 5 strand plait
Philip Le Masurier

I'm reading Post Captain by Patrick O'Brian (page 210) and he mentions that one of the seamen is a fine hand at the Mathew Walker knot and here we are.

The video starts with a simple braid, but that only takes a couple of minutes, the rest of video is devoted to tying the Mathew Walker.

Wikipedia tells us:
The traditional use of the knot is to form a knob or "stopper" to prevent the end of the rope from passing through a hole, for instance in rigging the lanyards which tension the shrouds on older sailing ships with standing rigging of fiber cordage.
Wikipedia also has a story about how the knot got its name.

Pic of the Day

Senior Center Welcome Sign
Ain't that a fine howdy do.

Via Liberalguy

Repent, Sinner!


The Be Good Tanyas - Waiting Around To Die (Live at The Railway Club)
nettwerkbackstage

Iaman points out a comment on Hackaday post about preparing your workshop for your inevitable exit from this mortal coil (whatever a coil is, presumably it's some archaic slang for 'life'):
"My dad had kilos of really dangerous chemicals, the sorts of things that he had to work to get in the late 1950’s. Cleaning that out of mom’s basement when he died was really scary. (Plywood box with 1/4″ lead plate lining the whole inside, full of clearly different metals and mineral specimens. Open, slam the top back down, and go borrow a geiger counter…)
I feel like culling dangerous stuff from your collection is something that’s your right-now responsibility. If you need a liter of fuming nitric acid, get it, use it, and get rid of the remains. It’s fine to keep old oscilloscopes because those won’t maim or kill people. But steel containers full of diethyl ether are wildly irresponsible to keep. (Sorry, dad.) They turn explosive if they don’t first absorb water, rust out, and fill the house full of ether fumes at 2AM."
P.S. The song was written by Townes Van Zandt. Lyrics here.

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Campaign Zero

Campaign Zero
I have not been impressed with the Black Lives Matter campaign, matter of fact I think they are pretty useless. There seem to be a large number of people and groups who are devoting their energy to 'raising consciousness', but very few who are working to actually make some meaningful changes to the system. Campaign Zero seems to be one of the later.

Coyote Blog writes about them, and since I remember reading other things on Coyote Blog that I liked, maybe Campaign Zero is all right too.

Death Rates

Deaths above normal in the South
I found this graph on a blog post that goes into some detail about what this graph shows. It's pretty good.

This is not a bad graph. It doesn't specify what is causing the rise in death rates, but we can presume they are being caused by COVID-19. It would be helpful if we had a similar graph for previous pandemics like the swine flu or the Hong Kong flu. I suspect they would be very similar to this one, though they might have peaked earlier.

Might be a good chart, depending on where the underlying data came from. The whole pandemic thing has gotten so politicized that all data is under suspicion of being corrupted.

At the end of the story, the author writes:
"The above description leaves out a huge chunk of work related to computing excess deaths." 
A huge chunk of work? Yes, you would have to come up with a formula to do the computation, but once you have that it is a simple matter to copy & paste it into the rest of the column. I dunno, maybe some people are not familiar with copy & paste operations.

Collecting the data would be the bigger effort, but presumably that is being done by government agencies, not some starving journalist working his fingers to the bone.

Via Detroit Steve

Market Street Exit Ramp

Market Street Exit Ramp
Blue line follows the exit ramp from highway 26 into downtown Portland.
The yellow area is a prime camping area.
The red line is a stretch of sidewalk that is almost entirely covered by tents.
I wrote a letter to the mayor of Portland this morning:
to mayorwheeler 
I drive into Portland from Hillsboro on highway 26 most every morning. This morning I encountered a couple of people on the Market Street exit ramp. There are no provisions for pedestrians on this section of road. The exit ramp does not even have any shoulders. 
This is a very dangerous situation. 
I suspect this is just one more indicator of the growing homeless population. 
Since we apparently have not made any progress in housing the homeless, might I suggest that you establish some campgrounds within the city limits. While not a wonderful solution, it could help alleviate some of the problems we are dealing with. 
If you cannot find a suitable site for a campground, might I suggest turning some of the city parks into campgrounds.

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

AMEX NBA Ad


NBA | Trade Up | American Express
American Express

I was watching a bit of NBA basketball this evening and this ad showed up at halftime. I laughed out loud! I couldn't imagine anything more ridiculous: trying to recruit credit card customers by offering them free trade ins on their favorite players basketball jerseys. Or maybe that's just the viewpoint of someone who is too much of a cheapskate to be a fanatic basketball fan.

I never cared for clothes that carried a logo or a name. Possibly I got it from my mother: why should you pay for clothes that carry advertising? They should be paying you to wear their clothes.

Whatever. Obviously I am not one of the cool kids. I suppose wearing these kind of clothes is sort of the same kind of thing as standing in line at Starbucks to get your morning fix of caffeine - it gives people a sense of belonging. People need something to believe in. Me, I believe I'll have another drink.


Saturday, August 15, 2020

Liver


Ferry Cross the Mersey (to Woolwich)
Jago Hazzard

I'm watching this video about a ferryboat that used to operate in Liverpool, crossing the Mersey river. They mention that Gerry & the Pacemakers did a couple of shows on board. They also wrote the tune:


GERRY & THE PACEMAKERS FERRY 'CROSS THE MERSEY
ROY STORNAWAY

It's not the same boat, but it is operating in Liverpool, and what's that big impressive building on the far side of the river?

The Royal Liver Building
Doh! That's why it's called Liverpool, it's where they pool all their livers, or some such, I have no idea, but I never made the connection between liver and Liverpool, and given that there is a big, fancy building on the Liverpool waterfront called The Royal Liver Building, I think there must be. Let's see what Wikipedia has to say:
Opened in 1911, the building is the purpose-built home of the Royal Liver Assurance group, which had been set up in the city in 1850 to provide locals with assistance related to losing a wage-earning relative.
Hmmm, doesn't sound like we're dealing with liver like you get from the butcher shop, more like someone who is alive, a liver if you will. Sounds awkward, but the English are always coming up with new awkward phrases, even if they are a century old. So Liverpool is basically an insurance company. People who are alive (livers) pool their money to deal with calamities.

We're not done yet. This evening we're watching Black Money Love, a Turkish murder mystery series set in Istanbul (naturally). We're several episodes into it. In one scene, our trio of dedicated coppers get food from a sidewalk stand and what do they get? Liver! I don't think I've had liver since I left home a zillion years ago. I certainly don't buy it, and I would have to study up on cooking it. I don't even remember what it tastes like. I have vague impressions of both being good and bad. I'll have to ask Osmany about it.


Black Money Love | Promo 
Kara Para Ask

On Netflix, in Turkish with English subtitles. 165 episodes, approximately 45 minutes each.

Gold versus Stocks

Stolen entire from Zerohedge. Buffet's comments on gold are solid.

Did Buffett Just Bet Against The US? Berkshire Buys Barrick Gold, Dumps Goldman

by Tyler Durden

This is going to get awkward. Berkshire Hathaway's latest 13F just dropped and contained inside is a signal that none other than the Oracle Of Omaha appears to now be quietly betting against The United States. Why? Because for years - in fact for as long we can remember - Warren Buffet has denigrated gold: In a speech delivered at Harvard in 1998, Buffett said:
“(Gold) gets dug out of the ground in Africa, or someplace. Then we melt it down, dig another hole, bury it again and pay people to stand around guarding it. It has no utility. Anyone watching from Mars would be scratching their head.
He once famously said:
Gold is a way of going long on fear, and it has been a pretty good way of going long on fear from time to time. But you really have to hope people become more afraid in a year or two years than they are now. And if they become more afraid you make money, if they become less afraid you lose money, but the gold itself doesn’t produce anything.”
In his 2011 letter, Buffett noted that for $9.6 trillion you could buy "pile a" — all of the gold in the world, or "pile b" — the entire US cropland (400 million acres) plus 16 ExxonMobils and still have another $1 trillion left over.
"Admittedly, when people a century from now are fearful, it's likely many will still rush to gold," he wrote. "I'm confident, however, that the $9.6 trillion current valuation of pile A will compound over the century at a rate far inferior to that achieved by pile B." 
In 2013, Buffett even went so far as to mock investors betting on gold, saying that there were better places to put your money.
“What motivates most gold purchasers is their belief that the ranks of the fearful will grow,” Buffett wrote in 2012. “During the past decade that belief has proved correct. Beyond that, the rising price has on its own generated additional buying enthusiasm, attracting purchasers who see the rise as validating an investment thesis. As ‘bandwagon’ investors join any party, they create their own truth -- for a while.”
At Berkshire's 2018 annual meeting, Buffett compared $10,000 invested in stocks and gold in 1942 (the first year he invested in stocks):
"... for every dollar you could have made in American business, you'd have less than a penny of gain by buying into a store of value which people tell you to run to every time you get scared by the headlines."
And in  his 2019 letter he reiterated:
"The magical metal was no match for the American mettle."
All of which makes the following even more stunning... According to the latest 13F, Howard Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway not only dumped all his airlines - as we learned previously but has also liquidated huge amounts of its exposure to US banks (exiting Goldman Sachs entirely).
  • Berkshire's JPMorgan Stake Down 62% to 22.2M Shrs
  • Berkshire's Wells Fargo Stake Down 26% to 238M Shrs
  • Berkshire trimmed its bet on PNC Financial and M&T Bank as well as Bank of New York Mellon Corp., Mastercard, and Visa.
  • Berkshire Exits Goldman stake entirely
And while he modestly added to his positions in Kroger, Store Cap and Suncor Energy, the only new stock he bought in Q2 was... the world's (formerly biggest) gold miner:
  • Berkshire took a new stake (20.9 million shares) in Barrick Gold, a holding that was valued at about $564 million at the end of that period.

Barrick Gold is up around 6% after hours...

Of course, we do note that this 13F filing reflects the stock picks of Buffett as well as his long-time deputies, Todd Combs and Ted Weschler. So it’s unclear who exactly put money to work in Barrick.


So, the famously anti-gold investor has abandoned banks - 'the backbone of America's credit-driven economy - in favor of a gold miner (which was the largest in the world until last year when Newmont bought Goldcorp). Is Buffett betting against America with a levered position on precious metals?



What is most ironic about all of this is that Warren's father, Howard Buffett, is among the great gold bugs of all time.
As we noted in 2010, a must read essay by Howard Buffett, father of the "legendary" investor who initially was so very much against derivatives then promptly changed his tune, discusses fiat money and gold, and concludes that "human freedom rests on gold redeemable money." In this stunningly simple, straightforward, and flawless analysis, Buffett's father stresses the relation between money and freedom and contends that without a redeemable currency, an individual's freedom and one's access to property is dependent on goodwill of politicians.  Buffett also says that paper money systems generally collapse and result in economic chaos. He goes on to observe that a gold standard would restrict government spending and give people greater power over the public purse. Lastly, back in 1948, Howard Buffett, said this the "present" is the right time to restore the gold standard. Alas, 60 years later, his advice has still been largely ignored, and as a result we have a global economy that stands on the precipice of global default with runaway budget deficits across the entire developed world. Key quotes:
"Is there a connection between Human Freedom and A Gold Redeemable Money? At first glance it would seem that money belongs to the world of economics and human freedom to the political sphere.  But when you recall that one of the first moves by Lenin, Mussolini and Hitler was to outlaw individual ownership of gold, you begin to sense that there may be some connection between money, redeemable in gold, and the rare prize known as human liberty. Also, when you find that Lenin declared and demonstrated that a sure way to overturn the existing social order and bring about communism was by printing press paper money, then again you are impressed with the possibility of a relationship between a gold-backed money and human freedom."
His conclusion is eerily prophetic with what is happening with US society currently:
"I warn you that politicians of both parties will oppose the restoration of gold, although they may outwardly seemingly favor it. Unless you are willing to surrender your children and your country to galloping inflation, war and slavery, then this cause demands your support. For if human liberty is to survive in America, we must win the battle to restore honest money."
And of course, he notes that the Federal Reserve is at the forefront of those who will do everything in their power to prevent a return of the gold standard:
Most opponents of free coinage of gold admit that that restoration is essential, but claim the time is not propitious. Some argue that there would be a scramble for gold and our enormous gold reserves would soon be exhausted. Actually this argument simply points up the case. If there is so little confidence in our currency that restoration of gold coin would cause our gold stocks to disappear, then we must act promptly. The danger was recently highlighted by Mr. Allan Sproul, President of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, who said:
"Without our support (the Federal Reserve System), under present conditions, almost any sale of government bonds, undertaken for whatever purpose, laudable or otherwise, would be likely to find an almost bottomless market on the first day support was withdrawn."
Our finances will never be brought into order until Congress is compelled to do so. Making our money redeemable in gold will create this compulsion.
The full essay is below, which we are confident was never read by Howard's "oracular" son... until perhaps very recently...
Did it really take him until he was 90-years-old to realize that his dad was right after all? So what happens next?  Do Munger and Buffett buy bitcoin?

P.S. In case you don't know, Tyler Durden was the lead character in Fight Club, one of the bestest movies ever.

P.P.S. Gold has value for two reasons: 1) it's pretty, and 2) it is very useful. We would use it for more things except it is so rare. Half of our economy exists solely to find cheaper substitutes for gold.

Africa's Great Green Wall

Great Green Wall of Africa
Darker green areas need more work, light green areas need less work.
Click on map to embiggenate
It looks like some people have decided to tackle the growing desertification of Africa. I wish them luck. Most all of the information I found on this project is full of useless blather about climate change and social issues. I dunno, maybe that's what it takes to get a project like this moving. Lots of talk about how 'we're all going to work together' and maybe they will. Some places have made some progress.

The idea is to plant a wall of trees 10 miles wide clear across the continent of Africa along the southern border of the Sahara desert. The idea was originally proposed back in the 1950's.

Notice that there are a bunch of rivers below the line of demarcation, the only river above the line is the Nile.

Wikipedia has an article.

Via Reddit

The Bravery - Believe


The Bravery - Believe
Honest Mistake

I woke up with bits of this tune rattling through my head. Took me a couple of minutes of Googling to track it down, so here we are.

Friday, August 14, 2020


YES - Owner of a Lonely Heart (Official Music Video)
yesofficial

I'm watching this video and I'm thinking this looks like something out of a Franz Kafka story, and then I'm thinking that if you keep your head down the powers that be won't notice you and you can go on about your life without being harassed. Well, as long as you toe the party line, but sometimes the party line screws people over, takes away their property or their livelihood, and you really don't know when you are liable to fall afoul of the party.

The President can only do what Congress empowers him to do, and Congress is a bunch of clowns pushing and shoving to try and gain some tiny advantage. It's much like a Rugby scrum. Fortunately we have the Supreme Court. The justices wander around a bit but mostly they keep us on an even keel. It may take a while, and a bunch of people will suffer all kinds of injustices before an issue will come to their attention, but it will get there eventually. It's kind of a screwed up system, but given that we are trying get the most vicious predators on the planet to behave in a civilized manner, the fact that it works at all is pretty amazing.

We started watching Frontier this evening and it start off by reminding us just how cruel, vicious and rotten people can be. We gave up after one episode, the story was too heavy handed, finesse was entirely lacking.

Brian Micklethwait should enjoy the video, what with the shots of cranes in London.


It's a quarter after 3, do you known where your VLCC is?

Western Hemisphere
VLCC is a Very Large Crude Carrier, i.e. an oil tanker. They hold about two million barrels of oil. The USA consumes about 13 million barrels of oil a day. Most is produced domestically (about 12 million barrels). We export some (about 8.6 million barrels) and we import some (9.1 million barrels). You'd think that the oil dealers could save themselves a bunch of work by just redirecting the imports to our export clients, but you only think that because you don't understand the oil business. Neither do I, it's a little hard to comprehend when it doesn't make any sense, but then it's not my problem.

But if we are shipping all that oil here and there, you'd think there'd be more than six tankers hanging out in our neighborhood. Where are all these giant tankers?

Eastern Hemisphere
On the far side of the world, that's where.

Click the link to see the current tanker locations.

Via California Bob

500 miles per unit time

SS Himalaya
Extract from a story about the disaster that has befallen the airline industry.
Back in the 1960s I was an officer aboard the SS Himalaya - SS meaning steam ship - and we circumnavigated the globe carrying passengers in an era before the Boeing 747 transformed things, allowing the masses to travel and not just the few. The photo shows us departing from Sydney, Australia, [. . .] 
In those days, trains were powered by steam too and they were the sole means of transport still in countries like Pakistan where planes had barely started to arrive. 
We used Pakistanis as assistants because they could be paid less than westerners. I did not speak much of their language and my assistant spoke little of mine. Sometimes we were at sea out of sight of land for days so seeing anything was an event. One day, in the middle of the Indian Ocean, we were working on deck and all the passengers suddenly rushed to the ship's rail. My assistant pointed up into the sky saying excitedly "look, Sahib, steam chicken". That steam chicken was a Boeing 707 towing a long white vapor trail en route to somewhere; a rare sight in those days. Our ship's speed was 500 miles per day, that Boeing did that in one hour!
The Sydney Opera House opened in 1973, the SS Himalaya was withdrawn from service in 1974.

Via Iaman

Portland Trail Blazers


Damian Lillard Clutch Buckets in Wild Ending vs Mavericks!
Chaz NBA

The NBA is back in business, sort of. The teams are playing for television audiences and from what I have seen, they seem to be playing just as well as they were when they had a live audience.

Damian Lillard has been playing for the Portland Trail Blazers since he got out of college eight years ago. He and CJ McCollum are the team's stars, McCollum joined the team the year after Lillard. They are dynamite.

A few days ago Damian scored 61 points in a game and then a couple of days later he did it again. This puts him in the company of Wilt Chamberlain, possibly the famousest basketball player of all time. I mean even I, the sports agnostic, have heard of Wilt the Stilt.

Anyway, during the final few seconds of the game against the Dallas Mavericks a couple of days ago, Damian made a three point shot. He makes a lot of those. Sometimes he misses but when he makes it, it usually goes right in.  This one was unusual in that it took a big bounce straight up off of the rim and came down right through the center. A real heart stopper if you were watching. You can see it right at the 24 second mark in the video above.

The NBA has been infected with the BLM  ridiculousness to the extent that the players all have  slogans on the backs of their jerseys. Jusuf Nurkić's (pronounced Yusef Nurkich by me) jersey has Ravnopravnost printed on the back, which means Equality in Bosnian. Curiously, Google was unable to deliver a picture of Jusuf's jersey with this slogan.

Lightning

Cessna Grand Caravan EX
FlightAware reports that the Rawanda military is getting a couple of Cessna Grand Caravans. Not quite sure who is paying for them but I wouldn't be surprised if it was the CIA since they are going to be equipped "with secure High Frequency and Ultra High Frequency radio systems, Night Vision Imaging System, . . .".

Then we have a photo of another Cessna Grand Caravan:

 Cessna C-98A Grand Caravan
The Grand Caravan looks unbalanced - too much fuselage in back of the main wing. The engine must be very heavy in order to balance the weight of the cargo. The fuselage itself doesn't count for much, it's built like a beer can.

Is this the same aircraft? No, this one is from Teresina, Brazil. Teresina? Where the heck is that? I've never heard of it. Northeast Brazil:

Teresina Brazil
I read a book about the area but I don't remember Teresina being mentioned, but it maybe it didn't exist in the book's timeframe. Well, let's see what ye olde Wikipedia has to say:
Teresina is the hottest city in the country and the third city with the major incidence of lightning in the world.
Global map of lightning frequency--strikes/km2/yr.
I seem to remember that there are a couple of lakes in Venezuela that are subject to a great deal of lightning. Wikipedia confirms.

All this talk about lightning reminds me of an old tune:


Lou Christie Lightnin strikes Midnight Special
John Mcintyre

Update October 2020 replaced missing Lou Christie video.

Funnies