Friday, September 30, 2022

I couldn't agree more!!!


From Congressman Paul Gosar on Gab (clickit to biggit):

We have no business sending our taxpayer dollars overseas when we face so many challenges at home that we can't or won't finance.  Enough, dammit!


I guess that's one way for doctors to stay current...


Looks like Ireland is still crazy.

Doctors in Ireland had to remove 50 AA and other "cylindrical" batteries from the body of a 66-year-old woman who had swallowed them all on purpose, a recent article in the Irish Medical Journal says.

When doctors at St. Vincent’s University Hospital in Dublin first examined the woman, they didn’t know exactly how many batteries she had swallowed and how many remained in her body.

They were able to help her pass five AA batteries without surgical intervention, but x-rays showed 50 more large batteries were still there after three weeks of monitoring. The woman began complaining of widespread abdominal pain and loss of appetite.

Doctors decided to perform surgery on the woman’s abnormally swollen stomach and removed 46 batteries. They also found four more batteries in her colon.

. . .

The surgeries were a success, and the patient made "an uneventful recovery," doctors said.

"To the best of our knowledge, this case represents the highest reported number of batteries ingested at a single point in time," doctors noted in the journal. 

There's more at the link.

Did she offer any resistance to treatment?  And dare I presume that after the surgery, she was dis-charged from the hospital . . . to go ohm?


"Why the middle class is being destroyed"


That's the title of an article at American Greatness.  I don't necessarily agree with all the author's arguments, but he makes an intriguing case that deserves our attention.  Here's an excerpt.

The emergence of a cognitive elite, and, for the first time in history, the almost total convergence of intellectuals with the financial elite explains the coming extinction of the middle class.

. . .

The elitist argument for destroying the middle class is simple. If everyone on earth used as much energy as Americans use, global energy production would have to more than quadruple. That fact roughly applies to all natural resources. We might argue—and we should argue—that innovation can deliver a middle-class lifestyle to 8 billion people without catastrophically depleting critical natural resources or causing unacceptable harm to the earth’s biosphere, but apparently that’s not a choice the elites want to make. And they don’t have to.

Explaining this refers to another development ... which is how artificial intelligence and other technological innovations will make the existence of a middle class unnecessary. 

In their book, Herrnstein and Murray ask, “what is the minimum level of cognitive resources necessary to sustain a community at any given level of social and economic complexity?” By implication, they suggest that if the average IQ of a population is low or in decline, that jeopardizes the potential of the population to advance or even maintain their standard of living. But the consensus among today’s elites is that broadly distributed intelligence in a population is no longer necessary.

The logic for this is sound, even though it dismisses the aspirations of billions of people. People in jobs of moderate responsibility, or less, won’t need to know as much or think as much as they once did. Even doctors and airline pilots will rely increasingly on algorithms to make their diagnoses and fly their planes. If the plane crashes, as we saw a few years ago with two grisly 737 incidents, that is an inevitable byproduct of working out the bugs in the software. If a cyber attack systematically crashes the entire civilization, the elites will be in their bunkers, sandboxed away from the ensuing mayhem.

What is coming is a ruthless meritocracy that will admit only those individuals with the skills to do work that can’t be replaced by algorithms and robots. There won’t be many openings. In most professions and trades, to the extent human involvement is still necessary, competence will be secondary to affirmative action because automated procedures and artificial intelligence prompts will tell workers what to do.

By blending and flattening the population of the world’s cognitively normal, the cognitive elite will be able to pacify and manage them, distance themselves, and have exclusive access to whatever property and privileges they consider not sustainable or desirable for everyone to enjoy. 

. . .

The controversy over one chapter in Herrnstein and Murray’s book should not diminish the fact that, way back in 1994, their work anticipated two of the most decisive trends in the world today: The emergence of a cognitive elite, and, for the first time in history, the almost total convergence of intellectuals with the financial elite. The consequence, an apparent consensus among the two groups to destroy the middle class to protect their own interests while claiming they’re saving the planet and promoting “equity,” should surprise nobody.

There's more at the link, and it's well worth reading.

There's plenty of supporting evidence for the author's argument.  To take just one example, a few weeks ago we discussed "A deliberate plan to cull the human population?".  We've also mentioned the ideas of Israeli technocrat Yuval Noah Harari, who's on record as saying:

"... we just don’t need the vast majority of the population, because the future is about developing more and more sophisticated technology, like artificial intelligence [and] bioengineering, Most people don’t contribute anything to that, except perhaps for their data, and whatever people are still doing which is useful, these technologies increasingly will make redundant and will make it possible to replace the people."

I'm sure that makes you feel just as comfortable as it does me . . .

I daresay I won't live long enough to see how this works itself out.  However, those of you with children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren have a personal stake in seeing to it that their lives are not circumscribed and neutered by such elitist grandiloquence.  I can only suggest that you read the article above in full, and then conduct wider research . . . and then act on it, in whatever way you can.

Throw some sand and grit in the progressive gearbox.  It's fun!


Thursday, September 29, 2022

US used auto sales crash - more confirmation


Yesterday I put up an article titled "Vehicle sales as a bellwether for the economy".

Reader Andrew Smith added a comment linking to the video below, for which I'm grateful.  The speaker calls himself the "Economic Ninja", and certainly seems to have inside knowledge of the US auto market.  He reinforces what I said yesterday, and makes some new points.  I thought it was worth sharing the video with all my readers.

Food for thought.  I think many people are hanging on to their older vehicles, rather than sell them, because they know they can't afford to replace them at current prices.  Will that continue if used vehicle prices drop significantly?  I don't know . . . certainly, if the price of used vehicles on the dealer lot drops, so will the prices offered for future trade-ins.  It's a two-edged sword.

Also, in answer to a question from another reader, Will recommended " a used commercial box truck or flatbed type" as a towing vehicle.  He said they should be a lot cheaper than a used heavy-duty pickup in today's market.  That sounds interesting:  but where would one look for such vehicles for sale?  You don't see them on "normal" vendor lots, so I presume there are specialist dealers to handle them.  Can readers provide more information?  If one wants a used towing/hauling vehicle like that, in decent condition, where would one look?  What are the pitfalls and problems for which one should be on the watch?

Thanks in advance for the information.


EDITED TO ADD:  Used vehicle retailer Carmax, one of the largest in the business, has just reported "horrendous" financial results.  The report notes that "the results will exacerbate concern about the automotive industry. Indeed, the entire US automotive industry is being hammered by soaring interest rates and a stretched consumer."

An amazingly effective, yet simple, home improvement project


As part of our recent home upgrades, we decided to invest in an insulated garage door, properly fitted and snugged up to the walls, with side and top sealing strips mounted externally to minimize air exchange between outside and inside.  We considered insulating our existing double garage door, a metal economy unit, but it had been poorly installed (long before we bought our home) and would have required re-mounting to be more weatherproof.  In addition, the old motor had ceased to function, requiring manual opening and closing.  We decided that since we had all that work to do, it would be simpler and easier (although more expensive) to just buy a new, factory-insulated door and motor, and have them professionally installed.

We turned to Overhead Door, the original suppliers of such hardware.  They're expensive compared to their competition, but their reputation is second to none, and they have an excellent warranty.  Thanks to supply chain issues, it took five months to get the door here and install it, but that finally happened - and the results have exceeded all our expectations.  From being a hothouse in summer and an icebox in winter, our garage now maintains a much more even temperature (aided by a single HVAC outlet we installed there when we upgraded the house system).  It's a few degrees warmer than the house in summer, and will doubtless be a few degrees cooler in winter, but it's now a place where it's comfortable to work.  It's also no longer a heat or cold sink affecting the temperature in the house, making the HVAC work harder to compensate.  The improvement is so marked that I wish we'd done this years ago.

A more temperature-stable garage has the advantage that you can store more delicate items there (e.g. food reserves, etc.) with less risk of them spoiling or going "off".  Another advantage:  in an emergency, we can put mattresses on our garage floor and sleep a dozen people there in reasonable comfort, whether it's 100 degrees plus during north Texas summers or down in the teens during winter.  Previously, that would have been unthinkable, as the uninsulated garage usually matched the outside temperature.  In high summer, it was like a sauna (to the pleasure of our cats, but not Miss D. and I!), and in winter it was an icebox (sometimes literally - bottled water froze).  Not any more.

I recommend very strongly that if you haven't insulated your garage door, and had it properly sealed to minimize the exchange of air, dust, bugs, etc. between inside and outside, that you do so as quickly as possible.  It's made a huge difference to our home.  Yes, the process can be expensive, but there are cheaper work-arounds.  You'll probably need a garage door technician to re-mount or adjust your door if it's a loose fit to the wall, but that's a very important part of the improvement, so it's worth paying for.  As for an insulated door, if you can't afford one, buy an inexpensive garage door insulation kit, available from most hardware stores or online.  We fitted one to the plain metal garage door on our outside shed, and have found it's probably at least 80% as efficient as the purpose-built insulated double door on our garage.  That sort of improvement is good value for money.

All in all, I'm very happy with the added "livability" the insulated garage door has brought to our home.  I highly recommend it as a worthwhile home improvement project.


The Biden administration's economic policies...


... remind me very uncomfortably of an older evil.

The highest inflation rate since the Carter administration?  87,000 new IRS agents and bureaucrats?

What's the old saw?  "If it looks like a duck, and walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it is a duck".



Wednesday, September 28, 2022

"Should I get my anti-vax friends’ baby vaccinated without telling them?"


That's the question put by an anonymous reader to Damon Young's advice column in the Washington Post.

Hi Damon: My best friend is an antivaxxer (not only covid, all the vaccines). His wife is, too. They have a 9-month-old baby and they haven’t vaccinated him. I babysit for them every other weekend. Should I take the baby to get his shots without telling them?

To his credit, despite being pro-vaxx, Damon advised strongly against doing so:

I am also a parent of two small children. And if someone took them, against my will, to get vaccinated? Let’s just say that I was advised, by my editors, for legal-ish reasons, not to say what I’d do to that person.

What you’re suggesting is reckless, egregious and possibly even criminal. Forty-three states require a parent’s permission to vaccinate a child. The age where parental consent is no longer necessary depends on the state, and ranges between 15 and 18. But these laws are for teenagers who wish to get vaccinated, not adults who want to sneak their friends’ babies to the clinic.

Of course, if you believe that your friends are abusing their children, you have a responsibility to report them. But despite the fact that I do agree with you on the necessity of vaccination, and that your friends are acting dangerously, you’ve burrowed so deeply in the rabbit hole of self-righteousness that you’ve come up on the wrong side.

There's more at the link.

What astonishes me (although, given the number of Karens who've popped out of the woodwork since the COVID-19 pandemic began, perhaps it shouldn't have) is that someone could even begin to think that interfering in the health care of someone else's children - her best friend's children, at that - is OK in any way, shape or form.  It's none of her business!  How would she react if someone else were to restrain her from vaccinating her own kids, because they didn't agree with her views on the subject?

How could anyone in their right mind even conceive of such a question, much less ask it?  My mind boggles at such incredibly insouciant blindness to reality.  It boggles even more that a "best friend" would be willing to betray so intimate a trust like that.  Talk about Nurse Ratched in the flesh!  (Of course, I'd try to choose my close friends better than that in the first place.)

All I can say is, if anyone did that to a child of mine and I found out about it,                                                                        .  (Fill in the dark bit to your own satisfaction.  Further affiant sayeth naught.)


"The Death of Germany, and Europe"


That's how Michael Yon views the sabotage of the Nord Stream pipelines near Germany a few days ago.  He doesn't pull his punches.

At this point in history, to destroy the possibility of re-opening Nord Stream 1 (NS1), and opening NS2, all but assures massive famines and detailed destruction of European economy that normally only will be seen in war.

Nothing short of nuclear war will destroy a nation more completely, more intergenerationally, than turning off the energy followed by famine. Famines burn through the souls of nations. Just read five random books on famine.

Germany’s deal with the devil was a deal with themselves. Accepting the cheap Russian gas like cocaine straight to the bloodstream. To be sure, there were extreme benefits to manufacturing using cheaper, easier energy. Such as in the automotive industry.

You may notice some leaders now blame Russian for addicting Germany, as if Russia were a drug dealer and the pipelines are Russian needles into the arms of German children. But in fact Russia also wanted to sell gas to earn money. And Russia did NOT want to shut NS1, and frequently encouraged Germany to open NS2.

But the United States warned Germany many times — including Trump’s clear warnings — about Russian dependency. The Germans laughed at Trump. Video of The Laughing will go down in history.

It strongly appears United States has destroyed NS1 and NS2. Facts remain uncertain but Biden and his crew of thugs made clear on multiple occasions that something would happen at least to NS2. If only so much effort were applied to interrupting the fentanyl crossing America’s southern border and stopping the invasion that Americans will be forced to stop themselves.

Biden likewise made an open threat against Americans that he is willing to use F-15s on Americans. You likely have seen the not-subtle video.

Germany will freeze this winter. The hunger games will begin in 2023. By winter 2023-24, Germans and others will be freezing and very hungry, and possibly already into actual famine. And by winter 2024-25, profound famine almost certainly will ravage at least parts of Europe. Long flash to bang, but that bang is coming.

Germans and their multi-kulti invaders will devour the Black Forest and roast long-pig over their cuckoo clocks.

Keep eyes on Norwegian flows. An interruption of Norwegian flows would be another chest shot for Europe.

After the attacks on NS1 and NS2, all infrastructure is on the table. EMP strikes in space could lead to quick famine across North America. Undersea cables.

USA is extremely vulnerable. Rail strikes alone could contribute to near-term famine in United States.

There's more at the link.

I haven't commented on the Nord Stream sabotage until now, because I've been trying to get more information about the strikes.  It certainly looks as if undersea drones made the strikes, either by blowing themselves up next to the pipeline, or (more likely, IMHO, because it leaves no wreckage that can be recovered, analyzed, and used as evidence) dropping demolition charges on or next to the pipeline, then returning to base before they exploded.  There are several nations in the area, including Germany, France and the UK, that could do something like that;  but none of them are likely suspects.  It's not a capability they routinely exercise.  The USA, on the other hand, has meddled with undersea pipelines and cables for decades (literally), going way back to Cold War days, and at least some of its nuclear submarines are equipped to make such an attack.  Russia can say the same, but why would it attack its own pipelines, and threaten its own potential export earnings through them?

For that matter, the explosives might already have been in place.  Back in June, it was reported that the US Navy was conducting underwater operations in the Baltic Sea, off the island of Bornholm - where the explosions took place.

In support of BALTOPS, U.S. Navy 6th Fleet partnered with U.S. Navy research and warfare centers to bring the latest advancements in unmanned underwater vehicle mine hunting technology to the Baltic Sea to demonstrate the vehicle’s effectiveness in operational scenarios.

Experimentation was conducted off the coast of Bornholm, Denmark, with participants from Naval Information Warfare Center Pacific, Naval Undersea Warfare Center Newport, and Mine Warfare Readiness and Effectiveness Measuring all under the direction of U.S. 6th Fleet Task Force 68. 

BALTOPS is an ideal location for conducting mine hunting experimentation due to the region’s unique environmental conductions such as low salinity and varying bottom types. It is also critical to evaluate emerging mine hunting UUV technology in the Baltic due to its applicability with allied and partner nations. This year experimentation was focused on UUV navigation, teaming operations, and improvements in acoustic communications all while collecting critical environmental data sets to advance the automatic target recognition algorithms for mine detection.  

“In prior BALTOPS we demonstrated advanced capabilities to detect, reacquire and collect images of mine contacts, and transfer those images in near real-time to operators through the use of a specialized Office of Naval Research UUV,” said Anthony Constable, Office of Naval Research science advisor to U.S. 6th Fleet. “This year, through the work of NIWC Pacific and NUWC Newport, we are showing that this capability can be integrated into programs of record by executing complex multi-vehicle UUV missions with modified U.S. Navy fleet assets.” 

An additional critical objective was to continue to increase the communication range and data transfer capability to give the operators more flexibility in mine hunting operations. Advancements in communication technology, demonstrated this year, have shown a significant improvement in operating ranges over currently used systems. This provides additional standoff flexibility to the U.S. Navy in conducting safe mine hunting operations. 

BALTOPS also provides a unique opportunity for the U.S. research, development and acquisition communities to exercise the current and emerging UUV technology in real-world operational environments.

Again, more at the link.

What better cover could have been provided for reconnoitering the Nord Stream pipelines prior to an attack, and even perhaps placing explosives to be detonated whenever convenient?

On the basis of probability, there's a great big red arrow pointing at the USA over these attacks.  Whether or not it can be proved is basically irrelevant at this point:  it's what people are going to assume.  After all, cui bono?  Who benefits?  A German economy starved of energy, and now without the capability of turning on its Russian gas supply again for at least a year, is economically in a catastrophic situation.  The same can be said of Europe as a whole.  The Nord Stream pipelines didn't only supply Germany.  That means the threat of industrial collapse in Europe is now very, very real, particularly as politicians have already put commerce and industry on notice that if it comes to a choice between keeping production going, and keeping their citizens warm in a freezing European winter, production will go to the wall.  All of those considerations mean that US manufacturing and production suddenly occupy a vastly more important position in Europe's economy.  They might literally stand between Europe and starvation.

Meanwhile, of course, Russia is left with a rather more clear-cut situation.  It can no longer wield "energy blackmail" as a tool against Western Europe;  so it can turn to the military option in the certainty that it doesn't have any other worthwhile (i.e. potentially winning) policy choices.  If I were Ukraine, I'd be looking to my lines of retreat right now.  I think we're about to see Russia apply brutal, slogging siege warfare tactics, regardless of the cost, and I suspect Ukraine's days are numbered.  If Russia leaves anything of Ukraine, it'll be an inland rump state, shorn of access to the Black Sea and deprived of its industrial base.  Russia will likely do that because it dare not lose this war.  If it does, Putin's rule will be over, and the nation as a whole will accelerate its ongoing collapse, demographically, economically and culturally.  Putin needs a focus for his people, and the war will provide it.

What China will do in the meanwhile is anybody's guess.  As I've said before, I suspect Taiwan can't last long.  While the rest of the world is distracted over Europe, China will make its move.  If it succeeds, there goes the world's biggest source of microchips and the technology associated with them;  and if Taiwan succeeds in destroying its fabrication and research plants before China can occupy them, that means a decade when every nation on earth will face a desperate shortage of them.  That, in turn, means that our "smart" weapons and machinery and vehicles and appliances will suddenly be a whole lot less smart.

Those three explosions on the Nord Stream pipelines - and whoever carried them out - will be responsible for all that.

Sadly, the times in which we live have just become a whole lot more interesting . . .


Vehicle sales as a bellwether for the economy


E. M. Smith has some cogent thoughts on the matter.

Two different car traders saying cars are not selling at auction. This is bad ... The implication here is that recent interest rate rises along with price inflation and job loss has folks just not buying cars, so dealers are not buying them, even at wholesale auction, and that means banks are going to have a lot of “inventory” on their books when they would rather have the “bad loan losses” gone and be re-lending the money. But they aren’t. All around not good.

First it is cars. Then it is houses. Then it is businesses. Then the economy augers in.

. . .

Fuel costs are rising incredibly as the Gang Green Policies put reserves out of reach of production.

The Fed has been punting interest rates up at a crazy rate. What is it, 3 x 3/4% in a row (in a market where 2 x 0.25% is prone to apoplexy)?

Ford, GM, and others have announced going 100% EV (so why in hell would anyone invest in oil production and refining with a 30 year payback, and why would a dealer buy used petroleum cars for resale? Also why would folks with gas or Diesel trucks trade them in for unobtainium EV trucks?)

Bottom line is that a great shock is being pushed into the car / transport business and The People are not buying it (or the cars); so the sector (and with it the economy writ large) is shuddering to a halt.

. . .

But that the banks are not selling distressed assets (priced too high at auction), and the market is not clearing for used / repo cars… well that argues strongly for “collapse in early stages”. Watch for falling real estate prices, contracting GDP, and overall monetary decline in value in keeping with the Real inflation Rate (not the nominal government numbers). Eventually real estate will go back up in value, but only after the price bubble collapses and the market clears. Usually about a year to 18 months.

That folks are letting go of their cars is bad enough; but that brokers are not buying the inventory at prices that the banks loaned on; well that’s very bad as is indicates the Bank Loan Desks are already compressed and it will only get worse as higher interest rates and Government Mandates put them further under water. This will ripple back upstream to the car makers, their employees, and more. At a slightly slower and slightly delayed timing, the same thing ought to show up in the housing market. I’m already seeing “For Sale” signs staying up a long time on local houses; where 6 months ago they were selling the same day they were listed.

Hang onto your hats, it’s going to be a bumpy ride and the roller coaster is just pulling out of the station.

There's more at the link.

Remember our discussion last week of producer price inflation in Germany?  It contained this graphic (clickit to biggit):

That last bit, the very steep rise in PPI, is presently running at well over 40% year-on-year;  and the PPI is upstream of the consumer price index (CPI), which is going to be hit even harder.  If - I should say, when - Germany's economy collapses, it takes the European Union with it.  That also removes most of our major trading partners from the board, so the US economy will tank soon thereafter, even without considering internal issues such as inflation and supply chain problems.

Folks, this is actually happening right in front of our eyes.  It's no longer hypothetical;  it's no longer purely theoretical.  It's going down.  Now.  Mr. Smith's remarks merely provide a different perspective on a reality that can no longer be denied.

As John Donne said about death and dying:

Send not to know for whom the bell tolls. It tolls for thee.

He might as well have been talking about the US and global economies at this point.

I hope and pray all my readers have taken the opportunity, and had the wherewithal, to prepare as best they can for what's coming.  None of us are going to find it easy to weather the economic storm;  but "forewarned is forearmed", and if we've applied ourselves, we should by now be as ready for it as we can be.  That won't make it easier to survive, but we'll be better off, and have a better chance of doing so, than those who shrugged off all warnings and carried on as if they didn't have a care in the world.  They're about to find out how wrong they were.


Tuesday, September 27, 2022

True dat


Yes, a good hurricane (if that isn't a misnomer) highlights the folly of electric-only vehicles as just about nothing else can.

I doubt there'll be enough charging stations along evacuation routes to do much good.  Also, good luck finding a way to recharge your vehicle after the storm has passed, when the power's out and the generators in the area are all powering homes and businesses.  I suspect asking a homeowner to stop powering her A/C for a few hours, leaving her kids hot, bothered and fractious while you charge your car, might get an... interesting... response.


Sounds like the Italians have picked themselves a worthwhile leader


I don't normally follow Italian politics very closely, but I've watched the recent election campaign there with real astonishment.  To have the President of the European Commission publicly and unashamedly threaten the Italian electorate with "consequences" if they elect the "wrong" government . . . that's mind-boggling.  So much for democracy!  Thankfully, Italian voters appear to have given her the finger by voting for a change in direction for their country, with conservative candidates and policies gaining support.  Nevertheless, that vote has brought out all the left-wing and progressive pundits, warning of "far-right-wing" and "fascist" and even "Nazi" policies that are sure to doom Italy.  Frankly, I think they're full of it.

Here's the probable next Italian Prime Minister, Giorgia Meloni, briefly describing her outlook on life and her political philosophy.

Darned if I find anything objectionable in that!  Besides, anybody who quotes G. K. Chesterton is likely to have her head screwed on the right way.  One can't help but approve.

Tucker Carlson points out that the negative reactions to her electoral victory are coming from those who believe that the will of the people should not count at all - that "experts", and the politically correct, and unelected bureaucrats, should make all the decisions.

Meloni is one of the very few politicians who ... is willing to say the obvious, the truth, out loud and as a result of that, because she's been willing to say what everybody actually knows, last night, her party, called Brothers of Italy, won an overwhelming victory in Italy. They took both majorities in the houses of parliament. 

By Italian standards, in fact by American standards, this is a revolution, but unlike most revolutions, the person at the front of it can actually explain what she's about. She can articulate it in a way people understand. She's smart.

. . .

She's as serious as the moment we are currently living through. "Our rights are under attack," she said, "The sovereignty of our nation is under attack" and critically "the prosperity and well-being of our families is under attack" and that's true. That's why it's resonant, because it's real and not just in Italy. It's true here. American families are facing the very same onslaught from the very same poisonous ideologies. The difference is that in this country, it's rarely acknowledged except on the fringes. Meloni's not on the fringes. She's the new prime minister of Italy. She will be and she's saying it out loud. 

Contrast that to what's happening in the United States. House Republicans just spelled out what they're running on. It's a document called "The Commitment to America." It's fine. Probably not much in it, you disagree with it. Have you heard of it? No, you probably haven't. You probably haven't read it. Nobody really cares. Why? Because there's nothing real in it. There's not a single word in that document about the attacks on the American family that you see every day. That's at the center of most people's concerns. How are my kids? Will they have a life that resembles mine? 

. . .

If you want to establish totalitarian control over a country, of course you have to destroy the family first, because nobody with deep family loyalty, the one thing every person should have, no one who has that will ever pledge absolute obedience to a politician. Why would you?

So, if you want absolute obedience, you have to sever family ties and that's why state schools brainwash your children with values that you despise and then instruct your children to turn you in as a thought criminal if you object. That's happening. It's not your imagination and it's happening for a reason. Wokeness is not just a political ideology. It's not just something annoying that emerged on college campuses that we can ignore. It's a state religion that supplants actual religion, which is also being destroyed. There's a reason the strip bars and the liquor stores and the weed dispensary stayed open under COVID, but the churches didn't.

If you can't draw the connection between those dots, you're missing it, but Meloni didn't miss it. She understands it perfectly. Watch.  

MELONI: Only a few months ago, European Union bureaucrats brought a document hundreds of pages long, telling us that in order to be inclusive, we had to exclude all references to Christmas. Jesus, Mary and all Christian names were to be removed from all official communication. Will we surrender in front of this? No, we will not. We will fight it. We will find it standing tall.

So, they hate your family, they hate your religion, and you don't actually have to put up with it because it's a democracy, and you're supposed to be in charge, you being the population. That's a radical message? God, family, country. That's not radical. It's hard to imagine a more wholesome message, a more pro-human platform. Fascists don't believe in God because God is a rival to their power.  

Of course, this is a person publicly professing faith in God. That's so scary, but it is so scary. It's so scary to the people running and benefiting from our current system and why is that? She's not the first person to say this. People have said it before, but she's just been rewarded for saying it. That's the point. The population likes it. This is what they actually want. They're not that worried about global warming. They don't want open borders. They think the woke stuff is absurd. They want to see what they think. And now it's obvious because she just won and so even in this country, the people running and benefiting from a deeply corrupt and doomed system are hysterical.

There's more at the link.  As always with Tucker Carlson, it's worth reading in full.

Can we find, and elect, a similarly level-headed leader in this country?  I honestly don't know.  I respect Donald Trump for breaking open the can of worms that we've come to call the "Deep State", and exposing it to public view;  but he's also an egotist and a very, very polarizing and divisive figure.  The Deep State and progressive politicians blocked many of his initiatives, and would redouble their efforts if he were re-elected.  I'd prefer another candidate (and hopefully a younger one - we have enough geriatric politicians already!)  Governor Desantis of Florida sounds interesting, but whether he has the national appeal needed to succeed on a broader stage is debatable.  Are there other alternatives?  Possibly, but I don't see anyone standing out so clearly as Mr. Trump or Mr. Desantis.

Of course, there's also the question whether any viably conservative candidate can overcome the shenanigans that we saw in the 2020 elections.  I don't expect that to change.  After all, if it worked so well for progressives and the Deep State before, why should they change the playbook now?




This graphic popped up on MeWe yesterday evening.  I can't link directly to the post concerned.  Clickit to biggit.

The original poster didn't provide a source link, or any further details about where the data had come from.  It's pretty scary, isn't it?

I'd love to know how accurate those figures are.  Certainly, the numbers for Oklahoma City and Pittsburg seem suspiciously low.  Can anyone who knows the property market well, across the country, tell us whether they're real or made-up?  Is there a better source for correct information, and if so, can you provide a link to it in Comments?  I'll be grateful for any help out there.

On the face of it, if that's what housing costs have done over a mere two-year span (OK, call it two and a half years if you're counting from January 2020), it's no wonder people can no longer afford a mortgage.  Even at the old, lower interest rates, that's a big cost to swallow.  At 6% or higher, it becomes almost impossible.

I'm glad I'm not in the property market right now . . .


Monday, September 26, 2022

Remembering Africa's worst maritime tragedy


Twenty years ago today, on September 26, 2002, the Senegalese ferry Le Joola sank with the loss of an estimated 1,863 lives.  That means it cost more lives than the sinking of the Titanic in 1912.  Only 64 survivors were found.

That makes it the second-worst non-military maritime disaster in history, surpassed only by the sinking of the Philippine ferry Doña Paz in 1987.

The BBC made a documentary about the Le Joola disaster.  This seems like a fitting occasion to link to it, in remembrance of those who died.

May their sins be forgiven them, and may their souls rest in peace.


What will it take to make us us cleanse our society of this filth?


The sheer, naked, in-your-face evil of the pedophile cult in our society is now so blatant, so commonplace, that many people simply yawn and say, "Well, there's nothing we can do about it".  That's a cop-out.  We have to do something about it, or see more and more of our children sucked into the maw of Moloch and sacrificed on the altars of perversity and ruthless exploitation.

Just look at what we've seen over the past few days.  Click either of the links below at your own risk - they're sickening.  Both include video clips.

And yet, nobody in the mainstream media, and no mainstream politician, has spoken out against such catastrophic abuse of children.

Rod Dreher calls it "the gender ideology end game".

This is it. This is the end game of these queer theorists and gender ideologues: the sexualization of children. It was always going to end up here. This is what all these drag queen story hours mean, and these "family-friendly drag shows". It's all about sexualizing children and grooming them to become prey for pedophiles -- sorry, "Minor-Attracted Persons."

Did they even go this far in Weimar Germany?

How much more of this are we prepared to tolerate?

. . .

A lot of the stuff that's totally mainstream now we were told would never happen here -- and that people who warned that it was coming were nothing but a bunch of Religious Right bigots trying to scare people into failing to recognize that #LoveWins.

If we as a society will not defend our children from these sickos, we don't deserve to survive.

There's more at the link, and I agree with every word.

Many of us can't do much about the existence of such evil.  We can only do our best to prevent our children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren being exposed to it.  However, some of us may live in areas that are less far sunk in moral filth, and are, shall we say, more conducive to direct action.

  • What if some of us were to confront the venues advertising, or supporting, or hosting such nauseating displays of filth, and demand that they stop?
  • What if they were warned that if they didn't stop, there would be consequences?
  • What if those consequences actually happened, instead of merely being threatened?
  • What if local individuals pushing for such evil to be allowed were to be told that the damage they were doing to our kids would no longer be allowed?
  • What if they were given a simple choice - stop what you're doing, or face the consequences?
  • And what if there were actual, hard, real-world consequences?

Obviously, I can't recommend taking the law into our own hands.  That would make me criminally liable, along with the perpetrators.  Nevertheless, if someone were to take the law into their own hands in those and other ways, I'd be the first to applaud, and offer practical support as well, to the extent possible.  I may be old and stove-up, but there's still a lot I can do to help.

And if nobody else will act?  If nobody else will defend our children against this clear and present danger?  Well, then, I guess it's up to me, and people like me, to do anything and everything in our power.  I'll let H. L. Mencken say it for me, metaphorically speaking (of course):

In this case, and in our society, that time is long overdue, I'd say.


Memes that made me laugh 127


Gathered around the Internet over the past week.  Click any image for a larger view.

Sunday, September 25, 2022

Sunday morning music


Time for some musical laughter.  How many of you know of the educational franchise "Horrible Histories"?  It's designed to teach history in a fun, enjoyable way;  and one of the techniques it uses is to write songs about the era under discussion.  They're usually off-beat, funny, and sometimes in-your-face politically incorrect.

Here's a brief selection from their extensive repertoire.  Let's begin with the Vikings in a two-fer.  First, the "savage" version.

Then there are the more politically correct, Simon-and-Garfunkel-style Vikings (no, really!).

Having got that ghastly vision out of our minds, how about King Henry VII of England?

And to conclude our historical survey, here's Blackbeard the pirate, in a rendition that might have pleased Gilbert and Sullivan.

There are plenty more songs from Horrible Histories on their YouTube channel.  Enjoy!


Saturday, September 24, 2022

Saturday Snippet: Notes on Inflation


We've heard from investment guru John Mauldin in these pages on several previous occasions.  He's one of the few economic commentators whom I read regularly.  He's able to summarize critical issues into a few paragraphs, and make sense of interlocking factors affecting the economic world we live in.

In his latest weekly newsletter, titled "Notes on Inflation", he makes several very important observations about events and circumstances that may change our economic outlook for a very long time.  I won't steal his thunder by mentioning all of them:  instead, I urge you to click over to his place and read them for yourself.  I'll simply excerpt his notes on current consumer prices and "shrinkflation".

Price inflation is an individualized experience based on your spending patterns. It is increasingly difficult to escape completely, though. Almost every category of living costs is rising to some degree. You can see it in these charts from my friend Liz Ann Sonders of Charles Schwab. (Click the image for a larger view.)

The food component of CPI just posted its biggest annual jump since 1979.

Last week I talked about rent increases driving service prices higher. That’s not the only problem. Services ex-rent are growing even faster.

These other services carry less weight in the CPI formula, so their impact is smaller. As we’ll see, though, they add up, particularly for those with chronic health conditions. Treatment services are expensive and getting more so.


Most businesses hate raising prices. At some point they have no other choice, but it’s nerve-wracking because they don’t know how customers will respond. So, they find all manner of ways to camouflage what they’re doing, hoping no one will notice they are paying more.

Anas Alhajji recently posted some examples of “shrinkflation,” when companies keep prices the same but reduce the quantity sold.

  • Folgers container: 51 ounces to 43.5
  • Nescafe Azera Americano coffee: 100 grams to 90
  • Kleenex: 65 tissues to 60
  • Walmart Paper Towels: 168 sheets per roll to 120
  • Crest 3D White Radiant Mint toothpaste: 4.1 to 3.8 ounces
  • Dorito's: 9.75 ounces to 9.25
  • Most “Party Size” Chips: 18 to 15.5 ounces
  • Chobani Flips yogurts: 5.3 ounces to 4.5
  • Burger King chicken nuggets: 10 to 8
  • Bounty Triples: 165 sheets to 147
  • Tillamook ice cream: 56 ounces to 48
  • Hefty's mega pack: 90 bags to 80
  • Earth's Best Organic Sunny Day: 8 bars per box to 7
  • Vim dish soap (India): 155 grams to 135
  • Cottonelle Ultra Clean Care toilet paper: 340 sheets per roll to 312
  • Pantene Pro-V Curl Perfection conditioner: 12 ounces to 10.4
  • Royal Canin's cans of cat food: 5.9 ounces to 5.1
  • Angel Soft: 425 sheets per roll to 320

I can’t verify all those but I’ve seen similar examples. Caffeine Free Diet Coke is now in 10-ounce cans instead of 12-ounce. Some of this shrinkflation amounts to 20%‒25% price increases in terms of the amount you get for your money.

These changes don’t fool CPI, which adjusts for quantities. They fool many customers, though, which could have a long-term cost when people see what happened and lose trust in the brand.

There's much more at the link, including natural gas shortages in New England and the Northeast, European manufacturing moving here to the USA because of energy shortages there, and other important factors.  Highly recommended reading.  For ongoing, interesting perspectives on economics, finance and investing, you might want to consider subscribing to Mr. Mauldin's free weekly "Thoughts from the Frontline" newsletter, from which this morning's snippet has been drawn.  I find it very useful.

I'd like to make two observations on the excerpt above.

  1. Note the embedded graphic.  The price of fuel affects literally every other category in the CPI, because everything has to be manufactured and/or moved, and that takes energy.  This affects many consumer choices, and not just short-term, either.  For example, one may decide to buy a house closer to work to reduce commuting expenses and/or use public transport, which in turn affects property prices in many areas.  Many elements of the CPI have not yet fully factored in a much higher fuel price, so their current rate of increase may move higher (perhaps much higher) over time as that filters through to the rest of the economy.  We saw that in Germany just this week, remember?  There's nothing to stop it happening here too.
  2. Note the effect of "shrinkflation" on product prices.  As Mr. Mauldin points out, "Some of this shrinkflation amounts to 20%‒25% price increases in terms of the amount you get for your money".  I've had several people complain that my rule of thumb to measure inflation (namely, to multiply the official CPI figure by 3.5 to get the true rate of inflation) is grossly exaggerated.  Unfortunately, it's not.  CPI measurements are supposed to take shrinkflation into account when calculating their numbers, but in many cases that has not filtered through to the analysts doing the figuring.  However, when you add the effect of shrinkflation to the increase in a product's price per quantity (ounces, pounds, gallons, liters, whatever), that 3.5 multiplier suddenly looks far more reasonable, doesn't it?  It's as much a contributor to the effects of inflation on our personal pocket-books and wallets as anything else, yet most people simply ignore it.  That's a dangerous error.
My wife and I continue to experience at least a 30% annualized overall rate of inflation in the things we buy for our household.  Everyone's personal rate of inflation will differ to some extent, because we all buy things that we want and will use, and don't buy those we won't.  Nevertheless, I'll be very surprised if most people aren't currently experiencing a 25%-35% personal rate of inflation.  Go add up your shopping bills, compare them to those of a year ago, and decide for yourselves.

Finally, if you think the current drought is making US agricultural products more expensive and in shorter supply, spare a thought for the folks in China, who look to be having it even worse than we are.  There are two video clips at the link that are pretty eye-opening.  Think of what shortages on that scale, in the two largest economies in the world, are likely to do to international inflation.  It's scary.


Friday, September 23, 2022

An economist's thoughts about English food


It seems that economist Paul Krugman penned some thoughts about English food following a visit to that sceptered isle some years ago.  A reader sent me a link to his comments, and after I stopped laughing, I thought you might enjoy them too.

Supply, Demand, and English Food

We Americans like to boast about our economic turnaround in the '90s, but you could argue that England--where I've spent the past few weeks--is the real comeback story of the advanced world. When I first started going there regularly in the early '80s, London was a shabby and depressed city, and the country's old industrial regions were a Full Monty-esque wasteland of closing factories and unemployment lines. These days, however, London positively buzzes with prosperity and with the multilingual chatter of thousands of young Europeans-- French especially--who have crossed the Channel in search of the jobs they can no longer find at home. How this turnaround was achieved is a fascinating question; whether the new Labour government can sustain it is another.

But I'm not going to try answering either question, because I've been thinking about food. Marcel Proust I'm not (what the hell is a madeleine, anyway?), but the change in English eating habits is enough to get even an economist meditating on life, the universe, and the nature of consumer society.

For someone who remembers the old days, the food is the most startling thing about modern England. English food used to be deservedly famous for its awfulness--greasy fish and chips, gelatinous pork pies, and dishwater coffee. Now it is not only easy to do much better, but traditionally terrible English meals have even become hard to find. What happened?

Maybe the first question is how English cooking got to be so bad in the first place. A good guess is that the country's early industrialization and urbanization was the culprit. Millions of people moved rapidly off the land and away from access to traditional ingredients. Worse, they did so at a time when the technology of urban food supply was still primitive: Victorian London already had well over a million people, but most of its food came in by horse-drawn barge. And so ordinary people, and even the middle classes, were forced into a cuisine based on canned goods (mushy peas!), preserved meats (hence those pies), and root vegetables that didn't need refrigeration (e.g. potatoes, which explain the chips).

But why did the food stay so bad after refrigerated railroad cars and ships, frozen foods (better than canned, anyway), and eventually air-freight deliveries of fresh fish and vegetables had become available? Now we're talking about economics--and about the limits of conventional economic theory. For the answer is surely that by the time it became possible for urban Britons to eat decently, they no longer knew the difference. The appreciation of good food is, quite literally, an acquired taste--but because your typical Englishman, circa, say, 1975, had never had a really good meal, he didn't demand one. And because consumers didn't demand good food, they didn't get it. Even then there were surely some people who would have liked better, just not enough to provide a critical mass.

And then things changed. Partly this may have been the result of immigration. (Although earlier waves of immigrants simply adapted to English standards--I remember visiting one fairly expensive London Italian restaurant in 1983 that advised diners to call in advance if they wanted their pasta freshly cooked.) Growing affluence and the overseas vacations it made possible may have been more important--how can you keep them eating bangers once they've had foie gras? But at a certain point the process became self-reinforcing: Enough people knew what good food tasted like that stores and restaurants began providing it--and that allowed even more people to acquire civilized taste buds.

So what does all this have to do with economics? Well, the whole point of a market system is supposed to be that it serves consumers, providing us with what we want and thereby maximizing our collective welfare. But the history of English food suggests that even on so basic a matter as eating, a free-market economy can get trapped for an extended period in a bad equilibrium in which good things are not demanded because they have never been supplied, and are not supplied because not enough people demand them.

And conversely, a good equilibrium may unravel. Suppose a country with fine food is invaded by purveyors of a cheap cuisine that caters to cruder tastes. You may say that people have the right to eat what they want, but by thinning the market for traditional fare, their choices may make it harder to find--and thus harder to learn to appreciate--and everyone may end up worse off. The English are often amused by the hysteria of their nearest neighbors, who are terrified by the spread of doughnuts at the expense of croissants. Great was the mirth when the horrified French realized that McDonald's was the official food of the World Cup. But France's concern is not entirely silly. (Silly, yes, but not entirely so.)

Compared with ethnic cleansing in Kosovo and the plunging yen, such issues are small potatoes. But they do provide, well, frites for thought.

Krugman's thoughts are particularly amusing to me because I was born and raised in a household where both parents had been through the Great Depression in Britain in the pre-World-War-II years.  My mother's cooking had improved remarkably by the time I was born, because she'd been exposed to Canadian, American and South African cooking by then, but she still instinctively adopted some British habits in her cooking style, and taught them to her children.  (I well remember my [American] wife's disgust the first time she saw me trying to brown meat in a frying-pan.  "You're not browning it - you're boiling it!"  She soon saw to it that my culinary habits improved.)

I have no idea whether Krugman's ideas on how British cooking came to be so bad are correct or not.  However, I will note that between my first visit to England in 1973, and my second during the late 1990's, the food did seem to have improved an awful lot.  Nevertheless, I'll still vote for some good old-fashioned English stodge on my plate now and then.  Long live spotted dick, sausage rolls and steak and kidney pie!


An FBI whistleblower alleges abuses


I highly recommend paying close attention to an FBI whistleblower's case as it unfolds.  The New York Post reports:

Bombshell allegations by FBI Special Agent Steve Friend contained in a whistleblower complaint filed late Wednesday with the Department of Justice inspector general reveal a politicized Washington, DC, FBI field office cooking the books to exaggerate the threat of domestic terrorism, and ­using an “overzealous” January 6 ­investigation to harass conservative Americans and violate their constitutional rights.

Friend, 37, a respected 12-year veteran of the FBI and a SWAT team member, was suspended Monday, stripped of his gun and badge, and escorted out of the FBI field office in Daytona Beach, Fla., after complaining to his supervisors about the violations.

He was declared absent without leave last month for refusing to participate in SWAT raids that he believed violated FBI policy and were a use of excessive force against Jan. 6 ­subjects accused of misdemeanor ­offenses.

. . .

“I have an oath to uphold the Constitution,” he told supervisors when he asserted his conscientious objection to joining an Aug. 24 raid on a J6 subject in the Jacksonville, Fla., area. “I have a moral objection and want to be considered a conscientious objector.”

Friend, who did not vote for Donald Trump in the 2020 election, said he told his immediate boss twice that he believed the raid, and the investigative process leading up to it, violated FBI policy and the subject’s right under the Sixth Amendment to a fair trial and Eighth Amendment right against cruel and unusual punishment.

In his whistleblower complaint to DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz, obtained by The Post, Friend lays out multiple violations of FBI policy involving J6 investigations in which he was involved.

He says he was removed from active investigations into child sexual exploitation and human trafficking to work on J6 cases sent from DC. He was told “domestic terrorism was a higher priority” than child pornography. As a result, he believes his child exploitation investigations were harmed.

He also has reported his concerns about a politicized FBI to Republican members of Congress, among 20 whistleblowers from the bureau who have come forward with similar complaints.

Among Friend’s allegations:

  • The Washington, DC, field office is “manipulating” FBI case management protocol and farming out J6 cases to field offices across the country to create the false impression that right-wing domestic violence is a widespread national problem that goes far beyond the “black swan” event of Jan. 6, 2021.
  • As a result, he was listed as lead agent in cases he had not investigated and which his supervisor had not signed off on, in violation of FBI policy.
  •  FBI domestic terrorism cases are being opened on innocent American citizens who were nowhere near the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, based on anonymous tips to an FBI hotline or from Facebook spying on their messages. These tips are turned into investigative tools called “guardians,” after the FBI software that collates them.
  •  The FBI has post-facto designated a grassy area outside the Capitol as a restricted zone, when it was not restricted on Jan. 6, 2021, in order to widen the net of prosecutions.
  •  The FBI intends to prosecute everyone even peripherally associated with J6 and another wave of J6 subjects are about to be referred to the FBI’s Daytona Beach resident agency “for investigation and arrest.”
  •  The Jacksonville area was “inundated” with “guardian” notifications and FBI agents were dispatched to conduct surveillance and knock on people’s doors, including people who had not been in Washington, DC, on Jan. 6, 2021, or who had been to the Trump rally that day but did not go ­inside the Capitol.

Friend says he was punished after complaining to his bosses about being dragged into J6 investigations that were “violating citizens’ Sixth Amendment rights due to overzealous charging by the DOJ and biased jury pools in Washington, DC.”

There's more at the link.

Sadly, I suspect Mr. Friend's allegations will be suppressed and/or not properly investigated, because the Justice Department as a whole appears to have been subverted by partisan political interests.  As for the FBI's trustworthiness (or otherwise), I can only refer you to an earlier article in these pages:

The FBI can no longer be trusted in any way, shape or form

Do please read the comments below that article as well.  They're eye-opening.

(I'll also refer you to my earlier article this morning.  If you're interrogated by the FBI, that goes double - because it's actually a criminal offense under Federal law to lie to the FBI!  You don't want to go there.)


"Lies, Damn Lies, And Police Interrogations"


That's the title of a recent video by the Armed Attorneys, Richard Hayes and Emily Taylor.  I think it's particularly important viewing in the light of partisan District Attorneys and police administrators in many jurisdictions in the USA.  I've written about that problem extensively in the past, particularly in these two articles:

If you find yourself forced to defend yourself and/or your loved ones, no matter how legally and morally correct your actions were, you may find yourself under potentially hostile interrogation by police or prosecuting authorities, because those against whom you were forced to act might be more "politically correct" than you are.  It's a very real threat in many jurisdictions today.

That's where Hayes' and Taylor's advice can save your butt.  I highly recommend taking the thirteen minutes you'll need to watch this video - and then I strongly advise that you seek out a local, competent, respected, experienced attorney in the field of self-defense, and put them on retainer.  If for some reason that's not possible, consider some sort of legal insurance to provide such coverage.  (My personal recommendation in that field is the Armed Citizen's Legal Defense Network, partly because of their cost-effective coverage, but particularly because of the very high quality of the members of its Advisory Board.  If I ever need it, I want that sort of expertise on my side!  No, I'm not getting any commission or other consideration for recommending them.  There are several alternatives.)

Good advice, IMHO.


Thursday, September 22, 2022

Technical difficulties with Blogger?


I'm sure many of my readers have seen comments on other blogs about how difficult some are finding it to post new articles.  Some claim that Google is improving tweaking fiddling with its Blogger architecture, trying to improve it.  The Silicon Graybeard wrote a lengthy article about it recently, to which I refer you if you'd like more information.

I also noticed yesterday that my site statistics, normally accessed via Statcounter, were much lower than usual.  It appeared as if my blog traffic had literally halved overnight.  Fortunately, I use more than one site monitoring/metering service, so I was able to cross-check Statcounter's figures with others.  All of the latter indicated that my traffic was perfectly normal, so I have no idea why Statcounter's numbers changed.  I'll see how they look today.

I've also had complaints from some readers that comments they'd left were not appearing.  A couple even accused me of deleting their comments.  Sorry, folks, but I don't do that anonymously.  If I delete a comment, I delete its content, not the comment itself, so people can see it was there.  The only reasons I do that are to get rid of trolls, or remove content that is NSFW or overly profane.  Blogger, on the other hand, has had problems with "disappearing" comments from time to time.  Nobody seems to know why, or, if they do, they're not saying.  I can only assume that the current issues are related to the others mentioned above.

I don't know what's going on, but I'm not very happy about it.  I'm in the process of setting up a backup blog site, so that if the terminally politically correct nuke this blog, it will still be accessible.  If it goes down, look for its replacement at the blog name (all one word) followed by the usual dot and com.

Meanwhile, I'm sorry about any hassles you're experiencing with this blog - but I hasten to add that they aren't my fault.