Friday, February 28, 2020

The Corona Virus and China Decoupling

Via Instapundit

Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous thoughts and observations.

Waiting for Nancy Pelosi to announce that the Democrats have a plan to fight the corona virus but that Congress will have to pass it first before she reveals whats in the plan... Virgin Galactic has received nearly 8,000 online reservations "of interest" showing that lots of people really want to go to space. However, how many of those will actually end up paying the reported cost of $250,000 for a seat in the six-passenger spacecraft? If just half of those who did the online reservation fully committed that's $1 billion in potential revenue...  Corona should just come out with a Hard Seltzer Hand Sanitizer to capitalize on the news... Interesting - a wearable privacy bracelet that "jams" smart speakers like Alexa and others from recording your conversations. Cool idea but to be honest the bracelet is ugly as fuck (but that could be worked on)... Anything worth doing does require years... "I am indeed rich, since my income is superior to my expenses, and my expense is equal to my wishes." - Edward Gibbon... Who knew? The iconic Patsy Cline song Crazy was written by Willie Nelson. Just found out that nugget yesterday... 

Farnam Street Knowledge

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Linky Links

Stuff I found interesting or amusing and thought I'd share.

- 3 simple exercises you should do every day

- Big Julie: The Life and Legacy of Julius Caesar.

- Could the Coronavirus cancel the Tokyo Olympic Games?

- Just added this book to my Amazon Wish List

- Heh Heh

- Bag o' Bacon? Sign me up!  HT Stephen Landry

- Clive Cussler author and creator of Dirk Pitt has passed. Clive Cussler lived quite a life. HT Execupundit

Happy Birthday Ralphie

Today is Ralph Nader's 86th birthday and I for one would like to wish him a happy birthday and thank him once again for taking those votes away from Al Gore in the 2000 election. Nader got 3% of the vote nation-wide and who knows how many votes in the closely contested (to put it mildly) Florida vote.

Thanks Ralphie. Don't hold your breath for a birthday card from Al Gore though.

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous thoughts and observations.

Now that Harvey Weinstein is a convicted rapist just a reminder that while he was President - Barack Obama got his daughter Malia an internship with Weinstein's company... Just curious but if The Rent is Too Damn High guy was running for President as a Democrat how do you think he'd be polling against this field? Have to be double digits right?... Adult Swim should have a show called Rick Santorum: Vatican Spy. It would be a cross between The West Wing and Archer. Tell me you wouldn't watch that show!... I'd like more Randy Quaid in my life (Tweet is a year old but damn)... I know stereotyping is bad but if I see the back of your car has 10 or more bumper stickers and two of them are for Coexist and Bernie Sanders - I'm going to go right ahead and assume that your home smells like cat piss... Deep thoughts from Chris - could Dark Matter simply be the leftover quantum entanglements from the matter and anti-matter that was annihilated just after the Big Bang? (Please note that if this turns out to be true the Nobel committee must credit A Large Regular)... Ed Asner could be this decade's Abe Vigoda. Every time his name comes up I'm surprised to learn he's actually still alive...

Yuval Harari

Needed to get this off my chest. This rant was brought on by a recent article in The New Yorker on Yuval Harari.  Please note that even though I linked to the article - I'm not recommending it as I barely made it a third of the way through before quitting in distaste.

Also please note that Harari's book Sapiens deserves all the praise and accolades it has received. I enjoyed that book very much and may even read it a second time. It is a well written Reader's Digest explanation of the history of mankind. How else would you describe all of human history condensed into a couple hundred pages?

However, unlike other celebrity historians before him, such as Stephen Ambrose, Harari and his now staff of twelve isn't necessarily sticking to history. Instead he's projecting into the future using his "current place in world affairs" "between Madonna and Steven Pinker" to sell books to people I think will never read them. In my mind that screams out "Charlatan!"

I enjoyed Sapiens but I have neither the time nor inclination to read Harari's other books.

So endeth the rant.

Heh Heh

Via Instapundit

Linky Links

Stuff I found interesting or amusing and thought I'd share.

- DARPA's hypersonic "Glide Breaker" could blast missile threats out of the sky

- Think I may actually buy this T-shirt

- SpaceX will launch the US Space Force's third new-generation GPS-3 series navigation satellite. Cool but one question from the article - why do bank ATM's need GPS?

- And just like that another 5 minutes of stand-up material for Jim Gaffigan is born.

- The best explanation of Dora the Explorer you'll ever read

- Tom Brady on what the loss of Kobe meant to him and what's really important. Well worth the read.

Hurt - Johnny Cash

Today would have been Johnny Cash's 88th birthday. There'll never be another like him.

Monday, February 24, 2020

Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous thoughts and observations.

People forget but the Patriots beating the Rams for their first Super Bowl win in 2001 was considered by many at the time to be as big an upset as Buster Douglas beating Mike Tyson. It was only later when people realized Tom Brady wasn't a fluke and how great a coach Bill Belichick is that it became just another victory... One of the big sports stories of the weekend was the revelation that star pitcher Madison Bumgarner has been secretly competing in pro rodeo roping contests under the alias Mason Saunders. Kind of feel bad that his cover has been blown... Victor Davis Hanson had a good point on a recent podcast. He noted that China targeted their retaliatory tariffs on products produced in States that could effect the electoral college in the next Presidential election. For instance soy beans were targeted but almonds (produced mainly in California) were not. This is clearly trying to influence the 2020 election much more than anything the Russians are trying to pull off with Facebook ads... The other big sports story over the weekend was the incredible story of 42-year old zamboni driver David Ayres winning a game vs Toronto as the Carolina Hurricanes emergency goalie. Incredible!... "Habit is the intersection of knowledge (what to do), skill (how to do), and desire (want to do)." - Stephen Covey... If you find yourself being annoyed by a Canadian just remind them that Alex Trebek became a US citizen back in 1998...

Amazing Grace - The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards

Thought it would be a nice way to start the day.

Sunday, February 23, 2020

The Six Secrets to Sales

I used to think there were some secrets or tricks to sales and to closing sales. This was wrong. The secret to being successful at sales is much more straight forward and common sense based. Knowing that pros with think "no shit Sherlock" when reading this I'm hoping others who don't yet realize the truth will still get something out of this. Therefore  I'm offering my six "secrets" to sales success.

1. First and foremost - you have to listen. The customer/client will tell you what is important to them and how they will be making their buying decision. If you are too busy thinking about what you are going to say next or too busy spouting off about every single feature on your product - then you'll miss what the customer is trying to tell you.

2. You have to know your product and the technology that makes it work. If you become the person that the customer turns to to get questions answered - then you are halfway home.

3. Don't be afraid to say that you don't know the answer to a question. Write the question down and promise to get the answer for the customer.

4. Follow-up on all action items and pricing requests. This one is key. If you say you are going to do something - DO IT!

5. Ask the hard questions to the customer. Ask if they have budget and what their time frame is. Know where you stand. Ask what the steps are for evaluation and then ask for the sale when you reach those steps. Let me say it again - don't be afraid to ask for the order. The only thing you have to fear is fear itself. The customer won't think less of you if you ask for the order.

6. Don't try and make square pegs fit into round holes. Put another way - don't waste your time. If your product is not a fit for the customer's application - say so. Be honest with the customer and if you know a good fit - make a recommendation. That customer may be in a position where they do have an application that fits down the road. By the same token - if the customer doesn't have budget - don't waste your time. Get back to them when the time is right.

Saturday, February 22, 2020

Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous thoughts and observations.

If South Korea has reported a large jump in coronavirus cases can you imagine the number of people who have died of the disease in North Korea without any being reported? Remember that China is North Korea's largest (by far) trade partner and the two countries share a border... "There is nothing more horrifying than stupidity in action." - Adlai Stevenson... I laughed too hard at this... To make things easier I propose that any hit song from the 70's that vaguely sounds like a white guy is singing and where you can't 100% identify who the artist is to be automatically credited to Dan Fogelberg. Same rule applies to female singers but with those songs being credited to Crystal Gayle... If you factor in holidays and weekends then President Obama basically averaged one Presidential pardon/ commutation for every day he was in the Oval Office. Meanwhile President Trump has had just 26 such pardons / commutations... I was going to do a post on The Seven Deadly Sins of Iron Man but decided against it. Mainly because of the the ending to Avengers Endgame...

Linky Links

Stuff I found interesting or amusing and thought I'd share.

- China's supply chain logistics is being rocked by the coronavirus. Unfortunately I can attest first hand that this is true.

- Quality and Effort

- Worthwhile profile of author Jack London. Pretty gritty look at the author and his life but surprisingly it left out how racist London was (though that could be chalked up to London being a product of his time).

- I'll just say that this is a cooler way to travel than by Segway

- Interesting insight into perhaps Donald Trumps strongest asset

- Fantastic thread! 40 powerful concepts in 40 Tweets

Curt Gowdy, Casey Stengel, and Beer

Hall of Fame broadcaster Curt Gowdy once told Esquire the story of the night during the 1949 season when he went out for a cold one with manager Casey Stengel, when both were in their first year with the New York Yankees. "He ordered a draft beer and knocked it down in one gulp," Gowdy told the magazine, then described the ensuing conversation: "Jeezus, Casey, why do you drink your beer so fast?" "I drink it like that ever since the accident." "You were in an accident?" "Yeah, somebody knocked over my beer."

Friday, February 21, 2020

Linky Links

Stuff I found interesting or amusing and thought I'd share.

- How Blue Apron became a massive $2 billion disaster

- Matt Taibbi on Mike Bloomberg

- Heh Heh

- Tesla's Powerpack (and Powerwall) products should not be overlooked

- The largest 3-D printed building in the world. Two stories and 6,900 square feet.

- Wow - what a hero! And another reason to dislike Al Gore.

- Young people and Socialism

104th Anniversary of the Battle of Verdun

Today marks the the 104th anniversary of one of the events that changed the world forever. On February 21st in 1916 - the Battle of Verdun began. The battle was to change the course of Western Civilization. 

The idea for the battle was from German Chief of Staff, Erich von Falkenhayn. He believed that if he could take-out France with a major set battle and discourage England to a point that Germany could be in a position to negotiate very favorable terms. To accomplish his goals - Falkenhayn proposed unrestricted submarine warfare to starve Britain and a knockout blow against France at Verdun. With this major battle at Verdun, Falkenhayn hoped to "bleed France white".

It was an ambitious plan - an aggressive plan. Falkenhayn knew that to attack at Verdun he'd have to take resources away from the Eastern Front and that unrestricted submarine warfare ran the risk of bringing the U.S. into the war. Falkenhayn reasoned that Russia was on the brink of revolution and internal civil war in Russia would allow them to take those resources from the Eastern Front and that the decisive blow to France would come before the US was dragged into the war. He was right on the former but wrong on the latter.

Verdun seemed the perfect place to attack. It actually jutted out into the German lines - so it could be attacked from three sides. It was also of historical and psychological significance to Frenchmen (somewhat akin to what the Alamo is to Americans).

The job of attacking Verdun fell to German Crown Prince Wilhelm. He planned to assault the town from both sides of the surrounding Meuse River but that plan vetoed by Falkenhayn. After coming up with a daring, aggressive plan - Falkenhayn was suddenly cautious. Falkenhayn ordered the attack to be confined to one side of the river. Similar to a poker game, Falkenhayn was beaten on the river. Falkenhayn had pocket Aces of a plan but he failed to put enough chips at risk to drive the other player out. By not being aggressive when he should have - he gave France free cards and allowed himself and Germany to literally be beaten on the river.

With so many people who eventually died in the battle, a poker analogy may seem flip but the fact is the Germans had one million troops against 200,000 defenders. They did hold Aces before the battle.

When the attack finally began, the Germans bombarded Verdun with 1,400 guns that rained Verdun with 100,000 shells every hour. The Germans failed to immediately follow up the bombardment with an full-scale infantry attack and what resulted was a stalemate which was to last for months and months.

The dead and wounded from both sides piled up so that both countries were being "bled white". The French begged Britain to open up a diversionary attack elsewhere on the Western Front to drain resources and men away from Verdun on the German side. Thus the Battle of the Somme was born. 

By the time the battle of Verdun ended almost one million casualties had been inflicted in roughly equal numbers for both sides. The Battle of the Somme resulted in about 1.1 million casualties (about 400,000 British, 200,000 French and 500,000 German). The unrestricted submarine warfare resulted in the Americans being dragged into the War (remember that President Woodrow Wilson was elected on a peace platform). The American joined the fight just as both sides were literally exhausted from being "bled white" from Verdun and the Somme and the rest is history (including the harsh terms imposed on Germany that led to the rise of Adolph Hitler and the Nazi Party).

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous thoughts and observations.

Not for nothing but here's a semi-regular reminder that Al Gore is 7-years younger than both Bernie Sanders and Mike Bloomberg and 6-years younger than Joe Biden. And if the Democrats continue to make climate change a top issue then Gore has better credentials then anyone currently running... Author Charles Portis best known for his novel True Grit has passed away. I added his book The Dog of the South to my Amazon wish list based solely on this remembrance of Portis. True Grit is a vastly underrated book... .. Did not watch the Democratic Debate last night in Las Vegas but this morning I awoke with a sadness of wishing Charles Krauthammer were still alive to critique it in writing... A reminder that President Obama signed 1,927 Presidential pardons/commutations while President Trump has just signed 26. So let's take a step back from any faux outrage... Tremendous Angst would be a good name for a grundge era cover band... "Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated." - Confucius...

Linky Links

Stuff I found interesting or amusing and thought I'd share.

- VDH on China's 1984 government tactics. The decoupling is happening just in time.

- Navy confirms Global Strike Hypersonic weapon will first deploy on Virginia attack subs. "The conventional prompt global strike capability would allow the U.S. to hit any target on the planet with precision-guided weapons in less than an hour."

- I too was left scratching my head at the pardon for Rod Blagojevich. But this is an interesting theory on why President Trump acted the way he did.

- Interesting interview of writer Dean Koontz. (Though to be honest I was distracted reading this because of how much Koontz looks like Pete Rose. Have they ever been seen in the same room together?)

- An oral history of the movie Office Space. Long read but well worth it for fans of the flick.

Edward "Butch" O'Hare

On this date in in 1942, Edward "Butch" O'Hare became a flying legend when he almost single handedly saved the USS Lexington from being destroyed by Japanese bombers. Here's how described the action:
O'Hare and his wingman spotted the V formation of bombers first and dived to try to head them off. The other F4F pilots were too far away to reach most of the enemy planes before they released their bombs. As if this weren't bad enough, O'Hare's wingman discovered his guns were jammed. He was forced to turn away. Butch O'Hare stood alone between the Lexington and the bombers.

O'Hare didn't hesitate. Full throttle, he roared into the enemy formation. While tracers from the concentrated fire of the nine bombers streaked around him, he took careful aim at the starboard engine of the last plane in the V and squeezed his trigger. Slugs from the Wildcats six .50-caliber guns ripped into the Japanese bomber's wing and the engine literally jumped out of its mountings. The bomber spun crazily toward the sea as O'Hare's guns tore up another enemy plane. Then he ducked to the other side of the formation and smashed the port engine of the last Japanese plane there.

One by one he attacked the oncoming bombers until five had been downed. Commander Thach later reported that at one point he saw three of the bombers falling in flames at the same time. By now Thach and the other pilots had joined the fight. This was lucky because O'Hare was out of ammunition.
For his heroic actions, O'Hare was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. In 1943 O'Hare died in combat as the result of what may or may not have been friendly fire.

Some other points of interest about Edward "Butch" O'Hare:

- Graduated from Naval Academy at Annapolis.
- His father was a successful businessman who was gunned down by Al Capone
- In 1949 Orchard Field airport in Chicago was renamed after O'Hare (O'Hare International Airport)

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Bon Scott

On this day back in 1980 Bon Scott died - some say he choked on his own vomit but his death certificate says "death by misadventure" (wouldn't that be a great name for a band?). Anyway - here are what I consider the top 5 AC/DC songs with Bon Scott as frontman.

1. It's a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock 'n' Roll)
2. Whole Lotta Rosie
3. Highway to Hell
4. Jailbreak
5. (tie) TNT (tie) Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap

It's a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock 'n' Roll) may be the most perfect hard rock song ever recorded. There is no way to improve on that song. Not many people know this but Bon Scott wasn't even the original lead singer for AC/DC. It was a guy named Dave Evans who Scott replaced after about a year.

Just missing the list Let There Be Rock.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Farnam Street Knowledge

- The Spacing Effect: How to Improve Learning and Maximize Retention

- The Anatomy of a Great Decision. What do you want to achieve? What problems are you addressing? What does a successful outcome look like?

- Complexity Bias: Why We Prefer Complicated to Simple. "The world around us is a chaotic, entropic place. But it is rare for us to see it that way."

Linky Links

Stuff I found interesting or amusing and thought I'd share.

- This problem with RSN (Regional Sports Network) profitability will shortly lead to problems with pro sports collective bargaining 

- The Boy Scouts of America have filed  for bankruptcy protection.

- Niall Ferguson on the Killer Apps of Western Civilization

- Ray Dalio on some of Washington and Lincoln's principles.

- News you can use! Cocaine does not kill the coronavirus (but it will kill your bank account and sleep schedule)

Winter in Boston

Norman and his blonde wife live in Boston. One winter morning while listening to the radio, they hear the announcer say, "We are going to have 3 to 4 inches of snow today. You must park your car on the even numbered side of the street, so the snowplow can get through." Norman's wife goes out and moves her car. A week later while they are eating breakfast, the radio announcer says, "We are expecting 4 to 5 inches of snow today. You must park your car on the odd numbered side of the street, so the snowplow can get through." Norman's wife goes out and moves her car again. The next week they are having breakfast again, when the radio announcer says "We are expecting 10 to 12 inches of snow today. You must park..........." then the electric power goes out. Norman's wife is very upset, and with a worried look on her face she says, "Honey, I don't know what to do. Which side of the street do I need to park on so the snowplow can get through?" With the love and understanding in his voice like all of us men who are married to Blondes exhibit, Norman says, "Why don't you just leave it in the garage this time?"

Monday, February 17, 2020

Life Lesson

From the book Barbarians at the Gate:

During the 1950's Lou Roberts often took his teenage son George [Roberts later to be one of the founders of the leverage buyout firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts] along to business meetings. At an American Petroleum Institute conference one year, father and son sat by a dirt-caked wildcatter in cowboy boots while listening to a speech by the chairman of Humble Oil, the predecessor to Exxon. 

"Which one of those two men would you like to be?" Lou Roberts asked his son afterward.

"I'd rather be like the guy up on stage, the businessman," young George answered.

The businessman, his father explained, had 50,000 employees to watch over, a long, tiring workday, and could expect a pension of several hundred thousand dollars on retirement. The wildcatter, on the other hand, had maybe 30 employees, several dozen oil wells that pumped away while he slept, and was probably worth $5 million.

"Now who would you rather be?" Lou Roberts asked.

Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous thoughts and observations.

Just as a reminder 15-years ago CNN's Eason Jordan made allegations that the military under George W. Bush was targeting journalists in war zones. Targeting as in trying to kill. Neither CNN nor Eason Jordan were ever held accountable for their wild accusations. Sure Eason had to resign from CNN but he still makes a pretty penny from leftist organizations and NGO's... Half a century ago the Red Sox signed their young superstar to an extension making him the highest paid player in baseball... I wonder who started the rumor that Mike Bloomberg was considering Hillary Clinton as a running mate? Was it someone from Hillary Clinton's camp? Or maybe somebody from Donald Trump's camp?... Today the owner of the Red Sox says trading away his great young superstar had nothing to do with money. Basically pissing down Boston fans' backs while telling us its raining... Illegal Catfish Noodlers would be a good name for a band... John Henry Williams basically had his dad decapitated then froze his head and yet today Ted Williams' son would probably be the second most detested John Henry in Boston sports history...

Just Saying

If I ran a newspaper – every once and a while I would slip in the phrase “then a man wearing only a Batman cowl and cape jumped out of a closet” into random articles just to see if people were really reading the paper.

I think it would be amusing to be reading about a summit between Trump and Putin or a post game interview of LeBron James and then have that phrase appear for no reason whatsoever.

Maybe it’s just me that would find that to be funny.

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Foo Fighters and Rick Astley

Taking Rick Rolling to a whole other level.

Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous thoughts and Observations.

T-shirt idea: Bernie Sanders face on a milk carton with the tag line "Socialism was a bad choice!"... Interesting profile of David Baker, the giant of a man who is now the face of the Pro Football Hall of Fame... "Live steady. Don't fuck around. Give anything weird a wide berth - including people. It's not worth it. I learned this the hard way, through brutal overindulgence." - Hunter S. Thompson... Trump may take lap at Daytona 500 in Presidential Limo. I really hope he does this today... If I were to open a bar I think I'd call it Sh*tfaced - truth in advertising!... Awesome!

So True


Saturday, February 15, 2020

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous thoughts and observations.

Ant Ques would be a good name for a classic rock band made up of older guys. "There's no 'I' in Ant Ques" could be their tag line... Elizabeth Warren comes in 4th in NH Primary - SNL's Kate McKinnon hardest hit... I don't write Harry Potter fan fiction but if I did it would be a story about Harry taking Mr Weasley to an amusement park for an afternoon... Oh come on - if ever there was a legitimate reason to get stoned... Curl Up & Dye is a great name for a hair salon... Democrats and Republicans are free to interpret this photo as they wish...

Happy 97th Birthday to Chuck Yeager

Today is General Yeager's 97th birthday. Happy birthday General!

I'm guessing if you asked him - he would probably be more proud of this accomplishment than of breaking the sound barrier.

Speaking of breaking the sound barrier.

And here's another example why Chuck Yeager is the man!

Chuck Yeager a real American hero. 

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Neil deGrasse Tyson Explains the Big Bang to Adam Carolla

Neil: Once there was a single point in the universe that was unimaginatively small and dense. So dense that all the matter in the universe was contained in that single tiny point.

Adam: Whoa, whoa whoa!  How could it be unimaginatively small if you egg-heads imagined it? Sorry but you can't sneak those things by me because of my hyper-vigilance.

Neil: OK! OK! Now suddenly this incredibly small point explodes. Trillions and trillions of atoms burst forth. Atoms of matter and anti-matter. The atoms of matter and anti-matter annihilate each other. For each 400,000 billion atoms of matter and anti-matter just a single atom survives the annihilation. And those surviving atoms are what end up making up the universe - you, me, the planets, the stars, everything.

Adam: So what you're saying is the Big Bang was like if God farted...

Neil: Dude - what?

Adam: Yeah imagine God's unimaginatively small clenched sphincter. Then suddenly boom! The universe's biggest fart. The air outside annihilates the air from the fart and all that is left over is a tiny bit of fecal matter. You, me, the planets, the stars, everything - we're God's leftover fecal matter.

Neil: Well I guess that's one way to look at it but Adam you know I'm an atheist right?

Adam: Me too - but if you can imagine that other shit why not this?

EDIT: I'm traveling this afternoon so re-posting this amusing bit from last May

Linky Links

Stuff I found interesting or amusing and thought I'd share.

- Spotify pays $250 million for Bill Simmons' The Ringer

- Betelgeuse may go supernova (selfishly I want to see a supernova)

- Jeez - Scotland cut down almost 14 million trees to make way for windmills during a 10-year period.

- Outside magazine's best hikes in all 50 states

- If Pete Buttigieg is the Democratic nominee for President then there could be an historic exodus of black voters from the Democratic Party.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous thoughts and observations.

Reminder "Joe Biden" is an anagram for "I Need Job"... Heh heh - very clever... For what it's worth I know multiple groups of guys who car pooled from Massachusetts to attend the Trump rally in Manchester, NH. I'm starting to think that Trump may carry liberal Mass in the general election... "Facts don't cease to exist because they are ignored." - Aldous Huxley... The Mookie Betts trade is giving me flashbacks to when the Bruins traded Joe Thornton who went on to win the NHL MVP award that season. Like the Betts trade the Bruins got back three prospects for Thornton. None of them really panned out and now Joe Thornton will go into the Hall of Fame as a member of the San Jose Sharks... Birds of Prey is flopping at the box office. Is it because it's a "woke" feminist vehicle? Is it because there's no Joker in the movie (which is in no way chauvinistic - it's just that Harley Quinn is joined at the hip with Joker in the DC Comic universe)? The movie has an 80% Rotten Tomatoes score so it's not a bad movie. Is it because this isn't the DC universe movie that James Gunn is directing (that would be next year's The Suicide Squad)? Not sure the reason but I'm in no hurry to see the flick. Based on the box office I guess I'm not alone... 

Farnam Street Knowledge

- The Illusory Truth Effect: Why We Believe Fake News, Conspiracy Theories and Propaganda. "One of the best solutions is to quit the news." Truth!

- The Feynman Technique: The Best Way to Learn Anything

- An Astronaut's Guide to Mental Models

Link Links

Stuff I found interesting or amusing and thought I'd share.

- Four members of Chinese military indicted over Equifax breach

- Heh Heh - awesome!

- Perhaps the most popular channel for kids is on YouTube and I'd never heard of it

- Laughed too hard at this

- Keep reading stories on NASA's experimental supersonic X-59 jet but never see it mentioned how many passengers it can carry. If it's not in the same range for carrying passengers as the retired Concorde then what's the point?

- Pretty much spot on

Monday, February 10, 2020

Blood and Soil in Narendra Modi's India

You could drive a tank through the gaps in my knowledge of India's politics and history. Seriously, if it has nothing to do with Kipling or with the history of Great Britain in India, then I probably know nothing about it.

That's why this New Yorker long-read Blood and Soil in Narendra Modi's India was such an eye-opener.

I know that the article has an obvious anti-Modi political bent but the facts about the Hindu majority's subjugation of millions of Muslims in India seems very fact driven.

Also buried in the story is the fact that India seems to be having a clean water crisis. Something that's also true in neighboring China. I would not be surprised if the treatment of Muslims and the clean water crisis becomes much bigger stories in the coming years for both India and China.

Maybe if Richard Attenborough narrated a documentary for the BBC on the plight then ignorant people like me would be better educated on the subject.

Linky Links

Stuff I found interesting or amusing and thought I'd share.

- Israeli researchers find method to covert carbon-containing waste into hydrogen and methane.

Looking forward to this docuseries.

- You could have given me 100 guesses and I still wouldn't have guessed whose high school photo this was.

- Is truth stranger than fiction or almost the exact same thing?

- The United Kingdom is releasing nearly 60-years of UFO reports online.

- Democrats hate what Trump is highlighting about them. "Give 'em hell Donald." "I just tell the truth and they think it's hell."

Saturday, February 08, 2020

The Best is Yet to Come

This really was an exceptional ending to an historic State of the Union Address. I'd put it right up there with Reagan's It's Morning Again in America for tone and optimism. Would really like to know who the speech writers were for Trump's SOTU because the ending to that speech is also up there with some of JFK's best material.

HT American Digest.

Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous thoughts and observations.

Not for nothing but funny how you never see those "George W - Miss Me Yet?" signs and memes anymore... The government should not have the "keys" to your phone any more than the government should have keys to your home... 01360 is the Zip Code for Satan's Kingdom - seriously... Put me in the camp of people who are happy the Boston Celtics didn't make any deals on Thursday's NBA Trade Deadline. It is much better to make no deal than a bad deal and besides this team has both good talent and chemistry. There was no reason to mess with that just to make a splash... How can you not like Huey Lewis?... I'm also boycotting any "where will Tom Brady play next season" stories. Nobody knows anything. Just speculation that's not worth the time or effort... The lawsuits against SpaceX for its Starlink satellite constellations is worth watching. Lawsuits will be filled with the FCC and with the International Court of Justice arguing the dangers of the "light pollution" and threat of rampant "space junk" has merit. Will be interesting to monitor...


Dyscalculia is a math condition which is to numbers what dyslexia is to reading.

But in my mind I hear the word "Dyscalculia" and I picture the niece of the Count on Sesame Street who is a new character being introduced who is both physically disabled and who has trouble with numbers.

Or you give the character the same attributes but make Dyscalculia the main character of a graphic novel.

That would be so cool. (My brain works differently from most.)

Thursday, February 06, 2020

Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous thoughts and observations.

Decades ago I recall someone asking Kirk Douglas how he remained in such healthy condition. Douglas said one of his secrets was to never use the elevator but always take the stairs instead. Such simple and profound advice that I've tried to follow ever since...  Kirk Douglas' service during World War II should also be noted... Today is an important day in US history - in 1778 France officially recognized the independence of the 13 colonies. Britain immediately responded by declaring war on France... Did you know Orson Welles did not win Best Actor for Citizen Kane and neither did Humphrey Bogart for Casablanca?... "I have as much authority as the Pope. I just don't have as many people who believe it." - George Carlin... China to cut tariffs on $75 billion of US goods. Medical supplies are among the items with new reduced tariffs. I'd also look for China to announce huge purchases of US food stuffs shortly. The Chinese leadership are struggling to deal with the coronavirus and the food stuffs are necessary because they can't afford for their people to be dying in the street from sickness and starving at the same time...  Congrats to Brigadier General Charles McGee...

Linky Links

Stuff I found interesting or amusing and thought I'd share.

- The Earth could be heading towards a "mini-ice age"as the Sun enters a decades long Grand Solar Minimum. The scientists saying the Earth is warming must be pissed at this news.

- How awesome would this be if it were true!

- Spotify is buying Bill Simmons The Ringer.

- Hollywood icon Kirk Douglas passes away aged 103. I did not know that Douglas hired Stanley Kubrick to direct Spartacus. If the Golden Age of Hollywood was the 1940's and 50's then Kirk Douglas is the last of that breed. If it also includes the 60's then Sean Connery and Clint Eastwood are still kicking.

- Steven Pressfield: Resistance = Fear

- Thomas Mann's American Democracy Lecture Tour. A bit of history that I was unaware of. Agree wholeheartedly with the idea that our democracy and history need to be cared for but I find it ironic that the author states "It is a lesson we are in dire need of today as we watch democracy slip away in Trump's America." Whereas those on the right would argue "It is a lesson we are in dire need of today as we watch democracy slip away as the Democratic party embraces socialism." Maybe the fears of both sides can help protect and defend the Constitution, the Bill of Rights and our historic legacy. (HT The Happy Curmudgeon)

Smells Like Teen Spirit - Bandura Accordion Cover

This is now my favorite cover of Nirvana's Smells Like Teen Spirit surpassing the so bad it's awesome Paul Anka cover version.

HT Old AF Sarge one of my daily stops.

Wednesday, February 05, 2020

Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous thoughts and observations.

Watched the State of the Union last night and boy did Trump hit a home run with that speech. I kept having two thoughts during the speech; first this speech wraps up the 2020 election it was that good. Second I kept thinking of "Give 'em Hell" Harry Truman who famously said when someone told him to "Give 'em hell" - "I don't give them hell. I just tell them the truth and they think it's hell." Well the Democrats heard many truths last night and it was certainly hell for them... Is it true that Joe Biden has never won a primary or caucus when running for President? Really?... All of New England agrees... Maybe the app the Democrats used for the Iowa Caucus was coded by Aaron Rogers' agent?... Business idea - American made surgical mask with American flag and "Made in USA" stamped in large letters. Almost all surgical masks are now made in China. I think people would be wiling to pay a little extra for ones made in the US... Wow - Tesla now more valuable than Volkswagen and BMW combined!... The Iowa Caucus is a mess but just wait for the chaos when Tulsi Gabbard finishes in the top 4 in the New Hampshire primary. The DNC won't be able to pretend she doesn't exist any more after that showing... 

Mookie Betts

The Boston Red Sox just traded away this generation's Fred Lynn. I was 9 when Freddy Lynn won the Rookie of the Year and the MVP for a team that came ever so close to beating Cincinnati's  Big Red Machine in the 1975 World Series. Lynn quickly became my favorite player something which was true for a generation of Sox fans. Then Boston traded him away in 1981 for no good reason. I still can't explain it to this day. The Red Sox got back a washed up Joe Rudi and one year of Frank Tananna who went 4-10 with a 4.01 ERA.

Now the Red Sox have traded Mookie Betts to the Dodgers. The deal is Boston sends Betts and David Price (with the Red Sox paying half his remaining contract) to Los Angeles and in return they get outfielder Alex Verdugo from the Dodgers and pitcher Brusdar Graterol from Minnesota. Two top prospects both with significant injury history.

I'm happy to see David Price go in the trade. He was the poster child for entitled, pretentious athletes. And his huge contract was one of the reasons the Boston front office felt it wouldn't be possible to afford to sign Mookie once Betts got to free agency at the end of this upcoming season. To be fair to Price Boston probably doesn't win the World Series over the Dodgers without him. Still happy to see him go though.

Of the three teams involved in the deal - the Red Sox, Dodgers and Twins - would it be a surprise to anyone if Boston now finishes with the worst record in 2020? Depressing.

I've said it before but John Henry has quickly become the most unlikable Boston pro sports team owner in my lifetime. Billionaire Henry could have easily let Betts play out this season then did his best to sign him. That would have earned the gratitude of so many fans like me. But no - Boston needed to get under the luxury tax this season instead. I understand the reasons for this but damn! Fuck John Henry!

While My Guitar Gently Sleeps - Regina Specktor

Very good cover from a very entertaining movie - Kubo and the Two Strings.

Like I said - very entertaining movie that came out a couple of years ago - good for adults and kids alike. And very good cover of one of my favorite songs.

Tuesday, February 04, 2020

The Last Wish

Recently finished The Last Wish by Andrzej Sapkowski. This is the first in a series of books that tell the tales of the Witcher.

I enjoyed the book for what it was - entertaining brain candy. I also marveled at what I perceived to be the author's formula. It appears he decided to make a character which took traits from the three main heroes of The Lord of the Rings - Aragorn, Legolas, and Gandalf and combined those aspects into his new hero - Geralt of Rivia - the Witcher. Then the author dropped his hero into a series of Brothers Grimm fairy tales and made the adventures more "adult" in nature. Genius!

I'm now a couple of episodes into the Netflix series The Witcher and am enjoying that as well. The next book in the series Sword of Destiny has already been ordered.

Linky Links

Stuff I found interesting or amusing and thought I'd share.

- Things were rather stabby back in Shakespeare's day

- What can we learn from people who succeeded later in life? People like Alan Rickman who had his first movie role at 46 or Julia Child who hosted her first TV show at 50.

- This is actually pretty astounding.

- I agree with VDH - Adam Schiff has greatly weakened the Democratic Party's chances in 2020. Schiff may be safe in his home district but he'd flop greatly if he ever tried to run nationally.

Successful People vs Unsuccessful People

Wish I could recall where I first came across this.