the view through the windshield car blog

Miscellaneous Musings & Opinions (2019)

Who Is Really Polluting The Earth?

It should be noted that China now burns more coal than the rest of the world combined. (posted 11/12/19, permalink)


When Low Income Housing Is Forced On Your Neighborhood: Recently, Jack Baruth wrote about the disruption of stable neighborhoods by the introduction of low-income, high-density housing. "I also have to suspect that, in some cases at least, the suffering of those homeowners is the primary goal rather than a happy consequence. We're seeing something similar in the gleeful deconstruction of everything from major-league sports to Star Wars by a new generation of culture warriors who fully understand the power to be gained by taking the things your enemy loves and twisting them beyond recognition. They are no more likely to believe in "live and let live" than the commissars of the Khmer Rouge were to permit the unrestricted wearing of corrective spectacles. Part of my day job involves what we call "saving driving" so I've taken a great interest of late in the actions and beliefs of the people who want to restrict or eliminate the ownership of gasoline-powered automobiles. A surprising number of them will admit that they don't really care if there's a net climatological benefit to banning the Challenger Hellcat Widebody; they find the existence of such things repugnant on moral grounds and therefore: hey hey, ho ho, the 6.2 has got to go."

I already experienced ghettoization when Section 8 people came to Willingboro, NJ. When we moved into our first home there in 1968, the town was a pleasant, racially-mixed community with a breadwinner in every home. In the early 1970s, unscrupulous real estate people began pushing Section 8 programs, often submitting fraudulent applications to get approval. Lowlifes arrived from Trenton, Camden, North Philadelphia and other seedy areas bringing with them bad habits, low expectations and a 'gimme' attitude.

Residents saw home values stagnate while houses elsewhere continued to increase in value. Many decided to flee Willingboro. We moved to another town after only five years and felt we got out just in time.

By the early 1980s, the Willingboro Plaza - a once-pleasant shopping center - had become overrun with drug dealers. Muggings, purse snatchings and shoplifting were common. It became so bad that people refused to shop there. Stores closed and the Plaza turned into an abandoned blight.

Now it's happening again in a rural area about three miles from my home. Battle Ground Community United Methodist Church is selling five acres to Habitat for Humanity. The plan is to build 20 homes for low-income families.

This is a rural area outside Battle Ground's city limits. There are few sidewalks, it's at least a one mile walk to the nearest shopping center, street lighting is sparse, mass transit is practically nonexistent and there is little industry in the area. In short, it is a bad idea, poorly thought out by a bunch of brainless do-gooders. Low-income people will end up stranded - far from shopping, jobs and family.

Urban problems are now going rural. (posted 10/18/19, permalink)


How To End The War In Afghanistan Problem: Are you as tired of the 18 years of deaths and carnage as I am? There is a solution. Here's my plan to accomplish it in four easy steps:

1. Get a peace agreement with the Taliban.

2. Tell them we wish to express our gratitude by giving out coupons for free goats (one per customer) to be picked up at Ghazi Stadium in Eastern Kabul.

3. Each member of the Taliban also receives a raffle ticket to win one of 30 Toyota Hilux pickup trucks on display at the stadium. Ticket holders must be present to win and must show up on the date and time inscribed on the ticket.

4. Once all Taliban are in the stadium, drop a giant bomb, obliterating Ghazi Stadium and everyone in it.

Taliban problem eliminated. Afghanistan conflict solved. War over. Remaining Afghans live in peace and harmony. (posted 9/6/19, permalink)


No Wonder Ghana Doesn't Have Any Rocket Scientists: An intelligence quotient, or IQ, is a score derived from one of several standardized tests designed to assess intelligence. Typically, the median raw score of the norming sample is defined as IQ = 100. Approximately 95% of the population scores an IQ between 70 and 130.

This chart shows the IQ of various countries around the world:

Singapore and Hong Kong are highest at 108, Taiwan and South Korea are just behind them at 106 IQ. Japan is 105; China is 104. Canada: 101, UK: 100 , US: 98, Ireland: 94.

Ghana averages a 60 IQ; Ethiopia: 61. Typically, the lowest scores are in Africa. The Middle East doesn't score very high either. Perhaps that explains why so many countries in that area seem to be engaged in endless wars and coups. There was much pearl-clutching when Donald Trump referred to certain parts of the world as shitholes, but looking at the world IQ map, there seems to be an inverse correlation between IQ value and shitholeness.

People are considered mentally retarded if their IQ is below 70. Mild mental retardation: IQ 50–55 to 70; children require mild support; formally called "Educable Mentally Retarded". The average IQ of a young adult with Down syndrome is 50. Individuals with IQs below 70 have been essentially exempted from the death penalty in the U.S. since 2002.

By race, the overall rate was 16.6 per 1000 for blacks and 6.8 per 1000 for whites. Rates of mental retardation for black males, the group with the highest rates, were 1.7 times higher than black females, 2.4 times higher than white males, and 3.1 times higher than white females.

Charles Murray's much-maligned 1994 book 'The Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life' posited that intelligence is the most dominant factor in the trajectory of each person's life, and it serves to predict such things as socioeconomic status and tendencies towards criminal behavior. (posted 8/26/19, permalink)


Why Millennials Are Poor: There are many people who complain that young people can no longer afford a new car because prices are too high. For example, Jack Baruth recently wrote that young people "can't afford $24,000 HR-V EX-L AWD automatic-transmission transportation pods with all the charm of pre-chewed gum. Why don't you try making a car a young person would actually want to buy?"

It is not the fault of automakers. The reason young people feel so poor is because:

College is over-priced. In the 1965-2019 period, tuition for a Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering degree at Villanova University has increased 46-fold. Starting salaries for newly-minted MEs have only increased 11-fold during the same period.

Starting salaries for teachers during the same period have only increased 6-fold. It's worse for Liberal Arts majors and other non-STEM fields. College tuition and fees have increased 190% since 1998. During the same period, average hourly wages have only increased 82%.

Many college students take on excessive student loan debt for an education that never pays off. In 1965, I didn't know anyone who had a student loan. Everyone I knew worked summers and part-time during the school season to help defray their educational expenses. The federal government began guaranteeing student loans provided by banks and non-profit lenders in 1965. Today, 45 million people have student loan debt. About 70% of college students now take out education loans. In the last 10 years alone, total student loan debt more than doubled in the United States, overtaking both credit card debt and auto loans, and hitting an all-time high of $1.5 trillion.

At Bennington College in Vermont, the median earnings for grads 10 years after after their graduation are a mere $29,500. Tuition at Bennington is $53,860 per year for each of its 775 suckers students.

During the 1965-2019 period, prices of automobiles increased 10 to 14-fold, depending on the vehicle. But the average wage increased only seven-fold during the period. If you're an arts grad who can't get a "real" job and you're working as a barista for ten bucks an hour, you're never going to afford a new car, just as someone making minimum wage in 1965 was either driving an old clunker or taking the bus.

Here's a chart which demonstrates my point:

Item
1965
2019
Change
Tuition - Mechanical Engineer $1,100/yr. $50,500/yr. 46x
Average Starting Salary - Mechanical Engineer $7,200/yr. $81,400/yr. 11x
Average Starting Salary - Elementary School Teacher $5,500/yr. $44,100/yr. 8x
New Basic Economy Car ('65 VW Beetle/'19 Kia Rio) $1,650 $16,300 10x
New Chevrolet Corvette $4,100 $57,000 14x
Minimum Wage (Pennsylvania) $1.25/hr. $7.25/hr. 6x
Average Wage $3.50/hr. $23.45/hr. 7x
Inflation Indicator $1.00 $8.13 8x

In 1965, 7 months of pay would have covered my entire four-year tuition. Today's ME grad would have a pay-off time of 30 months. These days, a teacher would need 50-65 months for payoff. Today's barista would be at least ten years, assuming zero living expenses. The reality for the college-grad coffee pourer would be 'never'.

Conclusion: Blame the price-gouging universities, the too-easy-to-get, government-backed loans, and - most likely - the stupid suckers who sign up for the 'college package' without investigating the costs. And consequences. And the alternatives. (posted 8/12/19, permalink)


Motel Memories: Every week, James Lileks posts some old motel postcards - most from the 1950s and ’60s. I'm particularly taken with them because they bring back memories.

In the late 1960s, I began traveling on business . In those days, if you were traveling to an unfamiliar city, you'd choose one based on the Hotel Redbook (which tended to favor large downtown hotels and didn't usually list motels near the airport) or those 'Take One' paperback directories found in the lobbies of large chain hotels/motels: Holiday Inn, Marriott, Hilton, Ramada Inns, Hyatt, etc.

I tried not to stay at Holiday Inns; many were badly run with broken televisions, poorly-cleaned rooms, glacially slow and overpriced breakfast service, etc. Anytime I got screwed over by a Holiday Inn (and in those days, I was paying top rack rate), I'd steal a couple of towels. After a while, I had quite a collection. They were great for cleaning cars. I still have some. Whenever I would win a trophy at a car show and people would ask me the secret to getting such a shiny finish, I'd tell them, "I always use stolen Holiday Inn towels to polish my cars."

In those days, Ramada Inns were much better than anything Holiday. If I was lucky, I'd travel to a city that had a Hyatt or Marriott, which were top-of-the-heap in the 1970s.

Sometimes, my company's local salespeople would make reservations for me at a hotel they had used, usually an independent mom-and-pop place. I'm pretty sure that's how I ended up staying at the Magic Lamp Motel in Anaheim, California during my first trip to the Golden State in 1972. "Across the street from Disneyland," proclaimed the back of the postcard on Lileks' site. The problem is that the hotel was across from the back side of the Magic Kingdom, so it was quite a trek to get to Disney's front entrance.

By the late 1970s, a number of chains had sprung up and exploited Holiday Inn's many weaknesses. Between that and switching to AAA travel guide books as a source for good places to stay, traveling away from home became a less unpleasant experience. Nowadays, the Internet has made everything easy: Photos, online reviews, room descriptions, listings of amenities, super-hot discounted prices and booking rooms online are just mouse-clicks away.

Mr. Lileks observed, "It seems as if there were a million of these places, now mostly gone, wrecked, paved over, pools filled, or they're still around and have descended into bug-ridden meth caves."

Recently, I read that Ikea plans to offer a chain of budget hotels throughout Europe. The rates will be cheap but you'll have to assemble your own bed. (posted 7/16/19, permalink)


Fourth Report: We had a wonderful Independence Day celebration. Flags were put outside, I cooked Don't-Bother-Me Burgers on my propane grill and my wife served up a batch of her Famous Potato Salad. My daughter and son-in-law were with us and enjoyed the food.

I should note that 100 or so miles south of here, my son had his own cookout and prepared "Latin Elvis" burgers - peanut butter, 2 kinds of jelly, fried rum-soaked banana and thick bacon.

We spent time watching television. The D.C. parade was something to behold (we only saw parts of it), President Trump's inspiring speech in front of the Lincoln Memorial was one of his best and struck just the right tone. "As we gather this evening, in the joy of freedom, we remember that we all share a truly extraordinary heritage," President Trump said. "Together, we are part of one of the greatest stories ever told - the story of America."

It was awesome to see the B-2 stealth bomber flanked by F-22 Raptor stealth fighters fly over the crowd at the Mall. Until I saw the F-22s off its wingtips, I didn't realize how huge the B-2 is. And the Blue Angels were incredibly impressive as well.

I think the best part was when President Trump drove a M1 Abrams tank, took a detour down Constitution Avenue, lit an M-80 firecracker and lobbed it into the open sunroof of Jerry Nadler's Cadillac. Or maybe I just imagined that part of the festivities.

Overall, the event was a moving combination of presidential eloquence and American military might. Some pundit - I forget who - remarked, "Trump's got the Left and the Democrats to come out against the 4th of July. Political genius."

The Trumpian fireworks were stunning (three times as many fireworks, show lasted twice as long as usual); too bad that PBS ended their show before the fireworks ended. They couldn't extend the 'A Capitol Fourth' to accommodate the extra fireworks because they had a Very Important Promo of an upcoming Ken Burns' Boring Documentary already scheduled. Buncha lefties.

Earlier, we watched the Boston Pops Extravaganza which was less than awesome. There was much promotion of Michael Bloomberg, the Bloomberg TV Network and its sponsors as well as many commercial interruptions, especially for Bosley Hair Restoration. (Perhaps the schizophrenic, never-ending, ever-changing financial data streams shown at the bottom and right sides of the screen on Bloomberg's regular programming makes people tear their hair out, creating a natural market for toupée hustlers.) The selected songs and the talent performing them were second rate. And who plays Carly Simon's 'Let The River Run' during fireworks? Arlo Guthrie performed, singing 'This Land Is Your Land', including all the Commie verses. Arlo's dad wrote it as critical response to Irving Berlin's 'God Bless America'. I thought it was a very bad choice for a Fourth of July event. Arlo also sang his 1972 hit 'City of New Orleans', without feeling and in a whiny, nasal voice. I like Willie Nelson's version better.

The Vancouver (WA) fireworks display was televised locally and was disappointing - as has been the norm for several years. Once upon a time Vancouver had the largest fireworks display west of the Mississippi - shot from a barge on the mighty Columbia River. Then the city lost sponsors. As usual these days, the field from which the fireworks were launched caught fire, causing almost as much excitement as the fireworks themselves. Hasn't anyone figured out how to shoot off rockets from land yet?

I hope you had a wonderful and patriotic Independence Day. We Americans have many reasons to be thankful for our hard-fought independence. (posted 7/8/19, permalink)


Man's Best Friend: This cartoon spoke to me:

I've had several dogs in my life and remember all of them with fondness. My first dog was Winky and, yes, he did wink at people. Winky died of a heart attack 62 years ago. I hope his little dog-soul is romping around happily somewhere.

God bless him and all good dogs. (posted 6/21/19, permalink)


Vision Versus No Vision: George Paolini wrote about Apple's Mission Statement, beginning with its current one. "Apple designs Macs, the best personal computers in the world, along with OS X, iLife, iWork and professional software. Apple leads the digital music revolution with its iPods and iTunes online store. Apple has reinvented the mobile phone with its revolutionary iPhone and App store, and is defining the future of mobile media and computing devices with iPad."

Notice anything strange about that statement? To begin with, it's not a mission statement. It's about what Apple does today, not about what it wants to become. It doesn't even mention services, at least overtly. And what's with the bragging? Who needs that? How does that inspire any employee, customer or partner of this massive conglomerate?

Paolini reminded readers to look, in contrast, to the mission statement Steve Jobs put out in the 1980s: "To make a contribution to the world by making tools for the mind that advance humankind." Remember when Apple made things that were Insanely Great?

"Whoa. Notice the difference? This isn't about what they do but about what they desire to be. It's positive, inspirational, aspirational, passionate, clear of purpose and bold.

And therein lies the difference between the 'Steve Jobs' Apple and the 'Tim Cook' Apple."

He continued, "Tim seems to be a nice guy, a decent guy. He has done an admirable job keeping the engines running. So I wouldn't go as far as to say Apple has lost its way since Jobs' death; it has simply drifted aimlessly. It has no vision. It has no focus. It has no passion about making a "contribution to the world.""

The Z Man added, "A decade ago, Apple was a cool brand run by an equally cool genius who liked wearing black turtlenecks. Now it is seen as a Chinese electronics company run by an angry homosexual."

In my final business book, I wrote, "It not vital that you have a Mission Statement for your company. But if you have one, you'd better keep in touch with the marketplace and be prepared to change it as your business changes and as your market changes. .... 'Missions and Visions' may be useful for setting a long-term path for your company. But ... a suitable and implementable action plan must be in place to make sure that your vision becomes reality. And in today's fast-paced business world, the mission may have to be changed if new competitors or new technologies change the entire playing field."

One firm that I recall even had their Mission Statement painted in gold leaf lettering on the wall of their professionally-designed lobby. Boy, did they go out of business fast! I have often wondered if the next company to rent the space painted over the Mission Statement or left it alone and pretended that it was their own. (posted 6/19/19, permalink)


The Blighted Mess Known As Atlantic City: UK newspaper The Guardian claims that Donald Trump's failed casino ventures ruined Atlantic City. James Lileks pushed back, noting that AC was a dump when he visited it in 1991. As someone who began visiting Atlantic City in the 1940s and spent several summers in the area from 1957 to '63, I can tell you that it was in decline even in that bygone era. I last visited the place in 2008 as part of a trip to Pennsylvania and New Jersey. So, I'm a qualified observer of AC's decline. More so than The Guardian, anyway.

AC's Golden Age was in the 1920s, when many Fortune 500 companies once had stores or showrooms on the Boardwalk - General Electric, Lucky Strike and Underwood Typewriter. General Motors had a showroom on the Steel Pier. H. J. Heinz once had an entire pier of its own. All to showcase products to the hordes of tourists who strolled the boardwalk. The city's fortunes began to change after World War II, when improved roads and increased use of automobiles made newer, classier seaside communities (Ocean City and Cape May for example) more attractive. Many had boardwalks of their own, so AC's big draw was lessened. Additionally, the advent of home air-conditioning and affordable air travel to far-away places further reduced AC's tourist draw.

Although people once visited the seaside in the winter for some "healthy and bracing salt sea air," by the late 1950s, shore towns had become seasonal places and the work available ended up being seasonal, too - extending from Memorial Day to just after Labor Day. Atlantic City never had any manufacturing or other year-round business enterprise on which to fall back. It was thought that casino gambling would change all that. In the mid-1970s, the new casinos added a bit of glitz to the old boardwalk but the tax revenues from gambling were diverted away from Atlantic City to the NJ state treasury and a few blocks from the boardwalk, seediness and decay prevailed. Some areas looked like a war zone. Or Haiti.

The city's casino revenue has fallen about 45% since its peak of $5.2 billion in 2006. Crime is rampant, druggies and panhandlers frequently accost visitors. Armed police with rifles and automatic weapons are sometimes seen patrolling the boardwalk. Most of the shops which used to line the boardwalk are gone as are the corporate showrooms, amusement parks, Million Dollar Pier as well as Steel Pier and its diving horse act. Planters still has a small store on the boardwalk but the costumed Mr. Peanut - when he appears - doesn't venture very far from the firm's downsized storefront. Sadly, Atlantic City is becoming a ghost town filled with vagrants and other undesirables.

I've written more about Atlantic City here. (posted 5/20/19, permalink)


Who's Gonna Make All the Money From Tariff Increases?

Signmakers! (posted 5/20/19, permalink)


Eventually, No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: The Philadelphia Flyers and New York Yankees have decided that long-dead singer Kate Smith is a racist, based on today's woke standards. The Flyers have removed a large statue of Kate outside their arena much to the dismay of many fans and Kate's relatives, although the statue wasn't a very good likeness. In the 1970s, the Flyers considered Kate and her rendition of 'God Bless America', a good luck charm that helped them win games. Kate personally appeared at several games to perform the iconic song live. Shortly after her death in late 1986, the team erected a statue of Ms. Smith outside their arena at the time, the Spectrum, in her memory.

When she was in her 20s Kate recorded two songs that are now considered racist. One was clearly meant as a satire to mock the racism of the Jim Crow era and the other was a song also recorded by Paul Robeson, the black cultural icon from New Jersey. Hence the new 'racism' charge. Ol' Remus opined, "Pardon me for thinking this has less to do with a novelty number about "darkies" recorded almost ninety years ago than with the song itself - 'God Bless America'."

Ms. Smith's "fame and her fortitude began early. As a child she had not only entertained troops who fought in World War I but later, her songs of hope and inspiration captured America's heart and helped us get through the Great Depression. Then, during World War II, she traveled nearly 520,000 miles to entertain troops and sold a record $600 million in war bonds in a series of round-the-clock radio appeals. One of these, a 24-hour marathon on Feb. 1, 1944, raised a record $110 million in pledges.

Kate Smith's inimitable rendition of Irving Berlin's God Bless America became so popular and so intertwined with our national culture that a movement began to make it our national anthem, replacing The Star Spangled Banner. In fact, to this day many sports events open with it instead of The Star Spangled Banner."

Kate Smith was an American through and through. She and Irving Berlin dedicated all of the proceeds from her rendition of God Bless America to the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts of America. After September 11, 2001, the song was heard throughout the land once again as the nation sought solace in the aftermath of a harrowing atrocity - the worst foreign attack on our soil in our history.

I remember seeing Kate on her own television show in the 1950s. Her opening tune was another of her signature songs: 'When The Moon Comes Over The Mountain'. Kate Smith was a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom and her image appeared on a U.S. postage stamp. When she passed away, President Reagan declared: "Kate Smith was a patriot in every sense of the word."

Kate was indeed a patriot, not a racist. As Peter Ingemi wrote, "If your big issue to fight racism is Kate Smith … then we must conclude that actual racism in the United States of the sort that prevents people from living one's life and bettering one's position is practically non-existent." (posted 5/2/19, permalink)


The Cost Of Entertainment: The McCallum Theatre of Palm Desert, CA just released its events of the 2019-20 season. Here are some observations:

For $140 (best seats), you can see either Itzhak Perlman or Renée Fleming, an American opera singer and soprano. That seems pricey for Perlman, even though he is an accomplished violinist. I've never seen Renée perform but the ticket price seems steep.

For $130, you can spend an evening with Patti LuPone Broadway singer/actress and the original Evita.

For $130, you can enjoy an evening with Michael Feinstein. We saw him at the McCallum a decade ago and he was very good.

For $125, you can see The Piano Guys, once obscure but now a You-Tube sensation. Or you can overpay to see Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme impersonators. Granted, the guy is Steve Lawrence's son but that's a lot of bucks to pay for imitators.

For $118, you can enjoy The Beach Boys - or what's left of them. Only two of the original members are performing at this venue. A few years ago, the best seats for The Beach Boys cost $127.

For $98, you can see a Frank Sinatra impersonator - a surprisingly high price for a faux Frank, methinks. Especially since, for the same price, you can enjoy a live performance of the real Jack Jones, who was at least as good as Frank was in his prime - IMHO. He had several hits in the 1960 and '70s - plus he sang 'The Love Boat Theme' for the treacly television show. And was once married to Jill St. John.

Or, you can spend $98 to see Pink Martini, including both of their terrific female singers, China Forbes and Storm Large. In late 1999, we went to a new model unveiling at a local Jaguar dealer. Live music was by Pink Martini - a relatively obscure local band at the time - and I remember their impressive performance. They played pleasant '40s-'50s swing music and were tucked in the corner of the showroom where the chrome wire wheels and accessories were usually displayed.

For $85, you can experience Manhattan Transfer, alas - with none of the original members.

The best seats for a Steve Tyrell performance cost only $80 - a relative bargain.

For $75, you can see John Tesh, formerly of 'Entertainment Tonight'. He now sings. Or you can enjoy Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis Jr. - both fronted the once-famous Fifth Dimension. It has been almost 50 years since I've seen The Fifth Dimension perform live but they were great in their day. Or, for the same price, you can enjoy Herb Albert and his wife, Lani Hall, who was the original, talented lead singer of Brazil 66. Or, you can see Judy Collins in concert.

For $65. You can see The Kingston Trio … ummmm .. except that all the original members are dead and the current group is now simply a licensed ‘product’. Tom Dooley is dead, too.

To me, there doesn't seem to be a lot of correlation between ticket pricing and my idea of talent worth. But, these days, I'm not the target audience. (posted 4/30/19, permalink)


Matchbook Ads: Many of the advertising methods popular 60 years ago have become obsolete and are rarely seen today: promotional post cards, print catalogs, imprinted pencils and pens, Yellow Page advertising and, of course, imprinted matchbooks. There was a time when many people smoked and matchbook advertising was used by all kinds of businesses to promote themselves.

In the 1960s, every restaurant offered imprinted matchbooks. The fancier the joint, the fancier the matchbooks. It was not uncommon to visit someone's home and find a giant brandy snifter on the coffee table filled with fancy matchbooks collected by the owners during their travels. The decline of smoking has pretty much killed off matchbooks as a promotional tool.

James Lileks has posted quite a collection of match covers here. He wrote, "It's not my imagination: matches are far less ubiquitous these days. When more people smoked, more shops and restaurants had a box of matchbooks by the counter, often under a small sign that read 'For Our ‘Matchless’ Friends'. As a small child, I knew there was a double meaning there, but I couldn't quite grasp what it was.

These come from many sources – estate sales, eBay, antique stores, my own childhood collection. (Yes, they let me play with matches.) I've selected the best for their graphic design, historical value, or the sad tale you can infer by holding them between thumb and finger and listening closely."

I've discussed advertising in detail here. And mused about automobile advertising here. And opined about branding, marketing and positioning here. (posted 4/8/19, permalink)


Mission Creep: Federal agencies never surrender their power, even after their congressional mandates were accomplished. Instead, they invent new problems to solve, thereby justifying their continued existence.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was created by Congress in 1970 to write and enforce regulations designed to protect the environment and, by extension, human health. The EPA quickly became a victim of its own success. As the environment became cleaner, there were fewer and fewer real environmental problems to address. So, they began inventing them, initially by just making their dose-specific health guidelines and media–specific comparison values smaller to create the impression of increased "risk." Then, they would make the unsubstantiated and over-used claim that chemical X "is now more toxic than previously thought." But, it was almost never true. Which is why it's difficult to buy solvent adhesives that work. The good ones have all been banned - even for industrial use.

It's not just government agencies. Mission Creep occurs in any bureaucracy, including nonprofits. For example, the March of Dimes was established in 1938 to find a cure for polio. In 1955, successful vaccines were developed. But the MofD is still hustling for money - not dimes, by the way - to "improve the health of mothers and babies."

The American Lung Association's 1904 mission was to fight tuberculosis. Did ALA go out of business when TB was conquered? No. It expanded its mission to "improving lung health and preventing lung disease through education, advocacy and research."

Meals On Wheels was originally founded to deliver cooked food to shut-ins and check on their welfare - a noble cause. MOW now brings prepared food to children and families "experiencing low food security" and offers "ethnic dishes for a diverse community." (posted 3/21/19, permalink)


Practical Skillsets: Recently, Ronnie Schreiber wrote about useful and marketable skills. He mused, "For a long time now, and this has little to do with political ideologies, I've wanted cabinet-level secretaries to the president of the United States to pass a small test of practical skills, just to see how much real world experience they have. Can they change a flat tire without using some misandristly promoted Geico app? Can they solder two copper wires together? I'm not asking about welding, mind you, that's a fairly technical skill, just if they can do some basic soldering. For that matter, could they connect two wires using a wire nut? Do they even know what a wire nut is?"

Personally, I'm glad Ronnie dropped the welding requirement. When I arrived at college to major in Mechanical Engineering, I found that most of my classmates already had courses in mechanical drafting, model making, wood shop and metalworking under their belts. My high school's classical education program offered no pre-Engineering courses. But I charged right through, even though I remained the worst welder in metal shop though the end of the term. But I did graduate in four years with a Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering degree. And I can solder quite adeptly, especially if the solder has some lead in it.

As Ronnie strongly implies, there is a real joy in making something useful and using learned skills to create it. I've written more about that here. One reader felt my best line was when I wrote that "filling a diaper is not a reason to proclaim: "Look, I just made something.""

Ronnie also pointed out that today's "journalists" don't seem to care about things like the five Ws (Who? What? When? Where? Why?).

These days, many people get little sense of fulfillment because they lack practical manual skills. They're not taught such things in school - no room in the curriculum after packing in all those diversity sessions, conflict resolution workshops and self-esteem courses. Few teenagers are able to land summer jobs where manual work (and craftsmanship) is practiced. The kind of summer job where you come home tired and sweaty - and must immediately jump in the shower to wash away your own stink - is disappearing.

I hope this nation never has to go into survivalist mode. Too many citizens - possessing neither practical skills, common sense nor calluses - won't make it. My advice: Learn a skill. Give your hands something to do. Someday, you may be able to make a living from it. And your creations may very well outlive you, providing joy and fascination for generations yet unborn.

Something which will never happen with, say, data entry. Or diversity consulting. (posted 2/19/19, permalink)


Green New Deal Much Worse Than 1930s Colorless New Deal: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (or as she is referred to at several websites Occasional-Cortex) offered this part of her Grand Plan: "We set a goal to get to net-zero, rather than zero emissions, in 10 years because we aren't sure that we'll be able to fully get rid of farting cows and airplanes that fast." Why not use the farting cows to power airplanes? Just keep them in coach, please. She also wants to ban internal combustion engines. I guess my next car will be a Flintstonemobile.

Who knew that Democrat Socialists consider farting cows a bigger threat than ISIS?

AOC is just getting started: "Totally overhaul transportation by massively expanding electric vehicle manufacturing, build charging stations everywhere, build out high-speed rail at a scale where air travel stops becoming necessary, create affordable public transit available to all, with goal to replace every combustion-engine vehicle." This is from a woman who represents NYC where they can't even keep their subway system working. Or safe.

Oh, and she also wants to provide "economic security" for people who are "unwilling to work." Because, you know. Sometimes work just sucks and you shouldn't have to work if you don't want to.

And, if that's not enough for ya, Ocasio-Cortez vowed to defund ICE completely and claimed Latinos should be exempt from criminal proceedings and immigration laws because they are descended from Mesoamerican cultures that preceded the United States. "We are standing on native land," she claimed, speaking just outside the U.S. Capitol. "And Latino people are descendants of native people. And we cannot be told, and criminalized, simply because of our identity or our status. Period."

"We're here to say that an agency like ICE, which repeatedly and systematically violates human rights, does not deserve a dime. They do not deserve a dime," she said.

Over at Ace of Spades, Ace himself wrote, "Trump and Congressional Republicans should pass a law that allows - or even requires - a state to act as the Laboratory for testing AOC's ideas. I nominate the state of New York, because it's very liberal, claims to be very, very concerned with the environment, and it foisted this borderline-retard on us.

New York, then, will be required to do all the things that AOC demands of it - we can suspend the ordinary constitutional protections against state coercion for these purposes; I mean, this is such an important cause, should a very old piece of paper written by dead white men stand in the way of progress? - and we allow (or require) New York to ban cars, airplane travel, and cows (and all other ruminant sources of meat).

Hell, let's just do what she so clearly wants us to do and declare her Political Messiah.

Then we build some big beautiful walls around New York, Snake Plissken style, and we check back in ten f**king years and ask whatever survivors are still remaining what they think of Breakfast Club Evita."

Dave Burge suggested this addition to the Green New Deal, "How about free government Sharpies so we can write extra zeroes on our money?"

I vote to put Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's face on the new Zillion Dollar Note. Who's with me?

And I'm looking forward to the new Million Dollar Menu at McDonald's. (posted 2/11/19, permalink)


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