Thursday, April 30, 2015

Wikipedia Biased

Past Libertarian Party gubernatorial candidate, Richard Rider, tells us one of our common sources of information on all things life is biased. On some things he says Wikipedia does an ok job, but political related entries are often biased towards the left. He explains his own and another organizations' efforts to edit information there:

"I've tried to post factual, annotated information for California HSR, Prop 13, minimum wage and (most recently) "fast food worker strikes" (which most definitely are NOT strikes).

In all cases, I was QUICKLY deleted -- even though I provided solid URL sources to verify my posts.  When I tried to delete or edit patently false unsourced assertions, they were put back up within the hour.

How bad is the bias?  According to my friends at the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association -- the most knowledgeable entity on Prop 13 -- THEY can't get their information posted on the Wikipedia article.  Read Wikipedia's Prop 13 article, and you'll wonder if there's ANYONE who actually supports the lower property taxes that result.

I hadn't ever noticed that. Then again, I've only tried to post one thing to Wikipedia, at least so far.

I did use Wikipedia to look up what they had on that guy from El Salvador that supposedly spent over a year in an open boat at sea and survived. That seemed to have been written by someone who bought the guy's story lock, stock and barrel. I thought about submitting a rebuttal to his version, but decided it would involve too much effort, having to have links, pictures and such.

I did get deleted from Wikipedia myself once, though. Years ago I submitted an entry for "Fred Mangels". Yep, me. Older readers might remember that, just for fun, I wrote an entry with an abbreviated version of my life story. I don't think it lasted an hour before they removed it. 

I don't recall if they e-mailed me the reason or someone else did. It was along the lines of "We're not gonna fill up our site with entries of people that are full of themselves..". Something along that line, anyway. 

I still think they were wrong to do that. When you think about it there's any number of folks that may not seem like much when they're living, but might be worth looking at some time later. Think of some of the old historical figures we might not know much about nowadays. Wouldn't it be cool if they'd written their life story on something like Wikipedia that we could reference 50 or 100 years later?

I think Wikipedia should give a listing to anyone who wants one, for history's sake. So long as they don't try and change it.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Humboldt County Jail 101

An excellent report and interview by the Lost Coast Outpost's Ryan Burns. He tells a bit about the jail and has an informative interview with a female inmate. I couldn't stop reading. Nicely done.

Interesting statistic he brings out: " Even with some inmates serving sentences of a year or more, the average stay at the Humboldt County jail is only 14 days.". Who'da thunk? Not sure what to make of that.

I knew the late Kris Reynolds who worked in the jail for decades, until her retirement. I remember her saying one of the things that made life in the jail more unpleasant was when there was a large female population. Maybe it's changed, as the lady who was interviewed doesn't allude to that, or maybe it's just bad on the correctional officer's end?

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Times- Standard Quitting Del Norte

The Del Norte Triplicate reports that Sunday will be the last delivery of the Times- Standard to Del Norte County. I guess I missed it when they scaled back delivery from daily to Sundays only. Now Sunday delivery will be no more.

I wonder what cutbacks we can expect for Humboldt in the near future?

Monday, April 27, 2015

Huge Desal Plant Planned for SoCal

Calwatchdog reports on plans for a large desalination plant to be built at Camp Pendleton in Southern CA. This one will supply 150 million gallons of water a day. That's three times the amount the soon to be online Carlsbad plant will provide and would make the Pendleton plant one of the largest in the world... assuming it can be built.

Ooops! A Cellphone Screw Up

I was out in my garage yesterday. My sister-in-law, Jeannette, had set up a small sidewalk sale across the street in front of her house. I saw her walking across the sidewalk talking on her cellphone so decided to jerk her around.

I went inside, grabbed my cellphone, turned it on and sent her a text message: "Put the cellphone down- Fred". I peeked around the corner of the garage to see what she'd do. She was sitting at her table by then. I thought I saw her reach down and grab her cellphone then put it back down, but then I get a reply: "This is not Fred". 

What? Quick texting on her end, but I'm figuring adding my name at the end of my message confused her. Then I get a text reply of "?", then "Who are you trying to contact?". I reply, "You. I'm messing with you.". At that point I figure I'd better go across the street and explain my mischief. 

I go over and asked Jeannette if she was enjoying my text messages. She says, "I didn't get any text messages from you, at least I don't think I did. Let me check.". She looks at her phone and says, "Nope. Nothing from you". What??? Uh, oh!

I ask her what her phone number is. She gives it to me and the one I have is slightly off- last two numbers of the first three are different.  I tell her what number I have and she again repeats hers. Not quite the same. I had 845 and hers was 834.

Ooops! Wrong number! I have to change Jeannette's number on my cell phone list but, before I do, I send another text to whoever I was calling: "Sorry. Wrong number." then turned my phone off. Turning the phone on this morning her reply was in que: "No problem".

Sorry about that whoever you are. Now you know how and why it happened.
Speaking of cell phones, both Jeannette and I were having problems reading our phones out in the bright afternoon sun. I'm sure we're not the only ones. The cell phone companies need to work on making the screen view along the lines of those LED signs that are easy to read no matter how bright the sun is.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

The Homeless Attitude?

Is it just me? The Times- Standard chatted with a few homeless folks from the Devil's Playground about plans for a legal camping spot. The way I read it, they're not happy or grateful an effort is being made to help them.

One fellow says, "I’d like to get low-income housing. But they’re sitting in there saying in the City Council meeting that they’re going to help provide us housing. I want to call their bluff. I don’t want to go to the MAC center, I want to get a home, you know?”. 

Reads to me as I want a house NOW! I get the impression he's not willing to do much, if anything, to get his own situation turned around.

Another fellow, Alex, seems a little better. But even he complains the homeless aren't given enough respect: “Having people flip you off, throw trash at you, say ‘Oh, here’s some change’ and just throw it at you and expect you to just pick it up, that’s kind of degrading really,”

Yes, I suppose it is. Every "job" has its downsides, huh? 

Alex does seem to have a pretty good handle on the others he hangs with: "The other reason he said people aren’t seeking services is that some of them 'like it back here. Simply the fact that they’re ruled by anybody but by themselves,' he said. 'They live for themselves they don’t like being told what to do.'. 

I'll have to admit, I can't argue with that, and at least they're not demanding anything, to hear Alex tell it.

But, if someone is considering giving me charity, I have enough pride that I wouldn't demand more. Maybe it's just the way it was written? Maybe if those guys were actually talking to me, I might not get the not- so- good impression I got from the story.

Earthquake Insurance

I just got one of those letters from the California Earthquake Authority offering an earthquake insurance policy. Seems we get one of these letters once or twice a year. I generally don't bother reading them.

We used to have earthquake insurance. I recall it not being too expensive. This was probably over 20 years ago but the figure $125.00 comes to mind. Don't remember if that was per year or twice a year. It couldn't have been once a month. That would be expensive. We ended up dropping it after a while mostly because, inexpensive though it was, we just didn't have the money at one point.

We actually made a claim back during one of the earthquakes in the early '90s that messed up the house a bit, including me having to take down our chimney. Insurance adjuster gal came out and really gave the place the once over. She told us when she got here it would be at least two hours so we just went to work and let her have at it. 

She found damage we weren't even aware of but, after all was said and done, her estimate came to just under $6000.00, which was our deductible. We didn't think about it before we called her but we didn't even have the $6k to pay the deductible. A life experience, I suppose, but otherwise a waste of time having her come out to begin with.

That might have been another reason we dropped the insurance: You're still gonna have to come up with the deductible. It could be argued that it makes more sense to save the $125 premium since you're still going to have to borrow money to rebuild or fix the house anyway.

This offer I got in the mail yesterday is the same kind of thing, except the deductible is listed as $37,155.00. Wow! No doubt we'd have to borrow all that money to begin with. On the upside, the amount of coverage to the house is more in line with the value of our house- $247,000- than our fire insurance. We're under-insured for fire right now.

I'm not sure what the premium would be. It says $677.00 for a multi- story house on a raised foundation, but again I'm not sure if that means once or twice a year. Once a year isn't that bad as that would be a bit over $50 a month, but if you just made a payment once a year it would be a bit tough.

Still, with the high deductible, we'd have to borrow the money just to get started. At our age, we might as well just borrow the whole amount to repair the house rather than just the deductible. We probably won't live long enough to pay it off anyway.
Speaking of earthquakes, I probably mentioned this before but will again for newer readers: That earthquake that had us make the claim also pulled the two story part of our house a little bit away from the single story. We noticed that early on. 

While I wasn't concerned about the house collapsing, I took advantage of an offer the city made to have building inspectors come out and inspect your house for free. What the heck, said I, no harm in having someone in the know take a look.

I wasn't quite right. The guy came out and told me I needed a [free] permit to take down the chimney. Then he put a green placard on the front door signifying the house was safe to be in. That's when I realized I might have made a mistake calling him. If he deemed the house dangerous for occupancy, he could have red tagged it and we could have had the city trying to evict us from our house.

I don't know that I'll ever call them out again. If our house is unsafe to be in, I'd like to be the judge of that, not the city.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Chief MIlls' Blog

I kept hearing reference to Eureka Police Chief, Andy Mills, having a blog. Someone at the Lost Coast Outpost finally pointed me to where it was. Here it is. He doesn't seem to be posting very often. I didn't find any of the posts so far to be all that riveting, but it's there for you to add to your blog list as I have to mine.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Eureka's Legal Camping Plan

The Times- Standard reports on plans by the city and other powers- that- be for a legal place for the homeless to camp. Areas under consideration are the east side of the Samoa Bridge, the Balloon Tract, the north parking lot of the Bayshore Mall and down by Hilfiker Lane- pretty much where they're already staying, minus Devil's Playground.

I appreciate the situation and agree that something needs to be done. I've wrote here before that people should have some legal place to stay when they have nowhere else to go. I'm not sure this effort will accomplish all that much in regards the objections most have to the presence of the homeless in town.

It seems to me it's not so much the current homeless encampments that annoy people. Sure, it's something people can point at as a problem, but the main issue seems to be the homeless people themselves. We don't like the panhandling, theft and whatever else they do during the day, including just walking down the street being seen. 

Sleeping in a tent, wherever that may be, should be the least of our worries. It's what they do outside the tents that's a problem and that will still happen wherever the tents happen to be.

Giving them a legal place to sleep is a nice gesture and should be done. I'm not sure it does much at all for the main problem, that being the presence of the homeless themselves. It could actually make things worse. 

But, no, I don't have an alternative to offer and I appreciate the city's effort.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

County CalPers Liability 101

The Mad River Union does a good job of explaining the county's unfunded pension liabilities. It doesn't include cities within the county that have their own unfunded pension and healthcare problems.

No Attack On Iran

The Cato Institute's Doug Bandow tells us why it's wrong for the world's most aggressive country to attack Iran.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Get Off My Back, Part 2

You'll recall I sent an e-mail to Anthem Blue Cross a short time ago asking them not to send me their silly phone calls reminding me to set up an appointment with my doctor. Especially silly since Redwood Family Practice isn't one of their network providers. I closed with "Get off my back!". More just venting than expecting anything to come of it.

Looks like they actually paid attention to my message. They put me on their Do Not Call list. How nice! Here's their reply:

Thank you for your e-mail inquiry dated 04/16/2015.
We apologize for any inconvenience this has caused. Please be advised that we have added your phone number ***-***-**** to our Do Not Call list. If you continue to receive automated phone calls and messaging after this date, please get back to us so we can resolve the matter. Also, we can confirm to you that Redwood Family Practice in Eureka is not an In Network provider for your plan.
It is our pleasure to assist you through the Message Center. No reply is necessary unless you require further assistance. If you do have any additional questions, please write back to us at your convenience.
Follow us on Twitter to get timely tips and tools to better understand how to use your health care plan.

Addendum: I guess that didn't work too well. About an hour after I posted this I got another robocall from Anthem Blue Cross asking me to call them. Grrrr..

Near Miss This Morning

Earth Sky News reports an asteroid came pretty close to the Earth this morning. Close being about twice the distance as the moon. Not all that big and it's believed if it would have entered the atmosphere it likely only would have caused a sonic boom and burned up. Unless it happened over a populated area, in which case it might have been like the one that exploded over Russia last February causing damage and injury.

This happens fairly often:

These sorts of events – small bodies colliding with Earth’s atmosphere – are actually pretty common. In April 2014, evidence from the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organization, which operates a network of sensors that monitors Earth around the clock listening for the infrasound signature of nuclear detonations, reported 26 atom-bomb-scale asteroid impacts in Earth’s atmosphere since 2000. Nearly all of these objects went unnoticed, except by people who might have witnessed them as superbolides – extremely bright meteors – flashing across the sky. Of course, most entered over an ocean, and no one saw them.

I suppose that's good or bad news depending on how you look at things. 

If you'd like to subscribe to their daily mailer, there's a link to subscribe at the top of the page I linked to.

KIds Are Safer Now

Nice to see the Santa Rosa Press- Democrat run this Washington Post article on kids being safer now than than they were back in the day. Yesterday, they ran this New York Times column that cuts through the disinformation the Center for Disease Control is trying to spread on e- cigarettes. What's going on at the Press- Democrat?

Monday, April 20, 2015

Rise of the Robots

Reason magazine has a short report on machines entering the fast food workplace. McDonald's has already begun using self- order kiosks. Those will eliminate the guy or gal taking your order. Robots that prepare and cook your food are here, too.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Bing Earth?

Anyone else see that Bing car around town yesterday? I saw it driving south down E street past my house yesterday afternoon. A small red sedan with a Bing sign on the door and one of those Google Earth type cameras on top a five or six foot pole on the roof. 

Maybe Bing is trying to start their own version of Google Earth? I see they have maps on their web site, but nothing to indicate any attempt at another GE. Seems to me that would be a waste of time, akin to trying to reinvent the wheel, or those "new" black book phone books. I wonder exactly what they're doing?

Addendum: I guess what they're doing is called Streetside. Explanation here.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

American Council on Science and Health

I've stumbled on to this group at least a couple times in the last week. The American Council on Science and Health says they were formed by a "... by a group of scientists who had become concerned that many important public policies related to health and the environment did not have a sound scientific basis.". 

So what subjects do they deal with and where do they stand on them? They don't seem too happy with the Center for Disease Control. They don't seem too fond of television's Doctor Oz, either. They seem to be in favor of the California bill to strengthen vaccination requirements. Not sure, but maybe neutral about an increase in the costs of prescription drugs last year. Interesting info on that, regardless.

More issues to come, I'm sure. I've bookmarked their News & Views page and added it to my News links. One more news site for morning reading.

An E- Cigarette Mythbuster

Great links being posted over at the Wilit's News' letters to the editor I wrote about the other day. Found a new blog among them. The Rest of the Story is written by what seems to be an anti- smoking zealot.

Dr. Michael Siegel testified in the lawsuit years ago against the tobacco industry. Now he's not happy with the attacks on e- cigarettes and vaping. He doesn't mince words when he sees research as slanted or falsified. Regarding a study showing e- cigarettes making it harder to quit smoking, he writes: 

"The conclusions of this article are completely invalid, and the article's description of its own findings borders on being deceitful...". That's rather mild compared to some of his other stuff.

" The rest of the story is that this poorly conducted study is going to do great public health damage. It is going to add to the propaganda campaign that aims to demonize e-cigarettes, and which is using severely biased research to try to discredit the solid evidence that e-cigarettes can and do help many smokers quit smoking. This is further evidence that ideology has become more important than science in the modern anti-smoking movement.". 

Good stuff, and that last sentence pretty much says it all. I've added his blog to my list.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Get Off My Back!

That's my new favorite, funny expression. More of a phrase than an expression, I suppose, but I find it hysterical for some reason. I don't believe I ever used it in my life until a week or so ago.

The wife was bugging me about cancelling Dish Network. Ok, she just mentioned it a couple times. Then the other day when I came home there's a note by this computer saying "Call Dish". I'm like, would you STOP? Then I thought, no. Would you get off my back??? 

Too funny, and I thought of all the times I might have seen someone else say that on TV or wherever. Makes me laugh. You know, the guy's all pissed off, finally turns and yells "WOULD YOU GET OFF MY BACK!". Lol. When Connie came home I yelled it at her, but couldn't keep a straight face so it didn't have much impact.

I've been looking for other situations to use it. Dish Network comes to mind. We keep getting e-mails and phone messages warning us to send our receiver back or they're going to get us one way or the other. Just got another one a few minutes ago and Connie had already left to take the receiver to UPS. I feel like calling or e-mailing them and saying WOULD YOU GET OFF MY BACK!!!

Anthem Blue Cross deserves the same. They keep calling and leaving automated messages reminding me to make an appointment with my medical provider. What business that is of theirs, I don't know, since Redwood Family Practice doesn't accept their insurance. Something like three or four messages in the last three days for that.

Last  night I e-mailed them through their web site. I wrote that I don't know why they keep bugging me about seeing my doctor since Redwood Family Practice doesn't accept their insurance and, with that in mind, would they GET OFF MY BACK??? Yep, I did, but didn't use the caps.

Who can I use it on next?

A Democrat Proposal I Can Agree With

Don't get me wrong. Partisan fellow that I am (ha, ha), I certainly think just about every dumb law passed in this state started with Democrats. This latest proposal is an exception and has been a long time coming.

"Senate Bill 411, introduced by state Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens, protects the practice (video recording of police) so long as active bystanders are “not interfering with official duties,” the Los Angeles Times noted."

Time after time we hear of police taking video cameras and cell phones, or even arresting people for recording police activity. That's simply unacceptable. The police have a considerable amount of power and authority, all of it subject to abuse. Recording police conduct is the least we should be able to do.

It will be interesting to see how this goes. Politicians from all sides of the aisle tend to fall over each other to gain favor with law enforcement. That this legislation was even introduced is almost a surprise in that regard. Only time will tell its fate.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Reason For California's War On Vaping

I was commenting on a letter to the editor of the Willit's News earlier today- yet another anti- smoking zealot telling us how bad e- cigarettes are. I pointed out the vast majority of what I've heard was of smokers cutting back or quitting altogether through the use of e- cigarettes. The only reason I could come up with for their attack on e- cigarettes was money.

I was surprised to have someone else reply to my comment and point me to this 3 1/2 minute You Tube video that shows why California is going after e- cigarettes. In short, it's money, although a bit more of a convoluted explanation than I had assumed. 

Summary: California wanted the tobacco settlement money up front so they sold bonds to get it. Payments for the bonds would come from cigarette sales. If sales declined, as they have, the state doesn't get as much money from sales and thus has trouble paying off the bonds. 

Cigarette sales have gone down while e- cigarette sales have gone up, so it's in the state's interest to either get people back on regular cigarettes, or demonize e- cigs enough so a e- cigs could be taxed like cigarettes. Makes complete sense as far as motivation goes. 
Whenever I hear of this sort of thing or people or the State attempting to tax tobacco or e- cigarettes, it reminds me of that scene at the end of that Ringo Starr movie Help! He's throwing money into some sort of a ship's cesspool full of poop, or whatever it was, and everybody is jumping after the money. Seems to me the same sort of thing.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

One Link Gone, New One Added

I decided to dump an old site I had in the sidebar links but added another one in its place. I won't mention the one dropped and most probably won't notice it missing. Don't want to mention the name because I get the feeling she's a bit sensitive.

It's being replaced with the William Lloyd Garrison (who the hell is he?) Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism. Don't think I've ever heard of the guy but my internet buddy, Tom Knapp, has been posting there recently. Today's commentary is pretty good, as has been some of his recent stuff, so we'll give him a try. Not that I go to the links I feature here very often, but this one has been featured in the Rational Review News Digest so I can't help but stop by.
And he's spot on with regards kids being able to go roam around on their own. I recall living in Tustin while in elementary school. Friends and I would ride our bikes out in the hills for mile after mile. Later, in junior high school, I'd normally walk to school- a trip of two miles one way. Fun stuff to remember and part of growing up for me. More and more I'm hearing that's not the case anymore. A bad new world.


Apologies to those who subscribe to this blog and receive posts via e-mail. I accidentally sent out an unfinished version of this post yesterday by pressing the "Publish" button instead of "Save".

A dictionary definition of Partisan:
1. A fervent, sometimes militant supporter or proponent of a party, cause, faction, person, or idea.
2. A member of an organized body of fighters who attack or harass an enemy, especially within occupied territory; a guerrilla.
1. Of, relating to, or characteristic of a partisan or partisans.
2. Biased in support of a party, group, or cause

I suppose the noun version, #1, would apply to me since I'm a supporter of a cause, or causes, but I don't really like that one. I use the term more along the lines of an adjective- "Biased" as used in the beginning of #2, makes it usable. My own definition for use would be someone who sides with a group and takes positions only in defense of that group, or in attacking the other group. That's probably not too good of a definition, either.

Biased is the keyword. Which isn't to say we don't all have biases, but when those biases only apply to one group, that's when I'd call it partisan, as in the term "partisan attacks" which we hear fairly often.

Maybe that would include me, but what if you also support the opposing group sometimes? A few examples of what I consider partisan, partisanship, or partisan attacks:

For a short time an old National Guard buddy was a Facebook Friend. It seemed just about every day he'd post some comment critical of Obama, or Democrats in general. Funny, actually, as I never thought him all that political of a fellow while in the Guard. 

One day shortly after reading a post of his I commented. I don't recall the exact subject but he was blaming Obama for something. I pointed out that what he was complaining about wasn't exclusive to Obama. A couple days later, same thing, and I replied pretty much the same way. He defriended me.

He was unwilling to admit his side was guilty of the same thing because of partisanship, and would never have pointed the finger at his own group for doing the same thing.
Had to drive an inlaw's van to Southern CA a few years ago and couldn't figure out how to switch the radio from AM to FM. As a result, I was stuck listening mostly to right wing talk radio for the better part of 8 1/2 hours. 

Sean Hannity was on at least three times. His big issue at the time was Obama's recent physical where doctors suggested he might be drinking too much. Hannity wouldn't let that go. I was really annoyed knowing full well if the same was being said about Bush, he'd take the opposite side and defend him. I recall a TV incident where Bush was accused by his detractors of being drunk. I'd be willing to bet he defended Bush with fervor then.

Our guy is good. Yours not so good, no matter what.
A year or so ago the Santa Rosa Press- Democrat ran a story on Congressman Jared Huffman's efforts to change the Army Corp of Engineers policy of releasing water from its reservoirs in the fall.  That's been protocol for decades to prepare for flooding.

An earlier story on the subject showed concern from many in Sonoma County over those releases. After all, automatic releases of water don't make much sense in a drought. As a result, Huffman tried to take action.

The first comments to that story were ones berating Huffman. Not necessarily for what he did, but that he did it for nefarious reasons. I was quick to point out he deserved credit where credit was due (and I loathe Jared Huffman). His detractors, obviously of conservative bent, would have no part of that and continued running him down. 

I continued defending him, pointing out the story was not the first time we'd heard of the water releases and that Huffman was acting on the behalf of constituents who had valid concerns over the issue. I told them I was no fan of Huffman, but he deserved credit at least for that. Again, they wouldn't stop. 

Finally, I pointed out that all that was going on was simply partisan sniping and that we wouldn't be hearing any complaints from them if it was a Republican congressman. That seemed to end the discussion.

And it was  just pure and simple partisan sniping. They really weren't even making valid criticism of what he'd done but of his supposed reasons for doing it. If former congressman Frank Riggs had taken the same action, they likely wouldn't have commented at all.  Or, if they had, would have praised the action. Now that's partisanship.

So, am I a partisan for defending Huffman in one instance? I suppose so, at least by some definitions, but not by mine.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Marco Rubio Announces

Cuban- American Senator from Florida, Marco Rubio, threw his hat in the ring for the Republican presidential nomination yesterday. No surprise it wasn't covered by Channel 3 News. Reason magazine takes a short look at, among other things, his War Party and anti- Cuba credentials. 

He doesn't impress me at all now, but the first time I heard from him some years ago I was pretty stoked. I heard him on the radio addressing a crowd in Florida. The theme of his chat seemed to be things his mother taught him. He went on to say (as best I can remember): 

"There's one thing my momma never told me. She never told me, if we could just take what those people over there have, we'd be fine. My momma never told me that. She told me if I worked hard and made my own way, I could make my own fortune...".

I thought that was so cool and relevant as you'd hear that sort of thing from The Left over and over again, even here in the local blogosphere. Comments on the now defunct Humboldt Herald used to echo that theme of taking from others, usually the rich (or whoever was in the next highest tax bracket), so that was pretty neat. Almost as if hearing myself talking, at least on that issue.

But I would never vote for him.

Tobacco is the New Marijuana

I've mentioned before the irony of so many who support decriminalization of marijuana often being the same ones supporting higher tobacco taxes and anti- smoking rules to the point of defacto prohibition. Reason's J.D. Tuccille doesn't exactly go there but takes a look at how anti- smoking efforts are moving tobacco towards the same status of marijuana of the past- the black market and growing your own.

Never mind the newly begun war on vaping and e- cigarettes. Vaping, which by nearly all accounts has helped people reduce their smoking or quit altogether. The wars on....whatever... seem to take on a life of their own no matter what they're about.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Shame On KIEM TV News

It's safe to say many, if not most of us, feel local media leans to the left. You would think, though, they'd have the sense to be a bit less obvious about it.

KIEM Channel 3 News went a bit overboard last night as far as I'm concerned. I can't complain about them mentioning the start of Hillary Clinton's campaign for president, although that could hardly be considered news. Did anyone have any doubt she would? What got me was instead of using news file footage or some such for video, they ran her first campaign TV ad in its entirety- an obvious plug for Hillary. 

And I notice they didn't include that segment in the News section of their web site. Not sure if that means anything by itself, but perhaps it's something they're not too proud of?

Shameless, as far as I'm concerned. If I had any say in the goings on at KIEM TV, heads would roll over that one.
That's not the first shameless plug I've seen in local media. I wrote here years ago about the North Coast Journal essentially loaning itself to Obama's first campaign. 

The publisher ran three articles about the Obama campaign. One about her traveling out of state to help out. Then another one on the head gal of the local Obama campaign and why she was doing it. That one might have actually made a good story if she'd included other candidates, their local campaign workers and what was motivating all of them, but it was all about Obama. I forget what the third one was about, but let those go. They were obvious plugs for Obama, yet subtle enough for the most part I didn't feel it fair to comment. The fourth one was too much.

A cover story on Obama, with an illustration of him on the cover. The story itself was a 2000 to 2500 word oped by Tom Hayden telling why Obama would be a "transformational leader". I might not have commented on that one, either, had she not had Obama on the cover. After all, she does have the right as owner to publish opinion pieces. Trying to disguise them as news, though, or using Obama as the cover story for a local magazine was over the top.

Shameless, and heads should have rolled at the North Coast Journal, too, except it was the boss that did it.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Tim Martin for Congress?

He actually sent me a message via Facebook the other day telling me of his running for congress. I don't normally put info from private communications here so I didn't mention it but, since he's saying the same thing in his Times- Standard column this morning, I guess it's no secret. He writes that he ran for congress once before. I don't remember that.

The column reads as satire, but I do like the global warming denier part. It might be worth giving him a vote for that alone, if he's serious.

Rand Paul for President?

All sorts of chatter in libertarian circles about Rand Paul recently, especially since he announced his candidacy for president. There's been more than a dozen commentaries in Reason magazine alone the last few days. Most seem pretty supportive. 

Over at the National Libertarian Party Facebook page, comments seem much more negative. But those are mostly from what I refer to as the Coffee Club Libertarians, so I don't pay them much mind. Sure, Rand may not be a big L libertarian, but nobody would be paying attention to him if he was.

Jacob Sullum takes issue with Rand's supposed waffling, but points out he's still strong on some issues. Over at CATO, David Boaz takes a look at Rand's chances of winning the Republican nomination. While he doesn't explicitly say so, he seems to think he can, if I'm reading him right.

Me? Hard to say. I understand a lot of his waffling. He's trying to be all things to all people. I'm even somewhat tolerant of the non- principled things he's done such as endorsing Mitt Romney in the last presidential election. It's the old going- along- to- get- along thing. Pragmatism, perhaps to a fault. Still, he'd have little, if any support from the Republicans if he hadn't done so.

The question is how far will he go to get along?

Much of the speculation about him is moot, seems to me, since his chances of winning the nomination are slim to none. He'll likely get treated the same way his father was. We're already seeing the groundwork for that by both the Left, Right and mainstream media in trying to belittle, if not downright demonize him.

I'm with Nick Gillespie when he wrote a while back, "If the tries too hard to please all constituencies, he'll likely get the support of none." That seems to be ever more the case as we see him taking stronger positions on certain issues to please whoever he might be talking to.

But what if he does win the nomination? Would I vote for him? As it stands right now, probably. It would be nice to be able to vote for someone with a chance of winning rather than someone who doesn't, as I usually do.

Is he libertarian enough to move the country more in a liberty oriented direction? I'm not so sure. As a senator I think he has worked towards that end. As president, he probably couldn't.

You have to consider who he'd appoint to his cabinet and other positions, keeping in mind his go along to get along style. You can bet if he did win the nomination it would have come with a lot of deal making. As part of those deals, I would expect his cabinet and other staff positions to be very mainstream Republican. With that in mind, I think we'd see little difference from the status quo with a Paul administration.

Yep, I might vote for him (absent deal breakers, below) if he doesn't stray much further on issues than he already has. I'm kinda with Sullum. While he doesn't say whether he'd vote for Rand, his closing paragraph kinda says it all: 

"The challenge for Paul is to remain different enough from other Republicans that there's a reason for him to run but not so different that he cannot win the nomination. I'm not sure those goals can be reconciled, but it will be interesting to see him try."

"I'm not sure those goals can be reconciled..."- that's it right there, and I'm not at all sure they can.
A couple issues come to mind that I consider deal breakers. He's already pretty close on one. In no particular order:

Cuba: I've wrote before here I'm fully supportive of opening doors with Cuba. I understand President Obama recently left to go see Castro(?). If so, kudos to Obama.

I don't believe Paul was amongst those mouthing off that re- establishment of relations with Cuba was akin to treason or a threat to the free world. That's a good thing, but if he changes course and starts trying to appease the Cuban American crowd by supporting any sorts of attacks on Cuba- symbolic or otherwise- that's a deal breaker. That would show fundamental poor judgment, or at least pandering to its extreme.

Iran, the middle east and the military: He's already dangerously close to a deal breaker on those issues. He's supported increasing military spending, albeit to be paid for by cuts elsewhere. He signed the letter to Iran that at least in part opposes the president's deal over Iran's nuclear program, and has seemed to have gotten more aggressive toward the middle east in general. 

I'm no pacifist, but if he gets any more aggressive with the military or the middle east, that will be deal breaker. It won't take much.

I'm sure there's other issues, too, but none come to mind right now. Assuming he wins the nomination, if he pushes me too far, it's Gary Johnson for President in 2016!

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Police: Maybe Watch Your Ps & Qs?

I've been wondering about some incidents of apparent police "brutality" lately. There's been two in the last week that come to mind. One, in South Caroline recorded a cop shooting a running black man in the back. Another, down in San Bernadino where some sheriff deputies catch a guy they were chasing and beat the daylights out of him.

What puzzles me is why they're not more cognizant that someone might not only be watching, but recording them, and act accordingly? More and more often we're seeing police accounts being discredited because someone was nearby with a video camera of some kind. When you get into such a situation, wouldn't it be in the back of your mind that you're not alone and likely being recorded? Especially those San Bernadino sheriff's deputies that had a news helicopter over them. Sheeesh!

It might well be an ingrained part of the culture: Kick ass, deal with the fallout later? But there's probably something not so sinister also involved: Emotions run high during confrontations and I suspect that leads to tunnel vision where all the cop is thinking about is the "fight" and his target?

Still, when you have a news helicopter flying above you, wouldn't it get your attention?

Hungry Legs Faster Than Cell Phones?

Our bum nephew stopped by late afternoon yesterday. He asked what was for dinner. He always does that but this time I could sense a bit of desperation. Maybe it was the look on his face? I told him we'd already eaten (we had) and he wasn't invited anyway. I suggested he go across the street and sponge off his parents. 

He turned and went across the street, seeming a bit disappointed, although being turned down by me was nothing new. He's always asking what's for dinner and I always reply "It doesn't matter. You're not invited".

I mentioned to Connie I thought he seemed pretty serious this time. She mentioned some frozen taquitos we had in the freezer that weren't being eaten and that this might be an opportunity to get rid of them. Good idea! I wondered out loud if I should send him a text message asking if he wanted the taquitos.

She immediately walked in from the other room and threw me my cellphone. Always looking for an excuse to text someone I took advantage of the opportunity. I texted him, "We have some frozen taquitos. You want them? You can cook them over there".

I don't know that it was even a minute before there was a knock on the door again. There he was. I gave him the ten or so frozen taquitos. He actually seemed relieved when he turned and went back across the street.

I lay back down on the couch and about 20 seconds later my phone rings. I have a text message. It's a reply from our bum nephew saying "I'll be right over", yet he'd already been here and left.

Not sure if that's a testament to how fast a hungry guy can move, or how slow and unreliable cell phone text messaging can be sometimes.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Rand Paul

Lots abuzz about Rand Paul's announcement he's running for president, at least in the forums and news feeds I frequent. I was in the perfect frame of mind yesterday to comment on him, but I'm not anymore. Stand by for a hard- hitting commentary sometime in the future when I'm back in the mood.

No More Dish Network

Readers here will recall I've been making moves toward dumping pay TV. As part of that effort I was going to cancel Dish Network, if only because of their recent price increase. Called them up and they kinda talked me into going with Dish Pause. That's a program where you keep your settings and can reconnect anytime. Our deal was through September.

Then a few days ago Dish called up reminding us the credit card they billed us with had expired. No big deal to me as we weren't paying anyway. I just ignored it but the wife was concerned about them saying if they try to bill us and the card number is still invalid we might be charged "late fees". 

I still wasn't all that concerned. Then again, you never know what sorts of stunts they might pull. The wife was, though, and started ragging on me to call them and cancel Dish Pause. Yesterday afternoon I did.

Whew! I suppose it shouldn't have been any surprise they'd try to talk me into staying with them in one way or another. That's how we ended up on Dish Pause.

First it's the "We're sorry to see you go. You've been with us for so long", line. Then she goes "....but we respect your decision so...". Thought that might be it. Nope. Then she goes "....but, you know, we can keep you on this for ....". I tell her again, no, no, NO. I was being nice about it, though.

She goes on again with, "Ok, we respect your decision...", only to come back with "but..we can give you a year, no contract, for $29.99 a month....". To which I again said, no, no, NO, although I've wrote here before if the price was always $30 a month I'd stay with either Dish or Suddenlink forever.

She again says "Ok, we respect your decision...", and came back with yet another option, the details of which escape me. I come back with the no, no, NO again explaining it's not just them but we're dumping pay TV altogether.

She gives me the final "Ok, we respect your decision", and asks me to hold for a minute. Then she comes back telling me she's going to give me some information about the terms of ending of service. She rattles through that really fast, telling me they'd be sending us a shipping container to return the receiver and other stuff and that if I didn't send it back there's be some big penalty. Whatever. 

Finally, after 20 or 25 minutes, it was over. Why do I feel I haven't heard the last of them?

Thursday, April 09, 2015

That State Vaccine Exemption Bill

The Sacramento Bee reports a bill in the state legislature to limit allowance of exemptions to childhood vaccines has passed its first hurdle. It passed the Senate Health Committee on a 6-2 vote.  That, after a what seemed to be a loud and emotional hearing.

As I've wrote here before, I'm not an anti- vaxxer. I've had all my child immunizations with no ill effects and a number of additional ones as an adult. I'd be willing to get more. I'm still sympathetic to those who fear vaccines. I don't think they're right, but realize people will believe the "science" that fits their world view and that they feel comfortable with. 

I have to give the anti- vax folks at least one point in their favor: This measles outbreak that brought up all the controversy might have seemed scary (my wife doesn't have childhood immunity because of a bone marrow transplant), it turned out to not be that big of a deal in the end. I forget the exact number infected. Something like 150 or less, across numerous states. At least some of those infected had been vaccinated. And that's with the current exemptions. 

Once again I'm stuck in the middle, so to speak. I encourage vaccination by all, but realize forcing something someone on something that they're scared to death of is asking for trouble. How would you feel if someone tried to hold you down and inject you with something you were deathly afraid of?

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Celebrity Name Game Question

I don't know that I'd consider myself a TV game show fan at all, but I love watching the Celebrity Name Game. Anybody else? 

They always have two lower level celebrities on the show. The wife and I have been wondering for some time how much those celebrities get paid? Hundreds, or thousands, of dollars per show? I looked this morning to see if I could find the answer online. No luck, although I did find a forum where someone asked the same question. No one answered.

So I broke down and went to the Celebrity Name Game Facebook page, Liked it, and asked the question there. Certainly someone there should know? No reply to my question as of yet. :-(

The Desalination Story

The San Jose Mercury News has one of the better stories I've read on desalination as an alternative water source. Starting out with a look at the desal plant Santa Barbara built, then shut down years ago, they go on to look at what's involved in considering whether to use desalination to provide water.

They point out desal is not a panacea and shouldn't be considered absent extraordinary circumstances. The Santa Barbara plant was built during a drought, then shut down when heavy rains returned. Do you want to spend all that money on a desal plant only to not need it a year or two later?

But, as the article points out, some communities on the southern coast don't feel they have any choice but to use desal. They don't have any other reliable source of water right now.

Monday, April 06, 2015

KIEM Poll Question: Texing & Driving

The most recent poll question over at the KIEM TV web site asks whether you text while driving. Last I looked 20% chose Yes. I appreciate their honesty. Kind of a trick question, though, as it doesn't include talking on cellphones.  There's no doubt in my mind more than 20% are talking on cellphones at some point in time while driving. I'll go so far as to say 30% or more. 

Except for me, of course. My cellphone is nearly always turned off.

Sunday, April 05, 2015

Gov. Brown & Agricultural Water

The Sacramento Bee reports Governor Brown has responded to complaints of California agriculture using 80% of the state's water. He acknowledges that if the drought continues the historic water rights that give agriculture so much water are "...probably going to be examined".

In the meantime, he's standing by his current policy. As he points out, "The farmers have fallowed hundreds of thousands of acres of land,” Brown said. “They’re pulling up vines and trees. Farmworkers who are at the very low end of the economic scale here are out of work.”. 

Agreed. The farmers have taken a hit already. As for the water still being allocated to agriculture, he says, "Yeah, you bet it’s true. But by the way, they’re not watering their lawn or taking longer showers. They’re providing most of the fruits and vegetables of America.

I'm no fan of Governor Brown, but I'm with him on this one.

Read more here:

Read more here:

Joystick Needed

I need a new joystick. Anybody know of a place in Eureka that sells them? Radio Shack used to sell the Saitek 290 but stopped offering them. I'm looking for a Logitech 3D Pro as in the picture. If I can't find one locally, I guess I'll buy one online again.

Friday, April 03, 2015

Water Restrictions Likely In Humboldt

The Times- Standard reports water restrictions are still likely in the county despite us having a surplus. This the result of Governor Brown's one- size- fits- all reaction to the drought. You really have to wonder what he and the rest are thinking, although I suppose since we're "up by San Francisco..." what applies to San Francisco applies to us. That's to be expected.
What really gets my goat is the finger pointing over the water shortages. I hear time and again it's all agriculture's fault. A letter to the editor of the Times- Standard today tells us yet again.

Yep, maybe agriculture should take a bigger hit, although my understanding is they already have, especially the smaller farms. But to suggest agriculture is the bad guy? As Victor Hanson pointed out in his City Journal piece today:

"It’s now popular to deride California agriculture in cost-benefit terms, given that its share of state GNP (anywhere from 4 percent to 8 percent, depending on how one counts related industries) supposedly does not justify its huge allotted consumption of state water (anywhere from 65 percent to 80 percent). But note the irony: California supplies a staggering percentage of the nation’s fresh vegetables and fruits; it’s among the most efficient producers in the world of beef, dairy, and staple crops. One can purchase an iPhone 6 or a neat new Apple watch, but he still must eat old-fashioned, pre-tech food. There are no calories in Facebook, and even Google can’t supply protein. On the other hand, I can live without an iPad. Who is to say which industry is essential and which isn’t? Insulin and antibiotic production constitute a micro-percentage of GDP, but is their water usage less important than Twitter’s? Is a biologist who studies bait-fish populations in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta really more important than a master tractor driver whose skill gives broccoli to thousands?"

I suppose he's doing some finger pointing himself, but I agree that agriculture is something we need, not a luxury. And how do you decide which industry is more important than another one and deserves more water?

The guy over at The People's Republic looks at the possible demise of California's pool industry. Good point, but water affects just about any of us. I'd suggest to him that the lawn maintenance industry employs many more people than pools, yet there are calls across the state for lawns to be replaced with something that doesn't use water.

I'm not saying any industry get preference. Some industries could collapse, depending how long the drought lasts. Pointing fingers and trying to attack other industries isn't going to help anything. Tough decisions will need to be made.

My Idea: A Humboldt Bay Triathlon

The Lost Coast Outpost reports a marathon being planned for the area this August. It will start and end in Old Town, Eureka. Neat idea. I like it a lot better than that Kinetic Sculpture Race. But the Kinetic Sculpture Race was were I believe I came up with the idea of a Humboldt Bay triathlon. I'll give it credit for that.

My idea was similar to this marathon, but would involve running and biking with a swim across the bay at some point. The bay swim would be problematic as you'd have to deal with the tides. At first I was thinking of the swim event taking place from the north jetty to the south, or vice versa. Then I got to thinking the tides might get real strong during the wrong time of year, especially if you were unlucky enough to get to the jetty too early or late for optimum tide.

So, how about from east to west across the bay somewhere along the shore, to either the south or north jetty? Seemed to me it would make for an interesting event. I'm too old to do it. Would any of you younger folk be interested in such a thing?

Thursday, April 02, 2015

Billboard Lawsuits Gone Wild?

According to the Mad River Union, the Humboldt chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union has filed a lawsuit against Arcata activist David Meserve for the signs he's placed on the 101 corridor calling for the removal of the advertising billboards. The ACLU claims his trying to remove the billboards violates CBS/Outdoors' right to free speech.

They're also suing CBS/Outdoor, owner of the advertising signs for taking down signs Meserve put up, claiming that violates Meserve's right to free speech. Then the ACLU put their own signs up suggesting leaving both party's billboards up. No, they won't be suing themselves

It almost seems as a spoof to make a point- the being absurd to demonstrate absurdity thing. Then again, I think they make a point, although how much of a point they're trying to make I'm not sure. Maybe just a way to get some publicity?

As far as the advertising signs in question, they don't bother me. People have a right to advertise and the view from 101 between Arcata and Eureka looking out towards the bay isn't exactly what I'd call "stunning".

Wednesday, April 01, 2015


A guy mentioned hoosiers in the comments the other day. That's the common term for folks living in Indiana. I asked him if he knew where the term came from. Apparently not. At least he hasn't answered yet. 

Makes me wonder what it means, though. Do people in Indiana eat a lot of hoose? Do they go hoosing a lot? No way of knowing since the first definition I found for hoose doesn't make much sense.

Wikipedia doesn't help much, either. It just says the origin of the word remains disputed, with only a mention of some poem to point to. Strange having a name that no one can say what it means.

Still Stirring The RFRA Pot

I'll blame this on the Rational Review News Digest (free in your inbox five days a week) since they keep sending out links on the issue. 

U.S.A Today has a story on RFRAs. The first surprise for me was finding out the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act was authored by liberal, nanny stater Chuck Schumer. Who'da thunk? I'll give credit where credit is due but it makes me wonder if there isn't something wrong with that federal RFRA after all?

U.S.A. Today then goes on to give some real world examples where the RFRA was used to protect individuals- at least one of which doesn't seem very religious oriented to me. The kid in #4 who won the right not to cut his hair for school, although I suppose there could be some religious aspect to that, and the parents claimed as much.

I don't know if that's the whole list of real world applications of the law, but there aren't any listed that that defended discrimination.
As an aside, the dress code in that #4 case brings back memories to me: "[b]oys' hair shall not cover any part of the ear or touch the top of the standard collar in back.". That's exactly the hair requirements we had when I went to high school, at least in our district. 

I hated that but had to put up with it until I weaseled my way into continuation school where they didn't have a dress code. Do they have hair restrictions in any of the local schools nowadays? I'm under the impression they don't anymore.