Monday, February 29, 2016

Rentals To Replace Car Sales?

Auto industry expert, Eric Peters, thinks so, anyway. He points to auto maker General Motors that's already switching to renting cars instead of trying to sell them.

"It’s also the death-keen of the car business … which deserves it.
For decades, the car companies have not only not fought the government’s endless cost-adding mandates – which have made cars increasingly unaffordable and unappealing, especially to Millennials (something like a fourth of them doesn’t even have a driver’s license) they have embraced them and even anticipated them."
I don't see that as too far fetched as people have been leasing cars for some time. If it costs less, and would put you behind the wheel, why not? I just wonder if most Americans are ready to drop the desire for car ownership and satifsy themselves with borrowing a car and just driving? I don't know tha it would bother me. I have enjoyed renting cars in the past.
One cavaet here is that I have yet to see some of Peter's other predictions come to pass. For instance, not long ago he said manual transmissions were on the way out. I've seen plenty of new cars with manual transmissions since he wrote that. I hope he's right, though, as I've beome an automatic transmission afficionado in recent years. 
Whether his prediction on car rentals is valid remains to be seen. I'm not sure I'm ready to buy into that one yet.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

We Need A Department of War

Times- Standard columnist Tim Martin takes aim at the National Rifle Association and gun ownership in todays column- a rather mild attack from some I've read. He did get me to thinking, though, when he brought up our Department of Defense:

I've felt for some time we need to change the name the Dept. of Defense back to the War Department, as it was called back during WW2.That would seem only appropriate to me for an agency of the most militarily aggressive nation on the planet. Maybe I'm being optunustuc, but might it might remind Americans what they're doing when they suggest attacking other countries for whatever reason?

Well, maybe not. Still, seems to me best to call something what it is, rather than using feel- good names that absolve people of any feeling of guilt over what they've done or are doing. The problem is, I don't think there's any elected officials in the country willing to make that happen.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Why Not To Vote For Presidential Candidates

Nice site that explains why you shouldn't want to vote for any of the current front runners in the Republican and Democratic presidential races. Click on their photos and you'll get an explanation. Notice Libertarian Party hopeful, Gary Johnson, isn't included so he's still a safe vote.

Evenwell vs. Abbott

I got a phone call a few mornings ago from the guy mentioned in this Los Angeles Times article. Ed Blum is associated with the American Enterprise Institute and has a bone to pick with the way political districts are drawn in some places. His beef? That they're chosen based on total population rather than eligible voters lving within the district..

He's working on  challenging the issue all the way to the Supreme Court and was looking for someone to name as a plaintiff for a suit. He told me he's found plaintiffs before by cold- calling people and wondered if I might be interested in him using my name. I told him he was more than welcome to use my name.

What I didn't tell him is issues like this dealing with how districts are chosen, or how many people show up to vote aren't something I lose sleep over, especially when you consider the end results of the election might well end up the same under either system. I don't believe we'll see any magic result from playing around with redistricting or forcing more people to vote.

Whether my name ends up in the news connected to some Supreme Court case remains to be seen. I just hope nobody asks me about ti as I don't know i could argue the case myself very well.. 

The idea seems kinda neat to me, though. Kinda like my very own fifteen minutes of fame. Imagine years from now someone using Mangels vs. the U.S.  when referring to some prior Supreme Court case. I'd be famous, and far more famous than just being the King of Humboldt Bloggers.

It's kinda like those freeways and overpasses you see that have names attached to them. That interchange south of Forutna being a good example of how cool it would be. It's dedicated to the late Roger Rodoni. Wouldn't it be cool to have that sign say The Freddy Memorial Interchange? And this Supreme Court case might giive me national fame. Just what an egocentric guy like me needs.

The Cato Institute looks at the case.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

CA Ending Daylight Savings?

Great news from Sacramento, if only because there's some sensible legislation being considered for a change. A Democrat, of all things, is proposing ending the adoption of Daylight Savings Time.

The Sacramento Bee article lists some of the reasons this is a good idea. As far as I'm concerned, they can't end it soon enough. I'll be sending a note to our state leigislators asking them to support this bill. The bill is AB2496 if anyone else wants to join me in contacting the powers- that- be over this.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Stanford Comes To Humboldt?

I was surprised to read in the Times- Standard that Stanford School of Medicine has had some sort of training arrangement with medical folks in Humboldt since the '70s. Even more surprised that they seem interested in expanding that program. We spent some time at Stanford a few weeks ago and most down there don't even know where Eureka is.

But, more power to them. It would just be nice if their medical services could be accessed up here, rather than us having to go down there as seems to be the case now. That's a long drive.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Privately Run Prisons?

The issue of privatizing the operation of prisons comes up every now and again. It came to me again today on some libertarian oriented Facebook pages. I'm not sure I understan libertarian opposition to this effort, although I've gotten the impession current Humboldt LP Chair, Tammy Newcomb, is opposed to privatizataion if only from some Favvbook posts she's made.

One concern I've seen voiced is privately run prisons offer financial motivation to imprison people. That might be true. I recall reading in the news of some judge who was sent to prison for accepting a bribe from a private institution to levy a harsh sentence on e juvenile some years ago. It would be hard to convince me similar things don't happen in government run prisons. 

The motivation for keeping people in prisons likely exists in government prisions even more so than private ones. If memory serves me correct, the California Correctional Officers Union regularly opposes any sort of sentencing reform that would help reduce prison populations. 

You have to wonder why that is? Maybe because the more full our prisons are the more we'll depend on them and the more money they can demand when it's time to negotiate such things?

Governor Gary Johnson privatized prisons in New Mexico because of pressure from the courts years ago. Here's his explanation of how it came about and worked. You'll note there was some criticism of the state sending prisoners to facilities out of state during that time, but keep in mind California has done the same thing until fairly recently with its mostly government run system of prisons.

As far as I'm concerned, if it works, and is less expensive, why not do it?

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Eureka Ranks #2 As California's Most Dangerous City

This page I found on Facebook says Eureka is California's second most dangerous city. I think that refers to chances of being a victim of crime, not necessarily violence, although that might not surprise me.. 

Regardless, while I do worry about my house  being broken into while I'm gone, I still don't worry about walking down the street.

We didn't make the list of the California's top ten worst cities (another Facebook find).

Justice Scalia Dies

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died yesterday setting off the speculation about how he'll be replaced and by whom. It's a partisan issue with Eric Kirk seeming to be glad he's dead although he doesn't give specifics as to why.

I wish I'd kept track of that article from Reason magazine a few years ago where the writer made the case that labels of left or right leaning regarding SCOTUS justices don't always hold true and that they'll often rule contrary to what one might expect. Bush appointee, John(?) Roberts being one example that comes to mind when he ruled in favor of Obamacare some time ago.

So. I'm not too concerned about who ends up being the replacement, although I'm sure the partisan discussion over that speculation will take its toll on me. All I feel for sure is that replacement will gradually give more and more power to the federal government as the other justices seem to have done over time. Not something I look forward to either way.

Reason magazine has a number of articles on Justice Scalia.

Addendum: Reason magazine: Scalia's "liberal" side.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Auto Transmission Stuff

Over at Eric Peter's Autos, Eric  doesn't seem happy with the demise of manual transmissions in automobiles. Manual transmissions are becoming a thing of the past. Not me.  As far as I'm concerned it can't happen fast enough.

I used to not feel that way because I was told the manual transmission got better gas mileage. I believe that used to be true but, as Eric points out, modern computer driven auto transmissions can actually manage gears more efficiently than manuals. I know that's true with me as I'm regularly fumbling through the manual transmission in my Ford F150.

When we were car shopping earlier last year I even dismissed a small economy car I saw in the newspaper because it had a manual transmission. Had it an automatic I might have made an offer on the car without even going to see it.

One thing about automatics, though, is repair costs, which Eric alludes to. It does seem to cost more to have automatics worked on. I mentioned that to a friend years ago. He replied with, "Yeah, but how often do you have to have your transmission worked on?". Well, I told him, shit happens. You never know and it is something to consider. I'd rather pay a few hundred to have something done as opposed to thousands.

I still stand by that. Fortunately, the car we bought for the wife last year has an automatic transmission, although that was more by accident than design. I don't think I'll every buy a car with a manual transmission from now on, assuming I have the choice. 

Why folks like Eric think manual transmissions are more fun, I have no idea. Which would you prefer, an auto or manual transmission?

Friday, February 12, 2016

Pot Vs. Tobacco

Glad to finally see I'm not alone on pot and tobacco. This letter to the editor in the Times- Standard points out the conflict of marijuana advocates and tobacco prohibitioniists. I've noted for some time how strange it is how many people who support marijuana legalization are the same ones advocating, at the very least, defacto tobacco prohibition.

I got into a back and forth a while back in the comments to a Santa Rosa Press- Democrat article on this issue where I pointed this out. One pot advocate took issue and began telling me pot wasn't anywhere near as harmful as tobacco. It became almost an argument until I explained I had no problem with either pot or tobacco and we should all chooose for ourselves what we eat, drink or smoke. At that point he backed off and the discussion ended.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

County Rent Conrol Ordinance

The North Coast Journal looks this week at proposals to regulate rentals of homes in the county. Those rentals being homes people live in but rent out temporarily to folks from out of the area that might be here on vacation, or some other activity. I've read of concerns over this in the Bay Area, too.

My first reaction is dismay that a bunch of people seem upset they found an area that isn't regulated. So what? Maybe we need a lot less of regulation? Might making the county more friendly toward visitors be a good thing? It seems they're saying we get some people that want to spend some time here and we want to put the screws to them.

Second, it seems rather odd we're concerned about what are likely people with money (after all, they're well off enough to pay the rent) moving in temporarily when many of the same people are likely suggesting we put the homeless in rentals for a much longer period of time. That might seem like apples vs. oranges but it doesn't quite make sense to me The homeless thing seems more likely to cause problems.

And what's next? Will we come up with an ordinance telling us what kind of guests are allowed to visit us at our homes.. A slippery slope? Perhaps.

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Petaluma Succeeding With Homeless Solutions?

The way the Santa Rosa Press- Democrat writes it, the Sonoma County town of Petaluma has made great strides in reducing the number of homeless on its streets. Nothing new from what I can see. They just provided housing for a bunch of them, along with having a police officer assigned to dealing with the homeless which I believe Eureka already does.

Well, goody for them, but paint me a bit skeptical. The article says something about them providing housing for homeless. No mention of how that works, where they're being housed, or how their new neighbors feel about it. That's one of my main concerns.

But, good luck to them and I'll wish them more success.

Meanwhile, one of San Francisco's newest shelter seems to have been a flop, with a shelter designed for 160(?) people only getting 20. Better luck next time? The whole article showed up when I first found it. Now I'm just seeing the headline, but I believe the article said the shelter was meant for 160 people.

Mosquito Vaccinations

The Daily Sheeple looks at the recent- at least what they seem to think is- hysreria over the Zika virus and the idea to use genetically engineered mosquitoes to vaccinate people against it. Doesn't seem like too bad of an idea to me at first glance. They do make the point about ethical considerations, though, such as vaccinating without consent.

My concern about this was more along the lines of altering the food chain, but maybe I'm way off base? I was wondering if the genetic engineering might result in those mosquitos becoming dominant over other mosquitos. What if critters up the food chain didn't like to eat the GE mosquitos, thus having less food available, or something along that line?

I suppose that's not too sereious of a concern because I'm not sure we have any examples of GE products today that are deemed less edible than their non- GE counterparts. Heck, we can't tell the difference between GE corn and non- GE. Would it be any different with mosquitoes? 

Hard to say but,after thinking about it,  I'm not sure I like the idea of messing around with something like that. Once you get something like that started, there might not be any going back.

Sunday, February 07, 2016

Fullerton Writes On Homeless Solutions

Local accountant and self declared candidate for Eureka City Council, John Fullerton, has a column in the Times- Standard this morning taking issue with recent proposals to deal with the homeless in the county. He rightfully points out that there aren't enough rentals in the county to house all the homeless and, even if there were, landlords might not want to rent to them.

He made a somewhat critical comment on his Facebook page not long ago about recent proposals. I had to ask him if he had any better suggestions. He didn't, but he's looked a bit deeper into the issue than I have. He seems to be further along than many others are in looking at the issue. He's got me beat. I have no idea what the solution might be.

Friday, February 05, 2016

Money In Elections: The Other Side

Apparently 2/3 of Americans believe money buys elections, hence the big effort by The Left to do away with that Citizens United decision by the Supreme Court. This article here points out that's not quite true: 

'...the general rule is that money chases winners rather than creates winners. People give to candidates they think are likely to win, and incumbents (who almost always win) and candidates in safe districts still raise money, even if they’re not challenged. On the flip side, donors and parties don’t waste support on long-shot races.".

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

A Quick Hotel Plug

We've been down at Stanford Medical Center the last few days. I thought I'd write about the place we stayed last night.

One thing about Stanford is they're very supportive of their patients, with social workers that seem to seek you out, see how you're doing and if there is anything they can do to help. We've been dealing with one that has found Connie a place to stay for free at least a couple nights. 

We got out of there late yesterday, as is the norm, and Connie didn't want to attempt to drive north at that time. The social worker got involved and found a place not too far from the hospital. Connie mentioned something, earlier on, about a place for $150.00 a night. That's  bit much for us but, once we were in the car driving, I figured I'd just have to go along and see where we ended up.

We ended up at the Marriot Residence Inn in Menlo Park and I'll have to say I was impressed. Now I know how the other half lives. The place was immaculate, with rooms so clean you could eat off the floor. Huge bathrooms, at least the one we stayed in, with a shower probably 5'x8' with see through sides on it. 

Not only that but we saw a sign in the lobby telling they had some free meal thing starting at 7pm or so. We went down for that and got our fill- better than going to the restaurant around the corner and paying who knows how much to eat.

They also had a great free breakfast with eggs, toast and pretty much everything else you could ask for. Earlier on I wrote here how that Holiday Inn Express in Atascadero got my vote for best breakfast room I'd been to. This place steals that title. Really nice.

They also have free wifi and hard wired DSL. I had a data cable and was glad to have the hard wire option. Worked nice the first night but next morning I couldn't seem to connect so had to use wifi.

Among other perks, the kitchens all have a couple stove burners and they say they'll even fill your shopping list for you and deliver it to your room's refrigerator. Pretty impressive.

Will we stay there again? Only if Stanford pays for it as they apparently did this time. I see from their web site rates are over $300 a night. That's too much for us, but I enjoyed the one night we did stay. You folks better off than us should give it a try when you're down there.

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Nuts & Bolts of Legal Pot

The Sacramento Bee looks at the rules for legal pot should that upcoming
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