July 4, 2020

Saturday Ramblings: January 10, 2016

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Welcome to the first Saturday Ramblings of 2016.

Our Christmas wasn’t white, and the weather outside so far this winter has been anything but frightful here in the Midwest. Still, we may be displaying a bit too much optimism to put up a red convertible as our ride for the week. Ah well, even though we haven’t had a chance to suffer the least bit of cabin fever yet, I for one am ready to ramble with the wind in my face.

Today, we’ll look at some of the New Year’s resolutions for 2016 that people are making and encouraging others to make. Our interspersed memes are courtesy of, among other sites, Memes Vault.

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icon175x175John Piper’s resolution: Don’t play the lottery.

What do you wanna bet John Piper’s opposed to gambling? Last I heard, the January Powerball jackpot was over $800 million, so to help Christians avoid the temptation, Pastor John came out with a list of seven reasons why we shouldn’t even go near a convenience store this weekend:

  1. It is spiritually suicidal.
  2. It is a kind of embezzlement.
  3. It’s a fool’s errand.
  4. The system is built on the necessity of most people losing.
  5. It preys on the poor.
  6. There is a better alternative.
  7. For the sake of quick money, government is undermining the virtue without which it cannot survive.

I’m no fan of gambling either, especially when the odds are 290 million to one. But I remember a scene from the movie Chariots of Fire, when preacher Eric Liddell joked with a group of men about how much more a race could mean when you put a few bob on it. He could laugh at it a little and not always scold about it — and he was Scotch Presbyterian!

There’s a spectrum of gambling from harmless play to serious addiction. True to his Baptist perspective, Piper advocates absolute separation from the practice — “Touch not the unclean thing!”

[BTW: I’m also struck by the failure of most U.S. Christians to recognize that, in many ways, our whole capitalistic economy is built upon a form of gambling — we optimistically call it “investing.”]

At any rate, I actually agree with most of John Piper’s points about this kind of gambling.

But then there’s #1 — “spiritually suicidal”?

Funny-New-Year-Resolution-Quotes-17icon175x175Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s resolution: Amend the Constitution so we can ignore the Federal government.

The governor of Texas thinks we need a political “restorationist” movement to restore the rule of the Constitution in the U.S. Therefore, he has set forth a document called “Restoring the Rule of Law with States Leading the Way.” Here’s the problem as he sees it:

Abandoning, ignoring, and eroding the strictures of the Constitution cheapens the entire institution of law. One of the cornerstones of this country was that ours would be a Nation of laws and not of men. The Constitution is the highest such law and the font of all other laws. As long as all Americans uphold the Constitution’s authority, the document will continue to provide the ultimate defense of our liberties. But once the Constitution loses its hold on American life, we also lose confidence in the ability of law to protect us. Without the rule of law, the things we treasure can be taken away by an election, by whims of individual leaders, by impulsive social-media campaigns, or by collective apathy.

…Now it is Texas’s turn. The Texas Plan is not so much a vision to alter the Constitution as it is a call to restore the rule of our current one. The problem is that we have forgotten what our Constitution means, and with that amnesia, we also have forgotten what it means to be governed by laws instead of men. The solution is to restore the rule of law by ensuring that our government abides by the Constitution’s limits. Our courts are supposed to play that role, but today, we have judges who actively subvert the Constitution’s original design rather than uphold it. Yet even though we can no longer rely on our Nation’s leaders to enforce the Constitution that “We the People” agreed to, the Constitution provides another way forward. Acting through the States, the people can amend their Constitution to force their leaders in all three branches of government to recognize renewed limits on federal power. Without the consent of any politicians in Washington, D.C., “We the People” can reign in the federal government and restore the balance of power between the States and the United States.

His “Texas Plan” offers nine constitutional amendments to restore the rule of law:

  1. Prohibit Congress from regulating activity that occurs wholly within one State.
  2. Require Congress to balance its budget.
  3. Prohibit administrative agencies—and the unelected bureaucrats that staff them—from creating federal law.
  4. Prohibit administrative agencies—and the unelected bureaucrats that staff them—from preempting state law.
  5. Allow a two-thirds majority of the States to override a U.S. Supreme Court decision.
  6. Require a seven-justice super-majority vote for U.S. Supreme Court decisions that invalidate a democratically enacted law.
  7. Restore the balance of power between the federal and state governments by limiting the former to the powers expressly delegated to it in the Constitution.
  8. Give state officials the power to sue in federal court when federal officials overstep their bounds.
  9. Allow a two-thirds majority of the States to override a federal law or regulation.

CNN reports that Abbott, despite deep ties to Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, has yet to endorse a candidate in the GOP’s 2016 presidential primary race. However, he might now have some common cause with Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who in scattered comments over the past month and then more explicitly in a USA Today op-ed on Wednesday, also proposed a constitutional convention as a means of “reduc(ing) the size and scope of the federal government.”

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5690017b1b0000460067501aicon175x175German inventor Clemens Bimek’s resolution: Further develop my product that will let men control their sperm flow by flipping a switch.

That’s right, gentlemen. One day you will be able to avoid that painful vasectomy and instead practice birth control just like someone in the age of the Jetsons should. You’ll reach down to your scrotum before having sex, locate a little switch the size of a gummy bear that has been implanted therein, flip it, and voila! your sperm cells will be diverted away from the seminal fluid.

Thanks to the Bimek SLV, when you get turned on, you can turn the juice off.

Bimek, the inventor, is the only one to have had it implanted thus far, and he has had to do it a few times to get the design right (ok, ouch). But this year the company hopes to put the device in 25 men and bring it to market by 2018.

Just another public service from Internet Monk. [Though I’m truly sorry for the creepy GIF.]

You’re welcome.
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icon175x175Scientists make a resolution: Let praying mantises see Star Wars as it ought to be seen.

According to CBS News:

Scientists made praying mantises wear tiny 3D glasses to test if the insects have strereopsis, or 3D vision. While these insects won’t be watching the new “Star Wars” film in IMAX 3D anytime soon, proving that they do have 3D vision is significant because up until now, 3D vision had only been confirmed in vertebrates.

They tested the praying mantises…

by providing the insects images on a bright background that resembled the shape of the animal’s prey. Three-dimensional versions of the images caused the mantises to strike out at them, because it seemed like the shapes were moving toward them. Two-dimensional images did not produce this response.

“We have used our insect 3D cinema to provide clear and dramatic proof of stereopsis in insects. This technique opens up broad new avenues of research,” the scientists wrote.

Reminds you a little of Hunter S. Thompson, doesn’t he? Love to see him behind the wheel of today’s Rambler ragtop.

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Minnesota Vikings’ and their fans’ resolutions: Get that damn indoor stadium finished, please!

Tomorrow, at 1:05pm, the temperature will be about zero degrees Fahrenheit as the playoff game between the Minnesota Vikings and the Seattle Seahawks kicks off. With winds gusting up to 20 mph out of the west, wind chills will make it feel about -15.

I attended one game like that, in the old Soldier Field in Chicago. That was back when watching the Bears was itself a source of hideous torture, and I think the game ended up being one of those dreadful 6-3 affairs. We sat up in the stands above the goal posts on the Lake Michigan end of the stadium on concrete bleachers and literally froze our butts as snow blew in our faces and some game resembling football was played below us. The concession stands were out of coffee and hot chocolate by the end of the first quarter, as I remember, and there was little anyone could do to keep warm.

These days those down on the sidelines can be warmed by big heaters and the field itself is heated, so it’s somewhat tolerable for them. This will be the coldest game the guys from Seattle have ever played in, and we’ll see how they do. Definite home field advantage to the purple team.

Fans at the 1967 "Ice Bowl"

Fans at the 1967 “Ice Bowl”

The coldest game in NFL history was the famous “Ice Bowl” NFL Championship game of 1967 at Lambeau Field in Green Bay.

It was -13 degrees (wind chill -48) when the Green Bay Packers hosted the Dallas Cowboys on December 31, 1967. In that game the field’s heating system malfunctioned, removing the tarp left moisture on the field which froze immediately, and the players literally played on ice on many parts of the field. It was so cold the officials couldn’t use their whistles. One who tried at the beginning of the game got his frozen to his lips. He ripped it out of his mouth, taking a lot of skin with it. The blood froze before clotting. The marching band had to quit after warm-ups when their brass instruments likewise became frozen and a number of band members suffered hypothermia. An elderly spectator in the stands actually died from exposure during the game. The Packers won 21-17 on a famous QB sneak by Bart Starr, following a key block by Jerry Kramer.

This year’s game in Minneapolis will be played at TCF Bank Stadium, home to the University of Minnesota’s football team. The Vikings’ new indoor stadium is still under construction.

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icon175x175Chaplain Mike’s resolution: Ride this baby as many times as possible!

“This baby” is the new ride that will debut at Cedar Point amusement park in Sandusky, Ohio this year — Valravn, the world’s tallest, fastest and longest dive coaster. Here’s the description:

Riders on Valravn are carried more than 20 stories up to the top of the coaster’s 223-foot-tall first hill. Once there, the train is held perilously over the edge of the first drop for approximately four seconds, giving anxious guests unparalleled views of the park before free-falling a record 214 feet at a completely vertical, 90-degree angle, reaching a top speed of 75 mph.

Valravn then flips its passengers upside-down through a 165-foot-tall Immelmann, a fighter jet-like maneuver that takes the train into a half loop, then a half roll before traveling in the opposite direction. The train then approaches another drop zone, but there’s no stopping this time as riders plunge 125 feet down at a near-90-degree angle once again, twisting and turning upside-down two more times, once through a dive loop and then through a 270-degree roll before completing its epic journey over 3,415 feet of tarnished copper and silver steel track.

Who’s with me?

icon175x175Finally, this week in music history

On January 8, 1935, eighty-one years ago, a king was born when Elvis Aaron Presley arrived in Tupelo, Mississippi. Twenty-two years later, he made his third and final appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show, performing seven songs, shown only from the waist up by the camera.

Two years ago this week, Phil Everly died at age 74, and last year, gospel singer Andrae Crouch died at age 72.

When 1968 dawned, it was also an election year. At the outset of the year, influential San Francisco radio station KMPX asked listeners to select their choices for the upcoming campaign. They chose Bob Dylan for President, Paul Butterfield as Vice-President, and George Harrison ambassador to the UN. I’m not sure some of this year’s choices aren’t just as silly.

Today’s video goes to Elvis singing “Don’t Be Cruel” from that ’67 Sullivan show.

Comments

  1. One day you will be able to avoid that painful vasectomy

    And installing this thing will be painless?

  2. I’m also struck by the failure of most U.S. Christians to recognize that, in many ways, our whole capitalistic economy is built upon a form of gambling — we optimistically call it “investing.”

    I personally like how World Magazine has had Pat Boone hawking options trading in full pages ads for years. Not sure if they still do but investing in stocks is trivial compared to inviting amateurs to trade options.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      In Options and Commodities, even those who’ve been doing it for years can still get blindsided.

      Amateurs (or 401Ks) might as well put it in the slots in Vegas.

      Many years ago, I had a co-worker whose cousin was a commodities trader. Co-worker told tales of his cousin buying a Beemer one month and having to hide it from the repo men the next month. Quoted his cousin as saying “If I wasn’t a commodities trader, I’d be a professional gambler.” To him, no difference.

      But having Pat Boone hawk it makes it CHRISTIAN(TM).

      Like Jim Bakker hawking buckets of rice & beans for The Great Tribulation.

      • We have a 100 or so Jim Baker / End Times Christian MRE’s (bags of powered protein flavor) from my mother’s estate. Anyone want to make an offer? 🙂

  3. Indoor football stadiums in the upper Midwest? Demanding HEAT sources for winter games?

    Wiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiimp. 😛

    • Adam Tauno Williams says

      Ditto. These are athletes – indoor sports are for sissies.

    • The cities keep building these expensive stadiums for professional sports, even though they provide no economic benefit to the cities; the opposite, actually. Such is the American worship of professional spectator sports, especially football. The balance sheets don’t matter to the gods, or their priests and devotees.

      • This is true. Every shred of research indicates the same thing – stadiums are a net loss to the economy.

        • Then explain it to me, Dr. Why do they continue to throw money down a black hole? Prestige?

          • Because it profits the people who want them built. And they hire good PR firms to sell it.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          According to morning drive-time, we’re getting TWO brand-new NFL stadiums in Los Angeles. (And the NFL teams won’t need to spend a penny.) Never mind we have several Olympic-grade stadiums in the county already. Not good enough for The Team Inc.

          And each stadium comes with over a square mile of parking lot around it.

          MORE BREAD! MORE CIRCUSES! AVE CAESAR!

    • Meanwhile, the Green Bay Packers will visit the Washington Redskins on what is forecast to be an unusually mild winter day by mid-Atlantic standards, with afternoon highs predicted to be near 60. The weather will turn sharply colder on Monday, but by then the fans will be returning to work.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      Don’t forget all those fans sitting in the subzero wind chill in Speedos and nothing else to show off their Team Colors body paint.

  4. Whoops! Looks like I’ve committed spiritual suicide! Things might get awkward at church tomorrow. Might have to add a post-mortem part to the day’s liturgy.

    • Brianthedad says

      What’s the old story about the bootlegger who decided to donate a large sum to the church? The parson was being lectured by his deacons that it was dirty money, that it was the devil’s largesse. The parson declared that it had been the devil’s long enough. Time for the church to see what it could do with it!

  5. Clay Crouch says

    Wise men say, “January 8th, 1935, was eighty-one years ago.” Thank you, thank you very much.

  6. Somebody ask Gov. Abbott if he supported Jim Crow. And while you’re at it find out if he supports disbanding our professional military and going back to regulated state militias for defense as the 2nd amendment intended?

    • senecagriggs says

      Gov Abbot was 7 years of age when the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed. I’m pretty sure, at age 7, he wasn’t a supporter of the Jim Crow laws.

    • More importantly, can we move all of those lucrative federal military bases out of Texas to states that actually want to work with the Federal government? Can we stop paying Texas federal relief money, as their politicians want to impose on every other state beside themselves? Take away everything from them and see how long before they are annexed by Mexico. That would be hilarious poetic justice.

    • Abbott’s first suggestion would be worth considering IF it were undergirded by a much stronger Bill of Rights than we have now.

      If there were an adequate statement of inviolable rights for every living thing, every living human being, and every American citizen, then Jim Crow and other truly reprehensible practices would be ruled out.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      The Texas Solution is just the latest incarnation of States’ Rights.

      Might actually have had some traction outside the Former Confederate States if the past two incarnations weren’t both about White Supremacy (Slavery and Jim Crow).

  7. I don’t gamble. I’ve tried it, but didn’t like, realized I can’t afford it, and so don’t. A dollar and an illusion.

    Investment and gambling are fundamentally two different things. No society can thrive without many people investing their resources in the projects of others. Yes, some investment schemes are almost indistinguishable from
    gambling; that doesn’t mean that gambling is a form of investment.

    Gambling, at best, is substantially a form of entertainment. The problem is that the entertainment experience, the excitement, is in the prospect of having the resources of other people transferred to you, without any product of value mediating that transfer, and without you earning anything. Ideally, everybody else loses, and you are the sole winner. Unlike investing, you are not involved cooperatively in a project intended to produce something of value, worth purchasing; you’re not taking a risk that involves benefit to many, but betting against everyone else.

    Of course, for many, this produces a heroin-like dependency. It’s unfortunate that so many states have become dependent on revenue from gambling, and are falling all over each other to find ways to attract the limited number of dollars spent. Maybe they should start selling heroin instead, or opening up bordellos. Why not?

    • Randy Thompson says

      I think you make a good distinction here between investment and gambling. However, unless you know what you’re doing and unless you have good information and good analytical skills, I don’t see all that much difference between the two, at least not as much difference than there should be. Many (most?) people don’t know what they’re doing when it comes to investment and financial management. Case in point: My 110 shares in a Canadian gold exploration company that have gone nowhere, at best, for 10 years. Had I tried blackjack, I might have done just as well. . .

      And, then there’s the true story (for the most part) told by “The Big Short.” (An excellent movie, by the way.) It may well be that the old saying about sausages is true of investment devices: You don’t want to know too much about what’s in them (though you should).

      • Most of us don’t know what we’re doing when we invest in the stock market or other things. That increases its risk, and means we may be investing in products that conflict with the ethics we claim to hold, but it doesn’t turn it into gambling. Both gambling and investment involve risk; that doesn’t mean they are the same thing. Gambling is not a form of investment.

        Of course, investment has metastasized into some very high risk, “creative” forms that result, for some people, in the kind of of excitement, and entertainment, that gambling involves. Many people play the stock market the way they would play the slot machines or the roulette wheel. Walking onto the floor on Wall Street and walking into a large gambling casino provide a similar experience: hundreds, thousands of people making bells ring, like pigeons in a behavioral modification experiment.

        But investment is still not the same as gambling, though both involve risk. Investment is necessary to society’s well-being; gambling is one form of entertainment, among many.

      • The gambling industry produces nothing, except the experience of gambling, and at a very high price.

        • There are also distinctions in gambling. I know plenty of people who budget for it as their entertainment. Spend $200 playing games at a casino, or spend $200 going to a football game, they see no difference. And since they enjoy it and know their limits, win occasionally and like the atmosphere, I’m okay with it. That’s not to say it doesn’t have more risks for temptation and overspending than other forms of entertainment — in this it falls into the same category as alcohol consumption or any other potentially addictive and self-destructive behavior.

          That’s why I mostly agree with Piper’s assessment, but I think, like most overly scrupulous religious folks, he needs to lighten up a little bit. However preachers like him live on warning about the slippery slope.

          As for investing, I was merely making the point that both gambling and many forms of investing involve “betting” on an unpredictable outcome. Of course, most investing is far safer and inherently more positive and productive than most forms of gambling. But it still involves putting my money on ventures that carry risk, and some forms of it are virtually indistinguishable from “taking a gamble.” The recent economic collapse is a testament to the perils of poorly regulated investment. And, I would add, many are into investing for the thrill and entertainment of it, the rush of taking a chance and seeing your bet come through.

          • I acknowledged all that you say in my comments. But I think it’s important to avoid confusing the underlying principle of investment with gambling. The presence of more or less risk does not turn an endeavor into gambling.

            I also think that the growing relationship of the states governments to the gambling industry is very unhealthy; I would describe the states as “addicted” to gambling revenues, and desperate for them, in a way similar to a junkie’s addiction to and desperation for heroin.

        • There is a local casino here that comps you a free buffet if you stay for at least 2 hours. The buffet price is $20, but I would value it at $15 or so for the average quality food. So the two of us took $20 each to play the penny and nickel slots, and after 2 hours I think were down maybe $7 total. And then we ate our “free” dinners.

      • I think we need to make distinctions between three things:
        1) Traditional investing tools – these are means of exercising capital that have a long track record. The simplest would be starting a business.
        2) New investing tools – these are ostensible means of exercising capital that don’t have a long track record. These can easily be scams, Wall Street trying to fleece people of their money, etc. This is what The Big Short is about (see also Enron, etc.)
        3) Misusing tools. Anyone can misuse a tool or use it for the wrong reason. The good news is that there are a great many firms dedicated to helping people plan for and invest in their retirement. This is by no means limited to paper capital – a person could speculatively start selling air out of their basement. For that matter, one could attempt brain surgery with an electric drill. That doesn’t make it a good idea, nor does it make electric drills somehow suspect.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        However, unless you know what you’re doing and unless you have good information and good analytical skills, I don’t see all that much difference between the two, at least not as much difference than there should be. Many (most?) people don’t know what they’re doing when it comes to investment and financial management.
        Especially since 401Ks make Retirement Investment ALL YOUR RESPONSIBILITY. Try to get advice from the guy selling you the 401K and he says he cannot advise you on investments due to Federal Regulations. So it’s either quit your job to become a full-time Financial/Investment Expert or break out the roll of the dice or pay for a fortuneteller/palm reader. After all, IT’S YOUR RESPONSIBILITY(TM).

  8. Dave Denis says

    I don’t know how to pronounce it but sure, I’ll take that ride.

  9. It is spiritually suicidal.

    No. But gambling is self-destructively addictive for a large numbers of people, and many of them are either poor, or will be made so through this addiction. I had an uncle who worked his way up into the middle-class by driving trucks, and then lost everything to his gambling habit, died residing in a one-night hotel dump. His wife, my aunt, had exerted controls over his gambling crises while she was alive, hiding money from him, telling friends and family not to loan him any money, but she died before him. He outlived her by a decade or so, in penury.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      My parents retired to a Nevada border town. They like Vegas but discovered the hard way that living in a casino town on Social Security is nothing like visiting one with $$$$$.

      Casinos function as Money Siphons to the surrounding area. No motels when the casino has first-class hotel rooms for the price of a Motel 6. No restaurants when the casinos have all-you-can-eat buffets 24/7. No legal recourse for screwed-over employees when the casinos make 99% of the local “Campaign Donations”.

      My father was never able to make extra side money with his considerable skills because the most he could get for them was maybe 50 cents. Anyone who had two coins to rub together went to the casinos and dropped coin pulled lever drop coin pull lever drop coin pull lever.

      That said, I am in favor of “quarantining” casinos in specialized casino towns like Las Vegas, way out in the desert where it takes some effort and expense to get there, i.e. you can’t hit the casino trivially or on impulse, you have to plan ahead. That limits the money siphon effect to the casino town itself. However, the boom in Indian Casinos (which are moving closer and closer to prime urban areas) and the City Fathers’ idea that “We’ll legalize casinos! SLOTS WILL SOLVE ALL OUR MONEY PROBLEMS!” are removing that quarantine and putting drop coin/pull lever as close as going to the supermarket. This can’t be good, but those who have any power to regulate it are all personally benefiting from it. “MORE SLOTS! SLOTS WILL SOLVE EVERTHING! WITH SLOTS WE’LL HAVE FREE ICE CREAM FOR EVERYBODY! GET LUCKY AND GET RICH!”

  10. I’m not sure I agree with all of Gov. Abbott’s proposed constitutional amendments, but I agree that the federal government has become too big, too powerful and too intrusive in people’s daily lives. There are far too many members of Congress, in both parties, who are far more concerned with getting re-elected and enriching themselves than doing what’s best for the American people. And I don’t believe it’s the Supreme Court’s place to settle divisive social issues and forcibly impose a one-size-fits-all solution on the rest of the country.

    One thing for sure: calls for constitutional amendments from leaders like Gov. Abbott, along with the popularity of unconventional presidential candidates like Donald Trump, suggest 2016 will be an interesting political year. And I, for one, welcome the discussion. Though I also hope the presidential candidates will place more focus on our faltering economy as the current recovery, if it can be called a recovery, is the weakest we’ve had in many years.

    • Can you give examples of how the federal government is too intrusive? I’m just curious where different people think that line is. What kinds of laws do you think are over the line? I am not looking to stir up anything. I am genuinely curious.

      • I’ll give you three examples for now. Most modern toilets use 1.8 gallons of water per flush in order to comply with federal regulations, and my landlord had them installed during the last renovation. Except I frequently have to flush twice in order to get the job done; so much for the government’s water conservation goal.

        Try finding an incandescent light bulb above a certain wattage these days thanks to a federal law enacted during the second Bush administration. Sure, CFL bulbs may use less energy but they can trigger migraines in those who are light-sensitive, including one of my neighbors. Also, one can’t toss a CFL bulb in the household trash when they burn out due to hazardous chemicals in the bulbs.

        Lastly, how much did your health insurance premium and deductible increase this year? My base premium went up about 30%, though I paid even more this month thanks to a glitch at the federal exchange’s web site. (I’m trying to get that fixed, but it may take a while.) My deductible increased 50%. “Affordable Care Act?” Yeah, right.

        • Technology improves. It’s good the government, or someone at least, is forcing people and organizations to adapt. Riding things into the ground is rarely good. The longer you wait, the more expensive it will be.

          LEDs are awesome. As are those new chips in credit cards. And digital TV. And fiber optic cable. And Windows 10.

          But people would rather save a buck and complain about the government and wait and wait and wait and wait then growing up and stepping up and upgrading. Keep the fear mongering hate lies alive.

        • But I am guessing that the few times you have to flush twice still means less water is used than the old style toilets (& I know how it is. We have those low flow toilets, too) Without government regulations, though, our air would look like Beijing’s, National & State parks likely wouldn’t exist, and our food would be a lot less safe. I agree that some regulations can be silly, but most come from somewhere. (Think smoke alarm regulations in schools which stemmed from the Queen of Angels school fire) They aren’t all bad.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says

            A lot of the resentment is what’s effectively Party Commissars acting like Church Ladies, scolding the unwashed rabble with wagging fingers in the Name of Social Justice or The PLAAAAANET!

            Seattle even has Government Inspectors going through people’s trash cans and punishing with heavy fines anyone who doesn’t Recycle enough (including composting kitchen garbage). For The PLAAAAAANET!

            But the Government Bureaucrats get their Job Security, Free Medical Care for Life, and Fat Pensions; and the Activists get to preen and Parade their Moral Superiority over all the rest of us, wagging-finger lectures and all. (Cue Church Lady Superiority Dance without that pesky God stuff…)

        • My insurance is provided through my employer. My deductible went up nearly 200% this year. Why?

          Well, my employer does not pay well, but they have traditionally provided a good health insurance plan, with low premiums, deductibles and maximum out-of-pockets. Unfortunately, under the ACA, this plan is now considered “Cadillac”, and the insurer was required to increase costs to the insured. So now, my company doesn’t pay well, and I have an expensive health care plan that I can neither afford, nor afford not to have due to my wife’s and my own health issues.

          I’m in favor of nationalized health care. Perhaps someday we’ll get there; in the meantime we are going through health insurance hell.

          • Medical costs keep going up. We (the public) keep demanding any and all treatments. It’s a license to print money for those developing new treatments. As long as (in the US) limiting treatments based on costs is a 3rd rail, costs will keep going up.

          • From what I’ve read in the papers, there are a growing number of people who are opting out of getting regular medical care, including surgeries and prescription medications, because they can’t afford to pay the high deductible the plans now require. They are only keeping their insurance for use in the event of catastrophic illness or injury. Is this progress? Are these the kinds of cutbacks in costs that the ACA intended?

          • I’m going to pay the deductible by putting it on my credit card, where it will join several thousand other dollars of debt that I can’t afford to pay. That way my wife can have the surgery that is necessary to prolong her life, along with the prescription medications she needs. If I were alone, and didn’t need to make sure her needs are cared for, I’d forego seeing the doctor and filling my own prescriptions. That would be my way of helping the ACA meet its cost-saving goals.

          • Unfortunately, under the ACA, this plan is now considered “Cadillac”, and the insurer was required to increase costs to the insured.
            This is NOT accurate. There are no provisions in PPACA which mandate premium costs.

          • Well, the increases are in the form of increased deductible and increased co-payments. Are there provisions in the PPACA for increases to deductibles that are deemed “too low” under the new law? If not, then my employer has lied to me.

          • Are these the kinds of cutbacks in costs that the ACA intended?

            No matter what the PR, happy talk, title of the bill, whatever…

            The real intent of the ACA was to expand coverage to more people who at the time did not have health care coverage in some form. And this expansion was to be paid for with various cost savings that were supposed to be implemented in future years. We are now a major way into these future years. And the savings have not been implements (cutbacks in Medicare and such) or magically materialized.

            The end result is that those who had health care provided via a plan, well, the cost of such plans have gone up to cover more people who are not paying the full (or any) costs and to deal with things like no denial of coverage for pre-existing conditions.

            In short the ACA is the biggest step to a single payer system that the Congress and O could get passed at the time.

            And the side effects will hit some folks harder than others. If you are near the middle of the income spectrum or a bit below it you very likely will get hit with more costs. If you are at the upper end of the income ranges you can afford the changes. Or at the lower end you can get care for free or almost free that you didn’t have before. (But NO one pushing the ACA wanted to talk about this at the time or even now.)

            In my personal summary, health care in the US needed/needs a lot of fixes. It could not continue the way it was. It was headed for a big train wreak. The ACA just pushed us closer to that wreak. And just maybe people will start to understand that you can’t have unlimited health care for limited costs.

          • It seems to me that health care cost increases associated with the ACA are helping to push me and my wife down and out of the lower-middle class. I don’t know if increases in costs are written into the law or not, aside from what I’ve been told, but they seem in one way or another to be causally related to the law. I cannot be happy about any this, nor can I look on the law as a beneficial development for myself and my wife. It’s having a negative effect on us, and will have a negative effect on our ability to maintain financial solvency and personal health.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says

            Funny… I’m not getting any Hot Investment Tips for Medical Insurance companies.

            You know the kind — the Spam about “GREAT INVESTMENT OPPORTUNITY! THE MONEY WILL COME IN IN BUCKETS! INVEST NOW OR BE LEFT BEHIND FOREVER!”

            ALWAYS for those industries where I hear horror stories about people falling into the Hurry-Up-And-Die-And-Reduce-the-Surplus-Population cracks and nobody being able to afford vital services.

        • Your landlord bought crappy toilets. Pun intended. When we got rid of our old (likely 1961) 4 gallon units it was due to Lowes having a clearance sale on a couple that were marked down from $300 to $75. They work great and flush better than the old style ones. This was over 10 years ago. Today most any name brand toilet should be better than the old ones. And for well under $200.

          Regarding toilets and LED lights, we, the US, were running out of water and our power needs were rising very quickly.

          The extra power was generating pollution. Big time. Clean coal is only clean compared to the past. If you work the numbers you will find that the power companies can subsidize CFL and LEF lights for the same cost as building a new power plant. So many states go that route. At most of my local stores CFL and LEF 40 to 100 watt equivalent lights are discounted by instant rebates from the local power company.

          And yes early versions of these things tended to be, lets say, rough around the edges. But now both are in great shape. If you can’t find an LED that matches the light “color/temp” you want you aren’t trying. I bought 38 of the Lowes LED 60 watt equivalents on Black Friday.

          Don’t think I’m a tree hugging earth firster. I’m no where close. But I do feel both of these topics actually reduce our needs for government in many other ways. National defense spending being one of them.

          • Exactly. And it’s the same with ObamaCare from all I’ve heard. If states do it poorly, drag their heels, guess what the results are?

            Rocket science, of course. Same with toilets and LEDs and so much.

          • Richard Hershberger says

            “And yes early versions of these things tended to be, lets say, rough around the edges.”

            Complaining about light bulbs is behind the times. Yes, the early CFLs lacked. But modern bulbs rock. Complaining about light bulbs today shows a greater devotion to complaining than to getting on in the real world.

  11. If I could wish for only one grammar improvement it would be the use of the terms with forms the word “regard” – misuse of these are rampant, even among journalists who ostensibly have been taught to write. So I will indulge my grammar geek crotchetiness among my I-Monk friends and remind them (no one in particular) of the correct forms, so at least our writing is clearer:

    regarding such and such;
    as regards such and such;
    with regard to such and such (no “s” – “with regards to” means you are sending best wishes).

    Thank you very much.

    Dana

    • Last example should be “in/with regard to such and such” – even grammar geeks forget things.

      D.

    • My personal itch is “less/fewer”.

      • Yup, that too. It’s not that difficult to figure out.

        D.

      • That Other Jean says

        Yes. This. Less sugar (bulk substance); fewer cups (things you can count individually) should make it easy to decide which to use, but way too many people get it wrong.

        • Richard Hershberger says

          This is, and always has been, a fake rule. It was invented in the late 18th century, where it was expressed as one author’s esthetic preference, and picked up by later usage writers as an absolute rule. It has never reflected actual usage.

    • “Impact” is not a verb. That’s one of mine.

      • Richard Hershberger says

        ““Impact” is not a verb.”

        This is factually incorrect. The earliest English attestation of “impact” is from 1601, and is as a verb. The use as a noun came later. The nominal sense became more common, leading to the erroneous belief that it is the older, and the verbal sense derived from it.

        Not that this really matters. English is very free about switching words between parts of speech. Open a dictionary to any random page and you will find any number of examples of words being used as both nouns and verbs.

      • Impact is a verb. You can tell because people use it as a verb. That is just how language works. If people use something as a verb, then it is a verb. If people do not use it as a verb, then it isn’t a verb.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        English has a LONG history of converting nouns to verbs.

        In Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure, there’s a line of the Duke where he sneaks back into his city-state incognito to see how is deputy (in charge) is “Duke-ing”.

  12. The stock market isn’t gambling as much as it is a rigged system where insiders never lose and can even invest in derivatives based on forecasts that their own system will fail. Wall Street owns both major political parties; therefore, nothing changes.

  13. Spelling is challenging with mobile technology, where keyboards are too small for precise typing, screens are too small to see what has been typed, and zealous automatic spell checkers are certain they know what you are typing better than you do. But I am constantly amazed how common spelling errors are on even major journalistic websites.

  14. — and he was Scotch Presbyterian!
    I very, very much doubt that. Now a Scottish Presbyterian I could believe.

    Dear Greg Abbott:
    1) That was already settled some time ago. It was called the Civil War.
    2) Even during times of duress, war, or terrorism?
    3) So instead of experts appointed by elected officials making decisions, you want elected officials making these decisions? So every four years the EPA and FDA will pass regulations designed to help out a political party? That sounds safe.
    4) See #1 and #3.
    5) They already can. It’s called passing laws. And given the abject failure of the legislative branch to pass any meaningful laws, why would you expect this to work any differently?
    6) This shows such an ignorance of how laws (and SCOTUS) work, that I just won’t even bother.
    7) I don’t disagree, but…good luck (best enjoyed if spoken in Morgan Freeman’s voice).
    8) According to whom?
    9) So you don’t understand the concerns that led to a bicameral legislature and electoral college, eh?

    Dear John Piper:
    So what do you think of Clemens Bivek?

    • Richard Hershberger says

      ‘— and he was Scotch Presbyterian!’
      “I very, very much doubt that. Now a Scottish Presbyterian I could believe.”

      “Scotch” was the normal word in such constructions through the 18th and 19th centuries. The preference for “Scottish” arose in 20th century Scotland, and spread to the English except when being deliberately rude. The vast majority of Scottish immigration to America came before the linguistic shift occurred, and “Scotch” remained the standard American usage. Even the guys who put on kilts and eat haggis on Robert Burns’s birthday didn’t know they were supposed to be offended by it. This sense of affliction has only recently, and incompletely, worked its way into American English.

    • The fact Gov. Abbot had to include #5 indicates he’s forgotten about the Constitutional amendment process. If the states really, truly want a Supreme Court ruling overturned, they can get an amendment passed, same as always.

  15. Go Pack Go

    Go Gophers!!

  16. The older I get, the more experience in the workforce, the more I want a bigger government.

    Government needs to protect man from business. Seen too many people screwed over and too many evil people walk away free. This executive going to jail for knowingly and deliberately releasing tainted peanut butter THAT KILLED people is a good thing. We need more of this. He committed man slaughter, effectively, in order to profit.

    There’s a fine line that needs to be met and maintained, but we the people need protection from our kings and masters and priests. Checks and balances are a good thing for everyone.

    • Growing up in the latter quarter of the 20th century, my base assumption was that Big Government was the enemy. From the casualty lists from WWII, the Gulag, Cultural Revolution, the Killing Fields, etc, I thought that was the correct lesson from history.

      The economic and political developments of the past eight years have done much to correct my assumptions. Big Business is the present biggest threat.

    • Unfortunately, it seems like many in the government are in the pocket of Big Business.

      I don’t expect salvation to come from the government; I think we will just have to keep our heads down, pray and do our best no matter who wins the election. I am still going to have to cross my fingers behind my back when I vote in the general, no matter who wins the primary; no candidate totally aligns with what I believe, and It’s extremely tough to survive in Washington without giving in to corruption on some level. (Ban lobbying – or at least close the friggin’ revolving door!) As my husband said 4 years ago – as he crossed his fingers behind his back – we ain’t votin’ for the Pope here.

      Dana

  17. I remember when gambling was legalized in NJ a few decades ago, and the casinos were built in Atlantic City. I remember the promises of how the revenue from gambling would revive AC, heal the blighted city, and fix rampant unemployment and poverty. Lies, damned lies.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      But the City Fathers of Atlantic City got very, very rich.
      Rich as the Casino Owners, for some unknown reason.

      “What do you mean, ‘The System doesn’t work’?
      IT WORKS JUST FINE FOR ME!”

  18. Apropos of nothing: David Bowie, at his finest:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=riW9d_ydlEY

    • Hearing of Mr. Bowie’s demise this morning made me kind of sad, and definitely feeling older.

      • Yes, it saddened me, too, and left me feeling my age.

        RIP, David Bowie. May God’s love be with you.

  19. Little orange cat
    peers out from beneath parked cars,
    lonelier than night

  20. ccjjharmon says

    Can’t recall riding that Valravn last time we went to Cedar Point… but I personally think the Intimidator at Kings Dominion (out in Virginia) is a little nicer… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0WpNSImh6Z8