A Classic Scam

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There is an old scam that is useful to look at because it’s illustrative of a way in which people can easily be fooled.

The scam works like this.  You get a message telling you that a particular stock is going to go up over the next week (or, perhaps, that a particular sports team will win), or the message might say that the stock will go down (or the other team will win). You don’t think much of it, but at the end of the week you notice that the stock has gone up (or down) exactly as the message said.

The next week you get another message of the same nature, predicting a particular stock to go up/down (or sports team…well, you get the idea).  And again, sure enough… The following week the same.  And then the week after.

Finally, after a number of weeks with every single prediction correct, you get a message saying that now that they’ve established that they can reliably predict these things for just the low, low, low price of (some value) they’ll tell you how to do it.  You’re very excited about the idea of being able to safely invest (or “gamble” in the case of the sports teams) and make lots of money with very little effort.  So you send in the money and…never hear from them again.

Many of you, cued in by the image at the top there, have likely already figured out how this scam works.  The scammer starts by sending out a large number of messages.  In half of them they say the stock will go up (or team A will win).  In the other half, they say that the stock will go down (team B win).  Then, whatever happens, they’ve got a large number of people, half of those they sent to, where what they predicted is what happened.  To those people, and only those people, they send the next message.  Again, half of them get the “stock will go up” and half “stock will go down.”  And the week after, they send messages to the ones where they were right twice in a row.

Each time, only half the people get messages, but since they started with a large number they still have plenty.  After a number of repeats where people, not seeing all the “wrong” predictions, have gotten a perfect record of correct predictions, come to believe that the person making the predictions has some secret knowledge and are willing to pay to get it.  Only there is no secret knowledge.  There’s just a limited number of possible outcomes, and filtering out from large numbers of “samples” only those that fit the outcome they want.

This is a rather simplistic illustration of a general principle by which people are prone to fooling others, or even themselves.  When a politician lists a bunch of good things that happens under his authority, or a bunch of bad things that happened under an opponent, it’s easy to portray those things as happening because of the politician’s policies.

The world, however, is a complicated place.  There are always “good things” happening and there are always “bad things” happening.  You can make even the most disastrous policies look good by simply listing the “good things” and ignoring the “bad things.” Conversely, you can make the best policies look bad by doing the reverse.

You have to look deeper than “these things happened, therefore…”.  This often requires a level of understanding that most people do not have.  This is no criticism of those people.  As I said, the world is a complicated place, no one has sufficient understanding of enough varied fields along with access to sufficiently comprehensive data to fully understand it.  Indeed, that’s one of my main criticisms of any attempt at centrally planned economies.  But one needs to be aware of the problem and skeptical of arguments that simply list good/bad things that happened and then simply declare it was because of this or that policy.

You should always ask yourself, and check, whether the “facts” being claimed are true, but you need to go beyond that.  You need to look for whether the facts actually have a causal connection to the claims being made, and still further to whether there are additional facts that might counter the claims.

The real world is complicated and simple answers are rarely correct and almost never complete.

Buckle Up, It’s Going to get Bumpy.

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There was this pic on the Book of Faces.  I originally thought to write just a short bit of snark on it but instead it turned into a rant.

The snark:  Then they won’t be providing cover for the bad ones.

The problem is that police departments are bureaucratic organizations. And like all bureaucratic organizations the “Iron Law” applies. In this case, it’s fully developed. Those “dedicated to the organization itself” (as opposed to those “dedicated to the goals of the organization”) are fully in charge.

I’m not even saying it’s a majority of law enforcement officers, just “the ones driving the bus.”

A serious housecleaning is necessary. I would prefer it happen from within. It’s better for them, better for us, and likely to have a whole lot less collateral damage. But years of promises and no actual cleaning makes me skeptical of “this time for sure.” So at this point I have grave doubts that it can come from within. And, indeed, the Iron Law would seem to imply that the change cannot come from within.

That leaves political fixes “from above”. But political requires that it become an issue for the politicians. And for it to become an issue for the politicians, it has to be something that’s politically profitable for them. And for that to happen there has to be a climate of opinion making this issue important enough that it will affect who people vote for.

And that means people need to be both aware of and outraged over police abuses, real police abuses not the drummed up stuff we sometimes see.

You see, I’ve noticed a disturbing trend with the big protests, fomented by BLM and like groups: they only seem to raise a ruckus when the supposed “abuse” (shooting of Michael Brown as one example) is entirely justified (assault a police officer, attempt to steal his weapon, and charge at him once he has weapon drawn and you’re only a victim of your own stupidity), or where the system was working (the officer who killed George Floyd was immediately fired and, after a brief period for investigation arrested).

When the cases are actual abuse? Crickets. At best they’ll be mentioned as an aside in the midst of people protesting legitimate exercise of law enforcement authority.

This portrayal of legitimate law enforcement authority does nothing to help curb abuses of police power. If anything it undercuts attempts by making all objections seem every bit as misapplied.

And this happens again and again and again. There’s a saying “once is chance, twice is coincidence, three times is enemy action.” Well we’re well into “enemy action” on this. And one has to wonder why, what’s the gain.

I could speculate, get well into “conspiracy theory” territory. The same folk who are behind these protests are also among those who, as just one example, want to ban private firearm ownership. And enforcing a general ban on firearms, particularly in the wake of the massive non-compliance for things like magazine size restrictions and bump stock bans, would require severe police abuse. Undermine the credibility of accusations of abuse and it becomes much easier to carry it out.

Mind you, I don’t believe it’s anything as straightforward as that. Indeed, I’m not sure that the folk organizing this have anything as specific as a plan. It could also simply be a matter of undermining police authority in general, or hamstringing the police, so as to give certain groups a much freer hand in ignoring/violating the law as they pursue their various ends.

In any case, buckle up. It’s going to get bumpy.

If you could…

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A friend of mine, posting this, was decidedly “red pill” on the grounds that it would truly suck to be a 10 year old with all that knowledge that you couldn’t do anything about.  Now, with the red, do I go back to the time that I was 45, or just drop my age to 45 now? Because there’s a bunch of stuff I could do if it’s the former.  Fifteen years of foreknowledge can provide a lot of leverage.

If I were to go back to when I was 10, yeah, it would suck. There’s be a lot of hair pulling “No, no, no!” as I watch things unfolding knowing how they were going to play out.  Then again, first time through sucked pretty badly too.  There are a lot of things that would suck a lot less than it did the first time around. (The folk bullying me back then might be in for a big surprise to encounter Judo-brown-belt me.) I would essentially nail my classes. There wouldn’t be a lot I could do regarding my mother’s abuse at her then-husband’s hands (or maybe there would…I’d have to see the situation with fresh eyes. Accidents, after all, do happen.  And given some of the stuff I was later to learn…)

High school would be much better. I, frankly, wouldn’t be much interested in the girls there. I mean, I visited the school something like 30 years ago and even then the students seemed such children. (Well, they were.) But then again, that’s no downside from first time through. It’s not like I had much (i.e. any) success with the girls first time through. I would, however, make some different choices when it comes to classes and, I think, I would have come out way ahead. There’s no reason I wouldn’t be valedictorian this time around. I could have been back then but lacked the discipline to do things like homework when it was boring (and most of my classes were). Six years in the military took care of that–doing boring tasks just because they need to be done at someone else’s direction? BTDT. So with top grades and top SAT and ACT scores (I got good scores on both of those first time around; no reason I couldn’t do it again) I should be better positioned for college and know better than to only apply to one school where my local clergyman had veto power over it. (That was a bad, bad mistake that time around.)

Come the 80’s I’d know better than to listen to that guy who took me aside and “explained”: “if you want to be attractive to women, you’ve got to wear bright clothes.” First time around, well, being unreservedly heterosexual with a very healthy set of hormones thank you very much, this was a very telling argument. Problem was it didn’t work and I ended up spending literally decades vaguely uncomfortable in my own skin and not knowing why. I could instead, accept my then nascent “inner goth” and concentrated instead on finding my “tribe” and people who could accept who I was rather than turning me into something I wasn’t.

Probably would have done college right out of high school instead of a good decade later. And, you know, I would have been well placed to jump in right at the beginning of the development of Atomic Force Microscopy. Come to think of it, it’s not impossible that I could actually invent it while still in high school. Get a jump of a year or two on that technology. (What a science fair project that would make.)

Coming out of college, I would be well positioned to jump on a number of things that I knew would become big. Stay low key, just make some “smart investments.” In the end, by the time I hit 45, I’m pretty sure I’d have a lot more than $50 million in investments. A lot_ more. For that matter, that Elon guy would probably be trying to play catch up with his piddling little SpaceX company.

There’s only one problem. In that alternate reality I would almost certainly never have met she who I would marry. And while that relationship turned out badly my daughter, Athena, my wonderful, wonderful daughter, would never exist.

I’ll take the roll back to 45 and $50 million, please.

I Really Needed those Ice Follies.

After all the shutdown stuff, I was in desperate need to get out and do something when the rink finally opened and I was able to get back not just into public skate but into classes.

I’d lost some ability with the enforced layoff.  My backward edges were weaker than they had been and, frankly, I wasn’t about to try backward crossovers again.  I just wasn’t stable enough for that to be anything other than a good way to get hurt.  And at my age you lose condition fast when you stop exercising.  Where before I had been going a good hour during public skate now…not so much.

Still, it felt good to get out on the ice and I started recovering the condition (up to 50-55 minutes a session now).

The backward edges were the particular challenge.  For a month I was working them and not seeming to make any progress.  Finally, one thing clicked and I realized an error I was making.  Going forward, you see, I can simply push directly onto one foot, whether it’s stroking into a straight line one foot glide, or into a forward edge.  Indeed, forward crossovers are just that.  You push onto a forward outside edge, cross, then push onto a forward inside edge on the other (crossing) foot, bring the crossed foot around and repeat.  I was trying to do backward what I had gotten to the point of being able to do forward and it wasn’t working.  Being able to “push” directly onto one foot requires a good feel for the body mechanics so that your weight is entirely over the gliding foot as you finish the stroke.  I just didn’t have that, yet, going backward.

What I needed to do was, pump to get going backward, something like this:

Then, while still on two feet with feet together I needed to shift my weight to the foot I’m going to be doing the edge on (foot to the inside of the circle if doing an “outside edge”, to the outside of the circle if doing an “inside edge”–each blade has two edges, one on the inside of the foot side of the blade, the “inside edge” and one on the outside of the foot side of the blade, the “outside edge”, with a hollow between them).  When my weight is fully transferred, then pick up the foot.  The result should look something like these:

That’s what I was trying at Saturday’s session.  The result was much improved.  Still a ways to go, but much improved.  Saturday afternoon the rink was pretty dead so I had the opportunity to get some video of my working the backward edges:

Watching that video I did notice a couple of things I was still having issues with.  One was that I had these little, half-hearted pumps to get moving.  This meant that I was creeping along around the circle.  Bigger, more committed pumps to get more momentum would definitely help (and did on the Saturday evening and Sunday sessions).  Another was that while I could have sworn I had my body upright while doing that (I usually have pretty good feel for what my body is doing, something that stood me in good stead in Judo) I see that I have a pronounced forward lean here.  And as I got into it, my head would tend to tilt down.  I need to work on that.

Still, it was a major improvement over where I had been.  When I get to where I can consistently hold a backward edge for 3-4 seconds I figure I’ll be ready to try backward crossovers again.

That Universal Basic Income Nonsense.

Over on the Book of Faces there was this:

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Okay, let’s say that Bruce Wayne is as rich as Bill Gates. So, net worth of $113 billion. That sounds like a lot, but let’s look at Gotham City. It was based on New York in the comics so let’s use New York’s population. 8.4 million. Divide one into the other and that’s $13,452 per person. Since that’s per person rather than per family, that amounts to an annual income enough to keep everyone out of poverty. Yay, problem solved, right?

Well, not so fast. Doing that for one year and Bruce Wayne is low flat broke. There’s nothing left to do it again for a second year. And on top of it, by liquidating all his assets he’s destroyed, or at least seriously damaged, the businesses that employed a bunchaton of people. That means a lot of people, a whole bunch of people now out of work. And since they’re out of work, they’re not producing goods and services for the rest of us. But there are a bunch of people out there with money to spend on those goods and services that do still remain. More money available to spend, less goods and services to spend it on. There’s a term for that. Inflation. Prices of the remaining goods and services goes up.

And when that year is up what then? Wayne is tapped out. So, what next? Grab Gates’ money this time? Okay, you keep up the “basic income” for another year by completely impoverishing Gates. This puts still more people out of work, producing less in goods and services. Again, more money chasing fewer goods and services. Prices go up more.

And the next year, you’ll probably have to grab at least two billionaires to impoverish to keep this up.

Even if we assume that the billionaires just sit around and wait until it’s their turn to be stripped of their wealth and don’t flee the country, taking their wealth with them, this is a recipe for disaster. More and more jobless, fewer goods and services being produced, higher prices for those that remain, and basically making everyone, rich and poor alike, poorer.

And that’s just for Gotham City (or New York City in the “real world”). The country as a whole has about 35 times as many people as does Gotham/New York. The disaster sweeps in that much faster as you shovel more dollars into a bigger maw.

One might say say that one wouldn’t really completely impoverish each billionaire in turn but instead take a little bit from each of them all together. “They won’t notice it.” Except, while they might personally suffer no hardship from being a few billion less rich than before, the secondary effects are the same in terms of reduced jobs and production if it’s $100 billion from one or $1 billion from each of 100. The effect on the economy is the same. You have the same more dollars chasing fewer goods and services. You can just hide it better and pretend the economic disaster is unrelated.

Politicians are very good at that, in fact.

 

The Mask Fetish

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Everywhere you go people are wearing masks.  Governors and mayors are writing “executive orders” requiring people to wear masks in public–requirements that are not passed by legislatures and, really, by all rights should have no legal weight but that businesses, either buying into the hype or just fearful of pressure from regulatory agencies enforce on their properties.  And, of course, if the business says “wear a mask or leave” and you don’t leave, that’s trespass and that does have legal weight.

And we’re told that if you don’t wear a mask it’s because you want Grandma to die.

There are a number of problems with this  One is quite simply that for many people wearing a mask is an active hardship to the point of disability.  They (and I, as I’ll get to in a moment) simply cannot wear masks either for an extended period or at all.

I have reactive airway disease. I can’t wear a mask for extended periods of time without ending up gasping for breath. I need to save my “mask wearing” for situations where I really don’t have a choice–activities I’m committed to but where I’ll be shut out if I don’t. Mask wearing is, for me a “scarce resource that has alternative uses.” (Followers of this blog have seen me use that expression before.) How that “resource” is allocated is something I have to manage and manage carefully.

My daughter has it worse than I do so that applies doubly for her.

Other folk have it even worse. I have friends that, because of severe abuse in their past leading to severe PTSD reaction to anything over their face. They can’t wear masks. Period.

When this was pointed out I received the response:  “I had no idea that you and your daughter have a health issue surrounding wearing of masks”

Frankly, that’s none of anybody’s business. There’s a reason the ADA forbids requiring people to disclose the nature of any disability they have. There’s a reason that HIPAA forbids doctors from disclosing information without consent–I even have to explicitly give one doctor permission to access information from another doctor, both of whom are treating me for different issues. There are a handful of reasons why they may be justified in giving that information without my express consent but to satisfy some Karen’s busybody nature is not one of them.

And that, frankly, was a good response to my objections to wearing a mask.  “Too bad.  Don’t care,” is more common.  And I’ve also known people who have received “Oh, you’re just lying because you don’t want the minor inconvenience of wearing a mask.  You’re an evil person who doesn’t care if Grandma dies.”

Well, somebody doesn’t care about others.  But it’s not the people suffering from PTSD, Asthma, Reactive Airway Disease, or a host of other issues which makes wearing a mask a significant hardship.

This is particularly the case when one considers that this routine wearing of masks doesn’t make Grandma any safer.  The person who made the “I had no idea…” comment also said. “It is true that wearing masks would reduce the spread of most airborne infectious diseases and can help people who are sensitive to air pollution.”

Except it isn’t and doesn’t. The masks as people wear them are utterly worthless when it comes to stopping disease. To be useful, the masks have to be sterile themselves. They have to be of sufficiently small pore size to actually stop the infectious material. They have to be properly fitted. The person wearing them has to not. touch. them. once they’re put on. Once they’re contaminated (after exposure to infectious material or just from wearing for more than a couple hours) they need to be replaced with another that fits all of the above criteria.

None of that applies to the everyday mask wear people are doing. None of it.

At best the masks are a fetish, a talisman, the functional equivalent of a lucky rabbit’s foot, or a tribal shaman’s rattle (to scare away the demons). Utterly worthless.

“But…but…why do surgeons wear mask?  Are you going to tell them that they can throw them away?”

In the case of surgeons and their masks there are a number of factors:

  1. The purpose of the mask is to keep spit and snot, and the bacteria they carry, from falling into open wounds on a compromised patient.
  2. The masks are properly fitted to avoid “leakage” around the edges.
  3. The masks are either brand new (and sterile) or freshly sterilized before being put on.
    1. Masks are either not reused or are thoroughly disinfected before reuse.
  4. One put on the surgeon does. not. touch. it.
  5. The masks are changed regularly as they get contaminated.
  6. The masks are used in a clean, sterlized operating theater.
  7. The masks are part of an extensive set of antiseptic procedures which involves sterilizing everything brought into that theater.  Even the patient is covered so that only those body parts that absolutely have to be accessed by the surgical team are exposed (generally incision site, face for anesthesia, and minimal exposure for instrumentation).

None of that applies to the masks that people wear out and about, that they reuse regularly, that they stuff in their pocket between uses, or sit on a shelf, that they’re constantly touching and adjusting with their bare hands (or gloved hands that are contaminated from having touched other contaminated surfaces).

Routine wear of masks does the next thing to nothing when it comes to stopping the spread of disease.

And air pollution?  Really?  When it comes to chemical contaminates (SO2, CO, various nitrous oxides, and the like of air pollution) not even a mask that fits those criteria does anything. You need a mask with an airtight seal and a filter that absorbs/adsorbs those chemicals, an actual “gas mask”. Particle filtration does exactly nothing for those.

But wait, there’s more. What masks do is collect your exhalation, including water vapor. They get damp. Your breath keeps them warm. You create a warm, moist fibrous surface right next to your face. Basically, you create a practically ideal culture medium in which for bacteria to grow. And not just the bacteria of your own exhalations. No, walk into or past a bathroom that had been flushed recently and you’ll pick up fecal matter and a whole host of bacteria that live in it. Now, you pick up a bit of that anyway (ZDogg, who does videos as Doc Vader has spoken on this subject in the case of such matter being picked up by cell phones. People use there cell phones in the toilet, wash their hands, then continue using their cell phones, recontaminating their hands.) Normally, what you pick up is a very modest amount that you immune system is more than capable of dealing with. Gross when you think about it but so far as a healthy immune system is concerned it’s no biggie. Only now you have a culture medium, ideal for what you pick up to “be fruitful and multiply” and you have it right next to your nose and mouth, just waiting to transfer to you.

Even leaving out stuff the mask picks up from around you, the stuff it picks up from you is an issue.  You see, your immune system is in a constant, never-ending battle with various microorganisms.  Normally, your immune system is more than capable of preventing the microorganisms in and on your body from multiplying enough to make you ill.  But when you take some of those, give them a place away from your immune system to grow, and then re-ingest the larger amount?  The dose, as they say, makes the poison and so it is with disease.  That your body could handle what you already had does not mean it can handle the larger quantity that you bred in the culture medium across your face.

This constant improper (from an antiseptic protocol perspective) wear of masks not only does not help but actually increases the chance of illness.

But it’s the fetish that people, with their magical thinking, have settled on and intend to impose on the rest of us.

Ooga booga, folks.

Boston Tea Party(?): Another Blast From the Past.

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I really do try to avoid back-to-back “blasts from the past” but this is just so apropos…

Some people on the Left have been attempting to compare the riots in places like Portland to the Boston Tea Party However, they could not be more different.  The Boston Tea Party was very tightly targeted. It was aimed at tax laws that specifically favored the British East India company over local merchants. (A bit more complicated than the “tax on tea” typically taught in schools or on “Schoolhouse Rock”.) They targeted the tea in question, and _only_ the tea in question. Collateral damage in the form of a padlock broken to access the theater was replaced, by the protesters the next day. In, short, it’s almost exactly unlike the current riots.

I wrote this post a couple of years ago as a “On this day” post, which goes into more detail:


Some years ago when A Certain Politician said “It’s not time to party like it’s 1773” media pundits laughed saying This Politician did not know when the revolution started.  However, That Politician did know when the Boston Tea Party occurred–something those media pundits apparently did not.

The road to to the Boston Tea Party began with The Townshend Acts of 1767 which established, among other things, a tax on tea imported to the American Colonies.  These acts were eventually repealed, but the tax on tea remained.  Fast forward to May 10, 1773.  The Tea Act permitted the British East India Company to sell tea without paying those taxes, giving it a competitive advantage over other merchants.  This was essentially a “bailout” of the British East India Company which was struggling, partly because of competition from tea smuggled from the Netherlands where taxes were much lower.  Rather than accept that this import tariff idea of 25% was just bad economics, they instead simply relieved the British East India company from the burden of the tax. (well, Adam Smith and The Wealth of Nations was still a few years in the future and Mercantilism was in full swing.  Rather than counting the wealth of the nation as the sum total of goods and services available to its people it counted it as gold in the treasury and only counted the upper classes rather than the population as a whole.  So perhaps they could be forgiven for not understanding economics that had not yet been developed.)

In essence, what the Tea Act did was allow the British East India company to ignore the import duty in England, and to deal directly with the colonies.  The duties collected in the colonies, imposed by the Townshend acts, were retained.  Still, by reducing one level of taxation it reduced the overall cost allowing the British East India Company to sell its tea more cheaply, both in England and in the colonies, than competitors.

In the American Colonies there were two primary complaints about the Tea Act.  The first was the belief that the tax violated their rights as Englishmen to “no taxation without representation.” The taxes were passed by the British Parliament in which the colonies were not represented. The second problem was more practical:  the British East India Company was being given a special advantage over domestic colonial importers.

When the Tea Act was passed, retaining the tax on tea imported into the colonies, there were warnings that this might lead to another colonial controversy (said colonies already proving restive under what they considered rather high-handed British rule).  Former Chancellor of the Exchequer William Dowdeswell, for example, warned that the Americans would not accept the tea if the Townshend duty remained.

The warnings were not heeded.  The Tea Act went into force.

But notice something there.  The Tea Act did not increase the taxes paid by the American Colonists.  The tax on tea was simply retained.  Indeed, colonists could pay less if they simply bought the tea imported by the British East India company.  They were being given lower taxes…if they bought tea from that one company.

If.

So it wasn’t paying taxes the colonists objected to.  It was that dual pair of issues:  no taxation without representation and the bailout of the “official” corporation at the expense of others. (I guess Parliament thought the British East India Company was “too big to fail”. History doesn’t repeat, but it does rhyme.)

Protests continued from the passing of the Tea Act in May into the fall.  In late November, the tea ship Dartmouth arrived in Boston Harbor.  American Patriots, including Whig leader Sam Adams, met and organized essentially a boycott of the tea, watching to block any attempt to unload the cargo.  They argued to have the ship depart, with its tea, without paying the duty.  Loyalist governor of Massachusetts, Thomas Hutchinson, however, refused to allow them to depart.  Two more ships arrived.  They, too, were prevented from unloading or from leaving.  December 16th arrived, the last day before which the Dartmouth must either pay the duty or have its cargo confiscated, Governor Hutchinson again refused to allow the ships to depart.

A meeting of patriots led by Sam Adams broke up.  Contemporary reports indicate that he tried to stop people from leaving as the meeting was not yet over.  Claims that his statement “This meeting can do nothing further to save the country” being a signal to start the Tea Party appears to be something invented nearly a century later.  Many of those leaving donned costumes, dressing as Mohawk warriors.  This accomplished two things:  one is that it disguised the individual features of the protesters, the other was that by choosing Native American regalia instead of simple masks, they identified with the Americas and the country then undergoing its birthing throes.

Over the course of the evening, somewhere between 30 and 130 men boarded the three vessels and dumped every chest of tea into the water.  They were very careful not to damage anything else and indeed, in one case where they broke a lock to get access to the tea they replaced the lock afterward.

Sam Adams may or may not have actively planned the Tea Party.  He certainly did take a hand in publicizing and defending it afterward.  And as a result, the Boston Tea Party became one of the major stepping stones in the rising tide of discontent in the American Colonies that led to their eventual separation from Britain.

Math: It’s not Just for Breakfast any More (a blast from the past)

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On another Social Media platform (I saw it on FaceBook, but it was copied from elsewhere) the claim was made:

The F-35 fighter jet budget is set to exceed a total of $406 billion.  Remember that when they say single-payer is too expensive.

Let’s run with that, shall we?  First off, that budget is over ten years.  So that would be $40.6 billion a year on average.  Population of the US, as of this writing is estimated (US Census Bureau) at 325,428,250 (it will be higher by the time you look at it, if you do).  Let’s just say 325 million.  That means the F-35 budget, if the project were completely abandoned and all the money shifted to health care, would be worth $125/year per person.  How much health care do you think that would buy?  One, two office visits?

Just because something sounds like a lot of money does not mean it is a lot of money when it’s applied to every man, woman, and child in the US.

Let’s work that from the other end.  The average health care spending, per person, in the US is $10,345.  That’s the total of government, insurance, and individual expenditures.  All of it.  So, the total expenditure over the entire US is just under $3.4 trillion.

The 2016 Federal Budget, the whole thing, was $3.85 trillion

Having the government pay for health care would be almost as big as the entire rest of the government combined.

This, of course, is the part where someone claims that it will be so much more efficient and cheaper to have the government do it.

Don’t make me laugh.  The government is never more efficient than the private sector and it’s never cheaper.  Yes, you can point to foreign nations that get their drugs cheaper but they can only do that because, frankly we subsidize them.  The cost of getting new drugs and treatments approved and brought to market is enormous.  Then there are the ones that never do make it to market, where some problem is found along the way and the drug/treatment is never approved.  Those costs have to be recouped as well.  On balance, pharmaceutical companies make a gross profit in line with the risks.  The total revenue is high, yes, but the total cost is high as well.  Nobody’s going to invest a billion dollars in new medicines unless they’re going to make a reasonable margin on it.

As it stands now, the US is paying those costs.  Am I happy with subsidizing the rest of the world this way?  No.  I’m not.  But if that’s the cost of continued medical progress, I’ll pay it.

One might propose instead of businesses investing and developing medicines for profit and let government handle it.  Well, that would mean that you’d need to fund that cost publicly as well, and that’s hardly an argument that government will reduce cost of healthcare.  And if they did that, well, I’ve discussed the issue of profit motive vs. socialized medicine before.  As things stand now the US is #1 in things like Nobel Prizes in medicine, in new treatments and medicines, #1 in cancer survival rates.  There is a reason for that.  And even medical countries based in countries with various forms of socialized medicine can still make profits so long as there’s someplace (like, say, here) they can sell to make that profit.  If you want to see what will likely happen if that profit motive is taken away and it’s all government controlled, look at the rate of medical developments coming from places where that is the case.  The old Soviet Union would be a good example.

So, no, going to “single payer” would not reduce the cost of health care except at a very high price indeed.  No, the only way they would reduce cost is by reducing care.

And if we stop paying for the new develoments, who’s left who will?  Progress slows to a near standstill.

That’s what “government reducing costs” would mean.

But to get back to the original point, people like to try to compare a single number that seems large with a much smaller number that applies to lots and lots and lots of people.  Another example is CEO compensation.

Let’s take a popular case.  The CEO of Walmart has a total annual compensation of $22.4 million.  That sounds like an enormous amount.  Why, if he took less, he could give all those employees a big raise, right?  Wrong.  Walmart employs 2.3 million people worldwide.  So if the CEO took nothing as pay and bonuses, worked purely out of the goodness of his heart because, I don’t know, he found it fun or something, the money saved would allow him to pay those people a raise.  Of just under $10.  A year.

But wait.  That’s worldwide.  Suppose we say just forget those damn foreigners and only use that money for Americans!  Why that would mean they’d only have to split that raise among 1.4 million people.  That CEO compensation divided among them would give them a raise of…$16.  Per year.

This is just simple math.  People compare some “big ticket” item with “small ticket” items and don’t mention how the very large numbers of those small ticket items add up, or how very little the large ticket item would really stretch among the many to whom those small ticket items apply.

So when someone says “if we can afford X, then surely Y isn’t too expensive” take a closer look.  Just how much of those “Y” do we have to buy and how much is the total cost?

Math.  It’s not just for breakfast any more.

No-Churn Low Carb Absinthe Ice Cream

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Adapted from another recipe I saw.  The key change I did here was use a low carb (actually no carb) substitute for sweetened condensed milk.  Thus, there’s a two-step process here, the first making the sweetened condensed milk substitute, the other making the ice cream itself.

Ingredients (Sweetened condensed milk–actually cream):

  • 2 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 4 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup sugar equivalent of the sweetener of your choice (I use Splenda/sucralose)

Put the ingredients in a 2 quart saucepan.  That may seem large for the amount of material but you’ll need the space as the heavy cream tends to foam up quite a bit as it boils.

Bring it to boil over medium heat.  Stir occasionally.  Boil until the total volume is reduced to 2 cups, probably about 30 minutes.  I would periodically remove it from the heat stir it to break up the foaming, then pour into 2 cup measuring cup.  If it filled the cup while still having a significant amount of liquid in the pan, I poured it back and returned it to the heat.

Once it is reduced, transfer to a heat resistant container and place in the refrigerator.  It will thicken as it cools.  It should be ready to use in about an hour although it may be convenient to make it the day before.

Ingredients (the ice cream)

  • The sweetened condensed milk substitute described above (you can use a can of actual sweetened condensed milk if you’re not concerned about low carb–the 2 fl oz difference between the can of sweetened condensed milk and the substitute made above is not critical)
  • 1/2 cup absinthe (or your spirit of choice).
  • Dash salt
  • (optional) Anise seed, about 1 tsp
  • (optional) green food coloring a few drops
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream

in a large mixing bowl combine the first three (and the two optional if used) ingredients.  Set it aside.  For the absinthe, I used the bitterest of the varieties I have on hand, “Mephisto” absinthe.  I thought that it would go well with the extra sweetness.  And, to be honest, I used quite a bit more than in the original recipe on which I based this which appeared to use just a couple ounces.

In another mixing bowl of at least 6 cups capacity beat the heavy cream until it is a good, stiff, whipped cream.

Fold the whipped cream into the bowl with the other ingredients until well combined.

Transfer to a freezer container, preferably something with a tight lid, and place in the freezer until frozen (2-4 hours at least).

Because of the alcohol content of the absinthe it won’t actually freeze solid.  You’ll end up with a very soft ice cream that tastes absolutely wonderful.  Makes about 6 cups.

Protein 0 g/cup, Carbs 0 g/cup, Fats 34.5 g/cup

Note that a 1 cup serving contains just about 3/4 ounce of absinthe and since absinthe tends to be on the strong side of spirits, please enjoy responsibly.

“Help I’m Being Repressed!”

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So, Federal agents in unmarked mini-vans are going around and arresting (the screaming leftist pundits are saying “kidnapping”) Antifa and BLM agitators invovled in riots, vandalism, and other crimes (same leftist pundits say “protests”).  And I’ve seen some folk out there asking folk like, well, me, why we aren’t up in arms and using our guns to resist that “government overreach” (since that’s one of the things we argue regarding the 2nd Amendment and RKBA is that it’s as a hedge against government tyranny).

But here’s the thing:  The enemy of my enemy is not my friend.

The enemy of my enemy might be my friend.  He might be someone who, while not a friend, nevertheless be someone I can work with against a greater enemy.  Or he might be very bit as much as, if not worse than, the other enemy and it would simply be better for me to stand back and let them slug it out with each other:

letthemfight

And when it comes to Antifa and BLM, they fall into the last category.  You see, avowed Marxists, intent on overthrowing the Constitution, intent on demonizing me in every possible way, including about my support for RKBA (which they are now complaining I won’t use in their behalf; see the hypocrisy?), are as big a threat as government overreach if allowed to continue.

Add in that as much as they scream about a “right to protest” there is no “right” to do the things they are doing.  There is no “right” to vandalism just because you call it “protest”.  There is not right to riot just because you call it protest.  There is no right to arson just because you call it protest.  There is no right to looting just because you call it protest.  There is no right to doxing just because you call it protest.  There is no right to breaking and entering just because you call it protest.  There is no right to detain people against their will (blocking traffic and otherwise interfering with people’s lawful free movement) just because you call it protest.  And there certainly is no right to assault and battery just because you call it protest.

There is no “right to protest” that makes illegal things legal.  There are certain things that the government is forbidden from prohibiting, certain rights you have that can be used for protest, things like free speech, a free press, the right to peaceable assembly (those things in the preceding paragraph are not peaceable, they are pretty much the exact opposite of peaceable), and the right to petition government for redress of grievances.  But criminal acts are still criminal acts even if done in the name of “protest.”

The vans being used by federal agents are unmarked?  Show me anywhere in the Constitution which says that Federal law enforcement can only make arrests while wearing distinctive police uniforms and in distinctive marked cars.  Do you think US Marshals in history had “Federal Officer” dyed into their horse’s hair?  Police detectives in plain clothes driving unmarked vehicles make arrests all the time.  They only have to identify as police to the person or persons they are arresting.  Neither uniforms nor marked cars are required.

The claim is made that they don’t Mirandize the people they are “kidnapping” (arresting, in point of fact). Again, they don’t have to.  The Miranda warning is only required before interrogation.  And even then, failure to do so only makes any statements made without the warning inadmissible in court.  It does not invalidate the arrest itself.  “Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.” Failure to give that warning simply means that it can’t be so used.  Anything else they have is still perfectly admissible.  If they’ve got enough to hold you without the statement, then they can still hold you.

As for federal overreach, well, I’d warned folk about the danger of making so many things federal crimes rather than leaving it to States and municipalities.  But no, you had to push for more and more Federal power.  And, indeed, you’re pushing for more now.  You don’t object to more Federal power and overreach.  You only object to being on the receiving end of it.  If you “win” you’ll put even more in place.  No thanks.  I’m not going to help you deprive me of even more rights.

Now, if your rights were actually being violated, I would be in a difficult moral position.  My own principles say that you have your rights even if we disagree.  But you’re using your rights in an attempt to influence government to deprive me of mine.  Fortunately, I’m not in that position because you didn’t limit your action to things that are actually your rights.  No, you had to go beyond, far beyond, your actual rights and doing it in an attempt to not just deprive me of my actual rights but to demonize me making me your enemy.  And you want my help?

 

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