Wednesday, March 15, 2017

There was NO Mrs Bilbo Baggins.

Tolkien even mentioned this in the trilogy itself.  "Bilbo and Frodo as bachelors were very exceptional."  I'm reading an Op-Ed in the Wall St Journal, a book review of "Nabokov's Favorite Word Is Mauve" by Ben Blatt.  It's about what can be done with computers to count up every word an author uses, and the patience to wade thru the resulting mountains of histograms.  Apparently they were able to resolve who wrote which of the Federalist Papers by looking at the frequency of the word "whilst" versus that of "while".  Hamilton always wrote "while" where Madison always wrote "whilst.  Good interesting stuff but I would never have the patience to sort all this out.
   Then the reviewer mentions that Tolkien used "he" 1900 times and the word "she" just once when he refers to Mrs. Bilbo Baggins.  The first part I can believe, Tolkien's protagonists were all guys, no chicks in the fellowship of the ring.  But Mrs Bilbo Baggins?  No way, Bilbo never married,  Frodo was NOT Bilbo's son, he was a nephew. 
   Talk about blowing your credibility in one short sentence. 

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

The vanishing supermarket chicken

Used to be, the butcher's shelf in the supermarket would have plenty of whole chickens, fryers, broilers, and roasters.  Must be some kinda plague killed them all off.  Now a days all the market has are chicken thighs (second joint) drumsticks, breasts (skinless and boneless) and chicken fingers (breasts sliced thin).  The whole bird seems to be extinct.  Must be global warming...
   Wonder why.  There is less labor to prepare a whole chicken, than to prepare a whole chicken and then butcher it up into parts and wrap it.  Is there customer demand for chicken parts over whole chickens?  If so why?  With a whole chicken all you have to do is pop it in the oven for 20 minutes to the pound and out it comes and looks festive and tastes good.  No great culinary skills here.  Serve it forth with a few side dishes and you have a party grade feast.  I guess people just send out for pizza now rather than cooking. 

Monday, March 13, 2017

Free Enterprise and CAFE

The modern US economy manages to supply a humongous variety of products to us citizens.  Groceries, auto parts, gasoline, new cars, clothing, housing, toys, smart phones, building materials, books, computer games, new movies, freeways, air travel, you name it, the US economy provides it. And provides the right amount.  When something is in short supply, the price goes up, which encourages more supply.  When we have too much of something, the price drops, and people stop making it and turn to other products.  Works beautifully and we produce just the right amount of  a zillion different things. 
   The old line Soviets didn't believe in the free market.  They set up a central planning bureau in Moscow to issue production quotas to all Soviet producers.  Central planning never got it right. Sometimes the producers could not produce as much as Central Planning demanded.  Many times Central Planning demanded more than the market could absorb. Result was constant shortages and surpluses. Clearly the free market worked better than the Soviet command economy.
   So then we invented the Corporate Average Fuel Economy program.  Auto makers are required by law to manufacture a fleet of cars that meet crazy fuel economy targets (54.5 mpg last time I looked) So they manufacture a vast number of tiny econoboxes that nobody will buy, but they get credit for on the fuel economy average, so that can produce the vehicles that customers will actually buy, mostly pickups and SUV's.  The greenies believe that virtue comes from reducing gasoline consumption no matter what.
   Me, I think people ought to be able to buy the car they want to buy.  If it uses a bit more fuel than the greenies approve of, too bad.  The frackers have increased US fuel production enormously, to the point that we will be independent of middle east oil producers in a few years. You want an SUV to haul your family around? Go for it.  It's free country, or at least it used to be.
   We (Congress) ought to repeal the entire CAFE law.  It would reduce the price of the cars we actually7 buy.  I don't know what Detroit does with the hordes of fuel efficient econoboxes they churn out to meet CAFE requirements.  I don't think even the rental car companies will take them.  It would mean cheaper cars for all if  Detroit didn't have to produce a horde of econoboxes that nobody wants to buy. 

Costing the Ryan "replace" bill

Congressional Budget Office released their study of the effects of the Ryan bill, costs, loss of insurance and other things.  According to CBO the Ryan bill would reduce the federal deficit by $370 billion at the cost of 24 million people losing their insurance.
   Lets be simple about it,  $370 billion divided by 24 million people yields $15416 in savings per person losing insurance coverage.  That's a lot.  Used to be full house family plan company insurance ( the best you can get) ran $12000 a year.  Hospitalization only insurance ran $3000 a year.  So the Ryan bill reduces costs to us taxpayers by MORE than it would cost us taxpayers to buy outright, a full house family insurance plan for each person loosing their insurance policies. 
  Sounds like a deal to me.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

The US Flag still means something in the Middle East

TV has been showing a video of a small convoy of military vehicles moving into some obscure town in Iraq. Some hummers, some trucks, a Styker armored car, but no tanks and no Bradleys. Every vehicle is flying a decent sized US flag on a pole above the vehicle. 
   The troops driving must figure that showing the flag won't draw fire and might help establish useful relations with the locals.
   Not bad for Old Glory. 

Friday, March 10, 2017

Let's dump ALL the Senate rules and start over with clean slate

All we ever hear about Senate rules, is how some obscure rule is holding up something good.  Senate rules were started by Southern Democrats looking for ways to block abolitionist legislation before the Civil War.   Southern democrats carried on this disgraceful tradition in the 1950's looking for ways to block civil rights legislation.   Then the "rules" were expanded to block Supreme Court appointments, all federal judge appointments, and pretty much anything.  It got so bad that they couldn't muster the votes to pass the federal budget.  Harry Reid (former Democrat Senate majority leader) had to create a new "rule" called reconciliation to allow the budget to pass on a simple majority, rather getting hung up going for 60 votes.   Today the Republicans are trying to use "reconciliation" to repeal Obamacare by a simple majority.   Which is why they didn't put interstate sale of insurance in it.  "Reconciliation" can only be used for budget matters Later Harry created another rule allowing appointments ( except Supreme Court) to pass on a simple majority.  And the Senate has "rules" requiring 60 votes in order to bring a bill to the floor, and then 60 votes to pass it.  In short the Senate spends half it's votes, voting to have a  vote.  Senators can vote one way on one vote, the other way on the other vote, and tell their constituents that he voted their way, for or against, what ever the voter wants to hear.  And there are secret "blackball" rules that allow a single Senator to blackball a nomination to anything.  They keep Senator Blackball's name secret too. 
   Let's scrap all the existing Senate rules.  Every Senator gets to submit one (or maybe more) bills, that will come to the floor for debate and a vote.  All votes are simple majority.   Every nomination comes to the floor for a vote within 14 days of the nomination.  Senator's may no longer talk on the floor as long as they please.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

NHPR calls president Trump crazy.

Just this morning I heard this.  On FM radio.  To cloak their position, NHPR  said they were  quoting a Democratic Congressman from California.  "California" is a land of fruits and nuts, "Democratic" is a party of lefty greenies, neither adjective lends credence to the Congressman's words. They did mention the Congressman's name (once) but I didn't catch it. 
   Congressman didn't right out call the president crazy, instead he spoke in psycho-babble, but I have been hearing psycho-babble for years and years and know how to understand it.  He was calling president Trump crazy.
   Which is an extreme thing to say about an elected US president. 
   It's also pretty extreme for NHPR to carry the story.