A Cold Day

Winter is having a last little laugh here, with wind chills down to negative ten and a shock of snow this morning. Of course, such a cold day almost demands a fire department call -- everyone gets their wood stoves or fireplaces good and hot, and you can just expect to be out there in it freezing to fight their fire. On the way we discovered that the wind had been blowing so hard that steel street signs and trees alike had been blown down and out into the road. 

Hopefully there won't be any repeat fires tonight, when it's going to be in the single digits before the wind chill. We're told it'll be back in the sixties next week. Spring is almost upon us.

What should I do?

I got this unusual email from Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen:
Janet Louise Yellen
Dear: Beneficiary,
Reply-To: mrsjanetlouiseyellen11@gmail.com
Attention: Fund Owner,
This office now understands the reason why you did not want to complete the process in regard to this transaction of yours. We are surprise to receive a message from unknown Woman Mrs. Donna Marie Guss this Morning who claims to be your representative and she explain to this office that you have an Auto Accident on the 10th of last Month on your way back from office and after taking you to so many Hospital’s you did not make it,
She also went ahead and explain to this office that before you pass away that you instructed her to contact this office so that she will pay the needed balance fee sum of $250 usd required regarding to your transaction to able us change the ownership Name in your Document to her Name so that the paying Bank will transfer the total fund sum of $20,6 Million United States Dallas Twenty Million Six Hundred Thousand Usd successfully into her local Bank Account as you can see below:
Bank Name: Wells Fargo Bank Account 6464449591. Routing No 121000248. Swift BIC.WFBIUS65
Please for your information this office is waiting to hear back from you as soon as you receive this message if you are alive. But if we did not hear from you in regard to this message we will have to confirm that Mrs. Donna Marie Guss is saying the truth and this office will instruct the paying Bank to release the total fund into her Bank Account,
From the Office of Janet Louise Yellen, United States Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Treasury Suite 4820 U.S. Department of State Washington, DC 20520-5820
I'd hate to leave her in suspense about my survival, after someone took me to so many Hospital's, and I could really use the $20.6 million Dallas.

More on the Gypsy Jokers vs. ANTIFA

Sose the Ghost on the confrontation. "If you say it a whole bunch of times, it doesn't make it true."

Targeting for Political Reasons

A wife of a January 6th detainee claims that she and other family members are being targeted by the FBI. That's plausible; putting pressure on family is a classic method of breaking people you're trying to get to plea so you don't have to prove your charges in court. That's how they got Mike Flynn, for example: by threatening charges against his son if he wouldn't plea. 

Meanwhile, in Michigan, we see the 'plot to kidnap the governor' turning on the testimony of FBI agents who were deeply involved in planning the alleged plot -- agents who hated Trump a whole lot.

Trump is not the issue; I'd prefer if he didn't run again. The FBI is proving itself to be too dangerous to survive. Whenever there's a chance for reform, it should be disbanded.

Among the Truckers

The convoy efforts in the US have shown none of the spirit, forethought, nor determination of the Canadian convoy movement. They appear to be purely for show. Nevertheless, they did draw a visit from Ted Cruz.
Landis’ truck carries a WWll flag that proudly waves on its flatbed. The flag had been draped over the casket of a soldier who died in WWll and was hand-delivered to the convoy in Oklahoma by one of the veteran’s grandsons. The flag traveled the rest of the trip into Hagerstown with the convoy....

Cruz did most of the talking at the press conference, with Brase speaking for only a few minutes. Cruz emphasized the importance of being informed voters because elected officials often make poor decisions on behalf of Americans....

Brase stepped up to the mic, adding his two cents on the Senator’s words:

“It is our freedoms. That’s what this is about, and it’s time to remind the American Government and governments truly around the world even that they work for us."

There has been some doubt expressed in the comments section here as to whether the government does, in fact, work for us.  They certainly tax us, although long ago now it was no longer appropriate to say that we thereby 'pay their salaries.' They spend far more money than they tax from us; their salaries are paid with just more printed money, underwritten by nothing but a promise they know cannot be kept. 


Gas Hikes

My friend Hunstman breaks it down: even if you attribute 100% of the post-Ukraine gas price hike to Putin...
Total Increase since 1/21/21: $1.72/gal
Biden Increase: $1.20/gal
Putin Increase: $0.52/gal

Biden % of Total: 69.8%

"World War Three"

It's at least six by my count, but it's still not great to hear the President of the United States talking about it as a live possibility. Particularly not this president, with his mental and physical challenges; nor this military, crippled by having the same leadership that has not known accountability for its failure in Afghanistan. 

Are their Biological Weapons Labs in Ukraine?

We know for sure that there are biological labs of some sort in Ukraine, because our own government has admitted it in testimony before Congress. We also know for sure that at least some of them used to be biological warfare labs, because they were established as such under the Soviet Union.

Descriptions I've read of what has been going on there make it sound more like Wuhan-style 'gain of function' research on zoologicals, but that's very hard to distinguish from biological warfare research. It strikes me as probable that our government would have inherited and preserved/continued the Soviet research, just as they did with the WWII-era Japanese and German research into plague, nuclear weapons, and rocketry. Also, after the recent pandemic, I'm sure we'd all prefer that such laboratories be treated as extremely dangerous things to mess around with anyway.

Reuters reports that the UN has advised Ukraine to destroy whatever is in those labs on an expedited basis. 

Hillz does her part


Another Gigantic Bill No One Read

It's almost three thousand pages, released after midnight and voted on the same day by the House. It passed, of course, because Congress is full of scoundrels. Amber Athey skimmed at least some of it and found quite a bit of waste.
...an unspecified portion of the nearly $4 billion available in bilateral economic assistance — meaning direct transfers from the United States to other countries — shall “be made available for programs to promote democracy and for gender programs in Pakistan.”

Gender programs in Pakistan? How much are we sending to Saudi Arabia? They're actually making progress on that front. 

Be On the Lookout for Spider Paratroopers

An invasive species invades.
Researchers say there's nothing we can do. They're coming... I say let's pool our resources now and build a dome around Georgia and keep them there.

It's too late. 

Mafia Economics

An interesting thread on Russia's situation. I think this insight is important:
Why old oil and gas tycoons were expropriated, while metallurgy oligarchs were spared and largely remained rich through the entire Putin's era? Because metallurgy is too complicated for Putin's friends to control it directly. They spared it, because they are too mafia to run it
The closer you are to the seat of power, the more mafia like and thus simpler you are. You are just unable to administer anything complex. That's why the highest-ranked and the simplest interest group took oil and gas - something they could rip off without destroying. immediately

1990s oligarchs are more complex but lower in dominance hierarchy. They took something that they could administer without ruining it immediately - the metallurgy. Ofc they're ruining it slowly. They're depleting old deposits without developing new ones. But it will take time

And only really complex stuff like competitive machinery is left for nerds like a nengineer Skurov - the owner of that mining machine producing factory I talked about. That's very important. Complex machinery is administered by guys who are very low in Russian dominance hierarchy

That's quite important for understanding the economic prospects of Russia. Complex industries, especially hardware industries are run by very weak interest groups. Higher-ups tolerate the nerds because someone should do it, but they'll milk those miserables dry 

I imagine it's like the banker in this scene:

It's probably easier to navigate. The banker in that scene thinks he lives in a place where there's rule of law; the nerds in Russia don't have any such illusions. 

The Past was not Conservative

A fascinating study of our (mis)perception of public attitudes. 

"Some men kiss their chains"

But not all do. Niall Ferguson observes that it's foolish to assume everyone shares our value for freedom, but there's no need to ignore those who do.
It turns out that Americans grasp that it’s foolish to try to make people like themselves — but they sure are happy to lend a hand when they see people who are like themselves. It also turns out that Americans have a pretty good grasp of the national interest, and factor both sentiment and calculation into their preference on what ought to be done.

NYT Reporter: J6 Rife with Gov't Informants

Another Project Veritas sting, this has NYT Journalist Matthew Rosenberg -- who was present at the January 6th event -- talking through what happened. He attested that there were "a ton" of FBI informants "among the people who attacked the Capitol."

UPDATE: Tucker Carlson has a piece on this sting, with an interview from the editor of Revolver news.

Good Government at the DMV

The DMV has for decades been infamous for its customer service, but here in North Carolina the COVID period has brought it to abject tyranny. Our local DMV has reduced its hours for walk-in appointments to two hours a day, 2:15-4:15 PM. The door is locked at all times, and only one customer -- no parents with minors, or elders, but just one person -- is allowed inside and the door locked behind them. 

For two years they stopped doing road tests, 'because of COVID,' so if you were a younger driver who needed a road test to get a license you just couldn't drive. For years. Too bad. I arranged a temporary address in another state for a young relative so they could get a license, and then transfer it back here to their permanent address. The DMV doesn't care if it screws up your life. You don't matter at all.

Mornings are for appointments only, and you can only make an appointment online because they stopped answering their phone. You can call; they won't answer. I've called a dozen times trying to obtain information from them, and never once has anyone picked up the phone. No online appointments can be made sooner than two months out, not because they are busy -- today they had just one appointment -- but because. These go on until noon, at which point the DMV staff begins a two-hour lunch.

Then, at 2:15, they begin allowing people to come in one at a time according to the waiting list. Today the waiting list was two pages long at noon, two hours before they started seeing anyone, and many of the people there had been coming in for days to try to get seen. Some had come in at six in the morning in order to get their names on the list somewhat higher up.

I didn't actually need anything from the DMV myself today, I just was taking lunch to one of the poor citizens waiting for their government to deign to accept their tax money. They'd taken the day off work to be there, and because they came in at noon -- two hours early -- they were at the bottom of page two of the list. 

"Look," I said as I was passing off their lunch amid a very large crowd, "the DMV are the worst people in the world." The crowd laughed appreciatively, but in a kind of shocked tone at my audacity of speaking so of the mighty bureaucrats who govern their lives. "They have done everything they can to make themselves inaccessible and unaccountable to the citizens who pay their salaries. All you can do is wait on them and hope they do their jobs during the two hours a day they actually pretend to work." 

Just at this time one of the DMV employees walked into the building with his lunch.

"AND THERE'S ONE OF THEM RIGHT THERE!" I said quite loudly, raising my finger to point at him. "That guy is one of these who works only two hours a day while citizens wait for hours and hours!" 

He literally backed into his office and audibly locked the door trying to get away from all the people suddenly glaring at him. 

Now as I said, I didn't need anything from them and was just there to bring somebody lunch, so I left. I heard later, though, that the DMV employees somehow managed to get through every single person on the waiting list this afternoon. The people who'd been waiting for days were just stunned at how quickly the line moved today, compared to other days recently. Nobody was sent away without being seen today.

These people work for us. It's about time they remembered it. 

A Buck and a Half Gas

I was only able to put half a tank's worth of gasoline in my Ford today, because that was $75 and the new daily limit at the local gas station. That makes a full tank of gas $150. 

We were energy independent just a little over a year ago. 

How to stir up parents

There was a news report this morning about the Biden administration's rejecting a FOIA request about last year's weaponizing of the federal criminal justice system against "terrorist" parents.  It prompted me to check in on how the National School Boards Association was doing.  A WaPo article from January gives a sympathetic account of how the misunderstood organization was targeted by conservatives.

The article begins on a promising note:
Now, the association is at risk of total collapse.... Nineteen mostly GOP-led states have withdrawn from the association or promised to when this year’s membership expires, and six members of what was a 19-person board have left. Several states are discussing forming an alternative association for school boards. A new executive director of the [NSBA] is working to save the organization, lobbying individual states to reconsider, but so far he has not persuaded any of them to change their minds.
The disgraced former director explained how he came up with his bright idea to engage the support of federal cops against parents alarmed by racist curricula and COVID mandates:
Slaven said that because this was a sensitive issue, he circulated the letter to the board’s four officers, who all signed off on it. He said he would not normally have done this, but he worried it would be seen as a slap at the Biden administration for not enforcing federal law so wanted them to see it first.
Probably it wouldn't have occurred to him to run the letter by any trusted advisors for fear that it would enrage parents. He just wanted to be sure he wasn't being unfair to President Biden. An NSBA board member reported Slaven's claim at the time that the letter had been solicited by U.S. Education Secretary Michael Cardona. Cardona denies this.  The WaPo article goes on to explain why the letter was in a good cause, because of the need to address all those awful parents, then describes the explosive aftermath, including the usual "drumbeat" from malicious conservatives.

About a month after the letter hit the press, ex-director Slaven was fired. His allies assert he was a scapegoat in a conservative movement to undermine public schools by portraying them as hostile to parents.  Heavens to Betsy, how would parents ever have gathered that impression?  "Many of the [NSBA]’s opponents are also outspoken supporters of school choice programs that direct tax dollars to parochial, private and charter schools." Oh, you'd better believe it. Jim Green, executive director of the Oregon School Boards Association, offered this helpful advice:
“If you’re a person who doesn’t support public schools and want to see public schools go away, what better thing could happen than get rid of an organization like NSBA, one of the leading voices for public education,” he said.

Well, it's a leading voice for something.  Whether ensuring kids an access to education enters into it is less clear.

The Hag

Mark Pulliam over at Law & Liberty reviews Marc Eliot's biography of Merle Haggard:

It is sometimes difficult to place popular musicians in a larger cultural context, and this was not the goal of Marc Eliot’s The Hag, an impressively thorough biography of country music icon Merle Haggard. ... Fans of Haggard or country music generally will enjoy The Hag as a celebration of Haggard’s contribution to the “Bakersfield sound,” a distinctive variation of a genre typically associated with Nashville. Readers may balk at Eliot’s comparison of his subject to Robert Frost, Frank Sinatra, Bob Wills, and Bob Dylan, but they will emerge with a deeper appreciation for a musician who is often undeservedly overshadowed by “crossover” artists such as Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, and Waylon Jennings.

I did not know Haggard was a prisoner in the audience when Cash did his concert at San Quentin.

It's an enjoyable review, and I expect to enjoy the biography as well.

Of course, as his biography notes, Haggard used cocaine and marijuana, and he was married five times. But good musicians tell the stories of a people, not necessarily of themselves.

Communist Bunk Fashionable Again

According to Business Insider, a growing number of economists are calling for price controls in the face of inflation. 

In the young blue bubbles

In the continuing saga of my laptop woes, I'm making the acquaintance of many bright young Mac Tech Support workers. Because of our slow rural internet service here, there are often long companionable period while we wait for something to download or upload, during which the nice young people are happy to chat away about local conditions. I get to play old codger, with dispatches from Boondockia: "Why, I remember the time we didn't have internet service for days . . . ."

Yesterday a nice young woman asked me how the changes in restrictions were going this week, or some such phrase. I didn't realize at first what she was talking about, then I laughed and said, oh, you mean COVID mandates! Shoot, I'm in Texas, we gave those up a long time ago. I can't remember the last time I wore a mask. The schools have been open forever. Most of us old folks got vaccinated a year ago and then moved on.

She was shocked. She didn't seem aware that much of the country hasn't been going along with this stuff, and that our disease trajectory was every bit as favorable as her area's. I daresay all she hears about Texas culture these days is that we're being cruel to transgender children, if that. More likely, we're like the giant gray area on Weather Channel maps south of the Rio Grande.

Another odd thing is that, because we're usually chatting on these calls because of a slow internet, I often mention that we're looking forward to Elon Musk and Starlink service. So far I haven't run into any tech support staff who know what I'm talking about. I'd have thought young people in the tech world would be keenly aware of Elon Musk, such a flamboyant figure.

Make America 1977 Again

There's a lot of talk about the 70s just now: stagflation, oil, and all the rest. Nobody ever talks about the good parts, like Waylon Jennings and Lynyrd Skynyrd. If we could find a way to come around to that again, it might be ok. Hell, even with Carter II.