Free Markets, Free People

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*tap* *tap* “Is this thing on?”

So I’m back from a long needed … break.  No really … needed.

That and being thoroughly swamped with work and depressed about the politics we suffer today.

Screw it … I’ll just do random commentary then.

I found this to be absolutely hilarious and something I’ve suspected for years.  To the “publish or die” folks in academia it seems like publishing is the same thing as dying:

Professors usually spend about 3-6 months (sometimes longer) researching and writing a 25-page article to submit an article to an academic journal. And most experience a twinge of excitement when, months later, they open a letter informing them that their article has been accepted for publication, and will therefore be read by … an average of ten people. Yes, you read that correctly. The numbers reported by recent studies are pretty bleak: – 82 percent of articles published in the humanities are not even cited once.  Of those articles that are cited, only 20 percent have actually been read. Half of academic papers are never read by anyone other than their authors, peer reviewers, and journal editors. All of this is very unfortunate. Ideally, the great academic minds of a society should be put to work for the sake of building up that society and addressing its problems. Instead, most Western academics today are using their intellectual capital to answer questions that nobody’s asking on pages that nobody’s reading. What a waste.

What a waste?  What a laugh! The problem, however, is those who end up being published also end up believing their research and theory, etc. has been validated.  And that sense of validation leads them to push their pet theory even further and to introduce it, at least on a limited basis (like their humanities department) to receptive ears – after all, it’s been peer reviewed (given the lack of intellectual diversity among “peers” in academia, you can imagine the bias involved).  In the humanities we’ve seen the result in some of the looniest ideas concerning gender and sex and race bobbing to the surface in universities and influencing/encouraging SJWs to adopt and act on them.  Thus the circus we now observe within the universities in this country.

I’m certainly not attempting to blame all of that on the fact that no one but “peers” read these articles, but it certainly has to have had some influence.   When you’re pitching to an echo chamber, you hear what you hope to hear and are encouraged to put it action somewhere (like, uh, academia).

I heard that Steven DenBeste passed away recently.  If you’re not familiar with the name, Steven was one of the original (if not “the” original) bloggers with his blog the USS Clueless.  And he helped influence and launch a thousand other blogs and establish the form as something to be taken seriously.  If you’ve never heard of him or read him, do yourself a favor and google his blog and enjoy.  He passed on way to early and will be missed by all of us old time bloggers and blog readers.

I think it is clear to everyone who can candidly assess Obama’s foreign policy that it is a huge (and dangerous) failure. Take the “Pacific Pivot” as an example.  The latest defection?  Malaysia, who just gave China an order for patrol boats.

Najib’s overture to China is spurred in part by anger over U.S. Department of Justice investigations into the country’s scandalous sovereign wealth fund, 1MDB. That controversy has damaged Najib’s international reputation and sent him straight into Beijing’s arms, as China has helpfully agreed to buy the fund’s power assets. Now, that gesture is starting to pay off. China and Malaysia started joint military exercises last year, and reports suggest that Najib will sign agreements on high-speed rail and port projects during his trip to Beijing.

The Malaysian pivot to China is especially embarrassing given President Obama’s clear efforts to court Najib. In 2014, Obama became the first sitting U.S. president to visit Malaysia in nearly 50 years; later that year, Najib was the president’s golf buddy during his vacation in Hawaii. Yet that personal outreach cannot disguise the fact that the promises of the Obama administration’s pivot, particularly the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), have failed to come through. Like Duterte, Najib has apparently made the calculation that Beijing has more to offer than Washington—and unlike Duterte, this decision cannot be dismissed as the impulses of an anti-American demagogue.

DOJ will go hammer and tongs after a foreign entity but when confronted with a highly placed politician who has (per the FBI) clearly broken the law?  Yeah, not so much.

That said, the Pacific looks more dangerous than ever since Obama took office.  And Europe.  And the Middle-east.  And …

Really?

Earlier today, the D.C. City Council voted to allow physician-assisted suicide. But the debate isn’t over. The Washington Post reports that “the council must still hold a final vote on the bill, possibly as early as Nov. 15,” and that the mayor, Muriel Bowser, must decide if she’ll sign or veto the bill.

I get that people want to end their lives because of pain, etc.  But physicians?  Whatever happened to “first, do no harm?”  Make it legal if you must, not that anyone bent on suicide cares much for laws, but why involve physicians?

In case you missed it, that big yellow thing that hangs in the sky everyday is at it again.  Check out this news:

The sun has been completely spotless on 21 days in 2016 and it is currently featuring just one lonely sunspot region.  In fact, on June 4th of this year, the sun went completely spotless for the first time since 2011 and that quiet spell lasted for about four days.  Sunspot regions then reappeared for the next few weeks on a sporadic basis, but that was followed by several more completely spotless days on the surface of the sun.  The increasingly frequent blank sun is a sign that the next solar minimum is approaching and there will be an even greater number of spotless days over the next few years.  At first, the blankness will stretch for just a few days at a time, then it’ll continue for weeks at a time, and finally it should last for months at a time when the sunspot cycle reaches its nadir.  The next solar minimum phase is expected to take place around 2019 or 2020. The current solar cycle is the 24th since 1755 when extensive recording of solar sunspot activity began and is the weakest in more than a century with the fewest sunspots since cycle 14 peaked in February 1906.  One other note, the weak solar cycle and the expectation for continued low solar activity this upcoming winter is an important factor in this year’s colder-than-normal Winter Outlook for the Mid-Atlantic region.

The weakest cycle in a century promising a “colder-than-normal” winter for the world (China’s forecasting the same). Science. However, you can bet that somehow this unseasonably cold winter will be charged off to the ravages of man-made “climate change”, unless it is a warm winter which, of course, will be charged off to man-made “climate change” as well.  Ideological religion.

Meanwhile in the Socialist paradise of Venezuela, government has a solution to the food shortage.  Urban farming!  No, really.  And you know it’s going to work because they’ve even established a ministry to ensure it does.  No fooling – the Ministry of Urban Agriculture.  And the ministry has announced that there’s plenty of land for all city dwellers:

When the project was presented in February, the newly created Ministry of Urban Agriculture announced that 12,000 square kilometers — about 4,600 square miles — would be planted in the first 100 days. The government promised to invest $300,000 in seeds, equipment and educational projects, and to help with logistics.

Eight months later?

Eight months into the project, only 21 square kilometers (about 8 square miles) of land have been cultivated, according to the ministry.

On target with the Great Stumble Backwards!  Seems the Socialist big government blue model has to be reestablished every generation or so to prove it isn’t the people in charge that are the problem (although they are a problem) but the flawed model that defies human nature instead.  Bernie doesn’t approve this message.

And some things never change.

~McQ

 

Welcome to 2016

You know, I got to thinking about it over the holidays.  I needed a break.  I feel somewhat refreshed and ready to face a brand new shiny year that will, unfortunately, contain the same old political dreck … times 10, since it is a presidential election year.  As has been pointed out here, many times, we are woefully served by our political class.  And, frankly, that’s our fault.  Complain all you want about government and politicians, but the bottom line is, the incumbents continue to be reelected  and give away the farm and the bureaucrats continue to siphon off our freedoms through unaccountable fiefdoms imposing freedom killing regulations.

The one good thing this year brings is seeing the Obamas ushered out of the White House.  The two bad things are the front runners for president in each major party.  I’m sorry, I see no intrinsic leadership value in either of them.  One is a blowhard opportunist with no concept of how to do what he claims he can get done and the other is, plain and simple, a crook and a liar.  This is what present day presidential politics has come down to.  What a non-choice.

Well, that’s not true.  We always have a choice, don’t we?  Even if it is to do nothing.  And if those are the two running in November, that will be my choice.  But, as with just about everything to do with today’s political and the class of politicians we suffer, this is an old complaint and frankly, I see nothing on the horizon to change that.  The polity is who makes these decisions, and it appears, for the most part, they believe that the government has money and can give them “free” things.  The depth of ignorance, especially about basic economic principles and how government functions is appalling, but that’s with what we continue to deal.

I’ve decided I need to take a little more time with my posts than with last year.  So I’m going to attempt to rearrange my schedule to where I have more time to devote to them.  That may mean posting in the evening when the work day is done.  Or not … depends.  But what doesn’t “depend” is the desire to be less reactive, less prosaic and more thoughtful.  Anyone can be outraged (and I will be) and upset, but it’s time to do more than state that.  It’s time to talk about the whys and wherefores.  It’s time to talk about alternatives.  It is time to take a good look at this grand experiment and dissect it to find out where the pathogen introduced itself and began to corrupt the system.  My guess is it will mostly boil down to human nature, opportunity and the quest for power.

Anyway, that’s my desire for this year.  Hopefully, I’ll keep this in mind and not let myself wander into the rut I found myself in last year.

Welcome to 2016.  Let’s see how it goes.

~McQ

 

Prof. Erb feels put upon

Scott Erb commented in Bruce’s post, which is aptly titled, “Delusional”. Speaking of delusional, here is Prof. Erb’s comment. Ready it slowly. Caress it with your mind. Savor the overweening self-righteousness of it before I respond:

Apparently you choose to delete my replies rather than post them.  Not surprising.  You know I’m right and have predicted all this, and you aren’t honorable enough to post those statements.  OK – you’ll delete this too, I’m sure.  That proves to me that you know I’ve been right, and you’re too scared, chicken and dishonest to allow it on your website.  Thank God you don’t have the responsibility to teach or impact the next generation.  By deleting my posts you prove that you’re scared of the truth.   I pity you, but know that you’re passing – your way of thinking is of the past, and will soon be gone.  My way of thinking is winning the cultural war.  And you know it!  Thank you for admitting defeat by deleting my responses.  You’re scared of the truth!  It’s very satisfying that you decided to delete – that proves to me you know I’m right!  🙂

This is a serious accusation, and, as such, deserves a front-page response.

Dear Prof. Erb;

Delete this comment? Oh, no, I have no intention of doing that. Indeed, I am putting it out where everyone can see it.

In case you haven’t been reading the blog, we had to transfer the web site to a different hosting plan. I’ve been writing about it since Friday.

This transfer process means that the WordPress MySQL database containing all the content has to be exported. After that, the domain has to be transferred from the old IP Address to the new one, which starts the  process of propagating the server change to the Internet, worldwide, through the DNS system. As a result of this unavoidably lengthy process, several hours pass between the time the site content’s database is copied over and users are directed to the new web site. A lot of people who commented during this process also lost their comments, because those comments didn’t exist when the database was transferred to a new server. I left a post (still available until sometime tonight) at the top of the old site yesterday warning that this would happen. So, sadly, you’ll have to temper your satisfaction with the the knowledge that you were not, in fact, the victim of a nefarious scheme. I didn’t even know you had commented, and the loss of your–and everyone else’s–comments after yesterday morning was due entirely to the timing issues inherent in transferring an existing database-driven web site to a new web hosting system.

The truth is that neither Bruce nor I care enough about your turgid literary ejaculations to take the effort of going into the admin section, finding them, and deleting them. If either of us really cared about your doltish ramblings and their <sarcasm>devastating effects</sarcasm>, we’d simply ban you from commenting. That takes even less trouble than finding and deleting your moronic screeds, and we don’t even care enough about you to do that.  Why would you possibly think that, after years of freely allowing you to infest the comments section, we would pick those particular comments to delete? Perhaps you felt that they shone with particularly blinding beacons of your brilliance, to which our only possible response could be to delete them, before the shining rays of your genius corrupted our entire weltanschauung. If so, it must be particularly irksome to know that your uniquely gifted wisdom was lost due to unavoidable technical issues. Perhaps you should consult a professional about these feelings of persecution, though. Failing that, you might simply get over yourself.

Oh, and as a professor of business at an accredited, non-profit, 4-year university, I do, In fact, “teach or impact the next generation.”  Indeed, I have been employed in formal classroom instruction and curriculum development in the military, government, private industry, and academia since 1987. So, sadly, your academic superiority trump card, pathetic as it is, is certainly not applicable to me. Think of it: every term I have a new crop of students to “teach or impact”, as I toil away in the fields of academe. Where is your God now?

Your comments above amply demonstrate the monumentally smug self-regard and intellectual imperviousness to reality that causes so many of our commenters to react badly to you. Certainly, it usually causes me to spurn you as I would spurn a rabid dog. Happily, the self-importance and ignorance of your comment, coupled with its wildly inaccurate allegations, made it too precious to ignore. I would even go so far as to call it “classic Erb” in its grandiose wrongness in every material aspect.

By the way, why are you commenting here? I’m pretty sure you promised to go away and never come back a while ago. A man should keep his word. Anyway, if you had a shred of decency, and something more than a Rain Man-like grasp of human interaction, you’d apologize abjectly to me for this unfounded accusation.


Dale’s social media profiles:
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QandO is Alive

Welcome to the new QandO. The old site has passed away, and , with it, many maintenance headaches. For you, the user, the site should operate much faster, thanks to being transferred to a modern server, using modern technology.

Enjoy.

Also…first post!

Style Evolves

So, since we’re making changes, I thought I’d start with the blog theme. This new theme uses flat design, which all the kids are raving about now. It also implements responsive design, so, if you’re on a mobile device, you’ll no longer see the Apple Touch mobile theme. Now you’ll see the current blog template, which will happily reformat itself for your phone or tablet viewport.

You’re welcome.


Dale’s social media profiles:
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As David Bowie would say, “Ch-ch-ch-changes”

After a conference call this evening, we have decided to move QandO to a new Cloud Hosting plan.  This will remove the bandwidth restrictions we’ve been struggling with for the past month. It will also remove all of the legacy QandO content from 2004-2009. I have a an Excel file with all that old content, but I’m not sure what happens with it at this point. It might end up as one huge 12mb web page. I dunno. We’ll deal with that later. At any rate, I will restore all of the old podcasts, as well, since we’ll have substantially less restriction on storage space, and none at all on bandwidth. These changes will all be taking place over the next few days.

You, as a user, will see little change, except that the site should load substantially more quickly in the new environment.


Dale’s social media profiles:
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QandO at the Crossroads

We’ve been having a big problem at QandO.  The podcast, apparently, has gotten popular.  Under our old hosting plan, we had 400GB of bandwidth.  Last month, our bandwidth began to skyrocket, almost entirely due to podcast downloads.  That has continued this month, too. The excess bandwidth charges for exceeding the monthly bandwidth allowance are $4 per GB.

bandwidth

Essentially, we’ve gone from an average of about 8GB in bandwidth per day to 50GB per day.

This is complicated by the fact that the old version of QandO was created way back in 2004 using ASP.NET 1.1. It works great. Sadly, it’s no longer supported by Microsoft. Last month, when it became clear we were going to blow through our bandwidth allowance, I did two things:

First, I removed the Stitcher podcast player from all the Podcasting posts, to avoid drive-by downloads from the post page. Second, I worked with the web host and was able to upgrade to the last existing ASP.Net 1.1 Premier plan, with a 600GB bandwidth limit, to avoid the bandwidth charges. That costs me $37/mo. As it turned out, bandwidth for the last week of July fell back to normal, so we only went through 415GB, which would’ve been a $60 excess bandwidth charge for the month.

So, increasing the bandwidth limit to 600GB should be a fix, right? Well, this month, we have already burned through 275.15GB in 10 days. At this rate, we will blow through the monthly bandwidth limit around Aug 22.

So, if you are looking for a podcast that’s more than a week old, you won’t find it. I’ve deleted all the older ones. Obviously, that isn’t an optimal solution.

The real solution is to move QandO over to a modern Cloud Hosting environment, which has unlimited bandwidth, 10GB of file storage, and only costs $18 per month. But, the newer hosting plans do not support ASP.NET 1.1. Essentially, that means that everything we’ve written prior to 2009 would, for a while, at least, disappear.  I have the old legacy content in a big, honkin’ file, but it would take some time to restore the old content to a static HTML page. Ultimately, transferring that would be a lot of work.

In any event, while I’m happy the podcast is becoming more popular, it’s causing some problems with trying to reconcile a large chunk of legacy content with modern hosting solutions.

This is complicated by the fact that Jon Henke still owns the domain, so any changes to the server would require him to make the change at GoDaddy. Depending on how long that would take, moving to a new host could mean that QandO will go down for some period of time.

So,all of this is information for you to understand why the Podcast has no archives, and warning that QandO may have to go dark for a day or so if we change to a new hosting plan.


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An Introduction

Dear readers of QandO.

Hello.

I intended this to precede my musings on the Crimea, alas, Id10T error received by WordPress novice.

Normally you may see my…observations…in the comment section here, assuming you read the comment section, and assuming you read my comments.

After years of being ‘looker’  somehow my credibility would be increased (nay confirmed even!)  if I used my real name, at least, according to one particular person I shall not name (curse you Voldemort!).   On reflection perhaps ‘pain in the …’ would have been a better handle for me, but when I first commented, I was only  ‘looking’, hence ‘looker’.  That didn’t last long.

The proprietors have apparently had enough of my Irish whispers in the background and rather than show me the door, have decided that I should try and earn my keep instead.   So they’ve offered me the opportunity to stop merely being a wordy guest, and maybe do some actual work.

Trust me, I have now officially discovered writing allegedly coherent, if not thoughtful, pieces for presentation versus commenting ain’t the same thing.   My level of respect for those who do so daily has risen dramatically.

I would like to express my thanks to all the contributing authors, especially Dale and Bruce, for this opportunity.

As for everyone else, I am sorely tempted to warn you to flee while you may.

I don’t know what I’m doing here

I’ll level with you: I’m in a pretty negative mood about…well…everything. I’m not talking about big-picture stuff like the direction of the Republic, or the future of the economy. I’m talking about my life. I’ve gotten to the point that literally everything that happens outside the door to my house is a hateful burden. I just don’t seem to have a sense of purpose anymore.

I was looking back at the old QandO archives, and I noticed that, I used to write and post four or five different posts every day. Now, I post my little economic statistics posts, and I’m done. I just get no sense of joy or usefulness in blogging any more. It seems like it just takes up time, but offers no reward. No money, no recognition, nothing that makes blogging about politics worth my time. Sometimes, something especially interesting comes up, so once every other month or so, I write about it here, but that’s because by far the exception, rather than the rule. Blogging about politics just seems like a burden.

It’s all so pointless. We will never convince the majority of people to embrace liberty, instead of looking to government to be Mommy. At least not until government fails so badly that its incompetence is made clearly manifest. And even if that happens, I suspect that the majority of the electorate will look for a man on a white horse, rather than freedom, and the responsibility for their own lives. There’ll always be a cohort that thinks government could do everything for everyone if only the right people were running it. And, it seems, quite a lot of people will listen to them.

Arguing with progressives is pointless, too. It’s like arguing with people in a movie theater who won’t stop texting. It’s a waste of time to say anything to them, because if they had a shred of civility or decency, they wouldn’t be doing it in the first place. If you’re a Progressive, I just assume at this point that you’re too abysmally stupid to waste time with on reason or debate.

We talked about that in the podcast tonight. A podcast that maybe 200 people or so will listen to, despite the fact that it’s one of the oldest political podcasts in existence. I enjoy talking to Bruce and Michael, but, really, it just seems like a vanity exercise. Hardly anyone will listen to it. Is it worth interrupting my Sunday afternoon for 1.5 hours to record and post a podcast that no one cares about? I don’t know.

But really, it all goes much deeper than that. I suspect the root cause of my problem is that my professional life is hateful to me.

I work full-time as a software developer for a defense contractor. I hate it. I hate programming. I never wanted to do it for a living.  I got out of the air force in August, 1993 solely to get into radio. By December, I was the main daytime line producer for a 24-hour business and financial news station in Los Angeles. By April of 1994, I was the on-air anchor for four hours a day. The station management was a bunch of money-losing incompetents, however, and when they sold off 12 hours at night to a company that ran ethnic Chinese programming, I saw the handwriting on the wall. I bailed, and took a job running the training department of a software training and consulting company in Orange County. A year later, I was running the programming department. From there, a series of decisions that made sense at the time led me to the job I have today. I’m a highly-paid senior software developer who hates developing software. I have to think of an excuse every workday to go to work instead of calling in sick.

A few months ago, things seemed to be looking up. We did a bit of a re-org, and someone in each section got promoted to be the lead contractor and liaison with our DoD customer. I was appointed the lead contractor for my department. I was just starting to get into a couple of more interesting things, when, last month, my company hired an outside guy to lead my section, and sent me back to the prgramming ghetto, while all the other guys similarly promoted internally kept their jobs. I was told my technical skills were to valuable to lose to become a manager. So, once again, I’m just a code monkey, with no prospect of moving upwards.

I also have an LLC that does web development, and has kept Chris employed full-time since 2002. We just got a $20,000 contract with a major business to develop a web site. I know exactly what has to be done to do it successfully. I’m going to do it. And I’m going to hate every minute of it.

If I never wrote another line of code again, I wouldn’t miss it. At all. I’d feel nothing but relief.

I enjoy teaching, so the job I have that I really love is being an adjunct professor at a local college. But, of course, there are no full-time academic jobs available—and even if there was, I couldn’t afford to take the massive pay cut that teaching full-time would entail. So, I’m stuck at a job I loathe because I can’t afford to leave it. I still like writing, too, if not about politics. Writing about cars and motorcycles is something that I love doing. I enjoy spending a day or two with a new car or motorcycle and playing with it, and writing it up. But, of course, there’s no money in that either, even for people who do it full-time. Auto journalism is a low-paying career. I do—and have for years, done—photography and videography. I still love that. Occasionally, I get a job to do a photo or video shoot, or video editing job, but not enough to make it pay as a full-time career. I’d love to do radio again, but broadcasting doesn’t really pay the bills, either. It’s not nearly as high-paying a career as people think it is, unless you’re at the top of the profession. And with corporate consolidation, there’s no room for doing anything original anymore. Terrestrial radio is pretty much unlistenable as a result.

In short, everything I love is more or less professionally worthless to me, and the thing I hate—absolutely hate—is what pays the bills. This wasn’t the life a planned, and it’s certainly not the life I wanted. I think the disappointment of that is coloring everything else. I’m trapped in a career I despise, working for people I dislike, and I don’t see any way out. I still have a mortgage, and a family to feed, so I can’t just go off and start over in a new career from scratch.

Chris says most people hate their jobs. Maybe she’s right. Maybe I’m just hitting my mid-life crisis. I just know that I feel trapped and unhappy in my professional life, and I just can’t seem to work up any enthusiasm for a lot of things I used to love doing. I just feel so drained and dissatisfied at the end of the work day, I just want to go home, and watch TV or read, staying up as late as I possibly can, because I know that sleeping will just bring the next workday that much closer.

What I really want to do is sell my house in California, and move back to Texas.  With what we would make on our current house, I could buy a house outright there, and pay off the rest of our debt, besides. That would take a huge amount of financial pressure off me, and maybe give me some space to do more things that I would enjoy as a profession. But, for a variety of reasons I can’t go into right now, that doesn’t appear to be an option.

So I feel trapped in a career that I absolutely loathe, but that I can’t escape. Every workday, I wake up, and the first thought of every single day is that all I want to do is spend the day with Chris, my dogs, my reading, and my writing, and tell the rest of the world to go to hell. Every morning, I know that literally nothing I do at work today will provide me with any positive feeling at all.  I’ll just endure it, as I always do. And if everything goes as well as it possibly can, I’ll just get another chance to endure it tomorrow.

This may not be an entirely healthy attitude.


Dale’s social media profiles:
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Style Evolves

I dunno, I just thought I’d dial it back a notch on the text size. Swap over to a san-serif text font. Go with a more responsive web design for tablets and whatnot. Generally just monkey around with it a bit. Still keep it really simple and text-based, though.


Dale’s social media profiles:
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