Fuzzy Curmudgeon

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Date registered: Monday, 22 December 2014 18:31

Latest posts

  1. Finally. — Tuesday, 24 September 2019 17:44
  2. Childrens’ Crusades always end in tears — Tuesday, 24 September 2019 13:54
  3. The stupid, it burns. — Friday, 20 September 2019 11:57
  4. Sheila Jackson Lee is an idiot…but I repeat myself. — Tuesday, 17 September 2019 17:37
  5. Never forget. — Wednesday, 11 September 2019 10:10

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Finally.

Change of Heart: Pelosi Sets House on Road to Impeachment

Bring it on, bitch.  Bring it on.

And lose it all in 2020.

In fairness, not that I owe her any, she has no choice; it’s either this, or lose control of the process and the House to the young Turks who are scratching at her ankles.

But she’ll probably lose that, too, before it’s over.

Childrens’ Crusades always end in tears

Author Declan Finn posted this image on Facebook this morning in regard to the little Swedish meathead who addressed the UN yesterday.  Of course the image was almost immediately removed by Fascistbook’s censorbots.

While it’s a shame that the ubiquitous social media platform of our day is wholly-owned by the left-wing progressive movement and isn’t interested in hearing or seeing opinions that run counter to its narrative/dogma, that’s not really what this post is about.

The Children’s Crusade in 1212 is not well-attested, other than by a few lines found in various and sundry church chronicles of the age.  What seem to be the facts are that two young men, one in Germany and one in France, caught the Crusading fever (possibly through visions of Jesus Christ) and managed to get tens of thousands of youths to follow them on an abortive attempt to reach the Holy Land.  This attempt appears by all accounts to have ended in Italy, where these thousands of children were in actuality sold to slave merchants and either ended up in Tunisia or died in shipwrecks in the Mediterranean Sea.

In effect, the Children’s Crusade ended in tears for all involved.*

Lately, progressives have latched onto the idea that crying children (or at least, children who have an axe to grind) make great ambassadors for the ideas they can’t seem to get over to the great unwashed American public.  We have seen David Hogg, survivor of the Parkland massacre who was turned into a Nazi-like caricature by anti-gun groups and sent out on the road to stump for gun control that as anyone who has any sense knows would not have stopped what happened at Parkland.  This nasty little child was and continues to be exploited by the progs, who suppose him to be a great weapon in the march to supplant the Second Amendment and put an end to “gun culture” in the US, but who seem more to be handing the GOP an in-kind donation to the Trump 2020 campaign every time he opens his mouth — which, thankfully, seems to be happening less often as his 15 minutes expire.

Then comes the 9-year-old whose wholly-inaccurate study of what happens to plastic straws after they are discarded was seized upon by the progs to…to…stop Americans from using plastic straws?  Because plastic straws are floating into the oceans of the world and creating some ill-defined havoc for sea life or some shit?  The only problem with this bold statement being that the blame being placed on Americans for this was quickly debunked after an actual scholarly study was released showing that 90% of the plastic in the oceans today emanates from just ten river systems in Africa and Asia — five of which originate in China.**

Of course, some of that waste may well be American trash that was sent to China or other countries to be recycled, but that still doesn’t place blame on Americans — it places blame on recyclers in those countries who decided it wasn’t economical to recycle waste plastics anymore, so they simply dumped them in places where the plastic was able to make its way into the rivers and thence to the sea.***

And yet, in some places today, BY LAW, you can’t get a plastic straw with which to drink your soda because of that 9-year-old’s wholly-inaccurate “study”.  Never mind the ACTUAL study that was done that debunks it.  Again, every time folks can’t get a straw to drink their soda at a fast-food joint, the progs think they are winning — but they’re not.  It’s just another in-kind donation to the Trump 2020 campaign.

So finally, we reach the epitome (to date) of “it’s for the children!” progressive nutbaggery:  Swedish meathead, er, teenager Greta Thunberg, in whose honor the above photo was shared by our friend Declan Finn on Facebook, only to see it censored away because swastika bad.

Ms. Thunberg is a very pissed-off young girl who has been fed a head-full of mush by adults regarding the soi-disant “climate crisis”.  She has become so outspoken on the issue (and in placing blame on adults for fucking up her future by not doing anything about this non-existent “crisis”) that she has managed to lead a Children’s Crusade of her own, in the form of something called a “school strike for climate”, which she has been doing on Fridays back home in Sweden for some time now, and has inspired “millions” of students world-wide to do the same.  Apparently some hundreds of American children heeded her call to play hooky on a Friday back in August and marched with her on the UN in New York for something most of them don’t actually understand, but figured what the hell, we get to cut school to do this.

Yet her head remains full of mush, as Gregory Wrightstone notes at PJ Media (see the link above for “school strike for climate”):

She did admit that “I am not a scientist. I don’t have the proper education.” She is quite correct in that regard. It is not just that she is blissfully ignorant of many climate facts, but what she does supposedly know is just so wrong. If she were to return to the classroom, her lessons should serve to calm her fears.

Wrightstone goes on to explain that there several strongly-held climate dogma “facts” that simply aren’t true, like:

  • The fact that there has been no warming since little Greta was born
  • Excess CO2 is actually fueling plant growth and making the Earth more “green”
  • Warming periods throughout history have actually been the best times for human prosperity and advancement
  • Cold weather kills 20 times more people than hot weather
  • Clean-burning fossil fuels like natural gas used for home heating in developing countries rather than wood- or dung-fueled fireplaces would save an estimated 1.6 million people from fatal respiratory illnesses related to using such primitive fuels
  • Higher costs for energy produced by “renewable” sources actually would hurt poor people more than rich people.

But as he says, since she’s not in school to learn these lessons, she continues her demagoguery through mush-headed ignorance.

And of course, who stands to benefit from little Greta’s temper tantrums over climate?  Why, the Climate Industrial Complex, of course.  The usual suspects.

Predictably, the best response, hands-down, to little Greta’s bitchy UN speech yesterday came from the expected corner:

This seems like a calm, measured approach from a seasoned parent to a teenaged brat, to me.

As for the people who are shocked, shocked that the President of the United States would administer the equivalent of a smack to the face to this sweet, young, earnest, bitchy brat, and believe that she should be accorded immunity from such things by virtue of her tender years, I can only say this: You can’t play the “she’s just a kid, stop criticizing her” card when the kid has stepped up to the table under her own power**** (or so we are led to believe).  Like David Hogg, she has been given a bully pulpit by progressives who see in her only a means to an end, and she will be dropped like an old rag doll as soon as she is no longer useful to them.

Now, I will also say that even given all of the above, and for all that I am a grouchy, aging curmudgeon who believes firmly that the world will end when he dies, I do care about the future that we’re leaving to our children and grandchildren.  All of this political theatre and climate religion being promulgated by progressives does not advance that future one single whit. Indeed, it endangers both our Republic and the civilization our Republic is supposed to stand for and protect.

So let’s sum up.

We don’t need socialism. Socialism killed millions of people over the last century. It’s still killing people today, all over the world. And you can tell that it’s a failure because its proponents keep trying to export their failed revolutions to the rest of the world. Putin. Xi. Maduro. And the list goes on and on, and includes all of the current Democratic candidates for President, as well as all the supposed “Democratic” socialists in our halls of Congress.

We don’t need gun control.  Indeed, we need more guns, in the hands of well-meaning people who will use them for self-defense.  Progressives have been trying to take our guns away for decades, claiming that as soon as we give them up, all this crime and nastiness will cease.  We know that’s not true, because we can see all around the world where people have been disarmed, crime (including gun crime) continues at high levels.  “An armed society is a polite society,” said Robert A. Heinlein, and we have not to date seen any evidence that he was incorrect in his assertion.  Naturally, progressives don’t really want to stop crime by taking guns away; they want to stop our freedom by taking guns away.  “If their ballots aren’t secured by arms, they’re worthless,” says the protagonist in H. Beam Piper’s 1962 SF novel Space Viking.

We don’t need climate religion. The US has done more than any other country in the world to reduce its carbon footprint. Yet progressives continue to hector us about reducing it even further, to the point where we simply would not have enough power to run our modern civilization. And they do this while conveniently ignoring the fact that China continues to dump several times more crap into the air than any other country in the world. And also while conveniently ignoring the studies that have completely debunked things like the “hockey stick” and the idea that the IPCC estimates of temperature rise over the next century are based on models that don’t actually reflect reality.

We don’t need kids telling how to run the world.  For instance, we don’t need them to tell us to stop using plastic straws because they are floating out into the ocean and causing some sort of ill-defined havoc. It isn’t the United States dumping all of that crap into its rivers that lead into the oceans — it’s (again) mostly China, but also other third-world countries, that are responsible for that pollution. Telling me I can’t have a plastic straw to sip my drink does absolutely zero to alleviate that problem. So there’s another kid who can kiss my lily-white patrician ass.

For another instance, Greta Thunberg and her “how dare you ruin this world for me” speech to the sycophants at the UN yesterday.  Fuck off and go home, little girl, and go back to school to learn something useful instead of continuing to churn that toxic proggie mush through your grey matter.

But if I don’t care about any of that, I don’t care about the children. According to the progressives, anyway, who’ve proven over and over that they only pretend to care about children when it gains them political capital. The fact is, as I have already said, I do care about the children…a lot more than the progs do, it seems.

And I’ll predict their current Children’s Crusade, like the ones before it, whether or not it succeeds, will only end in tears.  The question is, who will be doing the crying?

God grant it’s the progs.

____________

* Indeed, it probably wasn’t a crusade at all (certainly was not a “proclaimed” crusade, so it lacked any official sanction of the Church), but rather may have been a general migration of people from Germany and France into the Mediterranean lands, from which the tale of a visionary youngster leading thousands of children on a crusade was spun.

** And by the way, what about all the other plastic generated by American fast food outlets?  The to-go lids, the plastic cutlery, the Styrofoam containers (doubly-evil!), etc., etc., ad nauseum?  I suppose that all magically disappears somewhere, leaving only the straws.  (Yes, damn it, my tongue is FIRMLY imbedded in my cheek as I type this.)

*** Sorry, but I don’t buy the bullshit that says “It’s Americans’ fault for generating all that trash and then sending it overseas to be disposed of.”  Fuck you if you think this, because you’re wrong.  The overseas recyclers bought that trash from us, hoping to make big money off of it.  It’s not our fault that the actual economics of plastic recycling make doing so unprofitable for them.

**** Progressives have a real problem with the idea that you can’t have it both ways, e.g., either Trump is the biggest idiot in the world or he’s playing seven-level galactic kriegspiel with every move he makes.

Which, by the way, is what they’ve said about every Republican president since Nixon.

The stupid, it burns.

Damn it, another day, yet another fucking idiot to make fun of.

Last week, a Native American botanist argued that the genetic modification of crops is a form of rape. Perhaps the next step in the #MeToo movement involves returning to the low crop yields before the Green Revolution, which saved billions of lives by making food more available through genetic modification, among other things.

Robin Wall Kimmerer, a botanist, member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, and director of the Center for Native Peoples and the Environment at SUNY-Syracuse, called corn “one of our deepest and oldest relatives.” In an interview with Wisconsin Public Radio, she humanized corn as the “Corn Mother,” saying, “Corn is sacred because she gives us her children in return for protecting us.”

Kimmerer wasn’t talking about the sweet corn Americans love to eat today, but rather the Native corn that comes in hundreds of varieties. She contrasted this wild corn with the genetically modified corn her neighbor grows.

“There’s a word for forcible injection of unwanted genes,” Kimmerer said. “Rape.”

There’s also a word for people who try to anthropomorphize non-sentient plants:  Fucking idiots.

OK, that’s a phrase, not a word, but same difference.

We eat well today, and so does much of the rest of the world — including the shitholes that used to bury millions who suffered and died from malnutrition and plain old starvation — mainly because of one man who sparked the Green Revolution mentioned above:  Norman Borlaug.

What blows my mind is that the whole idea of genmodding crops is only a step removed from the old ways of farming for greater yields, which involved things like culling, grafting, and selective breeding — all of which changed the genetic makeup of crops over thousands of years so that we actually have the non-GM crops we have today.

Wheat was just a grass.  Corn (maize) was also just a grass.  Vegetables we take for granted today like cauliflower, broccoli, and others of the family of Cruciferous vegetables, are all descended from the humble mustard plant.

And none of them got where they are today without someone — a lot of someones — selectively breeding them for desired qualities, including the size of the “ear”, that is, the seeds.  Wheat originally had little gluten content, but modern strains have lots of it.  Borlaug himself created high-yield strains of wheat by crossbreeding existing strains and combining their qualities — he might take one strain known to produce large ears, and another strain known to be resistant to some particular disease or fungus that was plaguing the first strain, and combine them until he had a new strain that had both large ears and disease resistance.

Genmod simply takes the ancient practices and goes a little deeper.  We get things like golden rice that way, which saves millions of Third World children from vitamin A deficiencies and prevents them from going blind.  We also get wheat that is resistant to stem rust that way.

So as the article continues,

Wisconsin Public Radio noted that the sweet corn “has been altered by agribusiness,” but the article did not mention the role genetically modified corn has played in the Green Revolution, which has been credited with saving 1 billion lives and averting the doomsday prediction of Paul Ehrlich’s The Population Bomb.

[snip]

The Green Revolution combined genetic modification with new fertilizers and agro-chemicals, controlled water supply, and new mechanical cultivation. These new methods may strike an advocate for native practices as strange or even barbaric, but they saved more than a billion people across the world.

Those who wish to see corn as a sacred “Corn Mother” represent a return to the ancient animistic view of the world. Treating plants as sentient beings may sound hip and “progressive,” but Kimmerer’s rejection of genetic modification is backward, and it could be dangerous. Would she really want to reverse the Green Revolution and bring back pre-modern levels of starvation?

Well, I don’t know, but she sure sounds like she would.  There sure isn’t any going back without condemning millions of people to starvation and death.

People with this level of Luddism and idiocy are dangerous, and really need to be removed from positions of influence and authority before they do actual harm.  Sadly, they’ll probably stay right where they are for years, and continue to sell their brand of stupid to successive classes of mush-for-brains college students.  We can only hope that they’ll shake it off in later life and realize how fortunate they are to live in a modern age where most of us don’t have to worry about food shortages, famine, and starving to death.

Sheila Jackson Lee is an idiot…but I repeat myself.

Sheila Jackson Lee, you are an idiot, a poseur, and a disgrace to the House of Representatives — insofar as anything can disgrace it further. You have proven you know nothing:

“I don’t know what else it takes but I don’t believe we can stop at the door of the United States House. I believe there will have to be an emergence of members of the House flooding the United States Senate for Senator McConnell to understand that these initiatives today, my gun storage bill, my bill that I’ve introduced dealing with the caliber weapon, I’ve held an AR-15 in my hand, I wish I had it. It is as heavy as 10 boxes that you might be moving and the bullet that is utilized, a .50-caliber, these kinds of bullets need to be licensed and do not need to be on the street.”

  • An AR-15 is “as heavy as 10 boxes you might be moving.” What? Clearly Ms. Jackson Lee has never moved house by herself before. Or she’s talking about 10 shoeboxes. Or smaller.  (Someone in the comments to that linked article suggested 10 one-pound boxes of cocaine…which would still be about three pounds heavy.)
  • The bullet “is a .50-caliber”. No. It’s a 5.56mm. .223 caliber if you really want to be a stickler.  Yeah, you can buy a .50cal upper for an AR-pattern weapon.  It doesn’t shoot the .50BMG like the Ma Deuce, it shoots .50 Beowulf, which is usually used as a feral hog cartridge, or so I’m told.  By and large, citizen owners of the AR-15 don’t have that mod, anyway, and aren’t interested in using it for home defense — I hope.
  • Jackson Lee first calls whatever rifle she’s talking about “the caliber weapon”. This is like Carolyn McCarthy calling the AR’s folding stock “the shoulder thing that goes up.”

These stupid statements show that she knows nothing whatsoever about the firearm she is trying to ban. Which is pretty sad, when you get right down to it. Ignorance of these things shows that she is a knee-jerk statist gun banner who doesn’t care that the vast, vast, VAST majority of AR-15 rifles in private hands in this country have never been used for any illegal purpose. I mean, read this for more illogic and “must protect phoney baloney job” rhetoric:

“We’re at a domestic crisis and it’s toxic and it’s combined with hatred and besides the toxicity of hate, we have guns, and we cannot wait any longer,” she said. “We’re good people in Texas but we’re frightened and so what I’m hearing from people is they are frightened, that they believe they cannot live in this kind of status and definition of what Texas is.”

“We cannot wait any longer.” Right. Like Glenn Reynolds said after Sandy Hook,

“When people say things like ‘don’t let this moment pass without acting on gun control,’ what they’re really saying is our arguments are so unpersuasive that they can only succeed when people aren’t thinking clearly.

And I’d like to see her get her Dumbs through the Senate’s sergeant at arms to “flood the Senate”. If I were Mitch McConnell, I’d have the Capitol Police up there ready to arrest any of them who try.

Citizens of Texas, you need to rid yourselves of this hideously stupid boil on the ass of the body politic. And that, soon.

And Ms. Jackson Lee?  Your constituents (and many other patriotic Americans) have long had a saying (though I have it on reliable authority that the Spartans said it first):  Come and take them.

We dare you.  Because we know you don’t have the guts to do it yourself, any more than Xerxes did at Thermopylae.

Never forget.

H/T.

Why I like Donald Trump

This is kind of a difficult post to write, because I can recall a time when I was ardently in the NeverTrumper camp.  That ended after Cruz bailed out, but I’ve written about that before.  And my liking for Trump has grown and faded ever since.  But there are some fundamentals that speak to why I support him.

The thing I like about Trump is that he doesn’t pretend to be something he isn’t. He is no great exemplar of moral rectitude and doesn’t pretend to be. He’s a sinner like the rest of us.  He makes no bones about the fact that he’s been bankrupt in the past. He doesn’t apologize for past mistakes because when he can, he makes them right.

He seems honestly to want things to be better for everyone in America, and I’m willing to believe that he thinks a strong and secure America means a stronger and more secure world at large.  A rich America means a richer world.  A free America means a freer world.  He would not come out, as Reagan did, and call America a shining city on a hill, but he doesn’t have Reagan’s sense of poetry.  That said, he knows that American greatness doesn’t mean that America wants to run the world, but rather, wants to be the example for the rest of the world to follow.

More to the point, he doesn’t tend to bullshit. Yeah, every time he tweets, the world cringes. Even the WSJ has a fit because he has no filter for his tweets. But while I still cringe from time to time, I’ve learned that the tweets have a purpose — they almost always contain a kernel of truth that the opposition misses when they go off on him. Leading to the ability of people on the right to respond, “Well, actshually…..”  Which freaks the opposition out even more.

Even his threats of tariffs are just tools in his toolbox.  He threatens 25% tariffs on certain Chinese imports one minute, then the next minute he says he’s delaying some of those tariffs because he doesn’t want to see prices go up on items Americans will want to purchase for Christmas.  But the threat of the tariff being imposed remains.  And the Chinese economy gets a fresh infusion of FUD.  Make no mistake, this is not Trump being capricious — this is Trump being a businessman who understands the art of negotiation, and moreover the use of the iron fist hidden by the velvet glove.  He can hurt the Chinese a lot more than the Chinese can hurt us — and he already has.  Foreign companies are beginning to move production away from China.  Some of that production is merely moving to countries in Southeast Asia, but some of it is moving back to the United States.  China can massage its GDP numbers as much as it wants (and play games with its currency as well), but the numbers they have been reporting for years are impossibly high, and now they are dropping, if not like a rock, then significantly more than the Party is comfortable with.

Worse for China, production is leaving not only due to the tariff threat, but also because of ongoing intellectual property theft (to complaints of which the Chinese government barely pays lip service), shoddy workmanship if the foreign company doesn’t literally stand over its Chinese partner doing its own QC, rising prices as Chinese workers demand more compensation, and so forth.  A lot of companies have clearly had disengagement with China on the back burner for a while, because it’s not just something they’re talking about, it’s something that is really happening.  Hasbro has been moving production out of China to Vietnam.  Home Depot has reported that a lot of their products are no longer being made in China.  In 2013 the NYT ran an article about textile manufacturing returning to South Carolina:

Bayard Winthrop, the founder of the sweatshirt and clothing company American Giant, was at the mill one morning earlier this year to meet with his Parkdale sales representative. Just last year, Mr. Winthrop was buying fabric from a factory in India. Now, he says, it is cheaper to shop in the United States. Mr. Winthrop uses Parkdale yarn from one of its 25 American factories, and has that yarn spun into fabric about four miles from Parkdale’s Gaffney plant, at Carolina Cotton Works.

Mr. Winthrop says American manufacturing has several advantages over outsourcing. Transportation costs are a fraction of what they are overseas. Turnaround time is quicker. Most striking, labor costs — the reason all these companies fled in the first place — aren’t that much higher than overseas because the factories that survived the outsourcing wave have largely turned to automation and are employing far fewer workers.

And while Mr. Winthrop did not run into such problems, monitoring worker safety in places like Bangladesh, where hundreds of textile workers have died in recent years in fires and other disasters, has become a huge challenge. “When I framed the business, I wasn’t saying, ‘From the cotton in the ground to the finished product, this is going to be all American-made,’ ” he said. “It wasn’t some patriotic quest.”

Instead, he said, the road to Gaffney was all about protecting his bottom line.

That simple, if counterintuitive, example is changing both Gaffney and the American textile and apparel industries.

These companies are not alone, and the writing has indeed been on the wall for a while.

Of course not all of this is due directly to Donald Trump and his tariffs (and his general attitude about China — refreshing to see a president actually go to bat for American business vs. a Communist regime), because the relationship between China and Western manufacturers has been abusive for quite some time, but a lot of it happening right now probably is connected to Trump.  Corporations can see the writing on the wall, and they don’t like uncertainty.  So they’re taking the leap, and other countries in SE Asia who are afraid of China’s 500-pound gorilla in the South China Sea are benefiting from that.  And since it is expensive to move production around like that, China can pretty much kiss all that business goodbye forever.  So far, advantage Trump and advantage America.

Trump also has a great handle on Kim Jong Un, not to mention Vladimir Putin, and if he really does start talks with Iran over a rewritten nuclear “deal”, you can undoubtedly rest assured that it will be a Trump-style “deal” and not an Obama disaster.

The only thing Trump hasn’t done that I wish he had, was he should have popped Emmanuel Macron right in the fucking kisser for being an asshole at the G7 this week.  If he had, I’d have been all like

So anyway.  That’s why I like Donald Trump.

God help me.

“But bus ridership will catch on, we swear it will!”

Albuquerque is not the only place sooper-dooper bus systems are having issues. You’d think in LA, the bus would be a great way to avoid traffic. Not so much.

As Bus Ridership Plummets in Los Angeles, Efforts to Boost It Hit Speed Bumps

Arianna Williams spends 90 minutes each way riding the bus about 10 miles to her job in a hair salon.

The commute is particularly frustrating when she considers about how long it would take by car: about half an hour.

“It’s crazy, the number of times I’ve been on the bus and thought, ‘I could’ve been there three times by now,'” the 36-year-old said while inching along Wilshire Boulevard, one of Los Angeles’s largest thoroughfares, on a recent morning.

Bus ridership in America’s second-largest city is plummeting as more commuters, fed up with journeys that can be painfully slow due to frequent stops and indirect routes, use growing incomes from the healthy economy to buy a car. The switch saves them time but worsens the overall traffic that buses are caught in, making buses even less appealing to the remaining riders.

And don’t try to tell me that the Red Line is a direct route from the north side to downtown and won’t be affected this way. That’s BS of the highest order being flogged by IndyGo; buses will end up being stuck in traffic no matter what you do, and stealing lanes from automobile traffic for fancy stations isn’t going to solve any actual traffic problem.

Shoot, I lived in a town that had (at the time) a reasonably-working subway system that wasn’t affected by surface traffic, and my trip to work, which took half an hour in a car on the DC Beltway even when it was being repaved, took at least an hour on the DC Metro with a train change at Metro Center. Yes, I had to go all the way downtown from the northern Maryland suburbs to go all the way back out to the eastern Maryland suburbs. Needless to say, I rarely if ever took the Metro to work.

What this is really about, though, is not simply increasing ridership, but forcing the public to change its behavior against its will.

“It’s too easy to drive in this city,” said Phil Washington, the chief executive of LA Metro. “We want to reach the riders that left and get to the new ones as well. And part of that has to do with actually making driving harder.”

(…)

Those types of changes would require a shift in many Angelenos’ attitudes toward the road, which Mr. Washington said city leaders need to try to make happen.

“Sometimes you have to tell people what’s good for them,” he said.

With all due respect, Mr. Washington, you are an un-elected, rent-seeking fascist who badly needs to be run out of town on a rail.

(I’m not logged in and I could read the entire article, but if you get stuck at the paywall and have a chance to grab a WSJ on dead tree, it’s on page A3 of yesterday’s (Monday’s) edition.)

Look, I’m no Luddite, but…

Indeed I stand about as far from Luddism as one can do, but there are some aspects of “progress” that aren’t so much “progress” as “pains in the ass”.

This morning, I started looking for an electronic in-wall timer switch to replace the wind-up variety that’s currently running our front hall bathroom fan.  The old one (a 15-minute timer) is getting stuck at 4 minutes almost every time it gets used, suggesting that the spring is wearing out.  Of course there is no way to fix the old one short of replacing it, like any other electrical device you might find in a box in your walls.  So I thought, rather than putting in another spring-loaded one, I’d look to see if I could get one that works like the electronic dimmers and fan controls we have in other rooms, where you turn it on, choose a light level or fan speed that you prefer, and then ever afterward (unless you explicitly make a change) that’s where the light or fan comes on when you click the button.

I found such an animal for bathroom fans:  The Lutron MA-T51, a 60-minute timer with settings of 5-10-15-30-45-60 minutes.  A bit spendy but I expected that.  I have a few of their dimmers and fan controls already, they’re pretty good stuff.  So far, so good.

Now, in our house, we have mostly “ivory” colored switches and receptacles.  We have a few white ones in a couple of areas that were redecorated recently with dark panels and white-painted trim, but the house was built with ivory devices and that’s what we’ve generally replaced broken or worn-out ones with over the years.

It turns out that “ivory” isn’t cool anymore, even though when you walk into Home Depot or Lowe’s or just about any big-box hardware, your default choices tend to be ivory, white, and black.  No, the MA-T51 timer switch, same as the rest of Lutron’s Maestro line, is available in something like 25 different colors, for all y’all who are sensitive to minor interruptions in your taupe or plum or “greenbriar” or “palladium” living room color scheme.  And ivory is NOT the default, although it does appear to be one of the less-expensive variants.

Oh, did I mention?  The fancy colors are more expensive.  And certainly that forces the price of the “standard” color variants up, because instead of just manufacturing three colors and keeping the price point low, suddenly you’re manufacturing 25 colors and economies of scale get defenestrated.  And the “cheap” ivory or white or black model that most people are going to buy ends up carrying some of the load for the special color models that almost certainly lose money.

I will be the last person to say that rich fuckers who can afford over-priced interior decorators can’t have color-coordinated switches and receptacles and dimmers and timers.  But when I want a no-nonsense standard color device that I think in fairness ought to cost about $20, and I have to pay $34 for it because the company that makes it has decided to kowtow to a custom market that frankly barely exists outside of a certain cohort, that pisses me off.

And on top of that, do the local big box hardware stores carry this simple item, even in standard colors?  Fuck no.  “Ship to store”.  Because hardware stores don’t actually carry anything you really want in stock anymore.  They can’t afford to.  They stick this sort of thing in a big regional warehouse somewhere (with Home Depot it appears to be in Ohio, based on the one and only “ship to store” order I’ve placed with them) and then they take a week to 10 days to get it to you.  I’m sure this is in an attempt to compete with Amazon while still maintaining big local stores for “basic” items.*

The problem is, I can get the MA-T51-IV timer switch I want TOMORROW from Amazon if I order within the next hour.  Home Depot says it will take five to six days, so effectively, next week rather than soon enough that I can install it this weekend.  And I have to go to the store to pick it up ($34 doesn’t reach the $45 threshold for free delivery to my home, and I don’t need anything else from HD today.)

The price points being equal, which am I going to do?  Well, duh.

This does not seem to me to be how brick-and-mortar competes with Amazon.  And it’s annoying that every.fucking.time I look something up on Home Depot’s or Lowe’s’ websites, I get told “not in store, can ship to store or deliver to home”.  My needs are not that esoteric.  But the dirty little secret is that big box hardware stores have turned into glorified appliance and decorating stores.  Walk into one and look at how much space is devoted to kitchen and bathroom remodeling, not to mention floor tile and custom blinds and custom doors and windows you can order.  Consider how much actual hardware they could display in those spaces.  And then understand that the dirty little secret is, these stores can’t afford to keep merchandise that doesn’t move on the shelves.  We live in an era of “just in time” logistics.  It is no longer the era of the corner hardware store that had everything, and crammed it all into a double-wide strip center storefront, where you could walk in and find that left-handed whatzit you need (probably blowing the dust off of it when you found it, and finding a price tag from the 1960’s).  Or even the era of the corner hardware store that had everything and crammed it all into an even bigger space (ah, how I miss you, True Value Hardware at 86th and Ditch).

In those days, if you wanted a kitchen appliance, or custom blinds or cabinets, they’d tell you to go to someplace that sold those things.  But you knew that anyway, because places like HH Gregg and Sears and JC Penney still existed.  (Well, Penneys still exists, but who knows for how much longer, and I don’t think they sell appliances anymore.)

Today all that has shifted to “one stop shopping” as has so much else in our lives; and if we need something that is even slightly out of the ordinary, sorry, we don’t have it, but we can get it for you.

I remain unconvinced that we are better off for it.

LATER:  As it turns out, fuck ’em all.  I found the spare Intermatic mechanical timer I bought when the plastic knob on the one in the master bath broke and I couldn’t find a replacement part.  I knew it was around here somewhere but it got buried in my office.

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* Wal-Mart, for what it’s worth, does the same thing with a variety of items, including grocery.  We prefer the Peter Pan brand of peanut butter, specifically the 1/3 less sugar “whipped” variety.  They used to carry it on the shelf, the only grocery in our area that did, and then one day, boom, it was off the shelf and in the warehouse.  So we order it six jars at a time now, for pickup at our local Wal-Mart, and it takes a week to get there.  As long as we keep track of our stock and order when we have a couple of jars left, we’re fine.  But I question whether this is truly good customer service.  (On the other hand, it’s Wal-Mart.)

63

She would have been 63 years old today.  And undoubtedly still beautiful.

For a change, her birthday fell on the weekend, so I was able to go visit her grave and leave a rock.  My very understanding wife went with me and did the same.

And then we had Shapiro’s for lunch.

Miss you, lady.  Miss you lots.

It’s not a gun-control debate.

I have to say that I’m really tired of the reaction to these mass shootings being framed as a gun control debate. For instance, today’s WSJ dead-tree headline, “Trump Visits Grieving Cities As Gun-Control Debate Boils.”

It’s not a gun control debate, damn it, it’s a mental health debate.  And it’s high time we recognized that.

Murder is already illegal, and has been in Western society for millennia. There are a billion (pardon my hyperbole) gun control laws already on the books. The problem is that laws are made for the law-abiding; someone who’s decided that the answer is to shoot up crowds of people doesn’t care about your gun control or homicide laws. For them, such laws are no deterrent, because they don’t think far enough ahead to the punishment for what they’re going to do. (They may indeed not care because they are really looking for suicide by cop.)

So far as I recall, every mass shooter in recent history has had mental issues that were well-known to those around them before they went root-toot-toot. The Parkland massacre (just to pick one) was the result of multiple failures of law enforcement (and, frankly, of the educational establishment) to prevent that kid from getting his hands on a gun and shooting up that school. They all knew he was a loose cannon, they just felt constrained by some idiotic set of rules and guidelines from doing anything proactively to stop him.

The real problem is that we don’t institutionalize the obviously mentally-ill in our society anymore. I blame Ronald Reagan for that, incidentally. We have a homeless crisis because the federal government in the 1980’s suddenly decided it was too expensive to pay for non-violent mental cases to be institutionalized. So what happened? They all got turned out into the streets, and states started taking a harder look at what it took to get someone put away for mental issues, even if they could be deemed a danger to themselves and others, because all of a sudden that was coming out of the states’ pockets.

You can (and by “you”, I mean, “Democrats”) sidetrack the discussion into gun control all you want, but let’s look at the facts:

  • Every one of these mass shooters broke the law before they ever pulled the trigger. Even the guy in California who bought his gun legally in Nevada when he was a resident there (he brought a gun into California that was illegal to possess in California).
  • Every one of these mass shooters was known to someone as being “off,” but nobody ever did anything about it, or if they tried, they were told there was really nothing that could be done. Go all the way back to Columbine and that’s the truth.  These people don’t come out from under rocks, they do not appear ex nihilo, they are known to other people around them who are already aware that there’s just something not right about them.
  • There’s considerable evidence that the massive publicity afforded mass shooters after the fact encourages other potential mass shooters who are looking for their 15 minutes of fame. For years, experts have been saying the media needs to stop giving these mental cases any sort of publicity — don’t run pictures or video of them, don’t identify them by name, focus on the victims and not the perpetrator, let the perpetrator rot without any sort of recognition at all. But the media won’t listen, because they know if it bleeds, it leads.

But as long as we allow the left-wing media and the Democrats to frame this as a gun-control debate, we’re not going to fix any of that. And the blood-letting will continue, unabated, regardless of whether or not you violate my 2nd Amendment rights more than you already are.  The shooters don’t give a damn about your gun control laws, and they just keep proving it. Meantime, you keep trying to limit my ability to shoot back and defend myself. And that’s not right.

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