Tuesday, November 24, 2015

US Representative Rick Nolan Is Economic Moron

Upper Midwest papers are carrying the news that US Representative Rick Nolan, a Democrat from Crosby, Minnesota, will introduce legislation prohibiting the import of  foreign steel into the US for five years. This is in response to the idling of several taconite plants in northern Minnesota and the consequent lay-offs of personnel.

Nolan accuses foreign governments of subsidizing their steel production to make their products cheaper than US steel. If this is indeed the case, why should that be detrimental to the US as a whole? Is more expensive steel, and the products produced from it, beneficial to the country? What if the foreign mills gave us their steel for free? People seem to enjoy dining at all-you-can-eat buffets to the disadvantage of ordinary restaurants, should the buffets be forced to charge per item at a rate identical with their competitors?

As Steve Landsburg points out, we have the technology to raise bananas in North Dakota but continue to import them. Maybe the enlightened Representative Nolan should introduce legislation forbidding the import of bananas and give the potential banana farmers of the northern plains a break.

Image result for REp rick nolan

Friday, November 20, 2015

Women's Pro Cycling 2016

Big changes in the women's peloton, both on an international level and in the US domestic scene. First of all, the Optum Pro Cycling women's team brings back only one rider from its 2015 squad, Canadian star Jasmine Glaesser, for its 2016 US racing campaign. In the recent past the Optum team included such successful riders as Carmen Small, Jade Wilcoxson, Leah Kirchmann, Joelle Numainville, Lex Albrecht, Denise Ramsden, Lauren Hall, Janel Holcomb and Brianna Walle. These ladies have all moved on, defecting to other teams or retiring.
 Optum racing director Jonas Carney says that the focus in the coming season will be on development. These will be the riders doing the developing: Erica Allar, Elle Anderson, Heather Fischer,  Jasmin Glaesser,  Kirsti Vivian Lay,  Katherine Maine, Sara Poidevin,  Jessica Prinner, Hannah Ross and Emma White. 

On the continent, the new Canyon/SRAM team is Ronny Lauke's continuation of the impressive Velocio-SRAM squad of 2015. This group is made up of established stars Tiffany Cromwell, Lisa Brennauer, Alena Amialiusik and Trixi Worrack along with future champions Elena Cecchini, Hannah Barnes and Mieke Kroger. Italian sprinter Barbara Guarischi and American Alexis Ryan round out this swift group. Karol-Ann Canuel has moved on to Boels-Dolmans, Tayler Wiles and Loren Rowney to Orica-AIS.

Cylance, an American cybersecurity firm, is sponsoring the new Cylance Pro Cycling Team. Aggressive sprinter Shelley Olds leads a squad that also includes Krista Doebel-Hickok, Alison Tetrick and Erica Zaveta of the United States; Valentina Scandolara and Rosella Ratto of Italy; Sheyla Gutierrez of Spain; Doris Schweizer of Switzerland; and Kathryn Bertine of St. Kitts & Nevis.

 Rochell Gilmore's cycling creation, the Wiggle Honda team, gets even more horsepower in 2016 with the addition of one of the most consistent all-around riders in the women's peloton, Swedish superstar Emma Johansson. She joins Elisa Longo Borghini, Jolien D'hoore, Giorgia Bronzini, Amy Pieters and others on a team that's a threat to win every race.

 There's some concern that Rabobank may very well end its sponsorship of the Rabo-Liv team, perhaps the most dominating group in the sport. They'll be around for 2016, though, and if the best female rider of her generation,multiple world champion Marianne Vos, is able to come back from physical issues they'll be the team to beat. Even without Vos the Rabo girls are a dominating force. World champion Pauline Ferrand-Prevot, Anna van der Breggen and Lucinda Brand are among the best in the world.

 If there's any team that's a daily threat to Rabo-Liv's podium spots it's the Boels-Dolmans team, led by 2015 world champion Elizabeth Armitstead. With a supporting cast that would be the stars on most other teams, Americans Megan Guarnier and Evelyn Stevens, Ellen van Dijk, Christine Majerus, Chantal Blaak and others, the Boels-Dolmans girls are looking forward to another very successful season.

Other continental teams may not have the aggregate power of those already mentioned but have individual stars that can stand on the podium. Team Liv-Plantur now has triple Canadian champion Leah Kirchmann. Annemieke van Vleuten has moved to a tough Orica-AIS squad along with Tayler Wiles. Bigla has Carmen Small, Ashlieigh Moolman-Pasio and Lotta Lepisto.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

What do you do with an elephant tusk?

If you're the US Fish and Wildlife Service, you send it to the National Wildlife Property Repository in Colorado. In a warehouse near Denver confiscated illegal animal artifacts are stored and then . . .? This article describes some of the process but doesn't answer some questions. First, if it's illegal for private individuals or groups of them, to possess something like a stuffed tiger, how is it that a government agency has that right? Second, what is to be the ultimate disposition of these artifacts? Are they going to be stored until some later century? Is there some kind of a expiration date on holding the hide of a grizzly bear that was poached by some European industrialist? Aren't these tragic remnants of the Peaceable Kingdom something akin to the nuclear waste generated by some American power plants, waste that can't be disposed of in any real sense? It's a problem.


This article on the subject doesn't shed much light on what will happen when the last rhino horn is confiscated.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

You Need A License To Embalm

A license is required in every state in order to drive a car. Maybe because it's proof of the knowledge and skill necessary to pilot tons of plastic and metal down the road without running into other cars, pedestrians or livestock. Or maybe not. Licenses are also needed almost everywhere to cut hair, give manicures, install plumbing and electricity, drive a cab, be a peace officer, doctor, dentist, pharmacist, boiler operator or mortician. All of these professions evidently have the potential to harm customers so education and testing is required to insure that persons performing these tasks know what they're doing. There is a profession, however, with a truly great potential to do harm, one that can cause the death of untold thousands and the destruction of immense quantities of wealth. Of course, that profession is elected politician. Holders of elective office, at least in the US, aren't required to show knowledge of anything or skill in any capacity. In this era they need to be somewhat telegenic and capable of reading a teleprompter but no test or license is involved in holding any elected office, from county clerk to US President. It seems kind of crazy that some individual has the ability to send troops to a foreign land without having ever been there or even knowing much about it. But that's how representative democracy works.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

2015 NSC Velodrome All Star Team

These are the stars of this year's competition at the National Sports Center Velodrome in Blaine, MN. The designation is based on purely subjective criteria but these riders all made big impressions on the fans.

World masters champion Dan Casper and wife Linda Sone'.

Abby and Brandon Krawcyzk, married almost a year now, continue to be two of the most successful riders in their respective categories.

Junior rider Alec Guggemos has an astonishing present and a  bright future in cycling. Already a state Madison champion.

Ashley Murray is one of the new stars of an expanded women's peloton.

Matt Montesano is, as usual, one of the most exciting and athletic riders on the track.

Andrew Stevens, a consistent Cat 3 performer.

Margaux Claude, getting ready to put pressure on the women's 1-2 category.

Tim Mulrooney, veteran road and track rider and a member of the world's master's pursuit gold medal team.

Erin Young, an explosion on wheels.

Peter Moore, a national junior champion.

Kesha Zavalov, now a state Madison champion.

Ken Hum, Cat 3 speedster.

Experienced road veteran Lazlo Alberti dominated the track Cat. 3 scene in 2015.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Innocent Bear Gets the Death Penalty

Here we go again. An animal in the wild, at home, so to speak, has attacked a human and we know what the answer for that is. In this case it is, put delicately, euthanasia or, more commonly, death. The lady was attacked by a bear, and we can't have that. If bears aren't killed for trying to hurt humans maybe all the bears will get together and create real problems for men, women and children. They have to be taught a lesson. Don't mess with humans.

So Mr. or Mrs. Bruin is discovered a short time later and dispatched to bear heaven or hell. Oddly, a DNA sample of the bear is taken to make sure that it's the correct bear, the mean one. And the tested sample reveals that the euthanized bear is not the guilty party. Assuming that there is any validity to DNA testing, and there's plenty of doubts about that, now what? No bringing the innocent back to life, a bear that might have had only the best wishes for homo sapiens. Meanwhile the real culprit is lurking in the forest, chuckling at its escape and planning further attacks on hikers and backpackers. It must be found and euthanized and determined by scientific means to be the guilty party. Since most bears in the wild are reluctant to be closely examined by cops or scientists finding the felonious bear might be a problem. It might involve killing lots of bears until one of them passes the test.
I didn't do it, I swear!

Attacking people isn't the only problem these bruins create. In the toney Lake Tahoe area they root in the garbage, and eventually break into cars and homes. Worst of all, these anti-socials teach their offspring how to pillage and plunder, per this report. The innocent ursine youth can't possibly know that what they're doing earns them the death penalty from the DNR and, being unfamiliar with human language they never understand that they're felons.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Off-duty Cops Can't Pack Heat At NFL Games

The Minnesota Court of Appeals ruled Monday that the National Football League can ban off-duty officers from bringing guns into stadiums on game day. The story from the Strib is here.

"The dispute began in February 2014, when two local law enforcement groups sued the NFL, saying they believe officers have the right to carry and that the public expects them to always be on duty, even at a sporting event."

O.K., if that's true, and maybe it is, doesn't that lead to some other consequences? For instance, if off-duty cops are expected to be armed, shouldn't they also be expected to be sober at all times? In fact, shouldn't any police officer be completely alcohol-free 24/7, 365 days a year? After all, they have access to firearms and high-powered automobiles at all times. Logically, cops should be the subjects of random testing for drugs and alcohol by independent agencies. Those that test positive should then be dismissed from employment. What's scarier than a drunk cop with a gun?

Additionally, it seems that, at least in some jurisdictions, retired cops are able to carry concealed weapons and take part in police activity, like this one did. Other retired cops use their guns for less legitimate purposes, like this guy.