Friday, December 30, 2016

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Traffic Lights Cause Car Accidents!

That's the opinion of the Minnesota's Ramsey County Commissioner Jim McDonough in a controversy over local residents' request for a traffic signal at a busy intersection on St. Paul's east side: "He said Ramsey County found that a four-way signalized intersection could actually lead to an increase in the number of crashes because drivers speed up to beat the lights. . . . "A light will not make that intersection safer. It will cause more harm than anything else.” Further information on this interesting situation can be found here.

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If this is indeed true, then why are traffic signals needed at any intersection? The locals feel that the county's logic is being influenced by financial considerations. It's said that a traffic signal at the intersection would cost about $300,000. That's difficult to believe, a third of a million bucks for a traffic signal? Let's see a breakdown of the budget for such a project. In fact, if that were the case, wouldn't the traffic lights in even a mid-size city like St. Paul be worth about a zillion total dollars?

Monday, December 12, 2016

Miami FBI Headquarters

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This building is the headquarters of the Miami office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

According to the FBI itself:

 Located at 2030 SW 145th Avenue, Miramar, FL, 33027 on a 20 acre site, the new building complex will achieve initial operating capability this week and be fully operational by the start of the new year. Beginning today, the new main line phone number to FBI Miami will be (754) 703-2000. The 330,000 square foot facility can seat more than 1,000 employees and includes surface and enclosed parking for 1,075 vehicles. It is LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environment Design, a green building certification program) certified gold for its interiors and a top-rated platinum for its core and shell. The move consolidates a number of local FBI facilities into one central location that provides FBI Miami employees with a state-of-the-art work place.

Designed by Chicago architecture firm Krueck+Sexton and constructed by Colorado-based Hensel Phelps Construction Co, its cost was said to be $156 million.

Additionally, a $750,000 wood sculpture by  German artist Ursula von Rydingsvard installed in the structure was found to have caused a dozen employees to be hospitalized for allergic reactions. Removing it to Maryland raised the total bill for the artistic end of the project to $1.2 million.

 Image result for German artist Ursula von Rydingsvard miami fbi
"Cedrus", the 3/4 million dollar sculpture that became Kryptonite for the FBI.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Each Vote In 2016 Election Cost $13.16

According to these people, Mrs. Bill Clinton and her allies spent $1.2 billion on her failed attempt at winning the presidency and Mr. Donald J. Trump and his supporters spent $600 million to garner the most electoral votes. This site says that the total number of votes cast in the election  were 136,737,920. That means that in aggregate each vote cost $13.16. The individual cost would be slightly larger in view of the small amount spent by fringe candidates like Jill Stein and Gary Johnson, whose votes are included in the total.

Of course the individuals voting didn't receive the money. It was spent on television time, marketing, polls, signage, newspaper ads, etc. A quadrennial  Keynesian fiscal stimulus that goes right to the bottom line of the media, since they don't need to pay the actors.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016


In the current battle between the civilized West and the medieval Middle East, news accounts are quick to point out the barbarous behavior of ISIS toward its enemies. One of the most unspeakable crimes committed by these monsters is the beheading of their enemies.

There’s several dimensions to this issue. In the case of beheading, it seems that there’s been a change in attitudes toward the practice. A few hundred years ago beheading must have been regarded favorably in the West. First of all, we know this from the history of western art. Two of the most frequent subjects of European art, when its focus was on religion, were the stories of David and Goliath and Judith and Holofernes.

Countless paintings and sculptures were made of the combat between the heroic Israelite champion David and his giant Philistine opponent Goliath. Many of these art works depicted the immediate aftermath of the conflict, David holding the severed head of Goliath. This beheading was apparently seen as a positive event by Christians. 

Gustave Dore', David and Goliath 1866

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One of the great heroines of the Old Testament and Christianity was the widow Judith. She offered herself to the Assyrian leader Holofernes and after catching him in a weak moment decapitated the fellow, turning an Israelite defeat into victory. This was the subject of European art works for centuries.
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The English used beheading for even fairly mundane crimes during the late medieval as well as for more serious offenses. Henry VIII wanted to be shet of his wife Anne Boleyn. She was accused and convicted of adultery and treason and lost her noggin to the axe on 19 May 1536.

 Perhaps the most consequential English beheading was that of King Charles I in 1649. It was a seminal event in the English Civil War and after the Stuarts, in the person of Charles II, returned to power, three of those that had signed the king's death warrant and died in the interim were disinterred, hung and beheaded. Lord Protector, Oliver Cromwell was one of them. His head was displayed in public on a pike for eighteen years afterward.

The last English beheading was of Simon Fraser,11th Lord Lovat, in 1747, although the punishment was a part of UK law until 1973.

At some point, however, beheading must have lost its lustre. Maybe after the French Revolution, since the Guillotine, a mechanized head removal device, was invented then to speed the process along. In the case of judicial capital punishment, beheading was never popular in the American colonies, hanging being the preferred method. In fact, killing without intentionally disfiguring the victim became the norm. This was reflected in the shock and dismay displayed by Americans when it was revealed that native Americans routinely dismembered US cavalrymen killed in battle, cutting off their arms, legs and genitalia. Even now Yankees are upset by the desecration of their fighting men while being little disturbed by members of either side being blown to smithereens by artillery, bombs or even atomic weapons.

As in all funereal practices, it's basically a scientific fact that nothing that's done to a corpse can be felt by the former owner, no matter if it's believed that the individual is on his way to paradise or the depths of hell. Beheading then is an affront to the sensibilities of the living. That's why the bad guys  do it. To offend the survivors, and intimidate them. It seems to be working.


Monday, November 28, 2016

Politics and the English Language

In 1946 English writer George Orwell composed an essay that included this:

"The word Fascism has now no meaning except in so far as it signifies "something not desirable." The words democracy, socialism, freedom, patriotic, realistic, justice, have each of them several different meanings which cannot be reconciled with one another. In the case of a word like democracy, not only is there no agreed definition, but the attempt to make one is resisted from all sides. It is almost universally felt that when we call a country democratic we are praising it: consequently the defenders of every kind of regime claim that it is a democracy, and fear that they might have to stop using the word if it were tied down any one meaning. Words of this kind are often used in a consciously dishonest way. That is, the person who uses them has his own private definition, but allows his hearer to think he means something quite different. Statements like Marshal Petain was a true patriot. The Soviet Press is the freest in the world, The Catholic Church is opposed to persecution, are almost always made with intent to deceive. Other words used in variable meanings, in most cases more or less dishonestly, are: class, totalitarian, science, progressive, reactionary, bourgeois, equality.

 Image result for george orwell

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Is It A Frans Hals Or Ain't It?

This portrait was determined to be produced by the hand of 16th century Dutch artist Frans Hals, which led to its subsequent sale for $10 million. Now it seems that it's not.

Which makes one wonder why the works of Hals or any other artist should be worth such fabulous sums of money if experts can't reliably tell one from another. 

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Raising Legislator's Pay

In the land of 10,000 lakes, Minnesota voters will decide this fall whether to amend the state constitution to establish a compensation council that will be able to raise legislator salaries, according to this opinion piece in the Minneapolis  Star-Tribune. Voters won't select the members of the council.

"If the amendment passes, a 16-member salary council — eight DFLers, eight Republicans — would be formed to decide legislator pay every two years. The governor and the Minnesota Supreme Court chief justice would choose its members"

You'll note that the council will be limited to ostensible members of the two dominant political parties. Thus we see that two separate entities, government and politics, are increasingly merging into one, marginalizing any other competition for influence in the public arena.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Kids' Appreciation Day

On September 25, the Minnesota Twins declared their last home game of the season "Kids' Appreciation Day". There were a lot of younger folk in the small crowd. As is normally now the case at all sporting events, prior to the beginning of play the US flag was raised by an honor guard of veterans, followed by the singing of the national anthem.

The Twins management missed a chance, however, in demonstrating something to the kids that they may not have considered. The Twins should have invited all the kids in attendance down on to the field and then over the loudspeaker explained to them that in the future a certain percentage of them would be sent to foreign countries where they would be tasked with killing the residents. They should have also pointed out that another percentage of the youngsters would be maimed or killed in this process.

Rather than celebrate the old timers' contribution, why not pay respect for a change to that which will be made by those in the future?  

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Poll: Clinton, Trump in virtual dead heat on eve of first debate

Here we go again. Newspapers and the media in general are supposed to be capable of using language in a sensible manner. But they don't, as this headline in the Washington Post shows.

This is the actual reference:

We've had some primary elections and soon we'll have real elections. In the run-up to these elections we'll hear the results of little phony elections that candidates, parties and news organizations like to hold so they can pretend to predict the future. These phony elections are called polls and their results cause millions to be spent or withheld in individual races and provide endless fodder for commentators and pundits that analyze the supposed preferences of likely (maybe) voters and provide reasons why one candidate is sizzling and another flaming out. However, if the polls reveal that two candidates for a post have nearly the same potential support at the polls, those two are said to be in a "dead heat". A dead heat is a term from horse racing. It describes a race result where two or more horses have reached the finish wire at exactly the same instant. It doesn't have to be for first place. There are dead heats for second or third or other placings as well. In modern racing cameras are used to determine the placing of runners and the occurrence of a dead heat. The term is never used to describe the placing of the runners at any time during the race. While the race is being run, the horses could be neck and neck, or side by side or together but there is no dead heat until the race is completed. For this reason the use of the term "dead heat" in the typical political context is erroneous and stupid.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Bob Dylan Becomes Artist At Age 75

Bob Dylan, nee' Zimmerman, who supposedly took his professional name from generally intoxicated poet Dylan Thomas, has moved on from oddly popular and over-rated music to the world of similarly obscure art. In this case he's constructing a piece called Portal, a gate that's going to serve as an entrance to a new casino in Maryland, per this account in ARTNEWS.

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The masterpiece hasn't been put in place yet but from its appearance it very much resembles the sort of thing that bored farmers assemble in the winter months from pieces of obsolete equipment and then use to decorate their yards.

Of course, if Mr. Dylan was one of those farmers, his found-art project would be of little interest to anyone except the neighbors down the road.

Friday, September 9, 2016

2016 National Sports Center Velodrome All-Star Team

Thursday, Sept. 8, was the final night of competition this year at velodrome in Blaine, Minnesota. We present the riders that were most impressive during the 2016 season.
 Ageless Dan Casper, world master's champion, had another remarkable season. Combined with junior Peter Moore to win the Minnesota Madison title.

Junior Anya Malarski,  Women's 17-18 International Omnium National Champion and, by a large margin, Minnesota women's track rider of the year.
Peter Moore is a junior national champion and one of the fastest riders on the track.

Veteran Linsey Hamilton dominated the women's sprint scene, just as she has for years. Once again she's on her way to the world's masters meet in the UK.
Bejamin Heintz used his ample speed to move up from the Cat 4 division to Cat 3 before the season was over.

Big Nate Brennaman turns a big chain ring.

Experienced road rider Peter Olejniczak ran away from his Cat 3 competition.

Laura Moreno spends her days at Quality Bike Parts in Bloomington, MN and Thursday nights orbiting the NSC Velodrome.

Sam Bramel owned the Cat 4 scene.

Elvis Lee was usually on the front end of Cat 3 tests.

Tim Mulrooney is another world master's champion headquartered in the Twin Cities.

Tiana Johnson, a force in the women's track peloton.

Personable Sarah Bonneville may have been the most improved rider of the year.

Another North Star Development junior with a big future, Rylski Bogdan.

Aggressive Nikki Munvez impressed fans from day one.

Alec Guggemos has created a spot for himself in the Cat 1/2 scene with some dynamic performances.

Francie Barbeau is a consistent Cat 4 competitor.

The cycling fans that regularly make their way up to the NSC Velodrome want to express their thanks to the riders for perhaps the best entertainment value in town. And a special thanks go out to the newer Cat 4 ladies that have added so much to the local track cycling scene. We hope to see you again next year.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

California Cops Evade Prosecution For Prostitution and Sex With A Minor

The East Bay area of northern California has been rocked by the results of an investigation that has revealed a battalion of law enforcement officers involved in the sexual exploitation of a drug-addled teen-age girl. Nobody being prosecuted as of yet.

Further east, cops involved in the beating of a restaurant customer over a decade ago are still hard at work protecting and serving the public even though they've been "fired" for their criminal activities.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Political Correctness on Two Wheels

There's a lake in Minneapolis, Minnesota, a place that calls itself "The City of Lakes", named Lake Calhoun. Many of the residents of the watery burg were probably once unaware that this popular swimming and sailing spot was named after John C. Calhoun, a South Carolinian who held the positions of US Vice President, Secretary of State, Secretary of War, US Senator and US Representative. Although he died in 1850, Calhoun was a staunch defender of states rights and slavery,  which means that he's now supposed to descend down the memory hole of political correctness.

While efforts have been made to actually change the name of the lake, bureaucratic complications have stymied the process so far. But that's not the case with nearby Calhoun Cyclery, who's so offended by the memory of the man found to be one of the 5 greatest US Senators of all time that they've changed their name.

Calhoun Cycle is now Perennial Cycle

 Calhoun Cycle is proud to announce that we are changing our name to Perennial Cycle. The name Calhoun Cycle was inherited decades ago when it originated as Calhoun Cycle Cellar, a modest bike rental shop with a cigar box for a cash register. Over the years the name Calhoun Cycle has served us well. To our cycling commuter customers we love so dearly, it has come to represent our goals for the bicycle as a pragmatic and sustainable means of alternative daily transportation. Given these goals, we have found the ethics of Calhoun Cycle at odds with the unethical history of the Calhoun name. We can no longer turn a blind eye to the history and heritage of Mr. John C. Calhoun, and feel an undeniable need to separate ourselves from that history. The name Calhoun represents a shameful past of institutional racism perceived as a “positive good”, and the misguided cultural colonialism of renaming a lake after an undeserving man. We cannot go back and change our past, but we can learn from it and from our mistakes, and attempt to right our wrongs. Therefore, we are consciously removing Calhoun from our company name and have chosen the new name Perennial Cycle to best represent our values. When something is perennial it is enduring, it is sustainable and it lives in an unending cycle. Perennial is the flora that surrounds us, which we depend on for our own sustainable existence. And like the tulips, crocus, and basque flowers pushing their way up through the snow, nothing gives us more pleasure in the Minnesota springtime than to also see our robust perennial cycling community bloom to life once again. We thank you all for your support over the years we’ve spent together, and for supporting us in our strategic decision to kill Calhoun.

  John C. Calhoun, scary guy from the Palmetto State.

  The lake named after a scary guy from the Palmetto State.

At the same time, there's a busy street in Minneapolis called "Sheridan Ave." There's another one in Chicago. These streets, and others of the same name, commemorate the memory of General Phil Sheridan, commander of the Union forces at Appomattox Courthouse and architect of the defeat of the native Americans on the plains. He's famous for having uttered the phrase, "The only good Indian I've ever seen is a dead one".

There is a Sheridan Bicycles Company in Sheridan, Wyoming but no word on these bike dealers changing the name of their operation or the town itself adopting a more politically correct moniker. 

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Wisconsin High School Sports

In western Wisconsin extra-curricular high school activities include sports that can be successfully practiced far into adult life and be useful in practical ways. There probably aren't any high school clay target teams in Hartford, Connecticut or Berkley, California.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Professor Hans Eysenck said:

Professor H.J. Eysenck, Phd. was the Chair in Psychology at King's College, London. He said this:

"Scientists, especially when they leave the particular field in which they have specialised, are just as ordinary, pig-headed and unreasonable as anybody else, and their unusually high intelligence only makes their prejudices all the more dangerous...."

Eysenck, H. J., Sense and Nonsense in Psychology, Penguin, 1957, pg. 108.

Friday, May 27, 2016

A relatively tight labour market in the United States may put upward pressure on inflation,

It may. Or, perhaps, it may not. That's the opinion of St. Louis Federal Reserve President James Bullard, commenting from Beijing, China on May 23.

His statement goes along with everything we've been taught about economics in the world of higher education and the popular media. Higher wages, in this case brought about by a labor shortage, result in inflation, which, according to Fed chair Janet Yellen, is needed at a level of ideally 2%. Like Goldilocks and the bears' porridge, the inflation must be just right.

While many economists and ordinary folk feel that higher wages for American workers would be a good thing and spur retail purchases that would make life more lucrative for Chinese manufacturers and American merchandisers, evidently the Fed people aren't in complete agreement. With a record number of Americans not even bothering to continue a futile search for employment, it's rather difficult to believe that there is a general labor shortage, as opposed to one in certain fields. That's not the crux of the issue, however.

There is, or should be, a question about whether the Fed is talking about price inflation, when a dozen eggs go from 85 cents a dozen to $1.95, or monetary inflation, when the sawbuck in your billfold will only purchase half as much of anything as it did only a few years ago. Let's just accept that if there's a general increase in wages across all occupations, from restaurant dishwashers to Division I college football coaches, that there will be some effect on prices across the board. People will have more money to spend and will be inclined to do so. Prices for popular items will be bid up and to some extent production costs due to wage increases will rise as well, requiring price increases. Wage increases, however, are not mandatory. Employers can avoid bigger paychecks through mechanization and layoffs. A major reason for increased production costs is an increase in component and raw material prices. A tariff on Chinese steel will raise prices in the US without workers in steel mills jumping to a higher tax bracket.

There are other things that have an effect on the amount of money in circulation and prices. Increased home prices are an example. People that bought a house for $100K and then sell if for $200K now have theoretically twice as much money as they once did. They can buy all kinds of neat stuff. Since real estate in the US is changing hands all the time, usually at a profit for the seller, it's obvious that more money is then available for other purchases. But this isn't mentioned because every homeowner regards their house not as a place to live that depreciates over time as the shingles blow off and the paint fades, but as a super savings account that they can live in until it's sold to pay for nursing home care. Real estate sales have to be inflationary, by design, in the current American context.

The US stock market is expected to go up in value steadily over the long haul, though some companies disappear completely and others don't perform up to expectations. And it has done so. The Dow Jones Avg. flirts with a new record daily. On average, stocks are trading at 25 times earnings, a multiple considered insane just a few years ago. When someone buys a share of stock for $25 and later sells that share for $50 he has doubled his money, he's gotten a raise. For some reason, this isn't considered inflationary or bad, it's considered great. The seller now has twice as much money as he once did, to buy other shares or perhaps a Rolex watch, free range chicken or tickets to a Cubs game. The more people with discretionary income to buy fancy watches, hormone-free hens or the rare opportunity to see a competitive team on the North Side, the higher the prices will be for those items. According to the US government and the Fed, that's the definition of inflation.

When the Fed, or anyone else, cries the inflation wolf over wage increases remember that they're not worried over similar increases in the prices of company shares and residential housing.


Insanity Is Normal In The World of Art

Jean-Michel Basquiat, Dustheads ($25-35m)
The painting above is Jean-Michel Basquiat's "Dustheads", completed in 1982. It was purchased at auction  in 2013 for somewhat less than $49 million by Malaysian Jho Low. Mr. Low, now the object of investigation by police agencies all over the world, sold this fabulous work of art a few days ago for $35 million, according to reliable sources. Basquiat, having died in 1988 of a heroin overdose in his studio at age 27, wasn't able to share in the financial gains of his artistry, or losses, either.
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Jean-Michel Basquiat, himself.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Cuban Dissident Armando Valladares in the Wall Street Journal

From remarks by Cuban poet and human-rights activist Armando Valladares upon receiving the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty’s Canterbury Medal in New York, May 12:
When I was 23 years old I did a very small thing. I refused to say a few words, “I’m with Fidel.” First I refused the sign on my desk that said as much, and after years of torture and watching so many fellow fighters die, either in body or in spirit, I persisted in my refusal to say the few words the regime demanded of me.
My story is proof that a seemingly small act of defiance can mean everything to the enemies of freedom. They did not keep me in jail for 22 years because my refusal to say three words meant nothing. They kept me there that long because it meant everything.
For me to say those words would have been spiritual suicide. And though my body was in prison and abused, my soul was free and flourished. My jailers took everything from me, but they could not hijack my conscience.
Even when we have nothing, each person and only that person possesses the keys to his or her own conscience, his or her own sacred castle. In that respect, each of us, though we may not have an earthly castle or even a house, each of us is richer than a king or queen.
For many of you, particularly the young people, it may seem I come from another time and from a remote place. Young friends, you may not be taken away at gunpoint, as I was for staying true to my conscience, but there are many other ways to take you away and to imprison your body and your mind. There are many ways you can be silenced.
I warn you: Just as there is a short distance between the U.S. and Cuba, there is a very short distance between a democracy and a dictatorship where the government gets to decide what we believe and what we do. And sometimes this is not done at gunpoint but instead it is done one piece of paper at a time, one seemingly meaningless rule at a time, one silencing at a time. Beware young friends. Never compromise. Never allow the government—or anyone else—to tell you what you can or cannot believe or what you can and cannot say or what your conscience tells you to have to do.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Will Obama Apologize For Atomic Blast?

US President Barack Hussein Obama is scheduled to visit the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park in Japan some time in May and pundits of various stripes are concerned about what kind of an impression he might give to his hosts. They're worried that he could express regret that the US Army Air Corps was ordered by Democratic president Harry S. Truman to drop an atomic weapon on two Japanese cities inhabited by civilians, if anyone in a global conflict can be considered a civilian. This opinion piece in today's Wall Street Journal gives the stereotypical justification for vaporizing Japanese teen-age girls walking to school.

Perhaps detonating a weapon of indiscriminate mass murder against civilians really wasn't much of a novelty for a country that had no problem exterminating the original natives of the country and interning US citizens that happened to be of the wrong race. Be that as it may, several of the arguments put forth by Father Wilson D. Miscamble of the University of Notre Dame are open to debate.

One of the most common justifications for Fat Boy and Little Man (the names given to the two weapons) was that their use made unconditional surrender likely and an invasion of the country unnecessary, saving the lives of many thousands on both sides. Well, who says an invasion was needed at all? With no remaining military capability, the Empire of the Sun was no threat to anyone. MacArthur could have sent the battleship Missouri into Tokyo Bay and told the Japs over a giant loudspeaker to stay home and leave the rest of us alone. Invading Japan would have been an incredibly expensive exercise in revenge against a civilian population that didn't fly Zeros or attack Pearl Harbor.

You'll notice that despite some serious situations in the world since those fateful days in 1945, neither the US, nor anyone else, has dropped a nuclear weapon. If it was such a good idea then, why wasn't it an option on several occasions in Korea, Iran, Viet Nam, and other places?

Of course, the sickest aspect of the entire affair is that nation/states that have disagreements between their leadership and governments have the ability to hold the general populations of their enemies and even their own countries hostage to mass murder.  

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Puritans Target Laotians

The once happy animists of the Southeast Asian jungles that have moved their gear to the USA not only have given up chicken fights and marriage to 13 year girls, they've been corralled by this era's version of the Puritans, who will make sure they acquire the guilt complexes associated with sex, alcohol and late sleep. They'll turn the Karens into functioning cogs in the great corporate machine.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Alise Post Wins Sixth National BMX Championship

St. Cloud,Minnesota native Alise Post, a 2012 Olympian and almost a sure selection for the Rio games, has won her sixth BMX national championship at Oldsmar, Florida.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Koochella Named Track Team of 2015 by USA Cycling

Koochella is the Track Club of the Year.
Peer USA Cycling:
The Koochella club was designed to promote women in cycling with a basis in track racing due to its belief that the track scene is one of the best new racer incubators in the sport. Koochella worked this last year with the National Sports Center Velodrome in Minnesota to grow the women’s racing scene. This paid off as the velodrome now houses two robust women’s fields and continues to grow. The club did this by hosting a women’s introductory skills clinic, focusing on rider retention both on and off the team, and by covering race fees for new women racers. Because of all its efforts to volunteer time and money to the local track scene, Koochella was named track club of the year.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Euskal Emakumeen Bira Bad Poster

This poster advertising the April 13-17 Euskal Emakumeen Bira women's road cycling race in the Spanish Basque country irritated the Basque Women's Institute, who considered it to be "sexist". Race organizers pulled the poster so as not to offend the Institute. It's difficult to say what, exactly might be sexist about it. The picture shows 2015 victor Katarzyna Niewiadoma making a moue. So what?

Larry Summers Wants To Eliminate Cash

The elites live on a higher plane than the schlemiels that produce the food they eat, the mansions they live in and the automobiles they are chauffeured about in. So it shouldn't be any surprise when a couple of them say things that are basically incomprehensible to one of us proles. 

Exhibit A. One time Harvard president and secretary of the treasury Larry Summers wants to get rid of the hundred dollar bill, the 500 Euro bill, and, ultimately, all cash, as he explains in this WaPo missive. Ostensibly, the financial genius wants the complete digitilization of money in an effort to stem crime, which according to him, operates on a cash basis with large bills that can't be monitored by government agencies. Many people are already living in a digital financial bubble, their paychecks directly deposited into bank accounts and all but the smallest purchases made by credit and debit cards. The supposed convenience and security of this outweighs any possible drawbacks. Your pixel money is completely safe in the servers of Mega-bank. You just don't need cash, unless you're a cocaine importer. Having tangible money is now become a crime because of technological innovation.

Larry Summers

Exhibit B. President of the Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank, Neel Kashkari, gave a speech Monday on that organization's efforts to find a solution to the "Too Big To Fail" syndrome in the nation's banking community. Remarkably, the wizards that run the country's financial sector admit in public that they don't know what the causes of bank failures are and how those debacles can be prevented. Best of all, the group at the Minny Fed has a form on its website to gather input from interested citizens on just what they should do to prevent another "Great Recession", You can't make this stuff up.

Neel Kashkari, President of the Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank

Friday, February 5, 2016

Female Genital Mutilation

Indonesian women among 200m suffering genital mutilation, says UNICEF report 


(From AP)
At least 200 million girls and women in 30 countries are estimated to have undergone female circumcision, half of them in Egypt, Ethiopia and Indonesia, the UN children’s agency said in a report released Thursday night.

 The UNICEF statistical report said the global figure includes nearly 70 million more girls and women than it estimated in 2014. It said this is due to population growth in some countries and new data from Indonesia.

 The UN General Assembly unanimously approved a resolution in December 2012 calling for a global ban on female genital mutilation, a centuries-old practice stemming from the belief that circumcising girls controls women’s sexuality and enhances fertility. One of the targets in the new U.N. goals adopted last September calls for the practice to be eliminated by 2030.

UNICEF statistical expert Claudia Cappa, lead author of the report, said the estimate of 200 million circumcisions comes from household surveys on the prevalence of female genital mutilation, and statistical modeling.
The 30 countries, mainly in Africa, the Middle East and Asia, “have large-scale representative data,” she said.
Cappa said the practice exists in other countries not in the study, where large-scale data was not available, like India, Malaysia, Oman, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, as well as in pockets in Australia, North America and Europe where immigrants from countries with a large number of female circumcisions live.


Oddly, or maybe not so oddly, we seldom hear anything about the barbaric and common practice of MALE circumcision.

Using these assumptions, we estimate that approximately 30% of the world’s males aged 15 years or older are circumcised (Table 2). Of these, around two thirds (69%) are Muslim (living mainly in Asia, the Middle East and North Africa), 0.8% are Jewish, and 13% are non-Muslim and non-Jewish men living in the United States of America.

This method is likely to underestimate the true prev-
alence of male circumcision, as we have excluded
circumcision among non-Muslim and non-Jewish
men in heavily populated countries such as Brazil,
China, India and Japan where a small proportion of
men are also circumcised, for medical, cultural or
social reasons. If we assume that 5% of men aged
15 years or above who are not included in the coun-
tries or religions above are circumcised, then our
estimate rises to 33%.

World Health Organization

It's wrong to take a knife to the vagina of little girls but just fine to chop off the foreskin of little boys.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Public Opinion Polling

The efforts of the Radio Project conspirators to manipulate the population, spawned the modern pseudoscience of public opinion polling, in order to gain greater control over the methods they were developing.
Today, public opinion polls, like the television news, have been completely integrated into our society. A "scientific survey" of what people are said to think about an issue can be produced in less than twenty-four hours. Some campaigns for high political office are completely shaped by polls; in fact, many politicians try to create issues which are themselves meaningless, but which they know will look good in the polls, purely for the purpose of enhancing their image as "popular." Important policy decisions are made, even before the actual vote of the citizenry or the legislature, by poll results. Newspapers will occasionally write pious editorials calling on people to think for themselves, even as the newspaper's business agent sends a check to the local polling organization.
The idea of "public opinion" is not new, of course. Plato spoke against it in his Republic over two millenia ago; Alexis de Tocqueville wrote at length of its influence over America in the early nineteenth century. But, nobody thought to measure public opinion before the twentieth century, and nobody before the 1930's thought to use those measurements for decision-making.
It is useful to pause and reflect on the whole concept. The belief that public opinion can be a determinant of truth is philosophically insane. It precludes the idea of the rational individual mind. Every individual mind contains the divine spark of reason, and is thus capable of scientific discovery, and understanding the discoveries of others. The individual mind is one of the few things that cannot, therefore, be "averaged." Consider: at the moment of creative discovery, it is possible, if not probable, that the scientist making the discovery is the only person to hold that opinion about nature, whereas everyone else has a different opinion, or no opinion. One can only imagine what a "scientifically-conducted survey" on Kepler's model of the solar system would have been, shortly after he published the Harmony of the World: 2% for, 48% against, 50% no opinion.

Michael Minnicino, The Frankfurt School and 'Political Correctness, Winter 1992 issue of Fidelio magazine.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Florida State U Pays $950,000 To Settle Rape Accusation Claim

Florida State University has agreed to settle the claim that football star Jameis Winston raped student Erica Kinsman in 2012 rather than taking the matter to trial, according to this account.

The $950,000 settlement will be divided with $250,000 going to Kinsman and $700,000 being paid to her attorneys. Kinsman’s attorneys in her lawsuit against Winston, Baine Kerr and John Clune, are considered two of the most accomplished on Title IX matters. They've been involved in several prominent cases where student-athletes are accused of sexual assault, such as the Title IX cases at the University of Colorado and Arizona State University.


John Clune and Blaine Kerr, who together took in over twice as much as victim Erica Kinsman in the FSU settlement, $700,000.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein Takes $1,000,000 Pay Cut!

As the result of a somewhat tortured year on Wall Street, Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein has had his compensation reduced by a whopping ONE MILLION DOLLARS!  For his services to the big bank the balding 61 year-old executive will receive a paltry $23 million in salary, stock and bonuses, as opposed to $24 million in 2014, a 4% reduction. In 2007 the feisty banker was awarded $70 million so times are indeed tough in the lower Manhattan financial jungle, even for a billionaire.

Goldman Sachs shares dropped 7% in 2015 and profits went down 31%. Company profits were a little less than $6 billion.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Killer Koyotes, They're Not a Rock Band

Those darn coyotes are at it again. The predator plague that's got the country in a tizzy has apparently made a meal of a rare animal being kept by the Smithsonian National Zoo, a dama gazelle, as the Associated Press advises us:

FRONT ROYAL — The Smithsonian National Zoo says it wants to hunt down the trio of coyotes that recently killed a critically endangered dama gazelle at its sprawling Conservation Biology Institute here. Plans are to soon target the coyote group that got into an enclosure and was seen near the gazelle carcass. Those predators, having found a good food source, are now liable to kill other such vulnerable animals at the 3,200-acre site.
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The institute’s deputy director, William Pitt, said it was a painful decision, but the zoo has a responsibility to protect endangered species from predators.
A rash of coyote sightings have recently been reported in Fairfax and Prince William counties.
“It is a choice you have to make,” Pitt said. “It hasn’t been an easy decision for me. ... If there were a thousand coyotes on the property and this (killing) didn’t happen, it would be fine.”
The killing of the gazelle was the first time the institute has lost an animal to a coyote.
Pitt said the hunt will try to target only those coyotes that killed the gazelle, by focusing on the specific territory where they live around the complex.

He said a hunter will probably stake out the area, lure the coyotes with a recording of a rabbit in distress, and shoot the predators when they come to investigate.

The dama gazelle is native to the Sahara area of northern Africa. It's possible that the coyotes regard the gazelles as an invasive species rather than lunch but who knows? Of course, attempting to draw in the guilty coyotes by the use of a predator call may well result in the murder of an innocent coyote, should there even be such a thing. Even if the trio of killer koyotes is eliminated, considering the exploding population of the canines, it's likely that others will come to take their place. Nature abhors a vacuum.

 Image result for dama gazelle


Friday, January 15, 2016

Optum Pro Cycling Becomes Rally Cycling

Minneapolis-based Circuit Sport has announced a new title sponsor for the cycling team once known as Optum Pro Cycling. The new primary sponsor is Rally Health and the team will be known as Rally Cycling.

The highly successful team has its usual complement of incumbent members on the men's side, Tom Zirbel, Jesse Anthony, Brad Huff and Will Routley among them. There's been big changes in the female roster, however, and it will be interesting to see how some fresh faces do in the upcoming season. Canadian all-around rider Jasmin Glaesser and US veteran Erica Allar will be the leaders in 2016.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

2016 Women's Pro Cycling Pre-Season All-Star Team

It's a new year for the women's peloton and we have no way of knowing for sure who will be the most successful riders this season. Marianne Vos has missed a year with injuries. It remains to be seen if the most dominant cyclist of her generation can return to her normal spot on the top of the podium. Emma Pooley is talking about moving back to cycling from endurance running in an effort to make the Rio Olympics. In fact, for some of the very best female cyclists, making it to Rio de Janiero is more important than the season as a whole and might have an effect on the make-up and results of some very important races. Some riders are perhaps in the twilight of their careers, others have yet to reach their potential. These are the ladies that we think have will real success in 2016.

Floortje Machaij - Team Liv-Plantur 2016
Floortje Mackaij, the rider that Liv-Plantur is counting on for the future.

 Even with the uncertainty of the coming year for Marianne Vos, Rabo-Liv still has the firepower needed to dominate women's cycling. Anna van der Breggen, at the peak of her career, supplies some of the ammunition.          

Image result for emma johansson

If Marianne Vos has been the queen of women's cycling, super consistent Emma Johansson has been the princess. The Swedish star moves to the Wiggle High 5 team for 2016, making noises that she may soon retire.

                      Megan Guarnier, riding for Boels-Dolmans, is the 2015 world championships bronze medalist.

Canyon rider Alena Amialiusik represented Belarus in the London Olympics and will probably ride in Rio as well.
Image result for Lotta lepisto

Finnish road racing champion Lotta Lepisto will be carrying the mail for Bigla.

Hard-charging Valentina Scandolara will be one of the leaders of the new Cylance team.

Now riding for Orica-AIS, American Tayler Wiles seems to be ready for a breakout season.

A native of Belgium, where cycling is the national sport, Jolien d'Hoore is a national champion on the road and the track.

 Leah Kirchmann - Team Liv-Plantur 2016
Triple Canadian champion Leah Kirchmann moves over to Europe to sprint for Liv-Plantur.

Now with the Wiggle High-5 team, Elisa Longo Borghini has been a force to be reckoned with on the international peloton since she was 20 years old.

Rabobank, maybe in their last year of sponsoring a ladies team, still has Dutch star Lucinda Brand.

Rising Italian pro Elena Cecchini has moved to Canyon-SRAM.

World Champion and probable Olympic favorite Elizabeth Armitstead of the Boels-Domans team.

Pauline Ferrand-Prevot, 2014 world champ, mountain bike and cyclocross star and a general in the Rabobank army.