Musings on Losing Money

      THATCHER
                I happened to see your consolidated 
                statement yesterday, Charles.  
                Could I not suggest to you that it 
                is unwise for you to continue this 
                philanthropic enterprise -
                       (sneeringly)
                this Enquirer - that is costing 
                you one million dollars a year?

                            KANE
                You're right.  We did lose a million 
                dollars last year.

  Thatcher thinks maybe the point has registered.

                            KANE
                We expect to lost a million next
                year, too.  You know, Mr. Thatcher -
                       (starts tapping 
                       quietly)
                at the rate of a million a year -
                we'll have to close this place in 
                sixty years.

Citizen Kane, discussing the financial losses in his media empire.

In 537, under the Emperor Justinian I, the Hagia Sophia was completed after 5 years of work. Notre Dame du Paris was completed in 1260, after 97 years under construction. Two gigantic churches, each pushing the envelope of the construction techniques of their times. One took 5 years to build, the other almost a century. While I’m sure other factors were at play, the most obvious reason for this difference in construction time is that Hagia Sophia was built with the resources of an Empire under the direction of one man, while Notre Dame was not. Further, if Justinian had wanted another Hagia Sophia or 10, he had merely to say so, and within a few years, he would have had them. The 6th century Byzantine empire had the resources to do it. Unfortunately, we get to see what happens when Notre Dame gets destroyed, but had it been destroyed in 1261, at best it would have taken a couple of decades to rebuild, based on the construction timelines typical of Gothic cathedrals. And funding would have been a real issue.

There are costs, and then there are costs. For a subsistence farmer, having wasted effort over a day or two is likely to have real costs, measured in terms of reduced food supply for him and his family. For middle class 21st century Americans, having to replace a $40K car carelessly destroyed is generally an annoyance – chagrin, insurance, shopping, such a pain! To a billionaire, its a shame if one of his pet companies loses millions. To Justinian, a billion-dollar construction project is just one among several, and all in a day’s work.

John D. Rockefeller is said to have become the modern world’s first billionaire in 1916. Excluding heads of state, Forbes says that there are about 2,700 billionaires in the world. Forbes’ list is generated from public sources and reasonable guesses. Maybe there are 3,000 billionaire-level fortunes, once you add in the heads of state/royal family types? Your guess is as good as mine.

Now add in the wiley old coots with ‘only’ 500 million or so – are they materially less rich and influential than some punk tech billionaire? Now you’re up to – WAG, of course – 10,000 super-rich people? 100,000? Who knows? Why not use $100M as the floor? It’s all guesswork at this point.

These thoughts were generated by viewing Jon Del Arroz’s latest little video. Netflix has been hemorrhaging cash for a while now, and just recently announced that it laid off a bunch of people. While I agree with Del Arroz that these are good things, I doubt it means even as much as the million dollars a year loss did to William Randolph Hearst Charles Foster Kane. What Kane fails to mention: if he’s making as little as 2% a year on the remainder of his money, he can keep on losing a million a year forever. (Really, if he’s making anything at all, say 1%, his loses will be sustainable for centuries.)

One other consideration: while the man on the back of a horse has only a small fraction of the strength of the horse, as long as he keeps reins in hand, he’s effectively as strong as the horse and himself combined. There are some limitations that need skill to work around, but a skilled horseman and his horse act as one – and that one is the horseman. In the same way, a billionaire who has large interests in companies may control them without having their assets show up on his Forbes wealth calculations. A skillful billionaire can even manipulate things such that others agree to lose money – as long as the cost of the losses doesn’t exceed the financial and personal costs of crossing the billionaire.

In this context, keep in mind that the hands at the reins of almost all giant corporations are not playing with their own money. The CEO or Chairman is likely a millionaire or even a billionaire, but his fortune is likely worth a tiny fraction of the corporate money he manages, and only partially tied to the fortunes of the company. Let’s say a billionaire with 10% ownership of the company wants something to happen – say, he’s in favor of the diversity programming over at Netflix. Now you, as a member of the board or CEO, have got to ask yourself: how long will I have a job if I defy the billionaire? It’s not my money, after all. Sure, theoretically, I’m beholden to the shareholders – but that billionaire is the largest shareholder! Far better to do what he wants (and quietly divest myself of my shares in the company, as much as possible).

Then, if worst comes to worst and the company folds or is bought by somebody who wants to make money, the billionaire and I will share a nice Just So story about how evil white supremacists in their evilness ruined our efforts to enlighten the masses and Move Forward on the Right Side of History ™.

And he’ll give me another job.

And that’s just one layer of the onion. Wealthy people either play by the rules of the Athenians in Melos, or they stop being wealthy people. There’s a lot of jockeying going on, pecking orders and loyalties to establish, and backs to stab. I don’t imagine the tech billionaire’s fortunes will long outlive them – these callow youths from hippy boomer households are not winning long-term against modern Medicis and Rothchilds.

Henry Ford is estimated to have been worth about $35B in his heyday. Less than a century later, and the entire Ford family is said to worth about a $1B. Give it another couple generations, and a Ford is as likely to be washing your car as selling you one. Very few fortunes in America last more than a generation or two; very few children of billionaires have whatever gifts it took to make that first billion. Money to them is like water to a fish – it is just the medium they live in, hardly ever noticed. Most children of the rich start right off burning through the family fortune and leave dregs to the grandkids.

There are exceptions, of course. The Medici fortune reached its peak within the first century of the Medici bank in the 13th century, but persisted for about 500 years before finally vanishing. (Another wildcard that some real historian should enlighten us all on: when the fortunes of others depend on or at least benefit from your fortune, you may be propped up indefinitely. The Medici married into many prominent and noble families – how much did this contribute to their riding out some incompetent and occasionally literally insane heirs? Were the family to fail, however, political turmoil would result. How often over those 5 centuries did other players decide they would rather that didn’t happen? But in the end, it did, but only through lack of male heirs.)

But in the meantime, they ape Kane. They all can throw around a billion here, a billion there, without feeling any pain; they can have the companies they control burn billions on idiot programs and policies and propaganda, and hardly notice except to blame others.

So rejoice when the mighty are brough low. But right now, these superficial loses are not hurting the real money. They can afford to keep up the idiocy indefinitely, if the want.

The Pivot: A Catalogue

1.Saturday, I went on a retreat with our RCIA candidates (that’s Right of Christian Initiation for Adults, the 8 or 9 month process someone who is interested in getting (as needed) baptized, confirmed, confessed, and communicated into the Catholic Church goes through). Nice retreat house in the hills.

Of the 25 or so of us – the candidates, sponsors and team members – three wore masks. One stayed completely shields up the entire time. But two wore their masks on their chins. The entire 7.5 hours.

I can’t even. On the plus side, 80%+ of everybody was done with the masks. On the down side, even with the social pressure of being the only 3 people masked up in a group of nice folks, the three holdouts – and especially the two with the masks on their chins – just couldn’t let go.

2. Yesterday, my wife, who is a group leader, and I, a guest speaker, attended in a teen Confirmation prep class of about 100 kids. The meeting was outside in the lovely 70F sunshine. ALL the kids were masked up. My wife to her little group: you know, you’re outside, so you don’t need to wear the masks. Plus, you’re healthy kids, so it very unlikely to hurt you even if you catch it.

So, do the kids take off the masks? Nope. 100 young, healthy people sitting in the glorious sunshine – all masked up.

3. At daily Mass, since last June when the ‘outbreak’ ‘raged’ through Cape Cod killing no one and putting 4 people (out of a million plus visitors) in the hospital, my family was one of about 3 or 4 groups who had had enough and simply refused to mask back up on command of our cockroach overlords. Then, a few week’s back, the indoor masking order was lifted – as long as you were fully and officially jabbed. So, in a congregation full of very compliant and obedient people, almost all fully jabbed, do the masks come off? Several weeks into, and few old coots like me have done away with them – but we’re still around 90% face-diapered up.

4. When I go shopping – I have a route I take that includes up to 5 stores – I’m seeing masks everywhere. Costco for bulk items: 90% masked; local produce market and the local ‘health food’ (they have bulk high-gluten flour, fresh ground peanut butter, lots of bulk spices – things like that) maybe slightly less; Safeway, 90%. I haven’t been to the 2 ethnic specialty markets since the indoor masking mandate was lifted. The immigrants and 1st gen Americans who frequent those places are definitely a mixed bag: some barely complied under threat of getting tossed, but there’s probably 5 people who no doubt shower with their mask on for each scofflaw. I don’t know. Maybe I’ll get some more curry ingredients and gyoza skins, just to check it out.

The mask I see when I see a mask. Insanity made concrete.

Several people have made the obvious point: Brandon has a speech to give on Wednesday. People are fed up. Don’t be fooled: if ‘improving’ ‘numbers’ mattered, this would have been over at the end of April, 2020. So our cockroach overlords have ordered their brown-nosing courtesans to detach their lips from the hind quarters of their betters and switch to Narrative 2.0, or make the Great Pivot, or reprogram the NPCs, or whatever you want to call it. See? We fixed it! Nothing to see here, move along. As some wit put it: What’s the difference between conspiracy theory and established science? About 2 months. SNL can now run skits mocking the Masks Forever crowd; the NYT can now say that lockdowns did little, if any, good – positions that got you – me! – labeled a ‘terrorist’ about a month ago. Vaccines? Not very effective, and kinda dangerous – say that a couple months ago, and get fired. Now? Well, maybe they’re not so good – and you can hear it from the ‘real’ press.

But most important, the key message of Narrative 2.0: We’re just going to have to learn to live with the Coof, just like the flu. This is what I, and greater lights such as Brigg and Berenson, have been saying from very early on back in 2020. All the steps – lockups, masks, social distancing, and especially the jab, have made no material difference to the better, and caused immeasurable harm. What is happening now, what would have happened by the end of May 2020 in a rational world, is that whoever is going to get it, got it. Whoever was already dying, died. And the few otherwise healthy that really suffered from Covid are just the inevitable unlucky, like the kid who catches his death of cold, or the poor sucker whose flu descends into pneumonia. These things happen. They didn’t happen to a panic-inducing degree with the Coof. Sane people could have stayed home when not well, washed their hands, tried not to sneeze on people – and the results would have been the same or better, except $7 trillion or so worth of the economy would not now be in the hands of gigantic corporations, millions of small businesses would still exist, and the population in general would not be terrified out of their wits.

Herd immunity isn’t just a good idea – it’s the law.

Bottom line, based on the observation above: the NPC reprogramming has a long way to go. I expect about 70% of the people will eventually succumb to the unspoken peer pressure of being surrounded by unmasked people – when they are. Maybe 30% will be wearing a mask as they are placed in their caskets.

The real problem: those kids. We have terrified the shit (pardon my language, but it’s the word) out of an entire generation of small children and teens. The damage has been done. I don’t know how to heal them, or if it is even possible.

Nuremberg Trials. Anything less, and we have failed.

Weekend Jetsam

Jettisoning some stuff, to get in the groove for the upcoming move. Unfortunately, we’re not out at sea, where our jetsam won’t simply sink to the bottom and eventually get subducted to finally bet spewed forth from some volcano somewhere. Nope, just blogging.

Turns out, the interwebs are full of non-copywritten pictures of flotsam, but not so jetsam. So, here are some guys who might be thinking of jettisoning some jetsam. Maybe. This whole blogging thing is an exercise in imagination!

First, thanks for the prayers and good wishes for my mother-in-law. The medical profession has determined that she has something like epilepsy – a tendency toward seizures. Evidently, old people who have had a number of strokes are at increased risk for seizures as well. They kept her in the hospital a couple nights to make sure they’ve got the seizures under control, and released her this afternoon. All the inspecting and testing shows some underlying issues of which we were unaware, but nothing unusual for an 84 year old. So, should be back to normal, such as it is, later today.

Second, I’ve not but glanced at the comments here for the last couple days. I’ll get around to commenting on the comments in the next couple days.

Third, that lovely rain year we were having back in 2021 screeched to a halt in 2022. After getting 80% of our local annual season average by the end of December, the 2nd average rainiest month – January – had no rain this year; the rainiest average month – February – is shaping up to have no rain as well. On average, we get over 1/3 of our seasonal rainfall over January and February, but to quote myself:

So, we can stop worrying about the drought for now? Well – no. Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for the rain and snow to just – stop. A near or completely dry month or two or three, even the peak months, happens regularly. It would be a little unusual if, after a very rainy first half of the season, we got a very dry second half – but hardly unprecedented.

And – that’s what’s happening this year. I’ve had to start watering the lawn, and lost a bunch of outdoor potted plants due to letting them dry out, because it’s been bone dry all of 2022 so far, and I don’t usually need to water them during the winter…

Last, our California politicians have lost what little minds they ever had, and, while most states have gotten onto the Narrative 2.0 bandwagon and are pumping the brakes on the insanity, we’re full speed ahead on Narrative 1.0: We’re All Gonna Die! State legislators are now attempting to pass laws to enforce vaccines from the womb on everybody by law. I don’t know why they don’t simply outlaw the virus directly, since they clearly believe they have unlimited and magical powers, now that 15 days to flatten the curve has lasted 2 years, and the cases and attributed deaths went up once nearly everybody was jabbed…

Missouri is looking better by the hour.

Pumping the Brakes

In April of 2020, when Coof “deaths” and “cases” fell dramatically and the result was not the lifting of the lockdowns but rather more restrictions, I stated that the restrictions would never voluntarily be lifted. Like the Joker said to Batman: “I can’t kill you, you’re too much fun!”

The mandates, lockups, masking, and most important, the terror are not only simply too much fun for our sociopathic cockroach overlords to ever give up, they’re far too useful. For something like 70% of the population, simply claiming that “we” all need to be terrified is enough to terrify them. For the other maybe 30%, who would like to see Nuremburg style trials for the crimes against humanity that the Coof fraud most certainly is, control is essential. Tiger by the tail.

When, back in April 2020, in the face of declining numbers and 7 months in advance of the elections, we were told that voting in person was simply too dangerous and told to switch to mail in ballots, the fix was in. No evidence, logic, or “science” was going to be allowed to shut down this power grab hiding behind the fauxdemic.

But, I’ve also pointed out that “pumping the brakes” is essential. To keep terror fatigue from simply boring people out of compliance, you need to keep mixing it up. So we get some periods where we can go outside, we can go outside without masks, we can go to the store, and even go to the store without masks, we can even (!) go to church, briefly even without masks! Lucky us!

Then, inevitably, the rollbacks were rolled back. The existing set of Just So stories were replaced with newer, shinier Just So stories. The “vaccines” were introduced, then found to be only partly effective, then less effective, then effectively useless. Then boosters are introduced. Lather, rinse, repeat. New ‘variants’. New ‘science’. It. Will. Never. End. Until we end it.

As mentioned in the last post, the sheer arbitrariness of it all is a feature, not a bug. Our ‘teachers’ are sorting us. Those who do exactly as told and parrot exactly what they hear – the Front Row Kids – get the gold stars, the pats on the heads. These children swallow the story they are fed about how all the bad stuff is the result of the bad students not doing as they are told. Simply raising questions or wanting to talk about costs and benefits or wanting to take a look at the evidence marks us as the bad kids, the Back Row kids doomed to our little, parochial lives. And we must be punished, because all the bad stuff is our fault! Teacher assures everyone it is our fault!

So, hurray for the truckers. Hurray for the easing of restrictions. There are some new signs of easing even here in California. More and more nations are saying, to some degree, to hell with this. Hurray.

But don’t gets your hopes up. The brakes are being pumped in anticipation of the State of the Union Address, and in light of polls that show that the fraud needed to retain control of a lot of Congressional seats in the next election cycle may be beyond the power of the local arms to execute, at least discretely.* Victory can be announced; credit can be taken. But listen (if you can stomach listening to such tripe) for the caveats: yes, the glorious leaders have won the epic battle against a bad cold the deadly virus! But – there is always a but – we can’t be sure! Further steps made be needed! And then, in a few month, by fall at the latest, some reason to abuse us further will magically appear, and we will be bad, bad, children if we fail to comply. We will need to be punished.

It’s not going to end until heads start rolling. Until the people who did this to us are put in jail or flee for their lives. If the truckers succeed in driving Trudeau from office, that would be a start. Short of that – it’s a game, a ploy. Don’t be fooled into complacency.

Or – the worse option – our cockroach overlords have cooked up a new panic, to be sprung on us as needed. Say, right after the elections, or in advance of the next set of elections. However they manage to pull it off, whether they pump the brakes for a few weeks or months or maybe even a year, they will never willingly give up the power they have seized – the power to terrify us into submission, to bully and threaten those who object, to rule without limits.

*or, perhaps, the stage is merely being set for claims of fraud – always accuse your enemy of what you are doing – against anyone who wins against a Dem candidate. I don’t know, this political inside baseball stuff makes my head hurt.

On Bullying

Making no claim any of this is original with me. Just putting some scattered thoughts together.

Among the many startling aspects of how people react to the lockups and mandates is how inured a seeming majority of people are to being bullied. I don’t recall where I was reading this, but I came a cross a discussion between a couple Europeans and Americans, comparing reactions to the tyranny. One of the Americans was saying that the typical American reaction was to ignore the rules as much as possible, which is largely possible outside major cities. The tension gets released when the non-cult members get away from the insanity, or live outside the major cities. They don’t feel the pressure as much, and what stress they do have is relieved by being around other sane people. That’s why, the argument went, there haven’t been massive truck convoy in America – yet.

I don’t know if this is true. What does seem to be true, and what would need to be true if this escape and release mechanism is really operative, is that Americans have an amazing threshold for toleration of being bullied, such that we would rather escape than confront the bully. Hell, I still mask up when I shop for groceries, because it’s simpler than having confrontations with the help and Karen every few minutes. Why do I do this? Why do I tolerate being bullied? This – the whole lockdown/maskup/jab mandates thing – is bullying.

Further, perhaps, we think of bullying as typified by the larger kid who take people’s lunch money. That guy is an amateur. You need to look at more sophisticated abusive relationships to really see fully developed bullying. Threats of withdrawn affection if you don’t do this one little thing for me. Gaslighting. Overstepping limits, and then accusing you of being the problem when you point it out. That’s what bullying looks like when it graduates from grade school. Compliance is rewarded, for a while, only to have the cycle repeated sooner rather than later. The victim is left both endlessly anxious and desperately defensive – you don’t understand! He really loves me! I am the problem, just as he says!

I assume we all know of situations like this, even if we haven’t been in any personally. Yet – what is the Coof lockups if not exactly this? We are being bullied by sociopaths. It’s not that they don’t care that we suffer – they get off on our suffering, that’s the emotional component of why they do it.

As Frank Herbert put it in Dune, “All governments suffer a recurring problem: Power attracts pathological personalities. It is not that power corrupts but that it is magnetic to the corruptible.” This needs to be taken further. According to Purnell’s Law, all bureaucracies will be run, not by people interested in the goals of the bureaucracy, but by people interested in the bureaucracy itself. This means that the selection mechanisms – hiring, firing, promotion – within any bureaucracy will be in the hands of those seeking, first, to protect their own power. Dominating the class of people obsessing over power are sociopaths.

Conclusion: over time, a bureaucracy of any size will be run by sociopaths for sociopathic reasons. Abusing as many people as possible is the ultimate power. Fauci is a prime example of this phenomenon, as are virtually everyone in this (and, sadly all) administrations.

But yet bullies generally fold once you push back hard. The more sophisticated the bully, the harder and longer you need push back. We are dealing with very experienced abusers here. They will order us about, tell us we are bad people if we don’t do as we are told, attempt to isolate us (classic abusive relationship stuff), stalk us, and finally threaten to hurt or kill us..

Well? That paradise on earth, or at least the ‘defeat’ of Covid, has not yet arrived CANNOT be because the people abusing us are now and were always LYING, mostly via half-truths and exaggeration, but rather, like the abused girlfriend, it’s all our fault. Maybe we’re not good enough for our abusers. Maybe we should be locked up, or even killed! It will all be our fault, if it comes to it.

This should sound familiar. Lockdowns, masks, censoring and propaganda to ensure we are isolated; constant drumbeat of lies to ensure we are terrorized; prompt and brutal dismissal of any dissent. And a drumbeat of how this failure is due to the unjabbed who must be causing the jabbed to get sick. Simple, plain English, obvious explanations must be banned in favor of the latest Just So story. By definition, at least, by any definition current before 2020, if you are ‘vaccinated’ and still get the disease, the vaccine didn’t work. But that is not allowed to be said, because the focus on the badness of the non-compliant must be maintained.

Question: how did we all get so inured to bullying so described, such that probably a good 70% of us just go along no matter what. How did we come to even try to put up with bullying, rather than fighting back at square one? How come I, who have never for a moment bought any of the Coof madness, still try to work around the rules rather than simply refusing?

In the off chance that a new reader has wandered in, here we go: We learned to tolerate bullying, to even accept it as normal and good, in school. Not the bullying of the big kid who wants your lunch money – that may or may not be tolerated by the ‘educators’ – but the bullying that is used to make us comply, on the one hand, and to create emotional cripples on the other.

John Taylor Gatto, who spent 30+ years as a public school teacher in New York, pointed out that the kids who are most unmanageable, who simply will not do what the school wants them to do, are those who have been unconditionally loved at home – a very small portion of students, it turns out. Such kids, unused to being simply bossed about, unused to demands being made on them with no regard paid to what they might want or what might be reasonable, do not respond well to schooling. The graded classroom model is nothing if not arbitrary. Grades segregated by age? Why? Performing to ‘grade level’? Double why? I have to raise my hand to get permission to go to the restroom? Why? I have to study what you tell me to study exactly when you tell me study it, and stop exactly when you tell me to stop? Why? Why can’t I just keep going if I’m interested, or do something else fi I’m not? Recess? Why? Why can’t I take a break when I need it? Why does a bell trump whatever I happen to be interested in at the moment?

The kid who simply misbehaves is nothing to compare to the kid who doesn’t accept the premise that doing whatever the local adult tells him to do is some sort of divine commandment to be accepted without question. Such a kid not only can calmly question his parents (who unconditionally love him, remember) and express displeasure without any withdrawal of affection, but is used to reasonable, affectionate compliance, not blind, arbitrary demands.

But that unconditionally loved child is rare. Most of us who have gone through graded classroom schooling – including me – have accepted all sorts of Just So stories to explain to ourselves our compliance with what is the fundamental irrationality of such schooling. A look at the educational experiences of extremely accomplished people through history show a dearth of anything resembling modern classroom schooling. Newton, Franklin, Jefferson, Edison, Abigail Adams – these are among the best educated and least schooled people you could hope to find. And people of great achievement, not merely having a great collection of degrees and certifications that got them a make-work positions

The purpose of compulsory schooling is to produce exactly the behavior we see among the Branch Covidians. The control is the essential part; all the reasons given for it are backfill and gaslighting. We humans have millennia of experience learning and teaching, none of which supports the idea that kids should be grouped by age, spoon-fed predigested and utterly context-free knowledge bits, forced to ‘learn’ at the same rate as others their age, forced to switch off of something a kid may or may not be interested onto a new subject every 45 minutes, forced to ask permission to get up and move around or go to the restroom, and so on.

And we’re all gaslighted. We are told that we need to do these things – we need to do as we’re told – for our own good! 6 years old and already know how to read? Tough! You’re sitting with the other 6 year olds and listening to the lessons until all of them either also learn how to read or get humiliated and shunted off to ‘special’ classes. You have no interest in math? Tough! You will be made to feel like an idiot and shamed into pretending to pay attention – for your own good!

You can fix cars, or make dresses, or write stories or any one of the million worthwhile things people do that give their lives meaning? Irrelevant! The schools hands out the gold stars and the diplomas and degrees. Comply, or be humiliated at best.

And thus, when the nice man in the lab coat tells you to avoid all your friends and family, wear a mask, take untested drugs, and to be very, very scared, we not only comply, but defend these orders with the vehemence of someone under threat of being excluded from the tribe, or labeled a terrorist, or otherwise marked for culling. We all rush in, eager to comply, to get that gold star, that pat on the head, that affirmation that we are OK.

Reason doesn’t enter into it, and never has.

The bullying stops when we refuse to be bullied.

How to Lie with Data

It was Chesterton, I think, who said: No lie is more dangerous than when it is very nearly true. Propaganda is much more about very nearly telling the truth than about out and out lies. The big lies, the ones repeated over and over until they have beaten down the weak, are usually built upon small half truths. But even the most dedicated propagandist tells the truth much of the time – just not the whole truth.

So we hear that, finally, CDC officials have acknowledged that 43% Covid hospitalizations are *with* not *for* Covid; and that in 75% of Covid deaths the deceased had 4 or more ‘comorbidities’.

Statements such as these should cause a sane person not to trust anything the CDC says. Why is this being mentioned now, when those of us capable of looking at the data could have told- and did tell! – you the same thing back in March of 2020? So one is left playing Kremlinology, trying to suss out why we are being told this now, when one was labelled a terrorist for mentioning it a month ago?

Tedious but necessary background. Looking at any old actuarial mortality table for the US, we see the following pattern: almost everybody lives to be at least 50, then, between ages 50 and 100, almost everybody dies. Before about age 80, most Americans are dead. Between 50 and 80, a little less than half of all Americans die; the other little less than half die between 80 and 100. (Or so – only a comparatively tiny number make it past 100.)

From age 1 to 50, comparatively few people die. Leading causes of death in this age range are accidents, murders, suicides, plus some number of people who just drew a bad hand, and were sickly or caught some nasty disease. But taken all together, less than 8% of men and 4.5% of women don’t make it to 50. By comparison, a mere 15 years later, at age 65, 20% of all American males are dead – it took 50 years to kill off the first 8%, and only 15 to kill off the next 12%. The death rate accelerates from there. A 50 year old man runs only about a .5% chance of death that year; a 90 year old man has a 16% chance of death that year.

This should be common sense. Certainly, we are much more surprised and saddened when somebody under 50 dies; when somebody over 80 dies, it is, or should be, no shock at all.

Keeping this all in mind, let’s talk about ‘comorbidities’. I have 2 comorbidities – I’m fat, and have high blood pressure. Eventually – sooner rather than later, as I’m 63 years old – these health problems are likely to catch up with me and could even kill me. But short term, like over the next 5 to 10 years, probably not, but there’s certainly no guarantee. So my comorbidities are a cause for concern (and action! working on it!), but they are not, so far, interfering with my day to day life.

Now let’s talk about the population where most of the attributed Coved deaths take place: those in nursing homes and hospitals. Such people also have comorbidities, usually a lot of them. But here’s the difference, what is being lied about through omission: the comorbidities of nursing home prisoners HAS destroyed their ability to function. Their health is so poor that they are put in special places where others can care for their most basic needs.

Comorbidities among nursing home incarcerees typically include such things as cancer, renal failure, heart problems, severe respiratory problems. The CDC rules don’t allow ‘old age’ as a cause of death, so, when an old person whose body is failing in a hundred ways finally passes on, the doctor is forced to put something, or some short list of somethings, as the cause of death. Prior to the Covid panic, heart failure and pneumonia were top causes.

In this environment, where a large number of people are awaiting death, and where any old cold or flu is likely to push them over the edge, we add Covid. AND we put in very loose guidelines for a Covid diagnosis, AND we financially incent people to care for Covid patients, AND we remove all independent oversight (visitors) – well, it turns out an awful lot of people, with comorbiditeis like lung cancer and congestive heart failure are all the sudden showing up as Covid deaths.

While it is refreshing to see the CDC talking about comorbidities at all, it would be much more honest (yeah, like that’s gonna happen) to talk about where these people are dying – namely, nursing homes and hospitals. In a nursing home? You’re not long for this world,* Covid or not; not in a nursing home or otherwise very ill? Covid is no worry at all, no more than a cold or flu.

*with the usual caveat that those in dementia care sometimes live years until the decay of their bodies catches up with the decay of their minds. But those in for basic bodily sickness are unlikely to last for more than a year or so, usually much less.

Three Quotations and a Link and an UPDATE

Off in a bit to begin the ceremonies – rehearsal, rehearsal dinner today, then wedding and reception tomorrow – demarking the handing off of Younger Daughter to her husband.

UPDATE: Logistics are a bit – interesting for this wedding. The church is a little over an hour away, near where Younger Daughter lives; the hall where the reception will be is about 20 minutes from there. BUT: the team doing the catering is my middle son (bride’s older brother) and his lovely wife of all of 6 months. They both have years of experience in food service, so it’s not as crazy as it seems. Issue: our nice kitchen has been volunteered for all the food prep – an hour and a half away from the hall. The hall also has a nice kitchen. The proprietors of the hall generously allowed us access starting at 3:00 today for a reception that start around noon tomorrow. But (almost) everybody involved is in the wedding itself, so we need to do as much set up between 3:00 and 4:40 (5:00 start of the rehearsal, a 20 minute drive away). Then, morning of, do the final cooking of the hot stuff so that it comes out warm around noon.

Future son-in-law knows a big Catholic family, the patriarch of which also knows my middle son and his wife – two of his daughters worked with them in the kitchens at Thomas Aquinas College. So, as we’re prepping here like mad, son gets a call from the matriarch of the above large family asking: how many of my kids do you want me to send over to help? So three daughters, two of whom have worked with and for my son, will be meeting the posse at the reception hall at 3:00 to help with set up and prep. Pretty darn cool. One friend of a friend also volunteered to get the cooking started morning of the wedding.

So, it’s working out. I rented a house for tonight in the neighborhood of the church, so we all can crash after the rehearsal, rehearsal dinner, and the finishing touches on the reception hall, and mom can support the bride without a 1:30 (at least – there’s snow on the mountains, skiers will be jamming the road Saturday morning) drive. Again, we are grateful and blessed.

So, quotations – first up: Eddie Burke, because why not?

Where trade and manufactures are wanting to a people, an the spirit of nobility and religion remains, sentiment supplies, and not always ill supplies their place; but if commerce and the arts should be lost in an experiment to try how well a state may stand without these old fundamental principles, what sort of a thing must be a nation of gross, stupid, ferocious, and at the same time, poor and sordid barbarians, destitute of religion, honor, or manly pride, possessing nothing at present, and hoping for nothing hereafter? I wish you may not be going fast, and by the shortest cut, to that horrible and disgustful situation. Already there appears a poverty of conception, a coarseness and vulgarity in all the proceedings of the assembly and of all their instructors. Their liberty is not liberal. Their science is presumptuous ignorance. Their humanity is savage and brutal.

Reflections on the Revolution in France

And

All circumstances taken together, the French revolution is the most astonishing that has hitherto happened in the world. The most wonderful things are brought about in many instances by means the most absurd and ridiculous; in the most ridiculous modes; and apparently, by the most contemptible instruments. Every thing seems out of nature in this strange chaos of levity and ferocity, and of all sorts of crimes jumbled together with all sorts of follies.
In viewing this tragi-comic scene, the most opposite passions necessarily succeed, and sometimes mix with each other in the mind; alternate contempt and indignation; alternate laughter and tears; alternate scorn and horror.

Ditto
Ready, Eddy?

The consistently incisive and depressingly accurate analysis of Clarissa, who grew up under the Soviet Union and teaches at Woke State someplace, commenting on the thought processes of the Supreme Court considered as a bunch of aging Boomers:

Sotomayor has already asked how “a human spewing virus is different from a machine spewing sparks.” As one’s brain ossifies with age, one begins to perceive the world through analogy. Everything gets referred back to one’s past experience. Everything is “just like.” Accepting that anything can be genuinely new means facing that one is outdated, possibly even mortal. And no, not every old person is like that. There are rare but important exceptions. For the most part, though, this is exactly how it works. If you don’t subject your brain to rigorous daily training in processing new information from new sources, you will become that sad old fart who “justlikes” every conversation into the ground.

And her further thoughts. Sigh. I’m so sick of her being right.

Finally, a slightly more amusing quotation:

“Let no one wear a mask, otherwise he will do ill; and if he has one, let him burn it.”

St. Philip Neri

Probably check in again next week. Until then, party hardy.

Predictions from Last Year, and for This Year

William Briggs, Statistician to the Stars, asks every year for his readers to make predictions, then, early the next year, scores those predictions. I play along and then promptly forget them until reminded the following year when Briggs publishes the results.

His rules:

  1. Number your predictions, using numbers, like this.
  2. Limit your predictions to 5, a number less than 6 or more.
  3. No sports.
  4. Be specific and provide a way to verify your projections.
  5. Attach a probability word if you are less than certain.
  6. Verified predictions of our coming Doom will receive very little weight unless they are quite specific.

Here are mine for 2021, with Brigg’s comments after the quotation, and my comments in bold italics after that:

My 2021 predictions:

1. “By year end, the state will begin to take away the children of those who fail to comply with ‘public health’ orders, for the kids protection.” This indeed happened, but in isolated cases, usually divorces. Will pick up this year.

2. “A cold war will grow between the schools and those parents who (finally) see what the schools teach.” This happened, you terrorists. Will get worse.

3. “The lockdown it simply too intoxicating to ever end. A new strain will be ‘discovered’, CHILDREN ARE DYING!!!” Yes, twice over. Bingo.

4. “Websites such as this will either be simply eliminated, or, if small enough, shadow-banned.” We are shadow-banned in at least several universities, as anons have written to say.

5. “The election fraud stands, but something else – the inevitable power struggle among the victors, the sudden, unexpected collapse of China, somebody key breaking ranks, enough people starting to actively resist…” Not quite. I don’t remember exactly what I was predicting here – more chaos than we got, something like that. Maybe this year.

Here are mine for 2022:

  1. 2022 is the year the Branch Covidians are phased out and the Greta Fan Club takes over: more and more controls are enforced and less and less freedoms allowed, but the alleged cause gradually switches from fauxvid to Climate Change ™.
  2. Similarly, our all but mandated social scores, currently based on ‘vax’ status, will come to include some sort of carbon score or suchlike.
  3. “The rich” discover that they are not homogenous. The unending power struggles among our betters increase as saner heads try to reign things in. The Soroses and Buffetts of the world may have enough wealth in enough areas to ride out almost anything, but some people who imagine they are wealthy are going to discover they aren’t. Some rich people, for example, have much of their wealth in shipping or airlines. They are not as happy with the direction of things as are the more satanic vermin like Soros, whose fortune is based on currency manipulation. This one is likely complicated to verify, but can be read between the lines when certain industries push back against the control mechanisms.
  4. Public school attendance falls sharply. Private schools boom even as laws and regulations are enforced against them. Conflicts move from school board meetings into the actual schools. (Again, could be hard to verify, as the only reporting will frame the parents as ‘terrorists’ if it gets reported at all.)
  5. Prayers that the pope speedily comes to enjoy his eternal reward will increase in frequency and fervor, but he will hang on for another year.

You heard it here first! Maybe.

Obsessing About Weather: Acting Normally (for me)

Let’s take ourselves on wings of nostalgia as it were and try to help ourselves forget, perhaps, for a while, our drab wretched lives: Let us return to a subject written about here before the world lost its mind. All 12 longtime readers might recall my neurotic obsession interest in California weather. My interest was at first piqued by the incessant harping on and doomsday predictions over what, when looked at objectively, was just typical California weather. Namely: precipitation varies a lot from year to year here in the Golden State. Most years, we get less than average rainfall. Some years, we get a lot more than average rainfall. That’s the pattern evident in the data since there has data to look at.

So, a few years in a row of below average rainfall is not a drought. In any decade, you might get 5, 6, 7 years of below average rainfall, sometimes in a row. Such a pattern seems to simply be the way weather works here on the West Coast, at least since the last glacial maximum ended 10,000 years ago. The existence of California’s extensive system of reservoirs and canals testifies that at some point, some Californians understood that this is the pattern – and built a lot of reservoirs in an attempt to even it out a bit. That these reservoirs are sometimes near empty is a feature, not a bug. If they were always full, that would mean that precipitation around the state was always orderly and consistent. If they were always full, we wouldn’t need them.

Similarly, the three major rivers in the L.A. basin have been turned into concrete lined storm channels. 100 years ago, Angelinos got tired of having their city washed away about every decade, and so made sure the water from the occasional epic storm had somewhere to go. Most years, there will be more skateboarders than water in those channels. But once in a while…

Calling ‘average’ ‘normal’, so that mundane variation become, not ‘below average’, but ‘abnormal’ simply adds to the atmosphere of panic.

So: for the last year, we’ve been hearing about how California had sunk into an unprecedented drought since the epic rain year of 2016/2017 when, you may recall, 200%+ of average rainfall and snowpack nearly washed out the Oroville Dam. the state’s largest reservoir. That ended the then current unprecedented ‘drought’. Before that, the 2005/2006 epic rain year ended another unprecedented drought. And so on, back through the decades. As one remarkably sane meteorologist put it. there are only a few storms between drought and plenty in California.

How are we doing this year? Glad you asked. According to my crazy spread sheet*:

The at a glance summary section of my spreadsheet. The “gages over %” numbers show how many of the 32 total gages have reached the various arbitrary milestones. I’m just amusing myself.

The real accuracy here is probably more in the range of 10 percentage points, rather than the displayed 1/100th of a percentage point -but where’s the fun in that? So, despite the faux accuracy above, we’re really more like something between 70 and 80% of the season average as of today.

Any still here and not drifting into a coma may be interested in the overall pattern of rainfall over time in Contra Costa County, which I’ve determined from other datasets:

Again, while it would be easy (I do it all the time) to come up with a bunch of reasons why it’s wrong to do the math this way, and wrong to mix data from different sets, and so on, it’s also reciprocally hard to come up with any reasons the number would be very off – a bunch of different people calculating rainfall over many years and over a fairly contained and consistent area are not likely to get significantly different results.

The rain season here stretches from July through the following June. The seasonal pattern is something like this: On average, about 16% of total rainfall falls from July through November; about 10% falls in April, May, and June. The other 74% falls in December, January, February, and March.

Using the above as a baseline, as of the end of December, we get on average about 35% of our season total rainfall. This year, we’re at over 200% of expected average rainfall to date so far, and about 75% of the average seasonal total – with the bulk of the rainy season still to come. The Sierra snowpack, the melting of which following summer replenishes many reservoirs, is in a similar state: about 150% of average to date, about 50% of seasonal average.

So, we can stop worrying about the drought for now? Well – no. Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for the rain and snow to just – stop. A near or completely dry month or two or three, even the peak months, happens regularly. It would be a little unusual if, after a very rainy first half of the season, we got a very dry second half – but hardly unprecedented.

Isn’t this all fascinating? No?

The table is set for a nice 200% year, which would shut up the drought doomsayers for a while, at least. Yet, alas, even only 100% isn’t a sure bet at this point. I’ll keep y’all posted.

*The Contra Costa County Flood Control District maintains a set of 32 rain gages spread across the county. These gages are meant to track current rainfall against a set of “critical antecedent conditions” so as to allow predictions of flooding. The tables on the web page are automatically updated every 15 minutes, allowing the obsessive attentive observer to watch the rainfall spread out across the county in almost real time. These gages are situated at various altitudes and terrain, so that the experts at the CCC Flood Control District can see where the water is piling up and where it will go. I misuse these gages to measure broad rainfall totals, doing a series of logically and mathematically dubious sums and calculations in order to arrive at the magic number you see above – EXACTLY 76.93% of expected seasonal rainfall has, well, fallen so far. Riiiight. Summing up rainfall and averages across a range of gages and then dividing to get percentages – not strictly scientific. I also do averages of averages, which also has its shortcomings. BUT – I tell myself – the situation is such that these iffy methods are probably roughly right. I’m not applying for grant money are trying to whip up some panic here – I just like taking a stab at a broader measure of rainfall.

Faaa-arm Livin’: Update

Been doing stuff, but not posting. Among other things:

Went up to Sacramento to drop off the women folk for a bridal shower for the younger daughter. Collected the future son-in-law, and we took a drive up into the foothills of the Sierra to visit a family friend of his who is doing what I would like to do: living on a few acres out away from the urban areas, where he and his family raise a lot of their own food.

It was cool. He is a very nice man with a nice family. His little micro-farm (7 acres) is located along some south-facing hills, with a a little valley running down the middle. The houses (the one they live in, plus a 100 year old ruin that they restored & rent out through Air B&B) are on the higher end of their little valley, with pastures below, ending in a pond at the bottom. Sheep, cattle, pigs, chickens, and ducks. Fruit trees both in a deer-fenced garden area and distributed around the property. A view for miles across the larger valley from the back porch. Beautiful.

Our host was able to point out a dozen important things I’d have likely missed. One needs irrigation district water to keep things green for the cows; city water, if you can even get it, soon becomes too expensive. Having the irrigation canal run up above his property means he doesn’t need pumps to run his sprinklers. The little valley he’s on has soil 4′ deep before you hit the granite that the Sierras are made of – some nice looking sites have little or no soil.

And so on. On the downside, being out away from civilization means mountain lions are a real deal – one had killed and eaten one of his sheep just the day before. The nearly-stripped carcass was still out in the pasture. Yikes. He keeps his shotgun handy, but he’d need to see the big cat to shoot it. And then there’s coyotes. Hawks and foxes kill his birds. The cows are too big for the mountain lions? At least, once grown a little?

Anyway, what an adventure. He and his lovely wife asked exactly what I’m looking for, and said they’d keep an eye out for suitable properties. They also recommended praying to St. Joseph – which we’re already doing.

The ‘neighborhood’ if you call it that consists of other small farms. Everybody knows everybody. Our host was surprised we’d driven up without anyone stopping us – he said all the neighbors watch for cars they don’t recognize, and then, in a friendly way, stop them and ask them who they are looking for – a real question, as it’s not like looking for street numbers in suburbia. One could get lost. But this also serves to reduce possible miscreants from just driving around.

He sang the benefits of raising kids in the country. In this context, he told me about the horsemanship requirement of Wyoming Catholic College. He said that it used an optional one semester deal, but now is required for the full first year. The college discovered that kids got invaluable knowledge and core lessons in basic reality, from learning how to get a big, opinionated animal to do what you want it to do, and from learning how to care for that animal. Any delusions one might entertain about the existence of objective reality die a quick death once you’re on the back of a horse.

The visit was a wonderful experience. While I personally would limit myself to garden, orchard, chickens, and maybe a pig, the kids are talking about sheep, goats and cows for milking. Right. Well, if they do the work…

All this is contingent on getting this house sold, a task I need to focus on with increased urgency. Given the news that is trickling out from San Francisco and L.A., I got to wonder: how many people really want to live in California anymore? Then I recall the stories I’ve read about the Russians hauled off to the gulags in the middle of the night, who believed it was all some big mistake, and that Stalin would certainly set it straight as soon as he found out about it. Our modern, well-schooled front row kids are even better equipped to comply. They got all those gold stats and pats in the head for doing what they were told to do, to believe what they were told to believe, and to despise those who failed to do as they were told and failed to regurgitate upon command. So, as long as they are told nothing is going on, they will prefer to deny the evidence in front of their eyes, or minimize it, or think it’s an exception, right up until it’s their turn to be the carbon that gets reduced.

“I don’t believe you can do that,” said Mark. “Not with the papers that are read by educated people.”
“That shows you’re still in the nursery, lovey,” said Miss Hardcastle.
“Haven’t you yet realised that it’s the other way round?”
“How do you mean?”
“Why you fool, it’s the educated reader who can be gulled. All
our difficulty comes with the others. When did you meet a workman who believes the papers? He takes it for granted that they’re all propaganda and skips the leading articles. He buys his paper for the football results and the little paragraphs about girls falling out of windows and corpses found in May-fair flats. He is our problem. We have to recondition him. But the educated public, the people who read the highbrow weeklies, don’t need reconditioning. They’re all right already. They’ll believe anything.”
“As one of the class you mention,” said Mark with a smile, “I just don’t believe it.”
“Good Lord!” said the Fairy, “where are your eyes? Look at what the weeklies have got away with! Look at the Weekly Question. There’s a paper for you. When Basic English came in simply as the invention of a free-thinking Cambridge don, nothing was too good for it; as soon as it was taken up by a Tory Prime Minister it became a menace to the purity of our language. And wasn’t the Monarchy an expensive absurdity for ten years? And then, when the Duke of Windsor abdicated, didn’t the Question go all monarchist and legitimist for about a fortnight? Did they drop a single reader? Don’t you see that the educated reader can’t stop reading the high-brow Weeklies whatever they do? He can’t. He’s been conditioned.”

That Hideous Strength CH V

Little by little the whole thing came out. These were the refugees from Edgestow. Some had been turned out of their houses, some scared by the riots and still more by the restoration of order. Something like a terror appeared to have been established in the town. “They tell me there were two hundred arrests yesterday,” said the landlord. “Ah,” said the young man. “They’re hard cases, those N.I.C.E. police, every one of them. They put the wind up my old Dad proper, I tell ‘ee.” He ended with a laugh. “’Taint the police so much as the workmen by what I hear,” said another. “They never ought to have brought those Welsh and Irish.” But that was about as far as the criticism went. What struck Mark deeply was the almost complete absence of indignation among the speakers, or even of any distinct sympathy with the refugees. Everyone present knew of at least one outrage in Edgestow; but all agreed that these refugees must be greatly exaggerating. “It says in this morning’s paper that things are pretty well settling down,” said the landlord. “That’s right,” agreed the others. “There’ll always be some who get awkward,” said the potato-faced man. “What’s the good of getting awkward?” asked another, “it’s got to go on. You can’t stop it.” “That’s what I say,” said the Landlord. Fragments of articles which Mark himself had written drifted to and fro. Apparently he and his kind had done their work well; Miss Hardcastle had rated too high the resistance of the working classes to propaganda.

That Hideous Strength, CH X

The kinds of properties I am interested in have been driven up in price 30-40% in the last 20 months – but so have houses in my neighborhood. But how many people really want to go the Green Acres route? Most just want a safer, less crazy city or suburb that reminds them of where they used to live, circa 2015 or so. But enough people evidently are thinking ‘county’ to make it interesting.

The market has cooled in the suburbs, but I don’t know it that’s the usual winter slowdown or if it betokens more than that. Bottom line: I need to get this place ready to sell now. While, of course, also doing Christmas, New Year’s and younger daughter’s wedding.

No problem!