Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Reality Check On The Donald

Something I wrote a year ago, but it seems to have weathered well.

Fundamental problems that no amount of ideology or belief in magic thinking can fix. That's what's on my mind.
If a guy's missing a leg or an eye, he's missing a leg or an eye, and you, the observer can get to grips with it or indulge in ideology: "This problem does not exist. We outlawed wooden legs and glass eyes." or you can take the magic thinking route and say :"He's fooling. It's an optical illusion to allow this fellow to cop benefits he's not entitled to." "We can grow new limbs and organs with green tea and baking soda."
Repeal the AHCA. The end result is that there will be 25 million or so without health insurance which they had. So what will they do when they get sick? Here's what.
They will be sicker when they show up at the emergency room. Treatment must be provided by law. It will be expensive. Instead of going to their primary care physician they will do this. They will not be able to pay for it. Then, they will declare bankruptcy as they did before Obamacare which brought this all about in the first place.
When they declare bankruptcy there will be no assets or accounts full of money. Ultimately this debt will end up in the hands of the government and the hospital which will have to raise rates for the rest of us. Or they'll just not pay and work off the books somewhere. Collecting money from these people is like pushing string. Ask the child support recovery staties how they're doing.
Here's a thought. The issue driving the efforts at health care reform like Obamacare is not better health or love of one's fellow man.
It is cost containment by managed care. That is what drives the process, that's where the legislation came from, and it's an effort to mitigate the $700 toilet seat syndrome.
And Obamacare may well be the low cost solution overall.
The health care problem is not going to go away because Trump snaps his fingers and sneers "Get him oudda here!"
Likewise the problem of immigration, whether stuffing up the cracks in the border or deporting the ones who got here already. Trump can entertain his rally goers with florid versions of "Build a wall! Make Mexico pay for it!" but the problem is structural and economically driven. For that reason I do not expect much from the incoming administration except a lot of sheep dip, because as people say "Trump's a businessman! He'll run the country like a business!" and taking this line he will see that it is unprofitable and abandon it in all but name.
Trade wars with the Chinese or Japanese or whomever. How long and how much stupid tariffs will it take for China Inc. to call its loans to the US, impose countervailing tariffs on American exports, and precipitate another great depression like what happened with the disastrous Smoot Hawley tariff of the early thirties?
These are all structural problems that ideology has nothing to do with. And we haven't even gotten to the subject of clean coal.
Suppose you're Warren Buffett and you own MidAmerican Energy (which Berkshire Hathaway does). You have a coal fired powerplant.
You have to pay to have the fuel dug out of the ground in Wyoming, cleaned, washed and loaded on unit trains that run east through Boone, Iowa. When they get to where they're going they have to be stockpiled. Then, they get burned to make steam, and you have to clean up the stack residue, and figure out what to do with the fly ash. Lots of fly ash.And you've also got lots of miners who have needs and want good paychecks.
Then the man comes from the pipeline company and says "We'll sell you natural gas at a lower price per therm than that Wyoming real estate you're burning. There's no ash, very little transportation cost, and the exhaust is clean. All you have to do is hook up to the pipeline and install burners. It's clean, quiet, environmentally friendly and you'll reduce your cost substantially."
What's Warren going to do? The answer is why coal is a legacy fuel source and those jobs are not coming back.
Keep thinking.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

As Long As We Exist We Will Be Dougloids, or, Serious Stuff: How The Tulsa Dougloids Got Hosed

There's an article in the St. Louis Post Dispatch this day that is a reprint of the same story in the Washington Post.

As it happens, being a cheap SOB I didn't want to buy a subscription to the WaPo so I found it for free.

But that's where the humor ends.

The story's about the McDonnell Douglas plant in Tulsa-to tell the truth I didn't know there was one, but there was. I guess it made parts for military aircraft, but before the gobbling up by Boeing, when McD-D was flailing around trying to save itself, the bosses decided to close Tulsa, primarily because the people who worked there were getting on towards retirement age, and with that came pension funding liability.

As it turns out, that's what the courts found out as well, and the company had to settle, but it left the Dougloids with a whole lot less money in the kitty than they would have had if they'd been vested.

In a way I understand it because I missed being vested by eight months when I got laid off in Long Beach. But my niggles on this subject are minor.

Now, we've got Dougloids who gave their working lives to the company having to work as greeters at Wally World, loading trucks, as barbers and crossing guards. Some are barely getting by, some have gone bankrupt, some owe massive amounts of debt and others are under water in every way you can think of.

One former worker at the plant tells about how he dreams of being at work and wanting to clock in but he cannot find his time card. I had a similar dream that you can find here on this blog.

I also marked the closing of the C17 assembly plant and the end of aerospace manufacturing in southern California, and all the expertise and knowledge that had been built up.

I commend these notes to our collective memory. And in answer to the question I posed, I've changed my mind.

As long as we exist we will be Dougloids.

Here's the story from the Post Dispatch. It's a bleak picture for people who'd been banking on that pension rainbow, as it says they're destined for extinction. And, I might add, an even bleaker picture for the millenials who are hitting their thirties and forties right about now.

G-d help us all. It makes me feel guilty as hell, knowing that my spouse served in government for twenty years and that is one of the few places where a pension is a reality.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

No Shit, Sherlock: More About Paleoscatology

Sometimes you just have to wonder what motivates people in life.

In particular, what motivates a guy to devote his graduate education and best working years to the study of fossil crap?

I mean, imagine the conversation.

Student: Dad, I need you to cosign my student loan application so I can get on with my PhD studies.

Dad and Mom: That's our boy, always on the up and up. Sure thing son, what's the course of study?

Student. Well, Dad, I am going to study the prehistoric droppings of the moa, a large flightless bird that has been extinct for millions of years. By the way, I've got to go to New Zealand to do it so make sure you put in something for air fare. Business class should be mighty nice.

Dad: Are you sure about this? Because all you'll be capable of doing is teaching other scatologists about is primitive dumps.

Student: It's a world of shit we live in, Dad. I'll be fine. Now sign, goddamnit.

In today's Atlantic, bes' li'l ole scandal sheet in all of Christendom, we find out that studying moa poop, no doubt excavated from protean latrines, is much more than, well, poop.

You can read about it here.

With raised eyebrow, we here at the Dougloid Towers soldiered on, to discover that the study of the Paisley caves-which we reported on here a while ago-was much more than an indictment of the prehistoric tenants who inhabited the caves although it could have been because it was a sublease.

In addition we find that a 30,000 year collection of ground sloth crap was the victim of a great inferno in 1976 in the Grand Canyon which, Professor Paul Martin opines was the equivalent of losing the Library of Alexandria. You can read about that here. It is furnther noted that in the Rampart Cave these...ahem...articles were more than twenty feet deep. So imagine, if you will, climbing up a twenty foot ladder to take your ease, kinda like building a prehistoric garderobe for yourself.

One wonders why the giant ground sloth kept coming back to the Rampart Cave for thousands of years? What was it about that place that made it excel above all other potential locations?

It appears that the ground sloth returned to the same primitive crapsite to ease himself, which one commentator describes as being akin to giving birth-that seems a stretch by our lights. I mean, we all have our hours of labor but that is where the comparison runs out of gas, so to speak.

Maybe to Martin, perhaps, the fire was a great disaster but it sounds to us like a much overdue spring cleaning.

It goes on. Even as we speak, paleoscatologists-to coin a term-on the Aucilla River in northern Florida are busily sifting through a mountain of fossil mastodon poop to determine the type and content of the mastodon's diet-which we suppose is interesting to other paleos.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Pissed Off Kid Becomes Surly Preteen With Predictable Results

I've been reviewing the progress of this journal recently and it appears that there have been 731 posts-yes folks, you read it right-it's a regular volume of the scurrilous and the profane as well as a place for a sort of barnyard levity. Rude jests and japes are the stuff of which the Dougloid Papers is made.

We started back in early 2006, after I'd been booted off of for the last time for saying "fuck" and I figured I had better escape from that den of Eurosnarkiness and gloomy bauhaus apartments to more salubrious climes of my own choosing.  At some point I acquired the image of the screaming kid and it seemed apropos for what I was puttin' down.

Part of that was moving across town to our own place two years later and I haven't regretted it a bit or been aroused from my slumbers by drunken neighbors collapsing in our shared doorway. Yes, that happened. Any noise here is generated by me and my collection of stuff.

I've acquired some interesting tooling-a Miller MIG welder which is a nice piece of kit, a Lincoln stick welder that I can't use because I need 220v three phase but it looked cool and it was cheap, a Harbor Freight 20 ton press and a Sears combination disc and belt sander. Good for shaping metal tube.

We learned yesterday that my lymphoma hasn't really gone away, but is merely lurking. It expressed itself in a swollen lymph node which I am told may get bigger, smaller or stay the same so we watch and wait and monitor the situation. Chemo at this point would be overkill I think.

I feel pretty good, overall.

She Who Must Be Obeyed retired this year and she prepared for it by mastering the intricacies of Medicare, supplemental insurance and prescription medicines. That was helpful because we now have a relatively steady income with no surprises and we know what our expenditures are. There will be no carnival cruises or vacations in Florida in our future but we're warm, have a well stocked fridge and generally see ourselves as fortunate.

My relations with the other side of the family continue to be problematic. I was contacted by a person, a stranger to me, who took me to task on Facebook and proceeded to relate to me chapter and verse from my former spouse's script, complete with all the slag and accusations. She stands in the way of having any relationship at all with our grandchild and makes whatever relationship I do have with my daughter and her family sometimes tough to navigate, by repeating the same old accusations to anyone who will listen. Repeating such things to strangers without any context is a mistake, I believe.

Also, not acknowledging the bad things we all have done to each other is, in this season of reconciliation, making any reconciliation very difficult, if not impossible.

I try not to wash my dirty laundry in front of strangers.

I wish she'd get off it. I've paid for my sins many times over and have only recently given up on my late night hobby of torturing myself over the errors I made forty years ago.

Her issues are her issues, and I am not going to engage in a tit for tat struggle although I've got some fairly competent ammo and a long memory. I did burn the entire dissolution file in the charcoal grill some years ago, thinking "Why am I lugging this around?"

It's simply not public. It is a private matter.

As for the screaming kid turned surly pre adolescent, I hope he's feeling happier and that things turn around for all of us.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Paranoia Strikes Deep: The Short Life And Lonely Death of Juicero

I've been thinking about the demise of the entire Juicero project lately.

For the three people in the world not in the know, Juicero was a Silicon Valley tech startup that proposed to answer the problem of getting fresh juice by selling you a $700 mechanized press, and a subscription service that you would buy which provided fresh vegetables and fruit in a pouch. They burned through a lot of venture capital and shut down, last year, I believe.

Insert the handy pouch in your $700 press, start the cycle and collect a glass full of fresh wholesome juice-I dunno, broccoli or artichoke juice,-whereas ordinary mortals like me have to either go to the grocery store and buy a carton of OJ or make do with a terribly low tech blender like the kind the Waring folks made-no relation, by the way.

Once fortified, you could hang out by the mailbox for your next delivery of Juicero pouches. The environmental question of what to do with all those empty plastic Juicero bladders was left unanswered for the most part.

Juicero never really caught on and was lampooned with many a rude jest when it was found out that your hands-yes, Virginia, those funny things at the end of your arms with all those digits attached-could squeeze out about as much from a Juicero pouch and then have fun folding the $700 you just didn't spend.

So while I was reading some of the snark surrounding the demise of Juicero I happened on the fact that the Juicero was WiFi enabled.

That's right folks. What the WiFi was supposed to do is make sure that the Juicero would squeeze only legitimate authorized and official Juicero pouches.

What would happen? Imagine a call coming in to your local police department:

"Officer Quiller, this is (insert hipster name here) from Juicero Command Central Bunker Number 5.  One of our units is reporting that a counterfeit sack of rutabagas and pineapple was inserted into Unit 343 at about 3:00 am this morning, located at 1210 Maple Avenue in Windsor Heights, Iowa. It is the property of Mavis Clifford, a forty year old yoga instructor and sometime housewife who was out on a spree at a wine bar and is attempting her grandmother's sure fire hangover cure.

Just thought you could roll a unit and maybe break the door down. A taser would be just fine, thanks. G'bye."

So...your Juicero was there listening in on you all that time, taking note of your most passionate moments in the kitchen and your attempted hangover cures, silently observing, calculating, communing with Juicero Central Bunker Number 5, and deciding on the kind and level of your punishment.

And you thought it made juice.