Putin Holds The Cards

 

The Ukrainian Revolution is not secure.
 
I well remember the Czechoslovakian Revolution of 1968 — it was put down by Russian tanks. The West did nothing.
 
Vlad Putin is the former head of the KGB. He knows well the President Obama is a weak and flaccid president, who will not oppose the intervention of Russia tanks, particularly if they enter the portion of the Ukraine that is reflective of the old Soviet power.
 
Putin has been freed from the Olympics, and can turn his fishy-eyes to the Ukraine. He has many tools short of military power — oil, gas, economics — but his trump card is tanks, he has them and he knows how to use them.
 
Unlike the Czech Revolution, our satellites watch those tanks before they move a mile, and social media can organize the Ukrainian opposition.
 
The US has stood by while more than 100,000 Syrians have died, and while the US and the UN required a destruction of poison gas — and that has simply not happened. 
 
Putin is on the upswing, Obama is on the downhill slope.
 
I would be very surprised if Putin did not take advantage of the situation.
 
We simply lack gravitas because we have a weak leader. Putin has no opposition to do whatever he chooses.

Uprisings, Everywhere

 

The semi-successful Ukrainian revolt is just weeks or months ahead of a similar revolt in Venezuela. Both the revolts were US fingerprints on them, but in both cases we are geographically remote.
 
In the case of the Ukraine, it is really a European Union responsibility, and strangely, several European nations have taken the lead, including France –  which is also trying to bring Obama along on Syrian intervention.
 
It is some sort of question as to who the most powerful world leader might be, but it certainly isn’t Obama.
 
We don’t have friendly nations in South America, who can act in our common interest, but Maduro of Venezuela has managed toed story the economy so badly that US interference is not needed.
 
Last week, the climate changed in Maduro’s regime. It started with Maduro ordered several US officials from his nation, and ended with Maduro suggesting that the US and Venezuela exchange Ambassadors, and between there were deadly riots with the opposition just like it happened in the Ukraine.
 
The Venezuela riots continue, and we have no nearby French President equivalent to call upon.  

Largest Single Lynching of Blacks Was in New York?

 

You have heard of the Salem Witch Trials, but have you heard of New York City Slave Uprising of 1741, and Tea Men?
 
Neither had I.
 
(It is also called the “New York Conspiracy” and the “Negro Plot.”)
 
Funny, as in strange, not humorous.
 
Particularly true because despite the mental picture of Witches being burned at the stake, actually none were. 19 “Witches” were hanged, and one died from being pressed to death with stones.
 
Many more were killed in the NYC Slave Uprising of 1741 –  and, in fact, 13 Black men WERE burned at the stake! The Court additionally hanged 18 Blacks and four Whites, and imprisoned 150 Blacks and 25 Whites.
 
And neither you nor I ever heard of it, while the Salem Witch Trials are easily remembered. I wonder if it could be that the concept of only Blacks being abused in the South is the Politically Correct narrative. This event has been called the  greatest lynching in America  and you thought lynching only happened in the South?
 
And “Tea Men?” Well, there was no running water in NYC of 1741, so slaves were sent to water pumps to gather water for the upper-class households. That meant that slaves gathered at the pump, and it was presumed that slaves gathering at the pump facilitated the uprising.
 
Subsequently, a law was passed forbidding slaves from gathering at water pumps, and white Tea Men were paid to gather water for household tea.
 
It is amazing what one can learn by reading history, or in this case listening to the Audible book from the Great Courses, “Before 1776: Life in the Colonies”
 
Listening to lectures by real-life professors is interesting, rather than just accepting the version in your head.
 
 

Sheep!

 

One of my time-passing endeavors is to read – magazines, books, books on Kindle app on iPad, and Audio Books. I love having so many different media from which to learn.

My current reading (actually, listening) is “Before 1776, Life in the American Colonies,” and it reinforces my contention that modern Americans are Sheeple, Wusses, or whatever term you might chose.

In the 1760s, England tried to establish a Sugar Tax – actually they had one before but had not enforces a tax on a major commodity, and sugar and molasses were huge commodities.

The Crown sent a Tax Man to Newport to collect taxes on sugar (a tax that proceeded a Stamp Tax, and a Tea Tax), and first the merchants tried to bribe the Tax Man to look the other way.

Unfortunately, the Tax Man was honest. However, where there is a will there is a way…

Now Newport was a small town in the mid-1760s and most people were related to one another – so when a ship came in and declared no molasses (although the cargo was obvious), and the TaxMan had the Ship Captain arrested by the local Sheriff. When the arraignment came, the Judge did not appear, and when he was found and returned to the Court, the Sheriff was nowhere to be found.

When a ship came into Newport, and fearing the Tax Man continued up the river to a smaller port, the Tax Man followed. He boarded the ship and, as usual, the Captain said there was no sugar aboard although, once again, it was visible. The Tax Man went to the dock and found a group of obvious Sailors, whom he importuned to board the ship and sail it back to Newport – but the Sailors contended that they were Farmers and sailing a ship to Newport would surely destroy the ship.

So the Tax Man returned to Newport, found Sailors who did not know what they would be asked to do and returned to the ship – whose cargo had been removed to storage in a warehouse. The Tax Man boarded the ship only to find it settling into the mud, because the “Farmers” had bored holes in the hull after removing the sugar.

I see modern Americans sitting in long highway traffic jams, suffering pot hole damaged tires and wheels, and meekly honoring retired CongressCritters at cocktail parties when they should be ashamed to show their faces. I suspect that I future days even disgraced former San Diego Mayor Bob Filner will be addressed as “Mayor Filner.”

A Boston once so revolutionary that they would throw tea in their harbor, subsequently would see their progeny re-elect a Mayor (Mayor James Michael Curley, four-time Mayor of Boston) who was languishing in jail while re-elected!

Surely any self-respecting American would never claim to be friendly with a politician or a tax collector!

Modern (and Ancient) Marriage

On-line dating is now responsible for more than 30% of all marriages.
Well, why not? Arranged marriages probably work as well as our dating system which suffers a 50% failure rate, so why not the internet?
I suspect that marriages selected by the Reverend Sun Myung Moon work as well as any, often between man and woman who had never met.
You recall (I hope) that the Yale graduate Seminarians brought both Christianity and literacy to Hawaii. What you may not know is that the officiating church members required that the Missionaries be married, and almost all of those leaving on a long, dangerous and very uncomfortable sailing trip to Hawaii had only been introduced to each other in the days or weeks before sailing. Young women were brought by wagon and carriages from surrounding farms, and it was considered a high privilege to marry a preacher going out to bring the Word of God to the Hawaiian heathens.
Just married — often on the dock — they braved months of harsh living aboard barely seaworthy ships and “enjoyed” their Honeymoons separated from others by only a sheet to provide a privacy partition, and then eventually landed in a hot climate with only woolen clothing on their backs and only thatch huts to live in.
The joke in Hawaii is that when the Missionaries arrived, the Hawaiians had the land and the Missionaries had the Bible, but in the end the Hawaiians had the Bible and the Missionaries had the land.
This is simply not true! Even as a non-believer, but one who has written on the history, culture and politics of Hawaii, the Missionaries did nothing but good. It is true that the Missionaries brought American-style laws, and the Missionary children took advantage of their knowledge of those laws, but the Missionaries themselves were pious advocates for their religion, brought literacy to an aboriginal people and lived in poverty.
There is little knowledge of the actual marriage relationships — they had too much to do to worry about anything except doing their job — but it is doubtful they were any worse married partners than those of modern society.

Petty Was Right

Richard Petty, called “the King” of NASCAR caused a bit of a kerfuffle when he commented on the driving skills of Danica Patrick.

I have expressed a similar analysis of Danica’s driving skills but I have never been so descriptive as the King, who said Danica could only win a NASCAR race,”if everybody else stayed home.”

In the past I have compared Danica to Michelle Wie, the beautiful Hawaiian golfer — although subsequently Wie won two tournaments. I was remarking about the days when she was a willowy, 6’1″ absolutely stunning high schooler who had never even qualified for a women’s match, but who presumed to try to enter men’s matches. She was a decent, but unremarkable talent who used her beauty to use the press. Even now, a decade later she is unremarkable as a woman golfer — but still a beauty.

The first I recall was Anna Kournikova, a stunning Russian women’s tennis player whose bikini shots ranked her #1 in Google search, but she never won a Women’s Tennis Association title back when she used her beauty. She won a lot of eyeballs! Not so much as a tennis player.

Now Danica is not on the same “looks” department — but she certainly is not ugly, or even average, but she is not also not an average, much less good NASCAR wheelm…ahhh…wheelwoman. Perhaps she has potential, but she was not even a great open-wheel driver in INDY series.what she is, is a unique NASCAR driver. She is a woman.

(Admittedly, skills are not necessarily transferable between open-wheel and NASCAR, but she got the chance because she is a woman.)

There are much better drivers cooling their heels awaiting a seat on amatory team, while Danica’s a seat because she is a woman. Team owners can put their wives in the seat if they wish, but not without drawing the attention of the critics.

“Loop”

 

Well, just like Spring, the Federal Minimum Wage is coming around. Again.
 
Since the mid-50s, the Federal Minimum Wage has been raised numerous times. Each time it is raised, the argument is that raising the Minimum Wage will “bring millions out of poverty.”
 
O.K. If that is true, why are millions STILL in poverty?
 
Now about starting with facts: About 2% of the US hourly wage workforce is paid at or below the Federal Minimum Wage. (I checked the number with PolitiFact, which fact-checked a comment by Ohio Republican Senator Rob Portman.)
 
Now the Congressional Budget Office says the proposed Federal Minimum Wage would raise 800,000+ out of poverty at a cost of 500,000 who would lose their job. So, some would do better at the cost of others becoming even more impoverished.
 
Now obviously, that is always true, or the Feds would simply raise the Minimum Wage to $50.
 
As an employer for many years, and as a turn-around manager for the Federal Bankruptcy Court, I always wondered how someone who has never seen my business, or met my employees could possibly know how much they are worth to the company.
 
The worse part of a Minimum Wage is the income ratchet, which relates directly to everyone in the food chain. If you raise the MW to $15 from $8, what happens to the employee who was making $10. I’ll tell you, they are going to come to the employer and say, “last week I was valued by the business $2 more than John, but by government fiat I am suddenly worth $5 less? I want a $7 raise!”
 
Then, in comes Mary…
 
Up goes the price of the product, all products, and guess what?
 
The guy making $15 is back in poverty, requiring a $20 Minimum Wage.
 
And the cycle repeats, or in computer programmer-speak, Loop 

Schadenfreude

 

In spite of my all-too-long ago Naval reputation, I am not by nature a mean person, but I admit to a fair share of Schadenfreude. Witness my contention that in the modern age of transportation, anyone can live anywhere else on the US Mainland in five hours.
 
That is an appropriate observation as the East Coast suffers under feet of Global Warming, while I enjoy 82 degree days in the middle of February.
 
That is my choice. I left Texas at 17 after a year at Trinity University as a Math major, and Enlisted in the Navy. I took a long train ride to San Diego Boot Camp, and while I only pulled a couple of liberties before joining my first ship in Korea, it was pretty obvious that San Diego and my hometown of San Antonio had little in common, weather wise.
 
Upon graduating from the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland a few years later, it was obvious to me that just as San Antonio had been to hot, and Annapolis too cold, San Diego was “Just Right.”
 
I spent ALMOST my entire Naval career (Submarines) in San Diego — after telling my Detailer that if he wanted me out of San Diego he would have to send three large men, and he was going to lose two of them.
 
The problems in the middle of the country, and on the East Coast, while recently unusual are within historical “norms” even though near the outside range. Of course those in Southern California and Hawaii are happy that we are not even more crowded, still we wonder “Why.”
 
I remember that when I visited Adak, Alaska, that some men re-enlisted to remain there because they lived hunting and fishing. Obviously, the human mind can find reasons to accept, even love, anywhere. (Adak has the Adak National Forest — a clumping of about 10 trees planted in WWII. Those trees were five feet tall when planted — and are five feet tall today!)
 
I see people living Cheek to jowl in NYC, and in remote ranches in Wyoming, so intellectually I understand that there is a wide range of comfort levels. I even had a rather close family member sent to live with the family of a Musher who raised sled dogs in the wilderness of Alaska — complete with a frozen out-house, and no hot water.  (The Laundromat in a nearby town had showers for those who came in to do their laundry.)
 
Normally, I can sit out on my lanai, and watch the Golfers and my Koi for 10 months a year. This year it is 12 months, and I do so hearing of pile-ups on Eastern freeways caused from snow.
 
But everyone lives where they want to live.

The Robots Are Coming, The Robots Are Coming!

 

I have remarked often about the clash between rising pay rates for work and the inclination of managers to counter those rising wages with technology.
 
It is a continuous battle, and technology improves daily to overtake the need for people — except to build the technology, which requires greater education.
 
The latest technological advance is really interesting to me because I sell houses, but I don’t work hard at it because I am old.
 
Still, because I spent decades in computers, including 14 years as a professor of computer science at a local university, I retain my interest in technology. I am a Geek.
 
So the latest revelation from Harvard really impressed me. Basically they have invented a scalable set of construction robots which can build a wall, or a building using blocks. The important part it that Harvard Robots use the “termite” methodology of construction.
 
Termites have no idea what any other termites are doing — they only know what has to be done and if there is a block or brick needed in a staircase, they put their block or brick where needed. If a termite dies, it makes no difference because the next termite never knew what the dying termite was going to do anyway.
 
The Harvard Robots are just the size of toy cars but they are scalable both up and down, so it can be used to build a house, or a fort under enemy fire, or a Space Station.
 
 
Or, in easier “GeekSpeak” using “TinyURL” you can just press on:
 

Scammers Never Sleep

Once again I had a call, actually two calls hours apart on two separate phone lines, from scammers with Pakistani/Indian accents who insisted they were from the “Windows Technical Team” and that my computer was showing errors on the Windows servers.

It is called “RansomWare” — as in they want me to download a program from their website which will fix my virus infected “errors” for free.
 
Of course their software IS the the virus, which will shut down your computer and the next day they will call back and offer to decrypt your computer for a fee. To make certain the fee you send them is not traceable, they tell you exactly how to do that.
 
The good news is that, at least so far, the code they send you to decrypt your computer actually works. The bad news is that answering their phone call and doing what they say, will cost you up to $300.
 
I asked the caller, where he was calling from, and he answered “Los Angeles” — so I asked who the new Mayor of Los Angeles is, and when he said he didn’t know, I asked who the Governor of California, and what freeway one takes from LA to San Diego — he hung up. 
 
The caller ID said the call was from 661-771-6568, which actually is Tehachapi, California, but using technology, anyone can be seen to be calling from any number, anywhere.
 
There are several exposes of this scam, including one from me on the internet under this phone number, but you know that people fall for these scams every day.