Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Stop freaking out about Trump

New Florence Times
OpEd  21 March 2017

Pa Kracker

People need to stop freaking out about Trump-- it is not that bad!!

Across the nation and world there is a great deal of stress and angst about the Trump presidency, especially in the liberal media.  This is feeding on itself and causing a level of hysteria not seen since perhaps the peak of the Red Scare or Pearl Harbor.  And look, we survived those quite well.  After the end of WW2 the US emerged as a global leader and our economy thrived, so maybe Pearl Harbor was not such a bad thing in the long run.  Sure, sorry for all the people that died in WW2, but heck, they were going to die anyway. 

A lot of people are freaking out about climate change and Trump not doing anything about it.  But really, it will not be the end of the world and the worst to happen is still decades away.  A lot of us will be dead by then, so why sacrifice now in our lives for people who are not even born yet?  They will be smart and adaptable and able to figure out new lives under the changed warmer global climate.  People have always adapted, we survived the end of the dinosaurs and the Ice Ages just fine didn't we?!

But, but.... "sea levels will rise" cries the liberal press.  OK, to me in rural Pennsylvania (solid Trump country) why should I care?  There won't be any high tides lapping my house in the Laurel Highlands.  And maybe it won't be such a bad thing if coastlines change a little.  Personally I won't feel bad for all the rich people losing their fancy beach homes and vacation homes in the Caribbean.  Let them buy some of my land (IF I agree to sell) and spend their winters shoveling snow and summers cutting firewood like I do.  It isn't like the ocean is going away!  New people will have waterfront property-- and many of them are poor rural Trump supporters.  He's going to make their real estate increase in value!

But, but, but....  he might ruin the economy.  Well it tanked under Bush and we survived all OK didn't we?  And look at the stock market;  people are investing in stocks like crazy and what else matters?  A bunch of people with extra money think stocks will sell for more in a few years so they invest so they can get even richer.  What better indicator could there be that everything is going to be fine in the economy?  Afterall, when has the stock market ever changed course disastrously?  Not going to happen. 

But but, but, but...  cry the fake news liberal media...  he is deranged and might start a nuclear war.  Not likely-- he won't start a war, but if someone picks on a deranged president, then they'll get what they deserve.  North Korea might hit the west coast with a nuke, but hell, none of them people voted Trump and most of them are illegals anyway, so what's the big deal?  Trump would whack North Korea back with so many nukes, they'd never get a second shot into Wyoming or Iowa, Trump's heartland.   I'm not worried, so long as Obama does not come back for my guns, I'll be able to defend myself. 

We are going to be OK everyone.  We are not looking at sixteen different ways that Trump might end the world.  Maybe one or two are possible, but mostly it is just going to be a little juggling around of who is a winner and who is a loser.  The losers are always going to whine; that's no reason to listen to them.  Me, I'm going to be fine.  I'm no where near the ocean; I've got my guns; no one gonna target my place with their nukes;  and I am not too concerned with all those investors and stocks.  It doesn't affect me-- I've got my still in the woods and deer to shoot so I'm just fine.  So everyone just stop picking on our president and let him do his thing-- some golf for fun, some rallies for adulation, and building his business empire.  He isn't going to jeopardize all that-- so we all should relax and enjoy the new great America along with him.

Monday, October 31, 2016

A Day in the Life of Brian Trumpovitch

Brian stopped for gas on his way to work Monday morning.  He’d have to stop again later in the week because his truck only gets 18 mpg.  But he likes the feeling of being up high and looking down at all those losers in little cars.  Fortunately gas is at $2.39 now.  When Obama was setting the prices it was nearly $4.  Good thing they took pricing out of his hands or it never would have gone down.

Brian went in to pay and get a coffee and groaned at the line to pay-- Lots of other guys buying coffee.  Brian noticed that whenever there is along line, everyone ahead of him gets served before him.  It was the same at the place he gets lunch.  The deck seemed always stacked against him.  Brian wasn’t always sure who was stacking things against him, but these things couldn’t just be happening due to chance.

Brian was in a hurry because it was a rainy morning.  There was only one employee entrance at the warehouse where Brian worked.  Normally he’d park at the far end of the lot and walk to the entrance.  But on rainy days he liked to park close to the entrance.  It seemed like all his coworkers knew this because on rainy days they’d take all the parking spots near the entrance just to force him to walk further in the rain.  Brian knew they were doing this to get him because on sunny days there were plenty of parking spaces near the entrance.  This couldn’t just be coincidence; those guys were just trying to make things rough for him.

Brian hated his job but the pay was good and there was overtime after 40 hours.  He was not in the union, but got the same terms as the union guys.  They were the ones driving the forklifts, trucks and other machinery.  They’d gone on strike once and when the strike was over, everyone’s pay went up.  But Brian hated the union and would never join one.  Why pay those union dues?  The boss told him there’d be more work, but because of the union they sent the work to Mexico.  Brian hated Mexicans for stealing those jobs.  His brother lost his job at the factory when they automated the production line and now had to work at Walmart.  He’d probably still be working at the plant if it wasn’t for Mexicans.

Leaving work Brian passed the parking near the door reserved for management.  All those guys had nice BMW and Cadillac SUVs.  Shiny black.  Most of them were brothers, and a couple were married into the family; their dad ran the company. Brian hoped someday he’d be a manager too, maybe even vice president and have his own reserved parking spot  by the door.  He thought about what a great country America was; those  poor slobs in Russia and China never get nice cars like that—their systems are totally rigged. 

On the way home Brian stopped at his usual watering hole, The Workit Inn.  He liked the guys there.  Everyone pretty much focused on the tv and their beers.  Fox News would be on.  He liked Fox, it was reassuring to see someone telling it like it is.  All the other networks and all the newspapers all told it differently.  That pretty much proved they were working together and conspiring— what other reason could there be for so many so called “journalists” to all say the same things were “facts.”  Like those climate change people.  They all say the same thing so you know it is a conspiracy—just repeating what they’ve been told to say.   Only Fox has the guts to challenge the facts and tell the real story.  Plus the women announcers on Fox are so much hotter than the networks. 

Brian did not meet many women.  Women almost never entered the Workit Inn for a drink.   Brian remembered once these two chicks came in for a drink.  They were maybe sevens, not totally hot, but hot enough.  One was wearing a sweater and Brian asked if it was camelhair.  When she said no, Brian said “well it’s got humps!”   The guys all laughed; the guys all agreed he had a great sense of humor.  Brian wondered why those girls never came back.   Seems women only ever stayed for one drink at the Workit Inn.   Some did not even finish their drinks.  He guessed women just did not like to drink.

It was just after dark when Brian pulled into his driveway.  As he pulled in the headlights swung across the Trump sign in the lawn.  Brian felt a moment of pride; he was glad there was finally a candidate for him.  But he worried about how the system was rigged against Trump.  Look at the media—they all ever did was point out his so-called “flaws.”  How he gropes women (so what?) or doesn’t pay taxes (just shrewd business).  Just like with the climate change b.s., they all repeat the same lines, which can only mean they got them from the same script.  It had to be rigged.   The whole system is rigged.  Almost everyone is in on it, except for Brian and his buddies at the Workit Inn.  All those people whining—the women, the blacks, the Mexicans; and then the Chinese stealing jobs with the help of unions—they were the ones keeping Brian from ever getting to be a manager or having the Cadillac Escalade.   Well that was going to change soon.  Once Trump was in, Brian knew life was gonna start getting better for him.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Trump Threatens to Sue Everyone That Does Not Vote for Him

23 October 2016  3:54 PM
Trump Threatens to Sue Everyone That Does Not Vote for Him

Orange Creek, PA. Donald Trump, the Republican nominee for President, is infamous for outlandish things he says when off script. But today Mr. Trump surprised many within his core and campaign. His usual stump speech veered in a new direction as he lashed into Clinton’s supporters in a rally in the Pennsylvania coal mining town of Orange Creek.*

He first addressed the latest in sexual abuse accusations dogging his campaign:
“They’ve brought out all these liars. So many liars. And most of them not even good looking, except maybe that Drake woman. Very hot. I have all her movies.”

Getting visibly agitated, Mr Trump launched into the attack.

“I’m going to sue them all. They cannot lie about me and get away with it. I won’t let them. And the New York Times for printing their lies. I’m suing them too. But they are only the mouthpiece for the real liars. The crooked Hillary supporters are the real liars. I will sue them all. I’ve spent millions on this campaign. So many millions. And all my money, earned through my hard work and good deals. I make the best deals. So they can’t just steal my investment by voting for crooked Hillary and get away with it. I’m suing them all. They’ll pay. I promise you, anyone votes for crooked Hillary I’m coming after them. And I have so many lawyers. The best lawyers ever. I’ll get my money back.”

The small audience at Orange Creek cheered. But then many in the audience soon became restless. Even though this is strong Trump country, many do have Clinton supporters in their families.

After the rally several supporters (wishing to remain anonymous “for fear of being sued”) spoke with reporters. “My sister likes Clinton. I don’t agree with her, but I don’t think she should be sued. Hell. I’ll end up having to support my nephews if she is sued.” 
Others echoed his concerns. “I liked him better when he was just threatening the Mexicans and Muslims. Now he’s going after some good white folk. That makes me nervous.” Said a retiree wearing a Make America Great Again hat.

When contacted for more details, the Trump campaign headquarters said they have No comment. "We don’t take too much of what he says seriously anymore.”

*Formerly known as Clearwater before renamed after the Inanout Mining Company opened the Cashndash Mine.

Interview with Donald Trump

Birdwatching Today

October 26, 2016.   Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Interview with Donald Trump

Most people know that Donald Trump’s sons Eric and Donnie like to hunt big game.  But what many people do not know is that Mr. Trump gets his outdoors thrills as an avid birder.   Birdwatching Today staff writer Andy Mack caught up with Mr. Trump on the campaign trail for an interview to explore this little known side of the presidential candidate.

BT:  Thank-you for agreeing to interview, I know your schedule is very tight, what with Election Day coming up.

DT: That’s right Andy, before we know it November 28 will be here and I’ll be preparing for a move to the White House, which by the way, we might change to the Gold House.  It’s going to be very beautiful.  So beautiful.

BT: I’d guess most of our readers do not know that you are a keen birder.  Why do you think that is?

DT:  Well, I never advertised the fact.  As you know I am a very private person.  Also there are a lot of birders out there and many of them get jealous.  You see I am the best birder.  I have the best eyes.  I can see a hummingbird perched in a thicket at a hundred yards.  Without binoculars.   And I have great hearing.  Better hearing than almost everyone.  I sit on the top of Trump Towers in migration and identify the birds flying over at night.  I’ve heard over 600 species just from my roof.  That’s so much better than anyone else can do. 

BT:  That’s pretty amazing!  That’s more species than there are known to migrate in all of North America combined.

DT:  See?  I told you my hearing is great.  No one hears better than me.

BT:  Do you have a favorite family of birds? 

DT: Definitely.  The Trumpeters.  You know they are named after me.   Great birds.  So smart and so much class.  You know they eat slugs?  Swallow them whole. 

BT:  Umm, oh I did not know that.  I thought trumpeting had something to do with the noises they make.

DT:  Nope, but they do have a great call.   It’s like   “ME, ME, ME!!!”  Very loud.  When threatened they have a distinctive whining call:  “Suuuue, suue, sue”  scares away predators like no other call.  Great birds.  They have the best name.   I let them use it even though it is trademarked.  That’s a joke.  Get it?

BT:  Good one.  Any other favorite birds?

DT:  So many.  I have so many favorite birds. Of course Trumpeter Swan., named for Dad.  And of course most any European Paridae.  But also Piratic Flycatcher, Orange-crowned Warbler.  Jackass Penguin. Parasitic Jaegar,  Liarbirds. All species I can relate to.

BT: Do you mean Lyrebirds, with a “Y”?

DT: There you so called “journalists” go again.  Looking for your “A-Ha, Gotcha” moment.  Trying to distort my words.  But you won’t be able to.  I know birds.  I know them better than anyone.  My life list is over 15,000

BT:  Sorry my mistake, for some reason I thought they were Lyrebirds.

DT:  Yeah, so many beginner birders like you make mistakes like that.  Keep at it.  Maybe you can apprentice with a master like me someday.

BT:  Thanks, that would be great.   Are you planning a new show, maybe something like Birder Apprentice?  That would be great if it happened.

DT:  I like your enthusiasm, but I don’t think it will happen.  I might be pretty busy the next four years.

BT:  Well, we can only hope and I think on behalf of the entire birding community, we’re all hoping you will have lots of free time in the next few years.  Thanks for meeting with us and sharing with our readers.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Why Conservation is Failing and how to fix it, Part 12

Why Conservation is Failing and how to fix it, Part 12

I'll say what everyone avoids saying in the business.  Conservation organizations compete for funding.  We like to paint a picture of bucolic cooperation to donors, but the truth is we compete.  One organization's gain is another's loss.

Some might argue, to them I would point out the hundreds of conservation priority-setting studies that begin with some sentence like "because conservation assets are limited...."   This justifies the need to set priorities.  Funds are limited, so the logical conclusion organizations compete.

With a fixed pot of money if you start with four organizations, it looks something
 like this:

As you add organizations, the shares have to get smaller:

AHH, but we say,  the amount is not completely fixed, and organizations can drum up NEW sources of funding.  That is one reason they have development staff.  A strong Development Team can produce some new donors.   So the funding scene looks a little more like this:

The smaller ones still have their fixed share, but the larger ones are adding to the overall pool.

But the problem is not all NGOs can add new donors, so as more organizations form, they are left splitting their share of the fixed pool, while the larger organizations can sustain larger budgets, so pie begins to look more like this:

As competition for funding increases, the people within an organization who should be implementing conservation (not doing development)  spend increasing amounts of time fund raising (a topic discussed elsewhere in this series).  Eventually nearly everyone in an organization spends some time on development in one way or another.

And as I have also written in other parts of this series, when an organization is large it develops capacities the smaller organizations cannot develop, which in turn enable the large organizations to attract larger donors than the smaller organizations.  These factors lead to a negative feedback loop (from the viewpoint of small and local organizations, but a positive feedback loop from the perspective of the big international organizations) wherein conservation funding becomes increasingly unequal between a few large organizations and many small organizations.

In other words, when the main agents cultivating conservation donors also work for a specific conservation implementer, then those donors dollars go only to that single implementer.  This forces all organizations to compete by investing in development staff and activities.  It also drives donors to select their recipients more on the basis of the organization than the actual execution of conservation and outcomes.  Organizations gain funding by having strong development programs, not on the strength of their conservation programs.

What can be done?
One way to break this cycle is to segregate development from implementing programs.  Build organizations whose main mission is to raise conservation funding and distribute that to existing organizations based on their merits, i.e.  not to support their own activities.  This way an organization can specialize and excel in raising money AND direct that money to where it is most effective, not just to its own, often less effective, programs.

If development is segregated from the implementing agencies, donors can then choose based on real conservation priorities-- threatened species, geographic foci, etc.  and then those funds go to the people addressing those priorities.  When the independent development team that has raised funds has money to invest, they are free to select optimal recipients without bias to support themselves.  When those development people work for an implementing organization, they have no choice.  Organizations supported by such an intermediary can reduce their time and investment in development to focus on conservation.

There are organizations that do this.  One example is the Wildlife Conservation Network*.  Some of the crowd funding groups, like GlobalGiving**, essentially do this also.  There really are limits to conservation funding.  We need to start spending it more wisely on conservation and less on competition to build our slice of the pie.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Let’s stop validating the anger

Let’s stop validating the anger

From Bernie to Obama, from Trump to Mitt, when speaking about the Trump base everyone says something like: “I understand their anger.”

Maybe they do not want to annoy angry people.  Maybe they think angry people vote.  But I wish someone would examine that anger a little more closely and honestly. 

Putting aside that such anger marks emotional immaturity and is destructive, should everyone simply pander to it?  I do not think so.  Instead of simply saying “I understand their anger,” let’s actually try to understand it…

Face it, a lot of these angry people are angry because they do not like blacks and they’ve had to endure a black president for two terms.  They really wanted him to fail and did everything they could to obstruct him.  He did not fail and that makes them angry.

A lot of these people are angry because they think the government is not delivering them enough.  They are slipping and the government is not helping.   Fair enough. BUT, many of these same people have been saying “government is the problem” since Reagan.  They want to reduce government and have endeavored to limit government.  They have turned ever more over to the private sector, which has no obligation to deliver anything other than shareholder profits.  Now they complain that government is not providing for them?    Listen kiddies, there are some 318, 900,000 of you wanting government services.  It isn’t there just for YOU and the hell with the other 318,899,999.   You can’t push for smaller government for everyone then be angry when it fails to deliver to you personally.

A lot of the angry Trump supporters are older white men.  They have lived a privileged life all their lives.  Privileged is their normal.  Now they see that privilege eroding—it is called equality.  They don’t really like that.

People are angry because the future does not promise to keep getting better for their children.  Are people really entitled to an ever improving world when their whole lives they have sucked up resources and put nothing back?  How many of these angry people can really say their presence on earth made the world a better place?  How can they expect the world to magically keep getting better?  If you have a large population greedily sucking up everything they can from a finite pool of resources, it should be no surprise that their children will not have it as good.  Stop blaming the government. 

Humanity is facing perhaps its biggest challenges ever.  Too many people, too few resources, and looming major shifts in the ecosystem we all depend upon.  Being angry and petulant is not the appropriate emotion.  Scared shitless, maybe, but not angry.  

Thursday, February 25, 2016

How to make your old car great again

Old Mr. White was frustrated.  His beloved old Chevy seemed to get worse and worse every year.  The transmission went, the brakes kept wearing out, it sputtered and stalled at times, even the wipers did not work as well as they used to.  Or at least it seemed that way.

Every few years he switched mechanics and they tinkered and replaced parts.  Sometimes the mechanics in the shop could not agree on what caused a problem.  Usually it was clear to Mr. White, they just needed to fix the muffler, or put a new bulb in the brake light.  But those mechanics always made it far more complicated than it really was.  When they did agree to the fix Mr. White demanded, it never seemed to help.  Incompetent, every last one.

They took his money and usually managed to patch things enough it kept running, but to Mr. White it just seemed like every patch just caused new problems.  Replacement parts now came from Mexico or Korea, not Detroit.   They just were not made as well, but he liked the lower price.  Solid original Detroit parts were ridiculously expensive; not like the good ol’ days when the corner garage could keep her humming smoothly for a few bucks.

With every new mechanic things seemed to get worse.  He’d find a new shop and get optimistic, but they always disappointed.  It was their fault.   It wasn’t because he sometimes forgot to change the oil or the time he let it run out of coolant.  Coolant and oil just got too expensive, Mr. White resented paying so much just to maintain his dear old Chevy.  Why should he have to pay more?  He already paid a lot for the car, it should run fine without all that money for brake linings, wiper blades, much less gaskets or bushings.

He gave up and mostly stayed at home with the car out front under the oak.  He’d bitch with his neighbors about how the car just didn’t work anymore.  And many of them would bitch along with him, pointing to the old Buicks, Pontiacs and Fords in their front yards.  

They didn’t mix much with the young  Eddy Katehead down the street who inherited ol’ lady Katehead’s place.  Eddy drove one of them hybrid cars and was always bragging about how the new technology worked so well and how he only bought a few gallons of gas a week.  Damned thing was so quiet you couldn’t even hear him coming down the street, an Eddy always smiling and waving all friendly like.  The ol’ boys wished old lady Katehead was still alive, even if she had been a hairy-chinned treehugging bitty.   She was the one made them all have to pay for sewer service on the street when their septics worked just fine,  ‘cept now and then the funny smell after storms.  But that’s another story and now no one missed paying for the honey-dipper’s annual visit.

One day on the porch Mr. Littlehead told Mr. White he’d like to “smack that Eddy Katehead bastard and his high bread tek knowledge-y  all the way back to the city he come from.”  And Mr. White laughed so hard a bit of spittle flew right over the banister into the azalea bushes.

Then Littlehead told  Mr. White about a new garage and mechanic in town.  This Trump guy wasn’t like all the other mechanics.  He didn’t bore you with bullshit about timing belts or try to tell you gaskets blew if you let the engine overheat.   So soon as he got his sosh scurity check from the damned govmint he took the Chevy in to talk to this Trump guy.

Mr. White liked what he heard.  Trump said he’d make his Chevy great again.  He’d get it running so good, he’d think it was brand new.  He said he’d get everything polished up so well, you’d be able to see your reflection on the engine block.  He said the Chevy would use less gas than those new fangled hybrids.  Hybrid owners were just lying about their mileage, Trump said he’d heard a lot of those hybrids did not even get ten miles a gallon.  They just lied so you’d sell your good Chevys and Fords and buy their hybrids.  Better yet, he would not charge a cent to fix the Chevy.

Mr. White had never had a mechanic like this!  This was great!  Someone was finally telling what he wanted to hear about his Chevy.  He didn’t ask how Trump was going to fix his car.  He didn’t need to because Trump was so rich.  He couldn’t have got so rich if he wasn’t able to fix cars like he said, right?  Why would he lie since he already had so much money? 

Mr. White told all his neighbors about Trump.  He even tried to convince that Eddy Katehead fellow to take his car to Trump, but the dumb kid just asked a lot of questions about warranties or how all those replacement parts could be free, and why Trump didn’t bill for labor.  Trump was going to get the Mexicans and Koreans to pay for those spare parts, since it was their fault they broke in the first place. 

Mr. White felt less alone and isolated when he got together with his friends at the Trump garage.  They all got excited about getting totally remade cars for free.  Their rides were gonna be like the good ol’ days and they didn’t care how Trump did it.  They knew he would not let them down like all those other mechanics.  Here was a mechanic that finally promised to give them what they wanted.   Business boomed and Trump opened more and more garages across the state, then across the country.

Mr. White and his buddies could not wait for their shiny new cars.  Mr. Trump did not ask them for any money; he didn’t need money seeing as he’s already a billionaire.

All they had to do was turn their cars over to him, and to make it easier, just sign over the titles of the cars to him too.  Once he owned the cars, he’d fix them and then give them back.  

One little signature.

Everyone is going to have great cars again!