Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Microbes Discover The New World!

I'm currently listening to Volume 2 of Churchill's History of the English Speaking Peoples, The New World. In it, there's a phrase in his description of Magellan's voyage that jumped out at me.
(A) Portgugese captain, in Spanish pay, Magellan, set out on the voyage to South America and across the Pacific that was to take his ship round the globe. Magellan was killed in the Philippines, but his chief officer brought his ship home round the Cape of Good Hope. The scattered civilisations of the world were being drawn together, and the new discoveries were to give the little kingdom in the northern sea fresh importance.
I love the imagery of that phrase, as if there are invisible arms drawing the people of the world together. That proximity allowed deadly microbes to cross over into new continents. Smallpox in particular, laid waste to the American Indians.

In a way, it was an explorer we generally hold as innocent who wiped out the native populations of the New World. Actually, it would be more accurate to say that it was just bound to happen. The microbes lived in Europe and at some point in time, someone was going to cross the Atlantic, whether they were Indians going east or Europeans heading west. When that contact occurred, the fate of the Indians was sealed.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Asking The Greek Question Here

A while back, I posed the question that I think Europe should be asking re:Greece as well as themselves: How can you earn enough money to repay your debts?

This is a pretty simple question, one even an academic might be able to understand. I blogged about the Walmart crowd yesterday - many of them obese, covered in tattoos and speaking pidgin English. I couldn't figure out just what these people are supposed to do with their lives once academics raised the minimum wage to the point where machines were cheaper than hiring them. Meaningful work, at almost any wage, adds crucial value to life. An alternative of watching daytime TV (or worse) while collecting welfare is a living death.

These people are God's children, too, worth in His eyes as much as any of us.

In any case, that wasn't my primary thought while wandering the aisles of Walmart. Each one of those folks owes about $60K in government debt and that's just at the Federal level and doesn't include unfunded liabilities like Social Security.

What kind of idiot thinks these people are going to be able to pay that back or service our ever-growing debt? Who could be so unfeelingly cruel as to load them up with so much debt, without them really knowing or understanding? These are the people who will end up losing their jobs, having their bank accounts frozen and watching the elderly in their communities begging in the streets. Meanwhile, the academics running our government, both Republican and Democrat, will be smart enough to diversify their investments and escape the worst of it.

Really, what I thought as I watched a tough-looking hombre who was covered in skull and gun tattoos (who was shopping with his mommy) was, "Why shouldn't he get all those tats? If the women in front of him want to skip out of school in 8th grade and eat until they swell up like beach balls, why shouldn't they? If they want to live that kind of life, who has the right to raise wages until they can't find jobs and pile debt on them until we all go bankrupt and they take the worst of it?"

Secretary of the Treasury Jack Lew, graduate of Harvard, explaining how if we renooberate the fenombulator of aggregate demand, taking into account marginal tax rates on unearned interest income credit due to subsidized marmot exports to key trading partners, you can see that the growth of our debt is sustainable for the near future.

After that, we're all hopelessly screwed, but that's OK, because he's got plenty of good investment options.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Walmart Defeats Yale

Yesterday afternoon, we went shopping at Walmart. There were plenty of obese, tatted-up folks, many speaking somewhat intelligible dialects.

In Los Angeles, they've decided to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour. They did this because Very Smart People who are Academics with tenure at Ivy League Universities have produced graphs and charts and equations that say this is a good idea.

My own daughter, recently graduated from high school and possessing an abundance of ambition, is not worth $15. The store where she works right now would look into replacing here with machinery should they be forced to pay her $15. She's getting crucial experience, skills and confidence that will help her someday produce $15 and more per hour of value. Judging from appearances and speech, many of the Walmart shoppers had dimmer prospects.

What's the plan for people who can't or won't do what it takes to gain skills making them worth $15 an hour? Are they expected to just sit at home watching daytime TV all their lives?

I'd suggest that the Ivy League geniuses, after completing their elaborate journal articles, spend several days at Walmart and the DMV and ask themselves if their conclusions really make sense.

Because they don't to me.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Why Trump Wants To Be President

Pondering the circus that is our current presidential race, two thoughts struck be about The Donald's motives.
  1. He loves to be on camera.
  2. He saw how much money the Clintons made selling out the country to foreign interests and figured if a pair of dingbats like them could make 9 figures, he could make 10, easy.

Friday, July 24, 2015

In Case You Were Wondering

... 0350 is not a good time to get up.

The new Catican Guard recruits sleep in a crate downstairs. Once they're thoroughly house trained, they'll sleep with us. Early this morning, we awoke to what sounded like a puppy choking on something. Huge coughs from a very small dog scared us into going downstairs to check on them.

The thing to know is that going downstairs, even if it's at 4AM, starts a morning routine that cannot be undone. Doors are opened, little dogs are taken outside, food is served and a general good time is had by all. The fear that one of them had swallowed something dreadful overwhelmed our need for sleep, so down I went and up I stayed. It was all a false alarm, so I let my wife go back to sleep while I hung out with the little creatures.


Whatever they do, it's impossible to stay mad at them.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Trial By Jury

... owes a great deal of its existence to Henry II of England, circa 1160. Here's a good summary from the BBC.

I'm thoroughly enjoying Churchill's A History of the English Speaking People. As I read (listen to) it, I'm amazed at how narrow our understanding of history has become, at least as it was taught to my daughter in public high school. I know I've banged on this drum before, but I would bet that the only thing she knows about the subject was that white Europeans were racists. She would have no idea where our legal system arose.

Looking at the Wikipedia article on the Ashanti, the pre-European colonization African empire centered around modern-day Ghana, as far as I can tell, trials were an appeal to the chief and his buddies. Whatever complaints we may have about the American court system, I'd much rather face it than the king's counselors or the chief's shamans.

How does that legal system play into the white privilege that we're warned against by academia? It's all such a sad and narrow view of history. It seems to me that a much healthier way to learn history would be to appreciate the people that gave us what we use today, be that the internal combustion engine or jazz music. Maybe their faults can be forgiven with a little effort.