July 21st, 2015

#4818: What makes a war hero?

Karl Denninger says Trump is right about McCain.

It occurred to me--sometime yesterday, well after hearing about Trump's comments--that if McCain is a war hero because he was held captive and tortured, doesn't that make every concentration camp survivor a war hero? Is George Takei a war hero because he was held in an internment camp in WW2? Are the survivors of the Bataan Death March war heroes?

What makes a person a war hero?

Denninger makes some excellent points about McCain's behavior subsequent to his return to America. Trump's comments make one wonder about what, exactly, we are venerating when we refer to someone as a war hero. It seems to me that surviving capture and imprisonment and torture--while undeniably a good thing--does not convey heroism on a person; and if it does, then all people who do so should be lauded as heroes. (That would, by the way, mean that Abu Ghraib was full of heroes, wouldn't it?)

The furious response from all and sundry on both sides of the aisle has come because Trump's comments have shocked people into thinking about what they're doing, rather than blandly accepting the narrative from their self-styled betters. If McCain is not really a war hero--and, come to think of it, who said he was?--then there might be other things that bear looking at, bald assertions made by the politicians and the media which aren't actually true.

* * *

If McCain is a war hero, then wouldn't Americans thrown in Wesley Clark's internment camps also be war heroes?

That pesky "freedom of expression" thing, it's so passe, don't you know? That was fine back when those old guys were in charge, but we're smarter than they were, so we can do away with civil liberties. After all, no one we know would end up in the camps, right?

* * *

Meanwhile the economy continues to suck. I've been saying it and saying it:
This relentless, severe decline in retail sales is not the symptom of some mere recession. A collapse of this magnitude and duration – in a consumer economy – can only be the symptom of a Greater Depression.
Food and shelter are seeing double-digit inflation, some categories as high as 20% per year--but the government needs inflation to be negligible, so of course it's reported as such despite the reality.

If, ten years ago, someone had told me that in mid-2015 I would be making that kind of statement, about the American government, I would have scoffed. At the very least, I would have said, the press would not allow the government to get away with something like that.

Well, the press is aiding and abetting it. No one in the aristocracy is interested in rocking the boat. It might upset the proles if they knew how much damage thirty years of deficit spending was now doing to their earning and spending power, and if the proles get upset people start losing elections and then there's no percentage in it for anyone.

The economic numbers being fronted by the US government are about as real as the ones coming out of China, and for much the same reason: reality is not conducive to continued government power. And who are you going to believe, prole? Us, or your own lying eyes? (We're pleased to announce that the price of a pound of ground beef has fallen from $2.99 to $4.29! Cheer or be shot.)

(Er, no: "Cheer, or become a war hero.")

* * *

$83,000 for drugs alone. The cost of being bitten by a poisonous snake? Well, the first bite is free, but once you fall into the pit of vipers that is a typical hospital in America, apparently it runs about $153,000...if you don't have medical insurance.

The cost of a decent house, in other words. Five days in the hospital at an average of about $30,000 per day.

Denninger talks a great deal about how to fix what is wrong with the country's medical system, and 90% of his solution is simply to apply existing laws ("...the Sherman, Clayton and Robinson-Patman acts...") to the medical industry, to which they currently do not apply.

The fact is, if the selfsame person who received that bill had medical insurance, he would be billed at a different, lower rate. I'm not talking about what he would actually pay, out of pocket, but rather how much the total bill is. Just to pull numbers out of the air, the "pharmacy" line item might be $53,000 or $38,000 for an insured patient, instead of the $83,000 that's listed for an uninsured patient. Of course someone with a reasonable health insurance plan might end up paying as much as $10,000 out of that $153,000 bill; the underwriter might pay a total of $60,000 or so. The hospital and its staff end up being paid $70,000-ish by the insured snakebite victim, but they'll bill the uninsured one for the full $153,000 and refuse to budge so much as an inch on the price.

...price fixing and collusion, in other words. Gangsters call their rackets insurance, too.

* * *

That ought to do it. Thanks very much, Ray. In its entirety:
The Pentagon Moves To Protect Recruiters

Marine recruiters have been ordered not to wear their uniforms.

Army recruiters have been ordered to keep the blinds closed.
What, they're not ordering another ten pallets of "gun-free zone" stickers?

Note that the guys who got shot by that islamic shithead aren't hailed as "war heroes" but John McCain is.

* * *

I could go on in that vein, but I really don't feel like it.

Mrs. Fungus and I were plenty tired last night, so we hit the hay pretty early. I'm only up now because my feet were hot, and my stomach empty.

I can't sleep when my feet are too hot, even if the rest of me is comfortable, and when it happens I invariably consider running a few inches of cold water into the tub and standing in it. In winter I could just step onto the front porch for a few moments, but of course in wintertime I don't have this problem. And it's July right now.

Anyway, I had a PBJ, and my feet seem to have cooled down, so I'm going to go lay down for a little while.

#4819: The hell of it is, he's actually surprised.

John F'in Kerry is "disturbed" that Iran has vowed to defy America. I can just see Kerry's dismayed reaction to the news: "But we agreed! We shook hands and everything!"

This is the mistake that these people make, time and time again, without fail. "Oh, he's reasonable. That 'death to America' stuff, that's just guff he's got to spew for the proles, it doesn't mean anything. We can dicker and he'll honor the deal, and I'll come home a hero!" Then they're shocked and dismayed when the other guy actually does mean it, that it's not just words for the proles, which is why he's been saying it all those years.

Quoth Kerry:
"I don't know how to interpret it at this point in time, except to take it at face value, that that's his policy," John Kerry said in the interview with Saudi-owned Al Arabiya television, parts of which the network quoted on Tuesday.

"But I do know that often comments are made publicly and things can evolve that are different. If it is the policy, it's very disturbing, it's very troubling," he added.
Guess what? It is the policy. Okay? And here's a news flash for you, Lurch: it's been the policy since 1979. One would think you might have noticed somewhere along the way.

* * *

$2,800 a month to live in a shithole. Oakland is a suburb of San Francisco, which has some of the most over-inflated property values in the country. SF has this issue because it's almost impossible to build new housing there, and because it's a city which has emplaced rent control, which always makes housing more scarce.

Oakland isn't as pricy as SF is, but for your savings you get a really lousy police force which won't even bother to investigate a stolen car any longer.

...but whatever you do, do not have a gun to protect yourself. The police will care about that; a law-abiding citizen with a firearm must become an example.

Another reason not to live in California is gas costs $1.14 more there than the average cost in the rest of the US excluding (probably) Hawaii. And why?
This,...is in large part because an Exxon Mobil Corp. refinery in Torrance has been out of commission since an explosion there in February, and the state’s environmental regulations are hampering the company’s efforts to quickly get it back to full production. This situation is not expected to improve by year-end.

The refinery is now operating at under 20 percent of its potential, mostly because the explosion damaged its two pollution control units, according to Mohsen Nazemi, the deputy executive officer for engineering and compliance of California’s Sourth Coast Air Quality Management District.

ExxonMobil has sought permission to use a previous model of the unit until the newer version can be installed, but was denied because the older unit emits between two and six times more greenhouse gases than the newer model, which would violate state regulations. To use the older equipment, he said, the company would need to show the state that it can contain offset these increased emissions.

In the meantime, ExxonMobil is working to repair the newer pollution control units by replacing about 1,300 plates that trap the emissions, which are made of a fine dust. "That’s not going to happen next week or next month,” Nazemi told the Los Angeles Times. “You’re probably looking at the end of the year."
We're not allowed to build new refineries, either. Of course the politicians in charge of all this don't care how much gasoline costs because they don't buy their own gas; the state pays for it.

* * *

Meanwhile, senior Planned Parenthood executive wants a Lamborghini, and is willing to sell all the baby parts she needs to in order to get it. That's my takeaway from the latest video and today's Morning Jolt:
Gatter concludes: "Let me just figure out what others are getting, and if this is in the ballpark, then it’s fine, if it’s still low, then we can bump it up. I want a Lamborghini."

It will take quite a few liver-thymus pairs before Ms. Gatter can afford her Aventador, but it’s nice to see that she’s goal-oriented.
Understand, this is an executive in a non-profit organization talking about getting enough money from a deal to buy a car costing upwards of half a million dollars--and the dicker is over the body parts of murdered people.

* * *

This is ridiculous. It's now possible to hack into a car and take over its functions while it's driving, including applying (or shutting off!) the brakes. For the time being they can only control the steering while the thing's in reverse, but they think it might be possible to control it while in drive, too.

...glad my Cherokee's computerization is limited to the powertrain control module. It looks as if the vulnerable cars have cellular Internet access and a host of other systems, stuff which I would never pay for, but a vulnerability is a vulnerability.

As much as I like technology, I despise the "always connected" model. I don't need WiFi in my car; I don't spend enough time in it where I'm not driving for it to be anything like an economically sound investment. If--if--I want music, I have CDs of music in the arm rest, and further it is equipped with this mystical device called a radio which receives entertainment programs for free via radio waves.

I got out of the habit of having the stereo on in the car, though, years ago. Somewhere along the line I realized that it's possible to drive somewhere--even long distances--without a constant drumbeat in my ears, and came (in fact) to enjoy driving that way. Like anyone else it used to be automatic for me--in the car, pop in a tape, off we go--but that alone shows how long it's been since that was my habit, since the last time I had a vehicle with a cassette deck in it was about 1999 or 2000. (The Jeep had one for, what, a week? Two weeks? --after I got it, but I didn't bother with it.) (Four days, it turns out.)

That's probably why I still haven't fixed the short in the door speakers....

#4820: The work is done.

I got the Jeep maintenance taken care of, I took some recycling in, and got the grass cut. Whee!

Did you know that scrap sump pumps garner some $115 per ton? The recycler has a seperate SKU for sump pumps, for crying out loud. I doubt--I hope--that there are no more sump pumps secreted around the bunker anywhere. I think that makes four of them that I've recycled, none of them functional or good for anything other than taking up space. I have no idea why Dad saved them.

I also took about three gallons of oil in, too. There's still more in the garage to be rid of, but I can do that another time; at least this time I managed to change the oil in the vehicles and get the oil from them taken in right away, rather than have it sit in the garage in a kitty litter bucket until it turns back into dinosaurs. I don't get any money for the oil, but at least it's out of my hair.

Right now, it's about the same temperature and humidity outside as inside. That's great; it means that in a few hours it will be cooler outside than inside, and I can open the house up and cool with outside air tonight.

I'm going to have to water the pepper plants more often, dang it. They're not growing very quickly, and if I'm going to get any peppers out of them before October they're going to need more water than what's falling from the sky. I dug out Mom's little watering can, so I can do that periodically. I think giving 'em a good soaking every other day ought to do it.

Big difference between Jeep and Mrs. Fungus' car: the Jeep is much easier to change the oil in without getting your hands dirty. Mrs. Fungus' car uses a cartridge-type oil filter, where you have to unscrew a cap and change the filter element. I have no idea why Toyota specified this stupid crap; it certainly doesn't weigh less than a spin-on filter, and there doesn't seem to be any real performance advantage to it. But the damned thing is guaranteed to leak oil on your hands when you unscrew it.

Jeep? I got a dribble on my hand when I took out the drain plug; similarly the only oil I got on my hands after that was when I was putting the new filter in. I pre-fill my filters, and I tilted it a bit too far on the way down to the boss--my fault entirely. Ordinarily I don't spill a drop...and that's with a horizontally-mounted, rather than vertically-mounted, filter.

The ass-o-meter told me the Jeep was happy with the new lube, though I know there's no way in hell there's actually a perceptible difference in the performance of the thing just because it's got fresh oil in it. For good measure I topped off the brakes, power steering, and coolant reservoirs; the brakes have dropped only far enough that it's because of pad wear, not a leak in the system. The coolant--well, there's that whole "cylinder head" thing to be concerned with, but there's nothing I can do about that (that I can afford, anyway) so I'm just going to keep my fingers crossed. (And could I please stop typing "cooland" when I want to type "coolant"? That's just annoying.)

I've never put fluid into the power steering. This is the first time it's needed it. (Granted I don't check it very often.) It takes some variety of ATF; all I had on hand was Mercon and I thought twice about putting that in, then decided that a Saginaw box ain't gonna care that much about having a little Mercon mixed in with the ATF or whatever transmission fluid Jeep specified for the power steering on the Cherokee. All this shit was designed decades ago, for crying out loud; it's not like this is some hypersensitive overengineered electronic power steering system that'll blow three seals and a bearing and leave me stranded if the wrong fluid is put into it. WTF, I've heard Ford power steering pumps whining like spoiled children from a quarter-mile away because some idiot put power steering fluid into them, instead of Mercon, and those people can still steer.

Kind of like the dirt bike: you need some kind of gear oil in the gear box, but it really doesn't make a great deal of difference which weight you use. (Also, recall that I used transmission fluid in the oil reservoir and it never skipped a beat--though it did smoke rather a lot. Heh. Got to love old technology!)

Speaking of the dirt bike--I'm thinking that I might get some space cleared out in the basement and work on rebuilding it this winter. Take the engine completely apart and reassemble it, buy (or make) new gaskets for it so it won't leak like a seive, get everything clean and neat and properly assembled--that would be a fun little project. That would give me the experience I need to rebuild the spare engine for the road bike....

Anyway, I just finished a bunch of chores and I need to get a shower. Jeeze.