Sunday, 19 February 2017

09:32 – It was 45F (7C) again when I took Colin out this morning, but with a stiff breeze and gusts to 30+MPH (48+ KPH). Today I’ll be working on taxes and Barbara will be labeling bottles again. She labeled several hundred yesterday and will do the same today. She labels while she’s sitting watching videos using headphones, so it’s not really work. [Edit: I posted that last sentence in a fit of temporary insanity. Labeling bottles IS work, and Barbara works her ass off in the business. RBT]

One weird thing happened when I installed the Netgear router. Everything I’ve tried works normally on all our connected devices except that Google no longer works on my Fire HD7. It works fine on Barbara’s Fire HDX7, so I’m not sure what’s going on. The difference may be the ad blocker I have installed on my Fire, but Google worked with it before I replaced the router, so it must be related to the new router.

I see that Trump plans to get rid of PBS/NPR/NEA and other government boondoggles that are related to the arts. It’s about time. If there was ever any good reason for subsidizing these services with taxpayer money, it disappeared at least 20 years ago with the introduction of DVDs and the rise of Internet video, MP3 audio, and other content-delivery mechanisms. I’m sure the government news/entertainment services will be hauling out Big Bird again to convince ordinary citizens that they should be allowed to continue feeding at the taxpayer trough. But enough is enough, and too much. If they can’t compete in a free market, they deserve to be relegated to history.

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44 thoughts on “Sunday, 19 February 2017”

  1. It’s bad enough when the taxpayer-funded propaganda is supporting the current government. When the propaganda goes against the government? Time to go.

    re taxes, guh. I’ve been procrastinating on that, as it’s simultaneously tedious and enraging. I’m tempted to file a friggin’ 1040-EZ, but I think the dollar cost would be too great for the savings in aggravation.

  2. “….. But enough is enough, and too much. If they can’t compete in a free market, they deserve to be relegated to history.”

    Anybody here ride Amtrak? Wasn’t it supposed to be paying its own way about 30 years ago?

  3. In the last day or two there’s been some discussion about CD rot. Does that mainly apply to just CDs, or to DVDs as well? Home made or commercial? Windows installation CDs/DVDs? Commercially made DVD/BlueRay movies?

  4. It’s your own fault, RBT. You’d have gotten away with it if you’d covered your tracks by writing “arbera-Bay”.

  5. Ruh-roh.

    Barbara’s at her desk right now. She just said “It is so work.”

    lol! My kids have told me for years I don’t work. I just sit in a big chair by a computer upstairs. At times, I get this from MrsAtoz, then bring up taxes, client debt and mundane biz stuff. That quiets her up!

  6. 45 here also this morning and currently, with no wind; snowpack is shrinking.

    I’m fine with ending gummint support for PBS, etc., but I would have preferred stopping the funding for a bunch of other stuff first that eats up a lot more money, BOOM. Starting with money and weapons systems sent to Israel and the Sandbox countries, the Fed leviathan itself, and various corporate and agricultural subsidies.

    Then he’s gonna have to spend, like he’s already said, a trillion somehow on our crumbling national infrastructure. The roads and airports in many areas really do look like Turd World level.

    Meanwhile quit fretting over NATO, the Russians and the Black Sea. Ditto the Chicoms.

  7. 76F and 85%RH, gentle breeze. We are under a flash flood warning but yesterday was beautiful, and so is today (so far.) There are nice things about living down here in the South, late winter, early spring, and late fall are some of them.

    Actually went swimming at 4pm yesterday. Pool was ICE COLD. But it was the perfect air temp when I got out.

    I can’t believe RBT said something like ‘it’s not work’ out loud! NOT a good choice!

    I better get busy doing some work around here….

    n

  8. Yeah, rookie error from someone who’s been married for 34 years this September.

  9. We’re all susceptible to rookie error, the older we get. It’s certainly nailed me a few times up here.

    And now for nine minutes of a guy talking about what the next civil war would be like, having conducted Red Team exercises last year at some point:

    https://westernrifleshooters.wordpress.com/2017/02/19/bracken-sends-103/

    More like Red Dawn than I would have thought, being an island empire. GTFO of the Clinton Archipelago if you can. And if you’re thirty to forty years younger than most of us here, consider either moving to a producing red state or to someplace like New Zealand or Chile.

  10. Anybody here ride Amtrak? Wasn’t it supposed to be paying its own way about 30 years ago?

    Parts of Amtrak could pay their own way (the Cascades and Accela lines), but the point was to run a *national* rail system.

    Brightline in South Florida is the project to watch with regard to Amtrak. If the company succeeds in connecting to Orlando and running a profit using only the set of state, county, and city taxbreaks available to other questionable private sector “job creators”in the region (cough … Magic Leap … cough), the argument could be made that the Amtrak model is obsolete.

  11. IIRC NO passenger rail project anywhere in the world pays it’s own way, with the exception of a link in Hong Kong to the casinos that bypasses a long ferry ride.

    n

  12. And here we can’t even fix or maintain our friggin’ roads and bridges and dams, let alone develop profitable passenger rail systems. A big mistake back in the day was dumping all the urban trolley systems.

  13. A big mistake back in the day was dumping all the urban trolley systems.

    Not really, they aren’t as flexible as bus systems and don’t mix well with cars on the same roadways.

  14. Yeah, well the buses may be technically flexible, but it takes 2 years to change a route, witness the current changes to Houston’s system. And they run the buses whether anyone is on them or not.

    Bus systems never make money either.

    n

  15. “Not really, they aren’t as flexible as bus systems and don’t mix well with cars on the same roadways.”

    You could say the same about bicycles, but they actually encourage those.

  16. Not good enough. You’d still be in trouble unless you ran them down by accident. You should be allowed to run them down intentionally. I’d put a cow catcher on the front bumper, or better yet a brush cutter.

  17. Back in B-school, we looked at railroads as part of a Logistics course. Darned few railroads ever made much profit from their passenger operations. Up & down the urban northeast, Washington – Boston, where the population densities were very high, they did make some money, but there the competition was ruthless. Also between the urban northeast and some of the interior big cities, and some of the routes to/from Chicago. Otherwise, it was mostly propaganda to get their name out, and to make the people who ran the companies that generated freight loads think of them. 20th Century Limited, Super Chief, and the Congressionals being good examples – very well known, not a high profit margin.

  18. Actually went swimming at 4pm yesterday. Pool was ICE COLD. But it was the perfect air temp when I got out.

    We went swimming yesterday also. The lower cement pond was 70 F, stuck my big toe in, screamed and pulled it out. The upper cement pond was 102 F and bubbling, spent an hour in it.

  19. No swimming up here today.

    Not with cars and pickup trucks able to drive across the bay ice. And ice fishermen out there every day, even in howling winds.

  20. Good news, though, near the end, for any Tennessee people here

    I hope it passes. Running down a few of the precious snowflakes would perhaps send a message to the rest. Don’t block roads.

    I’m looking at you, Mr. Ray….

    Keep looking as I am going to get a big ol’ moose guard installed on the front of my cowboy cadillac and see if I can’t find me a protest somewhere.

  21. “I know that I stomped on the gas pedal and steered right toward the protestors lying in the middle of the road, but I couldn’t help it! I was triggered! Seeing all those ugly, smelly, useless snowflakes getting in the way of the people who keep the country running, I just … I just …” And then break down in tears. Civil lawsuits will be thrown out and a local car cleaning place will give you coupon to get the SJW hosed off of your car.

  22. ….I hear the train a-comin, rollin’ around the bend, I ain’t seen the sunshine since I dunno’ when…..

  23. More like Red Dawn than I would have thought, being an island empire. GTFO of the Clinton Archipelago if you can. And if you’re thirty to forty years younger than most of us here, consider either moving to a producing red state or to someplace like New Zealand or Chile.

    I forget, what is the Clinton Archipelago ?

    So I wonder if Texas qualifies even if we are a red state transitioning to a purple state ? Of course, if President Trump (I like the sound of that !) deports all of the illegals then we will stay mostly red. Except for all of the Californians coming across the west border of Texas.

  24. And then there’s mysterious brake failures

    Nah, not needed. Your car’s computers will snitch on you, so what you want to do is stomp hard on the brake, then let your foot “slip” and stomp hard on the gas.

  25. Except for all of the Californians coming across the west border of Texas.

    What? They fly in via DFW and AUS. Car transport is usually part of the relocation package for a bigtime exec at AT&T or Toyota relocating to Dallas.

    We moved our cars ourselves escaping the Northwest since the relo basically paid for the moving truck and nothing else. A quote on my wife’s 4Runner was $7000 when the vehicle was only worth $5000.

  26. Some pieces of Texas there, podnuh….not as big as the Northeast, though…I’d consider TX a red state for now….

    The San Antonio morning drive talk hosts half joke about changing the survey maps for Trump’s wall so the barrier goes up around “Travis Island”.

    Travis (Metro Austin) was the only county that voted (D) in the last Governor’s race. That fembot candidate was loonier than Cankles if you can imagine such insanity.

  27. Well, most of the Northeast/New England on that map voted for Cankles population-wise, but those people are concentrated in the cities. Like I said about Vermont; it’s the capital, Montpeculiar; Burlap/Chittenden County; and the college towns. The rest of the state is red. This county, ferinstance, went for tRump and local Repubs in the last election.

    But peeps get their info from the MSM or phony cuckservative sites and figger Vermont is a buncha pot-smoking abortionist gay hippies. Which is utter bullshit. If that was so, how could we be tied with Arizona as the best gun state in the nayshun?

  28. Except for all of the Californians coming across the west border of Texas.

    What? They fly in via DFW and AUS. Car transport is usually part of the relocation package for a bigtime exec at AT&T or Toyota relocating to Dallas.

    Flying, driving, or crawling, they are crossing the west border of Texas.

  29. Nick writes: “NO passenger rail project anywhere in the world pays it’s own way, with the exception of a link in Hong Kong to the casinos that bypasses a long ferry ride.”

    It would hardly be fair to expect that. Cars, as the primary competition, have an absolutely huge subsidy, in the form of government maintained roads. If you want to compare apples to apples, you have to separate operating and infrastructure costs, and compare these separately.

    Even then, most new rail (and subway) projects I’ve seen make no sense. The infrastructure costs are too high, because they need to buy expensive rights of way, and because of all sort of political boondoggles. The operating costs often make no sense, for a whole host of other reasons. The bottom-line problem seems to be: a city needs to grow up around a rail line. Things get built where people have access to them; retrofitting doesn’t work.

    This isn’t only true in the US. A few years ago, Edinburgh decided it just had to have some light rail. They came in at 200% of budget, and built only half the planned length. The stretch they finally built runs basically the same route at the airport bus, but less frequently and no faster. Total cost around $1 billion for a city of 500,000. I’ve taken it once out of curiousity: it was nearly empty. No surprise: it has such a limited route, whereas the bus system goes everywhere.

  30. Regarding profitable train passenger endeavours.

    I would have thought that there are at least a few places in which this would be possible. Just thinking about this, I would have thought that in Japan the conditions would be an ideal scenario. They have very little land available for housing, property prices are steep, restrictions on car driving in main cities are big and they have a big population with a small territory. The amount of train traffic is huge, the frequency of trains is big and normally the trains are not empty.

    Quite a number of countries in Europe would be my second choice. Although not quite ideal conditions as in Japan, surely there would be a number of services there that could be run at a profit by private enterprises.

  31. When I lived in West Berlin I was carless (they cost too much) and very happy for the public transportation. For about 2 mark 50 (I think) (or a little more) I had enough time go get ANYWHERE in the city, taking as many transfers as I needed. U-bahn & bus were the way to go. If it was close enough that a car could get there faster (and park), it was usually close enough to walk.

    I figure that a certain population density and parking scarcity make rail & public transportation viable and profitable. Lose that, and it just doesn’t work.

    My grandfather told me of a time when private buses in my hometown were profitable. The line operator even plowed the bus routes and put down cinders when it was icy. One year the city sent him a bill for cleaning up the cinders in the spring. He paid the bill & sold off all the buses. The local MTA sprung up shortly thereafter, never to show a profit.

    I don’t know the “best” answer, but government involvement (interference) with a private business rarely seems to make it better.

  32. need to buy expensive rights of way

    It goes way beyond that for public transportation. Every taxing authority along the route wants to tax everyone that rides. Thus the ticket costs get too costly.

    A lot of people work in Oak Ridge that live in Knoxville along with many that live in Oak Ridge and work in Knoxville. A company got a grant to operate a bus between Oak Ridge and Knoxville. There were two problems. The cost of the tickets was $10.00 each way and people can drive for less than that amount. Cost was high because the city of Oak Ridge, the city of Knoxville, Anderson County and Knox County all taxed the tickets. Without the grant it would not have been profitable.

    Then the operator of the bus line chose the hours. To get to Knoxville for an 8:00 AM job start one had to catch the bus at 5:30 AM from Oak Ridge. When I was working I was driving a further distance on the same route, left the house at 6:30 and was at work at 7:15. Coming home I would not have gotten to Oak Ridge until about 7:00 PM. The schedule for Oak Ridge workers was just as absurd with only two pickup points in Knoxville.

    The system was designed to fail from the start. Bad schedules, expensive tickets. When the grant was up the buses disappeared. I suspect the operator made money from the grant money. I also suspect that DOE and one of it’s contractors was involved. Probably some contract bullet point that got satisfied in such a way that it would not need to be continued. Probably a bonus paid during the operation.

    When I lived in West Berlin I was carless (they cost too much) and very happy for the public transportation.

    When I travel to Germany I use the train and public transportation. The trains I get really cheap tickets, much cheaper than Germans can get the tickets. It makes the trains a desirable mode of transportation. Most of my experience has been on the ICE between major cities which generally run on time and get track priority.

    The families we know in Germany despise the D-Bahn and the train system. They complain about the cost, the failure to maintain schedules, strikes that snarl the entire system. But without the trains the major cities in Germany would suffer significant grid lock.

    Germany has a very dense population density. Evidenced by the very small gardens if any. Parts of Berlin are massive apartment complexes with small apartments. The population density is significant, probably comparable to New York, Philadelphia and other major US cities. For those train and bus transportation makes sense and is necessary. For a city like Atlanta that covers an area that takes two hours to drive across a public transportation would be massive and have low ridership. It would make it uneconomical without massive subsidies.

    I have taken the MegaBus from Knoxville to Washington DC and would take it again. The earlier you buy your tickets the cheaper. I think I paid $30 round trip. The bus trip takes 12 hours where I could drive in 10 hours. But on the bus I can sleep, read, watch movies, etc. Much more relaxing making it worth the two additional hours. That bus system only runs between major metropolitan areas. Only reason Knoxville is on the stop is because it is on I-75 which runs from Atlanta. The buses are always full and are making a profit. But such a bus between Knoxville and Nashville would not be profitable as the ridership would be low.

    Rail between cities in the US would also not be profitable. The freight companies own the rail lines and any passenger service would be as a guest. The freight would get priority. I took a train from Los Angeles to Klamath Falls OR. The train arrive four hours late. We had several delays while the train waited for a freight train with priority. Spent much time on sidings watching a slow freight train pass by. The train was noisy, seats not that great, too many cretins running the hallways, etc. Not a pleasant experience that I have no desire to repeat.

  33. I based my comment about non-profitability on research done and reported in the absolutely fascinating book: “Edge City: Life on the New Frontier” by Joel Garreau.

    https://www.amazon.com/dp/B005ACKOWM/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1

    Given the early 90s publication, the assertion may be out of date, but I don’t see any changes to the way the world works that would suddenly make light rail profitable.

    He also wrote The Malling of America, and The Nine Nations of America, iirc.

    Edge Cities documents how real life development gets done. Why buildings, developed areas, and modern cities look and function the way they do. Fascinating stuff, esp. the ‘rules of thumb’ he derives.

    nick

  34. I also read the “Edge City” book back around when it was published; it is, indeed, fascinating reading, and the edge cities he used as examples fit the bill nicely; IIRC, two of them were Tyson’s Corner, VA and Bridgewater Commons, NJ, the latter of which I’ve been in a few times.

    As for passenger rail, we have Amtrak up here, which runs from its current northern terminus here in Saint Albans, “Rail City,” and goes down to Mordor. Sanders and Leahy have been passengers for many, many years, and would ride it home on the weekends. Though they also flew out of Burlap sometimes. The plan is to re-extend the line up to Moh-ree-all; we’ll see if that actually takes place. I rode on it once down to Springfield, MA years ago and it was OK; better than the bus, which I also took once; the seats were designed for munchkins. Hours in that seat was hell on my knees.

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