30 October 2022

Bolsonaro demonstrates more respect for democracy that our former guy

Apparently Bolsonaro is going to accept his decisive defeat at the polls in Brazil. 

Per the NYT
"On Friday, in an interview after the final debate, Mr. Bolsonaro was asked directly whether he would accept the vote's results, regardless of outcome.
"There's no doubt," he said. "Whoever gets more votes, takes it. That's democracy.""
 I point out, entirely without guile, that our disgraced and failed former president has never said this, or anything close to it.  

28 October 2022

The Irreducible Necessity of Voting ... a plea for everyone to do all they can

Here it is less than two weeks before the election, and, farflung correspondents, I am worried. We're hosting a music club that's been around since the 1950s in our house next Friday evening. It's hard for me to shake the fear that our music making on that particular weekend may turn out to be a dirge for democracy. Please don't let's let that happen. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE tell everyone you know it's vital that they vote this time, for democracy, not for the forces of darkness. I really do see the dichotomy as that serious the way things have gone down in our country. 

And don't forget, if you know people who may not know it, not only do the Right Wing Republicans (i.e., all of them) want to do absolutely nothing for ordinary people, but they do intend to end reproductive rights, cut Social Security and Medicare, and grow the debt with even more tax cuts for the very, very rich, and they want to end fair elections to ensure that they remain in power permanently. We used to have no difficulty calling such politics what it is: fascism. 

You have to finesse the message talking to some people. It does no good to alienate people. But even many folks who aren't "political," and who often don't vote, don't want the government telling them a teenage relative raped by her uncle can't get an abortion, and they don't want a governent that does absolutely nothing for them but restrict their rights and tank the economy with unstable and nutty economic theories and tax cuts for the rich. They don't want politicians to cut and disable Social Security and Medicare, which ordinary folks have paid for, and they sure as hell don't want anyone to end fair elections and rig the system so all elections they win are called "fair," but if they don't win, then they're "rigged" and their candidates have to take office anyway. This is the legacy of Trump, and it's unAmerican. Most people still believe in fundamental fairness, and if you can get them to realize that Republicans really do stand for ending fair elections permanently, and that the only thing they can do about it is vote... well, maybe they just will. The reality is, almost everywhere in America, that if we Democrats could get the same margin of our voters to actually vote as the Right Wing Party does, we would win almost every election. So, getting casual voters and nonvoters to actually vote is the key. And every single vote counts. 

Thank you. 

27 October 2022

The upcoming election and foolishness abounding

George Lakoff has often pointed out that small-l liberalism is mired in 18th century thinking that really just doesn't work in 21st century politics. (His analysis is much deeper and broader than that, but that's part of it). Anyway, I guess this applies to me squarely. Because I simply cannot understand how this election, both in my own state and in the nation, can possibly be even somewhat close. We have one party which is consistently seeking to overthrow the small-d democratic order, lies openly in its campaigns and ads about just about everything, and has no agenda at all other than reduce taxes for the rich and pander to the mean spirited hatefulness of the ultra right. I submit that although colored by my political ideology, these simple statements are essentially facts. The other party, while hardly a paragon of consistency, and marked by horribly inconsistent messaging, is basically trying to act rationally; to accept facts; to deal with the realities of climate change, global economic problems, etc. etc. So you would think just about everyone with, as folks used to say, "a whit of sense," would reject the Republicans en masse and vote for Democrats. But that is not what is happening. It is close everywhere, but that will translate into losses for Democrats. Some places. It is still possible, of course, that Democrats will win a significant margin in many states and retain the House and build a margin in the Senate (since two of our members are completely unreliable as Democrats). Possible, but most of the pundit class seems to think unlikely at this point. And I just cannot grasp how this could be so. Except that I realize I am taking a false premise as a given, that being that most people are rational actors and vote in their own self-interest. Clearly 2016 proved that was not the case, if it needed proving. But I am a slow learner. I still shake my head. And hope for the best. 
"If you want the present to be different from the past, study the past."
― Spinoza

25 October 2022

Gazpacho in a juicer

I've been experimenting with making gazpacho with a juicer rather than blender and sieve. Then add back about 20% of the pulp. 

My no-oil no bread recipe can hardly be simpler. 

2 or 3 cucumbers, peeled.
2 or 3 small asian pears, cored and peeled (or if you are separating the pulp, don't bother to peel; you don't want pear peels in the pulp). 
6 or 7 garden tomatoes
2 red bell peppers, cooked 2 min. in microwave, cored
2 cloves garlic
1/2 sweet raw onion
1 tbs. dried tarragon leaves
1 tsp. salt
about 1 tbs. lemon juice.
A little ice water

Run all the vegetables through juicer and add back roughly 20% of the pulp. Then use immersion blender till smooth. Can add up to 1/4 cup olive oil before blending if you like that; it makes it smoother and richer in a way, but less "gardeny." I like it without. Cooking the bell peppers makes them sweeter and less astringent tasting. Chill before serving. Makes about 1/2 gallon. 

22 October 2022


Just voted my (100% by mail) Oregon ballot. All Democratic of course. Not fooled by phony ex-Democrat Betsy Johnson's fraudulent campaign (of course!) We had a measure to enshrine health care as a right in the State Constitution (YES) and to ensure Republicans can't just escape their responsibility to show up at floor sessions of the legislature in order to prevent the Democratic majority from passing anything. Also not to opt out locally from our new law permitting psilocybin therapy (by licensed people), and to require relatively minimal permitting of guns and prohibiting high volume ammunition (designed to pass muster in the new horrible climate in the US Supreme Court, but I expect this measure to fail in relatively pro-gun Oregon). 
"If you want the present to be different from the past, study the past."
― Spinoza

21 October 2022

Tesla Model 2 coming

I own a Kia EV, but I'm a realist. I'm interested in the Aptera three wheeled autocycle, which can generate about 40 mi. worth of range just by being parked in the sun for a day (production is about to start, sales next year, delivery of current orders probably late 2024). But the real news in EVs is, as it often has been, Tesla. They have worked out technology and manufacturing for cheaper, better batteries, and the actual production of a much cheaper small car, which is probably going to be called the Model 2. It will likely be built in China, and so not eligible for the $7500 credit (they're current cars don't get the current credit either but they still sell well). But, here's the thing. It will compete directly with cars like the Bolt and the new Kia EV4, which is still a couple of years away. Small hatchback. Not tiny, but small. Expected price: about $25,000. For a Tesla, which will share most parts with its big brothers. This will definitely accelerate the huge shift to electric cars already underway. Tesla, unlike all the Japanese, other American, and European manufacturers, is retaining and expanding a technological and manufacturing advantage. Their only really strong competitor is the Chinese company BYD. 

20 October 2022

Short additional comment on EV market

There are exactly two automakers in the world that make money on every pure battery EV they sell. And they are the largest and second largest EV makers in volume as well. They are BYD (Chinese company, plans to build 4 million EVs and PHEVs next year), and Tesla. Sam Evans (the "Electric Viking" on YouTube) predicts BYD will be the largest automaker, period, in the world, by 2030, and Tesla is on track to be second. Both these companies didn't even exist as automakers in 2000. And they will be each larger than Ford, GM, Stellantis, Renault, Daimler, BMW, Volkswagen, Porsche, Volvo, Hyundai Group, Toyota, Nissan, Mistubishi, Subaru, Honda, Mazda, or Tata (India), which is a list of pretty much all the major automakers in the world as of 2000, as currently constituted.

BYD electric model

I submit this as proof that a major revolution in the auto industry is well past its tipping point.  

18 October 2022

Writing to Voters

Just finished sixty letters to voters in swing districts. We all have to do our part to try to win this damn election. 

Some Electric Car Facts.

BYD (Chinese, but it stands for "Build Your Dreams," no kidding) is now building 200,000 EVs and PHEV (plug in hybrids) per month, which is more EVs than all US manufacturers other than Tesla combined, and all Japanese manufacturers combined

US auto sales are down 21% year over year. But Tesla is up 169%. That tells you all you need to know about the collapse of the internal combustion engine and the exploding demand for electric cars. 

Vinfast (Vietnamese auto startup), BYD, and Hyundai group (includes Kia) are planning projects to build factories in the US to take advantage of the tax credit for EVs built in North America. I'm not aware of any new projects to build internal combustion engine (ICE) cars in North America. And Hyundai group, the Chinese, and even GM and Ford, have all but stopped R&D on ICE power trains, and will probably never build a new passenger car engine design. The technology is rapidly becoming obsolete, full stop. There will be niche markets, of course, but for standard transportation, ICE is disappearing. Electric motor technology is already mature and very efficient... the technology race is for cheap batteries that don't use especially rare or toxic materials, and there are several very promising new developments in this area. 

16 October 2022

Drastic Change in Auto industry worldwide coming.

I've passed on some of the buzz about this before, but let me just say this succinctly. The legacy automakers, all of them, and especially the Japanese, should be very, very worried about the 18 (count 'em, 18) Chinese automakers. None of the Chinese (largest being BYD) seem to be planning to move into the North American market right now. And Tesla has world class high end electric cars, which will continue to gobble market share. But the Chinese are making high quality, attractive, and far more advanced electric cars that are selling, without rebates but before tariffs, for approximately $20,000, and they're starting to flood the market in Europe already. This will make the 1970s Japanese "invasion" look mild, although the Biden administration's plans to offer rebates on North American built cars will in fact help the US to remain competitive. Still, Ford, GM, Stellantis, Volkswagen, Porsche, Renault, BMW, Daimler, and, even moreso, Nissan, Honda, Subaru, Toyota, Mazda, Suzuki, and Mistubishi, are poised to be virtually wiped out because they have almost nothing that can compete. Hyundai group will struggle but may be able to find a niche because their cars are competitive in quality. But the Chinese are way out in front, especially in the critical area of software development, where the rest of the world has failed to realize that this isn't just something you outsource and don't stress too much but an absolutely critical component of the driving experience. (Most companies outsource this to, whaddaya know, the Chinese (including Taiwan), who tend to push their second tier product. Only the high end Audi, Porsche and BMW cars get the best systems, but here's the rub, they're not better than the ones in cheaper Chinese cars. Bottom line: the Chinese are just plain doing it better and cheaper. 
China has its challenges, to be sure, and none of this is cast in stone, but Western governments and corporations had better take the threat seriously, because as of right now they are falling behind rapidly. And the Japanese are probably in the worst situation of all. Their cars barely change from year to year except cosmetically (and the less said about Japanese styling the better)... and their response to the obvious rapid approach of a drastic changeover to electric cars has been abysmal. Full stop. Worse than abysmal. Even Nissan, which developed the Leaf early on, has fallen so far behind they're hardly selling any EVs, even in North America, where they have done better than anywhere else (Nissan has posted a loss two years running, because their ICE cars aren't selling either). 

14 October 2022

Democracy in Peril

We all know that Trump, however canny and good at schmoozing people, cannot write a single paragraph of coherent prose, much less 14 pages. So you have to wonder what brand of idiot does he have working for him who cannot understand that the size of the Insurrection crowd is totally irrelevant to the case made by the Jan. 6 committee that this f*ker is guilty of treason (one definition: making war on the United States), or at least seditious conspiracy. Michael Cohen went out on a limb and bet Chuck Todd $1 that Trump will never in hell appear before the committee. Not exactly a longshot. UNLESS. Unless the Democrats win enough races to keep the House in November. Not perhaps likely but certainly possible. If this committee is reconstituted and reissues its subpena, and Garland does indeed indict Trump in the Mar a Lago case, he may have no choice, since he will be in custody. 

And, folks, if we lose even just the House, our democracy is in its greatest peril since the Civil War. This is not hyperbole. Please take this threat seriously. Vote. Make all your friends and relatives vote. So very, very much is at stake. 

Historian's eye view of January 6

This is literally the first draft of history. If you're a follower of current affairs, you know all this, but historian Heather Cox Richardson has put it down in succinct, chronological paragraphs just like a future historical account. History is not totally objective, of course, but this is a balanced and factual account of what actually happened. Only those who are oblivious to reality in their virtual worship of Cult Leader and Former Failed President Trump would find much to quibble with here. 
"If you want the present to be different from the past, study the past."
― Spinoza

13 October 2022

Music videos on YT a real treasure trove

One of my real pleasures these days is regularly dipping into the wonderful video recorded performances of music, especially sacred music like the Bach Stiftung and Netherlands Bach Ensemble on YouTube. I pay for premium to avoid ads, and it's worth it. Like this, Cantata No. 77, Du sollt Gott, deinen Herrn, lieben, performed by the Bach Stiftung of Switzerland, conducted by the estimable Rudolf Lutz. (This isn't even a particularly well known or exceptional cantata; this is workaday Bach, which means reliably far superior to any of his contemporaries). These are first rate performances, far better, in general, than anything available on records 50 years ago when I first discovered the wonders of Bach's cantatas, and it's all free. And the visual component is a huge plus as well. Of course it helps to have decent sound on whatever you use watch YouTube. I cast to a TV with auxiliary high fidelity speakers. (And I send them a little money now and them and get nice programs and letters (in German) from them). 

What it will take to land Trump in Jail

There's a certain irony that the case which seems to be the most likely to put Failed Former President Trump in an orange jumpsuit is the one where he probably had little to gain other than sheer ego aggrandizement. I appreciate that there are serious and real national security concerns with the classified documents, but it's not actually that easy to monetize something like that, and now that there is laserlike attention on them, he can't really profit. Yet he's doubled down, virtually admitting guilt and compounding the law violations with dead to rights, openly recorded obstruction of justice. The insurrection and seditious conspiracy is probably worse but more complex and harder to prove. It is Mar a Lago that seems most likely to land him in actual jail.  

Maybe if, mirabile dictu, the House remains under Democratic control, it will be easier to force him to testify about his role in the only time a president has ever instigated an insurrection against the United States when all they have to do is request the Bureau of Prisons to deliver him to the Capitol for the hearing. 

One can hope. 

Another critical reason to return the Dems to House Control

So now we have yet another extremely important reason to return the Democratic majority to power in the House. The Jan 6 committee has voted to subpoena the Failed Former President, and unless the Democrats retain control, it's a certainty that that forcing that crucial appearance before Congress will not be happening.  

12 October 2022

In Memoriam

One of the very last of her generation. RIP Angela Lansbury, died yesterday at 96.  

Polarization at a tipping point?

Interesting discussion in the NYT. Here

I agree with those that say that an actual war, like the 1861-1865 Civil War, is essentially impossible, because the Federal government has massive weaponry. But there is a real question whether the military would follow the orders of a Trump (not necessarily Trump himself, who may not be capable of this at this point).... who had seized power through fraud. By which I mean massive disenfranchisement of voters, beyond even the amount of that that's built into our current non-democratic presidential and senatorial electoral systems. If they were to do it with the complicity of the Supreme Court (which seems all too possible), then they would probably have the military behind them. And what we would have would be a 1921 Mussolini military coup, in effect, not a civil war. What that would entail for the future I almost literally shudder to think. But with an actual majority opposed to that outcome, it would be a very unstable situation. The sad truth is that faced with overwhelming authoritarian power, most people just accept the situation and begin rationalizing how it's actually fine. Right up until and even after Stalingrad most Germans were complicit, even supportive, in the Nazi regime. Is this bad, bad, bad? No. It's worse. 

10 October 2022

Japanese Carmakers and the great electric catastrophe

If you doubt my previous claim that the Japanese automakers, all of them, have missed the electric car juggernaut, see this for additional confirmation. 

Automakers that have missed the Electric Wave are in BIG trouble

See this to understand some of the major reasons why Tesla will soon sell more cars than any other company in North America and why companies have ignored the rapid shift to electric cars  -- past the tipping point already -- are going to lose market share and some even go bankrupt. Like all the Japanese makers (including Nissan's Renault*), Stellantis (Fiat/Peugeot Chrysler), and most automakers other than Korea's Hyundai Group, and the Chinese, as a group. Ford and GM are barely competitive. Mercedes, BMW, and VW are also barely in the game. This is the biggest disruption of the auto industry since the 1920s. 


*Nissan produced one of the first successful electric cars, the Leaf, but they have dropped the ball and are not really competitive; also their conversion from ICE has been, pardon the pun, glacial. Toyota is worse, and none of the other Japanese makers have produced viable electric cars in any numbers. 

MAGA playbook

Kind of sums up what it is to be a MAGA politician. One of them, a city councilmember in Las Vegas, stood in front of the tiny MAGA crowd at Orange Menace's rally this weekend and said, almost a literal quote: » Under Donald Trump unemployment was a little over 3%. Now, under Biden, it's over ten percent! Yeah! Ten percent! «

Except in Nevada in particular, its 2.1%.  Two point one percent. The lowest unemployment level in decades

This is what you call a goddamn lie, and that's their playbook in a nutshell. 

09 October 2022

Only a month to go... gearing up to help Democrats keep the House and Senate

Honestly don't know how much good it does, but I completed 50 postcards to Wisconsin voters to aid in the effort (primarily) to send Ron Johnson packing and elect Mandela Barnes to the Senate. Now I've signed up to complete 40 letters to voters in New York (Ryan) and Illinois (Sorenson) toss up districts to try to help Democrats keep the House. Every effort helps, or so I want to believe. This election really is crucial, so if you're thinking about what you can do, try Vote Save America or Vote Forward. 

05 October 2022

We must deal with this out of control Supreme Court

 Clarence Thomas has ordered the DOJ to respond to Trump's deranged petition to the SC to vacate the 11th Circuit order in the Mar a Lago case. There are no legitimate issues here. This is yet another example of the completely out of control overreach of the Supreme Court, and especially Clarence Thomas. The only solution, if we are to save our country, is for the Democratic party to win the House and Senate and for our leadership to realize that the only solution is to add more justices to the court to restore the balance of sanity. I can no longer countenance or even credit arguments to the contrary. This is it. The time for "deliberation" and "moderation" is long past. 

04 October 2022

Some basic economic realities people tend to ignore

When inflation was running at about 2-3% and CD rates were about 1.25%, it took no genius to realize that "parking money" was on a fee basis, and savings was disincentivized. I for one don't see this as a primarily political issue. It's just the way the late-stage capitalist economy works, and it's transnational. So now inflation in the US is something like 8% (or higher), and savings rates are maybe 3%. It takes no genius to see that savings are more disincentivized, and, in fact, debt and deficit spending, and not just by governments, is being canceled by stealing savings, which in effect transfers money from the future to the present. Well, well. Hardly surprising. People always think if you spend money you don't have it's just magic, but money isn't real. Goods and services are real, human behavior is real. All we can really do is influence behavior now to try to get people to do things to relieve economic stress. The natural gas crisis in Europe is an example. Governments can't create gas by fixing prices. If there's less gas, there's less gas. But they can use industrial policy to accelerate and incentivize new sourcing, rather than just let the marketplace allocate the shortage and let higher prices incentivize new sourcing. My point is that we need to remember that wealth has to come from somewhere, it's not just rates and prices that can be manipulated by policy. And that somewhere is human effort and natural resources, which can only be influenced so much by policy.