2017 is drawing to a close, and as I look back, I wrote very few articles this year. It isn’t that I didn’t have anything to say – I did. But things moved so very fast. A number of articles I started became OBE within days and I lost interest. It’s been a busy year; it seems like I had much less time than usual just to sit back and write. It takes time to write articles and the time has been taken up with other things.
Will I write again next year? We shall see. There is a writer whose articles I used to really enjoy reading. She worked her real job as a professor at Arizona State University, where I graduated with a BSE in 1980. One day, I read an article by her that said that it would be her last; she was hanging up her hat and going off to do other things with her time. I was so saddened by this that I wrote her an email, imploring her not to give up; something I had never done before. I felt like the world needed to hear her point of view and that we would be less without it.
I am not comparing my paltry writings with hers. She had a large audience and was a professional writer while I have and am neither. No one will miss it if I put down my keyboard. But she did a very kind thing; she replied to my letter, which I totally did not expect. She said that during the course of her writing she received a lot of mail which was, to put it mildly, unkind, and she was tired of banging her head against the door to seemingly no avail. She said that she no longer felt the drive she once had, that it was time to hang up the pen and get on with more important things in her life.
I feel that way now. Perhaps I will write again later. Perhaps I will still write the occasional article – it is cathartic. But I no longer feel the need to write an article every couple of weeks, much less every month. Months can go by and it is ok. This is my 310th article since I started in May of 2001. It has been a lot of fun.
As this is the last article of the year, and possibly my last article for a while, I thought I would just do some short takes on things that are really too short for a full article, but that I find interesting at this time none the less. This is going to ramble…
First off, there is this article in ZeroHedge titled “Housing Bubble 2.0: U.S. Homeowners Made $2 Trillion on Their Houses in 2017.” I beg to differ with the author of the article. Whereas it is quite possible that home valuations went up 2 trillion dollars in 2017, unless you sold your home, none of that made its way into your pocket.
Indeed, the value of my home increased quite nicely this year. However all it did for me is allow the local property taxing authorities to dig their hands just a little bit deeper in my pockets. Perhaps the title should have read “Local Property Taxing Authorities see their tax base increase by $2 Trillion in 2017.” They get more money from me, and the politicians can still claim with a straight face when they go up for re-election next time that they didn’t raise my property taxes as the tax rate stayed the same.
I don’t even gain by the fact that I could take out a bigger home equity loan, since the interest on such loans is being capped as part of the “tax simplification” that the Republicans just pushed through. I find it interesting that they “simplified” my taxes by taking away more deductions in exchange for lower rates that will be expiring in 7 years anyway. And despite the original claim that they were going to reduce the number of tax brackets, we still have 7, all of which are only marginally lower than they were before.
I think it worthy of note that the last time this happened, under President Reagan, I gave away a plethora of deductions to gain a simplified, two tax bracket system. That system has now grown since then to seven brackets, where, despite this round of “simplification,” it remains. This is why I cannot support the so-called Flat Tax; there is no guarantee it will remain flat.
Of course, having taken 30 years between major tax overhauls, I doubt seriously I will have to worry about the Flat Tax (or the “Fair Tax”) being enacted in my lifetime.
Another article I saw linked on Drudge today, and read with much interest was titled “Exploding stars are influencing our weather, scientists find.” Well glory be! And what a bogus article! Not in its content, that was presented spot on. It was the first line in the article that blew my fuses.
The article states that, "…cosmic rays flung out from exploding stars have an impact on our weather, a study has shown for the first time." (italics added) Wrong! This particular theory, first proposed by Henrik Svensmark at the Danish National Space Institute in Copenhagen, has been around for some time. The theory states, as is mentioned in the article, that cosmic radiation aids in cloud formation by seeding clouds. It doesn’t say it is the only thing that causes clouds to form, but that it is one of the mechanisms, and a very important mechanism involved with climate change here on Earth.
When the sun is more active, the solar wind increases. Increased pressure from the solar wind causes fewer cosmic rays to impact the earth, resulting in a decrease in cloud seeding. When this occurs, we get climate here on Earth that is warmer, like the Medieval Warm Period around AD 1000, which was actually warmer than it is now.
When the sun is less active, the solar wind decreases. Decreased pressure from the solar wind allows more cosmic rays to impact the earth, resulting in an increase in cloud seeding. When this occurs, we get climate here on Earth that is cooler, like the Little Ice Age, which occurred between the 13th and 19th centuries.
Currently, the sun is in a less active period, and has been for a number of years. This is characterized by a solar disk which is largely bereft of sunspots. If you want to see what the sun is doing on a daily basis, this site is one you can visit. There are others. And here is another article that has more info than the first I read.
Needless to say, the “climate scientists” of the Church of Global Warming have been heartily poo-pooing this theory for some time now. They are absolutely convinced that the Earth is warming and that it is all caused by that devil Mankind, and unless we spent gazillions of dollars to stop it, the entire planet is doomed. They point to their climate models as proof.
Of course, their climate models do not take solar activity or cosmic radiation, or cloud formation into consideration as all these are constants that never change. Garbage in, garbage out.
So read the article. It isn’t bad, except for that first line. Oh yes, and the study they are referencing, of which Dr. Svensmark happens to be the lead author? One like it, was published back in 2013. Back then, as you can see, it wasn’t taken seriously. Sometimes it takes the mainstream media awhile to catch on. And another from 2016.
Keep in mind also that Russian scientists have been agreeing with this theory for a number of years now. Then take a look at Russia and where it is located on the planet. Did you know that for much of Russian history the folks in charge have been in search of a warm water port? Looking at Russia’s location, historical temperatures, and taking this theory into consideration kind of gives Putin’s national foci a bit more perspective. Not saying I like his methods, but they may become a bit more understandable.
Meanwhile, it snowed a good two inches at my house here in San Antonio on 7 December. We haven’t had measurable snow here since Feb 1986. It is supposed to be in the mid 20’s the next three nights, with the days still below freezing. And did you notice, Niagara Falls is frozen over – again. Erie, Pennsylvania got 50 inches of snow in 30 hours. I know – that’s “weather” not “climate.” But have you noticed how cold it is around the country this winter (and the last several winters for that matter)? Seems sort of weird if we are supposed to be the warmest we have been in forever.
Of course, if you are an AGW true believer, not to worry. Because, you see, global warming causes cold weather as is explained in this article. Indeed, global warming might actually trigger a short ice age in the near future, according to no less august a body as NASA. So forget about the cold – we are really warming! The convoluted arguments that propose such things are beginning to remind me of the scientists and philosophers who were convinced of the Ptolemaic model of the universe, and devised an ever more complex model of epicycles to try and explain the retrograde motion of planets like Mars.
That model lasted for over 1,300 years before being proven bogus. Hopefully, we will get the AGW debate settled well before that.
Finally, there is this article, in which no less an august actress than Jodie Foster, deplores the viewing habits of those who watch the movies that Hollywood makes, specifically “superhero” movies. “Going to the movies has become like a theme park,” according to Ms. Foster, “Studios making bad content in order to appeal to the masses and shareholders is like fracking – you get the best return right now but you wreck the Earth.”
“It’s ruining the viewing habits of the American population and then ultimately the world,” she added.
Not sure I know where to start with this one. Ms. Foster obviously has no clue as to the entire reason for Hollywood existence and the ultimate reason why she has a job in the industry she works for. Here’s a clue. Hollywood and its entire collection of actors, actresses, directors, movie moguls, and the entire workforce from content creators to the assistant to the assistant’s assistant for the director’s foot massage team exists to create a movie that we want to spend our hard-earned cash to watch. Period.
I am sure that Ms. Foster lives in a much nicer house than I, drives a much nicer car, and makes a heck of a lot more money than I will ever dream of having. I am also sure she accepts that as no less than her due for being such a talented actress and now a director. It’s her turn to craft movies for us to watch that “make a difference,” and our job to watch them. And of course it is the job of the shareholders, whom she disparages for wanting to make a profit on their money, to pick up the tab.
But the bottom line is that her salary is ultimately paid by folks like me willing to pony up the $10 or more to buy a ticket to one of her flicks. The shareholders only make money if we do so. If we don’t, not only do they lose their money but the studio itself could go out of business and all the “little people” who make the movie possible in the first place, will be out of work as well.
Perhaps she is unaware of where money comes from. Perhaps she thinks that if the shareholders lose all their money that the government should pony up the tab and ensure her salary and the salaries of those who work for her. Perhaps she thinks that it is our job to watch whatever she churns out because after all, she is Jodie Foster.
What she fails to understand is that her job is to entertain us, not to “make a difference.” If she feels self-actualized that is all well and good, but it is a secondary effect, not the primary. But perhaps that is part of the problem with Hollywood and the reason they take themselves way more seriously than they reasonably should. For too many years now, it has been about “making a difference,” and steering us along the path they feel we should be following; feeding us the messages they believe we should be getting, and telling us what they think we should be thinking.
I don’t know about you but I am getting pretty sick and tired of all the political messages and digs stuck into the movies I go see. Anti-Bush, anti-Trump, anti-Republican and anti-Conservative one-liners and throwaway lines are liberally scattered through everything from animated kid’s cartoons to dramas to action adventure shows. The bad guy is usually a white male conservative. If there is a person who can be identified as a religious Christian, he is usually portrayed as some sort of buffoon.
I don’t go to movies to watch political commentary – I get enough of that already everywhere else in the real world. I go to be entertained. Movies are supposed to be for entertainment, not indoctrination.
One reason why the superhero movies are such a big hit is that they are escapist entertainment. How dare we uncultured swine out here in the great unwashed be so uncouth as to slap down our cash to watch something entertaining rather than the next big budget “I want to make a difference” movie from Jodie Foster or others of her ilk! And how dare the shareholders front the money to allow that instead of something more “substantive” in the first place!
It’s ruining our viewing habits. Oh the humanity!