Cuba…

I’d respond in the comment thread to further this conversation, but the firewall I am behind does not allow me to.

The hardliners here, mostly your usual gang of conservative critics, are a bit apoplectic, again, saying that the President was weak willed and got nothing, especially with Cuba fragile as is. Lifeline to the Castro’s, blah blah.

I dunno… it all seems so hyperbolic and unpersuasive. Other thing is, you don’t need to trounce your foe all the time and make them bend to your will. Especially when there’s a good chance they just won’t, like Fidel and Raul. You make a deal so you can make the next deal, and change the dimensions of the Overton window re a future outcome. A future outcome that will favor liberalization of Cuba.

I don’t see that the US’ prestige has been diminished, and I question the wisdom of that being a superseding priority over something like normalizing relations, which are going to do a great deal to subvert the Castro’s.

Jots with dots 12/18

Cuba – I’m reading the tough love for Cuba conservatives who are outraged. Ya know, I guess there’s an argument to be observed that you have to make the Castros’ submit to demonstrate that their barbarity can not be rewarded. But…

· Our moral high ground is not so apparent, like on the prison stuff.

· It would be one thing if we were caving in after a 3-4 years. Such that the world’s bad actors get the message that we’ll cave eventually, none of them are going to wait us out 54 years like this. It’s an aberration.

· Figure, the greater wisdom here favors moving things along, not recalcitrance. If you still want to depose the Castro’s, the change that comes with normalization will probably be upending.

Note this tangential note… Fidel Castro was a good pitcher, he had tryouts with the NY Giants and / or Senators in the early 50’s. Had a big 12-6 curveball of the type that is out of fashion today except for current Cy Younger Corey Kluber. There’s an alternate history that is evoked that says ‘hey, what if either of those teams had signed Castro? There’d be no Cuban revolution!’. Yeah, I suppose. Thing is, Fidel didn’t have a pro fastball, was probably short of 85 mph. Righthanders who throw 85 don’t get signed, ever, so it’s not really an alternate history.

Note this other tangential note…Reusse had Julio Becquer on his show yesterday evening. He’s a Cuban, and a first year Twin from 1961, and a Twin Cities resident. I didn’t recall him, he was a utility infielder and I am not old enough to remember the fringe guys that predate me. He spoke so fluidly I was moved to wonder how young he could be. He is 82, which is older than I would have guessed. http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/b/becquju01.shtml

Reubenesque – http://www.minnpost.com/minnesota-blog-cabin/2014/12/tale-three-reubens. I love reubens, have since I was a boy. There was a point some years ago where I was prepared to be worldly and appreciate the sublime authenticity of a place like Cecil’s. But I went there, and didn’t find their Reuben better than typical Midwestern mom and pop’s. Good, and I’d have another. But not much different.

Norks – To me, the irony is going to be the quality of this movie vs. the commotion it will have caused. I mean c’mon…. it’s a Seth Rogen nothing burger.

Jots with dots 12/17

I have an oil, North Dakota, Russia nexus going on in my head. Earworm – Right Here, Right Now by Jesus Jones is one of my favorite songs. It’s nominally about the fall of the Berlin Wall, came out in 1990, shortly after the fall. I don’t think I got that at the time, and I don’t think this became one of my favorite songs immediately thereafter. I have a great grasp of history, was always good at it, and felt empathic about the depression and the wars. But for some reason the weight of the Berlin Wall’s fall totally escaped me in 1989. Just did not get it. What can I say, I was not yet 21, and dumb.

Was revisiting this last night on Wikipedia. Now, with my grasp of history I had mastered enough schoolwork to understand the iron curtain better than a layman, and specifically that it was never all peaches and cream for the Soviets. Their subordinate states could be rebellious at times, noteworthy among them Hungary and Czechoslovakia. But to the extent they could be rebellious, the Soviets could tank-quash them like they did in 1956 and 1968.

But in the 80’s, the Soviet economy was under acute pressures as the oil spigots were open in Saudi Arabia, undermine the price of oil, on which so many finances in Moscow were dependent.

Yeah, there was Perestroika, which was say a cause and effect itself. But thing is, if Soviet satellite states wanted to get rebellious, Moscow couldn’t afford to send the Red Army in and stamp it out.

Hungary opened their border with Austria in the spring of 1989, and there was nothing Moscow could do about it. And it was like an open wound, of particular use for East Germans who wished to defect to the west. By November, the East Germans had to open the gates, and the Soviets couldn’t do anything about that either.

So, I have an incomplete thought here, but it is…. People got to get paid. And you can be the biggest dictator or king or police state or whatever, and your commerce can be oil or whatever…. But if you can’t pay your minions for their work and time, no one will do your bidding and soon you will not be in charge.

The environment is ripe for that again over there. So there, brilliant, deep thought of the day, of Machiavellian quality insight amirite.

Ninnies http://www.newrepublic.com/article/120586/low-oil-prices-could-hurt-american-economy-long-run We got a bunch of ninnies worrying about cheap oil, and the Dow. Blah, blah, blah.

Here’s a thing, sayeth me who is not schooled in economics. The price of inputs going down = productivity going up. And figure, if ‘everyone’ except Continental Resources and Exxon experiences a productivity gain, ‘everyones’ economic benefits are going to exponentially dwarf the damage to a few oil companies. Net benefit. Besides, universal truth… there’s equilibrium, and we’ll reach it or the oil companies will reach it. They’ll figure out how to do business under the circumstances.

Government is just things we do together / claims of IRS misconduct is BS

http://theweek.com/speedreads/index/273746/speedreads-irs-returns-womans-lifes-savings–but-says-they-can-take-it-back-whenever-they-want

http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/the-bipartisan-plan-to-end-irs-stealing/article/2557442#!

Relations: I think this is fine, its time

http://edition.cnn.com/2014/12/17/politics/cuba-alan-gross-deal/index.html

Jots with dots 12/16

Not a Norskie, and not a handsome devil: George Tsunis.

http://blogs.citypages.com/blotter/2014/12/man_who_knew_absolutely_nothing_about_norway_drops_bid_to_become_norwegian_ambassador.php

http://www.latimes.com/world/europe/la-fg-norway-ambassador-nominee-withdraws-20141213-story.html

Ya know, I get it. Democrats aren’t hypocrites, because there’s no moral equivalence about them being money whores when their end game is dystopian egalitarianism. But ya figure they’d be less ham fisted than this. I mean, it takes a lot to get Amy Klobuchar to actually do something.

Umbrage: Along with the other things I think about this stuff in general, I also think these police in St. Louis got a lot of Chutzpah, a lot of crust, getting all sensitive about what people say about them. Tone deaf is understatement.

http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/andrew-hawkins-response-tamir-rice-protest

This cultural law and order jingoism is so strong I guess that they think they should never be examined.

This is a good idea for young twenty somethings, but not dudes who want to change careers

http://www.bizjournals.com/twincities/blog/in_private/2014/12/the-nerdery-to-open-school-for-training-software.html

I’m a test engineer. I don’t code, but I think I’d like to, I think it would suit me better. Two things: I don’t want pay $12000 to learn a lot of stuff that will be intuitive to me, and I need to skip the part where you take an entry level programming job and work your way up from $40k to $95k. I could work off that experience / seniority gap quicker than others, I imagine. But a year or two would be too long. So it’s a conundrum.

Note to self: Java, .NET, Ruby on Rails are hot.

Like I tell my boys, Russia is a hell hole: feeding my confirmation bias http://www.worldaffairsjournal.org/article/land-magical-thinking-inside-putin%E2%80%99s-russia

If there’s economic chaos, as there seems to be coming for them, I don’t think Putin lasts. That’s my prediction.

Computing: In the hospital, I was kind of a medicated mess, albeit with the concentrated and plausible fear that I was going to lose most of right leg and spend 6 months in Region’s burn unit while my skin grafts took. I was worried about that. Other thing I was worried about was coming out of it with a $25k hospital bill that I couldn’t work off, cuz I was in the burn unit. Till I figured out that if I was unable to pay it, I just wouldn’t worry about it. Then I found some mental peace.

I did have my laptop in the hospital, and at the time was trying to find credible anecdotes about what a hospitalization for a staph infection cost. Thing is, you have a question you want the internet to answer and you invariably get directed to these eHow or answer.com boards, which just don’t speak with authority.

So, here’s the answer to “what does staph infection treatment in a hospital cost”.

The statement of benefits for me itemizes charges of $38k and change for 7 days. I have BC MN 80/20 insurance more or less, and my out of pocket is a little over $3k. Which I can live with.

Parking ramp scam? I was hustling downtown, trying to get in the ramp before 9am, when commuter pricing turns off. My phone said 8:52 when the ramp ticket machine said 8:59. Hmmm.

Jots with dots 12/15

Warren . Big banks

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/miles-mogulescu/the-speech-that-could-make-elizabeth-warren-president_b_6319142.html?ncid=edlinkushpmg00000071

A few things:

· I have my doubts that America is ready to elect a sexless nag as president. This applies foremost to Hillary.

· I am at various times struck by childlike bewilderment at how big and diverse the world is. This feeling is very acute when I ponder or am informed the weird businesses that banks finance and are into. Corn swaps, office equipment leasing, restaurant fixture leasing…. Whatever.

· Fair to say congress and the executive branch have been captured by corporatism. So to believe the banks will get broken up now is to believe in unicorns.

· I’m not convinced a ‘breakup’ is necessary. Big banks make possible things like…office equipment leasing. Purveying that non sexy shit is very middle class vocations, there’s no reason to disturb that.

Podcasting. http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/ten_years_in_your_ears/2014/12/podcast_10th_anniversary_slate_s_executive_producer_andy_bowers_on_the_state.html It’s my sense also that this was the year of podcasts. Still seems awful thin out there in terms of content. Got a second car this summer, finally, for wife, sexy little used convertible, and it came with a free Sirius subscription. This would have been a big deal 5-10 years ago, but we never activated it and it just lapsed … because she brings the thing into the car and listens to podcasts.

Jack and Ben, no Ben. KTLK, ya know, they had a duo thing going there with those two millennials. Good show every morning bordering on quality public affairs programming, not over the top right wing bloviating. Light, very listenable as drive time banter. They axed Ben. Bogus!

On liberals and lying all the time because they wouldn’t win elections if they didn’t lie.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/michael-gerson-gruber-reveals-the-arrogance-of-liberals/2014/12/11/1464877e-8165-11e4-8882-03cf08410beb_story.html

But let’s be mindful there’s not a moral equivalence. Lying for dystopian egalitarianism is not like lying for the Koch brothers.

Global market / we can’t drill our way to cheaper gas prices. $2.45 for me this morning.When I filled up I was struck that the liberals are right, we can’t drill our way to cheaper gas. Just as we almost have enough wells to bring about some domestic abundance the Saudi’s open the spigots and flood the market to protect their market share. Weird.

On ‘Chemical darts’ as non-lethal force. I was thinking about this over the weekend. I made a bunch of McGuffins to fulfill orders, and stood in front of my rendering fixture a lot. Which is where I think. As I say, the police, they are not out there trying to capture a bear for release back into the wild. Such that ‘tranquilization’ is possible, it isn’t available to law enforcement. You know who tranquilizes? Anesthesiologists. Which is to say this is a function that is limited to medicine, and there are some barriers, legal, ethical, and functional, that are going to prevent this from being a non-lethal option by law enforcement. So there’s the answer why that doesn’t exist. Now, knowing that I guess I’m surprised tasing is allowed, and for the same reasons, but I think that horse gets out of the barn only once.

Jots with dots 12/12

Bipartisanship: http://hotair.com/archives/2014/12/11/collapse-pelosi-says-boehner-doesnt-have-the-votes-for-cromnibus-after-gop-leaders-delay-final-vote/ I like this portmanteau ‘Cromnibus”.

Thin blue line: http://blog.startribune.com/sports/randball/tfd-ex-twins-pitcher-juan-berenguer-files-lawsuit-alleging-violation-of-privacy 5 years ago I had the last at bat against Berenguer’s son in a city league championship game. I must have been 40 if I do the math right. Kid was 20, 21, and a very good DIII college player. Lefty, not a big guy, nice amateur fastball but a couple ticks tick less than a pro arm, and he was an outfielder by trade anyway. I hit a reasonably hard smash to 3rd, grounded out.

Ervin Not Johan: And his given name is Johan, believe it or not. http://hardballtalk.nbcsports.com/2014/12/11/twins-sign-ervin-santana-for-54-million/ He’s good and if the market is thus he is worth the money. But I don’t see him in my mind’s eye at all.

Good luck with that http://thehill.com/regulation/226486-dems-push-to-revive-failed-gun-control-legislation

http://dish.andrewsullivan.com/2014/12/12/gun-control-continues-to-lose-ground/

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2014/12/10/gun-control-advocates-are-seriously-losing-public-opinion/

Hush everyone, the village idiot wants to weigh inYa know, he’s got a great vocabulary and can write extravagant, multiple clause sentences. But the real spectacle of Lambo is the certitude married to ignorance, the obnoxious cocksureness that his junky, casual knowledge trumps the practical knowledge of whomever he argues with on whatever topic. Especially if they’re conservative.

We saw this regularly at SRC, and seldom see it now at WWP. Loveland’s earnest, thoughtful style sets the tone there, and Lambo has been careful to not stink the joint up.

Yesterday’s “Why are cops still using real bullets?” is classic Lambo. He’s misinformed / wrong on most of the salient points but still self-righteous:

Rubber bullets – You can’t fire rubber projectiles out of rifles and pistols in common use, rubber would not stay stable as it traveled down a rifled barrel under high pressure. After, they would tumble in flight, you’d not be firing at anything with any accuracy. As such, there is no such thing as rubber ammunition for say a Glock service pistol. Rubber bullets packed into a sabot can be fired out of shotguns, yet still their ability to incapacitate is not reliable. That’s the reason they’re not used for beat duty, where the expectation is you may interdict common / dangerous criminals. Rubber bullets are suitable for riot control because they create a little fear, and they don’t reliably incapacitate and leave a bunch of dead bodies on the pavement. They create the expectation of pain and the motivation to disperse. So, that’s the reason they’re still using real bullets instead of rubber bullets. Rubber bullets generally do not provide the functionality to incapacitate that the cops feel is required for normal duty.

Law enforcement chemical darts – They’re not trying to tranquilize Gentle Ben. I’m not aware of such a thing for police use. As an observation, I think this is the ‘reach’ of a person who thinks they have a kernel of insight on something that must exist with modernity. It doesn’t.

Cop salaries – He’s not informed. They’re not underpaid, period. We’ve gone through this. Minnpost the other day, http://www.minnpost.com/politics-policy/2014/12/94-percent-minneapolis-police-officers-live-outside-city-minneapolis-does-it Minneapolis and St. Paul police both start at about $50k, which ain’t a pittance in the first place, and it goes up quick with years. I’ve had occasion to make this point several occasions throughout the summer, search any cop in the news in the SPPPD salary database. You generally find they make $85 – 90k a year.

NRA ad homonym – basically a complete non-sequitur for the purpose of stroking a pet bigotry.

Jots with dots 12/11

Zingy newsdive: non-profs. http://www.startribune.com/local/east/285440801.html So what is TIES? The reporter pulled their blurb, ‘technology… joint powers board established in 1967’, from their website, but this is not descriptive. It’s IT infrastructure for member districts to use so that they don’t have to build their own. It’s an IT co-op. It may be quasi-governmental, but obviously the ‘quasi’ part is what ended up making it someone’s little fiefdom.

I do see that ‘FeePay’ is theirs. I was paying into ‘Paypams’ last year for school lunches but pay into ‘FeePay’ now. Brings up this whole question of why you need a quasi governmental agency to handle something the private sector was providing. It’s cheaper to someone, is the ostensible answer, but of course then TIES hits up the local districts for another $600k annually to pay the bond interest for their multi-million dollar overruns on infrastructure upgrades. I’m not actually impressed with the gripe that the gal got a free hall rental. Small beans. But if there are gross irregularities, that’s how they were papered over, with the absent change orders and the new bond money to fund the remodeling project.

There is that. In my mindseye, I see TIES as this fairly non-descript building on Larpenteur and Snelling, and it has a buncha mainframes in it. Why they are renting a hall for events, I have no idea. It’s outside your mission, people.

The Strib beat reporter gets a little suggestive when she notes the Exec Director lives on Summit Hill. Meh. EDs salary is not in the SPPPD public salaries database, but she’s more or less the CEO of a small but robust IT vendor. Figure this salary can rationally be, I dunno, 200K. Maybe a little more, the true private sector would pay somewhat more but I doubt her board gets crazy with this. Anyway living on Summit Hill is not out of range for someone with that kind of job.

Football : http://www.myfoxtwincities.com/story/27588749/fox-9-exclusive-video-of-the-isaac-kolstad-philip-nelson-fight Re Nelson / Kolstad and that other derelict, this video strikes me somewhat as exculpatory for Nelson and incriminating for the derelict interloper. Youth and beer though.