Monthly Archives: September 2014

Jots with dots 9/30

MN2020 – man comes to correct conclusion he’s just too deficient of appeal to ever win elective office in this state, shuts down his vanity think tank. You can sort of feel bad for the people who thought they were doing good work there for the sake of good work.

Gardenhire – where else but here does the outgoing manager go to the news conference announcing his firing? Not his fault, not entirely anyway, but it was time for him to go. I don’t think he was impervious to the mysteries of baseball as revealed by new sabermetrics, but he was too old school and missing something the younger managers have picked up on. One thing is, they have made wrong decisions on not the guys who are stars, but the chaff the fills the rest of the roster. Gardy broke camp in the spring with Jason Bartlett, which was an exercise in faith rather than qualitative or quantitative evaluation. Bartlett had missed a couple seasons, and was past being athletic enough to be a professional baseball player. This was apparent to anyone watching him. Dumb, futile.

Full page shower ad in the Strib re the MSHSL and trans kids: Now that’s a wedge issue baby. And a lot of money to spend on trolling people. Either that or full page ads are very cheap these days.

Ted Olson for AG: Would be an inspired, best foot forward choice. So it won’t happen.

Ebay spinning off Paypal: I tell ya, I have my fingertips on the pulse of a certain zeitgeist re the payment processing biz. It’s a big fing deal. I’ve used Paypal a long time and liked it. I’ve used Ebay a long time, and it’s been fruitful on the whole with some horrendous experiences at various points.


Trendspotting: Square and the democratization of card swipes

We went to Ren fest this weekend. It remains cool. I’ll add, my first Ren fest was in say 1976-77, cuz my parents were semi-hip. What I remember from those days was the ubiquitous presence of wine skins.

Saturday, without any exceptions that I could spot, the mom and pop crafters and jewelers took payments with the little smart phone fob from Square. I had been seeing the Square logo around a lot lately. I asked a feller with a booth about them. Say, how fast does your money come down to the bank with Square? Overnight, he said. They don’t charge any monthly fees either, he said.

Wa-hut? I’m paying $70+ a month (with the same 2.75% or so swipe fee). I enrolled in Square when I got home and requested cancellation papers from my other service this morning. That’s how market competition happens baby.

It was 4 years ago or so that my side business hit critical mass. I needed to take card payments, among other things. My bank referred me to a traditional processor. This processor hemmed and hawed, and looked at my book of business. At multiple tens of thousands in annual sales it was yet a ways off from their ostensible 50K minimum, and over a 3 or 4 day vetting period it seemed like they were wholly unenthusiastic. Still, they did enroll me and I am sure they have no regrets about that.

Square enrolled me, period. It took about 2-3 minutes over the PC. With reduced fees and reduced vetting, I have to imagine the amount of business they are capturing is turning the traditional industry upside down.

One notable, practical difference: Years ago this traditional processor assured me Visa / MC / Discover would take everything I own, including my wife and children, if I compromised anyone’s card information and it resulted in a loss. Seems to me I signed 4 or 5 documents that acknowledged their power to do just that. There was none of that with Square over the PC. The culpability / liability there has been rethought or underwritten in a different way it seems.

Update:  Got home, and this had come in the mail. May have to go with Amazon.


Jots with dots 9/29

Neil deGrasse Tyson begrudgingly acknowledges his use of this Bush quote has been ‘in err’, lets say. He also complains that he shouldn’t have been an intuitive candidate for a factcheck. His seminar parables are believable enough that we might ponder the mental problems of those pedants who’d challenge him, he argues. He’s saying ‘truthiness’ should absolve him. There’s some irony for ya.

The President: economy is better, but people don’t feel it. Kind of a 180 take on false consciousness. There’s some irony for ya.

True Grit

I was waiting for this article all week.  Had to wait, because Orr was doing his retrospectives by order of release:

In life I have glommed onto anachronistic cowboy mythology, and it’s served me well.  I have this oddball revolver gunsmithing business that thrives.  And with no western / cowboy ancestry to speak of, this happened for me because of exposure to pop culture.

Biggest part of that probably was this book, the original True Grit by Portis.  Mom  and dad and us 2 kids moved into the house in Lake Elmo in 1979, and at some point in the ensuing years cardboard boxes of books got unpacked.  Portis’ paperback came out of a successful serialization in the Saturday Evening Post I think in 1965-66-67, and my mother had this copy from then.  My mother was going to college at the U over those years, so I think she picked this up at U book store at some point.  And the novel was a hot thing for a time in the way that things are, it had its cultural moment.  John Wayne latched onto it for his movie, and that came out in 1969.


I was born in 68, so obviously I didn’t see the original movie for quite some time.  I had a vague recollection of 5 minutes of it on movie of the week in say 1978.  That snake pit scene as Wayne does it is very iconic.   But I didn’t watch the entire original movie on VHS until I bet the 1990’s.

What I had was this marvelous old paperback that I read so many times as a teenager in the early 80’s.

I’ll not review it actually.  It’s good, and there’s plenty of corroboration for that.  I always knew it was good, but it’s fair to say the Wayne movie diminished it’s regard, dragged it down to mere western pulp fiction.

It was so incredibly affirming to find that the Coens, brilliant as they are and also Minnesotans, thought as much of this book as I did and basically had the same experience with it.

Yeah, I love the Coen version.  Its great.

Jots with dots 9/26 – lunch

Not just another police shooting. There’s video, and it reveals there was no justification to shoot the motorist. What’s revealed also I think is how pro forma it is for officers to use boilerplate, exculpatory phraseology in their police reports that has no real relation to their reported incident, and then have a proper expectation it’s going to immunize them, particularly when there is no video. Gee, it’s almost as if they are trained to lie on their incident reports…. Drum goes on to repeat a quote that ‘maybe this will be a road to Damascus moment for conservatives.” Uh, hello. These shootings more often than not happen in urban areas. White libs are the only ones with power to change the behavior of urban police departments. If you succeed at that, some good changes will probably trickle out to the Barney Fifes.

Mills: regular guy?? Yeah, he is rich, but I dunno if this is “rich rich”, as defined by ‘yachts’. He does have a 40 hr a week job, albeit a nice paying executive position in a family business. Still, $500k per is kind of pedestrian rich; he’s not overpaid in his executive position. That’s what those jobs like his pay, and physicians / lawyers / accountants / good sales people make similar. His $50 million stake in the company is closely held / not liquid, he can’t divest a little each year to supplement his income though no doubt there are some nice dividends thrown off here and there. He ain’t Horatio Alger, but he’s an appealing candidate, I suspect he’ll win.

Even more Phil Hughes.

Hughes has explained his thinking pretty well, and it’s quite adequate but leaves some things unsaid. Thing is sending him out for a relief appearance would be a spectacle and disruptive, and he understands that. Fella has good judgment, he’s placid.

Jots with dots 9/26

3 people sleeping in the skyway this morning.

Seems absurd, yet it’s not been rebutted as conservative paranoia / exaggeration:

Eric Holder: I try to admire the President, for among other things, kinda a laudable belief system that’s rooted in social justice. Not that I agree with everything aligned with the social justice movement, but there’s stuff that speaks to a certain quality of empathy that’s good. But as an examination of the President’s core motivations, this is almost completely obviatable by noting the President appointed Eric Holder, this corrupt, bumbling apparatchik who was a known quantity because he had been Marc Rich’s bag man when the Clinton’s were bribed for pardons. In recent years, defending Holder’s reputation has always been sorta made by noting how well liberals have been able to dismiss Fast and Furious. Say ‘its partisan’. But there about 10 other things that demonstrate Holder’s fecklessness since 2009.

Burke v. Walker. I live next to Wisconsin, moreso than other Minnesotans. I do my shopping there as a matter of proximity. Ya know, the polls may say that there’s a statistical tie, but can a reasoned insight conclude that Mary Burke is going to win? As an heiress, she’s much less accomplished than Mark Dayton. She never did anything, she’s not a serious candidate.

In which my expert insight is validated. Zingy: “[Phil Hughes] pitches waist high a lot, which is the danger zone.“ Arizona Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson on Phil Hughes: "Everybody’s looking from the dugout and trying to keep off that borderline high pitch, but with the way it comes out, he’s sneaky, and it makes it hard to do."

Jots with dots 9/25

Another casualty of Ray Rice This Democrat NJ prosecutor, McClain, had rilly rilly wanted to nail this young mom with a multi-year prison sentence for what amounted to a victimless, cross border administrative violation. She got one of these pitbull 2nd amendment lawyers. He and the loose confederation of libertarian gun writers plead her case in the alternative conservative media for some months, making the obvious point that it was a grossly excessive, unjust prosecutorial response. Not that it appeared to help, but then the Ray Rice video tape went public. Turns out the prosecutor McClain had approved pre-trial diversion for Rice, whereas he had refused this for Allen. That contrast was too much when pointed out. He’s been compelled to change his mind.

On the economy adjusting to the high price of energy. I understand that various elasticities occur within an economy. Adjustments are made for high prices. Prices float, equilibriums are sought and reached, various harmonies achieved. But thing about the 70s OPEC shocks is…. The policy goal became not to adjust long term to high energy prices… but to rather bring back cheap energy. And that’s what happened. I think we had $100 / bbl oil in the late 70s / early 80s. It got down to about $15 / bbl over a period of years by 86/87/88 (working from memory). Now a lot of that is geopolitics and not energy policy per se. But one of the consciously sought externalities of the geo-politics was cheap oil. Which I think affirms my point, that people will not tolerate artificial scarcity if they have a choice, they will overthrow the old order (at the ballot box) and put in someone who will promise abundance.

I think a carbon excise tax is defensible on some merits. I do not think cap and trade is defensible.

Twins Phil Hughes…I’m kind of embarrassed that earlier this year I thought Chris Colabello would end up being a player. Anywho, the Twins were awful, save for a couple guys. Phil Hughes is real, real good. He set a record with the excellence of a somewhat obscure metric, strikeouts to walks. He ended with better than 11 to 1. Walked …16… guys in 210 innings. About 3 a month. I always liked Nolan Ryan. Ryan showed how many guys you could walk in a season if you didn’t care. He walked 204 guys in 1974. Makes for only a 2/1 strikeout to walk rate if you happen to strikeout 350+, which he also did that season. Anyway, you look at that list of guys who achieved exceptional rates like Hughes… Maddux, Saberhagen, Martinez, Schilling…there are no scrubbeenies on that list. So this k/bb rate is highly correlate able to being a good pitcher rather than a flash in the pan. And thing is, Hughes is still young. I actually don’t understand how his approach is so successful. He pitches waist high a lot (to me), which is the danger zone. Throws hard, but not exotically so. Does seem to have embraced the ‘cutter’, which I have been loath to acknowledge as effectively different from a slider. It is, I’ll have to grant.

Newspaper of the Twin Cities: our media stalwarts have not noted that with the Strib’s graphic redesign, the paywall seems to be gone. I never subscribed. When I hit 10 articles in a month, I changed browsers, went from chrome say to firefox. Or read the Strib on a different device.