FEMA under George W. Bush infamously refused to allow refugees from Hurricane Katrina to bring their pets onto buses leaving the city. Not only had these people lost everything they owned, but they were required to leave their furry friends behind to die.
And now Donald Trump continues that legacy of incompetence and graft.
Puerto Rico's governor has called Maria the worst hurricane in a century, with Trump having yet to declare the island a disaster area, but he sure finds the time to rail against Republican Obamacare rebels, when only 30% of Americans want the Affordable Care Act to be repealed and replaced.
These are Americans, no different than Trump's wealthy pals in New York. They deserve better.
Instead of trying to transfer even more money from average Americans to the 1% -- under his proposed tax cuts, the 1% will receive about 40% of the benefits, creating a deficit of $3.5 trillion in the process -- we should be implementing a progressive infrastructure tax to rebuild Puerto Rico, not to mention the one-in-ten bridges that need urgent repair, requiring at least $3 trillion.
Breitbart breathlessly announced that Luther Strange, a former trade lobbyist for Russell Brands running for Jeff Sessions' Senate seat, "lobbied for the trade deal that drained thousands of Alabama jobs to Honduras and Mexico."
Breitbart conflated NAFTA and CAFTA-DR, the former involving Canada and Mexico and the latter involving Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and the Dominican Republic.
NAFTA has never been in our favor. U.S.-Canada trade was until recently the world's greatest trading relationship, with that honor now belonging to U.S.-China trade. Note that the trade imbalance with Canada became outrageously so during Bush the Younger's reign, while the imbalance of U.S.-Mexico trade really became prominent immediately after the passage of NAFTA on January 1, 1994.
But CAFTA-DR trade has definitely been favorable to the U.S.
U.S.-China trade is the one to which we should pay attention given how lopsided it has always been. The last year the trading relationship was balanced was 1985, curiously the first year for which CENSUS Bureau data is available. We should depart the WTO or demand that China do so, not to mention eliminating China's PNTR status.
It's certainly true that Russell Brands took advantage of CAFTA-DR to transfer the wages of American workers to corporate management and Americans should punish the company by not buying its products. But to say that CAFTA-DR is not a benefit overall is disingenuous.
About nine months ago, the cost for my auto insurance policy rose dramatically. My insurance agent's ears were burning and so he sent an email to all of his customers, including this fact: "Several factors are driving the rates up; Distracted Drivers (texting and driving), along with the cost of repairs being the leading causes. For example, the cost of minor repairs has gone through the roof with back-up cameras, and front and side sensors on newer vehicles."
What a surprise, texting and driving, though selfish drivers using their smart phone's apps and talking on their cell phone are also factors. We won't do anything about it even though every other civilized country has already done so.
The second sentence of the quoted text was not relevant for me, as my truck is too old for that technology, so the increase in my policy is pure distracted driving.
A recent visit to a body shop, one in a large GM dealership, turned out to be quite educational. The estimator had been in the business for decades and had seen just about everything. He told me that not too long ago, body shops would straighten most frames after an accident, but now, because they all worship at the altar of I-CAR, they only straighten ones that are only a few millimeters out of line. Once he saw my truck and its condition, he knew he was talking with a kindred spirit. He told me of his cherished Pontiac, which he had lavished with care, money, and improvements. He had a few vehicles, but this was his baby.
But because of the ever-increasing danger posed by texters and call phone users, his Pontiac spends almost all of its time resting quietly at home.
Look closely at the second photo in the Denver Post article regarding co-working and see how many things you can find that are wrong:
- Everyone is using their own laptop, i.e. the office is a BYOD (bring your own device) shop. Employees think it's wonderful, as they have their personal apps, but IT departments hate it because employees decide if they install questionable apps or have antivirus software, with all of these devices being behind the corporate firewall. It's not a coincidence that cyber-breaches such as the one at Equifax are multiplying like rabbits. When someone clicks on a phishing email, its malware will spread.
- There is no separation of any kind between employees, so all personal odors will waft throughout the work space. If your co-workers eat beans and onions for lunch, wear strong scents, or eschew regular showers, there's no place to escape. And some people just stink.
- Not one monitor is at eye level, forcing the person to look down all day. My neck hurts just looking at them, especially the ones using laptops with a display not much bigger than a smart phone. In the old days, we'd use telephone books to serve as a platform, but these companies don't have landlines.
- Some people cannot help clearing their throats or making personal noises. One solution is to wear headphones, but if someone wears ear buds or the open style of headphones, everyone in the vicinity will hear the escaping noise.
- Some people have annoying habits: knuckle-cracking, leg-bouncing, finger-tapping, etc. Quoth the raven, "ever more."
- Any personal or business conversation, whether on the phone or nearby, will distract.
- Movement of people will attract the eye. It's human nature.
- There's been quite a few articles and lawsuits regarding sexual harassment in the office. Look at the people sitting across from one another. Every time one of them looks up, perhaps to ponder a point, they will be looking directly at the other person, which might not be interpreted innocently.
My truck was approaching 120,000 miles, but there was something wrong. I noticed the tachometer displaying a higher reading than it usually did on the highway.
I brought it in to the GM dealership where I had bought it, but they found nothing wrong.
Then a few weeks later, I was driving home on a side road when the tachometer climbed when I was only going 30 mph. The clutch in the automatic transmission slipped as I drove up the mildest of slopes. Suddenly third gear disappeared, leaving me with only first and second. I made it home, but only after annoying many people on the road with my slow speed.
It's the transmission, stupid.
I made an appointment with the dealership for the next morning. The dealership opened at 7:00 am, but I left earlier than normal, hoping that I would miss all commuters. Luckily I only lived a few miles from the dealership and was able to drive on a road which during the day was filled with shoppers, but was empty at 6:30 am. As I drove, second gear disappeared, leaving me with only first gear and a clutch that was slipping madly. There was only one mild hill to climb and it was after the only intersection with a traffic light that I had to go through. My luck held and the light stayed green, allowing me to drive through it without slowing.
The transmission was completely shot and required a rebuild. If I had lived a good distance from a dealership, I would have had to have it towed.
A few months after that, I was driving down a local highway when the engine stopped cold. I put the transmission in neutral and tried to start it while turning off the road at the first exit, luckily a residential road. The starter turned, but nothing happened. I called for a tow.
This time I was not so lucky, as the service advisor at the closest GM dealership did not appear to care if I lived or died. Three days later, he called and told me that the fuel pump had failed, explaining the symptoms. It was ready to be retrieved.
There had been no warning whatsoever with respect to the fuel pump's failure: no noise, no slowdown, nothing.
Recently, I made an appointment with Safelite to have my windshield replaced. It had the usual amount of sandblasting from Colorado winters, but the reason I wanted it replaced is that a crack had started in the right side and was traveling straight up. It wasn't in my field of view, but I take good care of my vehicles and a cracked windshield annoyed me.
When I brought it in at the scheduled time, the Safelite manager asked me to come outside and look at the truck with him. After opening the driver's door, he got in and stood on the floor. He pointed to where the windshield met the roof and told me that GM trucks have a serious design defect there. For some bizarre reason, GM placed a piece of foam under the windshield where it collected water, acting like a sponge, and caused the steel underneath to rust. He said that he had almost 30 years of experience in the business and that around 2/3 of GM trucks he saw had rust in the area. Obviously, the older a truck was, the more likely rust would be present.
He told me that there were a few possibilities. First, they would find no rust at all and would be able to replace the windshield as one would expect. This wasn't likely, however. Second, they would find a small amount of rust, but they would be able to do some minor grinding and then replace the windshield. Or third, they would find a substantial amount of rust which would prevent them from replacing the windshield.
I asked a few questions because this was so unexpected. He told me that if they found serious rust, they would be prevented from putting even the original windshield back due to the guidance of shysters. At that point, I would have a choice of leaving it with them or driving home without a windshield. They had a relationship with a local body shop, but he warned me that removing the rust could easily take 2-3 days and cost $900, on top of the cost to replace the windshield.
I thanked the manager for his time and explanations and drove away. As I was driving away, I pondered on just how dysfunctional our country has become. Safelite's shysters think they're eliminating liability by refusing to reinstall a windshield over rust, even though it was clearly just fine before they touched it, but they neglected to think about the fact that someone would be driving without a windshield, possibly at highway speeds, with the very real possibility of a rock flying through the air and striking the driver or a passenger in the face. I won't return to Safelite due to their rigid bureaucracy.
When rust occurs in a fender, one can ignore it, albeit at the risk of having it grow. Or one can pay to have it repaired, but in that case it's just metalwork. But in the junction between the windshield and the roof, removing rust may very well mean that the interior roof plastic would need to be temporarily removed in order to avoid having it destroyed by grinders or the subsequent welding needed to build up the steel removed by grinding.
And if it wasn't repaired, rust in that area would eventually lead to water leaks.
One question I should have asked was just how widespread of a problem was it. I don't know if the problem only affected one model year, but I got the impression that it affected many model years, and there's no difference between GMC trucks, Chevy trucks, GMC Denalis, Chevy Suburbans, GMC Yukons, Chevy Tahoes, and some or all vans in terms of the front of the vehicle, so this problem affects a large number of vehicles.
Reuters reported that a number of politicians, including Senator Elizabeth Warren and Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen, are pressuring Equifax to allow people to freeze their credit for free.
Reuters is confused. It is free to freeze one's credit. However, it costs $10 to temporarily unfreeze one's credit to apply for a loan, credit card, or another form of credit. And it's even worse than that because companies offering credit do not usually advertise the name of the credit agency they use, forcing one to either guess or attempt to contact the relevant party in that corporation. Wrong guesses cost $10.
I was at the customer service counter at King Soopers to buy a lottery ticket. I had the appropriate amount of cash in my hand and was ready to perform the swap when the employee asked for my King Soopers rewards card.
The card was the only way to obtain store coupons, with King Soopers taking note of all purchases for marketing purposes. If one did not want King Soopers to be able to relate sales on a personal level, one could simply obtain a card and never register it. But if one did not care about sales, one could merely pay the regular rate.
I said nothing for a few seconds and pondered the reasons why a rewards card should be used for a purchase of lottery tickets. They would never be on sale, so I would never receive any benefit. I asked him why a card was necessary.
The employee sheepishly admitted that he had been pressured by management to ask for a card for all transactions, whether lottery tickets, tobacco products, or anything else. He further admitted that he had been told that his performance review would suffer if the percentage slipped below a certain number. He was actually a bit stressed by it all.
The CEO of King Soopers must want a bigger bonus.
And there are other grocery stores.
As I wrote before, redneck extraordinaire Spencer Tuttle rear-ended my full-size pickup. The obvious damage was to the bumper and tow hitch, the latter of which was bent down at a 45 degree angle. Not until I visited a few body shops did I learn that the frame was also bent down. This is now obvious with hindsight, as the tow hitch is bolted directly to the frame. At first I thought this would a relatively simple repair, as up until recently, frames were routinely straightened.
Not any more.
My truck is old enough to have graduated high school, if trucks attended school, that is, which makes the availability of parts problematic. All of the body shops informed me that the frame needed to be replaced. I must admit, I had never heard of a frame replacement before. All collision repair centers I had ever visited had a rack of some kind to straighten steel frames, both traditional and unibody. All of the estimators told me they would not do the work because it would not meet I-CAR standards, with it being an organization "dedicated to providing the information, knowledge and skills required to perform complete, safe and quality repairs."
But there are no new frames to be had and used ones are problematic because the quality is unknown, e.g. it could have been involved in a rollover. One estimator told me that in the old days, used frames would be measured from end to end to ensure that they met the specification, with his shop no longer working with used frames for that reason. Not to mention that to replace a frame, first the body must be removed and then the frame must be remove from the undercarriage, requiring the dismantling of many connections and the removal of many bolts. It's not the kind of job one entrusts to inexperienced mechanics.
The problem is that a straightened piece of steel would no longer be as strong as it originally was. However, the rear-most section of frame is mainly used for the attachment of the bumper and an optional tow hitch. With the former, there would be less crush resistance, and with the latter, towing would stress the frame beyond safe limits.
In speaking with collision shop estimators and managers, it became clear that I-CAR is considered to be a god. If this were the age of Egyptian pharaohs, they might refer to it as Auto-Ra. Or maybe Auto-Rama. Though I wonder how large of an influence beancounters and shysters have had on this idol worship.
I proposed to a number of shops that the bumper and tow hitch be removed, the frame straightened, a custom piece of steel be installed to serve as a strengthening cross-member, which would also prevent another tow hitch from being installed, and a new bumper installed. One service manager's answer was, "We will follow acceptable and safe repair procedures only, what you are describing sounds a little risky."
On the contrary, my proposal would eliminate any risk with respect to towing because it would never occur. Certainly, the crush resistance would be reduced, but with the addition of the fabricated cross-member, the problem would be mitigated somewhat. And given that this is a pickup truck, not a car with passengers just a foot or two away from the bumper, injuries would not be a concern.
And my proposal would be safer than driving with the frame bent and bumper askew, which is what I will be doing from now on.
Libertarians and other fools often rail over inflexible government regulations, but inflexible corporations are equally bad.
The BBC News article by Sarah Buckley and Amelia Butterly on Glassbreakers CEO Eileen Carey is so blonde
There are countless blonde jokes, while jokes regarding brunettes and redheads are rare. There are jokes inferring that blondes are less than intelligent and there are jokes describing their allegedly voracious sexual habits.
I thought about it and came to the conclusion that the jokes were not derived from the antics of natural blondes. They were derived from the antics of bottle blondes, women who believe that a change in hair color substantially improves their life. Bottle blondes tend to be party girls, which would explain the second category of jokes. And as I wrote before, the natural skin and hair color of people go well together, as compared to the often hideous appearance of people with hair color from a bottle. Lady Gaga comes to mind.
BBC News journalists Sarah Buckley and Amelia Butterly interviewed Glassbreakers CEO Eileen Carey. Their article asserted that poor Carey has suffered so greviously in life, being hit on by "people" -- not solely men as one would suspect -- in bars, that this "natural blonde" dyed her hair brown.
It's definitely true that many men, both straight and gay, are predatory, with Bill Clinton, Donald Trump, and Gaëtan Dugas being the poster boys.
And it's definitely true that Silicon Valley has interpersonal problems in the workforce. It wasn't that long ago that Silicon Valley companies supplied unlimited quantities of liquor at company parties, with employees expected to imbibe heavily. Until the lawsuits, of course.
But Carey is not a natural blonde. She's a natural brunette, as can be seen in the second photo in the BBC News article which shows her dark roots.
It appears that Carey simply returned to her natural color, to her roots if you will, as shown in the first photo in the BBC News article which shows her skin, eyebrows, and hair in close harmony, though it's likely that even the brown color is not her natural one, as the second photo depicts her roots to be closer to black, making this an advanced exercise in blonde logic.
Not to mention that Carey's business model, convincing companies to hire more diversely, is in stark contradiction to her contention that "investors she was pitching to would feel more comfortable dealing with a brunette, rather than a blonde woman." Those investors would appear to require some education in tolerance or at least a good public shaming.
So was this an ingenious way for Carey to obtain free publicity for her company or a poorly researched feminist diatribe?