To Infinity and Beyond

Having a monthly open thread was not effective at generating activity, so this is just a place to share things I see and want to pass along.   Comment sort order will be the most recent first.

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Rush Limbaugh Update

This day has been long in coming.  It is not an exaggeration to say that AM radio survived another 30 years on his back.

Rush told his audience today that he has advanced lung cancer.  Rush is a cigar smoker, but the lungs are frequently where cancer metastasizes from another location.

Keep Rush in your thoughts and prayers.

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FWIW Department

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The Closing of the Internet Frontier

Historians generally agree that 1890 marked the end of the American frontier – the age of the Wild West was over. There was nowhere to go where somebody had not gone before.

2019 will go down as the year the internet frontier ended.  Corporate and government entities have now taken over complete control of the internet. It really was inevitable, just a matter of when. 

In the early days, people scoffed at the potential power of the internet to change society and culture. Now the internet is a tool to gather information on six billion people and modify their behavior and control public opinion and sell them things they didn’t know they needed.

This website has been in anachronism. There’s no profit motive, and no corporate entity wanting to monetize your eyeballs.   There is no venture capital fund hoping to launch an IPO – just one person spending 15 years of his life creating something that other people might find useful.

I indicated a while back that the EU’s GDPR could spell the end of this website, and possibly much more than that. Undoubtedly you’re noticing an increased insistence that websites must ask you for your consent before adding tracking information in a cookie.

Linode, my web hosting company, really has no alternative but to comply with these laws. They have set up a website with page after page the legal isms and the sample documents to comply with the European data privacy rights law.

But that is not the end of it. They also informed me that California is also implementing privacy laws similar to the gdpr then apply to servers located in California, and  visitors from California.  LINode offers the advice that one way to deal with this is to block IP addresses in California from accessing your website. I have no idea how one could possibly do that.

It is probable that this will trigger a growth industry of consulting firms who will test your website for compliance, and threaten you with punishment unless you hire them to conform to these regulations – kind of like when law firms hire people in wheelchairs to go test retail stores for compliance with the Americans with disability act, then file a lawsuit if they find some aisle that is too narrow for the wheelchair.

Given the decrease in interest in the directory, and my declining personal situation, this is no longer a battle I’m willing to fight.   I should probably arrange a final download of the website, and stop the web server before December 31st.   Everything is virtual anyhow, so it can continue to exist offline in the cloud until I decide a more permanent fate for it.


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The end for Harold Camping

“They” say you are not really dead as long as someone remembers you.  Harold Camping may have died this week.

You might remember him as the head of Family Radio, the numerologist who predicted that the rapture was going to happen on May 21st, 2011.  He indebted his organization buying billboards since there was no reason to worry about May 22nd, 2011.  He backpeddled as this was the second time he had predicted the end times with certainty.  He had a stroke and his body died in 2013.

The organization he left behind has been rudderless.   They sold some licenses and finally pulled the reruns of Mr Camping’s rants and replaced him with a guy who insists the world is only 8,000 years old.

The organization is moving from Oakland California to Nashville, TN and plans to unload stations that are losing money.


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Following in the Footsteps of National Socialism

Both Elizabeth Warren and ailing presidential candidate Bernie Sanders are proposing the notion of a “wealth tax” on the “ultra rich”.   This is a fundamental change in how our government would pretend to be funded, and it has an ugly precedent going back to the 1930s.

Here is their idea:

Elizabeth Warren is particularly devious in that she describes it as “just two cents” for the ultra rich, rather than 2% of confiscation of total wealth per year.

In order to have such a tax, the government will need to set up a system for people to register all of their property in order to prove that they are not subject to the tax.  You can be certain that once the system is in place, the wealth tax will no longer be only for billionaires and will no longer be 2%.

After Germany seized control of Austria in 1938, they created a law requiring all Jewish people to register all of their property, as a prelude to confiscating their wealth and worse.

If you wanted to leave the country, you had to hand over 50% of your wealth in order to be allowed to leave. That is straight from the Engles principles of communism and a frequently recurring proposal from Democrats any time they are preparing to raise taxes.

Next time you hear a Democrat say we need to make “the rich” pay “their fair share”, replace “the rich” with “the Jews” and you will understand what they are really doing.


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Stock Trades were meant to be free?

E*trade has joined Charles Schwab and TD Ameritrade in eliminating trading fees on retail stock trades  (and other financial products).   The dirty little secret is that $5 per trade fee was never the reason your online brokerage loves you.

The real profits are in earning a portion of the “spread”, the difference between the price to buy a stock and what you receive when you sell the stock back.  Retail brokers have long participated in “payment for order flow”, where a wholesale trading firm earns the spread and gives a portion of the income to the retail firm.   The business practice was an innovation created by Bernie Madoff, one time head of NASD, which decides the rules for trading in cooperation with the SEC


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Pumpkins and Beer

Now there is a recipe for disaster!

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While you were distracted

In another time, what I am about to tell you would have been huge national news. Since the news media seems to be obsessed only with finding a way to impeach Donald Trump, you have not heard about this.

Jack Cooper logistics, based in Kansas City filed chapter 11 bankruptcy about two weeks ago. It is the single largest car hauler company in the United States, transporting cars from the factory to dealerships, for the roughly 40% of cars that are not shipped by rail.

Jack Cooper is a unionized hauler with a contract with 2,000 members of the Teamsters.  There is no formal requirement that UAW built cars be transported on unionized car transport trucks, although it was kind of a tradition in the past.

The “new” GM and some of the other players are using non-union transport companies for their vehicle deliveries, and a failing Jack Cooper was unable to find any new revenue streams given the pay rates they have to pay for union drivers, and all the accompanying problems with having union workers showing up at your business.

It looks like the company will be taken over by Sorbus alternative capital based in New York City, which is hoping to buy new trucks that can carry more cars more efficiently. If they fail, the company could be liquidated.

As a sidenote, if the GM strike drags on, it is eventually going to hurt the Kansas City Southern RailRoad and  Schneider transport, who apparently do a big business in bringing up car parts from Mexico to the US assembly plants.  KCS bought one of the railroads in Mexico after NAFTA was approved.

The United States that Donald Trump lives in and the United States that actually exists are very different places

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Septa is not just about public transit

September, from the Latin Septum, meaning Seven.

Latin seems so non-inclusive.   Each special interest  group in the Democratic Party should be encouraged to rename days, months and planets.


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