Monday, August 25, 2014

Witch Hunting in the 21st Century

Click to enlarge
I'm not saying that there really is witch hunting going on, though I suppose certain terrorists would claim they're seeking to rid the world of evil non-believers.

But I am saying that humanity hasn't evolved much from the earliest days. People still jump to conclusions. People are still fast - very fast - to condemn. Social media just lets people condemn faster.

There's that big book that so many people claim to follow these days, but "let he who is without sin cast the first stone" is not a concept that seems to apply to them.

Funny how that works.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

The more things change...

Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose is how they say it in France*.  The more it changes, the more it's the same thing, and that's just the situation we've got here with the plywood industry in the US.

Remember that bailout thing a few years ago?  How'd that work out for your business?  Now the US Government is helping China undercut US businesses.  How do you figure that'll work out for you, the citizen?

Kip Howlett, president of the Hardwood Plywood and Veneer Association, says 25% of the overall hardwood plywood capacity in the US has been permanently shut down because companies have gone out of business due to China's "dumping", defined by the US Department of Commerce as "a foreign company selling a product in the U.S. at less than its fair value".

Although a big chunk of US producers petitioned the US International Trade Commission to block the dumping, the ITC voted against doing anything last November, stating that the plywood industry in the United States is not threatened by plywood from China, even though the production of the plywood is subsidized by the Chinese government and the Chinese plywood undercuts US plywood by up to 56% in some cases.

In refusing to do anything about the dumping, the ITC has essentially voted to favor China's plywood sales over those of the US. But then, Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose, you know?  The US government we have today isn't really any different than any other government when it comes down to it: Government exists to serve its own best interests and screw the people.

You can read more HERE (USA Today article), and find links to several more articles HERE.

* Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr said it first in  his his journal Les Guêpes (“The Wasps”), January 1849

Monday, July 1, 2013

Fire, Death and Taxes

My condolences to families and friends of the firefighters who were killed in the Yarnell fire in AZ yesterday.

It is a terrible tragedy, all the worse because it might have been prevented.  

Back in 2003 the Healthy Forests Restoration Act (HFRA) was passed, good legislation that has, aside from an initial flurry of Community Wildfire Protection Plans (CWPP), been pretty much ignored.  The initial funding that made HFRA seem like a light at the end of the tunnel was withdrawn years ago from forest restoration and hazardous fuels reduction projects in the southwest and everywhere else. Environmental groups that had promised to support the scientifically based planning of the projects reneged and began fighting projects tooth and nail instead.  

Five years after HFRA was passed it was known that it wasn't working. At that point only about 213,000 acres of forest had been treated.  In 2008 alone wildfires burned 5 million acres - 1.5 million more acres than burned in 2003, the year the act was passed.  In 2008 it was reported that "The worst fire seasons of the last eight years were in 2006 and 2007, with 9.1 million acres and 9.4 million acres burned, respectively."   But even knowing that it wasn't working didn't bring about increased forest restoration efforts.  Thus last year and the year before another 18 million acres were destroyed (9.3 million in 2012 and 8.7 million in 2011).

Environmental groups that initially not only supported HFRA but entered into agreements about how it would be implemented - including pledging to not fight forest restoration - were quick to turn traitor.  In the Gila National Forest, where the Silver Fire has consumed over 125,000 acres to date and last year's Whitewater-Baldy Complex fire took an additional 300,000 acres, only a few thousand acres of forest restoration has been accomplished since HFRA, not the tens of thousands of acres needing treatment every year just to keep up with growth.  And only a few miles to the west in Arizona, the Wallow Fire destroyed well over half a million acres two years ago - same ecological environment, same Ponderosa pine forest, same wildlife and habitats, the watersheds for Phoenix and the Colorado River.   

Eyewitnesses report that representatives from environmental groups flat-out forbid significant logging  in the forests.  They refuse to allow thinning of even the drought-stricken, fire-prone, disease-ridden areas of forest to bring them to some kind of healthy condition so that they wouldn't simply burn up the moment a careless camper left hot coals, or lightning struck a Ponderosa pine on a hillside.   

More than 72.6 million acres of forest has burned over the last 10 years (not counting the fires so far this year, which have already consumed considerable acreage).  Here in the southwest the fires are becoming worse and worse - they are not "natural and healthy", they are fires that destroy so completely that decades later there is just scrub where there used to be mighty pines. Some scientists estimate it will be hundreds of years before there will be forests again.

This is not forest management by science-based public agencies.  This is private agenda management of public resources by non-governmental entities, who care less about the health of our forests.  It is these groups that have ground restoration and hazardous fuels reduction projects to a crawl - not logging, not grazing, not any of the BS the mighty environmentalist propaganda machines feed the public.  

If environmentalist methods worked, then the Yarnell firefighters wouldn't have been in the path of a raging, out-of-control wildfire.

But now it's too late.  Ten years of opportunity is gone.  Instead of taxpayer dollars going towards proactively addressing forest health, now millions and millions have to be spent on suppression. Not only is the "closing the barn door after the horse has escaped" approach not working, it's become a national tragedy, with loss of human life, destruction of homes and businesses and ruining of watersheds, not to mention the agony of the animals in the forest that die from burning alive, or from slow starvation because of habitat loss.

And it's not going to stop, not if environmentalist are left in charge of our public lands.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Shunning: Try it, it works.

"Bic "Lady" pens unleash Amazon snarkfest" says Washington Post headlines today. "Bic is being trolled hard by fake Amazon reviews, and it’s brought them that unique combination of shame and free publicity that only an Internet prank can achieve."

Prank?  I think not.  I have long understood that advertisers on purpose create ad campaigns that seem on the surface to be gigantic errors but in fact are well crafted calculations of risk. They know that the absolute worst thing that could happen to any business is shunning but they also know that in this day of social media, people absolutely *must* rush to comment/review/defend - and the "outrage" provides free name recognition that any less risky/controversial advertising wouldn't.

You might not buy a Lady Bic, but I bet the Bic label will jump out at you when you look at pens, now.  You'll want to see what those Lady Bics look like if nothing else.  See?  It worked.

Social media is a great tool for this kind of calculated on-purpose negative advertising.  People with good intentions post shocking image after image, comment after comment, and in doing so the nasty stuff gets lots of free publicity. Do-gooders think that their postings and clever comments will somehow motivate people to act against the issue, but I'm pretty sure that's more than evenly balanced by the voyeurs who really appreciate the ugly photos, and the people who have been newly introduced by the do-gooders to the nastiness and who can now embrace it themselves.

Various entities have long used negative advertising successfully. Environmental groups provide a superb example: They have raised the fear level so high that they support themselves (their board members) very well, while never doing any actual environmental work. Their negative advertising - like with other entities, such as religion and government - has created such a general fear in the population that people will believe what they are told in direct contradiction to what their own senses and non-biased history and fact tell them.

You can't fight city hall

That's what they say, and it's true. You can't fight the people with that much money/power. But oh, baby, you have a super power that will slap them dead if you will just use it: The power of shunning.  

Social rejection is the worst thing that can happen in human society - individuals who are shunned can suffer severe psychological damage from it, and groups can wither away to nothing from it.  Social media rejection is death to business.  

Shunning has been part of human strategy since cave-man time, because it works.  Paying attention to something feeds it, withdrawing attention from - shunning - starves it, whether it's a human being, a business, an organization or a political entity, and whether the attention is in the form of money, time, effort or, well, just plain attention.  

Be careful what you shun, though.  Make sure your target is right on.  For example, if you shun well, you don't pass around photos of a football player's torn-up dogs; instead you shun the man himself, the team that supports him and the organizations that supposedly are created to prevent animal abuse that didn't act.  

Shunning isn't just doing nothing - they pay advertising companies big bucks to entice you and they're very, very good at it.  They prey on human curiosity and they taint it with fear, so you can't not look, not if you want to be safe.  Curiosity and fear:  two basic components of human survival tactics that are hard-wired into us all.  Doesn't mean we can't overcome it, of course, but it does mean effort.  Shunning is actually harder to do than you'd think, but it works, oh yes it truly does.
As for Bic Lady pens?  Amazon keeps track of hits on their pages and if they get lots of hits they'll keep supporting that kind of advertising.  Bic, too, will know that their negative-advertising ploy has worked.  If you succumb to the desire to read the snarky reviews, you'll be part of the problem, not the solution.  Try shunning the Amazon Lady Bic pen and it will just fade away.  Honest - shunning works, but only if you actually do it.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Insurance - It Never Ends

Copyright © 2012 CR Edmunds

First you just paid for your own repairs if you got into an accident.  And if you hurt someone else or you damaged their car, the court system would make you pay for that, too.

Then the government said you had to get vehicle insurance because you might get in an accident and hurt someone else or damage their car, even if you are an excellent driver.  Even if you never have a claim, you keep paying and you get no interest on all those payments - the money’s just down the drain.  But it’s supposed to be okay because your money is being used in a pool to cover other people’s accidents because there isn’t enough money in the pool to cover all the insurance payments being made.

And then you had to get vehicle insurance because the other guy in an accident that you might never get into might not have insurance.  Even though you pay it month after month, year after year, you keep paying that one so that all the other people who haven’t paid for their own insurance or for the other uninsured guy in their accident are covered by insurance anyway.  You know, they still call it insurance, but it’s really a tax, isn't it?  

First you just took responsibility for your own health and if you got ill or injured, you paid the healer, doctor and/or hospital yourself.  If you couldn’t afford it and you couldn’t beg or borrow the money, you died.

Then insurance made it easier to not worry about medical bills, so you stopped taking responsibility for your own health and if you got ill or injured, you let the medical system take care of you and let the insurance company pay for the doctor and or hospital.  You still ended up dying – it just took longer and cost more, but that was okay because there was a pool of insurance money that covered it.

And then everyone was forced to get medical insurance because so many people were no longer taking responsibility for their health that the insurance money pool wasn’t big enough.  So now even the people who are healthy and willing to pay for their own medical costs have to get insurance.  And if you don’t pay for it as insurance, you pay for it as a tax – at least the government is honest enough to call the spade a spade - but you pay no matter what, and you pay as long as you’re still alive to be paying, whether it benefits you or not.

What’s next?
It’s only logical for every homeowner to be forced to get disaster insurance that covers tornado, hurricane, flood, mudslide, earthquake, blizzard, fire and tsunami, no matter where they live or what the risk is of any given disaster.  Because, you know, that will make the insurance pool bigger so everyone can keep building houses in inappropriate places and building houses that aren’t constructed to withstand natural disasters. We need to be sure that homeowners keep getting compensated when a natural disaster wipes them out regardless of the reason it happens, or how often it happens. 

We need insurance to cover food shortages, including contaminated food.  Because, you know, having insurance will ensure that there's always food in the grocery store, and having insurance will compensate for price gougers when natural disasters wipe out food crops, or there's no fuel to bring food in from other countries (we can't grow food on agricultural land that housing developments now occupy, of course).

And what about the rest of the world?  We should all start paying for the poor people who live in other countries who don’t have insurance of any kind – they need medical care, they need to drive vehicles, they need coverage for their houses in case of disaster.  And those bad foreign people who just don’t want to pay for insurance – we need to pay for them too, since the insurance pool needs to be large enough to cover everything and everyone.

We all should start paying into the insurance pool now for future generations, too, because they will need coverage - given the economy, they won’t be able to earn enough to pay for their own vehicle, medical, homeowner’s or food shortage insurance.    

There must be something else that could be insured.  We don't want people being responsible for themselves - it isn't fair!

Oh yeah:  We should start paying for insurance for insurance, because after a while I, for one, won’t be earning enough money to pay for all the mandatory insurance so you all should pay into the pool to cover me.      And heck, why should I pay all that out now?  It'll never stop and I'll never get ahead.  Maybe I should just stop working and let that insurance pool cover all my needs.

Sounds like a plan.  

Friday, February 17, 2012

In spite of murder, the Mexican wolf population increases

The pro-Mexican wolf community is waxing on about the increase in wolf population as determined by the recent wolf count: The number is now up to 58.
That would be 58 wolves counted, of course - not the number that actually exists in the wild, which is a higher number than that. There are - and have been for years - an unknown but strongly existing uncollared wolf population, one that isn't constantly messed with by the wolf program just because the uncollared wolves can't be so easily located.
Recently Mexican wolf supporter Nancy Kaminski posted online "Through it all, the murders, natural disasters, deaths by vehicle, Game and Fish Departments running for the hills and a shortage of possible mates for dispersers, the population of Mexican wolves grew in 2011. "
Don't you just love the choice of words? Given that the definition of murder is the unlawful premeditated killing of one human being by another, one wonders what human being Kaminski was referring to that was murdered, since unlawful wolf killings are just that: the killing of a wolf unlawfully. But how silly of me to expect pro-wolf people to use unbiased language, or have an unbiased, scientific approach, to their commentary.

Wouldn't it be ironic, though, if the reason for the increase in wolves might simply be because of Catron County and other efforts to get the wolf program to stop releasing habituated wolves, to remove habituated wolves from the wild instead of trap and transport elsewhere to be someone else's problem, and to get the State of New Mexico to withdraw from the program? Wouldn't it be a joke on Ms. Kaminski and other wolf lovers if maybe the reason that the Mexican wolf population this year has increased is simply because the wolf program people have been forced to stop screwing so much with the wolves, giving wolves a better chance to act like normal wild animals? After all, it is a fact of science that frequent handling of wild animals stresses them and ruins their chances for reproductive success and thriving in the wild.
But heaven forbid the Mexican wolf program should be based on science. Not when there's all that murder going on.