Interesting Items 6/10

Howdy All, a few Interesting Items for your information.  Enjoy –

In this issue:

  1. Debt
  2. Shooters
  3. Antitrust
  4. Mexico
  5. China
  6. Branding
  7. Plagues

  1. Debt. Feel good story of the week took place when Alaska Governor Dunleavy forgave legal debts for a 26-year old man who was attacked by a slasher while an eight-year-old in 2001 at one of Anchorage’s elementary schools.  The child was slashed in the face from neck to scalp.  Recovery and rehabilitation took multiple surgeries.  Three other boys were hurt in the attack.  A year later, the parents took the Anchorage School District, Alaska Psychiatric Institute (API) and a number of other institutions to court for failing to prevent the attack.  The perp was treated by API for religious delusions and thoughts of harming children before the attack.  The family lost their case and the court ordered them to pay attorney’s fees totaling more than $24,000.  The kid was named as a plaintiff though he was only 9 at the time the lawsuit was filed and as such, was on the hook for a portion of the legal bill.  The state began garnishing his Permanent Fund Dividend in 2014, though he didn’t know it.  As of October 2016, the family still owed $19,000 to the state.  The local fish wrapper published a story about the affair and garnishment, leading to the 26-year old to reach out to the Governor’s office for relief.  Governor Dunleavy ordered the Attorney General to look into it.  It didn’t take long for the Attorney General to file a satisfaction of judgment in the case, removing his obligation to pay the outstanding debt.  The kid’s father is still on the hook for paying his portion of the debt.  His mother died in 2016.  Political reaction was predictable to this story, as the left took the opportunity to bash Dunleavy for getting the state deeper into debt.  But they miss the greater picture, as this garnishment started in 2014, the last year of Governor Parnell’s (Republican) term.  It continued for 4 solid years under Walker (Indy who was a democrat) and was stopped by Dunleavy.  Walker could have used it as a feel-good story during the latter stages of his reelection campaign but it didn’t have anything to do with his natural gas pipeline, so he didn’t care.  From here, it appears that we elected the right governor last year.


  1. Shooters. Interesting story out of the NYP entitled “School shooter drills terrorize our kids pointlessly.”  The NYC Department of Education requires what they call General Response Protocols what require four lockdown drills in addition to fire drills every year.  Essentially the training is for the kids to hide in closets and stay quiet.  Apparently, shooters are too stupid to walk into a public school with murder in their black little hearts and not be able to figure out that students are hiding and trying to be quiet.  Otherwise, why hold this sort of training?  It is somewhat remindful of the duck and cover drills of half a century ago, though with occasional natural events like the 2013 Chelyabinsk bolide, duck and cover training is a positive thing and should be part of the educational experience.  The problem with all of this is that school shootings are a pretty rare thing.  A Wash Post column last year put odds for various lifestyle altering events as follows:  Lightning strike in the US any single year is1 in 700,000.  Odds of being struck in your lifetime is 1 in 3,000.  Chance of dying in a vehicle accident is 1 in 103.  On the other hand, the statistical likelihood of any given public-school student getting killed by a gun in school on any given day since 1999 is 1 in 614,000,000.  Better yet, these events have been getting less common since the 1990s.  And there is evidence that that this training does not actually do anything to help keep people from getting hurt.  But like many things in security these days, security theater is more satisfying to the education blob than taking actual steps to put fear or doubt in the minds of a wannabee perp.  For example, the same Florida educrats that started doing the code red drills as many as 10 times a school year (monthly), have vigorously fought every single attempt to arm teachers and other people in the public schools.  Surely, we can do this better.


  1. Antitrust. There is good news, bad news and a warning about the Masters of the Universe at Big Tech.  The good news is that the Trump administration is ginning up an antitrust effort aimed at Goolag, FakeBook, Twitter and Amazon.  The bad news is that Big Tech is well positioned to successfully fight that effort, despite noises out of congress in support of their defenestration.  The warning comes from Scott Adams who insists that if the Trump administration doesn’t do something to break up Big Tech, they will make sure he loses in 2020.  Details and observations follow.  The Barr DoJ is working on an antitrust investigation of Goolag and has been doing so for weeks.  The FTC previously did an investigation into Goolag that was closed in 2013 with no formal action, though Goolag promised to make some voluntary changes.  The bad news is that Goolag has been fighting antitrust efforts for years in Europe and knows how to play the game.  To date, they have been fined $3.2 billion EU in recent years, mostly due to anti-competitive contractual language for third party websites.  They have been doing this since 2006 and are well practiced in the game.  They also have a lot of congress critters, incumbents who are up for reelection every other year (in the house) who benefit from Goolag blocking or diddling search results to favor them over their opponents.  They say all the right things about antitrust but when it comes time to do something, they will end up supporting those who return them to office.  Finally, the warning from Scott Adams has to do with the ability of Silicon Valley Big Tech to deplatform conservatives at the drop of a hat.  This has been happening a lot lately, particularly with Twitter and YouTube, where people are banned, and their materials taken down without a word of warning.  When the outcry is big enough, those materials come back sometimes.  OTOH, if you look at what the Masters of the Universe in tactical military terms, these attempts are best defined as probing attacks, reconnaissance in force, force reccie.  These guys can make sure nothing that Trump says or does is available.  And after the heat that FakeBook and Twitter took for allowing him to use their platforms as springboards to beat the Hillary campaign like the proverbial mule (or donkey) in 2016, expect those plans to already be in place.  DoJ needs to get their collective back sides in gear as they are only 17 months out from the general election.


  1. Mexico. The Trump administration announced an agreement with Mexico to stop the caravans of people from Central America passing through Mexico on their way to claim asylum at the US border.  He had threatened imposing tariffs on a variety of Mexican goods and services unless they came up with an agreement.  This sufficiently got their attention to the extent that they immediately sat down with US negotiators.  At a minimum, the Mexicans are deploying at least 6,000 La Guardia Nacional troops on the Guatemalan border.  There were a number of arrests made and at least one caravan turned back.  Bank accounts of the organizers paying the caravan handlers and enablers were frozen.  These bank accounts were funded from a worldwide cast of Bad Actors as far away as Nigeria.  To date, none of these names were released to US officials.  I don’t know if I believe that part yet, as I expect there is significant leftist funding for this effort from all the usual suspects on the left.  With this action, Mexico President Obrador has done more to solve the invasion issue that literally anyone in congress has done, especially Republican US Senators bleating about tariff threats, undermining the effort, have done in years.  Congratulations to everyone involved.  Bronx cheers to anti-Tariff Republican senators and the Chamber of Commerce crowd that led the opposition.  And a special message to leftists in the US and other nations:  your days of free play on this are about to come to an end.


  1. China. This one is a few weeks old but serves as an example of how the marketplace works.  The ChiComs, smarting from Trump’s tariffs during trade negotiations, thought they had come upon a new weapon to use in the fight, that of rare earth elements.  Rare earths are relatively rare elements that are vital in the construction and operation of a variety of high-tech equipment (cell phones, turbines, medical equipment, machinery).  The ChiComs have made an effort to corner the economic market on their mining and production.  Given their near complete lack of environmental restrictions in mining and processing, they have done well gaining the market share.  The other thing going on in parallel, has been the ongoing effort of US greens to lock up as many deposits of those minerals as possible in an array of National Parks, Wilderness Areas, Reserves and forests, various public lands where they can shut down mining of those elements.  They attack the processing side of the equation by creative use of clean air and clean water regulations.  Funny thing happens when you have a conservative administration in office, though.  The artificial limits in mining and processing of the rare earth elements are removed and US industry can start responding to ChiCom attempts to corner the market by old fashioned American ingenuity.  Want to cut us off from rare earths as a hammer in the trade wars?  Great.  We will do it ourselves, cheaper, cleaner, and far, far more efficiently than you guys can.  On example last week came from Blue Line Corporation, a chemical company in Texas, the first and only company outside China that can process small batches of rare earths.  Last week, they announced a partnership with Lynas, and mining company from Oz to build a processing facility in the US.  It will take them about three years to get into production.  So much for cornering the market.


  1. Branding. One of the things that candidate Trump was able to do throughout the 2016 campaign cycle was branding his political opposition.  This usually came in the form of a two-word description of his opposition:  Crooked Hillary, Lying Ted, etc.  He finally got around to slapping one on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who will now ne known as Nervous Nancy.  He is working on one for Joe Biden.  So far, Slow or Floppy Joe seems to be ahead in the consideration flow.  What happens with this sort of persuasion kill shot is that the target is completely helpless in fighting it, as a properly crafted brand like this invokes the confirmation bias of the listener.


  1. Plagues. Stephen Green listed the 10 plagues that are turning California into a democrat-led, third world Hellhole.  They are:  Blackouts, typhus, poop, an army of homeless, wildfires, contaminated syringes, garbage, rats, fleas and progressive government.  There are real costs to a one-party state.  And if you have one, or a one-party city, these plagues are coming to your world.  We are already starting to see this take place in Anchorage, and it hasn’t been all that long.

More later –

– AG


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