Sunday, July 19, 2015

Maybe Trump is right?

I don't particularly like Donald Trump's style. Enough has been said about that topic and there's no need to rehash it here.

However, I don't particularly like John McCain's views, attitudes, opinion, or character either. He's a corrupt, warmongering, politician from a well-connected family who has grown tremendously wealthy from his time in office. We can debate his intelligence, but the fatal evidence of his low IQ is that he doomed his 2008 ticket by choosing Sarah Palin to be his running mate.

Back in 2008, I ran across this article written about John McCain's record. I was shocked that a Google search turned it up again. You do have to be impressed by the fortitude he showed while imprisoned by the North Vietnamese, but that shouldn't mean criticizing his record, actions, and positions should be off limits. Focusing on Trump's inelegant manner distracts from the core issue: McCain lives in a glass house and shouldn't be throwing stones at Donald Trump or anyone else.

McCain has never really earned anything. He is from a wealth pampered background and not fit to lead this nation. 
A “war hero” doesn’t finished 894th out of 899 and still get stationed at a Navy champagne unit and promoted ahead of all but two of his 898 other classmates. 
A “war hero” doesn’t crash three U.S. Navy jets out of sheer incompetence and ineptitude, including two during non-combat training sessions. 
A “war hero” doesn’t get written up on drunk-and-disorderly, fraternization, disobeying orders, and insubordination charges more than two dozen times in less than three years.
A “war hero” doesn’t get promoted to squadron commander of the air field named after his own grandfather immediately after crashing his third airplane. A “war hero” doesn’t have all the military records that cover his time in Vietnam and all disciplinary actions against him censored and sealed “as a matte r of national security.” A “war hero” doesn’t get 28 medals awarded all after-the-fact “for bravery” for no other reason than being shot down and captured and then go on a celebrity public relations tour because he’s the son of two acclaimed Navy admirals. A “war hero” doesn’t repeatedly cheat on the wife who’s back in the states waiting for him, and then cheat on her more when he returns to the states, and then divorce and abandon her.
A “war hero” doesn’t systematically vote against every single pay and benefit increase for military and veterans throughout his entire political career, all the while claiming to be “the soldier’s Congressman,” and then take credit for the passage of a G.I. benefits bill he that voted AGAINST. A “war hero” McCain III lost jet number one in 1958 when he plunged into Corpus Christi Bay while practicing landings. He was knocked unconscious by the impact coming to as the plane settled to the bottom. McCain’s second crash occurred while he was deployed in the Mediterranean. “Flying too low over the Iberian Peninsula,” Timberg wrote, “he took out some power lines [reminiscent of the 1998 incident in which a Marine Corps jet sliced through the cables of a gondola at an Italian ski resort, killing 20] which led to a spate of newspaper stories in which he was predictably identified as the son of an admiral.”
McCain’s third crash three occurred when he was returning from flying a Navy trainer solo to Philadelphia for an Army-Navy football game. Timberg reported that McCain radioed, “I’ve got a flameout” and went through standard relight procedures three times before ejecting at one thousand feet. McCain landed on a deserted beach moments before the plane slammed into a clump of trees. McCain’s fifth loss happened during his 23rd mission over North Vietnam on Oct. 26, 1967, when McCain’s A-4 Skyhawk was shot down by a surface-to-air missile. McCain ejected from the plane breaking both arms an d a leg in the process and subsequently parachuted into Truc Bach Lake near Hanoi. For 23 combat missions (an estimated 20 hours over enemy territory), the U.S. Navy awarded McCain a Silver Star, a Legion of Merit for Valor, a Distinguished Flying Cross, three Bronze Stars, two Commendation medals plus two Purple Hearts and a dozen service medals. “McCain had roughly 20 hours in combat,” explains Bill Bell, a veteran of Vietnam and former chief of the U.S. Office for POW/MIA Affairs — the first official U.S. representative in Vietnam since the 1973 fall of Saigon. “Since McCain got 28 medals,” Bell continues, “that equals out to about a medal-and-a-half for each hour he spent in combat. There were infantry guys — grunts on the ground — who had more than 7,000 hours in combat and I can tell you that there were times and situations where I’m sure a prison cell would have looked pretty good to them by comparison.
The question really is how many guys got that number of medals for not being shot down.” For years, McCain has been an unchecked master at manipulating an overly friendly and biased news media. The former POW turned Congressman, turned U.S. Senator, has managed to gloss over his failures as a pilot by exaggerating his military service and lying about his feats of heroism. McCain has sprouted a halo and wings to become America’s POW-hero presidential candidate.
This article was written by an active, unnamed Marine. It was published by Gale Toensing founder of the Corner and she sent it to me. It is a true account of McCain’s real war record and evidence of his lack of fitness for the office of President.

Thursday, July 9, 2015


I have a split personality with regard to Apple.

Personality One: I've made a tremendous amount of money speculating on Apple stock over the last ten years. You'll never go broke betting on the stupidity of the American consumer.

Personality Two: Apple is and always has been one of the most overrated and hypocritical corporations in the world. There isn't time or space here to cover all the facts supporting this assessment. Walmart has more integrity.

Since it's announcement last Fall, I've been amazed at the ridiculous hype surrounding Apple's latest attempt to fleece the sheep....the iWatch.

What you have is an overpriced fashion statement that has a lousy battery life, is relatively bulky, and doesn't have its own internal intelligence to do much (it relies on your iPhone). The one thing it does well is serve as an expensive workout timer and, provided you don't mind small storage, a means of music playback to bluetooth headphones. That is a nice capability, but is it really worth $350?

That, of course, is for the plastic piece-o-crap version. The metal version is around $700 and it gets worse from there. Apple is literally trying to see what the limits of their customer exploitation may be. 

Apple may finally be starting to run out of lemmings. Some preliminary channel data is suggesting that sales have been absolutely abysmal since the first rush of iDiots, who just had to buy one sight unseen. Volumes have collapsed over the last couple of months.

Full disclosure: I sold all of our final Apple holdings with the late April
iWatch launch hype spike. The next move will be to short with conviction when the markets finally do begin to roll over (which may be sooner than anyone thinks).

Image result for mocking apple iwatch

Friday, July 3, 2015

Beating the Heat Without AC

It's been warmer than usual up here in Northern Idaho. On a couple of days it even hit 95 degrees inside our rig. The hottest time is from about 4pm to 7pm before the nighttime cooling sets in. Fortunately, we have 30-35 degree swings in temperature at night, so we get 14-16 hours a day of cool temperatures even on the hottest days.

We pride ourselves on being able to boondock in conditions most people couldn't handle, but dealing with temperatures in the teens is a lot easier than dealing with temperatures pushing 100 degrees. Now we could fire up the generator and turn on the AC, but that would be admitting defeat! Instead we've chosen to deal with it the old fashioned way.

Our first strategy has been to save the hardest physical activities for the 4-5 hour period in the mornings before the temperature hits 80 degrees. This has been our time for gardening, working on the forest, and hiking. After 80 degrees, it's time to find a shady spot for the day and just relax, or head up to our favorite mountain swimming holes. Fortunately, low humidity and the scarcity of bugs works to our advantage.

One of our favorites is a 20 minute drive away. It's worth the extra drive time. The water is perfect, the setting is private, there's a nice mix of shade and sunny areas, and the creek has a nice diversity of deep pools, sandy shallows, and water chutes among the rocks.

Sometimes you need to be in the sun after swimming in a cold mountain stream.

Jake doesn't really know how to relax. His motto is "I'll sleep when I'm dead".

However, warmer weather does have its benefits. The sweet corn is waist high by July, the squash and raspberries have been coming in regularly, and the heirloom tomatoes are ripening early. There's been very little rain and loads of sun, so we've been able to crank up our refrigerator/freezer on electric during the day to keep the cold beverages and ice flowing. The solar panels easily power it and the batteries fully recharge every day (we never draw down our batteries below 70%).

We're going back to our normal weather in the 80s starting this weekend. Time to get back to work. No more lounging in the shade in a hammock with a cold beverage all afternoon.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Back in the Saddle

Back in my working days, I would use a unique system to taste and evaluate wine samples. I first learned the technique working for a Sonoma-based winemaking consulting firm called Enologix. I went on to use this technique at several different wineries where I made wine and for our own wine brand Rocinante.

The beauty of the system is that you can quickly evaluate hundreds of samples a day and have a numerical result can easily be manipulated in a database to give you predictive information about a wine style and the type of consumer who will prefer that wine style. This is valuable winemaking information, not least because you can adjust your winemaking techniques to match the markets and price points you are trying to hit.

However, the best part may be that the technique lends itself particularly well to blind, informal group tastings at home. Someone who has never tasted wine can participate next to a seasoned wine professional and both will have fun and learn something about wine styles and, most importantly, wine styles they actually prefer (not wine styles they have been told to prefer or want to think they prefer). We did hundreds of these tastings over the years when we still had a "normal" house. We'd have anywhere from four to 12 people at a tasting and the food and drink would carry long into the night. 

Since we've been on the road, we haven't had the venue to do one of these tastings. Now that we spend the summers up in North Idaho, we've mentioned these tastings to friends up here and have had a lot of offers from them to provide venues.

Since it's been warm, I decided to blind taste a group of Brut style sparkling wines from the U.S. made in the traditional Champagne style. We had Roederer Estate, Domaine Chandon, Mumm Napa Valley, Gruet, Gloria Ferrer, and Scharffenberger.

In the beginning, it was all very dignified.

By the end, things were a little more loose.

This flight of wines was interesting because of the subtle differences. We had some great results that even surprised me. One of our friends has a brother visiting from Australia later this month. I think we'll need to do Australian Shiraz vs. U.S. Syrah in their honor. I'd like to see the Aussies pick a Rocinante Syrah as their favorite!