The End of the World

The End of the World (As We Know It)

We all use the phrase “one in a million”. It was thought to originate from an individual’s chance of being struck by lightning, which is actually one in 1,222,000. Highly unlikely.

Statistics are generally accepted as truth, and they should be. Math is math. 1 plus 1 will always be two, no matter how you spin it. But statistics can be manipulated for advantage.

The lightning example is based on the annual number of individuals struck by lightning (270) in the United States divided by the population (330 million). Of those victims, only 27 die, so your chance of being killed by lightning is only one in 12 million. And where you live has an impact too. You are 30 times more likely to be hit by lightning in Montana than in California.

The COVID-19 pandemic engages us all in a game of numbers that is unprecedented. The news/entertainment media and elite globalists worldwide would have us believe they care deeply about every human life on the planet, but close scrutiny reveals their self-serving ambition. And all sides of the argument about whether we should be afraid or not, whether we should shut down the entire world economy or not, are based on numbers.

Here are some numbers (as of the date of this writing) for your consideration and perspective:

US deaths 2018 total (not including abortion)2,839,000
US deaths each year due to heart disease647,000
US deaths 2016 due to abortion623,471
US deaths 2017-2018 due to influenza80,000
US deaths projected this year due to COVID-19?
US deaths so far this year due to abortion200,000
US deaths so far this year due to heart disease148,898
US deaths so far this year due to influenza23,000
US deaths so far this year due to COVID-19685

Choose your own projection for COVID-19 deaths this year. The New York Times is guessing somewhere between 200,000 and 1.7 million. Of course, these are the people who guaranteed that Hillary Clinton would be elected president in 2016. And it doesn’t pass the test of reasonableness when viewed in the context of year-to-date COVID-19 deaths.

The question remains, is the cure worse than the disease? How many lives will be economically destroyed by a prolonged “shutdown” of virtually all commerce in the US and around the world? And how many deaths would result from that?

If there is bad intent behind the pandemic and government-induced economic disaster, who would benefit? All government leaders and their chosen workers would continue to be paid and gain authority and control. Hedge fund investors (can you say George Soros?) would make a killing as markets plunge.

Whenever government makes decisions for the masses, winners and losers are chosen. Which side would you land on?

Anybody who really wants to avoid death from lightning could move to the North Pole, where lightning never strikes. And if we really wanted to prevent deaths from COVID-19, we would identify who is the most vulnerable and put them in iron-clad quarantine, leaving the rest of us to live full lives, mindful of the many risks we face.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

It’s the end of the world as we know it
It’s the end of the world as we know it
It’s the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine

End of the World As We Know It – REM

Aussie Government’s Bush Fire Fiasco

I just returned from a bucket-list trip to Australia, during the height of the bush fire season, and found the bush was not the only thing burning. The left-leaning news media’s hair is ablaze as well.

TV news channels covered the fires 24/7 with only an occasional break to promote President Trump’s impeachment or to bash Aussie Prime Minister Scott Morrison for vacationing during the fire crisis. Government officials jostled for position in front of the cameras day and night next to the ubiquitous deaf interpreters signing feverishly (why weren’t they obsoleted with the advent of closed-captioning?).

Coverage of the brave firefighters and neighbors who gave their lives trying to save towns, farms and homes from the vicious fires, was absolutely in order. There are many heroes and much destruction. But the elite leftist globalists just could not pass up the opportunity to blast the “climate change” siren over the top.

The state of Victoria on the southeast corner of Australia was particularly hard hit, as was part of New South Wales south of Sydney. We traveled extensively through NSW and Queensland, the adjacent state to the north. While we saw some evidence of burned rural areas, we did not run into any live fires, large burnouts, or damage to buildings. The fire damage we saw actually looked pretty minimal – relatively small areas of grass and undergrowth burned, but with new green grass filling in; a few trees destroyed, but most only lightly charred at the bottoms with indications that the trees remained alive and healthy. And we saw abundant wildlife and birds.

While there was damage to animals, exaggeration was the order of the day in the news, with reports that “up to a billion animals have died“, conjuring up images of stacks of smoldering koalas and kangaroos. That number must include insects. We learned about some “koala hospitals” where people bring in the cute little critters who have been injured, but they care for dozens of animals, not thousands.

Driving through the small towns in the bush and talking to the locals was illustrative. One retired small business owner said, “This is nothing new, we have had drought in this area all my life.” He blamed “the government and the greenies” for policy changes over the last decade that prohibit preventative burning and the clearing of dead brush for the buildup of fuel that, once lit, is very hard to stay ahead of.

For example, one law mandates that for each tree removed from a yard, even dead ones, nine new trees must be planted. If you have a small yard that won’t accommodate nine trees, or if you have a lot of dead trees, forget it.

Piers Akerman, a member of the NSW Rural Fire Service for six decades, wrote a scathing editorial in the Sydney Telegraph, saying the effect of “climate change” on bush fires is so small as to be immeasurable, blaming instead the government red tape that consumes much of the time and money that could be applied to managing fires. According to Akerman, “we’ve had at least 57 inquiries into bushfires since 1939 and each one has highlighted the need to reduce the amount of fuel that naturally accumulates in the bush. That’s a fact.”

Akerman continued, “We know that Aboriginals burned this country for a number of reasons. Farmers used to use fire to preserve their properties and livestock, too, until the bureaucrats and activists got in the way.”

I talked to another fire official from NSW who confirmed Akerman’s observations, and met an American fire official on our flight back to the USA who had been flown to Australia with a large group at taxpayer expense to “fight the fires”. She sure didn’t look or sound like she had been battling any deathly out-of-control blazes. My guess is she was ornamental at best.

The bush fires of 2019-2020 and the persistent drought conditions in Australia are not to be taken lightly. Lives and property have been lost to the frighteningly virulent fires.

Fortunately, it rained much of the time we were there, and the fire threat was greatly reduced. One small town in the Blue Mountains was very worried about the lake that is the source of their public water, but it healed from 9% capacity to 29% almost overnight, a two-year supply. Flooding replaced fires as the main concern in some areas, and we saw rivers and lakes looking pretty healthy. The worst of the extended drought appears to be over.

Closer to home, our own Bureau of Land Management has been following similar fire protocols, as California has learned. It is only a matter of time before the dead undergrowth in the beetle-killed forests of Montana explode into a deadly fire on a scale that could dwarf the Aussie bush fires.

Tom Balek, Rockin’ On the Right Side

I am the god of hell fire and I bring you:
Fire, I’ll take you to burn.
Fire, I’ll take you to learn.
I’ll see you burn!

Fire! – The Crazy World of Arthur Brown

Bit O’ Honey Accountability

Seems like nobody is accountable for anything any more. Pundits and politicians throw accusations at each other all day, every day, claiming to have irrefutable proof of some dastardly crime but nothing ever seems to come from it. No perp walks, no convictions, no jail time. No accountability.

In a spirited debate at Politicon today, conservative pundit Sean Hannity went toe-to-toe with Clinton campaign heavyweight James Carville and seemed to be getting the upper hand. Hannity listed the crimes by Carville’s boss Hillary Clinton. Carville didn’t deny anything, but claimed that Trump would be impeached and lose the upcoming election. Hannity challenged Carville to name an impeachable crime. Carville couldn’t do it. But he topped Hannity by saying [paraphrased], “If the Republicans have all this proof of crimes by Democrats, why don’t they do anything about it? Why aren’t they in jail? You have the Department of Justice!” Boom.

Carville basically admitted that the Democrats have no fear of getting caught in criminal acts because the Republicans don’t have the guts to prosecute them. And he admitted that the Democrats will throw all kinds of baseless accusations at the Republicans because they know they will never have to prove them. No accountability.

In real life, unlike in political bizarro-world, there actually is accountability. I have twin 9-year old grandkids and I even require accountability from them.

They were in my office a couple years ago and discovered my stash of Bit O’ Honey candies. They politely asked if they could have a couple the first time and maybe the second. But then I noticed over time my stash was getting hit pretty hard. And it couldn’t be mice, because they are stored in a glass jar.

So I created an “inventory control” system, by which either of the twins could appropriate up to two Bit O’ Honeys any day without asking, but only if they sign and date each withdrawal on a count sheet and calculate the remaining inventory. Of course I have to account for any Bit O’ Honey withdrawals I make too, and so does Grammy. So the twins know if there are any discrepancies in the Bit O’ Honey inventory, Grandpa knows who is accountable!

I wish Hillary had been raised to be accountable. She would never have deleted 30,000 or more emails, and smashed her cell phones, after they had been subpoenaed by the FBI. The media and the FBI aren’t being held accountable for letting Hillary get away with it. And the DOJ isn’t being held accountable for letting the FBI get away with letting Hillary get away with it. And the President isn’t being held accountable for letting the DOJ get away with letting the FBI get away with letting Hillary get away with it.

Just between you and me, a little grandfatherly advice – never trust a Democrat with your Bit O’ Honeys!

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Sugar, ah honey honey!
You are my candy girl,
And you’ve got me wanting you!

Sugar Sugar – the Archies

Entitlements In the Neighborhood

So I’m surfing through the neighborhood social media, and yet another thread is filling up about a locally owned bar/restaurant that has failed shortly after opening.

It saddened me for a number of reasons. I have been a small business owner, and I know the financial risk and hard work that a family takes on when opening a new venture, and how heartbreaking it must be to fail. This club was one that employed local musicians, which also hits home with me. A small business closure impacts many people – employees, vendors, neighbors and customers.

The bar/restaurant business is a tough gig. If the owner (or an extraordinary manager) is not on the premises at all times, profit seems to bleed out of the windows and doors. Bartenders “take care” of their friends, or pocket cash before it gets to the till. Finding and training good servers and cooks takes a lot of time and effort. The bad ones either don’t show up or kill your business when they do, and too often the good ones are lured away by a competitor for a few more bucks.

Stick with me, I’ll get to the entitlement part in a minute.

Some business owners shouldn’t be. While they may have a great talent and passion for a particular product or service, if they don’t understand the important basics of business – accounting, cash flow, managing employees, marketing and market differentiation, inventory control – they are unlikely to survive. Making the best cheesesteak sandwich in the world is one thing; making a profit is another.

Every day in the neighborhood social media, which is a pretty good indicator of the attitudes of the proletariat, I see a lot of whining about businesses, especially restaurants. “Why doesn’t somebody open a [insert name] restaurant here?” “I went to the new local bar but I didn’t like their nachos.” “The new sushi place is too expensive.” “I have to drive to the city to get a gourmet dinner.” Many of the folks in my neighborhood seem to think life owes them a world-class restaurant, on the corner of their block, that charges McDonald’s prices, pays its employees $50 an hour, and contributes to their favorite local charity.

The ability for customers to review businesses online is empowering. And dangerous. It feeds the expanding sense of entitlement that we see every day, fueled by the “free everything” political platform of the Democrats.

It’s getting harder every day to operate a small business. It’s do-able, but not for the faint-of-heart or one lacking serious business chops. Because of social media, all it takes is a couple of one-time correctable flubs, a dishonest customer or competitor, or a disgruntled employee to do serious damage to a business. Add to that high taxes and insensitive government decisions such as lengthy street closings for repairs and arbitrary zoning decisions. As a result, locally-owned businesses disappear as we see signs for the same national brands popping up in every neighborhood.

All we Americans are entitled to is life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Despite the empty promises of Democrats, we are not entitled to total happiness and security. We are not entitled to free health care, free college, forgiveness of debt or guaranteed wages.

Supply and demand works. Many of my neighbors are all about demand, and never stop to consider how supply happens.

Stop whining, people.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

You made me promises promises
Knowing I’d believe
Promises promises
You knew you’d never keep

Promises Promises – Naked Eyes

The HR Dept. – How Socialism Kills Economic Progress

A common-sense principle of business is that managers must have the authority to hire and fire at will. After all, the very reason for a business to exist is to generate a profit for the owners and investors. So managers will compete for the best employees to maximize returns, just as they compete for customers by trying to provide the best product or service at the best price. The companies who hire and retain the best people will thrive, while the others will fade away.

HR (human resources) departments are poison to profit.

A product of the civil rights movement in 1965, the federal government created the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to eliminate hiring discrimination on the basis of race, creed, color or national origin. Every company that does business with the federal government and has 50 or more employees must implement and document an “affirmative action program”.

The EEO/AAP was, and is, a typical big government solution to a problem that should be solved by free market supply and demand. It established rigid quotas based on race, which was then expanded to protect women and the disabled. Soon every minority group, including the evolving alphabet-soup of genders, was lawyering up.

Faced with a mountain of reporting requirements and legal complications, businesses responded by creating and staffing HR departments, a phenomenon that may have done more damage to the economy than any other factor since the depression.

While a manager or owner will make every effort to find the most talented, qualified, and industrious people to fill positions, and reward them well with promotions and compensation, HR departments exist only to meet “diversity” requirements. The result is companies are staffed with many unqualified, unmotivated, and sometimes underpaid minorities (often H1B visa holders) who know they can’t be fired. The “Peter Principle” (individuals are promoted beyond their level of competence) is rampant in many large organizations.

Managers who try to hire or promote talented non-minority employees are stymied by HR. Add the influence of union protection (i.e. government employees), and performance predictably suffers.

Despite 53 years of EEO/AAP and all kinds of other identity-driven programs, liberal politicians still pander for votes by screaming “RAAAAACIST!” at common-sense conservative opponents, who know that for-profit businesses will hire and promote the best people regardless of minority status, which encourages all workers to improve their performance (not their pigmentation or gender) and compete for the best jobs. And that propels the economy and raises standards of living for everybody.

You got me runnin’ goin’ out of my mind
You got me thinkin’ that I’m wastin’ my time
(Don’t bring me down, no no no no no)
I’ll tell you once more before I get off the floor
(Don’t bring me down)

Don’t Bring Me Down – Electric Light Orchestra

‘Til “Glacier” Freezes Over

A few years ago, before we left our home state of Montana to move to the sunny South, we decided to make one last visit to Glacier National Park.

“Glacier” as Big Sky natives lovingly call it, is the best Montana has to offer. Yellowstone is nice, but touristy and crowded – I look for Yogi and Boo Boo behind every tree, and it seems the feds have something annoyingly “governmental” pounded into every rock. While Glacier has become more commercialized and politically correct than it was in the good old days, it still is somewhat pristine and remains one of the most beautiful spots in the Rocky Mountains.

We visited Glacier in late June, before all the snow was gone for the summer, but after the Going to the Sun Road was opened up, which was early that year (as of today, 6/20/19, half of the road is still not plowed out). We did not want to miss that spectacular drive from West Glacier to St. Mary on what might be our last visit to Glacier.

We arrived at the St. Mary Lodge and did the tour through the grand old main lodge building, enjoying the history of the place and the high mountain ambience.

George Bird Grinnell, a New Yorker, naturalist and western conservationist, pushed for a national park designation which was signed by President Taft in 1910. Glacier National Park was first “civilized” as part of the westward push of the Great Northern Railway across the northern United States and much of the infrastructure was funded, engineered and built by the railroad under James Hill, who saw a tourism profit opportunity . Most of that privately built infrastructure, including hotels and lodges, trails, tracks, tunnels and roads remains in use today and has held up remarkably well.

And this is key. It was not government influence and “protection” of natural resources that made Glacier National Park and other treasures of the American West great; rather, it was private entrepreneurial drive and inspiration.

Salamander Glacier reflects into the blue water of Swiftcurrent Lake.
photo courtesy MyItchyTravelFeet.com

After hanging out at the lodge for a while, we decided to hike the Grinnell Glacier Trail that goes past Swiftcurrent Lake and provides a good view of Salamander Glacier. We could not help but notice the grizzly bear warning signs, and having grown up in bear country south of Glacier, I took them seriously. With so many tourists around it was more likely we would see black bear rather than big grizzers. And we actually did see several black bear.

At the trailhead near the lodge there was a big sign explaining how, because of man-caused Global Warming, the glaciers, including Grinnell, were melting fast and would likely be gone by the year 2020. I admit, as native Montanans, we were temporarily taken aback by this “official” government proclamation, until my conservative skepticism kicked back in. This same propaganda was all over the lodge in brochure racks and informational displays. In 2012 National Geographic produced this work of fiction, (note the obligatory slow, sad PBS victim-style piano music):

Last week it was revealed that the National Park Service was quietly removing all the Global Warming propaganda at Glacier National Park because it has become evident that the glaciers have been growing for some time. Oops. Another embarrassing example of leftists abusing science for political leverage.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

See people rocking — Hear people chanting — Feeling hot hot hot
Keep up this spirit — Come on let’s do it
— Feeling hot hot hot

Hot Hot Hot – Buster Poindexter

Sorry, Dan Rather. Dionne Warwick is Not A Victim.

You might remember Dan Rather, the veteran CBS News anchor and 60 Minutes reporter who was fired in disgrace in 2015 in the first big “fake news” scandal. A devoted Democrat, Rather was caught reporting a fabricated story about President GW Bush’s military service.

Rather went into hiding for a while, but reappeared some years later, doing low-budget work for cable news and entertainment channel AXS, which later dropped out of the news business and now focuses exclusively on music shows. He still works for AXS as the host of “The Big Interview With Dan Rather”, a series of face-to-face talks with popular musicians and entertainers. Rather is not stupid; he knows that nobody will tune in to see him, but if he brings Keith Urban along, he can still score a paycheck.

Like all devout Democrats, Dan Rather is a soft-racist who believes that anyone whose skin is darker than his must be a victim of incessant American injustice, deserving of pity. This makes many of his interviews almost painful to watch. His subjects are individuals who have, through talent and hard work, built extraordinary success. But Rather thinks his main responsibility is assessing the depth of their victimhood status.

“American Idol” milks the same Democrat format. On this show, two contests run concurrently: who is the best singer, and who is the most pitiful? So far this season, contestants include a homeless guy, a kid with cystic fibrosis, a blind girl, an immigrant, and a poor kid from the rural South. Last season a drag queen transgendered contestant made the finals. The cool thing is these people have extraordinary talent and worked hard to develop their skills. The icky thing is the way the network overplays their “victimhood”.

A while back Dan Rather interviewed Dionne Warwick, the beloved and award-winning diva, and it wasn’t long before he turned to his stock-in-trade line of questioning. “You, as an African-American and a woman, had to struggle through those tough categories over your career. What about that?”

Warwick didn’t bat an eye. “I didn’t see any of that,” she replied. She explained that she was never a victim of discrimination on either count. “I don’t believe in negatives,” she continued. “I never felt any of that pressure. If I did, I guess I ignored it.”

Dionne Warwick credits God and songwriters Hal David and Burt Bacharach for her success. Over her career Warwick had 80 singles on the Billboard charts.

Dan Rather pressed on, struggling to make her story one of overcoming racism and sexism and this-ism and that-ism. You know, the Democrat way.

He wanted to know how she coped with all the death in her life. Her brother died in a crash while racing the car she had bought him when she was 26. “At first I felt guilty,” she said. “But then I decided he was an adult and he knew right from wrong.” Her parents had both died within the last ten years or so – Warwick didn’t accept any victimhood on those grounds, either. She was, after all, 75 years old at the time of the interview.

Unrelenting, Rather demanded to know how devastated she was when her superstar cousin, Whitney Houston, died young under grim circumstances including drug use. “Was Whitney Houston a victim of fame?” Rather prodded.

“No,” said the adult in the room, Dionne Warwick. “She was a victim of bad choices.”

Rather wanted so badly to make Dionne Warwick into a victim of some kind. “Don’t make me over,” was her unstated, but clear response.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Accept me for what I am
Accept me for the things I do
Accept me for what I am
Accept me for the things I do

Don't Make Me Over - Dionne Warwick