Monday, August 15, 2016

Larry "Fact Checker" Jacobs

Larry “Fact Checker” Jacobs challenged as my opinion studies by the Congressional Research Service and The Wall Street Journal reporting that “(At) an annual average rate of 2.1% growth since the end of the recession, (this is) the weakest pace of any expansion since at least 1949.” (

Forbes Magazine noted the same earlier (8/1/12), as had Investor’s Business Daily (12/31/15).

Mr. Jacobs, the Washington Times agrees with you that the stock market has done very well, although: “The stock market closed down for 2015 reversing one of the few positive accomplishments under the Barack Obama presidency. This has been a pretty prosperous time for the top two percent. For most Americans though — not so much.

"A new report from Sentier Research based on Census data finds that median household income of $56,700 at the end of 2015 stood exactly where it was adjusted for inflation at the end of 2007.”

“Our middle class is shrinking. Our poor families are becoming poorer, and 70 percent of us are earning the same or less than we were 12 years ago. We need new leadership.” Former Democrat governor Martin O’Malley.

Concerning the administration’s happy talk about unemployment: “What they forgot to tell you is that statistic doesn’t include those people who have given up looking for work, those people who are working part time. Add it all together and real unemployment is over 10 percent.” Senator Bernie Sanders.

Based on the Obama administration’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Democrat economic advisor and fund raiser Leo Hindery says the real unemployment rate in America is 12.1 percent.

Mr. Jacobs, your fact checking remains abominable (ICO 4/25/14), when you claimed a marijuana plant used less than a gallon of water/day, when experts agreed they consume 6 to 15 gallons/day.

You still can’t hold water.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Unscientific Educator

This is a letter I repeatedly sent to the ICO in response to a letter rebutting one of mine. The ICO will not publish my rebuttal, effectively leaving the issue in favor of their position:

The letter from Dr. Jeanine Pfeiffer (ICO 12/18/15), impressed me by its misinformation, disinformation, and obvious activism. In particular, where are the studies supporting her statement that GM-crops are responsible for food insecurity for millions of farming families? In Africa, where GM is almost totally banned? In India, where cotton is the only GM crop?
Dr. Pfeiffer, you wrote: “Agricultural policies relying solely on (GMO) … cause early deaths throughout the world.” Where? I found no studies indicating that GMO reliance on off-farm inputs caused unprecedented levels of farmer debt and suicide. Not in Africa, North or South America, Australia, or Europe. How about India, where only GM-cotton is planted? The evidence of Indian GM-caused farmer suicides is anecdotal, but studies show no correlation. India has had and continues to have a high suicide rate, but farmer suicides now are the same as prior to the introduction of GM-cotton. Scientific American finds the GMO-farmer suicide claim is false. (

India has made great progress and rapid changes in agriculture (, but necessary future progress will require GMO technology. 

Dr. Pfeiffer and others suffer from “Romantic Populism,” the opposition to large commercial farming, agricultural technology, and American oil production.
They create and disseminate myths about indigenous farmers and GMO, while supporting ethanol and biofuels abominations. They fail to recognize that increased agricultural productivity, even on small farms, came from chemical fertilizers, irrigation, and hybrid seeds. (

Following my last letter, the ICO Editor commented that Trump’s ban would be based on religion, not ideology. The ICO Editor is obviously unaware of the Hudson Institute’s Current Trends in Islamist Ideology, Volumes 1-19, ( and frequent use in NY Times articles. (

GMOs use less water, land, fertilizer, herbicides, pesticides, and plowing while increasing productivity. Now that’s truly “green.”

Monday, December 21, 2015

Christmas 2015

This year we celebrate the travels that were, and reminisce about the travels that weren’t. The highlight was our voyage into the Arctic Circle in June and July. After Antarctica in 2014, the Arctic wouldn’t wait. We began with a week in an Oslo apartment on the bay, then flew to Longyearbyen on Svalbard in the Arctic Circle to board the National Geographic Explorer. Our ship was the same as our Antarctic trip, but we were in cabin 202 instead of 204. Many of the staff and crew were also on the Antarctic trip, and they were a pleasure to journey with again.

As on the Antarctic trip, we were inundated by human-caused climate change propaganda, and I pushed back hard with facts about millions of years of natural climate change, of much greater warming and higher sea levels. I put together a Power Point presentation and got scheduled with the staff to present it, but then I was cancelled and rescheduled to a time in competition with other activities.

We only saw a couple of polar bears. We expected to see more, but the East Greenland sea ice was much thicker than Lindblad/National Geographic anticipated (global warming was on holiday), so we eventually were refunded $4,000 for the disappointment. I had studied polar bear survival and found that it was lowest when there was thick spring sea ice, and not when spring sea ice was thin, because polar bears need to gorge on young seals during the spring and thick sea ice is bad for seal survival. Polar bears get over 2/3 of their annual nutrition in 1/3 of the year, and the rest of the time get by on scavenging, goose eggs, small animals, and whatever else they find.

Attracted to the ship by our breakfast bacon odor

They seemed to like our company

Reindeer on Svalbard

Colorful Puffin on Iceland

Hiking on Iceland

Alice is making very good progress on her memoir, The Lady with Balls, and has finished 200 of a planned 320 pages. She works on her writing tirelessly, and never hits a “writer’s block.” She decided when she began writing her memoir that it was her job, and she does not allow herself much time off. I enjoy getting the first pass at editing it, and her story is so interesting that I get too involved and need to make a second reading to catch what I missed the first time through. After I take my turn, Alice works with other editors to ensure that clarity and good pacing.

Just over a year ago we (90% Alice) bought a nearby house for rental income. Our first tenants were a young couple with a child; within three months they informed us that their bank account was frozen by the government and that they could not pay the rent and were moving out. We did a home inspection while they were moving out when they weren’t home and found an extensive system for growing pot in the downstairs workroom and garage which had not been set up yet. The young man was abandoned by his wife, and became very lethargic about completing moving out. We already had found a very good tenant ready to move in, and we despaired of getting the old tenant out, so we hired some local handymen to remove all his things and put them in our big metal barn, including the pot growing devices. We gave the young man a night in a Gualala motel, and when he told me that he had no money and would sell all his stuff to me for $300 cash, I paid him on the spot.

Is anyone in the market for pot growing paraphernalia?
I organized a Point Arena High reunion in August covering my class of 1960 and classes from the beginning of time (1950) to 1970, which was a lot of fun. My regret was that many of my closest friends from our school days had other commitments and couldn’t attend. I’m begging Alice to let me do another in two years instead of five so that I can concentrate on getting all of my close friends there. She thinks I’m crazy, but I really enjoy the planning and organizing, and then seeing everyone.

Just over two months ago we went to Van Nuys in southern California for Alice’s 55th Reseda (Tarzana) high school reunion, the first stop in a month-long trip/cruise that was to begin in Turkey, visit Israel, Malta, Sicily, and end with nine nights in Rome. As Alice and I were dancing very energetically at her reunion, I felt and heard a “pop” that I soon found was from my totally ruptured right Achilles tendon. We had to cancel the entire trip and I needed an operation to reattach my tendon. I hobbled around with a cast and crutches for six weeks, and now have an enormous walking boot. It isn’t bad, though. I can play ball with Radar every day at the beach now, and drive again.

Next year Cuba? Alice gets to choose. Then I’ll probably choose a whale-watching cruise to Baja for 2017.

Weather report: it’s a rainy day on the coast, with over four inches of rain since yesterday morning, and we haven’t even reached the expected El Nino storms due in January and February. Soon all the drought gloom and doom will be replaced by flood and mudslide gripes.

Everything old is new again, and at age 73 Alice and I have seen and heard a lot. And we just told you a lot of what we saw and heard this year.

Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah, and the Best of New Years.

Michael, Alice, and our sweet little Radar

Radar playing ball on Cook's Beach

Sunday, February 01, 2015

The Stupid Bowl

I haven’t written about dumb professional football coaches and players for awhile, not because of a shortage of stupidity, but because there is so much of it. As a 49er fan since 1954, I’ve seen a lot of the good, and more and more lately, the bad. The 49er owners and coaches were miserable in the 1970’s, then for the most part were great under Eddie DeBartolo and Bill Walsh. What was Eddie’s claim to smarts? He  hired Bill Walsh, then let him run the team. And what about Bill Walsh? The only really dumb thing he did was retire too soon.

But then Eddie used unbelievably poor judgment and had to step down as owner, and the bad decisions rained down. A good coach like Steve Mariucci was fired, and Jeff Garcia, who was a worthy successor to Montana and Young, was let go along with the receiver he made great, Terrell Owens. Now the Niners have dumped Jim Harbaugh, continuing their tradition of abhorrent front office management.

Harbaugh, of course, did his share of stupid things. In the Super Bowl against the Ravens, with one of the league’s best running backs, Frank Gore, and its best running quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, the 49ers threw the same incomplete pass three times from the Raven’s six yard line. Faced with similar circumstance in the NFC title game against the Seahawks the following year, Kaepernick threw the same pass, this time for an interception.

Which brings me to tonight’s Super Bowl, or as it should forever be known, the Stupid Bowl. With the ball on the Patriot’s one yard line, and with the NFL’s best short-yardage running back, Marshawn Lynch, and second-best running quarterback, Russell Wilson, the Seahawk brain trust had Wilson throw an interception.

The incredible irony of this is that if the situation was reversed, Tom Brady would have scored on a quarterback sneak.

The Patriots did dumb things too. Russell Wilson looked like a deer in the headlights frequently when he dropped back to pass, but I don’t think the Patriot defensive players ever saw a bull fight or Judo. Like a bull charging the matador’s cape, a Patriot defender would rush at high speed directly at Wilson, who easily sidestepped and then became very dangerous as a passer or a runner.

However, giving credit where credit is due, both offenses did a good job of clock management, unlike most of the 49er games this year. When the 49ers were not earning delay-of-game penalties, or wasting time outs avoiding having them called, they were running out of bounds when they should have stayed in and kept the clock running, or vice versa.

And for the league as a whole, there are all the stupid taunting and excessive celebration penalties that give away or take away first downs, or screw up field position. If I were a coach, I would give offenders “time outs” and fine them for wasting teammates’ efforts and hurting the team by undisciplined and selfish actions.

But after today I’m left asking: “What are they paying these guys for?”

Monday, December 22, 2014

Our 2014 Christmas Letter

Not long after Alice and I wed twenty-five years ago we made an agreement that we would live to be 110. With the way life has been going for us, we may have to add some more years to our agreement. As we age, our enjoyment of life and its experiences just keeps growing, our interests expand, and we want to as much of the future as we can to see how it all works out.

A park near our apartment. One of over 600 in Buenos Aires
(please click on each photo to enlarge it)

In February and March we went to Antarctica, but first spent a week in Buenos Aires in an apartment in the Palermo district. We took a city bus to the funky part of town, La Boca, but since our apartment was very centrally located and was walking distance to many interesting sights and parks, we walked all over the place. At the end of the week we joined our Lindblad/National Geographic Antarctic expedition group, and they took us to La Boca again and to other Buenos Aires sights, like the Casa Rosada - in my mind's eye I could see and hear Evita on the balcony signing for Argentina to not cry for her - and then we went to her grave.

Tango in La Boca
Maradona (soccer star), Evita, and a Tango singer in La Boca
The La Boca locals
Alice admires La Casa Rosada

Then it was time to board our flight to the end of the world, Ushuaia (hard to spell, even harder to pronounce), to board our ship, the National Geographic Explorer, and disembark across Drake's Passage to Antarctica with 146 other adventurous and hardy souls, and a willing crew plus a small army of very able naturalists. I was delighted that they, and some special guests on the voyage were all adherents to the National Geographic man-caused global warming religion, so I did not have to look far to find a discussion/argument.

On Antarctica!

The highlight guest was James Balog, whose film "Chasing Ice" was shown many times during our voyage. It's basically almost an hour of filming the Jakobshaven glacier in Greenland calving spectacularly. Very interesting, except Balog portrays it as due to man-caused global warming, and never mentions that this glacier retreated much farther before 1900 than after, which is known as lying by omission.

The stylish couple in Antarctica

The ice, the sea and land creatures, their unbelievable abundance, exceeded expectations. Besides Antarctica we enjoyed visiting South Georgia Island and the Falklands.

One of many humpbacks cruising by

A fur seal playing with fish-eating killer whales (the seal hopes!)

Alice admires elephant seals on South Georgia Island

There are about 300,000 King penguins in this colony

The drama of the ice

Palmer Station, Antarctica, showing direction to Point Arena 
(Chile, not California, darn it!)

On the Falklands, a rock hopper penguin with attitude

Alice indulged my climate change passion and we attended the International Conference on Climate Change at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. The speakers and presentations were so good that Alice enjoyed it too, and we had a fun dinner with eldest son Bruce, his wife Lisa, granddaughter Leaha, and Lisa's children.

In July we again attended the Mendocino Writers Conference in Fort Bragg. It was enjoyable and productive for both of us, and contributed to the best news for us this year: Alice has completed the first hundred pages of her memoir "The Lady with Balls", which was what the Bay Area Italian garbagemen called her as she struggled to establish her (now) very successful business, Vulcan Incorporated. Alice treats writing like a very demanding job, and schedules her time accordingly. Her hard work and diligence shows in her work, and I would write more about her memoir but as Alice advises, "buy my book." I don't think you will have to wait until 2016 to do that.

I surprised and shocked myself by appearing in "Jekyll & Hyde, The Musical." Since I only sang briefly (and unplanned) in public once before, and my acting career ended on the Point Arena High School stage in 1960, this was a new and challenging experience that took a lot of time and work beginning with auditions in May and ending with six performances in November. I had a character part, the sex driven, pompous, arrogant Bishop of Basingstoke, and also doubled as a stablehand/brothel patron. As Bishop, I was Hyde's first murder victim and closed the first act lying dead onstage. I then helped open the second act as the stablehand lamenting the Bishop's death, and then quickly four more as Hyde warmed up to extracting vengeance on hypocrites. It was a wonderful experience, made special by the very friendly and supporting cast and crew. I hope doing other shows is in my future.

We have several things planned for next year already. In February Alice will have a new left knee to match her right one (replaced two years ago). She will have time to be fully recovered when we set out in June for an Arctic adventure - Norway, Greenland, and Iceland - on the same ship and in the cabin next to the one we had for Antarctica. Then on August 24, 2015 (Monday) we will have a Point Arena High School reunion. I promised to do at our 2010 reunion, and it will happen (I hope).

Then we will join Alice's Reseda High School reunion group in October which will include a Mediterranean cruise beginning in Istanbul and ending in Rome.

As time permits we will also be attentive to our wonderful little dog Radar, working to improve his training and manners, which sometimes have slipped.

Radar at play

Alice and I wish everyone a Merry Christmas, a Happy Chanukah, and the best of New Years.