Posted by: bkivey | 29 November 2021


“A child is born

WIth no state of mind

Blind to the ways of Mankind”

“The Message”

Grand Master Flash and the Furious Five Sugar Hill Records 1982

Ah, the old tabula rosa. I never gave this much credibility, because other life is born with a pretty good idea what to do (we call them instincts). No reason humans should be different, although a human infant is about the weakest, most defenseless, thing around, and that is referenced in the song. I think it’s fair to say that human’s have some pre-conceived notion of how the world is supposed work, informed by evolution, and, I dare say, inherent knowledge gained from previous species experience.

So humans are all pretty much the same products of evolution: pride and prejudice, and a focus on self before others. Nothing wrong, there. It’s how life acts. You can’t make an impact if you’re not around. But making self known requires initiative and opportunity.

In much of the Western world, societal opportunity is there. A rational person, divested of historical baggage, would see that one can make their own way, independent of third parties. Although opportunities have narrowed, the prospect of upward mobility still exists. You just have to recognize, prioritize, and actualize. Figure out what you are good at, and do that. If all you are good at is throwing public temper tantrums; re-evaluate. In that case, it is unlikely your worldview is consistent with the Universe.

But that requires motivation. I would argue that the difference between ‘mediocre’, and ‘exceptional’, is the difference in motivation: external, or internal. In business school, this is Theory X and Theory Y. And like everything else, there is no hard division between the two, but results are strikingly different.

Seeing Half the Picture

Just Making It Up

Carnot and Economic Mobility

Posted by: bkivey | 25 November 2021

Paul Eric Ivey

My brother is 57 today.

Happy Birthday!

Posted by: bkivey | 9 November 2021

Wikipedia 20th Birthday

I was invited to Wikipedia’s 20th birthday party, commencing at 1800 local on 9 November. Here is that story.

Logged in on Zoom.

First up: Adam Conover. Not a Wikipedian, but apparently employed as MC. He gives the intro in what looks like a hotel room.

Next is Dr. Chris Albon, Director of Machine Learning for Wikimedia Foundation, live from San Francisco. Dr. Albon gives an overview of what his staff’s work entails, but obvious that public speaking isn’t the gentleman’s forte.

Back to Adam.

Dress code for the soiree is ‘casual’.

Adam throws out a trivia question for the audience (No cheating!): “At what age did Tony Hawk decide to go pro?” Choices were 9/14/16/18. I guessed ’14’. I was right! Along with 43% of respondents. Interesting that the response graph roughly approximated the normal curve, with responses centered around ’14’. The correct answers were thrown into a hat for a Tony Hawk autographed skateboard. Next was a short clip of Tony Hawk in front of what looked like a mondo halfpipe commenting on Wikipedia. No skateboard action, though. What?!

Next, Lisa Gruell, Chief Advancement Officer from the Wikimedia San Francisco office. She introduces Wikipedia’s incoming CEO, Maryan Iskander. Ms. Iskander has a resume as long as your arm, and gave a few words of welcome and thanks.

Back to Lisa.

Then to Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales and comedian/TV host Ophiria Eisenberg. For this segment, and most following, the guests are superimposed with bad video on a cartoon background. Jimmy Wales hair kept going in and out. The animation was worse than Max Headroom. Not sure why this creative choice was made, unless to drive home the point that Wikipedia doesn’t spend a dollar more than necessary, and maybe, not even then.

Jimmy asked Ophelia some trivia questions, and Mr. Wales took the opportunity to tell the audience that he was really good at trivia. Do tell.

Newest Wikipedia language: Amis and Paiuman; languages native to Taiwan.

Seven of the top twenty articles for 2020 were related to COVID-19, with 225 million page views.

English has the most articles on Wikipedia, with some 57 million.

Wales askes Ophelia the last thing she looked up on Wikipedia. She had looked up the origin of the city name for Vancouver, BC. When the question was turned around, Wales gave a work-related answer.

Then Jimmy and Ophelia traded conversation on site neutrality (as pertains to articles), and how to maintain that with a largely volunteer workforce. Soon after, ‘woke’ topics surfaced. Retreat of Anglo Male influence on society.. Gender equity and inclusion. The authoritative ‘White Male’ article style. The institution of a Universal Code of Conduct at Wikimedia. You know, what used to be called, an ‘adult’. In fairness, both hosts seemed as if they were talking about these things as more political cover, than anything they were really passionate about.

Then to Sheyna Daniels, Lead Major Gifts Manager, live from San Francisco. She throws up a PowerPoint slide of the top donors. The event was also a fund-raiser, and fair enough, it was mentioned in the invitation.

And on to Lodewijk Gelauff, the 2021 Wikimedian of the Year. Mr. Gelauff films his segment in front of the Teapot Dome service station in Zellah, WA. I recognized the location, because I was there two years ago. Mr. Gelauff talks about editing on the site.

Back to Adam reading off donors and amounts. Most around $100 USD.

Then a series of clips from Wikipedia staff and volunteers around the world thanking the donors. Jimmy Wales watching on a small screen to the right.

The last ten minutes were given to Q & A directed to Mr. Wales.

“Do you get pressure to change or modify information from government or other entities?”

“Yes. But we don’t” (Actual answer longer).

“How do you prevent articles from being taken over by biased authors?”

“People of good faith believing in the right thing to do”. This seems to be Mr. Wales guiding philosophy.

Caitlin Virtue, Senior Development Director, from Pittsburgh, PA, gave the closing remarks.

The Tony Hawk board was won by a $5000 donor from California. They could not announce the name on-air, because of privacy concerns,

And no one wore a mask.

Posted by: bkivey | 1 November 2021

Used Car

“Hmmm, Honey, the car doesn’t seem to have the same power it used to.”

“I don’t know. It still seems to run all right.”

“Yeah, but it feels sluggish. Maybe we should go see the mechanic.”

“Won’t that be expensive?”

“I’ll pay for the inspection, and then we can talk about it.”

“OK. but we need the car.”

[pops hood}

“Well, there’s you’re problem. You’ve got Government all up under the hood and in the engine. Whooh-ee! That’s about as bad as I’ve seen!”

“What can we do?”

“Thought about a new car?”

Posted by: bkivey | 4 October 2021

Movie Review: ‘The Harder They Come’

I bought some movies from the Big A, and have been taking a look. One purchase was a format change for an owned movie. Of the remainder, one I’d never heard of, and the rest I knew by name, but had not seen. The purchase was motivated by a list of outstanding movie soundtracks, and curiously, hard to find on the Listverse site where it originated. I bought four of the ten, and the first is “The Harder They Come” (Perry Henzell 1972).

A Jimmy Cliff vehicle, I’ve had the soundtrack album for some 30 years: it is great. The movie is the right length, just over 90 minutes, and moves along. In fact, this movie may have benefitted from an expanded run time; there are some places where some exposition/development would be helpful. The film follows a young musician going to the city to make it, falling in with criminal elements, cutting a record, killing three cops, and dying in a confrontation with police. It’s not a happy movie.

The cinematography is standard late 60’s/early 70’s. The direction is good enough to stand out in places, especially the choice of camera angles and scene focus. The plot feels like the writer got halfway in, and then had to figure a quick way out of the story. The second half feels rushed, and a little disconnected: in that respect, not unlike a William Gibson novel. The editing is choppy. It seems like a better movie was left on the cutting room floor.

None of the acting feels forced, so points there. You feel like you are in the poorer sections of Kingston, 1972. There is an option for American English subtitles on the DVD and, unless your ear is tuned to the Jamaican dialect of English, you will need it. Otherwise, entire scenes are incomprehensible. Every other movie I’ve seen set in Jamaica has the accent, but not the actual language. More of an American English take. This movie makes no such compromise. I like films with original language, but helps if it is translatable. Opera became more interesting when subtitles became available. World art is cool, but only if accessible.

This is an entertaining movie, and clocks a reasonable ~90 minutes. The soundtrack is the main draw, and the movie more-or-less follows it, although some sections feel disjointed. Worth a look.

3 Spliffs out of 5

Posted by: bkivey | 27 September 2021

Media Day

I see that Google’s home page announces their 23rd anniversary today. In a not-too-curious bit of numerology, my birthday is 23 September. That’s, like, only 3 days ago! I did notice that Google stopped wishing me Happy Birthday by name a few years ago. That was just creepy (or very Chinese).

The motivation here is that I’ve heard some radio spots for a couple of years, that have me a bit baffled/amused. Without ranking:

Save The Food

This campaign appears to have been on-air since 2016, and has a guy with British accent imploring people not to waste food. There is a website, but I couldn’t find an easily accessible audio clip. According to the spot and the site, 40% of food in America is wasted. This seems high, to me. The waste examples on the site appear to be mostly out-of-date food getting tossed, and reasonable enough. I don’t always eat everything before it goes bad, or I’m afraid to eat it. The spot tagline is “Eat it, Store it, Save it, but don’t Waste it (maybe a paraphrase, but very close). The site and the spot claim that wasted food costs the American family $1500/year. What?! I understand that not every last crumb will be crunched, but that seems a lot. And, what is ‘waste’? There is a woods backing up to the house, so any organics get tossed out back. Something will eat it.

The intent seems to be reducing the overproduction of food when cooking; or making people aware of what they actually need. It’s a lot to get into 30 seconds, but a bit curious in the execution.

Discover The Forest

Apparently on-air since 2009, this effort by the Ad Council and the USDA Forest Service have been encouraging people to Get Out There! This gives me a slight pause in the Pacific Northwest, because there is a lot of forest around. Like, right out the back door, in my case. In any case, one can literally walk to some forest from anywhere in the Portland metro area. More convenient to take transit, though. My home county of Washington has miles of linear park following power lines, and while not forest, it’s still Nature. I understand the encouragement, but it just seems slightly Coals-To-Newcastle.

Relief Factor

Whatever the merits of the product, Dr Sebastion Gorka gives the radio spot his own stamp. Again, not easy to find audio, but all I can say is: “Designed to heal!”

Posted by: bkivey | 26 September 2021

Vacation 2021

Regular readers know that I take vacation during my birthday week toward the end of September. Something to look forward to, and a chance to wind down in a busy year. Past vacations have included excursions to far places, but this year, a bit of a change. l just wanted a few days of no-commitment, no-obligation, so I shoved the usual emails and VM’s and texts to the end of the week. A few days where the biggest decision was what time to get out of bed. Still had to convince myself that nothing had to be done before next week.

20 September

Slept for some time. Puttered around the house.

21 September

Car Day! Smogged a company vehicle. Fixed the lighter socket on the Mercury; replaced a taillight and driving light on the Mazda. I have had an unreasonably difficult time sourcing a repair manual for the Mazda. All work on the car has been based on experience with other cars. Not ideal, but good enough, so far. Finding a manual is moving to the top of the list, because I’d like to put a turbo on it.

22 September

I am a cat. Slept late. Forecast called for rain: not the case. Oh, well. Wrote some. Didn’t have to go to work!

23 September

My birthday! And a great Northwest day! Clear and mid-80’s. My plan for the day? Uh, sort stuff on the lower porch and in the hobby area. Middle-age, baby. All those things you’re ‘too tired’ to do after work? This week.

24 September

Another great Northwest day, and by the looks of the forecast, quite possibly one of the last good days this year. You just know I had to drive somewhere. I decided to lunch in Netarts, as one does. James, bring the Mazda ’round.

The idea was to take US 26W to Timber Road, then turn left and enjoy the highway until OR 6, and thence to Tillamook and the coast. I have made this drive a few times, but somehow zigged when I should have zagged, and ended up on logging roads in the literal middle of nowhere, if the map was right. Halfway between US 26 and OR 6 in the deepest Coast Range.

I have no idea where this is

There are vehicles for that, and none of them are named ‘Protege5’. I have driven unsuitable vehicles over terrain, but there were a couple times when I feared for the oil pan. Mazda engineers lived another day.

Back to pavement, and an easy run into Tillamook. Tillamook is thought of as a coastal town, but it’s nine miles, and a range of hills, from the surf. Nevertheless, there are tsunami warning signs. This seems odd, but the Tillamook River estuary extends clear to the town, so a near-sea level access for ‘harbor waves’.

Tillamook mostly smells like cow manure, and likely smells like money to the residents. The manure is the byproduct of the primary suppliers to Tillamook Creamery; famous as far as Ghana, according to one person I talked to, who had seen product. They do make good stuff, (ice cream!), and are widely known.

OR 131 runs to Netarts (Nee-Tarts), or, as some businesses would have it, ‘Netarts-by-the-Bay’. Yes, the town sits on a bay, but this seems a little cutesy. Your monkeys; your circus.

Pulled over at a wide spot and ate the fare from the Fred Meyers deli. There are restaurants open, but the mask thing is off-putting. A nice view.

Netarts proper on the left
Netarts Bay and Netarts Spit

Man, that sun flare is everywhere. The break is well offshore, but there’s a cross-break running right-to-left toward the Spit. While admiring the view, a woman drove by and yelled “Don’t jump!”. I smiled, but did not have the presence of mind to simulate jumping.

Because the westward trip on Timber Road had been a bust, I was looking forward to the eastward attempt. 50 miles or so East of the coast, I made a left onto one of my favorite roads. Right behind a school bus. Just a couple of minutes earlier . . . I figured the bus was going to Timber, and it was. Slowly. The most entertaining parts of the road were taken at a near standstill. I modeled responsible behavior for the kids. It is what it is, and nowhere to pass.

So, not much in the way of driving excitement, but I did get to spend a nice day with a fun car in one of my favorite places. Felt warm and fuzzy the rest of the day.

Did some work for a few hours Saturday, because I had to go back to work Monday, and didn’t want to do anything Sunday. And, that’s how it worked out.

So I didn’t really go anywhere, or do much of anything, but I didn’t have to be somewhere or do something. Like, catch a flight, or be on time for a tour, or make a reservation time. American culture is that if you don’t Do Something on your vacation, it’s somehow . . . not a vacation? I understand that people want to do things they don’t normally have time for, but maybe we need a different term. Going on trips is fine and dandy, but involves about the same work a job does, with the added stress of operating in an unfamiliar environment. Vacation is maybe the letting go of responsibility and obligation.

I enjoy going places and doing things, but this year, the cat life was the one for me.

Great Moments in Education

Posted by: bkivey | 21 September 2021

Planning Around Government

I took a company vehicle to get smogged, and did so at the Sherwood DEQ station. I mention the location because this station is regionally-famous for getting people in and out, quickly. It’s worth the drive. Tuesday is a busy because the stations are closed Sunday and Monday, and when I arrived, there were about 20 vehicles ahead.

I bet I didn’t spend 30 minutes from arrival to departure.

My local DEQ station in Hillsboro is also famous. Famously slow. I went there until I learned better: hour-plus wait times are not uncommon, and two hours not unheard of. Hillsboro DMV, on the other had, used to enjoy a reputation for efficiency. I didn’t mind getting vehicle things done, because I rarely spent 30 minutes in the building.

Well, that was Pre-Kafka.

DMV offices have gone to an appointment system, to limit the number of people in the building. The number of people needing to do business with the State has not decreased, just the system capacity. So now, there are half as many customers in the building, but the same number of DMV employees. I don’t see this changing soon, if ever, because currently those folks make the same money for half the work.

I bought a vehicle in early August, and the next available appointment was for 19 October in a town 20 miles away. Three years ago, this would all be taken care of well before the two-week trip permit expired, and taken half-a-day. DEQ and paperwork. Now, the police have simply stopped enforcing tag laws. That particular vehicle has been driving around for a couple of months with no plates, and I still feel a little anxious about it.

While talking to the DEQ agent, she mentioned that DMV was charging fees for late registration and title applications. By law, paperwork must be completed 30 days after sale; a deadline now impossible to meet. I made the same noises she’s probably heard everyone else make, but politely, because she has no influence on the situation. She did mention, there was a waiver form to download from the DMV site, and to fill it out and present it to DMV when I eventually saw them.

So, a government agency limits access to a necessary function in order to protect people, but then enforces late fees resulting from that very same action? What the actual? Not corruption, exactly, but a very curious circumstance. Why not just waive the late fees? Even more curious is that legislation was signed in May allowing a grace period on expired licenses and tags through 31 December 2021. It seems DMV is taking the view that old business (existing licenses and tags) is fee-free, while new business (titles and registrations) is fee-worthy. This warrants a further look, and a letter to elected officials, if true.

Where Have All The Workers Gone?

I heard a FedEx driver mention that 25% of employees didn’t show up today. Although I wasn’t part of the conversation, that stopped me. I asked if that was because it was a nice day, and he said he didn’t know, but that he didn’t know from one day to the next who would show up. He also mentioned that a job fair had been a joke: 50 – 60 people expected, about 10 showed up. The Holiday season is fast approaching, and he said that FedEx was desperate for help, as it takes a couple of months to get someone up to speed. I wouldn’t be expecting timely package delivery, this year.

He opined that assistance programs were acting as a work-disincentive, and that to be competitive, a company had to start people at $17 – $19/hr. To start. That is the new minimum wage. Only 4 – 5 years ago, that was a wage commanded by someone who knew what they were doing. In nearly the same breath, he complained about the marked increase in the cost-of-living. Remember all the $15/hr minimum-wage agitation a few years ago? Remember how anyone with a rudimentary grasp of economics knew what would happen? Remember how those logical and historically-accurate arguments were hand-waved away? Well, surprise, surprise, surprise.

Nature takes the path of least resistance, and people are the same. Assistance programs probably are a big contributor to the labor shortage, but maybe people are tired of being told what to do by government. Maybe some people don’t want to wear a useless, uncomfortable mask for 8 – 10 hours a day. Maybe people don’t want to be ordered by government to inject experimental drugs just to have a job. On the ground, only Government cares about COVID-19; the People are well over it.

Related Reading

Minimum Expectations

Posted by: bkivey | 16 September 2021

The Hysteria Taxes I

Over the past weekend, Elizabeth Blackstock over on the Jalopnik site related her experiences with COVID-19 testing on a 3-week trip to England and Greenland. Outside the usual costs associated with travel, a vaccinated individual had to spend nearly $1000 USD on COVID-19 testing. She concludes the article by noting that:

As I wrote before, planning these tests definitely takes the spontaneity out of international travel, but at the same time, it is nice to verify several times that I’m not sick and that I won’t be passing the virus on to others. A small price to pay for the ability to get back into the swing of things.

Uh, $860 is not a small price to pay, and the even higher price is the sheer hassle of scheduling the tests. Plus, you know, the implication that a healthy person is somehow a threat. Dignity, much? The usurpation of the Individual by the State is very much not ‘the ability to get back into the swing of things.

What in the actual name of all that is holy is going on, here?

I’ve been overseas. You got whatever shots were recommended, showed proof of vaccine at Customs, and that was it. College students could tour Europe for $1000 for three weeks. Now, this isn’t good enough? Why not? If the vaccine actually is, what’s the problem? I understand that this particular bug is all very new, but we were sold on a solution that doesn’t appear to be. I call shenanigans.

I don’t know what 3-week trips to England and Greenland cost, but even with miles to burn, COVID-19 testing has to be a major expense. For what? We’re already at the Process level: managing The Virus (or, more precisely, the people). The Goal of normal living is being rapidly usurped by Process. And politicians are all about Process; you can stay in power for decades off it.

Global society has been fundamentally transformed the last couple of years, and not for the better. Disease comes and goes; we learn how to handle it. But Government lasts much longer.

Posted by: bkivey | 3 September 2021

The New Pariahs

The COVID-19 pandemic thus far:

December 2019: The Wuhan Flu escapes, and spreads across the globe.

Winter 2020: Panic and hysteria. Hospitals overwhelmed, and supply chains shut down. A lot of what people took for granted; wasn’t.

Spring 2020: The Great Masking. “Wear a mask now; we’ll be done with this by Fall.”

Summer 2020: Panic and hysteria are mostly over, and adjusting to a masked and socially-distant society.

Fall 2020: Whelp, we’re not ‘done with it’. Large-scale vaccine production, stemming from a monumentally impressive research effort.

Winter 2021: Massive, global, inoculation effort. People starting to feel like we’re entering the endgame.

Spring 2021: Vaxxing up a storm. The end is in sight, as restrictions start to ease.

Summer 2021: ‘Herd’, (or, ‘social’) immunity achieved in many places. Pandemic-related mandates and guidelines eased or eliminated, at least at the state and local level. Life in some places is nearly normal, although hand-shaking is uncommon.

Cue the Dr Johnny Fever format-change.

So, why are we regressing to more restrictive rules? Oh, yeah, the Delta variant. News feeds have taken to showing new case and death numbers again. The mortality rate appears to be around 1%, well below the definition of pandemic. I would lay dollars to doughnuts that a very small percentage of deaths involve reasonably healthy individuals under 60. CDC says that the majority of new infections, and one might assume deaths, are from unvaccinated individuals. This should not be news. It’s how disease works.

Let’s look at vaccination. The purpose is to acquire immunity, or at the least, much-reduced susceptibility, to a disease. There are vaccinations for all the popular childhood diseases, and others for bugs you might find around the planet. If vaccinated, you are ‘safe’ from that virus. You could walk into a ward full of cases, and not be too concerned. In the general population, your risk would approach zero.

It seems the Delta variant is a sort of ‘superbug’ version of COVID-19. CDC says it is the dominant variant in the US: more infectious, and able to breach the vaccine. So we are back to social restrictions because the vaccine, isn’t? I understand that viruses mutate, and COVID-19 appears to be good at it. But we have only recently even developed a vaccine, and have some catching up to do. It will be a while before we can have an effective vaccine for the mutations, as we do for more common strains of the flu.

As for disease itself, last Summer medical authorities noted that up to 40% of juvenile COVID-19 cases were asymptomatic. It seems most of the data for adults is 12 months old, but indicates that as many as 30% of adults can develop asymptomatic cases. If these numbers are anywhere close to correct, that’s a pretty lame virus. I’d bet every Marburg victim knows they have it. Reports from healthy people who have had the disease run along the ‘really bad flu’ vein, but not life-threatening. I once managed to have Hepatitis A, pneumonia, and the flu, concurrently. I cannot imagine that any variant of COVID-19 would be worse. If it is, I wouldn’t want to live.

The driving fear now seems to be that vaccinated, healthy, individuals, can spread the disease. My question here is, what’s the point?

The scenario government is selling is that a everyone needs to be vaccinated against a moderately-severe flu, but that there is no defense against it. Does that make sense to you?

So if we are going to be required to ‘mask-up’, and get vaccinated, and social distance, and stay home, what’s the point of vaccination? We were told that a 70% immunization rate would be sufficient to control the virus. Now, we find that is not so. People and government are losing their minds because, people are getting sick? That’s never happened before?

But in the Drive for Conformity, people who choose not to get the vax are now singled out for ‘special’ treatment. If you’re vaccinated, why do you even care? You’re immune. Right? And if you’re not vaxxed, you’ve made a personal health choice, just like the vaccinated folks. Vaccination, if effective, is win-win. Actually, the game favors the vaccinated: I am immune, you are not. You can’t infect me, but I could infect you. So why all the hue-and-cry over vaccination status?

A vaxx card has become something of a Party membership. Don’t have one? Can’t do this, can’t do that. Have to mask, can’t go here, can’t go there. For folks who natter on about ‘equality’ and ‘inclusion’. they sure are quick to seize on ways to divide. Want to know what was behind the Iron Curtain? Welcome to the Land of the Free 2021.

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