Anniversaries

This is poignant, don’t you agree?

Here’s the Wikipedia version of the tragedy. 146 garment workers died — 123 women, 23 men — due to locked exit and stairwell doors. Why were they locked? To keep the employees from taking unauthorized breaks or stealing the goods.

NFL Blues

For the third time in 14 months the National Football League is allowing one of its teams to leave the city where its most passionate fans live to go carpetbagging off to a new city which is willing to pay a hefty bribe in the form of a new stadium. First it was the St. Louis Rams, leaving the Midwest and moving back to Los Angeles after leaving that city in 1994. Why? Because their owner wanted to build an entertainment complex including a stadium on land he owned in Inglewood, Ca. Then came the San Diego Chargers, who announced they were going to move to LA and share the stadium the Rams are building. Why? Because San Diego refused to contribute millions of dollars to publicly finance a new stadium for the Chargers.

Today, the Oakland Raiders announced the team will leave Oakland for the second time, having moved to LA in 1982 and then back to Oakland in 1995. The team will move to Las Vegas after a stadium is completed, probably in 2020. Meanwhile they’ll continue to play at Oakland Coliseum. Tonight I heard ESPN’s Neil Everett equate that to “living with your ex while pining for your new love”. I’d just call it awkward.

I think this banditry needs to stop. It won’t as long as cities think they’ll get some psychic benefit from having an NFL or NHL or MLB or MLS or NBA team call it home, but it should. I commend the citizens of San Diego and Oakland for refusing to raise taxes on themselves to give millionaire or billionaire pro sports team owners new facilities to show off their teams. It’s obnoxious enough in baseball (the Atlanta Braves are closing Turner Field downtown after only 20 years of use to move north where their richer fans live), but at least a baseball stadium is in use for 81 games per year. The NFL only uses its stadium for 8 home games per season. That means the publicly-financed white elephant sits idle 10 months of a year.

It’s even more outlandish when you look at the cost of a ticket to an NFL game. In 2006 the average price for one ticket to an NFL game was $62.38. Ten years later it was $92.98. How many city residents want to or can spend nearly $100 for a single three-hour entertainment and more if beverages and food are desired?

It’s blackmail by the leagues and cities should refuse to pay it.

The blue-bloods fought to the last

If you didn’t see the last few seconds of the UNC-Kentucky game today, here they are:

Carolina is up 73-70 with 11.1 seconds to go, Kentucky’s got the ball.

Not quite Grant Hill to Christian Laettner, but a pretty amazing finish nonetheless.

In the wealthy’s Not-So-Secret Service

What was the rush to pass the Republican “health care” plan?

…the GOP didn’t want to let a detail like tens of millions of people losing their health insurance get in the way of two tax cuts for the rich.

[snip]

Anyone, you see, can pass a tax cut that expires after 10 years. But if you want to make it last — and you don’t have 60 votes in the Senate — then you need to find a way to pay for it (or at least look like you did). Taking health insurance away from poor and sick people would have done just that for the Obamacare taxes, which primarily hit people in the top 1 or 2 percent.

[snip]

Now, the crazy thing is that this first tax cut for the rich (in the form of Obamacare “repeal and replace”) would have made a second one (this one coming in the form of “tax reform”) look more affordable.

Huh? Yep. If you want to make tax cuts permanent you have to show you won’t lose tax revenue beyond ten years out. The thing is, though, if they’d cut the ACA taxes by the $1 trillion they wanted to then that trillion wouldn’t have to be compensated for when calculating whether the tax revisions lose money in the 10-year window.

It’s abstruse and it has to do with parliamentary rules in the Senate, so I imagine that SOB McConnell could try to change them if he really wanted to do so, but the Democrats would surely have made even more of a fuss if he did.

Cars, cars, cars

The GEO I bought before the Mini was purchased from a Budget Rent-a-Car Sales lot. Apparently they’re not selling their fleet that way any longer, since there’s no Hawai’i location given at Budget’s website. The same seems to be true of Enterprise; the nearest fleet sale lot is in Redwood City, CA. Hertz sells its used cars locally, but the mileage even on their 2014 models looked like it averaged about 47K, which is a lot. The Geo I bought from Budget in 1998 had 13K on it.

It’s still a good idea, though, since presumably rental cars are maintained better than most privately-owned vehicles.

I’m looking for a hatchback that will take a wheelchair. That means fairly large and fairly low to the ground (which rules out SUVs, and their mileage stinks anyway). So far I’ve looked (online) at Honda Fits, Mazda Versas, Toyota Yarises, Mazda 2s and Ford Fiestas. Budget is around $12k before trade-in. The Kelley Blue Book value of the Mini is between $2400 and $3500. Since it was totaled and salvaged, I suspect I shouldn’t count on more than the low end, if that.

What hatchbacks have I forgotten?

Again no Final Four for the Arizona team

This is getting really tiresome. Xavier beat Arizona tonight in the NCAA Sweet Sixteen. In the last 2:40 of the game the Wildcats couldn’t stop the Musketeers and couldn’t score themselves as Xavier went on a 9-0 run and won 73-71. Arizona led 69-61 and couldn’t hold on.

Arizona hasn’t been to the Final Four since 2001, when it lost to Duke in the title game.

Gah! More car repairs!

The 2005 Mini that I bought in 2012 is about to cost me either $1,516.99 or $1,230.79, depending on whether it’s the Power Steering Pump ($1,240.99 plus $276 labor) or the Rack and Pinion Assembly ($802.99 plus $427.80 labor). If it’s both it’s $2,903.43 with tax.

I paid $6,000 for it five years ago. I’ve only put 5,000 miles on it. I’ve spent $5436.76 on major repairs to it since then. That doesn’t include the monthly premium gas fill-ups, the new battery, the $125 or so for a new passenger-side mirror and paint job for it, and the registration fees that are $100 more than the old Geo’s fees were. The insurance for each car was about the same.

I have to dump this and get a new or newer car.

Comey and the Russians

The FBI told the House Intelligence Committee, the country and the world that it was conducting a counterintelligence investigation of the Trump campaign and its contacts with Russia during the 2016 Presidential campaign, and that it began that investigation as early as July of last year. A whole lot of Democrats probably cussed at the date, wanting to ask him why he didn’t announce that but he did announce his agency had investigated Hillary Clinton’s email server. Nonetheless,

Mr. Comey placed a criminal investigation at the doorstep of the White House and said officers would pursue it “no matter how long that takes.”

Well now. That’s the lead story in the New York Times this evening/tomorrow morning. I submit that that’s probably not what any President wants to see, even one who calls the paper “the failing New York Times.”

FBI Director Comey also dismissed Trump’s allegation that his predecessor had wiretapped (or otherwise surveilled) him or his campaign. So did the hearing’s other witness, National Security Agency Director Rogers.

Not a good day for the Trumpetistas.

NATO is not a protection racket

The Secretary of Defense really needs to sit this stupid whiny little man down and explain how NATO is funded. He tweeted this this morning: [Germany owes]

He really does think that once a month or once a year the Presidents and Prime Ministers of NATO members write checks to the United States Treasury. Or maybe they courier bags of cash. I’m convinced of it.

That ain’t how it works.