I just RSVP’d for a family wedding. Here’s what I found in the wedding registry:
In other words, to mark an event traditionally associated with reproduction guests can give the gift of abortion care (for pregnant people).
Since I absolutely have to be there and might have to zip to Los Angeles the day after (helicopter ferry trip), it was time to give some money to our commercial airline oligopoly. United tried to sell me trip cancellation insurance, noting explicitly that COVID-19 is “foreseen”:
Readers: If you are are giving abortion care as a wedding gift, what is the correct amount to give?
Loyal readers may remember a review here of a book by a Los Angeles Times reporter on America’s taxpayer-fueled heroin habit (see Who funded America’s opiate epidemic? You did.). Empire of Pain: The Secret History of the Sackler Dynasty covers the same story from the angle of the family behind OxyContin. The Sacklers, whose names adorn university and art museum buildings throughout the U.S. and Europe, have been convenient scapegoats, but it turns out that they didn’t do it alone. Some things that I learned from the book…
Arthur M. Sackler, the patriarch, died before OxyContin was invented (the slow-release coating was actually the invention of a British company that had been acquired by the Sacklers’ sleepy Purdue Pharma and was used originally for morphine pills called “MS Contin”). He was the significant art collector and benefactor of AOC’s party venue at the Metropolitan Museum (how did it cost $587 for a car ride from the Bronx to the Upper East Side?). With the help of some friendly bureaucrats at the FDA, who would go on to be of much greater assistance to his brothers’ company Purdue, he pushed the limits of what was legal/ethical in medical advertising, especially for Valium and Librium, but museums are still happy to display the name of Hoffmann-La Roche, which actually made the drugs.
The book describes McKinsey, “The firm that built the house of Enron”, working to help Purdue Pharma increase sales of OxyContin even after the company and three executives had pleaded guilty to federal crimes regarding claims made regarding the drug. McKinsey’s biggest idea, according to the author, was that Purdue Pharma’s salespeople should make more frequent calls on the doctors who were the biggest prescribers, i.e., the “pill mills” such as Eleanor Santiago‘s (1 million pills, which resulted in a 20-month prison sentence for the physician). McKinsey also consulted for Johnson & Johnson, the author says, to help them push more opioids out to consumers. (See “Behind the Scenes, McKinsey Guided Companies at the Center of the Opioid Crisis” (NYT 2022))
Speaking of Johnson & Johnson, they owned a division in Tasmania where all of the poppies were grown to enable the production of OxyContin and competitive opioid pills from Janssen (J&J’s pharma subsidiary, now famous for its never-FDA-approved one-shot COVID vaccine) and other companies (in-depth background). The Federal DEA was also complicit in allowing a massive increase in the import quota for this critical raw material.
The author describes Mary Jo White, later appointed by Barack Obama to chair the Securities and Exchange Commission, as instrumental in weakening the government’s efforts to punish Purdue, which was owned entirely by the Sacklers (not, however, by any of Arthur M’s descendants or cash-hungry former wives, “the Valium Sacklers” as opposed to the “OxyContin Sacklers”).
The book supports the heritability of success theory advanced in The Son Also Rises: economics history with everyday applications. Even after a couple of generations that could have succumbed to idleness, the Sackler descendants are reasonably hard-working and successful. Madeleine Sackler, for example, has been successful as a filmmaker (ironically, a couple of them are about life in prison, which is not unrelated to the drug that has funded her lifestyle).
If nothing else, reading the book will make you cautious about taking that first bottle of painkillers that a doctor prescribes!
The author is a New Yorker writer and he asserts as fact that HIV/AIDS would have been a solved problem if Republicans had not blocked federal funding for research into a cure for this disease (yet SARS-CoV-2 continues to kill steadily despite literally $trillions in tax money that has been thrown at it; see Did vaccines or any other intervention slow down COVID?). He also asserts as fact that if Purdue Pharma was liable for opioid-related deaths then gun manufacturers are obviously liable for shooting deaths (never mentioning that the gun manufacturers have always been quite candid about the lethality of guns/bullets and that the theory of liability for the opioid industry is that the companies lied to Americans about heroin-style drugs not being addictive/harmful).
Loosely related… the Temple of Dendur at the Met, in what used to be called “The Sackler Wing” (funded by Arthur M, blameless in the OxyContin debacle), “temporarily closed” in June 2021 for coronapanic:
In Atlas Shrugged, the productive and successful Americans retreat to an isolated town in Colorado and stop paying taxes to the massive inefficient bureaucrat U.S. government. Under the pre-Trump tax code, that happened to some extent with American corporations (see this 2015 post (obsolete now due to changes implemented during the Trump dictatorship that forced companies such as Apple to abandon their sham Irish/Dutch tax homes)), but it did not seem to be happening for individuals on a large scale.
I visited Houston, Texas in December 2022, on my way back from Corvette driving school report (Ron Fellows near Las Vegas). A friend invested heavily there in 2009 when everyone else was running away. Specifically, he invested in The Woodlands, a town north of Houston in a Republican-dominated county (Houston is run by Democrats). “The population has tripled since I moved here,” he said. Everything that you see or touch The Woodlands is at most 20 years old and, therefore, in beautiful condition. There is a fake “town center” strip mall with supermarket, restaurants, and stores for the rich: Tesla (showroom only; illegal to sell direct in Texas; #FreeMarketEconomy), Gucci, TUMI, Louis Vuitton, Tiffany, etc. The more successful residents of The Woodlands generally have huge houses, e.g., 10,000 square feet or more. One guy built a replica of a White House wing, complete with Oval Office, and lets charities use it for fundraising events. (“For maximum authenticity, they should get a guy from the local memory care unit to sit in the big chair,” was my response to seeing a photo of this.) Houses are cheap by Florida standards, with an older (1988) 10,507 square foot lakefront place on the market now at $3.25 million and a 1997 house available at $4 million (Zestimate: $3.6 million). Here’s a 2012 house offered at $6.5 million:
Maybe this can’t work in other states because it is too difficult and expensive to build infrastructure in most parts of the U.S., but it should be a cautionary tale for city governments. Nobody who was on welfare in Houston moved to The Woodlands, but lots of people who had been paying huge amounts of sales and property taxes moved. So the ratio between the takers and makers went up as The Woodlands grew… “Houston Finance Head Warns of Massive Budget Deficit After Federal COVID-19 Funds Expire” (The Texas, March 31, 2022): “The state’s largest city has been using federal COVID relief dollars to plug budget holes and provide raises, but is lurching towards a fiscal cliff once the federal funds expire.”
A couple of iPhone images taken from a Robinson R66 (no photo window, sadly):
I happened to visit “Market Street” on a rainy day:
Where better to see the ritual of masks outdoors than in a big city full of Democrats?
Let’s hear it for Matt Mullenweg, the creator of WordPress:
From the fine arts museum, a timely reminder for Ron DeSantis about racism in the classroom:
An image ruined by motion blur in the main subject, worth big $$ and suitable for display because the failed attempt was made by Cartier-Bresson:
Masks of color:
I learned about Gyula Kosice. He built the following installation from 1946-1972:
From James Turrell, inspired by being up in the air:
Some stuff that I desperately want for our house:
The museum is home to a substantial Louise Nevelson (NYT: “a few years [after the birth of a son] Nevelson broke up her marriage. She refused any alimony, however, on the ground that to accept it would be immoral”).
Concerned that you don’t have what it takes to produce a $1 million artwork? The Cy Twombly Gallery might boost your confidence:
Conclusion: If you don’t have to commute into work in downtown Houston, The Woodlands is close enough to access everything great about Houston, but doesn’t suffer from any of the bad stuff.
We are regularly informed by politicians and their media allies that the United States is the best and richest country in the world and that Americans have never been richer. And nobody is richer in the U.S. than the federal government, which can and does literally print money (soon to mint a $1 trillion coin because the best way to address a financial problem is never to work harder or spend less?). Here are photos from Death Valley National Park, owned by the federal government, from December 2022:
What was built as a wheelchair-accessible path will no longer work for our disabled brothers, sisters, and binary-resisters because the pavement is so deteriorated. How about at the local airport? A core mission of the federal government is making sure that U.S. airports are functional and this one is actually owned by the Feds.
The runway at Furnace Creek Airport, L06, is described as being “In Failed Condition”. The aspiration for the airport, lowest in North America at 210 feet below sea level, is greatly reduced from 1954, when it had a jet-capable 5,500′ runway. Airnav says “UP TO 4 INCH SALT HEAVE ARND RWY CRACKS. COULD DMG ACFT WITH WHEEL FAIRINGS OR CAUSE A POTENTIAL TO BLOW OUT A TIRE.” The National Park Service, whose job it might be to keep this airport in decent condition, says “poor condition; numerous cracks, bumps, ruts, and areas of crumbling asphalt over the entire length of the runway. Consider treating like a gravel/unpaved surface, and use caution at takeoff and landing.”
Pilots in California and Nevada used to meet at this airport to socialize and play a round of golf. Now it is useless except to helicopters and maybe a few taildraggers with tundra tires.
How can we square the myth (we’re richer, smarter, and better than ever) with these facts on the ground of infrastructure that we were once rich enough to create but are no longer rich enough to maintain?
The news is not all bad if you’re a member of the laptop class in Death Valley. Not only did the working class have to pay $7,500 toward your electric car (plus any wealth transfers ordered by a state), but the working class also has to buy you free electricity in Death Valley at public chargers (we plugged in our rented BMW hybrid). The working class member’s gas-powered dinosaur must be filled at $5/gallon within the park:
DJ Mustard’s ex-wife has reportedly demanded the producer pay her over $80,000 a month in child support. … Chanel Thierry filed an order to a California judge on issues of child support, custody, spousal support, attorney’s fees, … he and Chanel Thierry had signed a prenuptial agreement prior to their 2020 wedding.
In other words, a Californian hopes to bank roughly $1 million/year tax-free in child support (straightforward under California family law), a claim that wouldn’t be impaired by a prenuptial agreement barring alimony, property division, etc.
Where it gets confusing are the public Instagram posts from the mom.
How is it possible to fit three children and an adult driver into a Lamborghini? I haven’t even been able to get myself into one. Maybe she means the absurd Lamborghini SUV?
To commemorate the heroic efforts of our government’s millions of armed police and soldiers in putting down the very-nearly-successful January 6, 2021 insurrection, let me relate my own recent trip to Washington, D.C.
Our journey began at the Robinson factory in Torrance, California (KTOA). Here are some photos that I took there in 2013 (they don’t allow pictures anymore).
Getting out of Los Angeles we studied the FAA helicopter chart… (note that the official routes require some understanding of local highways)
And the Robinson-specified route:
One thing that Robinson does not give to pilots fleeing the City of Lockdown is a list of frequencies and elevations for all of the airport traversed, so I prepped a couple of days before by writing all of these down on a pad (we were a bit too low to get advisories from SoCal Approach and therefore went from tower to tower). I handled the radio while my co-pilot (a former student at MIT 15 years ago and, having started a successful business, now proud owner of a $700,000 new helicopter) flew the machine. We made it out of LA without losing our certificates.
We passed the Morongo Casino and the Banning Pass into Palm Springs and a stop at KUDD:
After a stop at the Phoenix-Goodyear Airport, we made it to Tucson, Arizona just after dark:
(Note that each hot dog costs taxpayers closer to $10,000 when military pilots stop in. Tucson/El Guero Canelo is, according to the FBO, a popular stopover on training excursions.)
The War on Christmas cannot touch the fortified positions of El Guero Canelo:
We cranked before sunrise at KTUS and headed into the mountains of New Mexico:
In El Paso we saw the cruel conditions suffered by asylum-seekers and reflected on Governor Abbott’s noble provision of bus transportation for those migrants who want to escape to sanctuary cities where progressives will cater to all of their needs.
A 17-knot headwind, which was to be our near-constant companion, plagued us as we departed El Paso. In Pecos, Texas, we found the best dim sum west of the Pecos:
The help wanted sign was typical. Seemingly every retailer and restaurant was hiring in every town that we visited. A Texas FBO manager who had paid $13/hour in 2019 for entry-level jobs now has to pay $20/hour. “I still can’t find anyone who wants to work,” he said. (We also learned that the wholesale price for 100LL at the time was about $4.70/gallon.)
We continued to follow Interstate 20 over Midland, Texas and into Sweetwater.
It was freezing overnight and we hadn’t been able to find a heated hangar so we visited the National WASP WWII Museum to give the engine a chance to warm up before starting. We stopped for an awesome dim sum lunch at Bushi Bushi in Addison, Texas, also home to the most luxurious FBO that we visited during the trip: Galaxy.
We flew in the dark to Atlantic in Jackson, Mississippi and shut down for the night. We shared a heated hangar with an Ercoupe. Corporate says it is all about diversity and inclusion, but the employees had selected Fox News and were enforcing gender binarism:
Speaking of Fox, here’s a throwback to November 20 from the trip. Twitter was “in chaos” and presumably the site was at risk of shutting down due to all of the valuable employees departing:
All over the Southeast, the landscape was scarred by the Federal Reserve Bank’s 0% interest rates. I wonder how many of these developments won’t be finished any time soon. (A few weeks later, I was in Death Valley, California and talked to a Mountain States builder. He’d stopped doing any projects at all. “It costs $400 to $500 per square foot to build and I’m not sure that people will pay enough for me to recoup my costs.”)
Best airport restaurant of the trip (Elevation at KRYY near Atlanta):
A fly-by of Dulles Airport on the way to landing at KGAI.
There was minimal traffic in Montgomery County, Maryland as I traveled to my mom’s retirement complex on the Beltway. “The economy hasn’t come back,” said the Uber driver. “People in D.C. are still working from home or not working.” Did that mean his income had fallen? “No. There are fewer customers, but nobody wants to work either so the balance isn’t that different. Also, a lot of my customers are guys who lost jobs in 2020 and can’t afford child support payments that were ordered when they were working. They can’t renew their driver’s licenses because they’re behind on child support, so they take Uber to get to work.” (see this article on the scale of child support profits obtainable in Maryland)
The labor shortage made it tough to get a post-trip haircut. The barber shops were jammed with people who’d made appointments in advance. On the other hand, maybe Joe Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act is working. One-way tickets from DCA to PBI were less than $200 just two days before Thanksgiving.
We were lucky with the weather, except for the headwinds most of the way and then some moderate turbulence from 30-knot winds around the Appalachian mountains toward the end of the trip that required us to slow down to 80 knots (best cruise in the R44 II is about 110 knots). Even though some of the infrastructure is frayed because so many Americans have withdrawn from the labor force, the U.S. private aviation infrastructure remains a marvel to behold. The bigger airports usually have FBOs that are staffed 24/7. There is usually a crew car when you need it. Air Traffic Control is always relaxed and helpful. Most of the fees to keep this going are rolled into the price of fuel (or, even better, paid for by the Gulfstream crowd) so you’re not hit with annoying small bites constantly as in Canada and Europe.
A couple of photos from a hotel in Houston, which just recently voted for a gubernatorial candidate who promised California- and Maskachusetts-style lockdowns and mask/vaccine orders:
(Most Texans are Republicans and anti-lockdown Governor Abbott won reelection, but Houston is majority Democrat and voted for Beto.)
I’m wondering how it is possible that a group of humans who recently cowered in place for years can celebrate their own boldness even as quite a few of them long to return to cowering in their bunkers, or at least behind the cloth masks that Dr. Fauci said would preserve them from a deadly aerosol virus.
If everyone at the board game group would commit to wearing well-fitting, high-quality masks — they prefer elastomeric p100s — and the group invested in a HEPA filter, Mx. Cherry says the couple could safely attend. Mx. Nerode’s 90-year-old father, for instance, a math professor at Cornell, has taught all semester with the same equipment.
(The group could also sand a fiberglass boat or airplane as long as they all have their P100 masks on!)
I’m not an expert on reproductive health care, of which we are informed that abortion care is the most critical component, but I had a thought while viewing Love and Birth at the Musée D’Orsay (Georges Lacombe, circa 1895):
Where is the abortion-care-themed art for Democrats who own Hunter Bidens and want to demonstrate their passion for this most important aspect of reproductive health care?
Separately, a Hero of Faucism at the jammed art museum fights an aerosol virus with a humble surgical mask…. worn over a beard:
A masked Follower of Science in front of a sculpture titled “Redneck and Alligator” (well, maybe it is actually a crocodile scene set in Africa):
Here’s an overview of the converted train station:
The ceiling of the museum restaurant:
This prompted our almost-9-year-old to say “Hey look, there’s a peacock. Dad, you need to give me a shotgun and then…. problem solved.” (Readers: If you are having problems with ornamental peafowl on your estate, let me know and we’ll send the youth over to deal with the birds directly.)
Speaking of problems, like most of Paris, the museum is afflicted with gender binarism:
On the other hand, they do give a lot of floor and wall space to Kehinde Wiley:
Happy Dental Hygiene Month. I hope that every reader has bought him/her/zir/theirself a new toothbrush head to celebrate.
This reminds me to relate a story in the Department of Philip is Always Wrong. I conjectured that Americans’ dental health would have improved during the lockdown. With offices and schools closed for 1.5 years in the Science-following cities and states, people were never more than a few steps from a toothbrush, toothpaste, and floss. It was, for at least part of the time, actually illegal for anyone to eat in a restaurant. With nearly every meal being consumed at home, there was thus no obstacle to brushing immediately after every meal.
I checked in with a dentist friend who confirmed the general principle that Philip is Always Wrong. “Hygiene was far worse during lockdown,” she responded, “due to constant snacking. Parents were too lazy to monitor their kids’ brushing. People just gave up and let everything go.” (Because of this, her practice has never been more profitable, nearly all funded by tax dollars (Medicaid for pediatric dentistry).)
Illustrating the best of modern German culture, a basket of cavities and/or revenue, depending on your perspective, from Amana, Iowa:
The authors say that U.S. population will continue to grow, all due to immigration:
Since immigrants have a higher birth rate than native-born Americans, the above chart shows that there will be a dramatic increase in the percentage of the U.S. population that is either immigrants or children of recent immigrants (but this decline in percentage of native-born cannot be characterized as a “replacement”).
The southern border is open to anyone who is willing to walk across. Anyone who walks across is entitled to claim asylum, entering a process that could take years. Depending on the country of origin, a denial of asylum has no practical effect in terms of headcount. The migrant cannot be deported to a country such as Venezuela where the U.S. does not have an agreement in place with the government. (NYT)
How can the demographers know what percentage of the 28 million Venezuelans will decide to walk into the U.S., much less what percentage of the rest of the 7+ billion people on Planet Earth who are not already Americans? Given our current asylum-based immigration policy, unless we know how many countries will experience Venezuelan-style economic or political issues over the next 30 years, how can we know how many people will walk into the U.S. and stay forever?