Helicopter from Los Angeles to Maskachusetts, Part 7 (Kentucky to Great Barrington)

I was delighted that the brief trip from the hotel to the airport included a view of the following car:

Not sure if I love the reference to Talladega Nights or “I Identify as a Problem” more.

A powerful politician directed a river of federal tax dollars into the KSME airport back in 2006 to build a world-class commercial airline terminal:

It has never been used.

We fired up and vaguely followed the Ohio River to Parkersburg, West Virginia (KPKB). We enjoyed tailwinds of up to 30 knots, but combined with the terrain that also made for bumps so we once again climbed as high as 7,500′. Note the Tesla charging station, below.

Parkersburg features a sometimes-used commercial terminal, thanks to continuing applications of your tax dollars into the Essential Air Service program. We enjoyed some breakfast there and got a lesson in philately as well as in how wrong people are in their perceptions of inflation. A luxurious four-seat piston-powered aircraft, the Beech Staggerwing, cost $9,250 and first class postage was 32 cents in 1997 (the stamp is now worth about 1.75 Bidies).

A photo of the Ashokan Reservoir in the Catskill Mountains about 20 minutes before descending into KGBR:

Here’s Torrance’s finest product with 30.7 hours on the collective meter:

The happy owner supplied us with an Enterprise rental car, pre-tuned to NPR, for the trip to Boston/Cambridge.

As previously noted here, we were offered free samples of healing marijuana within 30 minutes of our arrival in Maskachusetts:

Every crosswalk in Great Barrington is painted in the sacred colors:

Retailers post signs for the world’s smartest humans:

They also worship the Sacred Rainbow in Stockbridge:

The world’s smartest humans are provided with instructions for how to use the devices depicted above:

Except for the final trip down the Mass Pike, including an inflation-free $15/person meal at McDonald’s, that was it!

Related:

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Uncle Joe’s capital gains tax

Let’s consider how Joe Biden’s proposed new federal long-term capital gains tax rate of 44.6 percent would work without the inflation adjustment that other inflation-plagued economies have. We start with a California-based investor who purchased General Electric stock for $100/share in June 1997 and sold it for $162/share today:

At official CPI rates, the investor has lost money. $100 in June 1997 has the same spending power as $195 Bidies today. On top of the agony of the loss, he/she/ze/they will have to hand over to the Feds tax on $62 of fake profit. Let’s assume the investor lives in California and is financially comfortable. The total tax rate under Uncle Joe’s latest proposal will be 58 percent (44.6 federal plus 13.3 state). So the investor will pay $36/share in tax and thus net $126/share for a stock that cost $195 in today’s money. (The numbers are far worse if we use the cost of California real estate as the relevant measure of inflation rather than official CPI.)

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Harvard’s border wall to exclude the undocumented

Harvard’s best and brightest minds have proved Scientifically that border walls don’t work (see this 2019 Harvard Gazette story, for example, and “Laurence Tribe sues Trump over border wall” (MSNBC coverage of the Harvard Law School prof’s fight to keep the border open)).

This week, however, Harvard Yard is closed to the undocumented and the border fence is guarded by police. Photos from last night:

Harvard Square (the commercial area adjacent to Harvard Yard) is still open. Anyone wanting to protest against homelessness and/or assist homeless people was free to do so. However, we didn’t see any students or professional progressives stop to try to help the people sleeping on the sidewalk right in the heart of Harvard Square:

The local public high school does have an official government banner reminding people that one group of humans deserves special attention, but the group is not the noble Gazans:

Circling back to the border wall built by people who say that border walls are immoral and impractical… “Harvard Yard Closed Until Friday in Anticipation of Pro-Palestine Protests” (Crimson):

The University restricted access to Harvard Yard until Friday afternoon in apparent anticipation of student protests, amid a wave of high-profile pro-Palestine demonstrations at universities across the country including Columbia University and Yale University.

The closures are a sign that Harvard’s leadership is hoping to avoid its own version of the scene at Columbia, where more than 100 students were arrested Thursday by the New York City Police Department for their participation in an ongoing pro-Palestine encampment on the school’s main quad.

An announcement of the closure, posted to Yard entrance gates, warned of disciplinary measures against Harvard students and affiliates who bring in unauthorized structures such as tents or tables or block access to building entrances.

An email sent to students and staff who work in the Yard stated that the closures are being done “out of an abundance of caution and with the safety of our community as a priority.”

Note how “abundance of caution”, the leitmotif of the Covidcrats, was woven in! Also that “safety” is the most important goal for a human, not liberating Al-Quds, destroying the Zionist entity, or stopping a genocide and famine that is intensified by a population explosion (60,000 pregnant women, an unspecified number of pregnant people of other genders, and more than 183 births per day (source)).

The arrests at Columbia sparked a wave of solidarity protests at universities across the country, including at Harvard, where more than 200 Harvard affiliates rallied in Harvard Yard Friday demanding that the University “disclose and divest” from Israeli companies and investments in the West Bank.

The rally at Harvard was co-organized by a coalition of recognized and unrecognized pro-Palestine groups. Unrecognized activist organizations — including the African and African American Resistance Organization and Jews for Palestine, which staged an occupation of University Hall in November — have increasingly led pro-Palestine organizing on campus.

The University “shifted to HUID access only to stay ahead of potential issues with non-Harvard recognized groups,” College spokesperson Jonathan Palumbo wrote in a statement to The Crimson on Sunday.

Apologies if the photos are blurry. I’m here in Cambridge after five days in a Robinson R44 and my hands are still shaking a little. The trip was from Los Angeles to Great Barrington, Maskachusetts. Within 30 minutes after arriving in Massachusetts, I was offered free marijuana samples from one of the “essential” businesses that was allowed to stay open while schools were closed:

Every crosswalk in Great Barrington is painted in the sacred colors:

Not too many people were out and about in Great Barrington on a Tuesday afternoon in the off-season so, though I saw some folks wearing masks I wasn’t able to get a photo of an outdoor masker in a rainbow crosswalk.

Related…

Also, NYU decides that a border wall might work in some circumstances…

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Radcliffe: It was women who defeated Hitler

My mom was Class of 1955 at Radcliffe, the women’s college that was part of Harvard University in parallel with the men’s college (“Harvard College”). Here’s part of a recent email from Radcliffe:

Women’s history is deeply entwined with the history of resistance. In this issue of our Women, Gender, and Society newsletter, we feature stories of women who challenged the status quo, from the German resistance to sex-positive feminism. Learn more about women who inspired change—and don’t miss the latest Schlesinger Library exhibition, which highlights the many facets of women’s movements working toward liberation in the United States, starting at midcentury.

By inference, I think it is also fair to say that people who identify as “women” are allied with Hamas (the “Islamic Resistance Movement”). If my mom’s class is representative, the typical Radcliffe graduate seems to have enjoyed tremendous success in resisting working for wages. Either during or just after college, these women got married to men and then lived off the wages earned by those men, whether they stayed married or availed themselves of the no-fault divorce laws that became available circa 1970 collected alimony.

Speaking of Hamas, once Harvard comes under Hamas’s direct management I wonder what they will think of the following:

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Lucid releases dog mode and cars are available for immediate delivery

Scenes from a shopping mall in Newport Beach, California:

The salespeople explained that “Creature Comfort Mode” had been released on Friday, March 8. When could we get one of these Lucid cars for which a 1-2 year wait was expected? “If you’re paying cash, you can have the car today.”

Lucid hopes to join the Tesla charging network in 2025, we learned. In the meantime, I guess that means the car is limited to around-town use (see Top Gun slows down to 25 mph (across Florida by EV)).

Not every question was appreciated, e.g., “If you’re trying to symbolize present-day California, wouldn’t it make more sense to have a surgical mask and a vaccine syringe rather than a bear?”

The Fashion Island shopping mall had no fewer than four car showrooms: Lexus, Lincoln, Lucid, Tesla. I guess any of these places will seem cheap compared to the Whole Foods that is in the same mall.

Speaking of cars and Newport Beach, we saw a Z06 Corvette parked in front of our hotel:

We also saw a Tesla Cybertruck on the road, but the less said about that experience the better.

For those who’ve been reading about the death of California retail, a reminder that Newport Beach is not San Francisco:

(the jewelry store did have an armed guard, so I guess it wasn’t in a completely different universe compared to San Francisco)

I do hope that Joe Biden in the 5th or 6th year of his reign will issue an executive order requiring every shopping mall to have a koi pond:

In the bad old pre-koi days, the mall was a Boy Scouts camp:

Related:

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When does the next wave of COVID-19 death start in Australia?

If you ask Google about “Australian open tennis”, the noble software defaults to showing “women’s singles”:

Note that uber-hater Margaret Court is highlighted at the bottom. From the Daily Mail:

In 2017, Court – a Christian pastor – shocked countless tennis identities and supporters after she boldly declared the sport was ‘full of lesbians’.

She also previously labelled gay marriage ‘a trend’ and the 24-time Grand Slam winner stunned many in tennis circles after stating her belief that transgender athletes have no place in professional sport.

If we click on “men’s singles”, we learn that Djokovic has been out in the wild infected Australians with his unvaccinated body:

A Scientist in the audience shouted “get vaccinated mate” at the ailing Serb last week (Daily Mail), but there is no evidence that Djokovic heeded this commonsense call.

What’s the latest Science on shots for someone such as Djokovic who has previously recovered from Long COVID? “Boosters do not work in people who have had COVID” (Dr. Hater Vinay Prasad):

This paper is a population based observational analysis of boosting, but restricted to people who had COVID. Austria has pretty good records and pretty good testing, but not perfect.

First these authors actually report, all cause death, and it is lower in boosted groups. They write, “All-cause mortality data indicate modest healthy vaccine bias.”

(people who get vaccinated tend to have been healthier to begin with)

And, “No individual younger than 40 years died due to COVID-19. “

(Djokovic is 36, so if he were Austrian he would be safe.)

Combining all of the above, Australians aren’t safe from death even if they’re boosted and an unvaccinated Djokovic is polluting the air with SARS-CoV-2 virus. When do vaccinated-and-boosted Australians over 40 begin dying in massive waves?

Related:

  • “‘How ironic’: Anti-vaxxers hijack tragic Aus Open death” (News.com.au): Heartless anti-vaxxers have hijacked the death of a much-loved British sports reporter who collapsed in Melbourne while covering the Australian Open. The family of UK Daily Mail sports journalist Mike Dickson, 59, announced his sudden death late Wednesday evening. “We are devastated to announce that our wonderful husband and Dad, Mike, has collapsed and died while in Melbourne for the Aus Open,” they shared in a statement. … “Journalist who tried to cancel Novak over not taking the Covid shots, collapses and dies suddenly. He was fully vaccinated,” Erin Elizabeth, a health blogger and anti-vaccine activist, said. … “The journalist who bullied Novak Djokovic for two years because he didn’t want to participate in the human experiment has now ‘suddenly and unexpectedly passed away’,” he wrote. “Maybe this wouldn’t have happened if he were unvaccinated.”
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Immigration and rent are both at all-time highs

New York Times notes that the U.S. working class is suffering from having to pay “record rent”:

Unaffordable rents are changing low-income life, blighting the prospects of not only the poor but also growing shares of the lower middle class after decades in which rent increases have outpaced income growth.

Nearly two-thirds of households in the bottom 20 percent of incomes face “severe cost burdens,” meaning they pay more than half of their income for rent and utilities, according to the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies.

Among working-class renters — the 20 percent of people in the next level up the income scale — the share with severe burdens has nearly tripled in two decades to 17 percent.

What else has gone up in two decades? “In October 2023, the Foreign-Born Share Was the Highest in History” (Center for Immigration StudiesLow-immigration, Pro-immigrant):

  • In October 2023, the CPS shows that 15 percent of the U.S. population is now foreign-born — higher than any U.S. government survey or census has ever recorded.
  • The 49.5 million foreign-born residents (legal and illegal) in October 2023 is also a new record high.

I question the calculation above because it uses what is likely a flawed methodology for counting undocumented immigrants (hatefully referred to as “illegal”). I think that the 49.5 million immigrants depicted above include an estimated 12.3 million undocumented immigrants. This Yale study says that 10 years ago were were hosting approximately 22 million of the undocumented, but the error bars were substantial. Via the Yale methodology, the correct number of undocumented immigrants in the U.S. would be roughly 30 million and the total number of immigrants would be close to 70 million, not 49.5 million.

We have to scroll through about 20 screens to read the entire NYT article. The reporter is described as having “written extensively about poverty, class, and immigration”. Yet neither immigration or population growth is considered in the article, even long enough to be dismissed, as a potential factor in the high rent.

Perhaps the native-born can buy instead of rent? “The Math for Buying a Home No Longer Works. These Charts Show You Why.” (Wall Street Journal, Dec 11, 2023):

Neither immigration nor population growth is mentioned in the WSJ.

What about the unhoused lifestyle, hatefully referred to by the New York Times as “homelessness”:

An annual head count, conducted in January, found the homeless population had increased by more than 70,000 people, or 12 percent. That is the single largest one-year jump since the Department of Housing and Urban Development began collecting data in 2007, and the increase affected many different segments of the population.

By the government’s count, 653,104 people in the United States were homeless in January.

“The most significant causes are the shortage of affordable homes and the high cost of housing,” said Jeff Olivet, head of the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness.

But some researchers argued that much of the rise stemmed from the surging numbers of migrants entering the United States, noting a sharp growth in homelessness in the most affected cities, including New York, Denver, and Chicago.

“To me, the story is the migrant crisis,” said Dennis Culhane, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania who has long served as an adviser to the federal government’s annual count. “Even without the migrant crisis we would have seen some increase, but certainly not to this extent.”

Homelessness grew among every group the federal government tracks. It rose among individuals and families with children. It rose among the young and the old. It rose among the chronically homeless and those entering the system for the first time.

It also rose among veterans, the group that in recent years had experienced the sharpest declines, after a significant expansion of federal aid.

I am stunned that migrants got a cameo in the NYT!

Update, December 19, from the NYT… “As Need Rises, Housing Aid Hits Lowest Level in Nearly 25 Years”:

As the safety net has expanded over the past generation, the food stamp rolls have doubled, Medicaid enrollment has tripled and payments from the earned-income tax credit have nearly quadrupled.

But one major form of aid has grown more scarce.

After decades of rising rents, housing assistance for the poorest tenants has fallen to the lowest level in nearly a quarter-century. The three main federal programs for the neediest renters — public housing, Section 8, and Housing Choice Vouchers — serve 287,000 fewer households than they did at their peak in 2004, a new analysis shows. That is a 6 percent drop, while the number of eligible households without aid grew by about a quarter, to 15 million.

The first paragraph is interesting. From the NYT’s perspective, it is great news that 2-3X as many Americans are welfare-dependent. There is, certainly, no possibility that we could run out of other people’s money.

In the past 40 years, entitlements have grown 15 times as fast as discretionary programs outside of defense, Robert Greenstein of the Brookings Institution has found. “The fact that housing aid is discretionary has really hindered its growth,” he said.

More than 19 million households qualify for rental aid by having “very low incomes”— half the local median or less — but only 4.3 million get help. (In Charleston, a very low income for a family of four is less than about $49,000.)

Loyal readers will be familiar with my inability to understand how we can support this kind of inequality. We take 19 million households, all more or less similar in terms of how poor they are and how much effort they put into working. We select 4 million of them to get free housing and tell 15 million to go pound sound (or crash at a relative’s apartment). If housing is a human right, why wouldn’t we give free houses to all 19 million? If housing is not a human right, why do we give free houses to 4 million households?

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Boston Tea Party anniversary

Today is the 250th anniversary of the Boston Tea Party. Some perspective from the Brits:

The ‘Sons of Liberty’ were essentially the henchmen of the rich smuggler-barons who were faced with ruin

At 6:30 p.m. on Thursday December 16, 1773, a group of between 100 and 150 Americans raided three East India Company merchantmen moored in Boston and threw 92,000 lb of tea (worth $1.7 million in today’s terms) into the harbor. A central part of the American founding story, the 250th anniversary of the Boston Tea Party is being commemorated this month as a key moment when patriotic Americans fought back against the greedy British and their oppressive taxation policies that forced up prices on commodities such as tea, which in turn led to the American Revolution.

Far from increasing the price for American consumers, the taxed East India tea was going to be sold for about half the $1 that they were then paying for a pound of tea. The only people who were going to lose out were the smuggler-barons of Boston, New York and Pennsylvania who employed the “Patriots” who attacked the vessels. As the historian Charles Arnold-Baker has pointed out, “The Boston Tea Party was essentially a private operation for the benefit of racketeers,” rather than the action of selfless citizens.

When the first of the three ships carrying tea arrived at Boston harbor on November 28, 1773, the merchant-smugglers had no trouble in whipping up a mob, largely made up of their own employees, to prevent the tea being offloaded, which by law had to happen within twenty days of docking. The duty had to be paid on offloading, otherwise customs had the right to seize it. If that happened it would have to be sold on the quayside for knockdown prices, and the Boston merchant-smugglers would have lost the lucrative tea part of their business. So the next day they called a mass meeting of the so-called Sons of Liberty, demanding that the tea be sent back to England without the tax being paid.

Where do Elizabeth Warren and Justin Trudeau come into the story?

In the highly coordinated assault on December 16, three well-organized teams, dressed as Mohawk Native Americans and using soot for “blackface” in order to increase deniability in court, raided the ships, hatcheted open the 342 chests of tea and threw it overboard, all in under two hours. The efficiency of the operation points to it having been organized in advance by the Boston merchant-smugglers, rather than being a popular uprising of the outraged citizenry, as the American founding myth claims.

The articles asks a big question:

The Boston Tea Party was the spark that ignited the American Revolution. But far from being a spontaneous uprising of ordinary Americans angry at high taxes and prices, as it has been portrayed for a quarter of a millennium, it was, in fact, a well-organized assault by smuggler-barons and their henchmen against a government attempt to halve the price of one of New England’s major commodities. One wonders what would have happened if only Governor Hutchinson had put an adequate armed guard on the ships.

Given the enormous potential for financial gain of getting around the Royal Proclamation of 1763, which limited how much land the evil white European settlers could steal from the noble indigenous tribes, I don’t think a failure to have a Tea Party would have changed the course of history, as the article suggests.

Illustration of the inflation-free economy that we’ve been able to build under self-governance:

Related:

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Who wants to meet at the Las Vegas Formula 1 practice? (Thursday)

I’m between expert witness appointments in Los Angeles and Montreal on Thursday, November 16 so I’m joining a friend (a brilliant patent litigator from Manhattan who retired to Las Vegas) at the practice that evening. We’re in the West Harmon section. Tickets in this section on the Ticketmaster resale market, after all of the fee scams, are about $215. If anyone wants to meet, maybe for breakfast on Friday morning or in the afternoon on Thursday or at the event itself, please email philg@mit.edu.

Separately, speaking of fee scams, here’s a snapshot from a hotel search:

Expedia says that it is a $24 hotel room. In the fine print, though, it turns out to cost $71. Blame the tax man/tax woman/tax non-binary human? No. The resort fee is $44, nearly double the purported cost of the room! Is it a fabulous resort with a lazy river for the kids? No! It’s the run-down Rio Hotel & Casino, whose pool is actually closed after October 1. A recent Google review of the “resort”:

What can I say. The Rio has impressed me this time. They took a bar that was set really low and managed to lower that bar lower.
So at least they give you choices. Masquerade section comes with 5 minutes of hot water, old carpeting, a window view from inside and outside of the bathroom, 1997 model phone, holes around the tub that have rotted out, plus people painting the exterior and driving in 3 inch screws at 10 at night.
Or you can choose the freshly remodeled beautiful rooms in the other tower with a jackhammer going off at 6am with no water at all in the morning.
Mind you some wait times to check in are over an hour.
We have 10 rooms here and not one is even close to being acceptable.
I only visit for work. I would never spend my money for this experience.
One good note. Housekeeping does the best with what they have to work with.

From two months ago, a verified guest:

It smelled like mildew. I called the front desk several times but nobody ever picked up.It took minimum of 30 minutes to wait for an elevator because most of the elevators didnt work.

From a week ago:

Rooms need renovations. Wi-Fi is abysmal. Resort fee for closed pool and broken WiFi

I think that I will pay up for the Hilton instead! ($25 resort fee, but it doesn’t feel like as much of a scam because the room itself is $122)

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The Money Illusion in the Wall Street Journal

Here’s an article from the people who claim that they’re smart about money:

As in many states, more Alaskans are without shelter due to rising housing costs. Average home values in Anchorage have grown 20% since 2019 to about $377,000, according to Zillow.

“grown 20%”? The BLS says that inflation since 2019 is about 22 percent:

So the average home value in Anchorage is, in real dollars, less than it was in 2019 (and yet lower if we think that official CPI understates our lived experience of inflation). This shows how powerful the Money Illusion is, even for journalists and editors whose job is to write about money.

Separately, how many of the homeless have documents that are sufficient to get through TSA screening?

Some are being offered one-way tickets to the Lower 48 states. “My focus is keeping people from freezing to death,” said Anchorage Mayor Dave Bronson.

What’s the budget impact of this? If Anchorage sends a homeless person to San Francisco, Anchorage pays $500 for the plane ticket and San Francisco pays over $100,000 per year. (It was $106,500 per homeless individual in 2021 dollars, according to Hoover.)

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