Sunday, March 3, 2019


What they're saying about Jim's provocative blog:

--"Джим - забавный парень, но он не Яков Смирнов!" (Jim's a funny guy, but he's no Yakof Smirnoff!  Nyet!")--Vladimir Putin
--"Я думаю, мы могли бы использовать такого парня, как Джим."  (I think we could use a guy like Jim!)--Sergey Kislyak, Russian ambassador to the United States.
--"He's from this country, Mexicans don't read him, so that's good enough for me."--Donald Trump
--"The one thing I didn't delete from my private server."--Hillary Clinton
--"Jimaschizzle!"--Calvin Cordozar Broadus, Jr. (aka Snoop Dogg)
--"The one thing I DO read!"--Sarah Palin
--"The most fun you can have with your clothes on (but DO take a shower afterwards)."--Dick Cavett

jimjustselling . . .

(Actually, I'm not, but the good folks at HenschelHAUS are. And they're now offering FREE SHIPPING IN THE CONTINENTAL U.S.

The book is also available at:


By Jim Szantor

Rhetorical questions, questionable rhetoric and whimsical observations 
about the absurdities of contemporary life
  • If Starbucks  mogul Howard Schultz  becomes president, who will be the Secretary of Laptop Hoboes?  
  • Overheard: "I love Mardi Gras with every bead of my heart."
  • Lent:  A period when people try to be virtuous not because they want to but because somebody said they're supposed to.  Six weeks later, normal life resumes.  (As in . . . End Road Work.)
  • Morning in America:  Predator priests are at long last being thrown in jail, teenagers are vaping to an alarming degree, and President Trump finished his two-day tour of duty in Vietnam.  (No medal was awarded.)
  • Would it be fair to say there is a wall between Donald Trump and the truth?
  • I don't know about you, but I'm putting Justin Smollett and Roger Stone in the MFATWR category:  Memorable For All The Wrong Reasons.
  • I didn't watch the Academy Awards but probably should have.  I missed what was probably my only lifetime opportunity to see Lady Gaga and Spike Lee on the same stage.   No injuries were reported, and no arrests were made.
  • jimjustsaying's Book Title of the Month:  "Lost But Making Good Time," by veteran studio trumpeter Ollie Mitchell.
  • Basketball blather:
  • Say it isn't so:  That it's the time of year when folks who don't know a jump shot from jicama have to "fill out their brackets."  This was especially hilarious when a woman who picked the teams based on nicknames and uniform colors won our office pool.  
  • How much commercial productivity is lost due to this ludicrous exercise? March Madness, indeed.   This "wrong of spring" has gotten way out of hand.  If all the  dilettantes donate their office pool money to charity, the world would be a better place.  But that would be a March Miracle.
  • jimjustsaying's Basketball Barb of the Month:  It has been said that the NCAA tournament is played largely by a bunch of juniors and seniors who weren't good enough to jump to the pros.  That's a March Matter of Fact.
  • Latin America now has 153.  The U.S. still has the highest number.  Of what?  Answer elsewhere in this blog.
  • Overheard:  “I hate to spread rumors, but what else can you do with them?”
  • Press Gaffe of the Month:  "An eight-and-a-half-pound daughter came into the world to frighten the home of Mr. and Mrs. Brown.--Greenville (Ohio) Advocate.  ("Still More Press Boners," compiled by Earle Tempel.)
  • Director/actor Terry ("Monty Python") Gilliam on sci-fi films:  "They always seem to focus on futuristic technology.  But the world is always a mixture of technologies.  I've got an iPhone, which is more powerful than the computer that put a man on the Moon.  It's extraordinary.  At the same time, we've got  leaky 19th Century plumbing."
  • Cut-rate kittens!  (and Another Animal Breed I Didn't Know Existed Until I Saw it Mentioned in a Newspaper Classified Ad):  Tonkinese.  ("Adorable and Gorgeous," Normally $400, Special: $175.)  
  • Wait, there's more, as they say:  Another Dog Breed I Didn't Know Existed Until I Saw It Listed in a Newspaper Classified Ad:  Chiweenie,  which, it turns out, is not a purebred dog but a cross between the chihuahua and the dachshund.   
  • "I would love to be eaten by animals, because I eat animals , and I'm an animal, and when I die they get to eat me.  That seems only fair."--Mortician/author Caitlin Doughty
  • jimjustsaying's Party Ice-Breaker of the Month:  "Nanojuice is an ingestible fluid containing colored nanoparticles, administered to diagnose disorders in the gastro-intestinal tract.  The tiny particles vibrate when pulsed with laser light, creating pressure waves that reveal intestinal activity in real time." 
  • jimjustsaying's Newspaper Headline Nickname of the Month:  Itsie.  As in Albert "Itsie" Elmer Krause, Door County Advocate obituary, March 2, 2019.  R.I.P., Mr. Krause.
  • You know you're dealing with incompetent fraudsters when their Web site ends with dot.con.
  • (Latin vs. U.S. answer:  Billionaires.)
  • Today's Latin Lesson: Potest pulsat hostium.  ("Kicking the can down the road.")


Tech's cold war turns hot as giants cross boundaries
The most valuable companies in the world--Apple, Google, Facebook, Amazon--mostly stayed in their own lanes as they grew into giants.  Now they’re increasingly clashing as their growing ambitions bump into one another.

Once upon a time, Amazon was largely a retail store, Apple sold hardware, Google was a search engine, and Facebook was an online social network.  None of the companies is confined by those definitions any more.  They spill over into one another's territory even as they depend on each other to greater and lesser degrees. Facebook and Amazon, for example, both distribute their consumer apps through the Google Play and Apple app stores.  Google, Facebook and Apple all rely to some degree on their products being sold through Amazon, despite each also having tensions with the retail giant.

The rivalries:  Google and Amazon had vastly different origins but are increasingly rivals:  They compete in cloud computing, advertising and other areas.  Amazon and Apple have fought but are finding more common ground.   Google and Facebook together control the lion's share of the online ad business.

The bottom line:  Tension is likely to outweigh cooperation, especially as each of the four companies seeks to convince regulators that the others are the ones in need of reining in.
--Ina Fried, Axios AM chief tech correspondent

Don’t take your boss’s counteroffer
Announcing plans to leave a job and then deciding to stay because of a counteroffer is usually a mistake.   Senior executives and human resource leaders surveyed on the topic estimated that accepting a current employer’s counteroffer “will work out well in only 5 percent to 25 percent of cases.”  Nearly 40 percent said it would have an adverse effect on one’s career. The biggest consequence:  diminished trust and compromised reputation, both at the employee’s current company and at the spurned company whose offer was initially accepted.  Other consequences include a boss who may feel blackmailed and colleagues who resent what they see as special treatment.
--Kelly Kay and Michael Cullen, Harvard Business Review

Women aren’t always better bosses
If only women could escape from working for bullying, sexist male bosses, they could enter “feminist utopia.” That  is a fallacy that is now being exploded.  [Recently]  two news organizations reported that Sen. Amy Klobuchar, a Minnesota Democrat who is running for president, is known as a verbally abusive, demeaning boss whose demands have created the highest staff turnover rate in the Senate.  

She’s hardly unique.  Many women-centric organizations such as Planned Parenthood, The New York Times [has] reported, have earned terrible reputations as places to work, with female bosses even discriminating against pregnant employees. Women who work at the Center for Reproductive Rights have told me their female bosses foster “a culture of bullying” workers; online reviews say the organization has a “toxic” atmosphere.  Feminists often assume women bosses, “by the virtue of their gender, to be better than men--especially in their treatment of other women.  But the reality is that there are “good women and bad women,” and some women will turn out to be “liars, horrible bosses, inept managers, and disappointing political leaders.” Expecting half the population to be “saint-like” creates an “unattainable standard” and does women no service.
--Karol Markowicz, New York Post

Can extinct species be resurrected?
Using DNA technology, scientists are working on re-creating species that have disappeared.  The technology, called “de-extinction,” is likely at least a decade off, although there are a few possible ways to go about it.  The first, “back-breeding,” involves mating examples of a living species with traits similar to the extinct species.  The second option is cloning—famously attempted in 2009 using the DNA of an extinct Pyrenean ibex and its closest living cousin, the common goat. (The offspring lived only seven minutes.)  The third option is to edit the genes of an extinct species’ closest living analog to obtain an approximation.  Such work is now underway with the passenger pigeon and woolly mammoth.  

“If you’re willing to accept something that is an elephant that has a few mammoth genes,” said Beth Shapiro, an evolutionary biologist, “we’re probably closer to that.”  But don’t expect to see a Tyrannosaurus rex or velociraptor like the ones in Jurassic Park.  De-extinction requires an extinct species’ DNA, and that molecule of life only lasts about a million years before degrading.  Dinosaur DNA would be far older.
--The Week

What socialism really means
[The]  semantic argument is missing the point.  Few Democrats advocate that the government seize and operate private industry; when they use the term “democratic socialist” or “Green New Deal,” they are thinking of Franklin Roosevelt’s attempts to save capitalism from its excesses.  Progressives are advocating addressing the nation’s massive income inequality, through better access to health care, higher taxes on the wealthiest, and job-creation efforts for struggling Americans.  But please,  let’s not call these ideas “socialist.” It just distorts and confuses a very important debate.
--Cass Sunstein,

Humans still out-argue machines
Can a computer out-argue a top-ranked human debater.  The answer, for this week at least, was no. In front of an audience of hundreds, Harish Natarajan, the grand finalist of the 2016 World Debating Championship, battled IBM’s Debater program over whether the government should subsidize preschool.  It turned out that humans can still prevail when it comes to the subtleties of knowledge, persuasion, and argument.  Each side was given 15 minute--enough time for the computer to analyze a database of 10 billion sentences--to prepare arguments.  The winner was determined by who could get more members of the audience to change their minds.  Natarajan, arguing against subsidies, won handily, though the moderator called IBM Debater “surprisingly charming and human-sounding.
--Stephen Shankland,

The good old tax days
Did the biggest earners of the 1950s--Hollywood stars--really pay taxes at the then-going top rate of 91 percent?  Not so much.  Thanks to a tax code that was full of loopholes, the top 0.01 percent--which then meant entertainers like Bob Hope and Bing Crosby, rather than hedge fund managers--actually paid half that.  One dodge was to defer income, as William Holden did when he made The Bridge on the River Kwai, taking his percentage of the gross, which totaled millions, in annual $50,000 increments. Many actors received fees through temporary corporations, taxed at around 50 percent.  And a law reducing rates on income generated by oil wells turned many an actor into an oil investor, including Jimmy Stewart, Gene Autry and Frank Sinatra, who fittingly titled his first oil well Crooner No. 1.
--Joe Nocera,

The EU is becoming irrelevant
Europe’s biggest problem is not Donald Trump’s contempt for our trans-Atlantic allies.  The European Union, once seen by America’s intellectual class as an economic powerhouse that could challenge the U.S. and China for global supremacy, is in decline. Unlike the U.S. and China, the Eurozone has never truly recovered from the 2008 economic crisis, with an anemic growth rate of 0.6 percent from 2009 to 2017.  Not only is the U.K. exiting the EU, but many of the bloc’s other members are deeply troubled: Far-right and far-left populists are trying and failing to jointly govern Italy, whose economy has been steadily shrinking, and the gilets jaunes revolt has shaken Emmanuel Macron’s reform efforts in France.
Meanwhile, Trump “is hurling rhetorical firebombs across the Atlantic” and praising autocrats like Hungary’s Viktor Orban.  None of this is good for U.S. interests.  A strong Europe is necessary for stability, a check on Putin’s Russia, and the healthy markets that  American companies need for growth.  But Europe is becoming increasingly fractured and irrelevant as a world power.  As pro-EU philanthropist George Soros warned [recently], the EU is about to go the way of the Soviet Union in 1991.
--Walter Russell Mead, Wall Street Journal

Gut bacteria and mental health
Scientists have found that microbes in the gut may have an impact on mental health, raising the possibility that probiotics could be used to treat depression.  Researchers in Belgium examined the medical records of more than 1,000 people who took part in the Flemish Gut Flora Project, and found that levels of two groups of bacteria--Coprococcus and Dialister--were lower in participants with depression.  What’s more, higher levels of Coprococcus and another genus, Faecalibacterium, were more common in participants who claimed to have a high mental quality of life.  Faecalibacterium and Coprococcus are both known to produce compounds with anti-inflammatory properties, which suggests inflammation might play a role in mood disorders.  More research is needed to confirm whether the absence of these bugs causes, or is caused by, depression.  But co-author Jeroen Raes says the findings could pave the way for the use of probiotics--blends of supposedly beneficial bacteria--in treating mental health.  “If depressed people really are missing these bacteria,” he said, “the future outlook is developing these as so-called psychobiotics.”

Milwaukee’s bobblehead museum
Everyone has a passion, and for Phil Sklar and Brad Novak, the passion is bobbleheads.      Twelve years after the two friends started collecting the wobbly-headed figurines, they decided to quit their day jobs and create a bobblehead museum in Milwaukee’s Walker’s Point neighborhood.  They now have more than 6,500 on display and 10,000 in their collection, easily eclipsing the previous record holder.  There are a huge number of sports figurines, of course, including many of the first baseball and football bobbleheads from the early 1960s.  Add to that countless colorful characters from Star Wars, The Wizard of Oz, and beyond.  Best of all, the museum sells custom bobbleheads and teaches visitors how they’re made.  As Sklar explains, the founders’ motivation was simple:  “There are so many negative things going on. We need more places to escape and have a good time.”
--Carrie Antlfinger, Associated Press

Competent people answer their emails
We’re all overwhelmed with email.  But ignoring personal email is just plain rude--it’s “digital snubbery.”  And a growing body of evidence suggests that if you care about your job, your inbox should be a priority.  

When researchers examined the digital habits of teams at Microsoft, they found that the clearest warning sign of an ineffective manager was being slow to answer emails   By contrast, responding in a timely manner shows that you are conscientious--organized, dependable, and hardworking.

Yes, we’ve all read the study showing that spending too much time on email can make you less productive.  Except that applies only when email isn’t central to your job.  And let’s face it: These days email is central to most jobs.  If you have too much on your plate, come clean and say, “I don’t have the bandwidth to add this.” If you want to say no, just say no.  You can even set up an auto reply to give people another channel to reach you, such as a Slack channel or Twitter.  But whatever boundaries you set, you can’t just ignore your inbox; that’s like not answering the phone in the 1990s, or not answering letters in the 1950s.  If you’re habitually too busy to reply to legitimate emails, there’s a problem. It sends a signal that you’re disorganized--or that you just don’t care.
--Adam Grant, New York Times

Breakfast and weight loss
“Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper,” goes the old adage. Yet new research suggests the first meal of the day isn’t as important as many believe--throwing into question the widely held belief that eating breakfast promotes weight loss by jump-starting the metabolism.  Australian researchers analyzed 13 previous studies relating to breakfast, weight, and calorie intake in the U.S. and other high-income countries.  They found that those who ate breakfast actually consumed 260 more calories on average than those who didn’t, reports, and were nearly a pound heavier.  They saw no significant difference in metabolic rates between breakfast eaters and abstainers. 

The analysis has its flaws: The trials examined ran for a maximum of only 16 weeks and mostly didn’t factor in the types of food eaten by participants.  The authors also acknowledge that breakfast is beneficial for children.  But for adults, they conclude, there’s no evidence to support the notion that breakfast consumption promotes weight loss.


Pay reparations for slavery?
Any such action would be inadequate

Arresting Robert Kraft won't help end sex trafficking
Globally, sex workers make up only 1 of 5 people trapped in involuntary servitude 

Don't expand Social Security
The elderly are NOT an impoverished lot

Why the U.S. will never have high-speed rail
Our infrastructure and legal system aren't up to the task

How the drug industry funds ‘experts’ to block lower prices
Big Pharma dresses wolves in sheep's clothing to keep drug prices high