2023-07 Dividend Income Report

Here is the dividend income report for July, 2023.

The monthly dividend income came out to $474.08. The yearly income total for 2023 through the end of the month was $6280.19.

The income for July, 2022 was $213.12, and the yearly income for 2022 through the end of July was $5916.53.

There is not a whole lot to report this month. My income is still growing nicely. I contributed funds to my Roth IRA last year, but I have not bought anything in the past year. I put some RWR into both of my IRA accounts in 2022. So the income growth is due to more dividends buying more shares. My employment situation is up in the air right now. If I have to leave my current employer, I will be up a creek WRT paying my bills. But I will be able to rollover my Roth 401K, and then I will start raking in bucks that I cannot touch for another ten years or so.

One thing that I have been spending time on is making Org mode files to keep track of artists for this site. I took the Wikipedia pages that categorized artists by country and century, and made them into an Org tree. I did not do all countries and all centuries, just France, Greece, Italy, Portugal, Russia and Spain from the 12th to the 19th centuries. A couple of those countries did not have anything until about halfway through. I aleady had some notes for the artists that I had used and I incorporated those.

Here is a table with the year-to-date amounts, the monthly amounts, and the three- and twelve-month moving averages for each July from the beginning of my records through 2023:

Month YTD Amount 3MMA 12MMA
2023-07 $6280.19 $474.08 $1229.50 $1045.79
2022-07 $5916.53 $213.12 $1172.98 $1000.53
2021-07 $4861.65 $199.25 $840.85 $898.84
2020-07 $4617.10 $209.33 $781.84 $898.46
2019-07 $4309.94 $58.79 $818.06 $696.65
2018-07 $2921.94 $736.90 $548.35 $584.94
2017-07 $3439.61 $331.08 $541.56 $541.54
2016-07 $3017.64 $273.36 $464.99 $484.27
2015-07 $2678.45 $263.13 $412.44 $415.35
2014-07 $2132.33 $198.43 $333.77 $322.07
2013-07 $1673.29 $180.57 $258.23 $288.65
2012-07 $1794.53 $219.72 $261.24 $277.53
2011-07 $1556.17 $204.83 $235.96 $211.69

Here are the securities and the income amounts for July, 2023:

  • Vanguard Utilities ETF: $262.73
  • Vanguard Total Bond Market ETF: $193.31
  • Vanguard Total International Bond ETF: $18.04


Big Jim was having WordPress issues while publishing this post, and does not have anything witty at the moment.

Painting of The Bronze Horseman by Vasily Surikov (1848-1916); image from Wikimedia, image assumed to be under public domain.

Payment Totals

When I make a payment on my credit card, I tend to pay in incrementing amounts that I reset every month.

I think I started this a while back when some accounts were new, and I wanted to make a smaller payment so I did not lose too much money if something was wrong. I still do not like making big payments, and it gives me a quick way to check how much money I have spent in a month. Plus if I make small payments then I am logging into my credit card company’s website every few days which gives me a chance to double check that there no charges I did not authorize.

Payment Total
101 101
102 203
103 306
104 410
105 515
106 621
107 728
108 836
109 945
110 1055
111 1166
112 1278
113 1391
114 1505
115 1620
116 1736
117 1853
118 1971
119 2090
120 2210
121 2331
122 2453
123 2576
124 2700
125 2825
126 2951
127 3078
128 3206
129 3335
130 3465

Big Jim likes process because it makes life easier to manage because it gives him less to keep track of.

Image by 19th-century French painter Cornelius Ary Renan (1857–1900); image from Wikimedia, assumed allowed under public domain.

Instructions For Steel Cut Oats

I am trying to improve my diet. I have heard that steel cut oats are good for you, so I am going to start eating more of them.

My local grocer, HEB, sells them in a cardboard can. They are good. However, the instructions are written in a small gold font on a black background, which makes them hard to read. I have no idea who decided on that color scheme. What makes it more irritating is that some things are printed in a white font, and those are easier to read, and (I would argue) not as important as the instructions.

  1. Bring 3/4 cup of water to a boil.
  2. Stir in 1/4 cup of oats.
  3. Reduce heat to low, simmer uncovered for 5 to 7 minutes, stirring regularly.
  4. Remove from heat, and allow to stand for 1 minute before serving.


Given the prevalence of low-contrast text on a lot of websites (and now products), I have to wonder how UI/UX people got to be so stupid. And unlike a browser, a can from a grocery store does not have a reader mode.

The Ecstasy of Saint Paul by Nicolas Poussin (1594 – 1665); image from Wikimedia, assumed allowed under Fair Use.

More Thoughts On Russian Invasion of Ukraine

I have a few more thoughts on the Russian invasion of Ukraine: It proves that Putin is probably one of the stupidest people who has ever lived, and China should think long and hard about invading Taiwan.

Russia thought it had a good army. It did have a few conflicts that it seemed to win; granted, its enemies were worse than they were, and they usually did a lot of bombing and human rights violations (kind of like they are doing in Ukraine). But they seemed to think because they defeated weaker militaries in countries with a fraction of Russian’s population that they knew what they were doing. The Ukrainian military in 2014 was worse than Russia’s, with even older equipment, but they learned their lesson and have been preparing. A lot of people think Ukraine is more corrupt, yet somehow they are able to train and equip their soldiers. Meanwhile, Russia is sending obese and aging convicts to the front with toy rifles. If only the oligarchs could throw their mistresses’ fur coats at the Ukraine army, then this would be over very quickly.

If any leader should win a war, it is a former spy. Not because I think that spies are military geniuses. Their job is to get an accurate assessment of a situation, particularly when other people are trying to mislead you. Perhaps Putin got so caught up in spreading lies in the West he forgot how to detect liars in Russia.

Aren’t spies supposed to know what the situation is on the ground? Putin was wrong about the readiness of the Russian and Ukrainian militaries, the sentiments of the peoples of Russia and Ukraine, and the response from the international community. In other words, just about everything.

The Russian gov had press releases ready to go before the invasion with dates two or three days later congratulating the Russian army for liberating Ukraine. There were screenshots of them posted to twitter. Now there are rumors that Putin is preparing to use nuclear weapons. There have been much longer wars throughout history, but from press releases to doomsday weapons in seven months is something.

Putin keeps saying Ukraine is part of Russia, but Ukrainians say they are a separate country, language and ethnicity. To non-Slavs, Slavs all look and sound alike. To them, they are all as different as night and day. Kind of like Scandinavians look to the rest of us. I have not met too many Ukrainians, but they were all insistent that Ukrainians are not Russian. But like I said, to me, as a non-Slav, they seem the same. Maybe Putin’s problem is he does not know any Slavic people. If you have any thoughts on how the President of Russia can get in contact with some Slavs, let me know. Either the few Ukrainians I have met were part of a conspiracy to fool little old me, or Putin knows less about Slavs than I do.

And let’s never forget: A lot of conservatives still think that Putin is the smart one and Biden is senile and doesn’t know what he is doing. They never look at evidence. Some pro-Russian supporters say that Russia is tricking Ukraine, and they will “release the kraken” soon. Why didn’t Russia start out that way? I hereby propose Dugin’s Law: If someone’s plans are going badly, and they or their supporters keep saying “Just wait” or they are playing Nth dimensional chess and you just can’t see it, they are idiots.

I think it’s funny that some pro-Russian people say that Ukraine is winning because of help from NATO; the implication is that getting help from NATO is unfair. Maybe Putin should have foreseen that; Trump tells us Putin is a really smart guy. If we are going to argue about that is fair, Ukrainians would say that the whole invasion is unfair. People forced to fight for their lives are not going to care about fairness.

As far as China goes, given that Russia was wrong about everything even though they have fought more conflicts than China has in the past 40 years, China should take a long, hard look at its miliary to make sure it can do whatever mission it is sent on.

Russia faced some outclassed opponents, but they have fought some actual land battles in the past few decades. When was the last time China tried a sustained conflict? I think that was the last time they invaded Vietnam in the late 1970s. I read somewhere China did not even give some of their soldiers guns, they just sent wave after wave of bodies against the Vietnamese. Vietnam had to ask to start peace negotiations because they were running out of bullets. China has had a few small skirmishes with India, but nothing major since then. Nothing as large as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Building a bunch of fake islands will not help China take over a real one filled with people who do not want to be part of mainland China. China should make sure their equipment works, their food is less than a decade old, and not send their elderly to an unwinnable war.


It is amazing to me that people who call Ukraine “the Ukraine” will call The Hague just “Hague”. I don’t know why there is a city with the definite article. Perhaps there were professional wrestlers in medieval Europe.

“Ladies and gentlemen, weighing in with a population of half a million, the International Court of Justice, and several multi-national corporations, give it up for….The Hague!!”

“We’re The Hague, and we’re gonna kick Rotter-god-dam’s ass!!”

Big Jim says: Do not conflate the way things actually are with the way you want things to be. Reality has better stamina and determination than you do.

Painting by 13th-14th century Italian painter Rinaldo da Taranto, image from Wikimedia, assumed allowed under public domain .

2021-10 Dividend Income Report

Here is the dividend income report for October, 2021.

The monthly dividend income came out to $465.25. The yearly income total for 2021 through the end of the month was $7376.87.

The income for October 2020 was $195.26, and the yearly income for 2020 through the end of October was $6854.28.

Once again, VPU was late. I am still considering getting another utility ETF.

I have started using Org Mode again. I have not gotten to listening to any conference calls, but that is coming up soon.

I recently found out about the Morningstar Wide Moat Index, which is pretty much what it sounds like. There is also an ETF for the index run by Van Eck. Per their site, “Moat investing is based on a simple concept: Invest in companies with sustainable competitive advantages trading at attractive valuations.” I think the term originated with Warren Buffett. Another good definition of a “wide moat” is high barriers to entry. (Also see other pages at this link and this link.)

One good way to find good stocks is to let someone else do the work. There are a few dividend achievers in the wide moat index. Granted, I will not just take their ideas without considering them. I don’t know what their methodology is. Morningstar has a PDF on their site with their rules on selection for the index, but they are not too helpful. They select companies based on “fair value” (which I could probably calculate myself) and with “an economic moat rating of wide by Morningstar’s Equity Research team”. How they come up with a rating of “wide” is not really explained. Sort of like the index used in a Vanguard fund that had “additional proprietary eligibility”.

I do question some of their selections. Wells Fargo was in the index until recently. Is cheating customers, getting dragged in front of Congress and replacing your CEO a wide moat? Another member is Boeing. Again, I don’t know what a “wide moat” would be in aviation, but I am guessing building planes that cannot stay in the sky is not it.

However, there are a few companies in the index that are also dividend achievers:

  • BMY Bristol-Myers Squibb Co
  • CHRW Ch Robinson Worldwide Inc
  • CMCSA Comcast Corp
  • EMR Emerson Electric Co
  • GD General Dynamics Corp
  • GILD Gilead Sciences Inc
  • ICE Intercontinental Exchange Inc
  • INTC Intel Corp
  • K Kellogg Co
  • KLAC Kla Corp
  • KO Coca-Cola Co
  • LMT Lockheed Martin Corp
  • LRCX Lam Research Corp
  • MAS Masco Corp
  • MCD Mcdonald’s Corp
  • MCHP Microchip Technology Inc
  • MDT Medtronic Plc
  • MO Altria Group Inc
  • MRK Merck & Co Inc
  • MSFT Microsoft Corp
  • PFE Pfizer Inc
  • PII Polaris Inc
  • PM Philip Morris International Inc
  • ROP Roper Technologies Inc
  • RTX Raytheon Technologies Corp
  • STZ Constellation Brands Inc
  • WU Western Union Co


Here is a table with the year-to-date amounts, the monthly amounts, and the three- and twelve-month moving averages for each October from 2011 through 2021:

Month YTD Amount 3MMA 12MMA
2021-10 $7376.87 $465.25 $838.41 $922.01
2020-10 $6854.28 $195.26 $745.73 $879.26
2019-10 $6777.52 $291.83 $822.53 $761.86
2018-10 $4606.91 $1130.39 $561.66 $583.77
2017-10 $5138.63 $341.83 $566.34 $556.11
2016-10 $4541.79 $281.09 $508.05 $496.43
2015-10 $4056.72 $312.23 $459.42 $438.15
2014-10 $3236.89 $243.87 $368.19 $340.32
2013-10 $2558.86 $184.81 $295.19 $291.08
2012-10 $2650.92 $225.14 $285.46 $284.35
2011-10 $2330.68 $208.90 $258.17 $238.44

Here are the securities and the income amounts for October, 2021:

  • Vanguard Utilities ETF: $266.09
  • Vanguard Total Bond Market ETF: $130.54
  • Vanguard Total International Bond ETF: $8.39
  • Global X S&P 500 Covered Call ETF: $37.36
  • Gladstone Land: $22.87


Big Jim does not like the Gutenberg editor.

“The Immaculate Conception” by Anton Raphael Mengs (22 March 1728 – 29 June 1779), image from Museo Del Prado, assumed allowed under Public Domain.

Thoughts On NCIS: New Orleans

Tomorrow the final episode of NCIS: New Orleans will be broadcast. Right now it is my favorite show in the NCIS franchise, and I am upset that it is ending, and that it is the first one to end.

Ratings are down, but they are also down for NCIS: Los Angeles, and frankly I think that show has been a mess since Linda Hunt reduced her involvement. Deeks is my least favorite character, and for what felt like the longest time, Agent Blye would be partnered up for the episode with every federal agent they had run into during the show. One time it was a CIA agent, and they are not supposed to operate in the USA. Sometimes Deeks was not in the episode at all, sometimes he was at the base for some strange reason. It seemed to take forever for them to decide if Fatima Namazi was in or out, yet they made up their minds about Agent Roundtree right away. And I am getting tired of Gerald McRaney’s grumpy old man schtick.

The original NCIS is also going through some changes. A lot of people on the subreddit did not like Kasie Hines. At first I did not like her either, but she has grown on me. I think they brought her in badly. First she was helping Duckie write his book. Then after Pauley Perrette left, it just so happens that Kasie has a degree in criminal forensics. A book editor who just happens to have the degree to fill the job that just became empty; what an amazing coincidence. Maybe the producers liked Diona Reasonover, and decided to bring her in any way they could think of. I like the character of McGee, but they way they brought him in also felt a bit forced.

Granted, it could have been even worse: I don’t have a degree in criminal forensics, but my twin sister does!

WRT Gibbs getting suspended: That character has been though a lot, and you never know what will be the straw that breaks the camel’s back, and I know Mark Harmon can’t do this forever, but I can’t help thinking: Really Gibbs? Is this the hill you want to die on?

Torres is not my favorite character, but I am blown away by the fact that this is the same actor who was Fez on That 70s Show. Years ago some friends and I watched both of the Steve Martin Father Of The Bride films, and then we watched Seven Years In Tibet. I think if you watch those films close together, BD Wong will blow you away.

I think a good place NCIS could have gone out on top was after Gibbs and McGee busted out of Paraguay. McGee had just had kids, and Gibbs could have said that enough was enough.

There will be a new NCIS series filmed in Hawaii called NCIS: Hawai’i. I had read that one of the reasons that NCISNOLA was being cancelled was that it was more expensive to film in New Orleans that Los Angeles (since a lot of the entertainment industry is in LA), but I have heard that everything is more expensive in Hawai’i. Granted, one of the producers of NCISNOLA had to be let go because he was a bit handsy with the ladies. Per the subreddit, someone was also negligent WRT permits. At least once (and possibly multiple times) the NOLA police showed up and drew guns on the actors while filming robbery scenes, and there are a few lawsuits about this going through the courts.

There were several episodes about Pride’s weird dreams. I thought it would be cool if he dreamed he was captain of Enterprise. He could wander through the ship. They could bring back LaSalle to be Trip. They both have Southern accents, and they look a bit alike, and their relationships to Bakula’s characters on each show was similar. Agent Khoury could be T’Pol. Carter was always distant (until recently); he would be good as Reed. One thing I liked about Reed on Enterprise is that they managed to use him several times, yet he always seemed remote and distant.

Maybe I am going with this because they are both black, but Triple P could be in Travis’ station. Their personalities are different, but they were both good at what they do. Another one that would be good for contrast is Gregorio as Hoshi Sato. “I hailed them, and told them to go eff themselves”. Then Pride/Archer goes to sick bay and finds Sebastian. Somehow he seems the most similar to Phlox. Pride/Archer is confused by Sebastian’s stream of consciousness. Then Loretta walks in and asks Dwayne what he is doing in sick bay.

Big Jim always thought of “NCIS: New Orleans” as “Mardi Gras With Captain Archer”.

Image from Memory Alpha, resized for this site, copyright owned by CBS, assumed allowed under Fair Use.

Notes On Idea Lists

I have been doing the idea list again, since about May. I really do not feel any different, or that my life is about to change.

Overall, it has been going well, but I have been losing some momentum in the past couple of weeks. Coming up with topics is still pretty hard. I kind of feel I am at the same place I was the last two times I tried it, it just took me longer to get here.

The main issue is topics for the idea list. JA never mentions that is the hardest part. In one post he does give tips (reading a lot, see here) and I have to admit I have not followed all of them.

Some of the idea lists that I come up with are kind of dumb, like I’m a bad comedy writer. But sometimes when I get to number 9 I come up with something interesting. (And when I do, I agonize over whether or not I can quit, or if I should do a tenth).

I make idea lists about why to do something, and sometimes why not to do something. Sometimes coming with reasons not to do something might be a good way to anticipate counterarguments to a suggestion at work, or a way to anticipate obstacles.
Sometimes I will see someone doing something, or who just looks interesting, or something that irritates me, and I will come up with ten or so ideas about that person’s history, or why they are doing whatever they are doing.

Sometimes I will combine things. Or I will get words from a passphrase generator, and come up with how they are related. That is not always very fruitful.

I try to keep a list of possible topics. I try to work on it once a week. Sometimes a possible topic will occur to me and I will write it down. It may be changing how I observe things, but I don’t feel like my list is on the cusp of a big change.

A couple of months back, I was thinking about giving up. I went to Whataburger for lunch, and I saw a car that had been painted over several times. In the layer under the top, someone spray-painted “Elvis” several times all over the car. The top layer was gold. And there was a mannequin in the backseat. I thought, “I can use this.”

If I lived in Florida, I could just follow Florida Man.

I know James wrote that his idea lists have gotten him invites to speak from companies, but I have found that sometimes people do not want suggestions. People do not want things to change. I work on a large Java app for a state government. The base application is about ten years old. Java has changed a lot in ten years. It is less verbose and less painful to work with. At least, that is what I have heard. Would re-writing the app be a pain? Yes, but then it is a pain to use. What does this have to do with idea list? Management is not open to the best solution (and I am not the only one who thinks starting over might be the best solution). But writing more, smaller apps, tools, and utilities to manage the main application they are okay with. The problem is this adds more complexity. They are okay with adding more apps and processes to what we do than actually change what we are doing. The sunk cost fallacy is a stronger force than compound interest.

While it is frustrating, on another level I can understand it. People generally do not like someone dropping out of the sky and giving unsolicited advice. It makes you look like a jerk, not an enlightened person.

Maybe I should spend more time on actual issues in my life. Unless that leads to frustration.

I took a creative writing course when I was at WIU. She once mentioned that in one of her classes, she had to make links between different topics in her life. If she had learned something in a physics class, and she was in love with “someone” (her word, not mine), she had to think of a way they related to one another.

Another issue is that I think in order to have new ideas, you need to expose yourself to new things. But I want more control over my life, and the way I see it, that means more discipline, more routine.

Big Jim’s idea machine might be running out of steam.

Painting of the Nativity by Guido of Siena (13th Century), assumed allowed under Fair Use.

Thoughts On Startups And Cisco

I know a couple of guys at Cisco who were brought in as part of an acquisition. They are members of a couple of meetups I attend. Their ranting about corporate culture sparked some thoughts about corporations and startups. I think there are a lot of things about the world that are the result of choices that were made before us, and not immutable laws of nature. Innovation can only happen in startups and corporations must be inflexible behemoths are two of those ideas.

This made me think of an article on Wolf Street: Cisco Buys 45th Company in 5 Years, Revenues Still Stagnate.  The title gives the basic idea of the article. From 2012 to 2017, Cisco bought 45 companies. Cisco has not disclosed the prices for all of those acquisitions. For 19 of them, it spent $18.2 billion.

We do not have an alternative reality to compare to ours. Perhaps the acquisitions are the only thing that prevented Cisco’s revenue from declining. Nevertheless, here is a table with revenue and income from 2010 to 2019 (in millions):

FY Revenue Net Income
2019 51,904 11,621
2018 49,330 110
2017 48,005 9,609
2016 49,247 10,739
2015 49,161 8,981
2014 47,142 7,853
2013 48,607 9,983
2012 46,061 8,041
2011 43,218 6,490
2010 40,040 7,767


I don’t know why income took a dive in 2018. It has gone up over the decade. But as the Wolf man says, it does not look like they got a great rate of return on their investments in acquisitions. Cisco spent billions on startups, and really has nothing to show for it.

Why not just hire people to expand? It might have cost less.

In my understanding of the VC world, not every investment makes a profit. An exit must cover the cost of the failed startups as well as cost of successful startups, in addition to a profit. And a new car or boat for the jackass VCs. (And there might even be a sexual harassment settlement in there as well.) Maybe the cost of the failed companies is not a line item in an acquisition agreement or IPO prospectus, but those costs are still embedded in an exit.

Instead of a big corporation acquiring one profitable startup from a VC that also has to make up for nine failed startups, why can’t big corporations start a dozen or so project teams, and shift people into the ones that are successful? When a corporation acquires a startup or a startup has an IPO, a lot of the upside has already happened. Why not keep some for yourself? Where does this idea that innovation can only happen at startups come from?

I think that like needing a car outside of a big city in the USA (and even in some big cities), a lot of people think that this is some immutable law of nature. I think this is the result of many, many choices, even some that were made for us that we do not know about. Maybe changing it would be next to impossible. Maybe Texas will never get mass transit. (Because nothing says “freedom!!” like spending an hour every day going 10 MPH when the speed limit is 60.) Just because things are this way does not mean things have to be this way. I think this is an example of the Is-ought fallacy.

My Meetup acquaintance have said things like, “Cisco would not have let us do this in language X or with library Y if the project started there.” If that were true, then that would be a choice. There is no reason that an internal team cannot try something in a new programming language. There might be people in the company who would like to try new technology. If a corporation is willing to buy a team that uses a new language, they should be willing to let internal teams have the same freedom.

Except Scala. It really is vile.

Some big corporations used to have research labs: PARC is still a part of Xerox. It may not be much now, but Xerox was one of the biggest companies in the world. (Carl Icahn got a hold of Xerox, so things are not going too well.)  Bell Labs is now part of Nokia. A lot of groundbreaking technology came out of those organizations. Real innovation, not the bogus innovation we get from Silicon Valley today, like Uber (combining taxis, phones and indentured servitude) or WeWork (“We are the middleman, and do NOT pass the saving on to you, because frankly we are losing money”). All Silicon Valley has given us in the past decade is advertising, mass surveillance, and more ways of losing money.

And who pushes the line that innovation can only come from startups and VCs? People in the startup/VC ecosystem. Ecosystem and “echo chamber” are synonymous here.

Big Jim wants us to make great things again.

Image from Wikimedia, assumed allowed under Fair Use. Painting of the Annunciation by Duccio di Buoninsegna (c. 1255–1260 – c. 1318–1319), aka “The Duce”. Finally, this site takes a Duce.

Thoughts On Recent Events

Here are a few thoughts about some recent political events.

First off, James Mattis resigned as Secretary of Defense.

He has been lauded as the “adult in the room.” I think this is bad. There are a few issues with Mattis. Just as there were with John McCain, and George HW Bush. We need to stop letting people off the hook (even for minor infractions) just because they are not as bad as Donald Trump or anyone else in his orbit.

For one thing, I do not think he should have been defense secretary. He has not been out of the military long enough . If civilian control of the military is that important, there should not be any waivers. Granted, nobody else wanted the job. And he is not as crazy as John Bolton. But being more sane that Bolton is like being younger than dirt: That is a broad range.

At least Mattis is not a total tool like John Kelly. He lied about a speech given by representative Frederica Wilson, even after a video surfaced proving she was right and he was wrong. Nothing says you are part of a cult like doubling down on a lie even when the evidence is there for all to see. I don’t think Mattis looks down upon people who were never in the military, like Kelly seems to, or spout nonsense like, “In fact, in a way we’re a little bit sorry because you’ll never have experienced the wonderful joy you get in your heart when you do the kinds of things our servicemen and -women do.” Does John Kelly have any idea who he was working for? Has anyone in the Trump family ever cared about anyone but themselves? And if Kelly took not just one, but two jobs from Trump, then what does that say about him and his feelings about service? Enjoy your retirement in Virginia, jackass. But again, not getting sucked into Neo-Confederate BS is a low bar to clear.

Mattis was involved in Theranos, both during his time in the military, and was on the board afterwards. So he is a bit swampy.  And he seems too eager to go after Iran, even though a lot of Saudis have done some shady things in the US and gotten help from the Saudi government getting out on several occasions and they are spreading Wahhabism through out the Middle East. And let’s not forget our good friend Mohammad Bone Saw.

Working for Trump has been a black mark for everyone else who has done it. Why should Mattis get a pass? He is not some 18-year old out of boot camp who probably only knows the chain of command a few levels up from his sergeant. When you are offered a Cabinet-level position, you know who is offering it to you.

His resignation letter contrasted the US to Russia and China. Did he just realize that he is working for the new POTUS? (These days, “POTUS” does not mean “President of the United States”, but “Putin’s Operative in the United States.) Trump bad mouths Democrats, half of his constituents, many foreign leaders, but gives dictators a pass. Trump has a presumption of guilt for most Americans, and a presumption of innocence for foreign authoritarians. I don’t know what those geniuses at the Hoover Institute talk about all day, but roughly 65,853,514 people could have told him how this was going to work out.

The Trump administration is a disaster. He lost the popular vote, but acts like he is god-emperor. Let’s not use Mattis or anyone else as a contrast. Let’s not let people off the hook for their own misdeeds simply because they are not the worse person in the world (that would be Donald Trump). The President should not need an adult in the room. The room should be full of adults. Seriously, Mr Smarty Pants General, what did you think was going to happen?

In other news, Elizabeth Warren has started an exploratory committee to run for President in 2020 (the old kind of POTUS, not the Russian kind we have now). And, predictable, Trump called her “Pocahontas”. Again. For a guy who is supposed to be soooo smart, he doesn’t display much capacity for thought.

Elizabeth Warren thought she was part Native American because her grandmother told her she was. When you grow up in Oklahoma, and your grandmother tells you that you are part Native American, that is a good reason for thinking you are Native American. DNA was first discovered in 1953. Elizabeth Warren was born in 1949. So all these conservative wack-jobs insisting she take a DNA test are a bit unfair. DNA was not a household term when Elizabeth Warren was growing up. Heck, her grandmother was probably born in the 1800s. Using DNA in court is a recent thing. To expect Elizabeth Warren’s grandmother to have known things about DNA then that we know now is just sloppy thinking. Pro tip: When you challenge someone for evidence, and the evidence gives you an answer you do not like, admit you were wrong. Don’t reject the test as fake like the MAGA crowd did. Just admit you don’t like her and leave it at that. And seriously, is that all you got?

Interesting fact: The current Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation is only about 3% Cherokee.

And finally, there is the shutdown. The Trump Shutdown. Let’s stop blaming both sides. This is the Trump Shutdown. Make America grind to a halt.

He had a GOP House and a GOP Senate for two years to get this wall started. If it such an important campaign promise to his base, why did he wait until he knew he was going to get a Democratic House that would not give him everything that he wants? He made these threats while the GOP still had the House. Why wait? They had no problem getting a bunch of corporate judges in, or tax cuts for the wealthy that do not do anything for anybody else. I guess the wall is just like repealing the ACA: They can’t really do it because then they can’t use it to score points with voters.

I have read a few articles that some conservatives are hoping to use this to permanently shrink the government. If so, then why was this not mentioned during the campaign? I do not think Trump started this shutdown with any long-term plan. People may not like the idea, but I think the government is a bigger part of our lives than people think, and before too long, this shutdown will start to hurt a lot of people. The feds are involved in things like air traffic control and food inspection. I didn’t sign up to spend every day putting my life in the hands of fate and acting like the past 5,000 years never happened. A lot of economic data comes from the Department of Commerce, which is currently shut down. I think big business is going to want to see all that data keep coming in. IPOs are on hold. I wonder if dividends will still come through since the SEC is shut down.

Another thing that the federal government funds is scientific research. So while China is growing plants on the far side of the moon, our government is run by a carnival barker who kills everything he touches. I think one of the Founding Fathers said the USA was more likely to be destroyed from within that from without. That is what we are seeing.

Big Jim is starting to think that some people actually want to be taken advantage of.

“The Immaculate Conception”, one of many by Francisco de Zurbarán (1598-1664) at the El Paso Museum of Art; assumed allowed under Fair Use.

Thoughts On Dogs In Stores

I am adding an item to my list of “Signs That Someone is an Asshole“: Bringing a dog into a store.

I have been seeing more people bringing dogs into stores and even restaurants. I always thought that was a violation of health codes. I have blogged about this before. Airlines are cracking down on “emotional support animals“.

Most of the times that I have seen people bring dogs into businesses, they have been women. Usually low class women. Low class, high crass and total trash. Sometimes they are older women who wear too much makeup, tight pants that might have looked okay on them decades ago, or leopard print. Sometimes all three. Call it the trash-fecta.

If they are younger, usually they are fat, with blue hair and tattoos. Three bad things that do not add up to a good thing.

I don’t think any of these people are actually suffering from PTSD. Like I wrote before, some people are allergic to dogs. If you really cannot leave home without your dog, solve your problems on your own. Or stay home.

Big Jim is against class discrimination, unless you act like trash, or put people at risk.

“Female Nude with a Dog (Portrait of Leotine Renaude)” by Gustave Courbet (1819-1877) , at Musee d’Orsay, assumed allowed under Fair Use.