Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Joy to the World!

Merry Christmas! The Savior is born!


Friday, December 13, 2019

Oregonian Circulation Continues Decline in 2019

[The 2020 report is here.]

I'm a little late on reporting this, but I try to keep up the Oregonian's yearly paid circulation trend. So, here's the sorrowful news.

The Oregonian's paid circulation for its August 23, 2019 issue was 59,988. This is down from 68,704 for its single daily issue in 2018. That's a 12.7% drop.

Paid circulation for the Oregonian Sunday August 25, 2019 edition was 82,054. This is down from 96,283 for its Sunday issue in 2018. This equals a 14.7% drop.

If there's a bright spot in the daily paid circulation data, it's that the 2019 12.7% drop could have been much worse. The average daily paid circulation was only 39,631 in the preceding 12 months. That it jumped up to 59,988 in August showed a significant comeback after a steep drop.

By contrast, the Sunday yearly paid circulation average of 88,473 is above the August 25, 2019 issue's paid circulation of 82,054.

Since Audit Bureau of Circulations data has been useless since 2013, I now use the annual Statement of Ownership numbers required by the U.S. Post Office for any publications that mail at periodical rate. These are usually published in an October edition of the publication. The Oregonian's reports were published in its October 11, 2019, daily edition and October 13, 2019, Sunday edition.

Friday, October 04, 2019

USA TODAY Reporters Marisa Kwiatkowski and John Kelly Have a Moral Blind Spot

The front page story in yesterday's USA TODAY caught my attention. It was written by Marisa Kwiatkowski and John Kelly and titled COPY, PASTE, LEGISLATE The Catholic Church and Boy Scouts wield unique influence in opposing legislation that gives child sex abuse survivors more time to sue. This is their playbook.

The thrust of the article is that the Catholic Church and the Boy Scouts are putting negative pressure on legislators and supporters of child abuse legislation that extends the time period in which the abused may sue private abusers and private organizations in which the abuse occurred.

The reporters never make clear what the legislation actually says. Here's the closest they come:
In his sermon, the priest talked about a bill pending in the state Legislature that would give survivors of child sexual abuse more time to sue their abusers – and the institutions that hid abuse.

The Catholic Church was being mistreated, the priest said. Legislators were being particularly harsh toward the church while leaving public school teachers who commit crimes off the hook.
The vast majority of the article tells about how pressure is being put on legislators who support such bills and that those who oppose it feel they may go broke having to pay penalties assessed in those suits.

At the end of the second paragraph above is an interesting charge: "while leaving public school teachers who commit crimes off the hook."  The reporters never say how protecting public institutions and abusers who work in them is handled and why it would ever be legitimate to make legislation that protects the people who are doing the legislating from the consequences of sexually abusing children. After all, legislators are part of a public institution--and as we know with Senate pages legislators have a role in sexual abuse of the young.

So, why protect public institutions and their employees from legal action that private institutions and their employees are subject to? More importantly, why legally consider children abused by people in public institutions to be unworthy of legal redress?

Marisa Kwiatkowski and John Kelly never address those issues. Apparently, they find nothing unusual about absolving politicians and people in "public service" from having to answer for their sexual abuse of children.

Personally, I'm for this sort of legislation for all victims--not just those of private organizations. In fact, I think the punishment should be stricter for public entities because children are legally forced to go to public schools unless their parents can afford an alternative. It is immoral to the core when a child has been legally forced into a dangerous situation that legislators turn a blind eye to.

I feel sorry for Kwiatkowski and Kelly and all the legislators and support groups who find child abuse by public employees to be a non-issue and their child victims unimportant. They have a moral blind spot that fouls their reporting and legislative efforts.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Free Pet Chip Registry

I recently found a dog in the center lane on a major street. Fortunately, the dog came to me when I got out of the car stopping my lane. (I'm no longer up to running after dogs.)

I took the dog to my vet, and they scanned but didn't find a chip. A chip would have been helpful, though not foolproof.

My present dog came with a chip and a solicitation to sign up for a chip service which charges a yearly fee. That was rather off putting.

But, I found a free service: Free Pet Chip Registry  I highly recommend it both because it's free and because it is the closest thing to a national registry. Some of the paid services don't like to share their information with others, so there is no national registry. You have to call each service to check to see if the pet is registered there. That can be a daunting task especially if the pet is not registered with one of the major services.

I recommend that even if you are registered with another service, you cross-register at Free Pet Chip Registry as each new listing makes it closer and closer to a national registry.

Here's what prompted this service:
Several years ago, I found a stray German Shepherd without a collar. I took him to a branch of the Los Angeles City Animal Shelter hoping that he may have had a microchip implanted. If he had a microchip certainly he would be easily reunited with his family. When the scanner beeped and the 15-digit ID popped up, I breathed a big sigh of relief and thanked the technician profusely. "Not so fast" the technician told me. "We are only getting started." I wasn't sure what she meant by that. The dog had been microchipped, just like all of my pets, and I thought that it's just a matter of checking a central database and then contacting the owner to come pick him up. Boy, was I wrong.
The helpful technician began calling, one by one, the various pet chip registries to determine if the lost German Shepherd was registered with their company. 10+ telephone calls and over 30 minutes later, the technician told me that although the lost dog had been microchipped, none of the major U.S. databases had current information on the dog. I asked her why couldn't she just go to a single database, input the ID number and directly pull up the pet owner's information? I thought surely that had to be the process, it's just common sense. She went on to explain that in the U.S. we have numerous, independently owned pet registries some of which don't particularly like to share their information, due to finanacial motivation.
Blessings on John Dyer and Courtney Cramer, DMV, for starting this service. I'm reminded again how important it is.

The happy end of the story on the dog I found, was that after posting on two major area sources, the Lord prompted me to do another search two days after finding the dog. On another data base I saw a listing with the dog's photo posted just two hours previous to my search. That was a reminder to me that there is no central data base for missing or found pets either even in the local area.

Sunday, August 04, 2019

James George Vlassis - U.S. Army Air Corps Cadet during World War II

Jim Vlassis was only 19 when he died in an air collision with another air cadet piloted aircraft at King City, California. My dad had this picture of Jim who was a fellow cadet in training. Apparently there was a farm pilots had to fly over to land at the air base. You came in from the right over it and straightened out for landing.  If you missed your landing you circled around and came in from the left. 

Cadet Jim Vlassis was piloting a PT-22 #41-20807 coming in for a landing from the right and banking right. Meanwhile Cadet Robert Jesse Warren, age 23, was piloting a PT-22 #41-15290 coming back around from an attempted landing from the left and banking left. They hit at about a thousand feet and their chutes opened at about 100 feet. Both died in the fall on October 19, 1943.

We don't have a picture of Cadet Robert Warren, but both young men died training to fight for their country. A sad loss for their families, friends and for the country.

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Portland Bureau of Transportation Incompetence

On the 5-1/2 million dollar project along NE Halsey and Weidler and more to come, the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) has worked long and hard to make the stretch dangerous for drivers and pedestrians.

They have all sorts of islands jutting out that slim the lanes so that drivers have to always be on the alert for them. Thus, much less time and opportunity to look for pedestrians trying to cross the street. So, if you're not a speedy, young pedestrian, it's best never to walk along that stretch. Below is a photo of a corner. Notice both sides have jutted sidewalks into the normal parking lane area. Which means if a truck and a car both want to turn (one in and one out), there's no way. It's even difficult for cars.

And as they note:

"Bus stopping in outer travel lane to improve travel times along corridor" which means bus stops all traffic in that lane.  I thought they put in all those turnouts for buses to help traffic movement and prevent cars from rapidly changing lanes when a bus is stopped. The fun thing is that there is no such stopping of bicycles who can mow down pedestrians who have to cross to an "island" to cross the street or catch the bus. And the pedestrian is raised above street level 360 degrees all around so anyone with mobility problems or children to watch has to be aware how close they are to falling off if their walker or wheelchair slips or they lose their balance or their children lose their balance.

It's a nightmare. Here's their rendering:

Note the up and down blocks one needs to scale in the pedestrian "refuge island" with bicycle and car traffic whizzing by mere inches away instead of a parking lane away. Why there is space between them instead of being a solid block is anyone's guess.

I wonder if PBOT would win the award for most incompetent bureau in the City of Portland. They certainly misspent 5-1/2 million dollars to make pedestrian and vehicle traffic more dangerous than ever.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

World War II in the Pacific, June 15, 1945

I've been scanning my dad's World War II diary. He was a B-25 bomber pilot. Here's his entry for today 74 years ago:
15 June 1945 Friday
Got up at 0530.  Ate and went back to bed until 0725.  I went to the line and went on my 12th mission over Borneo.  We went from Beanfort to Langhon up the valleys and mountains.  It was really interesting.  The mission lasted 5 hours.  I took pictures with the gun camera of a 13,000 foot mountain and our landing.  I went swimming.  I slept until 1700.  Ate went to a meeting at 1800.  Went to a show.  Saw “Brewster’s Millions”.  It was good & I finished my letter to Ruth.  I got one from her and 3 Oregonians.
The Oregonian had a miniature serviceman's edition. Each page was 8-1/2"x11" with the double page being 17"x11". It had eight pages. Content was a normal front page miniaturized, another page of national news, then a page of local news, editorial page, another page of local news with half the page being comics, a society page with half the page being comics, a sports page, and the final page was a photo essay on a war event in the two editions we have.

Monday, March 25, 2019

Email Blackmail

Just received the email at the bottom of this post from one of my email accounts that I rarely use.

Poor blackmailer! Doesn't know that not only do I not visit adult sites, but that the computer I usually use has no video camera or microphone set up. And the two laptops that do have cameras, have the camera covered (as my friend MaxRedline advised awhile back).

Turns out it came from a provider in Italy:

Don't know who this is, but I'm pretty sure he doesn't have access to my email account, but is spoofing the address.

I wish there were some way to track these guys down.


As you may have noticed, I sent you an email from your account.
This means that I have full access to your account.

I've been watching you for a few months now.
The fact is that you were infected with malware through an adult site that you visited.

If you are not familiar with this, I will explain.
Trojan Virus gives me full access and control over a computer or other device.
This means that I can see everything on your screen, turn on the camera and microphone, but you do not know about it.

I also have access to all your contacts and all your correspondence.

Why your antivirus did not detect malware?
Answer: My malware uses the driver, I update its signatures every 4 hours so that your antivirus is silent.

I made a video showing how you satisfy yourself in the left half of the screen, and in the right half you see the video that you watched.
With one click of the mouse, I can send this video to all your emails and contacts on social networks.
I can also post access to all your e-mail correspondence and messengers that you use.

If you want to prevent this,
transfer the amount of $741 to my bitcoin address (if you do not know how to do this, write to Google: "Buy Bitcoin").

My bitcoin address (BTC Wallet) is: 1K1KMHpynJHQRbhzKHyik6yaJuQYxSaZCm

After receiving the payment, I will delete the video and you will never hear me again.
I give you 48 hours to pay.
I have a notice reading this letter, and the timer will work when you see this letter.

Filing a complaint somewhere does not make sense because this email cannot be tracked like my bitcoin address.
I do not make any mistakes.

If I find that you have shared this message with someone else, the video will be immediately distributed.

Best regards!

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Unanimous Supreme Court Strikes at Civil-Asset Forfeiture!

This post is dedicated to Max Redline, who has been blowing the trumpet on this egregious "legal" punishment for years.

In Timbs v. Indiana, the Supreme Court has ruled that States are subject to the Eighth Amendment's excessive fines clause.

Civil-asset forfeiture is a legal process by which law enforcement agencies can seize any property, money, bank funds, you-name-it, by saying the items seized were involved in a criminal activity. They don't have to prove they were or that the person committed any criminal activity. The charge itself is sufficient to allow seizure and the defendant has to prove his innocence.

Here's David French at National Review describing the case:
At issue was the important question of whether the Eighth Amendment’s excessive fines clause applied to the states and whether the excessive fines clause applied to a practice called in rem civil-asset forfeiture. Under this practice, law-enforcement officials often engage in two separate punitive legal processes against criminal defendants. The first is the criminal prosecution itself, which can impose prison sentences and fines according to statutorily defined punishments. The second is often a civil action against the criminal defendant’s property. Yes, the government will file suit against trucks, cars, jewelry, boats, and cash — leading to absurd case captions like, say, Texas v. One Gold Crucifix — claiming that the property was used for criminal purposes and then seize that property under a lower, civil, burden of proof.
Law enforcement agencies get to keep the proceeds, so there is a big incentive to finger anything they can for civil-asset forfeiture. French points out that "in 2014, for example, the state took more money from citizens than burglars took from crime victims."

Unfortunately, this is just the first step, as the Supreme Court has left the job of determining what is "excessive" in asset-forfeiture. But, it's a good first step.

What needs to be added beyond determining what is "excessive" is that the person whose property is being seized has to be actually convicted of a crime. Icing on the cake would be that law enforcement or government agencies could not profit by the seizure, but I'm not holding my breath on that one.

Thursday, February 07, 2019

Windshield Wipers in Up Position - fixed itself

The windshield wipers on my parents' van got out of sync and stopped in the up position.

After doing research about fixing it, I decided going to a mechanic was better than taking off the shielding and getting into the works myself.

Well, procrastination (about 2 weeks of only 3 or 4 drives in the car) worked. One rainy day the wipers went back into the down position. Heh. No one on YouTube or the prominent articles on the internet mentioned that possibility. So, I thought I would post it here.

Perhaps it's like the check engine light. My car has had its warning light go on and off for the last 18 years. So far no problems with the car or engine that it was the warning for. I do pray, however, that it will not go on and stay on during DEQ testing time. The Lord has been good to answer my prayers on that.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

New Federal Tax Benefits Pale in Comparison to Damage Done to Charitable Giving and Churches

I've finally been able to compare the tax forms and tables from 2017 with the new ones from 2018. I'm not impressed.

The supposed massive raise in the standard deduction is not that massive. Though they increased the standard deduction by about $6,000 for singles and $11,000 for couples, they did away with the $4,050 exemption per person deduction. So that makes the actual increase about $2,000 for singles and $3,000 for couples.

Switching the exemption dollars to standard deduction makes it difficult to itemize medical or charitable expenses and get anything back. So, those with significant medical outlays are hurt as are charitable agencies and churches since donating to them gives no tax benefit to the average person, even the average generous person.

2017 form 1040
2018 form 1040
This is a poor trade off that the Republicans own the blame for (227 of 239 Republican representatives and all 51 Republican senators). I much prefer a system that encourages charitable giving, supporting churches and giving a break to those who have significant medical bills or who are paying off mortgages even though I personally had no problems in the medical or mortgage areas. The extra couple of hundred dollars off my tax bill isn't terribly significant in contrast to the damage to societal values that this new tax system encourages.