“Wyatt”

One of the best-known, and certainly longest-running, series in the history of this blog was my 130 part series of 20th anniversaries of events between deciding to move to the Twin CIties in 1985, and my oldest child’s birth in 1991. The series took (doy) six years to write.

One of the characters that popped up was a roommate I had at the time. I gave him a pseudonym (as I did with a couple of the people that were, er, on the “colorful” side) – “Wyatt“. He had a thing for the ladies, was addicted to pretty much everything to which one could be addicted (and dealt in some of it vocationally), He gave off certain signs of mental illness, although I was pretty bad at noticing that kind of thing back then. Our roomate situation ended one night in 1988, when he shot up the house we rented in what I had ascribed to a cocaine-fueled frenzy.

I’ve neither talked with nor heard from “Wyatt” for over 30 years. I will confess, I googled him about ten years ago, and found from a few news stories – a break-in at a liquor store, a trial and sentence – that showed that his habits were keeping him in just as much trouble as they did when I knew him.

I also knew he had a father – a fairly wealthy man, a former Navy frogman who had done well in, I believe, real estate or insurance or something like that – and a mother. And I knew his family loved him, and spent a lot of money and, I suspect, a lot more effort and emotional energy, trying to get him on the right track – including sending him to treatment in Minnesota, which of course led him across my path in 1987.

And when I became a parent, his story – the whole family’s story, really – terrified me; it was possible, no matter how you loved your children, for the unreasoning, cackling spectre of mental illness and its sidekick, addiction, to take that kid from you no matter what you did and how hard you clung to the hope you could do something about it.

A bit of curious googling over the weekend brought it all back.

“Wyatt” had a real name. And he died in 2010 – ironically, not long after his departure from the series. Tragically, but not in the least bit surprisingly, he died of mixing drugs and booze.

And I’m going to admit – while my “Wyatt” tales in “Twenty Years Ago Today” were true down to the last comma and semicolon, they painted as one-dimensional a picture of him as one might expect someone who, twenty years later, was still kicking himself for letting that kind of dysfunction into his life, and the consequences it brought.

The article – featuring his parents, who have stayed involved in trying to help the mentally ill over the years – brings a human aspect to “Wyatt” – Wyeth – that I wasn’t ready to acknowledge when I wrote the series, over a decade ago.

My very belated condolences to everyone involved.

“Unexpected”

SCENE: Mitch BERG is building a snow wall around his property.

Before he can close the last gap along the sidewalk, MyLyssa Silberman – reporter for National Public Radio’s Saint Paul bureau, covering the “Fake News” and “Diversity” beats – pulls up in a Subaru Outback.

SILBERMAN: [stepping out of the car]Merg!

BERG: Er…hi, MyLyssa. What’s up?

SILBERMAN: I’m doing a series on the purveyors of brisk, quippy rhetorical memes and their use in disseminating “fake news”.

BERG: Of course you are.

SILBERMAN: If I may. In the past, you have referred to the new municipal trash collection systems in cities like Bloomington, Saint Paul and other cities as [riffles through notes] “Soviet-style trash collection”. Also [squinting] “East German”, “Tony Soprano-Style”, “Cuban” and…

BERG: North Korean.

SILBERMAN: Here in my notebook it says “North Korean”.

BERG: Yep.

SILBERMAN: Are these racist references against Russians, Germans, Sicilians, Latinos and Asians? And how are they affected by climate change?

BERG: No, and not at all.

SILBERMAN: OK, we’ll come back to that. But what do those terms mean?

BERG: It’s a reference to the fact that in countries that try to repeal the free market – among them most “socialist” nations – there is no incentive to serve customers better. In planned, marketless economies, all goods and services are essentially rationed, and there’s no impetus to provide a good or service better, more efficiently, or even more cheerfully than anyone else, since there’s no upside to it; you get paid the same whether you’re a jerk or an Employee of the Month.

SILBERMAN: OK, but how does this relate to trash collection in the Twin Cities? We haven’t suspended the free market.

BERG: Well, we’re going to need a price check on that statement. Saint Paulites are complaining about the service they’re getting from the hauler their city so graciously selected for them:

Beginning Jan. 30, [Waste Management, the hauler allocated to a large part of the East Side by the City Council’s “Sopranos”-style division of the city’s turf] skipped pickups on her street, Cottage Avenue East, for three weeks in a row. Rather than complete full collection Wednesday, drivers exited their vehicles to take pictures of overflowing trash carts and lids that couldn’t fully close. Some they emptied. Some they didn’t.
Now, residents are bracing for financial penalties.
“They drove through the alley yesterday, right past all the garbage cans that were out and not covered with or buried in snow, and only emptied two cans,” said Riggs on Thursday in an email to Ward 6 City Council member Kassim Busuri’s office. “Since that seems to be one of many excuses they use, yes, the lids are not closed, which is another thing they will charge us extra for. According to St. Paul policy, they must close. Otherwise it is $3

BERG: By the way, MyLyssa – my old trash collector would only upcharge me for an over-full container if a good chunk of the bag was visible. The new haulers are gloriously Minnesota passive-aggressive about it, and the customer service is atrocious, even in other neighborhoods.

Who picked up your trash, by the way?

SILBERMAN: I live in a condo downtown, so my trash just goes away.

BERG: Right. Continuing:

Busuri said he’s more than just sympathetic. He’s in the same boat.
“I’ve had the same problem myself,” Busuri said, “where the trash was not picked up for going on three weeks. It bothers me to see a garbage hauler not fulfilling their obligation in the contract. There’s a section in the contract where we can charge the haulers for every collection they miss. I’m looking into that

SILBERMAN: See! They’ll fix it!

BERG: Sure. The city council will cross the actions of a previous city council, most of whom have gone on to positions of bureaucratic power that .can be used against them.

SILBERMAN: What do you mean?

BERG: OK, so imagine you were to park in Teri Gross’s parking spot…

SILBERMAN: That would be really bad.

BERG: See?

SILBERMAN: No.

BERG: It’ll never get fixed. There’s no market imperative to do anything, and plenty of bureaucratic imperatives not to.

SILBERMAN: So you’re saying you’re transphobic.

BERG: Are you by some chance working on getting a PR job with the city?

And SCENE

Everything’s A Conflict

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

In the latest Bar Association magazine, there’s an article calling on lawyers to provide more free legal work to help society, especially people who have been neglected or underrepresented or oppressed. 
In the same magazine, there’s an article telling lawyers: “Misgendering a person – such as referring to someone as “sir” or “she” when they are not – is an act of gender violence.
So I should volunteer to help someone who will be offended by my help?  Wouldn’t it be better for both of us if I did nothing? 

Big Left these days reminds me of a cop who gives out contradictory orders, to assure the person they’re yelling at does something they can arrest them for.

Unexpected

Price hikes brought about by New York City’s new $15 minimum wage are causing some consumer heartburn.

Unexpectedly:

Some New Yorkers are displeased with one of the more predictable outcomes of a $15 minimum wage—restaurants all over the city are raising their prices, according to the New York Post.

The city’s minimum wage went up to $15 from $13 or $13.50 at the beginning of 2019, boosting the paychecks for numerous lower-wage workers.
Those who rely on restaurants regularly for their daily lunches, however, aren’t as happy.
“It’s obnoxious—kind of a slap in the face,” Starbucks patron Edward Beck told the Post. “Another increase, and I won’t come back.”
Restaurants are raising prices to adjust for the higher salaries they must pay workers. But, they’re increasingly worried about discouraging customers with too-high prices.
“[Restaurants] feel they’re getting to a point where the customer might reject the higher prices, choose a different way to eat out, or eat their own food,” said Melissa Fleischut, president and CEO of the New York State Restaurant Association.

“But…but, it’s from The Blaze! Your source has a point of view, and therefore is invalid!”

The same precise story is behind the lines of this story from that noted conservative tool, the Star Tribune, from last year; a local restaurant mainstay is losing customers, price point and restaurant jobs due in large part to all that social justice they’re paying for.

Surrender

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

In 1967, just after Congress adopted LBJ’s Great Society including the War on Poverty, Petula Clark had a hit single with “Don’t Sleep in the Subway.” 
50 years later, sleeping on the subway it still a problem in New York and it’s spreading to Los Angeles.  At what point do we concede we’ve been defeated, and agree to end the war?

You don’t need to go to NYC to see this, by the way. The Vomit Comit (AKA “Green Line”) is a de facto homeless shelter from after dark until sometime during rush hour.

Democracy Dies In Emergency

On the one hand? If you recall when Harry Reid torched the filibuster for judicial nominees, we limited government conservatives warned that “You folks may not control the Senate forever, so you might wanna be careful”. Trump’s use of a “National Emergency” to get more border funding is kinda the same idea. A future Democrat president could declare “non-living wages” a national emergency.

On the other hand? It kind of already a response like that. Obama outran Congress like Walter Payton outrunning the ’85 Vikings using a raft of Executive Orders. Is the border wall any worse than DACA?

On the other, other hand? I don’t think Trump necessarily intended to provoke a frenzied overreach on the Dems’ part – but it’d be hard to imagine how he could have done it better than he did:

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said President Trump’s plan to use a national emergency declaration to unilaterally provide federal funding for a border wall would set a precedent Republicans may come to regret.
Democrats, she said, could use it later to enact their own priorities, such as increasing gun control.
“Why don’t you declare that a national emergency? I wish you would,” Pelosi during a press conference Thursday, noting it was the one-year anniversary of the high school shooting in Parkland, Fla., that killed 17 students and staff. “But a Democratic president can do that.”

The NRA is going to need to rent more phone lines to take the membership calls, now.

Perhaps…Build A Wall?

In 1961, alarmed by the flight of their “nation’s” best and brightest (and fastest, and most prescient), the “government” of East Germany built a wall…

…not to keep NATO out, but to keep the population in.

Government believed that it was a proprietor, and that someone was shoplifting its property – the people.

Governor Andrew Cuomo seems to have the same idea about “his” people:

This week the Governor of New York blamed budget shortfalls on the state of Florida.

He said New Yorkers are fleeing to the sunshine state to save big time on taxes.

It all goes back to the tax reform passed by Congress. The changes increased the incentive to move to the sunshine state dramatically.

Cuomo is going to find out (not that he’s bright enough to understand it) what every crypto-socialist finds out (but isn’t bright enough to understand); capital moves.

Human Factors

Fascinating article on how the Air Force is using the latest in sports medicine – advanced body mechanics and physiology sensors – to help hone the training of their new generation of Air Force special operations troops. the elite Pararescue troops that rescue downed aircrew and the Combat Air Controllers who bring air support in for other Special Operations units.

The technlogy is indeed whiz-bang-y:

For efficiency’s sake, the military would love empirical tests that can help focus on only the most promising candidates. Similarly, if there is a helpful gene that can be identified through a blood test, the military would very much like to know about it—and how to activate it with training. For example, the squadron at Lackland this year is collecting blood to measure hormone levels during training and will periodically check changes in the levels during the airmens’ career.

…but it’s gratifying to see that it doesn’t have all the answers:

Still, the human element rises amid the algorithms, tablets, and sensors. The staff see patterns that are harder for an algorithm to quantify, reminders that there is more than just numbers, physics, and chemistry at work. For instance, staff find that trainees who have faced challenges early in their personal lives not only do better, they also tend to assist and elevate teammates who are struggling.
“Our data show that, beyond a certain level, increases in physical fitness don’t necessarily correspond to increased success,” says Colonel Parks Hughes, commander of the Special Warfare Training Wing. “There’s a level of grit, if you will, required to get through the preparation that we put individuals through.”
All the brain-wave readings and sensors can detect a recruit’s level of effort, but there’s no way to quantify a trainee’s character and sense of self. These are critical variables, but they’re not the kind of things that can be measured with an electrode stuck to someone’s forehead.

The whole thing makes a quick but interesting read.

Honesty

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

I used Booking.com when I walked the Camino de Santiago last year.  It’s entirely on-line so they have my email and (in case I get locked out) my phone number.  What do they do with my private information?  Glad you asked, they sent an email with the updated privacy policy – the company will give my phone number and email to advertisers.  But what if I don’t want them to?
“The hard truth: If you disagree with this Privacy Statement, you should discontinue using our services. If you agree with our Privacy Statement, then you’re all set to book your next stay. Let the good times roll!”
Well, that’s refreshingly honest.
Joe Doakes

It’s almost refreshing that someone out there has the integrity not to blow smoke up your pant cuff…

Why Does Governor Walz Hate The Environment And Want Rural Minnesotans To Die Flaming Deaths?

Governor Walz provides the service for which Big Environmental paid good money.

Notwithstanding the fact that the Enbridge pipeline would replace hundreds / thousands of derailment-prone tanker cars and crash-able «trucks that currently transit populated areas and sensitive environments with a pipeline that will be gallon-for-gallon vastly safer for both people and the ecology; Walz knows who he’s working for.

Arguably the bigger crime? The twaddle he plopped out there to justify “his” decision.

I’ll add some emphasis:

Gov. Tim Walz will continue pursuing a court appeal started by his predecessor that could block Enbridge from building a controversial $2.6 billion oil pipeline across northern Minnesota.
Under former Gov. Mark Dayton, the Commerce Department appealed the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission’s (PUC’s) decision to allow Enbridge to build the pipeline, a replacement for its aging and corroding Line 3. Last month, the Walz administration said it would review the appeal.
“By continuing that process, our administration will raise the Department of Commerce’s concerns to the court in hopes of gaining further clarity for all involved,” Walz said in a statement. “As I often say, projects like these don’t only need a building permit to go forward, they also need a social permit. Our administration has met with groups on all sides of this issue, and Minnesotans deserve clarity.”

“Social permit”.

That is two steps from fluent Duckspeak.

Following it up with a platitude like “Minnesotans deserve clarity” adds rhetorical insult to Orwellian injury.

Governor Walz; your leash is showing.

A Good Son With A Gun

Florida man kills who robbers who were holding his mother at gunpoint:

The 911 call from the victim revealed that he was asleep at the time of the break-in and was woken up by the intruders, who he said were holding his mother at gunpoint. 
“They were trying to wake me up,” he said in the call. “They had my mom at gunpoint I couldn’t stop it.”
The victim told the 911 operator that the men had arrived to his home in their own vehicle. He said he shot both of them, killing the driver, Smalls, and injuring Lynn who tried to leave on foot.

Both robbers were reportedly just about to turn their lives around.

Convenience Is King

A friend of the blog writes:

I don’t necessarily think it should be easier to vote. I think people should respect their right and make informed decisions. But, I do think it would be beneficial if more people did take their right seriously and voted.
With that, I laugh every time someone declares that voting day as a holiday will make it easier for people to vote. Easier for whom? Most poor people working for minimum wage in service industries will still be working. Healthcare workers will still be working. The list could go on.
Let’s look at the announcement by the city of Sandusky, Ohio, who will be making voting day a holiday. They’re swapping out Columbus Day.   (I don’t think that I have ever had Columbus Day off let alone holiday pay for working it, so is this going to be helpful for people?) Some decision makers were concerned that they were losing a 3 day holiday, but we’re swayed because this would be for the greater good. Of note, per this article, this would only affect 250 residents out of 26,000. The city manager admits it is “a small gesture, but an important one.”
Not sure if it is even a gesture of any import. How many of these 250 were already voting?

It might be a cheap shot to say “Progressives benefit by driving lots of ill-informed people to the polls”.

It really might.

I’m not sure “cheap shot” and “accurate” are mutually exclusive.

NPR Bingo

It’s time for Shot In The Dark’s new game, “NPR Bingo”.

The challenge is this: listen to NPR.

The game is this: Every time you hear one of the phrases below, mark off the square.

When you get a five in a row or four corners, you “win”.

BINGO
Story on”Soccer catching on in Minnesota“Comedian” who isn’t in the least bit funny. Tribal drumming. Ironic Farfisa
organ music.
“Palestinian
artist”
Reference to
Climate Change
A story on “hate” using the SPLC as a source. Interviewee who proclaims self a “Queer Woman of Color” Climate Change reference in a
story about
bookstores
Florid Spanish
pronunciations
by non-Spanish-speaking
anchor.
Story about a
‘Storyteller”.
Political story
using “reporters”
from Vox, 
Buzzfeed, Media
Matters
or Huffington
Post with implied
assumption that they do 
represent “the
center”.
FREE SPACE
(Or rerun of an “Aspen Ideas
Festival” piece
for filler. Same
thing.
“#MeToo
Movement” in a story not related to sexual
harassment
More than three stories about
the border in an
hour.
“Contextualizing”
news story;
“Context” =
progressive
chanting point.
“Queer Woman of Color”
reference in
story not about
sexuality or
feminism
Air staffer with
pretentious
pronunciation of his/her name.
Reference to
Climate Change in a story about sports
Upper middle
class white Ivy
League graduate
reviewing a
hip-hop record.
A news piece
featuring Larry
Sabado (or,
locally, Larry
Jacobs.
“Cultural
Appropriation”
“Toxic
Masculinity”
Continuing to
refer to the
“Occupy
Movement” as
a sustained,
organic thing.
Reference to
Climate change
in a restaurant
review.

Keep us posted.

“Unexpected” Omission

American public media reports – or, in a sense, “Reports” – on the ironic rising cost of water in several Great Lakes-area cities and, naturally, its disproportionate effect on the poor.

The cities – they focus most especially on Cleveland, Detroit, Duluth, Buffalo and Chicago – have water rates that are rising extremely fast, as the ageing infrastructure starts to give out.

What it doesn’t mention?

Every one of the cities has been run by Democrats, according to Democrat priorities, as long as anyone can remember.

Cold

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Not only are electric cars mere displacement vehicles (they run on electricity generated by burning coal instead of running on gasoline so they still pollute, they simply displace the pollution to Monticello instead of Como Park), now we learn they aren’t capable of driving to Monticello and back if the weather is cold.
But not to fear.  Rep. Ilhan is working on raising your taxes to force more of us to drive less.  It’s her “stay at home and watch TV all day” doctrine.  Looking at the snow falling again this morning, actually, I’m kind of on board with that.

That’s what they’re counting on.

Every Time You Read Nancy Nord Bence, You Get A Little Dumber

First things first:  Kenneth Lilly, the security guard alleged to have shot the bus driver on 35W the other day, has been charged with attempted murder, among other things.  

And it’s seem, from watching the video, to be a fair cop.  To use a gun in self-defense – we’ve been through this before – you need to satisfy four criteria in the state of Minnesota:

  1. You can’t be the aggressor.
  2. You must reasonably fear immediate death or great bodily harm. 
  3. You must only use the force necessary to end the threat. 
  4. You must make a reasonable effort to retreat.  

You need to satisfy all four of those criteria (unless you’re in your house, in which case only “only” need to check off the first three.  

This will be for a jury (or, more likely than not, the defendant, his lawyer and the judge) to decide – but it looks like Lilly blew 1, 2 and 4 completely.   

Of course, those who get their “information” from local gun-grab scolds “Protect” Minnesota will get a version of events that would make Baghdad Bob wince with Schadenfreud

 

Where to start with this – words fail me – horsecrap?

“I’m afraid I might get killed, now” is a part of every legitimate self-defense claim. No exceptions! It has nothing to do with “Stand your Ground”, which – thanks for nothing, Governor Goofy – is not the law in Minnesota anyway.

But the law doesn’t require that you “feel afraid”. The law requires that you “reasonably” fear death or great bodily harm – and by “reasonable”, we mean “an investigator, prosecutor, judge or jury believes it”.

Invoking “stand your ground” means either the writer – almost certainly the invincibly ignorant Reverend Nord Bence – doesn’t know what she’s talking about, or she doesn’t really think it matters if her audience doesn’t get the truth or, and this is my bet, both.  

It’s almost a Berg’s Law.

Tide Pod Evita Does Science

I have concerns about the climate, and about man’s involvement in them.

I have bigger concerns about being logrolled.

I have nothing to say about Rep. Ocasio-Cortez’ “Green New Deal” (which got disappeared after it was revealed to be something a spoiled sixth-grader could have, and may have, written) y abou that David French at National Review doesn’t say better.

Read the whole thing. I add emphasis:

Nobody has to be a progressive to be concerned about the environment. Nobody has to be a progressive to respond to climate change. Any proposal that conditions response to climate change on the adoption of the full progressive platform is not only doomed to fail, but it raises the question of whether the declared climate emergency is more pretext than crisis. There’s a need for a serious discussion about our climate. The Green New Deal is not serious.

Did you miss it before it got disappeared yesterday? Have no fear, people glommed onto it. And David Harsanyi found the 11 bits you really needed in the first place.

Nancying The News

The Reverend Nancy Nord Bence had a red-letter day yesterday. 

And by “Red Letter Day”, we mean “a day where she passed on more lies and ignorance than normal”. 

In fact, today is going to be a rare Bence Bifecta.

Remember – “Protect” Minnesota and its leadership have never, not once, made a statement about guns, gun owners, gun history, gun laws or the Second Amendment that is simultaneously:

  • Original
  • Substantial
  • True

You may get one out of three. Sometimes two. Never three.

But this? The Reverend Nord Bence gets zero:

Except that if you win a gun at a raffle, you do take a background check.

I’m still amazed that anyone in the media uses her as a source.