Utterly Meaningless » 2015 » April

    Filed on April 24, 2015 at 1:46 am under by dcobranchi

    Riding bicycles here for transportation is at least as common as in China. Kids, especially, ride here in town. I have not seen a school bus yet, but every morning between 7:10 and 7:30 the bike paths are full of kids all heading to school.

    Walking to work is great exercise, but having to walk past several bakeries with fresh bread scents wafting out into the street is a terrible temptation.

    The breads here are phenomenal. Just ridiculously good. My favorite are rolls with pumpkin seeds on the outside. But, really, everything I’ve tried is very good.


    Filed on April 23, 2015 at 6:08 am under by dcobranchi


    This is from the restaurant where we had supper last night. That’s the Rhein River near Bonn. Upstream is to the left. The mountain off to the left is the Dragon’s Rock and that tower off to the right is DHL’s HQ.

    HAPPY 4/20!

    Filed on April 20, 2015 at 3:13 am under by dcobranchi

    I was in a Turkish kebab market/restaurant last night. The young guy in front of me in line bought only a pack of rolling papers. After he left, the owner of the shop kind of rolled his eyes and said simply, “Weed.” He went on to mention that it’s only an hour drive to the Netherlands from here. I’m an old fart and don’t do that (any longer), but it brought back some happy memories of my mis-spent youth.


    Filed on April 18, 2015 at 5:20 pm under by dcobranchi

    My favorite US airport is looking a lot like a (WARNING! REDUNDANCY ALERT AHEAD!) bad, made-for-TV Stephen King movie.
    PIT Concourse B
    This is the semi-abandoned Concourse B. Concourse A is even more desolate.


    Filed on April 13, 2015 at 6:18 pm under by dcobranchi

    This column by the former editor of my local fishwrap is the funniest thing I’ve read in a long while. The far right wingnut actually “thinks” that Kasich may have “an excellent shot at the nomination.” I’ll go out on a limb. Not only will Kasich not be the GOP nominee, he will not make it out of Iowa.

    I’ve read Myer’s columns for 3+ years now. The only thing he has ever gotten correct is his email address.

    One might think it would be self-evident that a national debt amounting to nearly $60,000 for every man, woman and child in the United States is the most critical challenge facing Americans.

    And addressing the problem by finding someone with experience in cutting government spending rather than padding it also ought to be the obvious move.

    But Ohio Gov. John Kasich is having to work hard to persuade American voters of those two things.

    Kasich is running for president, though many people don’t know it. Only a few insightful observers mention him, much less give him a chance at winning. That may be a big strength.

    Real Clear Politics, which monitors public opinion polls, has Kasich dead last in a potential field of 12 candidates for the Republican nomination for president. RCP checked results of six recent polls in which Kasich was the choice of just 1.3 percent of respondents. The leaders were former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, at 16.8, and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, at 16.2.

    But Kasich has advantages over some GOP hopefuls. For one thing, he’s not a member of Congress. He’s an “outsider” like Bush and Walker.

    And Kasich, who sought the Republican nomination once before (George W. Bush beat him), has some experience in a national campaign. Some observers already have predicted Walker will fail because he lacks experience on a national stage.

    Voters in two very important election states, Ohio and Pennsylvania, can view Kasich as a favorite son (he grew up in McKee’s Rocks, Pa.).

    It will be difficult for Kasich’s opponents to jam a silver spoon in his mouth, as they are certain to do with Bush. Kasich, the son of a mailman, can claim as hardscrabble a youth as any candidate.

    For Kasich to pick up steam, several things need to happen. First, the GOP front-runners need to stumble. Walker already has, a bit, but it doesn’t seem to have hurt him. It’s highly unlikely Bush will self-inflict any wounds.

    Second, more people in the national news media need to start talking seriously about Kasich. There’s some hope of that happening.

    Third, deep-pockets donors need to start stepping up to the plate for Kasich.

    But the most critical factor is whether Americans can be persuaded to worry about deficit spending. Clearly, they don’t now and haven’t for some time. They keep re-electing members of Congress who vote for bigger government.

    Most people seem worried more about Islamic terrorists than the national debt. Indeed, the beheaders are a concern – but the chance of getting caught in a terrorist attack is miniscule. Everyone suffers from the $18.2 trillion debt. Kasich’s burden is making them understand that.

    If he can, he has an excellent shot at the nomination – because he has a record of getting fiscal results. While in the House of Representatives, he was chairman of the Budget Committee. There, he got much of the credit for crafting a balanced federal budget in 1997. Nowadays, if Washington holds the annual deficit to half a trillion dollars, everyone declares victory.

    When he became governor, Ohio faced an $8 billion two-year budget gap. Working with legislators, Kasich erased it. Ohio’s economy is growing, in part because of tax relief championed by the governor.

    Some conservatives say Kasich’s chance at the GOP nomination is hurt by his action in expanding the Medicaid program in Ohio, through Obamacare. Do those folks not understand how absolutely critical it is that the 2016 Republican nominee have “compassionate conservative” credentials?

    Kasich already has tested the waters on his strategy, through a six-week tour of about a dozen states in which he advocated a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution. To judge by the poll numbers, the trip did him little good.

    But national public opinion doesn’t win primary elections in key states. My guess is that if Kasich can stay in it long enough to take his case personally to voters in places such as Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina on the eves of their straw polls and primaries, he’s going to surprise a lot of people.

    Mike Myer can be reached at mmyer@theintelligencer.net.


    Filed on at 1:57 am under by dcobranchi

    It’s almost 2 a.m. and I’m wide awake. I’ll probably finally get back on schedule around Friday, just in time for my next trip to Europe.


    Filed on at 1:05 am under by dcobranchi

    Week. Month. Year. Decade. Millenium. Eternity.

    “This fascination that we have with handguns — not just in the city but in this country — has to stop. This is a senseless loss of life,” the police chief said.

    A 1-year-old was shot and killed by a 3-year-old. And this is so commonplace these days, that it hardly makes the news. I wish there were a Hell to consign Wayne LaPierre and the rest of the NRA leadership to. Some combination of Dante’s 7th – 9th circles would seem to be appropriate.


    Filed on April 12, 2015 at 10:32 am under by dcobranchi

    I am an FDR Democrat!


    Filed on at 7:55 am under by dcobranchi

    I could back any Democrat who has the guts to really lead the nation to a better life for all:

    In our day these economic truths have become accepted as self-evident. We have accepted, so to speak, a second Bill of Rights under which a new basis of security and prosperity can be established for all regardless of station, race, or creed.

    Among these are:

    The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or farms or mines of the Nation;

    The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation;

    The right of every farmer to raise and sell his products at a return which will give him and his family a decent living;

    The right of every businessman, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies at home or abroad;

    The right of every family to a decent home;

    The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health;

    The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment;

    The right to a good education.

    All of these rights spell security…

    America’s own rightful place in the world depends in large part upon how fully these and similar rights have been carried into practice for our citizens. For unless there is security here at home there cannot be lasting peace in the world.

    That was FDR 71 years ago. I think we possibly made good on the farmer bit. The rest of them? Not so much.

    Mother Jones has more.


    Filed on April 5, 2015 at 12:15 am under by dcobranchi

    Another country.



    Filed on April 3, 2015 at 10:40 pm under by dcobranchi

    April 4th is Children’s Day here in Hong Kong.


    Filed on at 12:31 am under by dcobranchi

    From the 27th floor of the Holiday Inn Downtown, Shenzhen, China.