Fish Chowder

I made up the recipe for fish chowder while on a canoe trip to the wilderness area near the border of Manitoba and Ontario in 1961. I still use essentially the same recipe today.

This story began when I decided to take a sabbatical from Cornell after my freshman year to hitchhike around the US and grow up. After hitching to Miami, I got a job as a deckhand on the Brigantine Yankee, where I spent nearly six months sailing around the Bahamas for Windjammer Cruises. There I met Jack Alexander, a passenger from Minnesota. I guided him on a couple of SCUBA dives and towed him back to the ship with his tank empty and sharks circling.

I had the 4 to 8 watches, morning and evening, with the Captain because the Skipper was teaching me celestial navigation. At about 7 am, he would go below to clean up for breakfast with the guests. Before that, I would run forward to the galley to get a cup of coffee. Nobody could cross the threshold of Frank’s galley except for the Captain and me. I was Frank’s pal because I’d bring him a nice grouper now and then so he could make his chowder, and gig enough lobsters to feed everybody on board when we anchored off Great Isaac’s Lighthouse.

Great Isaac’s Lighthouse, Bimini, Bahamas

Jack Alexander rose early and, after being rebuffed by Frank (perpetually cranky), talked me into getting him a cup of coffee. We did a lot of talking while I had the wheel.

The Brigantine Yankee

After five months I had to regrettably leave the Yankee because I needed money to go back to Cornell. I had just turned 19 while aboard and returned to hitchhiking, this time to the West coast. I traveled with Rip Bliss, a fellow crewman from Yankee. We first hitched to Chicago so we could go the entire length of Route 66. This adventure is covered extensively in the blog post, “Hitching”.

Once we finally made it to Los Angles, we turned north, and on May 1st, arrived in Seattle. I was pretty much out of cash and Rip completely out. We needed jobs and quickly. After being rejected by the Smoke Jumpers, we hooked up with the Forest Service Pine Shoot moth survey. We traveled around western Washington driving through neighborhoods looking for the moths in garden shrubs. It was a blessing as we were on per diem and therefore had food and lodging covered. That ended when I got sent back to the headquarters to take over the office and rearing of the samples we collected. We raised the samples so we could identify the adults. I had taken a semester of entomology so I was the most qualified. Ha!

The HQ was an abandoned lumber warehouse, so no bed, no fridge, and no stove. With a hot plate, a few pans I bought in a Seattle hock shop, and by running cold water slowly in the bathroom sink overflow, I had the food situation covered. I slept on a half couch with my feet on a folding chair and covered myself with a Marine blanket from my duffle bag. It sucked.

About two weeks of that routine, a letter from Jack Alexander arrived. He wanted me to call him about a job in Minnesota. So I called and Jack explained he wanted me to play big brother to his two boys while living at a cottage on a lake. I was suspicious. It sounded too good, so I was hesitant to commit. I was only 19 but had seen enough to be suspicious. He said that he would send me a plane ticket to come and look it over and a return ticket. If I decided to take the job, I would fly back with my gear after giving my notice to the Forestry Service.

I had only been on two airplanes in my young life, both courtesy of the US Navy. I flew to Pensacola Naval Air Station during spring break of my freshman year. They were trying to convince young NROTC students to sign up for pilot training after graduation. I had no intention of being a pilot but I enjoyed eating, and since the fraternity house where I worked for my food would be closed, my food source was gone. I knew the Navy would feed me three squares a day, so I went.

The Carevelle jet flight from Seattle to Minneapolis was nothing like the Navy DC-3 and T33 trainer. Champagne and steak!

I got to meet the boys–John, 13 and David, 9–and see the situation first hand. Jack visited that evening he explained that as VP of Sales for the granite company he was absent much of the time.  His wife was a wheelchair bound MS victim and he did not want to leave the boys alone all summer.  Jack’s cabin was under construction, so I stayed at his Dad’s cabin (also named John) directly across Big Fish Lake.

My job was to spend time with the boys and teach them swimming, sailing and anything else I could think of, while getting a nominal hourly wage for working at John’s place cutting brush, chopping wood, and other odd jobs.  Jack would supplement my pay at the end of the year sufficiently to return to Cornell. I would still need to work for my food, and likely get some scholarships and loans to pull it together, but it was such a good deal I could hardly refuse.

So I returned and set up housekeeping in John’s cottage. We had swim lessons, some gymnastics and fishing. We built a dock and a float, and I climbed a huge tree and we hung a thick rope from it to make a rope swing. During working hours, we continued work on John Senior’s acreage of woods across the lake.

We noticed a pair of hawks building a nest up high in a very tall tree and thought I’d try to capture one of the chicks just before it learned how to fly.

Jack bought a small sailboat and a number of others on the lake did likewise. I had to rig most of them since they came disassembled and no one else seemed to know much about it. I started teaching people how to sail.

During the first week of June we took a canoe trip to the wild area north of Lake Superior and outfitted with Gun Flint Lodge.

There were 8 of us in three canoes: Jack, John, and Dave and Zeke Zenner and his three boys, Guy, Mark, and Dain. The campsites were already established as this was a common canoe trip route. Nonetheless, it was rugged enough for the young kids. The fishing was fantastic! We caught pike, lake trout, small mouth bass and plenty of big walleyes. Jack landed the biggest walleye I had ever seen before or since, weighing in at 12 to 13 lbs but there were a number of others in the 4 to 7 lb class.

At the conclusion of that trip, Jack asked if John and I would like to stay another few days. Answer, Yes. We resupplied and headed out for exploring some different and off the beaten path lakes. We fished Ogiskemunche, Jasper, Kingfisher and Rice. The portage into Rice was so overgrown that I had to force the canoe I had on my shoulders through the brush and collect swarms of mosquitos under the canoe. We caught some rainbows in there and bass, walleyes and lake trout in the other lakes.

By the time we got back the baby hawks were nearing the day that they would leave the nest so we decided it was time.  We knew that mama and papa hawk were not going to be thrilled with me swiping one of their chicks so I bundled up with a canvas rain jacket with towels across my shoulders underneath. I wore a hard hat held in place by the hood of the rain jacket. The climb up the tree would be tricky because for the first 35 feet or so there were no branches and the tree was pretty thick.  Fortunately, I never gave much thought to falling.  The hawk parents were repeatedly dive bombing me and screeching although they never actually hit me.  I grabbed a chick and dropped him into the bushes below.  He spread his wings to break his fall and he survived.

We put him on a perch we had built out in the yard and started to feed him chipmunks.  As he grew and the chipmunk population declined we switched to stew beef.  We knew little about training a hawk but constructed a lure that we would swing around and reward him when he attacked it.  Since he was not restrained to the perch he eventually flew up into the surrounding trees and the training program stalled.

We had other things to think about as we started planning a trip in August to an area outside of Lac Du Bonnet, Manitoba, located about 90 miles north of Winnipeg. Cold Spring Granite had a quarry and factory there. Jack ordered two fiberglass canoes and had them shipped to the plant. (We’d used aluminum canoes at Gun Flint and they were too noisy.)

As the weeks passed, we got more serious about planning for the trip. First, we got maps and aerial photos of the area where we planned to go. The photos we laminated in plastic with a piece of cardboard. These were more detailed than the map.

The plan was for John and me to go in to the area the first ten days and then Jack would fly in and meet us at Trapline Lake. He would bring David and a second canoe, plus enough food for the four of us for an additional ten days. This was going to require some careful planning and since it was a lengthy trip and we had to carry everything over portages, we couldn’t take a lot of excess gear.

In addition to a tent and sleeping bags we would need cooking pots and utensils. I owned a cooking set of nesting pots, dishes and frying pans. We also bought a reflector oven made of aluminum that collapsed into a flat piece. Of course, an axe, fishing gear, dish soap and our personal items but few clothes. We had a serious first aid kit including suturing kit. We had seen it done when Doc Kelly sewed up Jack’s hand that had been cut with a power saw. I sure hoped I would not have to do that.

Food would be a critical item and with no refrigeration nothing like that would be possible. Nor could we take a lot of canned goods. Too heavy. We did find some freeze dried dinners that we could rely on but it was clear that most of our meals would be fish.

We did have a secret weapon. Really secret. We smuggled in a .22 Armalite rifle that disassembled and all the parts fit in the plastic stock. The whole thing was about a foot long or so and fit nicely into a rolled up sleeping bag. I thought we’d augment our fish diet with small game. What we discovered was that young ducks that could not quite fly were pretty easy to shoot from a quiet canoe. Mighty tasty grilled over a wood fire. The grouse were tame as chickens but the pine squirrels tasted horrible.

We made our own jerky, beef sliced in ¼” thick pieces about 2” wide and 7” long, rolled in a mix of salt, pepper and allspice and hung outside in the sun to dry.

I planned to make Bannock in the reflector oven. It was basically a baking powder biscuit that I made into two large loafs. Big fire with fireplace to direct heat and an eyeball for when baked. Carrying bread was impractical so flour instead.

The plan: I would make two sets of food packs, the first for John and me to take and a second set for Jack to pick up at the cabin.

With all this going on, poor Rip had been neglected. He had not learned how to hunt and would fly out of the trees toward you when you came out of the cabin. We’d throw him a few chunks of beef stew meat. Never gave much thought to what he would do after we left for 20 days.

John and I left on the train from St. Cloud, MN for the overnight to Winnipeg and were met there by one of the employees from the granite company. We went to the plant and picked up the canoe, and he then drove us to the drop off point at Rainier Lake.

This probably seems crazy today in the era of helicoptering parenting. Here we were a 19 year old and a 13 year old heading out into what was pretty much uninhabited territory with no radio or phone to contact anyone if something bad happened to one of us. It would take days for us to get back to the mining road where were scheduled to be picked up in 20 days! We had no idea how much traffic was going up and down that dirt track, if ever. But we were young and never considered the possibility of tragedy.

So we pushed off and started paddling. We had several lakes to get trough to get to Trapline and a number of portages, one almost a mile long. There is some debate about the sequence of lakes but it appears it was Coleman and Bain before we got the long paddle up Wilson and Trapline. The portages required two trips for both of us to get all the gear across. I think it took us three or four days of serious paddling to get to the far end of Trapline where we set up our base camp on an island. As we traveled we’d find a breezy point on which to camp that would keep the mosquitos somewhat a bay. The black flies, much more nasty biters, die off after their swarms in the spring.

We stopped for lunch on sunny points and ate our thick beef jerky and split a loaf of bannock that we washed down with lake water. We made our way into Trapline Lake, a long and very large lake. Since we left the mining road we had seen no one and few, if any, signs of people previously camping anywhere we stopped.

At our perfect site on the island, we built a big fire pit with large flat rocks to direct the heat into the reflector oven, cut pine boughs to put under our sleeping bags, and built a latrine back in the woods well away from the camp.

Fishing was stupid easy. In the morning we could catch two perfect pan sized walleyes that we’d bonk, filet, dip in corn meal and fry in bacon grease. The Crisco we used to bake the bannock and the slab bacon for frying we often ate the fish with a side of oatmeal or Ralston with sugar. No milk.

Trapline Lake is in Ontario so we’d crossed the border at some point and we had no fishing licenses for Ontario. Since we had not seen another human it did not seem worth worrying about.

From our base camp, John and I explored the lake. We had found that our aerial photos were much more useful than our maps. As we explored, we fished at one channel not far from our camp. We both hooked a walleye at the same time so we pulled up on a small island and started chucking our spoons out into the channel. In 45 minutes we caught 33 walleyes!

We also discovered an old, fallen-down, log trappers cabin on the opposite side of the channel. That was the only sign of human habitation we’d seen on the trip. We caught lots of northern pike and even baked one in the reflector oven. Bony but tasty. (We did not then know the technique for cutting out the pesky Y-bones.)

We noticed that there was a small lake that showed clearly on the aerial photo that was not on the map and wondered if the series of channels and small lakes would allow us to gain access to that lake. We decided to wait and do that when Jack and Dave flew in the next day.

Meanwhile, Jack headed out to the cottage to pick up the food packs for the remainder of the trip. As he got out of the car, Rip was trying to land on his head. Rip was unafraid of humans and depended on them for food. John and I had cleaned out the fridge before we left but had missed a couple of moldy hot dogs. Jack tossed the hot dogs out the door and sprinted for the car with the packs. We found out later that Rip had been sitting on the roof of the home of an elderly couple that lived a couple of hundred yards away. He would fly down when they were trying to leave and scared the shit out of them. We never confessed.

The Beaver float plane landed and deposited Jack, David, the canoe and all their gear at our camp on the island. Jack had thoughtfully added fresh steaks and a 12 pack of beer to the food list. We carefully knotted the necks of the bottles of beer to a line and lowered them off a rocky shelf. You only had to go down about 6’ to find really cold water, a fact we discovered while swimming. That night we had a feast of grilled steaks, baked potatoes and cold beer.

John and I had already discovered that a warm sunny day was good for a swim and for washing your clothes. As I said we did not carry a lot of clothes so we’d wash them in the lake, drape them over shrubs to dry while we took a swim and ate lunch.

John in his tidy whities.

The next day we headed up to locate out to see if we could find the mysterious lake that only showed on the aerial photo. As we paddled up the wide channel it would narrow and we’d find a beaver dam. We dragged the canoes around the dams and continued.

Finally, we came to a rocky hill at the end of a wide section of the channel. Although we could see a cut in the hill, we could not get to it because a reed bed blocked the end of the lake. Eventually we found a narrow channel through the reed bed, and after a short trip up a creek and a lift over a beaver dam, we paddled into the lake. As we sat there admiring the lake, we noticed a deer standing on the sunny hillside to our right. David flipped his spoon on a short cast and immediately hooked a nice walleye.

As we explored the lake, it seemed that no one had ever camped there for we could find no old campsites. The fishing was fantastic. David’s three biggest walleyes in one day weighed in at 18 lbs!

We named the lake Our Lake.

David holding a walleye

John fishing in the canoe.

This lake was untouched and the fishing was amazing. We never did go deep for lake trout because we only had spinning gear, and lakers at that time of year would be deep. One day, John and I snuck up on a huge black bear tearing into a rotten log. The wind was blowing hard and we pushed thru the reeds. A spoon clanked against the side of the canoe and when he stood up we realized we were way too close. You could see the flies buzzing around his head! Fortunately, he dropped down and took off up the hill, crashing thru the brush as he went. We had no bear problems with our food. They had not yet learned you could steal easy food from humans.

Another day, we saw a big bull moose standing in the lake eating lily pads. The sun was setting behind us casting a band of reflected light across the lake. We paddled right in that sunlight reflected off the water when he had his head down and sat still when he had his head up. Jack was looking through the Kodak camera and did not realize how close we were. He clicked the camera and could then see it. And he was 16 feet closer than I was in the stern! The moose bolted for the shore, lunging and swimming and as hard as we paddled, we would not catch up with him.

On this trip, my fish chowder was created.

First, in the big kettle I would fry up some thick strips of bacon.
Remove them and set aside.
Then in the bacon fat I would soften a chopped onion.
Add about a quart of water and toss in a couple of sectioned carrots and a couple of potatoes. Salt and pepper. (Now I use chopped garlic and soften with the onion.)
When the carrots and potatoes are soft add the chunks of fish, usually 1” squares. Stir in instant mashed potatoes to thicken.
Top your bowl of chowder with the crumbled bacon.

If we had left overs we would add some liquid, more fish and bits of leftover duck or grouse. We’d call that “Conglomeration Stew”.

The following year, immediately after my return from my sophomore year, all four of us headed back to Our Lake. I have no photos of that trip or any written journal. On that trip, John Sr., Jack’s father, flew in with Pat, Jack’s half brother. When they flew out ,the now-heavier Beaver had a hell of a time getting enough altitude to get out of there. He took several runs at it before he could clear the ridge at the end of the lake. Scary.

In 1963, for a change of pace, we took a different trip to a place recommended by Doc Selznick. We called it derisively “Selznick’s Wilderness”. It was far from it. At one point we found ourselves paddling next to a busy paved highway. I seem to remember that Pat was on that trip and maybe Clint Elston?

One note on Rip the hawk. Early on, I had taught him to respond to my shrill whistle. I did not know if he survived the winter. After we returned from the canoe trip, I went outside the cabin and gave a whistle. He screeched in return and I could see him flying around in the trees but he did not come down. I was glad he survived.

Jack Alexander, born 1925, died 2018.

Thanks for all the great adventures, Jack!


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Is this a Political Realignment?

From the perspective of three generations of sucking up 02 and exhaling dreaded C02, I think I have noted some changes in the political landscape. This is certainly evident in this year’s Presidential election.

In decades past, the south was solidly Democrat as was the industrial north as union members and blacks voted almost exclusively for the Democrats. But in those days, the Democrats were not nearly so radically leftist. John Kennedy, for example got tax cuts and regulation reduction causing an economic boom. So did Reagan and Trump after him with the same result.

The Republicans were regarded as the party of the rich and the intellectual classic liberals like William F. Buckley. (The classic liberals would be characterized as conservatives today and, of course, modern liberals are now more socialist.)

Over the decades the “administrative state” has grown exponentially and the government workers now comprise 9 million workers or 6% of the total. With this growth comes the unionization of government employees. This, of course, does not include people employed by state and local governments. The teachers’ unions and the postal workers’ unions care more about serving themselves than results. As a consequence, school performance by students and efficiency at the postal service both continue to decline despite bags of money thrown at them every year. Their generous retirement benefits are billions in the hole.

Naturally, these government employees will continue to vote Democrat to protect their self-interest. While public employee unions were growing, traditional manufacturing and construction union membership declined as manufacturing moved offshore and immigration cut into construction jobs.

In recent national elections, if you look at the counties who vote GOP in red vs counties voting Democrat in blue, the map is mostly red from coast to coast. The blue counties are typically in and around big metropolitan areas. These counties are populated by “urban atheists”. They also have a large population of blacks and other ethnic minorities. However, the raw numbers in the blue counties far out weighs the vote tallies from the rest of the state.

The “left coast” states of California, Oregon and Washington demonstrate the results. Washington has not had a Republican governor in 35 years, Oregon 33 years. Schwarzenegger was the last GOP governor in California and he left office in 2011. All 6 senators from those three states are Democrats as are the mayors of all the major cities. The situation is the same in the major cities on the east coast too.

The west coast cities in particular are a mess. Homeless encampments line the sidewalks with filth and rampant drug use. Theft to support drug habits goes unpunished by liberal prosecutors and a revolving door policy. At the same time, as violent riots plague these cities, they decide to “defund the police”! The blacks who live in these cities can see it and favor more police to protect their neighborhoods.

This election is about weather or not you prefer style over substance. The working class, the previous Democrat supporters, the blacks and the Hispanics, seem to be clearly falling on the side of substance. Democrats are worried that they may lose their huge support from the minority voters and the working class of the rust belt states who turn out in massive numbers for Trump’s rallies. These people are primarily working class and middle class voters, not rich Republicans. The wealthy and especially the super rich from Silicone Valley and Wall Street are now Democrats. That’s why Biden has twice as much money in his coffers as the Trump campaign.

The questions are, can the swing states manipulate the numbers in the counting process? And are their enough Democrats and RINOS who hate Trump sufficiently to provide a winning count?

As I said, here has not been a Republican governor in Washington in 35 years. The last Republican to threaten the Democrat establishment was Dino Rossi in 2004. Dino won on election night and won on the first recount and the second recount. But on the third recount he lost by 42 votes. In King County, the home of the heavily Democrat city of Seattle they kept finding votes, some in the trunks of cars.

I think that’s what we can expect in this election. That and riots.

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Here Comes Joe and Company

Despite hiding out in his basement and countless blunders suggesting declining mental abilities, Joe Biden is leading by wide margins in the polls and “battle ground states”. He might well defeat Trump to the widespread joy of liberals, Hollywood, and the press.

Joe W.H.O.? - Imgflip

For Trump’s entire term he has been bombarded by one phony scandal after another and the strictly partisan impeachment as well as the constant vitriol of cable news, nasty Nancy and snarky Schumer. They figured out how to bait him into angry responses and bombast that did little to endear him to independent voters.

And, we should not forget the Swamp, the enormous collection of lawyers, lobbyists and consultants who feed on the vast sums of money that flows through Washington. Trump promised to “drain the swamp” but the swamp creatures of all political stripes have been fighting desperately to keep the cash flowing.

Despite all that obstructive diversion, Trump was able to create a booming economy and against strong opposition, stem the tide of illegal aliens streaming across the border. Black unemployment hit record lows, he passed prison reform and increased funding for traditional black colleges. His popularity with blacks was increasing and threatening the chokehold the Democrats held on the black vote for 50 years. Trump’s reelection looked pretty likely.

Then two events changed things. First and obviously, the COVID-19 pandemic brought the economy to a standstill. Then the murder of George Floyd provided the spark to unleash the Black Lives Matter movement with the ensuing marches and riots. No matter that the founders of BLM are Marxists! The career Republicans are running for their lives, thinking only of their own survival.

So what can we anticipate from a Joe Biden Presidency and let’s assume that the Democrats hold the House with Nasty Nancy at the helm? If Biden wins, Schumer and company might well take over the Senate. With complete control there will be wholesale changes. First of all, we should recognize that Biden will NOT be leading the charge. He will be just a figurehead and they would do just as well with a cardboard cutout. Others behind the scene will be calling the shots. Anyway, here’s my short list:

1) Biden has already let it slip that he favors a $2 trillion dollar tax increase. For an economy trying to recover from a pandemic induced recession, this is a terrible idea.

2) The Green New Deal, probably the worst idea in modern history, would be implemented. Not only does it require spending trillions of dollars, again a bad idea in a recession, it would end the energy independence achieved by Trump’s policies. Funded by the Russians and led by climate change zealots has already delayed and led to cancellations of dozens of pipelines that would deliver cheap natural gas to cities on the East Coast.

AOC’s Green New Deal would put an end to fracking, and hence, the energy independence brought about by Trump’s policies. Drilling would also be curtailed and trillions invested in solar and windmill projects instead. As in the Obama Administration much of that money would sink into the swamp. Hundreds of thousand of workers in the energy industry would lose their jobs.

Those two policies alone would be enough to stifle any recovery to the economy from the disaster of the C-19 pandemic.

3) The southern border would again be open and I would not be surprised to see the Democrats tear down Trump’s border wall. That would drive down wages and increase unemployment in an already challenging labor market as a wave of illegal immigrants rush the border for “free stuff”.

4) Say goodbye to the health care system. Democrats love free healthcare for everyone. Despite the expense and ineptitude of such systems, the Democrats will plunge boldly ahead.

5) To try to stifle an armed revolt they may try to take everyone’s guns away. It seems impossible they would be that stupid because it could trigger an armed rebellion.

The more likely approach is to try to insure their power forever. First, they would eliminate the filibuster so that the Senate could pass legislation by simple majority vote. Then despite a Constitutional prohibition, they will give DC two senators. They will permit mail in ballots universally insuring fraud to taint any election. They will pack the Supreme court with liberal justices.

With all that in place, the US will face Democrat rule forever or until the country turns into Venezuela and becomes a satellite of China. So, in less than 250 years the greatest democracy in history will be lost.

It reminds of us the famous quote by Nikita Khrushchev, long dead former head of the Russian communist party. He said, “You can’t expect the American people to jump from capitalism to communism, but we can assist their leaders in giving them small doses of socialism, until one day they find they have communism”.

I hope the people who absolutely hate Trump will be happy with that outcome!

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St. George

Hall enacts 'duty to intervene' rule; Dallas mourns George Floyd ...

    The brutal and heartless killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis caught on video has sparked outrage and anger throughout the US and indeed the world.  Marches, looting and rioting rocked inner cities across the US.  As usual in these race protests, stores and businesses were burned and looted.  The people who live in these neighborhoods will have to go somewhere else to buy groceries and to get their medications, maybe for a long time.  The owners of these shops may not be able to rebuild or simply choose not to take the risk again.  That’s what happened in Watts and SE Los Angeles after the Rodney King riots in 1992.

    The funerals and eulogies go on and on for Mr. Floyd. It is now two weeks after his death and there is yet another funeral service in Houston today.  The service was carried on all major networks and every cable network.  It has started to sound like George was a Gandhi or Mandela.  Maybe a martyred saint? More on that a bit further on.

    Certainly his killer, former officer Derek Chauvin, is no saint.  He has 18 complaints against him about excessive violence and several shootings, including one that resulted in the death of a suspect. The graphic video shows his sneering disdain for the life of the man under his knee.

    Interestingly, Derek and George knew each other as they both worked at El Nuevo Rodeo as security guards at this popular Minneapolis club that had a largely minority clientele.

His rough treatment of rowdy customers was reported to the owner on numerous occasions.  The fact that Chauvin and Floyd knew each other raises another troubling aspect to this tragic story.

    Mr. Floyd has a history of trouble with the law and has accumulated a long list of convictions.  As is usual with career criminals, there are usually many more violations of the law that did not result in convictions.

    1990  Theft and possession of cocaine.

    1998  Ten months in prison for firearm robbery.

    2002  Thirty days for criminal trespass.

    2002  Eighteen months for cocaine violation.

    2004  Ten months for cocaine violation.

    2007  Five years for armed home invasion/robbery and pointing a gun at a pregnant woman.

    When Floyd got out of prison in Texas he moved to Minneapolis to “turn his life around”.  He worked as a truck driver and bouncer.  Indeed, he has had no convictions since the five-year stretch in Houston.  His autopsy showed that, at the time of his death, he had the following illegal drugs in his system: Fentanyl, methamphetamines, cannabis, and morphine.  So at the least, we know that George had not dealt with his drug problem.  A shop owner called the cops when George tried to pass a bad bill and unfortunately, Chauvin showed up.

    During the riots and protests that broke out throughout US cities, a 38-year veteran of the St. Louis police department was shot trying to protect a pawnshop.  His name was David Dorn, a retired police Captain and an African-American.  This honorable and decent man killed in a senseless shooting by a black youth received almost no mention in the press.  I guess it didn’t fit the narrative of corrupt police killing innocent blacks. Other police officers were killed and hundreds injured in the riots.

    Now the cry is to de-fund the police and/ or completely eliminate the police departments.  How do they think that’s going to work out?  My guess is anarchy, especially in the poor neighborhoods.  Then you will have a huge increase in gun ownership, some legal and much not.  Are they going to call a social worker when some asshole is breaking into your house to rape your daughter and steal your TV?

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I Have Met the Enemy and He is Us

Walt Kelly was a cartoonist who created a popular comic strip called “Pogo” that went syndicated in newspapers across the US in 1948. It featured a cast of Okefenokee swamp animals led by the Opossum, Pogo and Allie the alligator.

While it could be enjoyed by children, Kelly also used the strip as his platform to express his political and philosophical views in satire and parody. He made some powerful enemies with his uncanny caricatures of politicians like Joe McCarthy and J. Edgar Hoover. All with names changed, of course.

One of his famous phrases during a “war” in the swamp was the slight modification of Oliver Hazard Perry’s message upon defeating the British during the battle of Lake Erie in the War of 1812. Perry said, “I have met the enemy and he is ours.”

Loi and I loved Pogo during the late ‘60’s and 70’s we used to sing Pogo’s traditional Christmas carol to our kids. Eventually the kids would sing it too.

Sung to the tune of “Deck the Halls” it went like this:

Deck us all with Boston Charlie
Walla Walla Wash and Kalamazoo!
Nora’s freezin’ on the trolley
Swaller dollar cauliflower alley-garoo

Don’t we know archaic barrel
Lullaby Lillie boy Louisville Lou
Trolley Molly don’t love Herald
Boola boola Pensacola hullaballo

It went on like that for 4 more verses but we usually never made it that far before collapsing in laughter.

Bear with me I will eventually get to the point.

Sitting at home sheltered in place or whatever you choose to call it, you have plenty of time to think, and watch television. The body count is listed on the screen constantly like the stock market fluctuations. Sort of a morbid hourly body count. You begin to wonder if Pogo was right, the enemy is us!

The projections on how many people would die from this virus have been wildly off, bringing into question who is creating these models anyway? First it was a couple of million, then downshifted to 200,000 and finally settling in at 60,000. Let’s say they over-corrected and it’s slightly higher to say, 80,000? You also have to wonder if these are the same modelers who are creating the climate change predictions?

With this thought in mind I wondered how many deaths we have in any given year in the US from other diseases? What I learned was that there were 2,813,503 deaths in 2018. Of those diabetes (so near and dear to my heart) was number 7 on the list of ten most at 83,000. That’s slightly less than alcohol related deaths at 88,000. Drug overdoses were 55,000, auto accidents 33,600 and suicide at 47,000. Those were small compared to the biggies…. Heart disease: 647,000 and Cancer: 600,000. The next of the top five were all greater than diabetes.

Did you see that flashing on your TV screen? “Today 20,000 people died of heart disease. Older people are advised to sit this out in their basements and cower in fear!”

Data from, 4/18/2020.

The question I have to ask is, have we over reacted to this virus? I say that with full knowledge that my wife and I are in the highest risk group. Over 28% of all deaths are in the 70+ age groups and to top it off, we both have other risk factors.

Data numbers are confusing–of all the coronavirus deaths, over 80% are over 60 years old. The percentages here are those of infected patients, 14.8% of those 80+ do not survive, not 14.8% of the total population.

So, with hopes that I do not alert the Karma Gods, let me say that this virus is not worth destroying the US economy by over-reaction. My wife and I have lived through several really bad economic times. The late 1970s was arguably the worst. The rate of inflation hovered around 12% and mortgage rates were about the same. Reagan, in his Presidential campaign, added them up and called it the “Misery Index”. He got elected because everyone was indeed miserable. He and the Fed went on a campaign to break the back of inflation and interests rates got cranked up to over 18%. Imagine buying a house with that rate to look forward to? With inflation finally under control, Reagan began the largest peacetime expansion prior to Trump.

Naturally, the Democrats and media have welcomed this pandemic misery because it essentially destroyed the major advantage Trump had going into the 2020 elections—-the booming economy. Nor is it surprising that the Democrats led by the Evil Queen Pelosi would blackmail Trump into cramming non-virus funding into bills meant to help workers and business. These career politicians don’t care if people lose their life savings or their businesses. They still have their jobs and fat perks so they can play politics and the little people be damned. They sit on their asses instead of passing legislation to help the workers and businesses. Pelosi has had the Democrats sitting at home while a bill is pending.

Michigan Gov. Whitmer faces fierce backlash over strict stay-at ...

This “crisis” has also brought out the worst tyrannical instincts of some politicians. Governor Whitmer of Michigan has led the way with some of her idiotic and unconstitutional dictates. My cousin lives there so I get some first-hand reports. Some of her more head shaking rules are: no fishing unless in a canoe or kayak. One fellow was fined $1200 for fishing by himself in a quiet lake. His crime? He had a motor on his boat.

The tyrant governor has also banned the purchase of seeds, paint and any home improvement supplies. Of course, you can still get booze but you can’t walk in a park. She has banned driving to your cottage in the Upper Peninsula. Apparently she hasn’t realized that in the sparsely populated areas, “social distancing” happens by default. Oh, nearly forgot, she banned all elective surgeries but abortions are just fine. Essential apparently. Calling them “life sustaining”. Now that’s an oxymoron if I ever heard one.

The people of Michigan are fed up and are protesting loudly. So are other states. The pressure is building and the future of our children and grandchildren is at stake. This madness has to end. Yes, some people are going to die. Maybe me. But as I pointed out, people die every day of other stuff. We are going to have to pay a heavy price for this total shutdown of the economy and the trillions of dollars tossed at it. Inflation is the likely result and if the Democrats take power in January, it will take decades to get out of it, if ever.

China, Russia and Iran may indeed be our enemies, but we may be the worst of all.

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Chauncey for President

Given the public gaffs of the Democrat chosen candidate, Biden, people have begun to compare him to Bernie in the hilarious movie, “Weekend at Bernie’s.”

Spoiler alert: Bernie is dead.

I think the more appropriate movie comparison is “Being There,” a 1979 movie starring Peter Sellers and Shirley MacLaine. It’s about a quirky man who spends his entire life on the estate of a wealthy man. He’s a simpleton and he takes care of the owner’s garden. No, I am not calling Biden a simpleton; Biden is an elderly man and his mental faculties are declining. I see it happening quickly in some of my friends and I see my own acuity slipping. Biden shows signs of early Alzheimer’s.

The official movie poster.

Chance the gardener has had no education, never left the estate and everything he knows he got from watching television.

Chance the Gardener

When the old man dies, Chance is out on the street but has the old man’s clothes and mannerisms. He is taken in by another wealthy family and speaks in profound-sounding phrases like, “Everything will grow strong at the right time,” and “As long as the roots are not severed, all is well.” All nonsense in the context but regarded by the political powers as profound!

The owner of his new home is well connected politically, and thinks Chauncey Gardiner a wise man. He introduces him to the president who is also impressed with his answer to every question with some principles of gardening. Soon Chauncey finds himself interviewed by the press and on TV shows, and eventually, suggested as a presidential pick.

Jerzy Kosinski who wrote the book and the screenplay, intended it to be a parody or caricature of Washington politics and the press. This whole Democrat primary season has shown that to be extraordinarily accurate.

My first thought was that Bernie and Biden would duke it out until the convention and then a brokered convention would select Hilary as the alternative. The Democrats had only one objective–beat Trump. It looked like Bernie had the most enthusiastic followers, but the powers in the Democrat party figured that a wild-haired, arm-waving, raving communist would stand no chance against Trump. So they picked Biden and everyone started building him up.

Bernie Sanders tax returns show both income and tax rate jumped ...

The Democrats have spent the first three years of Trump’s term trying
to get rid of the guy…….almost from the moment he was inaugurated. It did not work.

Pelosi once said she prayed for Trump every day and I’m sure she did, likely praying for God to help her get rid of him. Her prayers were answered in the form of a pandemic. Now they had “Trump’s Katrina” and could blame his administration for every mistake and every death. They were blaming him for not being prepared for the pandemic. No one was prepared, particularly the states that did not spend the money to build up any inventory of ventilators, facemasks and PPE (much of which were depleted and not restocked after the H1N1 epidemic in 2010) and closed hospitals. Couple that with the massive demand increase worldwide for this stuff. And then, of course, you have China that produces most of this equipment, including nearly all of our medications. Shortages are not surprising.

Trump had been complaining about China for years before he decided to run for President and has been trying to bring back manufacturing to the US from China since he was inaugurated. This crisis should shed light on this problem like never before. China is worried about losing a lot of manufacturing so after causing this pandemic and hiding the danger, they are now trying to redeem themselves with donations.

With the Democrats becoming increasingly concerned about Biden, I look to my (enter proper non-gender specific pronoun here) in law who I regard as my weather vane for showing which way the wind is blowing in the Democrat party. He/she is voluble on social media and is singing the praises of Cuomo, the governor of New York.

Gov Cuomo of NY

Indeed, he appears to have gotten the message and is seemingly campaigning in his daily press conferences carried on national TV. The anti-Trump media has gotten the word, too. They’ve also figured out that Trump’s daily briefings and the team of experts with him in those briefings has caused his ratings to go up. They are now proposing not to air the national briefings by the task force but to air the bloviating by Cuomo. He never mentions Trump but refers to assistance as “from the Federal government” and he’s none too grateful for that assistance. Yes, he’s seen the golden path to the White House and he lusts for it.

Getting Cuomo to be the candidate for president and to get rid of Biden while keeping Bernie at arm’s length is going to take some clever political jujitsu. Biden is pretty easy. They just tell the world that his doctors have advised him to retire. Dr. Jill Biden had her heart set on being first lady, but Hillary could just threaten her.

Bernie might be a problem. I do not pretend to know the rules of the Democrat party in the candidate selection process, but exceptions can be made and rules changed. Shutting Bernie up and getting his fervent supporters to vote for either Biden or Cuomo might be tough job. Party loyalty won’t work because Bernie is not even a Democrat.

It’s been quite a year and we are only winding up the first quarter. The rest of the year should be a doozy! Trump’s fate will depend on how quickly he can handle the virus and get the economy rolling again.

As Trump says all the time, “We’ll see what happens”.

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Impeach Him!!

    The day after Trump was inaugurated in 2017 the Washington Post had a headline that said, “The Campaign to Impeach Trump Has Begun” (dated 20 January 2017).  Ten days later, Mark Zaid, the attorney for the Ukrainian whistle blower tweeted, “Coup has started.  First of many steps.”

    In May of 2017 Rep. Al Green in a floor speech urged the House to impeach the President and in July articles of impeachment were filed for the first time.  I guess that was the first time of seven that impeachment was attempted.  So they finally got him.  It took almost three years of constant resistance and help from the liberal media.

    It appears to have started even before Trump got elected.  The recent spanking of the FBI over misrepresentations to the FISA court for approval to wiretap the Trump campaign proves it. 

    Then, of course, the Russian collusion started.  This idea fit right into the Democrats disbelief that Trump could not have beaten Hillary in a fair election.  Enter special prosecutor Mueller and his merry band of Democrat vulture lawyers.  Two years and $30 million dollars later they had nothing and it fizzled like spit on a hot wood stove.  The Democrats had counted on the Russian collusion thing to give them the ax to get rid of Trump.  Meanwhile, with the economy booming along and unemployment at record lows, the Democrats were desperate to find something.  He might well get reelected and probably get to appoint another Supreme Court justice!!

    Along comes a phone call between the President and Ukraine.  Time was running out but they figured they could hang this one around his neck and even though they knew the Senate would never convict, they figured Trump might be damaged enough.

    Against her better judgment Speaker Pelosi let the majority Democrats vote and turned it over to Adam Schiff, the Chairman of the Intelligence committee.  (He reminds me of a pencil necked, bug eyed lemur.)  Frankly, I think this whole whistleblower thing was a fraud dreamed up by Schiff, the lawyer mentioned above who tweeted ten days after inauguration that “the coup has started” and some Democrat inside the White House.

    Schiff ran secretive and unfair hearing, allowing no witness for Trump or his lawyers.  Much of it was in secret.

Handing it off to Nadler’s Judiciary committee they started to draft the articles.  They poll tested several, later discarding “quid pro quo”, “bribery”, treason and “extortion” before settling on abuse of power by requesting foreign assistance in an election.  The second article was obstructing Congress by refusing to send documents and officials to testify.  These are the thinnest of charges and even debatable as to their validity.

    Pelosi put the vote to the House.  The Democrats all wore black and each speaker called it a somber or sad occasion.  What a clown show!  No Republican vote for it and a few Democrats voted against it. Sad my ass.  The left was overjoyed.

    Her next duty was to send it over to the Senate for trial for conviction or acquittal.  She refused to do it insisting that a fair trial wouldn’t happen unless they could bring their own witnesses.  Fair trial after what they had conducted in the House?  Audacious but laughable. They’re scared the source of the whole coup will be exposed.  And they think that simply laying the impeached thing on him is enough anyway.

    To use Trump’s favorite expression, “We’ll see what happens.”

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OK, Greta, You Win.

    Greta Thunberg, the Swedish 16 year old high school student fresh off her speech at the UN has been touring Canada preaching her message of climate alarmism to massive crowds of mostly teens.  Of course, these students have been indoctrinated in this climate fraud in school.  She has become the Pied Piper of climate change leading her children followers with her simple tune.

16-year-old Swedish Climate activist Greta Thunberg speaks at the 2019 United Nations Climate Action Summit at U.N. headquarters in New York City, New York, U.S., September 23, 2019. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri – HP1EF9N1AIFX9

    I tried to find out what solutions she proposes we adopt to achieve her goal of saving the human race and it boils down to 4 simple steps.

  • Fly less or not at all
  • Go vegan (Note: She did not suggest we kill all the cows.  Just stop eating them.)
  • Join at activist group.
  • Vote.

    If she and her fellow true believers blame CO2, I don’t see how her plan does much to stop climate change.  On the other hand I doubt either she or her followers in Canada have given a lot of serious thought to the realities of Canada.  First of all, Canada only produces 1.6% of the world’s CO2.  Secondly, Canada may already be carbon neutral.  Half of Canada is covered by forest or nearly 1 million square miles.  Surely, Greta and her teen admirers know that trees absorb carbon dioxide and emit oxygen.  Then again, maybe not.

    This reality has not stopped the NDP and Green Party of BC from dictating drastic policies to reduce CO2.  They want the following:

  • By 2030 all new cars will be electric.
  • By 2040 all internal combustion cars will be replaced by electric.
  • By 2030 all mass transit vehicles will be electric and also all new buildings will be zero emissions, they too will be electric.  No mention is made of farm equipment or long haul trucks or trains.  Also, no mention of where all this electricity is going to come from. No coal or gas electrical generation and god forbid no nuclear either.  That pretty much leaves wind, hydro and solar so that we can charge all those electric vehicles and heat and air condition the buildings.

    The media, the politicians and the schools have convinced the vast majority of the population that we need to get rid of CO2. 

    So I say let’s do!  Screw Alberta and Saskatchewan .  Shut down all oil and gas production and with that you don’t need pipelines anymore.  Too bad that the pipeline provides all the avgas for the Vancouver airport.  That means few planes carrying tourists will be flying into VGH.  Say goodbye to tourism and all those jobs.  Businesses would abandon BC like ducks heading south after a heavy freeze. With the inevitable tanking of the economy all those sanctimonious young folks clamoring for action on climate change would find it impossible to find a job. Not everyone can work for the government. Besides, the government would be short of funds with lack of business and payroll taxes, not to mention gas taxes. 

    I think the Greta acolytes might then agree that this virtue signaling to be too expensive.

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What About Bob?

    Ever since Trump’s surprise victory over Hillary there has been a concerted effort to get rid of the guy.  They were convinced he could not have done it without help from somebody.  Of course, it was obvious that the famous stolen emails from Hillary and the DNC played a large role.  Initially it was reported that at least 5 foreign governments had all broken into the totally unsecure computers. Then John Brennan, Director of the CIA and James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence said no, it was the Russians. Both of these guys were appointed by Obama and had total control of all the various intelligence organizations.  The much-touted line that all 17 of the intelligence operations agreed that the Russians did it is meaningless because these two yahoos controlled them all!

    Clapper and Brennan got to show their true colors when after leaving government went on to serve as “experts” for anti-Trump TV networks.  Brennan went to MSNBC and famously called Trump a traitor. Clapper, who once lied in testimony to Congress and later admitted it, went to CNN.  Both former Obama appointees frequently accused the President of having colluded with the Russians to steal the election.

    The appointment of Bob Mueller as Special Counsel, the Democrats believed, would get rid of Trump.  Over two years and $35 million dollars later, staffed with a collection of blood-thirsty Hillary supporting Democrat prosecutors concluded that there was no collusion.  On the issue of obstruction they left some wiggle room although it seemed impossible to obstruct an investigation into a non-crime.  Democrats decided that if they could get Mueller to say he thought Trump obstructed justice that they could have grounds for impeachment.  They brought him in to testify before Congress.

    Mueller’s performance was, to say the least, pitiful.  He clearly knew little about the whole investigation and had obviously just been a figurehead.  It was a total bust for the Democrats and that it became obvious he did not write the report and seemed totally oblivious to the highly partisan leanings of his committee.

    Then suddenly Bob Mueller disappeared from the anti-Trump talk shows of CNN and MSNBC and the other media outlets.  It was like heroic Bob never existed.  Now the Republicans wanted to know how this whole false story got started in the first place and that might raise some embarrassing questions before the next election.  No one on the left wanted to mention Russia.

    The brain trust of the Democrat party came up with a new strategy to damage Trump.  He’s a racist!  The Democrats have relied on the black vote to lead to electoral success.  They routinely get 90 to 95% of the black vote.  All major cities have Democrat mayors.  As retired basketball superstar, Charles Barkley said a few years ago, “Blacks have been voting for Democrats for their whole lives and they are still poor.” Indeed, anyone courageous enough to drive through the inner city of any major US city will soon discover what a hopeless mess they are.

    Trump’s policies have helped these folks and they noticed. Black support for Trump has grown and this worries Democrats.  Hence the constant cries that he is a racist.  As a famous Nazi propagandist named Goebbels once said, “Repeat a lie often enough and it becomes the truth.”  Democrats need to keep that black vote to succeed and the loss of even 10% support scares the shit out of them.

    Trump needs to continue to go after the black vote by campaigning in black communities and doing some new programs like establishing trade schools in the inner cities.  Inner city schools are awful.  The teachers unions obstruct any effort to improve them but why can’t the administration set up some federally funded trade schools?

    The Department of Education has a budget of $68 billion and has 4000 employees.  Since the DOE does not educate a single child, what the Hell do they do?  Surely the administration could slash the paperwork and whole departments and have lots of cash left to fund trade schools.  Teach these hopeless kids to be welders, plumbers, carpenters, etc. and give them some skills to find a job.  Blacks would notice.

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“Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.”

                 John Adams

“Everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but they are not entitled to their own facts.

         Daniel P. Moynihan, four term US Senator

I couldn’t decide between the two above wise quotes so I put them both in.  I thought it was appropriate because facts seem to be in short supply on the AGW, climate change side.

Wildfires, or forest fires in the older parlance, are widely touted as dramatically increasing as a result of climate change.  Of course, the bad ones are extensively covered by the news media and it’s easy for people to conclude that they are happening with increasing frequency and magnitude.

In Canada where this idea is widely touted the facts show otherwise.  According to the Canadian National Fire Database “The data shows a decline in the number of fires and the size of the areas destroyed”.  They further say, “Changing temperature and precipitation extremes can be expected to lead to a change in the likelihood of events such as wildfires, droughts and floods.”  In other words…….the weather! Last summer was hot and dry and we had a bunch of wildfires.  More were predicted for this summer but Ma Nature decided to move the jet stream around a touch and we’ve had a wet summer so far.

I wrote a blog post a couple of years ago about the “expert” who predicted we’d have another drought year after the previous dry summer.  He warned we’d need to start conserving water immediately.  He made a full front page in the Vancouver newspaper.  Wrong.  We had a very wet summer and no shortage of water.  The newspaper was uninterested in my letter reminding them of the erroneous and frightening prediction.

So too, are the breathless reports on annual heat waves.  The US Environmental Protection Agency report on heat waves in the US going back to 1895 shows no trend during that period.  A big spike happened in the 1920s and especially 1930s (think Dust Bowl) but reverted to the trend line thereafter.  Meanwhile, the global CO2 level rose steeply since the 1950s.

Back a few years ago it was widely reported that climate change caused a rapid rise in the number of hurricane landfalls, tornados and wildfires.  University of Colorado scientist, Dr. Roger Pielke Jr. decided to go back the record books and check the facts. He published a paper and then a book (Climate Fix) reporting that there was no increase in hurricane landfalls, tornados or wild fires in the US over the historical average.

For this heresy he was excommunicated from the polite climate fraternity of scientists, widely vilified and threatened. Confronted with the facts evoked anger. Fortunately for him, burning at the stake is no longer legal.

Facts don’t seem to trouble anyone and the screams about the end on Earth as we know it is imminent unless we change our way of life.  In Canada the politicians all are signed up to the idea that we need to eliminate all CO2 by 2050.  In the US it’s even more ambitious.  AOC and the Democrats are spouting the idea of getting rid of all CO2 by 2030.  None of these folks has spent 15 minutes trying to figure out how much alternative sources of energy we would need for this wonderful all electric society.

Vancouver energy consultant, Aldyen Donnelly, has given it a shot.  To replace all the fossil fuel with no carbon energy would require building 2.5 hydro power dams the size of the $13 billion Site C dam in BC every year for the foreseeable future!  Using solar and wind is equally daunting.  It takes one million solar panels to produce one gigawatt of electricity.

    To achieve the global goal by 2050 could be done by nuclear.  Sure.  You would only need to build one 1.5 gigawatt nuclear plant every day for the next 30 years.  Achieving this goal by any method borders on insanity.

    First coal was the enemy, at least in North America.  Of course, China and India blew off that idea with a wave.  As a substitute coal fired power plants were converted to natural gas and we have plenty of that.  But, pipelines are also evil in the minds of the environmentalists so they obstruct a method of getting the gas from the wells to the power plants.  In the recent heat wave in New York City this lack of pipeline capacity resulted in power outages as cityfolk cranked up the A/C.

This shortage of pipeline capacity will only get worse as more and more we convert to electricity with insufficient ways to make the stuff.  The radicals can’t have it both ways.

    There is no correlation between the increase in atmospheric CO2 and warming, or anything else really. So does it really make sense to destroy our economy and way of life to get rid of the stuff?  Somebody needs to get the facts to the voters and especially the politicians.

  Note:  A lot of the info for this article comes from “Green World War III” by Terrance Corcoran in the Financial Post on June 21, 2019.  Also and article by Ross McKitrick on the same page.

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