From the Washington Post:

Trump's spokeswoman and campaign manager have yet to respond to a request for a fuller explanation of Trump's comments about the president.

I have a feeling this sentence is going to get a lot of use over the next few months. As for what this is about, apparently Donald Trump was busily making the TV circuit this morning implying saying outright that "there's something's going on" with President Obama and Islamic terrorism. This is, of course, front page news, so now we all have to talk about it. Tomorrow we'll get the thumbsuckers and fact checks explaining that, no, Obama is not in league with ISIS and he doesn't hate America—but those will be on A13 because Trump will be on to something else and that will take up the front page.

Plus I guess Trump gave a speech about something. Let's see...oh, here it is:

This was going to be a speech on Hillary Clinton and how bad a President, especially in these times of Radical Islamic Terrorism, she would be....But today there is only one thing to discuss: the growing threat of terrorism inside of our borders.

Reading through it, it sounds like a teleprompter special. A bunch of mush about getting tough and banning immigration from Muslim countries etc. etc., but without quite so many howlers of fact as usual. I guess we'll have to keep waiting for the speech about how bad a president Hillary would be.

This is barely worth mocking anymore, let alone covering seriously. I'm off to lunch.

BuzzFeed's Ben Smith was at Mitt Romney's big annual bash in Park City this weekend, which fairly seethed with anti-Trump sentiment. However, Trump had an ally in attendance: Anthony Scaramucci, the former Obama supporter who became a former Romney supporter who became a former Scott Walker supporter who became a former Jeb Bush supporter and is now a Donald Trump fundraiser. This history suggests that Scaramucci doesn't actually care much for Trump, but hey—he's a hedge fund manager. He'll sell whatever dog food he has to sell. And right now that's Donald Trump.

But Smith's story sure doesn't make Scaramucci look very effective in this role. "Scaramucci tried a series of approaches in quick succession," the story says, but those approaches look to me like they came from a sixth grader. You don't want eight more years of government regulation, do you? You don't want to abandon Paul Ryan, do you? You don't want to hurt the Republican Party, do you? And anyway, Trump "needs your wisdom," possibly the most hilarious serious sales pitch anyone has ever made on behalf of Trump. These are all pathetically obvious approaches. Then Scaramucci tried a harder sell:

“Let me ask you one other question,” he said. “What if he wins?”

“Do you want Sean ‘Puffy’ Combs to be the secretary of state and Gary Busey to be on the Supreme Court?”

This, Scaramucci suggested, is what Republicans can expect if they don’t get on the Trump Train now. (Combs and Busey — who Trump fired in 2013 on Celebrity Apprentice — support Trump. However, the candidate’s actual appeal to Republicans is how very very responsible he will be about Supreme Court appointments.)

“Everybody should oppose him, he wins anyway, and he should open the tent?” he asked, shaking his head.

Wait. WTF is this supposed to mean? It sounds like Scaramucci is saying that if mainsteam Republicans oppose him but Trump wins anyway, Trump is going to give the establishment a big fat middle finder by appointing two idiots to the Supreme Court. Because, you know, at least the idiots supported him from the beginning.

That's the sales pitch for Donald Trump? I dunno. Scaramucci's a rich guy, so I guess he knows how to sell. But if he ever offers his services to me, I think I'll politely decline. On the bright side, though, I learned that the guy who wrote How to Find Your Fortune Without Losing Your Soul is now supporting Donald Trump. That was good for a laugh this morning.

Why Are All the &#%!@? Airplanes So Slow?

Riffing off a Wall Street Journal op-ed, Alex Tabarrok is unhappy that supersonic jet travel is still banned in the US:

And why did we ban supersonic transport? It seems almost like a joke—because we were worried about noise....Moreover, the noise scare was overblown. Incredibly, it was only after the FAA banned supersonic transport over the US that a careful study was done at Heathrow airport and that study found that the Concorde taking off and landing was only modestly louder than a regular jet.

Let's not rewrite history here. Yes, noise—including sonic booms, not just the roar of takeoff and landing—was one of the issues that led to banning Concorde flights over land. And a good thing, too. This was one of the seminal battles in the fight to take noise seriously as a pollutant. Many of the noise abatement programs we have today can trace their birth to the fights over the Concorde in the 60s and 70s. Plus, of course, there was the ozone. Don't forget that! A huge fleet of ozone-spewing airplanes wasn't, and still isn't, a great idea.

And yet, it seems like there's more to this, no? SSTs are banned from flying over US territory, but the US—believe it or not—isn't the only country in the world. SSTs could fly from Paris to Abu Dhabi. From Rome to Rio. From London to Mumbai. From Los Angeles to Tokyo.

Oh wait. Scratch those last two. The Concorde had a range of just over 4,000 miles, so it's actually pretty limited compared to modern jets. Its seating capacity was pretty limited too, and that plus its inherently gas-guzzling ways meant that tickets cost, oh, $10,000 per flight. That's a wee bit of a drawback too. And it turns out that nobody else was thrilled about sonic booms over their territory either. That's why Boeing canceled its SST project in 1971, well before the FAA ban: they couldn't make the numbers add up without government subsidies. The Concorde never made money either. The truth is that the FAA ban was probably a pretty good face-saving action for the Concorde, which was doomed to failure regardless. But it gave Air France someone else to blame.

In the end, the FAA ban probably didn't matter much. Supersonic flight just wasn't a moneymaker. The supply could have been there, but the demand never was. Twas economics killed the beast.

Yet more exciting news from the world of high tech:

Microsoft is buying LinkedIn for $26.2 billion, a deal in which one of the world's biggest social networks will join a software and computing giant as it tries to broaden its reach in online services.

....LinkedIn [ ] is already a major brand name, with 433 million users and $3 billion a year in revenue....Still, recent estimates suggest only a fraction of LinkedIn's users log in on a monthly basis — highlighting the challenge ahead for Microsoft and LinkedIn as they try to grow the social network. The plan, said Weiner in his staff email, is to integrate LinkedIn with virtually all of Microsoft's products, from Outlook to Calendar to Skype to Windows.1

Gee, only a fraction? Here's an experiment for Microsoft: Allow LinkedIn users to delete their accounts completely. Then sit back and see how many folks take you up on this. LinkedIn may be a major brand name, but it's also been infamous for years because of its refusal to ever allow anyone to leave its fabulous family. If you so much as sign up just to see what all the fuss is about, you can never leave, and you will get "invitations" forever from acquaintances who want you to join their LinkedIn network.

I get LinkedIn email invites all the time. I'd like to delete my account so these people don't think I'm being unfriendly and deliberately refusing to network with them, but I can't. Hell, I just tried to log in right now to see if anything has changed, but I couldn't. Despite sending endless emails to me at calpundit@cox.net, LinkedIn claims to have no knowledge of that email address when I try to log in—though I suppose it doesn't matter much since I have no idea what my password is anyway.

I suppose many (all?) social networking sites do this. I've never tried to delete my Twitter or Facebook accounts, for example, but I wouldn't be surprised if it's essentially impossible. Still, if you want to know how many people really use LinkedIn, someone should ask Microsoft how many users access their accounts, say, once a week. (I'm being generous here.) How about it, Satya? How many accounts did you really buy? And will you allow the rest of us to leave, once and for all?

1Sounds great! What could go wrong?

UPDATE: Just to prove that Twitter can occasionally be useful, a reader informs me that it's now possible to delete a LinkedIn account. Sort of. Here's the LinkedIn page:

Closing your account means deleting your profile and removing access to all your LinkedIn information from our site....You can close your account directly from the Close Account page. Before you do, please note:

....Your profile will no longer be visible on LinkedIn.

Better than nothing, I suppose. But note that closing your account means only that your profile "will no longer visible." It doesn't meant that LinkedIn actually deletes all your personal information.

Waterfowl Week Wraps Up Tonight

The new baby geese never did show themselves. Just the once, when I didn't have my camera. So instead I'll wrap up waterfowl week with a picture of the second most recent crop of babies, who are now several weeks old. They join three other cohorts hanging around our lake, the oldest of whom are now big enough that they almost look like actual Canada Geese. It is the circle of life, my friends.

Terrorism and Lunacy Are Not the Same Thing

What a depressing day. I can't say I really felt like writing anything. But I will say one thing: there is a big difference between an attack coordinated and carried out by a foe (Pearl Harbor, Pan Am 103, 9/11, Paris, etc.) and an attack by a lunatic who was inspired by something or other (fame, hatred of blacks, Islamist ideology, etc.). The former is either terrorism or an act of war and the latter is an act of psychosis—and while it may be politically handy to conflate the two, it does nothing to fight either one. Banning Muslim visitors or ramping up the air war against ISIS would have done nothing to stop Omar Mateen. Banning guns would have done nothing to stop either the Paris attacks or any other act of international terrorism.

Everyone needs to keep this firmly in mind over the next few days. Obviously politicians won't, especially a sociopath like Donald Trump, who's more interested in using the Orlando shooting to brag about how he's been right all along than he is in actually fighting mass shootings and international terrorism.

Trump wasn't right, of course: Omar Mateen was born in America, just like Judge Gonzalo Curiel. But Trump doesn't care. Crowing about his own greatness is really the only thing he cares about. What an empty, loathsome soul.

Mystery Weekend Goose Blogging

This is a Canada Goose, the original provocateur behind this week's waterfowl blogging. Very majestic, no? But who is that mystery women in the distance?

Brad Plumer writes about the disappearing Milky Way:

Most of us living in urban areas can’t see it because of all the light pollution. In big cities, we’re lucky to even glimpse the Big Dipper. It’s becoming harder and harder to pick out our place in the universe.

How hard is it? In a new study for Science Advances, an international team of researchers created the most detailed atlas yet of light pollution around the world. They estimate that the Milky Way is no longer visible to fully one-third of humanity — including 60 percent of Europeans and 80 percent of Americans. Artificial light from cities has created a permanent "skyglow" at night, obscuring our view of the stars.

Someday I would like to see the Milky Way. I never have—not that I recall, anyway. I've spent my entire life in the suburbs, and travel and vacations have never taken me anyplace dark enough to see it.

So where do I have to go? The light map below shows the few places left in America where you can get a good look at the Milky Way. If you're east of the Rockies you can pretty much forget it. If you live in Southern California, like me, the closest place looks to be Death Valley or thereabouts. That's not so bad. According to Google Maps, if I drive across the border into Beatty, Nevada, I can stay at the Atomic Inn and eat at Mel's Diner. September 1-4 looks like it might be good. Perhaps this is something I should finally do this year.

On the Hermeneutics of Twitter Humor

At 11:19 am Jesse Singal wrote the following tweet:

At 11:44 am he wrote this tweet:

Your assignment: please write an essay of no more than 10 double-spaced tweets examining what this means for digital communication and the future of global civic society, with a special emphasis on the intersectionality of gendernormativity, power relations in capitalist transactions, and the implications of the 140-character limit on feminist ontology. You may use any form of splaining you wish.

Many years ago I wrote a blog post about the refinery problems that plague Southern California almost like clockwork every single summer. The timing is an eerie coincidence, isn't it? I haven't continued to follow this story since then, but I'm happy to report that 12 years after I wrote about it, it's still happening:

Los Angeles-area gasoline prices rose over the last week and could tick even higher as a result of unplanned refinery outages and delays in the Exxon Mobil Torrance refinery’s return to full service, fuel experts said....Analysts say the Torrance refinery might not reach 90% to 100% capacity for several more weeks....In addition to the repair delays in Torrance, unplanned outages at other refineries in Southern California as well as at a BP refinery at Cherry Point, Wash., which supplies fuel to California, have contributed to rising gasoline prices in Southern California.

In June, the flowers bloom, the Dodgers swoon, and refineries fume. But no worries. When summer is over and everyone has come home from their vacations, I'm sure all these refinery problems will be miraculously solved.