Saturday, December 26, 2015

A Follow-Up After Christmas

For the past 27 years, Albuquerque's La Cueva High School has had a regular charity collection designed to give poor young children something they could not otherwise have — teddy bears. The collection was expressed as a pink artificial tree on which the donated teddy bears were hung as the tree's only decorations. The students and the broader community supported this charity.

But someone didn't. One man unconnected to the school, claiming to be acting on behalf of one parent, complained. He claimed the pink tree was a Christian symbol that excluded and marginalized non-Christian students, and that as a Christian symbol [really?!?] it was not Constitutionally permissible.

A school district administrator caved immediately and ordered the tree and teddy bears removed. The community responded by placing new trees and teddy bears almost daily until the school let out for its winter break. They were all quickly removed, of course, all excluded for not being inclusive enough.

The school administration subsequently decided it erred in so precipitously ordering the tree's removal.

Exclusion in the name of inclusion. That's just the kind of thing that's been showing up in the news a lot recently. Just think about Black Lives Matter, which is so inclusive that it quickly started getting people fired for saying all lives matter. Similar self-contradictory concepts have been showing up on college campuses, too, where they have been brewing for a long time.

For almost 50 years universities have adopted racialist policies in the name of equality, repressive speech codes in the name of tolerance, ideological orthodoxy in the name of intellectual freedom. Sooner or later, Orwellian methods will lead to Orwellian outcomes. Those coddled, bullying undergrads shouting their demands for safer spaces, easier classes, and additional racial set-asides are exactly what the campus faculty and administrators deserve.
As a result, and as that article notes, "In three generations, the campuses have moved from indulgent liberalism to destructive radicalism to the raised-fist racialism of the present."

And now there's one more example of exclusion in the name of inclusion — from another campus, of course.

When you say “merry Christmas” or “happy Chanukah,” you’re not being “inclusive” enough, according to [University of Central Florida professor Terri Susan] Fine. “I would suggest that we take a new approach that observes ‘the holidays’ we all have on our calendars, no matter our religion,” she wrote. My friends and I wish each other a ‘Happy Federal Holiday.’”
So, tell me, exactly what federal holiday were we just celebrating? This is an idea so dumb only an intellectual could believe it.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Obama and the Syrian Refugees

President Barack Obama intends to bring tens of thousands of Syrian refugees (or is that "refugees"?) into the United States in the coming year.

The Obama Administration insists we don't need to worry about jihadists hiding among these refugees because the vetting process is arduous and detailed, takes two years, and makes sure only true refugees are admitted.

Given both of these statements of fact, we must conclude that either (1) the Administration is lying about the vetting process or (2) the Administration has been preparing these refugees to be brought here for more than two years.

I'd really like to know which is true.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

A Huge Double Standard

Here is a piece of today's reality.

I keep wondering why there is such an extreme double standard. Is there any reason other than concern over Islamist violence? Is the Left allied with the Islamic extremists?

Historical Ignorance

No comment is necessary.

Two More Gun Comments

Earlier this month, I made some comments about gun violence and some of its non-causes. Since then I have come across a couple of images that add to the points made there.

One is this: Gun control advocates passionately believe that more guns means more gun violence and, in particular, more gun murders. This belief makes me think about something from Mark Twain which, paraphrased, is "The problem isn't what they don't know. The problem is what they know that ain't so."

Despite the scatter, the trend is clear. The gun murder rate certainly does not increase with increasing gun ownership. In addition to Washington DC, on the bad side, see also the experience of Chicago and Detroit and etc. That's because gun control only controls guns in the hands of law-abiding citizens.

Though they don't explicitly say it, gun control advocates believe passing gun control laws will keep guns out of the hands of criminals. But reality begs to differ.

Obama Was Right

President Obama was right. He said ISIS was contained.

Star Wars Is Racist

. . . at least, it is according to MSNBC's Melissa Harris-Perry. Her proof? Darth Vader is black.

Sorry, but that doesn't hold water. My proof? The stormtroopers are also evil. There are lots of them. And they are white.

Darth VaderStormtrooper

Friday, December 4, 2015

Examining Gun Violence Non-Causes

Every time there is a high-profile shooting, pundits and politicians of a certain stripe come out on TV and in the newspapers demanding that we get rid of the guns they blame for the shooting. They never talk about the people who committed these crimes; they only blame the inanimate objects. To me, that makes no sense.

When I was in high school in southern Arizona, there were frequently guns in the school parking lot. They were usually on gun racks, frequently but not always in the back windows of pickup trucks. Students would frequently go out into the desert after school for a little shooting relaxation. And there was never any gun-related problem with any of the students or with any of the guns.

Other schools had some additional programs my school didn't have.

It's clear from our own history and experience that the guns are not the problem. Other countries have shown that, too.

One is Australia which instituted a gun "buy-back" confiscation program and made acquiring guns nearly impossible. It didn't work. Other countries that tried similar programs had similar failures.

At the other end of the spectrum is Switzerland, a country those of that certain stripe don't want to talk about. That's because Switzerland has one of the highest gun ownership rates — and one of the lowest gun crime rates — in the world. Another reason they don't want to talk about Switzerland: It forbids firearm ownership by foreigners from several Muslim countries.

We can also take a broader, worldwide look. Except we don't have to do the research — we can simply watch this video.

Looking at the past, and the present, we can draw only one conclusion: To the degree that there has been a real change, it is clearly not because there has been a big change in the U.S. gun ownership rate. Whatever has changed is clearly something else. Whatever it is, it definitely won't be affected by the repeatedly proposed new gun control laws. And those particular folks aren't interested in proposals that might actually have an impact on today's gun violence — that would violate too many of their prejudices.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Two Important Statements

We've all seen a lot in the news lately about university students protesting. What initiates the protests is frequently an asserted institutional racism. A significant part of that claim has been imported from outside the universities, including the infamous false "Hands Up, Don't Shoot" falsehood from Ferguson, Missouri. Other parts come from perceived racial slights, or from having accidentally seen a Confederate flag passing by off-campus. A number of the incidents later turned out not to have happened; they were simply rumors that by repetition became accepted as fact. To put it less charitably, a number of the precipitating events seem to have simply been made up.

The protesters didn't stop with these grievances. They added others. They feel disrespected because there aren't enough instructors that meet their racial and ideological preconceptions. They feel disrespected — and "erased", "excluded", "victimized", "marginalized", and a few other words by the "microaggressions" they claim they are frequently subjected to. They want "safe places" available to them, and they want "trigger warnings" before anyone within their hearing utters anything that contradicts their cherished fantasies — what they call "violence" or "rhetorical genocide". They object to anything that makes them "feel bad". The victimhood culture is there in full force.

There is finally beginning to be a bit of pushback. I've seen several items on this, nearly all about groups of students who have gotten fed up. But the best pushback item is from a college president, the first I've noted who actually shows he has a spine. His statement is here. Here is his summary, talking about his university.

Oklahoma Wesleyan is not a “safe place”, but rather, a place to learn: to learn that life isn’t about you, but about others; that the bad feeling you have while listening to a sermon is called guilt; that the way to address it is to repent of everything that’s wrong with you rather than blame others for everything that’s wrong with them. This is a place where you will quickly learn that you need to grow up.

This is not a day care. This is a university.

A university is supposed to be a place where free discussion of conflicting ideas is encouraged, the home of the viewpoint that the solution to any problems caused by free speech is more free speech. That's the way it was in the past. That's why there were protests and anti-protest protests. There were serious discussions going late into the night between serious people on all sides. People were forced to reexamine their beliefs and prejudices, and sometimes even what they had believed were facts. As a result, people learned and grew outside of class as well as inside class. It is incredibly sad that this seems to be no longer the case.

This story, as Drudge would say, is             Developing.

UPDATE:


Separately, there was a Wall Street Journal article headlined A Nuclear Paradigm Shift? (sorry, it's behind their subscription pay wall) with the sub-headline saying "U.S. regulators may radically revise safety assumptions about atomic radiation." At issue is the LNT model [the Linear No-Threshold model] that has been used and abused in all things atomic and nuclear since the phenomenon of radioactive decay was discovered.

The LNT model says that getting hit by a car going 1 mph (about a third of walking speed) can be just as lethal as getting hit by a car going 50 mph, just less frequently (2% of the time). The article notes that LNT "underlies predictions of thousands of cancer deaths from Chernobyl or Fukushima that have consistently failed to be borne out."

It's worse than that. People living at higher altitudes naturally get much higher doses of radiation than those living near sea level. (My favorite comparison is below, at *.) The LNT model predicts those high altitude residents should have much higher rates of cancer and all other maladies related to radiation than their cousins living at low altitude. But reality disagrees. All over the world, the areas with the longest-lived people are those at high altitude. In other words, not only does the higher radiation level at high altitude not cause higher cancer and death rates, it appears to have an annealing effect on organisms that helps increase their longevity. That is even broader than the other evident conclusion, that the problem with the LNT model is precisely that its predicted effects have no threshold.

I would say that, if radiation followed the LNT model, it would be the only thing in the world that does.

The Wall Street Journal story notes that

In June, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission began soliciting comments on whether to revise the safety standards in favor of a more sophisticated view, known as hormesis, which recognizes that organisms bathed in natural radiation have evolved cellular responses that protect against low-level radiation doses.       . . .

By now hundreds of papers have added evidence against LNT. A study last year from Munich’s Institute of Radiation Biology showed a specific mechanism by which low levels of radiation induce a nonlinear response in certain cell protection mechanisms.

Even now, anything associated with the terms "atomic" or "nuclear" evokes a panic response. It is long past time for a more reasoned and logical response.

*Remember Three Mile Island? It was played as a nuclear disaster almost as big as Chernobyl. But if there had been someone in the control room through the entire time of that crisis, that person would have gotten less radiation than I did simply because I lived in the Albuquerque area (the same altitude as Denver) — even if the control room had stayed at its peak radiation level through the entire crisis period.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Scared of Widows & Orphans (2)

I'd like to amend the program I proposed below for President Barack Obama's Syrian Refugee Resettlement Program. The new version still proposes to "admit the number of Middle East refugees (all claimed to be Syrian, of course) that Obama wants, but let's limit the admitted refugees to the following two groups", and I would say in the following order:
      1. Translators who have worked for and with U.S. and allied forces,
          and their families,
      2. Refugees from groups subjected to genocide in their home
          countries. The groups in this category would be
            a. Surviving Yazidis and
            b. Surviving Christians and
            c. Surviving Jews, and
      3. Widows, with their young children, and young orphan children.
Additional genocide victim groups can be added as appropriate. The likelihood of there being jihadists among these groups — particularly the first two — is small.

No matter what Obama says, category 2 is not "putting a religious test on our compassion." It is giving a preference to genocide's victims over its perpetrators.

I made a recommendation before, and I now make it again: Put this structure in a bill and pass it through Congress. Dare Obama to veto it. After all, this gives Obama what he claims to want. If he vetoes this bill, he proves his claims are lies and what he really wants is something other than what he says. If he signs it — and follows its requirements — he gets his refugees without endangering our security. That would be a win-win.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Implausible Hillary

A letter to the editor was published in the Albuquerque Journal last Tuesday, November 24th, relating to Hillary Clinton's oft-repeated claim to have been improperly rejected by Marine Corps recruiters. It was printed under the title

Clinton's Marine Corps claims implausible

HOW DARE SHE?

Hillary Rodham Clinton claims she tried to join the Marine Corps, as reported in the Albuquerque Journal on Nov. 14 ("Clinton's Marine Corps story begs for explanation").

As a woman who served in the Marines more than 10 years, I find her story to be far-fetched. Glenn Kessler, the Washington Post reporter who fact-checked Clinton's claim, found a number of problems. But there are more.

The main problem is that Clinton claims she was turned away by a recruiter. Recruiters have quotas to meet. They are hungry for bodies to send in to the pipeline. A person needs to be highly unqualified to be rejected by a recruiter.

Clinton says the recruiter said, "That is kind of old for us," referring to her age of 26 at the time. If she graduated from high school at 18, then spent four years in college and three in law school, she would have been only a year out of school. Her age would have been appropriate for [her] to join the Judge Advocate General's Corps as a lawyer for the Marines.

Clinton also said the recruiter told her, "You can't see." My distance vision is approximately 20/1000 and I enlisted with no problem. I doubt Clinton's vision is worse than mine. Unless her vision was so impaired that she was walking into the furniture, the recruiter would not have been the one to reject her on medical grounds. Only a doctor would have that qualification.

Further, joining the military is often part of a larger pattern of a person's life. A few years before I went off to boot camp, before I could even drive, I sent in one of the cards often found in magazines to let the military know I was interested. So I had a Marines T-shirt, whereas Clinton organized events against the Vietnam War.

Marines are known by our motto, "Semper Fidelis." With this implausible story, Clinton shows her infidelity to the truth. Clinton shows she doesn't have the moral courage to stand among the few and the proud.

MAURREEN SKOWRAN
Albuquerque

It sounds to me like Hillary Clinton is one of those whose only connection to the U.S. military is in her imagination, and whose imagination is significantly divorced from reality. I know more than a few like that, like the friend who believes our soldiers are taught in boot camp how to commit war crimes. And I'm sure they will all vote for Hillary.

UPDATE: There's also an item headlined I Was A Woman In The Marine Corps In the Mid-70s. Hillary Clinton’s Story Doesn’t Add Up. She doesn't believe Hillary, either.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Followers of Islam v. 2.0

For Islamists, thoughtcrimes are justifications for murder.

Many wonder why they do things like that, how they can possibly do that. I think this makes it clear — this is the jihadist reality:

Only a slightly separate topic: "Why do I say 'Islam version 2'?" Because the original Islam, which was preached in Mecca, was peaceful. Islam only became violent and jihadist when Mohammed changed it and his preaching (to version 2) after realizing he could get a lot more power and riches as a warlord than as a prophet.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

One of Our 50 Is Missing

And that's why New Mexicans are all going to have to get passports — thanks to the intransigence of Senate Democrats, and Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez in particular.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Scared of Widows & Orphans

The headline reads Even Democrats Worry About Obama's Weirdly Detached Views On ISIS. The story particularly cites a statement by California Senator Diane Feinstein: “I’ve never been more concerned. I read the intelligence faithfully. ISIL is not contained. ISIL is expanding.” New York Senator Chuck Schumer, West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin, and New Hampshire Governor Maggie Hassan agree with Feinstein at least in part. All are Democrats.

What triggered these responses, at least in part, was President Barack Obama's bellicose and hostile statement in Manila about Republicans: “Apparently, they're scared of widows and orphans coming into the United States of America.”

Once again, Obama has made up a straw man using a tiny piece of reality and a huge amount of imagination, all for the political purpose of advancing himself and his agenda. According to Obama, they all oppose letting poor downtrodden Syrian refugees into the US. But he doesn't say the same about those in his own party who are concerned over how detached he has become from reality, while staying close (of course) to his ideology.

This particular straw man is especially dishonest. Widows and orphans aren't the problem, as President Obama well knows. The issue is the jihadists who are coming out of the Middle East mixed in with the real refugees — a number, according to statements by involved individuals and organizations, inserted among the refugees by ISIS. The issue of jihadists among the refugees was brought to the fore by the jihadists' terror attacks in Paris on Friday, November 13th.

So here's a thought: Let's admit the number of Middle East refugees (all claimed to be Syrian, of course) that Obama wants, but let's limit the admitted refugees to the following two groups:
      1. Widows, with their young children, and young orphan children,
          and
      2. Refugees from groups subjected to genocide in their home
          countries. The groups in this category would be
            a. Surviving Yazidis and
            b. Surviving Christians and
            c. Surviving Jews.
Additional genocide victim groups can be added as appropriate. The likelihood of there being jihadists among these groups is small.

No matter what Obama says, this is not "putting a religious test on our compassion." It is giving a preference to genocide's victims over its perpetrators.

Put this structure in a bill and pass it through Congress. Dare Obama to veto it. After all, this gives Obama what he claims to want. If he vetoes this bill, he proves his claims are lies and what he really wants is something other than what he says. If he signs it — and follows its requirements — he gets his refugees without endangering our security. That would be a win-win.

UPDATE: Mrs Critter has another suggestion that may improve our national security: House all "Syrian" "refugees" admitted to the U.S. under this program at the White House.

UPDATE: From the Washington Examiner e-mail today (Thursday):

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Saturday Night Upsets

Sports fans in Albuquerque have been exceptionally happy this Sunday. And they should be — they were the beneficiaries of two huge upsets on Saturday night.

The Albuquerque Journal began its story on the University of New Mexico Lobo football game at Boise State saying "Maybe it was only the second-biggest upset Saturday involving an Albuquerque sports entity, but the New Mexico Lobos will take it." The Broncos were favored by 30½ points. But they didn't cover the spread. Indeed, they didn't score 30 points! Instead, they lost to the Lobos by a score of 31-24.

No one expected much of the Lobos at the start of the season. Or later, either. Last week they were 20-point underdogs when they beat Utah State 14-13. That performance didn't get them much respect this week. Will what they did last night make a difference?

Whether it does or not, the UNM Lobos are now bowl-eligible. And that's shocking everyone!

But as big a shock as that was, it was nothing to the shock arriving home from the other side of the world. That was described as a world-shattering upset, the world turned upside-down Down Under, the biggest upset in UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) history. A shocked crowd of more than 60,000 and a huge pay-per-view crowd saw it happen live. The Albuquerque Journal headlined their story this way:

Much of the sports world had expected a short fight. After all, (now former) UFC Champion Ronda Rousey had dispatched her last three opponents in a combined total of one minute and four seconds, and had only been pushed into a second round once before in her UFC career.

No one gave the former world boxing champion from Albuquerque much of a chance. The odds against Holly Holm were steep — a $100 winning bet on her would return $1,200! Even Holm's partisans were saying just going the distance with Rousey would be a victory for Holly.

Holly didn't go the distance, but she did finish the fight. She put Ronda on the canvas, on her back, unconscious at just under a minute into the second round. Her knockout left kick produced a stunning upset victory. It was a sight to be seen! The Preacher's Daughter now returns to Albuquerque as the new UFC World Champion.

And Albuquerque basks in the glow of these two HUGE upsets.

Meanwhile, In Paris

A group of completely uncivilized barbarians went on a senseless rampage, murdering well over 100 people in Paris on Friday night for no other reason than that they wanted to. Several groups of pond snakes (far lower than apes and pigs) staged at least six separate coordinated attacks on restaurants, a shopping area, a rock concert, and a soccer game. Their only purpose was to terrorize the population, as they hope to do around the world in the future. ISIS has claimed the blame for this series of attacks.

Unlike previous jihadist attacks, this one did not produce Muslim community cheers for the attackers. (Muslims around the world condemn terrorism after the Paris attacks — headline) Indonesia (the world's most populous Muslim country) condemned the attacks. Iran called them a "crime against humanity." Arab state leaders called the attacks immoral, “criminal acts of terrorism which run counter to all teachings of holy faith and humanitarian values.” More locally, Albuquerque's imam, Shafi Abdul Aziz, told Channel 7 News it is time for everyone to come together to destroy ISIS. I'd say that's not quite good enough.

Previous Islamic cults, the Hashshashin and the Thugee, exist now only as words in the dictionary — assassin and thug. That is too good for these groups. ISIS and al Qaeda should be exterminated thoroughly, removed even from the memory of humanity except as footnotes in an obscure historical treatise.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Safe Spaces

Just a few days ago, two rather different things were in the news (sort of). Students (at least, some of them were) at Missouri University were demanding "campus safe spaces". That same day (November 10th) was the birthday of the U.S. Marine Corps (USMC). My response is like that of Steven Hayward at the Power Line Blog. He noted there had been a previous demand by youth for safe spaces, in Campus "Safe Space," 1930s Edition:

In that same post, he also appropriately noted the Marine Corps' birthday:

Hayward said it. There's nothing left to add.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Is Islam Beginning to Soften?

I heard on the news that the Supreme Leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, issued a new statement. Talking about the "Death to America" refrain that is repeated ad nauseum there, he said “It goes without saying that the slogan does not mean death to the American nation; this slogan means death to the US’s policies, death to arrogance.”

A good friend of mine thinks this statement, and the Iranian nuclear deal, mark a turning point. He thinks Islam is beginning to soften, moving into some form of Reformation, and may cease to be the warlike and frequently genocidal belief structure we've all come to know from the news ever since Mohammed became a warlord. He forsees Islam moving out of the 6th century Real Soon Now, coming at least a little closer to modernity.

Maybe my friend is right. Just a few days later I ran across the story of a major Jordanian sheikh, Sheikh Ali Halabi. Halabi is one of the most well-known Salafi sheikhs in Jordan and he is the head of the Imam al-Albani religious studies center in Jordan. He issued a fatwa against killing Jews, a fatwa delivered in a video that was widely distributed through social media. He said Jews may be killed only during a war and that killing them at any other time is a betrayal of Islam.

But there are some contrary indications, things suggesting Islam isn't changing at all.

The 76-year-old ayatollah also said “The slogan ‘death to America’ is backed by reason and wisdom.” He made it clear that the refrain "Death to America" will not leave the Islamic republic’s political lexicon any time soon. He also notes the irrelevance of this year's nuclear deal, saying that relations between Tehran and Washington will not be normalised.

And the sheikh got in trouble, too. His video went viral on social media and, as might be expected, caused a stir in the Muslim world, with activists attacking the sheikh. As a result, he has backtracked on his fatwa. He may be the highest-ranking cleric to try making such a statement, but he's just as likely to be killed for making it as the lesser clerics who have tried. Apparently being one of the top authorities of the religion isn't enough protection from the religion's adherents. Apparently those adherents aren't actually required to follow the fatwas issued by the authorities, in spite of everything we've been told for years / decades / centuries. Perhaps this was just another instance of Islamic taqiyya — another Islamic lie.

The bottom line: Islam isn't changing. It will continue to be characterized by the Muslim Brotherhood, the Iranian theocracy, and the Islamic State.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Veterans Day 2015

An Unexpected Rocket Plume

A lot of folks got startled — freaked out — on last Saturday night (November 7th). People from Los Angeles to Seattle and for quite some distance inland saw a strange light in the sky.

It turned out to be a test flight of a submarine launched missile (SLBM), apparently traveling roughly northwest from a launch point some distance west of Los Angeles.

In fact, it turned out not to be one test launch but two. The second test, on Monday afternoon, wasn't anywhere nearly as noticeable. (It was in daylight.)

Guess this is why the airspace over the Pacific Ocean west of Los Angeles was closed to air traffic for a week.

A number of pictures of the test flight have showed up in newspapers and on the internet. Most of them look like one of the two pictures shown here.

But this is the best picture I've seen of the event.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

New Mexican Passports

Every year the New Mexico tourism department gets a lot of letters from potential visitors asking about passport and visa requirements for visiting New Mexico from the United States. These would-be tourists seem not to understand that New Mexico is one of the 50 states of the United States (as it was one of the 48 states — now referred to as the "lower 48" — before Alaska and Hawaii were admitted in 1959).

I have always felt the response sent to these potential visitors should be that New Mexico does not issue visas to U.S. citizens.
New Mexicans have long joked about how much of the rest of our country doesn't believe we're a state. We have become accustomed to others asking what our currency is or being surprised at how well we speak English. We have joked that we need to carry passports to visit other parts of our own country.

But now there's a new wrinkle — It appears most New Mexicans will require passports to fly to El Paso or Phoenix or even Los Alamos, or to go onto Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque or onto Cannon Air Force Base or the White Sands Missile Range or into any federal courthouse or federal building.

It's all because of the Real ID Act, which requires (among other things) that state IDs and drivers' licenses be used to identify U.S. citizens and legal residents. But New Mexico, and particularly New Mexico drivers' licenses, are noncompliant because a 2005 New Mexico law mandates issuance of New Mexico drivers' licenses to illegal aliens (or, more specifically, to people who cannot demonstrate they are in the U.S. legally).

Up until now, New Mexico and a number of other states have been given deadline extensions allowing them to avoid compliance with the Act's requirements. But now the Homeland Security Department has denied New Mexico an additional extension for deadline compliance. That, of course, has re-energized the debate over attempts to repeal the 2005 law and the role of the Democrat leadership of the New Mexico Senate in blocking those repeal efforts.

In the meantime, New Mexico residents had better obtain or renew their passports. They'll need those passports to travel into the (rest of the) United States — or anywhere else.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Chili Is Not Chile

There is a spicy vegetable grown in a number of places, most prominently in the state of New Mexico. It is commonly green when it is picked, but may be dried to a bright red. It is called chile. It is served in many restaurants as both red chile and green chile. That's the source of the official question of the State of New Mexico: "Red or Green?" (The appropriate answers are red, green, and Christmas [both].)

Chile is quite a different thing from chili (more properly identified as Texas chili), though some form of chile is used in preparation of that dish.

Most outside the Southwest are pretty ignorant about chile. I was once in a diner in Arlington VA where I saw a menu item that said Chili Omelet. I thought "This is great!" 'Cause I hadn't expected Arlington would know anything about chile. I asked the waitress "What kind of chile is that?" When she got a terribly puzzled look on her face, I tried to help: "Red or Green?" She thought for a second and said of their chili that "It's kinda brown. From a can." I'd been right in the first place: They had no idea about chile. No concept.

The Associated Press is in the same condition. Their style guide apparently specifies that the proper spelling is "chili" with two exceptions — when specifically referring to Hatch Chile (chile grown near the town of Hatch in southern New Mexico) or when referring to the South American country of Chile.

A New Mexico newspaper writer objected, and tried to get the Associated Press to correct their style book. But she kept getting rebuffed. Finally she went to New York to speak directly with the executives in charge of the style book. She made her case to them. They responded in a rather patronizing manner. They explained that, if the style book called for spelling chile correctly, people would confuse the vegetable with the South American country.

The New Mexico writer was exasperated by this answer. She responded to them with words like "Well. that hasn't been a problem with Turkey!"

Does this mean the Associated Press thinks its public is stupid? I'd say it does!

How Stupid Does the Pentagon Have To Be?

Doesn't the Pentagon check out companies before issuing contracts to them? Doesn't it include restrictive language in its contracts? In past years it did both.

But now the Pentagon has discovered (actually one of its contractors discovered and informed the Pentagon) that "Russian computer programmers were helping to write computer software for sensitive U.S. military communications systems". Software those programmers wrote "made it possible for the Pentagon’s communications systems to be infected with viruses."

No wonder Vladimir Putin has been so consistently eating Barack Obama's lunch! Once again it appears the Pentagon has had its manhood removed.

Only Some Black Lives Matter

When the Black Lives Matter people say "Black Lives Matter", they don't mean it. They just want to use it as a cudgel. They want to use it to berate those who say "All Lives Matter". "Black Lives Matter" to them just means "Only Black Lives Matter" — and as I said, it doesn't really mean even that.

How can we be sure? Because the Black Lives Matter people don't want black policemen to be included among those whose murder would be a hate crime under a proposed federal law.

To be fair, the Black Lives Matter people don't want the murder of any policeman to be considered a hate crime. And they are fairly up-front about their bigotry, saying "it’s not the color of their skin, but the color of their uniform". Clearly, only some black lives matter to Black Lives Matter.

Or, as I previously noted, Black Lives Matter, But To Whom?

Monday, October 26, 2015

Home Computers in History

Subject: I think my buddy Chuck bought one of these

You guys have this power in your machines?

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Black Lives Matter, But To Whom?

The "Black Lives Matter" movement is a fraud. Worse, it is a vicious and racist fraud. To the movement's adherents, "Black Lives Matter" means "ONLY Black Lives Matter", which is why they immediately label as racist anyone who says "All Lives Matter", or indeed "(any word but Black) Lives Matter".

Yes, black lives matter. Asian lives matter. Native American lives matter. Hispanic lives matter. Anglo lives matter. Eskimo lives matter. Pacific islander lives matter. Aborigine lives matter. Everybody else's lives matter, too. In other words, yes, ALL LIVES MATTER !

The movement was made up after a violent young black criminal was shot by a police officer. It claims the police are routinely shooting down blacks, that the police are the biggest danger for young black men. But to maintain that claim, they have to completely ignore reality:

Every year, approximately 6,000 blacks are murdered. This is a number greater than white and Hispanic homicide victims combined, even though blacks are only 12 percent of the national population. Blacks of all ages are killed at six times the rate of whites and Hispanics combined.

That black death-by-homicide rate is a function of the black crime rate. The national black homicide rate is eight times that of whites and Hispanics combined. Black males between the ages of 14 and 17 commit homicide at 10 times the rate of white and Hispanic male teens combined.

In other words, the Black Lives Matter claim is all pretense. And it's not just murder. That same logic applies to other crimes as well, because the statistics show that other crime statistics mirror the murder statistics. Black citizens are disproportionately the victims of these crimes. As s Heather MacDonald reports":
Homicide is not the only crime that is vastly racially disproportionate. New York City is representative of other crime spreads across the country. Blacks are 23 percent of New York’s population, but they commit 75 percent of all shootings, 70 percent of all robberies, and 66 percent of all violent crime, according to the victims of, and witnesses to, those crimes.

Whites are 33 percent of the city’s population, but they commit less than 2 percent of all shootings, 4 percent of all robberies, and 5 percent of all violent crime.

These disparities mean that virtually every time that the police in New York are called out after a shooting, they are being summoned to minority neighborhoods looking for minority suspects.

So the Black Lives Matter movement's claim is clearly false and, indeed, fraudulent. As Heather MacDonald notes in the same article, "[T]here is no government agency more dedicated to the proposition that black lives matter than the police." As a result, minority neighborhoods that complained for decades that police ignored crimes where they live, now complain they police are always in their neighborhoods. That's because the police focus on where people are being victimized, which is in the minority communities. This focus is called "police harassment." (The same neighborhoods complain all the louder if the police quit responding so much, like in Baltimore after Freddie Gray's death.)

All of the above must be considered against an interesting backdrop. Crime rates — for murder and other crimes alike — were much higher 20 and 25 years ago. By about 40% overall nationwide and 85% for New York City murders. Where were the Black Lives Matter activists through all of that period? Didn't black lives matter to them until now? Or is it just that it wasn't politically expedient to use as an issue until now?

Given all this, this writer would say that black lives matter to the police and to the population at large, but not to Black Lives Matter activists and those they have intimidated into submission. If black lives really mattered to Black Lives Matter, they wouldn't completely ignore the realities of black on black crime, and would do things to actually reduce black on black crime and protect black citizens.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Debbie Does Insanity

Debbie Wasserman Schultz was appointed by President Barack Obama to head the Democratic National Committee. She leads that organization for him, and she speaks for him.

That's what makes her latest episode of running off at the mouth so egregious. She went on CNN and told Dana Bash that

all of the remaining Republican presidential candidates are trying to “out-Trump Donald Trump” and are saying, “yeah, let’s kick women. Let’s kick them and immigrants out of this country.”
Such a statement is beyond certifiably insane. It is also incredibly stupid. And it demonstrates she thinks those in her target population are equally stupid. Only someone in the most extreme portion of her hyper-partisan clique could possibly credit a statement that Republicans want to kick women out of the country.

This woman clearly does not belong in any position with any kind of responsibility. She really seems to belong in a fully padded room, so she cannot damage herself or others.

Because of her position, this statement is why one commentator noted that "Once again, Wasserman Schultz proves that only idiots vote Democrat." Given her position, it's hard to argue with that.

EPA Screws Up Again

The federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has celebrated the two-month anniversary of its amazingly incompetent Gold King Mine spill by causing another toxic spill at the Standard Mine above Crested Butte.

Though smaller than the Gold King Mine spill, it still "raises questions about EPA procedures" according to US Representative Scott Tipton. But I would say that was done long before the earlier spill. What this spill has done is demonstrate — again — that EPA's procedures and its oversight of its contractors are fatally flawed. Completely negligent.

And that's not even counting the fact that, once again, they failed to notify relevant authorities (such as the Crested Butte mayor) until two days later. They also hid that information from the public, failing to disclose it in response to press inquiries about this specific mine. And that despite the fact that they had fouled the Crested Butte water supply with toxic heavy metal contamination.

EPA and its responsible contractor(s) should be shut down until the spills they have caused have been completely cleaned up and the cleanups have been verified by competent state authorities. And they should all be heavily fined. After all, why should the EPA and its subordinates be treated different from anyone else? Why should they be treated differently from the way they treat everyone else?

The Intelligence of Politicians

The Indiana Highway Department asked the state legislature for funds to buy a calculator in 1940.

A legislator asked "Why do you need a calculator? You are not mathematicians!"

The engineers replied that they need to be able to make accurate calculations often involving pi, which is 3.1415926535....

The legislator answer was "We don't have money for a calculator. But we have decided to change the value of pi to 4."

[from Math and the Mona Lisa
received by e-mail & worth passing on]

No More Pork

The Washington Post reports that

The nation’s pork producers are in an uproar after the federal government abruptly removed bacon, pork chops, pork links, ham and all other pig products from the national menu for 206,000 federal inmates.
The bureau "said the decision was based on a survey of prisoners’ food preferences: They just don’t like the taste of pork."

I call bullshit on the Obama Administration's Bureau of Prisons. Who doesn't like ham and bacon? Maybe sausage and pork chops, too? No one. But those who avoid them for religious reasons deny themselves these pleasures.

The Bureau of Prisons admits as much. The same story notes that "the prison menu had added an 'economically viable' turkey bacon substitute." Even though turkey bacon is a very poor substitute for real bacon, that menu change is an admission the inmates really do like the taste of bacon and don't want it removed from their menus.

It's worth noting that the only ones cheering this decision are those like Ibrahim Hooper in the propaganda arm of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). CAIR styles itself "the country's largest Muslim civil rights advocacy group." CAIR's statement said "We welcome the change because it’s facilitating the accommodation of Muslim inmates."

But there was always an accommodation of Muslim (and other) inmates who chose not to eat pork products. There were always alternative food choices for them. Now there are no choices.

Only Muslims would not only avoid pork products themselves, but would insist that no one else be allowed to have them. I guess they figure that, without the coercion, most of their fellow religionists would be enjoying their ham & bacon & sausage. Once again, Islam without coercion is empty — worthless — a nothing-burger.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Obama's Demands & GOP Responses

President Obama demands of Congress: fund all of Obamacare, with no changes to help the millions being hurt by that failed law, or he will veto funding for the entire federal government. And Republican leadership backs down. President Obama demands: fund his unconstitutional executive amnesty — or he will veto funding for the entire federal government. And Republican leadership backs down. President Obama demands: give $500 million in taxpayer money to Planned Parenthood, a private organization under criminal investigation — or he will veto funding for the entire federal government. And Republican leadership backs down.

The core of this capitulation comes from Republican leadership’s promise that “There will be no government shutdown.” On its face, the promise sounds reasonable. Except in practice it means that Republicans never stand for anything.

Surely, you might think, Republicans can use different “tactics” and accomplish something meaningful without risking a government shutdown.

Alas, no.

(Ted Cruz, from Politico)

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Whose Policies Worked in Iraq? Whose Didn't?

All through the Global War On Terror (how long has it been since you've heard that term?), Barack Obama has been attacking the Iraq policies of President George W Bush. Obama attacked those policies as a state senator, then as a presidential candidate, then as president. He proclaimed the Bush policies to be utter failures, and talked about how much better off Iraq would be once he removed all U.S. troops and influence from Iraq — and, in effect, from the region.

How has that worked out? How much better off is Iraq today than it was under the Bush policies? Here is a picture that shows us.

It looks to me like Iraq has been greatly harmed by Obama's decision to "cut & run." And I think that has caused great damage to the entire region.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

The Consistency of the Left

A number of things I've seen lately have made me reflect on the kind of consistency commonly seen in the Left, both within the U.S. and worldwide. And when I say the Left, I include much of today's Democratic Party. A few of their characteristic elements of consistency are described below.

The Left is always pushing a gun control agenda. In that, they're consistent. You'll hear them pushing for gun control after any high profile shooting incident.

Well, not every shooting incident.
Notice how quiet the Left has been about the shooting of a television news reporter and her cameraman by a man who could find organizational racism and personal racist insults in everything that anyone said.

To the Left, some things are good or bad according to who is responsible for them. Walls and fences, for example. Walls to keep people imprisoned seem to be OK, or at least the Left didn't spend time objecting to, for example, the wall East Germany built in Berlin. (To its credit, yesterday's Democratic Party did object — loud & long.) Walls and fences built for protection seem to be bad, especially those built for protection against illegal immigration (think Europe, the U.S., and Israel) and most especially those where terrorists could use the immigrants to cover their infiltration. These barriers are racist, they claim. Yet even in those cases, it makes a big difference who built the barrier and where it is.
I guess they only demand open borders in the U.S. and our close allies.

The Left believes in enforcing the law and in following the law. Sometimes. Maybe. It really seems to depend on which law you're talking about.They don't want to enforce — or even acknowledge — immigration law. They don't want to enforce the marijuana laws, and they don't seem real sure about the other drug laws. Except, of course, the laws on prescription drugs, which they want to tighten up. They don't (and didn't) believe in the Defense Of Marriage Act.

They also don't believe in following judicial orders enforcing any of the laws they don't like. To them, any order they don't like can be ignored until it's changed, but any order they do like is permanent and final. So, for example, they support a Kentucky judge jailing Kim Davis for violating his order; they don't care that his order violated her rights under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and the First Amendment to the Constitution.
The Left is also rather selective about when to apply this approach. While Kim Davis was jailed for not issuing same-sex marriage licenses, the mayor of Washington DC is still free after ignoring multiple orders to issue legally required gun carry permits. There is another solution in both cases. Kim Davis offered an accommodation that would have let her deputies issue the marriage certificates without her signature. The judge refused. For the gun permits, the easiest accommodation for many applicants is this:
For those who reside in states and cities that continue to flout the Constitution, the law, and court orders, perhaps there can be new laws allowing them to obtain gun permits in nearby, more law-friendly, locations.

Why does the Left have such a thing for gun control laws? Easy. It's an Article of Faith for the Left that more guns means more murders, that the only way to reduce the murder rate is to get rid of the guns. Unfortunately for the Left, that Article of Faith is completely false. Yes, the U.S. ranks high in gun ownership per capita, but it ranks low in murders per capita — except in heavily gun-controlled cities like Detroit & etc. See Bill Whittle's Firewall for details, the episode titled "Number One With A Bullet" for details.

One of the Left's principles is that the indigenous people in any area should control that area, independent of any events that may have occurred in more recent historical times. That doesn't apply to full political control of regions under their overall control, of course, but does include limited sovereignty (under them, naturally) like that they're pushing for the native Hawaiians and the right to have their names used for geographic features. Thus, President Obama has unilaterally (without Congressional sanction) changed the name of Alaska's Mount McKinley to Denali. He has also applied the same principle to other renaming actions.
But even a core Left principle like this has its limits. For example, in the Middle East, it only goes back to the early part of the 20th century, based on conquests in the 7th and 12th centuries, but ignores the indigenous peoples living in the region from the first through the third millenia B.C.
It also ignores the (no longer existing) peoples who inhabited the region before that.

Sometimes the character of the Left's consistency is even more obvious (except to the Leftists, of course)
That's usually pretty entertaining. And sometimes it appears as examples of what I would characterize as Deliberate Stupidity.

But sometimes it portends — if actually put into practice — substandial damage to large numbers of people, to the nation, and to the nation's economy.

Most would see things like this as extreme hypocrisy. But not the Left. To them, it's all consistent, in one of two ways. To some in the Left, it's part of their ideology-driven viewpoint (see Cloward-Piven and "We had to destroy the village in order to save it" as two examples). To the others, it's part of the series of lies needed to maintain their positions of power "for the good of the country", as in this case.

For myself, I think most Leftists are simply misguided. I tend to believe in the dictum that "Given a choice between incompetence and malice, always choose incompetence — you will almost always be right." Thus, I believe liberals are misguided, even though they believe I am evil. Put more simply, I would say

And that is the real consistency of the Left.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

The Myopic Administration

A young Muslim boy dismantled an old digital clock, reworked it a little, and scared the crap out of folks at his school. Because he's a Muslim, this got him an invitation from the White House and a claim that the response to his device was an example of Islamophobia. (Frankly, I'm not sure Islamophobia really exists. Truth and reality are defenses.) This summarizes the problem:

This is just part of a broader general issue. The Obama Administration is willfully blind to a lot of stuff.

Even that isn't the whole story. The past six years shows the White House world view is like this:

Why President Obama has this world view is unknown. And I don't really care. My question is more like this:

If they're coming here because they want part of what we have built and the life we live, and if they're willing to assimilate, they should be welcomed. If they're here to infiltrate and/or invade and/or conquer us, they have to be stopped, rejected, and sent back. We cannot let them turn this country into the kind of place they came here to escape.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Government Negligence And Bulls**t

I wrote earlier about the government's incredible negligence and gross incompetence in causing a massive toxic waste spill into a tributary of the Animas River in Colorado and New Mexico. That spill also fouled the San Juan River, into which the Animas flows, along its path through New Mexico and Utah. Specifically, it was the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA, which this incident indicates is horribly misnamed) that demonstrated this extreme negligence and incompetence in their "clean-up" of a long-closed Colorado mine. That negligence included ignoring a warning from the closed mine's current owner, and threatening him with jail if he didn't stay completely away from the EPA's operations around the mine. It culminated in the toxic waste spill on August 5th, which was not reported — at least not to either New Mexico or the Navajo Nation — in anything like an appropriate time.

Still, there are things I don't understand — some in the way the story hass been reported and some in the story itself. Here are a couple of those things.

One thing is come of the reportage on the spill itself. It was reported on August 8th as a spill of more than a million gallons. By the next day it was reported as actually having been a spill of three million gallons — and that is how it has been reported ever since. But there's a problem with that. It was reported in early August, and is still being reported now, water is still flowing from the mine at 550 gallons per minute, 33,000 gallons per hour, 792,000 gallons per day, more than an additional 3 million gallons every four days. That means an additional 36.4 million gallons that have flowed from that mine from August 10th through today. Are the reporters trying to claim — without having the guts to say so — that all of the toxic waste was in the initial three million gallons and none in the more than thirty-six million gallons since? I'm not sure that makes any sense.

A second thing is related. The news stories keep referring to the pollution of the Animas River and (sometimes) the San Juan River through the states of Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah. But, in Utah, the San Juan flows into the Colorado River. The Colorado then flows into and across northern Arizona before becoming the boundary between that state and the states of Nevada and California. The San Juan is a tributary to the Colorado, so the water from the former flows into the latter — bringing with it whatever it's carrying. But it seems the reporters are trying to claim — without having the guts to say so — that all of the toxic waste was magically removed from the San Juan's water before it flowed into the Colorado River. I'm not sure that makes any sense.

Something I don't understand in the story itself is this: The EPA-caused spill is bad enough. So why would the EPA, with the connivance of other government agencies, want to make it worse by providing false and misleading information about it? But that is apparently what has been done, both in the information made available to the public and in their testimony to Congress. Yes, they have "taken responsibility" and yes, EPA has provided assistance to some of the affected people downstream. But significant chunks of the information EPA has provided has apparently been intended to minimize the seriousness of the EPA's screw-up rather than to provide accurate information on the problem they caused.

What's even worse, one of the major groups affected by the EPA negligence is being further damaged by the government (non-)response. The Animas and San Juan rivers provide a huge part of the water for the Navajo Nation — both drinking water and irrigation water for the Navajo farmers across the eastern part of the sprawling Navajo Reservation. EPA provided a series of emergency water tanks for drinking water shortly after the spill in recognition of this fact. But on the fourth of September, after the Navajo Nation requested additional assistance, EPA announced instead that it would be removing those emergency water tanks — tanks that are critical for the Navajos right now. Meanwhile, FEMA also rejected the Navajos' requests for assistance in recovering from the effects of the mine spill.

And neither President Obama nor his agency cronies appear to give a damn. All this has got to be hard for the believers in this Administration and its EPA. Even as they're waiting for another serving of their favorite Kool Aid.

My recommendation, only slightly modified from before, is that the EPA and its responsible contractor(s) should be shut down until the spill has been completely cleaned up and the cleanup has been verified by competent state authorities. And they should all be heavily fined. After all, why should the EPA and its subordinates be treated different from anyone else? Why should they be treated differently from the way they treat everyone else?

I noted in the prior article that "the EPA (like other government agencies) believes there's one set of rules for them and another set for everyone else." It's well past time for that to be stopped.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

It's Football Season !


Football season generates a lot of adrenalin.

Which is why I'm wondering if that's the squirrel involved in the altercation with this Smart Car.