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.