Monday, September 22, 2014

Entitlement reform: an attitude problem?


I came across an article at Legal Insurrection titled 'Why I’m against drug testing for unemployment benefits and food stamps'.  Here's an excerpt.

Our attitude on limiting public assistance is all wrong, and so is the way we talk about it. There’s any underlying assumption and I’d argue in many cases, arrogance on the right, that everyone on public assistance is lazy or entitled, and so we treat them as though they’re undeserving or unworthy of public charity. We complain there’s an entire generation living off entitlements, yet show no interest in helping them to a place where they can succeed. We are not taking measures to address the reasons why people are on public assistance, we just don’t want them there.

. . .

... enrolling citizenry in a public assistance plan without providing a means of escape helps no one.

We all too easily take the road of judgment rather than reaching out to help those less fortunate saying people should just “Get a job!” And while the statement is correct, the attitude is not only personally destructive, but politically devastating. For all the criticism on the right to “Get a job!” what are we doing collectively to provide a solution?

Of course the answer should be simple: the private sector and local communities and charities should be there to offer this type of aid because it’s not the government’s job, but where are we to fill in the holes where both government and the private sector fails?

There are people who have never been told they’re valuable and that they have purpose in life. They’ve never been told it’s possible to excel or to change their circumstances. All they know is the life that surrounds them, in many cases, that’s a life smothered by poverty, violence, and drugs. It’s in these situations we should be showing compassion, assistance, and imparting the values of self respect, hard work, and the belief they too, can achieve whatever they believe to be possible.

There's more at the link.

I disagree almost completely with the author's perspective as expressed in that excerpt.  The problem, as I see it, is one of the basic attitude of many people in the First World.  They feel entitled to protection, assistance, etc. - from the private sector, from charities, from government, whatever.  Too many of us blindly accept this 'entitlement principle' without stopping to ask why anyone should be entitled to such support.

I begin as one who's lived and worked in Third World environments for almost half my life.  There's very little in the way of such support there.  If you don't or can't work, you're dependent on the support of your extended family.  I've known a dozen adults live on the meager wages brought in by a quarter of their number.  No-one has any luxuries.  The food is as basic as it can get, and there's never enough of it.  They'll sleep bundled together, shivering under one or two thin undersized blankets in the winter cold.  During the summer they'd love to sleep further apart, to stay cool, but in the one- or two-roomed hut or township hovel they share, there's not enough space for that - and sleeping outside carries its own dangers.  Some of the unemployed will cook, clean and look after the kids.  Others will forage in the surrounding bush, or go through other people's garbage looking for something to eat or wear or use or sell.  A few will go the rounds, trying to find a job doing anything from shoveling human excrement to disposing of animal waste products at the local (unlicensed, unsanitary, unsafe and disease-ridden) slaughterhouse.

Note that I didn't say a word about social workers, or child protection programs, or welfare, or anything like that.  Those programs don't exist for such people.  If you told these folks that in America, the poorest people almost all had access to such support, and in addition lived in multi-room dwellings, and most had TV's and sofa's and cars . . . they'd cheerfully do anything they could, up to and including committing wholesale murder, to come here and live in such comparative affluence.  It would represent wealth beyond their wildest dreams.

As a result, they know their future is in their own hands, and theirs alone.  They get by with hard work and stoic courage, day by day.  They're like prisoners in jail, taking it one day at a time, never daring to look too far ahead in case they get discouraged and give up hope.

In contrast, far too many of our people on welfare, or unemployment benefits, or SNAP, or whatever, expect such assistance as a right.  They actually expect others to find them a job, or get them more benefits, or teach them new skills.  They don't expect to have to get up off their asses and do these things for themselves - and to me, that's the problem, right there.  Our welfare system encourages a culture of dependency on others.

In most of the world, statements such as those I highlight below are frankly ridiculous.

  • "We are not taking measures to address the reasons why people are on public assistance" - Wrong approach.  Why are they relying primarily on public assistance instead of upon their own efforts and those of their extended family?  If they have no extended family upon whom to rely, whose fault is that?  Have we allowed government to destroy the extended family through its misguided policies?  If so, that's a fault to be remedied rather than a fact to be accepted.
  • "We all too easily take the road of judgment rather than reaching out to help those less fortunate" - Why should we reach out to them?  Frankly, charity begins at home.  Miss D. and I regularly give money - sometimes substantial sums - to people we come across in our daily lives who are in need, but are already doing their best to make ends meet under very difficult circumstances.  We simply help the process along, "helping those who are trying to help themselves".  We don't try to help those who sit back and expect - or, worse, demand - our help as of right.
  • "the private sector and local communities and charities should be there to offer this type of aid because it’s not the government’s job" - Why should they offer this type of aid at all?  Why not offer aid that's designed and expressly intended to help someone get back on their own feet as quickly as possible?  The author argues against the use of drug testing for welfare recipients.  I'd say it's a primary 'acid test' (you should pardon the expression) for those who are serious about changing their lives, and have no objection to it at all.  If they're going to use the aid we provide as taxpayers and charitable donors to get high or buzzed or drunk, they don't deserve that aid.  Period.
  • "There are people who have never been told they’re valuable and that they have purpose in life."  Who says we're intrinsically valuable anyway?  I know many people whose main value appears to consist in being a living warning to others not to adopt their way of life!  As for a purpose in life, while we may have one from a religious perspective, I'd argue very strongly that one's purpose in life is what one seeks out and builds for oneself.  We apply ourselves to become someone of value to others.  In doing so, we develop value to and for ourselves.  I don't believe it's possible to develop genuine self-esteem and self-appreciation in isolation from others, or if we're doing nothing to help others.  That's a contradiction in terms.
  • "It’s in these situations we should be showing compassion, assistance, and imparting the values of self respect, hard work, and the belief they too, can achieve whatever they believe to be possible."  I'm sorry, but this is too ridiculous for words.  We cannot impart values to others.  We can only demonstrate those values in our own conduct, our own attitudes, our own actions, our own way of life, as an example to others.  Unless and until they internalize those values for themselves and change their attitudes and behaviors to embody them, they'll be stuck in their same old rut.  As for achieving whatever they believe to be possible - bull!  There are many people who can't achieve what they 'believe' to be possible, because the environment in which they live - and from which they have no way of escape - won't permit them to do so.  They have a choice.  They can wallow in their "I wanna be this, but I can't!" self-pity, or they can look for something they can achieve and work towards that goal.  It may not be something pleasant.  I expect no-one wants to be the best sewage plant worker in history . . . but if that's the only job available to you, you'd damn well better work towards that, otherwise someone else who is prepared to do so may take your job away from you!

I have profound empathy for those working multiple jobs and struggling to survive in the face of real poverty.  However, poverty is relative.  I've lived among those whose daily income amounted to less (a lot less) than one US dollar per day.  I've seen them starve.  I've seen some die of starvation.  I've seen their despair give way to apathy, and to a resigned acceptance of their fate.  I've watched the light die in their eyes, and it's saddened and sickened me that I could do nothing to change their fate.  However, I've seen many others in precisely the same situation sacrifice themselves daily for the good of others - their children, their extended family, their tribe.  They do all they can, all day, every day, because that's what a human being does.  They don't moan and whine about how callous others are not to support them in the style to which they'd like to become accustomed.

Contrast that with the looters who all too often strip stores of their contents on any feebly manufactured excuse - most recently in Ferguson, Missouri.





Look at those who use their welfare benefits to buy steak and shrimp, or who drive pimped-out SUV's to use their EBT cards to buy groceries (something I've seen more than a few times in inner-city neighborhoods).  I promise you, if they were set down in some of the hardscrabble areas of the world, their attitudes would get them killed in no time flat, because they'd be a burden and a hardship to the community rather than contributors to it.

Do you want meaningful entitlement?  Here's one way to do it.  I'd dismantle the entire welfare and entitlement system, including unemployment benefits and Social Security, but excluding medical insurance (although that needs reform too).  In its place I'd offer every citizen of the USA (not non-citizens, please note!) a flat sum of money every year.  It would be enough to live at a basic level, without much in the way of luxuries - say, $1,500 to $2,000 per month, or $18,000 to $24,000 per year.  Let's make it tax-free, too.  The total cost would be a lot less than what we, as a nation, currently spend every year on welfare and entitlement programs.  Even better, because everyone would get this, we wouldn't need the plethora of government departments, bureaucrats and administrators that currently manage the existing dysfunctional system.  We could shrink government substantially and save even more money!

By doing that, we'd all start with a level playing field, rich and poor alike.  Those who are prepared to work hard will earn more than that, with which they can live at a higher standard.  Those who aren't prepared to work will at least be able to support themselves at a basic level.  The 'entitlement culture' will be overturned, because success will once again depend on your own efforts.  What's not to like?

Peter

Doofus Of The Day #789


Today's award is jointly and severally conferred upon all the idiots who fell for the so-called 'iPhone Wave hoax'.  Britain's Independent newspaper reports:

A fake advert has [been] circulating on Twitter claiming that users of iOS 8 can charge their iPhones by putting them in the microwave, has been spotted as an obvious hoax.

The so-called “Wave” technology is touted as Apple’s “latest and greatest addition to iOS8” and supposedly allows devices to be charged wirelessly though microwave frequencies.


It is not the first time the Wave hoax has surfaced at the launch of a new operating system or phone. Previous pranks on past releases have included claims that the iPhone was waterproof.

Pictures have followed the advert that (also fake) showing the outcome of attempting to charge your phone in the microwave.



There's more at the link.

Next they'll be telling users to launder their iPhones if they get sweaty . . . and I bet some of 'em would do it, too!

Peter

If you get vertigo, don't watch this


Recognize this building?




It's the 100-floor John Hancock Center in Chicago.  The video clip below shows workers on top of the West Tower - one of the two antenna towers at the top of the building - starting to remove its uppermost level.  I recommend watching it in full-screen mode.


I'm serious.  If you suffer from vertigo, DON'T WATCH THIS!






All I can say is, you couldn't pay me enough to get me to do that job, even if I was fully able-bodied . . .




Peter

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Making an old hangar into a home


I was interested to read how a young married couple transformed part of an old aircraft hangar into a home (with offices for one of their enterprises below).  They went from this:




to this:




to this.




Having restored an old, dilapidated four-bedroom apartment in South Africa, I have some idea of how much work is involved.  The amount needed for a hangar conversion must be at least ten times more!  My hat's off to the couple.  Those interested in home improvement will enjoy their story.

Peter

Qatar and Islamic extremism


I mentioned last week that Qatar was under pressure from moderate Muslim neighbors to back off its support for Islamic fundamentalist extremism.  Now the Telegraph publishes an article that gives more information about Qatar's activities.  Here's an excerpt.

Barely three years after Britain helped to free Libya from Col Gaddafi's tyranny, anti-Western radicals hold sway. How could Britain's goal of a stable and friendly Libya have been thwarted so completely?

Step forward a fabulously wealthy Gulf state that owns an array of London landmarks and claims to be one of our best friends in the Middle East.

Qatar, the owner of Harrods, has dispatched cargo planes laden with weapons to the victorious Islamist coalition, styling itself "Libya Dawn".

Western officials have tracked the Qatari arms flights as they land in the city of Misrata, about 100 miles east of Tripoli, where the Islamist militias have their stronghold. Even after the fall of the capital and the removal of Libya's government, Qatar is "still flying in weapons straight to Misrata airport", said a senior Western official.

. . .

From Hamas in the Gaza Strip to radical armed movements in Syria, Qatar's status as a prime sponsor of violent Islamists, including groups linked to al-Qaeda, is clear to diplomats and experts.

Qatar's promotion of extremism has so infuriated its neighbours that Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates all chose to withdraw their ambassadors from the country in March.

. . .

As a small country with relatively weak armed forces and 250,000 citizens, Qatar is trying to guarantee its security by reaching in every direction. As well as providing an office for Hamas, Qatar also hosts the forward headquarters of US Central Command and the al-Udeid military airbase, serving as the hub for all American air operations in the region.

There's more at the link.  Interesting stuff . . . and if Qatar doesn't see the light and back off, I predict a growing confrontation with the UAE, Saudi Arabia and other moderate Muslim states.  I wonder how that will affect US use of Qatari air bases?

Peter

Even the mainstream media are beginning to get it


It's no longer just an 'alarmist fringe' that's predicting economic disaster - even the mainstream media are beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel, and recognize it as an oncoming train.  On Friday the Telegraph published an article titled '10 warning signs of global financial meltdown'.  Here's an excerpt.

1. China slowdown:  The Chinese economy is slowing and this increases risks for investors around the world. China contributes more than a quarter of world economic growth and is the largest buyer of commodities in the world to fuel its massive construction boom. The signs coming out of China are not good ... For the past five years the credit glut in China has been driving world economic growth, but now it looks like the Chinese dragon is running out of puff.

. . .

3. Oil price slump:  The oil price is the purest barometer of world growth as it is the fuel that drives nearly all industry and production around the globe ... Brent Crude, the global benchmark for oil, has been falling in price sharply during the past three months and hit a two-year low of $97.5 per barrel, below the important psychological barrier of $100.

4. Global Commodities:  The prices for nearly all commodities are now falling in a sign of weakening demand across the globe. The Bloomberg Global Commodity index which tracks the prices of 22 commodity prices around the world has fallen to a five-year low.

There's more at the link.  Important information and recommended reading.

The real problem, as I see it, is that markets are not being allowed to naturally find their own levels.  Rampant 'money printing' (a.k.a. quantitative easing [QE]) has completely imbalanced financial markets not just in the USA, but around the world. That, in turn, has led to imbalances in almost all markets around the globe as all the liquidity sloshing around chases something safe in which to invest.  That in turn creates bubbles that - inevitably - burst, leading to panicked flight from suddenly unsafe assets into something - anything! - that offers even the semblance of security (such as, for example, rampant speculation in commodities).  When that, in turn, proves fickle . . . get the idea?

In his latest 'Thoughts From The Frontline' newsletter (link is to an Adobe Acrobat document in .PDF format), John Mauldin ably sums up the core problem with current monetary policy around the world.

Monetary policy as it is currently constructed is only marginally helping private markets and producers. Monetary policy as it is currently practiced is an outright war on savers, which sees them as collateral damage in the Keynesian pursuit of increased consumer demand.

It is trickle-down monetary policy. It has inflated the prices of stocks and other income-producing securities and assets, enriching those who already have assets, but it has done practically nothing for Main Street. It has enabled politicians to avoid making the correct decisions to create sustainable growth and a prosperous future for our children, let alone an environment in which the Boomer generation can retire comfortably.

It is a pernicious doctrine that refuses to recognize its own multiple failures because it starts with the presupposition that its theory cannot fail. It starts with the presuppositions that final consumer demand is the end-all and be-all, that increased indebtedness and leverage enabled by lower rates are good things, and that a small room full of wise individuals can successfully direct the movement of an entire economy of 300 million-plus people.

The current economic thought leaders are not unlike the bishops of the Catholic Church of 16th-century Europe. Their world was constructed according to a theory that they held to be patently true. You did not rise to a position of authority unless you accepted the truth of that theory. Therefore Galileo was wrong. They refused to look at the clear evidence that contradicted their theory, because to do so would have undermined their power.

Current monetary and fiscal policy is leading the developed world down a dark alley where we are all going to get mugged. Imbalances are clearly building up in almost every corner of the market, encouraged by a low-interest-rate regime that is explicitly trying to increase the risk-taking in the system. Our Keynesian masters know their policies and theories are correct – we must only give them time to more perfectly practice them. That the results they’re getting are not what they want cannot be their fault, because the theory is correct. Therefore the problem has to lie with the real world, full of imperfect people like you and me.

What our leaders need is a little more humility and a little less theory.

Again, more at the link.

Much of the Fed's QE program is scheduled to end next month, October 2014.  It's been underpinning the housing and stock markets for years now;  and in its absence, there's a serious question whether those markets will remain stable, or collapse.  Once QE's stimulus is no longer available, I think all the other pressures on the economy are going to build to a head . . . probably very rapidly.  I can't help thinking about the events of late October 1929 and what they precipitated.

Keep your heads down, my friends, and your economic powder dry.

Peter

Jobs for the boys - a 'brothel investigator'


I was amazed to read that Sydney, Australia has what must be one of the most unusual - and sought-after - jobs in the world.




The Sydney Morning Herald reports:

Three years ago Fred Allen* was a taxi driver working 12-hour shifts to make ends meet.

Today, he is a gun for hire, having received tens of thousands of dollars from Sydney's metropolitan councils in exchange for crucial evidence that is presented in court to help expose and close underground parlours. In short, Mr Allen has paid sex with prostitutes and ratepayers foot the bill.

"Never in a million years would I have imagined a job like this existed, let alone me doing it," the 60-year-old said, with a hint of a smirk. "It's a strange world for sure."

. . .

Mr Allen's maiden mission involved an undercover visit to an unlicensed brothel reportedly masquerading as a massage clinic. "I had never been to a brothel in my life so I was feeling quite nervous and apprehensive," he recalled.

"I didn't know what to expect. I reminded myself that this was a legal job exposing illegal activities. As far as first days at work go, I enjoyed myself."

. . .

Mr Allen confirmed he had completed more than 60 jobs at various locations across Sydney. In nearly every case, the establishments were "clean and comfortable" environments staffed almost exclusively by Asian girls who were in Australia to "study English". Sexual services were given in all but three of the businesses he has visited, he said.

"The jobs flow in, on average, once every three weeks. If it spreads out that way, it's perfect," he said.

"But there are occasions when they all arrive at once. For instance, I was given three jobs to complete, for the same council, in the same week ... and I'm not as young as I used to be."


[* Not his real name]

There's more at the link.  You can read more about his job here.

I wonder how Sydney ratepayers feel when they realize that their money is paying for an investigator to have sex with prostitutes?  I imagine the council could instead call for unpaid volunteers from among the ratepayers.  I daresay it'd be overwhelmed with the response!  Alternatively, we could get Mike Rowe to investigate it as an extension of his 'Dirty Jobs' series . . .




Peter

Saturday, September 20, 2014

This is so over the top it's hilarious!


We've featured Ken Block's Gymkhana motorsport videos here before.  Now, from the same stable, here's 'Ballistic BJ Baldwin' and his 800hp pickup truck (modded and hot-rodded out the wazoo) in a 'race' through Ensenada in Mexico.  The beach babes ain't bad, either . . .  I recommend watching it in full-screen mode.





Like I said - it's so over the top it's hilarious!  Some great camera work, too, to capture all that action, and very good post-production to tie it all together.  I wonder what the townspeople thought of the mayhem unleashed in their midst?

Peter

Why can't all our politicians answer these questions?


DaddyBear, fellow blogger and friend to Miss D. and myself in both cyber- and meatspace, has come up with a series of questions for political candidates wanting his vote.  He has five blog segments up (so far) with parts of his questionnaire:








I think they're great!  The only difficulty with them is that they're clearly compiled from a more conservative or right-wing perspective.  I'd love to see someone like Earthbound Misfit do something similar from a progressive or left-wing perspective, and combine them (and other contributions) into a non-partisan candidate rating system.  If all candidates, of whatever political persuasion, could be made to honestly answer questions like these, we'd all be better informed come election day.

Peter

After a month, how's Kindle Unlimited playing out?


After the launch of Amazon.com's new Kindle Unlimited (KU) subscription library, I waited to see how it would progress, then in the middle of last month I made up my mind.  I withdrew my books from other vendors (specifically iTunes, Barnes & Noble's Nook, and Kobo) and listed them exclusively in Amazon's KDP Select program so as to make them eligible for KU.

It's been just over 30 days since I did that, and the initial results have been very satisfactory for me.  I've found that the number of loans, and the fees Amazon pays for a loan under the KU program, have added up to between three and four times as much as I would have made (based on past performance) from all three of the other vendors.  From a financial perspective, there's no question that the switch has made sense.  The additional income is particularly useful at this time because of the cyclical nature of book sales.  Every time I release a new book it'll sell well for six weeks or so, then go into a decline.  It'll lift the sales of my other books with it, and then they'll decline as well.  Right now, since I've delayed the release of my next novel to give me more time to make it a better book, my sales figures aren't great;  so the added income stream from KU loans is very welcome indeed.  (I'm looking forward to a  renewed boost in sales when Maxwell Volume 4 comes out in a month or two.)

Bestselling independent author Hugh Howie has found that the KU program nets him less money, but more readers.  He argues that the latter is just as important (if not more so) to authors than their current income stream, in terms of future sales.  (In his case, of course, selling hundreds of thousands of books a year, this is no problem for him at all.  I daresay some other authors, more dependent on day-to-day income, might not share his views.)  Since I've found that the KU program has brought me both more readers and an increased income stream, I'm definitely in agreement with him about its benefits.

I apologize to those of you who want to buy my books in formats other than Amazon's Kindle, but right now it's simply not financially viable for me to offer them for sale.  Of course, I don't use DRM encoding on my books, so if you buy the Kindle edition you can convert it to other formats such as EPUB using a free program called Calibre, which I use myself and recommend.  (Calibre can't handle DRM-encoded books, but if the DRM is stripped from the files, it works just fine with them.)  I'm going to look into whether I can supply .PDF versions of my books independently of other vendors;  however, as they're presently structured, Amazon's terms of service won't allow me to do this.  It may be possible to have an arrangement that if you've bought the Kindle edition of the book, and want a .PDF version as well at no additional charge, I may be able to supply this.  I'm talking to Amazon representatives at present, and I'll let you know if it gets the green light.

(By the way, if you're looking for free reader software for .PDF books and other formats, take a look at Adobe Digital Editions.  I find it much easier to use - and easier on the eyes - than Adobe Acrobat Reader.  Recommended.)

Peter

Rush hour, choreographed


Someone had way too much fun setting this up . . .








Peter

Friday, September 19, 2014

Not your average back seat driver . . .


I came across an article at Jalopnik titled 'The Ten Most Vulgar Cars Ever Made'.  Vulgar they most certainly are . . . particularly what's described as 'A 1954 Rolls-Royce Toilet Car'.  Externally, it looks intriguing - the only Rolls-Royce ever to have bodywork styled by Vignale of Italy.




Intrigued, I flipped over to the Bonham's auction listing for the vehicle.  Sure enough, they comment:

When Joseph J. Maschuch, Esq. of Maplewood, New Jersey (incorrectly noted as New York on the build sheets) placed his order for a Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith he was definitely not looking to glide quietly through life unnoticed.

Starting with a long wheelbase Silver Wraith, Maschuch enlisted the Italian futurists at Vignale to craft a one-off body like nothing else to clothe his special limousine. The classic Rolls grill is hugged by a pair of sealed beam P100s while a smaller set of hooded foglights capped the front fenders. The rear window and C-pillar were swept back and — much like a 1959 Lincoln Continental Sedan that seemingly cherry-picked from this car's design—the rear window was retractable. Even with the long wheelbase, the finely appointed cabin necessitated a long rear overhang to accommodate a full sized trunk. It was no doubt as matchless in mid-1955 when it was delivered as it is today.

If the look of the car wasn't enough to draw one's attention, the list of special features certainly would. Under the bonnet, the block, head, dynamo, starter, air cleaner, carburetor, and inlet manifold were all painted green. In addition to that the build sheets indicate that the "customer requires all visible pipes under the bonnet [to be] chrome plated." Inside, air conditioning kept the cabin cool while fine cabinetry in the rear compartment hid a full bar and a center mounted television. A Becker Mexico radio in the dash provided music to fit the occasion. All of the windows were of course power operated, as was the front seat. The chauffeur's compartment was trimmed in black leather, while Mr. Maschuch enjoyed grey broadcloth. Most distinctively, under the right rear passenger seat is a toilet with a gold painted toilet seat — although it is understood this was only used as a champagne cooler (at least one hopes it was not used interchangeably).

There's more at the link.  Underlined text is my emphasis.

A toilet under the rear seat???  Sure enough, there it is:




And he wanted it for use "as a champagne cooler"?  Couldn't he have specified a more conventional design?  According to the Jalopnik article, the toilet "would empty right out on to the road under the car".  Was it ever used for that purpose?  Was it, perhaps, the owner's way of expressing his opinion of those he was passing?

I suppose we'll never know . . .




Peter

There's no room for people like this in our society


WARNING:  If a blunt discussion of pedophilia might offend you, please don't read any further.


A few years ago I wrote about a seminar organized by B4U-ACT, a group purporting to help (or try to help) those sexually attracted to minors.  I confessed my dilemma over the question of what to do about those who felt such attraction, but had never acted on it.  Could they be legitimately helped without condoning pedophilia?  Read my whole article (and the comments) to get a feel for the discussion.

Now comes news that another seminar has just been held by B4U-ACT.

In “Batman,” the Joker rhetorically asks a young Bruce Wayne: “Tell me, kid – you ever danced with the devil by the pale moonlight?” Well, I have. Not by the pale moonlight, but in a brightly lit Four Points Sheraton in Baltimore, Md.

On Wednesday, Aug. 17, I – along with the venerable child advocate Dr. Judith Reisman – attended a conference hosted by the pedophile group B4U-ACT. Around 50 individuals were in attendance, including a number of admitted pedophiles (or “minor-attracted persons” [MAPs] as they euphemistically prefer), a few self-described “gay activists” and several supportive mental-health professionals. World renowned “sexologist” Dr. Fred Berlin of Johns Hopkins University gave the keynote address, saying: “I want to completely support the goal of B4U-ACT.”

. . .

Self-described “gay activist” and speaker Jacob Breslow said that children can properly be “the object of our attraction.” He further objectified children, suggesting that pedophiles needn’t gain consent from a child to have sex with “it” any more than we need consent from a shoe to wear it. He then used graphic, slang language to favorably describe the act of climaxing (ejaculating) “on or with” a child. No one in attendance objected to this explicit depiction of child sexual assault. There was even laughter. (In fairness, Dr. Berlin did later tell Mr. Breslow that his words might “anger” some people and that he [Berlin] is categorically opposed to adult-child sex with “pre-pubescent” children. When asked about the propriety of adult-child sex with pubescent children, Dr. Berlin did not provide a clear answer.)

. . .

Alas, we live in a post-Kinsey America wherein our culture, along with our Judeo-Christian heritage, rots in the heat of the day. The stench of sexual anarchy is masked by the soaring, disingenuous rhetoric of “tolerance,” “diversity” and “comprehensive sex education.”

Sick to your stomach? I am. Why can't these sexual anarchists leave our children alone and let kids be kids?

There's much more at the link, if you can stomach the details.  It's important reading if you're to understand how pedophiles are actively trying to subvert our society's remaining moral standards, and threaten our children with their perversion.

Based on this report, it now seems clear that B4U-ACT and similar groups (several of which are identified in the article) are nothing more than 'front organizations' and/or apologists for pedophilia.  As such, I believe they - and their members - are utterly beyond anything that civilized society can accept or tolerate in its midst.

I spent many years in Africa, including extensive travel in 'traditional' tribal regions.  There's not much of a pedophilia problem in those areas.  That's because the tribal elders watch out for such things, and deal with them immediately and with utter ruthlessness when the need arises.  The offending party simply 'vanishes'.  He or she is never seen or heard from again.  Everyone knows what happened to them, but no-one ever says a word.  Those who might harbor such tendencies see what happened to those who tried to indulge them, and learn from their example.  If they don't, sooner or later they'll 'vanish' in their turn.  I guess it's a time-honored African implementation of the famous '3-S Treatment'.

That's certainly one solution to an age-old problem.  Traditional Judeo-Christian morality would find it difficult to object to it (provided that the guilt of the parties concerned is beyond question) because no other solution will permanently remove the threat.  Personally, I accept (having worked with some of them for years in prison) that some forms of deviancy can never be safely tolerated in society.  I submit that pedophilia is one of them.  Pedophiles will always be a threat to our children.  If they can be incarcerated for life in institutions that are guaranteed to keep them locked away from our children, that's one solution.  If that can't be assured, we need to modify our judicial system so that it can be assured;  because if we don't, people will turn to the only other solution that's sure to work . . . just as they did in Africa.

I invite my readers to form their own opinions of the members and supporters of B4U-ACT and the other organizations mentioned in the report.  I certainly have.

Peter

EDITED TO ADD:  The problem's not confined to the USA alone, of course.  A few minutes ago I came across this article in the Sydney Morning Herald:  'Scale of paedophile activity shocks police'.  Go read it for yourself.  I'm willing to bet what they're finding in Australia is also going on over here, and in Europe.

Doofus Of The Day #788


Today's award goes to North Carolinians Against Gun Violence.  This anti-gun group appears to regard all victims of shootings as 'victims' to be exploited for propaganda purposes.  That's all very well, until one of them turns out to be a real bad-ass felon with a criminal record, who was shot while engaged in what appears to be yet another offense.  Read all the details at 'An NC Gun Blog'.

Just goes to show . . . propaganda has to be well thought out - otherwise it can (and often does) backfire on those trying to use it to manipulate public opinion.

Peter

A great piece of flying


Watch this DC-10 water bomber from 10 Tanker dive straight down a ridgeline to drop its load of fire retardant, then firewall the throttles to pull up clear of the cross-ridge where the photographer is waiting.  I recommend watching the video in full-screen mode.





I didn't know you could toss one of those whale-like planes around like that - and I suspect most airline pilots wouldn't even try!  Kudos to the pilot for his skills.

You can see more videos of the DC-10 water bombers at 10 Tanker's Web site, and on YouTube.

Peter

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Some interesting declassified CIA reports


The Central Intelligence Agency has declassified a number of reports from its in-house journal, 'Studies in Intelligence'.  The agency described them as follows:


This collection of released documents consists of a selection of declassified Studies in Intelligence articles from the 1970s to 2000s. The documents reveal the CIA’s place in conducting U.S. foreign policy. The Agency cannot plan or act today without being influenced in some way by its collective past or the historical experiences that these documents describe. This collection of declassified articles includes studies on the leadership of the individual DCIs and other senior Agency officers; histories of CIA directorates and their activities; tutorials on improving intelligence tradecraft; ever-changing intelligence challenges and national security threats to the U.S.; and specific events in which intelligence played a role in informing policymakers or influencing outcomes.

Studies in Intelligence, CIA’s in-house journal for the intelligence professional, is administered by the Agency’s Center for the Study of Intelligence. Its mission is to stimulate within the Intelligence Community the constructive discussion of important issues of the day, to expand knowledge of lessons learned from past experiences, to increase understanding of the history of the profession, and to provide readers with considered reviews of public literature concerning intelligence. Intelligence trailblazer Sherman Kent-the ‘father’ of intelligence analysis in America-created Studies in 1955 as a journal for intelligence professionals. In the first article published in Studies, Kent called for the creation of a literature that would support the development of intelligence as a professional discipline. He said, “As long as this discipline lacks a literature, its method, its vocabulary, its body of doctrine, and even its fundamental theory run the risk of never reaching full maturity.“  Kent believed that the most important service such a literature could perform would be to record and disseminate new ideas and experiences, and build toward a cumulative understanding of the profession.

I've been browsing through some of the released reports.  They look very interesting.  A few examples:


There are many more at the link.  Recommended reading for historians of intelligence operations, and for those trying to understand what an organization like the CIA may be called upon to do.  I daresay the organization's foreign counterparts (including the Soviet KGB's modern successor organizations) will read these articles with a great deal of mutual understanding and a 'Been there, done that' reaction.

Peter

Doofus Of The Day #787


Courtesy of a link at Wirecutter's place, today's award goes to a 16-year-old teen in Boise, Idaho.

A car full of teenagers crashed in Idaho after one of the passengers lit the driver's armpit hair on fire with a lighter, authorities said Wednesday.

All five young people in the Ford Bronco were hurt in the crash Sunday and received medical treatment, the Ada County Sheriff's Office said.

Two of the passengers, ages 15 and 16, were thrown from the vehicle, but none of the five suffered life-threatening injuries.

There's more at the link.

Dare I guess that apart from teenage stupidity (as my sister says, they think they're "invincible, invulnerable and infertile"), alcohol might have been involved?

Peter

Ferrets!


What happens when two ferrets are introduced to a box full of packing peanuts?





Miss D. and I were giggling like mad at the thought of our cat joining in the fun . . . and she would!




Peter

Debt and what it means to YOU PERSONALLY


I've written many times before about the problem of debt, and how it threatens our joint and several individual, corporate and national future.  I've just come across one of the best explanations of the problem of debt in layman's terms that I've ever found.

Chris Martenson is a well-known economic forecaster and commentator.  In 2011 he published 'The Crash Course:  The Unsustainable Future Of Our Economy, Energy, And Environment'.  He's currently updating his 2011 book in the form of a series of video podcasts on his YouTube channel.  I highly recommend watching them all.  They contain no-nonsense, down-to-earth explanations of how we got into this mess and what are likely to be the consequences.  One of his talks - the latest to be uploaded - is titled simply 'Debt'.  Here's the key graphic from that presentation, IMHO.




Take a good, long look at that graphic.  It's no joke.  As of the end of last year, the average US family of four had a debt burden - comprising its share of the overall personal, corporate, local government, state government and national government debt - totalling $735,000.  That's even if the family carried no personal debt whatsoever - no credit card balance, no student loans, no mortgage, no car note - nothing.

If you're horrified at the thought that you, personally, as an individual, are on the hook for over $180,000 of other peoples' debts, you need to watch this video presentation to find out how that happened.  If the embed code stops working for any reason, you can watch it on YouTube.





Horrifying, isn't it?  Now you understand why knowledgeable commentators have been saying for years that our present economic circumstances are unsustainable.  Never before in the history of the human race have numbers like these been bandied about.  Sooner or later, something's got to give.  The only reason it hasn't already 'given' is that the Fed has been printing money like there's no tomorrow (through it's so-called 'quantitative easing' programs) to subsidize expenditure and debt, both for the US government and for the economy as a whole.  That 'money spigot' is scheduled to be shut off next month.  What's going to happen then?  Your guess is as good as mine . . . but my guess is that it won't be good.

Debt is the albatross around our economic necks.  It's dragging us down, and there will be no way up unless and until we shed that albatross.  It's as simple as that.  Mathematics is a science, not guesswork - and the debt numbers don't lie.

Thanks to Mr. Martenson for a very enlightening and informative video series.  I very strongly recommend that you watch all of them.  If only they weren't so depressing . . . but we can't blame Mr. Martenson for reality.

Peter