Monday, March 31, 2014
I'm sure that by now, most readers are aware of the latest outbreak of the Ebola virus in West Africa. It appears to be spreading.
There is no treatment for this disease. As far as I'm aware, once it becomes established in victims there's a 90% fatality rate. Initial trials with vaccines in primates have proved successful, but research hasn't yet progressed to inoculating humans; and it may take weeks or months for the vaccination to provide full immunization. This means that travelers can easily carry Ebola with them on flights to other parts of the world. It's highly infectious and very aggressive, and poses an enormous risk to areas that aren't aware of the dangers it poses. One case may already have occurred in Canada; but after the initial publicity, nothing more has been heard. I suspect that country's authorities are trying not to spread alarm. I'm sure they're also monitoring their airports very closely for travelers who've been in the affected areas. If I had the opportunity to leave there, I'd take it; but I couldn't necessarily guarantee that I wasn't already incubating the virus. The authorities will want to be sure of that.
I can only suggest that if you live close to airports where flights from West Africa land, or in areas with a large population of West African origin, you take additional precautions, including improved hygiene and sanitation. Ebola's nothing to fool with. It'll kill you in a skinny minute if it takes hold.
I note with no surprise whatsoever that at a Democratic Party rally in Cincinnati, Ohio, for election reform, headlined by Al Sharpton, convicted felon Melowese Richardson was "brought up on the stage during the rally and hugged by Sharpton, apparently for her efforts to keep Obama in the White House".
Her crime? Vote fraud - in short, voting six times for President Obama during the 2012 Presidential election, an election during which she worked at the polls. So much for electoral worker neutrality, huh?
I see. The party that wants to reform election law publicly honors the election worker who violated election laws? I think that says it all, right there. If I were an honest Ohio voter, irrespective of the party I supported, I'd be furious.
Yet another example of Government waste. This article is from September last year, but the aircraft it mentions is apparently still being funded, seven months later!
At an airfield in rural Georgia, the U.S. government pays a contractor $6,600 a month for a plane that doesn’t fly.
The plane is a 1960s turboprop with an odd array of antennas on its back end and the name of a Cuban national hero painted on its tail. It can fly, but it doesn’t. Government orders.
“The contract now is a ‘non-fly’ ” contract, said Steve Christopher of Phoenix Air Group, standing next to the plane. “That’s what the customer wants.”
The airplane is called “Aero Martí,” and it is stuck in a kind of federal limbo. After two years of haphazard spending cuts in Washington, it has too little funding to function but too much to die.
The plane was outfitted to fly over the ocean and broadcast an American-run TV station into Cuba. The effort was part of the long-running U.S. campaign to combat communism in Cuba by providing information to the Cuban people uncensored by their government.
But Cuban officials jammed the signal almost immediately, and surveys showed that less than 1 percent of Cubans watched. Still, when Congress started making budget cuts, lawmakers refused to kill the plane.
But then they allowed across-the-board “sequestration” cuts. And there was no more money for the fuel and pilots. So the plane sits in storage at taxpayer expense — a monument to the limits of American austerity. In this case, a push to eliminate long-troubled programs collided with old Washington forces: government inertia, intense lobbying and congressional pride.
. . .
... in 2012, the Obama administration officially gave up.
The federal Office of Cuba Broadcasting, which pays for the plane, asked Congress to eliminate it. The savings: about $2 million a year.
. . .
Congress preserved the funding. So from October  to this May , the administration spent $751,999 to operate a plane it had declared was not worth the money.
But then came sequestration.
This was a broad hack across the budget, which Congress made after it failed to agree on more targeted budget cuts. At the Office of Cuba Broadcasting, officials found their share of the cut was $1.4 million.
They kept the plane. They cut the flying.
Now, the agency still pays $79,500 a year to keep the aircraft in storage, paying money for nothing in a time when sequestration is causing painful cuts in other programs.
There's more at the link.
So we're adding to our already ruinous deficit by paying through the nose for an unneeded, unwanted plane to be parked unused. I have a suggestion. Let's take every cent of that expenditure out of the salaries paid to all those who keep pushing to retain the plane. If they don't total enough to cover the costs, let's deduct it from their pensions. That way they might develop a little more respect for the taxpayers they're raping in such an unconscionable fashion!
Sunday, March 30, 2014
Lots of links tonight.
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I recently came across an article from 2011 that's nevertheless very useful for those who store emergency supplies. It's at the Survivalist Blog, titled 'Strategic Shopping: A Month-by-Month Analysis'. It looks at what's likely to be on sale or better-priced during given months. Useful information if you're shopping for larger quantities (or families) on a tight budget.
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I'm sure that by now, most readers are aware that California State Senator Leland Yee, a virulently anti-gun and anti-Second-Amendment legislator, has been arrested by the FBI for alleged corruption and dealing in illegal firearms.
Larry Correia, my longstanding online and meatspace buddy, author and blogger, has written one of his wonderfully funny articles about the not-so-good Senator. He casts him as a super-villain of the 'Big Trouble In Little China' variety. Great fun!
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Another recent discovery is 'Planck's Constant Blog' (apparently referring to this mathematical constant). The author has some very interesting articles on economic matters. Here's a brief selection:
- The Shrinking Toilet Paper Mystery and the Fake Inflation Report
- Hiding Inflation in a Pound of Coffee
- Buying Empty Space in Products Creates a Low Fake Inflation Rate
All are worthwhile reading, and educational to boot. Recommended.
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Another longstanding blogging buddy, Matt G., links to a very sad and moving article by a blogger who's dying of cancer. She describes what it feels like to arrange her own funeral, and the weirdness of feeling the disease growing inside her. Powerful stuff, and very worthwhile reading. Please don't forget to say a prayer for her, too, and for the husband and young children she's preparing to leave behind. May God grant them all mercy and peace.
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Tanker informs us (in cartoon form) how submarines are made. (Scroll down to see the image.)
I did not know that!
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Emperor Misha, better known as The Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler, offers hope and sage counsel concerning the decay that currently afflicts this country. Here's a sample.
We don’t know how this phase that we’re going through will end. It could end with the utter collapse of the U.S. as we know it, to be replaced with somebody else who haven’t forgotten or even somebody else who will fail too, but in the long run it is inevitable that the values that we, The Remnant, stand for will prevail. WE may not live to see it, although we will spend every ounce of energy remaining to us making sure that we will, but we can rest assured that it will happen. Eventually.
It is inevitable. Because we hold the might, and might makes right. It’s only a matter of time.
What OUR duty is to hold on to that, to pass it on to others, those who will carry the torch when we’re gone if we fail to do it in our lifetimes, to remind everybody what it means to be free, to be The Remnant, the seed for future liberty.
If we manage THAT, we cannot fail.
There's more at the link.
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Warren Meyer points out that occupational licensing is ultimately inadequate to ensure safe, efficient and effective work by people in those occupations. True, that.
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Aaron Clarey, who blogs as Captain Capitalism, analyzes the 'buzzwords' that indicate whether your job is basically worthless (and likely leftist), or something worthwhile. It's hard for anyone with real business experience to disagree with his conclusions.
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Greylocke brings us a series of 'Apolitical Aphorisms' that had me giggling.
In another article, he brings us two video clips of Mark Gungor speaking about relationships. Sage advice, and very amusingly presented.
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The Silicon Graybeard discusses the problem of grade inflation in school and university, calling it 'The College Problem You Haven't Heard Of'. Makes sense to me.
(Speaking of college problems, I came across another blog this week called 'Law School Lemmings'. It's all about the reasons to avoid law school, and why it won't ultimately help your career. It's both amusing and alarming in the misdeeds and shenanigans it exposes. Recommended reading, particularly for those considering a career in the legal field.)
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The Firearm Blog reports on a modern equivalent to the World War II-vintage Welrod silenced pistol, designed for use by spies, covert agents and resistance movements. The article links to a Danish Web site about the Welrod pistol, which contains more information about them than I've found elsewhere. It's of particular interest to me because I've fired an original Welrod pistol from World War II, belonging to a friend in South Africa. It's an intriguing device, and I enjoyed being able to learn more about it.
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Grouchy Old Cripple's friend Ron contributes a guest article on rap 'music'. He makes his opinion pretty clear.
Rap is entirely without redeeming social value and consistently fails to impart any insight or wisdom into the tricky business of being slightly superior to baboons on the evolutionary ladder. It is totally dependent upon street, prison, or ghetto experience for its vocabulary, which is predominantly slanguage arranged in doggerel and delivered in a monotonous thumping rhythm reminiscent of sub-Saharan mating dances.
There's more at the link.
Go on, Ron, don't hold back - tell us how you really feel!
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In two articles, Karl Denninger fumes at the shenanigans of car dealers. His first article exposes some of their tricks, particularly excess charges. His second gives credit where credit is due, and also provides very useful advice on car-buying. Both are highly recommended reading.
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Clark, writing at Popehat, has some sober reflections on our relationships and interactions with the State. Here's an example.
Put aside existing models of how and why the US government works and approach it as a forensic anthropology question:
- Note that the NSA, the DoD, and the State Department are regulated by the government, but regulation does not work they way one might expect.
- Note that no matter which party seems to win an election, the bureaucracy always stays in place, and has its own agenda.
- Note that elections do not create moral government or consent.
- Note that the DNA of the government is not just the Constitution, but the extended phenotype of defense oriented firms, police departments, bureaucrats, dependents, and more.
- Ask yourself if people of good will tried to reform the government in 1980, and 1990, and 2000, and 2010, and it has gotten larger and more intrustive every year, what effect people of good will trying to reform the government in 2014 will have.
There's more at the link. Very worthwhile reading - and do please follow the links provided. This one, from the second-to-last point above, is both enlightening and infuriating.
(In the light of the above, this might be a good time to remind ourselves of Joe Huffman's famous 'Jews In The Attic Test'. We should apply it to any and all government regulation, to see if it passes. If it doesn't, we need to resist that regulation with all our might.)
Also at Popehat (which is a group blog), Patrick brings us a very enlightening video clip by Harvey Silverglate titled 'The Harvard Bait & Switch'. He examines freedom of speech and academic freedom (or rather the modern suppression thereof). Enlightening material, particularly if you or your children are planning to attend university anytime soon.
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Daddybear has some background information on the criminal 'flash mob' in Louisville last weekend (about which I wrote earlier today). Worthwhile reading.
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Finally, Scott Kelley opines that there are times 'When .22′s may be the best home defense weapons'. I've written about a similar subject myself, so he won't get any argument from me! I'm a firm believer in using more gun if you can manage it, but if you can't, or if a .22 weapon is all that's available, it can serve your needs.
# # #
That's all for this week.
Those of my readers who shoot firearms chambered in the Russian 5.45x39mm. round should note that further importation of the steel-core military version (7N6) of this round (shown below) is reported to have been banned.
Full details are here (see the confirming update at the foot of the report). As far as I'm aware, most (if not all) milsurp ammo in that caliber is the steel-core version, so if the report is correct, there won't be any more of it coming in (although civilian-grade ammo with non-steel cores will still be legal - or, at least, I assume it will).
You might want to stock up on the remaining supplies of 5.45x39mm. milsurp ammo before it runs out. There's not much left out there.
I've written on several previous occasions about the changing (and growing) security risks in urban environments - in this article in particular. The warnings I gave there came horribly true in Louisville, Kentucky last weekend.
A swarm of two dozen teenagers walked up to a man on the Big Four Bridge around 7 p.m. Saturday and asked him for a cigarette. Then, without provocation, they pummeled him.
Within minutes, 10 teenagers on the bridge shoved another man to the ground, beat and kicked him, as his wife and granddaughters watched and wept.
The simultaneous attacks in broad daylight early Saturday evening were the opening salvo in a rampage that spanned at least three hours and two dozen blocks, and has, in the days since, sent city officials scrambling to reassure the public that downtown Louisville has not devolved into a lawless battlefield.
A Courier-Journal review of dozens of incident reports obtained from Louisville Metro Police chronicle the teens' movements. Mobs of teenagers roved the streets, several dozen people deep. They beat a man unconscious, broke windows, threw rocks at moving cars, looted a store, threatened a police officer and mugged anyone who dared get in their way. More than 30 people called to report trouble. Police have counted at least 20 crimes, and suspect there are more that have yet to be reported.
"They were organized and nobody else was," Jean Henry said of the mob that knocked her 61-year-old husband to the ground on the Big Four Bridge, then beat and kicked him. "When I was running to my husband, I looked around. I couldn't tell who was in the group and who just happened to be up there. People were in shock, I think that's why nobody helped us."
There's much more at the link. It's essential reading for anyone concerned with their personal security, not just in Louisville, but in any medium- to large-sized American city or town.
What's even worse is that the Louisville city fathers appear to have instructed the police to play down (if not ignore) the risks to visitors in one of the city's premier tourist areas. I don't particularly like Bill O'Reilly of Fox News, but I think his astonishment at this situation isn't out of place. Note the security camera footage of the mob violence in this segment from his show.
If I had any plans to visit Louisville or attend the Kentucky Derby Festival there later this year, you can bet your last dollar those plans have just changed! The risk to my safety and security is too great.
What's worse is, even if you're aware of the potential danger and have armed yourself as a precaution against it, this is a fight you simply can't win. If you survive and prevail on the street, you'll be crucified in the court of public opinion - and you can bet that race-baiting agitators would make sure you'll be prosecuted for defending yourself, too. Just imagine the sensation-seeking newspaper headlines by liberal or progressive reporters and editors, who will try to obscure the truth of what happened:
- "Panicked bystander turns gun on teenage boys"
- "Children massacred in tourist mecca"
- "Man guns down youths in crowded plaza"
Like I said . . . you can't win, even if you survive. Note what happened to the old man who defended himself with a knife when attacked in Louisville (described in the linked article above - the incident which appears to have sparked last weekend's violence). The police immediately arrested and jailed him. The grand jury no-billed him when they saw the security video, and he's since been released . . . but until that happened, he was locked up among all sorts of criminals and gang-bangers. Now imagine yourself in his shoes. You've successfully defended yourself against a criminal flash mob. Now you're locked up among thugs and criminals who probably knew some of those you've just shot, and who are likely to be looking to avenge them. Are you sure you'll survive long enough to be exonerated? I'm not! The cops are highly unlikely to give you a secure cell to yourself. You'll be on your own, surrounded by those who, at best, have no reason to love you. Good luck, friend . . . you're going to need it!
This sort of scenario is becoming more and more common all over the United States. Just do an internet search on 'flash mob violence' and you'll see what I mean. More and more, your only defense is to stay away from places where it's likely to occur. You may still get caught unawares, or be in the wrong place at the wrong time, and if so your only recourse is likely to be the use of defensive violence. However, it's better by far not to need it at all! As John Farnam famously observed more than a decade ago (see his Quips for March 19th, 2003 at this link - scroll down to find it):
The best way to handle any potentially injurious encounter is: Don’t be there. Arrange to be somewhere else. Don’t go to stupid places. Don’t associate with stupid people. Don’t do stupid things. This is the advice I give to all students of defensive firearms. Winning a gunfight, or any other potentially injurious encounter, is financially and emotionally burdensome. The aftermath will become your full-time job for weeks or months afterward, and you will quickly grow weary of writing checks to lawyer(s). It is, of course, better than being dead or suffering a permanently disfiguring or disabling injury, but the “penalty” for successfully fighting for your life is still formidable.
Crowds of any kind, particularly those with an agenda, such as political rallies, demonstrations, picket lines, etc are good examples of “stupid places.” Any crowd with a high collective energy level harbors potential catastrophe. To a lesser degree, bank buildings, hospital emergency rooms, airports, government buildings, and bars (particularly crowded ones) fall into the same category. All should be avoided. When they can’t be avoided, we should make it a practice to spend only the minimum time necessary there and then quickly get out.
“A superior gunman is best defined as one who uses his superior judgment in order to keep himself out of situations that would require the use of his superior skills.”
Again, more at the link. Bold underlined text is my emphasis.
Mr. Farnam knows whereof he speaks. His advice is invaluable. Ignore it at your peril.
Saturday, March 29, 2014
That's the title of a photo essay at CNBC. They list several items that were previously on the menu, or were temporary specials, at various restaurants and takeaway joints. They're no longer on the menu, but if you ask for them, apparently the staff will still prepare them for you. I found this one appetizing:
And this appears to be a heart attack looking for a place to happen:
There are many more at the link. Interesting for fast-foodies (if such a category of gourmet exists).
I've been laughing at two articles in the Telegraph inspired by the news of American Gwyneth Paltrow's separation from Briton Chris Martin. With tongues firmly in cheek, two of that paper's contributors (both married to partners from across the pond) give their perspectives.
On being a British man married to an American woman:
Here are some of the pitfalls:
Obsessed with Mexican food
For some reason, Americans believe that the constant and dirt-cheap availability of Mexican food is a human right. Tell them there is nowhere to get an affordable burrito in, say, Merthyr Tydfil, and they will gape in shock, like you just sang the national anthem in Klingon. The idea that their country has a lot of Mexican food because, er … they share a 800 mile border with Mexico, simply does not compute. Mexican food should be everywhere. Like oxygen, or laughter. If it is not, the universe is fundamentally misaligned. Chris, Gwyneth is gone. But at least you don’t have to put up with this ridiculous behaviour anymore.
The word “woo!”
To marry an American is to accept the word “woo!” into your life. The word is not in any dictionary, but is written deep inside an American’s heart and soul. To an American, if anything vaguely good is happening, one must emit a “woo”. Perhaps a baseball team has hit a baseball. Or a tray of cupcakes successfully made it from the kitchen to a living room table. Anything dimly positive can be greeted with a overly-loud, obnoxiously out-of-context: “WOOO! YEAH! Cupcakes! Awesome!”. It is insufferable.
Swapping hands with cutlery
For a nation supposedly all about efficiency, the American way of handling cutlery is enough to drive a decent person mad. They don’t hold their fork in their left hand and knife in their right, like any normal human. They cut their food that way, then put both utensils down, then switch their fork into their right hand, and only THEN begin scooping food into their mouths. And this happens dozens of times per meal. And they have the nerve to think the way WE eat is weird.
There's more at the link.
On being an American woman married to a British man:
Here are some of the pitfalls:
British men have the emotional intelligence of an infant
American women take their mental health very seriously. Marry one of us and British men will be forced to spend days – probably months, possibly years – of their lives engaged in a joint stream-of-consciousness assessment of how exactly their wife is feeling. Right now. They simply ain’t equipped to deal with this side of US women. On the plus side, the British male will bring wry – sometimes nervous – humour to almost any interaction on the subject – which can occasionally help. However, it is highly likely that he’ll have the emotional intelligence of a five-year-old.
Those two left feet
The British man: can’t dance/won’t dance. Not even at home; British self-consciousness extends to the bedroom.
Cheese on toast; beans on toast; chips on toast: these are all legitimate meals to the British male. Vegetables? Yes, he loves them: on Sundays, at midday, over-boiled with some grey meat.
Again, more at the link.
What's the old saying about many a true word being spoken in jest? Even though I'm of colonial origin, Miss D. heartily agreed with many of the comments about British men, particularly those concerning the British diet (although she concedes that I've learned to cook rather better than that in our four years of marriage). She looks forward to further improvement!
There's a very interesting Finnish documentary about Petri Luukkainen, a Helsinki documentary maker who literally gave up everything he owned in an attempt to find out what he really couldn't do without. For the next year he lived according to four rules:
- He would conduct the experiment for a full year.
- Everything he owned went into storage.
- He allowed himself to take out of storage no more than one item per day.
- He didn't allow himself to buy anything except food and consumables.
The result is a movie called 'My Stuff'. Initially released in Finnish under the title 'Tavarataivas' in 2013, it's just been re-released for the world market. Here's a preview with English sub-titles.
The Telegraph says of the movie:
The film ... begins with the 29-year-old naked in his empty Helsinki flat. From there he runs across icy streets to the depot where his belongings are stored, the first of which he takes being a long coat - preserving his modesty and providing a makeshift sleeping bag for the first night. On the second day he takes shoes, on the third a blanket and on the fourth jeans.
Half way through the year he falls in love, leading to a dilemma over whether he should replace his new girlfriend’s fridge – another rule of the project is that he’s not allowed to buy anything new – or to fix it at greater expense. Later, Luukkainen’s grandmother is taken ill and has to move into a care home, meaning he has to go to her old flat to sort through her stuff. The events provide the documentary with such a satisfying narrative that some critics have suggested the film is semi-scripted, though Luukkainen insists it is all real.
The conclusion he comes to at the end of the year is probably what he suspected at the beginning: that possession is a responsibility and "stuff" is a burden. He does, however, provide a couple of figures which may be of help for anyone thinking about decluttering. Luukkainen found he could get by with 100 things (including swimming trunks, trainers, a debit card and a phone) but needed 200 to live with some “joy and comfort” (a third spoon, an electric kettle and a painting).
. . .
Whatever the seriousness of the problem, the international interest in the film suggests it is one many of us in the West face, and Luukkainen says he has been contacted by people across Europe who have been inspired to take on similar experiments. “I’d love to be part of a movement but I’m not sure My Stuff is,” he says. “All I want to do is get people to think about what they have and what they need, because it’s not something I thought about at all before I did this film.”
There's more at the link.
That sounds like it might be an interestingly quirky film. I'll be looking for it.
Friday, March 28, 2014
The word 'hero' is grossly over-used today, and has become degraded as a result. Nevertheless, there is still true heroism in the world. Jeremiah Denton possessed it in full measure. The Los Angeles Times reported in his obituary today:
Jeremiah Denton, the downed Navy pilot who was paraded before television cameras by the Viet Cong and confirmed U.S. suspicions of prisoner maltreatment during the Vietnam War by blinking out the word "torture" in Morse code, has died. He was 89.
. . .
With leg injuries he suffered after ejecting from his stricken plane, Denton was dragged from a muddy riverbank by Viet Cong soldiers. It was the start of an unrelenting ordeal that would become especially painful with each of Denton's many refusals to comply with his captors' demands.
He was held in isolation for lengthy periods totaling about four years. At points, he was in a pitch-black cell, a cramped hole crawling with rats and roaches. His beatings opened wounds that festered in pools of sewage. Frustrated that Denton would not confess to alleged American war crimes or reveal even basic details of U.S. military operations, jailers subjected him to horrific abuse.
At the start of one three-day torture session, guards tied his arms behind his back so tightly his elbows touched, he wrote in his memoir.
"Agonizing pain began to flow … as my heart struggled to pump blood through the strangled veins," he wrote. Meanwhile, his tormentors cuffed a cement-filled, 9-foot-long iron bar across his ankles, repeatedly jumped on it, lifted Denton by his manacled arms and, for hours, dragged his lower body across the floor.
Taking command of fellow POWs he usually could not see, Denton fashioned a secret prison communication system using the sound of coughs, hacks, scratching, spitting and throat-clearing keyed to letters of the alphabet.
He ordered resistance, regardless of pain.
"When you think you've reached the limit of your endurance, give them harmless and inaccurate information that you can remember, and repeat it if tortured again," he told his men. "We will die before we give them classified military information."
Thinking they'd broken him, Denton's captors allowed a Japanese TV reporter to interview him on May 2, 1966.
"The blinding floodlights made me blink and suddenly I realized that they were playing right into my hands," he wrote. "I looked directly into the camera and blinked my eyes once, slowly, then three more times, slowly. A dash and three more dashes. A quick blink, slow blink, quick blink … ."
While his impromptu blinks silently told the world that prisoners were being tortured, he was unabashed in the interview, which was later broadcast around the world, in his denial of American wrongdoing.
"Whatever the position of my government is, I believe in it — yes, sir," he said. "I'm a member of that government and it is my job to support it, and I will as long as I live."
Denton was tortured afterward.
There's more at the link. His book, 'When Hell Was In Session', is highly recommended reading.
Here's a video clip of the TV interview in which then-Commander Denton blinked out the word 'TORTURE'.
We can ill afford to lose men of such character and courage. May he rest in peace.
Received by e-mail from at least half a dozen readers yesterday and today, original source unknown:
- I'm not saying let's go kill all the stupid people. I'm just saying let's remove all the warning labels and let the problem work itself out.
- I changed my car horn to gun shot sounds. People move out of the way much faster now.
- You can tell a lot about a woman's mood just by her hands. If they are holding a gun, she's probably angry.
- Gone are the days when girls used to cook like their mothers. Now they drink like their fathers.
- You know that tingly little feeling you get when you really like someone? That's common sense leaving your body.
- I don't like making plans for the day because then the word "premeditated" gets thrown around in the courtroom.
- I didn't make it to the gym again today. That makes five years in a row.
- I decided to change calling the bathroom the 'John' and renamed it the 'Jim'. I feel so much better saying I went to the Jim this morning.
- Dear paranoid people who check behind shower curtains for murderers: if you find one, what's your plan?
From Og, our favorite Neanderpundit, who confesses:
My flaws are of course numerous and extensive; the four horsemen of the apocalypse and indeed the nazgul are terrified of the skeletons in my closet, lord forbid that it ever be opened.
Uh . . . yeah. I seem to recall a few like that, too . . .
Thursday, March 27, 2014
We've mentioned the Diagram Prize before in these pages, looking at its annual winners. It's awarded for the oddest book titles of the year. The latest round has just ended.
How to Poo on a Date has won the 36th annual Diagram Prize for Oddest Book Title of the Year.
The book, by Mats & Enzo, published by Prion Press, topped a public vote to find the oddest title, in one of the closest contests in prize history. In the end, How to Poo on a Date: The Lovers' Guide to Toilet Etiquette, took home the title with 30% of the vote, beating into second place Are Trout South African? by Duncan Brown (Pan South Africa) and The Origin of Feces by David Waltner-Toews (ECW Press), which both captured 23% of voters.
. . .
Horace Bent, The Bookseller’s diarist and the custodian of the prize, said: “The public have chosen wisely. Not only have they picked a title that truly captures the spirit of the prize, they have selected a manual that can help one through life’s more challenging and delicate moments.”
There's more at the link.
Frankly, I can't recall that I had any particular problems with that sort of thing during dates . . . but maybe Africa is a more understanding environment for that sort of thing!
In sadly related news, the man behind the Diagram Prize has just died. The Telegraph reports:
Bruce Robertson , who has died aged 79, was managing director of the book design and artwork partnership Diagram and founder of the Diagram Prize for the Oddest Book Title, an award presented annually by The Bookseller magazine.
Robertson and his business partner Trevor Bounford dreamed up the award in 1978 to avoid boredom at the annual Frankfurt Book Fair. The first award went to Proceedings Of The Second International Workshop On Nude Mice. Other winners over the years have included How to Avoid Huge Ships; Goblinproofing One’s Chicken Coop; and Managing a Dental Practice the Genghis Khan Way.
The Diagram Prize (which earns the winner a passable bottle of claret and — possibly — a boost in sales) is unique in that spotters and judges do not actually have to read the books in question. Indeed, they are actively discouraged from doing so, in case a close knowledge of the subject leads them to conclude that the titles are less odd than they first appear.
. . .
With his shaggy beard, Union flag ties and black beret, Robertson cut a colourful figure on the book fair scene.
There's more at the link. Thanks, Mr. Robertson, for putting a smile on many avid readers' faces, including my own.
We've already noted how the NSA spying scandal is hitting the bottom lines of US technology companies to the tune of billions of dollars in lost sales. Earlier this week we noted that the NSA has spied on Huawei and other Chinese technology companies in the same way that the latter were reputed to be doing to US companies - a classic case of 'the pot calling the kettle black'.
Now MIT's Technology Review reviews the situation and points out how both sides have been damaged by these revelations.
How’s this for a tough sales job? The American sales reps of Huawei offer top-notch telecom gear at a 35 percent discount. But anytime they get near to closing a sale, their customers get a visit from the FBI or the U.S. Department of Commerce.
The message from the feds isn’t subtle: buy something else.
. . .
The irony now is that leaked National Security Agency documents suggest the U.S. was doing everything it suspected China of. The documents indicate that the U.S. may have compromised routers from Cisco, Juniper, and Huawei. It’s also believed to have weakened encryption products so the ciphers used by commercial software could be broken.
The companies named in those leaks all deny knowing of the backdoors. All say they are investigating. But the loss of trust is hurting U.S. companies. In December, Cisco said the allegations caused a significant drop in sales in China. “It’s causing people to stop and then rethink decisions,” Robert Lloyd, Cisco’s president of development and sales, told investors. IBM’s hardware sales in China plunged 40 percent in the financial quarter following the leaks.
Huawei can feel vindicated, but only to a degree. Its sales haven’t picked up in the U.S. “There’s a universal lack of trust, and now we have a pretty obvious proof point of that,” says William Plummer, Huawei’s vice president for external relations in Washington, D.C. As it turns out, everyone’s gear is vulnerable. “We’ve been saying that for years,” says Plummer.
. . .
But the bigger fallout may be a rise in protectionism. “It’s been mostly open competition since the beginning of the Internet, and the companies that did well are the ones that won the competitions,” says Lewis. Now, with escalating security worries, countries may take the chance to stack the deck against foreign competitors or build up their own industries.
There's more at the link. Worthwhile reading.
I'll be particularly interested to see whether or not the article's prediction comes to pass that countries may seek to 'build up their own industries'. With sufficient determination and money, this is certainly feasible. I was involved to some extent in South Africa's arms industry during the 1980's, when it was laboring under the impact of a mandatory UN arms embargo and crippling economic sanctions. Despite those burdens, the industry succeeded in producing many items of world-class equipment, some of which have now been further developed to take their place in the armed forces of major powers (including the USA). If South Africa could accomplish so much under such dire circumstances, I'm willing to bet any reasonably advanced economy could do the same in the communications technology field, particularly in co-operation with other like-minded nations.
There are several noteworthy milestones to note tonight. Follow the links for more information.
In terms of our general economic malaise:
- US spot foodstuff prices have so far risen 19% in 2014. That's right - 19%. As Zero Hedge put it: "...what happens when pent-up demand (from a frosty east coast emerging from its hibernation) bumps up against a drought-stricken west coast unable to plant to meet that demand?" And I'd like to know what this is going to do to the rate of inflation this year. Oh, yes - silly me. The government doesn't include food prices in its inflation calculations. Therefore, if you find you can't afford to buy as much food as usual, that's not inflation - just your imagination.
- Open Books has calculated that US corporations received well over a trillion dollars from the US government - possibly closer to two trillion - during the past decade or more. They called it 'a corporate welfare state'. Much of it was in the form of subsidies, grants and tax concessions - 'crony capitalism' at its finest. Yet another reason why the US budget deficit is so enormous.
- Wal-Mart has revealed (perhaps inadvertently) that reductions in the food stamp program and other welfare payments will directly impact its bottom line. Interesting to note how a major company is actually dependent on the welfare system to make a profit. That seems like yet another fertile breeding ground for crony capitalism, if you ask me . . .
- Yield premiums for US distressed or high-risk debt - what used to be called 'junk bonds' and similar investments - have risen to a five-year high. In other words, there are fewer buyers for such debt, making it much more difficult to 'roll it over' by renewing it or replacing it with new debt. Those investors that are still in the market are much more cautious, demanding a better return on their investment - in effect, a higher interest rate - to offset their risk exposure. Zero Hedge calls this another 'canary in the coal mine' indicator of the health of the US economy as a whole. I agree.
- As an adjunct to the point above, the Sovereign Man blog notes that the USA is "now spending 26% of available tax revenue just to pay interest" on the Federal Government's debt. As bond rates increase, that will go up . . . and the prospect of default will loom ever larger, making US debt even more high-risk and driving away prospective buyers. It's a vicious circle, and it's happened before - the article provides examples.
- Pending sales of existing homes in the USA have declined for the eighth consecutive month. So much for the 'recovery' in the housing market.
- China has just experienced a 3-day run on the banks in one rural constituency. It's been contained - for now - but I have little doubt it'll be the first of many as that country's credit crunch tightens.
Apart from general economic news, with Tax Day approaching there's a lot of discussion about our broken tax system.
- Zero Hedge offers a list of 97 taxes Americans pay every year. It notes: "Our politicians have become extremely creative in finding ways to extract money from all of us, and most Americans don't even realize what is being done to them. By the time it is all said and done, a significant portion of the population ends up paying more than half of what they earn to the government. That is fundamentally wrong, but nothing will be done about it until people start demanding change."
- The Economic Collapse Blog lists '24 Outrageous Facts About Taxes In The United States That Will Blow Your Mind'. They certainly blew mine!
Finally - and of very great interest considering the monstrosity that is Obamacare - the Fiscal Times reports that "there’s an increasing trend in the industry toward cutting insurance companies out of the process entirely, as large, regional hospital systems move into the insurance business". This is a noteworthy development. If such institutions can cut out the middlemen who currently consume as much as one-quarter to one-third of all medical expenditure in the form of administrative overhead, it should make medical care considerably more affordable for most of us. Of course, it'll also have a very detrimental impact on those who depend on the current medical insurance system for their livelihood. I'm going to watch this one closely.
. . . courtesy of a pelican! The orphaned young bird was rescued in Tanzania, and a miniature camera was attached above its beak to record its experiences as it learned to fly. Here's the result. (I recommend watching it in full-screen mode.)
That's definitely a different perspective on flight! Here's the blog entry about it from Greystoke Mahale camp, which rescued the young bird and arranged everything that followed.
Wednesday, March 26, 2014
I've featured 'Barcelona' by Freddie Mercury and Montserrat Caballé at least once before, but it's such a wonderful song that I can't resist putting it up again. (I was inspired to do so by yesterday's a capella rendering of another Freddie Mercury number, 'Fat Bottomed Girls'.) Here's the original public performance of 'Barcelona' at the Ku Club on Ibiza in 1987.
It's still magical.
Here's an interesting exercise for those who care about personal liberty, constitutional rights and freedoms and privileges, etc.
First, Wallethub has just released a very interesting study titled 'States Most & Least Dependent on the Federal Government'. It examines how much each state contributes (via taxation) to the Federal government, how much it gets back in various subsidies, grants, etc., and calculates how dependent that state is on the central government for its fiscal health and survival. It shows clearly that many states with very low or non-existent personal taxes are more dependent on Federal funds to make up their budgetary shortfall - not necessarily a desirable thing, as it means they're much less capable of resisting pressure from the Feds to take certain actions, even if their people don't want it.
Second, we've looked before at the Mercatus Center's annual ranking of 'Freedom in the 50 States'. I personally rate this a very important assessment of whether or not a state is a good place to live. One reason I was willing to move to Tennessee with my wife was that it was solidly ranked among the top or 'most free' states in the Union.
However, today I decided to compare the degree of freedom of a few states with their financial dependency on the central government. Surprise, surprise! Many of the 'most free' states are also among the most dependent on the Federal government, precisely because their higher level of freedom includes minimal taxation on their residents. To make up for that, they accept greater subsidies from the Feds - and therefore expose themselves to much greater pressure to conform to Federal government policies and politics. Similarly, some of the 'less free' states are actually among the least dependent on the Federal government, because they tax their citizens more heavily, thereby lessening their exposure to financial - and hence political - pressure from the central government.
It's an interesting conundrum. I guess it's yet another example of the old proverb that "You can't have your cake and eat it". Want more freedom? Be more dependent on subsidies. Want greater financial independence? Accept a higher local tax burden, with its concomitant reduction in personal freedom.
What say you, readers? Any thoughts on the matter? Is it better to accept higher local taxation in order to be less exposed to political pressure from Big Brother? Or is it better to keep local taxes to a minimum, which means either cutting back on the role, functions and size of state and local governments, or accepting Federal funding to maintain them?
An e-mail from a friend in Africa a few days ago reminded me about Norman Borlaug, and was reinforced by a mention at Instapundit today.
Most people don't know his name - but more than a billion of them are alive only because he lived, and spearheaded what's become known as the 'Green Revolution'. Michigan Capitol Confidential said of him a couple of years ago:
Called "arguably the greatest American in the 20th century," during his 95 years, Norman Borlaug probably saved more lives than any other person.
He is one of just six people to win the Nobel Peace Prize, the Congressional Gold Medal and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. And yet Borlaug, who died three years ago today, is scarcely known in his own country.
Born in Iowa in 1914, Borlaug spent most of his life in impoverished nations inventing, improving and teaching the "Green Revolution." His idea was simple: Make developing countries self sufficient in food by teaching them how to use modern agricultural techniques that are easy to implement. Borlaug spent most of his time in Mexico, Pakistan and India, and focused on five areas: crop cultivars (seeds), irrigation, fertilizers, pesticides and mechanization. His successes were remarkable.
In 1950, Mexico imported over half of its food. Thanks to Borlaug's efforts to convince farmers there to try his techniques, Mexican food production increased 10-fold by 1970, and the country had become a net exporter. In India and Pakistan, production doubled. In 1999, the Atlantic Monthly estimated that Borlaug's efforts, combined with those he trained and equipped, saved the lives of 1 billion human beings.
. . .
No good deed goes unpunished, so we shouldn't be surprised that Borlaug was attacked by proponents of the trendy new faith of radical environmentalism because Green Revolution farming requires some pesticide and lots of fertilizer. Gregg Easterbrook quotes Borlaug saying the following in the 1990s:
"(Most Western environmentalists) have never experienced the physical sensation of hunger. They do their lobbying from comfortable office suites in Washington or Brussels. If they lived just one month amid the misery of the developing world, as I have for 50 years, they'd be crying out for tractors and fertilizer and irrigation canals and be outraged that fashionable elitists in wealthy nations were trying to deny them these things."
Borlaug was correct: "Environmentalists" and their allies pressured the Ford and Rockefeller Foundations, the World Bank and Western governments to drop funding and support for the great humanitarian as he was trying to expand his efforts into Africa. As a result, it is no surprise that the continent is doing the poorest at feeding its people.
. . .
More than 40 years ago Borlaug wrote, "One of the greatest threats to mankind today is that the world may be choked by an explosively pervading but well camouflaged bureaucracy."
Some things never change.
There's more at the link.
I'm particularly aware of Mr. Borlaug's contribution to the world thanks to my humanitarian work in Africa over many years. I was outraged at environmentalists who deliberately, cynically and callously did everything in their power to stop Africa from applying his 'Green Revolution' to its own farming practices. As a result, tens of millions of Africans died of starvation during the 1980's and 1990's who would probably still be alive if his techniques and hybrid seeds had been imported and applied. The deaths of these people I lay squarely at the feet of environmentalists who actually preferred to see them die rather than allow the spread of ideas that they opposed for ideological reasons. I've never forgiven many environmental movements and organizations for that.
I, for one, remember Mr. Borlaug with great appreciation and thankfulness. I wish there had been, and still were, more like him.
Tuesday, March 25, 2014
Courtesy of Wired Right (and an e-mail from a friend to alert me to it), here's a splendid (and funny) rendition of Queen's 'Fat Bottomed Girls' in a decidely non-rock style.
Looks like a very good time was had by all! I wonder what their wives and girlfriends had to say to them when they got off the stage?
Today's award goes to the Business Software Alliance.
The Business Software Alliance -- a proprietary software industry group -- has pulled a controversial ad that promised cash to people who snitched on friends and employers who used pirated software, after they were credibly accused of pirating the image used in the campaign.
There's more at the link.
Talk about sending the wrong signal . . . !
An e-mail today drew my attention to the fact that World War II aircraft bomb sights are available on eBay - something of which I hadn't been aware. For example, here's an example of the famous Norden bomb sight:
And here's the contemporary Sperry bomb sight:
(Click either image to be taken to its eBay auction page.)
I'm amazed to discover that these technological treasures are still so freely available. I can't afford one, but at least I can be glad for those who can!
Apropos of our earlier discussions about jobs, take a look at this video clip from ABB Robotics. It shows the 10 most popular uses for robots in industry.
It's one of many videos from ABB Robotics on YouTube, showing many different applications for these mechanical thingumajigs.
Now look at it this way. Every single job shown above, and almost all of the ones illustrated in the company's other videos, were not so long ago performed by human beings. All of those jobs no longer exist . . . for people.
They won't be coming back.
What does that say about the future of ever more jobs of a similar nature? It's no wonder the auto workers unions and similar organizations are worried. Most of their members are going to be out of a job in their traditional fields before many more years have passed. Take a look at these articles:
- Will Robots Steal Your Job? You're highly educated. You make a lot of money. You should still be afraid.
- Foxconn begins replacing workers with robots
- The Robot Reality: Service Jobs Are Next to Go
- The Rise of Robots – and Decline of Jobs – Is Here
- 5 Jobs Where Robots Will Replace Humans
- Carmakers deploy more robots as job loss fears gain ground
I know people have been 'scare-mongering' for decades about the dangers of automation to human jobs. It's no longer scare-mongering - it's already here. China, whose population depends for employment on that country's status as the largest manufacturer of consumer goods in the world, is no exception - its own factories are beginning to replace even low-wage assembly workers with robots, promising a social revolution. In India, as one commentator points out, "Fifteen machines would have needed 15 operators a few years ago ... Now, one man can run 10 machines."
If you have kids who are entering or will soon be entering the job market, they need to understand the implications of this revolution. What Mike Rowe refers to as 'dirty jobs' will still be there, and be well-paid, because they've got to be done and it's not worth the capital investment to create robots to do them. Creative, inventive occupations for the self-employed will also be there (including writing, thank Heaven!). However, many occupations popular today - including computer programming, delivery of basic health care (even extending to some surgical procedures), tax preparation, and so on - are already in decline for humans as robots and intelligent computer systems take over.
Monday, March 24, 2014
Twenty-five years ago today, on March 24th, 1989, the Exxon Valdez ran aground in Prince William Sound, Alaska, spilling between one-quarter and three-quarters of a million barrels of oil into the pristine waters and, in due course, onto the hitherto unspoiled coastline.
It was the worst tanker oil spill disaster in US history, surpassed in extent only by the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe of 2010 in the Gulf of Mexico. Alaskans are still bitter about Exxon's response, even those living far from Prince William Sound. They've never forgotten nor forgiven.
Pray God it never happens again.
The US mass media seems to be engaged in a deliberate policy of ignoring events in Venezuela. That nation is in a crisis that's the next best thing to a national revolution. Thousands of people have been detained, hundreds are dead - yet we hear little or nothing about it from US news sources. Consider this video report. (I apologize for the dramatic soundtrack, but it's basically a propaganda presentation, and the presenters tried to maximize that aspect.)
Those events took place on Saturday, two days ago. How much of them did you see on US television news? How much was reported in US print media? Not a lot, and nothing much, respectively.
Part of the problem is the uncritical adulation lavished upon the late President Chavez by progressive and far-left activists such as Sean Penn, Harry Belafonte and others. They basically ignored his wholesale violations of human rights. Those same individuals are on President Obama's team here in the USA, and their views carry weight with such partisan sources as Media Matters and similar organizations. I'm sure part of the lack of US media coverage of the Venezuelan crisis is a deliberate decision to promote left-wing interests and play down anything that might appear to tarnish or threaten those interests.
Another part of the problem is that the crisis is far more complex than it appears on the surface. At least some of the resistance to the late President Chavez and his successor, President Maduro, is from oligarchs and others who have lost much of their political influence under left-wing governments, and unabashedly want it back. Whether or not they'd be any better than the current government is impossible to tell - they probably wouldn't - but under the present system of anti-democratic populism, there's no way to find out. Since they no longer have any democratic way to power, they've resorted to unrest and disruption as political weapons. Unsurprisingly, they've had some success.
Ultimately, I think it boils down to a reluctance to challenge 'bully-boy' political tactics in Venezuela because the same criticisms might be leveled at the Obama administration. Venezuelan government departments and agents have been co-opted to target opposition figures - just as the IRS now appears to be doing the same at the behest of the Obama administration. Chavez and Maduro have armed and trained civilian militias and trades unions to support their cause - just as President Obama called for a greatly expanded civilian national security force before his election. The key words in his appeal were:
We cannot continue to rely only on our military in order to achieve the national security objectives that we’ve set. We’ve got to have a civilian national security force that’s just as powerful, just as strong, just as well-funded.
Liberal and progressive elements have decried any attempt to paint those words as meaning some sort of pro-government militia . . . but their own allies are making it easy to draw such conclusions. For example, Chavez sought to mobilize unions in his support, just as President Obama has done here. Jimmy Hoffa said at a rally for President Obama in 2011:
“We got to keep an eye on the battle that we face: The war on workers. And you see it everywhere, it is the Tea Party. And you know, there is only one way to beat and win that war. The one thing about working people is we like a good fight. And you know what? They’ve got a war, they got a war with us and there’s only going to be one winner. It’s going to be the workers of Michigan, and America. We’re going to win that war,” Hoffa told thousands of workers gathered for the annual Labor Day rally.
“President Obama, this is your army. We are ready to march… Everybody here’s got a vote…Let’s take these sons of bitches out and give America back to an America where we belong,” he concluded.
I'm sure the Obama-administration-supporting media doesn't want Americans to be reminded of those words . . . or to see how some union supporters of President Maduro in Venezuela are among those violently suppressing protests.
I see far too many parallels between events in Venezuela and potential events in the USA to be comfortable about them. I suspect the US media don't want us to think along those lines - hence their lack of coverage of the crisis there. YMMV, of course . . .
I note with some bemusement that German police have intercepted a shipment of cocaine-filled condoms destined for an unnamed recipient at the Vatican.
This was clearly a very stupid idea on the part of the person who shipped them, hoping they wouldn't stand out or be noticed.
I mean, priests aren't exactly known for practicing safe sex, are they?
This image is doing the rounds and going viral.
It's said to have been taken aboard a Russian submarine, although judging by the bird droppings on the tail fin and deck, the sub hasn't been to sea in a while. Be that as it may, it didn't take long for someone to do a LOLcat (LOLwalrus?) treatment of the picture.
Of course, this isn't the first time we've seen critters on submarines. There was that rogue SEAL team a few years ago . . .
Sunday, March 23, 2014
There's plenty to report from the blogosphere over the last week or so.
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I was intrigued to learn that there may be a rational explanation for the old saying, "Mad as a lighthouse keeper". I'd heard it before in South Africa, and I know it was common in 19th-century England, but now it seems that loneliness and isolation - traditionally blamed for the condition - may not be to blame. Instead, there may be a medical reason. The Old Salt Blog has the details.
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Captain Capitalism points out that we bloggers are in the Truth Industry, in comparison to the eight groups of people to whom we owe our success. It's an interesting theory, and I think he has a point.
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The Hawsepiper brings us some giggleworthy images, including this one that had me spitting coffee on my keyboard.
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Heidi Roizen shares what she learned negotiating with Steve Jobs. It's a story of a collision between very different value systems - but how she 'got to Yes', as they say in the business books, is an interesting story, with lessons for all of us.
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Laura tells us of the trials and tribulations - and joys - of trying to raise a hyper-energetic puppy, which she blames for light blogging recently. She links to this video, which conveys the same lessons. Both links will be of interest to dog-lovers.
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Enola Gay informs me of the existence of a military creature I'd never encountered before - Apocalypse Barbie. Some examples:
You Might be Apocalypse Barbie if.....
- You've ever uttered the words "Does this plate carrier make my butt look fat?"
- You have combat boot in multiple patterns and colors.
- You've ever received body armor for Christmas... and were excited.
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XBradTC reports on one particular problem with naval officer retention and the lesson it holds for other branches of the armed forces. His article resonated with me: it summed up the difference between rear-echelon and administrative personnel (who get promoted based on the number of paper cuts they incur) and those in operational areas, who 'see the elephant' and consequently discard bureaucratic bumpf and administrative red tape to concentrate on what's essential to accomplishing the mission. Looks like it's a never-ending process that has to be repeated with each new generation of leaders . . .
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Glenn B. brings us a classic example of bureaucratic overreach, illustrating the 'us-versus-them' mentality of so many cretins who weasel their way into a position of administrative authority. As a South African comedy show put it some years ago, "It's the progression from 'I am, Sir, your obedient servant' to 'You are, mate, my obedient slave'!"
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An Ordinary American puts forward the position that the civil rights of child molesters have been revoked by the very nature of their crime, and provides a graphic example of how he and others handled one such problem in their neighborhood. I can't say I disagree with him - I helped deal with a predatory situation in my own neighborhood some years ago, in a similarly direct fashion. It works.
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JayG points out that GM's recall of one-and-a-half million vehicles is yet another black mark on the company's very spotty record. He sums up:
This was a company that was "too big to fail", so we threw several billion dollars of taxpayer money at them. And the end result is that they went back to the same tired way of doing things that had them on the brink of insolvency.
Then again, when you remove all penalties for underperforming, why change?
Word. I've already made clear my own position on GM and its vehicles. I've seen no reason to alter that position since 2009.
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I never thought - I'd never have believed! - that I'd see a blog article with this headline:
I was wrong.
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Warren Meyer has two good articles this week. In the first, he laments the ever-increasing burden of trying to keep pace with ever-growing government regulation.
At some point regulation will accrete so fast that it will be impossible to keep up. I am going to call that the Regulation Singularity, and for businesses my size, we are fast approaching it.
In the second, he makes some valuable points about compelled testimony, and why it's not necessarily a good idea - even for Congressional committees.
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Warren Meyer cites the Popehat legal blog as a reference in the second article linked above. One of the contributors there, Ken White, put up a very trenchant reminder this week that one should never, repeat, never talk to law enforcement without the advice and assistance of a lawyer. He sums up:
It's now routine for federal agents to close out an investigation with a false-statement-trap interview of a target in an effort to add a Section 1001 cherry to the top of the cake.
The lesson — other than that criminal justice often has little to do with actual justice — is this: for God's sake shut up. Law enforcement agents seeking to interview you are not your friends. You cannot count on "just clearing this one thing up." Demand to talk to a lawyer before talking to the cops. Every time.
He's dead right. As a prison chaplain, I came across more than one business executive who was behind bars solely - and I do mean solely - because he contradicted himself in one or more statements to federal authorities, and as a result was in due course convicted of lying to them, and sentenced to a term of imprisonment. Ken isn't exaggerating. Believe him.
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Al Fin points out that NASA has once again 'abandoned space and embraced global collapse'. He cites numerous examples of how the agency has followed this path before under previous Administrations. It's a useful reminder that just because a government agency says so, doesn't mean that it is so.
(This is reinforced by Mr. B., who brings us a very interesting video clip purporting to show how the global warming scare began. It ties in nicely with Al Fin's article.)
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Glenn B. has a very funny video on ways (not) to grip your pistol. Gangbangers of the world, unite! You have nothing to lose but your aim!
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Jane of Virginia offers 'An Indictment of the Churches'. It must have been a difficult article for her to write. I've run into several of the situations she describes, and they're very distressing indeed to those looking for support. I only hope (and pray!) that I've never been like some of the pastors she describes.
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Random Nuclear Strikes points out that modern education has "created a class of people who would rather have free stuff than freewill". It's hard to argue with him . . .
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Country Rebel reminds us that there really was a time when it was legal to mail your children to another city. I did not know that!
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Last but not least, Greylocke explains to us why teachers drink.
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That's all for this week. More soon!