Tuesday, July 31, 2018

"A lot of frustrated people are talking really loud past each other"

The title of this post is a quote from an extended interview between Mike Rowe, of "Dirty Jobs" fame, and Ben Shapiro last weekend.  I'll embed the full interview below, but here's the exchange that included that comment.

SHAPIRO:  As the country sort of polarizes between the folks who are in the entertainment sphere or the journalism sphere or the sort of "high IQ" is how they would term themselves sphere, and the people who are actually working the jobs that are actually getting things done across the country, that's a voice that seems to have been lost a lot. Do you think that's a really serious gap, and do think that's a bridgeable gap? Or is that gap, sort of, between the people who deem themselves to be smart and the people who deem themselves to be doing the jobs that matter, is that destined to sort of increase as time goes on here?

ROWE:  Well, there's always been a gap – sometimes it's wide, sometimes it's less wide. And we all fall in love with the romantic version of ourselves, right? Whether you're a journalist, whether you're an actor – whatever it is you think you are, and whoever it is you think you are, you become the sun in your own solar system. So everything else is just a planet in orbit, right?

So, I think, with regard to the skills gap, and [with] regard to really any gap, it's all just symptomatic of a series of what I would call "disconnects." We've become slowly and inexorably and profoundly disconnected from a lot of very basic things that, when I grew up, I was really connected to – like where my food comes from, where my energy comes from, basic history, basic curiosity, you know? The things that fundamentally allow us to assume a level of appreciation that, in my view, is the best way to bridge those gaps – if we don't have appreciation...

If we're not blown away by the miracle that occurs when we flick the switch and the lights come on; if we're not gobsmacked by flushing the toilet and seeing all of it go away; when we start losing our appreciation for those things, the gap deepens. And I think the gap right now is extraordinary.

There [are] 6.3 million jobs that are available as we speak. We have 75% of those jobs that don't require a four-year degree and yet we're still pushing the four-year degree as the best path for the most people, and it just happens to be the most expensive path. And a lot of people ... have enough common sense to realize that $1.5 trillion in outstanding student loans is a version of lending money we don't have to kids who can't pay it back to train for jobs that don't exist anymore, and that's crazy.

So, you know, I think there's great common sense that is still alive and well in a lot of people, and I think that as they look at the headlines, they're frustrated. And, to be fair, I think people on the coasts are coming at it from their own bias, and they're frustrated. So, a lot of frustrated people are talking really loud past each other and a lot of truths are inconvenient for a lot of people, and so it just gets noisy – which is a long way of saying no, I don't think that gap will ever close.

Words of wisdom, IMHO.  I don't know whether we can bridge that gap, but if we can't, it bodes ill for our future as a nation.

Here's the full interview.  It's an hour long, but I think it's worth watching, if you can spare the time.


"Correlation does not imply causation", but when it comes to bedbugs . . .

One of the most frequently heard observations about statistics is that "Correlation does not imply causation" - in other words, that just because two observations are observed simultaneously, it doesn't necessarily mean that one is caused by the other.  Nevertheless, sufficiently high degrees of correlation do make one wonder.

In that light, Orkin's latest "Top 50 Bed Bug Cities List" made me wonder.

For the second year in a row, Baltimore tops Orkin’s Top 50 Bed Bug Cities list, released today. New York fell four spots, while Dallas-Fort Worth joined the top 10. San Diego and Albany rejoin the list, after falling out of the top 50 in 2017, and New Orleans and Flint, Mich. join the list for the first time ever. Orlando has fallen off the list despite public lawsuits from hotel guests.

The list is based on treatment data from the metro areas where Orkin performed the most bed bug treatments from December 1, 2016 – November 30, 2017. The ranking includes both residential and commercial treatments.

There's more at the link.

I took the top 50 list, and correlated it with the party that controls or administers the city concerned.  Here's what I found.

  1. Baltimore - Democrat
  2. Washington, D.C. - Democrat
  3. Chicago - Democrat
  4. Los Angeles (+2) - Democrat
  5. Columbus, Ohio - Democrat
  6. Cincinnati (+2) - Democrat
  7. Detroit - Democrat
  8. New York (-4) - Democrat
  9. San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose - Democrat
  10. Dallas-Fort Worth (+5) - Dallas is Democrat, Fort Worth is Republican
  11. Indianapolis - Democrat
  12. Philadelphia - Democrat
  13. Atlanta (+3) - Democrat
  14. Cleveland-Akron-Canton, Ohio (-1) - Democrat
  15. Raleigh-Durham, N.C. (-3) - Democrat
  16. Richmond-Petersburg, Va. (-5) - Democrat
  17. Houston - Democrat
  18. Norfolk-Portsmouth-Newport News, Va. (+2) - Democrat
  19. Charlotte, N.C. (-3) - Democrat
  20. Buffalo, N.Y. (-2) - Democrat
  21. Knoxville, Tenn. - Democrat
  22. Nashville, Tenn. (+1) - Democrat
  23. Grand Rapids-Kalamazoo-Battle Creek, Mich. (+4) - Democrat
  24. Pittsburgh - Democrat
  25. Greenville-Spartanburg, S.C.-Asheville, N.C. - Mixed Democrat and Republican
  26. Champaign-Springfield-Decatur, Ill. (+4) - Democrat
  27. Phoenix (-1) - Democrat
  28. Denver (-6) - Democrat
  29. Milwaukee - Democrat
  30. Hartford-New Haven, Conn. (+1) - Democrat
  31. Charleston-Huntington, W.Va. (+5) - Independent/Democrat
  32. Boston (-4) - Democrat
  33. Syracuse, N.Y. (+7) - Democrat
  34. Dayton, Ohio (-2) - Democrat
  35. St. Louis (+2) - Democrat
  36. Seattle (-2) - Democrat
  37. Miami-Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. (+9) - Democrat
  38. Flint-Saginaw-Bay City, M.I. (new to list) - Democrat
  39. Omaha, N.E. (-6) - Republican
  40. Cedar Rapids-Waterloo-Dubuque, Iowa (-2) - Republican
  41. San Diego (new to list) - Mixed Democrat and Republican
  42. Lexington, Ky. (+1) - Democrat
  43. Honolulu, Hawaii (+5) - Democrat
  44. Louisville, Ky. (-3) - Democrat
  45. Las Vegas (+4) - Democrat
  46. Greensboro-High Point-Winston Salem, N.C. (-4) - Democrat
  47. New Orleans (new to list) - Democrat
  48. Myrtle Beach-Florence, S.C. (-9) - Democrat
  49. Tampa-St. Petersburg, Fla. (-14) - Democrat
  50. Albany-Schenectady-Troy, N.Y. (new to list) - Democrat

Only six of the 50 are run by either Republicans, or mixed Democrat-Republican-Independent government.  That means 44 out of 50 are the responsibility of their Democratic Party-controlled local governments, with several more having shared responsibility.

They say that "Correlation does not equal causation", but . . .


The Catholic Church rams headlong into sexual sin yet again . . . and it still can't cope

I don't want to write this article.  My own pain over the situation within the Catholic Church, and particularly within its clergy, remains very, very deep.  Nevertheless, following comments from friends and acquaintances over the Cardinal McCarrick affair, I think I have to try to set out the current situation as I see it.  I hope I can shed some light on what's happening.  However, I can't offer a solution, because the Church is not going to change willingly.  It's marching to the beat of a different drummer, and it won't listen to any other.  That's potentially one of its greatest strengths, but also, at present, one of its greatest weaknesses.

As background to my perspective, please see the four articles I wrote in 2010 about my experiences within the Church over the clergy child sex abuse crisis, and my reactions to it.  The first article is here, and contains links to the others.  That will show you where I'm coming from.  Bear in mind that I have my own views on the situation, which will be different from others, who may disagree profoundly with what I have to say.  That's their right.  You'll have to make up your own mind.

Cardinal McCarrick's resignation is not unexpected.  The shocking thing is that it took so long to force him out.  He's been under suspicion of sexual misconduct as a clergyman and Bishop for a number of years, perhaps as many as two decades, or even longer.  Recent reports indicate that he was named as a likely offender in two previous inquiries "in the 2000's", in two of the dioceses he previously led - Metuchen and Newark, both in New Jersey.  How is it that he was not disciplined earlier?  It's all very well to argue that he had not been convicted of any crimes or moral offenses in a canonical court . . . but in that case, why did the Church regard the evidence of his offenses as sufficiently incriminating to pay damages to two of his "alleged" victims?  Why was he allowed to retain his rank as Cardinal, much less his episcopal and/or priestly status, in the light of that reality?  An "ordinary" priest would have been at least suspended from ministry, and possibly defrocked - i.e. laicized, losing his ordained status - for those offenses . . . but not, it seems, a Cardinal.

The answer, of course, is simple.  The Church wanted to protect itself.  It was more than willing to brush the inquiries under the carpet, keeping them out of the public eye, paying damages to the victims with the restriction that those who received them were bound to silence about the offenses for which they were paid.  At all costs, the image of the institutional Church had to be protected.  Those who didn't toe the line were criticized, pressurized, and vilified.  (Go read about national columnist Peggy Noonan's experiences in that regard, and her conclusions.)

That remains, I think, the overwhelming factor in the Church's reactions today.  At all costs, many (thankfully not all) Bishops, Archbishops and Cardinals will seek first and foremost to protect the institution that confers power, status and influence upon them.  They may try to rationalize it as being in response to Godless attacks on the Church of Christ by those who are anti-Christian.  Some of them, no doubt, actually believe that.  However, the reality is that they simply cannot conceive of any other response except to circle the wagons and fight off their critics.  Most of them truly believe that they, and they alone, as "successors to the Apostles", have a God-given mandate - and, of course, a God-given right - to preserve the Church and her teachings against the onslaught of the world, the flesh and the devil.  No-one else has such a mandate, or such a right, in their eyes:  therefore, their advice, suggestions and proposals are simply illegitimate.  Any attempt to criticize the Church and its approach to such scandals is fought off, while critics, no matter how sincere they may be, are demonized as "anti-Catholic", or something similar.

Such Bishops reinforce such attitudes (or, at least, did so in the past - I fear some still do today) by putting obstacles in the path of those who wished to report such offenses against morals.  An article in America magazine sheds light on the situation, and on the subtle and less-than-subtle conditioning that was (and in some cases still is) applied.  It's worth reading, if the subject interests you.

To my mind, the greatest tragedy of this situation is that the institutional Church appears to be utterly uninterested in harnessing the knowledge and expertise of modern science and business study.  The disciplines of Organizational Behavior and Organizational Development have grown up since the Second World War, and are today used by almost every business and institution to analyze their own behavior, growth, etc. and improve it where necessary.  I studied both at graduate level during my business career (winning an academic prize for them in the process), and found them very helpful.  They helped me analyze and understand what was going on in the Church as this crisis unfolded during the 1990's and 2000's.  However, whenever I or any other qualified person, clergy or laity, tried to offer insights derived from those disciplines, we were either ignored, or told (usually less than politely) to shut up.  We "didn't understand the situation".  We "didn't know the mind of the Church".  We "were ignoring the centuries of experience that the Church had gained, which would guide her in resolving this crisis".

Yeah.  Riiiiiight.

That's why many Bishops overwhelmingly staffed their diocesan commissions on the child sex abuse crisis with those they knew were loyal to the "old order", and either excluded, or speedily removed, those who held other views.  They didn't want to know about any approach other than that which the institutional Church had always employed.  Modern insights were suspect, because modern society had given rise to the problem, after all.  If only we'd all go back to the old morality, and everyone resumed their proper place in society, all would be well.

There's an old English jingle that sums it up nicely:

God bless the Squire and his relations,
And keep us in our proper stations.

That, I think, is how many Bishops - and many older priests - regarded (and some still regard) the people of God, the laity whose money pays for their churches and rectories and salaries and pensions.  "Shut up, pay your rightful dues, and let us run things as God wants us to."  It's like the Cardinal who's alleged to have replied to a Protestant questioner about the liturgy, during the Second Vatican Council, "Sir, you may worship God in your way.  However, we shall continue to worship Him in His."

Arrogance?  Or the invincible ignorance fallacy in action?  You be the judge.

Those are the same Bishops who lied to their priests about the nature and extent of the crisis;  who instructed their priests to lie to the people of God about the clergy child sex abuse scandal;  who told them to tell their people that the Bishops were dealing with the problem, and could be trusted to do so, even when the contrary was obvious;  and who demanded that those of us who knew better - who knew that all the measures the Bishops were implementing were nothing more than pious window-dressing, and said so to them - should be silent about that, and "get with the program", or face the loss of rights, pensions, and whatever else they could think of.

I was literally sick to my stomach with disgust and disbelief.  I could not understand - I still cannot understand - how the Church ever thought she could get away with that.  Of course, as history has shown, she could not - and the chickens of her neglect and farcical insularity are still coming home to roost.  Consider just 2018 so far:

If you really want to be nauseated by all the sordid details, see Bishop Accountability's list of "Bishops Accused of Sexual Abuse and Misconduct".  It's daunting.

Some Bishops are trying to address the situation in pastoral letters to their clergy and/or laity.  I'll cite two examples here.  The first is from Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger of the Diocese of Albany, NY (which I've visited as a priest).

Let me be clear ... in stating my firm conviction that this is, at heart, much more than a crisis of policies and procedures. We can – and I am confident that we will – strengthen the rules and regulations and sanctions against any trying to fly under the radar or to “get away with” such evil and destructive behaviors. But, at its heart, this is much more than a challenge of law enforcement; it is a profoundly spiritual crisis.

Blessed Pope Paul VI prophetically warned us in Humanae Vitae of the long-range consequences of the separation of sexuality and sexual behavior from the conjugal relationship. Contemporary culture in our part of the world now holds it normative that sex and sexual gratification between any consenting persons for any reason that their free wills allow is perfectly acceptable. This is not a sexuality befitting of human beings that responds to the need and true desire of every human person to be respected and loved fully and unconditionally.

All of us who are ordained to preach what the Church teaches must practice what we preach and teach. We also need to uphold what our faith proclaims about the gift and beauty of human sexuality, fully lived in its essential conjugal meaning. A culture of virtue and chastity – in short, personal holiness – rooted in a trusting and committed relationship with Jesus Christ is the path toward healing and wholeness, even as we seek to drive the evil behaviors among us from the womb of the Church.

There's more at the link.

To Bishop Scharfenberger I say this:  Bishop, you may be a good and holy pastor, but you're incredibly naive.  Yes, this is a spiritual crisis, but that's because the Church has not proclaimed and preached its dogma, doctrine and teaching with authority for decades.  When last did the average American parishioner hear a sermon about sexual morality, or abortion, or marriage and family life?  Everything's social justice, and immigration, and politics, and trendy touchy-feely subjects.  The great, classic liturgical hymns, focusing on God and His works, have long since been discarded for easy-to-sing melodies with politically correct lyrics.  "Kumbaya" has replaced "Kyrie".  Given that reality, when so many priests cannot and do not proclaim the truth, or do not (or are not permitted to) sanction those who turn aside from it and deliberately, publicly flout Church teaching . . .what else do you expect, literally, for God's sake?  And when priests are not taught those truths in seminary, but spend most of their time analyzing feelings instead of facts, and social justice instead of holiness, and living in the world instead of letting Christ live in them, and celibacy is honored more in the breach than in the observance by many of the very professors who teach them . . . and many Bishops did, and in many cases still do, nothing - NOTHING! - to stop that . . . why are you surprised at the ongoing scandals?

The second letter is from Bishop Michael F. Olson of the Diocese of Fort Worth.

The Catholic Diocese of Fort Worth and I have zero tolerance for sexual abuse against minors, as well as against vulnerable adults by its clergy, staff and volunteers, including me as bishop.  This is manifested both in our policies and in our actions.  During my nearly five years of serving as your bishop, I have always taken prompt action in removing priests, deacons, staff and volunteers when credible allegations of sexual abuse or misconduct have been established.  Our process has included transparently calling for victims, with due respect for protecting the identities of the victims.

Our seminarians, priests, deacons, and religious and lay staff are taught to recognize and to report boundary violations without fear of retribution, no matter the status of the perpetrator.

Again, more at the link.

I hope and pray that Bishop Olson speaks the truth, and that a vigorous program such as he outlines is, indeed, in place in his Diocese.  However, his is one diocese among 197 in the USA, and among thousands in the rest of the world.  As shown above, a number of them are, or have been, rather less stringent in their implementation of Catholic moral teaching.  I wish him every possible success in keeping his Diocese on the straight and narrow.  Sadly, it still leaves far too many people in other Dioceses out in the cold.  I have friends among them.  I hear from them how they're giving up going to church out of sheer disgust at the social justice agenda being forced upon them, to the detriment of the truths of the Faith.  They're keeping faith with God when his Church will not.  I weep for them - and that's not an exaggeration.

I was one of more than a few voices raised inside the institution of the Church, pointing out the realities of the situation, striving to contribute what we could to stop the train wreck unfolding all around us.  However, I, and others like me, were brutally silenced.  We were told to "put up and shut up", to "get with the program - or else", to lie to our people and convince them that the Bishops were doing what was necessary.  Some older priests were threatened with the loss of their pensions and retirement residences.

We were right.  History has proved us right . . . but that didn't stop how we were treated, and we've never had so much as one word of apology after we were proved correct.  Nor were we permitted to bring real, workable, realistic solutions to the table.  We had to watch as the same pious platitudes that had been used ad nauseam in the past were trotted out yet again . . . with results that were just as ineffectual.  The consequences are still being felt to this day, as the list of current scandals shows.

I, and many others, turned around and walked away.  I explained my reasons and thought processes earlier.  My heart was broken, because the Church in which I had believed, and invested what I expected to be the rest of my life, had turned out to be a "whitewashed tomb" - at least in her institutionalized self.  There were, and are, many faithful, holy Catholics, clergy and laity;  but I submit that they are largely not represented in or by the leaders of the institution of the Church as she exists at present.  They are holy in spite of her, rather than because of her.

I can identify very strongly with Mary Magdalene.

Now the first day of the week Mary Magdalene went to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb.  Then she ran and came to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him.”

The Bishops, and Archbishops, and Cardinals, in their collective hierarchy, have taken away my Church . . . and I do not know where they have laid her.  That is absolutely heart-breaking.


Monday, July 30, 2018

Negligence, or deliberately misleading the taxpayers?

I note with displeasure that a measure designed to show us how much our government is spending is almost completely useless, because that same government isn't updating it properly.

A new bipartisan Senate report revealed more than half of the government's public data on federal spending is wrong, as the website USAspending.gov is riddled with errors.

. . .

The subcommittee reviewed over two dozen inspector general reports and determined 55 percent of the spending data submitted to USAspending.gov was inaccurate. The errors accounted for $240 billion in spending during the second quarter of 2017, according to the report.

The Digital Accountability and Transparency Act of 2014, or DATA Act, required federal spending to be easily accessible to the public through a searchable website, which became USAspending.gov ... but agencies are not meeting their requirements to submit accurate, consistent, and reliable data on its spending.

The agency in charge of USAspending.gov—the Treasury Department—is among the worst culprits, as 96 percent of its own data is inaccurate.

. . .

Nearly every department and agency had high error rates. The State Department reported an 83.6 percent accuracy error rate, accounting for over $3 billion worth of spending.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development failed to report $17.9 billion, and $37.8 billion of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's spending data was inaccurate—an error rate of 97.1 percent.

The inaccuracies included the food stamp program, or SNAP, which spent $68 billion last year.

"USAspending.gov, however, only published awards totaling $160 million, less than 1 percent of the program's spending for 2017," the report said.

There's more at the link.

One might argue, charitably, that bureaucrats are simply too busy with other important work to keep the Web site updated as it should be.  On the other hand, one can't help but wonder whether those same bureaucrats would prefer us not to know where, when and how our taxpayer dollars are being spent . . . and what better way to ensure that than to obfuscate, obscure and evade the proper reporting of expenditure?

I smell several large, odoriferous bureaucratic rats.


Firearms, lethality, and politically correct surveys

I'm annoyed by the silliness of a recent JAMA article titled "The Association of Firearm Caliber With Likelihood of Death From Gunshot Injury in Criminal Assaults".  Its statement of "meaning" reads:

The findings are foundational to the debate over whether deadly weapons should be better regulated and provide evidence against the common view that whether the victim lives or dies is determined largely by the assailant’s intent and not the type of weapon.

Words in italics are my emphasis.

Frankly, I'd never heard of the "common view" that the article reports.  As far as I'm concerned, the "assailant's intent" is demonstrated pretty conclusively by the fact that he/she shot someone!  I somehow don't see gunfire as an invitation to join the attacker in a non-violent, socially neutral game of tiddlywinks!  Of course, I could be wrong about that . . . I mustn't make assumptions about the customs of other social groups, after all.  That would verge on cultural appropriation, and we can't have that, can we?

Be that as it may, caliber of weapon is obviously a factor in the injuries caused.  The Washington Post summarizes the JAMA article's findings as follows:

Analyzing data on hundreds of shootings in Boston from 2010 to 2014, Anthony Braga of Northeastern University and Philip J. Cook of Duke University found that on a bullet-per-bullet basis, shootings committed with a large-caliber firearm are much more likely to result in a fatality than those with a smaller-caliber gun. Caliber is a measure of the diameter of the bullets fired by a particular gun.

. . .

“Most gunshot victims and survivors were young minority men with prior court arraignments,” Braga and Cook found. “Most attacks occurred in circumstances where gangs or drugs played an important role.” Most occurred outdoors in disadvantaged neighborhoods.

But they found stark differences in shooting outcomes depending on the caliber of gun used.

. . .

They ... found that all else being equal, a person shot with a medium-caliber weapon, such as a common 9mm handgun, were roughly 2.3 times as likely to die of their wounds than someone shot with a small-caliber gun. Large-caliber gunshots were even deadlier, resulting in odds of death 4.5 times that of small-caliber gunshots.

“The implication,” they write, “is that if the medium- and large-caliber guns had been replaced with small caliber (assuming everything else unchanged) the result would have been a 39.5% reduction in gun homicides” in Boston during the study period.

The results undercut the idea that “guns don’t kill people, people kill people.”

. . .

... the JAMA study challenges that notion. Some guns are simply manufactured to be more lethal than others. It suggests that identical shooters with identical intent would kill fewer people if they had access only to less powerful firearms.

“The probability of death is connected to the intrinsic power and lethality of the weapon,” Braga and Cook write. “That suggests that effective regulation of firearms could reduce the homicide rate.”

There's more at the link.

The probability of death has little or nothing to do with the caliber of the weapon, and everything to do with where the bullet strikes the victim.  If I'm shot in the foot with a .44 Magnum, I'm going to be hurt and annoyed, but in almost zero danger of death (except, perhaps, from post-injury infection and poor medical care).  On the other hand, if I'm shot in the brain stem with a lowly .22LR, I'm very likely to die on the spot or soon thereafter.  Hits to the major components of the circulatory system (heart and/or major blood vessels) and/or the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) almost always produce the most serious, if not fatal, injuries.  Hits to other organs and/or body parts may or may not be fatal, but are much less likely to be so, given prompt medical attention.

Nevertheless, if it's fired with reasonable accuracy at a damaging point of aim, a larger-caliber round is more likely to cause damage to vital organs, because it disrupts more flesh and causes a greater wound cavity.  That's why, for literally generations, shooters have known that a larger-caliber handgun round such as a .45 is more likely to cause disabling or lethal injury to a victim than a smaller-diameter round.  (See, for example, the famous Thompson-LaGarde tests of 1904, which followed painful US experience during the Moro Rebellion, where smaller-caliber handguns proved ineffective against fanatical attackers, leading to the reintroduction of older .45 revolvers to deal with the problem.)  It's also why modern smaller-diameter rounds are most commonly used for defensive purposes in expanding bullet form, so that, for example, a 9mm. hollow-point bullet of 0.355" unfired diameter will expand in human flesh to between 0.45" and 0.60" - a greater diameter than an unfired .45 caliber bullet.  Hence, the smaller bullet's capacity to injure is increased, as well as the likelihood that it will remain within the body of its target, rather than over-penetrate to threaten innocent bystanders beyond him/her.

There's also the factor that a larger, heavier bullet will have greater momentum than a smaller, lighter bullet, which will allow it to penetrate deeper and injure tissues and organs further inside the body.  We discussed bullet momentum in an earlier study.

However, the report's conclusion ignores an obvious reality.  Sure, the use of minor-caliber (i.e. small-diameter) bullets is likely to prove less lethal than their bigger cousins.  However, they are also less likely to succeed in stopping a determined attacker, making self-defense more problematic.  If I have to defend myself against a criminal assault, I want the best possible chance to shut down the attacker before he kills or injures me or my loved ones.  Why should I be handicapped by being forced to use less effective firearms and ammunition?  I didn't set out to kill or injure the attacker - he set out to kill or injure me or my family.  If my larger-caliber bullets give me a better chance for survival by causing more harm to him, up to and including killing him, surely that's his fault and his problem, not mine?

That's what happens when you concentrate on only one aspect of a problem, or approach it with a blinkered ideological perspective.  If you start from the premise that guns are bad/evil, you'll come up with findings to render them less bad or evil, even if that means putting innocent persons and/or law enforcement officers at greater risk.

Sorry.  Not buying it . . . and I'm going to keep on carrying a .45 whenever possible, thank you very much!  When I can't, you can bet my lesser-caliber handguns will be loaded with hollow-point ammunition, to emulate the performance of larger-caliber rounds as far as possible.  I feel safer that way - even if anyone who attacks me might not share that feeling.



I love this Dilbert cartoon - particularly because I can recall having similar conversations with my bosses in the past (without the snappy comeback, unfortunately).

Click the image for a larger version at the comic's Web page.


Sunday, July 29, 2018

Sunday morning music

Let's try something both classical and modern this morning.

Alexander Glazunov was a very influential Russian composer, bridging the period between classical and modern music.  His Saxophone Concerto in E flat major was first performed in 1934, a fine example of combining the two eras.  This is a live performance from 2012, at the 7th annual Aeolus International Competition for Wind Instruments.  Soloist Bartek Duś and conductor Martin Fratz perform with the Düsseldorf Symphony Orchestra.


Saturday, July 28, 2018

A vintage Glock, no less!

I'm not a collector of older firearms for the sake of their age or antiquity.  My guns are shooters, plain and simple.  Nevertheless, I was surprised this morning when I dropped into my local gun shop, to inquire about a firearm I've got on back-order with them.

The owner noticed I was wearing an older model Glock 17 on my hip, and asked to look at it.  When I handed it over, he did a double-take, and pointed out that I had a first-generation Glock.  It was manufactured sometime in the mid-1980's, and must have been one of the very first to be imported into this country.  Until recently, when they ran out of combinations, Glock serial numbers were three letters followed by three numbers.  This firearm's serial number begins with "A" - an indicator of its age.

I asked him whether that made it more valuable than run-of-the-mill used Glocks, and he said it did.  Apparently first-generation Glocks in good condition (as mine is) are selling for anywhere between $700 and $900 to collectors, because there aren't many of them around.  Most were sold to police departments, that shot them until they were almost falling apart, then traded them back to Glock for later-generation pistols.  Glock duly scrapped most of the old ones, rather than resell them, because they wanted to sell more of their later-generation models (at a better price, of course).

It's nice to know I have a collector's item, but I won't keep it.  There are a couple of other guns I want, so I reckon I'll sell this one, and use the money to buy others that I need.  If any reader is interested, drop me a line (my e-mail address is in my blog profile);  otherwise I'll list it somewhere like Gunbroker, and see about finding a buyer elsewhere.

Well, well, well.  A collector's market for vintage "plastic fantastic" wonder nines.  Who'd o' thunk it?


Bombing a forest fire?

I hadn't heard of aircraft bombing a forest fire to stop it spreading and help put it out, but the tactic was used in Sweden this week, apparently with some success.

... on Jul. 25, a Gripen dropped a 500-lb GBU-12 Laser Guided Bomb from 3.000 meters in an attempt to cut fire affecting Älvdalen’s shooting range, a military range where unexploded ammunition and difficult terrain made conventional extinguishing methods not sufficient. The Swedish pilot dropped the GBU-12 so that the bomb would cut the fire at a certain distance from the impact point: a fire requires oxygen, heat and fuel. The explosion burns oxygen that is no longer available to the fire.

The first test had “a very good effect“, that is, the bomb broke out the fire. Even on other fires that were 50, 100 and 150 meters from the target, the effect was assessed according to the Swedish press.

According to the preliminary report, this unusual firefighting technique has been successful.

There's more at the link.

Here's a brief video clip of a Swedish Air Force Saab JAS 39 Gripen fighter dropping a guided bomb on the fire.

I wonder if that might be worth trying in US states where wildfires pose a major hazard to firefighters?  I suppose insurance companies would carry on about the danger to life and property involved in using high explosives, but it can't be any worse than the danger posed by fire, can it?


Friday, July 27, 2018

That's a heck of a ride!

Hawaiian surfer Koa Smith was in just the right place at exactly the right time to ride the wave of his life - and the whole thing was caught on video from two unique angles.

Perched precariously on his surfboard, the 23-year-old from Hawaii rode a wave off the coast of Namibia, on the western shore of Africa, for 120 straight seconds. He stayed upright for nearly a mile (1.6 kilometers) as he traveled through an unheard-of eight barrels – the hollow formed by the curve of the wave as it breaks over the rider's head.

Almost as amazing, Smith and videographer Chris Rogers filmed the entire ride using both a drone that hovered overhead, and a GoPro attached to a mouthpiece that Smith wore while he rode.

"I'd like to think that everything I've done my whole life led up to that moment," Smith said of his masterpiece over a one-of-a-kind wave last month, the likes of which has never been documented before.

. . .

The locale of his greatest triumph is called Skeleton Bay – a mystic stretch of beach fronting the South Atlantic on the western coast of Africa.

Don't bother trying to go unless you know someone who knows the area. It's a two-day plane ride from Hawaii, followed by a car ride through the desert, culminating with a journey down a stretch of sandy, unmarked roads that lead to the ocean. The final stop is at a stretch of beach where a lucky handful of surfers share space with hundreds of aggressive seal colonies, thousands of jackals and, once in the water, the occasional great white shark.

There's more at the link.

Here are the two video clips of his ride.  Please watch them in full-screen mode.  They're pretty spectacular.

I don't know the specific location referred to as "Skeleton Bay" (at least, not by that name - it may be a relatively new name for an area previously known as something else), but I do know the Namibian coast on which it's located.  It's in that country's infamous "Sperrgebiet", or "Forbidden Area", a diamond mining reserve that - at least when I was in those parts - was legally off-limits to all visitors except those with special permits to enter (which I had).  It's recently been declared a national park, so that will open up access.

It's spectacularly beautiful desert terrain.  The icy Benguela Current runs up the southern African coast, bringing cold South Atlantic waters into contact with the furnace heat of the lower Namib Desert.  The resulting fogs in the morning, as cold air collides with warm, are amazing . . . and the desert animals are uniquely adapted to that environment.  (To hear a desert hyena laugh in the pre-dawn glimmer will send chills up and down your spine, believe me!)  You can see shipwrecks here and there, victims of the Skeleton Coast (a name that technically applies to a more northerly part of the coast, but in my time was used for the southern Namibian coast as well by locals).  Some are far inland, as drifting sands have extended the coastline outward in their wake.

It's a lonely, lovely place, with long rolling waves running all the way across the South Atlantic Ocean from South America, and up from the Roaring Forties, to collide with the African continent.  Congratulations to Mr. Smith for taking full advantage of them, and demonstrating his skill and endurance in the process.


Risk, auto insurance, and political correctness

I had to laugh at this report from Canada.

It started when an insurance company gave David a quote — roughly $4,500 a year, if he bought the Chevy. He had a collision and a ticket or two on his record, which helped boost the premium.

Then, he had an idea. He asked the insurer what his costs would be if he were a woman. He was told his annual bill would sink to roughly $3,400 — a $1,100 difference.

"I was pretty angry about that. And I didn't feel like getting screwed over any more," he said.

"So I asked them to change my gender on my auto policy, and she's like, we can't do that."

David, who was 23 at the time, says he learned he first had to change his gender on his birth certificate and driver's licence before he could have it reflected on his insurance policy, to get the cheaper rate.

After doing some research, he realized he needed a doctor's note to show the government he identifies as a woman, even though he doesn't.

"It was pretty simple," he said. "I just basically asked for it and told them that I identify as a woman, or I'd like to identify as a woman, and he wrote me the letter I wanted."

Under the rules in place at the time, Albertans needed to produce a doctor's note to switch the gender marker on their personal documents. In June, the government scrapped the doctor's note requirement for adults, allowing them to declare their marker as M, F or X, for those who don't fit into a strictly male or female binary.

David shipped the note and other paperwork off to the provincial government. And, a few weeks later, he received a new birth certificate in the mail indicating he was a woman.

"I was quite shocked, but I was also relieved," he said. "I felt like I beat the system. I felt like I won."

With the new birth certificate in hand, he changed his driver's licence and insurance policy.

All to save about $91 a month.

"I'm a man, 100 per cent. Legally, I'm a woman," he said.

"I did it for cheaper car insurance."

There's more at the link.

That reminds me of a couple of guys I know, whom I won't name for reasons that will become obvious.  They wanted to rent a house together to save money, but kept running into landlords who didn't want to rent to "frat boys" (even though they don't belong to that species), or who preferred "actual couples".

On a whim, they decided to register for a domestic partnership, or whatever the preferred term is in their state for a gay couple.  Certificate in hand, they not only found a very nice place to rent together, but also took advantage of special insurance, medical coverage and other deals offered to "couples".  They reckon they're saving several hundred dollars every month.  They routinely have their girlfriends over to stay the night, and everyone has a good laugh over the fallibilities built into the politically-correct gender-bending scene.


Zeroing a rifle for Maximum Point-Blank Range (MPBR)

Blue Collar Prepping has an interesting article about how to do this.  It goes into more detail, and greater complexity, than the usual approach to determining MPBR, but it does so in a useful way and is well explained.  Recommended reading for rifle shooters, whether novice or experienced.

If you haven't run into the concept before, here are a few articles explaining it:


I may resemble that remark

From Pearls Before Swine a couple of days ago (click the image to be taken to a larger version at the comic's Web site):

I would say that's a painful reminder of my years . . . except that it isn't so painful if you can't remember them all - but I want to!  Dammit, I've earned my curmudgeonhood!


Thursday, July 26, 2018

Errr . . . double "Oops"?

Looks like things got a little hectic Down Under a couple of days ago.  Australian reader Snoggeramus sends us the link to this report.

A series of unfortunate events have led to a tour bus being bogged overnight on Fraser Island.

The bus reportedly drove onto the beach in an attempt to tow out a small plane that had become bogged, before meeting the same fate.

While the plane managed to get free, the bus was left on the beach overnight as the tide rolled in and tourists frantically unloaded their luggage and found higher ground.

There's more at the link.

Apparently the bus was freed after the tide went out, but it got rather wet in the process.  I want to know who thought it was a good idea to drive a bus full of tourists onto what was obviously relatively soft sand in the first place!

(The plane was obviously using the beach as a makeshift runway, something that's pretty common in isolated spots.  Miss D. has lots of stories of landing planes on beaches or river sandbanks to go fishing or crabbing in Alaska.  They're fun, particularly when bears get involved, as not infrequently happens in that part of the world!  However, most Alaskan bush aircraft wear oversized, fat tires that "float" on the sand, so they don't often get stuck.  From the photograph, it looks like that plane wasn't as well equipped for beach landings.)


Heh - terrorist edition

This news report dates from 2015, but I only just noticed it.  Better late than never, I guess!

An ISIS commander in Syria became a figure of mockery, thanks to his battledress.

Feared Isis commander Abu Wahib was posing to show off his brand new military fatigues recently, painfully unaware he bore a striking resemblance to a doner kebab.

Anti-Isis activist group Raqqa is Being Slaughtered noticed the similarity and posted it online, where it quickly went viral.

Wahib can ditch his ridiculous, yet strangely tasty looking outfit, but it isn’t only his sartorial choice which has caused people to mock him.

His portly figure, beard that looks like something Sacha Baron Cohen would wear, and distinctive mono-brow have made him the laughing stock of the vicious terror group.

There's more at the link.

Abu Wahib was killed by an air strike in May 2016, according to news reports.  One trusts he didn't show up to meet his promised 72 virgins wearing that outfit.  They'd have turned vegetarian on the spot!


News and views you can use

There have been so many weird and wonderful news reports and blog articles over the past couple of days that I can't keep up with them all.  I figured I'd post links to some of them here, and let you explore those that interest you.  In no particular order:

There's your light reading for the morning.  More soon!


Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Another nail in the coffin of politically correct comics

We've discussed the plague of political correctness in the comic industry in these pages before.  Fortunately, enraged fans are voting with their pocketbooks and wallets in unprecedented numbers, bankrolling independent comics that are emerging as a real force in the market, and strong challengers to the established publishers.

Jon del Arroz, a fellow author and friend whom we've met in these pages before, is trying to join their number.  He's launched a fundraiser to publish his first independent comic - and he's looking for a lot less money than some of his competitors, which I think is a good sign.  He's starting small, and looking to lay solid foundations on which to build.  He had this to say about it on his blog.

Working in comics has always been my dream. Well before I finished my first novel, I’d been writing comic scripts. I worked on a viariety of web comics with different artists of varying amateur skill who would pair with me… most only lasting about 4-5 pages before they burnt out and wanted new and fresh projects (artists are really flakey!). I’d written a few shorts that appeared in a couple of anthologies as well, just to try to test my abilities as a writer and make sure I could make a script flow. But I wanted to have the big show, a real comic book that was serialized like the old books I used to read.

It wasn’t long before I began craving a superhero universe of my own.

Today, we have the first 3 issues of Flying Sparks on IndieGogo, and the main story is about Meta-Girl and the original villain, Johnny Benvinuti, as their paths cross, intersect. It’s a hero and villain in love, but neither of them know about each others’ secret lives.

My goal is a modest $6,000. I’ll be honest, the goal even doesn’t cover the art costs of the issue, but just the printing, production, and the brand new cover by my great new friends Jon Malin and Brett R. Smith. My hope though is to do quite a bit more than this in order to really build this Flying Sparks universe out into something special in these years to come. I’m okay with funding at this point because I want this story to get out to the world and to push comics forward and change the industry.

We can make this happen as a community, and I thank every one of you for being there with me on the journey so far. This community has been so amazing, and so supportive, I’m glad I have the best fans and friends in the world here to take this next step with me.

There's more at the link, where you can read about Jon's two lead characters, the artists, and so on.  There's also a lot more information on the Indiegogo fundraiser page.

I like Jon, and I like his hard-working ethic, and willingness to put a brand-new project like this out there and ask for our support.  The more independent artists, authors and entertainers do this, the better all of us will be served.  I'll be contributing to his fundraiser, and I'd like to ask my readers to consider doing the same.  Click over there, read the details for yourself, and see what you think.  I'd like to see Jon reach, not just his basic goal, but his stretch goals as well.  This looks like a fun project, and I'm pleased to be part of it.


Move over, Kama Sutra - it's time for the Archisutra!

Caution:  mildly NSFW content below the break.

That's how they roll in Siberia . . .

Police were not amused.

Police in Siberia have fined a local blogger for cruising the streets of Tyumen inside a bathtub, stirring a social media storm in his support.

Online images published this weekend showed the shirtless man washing himself inside a tub fitted with wheels and towed by a van through the city’s streets. A video montage depicted the bather, blogger Eduard Filippov, ordering food at a drive-thru from inside the tub, greeting nearby pedestrians and shooting at cars with a squirt gun.

“Do whatever you want, they’re still going to judge you for the rest of your life,” he wrote in an Instagram post announcing his bathtub ride.

Tyumen traffic police said they saw the online images and fined both the driver and the bather for violating safety rules.

There's more at the link.

Well, at least he decided to do it during the Siberian summer.  Winter might have been a bit more frigid!


So who was it?

I've been asking this question myself, ever since the news broke.

Peter Strzok’s testimony about the email server scandal involving former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton ... revealed a potential bombshell.

. . .

According to [Representative] Gohmert, the [Intelligence Community Inspector General] discovered that, with four exceptions, “every single one” of Clinton’s emails—more than 30,000—“were going to an address that was not on the distribution list.”

In other words, according to the information Gohmert received from the intelligence inspector general, something was causing Clinton’s server to send copies of all of her email communications outside of the country “to an unauthorized source that was a foreign entity unrelated to Russia.”

If true, this means that Clinton’s email communication with her top aides, department leadership, ambassadors, and other officials, including President Barack Obama, may have been read by an alien entity, perhaps a foreign power hostile to the United States. That could include confidential, sensitive, and even classified information about our foreign policy or our allies.

. . .

One of the other disturbing bits of information that came out of this exchange was that, according to Gohmert, the Office of the Intelligence Community Inspector General called Michael Horowitz, the inspector general of the Department of Justice, “four times” because it wanted to brief Horowitz about this forensic analysis and this security breach. But, according to Gohmert, Horowitz “never returned the call.”

According to Horowitz’s recent report on the Clinton email server investigation, the FBI “did not find evidence confirming that Clinton’s email server systems were compromised by cyber means,” but they could not definitively determine that her servers had not been compromised.

Obviously, if the intelligence inspector general has information to the contrary, that would be significant.

If this is true, the Justice Department, the FBI, and the intelligence inspector general have an obligation to disclose to the public and to lawmakers the foreign entity that hacked into Clinton’s server and received all of those communications.

There's more at the link.

I get the feeling that the same anti-Trump, pro-Clinton cabal that has been partially exposed in the top echelons of our federal law enforcement and intelligence agencies is deliberately stalling on this.  I believe they're waiting for the November mid-term elections, in the desperate hope that a Democratic Party majority will take over the House of Representatives and shut down the investigation into their actions.  I can think of no other reason for their foot-dragging, constant evasions, and lack of openness towards those charged with overseeing their operations.  Can you, dear reader, think of any other explanation?  If so, I'd love to hear it.

I hope President Trump will declassify and release all relevant documents in full, so that Congress - and the American people - can judge for themselves.  If the suspicions outlined above are true - suspicions I share - then Hillary Clinton, along with every official who tried to cover up for her, should be arraigned on national security charges.  Nothing less will suffice.


Tuesday, July 24, 2018

What would Clay Allison have said?

Clay Allison was one of the most violent men and most feared gunfighters in the Old West.  One of his better-known sayings - later adapted as the epitaph on his tombstone - was "I never killed a man who didn't need it".

One wonders what he would have said about the infestation of pedophiles that are currently rearing their ugly heads in an attempt to make their predilections appear "normal".  A tip o' the hat to Gorges Grouse for the link.

I’ve been noticing a trend for the regressive left to defend pedophilia for awhile. Meryl Streep applauded Roman Polanski, while Whoopi Goldberg defending him drugging and sodomizing a 13 year old as not really being “rape-rape.” Not to mention the recent flood of creepy, unfunny child molestation jokes proudly made by the usual suspects of loud liberal mouthpieces…Michael Ian Black, James Gunn, and Sarah Silverman.

It’s clear there’s an attempt by Hollywood and the regressive left to normalize pedophilia throughout the years, and it’s unfortunately... officially arrived.

Trying to piggy back on current LGBT rights and the endless numbers of sexual preferences and gender identities made by the left daily, has given us the “MAPS” movement which stands for “minor attracted person.” Because every leftist narrative needs a misleading euphemism.

If you get confused trying to make sense of the perverse jargon, here are some definitions.

MAPS: Minor attracted person (pedophile)

NOMAPS: It doesn’t mean they’re against it like you’d think, it means they’re a “non offending” non-contact pedophile, which they seem to think makes them moral.

NAMBLA: The North American Man/Boy Love association, their goal is to abolish all ages of consent

Hebephile: Pedophile attracted to pubescent kids.

Zoophile: sexually attracted to animals

Nepiophile: Someone who’s sexually attracted to toddlers and babies

I wish I were kidding... but they’ve even come up with their own pride flag and symbol.

You see, these sickos are under the impression that it’s ok to be attracted to children so long as you don’t “offend.” Because that’s not a set up for failure or anything at all...

Once I started perusing Twitter to see just how bad these degenerates could be, I fell quickly into a rabbit hole of scumbags that DEFINITELY need to have “To Catch a Predator” look into them.

There's much more at the link, including many examples of such behavior from self-confessed pedophiles.  It's nauseating, but important reading, because these people are out there, and we need to be aware of them and the threat they pose.

I've had to deal with such people - far more than I would have wished - as a prison chaplain and pastor.  I'm here to tell you, there is no such thing as an "innocent" pedophile.  The tendency itself is sufficiently mentally deranged to produce a potentially dangerous individual, even if he or she has not (yet) acted on it.  You can take that to the bank.  It's true.

If you have children or grandchildren, or have friends who do, please make sure they're aware of these attempts to "normalize" pedophilia in the minds of the general public.  It's not normal.  It's abnormal, deranged, warped, twisted, deviant, and a very dangerous tendency.  Those espousing it should be treated as such.

I think I know what would have happened if any of them had tried to get close to Clay Allison's children.  A jury of his peers would have acquitted him on the spot, too.  In these more "enlightened" times, any parent taking the law into his or her own hands in such a way would probably face many years in prison for doing so.  The only remedy left to us is constant vigilance, and an absolute, total, irrevocable refusal to permit such people to persuade us, and society as a whole, that they're really harmless, kumbaya-singing, innocent little angels.


I think these two have the right of it

I've previously made it clear that, despite possible missteps, I think President Trump was on the right track in dealing with Russia.  If you didn't watch the video interview with him I posted over the weekend, I suggest you do so now, because it makes even more sense in the light of the clip below.

Two US academics and foreign policy specialists, Stephen F. Cohen and John Mearsheimer, state bluntly that President Trump may be absolutely correct to blame many of the problems in our relationship with Russia on previous US administrations - and that he may be absolutely correct about the way forward.  They both know their subject - read their linked bios if you doubt that - and are worthy of respect.  This is a short discussion, but well worth watching, and thinking about.

I've said before that we should watch, not what President Trump says, but what he does.  His words are often a smoke-screen, designed to make his critics react in a certain way, but to accomplish a great deal beneath the surface that they don't notice until it's too late to stop it.  It's been said that his news media critics in particular are cats, and he's holding a laser pointer.  He can make them chase their tails in outraged frustration all day long . . . and while they're doing that, he's getting down to business.  So far, I've seen nothing to persuade me that analysis is inaccurate.

I think we're seeing a great deal of consternation and monkeyhouse from President Trump's critics - all of which he's ignoring.  He's getting down to the nuts and bolts of reality.  He's doing it with President Putin of Russia;  he's doing it with North Korea;  he's doing it with Mexico, where some unexpected developments hold promise for a renegotiated NAFTA and a more stable relationship.  I think Messrs. Cohen and Mearsheimer have the right of it.  If anyone can fix our dysfunctional relationship with Russia, I think President Trump and President Putin - both masters of realpolitik, one first in the business world, the other first in the intelligence community, and both now applying those backgrounds to geopolitics - can do it.  They understand one another.  They understand reality, and the art of the deal.  I'm hopeful.

As for President Trump being a puppet, with Russia pulling the strings . . . oh, please.  That's been done to death, and no substantive evidence whatsoever has been provided, uncovered, discovered, or even manufactured to make the charge believable.  Toss it in the garbage where it belongs.


Doofus Of The Day #1,018

Yet another example of the blithering idiocy that has overtaken so much of academe in this country is provided by an organization calling itself "the BABEL working group", which earns our Doofus award today.

A prominent association of medieval studies scholars has pledged to boycott the discipline’s largest annual conference over a lack of social justice programming.

On July 11, the BABEL Working Group published an open letter to the organizers of the International Congress on Medieval Studies (ICMS) ... outlining two “concerns” about the conference.

"Decisions that seem in favor of ‘academic freedom’ or ‘fairness’ to the current small group of decision-makers, for others, reinforce structural inequalities." 

“The first is that there seems to be a bias against, or lack of interest in, sessions that are self-critical of medieval studies, or focused on the politics of the field in the present, especially relative to issues of decoloniality, globalization, and anti-racism,” the letter explains, adding that the second concern relates to an alleged “lack of transparency around the process by which ICMS programming decisions are made.”

The letter, which has been signed by more than 600 people as of press time, argues that by rejecting workshops such as “How to Be a White Ally in Medieval Studies 101,” “Toxic Medievalisms,” and “Intersectionality and the Medieval Romance,” the ICMS organizers are hurting scholars of color and excluding their perspectives.

“The rejection of multiple sessions co-sponsored by Medievalists of Color (MOC) in particular minimizes the intellectual guidance that scholars of color would provide at the conference, when these scholars are already severely underrepresented in the field,” the letter protests.

Other workshops rejected by ICMS organizers included “Toxic Medievalisms: Misuses and Abuses of the Medieval in Contemporary Culture,” “Race and the Medieval,” “Translations of Power: Race, Class, and Gender Intersectionality in the Middle Ages I and II,” and more.

. . .

The letter goes on to invoke “the current political climate here in the US and abroad” as justification for why the rejected workshop proposals should be reinstated, suggesting that the field of medieval studies should serve as “a site of resistance” against the “darker forces” of nationalism and academic freedom.

“We implore the Congress Committee to work together with us to ensure that the discipline of medieval studies will act as a site of resistance to, and also refuge from, these darker forces,” the letter concludes.

There's more at the link.  Fortunately, the ICMS appears to be resisting their demands.

It hardly needs to be pointed out - except to these idiots - that in medieval times, the topics they wish to discuss were not only completely and utterly irrelevant to those living back then, they're so far out in left field that medieval people wouldn't even have been able to think of them, let alone discuss them.  To try to impose a twenty-first-century, far-left-wing, politically-correct, ideologically-biased perspective upon a bygone age is doomed to failure before one has even begun.  The two fields are so incompatible as to be ludicrous.  (It also ignores the reality that, if they had lived in Europe during medieval times, the "Medievalists of Color" who signed this letter would almost certainly have been slaves, chattel possessions of their masters.  As for "academic freedom" being a "darker force" . . . do these people ever listen to themselves?  It's beyond parody!)

Their attitude is familiar to me from other settings.  For example, on occasion I speak to US students about the realities of the Third World, with particular reference to Africa, which I know well and where I've traveled extensively.  As one among many examples of cultural differences, I point out to the ladies present that they're incredibly fortunate to be born and raised in the USA, where they can choose to be what they wish, and live as they please.  In traditional African tribal society, to this day, they would be the property of first, their fathers, and then their husbands, who would "buy" them from their family for a "bride price" (lobola in Southern African parlance).  Once "bought", they would literally be owned by their husband, who could do with them basically as he pleased, up to and including (in some, but not all, tribal cultures) ordering them to "keep the bed warm" for any visiting guest of importance, no matter how repulsive he might be in his health, hygiene or habits.  What's more, their husband could fool around whenever and wherever he pleased, and if he came home with AIDS or some other loathsome disease, would have no compunction in spreading it to his wives.  If they came down with the same sickness, he'd expel them from the household in disgrace, because it was "their fault" they were ill - never his.

It's never ceased to amaze me how many young American women absolutely cannot face up to this reality.  I've been accused of lying, of making it up, of being sexist and racist and tribalist (whatever that means), and a host of other reactions.  When I invite them to confirm what I've told them by consulting any of a myriad of authoritative anthropological and social studies, they usually refuse.  It's almost as if, because they can't handle reality, they simply deny its existence.

I'm seeing a similar reaction in these politically correct professors and academics.  The reality of medieval studies has nothing whatsoever to do with their pet shibboleths and politically correct perspectives;  therefore, they want to ignore that reality, and impose their views upon a field that has absolutely no relation to them.  There was no "social justice" in medieval times, except that decreed by the local overlord, or dispensed by armed men at sword- and spear- and arrow-point - which was seldom "just".  To impose a "social justice" interpretation upon the realities of that era is so nonsensical as to defy understanding.  Those who want to do so are demented, IMHO . . . but I suppose that goes with the territory in academe these days.  There doesn't appear to be much room left for logic, reason or thoughtful debate.

Doofi indeed!