Monday, September 21, 2020

Don't let SCOTUS issues obscure the real economic threat to America

With all the fuss and bother over whether President Trump should nominate a replacement Justice to the Supreme Court, and whether the Senate should hold a confirmation vote, it's easy to lose sight of the real danger threatening us right now.  John Mauldin puts it in perspective.

The point now is that many Americans are living unemployment check to unemployment check.

It’s easy to forget that the enhanced unemployment benefits helped more than the unemployed people. In many cases, the “recipients” were simply conduits. They received money from the government and immediately sent it on to their lenders and landlords. The fiscal stimulus kept those people afloat, too. And its ending will hurt them, too.

. . .

Quick math: If 20% of the adult population reduces spending 25%, the net effect is consumer spending falls 5%. That, alone, leads to an even deeper stall-speed recession. It will generate more layoffs and bankruptcies, meaning more unemployment, until something gives the economy the lift it needs.

. . .

We are in an unprecedented situation. Close to 30 million workers are on unemployment benefits, and that’s after a partial recovery that is now tapering off. Those benefits are the only thing keeping us out of an outright depression that frankly could be worse than the Great Depression (and I don’t think that’s a hyperbolic statement), and they are about to disappear. I fully recognize my own philosophical flip-flop here. But I would rather be called a hypocrite than see millions suffering.

The fact is, we haven’t seen anything like this before. It’s not just another recession. The pandemic and our efforts to control it unleashed economic demons. We need an exorcist or at least some holy water. Instead we get boring sermons. I’m alarmed and you should be, too.

. . .

I realize we are in a contentious election season. Feelings are running high. I wish more people would realize our economic challenges transcend politics. We will still be in deep trouble whether Trump or Biden is president next year, and regardless of which party controls the House and Senate. Neither side has all the answers. We need them to set aside the rhetoric and take care of all Americans.

. . .

I am not saying a recovery is years off or impossible. I am optimistic we will recover, but it is not going to be a typical 12-month cycle to see recovery begin. We have to buy ourselves and those entrepreneurs some time to figure out what a post-COVID-19 world looks like. The more time we can buy, the stronger the recovery will be.

I get that adding debt will be a drag on economic growth. That can’t be helped. There’s a hole in the boat and we have to plug it, and while doing so we have to bail and row.

The world is going to be repriced. Everything. We are going to have to find new uses for a lot of things now in surplus, like strip malls and office space, lots of equipment, and those new uses may require lower prices. All while technology is disrupting our world in ways we don’t understand. No one ever said it would be easy.

The 85% of us who are working need to help those who aren’t. Bigger tips. Donations to food banks (have you seen some of the lines for food banks? Depressing.). Look around your own community. Are there ways you can help the at-risk population? We are seeing an epidemic of depression and suicide. Reach out to your neighbors who are lonely. I am sure you can think of your own ways. Then just do it.

In the meantime, call your senators and representatives and tell them to do their @#$%# job. Don’t yell at them for compromising. Support them when they do. We can resume yelling at them when unemployment is 6%.

There's more at the link.  Highly recommended reading.

Frankly, if the US economy collapses, it won't matter who controls Congress, or the Senate, or the White House.  It won't matter whether we have 8 or 9 SCOTUS judges in the short to medium term.  We'll be too busy trying to survive to worry about such niceties.  If you don't know where your next meal is coming from;  if you've been kicked out of your home because you can't pay the rent or cover your mortgage;  if your vehicle has been repossessed because you've fallen behind on the payments . . . all those are real, in-your-face emergencies.  Even Antifa's and BLM's antics will matter a whole lot less - because they'll be trying to survive, too.

We need to get our priorities straight.  The economy should be at or very near the top of our list right now.


Private pilots get their kicks down under

Pilots of small private planes in Australia are being offered a chance that's normally blocked to them, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic.  A tip o' the hat to Australian reader Andrew for sending me the link.

Private pilot Mark Keech has flown in and out of Sydney Airport as a passenger many times, but he never thought one day he would do it from the cockpit.

That changed recently when he flew a Piper Cherokee 140 four-seater aircraft onto one of Sydney’s main runways, which stretches nearly four kilometres [about 13,000 feet].

“I can land this thing in about 250 metres [about 800 feet] and they told me to get off the first taxiway as quickly as I could [because another plane was coming],” he said.

“The first taxiway is one kilometre [about 3,300 feet] away, and I said to my daughter we’d have to take off again just to get to it.”

Mr Keech is one of many small aircraft pilots taking advantage of Sydney’s eerily-quiet airport during COVID-19.

Ordinarily, Australia’s largest airport sees at least 800 plane movements per day.

Amid the coronavirus pandemic, that number has been reduced to about 60 movements, mainly of freight jets.

“Normally the airspace isn’t available, so [for hobby pilots] to be able to tick Sydney Airport off in their logbook is a special thing,” [Sydney Airport airfield supervisor Nigel Coghlan] said.

. . .

Mr Keech said he had to try and manage the excitement of the occasion with making sure he followed all the necessary protocols.

“It became surreal because on one hand it was the same as landing at any other airport, but then I thought ‘this is serious, it’s an international airport and I’ve got a 777 up my arse’,” he said.

There's more at the link.

The story reminds me of when my wife was flying her newly-restored pre-World-War-II aircraft down from Alaska to join me in Tennessee (a journey described in this series of blog posts).  She used the chain of airfields set up for the Northwest Staging Route (leading to the so-called ALSIB route through the Soviet Union) from the USA through Alberta, British Columbia and the Yukon to Alaska during that war.  Some of them have very long runways, in order to handle large planes - far longer than Miss D. needed for her STOL-modified liaison-aircraft-turned-bush-plane.  At one of the airports in the Yukon, she touched down on its nearly 10,000-foot main runway, using less than 10% of its length, only to find that the FBO she needed was at the other end of the runway.  Undaunted, she simply took off again, flew down the length of the runway, and landed once more at the far end!

I'm glad the operators of the Sydney airport are encouraging their light aircraft pilots to make use of the facilities.  It must get interesting for the air traffic controllers, having to fit small, slow single-engined planes in between honking great jet airliners.  The small planes' landing speed is usually rather less than 100 mph, whereas the big beasts come in at two to three times that velocity - an interesting calculation in terms of vectors and closing speed.  The small plane pilots must find it equally interesting.  The prospect of "a 777 up my arse", as Mr. Keech put it, probably concentrates their mind wonderfully!


Memes that made me laugh 25

Harvested during the past 7 days on the Interwebs.

(For those who don't get the above meme, see here.)

And finally: not funny at all, but absolutely true. Goodness is not defined by following laws, but by doing the right thing, regardless of what the law may say or require.  Doing the right thing may put you at risk, or make you a law-breaker.


Sunday, September 20, 2020

Sunday morning music

In the light of the recent death of Justice Ginsberg of the Supreme Court, I thought it would be appropriate to introduce readers who don't already know it to Pigmeat Markham's comedy song, "Here Comes the Judge".  Based on his standup comedy routine "Heyeah (here) come da judge", it was a hit in 1968, and is regarded as one of the first rap or hip-hop songs, long before that genre was officially recognized.

And here's the comedy routine that inspired the song.

One trusts the next Justice of the Supreme Court will do as well!


Saturday, September 19, 2020

No snippet this morning, I'm afraid . . .

. . . Miss D. and I have house guests, and we were up later than usual settling them in and talking about everything under the sun.  I haven't had time to prepare my usual Saturday Snippet.  (Most of them I type from a printed copy of the book, as many aren't available in e-book format.  That takes time and concentration.)

Please amuse yourselves with the bloggers in my sidebar.  They all write well, too!


Friday, September 18, 2020

Gaseous gators?

Well, yes - when it comes to science!  The BBC reports:

Have you heard the one about the alligator that performed the party trick of breathing in helium so it could talk in a funny voice?

It's not that hilarious but then you'd be careful never to smile at a crocodilian.

Stephan Reber and colleagues performed the experiment to try to understand how alligators might communicate.

It was a serious piece of research but its slightly comedic aspects have just won the team an Ig Nobel Prize.

Ten such awards were handed out on Thursday by the science humour magazine Annals of Improbable Research.

The annual Igs are intended as a bit of a spoof on the more sober Nobel science prizes.

Other 2020 winners included the team that devised a method to identify narcissists by examining their eyebrows; and the group that wanted to see what happened when earthworms were vibrated at high frequency.

All this kind of stuff sounds daft, but when you dig a little deeper you realise much of the research lauded by the Ig Nobels is actually intended to tackle real-world problems and gets published in peer-reviewed, scholarly journals.

Dr Reber told BBC News he was honoured to receive the Ig.

His team's study had attempted to show that crocodilians and other reptiles could advertise their body size through their vocalisations - something that mammals and birds can do when they call out.

. . .

The Prof is something of a superstar having also won an Ig earlier in his career for levitating frogs.

There's more at the link.

When one looks at the list of those who've previously won an Ig Nobel prize, and the research that earned them the award, it's hard to figure out how they came up with the idea(s) for such experiments.  I mean, who would have thought of using magnets to levitate a frog?

One can only bow in the presence of such greatness . . .


"The Stalinization of Kansas City"

That's the title of an article in the American Spectator.  Kansas City is merely the latest example of progressive overreach.

“There’s no way you can do any homework on Black Lives Matter and not see that it’s a Marxist political organization,” Jason Whitlock, America’s bravest sportswriter, told Tucker Carlson of Fox News. BLM “is not about black death. It’s not about black men.” Whitlock, who is himself black, knows whereof he speaks.

The civic leaders of Kansas City, Missouri — where Whitlock got his start — refused to do their homework. On Saturday, Black Lives Matter murals were painted on six city streets to address “systemic racism” in a city that, although only one-third black, has a black mayor, sheriff, county executive, and congressman. Of the 13 members of the City Council, the sole Republican was the only one to vote against the project.

. . .

Like many of my fellow citizens, I now have some sense of how Ukrainians must have felt watching their overlords erect statues of Stalin in their town squares. They were forced not just to endure Soviet lies, but to celebrate them.

To be sure, the lies that sustain BLM are not as lethal as those that devastated the Ukraine under Stalin. Nor does a gulag await dissenters, at least not yet. That said, corporate citizens risk their careers should they protest the BLM shakedown, and business owners risk their shop windows — at least those that survived BLM’s “largely peaceful” protests earlier in the summer.

. . .

Reeling from the “Minneapolis effect,” cops have pulled back even further, and the thugs have reclaimed lost territory. The night before the Kansas City murals were painted, BLM bully boys and girls roamed at will through the streets of Rochester, New York, harassing sidewalk diners and turning over their tables.

On that same day, Kansas City reported its 139th homicide of the year, 30 percent more than at this stage of 2019, 60 percent more than in the entire year of 2014, and 20 times more than in neighboring Johnson County, Kansas, which has a larger population. The great majority of those killed were black. So were their killers. According to the Violence Policy Center, “Missouri now has the highest rate of homicides among African-Americans of any state in the nation,” and it is not cops who are doing the killing.

There's more at the link.

This illustrates the great lie that's been sold to the American people time after time after time:  namely, that the problem is "the system".  Accusations of "systemic racism" are used as a reason to replace the present "system" with a better one;  but inevitably, the new system will end up as flawed as the old one.

There's a simple reason for that.  Political, social and economic systems are designed, implemented and administered by human beings, all of whom, without exception, are flawed, limited and biased to at least some extent.  We can't change that.  It's human nature.  Therefore, a new system, designed by "new" human beings, will be flawed from its inception, and will deteriorate over time until it's as bad as (or worse than) the one it replaced.

H. L. Mencken put it well:

"Each party steals so many articles of faith from the other, and the candidates spend so much time making each other's speeches, that by the time election day is past there is nothing much to do save turn the sitting rascals out and let a new gang in."

Right now, the progressive left appears to be dominating local politics.  However, the new "systems" they're putting in place are as flawed, and as incompetent, as those they're replacing.  Politicians, as a breed, are mostly rascals;  and we'd probably be better served by turning all of them out.  Sooner or later, it'll be shown that the BLM emperor's new clothes don't exist.  What will replace them?  Who knows?  It'll probably turn out just as phony.

That's why the US constitution is such a remarkable document.  It was not written by politicians.  It was written by thinking, educated people who could see the flaws in their present system of government, and who had studied other governments throughout history, and sought to codify a system that would restrict their excesses and limit their overreach as far as possible.  It recognized human nature, and sought to implement safeguards against it.  Even so, John Adams warned:

Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.

Can anyone argue that the US population today, in general terms, is a "moral and religious people"?  No, we're not - and therefore our constitution has fallen out of favor.  As long as its system of checks and balances was maintained, its protections endured.  With the relegation of the constitution to a historical placeholder rather than binding law, as has happened in many progressive and left-wing enclaves in America, it no longer protects us against the dangers it was built to avert.

That applies to cities as much as to the nation as a whole.  It seems Kansas City is on the way down the same progressive rabbit-hole as many others before it.  That's terrible news for those who live there.


How can I get through to law-abiding citizens that THE JUSTICE SYSTEM IS BEING WEAPONIZED AGAINST US???

I'm exasperated almost beyond measure at the seeming inability of some people to recognize that we're operating in a different environment right now, as far as the justice system is concerned.  With demonstrations, protests and riots breaking out in almost all American cities, law-abiding, upright citizens cannot - dare not - assume any longer that the justice system will recognize them for what they are, and respect their rights, and work to uphold them.  Instead, in far too many jurisdictions in these United States, the justice system has been corrupted.  It's become biased and politically correct.  It now works to uphold what politicians and pressure groups dictate, not what law and common sense mandate.

I've provided many examples in previous articles, most recently yesterday.  I was startled to read comments from some readers of that article protesting their right to act in self-defense, as if nothing had changed in the past year or two.  Folks, things have changed.  We may still be living under the same laws, but they're no longer being even-handedly applied.  We're no longer operating in the same legal environment.  Forces on the left are openly campaigning to elect "progressive" prosecutors and District Attorneys, and pouring massive amounts of money into their campaigns.  Thanks to widespread voter apathy and the support of mainstream news media, they've succeeded in doing so in several major cities.  Even in Texas, where the laws are very much in favor of law-abiding individuals, there are now prosecutors who openly state that they won't charge certain categories of "politically correct" offender.  They're also trying to put legal roadblocks in the way of citizens who defend themselves in accordance with the law.  In so many words, they're looking to make examples of the latter in an attempt to put pressure on others, to stop them exercising their legal rights.  Prosecution has been politicized.

If you haven't read these articles yet, please do so (in the order shown) before continuing.  They provide essential background information.
Consider, also, the Kyle Rittenhouse affair in Kenosha, Wisconsin.  What happened is clear, but interpretations of it differ widely depending on the persuasions and perspectives of those offering them.  Much of the evidence - recorded by multiple witnesses on video, from multiple angles - suggests that in fact, Rittenhouse was, indeed, defending himself against unlawful attack.  That will have to be decided by the courts, of course, but already extremists are blackening his name and threatening his life in prison.  Prosecutors appear to be playing political games rather than enforce the laws, because they're acting against one side only - not the rioters as well, despite their clearly illegal actions.

In so many words, extremists on the left of US politics are trying to use current self-defense cases to fundamentally change US laws and how they're interpreted in our judicial system.  Archimedes famously said, "Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it, and I shall move the world."  The Rittenhouse affair, the McCloskey case (in which prosecutorial bias is also clearly evident), the Zimmerman trial, and others like them are the fulcrums;  pressure from the progressive left, exercised through street demonstrations and protests, are the lever.  Politicians are taking note, and responding accordingly - to our detriment as law-abiding citizens.

There's yet another case making headlines right now.  It demonstrates my point yet again.  Bold, underlined text is my emphasis.

A Nebraska bar owner that killed a rioter has been charged with “terrorism” and “manslaughter” by a District Attorney who initially admitted it was blatant self defense.

The DA has also admitted that they were “pressured” by local activists and politicians to bring the charges.

There's more at the link.

Herschel Smith offers this blunt, uncompromising warning.

War has been declared on you, your family, and your possessions.  You’ve seen enough instances like this to know how it’s going to go down.

You behave according to traditional Western and Biblical jurisprudence, and then the unthinkable happens.

You’ve been baited into a response.  Every action has been videoed.  A prosecutor charges you with some crime, or even decides not to.

The family of the one who has been shot gets on local television and cries and talks about what a “good boy” he was, and how he had such a bright future, complete with smiling pictures of the boy and local pastors talking about volunteer work he did.  It will all be covered by local talking heads in suits and pretty dresses, who look sad while listening, and show the utmost unction during the interviews.

Local politicians, who want to get reelected and need all the votes they can muster, pressure prosecutors.  The prosecutor changes his or her mind and convenes a “Grand Jury.”

. . .

You get convicted, or even if you don’t, you spend your life savings and go bankrupt defending yourself.

This all happens if you use traditional TTPs [Tactics, Techniques and Procedures] to defend yourself and your family, even attempting to warn rioters with warning shots because you don’t really want to harm anyone, under the assumption that America is still a civilized and just society, not at war with itself.

Again, more at the link.

Friends, I'm astonished to still read comments such as some of those made yesterdayWhere do I find words sufficiently convincing to show that what we've taken as a given for so long - our lawful, legitimate right to defend ourselves - is no longer something we can take for granted?  Some people just don't seem to get it.  The forces of left-wing progressive politics have infiltrated our legal and prosecutorial system, and are seeking to weaponize it against us.  That's the hard, raw, inescapable reality of our situation right now.

Go read what I said earlier about defending yourself against such a system.  If you live in a jurisdiction where the progressive left is in control, you're in enemy territory.  You cannot take your basic rights for granted any longer.  Political correctness can and will be weaponized against you.  Therefore, if you need to defend yourself or your loved ones or your property, you have to take that reality into account, and plan and act accordingly.
Friends, that's the current reality for many of us, depending on where we live.  Please, please, keep it in mind, and act accordingly.


Thursday, September 17, 2020

Mosquitoes killing animals by draining their blood

I noted this report following Hurricane Laura a couple of weeks ago.

Huge swarms of mosquitoes are draining blood from and killing livestock in Louisiana after Hurricane Laura swept through the state.

The mosquitoes, which were pushed from Louisiana swamps as a result of the storm, are draining blood from deer and cattle, as well as a few goats and horses, who become exhausted from blood loss and die, veterinarian Craig Fontenot told the Louisiana State University Agricultural Center.

"They can’t get enough oxygen," Fontenot explained.

. . .

Jeremy Hebert, an LSU AgCenter agent in Acadia Parish, said the mosquito population "just exploded in the southwest part of the state".

There's more at the link.

I wasn't surprised to read it.  Coming from Africa, I've long been aware of a similar phenomenon when the rainy season begins across much of that continent.  Newly bred clouds of mosquitoes kill thousands of animals, and can even kill humans if they don't protect themselves.  They also carry malaria, among other diseases, which kills tens of thousands more people each year.  They get very big, too . . . we used to joke that one of them landed at a South African Air Force base in Namibia, and the ground crew put in a hundred gallons of gas before they realized it wasn't a fighter!

In Alaska, Miss D. informs me that the coming of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline actually increased animal populations, contrary to the fears of environmentalists, because it was built on artificially elevated land above the tundra.

(Image courtesy of Wikipedia)

This meant that the (relatively strong) prevailing winds affected many of the mosquitoes in the area.  As they flew higher to clear the raised ground, the wind took them away.  That, in turn, meant that caribou and other animals that took to the higher ground beneath the pipeline were no longer preyed on as much by mosquitoes, and consequently more of them survived.

Most urban residents have no idea just how hazardous even tiny insects can be in the wild.  It's one of the reasons I laugh when I hear so many "preppers" discuss how they're going to retreat to the wilderness when SHTF or TEOTWAWKI happens.  Most of them haven't included much in the way of anti-allergy, anti-insect-bite or insect repellent medications in their disaster preparations.  That's yet another reason why I suspect they wouldn't last very long out there . . .


A protest in Milwaukee leads to a very dangerous situation

A very disturbing incident took place in Milwaukee earlier this week.  It offers several important lessons for the rest of us.  It also reinforces what I've been saying for weeks and months on this blog.

Initial reports of the incident were similar to this one.

A Milwaukee man has reportedly been arrested after pulling a gun on a mob of Black Lives Matter supporters who were surrounding his home for several hours.

. . .

Members of the mob claimed on social media that their actions were justified because he is a “racist” and has a confederate flag. The flag was not seen in the videos, but an American and Trump flag were hanging prominently on the front of his home.

. . .

In livestream footage of the incident, the mob is clearly seen stepping on to the man’s property.

. . .

After the mob was outside his home for more than two hours, police arrived. As they entered the man’s property, the rioters cheered for police and called for the man’s arrest, yelling about how he had a weapon.

When the man was taken outside, seemingly in cuffs, the crowd went wild.

. . .

The militant leftists were threatening the man saying that he was going to have big problems if he dared to step outside.

As they threatened him, shined lights into his home, and pranced all over his property, he pointed a shotgun out the window.

. . .

The person who called for the “protest” livestreamed the mob outside the man’s home for several hours.

It does not appear that any members of the mob have been arrested.

There's more at the link, including video of the incident.

The person who organized the protest was described as:

"a felon with thousands of dollars in outstanding fines who attempted to burn down a police station in 2016 ... So a convicted felon is doxing innocent Trump supporters on Facebook and raising funds on PayPal to do so.  This same man has been arrested more than 10 times and has outstanding fines in excess of $3,700.  He also is allowed to roam free on the Internet and in the streets while those he claims are racists because they support President Trump are taken to jail for brandishing a gun on their own property when an indicted firebomber and his posse riot outside his home."

A later report provided more information, and indicated that the resident of the property may not have been as blameless as initially presumed.

A 56-year-old Milwaukee man is accused of pointing a gun at a crowd of protesters while he was drunk. A day earlier, police say the same man threatened to hurt his neighbor while wielding a chainsaw.

. . .

On Tuesday, Sept. 15, officers were called [the man's residence] where a crowd had gathered to protest ... Around 8:30 p.m., officers were notified by a witness that the 56-year-old man was inside by a window, and motioned with a long gun "as if he chambered a round," and pointed the gun at the crowd.

The incident was captured on video.

Officers made contact with the 56-year-old man and observed he appeared to be intoxicated. He was arrested for endangering safety by use of a dangerous weapon while under the influence of an intoxicant, disorderly conduct while armed and bail jumping.

Again, more at the link.

Obviously, the partisan reports about this incident make it unclear exactly what was going on.  Nevertheless, these events provide and/or reinforce a number of very important lessons that should be strong warnings to all of us.

  • As far as I know, even though they were on the man's property without permission and disturbing the peace, none of the protesters were told to move on, much less arrested.  Why not?  One can only presume that local law enforcement has been instructed not to inflame the situation by arresting them.  That's cold comfort to homeowners who want to secure their property and protect their families.  I wrote about that some time ago, and I strongly suggest that you re-read both of those articlesDon't rely on the police to protect you, and don't rely on the prosecuting authorities to be on your side.  In some parts of the country, political correctness may have turned them into your enemies.  In such places, effectively, you're on your own.
  • If the claims are correct that the homeowner was displaying a Confederate flag and/or a Trump flag outside his residence, then he was effectively making himself a target.  When you're in a highly-charged political environment, to identify yourself as strongly partisan is asking for trouble.  Sure, you can stand on your First Amendment rights all you like - but hard-liners won't care about your rights.  They're looking for a fight, and you're providing them with an excuse for one.  As I've advised before, be a "gray man".  Don't set out to be a "tall poppy" when you're in the midst of contested political territory, lest someone try to cut you down.
  • Don't draw or display a firearm unless you're legally entitled to do so.  Remember, in many jurisdictions, even displaying a firearm is regarded as the use of lethal force, whether or not you aim or fire it.  Where I live, state law explicitly authorizes me to use lethal force to defend my property under certain conditions, over and above typical "stand-your-ground" laws:  but in other states, that's not always the case.  Some even impose a "duty to retreat" rather than defend one's home.  Make sure you know what the law(s) in your area permit(s) you to do, and - unless the situation is so dangerous that you have no choice - don't step outside those boundaries.  If it is that dangerous, well, the old saying may apply:  "Better to be judged by twelve [i.e. jurors] than carried by six [i.e. pallbearers]."
  • There have been innumerable incidents of rioters and protesters daring police and civilians to shoot them.  They know most of us will find it very difficult to kill another human being, because we're fundamentally decent people at heart.  They feel secure in pushing "good" people, because they've tested the limits before, and got away with it.  Therefore, you need to understand before you touch a gun that if you carry it or pick it up in a defensive situation, you may have to use it.  Have that clear in your mind up front, and follow through if necessary - otherwise they may take your gun away from you, and may even use it against you.  In this incident, the homeowner tried to use a gun to threaten those invading his property, but it didn't work.  In fact, it made his situation worse.
  • Don't be under the influence of any substance that might impair your judgment, reactions or ability to defend yourself.  Not only does that affect your situation as far as law enforcement is concerned, it can also come back to bite you even if you legitimately and legally defend yourself.  If post-incident results show that you were under the influence of anything at all, even legally prescribed medications, you can expect shyster attorneys (and shyster prosecutors, in some jurisdictions) to try to use that against you.  The homeowner in this incident has brought big trouble upon himself by being drunk.  If he'd used his firearm while under the influence, it would almost certainly have been used as grounds to bring a very serious felony charge against him.
  • Usually, your home is not your castle in terms of practical self-defense.  If you're trapped in your house, it's far too easy for enemies to surround it, attempt entry through multiple doors and/or windows, and set fires all around it if they feel so inclined.  If you have any inkling at all that such a situation might arise, get the hell out of there before it does!  Take your family and your essential gear and go to a place where you'll be safer.  Yes, you may lose your home - but you and your loved ones will still be alive, and can rebuild.  There's a lot to be said for that!
  • Be sure to review your insurance policy, and make sure you're covered for damage or destruction caused by social or political unrest.  Make sure the policy doesn't contain any weasel clauses that might let your insurers wiggle out of it.  Be aware that overtly political displays or actions in a highly charged environment might trigger such clauses - and it'll cost you a fortune in lawyer's fees to fight them.  If your policy is overly restrictive, you might want to take out better coverage before it's too late.
  • I've advised on many occasions that it's useful to form a team of like-minded individuals to protect yourselves and your homes.  This incident illustrates that need perfectly.  The home-owner was trapped inside, and couldn't do much in the way of effective defense - but if he'd had friends in the area, who were prepared to work together, they could have approached the mob from the sides or rear, and provided very effective interdiction.  If things go to hell in a hand-basket in this country, that may become a vitally important tactical consideration.  Talk to your friends, work out what you can do to defend each other's lives and homes, and practice it before you have to do it the hard way.  A team can do a lot more, and be much more effective, than a single individual or family.

Finally, it might be a good idea to ensure that rioters, protestors and demonstrators are reminded of what might happen if they push things too far.  I don't think they have any idea what will happen to them if Mr. and Mrs. Average American decide they've had enough.  I suspect it won't be pretty.


Dang, Australia, weren't the snakes bad enough?

I knew Australia was home to 21 of the 25 most dangerous (i.e. venomous) snakes in the world.  That's bad enough.  Then there's the platypus:

"... a duck-billed, beaver-tailed, otter-footed, egg-laying aquatic creature native to Australia. If its appearance alone somehow fails to impress, the male of the species is also one of the world’s few venomous mammals! Equipped with sharp stingers on the heels of its hind feet, the male platypus can deliver a strong toxic blow to any approaching foe."

Miss D. says the platypus is proof that God has a sense of humor.  No word on what might happen if Australian scientists ever cross a platypus with one or more of those 21 poisonous snakes.  They'd probably do it on principle, then barbecue the result!  (I share their somewhat irreverent southern hemisphere heritage, so I understand the blokes, y'see.)

Even with that background, I had to do a double-take when (courtesy of a link provided by Australian reader Andrew) I read this report.

Queensland researchers have discovered the toxin in the infamous Gympie-Gympie tree causes similar pain to the sting of a scorpion or bite of a spider.

The pain of the tree’s sting has been compared to being burned with acid and can last months in serious cases.

UQ researcher Irina Vetter said she was intrigued by the plant’s dangerous sting, and wanted to find out why it caused such a strong reaction.

Her team discovered the toxin produced by the tree and delivered by small needle-like growths was a neurotoxin very similar to those found in spiders and cone snails.

“The chemical structure is very different but its properties are very similar to how animal venoms cause pain,” Professor Vetter said.

“That was very surprising because to my knowledge it’s the first time a plant has evolved a similar molecule mechanism to an animal to inflict pain.

“You could probably say this is the first venomous plant.”

There's more at the link, including a close-up photograph of the "needles" that cover the plant's stem and leaves.  Brrrrr!

All I can say is, I'm glad the worst the USA can do is poison ivy.  That's bad enough.  To have a plant that literally injects you with animal-like venom . . . with all the other things that bite, claw, envenomate and sting on the Australian continent, isn't that adding insult to injury?

Oh, well.  At least Australian beer doesn't bite or sting - not when it's going down, anyway!  However, the following morning might be different.  I provide that warning in order to Foster international relations, of course . . .


Wednesday, September 16, 2020

"God has a Southern accent"

One of my first introductions to living in the American South was the humor of the late Lewis Grizzard.  One of the parishioners at the church I pastored in Louisiana gave me a recording of one of his shows, and I laughed helplessly more times than I can recall as I listened to it.

I was reminded of him by a discussion with a friend about the very Southern expression, "Well, bless his heart!"  Believe me, if you hear a Southern lady say that about someone, he or she is toast.  Ain't got nothin' comin'.

That being the case, I thought others among my readers might enjoy hearing Lewis Grizzard discuss Southern language.  (If the embedded video below fails to play, click here to watch it on YouTube.)

I'm still laughing just as hard as the first time I heard him . . .  If Lewis Grizzard made it to heaven when he died, I daresay St. Peter is now greeting new arrivals at the Pearly Gates with a Southern accent, too!


"Cuties" and pedophilia in the movies

I've been nauseated to read about (and see occasional clips from) Netflix's new move "Cuties".  Frontpage magazine summarizes it:

Cuties (originally Mignonnes), which debuted Thursday on Netflix, is the story of Amy, 11, a Senegalese girl growing up in Paris who rebels against her conservative Muslim immigrant family and seeks the approval of a bullying quartet of fellow 11-year-old girls who are absolutely clueless about sex but who nevertheless believe dressing and acting like prostitutes is the key to popularity (the ages of the actresses at the time of filming are unclear, but reportedly range from 11-14). Their aimless lives center on rehearsing sexed-up choreography to a rap song for a local dance contest.

As Amy becomes desperate to escape the stultifying, traditional expectations of the women in her family, she exhibits increasingly wanton behavior, such as posting a pic of her genitalia on social media and teaching the other girls how to rev up their dance routine by twerking (if you are mercifully ignorant about twerking, it’s a very popular move derived from strip-club lap dancing, in which females squat and shake their rear ends up and down like primates presenting themselves for mating; needless to say, this is wildly inappropriate for pre-teens). The movie culminates in an extended, raunchy dance performance in which the camera lingers repellently on the scantily-clad little girls’ pelvic gyrations, come-hither looks, and suggestive touching – of themselves and each other.

During the performance, Amy is horrified onstage by the sudden revelation of what she has become, and she turns her back on both that downward spiral and her family's traditions, to find liberation in her own identity. But the transcendent ending of self-purification and newfound innocence feels utterly tacked-on, and it is too little, too late to rescue the film from the sense that we have been trapped in a pedophile’s dream.

There's more at the link.

Courtesy of Breitbart, here are some (thankfully censored) screen captures from the movie.

This is nothing more or less than an entertainment industry-sanctioned depiction of pedophile fantasies.  It can't possibly be labeled as anything else, despite vigorous efforts by those promoting it to claim that the movie has redeeming values.  If it does, then monkeys picking excrement out of their butts and flinging it at each other is also morally uplifting.  I'd better be careful what I say, though:  the latter might just turn on some of the weirder pedophiles whom I had the misfortune to meet behind bars as a prison chaplain.

The mind-blowing thing about this movie is that so many critics have defended it. As Breitbart points out:

As of right now, a full 88 percent of critics approve of Cuties, Netflix’s piece of soft-core child pornography, while only three percent of the audience agree.

That’s not a typo.

Three percent.

Over the years, I’ve seen some wide gulfs between audience and critic at Rotten Tomatoes, but that probably takes the cake and the pie and the whole enchilada.

Keep in mind, Rotten Tomatoes has worked hard to game these scores to protect its Hollywood masters, and still it’s 88 to three.

So, despite what the fake media are telling you about criticism of Cuties coming only from the close-minded and unenlightened political right, Cuties is not proving to be at all divisive, at least not among real people. A full 1,047 audience members voted on Cuties, which means 1,047 of everyday people took the time to log an opinion, and only three percent gave it a thumbs up. That works out to a terrible approval score of less than one percent — 0.69 percent, to be precise.

Again, more at the link.

I've been particularly sickened by Netflix's call for us to watch the movie before we judge it.  Their arguments are self-serving and specious.  Friends, if I want to judge the efficiency and effectiveness of our city's sewage plant, why would I swim in the raw effluent to do so?  So, too, this movie.  It's entertainment sewage.  Why should I let it splash all over me?  I have more self-respect than that.

This is yet another example of the entertainment industry trying to condition our minds to accept the unacceptable:  to move the "Overton window" of social and cultural acceptability from where it is, to where they want it to be.  It's the latest in a long, long line of such developments.  In the past century we've seen it move from eugenics, to birth control, to abortion, to pornography, to homosexuality, to transsexuality, and now to the legitimization of pedophilia.

If, after becoming aware of this movie and what it portrays and seeks to normalize, you still have a Netflix subscription (or are considering getting one), you're either so deaf, dumb and blind to reality that you deserve pity, or you've allowed yourself to be conditioned for so long that your conscience is no longer functional.

Why has Netflix not already been forced to withdraw this movie by its outraged customers canceling their subscriptions?

And what does that say about our society?

I'll leave it to you to answer those questions.  I already have in my own mind, and I'm trying to wash the fetid stench from my nostrils and the foul taste from my mouth.

Frankly, if very bad things were to happen to every adult who approved, or helped to make, or paid for, or helped to market, this movie, it would be no more than poetic justice, as far as I'm concerned.  They deserve it.  As for the parents who allowed their little girls to act in such a production . . . words fail me - almost as much as those parents have failed their daughters.


"Mother Earth is angry." Oh, yeah?

Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi demonstrated her ignorance of science and reality the other day.

“Mother Earth is angry,” Speaker Pelosi says, discussing wildfires burning in California. “She’s telling us with hurricanes on the Gulf Coast, fires in the West, whatever it is...the climate crisis is real and has an impact.”

What's wrong with this picture?

Besides natural factors, people - both arsonists and those who accidentally ignite fires - are a primary cause of the problem.  One study claims that up to 84% of wildfires are human-ignited, with arsonists responsible for up to 21%.  The evidence to support that statement is massive and undeniable.  I note that the FBI and other law enforcement agencies in Oregon have stated that there's no evidence Antifa or Black Lives Matter, both responsible for most of the riots and unrest in that state, have deliberately started wildfires.  In the absence of hard evidence I'm prepared to accept that.  Nevertheless, arsonists - whatever their political beliefs - are indeed starting many of the fires.  A Web site is correlating and aggregating news reports and other sources about arson and the current wildfires, and it's horrifying to read.  Click over there and see for yourself.

What boggles my mind is that when the primary solution to the problem - better forest management practices - is so well understood, there's still such enormous opposition to it from environmentalists and the politicians they control.  This isn't rocket science:  it's basic stuff.  Remove the fuel, and the fire can't burn.  If our forests were properly managed, even arsonists couldn't cause nearly as much damage or as many casualties as wildfires do now.  Yet, every year, there are screams of outrage from the enviroloonies whenever someone points out the truth.  They don't believe in science at all, but in some weird fantasy that allows them to deny truth and impose their falsehoods on the rest of us - and people are dying because of it.

No, Ms. Pelosi.  Mother Earth isn't angry.  This is our fault, for allowing idiots to set policy and mismanage our world.


Tuesday, September 15, 2020

It's good to see great football without the politics

I, like many Americans, refuse to kowtow to the current plague of political correctness that's dominating many professional sports at present.  I haven't tuned into a single NFL game, and I won't unless and until they get back to their job of being sports entertainers.  If I want politics, I know where I can find it - and it won't be in a sports broadcast.  As friend and fellow blogger Jennifer said some years ago about Hollywood celebrities and their political opinions, "In my world, you exist solely for my entertainment.  So, shut your pie hole and dance, monkey!"  Ditto for sports professionals, IMHO.

That said, it's great to see amateur sportsmen and sportswomen show enthusiasm, drive and dedication.  A great example came last weekend at a football game between Hillcrest-Tuscaloosa and Wetumpka in Alabama last weekend.  You can read about it here, but I recommend you take the time to watch the video below.  (If it doesn't play, click here to watch it on YouTube.)

Hillcrest-Tuscaloosa was down 30-28 on its own 41-yard line, with 2.9 seconds left in the game . . . then they pulled this rabbit out of the hat.

Well done to those players!  Talk about sheer determination and grit!  They're an example to the professionals who are too busy talking a political fight to play the game - the latter being, after all, what we're paying them to do.  They seem to have lost sight of that reality.


A sobering analysis of current US politics, and what lies ahead

A couple of months ago, fellow blogger Kevin at The Smallest Minority wrote what I think is an outstanding analysis of the current political violence, unrest and angst in America.  It's long, but well worth your time to click over there and read it.  Here's an excerpt.

The portion [of Progressive Modernists] that was ideologically more pure pursued the dream of eventual Utopia - in which, of course, they would be in charge.  The less ideologically pure pushed harder for that inevitable necessary Worker's Revolution where they could seize the reins.  Both were mostly unopposed.  In 1960 John F. Kennedy was their King Arthur.  LBJ with his Great Society was the greatest thing to happen to Progressivism since FDR.  In 1964 Ronald Reagan gave a speech at the Republican National Convention, A Time for Choosing.  You should give that a listen.  Nobody then apparently did.  The people chose LBJ.  Richard Nixon was a sterling example of the faults of Conservatism and the Republican Party.  Jimmy Carter's malaise worked greatly in their favor.  They suffered a bit of a setback with the 1980 election of Ronald Reagan, but George H.W. Bush wasn't even a bump in the road.  Bill Clinton was a disappointment to them. He still pushed the Progressive Postmodernist agenda, just not as far or as fast as desired.  Bush 43 was a speed bump, but Barack Obama was their shining star.  Utopia was just over the horizon.  (I knew the end was near when Obama won his second term with a majority of the vote.)  Hillary might not bring it to fruition, but she would be another Great Leap Forward.

And then Donald Trump won the election.

Already mentally fragile, the Faithful went clinically insane.

That insanity was fed and nurtured by the Politburo. The media, entertainers, and other Faithful stoked it.  I'm not going to list all the examples, but you'd have had to be in a coma to have missed the last four years of increasing insanity.  It's been a positive feedback loop.  Everything not explicitly Progressive Postmodernist is racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic, Islamophobic, et cetera, et cetera, ad infinitum.  Why?  Because Marx says that a revolution of the Proletariat is a necessary step for the overthrow of the Bourgeoisie, but capitalism makes people comfortable and comfortable people do not revolt.  Everyone must be made a victim, miserable and righteously angry.  The effort over the last sixty years has been to balkanize the United States.  "Strength through Diversity" has become "Tribalism."

"Diversity", Thomas Sowell once commented, "is not strength.  The ability to deal with the problems caused by diversity is.  America's ability to deal with these problems has been America's greatest strength."  "United We Stand, Divided We Fall" has never been more apparent.

The Progressive Postmodernists have identified the Bourgeoisie as anyone not explicitly a Progressive Postmodernist, but most explicitly Caucasians and mostly males.  If you are a white Progressive Postmodernist, you're still suspect because of your inherent racism and privilege.  We've gone from Two Minutes Hate to non-stop hate.  The inherent contradictions in the Progressive Postmodernist platform are starting to show as they are beginning to Cancel each other, but through it all, Donald John Trump has been the catalyst to this particular reaction.

Trump has for the last four years shrugged off every attack as if he was dressed in Teflon coated Chobham armor, but now he's up for reelection.  Another four years of Trump will further damage the advancements that the Progressive Postmodernists have made over the last thirty years.  So here's the point (finally) of this essay:

The wheels come off the train and the train comes off the track in 2021, one way or the other.

The End of America has been predicted by many people for quite some time.  The Progressive Postmodernists appear to have decided that the time is ripe.  The national debt cannot be ignored forever.  The projected entitlement spending is unsupportable.  All their preparation of the battle space through balkanization has brought us to this point.  Black Lives Matter, itself organized and run by self-proclaimed Marxists, is the hinge on which the lid is swinging, but Pandora's Box is certainly opening.  I don't think we're going to stop the greed, envy, hatred, pain, disease, hunger, poverty, war, and death that will come flooding out of it, and there most likely won't be much around afterward to put them back in.

Here's my prediction:  The 2020 election is going to be a clusterf***.  The Left does not intend to lose, and will do everything in its power to ensure that. ... If they lose, the "peaceful protests" we've seen recently will seem like a walk in the park.  All those "defunded" demoralized police who are now terrified of doing their jobs, won't.  And the Left will discover to their horror that the police aren't there to protect the citizens from them, but to protect them from the citizens.  All those guns and all that ammunition that has been purchased since 2000?  Well, when Americans get to f***ery, it will be f***ery unlike anything seen before.  The question is, will that shock return them to sanity, or will it be all-out war?  I wouldn't bet on sanity.  I'd bet on them doubling-down.

If the Democrats win ... they'll take it as a mandate to really crank up the Progressive agenda, and the millions of us who haven't swallowed that ideology will be their sworn deadly enemies.  They have already weaponized the IRS and the Justice Department against Trump supporters, expect that to be cranked to 11 because the Deep State is deeply Progressive Postmodernist.  There will be a breaking point.  It might not be in 2021, but it won't be long thereafter.

There's much more at the linkHighly recommended reading.

I've had the pleasure of meeting Kevin at the annual Blogorado gathering.  I hope he'll be there again this year, so we can compare notes on what we think is coming down the pike at us.  (For clarity, let me add that Blogorado is invitation-only.  I know some people have been offended at not being able to attend, but our hosts have made it a "closed shop", as is their right.  It's not an open convention.)

I fear Kevin is all too accurate in his forecast.  There's so much angst on the progressive left of US politics right now that I don't think they're capable of thinking straight.  Extremists dominate political discourse - witness this behavior, and this comment, as the most recent examples.  How would any of us feel if someone were saying those things about us, or our loved ones?  Sadly, such comments and behavior beget equally extreme reactions on the other side.  I've heard more than a few comments along the lines of "shooting's too good for f***ers like that".  Nobody's trying to "take the high road" any longer.

I have no idea who will win this election.  If the left dominates, those on the right will gird their loins and prepare for the fight of their lives, because they're not about to roll over and surrender.  If the right wins, the left will do likewise.  There seems little, if any, willingness on either side to work together for the good of the country as a whole.  More and more, on both sides, it's "my way or the highway".

I can only suggest that all men and women of goodwill, regardless of our political views or persuasions, prepare for the coming storm as best we can, and do our best to get on with each other, even if others won't.  We may be called to be islands of sanity in a raging sea of intolerance and conflict.  It's a tough place to be.


COVID-19 and car sales - a ripple effect?

As regular readers know, I've followed vehicle sales as a major bellwether of the country's economic health for some years.  Not too long ago, the expectation was that used car prices would show a massive decline, thanks to an oversupply of vehicles coming off lease, accompanied by so great an increase in the price of new vehicles that many people would no longer be able to afford them.

Over the past couple of months, that's changed.  Bloomberg notes:

Distortions from the official CPI report can be seen in used-car pricing, which showed their biggest monthly jump in August since 1969, but are still far short of the increases seen by used-car auctioneer, Manheim, an Atlanta-based firm that sells roughly 7 million vehicles a year.

“The jump in used car and truck prices over the past two months might reflect the increased demand from city-dwellers who no longer are comfortable taking mass transit and others who have left the city and now need a vehicle,” said Kathy Bostjancic, economist at Oxford economics.

There's more at the link, including a larger version of the graph above.

That graph is really interesting.  Officially, used vehicle prices are very stable;  however, a leader in that field of business says they're anything but stable, having gone up by almost a third compared to the beginning of this year.  What's going on?

Ms. Bostjancic's theory is probably correct, as far as it goes.  Mass transit has been shown to be a hotpoint of infection for COVID-19, and it's also become a focal point for violence this summer, both criminal and politically motivated.  As a result, many commuters are no longer comfortable with using it.

Also, there have indeed been many relocations from cities to outlying suburbs and smaller towns for health and other reasons.  (I've seen figures suggesting that between half a million and one million households moved out of New York City this summer - and that's just one major metropolitan area.)  I know that in places like NYC, many residents haven't bothered to own cars for a long time, because it's difficult, inconvenient and expensive to keep one there (for example, monthly parking fees in a secure facility can range from $300 to $1,000 per month).  If they leave the city, and no longer have ready access to taxis or public transport, they need their own wheels.

However, there are several other factors that I think are playing a role.  They include:

  • With increased health risks, airlines cutting schedules due to reduced demand, and requirements for travelers to wear masks at all times (over and above the "normal" difficulties with TSA security theater, etc.), a lot of people are flatly refusing to fly.  They'd rather drive to their destination.
  • Thanks to restrictions on cruise ship sailings, hotel sanitation risks and quarantine requirements in some states, there's a boom in RV sales as families go on the road to vacation together - and travel trailers have to be towed.
  • With more families staying at home as schools are closed, there's a greater need to ferry kids to and from outside activities - if only so that stay-at-home parents can retain their sanity!
  • Restaurants in many parts of the country are severely restricted during the pandemic.  Households have to shop for and prepare their own meals, on a scale that hasn't been needed for years, if not decades.  There's also a greatly increased need for toilet paper, paper towels, and other domestic supplies now that so many more kids are learning at home.  All those factors mean more shopping trips, and a need for larger and/or more reliable vehicles.

There's also the undeniable fact that new vehicle prices are ridiculously high.  Added to that, there are greater restrictions on formerly-easy credit, as existing borrowers lose their jobs and lenders eye new applicants with increased wariness - they want to be as sure as possible that they can and will repay their loans.  That means many buyers can no longer aspire to new cars, and are forced to turn to the used vehicle market to find something affordable.  As always, greater demand pushes up prices.

Rental car companies, the largest buyers in the US car market, have also modified their purchase and resale patterns to adjust to the COVID-19 business environment.  Previously, they'd buy hundreds of thousands of new vehicles every year, and sell a similar number of older ones on the used car market.  When demand collapsed under the impact of the pandemic, some put a lot more of their vehicles up for sale to trim their fleets for the new business environment.  The Hertz bankruptcy in particular dumped hundreds of thousands of vehicles into the market.  That did initially depress prices;  but the surge in demand, due to factors outlined above, rapidly absorbed the new supply of used vehicles, after which prices rose again.  Meanwhile, the rental companies cut back drastically on their purchases of new vehicles, and kept older ones in service for longer (aided by the fact that their mileage wasn't increasing as fast as it usually did, thanks to lower demand from travelers).  That hurt new vehicle sales, but shielded the used car market from an ongoing glut in supply, keeping prices higher.

Finally, I'm informed that many people who leased cars at attractive monthly rates over the past few years suddenly found that it was harder for them to qualify for new lease deals at affordable financing costs, thanks to tighter credit requirements during the COVID-19 economic downturn.  However, they were often able to extend their existing leases for another year or two, usually at very attractive rates.  Thus, many vehicles that would have come on the market in normal circumstances no longer did so, further reducing supply.

Put all that together, and the supply-and-demand equation makes for greatly increased used vehicle prices.


Monday, September 14, 2020


Spikes Tactical, one of the better-known vendors of AR-15 rifles, parts and accessories, has something new to offer.  It's an engraved magazine for the AR-15.

For its inspiration, refer to the Kenosha shooting incident a few weeks ago.  One of the rioters attempted to assault the shooter by striking him with his skateboard.  That proved to be Not. A. Good. Idea.

Spikes Tactical has several other not-politically-correct engraved magazines on offer.  Some of them made me smile.  No, I'm not being compensated in any way for mentioning them:  I merely found them amusing, and thought I'd share them with my readers.