Thursday, February 29, 2024

Importing crime


We've all read the warnings about the number of young, military-age men pouring over our southern border.  We've also read reports that increasing numbers of gang members have been identified among them.  That reality now appears to be coming home to roost.

The Gun Free Zone blog sets the scene.

As a Miami boy, born in the 1980s, I am familiar with waves of Cuban migrants coming to the United States.

In 1980, Fidel Casto began to empty Cuban prisons and ship them with refugees to Florida.

He famously said, “I have flushed the toilets of Cuba in the United States.”

Today, it’s Venezuela that is flushing its toilets into the United States.

. . .

Venezuela’s currently president is Nicolas Maduro, former VP to Hugo Chavez, and Chavez was buddy-buddy with Castro.

It’s not at all difficult to understand how this situation came to be.

So it makes perfect sense that Venezuela’s violent crimes are dropping, because the violent criminals are here now.

The worst part is that half of the American government is on board with this policy, evident that they refuse to send these criminals back.

It’s only going to get worse.

There's more at the link.

The result is that Venezuela's largest criminal gang is now operating in several large US cities.  Recent headlines tell the story:

It's not only Venezuelan criminals, of course.  A Honduran migrant recently raped a 14-year-old girl at knife-point in Louisiana.  The local police complain they're having immense problems trying to control crime committed by migrants.

Kenner Police Department Chief Keith Conley also railed against illegal migrants committing crimes in the area and said they pose challenges for law enforcement for many reasons.

"Lack of access to data, false identification and language barriers put local law enforcement at a huge disadvantage," Conley said.

"We cannot verify if an illegal alien is giving correct information as it pertains to names and dates of birth. It is not only a drain on police manpower, but a financial drain on local law enforcement’s budgets and taxpayers' money."

"In a 25-day period, this illegal alien caused terror in our community. We are glad he is off our streets, but will he be back? Will he have a new identity? What other crimes has he committed since he crossed our borders?"

Again, more at the link.

Solomon is a military veteran and a law enforcement officer.  He points out:

Decisions have consequences and all this feel good, pussified, we are the world bull**** that has been pushed by those in power is leading to one thing.

Americans thought **** was bad?  They're about to be ravaged.  Not so much rural areas but most certainly the big cities.

You're about to see most American big cities turn into open air cesspools.

It will take a decade or more to round up and control some of the gangs and terrorist that have crossed.

My biggest fear?

The Army is about to cut its Special Operations personnel.  We're gonna need them.  Not for operations outside the country but INSIDE!  Many of these gangs are simply too well armed to be confronted with police tactics.  Some of the best SWAT units in the US will be overwhelmed.  

We're not gonna need force multipliers aiding local agencies against some of these creatures.  We're gonna need Ranger type capabilities.

What did you say?  You want me to get to the point?

We just allowed a counter insurgency type element to walk across the border and its gonna take a military response to bring order.

Chaos in the cities is coming.  No go zones are here and the middle class and poor are about to be ravaged.

Tough on crime is coming back in style but many will be killed, raped and terrorized before Washington DC even notices.

More at the link.

To my mind, the most dangerous aspect of this criminal migrant invasion is that it's going to force many Americans into a vigilante mindset.  Speaking about Muslim fundamentalist terrorist attacks in France in 2015, I wrote:

The reaction from ordinary people like you and I won't be to truly think about the tragedy, to realize that the perpetrators were a very small minority of those who shared their faith, extremists who deserve the ultimate penalty as soon as it can be administered.  No.  The ordinary man and woman on the streets of France is going to wake up today hating all Muslims.  He or she will blame them all for the actions of a few, and will react to all of them as if they were all equally guilty.

One can't blame people for such attitudes.  When one simply can't tell whether or not an individual Muslim is also a terrorist fundamentalist, the only safety lies in treating all of them as if they presented that danger.

More at the link.

Precisely the same consideration applies to the actions of criminal migrants.  It's simply not possible for us to tell which migrants are relatively decent people, and which are criminals:  therefore, the only sane approach in high-crime cities is going to be to treat all migrants as potential criminals unless and until they prove otherwise.  That's already happened with black inner-city residents.  I'm sure most of us have seen complaints from them that too many white people treat them as criminals, whether they are or not.  Unfortunately, they live in neighborhoods where criminal gangs flourish;  therefore, they're tarred with the same brush.  It's inevitable.

That way lies vigilante justice.  If our law enforcement agencies and officers are overwhelmed by criminal migrants, the people of our cities will take the law into their own hands.  As a result, innocent people are almost guaranteed to suffer.

Who is to blame?  Not the vigilantes - they're trying to protect their own lives, families and property.  No, the responsibility lies with those who allowed those criminals to pour unchecked across our borders.  Who will call them to account?


The year with 445 days and 15 months


I was amused to read an article at the BBC's Web site about calendar reforms in ancient Rome.

To tame a hopelessly disorganised Roman calendar, Julius Caesar added months, took them away, and invented leap years. But the whole grand project was almost thwarted by a basic counting mistake.

It was confusing enough when the harvest celebrations kept arriving in the middle of spring. It was the 1st Century BC and, according to ritual, there ought to be ripe vegetables ready for eating. But to any farm labourer looking around in the field, it was clear there would be many months before the harvest.

The problem was the early Roman calendar, which had become so unruly that crucial annual festivals bore increasingly little resemblance to what was going on in the real world.

This nonsensical system was something Julius Caesar wanted to fix. It was no small feat: the task was to heave the Roman Empire onto a calendar aligned with both the rotation of the Earth on its axis (a day), and its orbit of the Sun (a year).

Caesar's answer gave us the longest year in history, added months to the calendar, took them away, anchored the calendar to the seasons, and brought us the leap year. It was a grand project – and it was almost derailed by a peculiar quirk of Roman maths.

Welcome to 46BC, better known as the Year of Confusion.

There's more at the link.  Entertaining and informative reading.

I've always been entertained by how various human societies have classified time, and tried to account for its passing in culturally meaningful ways.  There have been all sorts of weird misunderstandings about time, confusing human accounting of it with the real thing.  Obviously, when a second, or a minute, or an hour passes, that amount of time has actually gone by.  It matters not whether we call it by those names, or rename those periods a thingumajig, a doohickey and a watchamacallit.  The time still passes.  We could claim that an hour contains 100 minutes instead of 60.  So what?  The time will still pass, no matter what label or measurement we put on it.  Time doesn't care.  However, many people can't think in those terms, and become very uncomfortable when the measurement of time changes.

That's alleged to have been the cause of the "calendar riots" in Britain in 1752.  They may be more legend than reality, but the changeover of the calendar did lead to some controversy.

Before 1752, Britain and her Empire followed the Julian calendar, first implemented by Julius Caesar in 46 BC However this calendar had an inbuilt error of 1 day every 128 years, due to a miscalculation of the solar year by 11 minutes. This affected the date of Easter, traditionally observed on March 21, as it began to move further away from the spring equinox with each passing year.

To get over this problem, the Gregorian calendar was introduced. This is a solar calendar, based on a 365-day year divided into 12 months. Each month consists of either 30 or 31 days with one month, February, consisting of 28 days. A leap year every 4 years adds an extra day to February making it 29 days long.

. . .

Its introduction was not straightforward. It meant that the year 1751 was a short year, lasting just 282 days from 25th March (New Year in the Julian calendar) to 31st December. The year 1752 then began on 1 January.

There remained the problem of aligning the calendar in use in England with that in use in Europe. It was necessary to correct it by 11 days: the ‘lost days’. It was decided that Wednesday 2nd September 1752 would be followed by Thursday 14th September 1752.

. . .

It is also true that when the British government decided to alter the calendar and skip these 11 days, many people mistakenly believed that their lives would be shortened by 11 days. People were also unhappy and suspicious at the moving of saint’s days and holy days, including the date of Easter. Many people also objected to the imposition of what they saw as a ‘popish’ calendar.

. . .

Not everyone was unhappy about the new calendar. According to W.M. Jamieson in his book, ‘Murders Myths and Monuments of North Staffordshire’, there is a tale about one William Willett of Endon. Always keen on a joke, he apparently wagered that he could dance non-stop for 12 days and 12 nights. On the evening of September 2nd 1752, he started to jig around the village and continued all through the night. The next morning, September 14th by the new calendar, he stopped dancing and claimed his bets!

Again, more at the link.

I get the feeling that many of our politicians would happily make every year last 445 days, if it meant they could cling to power that much longer before having to fight another election!


Wednesday, February 28, 2024

A treat for football fans


(American football, that is.)

I came across this video while searching for something else.  It's 40 minutes of some of the most astonishing moments in National Football League history;  no replays, no slow-motion, just the events as they happened.  Some of them really are amazing.  If the video doesn't display (sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn't), click the link provided to view it on YouTube.

I'd have loved to see slow-motion replays of more of those incidents.  Even so, they're highly entertaining, to say the least.


A demonic secular religion with self-appointed gods?


That's how Brandon Smith sees globalism and its followers.

From Carl Jung to Joseph Campbell to Steven Pinker and beyond, all scientific evidence suggests that human beings have inherent psychological qualities and characteristics from birth. Some of these are unique to the person, some are universal archetypes and ideas that the majority of people share (such as conscience and moral compass). If we didn’t have these built-in qualities, humanity would have become extinct thousands of years ago. We still don’t know where exactly they come from, we only know that without them we are no longer human.

There is, however, a certain percentage of people (1% or less) that actually do not have these inborn character traits. They are generally known as psychopaths and sociopaths, and their behavior is very similar to that of the globalists. I have long held the theory that the globalist cabal is in fact a cult of higher functioning psychopaths.

Their lack of empathy and conscience, their thirst for godhood and omnipotence, their drive to attain all encompassing surveillance of the population, to know everything about us at all time, to have total control over the environment and society, the narcissistic self image of a supreme ruler who is worshiped by the masses, and the delusion that they will be able to read minds and predict the future. These are psychopathic fantasies, and they are willing to chase these fantasies by any means necessary.

But even psychopaths sometimes need a fundamentalist framework in order to maintain organization and inspire devotion within a group. It makes perfect sense that they would choose luciferianism as their religion.

Their “do what thou wilt” philosophy of hedonism takes the idea of freedom and removes all responsibility – It is a degenerate view of liberty, rather than a principled view. Freedom, they think, is only for people like them; the people willing to desecrate everything in their path and upend the natural order.

As psychopaths, they are devoid of natural inborn contents and are more robotic than human. So, it’s no surprise that people like Harai argue there is no soul, no freedom (for you) and that machines are capable of the same creativity as humans. An empty person with no soul or creativity is going to assume that all other people are empty. An immoral person will also be compelled to prove that everyone else is just as immoral as he is. Or, he will be compelled to prove that he is superior to everyone else because he has embraced his immorality.

Do the elites actually believe in a real “devil” with hooves and horns and a pitchfork? I don’t know. What matters, though, is the philosophical drive of their cultism. Their goal is to convince a majority of the populace that there is no good, and there is no evil. Everything is empty. Everything is relative to the demands of the moment, and the demands of society. Of course, they want to control society, so then everything would really be relative to THEIR demands.

If you want to see something truly demonic, imagine a world in which all inherent truth is abandoned for the sake of subjective perception. A world that caters to the preferences of psychopaths with no ethical imperative. A world where the ends always justify the means. This is the luciferian way, and the globalist way. And no matter how much they deny it, the reality of their beliefs is visible in the fruits of their labors. Wherever they go, destruction, chaos and death follow.

There's more at the linkHighly recommended reading.

That might sound far-fetched to many people, but I've seen at first hand the consequences of the pursuit of money and power for their own sake, rather than as a means to an end.  I'll give you just one example, out of many I could cite.  Back in the 1980's, while working in the information technology industry, I helped one businessman figure out his (very complex) taxes.  In the course of doing so, I learned that he was worth sixty to seventy million already, and worked up to twenty hours a day to make more money.  If he didn't add at least ten per cent every year to his net worth, he reckoned himself a failure.  However, while dedicating his life to the pursuit of money and the power it brought with it, he'd been through three marriages, all ending in bitter and acrimonious divorces.  His son was a high school dropout, living somewhere in Europe to evade the draft in South Africa, vocally and viciously hating on his father at every opportunity.  His daughter was a drug-addicted prostitute suffering from multiple venereal infections, but refusing to get treatment for them.  His life outside work and money was a ruin, a total and complete failure . . . yet he still addictively and compulsively lived and worked solely for more money and power.  If ever there was a living definition of a "false god", he was pursuing it.

I've no idea what happened to him in the end, but I can't think it was anything good.

I'm also reminded of an article in the international edition of Fortune magazine on July 6, 1987.  I found it so nauseatingly compelling that I filed it in my spiritual reading library - and have kept it there to this day - on the principle of "Know your enemy", because what it described was, and still is, the antithesis of Christianity, and a very clear enemy to any meaningful life of faith.  It was titled "The Money Society".  Here are a few excerpts.

Money, money, money is the incantation of today.  Bewitched by an epidemic of money enchantment, Americans in the Eighties wriggle in a St. Vitus's dance of materialism unseen since the Gilded Age or the Roaring Twenties.  Under the blazing sun of money, all other values shine palely.  And the M&A decade acclaims but one breed of hero:  He's the honcho with the condo and the limo and the Miró and lots and lots of dough.

. . .

Back in 1967, around 40% of U.S. college freshmen told pollsters that it was important to them to be very well off financially, as against around 80% who listed developing a meaningful philosophy of life as an important objective.  But by 1986 the numbers had reversed, with almost 80% aspiring plutocrats as against 40% philosophers.  The number and wealth of the rich have swollen accordingly, with U.S. millionaires proliferating sixfold over the last 20 years to around 1.3 million souls today.  The richest 1% of Americans, who owned 31.8% of the national wealth in 1963, had upped their share to an even heftier 34.4% of it two decades later.

. . .

The corporate restructuring [of the 1980's] isn't just an economic change.  It is also a social change, transforming the relationships between individuals and their employers.  Altered sometimes unrecognizably, cut loose from their traditions, no longer able to offer long-term career commitment, old companies can inspire neither attachment nor loyalty in employees.  "What we're living in now is an age of Hessians," says University of Rhode Island historian Maury Klein, biographer of robber baron Jay Gould.  A realignment like this cuts people adrift from the traditional moorings by which they identify themselves, as do other of our era's social and cultural changes, from family breakdown to the newfangled relations between the sexes to the continuing attenuation of community ties.

What has this to do with the money craze?  Everything.  Says historian Klein, "Money tends to be more or less important in an age, depending on the degree of turbulence and social change that is taking place."  Like the rapidly urbanizing and industrializing era of the robber barons, Klein says, ours is "an age where traditional self-identities are under great attack and great strain just from the pace of change.  In that situation, money becomes a way of defining who you are by what you have."

That way of defining a self is rampant in the money society.

. . .

What then is one to make of that patron of the arts Saul Steinberg, chairman of Reliance Group Holdings, sometime greenmailer, and recently host to a gathering of such writers as Norman Mailer and Allen Ginsberg?  What does he think when he walks in his door after a hard day at the office and sees, first thing, his Francis Bacon triptych?  On one side a naked man throws up into a sink;  on the other, a naked man strains on a toilet;  in the middle, grotesque and half hidden, a third naked figure casts a batwinged, demonic, and loathsome shadow ominously across the floor.  Who knows what these images might say to Steinberg of life in high finance?

All this is what is really meant by the word "lifestyle" - more superficial style than rooted, meaningful life.  And the point of these examples is not that the money society has triumphantly driven out all the solid, estimable values, like the shaggy barbarians at the gates of Rome.  Rather, the money society has expanded to fill the vacuum left after the institutions that embodied and nourished those values - community, religion, school, university, and especially family - sagged or collapsed or sometimes even self-destructed.

Now we live in a world where all values are relative, equal, and therefore without authority, truly matters of mere style.

It's hard to read that 1987 article and not see the roots of today's secular, wealth-obsessed, psychopathic focus of those who lead (or say they lead) our society.  The money-focused hedonism and self-obsession of the 1980's gives rise to the uber-hedonism of globalism and its denial of individuality, community, culture, faith and nationality.

Here's Yuval Harari, one of the high priests of globalism, talking about his - and their - vision of the human being today.  It's chilling.

That's a vision of humanity that I reject utterly - but it's the vision of humanity that is guiding the globalists in their quest for power.  They truly believe they can overturn all of human history, all of humanity itself, and make the world something directed by a machine that acts in the name of what's good for that world as a whole, without considering individuals, communities, cultures, religious faith, or anything else.  A secular society in every conceivable way.

I can understand how Brandon Smith came to his conclusion.  Increasingly, I share it.


Mixed signals?


Clearly, fast-food outlets are thinking in different directions when it comes to future planning.

First, McDonald's sees a bumpy ride ahead.

In the U.S., McDonald’s same-store sales rose 4.3% in the October-December period, fueled by price increases as well as successful promotions like its Happy Meal collaboration with artist Kerwin Frost. But Kempczinski said there were fewer visits and lower spending by customers earning $45,000 per year or less.

Kempczinski said that as grocery inflation has retreated, those customers are more likely to eat at home. McDonald’s hopes to get those customers back into its stores this year with marketing that emphasizes low-cost options.

“We certainly know consumers are more wary — and weary — of pricing and we’re going to continue to be consumer-led in our pricing decisions as we look forward to 2024,” Chief Financial Officer Ian Borden said.

There's more at the link.

On the other hand, Wendy's seems to think it can squeeze the hard-pressed consumer even harder.

Wendy’s will start experimenting with surge pricing, much like Uber and Lyft, as the company rolls out digital menus to all its United States restaurants by 2025, according to the company’s February earnings call. Under the test, burgers, Frosties, and other menu items will have “dynamic prices,” costing more during times of increased demand.

. . .

A Wendy’s Baconator costs $12.24 in New York City, but under dynamic pricing, that price could fluctuate throughout the day. The burger could increase in price around lunchtime or go down during a slow afternoon. Wendy’s did not provide details as to how severely prices could fluctuate.

Tanner expects dynamic pricing will result in immediate sales growth, but it’s a risky approach. A majority of consumers (52%) say dynamic pricing is equivalent to price gouging, and 65% say it makes the decision of where to eat more difficult, according to a Capterra survey.

Again, more at the link.

I'm one of those who regards so-called "dynamic pricing" as yet another way to rip off the consumer.  I guess I won't be shopping or eating at Wendy's any more, which is a pity - but that's too bad.  I know roughly what a quick meal should cost me at any fast-food outlet.  If I can no longer be sure what it'll be at one of them, I'll go to another one on principle.  (It's the same with vehicle manufacturers who now want to charge a monthly subscription for features that used to be free along with the vehicle when you bought it.  No way!  I'll buy used cars that don't need subscriptions until that's no longer practically possible, then I'll look very seriously at re-mapping whatever vehicle I buy to eliminate the need for subscriptions.  There's already a small but thriving market in re-chipping them for higher performance, and I understand that's being expanded to switch other features off or on.  Let's hear it for free enterprise!)

Which company is making the right bet on its future?  I don't know, and I guess nobody does at this stage . . . but I'm willing to bet that consumers will vote with their wallets.  My wife and I no longer eat at fast-food restaurants unless we have to, such as on a long trip;  and even there, we'll try to find something nicer in the way of restaurants as we travel, and make time to eat there, because it no longer costs much more to do that than to eat plainer, faster food.  Furthermore, if we can plan ahead and take food with us to prepare at a rest stop, we'll do that rather than eat out at all.  Our wallets can only take so much pressure!


Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Worthwhile scope deal


If you have a rifle or two you'd like to equip with a telescopic sight, but can't justify several hundred dollars for most of the offerings currently out there, Primary Arms has a good deal at the moment.  It's for their Classic Series 3-9x44 Rifle Scope, currently priced at just $94.99.

It has a 30mm scope tube, which transmits more light, more efficiently than the typical 1-inch tube used on most lower-cost commercial scopes.  That means using 30mm. mounts and/or rings, of course, which are a bit more expensive, but not too much so.  You'll have the opportunity to buy discounted scope covers and mounts if purchased with the sight, which is useful.  It uses a standard duplex reticle, with no bullet drop compensation or range-finding ability, but for its target market that's probably not a problem.  I intend it for use at up to 300 yards, and out to that range I can compensate for bullet drop and windage by eye.  Any competent rifleman should be able to do so, if he knows his firearm and ammunition.

I've been trying one out, and I'm pretty impressed by it.  It works just fine for cartridges from rimfire to .308 Winchester, and I presume it'll probably suffice for more powerful ones too, despite their heavier recoil.  At its price point it's probably unbeatable value right now.  I own several Nikon ProStaff scopes, which were (sadly) discontinued a few years ago, and always found them to be very good value for money.  Well, this Primary Arms scope is at least as good as them in terms of optics, gathers more light, and costs a lot less than they did.  I don't know how Primary Arms managed to hold this price point, but I'm not complaining!  I just bought a couple more to put on rifles that don't yet have scopes, because with my eyes getting as old as the rest of my body, iron sights are really not an option for me any more.

(No, Primary Arms isn't compensating me in any way to boost their products - they don't even know I'm writing this article.  I just like what I bought, and I like to tell my readers and friends about good deals when I find them.)



"It's not fair! They weren't supposed to hit back!"


The ancient Greeks talked about hubris and nemesis.  An article in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine defined those concepts as follows:

Hubris denotes over confidence, exaggerated pride. It can be associated with a lack of knowledge or interest in history, also with shaming or contempt of others.

Nemesis is the goddess of retribution and denotes the destruction, suffering or punishment that can follow in the wake of hubris.

The Greeks saw the two in a cause-and-effect relationship:  anyone displaying hubris was inviting the goddess Nemesis to exact retribution upon him.  The time-honored idiom "Whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad" describes, from a different perspective, the effects of hubris upon those doomed by it.

A perfect example of hubris in action, plus self-centered astonishment at the nemesis that has inevitably followed, may be found in the comments of a leader of Hamas during a recent television interview.  This is mind-bogglingly stupid.

Hamas invaded Israel with up to 3,000 terrorists;  embarked on a whirlwind of mass murder, deliberate rape of victims (female and male);  took scores, if not hundreds, of hostages;  and expected to get away with it???  Their complaints about Israel's reaction being unforeseeable, and the real criminal act as opposed to what they did, are unimaginably self-centered and blind to reality.  What did they think Israel would do about such an atrocity?  Roll over like a hurt child and cry into their blankies?  Demand sympathy from the rest of the world while doing nothing?  What, in Israel's track record since its independence in 1948, made them think that would be a likely response?

Apparently Hamas actually expected to be allowed to tear great chunks out of Israeli society and culture, leaving great bleeding wounds (literally as well as figuratively) in that nation, and yet escape retaliation.  Hubris in action.  They now face the utter destruction of the society they'd built in Gaza, and the ruin of their people.  Nemesis following hubris.  When Hamas complains about Israel "violating all international laws, treaties and norms", they apparently believe that it was quite all right for them to do so during their terrorist attacks, but that Israel was not allowed to respond in kind.  Looks like nothing much has changed in human nature since the ancient Greeks . . .

There's another, more modern proverb that fits Hamas' situation.  I'm not going to spell it out here, because it's rather profane, but I'm sure most of my readers know it by its acronym, F.A.F.O.  I rather think Hamas figured it didn't apply to them.  They know better now.


Another question for archers and bowhunters


Following my inquiry yesterday, a number of you provided useful information about conventional bows and crossbows.  Based on that, I think it would be best for me to learn how to use a crossbow before I try to write about it.  (I already know how to use a conventional bow.)

That being the case, and being on a tight budget, here are a couple more questions for the crossbow users among us.

  1. What's the best entry-level crossbow on which to learn?  (By "best" I mean suitable for purpose, of reasonable quality, not a toy, not likely to break if I look at it funny.  I don't want to buy a cheap Chinesium knock-off.)  Brand and model recommendations, if you can, please.
  2. How much would such a bow cost?  Is it worth looking for a used crossbow at a reduced price?  I've seen some apparent bargains, about half off the new price, but I don't know enough to tell whether they're in good condition and/or worth the money.  (If any of you know of a bargain-priced used crossbow in good condition, of worthwhile quality, please let me know.)
  3. What accessories are necessary, and which are merely handwavium?  I'm sure I don't need a thermal or laser sight as a student!  I'm a total novice, so any and all input is valued.
With your help, I hope to pick up something within the next couple of months, and learn how to use it before writing about it.  That seems to me to be the best, most authentic way to go.

Thanks again.


Monday, February 26, 2024

A question for archers and bowhunters


I was doing some research for a writing project when I came across what seems to me to be an anomaly.  I'd appreciate input from those who use bows for target shooting and/or hunting, please.

Back in the bad old days (for example, the Hundred Years' War battles of Crécy, Poitiers and Agincourt), archers dominated the battlefield.  The English longbow was reportedly used over ranges up to 250-300 yards against area targets (e.g. troops massed on a battlefield), and up to 100 yards or occasionally further against an individual target such as a person, a deer, etc.  The shoulder-fired crossbow is said to have had a similar effective range against the same targets.  Both weapons used broadhead arrows against unarmored targets and for hunting, and specialized bodkin point arrows or bolts to penetrate chain mail armor at short to medium range, and at close range even the plate armor worn by knights.

Shooting modern reproductions of those medieval weapons seems to confirm their reported maximum range.  For example, here's an English longbow being shot at a target 250 yards away.  (I've excerpted this segment from a longer video comparing shooting on the level to shooting from a castle tower.  The same people did another very interesting video comparing the longbow to a medieval crossbow - recommended.)

That video appears to confirm medieval claims about the range and effectiveness of a longbow.  It would certainly be able to strike a large target (e.g. a formation of troops on a battlefield) at distances of 250 yards or even further.  Of course, the archer wouldn't be able to guarantee hitting a particular soldier at that range;  he'd be shooting into the mass of men and hoping to hit any one of them.  To target an individual, he'd have to be much closer;  according to contemporary reports, not much further than 100 yards.

However, when I read modern articles and training materials about bowhunting, they all seem to stress that one shouldn't shoot over ranges longer than about 30 to 50 yards.  They caution that accuracy and killing power both fall to unacceptably low levels at greater ranges.

Why is this?  If our distant forefathers could routinely deploy bows as serious battlefield weapons over hundreds of yards, and take deer at up to 100 yards or even further (if reports from those times are true), why can't our more modern, technologically advanced bows do at least as well?  Or are we simply too safety-conscious, and trying to limit bow shots by people who don't practice nearly as often as a medieval bowman would?  Is there any reason why a modern bow or crossbow should not be just as capable, and just as deadly, as their medieval counterparts over similar ranges?

I'd appreciate input from those who know more about the subject than I do.  Thanks!


Memes that made me laugh 198


Gathered from around the Internet over the past week.  Click any image for a larger view.

Sunday, February 25, 2024

Sunday morning music


Have you ever heard of National Public Radio's "Tiny Desk Contest"?

NPR Music's Tiny Desk Contest is back. As of this morning, artists can submit an entry for the opportunity to play their own Tiny Desk concert, go on tour with NPR Music — and more. This isn't just another regular year of the Contest — it's the 10th anniversary, and it's going all out.

. . .

Here's how to enter:

1. Record a video of you playing one original song — behind a desk.

2. Upload your video to YouTube.

3. Submit the video on our Tiny Desk Contest website by Feb. 21 at 11:59 p.m. ET.

There's more at the link.  Entries, of course, closed on Wednesday last week.

The submission from The Boston Typewriter Orchestra caught my eye.  Clearly inspired (?) by Leroy Anderson's 1950 composition "The Typewriter", they "improved" on his approach by dispensing with the orchestra and using multiple typewriters, played (?) by clearly inspiration-frustrated performers.  They titled their piece "Selectric Funeral".

Let's set the scene with a performance of Leroy Anderson's ground-breaking (?) work by the Brandenburg Symphony Orchestra in 2012.  Sadly, the name of the soloist is not listed.

And here's The Boston Typewriter Orchestra's attempt to improve (?) on it, "Selectric Funeral".

If they win, they'll apparently go on tour with their "composition".  One trusts there'll be adequate provision for backup electricity generation in case the power goes out . . . or would a power failure merely add to the "performance art" atmosphere?

If you're interested, you'll find many previous and current entries in the Tiny Desk Contest at Youtube.

(One final question.  If the fastest ship crossing the North Atlantic wins the Blue Riband, does the fastest typist - musical or otherwise - win a Blue typewriter Ribbon?)


Saturday, February 24, 2024

Saturday Snippet: A change of pace


Normally I post an excerpt from a book on these regular Saturday Snippets.  However, this week I was pleased to discover an old British comedy movie titled "Mr. Drake's Duck", released in 1951.  The plot centers around a duck that lays radioactive eggs - and that's just the start of the fun.  It stars Douglas Fairbanks Jr. along with several British movie stars of the day.  I found it charmingly old-school:  funny without being crude, sending up science and the military of the day with barbarous impartiality, and reminding me of the days when innocent fun really was innocent.

Therefore, instead of a book excerpt, here's a movie.  Enjoy!

If you like this sort of thing, I may put up a link to an old movie of this kind once a month or so.  Let me know in Comments.


Friday, February 23, 2024

Inflation: Food is costing more and more - but so is everything else


We've warned several times over the past few years in these pages about the rising cost of food (particularly when one takes the actual rate of inflation into account, rather than the carefully massaged and politically correct figures provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics).  I said in September 2022 that my household's actual annual inflation rate (the prices we're paying for the things we buy, as opposed to the "general" basket of goods analyzed by the BLS) had exceeded 30%.  A little more than a year later, Karl Denninger confirmed that figure from his own experience.  As far as our wallets can tell us, nothing has yet changed for the better.

Even using the BLS's figures, distorted as they are by political factors, things aren't looking great.  The Wall Street Journal reports:

Eating continues to cost more, even as overall inflation has eased from the blistering pace consumers endured throughout much of 2022 and 2023. Prices at restaurants and other eateries were up 5.1% last month compared with January 2023, while grocery costs increased 1.2% during the same period, Labor Department data show.

Relief isn’t likely to arrive soon. Restaurant and food company executives said they are still grappling with rising labor costs and some ingredients, such as cocoa, that are only getting more expensive. Consumers, they said, will find ways to cope.

“If you look historically after periods of inflation, there’s really no period you could point to where [food] prices go back down,” said Steve Cahillane, chief executive of snack giant Kellanova, in an interview. “They tend to be sticky.”

. . .

Cahillane said that as consumers become accustomed to seeing higher prices on supermarket shelves, they will adjust.

“Just like a gallon of gas, it becomes the new price and people get begrudgingly used to it,” he said.

There's more at the link.

What Mr. Cahillane fails to take into account is that cash-strapped consumers may not be able to adjust.  Family disposable income has to be allocated between many needs:  housing, clothing, transport, insurance, and other needs besides food alone.  When everything is getting more expensive, hard choices may have to be made.  For example, I've just had to spend almost $2,000 as a co-pay on a medical procedure (being the beginning of a new year, we have to meet our new annual medical insurance deductible, so such costs will be higher until we've done that).  That wasn't planned, and wasn't in our budget.  Without our (now somewhat smaller) emergency fund for a rainy day, we wouldn't have been able to afford it, and we'd have had to tighten our belts in many ways (including our food expenditure).

I'm aware that in poorer areas of this country, particularly some Native American reservations and farming areas, families are already reduced to eating a great deal of soup and home-made bread rather than buying anything more nutritious.  (As a retired pastor, I can tap into the reports being circulated among pastors in those areas.)  Certainly, my wife and I find ourselves increasing our contribution to food banks in our area, because they're overrun with needy families who can't make ends meet without such assistance.

I'll be grateful if you, dear readers, would share with us how you're coping with rising prices, particularly of food, but also including other necessities.  Are you battling to cope, as we are?  Do you see any light at the end of the tunnel that isn't an oncoming train?  Please share with us in Comments, so we can all learn from each other.



So who's running the country? Not this man...


The Daily Mail in the UK has published a devastating leak about President Biden's daily routine.  We've said here before that he's clearly, visibly not competent to run his own life, let alone the country.  If this report is correct, that's not half of it.

The president is not at his Oval Office desk until at 10am and usually leaves at 7pm – Obama, by comparison, began an hour earlier.

Aides schedule most of his public events between 10am and 4pm because, White House insiders say, 'that is when he is at his sharpest.'

His news conferences are heavily limited, and he has clocked just half the number of them compared to Obama. He is often late to them, by up to an hour – aides refer to this tardiness as 'Biden Time'. Follow-up questions are heavily limited in case disaster strikes, as it did recently when he got the Egyptian premier's name wrong.

The fear of him tripping has consumed his aides and forced the Secret Service to put an extra agent at the bottom of the small Air Force One stairs, in case he repeats one of his calamitous stumbles.

To mitigate that risk, the commander-in-chief also tends to opt for slip-resistant sneakers rather than dress shoes that would usually go with a $2,000 custom Italian suit he pairs with.

These insights into the working day and life of the frail 81-year-old lend a new significance to the fundamental question facing voters - and the world: Does Biden have the mental acuity and physical energy to serve another term in the White House?

. . . has interviewed West Wing aides and experts to delve into how Biden's staff make sure the frailties that could do further damage to his 2024 campaign aren't exposed – and what they reveal tell their own compelling story.

There's more at the link.  Go read the whole thing.  It's important.

There's enough detail in the report that it should be easy enough to verify it . . . provided that the team managing and - dare I say it? - controlling President Biden would allow that.  They won't, of course.  They've been engaged in nothing less than elder abuse with him for years now.  His condition has been visibly and obviously deteriorating right throughout that time, and they've kept right on doing it.  They don't seem to care about him at all - only about holding on to the power he represents.

I used to think that the situation with President Biden was analogous to the treatment of President Wilson by his wife and staff following the latter's stroke in 1919.  Sadly, I think it's a lot worse than that today.  It's gone on longer, it's far more blatant, and it's clear that President Biden doesn't understand how he's being used, manipulated and exploited.

How any American with a conscience can stand for this is beyond me - but then, conscience is out of fashion these days.  Instead, we have gushing praise and support for President Biden from the left-wing progressive side of national politics.  Try these headlines:

That last link is particularly sickening in its sycophancy.  Try this paragraph:

I’m a little more bullish than most about living in a gerontocracy, especially in this era of diminishing attention spans. It makes sense to view the accumulation of experience and wisdom that often comes with time as desirable attributes in a president, someone whose ability to cut through noise and ignore distractions must be unmatched. Environmental activist Bill McKibben actually says that on one issue in particular, climate change, age may be Biden’s “superpower.”

Compare that highlighted sentence with the Daily Mail's report, and what we see of the President on our television screens every day.  Just watch this TV news report about an event held at the White House last year, with President Obama celebrating the anniversary of his health care reform.

Watching President Biden's demeanor and behavior in that footage, I think it does far more to confirm the Daily Mail's story than deny it.  It seems we may be living in a country whose nominally elected leader appears to be neither elected (without cheating, that is) nor a leader.

That's one of my reasons for hoping President Trump doesn't run for re-election:  his age.  Sure, at present he appears to be fully in control of himself (well, to the extent that he can be - his off-the-cuff remarks still make me cringe sometimes), but that can't be guaranteed to continue.  Age-related incapacity catches up to all of us, some earlier, some later.  I'd much rather see a younger person elected to the Presidency, to minimize that risk.  The job of President is too important to risk age-related degeneration in its holder, particularly when those around the Oval Office, and politicians in Congress and the Senate, can't be trusted to act for the good of the country if that happens.  (Acting for the good of their party and themselves is, sadly, another matter.)


Thursday, February 22, 2024

You can no longer believe almost any news reports at all


Elon Musk put his finger on the pulse of one of our biggest problems in a recent tweet.

He's absolutely correct, of course.  There's so much propaganda, counter-propaganda and fabrication flying around that to determine the accuracy (or otherwise) of any claim, report or description is almost impossible for average Joes and Janes like you and I.

A few examples, some well-known, some obscure:

  • The Wellness Company (TWC) encourages us to "Get well and stay well with solutions designed by top doctors".  It boasts some very well-known names among its experts, including some of the leading lights of resistance to the COVID-19 vaccine - something that lends it credibility among those who regard COVID-19 as a manufactured illness designed to help Big Brother become even bigger and more ubiquitous.  It's also advertising on right-of-center Web sites such as Zero Hedge.  On the other hand, it's been alleged that TWC is a false front:  "... a closer look into this company reveals the involvement of some very questionable individuals. This, in turn, leads to explosive revelations regarding close ties to Big Pharma, and deep connections to the intelligence community ... "  That's all very well, except that the author of those allegations is a self-proclaimed "community organizer" who's written some very anti-right-wing, anti-conservative articles.  Is she an objective, trustworthy source?  Do we believe the company, or its detractors?
  • As we saw yesterday, there are allegations that President Trump is using and exploiting the controversy over court rulings against him to bolster the value of his shareholding in a social media company.  Is this deliberate on his part, or is it something over which he has no control?  His detractors allege the former;  his supporters would adamantly deny that.  Who's telling the truth?  Similarly, a prosecutor in Georgia pursues President Trump for alleged violations of the law - but she is herself tarnished by allegations that she has abused her office and her position in such a way that make her impartiality suspect, to put it very mildly.  Indeed, the entire justice system in that Georgia county raises all sorts of ethical and moral dilemmas - or does it?  Is the negative reporting about it as politically biased as the allegations against President Trump are said to be?  Who decides?  Meanwhile, who do we believe?
  • The war between Russia and Ukraine delivers far more propaganda than fact.  Reports from different sources insist that one side or the other is winning;  that one side or the other is guilty of atrocities;  that one side or the other is more or less corrupt than the other;  that weapons, technology, manpower and other issues favor one side more than the other.  Such reports are ubiquitous and unceasing - and we can't believe any of them, because neither side (not to mention their supporters) has any interest in telling the truth.  The "fog of war" is something they're both exploiting to bolster their propaganda position.  Neither side is trustworthy, and there are no truly independent, objective witnesses to report the facts.
  • News media are all too often not "news" media at all.  They may have few, if any, journalists on their own staff.  Instead, they disseminate "news" that comes from a central corporate office, which in turn may be influenced by advertisers, politicians and corporate management.  The video below provides a very well-known example of such central control.

So, how do we determine what's worth believing, and what is merely another attempt to blind, mislead and deceive us?  Here's what I do when the subject is important to me (I can't possibly do it for everything, or I'd be busy all day, every day, doing nothing but digging for details!).

  • I make sure to read up to half a dozen news sources every day, spread evenly across the political and ideological spectrum, so as to get different perspectives on the same events or reports.  In particular, I read reports from overseas news media as much as I do US media.  It's interesting (and eye-opening) how a report about events in, say, Japan looks from a US perspective versus its reporting in Japanese media - not to mention how foreign media view developments in the USA.  Who's right?
  • I never trust any single source.  If I can corroborate a report from at least two or three other sources, I give it a certain amount of credence;  more so if they're from different ideological positions, less so if they all think and report the same way.
  • It takes time for the truth to come out.  Reports in the first 24-48 hours after an incident are often only partly accurate, because they don't have access to all the information.  I prefer to wait at least 72 hours before making up my mind, because that gives time for more details to emerge.
  • If a report is found largely in outlets of one particular ideology or political viewpoint, but not in others, I tend to distrust it instinctively.  If it's that real, that factual, why isn't it being reported across the board?  In the same way, if one perspective affirms it unthinkingly while the other denies it (equally unthinkingly), it's much more likely to be propaganda than fact.  I have to get clear of the "smoke and mirrors" and ignore the hype if I want to learn the truth.
  • I try to steer clear of media that provide mostly opinions on or interpretations of the news, instead of reporting it factually.  Unfortunately, there are precious few of the latter these days.  That means I may have to rely on media that are influenced by partisan perspectives - which means I have to identify that perspective ahead of time, and read their report(s) with that "weighting" or slant in mind.  I think the late President Reagan put it very wisely in a different context:  "Trust - but verify."
  • I never, ever believe any statement by a politician unless I've checked, double-checked and rechecked it for accuracy.  As H. L. Mencken warned us:  "The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary."  Our present politicians (with one or two honorable exceptions, but only one or two) live down to his dictum.
Finally, I cling to the late Robert Heinlein's wisdom as I would to a lifeboat in a storm at sea.

What are the facts? Again and again and again – what are the facts? Shun wishful thinking, ignore divine revelation, forget what “the stars foretell,” avoid opinion, care not what the neighbors think, never mind the unguessable “verdict of history” – what are the facts, and to how many decimal places? You pilot always into an unknown future; facts are your single clue. Get the facts!

Amen!  Unfortunately, the chances of getting those facts from any single news report today are slender, to say the least.  It takes effort if we want to know the truth - but without that effort, we won't know the facts at all.  We'll be navigating blind through thick fog, not knowing where we are or where we're headed - and that's potentially deadly.


A forgery, but... why???


I'm puzzled by this report.

A 280 million-year-old fossil thought to be a well-preserved specimen of an ancient reptile is largely a forgery, according to new research.

The fossil, initially discovered in the Italian Alps in 1931, has the scientific name Tridentinosaurus antiquus. Scientists thought the dark, deep outline of the lizardlike body encased in rock was skin and soft tissue, and they considered the fossil to be a puzzle piece for understanding early reptile evolution.

. . .

A new, detailed analysis has revealed that the dark color of the fossil isn’t preserved genetic material ... researchers determined that the body outline was carved in the rock and painted with “animal charcoal,” a commercial pigment used about 100 years ago that was made by burning animal bones. The carving also explained why the specimen appeared to retain such a lifelike shape, rather than appearing flatter like a genuine fossil.

. . .

Intriguingly, there are actual bones within the fossil. The hind limbs, although in poor condition, are real, and there are also traces of osteoderms, or scalelike structures. Now, the researchers are trying to determine the exact age of the bones and what animal they belonged to.

. . .

Rossi and her team can’t be entirely sure that the forgery was done on purpose.

“We believe that, since some of the bones are visible, someone tried to expose more of the skeleton, by excavating more or less where someone would expect to find the rest of the animal,” Rossi said. “The lack of proper tools for preparing the hard rock did not help and the application of the paint in the end was perhaps a way to embellish the final work. Unfortunately, whether all of this was intentional or not, it did mislead many experts in interpreting this fossil as exceptionally preserved.”

There's more at the link.

To my mind, this discovery raises even more questions than the original discovery.

  • Who did it, and why?  It obviously wasn't an attempt to gain publicity for an individual, because there was no fuss at the time of the "discovery" naming any individual as having found it.  If it wasn't for publicity, why did the researcher(s) responsible not simply document what they'd done, or simply discard the sample along with other debris of no scientific value?  I don't think anyone would have complained, given that they didn't destroy anything worthwhile in the process.
  • Why did nobody in the nearly a century since the "discovery" ask more questions about it?  Why was it left until 2021 to begin an investigation?  Clearly, it wasn't considered an important enough issue by previous generations of researchers.  What drew their attention to it so long after the fact?
  • Where did the actual bones discovered during the investigation come from?  Was there an Italian Kentucky Fried Chicken equivalent way back then, and did the originators of the "fossil" simply discard their dinner bones along with the ruined research material?  Did the investigation discover and analyze "eleven herbs and spices" on the fossilized remains?

I doubt we'll ever find answers . . . but it's an intriguing discovery.

Perhaps we should ask the same investigative team to take a long, hard look at the present inhabitants of the White House.  Are there, perhaps, fake fossils to be found there too?


Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Remember the Wagner Group? They've gone "respectable" (sort of)


Following its failed rebellion in Russia last year, and the death of its founder in a more-than-suspicious "aircraft accident", it looks like the Russian government has taken over the running of the mercenary Wagner Group and is exploiting it as the "thin edge of the wedge" in the Third World.  The BBC reports:

The multibillion dollar operations [of the Wagner Group in Africa] are now mostly being run as the Russian "Expeditionary Corps", managed by the man accused of being behind the attempt to murder Sergei Skripal using the Novichok nerve agent on the streets of the UK - a charge Russia has denied.

"This is the Russian state coming out of the shadows in its Africa policy," says Jack Watling, land warfare specialist at the Royal United Services Institute (Rusi) and one of the report's authors.

. . .

The three West African states with close links to Wagner - Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso - have all experienced military takeovers in recent years. They have since announced their withdrawal from the regional bloc Ecowas, and the creation of their own "Alliance of Sahel States".

. . .

"What the Russians have provided is a strike force, with helicopters with advanced capabilities and a lot of firepower," says Dr Watling. "They are using pretty traditional Soviet anti-partisan methods. You see fighters who were executed, as well as civilians targeted for enabling or being associated with fighters."

There have been multiple claims that Wagner forces carried out human rights abuses on the African continent, as well as in Ukraine and Syria, where Prigozhin's organisation previously held a commanding presence.

. . .

In exchange for considerable, if brutal, security assistance, Wagner required something in return.

Mali, like many African nations, is rich in natural resources - from timber and gold to uranium and lithium. Some are simply valuable, while others have strategic importance as well.

According to Dr Watling, Wagner was operating in a well-established tradition: "There is a standard Russian modus operandi, which is that you cover the operational costs with parallel business activity. In Africa, that is primarily through mining concessions."

. . .

Following the full-scale invasion of Ukraine, many in the Western security apparatus say that Russia's mask has slipped.

"What they are looking to do is to exacerbate our crises internationally. They are trying to start fires elsewhere, and expand those that already exist, making a less safe world," Dr Watling.

"Ultimately, it weakens us in the global competition that we are currently facing. So the impact is not immediately felt, but over time, it is a serious threat."

There's more at the link.

There have been many reports, and even more rumors, about what Wagner Group is up to in Africa.  I have a number of contacts across that continent, and I've been hearing interesting things from them.  (Amongst other things, I was told that following the Wagner uprising in Russia, a number of its operatives there and in Africa were recruited by the French Foreign Legion, an organization that's very familiar with African operations and has long employed a significant number of soldiers from the former Soviet Union and its satellites.  It would be logical for the Foreign Legion to be eager to supplement its ranks with more of the same, particularly since many of them are combat veterans.)  Given, too, Wagner's somewhat criminal inclinations in Russia and Ukraine, it's not surprising that many of its operatives would have no qualms about strong-arming African nations and their people into "cooperating" (at the point of a gun, if necessary) with Russian interests.

It's very convenient for a nation-state to have a nominally independent group that it can use, then deny, as a less-than-official strong-arm squad to assist its foreign policy objectives.  Wagner might as well be tailor-made for such purposes.

(One wonders how many former Wagner operatives are now employed by US three-letter agencies?  They would bring an undoubted ruthlessness to the field that US operatives may lack.  There are stories circulating . . . )


I don't know if this is true or not - but if it is, it's hilarious


Marketwatch is in a bit of a froth at the prospect of President Trump suddenly becoming much, much richer.

Away from the headlines, Donald Trump has just made a staggering sum of money, all of it driven by the publicity from his campaign for the White House. (A terribly, terribly cynical person might even suggest that is part of the point.)

How much? Forget these fines, which add up to less than $500 million. Trump is suddenly on track for a windfall of nearly $4 billion. And he has made most of it just in the five weeks since his big win in the Iowa caucuses put him in pole position for the Republican presidential nomination.

The windfall is from the forthcoming IPO of his social-media platform, called Truth Social, which he launched — amid massive derision from the mainstream media, I might add — in 2021 after he was kicked off Twitter following the events of Jan. 6, 2021. 

. . .

Under terms of the deal, which has been in the pipeline since 2021, Trump personally is set to end up with 79 million shares in the company when the deal is complete, possibly as soon as this quarter ... That values Trump’s personal stake in the company at $3.8 billion — up $2.5 billion just since winning in Iowa over Ron DeSantis and Nikki Haley, et al. Who says it costs money to run for president?

There's more at the link.

I have no axe to grind in this matter.  I'm not a Trump fanboi, and I have serious reservations about the prospects for another Trump term as President;  but I accept that at present, he's the only meaningful candidate for the White House next year.  I also accept that the legal actions against him are nothing less than lawfare, a deliberate and prima facie corrupt attempt to knock him out as a political candidate to the benefit of other candidates.  They're so over-the-top it's ridiculous, and I hope that those responsible for them (and those who impose such ridiculous penalties) face legal consequences for their malfeasance.

It would be too delicious if the establishment hits President Trump with multi-hundreds-of-millions of dollars in fines and penalties, only to find that all the publicity and negativity they've stirred up produces billions of dollars in windfall income for him.  Talk about the biter bit - not to mention the fines paid from the profits!

Pass the popcorn . . .


I fear this may be true...


This meme is currently circulating on social media.  Clickit to biggit.

The sad thing is, I'm afraid it's true.  I know many of my readers have been watching "the signs of the times" for several years, and are aware that we're staring down the barrel of real political, social, economic and cultural unrest.  However, there are still plenty of people who refuse to accept that things can't go on as they are.  They really seem to believe that we can run annual deficits in the trillions of dollars, cope with real inflation rates that are well into double digits, and absorb millions upon millions of alien "migrants" who are effectively an invasion of our First World society by the Third World.

It can't go on.  It won't go on.  The signs of deterioration are all around us . . . but so many people refuse to look at them.  I have no idea why they do that, but they do.

I guess it's up to us to prepare ourselves, our families, our relatives and our friends as best we can for what lies ahead.  For those who won't listen, I guess they're going to be on their own when things go haywire.

That's a tragic and troubling thought.


Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Work smarter, not harder


From XKCD.  Click the image for a larger view, and click here to go to the cartoon's Web page.

If you aren't reading XKCD regularly, you're missing out on a great comic strip.  It's updated two to three times every week.  Highly recommended.


Every "blue" city is becoming more and more like this


Courtesy of Borepatch, I came across this utterly ridiculous city budgeting and expenditure procedure in San Francisco.  It's worth watching if only for the comedy value - and because it's better to laugh at it than cry about it.

The problem is, all that bureaucracy and paperwork offers immense opportunities for graft and corruption.  The powers that be can simply hide their monetary peculations in the mass of documentation and required procedures, making it very difficult (if not impossible) to prove what they're up to.

Sometimes they don't even bother to hide it, because they know they'll get away with it.  The latest example comes from New York City.

Earlier this month, The Post broke the story that Mayor Adams is giving out pre-paid cash cards to migrants.

. . .

This debit-card program — if you read the actual contract — has the potential to become an open-ended, multi-billion-dollar Bermuda Triangle of disappearing, untraceable cash, used for any purpose.

It will give migrants up to $10,000 each in taxpayer money with no ID check, no restrictions and no fraud control.

Why give debit cards out?

When The Post exposed the mayor’s debit-card program earlier this month, the mayor’s office spun it as a money-saving program, to solve a problem: migrants staying in hotels don’t eat all their food.

. . .

It wouldn’t be that difficult for the city to solve this problem: on-site city auditors could refuse to pay for meals that are objectively inedible, with visible mold, for example, or with expired labeling.

Instead of assuring that its existing no-bid “emergency” contractor fulfills its duty to provide edible food, however, the Adams administration has solved its problem by retaining a new no-bid “emergency” contractor — to provide a service with far more scope for waste, fraud, and abuse than stale sandwiches: giving out potentially billions of dollars of hard cash, few questions asked.

There's more at the link.

The article includes an analysis of why the Mayor gave the contract for administering the program to a single, new-on-the-block vendor with no competitive bidding process.  The entire affair stinks to high heaven of corruption and fraud . . . but will anything be done about it?  No.  It's just New York City politics and wheeler-dealing at work - and to hell with ratepayers' money.  (That being the case, how many migrants do you think will end up with $10K each, versus how much of that $10K will be eaten up by "expenses" or "administrative fees" or "community service costs"?  And how much will end up as donations to local politicians' "re-election campaigns"?)

Friends, this is what life is like in left-wing-dominated cities.  They're all like that.  I don't know of a single one that could be described as honest, above-board and incorrupt in its dealings.  If you do, please let us know in Comments.  (Republican-controlled cities aren't much better, of course;  they're just - usually, but not always - more careful in how they skim off the graft.)

I've said for years that you need to get out of big cities.  This is just one more reason to do so.