Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Speaking of Bizarre Statistical Claims

The ever-reliable BBC runs a headline claiming that world wildlife populations have declined by 52% in the last forty years.

I find that rather incredible, but, of course, my observations are based on North American wildlife, like deer and coyotes.  Our wildlife populations have experience manifold increases in my lifetime, perhaps a little less so in the last forty years, though when I came back to Missouri after a decade in Texas, it seemed that I saw more deer more often than I did in the '70s and early '80s.

There is no doubt that habitat destruction, as a function of growing human populations, in tropical regions of the world has been adverse to species such as elephants and the big cats. 

The London Zoological Society has created a new "Living Planet Index" to track wildlife populations.  The methodology sounds a little fuzzy, but it is filtered through the sparse, pickled gray matter of journalists, so we shouldn't jump to conclusions. 

The society's report, in conjunction with the pressure group WWF, says humans are cutting down trees more quickly than they can re-grow, harvesting more fish than the oceans can re-stock, pumping water from rivers and aquifers faster than rainfall can replenish them, and emitting more carbon than oceans and forests can absorb.
All of that is undoubtedly true in some regions.  Well, except for the "carbon" bravo sierra.  There are a lot of humans on the planet, but I'm old enough to clearly remember 1970 when we were all going to be dead from overpopulation in five years.  Soylent Green, which I saw in the theater -- perhaps not the ideal date movie, was released in 1973 and set in 2022 -- eight years from now.

Totalitarian regimes killed multiplied millions in the 20th Century in the name of economic enlightenment and progress.  My guess is that the next big kill-off of humans by starvation and disease will be in the name of saving the planet.  While I rather wish sometimes there were fewer people on earth -- especially when I'm stuck in traffic somewhere -- I am not comfortable enabling the UN or some other body of do-gooders to get involved in controlling development, exploitation, and allocation of resources.

These kinds of articles all seem aimed at dwellers in the urban and suburban areas of the First World.  One can imagine youthful whites in Europe and North America reading this on their iPhones while sipping a seven-dollar frapp√© in their selvedge jeans and thinking how awful it is that those dark people are allowed to destroy the idyllic rainforests at the behest of evil corporations.    

I don't want a world where the only tigers are in the zoo, and the key to saving tigers is saving habitat.  I also very much do not want to kill a couple hundred million Indians to achieve that goal.  I'm not so sure the elites in academia, government, and the corporate world share my reservations.  

We must credit the BBC for giving space to dissenting voices.  The co-director of the United Kingdom's National Centre for Statistical Ecology is Stephen Buckland.  "Statistical Ecology" -- I like that.  Buckland sounds a note of sanity:

"It is clear that declines are occurring, and at a more rapid rate in tropical areas with high diversity than in temperate areas where much of our diversity was lost long ago.
"But there is the question in the Living PIanet Index of why some populations are monitored when others are not. Those in decline are perhaps of greater interest, and hence more likely to be monitored, than those that are stable or increasing. For practical reasons, populations that are more impacted by man are more easily monitored.
"Further, the quality of the data is highly variable from one population to another, and some population trends are likely to be biased. So is there a decline? Certainly. Are animal numbers around 52% lower than 40 years ago? Probably not."

Emphasis added. 

Monday, September 29, 2014

Black Coffee

For Christmas one year, the company put a big coffee machine with a guy to run it in the lobby.  This was the early '90s.  There were two options, espresso or cappuccino.  The kid in front of me had never had either, but it was free, so he was going to try it.  Times have changed.  We were so innocent in Big D back then.

He asked the guy running the machine which one he ought to get.  The machine man says, "Do you like the taste of coffee?"  "Not really," the kid says.  The man fixed him up with a cappuccino.  I got the espresso, of course.  I would have gotten a quad, but there were people behind me.  On the rare occasions I buy coffee at someplace like Starbucks, I'm usually drinking with someone else so I get an Americano because it lasts longer. 

For coffee, black is where it's at -- 5 reasons to take it all black. 

And old Steve Marriot thought so, too.  One of my favorites.
 

A lot of my memories are associated with coffee.  I remember driving all night from Tahoe through to Heber, Utah with a buddy of mine on the way back from California in the '70s.  We were young and not overly smart, and it was summer, and my car had no air conditioning.  We were getting tired of the heat.  I had been driving up the coast from Long Beach all that day, and, thinking I was invincible, I figured I could drive all night.  It might have worked better if we hadn't smoked quite so much reefer.  As it was, by 2:00 or 3:00AM, somewhere in the mountains, neither one of us could stay awake more than fifteen minutes at a time.  We were beat by the time we walked into that cafe in Heber and ordered breakfast.  I still remember those big china cups of coffee that the waitress wouldn't let us empty.  In some ways, it was the best part of the whole trip. 

Friday, September 26, 2014

The Religion of Pieces?

In Moore, OK, a man who had tried to convert others to Islam stabbed and beheaded a woman at his former place of employment.  He had been fired from his job so we could assume he was seeking revenge for that.  After brutally murdering 54-year-old Colleen Hufford, Alton Nolen went after another female employee:

Sgt. Lewis says Nolen was attacking another woman when an off-duty sheriff’s deputy, who was also the former CEO of the business, shot him multiple times with a rifle.

I got the link from Denninger who riffs on the Second Amendment implications.

This doesn't sound too much like the thug was an agent of ISIS on jihad, but who knows what inspired him. 

I'm not too worried about how long the lethal injection drugs take to finish off Mr. Nolen.  The guillotine would be the more appropriate end.  I wouldn't count on being able to plead out for life in Oklahoma.  


Frontrunner To Replace Holder?

Kamala Harris, California Attorney General, female, part Jamaican, part Indian, full radical.  Like Holder, she is rabidly and irrationally opposed to the Second Amendment as an individual right, but I'm sure that's true of anyone Obama might nominate.  


Thursday, September 25, 2014

Defining Tyranny

Suppose you are walking down the street in some big city and get rapped on the head by a mugger who takes your watch, cell phone, and wallet.  A law has been broken, and a crime has been committed. 

You are a law-abiding citizen.  You don't shoot or stab people.  You don't rob liquor stores.  You don't even take illegal drugs.  A law-breaker doesn't really break the law.  He just don't abide by it.  When it comes to what he wants to do or what he (or she) needs, the law is ignored. 

I was not always as law-abiding as I am today.  Forty years ago, roughly, well over the statute of limitations, I used to smoke marijuana.  I liked it.  Back then you could buy an ounce bag for fifteen or twenty bucks.  Of course, to do that, you had to know someone who sold it and have a reasonable amount of trust in them.  As it happened, I made the acquaintance of an ol' boy who had gotten some good South American seeds and was growing quite potent reefer in large quantities.  He liked being circumspect and was careful about who he sold to.   He would sell me a pound for, I think (I was stoned a lot), $120.  I would divide out eight one-ounce bags and sell them to people I knew and trusted for $15 each.  I would have half a pound of dope to smoke -- free.  I was stoned a lot.  I did this a number of times -- the number escapes me.   

The trouble is that sometimes my "friends" would bring by their "friends" looking to score some dope.   One weekend I came back to the cheap little apartment I kept in town to find it had been broken into, my stereo equipment stolen along with around eighty albums.  And my stash of reefer.   No one except someone who had smoked with me would have known to look for the dope.  They didn't tear up the place to find it.  They had a good idea where to look -- went right to it.

I reported the theft to the local police -- except for the part about the dope.  They came, took the report, shrugged and left. 

I was a law-breaker.  I ignored the law that I did not think ought to apply to me.  I would not have stolen from anyone or done harm to anyone.  I just wanted to smoke cheap dope.  One of my "friends" or friends' "friends" had decided that the law didn't apply to them and had broken in and taken stuff that I had paid for.

That's what crime is. 

The government -- our current government, says that certain laws apply to us but not to them.  If I point a gun at somebody, I will be charged with assault unless I am defending my life or property against aggression.  Cops point guns at people all the time and suffer no consequences.  Some of that is understandable -- if a person is a suspect in a crime, for example, or if someone reasonably appears to be a threat. 

The cops in Ferguson pointed guns at protesters and threatened them.  We're not talking about rioters, looters, and arsonists but lawful protesters.  That is assault, and those officers should be charged with the crime.  They won't be.  They won't even be disciplined because they are agents of the government and can ignore the laws.

When police search without warrants and seize the property of allegedly criminals without due process, they are ignoring the law.

When Obama starts bombing people without Congressional approval, he is ignoring the law.  When he threatens to enable and encourage illegal border crossing by executive order, he is saying he is above the law.

Nobody is above the law.  The definition of tyranny is having one set of laws for the subjects and another set of laws for the ruling class.  We have that in America today.  Congress exempts themselves from many of the laws they pass.  The regime has issued exemptions from the Obamacare requirements, delayed implementation of certain aspects, and changed the rules, all in violation of a law Congress passed and the president signed.  The law does not apply to them.  They don't have to enforce any law, and they can ignore a law if they so choose.

That's tyranny.  If a private citizen were doing it, it would be called a crime. 

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Martial Law

What do you call it when the authorities suspend or deny common rights, like travel, and subject people to random roadblocks and unwarranted searches?  When that is done in the name of security and safety, it sure looks like martial law. 

It's what they are doing in Pennsylvania, looking for Eric Frein, the "survivalist" who allegedly shot two PA state troopers, killing one. 

Areas are condoned off.  Residents' lives are disrupted.  They can't get home and have to sleep in their cars.  This has been going on for most of the past two weeks. 

How long are they going to keep it up?  As I recall, another FBI most-wanted fugitive, also named Eric -- Eric Robert Rudolph, the Olympic Park Bomber, evaded capture for four or five years.  He was apprehended more or less by chance by a local police officer.  The PA state police have broken out their big expensive, high-tech toys, advised citizens to "shelter in place", and it has done no good. 

One of my dad's hunting buddies, Wilbur, bought or traded for a coyote hound one time.  He was a good-looking dog, but he wasn't really interested in hunting. Wilbur observed that his dog had never had a tick on him, "Because he won't get out of the road."

I don't know what evidence they have this Frein is guilty, other than he abandoned his vehicle in a pond, along with, very conveniently, all of his identification.

What if this guy isn't your average psychopathic killer with a grudge against the cops?  I think it is remotely possible that he had something of a plan in place.  If he abandoned his vehicle, it's even conceivable that he had another mode of transportation available, that he had a stocked hideout somewhere outside of the area.  If this was not an impulsive act, it's unlikely that he did not plan some sort of escape route.

Understand that I do not condone the shooting of these officers or in any way view the perpetrator as any sort of hero.  I'm sure, too, that police are following leads and investigating all possibilities.  My point is that this kind of brute force stuff with roadblocks and tanks and ninjas is almost certainly a waste of time.  Like the show the cops put on in Boston looking for the Muslim bomber, it is optics, conditioning, and propaganda.  It's the same kind of BS the ATF was trying to pull when they raided the Branch Davidians' church in Waco.

It looks good on video.  It helps funding.  It also intimidates the law-abiding citizen, cows them to accepting that they must obey the authorities.    

I have commented on cases where the police have acted with unjustifiable force and haste in order to "protect" themselves.  I object to a police state and to many current law enforcement practices.  But, I respect the many good police officers who do their jobs honestly, lawfully and to the best of their abilities.  I don't want police officers killed by thugs or psychopaths.  They are out on the streets to apprehend criminals and defend the lives and property of citizens.  It's a tough job.  It's not the most dangerous job in the country, but it is dangerous. 

One of the spokesman, early on, called the shooter a "coward" for ambushing the officers.  I would ask the people who say that a question.  What do you call those hiding in tanks while hunting for this coward?  I'm not suggesting the police take unnecessary risks, but a six-and-a-half ton armored vehicle is not going to "sneak up" on anybody, nor is it likely to actually find the perpetrator if he is foolish enough to still be in the immediate area.  It is theater.  It is absurd. 

A few cops at bridges and intersections being shifted out every couple of hours to stay fresh and alert would do just as much if not more good than all this SWAT-ism.  Like the Boston bomber, it will likely be a citizen that spots Frein.  The key is having units in the area able to respond rapidly to any sightings.  

 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Small Ball

Sometimes the problem is just too many people.  I had never heard of Kohr, that I can recall, but what he says is in line with what I've been thinking for quite a while.

You can read the summary of Kohr's thinking at Zero Hedge.

It isn't just nations.  Yes, there are economies of scale, but there is also a point of diminishing returns.  Up to a point, it makes sense for farmers to "go big" as the odious Earl Butz insisted back in the '70s, and it makes sense for corporations to grow.  Everything, though, from a human body to a business to a nation reaches a happy, healthy, natural maximum.  Beyond that point, growth can become destructive, like cancer. 

Kohr posits the Power Theory of Aggression in which he suggests that there is a critical mass of population that becomes dangerous:

But there is one element capable of accumulating its physical substance so far and so unequivocally beyond the critical limit that no force on earth can check it. This is the immense collective bulk of the most courted organism of our time, the human mass, the people which, at a given size and density, not only generates the ideal condition of anonymity at which a greater number of individuals can, without danger of detection, sweep up critical quantity of power than would be possible at the more translucent lesser densities; at a given point the mass becomes itself so spontaneously vile that, in addition to the increased quantum of individual misdeeds, performed under the cloak of its darkening multitudes, it begins to produce a quantum of its own, and wholly detached, badness that bears a relationship to its size, but not to the nature of the human molecules composing it.

When this social volume is reached, everything becomes predictable, and nothing preventable. The question is then no longer: how many crimes will be committed, but who will choose in the freedom of his will to be the criminal tool of the law of averages
Kohr liked the American model of states distinct from the federal government.  It was still a model that worked fairly well even going into the late '50s when he was writing his treatise.  But population-wise, we were roughly half the size we are now.  Agriculture was still mostly family farms, most men worked in productive fields like mining, manufacturing and transport.  Government, especially the federal government, though already too intrusive for some, was still limited.  Public sector unions were not the force they are today, and schools were still mostly under local control. 

More unified, global governance was supposed to bring peace, prosperity, and security.  How is that working out for everybody?  I am sorry that my Scottish kinfolk did not opt for independence because I tend to believe, with Leopold Kohr, that the preservation of liberty and the answer to our problems lies with secession, decentralization, and dispersion of power. 

Monday, September 22, 2014

If Only We Had Separate But Equal

The reason there is so much violence in mostly black schools in Ferguson, MO is that there are white teachers:

In Elgin, Illinois, the black school board voted in March 2014 to stop hiring white teachers and hire more black teachers: “It is important that students have teachers who look like them,” remarked Vilma Sept, chairwoman of the U46 African-American advisory council, to the Courier News.
One reader ,"ben t", who, along with his wife, used to teach in a mostly black school makes an interesting comment:
We both experienced physical and verbal black racist abuse from pupils and parents, BUT THAT WAS OUTSIDE our own individual classrooms, and in the halls and the streets where our cars were parked. OUR OWN CLASSROOMS were always (almost) quiet and orderly. WHY? This sounds like bragging but my wife and I were born poor and raised in the toughest neighborhoods in Italian South Philly. We attended schools with substantial poor, black (and violent) student bodies. We knew first-hand all the tricks, behaviors, words coming from the Blacks. We never bought into the B.S. Liberal-Left, white, elitist concepts of  "white skin privilege" or that whites were all wealthy and blacks were all poor oppressed people. We demanded respect and GOT it. We demanded each, INDIVIDUAL student be responsible for their behavior or suffer the consequences of a poor education. We said and did things that, had administration known, could have gotten us fired. 

The problem lies with the school boards and the administrators.  You can have discipline and order and help educate kids who want to learn, or you can have chaos and increasing illiteracy and violence.  I went to high school with black kids, some average, some a little below, and some a little above.  Kind of like white people.  It has nothing to do with skin color and everything to do with family structure and motivation. 

Yes, you can put some more affirmative action teachers in classrooms in black neighborhoods and get all the white people out, and, while there may not be interracial violence, there will be little learning because you are addressing the symptoms of a sick system rather than the cause of the disease.  

When I was young we had forced busing to achieve racial integration because, if we force people to interact with one another, they will learn to get along.  That was stupid and a failure.  Now we find that white teacher can't understand " ... a lot of cultural differences ..." between themselves and their black students.  We honkies don't know what "Wassup" means.  The Wassup Rift, the great cultural divide.  More stupid.  More failure.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

What People Notice

Because I am so remarkably average except for my grotesquely huge head, I've been mistaken for other remarkably average people.  I used to work with a guy named Gary, who was a really good friend.  I would say there was some similarity between us as to body type. I'm about half a head taller and, back then, wore glasses, whereas Gary didn't.  We dressed in white button-down shirts and ties, and our sleeves were inevitably rolled up.  It was funny to us that people would so often confuse one of us for the other because, to one another, we looked nothing alike.

Some people think my nephew and I look alike, but he, to me, looks like his father, my late brother-in-law.

When I am clean-shaven, people sometimes say that I look like Jay Leno because I have that long upper lip, odd-looking mouth and a big chin.  From the nose up, we look nothing alike.  That's another reason I grew my mustache back.

That, too, has an interesting effect.  

I was in Home Depot last night, and we were joking with the clerks at the check-out.  One of the ladies said to me, "You look like that guy on television.  You know, the one who has the car show."  I had no idea who she was talking about.  "He goes around and looks at old cars.  Yes, you know."  I explained that the only time I see cable or satellite television is when we travel.  But my curiosity was piqued.

I have a big, white horseshoe mustache.  This guy has a big, white HANDLEBAR mustache, but I'm pretty sure he is who she meant -- and look who he is talking to. 

The point is not so much that I look like a pathetic old fart -- as true as that is, but that people tend to focus on prominent, distinguishing features.  Growing or shaving off a mustache isn't going to fool your family or facial recognition software, but it may throw off most people should you need to go incognito. 

Friday, September 19, 2014

Switches and Parents

The last time I saw even half of an NFL game was the Superbowl in 2009, and that only because my daughter was staying with us at the time.  I'll sometimes sit still for a few minutes of a Mizzou game or check the score on the radio if I happen to be in the house for a little while on Saturday.  The NBA does not appeal to me, but I'll be pulling for the new coach of the basketball Tigers, Ken Anderson, who played for MU while I was there getting my sheepskin and relaxing on the Rock.  I know who plays for the baseball Cardinals, and I check their scores and standings.  Otherwise, all the enthusiasm for sports, especially at the professional level, has passed me by.

What has been happening recently in the NFL is not improving the situation.  Some guy punches his wife-to-be in an elevator.  If it had not been for the security video, we would never had known about it because the woman wasn't interested in pressing charges and goes ahead with marrying him.  I'd say that's none of my business, but if his employer wants to fire him, they can.

The one that got my attention was Adrian Peterson who grew up in Palestine (stEEn not stIne), Texas, a town I am familiar with.  Peterson played for Oklahoma when Missouri was still in the Big 12.  Aside from his amazing running speed, he has always seemed like a typical, decent, small-town Texas kid to me.  Peterson is in trouble with his professional team, the Minnesota Vikings, because he took a switch to his son.  He broke the skin on the boy, which is something that shouldn't happen.  I would imagine that the mother is light to white and some light skins do tend to bleed easier than some darker skins.  I don't think Peterson meant to abuse his son.  He was legitimately trying to discipline him.  I have no problem with whipping kids.  I've even offered to do it for some parents when their children wouldn't shut up in the store.

As far as I know, no child has ever died solely from being switched.  My mom switched me a few times, but the one I remember distinctly involved a very solid oak one-by-four.  That was a beating.  I had it coming, and I don't blame Mom, but there was some risk of injury.  For our kids and grandkids I always just used my hand for a couple of swats on the butt, just to get their attention.  My dad, who often whipped my older siblings, never had to physically discipline me.  This is because I figured out very early that I was going to do whatever Dad said whether I wanted to or not.  Why add a whipping to the trouble?  I am considerable smarter than the other three.

Peterson was no doubt subjected to spanking by his parents who, like most good Christian people in the more rural parts of the South, believe that to spare the rod is to spoil the child.  Contrary to modern thought, I have not seen violent and anti-social behavior arise from corporal punishment.  My older brother, who was beaten far more than I was, is a wuss.  The kids I grew up with were apt to be whipped at home and at school yet most became productive, law-abiding citizens.   In fact , I would venture to guess that America was no more violent when corporal punishment was more common than it is today.

There seems to be more child abuse these days perhaps because parents do not understand the concept of corporal punishment.  My sister, for example, beat, I would even say, abused her first child, my oldest nephew.  She would beat him not to discipline him as much as because he made her angry.  Bad tempers do tend to run in the family, but she never bothered to control hers. Though he loved and respected his parents as he got older, this nephew could never play by the rules.  He was always out to prove he could beat the system.  Today, in middle age, he sits in a federal prison where he has been for the last ten years and probably will be for another ten. 

She seemed to have learned her lesson on him.  The other three are all college graduates and professional people.  They're kind of wiseguys and arrogant jackasses, but that, too, runs in the family.  It's not because they were spanked. 

My sister can be thankful there were not ubiquitous cell phone cameras around in the '60s and that the state's reach was not what it is today.  With my sister and my nephew, the beatings he took were a result of his willfulness coupled with his mother being a relatively young -- barely 19, inexperienced parent with a strong will of her own in a somewhat difficult marriage.

What Peterson has done is none of the NFL's business.  He went overboard, just as my sister did, partly because of the culture in which they were raised. In Peterson's case, I would guess that, as a very strong, young, athletic man, he misjudged the speed and severity of his blows.  I don't see that there was any intent on his part to abuse or physically harm his child.  A ruler or a wooden spoon might have been a better choice in his case.  I think it is sad that his career is being harmed by cultural bias, state interference, and the NFL's political correctness. 

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Congress Votes to Arm Syrian Rebels

It's a genius move; it worked so well in Libya.  My cynicism is really having a hard time keeping up with the government's stupidity. 

Is there an American ambassador in Syria?  Might want to get your flight booked because I wouldn't count on Obama and Hillary dodging sniper fire to rescue you when things go bad.

Now we may know why the White House was so eager to deny the possibility that Syrian rebels sold Steven Sotloff to ISIS.  It would be rather damning to find out that we were arming the allies and fellow travelers of the group we are fighting.

So it appears we have gone Full Retard.

Obama, as our brilliant CinC who engineered and all but carried out the raid that killed Bin Laden, has said this is not a war and ISIS is not Islamic and these Syrian rebels are the Good Muslim Fanatics.  As our generals keep saying that it is not possible to defeat ISIS without a full effort, Obama, with his vast store of military wisdom, denies that we need boots on the ground.

I'm almost as skeptical of our military leadership as I am of Obama's competence and intelligence.  The wisdom of skepticism and cynicism lies in asking questions about occult motives.  The military wants more money and power while the regime wants to cut military expenditures.  I don't want more American lives wasted in a lost cause, and I don't want more money wasted and the debt increased.

The United States cannot be trusted to tell the truth or even face the truth.  It has reached the point where you are closer to the truth believing the opposite of whatever the regime and most of Congress says. 

I am notoriously bad at prognostication, but this is what I expect:  the money and arms we send to these Syrian rebels will be used against Assad.  Assad may be overthrown, leading to further instability.  Iraq will come under full ISIS control, as will Syria and Lebanon, and Israel will be facing a united threat from the north, armed and funded by American dollars.  Kuwait and Jordan will be on the endangered list, and Islamists in Turkey will be encouraged and emboldened.

The only check to a major meltdown is if the Russians aren't too busy with Ukraine and are able to lend sufficient support to Assad or decide to get directly involved to prevent the spread of ISIS.   

Otherwise, at some point, after we have sufficiently mucked it up, we will decide -- probably for the children -- that we need to go in and clean it up.  And the butchers' bill will be high, and we will have to pay.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Southern Comfort -- Movie Recommendation

The original is Xenophon's Anabasis about the Ten Thousand, a collection of Greek mercenaries who were part of Cyrus the Younger's force in his failed attempt to wrest the crown of Persia from his brother, Artaxerxes.  When Cyrus was slain in battle, the Ten Thousand were left deep inside Persia surrounded by treacherous enemies, their leaders killed by betrayal.  Their only hope was to fight their way home "to the sea" through parts of what now constitute Iraq and Turkey. 

Director Walter Hill's first and more famous version of Xenophon's tale is the 1979 cult classic The Warriors about a NYC teenage gang trying to get back to their home turf on Coney Island.  Having been falsely accused of murdering the visionary leader of another gang, the Warriors are pursued by the police as well as the rival gangs through whose territory they must pass.

Southern Comfort was also directed by Hill and featured one of my favorite actors, Powers Boothe, along with Keith Carradine, Peter Coyote, Fred Ward, and Alan Autry ("Bubba" from "In the Heat of the Night" television series, credited as Carlos Brown).  Southern Comfort was seen at the time, 1981, as a metaphor for the American experience in Vietnam but so was Star Wars and practically every other movie that came out in the '70s and early '80s.  In fact, though I've never seen it, some have suggested that Saturday Night Fever is the quintessential Vietnam allegory.

The movie is set in Louisiana (location filming around Shreveport) in 1973.  A squad of Louisiana National Guard soldiers, "Weekend Warriors", set out on maneuvers which take them into the Cajun backcountry.  Faced with a long and unexpected water crossing, the nine soldiers decide to steal three pirogues they find on the bank.  The owners of the pirogues show up while the soldiers are still only a hundred yards or so from the shore.  One member of the squad foolishly fires his blank-loaded M16 at the Cajuns as a joke.  The Cajuns do not find it amusing and fire back, killing one soldier.  Thus begins the struggle of the rest of the squad to survive and get back "home".

Watching Southern Comfort, more than Vietnam, I was reminded of Deliverance.  The movie features some Cajun music near the end, especially "Parlez Nous √† Boire", which is a song I am familiar with from my BeauSoleil CD that can be translated as "let's talk about drinking and not about getting married".  Most of the soundtrack is intense, evocative acoustic work by the great Ry Cooder whose music I've been listening to for forty years now.

As was the case with Deliverance, the conflict is a clash of cultures and of views of reality.  Those from outside cannot understand the events that transpire.  It does not make sense to them.  While the soldiers appear to be well-equipped for their mission, their inability to comprehend the world in which the natives live puts them in peril.

While it is true this is somewhat like the lesson we should have learned in Vietnam, the application is much broader and more general.  We are, for the most part, insulated from life and death.  Most people cannot skin a squirrel for food let alone have any idea about butchering a hog as depicted in a naturalistic scene in Southern Comfort.  Our elders do not die with us but with strangers in nursing homes and sanitized hospitals.  Even our pets are euthanized with syringes by strangers.  We think human behavior can be explained and controlled by economic and social science theories. 

Before one of the soldiers is killed he laments, "I didn't do anything wrong.  I'm not supposed to be here."  That encapsulates the view held by the vast majority of citizens of First World nations.  We think if we only do the right, legal, socially-acceptable thing, if we are good people, nothing bad will happen to us.  Our enemies need only be convinced of our good will and good intentions.  We can reason with them. 

It would be nice if it were true, but it is not connected to reality.  The truth is that civilization has overcome barbarism only by force and violence.  The thugs on the street, the gang members, the third-world invaders, the drug cartels, and the Islamic militants will listen to our reason and perhaps engage in dialogue with us only until we turn our backs, until we drop our guard, until they have the advantage.  They are not interested in our intentions but in their own wants, needs, beliefs, and goals.  They are not interested in sharing or compromising when they can simply take what they want by overwhelming us, outvoting us, beating us or killing us.  They like our rules of civilized conduct, of compassion, mercy and respect so long as those rules bind and restrain us, for they do not intend to be bound by them.

Beyond being an engaging, well-done film with a good story -- which it is, Southern Comfort shows us something that we have mostly forgotten, that, in fact, some have never known.  With threats on our borders, enemies within our gates, and conflicts escalating around the world, it's time to learn.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Charity, Christianity, and Welfare

I may have talked about this before, but it something that irritates me.  It common to hear people talk about compassion and how we should care for the poor and those who cannot care for themselves.  Being generous and helping others, whether members of one's family, friends, neighbors, fellow church members, or those devastated by some natural disaster is a virtue.  It is a virtue encouraged and endorsed by none other than Jesus the Son of God Himself.

As a virtue, I have practiced it.  Despite my Scot surname, I am somewhat generous by nature.  I was taught as a child to be willing to share.  Anybody that ever walked through our kitchen door -- and everybody came in through the kitchen, was fed if they were willing to eat and sometimes if they weren't.

People don't want to eat much of my cooking, but I've bought food, fuel, and clothing for those who were short, and I've given cash to those who were wanting.  The world can be a tough place, and we all have needed or will need help from time to time.

Asking for help is acceptable.  Demanding help, or getting someone else, say, a government, to demand help at gunpoint, is not the same thing.  In the long run, welfare is always detrimental which is why any charitable assistance needs to be of limited duration.

Sloth is a sin -- one of the seven deadly sins, as they are called.  Theft is also a sin, whether one does the stealing hands-on or through a third party.   Retribution of wealth is a nice name for forcing those who work and have resources to pay a percentage to the mob government to hand over to those who will continue to vote for those who give them money.  Voting is the job of the welfare class. 

When we strip away the pleasant-sounding names, we should be able to see quite plainly that welfare has nothing to do with Christianity and everything to do with empowering government and politicians.  It does not matter to me, by the way, whether it is Democrats giving to black baby-makers in the inner city or Democrats and Republicans giving to white corporate fat cats on Wall Street.  Like the preacher and sin, I am ag'in it.

Christianity, on the other hand, is about personal responsibility and accountability as well as forgiveness and restoration.  The early church held their resources in common, it is true, but they held each person accountable for his or her honesty, integrity and behavior.  Those who would take advantage of others were chastened, as when Paul said those who should not work should not eat, either.  Even more telling about God's attitude were the consequences to Ananias and Sapphira when they tried to game the system.  Note that Peter did not condemn the couple for not giving one hundred percent but for trying to deceive God.  He is more interested in warm hearts than cold cash. 

Through welfare, we are creating the a breeding ground of indolence, victimhood, dependence and crime.  Those rich people like Buffet and Gates who are so concerned that they do not pay enough taxes are free to fund private charities that assist those in need much more efficiently than the vast government programs with their layers of money-absorbing bureaucrats.  Of course, Gates, Buffet, Soros and the rest favor and profit from the existing fascist system and simply use the welfare-bought votes of the parasites to keep it in place and expand its power.  

Christianity not only has nothing to do with the welfare state, it is at war with the mindset behind it. 

Friday, September 12, 2014

Signal to Noise in Ferguson

CNN reports two contractors witnessed the Michael Brown shooting in Ferguson:

"He had his f**n hands up," one of the men says in the video.
The man told CNN he heard one gunshot, then another shot about 30 seconds later.
"The cop didn't say get on the ground. He just kept shooting," the man said.
That same witness described the gruesome scene, saying he saw Brown's "brains come out of his head," again stating, "his hands were up."

Denninger comments here:

Gee, what will be next -- two guys who never met this dude before and are just a couple of contractors who happened to be in the wrong place at the right time...... and they not only made it up, they did it right on the spot too before anyone knew they were being recorded.

Oh, they also said they saw the cop shoot at him from the back.

The signal to noise ratio on this incident has been very high from the start.  Brown was a thief and a thug.  We have been distracted by the racial elements.  The rabble-rousers and race pimps like Sharpton have come in, not to give light, but to promote themselves and make a buck.  The low-life scum that invaded from outside Ferguson to loot and burn became the focus of far too much of the discussion, especially on the right side of the political spectrum, obscuring the crucial facts in question.

I cannot stand Eric Holder.  He is a corrupt, racist tyrant.  Our governor, Jay Nixon, like Obama, has no interest in the truth but in the political hay that can be made from this tragedy.  Yet, it is clear that some kind of outside, independent investigation is needed.  Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?  The Ferguson police cannot be trusted to oversee themselves.  The ranks will close around Wilson.  It should not be up to the cops to decide.  We need a grand jury, preferably from another county.    

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Did Syrian Rebels Sell Steven Sotloff to ISIS?

You can read the speculation here

The White House denies that there is any evidence to suggest this was done.  How did ISIS get their hands on Sotloff to make a show of his beheading?

Speaking for the family of the murdered journalist, Barak Barfi said that sources "on the ground" indicate that Sotloff was sold for $25,000 to $50, 000.  The spokesman says it is believed that "... Sotloff had been lured to a fake checkpoint after he crossed the border into Syria where ISIS captured him."

So why would the Obama regime bother to deny this assertion?  Remember Obama's "red line"?  That was to support the very Syrian rebels who may have been involved in Sotloff's capture and murder.

Assad, Mubarak, Gaddafi -- no one suggests that these are or were good guys.  We had already seen the havoc in Iraq caused by taking out Hussein -- though that did motivate Gaddafi to surrender his chemical and biological weapons.  Strongman rule bothers us as Americans, but it is preferable to a militant Islamic regime like Iran, the ongoing mess in Libya, and a monster like ISIS.

We have really put ourselves and our allies, especially Israel, into a difficult position.  This is not all Obama's fault, though his tendency to enthusiastically support terrorist organizations like the Muslim Brotherhood, the very Libyan rebels who murdered our ambassador, and the ISIS-affiliates in Syria have made matters worse.  Bush failed us by refusing to name the real enemy and unite us by formally declaring war.  He gave us the Patriot Act, Homeland Security, and the TSA, stealing the liberties of all rather than profiling and focusing on those who carry out these heinous deeds.  Our State Department is run by entrenched old-hippie bureaucrats -- as is the CIA.  But the main culprit turns out to be the Pentagon and the military command structure with officers more interested in promotions, politics, shiny toys and budget increases than in winning wars. The last fighting general we had -- with the possible exception of Schwarzkopf, was MacArthur who -- despite what revisionist historians say -- was fired by the idiot Truman for doing his job.  His job being to win wars not prolong or lose them or play twiddly-winks with the UN. 

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Bikes On Bacon

Motorcycle runs on bacon grease

This leaves me deeply conflicted.  On the one hand, I consider bacon grease far too valuable to use as fuel.  On the other hand, it would smell great, women would chase you, and you would offend Muslims. 

I just don't know.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Not Exactly Graceland

Via David Webb at Breitbart's "Conversation", we have an attack by feral Utes in Memphis shown in this report from TV station WREG.

The video was shot by someone in the Kroger store on their cell phone, and it's not nearly as comprehensive as the CCTV video from Springfield.  The report itself, though, is of interest.  I was particularly struck with the two gentlemen who are working with gang members, trying to address these issues.  One of them says that we should imagine all those kids doing yard work. 

That's something that worries me.  How is it that kids no longer have jobs and chores and responsibilities?  How do people suddenly transition from spoiled, over-sized infants into working, trustworthy, accountable adults when they reach some magical date on the calendar?  I'm pretty confident at this point that it does not happen through the efforts of our government indoctrination educational system.  Just a wild guess here but possibly we develop a sense of responsibility by having it modeled to us by our parents then practicing it in increasingly meaningful ways as we grow older -- which leaves the average urban youth without a lot of traction. 

The man who talked about yard work and behavior modification also said something rather ominous.  He predicted that if something is not done to stop this, in five to ten years, gangs will be running Memphis.

It's not just Memphis.  While I'm imagining hundreds of kids picking up trash, raking leaves and singing "Kumbaya", the other side of my imagination's split screen has scenes of Blackhawk Down playing out in various American cities.  Race-based gangs are elements of every one of our urban centers -- Detroit to Dallas and Des Moines and South Central to Springfield. 

It's been a while since I've seen the 1979 movie Warriors so I don't remember the exact numbers the gang leader Cyrus used in his call for the gangs to unite.  It was something along the lines of there being 20,000 cops in NYC and 60,000 gang members.  The gangs, Cyrus believed, could control the city. 

I am against the increasing militarization of our police departments, but organized and armed gangs are one of, if not the primary motivation driving this development.  It would be rather difficult to convince police departments facing gangs armed and equipped by Mexican and South American drug cartels to de-militarize. 

Friday, September 5, 2014

Criminal Ecology in Springfield, MO

The LiveLeak header has police calling this a 'hate crime'. 

Via the local news, Ms. Cole explains that the attack was not a hate crime but the continuance of an earlier sexual assault.

Cole's boyfriend and the father of her child (probably can't get married without losing Medicaid benefits for their bastard; nothing personal just English) works as a disc jockey at a club in downtown Springfield, MO.  Cole had gone outside the club when she was accosted and forcibly touched by a "group" of men.  She got away and went back inside to tell her boyfriend.  They, I would say, unwisely, went back out to get a better description of her attackers.  Presumably they were attacked as they were then leaving the area, thinking that the confrontation was over.

Cole strikes me as a native, if not of Springfield, at least of the region.  She comes off as your typical low-class white person, as our president might say, but she doesn't seem to be at fault here, aside from imprudence.  She is a scrappy, tough little redneck girl who, after being scared, became angry and wanted to punish her attackers.  That was reasonable, but, she didn't really consider the odds.  I give her boyfriend credit for nerve if not for sense. 

I can't fault him, though, because I know Cole's type, and she would never have let him forget that he backed down.  She reminds me of my wife and my granddaughter -- who inherited her grandmother's Crusader mentality.  Unfortunately, right does not always make might.  As you can see from the video, scrappy and defiant, while noble, has trouble overcoming a significant mass deficit. 

If you look at this map on any given day, you will usually see a cluster of pins dead-center in downtown -- right where this assault occurred just off the Square, mere yards from where the Wild Bill Hickok-Davis Tutt Shootout took place.  You can zoom in on the map and see where South Street comes off Park Central Square. 

Not only does nothing good happen after midnight, not a whole lot good happens around the Square after dark.  Last summer, I took my train-obsessed grandson down to Commercial Street, and we crossed the "historic" footbridge over the train tracks while his mom and grandma waited for us by the car.  This was before sundown, and what they call the C-Street district was already rife with bums and loiterers.  I was unarmed, except for a few knives.  While I wasn't concerned, I would not have left my wife and daughter there alone outside of a vehicle after dark even for the fifteen or twenty minutes it took us to cross the bridge, check out the trains and discuss various manly issues.

In my opinion, this couple was fortunate to come out of the incident with minor injuries.  Had the police not had a presence nearby and been able to respond quickly, do you think the thugs would have been content to shove and run?  

 One of the lessons that is obvious is that these type do not attack looking for a fight.  They like overwhelming odds in their favor.  I counted six, including the larger person who came in late, threw the man down, and got in a few cheap shots (rather like a mastiff coming in to clean up after the terriers have brought the prey to bay).  The DJ may not have done a lot of damage to his attackers, but he didn't quit.  Part of the reason for him doing as well as he did was that some left the party rather early, either because they didn't really want to be involved in an assault or because they knew the cops were not far enough away.   He would have done better had he been quicker to turn, gotten his girlfriend between his back and the wall, as much to help anchor him and add mass as to protect her.  As it was, he was at a disadvantage right from the start. 


This was a "territorial" conflict.  This pack considers that area, within certain time boundaries, to be their territory.  Females that are present in that space and time frame are viewed as potential property.  In one sense, the victim is right.  It was not a "hate crime", but it does have an undeniable racial component.  I seriously doubt the dynamics would have been the same had the victims been of the same race as the attackers. 

Speaking of dynamics, an ecosystem, whether woodland, desert, or concrete jungle, changes with the position of the sun. At this moment, in the middle of the day, I would have no concern about my wife driving around the Square by herself or with another woman or two, even getting out and doing a little shopping or visiting one of the restaurants there.  I would have no qualms about taking her to supper at a downtown eating place.  I'd certainly be paying attention to what was around if we came out at nine o'clock or so, but I would not be worried. 

As the good citizens, the taxpayers, and the people who have to get up the next morning head off to bed, the predators begin to poke their heads out of their holes, and some niches become more dangerous places.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Targeting the Poor

The Washington Post has a sob-story about how St. Louis County municipalities such as Florissant generate revenue from those citizens in poverty.  The story revolves around the case of a single mother of four who had a number of traffic violations and warrants for failure to appear in court.  She didn't show up in court because she could not afford to pay her fines. 

Her story is rather extreme, and I certainly have some sympathy for her.  There are speed traps, cops do target people and use ticky-tack city ordinances to harass citizens and kick up evidence of other crimes.  It is a legal system and not a justice system, and it functions primarily to fund more government jobs and enrich the lawyers who help write the rules.    

The fact is that, these days, if I get nailed for speeding, I don't have to worry about expired plates or my lights being out or no insurance, or being able to afford the fine.  On the other hand, I haven't gotten a speeding ticket since 1998.  I think I have had two moving violations and one other total in the last 30 years, and one of those was bogus for going through an intersection on yellow -- which was perfectly legal.  When I was young and poor and drinking every day, I was making other bad decisions and trying to beat the system which ended up costing me more when I could least afford it.  I've perhaps unwisely wasted money on lawyers since for other reasons but only because I knew I had the money to cover it. 

One of the reasons poor people are poor is because they make bad decisions and then compound those with more bad decisions trying to extricate themselves.  The woman in the story has four tattoos along with her four children by, likely, different men to whom she was never married.  The article complains about the legal setup, but it feeds on the stupidity of those who get caught in it.  As long as a person blames someone or something else for their troubles, nothing will change.  Change has to start in the attitude and approach of an individual.

I do not like our current system of government or our current law enforcement structure, and I detest our legal system.  Nevertheless, I recognize that, as a whole, we have the kind of system that we deserve.  We have brought it on ourselves, and it will change when enough of us start to change.  If we would have liberty and freedom of opportunity, we have to be moral and prudent and responsible individuals.         

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Rockwell Talks About the Libertarian Moment

Via Mises, we have Lew Rockwell on the zeitgeist.

I don't always agree with Rockwell, but he makes an excellent point about the way the New York Times recently addressed the libertarian movement:

... [R]eporter Robert Draper sought out not quite the top libertarian thinkers in the world, but instead those people most easily reached within a ten-minute walk from the Capitol or the Empire State Building.

Draper begins with an ex-MTV personality and proceeds from there. None of the people whose work and writing have shaped the libertarian movement, and who have converted so many people to our point of view, make an appearance. Ask the hordes of young kids who are devouring libertarian classics how many of them were introduced to libertarianism, or even slightly influenced, by the figures on whom the Times chooses to rely. You already know the answer.

To some conservatives, libertarianism boils down to hookers and dope.  Any conversation I try to have with some of the social conservatives immediately devolves into talk about legislating morality and isolationism.  Rockwell says in the article that libertarians "... oppose aggression, period. That means we oppose the State, which amounts to institutionalized aggression."

If you had to bring it down to one sentence, that one is not bad.  For those who want to not just tell other people what is good for them but force them to conform, libertarianism is what water was to the Wicked Witch.  I like "mind your own business" myself -- or the line my father once used to start a street fight:  We are in the habit of doing as we please.  

I do not care much what my neighbors do, so long as they do me no harm and don't ask me to pay their bills.  The problem is that government, by forcing all of us to have "skin in the game", can, as a consequence, demand that we all act "responsibly".  The answer is to stop forcing some people to pay for the irresponsible behavior of others. 

Peter should not be robbed for Paul's sake, regardless of whether Paul is an unfortunate victim of a traffic accident or a victim of his own crack addiction.  Medicare and Medicaid were the nose of the camel.  The whole beast is in now and dropping Obamacare all over the floor.

Most social conservatives are in agreement with libertarians to that point. 

I don't gamble, smoke, drink, or do drugs.  I've never even been inside a Hooter's let alone anything like a "gentlemen's club".  I do, however, like girls.  I think abortion is murder, and, while I can't condone or in anyway approve of what he did,  I can understand the thinking of the man who murdered the odious Wichita abortionist, Dr. George Tiller.  I think local communities ought to be able to decide, based on their local standards, whether or not it is acceptable to pray before a football game. 

No matter how someone chooses to define it, I am socially conservative.  The trouble is that the system powerful and far-reaching enough to coerce everyone into adhering to my social standards is also powerful and far-reaching enough to coerce me into adhering to someone else's.  See how that works?

When we see something egregiously wicked, we are apt to scream, "There ought to be a law!"  And that's exactly what the people who forced Obamacare on us thought.  Sure, it's tyrannical, stupid, counterproductive and likely to bankrupt us, but some fool thought it was a good idea to force people to buy government-approved insurance -- the same way a whole bunch of fools thought it was a good idea to prohibit the consumption of alcohol or lock up people who smoke weed or that what a couple of consenting adults do for entertainment is somehow their business.

Golden Rule:  Whatever you want others to do for you, do the same to them, the Man said. 

I want them to stop minding my business so I've stopped minding theirs. 

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Gay To Play

I was busy doing something important -- painting the living room, I think, when Missouri played Oklahoma State in the Cotton Bowl this year, but, as noted here, my wife watched it.  The Cotton Bowl victory was sealed when now-notorious Michael Sam brought down the OSU quarterback from behind (ha). 

The truth is that Michael Sam was a good Division I college defensive end.  Good.  Ten times better than most of us could be but still not great.  Michael Sam was never going to be drafted by the NFL even in late rounds.  As a walk-on, he would have had no chance.  The NFL gets to pick from the very best, most talented, gifted college athletes.  There are hundreds of potential players vying for a handful of highly coveted openings on a mere 32 teams.  A smattering of veterans exit the league every year for various reasons, but somebody is usually there to plug the hole.  For a man to be drafted suggests that he might be able to play better than the men already lined up for that spot.

Michael Sam may have been the best homosexual defensive end in college football.  Unfortunately for him, no team has, as yet, a roster spot for Gay DE.  Each team wants the best available player for any given position regardless of their choice of roommates.  The great Redskins' tight end, Jerry Smith, who played for Vince Lombardi and George Allen, was homosexual.  He was not a great homosexual tight end (I'm sorry -- that was his position, and, yes, it means he was a catcher); he was a great player.  Smith never admitted to being homosexual, but another gay football player of about the same era, running back Dave Kopay, confirmed what everybody knew after Smith's death from AIDS in 2005 1986 (no idea where I got 2005).  

Men like Smith and Kopay and numerous other NFL-quality players had no need to make an issue of their homosexuality because they were gifted football players who would be drafted because of their skills and abilities.  That was not the case with Sam.  To even get a shot at the professional level, he needed a victim card that he could play in the event he was not drafted.  Thus he publicly "came out of the closet" just in time to make it an issue on NFL Draft Day.  The Rams took the hit for the league in the third round.

Surprising exactly no one who has any understanding of football, Sam was first cut from the 53-man roster and now has been eliminated from the 10-man practice squad by St. Louis.  He could have been picked up on waivers by a team desperate for a DE, but no team wants Sam.  It has nothing to do with his sexual preference or what might happen in the showers.  It has to do with his ability to accelerate and his burst speed -- rather his lack thereof.  Notice the, in my opinion, overly kind bottom line:  Compares favorably to Chargers 2009 first-round pick Larry English, an overhyped, overdrafted, marginal producer in the pros.

Next time the homosexual activists should pick a faster horse to ride.