Two Really Good Answers to “If you knew then what you knew now” Question

On Iraq Invasion … Answer:

How many iterations do I get? I mean, we know a lot now about what worked in Iraq and what didn’t. If I knew what worked I could alter my tactics and strategy and do it far better the next time. But … that might not get it quite right, can I do another iteration and fix what doesn’t go right the second time? Be kind of cool, run the Iraq war like Tom Cruise in “Edge of Tomorrow”. Gosh we could do lots of things if we could replay hundreds of times. Now you can run this both ways from the onset to do nor not to do. But when you have replay ability clearly “do” is the correct answer, because gosh, whenever you say “do” you can replay until you get it perfect. If you “don’t” then there is no action, so no replay. So apparently the question real question at hand is “would you like a perfect Iraq invasion” or “no perfect invasion”. Clearly perfection is better.

Follow-up on this question is to ask the questioner first what thing in his life he’d most like to redo. And perhaps as well, to suggest some of the things you’d start doing differently in your re-do.

That’s the “interesting” answer. Now less “clever” answer but smarter political tack, which was a path not taken, is to turn the question on your political opponents, that is to ask about decisions made by those whom you see as your adversaries whether they’d redo their decisions. Like regarding Obamacare, Libya, or the early Iraq pullout, any “redo” or second guessing there?

 

A Short Thought

A month or two back in a comment thread I had remarked on how then President Clinton had promised the Ukraine after their separation from the Soviet state that they didn’t need to keep the nuclear weapons stockpiled there. He, in short, promised that the US would insure their national boundary/security against Russian aggression. Well, we all know how that turned out. When I’d remarked on this, the reply was that nobody on either side of the aisle wanted to get involved in the Russian/Ukrainian dispute. And I don’t disagree with that.

But. (and ain’t their always that sort of thing cropping up). But that being said, the thing about keeping your word and those trusting you to hold to your word isn’t about when keeping your word is easy or in your best interest. It’s keeping it when it isn’t easy, fun, or affordable.

If you make a promise. Keep it. If you inherit a promise. Keep it. And remember that, so you don’t make promises you don’t plan to keep.

And you wonder why the current President whose main rhetorical method is the BS session comes off so so poorly.

Random Things I Don’t Get

  1. Syria. So a year or so ago, our President “drew a red line” in the sand taking a “hard stand” against the use of poison gas. Assad (and/or the opposition) used said gases after he said that. Turns out that “red line” meant, “let’s talk”. Supposedly back then Mr Putin hornswaggled the President diplomatically and brokered a wonderful deal which satisfied everyone. Except, now there are reports that weaponized chlorine gas has been in use for some months in Syria. Why isn’t that bigger news? Why isn’t it talked about. I don’t get it.
  2. So the Clinton’s both of them, are scum. They’ve been involved and complicit in so many scandals and have so many items of pure greed and corruption laid to their feet that the mind boggles. Yet somehow, because “they’ve done it before” nobody except the opposition party seems to care. I really really don’t get it. I’m not saying that they need to go to jail (though that would be nice) but … that seems a very low bar. “Not going to jail” is no reason to listen to speeches or pretend you’d vote for them.
  3. Mr Schraub (and lots of other people especially on the right … which Mr Schraub certainly isn’t … ) get affirmative action exactly backwards. Affirmative action is wrong not because it “helps” minorities at the expense of other (mostly missed minorites, e.g., Asian Americans) but because it is harmful to those it supposedly benefits. Those on the right gripe about aff/action for the wrong reasons. Read Clarence Thomas’ remarks on why he thinks his Yale law degree wasn’t worth the paper it was printed on. Or watch (or recall) the movie “Tuskegee Airmen”. The critical error by the openly bigoted people running the training squadron was that making things very very hard creates an elite unit. And how do you destroy the moral and capabilities of a group? Lower the expected standards. Aff action is wrong because it is harmful to those it pretends to help. This should be obvious to everyone observing it. So the point regarding Ms Clinton and Mr Obama gets it hind end foremost. They overcame the deleterious effects of affirmative action. This, on their part, is commendable … but any advantages they received from it is likely dwarfed by the disadvantages (again, read some Thomas on the subject and learn).
  4. And a last snipe  at his post… Mr Schraub writes “Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton were and are every bit as qualified and meritorious as your typical President before them” … hmm. Mr Obama was less experienced and qualified as Ms Palin and as qualified as Mr Cruz and about Ms Clinton, well, we the prior point and remind everyone that for example selling US Uranium ore rights to Russian plutocrats to raise money for your PAC is the apparently exactly the kind of qualification Mr Schraub applauds. I remain ignorant of the methods and metrics people use to determine (and those on the left seem very very sure about this sort of things) how “qualified” or “smart” a politician is. As above, I don’t get it.

 

Race to Train, Train to Race

Is a saying in master cycling, and likely every masters sport. If fitness is a big part of the point, racing is great training  (so race a lot) and on the other hand, racing also serves as a focus for your training.

But. Right now, I’m not racing or cycling much until I get this SVT thing figured out (I’m on a med now that might be do it).

Physical training is simple. For cycling, a technique “light” sport, training comes down to managing levels of effort (intervals and so on) and rest. Swimming, the sport I’m beginning to get interested in, is a technique “heavy” sport. Alongside the interval and rest side of the equation, technique of stroke is very important to your ability to go fast for sprint or distance. But all things told, physical training is straightforward. You plan workouts. Set goals. Periodically take “metrics” to measure progress locate weaknesses so as to structure future workouts and goals, and repeat.

What I’ve been thinking about lately is how to move that sort of relatively straightforward methodology to other arenas, like programming, maths, and other more purely intellectual pursuits. More on that as my experiments begin.

What That Probably Means

So the President and his ilk announced recently that Cuba would be “off the terror state” list. Oh, goody. But then you get to the why. Why are they now off the list. Well, it’s because Cuba has not sponsored acts of global terrorism for the last 6 months. Hmm. Why the six months figure and not, say, a year, or two, or more?

Well, it probably means they did actually as a state initiate or sponsor acts of global terror in between 6 and 12 months ago … even if you need a security clearance of some sort to figure out exactly that act that was.

Gee thanks Mr President.

 

Two Remarks, Off the Cuff (Or From the Airplane) as It Were

So, Ms Clinton has officially thrown her hat in the ring. Ms Clinton, unlike many other contestants in this contest, mystifies me entirely in several respects. The chief source of my confusion lies in why on the earth would anyone ever vote for her? What positive qualities do they think she has that would encourage one like her, much less vote for her? I fail to see any. That being said, I don’t know much about the current/prospective crop of GOP candidates. Mr Walker and Mr Cruz are interesting so far mostly in the light of the positive spin the deluge of bile and spite from the left, meaning, if they garner such hatred and fear something must be in their favor.

Recently in comments the observation was made by me, that those of the left or the “other” party, have a habit of overreacting in response to those who badge as conservative or of the GOP, but whom their expectations are that they “should” be liberal (or Democrat). Examples abound, and demonstrating isn’t the point of the following question (example: try coming out as a gay conservative). But as is often the case, that those things we do are less obvious to us than those things others do. The question is, do conservatives exhibit the same behavior? Do you know of any examples of conservatives overreacting against anyone who “should by all rights be a conservative” but who is not? What, if any, similar behavior does the right do? How do conservatives overreact especially with frothing-at-the-mouth hatred and scorn?

 

Experts Believe

Experts believe Iran is 3 months from a nuclear device now … and if the Kerry/Obama agreement is kept honestly by Iran (and you can take that with a grain of salt(peter)) then they will be a year from having a device.

These same experts were the ones who said Iraq had lots of poison gas, where taken completely by surprise by Egyptian uprisings, the Russian Crimean adventure, and pretty much every uprising and event in the last decade. The question really is, who are these experts? Why does anyone believe them when they say anything? Who pays these guys? And …

The kicker, Mr Obama has on many occasions spoken of his (secret because details are never given) plan to proceed to a non-nuclear weapon world. How does giving Iran (probably) a weapon faster and more resources to fight conventionally (see their recent overthrow of the Yemen government) … get you to a safer place.

Not seeing it.

Mr Obama. You can complain about us in the States not having faith in you. But you see, you have to actually make arguments for the things you believe. That argument has not once been made publicly . So, don’t just ask us to trust you. ’cause we have no reason to trust anymore. You’ve told too many baldfaced lies for that.

Two Strange Thoughts

First off, this weekend, we get a high “holy” pi day, after all, 3/14/15 is 5 digits of pi, not just 3. Except it isn’t. See. 3.1415 are the actual first 5 digits of pi. Except if you were to give pi to the five significant figures, that wouldn’t be 3.1415 but 3.1416 as the next digit after 5 is a 9 and you’d round to 6. So if you want to be a pedant, and we all do, right? Then on Saturday correct people and tell them that next year we’ll have pi to 5 significant figures and this year is the wrong year for that. Also, you could point out your envy for that march day in the 16th century, 3/14/1593 (or 1592 depending on your point of view). Also, April 31 doesn’t exist, so the Europeans are just plain out of luck. On the other hand, computer programmers put dates YYYY/MM/DD … so that things sort numerically naturally, we’ve got quite while before pi days become interesting for real people, i.e., programmers. I’ll leave as an exercise for the reader (or Wolfram Alpha) how many days until May 9, 3141.

And secondly, this GOP letter to Iran is just plain dumb. Look. Nothing Kerry or Obama say means squat. Practically every statement either of them ever utters is a bald-faced lie that has little to no relationship to reality. What they say is about what effect they figure their statement will have on the listener not whether the statement itself bears any relationship to intent or truth. On the other hand, that is probably true of the Iranian delegation as well, so birds of a feather and … they can craft a document wich history will likely regard in on a par with the Stalin/Hitler Poland pact … and anyone believing that they have any more sincerity than that pair has been smoking in Colorado too much.

 

Following Rome

So. As the Roman Empire got too large and complex they went to a Eastern/Western Empire situation. If you take as given that the job in front of today’s US executive is too complex to be handled by one man, would instead of a geographical a similar separation of responsibilities might help allow someone with who could be more expert in the area and a smaller contingent of responsibilities make sense? For the following take it as a given (as in we won’t argue that point) the job needs to be broken up and concentrate instead on how to do so.

This question it seems has two parts. The first is, wow to best break the job up. Foreign/domestic seems an obvious choice, but there may be other ways. Bertrand de Jouvenel suggested in his political philosophy that there were two types of leadership, one that drives forward toward a goal and one that can reconcile differences between people. Perhaps that would be another way to divide the two. Any other suggestions?

The second part is, how to implement this? Could this be done by dogmatic precedent (like the two term limit which followed Washington’s example for so long)? Could a President announce at his inauguration that he was doing this, and his vice President was going to, say, handle 100% of foreign affair issues and he would 100% concentrate on the domestic affairs.  The titular President would promise to rubber stamp any decisions made by his VP as if he were signing them as long as there were in the foreign affairs sphere and vice versa. Would this fly? If not, why no? Or would a full Constitutional amendment process be required to effect this?

“Islam is not the Problem” … Is that Right?

Many of our intellectual elite keep (White House, others) keep repeating that Islam is “not the problem” behind the terrorism, violence and so on in the Middle East and elsewhere (France for example). What is not said in those pronouncements is, if Islam isn’t the problem, exactly then where does the problem lie? It seems likely that the statement Islam is not the problem is only half right. People who claim “Islam is the problem” (or not the problem) can be compared with people who claim “germs cause disease” (or that they don’t). Stating that Islam is or isn’t “the problem” isn’t useful. What are some more useful remarks or questions that might be raised instead? Such as, what does a more complete story/picture look like? What are useful ways of approaching this matter, not that the President and the left elite don’t have a useful way, they just are very very coy about what that way is, as “it’s not X” does not explain “it is Y”. Continue reading →

A Little Confusion

So, the left has gotten unhinged about Mr Christie offering that vaccinations for kids be voluntary. This isn’t an “anti-vaccination” position, as he hasn’t said not get them. If you need evidence that they have gotten unhinged, the proof is in the conflation, equating “anti-vaccine” with “optional”.

Look. I’m not getting the kerfuffle. Explain to me the difference between optional flu shots and optional measles shots. The first is OK, the second a horrific idea. Not getting it. So. Explain. (hint: “It’s about the children” or “‘cause they are minors” earns you a dunce cap and won’t be considered a response). So why are flu shots not required for everyone? Hmmm?

Or is this just the purely partisan stupid hacking like it looks like?

 

Tomorrow’s the Day

So. Surgery (sort of) tomorrow. Technically it’s a cardiac Electro-Physiology Lab study. The lab study will attempt to replicate my SVT (Supra-Ventricular Tacchycardia). If it can be replicated then RF ablation will be used to stop the cross-talk between nerve clusters on my heart. Then the SVT trigger process will be repeated event. When if/when the SVT cannot be triggered via electodes …  we are done and my SVT will not recur (and ala Monte Python, there will be great rejoicing).

If you have a mind to, offer a prayer for me tomorrow about 11am CST. Thanks.

Update: Good news and bad news. Good news is, I’m in recovery (at home) and things look a good … for recovery. The bad news is that they couldn’t emulate the SVT event in the first step and never did any ablation. I’ll have a followup in a few weeks. One option I’m considering is seeking the option of trying this or s similar procedure with a EP specialist who is an amateur endurance athelete. My impression is that they didn’t push hard enough to trigger the event, in part not realizing that my heart is quite a bit fitter than average.

A Health Note

I have been diagnosed (finally after much testing and such) with a cardiac condition known as SVT. This is repairable, which when repaired should just “fix” the problem.

My “study” which will repair has been scheduled but will be February or March.

For a person who likes and enjoys working out hard, I must say SVT is very very annoying.

Off the Cuff

So, Dr Gruber, not a politician. Ya think? This gets much mileage in the press and the liberal politicians are going distance themselves from him as if he he were scalding acid. Abortion as eugenics, to be applied to minorities, hmm. That’s palatable, albeit Ms Sanger was in the camp too I think. Regarding Mr Gruber, the outrage is confusing. I mean, here is a guy who admits selling Obamacare on falsehoods. But I mean, why is the right acting all put out? Those lies were not believed by the right, but by the left. Why is the left not outraged that they were sold a bill of goods? Politics remains very confusing for me.

Some IQ specialist thinks he has evidence that intelligence is not nuture but nature, which will alas irk the (mostly racist) race theorists no end (see this too). So, if it comes out that intelligence (and therefore success in school) are due to nature not nurture, can we stop with the stupidly high inheritance taxes that the left thinks are necessary to stop the “rich” from having unfair advantages?

I wonder what this sort of graph but instead for the WWII Germany/Soviet Eastern front wars would look like. It would be appalling I think. Appropos of that and in the discussion which mention Napoleon’s final defeat at Waterloo. But like most of the Western canonical history forget that Russian led armies sacked Paris in 1814. The same poster (rightly) mocks those college students of today who are so so so ignorant of history it seems.

Regarding Ms Feinstein and her “release” of CIA investigations on torture. The left’s thesis (which is badly flawed) is (a suggested thesis of her report) is that torture doesn’t work, ergo we shouldn’t do it. Actually historically it seems very very likely that when done efficiently with an understanding of what you are up to, it works and works very well. See Mr Fernandez excellent book  No Way In (or read about the Gestapo and well, anywhere they operated). Look. Every single time a resistance cell loses a member to the torture using establishment everyone has to find a new safe houses, move and so on. Why? This wouldn’t be so if torture was ineffective. But. It is. The argument against torture is not that it isn’t effective or cost effective but that is immoral. It is wrong. That is the only argument needed or which should be used against it.

 

Reader’s Exercise

So, Mr Obama is going to offer his “executive order” on immigration tonight. Constitutional scholars are going to offer their opinions. But I’m going to give you a homework assignment, in two parts no less.

Part 1. Imagine a Democrat held Senate/House and a GOP conservative President. Craft what you might see as an abortion executive order that would elicit the same <em>Constitutional</em> objections regarding balance of powers between Congress and Executive as are debated by, say, the Volokh lawyers in the wake of Obama’s immigration order.

Part 2. If you honestly did the homework of part one, explain why (if GOP) you support the part 1 proposal but object to Mr Obama’s proposal or, if a Democrat why you support Mr Obama but reject the GOP proposal.

(note: if you are “consistent” and oppose/support both, this is probably a sign you didn’t honestly complete part 1).

Secular Immortality and Cinema

Two films recently have been very similar (and this afternoon I saw the second, even though it’s been out for some time). Elysium and In Time are very similar. Both feature a totalitarian control on magically efficient health care. In both access to this is highly restricted. In both of them health (or immortality) access is highly restricted. Why? Population pressure is explicitly mentioned on one, but it is not clear that this is the problem they might pretend. As an extreme, Michael Moorcock’s Dancers at the End of Time are all immortal by a technology long lost and long forgotten. Our hero in that story is unusual, he’s the only person alive who was “born”.   Continue reading →

Vocabulary Confusion/Bleg

So, in Sunday’s service (St. Basil Liturgy now that we are in Lent) the phrase “God is [..], adorable” appeared. The word “adorable” in its original meaning actually came from Christian contexts meaning “worthy of adoration” but now mostly is applied to small mammals meaning “very cute”. “Oh, he’s so adorable” is not usually applied to God but to kittens, small seals, and babies.

Which brings to mind the question, is there a word in English that means “worthy of adoration”? If so what is that word?

I think “venerable” has gone through a similar degradation, and similarly I don’t know a word meaning “worthy of veneration” in the English language.

Do you?

Our Stupid Crocodilian Leaders

Reflect a moment on the Olympics, the US and many Western leaders have decided “not to attend”, Google followed suit with a rainbow Olympic rings display, and publicly gay (privately … who knows) stuffed shirts were sent as part of the US delegation and many others. This was supposedly in response to how Russia is perceived to deal with public homosexuality.

Consider the following. Make an honest list of the top 10 economic, liberty, social, legal, and cultural issues facing the Russian people and the Russian Federation today. Order these by which have the highest priority and will do the greatest good. If you are honest (and I will charitably assume that is the case), gay rights did not appear on the list. Extend it to 20. Gosh. Still not there. In fact, I’d be willing to bet, if you put the time and effort it that gay rights might not even (if you are honest) make the top 100.

So …. why is that a putative issue for our leaders? Could it be because all politics is local and this is a safe way of pretending to do something about gay issues in their country without having to actually, you know, do anything about those issues? Crocodile tears all around.

A Remark on Atlanta and Inclement Weather

One of the nice things about the Internet and blogging is you hear ordinary voices from all over. Atlanta recently had a few inches of snow a condition with which drivers in Atlanta are not experienced at driving and the road crews are not equipped with the supplies of shovels and salt or sand that we have in the north. So … before y’all get all cocky about how you don’t even blink at a few inches in your area and schools don’t close unless more is dumped. Consider. I read a few years back from an Alaskan blogger who pointed out that schools in her town don’t close unless more than 48″ are dumped on the town in less than 24 hours. So. Set your pride aside and consider how Chicago, Minneapolis, or New York (or your town) would react to having 48″ of snow on a Tuesday.

Apropos of Nothing

So, as noted before, I’ve started swimming for exercise. Now I used to race bikes, and now that I’m swimming … one is led to consider the tri-athlete events. I had one thought about that, how the event dis-favors the swimmers so much. Look at the classic Iron man, approx 3 mile swim, 115 mile bike, and a 26 mile run. If you took average professional athletes in the three events running a relay, you’d probably have respectively that’s about 45-50 minutes in the water, a little over 4 hours on a bike, and just over two running.

Seems out of whack.

Wouldn’t you want to weight the events the same, so that the expected time for each for a good athlete would be the same for each of the events, that put the three events on an even keel. So for if you shoot for an hour for each that would be about a 4 mile swim, 30 mile bike ride and a  half-marathon. Or double it if you want to get the “Iron” out there.

Just say’in.

Growsing about Protectionism

So, seeing that the “Twin-Up!” (link) is released. It reported will about 215 mpg with an 8 gallon tank (consider refueling every 1600 miles, eh?)

But it likely won’t be released in the US. Well, no problem, just buy it there and bring it over. Woops. You can’t drive it here? Why? Because it has a CE safety rating which isn’t the same as the US ratings. What is the biggest difference, after all emissions isn’t going to be an issue, it doesn’t burn enough to have any substantial emissions? So then, what is the problem? It seems side air bags in the US are required to protect people who don’t wear seat belts, but in the CE they are only required to protect passengers wearing seat belts. Uhm? It’s illegal to drive in the US without a seat belt … so why then do we require cars to protect people when they engage in illegal activity? There is no good reason …

Or more accurately, the real reason is to isolate the CE and US markets from allowing cars approved over there from competing over here and vice versa. It’s all about smaller confined markets.

Some Short Thoughts

  • Those who think or write that the Washington DC football team’s name “Redskins” needs to be changed are the modern equivalent of those in the 13th century buying indulgences. Sporting team names are pretty far down on the actual list of problems in the daily life of indigenous Americans, drug abuse, alcoholism, poverty, suicide and so on. Those are issues much higher. Seems to me if you actual cared one whit about the native American you’d be acting on real issues not pretend ones. (for extra credit, cite last time you heard the term redskin used as a derogatory racial epithet. If you, like me, never have … gosh perhaps it isn’t actually a derogatory racial epithet).
  • Continuing that theme, of modern indulgences. The Redskin thing is a racial/racism indulgence or guilt expiation.  It is interesting to note that those same people who are pretending at concern for Native Americans with the Redskin thing are the same ones punting for SSM … what sin is that indulgence paying for?
  • On the other side of the coin (those against SSM), just remember “Jesus came to save sinners, of whom I am first.” Gays can’t destroy marriage as thoroughly as heterosexuals are doing right now.
  • One hard fast rule of Internet punditry to remember, there is always, yes always, someone smarter than you, better informed than you, and better in whatever way you can imagine who disagrees rationally and logically with that strongly held opinion of yours. So the next time you call someone an idiot or stupid because they hold an opinion (especially political or religious) different than you, remember that.
  • American politicians should play more Go than Chess. A paradigm intrinsic to Chess is forking, putting the opposition into a corner where he only has two bad choices. Go’s fundamental paradigm by contrast teaches you how to quickly recognize a losing position and moving elsewhere.

Some Thoughts On Syria

Scattered thoughts. Mr Obama has apparently (I’ve been busy … I haven’t read his transcripts) … so, what is  the basis of his moral/ethical argument for killing bystanders to send a message to Mr Assad?

  1. An analogy for Syria .. consider bullying the moral schoolyard equivalent of gas warfare. You put a red-line in the sand to the school-yard bully. He is seen bullying some people, so … you beat up his sister, who may or may not be able to convince him to stop in ways you cannot. But, is that ethical?
  2. This passage can be said to argue that state violence is in some cases permitted, to as it were, send a message.
  3. Some differences between gas and military vs civilian targets and modes of delivery. But … if the reason you are against gas is that it is a thing killing civilians why aren’t people speaking even more strongly against practices that kill far more civilians. The biggest killer of civilians of all, the tacit acceptance by everyone (but me apparently) who fails to call committing violence for political purposes without wearing a uniform a war crime which should invalidate both your cause and any claims for mercy.
  4. The Volokh link I posted earlier tonight highlights the real-politik position on the matter.
  5. What motive did Mr Obama have in denying “I never said red line” … does he not realize that statements he makes are not in a vacuum and he indeed did say red line?
  6. Speaking of gas, the Germans manufactured several tons of ClF3 intending to use it. Yikes. That stuff seems as dangerous for the caster as the castee. It does on the other hand make light of typical protections like gas masks.
  7. Would a limited token bombing discourage or encourage another totalitarian ruler to use Sarin on his people?

Something Rotten in Denmark — Deficits

A few weeks past, Mr Krugman (and I’m not linking him) noted that contrary to popular beliefs (and cited some polls) deficits have not increased in the last few years. We are also told by similar sources that inflation is not occuring.

Yet. we need to keep raising the debt limits to keep the government solvent. If it was true that the deficits were not still increasing then we would be lowering not raising the debt limit. Somebody is not being honest.

Talk or Not Talk — Beast Feeding

Ms McArdle wrote this a few days ago referring to a class she took in which terrorism was mentioned:

He asked us to think about three facets of terrorism: strategy, goals, and tactics.  The tactics here are obvious.  But what are the strategy and the goals?  What did these two brothers want?  And how did they think that bombing the Boston marathon would achieve it?

Here’s the thing, set aside tactics for a moment and consider their goals. We have three types of these people committing acts of terror to consider, random nutcases (Lanza for example), independent and organized terrorists (and by this second category of terrorist I mean those doing acts of terror for non-personal reasons). In many cases a primary goal of the second two types of terrorist is to get his cause on the front burner of national and international discussions. Look at the Boston event. Most American’s probably didn’t even know about the Russian Federation and its “issues” in the Caucasian mountain regions. For the nuts out there “getting famous” and noticed is likely a primary motivator. So we should make an effort to not give them what they want.

So, on Boston, here’s how not to feed the Beast … much if not most of the press coverage of the Caucasus kerfuffle has been slanted with an anti-Russian Federation slant, US sympathies tend toward the little guy after all. Well in light of bombing marathons, the non-little guy point of view just got a boost. If public discussion and public opinion were to clearly shift away from the sympathies that terrorists hold as a regular response then the incentive to violence would go away. However, so far the beast has been feed. If their goal was to be noticed, to be known, and to have their cause considered they’ve achieved their goal and by y’all talking about it in that way, you’re feeding the beast. You will have more and more frequent acts like this … because they work. They achieve the desired goal.

So to put this in context, ever Palestinian bomb should be seen as yet another reason to realize that their cause is less worthy of consideration. By this time, they should be laughing stock in polite conversation. Why they are not remains a mystery.

 

That Assault Weapon Ban

Is a straw ban. Everyone (except possibly a few nuts) is fully in favor of an actual assault weapon ban. Assault weapons have always been illegal. The problem is what an assault weapon actually is and what it is not. An assault weapon by definition is a automatic-fire capable carbine with a quickly replaceable magazine. These are illegal. Always have been. A single shot semi-automatic rifle is not a assault rifle. A full length rifle is not an assault rifle.

What the knuckleheads in Congress call an “assault weapons ban” is a “scary looking rifle ban” … which alas has the kindergarten sound that it deserves but want to avoid.

This has been a PSA from your friendly neighborhood blogger.

To Funny For Me

OK. Yesterday a friend pointed out xkcd’s “What if” feature (on the top left links corner). My daughter and I were reading through some them, and found many quite funny. Then. Well. We got to this one, which I couldn’t read out loud by the point of “The mole planet is now a giant sphere of meat …” the tears from laughing so hard were obstructing my view that I couldn’t read, well, to be honest I was having difficulty breathing I was laughing so hard.

Wow. That has to be the funniest thing I’ve read in a long time.

Which just goes to show there is no accounting for taste, eh?

Up, Down, Left, Right, and All That Nonsense

People speaking of other politically continually speak about left and right, yet these terms are basically meaningless. In the US, Mr Groseclose unlike so many others, bothers to define what he means, which by the time he gets down ends up arrives at a meaning only perhaps might only coincidentally mean the same thing that you think of when these terms are used. His method of determining right/left is political, being derived purely by analysing mathematically voting patterns of the right and left party members in Congress. The proto-typical examples of right and left come from the WWII era, whereas the Hitler-led Nazi party (National Socialists) were called “far right” and the Stalin-led Marxist USSR is identified as “far left”. What distinguishes these groups? Both were autocracies dominated by the personality of one man. Both explicitly used government powers to dominate all sectors of society. Both established massive campaigns of intimidation and slaughter in prison camps immediately on gaining power. The only difference possibly noted is that the Marxist doctrine was “post-national” intending via global domination to eliminate all national identities and Nazi fascism was rooted in German identity and nationalism. Is that the putative metric to measure right/left in common parlance? That the further left one goes the less national and more international in scope is one’s thinking? If so, why is socialism regarded as left leaning and capitalism right? Neither of these notions have much weight on the national/international scales. So. Right/left. What do you think it means? In Chemistry and Physics when you have measurables or metrics that don’t make much sense then your theory, your model is flawed. Right/left seems very flawed as a term of any descriptive value. Does anyone reading this know of any terms which actually are of any valuable use, be it descriptive or otherwise? I would venture that mostly these terms are useless and only used to categorize those with whom your are dealing as “on-my-team” or “horrible other” depending on the particularhandedness you profess to follow.

Olson’s First Rule Applied

Murphy’s law and others give not exactly hard and fast guidelines for prediction of events and interpretations. My (just coined as such) first Rule is the following

Conventional Historical Wisdom is always wrong.

In what follows this will be applied to the third rail of historical discourse … vis a vis to suggest that the Jewish narrative concerning the Holocaust is wrong. This may or may not be a historical third high voltage line as suggested above, but there are blogging/pirate rules that state any you mentions Nazis loses the argument … and Nazis will be noted in this piece.

For a long time references to the Holocaust have bothered me, in that the focus on that particular feature of German/Nazi atrocities has overwhelmed our historical recall of other Nazi (and concomitant Soviet ones). When one recalls mass murders in the mid 20th century …. with rare exceptions only one thing will be recalled and the others minimized or forgotten. This is wrong. Do not misunderstand, the fault for this lies with historians, teachers and educators … not with the Jewish people. Their memory, their remembrance is apt and warranted. What is not is for the rest of us to forget that this was just a small part of a larger horrific picture.

If, in a recent non-mass killing like that at Columbine, if 10 persons had been killed of which 4 Muslims had been killed if conventional wisdom called this an attack on Islam that would be wrong. It would not be wrong for Islamic faith communities to remember this in their own way. It would however be wrong for everyone to do that. Similarly remembering the mass murders of the 20th century in Eastern Europe as being only about the Holocaust would also be wrong.  This is however, the conventional story.

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A Little Home Owner Excitement

Apparently common construction practice is to build the sewage out piping from your house to extend 3-4 feet with heavy cast iron piping and to use two to three foot lengths of clay pipe after that. A consequence of this is local bushes and trees have roots seeking water sources find the joints in those clay pipes, insinuate themselves and eventually block the pipe. Which in turns either backs up in a basement drain or in a basement toilet, whichever is lower. Ours chose the drain … and a wonderful outflow of stuff was discovered late last night in our laundry room.

Synchronicity abounds however in that we were this weekend (and still have not finished) watching In Darknessa WWII film concerning a group of less than a dozen Jewish men, women, and children hiding in the sewers in the then Polish Lwow, now Ukrainian city of Lviv. These people owed their life to an anti-semitic sewer worker and the complex nature of Polish/Ukrainian <=> Jewish Polish/Ukraine is explored in the movie. The book on which this is based Girl in the Green Sweater, by my understanding was authored by one of the young girls who survived that which the movie portrays. The synchronicity of course points to the sewage flowing in our basement and in the film … on the same day.

 

A Modest Proposal: Campaign Finance Reform

The regrettable Mr Edwards, whom the Democrats just recently discovered, is something of a slime-weasel, is in the news as he is accused of campaign finance “irregularities.” Additionally, the left is up and arms over the high court’s rejection of restrictions on corporate contributions to campaigns. Additionally, we have a problem with our deficit. I have a solution for all three.

Let’s get rid of all campaign finance restrictions. Campaign contributions will be considered, in my proposal, as a contribution directly to the person who is running. He can use those funds however he might see fit, for vacations in the South Pacific, an extension on his house, or for campaign ads, campaign gewgaws and literature, or other campaign related activities. This will have several benefits.

  1. No silly court related cases like the above.
  2. People will think twice about contributing to people of low character.
  3. Contributions will be taxed as income (likely as aggressively as lottery income), and as a result, will have a positive impact on our deficit far greater than the “tax-the-rich” proposals on the table.

So, there you go. Campaign finance irregularities. Solved. Everybody can go home happy now.

 

Or not.