Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Evil Is Not A Make-Believe Concept

Jay Austin and Lauren Geoghegan were idealists. They had quit their 9-5 jobs to become bicycling nomads. Had some interesting adventures.. Cycled all over the world. Jay wrote of their adventures and the experiences they had with the people the met and at one point he wrote the following:
“You read the papers and you’re led to believe that the world is a big, scary place,” Mr. Austin wrote. “People, the narrative goes, are not to be trusted. People are bad. People are evil.
“I don’t buy it. Evil is a make-believe concept we’ve invented to deal with the complexities of fellow humans holding values and beliefs and perspectives different than our own … By and large, humans are kind. Self-interested sometimes, myopic sometimes, but kind. Generous and wonderful and kind.”


On a mountain road in Tajikistan on the 29th of July they learned how wrong they were. Both of them, along with another pair of cyclists from Europe, met men who believe in an ideology that teaches them to kill anyone who doesn't share their beliefs.  They were run off the road and then knifed to death by followers of ISIS.

Evil is not a make-believe concept. Some ideas and belief systems are evil. 

UPDATE 21 August 2018 21:27 [Borepatch]: For more on why this philosophy make progressives vulnerable to this, and how it relates to gun control, you might want to read this.

Canada retires Lee-Enfield after more than a century of service

That has to be a record.  Man, I love my No.4.

Monday, August 20, 2018

Robert Plant and Alison Krauss - Gone Gone Gone

Today is Robert Plant's 70th birthday.  This song won a Grammy in 2008 and the album won five Grammys in 2009, including album of the year.  It's been a long way from Led Zeppelin.

Ouch

This weekend was full of chores around Castle Borepatch.  On Saturday we hung a storage shelf from the garage ceiling and reorganized the garage.  It's nice to have all the room and to have everything in its place, but then we followed up yesterday with gardening - digging big holes and planting things.  That wouldn't have been so bad except for all the rocks and construction debris in the ground that had to be dug out and removed.

Oof.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Craig Chaquico - Sacred Ground

This is a bit of an unusual choice for Sunday composer.  Craig Chaquico is a guitarist and member of the band Jefferson Starship.  While this music isn't exactly classical, but it is nice music for a Sunday morning.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Tom Jones - It'll Be Me

One of the things I love about Country music is that it's been around so long that you find some really unexpected things when you look around.  Like a boy from coal country in Wales  who became a huge heart throb star in the 1960s and then took a detour into Country music with his 1982 album Country.

Tom Jones is known for his earlier hits like It's Not Unusual.  In a sense, his version of Jerry Lee Lewis' It'll Be Me inherits much of this.  I particularly like his fringe jacket in the video here.  But this sounds unmistakably Country.  Maybe that shouldn't be a real surprise for a boy from coal country - even if it was from a land a thousand leagues away.



It'll Be Me (Songwriter: Jack Clement)
Well, if you hear somebody knocking on your door
If you see something crawling across the floor
Baby, it'll be me and I'll be looking for you 
If you see a head a-peeping from a crawdad hole
If you see somebody climbing up a telephone pole
Baby, it'll be me and I'll be looking for you 
I'm gonna look on the mountain and in the deep blue sea
Gonna search all the forests and look and look in every tree
Well, if you feel something heavy on your fishing hook
If you see a funny face in your comic book
Baby, it'll be me and I'll be looking for you

If you hear a thought calling out in the night
If you see somebody hanging from a lamp post bright
Baby, it'll be me and I'll be looking for you 
Well if you see somebody looking in all the cars
If you see a rocket ship on its way to Mars
Baby, it'll be me and I'll be looking for you

Friday, August 17, 2018

Ike Quebec - Blue and Sentimental

Born on this day in 1918.

Google's location tracking risks a huge fine

Google, which was just fined $5B by the EU for how it abuses privacy is now risking a much larger fine - 2% or 4% of revenue - due to how it, well, abuses privacy:
Privacy campaigners say Google's obsessive collection of location markers violates Europe's privacy laws - potentially exposing the Californian giant to punitive fines. 
Several privacy watchers agree that as it stands, users are misled, and can't give informed consent. That exposes the company to financial penalty under GDPR rules: which could be 2 per cent or 4 per cent of turnover. 
"Burying its stalking settings, while distracting users with a deliberately crippled 'Location history' button, isn't just deceitful - it's unlawful," campaigner Phil Booth opined. "Without proper consent or legitimate purpose, Google is breaching the GDPR rights of every EU citizen it has been tracking.
We'll see if the EU wants to make sure that there are teeth in the GDPR privacy regulation.

So just what's in the report on the Pennsylvania priests?

The Czar of Muscovy reads through it for us.  Wow.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Don't ever change, Main Stream Media



The scandal isn't just in the Catholic Church - it's also in the Media

Peter describes the Catholic Church's situation in Pennsylvania, cutting through the fog of words to the heart of the crimes:
The reality of that abuse in the hearts and minds and souls of the victims is simply indescribable.  I invite all of you to try to put yourselves in the shoes of a child as he or she (in the context of the Catholic crisis, usually he) is stripped naked, fondled, abused, raped . . . and then told, by the perpetrators - those he's been taught by his parents are spiritual authorities - that it's his fault, or that he mustn't talk about it, or that God will be angry if he doesn't allow future abuses.  That reality is so ghastly, in the mind of a child, as to defy description. [Peter's emphasis]
There is a reason that this is a crime.


I was living in the People's Republic of Massachusetts in 2002 when a similar scandal broke, and I'm struck by the difference in media coverage between then and now.  16 years ago, the coverage was almost hysterical, and went on for months.  Today, it looks like this will have dropped from the headlines by the end of the week.  That's something to make you go "hmmmm".

There is a story that is not being told here.  Eric Raymond went into this way back in 2002 in The Elephant In The Bath-House:
That there is a pattern in the national media of political correctness and spin on behalf of preferred `victim’ groups isn’t news, nor is the fact that homosexuals are among those groups. But get this: Richard Berke, the Washington editor of the New York Times recently said “literally three-quarters of the people deciding what’s on the front page are not-so-closeted homosexuals”. There you have it in plain English; gays run the “newspaper of record”. Berke made these comments before a gay advocacy group — not merely admitting but outright asserting, as a matter of pride, that the Times engages in gay-friendly spin control. And it has already been well established by statistical content studies that the national media tend to follow where they’re led by the Times and a handful of other prestige newspapers, all broadly similar in editorial policy.
If you want to read more about Richard Burke, here's a place to start.  It may be that I remember much more intense news coverage then because I lived at ground zero.  The Boston Globe was all over this story, but perhaps it was considered a local story by the editorial board at the Times.  Pretty clearly, this is going on today.  But there's very likely a reason that the editorial board wants this to go away:
Gay men, or at least the sort of university-educated gay men who wind up determining what’s on the front page of the New York Times and spiking stories like the Dirkhising murder, know these facts. How surprising would it be if they interpreted most victims’ charges of abuse as a product of retrospective false consciousness, implanted in them by a homophobic and gay-oppressing culture? By suppressing the homosexual identification of most of the accused priests, gays in the media can protect their own sexual and political interests while believing — perhaps quite sincerely — that they are quietly aiding the cause of freedom.
Media bias most clearly manifests itself not in slanted reporting, but rather in what is never reported at all.  The murder of Jesse Dirkhising wasn't reported at all, while the murder of Matthew Shepard was front page news for weeks.  But Raymond dissects the politically correct spin and cuts to the heart of the matter, reaching the same conclusion that Peter does:
The trouble with this comforting lullaby is that, even if NAMBLA is right, coercion matters a lot. As Ms. Eberstadt reports, the pederastically and pedophilically abused often become broken, dysfunctional people. They show up in disproportionate numbers in drug and alcohol rehab. They have a high rate of involvement in violent crime. Worse, they end to become abusers themselves,perpetuating the damage across generations. 
... 
It may turn out that the consequences of sympathizing with NAMBLA are almost equally ugly. If a climate of `enlightened’ tolerance for consensual pederasty and pedophilia tends to increase the rate at which boys are abused, that is a very serious consequence for which gay liberationists will not (and should not) soon be forgiven. The homosexual gatekeepers at the Times may be making themselves accessories before and after the fact to some truly hideous crimes.
And this is where we come back to the priestly-abuse scandal. Because a theme that keeps recurring in histories of the worst abusers is that they were trained in seminaries that were run by homosexual men and saturated with gay-liberationist subculture. Reading accounts of students at one notorious California seminary making a Friday-night ritual of cruising gay bars, it becomes hard not to wonder if gay culture itself has not been an important enabler of priestly abuse.
This has been known for decades.  None of this is a surprise to anyone who has remotely been paying attention, whether that "anyone" is a Bishop or on the NYT Editorial Board.  And Raymond now circled back to where Peter stands:
Now it’s time to abandon the catch-all term abuse and speak plainly the name of the crime: sexual coercion and rape.
Speaking plainly is the foundation of communication, and anyone who will not speak plainly presumably does not want to communicate.  The same words and spin are being used today as were used back in 2002.  The fog of words never allows the expression child rape because that would be a strong wind of clarity, blowing away the fog of political correctness.

Let me say again: None of this is a surprise to anyone who has remotely been paying attention, whether that "anyone" is a Bishop or on the NYT Editorial Board.

I agree 100% with Peter that the enablers in the Catholic hierarchy need to go.  But the Media that airbrushes these crimes from the newspaper is as complicit in the crimes as the Bishop who quietly reassigned a priest to a different parish.  Both did it for what they perceived as a higher purpose, and both are just one more flagstone laid on the road to some other child's personal Hell.

I encourage you to read both Peter's and Raymond's articles in full.  The institutional rot goes deep.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

On Immigration

Lawrence finds a very interesting article by Mickey Kaus on immigration.  It's worth your time.

Kaus, for those who haven't been following along at home, was one of the early bloggers (of KausFiles fame) and ran against (IIRC) Barbara Boxer in the Democratic Senatorial primary in California.  For a California Democrat, Kaus makes some excellent points.  As does Lawrence, as you'd expect.

The only thing I'd add is that without this issue, Donald Trump would not be President today.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Aretha Franklin is dying

Damn.  Man, she did some good music.



More on Voting Machine hacks

ASM826's post from yesterday is a quick starting point, but there's a lot of interesting discussion (well, interesting to me; your mileage may vary) out there.

As you'd expect, The Register is all over this story with a lot of background.  If this story interests you, you should spend some time here.

But the situation is complex, and even security experts disagree on just how significant this is.  Bruce Schneier links to a funny XKCD comic on the subject and says (in a brevity is the soul of wit manner) that it's true.  But Robert Graham disagrees, in an interesting manner.  His post slides into what really is a discussion of system robustness - the ability of the system to function properly even when under attack.  I think he's on to something here, particularly the idea that the voting machine print out a paper ballot that the voter can check to make sure is correct.  The paper ballot is then filed for situations where you think you might want a recount.

For robustness, you should probably require recounts of paper ballots anytime the margin of victory is below a particular threshold, say 5% or so.

Monday, August 13, 2018

All Your Base Are Belong To Us

Voting doesn't matter as much as vote counting.

An 11-year-old boy on Friday was able to hack into a replica of the Florida state election website and change voting results found there in under 10 minutes during the world’s largest yearly hacking convention, DEFCON 26, organizers of the event said.
RTWT.

Seen around the 'net


The Archdruid is blogging again, at Ecosophia.  It's long, but he covers a lot of what's happening right now and will make you think.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Heinrich Ignaz Franz von Biber - Sonata IV in C Major for Trumpet and Strings

Today is the birthday of Franz Biber, one of the greatest composers for violin.  His reputation in the 17th Century was unsurpassed, as he not only was a virtuoso performer (playing for the Emperor Leopold among others) but as a composer and publisher.  He was noted for his technique on the violin, opening the door to a new approach that allowed baroque violinists to reach new heights.

Much of his music was sacred, written in his post as Kapelmeister of Salzburg Cathedral.  This means that the style is somewhat out of place for today's ear (well, not mine so much, but you know how strange I am).  Today's selection includes baroque trumpet which shows a range of his music that you don't often hear.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Alternatives


Blake Shelton - I Lived It

Today is Hulk Hogan's 65th birthday.  As a birthday shout-out to the Hulkster, here's a song about wrestling.  Hollywood was fake, wrestling was real ...



I Lived It (songwriters: Rhett Akins, Ashley Gorley, Ben Hayslip, and Ross Copperman):
Daddy drove the wheels off a flatbed Ford
Flies found the hole in the old screen door
Granny said the dress that my sister wore
To church wasn't long enough 
Momma poured grease in a Chrisco can
Put a hundred thousand miles on a Sears box fan
Uncle Joe put tobacco on my hand
Where them yellow jacket's torn me up
And I ain't making this up 
Oh, you think I'm talking crazy
In a different language you might not understand
Oh, that's alright
That's just the kind of life that made me who I am
Just taking my mind on a visit
Back in time 'cause I miss it
You wouldn't know how to love it like I love it
Unless you lived it
And man, I lived it 
Granddaddy smoked Salems with the windows up
Drove me around in the back of that truck
We drank from the hose and spit in the cup
We all survived somehow 
Them old Duke boys, they're flattening their heels
Hollywood was fake, wrestling was real
Wouldn't dream of spending that two dollar bill
From pushing a lawnmower ‘round
I go back there right now 
Oh, you think I'm talking crazy
In a different language you might not understand
Oh, that's alright
That's just the kind of life that made me who I am
Just taking my mind on a visit
Back in time 'cause I miss it
You wouldn't know how to love it like I love it
Unless you lived it
And man, I lived it
Oh man, I lived it 
Oh, you think I'm talking crazy
In a different language you might not understand
Oh, that's alright
That's just the kind of life that made me who I am
Just taking my mind on a visit
Back in time 'cause I miss it
You wouldn't know how to love it like I love it
Unless you lived it
And man, I lived it
Oh man, I lived it

Friday, August 10, 2018

More surgery

The Queen Of The World is in for dental surgery (again) this morning. Posting will be light.

Return From Mosquito Heaven

It was beautiful. Weather was great, the waves were perfect, and the time spent made it worth the effort.






Thursday, August 9, 2018

The scientific crisis of reproducibility

I first ran across the Journal of Irreproducible Results back in the 1980s, but it was already 30 years old then.  It was a funny science spoof magazine publishing goofy pseudo-scientific papers like The Optimum Number Of Friends In The Information Age.  It ranged from chuckle worthy to belly laugh, but only if you were a nerd.

The premise of the magazine is that some papers could only be published there, as they could never be replicated.  Well, it seems that this may be standard operating procedure for much of the scientific literature:
An ambitious project that set out nearly 5 years ago to replicate experiments from 50 high-impact cancer biology papers, but gradually shrank that number, now expects to complete just 18 studies.
It seems that it's expensive to replicate experiments and so the project is scaling back in the face of lack of funding. This during a period where there is increasing discussion that perhaps a majority of the published papers are spurious, and when scientific paper retraction is at an all time high.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Woah

$43M in cash found in Nigerian apartment.  And I thought that all those emails were fake ...

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

You may not be interested in birthdays

But birthdays are interested in you.  Well, me at least.


Bah.  As Doc Holiday once said, I'm in my prime.



The post title, of course paraphrases Leon Trotsky's rather blood-soaked saying that while you might not be interested in war, war is interested in you.  I wonder what old Leon thought of birthdays?  I'm sort of okay with someone redistributing mine to someone who needs them more ...

Monday, August 6, 2018

Money does grow on trees after all

At least for this dog:
It all started when Negro discovered the school’s store on campus. Students will go there during their breaks and purchase things. 
This included cookies that they would feed to Negro. 
But the students weren’t the only ones learning things on the school grounds. Negro discovered what commerce is in that store. He figured out by watching the students that if you give something, you get something in return.
The dog put two and two together, and started showing up at the store with a leaf.  To buy his own cookies.


If you look closely you'll see his paw on a leaf that he'd just brought.
“He comes for cookies every day,” store attendant Gladys Barreto told The Dodo. “He always pays with a leaf. It is his daily purchase.”
They only let him get two cookies a day, to keep him from getting fat.  I love everything about this story.

No really, I'm sure it will fit


Sunday, August 5, 2018

Juán García de Zéspedes - Convidando está la noche

Mexico's first composer is likely to have been Juán García de Zéspedes, born 2 years before Hernan Cortez conquered the Aztecs.  Born in Pueblo, he may have been indian.  But he had a good singing voice and was trained by the Fathers at the Pueblo cathedral where he eventually became the choir director.

Sunset on the Outer Banks


Saturday, August 4, 2018

A moment of Zen

Last week's ride.

Photo by The Queen Of The World
Off to a Jimmy Buffett concert now.  Hopefully I won't blow out my flip flop ...

Alabama - Mountain Music

Photo by The Queen Of The World
Last weekend the Queen Of The World and I climbed on the Harley and road to Morgantown, WV for the Mountainfest bike rally.  It's a beautiful, scenic and windy ride and the rally was small but a lot of fun.  While we were there we went to the headline concert by the country supergroup Alabama.  I'd forgotten just how great their music was, which is a statement on my fading memory.  How else fo you explain forgetting this:
40 number 1 singles
10 number 1 albums
75 Million albums sold
3 5x platinum albums
3 4x platinum albums
4 double platinum albums
More ACM and CMA awards than you can shake a stick at
A Start on Hollywood's Walk Of Fame
Billboard Country Music artist of the 1980s
ACM Artist of the Decade
And oh by the way two Grammys, including one for this song.  An you can imagine at a venue called Mountainfest in West Virginia (in the hometown of the WV Mountaineers), this song had the crowd rocking.  So much so, in fact, that they sang it again as an encore.

Photo by The Queen Of The World
They are a very likable band.  Over the years they have donated over $70M to St. Jude's CHildren's Hospital, perhaps the single largest donation by a single private entity.



Mountain Music (Songwriter: Randy Owen):
Oh, play me some mountain music
Like grandma and grandpa used to play
Then I'll float on down the river
To a Cajun hideaway 
Drift away like Tom Sawyer
Ride a raft with ol' Huck Finn
Take a nap like Rip Van Winkle
Daze dreamin' again 
Oh, play me some mountain music
Like grandma and grandpa used to play
Then I'll float on down the river
To a Cajun hideaway 
Swim across the river, just to prove that I'm a man
Spend the day bein' lazy, just bein' nature's friend
Climb a long tall hick'ry bend it over, skinnin' cats
Playin' baseball with chert rocks, usin' sawmill slabs for bats 
Play some back home, come on music
That comes from the heart
Play somethin' with lots of feelin'
'Cause that's where music has to start 
Oh, play me some mountain music
Like grandma and grandpa used to play
Then I'll float on down the river
To a Cajun hideaway, hey hey 
Oh play me mountain music
Oh play me mountain music
It was actually less a concert than a singalong.  Everybody knew all the words, and that even includes me although it's been a long time since I've listened much to their music.  I think that's something that I'm going to change, adding them to my playlists.  They had the crowd rocking to May The Circle Be Unbroken, and while that's a song that lends itself to raucous singalong, they did it particularly well.

Friday, August 3, 2018

Maybe they have something on Donald Trump now


The Washington Post gives Trump's statement that he would "bring jobs back" four Pinocchios.

Your Friday feel-good stories

A week or two ago, a story made the rounds about how the entire town of North Platte turned out to feed a National Guard unit that was returning from training:
Col. Jaskolski, a veteran of the Iraq war, is commander of the 142nd Field Artillery Brigade of the Arkansas Army National Guard. For three weeks earlier this summer, the 142nd had been conducting an emergency deployment readiness exercise in Wyoming, training and sleeping outdoors, subsisting on field rations. Now it was time for the 700 soldiers to return to their base. 
A charter bus company had been hired for the 18-hour drive back to Arkansas. The Army had budgeted for a stop to get snacks. The bus company determined that the soldiers would reach North Platte, in western Nebraska, around the time they would likely be hungry. The company placed a call to the visitors’ bureau: Was there anywhere in town that could handle a succession of 21 buses, and get 700 soldiers in and out for a quick snack? 
North Platte said yes. North Platte has always said yes.
During World War II the troop trains would stop for water in North Platte, and the town would feed them.  A couple million of them over the course of the war.  People remembered.

This story made me think of the troop greeters in Bangor Maine near where I grew up:
BANGOR, Me. — Shortly before 11 on a recent Monday night, Cathy Czarnecki made sure the macadamia nut cookies were on the table of treats in a room at Bangor International Airport. The commercial passengers had all left, but 260 soldiers would soon arrive to a welcome that few of them expected. 
“Here they come!” someone shouted, and a dozen or so volunteers went out into the hallway and applauded as a line of soldiers in desert camouflage and tan boots poured into the small terminal. 
“Thank you for your service,” one man said to a soldier while shaking his hand. “Welcome to Maine,” another greeter said.
The tarmac at the airport there was built for Dow Air Force Base, which hosted B-52s.  It's the most eastern major runway in the United States, and so flights returning troops from the Middle East would land there to refuel.  Or planes on their way out.
The plane on that Monday night brought troops from bases in California, Nevada, Utah and Washington, and was headed to Ramstein Air Base in Germany and then to the Middle East. It was the 1,774th flight greeted since May 2003, with 335,195 men and women and 35 military dogs having passed through the airport. 
“Use a cellphone, call home,” Mr. Knight said as he doled them out. “Have something,” he added, motioning to the food. 
Lt. Col. Eric Shalita, 43, did both, helping himself to a powdered donut after calling his wife and two daughters at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada. “It was amazing,” Colonel Shalita said. “We were completely not expecting this.”
The troop greeters are there at all hours of the day or night, and in all weather.  PBS did a show about them ten years ago or so.  It may have been the last time I watched PBS, because Dad called me and told me it was on.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Army Manual Improvised Weapons & Munitions TM 31-210

The manual you are looking for is TM 31-210. Section 3 has directions to make pistols and shotguns out of materials you can purchase in a hardware store.

Buying a 3D printer, downloading and configuring the software, and printing a plastic single shot pistol is time consuming and expensive.

Do it the ARMY way.


Things that make you go "Hmmmm"

Remember the Usual Suspects® saying that they can ban AR-15s because the Second Amendment only applied to what was available at the time?




Is the 9th Circuit regaining its sanity?

First it ruled that the right to keep and bear arms means what it says.  Now it says that the Police have to protect Trump rallies:
The suit's 20 plaintiffs claim in a lawsuit that police knowingly ordered them to leave through an exit where protesters were waiting, despite the existence of a safer route and other exits, the San Francisco Chroniclereported last week. 
... 
On Friday, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco said, if the allegations are true, “the officers acted with deliberate indifference to a known and obvious danger” and violated the constitutional rights of Trump supporters.
I believe that this is one of the Signs of the Apocalypse.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Rest in peace, Captain Dickson

One of the Tuskegee Airmen, lost in action in 1944.  His remains have just been recovered and identified.
All we have of freedom 
all we use or know 
this our fathers bought for us  
long and long ago.
- Rudyard Kipling

Genius Award

Florida man wasn't drinking and driving.  He was only drinking at stop signs:
According to TCPalm, the 69-year-old was pulled over at a McDonald's drive-thru on June 27 after a woman said a vehicle behind her kept hitting her rear bumper.  
Stevens said he’s never had a valid Florida driver's license and deputies noticed an open bottle of liquor in the passenger seat of his car. Deputies said Stevens smelled of alcohol and said he felt "pretty good." He also told deputies he was drinking Jim Beam bourbon from the bottle found in the passenger seat, then gave arguably the worst (or best) excuse ever. 
“He further explained that he was not drinking while the car was moving and only when he stopped for stop signs and traffic signals,” the arrest affidavit states.
The news report does not say if, when he was asked to walk a straight line, he replied "hold mah beer".

It's not "Socialized Healthcare"

It's "Political Healthcare":
The story of Oliver Cameron, born with a deadly heart condition and saved by surgeons at Boston Children’s Hospital (BCH), is an inspiring testament to the refusal of two parents to accept anything less than state-of-the-art medical treatment for their baby. Yet, if you want to know the details of his amazing recovery, you won’t find them in any major U.S. news outlet. Why not? Oliver’s story highlights the abject failure of socialized medicine and the spectacular success of the best health care system on the planet. In other words, it belies an ongoing propaganda campaign conducted by the media. 
Oliver’s story, which was even ignored by the Boston Globe, must be gleaned from sporadic reports in the British press, a few American news sites like the Daily Wire, social media, and the BCH website: Oliver was born in the UK, on the last day of January 2017, with a condition called cardiac fibroma — a large benign tumor of the heart. The term “benign” is misleading, however, indicating only that the tumor was non-cancerous. It was by no means benign in its effect on Oliver’s health. The condition rendered his heartbeat dangerously erratic, often causing his pulse to race at near lethal speeds. 
It soon became evident that, for Oliver to have any chance of reaching his first birthday, the tumor had to be removed. At this point Oliver’s parents were horrified to learn that the UK’s socialized medical system, the National Health Service (NHS), doesn’t employ a single surgeon with the expertise to perform that procedure. All they offered Oliver was a place on a purgatorial heart transplant list, but Tim and Lydia Cameron didn’t accept that. They began researching their son’s condition hoping to find some ray of hope. They found it at Boston Children’s Hospital.
Ah, but remember poor little Alfie Evans?  He also had promises of healthcare far from the shores of Her Majesty's scepter'd isle, but the bureaucrats at the National Health Service refused to let him leave, even posting police to prevent his getting foreign care.  So what hope did little Oliver have?

It turns out, the NHS bureaucrats flinched from the bad press they had been receiving:
Caution was indeed a wise policy. The NHS predictably refused the couple’s plea for Oliver to be sent to Boston where competent surgeons could perform the life-saving surgery. Lydia and Tim then asked if the NHS would agree to bring the American surgeons to the UK to perform the procedure. Inevitably, the NHS refused that request also. In desperation, the couple set up a crowd-funding page on GoFundMe in the hope that the NHS would allow Oliver to go to the U.S. if they paid for it themselves. By the middle of August, the Camerons had raised nearly £150,000 of their £200,000 goal.

Meanwhile, the major media all but ignored Oliver’s dilemma. The BBC, for example, ran a whopping 85-word story. Ironically, the media inadvertently aided the couple with its concurrent coverage of the controversial Charlie Gard case. Just as Oliver’s parents began raising money, public pressure on the NHS was steadily intensifying pursuant to its refusal to allow Charlie to go to the U.S., where a hospital had offered to admit him for experimental treatment. Shortly after Charlie died, the NHS suddenly reversed its position. Oliver could go to Boston.
Charlie Gard was another baby that was killed by the NHS, in a dry run for Alfie Evans.  But while it's very unlikely that the bureaucrats had a conscience or a sense of shame, they did have a bureaucrat's finely-tuned sense of self preservation.  And so they let Oliver go to Boston, where American surgeons saved his life.
In other words, the NHS allowed Oliver to get competent treatment in the U.S. primarily as a way of avoiding further bad publicity. And the American “news” media, having inadvertently given socialized medicine a black eye by devoting so much coverage to the Charlie Gard atrocity, remained silent as the tomb regarding the NHS decision to send Oliver Cameron to Boston Children’s Hospital for surgery. And, when that 8-hour procedure proved successful, it was all but blacked out by the media.
The media blackout is passing strange, is it not?  We are drowning in glowing stories about the newly proposed "Medicare for Everyone" plan that would nationalize every doctor in the land.  Why, oh why is the media not covering stories like Oliver's?
There are three obvious lessons here: First, socialism doesn’t work in medicine or any other human enterprise. It removes the incentive to keep up with the times and it invariably puts soulless bureaucrats in charge of your life. These people couldn’t care less if you live or die. Second, capitalism does work in medicine and every other human enterprise. It provides the incentive to remain state-of-the-art, and it puts you in charge of your own life. Third, anyone who says socialism will render U.S. health care more efficient or equitable than our quasi-capitalistic system is an idiot or a liar.
My one gentle criticism of the author is that last sentence: idiot or liar.  Perhaps we can embrace the healing power of "and"?

Anyone who is enamored of socialized medicine might productively read through my posts tagged "Killed by socialized medicine" which go back nine years.  There are lots of examples that the media generally doesn't report.

A River Song - A Brigid Guest Post

Frost on the window turned to fog as the heat kicks on.  It was a trip to my Dads, taken in the fall, the growl of the furnace waking from hibernation, waking me too early from the rapture of deep sleep, as I roll over and sigh with its loss.

Dad was still sleeping - going to bed around 7:30 pm waking about the same time in the morning. For myself, a cup of hot coffee and freshly baked bread, consumed at the table that's seen several generations pass.  A sip of liquid, the tear of bread, a communion with the morning, as I said a prayer of thanks.  Elsewhere, the world rushed ahead, gathering like seagulls at a fast food place, eating their microwaved food thrown at them out a window. Few wish to get up earlier just to have this quiet time, the language of yeast and oven and hands being a foreign tongue, a Mass for the dead, the generations gone, whispering from the walls around.  That morning, I sensed them, the history in this house, even as I knew they are not there, the words I spoke, head bowed, a whisper in the mist.
Each time I visit, weeks apart, I wonder if it will be my last, but for a funeral.  It's a thought that's never far from my mind as I arrived back home, the clock showing a new day has started, even as I exited the terminal from a delayed flight.  Cabs waited, hovering around the doors, like stray cats, seeking warmth and sustenance. I hailed one, my husband being told to not wait up when I realized I'd be landing just a few hours before he got up for work.  The driver was an older man, cordial and polite. After ensuring I was buckled in, and an obeisant glance at the cross on the rear-view mirror,  he takes off into the night, uttering a torrent of Greek into his hands-free phone, a cheerful animated conversation with a friend, by his tone.  Though he's totally attuned to the road, his words rush past with emotion, a smile, a gesture of futility, a pondering frown, and more smiles.  Of the rapidly flowing language, I only caught one phrase in English "walking dead" and I had to stifle my laughter.  We are a nation as bound by the old as we are the new.

Each time I go home to see Dad, things change. Small businesses closed, a big box mart type store replacing a row of houses that used to line the small highway in a nearby town.  Dad's house itself is largely unchanged, but for fresh paint and a good roof, something my brother always took care of. The only thing that changes as I come in, is my Father, the man slowly and carefully coming to the door, still the man I remember chasing me down the street when those training wheels came off the bicycle and I realized how fast I could fly, unfettered. Yet, even as he's approaching a hundred years on this earth, his spirit is as strong as the staff in his hand, to be raised when one needs help to fight, to be leaned on when one is weary. Yet even as he has aged, he's remained a constant, and even as my own faith at times foundered, I saw his strengthen in his eyes.
On the table by his chair lay a well worn Bible, something to be read each day before his meal. On the wall, certificates and flags, photos of submarines and airplanes, markers of duty that stand above a table on which sit two children's toys, sturdy little vehicles a generation old, one commanded by a small, well-loved teddy bear. Dad has outlived two wives and two children in this house, an older sister, lost before I was adopted, and the reason this family became mine. As I sat each day and listened to him read, I was aware, dimly and without regret, of the silent sundering of this family, too soon, only one of us remaining.

But the words of the Book of Psalms call me back into the present  This is the day which the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it. And we will, taking every moment we can out of the time remaining, like the savoring of a fine meal, one flavor upon another, sweet diffusing the bitter, the spray of warmth against the tongue, the velvet of oil, that binds but does not subdue. We are not shy guests at the feast the world offers, breathing deep of the day. Like the freshly baked bread, the air is full of the breath of sweet warmth, comforting long after it has been consumed.
After the breakfast dishes were washed, we would make our way into town for gas and supplies, taking the ferry. It's a ritual journey that's been made a hundred times. Sure, one can take a small bridge to the other route, then a huge span of metal across the river some miles further, but it's not nearly as fun. Passing the Nordic Hall, we get to the ferry in time to be first on, where Dad can sit in the vehicle sensing the motion, and I can lean against the front barrier, the wind in my hair, stray raindrops on my face.

The river looked like steel, the wind coming from the mouth of the river, humming as if through wire. I remembered another ferry ride, the last one with my big brother, as he stepped off the boat back to land, to have that silent cigarette he thinks I don't know he'd smoke.  I watched him in the faded fabric of the shore, his form, a thin piece of steel unbending before the wind, the embers of his cigarette fraying away in fiery shreds, carried on that biting wind like sparks of ice.
That day, everyone now on board, we moved away from the dock. The ferry moved with the aged motion of service, the rituals of grace, the tending of the fires of an altar, burdens born secretly, yet even in its cumbersome age, moving towards the light on the horizon.

A ferry has been making this run for almost a hundred years, and will a hundred after we are all gone. The faint leap of my heart reminding me of how much I missed the water, the faintly metallic scent of the sea, evoking pale images of silent hopes, the fragrance of forgotten tears.  The other riders probably thought I'm was daft, standing out there in the cold and the wind, the throb of the engine a song within me, of history and a name which lies on the edge of memory beyond capturing, falling behind, left in the churning wake. The sound of a ship's horn brought me out of my pondering, cleaving the air like a star does the secrecy of night.  I turned and waved at my Dad, and went back in the vehicle to keep him company.

I would make this trip again, the intervals between, shorter and shorter, as is time. Even when the last trip is made, the ferry will continue to run. From island to shore, from the past to the future, the span of distance is small.
 - Brigid

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Government is what we choose to do together

County forces 91 year old woman to tear down her wheelchair ramp:
LAUREL, Md. (ABC7) — Prince George’s County filed a legal case against a Laurel couple in their 90s over a wheelchair ramp in their own home. To avoid legal trouble, the elderly couple’s son tore down the ramp, trapping the woman in her own home. The county permitting department said the family had no permit to build a wheelchair ramp in front of their own home.
Let's count the stupidity:
  1. The County thinks that a 90 year old needs their permission to build a wheel chair ramp that allows them to leave their home.
  2. The County threatens to jail a 90 year old couple if they don't tear down what is essentially a fire exit.
  3. The inspector did not find any deficiencies in the ramp itself, but forced the 90 year old couple to tear it down and restart the process because it was the process.
I can't wait until these buffoons control our healthcare.  Oh, and remember this about Paul Ryan?


Who do you think the Prince Georges County Inspector votes for, Democrats or Republicans?

Monday, July 30, 2018

How Crime Networks Form


Back from hiatus

The Queen Of The World and I rode the motorcycle to Morgantown, WV for Mountainfest over the weekend.  I haven't found a decent app for blogging from the iPhone, and so it was a bit quiet here while we were gone.  Thanks to co-bloggers Brigid and ASM826 for putting up some posts.

But it was nice to unplug from the 'net for a bit.  And the ride is nothing if not scenic and since we somehow lucked out and missed the rain on the way over and back, it was a nice ride.  Alabama put on a really good concert there (pix to come later).

But now back to the grind.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Driving Miss Abby - A Brigid Guest Post

The photo is Miss Madeline Car, a restored Triumph that sits in my garage longing for warmer days and solitary country roads. In the city,  where traffic is heavy and the red signal light appears to be only a suggestion,  I drive a very large, full size, extended cab 4 x 4. It's helpful for visibility in this and other cities where everyone drives like they are in Nascar.  But it is really not maneuverable enough for Chicago, the home of high-speed slalom driving thanks to potholes which are cleverly laid out in key locations to test driver's reflexes and keep them on their toes.

Still, I feel safer in it than most vehicles I've owned and since it's paid for I'll just stay on my toes.

Work-wise - over the years I've had an assortment of cars to use while on official business, all that came with strict rules as to who and how they were used.  If I'm in the work vehicle, I obey the speed limit and slow ever further down if I see a Patrol car, because nothing will make you the object of jokes more than getting a ticket while in the Squirrelmobile.
Some years back before I was with the Secret Squirrel agency, I worked for another such outfit that we will simply refer to as International Sneaky Service, different work, but like any job, with its own set of rules. As always, I was the only woman and commonly I was the team leader.  Several of us were out on a mission when, at the place we stopped on our drive, to eat lunch, the local animal shelter was having a "adopt a pet" for the locals in the parking lot next door. One of my work team wandered over to pat a pooch. He came back and said, "there's a really cool Lab I want to adopt, he's older, no one wants him, I have to give him a home".

I'm in command here, he's looking at me for the OK. He's got no one, a couple years from retirement, his girl leaving him after a long tour away. I haven't seen this look on his face for far too long.

I look at the rest of the group, one of them a combat vet who got shot down, his legs burned badly, he's missing some toes, but not his heart. Another was a former Marine, as tough as they come, but whom I've seen shed tears when a dog was lost in duty. The probie with us was quiet. I nod my head.

Twenty minutes later, he has custody of one very happy, well behaved and older, male Labrador retriever. But how to get the dog home? We'll just put him in the official Sneaky Service vehicle and bring him back to headquarters where he can get transferred to his new owners truck stealthily in the parking lot out back as he was off duty when he got back.  But probie says. "we can't' take anyone on official business in the Sneaky car, we'll be up on charges".

I said, "that's people, no civilians allowed,  contractors/ employees only, we know that but there's nothing in the rules about a dog, he can't sue our boss if we have a fender bender" So off we go, all the while, probie stewing and fretting in the back seat, treating the dog like a bomb getting ready to blow. Finally as we near our destination, he just loses it, his voice rising up an octave as he exclaims, "A dog in the Sneaky car, a DOG in the Sneaky CAR!! We might as well have a KILO of COCAINE in here!!"

The dog was obtained during our meal break, and these guys were my responsibility. If anyone was going to get chewed out for giving Fido a lift it would only be me, NOT the probie. Fortunately, we had arrived. As we covertly left the vehicle for another team to soon use, and got ready to move Fido, we discovered the reason said dog may have needed a new home. From the back seat came a cloud of doggie gas that would gag a maggot. Retreat! We quickly got him out and closed the doors, moving him to the waiting truck of his new Dad. As we went inside the building, not even noticing we were back, we couldn't help but see the new guys open the door of the car we'd just evacuated with "WT . . . *)#(@. . .What's that SMELL! OMG!!!!"

That's been quite a few years ago. His remaining short years were good ones, happy and well loved, with his adopted Dad, who apparently had no sense of smell. Hopefully, now, he is in doggie heaven, where everything smells like bacon.

Barkley Memories - Alway Up to Something

Then there are the long trips by myself. I'm not sure why I enjoy the car trips. I guess the wandering spirit runs in my blood, passed on my from Air Force father to me. Seems like ever since I got a control yoke in my hand I've been wandering across miles of land . . . across rivers and towns. My Mom would have preferred I marry a hometown boy and stay in the tiny town in which I was raised, but once I tasted adventure, I was born into that gypsy life and have never really known another.

St. Expurey said, "he who would travel happily must travel light". And this adventurer did travel light, based across the US, with a short stint as a contractor overseas. I remember those early years, I remember not just the travel, the airplanes themselves, but the feel of the starched uniform shirt I wore, the smell of a crewman's aftershave (which thank heavens wasn't Brut). It seems as if all my early years were reflected in the window of those moving airplanes. I see my reflection, my past, through bug sprayed glass that tints the world bright.

The airplane, the destination and the years changed, as did the landscape of my career, but some things never changed. Days in an airplane traveling far. Miles and hours spent watching the landscape, silver grain elevators, red-winged birds, mountains formed of ice and fluid need, and rivers without borders, all blending into a bright diorama of life racing past. The world looks different from above, clouds massive and dark, looming up like a target in a gun sight, looking twice the size of an ordinary man.

I have spent a half of my life it seems on the way somewhere. I have watched a hundred cumulus clouds erupt, the mass assassination of mayflies and the disappearance of a slice of cherry pie at a tiny airport diner and the journey was only beginning.

Along with me came the music, classical, jazz, and music from the Swing Era f there was a CD player in the vehicle. There are parts of the earth you can hear music of all types, there are areas where all you will find is country Western. Some of it is good, it certainly taught me a few things. .

(1) No matter where you are in the plains states, somewhere, on some station, someone is playing "Bad Bad Leroy Brown".

(2) If the singer is going on about taking you for a ride on his "big tractor", he's NOT talking about farm equipment.
3) there will be areas where all you can find is rap or Hispanic music. If that happens make up your own country songs - "If he hadn't been so good lookin I might have seen the train".
And finally, after many hours straight of broke down, done wrong, sad tears kind of songs I realized that -

4) At the gas station of love, sometimes it's self service and no fresh coffee.
Finally, though, I'm home where, fortunately, I have someone of the four-legged variety waiting eagerly for me, (with the two-legged kind arriving home soon) Life is good, worth singing about, even if my knee has gone to sleep.

Til then, I have Abby. She's good company, at home or in the truck. She's a heartbeat at my feet on those nights I'm alone in the house when my husband is on the road and a draft of lonely wind taps at my soul. Like Barkley, she's the uncomplicated creature I could be if I knew better. She challenges any threat with honor; to bark at the UPS man is the utmost of patriotism for her, and she quietly offers me an affection ignorant of my faults. She sleeps deeply yet watchfully and for her cunning seems to have no knowledge of death, and relies on me to do her worrying about that for her.

When she goes on a trip with me, she gently lets me put the driving harness on her, so she stays secure, then quietly lays down and goes to sleep until we have arrived. I will miss Barkley until the day I die.  But getting an older dog from Rescue was one of the best decisions I ever made along the way. Since the day she showed up at the door with her Foster Mom, she's been a warm, brave and loving companion that has made the continued journey worth taking.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

The L.A. Speed Story

SR-71s and the forming of a team. Told by the pilot.


Friday, July 27, 2018

Good news and bad news for Harley-Davidson

It looks like the EU is working on dropping most tariffs - and since these added something like four grand to the cost of a hog sold there, this is good news for HOG.  More good news for Harley is that this may even mean that Trump's tariffs on imported EU steel will go down or away, letting them lower prices or solidifying the bottom line.

The bad news is that the Harley buying demographic is getting even older.  Kids these days aren't saddling up like they did in the past.  Dr. Jim has a bunch of reasons why.  This is my favorite:
You have to shift manually and use something called a clutch.
It's funny because it's true.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

On Timing - A Brigid Guest Post

Doc Holliday:  What did you ever want?
Wyatt Earp:   Just to live a normal life.
Doc Holliday: There's no normal life, Wyatt, it's just life. Get on with it.
Wyatt Earp: Don't know how.
Doc Holliday: Sure you do. Say goodbye to me. Go grab that spirited actress and make her your own. Take that beauty from it, don't look back.  Live every second. Live right on to the end. Live Wyatt. Live for me.   Wyatt, if you were ever my friend -  if ya ever had even the slightest of feelin' for me,
leave now. Leave now... Please.

Timing is everything they say.

In ballistics certainly so. In the outcome of a day even more so.  I missed out on a flight  in a smallish plane some years ago, because I was suddenly sick to my stomach. All aboard died.  My stomach bug was not the flu but a yet known and unplanned pregnancy.

How many of us, unknowingly, missed a vehicular accident, a violent crime or a whack from mother nature, simply because we forgot our phone and ran back into the house, decided to linger over that nice little .380 in the case, or simply had too much, or too little caffeine.
Timing.

Timing can be good.  It can also be lousy. Missed trains, missed job opportunities.  Missed dreams.  I've heard from more than one guy friend that he was bummed the "girl of his dreams" had found someone. Yet, he never asked her out, couldn't express the feelings until it was too late, sometimes remaining silent for months or even years, growing only older of bone and pride.

Timing.

When we were kids, we ran around with time simply carried in our pocket, as dense and round as a coin, many coins, that jingle as we ran. We are told by some grownups that we soon will have to grow up and leave childish dreams behind, but we don't listen, because we have nothing in our experience to gauge their caution by, to give the portent of a structured future any range and meaning.  Besides we are too busy, just doing things that kids do, even if that was just sitting and waiting for hours for a fish to bite a tiny hook.

Then, seemingly overnight, we fell into that grown up, carefully measured and timed world, picking up our watch in the process. The dreams of childhood passed behind as we jumped on board a fast moving train, losing our innocence before we even fully realized we possessed it.
As adults we are governed by time, watches, and cell phones and alarm clocks and schedules.  Mechanical clocks and biological ones. We rush headlong into actions without considerations, as if the sheer and simple arranged succession of days was not fast enough, constituted without capacity enough, so that weeks and months and years of living had to be condensed down into one moment, and it is today, now.  We as a society, and as individuals, do not seem to be able to closely watch and wait for that which is worth waiting for.  We feverishly work for things we do not need and we vote without thought for those that promise us prosperity without effort.

Everything is based on now. Do not pass GO, do not collect $200. What do you mean you haven't got a date, got a spouse, a house, a baby, and we need to talk to you about those 25 pounds.  Everything is on a time schedule and it's not necessarily ours. Meals are microwaved, we speed date, express wash, Kwik-e-Mart, and you know what? We find that in rushing towards what we're supposed to want, we missed the things that can truly change our lives.

Reset your clock.

Just once, turn off your computer turn off your cell phone, turn off Twitter, and Facebook and clear your calender for a few hours.

Pick up that old firearm that may have been your Dad's, or your Grandfathers and head out into the country.  If you don't hunt, then pick up a camera, a drawing pad and a pencil.  But take some tool that will open up the wilderness to you and go.
Go out into that rapid and fading back country that is retreating as the tide is, walk out into that land that was ours, is ours, field and forest, bayou and orchard, grain and dust, harbor and thicket. Go on out and decide what is important and what is not, among all the flotsam and jetsam in your life, where it is going and how much control you're going to give to others over it.

Go out into that land that still carries the tracks of those that crossed this nation to build, to grow; men, and women and children, bringing with them their tools and trades, goods and gear, by steamer, by wagon wheel by train, by big slow rivers that sometimes revealed no current and sometimes ran backwards, running not to hide, but to dream, all the way to the ocean. It was a land on which a man ate only by the sweat of his brow, the ability to plow a straight furrow or chop down a limb without removing one of his own.  It was a land of milk and honey, steelhead and gold, which offered itself up on rare occasion from the earth as compensation for torn lives and broken bones, payment which neither man nor his government proffered for the weak or the foolish.

Find a spot out in this expanse of history and sit and take it in.

There is so much that might have been, could have been, wrong place, wrong time, so boundless in capacity is man's imagination to burn and scatter away the refuse of probability, leaving only yearning and dreams. No time or space or distance can keep you from that what matters, even if to the world, your dreams of your life is and what kind of world you wish to live in, are little more than transparent scratchings on depthless glass.
I'll sit by my brothers bedside as the chemicals go into his body that may or may not kill the cancer that's consuming him with fire that bears no warmth. There is the steady whoosh from machinery in the room, the movement of unsleeping blood, the intake of air. The room is simple, but its corners and edges hold the quiet, complex lives of two very secret people, who long ago escaped from a place that held only pain, there in that season between thunder and any thought of rain, finding their own shelter, with a new family.  Now, we have no season, the hospital room alternating day and night in a vacuum in which light is only a hope.

As you sit out there in that countryside, think of these words. Stop and look and breathe. Pick up a discarded piece of wood. Think of what you have, what means the world to you, and what and who you will fight for, as an individual, as part of a family and as a citizen.
Then carve your name on that little piece of wood, carve the name of the one you fight for, or simply carve "Freedom", the letters bearing one clear unfettered voice that sounds out, through the delicate attenuation of your actions, through the ringing bells of your worth, through the tone that is the weight of silent guns - I WAS here, I AM here, there IS still time.

Then go back home to your home and your memories.  A heart shaped locket with a young woman and a man in an airman's uniform, months before war separated them for years. A shirt that could fit a thousand others but which only one wore so long that you will forever know its wearer by the simple feel of the fabric underneath your fingertips, the echo of sandalwood that clings to blue cotton. Go back to your present. A photo on the wall of those who still live to tell you their stories, to hold firm your past, memories that are borne on the air that you still breathe, invisible, yet essential as air itself. Go back to your future. A flag on a wall, one for which your loved ones gave up much of their life for, or even, life itself.

Go back and claim what is there, while there is still time.
 - Brigid

Criminalizing Soda Straws

There is a proposed bill in the California House that would make it a crime to give a restaurant patron a straw unless the patron specifically requests one. Each instance would be punishable by 6 months in jail and a $1,000 fine.

Leaving aside the costs associated with incarceration and the availability of jail space for the offending wait staff, The larger issue is the ongoing criminalization of activities performed by non-criminals regular people everyone.
“There’s no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren’t enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for me to live without breaking laws. Who wants a nation of law-abiding citizens? What’s there in that for anyone? But just pass the kind of laws that can neither be observed or enforced nor objectively interpreted - and you create a nation of law-breakers - and then you cash in on guilt.” --Ayn Rand
UPDATE 26 July 2018 22:31 [Borepatch]: Release the memes!




And there's more where that comes from ...


New York Times fake news is a hit piece on the Dominican Republic

Tourism is one of the Dominican Republic's most important industries.  Blessed by spectacular Caribbean beaches, people from all over the world vacation there.  But fear not, Gentle Reader, the New York Times is doing its best to wreck what little prosperity that tourism brings:
Come for the beaches, say tourism ads for the Dominican Republic. 
But it has some beaches you might want to skip right now. 
The Caribbean nation is known for sapphire seas and ivory beaches, but it is grappling with waves of garbage washing up on its shores, a vivid reminder of the presence of thousands of tons of plastic in the world’s oceans.
This article is garbage.  I know for a fact that the DR's beaches are some of the best in the world.  The Queen Of The World and I went there just three years ago.

Bavaro beach, Dominican Republic, 2015
It's nothing short of spectacular.

Bavaro beach, Dominican Republic, 2015
It's also inexpensive and easy to get to.  The people are friendly beyond belief.  If you're looking for a Caribbean vacation, this gets two thumbs up from the Queen Of The World and me.

But back to the Times.  It seems that the reporter put the story together from press releases from an environmental advocacy group:
Relying on Cyrill Gutsch, the founder of Parley for the Oceans, who is based in New York, Karasz parrots “It happens pretty much all the time if there is a strong rainfall or a storm,…The phenomenon is not confined to the Dominican Republic, and can be seen in many developing nations with a coastline. “Everybody uses the rivers and the beaches as dump sites.” and “What is happening in the Dominican Republic is only a small symptom of the larger global problem”, Mr. Gutsch said. Plastic dumped in and near rivers washes into the ocean, and only a small percentage bounces back onto shore. The majority makes it to the high seas.”
So who are you going to believe, the Cyrill Gutsch and his anti-plastics crusaide, or your lying eyes?

But it's worse than that.  This sort of naked, fake news environmental advocacy comes at the expense of the people to the DR.  This is a developing country, and the people there are poor.  Why would the Times publish and incorrect story that might cause poor people to lose their jobs?

The obvious answer, of course, is that environmentalists in general and the Times in particular don't care about poor people.  They care about their ridiculous dogma.  It's Rich People's Leftism.  That right there is why I have a tag It's Not Easy Being Green.

Tax Dollars at Work

Seattle recently spent $52 million on ten new street cars. They did this on contract, gave specifications to the manufacturer, the contract called for the cars to be between 65 and 75.5 feet long with a max weight of 95,000 pounds.

The existing street cars are 65 feet long and 60,000 pounds.

The new streetcars are too large to fit in the maintenance barns and possibly too large and heavy for the existing system of tracks.

The $5.2 million per car is staggering, how many riders would a streetcar have to have over it's lifetime to make this purchase make economic sense?

However, that's just the start of it. The cost of the project is now $200 million and an estimate of $24 million dollars a year (from the vendor) in operating expenses for the 6 mile streetcar system,  including a 1/2 mile extension of the existing lines to join them in a loop.

The mayor has finally put the expansion on hold pending a review.

"Undocumented Immigrant" term will not longer be used at Department of Justice

Speaking clearly, for a change (warning: autoplay):
The Justice Department has instructed US attorneys offices not to use the term "undocumented" immigrants and instead refer to someone illegally in the US as "an illegal alien," according to a copy of an agency-wide email obtained by CNN. 
According to the email, the Justice Department uses terms in the US Code to describe an individual who is illegally in the US, and thus refers to them as "an illegal alien." 
"The word 'undocumented' is not based in US code and should not be used to describe someone's illegal presence in the country," the email states.
Seems that it is the correct legal term.  No doubt the Usual Suspects will go nuts in 3 .. 2 .. 1 ..

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

A thought for the day


Heh.  Shamelessly stolen from Gorges Smythe, who has a whole lot more.