Archive for the ‘Phony Crime Solutions’ Category

Memo For File CVII

Monday, February 15th, 2010

I’ve decided the time has come to honor the advice of The Bastidge, and follow it. There is certainly a valid point to be made that the world, and therefore the populace that inhabits it, straddles a chasmatic divide separating two unacknowledged communities, and that each of these communities in perfect isolation would enjoy a harmony that must elude us as we co-exist with each other as a monolith. The divide has something to do with order versus chaos, clarity versus obfuscation, substance versus packaging, individual rights versus community obligations, opportunity versus security, pulling your weight versus fitting-in, logic versus emotion.

We’re seeing it right now with the health care debate. And it substantiates the point all the more when we observe that much of the controversy and dissention swirls around this ramshackle, oxymoronic thing called a “public option.”

I called this “Yin and Yang” out of a desire to get to the bottom of what causes people to pursue, throughout their entire lives, one way of thinking over another. The Yin work within boundaries; the Yang do not. The concept is centuries old, and dates back to periods in different world cultures in which femininity itself was a concept synonymous with the stewardship of quiet, contemplative female chores. In societies like this, it naturally follows that men think of things the way women do in ours, and women must think of things the way men do in ours. Here’s a litmus test: Friend of a friend buys a new car. Or, gets carjacked. It’s a great story to tell for sure, but who is to spend time talking about it?

In an agricultural setting, what happens to one has at least the likelihood of impacting everybody else. And so it makes good sense for people to get together somewhere and swap stories. But these are “Shut Your Girl Mouth Men Are Talking” societies. To whatever extent checking-this-out evolves to become a necessary household chore, it is a manly chore. A railroad’s coming to town, maybe (how does this change things?). Farmer Brown’s crops got wiped out by the cold weather (are ours next?). Who goes down to the saloon to find out about this stuff. It’s not the Mama; there are meals to be cooked, a floor to be swept.

Now, we have the automobile. The printing press. The Internet. Womens’ Lib. And when the time comes to swap tidbits of useful news, who does that? Here is what a lot of people are missing: This is a perfect reversal. We do not have mead halls where the men go to drink beer out of steins and compare prices of bushels of corn. It would be awesome if we did, for sure. But it’s not happening, because the gender roles in our society have flipped around in a perfect one-eighty. Men retreat into their own little worlds, not unlike the kitchens that enveloped their great-grandmothers. Their “kitchens” may be just about anything: A computer with a stubborn virus on it; a classic car that’s being rebuilt; a ham radio or a model train set down in the basement; but there is always a project, it always has a border around it, and that’s what men do.

This awesome Art of Manliness article offers a chronicling of what happened to our mead halls. It began, irony of ironies, with us guys being decent and kind enough to give the ladies the right to vote. Prohibition followed that, and…

For centuries, a man could visit a bar and be in the exclusive presence of other men. Because drinking was seen as a corrupting influence on the “purity and innocence” of women, bars were completely off limits to ladies (exceptions were made for prostitutes, of course). Out of the presence of women and children, men could open up more and revel in their masculinity over a mug of cold ale. However, the bar as a men’s only hangout would quickly see its demise during the dry years of Prohibition.

By banning alcohol, Prohibition forced drinking underground. Speakeasy owners, desperate to make a buck, accepted all drinkers into their establishments, regardless of gender. Moreover, the economic and political empowerment women experienced during the 1920s and 30s made drinking by women more acceptable. By the time Prohibition was repealed, the female presence at the local watering hole had become a common appearance.

World War II only further eroded the male exclusivity of bars and pubs. As more women entered the workforce, it became acceptable to socialize with their male co-workers in taverns and lounges after work.

Today, there aren’t many bars around that cater only to men (gay bars being an obvious exception). Instead, bars have become a place where the sexes come together to mingle and look for a special someone.

Note the article’s title: “The Decline of Male Space.” Men used to own the world. Now, we don’t. We have relinquished the privilege and obligation of socializing, turned it over to the gals, and toddled off to the basement to go play with our train sets. The women do what we used to do — they hold court and they compare their notes with each other, try to see if there’s some hidden meaning of everyday events that might affect the family.

This is precisely what their great-great-grandfathers did. The very same thing.

And so I grow weary of having to explain this. Yes, “Yin” is traditionally female, although I use it to describe a personality attribute that predominantly is to be found in our males. Yang, likewise, is traditionally male, although it describes things our women usually do and that our men, typically, don’t. The concept didn’t flip around, the gender roles did. And so, I have to concede that The Bastidge is accurate in his critique:

Your theory’s alright, if a bit vague and rambling. But Yin and Yang have a specific meaning, and you’re using them more or less backwards.

Yin is a concept roughly aligned with the female, but the concepts covered in your theory- group consciousness, socializing, consensus, softness, weakness, emotion, passivity, are all associated with it.

Yang is roughly male, but also strong, factual, direct, resolute, hard, aggresiive, etc.

In their crudest, most basic form, yin and yang refer to the female and male sexual organs.

My use of these names was arbitrary anyway, and that was on purpose. For the last five years I have seen these as placeholders for something more descriptive that would, and should, come later. After I’d given it another think. Well, with this morass of a health care “debate” that has been taking place, and will surely flare up again later this year, I’ve been forced to give it another think. Besides of which, I’ve met lots and lots of manly-male guys who do their thinking in a much “Yangy-er” way than a lot of the females…so the genders don’t fit well in any case.

And I think the terms are these:

Architects and Medicators.

The word “Architect” is chosen with care. Way back in our history, when written language was a novel idea, architects were “master builders” (which is the etymology of the term). These things they labored to construct, with every little piece of it not put in place properly, could very likely collapse and wipe out an entire family in a heartbeat. And so laws were passed condemning failed architects to a death by stoning (Code of Hammurabi, Law 229). That’s a little gruesome, but it had the effect of galvanizing their chosen profession into a noble discipline.

In their own little community, a “Climategate” e-mail scandal would not, could not, have been tolerated even for an instant. Things were the way they were — period. An angle was ninety degrees, or it wasn’t — period. Up was up and down was down — period. There was no room for bastardizing the peer review process into some mutation of what it was intended to be, to ostracize and excoriate colleagues who spoke measurable truth. The architect, hundreds of years before Christ, lived in an object-oriented world and thought about that world in an object-oriented way.

Okay, now let’s look at what I’ve set up as the polar opposite.

“Medicator,” similarly, is chosen with deliberate thought and intent. “Physician” doesn’t work because physicians are supposed to adhere to the Hypocratic Oath and First Do No Harm. The verb “medicate” is applied to addictions, primary among those being mind-altering substances. It speaks to a process of adjusting one’s emotional response to reality as a first priority, with recognizing that reality as a distinctly second-place priority. Medicators do not heal. Nor do they seek to do harm. The long-term welfare of the body is simply outside of their concern. It isn’t that they don’t care, it’s that there is an emotional well-being that they prize more highly.

To recognize reality as it really is, and to adjust one’s emotional profile in response to the reality so that it is unconditionally cheery, are two mutually-exclusive goals. It may not seem to be the case when reality happens to be pleasant. But when reality is unpleasant you can choose to wrestle with it to whatever extent is required to fix a problem, or you can choose to ignore it in order to keep your emotions on a high and even keel. The sacrifice of long-term satisfaction in order to achieve a short-term high is, of course, a defining hallmark of medicating.

One Revolution AwayNow, these people trying to shove this fustercluck of a health care bill down our throats: It’s no mystery at all where they come down. They are medicators. It is not a primary goal of theirs to actually treat illnesses, heal the sick, bring “healthcare” or “access to healthcare” to “the uninsured.” Nor are they trying — architect-style — to solve any kind of a problem, President Obama’s unceasing speechifying notwithstanding. Think on it: When is the last time you heard anyone in Washington use those phrases above? Been awhile, hasn’t it? No, lately it’s about “getting this done.” Beating the opposition. Winning. Make things the way they/we want them to be. But wait just a second…we’re half way through an election cycle, one that began with their decisive victory. They already beat the opposition. Their victory is forgotten, however, just like a druggie’s high, and they find themselves incomplete, hungry, after-buzzed, struck with a raging case of Delerium Tremens if they don’t score another victory. And after they get that done, of course, they’ll need another and another and another. They live out their lives on a hairpin turn, just like a druggie. Time loses all meaning for them. Bliss is constantly one hit away.

It’s not about health care, of course. It’s about how we think about the world around us. The medicator lives in a gilded cage, waiting passively for someone to come along and fix the latest problem. He does not solve real problems, he does not support anyone who would solve real problems, he does not live in reality. He considers reality itself to be an inimical force. This, ironically, provides a liberating effect. Of course it’s all about the way one does one’s thinking to perceive the world around him, and with someone else assuming the burden of actually fixing the problem, the thinker enjoys the luxury of thinking about things as a non-architect. In a non-object-oriented way. With every little thing on God’s creation, melted together into a sloppy mess. And this overly-medicated “thinker” does not think, in turn, about the resulting mess; instead, he picks up an emotional vibe from it, and shares it with other self-medicated thinkers. That’s the model of reality as perceived by the medicator: A great big ball of warm, gooey wax that’s all melted together, and is now giving off vibes. Hopefully good ones, but if they’re bad ones then someone else needs to fix something — or it’s time for another “hit” of something via one-more-revolution.

Disciplining a child provides a similar contrast. To the architect, everything is cause and effect: The child engaged in undesirable behavior, therefore something needs to be modified about what the child perceives as proper or improper. The solution is to teach the child a new taboo. This can be done through direct communication if the child shares the desire that his behavior should be proper, or through punishment if he does not. First of all the transgression has to be properly categorized — bad attitude, or simple misunderstanding? Then we assess what the child understands about etiquette and go from there. In the Architect’s world, that’s what we do.

In the Medicator’s world, the exercise really is one of medication! Concentrating on something is not a task that was, for one reason or another, failed in this case; it is an ability that has gone missing because the child’s “brain isn’t wired quite right.” Of course the solution is to put the child on a prescription for some goop that will alter his emotional state, and make the process “easier for him.” (It’s nearly always a him.)

Another acid test is when a complex system of any kind starts producing the wrong output, because some unit within it starts to go all wonky — with all the other units in good order. To the Architect and Medicator alike, this is a no-brainer, but they come up with polar-opposite solutions. The Medicator wants to chuck the whole thing and start from scratch, whereas the Architect sees a puzzle to be solved in separating what’s good from what’s busted. Think of Blondie and Dagwood getting in one of their matrimonial melees about whether to call the plumber.

I commented last month that I had finally expunged the malware from my HP Mini notebook. My victory announcement was premature, it turned out. The beastie lived on, downloading other crap onto my platform. It shames me to say it, but if I were to act purely on logic and reasonable cost-benefit analyses, I would have taken the “scorched earth” approach much, much earlier than I did, and lost a lot less time. It became an Ahab/whale thing; I lost sight of fixing the problem, and concentrated instead on figuring out entirely useless trivia about it. Where’d I pick up this thing? What exactly does it contaminate? How come these packages over here can detect it and fool themselves into thinking they’re cleaning it, when they’re not? How come that package over there seems to have “wounded” it (toward the end, it locked up the netbook instead of popping up an ad, which is what it was clearly trying to do)…but can’t quite get all of it?

See, neither Architects or Medicators enjoy a monopoly on always having the right idea. Medicators throw things away in bulk — they are much more inclined to announce “this entire thing is bolluxed!” That is often the right approach, and I have to make a confession…my second one, now…that I’ve often missed out on this advantage when it comes up. Medicators seem to think life has no puzzles in it, none whatsoever. And they probably think this because, in the world they construct around themselves by accepting some responsibilities and simply walking away from some other ones, they’re absolutely right. Choices confront them — choices in which the wrong answer results in some kind of personal suffering — and they become petulant, unpleasant, and then someone else swoops in and solves it for them.

In their world, the question of who gets the “rep” as a problem solver, is completely isolated from the record of who did or didn’t actually solve problems. At no time has this been more evident, than this first year of watching our new President struggle with the demands of His new job. He is a dedicated Medicator. He fixes nothing. The only responsibility He takes is to refine the emotional buzz that comes from this thing or that one…and having failed even at that, He has a ready finger-of-blame to point somewhere else so He can give Himself a good report card. Which He did, actually. That one single act speaks volumes not only to how He thinks about the world and the challenges within it; it is a tip-off to how medicators think as well. You’ll notice this about them if you know some really dedicated ones personally. They enter into conflict with others, because they tend to demand the final word about their own work. It was up to par, the other guy just has a mistaken interpretation of “par.” They followed the instructions they were given, it’s the other guy’s fault for not giving them the right ones.

Running a meeting is yet another good litmus test. Some meeting chairs do it right: Agenda item, question, answer, does anyone have any objections, next agenda item — boom, boom, boom. Others engage in this ludicrous and time-consuming practice of using the forum to adjust the emotional tenor of the participants, as if it’s a high school pep rally. Buying a car: Any salesman will tell you, some people turn their thoughts to the TCO with considerations such as gas mileage, service records, availability of parts. Others worry overly much about how they look when they’re tooling around in the car, what strangers will think of them.

Homeowners’ Association bylaws can be written to accommodate one of these halves of humanity, or the other, or both. This is a rather interesting situation, because the bylaws represent an attempt to “architect” a successful neighborhood, through the “medication” of the emotions of the people who observe it. Here and there, though, we see stories in the news surrounding HOA bylaws that are, to turn a rustic phrase, just plain stupid. They don’t do anything to make people feel good and it seems extravagant and far-fetched to suppose they could have anything to do with preserving the value of the property. Banning the American flag is the one example that springs immediately to mind, since those stories have a way of jumping onto the front page.

The last time we linked one of these, the story in question showcased a persistent trait among the Medicators: proxy offense.

[M]anagement told them the flags could be offensive because they live in a diverse community.

The controlling curmudgeon lays down the curmudgeonly rule, and the curmudgeon is silent on whether he or she personally finds the emblem, the e-mail, the cologne, the pin-up calendar, et al, offensive. It’s much more often proxy: Some third party is offended. Or some third party could be offended. The impossible-to-meet “Could Be Interpreted As” standard of cleanliness. It is conceivably possible, therefore the contraband has to go. The curmudgeon will oversee the removal. But it’s business and not personal, see? Just like something out of The Godfather: “Tell Michael I always liked him, it was business, not personal.” Some nameless faceless anonymous person complained, or could complain.

This dedicated Architect says — Medicators really shouldn’t be running anything. They don’t want to. They don’t want the responsibility. This is why these columns are now coming out, some serious and some satirical, that speculate openly that President Obama is perhaps bored and disenchanted with His own job. I no longer consider it to be commentary outside my sphere of knowledge, to proffer that President Obama had some serious misgivings the first time He made a decision about something that had little-or-nothing to do with winning an election, saw that His decision had a direct bearing upon the outcome, and emotionally recoiled. I have seen this happen too many times, up close. In the months since then, the country has been buried in this “awkward stage” in which He tries to confront each and every single challenge with a vision that, as this-or-that chapter reaches the final page, the emotional buzz of those watching has been fine-tuned and frothed up into a desirable state of bliss. This is, I’m sure, why we’ve seen so many speeches out of Him during His first year, and will doubtless see about that many out of Him during His second.

We live in a society in which our every want and need is met, with resistance or inconvenience that is at best negligible. It may not seem like that to us at the time because we’re spoiled; we tend to mistake a temporary slow-down, or wrong turn, or setback, for a real possibility of failure in acquiring what we’re trying to acquire. Deep down, we all know we’re not really being challenged by much of anything; we will get what we are trying to get, one way or the other, so long as some minimal quantity of our peers are also trying to get the same thing. If all else fails we’ll band together and our populist rage will force someone to give it to us. We’re supposed to be so worried about “the economy” but we have our beer, our coffee, our big teevee screens. The only things that are really in jeopardy are the self-respect and dignity that come from having a job, and the same for our children. All other things are guaranteed, in one way or another. They don’t face any real jeopardy.

This state of hyper-safe hyper-civilization has aggravated the divide between — whate’er you wanna callzem, Yin and Yang, or Architects and Medicators — as I’ve pointed out before. It creates a bigger divide on such fundamental questions as: What is a good speech, anyway? What is a convincing argument? Is it thinky-thinky or feelie-feelie? In other words, do you progress systematically among the first three pillars, basing your opinions/inferences upon available fact and things-to-do upong the opinions/inferences. Or, do you just stir up a whole lot of motivating emotions in your audience, get them all outraged against some straw-man Snidely Whiplash, anti-logical exuberance for your “ideas,” Obama-style?

And the fact is, Architects have a definite idea in mind about the answer to such rudimentary questions.

Another fact is, Medicators have a definite idea about the answer as well. These ideas are not the same. They are opposites.

Another fact is, neither side is willing to budge on such issues. If you have a pulse, and a brain, and you’ve been using your brain to solve problems that confront you here and there…each day you stay alive further enmeshes you in the answer you chose, way back, before you were five years old.

And the least inconvenient fact of all is that if we cannot agree on questions like those, we aren’t going to agree on anything else.

We are engaged in a discourse between people who understand how to make real decisions, and those who do not understand this and do not seek to understand this. They don’t see the need. But since they’ve “won,” for the time being it is their job…even if they continue to find ways to weasel out of it, and blame others when the job goes undone.

Retired Marine Shoots Crooks

Friday, July 4th, 2008

Yay, retired marine.

Two armed men barged into a Subway Sandwich shop shortly after 11 p.m., demanding money from the employee, behind the counter. When they tried to force John Lovell – the lone customer, age 71, into the bathroom, he pulled out a gun and shot both men, police said.

Donicio Arrindell, 22, was shot in the head and later died at the hospital. Fredrick Gadson, 21, was shot in the chest and ran from the Subway, but police found him in hiding in some bushes on the property of a nearby BankAtlantic.

Lovell, 71. Police said he had a concealed weapons permit. Retired US Marine.

But the grandmother of the hoodlum who survived the (hoodlum-initiated) incident, has a beef with the way the media has been portraying this. I dunno what she’s talking about; as far as I know, the most prominent example of how “the media” has portrayed the (hoodlum-initiated) incident is the one I read over here.

I found it to be friendly to the pro-hoodlum side of things, that is, the pro-chaos anti-respect-for-property side, to the point of self-parody. It’s the one that put Grandma’s favorite sound bite right in the freakin’ headline.

Family Of Subway Robbery Suspect Says Customer Shouldn’t Have Pulled Trigger

The family of one of the men who was shot by a retired United States Marine while they attempted to rob a Subway sandwich shop said the customer shouldn’t have pulled the trigger.

According to Plantation police, two armed men barged into the Subway at 1949 Pine Island Road shortly after 11 p.m. Wednesday, demanding money from the employee behind the counter. When they tried to force John Lovell into the bathroom, he pulled out a gun and shot both men, police said.

Donicio Arrindell, 22, was shot in the head and later died at the hospital. Fredrick Gadson, 21, was shot in the chest and ran from the Subway, but police found him in hiding in some bushes on the property of a nearby BankAtlantic.

Lovell, 71, was the lone customer at the time. Police said he had a concealed weapons permit.

Gadson’s grandparents told Local 10 on Thursday that Lovell was wrong for pulling the trigger.

“He should not have taken the law in his hands,” said Rosa Jones, Gadson’s grandmother.

Her husband, Ivory Jones, also condemned the media for its portrayal of Lovell’s actions.

“I don’t condone what they did, (but) I definitely don’t condone the news people making him out to seem like they’re making a hero out of this man because he shot somebody down,” he said.

Ah yes — as Maxwell Smart would say, THE OL’ “He Shouldn’ta Done It BUT” ploy…oldest one in the book.

He shouldn’ta shot your grandson because the way things are, your poor grandson never knows when he’s going to get shot next? I got a great suggestion. Don’t rob stores.

As Blogger Cap’n opines further…

As stated in the SCOTUS decision – a gun levels the playing field – a victim has a chance against their aggressors. Where else does a 71 year old have a chance against two gun wielding 20 year old? How much imagination does it take to imagine reversing this narrative – an employee and 71 year old customer are found dead in a Subway bathroom? Not much, right?

And how about the criminal being the “victim” here? That sickens me. John Lovell isn’t a vigilante. He defended his life. Now he’s alive. Simple.

And yes, I have rewritten this story, because the first time I read it – it was very anti John Lovell. The fact John is alive was on the bottom of the story, and the Grandma statement was on the masthead of the story. Totally bogus.

Well done, Cap’n. And this is a “Why We Have Blogs” moment if ever there was one.

I do not trust these “shouldn’ta” people. What’s she talking about — and to be more precise about it, why isn’t she getting asked? Is she saying there are two different levels of “shouldn’ta” here, with her grandson violating the lesser one and Mr. Lovell transgressing against the greater one?

If that is the case — add looming injustice to the list of reasons why you shouldn’t rob stores.

If that is not what she is trying to say — what’s the freakin’ problem? Her grandson did something wrong, and found out why you shouldn’t do that.

Either way, in my book she’s been exposed as a proponent of lawlessness. But I know how these things work. She’d deny this in nothing flat and the whole exchange would turn into a “nailing jello to a tree” exercise, as her intended meaning is buried behind thick veils of deceit and obfuscation. I know this because she’s not alone. There are millions of people just like her; they want what they want when they want it, hell with everybody else, and they act like anyone who stands up to them has the same problems they do.

If she’s raising any other grandchildren, I hope they’re taken away. In a sane world, she’d be under investigation for encouraging exactly the anarchy and lawlessness I know she is. One powder-puff press conference and she gets to put John Lovell on the defensive, for doing what he had to do to stay alive. And she takes the opportunity to do it. Good Lord, what a nasty, vile woman.

Anti-Danger, Anti-Achievement, Anti-Defense, Anti-Life

Thursday, March 20th, 2008

This morning I was rubbing my hands together in giddy glee over the finding that the Nintendo Wii is not environmentally friendly, or at least, is not perceived to be that (Nintendo’s crime against the environment seems to be mostly related to a failure to divulge information about being clean, which is different from a substantiation of evidence about being dirty). My comment was,

The anti-corporate pro-enviro hippies, are hopefully going to be locked in a huge fracas with the video-gamers and therefore with the kid-dumbing-down people. I hope. It’s always fun to watch the anti-achievement types feast on their own.

Hundreds of thousands of e-mails have poured in and called my attention to…

…alright, nobody’s uttered a peep about it. But it nevertheless occurs to me, even though this is The Blog That Nobody Reads, that I should expound.

Surely you’ve noticed, haven’t you. The people here stateside as well as across the pond in Europe, who are so quick to rap us across the knuckles for taking out Saddam Hussein — offer little or no alternatives for us to defend ourselves in any other way from the threat of worldwide terror. Oh yes, I know, many among them will say we were “distracted” from the “hunt for Osama bin Laden” when he was “in Afghanistan.” They imply in a bullying way, but usually do not come out and say word-for-word in any true sense of commitment, that had we focused on Afghanistan they’d be behind our defensive efforts a hundred percent.

These are the very same folks who are all gung-ho about going after the globular-wormening ManBearPig, insisting that the climate of the earth is changing, we homo sapiens are the cause, it’s a done deal, the “science is settled,” and hey even if this turns out not to be the case it’s just as well that we act as if it is.

You can see where I’m going with this now. They insist that the benefit of the doubt be awarded to the course-of-action that involves doing…on this issue over here…and the option that involves not doing on that issue over there.

People like me, on the other hand, are “inconsistent” in the opposite way; I think we should not do, here, and do, there.

Who is more properly inconsistent? Well, the most jarring empirical evidence, which is people-gettin’-killed, it seems to me is on my side. This thing over here hasn’t killed anyone. That issue over there has killed thousands…oh yeah, oh yeah, I know, no solid evidence connecting Saddam to the terrorist attacks, but that’s kind of my point. These people, in addition to being inconsistent, are nuts. The “no evidence” is just as good as “close my eyes and yell la-la-la-la I can’t hear you.” The people who say we should act even though we don’t know anything, about ManBearPig, are the same ones who say we should not act because we don’t know anything on a different threat that really has killed people.

Chicks with GunsSo my point is this: Since there are so many of these people, and they all agree with each other in near-lock-step about both Iraq and globular-wormening ManBearPig…two issues on which their mindsets conform to completely opposite philosophies about how we should behave on important issues when certainty is not forthcoming and doubt is rampant. In fact, we can toss in a third issue without upsetting this solidarity one bit, I notice: Guns and self-defense. People who are pro-global-warming-curtailing, are anti-Iraq, and pro-gun-control. The consistency from one pair of ears to the next, is just amazing. It’s north of 99 percent. So I say, let us look for consistencies in the arguments. Let us look for common threads that are sustained among these three issues, in the way all these people perceive them and grapple with them. Are there some?

I see one.

Before I get to that, though, let’s inject a fourth issue in a round-about way…and let us do this, by exploring one of my favorite web sites:, where you can learn how to thwart, obstruct, derail and generally bollux-up the efforts of your neighboring human beings to…well…to move their asses from one place to the next. Which means, now, just about anything else anyone would be able to do once they get there.

This deepens, but does not broaden, our chore of looking for common threads. If you think it’s settled RIGHT NOW that we should do something about globular wormening, but we need to shut down the War on Terror, but we need to grab everybody’s guns and lock ’em up — you probably think traffic calming is a wonderful thing. If you roll your eyes at it like I do, you probably think ManBearPig is a big ol’ scam, you probably think Saddam Hussein was just as much a dangerous spoiler jackass in 2003 as he was in 1993 & it’s a good thing he’s gone, and you think the Second Amendment actually means what it says: Right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

So traffic calming, you see, fits right into the mold.

Traffic calming consists of operational measures such as enhanced police enforcement, speed displays, and a community speed watch program, as well as such physical measures as edgelines, chokers, chicanes, traffic circles, and (for the past four years) speed humps and raised crosswalks.



Chicanes, traffic circles, speed bumps and raised crosswalks.

What are these things? Well, they are devices that make traffic safe by making assumptions about you, the driver, which in turn cannot be borne out as legitimate or truthful unless they are analyzed in a purely statistical venue. If you go faster than X speed, you must be dangerous. If you can be bullied and cudgeled and coerced into going slower than X speed, you must be safe. If it’s three thirty in the morning and nobody’s around, why, that don’ matter none. You have to go slower than twenty-five miles per hour, and once we make you drive that slowly, surely some lives will be saved.

It sounds like it came from…from…could it be? Why, yes it is!

European traffic calming began as a grassroots movement in the late 1960s. Angry residents of the Dutch City of Delft fought cut-through traffic by turning their streets into woonerven, or “living yards.” This was followed by the development of European slow streets (designed for 30 kph or 20 mph) in the late 1970s; the application of traffic calming principles to intercity highways through small Danish and German towns in the 1980s; and the treatment of urban arterials in areawide schemes, principally in Germany and France, also in the 1980s. [emphasis mine]

Gotta hand it to those Europeans. The European ego isn’t one bit bruised by the fact that we yankees came up with the telephone…the car…the airplane…the innernets. They’ve got their claim to fame East of Greenwich. When you’re a busy guy trying to get things done, relying on all this American technology to beat the deadline so that that other guy can beat his deadline so that the people depending on him can meet their deadlines…here come the Europeans to mess everything up for you!

Thought you were getting to Point B by two-thirty this afternoon did you? Not after our roundabouts and raised crosswalks get done. Now feel the wrath of the residents of Delft!

The really interesting thing about traffic calming, is its effectiveness is measured in traffic retardation on a miles/kilometers-per-hour basis, and a percentage basis — not on the basis of lives saved. I have to look at that a little bit funny. I have no choice but to do so.

I live in Folsom. We have our own “traffic calming” in terms of poorly-designed controlled intersections. Traffic lights that turn red just as you get to them, should you fail to exceed the speed limit by less than twenty miles an hour, and all that. You think that “calms” traffic, everybody in their shiny BMW’s having to stop constantly when they shouldn’t have to? Hell no. It turns them all into raging jackasses.

Sorry, fellow Folsom residents. You know it’s true. You know it damn good and well.

So on the notion that this makes traffic safer…I have to call bull poo. Even if you can pump out hundreds of studies showing the rate of speed has slowed. That’s a point in my favor, isn’t it? All the jackasses are spending more time inside city limits, after having been offered increased motivation for going all jackass?

There is a lesson here about human psychology. It is what ties together all these “let’s go ahead and stop global warming even though there’s no solid evidence we have to” types…in with the “naughty naughty naughty shame on you for taking out Saddam Hussein” types. It is what makes these two camps come together, even though their respective doctrines are 180 degrees opposed from each other. It is what makes them all such loud, bossy sunzabiches.

It is this:

Poor Widdle BabumsWhen you’ve made the decision that the stuff you do in your life doesn’t matter and shouldn’t be given much priority, you rankle at the idea of the stuff anybody else does with their lives being given any more priority than your stuff. The traffic-calming measures, with all the phony egghead studies “proving” that things must be safer because the traffic moves slower — they are metaphorical, of something much deeper and much more meaningful. When you’re in this boat, you want everybody to stop whatever it is they’re doing. To slow way down…until they stop. And sit. There’s really nothing rational about it. It’s a primal urge.

You don’t want anybody to make it anywhere on time to be able to do anything. Because you know you aren’t doing anything.

You don’t want anybody’s kids to grow up with a feeling of self worth, since your own kids aren’t growing up that way.

You don’t want anybody to consume anything, because you can’t justify consuming anything yourself. You can pretend you’re disturbed about the prospect of the whatever-it-is being depleted…but the truth of the matter is, you just want all motion around you to stop. Because you yourself aren’t moving.

That’s why the people who want to take your guns away are the same ones waggling their fingers at you about “emitting carbon” and those are the same people who prattle on about an “illegal and unjust war” — we should presume action is warranted in the face of doubt on one issue, and not on another issue. And those are the same people who think traffic is automatically safer if the drivers are frustrated in the efforts to get where they want to go. And those people, in turn, are the same ones getting all peevish if you buy your nephew a toy gun for his birthday. And those are the same people insisting that if said nephew is acting a little bit weird, he should be doped up on drugs and put in a special program.

And that once you’ve eventually triumphed over the round-abouts and traffic circles and gotten where you wanted to go, and made some money from doing it…you should be taxed up the ass. It’s human potential. It offends them.

This is easily substantiated. Because once you open your mind to the evidence involved — it’s really a little bit silly to try to argue Saddam Hussein was harmless. So people aren’t angry about the fact that Hussein was taken down, because he was a harmless guy. They’re angry Hussein was taken down because taking him down was a worthwhile thing that some brave, but ordinary, people did. That really gets in the craw of some among us. And that’s the truth.

Now, if you’re one among those “googooders” as Mike Royko used to call them, here, via Boortz, are some places where you can raise your kid. Notice how eager these googooders are to share notes on this stuff. Again: When you aren’t doing anything with your life, you don’t want anybody else to do anything with theirs, and when you aren’t raising your kid to grow up to be someone with guts and courage and resourcefulness, you don’t want anybody else’s kid growing up that way either.

To give you a quick idea of how much location matters, consider this: Kids are six times more likely to die from a violence-related injury in Alaska than they are in Massachusetts. In California, public playgrounds must meet all federal government safety recommendations, but 34 states offer no standards for where your kids climb, jump and swing. Connecticut and 20 other states have made big improvements in school-bus crossings, while 13, including Nebraska and Arizona, are way behind.

Location, location
1. Connecticut
2. Rhode Island
3. New Jersey
4. New York
5. California
6. Maine
7. Pennsylvania
8. Mass.
9. Maryland
10. Oregon

Oh, joy! Enough rules to crumple into a big ball and choke a horse to death! Or at least you could…if it wasn’t a federal crime to choke horses to death on things. And my Golden State is number five!

Of course, as any knuckle-dragging red-state real-man daddy like me knows, there’s a lot more to raising a boy into a man than just making sure he reaches Age Eighteen healthy and alive and whole. Us guys know that…but unfortunately, some eighty-eight years ago we went and gave them womyns the right to vote, and wouldn’t you know it the uppity females done gone out and started doing it. Now we have taxes up the ass…and rules rules rules, you can’t drive anywhere over thirty miles an hour because of those damn roundabouts, and in a few years you won’t be able to buy a car that can go that fast because we’ll have used the “carbon emissions” excuse to yank real cars off the road.

But our pwecious babums is going to be all safe. Won’t know how to do a God damn thing, but they’ll be safe.

Now you know the common thread. The common thread is — that people are cattle, and really aren’t worth anything. They shouldn’t be taught anything, they shouldn’t be raised to deal with danger, they aren’t worth defending, they can’t achieve anything and if they can, they should never be given the opportunity to do it. Might as well seal the damn things up in a great big jar and poke some holes in the lid.

This explains why when you face off against someone who insists we never should have taken down Saddam Hussein, and you ask well what should we have done instead — you don’t get anything. Just a deer in the headlights look, maybe a few stammering statements about George Bush being a really bad guy and his grandfather was connected to Nazis. Nothing about what to do. These people don’t come from the Land Of Do. They’re all about being, not doing…being…uh…well, happy. There’s nothing more in their lives than just that. So they don’t want anything more in your life than just that.

Funny thing is, though, when it comes to the anti-defense plank — they do think some folks are worth defending. Just the bosses. The kingpins of society. And you probably thought they were egalitarians, didn’t you?

I beg to differ. They’re aristocrats through and through. Earls Lords and Dukes are worth defending…Vicounts, Barons and anyone lower than that, are not.

Mr. Heller, the good guy in DC v. Heller, delivered one of the best slapdowns we’ve ever read when asked about the “safe streets” of DC:

At that point, a reporter interjected: “The Mayor (DC Mayor Adrian M. Fenty) says the handgun ban and his initiatives have significantly lowered violent crime in the District. How do you answer that, Mr. Heller?”

The initial answer certainly wasn’t expected – Dick Heller laughed. Ruefully.

Pointing at the Mayor who was making his way across the plaza, surrounded by at least six DC police officers, Heller said, “The Mayor doesn’t know what he’s talking about. He doesn’t walk on the street like an average citizen. Look at him; he travels with an army of police officers as bodyguards—to keep him safe. But he says that I don’t have the right to be a force of one to protect myself. Does he look like he thinks the streets are safe?”

There was no follow-up question.

We bet there weren’t.

The anti-achievement anti-defense subjects have that in common too. The Wizened Elders who run our Bottle City are worthy of protection…we low-life scum, are not. They don’t think they’re worth it, and so they don’t think anybody else is worth it either.

Not unless you have six bodyguards or more guarding your pampered ass.

So you see, opposing the right to defend oneself and one’s family, opposing the privilege of driving to get somewhere in time, opposing the natural exigencies of life…ends up being, quicker than anyone imagines, opposing life.

These are the same blue-state numb-nuts who want good-lookin’ women to wear short hair and be fully clothed all the time. Like wearing a bunch of damned burqas. Hey, nuts to you. Here, choke on this:

Self-reliance. Achievement. Self-defense. Supporting what makes life possible, and makes life worth living. And, good-lookin’ girls with long hair in skimpy clothes. Stuff that real men like. That’s what America is all about. It is the American way.

This ultra-pasteurized version of lowercase-l “life”…this continent called “Europe” seems to be cultivating a rich culture in supporting that. Seems to be something like growing sea monkeys in bleach, but if that’s what toots the horn of my fellow lowercase-a “americans,” I suggest they move the hell there. Stop trying to turn this place into that place.

And take your stinking round-abouts with you.

Thing I Know #168. People with limited attention spans get peevish when they see other people doing a better job of paying attention; people who consistently champion peace over justice, get downright pernicious when they see someone else uphold justice.

We Act Like We Want More

Sunday, February 17th, 2008

Effectiveness? Zero.Gerard chose to caption the picture you see to the left “After the predictable killings comes the predictable vigil. Effectiveness? Zero.” Of course, that depends on how you define effectiveness. Nobody wants such acts of violence to occur and re-occur again and again. Not wanting it is easy. Acting like you don’t want it to happen again…that’s the tough part.

I think the vigil is remarkably effective. Effective for selling newspapers and getting people to tune in to the idjit box, that is. Effective at preventing the next murderous rampage? Not so much. And, as Gerard points out, the gun free zone doesn’t do much either. The way we make rules to address things like this, and the way we talk about it when the rules don’t do what we thought they were designed to do…none of this stuff looks like we really want the carnage to stop. Simply put, we act like we want more.

What I think is going unmentioned here is the ever-evolving way in which we talk about newsworthy events like this. It’s something we’ve discussed here before, noting how strange the wording seems now in a contemporary article about a horrible San Francisco accident in 1900. We put a lot of effort now into making things more seeeeeeennnnnsitive before they make it into the newspaper. In the case of structural accidents at football games, this has little to no effect at all on the likelihood the accident will happen again.

Not so much the case with people shooting other people, though. I think deep down everybody understands that.

Seldom does anybody directly address it, though.

Case in point: Another article about a horrible newsworthy event is much more recent than 1900, and closer to me than San Francisco. Specifically, this came out in my local paper on Friday (registration required). It describes the murder of a young man in a hotel parking lot a week ago. First four paragraphs…

It took Joe Hunter five years to rescue himself from the cycle of despair that followed the slaying of his 17-year-old son more than a decade ago.

When he did, Hunter made a decision: He would become a part of the lives of his five other children.

But he is being tested again.

Alex Hunter, Joe Hunter’s youngest child, was shot to death early Sunday while leaving the Doubletree Hotel off Arden Way, police said. He had just celebrated his 21st birthday when a man driving a car nearly hit his older brother in the parking lot, then got out of the car and began arguing with the group, witnesses said.

Bereaved Family…last three…

His father smiles when he talks about his son’s life, but has trouble listening to the story of his killing or looking at the bright yellow Ford Mustang the young man bought last summer.

He said he is trying to focus on remembering his son’s spirit, and he wants those who attend Alex’s funeral at 10 a.m. Monday at Antioch Baptist Church in Meadowview to dress in bright colors to celebrate his life.

“I’m going to get over … No, you can’t get over this,” Joe Hunter said. “But I’m going to stay strong, because he would want that.”

Joe Hunter’s story is indeed sad and troubling. But as my Sunday morning news channel drones on about how saaaaaaaaad the little kidlets are up in DeKalb, I’m becoming famished for some hard news about these things. They aren’t natural weather patterns, you know. Some tornado carries off a guy’s house, you can bring me some “news” about how he’s being tested and how he’s coming to grips with it and trying to stay strong. I won’t want too much else. If the house had his family inside, I’m still with ya.

But this wasn’t an Act of God.

This was an act of some dickhead with a gun.

Which makes this section in the middle of the story ironic and profoundly troubling…

Joe Londell Hunter, who was 18 when his other brother was shot to death less than two miles from the Doubletree, tried to come up with a license plate number or a suspect’s description for the police. No arrests have been made, and investigators simply said they are looking for a young man.

Sacramento Police Sgt. Matt Young said the trend of more and more simple arguments being settled with guns is “really disturbing.” Three people have been killed by gunfire in the city this year – all 22 years old or younger.

“Altercations that 15 or 20 years ago would have been handled with a fistfight, the young people in our society today are pulling out guns and killing people,” Young said. “What’s troubling is trying to pinpoint where these young people are getting this message that there’s no value attached to someone’s life.” [emphasis mine]

Where do they get the message that there’s no value attached to a life?

My answer to that would be the old adage about nature abhorring a vacuum. I don’t see any messages here that a life is worth much of anything. Yeah, there’s a family of people who are very sad now that the life is gone, I guess from that some would say the life has meaning. But I don’t think those are the people who have much need to get the message. You have to have some human decency for that to affect you.

Where’s the message that you’ll get punished if you take a life?

Where are the details that would help us everyday citizens to find this “young man”? I think it should be obvious to everyone, that phrase could benefit from a bit more narrowing-down.

If & when the young man is found, what is likely to happen to him? Depending on the circumstances when you shoot someone, there are a number of charges that could be filed, and it’s not necessary to find the perpetrator before there’s some definition involved in how the justice system is going to treat the crime. Seems to me a press that truly values human life, might see fit to mention some of that.

But above all, when people are special and have worth, you don’t just hope-against-hope they can ramble around unharmed for awhile, crying in your beer if a predator does happen to come along and carry off one or two. That is how you manage a flock of sheep. Or chickens. Except…not quite…because sheep and chickens have a little bit more value. If one or two sheep/chickens have gone missing, and then you’re out with your rifle and you see a wolf lurking around, you don’t take the time to confirm that this might, indeed, be the animal responsible for the shenanigans. You just cock and aim and shoot the sucker on sight.

Of course we can’t do that. Even predators against humans are human as well, and they do have rights. But I’m hard-pressed to see how that backs us into a corner of discussing only the family’s pain, and remaining so ignorant and reluctant to discuss the “hard” aspects of this story. You know. The stuff that might make it a bit more likely the thug will be taken down. And, if he isn’t, that the message will nevertheless get out that human life has value, and you’d better not end anybody else’s if you want your own to last awhile.

Look at it this way: The way we do things now, is supposed to be so much more “civilized” than having a gallows in the town square. We just take that at face value, leaving it unscrutinized. But can someone tell me please: If we did have a gallows in the town square, would we have a police sergeant bemoaning the problem that young people “are getting this message that there’s no value attached to someone’s life”?

I doubt it. I highly, highly doubt it. If I’m thinking of seriously killing someone, I take one look at those gallows, with my weight in a sandbag being test-dropped a time or two…and from that moment forward I’m going to be as gentle as a lamb.

As it is now, if I have those same thoughts, and I actually take the time to read a story like this one to figure out what’s going to happen to me, here’s what I get out of it: I’ll get away. Police are going to be looking for a “male” (I’m a little past the “young” stage). And I’ll make some people sad.

That’s it.

Time for a re-think of some things.

Reflections on the Death Penalty

Thursday, January 17th, 2008

Steve H. Graham over at Hog On Ice is not fond of Glenn Reynolds’ Instapundit.

It amazes me that anyone reads that site. If you go to LGF, you get information on the Middle East, plus a hearty dose of comforting racism from the commenters. If you go to Malkin’s site, you get very interesting information about sensational stories, plus a little borderline hysteria. But if you go to Instapundit, you get boring links reflecting the boring personality of the person who chose them, plus desperate links intended to prop up Pajamas Media.
You can read Instapundit all year, never see an original or interesting thought, never laugh, and never learn anything about the man’s feelings. It’s like reading the instructions for a toaster. “TOM MAGUIRE SAYS to use the left slot when toasting only one slice of bread. More here.” I still have no idea who Tom Maguire is. I don’t know if he still gets links. I can’t remember the last time I read Instapundit without being prompted by somebody else.

Ah…well, different strokes for different folks. There’s “linker” blogs and “thinker” blogs. Hog writes a bunch of stuff…as do I. We’re the thinkers. Reynolds is a linker. In any given nugget-sized Instapundit post, the link is the point.

What’s the problem? Obviously, I agree with Graham about how to put up a blog, but I see it as a matter of personal taste.

But his complaint does have some merit. I’ll have to admit, sometimes a great deal of time does pass by before I go to Instapundit. It’s a little like watching a cartoon with a coyote and a roadrunner (the best kind) — with no music.

Another observation by Graham, is that he thinks Mike Nifong is a great argument, all by himself, against the death penalty. I find it tough to disagree.

People are surprised when I say I no longer support the death penalty. Here is my explanation: Mike Nifong.

Look at what he did, and then tell me you’re positive every inmate on death row is guilty. How many Nifongs have succeeded where this one failed? Now that we have the ability to replicate and analyze DNA, we have disturbing evidence that the number may be very high.

This is the same argument, I think, that Locomotive Breath was making a few days ago. How do you ensure all those sentenced are guilty, knowing full well that absolute perfection in anything is contrary to the human condition?

But — this is the very thing that restores my determination that the death penalty should continue. Nothing in the human condition can ever be absolutely perfect. That includes our determination that, in the absence of a death penalty, murderers will always stay behind bars forever. “Forever” is based on a concept of perfection. So is “always.”

This is the part death penalty opponents consistently miss, it seems to me. Our crude, mortal, post-apple-snake condition has left us incapable of ensuring any kind of “always,” including the part that says conficted murderers are always guilty. If that is the case, then it must logically follow that we can’t ensure they’ll always stay locked up.

In other words, I think these particular death penalty opponents are trying to have it both ways.

A No-Brainer

Thursday, December 13th, 2007

I don’t really know if the news lately is supporting a runaway acceleration toward the events in this movie, or if watching that movie has influenced the way I see said news when it comes out. I’m willing to lean toward the latter explanation, for now. Just for now.

But the connections between “Idiocracy” and real life seem, to me, to be inescapable. It is a Rip van Winkle story, about a man of extremely average intelligence who finds himself the most intelligent human alive because he was forgotten in a suspended-animation experiment for five centuries. It’s the stupid people amongst us, you see; they were breeding like rabbits. While the genetic lineage of the more intelligent came to a stop.

The world’s average I.Q. falls through those five centuries, kind of like a lawn dart. And of course although a lot of people like to deny it, at school and work and leisure all standards rise or fall according to the human material that is supplied, and so everything is stupid-iated. Automated, but not really working well. Personally, I’m partial to the talking vacuum cleaner robot that keeps banging into the wall and intoning helpfully over and over, “your floor is now clean…your floor is now clean…” Hint: It is’t. This represents, to me, a beautiful capturing of the average telephone IVR (Interactive Voice Response). Who hasn’t had to endure the frustration of trying to explain to a cheerful and chipper computer voice that something isn’t right with the way your problem was handled, when the computer knows better?

In fact, I’ve been only half-joking that the big flaw of the movie is the 500 years. Probably should’ve made that something more like 60 or 70 there, Mr. Judge. It’s not like we’re stuck in first-gear on this process, after all. Signs all over the place indicate that we’ve got quite a bit of momentum built up.

For example — one of the supporting characters in the movie is an idiot lawyer who got his law degree at Costco. Yeah, that’s right. And look what we have here

While finals are in full swing, and everyone is studying hard, I thought I’d throw this piece of not-quite-shocking research out there: Students like easy classes.

According to a recent study when students at Cornell University were given the median grades for courses, they tended to choose the seemingly easier ones. Who would have thought that?

Every semester, Cornell’s College of Arts and Sciences publishes the median grades of similar clases.

It’s been going on for about 10 years with the rationale being that students would get a better idea of their performance if they knew just how difficult the class was.

While that might be the case, students are cherry picking the courses with higher median grades and professors that give higher grades are the more popular.

That might backfire soon if the school actually puts those median grades on the student’s transcript, showing employers just how difficult the course was.

We’re supposed to be putting together a smarter and more intelligent society because there are more young people running around with diplomas and degrees. And sertifikayshuns…don’t forget the sertifikayshuns. But who’s minding the store? What do all these sheepskins mean? Something? Anything at all? By what process do we make sure of this? Is anyone anywhere willing to put great confidence in such a process? Is any greater confidence put into the assertion that a toe-head with a sheepskin is smarter than a toe-head who hasn’t got one? If so, why?

Meanwhile, the problems we confront today don’t seem to be the same problems, not even close, to the ones confronted by our grandparents. We don’t have Nazis firing machine guns at us from Omaha Beach, or a Great Depression with shanty-towns and soup lines. Instead…we have…

Calif. to recalculate release dates for up to 33,000 inmates
As many as 33,000 California inmates could be freed early, after the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation recalculates their release dates based on recent court decisions, officials say.

But a union that represents prison records clerks says a shortage of workers is stalling the state’s recalculation. Service International Employees Union Local 1000 planned to sue the department Wednesday, alleging the delay could be costing taxpayers millions of dollars as well as depriving convicts of their rights.

That’s right. We have a crisis of recalculation labor.

Why should I be surprised. My bill at Burger King comes to $4.78 and I hand the cashier a five dollar bill and three pennies, I’m standing there for another ten minutes.

The big problem with that story, in my mind, isn’t quite so much the dumbth — it’s the whining. I mean, read the whole story. You’ve got unions, you’ve got courts — the entire crisis is manufactured. You’ve got at least two situations, probably more, where someone in a position of authority decrees “minimal fairness requires X” — and then some massive bureaucratic leviathan struggles to achieve X, because without that everything is unfair, the authority said so.

Without that, the story and the associated crisis simply don’t exist.

Now, when did we ever vote on it that this makes some sense? Here, let’s try it on for size. You’re a clerk. I rob you. I take your thirty dollars and I shoot you dead. Jury convicts me and sends me to ten years…probation in five with good behavior. Judge says, crimes like this should be eight years instead. Or twelve years. Now we have to “recalculate” my release date.

Why is that? Suppose we just let me rot in there until my originally-scheduled release date. What is the worst-case scenario that results? What great crisis of unfairness erupts from that?

The article says it costs $43k to incarcerate a criminal for a year. Know what I’d like to see? I’d like to see a busybody study that figures out how many billions of dollars it costs California to have “fairness” re-defined so flippantly and so ritually by authority figures who purport to know what fairness is. Union authorities…judicial authorities…whatever. Just that phenomenon, and nothing more — how much does it cost us. I’ll bet we pass the trillion dollar mark on that a lot sooner than you might think.

The Great Intelligence Scam

Tuesday, December 4th, 2007

In what may very well be the most important story all week…and I really hope it isn’t…the National Intelligence Estimate has concluded that Iran is a big harmless fuzzy teddy bear. And a decent weighing of the available evidence yields the conclusion the NIE may be basing this on very little.

Yesterday’s big story was the Intelligence Community’s “Estimate,” according to which Iran unilaterally and secretly suspended its covert nuclear weapons program back in 2003, and hasn’t resumed it to date. We don’t know the sources and methods that underly this analysis, and it may well be that we have acquired some totally convincing evidence that justifies the astonishing conclusions of the IC’s assessment. But the “Estimate” itself is internally unconvincing–different agencies, notably the National Intelligence Council and the Department of Energy, are not convinced we have the full picture, and argue that we may not know whether the “halt” on which the IC hangs its analytical hat applies to Iran’s “entire nuclear weapons program.”

In other words, we seem to know that something was halted, but we don’t know if that’s the whole story. In Rumsfeld’s famous words, we don’t know what we don’t know.

A couple years ago, The Left started to stir up a public relations assault on the Bush administration, since the administration took action against Iraq and the discoveries of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) over there were disappointing to some. This public relations assault has only recently begun to subside. The response by defenders of the administration, has been that intelligence is an inexact science, dealing very little with what is known and dealing much more with what is supposed. Tellingly, The Left never cooked up a witty rejoinder to that one — because there is no witty rejoinder available, or because they perceived the payoff to be underwhelming.

Intelligence supposed there was somethin’ when there was nuthin’. Intelligence has been characterized as inexact, and this characterization has gone undisputed, in an America as divided as ever, an America that likes to argue about freakin’ everything. Also uncontested, is the assertion that if intelligence supposes there is nuthin’ when there is somethin’, the results would be catastrophic. And now this “perhaps better than random chance” intelligence is telling us there is nuthin’.

Maybe this conclusion is well-researched, maybe it isn’t. It does not appear to have been well-researched…

Huh. How concerned should we be?

“I Ain’t Gonna Let Them Get Away With This”

Sunday, November 18th, 2007

Well, I certainly don’t wanna be this guy, but it’s going to be an interesting case to watch:

A dramatic 911 call from the Pasadena man who allegedly shot and killed two men accused of burglarizing his neighbor has been released. The dispatcher tried to talk him out of it.

At about 2pm Wednesday, Joe Horn called 911 from inside his Pasadena home. He says he saw two men break into his neighbor’s house. Horn tells police that he is armed with a shotgun.

The link above has the full audio of the seven-minute 911 call. Mr. Horn carried the phone outside with him during his confrontation with the perpetrators, and continued to talk on it as the officers arrived at the scene.

“He’s coming out of the window right now,” said Horn to the 911 dispatcher. “I gotta go, buddy. I’m sorry, but he’s coming out the window.”

“Don’t, don’t , don’t go out the door. Mr. Horn? Mr. Horn?” said the dispatcher.

“(Expletive), they just stole something,” said Horn to the dispatcher. “I’m sorry. I ain’t gonna let them get away with this. They got a bag of something. I’m doing it.”

I’ve got a question about this kind of stuff and I think it’s the question everybody has on their minds, they just don’t want to admit it.

Here and there, we have gone full-tilt with the left-wing method(s) for controlling crime. Listing examples would be quite useless. We could go back to the late sixties and early seventies for enough examples. Suppose, just as an intellectual exercise…we were to go full-tilt with the right-wing way? You make a citizen’s arrest, you have the right to enforce your arrest with a legal instrument of lethal force. And of course since bluffing would be dangerous, you will have the right to back it up. Just be ready to prove you gave fair warning in case someone calls it into question.

In your house…on your lawn…on your neighbor’s lawn…on the bus downtown.

I remember during the early nineties that if you were to suppose out loud that such a system would lead to rampant violence, with average citizens huddled beneath their covers for fear that the next shooting frenzy would leave them ventilated in a ditch if they dared step outside, your fantastic musings would spread like wildfire. Many highly-visible politicians so mused. Suc ponderings have, within the information that has found it’s way to me, never panned out in reality. Michael Moore thinks America herself is living proof of this, but he’s been exposed as an unabashed self-loathing reverse-racist and his ramblings are so embarrassing nobody with a name worth defending will agree with him about it.

It’s a different world now. You can’t automatically win an election anywhere just by promising to get those nasty guns “off the street”…or “lying around,” as Mr. Moore likes to say. The message has caught on that a man with gun doth not a lunatic make.

So what would happen if we went all-out?

Common sense should tell you that crime would have to plummet. What kind of human dreck would place himself in such a situation, save for the residual debris here and there that natural selection hasn’t quite gotten around to handling?

Yikes! Did I really type that. Well yeah, I did. For all our fanciful social experiments with crime, the one truth to which we find ourselves returning time and time again, is that crime is committed by relatively few individuals. When we lock up the people who do it, crime goes down, and when we let them out again it goes back up. It’s really something that’s complicated only in our minds.

As for Mr. Horn, I hope he comes out of this okay. He’s right you know. Having to sit and watch a burglary at two in the afternoon, is just bullshit. Yes…being fatally blasted by a shotgun is a punishment disproportionate to the crime. I just don’t see it that way. Being blown up or burned alive is a punishment disproportionate to the crime of using a Bic lighter to check your gas tank — but when it happens, we don’t think of it as an example of injustice, we think of it as an anecdote of extreme stupidity. That’s how I see this. It’s unrealistic to saddle gasoline vapors with egalitarian and utopian notions of social justice; it’s equally unrealistic to saddle those expectations on an adrenaline-charged concerned neighbor suddenly finding himself a witness to a situation someone else made.

H/T: Riehl World View.

Burning Cities Americans Won’t Burn

Saturday, November 3rd, 2007

How’s this for an inconvenient truth:

Police have arrested a man in Los Angeles after witnesses say they saw him lighting a fire on a hillside.

Authorities say 41-year-old Catalino Pineda was seen starting a fire in the San Fernando Valley Wednesday and then walking away.

Witnesses alerted authorities and followed the man to a nearby restaurant where police arrested him.

Pineda was booked for investigation of arson. Authorities say the Guatemala native is currently on probation for making excessive false emergency reports to law enforcement.

Police and fire officials could not immediately say whether he might be connected to any of the wildfires in Southern California.

From the L.A. Daily News story that came out roughly the same time…

Prosecutors have charged a 41-year-old Sun Valley man with arson after witnesses spotted him lighting up a hillside in Woodland Hills on Wednesday, officials said this morning.

Catalino Pineda is scheduled to be arraigned some time this morning in Van Nuys Superior Court, said Deputy District Attorney Steven Frankland. He is charged with one count of arson of a structure or forest.

Witnesses allegedly spotted Pineda lighting a fire on a hillside near Del Valle Street and Ponce Avenue about 4:30 p.m. Wednesday and walk away, police said. The fire was quickly extinguished.

Witnesses followed Pineda to a nearby restaurant and notified police, who arrested him. He is being held on $75,000 bail. If convicted, he faces up to six years in state prison.

Pineda is a day laborer and native of Guatemala. He is currently on probation for making excessive false emergency reports to law enforcement, police said.

Anyone with information is asked to call West Valley Area detectives at (818) 374-7730. On weekends and after hours call the 24-hour Detective Information Desk at 1-877-LAW-FULL (529-3855).

Now, you’ve heard that these “undocumented” immigrants actually commit crimes at a rate far lower than people who actually belong in the country. For example…here. But this example, typical of many others, is loaded with half-truths and red herrings. You fall into the trap when you’re lulled into thinking the faux-statistic addresses illegal immigrants…

In 2007, the American Immigration Law Foundation found that, based on U.S. Census data, “immigration is actually associated with lower crime rates” and that “incarceration rates among young men are lowest for immigrants, even those who are least educated.”

Additionally, the report states that foreign-born (including undocumented) men aged 18 to 39 have incarceration rates five times lower than U.S.-born counterparts. Contrary to media portrayals, undocumented immigrants actually commit crimes significantly less often than U.S.-born citizens.

Two differentiations that I personally think are probably important, are being conflated here rather casually. We have “immigrants”; we have “undocumented.” Those groups are overlapping but are far from statistically identical. Earlier in the article, it is stated as fact that 75 percent of immigrants are “with documents.” The statistical comparisons in the two paragraphs above, have to do with the superset, not the subset. The final sentence of the second paragraph summarizes the situation, but incorrectly or in a manner inconsistent with what the cited research supports: “Undocumented immigrants actually commit crimes significantly less often.” Uh, beg your pardon. We don’t know that. We don’t know that from what’s been offered here.

The other distinction to be made, when we’re talking about comparing crime rates among illegal aliens, or at least pretending to be talking about that, is between “incarceration” and “committing crime.” One would presume if you happen to have broken the law by coming into this country and want to continue breaking the law once you’re here, you would have a few tips and tricks for avoiding getting caught right? I mean if you didn’t…you’d be far less likely to have made it in.

It’s very rare that I hear of studies about illegal aliens committing crimes. Whenever a statistical comparison is done, almost always it has to do with incarceration rates. Smells like skullduggery to me, because the question I hear people asking has to do with who’s committing the crime, not who’s getting locked up for it.

Anyway, we seem to be split straight down the middle on this one. Citizens want the border locked down, and our slimy politicians and lazy egghead white coat propeller-beanie-wearing scientists with their phony studies want it busted wide open. What to do, oh, what to do…

Well, that’s a lot of homes. Maybe now we have our answer.

Pearl Harbor and the Death Penalty

Wednesday, October 31st, 2007


“In my view…the choice for the judge who believes the death penalty to be immoral is resignation rather than simply ignoring duly enacted constitutional laws and sabotaging the death penalty.”

— Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonin Scalia, commenting on the Atkins v. Virginia case

We got an awful lot of self-righteous people, usually with no small amount of condescension and just plain-ol’-snottiness, telling us the death penalty is inconsistent with “evolving standards of decency” or some such rot. More often than not, those snots live in well-to-do ivory tower enclaves and are unlikely to suffer personally from the vagaries of people who have no respect for the sanctity of human life but run free anyway.

One of Associate Justice Scalia’s colleagues does a dandy job of representing these goo-gooders — who are just barely enough in-touch with what passes for a moral compass, to avoid dispensing justice, even when it’s their designated occupation and sworn duty to so dispense.

I’ve already lost this link once, and now that I’ve found it again I wanted to save it onto this page so I’d never lose it again. It’s a great article, because it cites exactly what I’d cite, and highlights exactly what I’d highlight.

Lawprof and legal journalist Jeff Rosen had a very interesting New York Times article about Justice Stevens a week ago. The whole thing is much worth reading; but here I wanted to comment just on one part:

[Justice Stevens] won a bronze star for his [World War II] service as a cryptographer, after he helped break the code that informed American officials that Adm. Isoroku Yamamoto, the commander of the Japanese Navy and architect of the Pearl Harbor attack, was about to travel to the front. Based on the code-breaking of Stevens and others, U.S. pilots, on Roosevelt’s orders, shot down Yamamoto’s plane in April 1943.

Stevens told me he was troubled by the fact that Yamamoto, a highly intelligent officer who had lived in the United States and become friends with American officers, was shot down with so little apparent deliberation or humanitarian consideration. The experience, he said, raised questions in his mind about the fairness of the death penalty. “I was on the desk, on watch, when I got word that they had shot down Yamamoto in the Solomon Islands, and I remember thinking: This is a particular individual they went out to intercept,” he said. “There is a very different notion when you’re thinking about killing an individual, as opposed to killing a soldier in the line of fire.” Stevens said that, partly as a result of his World War II experience, he has tried on the court to narrow the category of offenders who are eligible for the death penalty and to ensure that it is imposed fairly and accurately. He has been the most outspoken critic of the death penalty on the current court.

I recognize that much can get lost in such pieces, even when they are written by experienced, thoughtful, and sympathetic interviewers such as Rosen. Perhaps Stevens gave some further explanations that were omitted, or perhaps Rosen’s paraphrases are not quite right. But what I see in the article strikes me as a perplexing chain of reasoning.

There follow three bullet points which, if you’re a right-thinking rational individual like me, will line up hand-in-glove with the explosions of “Whisky Tango Foxtrot” percolating between your ears as you read through Justice Stevens’ hackneyed preponderances.

Justice John Paul Stevens has, at the very least, achieved the first milestone of insanity and probably the second as well. He’s in some wonderful company there. But more seriously than those, he’s failing to uphold his sworn duty. He is what Scalia was talking about in the quote above.

I Knew There Was Something About Her

Tuesday, March 6th, 2007

I wish it were easier for me to get ahold of hard news and information about Sacramento Mayor Heather Fargo.

She’s a Democrat; she’s a woman; she’s anti-war; she’s got names in her rolodex and other folks have her name in theirs; and, she has an illness. So my local newspaper won’t say too much about her that isn’t fawning and glittery. Very little that is issue-related.

It’s up to the bloggers. Hey, that’s one of the nice things about being alive right now. Thanks Jen.

I just knew there was something about Her Honor that rubbed me the wrong way.

Talking About Crime Commissions

Last week I wrote about Sacramento’s useless Mayor Heather Fargo, and her idea of fighting crime and gangs: A Youth Commission of Sacramento Area high school students to keep City Council abreast of “Youth-related issues.”

Instead of adding more cops to the already pittiful number (668 on the street), Heather and her merry band of Council Nitwits want to talk more about the problem. In what amounts to a typical liberal response to a very real problem, Sacramento City Council lead by Mayor Heather Fargo established a “youth czar” position to coordinate prevention and intervention programs.