Tuesday, August 13, 2019

No point of no return

The comment du jour is that, as far as climate change is concerned, we’ve passed the point of no return.

The term “point of no return” is defined – in navigational terms – as the point along a route where the distance forward to the destination is now shorter than the distance back to the point of departure.  The point where you might as well keep going 'cuz - as the saying goes - "there's no going back".

If we’ve reached the “point of no return” climate-wise, then we’re reached the point where we can no longer return the Earth to a pristine “not affected by humankind” climate.

Taking this one step further, if we have reached the “point of no return” climate-wise, then there is nothing we can do.  Nothing. At. All.  We’re screwed.  Incapable of doing anything to fix it.  Humans are on their way to extinction, along with all of the other animal life on the planet.

The analogy is like being in a plane that has lost all power and is going to crash and nothing anyone can do will stop it.  This leaves you with a choice: you can spend your last moments screaming your head off in terror, or you can calmly reach for the drinks tray and get a serious load on.  Either way, it’s over and you know it.  Die with dignity?  Gimme a break.

If the environment has really passed the “point of no return”, then any attempt to clean shit up is useless.  Ya might as well stop worrying and get a gas-sucking big V8.  Or heat your home to 78 degrees in the middle of winter with your pellet stove.  Or get a camper and empty your black water tank all over the highway.  Remember: it’s over – and there’s nothing you can do about it.

In the 1959 film “On The Beach”, a US submarine arrives in post-apocalyptic Australia.  Nuclear fallout is wiping out human life around the earth and there’s no hope for a future (yeah, a really depressing film).  Some people give their whole families – including their children – suicide pills.  Others spend days in prayer in front of churches, hoping against hope for a miracle that will never come.  Others just sit and stare at the clouds in deep depression.

But a few hardy souls decide to do the stuff they’ve always wanted to do - but never did.  One of the protagonists enters a last car race with his rarely-used perfect-condition collectible speedster.  His reasoning? “Why not!”  It’s over.  Might as well enjoy your last moments on earth.

If we’ve reached the “point of no return” climate-wise, then it’s over.  Might as well enjoy our last moments on earth.  Why not?  If there’s nothing we can do about it, why not do whatever we want to do?

Unless, of course, the climate “point of no return” actually doesn’t exist, and the entire idea of a climate “point of no return” is entirely false and only exists in the mad fantasies of fear-crazed control freaks.  And if the well-publicized climate “point of no return” doesn’t really exist and it’s all just a scare tactic, what else are those fear-crazed control freaks lying about?

Oh, the guy in the car race… wins.  As if it really matters anyway: who’s ever gonna see the trophy?

Monday, August 12, 2019

Government protection

There are some who feel that the government can - and should - keep them safe and secure.  That by passing a few "well-intentioned" laws, the government can provide a high level of security for the general public.  A level of security only achievable through laws mandating government restrictions on the rights of The People.  Or as was noted by an old guy with a wig: surrendering liberty for safety.

Let's examine this for a moment.

If the government can’t keep you safe when you’re in a prison cell, then the government can’t keep anyone safe anywhere.

That’s the lesson from this past weekend's report about the death of a notable prisoner in a NY prison.

But this isn't about this prisoner, or that prisoner, or any other prisoner.  Nor is it about someone in a car, or a homemaker, or kids in school.

This is about demands that the government should "keep us safe".

There will be a demand for an investigation to find out why the prison cameras didn’t work or were pointed in the wrong direction.  And there will be a demand for answers and accountability from prison administrators, accusations and cross-accusations of fault, and a call for newer and stricter prison regulations.

Of course, there will be the inevitable “We need to know what went wrong so we can take action to prevent it from ever happening again.”  Yeah.  Right. We've heard that tune before.  As the saying goes, “Pull the other one.”

And yet, this person, someone whose testimony may have implicated other powerful individuals in criminal acts, and someone who was well known to authorities and the public at large, is dead.  In what should be one of the safest places in the country: a prison.  Yes, there are deaths in prisons every day, but this wasn’t a street criminal, drug dealer, or an ordinary thug.  And it didn’t happen in “the yard” or where multiple convicts can group together.

It happened in his cell.

Let's examine this for a moment, but in the context of the latest demands for disarming the general public (and that's what those thinly-veiled demands are meant to do).  If the government can’t keep someone safe inside a gun-free zone where body searches are performed to check for any weapons, which is inside a building with locked doors to prevent both entry and exit, and which is inside a gated facility patrolled by armed guards both outside and inside, then the government can’t keep anyone safe anywhere.

If the government turned its back on someone it was supposed to protect and keep alive, and that person somehow ended up dead - and without explanation - it means that the government isn’t competent to keep anyone safe.  Isn't the old complaint by conspiracy theorists, "who watches the watchers?"

And that’s the entire point: when we trust the government to do something we should do for ourselves, and when allow the the government to restrict our the ability to act on our own behalf, and when we trust the government to do what it is supposed to do, the worst can – and sometimes does – happen.

And that is a problem that no "well-intentioned laws" can solve.

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Achieving a reasonable gun control compromise

As has been said before by many folks, there is no such thing as a reasonable gun control compromise.  Here's a repost in full from LawDog illustrating what "compromise" really means to anti-gun advocates.

Before we begin, here's the link to the original so you know that I didn't write this and I'm giving full credit to the original author: https://thelawdogfiles.blogspot.com/2013/01/a-repost.html

Now the full unchanged, unedited, unadulterated, unmodified, original text so you can read it without having to go chasing around to find a way to read it:



A repost

"We cannot negotiate with those who say, 'What's mine is mine, and what's yours is negotiable.'"

-- John F. Kennedy, Address to the American People, 25 JUL 1961

Most people tend to substitute the word 'compromise' for the first 'negotiate' in that quote, and it does tend to fit the current circumstances.

Once again the anti-gun people are starting to trot out the tired and hackneyed meme of "compromise" in the "national gun conversation".

One of the more highly linked of my posts is the one about the "Gun Rights Cake" analogy, which I will now re-post and expand a bit:

I hear a lot about "compromise" from the gun-control camp ... except, it's not compromise.

Allow me to illustrate:

Let's say I have this cake. It is a very nice cake, with "GUN RIGHTS" written across the top in lovely floral icing. Along you come and say, "Give me that cake."

I say, "No, it's my cake."

You say, "Let's compromise. Give me half." I respond by asking what I get out of this compromise, and you reply that I get to keep half of my cake.

Okay, we compromise. Let us call this compromise The National Firearms Act of 1934.

This leaves me with half of my cake and there I am, enjoying my cake when you walk back up and say, "Give me that cake."

I say -- again: "No, it's my cake."

You say, "Let's compromise." What do I get out of this compromise? Why, I get to keep half of what's left of the cake I already own.

So, we compromise -- let us call this one the Gun Control Act of 1968 -- and this time I'm left holding what is now just a quarter of my cake.

And I'm sitting in the corner with my quarter piece of cake, and here you come again. You want my cake. Again.

This time you take several bites -- we'll call this compromise the Clinton Executive Orders -- and I'm left with about a tenth of what has always been MY DAMN CAKE and you've got nine-tenths of it. 

 Let me restate that: I started out with MY CAKE and you have already 'compromised' me out of ninety percent of MY CAKE ...

... and here you come again. Compromise! ... Lautenberg Act (nibble, nibble). Compromise! ... The HUD/Smith and Wesson agreement (nibble, nibble). Compromise! ... The Brady Law (NOM NOM NOM). Compromise! ... The School Safety and Law Enforcement Improvement Act (sweet tap-dancing Freyja, my finger!)

After every one of these "compromises" -- in which I lose rights and you lose NOTHING -- I'm left holding crumbs of what was once a large and satisfying cake, and you're standing there with most of MY CAKE, making anime eyes and whining about being "reasonable", and wondering "why we won't compromise" as you try for the rest of my cake.

In 1933 I -- or any other American -- could buy a fully-automatic Thompson sub-machine gun, a 20mm anti-tank gun, or shorten the barrel of any gun I owned to any length I thought fit, silence any gun I owned, and a host of other things.

Come your "compromise" in 1934, and suddenly I can't buy a sub-machine gun, a silencer, or a Short-Barreled Firearm without .Gov permission and paying a hefty tax. What the hell did y'all lose in this "compromise"?

In 1967 I, or any other American, could buy or sell firearms anywhere we felt like it, in any State we felt like, with no restrictions. We "compromised" in 1968, and suddenly I've got to have a Federal Firearms License to have a business involving firearms, and there's whole bunch of rules limiting what, where and how I buy or sell guns.

In 1968, "sporting purpose" -- a term found NOT ANY DAMNED WHERE IN THE CONSTITUTION, TO SAY NOTHING OF THE SECOND AMENDMENT -- suddenly became a legal reason to prevent the importation of guns that had been freely imported in 1967.

Tell me, do -- exactly what the hell did you lose in this 1968 "compromise"?

The Lautenberg Act was a "compromise" which suddenly deprived Americans of a Constitutional Right for being accused or convicted of a misdemeanor -- a bloody MISDEMEANOR! What did your side lose in this "compromise"?

I could go on and on, but the plain and simple truth of the matter is that a genuine "compromise" means that both sides give up something. My side of the discussion has been giving, giving, and giving yet more -- and your side has been taking, taking, and now wants to take more.

For you, "compromise" means you'll take half of my cake now, and the other half of my cake next time. Always has been, always will be.

I've got news for you: That is not "compromise".

I'm done with being reasonable, and I'm done with "compromise". Nothing about gun control in this country has ever been "reasonable" nor a genuine "compromise", and I have flat had enough.


Monday, August 5, 2019

A painful truth

The news hit the nation hard this past weekend.

Two more mass-shootings.  Dozens killed and wounded.  Families and communities torn apart by violence.  And once again, the nation mourns senseless violence.

It's early Monday morning right now, so there's only a limited amount of information available.  But it is beginning to look like both of the shooters left trails behind them.  The San Jose shooter claims he was “radicalized” long before Trump, which would mean “during Obama’s presidency”.  The Dayton shooter was suspended from school twice for making threats, and the kids in school knew he could be dangerous.

Once again, the signs were there and nobody in authority did anything.

Once again, the claim is the “easy availability of assault weapons”.

Once again, the leftists are blaming Trump for “stoking racism”.

It’ll eventually come out that both of these shooters were known but weren’t on a “watch list”.  Psychologists will say that that, before the violence, they were “just kids expressing the normal anger that kids express”.  Authorities will claim their “hands were tied”.  Others will say that they "knew the kid was trouble" but kept to themselves.  And once again, there will be recriminations based in the fantasy that "if we had better gun laws, these shootings wouldn't happen".

The usual calls for gun control have already gone out: more demands for laws that wouldn’t have prevented these tragedies from occurring, more calls for anti-Constitutional restrictions on 2A, more demands for the elimination of legal gun ownership.  All in the false belief that a new law - any law - would prevent more events like this.

But nobody will call for additional restrictions and “watch lists” for people who have exhibited signs of serious antisocial activity.  Nobody will make the connection between the unpunished violence of AntiFA and the acceptance of violence as a means of protest.  Nobody will propose that HIPAA rules be modified to allow truly psychotic individuals (such as Adam Lanza) or those being treated by anti-psychotic drugs to be added to background check lists.

(Yes, there is a legitimate fear that nonviolent individuals with mild mental diseases (such as Downs syndrome individuals or elderly nonviolent Alzheimers patients) will be added to the rolls of those who may not possess firearms.  The question of "prior restraint" immediately comes to mind.  But this is a false equivalence: those who are taking anti-psychotic drugs are doing so for a reason.

No, I don't want to get into a long harangue about mental disease here.  This isn't a comment on mental illness.  It's a comment on how these two shooters were probably "known" to authorities for reasons we have yet to be told.)

AOC recently said that “marginalized communities may have no choice but to riot” (https://thehill.com/homenews/house/455553-ocasio-cortez-says-marginalized-communities-have-no-choice-but-to-riot) and nobody in the MSM held her accountable for enthusiastically endorsing and supporting the use of violence as a political tool.  But they all point to Trump and blame him for "stoking racism".

This wave of violence was predictable.  It began a long time ago but was endorsed during Obama’s tenure when the DOJ refused to prosecute Black Panthers for shutting down a polling station.  Obama’s negative comments about the Cambridge police (who were doing their jobs when they saw someone trying to break into a home and who wouldn't produce an ID proving he lived there) pushed the “racism” narrative full-force into the mainstream.  It was the Obama DOJ that initiated a breakdown in law enforcement with its restrictions that prevented police departments from doing their jobs, especially where anyone claimed that a single bad officer meant the entire force was racist.

These two shootings were predictable.  These two shootings were probably preventable as well.  Neither of these two shootings was due to Trump, or to conservatives, or the NRA.  The only persons responsible for these two shootings were the shooters themselves.

However, instead of examining the recent restrictions on law enforcement and the warning events that led up to these shootings, Democrats will blame Trump.

Don't get me wrong: Trump isn't blameless.  His rhetoric about illegal immigrants and "shithole countries" was unfortunate and should never have been uttered by the President of the United States.

But Trump isn't responsible for hamstringing police departments and calling them racist (for example: https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-systemic-racism-in-baltimores-police-force/2016/08/10/86ce448a-5f3f-11e6-9d2f-b1a3564181a1_story.html?noredirect=on&utm_term=.27fbfc749918).  Trump isn't responsible for releasing thousands of violent criminals and illegal aliens from prisons (https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/ice-releases-19-723-criminal-illegals-208-convicted-of-murder-900-of-sex-crimes).

Trump isn't the problem.  He may be part of the problem.  But then, so are liberal Democrats and their public pronouncements about how evil America is, and their refusal to "look in the mirror" to see who has been pushing anti-societal policies that both justify and endorse anti-societal actions.

As the Bard of Avon wrote, "The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves..."

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Sticks and stones

When I was young, my parents taught me an old rhyme:  "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me."  Yes, there are variations on this, but I was taught "break" and "hurt".  The lesson I learned was to ignore what people say but pay close attention to what they do.

There's a reason they taught me this rhyme.  It was because I was a target for the unreasoning hatred of others - not because of what I did but because of who and what I am.

I am about to reveal something about my past that very few people know.  It is something I have been ashamed of for most of my life, and something I had no control over.  But it has given me direction in my life and is a constant reminder of that rhyme.

When I was 6 years old and the only child, we moved from Brooklyn to a small town in northern NJ (for now, I won't name the town).  Why my father chose that town has always been a mystery to me.  The predominant religion in that town was Dutch Reformed, and most of the churches were closely aligned with other churches in South Africa.  There were a couple of other churches, but nothing outside mainstream Christianity.  The town had no "people of color" (I really hate that phrase, but it's appropriate here).  We moved in, and I almost immediately began feeling the pressure of prejudice and hatred.

I am a Jew.

It didn't take me long to discover that I was the only Jewish child in the entire school system.  We were the only Jewish family in town.

The taunting began immediately and continued from 2nd grade all the way thru graduation from High School.  By that time there were 3 Jewish children in the school system: me, my younger brother (who was born the year we moved into town), and a boy from a second Jewish family (who moved out of town only a couple of years later).

Taunting.  Teasing.  "Christ killer." "Jew-boy". And I'm going to put this into print even though it will offend some folks, because it was what I was called: "White n-gger".

My lunches were stolen,  I was physically intimidated and knocked to the ground many times.  The teachers made a point of calling on me when they knew I didn't have the answer, just so they could embarrass me in front of the rest of the class and be friends with the other students and their parents (how many times did I hear "Good one, Miss whatever" when the bell rang, accompanied by laughter - including from the teacher).

I took up clarinet.  During annual blind auditions for the school band, I always won either 1st or 2nd chair in the school's Wind Symphony.  I took up the saxophone.  During annual blind auditions for the jazz band, I always won 1st chair alto sax.  One day, the band teacher handed me an oboe - and, after a moment of adjusting my embouchure (how you place your lips) around the double-reed, I played a scale and a short exercise.  The band teacher was pleased - he was the only one, tho.

The other members of the band weren't pleased or congratulatory at my ability to play almost any reed instrument handed to me.  They were angry and jealous - and it only made my time worse.  Instead of band practice being a place I could be with peer musicians, it became a place where I drew even more attention as "that [expletive] Jew boy".

Why am I telling you this story?

Because I grew up knowing that words are meaningless unless followed up by action.  Words can be ignored.  The people who speak angry words usually don't follow up those words with actions.  And when it's only one or two jerks calling someone a horrible epithet, the situation will end when either the jerks or the target walk away from each other.

Now to the heart of the matter:

What I was subjected to was - and this is the exactly correct word - racism.  The insults, mistreatment, threats, and school hallway knock-downs ("Oh, sorry, Jew-boy") were almost exactly what black children were experiencing during the 60's when busing was considered a "workable remedy" to the SCOTUS Brown decision.  Intentional mistreatment, being knocked against lockers or knocked down on the floor, being physically attacked for no reason - and all because you are different.

I know what racism feels like.  I was a target during my entire 2-K schooling (which is why I have never attended a high school reunion, for obvious reasons).  I spent my preteen and teen years in a town where I had no friends and where I was hated for no good reason at all - other than the simple fact that I was different.

What's my point?

Those who scream "!!1!RACISM!!11!!" at everything they don't like to hear should calm down and recognize the difference between actual racism and boorish/rude words.  Yes, there are verbal tropes that are highly offensive, and "send them back" (which isn't what Trump tweeted) does reflect back to at least one trope.  But think on this: in 1854, Lincoln said that his first instinct would be “to free all the slaves, and send them to Liberia”  https://www.history.com/news/5-things-you-may-not-know-about-lincoln-slavery-and-emancipation)  Does this make Lincoln a racist?

The "Jim Crow" laws were passed to enforce discriminatory actions against blacks, even by those who didn't want to do it.  This was actual institutionalized racism.  When the laws were repealed, some continued to discriminate against blacks.  Yes, those actions classify as racism.  But those were actions - not words.

Jews also felt race-based discrimination as well.  The film "Gentleman's Agreement", starring Gregory Peck, relates how Jews were treated by "polite society" just because they were Jews

The days of institutionally-enforced racism are over.  There are no laws that permit institutional discrimination based on race, religion, or gender, and plenty of laws that forbid such discrimination (let's leave discussions over cakes for another day).

These are only words.  Racism is in the action, not the words.  Words can be opposed by more words.  If you think someone's words are wrong, respond with better words.  Escalating the situation by using ever increasing threats doesn't ease tensions.  It aggravates and increases them.  Telling your opponent that you intend to be a perpetual thorn in their side (viz. Omar and "the squad") doesn't work - and almost always makes things worse.  A stupid response to a stupid statement makes both orators look stupid.

But the thing to remember is that these are all words.  Words are not violence.

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me.

Friday, July 12, 2019

Facebook - Today's "vast wasteland"

How many of us have the driver of a car loaded with family, and noticed the impenetrable curtain of silence drop as soon as the car starts moving?  It happens to me almost every time I get in the car.  My loving wife sits in the front passenger seat, takes out her Android phone, opens Facebook, and begins sweeping her finger up and down... up and down... up and down... seemingly looking for something, and spending her time watching videos or looking for videos to watch.

How many of us sit behind the wheel in silence, knowing that anything we say is either ignored or unheard, and knowing that we have been reduced to servants, invisible unless we are needed?  When we stop the car after having arrived at the destination, how many of us notice that conversations resume as if they had never stopped?

Happens to me all the time.  But today, when she finished watching a video that was accompanied with sound effects and turned to me to tell me what she just watched, I interrupted her with, "I don't care.  I don't want to know."

She and I are both in our mid-60s.  Her response was to sulk like a 12-year old who had just been told that she couldn't watch her favorite TV show, or talk on the phone for hours with a friend.  Or watch Facebook videos for hours.  Or that her BFF (in this case, "husband") was completely uninterested in a Facebook video.


Here's my take on it: Facebook has mutated from a social media platform to a platform that infantilizes adults, turning them into mindless juveniles and prompting obnoxious behavior.  Like spoiled children, they immediately become angered - as if their toy had been taken away from them.

Childish.  Selfish.

She and I used to have long conversations in the car on all kinds of subjects.  Her job and her interactions with clients.  My job and my interactions with co-workers.  Our children and how well they're doing.  Friends.  Family.  Sports.  Weather.  We laughed together,  We expressed our frustrations to each other.

We shared our time together.

Now I sit in silence in the driver's seat.  No more conversations.  Just the drone of puerile videos that someone thought was funny and posted for others to watch.

Until today, I had to suffer the indignity being ignored in favor of a video that I neither watched nor cared about, nor will watch later, nor will ever care about.  Instead of being able to socialize with a human, I was disregarded as unnecessary and unwanted.

This seeming obsession with Facebook has turned an entire generation - actually, multiple generations - of once-thinking adults into churlish children.

Newton Minow, appointed as a commissioner to the FCC by JFK, remarked at a National Association of Broadcasters meeting as to the usefulness - or uselessness - of television.  From the Wikipedia page:
"When television is good, nothing — not the theater, not the magazines or newspapers — nothing is better. But when television is bad, nothing is worse. I invite each of you to sit down in front of your television set when your station goes on the air and stay there for a day without a book, without a magazine, without a newspaper, without a profit and loss sheet or a rating book to distract you. Keep your eyes glued to that set until the station signs off. I can assure you that what you will observe is a vast wasteland." 
Newton N. Minow, "Television and the Public Interest", address to the National Association of Broadcasters, Washington, D.C., May 9, 1961
Today, television as a "public interest" is quickly fading into obscurity.  Instead, people spend more and more time on the Internet and less in front of a wall-mounted screen. What Mr. Minow said in 1961 about television is equally as true about the Internet, and especially Facebook, today.

We have only replaced one "vast wasteland" with another.  Only now, that "vast wateland" is no longer captive to that screen in the living room.

It follows us into our cars as well.

Monday, May 27, 2019

EU Unraveling

At long last, the EU is dying.  And I'm not sorry one bit.

The EU was, from the start, impossible.  It was based on the idea that a central commission would set a common economic and immigration policy for each country, with each country relinquishing the majority of its self-determination in favor of the whole.  The central EU commission would ensure that "maker" countries would provide the largest amount of funding and control, and the "taker" countries would accede to the decisions made on their behalf.

Sound familiar?

Ever heard of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics?

Ok, let me make it simple: the implementation of the EU was based on ... socialism.

France, England, and Italy have held elections and the "nationalists" have won by a fairly wide margin.  The "nationalists" want their countries to regain a large piece of their autonomy - especially over both economic and immigration controls.

Yes, cross-border trade makes sense, and the reduction of cross-border tariffs makes sense as well.  But the open-borders policies in France, Germany, and England have resulted in "no-go" zones: regions where localities have instituted their own laws, and where police either cannot go... or are afraid to go.

Quite naturally, the governments in these countries have forbidden press coverage of these violations of their own sovereignty for fear that they would be held to account for the crimes being committed against their own citizens by "refugees" from the Middle East (predominantly Syria).  But the internet neither hides nor forgets - and stories  of crimes and violence are leaking out to the free world.

The recent elections were no surprise to anyone watching what was really happening inside the EU and who have been reading the reports leaking thru "the iron curtain" (intentional reference) of  government censorship of the press.  The only surprise is how long the EU "commissioners" managed to keep their fingers in the legislative "dike" to keep it from collapsing - and that collapse has now begun.  These elections were only the leading indicator of what's to come: BREXIT, FREXIT, ITEXIT, and several other "exits" from the EU.

Now, I don't think we're seeing a precursor to war or armed revolution... unless the immigrant "refugees" in the "no-go" zones refuse to acknowledge the sovereignty of the country in which they live.  In that case, we could see some serious conflicts that can no longer be hidden by the MSM in the US.

Yes.  Hidden by the MSM.  In the US. Because the EU is an artificially created socialist construct.  And the MSM enthusiastically supports Democrats.  And Democrats enthusiastically support the same kinds of socialist constructs here in the US.

Imagine what would happen if, instead of showing us how "socialism works" in some EU countries (and we see only those countries with a small and culturally-secure population), the MSM showed the US how socialism is destroying some EU countries from within.  How would the Democrats be able to say "We should be more like Sweden!!" if the truth about immigrant violence in Sweden was accurately reported?

The EU is collapsing.  Politically, this sucks for the EU.

Politically, it is a huge warning to America.

Now the question is whether Americans will do what's needed to protect American democracy against the encroaching horrors of socialism, or whether they will accept and adopt a political system that has failed every time it has been tried.