Thursday, September 29, 2016

Guinea fowl and snakes???


I noticed a report that a school in Fremont County, Wyoming, on or near the Shoshone Reservation, has a problem with rattlesnakes migrating near the premises.  There's a long list of precautions taken by the School Board and local authorities to keep children safe.  One of them is:

After speaking with a biologist with the Game and Fish, the district is looking into the feasibility of having a Guinea Fowl farm in the affected area.

I did a quick internet search to find out what guinea fowl had to do with snakes.  Some references claimed that the former kill the latter, or at least drive them away.  Others spoke disdainfully of guinea fowl ignoring snakes, even going so far as to let them hang out in their warm coops.

Can anyone tell me - and perhaps other interested readers - how guinea fowl can/may/will help with a snake infestation?  Please let us know in Comments.

Thanks!

Peter

BLM in the USA and 'refugees' in Sweden - something in common?


I find it more than a little ironic that Sweden - a nation that prides itself on opening its doors to 'refugees' - is now fighting an epidemic of lawlessness caused by those same refugees.

The inflow of asylum seekers in Sweden, a country with one of the most liberal laws towards refugees, is putting an increasing strain on the country's police. There are now reportedly 55 areas in the country, where the law is not fully upheld.

The number has risen from 50 in February, when the police last gave a comprehensive report on the issue, and last week, when the law enforcement agency gave an update. According to media reports, the service is facing a major crisis of self-confidence, with as many as three officers on average asking to resign on a daily basis. Internal polls say four officers out of five have been considering a change of profession lately.

“We have a major crisis. Many colleagues are choosing to quit,” police officer Peter Larsson told the Norwegian broadcaster NRK. “A drastically worsened working environment means many colleagues are now looking for other work.”

If officers go into a no-go zone, they risk being verbally attacked or pelted with stones. Patrol cars may be set ablaze or stolen.

Crime rates in the blacklisted areas are on the rise, the police report said. The offenses range from vandalism to drug crimes to sex assaults and gun violence.

There's more at the link.

And what happens when police are told not to go into a zone of lawlessness?  Consider Baltimore, 2015:

Despite a firm denial by Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, a senior law enforcement source charges that she gave an order for police to stand down as riots broke out Monday night, raising more questions about whether some of the violence and looting could have been prevented.

The source, who is involved in the enforcement efforts, confirmed to Fox News there was a direct order from the mayor to her police chief Monday night, effectively tying the hands of officers as they were pelted with rocks and bottles.

. . .


On Monday, [Maryland Governor] Hogan suggested the mayor waited too long to request a state of emergency.

That followed criticism over her remarks over the weekend, when she said it's important to give protesters the opportunity to exercise their right to free speech.

She seemed to take that notion a step further: "It's a very delicate balancing act, because, while we tried to make sure that they were protected from the cars and the other things that were going on, we also gave those who wished to destroy space to do that as well."

Again, more at the link.  Bold, underlined text is my emphasis.

Another example?  Sure.  How about Chicago?

Starting Jan. 1, officers were required to fill out the “investigatory stop reports” following changes in the state law and an agreement the Police Department made last year with the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois that required Chicago officers to more thoroughly document their street stops.

The reports have caused controversy within the department because officers have complained they are too time-consuming and confusing to fill out. As a result, street stops made by Chicago police officers have plummeted significantly.

After hearing feedback from officers about new stop reports, interim police Superintendent John Escalante worked with the city’s Law Department and the ACLU to simplify the forms.

The changes, which are being completed and go into effect March 1, will eliminate some redundancies in the reports ... Instead of being two pages, the new stop reports will be reduced to 1 ½ pages, Police Department officials said.

More at the link. Again, bold, underlined text is my emphasis - and, in this case, it looks suspiciously as if the new reporting requirements were designed to achieve that result.  That sure sounds like a disincentive to the police, if you ask me.  "Do your job - then fill out a form that'll take a long time, during which you can't do your job!"

And what about Los Angeles?

Run away. If a police officer is confronted by a suspect with a weapon, those entrusted to set policies for the Police Department believe officers should run away. That’s the recent finding from the Los Angeles Police Commission which has turned Monday morning quarterbacking into a weekly agenda item at the three-ring circus they preside over every Tuesday morning.

. . .

The Commission is becoming nothing more than a politically motivated rubber stamp for the warped worldview of a handful of activists that they pander to. In this instance, only Commissioner Steve Soboroff was willing to let facts and reason prevail.

The message the Los Angeles Police Commission is sending to officers confronted with a violent and dangerous suspect is clear: You can save your life or save your job, but you cannot do both. You choose.

More at the link.

I don't know about you, but I'm seeing left-wing, progressive pressure on police that will inevitably result in precisely the same sort of no-go areas in the USA that Sweden is currently experiencing.  Would anyone deny that measures such as those described above are making it close to impossible for the police to do their jobs?

The next step, of course, is for our law enforcement personnel to realize (as have their colleagues in Sweden) that they're in a no-win situation, and resign en masse.  That will be scary . . . not because the criminals will jump at the chance to do as they please (although they will), but because the broad mass of honest citizens will then stop them the hard way, without worrying about such niceties as legal requirements.  I'm just waiting for that to happen during the next Charlotte, or the next 'flash mob' eruption, or anything like that.  I happen to know that a great many senior law enforcement personnel, in federal, state and local agencies, are seriously worried about precisely the same thing.  You can take that to the bank.  I talked with one of them, a former colleague, just last night.

The USA isn't Sweden.  There, most people have been 'pacified' and are disarmed.  In America . . . not so much.  If the police lose control - or have it taken from them by left-wing, progressive elements - the result is likely to be very nasty indeed.

Peter

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Truck woes


Regular readers may recall my truck's electrical system woes, which have been a problem off and on for three years now.  Furthermore, three and a half years ago, I had to replace the gearbox after the original unit was drained of transmission fluid when a hose came loose.  I bought a Jasper reconditioned unit, with a three-year warranty . . . and sure enough, just after the warranty expired, it's broken down.  (The mechanic at the local service station rolled his eyes when I told him that, and said he's seen it more than once with such units.  He advised that if I want to fit any major reconditioned component like a gearbox, buy it from the manufacturer and from no-one else, because only the manufacturer will stand behind it as they should.)

I suspect I'm going to have to give up on the truck.  I can't pour another three thousand dollars plus into yet another gearbox, and the ongoing electrical problems are eating up smaller amounts on a regular basis.  There's no point throwing good money after bad.  It's a pity, because the truck (a 2005 Ford F-150) has only just over 70,000 miles on the clock (I bought it at about the same time as my disabling workplace injury, so I simply haven't driven it very much).  The engine and all other components have never missed a beat, and have been very reliable.  However . . . enough is enough.

I won't sell the truck as a going concern.  I regard it as a lemon now, and there's no way I'm prepared to sell a lemon to anyone - not even if they know about the problems.  (It's been my experience that sooner or later, someone will sell that lemon to someone else without being fully up-front about its problems.  I've had that happen to me once before, and I'll be damned if I allow anyone to do it to someone else using my truck!)  I won't even trade it in.  I'll sell the engine to someone who needs a good one, and perhaps some of the other parts (wheels and tires, body bits and pieces, camper shell, etc.) to local folks who can use them on their vehicles.  I'll junk the rest.

I guess I'll have to look for a cheap local runabout to tide me over until I can afford something better.  I can't monopolize Miss D.'s car - she needs that herself.  Maybe I can trade the engine for something suitable.  Otherwise, if any of my readers are interested in buying an excellent-condition 2005 Ford V-6 4.2-liter truck engine, needing only to be transplanted into their vehicle, let me know.

Peter

My mom would have boxed my ears instead


I suppose, in this day and age, non-corporal punishment is the norm . . . but it still seems to me that a California teenager got off lightly.

It was a morning that any mom with a teenager could relate to, said Nicole Poppic, a 34-year-old veteran and mom of three in Northern California. While her son Alex, 10, and daughter Sammi, 4, were ready and waiting to leave for school, Poppic's oldest child, Cara, 14, had overslept, and then she spent even more time arguing with her mother about, well, everything.

"When we finally got in the car and I looked at the clock and realized that we were running late, I started doing the 'mom' thing," Poppic told TODAY Parents. "My lecture went something along the lines of, 'You need to start thinking about other people, Cara. You are not the only person in this family, and you made your brother and sister late, too."

Then Poppic heard Cara’s favorite band, Panic! at the Disco, start playing from the passenger seat of the car. "That is when I saw that Cara had put in her headphones and was staring out her window, completely ignoring me," she said. "I reached over and took her phone off her lap, unplugged her headphones, and threw her phone out the car window."

But in case that maneuver doesn't convince you that Poppic is winning at parenting, she went one step further: after making Cara wait while she dropped off both her younger siblings at their school, Poppic wrote her daughter a tardy note that told the attendance office at Cara's high school the unvarnished truth about their morning from her perspective:

. . .

After she returned home, Poppic retrieved Cara's phone from the neighbor's yard no worse for the wear and posted a photo of the letter to her Facebook page, where it has been liked more than 7,000 times and shared over 32K times since the beginning of September.

(Click the image for a larger view)


There's more at the link.

My parents wouldn't have wasted time on gentle persuasion.  They had a rather more robust style of parenting!  (It was a different world in those days, of course.)

Peter

Sad Puppies, loud giggles, and a new book


Back in 2015, I called for a boycott of Tor Books, because one of that company's editors made scurrilous and completely untrue remarks.  Despite efforts to get the company to deal with the situation, that wasn't done to anyone's satisfaction.  (You can read all my posts about the issue, in reverse chronological order, by clicking this link.)

The root of the problem was liberal dominance (and manipulation of) the Hugo Awards.  Groups opposed to that included the Sad Puppies (formed by Larry Correia's fans, and joined by many others) and the Rabid Puppies (led by Vox Day, and rather less willing to compromise and 'be nice' towards the Social Justice Warriors who infested - and still infest - halls of mainstream-publisher-science-fiction.  I've never been a member of either group, although I certainly supported the Sad Puppies' campaign.  Furthermore, the Sad Puppies did not join my call for a boycott of Tor Books, although the Rabid Puppies did.

Amid all the unpleasantness about Tor and the various Puppy denominations, one amusing streak ran through the debate.  Declan Finn wrote a series of satirical posts on his blog portraying (highly) fictionalized SJW attempts to attack, silence or control various Sad and Rabid Puppy figures.  Most of them were very funny, and I enjoyed reading them.  (Yes, Miss D. and I were portrayed in one of them.)

Declan has now published his collected Sad Puppy posts in book form.




'Sad Puppies Bite Back' is free for Kindle Unlimited subscribers, and very reasonably priced for everyone else.  I've been enjoying re-reading Declan's wit, and chuckling all over again.  He had a lot of fun with this, and I daresay you will too.  Highly recommended as light, entertaining reading.

Peter

Damned if they do, damned if they don't, redux


On September 1st, I posted an article with the above headline, showing how cops in Chicago were abused by locals when they tried to do their job.  The past two days have seen two more incidents where the cops just couldn't win for losing.

In the first, a California Highway Patrol vehicle tried to stop a group of people performing illegal spins and donuts in an intersection - only to be attacked by those involved.





Clearly, those attacking the car (and performing illegal stunts in the road) have no respect whatsoever for law and order, and none for those trying to uphold and enforce it.

Next, a tragedy in San Diego.

A San Diego-area officer fatally shot a man who witnesses claim was mentally challenged and unarmed Tuesday afternoon, marking the latest victim in an unsettling series of black men killed by police.

. . .

Upon arriving, the first responding officer discovered a black male in his 30s frantically pacing back and forth, "not only endangering himself, but motorists," Davis said.

The officer allegedly ordered the man to remove his hand from his front pant pocket. When the man didn't comply, the officer drew his firearm.

A second officer arrived shortly thereafter and prepared to stun the man with a Taser. But as the officer prepared the electronic device, the man allegedly pulled out an object from his pocket, placed his hands together and took "what appeared to be a shooting stance," Davis said.

Both officers discharged their weapons simultaneously, fatally striking the man with several bullets as well as a high-voltage Taser shock. He was rushed to a hospital where he was pronounced dead Tuesday evening.

. . .

Olango's sister can be seen breaking down in tears.

"I called for help, I didn't call for you guys to kill him!" she screams in the video. "Oh my God, you killed my brother!"

Again, more at the link.

Initial video released by the police appears to confirm that the officers did not fire until the deceased man pulled something from his pocket and appeared to aim it at them.  Under the circumstances, I can't think of a single cop I know who wouldn't have fired at him.  I'm well trained and experienced in the use of firearms, and I can assure you;  if I'd been there, I'd have fired too!  You simply don't have time to wait until you know for sure whether or not the thing in his hands is dangerous or not.  If you wait, and it is a gun, you're going to be dead before you know what hit you.  You dare not take that chance.

Another aspect is that several shots were fired.  Again, this is standard procedure.  I've written extensively about the so-called 'stopping power' of handguns.  In a nutshell, handguns have lousy stopping power compared to a rifle or shotgun.  It's normal for multiple handgun rounds to be needed to subdue an opponent - and even that may not be enough to stop him killing you.  There are innumerable cases where a dozen or more hits did not disable an attacker.  Again, if I'd been in that officer's shoes, and I'd been armed only with a handgun, I'd have fired multiple times as well.

Unfortunately, people aren't going to consider the facts of the matter.  They're going to react out of emotion:  anger, loss, shock, and anything else you can think of.  The protestors at the scene chanting "Hands up!  Don't shoot!" were repeating a lie, the same lie that's at the root of everything Black Lives Matter does;  but they no longer care that it's factually a lie.  It's become a meme, a cultural assumption that transcends factual truth.  They won't be told, and they won't listen to it even if you tell them a thousand times.  Truth has become irrelevant.

So, two incidents.  In one, criminals arrogantly attacked police for daring to interfere in their wrongful activities.  In the second, police were forced to defend themselves from what they had to assume was an attack;  yet, having done so, they're being pilloried for "shooting an unarmed man".  More riots and demonstrations are likely to follow.

Police can't win for losing these days.  I wouldn't blame the next San Diego cop who's asked to respond to a 'man behaving erratically' call if he said, "Sorry - I ain't going there.  Tell those on the scene that they're on their own.  I'm not going to put my head on a politically correct chopping block for them any longer."  Trouble is, if more police do that - and many of them are doing that, implicitly if not explicitly - then all of us are going to suffer from the inevitable breakdown in law and order.  Those thugs that attacked the CHP police vehicle will grow bolder, and move into our neighborhoods . . . and the cops won't do a thing to stop them, because they know that if they do, they're going to be blamed.

Mr. Trump was right during Monday night's debate.  We need law and order.  It's a foundational requirement before we can fix our society.  Yes, I know that certain elements in our justice system are inherently and unashamedly racist, or high on a power/ego trip of "Respect mah authoritah!"  We've examined their conduct in these pages many times before, and we know they need to be slapped down.  That doesn't alter the fact that without law and order, our social structure itself is doomed.

So how do we get out of this handbasket?

Peter

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Doofus Of The Day #931


I thought of titling this post "How (not) to win friends and influence people", but that's already been taken.  Nevertheless, I think it's safe to say that one fumble-fingered federal agent has probably not made a friend.

Authorities say a federal agent accidentally shot a deputy’s leg at the sheriff’s station in Lemon Grove while unloading a handgun that was seized by a joint task force Monday.

. . .

The agent and other members of the unnamed task force recovered the .22 handgun while serving a search warrant in East County, Caldwell said.

The task force members returned to the sheriff’s station on Main Street to secure evidence about 5:30 p.m. While unloading the handgun, the agent accidentally discharged the gun, striking the deputy in the lower leg, Caldwell said.

The deputy was taken to a hospital and is expected to survive.

There's more at the link.

For the unnamed agent's benefit:  joint task forces are formed to act upon shared information . . . not ammunition!




Peter

Terrorism as taxation?


John Robb thinks so.

Liz Alderman at the NYTimes reported that terrorism is squashing Europe's first glimmer of recovery since the financial crash.  EU economic growth has been halved since spring, with France now at zero.  Here are some details:
  • Tourism is sinking.  For example:  "In France, growth in nightly hotel room bookings after the Paris attacks fell to single digits from 20 percent. After the Brussels bombings, bookings went negative, and after Nice, bookings fell by double digits."
  • Daily security costs are spiking.  Here's an example from a single venue, "the Paris Plage, a makeshift beach erected along the Seine, a dozen armed police officers guarded an entry checkpoint on a recent day. Army troops marched past families playing in the sand and half-empty activity points along the river. The patrols, cost taxpayers about 1 million euros, or $1.1 million, a day."
  • Broad spectrum economic damage.  For example:  retail sales are slumping due to low traffic in stores and large numbers of entertainment events are being cancelled.

Although Europe has suffered terrorism before, this time it's different.  Instead of big and relatively infrequent terrorist attacks, these new attacks are small, numerous and geographically dispersed.  This change is a big deal, because it makes it possible for terrorists to turn attacks into "a tax" that depresses economic activity by imposing new costs and changing economic behavior.

There's more at the link.  Interesting reading.

It's a two-edged sword, of course.  Terrorism hits things like tourism, retail shopping centers, and so on.  On the other hand, security expenditures increase, and even ordinary consumers will spend more on protecting themselves and their families (and, of course, their homes and possessions).  As evidence of that, witness the surge in firearms sales after every major terrorist attack or urban unrest (e.g. after the Pulse nightclub attack in Florida, the riots in Charlotte, etc.)  Also, people who might be afraid to vacation in major centers (which are more likely to be the focus of terrorists, due to their high public profile) may bring unexpectedly brisk business to less fashionable (but safer) areas that they otherwise might not have patronized.

Nevertheless, terrorism does drag down the areas where it occurs.  If attack follows attack, with no time for those areas to recover, it can have a very negative long-term effect.

Peter

First World job security in a Third World invasion


To reinforce the point I tried to make in my first post this morning ('This election is about the First versus the Third World'), here's a profound and sobering article by David Hunt.  He titles it 'The Omen of Lost Shirts'.  He examines the growing trend to bring in cheaper (and often less skilled) labor to replace expensive, highly-qualified First World workers, and what it means for the latter and the society in which they live.  Here's an excerpt.

I was struck some time ago by a picture of two Air France executives being set upon by protesters over layoffs.  The protestors assaulted them, ripped their shirts off and – possibly – intended even worse before they managed to escape and obtain police protection.  The specific details of the layoffs are only circumferentially related to my central point: executives of a company announcing layoffs were physically assaulted.

In a similar vein, consider one specific protest that happened during the height of the “Occupy” movement: protesters angry at Bank of America’s (BoA) foreclosures descended – not on the company’s facility as I would opine would be a legitimate location – but to the home of one executive.  Not content to trespass on the lawn, they stepped onto the porch itself, frightening the man’s son who was at home (bolding added):

But when hundreds of loud and angry strangers are descending on your family, your children, and your home, a more apt description of this assemblage would be "mob." Intimidation was the whole point of this exercise...

And lastly, consider two different levels of emotional display clearly evident in this video of a Carrier executive announcing the coming closing of both the Indianapolis production facility and the distribution center.  First, immediately relevant, is the very visible and barely-controlled fury at the announcement.

The second, the executive’s reptilian coldness in reading – and sticking to – a script (even if, inside, he felt uncomfortable about it), I’ll discuss a little later.

Just Short of Boiling

Unless you’re comatose you have heard that companies are replacing, wholesale it seems, American workers with H1-B visa holders. For example, Disney called their IT personnel into a meeting; many of these persons were top performers, having received excellent performance reviews with some winning top corporate honors.  They were informed that their jobs were being transferred to cheaper foreign workers, told that their severance pay relied on their staying to train those workers before they were shown the door… and then they were terminated.  Now they’re filing suit.

This is an epidemic. Abbott Pharmaceuticals just did it.  As have Harley Davidson and South California Edison.  Intel announced a 12,000-person layoff even as they lobby for more H1-B and L1 visas.  Taco Bell is shipping jobs overseas.  And it’s not just skilled labor: Tesla’s new factory seems to have used imported manual labor, saying they “expect their subcontractors to obey all laws...” – doubtless wink-wink.

A decade-old letter to the editor in the EE Times said “In my department, more than 20 Americans were ordered by corporate management to train our own replacements.” and added “I strongly suggest American students avoid the technology and engineering fields.”  And a similar training-your-foreign-replacement action at BoA arguably contributed to one employee committing suicide.  More broadly, being downsized in general increases the risk of suicide; one study reports losing one’s job increases it by 2.5 fold.

. . .

There’s even a book out about this wholesale replacement of American workers with cheaper immigrants:




And it’s not just cheaper labor; Shelly Palmer posted an antifreeze-level-cold LinkedIn post about how he replaced people with technology and commented (bolding added):

To the hundred or so people we’re about to get fired, I apologize. We make a living by analyzing problems for our clients and offering them solutions that create shareholder value. We’re just doing our job so you can lose yours. I’m pretty sure that one day (sooner rather than later) a machine-learning algorithm is going to replace most, or all, of my job too.

He apologizes. He apologizes.  As I asked in the comments, without immediate reply, how would his crocodile tears look had he learned Mr. Lee, whose job he eliminated, committed suicide from the loss of face and income?  I’m sure the fat wad of cash deposited in his bank account ameliorates his guilt; no doubt that his anticipated job loss will be after he’s gotten his lucre… he’s just following orders, er, doing his job.

Let Them Eat Pink Slips

So refer back to that Carrier executive’s announcement: it contained so little empathy for the fact that he’s announcing to these people the destruction of their lives, at least in the short term, as well as significant ripple effects in their community that it approached mathematical definition of zero.  It’s possible that he did, in fact, dislike the task which he had been assigned, but his hectoring of the workers to “be calm” and “be professional” and “keep up the output and quality” even as he says, in translation, “Your future has been utterly overturned” bespeaks a dearth of EQ – the hip-hop-happenin’ term these days.  Like Shelly Palmer, just above, I’d bet his bonus assuages any residual remorse he might have.

And while I can, on an intellectual basis, appreciate the economic arguments in favor of offshoring – like the one put forth by scholar Walter E. Williams, a man whose views I generally admire, here, – I will counter that the greatest global economic good does not necessarily equal the greatest American good.  Nor does it take into account other factors like national security concerns.

There's much more at the link.  Sobering, infuriating, worrying reading.

I'm not sure whether either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton fully grasp the size of this problem;  but I suspect the former does so in more realistic terms than the latter.  Of course, Mr. Trump may well have used the laws of the land to do precisely the same thing in his businesses;  one doesn't know.  However, as a businessman, I think he knows more about the subject than any professional politician. Can he effectively address the problem?  Only time will tell . . . and the decision of the electorate in November.

Peter

This election is about the First versus the Third World


I watched the first debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump last night, in the company of a few friends and fellow bloggers.  I wasn't wildly impressed by either candidate.  I'd score it a draw as far as its effect on the election is concerned.  I think most voters have already made up their minds by now.  Those that say they haven't won't find much in last night's debate to sway them, IMHO.

What did strike me was the contrast between the candidates' approaches to the rest of the world.  Donald Trump was emphatic about protecting American jobs and our national economy, if necessary by renegotiating international trade agreements, restricting immigration, etc.  Hillary Clinton was much more globalist in orientation, looking to admit more refugees, work together with other nations (whatever that means), and so on.  She basically saw the United States as just one nation among many, whereas Donald Trump saw it as the 'first among equals' with the right to put its own interests first.

I think that's the key to this election.  If you look at what's happening in Europe, with literally millions of refugees streaming into the continent from the Middle East and Africa, parts of it are rapidly taking on the character of the Third World from which they come - complete with Third World problems.  The ever-increasing sexual assaults on women?  That's the result of Third World attitudes, where women are possessions, first of their fathers, then of their husbands, and have little or no say in the way they're treated.  Third World men are treating First World women in the same way they treat their own women - and the First World is shocked and disgusted . . . but why?  Anyone with two brain cells to rub together would have understood that this was inevitable.  Merely admitting someone into First World borders doesn't wave a magic wand and transform their thinking and their attitudes.

In the same way, demands for benefits, welfare, etc. are stretching to the limit European social support structures and systems that were set up to deal primarily with the needs of local citizens.  No-one stopped to think that an influx of refugees would overwhelm them.  I'm not being racist when I observe that matters so simple as how to use a flush toilet are proving to be serious issues in certain nations and cities where Third World 'refugees' congregate.  These people have never had the opportunity to use such facilities before, and no-one in Europe could conceive of the need to teach adults how to use a modern toilet.  The result has been a sudden surge in broken, clogged and otherwise damaged sanitary facilities in the camps set up to house these people, and in the accommodation provided for them once they've made it through processing.  The European taxpayer is, of course, footing the bill for repairs.

This also ignores the fact that Europe is importing its own next generation of economic problems.  Unemployment among younger people in Europe is already extraordinarily high.  Spain reports a youth unemployment rate of 43.9% as of July this year.  Italy's at 39.2%, Greece is 47.7%, and France is 24.4%.  Germany, by contrast, has only 7.2% youth unemployment.  With nations already struggling to find jobs for their own younger people, how on earth are they going to offer employment to so many 'refugees'?  (Of course, they're mostly not 'refugees' at all.  They're economic migrants, using the fiction of being refugees to seek a better life elsewhere.  Unfortunately, they'll do so at the expense of the people of the countries they're overwhelming with their numbers.)

If Hillary Clinton becomes President, I think her policies - as expressed in her election materials, and during her comments last night - are almost guaranteed to bring more of the same problems to this country.  (They're already here, of course, in the millions of illegal aliens infesting our land;  but that problem is still manageable at present levels.  It won't be if the influx continues, and if the present infestation is not cut back drastically.)  Donald Trump, on the other hand, appears to be firmly against that, and wants to reserve American jobs for Americans.  I strongly support that perspective.  Sure, some immigration will be necessary.  I'm an immigrant myself, and I'm very grateful to this country for offering me the chance to make a fresh start and find a new home.  However, I brought with me skills that this country needed;  I entered legally;  and I've supported myself.  Illegal aliens don't do that.  Many come here with no skills at all.  They're a net drain on the economy, when you factor in health care and other support costs.  We can't afford that.  It's that simple.

The tide of economic migrants from the Third World to the First World is ever-increasing, because the populations of Third World countries have increased so drastically that they have no expectation of anything worthwhile if they stay there.  There will never be enough jobs, enough social support structures, enough housing, enough health care, to meet their needs:  so they're trying to move to a place that can offer them those things.  Unfortunately, by seeking to leech off the American or European taxpayer, they're imposing an impossible burden on us - one that's completely unsustainable.

That's what this election is all about.  If we allow Hillary Clinton's policies to prevail, the Third World will be all around us within a few years (it already is, in some parts of this country).  America will be dragged down - economically, socially, and in due course politically - to the level of most of South America.  If Donald Trump's policies prevail, the tide may yet be stemmed, and even, perhaps, reversed.  I'm not at all sure that Mr. Trump will make a good President;  but I am sure that in this area at least, the policies he's expressed are light years ahead of his opponent's.

Peter

Monday, September 26, 2016

This is my shocked face . . .


Zero Hedge did a useful analysis of Politifact - one of the so-called 'fact checkers' analyzing claims by candidates in the current election cycle - and how it rated people on the left and the right.  Turns out its ratings aren't exactly honest, and use different 'facts' depending on whose claims it was analyzing.  The author concluded:  "We rate Politifact's fact-checking Mostly Biased."

This is hardly surprising, of course.  Many 'fact checking' organizations are, in fact, run by extremely biased parent organizations, and have individuals working for them who aren't exactly neutral.  My only surprise is that people give them any credit at all.  I rather suspect that the mainstream media find it convenient to have their propaganda duly anointed by such organizations, to help them evade accusations of bias.  (Politifact is, in fact, run by the Tampa Bay Times.  In effect, it's journalists fact-checking journalists.  Conflict of interest, anyone?)

As Juvenal put it in the days of Ancient Rome:  Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

Peter

Ingenious advertising


It seems that Japanese rice farmers working beneath the flight path of F-15 fighters based at Komatsu decided to make the most of the noise.  They christened their hand-packed product 'Roaring Rice'.





Apparently the product proved very popular with military service personnel and their families, and sold out within 20 minutes.  Ingenious advertising indeed!

Peter

Is the American school system a waste of time?


Novelist Nicholson Baker has written a book, 'Substitute', about his experiences as a substitute teacher in schools in Maine.




The New York Post reports:

What follows is a minute-by-minute account — funny, sad and often tedious — of what life is really like in these classrooms. And if these schools are at all representative, American education really is as bad as everyone says ... After reading “Substitute”, it’s easier to understand how 10 percent of college graduates could think Judge Judy is on the Supreme Court.

Students go to homeroom first, which is good for little more than taking attendance. Each time students switch classes, it takes them several minutes to settle down again. Baker can’t help but note how much time teachers spend simply telling students to be quiet over and over. And what is being accomplished in all this? Baker talks to students who are 10 or 20 assignments behind. Teachers regularly threaten to contact their parents but rarely seem to follow through.

. . .

Some of the classes seem to be covering the things you might expect. The kids are still reading Jack London’s “To Build a Fire”; they are still working on Punnett squares and trying to figure out the order of operations in math. They are studying World War II and the periodic table. But each subject seems to get only the briefest attention before it’s time to move on to the next thing. Any time a teacher is actually getting to the meat of a subject, there is some trivial announcement from the PA system interrupting them. And then there is the constant inane banter from students: In response to a teacher’s reasonable explanation of North Korean oppression, a student yells “Gangnam Style!”

Perhaps the most significant difference between the classrooms that Baker describes and the ones that most adults remember is the presence of technology. And it’s clear that this has only made things worse.

. . .

The entire system seems designed to drive teachers insane and prevent students from learning. Kids are on their iPads doing things unrelated to their schoolwork — playing games, listening to music, using iPad cases to beat each other over the heads. Some are even looking at “inappropriate material” in the back of the classroom. And unless a teacher is standing over them, they won’t be able to tell who is actually doing the work and who is playing games. Teachers ask for the definition of words and students just look them up online and repeat them verbatim.

. . .

Substitute” is more than an argument for shortening the school day or chucking out iPads. It’s an argument for a traditional core curriculum — the kind of education in which students are taught how each subject relates to the others and why all are important to them as citizens and human beings. Without this, American education is doomed to mediocrity.

There's more at the link.  Highly recommended (albeit depressing) reading for anyone with kids or grandkids doomed to suffer through the American school system.

It's no wonder kids grow up into, first teenagers, then young adults, who think they're 'special snowflakes' and deserve to have everything handed to them on a plate.  They're not being educated at all, either in terms of a meaningful school curriculum, or in terms of life skills that they're going to need very badly before too long.  Homeschooling begins to sound like the only rational, sane way to prepare children for the real world.

Peter

Heh


Courtesy of Chief Nose Wetter:







Peter

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Doofus Of The Day #930


A tip o' the hat to several readers who sent me the link to this video.

This welder had clearly never heard of dynamic tension - at least, not in a steel pipe.  Note (early in the video) the excavator bucket holding down one side of the pipe he's cutting.  As he's about to find out . . . there's a reason for that.





Sproinnnng!

Peter

This would make an epic April Fool joke


I had to laugh to read of a New York "artist" and his latest spoof project.

It’s the city’s secret tragedy: the giant-octopus attack on the Cornelius G. Kolff, a Staten Island Ferry boat dragged to a ­watery grave with 400 souls aboard on Nov. 22, 1963.

Few recall the harbor horror because news coverage was eclipsed by the shocking assassination of John F. Kennedy in Dallas that very day.

Also because it never actually happened.

But truth is no obstacle to artist Joe Reginella, the hoaxster whose slick brochures, Web site and even a statue are luring hapless tourists to a far corner of Staten Island in search of a museum devoted to the fantastical fish tale.

. . .

Said Australian tourist Tamara Messina: “The brochure sounded very intriguing,” adding that her three young sons “seemed a bit more concerned that it may happen again” as the family rode the ferry.

The Web site for the “museum” includes an authentic-looking Wikipedia entry, mocked-up newspaper articles, a video “documentary” — and an online shop hawking $25 “Octopus Memorial T-shirts.”

The T-shirts are the only thing that’s actually real.

. . .

Reginella, the mastermind behind the hoax, told The Post the prank took six months to plan and that it’s “part practical joke, part multimedia art project, part social experiment.”

He carts his “memorial” statue depicting the tragic event in cast bronze to Battery Park and other public locations and watches the startled reactions of passers-by.  (Click the image for a larger view.)



There's more at the link, including more photographs, the brochure, etc.

That's sheer comic and artistic genius!  Well done, Mr. Reginella.

(He's even set up a Web site for his project, where you can buy an octopus memorial T-shirt.  I'm darned if I don't buy one, just to say "Thank you" for the entertainment.  No, I'm not being compensated in any way for mentioning it.  I'm just highly amused!)




Peter

A populist president in the Philippines - echoes of Trump?


Austin Bay has some interesting thoughts on newly-elected President Duterte of the Philippines.  Here's an excerpt.

Filipino voters knew about what happened during the two decades Duterte ran Davao City. Crime rates and Islamic terrorist activity declined considerably. By 2005 Islamic terrorists and other criminals usually avoided the place. Now Duterte is applying his aggressive approach to fighting crime on a nation-wide scale. Since July 1st the few active Islamic terror groups left and the many drug gangs are taking heavy losses and looking for ways to deal with this unprecedented threat. Abu Sayyaf and other ISIL (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant) type Islamic terrorists always fight back (and lose) but the drug gangs and are expected to be more flexible. In Davao City such compromises seem to have been avoided and threats of increased violence against government leaders was also ineffective. But now there are a lot more enemies a reformer has to deal with.

Duterte has been dealing with assassination threats and other intimidation since the 1990s and apparently knows how to protect himself and his family. As president Duterte’s aggressive anti-crime approach has had immediate results for most Filipinos. Crime is down and it’s the criminals, not the average Filipino, who are now living in fear. That is enormously popular with most voters. Some local and many foreign critics consider these vigilante methods illegal, immoral and ineffective. That remains to be proven. In the meantime these methods have, since July 1st, left over 3,500 known or suspected drug gang members and addicts dead. Most were low level dealers but these are criminals the people see daily and hate the most. As a result a recent opinion poll found 91 percent of Filipinos approved of this new “shoot on sight” approach.

While Duterte encourages Filipinos to personally fight back against crime and corruption, this is also an enormous police operation. Since July 1st over a million homes and workplaces have been visited by police investigating crime. This has resulted in the surrender or capture of over 715,000 drug suspects. But 93 percent of these were drug users and the rest were either distributors (“pushers”) or low level supervisors of distribution. Duterte had said he could arrest nearly two million drug suspects by the end of the year and use information collected from interrogations and searches of so many suspects to identify and prosecute the people running the drug gangs and the corrupt police and politicians who traditionally protected the drug operations. That process has already begun and so far there have been nearly 19,000 police raids resulting in the apprehension of about 19,000 suspects (6 percent being killed in the process). Among the dead were at least 17 corrupt cops working for the drug gangs, sometimes quite openly. Several dozen more senior police and political officials have admitted to drug gang-related corruption and surrendered.

. . .

Duterte is responding to the widespread feeling that some kind of radical solution is needed. Duterte apparently realizes that he has a short period of time to make some fundamental changes before public enthusiasm wanes and his powerful opponents (major drug gangs and corrupt senior politicians and bureaucrats) get organized. What worked in Davao City may not work on a national scale and that won’t be obvious until late 2017.

There's more at the link.

I can't help thinking that President Duterte's approach seems to have more than a little in common with Donald Trump's election campaign in the USA.  Mr. Trump is making the same populist appeal to American voters, and it seems to be having an effect.  From calling for not just an end to, but a reversal of the influx of illegal aliens, to emphasizing law and order, to cutting out bloated, inefficient government departments, Mr. Trump is appealing to a great many voters.  They can see for themselves the problems he's identified, and they know the present system is doing little or nothing to fix them.

I doubt whether Mr. Trump would issue a "Get them all!" call for vigilante justice and violence against criminals, as President Duterte has done.  Nevertheless, after many years in the Third World, I can understand the visceral appeal of such tactics.  Sure, a lot of innocent people get hurt when they're applied;  but the problems also get addressed, and frequently reduced to a level of minor background noise rather than a foreground clamor.  A lot of people are willing to tolerate infringements on their own privacy and security in order to accomplish that.

That, of course, is the frightening thing for those of us who take the constitution seriously.  We place a great deal of emphasis on the Bill of Rights.  In order for populist approaches to succeed, at least some of those rights will inevitably be honored more in the breach than in the observance.  Mr. Trump's recent call for increased New York City-style 'stop-and-frisk' tactics are a good example of that.  So much for the Fourth Amendment!  Nevertheless, popular support for efforts to reduce crime may well support such measures;  and the Peelian Principles of law enforcement may go out of the window in the process.  It's going to be a conundrum for many of us.

I think events in the Philippines will bear watching . . . as they will in this country as well.

Peter