Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Another anniversary

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Red Lines and Morality

As I write this post, the situation in Syria is in the news.

If you read this a few days after it was written, there may be a U.S. involvement in that civil war by then. I hope not.

Since an attack hasn't happened yet, as of today, I have the luxury of sitting back and analyzing why the U.S. should or should not get involved. In my view, there are better reasons not to get involved than to go ahead and get involved. Here are the points that are running through my mind right now:

1. The Obama administration (and others) believe there was a chemical weapons attack on the rebel forces in Syria. They believe this attack was done by the Syrian government forces.

2.  The Obama administration (and others) seem to believe that this chemical attack requires a response by the U.S. military.


Apparently Obama feels outraged that some sort of moral line has been crossed. Hundreds of dead children were wrapped up and placed in long lines in a warehouse for the cameras. As Bush the elder might have said, "This will not stand." Ok. And I'm thinking that if hundreds of dead children had been killed instead by machine gun fire, and wrapped in white linen and placed in long lines in a warehouse for the TV cameras, then a moral line would not have been crossed? - a moral line that hadn't been crossed by the killing of 100,000 people before the gas attack? And I'm thinking, Obama cares for these children. His heart breaks. He must put a stop to it. Well then, why the hell doesn't this child-mourning morally outraged man stop the killing of thousands of AMERICAN babies every year? Is it ok to hold Syrian tyrants accountable with military action, but not ok to hold teenagers accountable for not getting pregnant?

I know, I know - I am the only one who thinks these kinds of crazy thoughts.

Obama feels that chemical weapons are a step too far, and some action must be taken to let the tyrants know we won't stand for the killing of people in THIS way. Do you think Obama's limited missile-only three or four day "lesson" (guaranteed not to kill any people, btw) is going to make these dictators quake in their boots, learn their lesson to never try that chemical crap again? Do you? I'm thinking Assad and his boys are not exactly fouling their trousers at the thought.

And I'm also thinking, do we have any of those "bunker buster" bombs left over from Iraq and Afghanistan? Because, if we do, maybe we could use them to set Iran's nuclear weapons program back a couple of decades. I think I could get behind something like that because I can clearly see a benefit to America by doing so. A few melons on the mullahs, eh? Then watch the "Syrian situation" quickly take care of itself. A miracle.

Tell me what the benefit to America will be by wasting some very expensive missiles on Assad? Such a little tantrum will change nothing. And don't say it is the moral thing to do because a line has been crossed and, by god, we just can't let 'em cross them red lines. Because American society has been so corrupted over the years that it finds NOTHING immoral anymore. It is outrageous to hear the war-boy politicians crying MORALITY! MORALITY! while they go about their daily business of taking bribes and screwing the American public.

Two-faced septic-tank bottom feeders.

Give me the Pharisees any day.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

"Founding Father" observation

"Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become more corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters."

—Benjamin Franklin

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Are you smarter than an eighth grader?

There is a TV show (or at least there used to be one) called, "Are you smarter than a 5th grader?" I watched it a few times. I did pretty well - better than a lot of the contestants who had to get help from the kids, but not as well as some of the kids.

We make a lot of jokes today, sad jokes, about high school graduates often not even knowing how to read or write. Some of that is probably true, although not as bad as the British pundits running edited film clips depicting Americans in general as morons would have you believe. I hope.

Anyway, I ran across (online) an old graduation test (eighth grade) from a Kentucky school district from a hundred years ago, in 1912. Remember that back then it wasn't the norm to finish high school, and an eighth grade education was deemed adequate for many, even less for the farm boys. One would imagine that such a test for eighth graders would be a breeze for us modern folk to pass today. I thought I could. I quickly realized I couldn't. Not off the top of my head without further study.

The first thing I noticed about the test was that there were no multiple-guess questions; the kids had to write out their answers on many of them, and prove they could read by doing it in public. Writing too.  There were several sections to the test, and it must have taken quite some time to complete. I assume the kids were timed. The sections were:

Civil Government

I thought I could do most of this stuff pretty easily, but it wasn't as easy as I thought it would be. I don't think I would have passed. Back to eighth grade for me. Want to try a few questions? There's a lot of questions so I don't expect you to wade through it all. Also, some of this stuff is obsolete information today. I didn't understand the questions on some of them.

The reading and writing were given by teachers and judged by proctors. Can't do any of that here, but here are the words they had to spell:

(Click to enlarge if needed)

I liked the Arithmetic section because I like to analyze things. When I was still in school, I could often arrive at the right answer eventually, even if I couldn't remember the actual formula. I was very inventive. :)

Give some of the below arithmetic questions a shot.

Grammar I passed on. Some of the Geography questions were challenging though:

Anyway, I would like to see this test given to high school 10th graders today, and without multiple choice options.

If you would like to peruse the other sections, the entire test can be viewed here, and the answers can be found here.

School's out.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Waiting to check out in the ever-longer lines at Walmart today, I perused the headlines of the tabloid rack and amongst the mostly Trayvon shills saw a full page picture of a sad and bloated OJ Simpson under a headline that said he had only two months to live. Maybe it was 2 minutes. Anyway, they said he weighed 300 pounds and was dying of some mysterious disease. Well, if he's gained a hundred pounds, I'm guessing the mysterious disease is diabetes. I also had a passing wonderment how one can gain 100 pounds in prison. Is the chow really that good?

Walmart is experimenting to find out just how long their customers will wait in line before they just walk out. They are down to about 4 checkers per 1000 customers now. I'm guessing people would wait long enough for them to go down to 3 checkers, at least. Most customers are unemployed and on food stamps anyway, so nowhere to go. I wonder if it occurs to any of the unemployed to put in a job application at Walmart on their computer thingy by the front door next to the pizzas? Obviously help is needed. And at Walmart, employment comes with the perk that you don't have to actually work.


Thursday, July 18, 2013

Unless you don't agree with the verdict

Be peaceful, be courteous, obey the law, respect everyone; but if someone puts his hand on you, send him to the cemetery.
Malcolm X 

I don't even call it violence when it's in self defense; I call it intelligence.
Malcolm X 

Monday, June 3, 2013

Mo' Rights

Rights, needs, desires.

I don't think I am much of an original thinker, unprompted. I've noticed that sad fact about myself more and more lately. Mostly, I have to read or listen to what someone else thinks or says about a subject, then ponder and analyze what the writer or speaker has opined before I can even begin to wax pithy. Pithily. Even then it takes me considerable time to get wound up enough to approach a decent level of sarcasm - born of superior subject knowledge - let alone genuine righteous indignation. I suppose that makes me a counter-puncher (boxing metaphor, not one who punches counters.) However, once hit by a blow of, say, fuzzy feel-good ultra-liberalism or fantasyland conservative non-thought (metaphorically a "left" hook or a "right" cross, if you will) then, usually, I can begin to argue back. In an argument I can often come up with original ideas; in analysis I can see the flaws - just not in an unstimulated (uninflamed?) ungoaded condition, like when I am staring at a blank sheet of paper and feeling mildly indignant in a general but unfocused way. This is not to say I have writer's block - lord knows I can write page after page of illogical and heavily biased gibberish at the drop of a hat - but I need to have my values and life experiences challenged in order to write with passion.

Incidentally, "unstimulated," "uninflamed" and "ungoaded" all have red lines under them. What kind of idiot twats do they hire to author these misbegotten spellcheckers? Teenaged future unemployable summer interns trying to work off a few dollars of their hopeless student loans, useless English-majors all, working in a gaga library-science environment in which they will never see actual employment? I suppose the British version will at least leave "twats" unredlined. (Guess whether or not "unredlined" is redlined.) Ah, well.

Rights, needs, desires.

A need is something essential that you have had since birth. Even at birth, someone provided you these needs, else you would be dead now instead of reading this. Needs are not rights. Needs are what the U.N. High Commissioner on Human Rights CALLS rights.

A desire? That's something you want to have. Like an American teenager without the latest video game or vulgar rap cassette. Like a Darfurian child who desires to live in Beverly Hills. Desires are things you want that I don't care about. Nobody else does either, except maybe your mommy if today is your birthday and you are 7 years old. Only YOU care about your desires. A plan and hard work are needed in order for you to realize your desires. Hence, few will be realized.

A right is an entitlement which is guaranteed to you by an entity which has the power to give and defend that thing for you. Often, humans do not have a "right" to shelter and clean drinking water.

If only you had the time (and a desire) to read more, I had so much more to say about this subject.

Photo credit:
Coffee With Jesus

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Rights and Misconceptions

"You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to talk with a lawyer..."

Or a reasonable variation thereof.

Is there anyone now living in the U.S. who doesn't know what their constitutional rights are if arrested? It would be hard to believe, since the "Miranda Ruling" was handed down back in 1966, which means the majority of Americans have heard it on TV and elsewhere ten thousand times since they were born. And yet it is still mandatory to be given to all arrestees by the police here. I'm guessing it probably isn't necessary, in point of actual "need" anymore - though still necessary from a legal standpoint.

In 1963, an emotionally disturbed young man confessed to police that he had committed an armed robbery and a rape. He did so after hours of police questioning. In 1966, he was set free even though he did the crimes. This was because he honestly didn't know what his constitutional rights were. On appeal, the Supremes ruled that the police have an obligation to ensure the suspect DOES understand that he has certain rights under the U.S. Constitution. The rest is history.

The point I want to make here is that a person accused of a crime in the U.S. has the 5th Amendment right not to self-incriminate, and the 6th Amendment right to defense counsel. Since at least 1787, Americans or other people arrested within the U.S. have had these rights. It's hard to find someone who isn't aware of that today, but in 1963, people hadn't heard it on TV on cop shows over and over again. Ernesto Miranda was one of those constitutionally challenged individuals who had apparently slept through the Bill of Rights lesson in 8th grade. In a landmark court decision, he went free.

As I write this, another young man, gravely wounded, lies in a Boston hospital, assumed to be a terrorist. He has not been "miranda-ized." He will be questioned without having his rights read to him, under some sort of exception the president can apparently approve if it is in the national interest. As I write this, the ACLU is threatening to sue to get the authorities to read him his rights, and the Massachusetts public defender's office is offering to defend him, even though President Obama has authorized the Miranda exception.

Excuse me, but I find this whole debate laughable. Why?

Just because you don't read someone his rights doesn't mean he doesn't still HAVE those rights. His rights to silence and an attorney derive from the U.S. constitution, not from the reading of a summary from a piece of paper. In other words, if he doesn't want to talk, he doesn't have to, and if he asks for an attorney, one must be provided to him - else the police are themselves breaking the law -- the highest law of our land.

Somehow or other, all these TV experts, including high-level FBI people, and even the Justice Department on up to president Obama, are deluding themselves into thinking if they don't read the young man his rights, and if it is legal not to read him his rights, then, by gosh, he's GOT to talk and he doesn't get to have an attorney. Balderdash.

What are they going to do if he doesn't talk? Beat him? No. They're going to interview him for three days straight, using repetition and psychological abuse, with no sleep. But they would have done that anyway, had they read him his rights. If he doesn't talk, you can still keep questioning him, with or without Miranda. It's just that, normally, without Miranda, you're wasting your time because any confession will be thrown out at trial. They're going to get into trouble, though, if they don't produce an attorney for him if he knows his rights and asks for one.

Are we living in a strange, misinformed, deluded world, or what? "Don't read him his rights. That way he'll HAVE to talk." Oh, really?


Of course, if he DOES talk, then his confession can't be thrown out just because he wasn't Miranda-ized. There's that. But the whole purpose of Miranda, or one of the main purposes, is so confessions can't be coerced through abuse or sleeplessness.

They have enough evidence in this case, probably, so that a confession isn't necessary to convict. It is obvious they are not after a confession but want to gain knowledge of a possible larger terrorist organization, as well as more details about the Boston bombing. But what good is it if you coerce the information? How reliable? It's the same thing they are, or were, doing in Guantanamo. I'm a pretty conservative (I mean "traditional") guy, but this is not making sense to me. Maybe by the time this is published, we'll all have the answers.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

The invasion of Japan. Two versions.

With the surrender of Nazi Germany in May, 1945, the Allies turned their full attention to the Pacific theater. The U.S. began transferring troops from Europe.

The war in the Pacific, for the U.S., had been going on since the Japanese had attacked Pearl Harbor in late 1941, and longer than that for the British and French. Many great sea battles had been fought.  Many losses had been endured by the Allied forces. The struggle had been painstakingly slow, fighting from island to island.

In the spring of 1945, the home islands of Japan herself remained to be taken to end the war. The invasion of Japan was planned for the spring of 1946. The planning of "Operation Downfall" (the actual invasion of the home islands of Japan) had been going on for some time. The early casualty estimates for the invasion were set at 130,000 to 220,000, of which the American death total was expected to be 25,000 to 46,000. However, after the battle for Okinawa, the U.S. realized the Japanese intended to fight to the death for the home islands, and the casualty figures were revised drastically.

2.3 million Japanese Soldiers were being set in place to defend the Japanese homeland. There were another 4 million Army and Navy employees which would be militarized. Finally, there were 28 million Japanese civilian militia, both men and women, who were preparing to die for their country. No surrender was contemplated.

The new casualty estimates for the invasion jumped to a more realistic 1.4 million to 4 million for the Allied invaders, up to 800,000 dead. As many as 20,000,000 Japanese casualties were predicted by the Imperial Japanese General staff, due to the entire population intending to fight to the death for their emperor. The allies put Japanese casualties at 5 to 10 million. Nobody really knew, of course. It was scary. Preposterous unfathomable numbers.

July 16, 1945, 0500.

Scientists and military men huddled in bunkers 10 miles distant from a metal tower with an odd-looking device, referred to only as "the gadget,"  hanging at the top of the tower.

0500:29: The New Mexico desert suddenly becomes as bright as noonday. Every rock and crevice of the nearby mountains is clearly visible. Even inside the distant bunkers, the heat is like an oven.

The military code name for the test of the device was "Trinity."

Dr. Robert Oppenheimer is one of the scientists in the bunker. As the odd mushroom cloud climbs higher and higher, a line from the Bhagavad Gita, a Hindu scripture, runs through his mind.

"Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds."

And so it came to pass that millions and millions of Japanese lives were spared; there was to be no invasion of the Japanese homeland by a slow and horrendous ground war. The Allied estimate of their own invasion casualties was revised downward from 4 million to zero.

In the end, out of great horror and still unspeakable death, came, for millions and millions, mercy of a sort.

But the genie is still out of the bottle.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

After the tornadoes: Good Morning! Two takes.

Take one, the original, I think:

Take two, not the original. (But I like Miss Li's enthusiasm):

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Tornadoes: happenstance atmospheric confluences, or God punching you in the gut?

Everything is a subject for analysis for me.

Obama's inaugural speech Monday will be analyzed by me. Monday is also Martin Luther King's holiday in the U.S., and his methods have already been analyzed in other posts. I can watch the news on TV and fall into deep analysis. Anything. Practically.

It is hard for me to even read or surf the web or do research for writing without getting sidetracked into a fit of analysis of the few paragraphs I've just read, usually written by some politician or other dolt who thinks freedom of speech means you are obligated to give your asinine wrong opinion on various subjects. I am no exception, I suppose. (In the final analysis.) I seek truth, or at least I think that is my purpose, and that requires a lot of analysis and debate, as well as scorn from other people. Like the OC patient in "As Good as it Gets," one of my main assets is my willingness to be humiliated. Either way, I get at the truth.

Do you find yourself compulsively analyzing as you read, as I do? Ah, the burdens of being gifted, eh?

When I was very young, we were visited by a tornado in our little town. I can remember being taken down to the basement by my mother. My older brother balked but obeyed, his frightened bug-eyed friend came down willingly. I remember standing in the coal bin in the basement looking up through the tiny window at ground level as the elements wreaked their havoc. Soon, my brother lost his false bravado and the friend just stood there, dumbfounded at the creaking of the house above. My mother prayed. My mother always prayed in times of danger, and, when the danger passed, always gave proper credit to God for protecting us from whatever the danger was. The storm lasted what seemed like a long time to a seven year old boy, the torrents of rain blasting against the little window and other loud unidentifiable eerie sounds accompanying my mother's supplications. I can remember just staring up (everything is "up" to a little boy) and just staring at the electrical fuse box on the wall next to the window. I don't remember being afraid. After all, my mom had an "in" with God.

Eventually the storm passed and we went up and out. Amazing to me was the carnage of huge trees lying across the road and telephone lines lying on the ground. I don't remember too much in detail, just bits and pieces. Our house was safe and sound, of course; I had assumed we would be spared. I remember the National Guard and army trucks and their chainsaws and sharp axes and them telling me to get the hell out of the way, but only snippets here and there, like an imperfect movie running in my brain today.

I had an urge to Google the old tornado the other day, to refresh my imperfect childhood memory and see if there were any online pictures of it, and - as always seems to be the case with Google - one thing quickly led to another. It seems our tornado had come a week or two after a much more famous tornado which had struck a larger city about 40 miles away. Soon I forgot about the one I had personally experienced and was in awe at the damage of the bigger one. It seems it was the largest tornado, death-wise, that had ever happened in the U.S., and the record stood until the Joplin, Missouri tornado a couple years ago. That was very interesting Googling for me, especially the old black and white pictures of cars stacked on top of one another and fields full of debris and old newspaper stories of the tragedy and of heroism in the face of danger.

Of course, the next thing I had to do was Google the Joplin tornado. These pictures were in color, of course. They were mostly the same as the old black and white pictures of the earlier tornado, though: debris, death, devastation, pictures of people glumly surveying what used to be their houses. I zeroed in on a picture of a father carrying his daughter down the street in a Joplin neighborhood, past piles of broken lumber and past ruined cars and past (I note all details) two rather befuddled dogs sniffing the piles of debris. I let the actual website load in order to find out what the story of the picture was. The theme of the blog post was not really about the picture, but about "Why does God allow such pain and suffering to happen?" Or some such-like heading. The blog was of some sort of church "ministry" or the like, and they offered a list of reasons why God allowed this stuff to happen..

Analysis by moi ensued.

In my analysis of articles like these, I always am struck by the assumptions made and accepted without proof. The very headline of the post ASSUMED the tornado was a deliberate act of God, to teach his people some lesson or other. Really?

Here are a few reasons the post put forth to it's confused and indignant readership. I paraphrase.

1. God didn't want things like this to happen, but Adam and Eve sinned and rebelled against God in the name of all of us humans. Serves us right. Our own fault that things like this happen.

2. God is testing us. God needs to know that Christians really trust him. Things like tornadoes force us to rely on God.

3. God is punishing us for not giving him credit for the times he protects us.

4. Satan is at work against us. God is forced to shrug and let it happen because we rebelled and chose the way of Satan.

5. It's a mystery. It is all part of God's master plan, and often He does not share these reasons with us. Sometimes we just can't know the reasons these things happen. We must trust that it is all for the best.

I do like to analyze. I seldom take things at face value, especially on the word of "authorities." On the other hand, I am not here to try to tell other people what to believe when it comes to their religion. I'm pretty much aware of how most of the readers of this blog stand on the subject of religion and God, and whether or not you believe in the Jewish/Christian God is not really the issue here, since a belief in a God is not required in order to debate the nature of what such an entity would be. This  post is not even about religion, but rather a post about analysis. It's just that religion, like political beliefs, makes for great debate, even if no one "wins."

I am only now getting to the actual analysis, that which you can debate or give your personal views on, but, as is often the case, I have already overstayed my welcome, length-wise. We may engage in a later post.

Stimulation may ensue.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

I think we've been through this before...

"No, you can't secede."

(NEWSER) – White House to Texas: You're staying in America. The Obama administration has officially rejected a petition signed by more than 125,000 people demanding that the Lone Star State be allowed to leave the union, the Houston Chronicle reports. Similar petitions from Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee, all started within a few days of President Obama's re-election, were also nixed. The White House said the Founding Fathers who created the US "did not provide a right to walk away from it."

"In a nation of 300 million people—each with their own set of deeply-held beliefs—democracy can be noisy and controversial. And that's a good thing," wrote the director of the Office of Public Engagement. "Free and open debate is what makes this country work, and many people around the world risk their lives every day for the liberties we often take for granted." The Obama administration received secession petitions from all 50 states, but only responded to the ones that gained more than 25,000 signatures.

Show me in the Constitution where it says they have to stay after they are admitted into the Union.

But might makes right, as we saw back in 1861.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

I stand corrected about violent movies being ok

I bow to Arnold.

You may be sure there is no bias in the below news story.

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Arnold Schwarzenegger may be one of the world's biggest action stars but the former governor of California says violence in films is entertainment and should not be linked to tragic events like the Connecticut school shooting in which 20 children died.

The star of films such as "The Terminator," "Predator" and "True Lies" told a press conference before the opening of his new movie, "The Last Stand," on January 18th that "one has to keep (the two) separate."
"(This is) entertainment and the other thing is a tragedy beyond belief. It's really serious and it's the real deal," Schwarzenegger, 65, told reporters.
The actor, who will star in his first leading role in the film since serving as California governor for seven years, said the tragedy in which a gunman killed 20 children and six staff at the Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, is about more than just guns.
"We have to analyze how we deal with mental illness, how we deal with gun laws, how we deal with parenting," he said.
In "The Last Stand," Schwarzenegger plays a retired Los Angeles policeman who becomes a border town sheriff who must stop a violent drug lord from crossing the border.
The film, with its violent scenes, is the type of movie that National Rifle Association chief Wayne LaPierre recently cited as a contributing factor to the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.
But Schwarzenegger said that gun laws and mental health guidance need reform, not Hollywood.
"How can we do better with gun laws?" asked Schwarzenegger. "If there are any loopholes, if there's a problem, let's analyze it ... Are we really dealing with the mental problems the right way as a society?"
In terms of parenting, the former politician alluded to the Connecticut killer Adam Lanza's mother, Nancy, who was also shot and killed by her own son on that tragic day.
"Does a mother need to collect guns and take her little kids shooting?" he asked.
"Everything has to be analyzed; no stone unturned," he added. "I think that's what we owe to our people." 

Friday, January 4, 2013

A burning

(NEWSER) - A Connecticut town is getting ready to burn violent video games to protest their "desensitizing" influence on children, the GUARDIAN reports. A group based in Southington, which sits a half-hour from Newtown, is calling on locals to donate their games, DVDs and CDs in exchange for gift certificates "as a token of appreciation for their action of responsible citizenship," the group says. "Violent games turned in will be destroyed" - burned by town workers, according to tech site POLYGON - "and placed in the town dumpster for appropriate permanent disposal."

The town dumpster? How little is this place, anyway?

The group doesn't blame violent video games for the shooting on Dec. 14, it says, but believes such media have "contributed to increasing aggressiveness, fear, anxiety and is desensitizing our children to acts of violence including bullying."

My thoughts? A desperate desire to do SOMETHING, even if it is only a knee-jerk symbolic gesture which will accomplish nothing. It also smacks of book-burning, which I don't encourage. No, what I want to see (my personal opinion only) is for the states to regulate video games sold within their borders. Unfortunately that means interstate commerce regulation, a province of the federal government, and perhaps that is what we need to see happen in this country. More than the federal government is doing now. Horrors. Did I just write that?

Is regulation of free speech a lesser evil than mass shootings?

These things are already regulated and come with age ratings on them. What am I missing? Ah. Enforcement of the law. Such is the failing of any good-intentioned law.


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