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August 29, 2014

It's Friday!

It's Friday.png

And enjoy my new favorite song:

Have a happy and safe Labor Day weekend, y'all. I will, as I'll be on the lake celebrating a friend's birthday.

Posted by DL Sly at 05:56 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Reality Bites Back

A little dose of reality for the Reality-Based Community:

In 1950, female-headed households were 18 percent of the black population. Today it's close to 70 percent. One study of 19th-century slave families found that in up to three-fourths of the families, all the children lived with the biological mother and father. In 1925 New York City, 85 percent of black households were two-parent households. Herbert Gutman, author of "The Black Family in Slavery and Freedom, 1750-1925," reports, "Five in six children under the age of six lived with both parents." Also, both during slavery and as late as 1920, a teenage girl raising a child without a man present was rare among blacks.

A study of 1880 family structure in Philadelphia found that three-quarters of black families were nuclear families (composed of two parents and children). What is significant, given today's arguments that slavery and discrimination decimated the black family structure, is the fact that years ago, there were only slight differences in family structure among racial groups.

Coupled with the dramatic breakdown in the black family structure has been an astonishing growth in the rate of illegitimacy. The black illegitimacy rate in 1940 was about 14 percent; black illegitimacy today is over 70 percent, and in some cities, it is over 80 percent.

The point of bringing up these historical facts is to ask this question, with a bit of sarcasm: Is the reason the black family was far healthier in the late 1800s and 1900s that back then there was far less racial discrimination and there were greater opportunities? Or did what experts call the "legacy of slavery" wait several generations to victimize today's blacks?

The Census Bureau pegs the poverty rate among blacks at 28.1 percent. A statistic that one never hears about is that the poverty rate among intact married black families has been in the single digits for more than two decades, currently at 8.4 percent. Weak family structures not only spell poverty and dependency but also contribute to the social pathology seen in many black communities -- for example, violence and predatory sex. Each year, roughly 7,000 blacks are murdered. Ninety-four percent of the time, the murderer is another black person. Though blacks are 13 percent of the nation's population, they account for more than 50 percent of homicide victims. Nationally, the black homicide victimization rate is six times that of whites, and in some cities, it's 22 times that of whites. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, between 1976 and 2011, there were 279,384 black murder victims. Coupled with being most of the nation's homicide victims, blacks are also major victims of violent personal crimes, such as assault, rape and robbery.

To put this violence in perspective, black fatalities during the Korean War (3,075), Vietnam War (7,243) and all wars since 1980 (about 8,200) come to about 18,500, a number that pales in comparison with black loss of life at home. Young black males had a greater chance of reaching maturity on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan than on the streets of Philadelphia, Chicago, Detroit, Oakland, Newark and other cities.

The black academic achievement gap is a disaster. Often, black 12th-graders can read, write and deal with scientific and math problems at only the level of white sixth-graders. This doesn't bode well for success in college or passing civil service exams.

If it is assumed that problems that have a devastating impact on black well-being are a result of racial discrimination and a "legacy of slavery" when they are not, resources spent pursuing a civil rights strategy will yield disappointing results.

These statistics are (or should be) deeply shocking.

Life is often hard. People get sick or have accidents, lose their jobs, struggle with alcohol or even drug abuse. Strong families provide a natural safety net in the form of multiple adults who can help earn a living, watch small children, care for ailing parents or relatives, provide advice or moral support during lean times.

What ails so many poor black families is precisely the same problem that causes so many single parent female homes to experience intractable poverty: single adults trying to do it all (care for children, earn a living, run a home) with no help from other adults.

It should be a no brainer that a home with two or more wage earners will (on average) be more prosperous than a household with only one. The economic benefits of sharing large expenses like rent, food, and utilities should be apparent to anyone with even a few functioning brain cells.

Strong families used to be this country's social safety net. Now, more and more young people aren't bothering to invest the time, work, and emotional capital necessary to form lifetime partnerships. Instead of looking honestly at the obvious differences between stable, secure households and vulnerable and dysfunctional ones, we hear a lot of blather about dealing with sexism and racism.

Sexism and racism don't cause men to father children they're not willing to support. They don't cause women to have children they can't afford. And it's not blaming the victim to point out that choices have consequences.

There is no credible argument to be made that racism or sexism are worse than they were in the 19th or early 20th centuries. The Editorial Staff have observed before that the prices of market goods act as signals, conveying important information to both buyers and sellers about the relative scarcity of various resources.

When government artificially tries to control prices rather than allowing them to adjust naturally to reflect the real world costs of production, that flow of information is distorted. The signaling mechanism is distorted in ways that cause unintended consequences:

Whether government officials who have demonstrated a stunning ignorance of basic economic principles should be formulating economic policy is a question no one seems to be asking. But then again, understanding that prices, supply and demand are interrelated is so fundamental a concept that anyone with common sense ought to be able to grasp it:

When there is a "shortage" of a product, there is not necessarily any less of it, either absolutely or relative to the number of consumers. During and immediately after the Second World War, for example, there was a very serious housing shortage in the United States, even though the population and the housing supply had both increased about 10 percent from their prewar levels and there was no shortage when the war began.

In other words, even though the ratio between housing and people had not changed, nevertheless many Americans looking for an apartment during this period had to spend weeks or months in an often vain search for a place to live, or else resorted to bribes to get landlords to move them to the top of waiting lists. Meanwhile, they doubled up with relatives, slept in garages or used other makeshift living arrangements.

Although there was no less housing space per person than before, the shortage was very real at existing prices, which were kept artificially lower than they would have been because of rent control laws that had been passed during the war. At these artificially low prices, more people had a demand for more housing space than before rent control laws were enacted. This is a practical consequence of the simple economic principle already noted in Chapter 2 that the quantity demanded varies with how high or low the price is.

Some people who would normally not be renting their own apartments, such as young adults still living with their parents or some single or widowed elderly people living with relatives, were enabled by the artificially low prices created by rent control to move out and into their own apartments. These artificially low prices also caused others to seek larger apartments than they would ordinarily be living in. More tenants seeking both more apartments and larger apartments created a shortage, not any greater physical scarcity of housing relative to the population. When rent control laws expired or were repealed, the housing shortage likewise quickly disappeared.

As rents rose in a free market, some childless couples living in four-bedroom apartments decided that they could live in two-bedroom apartments. Some late teenagers decided that they could continue living with mom and dad a little longer, until their pay rose enough for them to afford their own apartments, now that apartments were no longer artificially cheap. The net result was that families looking for a place to stay found more places available, now that rent-control laws were no longer keeping such places occupied by people with less urgent requirements.

None of this was peculiar to the United States. The same economic principles can be seen in operation around the world and down through history.

How's that whole "offering more services to more people for less money" thing going again?

Looking at the historical data on black poverty, educational achievement, and marriage, it becomes stunningly clear that in most ways that matter, blacks are worse off even though racism is better.

What we have now is a shortage of stable families who are able to lift themselves out of poverty. The cause isn't racism or sexism, but rather an obvious consequence of family structures with no redundancy. Prices are signals that convey valuable information that helps consumers make better choices. But so are consequences. Block the flow of information, and you get more people making uninformed choices that make it harder for them to succeed in life.

Posted by Cassandra at 07:57 AM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

August 26, 2014

Scientists Get the Sads

As if more evidence were needed, we present to you the ultimate appeal to authority: sad puppy eyes.


In his black-and-white photography series "Scared Scientists," Nick Bowers captures a raw element not often associated with scientific knowledge. For the series, Bowers interviewed a selection of scientists in varying fields, capturing the frightened looks on their faces while they contemplated their findings. The photos are minimalist but intense, each wrinkle and crease pointing to a human unease we can all connect with.

...On his website, Bowers combines a striking portrait with the specific field, educational background, and future predictions of each scientist. Although their powerful words provide an interesting context for their expressions, we think the faces alone say more than enough.

Indeed. Our greatest fear is of people who find this sort of nonsense convincing. But this also makes us feel very sad:

Like... inclusivity as an intentionality is Very Problematic when you don't understand the dynamics of power.

Twerking is a subject we should all treat more seriously.

Posted by Cassandra at 03:04 PM | Comments (14) | TrackBack

Young Men, Empowering Women Everywhere

Via Grim:

So rape drugs are a problem. For years -- indeed, for decades -- I've heard people advising women not to drink anything they haven't had positive control of every second since they watched it being poured.

Four college students, all men, thought this was a problem. So, they're fixing it.


Actually, the critics are correct in that this nail polish won't end rape. But that's a straw man argument - no one is claiming that giving women a tool to test their drinks was going to End Rape As We Know It. Most rapes don't even result from drugged drinks.

The objections to this novel invention are almost comically illogical - essentially, they revolve around a woman's asserted right to (on one hand) argue that the world is a dangerous place where women are regularly preyed upon by Rohypnal-wielding rapists, while (on the other hand) pretending she lives in a fantasy world where those rapists don't actually exist:

“One of the ways that rape is used as a tool to control people is by limiting their behavior,” Rebecca Nagle, one of the co-directors of an activist group called FORCE: Upsetting Rape Culture that challenges the societal norms around sexual assault, explained. “As a woman, I’m told not to go out alone at night, to watch my drink, to do all of these things. That way, rape isn’t just controlling me while I’m actually being assaulted — it controls me 24/7 because it limits my behavior. Solutions like these actually just recreate that. I don’t want to f***ing test my drink when I’m at the bar. That’s not the world I want to live in.”

We'd all like to live in a perfect world, but the real world is full of hazards. Chief among these are our fellow human beings. This is a fact men have had to deal with for most of human history. And there's a word for people who intelligently analyze the world around them and take precautions against known dangers. We call these people "adults". If women want to be considered fully equal to men, they're going to be exposed to the risks (as well as the rewards) that accompany greater opportunity and engagement with the world around them.

Part of the "patriarchal" attitudes many feminists want to eradicate is the notion that women are fragile, delicate flowers who are naturally less capable than men of handling competition, aggression, or unpleasantness. For many centuries, women were thought to need protection from the harsh realities of the world.

The blog princess would not be inclined to wear nail polish that detects the presence of rape drugs, but then we don't consider the risk of being exposed to these drugs to be a significant one. Put simply, the preventative tactic is more trouble than it's worth. But if you're one of those folks who argues that being drugged and raped *is* a significant danger, in what bizarre universe does it make sense to stick your head in the sand and refuse to protect yourself?

Oh, and while we're at it, can we all agree that this is just plain idiotic?

Even if a woman were to wear special nail polish or anti-rape underwear, or if she listens to common – but misplaced – advice about not getting drunk and always walking home in a group, all she’s supposedly ensuring is that she won’t be attacked.

Preventing yourself from being attacked is the point, here. And yes - it's easier for a single person to apply drug-detecting nail polish than it is to prevent every person on the planet from ever using rape drugs. People who talk about "ending" rape are scary. After centuries of trying, the human race hasn't managed to end murder, theft, assault, battery, lying, fraud, poverty, disease, hunger, or the Heartbreak of Psoriasis either. Refusing to entertain any sensible precaution against a risk you want the world to accept is significant until something that has never happened in the history of the human race occurs is just plain delusional. Grow the hell up, and maybe then I'll take your quest for equality seriously.

Good Lord.

Posted by Cassandra at 08:03 AM | Comments (28) | TrackBack

August 25, 2014

Caption Contest

Alright, villains. Here is your next picture to snarkify.


Have at it.
And may the Farce be with you.

Posted by DL Sly at 11:06 AM | Comments (15) | TrackBack


The legend lives on....

To top off the video, Mattis then called for the ice water — roughly 10 gallons of it — which was poured over his head by an unidentified person wearing a Chesty Puller mask and a woman who appeared to be Christie Brinkley. The dousing lasted for almost a minute with the water and ice cubes cascading down over Mattis’ head and body, as the general remained completely still and quiet.

Several moments after the soaking ended, Mattis looked around. “Is that it?” he asked. “Jesus Christ, I do that every morning before I shave and brush my teeth.”

Sources confirmed that after the video was filmed, Mattis threatened the camera crew and told them to leave his house immediately, or else he would kill them all with nothing more than his knife hands.

Posted by Cassandra at 08:16 AM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

The Scientific "ManBearPig"

What do you do when you can't neatly separate out multiple influencing factors to establish causality? Run them all together and give the result a fancy name like... oh, we don't know... "neuropsychosocial":

When it comes to understanding ourselves, we tend to be splitters: mind and body, nature and nurture, or genes and environment. We take such a split for granted when we ask how the social becomes biological, but sometimes it’s not so useful to dichotomize the world into society and biology. Instead of looking for distinct social and biological influences (and believing that we can change one but not the other), we should recognize that the factors that drive our social behavior can, like a Zen koan, be two things at once.

Take the case of teen alcohol abuse. In a study published last week, an international team of researchers reported the “neuropsychosocial” factors that identify teens who are likely to abuse alcohol. The word “neuropsychosocial” does away with the common nature/nurture divide, and so did the researchers. Rather than asking whether teens abuse alcohol because of social influences or innate biology, the scientists looked at those variables that could be measured, regardless of whether the variables were social, biological, or a mix of both.

Yes, the Editorial Staff are making fun of this - a little. But it's actually a sensible approach to situations in which a large number of factors combine, in ways that are nearly impossible to predict, to influence an outcome:

As the authors write, their data “speak to the multiple causal factors for alcohol misuse,” and, in fact, any one variable, taken in isolation, had a small influence in their study. The predictive power of their computer model came from combining variables that were measurable—regardless of whether they could be neatly categorized as social or biological—into a single risk profile. This profile offers clues for how to find and help at-risk teens, and the most effective interventions may turn out to have little to do with directly treating some key social or biological cause of alcohol abuse. As we think about the connection between our social behavior and our biology, we should, like good scientists, be pragmatic, and abandon the distinction between society and biology when it’s not useful.

Part of what we do in our day job involves studying software productivity. Everyone wants to find a single, simple "fix" that will make teams and projects more productive (however that's defined: definitions seem to vary with the observer's priorities). But we're inclined to think that software development - like pretty much any other complex human endeavor - is influenced by a constantly shifting mix of management, technical, and human factors; none of which can be neatly separated out from the others and some of which are impossible to quantify with any objectivity.

At any rate, we found this amusing as well as thought provoking.

Posted by Cassandra at 07:52 AM | Comments (28) | TrackBack

Life's Hard Enough As It Is...

It's if you insist on whining and blaming others for your plight, it's even harder:

For the new study, a group of 116 men and women with severe osteoarthritis, between ages 50 and 85 years old and scheduled for knee replacement surgery in Canada, first filled out questionnaires assessing perceived injustice, how much they think about or worry about pain and their fear of movement or re-injury.

They rated their agreement with statements like, “It all seems so unfair” and “I am suffering because of someone else’s negligence.”

With another clinical questionnaire the patients gauged their pain levels and physical functioning.

After the knee replacement surgeries, which were all deemed successful, the patients rated their pain and function again at a one-year checkup.

The more a patient agreed before surgery that life seems unfair and others are to blame for their problems, the more pain they reported experiencing one year after surgery. That was true even when age, sex, other health conditions and pre-surgery pain levels were accounted for, according to the results in the journal Pain.

...“All of these psychological factors point to the fact that patients who perceive themselves as helpless, those who are afraid, those who feel loss of control, have a more difficult time,” Brander said.

“The contrary is also true - patients who exhibit high levels of ‘self-efficacy’ (that is, patients who have a high degree of confidence in their own ability to achieve a goal) appear to do best after knee replacement,” she said.

Hmmm.... there's a metaphor in there somewhere:


Posted by Cassandra at 07:36 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

August 24, 2014

Let The Judgement Begin - Dog Days of Summer Edition

So, you see, here's the deal, summer here by so many lakes is very distracting what with family and friends to drag around on tubes until we can dump them off and such...


But sooner or later, one must come in from the water and take care of business.
Especially since most of my victims went back home. And after you guys did such a great job with your comments, I figured I should probably get off my ass and do a little judging. So, a reminder for those of the *forgetful* persuasion....


...and let the judgement begin.

Kicking off the top five this week is relative newcomer to the caption contest, but certainly not to VC, Elise with Look what the cat dragged in.

Coming in at number four is YAG the music man -
♫ Nobody knows the trouble I've seen ♫
♫ Nobody knows my sorrows ♫

Grabbing the brass ring is another relative newcomer to the contest, Kevin Bush for Here's Johnny!

htom snatches the silver with this Pythonesk retort Now go away, or I shall taunt you a second time!

And taking gold with this incredible entry is afe and his infomercial - The new patented Obama security system by Ronco! Yes, Ronco! The Sir Barksalot(tm) homeland security system mounts easily to entry points and will bark, howl, and otherwise caterwhaul when dangers come near. Sir Barksalot is unable to actually pursue and attack security threats, keeping you safe from any liability or blame for taking action. Sir Barksalot's patented "all bark, no bite" defense settings will also keep you safe from any blame by "haters" for "appalling" injuries to security threats. 4 out of 5 Kenyan scientisits agree that Sir Barksalot is the best all-symbolic, no-substance threat deterrent on the market. As an added bonus, Sir Barksalot will periodically poop on those areas within the protected boundaries, to give you that true Obama experience. Act now, and Ronco will add a free Popeil's Pocket Fisherman(tm) to let you pass the time fishing while waiting for Obama to accomplish something useful, extra shipping and handling charges apply. Hurry, while supplies last!

Congrats, winners, and thanks, everyone, for continuing to provide giggles and guffaws around the Dark Side.
As always, another picture will be forthcoming.

Posted by DL Sly at 11:04 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

This is Awesome

First day of school for the GrandPunks was last week.

We got a text with a picture of them all dressed up, waiting for the school bus. Seems like just yesterday that The Burrito made his big entrance and the other Grandparental Unit was in Iraq.

Where does the time go?

Posted by Cassandra at 12:09 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

August 22, 2014

[YAWN]: Another Day, Another Law Ignored by The White House

Most grist for the Editorial Staff's oft-repeated observation that everyday occurrences don't make the news:

After Thursday's network evening newscasts ignored a report from the Government Accountability Office that the exchange of five terrorists from Guantanamo Bay for Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl was illegal, NBC's Today and ABC's Good Morning America remained silent on the Obama administration scandal on Friday. Only CBS This Morning made any mention of the violation of federal law, providing a mere 24-second news brief on the topic.

Meanwhile, both Today and GMA did find time to produce full reports on a contestant on VH1's Dating Naked reality show suing the cable network for showing her naked on the program.

...While CBS at least noted the GAO finding, the morning show provided more time – 40 seconds – to showing a time lapse video of President Obama aging while in office.

One can only imagine the kerfuffle, had Bush done something like this.

Posted by Cassandra at 04:04 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Ask Not For Whom the Clue Bat Swingeth....

It swingeth for thee. In a delightfully entertaining post, Patterico takes on a New Republic author who dishonestly suggests that a legal standard used by 49 of the 50 states is actually some kind of dangerously-out-of-the-mainstream aberration. Even the author's inevitable "correction" continues to misrepresent the facts:

The piece still says it’s different in “other states” (plural) with only a link to Ohio — which is, again, the only state in the union that clearly and consistently puts the burden on the defendant.

The post closes by saying:

Within reason, legal protections for, and presumptions in favor of, policemen acting in the line of duty make sense. Society has chosen to give these men and women guns, after all. And if we expect these officers to put their lives on the line, we owe them some measure of trust and due deference. But trust cannot become a license to kill. We have a word for a situation where killing is the default, where violence is so expected that the burden is no longer on a killer to prove his actions are justified. That word is war. It has no place in suburban St. Louis.

This is arrant nonsense. Killing is not "the default" anywhere in America, and this incident would not be news if it were. It's news precisely because what happened to Michael Brown isn't what normally happens - just as prosecutors not bearing the burden of proof isn't the normal rule in 49 out of 50 states. Patterico continues:

No, the word for a situation where the burden is on the prosecution to disprove self-defense is “America.” With the exception of Ohio and possibly Louisiana in some cases, that is the norm, and it’s hardly a shocking one in American jurisprudence: the burden of proof is on the prosecution. CRAZY!!!!11!!11!ELEVENTY!!

I understand this rule bothers people who want to presume cops guilty when they kill someone. But that’s our system — and lefties like Yishai Schwartz generally like it, until it runs up against their preferred outcomes. Then, the system can go hang — and so, it seems, can basic research.

Why are so many of the folks who are continually scream that young black men are being railroaded by Evil, Racist Prosecutors now suggesting that centuries-old legal protections for defendants are suddenly not just unnecessary, but dangerous? Is this a general principle they're willing to adhere to, regardless of who stands accused?

Of course not. But then these are the folks who have been arguing - amid almost two weeks of wall to wall, unrelenting media coverage of innumerable daily protest marches in Ferguson - that police have prevented the protesters from assembling or being heard.

Only in America could allowing thousands of protesters march up and down (and in some cases, to block) public thoroughfares for nearly two weeks be framed as an intolerable infringement of their First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and assembly. In most jurisdictions, permits are required for large gatherings or protests that occur on public property. So far as we know, this requirement has not been ruled unconstitutional.

Did these protesters all get the required permits? Some will argue that being asked to obtain a permit is an intolerable limit on their absolute freedom to do anything they want, at any time they want, regardless of how their actions impact others. Such is the popular mood these days. We are all principled warriors for justice and free speech and liberty....

...unless, of course, we don't like the practical outcome of our oh-so-principled stands:

Missouri, where protesters don’t truly want justice and there has been no peace.

What justice demands in the case of the shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown by Officer Darren Wilson in disputed circumstances is a full and fair deliberative process that goes wherever the evidence leads. But is anyone marching so that Wilson can go free if the facts don’t support charging him?

No, the demand is for him to be arrested immediately and to be prosecuted no matter what. MSNBC anchor Chris Hayes, relaying the mood in Ferguson, has said that the security problem there isn’t solvable absent an indictment of Wilson. As if a grand jury should be beholden to looters.

Actually, some protesters have been demanding a fair trial for Officer Wilson. The same crowd who have been loudly asserting their right to free speech lost no time in trying to deprive others of that same right:

In events like the Ferguson “crisis,” the most revealing moments occur in plain view and in the full light of day. One such moment was the reaction of the crowd of protesters to the two people who were protesting against them. To judge from the televised reporting of the event, they were surrounded, shouted down, and more or less intimidated. They had to be rescued by the cops and ferried away to safety. What they were arguing — insofar as scrawled signs constitute argument — was that justice demanded a fair trial for Darren Wilson in a court of law but not a conviction determined in advance. This was interpreted by the crowd as unacceptable provocation.

Now, that sentiment is an impeccably liberal one — almost an ur-liberal belief. One can hear John Stuart applauding it as vigorously as his temperament allowed. What made it intolerable apparently was that this liberalism leaves open the possibility that Wilson might be acquitted.

And so we're back to "guilty until proven innocent". But only for people who don't think the way we do, people we don't like, or people who don't look like us. Which used to be the very kind of intolerance progressives are supposed to be fighting:

The idea that you can tell who is innocent and who is guilty by the color of their skin is a notion that was tried out for generations, back in the days of the Jim Crow South. I thought we had finally rejected that kind of legalized lynch law. But apparently it has only been put under new management.

The sad thing is that we've been down this road before too many times:

Back in the 1950s, when the federal courts began striking down the Jim Crow laws in the South, one of the rising demands across the country was that the discriminators and segregationists obey "the law of the land."

But, somewhere along the way, the idea also arose and spread that not everybody was supposed to obey "the law of the land."

Violations of law by people with approved victim status like minorities, or self-righteous crusaders like environmentalists, were to be met with minimal resistance — if any resistance at all — and any punishment of them beyond a wrist-slap was "over-reacting."

College campuses became bastions of the new and sanctified mob rule, provided that the mobs are from the list of groups approved as politically correct. Otherwise, even an injudicious remark could bring swift and certain punishment under "speech codes."

The politics of condoned law-breaking is part of the moral dry rot of our times. So is settling issues in the streets on the basis of race, instead of in courts on the basis of law.

The passion of angry mobs - of all races - is why we have laws in the first place. It is why Justice is usually portrayed blindfolded. The ideal that who you are (or whether the mob is with you, or against you) should have no bearing on how you are treated by the criminal justice system is one of the foundations of a free society.

Those who work to actively undermine faith in the rule of law simply because it - like all institutions created and administered by fallible human beings - can be manipulated by those in power should stop to consider that this frail bulwark is all that stands between us and barbarism. The alternative to the rule of law is the rule of men. And as we've seen over the last two weeks, people are not naturally inclined to be fair or principled, especially when dealing with anyone they don't view as one of their own.

Be careful what you tear down. You may find a use for it, some day.

Posted by Cassandra at 08:43 AM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

Blogging Update

The Editorial Staff will be posting something today - it has been an unusually busy week at work. But in the mean time - thanks to Grim - we have an Important Public Service Announcement to make:


The world's most expensive coffee is now being produced in Thailand's Golden Triangle, a region better known for another high-priced, if illegal, export: opium.

Canadian entrepreneur Blake Dinkin, 44, is betting his life savings that he can turn his idea into, well, gold. Here's the catch: His Black Ivory Coffee is made by passing coffee beans through the not insubstantial stomachs of elephants and then picking the beans out of, well, yeah, that.

It's similar to Kopi Luwak, the civet coffee that was all the rage a few years back; Dinkin has just supersized the idea.

Is it just us, or does the elephant in that picture look embarrassed to be part of such undignified goings-on?

As much as we revere The Noble Pachyderm, we must respectfully decline the beautiful, natural, and completely understandable urge of bored, overprivileged First Worlders to fork over exorbitant sums of money to drink a beverage that has passed through the intestines of the world's largest land mammal.

This is the only elephant coffee you should be drinking. It is best enjoyed in The Grandson Mug, whilst being benevolently watched over by a ceramic pink pachyderm.


It is delicious. But most importantly, it does not come from an elephant's butt.

Some mornings, small victories like this can set the tone for the rest of the work day.

Posted by Cassandra at 08:08 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

August 21, 2014



It was in the sands of Ramadi that I learned most people want to be masters of their own fate. When we were providing area security for a week-long recruitment drive to re-establish the Ramadi police force, the turnout was overwhelming. More than 1,000 applicants stood in line when death approached in the form of a suicide bomber. The blast killed more than 60 and wounded at least 50. On that day, as on many days before and after, Americans and Iraqis were killed by the same enemy. They fell in pursuit of freedom. One for the other's; one for his own. No matter how things turn out, there was a time when Americans and Iraqis stood united against hate and evil.

How many nations in the course of human events have sacrificed so much to give an unfree people a shot at self-determination? Did Alexander defeat Darius just to give Persia its freedom? Did Caesar conquer Gaul and then say, "Now it's your turn to govern yourself." No other country in history has defeated its enemies only to hand over the reins of government to its native population.

In a region governed by strongmen and factions that imprison or kill each other, there was a time not so long ago when the Iraqi people held their own destiny in their own hands. We, those who fought and sacrificed—and the Iraqis who bravely assisted us—are the ones who placed it there. We join the long line of veterans who fought for another's benefit. We cannot control what people do with a gift, we cannot even be sure they will appreciate it, but that doesn't mean we cannot be proud of the sacrifice that it took to give it.

Posted by Cassandra at 05:10 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack


Perhaps there are times when a man's reach should *not* exceed his grasp:

Jesse Jackson boo'd for soliciting donations for his church from Ferguson protesters.

More of the same here:

The last time America’s race-baiters and their helpful idiots worked themselves into a frenzy over someone shooting a violent criminal in self-defense, Spike Lee gave out the home address of an elderly couple who had nothing to do with it. If you think he’s learned anything from that experience, you don’t know much about Spike Lee.
“When people get to a point, [unintelligible] that tipping point, they can’t take it anymore. And I’m not saying that people should burn down stuff, riot, and loot. And I don’t even want to use the word ‘riot.’ I’m gonna use the word ‘uprising.’ But this is not the first time we’ve seen this. And I just hope that things will really blow up if the people aren’t happy with the verdict of this upcoming trial.”

He’s not saying people should riot. Because they’re not really rioting. Besides, they’re really angry, which is how we decide these things in America.

One of the reassuring constants in life is that men like Jackson and Lee can be relied upon to show their true colors every now and then.

Huckstahs just gotta huck :p

Posted by Cassandra at 08:17 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

August 19, 2014

But Then You Totally *Knew* This, Didn't You?

Cows. Their social lives are complicated:


The calves have the strongest social contacts while feeding on hay rather than on grain. This is probably because cattle spend longer feeding on hay to re-ruminate having eaten grain.

During feeding time the cattle compete with each other for food at the grain bunk and therefore cannot always eat with an intentionally chosen partner. So the contacts around the grain bank may not necessarily reflect social ties (!).

However, after feeding on grain there is less competition and the cattle can go with a chosen partner to the hay. "It is only the contacts around the hay bunk during feeding time that may attribute to the real social ties," the researchers conclude.

That should have significant implications for the way animal behavioral specialists study social networks of other animals, particularly in the wild…..What's more, the key finding is that it is important to distinguish between random contacts and social ones—although this can only be done with the aid of detailed knowledge of the animal habitat and behavior.


It's like a jungle out there
Sometime I wondah
how I keep from goin' under

And don't even get me started on horses. It's gettin' real on the mean meadows of western Maryland.

Posted by Cassandra at 07:24 AM | Comments (11) | TrackBack

August 14, 2014

To Encourage Responsible Black Leaders, Try Listening to Them

This piece in the WSJ struck a bit of a nerve with the Editorial Staff:

The lead item on much television news since the weekend has been the shooting in Ferguson, Mo., a suburb of St. Louis, of 18-year-old Michael Brown by a police officer. On display was what has now become the fairly standard response in these matters: the inconsolable mother, the testimony of the dead teenager's friends to his innocence, the aunts and cousins chiming in, the police chief's earnest promise of a thorough investigation. The death in Ferguson added to the mix three nights of protest and looting, with police using tear-gas and rubber bullets to quell the crowds, but otherwise the feeling was not dissimilar from what we saw two years ago after the shooting of Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Fla. The same lawyer who represented the Martin family, it was announced, is going to take this case.

Missing, not that anyone is likely to have noticed, was the calming voice of a national civil-rights leader of the kind that was so impressive during the 1950s and '60s. In those days there was Martin Luther King Jr. of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference; Roy Wilkins of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People; Whitney Young of the National Urban League, Bayard Rustin of the A. Philip Randolph Institute—all solid, serious men, each impressive in different ways, who through dignified forbearance and strategic action, brought down a body of unequivocally immoral laws aimed at America's black population.

King died in 1968, at age 39; Young in 1971 at 50; Wilkins in 1981 at 80; and Rustin in 1987 at 75. None has been replaced by men of anywhere near the same high caliber. In their place today there is only Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, each of whom long ago divested himself of the moral force required of true leadership. One of the small but genuine accomplishments of President Obama has been to keep both of these men from becoming associated with the White House.

The same day the WSJ article was written, this press release landed in my Inbox:

Washington, D.C. / St. Louis, MO - Members of the Project 21 black leadership network, some of whom are St. Louis residents and eyewitnesses to the unfolding controversy, are speaking out about the continuing protests, looting and rioting in the St. Louis area that have resulted in dozens of arrests.

Christopher Arps "It's a tragedy what happened over the weekend to young Michael Brown. Cooler heads should now prevail until the investigation is complete. This tense situation does not need outside agitators swooping in fanning the flames of an already tense situation," said Project 21 member Christopher Arps, a St. Louis area resident who attended the August 10 prayer vigil held outside the Ferguson Police Department.

Stacy Washington "The most important thing anyone can do in this tragedy surrounding the officer involved in the shooting of Michael Brown is to take a step back and wait for the entirety of the facts to come to light. The rioting looters are opportunists: people who've taken a tragedy and are using it as an excuse to exercise their most base and criminal desires. These lawless individuals are stealing from a community that's already reeling from losing one of their own," added Stacy Washington, a radio talk show host on WFTK-St. Louis and St. Louis resident. "As a community, the people of Ferguson have already repudiated the behavior of the looters. Now it's time to support the family of Mike Brown, the business owners who lost their livelihoods and the employees who've lost their jobs. I look forward to the conclusion of the investigation."

Horace Cooper "Looting and rioting is never justified. These aren't the actions of mainstream black America. These are the hooligans and thugs who make life miserable for everyone else by taking advantage of what they see as an opportunity," said Project 21 Co-Chairman Horace Cooper. "Likewise, Al Sharpton and Benjamin Crump seem more interested in inflaming the situation than seeing to it that justice is done. A rush to judgment before all of the facts are in does nothing for black America or to improve race relations. It would be better for Sharpton to head back to New York City."

Nadra Enzi "Police shoot and losers loot! Looting doesn't bring justice, but does bring to light those destroying the inner city from within. These public riots merely underscore the private ones endured daily by residents who are held hostages by the 'hood. Run a background check on the looters and watch the story unfold about their real motives," said Project 21 member Nadra Enzi, an anti-crime activist in New Orleans. "Is it too much to ask President Obama and the civil rights lobby to denounce this crime spree disguised as a police brutality protest?"

This is what leadership looks like. I've been on the Project 21 mailing list for about as long as I've been blogging. I don't quote them nearly enough, or highlight the good work they do to improve the lives of black Americans and promote good relations between blacks and whites.

When self-interested agitators like Sharpton and Jackson rush to the scene of the latest racial incident to fan the flames and spray gallons of healing gasoline on the troubled waters, the media fall all over themselves to give them airtime (as though something actually worth quoting had erupted from their stately blowholes, instead of the trite, predictable demagoguery of men who make a living from ginning up distrust and hatred). So, too, do too many conservatives; though our commentary is more often geared toward rebuttal than praise.

When a tragedy like the latest one in Ferguson occurs, the easiest thing in the world is to get angry. I wonder how often we stop to consider the worth of leaders who - despite a natural inclination to the same anguish and outrage felt by rioters in Ferguson - offer reason and appeals for constructive action instead?

There’s something else, harder to discuss but, like so many such things, urgent nonetheless. Deep breath: The black community cannot pretend that the stereotype of black men as violent comes out of nowhere.

Young black men commit about 50 percent of the murders in this country, 14 times more than young white men. Or, where do murder rates among young white men go up each summer the way they do among black ones in cities like Chicago? “Flash robs” happen when large groups of teens beset a store and steal from it, and I’m sorry, but these are rarely white affairs.

There are reasons for things like these. However, we are being unrealistic to expect America to watch these things and think it’s okay because the boys don’t have Dads and decent-paying low-skill jobs aren’t always easy to find. Let’s face it: If Korean boys regularly did things like this, we’d all be scared to death of them.

Be clear: Michael Brown’s murder was grievously unjustified regardless. And forget the tired canard that the black community doesn’t care about black-on-black murder, which could only be leveled by someone who doesn’t know much about black people. Stop the Violence events are a staple in black neighborhoods.

Yet, I wonder if the black community could step it up some on this. We need to devote some more energy to figuring out what we can do about The Violence, because among all else that it destroys, it feeds a perception bias that ends up killing innocents like Michael Brown.

That took courage, and a level of self-discipline most of us would be proud to be capable of. To resist striking back, condemn lawless rioting, bite back the thousand easy responses that come so naturally to every human social group, be it based upon race, familial ties, religion, or simply shared values is surely admirable and worthy of our attention and respect?

We are all, in some sense, possessed of dual citizenship. We are citizens of America; of our states, towns, or cities; members of this or that racial, ethnic, or religious group. And nothing could be more natural than to bitterly resent injuries to those we identify most closely with. Black leaders like these embody all that is best and noblest in human nature. They lead and inspire by example.

So why don't we pay more attention to them? So long as we continue to provide a live microphone to demagogues like Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson and ignore the real black leaders stepping up every day all over this nation, we are compounding the problem. Conservatives like to talk about incentives: what we reward and pay attention to, we can expect to see more of.

That's an observation we should apply to our own conduct. If you're a blogger, consider giving groups like Project 21 a turn at the mike. If you don't have a blog, add them to your reading list and share their public statements with others. There is so much that is good and inspiring in this country, if only we will take the time to see it.

Posted by Cassandra at 08:09 AM | Comments (30) | TrackBack

Fairness, Corporate Inversions, and the Level Playing Field

Progressives like to talk about fairness and the importance of having a level playing field. But oddly, their public policy prescriptions for American businesses - the job creators we so desperately need to maintain a robust job market and provide employment for American workers - almost always involve markedly unfair and inequitable treatment of American business owners:

We've written for years about how the U.S. has the highest corporate income tax rate in the developed world, and that's an incentive for all companies, wherever they are based, to invest outside the U.S. But the current appetite for inversions—in which a U.S. firm buys a foreign company and adopts its legal address while keeping operational headquarters in the U.S.—results from the combination of this punitive rate with a separate problem created by Washington.

The U.S. is one of only six OECD countries that imposes on its businesses the world-wide taxation of corporate profits. Every company pays taxes to the country in which profits are earned. But U.S. companies have the extra burden of also paying the IRS whenever those profits come back from the foreign country into the U.S. The tax bill is the difference between whatever the companies paid overseas and the 35% U.S. rate.

The perverse result is that a foreign company can choose to invest in the U.S. without penalty, but U.S.-based Medtronic would pay hundreds of millions and perhaps billions in additional taxes if it wanted to bring overseas profits back to its home country. Medtronic's work-around is essentially to become Covidien so it can more easily increase its investments in the U.S.—and the firm has promised to invest an additional $10 billion in America over the next decade.

Keep in mind that the money invested in corporations was once earned by someone who paid taxes on it. And it will be taxed again as dividends or capital gains. The point is that the U.S. government wants to tax U.S. business profits far more than other countries do. Inversions allow U.S. firms a level playing field that the U.S. tax code otherwise denies them.

Meanwhile, the President continues to suggest that corporations who take advantage of perfectly legal foreign mergers (among them are many high dollar contributors to his own campaign) are "refusing to play by the rules". If he truly believes some of his biggest donors/supporters have done something unpatriotic and morally wrong, one might expect him to return their ill-gotten donations.

One would, of course, be wrong to expect Obama's actions to match his rhetoric:

President Barack Obama won’t return campaign donations to executives, advisers and directors who have profited from offshore mergers that reduce corporate taxes using a technique he has called “unpatriotic.”

Responding to a Bloomberg News report that described connections between more than 20 Obama donors and the tax-cutting transactions, White House Deputy Press Secretary Eric Schultz said the president will keep the cash.

"I see nothing wrong with taking unfairly earned money from unpatriotic American corporations who have renounced their American citizenship and refuse to play by the rules the rest of us follow every day" doesn't exactly smack of moral conviction, does it? But then the Democrats seem to see little utility in actually following the rules they'd like to force on the rest of us:

On both sides of the aisle, there is a racial pay gap in campaign politics. Asian, Black and Latino staffers are paid less than their white counterparts, according to an analysis by the New Organizing Institute. For example, African-American staffers on Democratic campaigns were paid 70 cents for each dollar their white counterparts made. For Hispanic staffers in Democratic campaigns, the figure was 68 cents on the dollar.

And a recent study by PowerPAC+, funded by a major Democratic donor, revealed that less than 2 percent of spending by Democratic campaign committees during the past two election cycles went to firms owned by minorities.

What's the only time disparate impact is not - we repeat, NOT! - introvertible evidence of racially or sexually discriminatory hiring practices?

When it's practiced by Democrats, natürlich.

Posted by Cassandra at 07:38 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

August 13, 2014

The Vigil

Presented without comment as anything I could say would be grossly insufficient.

Well done, young man.
For a Man you are.

Posted by DL Sly at 11:01 AM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

Shaken, Not Stirred


In this photo released Wednesday, August 6, an elephant relieves an itch on a small car in South Africa's Pilanesberg National Park. The two passengers in the car were shaken up but not injured.

CWCID: the Spousal Unit, who is very good about supplying the Blog Princess with pachydermal pulchritude.

Posted by Cassandra at 06:50 AM | Comments (12) | TrackBack

August 12, 2014

In The Midst of Sadness...

...comes something special from the VES:

Santa's letter.png

Letter to Santa.png

Dear Santa
My mom said to send you are christmas list I wanted a remot contor car and helicopter but I don't want that any mor kid at school are still picking on Amber and its not fair because she doesnt do anything to them and it makes me mad I prayed that they will stop but god is bisy and needs your help
Is it against the rules to give gift early? can you ask Pig Time Rush to come to Amber's B-day party it will make her so happy. if you can't get them to come but just get her everything she ask for.

thanks santa

Love Ryan

PS My mom throw the best B-day partys your can come! if you want


Yeah, she's pretty special. However, truth be told, I'm pretty sure it wadn't my 23 that made her that way.

Because, a few minutes later comes this:

Time Machine.png

Now that's my girl.
Robin would be proud.
I know I am.

Posted by DL Sly at 10:50 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Why Smart, Capable, Fully-Equal Women Need Free Stuff

Because even though women ARE TOO! just as smart, capable, and hard working as our hate-filled, patriarchal oppressors, we are simultaneously helpless and incapable of figuring how to provide for ourselves:

Sanitary products are vital for the health, well-being and full participation of women and girls across the globe. The United Nations and Human Rights Watch, for example, have both linked menstrual hygiene to human rights. Earlier this year, Jyoti Sanghera, chief of the UN Human Rights Office on Economic and Social Issues, called the stigma around menstrual hygiene “a violation of several human rights, most importantly the right to human dignity”.

In countries where sanitary products are inaccessible or unaffordable, menstruation can mean missed school for girls (UNICEF estimates 10% of African girls don’t attend school during their periods) and an increased dropout rate, missed work for women and repeated vaginal infections because of unsanitary menstrual products. One study showed that in Bangladesh, 73% of female factory workers miss an average of six days – and six days of pay – every month because of their periods.

I'll tell you what other things necessary for people of all kinds to live and work and thrive.

Food isn't free, and it's about as basic as things get. Without it, people starve to death.

Shelter isn't free.

And we're pretty sure that clothes are a big "must-have" item in the workplace or classroom. But by all means, let's focus on tampons.

Dear Lord, please make it stop.

Posted by Cassandra at 01:16 PM | Comments (25) | TrackBack

Obstruction at Justice

A while back, the Editorial Staff alerted the assembled villainry to what appeared to be a serious breath of legal ethics by the Obama Justice department:

...look who's defending the IRS in court!

Defending IRS commissioner John Koskinen against the claims of the pro-Israel group Z Street is Andrew Strelka — and before joining the Department of Justice’s civil-trial section, Strelka worked at the IRS for Lois Lerner, who was then the agency’s head of exempt organizations. As it happens, this is the very IRS division at which the mistreatment of Z Street is alleged to have occurred — and Strelka worked there at the very time Z Street’s application for tax-exempt status was being considered.

Scott Coffina, a partner at the Washington, D.C. law firm Drinker Biddle & Reath and a former Justice Department prosecutor says

Strelka’s representation could violate Washington, D.C.’s rules of professional conduct for lawyers in “several” ways, in particular the rule that prohibits a lawyer from representing a client in a matter where “The lawyer’s professional judgment on behalf of the client will be or reasonably may be adversely affected” by his personal interests.

...While at the IRS, documents indicate, Strelka was kept abreast of the agency’s targeting practices.

Today we learn that Herr. Strelka has been withdrawn as counsel, not just for the Z Street case, but in two other pending cases against the IRS:

It was fishy enough when Democratic donor Barbara Bosserman was appointed to lead the Justice Department investigation of IRS targeting of conservative groups. Now there are new questions about Justice's staffing choice on one of the private lawsuits brought against the IRS.

We've been telling you about the pro-Israel group Z Street, which sued the IRS in 2010 on grounds that the agency engaged in viewpoint discrimination when it singled out 501(c) groups with Israel-related missions for additional scrutiny. The case has been handled by Justice Department trial attorney Andrew Strelka, who previously worked in the IRS office run by Lois Lerner that handled tax-exempt applications.

... Mr. Strelka was thus both Justice's lawyer on the case and potentially a witness.

...We say "was" because recently Mr. Strelka was withdrawn as the Justice Department's counsel of record on the Z Street case. A review of court dockets showed that he has also withdrawn from two other cases involving tax-exempt groups, including Judicial Watch's suit against the IRS.

...Cleta Mitchell, who represents conservative groups who saw their applications for tax-exempt status slow-tracked, says she talked to Mr. Strelka when he was at the IRS starting in June and July of 2010 about a client whose tax-exempt application was delayed. After applying for 501(c)(4) status in October 2009, the client heard nothing until June 2010, when Mr. Strelka asked to see ads the group had run that were critical of Administration health-care policy.

This means Mr. Strelka was directly engaged in the policies at the Exempt Organizations Unit that led to the lawsuits charging the agency with viewpoint discrimination. Under the Rules of Professional Conduct, barring special exceptions, "A lawyer shall not act as advocate at a trial in which the lawyer is likely to be a necessary witness."

We are shocked... SHOCKED, we tell you, to find unethical behavior going on in this administration. Fortunately, at any moment our Constitutional Law Prez should be along to clean house.

Then again, perhaps not:

The highly visible wartime vacation (Obama allowed himself to be photographed on a putting green Saturday with NBA star Ray Allen and retired pro-football player Ahmad Rashad) was not looking any better Monday as Iraq’s political crisis worsened, NATO’s chief declared a “high probability” of Russian military intervention in Ukraine and Gaza remained on a knife edge.

By Monday afternoon, the crises had forced Obama to revise his schedule. The White House announced that the president, after returning from the beach, would make an unscheduled statement about Iraq. He freshened up at his 8,100-square-foot vacation home, then stepped outside, in a blue blazer and open collar; his aides wisely chose a wooded backdrop rather than one with the infinity pool and the sweeping water views. Obama finished his four-minute statement and then hopped in his motorcade for the ride to a Democratic fundraiser.

...Criticism from Clinton. War with the Islamic State. Trouble with Maliki. It’s enough to make a man hook his drive into the sand trap.

Don't worry, folks. America's IG Corps are still hard at work:

The 47 IGs minced no words: “Each of us strongly supports the principle that an inspector general must have complete, unfiltered, and timely access to all information and materials available to the agency that relate to that IG’s oversight activities, without unreasonable administrative burdens. The importance of this principle, which was codified by Congress in Section 6(a)(1) of the Inspector General Act of 1978, as amended (the IG Act), cannot be overstated. Refusing, restricting, or delaying an IG's access to documents leads to incomplete, inaccurate, or significantly delayed findings or recommendations, which in turn may prevent the agency from promptly correcting serious problems and deprive Congress of timely information regarding the agency’s performance.”

Three specific examples were described in the IGs' letter, including blatant obstruction of important investigations at the Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Justice and the Peace Corps.

... The experience of Justice Department IG Michael Horowitz is especially outrageous. In a Senate hearing in April, Horowitz said his office must go through Attorney General Eric Holder to gain access to DOJ documents and officials. Giving Holder the power to veto an IG’s access in that manner egregiously violates the 1978 law and other statutes. Obstruction like Holder’s risks “leaving the agencies insulated from scrutiny and unacceptably vulnerable to mismanagement and misconduct – the very problems that our offices were established to review and that the American people expect us to be able to address,” the IGs said in their letter to Congress.


Posted by Cassandra at 08:48 AM | Comments (10) | TrackBack


...a fellow of infinite jest,
of most excellent fancy.

He hath borne me on his back a thousand times...

Where be your gibes now?
Your gambols? Your songs?
Your flashes of merriment
that were wont to set the table on a roar?

Robin Williams was such a brilliant comic that it's easy to forget what a magnificent actor he was, too.

For a short time he streaked across the sky like a comet, leaving a trail of wonder behind him.

Whatever ever else he was, he was never ordinary.

Posted by Cassandra at 07:02 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

August 08, 2014

Caption Contest - Dog Days of Summer Edition

Alright, villains. Here is your next picture to snarkify.


Have at it.
And may the Farce be with you.

Posted by DL Sly at 11:54 AM | Comments (19) | TrackBack

Let The Judgement Begin

Alright, villains. It's that time. The Dark Side has been over-run by family on vacation, but I've found a quiet moment with which to judge the comments from the last contest. So, with apologies for the brevity and a fast glance back at that picture...


Prepare to be judged.

Kicking off the top five this week is CAPT Mike with this very astute observation - Just another privately built enterprise the 'O' doesn't understand.

While spd asks the question that's been on much of America's mind for the last five years -
The O: Would you like to ask the president a question, little girl?
The Kid: How come you're not wearing any clothes?

YAG grabs the brass ring, all by himself I'm sure since it's just sitting on the table within arm's reach - You *really* think you built that?

While the Princess, in one of her many Sybilisms, takes the 30 pieces of silver and the Lego's - "OOOH! Looks like someone has *way* more Legos than she needs..."

And, last, but shirley not least, gliding in for the gold is frequent flyer for - Kid: "This is 'Obamacare Tower'--pull one piece out HERE, and the whole thing comes tumbling down.

Movie reference props go to spd for - "Pai Mei taught you the five point palm-exploding heart technique?"

Great job, everyone. Thanks for playing. And waiting. Again, apologies for the brevity. Too many trains of thought flying around on the unfinished tracks in my head right now.
And the lake calls.
As usual the next picture will be up soon....ish.

Posted by DL Sly at 10:48 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Yes, I've Been AWOL

But, for very good reason....

At the game.jpg

Unfortunately, the Braves didn't win, but a good time was had by all on the Dark Side -- until it was time to deal with exiting traffic, that is. (There is a reason why the Dark Side is located way out in BFMT.) And the above pictured VES learned how to properly fill in a scorecard. These are important things for a young lady to have in her repertoire, don'cha know.

Posted by DL Sly at 10:34 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 07, 2014

Thursday Inflammatory Debate Topic (or... not)

Over the past week or so, the Editorial Staff have been seeing references to this video here and there, generally accompanied by uber-outragey objections and cries of "MISOGYNY!!!11!" and the equally annoying riposte of people who can't understand (generally while complaining bitterly that The Other makes no attempt to understand their point of view) why everyone isn't just like them? Yes, we're talking about "Lighten up" and its near cousin, "Secure/attractive/normal people think this is hysterical, so obviously you're insecure/unattractive/abnormal". Or [GASP!]... a MAN-HATING, WESTERN CIVILIZATION DESTROYING, ALL POWERFUL FEMINIST!!11!

Humor being a notoriously subjective affair, we had firmly resolved to ignore the video and skip the ritual taking of offense and retaliatory bestowing of insults. But then Tex linked to it over at Grim's place. We like Tex, so we overcame our aversion and clicked the hateful little "view" arrow:

There was a time when the Editorial Staff would automatically have assumed a video entitled, "A Man's Guide to Women/Hot-Crazy Matrix" was virtually certain to contain some elaborate feat of intentional, self-defecating humor. Sadly, years of exposure to the blissfully un-selfconscious rantings of the pickup artist/game crowd have strained our credibility to the point where we no longer feel safe assuming anything.

So here's a time lapse summary of our evolving response to the video.

First few moments: "OK, this is pretty much what the title led us to expect. It's a joke."

"Ummm.... why is there an equal-parts-hot/crazy line?"

"All women are at least a 4 on the crazy scale? Does he believe this, or is he making fun of the male propensity to belittle anything they don't understand"?"

"In what universe does dating anyone who rates 7-10 on your personal crazy scale seem like a good move?"

"Oh..... now I get it. This explains all those guys who claim not to have noticed that the person they married was completely insane until after the wedding."

On the female version:

"No dating zone?"

"If a guy has enough money, women don't care about their looks?" This is arrant nonsense.

Later that evening, it occurred to us that he had the female version all wrong. It should have had "hot" on the X axis and "acts like a jerk" on the Y axis with pretty much everything else the same as the male version.

So why did people get so upset over the video? We can't speak for them, but it's not all that hard to imagine why. Men and women have a hard time understanding how the world seems to the other half of humanity, and both sexes have a disturbing tendency to think their own world view is normal, sane, and sensible while the opposite sex's is utterly incomprehensible and needs fixing. Why can't a woman be more like a man (i.e., 'not crazy')? Why can't men be more empathetic/loving/understanding?

In the comments to Tex's post, Grim links to what he calls the female version of this stupid advice, which had (amusingly) been linked to disapprovingly by Glenn Reynolds (Hey! Only insecure/unattractive people fail to see the dark humor in what I find hysteri...... oh, nevermind...):

Young single straight women, take cover! Susan Patton is out there flacking for her book, “Marry Smart: Advice for Finding THE ONE.” She stopped by the “Today” show this morning to tell college-age women to find a husband immediately — and also to learn how to bake bread, get plastic surgery in high school and, you know, not get themselves raped, as women are so often wont to do.

It’s such patently absurd advice and yet this is exactly the sort of cultural messaging that used to freak me out as a 20-something single straight lady. In acts of self-punishment, I would read these self-appointed gurus, or watch them on the “Today” show spouting their B.S., and genuinely worry that they were right — that I would end up sad and alone.

Well, guess what.

I did everything the Susan Pattons of the world said not to do and I ended up marrying a freaking wonderful man — not despite disobeying these retro rules, but because of it. That’s why, amidst all the “Princeton mom” noise, I bring you instructions on how to actually marry smart, according to me. True story, I recently went to the optometrist and she told me, “Your eyes aren’t young anymore,” so I feel like that makes me at least as qualified as Patton to give life advice.

In his comment, Grim describes Patton's advice as traditional and the Salon author's criticism of that advice as vicious. But it's not terribly hard to see why so many women (including this author, who planned for her family first and school/career only afterwards) were annoyed by Ms. Patton's attempts to scare young women into heading for the nearest altar:

SP: One, you have to plan for your personal happiness. Two, men and women simply are not the same and it’s unreasonable for women to think that they can pursue their personal happiness in the same way that men do. The third thing I would say is, there will never again be this concentration of extraordinary men to choose from as you have while you’re an undergraduate on a campus like Princeton or any school that you go to. And probably the last thing I would add is about how women are responsible for their own safety; not only for their own happiness, but they’re responsible for their own safety.

DP: You write in the book that men do not need dating advice, but it seems as though you portray men as having bad dating habits, since they have come to “expect free sex” and end up dating “dumb, mean or nasty” women. What advice have you given your sons in regard to finding love?

SP: Well, I’ve given my sons no advice whatsoever. They need no advice from me, nor do most men need any advice from me. Men can take as long as they want; there’s no time clock on them, there’s no limitation on their ability to become fathers, and as a result they don’t need any advice from me. They can date for as long as they want to date. When they’re ready to settle down, they’ll settle down. There’s nothing that’s at risk for them.

Ah: the golden standard against which all human actions should be measured: "What's at risk for ME?"

By the time your formerly rosy-cheeked Editorial Staff was 17 or so, she had begun thinking about college and probable trajectories for the rest of her life. Being a practical sort of lass, she immediately flashed on the fact that life is full of tradeoffs and opportunity costs. Just before her 18th natal day, she fell in love with the Spousal Unit (and he with her). Both of us had several years of dating experience under our belts, and so it wasn't long before we both acknowledged that the heady rush of infatuation was looking like something more permanent in nature. In due course, marriage, delayed college and career plans, and two offspring ensued.

What can we say? It worked for us. But that doesn't make it a recipe for Everywoman. We have friends who did things the other way 'round and are likewise happy with the way their lives turned out. Which we took to be pretty much the point of the advice offered by the Salon author: some people make careful plans, some learn by trial and error and painful correction.

And who in the heck is Susan Patton to tell other women how to live their lives? Certainly she's free to offer her advice. And people are free to take it or not, as they see fit. They're free to think (or say, or write) that it's dumb advice. Patton's a big girl, she went about offering her advice in a way that wasn't particularly respectful of other people's sensibilities. Having done this, she isn't in a strong position to complain when they find her tiresome and offensive.

Understandably Grim found the article disheartening, though we'll pass on the time honored practice of insulting anyone who doesn't react the way we did. As with the hot/crazy matrix, it expressed a fair number of uncomfortable truths that upset people. Oddly enough, the Editorial Staff (being unrepentantly female) saw that article completely differently than Grim did. But it would never have occurred to us to dismiss his reaction or infer from it that he was insecure or offer him whatever insults are customary in such situations. And that sadly common mutual disrespect shown by both women and men for each other's feelings, thoughts, and reactions is probably a big part of what produced the kerfuffle over what seems to us in both cases to be somewhat serious points presented in an unserious manner.

The one that offends you may well depend on your life experiences or whether you're male or female. So who's "crazy", or insecure, or humor-impaired now? How about no one?

Posted by Cassandra at 07:29 AM | Comments (85) | TrackBack

August 06, 2014

Busy Week!

The Editorial Staff will get something up during our lunch hour - sorry, guys!

UPDATE: OK, so we lied. After dinner.

Posted by Cassandra at 10:39 AM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

August 04, 2014

Corporations Are People, Too!

Progressives seem to be very confused about whether or not corporations should be treated as people under the law. In the wake of the Hobby Lobby decision, they ridiculed the notion that owners of closely-held corporations (businesses whose shares are owned by a small group of people - generally 5 or fewer) are entitled to the religious protections provided by the Constitution to pretty much every other citizen or business owner.

"Corporations aren't people!", they sneered. Why the very thought is ludicrous!

Fast forward to last week, when the President of the United States (who, before his position mysteriously "evolved", had both feet firmly planted in the "corporations aren't people" camp) proceeded to talk about corporations as though they were living, breathing human beings:

President Barack Obama attacked companies that use cross-border mergers to escape U.S. taxes, accusing them of being “corporate deserters who renounce their citizenship to shield profits.” In remarks at a technical college in Los Angeles today, the president called for a new “economic patriotism” from companies. He also decried those that use corporate inversions to benefit economically by being in the U.S. while adding to the tax burden of middle-income families.

You shouldn’t get to call yourself an American company only when you want a handout from American taxpayers,” he told an audience gathered between palm trees on the campus green.

The President's sudden volte face was confusing: "You" is a personal pronoun ordinarily used to address human beings. And how can corporations be citizens if they're not people? The Constitution and federal law are quite clear on the requirements of citizenship:

All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside."

Citizenship confers certain rights upon those entitled to it:

The right to live and work in the US.

The right to enter and leave the US freely.

The right to vote in the citizen's state of residence and in federal elections (subject to certain restrictions).

The right to run for public office.

Did the President really mean to suggest that corporations - those soul sucking, heartless, non-living entities - possess the rights that usually attend citizenship? If so, then they already have the right to enter and leave the US freely. Do citizens forfeit a right by merely exercising it?

If businesses don't possess these rights in the first place, then in what sense can they be said to have given them up?

Then there's the term, "deserter". Last time we checked, deserters are also people. We don't ascribe human motivations to escaped guinea pigs or inanimate objects that move from one place to another. We don't feel betrayed when they no longer want to live here or stay in one place. They don't owe us anything.

Certainly not loyalty. Or patriotism. Those are emotions generally reserved for humans.

Perhaps inspired by the President's continually evolving logic on the pressing question of corporate citizenship, a Daily Beast writer has declared corporations really *are* people, too!

So far, 47 American-based companies have renounced U.S. citizenship ...

It's nothing short of miraculous that all it took was a decree from Barack the Magnificent to confer citizenship on not-human corporations and then - without so much as a by-your-leave from Congress or the Supreme Court - take it away again! Truly, this must be the most transformational presidency ever.

Our intrepid columnist's reasoning is every bit as impressive as the President's:

1. Almost everyone agrees that high corporate taxes make it hard for US firms to compete with foreign firms that pay far lower taxes.

2. But there's no hope of passing tax reform legislation because Republicans will never support any bill supported by Obama.

3. Oddly, despite the aforementioned impossibility of tax reform, US firms are leaving because of... wait for it... the threat of tax reform. The thing we just argued can't happen because... Republicans!

4. OK, maybe... just maybe tax reform *could* happen. But even if it did, US companies would *still* be paying far higher taxes than their global competitors because lowering corporate taxes to globally competitive rates would drain the Treasury.

So we're back in "It will never happen" land. Corporations are lying about paying higher rates than their competitors, but without all this glorious money they're not paying in taxes, the Treasury will be left penniless and will have to beg on street corners for pocket change. It's all very simple, really. Businesses are paying too much to be globally competitive, but less than they should be paying because of all the "loopholes" in the system. Which means we've got to make them pay more, somehow, than their competitors without rendering them unable to compete or tempting them to send "our" jobs overseas:

A decade ago, soon-to-be Democratic nominee for president, John Kerry railed against “Benedict Arnold CEOs.” That was his term for American executives who moved their business operations offshore. To equate offshoring with something as evil as treason is over the top even by the perfervid standards of political campaigning, but hey, “All’s fair…,” right? Well, not exactly. It turns out that the very corporations Kerry was excoriating were leaving the States due to policies adopted or perpetuated by the very Congress in which Kerry himself then sat.

Take, for example, the iconic candy manufacturer Lifesavers and their venerable competitor, Brach’s. Both companies had moved abroad (Lifesavers to Montreal, Brach’s to Mexico) not long prior to Kerry’s incendiary remarks. They did this not for the purpose of hurting America, but to improve their odds of survival in a very competitive global market.

These companies decided to leave the U.S. because the domestic price of sugar was twice as high as the world price due to Congress’s protectionist policies. It’s difficult for a business to survive if it has to pay significantly more than its competition for one of its principal factors of production. I’m sure the executives would have preferred to stay in Holland, Michigan (Lifesavers) and Chicago (Brach’s) than go to the expense and disruption of moving, but the congressionally-imposed cost disadvantage they faced drove them away. For Kerry and other opportunistic pols to condemn those CEOs for leaving after they themselves had virtually driven them out takes a lot of chutzpah. Isn’t that what liberals call “blaming the victim?”

Lest you become distracted or confused by all this talk of deserters, traitors, or Benedict Arnolds stealing "our" jobs, the Editorial Staff should spell it out for you. When American businesses merge with foreign firms (an entirely legal process known as corporate inversion) to lower their tax bills while still paying taxes on income earned in the United States, they are being unpatriotic and stealing jobs and money from their fellow citizens.

When the Obama campaign, while talking about high unemployment and selfish, traitorous businesses, deliberately hires foreign workers to do jobs struggling Americans could easily perform, this is called ... foreign aid. No American jobs were "stolen".

Code words are important here, because they suggest duplicitous behavior and malicious intent:

...two words used by the critics of corporate inversions that stood out to me: “loophole” and “unfair.” The Obama administration, Mr. Stein, et al., say that Washington needs to “close a loophole” in the tax code that allows businesses to move offshore—even though such a move wouldn’t shield them from paying taxes on their U.S. based operations. Such phraseology bears the stench of tyranny. It implies that businesses shouldn’t be free to leave this country without the government’s permission. By what principle of justice are businesses to be held captive by the government? For what crime have they forfeited the right to go where they want? Yet, Team Obama is now publicly floating plans to erect a sort of financial Berlin Wall to keep these alleged “unpatriotic deserters” from leaving. How sad: for generations, people wanted to come to America to be free; now, some Americans feel like they need to escape a predatory government with an insatiable thirst for revenue.

Whereas talk of "fairness", social justice, economic patriotism, helping people fairly radiate pureness of heart and only the very best of intentions. It's impossible for someone who feels your pain to send "American" jobs to Canada or the Philippines. A President who cares about the middle class can't possibly be suspected of an arrogant power grab that bypasses both Congress and the courts.

And if you're a loyal and patriotic American, you'll get behind whatever he does. Or risk forfeiting your citizenship.

Posted by Cassandra at 07:52 PM | Comments (31) | TrackBack

August 02, 2014

Stop Hatin' All the Time, Mr. President

Stop hatin':

“If [Republicans] bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun,” Obama said. “Because from what I understand folks in Philly like a good brawl. I’ve seen Eagles fans.”

Stop urging minorities to view Republicans as their "enemies":

“If Latinos sit out the election instead of saying, ‘We’re going to punish our enemies and we’re gonna reward our friends who stand with us on issues that are important to us,’ if they don’t see that kind of upsurge in voting in this election, then I think it’s going to be harder and that’s why I think it’s so important that people focus on voting on November 2.”

Stop questioning the patriotism of anyone who opposes your policies:

... just last week, on David Letterman’s show, that Obama said, “One thing I’ve never tried to do and I think none of us can do in public office is suggest that because someone doesn’t agree with me that they’re victims or they’re unpatriotic.”

In fact, in 2008, Obama said, “Number 43 added four trillion dollars [to the national debt] by his lonesome…that’s irresponsible, that’s unpatriotic.” Obama, of course, has been adding to the debt at double the rate of his predecessor.

Now he’s running an ad saying his platform is a “new economic patriotism,” tacitly inviting viewers to think of opposing views as unpatriotic.

Don't slander law abiding American business owners:

President Barack Obama attacked companies that use cross-border mergers to escape U.S. taxes, accusing them of being “corporate deserters who renounce their citizenship to shield profits.”

In remarks at a technical college in Los Angeles today, the president called for a new “economic patriotism” from companies. He also decried those that use corporate inversions to benefit economically by being in the U.S. while adding to the tax burden of middle-income families.

You shouldn’t get to call yourself an American company only when you want a handout from American taxpayers,” he told an audience gathered between palm trees on the campus green.

And while you're at it you might explain how, if corporations aren't people, they can "renounce their citizenship"? If corporations aren't people, why does the President refer to them with personal pronouns?

Try working with Congress for a change, instead of fighting them:

"They are fired up. They are mobilized. They see an opportunity to take back the House, maybe take back the Senate," he said. "If they're successful in doing that, they've already said they're going to go back to the same policies that were in place during the Bush administration. That means that we are going to have just hand-to-hand combat up here on Capitol Hill."

Don't equate political tactics used by both parties with violent crime:

Obama: I use ‘calm’ rhetoric, unlike ‘hostage takers’

And don't allow your spokespeople to do so:

In recent weeks, however, Obama and his aides and Democratic allies have accused the Republican legislators of being anarchists, suicide-bombers, hostage-takers, arsonists, political terrorists, fanatics, blackmailers, and ideological crusaders.

“What we’re not for is negotiating with people with a bomb strapped to their chest,” Dan Pfeiffer, Obama’s top media adviser, said in a CNN interview this week.

Republicans “have shut down the government over an ideological crusade to deny affordable health insurance to millions of Americans,” Obama told reporters Tuesday.

The crisis will end “when Republicans realize they don’t get to hold the entire economy hostage over ideological demands,” Obama told the reporters gathered in the White House’s briefing room.

Stop misusing the power of the presidency to persecute and intimidate Republican business owners:

Four individuals were listed under the heading Donors who benefit from betting against America while four were categorized as special interest donors. After each name, the campaign listed deeds that they find “less-than-reputable” or reflective of being “on the wrong side of the law” or making “profits at the expense of so many Americans.”

Each name was then tweeted out by the @TruthTeam2012 twitter handle with similar charges, and the list was also disseminated by email to a grassroots network of Truth Team volunteers – calling on their vast grassroots network of volunteers to spread the word and vilify the eight individuals.

Among those targeted was Melaleuca CEO Frank VanderSloot – a Romney donor who has contributed $1 million to the Romney campaign – who was smeared as being a “litigious, combative and a bitter foe of the gay rights movement.”

VanderSloot has since been subjected to what Kimberly Strassel refers to as “slimy trolling into a citizen’s private life.”

Don't tell Americans who don't agree with your policies to shut up and sit in the back of the bus. The irony is particularly rich for a President who keeps harping on wrongs committed against blacks during the Jim Crow era. Unless, of course, you're suggesting that Republicans should be treated as second-class citizens:

Stop referring to legitimately elected Republicans as "unprincipled absolutists", because you're implying that the voters who elected them can safely be ignored:

Absolutism, as defined by Merriam-Webster, is a form of despotism - “government by an absolute ruler or authority.” That the president of the United States is accusing his democratically-elected opponents of acting in a tyrannical fashion is a remarkable development with potentially profound implications.

Once the president’s opponents have been defined in the American mind as despotically inclined, unsusceptible to reason, and unwilling to play by the normal rules of politics, it is only natural that extreme measures are permitted in response.

This White House has already shown a propensity toward ruling by executive fiat - whether by executive action that effectively enacts rejected legislation, by refusing to enforce existing law, or by crafting rules for legislation to grant vast new powers to bureaucrats.

Once it has de-legitimized the opposition, the White House can claim it is left with no choice but to accelerate and expand its use of executive power. What else can they do, the president and his operatives will argue, when faced with the insanity of the Republicans?

When a public servant displays such stunning contempt for the people he was elected to serve, he is literally inviting reciprocal contempt. Americans who disagreed with progressive policies long before Barack Obama was elected are not racists simply because they refuse to surrender their long held beliefs, shut up, and meekly sit at the back of the bus. That's no message for someone who claims to want to end racial and political divisions.

People who disagree with you are not just "typical white people" or backward, bitter clingers to guns and religion. Describing your fellow human beings like that is both contemptuous and dismissive.

But perhaps most importantly, it represents a betrayal of everything you claimed to believe back in 2008. You're supposed to be a leader. If you want people to follow you or work with you, try setting an example worthy of the office you hold.

Posted by Cassandra at 09:58 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

August 01, 2014

Friday Low Hanging Fruit...

...err... so to speak:


Between Biden’s “lack of consideration as evidenced by” his naked aquatics and his supposedly incessant last-minute schedule changes, “being assigned to his detail is considered the second worst assignment in the Secret Service,” Kessler writes.

Coming in at No. 1, per Kessler: Protecting Hillary Clinton.

The 2016 Presidential campaign may be far more entertaining than anything in our wildest dreams.

Posted by Cassandra at 11:16 AM | Comments (7) | TrackBack