Baby's Got Bank
My bank lets you bring in any resident of the county, as long as they're well-behaved. Unruly children are tied to parking meters outside. (Okay, just kidding, but it's a fantasy I've had.)
Aida, however, sat very patiently in my lap for an hour yesterday at the bank. (There's a bit of sticky tree in her hair that I had to wait till we got home to extract but she didn't even complain about that.)
The Religion Of Pieces: Hacked Off Body Parts
In Spain, a group of Muslims were planning to behead a random person in Barcelona, writes Soeren Kern at the Gatestone Institute. (This is what Islam demands of them -- more on that below.)
Prosecutors allege that, among other plots, the group was planning to kidnap a random member of the public, dress their victim in an orange jump suit, and then film him or her being beheaded. The group also allegedly planned to kidnap for ransom the female branch manager of Banco Sabadell, a local Catalan bank, as a way to finance their terrorist activities. Apparently, the beheading was intended to induce the bank to pay the ransom.
The suspects are ten men and one woman, all between the ages of 17 and 45. Five of suspects are Spanish citizens, five are from Morocco and one is from Paraguay.
The ringleader of the cell has been identified as Antonio Sáez Martínez, a Spaniard who converted to Islam after marrying a Muslim woman. Also known as "Ali the Barber," Martínez worked as a hairdresser in Barberà del Vallès, a suburb of Barcelona.
According to a ten-page detention order signed by Santiago Pedraz, a judge at the high court (Audiencia Nacional) in Madrid, Spanish intelligence listened in on at least four telephone conversations between Martínez and other members of the cell in which they talked about radical Islam and planned attacks in Catalonia. Potential targets included police and military installations, as well as the Catalan Parliament building.
Martínez is an acquaintance of a Spanish neo-Nazi ideologue named Diego José Frías Álvarez. The two are said to share a mutual hatred of Jews and allegedly discussed bombing Jewish targets in Barcelona, including synagogues and Jewish-owned businesses.
Unfortunately, beheading is commanded by the Quran and elsewhere in Islam. (The "prophet's" deeds -- often slaughtering people for profit or the slightest insult -- are to be emulated in Islam.) Timothy R. Furnish writes about Beheading in the Name of Islam at the Middle East Quarterly:
Decapitation in Islamic Theology Groups such as Abu Mus'ab al-Zarqawi's Al-Tawhid wa al-Jihad (Unity and Jihad) and Abu 'Abd Allah al-Hasan bin Mahmud's Ansar al-Sunna (Defenders of [Prophetic] Tradition) justify the decapitation of prisoners with Qur'anic scripture. Sura (chapter) 47 contains the ayah (verse): "When you encounter the unbelievers on the battlefield, strike off their heads until you have crushed them completely; then bind the prisoners tightly." The Qur'anic Arabic terms are generally straightforward: kafaru means "those who blaspheme/are irreligious," although Darb ar-riqab is less clear. Darb can mean "striking or hitting" while ar-riqab translates to "necks, slaves, persons." With little variation, scholars have translated the verse as, "When you meet the unbelievers, smite their necks."
For centuries, leading Islamic scholars have interpreted this verse literally. The famous Iranian historian and Qur'an commentator Muhammad b. Jarir at-Tabari (d. 923 C.E.) wrote that "striking at the necks" is simply God's sanction of ferocious opposition to non-Muslims. Mahmud b. Umar az-Zamakhshari (d. 1143 C.E.), in a major commentary studied for centuries by Sunni religious scholars, suggested that any prescription to "strike at the necks" commands to avoid striking elsewhere so as to confirm death and not simply wound.
...The practice of beheading non-Muslim captives extends back to the Prophet himself. Ibn Ishaq (d. 768 C.E.), the earliest biographer of Muhammad, is recorded as saying that the Prophet ordered the execution by decapitation of 700 men of the Jewish Banu Qurayza tribe in Medina for allegedly plotting against him. Islamic leaders from Muhammad's time until today have followed his model. Examples of decapitation, of both the living and the dead, in Islamic history are myriad. Yusuf b. Tashfin (d. 1106) led the Al-Murabit (Almoravid) Empire to conquer from western Sahara to central Spain. After the battle of Zallaqa in 1086, he had 24,000 corpses of the defeated Castilians beheaded "and piled them up to make a sort of minaret for the muezzins who, standing on the piles of headless cadavers, sang the praises of Allah." He then had the detached heads sent to all the major cities of North Africa and Spain as an example of Christian impotence. The Al-Murabits were conquered the following century by the Al-Muwahhids (Almohads), under whose rule Castilian Christian enemies were beheaded after any lost battles.
The Ottoman Empire was the decapitation state par excellence. Upon the Ottoman victory over Christian Serbs at the battle of Kosovo in 1389, the Muslim army beheaded the Serbian king and scores of Christian prisoners. At the battle of Varna in 1444, the Ottomans beheaded King Ladislaus of Hungary and "put his head at the tip of a long pike ... and brandished it toward the Poles and Hungarians." Upon the fall of Constantinople, the Ottomans sent the head of the dead Byzantine emperor on tour to major cities in the sultan's domains. The Ottomans even beheaded at least one Eastern Orthodox patriarch. In 1456, the sultan allowed the grand mufti of the empire to personally decapitate King Stephen of Bosnia and his sons--even though they had surrendered and, seven decades later, the sultan ordered 2,000 Hungarian prisoners beheaded. In the early nineteenth century, even the British fell victim to the Ottoman scimitar. An 1807 British expedition to Egypt resulted in "a few hundred spiked British heads left rotting in the sun outside Rosetta."
Bruce Jenner: Transgender And Says He Has The "Soul Of A Female"
I turned the TV on and he was on with Dianne Sawyer talking about being transgender. I hadn't heard him speak before, and I found him a very likable and sweet guy, and I was filled with compassion for him for what he's been through and is going through. A few excerpts from LAist, from Emma G. Gallegos:
What took him so long: "Why now? I just can't pull the curtain any longer, okay? I've built a nice little life. I just can't...again, Bruce lives a lie but 'she' is not a lie. I can't do it any more." He added, "If I die, which, I could be diagnosed next week with cancer--and boom you're gone. I would be so mad at myself that I didn't explore that side of me. You know? And I don't want that to happen."
On hiding in plain site:
"I had the story. We had done 425 episodes I think, over almost eight years, and the entire run I kept thinking to myself, 'Oh my god, this whole thing.' The one real true story in the family was the one I was hiding and nobody knew about it. The one thing that could really make a difference in people's lives was right here in my soul and I could not tell that story."
On whether it's all a publicity stunt:
"Are you telling me I'm going to go through a complete gender change--okay?--and go for everything you need to do for that for the show? Sorry Diane: it ain't happening, okay? We're doing this for publicity? Yeah right. Oh my god, do you have any idea of what I've been going through all my life and they're going to say I'm doing this for publicity for a show?"
He hopes coming out will help others:
"What I'm doing is going to do some good, and we're going to change the world. I really firmly believe that we're going to make a difference in the world with what we're doing. And if the whole Kardashian show and reality television gave me that foothold into that world to be able to go out there and do something good, I'm all for it. I got no problem with that."
Kim, he says, has been the most supportive. She told him, if he's going to do this -- be public: "Girl, you gotta rock it, baby; you gotta look good. You gotta look really good."
Good for him for coming out.
Shake Your Boobies (To The Song, Bye, Bye Civil Liberties Pie...)
As Lisa Simeone, who sent me the piece, wrote in an email:
If people don't recognize that this is all of a piece -- the "war on drugs," the "war on terror," the loss of our civil liberties in general -- they have their heads up you know where.
This particular story involves 13-year-old girls who were forced to strip and "shake" their breasts in a school search for pot -- with a male security guard or male security guards present (the identity of the second man seems unclear).
Yes, a school search for marijuana, not handguns. This search is about administrators and security guards wanting to "win," not protecting anybody from any meaningful danger.
Beau Yarbrough writes for The San Bernadino Sun:
The mother of a Serrano Middle School student says the San Bernardino City Unified School District stepped over the line while searching her daughter and another student for concealed drugs.
"Both students were escorted to the office of Serrano Middle School by the Vice-Principal, Mrs. Shenita Stevenson and the school security guard," Anita Wilson-Pringle wrote in an article posted online. "Each girl was taken into a room accompanied by Ms. Stevenson and another unknown person (whom the kids assume is another security guard) a tall white male. The girls were then searched. Not just your standard pat-down, which is by all means legal, but they were told to take off clothing."
According to Wilson-Pringle, her daughter and another girl -- ages 15 and 13 respectively -- were told to take off their bras and shake their breasts. Both girls were also told to shake out their pants. When one girl balked, she was reportedly threatened with arrest if she failed to comply.
School officials found two bottles in Wilson-Pringle's daughter's bag, one empty, and one with a bit more than a quarter of a gram of marijuana during a drug investigation. Her daughter's bag had been left unattended for almost 40 minutes between the time the girls were pulled out of class and when Wilson-Pringle's daughter called her parents, according to Wilson-Pringle.
Their eighth-grade daughter refused to sign any paperwork and claimed the bottles were not hers, according to Wilson-Pringle. She was ticketed and given a date to appear in court.
The school went out of bounds. From Adam Freedman at Quick And Dirty Tips:
Outside of schools, the Fourth Amendment generally means that the police must have "probable cause" to search a suspect. As Justice David Souter recently summarized, that means police may only conduct a search if there is "a fair possibility or a substantial chance" a search will turn up evidence of a crime.
Inside of schools, the Fourth Amendment has been interpreted differently. Ever since the Supreme Court's 1985 decision in New Jersey v. T.L.O., school officials may search a student's outer clothing -- such as jackets or backpacks -- even if there is only a moderate chance of finding any incriminating evidence.
What About Student Strip Searches?
But the constitutional status of strip searches has been in limbo all these years. In June, the Supreme Court shed light on the issue in the case of Safford v. Redding, a case involving 13-year old Savannah Redding. Redding, who was suspected of distributing prescription medicines around school, was ordered to strip down to her underwear while female school officials peeked under her bra and panties to see whether she had any pills stashed there. After that -- and I hope you're sitting down for this --a lawsuit followed.
The Supreme Court held that any search that requires a student to expose his or her private parts "to some degree" is "categorically distinct" under the Constitution. In other words, it requires greater justification than a search of the outer clothing. Specifically, the Court said that a school may conduct this sort of panty-raid only if school officials have evidence that the item they suspect is concealed is actually dangerous in terms of power (say, a gun) or quantity (say, a bottle of pills), OR they must have some evidence indicating that the contraband item is hidden in that particular student's underwear.
Trigger Warnings: A Form Of Covert Narcissism
I've thought this for a while. They are yet another way for people who have done nothing noteworthy to get attention and have unearned power over others.
Liz posts at feelsandreels:
Kent University's professor of sociology Frank Furedi claims that calls for trigger warnings are a form of "narcissism," with a student's desire to assert their own importance acting as more of a factor than the content they are exposed to.
And about the now practically institutionalized infantilization of college students, she writes:
Despite beginning as a way of conscientiously moderating internet forums for abuse survivors and war veterans (although, I would imagine one seeking out a site for rape survivor discussion would already anticipate the included subject matter), trigger warnings are now serving as a threat to open intellectual discussion and debate, both on and offline. By requiring trigger warnings on classroom material, a message is being sent that an institution is more obligated to provide individualized comfort than an intellectually stimulating environment, and the removal of "triggering material" robs all students of the opportunity to learn about both historical and modern influences on the world they live in.
But, again, that's what these students are going for. They've done nothing; they're nobody. All they have is their ability to stop other students from getting an education that will help them become the somebodies they can never be -- you know, without actual work instead of just sniveling their way into importance.
And as I've noted before: If you are so emotionally traumatized by the normal college curriculum, you do belong in an institution, but not one of "higher learning."
It's NOT Letting "American Sniper" Play On Campus That "Infringes On Certain Freedoms"
Ashley Rae Goldenberg writes at The Daily Caller:
Muslim students at Virginia's largest public university launched a petition to ban the showing of "American Sniper" on campus because the film "perpetuates misleading and negative stereotypes" about Muslims and "romanticizes war" -- even though the offended students haven't even seen the film.
According to the petition created by a group of Muslim organizations at George Mason University, playing "American Sniper" on campus infringes on certain freedoms.
Here, Muslim organizations, is how actual freedom works: You fight speech you dislike with more speech, not by trying to shut down speech.
Gotta love this, too, from their petition:
As thinking humans, we should recognize the issues of morality presented when such a film is shown on campus and sponsored by the Office of Student Involvement whose mission is to 'embrace diversity.'
Islam is about anything but "embracing diversity." You see this in Muslim majority countries, like in Egypt with Copts who cannot open churches and who are slaughtered for being non-Muslim.
Those for whom free speech is too uncomfortable might consider moving to Muslim-majority countries where there's none of that nasty sort of thing.
As a post-Jewish atheist, but one who was raised Jewish and went to temple and all, I supported the neo-Nazis' right to march in heavily Jewish Skokie way back when. And I still support the right of any hate group, no matter how ugly, to march and speak and show whatever ugly movies they want.
This is how freedom works. I'm all for it.
And guess what: It's ultimately better, and healthier, and more encouraging of the flourishing of people -- intellectually, emotionally, financially, and otherwise -- than the sort of state Islam calls for: Totalitarian. (The very translation of Islam is "submission.")
Those dirty rings...
Brilliant. By Glenn Reynolds/Instapundit.
How Pathetic That It's A News Story For An Eight-Year-Old To Walk To Elementary School
Throughout evolutionary history, young children have been given responsibility, including that of the care of younger siblings.
At 8, I walked or rode my bike to Bond Elementary School every day, which was probably a half mile from my parents' house. This is normal behavior.
But these days, in Portland, Maine, it's actually noteworthy -- worthy of a news report! -- that parents are letting their 8-year-old walk to school. Via WGME:
A family in Portland says they're taking on what's called a free range parenting style to give their daughter more independence growing up. While some say the style gives kids too much freedom, Sarah Cushman and Robert Levin say it's simply going back to how they grew up. Their daughter, eight year old Cedar Levin walks to her elementary school in Portland without them.
"She's eight and really well equipped she's pretty mature and is really into exploring the world," said Cushman.
Her daughter, Cedar doesn't walk to school completely alone but with a friend. Cushman feels this is a better way for her to explore the world than with her mom always by her side.
First Person Look At The Kafkaesque "Committee On Sexual Misconduct" At Yale -- And Universities Across America
Via lasttango, from 2014, first-year Harvard law student Patrick Witt explains in the Boston Globe that, in the Title IX-driven kangaroo court at his undergrad alma mater, Yale, he was denied due process rights and it "nearly ruined" his life (and definitely caused substantial harm):
Harvard's new policies are substantially similar to those already in effect at Yale, my alma mater. While an undergraduate there, my ex-girlfriend filed an informal complaint against me with the then-newly-created University-Wide Committee on Sexual Misconduct. The committee summoned me to appear and styled the meeting as a form of mediation. Its chairman, a professor with no prior experience handling dispute resolution, told me that I could have a faculty adviser present but no lawyer, and instructed me to avoid my accuser, who, by that point, I had neither seen nor spoken to in weeks. The committee imposed an "expectation of confidentiality" on me so as to prevent any form of "retaliation" against my accuser.
I would say more about what the accusation itself entailed if indeed I had such information. Under the informal complaint process, specific accusations are not disclosed to the accused, no fact-finding takes place, and no record is taken of the alleged misconduct. For the committee to issue an informal complaint, an accuser need only bring an accusation that, if substantiated, would constitute a violation of university policy concerning sexual misconduct. The informal "process" begins and ends at the point of accusation; the truth of the claim is immaterial.
When I demanded that fact-finding be done so that I could clear my name, I was told, "There's nothing to clear your name of." When I then requested that a formal complaint be lodged against me -- a process that does involve investigation into the facts -- I was told that such a course of action was impossible for me to initiate. At any time, however, my accuser retained the right to raise the complaint to a formal level. No matter, the Committee reassured me, the informal complaint did not constitute a disciplinary proceeding and nothing would be attached to my official record at Yale.
Coincidentally, the same day that my accuser decided to lodge the complaint against me, the news that I had been selected as a finalist for the Rhodes Scholarship had been publicly announced. The news gained national attention, with stories in every major media outlet in print and online, because of my position as Yale's starting quarterback and the fact that my interview date was set for the same day as my last Harvard-Yale football game.
Days after the initial meeting with the University-Wide Committee on Sexual Misconduct, I received a phone call from the Rhodes Trust informing me that they had received an anonymous tip that I had been accused by a fellow student of sexual misconduct. Next came a call from my summer employer, who, having received a similar anonymous tip, rescinded my offer of full-time employment upon graduation.
Months later, long after I had already withdrawn my Rhodes candidacy, the New York Times somehow also learned of the "confidential" complaint made against me, and that the Rhodes Trust had been aware of it. The paper then published a lengthy article revising the narrative of my pursuit of the scholarship and suggesting that I had intentionally misled media into believing a feel-good sports story that never was. The Times' public editor later condemned the piece for using anonymous sources, but the damage was already done; I was publicly humiliated. The memory of being told by the Committee that I had "nothing to clear my name of" was searing.
Yes, an "informal complaint" like this can be filed and a student has little to do in the wake but to try not to lose everything. A little hard to fight charges when they won't tell you what they are. The bedrock rights in our society are now denied to males on campus, and they are seriously imperiled for it.
Here's Minding The Campus with KC Johnson and Harvey Silverglate on the process:
In blunt language, this means that the accused student, Witt in this case, does not have the right within the Yale procedure to cross-examine his accuser. He does not even have the right to present evidence of his innocence. The accusation is accepted at face value, and the purpose of the process is to resolve it in a way that the accusing student feels comfortable. It is on the basis of this sort of complaint, filed under this procedure, that the Rhodes Fellowship decided that it needed to suspend Witt's candidacy. That's nothing short of extraordinary.
The second story that the Times missed, that the Witt case exposed, is that by Yale's own figures, Yale is actually a hotbed of violent crime. Who knew? In the calendar year 2011, there were 13 allegations of sexual assault at Yale, according to Yale's figures. All 13 were filed under this informal complaint process, which means that the accuser never went to police, never received any sort of medical exam, and the accused student never had a right to cross-examine or to present evidence of innocence. To give a sense of how out of whack these figures are, if you accept Yale's standards, on a per capita basis there was more likely to be a sexual assault on the Yale campus, by a factor of between ten and twelve, than in the city of New Haven. And New Haven isn't just any city. According to the FBI, it's the fourth most dangerous city in the country for populations over 100,000. So the Times had one of two stories. Either one of our nation's leading institutions is so dangerous that it's infinitely more crime-ridden than one of the most dangerous cities in the country, or in fact, one of our leading universities is dumbing down sexual assault. It is, in fact, the latter. In a footnote in a lengthy report on this new process, issued by the Yale Deputy Provost, Yale conceded that the university uses, and this is a direct quote, "a more expansive definition of sexual assault than is commonly understood." Indeed, claiming that a "worry" constitutes sexual assault is expansive indeed. And so what a university has done is to take a commonly understood phrase, sexual assault under the law-a phrase that's also basically commonly understood in the general public-and defined it in a way that no one would understand or recognize. That is the real story of the Patrick Witt case.
A final point on Witt. Within this Yale informal complaint process, there is one possible procedural protection that is granted to the accused student, and that is that the process is supposed to be wholly confidential. So the accused student cannot present evidence of his innocence. He can't cross-examine the accuser. He is presumed guilty. But at least he has the benefit of knowing that it won't become public, or at least it won't become public immediately. In Yale's case, and in the case of Witt, even that one incredibly minor procedural protection was violated. And not only was it violated, it was violated with a malevolent intent. Whoever leaked this information to the Rhodes Trust, and it's a very discrete number of people who could have leaked this (either someone associated with the accuser, or I would say more likely, someone within the Yale administration), the goal was to sink Witt's Rhodes candidacy. And that leakage in turn led to the coverage in the Times and the permanent smearing of Witt's reputation. This morning, before I came over, I did a Google search, Patrick Witt, sexual assault, it yielded 33,600 hits. This is what Witt is now remembered for. There is absolutely no evidence that Yale is investigating this breach of its procedures, I emailed the Yale University spokesperson to ask if an investigation was occurring. He declined to respond. And there is no indication that at any point in the future Yale is going to investigate this breach of procedures. Indeed, it seems as if the university is not terribly concerned with assault if the issue is assault of privacy against one of its students. And that is the story of Patrick Witt.
Again, if you're sending sons to college, I suggest putting some money aside so they and some buddies can timeshare an escort. Sadly, the best advice you can give them to preserve their rights and future is to avoid all college women throughout their time in college.
Unpaid Student Loans In Tennessee? Geniuses May Take Away Your Prof'l License
The smartypants at the Tennessee Student Assistance Corporation have a bright idea about how to get people to pay their student loans: Take away their professional license.
Yes, that's right -- make it impossible for people to work in the likeliest legal way for themto make money.
That'll show 'em!
Chris Butler writes at Watchdog:
Default on your loans and the Tennessee Student Assistance Corporation will find you and contact the respective state boards, which can suspend your license.
...Tennessee law had never applied to Rebecca Lindeman, who is from Pennsylvania and now disabled. She doesn't like the law.
"Given these times I think it's unfair if you're making an effort to pay them," said Lindeman, who had to get a license from the federal government to work as a veterinary technician.
"Student loans are ridiculously high. I know I owed more on mine before I became disabled and, before they were forgiven, I owed more on them than I did on buying my house. Without the disability forgiveness I would have lost everything."
TSAC spokeswoman Jane Pennington said state officials only take action after trying to reach out to the borrower for 270 days.
And no, government never sends the bill to the wrong address or anything. Just like the IRS would never hang up on, oh, 8.1 million confused citizens calling with tax questions.
Just like Detroit never shuts off the water of one guy because some other guy entirely didn't pay his bill.
Here's a problem with these student loans in general. If I'm going to buy a house and want a loan, they do some sort of look-seeing to make sure there's some possibility the loan will be repaid.
Not so with student loans.
Want to get your Ph.D. in underwater Tibetan feminist basketweaving? Well, here's a pile of money!
Until that changes -- until loans are tied to likelihood of their being paid back, well, there's going to be a lot of defaulting.
P.S. Basketweaving is hard as fuck. I actually went to a summer of art school at the University of Michigan. As far as I can remember, I don't think I was entirely driven to basketweave; I think I just thought it funny to say I'd taken that class, and figured I'd get something out of it.
Your dungeon or mine?
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Daddy Should Worry More About How His Daughter Will Treat Guys On Campus, Who Have Lost Their Due Process Rights
There's a story in the New York Post about David Letterman trotting out one of the world's most tired "jokes," "Treat a lady like a wh-e, and a wh-e like a lady."
It apparently took three reporters to pen this blockbuster investigative piece in the Post. Emily Smith, Jennifer Bain and Bruce Golding write:
The joke -- a version of a saying attributed to 1930s screenwriter Wilson Mizner -- was met with stunned silence, the source said.
They go on to quote somebody's daddy:
Jerry Stockton, a retiree from Virginia, called the crack "disrespectful to women, and women should never be disrespected."
"My daughter is going to college in September and I worry how guys will treat her," he added.
Jerry hasn't been paying attention to the news and how, under Title IX, due process has been removed from men on campus, and campus kangaroo courts (a professor or two and some girl who's late to poli-sci) are judging their guilt.
Oh, and about that: Men now have the standard of guilty until they prove themselves innocent, and the likely ruin of their college careers if they aren't convincing in that in what can amount to a he said/she said situation.
Worse yet, if a man and woman were both drinking and had sex, the man is guilty and the woman is the victim.
And in California, if under these kangaroo court terms, a guy is decided to be "guilty," he would be suspended from school for two years if a proposed bill passes.
How's that for equality?!
Huh? @BarackObama shuns saying 'genocide' on 100th anniversary of Armenian Genocide because he doesn't want Turkey to feel bad?
From the History.com link above:
GENOCIDE BEGINS On April 24, 1915, the Armenian genocide began. That day, the Turkish government arrested and executed several hundred Armenian intellectuals. After that, ordinary Armenians were turned out of their homes and sent on death marches through the Mesopotamian desert without food or water. Frequently, the marchers were stripped naked and forced to walk under the scorching sun until they dropped dead. People who stopped to rest were shot.
At the same time, the Young Turks created a "Special Organization," which in turn organized "killing squads" or "butcher battalions" to carry out, as one officer put it, "the liquidation of the Christian elements." These killing squads were often made up of murderers and other ex-convicts. They drowned people in rivers, threw them off cliffs, crucified them and burned them alive. In short order, the Turkish countryside was littered with Armenian corpses.
Records show that during this "Turkification"campaign government squads also kidnapped children, converted them to Islam and gave them to Turkish families. In some places, they raped women and forced them to join Turkish "harems" or serve as slaves. Muslim families moved into the homes of deported Armenians and seized their property.
In 1922, when the genocide was over, there were just 388,000 Armenians remaining in the Ottoman Empire.
Bush also shunned the genocide label, but our current President, as a candidate in 2008, promised he'd acknowledge it.
Yes, there are some political concerns -- military bases, the piece linked at The Blaze explains, but shouldn't a man running for president consider that before he blusters about what a different sort of fellow he'll be in The White House?
Easy come, easy go!
Government As The Blob
I saw on my phone the other day that I could ride-share on Uber for $5. Well, I could -- if I didn't get carsick from going more than a short distance and a few turns. (Working on that, and no, I don't have a brain tumor, BPPV, or Meniere's Disease, thanks!)
Anyway, how crazy is it that paid carpooling is actually in need of being legalized in California? Reason's Adrian Moore (@reasonpolicy) tweets that it's "anti-capitalism run amok."
At the LA Times, Tracy Lien writes that a new CA bill could legalize paid carpooling:
Carpooling is one of the most popular services transport network companies like Uber, Lyft and Sidecar offer, but it faces a problem. Under California law, paid carpooling is prohibited.
Assemblyman Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) is hoping to change that.
Introducing AB 1360 on Monday, Ting said the bill would change a Californian law written in 1961 that doesn't allow passengers in a commercial ride to each be charged separately for sharing the ride.
"We have long encouraged public transit and carpooling to reduce traffic and air pollution," Ting said. "We cannot extend this mindset to ride-sharing without changing a 50-year-old law predating the Internet."
..."[The bill] accomplishes what needs to be done, which is allowing multiple people to share a vehicle that are heading in the same direction," said Lyft's director of public affairs, David Mack. "I think there's going to be pretty swift adoption of it."
I'm guessing that there are lobbyists who will wake up and come out against it -- just like they are for the automakers, in trying to stop gearheads from working on their own cars.
Sorry, But Your Dog's Guilty Look Probably Has Little To Do With Actual Guilt
Researcher Julie Hecht writes at Sci Am that research has not found that a dog's "guilty look" necessarily corresponds with dog's knowledge of some misdeed:
In 2009, Alexandra Horowitz of Barnard College (and author of "Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell, and Know") published a study in Behavioural Processes exploring what precedes the "guilty look." By varying both the dog's behavior (either eating or not eating a disallowed treat) and the owner's behavior (either scolding or not scolding), Horowitz was able to isolate what the dog's "guilty look" was associated with. She found that the guilty look did not appear more when the dogs had done something wrong. Instead, the "guilty look" popped out in full form when the owner scolded the dog. In fact, Horowitz also found that when scolded, the most exaggerated guilt look was performed by dogs who had not eaten the treat but were scolded anyway because the owner thought the dog had eaten it. In a multi-dog household, a dog could easily look guilty without ever having transgressed.
"But wait!" cries the peanut gallery. "It can't only be about scolding." The claim is as follows: you come home only to be greeted by your beloved dog, this time, with low posture, ears back, squinty eyes, lip licking and a tail wagging low and quick. Or maybe the dog is under the bed and won't budge. You enter the kitchen and find that the dog has done a lovely job rearranging the trash all over the floor. Not your design of choice, but you can see what he was getting at. In this context, owners claim dogs show the "guilty look" prior to an owner discovering the misdeed. This, they claim, indicates that dogs know they have done something wrong because the owner is not scolding yet.
In 2010, I investigated this scenario while conducting research with the Family Dog Project in Budapest. In the experiment, published in Applied Animal Behaviour Science in 2012, dogs had the opportunity to break a rule (that food on a table is for humans and not dogs) while the owner was out of the room. When the owner returned, but before they saw whether the dog ate the food, the dogs who ate were not more likely to look guilty than those who did not eat. We also wondered whether owners would be better able to recognize their dog's transgression in their behavior than a researcher simply coding for the presence of the commonly assigned "look." Owners who had previously witnessed their dog attending to the rule were not able to identify whether or not their dog had transgressed in their absence. The study did not find that owners could identify a "guilty dog" without scolding.
She also points out that the joke of dog shaming photos works because the dogs do not look guilty. I dunno. I think this pug in the photo kinda does, but maybe that's just my human need to attribute something that they're looking into in these studies. (Then again, I suspect that many of these dogs at the dog shaming site have gotten a talking to.)
Shockingly, Miss Millennial,The Workplace Is About Work And Not Your Need To Wear Outfits That Show Your Sexy Originality
Via Julie Borowski at The Libertarian Republic, a girl goes on a rant about her job rejection over her inability to understand that one's precious originality and need to dress for clubs in daytime may not be an employer's priority.
As Borowski, apparently also a Millennial -- but a more realistic one -- also writes:
I hate to throw my own generation under the bus, but that status precisely sums up why employers hate hiring millenials. We're entitled. We're classless. We're wholly unprepared for the real life outside of college "safe spaces." (Oh my god. I sound so old. Where's my cane?!")
How you present yourself matters. It says a lot about you. That might require investing in an outfit a step above Charlotte Russe and Forever 21 to get the job you want. This isn't patriarchal oppression. If a dude showed up wearing something "mildly sexual" for a job interview, he'd probably be escorted from the building. It just isn't the time or place for all that.
There's a really hilarious bit in there about the "ball and chain" women must "drag behind us." Which is her interpretation of the horrible requirement that work be about work and not about one's personal need to look goth in the workplace.
I suspect that this girl comes off in person as she does in a Facebook post: As an entitled drama queen. Yes, all of us who employ people are looking for just that in an employee.
Sometimes, Doing It The Scary, Imperiling Way Is The Way You Change Things Back To Sane
KJ Dell'Antonia at The New York Times' MotherLode thinks the Meitivs should have just sucked it up and gone along with repressive government demands that they parent the way the government says they should.
These are the Maryland parents, Danielle and Alexander Meitiv, whose children were once again in the custody of Montgomery County Child Protective Services. But first, the backstory:
The Meitivs are the family whose 10- and 6-year-old children were stopped by the police while walking home from the park on a (busy, urban) Maryland street and driven home (over the older child's protests). The family was investigated by the local Child Protective Services and were found responsible for "unsubstantiated child neglect."
A neighbor apparently saw the children walking alone yesterday evening and called 911. A local television station reported the children were walking about a third of a mile from home at the time. Danielle Meitiv said they were supposed to be home by 6; when the children didn't arrive, she and her husband began searching for them. They were not, she said, notified that the children were in custody until 8 p.m., and weren't allowed to see them until 10:30, when the parents were asked to sign an agreement promising not to leave the children unattended before taking them home. They did.
The initial stopping of the children on their way home from the park resparked the continuing conversation about whether children are more hemmed in than they were in the past. As a broader matter, that's a good thing; it encourages parents to think about whether we're letting our children have the kinds of age-appropriate experiences that teach the lessons of independence we need as adults.
The specifics, though, worried local parents, who knew intimately the walk that the Meitiv children were taking, which crosses busy intersections with three to four lanes in either direction.
I crossed busy streets with four lanes at age 8. I also went to the park and rode miles and miles to the cider mill on my bike all by myself not long afterward.
Here's the "give into the state" gutless model -- rather than questioning the imposition of state power -- that is so pervasive in our society, and why we still have a pointless groping of diapered, 79-year-old blind grandmothers' genitalia at the airport. Dell'Antonia writes:
It's a fundamental principle of my parenting that I don't sit down with my children to help them with their homework every night. I don't believe in doing that, and I don't think it's helpful for them.
That said, if our local version of Child Protective Services took my children into custody for that choice, and told me that if we didn't change, they might do it again -- I would sit down with my children every night and help them with their homework, and find other ways to promote their independence.
Question nothing. Stand up for nothing. Great that this is what you will teach your children.
Thanks, but I'd rather live in a world populating by people like the Meitivs, who stand up for their principles.
Interestingly, I find that it is often immigrants to this country who value our freedoms the most -- in the way our founding fathers did. That is, to the point where they are or were willing to risk what is most precious to them -- their right to raise their children or even their lives -- in order to preserve what is most precious to all of us (or should be): Our civil liberties.
American Airlines Seems To Be Doing Business In The Fax Era
You put your credit card in for your ticket, and instead of the charge saying it's gone through, there's a "ticket pending" notice. I bet they get a lot of calls about this.
Instead of how other airlines do things -- and how pretty much every other purchase I ever make on the Internet works -- they don't email you a confirmation.
Bought my flight maybe 45 minutes before writing this blog post and there's still not a hint that I've actually done so in my email box. Annoying.
Also, I called up the airline and a lady said, "Oh, it says ticket pending until they actually ticket you."
How long does this take?
"Depends on how backed up they are," she says.
Do they have howler monkeys stamping a pile of tickets coming down a conveyer belt?
And then there's the question of baggage. I travel like Liz Taylor but sans entourage and with crappier luggage. On every other airline, I pay for it in advance -- to save money and so I can just drop my bag off with the Skypcap.
Well, American also doesn't have online baggage payment. Hellooo, long line at airport!
Now, I'm just hoping the planes won't be powered by men peddling stationery bicycles.
Boot The Messenger! United's Response To Accusations Of Lax On-Plane Security
Jack Gilliam writes for the AP that UAL stopped a security researcher Chris Roberts from boarding his California-bound flight on Saturday in the wake of his tweets suggesting the airline's onboard systems could be hacked:
Roberts had been removed from an earlier United flight Wednesday by the FBI after landing in Syracuse, New York, and was questioned for four hours after jokingly suggesting on Twitter he could get the oxygen masks on the plane to deploy. Authorities also seized Roberts' laptop and other electronics, although his lawyer says he hasn't seen a search warrant.
A lawyer for Roberts said United gave him no detailed explanation Saturday why he wasn't allowed on the plane, saying instead the airline would be sending Roberts a letter within two weeks stating why they wouldn't let him fly on their aircraft.
"Given Mr. Roberts' claims regarding manipulating aircraft systems, we've decided it's in the best interest of our customers and crew members that he not be allowed to fly United," airline spokesman Rahsaan Johnson told The Associated Press. "However, we are confident our flight control systems could not be accessed through techniques he described."
...When asked what threat Roberts posed if United's systems couldn't be compromised, Johnson said Sunday: "We made this decision because Mr. Roberts has made comments about having tampered with aircraft equipment, which is a violation of United policy and something customers and crews shouldn't have to deal with."
Roberts also told CNN he was able to connect to a box under his seat at least a dozen times to view data from the aircraft's engines, fuel and flight-management systems.
"It is disappointing that United refused to allow him to board, and we hope that United learns that computer security researchers are a vital ally, not a threat," said Nate Cardozo, a staff attorney with the San Francisco-based Electronic Frontier Foundation, which represents Roberts.
Cardozo said Sunday he hasn't seen a copy of a search warrant that would have been used to seize Roberts' electronics, and that he's working to get the devices returned.
Geniuses. Yes, the "solution" is keeping the guy off the airline rather than talking to him about what he knows -- and finding out if he is, indeed, telling the truth -- and using this to fill any security holes.
The TSA: Giving Terrorists Exactly What They Wanted
Ned Levi writes at Consumer Traveler that it takes only examining the TSA's budget -- of which 79 percent is spent for airport screening and only 4 percent is spent for intelligence -- to see their security priorities are upside down.
Yes, only 4 percent for intelligence. The rest goes for repurposed mall food court workers who will, among other things, feel your hoohoo for plastic explosives. Even if you are a 79-year-old grandma from Peoria and your most suspicious act is frequently leaving your bifocals on top of your car as you drive away from church.:
The priorities shown in TSA's budget make no sense. Setting aside so much of their budget to screen law abiding citizen travelers tells me fear and mistrust of the American people seem to be the guiding principles of TSA.
It appears TSA doesn't understand the terrorists' goal. Simply put, terrorists aim to terrorize, to coerce or intimidate people by causing fear. Their goal isn't to kill individual people, but make them afraid, very afraid. They might use explosives to blow up or crash planes as tactics, but their goal is terror, and to make us react so radically that we give up on who we are and what we stand for as a nation. TSA is playing directly into terrorist hands by adopting the terrorists' own strategy of fear, humiliation and dehumanization, and applying it to the American traveling public.
...At TSA airport checkpoints we see TSA humiliation and dehumanization of passengers. There continues to be a documented disregard for air traveler health at TSA checkpoints. TSA treats air travelers as if they are idiots, with absurd, arbitrary regulations which do nothing to increase security. TSA suspends our Constitutional freedoms every time we go through a TSA checkpoint. Much of what occurs at TSA checkpoints may actually make us more vulnerable than ever before while we're aloft.
...• The Fourth Amendment to the Constitution protects US citizens, in part, by prohibiting unreasonable searches and seizures. It requires a warrant for searches and seizures and "probable cause" is required to obtain the warrant, yet every day air travelers are subjected to TSA agents performing enhanced pat-downs, including rubbing passengers' genital areas, without probable cause, nor the lessor standard of reasonable suspicion, or a warrant.
TSA needs to get a grip on itself and stop letting the terrorists win. They must eliminate their tactic of traveler humiliation and dehumanization. TSA's fear tactics do nothing to protect us from dedicated, professional, trained terrorists.
Let's get back to pre-9/11 security, which was effective in stopping the odd amateur terrorist. Let's treat our citizens traveling by air with dignity, and keep their Constitutional rights intact.
He gives some great examples of the absurdity that passes for security in his piece, like how a gun decoration on the side of the purse is supposedly a threat to the lives of all of those on a plane, or:
• TSA states a 13-ounce bottle of any liquid brought into a plane's cabin is dangerous and prohibits it, but that bringing four 3.4-ounce containers of the same liquid into the cabin is somehow magically safe.
Yes, this is what happens when we have "security," which, as I wrote when I tried to get American women to be civilly disobedient at TSA "checkpoints" in airports, in no way takes the place of meaningful security:
Meaningful measures to thwart terrorist acts require highly trained law enforcement officers using targeted intelligence to identify suspects long before they launch their plots.
The TSA's main accomplishment seems to be obedience training for the American public - priming us to be docile (and even polite) about giving up our civil liberties. The TSA not only violates our Fourth Amendment rights but also has posted signs effectively eradicating our First Amendment right to speak out about it. One such sign, in Denver International Airport, offers the vague warning that "verbal abuse" of agents will "not be tolerated." Travelers are left to wonder whether it's "verbal abuse" to inform the TSA agent probing their testicles that this isn't making us safer, or are they only in trouble if they throw in an obscenity? Not surprisingly, few seem willing to speak out and risk arrest.
Hellooo, Dipshit! CA Lawmaker Tries To Put The Clamps On Uber, Lyft, Etc.
From a tweet:
Stupid CA Lawmaker of the Week: Adrin Nazarian, who wants to end ride-sharing bc it's "simply high-tech hitchhiking"
Detailed stupid at TechCrunch, where Alex Wilhelm writes that this is supposedly about passenger safety.
In the comments, Jenny Reiswig cuts the crap:
Search "taxi driver convicted" and you'll see that the traditional cab companies don't do better at keeping crooks off the street. I use ridesharing services frequently - I appreciate the safety of being able to see my car approaching on the map so I know I don't have to stand out on the street and wait.
I've taken Uber multiple times in Boston, at an ev psych conference, and in LA, and it's been great -- and vastly cheaper than taxis. I love that it's now possible for people to earn an income or a side income without starting a business.
And, like Jenny, I love that I can see the car approaching on the map, that I can see the driver's plate number to match it to the car, and that I can see the ETA counting down in the ap.
Hey, Feminists, Here's The Real "Rape Culture"
Guilty people are sentenced to prison -- not to years of horrible sexual abuse -- but that's what happens to many in prison, and it's terribly wrong.
Congress, in 2003, passed the Prison Rape Elimination Act. As Chandra Bozelko writes in The New York Times:
The way to eliminate sexual assault, lawmakers determined, was to make Department of Justice funding for correctional facilities conditional on states' adoption of zero-tolerance policies toward sexual abuse of inmates.
Inmates would be screened to identify possible predators and victims. Prison procedures would ensure investigation of complaints by outside law enforcement. Correctional officers would be instructed about behavior that constitutes sexual abuse. And abusers, whether inmates or guards, would be punished effectively.
But only two states -- New Hampshire and New Jersey -- have fully complied with the act. Forty-seven states and territories have promised that they will do so. Using Justice Department data, the American Civil Liberties Union estimated that from 2003 to 2012, when the law's standards were finalized, nearly two million inmates were sexually assaulted.
Bozelko goes on to explain:
Ultimately, prisons protect rape culture to protect themselves. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, about half of prison sexual assault complaints in 2011 were filed against staff. (These reports weren't all claims of forcible rape; it is considered statutory sexual assault for a guard to have sexual contact with an inmate.)
I was an inmate for six years in Connecticut after being convicted of identity fraud, among other charges. From what I saw, the same small group of guards preyed on inmates again and again, yet never faced discipline. They were protected by prison guard unions, one of the strongest forces in American labor.
Sexualized violence is often used as a tool to subdue inmates whom guards see as upstarts. In May 2008, while in a restricted housing unit, or "the SHU" as it is commonly known, I was sexually assaulted by a guard. The first person I reported the incident to, another guard, ignored it. I finally reached a nurse who reported it to a senior officer.
When the state police arrived, I decided not to talk to them because the harassment I'd received in the intervening hours made me fearful. For the same reason, I refused medical treatment when I was taken to a local emergency room.
Subsequent interviews with officials at the prison amounted to hazing and harassment. They accused me of having been a drug user, which was untrue, and of lying about going to college, though it was true I had. The "investigation," which I found more traumatic than the assault, dragged on for more than two months until they determined that my allegation couldn't be substantiated. The law's guidelines were followed, but in letter not in spirit.
And although the author of this piece is a woman, it's mainly men who are the victims of prison rape.
Gwyneth Paltrow's Bad Math
I didn't look into the figure -- $29 a week -- that Gwyneth Paltrow claimed families on food stamps live on, but Ari Armstrong did:
Her figures are a complete fabrication (as I pointed out on Twitter). According to the USDA, which runs SNAP (the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps), the "maximum monthly allotment" for a family of four is $649--more than five times what Paltrow claims. The maximum amount a single person can get in a month is $194.
Paltrow makes two factual errors. Apparently she picked up the $29 figure from the Food Bank for New York City, which Paltrow mentions on Twitter. But that figure pertains to an individual, not a family.
Paltrow also confuses the average SNAP contribution with what a person or a family "has to live on." A key term in SNAP is "supplemental." The program is intended to supplement an individual's or family's food budget, not to provide every last morsel. If a recipient of SNAP handouts receives less than the maximum, that's because the program deems the recipient able to spend some of his own money on food. Thus, the average SNAP benefit is not relevant in calculating how much the recipient spends on food.
He also takes a Randian view on the government providing (and taking from taxpayers to provide) at all:
The deeper problem with Paltrow's cause is that it presumes that taking wealth from some people by force and handing it to others is moral. It is not. Individuals have a moral right to use their wealth as they see fit. If a person wishes to give money or food to other individuals or to a food bank, that is his right. If he wishes to spend his money on something else, or save it, that is also his right. In no case may government morally seize people's wealth by force and turn it over to others.
Agree Or Disagree?
I'm moderating a panel on memoirs tomorrow at LA Times Festival of Books, and I'm asking my panelists about privacy -- jumping off from this Anne Lamott quote:
"You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better." --Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life