No Devastating Earthquake Or Fire. Just A Wee Tweet From A Professor.
"We will now move forward to rebuild our law school community," writes the University of Tennessee law school Dean Melanie Wilson.
You read that and you think, "Shattered bodies, shattered lives?"
Um, no...not quite.
A misconstrued tweet -- detailed just below.
Glenn Reynolds, the law prof -- and a truly decent guy whom I've known for a number of years -- writes in an apology email to those at the UT College of Law:
Thursday one of my 580,000 tweets blew up. I try to be careful and precise in my language. I didn't do that this time, and I unfortunately made a lot of people in the law school community sad or angry, something I certainly didn't mean to do, and feel bad about.
I was following the riots in Charlotte, against a background of reports of violence, which seemed to be getting worse. Then I retweeted a report of mobs "stopping traffic and surrounding vehicles" with the comment "run them down."
Those words can be taken as encouragement of drivers going out of their way to run down protesters. I meant no such thing, and I'm sorry it seemed to many that I did. What I meant was that drivers who feel their lives are in danger from a violent mob should not stop their vehicles. I remember Reginald Denny, a truck driver who was beaten nearly to death by a mob during the 1992 Los Angeles riots. My tweet should have said, "Keep driving," or "Don't stop." I was upset, and it was a bad tweet. I do not support violence except in cases of clear self-defense.
I have always strongly supported peaceful protests, and I've spent years speaking out against police militarization and excessive police violence in my USA TODAY columns, on my blog, and on Twitter itself. I understand why people misunderstood my tweet and regret that I was not clearer.
He seemed to advocate violence in a tweet, he explained himself and apologized -- and there needs to be "rebuilding" after this?
Perhaps this is just use of the victim-chic language so popular on campuses lately.
However, as someone who's been defended by a very smart and fearless Sicilian-American badass, if you're a lawyer who's devastated because somebody makes a remark that goes a little too far...well, perhaps leave the law profession before you get into it, and do all the clients you'll never have a big favor.
Take The Slow-Speed Train To Philly!
Jason Laughlin writes for Philly.com about the state of things Amtrak -- how it's faster to drive to Pittsburgh from Philly than take the train:
It's nearly 7½ hours on 350 miles of rail from Philadelphia to Pennsylvania's big city in the west. It's slower than an hour-and-15-minute flight or five-hour drive, and, at $47, comparable to the cost of tolls and gas on the Pennsylvania Turnpike. Amtrak's Pennsylvanian, which connects Pittsburgh with New York City for about 230,000 passengers a year, also leaves little room for flexibility.
One train a day leaves 30th Street Station for Pittsburgh, at 12:42 p.m. There's only one return trip, at 7:30 a.m.
...Geography and track rights are the obstacles to better rail service in Pennsylvania. As far back as the 19th century, industrialists were frustrated by the current rail route. The trip's most famous stretch is Horseshoe Curve, a scenic bend around a picturesque valley near Lake Altoona, but it also illustrates the problem posed by the Allegheny Mountains. In the mid-19th century, the Pennsylvania Railroad used a route that ribboned between the mountains, rather than tunneling through them. Amtrak trains typically travel close to 80 mph, but many of those sharp turns require the train to slow. The average speed on the line is 45 mph.
The 250 miles of tracks between Harrisburg and Pittsburgh belong to the freight carrier Norfolk Southern. About 60 freight trains a day use the route, said Dave Pidgeon, a spokesman for the rail company. Passenger trains stop to make way for freight behemoths up to 130 cars long carrying products from the Great Lakes region to the East Coast, he said. And Norfolk Southern charges Amtrak to use the tracks. Amtrak didn't disclose the fees but said the cost varied based on miles traveled and incentive payments for on-time performance. Each additional train would cost more in usage fees, officials said. As for track improvements that would allow faster travel, Norfolk Southern officials said it wasn't a priority for them.
Users can think of Skedaddle as a Lyft line or Uber pool for either a public or private weekend getaway.
Initially someone planning a public trip can post their route on the app (in a bid to encourage user adoption, the person who plans the trip rides for free), and then enlists at least 9 other people to come along (at a discounted rate). Once a group of 10 is booked, the ride will happen and anyone else can come along. The chartered rides max out at 54 seats per trip.
Private trips can be scheduled for any number of people, and Nestler says the bulk of the company's business is coming from public trips.
"As we grow density and users in each city... this becomes as reliable as a schedule without a schedule," Nestler said.
Personally, because I get motion-sick in cars over any sort of distance, I'd rather take the train than a bus to Philly -- in the morning run, that is -- but train travel has to be subsidized and doesn't ever seem to pay for itself.
Here in California, we have what I call the Traindoggle.
Your analysis of the debate? (Transcript with some NPR annotations here.)
I had a friend in town from New York and she took me to dinner, so I saw only the very beginning -- and nothing that surprised me, starting with how Hillary called Trump "Donald."
I get why she did that, but it made her seem petty and disrespectful.
Okay, your turn...
P.S. We went to my favorite restaurant, Hal's Bar & Grill, which has (sob!) moved. If you're in Los Angeles, I highly recommend it. Don and Linda Novack, who own the place, are super-nice, as is everyone who works there, and the food is great. I got the flank steak entree with Caesar salad on the side, one of my perennial faves. And we had artichokes and smoked fish appetizers, which were fabulous.
The Covert Narcissism Of The Collegiate Victim Class
Victimhood has become so au courant that college students work themselves into a frenzy finding victimizers everywhere and convincing themselves that they are terribly oppressed.
A quote from a Robby Soave Reason blog post:
"I don't study in the library because I don't feel comfortable, because I don't feel comfortable with people always wondering what my gender identity is," said another activist.
How do you go to the grocery store? The DMV?
The truth is that for people who really don't have much going in life or who really aren't going much of anywhere -- perhaps because they study subjects like how pumpkins are a form of white oppression -- the only way to have power over others is to claim to be victimized at every turn.
This is especially absurd, because the venue for announcing how victimized they are is the American college campus in 2016.
Anyone who is able to go for years without a job and attend college is wildly "privileged."
And if you can't go to the library or the grocery store because you worry what people are thinking of you, well, perhaps you need a counselor to talk to you like we would a 4-year-old, telling the 4-year-old that no, other people's thoughts do not leave their skulls and come attack you while you're shopping.
So, yes, you absolutely do need to be in an institution -- but not one of higher learning.
That said, there's also a more compassionate view -- one that explains why some might feel they have no choice but to join ranks with those who use victimhood as their best and maybe only shot at having any power.
This more compassionate view comes out of the video Soave posted with his piece, about which he writes:
One of the leftists, a black woman of color, talked about the myriad ways in which her high school failed to prepare her for college.
If you are unprepared for college, shouting about being victimized and trying to bully your way to some power may seem a more productive course of action than studying in hopes of making something of yourself.
And who is unprepared for college? More than likely, someone who is born out of wedlock, grows up in a single-parent home, and goes to a public school controlled by a teacher's union -- one that cares more about the teachers pension plan and keeping even the terrible ones on the job and getting paid than seeing that kids learn.
If black lives truly matter -- beyond cop shootings -- then somebody besides Thomas Sowell (among maybe a handful of others) has to speak out about acting like they matter all along.
The Campus Coddle Prod Gets Brandished: Conservative Columnist Axed From College Paper
The campus culture has become so suffused with the notion that there is one correct point of view -- the SJW one -- and that even uttering or printing anything with a different view is akin to boiling a pot of kittens.
Newspaper editors and writers used to trot out a line -- about "comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable." That was supposed to be a mission in journalism.
Not for the new pups in the arena.
At Mizzou, they've just fired a conservative columnist from the paper. Mark Schierbecker writes at The College Fix that the Editor-in-Chief, Jared Kaufman, explained the firing of conservative columnist Chris Vas like so:
"We did not dismiss him from our staff over a difference of opinion. We fired him because we cannot have members of our staff actively seeking to spark controversy rather than foster healthy discussions."
Yes, this is a newspaper editor:
"...We cannot have members of our staff actively seeking to spark controversy rather than foster healthy discussions."
Kaufman explains in the student paper:
Last week, The Maneater published a column written by Chris Vas called "Column: Black Lives Matter is addressing the wrong problem," in which Vas says the movement should focus on strengthening black families instead of protesting police brutality. This semester, his first with the paper, Vas has written about transgender bathroom access policies and Donald Trump's candidacy.
It came to my attention that Vas had coordinated with a friend in the MU Social Justice Network Facebook page to have them post his columns on that page with inciting language.
That "inciting lanuage" -- via the College Fix piece -- was simply this:
"Look at this," MU College Republicans member Abigail Hoer wrote Friday. "Why is our campus newspaper publishing hate speech?"
Not exactly language out of, oh, "Protocols of the Elders of Zion." In fact, in a sane world, this would be positive "incitement" -- an opportunity for discussion.
Kaufman protests to The College Fix:
Kaufman said he had learned "that Vas had coordinated with a friend in the MU Social Justice Network Facebook page to have them post his columns on that page with inciting language.
...Kaufman suggested that the Maneater had been getting heat from readers who thought Vas's column was speaking for the paper as a whole.
And these tender little bunnies absolutely can't bear that they might have to say something along the lines of, "Well, I don't agree with him, but..."
Or suggest that people who disagree with him write op-eds in response.
That's what a free-speech-fostering environment would lead to.
But, instead, "freedom of the press" is wasted on people who think "Free speech" means "free to echo exactly what we think."
Palestinian Leaders Poison The Minds Of The Young Against Peace
...And in turn, any ability for the Palestinian youth to look forward to a life that is not about dying to enrich the Palestinian leadership.
Right-on speech by Israeli Premier Benjamin Netanyahu at the UN, "How can any of us expect young Palestinians to support peace when their leaders poison their minds against peace?"
Had the Palestinians said yes to a Jewish state in 1947, there would have been no war, no refugees and no conflict. And when the Palestinians finally say yes to a Jewish state, we will be able to end this conflict once and for all. Now here's the tragedy, because, see, the Palestinians are not only trapped in the past, their leaders are poisoning the future. I want you to imagine a day in the life of a 13-year-old Palestinian boy, I'll call him Ali. Ali wakes up before school, he goes to practice with a soccer team named after Dalal Mughrabi, a Palestinian terrorist responsible for the murder of a busload of 37 Israelis. At school, Ali attends an event sponsored by the Palestinian Ministry of Education honoring Baha Alyan, who last year murdered three Israeli civilians. On his walk home, Ali looks up at a towering statue erected just a few weeks ago by the Palestinian Authority to honor Abu Sukar, who detonated a bomb in the center of Jerusalem, killing 15 Israelis.
When Ali gets home, he turns on the TV and sees an interview with a senior Palestinian official, Jibril Rajoub, who says that if he had a nuclear bomb, he'd detonate it over Israel that very day. Ali then turns on the radio and he hears President Abbas's adviser, Sultan Abu al-Einein, urging Palestinians, here's a quote, "to slit the throats of Israelis wherever you find them." Ali checks his Facebook and he sees a recent post by President Abbas's Fatah Party calling the massacre of 11 Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics a "heroic act". On YouTube, Ali watches a clip of President Abbas himself saying, "We welcome every drop of blood spilled in Jerusalem." Direct quote.
Over dinner, Ali asks his mother what would happen if he killed a Jew and went to an Israeli prison? Here's what she tells him. She tells him he'd be paid thousands of dollars each month by the Palestinian Authority. In fact, she tells him, the more Jews he would kill, the more money he'd get. Oh, and when he gets out of prison, Ali would be guaranteed a job with the Palestinian Authority.
Ladies and Gentlemen, All this is real. It happens every day, all the time. Sadly, Ali represents hundreds of thousands of Palestinian children who are indoctrinated with hate every moment, every hour.
This is child abuse.
Imagine your child undergoing this brainwashing. Imagine what it takes for a young boy or girl to break free out of this culture of hate. Some do but far too many don't. How can any of us expect young Palestinians to support peace when their leaders poison their minds against peace?
We in Israel don't do this. We educate our children for peace. In fact, we recently launched a pilot program, my government did, to make the study of Arabic mandatory for Jewish children so that we can better understand each other, so that we can live together side-by-side in peace. Of course, like all societies Israel has fringe elements. But it's our response to those fringe elements, it's our response to those fringe elements that makes all the difference.
Take the tragic case of Ahmed Dawabsha. I'll never forget visiting Ahmed in the hospital just hours after he was attacked. A little boy, really a baby, he was badly burned. Ahmed was the victim of a horrible terrorist act perpetrated by Jews. He lay bandaged and unconscious as Israeli doctors worked around the clock to save him. No words can bring comfort to this boy or to his family. Still, as I stood by his bedside I told his uncle, "This is not our people. This is not our way."
I then ordered extraordinary measures to bring Ahmed's assailants to justice and today the Jewish citizens of Israel accused of attacking the Dawabsha family are in jail awaiting trial. Now, for some, this story shows that both sides have their extremists and both sides are equally responsible for this seemingly endless conflict. But what Ahmed's story actually proves is the very opposite. It illustrates the profound difference between our two societies, because while Israeli leaders condemn terrorists, all terrorists, Arabs and Jews alike, Palestinian leaders celebrate terrorists. While Israel jails the handful of Jewish terrorists among us, the Palestinians pay thousands of terrorists among them. So I call on President Abbas: you have a choice to make. You can continue to stoke hatred as you did today or you can finally confront hatred and work with me to establish peace between our two peoples.
Even Netanyahu runs with the lie that piece is possible despite Islam -- which calls for the death or conversion of the infidel and the global establishment of Islam.
(I can't imagine this is news to Netanyahu -- but I think he understands that we westerners don't believe that and don't want to accept that, and he's really talking to us and speaking politically at the U.N.)
The thing is -- he's right on one thing: If the Arabs didn't want to slaughter the Israelis, they'd be living in peace and prosperity -- a kind they cannot experience under their thieving, self-interested, power-hungry leadership.
P.S. Golda Meir may not have said it, but it's a good point:
"Peace will come when the Arabs will love their children more than they hate us."
Furrylinks...with little clawed paws attached, like on an old lady's wrap. And maybe a little shriveled head with teeth.
Creeping Islamic Takeover: A Look Behind The Burkini Ban
At Gatestone Institute, Dr. Guy Millière, a professor at the University of Paris, explains how France got to the burkini ban -- now repealed. And no, it wasn't that there were just these covered-up ladies who wanted to take a swimmy. There were the Muslim men chasing away tourists and blocking access to the beaches to non-Muslims:
In Sisco, Corsica, on August 13, a group of Muslim men arrived on a beach in the company of women wearing "burkinis" (full-body bathing costumes). The Muslim men firmly asked the tourists on the beach to leave and posted signs saying "No Entry". When a few teenagers resisted, the Muslim men responded with a harpoon and baseball bats. The police intervened -- but it was just the beginning.
In the following days, on beaches all over France, Muslim men showed up, accompanied by women in burkinis, and asking beachgoers to leave. Tourists packed up and fled. Several mayors of seaside resorts decided to ban the bathing costume, and the "burkini ban" scandal was born.
Some politicians said that banning the burkini "stigmatized" Muslims and infringed on their "human rights" to wear whatever they liked. Other politicians, including Prime Minister Manuel Valls and former President Nicolas Sarkozy, called the burkini a "provocation", and asked for a law to ban it. The Council of State, the highest legal institution, eventually declared that banning the burkini was against the law; the ban was lifted.
What is important to explain is what lies behind the "burkini ban."
Thirty years ago, France was a country where Islam was present but where Islamic demands were virtually absent and Islamic veils were rare.
Then, in September, 1989, in a northern suburb of Paris, three female students decided to attend high school with their heads covered by a scarf. When the dean refused, the parents, with the support of newly created Muslim associations, filed a complaint. The parents won.
All of sudden, Islamic headscarves multiplied in high schools and on the streets, and soon were were replaced by long black veils. Muslim associations called for an "end to discrimination," requested halal food in school cafeterias, and complained about the "Islamophobic content" in history textbooks. Unveiled women in Muslim neighborhoods were assaulted or raped.
After the French government created a commission of inquiry, a law banning "religious symbols in public schools" was passed in 2003. In the name of a refusal to "stigmatize" Islam and out of "respect for human rights," Christian crosses and Jewish skullcaps were also banned, in addition to Islamic headscarves.
This is just part of how the Islamization of a society works.
A few points from the author:
•Yusuf al-Qaradawi, spiritual leader of the main Islamic movement in France, explained how Muslims living in the West have to proceed: they may use terror, they may use seduction, exploit Westerners' sense of guilt, grab public spaces, change laws, and create their own society inside Western societies until they become Muslim societies.
•France used to be a country where religious neutrality in the public space was seen as an essential principle. Muslim extremists appear to be using Islamic veils and head-coverings as visible symbols to create the impression that Islam is everywhere.
•Politicians claim that they respect human rights, but they seem to have forgotten the human rights of the women who do not cover up -- of those who suffer from Islamization, who are no longer free to write, think, or go for a walk on the street.
•Politicians refused to "stigmatize" Islam and do not want to see the consequences: harassment, rapes, the destruction of freedom.
•French journalists write under the threat of trial or assault, and almost never use the phrase "Islamic terrorism." Almost all books on Islam in French bookstores are written by Islamists or by authors praising Islam.
•Have non-Muslims lost the will to fight?
What's going on is called "stealth jihad." William Kirkpatrick explains at FrontPage that "it can be just as effective as the armed variety"
Stealth jihad is a long-term campaign to spread Islamic law and culture by influencing key institutions such as churches, schools, courts, businesses, media, and local and national government.
Armed jihad instills a sense of urgency--"let's roll," let's take action. But stealth jihad is intended to lull us into complacency--not "let's roll," but "let's roll over and go back to sleep." Immediately after 9/11, representatives of various stealth organizations such as CAIR and ISNA were at President Bush's side, assuring him that Islam means "peace." Bush, in turn, assured the rest of us that the terrorists were a tiny minority who had attempted to hijack a great religion. Amazingly, fifteen years later, that myth is still the dominant narrative.
The term "stealth jihad" is a bit misleading. The stealth jihad groups may be stealthy, but they don't operate underground. They have offices, spokesmen, PR people, legal teams, and impressive websites. They present themselves as moderate mainstream groups, and for the most part the media and administration officials accept them as such.
How do they operate? In general, they advertise themselves as civil rights advocates working to protect the rights of the "Muslim community." Using the cover of civil rights activism, the stealth jihadists have been able to score some spectacular successes. In 2012, for example, more than 1,000 documents and presentations were purged from counterterror training programs for the FBI and other security agencies. This was done in response to pressure from Islamic advocacy groups who complained that the training policies were biased and offensive to Muslims. In effect, these Muslim Brotherhood-linked groups were given veto power over national security policy, and, as a result, investigative agencies were forced to limit themselves to politically correct policing.
A Gift Of Telephone Silence For People With Landlines Who Are Plagued By Robocalls, Survey Calls, And Dirtbag Politician PAC Calls
I love when some bureaucrat or some lazy newspaper reporter says to sign up for the Do Not Call list, like that does the slightest thing to stop the annoyance calls.
As I wrote in I See Rude People, per André-Tascha Lammé's FOIA request, the government only goes after the teeny-weeniest fraction of the illegal telemarketing calls and robocalls and the like.
Dirtbag politicians don't want to stop survey calls or political spam calls because, hey, self-interest. And so many of these dirtbags running for office -- like sleazy Janice Hahn -- use illegal robocalls (illegal in California without a live voice person asking you whether you'd like to have your dinner interrupted). [CPUC Code Sections 2871-2876]
2874. (a) Whenever telephone calls are placed through the use of an automatic dialing-announcing device, the device may be operated only after an unrecorded, natural voice announcement has been made to the person called by the person calling. The announcement shall do all of the following: (1) State the nature of the call and the name, address, and telephone number of the business or organization being represented, if any. (2) Inquire as to whether the person called consents to hear the prerecorded message of the person calling. (b) The calling person described in subdivision (a) shall disconnect the automatic dialing-announcing device from the telephone line upon the termination of the call by either the person calling or the person called.
Getting to the point of this post...a solution...
I still have a land line, both because the often-terrible reception on cell phones bugs me and because I need one for when I'm on radio shows by telephone.
This, unfortunately, means I'm annoyed by assholes constantly. Recorded survey calls, carpet cleaning calls, scam calls. I get about four of those annoyance calls a day. And soon...election-related calls by the dozen every day.
This is a problem because my book was due September 1. Notice that it is now September 10. I got an extension -- the science turned out to be wildly harder than I'd thought. But, as I have been for about a year, I'm working pretty much day and night on that, my column, and a big talk I'm giving in November.
I signed up for the free service, NoMoRobo, which cuts down on some of these calls. My phone blocked 30 numbers, and Time-Warner (which is now changing to Rectum, uh, Spectrum) blocks another 25 or 30 or so for VOIP customers.
But Gregg a few weeks ago -- after investigating the options -- got me a really fabulous device on Amazon, the CPR V5000 Call Blocker. It has this huge satisfying red button for blocking calls and will work with my VOIP phone service and cordless telephone with caller-ID.
We got this one rather than the earlier model, which was $20 cheaper, because it has 5,000 numbers already loaded in.
It also looked super-easy to use -- and Gregg vetted that it was.
All I had to do was plug the unit's cord into the phone and the wall cord into the unit. Took me all of 20 seconds.
And probably thanks to those 5,000 numbers pre-loaded in, I haven't gotten a single annoyance call since.
This is a little dismaying, because the thing has this huge, red, stop sign-shaped button, "BLOCK NOW," and I can't wait to push it when some roboasshole or surveyer calls.
Okay, I wrote this on September 16, when I plugged the thing in. It is now September 25. Since then, due to the pre-programmed list, I only got ONE -- ONE! -- annoyance call. As the call was going, I just pushed the block button and it put it on the list. Woohoo!
Unfortunately, until NoMoRobo comes out with a cellphone app, I continue to get robocalls there. I block each -- and then they change the number and call again.
Phone companies could surely do something about this -- however, it's in their self-interest to have your minutes eaten up by junk calls or any calls.
Socialist Economics, The Dream, And Socialist Economics, The Reality
Marian L. Tupy writes at Human Progress:
As a boy growing up in communist Czechoslovakia, I would, for many years, walk by a building site that was to become a local public health facility or clinic. The construction of this small and ugly square-shaped building was slow and shoddy. Parts of the structure were falling apart even while the rest of it was still being built.
Recently, I returned to Slovakia. One day, while driving through the capital of Bratislava, I noticed a brand new suburb that covered a hill that was barren a mere two years before. The sprawling development of modern and beautiful houses came with excellent roads and a large supermarket. It provided a home, privacy, and safety for hundreds of families.
How was it possible for a private company to plan, build, and sell an entire suburb in less than two years, but impossible for a communist central planner to build one small building in almost a decade?
A large part of the answer lies in "incentives." The company that built the suburb in Slovakia did not do so out of love for humanity. The company did so, because its owners (i.e., shareholders or capitalists) wanted to make a profit. As Adam Smith, the founding father of economics, wrote in 1776, "It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker, that we can expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest."
In a normally functioning market, it is rare for only one company to provide a certain kind of good or service. The people who bought the houses in the suburb that I saw did not have to do so. They could have bought different houses built by different developers in different parts of town at different prices. Competition, in other words, forces capitalists to come up with better and cheaper products - a process that benefits us all.
I have no incentive to try to be better than you -- which ultimately makes the world a better place -- if I earn no more than you for my efforts.
What's ugly and unfair isn't the system that lets you work harder and improve your life and other people's, but the system where "some animals are more equal than others," as George Orwell put it.
Of course, not everyone was equally affected by shortages. Government officials and their families could generally avoid the daily hardships of life under communism by having access to special shops, schools, and hospitals. Communism started as a movement for greater equality. In reality, it was a return to feudalism. Like feudal societies, communist societies had an aristocracy composed of the communist party members. Like feudal societies, communist societies had a population of serfs with limited or no rights and little possibility of social mobility. Like feudal societies, communist societies were held together by brute force.
Postscript: I am sometimes asked why, if communism was so inefficient, it had survived as long as it did. Part of the reason rests in the brute force with which the communists kept themselves in power. Part of it rests in the emergence of smugglers, who made the economy run more smoothly. When, for example, a communist shoe factory ran out of glue, the factory manager called his contact in the "shadow" or "underground" economy. The latter would then obtain the glue by smuggling it out of the glue factory or from abroad. Smuggling was illegal, of course, but it was preferable to dealing with the government bureaucracy - which could take years. So, in a sense, communism's longevity can be ascribed to the emergence of a quasi-market in goods a favors (or services).
Kindle Yourself A Deal
Today's Deal -- $2.99 on some Kindle books, themed "Dark Reads For Stormy Nights."
They don't look all that dark to me.
Here are the monthly deals, $3.99 or less for Kindle books. Just a dollar more and lots more selection.
To buy things not seen in my links and give me the credit (at no cost to you!) Search Amy's Amazon.
Thank you all for supporting the work I do on this site with your purchases!
Oh, and a replay, from the clearance sale aisle -- because my friend wants one of these and I had to go find the link:
My boyfriend got me this night watchman 770-lumen Seven-Z flashlight as a present. It runs on AAAA batteries, which is convenient, yet could still cast light from one end of an airplane hanger to another. Very, very bright light.
Well, it's 5:53 a.m., Sunday morning, and some asshole just started blasting music in his car right outside my windows and my neighbors'. I'm up to write. My neighbors are still sleeping. Before he could wake all of them (or wake all of them all the way), I ran out, stood on the bottom support of the fence, and shined this very, very, verrrrry bright light into his car.
He took off instead of sitting there blasting us with sound. And I got to feel all everyday superhero. ("Good Manners for Nice People Who Sometimes Say F*ck": Be kind but punish the rude -- and their eyeballs...with very, very bright light.)
Flight By The Pound: Your Bags Aren't All They Should Be Weighing Before You Fly
I get a little irritated having to pay a bunch of bucks for my luggage while some ginormous person seated next to me weighs more than my bags and me collectively, but doesn't get dinged for that in the slightest.
There was this piece at The Economist on checked bags on planes:
According to figures from the Department of Transportation, from 2007 through the first quarter of 2016, domestic airlines have collected a total of $26.2 billion in checked-bag fees. That is just shy of the $27.8 billion market capitalisation of Delta Air Lines, as of earlier this week. It is safe to assume that the money splurged in the meantime will have more than made up this shortfall.
Of course, baggage fees are not just an additional charge that airlines skim off the top. If they are functioning as they should, they are an incentive to stop people flying with more luggage than they need, and a way of ensuring people pay their fair share, since each extra bag means more weight and higher fuel costs. It is a better system than the free-for-all in which the man with 100 pounds of luggage was charged the same for a flight as the woman who carried only her handbag and took a fraction of the space and weight. And they have helped airfares to drop their fares to the lowest rates in seven years (although lower fuel costs are the main cause of this).
But it feels annoying to have to go through the extra step of either shedding luggage or shelling out more to fly. And the cost is not insignificant. Most American airlines charge $25 per checked bag; it is as much as $100 per bag on Spirit Airlines, if not purchased in advance.
I liked this suggestion in a comment from "CanadaAW" at The Economist -- better than the article itself:
If -- IF -- the real concern is that more bags cause higher fuel usage, then the proper pricing policy would be to weigh a person and all bags, packages, etc. together on a large, 1000-lb scale right at the check-in counter. Everyone would be allowed some pre-defined weight (eg 225 lbs). Beyond that allowance, you would pay some set fee (eg. $1 or $1.50/lb).
If you're travelling alone, you're stuck with that. If you're travelling as a couple, you could be weighed together for a total of 450 lbs. A family of 4 could share a limit of 900 lbs.
Even before the baggage fees were introduced, individual bags were limited to 50 lbs (23 kg). When I thought I was close to the limit, I would simply pack 30 lbs of books or whatever into my carry-on which was NOT weighed, and lightened my checked luggage... which I always thought was stupid oversight by the airlines.
California's Traindoggle To Nowhere
I last wrote about California's "high-speed" Traindoggle, as I call it, here. A bit from that post -- referencing a family of four -- and quoting the Community Coalition on High Speed Rail:
Four rail tickets are twice as much as the total cost of driving and four times the gasoline costs.
...Setting aside for a moment the fact that all but two of the world's high-speed rail routes are subsidized, and assuming they at least break even, the analyzed per mile rate would make a one-way SF to LA ticket cost about $190.5 Therefore, if the CHSRA's assumed private operator must charge enough to break even, four tickets for a LA/SF round trip would cost at least $1,520.
Conclusions: California's 2009 median household income was $42,548.6. For a middle class household to ride the train LA-SF once would cost them about 4% of their annual pre-tax income. CHSRA's 2009 ticket prices probably exclude middle- income households. But a more realistic ticket price definitely excludes them.
There's an interesting long read on this in The Weekly Standard by Charlotte Allen. An excerpt:
What I was to see consisted of a 1,600-foot viaduct spanning the Fresno River on the rural outskirts of Madera, a rundown city of 63,000 in the heart of the state's agriculturally rich but economically parched San Joaquin Valley--a landscape that is geographically, topographically, demographically, and culturally far away from the bustle of the two coastal metropolises that the train was supposed to be designed to serve. The Fresno River viaduct is part of an initial 130-mile stretch of track through the valley that would allow passengers to travel from Madera, 164 miles -southeast of San Francisco, to Bakersfield, 110 miles northeast of Los Angeles. Well, actually not quite all the way to Bakersfield, California's ninth-largest city, with a population of 364,000, but to the edge of an almond orchard on the fringes of Shafter, a sleepy farm town of 17,000 some 19 miles to the north. That was because the California High Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA), the autonomous state agency in charge of planning and building the train, didn't have quite the money in its budget to take the train to downtown Bakersfield, and passengers bound for that city would presumably have to board a low-speed connector bus to actually arrive there. The estimated date for completing this initial stretch was September 2017, the deadline for spending $3.5 billion in "stimulus" money from the Obama administration. Actually linking San Francisco and Los Angeles with a southerly terminus in Anaheim on a total of 520 miles of track had been pushed out to the year 2022. Critics have dubbed the high-speed rail project the "train to nowhere," and it was easy to see why.
There's "near-universal hostility" to the train, in Charlotte's words, so
...The CHSRA has so far succeeded in acquiring only 60 percent of the 1,300 parcels of land that it needs just to run those 130 miles of track from Madera to Shafter. Meanwhile, polls conducted from 2013 to 2016 have consistently shown that at least 52 percent of Californians want the state to ditch the high-speed rail project entirely and use the 2008 bond funds for something else, possibly for water storage or for beefing up conventional rail and public-transportation systems in the traffic-clogged Los Angeles and Bay Area "bookends" of the projected bullet-train system.
It is undoubtedly unfair to perceive as metaphors the rain, the mud, the never-used equipment, and the solo unfinished viaduct over an isolated rural river in an agricultural valley more than a hundred miles from the heavily trafficked coastal corridor that connects Los Angeles and San Francisco. But the metaphors are irresistible because they point to reality. The out-of-the way location of this first segment of construction was, by all accounts, the product of a political decision while the train was on the drawing board during the 1990s, one that weighed the flat terrain plus a much-touted economic boon to the jobs-starved valley, along with the fact that the valley is one of California's less-populated areas, with relatively few NIMBY-minded residents expected to complain about blocked-off streets and superfast trains whooshing through their neighborhoods at all hours of the day and night. The valley's total population is only about 4 million, compared with 7 million for the San Francisco Bay Area and 19 million for greater Los Angeles. Many coastal Californians have never set foot in the valley, partly because its basin shape makes it the air-pollution capital of the state during the smoggy summer.
Yes, once again:
...The solo unfinished viaduct over an isolated rural river in an agricultural valley more than a hundred miles from the heavily trafficked coastal corridor that connects Los Angeles and San Francisco.
Corruption as usual! Oops, I mean...politics...
You were, perhaps, expecting something a little more...shall we say...donkeyish?
Welcome To The Victim Olympics!
Some ridiculous girl tweeted to me:
@amyalkon @robbysoave lol it must be so hard to be white on Twitter
She's an "indigenous" person, she says in her Twitter profile. I take it from her remark to me that she must use some ancient indigenous form of communication to tweet, making it far more difficult for her than for me -- a white person using modern digital technology.
Oh, and never mind that she knows fuck all about me, save for what she can see -- the color of my skin. (I like to describe my origins as part Eastern European Jew, part Wite-Out.)
Her Twitter profile says this:
Anishnaabekwe, Medical Physics, Indigenous Health, FN education #STEM #Neurodiversity #Disability
Wikwemikong Unceded, Ontario
I was waiting for a call, and curiosity took me down her Twitter feed, where I found this:
I wrote this piece for my white-coded Indigenous friends. White privilege is something we need to discuss.
A bit of his bio:
Kyle T. Mays (Black/Saginaw Anishinaabe) is currently a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of History at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is a transdisciplinary scholar that works at the intersection of Afro-Indigenous Studies, Urban Indigenous Studies, and Indigenous Hip Hop culture.
And a bit from his piece, "The Souls of White-Indians: A Letter to My White Indian Friend":
What up doe? How you been? Boozhoo.
I am writing to you because I love you. Because, as a Black/Native hetero-cis male, who grew up with three urban influences -- Cleveland and Detroit -- in Lansing, Michigan, the capitol of Michigan, once the home of Malcolm X, I have long understood the complexities of race and racism, and I want to share some with you. I have the experience of a poor, urban, Black Native person. Even as I gain more cultural and social capital because of my education, I cannot shake off my upbringing, which I am very proud of.
I am writing because I hate white supremacy, colonialism, and heteropatriarchy. I hate all things oppressive. And I hate how they have injured us all.
Can we talk about what it means to be a White-Indian in the United States? It's funny, using that phrase "White-Indian;" though I hear it every so often, it is barely used in academic circles, or not in the same frequency or manner as Black-Indians. I guess only the full bloods -- the most authentic of the authentic Native people use it. Let's talk about what it's like to be Native but look white.
I know: there's the problem of "pretindians" who have a long forgotten "full-blooded" Indian relative, and those who have a Cherokee princess great-grandmother. I'm sure you've heard of a few "scandals" over the last few years, those who claim an identity but it seems skeptical at best. I don't want to talk about that; our conversations there are too saturated, too predictable. Black-Indian folks got problems as well. We can't hide from state violence, or at least pass as white, and therefore be invisible from it, both as a structural choice and at one's convenience.
A major issue for me, which I haven't heard you speak on, even in private, is your own white skin privilege. Before you stop reading, please hear me out. You see, I'm often read as only Black, unless someone knows me as Black, simply because of my skin color. I'm cool with that. Like your Indigenous ancestry, mine, too, is invisible. But because I'm read as a Black male, the animalistic threat to society, I can't hide. I can't hide my blackness, no matter how white I sound. And I ain planning to. I can't sweep it under rug if I put on white people's moccasins. Society reads me as Black.
...I'm sure you have a well-rehearsed story about your family history -- well-documented -- about how long you've had Native relations, to explain why you look white. It's a shame we have to go through that, huh?. But why don't you talk about your white skin privilege? I know you deal with similar trauma of Native invisibility. People dismiss your identity outright because you look white; and that has a psychic affect I'm sure. But you have a privilege that I don't, at all, and I have yet to hear you acknowledge it. Let me list a few examples of your skin privilege; you can operate in public spaces and enjoy the public and psychological wages of being white at your leisure. You can also access some material benefits of being white if you so desire.
...There is a certain level of power being a white-Indian. Even as you might speak so eloquently about what it means to be Native, how negative representations effect Native people, how Native people are rendered invisible, there are consequences in the framing. You might say that Native people come in all shades of color, but you cloak it within the rhetoric of multiculturalism, without acknowledging the structures of power rooted in whiteness and difference. White people likely equate your hypervisibility with power and authority that is not afforded to a Black-Indian.
Is there racism out there? Absolutely. From whites and from blacks and from people of various colors.
However, this view would be like telling people who grew up wealthier than I did that they should feel guilt and shame over how much money their family had. (In case you're wondering, I grew up middle-class in a non-chi-chi Detroit suburb.)
What also strikes me is what a pernicious thing it has to be, dragging along through life identifying as a victim.
It's become a thing now on campuses -- the Victim Olympics, basically, as I titled this post: People competing to be victimized minorities so they can go around campus (in whatever passes for sackcloth and ashes these days) moaning loudly about how they need special privileges.
Of course, they so often skip class to do these protests -- when the real privilege, for any of us in college in the past century, is simply to be able to be there...attending school, getting a higher education, instead of, say, working on an oil rig or on a road crew.
Like a chalupa, whatever the fuck that is. Yeah, I could Google it. I think it's a kind of dog crossed with Taco Bell pastry.
Khomeni Comes Down Hard On Bicycle-Riding Iranian Sluts!
It's fatwah time again!
Khomeni on those two-wheeled skanks corrupting men and society, from September 10:
"Riding bicycle often attracts the attention of men and exposes the society to corruption, and thus contravenes women's chastity, and it must be abandoned."
Almost makes me teary-eyed that I have a flat tire on my bikiepoo.
Tiny Little SJW Despots
I increasingly get the idea that the "diversity!" and all the other SJW mandates they're screeching for on campuses aren't really the point.
I increasingly suspect that the point for students -- especially those in subjects where the word "hegemony" gets used with some frequency -- is to get their tiny little authoritarian rocks off.
Consider that if you are in the "hegemony!" arena of study, you are unlikely to learn skills or insights that will ever help you get your hands on real-world power. (Out here in the real world, people want to know what you're talking about relatively speedily -- without having to wade through a lot of post-structuralist bullshit.)
If you will never have real-world power, it's then important to get yourself some, well, TSA-style -- that is, to get yourself in a position to tell people who actually do run things how they're doing to have to do it.
That's what's happening on campuses -- like Ithaca College. At Campus Reform, Anthony Gockowski reports that weekly diversity discussion circle was launched -- in response to last fall's student demands (natch!), but nary a student has attended either of the first two sessions.
Out of 30 participants at the first discussion group on September 4, not one was a student. Attendance was even lower at the next week's meeting, and still no students were in attendance.
Hmmm, kind of like it's more about making the college do things than actually having a session anybody cares about.
There's doing something of value and then there's the look of doing something of value.
Like the rape crisis centers on campus that Katie Roiphe wrote about.
Nobody called. Nobody came.
Hmm...perhaps that because the women most in danger of being raped are poor and homeless women in dangerous urban areas.
Now there's where those shiny rape crisis centers would come in handy. Hmm, and maybe even a bed or two and a sandwich.
Unfortunately, getting all of that done doesn't fit any multi-culti mandates.
Linkie with artificial artificiality.
Have You Ever Changed A Diaper? You're A Sex Offender In Arizona
Check out a state Supreme Court decision in Arizona. Lenore Skenazy reports in Reason:
In a state Supreme Court ruling that came out last week, the justices determined that intentionally or knowingly touch the private parts of a child under age 15 is automatically a felony.
...According to the decision in State v. Holle, if defendants can prove that they were "not motivated by sexual interest," then they can avoid being deemed sex offenders. But this places the burden of proof on the accused to prove their innocence, not the state to prove their guilt. The state no longer has to demonstrate that the contact was non-sexual--the accused party has to prove that.
You think -- nobody's going to actually get charged for that, you think?
Guess what: Broadly written laws are abused to jail somebody who can't be dragged into a cage on some other charge.
So, as Fordham law prof John Pfaff points out that even if you can prove yourself innocent, being charged with child molesting is "going to ruin your life ...Prosecutors [can] use these tools in ways that are very hard to see."
Death In The Big City -- Just Business As Usual Under Islam
The Muslim Mayor of London, Saddiq Khan, called terrorist attacks "part and parcel" of life in a big city in an article in the Evening Standard/UK.
He omitted the part about Islam commanding Muslims to slaughter the dirty kuffars. Many Muslims, of course, do not follow Islam's commands.
Muslims are told to fight unbelievers until they are either dead, converted to Islam, or in a permanent state of subjugation under Muslim domination. Allowing people of other faiths to live and worship independently of Islamic rule is not an option.
...Muhammad's efforts to recruit peacefully at Mecca netted less than 100 followers in 13 years - mostly friends and family. His tactics changed drastically during his last ten years. Once he obtained the power to do so, he began forcing others to accept his claims about himself at the point of a sword. In many places in the Hadith, he tells his followers that he has been ordered by Allah to fight unbelievers until they profess their faith in Islam (the Shahada).
...Through the centuries, Muslims have forced Christians, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, Zoroastrians, pagans and others to accept Islam, either by bluntly offering them death as an alternative, or by making their lives so miserable (ie. taxes, denial of rights...) that the conquered eventually convert to Islam under the strain.
Forced conversions persist among extremists. Recently in Egypt, a Christian girl was kidnapped and told that she would be raped if she did not convert. In 2010, an 11-year-old Christian boy in Pakistan was kept enslaved in chains (1, 2) by his Muslim landlord, who proudly told the world that he would liberate the lad if he embraced Islam.
Neither of these examples of attempted forced conversion was condemned by Islamic organizations, even in the West. From the Muslim perspective, the victim in each case technically retains the "choice" to convert, even if the only alternative is death. In fact, some even lauded the Pakistani slave-owner for being magnanimous in offering freedom and debt relief to his subject for embracing Islam.
Since Muslims believe so sincerely that their religion is truth, they often can't help but feel, on some level, that forced conversion is more of a favor done to the subject - a case of the end justifying the means. As Muhammad said, "Allah marvels at those who are brought to paradise in chains" (Bukhari 52:254).
After the high-profile kidnapping and forced conversion of hundreds of Christian girls by Boko Haram in 2014, a Muslim woman in the UK famously proclaimed that they had actually been "liberated" from the "shackles of slavery."
Back to how many Muslims practice Islam in a sort of "Christmas Christian" way, the problem is that it doesn't take "many" to leave bombs around the city. Just one.
Friends of Rahami's who spoke with media outlets trace the roots of his radicalism to his trips to jihadist hotbeds in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
...Rahami began wearing traditional Muslim robes after one trip to Afghanistan, two friends, Amarjit Singh and Jonathan Wagner, told the New York Times. He grew a beard and began praying in the back of his family's chicken restaurant.
As a person who furnished her NYC pads with furniture found on the street, I love how these bombs were discovered.
And I know I'm not supposed to say this, but thank goodness it isn't Jews wanting to murder everyone, because then a lot of people would be injured or dead.
Who Do We Blame For How Well Asians Are Doing?
Josh Zumbrun has this chart in a WSJ piece on US poverty and income equality. Check out how well Asians are doing:
As Zumbrun notes:
The median Asian family earns $14,000 more than the median white family, which earns nearly $18,000 more than the median Hispanic family, which earns about $8,000 more than the median black family.
Don't forget that Asians have been subject to a great deal of discrimination -- and even now, are often judged differently for college, because so many do so well. (There's this notion that we need "diverse" campuses; we can't have all Asian faces. Well, if they earned their way in, why the hell not?)
What to Asian families have that other families don't? Intact families. And then some. From an NBC News piece:
Asian Americans are twice as likely as whites to live in households with at least two adult generations.
From a 2012 Pew survey on "The Rise of Asian Americans":
Asian Americans are the highest-income, best-educated and fastest-growing racial group in the United States. They are more satisfied than the general public with their lives, finances and the direction of the country, and they place more value than other Americans do on marriage, parenthood, hard work and career success, according to a comprehensive new nationwide survey by the Pew Research Center.
A century ago, most Asian Americans were low-skilled, low-wage laborers crowded into ethnic enclaves and targets of official discrimination. Today they are the most likely of any major racial or ethnic group in America to live in mixed neighborhoods and to marry across racial lines. When newly minted medical school graduate Priscilla Chan married Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg last month, she joined the 37% of all recent Asian-American brides who wed a non-Asian groom.1
These milestones of economic success and social assimilation have come to a group that is still majority immigrant. Nearly three-quarters (74%) of Asian-American adults were born abroad; of these, about half say they speak English very well and half say they don't.
Asian Americans have a pervasive belief in the rewards of hard work. Nearly seven-in-ten (69%) say people can get ahead if they are willing to work hard, a view shared by a somewhat smaller share of the American public as a whole (58%). And fully 93% of Asian Americans describe members of their country of origin group as "very hardworking"; just 57% say the same about Americans as a whole.
Next Best Thing To Having A Gorilla
Today's Deal -- Gorilla Carts at Amazon. For garden and utility work. Heavy, heavy-duty.
Another Today's Deal -- huge sale on The Man From Uncle, complete series. And something called "Chuck," seasons one through five. They're holding guns. I like that.
To buy stuff not seen through my links, Search Amy's Amazon. And thank you -- so much -- all of you who support my work on this site by shopping through my links.
Find A Good Kid Who Tries To Do The Right Thing And Suspend Him From School For A Year
Robby Soave writes at Reason of a kid, 12-year-old Kyler Davies, who found a knife in a leather case in a backpack his mom bought from Goodwill. In other words, it was just there in the backpack. He didn't put it there:
Kyler was at school--Coldwater Community Schools in Branch County, Michigan--when he discovered the knife. He promptly told a counselor about it.
He was suspended for one full year.
The idiots running the schools there later reduced his suspension to 30 days.
A suspension that shouldn't exist at all. (The message to kids: "If you see something, say nothing.")
On a positive note, this should teach Kyle things he wouldn't have learned at school -- like to always question authority.
Welcome To Unintended Consequences-ville, SJW-Style
SJWs "mean well, but accidentally starve some children," notes Mises Institute fellow Tom Woods. He explains that it's capitalism that ended child labor, not government laws against it:
In response to something I'd written about labor unions, a critic started badgering me about child labor.
What a terrible feature of capitalism, he said.
No, it was a terrible feature of all of world history, I replied.
Thank goodness for people who passed laws against it, he said.
No, I said, thank goodness for capitalism, which created enough wealth that families didn't have to send their kids to work anymore just to avoid starvation.
Then I was asked: do I really believe my kids would be better off in a factory (than in school, presumably)?
As if the choice we're talking about is between factory work and school! The actual choice faced by these families is between factory work and starvation.
The British charity Oxfam found that in Bangladesh, where the government caved in to Western demands to suppress child labor, the children -- you'll never guess -- didn't wind up in school! How about that.
Where did they wind up? In prostitution, or dead.
Nice going, geniuses.
I write about this sort of thing in "Good Manners for Nice People Who Sometimes Say F*ck." It's called "pathological altruism," and describes deeds intended to help that actually hurt -- sometimes both the helper and the person they're trying to help:
[Dr. Barbara] Oakley notes that we are especially blind to the ill effects of over- giving when whatever we're doing allows us to feel particularly good, virtuous, and benevolent. To keep from harming ourselves or others when we're supposed to be helping, Oakley emphasizes the impor- tance of checking our motives when we believe we're doing good. "People don't realize how narcissistic a lot of 'helping' can be," she told me. "It's all too easy for empathy and good deeds to really be about our self-image or making ourselves happy or comfortable."
One example of this is The New York Times series on nail salons -- intended to help the workers but actually keeping a number of them from being able to get work...work they were able to get before the crackdowns the NYT piece led to. From Reason's Jim Epstein:
Salon owners have also stopped hiring unlicensed workers, whether they're undocumented or not. By law, every manicurist working in New York State must complete 250 hours of training at a beauty school, which costs about $1,000, and then obtain a government-issued license. This is a barrier to entry, and some aspiring manicurists can't afford the time or tuition. There are some salon owners in the industry who, up until recently, were willing to hire them anyway because they were desperate for employees and the state rarely checked. Cuomo's task force changed that.Assemblyman Ron Kim (D-District 40) |||
Kim sponsored a state law, passed in July, that attempted to remedy the situation. The bill made it legal for nail salons to hire workers as apprentices receiving on-the-job training. After a year, they're eligible for a state license without attending beauty school.
Few are utilizing the apprenticeship program. "It needs tweaking," Kim admits. Despite assurances to the contrary from state officials, Kim says he's hearing on the ground that when signing up for the program, applicants are being asked their citizenship status, which is scaring off many would-be apprentices.
Licensed workers legally working in the U.S. have also been hurt by the inspections. "Workers themselves prefer to be paid in cash, and it's not just at nail salons," says Kim. Salon owners have started recording every dollar that passes through their shops to avoid getting fined. The inspection task force has had "unintended consequences," he says.
The biggest victims, however, are people like Jing Ren, the main character in the Times series. Ren, 20, is undocumented, penniless, and "recently arrived from China." Instead of paying $1,000 for salon school, she signed on as a trainee at a shop in Long Island. By the end of the article, she's making $65 per day in base wages.
When weaving its cartoonish tale of evil bosses and oppressed workers, the Times never considers what would happen if all of the nail salons willing to hire Jing Ren disappeared. Would future immigrants like her be better or worse off?