Friday, May 30, 2014

This week's sign of the Apocalypse

It's true you can drown in 4 inches of water, which is why these guys SHOULD HAVE SCUBA GEAR. And WATER WINGS FOR THE DOG!

People if crap like this can happen, why do we even have testosterone at all?

Hat tip to MK

Thursday, May 29, 2014

This Is Bad

At first, I thought that this was pretty funny.  You would have to know Gary, to see why it is funny.  But he would absolutely not see why taking a grenade onto a plane would be a problem.

A political science professor at Stanford University who attempted to bring a World War II-era grenade Tuesday afternoon through security at Los Angeles International Airport — forcing police to evacuate a portion of the airport — was being questioned by police Tuesday evening, three law enforcement sources told the Los Angeles News Group. 

Gary Walter Cox, 58, told authorities the grenade had belonged to his father, who had recently died, the sources said. He thought it was inert but a law enforcement official familiar with the investigation said police determined that it might actually have been live. 

The grenade was spotted by Transportation Security Administration workers during routine screening, a federal law enforcement official said. The Los Angeles Police Department bomb squad was called out to the airport, and Terminal 1 was evacuated at about 3:45 p.m. Police transported the item and later blew it up, the three sources said. The terminal was reopened about 4:20 p.m. 

The reasons it is not funny:

1.  He was returning from his dad's funeral.  Dad has been sick for a while, dad's an old military man.  You can see why Gary wasn't really thinking straight, even by Gary standards.

2.  More importantly, they are going to charge him with a felony.  And he had to stay in jail overnight.

So, in short, my tendency to see things as ironic and amusing is just wrong here.  This is terrible.  You'd have to know Gary to understand this, and the judge won't know that.  The facts are not good.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Symbolism, Posturing, and the Desire to Matter

In the 1980s, the "Divestment" movement was pretty strong.  I wrote this about one battle in that war, at Dartmouth.

Anyway, the logic is that activists can't do much about conditions in South Africa (or Israel, or wherever the Great Eye of Leftism is currently focused, from the Dark Tower of the Times editorial page, ready to call out the orcs from the MSNBC "news"room) directly.  But they can take decisive and effective action by [XXX].  And I have to admit, I pretty much never understand the connection between whatever their chosen XXX is and the actual thing they say they care about.

Of course, the answer is that it's the doing, because it shows the caring.  The connection, in terms of actual effect, is of secondary importance.  What they are going for is to show that they are non-conformists (by dressing in exactly identical ripped jeans and organic free range t-shirts, and being indignant in exactly the same way as everyone else) and that they are good people.  If you disagree with them, even by saying that you doubt their action has any consequence, then you are  bad people.   Facts don't matter at all, because it's the symbolism of the action that matters.  The supposed target is far away and not all that important.  What's important is the mutual congratulations of the activists themselves:  "You are so....ACTIVE!"  "No, YOU are more active.  Really.  I admire your activism!" and so on.

So, a piece, in the Tower of the Great Eye itself, on the utter pointlessness of divestment, at least in terms of effect. 

I don't think it will matter much, of course.  The point is not the effect of action, but the symbolic unity of calling people to action.  This is true for any religion, of course, but it's surprising that the Left does not recognize its religiosity.

In spring semester 1991 I was teaching at UNC, and there was an anti-war activist in my class.  He came up often after class to interrogate me about my views on the war.  I was  not terribly pro-war, but said that--given our energy policy, our commitments to Allies, and the fact that there was an actual UN Resolution (661) that gave at least face legitimacy to ending the occupation by force--I thought his protests were not very useful.

He was enraged by this, and came up with complex reasons why in fact the protests were the key to getting Iraq to leave Kuwait.  Force could never work, but protests by hairy smelly middle class Carrborovians...THAT would show Saddam a thing or two.

We had class on the morning of February 28.  This was the morning after the day when the Iraqis tried to leave, and got smashed like bugs on the "Highway of Death."

I was glad that (it appeared) the war was over.  But Mr. Active was ecstatic, and ready for me to eat crow.  "We did it!  We stopped the war!  Our protests made the difference!"  He was actually standing up in class, and did not let us start the lecture until he got to make his point.

As far as I could tell (he was pretty fired up) the logic was this:  A. There was a war. B. Beard-boy and several of his friends had protested the war.  Earnestly.  C. The war ended.  D. Beard-boy & Co. were heroes. 

Now, I'll admit that if B caused C then D is at least plausible.  So that is the heart of the question.  He did eventually calm down enough to admit that his PARTICULAR protest may not have ended the war, but the SYMBOL of his protest was important.  In fact, the causal relation between all the protests and the end of the war was symbolic.  The symbol of the near-total destruction of the capacity of the Iraqi Army, and the actual destruction of the Iraqi Air Force, were not part of his "end the war peacefully" narrative.  He had said the war should end, and the war had ended.  I assume he also believed in Santa Claus (it's a similar logic...)

That doesn't mean that all protests are pointless, of course.  The Civil Rights protests were important, if only because they were televised and revealed the savagery of the southern apartheid system.  Protests in the Phillipines, Central Europe, Egypt, etc. have caused change, though not always for the better.

The problem that I see is that "protest" in the U.S., especially by U.S. college students, has been relegated to a kind of extra-curricular activity.  It's fine that it's pointless, because it's like an internship.  The whole object of the exercise is the improvement of the protester, not the effectiveness of the protest.

Monday, May 26, 2014


The YYM graduated two weeks ago.

And now he has "moved home."  HE is actually not here, but his stuff is.  Nice.

Monday's Child

1.  Some utterly tone-deaf political ads

2. The difference between the Bolivarian Revolution, and a revolting Bolivian.  Evo decides he wants to be a Sport Boy.  And who are YOU to say no?

3.  Charlie Rangel gots GAME, bud.

4.  An experiment and some work I have had a TINY role in supporting (through a kind of crowdsourcing).  Very interesting:  fungus makes ants bit a twig and lock down.  They hang on until they die, and their entire insides are eaten by the fungus.  The interesting thing is the biting down:  it keeps the ant "safe" as a host for the fungus.  The ant doesn't want to bite down, and certainly doesn't want to lock down until it dies.  But the fungus takes over.

5.  Angus has been spending a lot of time in Santa Fe. And this happened in Santa Fe.  Coincidence?  I don't think so...


Sunday, May 25, 2014

Your Holiday Sign of the Apocalypse

What shall we call this? peek-a-boo bibs? bibless bibs? a Gotha tuxedo?

People, if crap like this can happen, why do we even have a government at all?

Hat tip to Mrs. Angus