Monday, July 27, 2015

 

Fourth Thoughts on the New Season of True Detective

Fruit of the Poisonous Tree. That's a legal concept, very well known, that evidence uncovered by illegal acts of the government (usually by the police) is inadmissible at court. Keep that in mind.


I have a big, big problem with the leit motiv in both seasons that big businessmen, members of the government and religious leaders love to make snuff films. Sorry. I find that highly unlikely. I'm willing to believe the mild corruption shown in the "chocolate sandwich" section of O Lucky Man! Heck, we have a real life version of that with Ted Kennedy lore. I'm even willing to believe that rich and powerful men get together for orgies (as in Eyes Wide Shut and last night's episode) from time to time. It's more difficult for me to believe few of the participants are going into private rooms but are humping away in hallways, but perhaps that's just me. It seems to me that rich men would have no trouble getting dates and failing that, getting prostitutes sent to their house or a motel room. I don't know what lure the sex party has over private room sex. I have never been with a prostitute so I don't know but I would think that rich, successful men wouldn't find much stimulation in a woman who could be a prostitute. Sorry if I'm defaming you, O cultured and interesting prostitute. But the idea that rich, successful men long to kill a woman and record it, thus making it easier to catch them, is just ludicrous. And keep in mind, the snuff films in both seasons of TD are not a lone psychopath recording his lonely, evil deeds, but a group thing, a production by others of a non-psychopath (ostensibly) doing the killing for the viewing pleasure of himself and others. There just aren't many of those. I don't believe it is a common occurrence among the rich and successful. Perhaps I've led too sheltered a life.


There is indeed danger in a police officer going undercover and part of it is the danger of being found out and murdered and part of it is having to do criminal things to keep up the undercover front of the officer. Did Ani really think she could pose as a prostitute at the orgy and not have either to fuck or to kill someone? And if it was the latter, was she really counting on self defense to save her? And even lamer is the "back-up" provided by the other two stars. When you come onto private property, guns drawn, to break into the house in order to protect an undercover officer, it will be difficult to explain your assault or killing of the private security personnel at the house. Self defense or defense of others is a long shot. Ani appears to have murdered someone. There was no imminent threat of violence when she stabbed the guy. The violence came after she stabbed him (to death?).


And after the armed burglary of an occupied house to obtain the incriminating contracts (do criminals really make documents to record their criminal behavior?) there is no chance in hell that either those actual documents or any evidence uncovered using the information they contain will ever be introduced into evidence at trial. None whatsoever. How do our intrepid three detectives plan to explain how they got the documents? (A CI gave them to me and I don't know how he got them; certainly I didn't tell him to get them). Not a chance. The bad guys report the assault on the guard, the burglary and theft of documents so that the actual evidence of the assault and burglary exist in a police investigation and they are home free. Oh yeah, they could report the murder too. That would get some police involvement. One of the female guests stabbed this guy for no reason and fled the scene. No, officer we don't know who she is.


So just when you were hoping for a turn for the better, True Detective took a turn for the worse. Still have no idea who killed the comptroller, Caspere, or why. I can't tell if that is a good thing or not.

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Sunday, July 26, 2015

 

Thought of the Day

White Privilege is a racist term used by racists to stoke resentment. This is the sort of nonsense that sparks backlashes.


Unfrozen CaveShoe (whoever that is)

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Friday, July 24, 2015

 

Self Delusion on Display

This is a page from the playbook of the left: When non-lefties show the left on video recordings being wholly distasteful, those who were recorded, and their apologists, attack the people making the recordings. The first step is to say, they've edited the recording to make the wholly distasteful subject of the recording seem worse than he or she really is. They've edited it to such a degree as to make the recording false, or so they allege.

The left said just that about the two recordings (so far) by Center for Medical Progress showing members of Big Abortion being wholly distasteful about the sale of aborted baby parts. They edited the tapes, they accused. That's all out of context; that's all false what they're showing. Then But the Center for Medical Progress had already produced the unedited recordings and the subjects were just as distasteful as in the short version; and what they actually said was in no way out of context in the "heavily edited" versions. If anything, the long versions are worse.

So it's back to the drawing board for the left. Strike two in this case is to claim, falsely, that the recordings are manipulated and distorted. Cue Dr. Len Gunter in the New Republic. (There is no reason in the world for any intelligent person to read anything in the New Republic now, but sometimes things are thrust upon you).

Here are the good doctor's arguments and my responses thereto:

1) The group claims the videos demonstrate that Planned Parenthood profits from fetal tissue donation (which would be illegal) and that they are “haggling” over the price of “baby parts.”
As an OB/GYN, I can tell you that neither of these claims are true. These are not "baby parts".
You see, as Dr. Gunter explains, the proper medical term for the aborted babies is "products of conception" -- "babies" are the fetuses that are born, not aborted. So in not using the proper medical terms, the whole video before your eyes and ears is false, false, false (or at least manipulated), or so they claim. Ah, but what's in a name, that which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet. Not the grandest of defenses. I also don't believe the claim was 'profit', but merely that Planned Parenthood 'sells' the fetal tissue, which it does. Thus the first claim of falseness is mere strawman argument, a rhetorical fallacy.

2) There is no reason a conversation about products of conception requires more or less reverence than one about a kidney or a biopsy specimen.  

Spoken like someone completely desensitized by the business of aborting babies, sorry, fetuses, as another doctor, Charles Krauthammer, notes today here.


3) Hearing medical professionals negotiate with a private buyer over the price for collecting tissue may also seem distasteful, but there is indeed an expense involved for the donor (in this case, Planned Parenthood)... There’s no way there’s a profit at that price,”

Well, it's certainly OK if Planned Parenthood loses money on the sale of the fetal tissue. Nothing at all wrong about the sale of aborted fetus parts then. But this part of the article by Dr. Gunter completely supports the description of the negotiations as "haggling" over the price of the parts. But haggling over the price of the parts is supposed to be false in the good doctor's view. Hmmm?

Then the article goes full, honest-to-God, projection. Behold the big finish:


Just as there are people who believe the moon landing was faked, there are those who refuse to believe that the full scope of reproductive health care is grounded in medical evidence. As the facts are inconvenient, the only option is to circumvent them by any means possible. These videos are the kind of propaganda that only reinforces those fixed, false beliefs. 

There are indeed people who believe the moon landings were faked. We call those people idiots who have somehow convinced themselves that something that actually happened didn't actually happen. It's not a good metaphor for the pro-life half of America, but it is a good metaphor for Dr. Gunter and her ilk in this article (and the ones linked to above). They think the abortionists don't kill babies-to-be. They think abortionists are promoting health.

"...there are those who refuse to believe that the full scope of reproductive health care is grounded in medical evidence." What? Does that even begin to make sense in light of each and every word in the article which have preceded it? The point of the videos is not to show that abortion is not part of medical science, but that its practice has a societal price beyond the dead fetus. For one, it makes the practitioners seem wholly distasteful in their choice of medical focus and in how they react to that choice. This part of the article is sheer blather, designed to hide rather than reveal. It gets worse.


"If the facts are inconvenient, the only option is to circumvent them by any means possible." How could Dr. Gunter write this and not see herself doing just what she describes? I don't end nascent lives, she tells herself (and us, between the lines), I provide health care. Maybe for the mother-to-be in some cases you do, but for the baby-to-be, well, not so much. And when you're ending a pregnancy merely because it's inconvenient for the woman to give birth to her baby, it is difficult for any intelligent person to call that health care. Those, I'm sure, are inconvenient facts to the abortionists and the rabid supporters of abortion on the left.

"These videos are the kind of propaganda that only reinforces those fixed, false beliefs." Propaganda is the spreading of derogatory information by misleading means in order to influence popular opinion. It has to be misleading to be propaganda. If it's true, then it's called truth. The videos are not false. They show what they show. If they show one's profession in a very bad light, one may hope to call them false and propaganda, but it is a wan hope. It is the desire of the self-deluded. It is also the source of the serious projection Dr. Gunter is displaying in her article.

In that sense, if they weren't so wholly distasteful, you would want to feel sorry for them.

UPDATE: I bought the lefty line that the complete recordings were produced only after the expected cries of deceptive editing were made. Not true. The full recordings were produced at the same time as the slightly edited versions. Here is Mollie Hemingway being extraordinarily persuasive on the subject.

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Monday, July 20, 2015

 

Thought of the Day

Never forget: at the "extreme right" of the political spectrum are the American Founding Fathers. At the extreme left are 100 million dead people.

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Thursday, July 16, 2015

 

Two Thirds Right

Here is an article in the online version of Newsweek (who knew it still existed in any form?) about guns which is 1/3 ignorance and 2/3 good sense. I call that progress. First the list of objectives:
  • Ban accessories that serve no purpose other than to transform guns into weapons of mass slaughter, such as attachable drums that carry 100 rounds.
  • Adopt rules that make it harder for criminals and the mentally ill to obtain firearms.
  • Outlaw the public display of weapons.
  • Allow the concealed carry of guns using the “shall issue” standard.
  • Stop trying to ban scary-looking add-ons that primarily protect the shooter, but don’t make the gun more dangerous to others.
  • Forget attacks on the “armor-piercing bullets.”
  • Abandon efforts to outlaw “assault weapons”—a politically loaded phrase with a mishmash of meanings that pretty much amount to nothing.

  • I am happy to report that I am in favor of 5 of the 7. Wow.


    Let's start with the author, Kurt Eichenwald. He went to St. Marks in Dallas (good-Steve Miller and Boz Scaggs went there too) but then only got into Swarthmore, where he majored in PoliSci between grand mal seizures (poor guy), and has no further degrees, certainly not a JD. So we can safely ignore his legal analysis, which is marginal at best. He has in the past written that we should repeal the 2nd Amendment, so there is that hole in his ability to reason in the real world. The clear analysis of his thoughts on Justice Scalia's opinion in Heller is that Scalia's right and Eichenwald is wrong. And yes Scalia left in place the 20 or so reasons for disqualification of gun ownership, gun free zones, and government intrusion (and taxing) of sales of full auto weapons, explosives and artillery. None of those are bans on ownership, which was the subject of Heller.


    But look on the bright side. 5/7. So much common sense. He's about the first lefty I've ever read to realize that merely cosmetic features don't make a gun more dangerous and that the concept "assault weapon" is vapid. Two cheers for the guy!


    His major flaw is the flaw of all lefties on gun control, his unshakable belief that criminals will obey gun control legislation. Both Jefferson and Madison had the grey matter to know that gun control laws are obeyed only by the law abiding (who won't commit crimes with the guns). Kurt can't seem to get on that bus. Behold.


    Which brings us back to gun accessories. Nowhere in Supreme Court precedent, or in the words of the founders, or in the Second Amendment (either of them) is there a right to attach stuff to a gun, including the add-ons that serve no purpose other than to kill as many people as possible as fast as possible. 
    Some of these accessories are largely unknown outside of the gun crowd, including such nonsensical devices as magazine drums that allow popular weapons such as the AR-15 rifle to fire up to 100 rounds without reloading. 
    Why would any gun enthusiast need 100 rounds?
    No right to attach things to a gun? You mean like a barrel? Like a box magazine? Like a box magazine that you think has too many rounds in it? The reason for standard and large capacity box magazines is so the gun can be shot for a while without reloading. Why are lefties so in favor of reloading more often? Why not make all guns single shots like the muskets and rifles that existed in the late 18th C., then we'd have to reload after every shot? Sorry for the reductio ad absurdum argument. I'll certainly forego stating the obvious that the 1st Amendment protection of freedom of the press applies to media other than just newsprint.


    That shooting a lot of bullets quickly without reloading can be used by mass murders is an insufficient reason for banning certain capacity magazines in light of the plain text, actually written down in the Constitution right to keep and bear arms. Besides, semi-auto fire using standard sized magazines would make the gun compatible with use by the militia which is the heart of the ruling in the Miller case, with which Kurt seems to agree. A car can be used as a weapon of mass murder too, just drive really fast into a crowd; but that fact alone is insufficient to cause rational people to want to ban the car. Cars are used much more often for useful, almost always non-lethal, purposes so that such a ban would be really stupid. It's similar with guns. Tens of millions of rounds are used for paper targets or plinking, mere thousands are used by criminals for assault or murder. And the same logic is true despite the essential purpose of the gun (to hurl a projectile with force and accuracy into flesh) being different from the essential purpose of the car (to move someone from point A to point B quickly). I'll even admit that the primary purpose of a handgun is to hurl the projectile into human flesh. Still not a good reason to defy the framer's clear, written intent and ban certain weapons for being too dangerous.


    As a quick aside, spring technology is ancient and has not really improved in two thousand years. There is only so much capacity you can have in a magazine before the spring fails to lift the cartridges up to be loaded into the chamber on the return stroke of the bolt. Also the upper range of capacity is curtailed by the strength of the spring in another way. If the spring is robust enough to lift 40 rounds or so, you can hardly depress it sufficiently in order to load lots of rounds into the magazine in the first place. 20 to 30 is the standard range of box spring capacity. After that problems start. We, with the Thompson, and the Soviets with the PPSh 41, increased magazine capacity with drum magazines which are still spring powered but you can load the drum full of cartridges and then engage the spring. Yes, James Holmes used twin drums on his S&W version of the AR-15 but it jammed and he stopped shooting. So not exactly nonsensical, as Kurt claims, but drums are merely a slight improvement in capacity to straight box magazines. Still all spring loaded magazines have an actual, technical upper limit with which I'm OK. Not so with gun ignorant lefties. Back to the article.


    But if anyone asks why do you need some configuration of gun equipment, that person's bias and ignorance has already been laid bare. It's not a question of need, but of freedom. The bill of rights is one ban on government interference with freedom after another. 'I want it' is enough to guarantee that I can keep and bear it free from government entanglements. Plain text, actually written down in the Constitution. Besides, as Bob Dylan sang, your debutante knows what you need, I know what you want. The government does not know anything about either my needs or desires. I am standing on clear, text-supported ground to say, stay out of my decision which firearm I wish to keep and bear. Kurt seems not to be down with that.


    And the reloading myth is strong with this crowd. They love to point out that both the murderers, on the Long Island train and at Gabby Giffords' meet and greet, were overcome when they stopped to reload. Yes, and the murderers at Va Tech, Sandy Hook, Fort Hood and Columbine were not. And there is the supreme problem with drawing the line (below where spring technology draws it, that is). With a ban on magazines that hold more than 15 or 10 or 7, you're necessarily saying that we can live with 7 or 10 or 15 dead victims but the 8th, 11th or 16th is somehow more precious to the state. No rational person will admit this is a good reason for unconstitutional gun legislation, mainly because it's not.


    Where we disagree, even when we agree, is about efforts to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and the insane. Kurt says that half of all gun sales are between private buyers and do not involve a background check. I doubt that very much. In fact, if it's over 20% I'd be amazed. But of course I have the right to sell my gun to whomever I chose and with that comes the responsibility not to knowingly sell it to a criminal or a madman. The government that necessarily trusts us to keep and bear arms should also trust us to use the same good sense we show being responsible gun owners when we become gun sellers from time to time.


    The criminal element will always be able to get firearms no matter how many laws we pass. That's a real world, well known fact which makes a mockery of gun control laws. They only are followed by the law-abiding who need no restrictions at all.


    Kurt also defames in ignorance the position of the NRA regarding "tightening up" the ban on gun sales to the mentally ill. Jeez, the NRA publishes a monthly magazine (3 in fact) which contain the same position articles regarding, on this subject, the well reasoned opposition to the proposed rules so far trotted out by the anti-gun ilk. I don't think Kurt has bothered to read them. It is medical privacy on steroids and the cruel and counterproductive closing of mental institutions which has allowed some guns to get into the hands of madmen. That's the mountain compared to the molehill of NRA opposition to overreaching on what mental illness should take away your 2nd Amendment rights. Should depression do it? How about PTSD? The sound limit is being judged to be a danger to oneself or others. Unfortunately, due largely to lefty support of mental illness rights, too few psychopaths are ever subject to that judicial scrutiny. Don't blame the NRA for that.

    The last bit of disagreement is about open carry. He actually advocates 'shall issue' concealed carry permits but opposes open carry. What? Does the sight of guns offend him? This is an internally incoherent set of positions in the context of this eye-opening article.

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    Monday, July 13, 2015

     

    Third Thoughts on the Second Season of True Detective

    That was an intense firefight. Full-auto AKs and explosions and lots of redshirts caught in the spray and pray from the gangsters. I liked very much how the visual narrative cogently followed the three detectives through the chaos. All of them acted bravely but Farrall's character clearly was the bravest and Kitsch's was the most competent (very good gunfighting stance). I think he shot the majority of the bad guys. I even liked it that the female detective, who was out of ammunition and could not find any help on a slain cop nearby, pulled out her curved knife with a finger hole (like the knives of the second baddest ass in The Raid 2) as if she was actually going to take a knife to a gun fight.

    I'm thinking without real evidence that the gangsters were tipped off just before the cops arrived which allowed them to prepare to fight but not to get away cleanly. The cops were in the middle of the street rather than along the building, after all, but perhaps nothing would have hidden them in the broad daylight. There were several headshots but that is not necessary for a suddenly fatal shot with the intermediate round the AK fires (7.62 v 39mm). The bullets go right through the class of vest the cops were wearing (only really heavy military vests stop intermediate rounds--nothing stops full sized rifle rounds). The headshot is dramatic though.

    Oh, and there were some developments before the firefight but for the life of me I can't recall them now.

    It's possible that the single take, moving camera filming of the botched robbery in the 4th episode of the first season was purer cinematically, but this was very exciting, even harrowing. See, I told you the series was coming along.

    Look upon these works ,you cynics, and despair.

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    Giant Fortifications Discovered on Pluto


    See the polygonal straight lines between 8 and 9 o'clock on the left side of Pluto? What's that line from Prometheus? Oh yea, God does not build in straight lines.

    Maybe this will be like the canals on Mars which 19th and early 20th Century astronomers claimed to have seen, and the next image will show something not so linear and angled with greater resolution as the robot photographer approaches closer, but for now...

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    Sunday, July 12, 2015

     

    You Can Lead a Horse to Water...

    Despite his Magna Cum Laude degree from Grambling State University, NYT columnist Charles Blow has never shown any strength in logic or recognizing the bleeding obvious. Case in point, his recent piece here.


    Confronted with the widely known but little publicized fact that the numbers of black on black murders completely dwarf the few tragic deaths of black men by police officers each year, Mr. Blow refuses to acknowledge what is staring him in the face and retreats to extremely shopworn excuses. At least he doesn't blame slavery. Behold.


    [The black murder statistic] has fueled something of a debate about whether all black lives matter — including those taken by community violence — or whether that designation is reserved only for lives taken by state violence.
    But this is a wedge in search of a crack. To me, there is no discontinuity between these lives because there is no way to separate structural violence from community violence.


    So all Black Lives Matter, but all black murder victims are the result of white racism and not the individual choice of the murderers of the black victims (and more than 95% of the murderers are black themselves).

    His specific laying of blame is remarkably lame:


    Concentrated poverty is a direct result of structural inequity, and that concentrated poverty is attended by hopelessness and desperation, all of which are a prime breeding ground for violence. 

    People didn’t simply wake up one day with a burning desire to live in the poorest, most violent parts of our cities. Generations of discriminatory housing, banking and employment practices created those powder kegs. And then we blame racial culture rather than racist culture for their constant explosions.

    Concentrated poverty has a number of causes but what exactly is the "structural inequity" he's talking about? I'm not even sure poor people are more violent than rich people but most criminals I met in the criminal justice system were stupid. Are there any studies about concentrated stupidity and crime?
    And is this sentence his definition of "structural inequity": Generations of discriminatory housing, banking and employment practices created those powder kegs? I couldn't get a loan so I murdered someone? I have to admit that I'm not seeing the connection. Maybe he explains this below. But my last question about this section is: Do blacks have a racial culture? Is it different from white culture or Asian culture? Let's move on. Mr. Blow is unhappy with what he calls the reductive either/or argument regarding personal responsibility and structural oppression, whatever that is. So he offers this.


    Actually, the more nuanced and sophisticated position is that personal choices are made within a social construct, and that construct is heavily influenced by oppressive forces — interpersonal biases, structural inequities, aversion to otherness.


    How "interpersonal biases" is the oppressive force causing black crime is unfortunately beyond my ability to comprehend. He can't be saying blacks have a bias against blacks? If bias was the oppressive force from whites onto blacks, wouldn't blacks strike back against whites and leave members of their own race alone? And I have no idea what "aversion to otherness" means in this context. But he is merely repeating the meme 'structural inequity' which he totally failed to illustrate in  a meaningful way earlier in the piece. Is it possible that he means "life is hard" or "life isn't fair"? This part of the piece comes off like a very bad undergraduate paper for some sort of social science class. It's a retreat into jargon rather than an illumination of his point. And it doesn't get a lot better.


    More people are now opening their eyes to the totality of this image, realizing with supreme frustration that one can’t simply earn one’s way up out of oppression, that oppression must be dismantled from the top down.


    "...one can't simply earn one's way up out of oppression"? Can't you get up out of oppression by refusing to be oppressed? By living by a code of right actions, by taking responsibility for wrong actions? I believe human behavior can change over time but it is an ocean liner going full speed ahead and it takes a while to turn one way or another. On the other hand, it's been over 50 years since we ended the Democrats' structural oppression through Jim Crow laws. Blaming that for the problem of crime in the inner city neighborhoods now is getting to be a lot like blaming slavery for those problems. I don't think he's blaming the new Democrat tactic for the black community's problems. I doubt he even sees it. Working toward the big finish.


    More people are realizing that in a moment of greatest distress and danger, nothing else you have ever done will matter if all the person who poses the threat sees is a body not to be valued. When he pulls a gun, you can’t pull a résumé.


    So if you try to be good and do good works but you can be a victim of crime, why bother to be good? That's a patently specious argument. And if the person who poses the threat to the black person, who only sees a body not to be valued, is nearly 95% of the time black as well, as it is, then how does this thought even fit into the blame shifting argument he has been incoherently crafting for the whole of the piece? I can't be safe no matter what I do, so I'll victimize others of my community to make up for it?


    The structure itself is robbing a people of what I would call “trickle down optimism,” the ability of people who do all the right things and make all the right choices to say: “See, this works. This is the path to safety and happiness and freedom.”  
    Instead, they are developing a rage at the realization that no amount of acting right and doing right can completely protect them.
    More life isn't fair complaints. You can indeed do all the right things and still die in a traffic accident not your fault and not avoidable. Safety and happiness and freedom and complete protection are difficult to come by for any human. But even though the piece started off looking at binders and binders of black murder victims in New Orleans, he's ignoring the fact that year after year more black people are killed by black people than white people are killed by white people and the murder statistic where a white is killed by a black completely dwarfs the statistic regarding a black killed by a white. Yet he's talking about rage in the black community because they are not completely safe. Well certainly not completely safe from being victimized by a fellow black criminal. So the rage of not being safe is causing members of the black community to do things that make the community less safe. Is this really what he's saying?


    His big finish is so lame as to not merit comment.


    The really troubling part is that I think a lot of African Americans do rationalize the horrible crime statistics in this way. It's not us; it's the system. Is this the O'Neil vital lie blacks need to continue to excuse what everyone would call bad behavior?



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