Thursday, August 18, 2016


The Dumbest Thing We Did in Korea, and the Smartest

It was pretty freakin' hot in Korea in August--38 degrees Celsius, or 100 degrees in American. So we decided to climb up a steep sided caldera. Behold.

It was, I don't know, 1800 yards high. That doesn't sound like a lot, I guess, but it means a whole lot of stairs. Did I mention it was about 100 degrees hot out there in the sun?

This is inside the caldera all green and pretty.

Back to the steep sided seafront.

So even two, icy drinks at Starbucks (black tea and green grapes, extraordinarily delicious and not available here in the states) after the climb down did not restore my usual core body temperature and it was pretty miserable even in the air conditioned car. But then we made a good choice. Let's go see the huge complex of lava tubes in the interior of the island, we said. (Oh, we were on Jeju, a teardrop shaped semi-tropic island in the Yellow Sea off the southwest corner of Korea).

Lava tubes, as the name might suggest, are tubes of solid stone through which lava has flowed (and cooled and solidified on the outside creating the tube in the first place) so they are long, slightly meandering caves with black rock flowstone insides, very like the walls inside of the alien space ships in Alien and Prometheus.

Here's the entrance from the surface.

Every step down into the tube cooled down about two degrees. So we went from 100 to about 45 American degrees. It was a very heaven below ground.

Sometimes the ceiling collapses creating a high dome like ceiling. The ceiling shown here is of other rock than solidified lava and had that not been there the ceiling collapse would have created a different entrance to the tube.

Details of the walls of the tube.

I'm not certain, because the floor of the tube is rough and could be original cooled last run of lava, but I tend to think it's man-made disguised to look like it cooled lava. It certainly was at a very useful height for human visitors. Last two.

Sometimes, cooled lava rocks fall into the stream of lava but are not re-melted and create rafts. This one is remarkable for its similarity to the whole island of Jeju. You can see cooled lava adding to the edge of the raft on the left.

It's very common for tubes to be on top of each other and sometimes lava leaks from above, like here.

This tube was the only one we went in but there are about a dozen there, some of which they let you enter, with very different features (like ground water stalagmites and stalactites, etc.).

Apparently the best lava tubes in continental America are the Ape Cave (or Caves) on the south slope of Mt. St. Helens north east of Portland, OR in Washington state. I'm so interested in these tubes because of some knowledge of them from the "color" Mars book series by Kim Stanley Robinson. Because of the difference in gravity, the tubes would be even larger on Mars. Good place for the doomed volunteers to spend their last days a few decades from now. You could seal one end and pump in an atmosphere and heat. Perhaps even put in some skylight windows and create a greenhouse. Just an idea (from author Robinson).



Dragon Lore

I was pretty much finished with visiting Korean Temples (Buddhist), as beautiful and impressive as they are, from the multiple visits we made to them the last time I was in Korea. But my son talked me into going out to one more near Busan. It's on the coast and beautiful, he said. It was also a long, long way past the last subway station. But it was worth it. The leit motiv for the temple was a dragon battling some other thing. I have never been able to discover what that thing was. You tell me.

The temple, as all of them are, was indeed beautiful. Here are a few more photos.



This Is More Like It

Instapundit has a recurring meme where he decries things getting worse (This is not the 21st Century I was promised) or applauds things getting better (This is more like the 21st Century I was promised). I can play that game.

These are tracks, if that's the right word, for the Maglev train from the airport in Inchon, Korea out to some hotels, parking lots and a waterpark. My photography generally sucks but I think you can see that there are no tracks. Those are my legs and elegant travel bag reflected in the glass door (and wall) that separate a lot of trains and subways from the platforms in Korea and Japan. Their death rate from suicides jumping in front of oncoming trains and from accidental falls (and from homicides of people pushed onto the tracks, like D'Onofrio in that great episode of Homicide) is nearly zero.

Here is the train on the trackless tracks entering the terminus. You'll just have to take my word for it that there were no wheels on the train for running on the trackless tracks. Magnetic energy from electricity lifts the train and changes in polarity in the trackless tracks accelerates the train down the track and to the destinations. Inside the train there is almost no noise and the acceleration is smooth and somewhat impressive in it strength. Outside the train, one hears an electric hum, not that loud but you can hear it clearly.

The downside is the Maglev is so finicky that the Koreans warn you not to take it if you have a plane to catch and even a light rain will shut down the system which only runs for about 8 hours a day in the first place. Baby steps.

Still, kinda cool.


Monday, August 01, 2016


I'm Beginning to Think that Logic is Not a Democrat Value

Once more unto the breach, dear friends. Here's former Brady Center VP Denis Henigan failing to see the bleeding obvious in The Daily Beast. He's counting down the three arguments against further gun control laws he finds most fault with. Let's get to it.

Guns Don’t Kill People, People Kill People
This is the granddaddy of them all, a brilliantly clever way of conveying two related ideas: (1) because guns themselves are morally neutral objects that become a problem only when used by dangerous people, it makes sense only to focus on punishing bad people who use guns, rather than regulating guns themselves;

It's difficult for me to see what is wrong with the logic of the statements above. I wouldn't say only focus on punishing bad people but the major focus must be there if what you propose is to be effective and not mere harassment or punishment for the law abiding. But that's only the first of his objections on this issue about guns being mere steel, plastic, and alloy. He sets up a straw man next.

and (2) even if dangerous people can’t get guns, they will simply use other weapons to inflict death and injury. In short, there is no gun problem; there is only a people problem.

Our argument is not that the laws making it more difficult for the law abiding to buy a gun will be followed by those willing to violate the murder or assault statutes; so that those with murder on their minds will turn to a second best, other type of weapon, not a gun. What we actually say is they won't obey the gun ownership prohibitions and will get guns through other, generally illegal means. The criminologists who actually asked criminals where they got their guns with which they had committed crimes learned that universal background checks will do next to nothing to stop the criminals from obtaining firearms. Here is the study. The rest of Henigan's writing on this straw man argument is specious. Moving on.

Criminals Don’t Obey Gun Laws, Only Law-Abiding Citizens Do
This is the futility argument. According to the National Rifle Association and its allies, since gun laws are directed at criminals, who of course pay no attention to any laws (that’s why they’re called criminals), gun control can’t possibly be effective, except in making it harder for law-abiding citizens to have guns to defend themselves.
This is what we say and we say it because it's true. What could Mr. Henigan have against it? Let's see:

First, the argument is transparently circular. Of course, as to individuals who are willing to disobey gun laws, the laws are futile by definition. But what about the possibility that there are potentially violent individuals who are deterred from carrying guns by the illegality of doing so? Surely compliance with a law cannot be determined merely by looking at the instances of when the law is violated. If it could, we would regard all our criminal laws as ultimately futile because all of them are frequently violated. Should we repeal our laws against homicide because murderers don’t obey them?

But it is silly to compare gun control laws proposed by Henigan's ilk to the homicide statute. Murder is malum in se. A requirement of a background check, permission from the government to exercise a God given right, is malum prohibitum. And of course we look at the compliance rate of malum prohibitum laws to see if they're worthwhile. Think Prohibition and its repeal. Not only was the law flouted by non-criminal citizens but the ban on booze was having a detrimental effect on law enforcement and society in general. Prohibition made things worse not better.

There is indeed a "possibility" that a hardened criminal will not carry a gun for fear of being caught with it. (That's what the successful 'stop and frisk' program in NYC was relying on. If you have a decent chance of getting in serious trouble for merely carrying a gun illegally, many criminals will not carry one. Of course Henigan and his ilk hated that Giuliani program which brought NYC homicides down from nearly 2,000 a year in 1992 and 1993 to 909 in 2002. Under Bloomberg the trend continued down to 333 in 2014 but now that Democrat de Blasio has stopped the effective anti-crime programs of his predecessors, the murder rate has started back up). But the new prohibitions proposed by the Brady Center are not stop and frisk enforcement but universal background checks and prohibiting those on the terrorist list from buying a gun legally. Henigan praises those proposed laws but misses the point completely. Criminals don't get guns from places where they have to go through a background check to get them. So expanding the background checks, from federal firearm license holders to every person who obeys the law and sells or transfers a gun, will have no appreciable effect on criminals' obtaining guns. The terror list prohibition is a violation of due process. Democrats and gun grabbers don't appear to care about due process or many things actually in writing in the Constitution.

No matter what experience tells us and what competent, unbiased researchers tell us about where criminals get guns and how little effect the proposed new prohibitions will have on reducing criminal access to guns, Henigan and his ilk have a near religious, unshakable belief that people willing to break the murder statute will obey this new gun legislation. That's not logic; that's magical thinking.

I'll skip Henigan's criticism of the rational fear that gun registration will make it easier for collection of these weapons by the government if they are banned. Of course it's easier to confiscate the guns in private hands if you know who owns them. When the Democrat gun control enthusiasts drop the mask and admit they are for gun confiscation, are we to ignore this? Treat it like a faux pas? Think they don't mean it?


Saturday, July 30, 2016


Karaoke Night

Although my ability to sing well is questionable at best, I have nearly become addicted to American style Karaoke at a local bar--SoBo 151, where they have great Czech beer. I go a lot. A lot! This last time, several pretty young women, most of whom can really belt one out, sat at my formerly lonely table even though there were other tables at which no one was sitting. I'm not complaining.

And then there are the even younger girls there, with whom I cannot even pretend to flirt without feeling like creepy grandfather, but more on them later. Thank God I don't have any selfies to show.

I have to admit that it's taken me a long while to get used to the tattoos on women's arms, etc. The concentrating woman in the photo above is Amberrama, the Karaoke DJ who does Thursdays and Sunday nights. Man, can she sing. Baba O'Reilly is my current favorite by her. Guess what song was being sung when this photo was taken?

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Thursday, July 28, 2016


My Neighborhood

Here is the bridge near Mamie Eisenhower Park about 1/2 mile from my house under which former District Court Judge Larry Manzanares took his life in 2007. At least he didn't do it in his home or back yard. The back story is that he graduated from University of Denver Cum Laude and from Harvard Law and moved up from private practice to County Court to District Court in Denver. He was a good judge. He moved on to Denver City Attorney and that's where the trouble started. Apparently, he had helped himself to an excess computer from the closet where it sat unused and on the slide to obsolescence. Oops. They can trace those things on the internet and they did. At first, he denied it (big mistake) and then he turned it in saying he bought it in parking lot. The press pounced. Next, he was charged with stealing and the rumors swirled that he had downloaded porn onto it, but not the kind you can shrug off with 'everyone looks at that.' He ate his gun hours after his arraignment. His post arrest photo published in the Denver Post is haunting.



Haunting Images


The French Future

Monday, July 18, 2016


A Little Close to Home

I was watching the old Paul Newman southern California private eye film Harper on TCM this weekend and the chief bad woman in it is named Betty Fraley. She's a drug addicted murderer played by Julie Harris.

Wait a minute, I think. I know a Betty Fraley; she's my aunt. Where did they get that name?

The movie is OK. The hippie counter-culture was just beginning to enter movie plots. Everyone in the film is evil or cynical to a fault or both. I liked the Ross McDonald book it was based on, The Moving Target, much better. And the sequel to Harper in 1975, The Drowning Pool, was a much better film. Paul Newman being cynical and witty in the deep South went over much better than being pretty much the same in southern California.

Of note, however, is the fact that the big lummox who beats Newman up in Harper is the same guy that Jack Nicholson beats up in the King of the southern California private eye films, Chinatown.


Friday, July 15, 2016


Is Anyone Proposing a Ban on Assault Trucks or High Capacity Fuel Tanks? No? Hmmmm

No good guy with a gun stops a bad guy with a gun. It's just a myth. Here's where I use a French phrase that we generally all know (except you dumb asses): Au contraire!

The bullet holes in the cab of the assault truck (with high capacity fuel tanks) that killed so many in Nice yesterday are all entrance holes.


Saturday, July 09, 2016


More Gopnik Idiocy

Here is the way the liberal press (but I repeat myself) covers gun homicides:

Victim                                Perpetrator                         Coverage
White                                  Other than White               Gun Control
Other than White                White                                 Racism
Other than White                 Other than White              Run a story on Kardasians*

So Adam Gopnik again rails about guns when a black sniper shoots about a dozen white police officers in Dallas, killing 5.

Gopnik is in full 'I told you so' mode, but he's still a moron.

Key quote:

Once again, it needs stating because it can’t be stated too often: despite the desperate efforts of the National Rifle Association to prevent research on gun violence, the research has gone on, and shows conclusively what common sense already suggests. Guns are not merely the instrument; guns are the issue. The more guns there are, the more gun violence happens. (Emphasis added).
He couldn't be more wrong. Here is the truth:

So Gopnik wants to get rid of guns because they cause violence. Wrong problem perceived--wrong solution proposed. Here's some more idiotic statements:

In light of last night’s assassinations, it is also essential to remember that the more guns there are, the greater the danger to police officers themselves.
The greater danger to cops is from more people wanting to kill them, not the number of guns owned by Americans. The chart above would apply to police killed on duty numbers too.

Still more:

It requires no apology for unjustified police violence to point out that, in a heavily armed country, the police officer who thinks that a suspect is armed is likelier to panic than when he can be fairly confident that the suspect is not.

If there are only a thousand guns out there in criminal possession, cops could still never be fairly confident that the suspect has no gun.

Still more:

Last night’s tragedy was also the grotesque reductio ad absurdum of the claim that it takes a good guy with a gun to stop a bad guy with a gun. There were nothing but good guys and they had nothing but guns, and five died anyway, as helpless as the rest of us.

I have to think there was one bad guy with a gun involved. I nominate Micah Johnson to be the bad guy with a gun here.

Here's the big finish:

Once again, the difference in policy views is clear, and can be coolly stated: those who insist on the right to concealed weapons, to the open carrying of firearms, to the availability of military weapons—to the essentially unlimited dissemination of guns—guarantee that the murders will continue. They have no plan to end them, except to return fire, with results we know. The people who don’t want the regulations that we know will help curb (not end) violent acts and help make them rare (not non-existent) have reconciled themselves to the mass murder of police officers, as well as of innocent men and women during traffic stops and of long, ghostly rows of harmless civilians and helpless children. The country is now clearly divided among those who want the killings and violence to stop and those who don’t. In the words of the old activist song, which side are you on?
Gopnik accuses us rational thinkers of guaranteeing murders will continue, then in the rest of the paragraph says murders will continue if his proposals are followed. Not very logical there. But the real problem is his magical thinking that gun control laws will help stop gun murders when the murder laws don't. We don't know that your stupid proposals will work; in fact, we know the opposite. What we know is that additional laws banning guns will only disarm the law abiding. We don't see that as a good thing at all. We who actually know about guns and gun violence and don't believe crazy things like more gun ownership means more gun violence when the opposite is true, do want gun violence to be curtailed. But we want to do it with things that work and not just things that don't work but which punish law abiding gun owners. In other words, we law abiding gun owners want to use facts to guide our purpose. We're on the side which actually proposes things that might help. Gopnik is on the other side.

* (h/t Jon Gabriel)


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