Wednesday, December 28, 2016


The Limits of International Law Regarding War

The civilized nations have generally agreed that waging an aggressive war, a war of conquest or genocide, is an international crime. Likewise, we agree that defending one's nation against such a war, that is, waging a defensive war, is not a crime. Some of the conventions have gone on to declare that those waging an aggressive war can never legally obtain new land from the country attacked. OK.

But we have never been able to agree what to do about land gained by a country while waging a defensive war.

Let's look at examples from last century.

The Nazis waged a war of conquest against Poland beginning on September 1, 1939. The Nazis also waged a war for lebensraum against the USSR beginning on June 22, 1941. (Big mistake that). Poland is an easy legal case. They get back all the land the Nazis took and more than that, they get part of East Prussia as a sort of restitution.

The USSR also got part of East Prussia, but they also got more, namely, all the land they liberated from the Nazis with the exception of Austria.

I'm OK with Germany losing land to countries it invaded which countries fought back and eventually won. I'm not OK with the USSR keeping control of the sovereign nations they liberated from Nazi occupation. Obviously, you're punishing the countries invaded by Germany for losing to Germany, not punishing Germany, by allowing the Soviets to remain occupying the countries until there was no USSR any longer. This is so obvious that even as dense a fool as John Kerry could probably grasp it.

So what about Israel?

The Jews helped the Allied powers in WWI against the Ottoman Empire which was allied with the German and Austro-Hungarian Empires, which three were the bad guys. The bad guys lost land and the entities who helped defeat the bad empires were rewarded. The English and a few French troops occupied the middle east after the war but the diplomats of England and France also tried to establish actual sovereign nations out of the former provinces of the Ottoman Empire (just as they created European countries out of the former Austro-Hungarian Empire). The Jews didn't get a lot right then, other than a League of Nations Mandate, but they were busy returning to the homeland the Romans had turned them out of 1800 years earlier, buying up land, and generally sprucing up the place. That's the notorious evil of Zionism. One clear example of a people getting land for helping defeat the Turks was the establishment in 1946 of the Hashemite Kingdom of Transjordan from the Emirate of Transjordan established in 1921. We'll just call it Jordan now.

During WWII, the Arabs in the middle east, (apparently not the Hashemites, but certainly the Mufti of Jerusalem) threw in with the Nazis. There were Arabs serving in one or more of the three Muslim Waffen SS divisions during the war. The Nazis lost and the Arabs suffered a loss of land for supporting the Nazis.

Part of that loss was the founding of a Jewish state in the British Mandate of Palestine, as it is commonly called after the League of Nations disbanded in utter failure. That took place on May 14, 1948. Immediately, five Arab armies invaded Israel intent on destroying the new country and driving the Jews into the sea. I'm going to call this an aggressive war. The Arabs, to nearly everyone's amazement, lost. But Egypt seized the Gaza strip and Jordan seized the West Bank.

Now according to international law, neither Egypt nor Jordan could legally keep these territories which were prizes from those nations' aggressive war. Moving on.

Another aggressive war by some of the same nations waging the '48 war started June 5, 1967 and again Israel won and took over all of Jerusalem, Gaza and the West Bank. They also took the Golan Heights and the Sinai Peninsula. They gave the Sinai back to Egypt after a peace treaty. Never give up the Golan!

So, what does Israel have to do with land it acquired fighting a righteous defensive war? Nobody knows. In this particular case, Gaza and the West Bank were illegally occupied by countries who took them in an aggressive war and then lost them in a subsequent aggressive war. But the question, who is the rightful owner of these lands, has no clear answer.

People who tell you that Israel's occupation of the West Bank and of the Jewish quarter of Jerusalem is illegal don't know what they're talking about or are straight up anti-Semites.

In response to Israel's refusal to be wiped off the face of the earth, most Arab nations expelled most of the Jews living within those nations, creating what I call Judenrein territory, which is a Nazi concept. Although some Arabs were kicked off their land in Israel in '48, most left of their own accord confident that the five armies would soon destroy Israel and the Arabs could return to a Judenrein area.

Israel did not kick out all the Arabs living in its UN mandated territory, that is, it did not create an Araberrein territory out of Israel. 20% of Israeli citizens now are of Arab descent and they have full rights and participate fully in the state (except they are not required to serve in the Israeli Defense Force). The Arabs in the West Bank are not Israeli citizens. God alone knows what nation they are citizens of because Palestine is not now and has never been a country.

For some reason I can't understand except to throw my hands up and say anti-Semitism, bitter mental midgets like John Kerry and our current President seem to think that no Israelis can live in the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem or on the West Bank. They throw in with the Nazi concept of Judenrein territory. Who wants to be on the side of the Nazis? You can make your own decision about what Israel should do here but I hope it is an informed decision and not merely aping the lefty meme that Israel is bad whatever it does. It's not.

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Thursday, December 22, 2016


Neither Schadenfreude Nor Irony*

Here is a headline from the editorial board of USA Today: North Carolina's Republican Sore Losers: Our View.

Republican sore losers.

Beam, mote, eye, perception.

*Non-Alanis Type


Monday, December 19, 2016


Update on the Mood of the Nation

In the week before the November 8, 2016 presidential election, the website Real Clear Politics had the wrong track/right track Direction of the Country poll average for the nation at 62.3 wrong and 31.1 right. That means the wrong track responses were plus 31.2. Today the right is 31.9 (little changed) but the wrong track is way down to 56.7. That means wrong track is plus 24.8.

That's a swing of 8.6 points to the good in just under 7 weeks, a 27.6% healthy change in America's political despair. Each week after the election, on average, Americans have gotten 1.23% more confident in the direction of the country.

I don't think the Russians can take the blame for that change.

You have to give the bulk of it to the President-elect.

Oh, the Electoral College gave Trump 304 votes (two faithless electors in Texas) and so far Clinton has 221 (I think) with the giant 55 votes from California just coming in recently. She's so far had 4 faithless electors in Washington state voting for Colin Powell and Faith Spotted Eagle. So the most she'll get is 228.

304 to 228.

Not a land slide but not very close either.

UPDATE: One elector in Hawaii voted for Bernie Sanders not Hillary 304 to 227 officially.


Sunday, December 18, 2016


The Limits of Computer Generated Images

Went to see Rogue One and I can't say I had a good time but it is a good movie (the third best of the Star Wars cycle). But my subject is projecting the images of dead or aged actors.

Peter Cushing is in the film but he died in 1994, 22 years ago. So how do they do that? Here's an explanation; but the short answer is CGI--they project an image onto the face of a living actor. They do the same for Carrie Fisher who is alive but looks pretty old (because she is 60) now. They project the image of the face of 1977 Carrie Fisher. There is no chance you will think it is a real human.

And that's the problem. We don't know what the face of an alien looks like. If there are aliens, we could learn what the faces look like and perhaps become critical that the fish face of the rebel admiral is not very realistic; but we're never going to learn alien faces as well as we know our own. In fact we have a large part of our brains dedicated to recognizing human faces. We're hardwired to flash our eyebrows up when we recognize a face. So when they do CGI of a human face, we know it's a computer generation and not a human actor. And it's pretty unsettling. It's not exactly the uncanny valley in Rogue One but it's something very like it.

So, we're not ready for CGI actors and it's possible that we won't be for a long, long time.


Friday, December 09, 2016


Meme Du Jour

It's difficult for right minded citizens to keep up with the new talking points of the left in America. They come at you out of the blue and you're only vaguely aware of what the latest one even means before the new one arrives. But on the left side of the political divide, it's as if they took a class in it. Not only are the progressive types well versed in the new meme, they are passionate about it. It's like they all just attended a pep rally on the subject. Mindboggling.

Just when I think I've got a handle on "alt-right" (it means "jerk" or "poopyhead"), out comes Fake News. We on the right all think we know what fake news is, but obviously we're wrong. It does not mean the typed-on-a-computer-using-Times-New-Roman-font-with-Word-default-settings, 1960s memos from the Texas Air National Guard commander of President Bush (son). It does not mean the false stories of Janet Cook, Jayson Blair, Stephen Glass or Sabrina Erdely. It does not mean the falsely edited George Zimmerman 911 call, or the falsely edited questioning of gun nuts by Katie Couric or even Walter Duranty pretending Stalin did not purposefully starve over a million Ukrainians in the '30s.

I personally think it means silly conspiracy theories on the internet which are believed only by the truly gullible, which, fortunately, are not that many--too many perhaps, but most of them don't vote. To the left, however, it is silly conspiracy theories on the internet written by right wing jerks (probably members of the alt-right). There apparently are no silly conspiracy theories on the internet written by lefties. It's all Republicans, only Republicans, completely and exclusively Republicans doing it.

So, now you know.

In a couple of more days, there may well be a new lefty meme to ponder. I'll do my best to find and interpret it. It would be a lot easier if my lefty friends would invite me to the seminar/pep rallies for the next new meme.


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