Friday, August 31, 2012

Dogs Die In Hot Cars

Another one of man's best friends, employed by a law enforcement agency, has paid the ultimate price. There are two issues here. One is that generally everywhere leaving a dog in a car in hot conditions is animal abuse and a violation of the law. It really doesn't matter whether Harley died from excessive heat or keeled over from a canine stroke, his handler is responsible. You can't leave a dog in a parked car in the heat. Second, in some states a police K-9 is a cop, just as was quoted in the article. Taking the life of a cop, or even inconveniencing one is a very serious offence. Even if it's done by another cop. Of course everyone down at the station is pretty sad about poor ol' Harley. But sadness ain't enough. Brian Mathis needs some punishment that will teach him, and others, not to lock another cop in a hot car.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

2012 London Olympics Women's Team Pursuit

The swift lady cyclists from Great Britain set a new world record each time they went to the track in their capture of Olympic gold in the team pursuit.

Monday, August 27, 2012

The Speed of a Fastball

There's a lot of weird things about baseball, not necessarily the game itself, but the way it's analyzed and recorded.  For instance, announcers on radio and television and the radar machine at the ballpark are enthusiastic about informing us that a pitch sailed over the plate at an impressive 96 mph.  Or that a lazy knuckleball floated by the batter at a leisurely 82 mph.  Who can know what that means?  I'll give a hundred dollar bill to anybody except a trained surveyor that can walk through the woods for what they consider a mile if they're within a hundred feet of the correct distance.  Attempting to transfer the experience of being in a car going that fast to the movement of a small white ball is impossible.  And you'll note that the form of measurement is used for only a pitched baseball and a served tennis ball, nothing else in sports.

Let me be the first to recommend that the mph designation as applied to baseball be scrapped in favor of something that's more recognizable to the average person, feet per second.  After all, the distance from the pitcher's rubber to home plate is measured in feet and inches (60 feet, six inches), not in miles (.01145).  A fastball at the top speed of the hardest thrower in the league might approach 100 mph, or 147 feet per second, which means that it can be easily determined that the ball will arrive at home plate less than half a second after it's released by the pitcher.  A slow curve that used to lag along at a slothly 85 mph is covering 125 feet per second.  Not only is the speed more easily comprehended, the use of fps is more exact, since the increments are smaller.  And percentages are easier to figure.  The fastball is almost 20% faster than the curve.   Please demand that announcers convert their speed figures to fps.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Handicapped Parking. . . . .Again

Most people have some long range goals: build up a retirement nest egg, get their children through college, pay off the house, etc.  But they also have more immediate, daily goals.  It's hard to take seriously a society where the number one goal, the goal just about everyone is striving for on a daily basis, is parking as closely as possible to whatever business or workplace is one's destination.  Seriously, that's a major factor in people's lives, to walk a minimum distance from the parked Prius to the front door of the super market.  In fact, I've been thinking about starting a franchise that provides valet parking service for health clubs.  Most already have ample parking lots but there might be others where the concept would go over.

We hear constantly about the national epidemic of obesity, that Americans are over-fed slobs that need more exercise.  Parking near the front door of the big box store isn't helping the collective figure.  But there's another dimension to this issue, handicapped parking.  Every business is required to set aside space near the front door to allow parking for people with handicaps, or at least handicapped plates or stickers on their cars.  Non-cripples can be fined $250 for ignoring the sign and scrambling in to the bodega for a pack of smokes.  But what about this:  Don't handicapped people need exercise, too?  In fact, isn't the handicap of a great portion of them actually flagrant obesity?  For their own good, shouldn't they be forced to actually park in a special distant section of the lot and maybe go through a kind of obstacle course to get to the groceries? Why are we humoring these people by literally subsidizing their affliction?  Tell me that if some 5'2", 250 lb. bearer of a handicapped sticker walked a few hundred extra yards every day it wouldn't do them some good.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Justice Department Investigates Itself

The US Justice Department has a mechanism for investigating internal problems.  The website AllGov spells out some of the details of the Office of Professional Responsibility:

The OPR is authorized to investigate allegations of professional misconduct by any of the Department of Justice’s 10,000 attorneys relating to the attorneys’ actions in investigation, litigation, or giving legal advice. The OPR receives several hundred complaints about US Attorneys per year, from judges, defense attorneys, other Department attorneys and others. About 2/3 of these complaints are determined not to warrant further investigation because the complaints are vague and unsupported by evidence or because they are outside OPR’s jurisdiction. About 2/3 of the remaining 250 or so complaints are handled as inquiries, to be resolved by review of written records, including case transcripts and the accused attorney’s written response to the complaint. The remaining third, including some 15% of inquiries that do not resolve the complaint, become full investigations. In these cases, OPR attorneys will interview judges, attorneys, witnesses and other relevant parties, as well as review case records. If the OPR finds that misconduct has occurred, recommendations for discipline of individual attorneys follow, recommendations which Department management has discretion whether to implement. The OPR has also referred cases of intentional misconduct to state bar associations.
OPR also engages in the training of US Attorneys in proper conduct, and in presentations about ethical/legal issues to legal associations, such as the National Bar Council. OPR participates in education and training internationally, in 2005 making presentations about prosecutorial ethics in Albania, the Republic of Georgia and Afghanistan.

Well, something like this is certainly needed, even if it comes with a built-in conflict of interest that precludes any really meaningful action.  The matter of import is numerical: 10,000 attorneys employed by the US Dept. of Justice.  That's 200 for every state in the union, probably just 3 or 4 for Wyoming but 900 or more for California.  It would also mean about 32,000 men, women, children for each US attorney.  Of course, this does not include support personnel and contract employees.   The Justice Department was authorized a budget for Fiscal Year 2010 of $27.7 billion and was authorized 111,993 positions.  

Insider Trading

This WSJ story gives us the poop on one of the most serious crimes that can be committed today in the USA, disseminating knowledge of upcoming business events and allowing others to profit from that knowledge.  Eddie Murray and Doug DeCinces, one-time Baltimore Oriole team-mates, have avoided federal incarceration by ponying up eye-popping amounts of money, almost as unimaginable as their salaries as entertainers in major league baseball, to purchase their freedom.  They, or their attorneys, took notice of home-making icon Martha Stewart's residency behind bars for the very same offence and decided not to risk their liberty by fighting the charges and paid the tribute demanded by the federal enforcement bureaucrats of the SEC.

As everyone knows, defendants in such cases settle out of court because of the costs of defense, which could be more than the negotiated fine, and the uncertainty of the eventual outcome of the case.  The third, and generally ignored aspect of the situation, is that while defendants must pay for their defense, win or lose, and have a finite amount of money to spend on it, there's no theoretical limit to the resources available to the government for prosecution.  Government agencies and their attorneys risk virtually nothing in the pursuit of such cases since failure is costless but success leads to higher positions in government and private practice and the ultimate prize, elected political office.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

A message from the 1970s on state spending

Liam Halligan in The Telegraph points out that over forty years ago Britain's labor prime minister acknowledged that Keynsian economics just doesn't work.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

How Do We Tell If It's Dope?

People ordinarily have a trust in what they consider the scientific process. The technological progress of the last three hundred years provides ample evidence of this. Engineers using scientific techniques have created marvels of design, manufacture, communication, transportation, medicine, etc. that have changed the lives of everyone in dramatic ways. When a device is produced to accomplish a given task, its efficiency is evaluated by the user and its acceptance is contingent on it being an improvement on previous equipment. There are, however, machines being used that the general public, while being significantly affected by that use, have no idea if they actually work or not. These machines are used in many fields but their most important one is law enforcement. Forensics has adopted breathalyzers, fingerprint scanners, eye iris scanners, radar, surveillance cameras, DNA analysis and drug analyzing equipment for use in the law enforcement environment. But few know how, or even if, this stuff actually works and some of those few are actually operating it. This sad story gives an indication of what can happen when the government gets its hands on equipment it can't operate.

The USDA Buys Beef

St. Paul Pioneer Press economics writer Edward Lotterman explains that a pathetic attempt on the part of the USDA to aid rain-deprived livestock growers won't help them or harm anyone else.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Gibson Guitar

The Tribal Mind

    The low regard for tribal society displayed by academics like Karl Popper and anthropologist Robin Fox has been transferred to the general population remarkably effectively and with little dissent.   In the west it's now a given that humans organized into tribes or clans are at a lower level of development than the citizens of the dominant nation/states.  When nation/states offend their neighbors they are often accused of "nativism" or "tribalism"  The fact that no tribe has ever had the wherewithal to launch a nuclear sub or incarcerate multi-thousands of its own members is ignored.

An article in the Jerusalem Post from a few years back illuminates the way tribal societies, which survive even now in many parts of the world, operate at the fringes of the corporate state.  We would be very unlikely to hear the kind of comments these tribal leaders made about this unfortunate incident from any spokesperson in the supposedly more highly evolved west.

Gang expresses no remorse for rapes
Rebecca Anna Stoil and Shelly Paz 13/08/2012
"We are raping Jews because of what the IDF is doing to the Palestinians."
A gang of serial rapists has been prowling the North, raping Jewish women as revenge for IDF actions in the West Bank, police revealed Tuesday after arresting six suspects. "We are raping Jews because of what the IDF is doing to the Palestinians in the territories," one of the six suspects told investigators from the Northern District Central Investigative Unit (CIU) during questioning. During their questioning and their brief appearance at the Nazareth Magistrate's Court Tuesday, none of the four main suspects indicated that they felt remorse for their actions. Police said they were aware of four attacks carried out by the gang, but they believed there were probably other incidents that had gone unreported by the victims. In all four cases, police said, the rapists' modus operandi were strikingly similar - all of the attacks were directed against young women who were waiting at bus stops or designated hitchhiking points in the western Galilee and the Haifa area. In all of the cases, the attackers forced their victim into a car and drove together with the victim to an isolated spot, where they raped her. All of the suspects are from the Galilee town of Bir al-Maksur, a Beduin village near the Hamovil Junction. The last of the four known rapes was carried out in a forested area just outside of the village. The first attack occurred in April 2005, when a 13-year-old girl was raped at the Zevulun Beach in Kiryat Yam. In December of that year, a 19-year-old soldier was kidnapped and raped just outside of Kiryat Ata. According to police, the gang attacked again three days later. In that assault, the gang allegedly kidnapped a 16-year-old girl who was standing with her friends at the Kiryon Junction in Kiryat Bialik. They allegedly took her to a grove near Tamra, where they raped her. It was after the third attack, commander of the Northern District CIU Asst.-Cmdr. Menahem Haver said, that the police realized they were dealing with a serial rape gang. In that case, the teenage victim told investigators that one of her attackers told her the attack was in revenge for IDF operations in the Gaza Strip. Investigators managed to gather DNA from two of the crime scenes and began to search for potential suspects who fit the victims' descriptions. Haver said police approached around 170 youths who fit the descriptions offered by the victims, and elicited DNA samples from the suspects. Police said one of the tests appeared to offer a match to DNA found at one of the crime scenes. But while police were investigating the first three attacks, the rapists struck again. In November 2006, police say, the gang struck close to home, abducting and raping a 25-year-old woman who was standing at a bus stop on the outskirts of Bir al-Maksur. At one point, police set up checkpoints and ambushes at intersections that they suspected the gang might frequent. At one of those checkpoints, police officers noticed an old, white car that resembled the car described by the victims. When the car approached the police checkpoint, its driver made a quick U-turn across an unbroken yellow line. But police noticed the suspicious vehicle and initiated an undercover surveillance, following the vehicle back to Bir al-Maksur. The suspects' arrests were released for publication by the Nazareth Magistrate's Court, which also extended the four key suspects' remands by 10 days. The remand of an additional suspect was extended by five days. A young woman from the village who is suspected of collaborating with the suspects was released on restricted terms. The arrest of six residents of the village shocked the locals, who said the police's suggestion that the crimes were committed for anti-Israel reasons stirred up emotions even more. Hasan Gadir, a village leader, said he called an urgent meeting with all northern local council representatives to be held Wednesday, in order to decide how to address the issue. "We are shocked and horrified," he said. "This was a dark day for all of us and we cannot take its implications seriously enough. Our tribe is known for its good temper and spirit, and we denounce those youths' actions. We will never accept this sort of behavior. For us, this is worse than a murder." Gadir said he spent the day Tuesday with Cmdr. Dan Ronen, Northern District Police chief, and at the detention center, where he met with the suspects and their parents. "I don't know the suspects personally but I know their parents. They are all from good families, but none of us can even think why and how it happened," he said. "We are going to examine the cases more deeply and draw conclusions, so that this will never happen again. I took it personally and it made me sad and shocked. This village has made me proud in the past, and I hope I will be proud of it again." Gadir's reaction was echoed by other members of the town. "I read about it on the Internet and it made me upset," said Adel Hareb, manager of the Bir al-Maksur Education Department. "That doesn't add respect to our community and this kind of behavior is against our belief, culture and tradition as Beduins." Speaking to The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday, Hareb said the village members "will support any punishment they receive, but I hope this turns out to be a mistake. I am sure that their family members denounce their actions just as we do," Hareb added. Bir al-Maksur is home to 7,000 residents, most of whom are Muslims. "This is a friendly and safe village which many travelers from all sectors enjoy visiting. It is too bad that irresponsible people can ruin, with a wave of a hand, what we have built with hard work, love and care," Hareb said. Another resident of the village expressed shock at the report of the rapes, saying, "These kinds of crimes are shocking. We hear on the news about rapes all the time, and even if we cannot feel what the women who were attacked feel, this is just as terrible. Our village is a quiet place whose residents live in coexistence and friendship with all of its Israeli neighbors and I hope people don't hold it against us all."

Monday, August 13, 2012


     The government/legal Orwellian lingo now includes "sequestration", a term used to designate mandatory budget cuts, similar to the term "austerity" used in reference to European governments supposedly making an effort to rein in their own profligate spending.  Anybody that pays taxes or wonders about the government debt is ostensibly in favor of less federal spending, that is until decreases in that spending have a negative effect on their own personal economy.  Defense contractors and their employees and subcontractors are particularly concerned.  Some areas in the country will be affected more than others, Virginia, for instance.  Relocation of an F-16 squadron from Eielson AFB, Alaska to Elmendorf AFB has created a furor in the Fairbanks area.  Thus in the abstract, everyone wants to take an ax to federal spending but in the concrete it becomes almost impossible.  There's no hope.


Sunday, August 12, 2012

How Hydro-Fracking Works

Who Cares About the Presumptive VP Nominee?

So Mitt Romney, clean-up hitter for the Republican Elephants in their upcoming play-off game with the Democrat Donkeys, has decided to put Wisconsinite Paul Ryan next in the batting line-up.  Big deal.  Nothing is likely to thrust the budget maven into the number one spot, unless Romney gets a message from above and abdicates.  The vice-president is a political and governmental non-entity, suitable only as a focus of hatred (Dick Cheney) or comic relief (Joe Biden).  The slot can't be too important, the nation has managed to survive after a fashion with the nitwit Biden occupying it and nobody seems to have major concerns that he'll ever be the big boss.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Lawmakers Are Chided Over Farm Bill

When's the last time you used the word "chided" in a sentence? I don't remember either. Anyway, the WSJ has published in their weekend edition an article on the continuing inability of the Congress to agree on legislation aimed at making farmers more wealthy. Aw, gee. Corn prices are higher than the elephant's eye described in Curley's song "Oh, What a Beautiful Morning" from the hit Rogers and Hammerstein musical "Oklahoma". Of course, what's good for some, might be not so good for others. High feed grain prices put the squeeze on beef feed lots, pork producers and chicken coopers. And let's not forget ethanol. If there was ever an indictment of the democratic process the mandatory addition of a corn-derived additive to motor fuel is it. Politicians pandering to a lobby made up of the unlikely alliance of farmers, ag corporations, small town boosters and environmentalists has created a monster likely to outlive all of us and, according to a reliable source quoted in the article, its 40% consumption of the American corn crop won't have much of an effect on prices. Does that fit the definition of a lie?

 Still, with corn prices escalating, the midwestern drought continuing and no farm bill to send to the Oval Office for five weeks or more, life in the bucolic countryside seems to be going on as usual. Isn't this some small clue that perhaps NO farm bill is required? How about the feds yank the government teat out of the farmer's mouths and put them on their own or in collaboration with their fellow agriculturists and leave us widget winders and gizmo grinders out of the picture? While they're at it, the congress can change the locks on the doors of the USDA, too.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Maybe We Should Have Dropped Even More A-Bombs on the Japanese

Published on the Forbes magazine website on August 1st is a piece by former government functionary Henry I. Miller celebrating the August 6 anniversary of the detonation of the first atomic warhead used in conflict. Curiously, instead of congratulating the US Army Airforce and the Truman administration, Miller defends, as others have, the use of the weapon in bringing the war with Japan to an end without invading the country. The debate between the two ideas, that nuclear explosions over Hiroshima and later Nagasaki were necessary and morally acceptable and that use of nuclear weapons against a defeated civilian population was immoral no longer seems relevant. The overwhelming majority of the current US, and Japanese, populations were yet to be born when the bombs fell and for most Americans the event is as lost in history as McKinley's assassination or Grover Cleveland's oral surgery. Nevertheless, reflections on the incident and its subsequent justification after the fact as detailed by Miller are in order. Since he's added nothing new, simply restating the government's side, the same rebuttals apply. The Japanese military was spent as an effective fighting force, their once formidable fleet didn't have the fuel to continue operations, the unsupported remains of their army were facing starvation in caves and dugouts on isolated small islands in the Pacific. These forces were so inconsequential that they weren't even considered as targets for the new nukes. Instead civilians, victims first of a predatory neo-Samurai class, then became victims of a gigantic corporate state. Miller brings up the conjecture that in the process of invading the Japanese home islands many thousands of American troops would have been killed or injured. That would no doubt have been the case, but who says that the US was required to occupy the country? Couldn't MacArthur have issued his orders by loudspeaker from the deck of the Missouri in Tokyo Bay? A small Navy force could have quarantined Japan indefinitely. Of course, that wouldn't have been very humane, either. After turning thousands to radioactive cinders the US went on to transform Japan's neo-feudal society into a democratic one patterned to some degree on that of the US itself. As we well know, a democratic republic is end-point of political evolution.

Some Gold Numbers

Here RT talks about gold in international and Russian affairs.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

William Norman Grigg

posts this on his Pro Libertate blog. News in a similar vein comes from the land of the midnight sun where an obviously deranged individual was given the death penalty without benefit of judicial proceedings by the Alaska state troopers, as reported here by the Fairbanks News-Miner. Notice at the end of the article that there are two guides to human behavior in Alaska, the law, violation of which can get one eternal rest in a casket, and law enforcement policy, an unrelated concept that specifies that the name of the trooper performing the execution won't be released for 72 hours. In other words, there are two kinds of "laws", one for proletariat and a different one for the superior beings of state coercion. Also take note of the fact, as presented by the troopers, that the impetus for this incident was the now deceased driver's failure to signal a right-hand turn. This omission would likely have been overlooked or ignored during daylight hours but not so at 4 in the morning, when cops will use any excuse to initiate a possible DUI arrest. We have no way of knowing, in fact, if the driver actually didn't signal, it's simply the statement of law enforcement attempting to justify the subsequent execution.