Friday, May 25, 2018

The Donald hands his opponents a shovel

Here, hold my beer.
“Sometimes I dig holes for people to fall in. Then I shout, “I've got you!” ~ Amanda Mosher 

It's Friday so it must be time to check in on the idiots. This week: the politicians.

The Donald -- you know, the stupid guy in the White House -- has managed, just in time for the fall elections, to manipulate his opponents into supporting all manner of weird things. This is going to play so well among the voters.

Nanny-state-imposing left-wing billionaire Michael Bloomberg is now on video admitting how much he likes to raise taxes on poor people, calling such tax hikes a “good thing.” “Some people say, well, taxes are regressive. But in this case, yes they are. That's the good thing about them because the problem is in people that don't have a lot of money."

Most believe that upper-income—not lower-income— people are not paying their fair share in taxes. ~ Pew Research

USA Today’s Jill Lawrence has come out against the Constitution. Would the Founders want our kids to die in school shootings like Santa Fe? I doubt it. Amid all we know about the Founding Fathers, two things stand out in the wake of yet another mass shooting that underscores the desperate need for action and the depth of our paralysis. Does anyone think they would expect us to live by a 230-year-old document?

Americans were asked whether they supported a repeal of the Second Amendment. Just 21 percent said they favored such a proposal, compared to 60 percent in opposition. ~ The Economist

Someone must have let Nancy Pelosi out on a weekend pass, because the woman is losing it. At her press conference this week, the House minority leader mumbled, zoned out, and chuckled inappropriately. Speaking on behalf of the Democratic Party, Nancy Pelosi said Trump calling illegal rapists and murderers "animals" is offensive and harsh. "...we're all God's children, there's a spark of divinity in every person on Earth, and that we all have to recognize that, as we respect the dignity and worth of every person...?"

The left-wing Women’s March joined the pile on, sending an email defending MS-13 gang members.

Hillary always tops everyone else: "Joining a gang is like having a family."


Forty-seven percent  of U.S. voters favor a proposal that designates the nationwide MS-13 criminal gang a terrorist organization. Just 17% oppose such a proposal. ~ Rasmussen 

Hillary takes shovel, keeps digging. Hillary Clinton’s defense of NFL players who kneel in protest during the national anthem is indicative of her disconnect with the American people. “Actually, kneeling is a reverent position."

Thirty-four percent of American Adults say they are less likely to watch an NFL game because of the growing number of protests by players on the field. ~ Rasmussen

How  can you explain Democrats siding with Hamas over Israel? Hamas is a terrorist organization; they pay people to kill themselves and others.

MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell said it was "appalling" how the US moved the Embassy to Jerusalem, blaming the Trump administration for not being "proportional" in this move.

Forty-two percent of Americans say Donald Trump is “striking the right balance” in the situation in the Middle East, while 30% say he favors Israel too much. ~ Pew Research

Have shovel, will dig. Following Trump’s letter to Kim on Thursday suggesting to hold the meeting would have been “inappropriate,” Nancy Pelosi blasted the president, suggesting Kim had “won.”Pelosi described the letter from Trump to Kim as a “Valentine.”

Fifty-one percent of Americans now consider North Korea to be the greatest enemy of the United States, a full 32 percent points ahead of second-place Russia. ~ Gallup 

And the winner is ...

Do prisons have conference tables?

The disgraced former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe, who was fired for lying under oath, spent $70,000 in taxpayer dollars on a conference table.

This table was paid for by U.S. workers, who have a median wage of $44,564 a year.

So of course the FBI tried to hide the cost of the table from congressmen, who have to explain these things to taxpayers, each of whom pays about $17,372 a year.

 We should all visit the FBI and announce that we want to sit at our table. Maybe eat lunch at it.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

This just in ...

Nation Willing To Give Up Any And All Privacy 
If The Policy Update Emails Would Just Stop
 
Sources across the nation confirmed Wednesday that nearly everybody in the country would be willing to give up any and all privacy rights to websites they’ve visited and online services they’ve used as long as all companies they’ve done business with online agree to stop spamming their email inboxes with privacy policy updates.

The nation confirmed it would be totally OK with websites they visited one time seven years ago to purchase something for a Christmas gift handing out their data willy-nilly, on the condition that they stop blowing up their email notifying them about how they’re exploiting user data.

“I no longer care what you know about me or what you do with that data. Just please, I’m begging you, make the emails stop,” one man reportedly replied to the 129th privacy policy update email he’s received in the past day alone. “Sell it to the Russians for all I care. Just don’t email me again. Please. I’m desperate.”

“You’re going to sell my data to research firms, private interest groups, and giant advertising corporations? Great. Knock yourselves out. Just don’t tell me about it,” the man added.
At publishing time, several giant tech companies had gladly agreed to the nation’s demands.

Install updates at 11.

(The Babylon Bee)

Your passwords need more work

According to Dashlane, a company that sells a password management program, people aren’t very original. Not even the ones using formulas.

I'm one of them: use a formula modified for each website. Uh uh. 
When one of your formula passwords is exposed, they can all be exposed. If you just slap “tidder” at the end of your Reddit password, a hacker knows to add “koobecaf” to your Facebook password. Hackers can also guess which symbols you might replace with other symbols. letters and numbers might turn into punctuation marks. Changing every i to !, rebus style, won’t fool them.
The only way to go is to use a password manager. I tried Dashlane but found it too complicated, so I switched to LastPass, which was free but which suddenly started charging me $24 a year. Once they get you locked in, it's a pain to switch. I don't find Last Pass completely intuitive, either. Always something that confuses me or confuses it.

Avast is a free antivirus for my Mac and it has a password program, which I guess is free, but who knows?

Here's a list of password managers. Here are some more lists just to confuse you.

The mystery man at the center of the coup d'état

Our of the shadows.
Of all the swamp creatures involved in the plot to prevent The Donald from being elected, and then to unseat him once he was, one of the more curious is a man whose name nobody can pronounce: Peter Strzok.

Wikipedia says its pronounced struck. I'll go with that.

Strzok was a spook's spook. He was chief of the FBI's counterespionage section and deputy assistant director of the counterintelligence division. What kid wouldn't want to be that?

Here's the thing about Strzok: He was carrying on an affair with Lisa Page, a senior FBI lawyer. Now right there you've got a setup for blackmail. Do you think the Russians knew about this affair? Of course they did.

When the affair was uncovered, Strzok was booted off Robert Mueller's anti-Trump team. That's because we also learned that the two lovers had exchanged 10,000 texts in which they called Trump an 'idiot' whose election was 'f***ing terrifying'.

Oh boy. 

Not only that, we learned from the texts that there was an August 15, 2016, meeting in then-deputy director Andrew McCabe’s office with top FBI officials, saying the government “can’t take (the) risk” that “Trump gets elected” and the Russia investigation was their “insurance policy” against a Trump presidency.

Stay with me. We're just getting started. This week Judicial Watch, a conservative legal organization that uses the Freedom of Information Act to pry secrets out of the Deep State, informed us that there are 13,000 pages of emails between the two lovers. 

13,000! You wonder how these two lovebirds got anything done. Other than their affair and plot against Trump, I mean.

Judicial Watch is a legal honey badger. It will stay on this as the FBI processes the emails. The organization has been at the forefront in uncovering Hillary Clinton's illegal use of a private email server in the basement of her home, a convenience allowing her to send confidential information over an unsecure line. She and her cronies also used the email system to do State Department favors for big donors to the Clinton Foundation.

Back to Strzok. He reportedly oversaw the FBI’s interviews of former National Security Adviser  Michael Flynn, Judicial Watch informs us. He changed former FBI Director James Comey’s language about Hillary Clinton’s actions regarding her illicit email server from “grossly negligent” to “extremely careless” and played a lead role in the FBI’s interview of Clinton. Strzok is suspected of being responsible for using the unverified dossier to obtain a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant in order to spy on President Trump’s campaign.

Strzok interviewed Clinton without putting her under oath and granted immunity to Cheryl Mills and Clinton’s other associates right before he flew to London to meet with Christopher Steele to work on the anti-Trump dossier, which was sponsored by the Clinton-funded firm Fusion GPS. That dossier was used to fraudulently obtain FISA warrants to surveil Trump Tower. 

Oh, and he obstructed the Congress' efforts to investigate all of this. More on this character here.

In addition to Judicial Watch, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley is closing in. He wants to know what was redacted from the Strzok texts. For example, an official’s name was redacted in reference to a text about the Obama White House ‘running’ an investigation, although it is unclear to which investigation they were referring.”

Oh boy.

There's your G-Man, boys and girls. What a waste. What a disgrace.

Saving the planet ... git 'er done

2008. "We will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when  the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal." ~ Barack Obama

2018. Following Donald Trump’s election the earth has experienced its fastest 20 month cooling period since 1916. And 28 percent of the world's beaches have grown bigger -- more than 3,660 square miles of beach coast line than 30 years ago. ~ Western Journal

Katharine Butler Hathaway: instincts

"It is only by following your deepest instinct that you can lead a rich life, and if you let your fear of consequence prevent you from following your deepest instinct, then your life will be safe, expedient and thin."

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Here's your impetuous, chaotic chief of state

Listening to union leaders.
The Left has told itself so many times that The Donald is out of control that it actually believes it. Here is the truth as reported by Ronald Kessler, a former Washington Post and Wall Street Journal investigative reporter and author of 21 books.
While the press likes to portray President Trump as impetuous and impatient with details, when it comes to important decisions, he usually weighs options carefully.

Before making a decision, Mr. Trump routinely canvasses a wide range of people for their opinions. Besides his own aides, he will ask opinions of Secret Service agents, chambermaids or butlers. He values the opinions of working class people, believing they often have more common sense than the highly educated.

The smarter they are. In addition, he regularly calls friends to bounce off ideas and ask for their input. The smarter they are, the more he likes them.

Most of them billionaires, they include New England Patriots Chairman and CEO Robert Kraft, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Continental Resources CEO Harold Hamm, developer Richard LeFrak, Vornado Realty Trust Chairman Steve Roth, private-equity real estate investor Tom Barrack, real estate brokerage executive Howard Lorber, former campaign chairman Corey Lewandowski, former Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, former deputy campaign manager David Bossie, Newsmax CEO Chris Ruddy, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Fox News scion Rupert Murdoch and investor Carl Icahn.

At other times, Mr. Trump calls people spontaneously when he sees them on TV or when he reads an article quoting them.

Carefully developed options. When Mr. Trump tweeted that he was reversing an Obama-era policy allowing transgender soldiers to serve in the military and have their sex-reassignment surgeries paid for by the government, it appeared to be a spur-of-the-moment decision. In fact, the White House had carefully developed options that Mr. Trump could choose from to change the Obama policy.

After a succession of meetings, aides presented Mr. Trump with four options. They ranged from option one, which posed the least risk for legal challenges, to option four, which posed the greatest risk of litigation.
Listening to patients on Obamacare.
 While tweeting a presidential decision is novel, the options had been vetted by the staff secretary and the Principals Committee, the National Security Council’s Cabinet-level senior interagency forum that considers national security policy issues. Mr. Trump considered each option and made his decision.

While 80 percent of the time Mr. Trump follows the process, 20 percent of the time he wakes up in the morning and makes a decision and tweets it, a White House aide says.

“People have this assumption that he shoots from the hip with Twitter and all that,” former Chief of Staff Reince Priebus told me for my book “The Trump White House: Changing the Rules of the Game.”

More deliberate than the generals. “When it comes to using the military, it would give everyone a lot of comfort if they saw how he acts privately when it comes to the use of the military,” Mr. Priebus says. “He is actually slower and more deliberate than the generals around him. Everyone thinks that the generals are the big moderating force for the president. The truth is the president is methodical and slow to the trigger.”

The day before a meeting on increasing Afghanistan troop levels, Mr. Trump invited four soldiers who had served there to the White House for lunch. His exchanges with these enlisted men impressed upon him how deliberative he had to be about sending more soldiers into combat and confronting the prospects for turning around a war that had dragged on for some 16 years.
Getting advice on school safety.
The Socratic Method. In soliciting advice in the White House, Mr. Trump employs the Socratic method, asking rapid-fire questions ping-ping-ping non-stop.

“There are some things that are fundamental to what he believes, and he is very clear about that,” former Press Secretary Sean Spicer says. “And then there are some issues where he may seek a lot of input from different folks, then kind of listen to all sides, and then kind of come to a very decisive final answer.”

Despite Mr. Trump’s occasional tirades, to a remarkable degree, he encourages open, candid debate among his staff. When choosing both staff and friends, Mr. Trump values two things: Intelligence and candor.

Discuss and argue. “Everyone openly argued and shared ideas about everything,” Mr. Priebus says. “We would get in a big semicircle around his desk all the time and discuss and argue. We discussed and argued over the events of the inauguration, who to call and who not to call, as well as real policy issues.”

“People are circumspect when speaking to the president,” says Bradley Blakeman, who was George W. Bush’s deputy assistant to the president for appointments and scheduling. “You’re respectful of the office, and you restrain criticism because it’s the president. So I was pleasantly surprised when I heard that people are so direct with President Trump and open in their criticism because it takes a special type of person to give it and to receive it. If they know that they can be blunt with the president and in some cases brutally honest and the president takes it in the spirit it’s given as being constructive, that’s hugely important.”

Mr. Trump’s sometimes outrageous tweets contribute to the media’s caricature of him as a loose cannon. The truth is quite the opposite.
Little wonder he became a billionaire in real estate and is so successful as President.

Why these school shootings, and why now?

It is a mistake to attribute the school shootings to any one cause. Those who do so -- gun control advocates, for instance -- do us a disservice by limiting our exploration of causes. 

There are multiple causes, and we need to look beyond the individuals involved.

First, is there really an epidemic of school shootings?
Northeastern University criminology professor James Alan Fox and doctoral student Emma Fridel charted the path of mass shootings and school shootings over three decades, from 1992 to 2015. They used a variety of government and nonprofit data sources, including data collected by the FBI, USA Today, and Everytown for Gun Safety, an organization that advocates for gun reform.

They found that schools are actually increasingly free of mass shootings, which they define as a shooting in which four or more individuals are killed by firearms. “There is not an epidemic of school shootings,” Fox said, noting that there were four times as many children shot and killed in schools in the early 1990s as today.

More children are killed every year drowning in pools or in bicycle accidents than in school shootings, Fox added. Over the past 25 years, around 10 students per year were killed in gunfire at school. To put that into perspective, in the fall of 2017, around 56 million students attended public and private public elementary and secondary schools.
It seems that something other than a lone nutcase is occurring. This is interesting:
History provides an important lesson about how crime contagions arise and eventually play themselves out. Over the five-year time span from 1997 through 2001, America witnessed seven multiple-fatality school rampages with a combined 32 killed and 85 others injured, more such incidents and casualties than during the past five years.

Following the March 2001 massacre at a high school in Santee, California, the venerable Dan Rather declared school shootings an “epidemic.” Then, after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attack on America, the nation turned its attention to a very different kind of threat, and the school shooting “epidemic” disappeared.
There's something in the water. Glenn Reynolds, law professor, columnist and blogger, offers this:
While these mass shootings aren’t increasing and are even trending down, they seem to be becoming almost a ritualized form of behavior: Bullied/ostracized kid arms up, targets his/her school and kills people, often starting with the tormentors, leaving social media manifestos behind.

Since the shooting in Columbine, Colo., in 1999, this particular form of ritualized violence has taken on an almost standardized form. When we talk about school shootings, this is what we mean.

We had plenty of kids with guns 50-plus years ago, but none of them shot up a school in this fashion. What changed?

For one thing, they probably didn’t think about it. Now, everyone has.
Shooting up schools has become an idea spread far and wide by saturation news coverage, Reynolds writes, and more recently by social media as well.
Now no kid has to think of shooting up a school on his or her own, because the idea is inescapable. And every time another copycat shooting takes place, it becomes more so.
This is the information age. We are saturated moment by moment with media -- young people especially. They are tuned in all day long. Their heads are no longer in their families but in our increasingly violent and value-free society.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

This just in ...

Fighting Cultural Appropriation:
From Now On Taco Bell Will Only Serve 
Customers Of Mexican Descent

IRVINE, CA—Cultural appropriators in America, you’ve just been put on notice. Fast-Food giant Taco Bell has announced that from now on it will only serve customers of Mexican descent to ensure that “everyone stays in their lanes.”

Patrons will be asked to show proof of their Mexican heritage at the drive-thru window or dine-in counter, and anyone who doesn’t meet the stringent racial standards won’t be able to partake in Taco Bell’s authentic Mexican cuisine.

It’s important for restaurants to make sure that people of different ethnicities are not experiencing each other’s cultures, or harmfully colonizing fast food.

“Mexican culture isn’t your fourth meal!” a Taco Bell spokesperson told reporters after the announcement. “We want to push back against the offensive appropriation of Latino culture by people not of Mexican descent who would dare to colonize traditional dishes like Doritos Locos Tacos and Cinnamon Twists.”

At press time, Burger King had followed suit, forbidding anyone not descended from royalty to partake of its regal offerings like charbroiled Whoppers and Mac N’ Cheetos.

Bicarb at 11.

(The Babylon Bee)

My $1,000 lesson in mindfulness

Here's a First World problem for you.

I wanted to take Scout the Wonder Dog for a walk. Since we have a new $2,000 invisible dog fence, I have to put him in my $30,000 Subaru to drive across the line. This Subaru has a very fine rear view camera that probably cost $2,000, considering that it was part of a package.

We are able to afford a cleaning lady, who parks in the driveway. I have no idea what she costs. I have a $1,000 deductible on my car insurance. See where I'm going here?

So a friend says to me: "Make it a teachable moment."

So I say to my friend: "Would you like to lie down in back of my car?"

He wanted me to reflect on mindfulness, the psychological process of bringing one's attention to experiences occurring in the present moment, which can be developed through the practice of meditation and other training. It can also be developed by looking at your backup camera. The practice of mindfulness will eventually lead to enlightenment, the Buddhists say, although I'd be content with the $1,000.

When I drove right smack dab into my cleaning lady's car I was on autopilot. This is common. If we didn't use autopilot, we'd go nuts thinking about everything. When I think about things I get a headache.

Here's an example of autopilot.
Sometimes you suddenly think, “I don’t remember if I locked the door when I left this morning.”  That’s because you’re so used to locking the door each morning, you don’t even realise whether or not you actually did it.  Odds are, you did perform the particular ingrained behaviour, but when you wake up from the autopilot state, you can’t seem to remember physically doing it.
I've had to insert some red flags into my daily routine because of autopilot. For example, before I open the back door to take Scout the Wonder Dog out in the morning I pause and ask myself if I actually turned off the alarm. Often I can't remember, even though I just did it. I would just as soon not chat with the alarm company lady first thing in the morning. Although I admit it's a good way to make sure the system is working.

So maybe I'm enlightened after all.

Nah.

John Brennan's central role in the coup

Of course Obama knew.
We are being treated to one extraordinary spectacle after another in Washington as the coup against The Donald is exposed.

The latest is a former director of the Central Intelligence Agency, John Brennan, threatening the two leaders of Congress.
"Senator McConnell & Speaker Ryan: If Mr. Trump continues along this disastrous path, you will bear major responsibility for the harm done to our democracy. You do a great disservice to our Nation & the Republican Party if you continue to enable Mr. Trump’s self-serving actions."
Here's what he previously said about The Donald.
"When the full extent of your venality, moral turpitude, and political corruption becomes known, you will take your rightful place as a disgraced demagogue in the dustbin of history. You may scapegoat Andy McCabe, but you will not destroy America...America will triumph over you."
And then we had this threat from Obama's UN ambassador.
"Not a good idea to piss off John Brennan."
The Z Man, who has an insider's understanding of Washington, writes:
The insane things coming from the Brennan camp are jaw-dropping. For the former CIA head to not-so-subtly threaten the Speaker of the House and the Senate Majority Leader on social media is incredible. Either the guy is insane or he really feels he is bullet proof. That would be an incredibly ballsy move to do behind closed doors with no witnesses. This guy is basically telling the political class they better remove the sitting president or else. It is not the sort of thing I ever expected to see in my lifetime.

Brennan’s nutty public statements may reflect his sense that the tide is now running against him and his cronies. 
Something Chuck Schumer said two years ago should be revisited. He publicly warned Trump that “Intel officials ‘have six ways from Sunday at getting back at you'” meaning Trump should not take on the FBI. Maybe it was just Schumer flapping his gums, but maybe there’s more to it. It is safe to assume that guys like Brennan were abusing their power for a long time. There may be another game afoot, behind the scenes, to rein in an intel community that has been out of control for longer than the public currently knows.
Here's a good summary of John Brennan's role in the coup. Brennan has acknowledged voting for the Communist Party USA's candidate. It's also suspected that he is a convert to Islam.

Who in the world would appoint such a person to head the CIA? Oh, right.

Eggs are finally coming out of the closet

For 50 years your federal government has warned us against eating eggs. It was bad science. It was wrong. I love eggs, but I believed your federal government and mostly gave up eggs.

Now it appears I won't live as long.

People who eat an egg just about every day may have a lower risk of heart attack and stroke than individuals who don’t eat eggs at all, Reuters reports
Researchers examined survey data on egg consumption among 461,213 adults who were 51 years old on average. Compared to people who never ate eggs, individuals who ate an average of 0.76 eggs per day were 11 percent less likely to develop cardiovascular diseases and 18 percent less likely to die from these conditions, the study found.
If you read the article, you'll find plenty of people still arguing against eggs. So let's turn to the Harvard School of Public Health. It offers:
  • Research on moderate egg consumption in two large prospective cohort studies (nearly 40,000 men and over 80,000 women) found that up to one egg per day is not associated with increased heart disease risk in healthy individuals.
  • Eggs were previously associated with heart disease risk as a result of their high cholesterol content. However, a solid body of research shows that for most people, cholesterol in food has a smaller effect on blood levels of total cholesterol and harmful LDL cholesterol than does the mix of fats in the diet. 
Bottom line: Enjoy your eggs. And don't believe what the government tells you.

Alban Goodier: contentment

"Those who face that which is actually before them, unburdened by the past, undistracted by the future, these are they who live, who make the best use of their lives; these are those who have found the secret of contentment."

Monday, May 21, 2018

Oh, spare us this woke monarchy

Somebody woke her up.
Everyone’s raving about how the monarchy has finally landed in the 21st century, shaking off its old, oh-so-white ways to become a modern, multicultural outfit that signals to all Brits, whatever their hue, that they are much-loved, Brendan O'Neill writes.
The whole thing was just so knowing and strained. It was a carefully orchestrated stab at projecting a new image of monarchy that ended up as a confused pageant that was neither one thing nor the other. The new aristocrats — slebs like Clooney, Oprah and Elton — awkwardly rubbed shoulders with old aristocrats most of us would struggle to name. 
The black American Episcopalian preacher was a hit with the crowds but left the queen and Zara Phillips visibly perplexed. The presence of the black choir was celebrated as a herald of the New Britain and yet everyone ended up singing ‘God Save the Queen’, as they always must, because the queen, for all this institution’s much trumpeted modernisation, is still an instrument of God to lead the British people.
The wedding captured but of course did zilch to resolve a simmering tension in the upper echelons of British society. It brought together modern-day ‘kweens’ (Serena, Amal, Posh Spice) with the actual queen, leaving us unsure who we’re meant to bow to these days. The media talking point — and clearly the guiding principle of Prince Harry’s team — was ‘inclusivity’, yet the monarchy remains the least inclusive organisation in the land. You literally have to have been created by a particular person’s sperm to have a place in it. The rest of us have more chance of being included in a mission to Mars than we do of becoming members of the ‘inclusive’ House of Windsor.

The most bizarre idea is that Meghan’s arrival will make the monarchy more representative. The monarchy isn’t meant to be representative — it’s meant to be the opposite. It is supposed to stand above both grubby politics and us mere mortals to embody a superhuman moral aura that might steer the nation. This inherently anti-representative, aloof nature of monarchism is precisely why some of us would prefer to live in a Republic of Britain. Making the monarchy inclusive is political surrealism.
Yeah, but the whole world has gone nuts, so why can't the monarchs? Oh, that's right. They already have.

Let's hear from the students on their safety

We recently watched as gun control advocates used students to push their beliefs. I've got a different idea: Let's ask the students how to keep themselves safe.

They know the school and the students. They know the students who become violent. Let's ask them what to do. And ask their parents as well.

Parents got to express their ideas recently in West Orange, Florida. Parents encouraged investing in panic buttons, bulletproof windows and doors, metal detectors, training programs in emergency procedures for substitute teachers and more funding for additional school resource officers, professionally licensed guidance counselors and mental-health services.

What could we learn from the students?

One high schooler has come up with a device to prevent active shooters from getting inside classrooms – and to keep students safe. He calls it the "JustinKase." It's a product made of steel that latches to a door frame to bar entry. His own school already ordered 50 of them, one for each room in the building.

Here's what it looks like and how it works:


Here are a few other safety ideas, the kind that might spring up from the community and not the experts:

1. We have roughly 370,000 unemployed veterans  — 59% between the ages of 25–54. I propose that a minimum of two armed veterans be placed inside every school in America.

2.  The Glendale, Arizona, Fire Department donated cut pieces of their old, decommissioned hoses to use as “safety sleeves.” You slide a foot long piece of hose over a door arm mechanism.
The hose is strong enough to prevent someone from opening the door.

I don't know why you couldn't use a piece of PVC pipe or something similar. You'd just have to make sure it stays in place.

I also don't know if those "arms" have a disabling mechanism, making the hose superfluous.

Well, let the students figure it out.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Vespers: O Eternal Fire, O Source of Love


The Choir and Orchestra of the J. S. Bach Foundation perform J.S. Bach's Cantata BWV 34 "O ewiges Feuer, o Ursprung der Liebe" (O eternal fire, o source of love).

Where the cantata was first performed
The J.S. Bach Foundation has embarked on a remarkable undertaking: over a period of some 25 years, the Foundation will perform the complete vocal works by Johann Sebastian Bach (1685–1750). Each month, one of the over 200 Bach cantatas is performed in the idyllic town of Trogen in Appenzell, Switzerland. With a rhythm of 12 cantatas per year, the project is estimated to conclude in the year 2030.

Bach composed this cantata in Leipzig for Pentecost Sunday. He led the first performance on June 1, 1727.

The prescribed readings for the day are taken from the Acts of the Apostles, on the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:1–13), and from the Gospel of John, in which Jesus announces the Spirit who will teach, in his Farewell Discourse (John 14:23–31). The workload of the composer and his musicians was high for Christmas, Easter and Pentecost, because in Leipzig they were all celebrated for three days.

And they were filled with the Holy Spirit

Mosaic of the Pentecost in the Basilica of Monreale in Sicily
From The Lectionary:

Acts 2:1-21
 
2:1 When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place.

2:2 And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting.

2:3 Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them.

2:4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.

2:5 Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem.

2:6 And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each.

2:7 Amazed and astonished, they asked, "Are not all these who are speaking Galileans?

2:8 And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language?

2:9 Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia,

2:10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes,

2:11 Cretans and Arabs--in our own languages we hear them speaking about God's deeds of power."

2:12 All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, "What does this mean?"

2:13 But others sneered and said, "They are filled with new wine."

2:14 But Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed them, "Men of Judea and all who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and listen to what I say.

2:15 Indeed, these are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only nine o'clock in the morning.

2:16 No, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel:

2:17 'In the last days it will be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams.

2:18 Even upon my slaves, both men and women, in those days I will pour out my Spirit; and they shall prophesy.

2:19 And I will show portents in the heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and smoky mist.

2:20 The sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the coming of the Lord's great and glorious day.

2:21 Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.'

Dale Carnegie: friends

"You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you."

Thursday, May 17, 2018

How to protect yourself from ticks

It's tick season and time to be vigilent, especially here in the Northeast. Ticks carry some frightful diseases.

Here, from the Harvard Health Blog, are some things you should do.

1. Be mindful of where your children play, as brush and tall grasses are where the ticks hang out. As much as possible, try to keep to the center of paths. Use a repellent with DEET (at least 20%), picaridin, or IR3535 on exposed skin (the Environmental Protection Agency has a great online tool that can help you choose the best insect repellent), and spray clothing (including socks and shoes) and gear like backpacks with permethrin.

2. Check your kids every day. Even they were just playing outside in the yard, get in the habit of looking them over. Ticks like warm, moist areas like the armpits, groin, and scalp, so you should particularly check there. Be sure to look carefully, because the blacklegged tick often transmits when it’s in the nymph stage, and nymphs are really tiny. If you find an attached tick, grab it at the base with a tweezer and pull it upward with steady pressure. You can get rid of a live tick by wrapping it tightly in something or flushing it down the toilet.

3. If you do tick checks at the end of every day you should be fine, because it takes at least 24 hours — more often 36 to 48 hours — for an infected tick to transmit Lyme. This is a really important point that many people don’t know. The classic rash of Lyme is an expanding bull’s-eye rash at the site of the bite. The rash is present in 70% to 80% of cases. Of course, that means it isn’t present in 20% to 30% of cases, so if someone in your family had a tick on them for more than 24 hours, or if you live in an area where there are many cases of Lyme and there may have been a tick bite, you should call your doctor if the person has a fever, chills, aches and pains for no clear reason, along with swollen lymph nodes or swelling of one or more joints. While having these symptoms doesn’t mean for sure that a person has Lyme, it’s worth getting checked out, as early treatment generally leads to a complete cure.

The post has more information. So does the Lyme disease page on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.

Arthur Brisbane: alone

"Get away from the crowd when you can. Keep yourself to yourself, if only for a few hours daily."

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Gina Haspel has nothing to apologize for

Once again everyone is harrumphing around and virtue signaling over "torture."

Allow me to show you some pictures of torture.
The fall was said to take about ten seconds. It would vary according to the body position and how long it took to reach terminal velocity — around 125mph in most cases, but if someone fell head down with their body straight, as if in a dive, it could be 200mph. One woman, in a final act of modesty, appeared to be holding down her skirt.

People on the ground heard the bodies landing with sickening, almost explosive thuds.

Please spare me your anguish over waterboarding. If you don't have the stomach for reality, then go hide in a closet.

Dr. James Mitchell was an Air Force psychologist who has been identified as the "architect" of the CIA's "enhanced interrogation" program. In an interview, he explained why he did it:
Mitchell recalled how he initially did not want to do interrogations, and he remembered the instant that he decided to “pony up.”

“The 911 victims are the reason that I’m here,” he said.

Mitchell remembered the heroes on Flight 93, telling Kelly that if ordinary people were willing to give up their lives to save the Capitol building, then he should be able to give up his moral high ground to save more lives.

“What we forget is al Qaeda tried to decapitate the United States on 9/11,” Mitchell said.
For several years after 9/11 I would post items under the slug "lest we forget." Because it seemed that we were forgetting the worst attack on our homeland ever. We're still forgetting.

It's not a nice world out there, boys and girls.

In the Mirror: Mac and cheese

Let's pause from all the excitement for a moment and examine the way we live in 2018.

The Canadian journalist David Warren looks at a common American food.
It is beyond me why these North Americans buy little boxes at the supermarket, labelled “macaroni and cheese.” I saw one yesterday loading her cart with the things, while I was innocently fetching milk for my tea.

Once I bought one from curiosity, and found that it contained little macaroni elbows and a pouch with a powdered substance that would have frightened me, had it arrived in the mail. I do not know what chemicals it contained, but when the instructions on the box were followed, it began to smell of processed cheese. In Canada we call this “Kraft Dinner,” and I assume it is fed to prisoners. In the USA they take branding more for granted, call it generically “mac and cheese.” Until I experiment, I cannot know if cats will eat it.

Now, the Kraft company has a special place in my demonology because many decades ago, when Ontario was applauded for her cheese factories, making cheddars good as or better than any in the British Empire or world, they bought up and closed as many as they could. Or so I was told, by some commie, but he seemed to have documentary proof.

European readers may not be aware that, prior to the World Wars, every region of North America, and every imported ethnicity, had its own distinctive and rich culinary traditions, and the range of goods in our markets was substantially greater than it is today. Across the board, our food was not the bland muck that emerged in the middle of the last century, with the final triumph of state-regulated industrial capitalism, with its tireless search for a lower common denominator to suit astounding economies of scale.
Warren is good, but he doesn't address the central parental dilemma of our time: buying the correct color cheese for the kids. If you're a parent, you understand.

Thomas Merton: Suffering

"The more you try to avoid suffering the more you suffer because smaller and more insignificant things begin to torture you in proportion to your fear of being hurt."

Monday, May 14, 2018

Vox Populi: Not too late to name your newborn Melania

"Anywhere, anytime ordinary people are given the chance to choose, the choice is the same: freedom, not tyranny; democracy, not dictatorship; the rule of law, not the rule of the secret police. 

~ Tony Blair

First lady Melania Trump has experienced a significant surge in support, a new CNN poll reveals, including among women and Democrats.

“Melania” was among the top five baby names in rising popularity last year, the first year of Melania Trump’s time as first lady of the United States.

A poll shows that President Donald Trump’s approval rating has spiked since April 27 — prompting the Reuters/Ipsos polling team to quarantine their data.

What if most Americans want to reduce immigration by 75 percent? Washington elites better brace themselves because a new survey of 1,000 likely voters found 49 percent would slash green cards by three-fourths. Only 17 percent would keep things as they are.

ESPN had a terrible month this April, reporting that it lost about 500,000 subscribers over the course of 30 days. The business collapse at ESPN has caused a panic at the network, a desperate grab for relevance that has led to a pronounced leftward move.

This past week witnessed Fox News pull far ahead of its major cable news competitors CNN and MSNBC – setting itself up for the largest weekly ratings victory since last fall in the critical Nielsen Research television audience measurements.

CNN is on the brink of collapse, with its May ratings free-falling a staggering 20 percent, according to figures released this week.

As Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation wears on and former FBI Director James Comey’s book drops more inside information about the 2016 election, more voters now think a special prosecutor should be assigned to investigate the FBI.

800,000 people will leave New York and California over the next three years due to the new tax bill, conservative economists Arthur Laffer and Stephen Moore said in an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal.

An overwhelming majority of Californians want to deport more illegal immigrants, and nearly half support President Trump's travel ban aimed at reducing terrorism, according to a new survey from the University of California at Berkeley's Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society.

The latest YouGov/Economist poll has some frightening news for the Democratic Party. Among African-Americans, 16 percent approve of Trump, 8 points higher than the 8 percent of black voter support Trump received on election day 2016.

The nation's largest gun-control political action committees raised just over $1.4 million in March, about 60 percent of the amount raised by the National Rifle Association's PAC.

National Carry Academy reported that enrollment in its concealed carry courses rose 24 percent in the weeks following the tragedy in Parkland, Fla. While calls for gun bans reverberated across the mainstream media, concealed carry permits obtained through NCA jumped 120 percent, with women making up half that number, compared with just a third earlier.

A poll released by the far-left CNN shows that optimism about the direction of the country under President Trump has hit an 11-year high of 57 percent. The last time this same poll registered a number that high was in January 2007. This includes 40 percent of Democrats, which is a leap of 15 points from just last month.

Weaponizing government agencies to win an election

We're now learning that Barack Obama's FBI, under Director James B. Comey, had at least one spy inside The Donald's election campaign.

Kimberley Strassel at The Wall Street Journal reports:
... we might take this to mean that the FBI secretly had a person on the payroll who used his or her non-FBI credentials to interact in some capacity with the Trump campaign. This would amount to spying, and it is hugely disconcerting. It would also be a major escalation from the electronic surveillance we already knew about, which was bad enough.
Others are reporting that the spy was Stefan Halper, a foreign policy expert and Cambridge professor with connections to the CIA and its British counterpart, MI6.

Why am I not surprised that Obama would so blatantly spy on The Donald? Because he weaponized the IRS to win the 2012 election, and he got away with it.

From The Wall Street Journal:
Imagine if liberal groups discovered that President Trump’s Internal Revenue Service was targeting them for heightened scrutiny or harassment. The media and Democrats would decry this assault on the First Amendment and declare the U.S. on the brink of autocracy. The scandal would dominate the midterms, and the legitimacy of the election would be called into question.

Strangely enough, the IRS did target organs of the opposition party during the last administration, but the episode has largely faded from public memory without resolution. May 10 marks the fifth anniversary of the revelation that President Obama’s IRS targeted conservative groups for more than two years prior to the 2012 presidential election.
Nobody has done anything about this. Not Paul Ryan, not Mitch McConnell, not Jeff Sessions.

Remember that Richard Nixon was forced to resign for sending some burglars into a hotel room during an election.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Vespers: And I Saw a New Heaven


The King's College Cambridge Choir sings Edgar Bainton's "And I Saw a New Heave." 

Edgar Leslie Bainton (1880 – 1956) was a British-born, latterly Australian-resident composer. He is remembered today mainly for his liturgical anthem "And I Saw a New Heaven," a popular work in the repertoire of Anglican church music, but during recent years Bainton's other musical works, neglected for decades, have been increasingly heard. 

The lyrics come from Revelation 21:1-4.
And I saw a new heaven and a new earth;
for the first heaven and first earth had passed away,
and there was no more sea.
And I John saw the holy city,
new Jerusalem coming down from God out of heaven,
prepared as a bride adorned for her husband;
and I heard a great voice out of heaven, saying:
‘Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men,
and he will dwell with them and they shall be his people;
and God himself shall be with them and be their God;
and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes,
and there shall be no more death neither sorrow nor crying,
neither shall there be any more pain,
for the former things are passed away.'

Feeling depressed? Pump some iron.

Don't worry. Be happy.
Resistance training can help you fight symptoms of depression.

A review of 33 randomized clinical trials involving 1877 participants found that resistance exercise training significantly reduced depressive symptoms among adults regardless of health status, the amount of training,  or significant improvements in strength. 

Here's a guide to getting started. Here's another

I confess: The whole idea just really makes me depressed.

Scripture: They do not belong to the world

Otto Greiner (1869–1916)
From The Lectionary:

John 17:6-19
 
17:6 "I have made your name known to those whom you gave me from the world. They were yours, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word.

17:7 Now they know that everything you have given me is from you;

17:8 for the words that you gave to me I have given to them, and they have received them and know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me.

17:9 I am asking on their behalf; I am not asking on behalf of the world, but on behalf of those whom you gave me, because they are yours.

17:10 All mine are yours, and yours are mine; and I have been glorified in them.

17:11 And now I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one.

17:12 While I was with them, I protected them in your name that you have given me. I guarded them, and not one of them was lost except the one destined to be lost, so that the scripture might be fulfilled.

17:13 But now I am coming to you, and I speak these things in the world so that they may have my joy made complete in themselves.

17:14 I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world.

17:15 I am not asking you to take them out of the world, but I ask you to protect them from the evil one.

17:16 They do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world.

17:17 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.

17:18 As you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.

17:19 And for their sakes I sanctify myself, so that they also may be sanctified in truth.

Edmund Burke: despair

"Never despair; but if you do, work on in despair."

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Are therapy dogs as happy as we are?

Scout at work.
I take Scout the Wonder Dog to two nursing homes and a hospital every week to visit with the residents and patients.

I enjoy it immensely, and of course the patients and nurses love it. And from research we we know that therapy dogs make lives better.

Scout knows the routine and could almost do it himself. He goes from door to door and approaches the patient to say hello. But is he having as much fun as we humans are?

Apparently so. 
A recent study in Applied Animal Behaviour Science reports that therapy dogs in pediatric cancer wards are not stressed by their "work," and in fact seem to enjoy it in most cases.

The researchers measured levels of cortisol, a hormone elevated in response to stress, in the canines' saliva. The team also videotaped and analyzed 26 canine behaviors in three categories: friendly actions such as approaching a person or play-bowing; moderate stress indicators such as lip-licking and shaking; and high-stress behaviors like whimpering.
The scientists found no difference between the study dogs' cortisol levels at home and at the hospital, evidence that the therapy dogs were not particularly stressed.
Scout does get anxious in a limited number of situations, such as a large, noisy room with lots of people. I'm hoping to work on this with a trainer who specializes in therapy dogs.

Wednesday, May 09, 2018

Obama's student loan scam you paid for

Here, hold my beer.
The Donald has proposed a budget that would dismantle a program that helps individuals with jobs in government or for a tax-exempt nonprofit organization pay off their loans.

Follow the howls to understand what's going on here. In essence, the Obama Administration set up a scheme to give your tax money to its favorite constituencies, who then returned the money as well as votes.

Here how your money traveled the circle.

Start with the fact that college administrators, professors and their noisiest students, who lean leftward politically, donated overwhelmingly to Barack Obama’s campaigns.

In turn, Obama took control of the student loan program and cranked it up, doubling its size during his tenure, until it eventually reached $1.3 trillion in outstanding indebtedness. So taxpayer-guaranteed money began flowing to those who helped elect him in 2008.

Universities eagerly accounted for these funds by raising their tuition. As far back as 1987, then-Education Secretary William Bennett asserted that student loans allow colleges to raise their costs, because students will simply turn to loans to absorb them, not fully understanding the consequences.

That hypothesis was recently supported by a study at the Federal Reserve Board in New York. It found that schools raised tuition by 60 to 70 cents for each extra dollar of subsidized student loans.

That’s a classic example of too much money chasing too few goods, or as the economist Milton Friedman put it, “Inflation is always and everywhere a monetary phenomenon in the sense that it is and can be produced only by a more rapid increase in the quantity of money than in output.”

This wasn’t the only money flowing to universities during the Obama Administration. According to the non-partisan Open the Books:
  • Ivy League payments and entitlements cost taxpayers $41.59 billion in FY2010-FY2015. This is equivalent to $120,000 in government monies, subsidies, and special tax treatment per undergraduate student, or $6.93 billion per year.
  • The Ivy League was the recipient of $25.73 billion worth of federal payments during this period: contracts ($1.37 billion), grants ($23.9 billion) and direct payments – student assistance ($460 million).
  • The eight colleges of the Ivy League received more money ($4.31 billion) – on average - annually from the federal government than sixteen states.
The Ivy League returned the favor: 96 percent of the faculty and staff at Ivy League colleges that contributed to the 2012 presidential race donated to President Obama's campaign. From the eight elite schools, $1,211,267 was contributed to the Obama campaign, compared to the $114,166 given to Romney. Employees and faculty affiliated with the University of California were the top contributors to Obama’s 2012 campaign, giving even more than the billionaires at Microsoft and Google.

Flush with taxpayer money, what have universities done with it? For one thing, they have doubled the number of administrators on their payrolls.

And taxpayer-paid university presidents eagerly educate us on political issues, pointedly taking sides against President Trump. Under Obama, however, professors gave the administration glowing reviews in interviews with the press.

We all pay the price, of course, but the biggest losers are the millennials, who stagger under historic loads of college debt but end up sleeping in their parents’ basements because they can’t find work. They are paying for those administrators and college presidents who continue to carry water for Obama.

Now the Trump Administration recently is putting some loan holders on notice that they might not, as they believed, be eligible for debt forgiveness. These students might represent 25 percent of the entire workforce of the nation. They are students entering careers in government or non-profit organizations – two reliably Democrat constituencies.

This phenomenon is a classic example of “rent seeking,” which is the name for people “obtaining benefits for themselves through the political arena. They typically do so by getting a subsidy for a good they produce or for being in a particular class of people …“

You're paying the rent.