Tuesday, December 16, 2014

"Confused about Islam"

That's how WaPo headlines an article on the homicidal Islamist in Sydney, echoing statements from various "experts."  It appears that Man Haron Monis had theological interpretations of Islam that didn't conform to what the "experts" describe as "basic Islamic theology."  Why, he didn't even know the difference between doctrines and ideologies!  (The article does not go on to explain the "obvious" difference.)

That's rich!  I'm waiting for similar headlines on how Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan isn't familiar with the basics of Islam.  I don't recall any equivalent headlines concerning Christianity or conservatism when maniacs assassinated abortion providers or blew up clinics, or for that matter when Hindu nationalists in India or Buddhists in Thailand commits acts of religious violence.  Somehow Islam is the only doctrine (um, theology? ideology?) we need worry being confused about.

Here's a better article than WaPo mustered on the Islam-inspired terrorist attack in Pakistan, from Albawaba.  It's much shorter and notes the significance of ISI's support for the Pakistani Taliban, a crucial fact WaPo neglects -- news seems to be crowded out by pathos and propaganda in the American MSM these days.

Meanwhile, back at Unforeseen Contingencies headquarters, we are about to head West for Christmas. More blogging ahead!

Monday, December 08, 2014

Why Unforeseen Contingencies loves Darren Wilson and Daniel Pantaleo

Unforeseen Contingencies unequivocally endorses the actions of police officers Darren Wilson and Daniel Pantaleo that resulted in the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner.  Here's why.

First, the two cases are completely unrelated, except that racists Barack Obama, Eric Holder, Al Sharpton, and their lackeys have lumped them together as examples of inappropriate police tactics, and the stupid fools who follow them are in tizzies over these completely legitimate uses of force by the police.  The events are unrelated, and neither has anything to do with abuse of force or selective use of force against blacks. Furthermore, both officers did exactly what they should have done, and should be commended for acting appropriately under difficult circumstances.  All of this is easily established.

1. In the case of Officer Darren Wilson, it's clear that Michael Brown was a suspect in a robbery in which he assaulted a shopkeeper.  When Wilson stopped Brown and his accomplice, Brown assaulted Wilson, injuring him, and attempted to seize his firearm, putting Wilson's life in jeopardy. Brown broke off the assault, but then resumed it.  The only sensible  alternative for Wilson was to employ deadly force.  It took half a dozen rounds, but happily Wilson successfully stopped the deranged predator.  It's sad Brown fell to such depths and engaged in such terrible behavior, but given that he did, it's good he was stopped.  It cannot be said that he didn't deserve the fate that befell him.  Stealing cigars does not warrant being shot.  Attempted murder is another matter.  Officer Wilson behaved appropriately and should be commended for his actions.

2. In the case of officer Daniel Pantaleo, it's clear that Eric Garner was resisting arrest; had he not done so, events would have developed very differently.  Once police officers attempted to cuff him, his resistance made it necessary to take physical control of him.  Officer Pantaleo took Garner to the ground in a headlock, not a chokehold.  A headlock grabs the head and neck so that one can make the body follow and direct it where one wants.  A chokehold shuts off either the carotid arteries or windpipe and makes the target pass out.  Pantaleo employed a headlock, not a chokehold.  To emphasize this, note that martial arts that employ chokeholds also employ nonverbal signals -- tapping out -- because when you're in a chokehold you can't say "I can't breathe, I can't breathe."  Here's a very interesting analysis by an M.D. of what caused Garner to die, and it absolves Pantaleo.  Here's another that throws additional light on the matter, including the hypocrisy and racism of those who are outraged.  (The arrest of Garner was supervised by a sergeant who is a black female.)  Pantaleo's actions were appropriate.

Yes, the charges against Garner stemmed from the victimless crime of selling untaxed cigarettes on the street.  This should not be a crime.  Perhaps the anti-tobacco left ought to accept the blame for Garner's death and for setting the police upon him.  But  have my own two cents to add.  I lived in NYC during the unfortunate reign of the corrupt and incompetent mayor David Dinkins.  Crime rates were high and the streets were unpleasant places, where belligerent "salesmen" (and women) interfered with passersby.  They did not necessarily violate one's rights, but they were willing to threaten such.  The streets were a mess. Hawking on a public thoroughfare is not appropriate and yes, it does not bother me that people are not allowed to harass passersby.

Regardless, during my first year in New York I happened to witness an arrest.  A street thug had robbed a citizen, who quickly found a police officer who began pursuing the thug.  The thief was cornered in a doorway and stood with his back to the officer and hands in front at the level of his belt.  The officer began screaming at the criminal to make his hands visible.  I was about 15 feet to the side of the criminal, in a spot where I couldn't quickly get away.  My eyes were glued to the crooks hands, watching to see if he was about to draw a handgun and begin spraying rounds -- something that would have been very bad for me, for the officer, and for many other people.  I don't know what he was doing -- he was up to something -- but no handgun materialized.  A couple of other officers ran up and as a group they mobbed the guy and took him down, no "dangerous chokehold" employed, just a leg grab.  The crook's head slammed the pavement with a remarkable crack.   Contrast that with I saw a few months later of two guys whom I saw the police stalk and grab from behind.  Both had headlocks applied, while other cops grabbed and cuffed them.  Having seen the headlock vs. non-headlock arrest, I'd prefer the headlock.  Better yet, I don't give police officers any legitimate reason to arrest me.

Eric Garner did not deserve to die, but no one killed him, and no one employed deadly force against him.  Completely appropriate police techniques were employed, and only because he resisted arrest.  These did not kill him; his own obesity and terrible physical condition -- for which he was responsible -- killed him.  It's unfortunate, but not criminal.  On the other hand, Michael Brown was a violent criminal bent on mayhem.  I haven't a shred of sympathy for him.  And I have even less sympathy for the savages demonstrating and rioting on behalf of him and the phony charges that America is a racist nation.

But more importantly, Officers Wilson and Pantaleo do not deserve to be demonized.  Both acted completely appropriately and should be commended for their actions.

It's probably considered a bit odd that I, a libertarian, would be writing in defense of the police.  But facts matter, and what we're witnessing is the demonization of all police everywhere on the basis of a disinformation campaign.  Yes, the police are out of control far too often, but that does not justify fabricating stories in order to lynch policemen who behaved properly.  Furthermore, I'm skeptical of the claim that the police in America are in general dangerous and unnecessarily violent.  That's nit my experience.  In every instance I have had a criminal after me, the police have been responsive, supportive, and helpful.  And I've taken multiple defensive shooting courses taught by law enforcement officers.  So yes, when police do their jobs -- our jobs, for us -- they defend our liberty and we should support them.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thanksgiving 2014: why I am thankful

Just a few of the reasons...

1. We still have a country of free market capitalism, private property rights, individual liberty (yes, I've said the same thing three ways).  It is battered and under assault, but we are still free and, for that reason, still wealthy... in spirit and in material things.

2. I have my Julie, my family, my many friends, my students, my colleagues, my Chaos... all make my life richer.

3. I am healthy, fairly fit, and sane (some might question this last one, but I would have to be crazy to deny it).  My work is going well, and we're accomplishing some things that are worth accomplishing.

As is my Thanksgiving habit, this year I roasted a turkey and prepared the usual side dishes.  As always, everything is done from scratch.  Dressing, pie crust, gravy, mashed potatoes,and the like all begin with basics.  (One exception: I served canned cranberry sauce, which was not bad at all. But this is the last time, as Jeff "Computer Geek" Ross' lovely Laura forwarded me her recipe after hearing this.)  And as is my habit, I also did a hard workout prior to dinner, one which included 100 pushups, 20 pullups, 35 standing military presses with at least half my body weight, heavy deadlifts, and a variety of squats, box jumps, kettlebell snatches, and the like.  It's uncertain whether net calories for today are negative or positive.

Photos follow.  Happy Thanksgiving!


Box jumps

Burning calories in advance

Into the oven...

Out of the oven!

Thankful in America

Before Steele
After Steele

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Thoughts on Ferguson

I held off blogging on the events in Ferguson MO first of all because I have not had time for blogging, and second because I was waiting for the grand jury to complete its work.  It is completely unsurprising that no charges were brought against Officer Wilson.  It was an undisputed fact that Michael Brown was a violent criminal, that he had just robbed a convenience store and assaulted a worker there.  Even at the start, as the mainstream media spun a web of lies about a summary execution of a "gentle giant," eye witnesses were stating that Brown assaulted Officer Wilson and was charging him when shot.  We've already seen the media do this before, in its failed attempt to lynch George Zimmerman.

The facts, as revealed in the grand jury investigation, are that when Wilson identified Brown as the suspect and attempted to stop him, Brown assaulted Wilson and attempted to grab his firearm.  Brown was lightly wounded in the struggle and then attacked Wilson a second time, who the shot Brown in obvious self defense.

There's nothing much to be said about the rioters in Ferguson and elsewhere.  They are violent criminals and should simply be dealt with using the amount of force appropriate to the particular case -- including deadly force when called for -- and then prosecuted.  It's the nonviolent protesters who deserve comment.  Let me focus on email comments I received from ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero shortly after the grandjury decision was announced.  A few excerpts...Romero writes:  Michael Brown's death is a tragic loss to his family, community, and this nation.  Well, no it was not.  Michael Brown was a dangerous predator who attacked a store keeper and then a police officer.  There is no place for such behavior in a civilized society, and no place for such criminals.  Romero apparently disagrees and values the "contribution" predators make to the community and nation.

Romero continues:  We can't lose another young Black (sic) person at the hands of the police.  Romero means to say that the next time a young black person attacks a police officer, he should be allowed to proceed? Apparently.  But in fact, the fewer predators (of any race, Brown's "blackness" is not the reason he was shot) we have in society, the better off we'll be.  The tragedy is not that Brown was shot, it's that his parents failed to teach him that robbery and assault are wrong.  Another tragedy is that Brown chose to become a violent predator, but once he did it is a good thing that he was stopped.

Romero again:   This is exactly the right moment to stand together and push for police accountability and systemic change. (emphasis his) Systemic change...he apparently thinks the grand jury was wrong, or corrupt, or something.  Exactly what does Romero think should have happened -- they shouldn't have considered the evidence?  The letter closes with a call for the DoJ to crack down on state and local law enforcement with "no profiling" guidelines.  Never mind that DoJ has no Constitutional authority at all to do this, and never mind that racial profiling had absolutely nothing to do with this case, ACLU demands it.  Romero's "systemic change" would mean an end to the rule of law.

I suppose this fundraising appeal is just an appeal to emotion and hence not to be analyzed closely, but 100% of the outrage at the grand jury decision is nothing but mindless idiotic emotion.  The peaceful protesters deserve nothing but our contempt.  There's no excuse for lamenting the demise of a violent criminal who attacks a police officer.  It appears that most of the protests are driven by racism -- that is, the racism harbored by the protesters themselves.  Wilson is hated because he is white;had he been black we'd never have heard of this case.  Race baiters from Barack Obama and Eric Holder to Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson have played this case for all they can; their own political and financial fortunes seem to benefit from strife.  The fools who allow themselves to be manipulated by these thugs are impervious to facts and reason -- it's just blind emotion for many of them and leftwing politics as usual for others.

In fact, Darren Wilson is a hero for standing up to and defeating a thug who was a threat to the community and the nation.  The peaceful protesters are ignorant, emotion-driven fools who have nothing to say that's worth hearing.  They should be deeply ashamed.

When the grand jury decision was announced, the first thing out of Obama's mouth was that he hoped the police would show restraint.  (Unfortunately, they did.)  As rioters were destroying downtown Ferguson, Holder announced DoJ investigations -- not of the people destroying the town, but of the police.  The mainstream media continues to fan the flames, New York Times going so far as to publish Wilson's home address, endangering him and his family.

It is hard to imagine that America could have ever come to this.  A substantial share of America's political class appears to be trying to create as much chaos as possible.  We're supposed to accept all this as "normal?"  There's nothing normal about it -- this is terrifically dangerous.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Update

This is not an easy semester.  Little time for blogging, but here's a quick note...

1. Jean Tirole was awarded the Nobel in Economics.  I mostly know Tirole from the masterful Game Theory he co-authored with Drew Fudenberg, the primary text I used in preparing for my field exam in game theory during my Ph.D. program at NYU.  I've read a little of his other work, but not much.  Just a good technical economist, in my view.  I'm unsurprised Kirzner didn't receive the award, but just having him identified as a frontrunner is a great thing.

2. Sweden recognized the State of Palestine.  In my opinion, it's time for Israel to bite the bullet and recognize a Palestinian state as well... and then give it 24 hours to start rooting out the terrorist groups in its territory, starting with Hamas, or face a declaration of all out war.  As far as I can tell, all of the main Palestinian political players, including Mahmoud Abbas and his PA, are exterminationists, willing to perpetrate a final solution should they get a chance.  I also think we're entering a world where this is becoming increasingly politically correct.  This morning I heard a BBC interviewer challenge an Israeli official who was talking about the the attempted assassination of Rabbi Yehuda Glick, saying "but isn't it the case that Israelis have been giving serious provocation" and then explaining that the "serious provocation" is suggesting that Jews should should be able to go to Temple Mount.  Cynical as I am, even I was shocked -- the BBC World News bunch is as PC as they come.  The freedom of any other racial, religious, or ethnic group to move about would never be challenged, I think. But it appears Jews -- especially Israeli Jews -- are becoming international pariahs, at least in Europe and parts of the United States (e.g. 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue).  No wonder Caroline Glick thinks it's time for Israel to say to hell with it and bomb Iran.  I don't know if she's right militarily, but it makes a kind of sense.  By appeasing Palestinian exterminationists and getting tough with Israel, Europe and Obama make war increasingly likely, not peace.

3. I think one must be insane to think that unrestricted travel from countries undergoing ebola epidemics is acceptable.  I cannot find it now, but the dean of a medical school in Pennsylvania recently had an op-ed in WaPo pointing out that anyone in West Africa who has been exposed to ebola ought to be doing all they can to get to the United States, where the disease is not a nearly-certain death sentence, and that for this reason we ought to be limiting travel.  But no.  President-who-would-be-king Obama assures us that completely unrestricted travel is necessary to fight the disease, and that health care workers who return to the U.S. after treating ebola patients need not be treated differently than anyone else... just before his Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel, announced quarantine for all U.S. troops who have been sent to sent Ebola.  I'm particularly irked by nurse Kaci Hickox, who courageously went to Sierra Leone to treat ebola patients, and now -- having exposed herself to the deadly disease -- self-righteously thinks she ought to be able to possibly expose everyone else.  To hell with her.  The stupid bastard Craig Spencer M.D. did the same thing and now people who had contact with him are being monitored and at least one business closed as a result.  Spencer ought to be prosecuted for what he's done, not hailed as a hero.

But these are what Heinlein called "the Crazy Years."  You can even find libertarians suggesting there's no real problem in having people with ebola travel freely and mingle with the general public, but mandatory quarantine, that's utterly unthinkable and unacceptable and is no different from establishing internment camps.  Good grief.  (Note my three responses in the comments, and that so far while Tucker has responded he refuses to deal with any serious questions at all.)

Sigh.

I will have both a Le Grizz report and part two of my nuclear weapon piece up... soon, I hope.



Saturday, October 11, 2014

"Another one in the bucket"

That's how RD Pat Caffrey described my 14th finish at Le Grizz.  This was my slowest finish to date, and also the wettest, with multiple rainstorms, some pretty darned hard, plus several hellacious hailstorms.  But a finish is a finish, so it was a good if difficult day.

Report to follow.

Friday, October 10, 2014

the Peace Prize

I'm pleasantly surprised by the announcement of this year's Nobel Peace prize.  First, it is going to actual human beings, and second, the winners really seem genuinely deserving.  Both Kailash Satyarthi and Malala Yousafzai have campaigned against systematic oppression and exploitation of fairly helpless people, both at great personal risk.  It's nice that Alfred Nobel's wishes are being fulfilled for a change.

Yes, the Norwegians could not help themselves and had to introduce some nonsensical political correctness, emphasizing that they had picked a Hindu and Muslim to share the prize, as if religion, race, etc. is an important criterion, instead of actual accomplishments -- but these are, so far as I can tell, two really good and courageous people who indeed have real accomplishments -- even if it is mostly just standing up publicly against bad guys.  So -- for a change -- good on the committee.  And congratulations to Ms. Yousafzai and Mr. Satyarthi.

And who knows, maybe a joint prize really will help reduce Pakistani-Indian hostility at the margin.  I hope so.

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