Wednesday, January 17, 2018

More about those "Third World s***holes"

Last week I pointed out that many so-called "Third World s***holes" were perfectly accurately described by that label.  They were, and are, s***holes - literally as well as figuratively.

Now a former Peace Corps volunteer adds her perspective.

In plain English: s--- is everywhere.  People defecate on the open ground, and the feces is blown with the dust – onto you, your clothes, your food, the water.  He warned us the first day of training: do not even touch water.  Human feces carries parasites that bore through your skin and cause organ failure.

Never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined that a few decades later, liberals would be pushing the lie that Western civilization is no better than a third-world country.  Or would teach two generations of our kids that loving your own culture and wanting to preserve it are racism.

Last time I was in Paris, I saw a beautiful African woman in a grand boubou have her child defecate on the sidewalk next to Notre Dame Cathedral.  The French police officer, ten steps from her, turned his head not to see.

I have seen.  I am not turning my head and pretending unpleasant things are not true.

Senegal was not a hellhole.  Very poor people can lead happy, meaningful lives in their own cultures' terms.  But they are not our terms.  The excrement is the least of it.  Our basic ideas of human relations, right and wrong, are incompatible.

As a twenty-one-year-old starting out in the Peace Corps, I loved Senegal.  In fact, I was euphoric.  I quickly made friends and had an adopted family.  I relished the feeling of the brotherhood of man.  People were open, willing to share their lives and, after they knew you, their innermost thoughts.

The longer I lived there, the more I understood: it became blindingly obvious that the Senegalese are not the same as us.  The truths we hold to be self-evident are not evident to the Senegalese.  How could they be?  Their reality is totally different.  You can't understand anything in Senegal using American terms.

There's more at the link.

Those of us who've been there, know what such places are like.  When President Trump (allegedly) describes them as "s***holes", he's speaking nothing more or less than the truth.  They are precisely that.  Anyone trying to deny that is living in cloud cuckoo land - or deliberately lying to you.

I stand by what I said last week:

I think President Trump's point may have been unfortunately phrased;  but I think it is nevertheless accurate.  The USA does not need to be overrun by people who are not capable of becoming Americans.  It needs immigrants who are able to make that adjustment.  For those who are not, by all means let us help them;  but let us do so in their own countries or regions, and help them to improve the quality of life there for everybody.  That's the only practical solution that's fair to everyone, IMHO.


Pick your fights carefully . . .

. . . because you may lose.


Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Saving Rosa Parks' house - by moving it to Europe???

This happened some time ago, but I only just read about it in this article.

The project came about [in 2016], when Rhea McCauley, Ms. Parks’s niece, met Mr. Mendoza in Detroit. As part of an art project that explored his own sense of home, as well as the American subprime mortgage crisis, Mr. Mendoza successfully transported an abandoned house from Detroit to Europe, winning the trust of Detroit community members along the way. Ms. McCauley told him she had managed to buy back the family house for $500, but she could not find anyone interested in saving it from demolition.

Mr. Mendoza, who makes his living as a fine-arts painter, agreed to help. He raised a little over $100,000 by selling some of his paintings, and set out for Detroit. There, he worked with a local team to take apart the house, which had fallen into extreme disrepair.

He then shipped the wooden exterior to Berlin, where he spent the winter painstakingly rebuilding it, mostly alone, by hand. “It was an act of love,” he said.

That the house had to be shipped to Berlin to be saved is extraordinary, said Daniel Geary, a professor of American history at Trinity College Dublin, given that, “in general, in the U.S., with public heroes, there is an attempt to preserve anywhere they lived.”

Mr. Geary said that to him, the neglect of a house like this one speaks to a contemporary American unwillingness to deal with racism’s legacy.

“People like to remember Rosa Parks for one moment, when she wouldn’t stand up on a bus,” he said. “They don’t really want to grapple with the rest of her life. The death threats, the fact that she had to leave Alabama and go to Detroit. It’s a more complicated story with a less happy ending. She suffered for her decision.”

There's more at the link.

It's a pretty shameful thing that the home of such an icon of the civil rights movement should have to be disassembled and shipped across the Atlantic Ocean in order to save it for posterity.  She worked as the secretary and receptionist for Detroit congressman John Conyers.  Could his colleagues and/or successors in office, and/or the Democratic Party organization in Detroit, not have done something to save a building like this?

It was reported late last year that the house would be returned to America.  I hope it happens soon.  You can read more about the house, and the effort to save it, here.


I'm not a fan

I was more than a little mind-boggled to learn that Alien Gear plans to introduce an inside-the-waistband holster with a fan in it.

I can only assume this is some sort of advertising gimmick.  For a start, the fan couldn't push cooling air through the holes at the rear of the holster, because your body will block them!  It'll just push air uselessly against your skin, then blow it out the top or bottom of the holster.

There's also the question of security.  If you're carrying inside-the-waistband, presumably covering the gun with an outer garment, you don't want it to be noticed.  However, if there's the constant whine of a fan coming from your holster . . . doesn't that defeat the object of the exercise?

On the other hand, taking up a 'bladed' stance with your firearm now takes on a whole new meaning - and I suppose it makes it easier to plead self-de-fan-se . . .


How about this in the hands of terrorists?

We had some spirited discussions in these pages a few days ago (follow those three links to find the articles), concerning terrorist attacks on a Russian airbase in Syria, using 'hobbyist'-style quadcopter drones as well as some homemade larger models.  Some people are still unconvinced that the former pose any realistic threat.

Now Boeing has announced the development - in just three months from 'clean-sheet' concept to a flying prototype - of an octocopter that can carry payloads of up to 500 pounds.

Octocopters big enough to carry a human passenger have already been announced.  If Boeing can build something like that shown above in three months, using off-the-shelf components, I'm willing to bet a backyard mechanic team can do something similar in a year or so.  Given that sort of payload capability - 500 pounds is the weight of a standard USAF Mark 82 bomb - there are all sorts of nasty weapon and target combinations that come to mind. is already talking about using UAV's to deliver parcels and packages.  UPS and FedEx are doing the same.  We'll soon be seeing something like this drone in the skies around our homes.  Terrorists are sure to figure out that by painting their drone in familiar colors, and sticking a couple of commercial logos on it, and wrapping its payload in cardboard or plastic to resemble a commercial delivery, they can operate their drones with virtual impunity.  I damn well guarantee it.  This genie is well and truly out of the bottle.


Monday, January 15, 2018

Hypocrisy, thy name is politician

The latest political hypocrite (but by no means the only one):

It's becoming something of a miracle to find any politician, from either side of the aisle, who isn't a hypocrite.  I'd love to see a law that says any politician caught in such duplicity would not be permitted to run for re-election during the next term of office.  It's a pipe-dream, I know, but it's a pleasant one . . .


Looks like Puerto Rico's endemic corruption has struck again

For decades, it's been alleged that Puerto Rico's government is at least as corrupt as any other third world nation, if not more so - despite its US government oversight.  For example, in 2001 corruption scandals led to indictments against about 40 officials.  In 2010, 89 Puerto Rican law enforcement officers were among about 130 people charged.  Global Security claims that the seemingly endemic corruption is largely rooted in the drug trade, as drugs from South America are smuggled into the USA via Puerto Rico.

Last year, famed investigative reporter Sharyl Attkisson produced this report on corruption in the island, noting that even before Hurricane Maria's devastation, the economy there was in tatters.

Last week came news that the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority might be involved in a new corruption scandal.

On Saturday, a day after becoming aware of a massive store of rebuilding materials being held by the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority, the U.S. federal government — the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, along with their security detail — entered a Palo Seco warehouse owned by the public utility to claim and distribute the equipment, according to a spokesperson for the Corps.

Rumors of a tense standoff had been circulating on the island, but the encounter was confirmed to The Intercept in a statement from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Asked if the federal officers were armed when they entered the warehouse, USACE spokesperson Luciano Vera said they were indeed accompanied by security detail and quickly began distributing the material after seizing it.

. . .

“Warehouse 5” — the one which USACE and FEMA entered Saturday — “falls under the control of the [PREPA] transmission division and has lacked transparency in inventory and accountability,” the email from Vera continued. Carlos Torres, appointed by Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló to oversee power restoration, was on site as well.

“Due to the size of the warehouse,” Vera said, accounting for everything contained therein is still underway days later. Among the materials recovered so far are “2,875 pieces of critical material to contractors” along with the sleeves of full-tension steel, a component of Puerto Rican electrical infrastructure required to erect new power lines. PREPA did not respond to The Intercept’s request for comment, though in a statement to the Associated Press, it rejected allegations that it had failed to distribute the warehouse’s contents. The AP only reported that “officials over the weekend also discovered some needed materials in a previously overlooked warehouse owned by Puerto Rico’s Electric Power Authority.” How they discovered them and how they were obtained is a story that has not been fully told.

There's more at the link.

The island's governor has 'ordered an investigation' into the discovery of the materials.  However, one possible reason for their existence being hidden has been advanced by a former Puerto Rican Secretary of State.

Kenneth McClintock, Puerto Rico’s Secretary of State from 2009 to 2013 and president of the island’s senate from 2005 to 2008 told Mother Jones on Wednesday that PREPA, the US Attorney’s Office, and the FBI should investigate the incident as evidence of corruption.

“If the US Attorney and the FBI are not currently investigating corruption at PREPA, which has been going on for 70 years, this incident—with such a huge amount of materials has been kept away from plain view for so long—would be a good point to begin,” he said. “This was not a mistake. This is corruption.”

. . .

“What they’ve been doing is creating a huge hidden cache of the materials that are needed to do repairs. And then for lack of access to repair materials, the outside crews from the states have been waiting at the hotels with their trucks parked,” McClintock says, adding that the power authority’s local employees and their unions do not want outside crews “doing the job that they can do with triple-pay overtime.”

Again, more at the link.

President Trump allegedly referred to certain Third World nations in uncomplimentary terms last week.  I wonder whether he might not wish to employ the same language about Puerto Rico, and its clearly inept, irresponsible, incompetent government?  Seems to me we need to 'clean house' there even before we worry about immigrants from elsewhere.  I wonder how many Puerto Ricans currently moving to the mainland will bring with them a culture tolerant of such corruption?  Will we see it spread to Florida and elsewhere?

I'm not being racist in the least - I'm being realistic.  The color of the skin of those involved, or the language they speak, is irrelevant.  Once you allow corruption to become so entrenched in society - any society - it's almost impossible to uproot it.  As evidence, I submit New York City, Chicago, Detroit, or New Orleans.  Examples there are so immense in number and in scope that there's really no reason to say more, is there?


Sunday, January 14, 2018

Sunday morning music

Let's have a change of pace.  So-called 'spirituals' or 'negro spirituals' grew out of the experience of slaves in America, and have become a recognized music genre in their own right.  They also informed and influenced the folk music revival of the 1950's and 1960's, to such an extent that there's hardly a single folk music 'great' who didn't also record spirituals.  There are so many of them it's impossible to do them justice in a short blog post, but here are half a dozen classics, plus an updated one.

Let's start with a 1920's recording from Paul Robeson of 'Go Down Moses'.

Here's Bob Gibson and Joan Baez in a remastered 1959 recording of 'We Are Crossing That Jordan River'.

And who can forget the great Louis Armstrong with 'Ezekiel Saw de Wheel'?

The Weavers were one of the earliest groups in the folk music revival, and leaned heavily on spirituals for their repertoire.  Here they are in 1963 with 'Sinner Man'.

Patsy Cline and a young Willie Nelson collaborate in this rendition of 'Just A Closer Walk With Thee'.

Here's Australian group The Seekers with 'Come The Day'.  It's an original composition, but heavily influenced by the many spirituals the group performed.  I've included it as an interesting example of how spirituals influenced the new folk music of the 1960's.

Finally, the old classic spirituals have lent themselves to some reinterpretation down the years.  Here's Pete Seeger with a humorous, tongue-in-cheek look at 'Old Time Religion'.

I'm not sure how many of the original singers of spirituals would have reacted to that version!


Saturday, January 13, 2018

You never know where you'll run into those pesky polar bears . . .

Norway is giggling at Australia's expense.  The Telegraph reports:

Norwegian diplomats have poked fun at official Australian travel advice on how to avoid a polar bear attack in the Scandinavian country.

Norway’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) softly dismissed tips from Australia's Smartraveller advisory and consular information service with a light-hearted Twitter response.

“Thank you Australia for your concern,” Norway’s MFA posted. “We can assure you that in mainland Norway all polar bears are stuffed and poses only limited risk.”

Officials followed up the sarcastic response with a photo of a stuffed polar bear on display in the office of Norway’s prime minister Erna Solberg.

The Australian advisory’s Twitter post had failed to clarify that the warning was actually for travellers visiting Svalbard, an archipelago between mainland Norway and the North Pole, which has a population of around 2,000 polar bears.

There's more at the link.

Oh, well.  I suppose it's a natural enough mistake for an Australian to make, from the far side of the globe!  "Down under" indeed!


The "fake news" people are getting desperate, aren't they?

Just in the last 24 hours:
  • The US ambassador to Panama was claimed to have resigned because of President Trump's alleged "third-world s***holes" comment.  Unfortunately, that's not true.  He resigned two weeks before that;  and his resignation was announced about 24 hours before the President allegedly made the comment.
  • A porn star was alleged to have been "paid off" by the Trump campaign, to the tune of $130,000, to keep silent about an alleged "affair" or "sexual encounter" with Trump the year after he married his present wife.  That's not true either.  The porn star concerned has issued, in writing, a vehement denial that anything of the sort ever took place - affair, sexual encounter, or payoff.

One wonders why the mainstream media appear to have gone into meltdown, and why the "fake news" people are getting so desperate for material.  Could it be they're terrified of the real reasons behind the tapping of then-candidate Trump's communications, and the truth behind the so-called "Trump dossier", getting out at last?  Are they trying to find anything that might distract attention from what's increasingly looking like meeting the definition of "high crimes and misdemeanors" - if not actual high treason - on the part of some FBI and other Obama administration officials?

Makes you think, doesn't it?