Sunday, October 19, 2014

Just get the snip, man...

Apparently even big Hollywood stars need to be reminded of the dangers of baby jail:
Jude Law, 41, stunned fans today when he revealed he is set to become a father for the fifth time. 
Upcoming singer/songwriter Catherine Harding, also known as Cat Cavelli, is the woman expecting his child and is said to be around five months pregnant, a statement given by Law's representative to MailOnline revealed.

The 23-year-old enjoyed a romance with the star and it is understood to have conceived around May/June, while spending six weeks with him on location in the Czech Republic where he was believed to have been filming Spy. The baby will be Law's fifth child, by three different partners. 
A spokesman for the actor said in the statement: 'I can confirm that Jude Law and Catherine Harding are expecting a child together in the spring.

'Whilst they are no longer in a relationship, they are both wholeheartedly committed to raising their child.

'They consider this a private matter and other than this confirmation no statement will be made.
In case you're wondering, this is what Jude Law's latest baby mamma looks like:


Not exactly unattractive. Even with that stupid pose.

Now, let's be clear about this- if you've banged Sadie Frost, Sienna Miller, and a woman who looks like that, along with a long list of other paramours, you don't need game advice from anybody.


But if you've had five children by three women, then you're in the running for the Evander Holyfield Award for Terrible Planning, and the Mohammed Ali Award for Poor Choices.

(Side note: what is it about black athletes making absolutely terrible choices with their personal lives? I'm genuinely curious about this; I don't speak jive or ebonics, and I'm not exactly "up" on hip-hop culture, so I have no idea what it comes down to. Anyone got any reasonably cogent theories? Stick 'em in the comments, let's hear 'em.)

I have nothing whatsoever against a high-status man having sex with beautiful women. If anything, such men are to be admired and emulated for their sociosexual prowess.

However, their lack of personal control and planning is not to be admired.

Think about it. A child is a huge and incredibly important responsibility. A human baby is a completely innocent creature, brought into this world either through the results of fecund love and affection, or, in this case, a total lack of any kind of forward planning. What kind of man- even a wealthy and successful man like Jude Law- consigns his child to bastardy and a life without a strong father figure?

Answer: a highly irresponsible, highly reckless, and not particularly sensible one.

I could easily be wrong. Jude Law might well be a fantastic dad. But, given the historical track record of men who have multiple children by multiple women and then, well, don't commit to any of them, I think we're safe in assuming that this is not the case with Mr. Law.

The lesson for the rest of us men is fairly straightforward. If you're not going to settle down and do things the Christian way early on, by all means, go out there and have fun. Enjoy yourself, and enjoy the women that your pursuits bring you. Such a lifestyle is a legitimate choice and as long as you are willing to accept the sacrifices and demands required to maintain that lifestyle, well, that's entirely up to you.

But don't abuse that lifestyle by bringing innocent life into this world in such tawdry fashion. Get snipped or use protection, at all times.

Be honest with yourself and with society; if you know that you're not fit to be, at minimum, a committed and loving parent, and if on top of that you are not prepared to be a partner to the woman who conceived and carried your child, then you are being wantonly foolish and must be held to account for your stupidity. There is absolutely no good reason why the consequences of your foolhardy stupidity should be visited upon your child.

And of course, there's the economic argument. A vasectomy is cheap, simple, easy to procure, and (mostly) reversible if you're crazy enough desperate ready to settle down with a good (enough) woman. (Who hopefully likes dogs. Proper, big dogs. Not those stupid mutated rats that we call "chihuahuas".)

A baby, by contrast, is really damned expensive. Even for a Hollywood movie star. I'm told- since I don't have children, I can't comment on the veracity of this- that babies are Very Very Costly and can take up Significant Amounts of Resources. They also take anywhere between 15 and 25 years to train to the point where they are self-sufficient and can be relied upon to make decisions for themselves without causing themselves and others severe bodily and/or emotional harm.

(Again, so I am told.)

So, if you're like Jude Law and you like a good roll in the hay with a beautiful woman, but don't have the wit, the will, or the wisdom to be a good and committed father and husband, just get snipped and save yourself, your child, and the rest of society a LOT of time, trouble, and expense.

Call Rentokil

If this is what they're finding in the Amazon rainforest these days, then the illegal loggers who are wiping out that forest bloody well need to HURRY THE F*** UP:


What, in the name of all that is holy, is that idiot doing with his HAND next to that monster?!? Most sane and sensible people- a phylum of which this particular berk is plainly not a member- would have run screaming for the nearest can of weapons-grade insecticide.

One is left to wonder what other Lovecraftian horrors remain to be spewed from the bowels of the world's rainforests and jungles. Think about it. Sub-Saharan Africa gave us Ebola; India gave us the Indian cobra; and now the Amazon, which appears to be second only to Australia in terms of pants-crappingly huge and lethal fauna, has given us that... thing.

I tend to be pretty anti-ecomentalist even at the best of times. Stories like this make me think that the absolute best thing we could do for our future as a species would be to turn every rainforest into a biohazard zone.

"Mummy! The big mean boys are picking on me again!!!"

An 18-time tennis Grand Slam champion- no, not the really great one, the other one- takes exception to the comments by the head of the Russian Tennis Federation about her and her sister:
Shamil Tarpischev was also fined $25,000 for making the comments on Russian television. He also said the sisters were ''scary'' to look at. 
''I think the WTA did a great job of taking (the) initiative and taking immediate action to his comments,'' Williams said Sunday in Singapore ahead of her WTA Finals defense. ''I thought they were very insensitive and extremely sexist as well as racist at the same time. I thought they were in a way bullying. '' 
Asked whether he regretted his comments, Tarpischev told The Associated Press on Saturday at the Kremlin Cup that the program on which he spoke was ''a humorous show.'' When asked about his ban, Tarpischev said: ''I can't comment. I don't understand it.'' 
In a statement released later by the Russian Tennis Federation, Tarpischev denied any ''malicious intent'' and said his quotes had been taken out of context. 
The WTA said it would seek his removal as chairman of the Kremlin Cup tournament, which ends Sunday. 
Russia's Maria Sharapova, also in Singapore for the WTA Finals, condemned her compatriot's comments. 
''I think they were very disrespectful and uncalled for, and I'm glad that many people have stood up, including the WTA. It was very inappropriate, especially in his position and all the responsibilities that he has not just in sport, but being part of the Olympic committee,'' she said. 
Tarpischev has been chairman of the Kremlin Cup, Russia's only WTA event, for all of its 18 years as a women's tour event, and is also a member of the International Olympic Committee. During the 1990s, he was the personal tennis coach to Russian President Boris Yeltsin and served as his adviser on sports matters. 
He made his comments during an appearance on a Russian talk show this month alongside former Olympic singles champion Elena Dementieva. When Dementieva was asked what it was like playing against the Williams sisters, Tarpischev interjected and called them the ''Williams brothers.'' He also said that ''it's scary when you really look at them.''

Williams, the world number 1 at the age of 33, is going into the WTA Finals on the back of another stellar year, winning six titles including the US Open. But she pulled out of the China Open earlier this month with a knee injury, triggering some concerns she might not make the Singapore.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is a sound demonstration in the difference in the way that men and women deal with snide comments.

A man- one with actual genitalia, anyway- would deal with these comments by taking a page from the Vox Day school of dealing with idiots and either ignore them, or cordially invite them to an MMA cage match. (I wish I could find the link to that post- it had something to do with that whole JournoList thing a few years back.)

A woman, or an effeminate and weak man, deals with asinine comments by running to the nearest organisation that polices such things and begs them to censor such criticisms.

Now, let me say at this point that personally, I DO NOT like Serena Williams's playing style. There is no finesse or grace about it. She grunts- roars, really- whenever she hits the ball, and if you've ever had to listen to a women's tennis match in the last, oh, 15 years, you'll know what I mean when I say that you cannot watch it with the volume up. If you do, your neighbours will be asking some very awkward questions about your sexual proclivities. And a lot of that is because of Serena Williams and Maria Shrieka Sharapova.

And her sister, Venus, isn't very much better- other than the fact that she hasn't won nearly as many titles, of course.

But calling them "brothers" is a bit beyond the pale- though not, however, for the reasons you might be thinking. I don't care whether or not it's sexist or racist or whatever-ist to call the Williams sisters "brothers"- I do care whether or not these two could actually hold their own against men, and thereby merit comparison with men.

And on that subject, the answer is a clear and resounding NO.

You see, early on in their careers as tennis players, the Williams sisters claimed that they could beat any man ranked as low as 200 in the world. A bloke ranked at 203 at the time decided to take them on. He took the challenge as a bit of larf... which is why he showed up to the match having played a round of golf, and drunk a few drinks.

He proceeded to beat Serena Williams 6-1.

And that was after he took roughly 50% off his first serve. Remember, this is a guy ranked at below 200 in the world.

He then beat Venus Williams- who if I remember from back then was actually the better player of the two sisters at the time- 6-2.

(I'm not making up one word of this. It is all absolutely true.)

Now, admittedly, neither woman was really trying. It was all a bit of a giggle. But in reality, if the Williams sisters ever tried to take on, say, Novak Djokovic, or Roger Federer, or- saints preserve them- Rafael Nadal, they'd be destroyed. Game, set, and match. Personally, I think this would happen against almost any man in the top 50 in current men's tennis.

So, yes, it's certainly a bit ridiculous to call those two the Williams "brothers"- because to do so requires that they be held up to a male standard of performance, and that's one that they cannot match.

It's very difficult to take the Williams sisters seriously as "exemplars" of women's tennis when, every time some bloke with more mouth than sense decides to criticise their (admittedly annoying) playing styles, they run to the nearest governing body with a complaint. If you're going to be the best player in the world in tennis, and you're going to do it with a game that is as physical and, frankly, as lacking in finesse and artistry as that of the Williams sisters, then don't be surprised if people criticise you for it.

The Williams sisters should have reacted to this bit of silliness with simple class- shrug it off, get on with life, and silence critics by simply being the best at what they do. Instead, Serena decided to make a mountain out of a molehill, and diminished herself and her sister in the process.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Fat Head Kids

Tom Naughton- the guy who made a great documentary called "Fat Head", which among other things deals with the science behind weight gain and obesity- happens to have two daughters who seem to take after their father rather well.

So much so, in fact, that they have their own videos about growing up eating Paleo:


There is almost enough adorkability there to satisfy your daily nutritional needs even without resorting to a Zooey Deschanel music video.

(I'm one of those guys who really doesn't understand the point of Ms. Deschanel... but am very glad that she's around even so. For some reason.)

There also happens to be a serious message involved.

If you're a parent, and you're feeding your kids sugary cereal with low-fat milk for breakfast... stop it. Really. Just stop.

Feed them real food- eggs, bacon, and high-fat milk (or better yet, full cream). Turns out, the stuff that you were told is bad for you all your life, is in fact exactly what your body needs. Your children NEED fat and protein to grow up strong, healthy, and happy. They'll have more energy, they'll concentrate better, they'll feel happier.

I grew up eating sugary cereal and oatmeal. By 11am, I was always hungry and tired. Lunch usually involved some kind of sandwich and some fruit- and by 4pm I was usually very hungry again. Dinner had to be at 8pm on the dot or else we'd all go bananas wondering where the food was. It was a very regimented life in a lot of ways, and when you combine a diet like that with a sedentary lifestyle, well, it's not the least bit surprising that I was always quite fat and pudgy as a kid. I struggled to lose that weight until I went to college, then dropped a hell of a lot of weight thanks to a regimen of hard exercise.

I put most of it back on when I started working, because I was still eating the wrong foods and sitting around all day. I was still exercising- but I wasn't making any real gains of any kind. In most respects, I went a long way backwards, and I would not have had to do so if I had just made a few simple but effective changes to my eating habits and lifestyle.

These days, my idea of breakfast- if I eat it at all- is bacon and eggs cooked in butter or lard, with coffee, full-fat dairy, and a helping of fruit. Unsurprisingly, I feel great all day long when I eat like that. And I don't have to eat every 4 hours to maintain my blood sugar. It's normal for me to skip meals and not worry about it; it's also normal for me to go an entire day without food. These things are no longer hardships- they're normal.

That's what eating right does for you. That's how big a difference it makes. And the earlier you start, the better off you'll be later in life.

Stupid yet satisfying

When it comes to movies, most people who have heard of my favourites- Serenity, The Dark Knight Trilogy, 300, Hot Fuzz, etc.- generally point out that I have dreadful taste in films. This is usually followed by a genteel philosophical discussion a rather heated debate over just how bad the "new" Star Wars trilogy really was.

Personally, I think that they might actually have a point. Especially considering that, well, I actually quite like the entire Michael Bay-directed Transformers series.

Those same people who think I have appalling taste will therefore look at me like I've got two heads when I admit the hugely embarrassing fact that I actually liked the fourth Transformers film.

Which, even I will admit, made not ONE damn bit of sense:

Friday, October 17, 2014

It is still murder

A woman who aborted her baby when she realised that it would be born with Down's Syndrome tries to sound appropriately contrite and begs our understanding:
One in 1,000 babies in the UK — about 750 a year — is born with Down’s syndrome. But with better screening, increasingly it is detected in the womb, and of those couples who receive an ante-natal diagnosis, 92 per cent choose to have a termination — that’s around 1,000 pregnancies a year, or three a day. 
In addition, under the Abortion Act, termination of a baby with Down’s syndrome is a legal right up to the point of delivery
Tim and I hugged, sobbed and talked till we were exhausted. How could we bring a child into the world knowing he would suffer and, given his host of serious health problems, would soon die? 
A termination was the kindest option for our son but also the most agonising for us. 
When the consultant broke the news that I would be given medication to trigger labour and deliver my baby naturally, initially it felt like more than I could cope with. 
But the more I thought about it, I realised that I wanted to give birth to Oscar — Tim had suggested the name when we found out we were having a boy. It was a name we’d liked when I was expecting Delilah. 
Although some people may find it strange, I also wanted to hold him, so I would know what he had looked like and feel I had been close to him. 
Signing the consent form almost destroyed me and after I’d taken the medication we went home to wait for labour to begin. 
I lay on the sofa and strapped a monitor to my tummy so that I could hear Oscar’s heartbeat and I willed him to move. 
Incredibly, the night before I delivered him, I felt those first fluttery kicks inside me and dissolved into tears, relieved that I could feel my son, but distraught that I was about to lose him. 
When 48 hours had passed and I hadn’t gone into labour, I was called back to the hospital. We drove there early on July 14. Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here played on the car radio and I remember thinking how sad and fitting the words were. 
After being given more medication, I went into labour at 9am and delivered Oscar at 1.20pm. Tim and I were so in love with him and yet so impossibly sad. 
We took photos as you would with any newborn. One friend told me recently that she couldn’t understand anyone wanting pictures of their dead baby. 
But that’s because she’d never been in my situation, knowing that if I didn’t take photos then, I’d never have any of my son. 
After an hour with Oscar we felt the time was right to let the midwives — who were also visibly upset — take him away. He was wrapped in a little blanket I’d made for him with a sailboat stitched onto it. 
When we held a private funeral for him a few days later, he would be buried in that blanket, immersed in our love for ever. 
When we got into the lift to leave the hospital that afternoon, by chance we ended up sharing it with a couple who had their gorgeous newborn in his car seat ready to make the journey home. Yet our own hands and hearts were empty.
I urge you to be as fair-minded as you can be and read the whole article before you leap to judgement. Unusually for someone attempting to defend abortion, this woman writes very well about an extremely personal issue. And, just as unusually, for the most part she does not try to pretend that what she aborted was anything other than a human being. Moreover, she makes a critical point: we can all talk about whether or not we, personally, support abortion- but until we're forced to confront the possibility ourselves, we cannot know how we will react.

That, however, is as far as my sympathy goes. What she did is still murder, no matter how you try to justify it.

You may well come to different conclusions than I did, because you might just believe that a woman has every right to do with her body whatever the law says she can do.

If, however, you understand and respect human life for what it is, the only rational conclusion that you can come to is that this woman murdered her unborn child.

She may well have done it with the best of intentions. She may well be heartsick and wracked with guilt over what she did. But she killed her unborn child, and she did so for deeply selfish reasons.

Those who defend the sickening, awful reality of abortion do so on the basis of really rather flimsy moral and utilitarian arguments. They fail to acknowledge the one simple, inescapable fact about human foetuses: they are human. They are not iguanas or cattle or dogs. They are not some random collection of cells and DNA. They are people. And by killing off foetuses, they are killing off unborn humans.

Mrs. Treussard does not try to dodge this fact, to her considerable credit. But this does not alter the reality that she aborted her baby, and for specifically selfish reasons. As she writes in the article, she did so because she was afraid that the amount of time and attention required to look after her special-needs son would take away from the time and attention paid to her daughter.

At all points in the decision-making process, she and her husband looked at what would be "best" for their unborn child. Unfortunately for the child himself, he never had a say. And he never will- he's dead, through no fault of his own. He never even knew what it meant to be alive as a functional, living human being.

As for the question of whether or not one can successfully raise a child with Down's Syndrome- well, we could try asking one Sarah Palin and her husband about it. She didn't consider aborting her child when it turned out that he had Down's Syndrome, even though, by Mrs. Treussard's "logic", it would have been "kinder" to Trig Palin to do so.

This article unintentionally serves as a great way to underline the hypocrisy of abortionists who claim that abortion is a "humane" option for children with learning disabilities. After all, if we're going to argue that aborting children with severe learning and cognitive impairments is kinder for the children, what about aborting children with genetic markers for homosexuality? For if, indeed, research ends up showing that homosexuality is at least as much a function of genetics and heredity as it is of environment and upbringing, and given that homosexuals in almost every culture are regarded as anywhere from abnormal to blasphemous, logically it would be "kinder" and "more humane" to abort homosexuals in the womb too, would it not?

I would love to see the cognitive dissonance in liberal brains everywhere when forced to confront the possibility of that choice. It would be worse for them than trying to figure out whether driving a Toyota Prius through a pristine desert is good or evil.

Parents like Mrs. Treussard deserve sympathy and support when it turns out that their children will have severe cognitive impairments and genetic disorders, like Down's Syndrome or spina bifida (open spine). This is not only the Christian and charitable thing to do, it is the human thing to do. But no self-professed lover of life and all of its blessings can support a decision to abort such a child.

I could go on in this vein, but I'll leave the last word to a master wordsmith- Mr. John C. Wright himself:
Since sex is ordered toward reproduction, anything that hinders it is an imperfection. Prudence, if nothing else, would warn potential mother and potential fathers not to do the act which makes you a mother or a father until you have a household and loving union ready to rear children. 
If you are artificially sterile, or using contraception, you are holding back, you are not passionate about the sex, you are trying to use the sex rather than surrender to the sex. 
You are trying to have sex without really having sex, and this alters your soul and body in countless subtle ways, and the woman knows it, and senses the mistrust, the misgivings, indeed, the fear — the nagging thought that the contraception might fail hangs across the passion and prevents total surrender to passion. And if she is using the pill, her hormones, the ones directly related to fertility, sex, sexual passion, and love have been interfered with. But even if she is not using the pill, she is using you and you are using her, trying to get the union of sex without the physical sex act and the physical results. 
The only way to make the contraception infallible is to agree to hinder the sex act by killing the child once he is conceived but before he is born, an act so horrific and unthinkable — even the Spartans did not make the baby’s own mother toss the helpless baby into the pit of the Apothetae — that no more need be said of it. If you doubt me, I’d like you to imagine holding your beloved in your arms, and whispering tenderly in her ear as the erotic passion mounts, “I love you and adore you and after I make mad, passionate love to you, we will kill Junior. We will kill him together! The doctor will pierce his delicate skull with scissors, and vacuum up his wee little brains!” — I am guessing that will kill the mood.

Maths is brutal

Especially if you're some clueless feminist dingbat and you've just decided to question Terrence Popp's ability to crunch numbers.

(WARNING: Do not watch this video at work. Nothing about it is NSFW- it's just that you'll be laughing so hard that you'll look like you're having a seizure. And DON'T watch this video while drinking coffee, tea, alcohol, or especially milk- you'll see why toward the end- because if you do, your computer screen will be wrecked and your beverage will end up on the table or in your pants. I am not making this up. Watch at your own risk.)



God help us, we're all going to hell...

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Steven Sea-gullible

In the world of MMA, there are truly legendary coaches who have really done great things for the athletes that they mentor. Gene LeBell, who is one of Ronda Rousey's coaches, comes to mind. Then there's Ray Longo, who coaches current UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman and is himself a genuine badass. There is El Guapo himself, the great Bas Rutten, whose personality, charisma, and coaching style make learning martial arts great fun.

And let us never forget the legendary Bruce Lee, who was not only an incredible martial artist, but a great coach and teacher as well.

On the other end of the scale... you have guys like Steven Seagal:


Oddly enough, what you see in that video is not the lowest point to which the once-great Seagal has sunk. Oh no. It gets worse.
Seagal's martial arts and film career went downhill pretty fast, but even more disappointing than that was his personal descent into the foul and dank valleys of Douchebag County. Early Seagal characters were all about the everyman, they were inner-city cops by and large; unsophisticated and unconcerned with anything but justice, preferably street justice, if you have it. By contrast, Seagal himself became more and more of an unapproachable bottle of dick with every year that passed. He was an early adopter of such douchebag traits as: 
Fascination with a cheap, cursory sort of Asian spirituality, the sensitive pony-tail, pseudo-environmentalism and of course, the frat boy guitar. 
Seagal soon decided to incorporate his newfound love of everything asshole into his movies, and the blue collar cop characters that made him famous gradually morphed into EPA agents protecting rivers and fighting big business. After the repeated failure of his box office releases, Seagal decided to focus on music and cut a blues album called The Crystal Cave, a title which could not spell out 'hippie dickhead' any clearer if you wrote it out on a Hacky Sack and hung it from a puka shell necklace.
If you ever wanted a handy lesson in how NOT to become a complete douchebag, all you have to do is ask yourself, "what would Seagal do?". And then, do the exact opposite. 

Monday, October 13, 2014

Stupidity is contagious

And you're surprised that I'm wearing a HazMat suit in public?
But we knew that already. Guess what else is highly contagious?
Two patients who had symptoms similar to those Ebola and were rushed to a New York hospital today do not have the virus, it was confirmed this afternoon. 
The pair were taken to New York City's Bellevue Hospital after falling ill, but the hospital has confirmed that they do not have the disease. 
Bellevue Hospital spokesman Ian Michaels told MailOnline: 'There are no patients at Bellevue with Ebola. 
'Two patients there this morning were evaluated and it was quickly determined they did not have the virus.


'Because of the heightened alert, hospitals will be using enhanced scrutiny and an abundance of caution when reviewing questionable cases, and are meticulously following all public health and CDC protocols.'


He do not specify what the diagnosis of the pair was or what condition they were in. 
According to the New York Daily News, the pair are believed to have recently return from a trip to Africa where the latest outbreak has killed more than 4,000 people. 

It reported EMS crews who dealt with the patients have also been isolated as a precaution. 

Bellevue Hospital has been established as NYC's Ebola intake center. 
It is kitted out with isolation units prepared to treat up to four patients and has the capacity to facilitate nine other patients if necessary. 
If the pair had tested positive for the virus, it would be the first case of the disease in New York.


Last week a Brooklyn teenager was rushed to the hospital after showing symptoms consistent with Ebola. 
The 14-year-old boy had a fever and was feeling fluish according to officials. 
He was brought to Brookdale Hospital where he remains in isolation, although doctors say he does not have the virus.


Yesterday a Dallas passenger was removed from an American Airlines flight at Nashville airport after vomiting on board. 
Passengers reported the person was being sick and possibly having a seizure as Flight 1676 arrived in Nashville at 11:29 p.m. Sunday. 
There were 140 passengers and five crew members on board - they were held on the runway until the sick passenger could be removed.


The passenger was taken to Vanderbilt University Medical Center to be assessed, reports WSMV.


Officials said they are not concerned about this person having Ebola.
Here's another point of interest: Ebola wouldn't be spreading nearly as fast as it is if it weren't for active stupidity on the part of those put in charge of tackling the disease.

Think about it. Disease control is not a pleasant or enjoyable thing to have to do. But, conceptually, it isn't difficult. As John Ringo pointed out in The Last Centurion- which I will readily admit is a work of fiction, albeit one that actually has quite a lot of real science and maths going on in it- the basic method of fighting the spread of a highly infectious, or contagious, disease is to play Othello with it.

The idea essentially comes down to surrounding and containing the disease.

Essentially, the moment you discover an actual vector for the disease, you very swiftly quarantine it. Then you quarantine anyone who was in contact with that vector. And you quarantine anyone who was in contact with those people. And, if you really want to be thorough, you quarantine anyone who came in contact with those people.

Bearing in mind, though, that the average person comes into contact with anywhere from 10 to 18 people per day (most of those people are the same every day, admittedly), you're looking at an exponential curve. Curmudgeonly misanthropes like me who strongly dislike being touched can get by with not touching anyone the entire day- but if you're in the gym, or taking public transport, or going down to the shops, or whatever else, you ARE going to come into indirect contact with people whether you like it or not.

For those of a non-mathematical bent, this simply means that you're facing something similar to the green curve down below:

Just imagine f(x) = 10^x...
This should illustrate exactly why getting a move on as early as possible is so important. Exponential spread of a disease means that within a few weeks of a truly virulent disease with a high mortality rate results in thousands dead within a few weeks.

Now at this point let me be very clear that I am dramatically oversimplifying things.

Ebola isn't easy to catch. You have to be in direct contact with fluids- blood, sweat, urine, faeces, vomit, sperm, etc.- from someone with the actual disease. The disease has a long incubation period of about 3 weeks. And in the modern West, its mortality rate isn't 90%, it's more like 40%- so still pretty terrible, just not as terrible as it is in the benighted Third World.

But you're still looking at a very nasty scenario where hundreds can be quickly infected and dozens can die within the space of a month.

The only way to stop a disease like this dead in its tracks is to shut down its ability to infect people. You have to get on top of it right away, you have to stay on top of it for an extended period, and you have to be willing to suffer the (severe) economic consequences of doing so. To hell with the economy- to hell with everything- until the plague runs its course.

Of course, doing any of this would actually require, um, doing something to shut down immigration and travel from all the countries where the little brown brothers and sisters live. And that, as far as I can tell, is the only plausible explanation as to why the Obarmy administration has done a sum total of almost nothing to contain this disease.

I don't know if it's wishful thinking, incompetence, galactic levels of stupidity, or all three at once.

I do know that if a true world-killer plague ever got loose- like, say, bird flu or swine flu jumping to humans with mutated viral binding sites- then a response like the current one would leave the country in ruins.

Think upon that for a moment. Imagine a plague with a mortality rate of 40-60%, transmissible via airborne pathogens- i.e. you just need to be standing near someone to be at risk, never mind touching his or her body- and capable of crossing borders with virtual impunity because the average incubation period is more than two weeks.

We're not facing that, not yet. But if we were, imagine if the people in charge of running this country responded to that threat in the same way that they have been responding to this one.

It's enough to give grown men screaming nightmares.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Infantilism

Bill Whittle takes on a liberal meme. I'll just shut up now and let you watch:


Watching this, I am strongly reminded of a great quote from one Mike Baxter of perhaps the only pro-conservative TV show that one can watch these days- "Last Man Standing".

There is an absolutely brilliant scene in the episode, "Animal Wrongs", in which Tim Allen's character, Mike Baxter, confronts his second daughter's boyfriend, a hippy Vegan animal rights activist named Terrence who starts off obnoxious and simply gets worse from there.

While defending hunting and hunters, Mike Baxter points out an absolute truth:
Listen, Terrence- no one loves animals more than hunters. We like to manage a good animal population so that, for future generations... there's stuff to kill.
That is the real difference between progressives and conservatives. We have absolutely no problem with hunting and guns. We like shooting stuff in the face- but we also recognise that we have an obligation to Nature to preserve and protect that which we hunt. This is why, under private property rights and private animal and woodland conservation, America's private forests and private hunting grounds are doing far better than any of America's national parks.

Why is this? Simple: because private hunters and private rangers have strong incentives- namely, the profit motive- to maintain their wildlife and nature reserves as well as they possibly can. And that's why America's deer and buffalo populations are doing just fine; why bald eagles are no longer endangered; and why forest fires in private parks are so much more rare than they are in public ones.

Ultimately, the profit motive of private enterprise is the simplest and most economical way to reduce pollution and increase the standard of living for all men. This is something that statists refuse to confront- they refuse to acknowledge the fact that the world's most interventionist, statist economies are polluted, choked, disgusting nightmares, while the supposed evils of capitalism and free enterprise have turned the once-dirty and grungy industrialised western nations into clean and prosperous nations where the air is breathable and the water is drinkable.

Let me put it this way: I visited China almost exactly 13 years ago today. I fell sick while I was in Beijing with a nasty sore throat and cold within about two days- thanks to the city's horribly smoggy, congested, nasty air. The moment I was back in Singapore, I was fine. And this exact same pattern repeats itself every time I go from New York or London to Calcutta or New Delhi.

Capitalism works to increase not only living standards but quality of life. Nations and economies that seek to block the blessings of capitalism through command-and-control economics will inevitably find that they end up with the worst of all worlds- an economy that doesn't work, inferior products produced by demotivated people, and horrible living conditions brought about by using lowest-common-denominator production processes and extreme cost-cutting in the name of meeting production quotas.

Yet, when given a choice between an economic system that produces positive outcomes and real prosperity, and one that produces endless human and natural misery, guess which one most progressives want?

Argy-bashing

Apparently the Argentinians, not satisfied with pushing glorified vinegar on us in the form of their Malbec wines*, are extremely put out at the "fact" that the hosts of THE GREATEST TV SHOW ON EARTH decided to drive through their country in cars that supposedly have license plates that reference the Falklands War.

Which, let's be clear, the Argies LOST. Quite badly.

Unfortunately, this hasn't stopped them from getting quite cross with three middle-aged English blokes driving across their (rapidly crumbling) nation with three even more rapidly crumbling old biffabouts:
THE Top Gear team has been forced to flee Argentina after angry people threw stones at them in the wake of the Falklands War number plate row.

The BBC cast and crew abandoned their cars at the roadside after a crowd became enraged at a Porsche with the registration number H982 FKL.

Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May were escorted to the airport and left for Chile three days earlier than scheduled after protests led by Falklands veterans began outside their hotel.

A local paper covered the attacks, reporting that there were "people injured and police cars damaged".

The outrage first started when local Argentinian officials claimed that the Porsche's license plate was a deliberate reference to the 1982 war between Argentina and the UK over the Falkland Islands.

The BBC has confirmed that the Top Gear crew has left Argentina but declined to comment on the latest reports.

Andy Wilman, Top Gear's executive producer, has insisted that the issue was merely an unfortunate coincidence, and that the notoriously controversial Clarkson was not intending to cause political problems.

"Top Gear production purchased three cars for a forthcoming programme," he told the Guardian. "To suggest that this car was either chosen for its number plate, or that an alternative number plate was substituted for the original is completely untrue."
Now, obviously, when it comes to Top Gear, I'm a bit biased. (Okay, I'm rather more than biased. I've just spent the last 10 days re-running Seasons 2-4 on Netflix and plan on watching quite a bit more of the same in the near future. Good times, gooooood times...)

But I think that, based on what we know of the blokes from the programme, one would be fully justified in calling the Argies a bunch of complete nancies.

(Note for my American readers: this last is a word in English, a language that is not spoken in America, meant- in its most polite form- to categorise a man as overly effete. You might want to add this to your people's otherwise limited range of words used for insults.)

The lads from Top Gear are complete clowns, of this there can be no question. They're some of the blokiest blokes you can imagine. Jeremy Clarkson's idea of fun is to drive around a corner at 150mph while shouting "POWEEEEERRRRRRRR!!!!" as loudly as he can. Richard Hammond's idea of fun is to destroy caravans using turbojet-powered cars. James May's idea of fun is to drive laconically through the lovely British autumn while sipping a pint of real ale. They're ridiculous, silly, and hilarious- and God love 'em for it.

But they are not the kinds of douchebags who would insult an entire nation's war dead.

The Argies appear to be getting their knickers in a twist over a war that they fought, and lost, more than thirty years ago, based on the most obtuse possible reference to the same.

Now, let me play devil's advocate for a moment and say that if the Top Gear production team were in any way mocking the Argentinian war dead, then they deserve whatever they get. It would be like me walking into the Arlington National Cemetery and taking a dump all over the graves of soldiers who died in Afghanistan or Iraq. I would be lynched for it. With complete justification.

The Argies may have no understanding whatsoever of the notion of national sovereignty, and they may not care in the slightest that the Falkland Islanders are overwhelmingly in favour of remaining under the sovereignty of the Queen. (I note with considerable sadness and regret that the United States of America has refused to adopt this enlightened and modern attitude for the better part of 250 years.) However, that is no excuse for mocking the dead of a war that Argentina fought with all earnestness and to the best of her (quite limited) ability.

Of course, the Top Gear crew had exactly nothing of the sort in mind when they went down there to film one of their epic cheap car challenges:
James May has defended himself and the rest of the Top Gear team over a controversial numberplate which allegedly poked fun at the Falklands War.

The Top Gear presenter said the show would never 'mock people about their war casualties' and insisted the numberplate, which sparked protests in Argentina, was entirely coincidental. 
The show's crew had to leave the country during filming after trouble erupted when it emerged they were using a Porsche with the registration number H982 FKL.

May told Absolute Radio's Christian O'Connell they bought the car - complete with the number plate - in the UK because it was the best available vehicle of its type and he said he had not even noticed the plate until it was mentioned online. 
He said: 'How could we have done it deliberately? All we've done is buy some secondhand cars. 
'It's actually meaningless if you look at it. You have to want to see the meaning.' 
The team from the BBC2 show were in South America filming a special on a remote highway passing through Chile and Argentina. 
May said: 'We do muck about but we weren't going there to mock people about their war casualties.'

He said they decided to change the plate once they had finished filming on the country's roads, but it had not been possible to do it earlier. 
He said: 'Go outside and change the number plate on your car and then see what happens the next time you meet a policeman. You just can't do that.'
You don't just have to want to see the meaning. You have to stretch your imagination harder than Plastic Man could to do so. Which, of course, is precisely what Britain's usual parade of useful idiots is doing right now:
Another twist in the Jeremy Clarkson argie-bargie controversy. 
The BBC claims that the original registration plate H982 FKL displayed on Clarkson’s Porsche while he was filming Top Gear in Argentina was coincidental, and not a reference to the Falkland Islands war as aggrieved locals believed. 
But there are now claims that BEll END, the registration plate found inside the car — which was smashed up by an angry mob — was not a derogatory slang word as originally thought, but a reference to End of Belgrano.
Good Lord Almighty. I've never been so drunk in my entire life that I was able to reinterpret something as hilariously insulting as "Bell End"- basically, calling someone a cock- in terms of the sinking of an entire battleship. I mean, just how much local hooch does one have to consume before coming to a conclusion that utterly naff?! What we're hearing now is more absurd than anything that any French deconstructionist ever came up with- and these are people who could somehow find ways to link the death of King Lear's daughter Cordelia to the rape and murder of innocent women by the Germans in WWII. That is the degree of ridiculousness we're dealing with here.

Let's put it bluntly to our Argentinian friends: grow a sense of humour, stop being such colossal dingleberries, throw that crazy Peronist woman that you people elected out of office, start making your economy competitive again, and for God's sake, stop pretending that the Falklanders want to be part of your crummy country. And then maybe you'll be able to join the rest of us in the 21st Century.

*I will admit that I am actually quite partial to a good Malbec. But is has to be a VERY good Malbec. Funny thing is, though, that the best Malbec I've tried in quite some time comes from... wait for it... Israel. Seriously. 

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Globocop

The Mantle. You still hold to that [fairy tale] after all that has happened? After this thing has consumed a million worlds?
Can't you see? Belief in the Mantle sealed our doom! Weakened our [protectorates], bred dependence and sloth. Our [so-called Guardianship] has stripped those we would keep safe of any capacity for self-defense! 
Were we such noble [Guardians] when we drew our line and abandoned billions to the parasite?
-- The Librarian, excerpted from one of the last conversations between the IsoDidact and the Lifeshaper; Terminal 2, HALO 3
Downfall of the Forerunners

In the HALO saga, the Forerunners were the most powerful empire in the galaxy. They believed that they held the Mantle of Responsibility- a sacred calling to defend and protect all life. Their interpretation of this responsibility, however, resulted in Forerunners using their military capacity to adjudicate in the affairs of all sentient races, resulting in galaxy-wide dependency upon Forerunner military technology and superiority to uphold the peace.

When the Forerunners encountered the one enemy they could not defeat- a virulent, pestilential hive-mind organism known as the Flood- the entire galaxy suffered the consequences, and trillions of beings were sacrificed to the tender mutagenic properties of the Flood. In the end, the Forerunners ended up activating a sterilisation measure so extreme, it wiped the entire galaxy clean of life.

The Flood won out in the end because the Forerunners, for all of their technological supremacy, their awesome power, and their great wisdom, could not foresee the logical consequences of their policy of galaxy-wide policing. And everyone who depended upon them suffered in the end.

There are lessons to be learned here- if only we were willing to pay attention.

The Globocop Foreign Policy


What, if anything, does the HALO universe have to do with American foreign policy?

Well, to answer that question, we first have to ask another one: what is an appropriate foreign policy posture supposed to look like for a global hyperpower?

See, the thing is, if you were to take a doctrinaire old-school conservative and stand him next to a paleolibertarian like me, you would at first be hard-pressed to find any real differences in matters of politics.

Both would argue forcefully for minimal government and maximal freedom. Both would wax lyrical about the virtues of a free people living under laws of their own choosing. Both would vociferously defend the inalienable rights of Man- including and especially the rights to self-defence, worship, freedom of speech and thought, and freedom of association. Both would strongly advocate a republican (note the small "r"), Federalist political system with all three branches of government set at odds against each other as much as possible. Both would believe with every fibre of their beings that religious institutions are to be left the hell alone to do as they please, as long as they seek only to convert through arguments and ideas, and not force and violence.

In fact, most conservatives and virtually all principled libertarians would have no problems at all with a country that looks and sounds like this:




Why, then, do conservatives and libertarians so bitterly oppose each other in matters of politics? And most especially so in the realm of foreign policy?

Libertarians are very often accused by conservatives- in my opinion with very good reason- of not having any sort of foreign policy beyond "don't get involved". And conservatives argue, again with great justification, in my opinion, that a lax, lackadaisical approach to foreign enemies and tyrants is not only stupid, but actively dangerous. They argue that America has not only the obligation but the moral duty to enforce a Pax Americana by virtue of its overwhelming military and economic power, just as ancient Rome and imperial Britain once did, and for the same reasons.

It is interesting, then, to see the results of a nominally libertarian-style foreign policy under Barack Obama.

Yes, I did just write that President Jackass has been taking a kind-of-sort-of libertarian approach to foreign policy. If you'll look out the window there, you may observe that pigs are now taking flight, cats and dogs are shaking paws, and if you turn on the TV news, there should be a report straight from Hell regarding extremely frigid weather conditions down there...

Think about it, though. The basis of the Obama foreign policy is... to do basically nothing in the face of massive global threats. He doesn't want to get involved, he doesn't want to deal with global security issues, and he doesn't seem to have the first clue about the massive threat posed by the resurgence of militant political Islam. (Which is militant by definition.) When it comes to America's allies, even its best friends such as the United Kingdom and Israel, his approach seems to be one of cold contempt mixed in with aloofness. He doesn't want to get his hands dirty with various global issues; he doesn't want to confront the Russian bear head-on; he isn't interested in putting boots on the ground to fight a very real threat in the form of the Islamic State now consolidating its power in the Middle East. He is more concerned with his image than he is with actually doing any good in the world.

To most conservatives, especially the so-called "neoconservatives"- who are really just socialists and Trotskyites given a fresh coat of paint- this is about as close as one would ever want to be to a "libertarian" type of foreign policy. After all, this is what libertarians like me want, isn't it?

The problem is that this gives Obama waaaaaaaay too much credit.

Friend or Foe?


Conservatives argue that America can and should use its power for good in the world; and that this country can, and should, intervene where necessary in order to confront the forces of evil which even now are on the march across the world.

Yet honest conservatives must also deal with the other side of that equation. So let's turn it around and see what happens when America insists on a strongly interventionist foreign policy- one that produces dependency on aggressive American global power.

If, indeed, America can and should go abroad in search of monsters to destroy, what of the consequences of doing so? How are we to know who is evil, and who is not? How are Americans to pick and choose between various allies?

Take a look at what Patrick Buchanan had to say recently about the folly of trying to pick the right allies in the fight against Islamist aggression:
Joe Biden has been forced to apologize to Turkey and the United Arab Emirates for saying at Harvard that both had been providing huge infusions of money and weapons to the ISIS terrorists who have beheaded Americans. 
But what was Joe guilty of, other than blurting out the truth? 
The terrorists of ISIS are today closing in on the Syrian-Kurdish city of Kobani on the Turkish border, having overrun scores of villages. A hundred thousand Syrian Kurds have fled into Turkey. 
Yet though ISIS warriors are visible right across the border, and Turkey has the second largest army in NATO, with 3,500 tanks and 1,000 aircraft, the Turks are sitting on their hands, awaiting what may be a massacre. 
Why? David Stockman quotes Turkish President Erdogan this weekend: “For us, ISIL and the (Kurdish) PKK are the same.” 
Erdogan is saying a plague on both their houses. To Istanbul, the PKK are terrorists, as are the ISIS fighters the PKK is trying to keep from overrunning Kobani. 
The United States, too, designates both the Islamic State and the PKK as terrorist organizations.

Which terrorist organization do we want to win this battle?

Who do we want to win the war between ISIS and the al-Qaida-linked al-Nusra front on one side, and Assad’s regime, which Obama and John Kerry wanted to bomb in August of 2013? 
Whose side are we on in Lebanon?

This weekend, al-Qaida’s Syrian wing, Jabhat al-Nusra, lost 16 jihadists in an incursion into the Bekaa Valley. Who defended Lebanon and fought the terrorist intruders? 
Hezbollah, which we have declared a terrorist organization. 
Whose side are we on in the Hezbollah vs. al-Qaida war? 
In Yemen last week, al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, whom the United States has been attacking for years, sent a suicide bomber in an explosives-laden car into a hospital used by Houthi rebels, who have taken over the capital of Sanaa. 
Are the Houthis America’s allies?

Probably not, as they have plastered Sanaa with their slogans, “Death to America, death to Israel, a curse on the Jews, and victory to Islam.”
This is not the first time that America has butted in where it did not need to, either. For the past century the USA has played the role of global policeman, spending- or wasting, depending on your point of view- tens of thousands of lives and trillions of dollars to maintain the Pax Americana across the world.

Just like the Forerunners, America has maintained a massive empire all over the world, and just like the Forerunners, the interventions made necessary by the existence of that empire have bred sloth and dependency in its protectorates.

Some of those interventions where thoroughly justified. On December 7, 1941, America was unambiguously provoked with an open attack on Pearl Harbour by Imperial Japan, and promptly declared unconditional war on the same. Germany followed up, rather stupidly, by declaring war on America- and thus turned itself into a target. America had every right and every reason to go to war then.

But what about the Great War, in which America intervened pretty much as the war ground itself into a stalemate in 1917? What reason was there to go to war? As it turns out, not much of one, other than the sinking of the Lusitania- and the Germans maintained all along that the ship was carrying weapons and munitions in clear violation of America's stated policy of neutrality toward the war in Europe, thus entirely justifying its sinking as a military target. As it happens, the Krauts may well have been right.

That war was "won" simply because America intervened; without American involvement, the Great War would probably have ground on in bloody and terrible stalemate until the exhausted Powers finally agreed to come to the negotiating table. (I should really say that it was "concluded", because WWI was really just the awful first round of the much greater and even more terrible global conflagration of WWII, which finished what was started then.)

And what about the Vietnam War? It has been argued, quite convincingly in fact, that American involvement in Vietnam broke the back of Communist domination in Asia. No less than the founding father of Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew himself, famously wrote in his memoirs that he believed that American intervention in Southeast Asia stopped the advance of Communism dead in its tracks.

And one could indeed argue this, until one turns blue in the face. Which many historians have done.

Except... it didn't. When America finally completely abandoned Vietnam in 1975, Laos and Cambodia were already well on the way to becoming hardline socialist regimes, Myanmar had been a socialist republic for well over a decade, India was going to hell in a hand-basket, China was reeling from the after-effects of the Cultural Revolution, and the Philippines was under the grip of a brutal dictatorship.

American involvement and attempts at power projection had resulted in instability, weakness, collapse, and ignominious defeat.

The Shield World Strategy

It was not until America finally turned inward first, under Reagan, and began strengthening itself, that it was able to maintain peace without having to go to war halfway across the world. And it was at that point that the Flood of that day and age- namely, Communism- was forced to retreat in the face of American strength.

That strength built a military wall around America's shores. It broke the back of the Soviet military machine. It destroyed the ability of the Soviet economy to keep up. And it revealed Communism for the gigantic sham that it is. Most importantly, though, America's allies rediscovered their resolve, and realised that they too needed to buck up and join the fight in order to roll back the menace of Communism.

It is worth remembering these things given that today, we see the results of an activist foreign policy yet again. Afghanistan is a corrupt kleptocracy. Iraq is collapsing. Kurdistan, home to a people who are even more pro-American than the Israelis, is collapsing. Turkey and Iran are both watching very nervously from the sidelines. The entire Islamic world is trying to figure out who is worse- the hated Americans, or the even more hated hardliners. It's not as easy a choice as one might think.

And all of this was brought about because America refused to go to war solely for defensive purposes, and instead decided to embark on a damned fool mission of bringing the blessings of "democracy" to heathen shores, and of propping up those supposedly democratic regimes through wanton expenditure of American strength. Personally, I cannot think of a more idiotic thing to do, given that democracy is quite literally mob rule, and requires tremendously resilient institutions and cultural legacies simply to work in the first place.

What we are seeing today is not the end result of a non-interventionist foreign policy. It is the end result of decades of misguided intervention in the affairs of utter barbarians. The fact is that Obama's inept handling of the situation is due to the fact that he is inept; he doesn't have a foreign policy because he's just an empty suit. But he's dealing with the consequences of interventions that were planned and executed long before he got into office, that he carried on while he was in office, and that he lacked the nerve to follow through and close out properly by denying American forces the tools and the means to achieve final and ultimate victory.

And because of those endless interventions and foolish dreams of prematurely ending those wars, the very people who most needed to learn how to defend themselves, have not developed the capacity, the ability, or the will to do so.

The end result is that a totalitarian ideology, dedicated to the extermination of all things that oppose it, is now on the march. Like the Flood, it is infecting the minds of those stupid and gullible enough to believe the promises of a new and better world order.

Inheritors of the Mantle

America is and has always been a great nation, one with a manifest sense of destiny. But it has lost its way. Like all great empires before it, America has become convinced that it alone has the ability to arbitrate in world affairs to the mutual satisfaction of all- despite mountains of evidence, and mountains of bodies, telling us otherwise.

It is high time that America abandoned this role of protector and saviour. It is time to stop pretending to be the World's Policeman, to hand back the traffic whistle, and to get back to maintaining "peace through strength"- unquestionable resolve, undeniable power, and impenetrable defences.

The unstoppable force of Islam- the Flood of our time- will expand and grow and conquer until such time as it encounters the immovable object that it cannot subsume. That immovable object must be American strength- there is no other nation that can do the job, for all of the rest have been weakened without and eaten away from within. But America cannot do this if it is stretched thin militarily and economically, supporting an empire that is crumbling before our very eyes.

The Forerunners misinterpreted their mandate of the Mantle- indeed, they rose up against their creators and destroyed them when it became clear that Forerunners were not in fact the intended heirs of the Mantle, and they maintained a policy of armed aggression toward any species that even looked like it might attempt to usurp Forerunner supremacy.

There are lessons here to be learned for the proper uses of the American military: defence of the homeland, wrathful destruction of her enemies, and nothing else. Sending out American soldiers to die in defence of a half-baked concept of a falling empire is not only stupid and vainglorious, it is unsustainable.

We ignore the lessons of the Forerunners and their utter defeat at the hands of the Flood at our own peril. An aggressive, expansionist empire is no bulwark against the barbarians- it is an invitation to them to walk in through the front door.