Wednesday, May 24, 2017

May 24, 2017 -- A Quick Run Around the Web

"Rotting walls and toxic bottles on the floor: Haunting images offer a glimpse into decaying remains of abandoned 1960s chemical research facility once sued for dumping hazardous substances"--Daily Mail.

  • "Escape and Evasion | The Spider Hole Shelter"--The Loadout Room. For an unexplained reason, the author had to live in a "spider-hole" for 30-days. He constructed the hole over a 2-day period near an abandoned housing complex project, which provided both concealment (since no one lived there) and materials from the partially built houses. The author goes on to write: 
       I found a few wooden doors discarded there which made for perfect roofing. I used the door knob holes for ventilation by covering it with some window screening I found.
           I cut out large pieces of earth and grass to cover the top if it and random pieces of trash to blend it in to the space it was in.
             I covered the wall with garbage bags, making wooden stakes to keep it in place covering the walls. I only left one part of the walls inside with the earth exposed to place candles. I learned quickly to never eat inside it, it attracts bugs. I had to spray the entrance and ventilation holes with bug spray every now and then to keep them out (didn’t really have any problems with them) and I placed a mosquito net over my head at night just in case. Sleep was never peaceful, I was always waking up just to look around and listen for movement or the perimeter alarms I set up ( more on this later ).
      • "The EDC Tool Roll: Adjustable Wrench Comparison – Knipex Pliers Wrench, Channellock 804, Lobster Shorty"--Jerking the Trigger. As is typical, quality and adaptability comes at a cost. 
      • "The Problem with Gun World"--Empty Cases. The author muses about how firearm enthusiasts, gun companies, and gun magazines/writers could be happier and, in the latter instances, better serve their customers. As to the firearm enthusiast, the author writes that rather than trying to play catch up to his neighbor or acquaintance with a large collection or the latest or greatest, he sell off the firearms he doesn't shoot, and use the proceeds to take a firearms class and stock up on ammunition. As for the gun companies, the author notes that the companies that seem to stay in the business the longest and ride out the ups and downs are those family owned business that listen to their customers and provide quality products that meet their customer's needs. To the gun magazines and writers, his recommendation is to get away from trying to sell the gun enthusiast the greatest and latest, and instead focus on stories of how the gun writers used their firearms for different tasks. He writes: "The solution is simple; educate and entertain your readers and the subscriptions will come. Good content comes from people who use guns, and who convey the fun they have while doing so."
              I would note, however, that the gun manufacturers and sellers have learned that their greatest business is not selling to new shooters, or servicing the "man with one gun," but those shooters who "churn" their firearms: always seeking some new firearm, cartridge, or accoutrement that will give them an edge in shooting or hunting.

      Manchester Bombing:
        The holy month of Ramadan starts this weekend. “I was really shocked when I saw the news, I still don’t believe it,” he [the father] said in Tripoli.
          "My son was as religious as any child who opens his eyes in a religious family," said Ramadan Abedi, who arrived in the U.K. from his native Libya in the 1990s.
            A people that are accustomed to being culled every so often are already a dead people...a people only a fool would want to belong to.  And being powerless, if they are not afraid, they are either suicidal or stupid.   Because if you cannot fight, cannot accuse the wolf (lest you be seen as an anti-wolf social pariah), and are required to accept that at any point in your day you might be targeted by the jihadist for execution as "normal", you should be afraid.

            The Coming Civil War:
            • "Regime Change by Any Other Name?"--Victor Davis Hanson at National Review. Reflecting on the attacks by the media--the outright lies--and the obstruction of the bureaucracy, Hanson writes: "We are now watching insidious regime change, aimed at removing the president of the United States not because of what he has done so far, but because of his personality and what he might do to the Obama agenda — and because for a variety of cultural reasons, our elite simply despises his very being."
            • But will unintended consequences follow? "We Are Watching A Slow-Motion Coup D’etat"--The Federalist. The author observes that we are seeing the end-stages of the accession of the administrative state to complete control of the nation:
                      This fear of the administrative state was a key feature among at least two individuals writing at the Claremont Review of Books, Publius Decius Mus and professor Angelo Codevilla. Decius’s “The Flight 93 Election” essay acted as a sort of rallying cry for some conservatives and small-“r” republican intellectuals against the very real fear that a Hillary Clinton victory would cement the totalizing power of the administrative state — that is career bureaucrats and administrators who view the virtues of the republic as something to be washed away and remade in their own “progressive” image. Decius writes:
                If conservatives are right about the importance of virtue, morality, religious faith, stability, character and so on in the individual; if they are right about sexual morality or what came to be termed “family values”; if they are right about the importance of education to inculcate good character and to teach the fundamentals that have defined knowledge in the West for millennia; if they are right about societal norms and public order; if they are right about the centrality of initiative, enterprise, industry, and thrift to a sound economy and a healthy society; if they are right about the soul-sapping effects of paternalistic Big Government and its cannibalization of civil society and religious institutions; if they are right about the necessity of a strong defense and prudent statesmanship in the international sphere—if they are right about the importance of all this to national health and even survival, then they must believe—mustn’t they?—that we are headed off a cliff.
                  For Decius, Trump represents the final option to head off the transformation of the American republic into an administrative state where bureaucrats would wield an immutable regulatory dictatorship over the American citizenry.
                           Codevilla, prescient, went a step further and surmised that the republic was already dead; the Caesarism of an imperial presidency had already usurped it:
                      Electing either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump cannot change that trajectory. Because each candidate represents constituencies hostile to republicanism, each in its own way, these individuals are not what this election is about. This election is about whether the Democratic Party, the ruling class’s enforcer, will impose its tastes more strongly and arbitrarily than ever, or whether constituencies opposed to that rule will get some ill-defined chance to strike back. Regardless of the election’s outcome, the republic established by America’s Founders is probably gone. But since the Democratic Party’s constituencies differ radically from their opponents’, and since the character of imperial governance depends inherently on the emperor, the election’s result will make a big difference in our lives.
                                If asked at the time of authorship, one doubts either man could have predicted the swiftness in which the administrative state would be able to consolidate power and isolate the presidency. Yet that is what has exactly occurred. With the aid of the media and the Democratic Party, the institutions of the republic are crippled, the levers of power having been seized not by the elected but by the unelected bureaucratic state — from ideologues at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to the partisans and paranoid who inhabit our intelligence community.
                        He concludes: 
                        We may already be past the point of no return. Some in the White House made it a point to seek dismantling the administrative state, but it appears the administrative state is more than capable of fighting back and seizing additional power through leaks, obstinacy, and partisan rancor — ensuring its survival and propelling what can only be described as a coup d’etat.
                        • "The New Class War"--Michael Lind at American Affairs Journal. Both the political left and right believe that they eliminated "classes" by creation of a meritocracy. However, as someone once observed, meritocracies only last one generations--perhaps, at best, two. Lind argues that the we now live in a country split between the "managerial class"--enjoying the access to, and control of, the administration of the nation--and the rest of us. He states:
                        Following World War II, the democracies of the United States and Europe, along with Japan—determined to avoid a return to depression and committed to undercutting communist anti-capitalist propaganda—adopted variants of cross-class settlements, brokered by national governments between national managerial elites and national labor. Following the Cold War, the global business revolution shattered these social compacts. Through the empowerment of multinational corporations and the creation of transnational supply chains, managerial elites disempowered national labor and national governments and transferred political power from national legislatures to executive agencies, transnational bureaucracies, and treaty organizations. Freed from older constraints, the managerial minorities of Western nations have predictably run amok, using their near-monopoly of power and influence in all sectors—private, public, and nonprofit—to enact policies that advantage their members to the detriment of their fellow citizens. Derided and disempowered, large elements of the native working classes in Western democracies have turned to charismatic tribunes of anti-system populism in electoral rebellions against the selfishness and arrogance of managerial elites.
                        Of course, immigration and globalization has played its part:
                        As we have seen, in the late twentieth century, Western managerial elites, by means of transnational corporations, were able to escape from their mid-twentieth-century social contract with national workers by offshoring production, or threatening to do so. Purely domestic companies, like hotels, restaurants, and construction companies, did not have this option. But they could benefit from immigration, because loose labor markets weaken the bargaining power of workers, just as tight labor markets weaken the bargaining power of employers. That is why, throughout most of history in the United States and other countries, organized labor has usually opposed large-scale immigration of any kind, while capitalists and corporate managers have often welcomed it.
                        So how does this play out? Lind predicts:
                                 If I am correct, the post–Cold War period has come to a close, and the industrial democracies of North America and Europe have entered a new and turbulent era. The managerial class has destroyed the social settlements that constrained it temporarily in the second half of the twentieth century and created a new kind of politics, largely insulated from popular participation and electoral democracy, based on large donors and shifting coalitions within a highly homogeneous coalition of allied Western elites. Following two decades of increasing consolidation of the power of the managerial class, the populist and nationalist wave on both sides of the Atlantic is a predictable rebellion by working-class outsiders against managerial-class insiders and their domestic allies, who are often recruited from native minorities or immigrant diasporas.
                                   Will the result of the contemporary class war among managers and workers on both sides of the Atlantic be a revival of fascism? In some countries in Europe, populist nationalist parties have emerged from tiny fringe fascist parties, or have attracted their supporters. But talk about Weimar America or Weimar Europe is based on a misunderstanding of history, which blames fascism on populism. In reality, despite their populist trappings, most interwar fascist movements were favored by military and economic elites as a way to block social democracy and communism.
                                      It is not the Weimar republic but the banana republic that provides the most likely negative model. In many Latin American countries, politics has traditionally pitted oligarchs versus populists. A similar pattern existed in many Southern states in the United States between the Civil War and the civil rights revolution.
                                        When populist outsiders challenge oligarchic insiders, the oligarchs almost always win. How could they lose? They may not have numbers, but they control most of the wealth, expertise, and political influence and dominate the media, universities, and nonprofit sectors. Most populist waves break and disperse on the concrete seawalls of elite privilege.
                                           In the American South, most populist politicians gave up or sold out. ... As billionaires who could finance their own campaigns, Ross Perot and Donald Trump could claim, with some justification, to be free to run against the national establishment.
                                             Those who believe in liberal democracy can look on this kind of political order only with dismay. Most of the time, coteries within a nepotistic elite run things for the benefit of their class. Now and then, a charismatic populist arises, only to fail, sell out to the establishment, or establish a personal or dynastic political-economic racket. Formal democracy may survive, but its spirit has fled. No matter who wins, the insiders or outsiders, the majority will lose.
                                      The author explores some responses to reach a new social contract and political equilibrium, including increased welfare and retrenchment to a mercantile relationships with other nations, but none of these strategies appear to likely to succeed. Instead:
                                        Managerial elites are bound to dominate the economy and society of every modern nation. But if they are not checked, they will overreach and produce a populist backlash in proportion to their excess. By a misguided policy of suppressing wages and thus throttling mass consumption, unchecked managerial elites may inadvertently cripple the technology-driven productivity growth responsible for their rise and accidentally cause the replacement of managerial society itself by a kind of high-tech rentier feudalism.
                                        • "Ruminations On The Way Down The Mountain"--Z Man. Along the same theme, he notes that the managerial classes' "isolation is shrinking their understanding of the world outside. The lack of interaction is resulting in a narrowness of the caste, to the point where we are as alien to them as they are to us. The latter is normal, while the former is dangerous. Similarly, their isolation is allowing their confidence to grow out of all proportion."

                                        Other Stuff:
                                        • "House IT Aides Fear Suspects In Hill Breach Are Blackmailing Members With Their Own Data"--The Daily Caller. Brothers Abid, Imran, and Jamal Awan were information technology specialists that handled IT for multiple Congress-critters, including members of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. The Awans, it was discovered, were stealing equipment and inappropriately accessing computers and networks. The Awans also were defrauding the government for services never provided and seeking reimbursement for work done employees that did not exist. They are currently under criminal investigation:
                                        The investigation goes far beyond the theft of millions of dollars. The employees could read all emails dozens of members of Congress sent and received, as well as access any files members and their staff stored. Court records show the brothers ran a side business that owed $100,000 to an Iranian fugitive who has been tied to Hezbollah, and their stepmother says they often send money to Pakistan.
                                        But, as the article reports, the affected Congress-critters are reluctant to hire replacement IT specialists.
                                        Five Capitol Hill technology aides told The Daily Caller News Foundation’s Investigative Group that members of Congress have displayed an inexplicable and intense loyalty towards the suspects who police say victimized them. The baffled aides wonder if the suspects are blackmailing representatives based on the contents of their emails and files, to which they had full access.
                                        Moreover, it is now reported that the Imran Awan and his family have fled the country, and are in Pakistan.
                                               During his trial, Ledell Lee’s lawyer asked who were we to decide when someone dies. 
                                                 “I will tell you who we are," the prosecutor replied. "We are the hunted." 
                                                   We are the hunted. The monsters that the left shields, protects and promotes are hunting us on the streets and in our homes. When they are caught, the left frees them. When they are sentenced, the left fights for them. It builds sanctuary cities to protect them and ties the hands of the police who fight them. 
                                            • Sounds about right. "Journalists Are Measurably Mentally Deficient?"--Anonymous Conservative. "Journalists’ brains show a lower-than-average level of executive functioning, according to a new study, which means they have a below-average ability to regulate their emotions, suppress biases, solve complex problems, switch between tasks, and show creative and flexible thinking."
                                            • Another blow to the out-of-Africa hypothesis: "First Human Ancestor Came From Europe Not Africa, 7.2 Million-Year-Old Fossils Indicate"--Newsweek. The article reports: "An international team of scientists has presented two studies that suggest the divergence point between chimpanzees and humans took place in the Eastern Mediterranean rather than East Africa."
                                            • "Star that spurred alien megastructure theories dims again"--Science. Tabby's star, which has been dimming at seemingly random intervals recently for reasons unknown, has started dimming again. From the article:
                                            The first sign of the star’s recent dimming came on 24 April from Tennessee State University’s Fairborn Observatory in southern Arizona. But it wasn’t until late last week that astronomers were sure it had entered a new dip. It was 3% dimmer than its normal brightness on 19 and 20 May and is now moving back toward normal. “It looks like the dip has mostly ended,” Kipping says. “But … in the Kepler data we saw an episode of multiple dips clustered together over the span of a few weeks.” The progress of the dimming over the past few days also bears a passing resemblance to some detected by Kepler, supporting the idea that the same object is repeatedly passing in front of the star.

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