Monday, December 30, 2019

A Quick Run Around the Web (12/30/2019)

"Nearby Superflares | What Do They Mean"--Suspicious Observers (8 min.)

      In a recent class that I taught, when we were discussing plea bargaining, a retired prosecutor and defense attorney said that prosecutors over charge to threaten a long prison sentence to get the defendant to plead to a lesser offense to reduce the potential time in prison.  It's really hard not to take the plea deal.  This was in response to my teaching that you should never take a plea deal, because in the end we are all judged by God. I don't want God to ask me, "Why did you confess to a crime you did not commit? Didn't you know that lying is a sin?"
         We tried to get President Trump to pardon a Marine.  But, the President couldn't, because the Marine had taken a plea deal, where the Marine had confessed to the crime.  It's really hard to pardon someone who confessed to the crime.
           President Trump did pardon two soldiers, one of whom had spent significant time in prison, but never confessed.  Often a condition of parole is confessing to the crime that you were convicted of.  So, people will confess to get out of prison.  But, the soldier would not lie.  So, he stayed in prison until President Trump pardoned him.
      It is the use of plea bargains to get confessions to a lessor crime to avoid having to go to trial that has led to it being compared to torturing a confession from someone.
      • "Coincidentally, CDC Issues 'Health Advisory' On Ebola Rapid Test and FDA Approves New Ebola Vaccine"--Organic Prepper. The author remarks: "In an interesting coincidence, the CDC has issued an advisory on the use of an Ebola rapid diagnostic test only 3 days before the announcement of a new FDA-approved Ebola vaccine with a '100% effectiveness' rate." The rapid test is intended as a quick test to be used on travelers, but the CDC warns that it is only a preliminary test and cannot be relied upon for a definitive diagnosis. The vaccine must be taken at least 10-days prior to exposure to be effective. The author wonders if these announcements are coincidence or something more:
            It could mean absolutely nothing. It could just be medical advances that seem to be coinciding.
              Of course, the last time the CDC began to talk about Ebola making it to the United States, it did. And the federal government recently hired “ebola airport screeners.”
        • "Antibiotic Resistance: Go Big Or Go Home"--Beans, Bullets, Bandages and You. The author discusses how antibiotic resistance arises and why its a problem, as well as sanitary precautions you can take to reduce the change of getting a bacterial infection. But the real key is not to scrimp on antibiotics when it comes time to use them:
                Not going big is especially tempting from a prepper point of view. One’s hoard of prepper antibiotics is likely to be limited, and perhaps irreplaceable at least in the short term during an emergency. It will be tempting to take the drugs when the problem is glaring, but see if you can get by with less than a full course. That strategy, though, invites resistance. At least originally, most of the randomly occurring mutations provide microbes resistance to the drug, not immunity. Taking a full course is likely to kill ’em all, even the somewhat resistant ones. Half courses just reward them for being resistant and encourage them to develop more of it.
                 If someone takes a partial course of antibiotics, they kill off a lot of the original population of microbes. They feel better, but the remaining microbes all carry resistance genes.  When these survivors breed back up, the drug is far less effective. Most preppers can’t afford to let any of their few antibiotic choices become ineffective. If you’re going to take antibiotics, now or in an emergency, doctors strongly recommend taking enough to do the job right.
            • "Knife and Hand Safety Review"--Blue Collar Prepping. The author recently had a co-worker injured while using a knife at work and so discusses some of the basic points of knife safety: keep your knife sharp and clean; cut away from your body; maintain and enforce a 'Circle of Blood' (i.e., an area around you free of other persons so a mishap won't cut a bystander). The author also links to a knife safety video produced by Schrade Knives.
            • "When you can't pull the trigger"--The Armory Life. A video and short article on weapon retention. The issue is that if someone grabs your firearm, you may not be able to fire the weapon (e.g., the slide has been pushed out of battery) or want to fire the weapon (e.g., it has been pushed so its pointing in an unsafe direction).
            • "HOME DEFENSE BLASTER BASICS: WHAT TO USE, AND WHY (ONE PROFESSIONAL’S OPINION)"--The Mag Life. Frank Woods gives us his opinion on what handguns, shotguns, and rifles (including caliber or gauge) he recommends for home defense, as well as accessories such as lights or optics. As to handguns, he writes:
            Generally we recommend a modern design polymer frame pistol of quality manufacture. Worthy examples of note are the Glock 17/19/34 series, S&W M&P 2.0, FNH FNX, FNS, and 509, the CZ P-series, the HK VP9, and the various iterations of the SIG P320. The reasons being, they’re proven designs, they function as expected much more often than they fail, and they’re relatively affordable (therefore easy to buy into) even for a beginner.
            And as for caliber? 9 mm he says because of higher magazine capacity, lower cost per round, and less recoil (for quicker follow up shots, if necessary).
                    It is my opinion that a small fixed-blade knife (“SFBK”) should have a prominent spot on the list of appropriate tools. In no way does the SFBK replace the defensive handgun, but if forced to defend myself against an attacker or attackers that pose a legitimate threat to life and limb, I want to have on my person the most effective tools possible. There are situations in which the SFBK is the defensive tool of choice, such as:
              1. I fear for my life while being forced to grapple with a person with obvious superior physical strength or fighting skills, and any attempt by me to deploy the handgun may result in the same being stripped from and used against me. This is almost always the case if I end up on my back with my attacker on top, or my attacker is grasping my dominant arm if I am trying to draw my handgun.
              2. A similar grappling situation as above, but involving multiple attackers.
              3. For reasons beyond my control, I am prohibited from having my handgun on my person.
                    A SFBK carried near the centerline of the body is an effective force multiplier in such situations. It is difficult to access and deploy a folding knife while grappling, especially if the attacker is throwing punches at the head, any of which can concuss or knock me out. Most persons allow their elbow to flare away from the body while reaching for and then opening a folding knife, which makes it easier for the attacker to not only observe the action but seize and isolate the weapon-bearing arm.  My take on centerline carry is that the SFBK should be carried on the belt or waistline close to the center of the body, and on the opposite side of the holster.  Done properly, the SFBK should then be accessible with either hand.
                             One study looked at coyote attacks in the United States and Canada and found a clear upward trend. Robert Timm, formerly with the University of California, and Rex Baker of Cal State Polytechnic University—Pomona, examined coyote attacks on humans from 1977 to 2015. During the study period, there were 165 attacks in California and an additional 202 in the rest of the US and Canada. Although California’s numbers have bounced up and down, the total number of coyote attacks went from an average of about four per year during the 1980s to about 15 per year in the late 2000s and early 2010s. The authors, however, caution that many more attacks have likely taken place. 
                              “…numerous animal regulation organizations and city authorities declined to cooperate in gathering these data, to avoid adverse publicity toward their management of wildlife or the specific cities. Park rangers also reported a reluctance of some citizens to file reports after being attacked by coyotes (Baker and Timm 1998). We also found that some agencies or entities that received such reports would not share this information with researchers or others, and some reports were said to have been discarded after a few years or were not maintained in a manner that was easily accessible,” they wrote. 
                                Even with incomplete data, the researchers had no doubts about reaching a consensus. Attacks on people and pets have gone up. 
                                 So what’s going on? The increase is likely attributable to two factors: The numbers of both humans and predators have increased. It’s inevitable that encounters between humans and predators would rise over time. 
                                   Grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, for example, increased from 136 in 1975 to more than 700 now. Lion numbers have been stable in California, but they have more than doubled in Oregon in the past 25 years. Coyotes are now found in every county in the Lower 48 and in virtually every major city in the United States. They even live New York City’s Central Park, and are seen frequently in downtown Chicago. 
                                      That’s because they have an abundance of food. Researchers have analyzed urban and suburban coyote diets in a number of cities. Generally, they eat such things as discarded food scraps, pet food left outside, road-kill and, on occasion, free-roaming housecats. They also eat lots of rodents. 
                                        The recent increase in mountain lion attacks is likely also directly related to the same two factors: Humans encroaching on lion habitat and more lions in the woods. Although California’s big cat population has remained relatively stable, the number of humans living on the fringes of cities has spiked. According to Headwaters Economics, since 1990, 60 percent of all new homes in the western United States were built in what is known as the wildland-urban interface.
                                          Attacks by brown bears, which include grizzlies, have gone up worldwide, according to a report in the journal Nature. The authors examined attacks from 2000 and 2015 in North America, Europe and the Asian range of brown bears. Worldwide, there were 18 attacks in 2000. There were 83 in 2014, including 18 in North America. 
                                      It may even be that once the laws are enacted, nothing specifically happens. However, as I stated above, what you need to do is not scuttle and hide. You need to stand up as a responsible Citizen. What could this mean? Perhaps business as usual with going to the range, wherever that is, even in your backyard? Do not acknowledge that any ‘laws’ have even been enacted. Carry on as normal. Particularly if your County has already declared itself a Sanctuary. It may be the case that raids are conducted by armed men in the employ of the State in order to create an example – I would suggest the creation of mutual support groups in your area, in order to make that impossible.


                                      "Giant Waves | Disaster Series Follow-Up"--Suspicious Observers (5 min.)

                                      • How far we have fallen: Last week, I noted an article from Rod Dreher under the title, "Pop Culture’s Erasure Of Religious People." What prompted him to write his article was coming across a Showtime program, "Work In Progress," with the following description: "Abby is a 45-year-old self-identified fat, queer dyke whose misfortune and despair unexpectedly lead her to a vibrantly transformative relationship. Chicago improv mainstay Abby McEnany co-created and stars in this uniquely human comedy series." I'm sure that Showtime had no qualms about the message that would be conveyed by that program. But it reminded me of another article, "How the Creator of 'A Charlie Brown Christmas' Got the Gospel Past CBS Execs." This article described the difficulty Charles Schulz had convincing CBS executives to allow the character Linus to recite a short passage from the Gospel of Luke at the end of the program. CBS's position was that it was too controversial to read from the Bible on network television. And this was in 1965! At that time, at least, television executives would not have had a fat lesbian character either. But here we are at the end of 2019, and the fat lesbian is okay, but I suspect that reading from the Bible would still be verboten. 
                                      Furthermore, there is also a race element to these attacks against Jews that has made the racial-hierarchy-obsessed left struggle to address the problem with any teeth. The vast majority of hate crimes committed against Jews in New York City have been carried out by people of color, and early reports alleging the identity of the recent murderer reveal the current attack may be no exception. This pattern presents a true problem for the left. As my colleague David Marcus has written, “The notion that hatred is harbored by some in the black community towards Jews does not comport with their hierarchies of oppression.” And indeed, the left, in all its racial obsession, has picked favorites. And they didn’t choose the Jews.
                                      • Related: "Jews Under Attack Deserve Better Than Selective Outrage"--Benjamin Wittes at The Atlantic. He also notes that these attacks aren't getting as much attention as they might otherwise receive because it doesn't fit the Left's narrative, writing: "People who are more interested in how they can use the problem of anti-Semitism as a weapon than in the problem itself will always be a little too willing to avert their gaze when the wrong sort of people get killed by the wrong sort of killers for the wrong sort of reasons." 
                                            It has frankly been astounding how little attention attacks on Jews in the New York City area have received. If any other minority group were subject to such abuse, it would be a leading national story. Why have these attacks been swept under the carpet? The clearest answer seems to be that the news media and our political leadership are uncomfortable with the fact that many of these attacks, including last night’s, were perpetrated by black people.

                                           Make no mistake, if white supremacists in MAGA hats were shooting minorities or carving them up with machetes, it wouldn’t just be news, it would be the only news. So satisfying would that narrative be to our politicians and scribes that we would scarcely be able to turn away. But alas, it’s Jews being killed and maimed. And the criminals don’t fit the bill of right-wing, Trump-supporting Nazis, so, you know, it’s complicated.
                                      At Instapundit, it was noted that the reason for the lack of ardor in reporting this isn't just the ethnicity of the attackers, but that the victims are the wrong type of Jew: ultra-Orthodox Jews who often vote Republican. See also: "Most U.S. Jews Don’t Care About anti-Semitic Violence Against the ultra-Orthodox" by Jonathan S. Tobin at Haaretz.
                                              The pre-welfare black society understood the necessity for respect and responsibility.  From slavery until LBJ's War on Poverty programs, intact black American families were the norm.  The church was the glue that sealed biblical bindings in the hearts and minds of the family.  Fathers governed their households, and young men were less likely to become criminals.  Fornicators and adulterers were unwelcomed parasites.  Premarital pregnancies were a rarity, as they were a cause for shame and reproach.
                                               In 1950, eighty-five years after slavery, the two-parent black household was 78%.  By the mid-sixties, black lives started to matter much less under LBJ's Great Society.  Now, just fifty-three years after the War on Poverty began, the once stable two-parent black household has disintegrated to an abysmal 27%, and the black church is all but silent!  The roots of this catastrophe were sown the minute the black church started trusting in government instead of God.
                                                 While the two major political parties share joint responsibility for the state of government, the Democratic Party has placed itself in direct opposition to God.  Those whose stand against God dig their own graves, and the black church by and large has decided to dig alongside the Democrats.
                                            The accounts included in this book are as noteworthy for what they don’t say as for what they do. The attentive reader will note that there is no period since the beginning of Islam that was characterized by large-scale peaceful coexistence between Muslims and non-Muslims. There was no time when mainstream and dominant Islamic authorities taught the equality of non-Muslims with Muslims, or the obsolescence of jihad warfare. There was no Era of Good Feeling, no Golden Age of Tolerance, no Paradise of Proto-Multiculturalism. There has always been, with virtually no interruption, jihad. This book completes the case I have been making for decades now.
                                                    Bd—Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis in full—kills frogs and other amphibians by eating away at their skin and triggering fatal heart attacks. It’s often said that the fungus has caused the decline or extinction of 200 amphibian species, but that figure is almost two decades out-of-date. New figures, compiled by a team led by Ben Scheele from the Australian National University, are much worse.
                                                     Scheele’s team estimates that the fungus has caused the decline of 501 amphibian species—about 6.5 percent of the known total. Of these, 90 have been wiped out entirely. Another 124 have fallen by more than 90 percent, and their odds of recovery are slim. Never in recorded history has a single disease burned down so much of the tree of life. “It rewrote our understanding of what disease could do to wildlife,” Scheele says.
                                                The giant red star known as Betelgeuse, situated almost perpendicular to Orion’s belt, has rapidly dimmed since October. By mid-December, the once shining star, usually among the top 10 brightest stars in the sky, had plummeted out of the top 20, reported Villanova University’s Edward Guinan in an Astronomer’s Telegram.
                                                The star is a known variable star, so while the rapidity of the dimming is unusual, it is far from conclusive. Betelgeuse is over 600 light years away so even if it explodes, it wouldn't impact life on earth other than giving a spectacular display. At full nova, it would be bright enough to be seen in the daytime. 
                                                  ... What was needed [following the slaughter of World War I], many felt, was a peoples’ revolution, and Marxism provided a ready answer; what few Marxists admitted was that what was needed was a new mandarin class, with themselves as the mandarins.
                                                         This was the great, satanic lie of Marxism: that the people would rule. Lenin and his Bolsheviks never had any intentions of allowing the worker’s paradise they preached to actually come to pass. ... 
                                                    * * *
                                                            ... The zealots, therefore, are the shock troops of the Revolution. But they are not mandarins; they only work for the mandarins – useful idiots, as Lenin famously called the true True Believers.
                                                             A true mandarin, on the other hand, believes in nothing except himself and his own self-aggrandizement. These men do not serve the State, the State serves them: it takes care of their financial and physical needs and it helps them exterminate their enemies. In a mandarin-led society, the State is presented as a father figure, if not an actual Big Brother. He may be a boy emperor, a regent, a figment of the imagination – but he does not rule; the mandarins do. And they are opaque. In the Bartók-Lengyel ballet, the titular Miraculous Mandarin is not miraculous because he is a wizard, but because he is immune to physical pain until the girl finally takes pity on him and finds the way, mortally, to his heart. Like his real-life incarnations in bureaucracies everywhere, his intentions are obscure and his motivation well hidden. He is the Other; his attempt to fit in with the commoners is fatal.
                                                               We can always spot Mandarins, which is why their professed fealty to the welfare of the common man rings so hollow. Like vampires, they continue to stalk us, seeking more throats into which to sink their gleaming fangs. How, then, can we stop them?
                                                          • "Exorcism"--The Social Pathologist. The author argues:
                                                            By accepting the de facto framing of our current civilisational battle as being one of Right vs Left, without actually defining what these terms mean, has resulted in the Right being composed of Christian and anti-Christian elements, fundamentally crippling any resistance to the Left.  For the Christian, the problem is that he has to fight not only the anti-Christian on the left but also the anti-Christian on the  right. The net result is that the Left wins most of the time while anti-Christianity wins all of the time. Meanwhile the West slouches towards Gomorrah.
                                                              He also contends that this is a direct result of the failure to have a purity test. He proposes the following test:
                                                                As I see it, any future Dissident Right needs to police its membership to prevent subversion by Right Modernists. The "purity tests" to be used are;
                                                                  a) A commitment to the Truth.
                                                                    b) A recognition of the formative role of Christianity in Western Identity.
                                                                      c) A commitment to Christian social morals-if not necessarily belief.
                                                                        As I see it, these three tests are our garlic, holy water and crucifix that we use to exorcise the modernists from any re-emergent Dissident Right movement.

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                                                                        The Docent's Memo (8/15/2022)

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