Sunday, April 3, 2016

Saturday, April 2, 2016

The Average Aspiring College Graduate's (AACG) Guide to Chalk

I noticed there has been a plethora of items in the news about college students being frightened by chalk. Since the best disinfectant for fear is the bright light of knowledge, I thought it was about time that someone perform a public service and provide a guide for these frightened youngsters about chalk. After all, they are the generation that grew up with white boards and expo markers. Erasers cleaning and clouds of white residue that you don't want up your nose is a strange thing to them. As a well known expert on nothing, I thought “Hey! With the help of Google and the power of Gaia, Goddess of the Earth, I can do that!” So here we go.

According to Google and Wikipedia, the chalk that the average aspiring college graduate (AACG) is most likely to encounter is something like this:
From Amazon

Just a little scary no? I can imagine that when encountered in the wild, it can be quite frightening. So let's break it down a little. The average chalk that you get from Amazon or your street corner dealer is mostly Calcium Carbonate. What exactly is calcium carbonate? The dorks over in the chemistry department actually call it Carbonic Acid Calcium Salt (CCaO3). Its molecule (very tiny piece of it) looks like this:
Courtesy of NIH

Now most of the AACGs reading that will think, “cool! Acid and a Bath Salt.. I bet we can get a good buzz off of that”. <Sigh> No, it really will won't do anything for you. In fact here's another image if CCaO3 you might be more familiar with, given your perchance for late night debauchery:
Amazon Again!
Now I realize all this hard science might be scaring the AACGs right now. After all, there is a reason they went for an Ivy League PhD in Interpretive Dance. So let's talk a little about where chalk comes from. Like most natural occurring compounds, it mostly is dug out of the ground in big holes :

UK Geo-Hazards
By burly man like this:
Sugar Bear from Here Comes Honey Boo Boo - yes - he works in a chalk mine - Google It!
That's no reason to be scared of it. Beyond big mining raping mother earth to give color sticks to small children who write horrible things on the sidewalk just outside your dorm! And scary redneck uneducated white men!

Ok, ok. Let's move on the what Chalk isn't.

First of all it is not this:
Yep! Amazon Again!
While you found those tasty in your “AUD4 – Regressive Toddler Experiences” course, they are not crayons. If you do decide to eat chalk, it will not leave you wanting more, nor will it satisfy that empty place inside you because your mommy loved your daddy more than you. No, chalk is definitely not a consumable.

That's not to say that there are not edible things that look like chalk. Take these for instance:
Amazon! Who Knew!
Unlike e-cigs all your friends are smoking, you can be really scary (and ironic) and pretend to smoke those. They look like evil tobacco, yet when examined up close, resemble the terrifying chalk. That's as bad-assed as a nipple pierce.

It also is not sentient. Unlike guns, chalk will not jump out of the box on it's own and maim and kill bystanders who are unwise enough to glance in it's direction in a death dealing spray of of pure evil. Now how do I know this? I conducted an experiment. I took a piece of chalk and laid it out on my porch. Here's a picture:

I left it there until the next day. Here's a picture of it the next day:

Yep! It's still lying there. Unmoved. Like a rock. No – that is not the same picture just reversed. I am a lauded self-certified blog writer. How dare you question my integrity! So what did we learn from this experiment? First off, I should have gotten a government grant before doing this. If the government is willing to pay half a million dollars to study shrimp on a treadmill:

who am I to turn down a few bucks to determine if big rocks, that are ground down, colored, and smushed into sticks turn into intelligent entities.

Secondly, we see that chalk when left alone will lie around and do nothing. That's something that the average ACG can get behind! So see, you have more in common with chalk than you realized. As you learned from that 'ABN3 – Staring at my <nether regions>' course you took to fulfill your Empathy requirement, “togetherness starts with being you”.

On that note, I will wrap this up. After all, I am not getting paid to write this and most of the AACGs stopped reading up there where I mentioned 'bath salts'. For those still reading, I hope this will help you be just a little less frightened of chalk next time you encounter it in the wild. With a little understanding, and a lot love, we all can coexist! Peace On! No.. Peace Out!

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Why I Didn't Vote For Trump

Let me start this out by saying that Trump seems like a good guy (as all of the Republican candidates appeared to be). He will probably win the nomination and if he somehow manages to beat the democratic machine of dirty tricks and slimy vote manufacturing in the general election, he will be like a breath of fresh air compared to what the Bamster has done in the last 8 years.

I thought of writing this up just before Super Tuesday here in Virginia. Work schedules and other things kept me from putting figurative pen to paper until now. A lot of water has passed under the bridge since then.. Dr. Ben, Jeb, and Rubio are gone, and then there's that whole Sturmabteilung in Chicago thing that closed down the Trump rally. These were followed by the various (disappointing) response by Cruz and Rubio that have tempered my beliefs a bit. However, I still feel the following needs to be said.

Now on to my point. See that picture up there at the top of the page? That right there is the reason that I didn't vote for Trump. Here's another view:

Yep, it's the hat. Now some would say that it is reminiscent of this hat:

Yes, in a way. Like the way a poodle is reminiscent of a wolf. That hat (the green one) is only worn by those who have earned it. The other one? There is a bit of a different qualification for that. So lets look a little more deeply into this hat. What is it? Wikipedia notes that this hat style:

is a called a 'trucker hat'. It is distinguished from the average ball cap by a high foam crown, with a logo or message printed on it. I can remember getting this type of hat back when I was a kid when I played baseball. The name of the team sponsor would be prominently printed on the crown. They have a plastic strip in the back where that snap into another plastic strip so they could be sized to any head that would want to wear them. Despite the 'trucker' monicker, grown men generally do not wear this type of hat. In my experience, it is worn by the pre-teen who take there drinks strong (i.e. 'suicides' which are a ballpark concoction of every flavor of soda available at the the drink stand all mixed together), and their double plays rare.

I am not a hat snob. Much to my family's chagrin I have worn a hat to work and play almost every day of my life. Mostly the same hat. Until it comes apart. In pieces. I take my head-wear seriously, since I know I will be wearing it quite a bit. The man doesn't pick the hat, the hat picks the man, and thus it defines him.

So let's look at the other candidate's hats. First off, I could not find a single picture of Cruz or Rubio wearing any kind of hat. What the hell? Even the Bamster has pictures wearing a hat. It's bicycle hat, and he is riding a little girl's bike, but it's still a hat:

It also tells us a little bit about the man, no? Then there is this picture from way before he became the leader of the free world:

Uh, yeah.. that says a lot too.

On to the candidates. First there is Dr. Ben:

Nope, that hat does not make your head look big. You can tell he knows that. On the other hand, he does have the guts to try. I like Dr. Ben for that kind of self depreciating humor. While he is obviously not a hat wearer, he knows it and doesn't pretend to be something he is not. A very admirable quality.

Then there's Kasich:

He is not a hat wearer either. He looks like he is putting the hat on here to try to appear that he is. Hat wearers can tell he is faking it. We don't really like being sucked up to. I guess there is a reason he is loosing in the polls.

Finally there is Jeb:

Ugh! I am not even going to comment here. The picture speaks for itself.  Unlike his brother:

There he is wearing a hat he has probably worn for years surrounded by guys wearing hats they have probably worn for years doing real work in the hot Texas sun where a hat is just a part of the mandatory equipment. Been there, Done that. Sweated buckets. That's all you really need to know about the character of the guy.

So that brings me back to the Trump hat. I understand why he has it, and what he thinks he is saying to the electorate. He is one with the hard working, hat wearing, constituency. But we know a cheap knockoff when we see it, and the hat wearing electorate is not fooled. By pushing this hat, he has disappointed the male hat wearers, and that a real shame.

You will note that I haven't said anything about Hillary and hats. Personally, I can't really remember seeing any pictures of her wearing a hat. There is something disconcerting about that. Women and the hats they wear have always been a bit of a mystery to me. It's something I don't know anything about nor do I wish to. I will, however go ahead and comment on it.

From what I know there are two types of woman’s hats. The foofy kind that you see runway models wearing that men never see as there eyes are turned elsewhere; and the foofy kind that you see nominally southern women wearing at the Kentucky Derby. I have no idea how to tell anything about a women by the hat that she chooses to wear (or not), as women wear hats for reasons that are different than men. Those reasons I think have less to do with how one feels about oneself, and more about how they want to be perceived. It's not a knock on women, but more an observation. On the other hand, a women who's job it is to appear in public and almost never wears a dress tells you something else about how she wants to be perceived. I really don't think it's very flattering to her or the men in her life.

So has Trump lost the real hat wearing demographic with his 'Make America Great' hat? Well, I suspect there aren't that many of us, so in the end it really doesn't matter. Those of us that wear real hats don't really give a damn about that kind of thing (other than being mildly offended by his choice of symbolism). We are probably more concerned about real things, like the border, the second amendment, and getting government out of our lives. In the general election, when we are faced with the Bengazi liar, the socialist, or a guy who made a bad hat decision, who to pull the lever for will be a relatively easy decision.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Hillary's Other Email Problem

I have been reading a lot about the state department putting Hillary's emails online as a result of FOIA request. I thought “hey – wouldn't it be fun to see what was in there?” I thus decided to go and take a peek. It was very enlightening! I also had to give my eyeballs a full DECON as there was much in there that you wouldn't want to see or even think about.. Read on to see what I found.

First off some general observations about the emails and their presentation. In the State Department website (found here). The documents, as has been reported elsewhere, are not in chronological order as one would expect. Instead I surmise they are in whatever order they were in when they were extracted from the email server. This means that if you start scrolling through them, you will see globs of emails that kind of look chronological, but then they will skip. At the top of the list you will see tabs that appear to sort them by date (Don't click on that!) It will sort them, but the State Department didn't index all the documents by date. That means that if you hit that button and look at a particular date to see what emails were being sent back and forth, you won't see all the applicable emails. For example, if you sort and look at say September 11, 2012 (when the Benghazi attack took place), you won't find any emails relating to the attack.

Secondly, the way the Hillary used this email account was both a little funny and sad. My guess is that her eye sight, like many of us older people, is probably not good enough to read the tiny little screen her phone. Because of this, whenever she found the contents of a email interesting, she would direct her assistant to “Print this”, presumably in a large font she could read at a later time at her leisure. This is of course just speculation on my part, but in scanning through the emails, it happened enough that it got me to thinking that's what was going on. This is not very flattering and just a little hypocritical for the tree huggers.. just think how many trees had to die in a sacrifice to Hillary's eyesight! The good thing is since many of the emails were classified, the paper was hopefully shredded in an approved government shredder to render then unable to be reassembled and easily composted. Unless they were really highly classified, in which case the shredded paper would have to be burned too – what's the carbon offset for that?

After discovering the indexing problem noted above, and sampling enough of the documents that I began to understand how the flow of them worked, I resorted to scrolling through all of the pages of documents, looking for emails on or around September 11, 2012. As I found really interesting ones, I made a note of the page, date, and subject (if there was one). What follows is what I found for what was going on before, during, and after the attacks. It's not a clean list of all of the documents for that time, but it's what I had the patience to wade through. I downloaded the documents and have links to my copy of them. You can find the documents by searching the State Department link for the document number I provide with the link to my copy.

I went about this search with the now very established notion that the attack on Benghazi was not started as some protest to a video, but a concentrated attack, planned and executed by a military force. Given that, the administration and the State Department conspired to fool the American public into believing the attack was spontaneous. As Hillary said in the hearings, “What difference does it make?” Here's why: With the presidential election coming in 2012, it was imperative that Obama look competent on handling Libya. After all, they had just killed Qaddafi and were touting the 'Arab Spring' as a their brilliant foreign policy coup. I decided to try to find out what role Hillary played in this deception. To wit: what did she know, when did she know it, and what did she do about it.

First is the question of what she knew and when she knew it. I found this rather chilling email (C05739901) where on the night of the attack, Hillary's aide, Cheryl Mills forwards her a memo from the State Department Comm Center stating that the Embassy in Benghazi is under attack from mortar fire and more comm center personnel have been injured. Beyond the implication that there were previous emails indicating injuries and an attack; the mention of the use of mortars in the attack indicates to most reasonable people that this just wasn't a gang of angry people jumping the gates and swinging swords and chopping heads, but a real fighting force engaged in a military action.

There are two emails that are somewhat in conflict that establishes what she knew and when she knew it. First there is this one (C05447452) from a 'C&O Report' which was forwarded to Hillary on September 16th, 2012 that indicates the attack was 
carried out by an al-Oa'ida affiliated group which planned the attack for the 9/11 anniversary in retaliation for the death of Abu Yahya al Libi, al-Qa'ida's deputy commander.” 

C&O refers to C&O Resources, an “International Consulting and Resources Group” according to their website. Apparently they are a private intelligence group which provide their customers info on an as needed basis. That means someone, apparently either on Hillary's staff or an outside benefactor (Sid Blumenthal), paid them to generate this report. What follows is that if this private group could obtain this information, then surely the vast intelligence gathering network of the US Government could too. In any case, this email establishes that as of September 16th, she knew the full truth. So let's look at the timeline on this. The attacks happened Tuesday – Wednesday on 9/11/2015. We know that Hillary got this open source collected email Sunday morning on the 16th. That's the same day that Susan Rice went on TV exposing that the attacks were all due to a video. Yet the above report indicates that these attacks had been planed.

So where did the idea of the video being the spontaneous trigger come from? Probably this memo (C05795493) which appears in numerous emails and is dated 12 September 2012. It's a fairly dense intelligence report produced the day after the attack that indicates interim Libyan President Magariaf has been told by his security people that the attacks could have been as a result of a video. It also notes that Magariaf was worried about possibly being cast as an tool of the Americans based on papers that were seized by his opposition when Qaddafi was killed. He (Magariaf) indicates that he thinks this campaign by his opposition is as much to blame as the video. There are two things to take away from this email. First, we can see where the idea to blame the video originated – from Magariaf's security staff. Secondly, it is notable that this report was generated not to establish the basis of the attack, but to give the State Department a window into what was going on with the leadership of Libya in the aftermath of the attack. As the previous emails established, the US intelligence machine probably knew it was a military attack, and knew where it came from.

The next question is what role did Hillary play in the cover up and deception? The Susan Rice appearance on “This Week” is the initial lynchpin in establishing the video as a reason for the attacks. This email (C05794431) indicates that the Rice interview went exactly as planned. That doesn't mean that they weren't, even at this point, trying to cover their posteriors in case the deception went south. In this email (C05739754) sent to Hillary from Jake Sullivan, he notes that Rice wasn't asked if they had intelligence before the attack, then goes on to note that she did make a troubling statement about how the investigation might turn up some other cause for the attack. Why was this such a concern that he felt compelled to preface the transcript of the interview with that statement? I think it was because everyone involved knew the video was a red herring.

There were numerous other emails where the staffers indicated that Hillary's team were deeply involved in the coverup. In this one (C05796991) her aides are working the angles of why the video are a plausible story. In this one, (C05793287), they discuss how to keep pushing it and the parts of the narrative that need shoring up. That doesn't mean that Hillary wasn't aware that the video deception might come back to bite her. In this email (C05739610) from September 24th, Jake Sullivan has apparently been asked to compile a list of all the utterances that Hillary has made about the video and the attack. He notes “You never said spontaneous or characterized the motives”. It makes one start to wonder 'what the meaning of is is', and why Hillary felt she might need to deny something she and her staff had orchestrated.

So why did they do it? One theory is that it was a callous move before an election to throw off criticism of Obama's foreign policy weakness. Another clue as to why lies in this email (C05796495). In that one, Jake Sullivan, in discussing a conservative hit piece on the 'Satanic Video' by Ben Keller, notes that by blaming the video on the protest, and denouncing it, they were able to get help shaky governments say 'look – the American government doesn't like disrespecting Mohammad'. Thus they can quell the radical's attempting to take over those governments. He goes on to cite Tunisia as an example. Of course, in hindsight, this assertion is so much fluff, given this attack and this one, not to mention to morass that currently is Syria.

That brings us back to Hillary's question of “What difference does it make?” While Hillary may escape going to jail and will possibly go on the be the Democrat's great white hope for the current election, I would hope that the electorate not let her or Obama forget that the responsibility for Benghazi lies squarely on her and Obama's head, and vote accordingly. That's what difference it should make.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

I got nothin today

Let's see.. today in history - wait.. scratch that, today in present history we have folks rioting in Chicago over a knife wielding 17 year old kid on PCP being shot by police last year. Not a whole lot new there..

A Russian jet being shot down in or near Turkey and the various saber rattling that ensued from that.. Nope.. nothing there either..

<sigh> I guess I really just don't have much inspiration this morning.. here's some shopping storm troopers:

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

You Can't Fix Stupid

Venerable Alfred E. Newman - Mad via Wikipedia
I thought I'd not have much to write here today. After all, I am into my third day of Thanksgiving idleness and starting to plan for cooking for family and friends. Yes I do anticipate a putting on a pretty good feed this year, but more on that later. Let's talk about truth.

I'll start out by saying I give most people the benefit of the doubt when discussing facts. Facts are very tricky things, especially when we are trying to remember not big trendy things, like say two buildings falling down in New York after getting hit by planes hijacked by Muslims. No, those are fairly easy to nail down. It's details that can be ethereal and difficult to grasp and hold them still.

With that in mind, I read with some bemusement the thread on Instapundit about the Washington Post's effort to play the gotcha game with Trump's statements about Muslims cheering when the towers fell. After all, it's not like they haven't gotten away with this before. Consider how successfully they managed to tank George Allen's campaign over the 'macaca' statement. In that case Allen used what he thought was a made up word, then the media looked it up and 'shazam!' it was an arcane curse. It was kind of like when you are playing scrabble with a 12 year old and they just make up a word because they are tired of playing. You invoke the dictionary rule, look it up and you are both surprised that it is there. The 12 year old struts away with the win while you are looking at a tray full of useless X's, Y's, and F's.

I thought that Powerline had pretty much nailed down that Trump was correct about Muslim's cheering when the towers fell and the Post would crawl back in their hole and let that one go. But no, as the title of this post notes, you can't fix stupid. Today they decided to go ahead and double down on that. This time a different writer, Chris Cilliza, took the stupid ball and ran with it, writing about "Donald Trump's Increasingly Fact Free Campaign"

First off, let's go with the premise that at some point, the Donald spoke only the truth, and now he mostly isn't. That would require a diligent reporter to cite examples of when he spoke the truth and where exactly he deviated from that. Did any of that happen in this post? Er, no.

So let's look at where exactly Trump was supposed to deviate from the truth. First let look at exactly what Trump said:

Note how he tees it up. He wants the Post to jump on this like they have. The throw off is he doesn't really care about the 'thousands and thousands' part. That is just hyperbole. When asked about specifics in the Stephanopoulos interview, he drops into factual territory and talks about what he saw on TV. Here is exactly the kind of thing that he is talking about:

There are home grown terrorist that need to be monitored. They are advocating attacks on the US. This is undeniable. What's wrong with saying that these people need to be monitored?

Cilliza goes on to make this astounding statement:
If there is no agreed-upon neutral arbiter, there are no facts. 
Naturally, the Post should be the arbiter. But of course Trump is ignoring them, and, in a hat trick, they continue to whine about it, giving him more press and keeping his polling numbers high.

The writer wraps up the post by claiming that this tweet by Trump quotes 'inaccurate' facts about black on black crimes:

The Trump ad people are great! What are the two facts that catch your eye in this graphic?

  • about 1% of blacks that are killed are killed by the police
  • about 97% of blacks that are killed are killed by other blacks
Empirically sampling the police blotter from say Chicago on any given weekend, I'd say that is just about right. On the other hand, the Post wants you to look at the 81% of whites are killed by blacks. I didn't even see that in there until they pointed it out, did you?

That's the brilliance of the Trump campaign. They knew someone in the media would pick up on that 'fact' and blow up the internet with it. Like the loyal lapdogs they are, the Post didn't disappoint. This of course effectively gets that graphic moved from just a throwaway post into the a national spotlight. The net effect is that more people see that Trump is highlighting the fact that matters - the problem in the black community is black on black violence, not cop on black killings, something seemingly lost in the Black Lives Matter movement.

Chris is right in one sense. The media's apparent inability to fairly fact check all candidates leaves the average reader to assume that any fact check is just another hatchet job. What the Trump campaign has done is the take that hatchet away from the erstwhile political reporter who risks getting hoisted by their own petard when they try to pull the old 'gotcha' trick out of the playbook.

Good for you Trump, Good for you.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Y'all Come Back Now, Ya Hear?

From Wikipedia
As I may have mentioned elsewhere, even though I current live in Virginia, I grew up in the real south - Memphis. As I was perusing the news this morning and thinking about what to write here this morning, I came across this story about Hillary making a whistle stop visit to my home town and affecting a southern accent for the home crowd, her being a former first lady and all from neighboring Arkansas.

I have no idea how things are in Memphis now, but her touting her Arkansas first lady credentials really doesn't hold much appeal for me. When I was growing up there, Arkansas was a pretty foreign land to us. The Mississippi river was both a cultural and physical barrier. When I think back on growing up in Memphis, there really wasn't much on that side of the river but miles and miles of flatland and mud flats. The only industry there was the dog track. Even back then it was a despised institution which managed to irk both the southern baptist with it's sinful gambling and the animal lovers with it's exploitation of man's best friend. Thus, the state government that would allow such a thing was in my mind always a little backward and pitiful.

But what exactly did Hillary say and do in her brief sashay through Memphis? Well first she made her stop at LeMoyne-Owen College, a historically black college, located just a few blocks from Beale Street. I must admit I have never been there as that part of town was not someplace I had any reason to go to. Of course I have never been to Graceland either, so I don't have any feelings about it either way.

Her visit there was of course to burnish her reputation with the black voters as the wife of the first black American president. I do however wonder what black voters think about her adopting a southern accent every time she is confronted with a room full of black faces. Probably the more interesting question is "Why does she do this?" In attempting to relate to them is she taking on the persona of the white slave owners that subjugated their forefathers? There are some rather interesting things going on there that warrants further study, but frankly I am just not motivated to look into it.

There was one other thing she did there that should be noted. She talked to the family of Darius Stewart, offering them her condolences. Who is Darius Stewart? Another unarmed black child killed by a white cop, that's who! Well, that of course isn't the whole story. It turns out he was a 19 year old who had outstanding warrants for being a child molester. This is how the shooting went down. The police did a traffic stop and issued a ticket to the driver. At the same time, they looked up the ID of the passenger and found he had an outstanding warrant for arrest. They put him in the back of their cruiser while they took care of the driver and sent him on his way. When the officer went to get him out to put the cuffs on him,  he tore into the cop. The cop was loosing the fight when he pulled his weapon and shot Darius, once in the arm and shoulder, and the second time in the chest.

My theory is this was effectively suicide by cop. Anyone who knows the prison system knows that child molesters generally get the worst treatment by their fellow inmates. This fact was not lost on Darius, and when he knew that he was going to be faced with a humiliating trial followed by years of the hardest type of time, he made a decision right then and there to try to escape at all cost. With nothing to lose, trying to fight his way through one cop in order to secure his freedom seemed like a reasonable alternative.

It's a pretty sad situation all around. I can't imagine what Hillary though she could accomplish by inserting herself into it. I guess it was a crass effort to align herself with the "Black Lives Matter" crowd. She certainly did that, then neatly side stepped that issue today by tweeting today:

 What about Darius's victims? Don't their black lives matter too?