Saturday, January 7, 2017

The Brown House on Embassy Row

In preparation for the coming of the new King, the Obama's have started pulling up stakes from the the White house and preparing to move into thier new digs. Since thier old home town of Chicago is a cesspool of gun violence and anarchy,  they naturally are not returning there.

So where will the young deposed prince and his poor family go? The answer was given in this article.  No shabby digs for this family,  as only the best will do! The bamster and his entourage will be camped in a multi-million dollar rental at the end of embassy row in the Brown House. Wait, you think that name is racist? Nope, it's descriptive. Here's a pic from Google Street View:

Of course this is an older picture.  Obama is building a security wall around the Brown House to keep the riff raff out.

You might be thinking while looking at that place it looks rather suburban and not quite up to type of place the Obamas are used to. I can tell you that nothing is further from the truth. One of the first 'survival jobs' I worked when I first moved to Northern Virginia was as a supervisor for a security guard company. We had guards all over the city, from pubic housing in South East DC (very dangerous,  even back then), to this area (The back gate to the Embassy of Qatar). I can tell you the houses here no shit, high class digs.

But, besides the Brown House being symbolically brown, paying tribute to the skin color which is what Obama's 'legacy' is based on (First Black President!), what else did I find ironic about this housing choice?

One thing that struck me about the choice was how many embassies were right next to the Brown House. It's almost like he is going to take up doing his new role as a past president by setting up his own embassy right there with the embassies of Oman, Guyana,  and Belize.

The second irony is of course the structure there in the bottom left of the map.. yep, Obama's new digs are just a short walk from DC's richest mosque! That can't be a coincidence.  Wink, wink, nod, nod, nothing to see here, move along,  move along..

I look forward to seeing how he settles in these new digs. Contrary to how we heard deafening silence from GWB at his ranch in Texas, I am betting we'll be hearing quite a lot coming out of the Brown House on embassy row.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Bearded Dragons

I recall that when I joined the Army, one of the very first realities of Army life was that I could not have a beard. Now granted, with my genetic background, I could not really grow a beard of any substance. In fact, I took advantage of the privilege of being able to have a mustache as soon as I finished Basic Training. In truth, it really didn’t work for me, but I still kept that affectation for 30 years until recently I decided to ditch it for a much younger looking clean shaven styling. 

Thus I was surprised when I read this article where it looks as if the Army has decided to relax the beard restrictions based on ‘sincerely held religious beliefs. The examples cited point specifically to Sikhs with beards and turbans

and conservative Muslim women with hijabs.

The article is slightly disingenuous. Sikhs have been able to wear beards and turbans since 2010. The change in the rules really just moves the authority to authorize alternate styles down to the unit commander. No, the real change not highlighted here is the ability of conservative Muslim women to wear hijabs; something that has never been granted before.  It remains to be seen if the regulation change will allow women to go full beekeeper suit (burka) or not. It seems to be a breach is security for soldiers to not be able to see the faces of their fellow soldiers. I am not sure what role a conservative Muslim woman can fulfill in the service where they are restricted from being seen in public without their spouse, but I really could care less what they wear.

That being said, I had to do some googling on the beard thing. I recalled that there was some logical explanation for why we had to shave, but I couldn’t recall the context. It turns out that we had to shave because the gas masks of that era would not seal properly if you had a beard. The regulation can into effect about the time of the Vietnam War, which makes sense as that is when those masks were put into service. I remember having to lug those mask around everywhere with me. They were a major pain, and I’d bet they were probably the most often lost piece of field gear ever. Here’s what they looked like:

Here’s what a modern gas mask looks like:

Frankly, I don’t see much a difference between the old and the new around the area where the masks seals at the bottom of the face where a beard would be grown. I suspect these mask were not designed to accommodate a person wearing a beard. I wonder if in the event of a gas attach, beard wearing soldiers will be required to quickly shave, then don their masks. Either that, or they are assumed an acceptable casualty loss. Alternatively, they will be issues ‘beard friendly’ MOPP gear. In that case, the Army will have to stock the type of masks that works with a beard.

Another question is just where the ‘sincerely held belief’ line stops. I mean these guys:

wear beards and, as anyone knows who watches the show, are deeply religious, and have very strong feelings about men wearing beards. In their culture, it is almost the norm and men who are clean shaven are viewed with suspicion. Will the new Army regulations take their sincerely held beliefs into account? Probably not, but of course they are not the demographic these changes are targeted by.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Hoof Beats and Zebras

You are all familiar with this right, the teaching analogy used by doctors? They are told “When you hear hoof beats, don’t think of zebras.” The point is that when they look at a patient, they should not immediately jump to the most obtuse malady that fits the symptoms, but should first try out the more obvious diagnosis. It’s a pretty good analogy that applies well to all situations that require critical thinking. 

If I had to pick a profession where critical thinking plays a major role, I would guess that news reporting falls pretty high on that scale. In general, I think that reporting is probably a pretty straight forward job. You gather up the facts, organize them in a way that makes sense to the consumer, and then present them. The main problem with news though is there is so much of it. So an editor has to decide what information is most likely to grab their audience’s attention, and what stories will hold it. Furthermore, the editors also have to decide how much of a story will fit in the window of time they have to present their news. It’s probably a very difficult job. Like most jobs, those that do it well are probably well compensated.

Thus we come to this story about a brutal attack on a special needs white guy attacked by a four black gentleman in Chicago. Now I am guessing that this kind of thing happens a lot, but what makes it even more heinous, beyond a special needs guy being on the receiving side of the assault, is that fact that they choose to broadcast the beating on Facebook. A note the here to denizens of Facebook: perhaps you should worry less about policing ‘fake news’ and immodesty on your site, and a little more about censoring the monsters that use your facilities to popularize this kind of behavior… just saying..

The larger story here is the editing that this story received in first the AP, and then later in the nightly news. If this had been 4 white guys beating up a retarded black guy, yelling ‘F*** Obama’, I am betting that it would have gotten widespread unedited coverage. Instead, what the monsters were saying was omitted, as well as the races of the individuals. There’s probably going to be a lot of ink on the conservative web sites about this, but I imagine the traditional press will continue sticking their ink stained fingers in their ears and humming ‘we shall overcome’ until the furor over this dies down.

But in that there is hope. Where the traditional press will not cover this, the conservative media will. The incident is getting noticed, and people – a lot of people – know what happened. This speaks volumes about the increasing divide between the traditional media and the ‘new media’. I for one have not watched a new presentation on TV in years, and have not read or purchased a newspaper in over 15 years. I suspect that anyone reading this has similar news consuming habits. In fact, I’d say that a majority of people now get their news from ‘alternative’ sources, making traditional news sources increasingly irrelevant. So while their failing to inform us of the real story behind this attack is disturbing, it really doesn’t matter to the vast majority of us. We know what happened, we know why it happened, and we will live accordingly.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Bomb, Bomb, Bomb

If the title set off a little tune in your head that sounds a little like the Beach Boys “Barbra Anne”, you can probably guess what I’m going to write about today. Thanks to Gizmodo, I saw a link to this story about a bunch of scientist saying Trump really needs to not tear apart the Iran nuclear deal. 

While I’m on the subject, am I the only one who has noticed that Gizmodo has gone full leftist since Trump got elected? I mean sure, they used to very occasionally have an article about global warming or some other liberal fantasy, but now it seems like every time I bother to look at their site, there’s a new unhinged rant from one their leftist writers howling about something Trump is doing that the don’t like. That’s a pretty sad development for me. I used to read through their postings almost daily, but now whenever I start to click on them, I stop and ask myself, “Do I really want to subject myself to their chimp-like Trump bashing?” Some days the answer is no. I suspect that I am not alone.

In any case, the above article talks about how a bunch of old overly educated white guys think the Iran nuclear deal was really great, will keep Iran from getting ‘the bomb’, and how Trump is going to undo it. First off, this agreement is so secret that no one really knows what’s in it. So, given that, how do these guys know it’s such a great deal? I do know that we gave them a crap load of cold hard cash, like an airplane full. Beyond that, I don’t think anyone knows what ‘the deal’ was comprised of. Did they agree to chill a little (or hide better) their nuclear development in exchange for funds for their bomb throwers around the world? We simply don’t know.

So what makes these guys experts on foreign policy? I get that a lot of them know a lot of the really hard stuff relating to math, physics, and chemistry. However, that doesn’t really qualify them as foreign policy wonks and the most appropriate way to apply diplomatic pressure on those governments that are clearly going to do things that as not in the best interest of the western world in general and the United States specifically. I’d say these guys should go back to their chalkboard squiggles and Bunsen burners if they are able and leave the foreign policy to the professionals.