Tuesday, June 27, 2017

You Never Know How Kids Are Going To Grow Up

... in this case, intellectual concept kids.

Immanuel Kant wrote his Critique of Pure Reason as a response to what he saw as the Enlightenment's threat to religion.

It is one of the foundational documents of Postmodernism.

Postmodernism is currently a gigantic threat to the faith and to civilization as well.

I think my man St. Thomas Aquinas inoculated the Church against any threats by pure reason quite nicely. Some Protestants, with their emphasis on Biblical literalism, were not so lucky.

Monday, June 26, 2017

So Much For Compassion In Illinois

Illinois is heading for insolvency and bankruptcy.


This being a math problem, you'd think that someone out there would be able to state it simply. "They borrowed and spent too much and now there's nothing they can do but cut the budget."

If they raise taxes, as Connecticut discovered, the people what pay the taxes will leave. If they borrow more money, they only postpone the inevitable and that for a very, very short time.

Instead, the media focuses on the "budget impasse" as if that mattered in the long run. Have a budget, don't have a budget, do what you want, Illinois. Funding is going to have to be cut and drastically. That's because borrowing is spending tomorrow's money. Well, tomorrow has just arrived for Illinois.

Way back when their credit rating was high, all of those wonderful spending increases paid for with debt were sold as compassionate. Only heartless people opposed them, greedy people, people who don't give a rat's rear end about the poor. Yep, that was people like me.

Now look. All those poor folks and students are getting whacked and good.

Too bad no one seems to be learning from it.

See also: Rico, Puerto.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Los Angeles - A Place To Avoid If At All Possible

Last night, we saw Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers at the Arroyo Seco Festival in Pasadena. He was awesome, but the crowd was, well, the crowd was a bunch of Los Angeles hipsters and airheads. Here's a snippet of the concert.


This was near the end of the concert, so it being LA, there was a steady stream of people leaving the place as he's playing so they can beat the traffic. It was festival seating, meaning we were all standing around. A quartet of LA airheads were gossiping loudly through the whole show. You can kind of hear them at the start of that video. During one song, the people in front of us decided to leave, so while Tom Petty is playing, they stand up and fight with their beach chairs for a few minutes, trying to get them to close to carry away. Then some friends run into them, also trying to leave and the group starts holding a loud conversation at the end of which they exchanged business cards.

I'm not kidding. They exchanged business cards. Unreal.

On the plus side, by the time the concert was 3/4 finished, enough of the crowd had left that we could move to a better spot. The airheads never left so their prattle polluted the whole show. What a pack of dingbats.

The biggest problem with LA is that it's the SoCal destination for so many great acts. Here in San Diego, we're cut off from many wonderful bands such Tom Petty and U2. They stop in LA and expect their San Diego fans to go up and mingle with a self-important dingledorks of Los Angeles in order to catch a show.

Sigh. At least Tom Petty was worth it. He's over 65 and put on a great performance. He must have played for nearly 2 hours.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Cat Photography

We're teaching the remarriage class for the Diocese today, so I don't have time for a normal and boring post. Instead, here's our Maximum Leader, doing what Maximum Leaders do: whatever they want.

We try to keep a sheet on her couch because she's a prodigious shedder.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Alcohol And Caffeine

Are they signs that you don't like yourself?

Alcohol and caffeine artificially change your mood. Isn't your mood an expression of self in the moment? I love them both and I love the way they make me feel for the first 30-60 minutes after consuming them. After that, all bets are off, but that hour of euphoria is terrific.

While drinking my morning cup of French press Columbian after having had a few pops the night before, it occurred to me that what I was doing was changing who I was. Subtly, but still, they change me. That's their whole point.

Wasn't I OK before them?

A growler and glass of Legacy Brewing's Hellfire IPA. It's excellent. Well, until you've had too many and then it's not so excellent.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

How Good Is Your Acting?

Like Micky, you're probably no Laurence Olivier yourself.


Dig these two tweets following the recent Georgia congressional election which was funded like a Super Bowl game. The first is from a progressive activist with 64,000 followers. The second was part of an excellent tweet series from a guy who lives in Georgia district 6.



If you hate people, it's a pretty good bet they know it. What do you think the atmosphere will be like for the progressive candidates in and around Georgia in the future?

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Rocking Matthew

Yesterday, I started listening to the New Testament, beginning with Matthew. Before I did, I decided to start with an anthem. This one, as a matter of fact.


It was a little act of cheery self-indulgence before starting the audiobook and then it hit me. It wasn't just a bit of fun, it was the perfect lead-in. That video is what it's all about.
This is what it is
This is who I am
This is where I finally take my stand
I didn't want to fall
But I don't have to crawl
I met the One with two scarred hands
Giving Him the best of everything that's left of
The life inside this man
I've been born again
What a wonderful thing this is! It feels so good to be a part of it, particularly when I actually practice my faith like when I work at Catholic Charities downtown. I love it.

As for Matthew, he's a gas. Very terse and declarative.
God and money. YOU CAN'T SERVE BOTH! DON'T EVEN TRY IT! Now on to the next topic.
I have to smile as I listen, it's just so great. Parts sound like someone reading bullet points from PowerPoint slides.

That's enough for today. I need to get to work. Take care!

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Odds And Ends - Religion, Politics And Photography

I couldn't take it any more so I changed my habit.

I got my coffee, gave the dogs their treats, fed our Maximum Leader and sat down with my laptop. I opened the Wall Street Journal. Screaming. I opened Instapundit. Screaming. I opened Twitter. Screaming. Enough!


I opened Lynda and started a course on photography. No screaming. Ahhhh. I've promised myself for years to learn photography, but I never have. I don't know the first thing, not even the terminology. I just drag my cameras around and blast away at stuff, getting a ton of shots from which I can find decent ones to post here. A four-year-old in a sandbox is more technically proficient that I am. Time to change that. Soon, I hope to be able to challenge middle-school kids with my mad skillz.

When I feel like returning to the screamfest that is our content-free politics, it will still be there.


I've been listening to the Catechism of the Catholic Church. It's good and all that, but having marinated in Catholic theology for years now, it's nothing new. I think I'm going to skip that and go to the source. I've never read the New Testament straight through and I've got it on Audible. A while back, I listened to the Acts of the Apostles in its entirety and I was amazed how it changed my world view. The complete story is so much more sophisticated than the snippets you might get at Mass.


I bought this yesterday. It's a dashboard / windshield mount for my GoPro Hero3.


I hope to make some interesting driving videos to share with you soon.


That's it for this episode of Odds and Ends. I hope you have a great, screaming-free day.

Monday, June 19, 2017

What Is The Meaning Of Life?

... is the question that manifests the very first part of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
The desire for God is written in the human heart, because man is created by God and for God; and God never ceases to draw man to himself. Only in God will he find the truth and happiness he never stops searching for:
The dignity of man rests above all on the fact that he is called to communion with God. This invitation to converse with God is addressed to man as soon as he comes into being. For if man exists it is because God has created him through love, and through love continues to hold him in existence. He cannot live fully according to truth unless he freely acknowledges that love and entrusts himself to his creator.
I tried listening to the Catechism about a year ago and couldn't muddle my way through it. For whatever reason, I'm able to consume it more readily now. In any case, this one jumped out at me right from the start.

The Catican Guards don't wonder about the meaning of life. At least I don't think they do. Instead, in the morning, they wonder if Poppy is going to get up right now, go downstairs and give them treats while he makes his coffee. At night, they wonder if Mommy will finally turn off whatever she's binge-watching and go to bed so they can cuddle with her. In the afternoon, they wonder if this is the day the mailman will attempt to gas them so he can come inside and kidnap and torture us.

They do not wonder about abstract things like meaning, but we do. There may or may not be a God. We may all be random chemicals gathered together to form "humans" who watch LSU football games for no real reason at all. Still, we wonder why we're here. To me, that seems like the desire for God the Catechism mentions in the first section. After all, if He exists as the Church says, then He is unquestionably the meaning of life and He satisfies that very human hunger.

Here, the Guards aren't wondering about the meaning of life, they're wondering if they can go back upstairs and sleep with Mommy a little more.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

The Catholic Church And Postmodernism

Epiphany Alert: I recently watched the Jordan Peterson lecture below and it radically changed how I see things.


At his suggestion, I went to Amazon and bought Explaining Postmodernism and it's as awesome as he says.

It's Father's Day, upon which I wish a happy day to all fathers out there, but it also means I get to cook whatever I want for dinner. I've got a whole chicken to cut up and marinade for Jerk Chicken tonight and after that I want to test out my MGB headlight wiring harness, so this will be quick.

The Central Problem for Catholicism in 2017

Postmodernism says there are no such things as Truth, objectivity or even logic. The Church says there are. Without an agreement that there is such a thing as Truth, there's practically no point to the Church. If everything is relative and everyone has their own reality, then the Catechism is just a bunch of dudes in robes trying to tell people how to live their lives.

Evangelism, then, is not about "how do you know this is what we should do?" but "how do you know there is something we should do?" I would argue that once you convince someone that objectivity and Truth exist, the Church has a huge advantage. As long as each person's reality is self-defined, you're pretty much hosed.

Going back to the Benedict Option posts, the strategy the sagacious and kind-hearted Rod Dreher is suggesting is that we crawl into bunkers and wait for Postmodernism to self-destruct. That could get very, very ugly. Without logic and objectivity, you get a society of screaming, violent mobs.

Sort of like what they've got at Evergreen State University.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

A Prayer To The Holy Spirit

Let us pray.

Oh Holy Spirit, Guider and Giver of Wisdom, I pray that today you bring me the fortitude and judgment that I so desperately lack and aid me in my efforts to stop singing and humming Beautiful Dreamer for it is tempting me to the sin of Wrath. It is like unto a worm in my ear and won't come out for all that I may do. I know that with Your divine help, I will be able to overcome this horrible malady.

Amen.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Coachella 1943

Last night, we watched Stormy Weather (1943). It was my first foray into negro cinema and I loved it. I've recently started listening to a Fats Waller Pandora station which is likewise fantastic. Fats died of pneumonia on a train coming back from Hollywood after the triumphant opening of Stormy Weather in which he has a role.

Everyone in the movie is black. As far as I know, almost everyone who worked on it was black. It was made for black audiences. As an aside, the illegitimacy rate for blacks at the time was about 15%. It's a wildly different world and if you watch it, you need to get out of a 2017 mindset and try to immerse yourself in the culture of the past. The movie could never be made today for a variety of reasons, all cultural.

The movie is really a series of performances by about 8 of the biggest colored musical, dance and comedy acts of the era, tied together with a very thin story line. I enjoyed what little acting the cast got to do. The whole thing was delightful.

As I watched it, I tried to put my finger on just what it was. I finally figured out an analogy. These days, one can go to a music festival and see a bunch of bands in succession. Stormy Weather is a celluloid version of a music festival. It's Coachella in 1943. Lena Horne is the headliner with Fats and Cab Calloway providing a couple of numbers as well. Other acts get one performance each and all save the Cake Dance are terrific. The Cake Dance was simply alien, part of a bygone era that I couldn't comprehend.

Below is one of the performances that blew me away. I'm sure it blew away the white musicians of the time as well. I could see Louis Prima and Harry James being deeply influenced by the artistry of the performers. I can't tell if I prefer Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly over the dancers in the movie. I think Astaire and Kelly give better routines, but is that because they had more money for more takes? Who knows. In any case, enjoy. And take some time to watch it if you get a chance. It's available on Amazon video.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Honolua Bay

This is my absolute favorite from the photos we took on Maui last week. I left it really large, so if you click and see the full-scale version, you ought to be able to make our details on the deck of the sailboat. Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Don't Feed The Animals, Alexandria Edition

A quick addition to yesterday's post on feeding those political obsessives who are prone to violence is today's news that a Bernie Bro shot at a group of Republican congressmen playing baseball, wounding one and a couple of cops to boot. The guy's Facebook feed was full of sweet, delicious, political hate. I haven't looked into the sites he's reported to have followed, but I have no doubt they're jammed with accusations of racism, homophobia and Islamophobia on the part of those horrible conservatives.

Well.

The thing we really need to be worried about is a possible backlash, you know.

What jumped out at me is the utter nothingness of the moment. We have full employment, a rising stock market, no new wars, no environmental crises, no natural disasters and the Russia-Trump collusion thing turned out to be a soap bubble that just popped. We're all struggling with ... what? I'd bet you could turn off the news and pundits for a month* and nothing would have happened that affected your life when you turned them on again.

That's enough to make anyone start shooting. Resist! Or maybe not.

Seriously, this is about the depths of our national crisis.
* - Well, not me. You need to visit The Scratching Post daily, no matter what. Turn everyone else off, though.

Update: Someone else did the research on one of the shooter's groups, "Terminate the Republican Party." Here you go.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Don't Feed The Animals

Yesterday, during my lunchtime constitutional, I listened to this episode of the Glenn Show. It was my first introduction to the podcast and I'm going to give it a try from now on. It was two black academics, one from Brown and one from Cornell discussing race and current affairs. They're very impressive thinkers.

Sigh. They seem like such nice boys. I wonder what they might teach us if they could get past the color of their skins. Oh well.

In any case, they both registered surprise and fear at the violence from the campus lefties. They'd experienced the hate on their Twitter feeds as well, almost all from the left. This did not prevent them from saying that what they really feared was a reaction from the right, but that's par for the course.

They were a funny, in a humorous way, mix of far-sighted wisdom and hopelessly ignorant myopia. I had to laugh a couple of times at their innocent revelations of the way living in a progressive bubble had warped their thinking. It wasn't that they didn't accept others' points of view, it's that in many cases they didn't fundamentally understand them or had a grade-school comprehension of them. The podcast desperately needed Jonah Goldberg or Charles Murray.

These are minor criticisms, however. If you've got a half hour, I highly recommend it. Glenn Loury and John McWhorter were excellent.

Getting to the point: What they missed in the leftist violence section of their discussion was that they had been feeding the animals for a long time. If I live around Julian here in the mountains of eastern San Diego and I put out big bowls of cat food for the local ferals, I know enough to expect mountain lions to eventually show up. That's what these two have done with their endless focus on race. Put enough of that out there and eventually it will feed people who have a natural bent towards violence. You're just giving them an excuse to release their natural rage and take it out on the "oppressors."

I mentioned the real risk we take when we feed our audience the raw meat of injustice on a daily basis in this post.
If everyone is agitated about everything, if some percentage of "everyone" tends to fits of rage, then aren't we just asking for physical altercations, a la the ANTIFA riots?
ANTIFA and the Evergreen State tantrum-throwers are the mountain lions in my analogy. The residents of Julian are sufficiently experienced to know the mountain lions are out there and attracting them is a very, very bad idea. I guess we've not yet learned that lesson in our politics or use of social media*.

Here, we see one of the leaders of the Evergreen State protests.
* - That includes me. As a natural polemicist, My raw meat distribution probably means I need to register for a wholesaler license.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Stairs

I tried some experiments in Adobe Premiere this morning with running water video I shot on Maui, but the results were disappointing. Instead, there's this. A set of stairs that look like they could have been in cold Ireland, but instead were in the warm Hawaiian Islands. I like the perspective, looking up, as if you're wondering what's at the top. Enjoy!

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Wildfires Of Hate And The Benedict Option

Well, hate and lies. My lie, to be precise. In my last Benedict Option post, I kind of promised a payoff, but this isn't quite it. That's coming, just not this time.

Also, I apologize for what I know in advance will be a tl;dr post. I need to get this out, so here it goes.

This is almost, and I really mean it this time, the payoff to the series of posts I've been doing responding to Rod Dreher's The Benedict Option wherein Rod lays out a plan for remaining faithful to orthodoxy in a culture increasingly hostile to religion. So far, we have:
Rod, for whom I have tremendous, if distant, love and respect, has an outstanding article in The American Conservative called The Storm Before The Storm. It discusses the way American society is fracturing along political, racial and sexual lines. Here's the part that I want to discuss.
The rising Left is bound and determined to crush or at least permanently sideline people it deems heretics — in particular, whites, males, orthodox Christians, and skeptics of the LGBT project. It does not want a pluralistic modus vivendi; it wants total domination. The establishment Left lacks the will to stop them. Its members are terrified of appearing un-woke. All a major corporation has to do to buy off the Left is declare itself in favor of Pride, and so forth...

The real glue holding the dynamic Left together is hatred of the Other. You can see this in part from the Dissent editors’ unwillingness to explore any kind of alliance around economic issues with the right-wing dissidents of American Affairs. For them, the culture war is of such paramount importance that it precludes economic-based alliances...

Those orthodox Christians who understand the radical nature of the crisis before us will devote themselves to building up their faith, communities, institutions, and ways of life to be resilient and resolute in the face of American decline. I call this the Benedict Option. The politics of the future may be more left-wing or right-wing, but they will be increasingly anti-Christian. Keeping our heads clear and our hearts stout during this long time of trial will be the most important task facing Christians in this new Dark Age.
The hatred of heretics is the key. It is virulent, violent and growing in power. Like a brush fire, it will consume and destroy much. Also, like a brush fire, it is unsustainable. If you haven't kept up with the progressive tarantism at Evergreen State College in Washington, here's a brief summary.
Since May 23, the 4,089-student public liberal arts college in Olympia, Washington, has been embroiled in what the media euphemistically call "student protests" over perceived racial grievances. At Evergreen State that has actually meant: invading a professor's class to taunt him with charges of racism; occupying the library and the college president's office while the campus police, ordered to stand down, barricade themselves in their headquarters; delivering F-bombs, derision, and assorted demands—firing the police chief, confiscating the guns of the rest of the police, setting up mandatory race-oriented "cultural competency" training for the faculty, excusing the protesters from their end-of-term assignments, and providing free gumbo for a radical potluck—to the cornered president, George Bridges; and creating such a threatening atmosphere for the professor in question, evolutionary biologist Bret Weinstein (another target of the firing demands), that he had to hold his class on May 25 in a public park in downtown Olympia. 
Evergreen may be a relatively extreme case, but it's not unique. Differences between it and the Ivy League schools and other elite universities are one of degree, not kind. The madness is widespread. Want to see what it looks like? Search for the college on YouTube and you'll see plenty of candid videos of the raw hate that motivates the dynamic left described by Rod. Like this one, shot during an occupation of the offices of the president of the university, here seen cravenly surrendering to children.


This is the wildfire at its peak. It's burning trees, shrubs, houses, even offices of university presidents. There's something else that stands out dramatically in the video. Can you spot it?

There's nothing rational. It's not just emotional, it's all emotion. That kind of thing can't go on. You can't base a society on feelings, particularly feelings of rage. Note that the children are going nonlinear at a man who is utterly sympathetic to their underlying, invented grievances. Where do you go after that?

Here's a bonus tidbit from Twitter today. Black Lives Matter disrupting a Gay Pride parade in DC to protest ... I don't know what. As far as I can make out the chanting, it's racism in the police force - a police force that has painted gay rainbow emblems on their cars.
Getting back Rod's "Dark Age" we're facing, I would definitely agree in his diagnosis, but he's missing the dynamics at play. The rage and hate are consuming all of the fuel and it's not hard to imagine a point where the "normals," as Kurt Schlichter calls us, tune it out sufficiently to starve it of attention to the point where it subsides. The blacks are raging at the gays, the students are devouring supportive professors, the media is being eaten by the web, but there's one more piece.

Academia is being consumed by illogic. At the universities where they teach this rubbish, they have surrendered reason, fact and discussion. How far can that go? How long can you teach things that conflict with reality and refuse to consider other opinions? Can a university system survive after it discards debate?

This movement is near its end. This is the last, huge spasm of flames and destruction. The progressive, secular left is exhausted and is spending its energy in incoherent screaming.

Everyone wants meaning in their lives. Where is the meaning here? To me, the situation isn't ripe for retreat, but it's almost ripe for a counter-attack of evangelism. Things look darkest before the dawn and all that.

The loons are noisy and chaotic, but they're still loons. Lunatics can't build or sustain anything, they can only destroy and these are reaching the end of what they can wreck. We absolutely must "devote themselves to building up their faith, communities, institutions, and ways of life," not to hide in bunkers, but to prepare ourselves to spread the Word to a world of spent pagans.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

The Most Surprising Thing From The Comey Testimony

... can be derived from this.
Here is Chuck Todd, a perfectly average media droid who no doubt cleaves to the orthodox catechism of the left with almost complete fidelity, his few heresies probably left unspoken, giving his take on a collection of the topmost rank of our "elites" whacking away on each other in a hearing. "(N)othing about today was good for anyone, period."

That this does not cause Chuck a moment's reflection is itself amazing. His faith in the secularist religion is that deep. Personally, I have to admit, that the Catholic priest pedophilia scandal caused me significant heartburn. Still, even at the depths of the cover-ups and filth, it was humans being sinful and did not attack the core of the belief like this does.

The core of the progressive secular belief, where salvation comes from government and politics, is that the elites are in fact elite and therefore qualified to rule over us. This hearing and the circus surrounding it for the last 6 months should do nothing but wash away the foundations of this faith.

The elites, in short, are nincompoops.

Whether it's CNN and the New York Times, both giants of their industries, losing their marbles over an impossible Trump-Russia collusion story, Trump himself tweeting like a 12-year-old girl, our representatives turning their bodies into rumor mills and gossip houses or pundits on both sides giving us whiplash from repeated, abrupt reversals of positions, this whole thing is a perfect example of why they should all be kept as far away as possible from power over our lives.

I wouldn't want any of these idiots giving me directions to the nearest gas station, much less telling me what kind of health insurance I have to buy or how I must educate my children.

I'm willing to bet that no one in the media or academia will come to this conclusion. That's because this is a religion and they are its followers.

Friday, June 09, 2017

Purple Iris

I shot this fellow at a botanical garden on Maui. I like the effect of looking up one of the petals at the heart of the flower. I left it rather large, so it might be worth a click. Enjoy!

Thursday, June 08, 2017

Separation Of Church And State Is An Illusion

According to the state of Connecticut, this is a woman.


Details here. It's a dude who won a race by posing as a girl.

This is a perfect example of progressive secularism as the state religion. It is the belief in something that is simply not true, that belief adhering to a catechism instead of science. It even includes fear of expressing heresies.
Kate Hall — who last year won the girls 100-meter dash Class M state title as a sophomore — came in second to Yearwood at this year’s 100-meter race and was tearful in the aftermath, the Hartford Courant reported.

“It’s frustrating,” Hall of Stonington High School told the Courant. “But that’s just the way it is now.”

After finishing third in the 200 — and watching Yearwood cross the finish line first in that race as well — Hall told the Courant, “I can’t really say what I want to say, but there’s not much I can do about it."
I would argue that this is far worse than 10 Commandments plaques or crosses on buildings as neither of those examples punish apostasy and heresy with the same vehemence. You can walk past the 10 Commandments and shake your head, ignore it or make snarky comments, but woe be to him or her that utters the horrible truth that dude looks like a lady.

Actually, when you come to think about it, dude isn't even bothering to try to look like a lady. Oh well. I really just wanted an excuse to post this video. Enjoy it while you still can. It might be considered too transgressive and get blocked by YouTube.

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

A Dog Can Express Disbelief

I never thought so until last night when we got home from a week on Maui.

Bodie, the larger Catican Guard and Leah, the larger of the Chihuahua mixes, pranced around in joy when we arrived, but Lily, aka Grandma*, crouched in utter amazement. She had clearly written us off. It was like we had come back from the dead. She was so happy, but she didn't want to show it as if she was afraid she might break the spell and we would disappear again. In fact, if we had disappeared right before her eyes, I doubt she would have been any more surprised.

After about 20 minutes of disoriented, delirious happiness, she was her normal self again. It was beautiful.

Lily in calmer times.
* - We call her Grandma because, while she's a 1-year-old, she behaves like a little, old woman. She eats her food deliberately, one nugget at a time. She doesn't really like to go for walks, she'd prefer to stay home and cuddle. She's a bit chubby, too.

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Do You Want Sharia?

... is the only question worth asking either politicians or citizens. All decisions flow from that one answer.

The follow-up to someone saying, "No, I don't want Sharia" is this - "Then what are you willing to do to stop it?" There are all kinds of ways to end up in Sharia. It hardly matters how we get there in the end. Being cowed into gradual acceptance through terror attacks is only one way.

I've blogged tediously, but I repeat myself, about this before. The Caliphate Is Coming To France had this tidbit.
Modern warfare in the West is fought at the ballot box. A voting majority can impose their will on the rest of the population like an invading army. I'm sure there are constitutional limits to what elected officials can do in France, but they exist here, too, and they appear pretty easy to brush aside. Amendments 1, 2 and 5 are all threatened these days and not by wild-eyed radicals. The California constitution briefly included a definition of marriage that was struck down by judicial whim. In the post-modern, secular West, a constitution doesn't provide much protection when the majority wants to exert its power.
In Nation Building In Europe, I blathered on thusly.
If you can't do nation-building in a majority-Muslim country in the Middle East and produce a liberal democracy, what makes you think you'll be able to do it when a European country becomes majority-Muslim?
The terror attacks are indeed a big deal, but they are the symptom, not the disease. While the individual attackers are more interested in the personal gain of 72 virgins, the community that bred them is almost certainly intent on Sharia. Dig this.
(A)s explained by Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, perhaps the world’s most influential Sunni sharia scholar, “secularism can never enjoy a general acceptance in an Islamic society,” because “the acceptance of secularism means abandonment of Shari’ah, a denial of the divine guidance and a rejection of Allah’s injunctions.” Qaradawi elaborated (in his book, How the Imported Solutions Disastrously Affected Our Ummah), “Islam is a comprehensive system of workship (Ibadah) and legislation (Shari’ah).” Thus: “The call for secularism among Muslims is atheism and a rejection of Islam. Its acceptance as a basis for rule in place of Shari’ah is downright apostasy.”
So is Sharia OK? Instead of screaming at each other, something of which I am most certainly guilty, we ought to read up on Sharia and see if we can live under it. If not, then there are very serious questions we must answer and soon. Well, maybe not soon in the nations where we've maintained some amount of sanity such as America, Poland and the rest of Eastern Europe, but it would be a useful exercise for us to help clarify our thoughts.

An additional benefit of asking and discussing the question is that it tones down the debate and ought to give us all a point on which we agree. It's a lot easier to communicate civilly when you start on common ground. If you do engage in an online debate about a recent terror attack or the topic in general and you ask this question, I'd be interested in hearing how it went.

Somehow, I just don't think that 72 virgin thing is going to end up as advertised.

Monday, June 05, 2017

We Must Unite!

... and then we will ... what?

Preface: Maybe we'll unite to tell each other how much we continue to avow multiculturalism, tolerance and diversity. Of course, we won't all unite. After all, that's the point of this whole Islamist attack thing - not everyone wants to unite. It's kind of like a war where there are two sides and at least one side doesn't want to unite at all. Yes, it could be said to be like a war. Not completely, mind you. In order for it to be a war, I think both sides have to be willing to fight.

Tra-la-la. On with the post.

The WaPo, having gone completely crazy with their hatred of Trump, had this article after the most recent* London attack.
World leaders call for unity after London attack. Trump tweets the complete opposite.
It contained this bit of non-ironic idiocy.
Before London police or anyone else had announced that the attack was linked to terrorism — the president of the United States retweeted an unsourced blurb from Drudge.com: “Fears of new terror attack after van 'mows down 20 people' on London Bridge.”
Of course, Trump was right and the world leaders and media were ... what do you call it when you can't bring yourself to say the obvious? Wishful thinking? Faith in a failed secular religion?

Julian King, who is no less than the European Commissioner for the Security Union, tweeted this gibberish.
So we're going to stand together, are we? Is that just so we make a more inviting target for the Islamists? How about this bit of advice from the British police to the sheep people they're unable to protect?


Pathetic. In every attack, the "victims" outnumber the attackers by tens to one. The poster ought to say, "Grab something and attack!" The Islamists know almost none of us are going to fight back and they'll be shooting fish in a barrel until the cops arrive and send them to meet Allah. Things might go a bit differently if every Islamist attack resulted in scenes from a zombie movie where everyone attacks them at once in a human wave. A few of these swine torn limb from limb and carried about by a triumphant crowd might deter the next ones.

Meanwhile, we need to put aside any thoughts of group self-defense and stand together. To me, that means we all need to set aside our differences and think alike - thoughts of diversity being our strength and tolerance for all. Or should I say thoughts of nonsense and ignorance.

Some wag on Free Republic put together this graphic, perfect for those who want to stand together.


This is all prelude, of course. The real thing starts when the Islamists begin to use stand off weapons like mortars so they can lob in a few shells and then disappear without being caught. Things, oddly enough, are pretty limited right now as the point of the attacks is more than just the slaughter, it's the theatrical sacrifice of their lives to Allah. When it stops being a stage for drama queens and starts being a real terrorist campaign, things will take a dramatic turn.

By the way, British police have identified 23,000 potential Jihadis. In England. We just caught 12 of them. Say, this unity thing is going to last a while, isn't it?

* - As opposed to all the previous London attacks. If you're reading this in the slightly-distant future, this refers to the London Bridge attack where people were run over and stabbed, not any of the London attacks that have happened between the date of this post and whenever you're reading it.

Sunday, June 04, 2017

Green Sea Turtle

We hung out with this character yesterday as well as a few of his friends. We snorkeled from a boar and the difference was amazing. Farther off shore, the visibility is probably 3x what it is by the beach. There's just less sand, flora detritus and turmoil to make the water hazy. It cost a bit to take the boat, but it was well worth it.

Saturday, June 03, 2017

Torch Ginger

... seen on a hike somewhere on the road to Hana. I left it fairly large, so it might be worth a click. Enjoy!

Friday, June 02, 2017

Moorish Idols And Triggerfish

I tried something new with the GoPro yesterday when we went snorkeling. In the past, I've husbanded the battery and memory card carefully by turning the camera off or turning off recording when nothing was worth filming. That led to a lot of fussing with the camera underwater.

This time, I turned it on when we got in the water, pressed record and never touched it again. That worked out just fine as the battery and memory card have longer underwater life than I do. No fussing with the thing and when I got back to the hotel room, a quick session with Adobe Premiere got me a clip I could use.

We went north this time to Honolua Bay and Napili. Whether it was the location or the day, the wind was calmer and the water was great, if a bit murky. Turtles were reported by other snorkelers, but we didn't run into any. Napili was particularly good and might be our new favorite spot, though I will always have a fondness for Ulua Beach in the south.

As you can see from the video below, there's still room for improvement. I used my stick with the GoPro which allows you to get the camera closer to the subject, but it shakes pretty badly. Thankfully, YouTube corrects for that at the expense of some clarity. They now make scuba masks with GoPro mounts on top and that seems promising. I might buy one when I get back to San Diego. Freeing up my hands would be great.

The other thing I want to try while we're here is boat snorkeling where they take you out to a reef offshore and let you paddle around there for a while. There are lots of reefs and lots of boats, so now it's a matter of finding a good one. By getting farther offshore, I think you get away from the cloudy water that comes from decaying plant material off the land. We'll see.

In the meantime, enjoy. I shot in HD, so it's best in fullscreen mode.


Thursday, June 01, 2017

Odds And Ends From Maui

Had our first full day on Maui yesterday. Visited two of our favorite snorkel spots, Ulua Beach and Cape Kinau. The trade winds picked up early, so visibility was poor and the water got rough. I didn't bring my GoPro as I haven't used it in a year and need this morning to sort it out. I'm really hoping to get some good videos from our snorkeling.

Coming back from Cape Kinau on the south end of the island, we stopped at Makena Beach. The surf was up, but it was all shore breaks. The dude below was catching some waves, but his rides were 5 seconds at most. Boogie boarders were catching waves and getting slammed into the sand 1-2 seconds later. In San Diego, the waves break much, much farther from shore so the rides are longer and you don't eat sand afterwards.


More thoughts from yesterday's post on the education apocalypse in Baltimore


Here's the post. Short version: 4 Baltimore high schools and 1 middle school have no one, repeat no one who tested as proficient in English or Math. To reinforce the point that politics and Draconian budget cuts aren't the problem, recall that from Grade 4 to high school graduation, these kids lived under the compassionate and enlightened policies of the Obama Administration, not the savage, dog-eat-dog social Darwinism of George W. Bush. I suppose you could claim that the damage was done in the K-3 time period, but that seems like a bit of a stretch.

Also, at no time did any Republicans wield any significant power in local politics where these schools are managed.

Since 97% of scientists agree that the presence of Confederate war memorials cause mumble mumble mumble, I propose we take the statue of Robert E. Lee that was just removed from New Orleans and erect it with great pomp and ceremony in downtown Baltimore. Then, after a week of sit-ins and marches, we tear it down with even greater pomp and ceremony, confirming our devotion to eliminating the scourge of white supremacism. That's got to work, right?

Finally, in all seriousness, now what? One presumes that this year was not a wild outlier. What do you do with graduating class after graduating class coming out functionally illiterate and unemployable for everything save night watchman jobs? Ignoring the emotional and psychological scars these kids have piled up on them from the dystopian social structure where no traditional families exist, the violence of their neighborhoods and the gut-wrenching knowledge that they know practically nothing, but the schools promoted them anyway, what now?

If you ask me, tearing down Confederate statues won't be enough. This problem isn't going to be solved with anything short of digging up the graves of the entire Army of Virginia and desecrating their bones.