Las Vegas Shooting

I had a long night last night, after putting my wife on the jet plane heading back to the UK — a separation that will end only by the UK government finally granting me a permanent visa to live there, or April of next year, whichever comes first. And which they are taking forever to decide upon, by the way.  I stayed up until 5 am watching her flight on FlightAware.com, while playing World of Warships as a distraction, just to have some continuing connection with her. With all that, I was blissfully unaware of what happened in Las Vegas that night, until just a few minutes ago.

Well, I thought I was bummed by my wife’s departure, but now it’s far worse. The figure I have heard so far is SIXTY killed!!!  I haven’t delved into further reports at this time because the media is notorious for outputting incorrect information in their initial reports — apparently, they have already reported incorrectly that the shooter was a woman. Anyway, I assume the number of dead will go up before this is over.  I really don’t want to know any more at the moment.  This is horrid.  I’ll wait for the real information to firm up, thanks.  And I better stay away from Facebook for awhile, too. It would just rile me up to no good purpose.

The audio I heard on one report seemed to indicate a fully automatic weapon — something very rare, since civilian ownership of full auto weapons is highly restricted. And of course the usual liberal lefty screams of “gun control!” will be emitted. And like the British with the Dunblane incident and the Aussies with the Port Arthur massacre, the Democratic party is going to go into full tilt Gun Control Mode on this one. Depending upon the circumstances, of course. If this turns out to be a terrorist incident, perhaps it won’t go quite the way I think it will.

And I shall be praying for those who lost friends and family members, as well as those who were injured in this horrific event.

As for the shooter or shooters — may they soon have an appointment with an executioner.

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Fake News is For Sale!

The Scream

While scouting Facebook today, I noticed that one of my FB friends, an Italian surgeon who works in the UK, had posted a photo of Prime Minister Theresa May’s cabinet that features a painting in the background — the famous Edvard Munch painting, “The Scream“.  Here is the post for your delectation:

MayCabinetScreamMarioPost

Ironically, the original poster had this to say: “You couldn’t make it up”. And as it turned out, it was made up.  The actual background painting?

MayCabinetScreamActualBackground

I’ve not been able to work out who the young lady in the painting is supposed to be — at first, I thought it might be Queen Victoria — but this turns out not to be the case.  Not that it matters a great deal.  It turns out that this particular room (presumably in the Parliament building) is commonly used for such group photos, and they vary the painting somewhat.

Now, what has this to do with Fake News being For Sale?

It turns out that I had the idea that there must be a domain named fakenews.com, so I went looking for it.  And yes, it is out there!

http://fakenews.com/

FakeNewsWebsite

I followed some of these links, but I really couldn’t determine if they were fake news or not.  Scrolling all the way down to the bottom of the page, I discovered that this domain is actually for sale!  And I’d guess, by appearances at least, that this site has a random set of political links just to demonstrate, uh, something.  I guess what the page might look like if it were something like The Drudge Report?  Anyway, the link at the bottom of the page goes to NameAlpha.com, a company that deals in internet domain names.  And they are asking for a lot of money for this domain. The lowest offer they will accept for consideration is “six figures”, and presuming they are dealing in US Dollars, they want to hear a minimum of $100,000 in offer for the domain.

PurchaseFakeNews

Now, I don’t know how long they have had this domain offered for sale, but I’d guess since it’s been available long enough for me to see it, and since “fake news” has been a “thing” for many months, the demand has not been strong.

But there it is, if you want to buy it!

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Settled Status a “Damp Squib”?

Oh, for crying out loud.

Brexit!  Yes, that’s apparently going to happen eventually.  If you don’t know what that is about, don’t bother reading any further because I’m not going to explain it — try Wikipedia on Brexit.  Then come back and read on.

One of the questions needing resolution is the status of those who are not UK citizens but are European Union citizens living in the UK.  The British government proposes to let those who have been in the UK for at least five years stay in the UK after Brexit takes full effect and proposes to give them “Settled” status.  Those who have been there less than five years will be allowed to stay and will become eligible to apply for “Settled” status after they have been there for five years.  There’s a bit more to it than that (see the official UK government page for a full description of the proposal), but that’s the nutshell.

It seems fair to me!  After all, as the Yank husband of a native-born British citizen, they didn’t just hand me gratis permission to become “Settled”: I’ve had to pay a non-trivial and non-refundable fee to apply for “Settled” status, along with documenting my life in detail, and have been waiting months for them to decide whether or not I’m safe to let into the country on a permanent basis.  All those EU citizen types who are there already are getting a very sweet deal!

But BBC News reports that European Parliament chief Brexit negotiator Guy Verhofstadt says this proposal is a “damp squib”!  I’m still struggling to figure out what “damp squib” means in this context, but he clearly doesn’t think much of the proposal.  I don’t know why since the proposal seems more than fair to me.

Mr. Verhofstadt has said of the UK proposal:

“It creates a type of second class citizenship for European Citizens in the UK.  We don’t see why their rights should be diminished and that would be the case in the proposal.”

Well, I’ve read the proposal, and I don’t see it.  For one thing, EU citizens in the UK aren’t second-class citizens even now, because they’re not citizens in the first place!  So Verhofstadt’s complaint is a contradiction in its own terms.  I’ve read the British government’s proposal completely, and as far as I can see, no rights at all are proposed to be diminished.  What the EU proposes for UK citizens in the EU seems possibly more generous than the UK’s proposal, but if the EU were to mirror the UK proposal in the EU’s own proposal, I don’t think this would be at all a problem.

This particular teapot tempest reminds one forcibly of why British voters chose to get out of the EU.  Because the EU is a festering pile of bureaucratic nonsense that is only going to get worse over time.  And it’s becoming more clear day after day.

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Cultural Appropriation Boomerangs!

I’ve been too busy (or lazy) to post much over the last few months, but this morning something made me simultaneously disgusted and amused at the same time.  It was a little news item about Chanel (you know, the perfume people) featuring a rather overpriced boomerang on their website.

The HuffPost featured this little gem complaining about “cultural appropriation” over the boomerang, a quote from which is:

The National Museum of Australia credits souvenir boomerangs with helping to solidify the tool’s status as a national symbol. However, appropriation by way of slapping on a Chanel logo and charging an obscene amount of money is just wrong.

And here I am wondering: What’s wrong about it?

As it turns out, the boomerang is not exclusively Australian.  By its generic name, “throwing stick”, it has been used by many ancient cultures over the millennia, as the Wikipedia article on Boomerangs points out:

Though traditionally thought of as Australian, boomerangs are also found in ancient Europe, Egypt, and North America. Hunting sticks discovered in Europe, seem to have formed part of the Stone Age arsenal of weapons. One boomerang that was discovered in Jaskinia Obłazowa in the Carpathian Mountains in Poland was made of mammoth’s tusk and is believed, based on AMS dating of objects found with it, to be about 30,000 years old. In the Netherlands, boomerangs have been found in Vlaardingen and Velsen from the first century BC. King Tutankhamen, the famous Pharaoh of ancient Egypt, who died over 3,300 years ago, owned a collection of boomerangs of both the straight flying (hunting) and returning variety.

No one knows for sure how the returning boomerang was invented, but some modern boomerang makers speculate that it developed from the flattened throwing stick, still used by the Australian Aborigines and other indigenous peoples around the world, including the Navajo in North America. A hunting boomerang is delicately balanced and much harder to make than a returning one. The curving flight characteristic of returning boomerangs was probably first noticed by early hunters trying to “tune” their throwing sticks to fly straight.

In short, complaints that Chanel has “culturally appropriated” something is just plain wrong!

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Hacked Clinton Emails — So What?

In one news source, The Guardian, there appears the following about the leaked Hillary Clinton emails:

The releases were highly damaging to Clinton, and US intelligence officials now believe they were hacked by Russia and passed to WikiLeaks to boost Trump’s bid for the White House. Assange has repeatedly declined to be drawn on the source of the hacked emails he published.

Roger Stone, a longtime Republican operative and associate of Trump, said in August that he had been in communication with Assange over an “October surprise” to foil Clinton. WikiLeaks began publishing emails hacked from the Democratic National Committee and the email account of Clinton’s campaign chairman, John Podesta, in October.

It is impossible to know how much the email disclosures affected the outcome of the race, but there is little doubt the revelations harmed Clinton’s prospects during the crucial last weeks of the campaign.

Well, boo hoo.  I happen to believe that the emails made no material difference in the final outcome, but what if they had?

What would rather have, an elected President who had come to the office through dealing illegitimately with an opponent, or knowledge that revealed her venality and that contributed to her loss?  The Democrats are whining like nobody’s business over the leaks, and blaming them for the loss, but why the hell are they doing that instead of doing what they should be doing?  Ask yourself if they are more disturbed over their bad behavior, or disturbed that their bad behavior was found out.  Trust me, it’s the latter, not the former.  They are not in the least ashamed of their behavior.

Now go tell me that Trump is deplorable.  At least he has the grace to let it all hang out so that everyone knows what he thinks, warts and all.  Thank goodness nobody has managed to pry his Twitter account out of his hands.

Mind you, I still think that the FBI and CIA or whatever alphabet soup agency is in charge of such things will thoroughly investigate how the Russians managed to hack Clinton’s emails.  And I’d like to know what Roger Stone had been talking to Mr. Assange about, and if he had been involved in the hacking or merely knew about it.  But I can pretty much guarantee you that the reason the Russians could provide the emails to WikiLeaks is because of Clinton’s own nonchalant and incompetent disregard for security in her email servers.  Which is another good reason to regard her as too much of a security risk to be President.

 

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No, Those Weren’t Nuclear Bombers

In response to North Korea’s recent test of a nuclear weapon, according to most news outlets, “the United States reportedly planned to send two nuclear-capable supersonic bombers to the South in a show of force against Pyongyang”.  (USA Today)

Well, no.

With the removal of nuclear arming and fusing hardware on all B-1s in 1995, the aircraft is no longer capable of delivering nuclear munitions.  I suppose that they could be re-equipped to do so, but this is unlikely.

It’s more impressive to refer to them as “nuclear bombers”, but surely the North Koreans are aware that they aren’t nuclear capable — it is public information, after all, and presumably Pyongyang has spies out there who can read.

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Fifteen Years Later

My US flag flies today in front of my house.

In the early morning fifteen years ago today, I was sleeping peacefully in my bed when, suddenly, one of my sons shook me awake and delivered a most bewildering bit of news: “One of the twin towers has collapsed!”  Twin towers?  What twin towers?  I remember thinking.

It took me a number of seconds to get into my head what he was talking about, but despite the dead urgency in his voice I still couldn’t credit the information with any comprehension until I had thrown on some clothes and gone downstairs to watch what was happening on live television.  Yes, one of the towers had collapsed alright, and while I watched they showed a replay of that event.

And then, while I stood there dumbfounded, I watched the other one fall.

By this point you might be wondering why I was sleeping so late, but no, we lived on the West Coast, and it was just turning into time for breakfast.  When I went to work that day everyone was trying to do things that needed done, but all of us were operating in a kind of bubble — yes, let’s do what we’re being paid to do, but oh, my gosh, what is happening? Someone had gotten out a television set and tuned it to the news so we could follow along with what was going on.  Many of us also resorted frequently to internet news sites to stay abreast of events.

One of my coworkers, a young woman I frequently worked with, seemed a lot more distraught than anyone else.  Since she was normally quite sunny in outlook, I asked her how she was feeling.  Her answer stunned me, and brought home the immediacy of this event.

“My brother works for a company headquartered in one of those towers, and even though he normally works in San Diego, California, he’s in New York for a conference!”  She said.

And no, she hadn’t heard anything from him, or about him, yet.

Being much too rattled myself to give her much comfort, I located our section supervisor, Dennis, and told him about her situation.  Dennis was able to do what I wasn’t prepared to do, and she thanked me later for telling him about it.  Later it turned out that he had been in one of the towers at the time an airliner hit it, but even though their conference had been on a floor above the ones that were directly affected by the strike, he had volunteered to go down to the level where they had shops, to buy some pastries for the meeting.  He was there when the airplane hit, and he was able to get out before his tower fell.

A few thousand others weren’t so lucky, including a large number of firefighters and police who had rushed in to help evacuate people and fight the fire.

A few weeks later, after at least some of the dust had settled, one of the members of my LDS congregation was asked to give a talk at church, and to touch upon 9-11 in his message.  Given that he is a firefighter himself, he would have identified with his fellow firefighters who lost their lives trying to save others, and so one might have expected a bit of anger to show through.  But no, this brother’s message was of love and caring, and of joining together in compassion for those who had lost friends and loved ones.

Which is what all of us should remember each year on this day.

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