Wednesday, May 29, 2024

The De Niro Delusion

Much is being made of an attack on Donald Trump by actor Robert De Niro. It was harsh but I wonder why anyone thought his beliefs were more worth listening to or more informed  than those of any random pedestrian?

Actors are people who have the skill of being able to convincingly fake emotions they are not feeling, and many are physically attractive. The words they say on screen or stage are written by someone else, and their behavioral choices are made by a director. Effectively they are puppets without strings. 

Nothing about that description suggests they know more about politics than you do. I'd argue they very well may know less. Plus they exist in a subculture that has had Marxist proclivities at least since the 1930s, as demonstrated in HUAC hearings so long ago.

Admire the things at which they excel, their acting ability or their attractiveness. As for what they think, why care?

Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Demand Down for PhDs

The first among equals at Power Line - John Hinderaker - looks at employment for Humanities PhDs. He finds we are graduating many more of them than there are faculty job openings, and it has been like that since roughly 2010. In History, for example, there are twice as many graduates as jobs. He concludes:

The phenomenon at work here–a huge cadre of well-educated people who think they are entitled to make good money, be treated with deference, and play a significant role in public life, but who in fact are not very employable and whose expectations are doomed to be frustrated–explains a lot about the demented quality of our current culture.

The DrsC had the extremely good fortune to get our PhDs early enough to take advantage of the mid-1900s boom in higher education. It is unlikely anyone now alive will ever again see university conditions so favorable.

I believe the explosive growth in higher education was triggered by the post-World War II GI Bill of Rights. It was instituted to keep many ex-GIs out of the work force for 2-4 years and thus avoid mass unemployment. 

The resultant greater supply of college degrees paradoxically created demand so that those of us graduating high school in the post-war era found we needed a B.A. to get a decent job.

An Iranian Nuke?

Writing for The Atlantic and echoed at the msn.com site, Arash Azizi asks the question, “What If Iran Already Has the Bomb?” As is often the case, the column’s title is more exciting than what follows. He believes the current Supreme Leader in Iran is too cautious to use nukes. 

Azizi ends up talking himself out of actually confronting the problem stated. I will take a stab at imagining a nuclear exchange between Iran and Israel.

Based on the flurry of rocketry and drones Iran aimed at Israel recently, and the small number which actually reached their targets, I conclude the following: Iran isn’t especially able to deliver explosives to strongly defended Israeli targets. 

That being the case, Iran doesn’t need “a” nuclear bomb. They would need quite a few in order to ensure at least one reaches Tel Aviv. 

Israel may want to move key installations to Jerusalem. It is unlikely devout Muslims would nuke one of their three "holy cities."

On the other hand, does anyone believe Israel has similar problems striking Iran wherever it chooses? They have a demonstrated ability to strike targets inside Iran.

Monday, May 27, 2024

The Sound of Our Voice

Eight days ago I wrote about the DrsC going in search of a "celebrity" mama grizzly bear -  known as 399 - which frequents the Pilgrim Creek region of Grand Teton National Park. In passing I noted that one could argue humans, not grizzlies, are the apex predators of the North American continent.

Today Instapundit links to a study reported in ScienceAlert which found the sound of the human voice arouses more fear in animals than the vocalizations of other predators. Evidence, if more was needed, that we humans are the on-land apex predator of this planet. 

In the oceans the orca probably holds that honor, there are recent reports of them killing great white sharks.

Sunday, May 26, 2024

Remembering Heroes


Image courtesy of Lucianne.com,  27 May 2024.

Fundamentally Trivial

Recently the International Criminal Court has issued arrest warrants for Benjamin Netanyahu and the leaders of Hamas. The charge is war crimes. 

Neither Israel nor the US are signatories to the treaty establishing the ICC. In this context attorney Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit fame writes as follows:

A my International Law professor said, the World Court is a “fundamentally trivial body.” Now exposing itself as more trivial.

The Browncoat Legacy

As regular readers know, I'm a long time science fiction reader, though not as much as formerly. One of my all time favorite TV series was Firefly

The series was a sort of combination of hard sci fi and western, set in a future that followed a multi planetary civil war. Our protagonists were veterans of the losing side. The short-lived series spawned a spin-off film - Serenity - with the same cast.

What I didn't know, but this article reveals, is that there is a firm making rockets and spacecraft which has appropriated the name Firefly. The article indicates the firm is a NASA contractor. Hat tip to sci fi fan Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit for the link.

 Keeping the dream alive....

CA Our North Korea?

Writing for The Pipeline, a site which focuses on the problematic nature of much green energy policy, Power Line’s Steve Hayward draws an interesting parallel. He begins with noting that at the end of World War II two countries were divided into socialist and capitalist sections - Germany and Korea. The capitalist sections of both thrived, the socialist sections did not.

Today the United States is repeating a parallel controlled experiment, between “red states” and “blue states.” As was the case under Communism, Americans are voting with their feet, moving in large numbers from high-tax, high-regulation blue states to low-tax, business-friendly red states. The data show red states are experiencing faster economic and personal income growth, and better social performance on a number of key indicators, such as crime, affordable housing, and public education.

Among all the blue states intent on pursuing neo-socialist policy, one stands out: California. The once-Golden State is rapidly becoming the North Korea of the fifty American states.

One is inclined to cite the George Santayana maxim, here roughly paraphrased,  that those who do not learn the painful lessons history teaches are doomed to experience them again and again.

Afterthought: I imagine Gov. Gavin Newsom dreaming of a Berlin-type border wall to keep his taxpayers from fleeing CA.

An Interesting Analogy

Writing at American Thinker, M. B. Mathews observes a major characteristic of the progressive movement. Hat tip to Lucianne.com for the link.

What differentiates the radical left from conservatives is that leftists will die if they stop trying to change things. They, like sharks, cannot survive if they stop moving ahead. They call it “progressivism,” but it is studied destruction. It’s what physicists call “entropy” or disorder. Leftists must change things for the sheer thrill of exerting destructive and revisionist power over others.

Why do leftists need to destroy? It’s a narcissistic personality disorder. The intellectually idle, discontent with their own circumstances and with leaving good things alone, is so palpable that they cannot allow peace in the land. They must tear apart what offends them, which is everything that has worked in the past, probably because it had nothing to do with them.

With the caveat that “die” in the first paragraph mostly refers to the progressive movement collapsing, only rarely to the people physically dying, it isn’t a bad insight. 

Saturday, May 25, 2024

Saturday Snark










Images courtesy of Power Line's The Week in Pictures
and its Comments section.

Friday, May 24, 2024

Friday Snark


Images courtesy of Politico's Nation's Cartoonists on the Week in Politics.

Getting Serious

Whether you love Donald Trump, have some reservations about him, or can't stand him, can we at least agree Joe Biden has been an extremely disappointing president? And can we further agree that we liked Trump's four years better than Biden's? I hope so, polls seem to show this is the near-consensus.

If you have to hold your nose to vote for Trump, shouldn't you go ahead and do it? Another four years of some combination of Biden and Harris won't entirely destroy our country, but it will clearly make it measurably worse.

It feels like I've voted for the lesser of two evils most of my long life, this fall won't entirely be an exception. It also is no excuse for not voting.

Thursday, May 23, 2024

Update

Exactly a week ago I posted a nice picture of our newly greened forest, and a deer gracing our yard with her presence. This morning the view is more than a little different.


As I've noted before, here in the Rockies we can get snow almost any month except July and August. Locals claim those two are possibles as well, but in 30+ years of summering here we've not seen it.

The weather report predicted this snow maybe 3 days in advance. Meteorology is way more accurate than it was when I was young, too many years ago. The same weather prediction says it won't warm up a lot for nearly a week. We'll see.

Portland Dumps DA

The Daily Mail reports Portland, OR, district attorney Mike Schmidt has lost his bid for reelection to a tough-on-crime opponent, Nathan Vasquez. The job in question is actually DA for Multnomah County, which includes Portland.  

While votes are still being counted, Schmidt is losing to Vasquez 55-45. The Soros-backed, soft-on-crime loser has conceded. 

This outcome is important. It demonstrates that even in notoriously progressive Portland, voters can get fed up with a criminals-are-victims justice system that prioritizes the rights of criminals over those of people who behave.

Personal note: Oregon is an odd place, I did my PhD work there and am grateful for the opportunity. Everything west of the Cascades Range (which bisects the state north-to-south) lives under a rain cloud 7-8 months of the year. 

Gray skies and drippy leaves are very gloomy and depressing, as the Lewis and Clark party learned in the winter of 1805-6. The TV series Twin Peaks captures the ambiance of western OR reasonably well even though it was nominally set in WA.

Later ... Politico sees what happened Tuesday to Schmidt and earlier to San Francisco's progressive DA Chesa Boudin as indicative of a West Coast trend to oust soft-on-crime progressive prosecutors and start locking up malefactors. 

I ask, why limit it to the Left Coast? Even urban progressives can believe they and their property have the right to be safe. Those are rights that need defending.

Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Nikki Endorses Donald

The last of the would-be candidates for the GOP nomination - Nikki Haley - has endorsed Trump for President. She says she will vote for him even though she has reservations. 

On the other hand, she declares President Biden is "a catastrophe." In this assessment, she is absolutely correct.

By getting elected President, Joe Biden ruined his okay reputation as a noncharismatic, unimportant senator from a nothing state. Instead he will be remembered as the worst president in recent memory, a reputation that, if Carter is any indication, will last for several decades. 

It’s the Peter Principle in action. As president, Biden was finally in a position where he was incompetent, unable to perform the job. And the history books will group Jill Biden with Edith Wilson as presidential wives who abused their position while propping up dysfunctional husbands.

Forgotten, But Not Gone

When the Supreme Court decided Brown vs. Board of Education in 1954, it outlawed segregated public schools. You may remember or have read that so-called "segregation academies" sprang up across the South. 

Often located in church Sunday school classrooms, these private schools replaced the segregated public schools and thus education remained mostly segregated. Since you've not heard much about them in recent decades you may have presumed they vanished. They did not.

Late in our respective academic careers, the other DrC interviewed for an administrative job at a large state university in the Deep South. While there, she was taken to visit some local public schools where she would place teacher candidates for student teaching.

Even in the university town virtually all of the public school students were BIPOC. It was an eye-opener. She had the same admin job in California at the time, and classes in CA were thoroughly integrated and multi-racial. 

She asked and was told the white children were in "private or church schools." At the time home schooling wasn't yet common.

Several years later in retirement, we spent a year as visiting faculty in the greater Dallas area. Private schools were prevalent there, too. And a current news story makes clear that movement remains very much alive in today's Texas.

Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Tuesday Snark

Image courtesy of NewsAmmo, 5-21-2024.

Trende Picks Rubio

One of my favorite political analysts, the felicitously named Sean Trende, writes for RealClearPolitics. Today he looks at 10 of those being talked about as Trump's VP pick, and ranks them as he sees what they'd bring to the ticket.

I won't recap his entire list of 10, but  his top four are Sen. Marco Rubio, Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin, North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, and Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds.

Trende makes much of Rubio's ability to pull in Hispanic votes, writing:

Rubio makes so much sense. He takes Florida off the board (to the extent that it isn’t already) and probably ices Nevada and Arizona as well. He might put New Mexico into play.

The way things are going, Trump may not announce his pick until the convention. It's The Apprentice all over again, playing out the suspense for all it's worth.

Monday, May 20, 2024

Killed in the Street

President Joe Biden, giving the commencement address at Morehouse College, an HBCU in Atlanta, said in part:

You started college just as George Floyd was murdered. And there was a reckoning on race. It’s natural to wonder if the democracy you hear about actually works for you. What is democracy if black men are being killed in the street?

Biden is right about black men being killed in the street. He pointedly forgot to add that nearly all of their killers are their black neighbors. 

He could have noted that we had a policing technique which dramatically reduced the murder rate. It was called "stop-and-frisk" or "broken-windows" policing. 

We stopped doing it because it was unpopular with the black community which accurately felt targeted. The current policy could be called "feel free to shoot other blacks," though no one will say those words. 

Few such killings are solved but the black community mostly does not complain. Thus the politicians don't care.

"Stalking" the Celebrity Bear

We did a scenic Sunday drive yesterday, hoping to see the "celebrity" grizzly bear with the unglamorous name of "399." She's mostly famous for successfully raising quadruplet cubs a couple of years ago, very unusual for the big bears. 

399 is also known for being old and canny - she's in her mid-twenties - but still healthy. She has one cub this year and still looks to be in good shape. The other DrC has photos at her blog.

I write "looks" because grizzlies don't have annual check-ups. They are North America's (quite dangerous) apex predator, south of the permafrost. The polar bears rule up north, and the two species occasionally interbreed producing hybrid cubs that survive.

The grizzly is "apex predator" if you don't count us humans. By some standards we are the true apex predator anywhere on this planet's land surface. 

Sadly, the celebrity bear didn't honor the "room" with her presence, at least while we were in her neighborhood which is the Pilgrim Creek area in GTNP between Jackson Lake Lodge and Colter Bay Village. Better luck next time.

Fun fact: Jackson Lake Lodge is where the Federal Reserve Bank system holds its annual summer meeting. The view from the Lodge's enormous lobby window is spectacular.

What we did see was a very snowy boutique mountain range, the Tetons. Pictured below is Mount Moran as seen from the Colter Bay region.