Funny how people talk about how they want compromise and results from their government, then reelect the most strident partisans (Bachmann, Grayson, Webster, Warren) and vote out moderates (Scott Brown). Gee, no wonder things don't get done. Fiscal cliff, here we come...
Popehat @Popehat Just been shown some top-secret exit polls. Very disappointed. The victor is a guy who will continue the War on Drugs. He's a guy . . . @Popehat . . . who will continue to grow the security state unabated. He's a guy who offers only lip service to the constitution. He's a guy . . . Popehat @Popehat . . . . whose economic plan is fanciful nonsense. You know who.
8:09am: fwd: "Why I Chose A Gun" "That is why I took up the gun - not to shoot, not to kill, not to destroy, but to stop those who would do evil, to protect the vulnerable, to defend democratic values, to stand up for the freedom we have to talk - about how we can make the world a better place."
http://www.wingheads.com/index.php?showtopic=68529&st=30&gopid=234978entry234978 As an alumni who never knew anything but Paterno as PSU's head coach, and by the time I was there (early '90s) the mythology of JoePa was already well entrenched, I'm still processing exactly what this means retrospectively. I suspect it's going to be one of those things that looks contradictory at first - JoePa the forger of young men's character, demanding class and education as well as football, vs. JoePa who participated in covering up ongoing child abuse - but actually makes a kind of sense:
I can believe that Paterno, half not wanting to believe what he was being told by multiple sources, sensed a threat in Sandusky's activities to the thing he loved most - the football program - and to all the good he thought he was doing with it, and so wanted that threat to go away as quickly and quietly as possible so that the program wasn't tarnished. That was the priority, as near as I can tell: preserve the program at all costs, justified in the name of everything Paterno believed he was accomplishing. And it became something straight out of a Greek tragedy - by totally losing perspective on what was more important, by choosing to cover up rather than confronting a terrible thing, everything Paterno did and worked for is now tarnished with a black brush of evil.
Perspective. If permanently dissolving the PSU football program, or even all college football, or even all football, could prevent even one more boy from having to go through the torture that Sandusky's victims went through, would that be worth it? How about if doing that prevented what happened to *all* the victims since '98? Isn't there a point where you have to say, no, football just isn't that important. And I think that point is way, way short of the line where someone, anyone, ends up scarred for life.
For Paterno, the program was his life, his legacy. I suspect a lot of coaches have this problem - Lombardi, George Allen, Vermeil before his burnout. This skewed his sense of right and wrong, and those kids paid the price. For myself, I did buy into the JoePa persona, even when I was probably old enough to know better, to know that everybody is a mix of good and bad, and of contradictions. Its something I think all PSU fans will have to confront eventually about this: did we help build up JoePa and the program to the point that it became this larger-than-life thing that a lot of people at Penn State, including Paterno, thought was more important to keep safe, at any price, than some nameless (to them), faceless (to them), kids' lives?
This is hardly something limited to Penn State - if you've been in a major college football stadium filled to capacity on a Saturday, you know that its a huge deal to a huge number of people. The question becomes, at what price? If not a child's innocence, is there still a price worth paying to preserve the program, or to make that program a winner? Payola?Recruiting violations?Injury pools to take out another team's best players? And at what point do you just have to say "no, this is nuts, its still just football, just a game, doing this is wrong." And if there's a long history of not being able to make the right decisions on that, at what point do you just have to say the whole thing needs to be scrapped, to start over or just to go away forver, because the price is too high? That is basically one of the objectives of the NCAA death penalty, after all: you force the whole thing to reset by denying any football for a period of time.
Even otherwise-hawkish-on-cutting think tanks like Cato and the Heritage Foundation have come out and said this is a very bad idea. I've complained about the dumb decisions that countries like Canada and Argentina have made in regards to statistical information, and this is right along those lines. There's a long way to go - it'd still have to pass the Senate and probably wouldn't pass a veto from POTUS - but that it passed the House at all is alarming. I've written a letter to a Congressman who I've contributed to in the past, something I rarely do, so important do I consider this issue. Simply, if this goes through, it will blind us to what's happening at the local level in terms of demographics, economics, and social trends.
4:48pm: Gripes (politics, etc.)
* Statements along the lines of "someday humanity will evolve beyond the need for religion and superstition" or "some day we will have evolved enough and we won’t (kill animals) anymore" aren't persuasive. If anything, they make the speaker sound presumptuous and haughty to those not already among the converted. I think it is just as likely that these things being judged primitive, like religious belief or being a carnivore/omnivore, are actually deeply rooted in aspects of human nature that aren't as easily rooted out as some may think.
* If you are a UFO enthusiast, spending a good part of a radio interview on your book complaining about how the biggest problem you face is how nobody takes you seriously ("the giggle factor") really isn't helping your case. Nor is making statements like "Moses was just suffering from radiation poisoning" after seeing the Burning Bush, etc.
* The race is already on to define Romney as a radical conservative. For a guy whose main problem is how milquetoast he is, I have to wonder how much of the vitriol towards him by the progressive movement is leftover resentment over how active the Mormon church has been in the gay marriage debate for the opposite side. I suspect there's going to be more than a little anti-Mormon bigotry coming out from many progressives by the time the election finally rolls around.
* Being oppressed gives one no more moral high-ground than being the oppressor. From what I've read of history, the oppressed tend too often to prove themselves just as bad if not worse than the people they lost to, in cases where the tables are later turned. As one example, Mr. Mehanna cites Ho Chi Minh with approval, but ignores what his followers did in South Vietnam after they won. That's why I'm always skeptical of those who declare "comfort the afflicted, but afflict the comfortable, too." Usually, the 'comfortable' gets redefined as 'people I disagree with/oppose who I want to teach a lesson to, and also feel justified while doing it.' Violence prolongs hate, hate prolongs violence. It also goes along with the cite from Blackhawk Down I posted last year regarding trying to define groups as "good guys" and "bad guys," when its often just a matter of winners and losers rather than morals, and comes down to which tribes/sides are blessed through accidents of history, geography, and technology with better means of waging warfare. Only when a path of freedom, nonviolence, and the promotion of each person's unalienable rights is taken can one side actually be seen to be more morally justified. Mehanna's underlying equation of oppression=justification is fatally flawed, which makes his statement of justification all that more tragic since it is based on an incorrect foundation.
8:27am: Robot gadgets review
Last year we invested in a couple of different robots to help with the housework. Thought it might be useful to folks to put up a review of our experiences with each.
This is the Neato XV-11 robotic vacuum cleaner, which retails for around $400 at Amazon. There is a small but fairly powerful vacuum in its front, and the robot moves around while the vacuum sweeps up dirt as it moves. It navigates a room using a small laser that rotates rapidly in the "turret" in the back, using the input it gets to avoid objects. It does a good job of this, and rarely bumps into our furniture. You can also block off areas using magnetic strips, included with the product. Dust and dirt is collected in a bin in the front of the robot, which should be emptied after each use. We normally get a full bin of cat hair, dust, etc. with each run, and it takes a little under an hour to do four rooms. There's an option to have the robot run remotely on a set schedule, but I prefer to be here when I do run it, as occasionally it will run into an obstacle it needs some help getting around - not often, but sometimes. The robot will return to its base station automatically to recharge, and recent software upgrades have noticeably improved its ability to remember its previous path and complete this successfully. One bonus is that the robot can get under beds and furniture which we were vacuuming infrequently with the manual vacuum. The flipside to being good at avoiding furniture is that every few months you will need to manually vacuum in edges and corners, since the collision avoidance software and design doesn't allow the robot to clean those very well. One downside: we had to return our first model because of a continuing problem with "RPS errors". This is basically a problem with dust getting into the turret sensors . It can be prevented by blowing the turret with compressed air before each use, and the model we received from Neato in exchange has rarely had this problem, so they seem to have solved or at least limited the issue. A more popular robot vacuum is the Roomba in its various models, but I chose not to go with that after reading many reviews that all Roombas models had problems with the front brushes (there to push dirt into the vacuum) regularly snapping off and having to be replaced.
This is the Mint 4200 series robot cleaner, which retails for $200 at Amazon. We use this for cleaning our house's hardwood and kitchen floors. You place either a "dry" or "damp" cloth shammy on to the front of the robot; both come with the product, or you can use Swiffer sheets also. It navigates by exchanging information with a base unit which projects an invisible beam up on to the ceiling of whatever room is being cleaned. The robot builds a "map" of the room by moving around until it bumps into something, which it then stores and knows not to try moving into that space again. This actually works better than it sounds, and the system is fairly efficient at this. Normally every time we run the Mint on our floors, it finishes after about an hour with a lot of dirt and pet hair collected. The shammies can be cleaned in with the normal laundry, though I recommend brushing off the major dirt before putting it in with the rest of the wash. As with the Neato, a good function is that it gets under furniture and into spaces which we normally wouldn't remember to clean regularly.
In all, we're quite happy with both. There's a learning curve to each, but they've both saved a lot of time and have cut down on the amount of weekly housekeeping we have to do. In both cases I can now set up each robot, push "start", and simply let it run mostly without assistance, and after about an hour the cleaning is done. That's about all one could ask for from a robotic assistant. Oh, and they're fairly neat to watch as they roll around cleaning and going around anything that gets in their way. There's also robots available for lawn mowing, but the price (over $1,500) is prohibitive right now. The makers of the Roomba also have models for floor cleaning, pool cleaning, and gutter cleaning. As with anything, caveat emptor: read the reviews on Amazon,com and elsewhere before purchasing.
I found this post about the tenth anniversary of 9/11 deeply moving. This is the last major anniversary of 9/11 where it is living memory for almost everyone marking it. In fifteen years, when the twenty-fifth anniversary occurs, there will be a whole generation for whom 9/11 will be something that happened to their parents, not them, just as Pearl Harbor has drifted from something people lived through to being a date in history. In that sense, as Allahpundit says, this was the last anniversary which was truly "ours" as a people all present at a point in time which divided everything into "before" and "after."
And in a very real sense, we do walk hand in hand through history with the others of our generation, and that can be a comforting thought. We have common frames of reference. No one today can speak about "Nine-eleven" or "Ground Zero" and have to explain what she means, but there will come a day when that does happen, just like "December seventh" doesn't automatically register with many folks today the way it would have with the World War II generation. Such is the way of the world.
Anyway, I got to thinking about what anniversary dates in history will be coming up in our lifetimes, and here's the list I came up with, below the cut: ( Read moreCollapse ) According to my estimated life expectancy, I've got a fairly decent shot at living into the 2050s. Should be exciting to see many of these. Are there any I'm missing?
Just to give a look at what our vegetable garden looks like today. Compare with the June 6th post below (with pictures from early May). We're getting lots of tomatoes and jalapeno peppers off this, plus a few green peppers here and there, and hopefully it will produce some squash and cucumbers at some point (had some trouble with rabbits and groundhogs, which apparently both like to eat gourd plants, so I had to enclose them in wire and netting). Our concord grapes are starting to turn color to purple, but they are supposed to be actually ripe in early Autumn.
7:32pm: from Mark Bowden's book "Blackhawk Down"
I was rereading Bowden's "Blackhawk Down" this week, and this passage seems as relevant today as it was back then, for a lot of different places: Libya, Palestine/Gaza, Hezbollah in Lebanon, Pakistan, Iraq, Afghanistan, Korea, etc.:
"(Somalia) was a watershed," said one State Department official, "The idea used to be that terrible countries were terrible because good, decent, innocent people were being oppressed by evil, thuggish leaders. Somalia changed that. Here you have a country where just about everybody is caught up in hatred and fighting. You stop an old lady on the street and ask her if she wants peace, and she’ll say, yes, of course, I pray for it daily. All the things you’d expect her to say. Then ask her if she would be willing for her clan to share power with another in order to have that peace, and she’ll say, 'With those murderers and thieves? I’d die first.' People in these countries - Bosnia is a more recent example - don’t want peace. They want victory. They want power. Men, women, old and young. Somalia was the experience that taught us that people in these places bear much of the responsibility for things being the way they are. The hatred and the killing continues because they want it to. Or because they don’t want peace enough to stop it." (pg 334-335)