Quotulatiousness

May 7, 2017

Deadly Africa

Filed under: Africa, Environment, Health — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 05:00

Kim du Toit reposted something he wrote back in 2002 about the dangers to life and limb people face in Africa before you factor in dysfunctional governments, terrorists, and continuing ethnic disputes from hundreds of years ago:

When it comes to any analysis of the problems facing Africa, Western society, and particularly people from the United States, encounter a logical disconnect that makes clear analysis impossible. That disconnect is the way life is regarded in the West (it’s precious, must be protected at all costs etc.), compared to the way life, and death, are regarded in Africa. Let me try to quantify this statement.

In Africa, life is cheap. There are so many ways to die in Africa that death is far more commonplace than in the West. You can die from so many things: snakebite, insect bite, wild animal attack, disease, starvation, food poisoning… the list goes on and on. At one time, crocodiles accounted for more deaths in sub-Saharan Africa than gunfire, for example. Now add the usual human tragedy (murder, assault, warfare and the rest), and you can begin to understand why the life expectancy for an African is low — in fact, horrifyingly low, if you remove White Africans from the statistics (they tend to be more urbanized, and more Western in behavior and outlook). Finally, if you add the horrifying spread of AIDS into the equation, anyone born in sub-Saharan Africa this century will be lucky to reach age forty.

I lived in Africa for over thirty years. Growing up there, I was infused with several African traits — traits which are not common in Western civilization. The almost-casual attitude towards death was one. (Another is a morbid fear of snakes.)

So because of my African background, I am seldom moved at the sight of death, unless it’s accidental, or it affects someone close to me. (Death which strikes at total strangers, of course, is mostly ignored.) Of my circle of about eighteen or so friends with whom I grew up, and whom I would consider “close”, only about eight survive today — and not one of the survivors is over the age of fifty. Two friends died from stepping on landmines while on Army duty in Namibia. Three died in horrific car accidents (and lest one thinks that this is not confined to Africa, one was caused by a kudu flying through a windshield and impaling the guy through the chest with its hoof — not your everyday traffic accident in, say, Florida). One was bitten by a snake, and died from heart failure. Another two also died of heart failure, but they were hopeless drunkards. Two were shot by muggers. The last went out on his surfboard one day and was never seen again (did I mention that sharks are plentiful off the African coasts and in the major rivers?). My experience is not uncommon in South Africa — and north of the Limpopo River (the border with Zimbabwe), I suspect that others would show worse statistics.

The death toll wasn’t just confined to my friends. When I was still living in Johannesburg, the newspaper carried daily stories of people mauled by lions, or attacked by rival tribesmen, or dying from some unspeakable disease (and this was pre-AIDS Africa too) and in general, succumbing to some of Africa’s many answers to the population explosion. Add to that the normal death toll from rampant crime, illness, poverty, flood, famine, traffic, and the police, and you’ll begin to get the idea.

My favorite African story actually happened after I left the country. An American executive took a job over there, and on his very first day, the newspaper headlines read:
“Three Headless Bodies Found”.
The next day: “Three Heads Found”.
The third day: “Heads Don’t Match Bodies”.

You can’t make this stuff up.

April 28, 2017

Words & Numbers: Actually, Life is Pretty Awesome

Filed under: Economics, Media, USA — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 04:00

Published on 26 Apr 2017

This week, James and Antony take a brief departure from talking about the growing national debt, and our absurd tax system to discuss the numerous ways in which more economic and personal freedom has made people wealthier, more equal, and better off all over the world. We’re actually living in pretty amazing times.

Read more:
https://fee.org/articles/actually-life-is-pretty-awesome/

April 25, 2017

Ned Kelly 3 – Extra History

Filed under: Australia, History, Law — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 02:00

Published on 1 Apr 2017

Ned Kelly has never shot a man. Until now.
Support Extra History on Patreon! https://www.patreon.com/ExtraCredits/

April 23, 2017

QotD: Unthinking conservative support for the police fuels the public’s growing distrust

Filed under: Law, Liberty, Politics, Quotations, USA — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 01:00

Here is what conservatives do not understand — they did this. The hatred you see for cops in this country? It is all on them. They are the cause behind modern hatred of American police officers because while cops were taking kids on nickle rides and were beating suspects with hoses; were mistreating inner city blacks in a fashion conservative whites would never have allowed should it have occurred in their own neighborhoods; were torturing suspects and beating bartenders in Chicago; were shooting dogs to death for no reason and skating due to horrifying laws that shield them from any sort of consequence for their actions, those same conservatives were bowing and scraping and licking the boots of every police officer who happened to come walking by. Then, when one, random cop gets pistol whipped and claims that this was the fault of all who dared to criticize his profession, suddenly conservatives work themselves into a spittle inflected frenzy that they could not seem to manage when cops were doing far worse to their fellow citizens.

Where was the howling right-wing outrage when a cop beat a woman in a bar and his buddies tried to protect him from rightful consequences? Where was this conservative anger and angst when marines, those wonderful soldiers that conservatives adore so very much, were killed during ridiculous no-knock SWAT raids that, in a legitimately free society, never should have even been conducted?

They were nowhere — they did not say a word, they hardly cared. When black and Hispanics were provably tortured by the police, they hardly cared. When marines were killed, there was not a peep from the right and we had to rely on those evil anti-American progressives and libertarians to even discuss the matter.

And then they have the audacity to criticize me for daring to be too mean to the poor widdle boys and girls of our national constabulary. Well, respectfully, I don’t feel too bad about criticizing cops and attacking the unreasonable and often criminal actions of American police officers, and I will continue whether or not I have the permission of National Review or The Blaze or any other conservative media outlet. Maybe one day, if conservatives actually begin to care about the ‘small government’ ideals they’re constantly babbling about but never exercising, they’ll join me in my protest against illegitimate police activity. Until that day, though, I will continue to assume that conservatives are all talk and bluster and mindless blather, and that they don’t actually give a good Goddamn about any of the ideals they pretend to hold.

J.R. Ireland, “Cops Deserve Rightful Criticism No Matter What Whiny, Boot Licking Conservatives Might Like to Pretend”, Locust Kings, 2015-08-20.

April 18, 2017

Ned Kelly – II: Under Suspicion – Extra History

Filed under: Australia, History, Law — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 02:00

Published on 25 Mar 2017

Ned’s second venture as a bushranger brought him to the attention of the local police. He did time in prison, then tried to clean up his act, but became frustrated by the suspicion that continued to dog him.

April 8, 2017

Ned Kelly – I: Becoming a Bushranger – Extra History

Filed under: Australia, History — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 02:00

Published on Mar 18, 2017

When Ned Kelly lost his father at a young age, he became the man of the house but didn’t know how to support his family. Swept up by the grandiose tales of a visiting bushranger, young Ned decided to give crime a try.

April 5, 2017

Reining in legalized theft

Filed under: Law, Liberty, USA — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 11:48

Jacob Sullum on the efforts to clamp down on civil asset forfeiture abuse, which is another instance of the process being the punishment for too many innocent people:

During a meeting with county sheriffs in February, Donald Trump was puzzled by criticism of civil asset forfeiture, which all the cops in the room viewed as an indispensable and unobjectionable law enforcement tool. “Do you even understand the other side of it?” the president asked. “No,” one sheriff said, and that was that.

Trump might get a more helpful answer if he asked Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., who last week reintroduced a bill aimed at curtailing civil forfeiture abuses. As Sensenbrenner observed, “These abuses threaten citizens’ Constitutional rights, put unnecessary burdens on innocent Americans, and weaken our faith in law enforcement.”

Civil forfeiture lets the government confiscate property allegedly linked to crime without bringing charges against the owner. Since law enforcement agencies receive most or all of the proceeds from the forfeitures they initiate, they have a strong financial incentive to loot first and ask questions never, which explains why those sheriffs were not eager to enlighten the president about the downside of such legalized theft.

A new report from the Justice Department’s Office of the Inspector General highlights the potential for abuse. Between fiscal years 2007 and 2016, the OIG found that the Drug Enforcement Administration took $4.2 billion in cash, more than 80 percent of it through administrative forfeitures, meaning there was no judicial oversight because the owners did not challenge the seizures in court.

Although the DEA would argue that the lack of challenges proves the owners were guilty, that is not true. The process for recovering seized property is daunting, complicated, time-consuming and expensive, often costing more than the property is worth.

March 8, 2017

“…the anti-fascists look a lot closer [to] Nazi brownshirts than the people they’re trying to stop”

Filed under: Politics, USA — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

Megan McArdle on the sudden willingness — even eagerness — on the part of progressive activists to move from agitation to literally beating up the objects of their hatred:

Sticks and stones may break your bones, but words will never hurt you. Or so we were told by our mothers. But events on both sides of continent in recent weeks seem to belie that old adage. A new generation of protesters has come to the conclusion that words do hurt — and that therefore, extreme measures, up to and including physical force, are justified to keep them from being spoken.

At Berkeley last month, a riot broke out over a speech planned by Milo Yiannopoulos, a sort of professional conservative troll who worked for Breitbart until a scandal over some hebephilic remarks cost him his job and his book contract. This was not simply setting things on fire or breaking a few windows (though those would have been quite bad enough); multiple people seem to have been beaten by the “antifas” (anti-fascists). In the videos that have been released so far, the anti-fascists look a lot closer [to] Nazi brownshirts than the people they’re trying to stop. There was further violence this weekend in Berkeley at a pro-Trump march.

Then a few days ago, a speech by Charles Murray at Middlebury College in Vermont also turned violent, and a professor was injured as she walked with Murray after his speech. Murray has given his own personal account of what occurred, and a lengthy video of the proceedings is available on the web. They are not as frightening as what happened at Berkeley, but they are plenty horrifying enough: they shouted him down, refusing to allow him to speak, then banged on the building and pulled fire alarms when he was transferred him to a private room to do a streaming talk they were unable to disrupt. Finally, they tried to physically prevent him from leaving.

The fact that two different speeches triggered violence at two different campuses within the space of a month suggests that we may be entering into a new and more dangerous phase of the anti-free-speech movement. Free-speech advocates, particularly the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, have done a great job pushing back against overweening college administrations that try to curtail the speech of students and professors. But these are actions coming from the students. Who do you sue to keep a mob of students from resorting to the heckler’s veto, or their fists, to combat ideas they don’t like?

As more than a few folks on the right have pointed out, if the “antifa” activists continue translating their distaste for certain words and concepts into actual violence, the right is significantly better armed and nobody in their right mind should want to provoke a descent into reciprocal violence when the other side has all the weapons.

March 2, 2017

Words & Numbers: The Problem with Alternative Facts

Filed under: Media, Politics, USA — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 04:00

Published on 1 Mar 2017

I this week’s episode, Antony & James talk about alternative facts and how false, partisan data skews important discussions about public policy.

Update: For some reason the original post link was taken private, so I’m reposting to the current version.

February 28, 2017

How to Make Medieval Stocks – Torture Your Friends and Family With This DIY Pillory

Filed under: History, Randomness, Technology — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 02:00

Published on 7 Oct 2016

You can make this fun DIY medieval torture device in a weekend! FREE PLANS and full article►► http://woodworking.formeremortals.net/2016/10/how-to-make-medieval-stocks-pillory/

February 19, 2017

Media mis-characterizations of FIRE

Filed under: Liberty, Media, USA — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 04:00

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education has been getting a lot of media attention for their efforts to ensure due process rights are observed for students at US universities. In the process, some distortions have been included in that media coverage:

In recent weeks, news outlets across the country have written about Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and her family foundation’s donations to FIRE. In doing so, many outlets have mischaracterized FIRE’s work defending students’ due process rights — particularly in the realm of campus sexual assault, where the federal government has taken several significant steps to impede the ability of institutions to provide fair hearings and freedom of expression.

We have written on this topic before, but it is worth reiterating a few points.

Perhaps most importantly, our defense of accused students’ rights is not an attack on complainants’ rights, as some writers have suggested. To the contrary, we aim to ensure all students’ rights are protected. The procedural safeguards for which FIRE advocates — such as the right to cross-examine witnesses, active assistance of an attorney, and impartial fact-finders — help ensure that campus adjudicators reach accurate and reliable findings of fact. This goal serves the entire campus community and is appropriate in all cases, but it is especially paramount where the ramifications of either an erroneous guilty finding or an erroneous not guilty finding are particularly significant, such as with accusations of sexual assault or other violent offenses.

Accordingly, FIRE has opposed legislation that attempts to address the issue of campus sexual assault simply by making it easier to find accused students guilty, rather than by helping fact-finders reach accurate results. We have not opposed provisions that could “prevent campus sexual assault,” as some writers have claimed. FIRE’s concern is focused on how the parties are treated and campus justice is served after an assault is alleged to have occurred.

Because only the criminal justice system can remove perpetrators from the streets and not just from campuses, and because the court system has procedural safeguards in place to help fact-finders reach reliable findings, FIRE supports legislation that would strengthen law enforcement’s role in addressing campus sexual assault. Campus criminals are not immune from the criminal law. Even in advocating for greater involvement by law enforcement, however, we have emphasized that colleges and universities have an important role to play in responding to alleged sexual misconduct.

December 30, 2016

QotD: Marijuana prohibition

Filed under: Law, Liberty, Quotations — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 01:00

Now here’s somebody who wants to smoke a marijuana cigarette. If he’s caught, he goes to jail. Now is that moral? Is that proper? I think it’s absolutely disgraceful that our government, supposed to be our government, should be in the position of converting people who are not harming others into criminals, of destroying their lives, putting them in jail. That’s the issue to me. The economic issue comes in only for explaining why it has those effects. But the economic reasons are not the reasons.

Milton Friedman

December 29, 2016

Another ongoing NFL problem

Filed under: Football, Media, Sports — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 02:00

Colby Cosh asks why the NFL puts up with field-invading streakers (even if the TV cameras avoid showing the incidents):

I don’t have hard data, but the TV policy does not seem to be diminishing the number of field invasions in NFL and college football games. In our social-media panopticon world, this was foreseeable. The remarkable part is that the instant justice almost always dealt by the security guards does not seem to be discouraging the practice either.

Field invasions are a serious matter, because you never know when someone might be carrying a knife and a grudge. The idiots who run out onto the field don’t think of themselves as inadvertently rehearsing the possible murder of an athlete. But they all have to know by now that they are inviting a hard tackle, experienced without padding, from a beefy, motivated stranger.

If you have ever been a 22-year-old male, you understand that this may easily be part of the fun. It is the nature of a dare to be more impressive when the stakes are higher. I don’t know that all NFL streakers are actually drunk, but I am certain that nobody ever runs onto the field during a game without first having had a conversation with his friends — one usually involving the words “Hold my beer.”

So why are spectacular tackles of narcissistic morons by security guards tolerated by the teams that employ them? The apparatus of the NFL does not seem to have developed a nonviolent cordon approach to field invaders. If it has one, it is obviously not very consistent about applying it league-wide. As often as not, the security guards seem to be showing off their special-teams gunner skills for the audience.

It might be expensive to develop and practice a formal method of peacefully capturing rowdies who elude security and reach the field of play. (I suppose a lasso would be too theatrical?) But lawsuits are expensive, too, and we cannot be too far from the day when a security guard breaks some cretin’s neck at a game.

December 19, 2016

QotD: Handling death threats

Filed under: Media, Quotations — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 01:00

A while back, someone my mother knows went crazy. The details of this insanity, or how it led them to focus on my lovely, inoffensive mother, are not important. What matters is that a deluge of emails started, and one of them contained a sentence along the lines of “The world would be a better place without you in it.”

Needless to say, like any normal person who gets an email like that, she became understandably worried. I rushed to reassure her. “Mom,” I said, “I get death threats all the time. They never do anything about it.”

Fun fact: “Mom, I get death threats all the time” are not words that reassure mothers. That was an interesting learning for me. But it is not the main point of my story. The point is that what I said remains true: death threats, or even quasi threats, are really nerve wracking the first hundred or so times someone emails you a picture of your house with a crosshairs superimposed on your bedroom window. Then over time, you notice something: the people who sent things like that haven’t followed through.

Am I saying that you never have to worry about people who email you on the internet? No. If someone emails you something like “We are destined to be together, why won’t haven’t you responded to my last 47 notes?” or “I know you are helping the CIA spy on me through my tooth fillings, and if you don’t stop, I will have to take action”, then you should be very worried, and contact the authorities immediately.

[…]

For this was at midday on a Saturday. Think about that; let it marinate for a while. These were adult men and women who had nothing better to do on a Saturday afternoon than to vent their political spleen through culinary criticism. Think about how lame your life has to be for you to say “It’s my day off. How should I spend it? Oh, yeah, I’m finally going to get that [expletive deleted]. I’m going to [censored] all over her [bleeping] recipe.”

From that day to this, every time someone winds up the spittle-flecked outrage, I shake my head a little and think “I’m sorry your life is so sad that this is the best use you could find for your spare time.”

That is what you should be thinking every time someone sends you a horrible note, or forwards on someone else’s vituperation in case you haven’t seen it. That’s usually what you should be thinking even when that someone expresses a fond desire to see you exit this mortal life as early as possible. These are people whose lives are so joy-impoverished, so empty of meaning, that they are driven to seek pleasure in someone else’s pain, and power by denuciation. They can only have that pleasure and that power if you give it to them. If they were worthy of either, they wouldn’t need to write these things to you.

You should feel sorry for them. You should not, however, feel the slightest interest in what they think about you.

I especially want to address this to the ladies: this happens to us a lot, and there’s a temptation to reach out to your followers for support, telling them how awful and afraid this makes you feel. That’s classic lady bonding, and I’m all for sisterhood and support. Nonetheless: Don’t. They can see it, and they’re enjoying that they’re making you afraid. You don’t win with these folks by sending a mob of your own followers after them. You win — with them, and at life — by *not being upset*, because what the hell do you care what some anonymous coward thinks about you? Your soundtrack should be “I am Woman, Hear me Roar” and “I Will Survive”, not “Help!” If there are missives that seem genuinely threatening, pass them onto the police. Then stick the rest in your digital circular file and do something fun.

Megan McArdle, posted to Facebook, 2016-12-09.

December 1, 2016

QotD: Victim mentality and “white rage”

Filed under: Media, Politics, Quotations, USA — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas @ 01:00

The media is always fretting that ginning up “white rage” will produce “backlash” — violence — against minority communities.

Okay, let’s say I accept that’s a possibility.

Is it not also a possibility that ginning up minority rage over agrievements, both those that can be characterized as possibly real as well of those of the #FakeNews contrived paranoia variety, can spur non-whites into their own “backlash” mode?

If not, why not? Are whites singularly evil in this world? Are they alone the only race capable of being whipped up into a hateful, violent lather by racial paranoia and racial grievances?

[…]

If it’s dangerous for a strain of white identity politics to nurture a fear and hatred of “The Other” — different races — and that such a strain of grievance-mongering and paranoia may result in the murders or assaults of minorities, why is it (as the media and mediating institutions seem to believe) not dangerous at all for minority ethnic groups to gin up their own fear, paranoia, and hatred against whites or society in general?

Will the media or any government official ever address this, given the weekly assassinations of police, and the newest barbarism committed against OSU students due to one lunatic steeping in the hatreds of identity politics?

Ace, “Jim Geraghty: OSU Jihadi Proves That the Progressives’ Victim Mentality Kills”, Ace of Spades H.Q., 2016-11-30.

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