Category Archives: Totty

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Rule Five Friday

2014_06_13_Rule Five Friday (1)Are School Homicides Becoming the Norm?  Short answer:  No.  Long answer:  Read the article.  Excerpt:

In the aftermath of yesterday’s shooting at an Oregon high school, the president worried that such slayings are “becoming the norm.” I’ve written skeptically in the past about whether the number of mass shootings in America is actually increasing, as the word becoming implies—see my posts here, here, and here—but there’s always a haze of uncertainty around those numbers, thanks to the varying definitions of “mass shooting” that different people use.

2014_06_13_Rule Five Friday (2)But maybe that isn’t the best thing to be measuring in the first place. The Oregon incident isn’t a “mass” shooting at all—the gunman killed two people, and one of those was himself—but it obviously speaks to the same sorts of fear and grief. If your son was just shot, after all, it’s hardly a comfort that his classmates survived. A map darting around the Internet this week claims to show all the school shootings since Sandy Hook. Note the modifier: school, not mass.

Here is the report mentioned in the article, Indicators of School Crime 2014_06_13_Rule Five Friday (3)and Safety, 2013.   Read it for yourself.  One relevant highlight:

Of the 31 student, staff, and nonstudent school-associated violent deaths occurring between July 1, 2010, and June 30, 2011, there were 25 homicides and 6 suicides. During the same time period, there were 11 homicides and 3 suicides of school-age youth (ages 5–18) at school.

During the 2010–11 school year, 11 of the 1,336 homicides among school-age youth ages 5–18 occurred at school. During the 2010 calendar year, 3 of the 1,456 suicides of youth ages 5–18 occurred at school.

2014_06_13_Rule Five Friday (4)Compare that to a typical weekend in, say, Chicago.

I don’t want to belittle any event of violence in any school, anywhere.  But as an Objectivist, I am compelled to evaluate facts – and the facts are that school shootings, while tragic, are not epidemic, and not increasing, demagoguery by some in the media aside – the numbers simply do not add up.

Reason concludes:

This much is clear: If you’re wondering where kids are likely to die, the answer plainly isn’t a classroom. (Quoting the BJS report one more time: “During the 2010–11 school year, 11 of the 1,336 homicides among school-age youth ages 5–18 occurred at school.”) And in the period for which we have clear data, the school homicide rate moved in the same 2014_06_13_Rule Five Friday (5)direction as the overall homicide rate: downward. To bring it still lower, the first question to ask is what happened to get us that far.

Let’s also ask this:  What is the common thread among all of the highly-publicized mass shootings that have happened in the last several years?  One comes immediately to mind:  A history of untreated or undertreated mental illness.

Root cause analysis, True Believers – it’s something nobody in the media a) knows how to do, and 2) gives a damn about.

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Rule Five Friday

2014_06_06_Rule Five Friday (1)Back to a bit on the Bergdahl controversy; well, call it a side effect:  Why Are We Freeing Terrorists?  Excerpt:

Democrats have been promoting the idea that they stand firmly against a “War on Women.” So how come President Obama just released some of that war’s worst aggressors?

I’m talking about the “Taliban Dream Team” who were just traded for ransomed soldier Bowe Bergdahl.

These were top officials in the Taliban regime: a provincial governor, a deputy defense minister, a deputy intelligence minister, a top arms smuggler, and a top Taliban military commander. Two of them are wanted by the United Nations for war crimes committed against Afghanistan’s 2014_06_06_Rule Five Friday (2)Shiites.

Make no mistake about what these men are, and I will not, can not mince words here:  They are fucking savages.  They are the kind of people who stone others to death for not believing as they do; they are the kind of people who blow up innocents, who use human shields, who will kill children to make a political point.  They do not deserve to be released; what they deserve is a bullet to the head, preferably delivered by an American serviceman.  And the Gitmo Five are not just foot soldiers in the army of Islamist savagery; they are goddamn generals.

And we traded them for Bowe Bergdahl; a deserter.  He is a man who, not so very long ago, would have faced a firing squad for desertion in the face of the enemy.  Today?  He will probably walk.

2014_06_06_Rule Five Friday (3)Another perspective worth reading:  Don’t Like Dealing with Terrorists? Bring Them Down.  Excerpt:

Hostage negotiations between a Western democracy and a hostile totalitarian regime lopsidedly favor the evil regime.  Its leaders do not care about human life, while ours are often driven by concern over the fate of their citizens.  You can see that in the case of Israel, which releases hundreds of terrorists for a single Israeli hostage, and you can see it in those US/Iran/Israel negotiations back in ’85:  President Reagan was very passionate about saving our hostages, as Israeli prime ministers, including Begin and Netanyahu, have been about saving theirs.

2014_06_06_Rule Five Friday (4)And therein lies the difference between us and them, between the civilized and the savage; we value human life, and they do not.  We build schools that these assholes would kill girls for entering.

As I said, fucking savages.

And we let them go.

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Rule Five Friday

2014_05_30_Rule Five Friday (1)It seems recession has returned.  Two items on that tidbit:

From CNBC:  Frigid winter takes toll as US GDP contracts for first time in 3 years.

Bloomberg is a tad more optimistic, but not much:  U.S. Economy Shrinks for First Time Since 2011; Pent Demand Suggests Temporary Setback.

Key excerpt from CNBC:

The U.S. economy contracted in the first quarter for the first time in three years as it buckled under the weight of a severe winter, but there are signs activity has since rebounded.

2014_05_30_Rule Five Friday (4)The Commerce Department on Thursday revised down its growth estimate to show gross domestic product shrinking at a 1.0 annual rate.

It was the worst performance since the first quarter of 2011 and reflected a far slower pace of inventory accumulation and a bigger than previously estimated trade deficit.

Bloomberg agrees:

A pickup in receipts at retailers, stronger manufacturing and faster job growth indicate the first-quarter setback will prove temporary as pent-up demand is unleashed. Federal Reserve policy makers said at their April meeting that the economy has strengthened after adverse weather took its toll.

2014_05_30_Rule Five Friday (5)“The good news is that the first quarter is over, it was a difficult one for the U.S. economy,” said Ryan Sweet, senior economist at Moody’s Analytics Inc. in West Chester, Pennsylvania. “I wouldn’t worry too much about the decline, it’s mostly driven by less construction spending and less inventory accumulation. This quarter should be a good one.”

Oddly enough, in 2012 I remember being told that if I voted for Mitt Romney, that unemployment would stay above 5% and economic growth would go in the crapper.  And look – they were right!

I think both articles may have one good point; the bad winter did hurt retail movement, and there may be some rebound now that spring has well and truly sprung and people are moving about more.  But that’s not a major move, and the economy remains in an anemic growth cycle; really anemic if you remember the Roaring Eighties.

2014_05_30_Rule Five Friday (3)And we may be in for a major market move, too.  Excerpt:

Of these (indicators), the most important will likely be the first-quarter GDP due on Thursday. The last estimate was for growth of 0.1%, while expectations for the revision are a -0.6% decline in growth for the first quarter. A decline here would be an unwelcome development, as two consecutive quarters of negative GDP is the official definition of recession. While this will probably be blamed on bad winter weather, a slip into recession could easily trigger the next “Minksy moment” and escalate market volatility. I remain cautious as we enter the lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer.

Could that presage a crash?  It’s hard to tell, but the Fed can’t keep pumping cheap money in to the economy forever – and when they stop, a major adjustment is inevitable.  See Stein’s Law.

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Rule Five Friday

2014_05_23_Rule Five Friday (1)From the land of the calamitously stupid comes this gem:  Dem Congressman: ‘We’ve Proved That Communism Works’  Uh huh.  Money quote:

“Let me give you an example, the kind of money we’ve poured in,” he said. “So the most dangerous — sorry, the safest city in America is El Paso, Texas. It happens to be across the border from the most dangerous city in the Americas, which is Juarez. Right?”

2014_05_23_Rule Five Friday (2)“And two of the safest cities in America, two of them are on the border with Mexico,” Garcia continued. “And of course, the reason is we’ve proved that Communism works. If you give everybody a good government job, there’s no crime.”

“But that isn’t what we should be doing on the border,” he continued. “The kind of money we’ve poured into it, and we’re having diminishing returns.”

The first words that come to mind are “what a moron.”

2014_05_23_Rule Five Friday (3)And seriously – to ensure prosperity, all we have to do is “give everybody a good government job?”  What Wesley Mouch Joe Garcia apparently fails to realize is this:  The government doesn’t have any damn money.  Government, at all  levels, can only spend money it has taken – with the threat of force (try not paying your taxes and see how long it takes before men with guns come looking for you) from the productive.

And Communism?  The legacy of Communism is not prosperity – it never has been and never will be.  The legacy of Communism is misery, poverty, and mass murder.  The legacy of Communism is bread lines, baggy, ill-cut, cheap clothing; it is Stalin’s purges and 2014_05_23_Rule Five Friday (4)Mao’s Great Leap Forward, both episodes that caused the deaths of millions.

And this jackass wants to emulate that?  Here?

I’m no wild-eyed conspiracy theorist or survivalist kook, but an attempt – a serious attempt – to implement Communism here would be enough to drive me to arms.

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Rule Five Friday

2014_05_16_Rule Five Friday (1)Let’s talk about energy, as though you might need an additional boost to go along with the refueling aspect of the Rule Five Friday totty.  The young lady pictured here has no connection to the story and to our knowledge is not connected with the energy industry in any way; her appearance here is purely gratuitous.

But who does have a connection to the energy industry in the U.S. today?  Harold Hamm does, and Forbes has his story.  Excerpt:

Two Scotches in, with seats on the floor of Oklahoma City’s Chesapeake Energy CHK -2.7% Arena, Harold Hamm is feeling good. And why not? His hometown Thunder is spending the evening whupping the Philadelphia 76ers. Earlier Hamm announced big bonuses for 2014_05_16_Rule Five Friday (2)Continental Resources CLR +0.04% employees, courtesy of record oil production. And a judge’s ruling, revealed that morning, in Hamm’s divorce case suggested the energy tycoon would keep the Continental shares he already owned when he married soon-to-be-ex Sue Ann Hamm 26 years ago. With that chunk of stock, encompassing about $16 billion out of his $16.9 billion fortune, Hamm owns 70% of Continental.

As every wildcatter knows, such is life in the oil patch when you’re on a hot streak. And Hamm’s on perhaps the most epic one in domestic energy history, perhaps save for John D. Rockefeller’s. No one, aside from kings, dictators and post-Soviet kleptocrats, personally owns more black gold–Continental has proved reserves of 1 billion barrels, mostly locked underneath North Dakota. Hamm took the company public in 2007–and shares are up 600% since, as the revolution in horizontal drilling has given America a cheap energy 2014_05_16_Rule Five Friday (3)booster shot, fueling factories, keeping a lid on gas prices and adding millions of jobs.

Of course, there are many more barrels locked up under public lands, where our supposed employees in the Imperial City refuse to allow drilling.  But that’s another story.

Hamm seems a character straight out of an Ayn Rand novel; driven, innovative, passionate about his line of work.  He started in the industry at the age of 16, pumping gas in a service station; now he controls more oil than anyone outside of the Middle East.  A pioneer of horizontal drilling, he now has realized a net worth of $16.9 billion- and he’s earned every penny of it.

Why is a man like this not held up as a national hero?  A man to be admired and emulated?  Because he had a single-minded drive to 2014_05_16_Rule Five Friday (4)success?  Because he succeeded on his own merits, realized the rewards of hard work and enormous risks?

The Forbes article concludes:

Hubris–almost inevitable when you own 70% of a company–is also a concern. America’s richest oil baron has been catching flak recently for what appears to be self-dealing, including a $340 million purchase by Continental of another North Dakota oil company he co-owned and a five-year, $100 million contract Continental signed with a pipeline firm owned by Hamm and his family. (Hamm says both deals passed muster with the board and will boost Continental’s performance.)

But such headaches will prove ephemeral if Hamm wins his bet and delivers on his promise of unlimited oil and gas. Such results would surely make Hamm one of the 20 richest people in the world. And just as surely 2014_05_16_Rule Five Friday (5)reshape America in the process.

And he will probably be reviled for greed, instead of admired as a uniquely American success story.  Why?

Who is John Galt?

Hamm’s work has the potential to completely reshape the American economy for the better.  He has created thousands, maybe tens of thousands of jobs directly and indirectly.  He has made energy in the form of everything from gasoline to heating oil more abundant and therefore cheaper.  He’s a man worthy of admiration.

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