Saturday, August 31, 2019

GAS!

It's a little past 2AM and I made some phone calls and found a Shell station that just got an emergency shipment in. I now have enough to get me to the Georgia state line or very close.

Dorian... boo hiss. 

(Update) Well that looks like a waste of a good night's sleep. Prayers for those up north now in the cross hairs.

Friday, August 30, 2019

Ray Dalio: The Three Big Issues and the 1930s Analogue

Not going to try and excerpt this one. For those with an interest in economics, it is an interesting read.

Read it here.

Sunday, August 25, 2019

The Sultan of Pranks and 'Bunga Bunga'

And now for something a little lighter...


Julia Yost: Catholic-haters have just convicted an innocent man

By a 2-to-1 vote, an Australian appellate court this week dismissed George Cardinal Pell’s appeal of his conviction on five counts of “historic” child sexual abuse. For Pell’s supporters, the decision can hardly be surprising. Given the way things had gone, a just outcome would have come as a shock.

Prosecutors accused Pell of surprising two choirboys who were guzzling communion wine in the sacristy of the Melbourne cathedral immediately after Mass one Sunday in 1996. The cardinal was charged with forcing the boys to fellate him while he was still vested in archbishop’s robes.

The allegations were utterly implausible — for several reasons well-established by the defense at trial.

The cathedral’s communion wine was kept locked in a safe, for starters, and Pell couldn’t have left the post-Mass proceedings without his absence being noticed; witnesses attested this never happened. Likewise, the choirboys couldn’t have left the post-Mass proceedings without their absence being noticed; witnesses attested this never happened, either.

Plus, the sacristy would have been bustling with activity. As witnesses testified, Pell was never alone in the cathedral while vested for Mass but always accompanied by at least one assistant. The security arrangements and layout of the cathedral, and the respective locations of the cardinal and the choir, would have made it impossible for the abuse to occur as alleged. Nor is it physically possible to expose one’s genitals while vested in an archbishop’s robes.

Before he died in 2014, one of the two boys denied that he had “ever been interfered with or touched up” — by anyone. All this led 10 out of 12 jurors at Pell’s first trial to vote to acquit. Yet at the retrial, the jurors ignored the enormous weight of exculpatory evidence and voted in December to convict him amid a climate of media-driven anti-Catholic hysteria.

As the dissenting appellate judge was to conclude, the sole accuser’s wholly uncorroborated testimony “contained discrepancies, displayed inadequacies and otherwise lacked probative value.” Oh, well.

Read the rest here.

As I stated in my earlier post on this subject, I'm not sufficiently familiar with all of the evidence to express an informed opinion. But an awful lot of people whose judgement I respect have come down hard on this case.

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Comment moderation is on

Sorry for any inconvenience, but while I am truly sympathetic to the unique trials of his existence, the wave of comments from Jerome the Vampire were not germane to the topics of the various threads he posted on. Hopefully this will just be a temporary speed bump. However, if you should notice that I am suddenly only posting at night...

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

For the record...

Cardinal Pell's conviction has been upheld on appeal. I am not sufficiently familiar with the details of the case to express an informed opinion. However, a number of people that I respect have grave misgivings about the matter.

Brexit Secretary signs order to scrap 1972 Brussels Act - ending all EU law in the UK

The 1972 Act is the vehicle that sees regulations flow into UK law directly from the EU’s lawmaking bodies in Brussels.
The announcement of the Act’s repeal marks a historic step in returning lawmaking powers from Brussels to the UK. We are taking back control of our laws, as the public voted for in 2016.
The repeal of the European Communities Act 1972 will take effect when Britain formally leaves the EU on October 31.
Speaking after signing the legislation that will crystallise in law the upcoming repeal of the ECA, the Secretary of State for Exiting the EU Steve Barclay said:
This is a clear signal to the people of this country that there is no turning back - we are leaving the EU as promised on October 31, whatever the circumstances - delivering on the instructions given to us in 2016.
The votes of 17.4 million people deciding to leave the EU is the greatest democratic mandate ever given to any UK Government. Politicians cannot choose which public votes they wish to respect. Parliament has already voted to leave on 31 October. The signing of this legislation ensures that the EU Withdrawal Act will repeal the European Communities Act 1972 on exit day.
The ECA saw countless EU regulations flowing directly into UK law for decades, and any government serious about leaving on October 31 should show their commitment to repealing it.
That is what we are doing by setting in motion that repeal. This is a landmark moment in taking back control of our laws from Brussels."
 Source.

Monday, August 19, 2019

Kamala Harris Promises To 'Disarm Violent Hate' by Seizing Guns From Bigots

Sen. Kamala Harris (D–Calif.), who is seeking the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, says that if elected she will push legislation that would authorize federal courts to issue gun confiscation orders against people who express opinions that may indicate an intent to commit a hate crime. These "domestic terrorism prevention orders" would "temporarily restrict a person's access to guns if they exhibit clear evidence of dangerousness," including "violent racist threats or anti-immigrant manifestos."

Harris' plan to "disarm violent hate" is pretty vague, so it's hard to say whether it would be consistent with the First Amendment. If the bill she imagines would merely create a federal "red flag" law focused on a subset of people deemed a threat to others, that would be bad enough, since these laws generally give short shrift to due process. But her description of the problem she is trying to address suggests that constitutionally protected speech might by itself be enough to suspend someone's Second Amendment rights.

"From El Paso to the Tree of Life Synagogue, and from Poway to Mother Emanuel Church," her campaign website says, "one thing is clear: Guns are the weapon of choice for domestic terrorists and perpetrators of hate crimes….Whether it's violent racist threats or anti-immigrant manifestos, signs of impending violence are often evident before tragedy strikes." While that may be true in retrospect, it does not mean that all racists, nativists, white supremacists, or anti-Semites who express their views online, or even a significant percentage of them, are bent on mass murder.

Read the rest here.

Friday, August 16, 2019

Danger: The Greek Church may be preparing to recognize the Ukrainian schismatics


While the Orthodox Church of Greece has yet to make any official decision regarding the Constantinople-created “Orthodox Church of Ukraine” (OCU), new information indicates that that the hierarchs are strongly considering recognizing the schismatic structure. 

Moreover, Constantinople’s continuing pressure could lead to a schism among the 20 ruling monasteries of Mt. Athos. 

The OCU was created in December and granted a tomos of autocephaly by Constantinople in January, but has thus far failed to achieve recognition by any Church other than Constantinople. Several branches of Orthodoxy, including the Serbian Church, the Polish Church, and the Orthodox Church in America have rejected and explicitly referred to the OCU as schismatics. Several others have expressed serious concerns and called for a pan-Orthodox council to resolve the ongoing issue. 

Certain hierarchs of the Greek Church have effectively recognized the OCU for themselves: Several have already concelebrated with representatives of the OCU, and an archimandrite from the Metropolis of Demetrias and Almyros was even released to become a “bishop” in the OCU. There have been no reports of any of these hierarchs being reprimanded or sanctioned by the Greek Synod in any way. 

However, the most influential voice in the Greek Church in favor of recognizing the OCU, has been His Eminence Metropolitan Hierotheos (Vlachos) of Nafpaktos, an internationally-recognized theologian. Met. Hierotheos has not served with the OCU, but has written several essays detailing his view of the prerogatives of the Patriarchate of Constantinople and arguing that the Greek Church (and, in fact, no Local Church) has no right to object to what Constantinople has done. The OCU must be accepted, he writes, until a pan-Orthodox council can take up the matter. 

Read the rest here.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

California To Become Yugoslavia


It is hardly a controversial opinion to state that the United States is disintegrating. To be more precise: the ties that bind us together as Americans are fraying, and even dissolving. I don’t believe that this is going to result in the political disintegration of America, as in the Civil War, but I could be wrong about that. The forces of disintegration grow stronger, and there are no counterforces of any potency. The media love to bang on about how Donald Trump is dividing the country by practicing racial politics, and they’re not entirely wrong about that. But I submit to you that nothing Donald Trump says will have remotely the impact that the State of California is about to have through revising its public education curriculum to fill it with Social Justice Warrior content, particularly on race.
The Los Angeles Times reports:
In actions that would affect more than 6.5 million California students, state lawmakers are poised to make ethnic studies a graduation requirement in high school and at Cal State universities, raising the stakes for a team of educators drafting the model curriculum, those who are arguing for changes to it, and also for critics — who see an academic field dominated by one-sided, insular political correctness and separatism.
More:
The high school requirement — the first such in the nation, according to a legislative analysis — appears to have broad backing among Sacramento lawmakers and beyond. A separate bill, mandating an ethnic studies class for every Cal State student, has drawn a mixed reaction at campuses. Although there is wide support for ethnic studies courses, some Cal State faculty and administrators strongly oppose a state requirement. The public’s chance to comment on the model curriculum closes Thursday.
“California is committed to getting this work right,” Linda Darling-Hammond, president of the state Board of Education, said in a letter to the Los Angeles Times. “We will not accept a curriculum that fails to address difficult issues in a way that promotes open-mindedness and independent thought — skills our students need to understand vital societal and civic forces.”
At its core, supporters say, ethnic studies classes teach students how to think critically about the world around them, “tell their own stories,” develop “a deep appreciation for cultural diversity and inclusion” and engage “socially and politically” to eradicate bigotry, hate and racism. This description, from the draft of the model curriculum, is meant to guide California K-12 educators in creating coursework whether or not the new graduation requirement becomes law.
Among those who say the proposed curriculum falls short of its lofty goals is Williamson M. Evers, a research fellow at the conservative Hoover Institution , based at Stanford.
“Instead of an objective account of the history of ethnic groups and their current situation, this is a biased portrait emphasizing suffering and victimization, serving as a kind of road map to create ideological activists based on racial identity,” Evers said. “Will you be graded on having the politically correct answers?”
Among other things, Evers objects to the association of capitalism with forms of oppression. He also is put off by the academic language that has grown up around the field, which employs such terms as “herstory” and “hxrstory” to replace “history.”
The curriculum’s supporters don’t deny that it’s politicized:

Read the rest here.

Report: OCA to go under Constantinople (dubious)

Details here.
HT: Dr. Tighe

This is so implausible that I had to check to see if it wasn't April 1st on some obscure calendar. Alas not. That said, I am highly dubious and would encourage this rumor be taken with a very large grain of salt pending further development.

There are far too many reasons why this is unlikely to happen. The history of the relationship between the OCA and the EP has been chilly... at best. The OCA has strong historical, cultural and canonical ties with the Russian Church. Given the current schism between Moscow and Constantinople, such an act might well end in a break in communion with the OCA's mother church. Indeed the OCA would almost certainly have to recognize a schismatic entity in Ukraine. (That would have me packing my jurisdictional bags and heading for the door.) A huge percentage of the OCA's membership is of Russian decent. I don't think they would put up with such a move. And lastly the idea that the OCA has been engaged in secret negotiations of this sort is astonishing at the very least. If true, I think it would infuriate both the rank and file clergy as well as the laity.

For these and so many other reasons, this strikes me as simply incredible in the classical sense of the word.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez May be in Trouble

A list of political donors to AOC's reelection campaign show almost none from within her own district. Only ten(!) residents of her district have been named in required FEC filings. It needs to be noted that the FEC only requires donations of $200 and up to be listed, but this is still a shocking report.

In my view this represents her failure to remember Tip O'Neil's famous maxim that "all politics is local." While the self proclaimed socialist Congresswoman has become the darling of the hard left, and standing between her and a television news camera has been reportedly dangerous to one's health, there remains a serious question. What has she done for the people of her district? Aside from saving them from the horror of thousands of good paying jobs that Amazon was going bring, I can't think of anything.

Details

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Trump may have just blinked in China trade war

  • Some influential voices on Wall Street are saying Trump blinked in the latest exchange with China and showed just how much pain the U.S. could tolerate. China may use that to its advantage.
  • “Tell me why Xi should not continue to wait out The World’s Greatest Negotiator, who keeps ‘dealing’ with himself?” says Jim Chanos, founder and managing Partner of Kynikos Associates.
  • Markets rallied on the announcement by the U.S. Trade Representative office that certain items were being removed from the new China tariff list and others would be delayed until mid-December.
Details.

Trump's decision to stand up to China's abusive trade practices is one of a handful of subjects where I have supported him. But there have always been three serious weaknesses. First, although both the US and China have significant national debts, China's is less than half that of the US as a percentage of GDP. Secondly Xi does not have to face reelection by the people of the People's Republic. Trump does have to face reelection and if the economy tanks it would seriously damage his prospects. And lastly there is Trump's temperament which is mercurial on a good day.

Xi understands all of this and has no reason to rush into a deal that would be disadvantageous to China when he can afford to sit back and wait to see if November 2020 brings some improvement in the political landscape.

Chinese troops reported massing on the border of Hong Kong

The only thing surprising here is that Bejing has let things go for as long as they have.
Chinese propaganda outlets warned on Tuesday that protesters in Hong Kong are “asking for self-destruction,” as they released a video showing military vehicles amassing near the border of the city.

Meanwhile, the city’s embattled leader, Carrie Lam, told the news media on Tuesday that “lawbreaking activities in the name of freedom” were damaging the rule of law and that the Asian financial hub’s recovery from anti-government protests could take a long time.

Her comments came after Beijing said widespread anti-government protests in the semi-autonomous city showed “sprouts of terrorism,” and such violence must be severely punished, “without leniency, without mercy.”

Hong Kong’s airport reopened Tuesday early morning after airport authorities canceled all flights on Monday, blaming demonstrators’ disruption to regular operations. Another sit-in is expected to take place at the airport, a major global hub, on Tuesday.

Despite that reopening, Hong Kong flag carrier Cathay Pacific said it had cancelled over 200 flights to and out of the airport for the day, according to its website.

The protest at the airport, while disruptive, was largely peaceful. That’s in contrast to Sunday night, where protesters appeared to have thrown Molotov cocktails at police stations around the city and dozens of protesters were arrested.

Read the rest here.

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Jeffrey Epstein and the shadow of 1963


Not since Jack Ruby gunned down Lee H. Oswald has there been a death so likely to fuel conspiracy theories.

While I can understand the explosion of conspiracy theories over this, my gut says that Occam's razor applies. It is far more likely that one or more people dropped the ball and Epstein was able to kill himself. But in situations like this, truth and facts quickly become meaningless. There is a certain percentage of the population with a predisposition to conspiracy theorism who have long since decamped to their own "24" alternate reality, and they aren't coming home. But when things happen that look so bloody awful, it can push otherwise reasonable people into that dark alternative universe, at least when dealing with the given subject. The murder of President Kennedy being a prime example.

Saturday, August 03, 2019

France is Sinking into Chaos and Authoritarianism

  • President Macron never says he is sorry for those who have lost an eye or a hand... from extreme police brutality. Instead, he asked the French parliament to pass a law that almost completely abolishes the right to protest and the presumption of innocence, and that allows the arrest of anyone, anywhere, even without cause. The law was passed.
  • In June, the French parliament passed another law, severely punishing anyone who says or writes something that might contain "hate speech". The law is so vague that an American legal scholar, Jonathan Turley, felt compelled to react. "France", he wrote, "has now become one of the biggest international threats to freedom of speech".
  • The main concern of Macron and the French government seems not to be the risk of riots, the public's discontent, the disappearance of Christianity, the disastrous economic situation, or Islamization and its consequences. Instead, it is climate change.
  • "The West no longer knows what it is, because it does not know and does not want to know what shaped it, what constituted it, what it was and what it is. (...) This self-asphyxiation leads naturally to a decadence that opens the way to new barbaric civilizations." — Cardinal Robert Sarah, in Le soir approche et déjà le jour baisse ("The Evening Comes, and already the Light Darkens").

Read the rest here.

Friday, August 02, 2019

For only the second time in her life...

The elder of my two sisters has bought a car, a 2019 Honda Civic. The last time was 1990. Yes, she paid cash both times.