Monday, July 29, 2013

The War on Leaks

. . . that Obama doesn’t like.  This morning, my computer greeted me with the following login banner:

Continuing Evaluation Program banner

As the pictures suggest, “adverse information” means abuse of alcohol, drugs, and gambling, not espionage per se.

Thursday, July 25, 2013


. . . under penalty of law.  From the AP:

Tenn. woman ticketed for swimming in NJ inlet
Posted: Jun 28, 2013 11:11 AM EDT Updated: Jun 28, 2013 11:11 AM EDT

POINT PLEASANT BEACH, N.J. (AP) — A Tennessee woman was issued a summons after she had to be rescued while trying to swim in a dangerous inlet while vacationing in New Jersey.

So, first of all, I have no idea why someone from Tennessee would stop for gas in New Jersey, let alone vacation there.

An official say 23-year-old Amy Sartor of Cleveland, Tenn., jumped off the rocks in Point Pleasant Beach and tried to swim across the Manasquan Inlet on Thursday night.

In my (relative) youth, I once swam a mile out to sea off the north shore of Oahu to one of the navigation buoys.  In my defense, I thought the buoy was only three feet high, not the 12-15 feet it turned out to be once I got there.  But the point is that I can relate to the desire to set a challenge for oneself.

Sartor got caught in the fast current and was pulled out to sea.

Police Detective Clint Daniel tells the Asbury Park Press Sartor was 50 yards off the jetty when she was first spotted and 200 yards by the time Coast Guard rescuers reached her.

Sartor was issued a ticket for violating a borough ordinance of misbehavior. The ticket carries a fine of $200 to $500.

No court date has been set.

An “ordinance of misbehavior”?  Did the woman cross a clearly-marked “no swimming” sign?  Apparently not, else we would be hearing about it.  So this strikes me as an overly-broad application of an overly-broad ordinance.  On top of which, are we really going to start fining people for doing risky things?  I’m pretty sure that rule will be applied very selectively.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Random Thoughts . . .

Kudos to Steve for calling the gay angle over a year in advance. The interesting question, which of course the media won't touch, is whether Trayvon's profiling of Zimmerman was merely "homophobia" or a legitimate Bayesian inference for a young man in his position to make.

I went to the gun show last weekend. The arena where the gun show is held is in a Bad Neighborhood. And oooooo . . . the hostile looks from the People From The Bad Neighborhood! On a positive note, I bought some .223 reloads from The Brass Kings for $.39 per, and some 62 gr. Wolf (I think -- it says WPA on the box, Russian steel case) for $.37 per. Best prices in a while, though not as good as last fall.

What difference did the whole business make? Gun ownership continues to grow. People will still defend themselves when their lives are threatened, reasoning that it's better to be judged by twelve, etc. There may be more of a reluctance to "get involved" over suspicious-looking minorities.

The big loser: neighborhood watch associations. The $1M settlement against Zimmerman's HOA (H.T.: Hale) will make other communities leary of officially sanctioning them. What does a neighborhood watch do, other than phone in suspicious or criminal activity, which good citizens should be doing anyway?

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Curtis Sliwa on Trayvon Martin

From the Daily Beast:

Bernhard Goetz on George Zimmerman: ‘The Same Thing Is Happening’

by Harry Siegel, Filipa Ioannou Jul 12, 2013 4:45 AM EDT

Thirty years after the shooting that divided New York, the ‘subway vigilante,’ Al Sharpton & Curtis Sliwa talk to Harry Siegel and Filipa Ioannou about the Trayvon Martin case.

. . . .

But Curtis Sliwa—the founder of the Guardian Angels, the multiracial red-beret-wearing urban patrol group whose members were ubiquitous on trains and elsewhere around 1980s New York, and a prominent ally of Goetz at the time—laughed at the comparison.

I was a big fan of Sliwa and his organization back in the 80’s.  He bravely stood up for Goetz and other crime victims who sought the means for their own protection back when it was nigh impossible to legally carry a gun anywhere.  The Angles may have been dramatic, but they were an inspiration to those of us who were tired of hearing that citizens had to rely on the police rather than themselves.  And for his trouble, the likes of Al Sharpton (who, let’s remember, was around back then pimping Tawana Brawley) said the same thing about Sliwa as he now says about Zimmerman.

The point is that Sliwa has earned a respectful hearing.

“Bernie Goetz is Charles Bronson in Death Wish,” said Sliwa. “He had enough, and Darrell Cabey represented every guy who had tried to mug him before. George Zimmerman is Travis Bickle in Taxi Driver. He’s a nut. He’s a complete nut job who thinks he’s on a ‘mission,’ and this young black man ended up on his radar screen, and then dead.

“Because I deal with the wannabes who want to join the Guardian Angels, I see right away what this guy Zimmerman is: a self-appointed guardian. It’s him determining who is and is not a threat. Forget laws, forget standards, forget the police. Goetz had already been victimized, thrown thru a plate-glass window (in an attemped day-time robbery on Canal Street in 1981). When the four guys began to surround him on the train, to do that dance that many of us were used to back then, when the predators would sniff you out and maybe they’d rob you but they would empower themselves and you’d be completely emasculated and realize there’s nothing you can do if these guy pounce––but this time he got the jump.”

I need somebody to walk me through the significance of the charge against Zimmerman for being a “wannabe”.  If the point is that Zimmerman didn’t have police training – that, for instance, he didn’t have the skill to keep from losing a fistfight with a 17 year-old – then fine.  But as psychological analysis, the obvious rejoinder is that what is an actual police officer before he becomes a police officer but a wannabe police officer?  I don’t actually know – I’ve read that police officers generally have a high personal (and professional) need to maintain dominance, but otherwise I have no idea why people chose law enforcement over other careers.

Those trying to suggest Martin was likewise some sort of thug who brought on his own death because he smoked marijuana or bragged with friends about fighting, “they should impale themselves," said Sliwa. "Here’s a kid, goes out at half-time to get Skittles and iced tea, puts his hoodie on because it’s starting to rain, doesn’t say anything to anybody, isn’t eye-fornicating anybody, just minding his own business. He doesn’t have a M.O. He doesn’t do home invasions. What the hell are you following this kid for? Goddamn right he fights back. The same law that says you can stand and defend yourself in Florida—Martin is defending himself against a guy approaching him with a gun and confronting him.”

Several things here.  I will stipulate that young Trayvon was not, at the time Zimmerman followed him, in the process of committing a crime.  But Sliwa should admit that if Zimmerman was a wannabe cop, Trayvon was a wannabe gangsta.  He wasn’t actually a gangster:  drugs, petty theft, fistfights and mugging with guns on facebook do not make someone a hardened criminal.  But he went out of his way to look like he “was up to no good.”  Yes, it was mostly an act.  But the act was good enough to fool Zimmerman.

Second, Sliwa is buying uncritically, in the teeth of the evidence, the media’s accusation that Trayvon was “fighting back” instead of the person who initiated the fight.  If Sliwa wants to argue that it is lawful and prudent to physically attack a stranger when he follows you, then he should say that outright.

“Oh no,” Sliwa said when asked if he would stand behind Goetz in the same circumstance now. “Today, 2013, it’s Disneyland in comparison. Imagine you’re going back to a time when this city was out of control, when anarchy prevailed, when the gun that Goetz carried––there were a lot of illegal weapons being carried by law-abiding people who just felt it was their only line of defense.”

Alternately, he said, if Zimmerman had shot Martin in exactly the same circumstances 30 years ago, “he would have been given the benefit of the doubt. People would have said, ‘Yeah, that kid was probably up to no good.’ So, Zimmerman’s mind-set was circa 1977 New York City and that’s not 2013 Sanford… He lives in a fantasy make-believe world where there are enemies, potentially predators, lurking everywhere. He’s what we used to call in the neighborhood a screwball.”

I can relate to this.  It’s not 1977 New York anymore.  It would be easy for someone to accuse me, based on Monday’s post, of cultivating a paranoid worldview.  It would be easy to characterize my house as an armed camp in wild disproportion to the actual threat I face in lily-white Φ-ville.  “Why do you need to own so many guns?”  “Why do you need to carry a gun when you are walking around your house, playing frisbee with your kids, mowing the lawn, going out to dinner?”

My best answer is that stuff happens.  I could probably sell all my guns tomorrow, put the money into landscaping, and live a long and healthy life, kind of like I could cancel my fire insurance once I pay my mortgage.  But I choose to keep both because I cannot afford the consequences of needing them and not having them.  I can’t afford replacing my house or murdered family members, and relatively modest cost I don’t want to pay the psychological cost of being the victim of a home invasion.  Because like Zimmerman’s community, Φ-ville also suffers burglaries fairly routinely, and we’ve had at least one home invasion that I know of.

It may be that fortifying myself against these serves some dark psychological need.  But let me turn the question around and ask Mr. Sliwa:  how much crime am I expected to tolerate before such preparations become defensible in his opinion?

Monday, July 15, 2013


Police: NW Indiana waitress murdered for tip money

Arrest made in NJ nanny cam home invasion

'Someone had taken out my insides and stabbed them': Alleged victim of 2009 homecoming dance...

Street performer assaulted outside Summerfest

Woman killed after confronting men in car about speeding in west Mobile neighborhood

Caught On Camera: Police Say Teen Beaten For Shoes, And Web Notoriety

Cyclist beaten on Metropolitan Branch Trail brings out Guardian Angels

Good Samaritan helps man beaten by teenagers |

Woman recounts assault downtown

Judge to rule on insanity verdict in Midtown shooting trial

Caught on camera: Terrifying moment hooded gunman pointed his weapon at New York taxi driver - just.

Family of slain auto shop owner: 'We are lost'

College student's murder yields $10

3rd teen charged in Beaver Falls slaying

Akron police investigate teen mob attack on family

Witness To Brutal Attack Speaks With WJZ - CBS Baltimore

'Even momma got outta house to loot new shirt': Looters brag on Twitter

Only On Fox: Teenagers Surrender in 12-Year-Old Girl's Murder

Early-morning supermarket shooting: Ex-Marine kills 2 co-workers, then himself in Old Bridge

Mother's horror as she fights to make buses free to all students... and her son is brutally BEATEN

Suspects sought in Laurelhurst Park mob attacks

Police: Man attacked because teens 'were just bored'

Suspect Arrested In Greenville Co. Homicide

Award-winning children's book illustrator beaten in her home by boy, 14, with a SHOVEL

Teen accused of raping elderly KC woman during home burglary -

3 indicted in assault of elderly Mansfield woman

83-year-old woman raped, beaten and murdered

Elderly Tulsa Attack Victim, Bob Strait, Dies Friday

Pack of women arrested in 6 Train stabbing — after 63-year-old man asked them to be quiet: police

A Walk in the Park: 13-Year-Old McCarren Pool Attack Victim Needed Surgery To Repair Nose

Gunmen rob, kidnap man from Cabbagetown home |

Female resident shot in PTC home invasion | The Citizen

Smash mob causes havoc at Walmart

Boy, 15, slashed across chest on walk to school

Knife thug jailed for stabbing Good Samaritan who stood up for fellow bus passengers - Crime - News.

Police: Cook Gunned Down Over Long Wait Times - CBS Los Angeles

11 Arrested After 4th Of July Mob Attack At Dearborn And Huron - CBS Chicago

Woman attacked while ordering lunch at McDonald's drive-thru |

Estranged husband charged in Gatineau, Que., murders | CTV News

Police: Pizza delivery woman stabbed 50 times

Father, 56, in critical condition after being stabbed trying to shield dying son from frenzied attac

Flash Mob Steals From Baltimore 7-Eleven; Beats Store Manager Who Tries To Stop Them - CBS Baltimore

Newark Star-Ledger admits to censoring race in savage mob attacks - Charleston Charleston Conservati

Mob beating goes unreported for two weeks, tweet references Trayvon Martin

Brutal home invasion of Oklahoma couple ends their 65-year romance after first meeting on a blind da

Alton Hayes III | Suspect: I Beat Up White Man Because I Am Mad About Trayvon Martin Case

Man Beaten By Mob, In Critical Condition

And for good measure:

Mother Seeks Trayvon Martin Trademarks

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Spanish Day in Φ-ville

Here are some slides from my 3rd grader’s school program.  The point, I think, was to call attention to famous Hispanics.

Simon Bolivar

Simón Bolívar died in 1830, which means, um, he never used Twitter.  Ditto the entries for Benito Juárez, Celia Cruz, Roberto Clemente, Tito Puente (who was born in New York City), and of course Diego Rivera, Salvador Dali and Pablo Picasso.

File:Ellen Ochoa.jpgEllen Ochoa, presently the director of the Johnson Space Center, may very well use Twitter.  She was born in Los Angeles, although her slide neglects to mention that, saying simply, “I am from Mexico”.





Jessica Alba was born in Beverly Hills.   Jessica Alba

The slides for Selena Gomez and Eva Longoria showed similar incoherence.  What does it mean to be “from” someplace you weren’t actually born and to which you have no intention of going?

In the category of living Hispanics of non-U.S. births, we were shown slides for Carlos Santana (Mexico), Rita Moreno (Puero Rico), Shakira (Columbia), Enrique Iglesias (Spain), Penélope Cruz (Spain), Salma Hayek (Mexico), Antonio Banderas (Spain), Jennifer Lopez (Puero Rico), and Gloria Estefan (Cuba).  All singers and actors.

Monday, July 08, 2013

Tolerance: Working as Planned

Last February, attached to a very brief notice advertising a speaker for the National Prayer Luncheon, were two documents. The first was from the Deputy Chief of Chaplains, BGen Bobby Page:

Since the image is crappy (more on this in a moment), here is an excerpt:

As a reminder, advertising and promoting these interfaith events is to be done by Chaplain Corps members . . . . Some teams still look to First Sergeants or other representatives to help them make tickets available in the squadrons. This is acceptable as long as these squadron representatives do nothing to suggest government or personal endorsement of a religious event. [Emphasis added.]

The second was from then-AF Chief of Staff Gen Norton Schwartz:

Since this picture sucks more:

Leaders at all levels must balance Constitutional protections for an individual's free exercise of religion or other personal beliefs and its prohibition against governmental establishment of religion. For example, they must avoid the actual or apparent use of their position to promote their personal religious beliefs to their subordinates or to extend preferential treatment for any religion. Commanders or supervisors who engage in such behavior may cause members to doubt their impartiality or objectivity. The potential result is a degradation of the unit's morale, good order, and discipline.

Chaplain Corp programs . . . are vital to commanders' support of individual Airmen's needs and provide opportunities for the free exercise of religion. Although commanders are responsible for these programs, they must refrain from appearing to officially endorse religion generally or any particular religion. Therefore, I expect chaplains, not commanders, to notify Airmen of Chaplain Corps programs.

So it appears that commanders are not allowed to "appear to officially endorse" chaplain programs, including telling people about them.

It appears that the Left has gone from hating the military to subverting it to their own ends.

Weirdly, I couldn't actually find the full text of either of these letters on any official website, although they have been quoted extensively on atheist websites dancing on the grave of Christian America.

As a technical matter, does anyone understand how to use Google Drive to store pdfs for display on blogger? The embed code that Google Drive generates doesn't work well with blogger's narrow reading area, especially since it puts page thumbnails on the left side.

Thursday, July 04, 2013

A Hostile Work Environment

From the Army Chief of Staff Raymond T. Odierno:

It is time we take on the fight against sexual assault and sexual harassment as our primary mission.

I had a talk with a squadron commander down at Lackland AFB in San Antonio, TX, ground zero in the current frenzy over sexual assault in the Air Force.

Φ: It must be mentally taxing to wake up every day viscerally afraid of what you will read on the front page of the paper.

CC:  It’s a hostile work environment.  Over the last two years I have seen my boss, his boss, and multiple other squadron commanders been relieved of command, their careers essentially over.  I have been involved in two courts martial and scores of letters of reprimand (LORs) and admonishment (LOAs).  For our enlisted Military Training Instructors (MTIs), these can prevent them from reenlisting, essentially casting them out of the service with 15 years in.

Φ: How has this impacted the ability to find MTIs?

CC: A few years ago, being an MTI was a good career move, so we had more volunteers than opportunities.  Now, nobody volunteers, and the Air Force has to “non-vol” people to the assignment.  And even then, a fair number of non-vols suddenly come down with disqualifying physical ailments that prevent them from serving.  So the Air Force Personnel Center burns through a lot of people to keep the place staffed.

Φ: I have to say, as someone who confines his sexual assaulting to his own house, that I have trouble understanding the mentality of the guy who wakes up and thinks that rape is a good idea.

CC: Rape is almost never involved.  Almost all of these relationships are consensual as normal people understand the word.  But they are nonetheless improper by Air Force regulations.  Trainees are off-limits to instructors.  They usually get started at the end of Basic Training.  An instructor will slip a trainee his number with a give-me-a-call-sometime.  Which the trainee, besotted with the status and power of her MTI, will of course do.  She will be in “tech school” (specialty training) by this point, but is still off-limits to MTIs.

Φ: My impression is that illicit relationships usually come to light when they go bad, as they often do.  Is that the case here?

They can go bad in several ways.  The Office of Special Investigations (OSI) runs a hotline where anyone can call to report an MTI, and twenty or so agents whose full time duty is to investigate the claims.  The reporters are often the trainees claiming an affair with their MTI, but it can also be an angry wife.  The MTIs are also reporting on each other, which is the primary way the scandal has spider-webbed as it has.

Φ: Are there any repercussions on trainees for their role in the affair?

CC: Only if we can prove that they lied about the affair, which is a practical impossibility, even if the claim itself is found to lack merit.

But that kind of dynamic has come to permeate the training environment over the last couple of years.  There has been an explosion in the number of rules governing what MTIs can do and not do, and a whole different attitude towards enforcement.  There are a million ways in which an MTI can get into trouble.

Here is an example.  I had to write a “letter of counseling” documenting an infraction for an MTI for having “tossed” mail at a trainee during mail call when the rules say that mail must be “handed” to trainees.  Now, there was no evidence of malicious intent here:  the MTIs are handing out mail to fifty people and trying to get it done quickly.  So he’s tossing mail in their laps as they sit around the room.  All it took was for one trainee to take issue with this for the MTI to get in trouble.

Another mail-related example:  the regulations say that trainees are to be given time to read their mail each evening.  An MTI consulted with his flight about how to balance this with the need to clean the barracks prior to an inspection the next morning.  The consensus was that they should get the work done first, but one dissenter decided to report the MTI for not allowing enough mail-reading time.

Sometimes this reporting is malicious.  In one case recently, we had a female MTI, good at her job and popular with most of the trainees, run afoul of a couple of people who decided they were going to get her fired.  So they carefully kept a log of her minutest infractions.  None of this was a secret.  The other trainees told us they were doing this, they admitted their intent, but at the end of investigation, it didn’t matter.  The MTI was fired, and the trainees are now part of our Air Force.

Φ: I don’t have a well-developed theory of military training.  I only know what it was like when I went through it.  But I am concerned about the kind of airmen this new kind of training environment is going to produce.

CC: I don’t think anybody knows the answer to this question.  We’re probably going to find out as these people go about their careers.

Φ: What kind of metrics do you track that measure the effectiveness of your training at producing quality airmen.

CC: There is a complete failure to keep quality metrics at any phase of this process.  We in basic training don’t measure anything except the rate at which our airmen complete the program.  But the problems begin in recruiting.  Air Force recruiters are evaluated on their ability to meet certain quotas of enlistments, but the quota is considered met as soon as the recruit steps on the bus to head to Lackland.  There are therefore no incentives to recruit quality or match it to appropriate career fields.

Φ: What are the consequences of this?

CC: Let me give you an example.  The Air Force puts a priority on creating battlefield airmen:  Air Force Special Operations, mainly combat rescue and combat control.  People are recruited into this career field before they arrive at Basic.  Once at Basic, while they receive much the same training, they are subjected not only to a more demanding physical fitness regimen, including swimming.  But in my experience, many of these recruits discover that the requirements of Special Operations aren’t quite like playing HALO on the XBox.  But they’ve already signed a contract.  They can’t just transfer out of Special Ops.  But they can fail out of it.  Suddenly, we find people unable to pass the PAST* test that they were able to do before arriving.

Φ: So people are sandbagging it.

CC: Probably, but we don’t know.  It could be recruiters are fudging the numbers in order to get recruits who meet particular demographic criteria into the program.

Φ: Demographic criteria?

CC: Oh, yeah.  Recruiters have quotas, but they also get double points for matching certain minorities to particular career fields.  They can get the word:  “This month we’re having a two-for-one sale on Asians in CCT.”

Φ: Umm . . . Asians?

CC: Or . . . whatever.**  And we in Basic have the opposite problem:  we get fit guys whose recruiters didn’t tell them about Special Ops who learn about it when they get here and ask for a transfer.  But they already have contracts to go into other fields, so we can’t just move them over.

Φ: What are the physical standards for basic trainees like?

CC: They are strictly controlled.  Once upon a time, if a trainee flight fell out of line, it was common for the MTIs to pack them in a room and tell them that they would do calisthenics “until the walls sweat.”  Now they can’t tell recruits to do more than 20 seconds of calisthenics at a time, although as training progresses they can be assigned multiple 20 second rounds in a session.

Every so often, we still get trainees who drop dead in the San Antonio heat.  There is a bit of theater about it:  we identify trainees who have or had certain conditions, and require them to wear a yellow ribbon around their arms during PT.  Of course, they still have to do the PT, and treatment for any problems is the same whether they have a ribbon or not, so it has exactly zero impact.  But it does give the commandant something to point that says, “I’m doing something to prevent trainees dropping dead during PT.”

Φ: Kind of a metaphor for the military’s approach to sexual assault, come to think of it.  I would have thought that people with health problems would have been screened out. 

CC: Not all health problems are disqualifying, but yes, the front-end screening isn’t as extensive as it perhaps should be.  There is some medical screening during the recruiting phase, but much more once they get here.  For instance, I had to tell one recruit he was H.I.V. positive.

Φ: How would you characterize the quality of your recruits overall.

CC: Historically speaking, they’re pretty good.  The average age of our recruits is higher than it was, as is the education level.  Whatever my other complaints, recruiters are sending us guys with college degrees now.

Φ: Umm . . . yeah, that’s the crappy economy working to your benefit.  Recruiters don’t have much to do with it.

CC: I guess that’s a fair point.

* BTW, for reasons I’m too lazy to research, the PAST test is easier now than when I took it in ‘95.  Back then we had to swim 1500 meters and run 3 miles, vice 1000 and 1.5.

** This squadron commander is a good and honest man, but he is unencumbered by any political or ideological  loyalties of which I am aware.

Monday, July 01, 2013

Divorce, Military Style

I received this in my inbox the other day:


When:  May 2013

Where: Airman & Family Readiness, Bldg X, Classroom Y


0900-0930 Survivor Benefits

0930-1000 Spiritual Aspects

1000-1030 Medical Benefits

1030-1100 Military and Civil Matters

1100-1200 LUNCH

1200-1230 Facing the Challenges of Divorce

1230-1300 Educational Benefits

1300-1330 Employment

1330-1400 Finances

1400-1430 Housing/Privatize Housing

1430-1500 Legal Aspects

So, my read is that, basically, the thrust of this seminar is to explain to women considering stepping out on their deployed husbands how they can keep all the benefits of being a military spouse without actually being a military spouse.

Did I get that right?