Friday, June 22, 2018

Have We Reached Peak Insanity?


Over at the Powerline blog John Hinderaker writes that we have reached peak political insanity. One would be hard put to disagree:

Over the last few days we have reached peak insanity, especially on Twitter. I can’t begin to recount all of the outrages. Apart from the whole nonsense at the Southern border that dominated the news, we had Peter Fonda, a former actor who was washed up decades ago, threatening Barron Trump to the extent that Melania Trump referred him to the Secret Service. We had a gang of socialists accosting Homeland Security Security Kirstjen Nielsen while she was eating dinner in a restaurant, and much more.

One member of the gang of socialists works at the Justice Department. Why does she still have her job? As long as these new Brown Shirts and Red Guards go unpunished, they will believe that their cause is righteous. Be clear that theirs are the tactics perfected by the Nazi Storm Troopers and Mao’s Red Guards.

These demonstrators and defamers are not liberals. They are radical zealots, the sort that are perfectly well described as fascists. They are running a domestic insurgency, like the French Resistance. As you know, the French Resistance was essentially a disloyal opposition.

Why are they fighting against Trump? They are continuing the Obama legacy of turning America's power against Americans, of refusing to fight Islamist terrorism but to tear the country apart over thought crimes. The Obama policy agenda might have turned to dust, but the Obama cultural legacy is alive and well.

They defy the most basic democratic norm, that being, respecting the winner of a fair election. And they will do everything in their power who supports the Incarnate Devil that is Donald Trump.

Liberals try to rule any support for President Trump out of bounds. Anyone who expresses even the mildest support for Trump is read out of polite society. He is shunned; he should be fired from his job; if he writes anything, it shouldn’t be printed; he is publicly denounced and inundated with hate; his home, in some instances, is besieged and his children terrorized. If he ventures out into public, he is harassed by bullies.

They do not care that Perhaps Trump won the election. These new fascists will do everything in their power—beginning by destroying the lives of those who work for him—to ensure that he cannot govern. As always, the press does not care.

And it is evil. It is incompatible with democracy or any kind of civil society. And, above all, it is completely crazy. After all, Donald Trump won the election. Donald Trump is the President of the United States. Liberals are trying to dictate, through mob rule and control over the press, that any support for the President of the United States is unacceptable and, if at all possible, career ending.

Hinderaker suggests that conservatives employ the same tactics on these radical zealots. It is not very kind of suggest it, but, in truth, it is inevitable that people on the political adopt the same tactics. After all, the leftist attack on conservatives does not date to yesterday. Many conservatives voted for Donald Trump precisely because they believed that he could match the left's bullying tactics.

Is Caffeine a Wonder Drug?


Time and experience have taught us to be skeptical over the latest news from the world of healthy eating. Remember when eggs and butter were going to kill you? Remember when a diet of grass and twigs was going to save your life.

So, the following news, deriving from a study of mouse circulatory systems, should be taken with a grain of skepticism. I post if for the amusement value.

It’s good news for coffee drinkers. It turns out that drinking four cups of coffee a day will protect and repair heart muscles, especially for retirees.

Naturally, we find this news in The Daily Mail.

Pensioners should drink four cups of coffee a day to protect and repair their heart muscle, research suggests.

Levels of caffeine, equivalent to drinking four cups of coffee, could help to protect healthy blood vessels and repair the heart after a heart attack, a study claims.

The stimulant boosts a protein known to be important in regenerating heart cells, and which could also protect them from damage.

Caffeine is thought to lower the risk for diseases such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and stroke, but the reasons for this are not well understood.

German researchers now think caffeine may make cells which line the arteries and veins healthier, improving their ability to resist or recover from damage.

The scientists say their findings 'should lead to better strategies for protecting heart muscle', and another expert called the results 'very interesting'.

They suggest caffeine could particularly benefit elderly people, whose hearts may be naturally weaker and more at risk of damage.

It turns out that caffeine is a wonder drug:

Research by Heinrich-Heine-University and the IUF-Leibniz Research Institute for Environmental Medicine in Dusseldorf, Germany, discovered the health-boosting effects of caffeine on heart cells.

They found the drug – which is also found in tea and soft drinks like Coca Cola – improves the function of cells lining the heart and blood vessels.

It does this by encouraging the movement of a vital protein – called p27 – into the cells. 

Caffeine also strengthens mitochondria, which give cells their energy, so they are more able to keep cells healthy and protect them, the study says.

Caffeine protects the hearts of ageing, pre-diabetic and obese mice.

The research, done on mice, showed caffeine protected the hearts of pre-diabetic, obese and old mice.

The researchers suggest it could offer the same benefits to elderly people, whose hearts are more at risk of damage and may have weaker cells. 

Thursday, June 21, 2018

How Are Things at Starbucks?


Now that it has touted itself as a leader in the social justice wars against white supremacy, Starbucks is having problems. We will refrain from defining cause and effect, but Starbucks stock tanked yesterday when it announced that it was closing 150 stores next year. Retrenchment must be the correct word.

The other correct term is: the price of virtue signaling. The Washington Times has the story:

Starbucks may have appeased progressives with its social-justice workshops and open-bathroom policy, but such moves have failed to caffeinate the company’s bottom line.

The coffee giant’s stock took a tumble Wednesday after CEO Kevin Johnson announced that Starbucks would close 150 company-owned stores next year instead of the expected 50, with an emphasis on underperforming shops in densely populated urban areas, and lowered growth projections.

Did the company’s open embrace of social justice lead to the shutdowns? Apparently, it did.

The Wash Times explains:

Mr. Johnson acknowledged that the decision to shut down 8,000 U.S. stores on May 29 for anti-bias training, driven by the high-profile arrests of two black men in Philadelphia, played a role in the company’s sluggish second-quarter performance.

“In this current quarter, certainly we had an unplanned initiative driven out of the Philadelphia incident, we closed all our stores for training, we had to delay some marketing, but none of that is an excuse,” Mr. Johnson told CNBC. “The fact is the way I think about a growth company at scale is we’ve got to deliver consistent growth, month after month, quarter after quarter, and year after year. And we have not done that.”

In response, Starbucks announced steps to streamline the company and increase its agility by “accelerating product innovation,” “leveraging the growing tea and refreshment category,” and responding to trends toward “health and wellness.”

Now the company is adding a tea business to its coffee business. Surely, that will do the trick. After all, tea is made from leaves. Thus it is greener that coffee. Frankly, I recommend that people cease doing business with a company that thinks its goal in life is to promote social justice. As for shareholders, forewarned is forearmed.

Should Revenge Porn Be Outlawed?


You would think that the issue is not controversial. After all, who among us can possibly favor revenge porn? Who among us would not like to see those who share compromising photos of former loves be punished?

In truth, the major opponent of New York State’s revenge porn bill was none other than Google? Perhaps it wanted to strike a blow for gender equity. Perhaps it does not care about the young women who are public humiliated by these photos?

When the NY state legislature readied itself to consider an anti-revenge porn bill, Google stepped in and lobbied against it. On the grounds that such laws would restrict its ability to monitor content. Of course, revenge porn constitutes an assault, so we can only wonder how Google made it a corporate freedom issue.

The Daily Beast explained:

New York state’s revenge-porn bill—which would have made nonconsensual sharing of sexual images punishable by jail time—died early Thursday morning following a last-ditch campaign by Google. The state senate adjourned for the year and took no action on the proposal, which was introduced in 2013 and recently taken up again after a campaign by the New York Post. The bill would have made it possible to give those found guilty of the crime as much as a year in prison and would have helped victims force internet hosts into removing the images. Google staged a late effort against the bill, saying it was opposed to government oversight on how it regulates content. 

Winners and Losers in the Singapore Summit


Apparently, the Trump-Kim Singapore summit was a success. Otherwise, why would the media be filled with horrifying images of refugee children. The derangement and the hysteria are palpable. For those simpletons who cannot think past the argumentum ad Hitlerum, the Trump policy of dividing families that entered the country illegally smacks of concentration camps and crematoria. 

Naturally, Trump’s detractors do not accept that the president accomplished anything significant in Singapore. Over 80% of the people of South Korea think that he did. Since they have skin in the game, we should take their view seriously. On this side of the world, the hatred of Trump is so completely over the top that the vast majority of comments, whether from legislators, political leaders, columnists and even corporate chieftains has been decidedly negative.

Thus, for your edification, I draw attention to an article in the highly esteemed journal Foreign Affairs. Chung-in Moon explains that the Singapore summit was a success for all involved. For the record he is a South Korean foreign policy expert who works with president Moon Jae-in. I will not detail all the arguments, but will limit myself to a salient quotation:

In a war there are losers and winners but in diplomacy there are rarely black-and-white outcomes. Rather than keeping score, the goal is to find acceptable compromises for both sides. Although there might be differences in relative gains, diplomatic negotiation usually entails an imperfect win-win outcome. That was the case with the Singapore summit. The United States was assured that North Korea is committed to complete denuclearization, while the North was assured of a new relationship with the United States and a security guarantee. South Korea was also a beneficiary of the summit, because the Singapore declaration explicitly reaffirmed the April 2018 Panmunjom Declaration between Seoul and Pyongyang regarding denuclearization and the building of a peace regime. So, too, was China a winner, because its proposal for a “double suspension” of both North Korea’s nuclear and missile activities and U.S. military exercises with South Korea, and the dual-track approach to denuclearization and a peace regime, were all reflected in the signed statement and post-summit announcements. In short, there were no losers in Singapore, which is quite an accomplishment.

Quite an accomplishment….

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

The Case of the Bad Friend


As often happens in Ask Polly columns we do not know enough about the letter writer to offer an intelligent, well-reasoned response. This never deters Polly herself, because she prefers running off at length about herself… about which she thinks she knows a great deal.

Today’s letter writer, Bad Friend, is wondering whether she is an asshole. She has many friends and seems to be likeable and outgoing. Yet, she does not to make plans to see her friends. She wants to be alone. Apparently, she has a Greta Garbo complex and wants to be left alone.

As it happens, she is married to a woman, with whom she presumably lives. Whether her spouse, who plays the extrovert to her introvert, leaves her alone… we do not know. Extroverts are not known for leaving you alone.

The writer merely wants to do her work, but we do not know what her work is. All we know is that she does not like to make plans.

We would love to know whether she has always avoided making plans or whether she used to make plans, only to have people cancel on her. Obviously, the point is relevant. We do not know anything about it. Bad Friend seems to think that she possesses a character flaw. She ends her letter by saying that maybe she is just an asshole.

Here are some excerpts from the letter:

I love my friends. I know I’m fortunate to have people in my life whom I care about. Most of the time when we hang out, it’s fun. My secret is: I never want to see them.

Here’s how it goes: A friend texts me “Dinner Tuesday?” but Tuesday doesn’t work for me, so it turns into a spiral of scheduling that slowly sucks my lifeblood away, takes me to a dark and twisty GCal hell, and makes me wish I never met this person in the first place. I wish there were a way to say “I like you, but I do not want to make a plan with you. I don’t want to do it Tuesday, I don’t want to do it a week from Tuesday or a month from Tuesday. I want to continue to be friends and not make plans with you.”

When I get a text or an email from a friend asking me to get together my stomach drops. Not because I hate them, but because I don’t want to make a plan. Once someone suggests a Plan, you’re hooked: I can’t say “No” without suggesting another date, I can’t suggest another date without triggering a scheduling vortex, then I look ahead at my calendar and it’s all booked up with Plans with people I don’t even really want to see, and I can’t do my favorite thing, which is to be alone….

I don’t want to lose friendships. I just don’t want to have to be watering them, constantly making plans, in a state of constant social activity. I just want to exist without disappointing anybody. I want to love people but not contort myself to satisfy their arbitrary and inflated expectations of what a “social life” is.

Am I an awful person? How do I manage others’ expectations of me? Most important: How do I say no to drinks without offering an alternate date for drinks? How do I say “Can we not make this plan?” without sounding like an asshole? Or am I an asshole? Should I just accept that I’m an asshole?

Actually, she is an awful person. Or, at least, she is acting like one. We will consider her an awful person until we know more about how reliable her friends are. Conducting friendships and having a social life inevitably involves making plans and coordinating schedules. So does doing a job. Living with another human involves developing couples routines, a division of household labor, and extensive cooperation. If you are living with another person and are marching to  your own drum, you have a problem. And your relationship is in trouble.

Naturally, Polly feels oodles of empathy for Bad Friend. It beats analyzing the issue and groping toward a solution. Polly’s non solution is to be open and honest with her friends, to tell them that she hates to make plans, because they are far less important than her personal solipsistic Self. As Bad Friend knows, and as Polly does not seem to know, if she follows this course of action she will quickly find herself with fewer friends.

I have no real sympathy with someone who is likeable, who is friendly with other people, and who consistently disappoints them by refusing to make plans. 

Yet, you might have noticed that she is living in a one-directional world, where people reach out to her and she refuses to reach back. That is, she rejects their advances. One imagines that some kind of trauma is involved, because refusing to make plans is not normal.

How can she solve this problem, which is an extreme form of social anxiety? How about reaching out to some of these people, becoming the person who is initiating contact rather than the person who feels put upon by people who want to spend some time with her. It beats her current solution: serendipity and a throw of the dice. Someone who does not  want to make places to see friends is, properly speaking, a bad friend.

Today's Gender Neutral Navy


One is not sure what to make of this, so I will report it as written. An anonymous individual wrote to Robert Stacy McCain, author of a blog called The Other McCain to explain what happened when the U.S.S. Fitzgerald was hit by a Philippine container ship in June, 2017. (Via Instapundit) Seven sailors lost their lives in the accident.

The captain and two admirals were held responsible, but press reports failed to remark on the officers in charge at the time of the accident. Why do you suppose that that is?

Well, here are some excerpts from the letter:

… it was noteworthy that the captain and a couple of admirals were publically named, but not the actual officer in charge, the officer of the deck. (OOD) The other person who should have kept the Fitz out of trouble is the person in charge of the combat information center, the Tactical Action Officer. That individual is supposed to be monitoring the combat radar, which can detect a swimmer at a distance of two miles. 

Why were the OOD and the TAO not named?

The OOD was named Sarah, and the Tactical Action Officer was named Natalie, and they weren’t speaking to each other!!! The Tactical Action Officer would normally be in near constant communication with the OOD, but there is no record of any communication between them that entire shift! 

Another fun fact: In the Navy that won WWII, the damage control officers were usually some of the biggest and strongest men aboard, able to close hatches, shore up damaged areas with timbers, etc. The Fitz’s damage control officer was also a woman, and she never left the bridge. She handled the aftermath of the accident remotely, without lifting a finger herself! 

Look it up: The OOD was Sarah Coppock, Tactical Action Officer was Natalie Combs.

What did the Navy investigation conclude?


In an 11-hour hearing, prosecutors painted a picture of Lt. Irian Woodley, the ship’s surface warfare coordinator, and Lt. Natalie Combs, the tactical action officer, as failing at their jobs, not using the tools at their disposal properly and not communicating adequately. They became complacent with faulty equipment and did not seek to get it fixed, and they failed to communicate with the bridge, the prosecution argued. Had they done those things, the government contended, they would have been able to avert the collision.

Is there a deeper meaning? Does it have anything to do with diversity quotas?

That three of the officers — Coppock, Combs and Woodley — involved in this incident were all female suggests that discipline and training standards have been lowered for the sake of “gender integration,” which was a major policy push at the Pentagon during the Obama administration. It may be that senior officers, knowing their promotions may hinge on tenthusiastic support for “gender integration,” are reluctant to enforce standards for the women under their command.

Now that we know what happened and why it happened, we would also like to know whether the Navy has changed policy. Don’t count on it.

We note that the story has been carefully covered up by all media outlets.