Monday, January 22, 2018

Time to go, Ms. Simon

One of the big questions about the continued investigation into Larry Nassar's crimes is what extent of contrition ought to be required of the national gymnastics union and Michigan State University, both of whom employed Nassar for a long time and did (or did not do) investigations of Nassar's behavior.  And along those lines, it was the right thing when the board of the gymnastics union resigned soon after walking away from Karolyi Ranch, where much of the abuse occurred. 

Along the same lines, MSU President Lou Anna Simon needs to resign or be fired for her role in this.   Some specific things that happened on her watch include her failure to review Nassar's Title IX report in 2014, ordering MSU athletes not to speak of Nassar in 2017, and allowing Patrick Fitzgerald to wrap up his investigation without filing a written report--and then claiming that she could simply accept his conclusions without a review of the data.

All of this indicates something very simple; she's simply not taking sexual abuse seriously, and for that, she needs to go.   The selection of Fitzgerald is especially problematic for me, as his history includes continuing the Valerie Plame investigation nearly two years after he learned no crime had been committed, as well as his office ending the investigation of Rod Blagojevich just when the list of names of bidders for Barack Obama's Senate seat would have gotten very, very interesting.  One has to wonder whether Fitzgerald's history of bending with the winds of opinion was seen by Simon as an advantage in his investigation at MSU.  

Whatever their motivations, he certainly pulled a neat little stunt by not filing a full report--it reminds me of something a mentor once told me; if you don't document it, you didn't do it as far as he was concerned.  My sentiments exactly.  President Simon, it's time for you to go.  You go with her, Mr. Fitzgerald. 

Friday, January 19, 2018

If only it were just California

California AG (and their legislature and governor, arguably) present a dilemma to businesses there; comply with federal law, or with state law, by criminalizing cooperation with ICE.  I would dare suggest, given the supremacy clause in the Constitution and the legality of federal immigration law, that we might do well to throw Becerra, Governor Brown, and the entire legislature into jail (at least those who voted for these laws) into jail for obstruction of justice.

Whatever one thinks of immigration law, I dare say this is not the way to go about change!

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Nassar-Weinstein; how it happened

It strikes me that some of the reasons for the crimes of Larry Nassar and Harvey Weinstein remaining hidden for so long have to do with the nature of acting and gymnastics.  For my sports--cross country and track--my interactions with the coaches were limited, as I would go out, warm up, do a workout, and go home.  As long as I was running to my ability, feedback was limited.

Contrast that with gymnastics and acting, where of course the entire scoring system is on how things look, and where the interaction is constant and intensive.  Add to that the pressure to excel, and you have a recipe for a degree of submission to heinous acts that I can not imagine. 

That noted, it's not the only thing going on.  I just watched the impact testimony of a non-gymnast abused by Nassar, and it turns out she told at least half a dozen people, all of whom dropped the ball.  In the same way, my alma mater had 14 people tell....and dropped the ball.  (#NotProudToBeASpartanRightNow)

Lesson to be had; even if your group is doing an activity that can lead to extreme submission by participants, you can limit damage if only you make sure you don't drop the ball.  Also investigate whether your activity really needs that degree of submission. 

A story from the Peace Corps

Former Peace Corps employee Karin McQuillan gives us her recollection of her time in Senegal, in which she establishes very clearly that the part of Senegal she knew quite literally qualified as a s-hole, and what she saw among refugees from that part of the world in Paris--it was to bring that place to Western Europe, more or less.  I also remember a friend from church noting that when she went to an African country with her husband, her job there was to boil water and seriously wash everything they ate.   For reference, these friends were not white and I'd have to guess were also not Republican, either.

More or less, what's being said is that the country doesn't need more Peace Corps volunteers, and they certainly don't need foreign aid and visas to the U.S.  What they need is missionaries who will preach the Decalogue to them, and note that 3500 years ago, Moses told Israel to keep their waste far away from their drinking water. 

Wednesday, January 17, 2018


Apparently the number of confirmed victims of Larry Nassar is up to 140.  At a certain point, you've got to wonder which of his patients he didn't molest.  Ick. 

That noted, Nassar has a life sentence, effectively, and there isn't that much more society can do to him.  The lessons we need to learn here are, really, how to break into the OODA loop of the next guy at the institutions we cherish.  How is it that one guy molested a huge portion of the young ladies who came into his exam room without anyone taking effective action for 20 years?  How does one create a culture in a vulnerable area--Sunday School, schools, clinics, etc..--where it will be unthinkable for a person to sit on evidence as appears to have happened at my alma mater?

Update: apparently my alma mater is not alone in this.  Several schools have hired this woman to administrative posts, including posts where she had authority over writing sexual harassment policies, despite pleading no context in a sexual abuse case.  One would hope that being on Megan's List would be a bar to university employment, but apparently not.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Well said

Actress Keira Knightley comments that she doesn't like doing modern films because "the female characters nearly always get raped", and further comments that modern scripts are getting better--because "I'm suddenly being sent scripts with present-day women who aren't raped in the first five pages and aren't simply there to be the loving girlfriend or wife." 

We might infer that the age that gave us Mr. Darcy was better at feminism--real feminism that actually protects women--than the era after the sexual revolution for some odd reason.  The application is left as an exercise for the reader, of course.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Coming next, the Ritz in Dallas?

Five men armed with axes and two handguns have apparently stolen $5.6 million worth of jewelry.  Now call me weird, but I've got a hunch that if they'd tried to rob a Ritz hotel in Texas, Nevada, or Florida, they'd have likely gotten their Darwin awards instead. 

Tuesday, January 09, 2018

Stick a fork in it....

....the Mueller investigation is likely done.  How do we know this? 

Simple.  "Anonymous sources" are claiming that Mueller wants to interview President Trump.  Since you cannot be compelled to testify against yourself, this simply means that Mueller is fishing for a "lying to investigators" claim, which correspondingly indicates that he doesn't have any clear data linking Trump to a real crime.  Worth noting is that by the time President Clinton was compelled to submit to an interview, fifteen people had been convicted of Whitewater-related crimes--very real ones, not "lying to investigators."  In other words, Ken Starr's investigation had legs that Bob Mueller's clearly does not.

Hopefully the real investigation--into the justifications for the investigations starting in the first place--will get some legs and we'll have some fun watching the fur fly.

Monday, January 08, 2018

Happy Elvis' Birthday!

If wiki is correct, he would have been 83 today if he'd lived.  And in honor of his too short life, and in honor of his somewhat odd culinary loves, I decided to have some fun.

You see, apparently his favorite sandwich was peanut butter and banana fried in butter.  Now what does that sound like to you?  Of course; brioche!  So I started with mashed banana in lieu of some of the milk, and substituted peanut butter (which is mostly fat anyways) for half the butter, and....

Suffice it to say it tastes even better than it looks.

Friday, January 05, 2018

A possible good use for electric cars

Obviously, if you've read my work, I'm no fan of electric cars, especially not when my pockets are being picked to buy them for people who are richer than I.  That said, I can think of one area where it might be smart to use them; police work.

Think about it.  Cruisers typically spend most of their time with the engine idling, punctuated by often-high-speed bursts to apprehend speeders and the like.  The engine idles simply because you want to keep lubricants circulating and (more importantly) the officer comfortable.

Well, with an electric car, you keep the officer warm with a seat heater (or chiller, they exist) run off the battery, and with zero warmup time, many electric cars can go 0-60 quicker than anything short of a supercar.  They might not be a good choice for, say, rural Nebraska, where officers might indeed drive more than a few hundred miles in a day, but for ordinary traffic enforcement, where an officer might drive 100 miles or less in a day, it would be just the ticket. 

Moreover, if indeed a typical black & white is idling most of the day, I would guess you could get the price premium for an electric car back quickly simply from gasoline savings. 

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Signs of hope in North Korea

The number of soldiers who have defected across the highly militarized and defended DMZ has shot up by a factor of three to 15 this year.   It's not an avalanche, but the dreamer in me wonders if the time will come soon for our President to do this. 

And then maybe at Club Gitmo and Caracas, too.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017


If there is a better case for defunding Amtrak than the recent crash in Washington state, I don't know what is.  The first run of the new route, which should have had some excitement about it, had 13 cars (max capacity 500-1000 people most likely) with 80 people on board, and the engineer ignored two speed limit signs to blaze through a 30mph curve at 80mph, killing several people.  Plus, the new line cost $180 million, which is quite a lot per rider, to put it mildly.

 I don't know what led to this, but part of the issue might simply be that driving a locomotive is probably far less engaging than driving a car or flying a plane, and boredom simply overcomes the signaling.  Either that, or Amtrak neglected proper signaling on the line.

It suggests as well that there are limits to the effectiveness of error proofing unless we want the machines to take over completely.  As a guy who still drives a truck with a clutch, I've got to say no, thank you.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

The real issue with the Mueller investigation... not that he's hired a bunch of people who contributed to Hilliary's campaign or are otherwise obviously biased towards the left, but rather that key people in his investigation are spending large amounts of work time on politics, indicating that they are not only biased, but are also incapable of addressing allegations and evidence fairly. 

Which suggests that not only Peter Strzok and Lisa Page ought to be under scrutiny, but also Robert Mueller and Rod Rosenstein.  To ignore obvious conflicts of interest like this is something taught, really, in the first year of law school--and does not need to be taught to many even before they enter law school.  Time to drain the swamp.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Why politics is so brutal these days

The Alabama Senate race provides an excellent picture.  Prior to the allegations against Roy Moore, he was up by about ten points....after they came out, his opponent was up by about the same....but a few weeks later, Moore was again up by about ten points....and apparently now, for reasons I do not entirely understand, Doug Jones is up by the same margin again.

Whatever you think of either candidate, the simple fact is that if voters are that fickle and easily manipulated, the political process will feature a lot of manipulation along the lines of what we've seen.  And you know what?  We deserve it if we won't critically evaluate allegations in light of their sources, timing, and other verification or refutation.  Sad to say, it's biting the whole country on the rear, and it's exactly how "the swamp" appears to be holding its own.

A bit of a side note

I am not one to compliment Chicago much these days, with corrupt government and inept sports teams and the like, but having spent last Saturday there with the family at the Christkindlmarkt , two blocks west of the Marshall Field's flagship store, and having enjoyed lunch at Geno's, I must confess that no other city I've been in does winter style like Chicago--bright scarves, etc..

To make up for that, I got to spend about an hour in scenic downtown Gary due to mechanical problems on the South Shore Line.  Oh well, the more things change.....and it gave me time to digest my pizza on the way home, too.