Thursday, February 28, 2019

Here's the reason

Proposed reforms of Title IX sexual assault and harassment procedures from the Department of Education and Secretary Betsy Devos have gotten a lot of press for supposedly tilting the field in favor of the accused, vs. that of the accusers.  High on the list of complaints are that the DoEd would require hearings and the opportunity for cross examination.

Now, having heard a story or two of the antics of defense lawyers in cross examination, I can appreciate why many would despise and fear it.  Some people are, indeed, just total jerks, and that's putting it very mildly.  However, former Trump attorney Michael Cohen has inadvertently done us a service through his otherwise pathetic Congressional testimony by wandering into the standard trap of cross examination.

Specifically, while appearing to blatantly violate the tradition of confidentiality between lawyers and their clients--a confidentiality mirrored in attorney-client privilege--Cohen appears to have wandered into the standard trap set by hearings and cross examination; like all liars, he found it difficult to tell the same lie twice, and in doing so, a couple of Congressmen compared his testimony to his sentencing statements and decided to refer him to the DOJ for charges.

Now many will see this differently than Jim Jordan and all, but circling back to the topic of sexual assault, remember that most sexual assaults have precisely two witnesses, the accuser and the defendant.  Sometimes physical evidence makes eyewitness testimony less important, but as a rule, it comes down to that testimony.

And if you end the practice of hearings and cross examination, what you end up with is the danger spoken of in Proverbs 18:17; the first to state his case seems right until another comes forward and cross examines.  In other words, it tends to give the decision not to the right person, but to the best "BSer" or the person with the best political connections--the very picture of a kangaroo court, really.

I have some real concerns with the DeVos plan, starting with the notion that a university would not be required to take action for off-campus crimes, but requiring a hearing, cross examination, and a reasonable standard of proof are not among my concerns.

Brilliance out of Virginia

The First Lady of Virginia seems to be working extra-hard to help us forget how her husband tacitly endorsed infanticide in discussion over an abortion law under consideration in Richmond by handing out cotton balls to black students as they toured the governor's mansion. 

And across the Potomac in Maryland, a Prince George's County Democrat is under fire for using a racial slur in after-hours events. 

Finally, in a further demonstration of brilliance by Democrats, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has lashed out at those who pointed out the burger her chief of staff was eating--after she came out against the eating of beef.  For reference, there are some ecosystems that need to be grazed to be healthy, so I'm at a loss as to how responsibly grown beef is necessarily an environmental liability.  But that said, AOC clearly falls into the category of environmentalists who can't do math or science, so no surprise there. 

(or economics, and that's even funnier)

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Amtrak Donner Party

No, thankfully it didn't end in cannibalism, but the 182 passengers on the Amtrak Coast Starlight learned the hard way that, yes, Amtrak is indeed run by the government.  Stuck in Oakridge--about 15 miles from Eugene and Chemult and an abundance of help--people were left on the train for 36 hours, running out of necessities like diapers, feminine products, and the like.

Those who endorse more passenger rail and less air travel need to remember that this is, indeed, what we're signing up for. 

A striking confession

Now the Democrats (and a few Republicans, grrr....) who voted to kill a bill to enforce the 14th Amendment guarantee of due process to all born alive won't admit this, but I suspect that there is something bigger going on than just protection of a few abortionists who admit doing late term abortions.

Rather, I suspect that what's really going on is that late term abortions are in fact somewhat common even at abortuaries that don't officially do them, and moreover that a fair number of abortionists out there find it easier to end some infanticides outside the uterus because doing it inside increases the likelihood that they'll perforate the uterus and send the mother to the ER.

So if you make that unconfessed but widespread "hidden factory" a criminal offense, there are any number of horrors that will become known--and imperil the entire pro-abortion movement.

Pro-lifers, take heart.  We are seeing, implicitly, the real face of abortion, and if we keep our ears to the ground, we are going to eventually listen to someone who will confess what is really going on.  We are closing in on the end game of Roe v. Wade.

Friday, February 22, 2019

About that need for more gun laws

A study has found that fully 75% of Illinois FOID revocation notices are not returned with a signed affidavit that the firearms have been transferred/sold to parties who are eligible to own firearms.  Once again for the pro-gun-control left; before you tell me that we need new gun control laws, maybe we ought to start by enforcing the laws that we have.  Just like Parkland, just like Sutherland Springs, and just like any number of other cases where known criminals victimized the innocent with guns they never should have had.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Yes, I'm highly offended. Or not.

Minnesota Vikings QB Kirk Cousins has caused quite the furor by saying that he understood precisely why LeBron James left Cleveland about five minutes after he landed in Miami, and apparently my fellow Minnesotans--most of whom bemoan the weather from time to time--are upset because Cousins has become a true Minnesotan by doing the same.

I, of course, am highly offended that Cousins decided to take his talents to the Vikings instead of having a rendezvous with greatness at Halas Hall.  Or, given his fairly weak season last year, maybe I'm not that offended. 

Thursday, February 14, 2019

On shipping container homes

A lot of press has been given to the notion that, due to the structure already existing in a shipping container, that they are an ideal candidate for making small, affordable homes.  What is true is that they do keep out the elements, and that they are relatively affordable--you'll pay somewhere between $2000 and $6000 for a 40' long, 8' wide container. 

That noted, take a look at the below video to see why shipping containers really won't become the housing type of the future.  While the below is smarter than most tiny homes, not having a dedicated set of wheels below it, the builder ends up using some fairly specialized cutting tools to add doors and windows, and then ends up framing it in with standard 2x4 framing, reducing the home in size by about a foot in length and width. 

In other words, what he got for that $2k-6k was essentially siding, shingles, and...a likely horrendous water vapor issue.  Keep in mind that the outside of a shipping container keeps water out and in for a ~30 day transit by sea.  However, siding and Tyvek on a standard home are designed to let water vapor out to prevent mold in the walls.

To fix that, you've got to add another $1000 or so to upgrade standard fiberglass batting to closed cell foam.  In other words, the ~ $1000 he would have spent on shingles and siding is now replaced by $3000-$7000 for the container and specialized insulation. 

Worse yet, to get ~ 230 square feet of home, he's got an extra 30% of wall area (heat loss), a flat roof (water leakage again), and a choice of either a very low ceiling or low insulation in the attic--where it matters most.  There are great ways to make a compact home, but this isn't one of them.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019


...what, you might ask?  My thoughts with regards to the fact that apparently 225,000 "rape kits" (samples of evidence collected from scenes/persons of sexual assault) remain unprocessed, and in thousands of cases, evidence collected in such "kits" has been destroyed, thus making it impossible for victim and accused alike to get justice. 

I'd wondered what the numbers were, and thank you to Michelle Malkin for providing an estimate.  It also stands to reason that if we want to do something big regarding sexual assault, getting funds together to get these kits processed, and making the data available in a nationwide database available to police, prosecutors, and the lawyers for the accused or convicted, would be huge.  We can differ over some specifics like the structure of Title IX and the like, but hopefully we can all agree on this.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

too true

The Babylon Bee reports that Baptist churches are still holding fast to their theological distinctive of pretending not to drink.  Too true, as my wife responded to my suggestion that we try a "hot toddy" to deal with a nasty cold by mentioning that a bunch of her friends on Facebook--mostly fundamental Baptists--recommended exactly the same thing.  It also reminds me that when a former "pastor" of ours pretty much drove us to drink (by harassing us with KJVO materials and being basically legalistic), I insisted that the beer my dear wife had purchased for us be kept openly in the fridge, not hidden. 

Which is a long way of saying that I can go fishing with Gino without him finding another Baptist to come.  And if you're curious, I don't know for sure, but so far, so good.  A friend of ours from Liverpool claims that the germs get drunk and fall out of your nose while you're sleeping. 

Friday, February 08, 2019

Separated at birth

I was reading Powerline today, and it struck me that Congressman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has a lot of the same vocal characteristics as Lena Lamont from Singin' In The Rain.  Let's compare: here's Ocasio-Cortez as related on Twitter, and of course, the immortal Jean Hagen.

I think it's a match.  Ms. Ocasio-Cortez definitely has a voice made for silent movies or the newspapers.

Thursday, February 07, 2019

More pure genius

AAA has tested electric cars glorified golf carts at 20F to 95F, and found that when one actually uses heat and cooling to keep the occupants comfortable, range drops by 40% at 20F and by 17% at 95F.  One can only wonder what would have happened here in Minnesota, where low temperatures hit -30F recently. 

It illustrates the benefit of internal combustion; gasoline engines (a) do not need to carry both reagents around (gasoline and oxygen, oxygen is about 2/3 of the weight) and (b) the waste heat from an internal combustion engine is actually quite useful whenever the mercury goes below 60 or so.

It also illustrates the deceptiveness of the EPA, which calculates "MPG-e" values which do not count the power added efficiency (typically 30-35%) of a power plant.  So when you see 90 MPG-e, it really means at best equivalent to 30mpg, and in winter, we're really talking about 18mpg on average-with excursions down to ~ 12-15mpg in Minnesota in February.

Just a little bit worse than my 1997 GMC Sierra with 5.7liter (350 cubic inch) V-8.  And we haven't even started to discuss the environmental cost of the batteries--about an additional 0.1 kG of carbon dioxide per mile driven.  Once again, "environmentalist" all too often means "person who cannot do math or science."

Brilliance in design

I heard about this while driving to work this morning--evidentially some geniuses at Gucci produced a 689-pound ($893) "balaclava sweater" with the balaclava (face mask) portion printed to resemble caricatures of black people from 100 years back.  Now for starters, you've got the obvious objection, which is "does no one at Gucci remember why this kind of thing was obnoxious?".  Apparently the answer to that one was "yes".

Also amusing to me, as someone who wears a balaclava at times to deal with Minnesota winters, is the fact that when it gets good and cold, one's nose runs, which puts a fair amount of boogers on the inside of the balaclava.  Then, when you come inside, you of course will need to either fold the balaclava down around your neck (exposing the boogers for all to see) or squish it down around your neck, sliming your whole neck with your own snot. 

Best of all, since it's 100% wool, it's probably dry clean only.  We are talking serious genius in design here.  It reminds me of this little skit.

Ford vs. Tyson

No, not a boxing match from the 1980s (I don't see that Mike Tyson ever fought anyone with that name), but rather a comparison of the sexual assault allegations of Christine Blasey Ford vs. that of Vanessa Tyson.

Things that are the same include one place of work (Stanford University), political implications, and even the legal firm handling both clients.  That last bit does raise the question of whether they're simply good at what they do, or whether they're driven.  But that noted, there are some huge differences in the stories that push Tyson's story much closer to "enough evidence to arrest" or "enough evidence to indict".  Let's list them.

  • Tyson is accusing a fellow Democrat.  There is no obvious political "hit" to be had here.
  • Tyson is not waiting for an opportune time for a political "hit", and is not working with Dianne Feinstein Nifong.
  • Tyson's story is partially corroborated by the accused, who admits some sex act took place.
  • Tyson has named time, year, setting, and place of the crime.
  • Tyson has not named witnesses who denied ever seeing such a thing.
  • Tyson has not conducted an inadmissible polygraph exam, then refused to provide the records of that exam.  Nor has she referred to therapy records and then refused to provide them to investigators.
  • Tyson has not lied about being afraid of flying, or about an extra front door in her home.
Now the cases may become far more similar as things unfold, and quite frankly I'd love to see Tyson file charges in Massachusetts before the statute of limitations expires this year so that the matter can be handled in a real court of law instead of the court of public opinion.  As things stand now, however, I've got far more confidence in Tyson's story than I did in Ford's for these reasons.

The question, then, is whether there is meat to the story, or whether the law firm has simply gotten smarter.  Again, I'd like to see the case in the hands of a Massachusetts prosecutor.

Tuesday, February 05, 2019

Yes, treat it as a criminal matter

I realize I'm being a bit repetitive here, but I've just seen some more evidence that the recommendation I'm giving to children's workers at my church--take it to the police because they have huge resources, subpoena power, the capability of collecting physical evidence, and finally because if it's in their hands, they take the blame when something is dropped--really ought to be applied fairly uniformly at colleges, high schools, and universities.

How so?  Well, Title IX actually reads this way:  No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.

The argument for including discipline for sexual assault and harassment under this law is simply that, since colleges do have student codes of conduct, that they ought to take action regarding sexual assaults and such committed/alleged by students.  So far, so good.

Now the question is, then, absent subpoena power, collection of physical evidence, and quite frankly experience, whether the schools have the expertise to do this well.  Well, my alma mater and her archrival, the University of Michigan, have shown that their best and brightest seem to have slightly less expertise in this area than a small town police department.

How so?  Well, Michigan first; they've responded to a court decision requiring cross examination of accusers to be permitted by requiring that the accused do the cross examination himself, a violation of best practice in the area that goes back at least to my childhood, not to mention the proverb "A man who acts as his own lawyer has a fool for a client."  Take a bow, Ann Arbor.

Not to be outdone, Michigan State has decided that their response to the Title IX changes is going to be to deny the need for cross examination at all, as if the (Constitutionally required) right of confronting evidence does not matter.  They've also upped the ante by claiming that "preponderance of evidence" is an adequate protection of the rights of the accused, as if activists in the Title IX office wouldn't tend to tip that one way or the other. 

The upshot of all this?  If schools are going to ignore legal best practices and Circuit court rulings, some court in the future is extremely likely to decide "given this abysmal level of competence, maybe we'd better get rid of the regulation in toto."  There would be great humor value in this if healing for the abused wasn't at stake.  But it is.

Again, let's treat this as the criminal matter that it is. 

Friday, February 01, 2019

Heads are spinning?

Apparently the latest debacle for my alma mater is a DoEd report noting various violations of the Clery Act, a federal law which requires reporting of various crimes, especially sexual assault.  Now that's a big deal, as at its heart, the Clery Act simply requires taking all those Title IX reports and making a database.  Ignore the Title IX reports in the Clery Act compliance documentation, and you're in trouble.

But that noted, let's walk through things.  You've got Title IX, the Clery Act, other federal regulations and agencies, state mandatory reporting laws and agencies, and more.  A picture of "how to report" at MSU, moreover, detailed dozens of offices where one could report things, and....the end result is that you've got so many hands in the pot and so many rules with which to comply, heads ought to spin.  It's no way to get justice for those who have been hurt, whether by real sexual assault or false reports.

Once again, it looks like a huge simplification of the Title IX/Clery/etc. apparatus needs to occur.  Yes, train staffers to take allegations seriously, and with the exception of student behavior code violations that are not criminal, that generally will mean informing the person that the complaint is a criminal one and ought to be taken to the police--and that the university will suspend the accused when an arrest or indictment occurs, and expel upon conviction.  "Where to report" would also be a simple document; you can talk to any full time employee of the university, who will generally tell you to talk to the police and offer to go with you.

Worth noting is that that plan eliminates about 98% of the kerfuffle over the DoEd's plans to revamp Title IX regulations.  If we want to take sexual assault seriously, let's take it seriously already. 

More on the pro-abortion left

And yes, I am saying pro-abortion, not pro-choice, and this interesting column by the Indiana AG notes why.  New York is allowing non-doctors to perform them, removing virtually all restrictions on why they may be performed, and a lot more.  Since I have personal evidence that getting a few signatures for an abortion in extreme cases ought not be difficult--doctors who recommended supplemental screens for my wife were also on the board of local crisis pregnancy centers--this is clearly about abortion for any reason until the day the child might be born, and really after in some cases.  It is also, as I've noted before, about aligning the cost structure of an abortion clinic with the fiscal realities, as nurse's pay is about a third that of an obstetrician's. 

Never mind the little detail that one just might want someone in attendance who was skilled at suturing and such in case something went wrong with a prenatal infanticide.   Are these people about women's rights?  Let's ask that after the first few incidents where a mother is rushed to the ER when the nurse in attendance can't stop the bleeding.