I came across the issue of Modern Cat magazine shown below in a bookstore yesterday. It brings several questions to mind:
Are there such things as post-modern cats?
Does anyone not know how to pet a cat?
If people don’t know what kind of cats they have, can a quiz help them to overcome this ignorance?
How do the magazine’s editors know what my cats want, when I don’t know what my cats want?
The fighting in Syria has created a “humanitarian crisis of epic proportions,” says U.S. Representative Michael McCaul, Chair of the Homeland Security Committee in the U.S. House of Representatives. McCaul asserts that the surge of refugees into Europe is due to “the inability to remove Assad from power and also the rise of ISIS. That’s why these refugees are fleeing.”
There is no doubt that many of the refugees from Syria and and Iraq are fleeing because of the rise of the Islamic State (ISIS), which was enabled by the botched U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003. The Islamic State has been responsible for terrible atrocities, such as campaigns of ethnic cleansing that lead entire towns of people to flee for their lives.
On the other hand, according to a new Amnesty International report, some of the groups that Michael McCaul wants the United States to send more money and weapons to have also been committing terrible atrocities, such as campaigns of ethnic cleansing that lead to entire towns of people to flee for their lives. Specifically, the Partiya Yekîtiya Demokrat, a Kurdish group that is part of a coalition that is being supported by the U.S. government, has been forcing non-Kurds to become refugees, demolishing entire villages, and threatening non-combatant villagers if they do not leave. The Partiya Yekîtiya Demokrat has been reported to tell peaceful villagers that U.S. aircraft will be called in to bomb them in their homes if they do not leave.
The Islamic State is certainly responsible for much of the refugee crisis. However, Michael McCaul is being dishonest when he suggests that the Islamic State is the only reason refugees are fleeing Syria and Iraq. In fact, Representative McCaul’s plans to increase shipments of weapons and money to militant groups allied with the U.S. in the region is likely to make the crisis worse, increasing rather than decreasing the number of refugees leaving the area.
This mess was started years ago when saber-rattling pro-war members of Congress began depicting one group in Iraq as the epitome of evil, and that group’s opponents as noble “freedom fighters”. Now, those same politicians are describing the “freedom fighters” as the epitome of evil, and they’ve picked out new armed groups to be celebrated as “freedom fighters”.
Their policy of pumping weapons and money into the region, along with U.S. military power, has been a terrible failure. We must deal with the mess that American policy has created in Iraq and Syria, but we must not do so by repeating the failed policies of the past.
Shadows of future climate troubles are being cast at increasing length, with once-in-a-thousand-year rains in South Carolina, an immense El Nino weather pattern in the Pacific, and news that the ice sheets of Antarctica are likely to catastrophically collapse before the end of the century. No one weather event can be definitively tied in a causal way to climate change, but the growing number and intensity of meteorological extremes can.
So, what are the major presidential candidates of our time saying about environmental issues? The following chart shows the relative emphasis of the top candidates on the environment, displaying the number of times the different candidates use the word “environment” on their campaign web sites.
Ben Carson comes in with a single use of the word “environment”, but it’s in order to talk about the “healthcare environment”, not to address any matters of ecology. Donald Trump mentions “environment” when he blames the Environmental Protection Agency for industrial pollution by corporations.
Bernie Sanders mentions “environment” 265 times on his campaign web site, and writes, “The United States must lead the world in tackling climate change, if we are to make certain that this planet is habitable for our children and grandchildren. We must transform our energy system away from polluting fossil fuels, and towards energy efficiency and sustainability. Millions of homes and buildings need to be weatherized, and we need to greatly accelerate technological progress in wind and solar power generation.”
Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein mentions “environment” 36 times on her web site, but also talks about ecological issues without using the word “environment”. She pledges to, “Lead on a global treaty to halt climate change. End destructive energy extraction: fracking, tar sands, offshore drilling, oil trains, mountaintop removal, and uranium mines. Protect our public lands, water supplies, biological diversity, parks, and pollinators. Label GMOs, and put a moratorium on GMOs and pesticides until they are proven safe. Protect the rights of future generations.”
Hillary Clinton mentions “environment” just 26 times on her campaign web site, though her campaign promises that “In the coming months, Hillary will lay out a comprehensive energy and climate agenda to help America transition to a clean energy economy and meet the global climate crisis.”
You may recall that September 2014 was the single hottest September around the globe in the entire global temperature record going back to 1880. But what about September 2015? September 2015 takes its place just behind September 2014 as the second hottest September in the 135-year-old global temperature record, according to NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies.
August 2015? The hottest August on record.
July 2015? The second hottest July on record, behind 2011.
June 2015? The hottest June on record.
Summer 2015 overall? The hottest summer on record.
Getting the picture? How about another picture:
Take a walk outside. Look at all the people who are younger than 39. Imagine the world in which they’ve grown up. Now confront this reality about the world in which they’ve grown up. Every single September they have lived in has been globally warmer than the 1951-1980 average.
This is what global warming looks like.
In the first decade of the 21st Century, there was a great deal of hubbub about the declaration of “hate crimes” in national politics. The argument at the time was that federal hate crime laws were needed to protect the American population from acts of violence motivated by prejudice.
Federal arrest data released by the FBI this month shows that in the 50 United States and Washington DC, there were just 31 federal hate crime arrests in a population of 315,202,254 in the year 2014. That’s less than 1 federal hate crime arrest per 10 million Americans.
In the meantime, the volume of news stories in the United States regarding hate crimes (surely among the most sensational items for news fodder available) falls far below the volume of news stories about murder and assault (Source: Google Trends):
If hate crimes laws were so necessary to keep our nation from falling apart, why are hate crimes arrests and news stories so infrequent since hate crime laws were passed?
It is demonstrably untrue that more people are killed each year with fists and hammers than guns. The FBI’s Crime in the United States Report expanded homicide data in Table Number 8 (source | source) demonstrates that firearms in general kill many more people than are killed by blunt objects (clubs, hammers, etc.) or the use of a killer’s own body as a weapon (hands, fists, feet, etc.):
With that in mind, how can you possibly make people think that more people are killed with fists and hammers than guns every year in the United States? Why, it’s easy. Just follow these three steps.
Step 1: Pick a subset of guns, not all guns. According to the FBI, the following are the numbers of homicides carried out with different kinds of guns, using the FBI’s own reporting categories:
And the following are the numbers of homicides carried out with blunt objects and “personal weapons” (meaning the assailant’s own body):
Well, that comparison doesn’t look so good for guns, does it? Hey, I know: why don’t we pick the two specific categories of firearms that are least responsible for homicides, and leave out the set — handguns — responsible for about 90% of firearm homicides where the type is mentioned? That’ll fix the statistics!
Step 2: Ignore the “firearm, type not stated” category.
Of course, there’s an additional problem: each year, anywhere from 1,600 to 1,900 gun homicides are reported to the feds with the type of gun not stated in the report (see the light blue category in the second chart above). If just 10% of the “type not stated” firearms were either rifles or shotguns — roughly proportional to the frequency of their appearance when the type is stated — then that would make the number of rifle and shotgun killings greater than the number of blunt-object and assailant-body killings.
That wouldn’t look good in the story, either. Hey, I know: why don’t we just ignore the “type not stated” category entirely?
Step 3: Rely on your readers to make the casual assumption that the statistic refers to all guns.
Do all that and you can make the claim…
“With newer crime statistics now out for 2012, Breitbart News can report that more people are killed each year with fists and hammers than are killed with rifles or shotguns.” — Awr Hawkins, Breitbart News
Congratulations. All that’s left is to let your careless readers assume that the already truth-light claim about “rifles or shotguns” is equivalent to a claim about all guns. They’ll lose the fists and the other blunt instruments, too: just plain “hammers” is much more dramatic. All over the internet, your followers will post messages like these:
“Far more people are killed by hammers in the US than by guns. When are we going to stop this senseless slaughter and outlaw hammers?” (MarketForum)
“If guns are inherently unsafe then so are hammers. Hammers were originally made to kill things. As man evolved he found other uses for them, just like guns. But their origins were used to kill things. Same with clubs. A tool for killing. But you take the same club and hit a baseball with it suddenly it goes from a inherently unsafe killing machine to a object that provides us a sport to play. The object has no moral’s or unsafe or safe features, and to attach moral’s, etc.. to an object and not the person is intellectually dishonest. More people are killed by hammers and bats than by the weapons the anti-gunners are trying to ban.” (DanCarlin.com)
“Obama and all those pushing gun confiscation in our government are lying to the American people about what their real motives are. They know that more people are killed by hammers, knives, ball bats and many other methods they are killed by guns.” (WND)
“You know that more people are killed by hammers than are killed by guns, right? Well, would society function fine without hammers?” (HotAir)
“Far more people are killed by hammers and blunt instruments than guns. Are you going to cry deeply and longingly to ban hammers?” (RefugeForums)
It doesn’t matter that this isn’t actually true. The point is that thanks to your obfuscation people will absolutely incorrectly, but very loudly, insist that hammers and fists kill more people than guns do.
Your next mission, should you choose to accept it, is to recharacterize tobacco as a natural health supplement. Ready? 1… 2…
You’re Pastor John Hagee.
You’ve just spent over a year shooting video after video making prophecies . You’ve been making big profits selling over a million of your CDs and DVDs and Books declaring that by the lunar eclipse of September 27, 2015 “Something is About to Change,” something big that you declare in italics are “the signs” of the Bible foretelling the apocalypse. Apparently, after the apocalypse Hagee Ministries will still need a large bank balance:
You’re Pastor John Hagee. It’s October now, past the last date of the last of the four “Blood Moons” you said would herald “the signs” of End Times. But no apocalypse. And nothing, nothing really, has changed at all. Except we have new shows on NBC now. There is that.
You’re Pastor John Hagee. So what are you going to do?
Not slink off into the shadows.
Not return all the money you made off a false promise.
No, no. You’re Pastor John Hagee, not some everyday plebe. You’re going to sell your new book on TV making new unproven declarations:
The new predictions of apocalypse are retailing for $90, $15, or $42 (plus shipping and handling), depending on how you want to best subsidize Pastor John Hagee’s next fine meal:
Are you buying?
In the wake of majority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s decision to drop out of the running for the position of Speaker of the House, Marvin the Martian has declared that he is mulling a campaign for the post.
“It is true that I am not a registered Republican, not an elected member of Congress, not an American citizen, not a human being, not a resident of the planet Earth, and that I am wanted for the attempted incineration of Bugs Bunny. Who have the House Republicans come up with to run for Speaker, though? Lynn Westmoreland? Who is that?”
Marvin made his statement while addressing reporters from atop the Capitol Dome, holding a red flag in his hand, shouting, “I claim this political institution in the name of Mars!”
Forbes, one of the central arbiters of conventional business culture, has declared that, in business, if you’re 5 minutes early for an appointment, you are on time, but if you’re on time for an appointment, you’re late.
The implications of this idea are obvious. If you meet expectations, you’re a disgraceful slacker. If you don’t work late hours, you’re not committed to your job. If you don’t use your own money and other resources to make up for gaps in the office, you’re not a team player.
What’s Forbes going to tell us next? That if we haven’t given a pint of blood every week to our corporate owners, we’re parasites on the system?
There are hardly any restrictions to big money flows in political campaigns left, but one of the few remaining is this: the unlimited cash sources called “Super PACs” cannot coordinate with presidential campaigns. They must operate independently.
The non-profit Center for Public Integrity has released a report uncovering a direct connection between the Presidential campaign of Jeb Bush and the Super PAC that fictively works independently on his behalf, called Right to Rise. Public Integrity documents that the Super PAC Right to Rise is sending payments to a mysterious company whose sole known address is a post office box. Who owns that box? None other than Heather Larrison, the national finance director for Bush’s official presidential campaign.
In a nation run by laws, there would be investigations and arrests. In a nation run by money, there would be little notice. Watch and see what kind of nation we live in.
USA Today shares a useful new piece of technology…
… for people too drunk to count or with such a large bounty that they don’t need to count. Behold the Internet of Useless Things.